Cambridge Folk Festival presents 'City Roots' in February 2017

Festival news: 'City Roots' by Cambridge Folk Festival
Festival date: February 2017
Location: Cambridge
More info: Festival website

The headliners of the first ever City Roots festival, an expansion of Cambridge Folk Festival taking place in venues across the city, have just been announced. 
 
Internationally-renowned Malian singer songwriter Salif Keita has been confirmed as the closing headliner for the new event, joining previously announced Transatlantic Sessions as part of a varied line-up of gigs and events at venues across the city. 
 
Salif Keita, known as the Golden Voice of Africa, has carved out a distinctive musical sound, combining West African griot traditions with rock, funk and jazz and will bring the week-long City Roots festival to a triumphant close at Cambridge Corn Exchange. 
 
Transatlantic Sessions, also at the Corn Exchange, brings together musicians from the Celtic and Americana traditions for a unique evening of musical camaraderie. Shetland fiddle legend Aly Bain and dobro star Jerry Douglas again share the musical direction, and are joined by John Paul White, Tift Merritt, Eddi Reader, Dirk Powell and Jim Lauderdale. The house band featuring, among others, John Doyle, Danny Thompson, Michael McGoldrick and John McCusker is stellar enough to be the main attraction at most other folk concerts. 
 
Cambridge Junction will be presenting four gigs as part of City Roots. In J2 will be Jim Moray, the English folk singer known for pushing the boundaries of traditional music, Paolo Angelli and Derek Gripper in a daring double bill of genre-defying solo guitar, and Amy Wadge and Luke Jackson, a pairing of two generations of captivating performers. Meanwhile in J1, Mad Dog McRea will entertain with a unique mix of folk rock, gypsy jazz and bluegrass. 
 
At the Portland Arms, Green Mind Gigs will showcase the home-grown talent of Cambridge-based singer songwriter Steven James Adams, performing with his new band. Other events will be taking place in CB2, Cambridge Guildhalls, Anglia Ruskin University and the Cambridge Union, and the city centre will be taken over by specially commissioned folk and roots buskers, with more details being announced soon. 
 
Cambridge Live aims to create a culture of collaboration within the arts in Cambridge, partnering with venues and supporting artists and groups of all sizes and levels of experience. City Roots is a key part of this collaboration, building on the success and popularity of Cambridge Folk Festival to strengthen the relationship between folk and roots music and the city of Cambridge. 
 
Steve Bagnall, Managing Director of Cambridge Live, said: “We are delighted to launch this extension of Cambridge Folk Festival, working with venues and groups across the city. In its first year, we hope that City Roots proves to be a successful model, helping us to forge new, long-lasting partnerships enabling us to continue to deliver what we hope will become an annual event.” 

 

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Shiiine On Weekender - first names for 2017 event

Festival news: Shiine On 2017
Festival dates: 10-13 November 2017
Venue: Location: Butlins Minehead
More info: Festival website

Following the sell-out success of their 2015 and 2016 events, the award nominated Shiiine On Weekender announces it first names for their 2017 instalment. 

Playing the festival for the first time will be the Levellers. Earlier this year the band celebrated the 25th anniversary of their all-time classic album ‘Levelling The Land’ with a huge UK tour whilst also announcing plans for a new album in 2017. 

While recording their follow-up, ‘Poppiecock’, PWEI became immersed in sampling, drawing material from sources ranging from James Brown to Iggy Pop; soon Crabb emerged from behind his drum kit to join Mansell as co-frontman, and a drum machine was installed in his place. Honing a fusion of rock, pop, and rap that they dubbed "grebo," the Poppies kick-started a small revolution; by the release of their 1987 full-length debut, Box Frenzy, and the hit ‘There Is No Love Between Us Anymore,’ grebo -- the name quickly given the entire subculture of similarly grimy and raunchy bands -- was all the rage in the British music press. 

The legendary figure Jim Bob also makes his Minehead debut. As font man of Carter USM Jim Bob had 12 top 40 singles, 4 top ten albums (including a number one) and played over 800 gigs all over the world. The band split up in 1997 and since Carter USM, Jim Bob has released two albums and three singles with his disco-pop-punk group Jim's Super Stereoworld, four solo albums as Jim Bob. Expect plenty of Carter sing alongs and a smattering of solo material. 

The Woodentops also join the Shiiine bill for 2017. The band formed in 1983 in South London and released debut single, ‘Plenty’ on Food Records in 1984. The track received a glowing review from Morrissey in Melody Maker, and led them to signing to independent label Rough Trade Records, releasing a series of singles in 1985 and their debut album, ‘Giant’, in 1986. The album reached No. 35 on the UK Albums Chart. and lead single from the album, ‘Good Thing’, reached No. 7 on the UK Indie Chart. 

 

 

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Delicate Steve new album due 27 January 2017

Album release: 'This is Steve' by Delicate Steve
Release date: 27 January 2017
Label: Anti-records
More info: Artist website

The new album by Delicate Steve arrives in stores this January 27th. In anticipation, you can currently watch a delightfully surrealistic video for the song 'Cartoon Rock' courtesy of NPR Music. 
 
Watch the video for 'Cartoon Rock' here care of NPR. 
 
Some of the first people to recognize STEVE’s unique musical talents were renowned artists such as David Byrne, Dirty Projectors, tUnE-yArDs, Mac DeMarco, Dr. Dog, and elder statesmen like Lee Ranaldo and Built to Spill. STEVE is likely the only guitarist who has cut records with Sondre Lerche and Death Grip's Zach Hill, been handpicked to open a sold out North American tour for Tame Impala and then provided guitar for Paul Simon's new record.   
 
These wild artistic relationships came to be because STEVE happens to be one of the most talented songwriters and guitarists currently working.  But they are also a direct reflection of the person, the soul of a guy any artist or fan who’s met him will identify immediately.  It’s the same same soul that fills his songs. 
 
'This Is Steve', Delicate Steve’s first new record in four years, and first for the Anti- imprint, is an articulation of this spirit. A general communion with the people and world around him. Easy to call such things hackneyed in this cynical time, but in Steve's case, it’s very hard to separate the person from the art. It's real. It's pure. This, Is Steve. An incredible capacity to write wordless songs that are impossible not to sing along to. He works in no genre, there are no words, but there is never a question as to what he is saying.  
 
Steve produced and played all the instruments on this record. He created it as an introduction from himself to you, and named it appropriately. If there is a question as to who This Is Steve’s creator is, you'll find it imbued in these ten songs. As he has done from the start, Steve lets the music speak for itself. Without a word. 

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The Molochs 'America’s Velvet Glory' out 13 January 2017

Album release: 'America’s Velvet Glory' by The Molochs
Release date: 13 January 2017
Label: Innovative Leisure
More info: Band website

First, let’s meet Moloch. You remember him, right? The ancient god, the child eater, the demander of sacrifice, the villain in Ginsberg’s Howl (and also real life) and now the personal antagonist of singer and songwriter Lucas Fitzsimons, who named his band the Molochs because he knew he’d have to make sacrifices to get what he needed, and because he always wanted a reminder of the Ginsbergian monster he’d be fighting against. And so this is how you make a record right now: you fight for every piece, and when Moloch takes apart your relationships and career potential and leaves you sleeping on couches or living in terrifying apartments and just about depleted from awful people involving you in their awful decisions, you grab a bottle of wine (and laugh at the cliché) and put together another song. And once you do that eleven hard-won times in total, you get a record like America’s Velvet Glory: honest, urgent, desperate and fearless because of it.  
  
Fitzsimons came to his calling in an appropriately mythic way, born in a historic city not far from Buenos Aires and raised in L.A.’s South Bay—just outside of Inglewood—where he was immersed in the hip-hop hits on local radio. (Westside Connection!) The summer d before he started middle school, a close friend got an electric guitar, and Fitzsimons felt an irresistible inexplicable power: “I'd go back home and I’d look up guitar chords on the internet—even though I had no guitar—and just imagine how I WOULD play them. I was slowly getting obsessed.” When he was 12, his parents took him back to Argentina, and on the first night, he discovered a long-forgotten almost-broken classical guitar in the basement of his ancestral home: “It sounds made-up, but it’s true,” he says. “I didn't put the guitar down once that whole trip—took it with me everywhere and played and played. When I got back to L.A., I bought my first guitar practically as the plane was landing.” 
  
