Tag Archives: Folk
I’m a big fan of the show Adventure Time, not only for it’s incredibly clever plot line that speaks to all age groups but sometimes for it’s amazing songs. In the latest episode, Finn and Jake’s adorable robotic friend BMO shares his favorite song, “No Wonder I.” Who knew BMO has such amazing taste? This single off of Washington band LAKE‘s upcoming album Circular Doorway is a fuzzy mellow ball of sweet sweet music. Singer Ashley Eriksson floats in like the scent of fresh spring flowers floating through the wind carrying nothing but good vibes and love. Accompanied by a gentle yet steady drumbeat, like some happy creature skipping down the sidewalk, this song is as catchy as they come. Know wonder BMO loves this song. Check it out below and hear more by the band here.
LAKE – No Wonder I
So we all know “Quelqu’un m’a dit” (if you don’t, look it up. It’s beautiful), but Carla Bruni’s got much more to her name than just that one song. She’s been recording for more than 15 years and is gearing up to release her fourth solo album Little French Songs which, despite the name, is a collection of French, Italian and English language songs. It’s a very eclectic mix set for US release April 16th, just in time for the spring album rush. One of my favorites is “Chez Keith et Anita,” probably because it is so different from “Quelqu’un m’a dit.” Rather than quiet and somber, it’s a bright song with horns and tropical percussion. It’s a sweet, fun love song showing a side to Bruni most don’t know and you can stream it below. Bonus: it’s great for practicing your french skills.
Carla Bruni – Chez Keith et Anita
Heyward Howkins is always a special treat. It’s mellow music with a meaning; the kind of music you use to explain things that your own words can’t quite match. His debut LP was one of our favorites of last year, and I’m positive this new one will be just as good if not better. We already got a glimpse with the single “Praline Country” and now we get another taste with his acoustic session for On the Hills. ”Flimsy Stock” is a curious little song, I think of romance (it’s hard to tell when listening to Howkins). Two lovers made of delicate, frail material, growing slow and awkwardly. It’s great to watch him play along on his guitar, his “ooohs” reverberating in the creaky room and his strums his guitar in his typical fashion. Check out the video above and look for the new LP, hopefully this summer.
You may remember some of our past posts about Cold Blue Kid, the rock band hailing from Chicago. Now Alex Longoria has teamed up with Elizabeth Burchfield for a sweet little side-project called Hidden Era. The music for “Until Morning” is simple and refreshing, but there’s a lot to be said for such a sparse song. Even acoustic guitars pack more punch and Burchfield comes through crystal clear. It’s one of five songs to appear on the stripped down EP. Check it out below and stay tuned for more info on the duo later down the road.
Hidden Era – Until Morning
There’s a huge bias today towards bands using acoustic guitars, piano and swirling harmonies, especially British bands, towards the new folk categorization. It’s easy to put To Kill a King into the same category as Mumford & Sons. Or maybe Dry The River to match their edgier sound. I myself was ready to place them into this category after hearing their Word of Mouth EP. But Cannibals with Cutlery, the groups debut full-length has wiped away any last thoughts as to their genre. The band stands in a category all their own, blending pop, rock, folk and even classical music to create one of the most unique albums to come out so far this year.
Usually it’s the music that jumps out at me first with a band like this. I mean, there is a lot going on: synths, pianos, bass, guitar, drums, harmony after harmony, strings. Basically, a lot for a five-piece band. Take their opening track, “I Work Nights and You Work Days” for example. It lulls gently into the album, using sparse but effective instrumentation like strings, quiet trumpet and a lone piano. Drums are completely absent from the song, only adding to the delicacy as Pelleymounter sings of the loving two-worlds relationship, “And though you are asleep, it seems so natural, to kiss you as the sun comes up.” This is the closest the album comes to a “typical” love song.
The stories of these songs are not the simple loves songs of most bands today. Relationships aren’t just ended in heartbreak but tragedy. Violence and questions of character appear constantly as in the brutal and powerful song “Fictional State.” In one of the few songs to feature a female vocalist, singers make excuses for their broken love: “there’s no hole in my head, accusation I just ain’t the family type/falling short and you’ve got better plans, escape artist and you just undermine.” The song gradually progresses from a worried father singing over acoustic guitar and piano, to a cacophonous mix of blaring trumpets, drums and heavy guitar and the song come crashing triumphantly to an end. This is perhaps the greatest feat of the band. To Kill a King, progress with ease from quiet beginnings as in “Fictional State” and the refreshing “Gasp” to booming choruses that swell and surround.
If you listened to their EPs or Ralph’s Balcony Sessions, you’ll hear many old favorites come alive under crisper, clearer realization. “Funeral” and “Besides She Said” find new life on this album. And, my personal favorite “Choices” is a stunning midpoint to the album. I originally thought I loved it for its use of twenty-something musicians in the Ralph’s Balcony Session. But, as a group in a studio session, the song seems to evoke more emotion than ever. You can almost see the patient suitor: “he’s on your doorstep, waiting with flowers. This garden is freezing, teasing, you’re leaving me for hours.”
