Fire Mountain is an Alabama-based band that plays great folk songs. These songs go from sweet, soft melancholic songs like my favourite "Fade" to the more up-tempo almost a little rockin' song "Ghosts". But basically, this 6-track EP is just beautiful from start to finish. They have named several influences/comparisations on their website (Fleet Foxes, Iron & Wine, Ray LaMontagne are among the list) and I can relate to all of them, yet not at all. I can hear some influences of these acts in their songs, but mostly Fire Mountain just sounds like Fire Mountain. Which I think is a great achievement. Because Fire Mountain is a great band. And Off The Dust is a great EP!
AFKA is Dutch singer-songwriter Aafke with musical assistance from producer Adriano DiTamorra. Her strong voice and the dreamy synths works very nice together, really special is the addition of more traditional instruments like guitar and horns. It makes this debut 5-track EP (which you can hear and download for free via the website) stand out and become extremely pleasant to hear on any moment of the day. Last night it was the last thing I heard before I fell into a sizzling coma, this morning I drank my 1st cup of coffee to it and both moments where equally enjoyable.
Favourite track is the collaboration with rapper Andy Smart, listen to that below. Looking forward to hearing more from this cool project, this EP is very promising.
Really enjoying this sweet track by Drew Smith these last few days. It's relaxing, mesmerizing and perfect for playing on and on. Also works very well taking turns with the new Matt Stalker & Fables-single i'll be spreading the love for tomorrow (so keep an eye out).
Drew Smith has recently released his latest album The Secret Languages and although I have to admit I've given it only one spin so far, it sounds good. I will definately listen to it some more later this extremely busy week (got a hot date tomorrow night, who knows what'll happen) and maybe get back on it, but this track is worth hearing. You can also download it for free via his website of bandcamp-page. And while you're there, listen to the rest of the album and let me know what you think!
Yes, I said it. Masterpiece. This little album contains everything a great album needs. After the strong opener "Wishing Well", which is pretty much just beats and her great voice, she comes with my favourite song of the album "Call Me Beautiful", which is tender and dark. Both songs are miles apart, but they work very well next to each other. After these 2 highlights the album continues on its high level, and after only 22 minutes and a bit it's over. But in those 22 minutes and a bit you've heard nothing less than only great music. All songs show a very different side of this talented singer, but they are consistent in one thing: they're great!
Don't miss out on this album, you'll regret it. Get it for a few Dollars via her bandcamp or get a vinyl copy through her website.
Based on the vid you wouldn't expect it, but Field Mouse is a 4-piece band from Brooklyn, New York. This track "Glass" is a fine example of what this band can do, they create dreamy synth-driven pop tracks that are extremely pleasant to hear and easy to sing along to. Can't really name anything that this makes me think of, but at the same time I feel extremely comfortable with this song, as if I've known it for 10 years and heard it 100s of times before. I guess it's just thát good!
You can download it for free via their bandcamp-page, where you can also hear the more up-tempo, but equally cool, track "You Guys Are Gonna Wake Up My Mom". Which gets better everytime I hear it. Later this month they'll be releasing their 1st single. Gotta keep up with this great band!
Maggie8 have created their own genre. There is nothing (at least that I know of) that compares to this great EP. They combine Indian music with more traditional Western folk, although the Western influences are just an addition to the Hindi sounds they create. It is undoubtfully original and extremely addictive. It is impossible not to move to these 5 songs.
Some EPs or albums are just so good from start to finish that it is impossible to point out my favourite track. This is such an EP. At first I wanted to add just the 5 individual tracks without any words in between, cuz the great music speaks for itself. But then I dediced this great release new release (January '12) does deserve some written love. "This Charming Lady" is a very rare EP, but in all the best ways you can imagine. Listen for yourself and let this great album take you to a party you've probably never been to..
Second Dutch band in a short period of time that I am truly enjoying (and there's at least one more Dutch item coming later this month) is from this Haarlem-based band with the incredible name All shall be well (and all shall be well and all manner of things shall be well). They play instrumental songs that easily last up to 7 minutes, and this 5-track album clocks a total of 40 minutes. With nothing less than an epic 12-minute closing track, which is good as it is long as you can hear for yourself by clicking the track above. I never really enjoy writing down things about the style of a band, but I guess this April 2011-release is best described as trippy, ambient progrock.
My favourite track is right in the middle and has the fine title "History Is Ever Ours For The Reliving", it is mesmerizing from the start and builts up to a Grande Finale lasting well over 2 minutes. I find myself playing air guitar and air drums to those minutes everytime. As well as I keep trying to turn up the stereo, which is impossible, as it's already set to maximum (my poor neighbours).
You can download their debut album ROODBLAUW for free via their bandcamp-page. Or if you are really loving the shit out of this great album (like I do), go support them by getting the limited edition booklet & cd-version (like I just did). Great! Fucking! Record!