This started a long line of bands and a long experience of learning to perform in public, as Fitzsimons honed intentions and ideas and tried to figure out why that guitar seemed so important. After a trip to India in 2012, he returned renewed and ready to start again, scrapping his band to lead something new and uncompromising. This was the true start of the Molochs: “It didn't make any sense to not do everything exactly the way I wanted to do it,” he says. “I was so shy and introverted that singing publicly sounded like a nightmare come true. But I didn't have a choice—I heard something inside of me and I needed to be the one to express it.” 
  
The first album 'Forgetter Blues' was released with Fitzsimons’ guitarist/organist and longtime bandmate Ryan Foster in early 2013 on his own label—named after a slightly infamous intersection in their then-home of Long Beach—and was twelve songs of anxious garage-y proto-punk-y folk-y rock, Modern Lovers demos and Velvet Underground arcana as fuel and foundation both. It deserved to go farther than it did, which sadly wasn’t very far. But it sharpened Fitzsimons and his songwriting, and after three pent-up years of creativity, he was ready to burst. So he decided to record a new album in the spirit of the first, and in the spirit of everything that the Molochs made so far: “I wanted to spend less time figuring out HOW we were gonna do something and just actually do it.” 
  
The result is 'America’s Velvet Glory', recorded with engineer Jonny Bell at effortless (says Fitzsimons) sessions at Long Beach’s JazzCats studio. (Also incubator for Molochs’ new labelmates Wall of Death and Hanni El Khatib.) It starts with an anxious electric minor-key melody and ends on a last lonesome unresolved organ riff, and in between comes beauty, doubt, loss, hate and even a moments or two of peace. There are flashes of 60s garage rock—like the Sunset Strip ’66 stormer 'No More Cryin’' or the 'Little Black Egg'-style heartwarmer-slash-breaker 'The One I Love'—but like one of Foster’s and Fitzsimons’ favourites the Jacobites, the Molochs are taking the past apart, not trying to recreate it. 
  
You can hear where songs bend, where voices break, where guitars start to shiver and when strings are about to snap; on 'You And Me', you can almost hear Lou Reed’s ghost call for a solo, and on 'I Don’t Love You', you get that subway-sound guitar and find out what happens when Jonathan Richman’s G-I-R-L-F-R-E-N goes wrong. And of course there’s the charismatic chaos of bootleg basement-tape Dylan—always Dylan, says Fitzsimons—and the locked-room psychedelia of Syd Barrett, especially on 'Charlie’s Lips', Fitzsimons’ ode to—or antidote to—those times when he felt the bleakness completely: “Then a bird lands on a branch nearby, you hear leaves fluttering, you hear a child laughing … all of a sudden things don't seem so bad anymore.” 
 
So Moloch might still be out there, devouring his sacrifices, but the Molochs are still fighting, too. And that’s why Fitzsimons picked the band name—it’s so he remembers what he’s up against. He’s not celebrating the destroyer of youth and individuality and creativity, he says: “I’m just keeping him in sight so that he doesn't win.” – Christopher Ziegler  

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Bob Dylan 'No Direction Home' 10th Anniversary edition released 28 October 2016

Film release: 'No Direction Home: Bob Dylan' by Martin Scorsese
Release date: 28 October 2016
More info: No Direction Home Store

HOLLYWOOD, CA – Capitol Records is celebrating the 10th Anniversary of Martin Scorsese’s award-winning documentary 'No Direction Home: Bob Dylan', by releasing a Deluxe 10th Anniversary Edition of the film on October 28th that will mark its first release on Blu-ray (standard DVD is also available).  These 10th Anniversary Editions of the film all feature 2 1/2 hours of bonus and never-before-seen content, including extended scenes from the film and full-length interviews with Scorsese, Dave van Ronk and Liam Clancy.   

Both formats are also available in a Special Edition Deluxe Box that will include both Blu-ray and DVD versions of the film and bonus content, as well as an exclusively produced Bob Dylan magazine that features reproductions of historical articles about the artist, plus three high-quality lithographic photo prints of Dylan, all in a deluxe portfolio. 

All configurations of 'No Direction Home' are available for pre-order at the official No Direction Home Store, and will be available for purchase on Amazon.com on October 28 and for pre-order in the weeks leading up to that date.  Retailer Best Buy will also carry an exclusive Blu-ray that includes a limited edition Bob Dylan poster with all purchases.  Digital versions of the film will be available for download at iTunes and other digital HD retailers on October 25, and will be available for rental on November 8 and streaming on November 22.  A newly-produced trailer for this release can be viewed here.  
 
Produced by Jeff Rosen (American Roots Music) and Nigel Sinclair (The Beatles: Eight Days a Week – The Touring Years),  along with Susan Lacy (American Masters) and Anthony Wall (BBC Arena), the 3 ½-hour film focuses on Dylan’s life and music from 1961 to 1966, detailing the artist’s journey from his hometown of Hibbing, Minnesota through his emergence in the folk music scene of New York’s Greenwich Village to his controversial decision to go “electric” and his rise to the pinnacle of international fame and cultural impact.   No Direction Home: Bob Dylan features rare performance footage and interviews with artists and musicians whose lives intertwined with Dylan’s during this era, while Dylan himself talks openly and extensively about this critical period in his career in interviews shot exclusively for this film. 

The film features rare treasures from Dylan’s extensive film, tape and photograph collection, including footage from Murray Lerner’s film Festival documenting Dylan’s performances at the 1963, 1964 and 1965 Newport Folk Festivals, previously unreleased outtakes from D.A. Pennebaker’s famed 1967 documentary Don’t Look Back, and interviews with Allen Ginsberg, Pete Seeger, Joan Baez, Maria Muldaur, and many others. 

The film met with enthusiastic audience reception and universal critical acclaim when it first premiered on PBS, BBC and other prestigious international outlets in the autumn of 2005 and simultaneously released on DVD.  Roger Ebert wrote in the Chicago Sun Times, “[The film] creates a portrait that is deep, sympathetic, perceptive and yet finally leaves Dylan shrouded in mystery, which is where he properly lives.”  Frazier Moore of Associated Press called it, “a film I recommend not only to Dylan devotees and neophytes alike, but also to anyone trying to reconnect with where America was then, and grasp where it is today.”  The Hollywood Reporter’s Glenn Abel wrote that the film was, “as good as it gets in music documentaries,” while Variety’s Phil Gallo predicted that “some of the footage will startle even the most dedicated Dyalnologists.” 

'No Direction Home: Bob Dylan'; A Martin Scorsese Picture is a production of Spitfire Pictures, Grey Water Park Production, Thirteen/WNET New York and Sikelia Productions, in co-production with Vulcan Productions, BBC and NHK. 

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Country Lips new album due 6 January 2017

Album release: 'Till The Daylight Comes' by Country Lips
Release date: 6 january 2017
More info: Band website

Merging Backwoods-style blues with honky-tonk, boot-stomping rhythms, the 8-piece powerhouse known as Country Lips deliver a sound more associated with the wild, raucous West than the grit and grunge of America’s Emerald city. The spirit of unadulterated, whiskey-fuelled country rings true however, via a rollicking sonic presence and ramshackle charm – and they take their chances siding with musical outlaws like George Jones, Johnny Paycheck, and the Louvin Brothers over the homogenous sparkle of more chart-friendly players. 

New album 'Till The Daylight Comes', recorded in Seattle and produced by Randall Dunn (Master Musicians Of Bukkake, Sunn O))), Cave Singers) is an ode to alcohol-ravaged, small-town romance, bringing to mind the destruction and debauchery that bopped and swirled around country-heavyweights like Johnny Cash and Merle Haggard. When playing live, it’s worth noting too, they have an absolute blast with the friendly warning that "in one set you’re likely to see five different lead singers, swapping soloists, all manner of hoots and harmonies, and (at least) one spilled beer." 
 
First up bringing the two-step and shimmy, is driving guitar number, ‘Laundromat’ – the protagonist asking for a woman’s hand-in-marriage amid the washing machines where he works. Here the lucky lady will even get her clothes washed for free if she chooses to take him up on his offer…‘Grizzly Bear Billboard’ meanwhile, gains a lot of impact via its schmaltzy, electric-guitar shimmer, presenting us with a wistful, sexed-up tale of a past destructive romance – as ridiculous in its forthrightness (“we were going at it like a demolition derby”) as it is in its air of regret. 
 
