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!
Always enjoy getting a great musical tip from an insider. In this case I receveid an email from Daniel Sharon aka Balto, the man behind October Road. One of my favourite albums of last year, but unfortunately released back in my '5-lines-per-item'-phase. He tipped me this new release by Andrew Sharon, who played on several tracks on his album last year and has now released his debut solo album Travelling Time.
This 9-piece album holds a little bit of everything, which makes it hard to define, but it helps keeping my attention with the music. After the 2 opening tracks, which are okay but not brilliant (I honestly think I like opener "Arid Eyes" the least), he picks up the pace with pure rocksongs "Dirty Laundry" and "White Lines". They rock in all the right ways and have me jumping around the room all the time.
After that the album slowly softens down. Resulting in beautiful distilled (love)songs like "Are You Cold" and closing track "The End of the Rope".
I really enjoy this album. Everyman of Parts did a great job at it. It holds several styles within, yet it's an album on which all songs fit together great. There are several great references to be found within the beautifully crafted songs and I guess it's perfectly clear for everyone to read: I'm a fan! Great album! Go get it!
The Foreign Films is Bill Majoros' new project. He has released 2 tracks in November and I'm still not sure what to make of it stylewise. It has a rockvibe to it, but not in the traditional sense of it. There's a lot of extra layers added, with synths, horns and all kinds of little extras. Most referenced artists in my book are Robbie Valentine and his protege Valensia (anyone remember these guys?). That may suggest that this is past due music, but it's too 'catchy' for that. I've given both tracks about 20 spins now and have decided to name "Glitter" as my favourite. But although you can hear this is by the same artist, it's 2 different songs to me. Two very good songs, though. That is one thing I'm 100% sure off.
From time to time I receive remarks or questions about the extremely low number of posts I spend on music from my own country. I'm not 100% sure, but I doubt that it was more than 10 in 2011. on a total number of over 400 written items in the previous year. Without forcing myself to change the music I love I've decided to focus a little more on the Dutch releases that might be interesting. 1st pick that was handed to me was Blaudzun's latest record, which is supposed to be brilliant but not to me.
Something else that did get my attention though is this fine indie band from Utrecht called LUIK. It is extermely hard to find any data on them, but that's actually how I prefer to write about an album; let the music do the talking. "By & By" is the closing track and my personal favourite. The slow pace, the dark low basics combined with the high notes of the guitar make it a perfect closing track for an album that was probably recorded in the dark and is best enjoyed in the dark. Listen to the instrumental "Spleen" and title track "Owls" and you'll see where this is going, it is 100% relaxation with a bit of a dark edge to it. But it's pure quality from the 1st words to the last dying notes. If there's more music like this being released in my country this year, there will be a lote more Dutch music coming your way!
Four days ago I expressed my love for "I Wish You Were Here", a beautiful song by F&M. I was a little worried how my love for that one song would be influenced if the rest of the album was not as good, but I had nothing to worry about. The rest of the 8-track album is very good. In all fairness, "I Wish You Were Here" is still my favourite track, but "Amsterdam" is also mesmerizing just like the other 6 songs are all beauties of their own.
F&M are married couple Rebecca and Ryan Anderson. And they take turns on the songs when it comes to the lead vocals, "Goodnight" is a Rebecca-track, "Amsterdam" a Ryan-track, if I can split the songs down that easily. It gives the whole album a bit of a strange order. As we switch from sweet, sensitive whispering songs to more roaring guitar-based songs and back. But all songs are strong and beautiful and showcases the talent of this couple. And I for sure am extremely happy to have heard the entire album as it has not let me down a bit. Get the whole album via their bandcamp, it's totally worth it!
Bring on the Summer with this fine and extremely danceable tune by Mausi. It may be cold outside, and it'll be another 6 months before we can dance to this on the beach with a cold beer and our feet in the sand, but what a fine debut single this is. Sometimes words just get in the way of great music, so just listen to this great tune. Which you can download for free via their bandcamp, or you can support the band next month, when the song is being released on single! Keep an eye out, this is Summer Fun at its finest!
This 4-track EP by The Oh Hello's (which is a pretty cool bandname) was released on December 1st and I've discovered it a few weeks after that. I've been hearing it for about 2,5 weeks now and it is truly great music. Opening song "Hello My Old Heart" starts of sweet, but builds up to become something amazing. It is the perfect introduction to this EP.
The 2nd track "Lay Me Down" is a good song, but a little loud after the intimate sweetness of the opener. It takes a little bit of getting used to, but it shakes you up aswell. The 4th track "Trees" is another great track, as this EP only has fine music on it, you can feel the passion burst out of your speakers as it finishes off beautifully. You can this EP for a "pay-what-you-want" price. Which is, off course, an absolute bargain.
This is a song from an album released in August last year. I've known this song for some time and I love it so much that I have always had the urge to listen to the rest of the album. Which is really easy, as it is for sale via the website of F&M, aswell as via iTunes and Bandcamp. Sometimes though, a whole album just doesn't give me what a single track can provide. That the single track is so overwhelmingly fine, that the rest of an album just can not keep up with it. I'm sure the full album ain't bad, that is pretty much impossible. But i also doubt that the entire album is as good as this one track, as that would mean that it's one of the best albums that 2011 has seen. When the album is not as good as "I Wish You Were Here", it'll be a bit of a disappointment and it would take away a little bit of my love for this track.
So I've been a little unsure on whether I would listen to the entire thing for some time, but I've made my decision. Based on this story about the one track, you might think I won't listen to it, but I will. Right after I've expressed my love for this beautiful sweet whispering folk-track to you. Which I think, I've succesfully done with this little story. Now that I know that my love for this great song is stored, I can safely listen to the rest of the album. And who knows, maybe I'll get back to you on that..