But for every old song, the band has new surprises. “Children Who Start Fires,” a metaphor for an unfaithful lover is a beautiful and clever acoustic number. And the closing track, “Letter to My Lover (The Dylan Fan)” makes a fitting end to an album that constantly shifts and twists. Never leaving you to catch a breath for one second, Cannibals with Cutlery touches on subjects few would touch in mainstream music these days, with a musical finesse most bands only dream of achieving. The album is out February 24th, but it’s currently streaming for free if you want more than just my words and the few samples below. Trust me, you don’t want to miss out on this band.
To Kill A King – Gasp/The Reflex
To Kill A King – Choices
There’s rarely been a day of my stay in Paris without at least a few hours of cloudy skys and rain. And when the rain comes, so does my “rainy day” playlist, and today I’ve heard a song that I know will quickly become a playlist staple. ”Town to Town” features a somber slide guitar and drums played with a quiet brush, as if it’s all the band can do to push forward and steady their instruments and their lives. It’s a song of wandering, looking for a home and for comfort where a warm embrace is rarely found and the night is cold. But John Smith persists, “one more day, I throw it out the window, from town to town I break a little more.” Playing along with members of James Vincent McMorrow’s band, this track truly shines through the clouds as a folk ballad. Check out the beautiful acoustic version above and look for the studio version on John Smith’s third album Great Lakes, March 25th.
This one goes a few years back, but it’s well worth the late mention. This winter I’ve spent some time at home with friends and family before we all go our separate ways again and work picks up again. There’s a little tradition my friend and I have of going to this diner. It’s a bit out of the way, but the trip is well worth it for a delicious omelete and good company. This last trip was bittersweet because my friend is about to go on a long and far away trip (as am I) and we probably won’t see each other for a while. Breakfast was delicious as usual, but one of my favorite parts of the long ride to the diner was the ride itself. We always listen to some solid music and this time my friend played me one particular song that I couldn’t get out of my head. ”Santa Cruz” off the side-project album of Goodnight, Texas called Coattails played us down the backroads of our neighborhood and it seemed fitting. It’s a Dylanesque folk song about loosing someone who is moving away and trying every trick in the book to make them stay (vehicular sabotage, inebriation, you name it). But listening to the song, you can hear that the singer really doesn’t want this person to leave, but when he stops to think, he realizes he can’t stop this person, “if you go I won’t accuse, you or me or Santa Cruz.” And as my own friend left me for this distant land, and I leave and many of my other friends as well, this song helped me realize that while we’ll miss each other, we need to make the move and experience the world. Check out the song below and give the album a listen here.
Pwolf & Avi
As much as I love ‘em, lately there have been an flood of nu-folk bands: Mumford & Sons, Fleet Foxes, Dry The River, the list goes on and on. And I know, we’ve put these bands on this blog a lot. And I know, I always rave about these bands. But is there anything else in the folk world nowadays? The answer is a definite yes, and their name is Washington Irving. This Glasgow band doesn’t follow that same old pattern that most folk bands today seem to follow down to a T. Instead, they seem to delve deeper into folk past, really dredging up the the sounds of traditional European folk. But that’s not to say they’re quite stuck in the past either. Their music features electric instruments at times, rock drum beats and even a bowed saw. As of now, they’ve only released one EP called Little Wanderer Head, Thee Home, but they’re set to release a full length album in 2013. Until then, check out the video above of their song Holy Company. See if you don’t feel, at least for that brief four minutes, like you’ve been transported to another time.
To Kill a King has been one of my favorite new bands of 2012. Their music is unique, beautiful and diverse folk-rock. And we were first introduced to them through the Ralph’s Balcony Session, “Choices.” But recently, the entire Ralph’s Balcony Sessions were released on bandcamp. This is a truly amazing collection of music and artist. There are 19 songs, each featuring another artist playing along with the band. Not only is this a great way to hear a bunch of new and fantastic bands, but it is great to watch and listen to how these musicians interact. Different personalities and styles make each song different from the next. Above is one of my favorites from the session called “We Used to Protest.” It features the whimsical Emily Wood, who soft-spoken voice fits perfectly with this stripped down To Kill a King Song. Check it out above and download the whole album on bandcamp, it’s well worth it.
Sometimes, it’s the simple things that really do it for me. A sunny day, a tasty snack, or a sweet song. And that’s exactly what we’ve got for you today. Irvin Dally, previously J. Irvin Dally, takes on Bob Dylan’s Nashville Skylines’ song with the same folk demeanor as Dylan but with the passionate stylings we might have heard with Jeff Buckley. It’s a very satisfying combo, as Dally strums his guitar to a small crowd in the evening who listen intently to the kind-faced folk-singer. His version is mellowed out, a bit less country but no less intriguing in it’s loving warning. Nothing was gonna stop Dylan from spending the night, no train, schedule or worries and Dally is just as determined. Give the Ice Cream Session a listen above.