Songs like ‘Reason I’m Drinking’ and ‘Bar Time’ sound lovelorn, telling tales of lonely nights drinking their paycheques at the bar and are heightened by unashamedly forlorn lyrics; ‘The only friends I have are up there on that shelf’ for example. Even so, all are delivered with a tongue-in-cheek self-awareness that can’t help but raise a smile. 
 
'Til The Daylight Comes' often conjures up the well-worn tropes of heartland-Americana – yet these lazy bartenders, low-hanging lights and sweating beer bottles sit dangerously alongside pool cue clashes, cowboy cacophony and kicked-over bar stalls. Leave all notions of modern country behind and come join the Country Lips party now! 
 
Country Lips are: 
 
Austin Jacobsen – bass, Trevor Pendras - electric guitar, vocals, Miles Burnett - drums, vocals, Hamilton Boyce - electric guitar, vocals, Alex Leake - acoustic guitar, vocals, Jonah Byrne – fiddle, Kenny Aramaki – keys and Gus Clark - accordion, mandolin
 

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The Blue Aeroplanes new album out 6 January 2017

Album release: ‘Welcome, Stranger!’ by The Blue Aeroplanes
Release date: 6 January 2017
More info: Band website

The Blue Aeroplanes' unique amalgam of rock, folk, poetry, punk, dance and art has been an acknowledged influence on a wide range of bands including REM and Radiohead. Combining pop smarts with serious weirdness, they have released almost thirty albums on various labels, several of which have charted in the UK Top 40 and the US Alternative Top 10. 
 
Their 1990 album 'Swagger' was 'Rock Album Of The Year' in many publications including The Sunday Times. Ex-members have gone on to play with Massive Attack, Suede, Placebo, Goldfrapp and Primal Scream, while for many years they shared multi-instrumentalist Ian Kearey with folk legends the Oyster Band. They remain the only group to have been banned from The Rainbow Lounge, Lemmy's favourite hangout, and been invited to play at the Hay-On-Wye Literary Festival.  
 
Now comes the release of the band's twelfth studio album, 'Welcome, Stranger!', recorded by the longest-lasting Aeroplanes line up to date. Original members Gerard Langley (poet/singer), and John Langley (drummer), sometimes with Wojtek Dmochowski (dancer), are joined by Gerard Starkie, formerly the main man of Witness and an Aeroplane since 2006, Chris Sharp (bassist and owner of The Fleece venue in Bristol), a band member since 2008, and the more recent additions Bec Jevons (guitarist and front-person of I Destroy) and guitarist Mike Youe. John and Mike also play with Bristol punk legend (and ex-Aeroplane) Rita Lynch, while Gerard is also Head Of Songwriting at BIMM Bristol, where he was responsible for guiding the early steps of George Ezra, among others. 
 
The Blue Aeroplanes will be touring the UK in January 2017.

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Whenyoung new single ‘Actor’ due 25 November 2016

Single release: ‘Actor’ by Whenyoung
Release date: 25 November 2016
More info: Band Soundcloud

Irish trio Whenyoung have announced their second single 'Actor', which will impact on 25th November.

 'Actor' is the follow-up to debut single See How They Run and is an immediate burst of melodic rock ‘n’ roll with a swarm of unruly jangly guitars, commanding drums and sweet yet punchy vocals. Despite an untainted youthful sound, lyrically the song has a profound meaning. The band say; “'Actor' is about contorting your character to fit into a disfigured view of the perfect self in order to belong. It's about acting every day and projecting artificial images of yourself through social media and in real life interactions with others. This helps to reassure you that you are important, relevant, interesting and necessary but behind it all there’s a sinking feeling. It’s not you. It’s an act. It’s tiring.” 

“These days we’re all doing it. It seems to be essential but there has to be another way, an honest existence.” 

Whenyoung are Aoife Power (Vocals/Bass), Niall Burns (Guitar) and Andrew Flood (Drums) who originate from Limerick in Ireland but are currently based in London.

First meeting as teenagers, sneaking into the only indie bar of their city in Ireland, they bonded over cheap vodka and The Velvet Underground. Soon after, Niall moved to London, with Andrew and Aoife quickly following, and here they began writing songs together.

After a handful of packed out London shows, Whenyoung have just announced a further date at Shacklewell Arms on 24th November.  

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UB40 'Unplugged' and Greatest Hits' out 18 November 2016

Album release: 'Unplugged' and Greatest Hits' by UB40
Release date: 18 November 2016
Label: UMC
More info: Band website

As founding members of Britain’s biggest reggae band UB40, singer Ali Campbell, second vocalist Astro and keyboardist Mickey Virtue topped the UK singles chart on three occasions and sold 70 million records as they took their smooth yet rootsy musical blend to all corners of the globe. But, in all their years of stellar success, the trio never transferred the spirit of UB40 into an acoustic setting. Now with ‘Unplugged’ they breathe new life into an intoxicating mix of timeless covers and classic UB40 originals.

“This is the first time we’ve taken iconic UB40 tunes and done them in an acoustic style,” says Ali. “It all sounds very fresh. It’s completely unlike anything we’ve done before.”

‘Unplugged’ offers an inventive new spin on UB40’s early gems plus the huge hits with which they later wooed the world. Among the highlights on the album is a new version of ‘I Got You Babe’, featuring Ali’s 22-year-old daughter Kaya Campbell, who sings the lines originally performed by Chrissie Hynde when the track topped the UK charts in 1985.

That pop standard is one of four number one singles on ‘Unplugged’, which also contains new takes of ‘(I Can’t Help) Falling In Love With You’, ‘Red Red Wine’ – complete with a fresh Astro talk-over ‘in an acoustic stylee’ – and a new version of ‘Baby Come Back’ featuring Pato Banton, the Birmingham reggae star who took the song to the top of the charts with UB40 in 1994.

A clutch of vibrant originals have also been given the acoustic treatment, including ‘Food For Thought’ and ‘Tyler’, both from UB40’s debut album ‘Signing Off’, and the 1981 single ‘One In Ten’. Those songs were written in the harsh political climate of the early Eighties, but their social concerns seem no less relevant today. The new arrangements hark back to the past, too: after all, ‘Signing Off’ was recorded on a simple, four-track tape machine in the tiny studio of producer Bob Lamb in 1980.

Another original to be given a fresh sheen is 1986’s ‘Rat In Mi Kitchen’, with Astro again providing talk-over vocals. “That song was based on a real incident,” recalls Ali. “Astro came over to my house in Balsall Heath to talk about lyrics, but I didn’t want to talk about the band, as I had a rat hiding behind my washing machine! Some people thought it was about the government of Margaret Thatcher, but it had nothing to do with politics.”

With Mickey adding upright piano and the arrangements fleshed out with shuffling percussion and Ali’s melodica, other covers given a makeover include Lord Creator’s ‘Kingston Town’, Eric Donaldson’s ‘Cherry Oh Baby’, Winston Groovy’s ‘Please Don’t Make Me Cry’ and the Chi-Lites’ ‘Homely Girl’.

‘Unplugged’ maintains the giddy momentum that Ali, Astro and Mickey built up on 2014’s ‘Silhouette’, the first studio album to feature all three members since Astro signed up in November 2013. With Ali, closely followed by Mickey, having left the original UB40 after thirty years in 2008, the reintegration of Astro consolidated a set-up that has now grown into an 11-piece touring ensemble, complete with a three-piece horn section. 

Since reuniting three years ago, Ali, Mickey and Astro have developed into a formidable touring outfit. Their world tours have included visits to North and South America, Nigeria, South Africa, Dubai and Papua New Guinea. 2016 has seen them return to the States, play Australia and visit the vineyards of New Zealand for a ‘Red Red Winery Tour’. They also made an emotional return to UK in April, when they performed songs from the first two ‘Labour Of Love’ albums on an arena tour that included sell-out shows at London’s O2 Arena, the Brighton Centre and the Barclaycard Arena in their native Birmingham.

To celebrate the release of ‘Unplugged + Greatest Hits’ the band have partnered with Eminent Life to launch a limited edition ‘Red Red Wine’ Bordeaux Supérieur. Says Ali, “We have always wanted to release our own red wine and we’re very excited to be finally doing this!” Jerome Jacober, founder of Eminent Life adds “It’s been a pleasure and honour working with Ali, Astro and Mickey to create the exclusive wine which is so befitting of the great track ‘Red Red Wine’.” ‘Red Red Wine’, a blend of Merlot and Cabernet Franc grapes, is available to purchase now.

