This Week’s New Band: Pale Seas

I am just taking a quick break from my revision to write this post. I am still writing up the Slow Club gig, I am struggling a bit, but I am pleased so far. I only have about two weeks of exams left, so I should be back to full-time writing soon.

This week’s new band is called Pale Seas. They are so good! I had to take a break from important revision to write about them. I first heard them only about thirty minutes ago. I nearly didn’t press play, but clicking that button was the best decision of today. I heard them on Flying With Anna, and since then have listened to all the songs I can find (that number is still only six, but I have listened to several versions of some).  You can download their current single (released on March 8th) ‘Something or Nothing’ with its B-side ‘Amour’ for free of their Facebook page.

Their music is dreamy folk, with magical, glorious harmonics.  I am in awe a little now. The music is so beautiful; the acoustic guitars, vocals, and other little twinkly sounds just combine into something amazing. They give me that feeling inside, the one that great music gives you, almost a feeling of euphoria.

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Album Review: Beth Jeans Houghton and The Hooves Of Destiny – ‘Yours Truly, Cellophane Nose’

With the British folk scene almost completely controlled by the Communion crowd, it is refreshing to hear something new and quirky, Beth Jeans Houghton and The Hooves Of Destiny are just that. Their name may be a mouthful to say, but their debut LP is truly magical. Driven by harmonious vocals, backed glorious yet chaotic instrumentals, ‘Yours Truly, Cellophane Nose’ is a great album.

Beth Jeans Houghton is different and odd, there is no denying that. From the bizarre video for ‘Sweet Tooth Bird’ to dreaming about 12-sided polyhedra in ‘Dodecahedron’, the album proves it is not ordinary. But while you can’t take it totally seriously, you can respect that the music is brilliant. Take ‘Nightswimmer’ as an example. The lyrics are about getting rather sweaty at night, but if you forget about the words’ meanings you are left with a beautiful, graceful song. Luckily, some seriousness can be found in the song ‘Humble Digs’. Starting out as a marching beat and simple piano notes, it escalates into an epic crescendo, with Houghton’s angelic vocals perfectly contrasted by a choir of deeper voices.

If you can handle its quirks, ‘Yours Truly, Cellophane Nose’ is an amazing album. Even though it is peculiar in name and nature, the music it contains is different in a good way. Beth Jeans Houghton and The Hooves Of Destiny may of created the best alt-folk album of 2012.

9/10

Album Review: First Aid Kit – The Lion’s Roar

If you are looking for a happy album, full of joy and elation, then carry on looking, First Aid Kit’s second LP is nothing of the sorts. Gloomy is the best word to describe it, like a winter’s sky just before the storm. Even ‘Emmylou’, which is probably the most cheerful song, has a certain melancholy to it. It is about Emmylou Harris and Gram Parsons, yet it still has hints of sorrow, the first line being: ‘the bitter winds are coming in, and I am already missing the summer’, highlighting the sadness at the end of the love story.

Johanna and Klara Söderberg vocals are spine-tingling; the sisters are still young yet their voices sound like they carry all the burdens of life, weary of a harsh world. While the music can be deceiving about the mood of the songs, the lyrics lay bare the raw emotion and nature. Take ‘Blue’ as an example, the simple glockenspiel tune reminisces of a care-free childhood, while the sisters sing of loss and ageing. The lyrics of the chorus: ‘You’re just a shell of your former you’, capture the mood of the saddening song.

The Lion’s Roar is not a fun album, nor is it going to be the feel-good album of the year. It is not an instant best-seller, and it cannot be played as background music. This is an album that requires concentration; it has to be listened to from start to finish and if you don’t listen to the lyrics the songs become meaningless. It is an album of simplicity, with its roots deeply imbedded in a country music influence. It is an album with a soul; a soul that has been beaten and battered yet is still as strong as ever. The end result is an album of awe-inspiring beauty, of sorrow and splendour.

8/10

Alessi’s Ark: Argh! Too Good!

I first heard Alessi’s Ark at the end of 2010. She was supporting Villagers in Exeter, about ten of us stood around a tiny stage, in a room that was higher than it was long. She didn’t even really need to use a microphone. We were captivated by the simple notes and harmonic tones she was producing.

Now, just over a year later, I am still captivated. Her most recent album, called ‘Time Travel’, was one of my favourite albums of 2011, and I am really enjoying her first album, ‘Notes from the Treehouse’, that I only bought last night.

One song that has really caught my eye, or ear, is ‘The Asteroids Collide’; her singing in it is very almost rap or poetry, with amazing, flowing lyrics. The whole song is built on top of a simple drum beat that sounds drum machine generated, and there is some piano in there somewhere as well. It may be my favourite song by Alessi.

On top of this, the video is really cool, I like animations. It is made in association with ‘Lomography’, a certain experimental ‘retro’ style of photography, and I count myself as a bit of a ‘lomographer’. I love every single aspect of this song. I still listen with the same awe as that first encounter.

First Aid Kit: Emmylou

First Aid Kit will release their second album, The Lion’s Roar, on 23rd March, two weeks time. If the songs I have already heard are representative of the rest of the album then it promises to be rather spectacular. A few days ago they unveiled the video for the second single off the album; it is called ‘Emmylou’ and it was filmed in Joshua Tree. It is also very good, they both have lovely voices and the songs they write are full of passion and emotion. I will write a review for the album as soon as I get my hands on a copy, either on the Monday or Tuesday after it comes out.

Slow Club: It’s Beautiful

Slow Club have to be one of my favourite bands ever: ‘Paradise’ was my favourite album of 2011, ‘Christmas TV’ is my favourite festive song, and ‘Yeah So?’ is one of my favourite albums of all times. I can’t say that about any other band. If I went on Desert Island Disks, Slow Club would be the first band I’d talk about. It is hard to say how much I love them.

I first heard Slow Club only a few months ago. When I first slotted Paradise into the CD player, I couldn’t have realised how much it would affect me. My taste has been shaped by them, I have met new people because of my love of them, and I have found great bands owing to my new attitude towards music. I probably would have never started this blog if I never found out about Slow Club.

Both Rebecca and Charles have beautiful voices, and they write amazing songs. In short: Slow Club create perfect music.

10 Bands To Watch In 2012

I have written down 10 of the bands that I think that you will see a lot about this year. If you haven’t already heard of them then you should keep an eye out for them. There is some bands on the list that are rather ‘well-known’ but I think they will still have a very good year.

2:54

 

Tribes

 

Howler

 

Spector

 

Michael Kiwanuka

 

Lucy Rose

 

Zulu Winter

 

Dog is Dead

 

Dry The River

 

Trophy Wife