30 June 2007

Dirt Zvuk

Sorry to break with tradition here, but the blog's been getting very ambient and folksy, so to keep up the JUNKY side of things here's a glimpse into yesterday's record bag - with no thoughts of mixing or continuity or anything technical - I've selected a few tracks which went down well last night. There's something old, something new, something borrowed and something brainmelting.

So with out further a do:

I should think that there's something for everyone here. And I know that there's going to be cries of derision over some of the more populist tracks in this - but strangely it's what people enjoyed dancing to last night.

12 June 2007

Nancy Elizabeth

I have had a very pleasant evening, one of those rare, marvellous summer nights that mix exuberance with calm, and I'll tell you why. I ventured out into a part of town I have never been to before, wandered into a church and gave eight pounds to the studenty-looking gentleman sat inside the door. I then joined the congregation sat cross-legged on the joyfully rug-strewn floor and listened with great awe and (environmentally apt) reverence to two wonderful acts (with one diabolically dull one in between them). Headliner of the night was the magnificent and graceful Colleen; if you're a fan of experimental, instrumental loop-music with a slightly unsettling folky texture, go grab any one of her releases on the Leaf Label, because they're all great.

First up though was brand new Leaf Label signing Nancy Elizabeth (formerly Nancy Elizabeth Cunliffe, truncated as 'this is too much of a mouthful, plus no one outside of Wigan can pronounce Cunliffe properly').

In a world where, it seems, any old monkey can learn a few picking patterns, adopt an airy-fairy voice and call themselves a singer-songwriter, it's nice to finally see one so startlingly different from the current trend, they come across as a poised ballerina amongst a herd of lawnmowers.

The live, solo style of the music is much in the tradition of classic European folk, accompanying her rich, mellifluous vocals with acoustic guitar, a small harp and a suitably creaky-looking, golden stringed instrument I didn't recognise. Great care and attention has been placed into the composition of each song, lending the music an air of supreme craftsmanship I think is quite rare. I hope I am forgiven for finding it even more shocking that a sound so graceful can emerge from Wigan.

I couldn't find any downloads, I'm afraid, but I urge you to visit her myspace and listen to the two tracks appearing on there for streaming. 'Hey Son' is from her forthcoming album 'Battle and Victory', due for release on Leaf in September. This multi-instrumental recording has extra largess and grandeur not heard in her solo performance tonight--we'll have to wait and see if this operatic production style helps or hinders her songs on the album. In the meantime, if you live in London, Southport or Manchester, you can catch her play live over the next month. She will also be appearing at the Green Man Festival in August, along with every other folk musician in the universe.

[update] Echo found this link, containing a selection of mp3s from older releases:

Nancy Elizabeth's page at Timbreland Recordings

Thanks, echo! Enjoy, all.

08 June 2007

Mother And The Addicts

It's been almost two years since Mother and The Addicts released their debut album Take The Lovers Home Tonight on Chemikal Underground Records. And later on this summer they'll release their second, called Science Fiction Illustrated. I met up with Sam Smith (Mother) briefly in Glasgow last week and asked him about the new album. When I asked him what it was like he said it was darker than the first. The cheeky cheerful Roxy music style tracks have disappeared, to be replaced with darker edgier sound.

We discussed the darkness of the new material. Is it Empire Strikes Back dark? - I asked...

No, says Sam it is Grange Hill meets The Fall dark.

I really like it - it is edgy and gritty and does remind me of The Fall in places but it's got something very original about it too - something that sounds like lots of things but I can't quite place or are just a centimetre in front of the tip of my tongue.

I remember reading somewhere that perfumes are created from fragrances which trigger parts of the brains - some smells will trigger specific memory centres - some smells will trigger emotion centres. What the great perfumers try to do is to create perfumes that trigger centres of the brain not specifically related to memory but that give us the rewarding sensation of trying to remember positive experiences - which ultimately we attribute with names like security or love or excitement or adventure.

Mother and the Addicts - Carthage