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The Molochs album 'America’s Velvet Glory' out 13 January 2017

Album release: 'America’s Velvet Glory' by The Molochs
Release date: 13 January 2017
Label: Innovative Leisure
More info: Band Soundcloud

First, let’s meet Moloch. You remember him, right? The ancient god, the child eater, the demander of sacrifice, the villain in Ginsberg’s Howl (and also real life) and now the personal antagonist of singer and songwriter Lucas Fitzsimons, who named his band the Molochs because he knew he’d have to make sacrifices to get what he needed, and because he always wanted a reminder of the Ginsbergian monster he’d be fighting against. And so this is how you make a record right now: you fight for every piece, and when Moloch takes apart your relationships and career potential and leaves you sleeping on couches or living in terrifying apartments and just about depleted from awful people involving you in their awful decisions, you grab a bottle of wine (and laugh at the cliché) and put together another song. And once you do that eleven hard-won times in total, you get a record like America’s Velvet Glory: honest, urgent, desperate and fearless because of it.  
  
Fitzsimons came to his calling in an appropriately mythic way, born in a historic city not far from Buenos Aires and raised in L.A.’s South Bay—just outside of Inglewood—where he was immersed in the hip-hop hits on local radio. (Westside Connection!) The summer d before he started middle school, a close friend got an electric guitar, and Fitzsimons felt an irresistible inexplicable power: “I'd go back home and I’d look up guitar chords on the internet—even though I had no guitar—and just imagine how I WOULD play them. I was slowly getting obsessed.” When he was 12, his parents took him back to Argentina, and on the first night, he discovered a long-forgotten almost-broken classical guitar in the basement of his ancestral home: “It sounds made-up, but it’s true,” he says. “I didn't put the guitar down once that whole trip—took it with me everywhere and played and played. When I got back to L.A., I bought my first guitar practically as the plane was landing.” 
  
This started a long line of bands and a long experience of learning to perform in public, as Fitzsimons honed intentions and ideas and tried to figure out why that guitar seemed so important. After a trip to India in 2012, he returned renewed and ready to start again, scrapping his band to lead something new and uncompromising. This was the true start of the Molochs: “It didn't make any sense to not do everything exactly the way I wanted to do it,” he says. “I was so shy and introverted that singing publicly sounded like a nightmare come true. But I didn't have a choice—I heard something inside of me and I needed to be the one to express it.” 
  
The first album Forgetter Blues was released with Fitzsimons’ guitarist/organist and longtime bandmate Ryan Foster in early 2013 on his own label—named after a slightly infamous intersection in their then-home of Long Beach—and was twelve songs of anxious garage-y proto-punk-y folk-y rock, Modern Lovers demos and Velvet Underground arcana as fuel and foundation both. It deserved to go farther than it did, which sadly wasn’t very far. But it sharpened Fitzsimons and his songwriting, and after three pent-up years of creativity, he was ready to burst. So he decided to record a new album in the spirit of the first, and in the spirit of everything that the Molochs made so far: “I wanted to spend less time figuring out HOW we were gonna do something and just actually do it.” 
  
The result is America’s Velvet Glory, recorded with engineer Jonny Bell at effortless (says Fitzsimons) sessions at Long Beach’s JazzCats studio. (Also incubator for Molochs’ new labelmates Wall of Death and Hanni El Khatib.) It starts with an anxious electric minor-key melody and ends on a last lonesome unresolved organ riff, and in between comes beauty, doubt, loss, hate and even a moments or two of peace. There are flashes of 60s garage rock—like the Sunset Strip ’66 stormer 'No More Cryin’ or the 'Little Black Egg'-style heartwarmer-slash-breaker 'The One I Love'—but like one of Foster’s and Fitzsimons’ favourites the Jacobites, the Molochs are taking the past apart, not trying to recreate it. 
  
You can hear where songs bend, where voices break, where guitars start to shiver and when strings are about to snap; on 'You And Me,' you can almost hear Lou Reed’s ghost call for a solo, and on 'I Don’t Love You,' you get that subway-sound guitar and find out what happens when Jonathan Richman’s G-I-R-L-F-R-E-N goes wrong. And of course there’s the charismatic chaos of bootleg basement-tape Dylan—always Dylan, says Fitzsimons—and the locked-room psychedelia of Syd Barrett, especially on 'Charlie’s Lips', Fitzsimons’ ode to—or antidote to—those times when he felt the bleakness completely: “Then a bird lands on a branch nearby, you hear leaves fluttering, you hear a child laughing … all of a sudden things don't seem so bad anymore.” 
 
So Moloch might still be out there, devouring his sacrifices, but the Molochs are still fighting, too. And that’s why Fitzsimons picked the band name—it’s so he remembers what he’s up against. He’s not celebrating the destroyer of youth and individuality and creativity, he says: “I’m just keeping him in sight so that he doesn't win.” – Christopher Ziegler  

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Will Varley album 'Kingsdown Sundown' out 4 November 2016

Album release: 'Kingsdown Sundown' by Will Varley
Release date: 4 November 2016
Label: Xtra Mile Recordings
More info: Artist website 

Will Varley has reached an unstoppable velocity since signing with Xtra Mile Recordings in 2015 and shows no signs of slowing down as we announce fourth album ‘Kingsdown Sundown’ out 4th November 2016.

With the follow-up to the stellar Postcards From Ursa Minor, an album that propelled Will into unexplored territory, return tours with The Proclaimers and unbelievable summer festival sets, he continues to build upon broken spirits with this set of almost unbearably raw songs. First track to be lifted from the album is ‘To Build A Wall’ – an unnervingly timely indictment of simplistic solutions to incredible complex problems on both sides of the pond.
Watch the simple but powerful and provocative video here.

Recorded underneath a pub by the sea in Deal, Kent as the waves roared outside, 'Kingsdown Sundown' is a bleak and uncompromising critique of the human condition, journeying deep into our dreams, faults, regrets and politics. The songs are more visceral and uneasy than before, with fights in KFC descending into world wars, the all too real plight of refugees and the recent rise in hate crime. A collection of folk songs written over the course of the last year while travelling and touring – written on tour buses and trains, scribbled on the back of set lists and receipts – Will says “these are the most honest songs I've ever written and they represent new ground for me creatively. They may not be radio friendly, or even 'friendly' at all, but I’ve been wanting to make a record like this for a long time."

The rest of the album is hazier, more spectral and a phantom of memories, dreams, and hopes. If there's one song that haunts as much as it heals and warms the soul, it's 'Let Your Guard Down' which sounds like it was sung deeply into the howling wind in defiance, in hope and fear. The most directly political song 'We Want Our Planet Back' feels strongly enough to strap on an electric guitar and strum over Will's patient protest, but it indirectly lends its brooding power to 'Too Late Too Soon' which seems ready to crumple and break, a sandcastle made of a simmering mood. 'Back To Hell' could have come from any period in superstitious folk history, a tale of vague menace, mysticism and the underworld. Finally,  'We'll Keep Making Plans' threatens to build to a crescendo, but instead lets us drift out into a mental sea where the sun is setting on what we knew in favour of the unknown, resolving to carry on, continuing to build our futures on shakier foundations. It’s somehow not dispiriting; it’s more driven by determination to allow sadness not to rule our lives, but be an important part of it. 

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Blink-182 vinyl box set due 7 October 2016

Album release: 7 album limited edition vinyl box set from Blink-182
Release date: 7 October 2016
Label: UMG
More  info: uDiscover Music website 

Since their humble beginnings twenty-four years ago, when they started playing in a San Diego garage, Blink-182 has sold over fifty million albums worldwide and rocked audiences from Adelaide to Zurich having become one of the defining rock bands of their generation. The trio of bassist/vocalist Mark Hoppus, guitarist/vocalist Tom DeLonge and drummer Travis Barker, emerged from the Southern California pop-punk scene of the early ‘90s and quickly gained a reputation for their raucous live shows, incredibly catchy songs and irreverent, tongue-in-cheek humor. Blink-182’s latest studio release, California, with new member Matt Skiba of Alkaline Trio who replaced DeLonge, debuted at #1 in July, giving the band their second career #1 album and first in 15 years.   
 