In December there was the series of interviews to look back on 2011 with the bands/artists that made my musical year. I really enjoyed that and got a lot of great responses from readers and artists. So I figured, why not continue with this in a more relaxed pace (I was actually stressing myself out a bit in December) with the very finest of artists that I discover this year. The best album the year has brought me so far is Bitter Lullabies by Bridie Jackson and The Arbour. Not a day goes by without listening to it and not a second of it goes by unenjoyed (is that even a word? probably not..). It would only make sense that I would talk to Bridie Jackson. Read all about her here below, while you give that beautiful album a spin.
When and how did you first become interested in music? Who were your earliest (musical) influences? I was lucky enough to grow up in a very musical household- my dads a composer, and he always encouraged me to be creative, play a range of instruments and I always sang in choirs and played in orchestras, so I guess those were my formative influences. I've also always loved Billie Holiday, just in terms of the passion and viscerality she bought to her performance, and I'm a complete Brian Wilson disciple when it comes to harmony construction and melody.
What kind of music do you listen to nowadays? I'm quite fickle musically, and always on the look out for new bands to listen to. Currently, I'm listening to The National, Raised by Swans and Antony and The Johnsons. Also waiting eagerly for the next Bat For Lashes album. I also love a bit of Stevie Wonder.
Was there a certain moment or experience that made you decide to make a career in music? Not really a specific moment, it's always been a focus.
Do you consider Bridie Jackson & The Arbour a solo or a group project? We're definately a group. We work as a unit and make decisions about the future of the band together. Currently I write all the songs but we arrange them collaboratively and everyone has a creative input.
How would you define the music style that you play? I have no idea. its definately laced with a range of influences when you combine the different styles we all like to play.
How was the band formed? It used to be just me, but then I discovered having other people involved was infinately more enjoyable. People have come and gone over the years, but I think it works as a band much better than it ever did as a solo project.
You wrote all the songs yourself, how does the process of writing a song work for you? I am not a very prolific writer and am always impressed by those that are. I write about 3 songs a year, although I've written two already this year so perhaps I'm improving.. Or maybe the rest of the year will be creatively arid. Generally, I will get a line in my head, or an interval or a scrap of a melody that I really like, and I'll store it away, ruminate on it and some time later, a song tentatively stumbles out. Sometimes it's genre specific- I wrote 'promises are broken' because I wanted to learn how to compose harmonies for folk music, and exactly the same process occurred for 'please forgive me my human ways' because I was trying to figure out how to write gospel music. The songs are rarely, if ever complete- generally they will constantly evolve, even after they've been recorded.
What does a ‘regular’ day look like for Bridie Jackson? I'm lucky enough to work in music for my day job aswell, and the most significant part of my job is leading choirs, so I spend my days composing, arranging and conducting, which is a wonderful way to make a living. The evenings are generally taken up with gigging and rehearsing.
You have toured and recorded the album last year, what’s next? What are your main plans for 2012? We've been booked for a few festivals and are applying for more so that's our main aim this year. We will also be releasing a single over the summer and we have a few other exciting projects up our sleeves too..
When will consider 2012 a succes? What would you like to happen the most? I'd like our profile to grow nationally. We would like to start gigging more further afield, maybe a trip to Holland- what do you reckon?
-- Big thanks to Bridie Jackson for taking the time to answer these questions and a trip to Holland would be awesome, I would definately be there to listen to you and The Arbour live!
Pretty uncommon for me to post 'just a video', especially if the song itself has been on the blog recently. But this 1st new song from Lost In The Trees' upcoming new album is my favourite single-release of the year so far and the video is at least as beautitul! Can't wait to hear the entire album, this is gonna be a good one!
The Deep Dark Woods are on tour at the moment. Later on this month they'll even be playing on the other side of the world, in my own country. Which is pretty awesome, but unfortunately on the other side of my little country, so I'm still not sure if I'll be there, although I shouldn't let a chance like this pass by.
Anyways, they're touring right now aswell and the cool thing is, they're sharing some of their live-sets via their website. They've released 2 live-sets so far, of which these 2 tracks are from the 1st show at Birchmere. This great band has released a fine album last year and these liveshows are a real treat! If you live close to a venue where they'll be performing soon (which you can find out on their website), listen to these live-sets and make sure to get some tickets. You won't regret it!
My favourite (Canadian) record label at the moment is Other Songs Music Co. They are responsible for several musical highlights of 2011 and they have no intention of stopping with releaseing great music. Their 1st release of this year is the new single of recently signed musician Matt Paxton called "Shore Pine Walk".
And it's an extremely beautiful song. His sweet voice, with a tiny bit of rawness somewhere deep down and the music that slowly builds up around him with a great up-tempo finish makes that this is a relaxing song that I play over and over again. It started snowing this morning and the world is covered in a good 20cm of that white stuff right now, I'm gonna put on my boots, upload this song to my mp3-player & take a long walk through the park. Thinking of my exciting week, listening to this song, that seems to be written for such a moment. Love it!