UMG will bring Blink-182’s entire Universal catalogue together for the first time as a limited edition vinyl box set on October 7. The 10-LP collection will include their six studio albums on heavyweight 180-gram vinyl complete with MP3 downloads and consist of 1995’s 'Cheshire Cat', 1997’s 'Dude Ranch', 1999’s 'Enema Of The State' and 2001’s 'Take Off Your Pants And Jacket' on single LPs and 2003’s  'blink-182', 2011’s 'Neighborhoods' and their riotous live record, 2000’s 'The Mark',  Tom & Travis Show: The Enema Strikes Back!, as double LPs. A limited number of the vinyl boxes will come with exclusive stickers and a slipmat, only available at uDiscover: here. All titles will also be made available individually as “Back To Black” releases. 
 
'Cheshire Cat' was Blink-182’s debut studio album. Recorded at Westbeach Recorders in Los Angeles and Santee, Calif.’s Doubletime Studio and produced by Otis Barthoulameu and the band themselves, the album was originally released on February 17, 1995 through local San Diego-based record label Cargo Music who signed the band after hearing a handful of demos. The trio, composed of guitarist Tom DeLonge, bassist Mark Hoppus and drummer Scott Raynor, demonstrated their knack for catchy, energetic pop-punk and hinted at what was to come, leading to several major labels courting the band. Standouts 'M+M's' and 'Wasting Time' were released as singles to promote the album and received popularity on local radio. The band embarked on their first-ever national tour and expanded their fan base exponentially outside of So. Cal.  
 
'Dude Ranch' was the band’s second studio album for Cargo and was picked up for distribution by MCA, who signed the band in 1996 after winning a bidding war. It was the band’s last with original drummer Scott Raynor before he was replaced by Travis Barker of the Orange Country ska band The Aquabats. Recorded at Big Fish Studios in Encinitas, Calif., with producer Mark Trombino, the album produced the rock radio smash, 'Dammit,' on the heels of the band’s worldwide tour on the Van’s Warped Tour. Three more singles were released, including 'Apple Shampoo,' 'Dick Lips'and 'Josie,' with a video that was an MTV fixture. The album peaked at #67 on the Billboard 200, but eventually went platinum by 2000. U.K.’s Kerrang! ranked it #15 on its list of the “51 Greatest Pop Punk Albums Ever.” 
 
Blink-182’s third studio album, and first with new drummer Travis Barker, 'Enema of the State', marked their breakthrough to the mainstream and went on to sell 15 million copies sold worldwide, launching them to global fame. The band enlisted producer Jerry Finn, who a few years earlier had worked on Green Day’s smash, Dookie, and recorded the album at various studios throughout San Diego and Los Angeles over a three-month period. 'What's My Age Again?,' 'All the Small Things'and 'Adam's Song' became hit singles and staples on MTV and crossed over into Top 40. 'What’s My Age Again?' achieved the highest success on Billboard's Modern Rock Tracks chart, where it peaked at number two. It registered within the top 20 on UK Singles Chart as well, peaking at number 17. The subsequent 'All The Small Things' crossed over from alt-rock radio to contemporary hit radio, peaking at #6 on Billboard’s Hot 100 and #1 on the Modern Rock Tracks chart. It peaked at #2 in the UK and was a top 10 hit in Australia, Austria, Ireland, Italy and Sweden.  The album peaked at #9 on the Billboard 200, selling 109,000 copies in the U.S. its first week and eventually was certified five times platinum. The album was an international phenomenon: quadruple platinum in Canada, triple platinum in Australia, double platinum in Italy, platinum in the UK, gold in Austria, Germany, Indonesia, Mexico, the Philippines and Switzerland. Ranked #37 on Rolling Stone’s 2016 list of the “40 Greatest Punk Albums of All Time,” the album is cited as having an enormous impact on contemporary pop punk, reinventing it for and inspiring a new generation and spawning myriad bands. 

Recorded over two nights at L.A.’s Universal Amphitheatre and the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco in November 1999 by producer Jerry Finn, The Mark, Tom & Travis Show: The Enema Strikes Back!, released in 2000, captured the band in the midst of their meteoric rise as they enjoyed their first-ever arena tour. The high-energy set showcases songs from across their three studio albums with a focus on Enema Of The State which they were on tour supporting. A handful of songs – 'Family Reunion,' 'The Country Song,' 'Blow Job,' – were songs made up on tour and only played at the shows. The album features one non-live track, 'Man Overboard,' which was written during the Enema sessions and recorded after the tour. Released as the album’s lead single, it peaked at #2 on Billboard's Modern Rock Tracks chart. The record debuted at number eight on the Billboard 200 chart, selling 110,000 copies its first week. The fourth side of the vinyl release, titled 'Words of Wisdom,' closes out the album with 29 “skits,” examples of some of the wild between-song patter by DeLonge and Hoppus that has distinguished the band for its fans. 

Blink 182’s cleverly titled fifth studio album, 'Take Off Your Pants and Jacket', released in 2001, continued the band’s mainstream rein and became the first punk rock album to debut in the U.S. at #1 on the Billboard 200 with first week sales of 350,000 copies. It also debuted at #1 in Canada and landed on Germany’s Top 100 Albums. Within a year it went double platinum in the U.S. and went on to sell 14 million albums globally. All three singles – 'The Rock Show,' 'First Date' and 'Stay Together' were top 10 hits and led to national TV performances on the Late Show With David Letterman and Late Night With Conan O’Brien. The record, produced again by Jerry Finn, has been referred as a concept album chronicling adolescence, with songs dedicated to first dates, fighting authority and teenage parties. Kerrang! ranked it #14 on its list of 'The 50 Best Rock Albums of the 2000s.'

Blink-182 eponymous fifth studio album was released in 2003 following the group’s hiatus and involvement in various side projects such as Box Car Racer and Transplants. Recorded with longtime producer Jerry Finn, the album marks a departure from their earlier work, with experimental elements creeping into their usual pop-punk sound, inspired by both fatherhood and their work away from the group. The songwriting is both more personal and explores darker terrain, touching upon the realities of maturity and hardships. The track, 'All Of This,' features vocals by Robert Smith of The Cure, one of Hoppus’ musical idols and an obvious inspiration throughout the record. The album spawned four singles, including 'I Miss You,' which peaked at #1 on Billboard’s Modern Rock Tracks chart, #8 in the UK and New Zealand, #13 in Australia and #21 in Ireland. The video, directed by Jonas Akerlund, has racked up more than 133 million views to date. Album opener 'Feeling This' peaked at #2 on Billboard’s Modern Rock Tracks chart and was a top 20 hit in the UK and Australia. Entertainment Weekly wrote that "despite their newfound earnestness, [the band] seem incapable of pretension. And in a career littered with songs about awkward moments, their latest is a dork classic.” Slant’s gave the album four stars, stating, "Giving up the fart jokes is risky business for Blink—but Blink-182 might just be the band's best album to date. The album debuted at #3 on the Billboard 200 in the U.S., #1 in Canada and in the top 10 in Australia and New Zealand. It was certified double platinum in the states, eventually selling 2.6 million in the U.S. and a total of 7.5 million worldwide.  

Blink-182’s sixth studio album, 'Neighborhoods', released in 2011, was the band’s first new music in eight years, following a six-year hiatus where each of them focused on other projects and family life. Hoppus, DeLonge and Barker were inspired to get the band back together following Barker’s near-fatal plane crash with his friend and fellow survivor DJ AM, and the premature death of their longtime producer Jerry Finn, often called “the fourth member of the band.” As a result of Finn’s death, the band produced 'Neighborhoods' themselves, which would end up being DeLonge’s last album with Blink. The band worked on the album apart and got together several time to record. Each member’s influences inspired their contributions to the record and the sum resulted in a sound that recalled their individual upbringings. The album’s title stemmed from the idea that each musician brought something unique to the band much like the various neighborhoods that make up a city. The album debuted at #2 on the Billboard 200 and #1 on both the Alternative Albums and Top Rock Albums charts. All Music Guide was impressed with the band’s new, more mature direction and said it was "a different beast than any of the cheerfully snotty early Blink-182 albums, as the band picks up the gloomy thread left hanging on its eponymous 2003 album ... yet it's far better to hear Blink-182 grapple with adolescent angst via the perspective of middle age than vainly attempting to re-create their youth.” New York magazine called the record "one of those albums on which a group reunites as professionals and equals, each having gone off and collected his own interests via side projects, and then negotiates a sound that brings it all to bear: no-nonsense modern rock, serious but unpretentious, ambitious but full of the same easy hooks as ever." The album would end up being DeLonge’s last with the band. 
 

 

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Mikko Joensuu new album 'Amen 2' due 9 December 2016

Album release: 'Amen 2'  by Mikko Joensuu
Release date: 9 December 2016
Label: Svart Records
More info: Artist website

Mikko Joensuu's soul-searching Amen trilogy continues with 'Amen 2'. Last spring's 'Amen 1' album saw the singer-songwriter laying low, sitting alone on the porch of his small cabin by the lake, staring into the water and strumming his acoustic guitar. On 'Amen 2' he gets up and walks into the forest to meet the rays of the rising sun. But the story behind 'Amen 2', and indeed the trilogy as a full works, is not quite as romantic as the idea of recording in a studio overlooking a lake in northern Finland makes it sound.  
 
Raised in religious surroundings, the seven years leading up to the release of this series were fraught with depression and loneliness, as Joensuu slowly came to terms with the idea that God did not exist in his mind anymore. 'Amen 2' looks into the strange thoughts that run through a person’s head while they losing their religion, and the fragile feeling of trust in one’s mind that has been close to a collapse for years.  
 
As Joensuu explains; “There's a certain balance to be found between an overwhelming joy towards the beauty of life and living, and not really knowing if the mind will collapse into the abyss again. On 'Amen 2' the light is definitely present, although it is more interested in observing emotions and thoughts than setting them in stone.”  
 
Many characteristics from the album’s predecessor are carried over here, but where 'Amen 1' channelled its hopelessness into vulnerable folk songs in the spirit of Josh T Pearson and Leonard Cohen, on 'Amen 2'¸Joensuu now begins to paint with a bigger brush, and with more colours. Its long, euphoric tracks inhabit a similar musical territory as My Bloody Valentine's shoegazer melodies or Spiritualized's space gospel, infused in a certain joie-de-vivre. It is a step into the light, in every respect, and a record that is built on the feeling of relief and acceptance. It careers through the restrictive boundaries of its predecessor.   
 
“In 'Amen 1' I had rules of only using acoustic instruments and to keep everything restrained up to a point. 'Amen 2' doesn't have this type of boundaries. The music is as big or noisy as it needs to be in order for it to be in a conversation with the emotions or thoughts that I'm trying to put in a certain form.”  
 
With the concept of a trilogy there are always going to be big ideas; Mikko Joensuu proves himself a master in delivering these in a consistently poignant, emotionally intelligent way that can’t fail to resonate. Whatever his own misgivings about faith, Joensuu is forging something for us all to believe in. 

Press reaction to date

"With a voice which wobbles unsteadily, recalling Roger McGuinn of The Byrds, Joensuu immediately exposes a vulnerability in his music, a crack into which seeps doubt, loneliness and a questioning of higher powers." – The Line of Best Fit

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Tress Of Eternity single 'Broken Mirror' due 11 November 2016

Single release: 'Broken Mirror' by Tress Of Eternity
Release date: 11 November 2016
Label: Svart Records
More info: Svart Records YouTube

Atmospheric doom-metallers Trees Of Eternity have shared the lyric video for their new track 'Broken Mirror' - their first since the tragic loss of lead-singer Aleah Starbridge.  Featuring Fredrik Norrman and Mattias Norrman (ex-Katatonia/October Tide) and Kai Hahto (Wintersun, Swallow the Sun).

'Broken Mirror' is featured on their forthcoming album, Hour of the Nightingale which will be released November 11 on Svart Records. Album available to pre-order from August 29th. The announce comes alongside a heartfelt letter from the band:  

Dear friends. 
 
Today is the day we can start to celebrate the music, lyrics and life of our beautiful Queen who so tragically and suddenly crossed the bridge of stars and left this world so young and so soon... So with tears in my eyes but my heart pounding with a proud, victorious beat I can finally tell you that our long awaited album 'Hour of the Nightingale' will be released worldwide on November 11th through Svart Records and pre-orders start August 29th. 
Here is the first single from the album, 'Broken Mirror', with a beautiful and very touching lyric video Vesa Ranta made for the song. 

There really are no words to describe the ultimate weight of the darkness, or the rays of the brightest of light that this album holds within its songs and lyrics. In so many ways this album turned out to be the most important album I've done in my life, and we both loved it from the first note to the last as we wrote it. 

About Aleah... I have never met a person and a musician more connected to the very core of the absolute emotion and the soul of each note and every word she wrote or sang. She wanted her music and lyrics to be 110% honest and truthful, absolutely nothing less would do. Music was her religion and passion, a gateway to her soul and beyond. There will never be another songwriter or voice like hers that can turn the day into the darkest of night, or turn the darkness into blinding light with just one word or a whisper. 

We were very proud to record 'Hour of the Nightingale' together with our friends, band mates and amazing musicians, Kai Hahto, Mattias and Fredrik Norrman who all played their hearts out on this album. And working with another good friend Jens Bogren producing, recording, mixing and mastering the album were were ready to take this music to the world and play it to you all. Sadly that never happened... But this is the point where we can finally start this long journey and celebrate our Queen and singer Aleah Starbridge whose words and music will live forever on. 

My heart is truly black and broken after the tragic loss of Aleah, but every time hearing her voice in these songs something pierces through the darkness like an flaming arrow. I hope this album will do the same to you no matter what might be shadowing your own path and bring you some solace and peace. 

I want to thank you all for showing so much love towards Aleah after her sudden passing. My friends, this is where her legacy starts, through the voice of an angel at this hour of the nightingale. Bless you all. 

Juha and on behalf of Kai, Fredrik and Mattias / Trees of Eternity

 

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The Gentle Good new album due 14 October 2016

Album release: 'Ruins/Adfeilion' by The Gentle Good
Release date:  14 October 2016
Label: Bubblewrap Collective
More info: Band Soundcloud

October  sees  the  return  of  acclaimed  Cardiff  singer-songwriter  and  folk  musician  Gareth Bonello,  also  known  as The  Gentle  Good.  A  collaborator  of  a  great  many  beloved artists, including  Cate  Le  Bon,  Richard  James  (Gorky's Zygotic  Mynci) and  Welsh  Music  Prize winner Georgia Ruth, Bonello’s fourth album Ruins/Adfeilion is one that’s title alone serves best to reflect the disparate themes within. Although not represented by a single concept, the songs have common themes of history, identity and social commentary. The title refers to a realisation that there is no true freedom to make the world as we would choose, but instead have  to  live  amongst  the  ruins  of previous  generations.  Some  of  these  ruins  are beautiful links  to our  past,  providing  a  sense  of place  and cultural  identity  for  instance, whilst  others are dangerous obstacles that hinder our progress.  

As  the  follow-up  to  2013’s Y  Bardd  Anfarwol  (The  Immortal  Bard) –  an  ambitious intercontinental project  during  which  Bonello  travelled  to  Chengdu,  China,  to  create  a project combining both Welsh and Chinese traditions - Ruins/Adfeilion looks much closer to home,  but  with  no  lesser  global outlook. Gwen  Lliw’r  Lili  (Gwen  colour  of  the  Lilly)  is  a fitting  album  opener  -  being  a  traditional Welsh  folk  song  from  the  Maria  Jane Williams Collection,  Ancient  National  Airs  of  Gwent  and Morgannwg (1844) –  and  an outward statement on the influence that the continuing influence of Welsh folk music on his writing. The guitar instrumental Un i Sain Ffagan (One for Saint Fagans), for instance, is Bonello’s own ode to his former place of employment, Saint Fagans Natural History Museum, and the spot where he himself first discovered traditional Welsh music. 

Many of the songs featured here pay tribute to the past whilst others address, in very direct terms, contemporary issues.  

Rivers of  Gold is  a  plaintive and  simple  protest  song  tackling the  subject of  trickle down economics, written in response to rising wealth inequality and the fact that it is the poor that have  had to  bear  the  brunt of  austerity.  Here  Bonello  channels Guthrie,  Dylan –  complete with harmonica solo –and there’s a touch of Stuart Murdoch in the lilting refrain “Rivers of gold / What a sight to behold / They’re the rivers that never will run.”In turn, Bound For Lampedusa tells  the  story of  Lampedusa,  a tiny  Italian  island close to  the Libyan  coast, noted  for  its acceptance of  thousands of  African refugees,  fleeing  conflict and  poverty.  The song was penned in despair at the lack of an appropriate response from both the UK and the EU to the refugee crisis, with the scale of some of the journeys taken perhaps reflected by the song’s near 7-minute length, as Bonello explains; “Thousands have lost their lives and many more continue to  risk  everything to  make  the  crossing in  search of  a  better life in  Europe. The song is told from the perspective of a group of refugees drifting in the Mediterranean, wondering    what    their    fate    will    be.    Seb    Goldfinch    wrote   the   string   and brass accompaniment so  beautifully  performed by  the  Mavron  Quartet,  and Jack  and  Callum provided  the  rhythm  section.  Profit  from  this  track  will be  donated to Oasis  Cardiff,  a centre  that provides  much  needed  social  services to  refugees  and asylum seekers in  the city.”

Elsewhere, Suffer   The   Small   Birds(a   deliberate   misquote   from   Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus)  makes the  political  point of  not  ignoring  the  little  voice. “The eagle  suffers the little birds to  sing  and is  not  careful  what  they  mean  thereby, knowing  that  with  the shadow of  his wings, he  can at  pleasure  stint  their melody.” Winston  Churchill is  said to have  used  the  quote after  World  War II,  his  attitude being that  they  needn’t  listen to  the concerns of the smaller nations, ultimately sowing the seeds for future conflict in the region.  

Tradition is then turned on its head for Pen draw’r Byd (The Far Side of The World), a song Bonello describes as  his “feminist  zombie  folk song”, saying; “This is  a  song  about  a young girl awaiting the return of her sailor boy. These tragic females commonly appear in Welsh folk song  and  their  role is  almost  always to  wander some bleak shoreline  and  helplessly yearn for the return of their lost love, who usually never comes back. I wanted to turn the tradition around  and so in  this  song  the young  lady curses the  sea  and wishes it be  left to the lonesome  cries of  the  seagulls. In  the  last verse she tells  herself that  even if  her  young love  should  return  from  the  dead  complete  with a crown of  sand and  seaweed in  his  hair she  would  still  beg  the  moon to  drag  the  sea and everything in it to  the  far  side of  the world.”

Album  closer Merch  y  Morfa  (Estuary Girl) makes  up  the album’s  sombre  lament  for  his late   grandmother,   featuring   a   field   recording   of   a   Curlew’s   fittingly   mournful   cry. Ruins/Adfeilion is  The  Gentle  Good’s message  to  world in  2016;  a  biting  commentary,  a dance with the past, a scorning of the present, and a new perspective on the traditional.  

The Musicians - Fiona Bassett (French Horn), Gareth Bonello (Lead Vocal, Guitars, Piano, Harmonium, Harmonica), Callum Duggan (Double Bass), Jack Egglestone (Drums & Percussion), Dylan Fowler (Mandocello & Lap Steel), Ceri Jones (Trombone), Georgia Ruth Williams (Harp & vocals), Tomos Williams (Trumpet) Strings performed by The Mavron QuartetChristiana Mavron (First Violin), Katy Rowe (Second Violin), Niamh Ferris (Viola), Beatrice Newman (Cello) 

Press reaction to date

**** - Mojo

“Spell-binding” – Uncut

“Relaxed but sturdy Celtic melodies.” – The Guardian

“Certain to glide into people’s sonic subconscious as gently and wonderfully as Gareth Bonello’s alias suggests.” – The Line Of Best Fit

“The Gentle Good, and its delicate, beautifully arranged songs deserve to reach a wider audience.” – The 405

“Unassumingly lovely.” – fRoots

“Exceptional.” – Folk Radio

 

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Chain Wallet debut album due 7 October 2016

Album release: Chain Wallet
Release date: 7 October 2016
Label: Jansen Plateproduksjon
More info: Band Soundcloud

It can’t be denied that there is something sorrowful behind the Bergen-based, lo-fi dream/psych pop trio Chain Wallet, and they can’t hide that their music suits the environment wherein it was created. It may be a cliché that it always rains in the band’s hometown, but when you play Chain Wallet’s self-titled debut album, it’s not too difficult imagine the mist hanging heavily over their dystopian vision of Bergen.  
 
Even though feelings of nostalgia and melancholy lurk in the Scandinavian shadows, it’s not difficult to find indie-pop gold in its purest form, glittering below the heavy layers of synth and reverb. Tracks like ‘Shade’ and ‘Abroad’ have an up-tempo urgency to them which calls to mind bands like Motorama, whereas other dreamy psych ballads like ‘Muted Colours’ and ‘Stuck In The Fall’ occupy a rich and hazy middle ground between Diiv and Wild Nothing. Though Chain Wallet may not have many genre colleagues in Norway, they easily join the ranks behind international indie counterparts like Twin Shadow or Beach Fossils.  
 
On their debut album, Chain Wallet explore themes of betrayal, idleness and crushed dreams against the backdrop of an existential breakdown. Wrapped in the shimmer and haze of the lo-fi soundscape that they conjure, the album is loosely based in the same universe, and portrays different aspects of the quarter-life crisis.  
 
Frode Boris from the band explains the band’s ethos and sound: “We want to capture the acute distress of an afflicted character; his self-indulgent pity, gradual loss of touch with reality and his forlorn attempts on returning to normal life. The abrupt disintegration unveils interesting tensions between urgency and inertia. The album is about fragmented memories, unfulfilled ambitions and the quiet whisper of a stranger.” 
 
With this debut the band show their absolute strength. Not just purveyors of somber earworms, they also possess a real skill for unifying the light and the dark, blurring the line between sorrow and happiness, leaving an enduring sense of quiet elation, after a journey that is both contemplative and pensive. That’s the impact good music should have.  

Press Reaction To Date

“...the band create a sense of urgency without ever really rushing towards anything...’’ – The 405
 
“Ones To Watch” – The Guardian
 
“New Wave-inflected widescreen shoegaze-pop... all ringing guitars and instagrammed vocals, the dreamy vibe accompanied by deceptively stadium-ready hooks’’ – Ja Ja Ja
 
“[Chain Wallet] have the chiming guitars and slightly fey vocals, but with the added twist of a bit of C86 dreaminess’’ – Nordic Spotlight

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Albert Af Ekenstam debut album our 14 October 2016

Album release: 'Ashes' by Albert af Ekenstam
Release date: 14 October 2016
Label: Kning Disk
More info: Artist website

Nine months have passed – have fallen like red autumn leaves to the ground –since I first heard Albert af Ekenstam’s melancholic solo material. 

During this time Albert has, amongst other things, released two singles on Kning Disk ('Walking' and 'Angel Liz'), acted as a warm up act for The Posies and Bear’s Den, moved from Gothenburg to Stockholm and appeared in prestigious Swedish music magazines such as Sonic and HYMN.  Naming his influences as Explosions in the Sky, Bon Iver and Mogwai, it is more than easy to lose yourself over and over in his mournful guitars, grandiose arrangements, heartfelt voice and poignant lyricism.  

What days and nights! On the 14th of October Albert of Ekenstam’s debut album ‘Ashes’ will meet its expectant audience. Singer/guitarist Sumie Nagano (whose self-titled album on Bella Union is a must for all who love unique voices), drummer/ keyboardist/producer Filip Leyman (who, together with Albert, make up the post-rock constellation Tempel) and trumpeter Max Lindahl (known from a number of jazz bands) have all helped Albert bring it to fruition. 

What a record it is! Like Elliot Smith (rest in peace) and Damien Jurado before him, Albert is a brave and straightforward singer-songwriter. His melodies and lyrics are like uncensored and infinitely beautiful letters – without euphemisms and false chords they let you know what’s on his mind. At the same time, they’re universal – if you’ve loved and lost you can relate to them completely. 

And yet it is full of hope! Albert’s mother died when he was 12 years old and him and his sister had to bring themselves up alone for the most part. Much of the album touches on loneliness and how he had to take responsibility early in his life in order to manage his own future –including his relationships and how he learnt to build a ‘safe point’ from within before relying on others. Songs like ‘The Devil Bird’ tell the tale of fighting to choose the right way you want to live and not living to the standards built up by outsiders. 

They also stir the internal movie projector. With “Ashes” on the stereo and eyes closed, memory fragments, glowing emotions and pure dreams fly and stir through your soul. Filip’s production (which you’ve heard on Anna von Hausswolff’s two latest albums) is both intimate and grand at the same time, making this personal cinematic experience even more sensational. 
What more can you ask for? 

 

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Seth Lakeman album released 16 September 2016

Album release: 'Ballads Of The Broken Few' by Seth Lakeman
Release date: 16 September 2016
Label: Cooking Vinyl
More info: Artist website

Seth Lakeman's eighth studio album is a stunning combination of his dynamic songwriting and playing, the genius of legendary producer Ethan Johns and the sublime harmony vocals of emerging young female trio Wildwood Kin. Between them they have conjured up an epic, soulful album of compelling songs that are stripped back to their very essence.

Ethan Johns has worked with the likes of Ryan Adams, Kings of Leon, Paul McCartney, Tom Jones, Ray LaMontagne, Laura Marling, The Staves and Crosby, Stills and Nash.  He agreed to produce the album after Seth sent him one roughly recorded song on his mobile phone, with Wildwood Kin adding their lush harmonies to his own gritty lead vocals.

Continuing Seth's unique vision for recording in inspiring locations – previous albums have been recorded in a church and a copper mine - the 11 tracks for Ballads of the Broken Few were cut live with an organic, acoustic vibe in the Great Hall of a Jacobean Manor House and they shine with the atmosphere of that setting. The spiritual-sounding songs have a trance-like quality: they encompass evocative contemporary messages, yet have an ethereal sound as if they have been hanging in the air for centuries. Ethan has let nothing impair the raw, visceral content - just enshrined the pure sounds of voices and ringing instruments. He comments "The kind of record I like captures human performance."

The mood is set from track one. Seths soaring vocals are perfectly complimented by the seamless harmonies of Wildwood Kin - two sisters (Emillie and Beth Key) and their cousin (Meghann Loney), also from Devon. When Seth met them at a local charity gig, he was immediately struck by their effortless ability to create intuitive harmonies.

There is Seth's trademark stomp, his swooping, sighing and aching fiddle and viola, and strident electric tenor guitar. Multi-instrumentalist Ethan can't resist joining in on subtle underlying "dirty" electric guitar, mandolin and even hurdy-gurdy! "

'Ballads of the Broken Few' has seven original tracks plus a striking cover of 'Anna Lee', the Laurelyn Dossett song from Levon Helm's Grammy-winning 'Dirt Farmer' album. Seth also revisited the Cecil Sharp House archive featured in 'The Full English' project, which resulted in him and fellow leading British folk musicians claiming 'Best Group' and 'Best Album' at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards. He has re-worked several traditional broadsides, including 'The Stranger' and 'The Willow Tree', and there is also his take on a 19th century moralistic song, 'Pulling Hard Against the Stream'. The album will be available on CD, vinyl and digital.

Since the Mercury Prize nominated 'Kitty Jay' (recorded in his kitchen for £300), the follow-up gold selling 'Freedom Fields' and his last, highly acclaimed offering, 'Word of Mouth', a deft collection of mini musical biographies of colourful West Country characters, Seth Lakeman has relentlessly pushed his musical boundaries and those of folk and roots music. His innovative approach, ground-breaking albums and powerful live performances have put him at the forefront of the re-emergence of British folk and successfully steered it into the mainstream. With 'Ballads of the Broken Few' Seth demonstrates yet again that, far from being complacent, he is constantly exploring new and bold musical paths.  

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Georgia Ruth new album due7 October 2016

Album release:  'Fossil Scale' by Georgia Ruth
Release date: 7 October 2016
Label: Navigator Records
More info: Artist website

Welsh singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Georgia Ruth has announced a new album 'Fossil Scale', due for release on October 7, 2016 via Navigator Records. The record is the follow up to 2013’s Welsh Music Prize winning Week Of Pines - a feat Georgia never contemplated she’d achieve for her critically acclaimed, bilingual debut album. The record prompted The  Guardian to tip her as ‘One of the British folk discoveries of the year’, with Georgia going on to be twice nominated in the 2014 BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards, alongside radio support across Radio 1 and 6Music. UK live dates to support the release of 'Fossil Scale' are expected to be announced shortly. 
 
'Fossil Scale' was written in Caernarfon, a town in North Wales defined by its space and tranquil landscape that Georgia, at the time, called home. The ancient surroundings of the town– its body of water and the neighbouring Snowdonia mountains - came to exert as strong a bearing on 'Fossil Scale' as the hours of Beck, Radiohead and Bowie albums that tracked this writing period. Though it wasn’t until Georgia stumbled upon a news article about a mysterious ‘mutant-fish’ - with reptilian head & fossilised scales- discovered by Russian fishermen, that she began to quantify her own life in relation to her immutable surroundings. This fish became something of a representation of those constants, as Georgia began to explore the detachment from them that modern life had brought about. 
 
Switching out her previous go-to writing tool- the harp- for a piano in search of a more expansive yet ambient sound, Georgia headed into the familiar setting of Snowdonia’s Bryn Derwen Studio in January 2015, to lay down the foundations of what would become Fossil Scale. When the sale of the studio just 5 days into recording threw plans awry, recording time was then split between studios in London and Cardiff – in the case of the latter, at friends and collaborators Manic Street Preachers’ Faster Studios (Georgia sung on ‘Divine Youth’, a track that featured on the Manics’ Futurology album). The album was finally pieced together in Mwnci Studios, co-produced with Italian producer Marta Salogni (Phil Selway, Eliot Sumner) and long-time collaborator David Wrench (Caribou, Bat For Lashes) some 11 months after those initial sessions began. 

During the year long period of recording, Georgia herself also relocated from Caernarfon to Cardiff- a move she considers pivotal to the album’s development, enabling her to further explore themes of detachment as she moved and lived around the world’s quiet constants. The comparative clamour of city life prompted those songs written in the quiet of Caernarfon to shed skin and inhabit a different world, mirroring Georgia’s own move. Thus, Fossil Scale is a marked progression in song-writing and style, driven heavily by keys, synths, guitars and layered recorders, alongside an Indian stringed instrument called the sarangi. The latter came about following an introduction to Hindustani classical music during time spent on The British Council's 'Folk Nations' project in Kolkata, where Georgia met James Yorkston-collaborator Suhail Yusuf Khan, who fittingly went on to play the instrument on Fossil Scale. In particular, tracks like the brass-capped ‘Good Milk’ and the album’s playful title track bear the stunning effects of this augmented instrumentation and layering, marking an adept departure from the more traditional folk foundations of ‘Grand Tour’, and the songs which comprised Week of Pines. 
 
Georgia currently still finds time to present regularly for the BBC’s Welsh-speaking radio arm BBC Cymru, where the selections during her 3 hour weekly programme champion not only the camaraderie felt between Welsh musicians, but the language itself. It’s little surprise then, that Fossil Scale is imbued with both- Georgia dips into her native Welsh on a sparsely tender cover of Meic Stevens’ ‘Sylvia’, whilst school-friend Meilyr Jones sings on the title track, ‘The Doldrums’ and ‘When I Was Blue’.  
 
Ultimately, whilst 'Fossil Scale' is a homage to the world’s, and life’s inscrutable constants, it is more pertinently a snapshot which captures Georgia Ruth as a young artist in unmistakeable transition. 

Press reaction to date

“A dazzling debut, rich with sweet pain and joy” - The Independent **** 

“Her own debut is a wonder, full of longing and melody” - MOJO **** 

“It could have been made in 1968, in the loveliest possible way” - Indy on Sunday **** 

“One of the British folk discoveries of the year” - The Guardian

“Heaven.” - Lauren Laverne, 6Music

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Black Surf debut EP out 26 August 2016

EP Release: 'Let’s Pretend It’s Summer' by Black Surf
Release date: 26 August
Label: Cowboy Records
More info: Band Soundcloud

Black Surf have an unusual backstory having formed in 2014 through the wonders of FaceTime and Dropbox. The fruits of their exchanges between Leeds, UK and Sydney, Australia have come to form their debut EP 'Let’s Pretend It’s Summer', recorded at Greenmount Studios (The Cribs, Pulled Apart By Horses, The Vaccines). 
 
Not much longer than 10 minutes in its entirety, Black Surf specialise in the kind of fuzzed-up, adrenaline-shot indie-rock that’s straight to the point and doesn’t outstay its welcome. The reckless pace of opening track Sink’s synth-flecked bubblegum buzz is matched only by its enthusiasm and wild abandon. Bastard Man floats Pinkerton-era Weezer tones complete with its own narcissist complex, as vocalist Ali Epstone sings “I think I’m falling for you / I think I’m falling for me more.” before the amped-up motivational sermon of Get Up implores you to, well, Get Up / Get Out / Get Over.” EP Closer Baby Blue Washburn offers a moment of respite ahead of – what else – a huge chorus. Long Live Black Surf.  

Press reaction to date

“Oooh Weee Oooh they sound just like something brilliant.” - Rock Sound

“waves of outwardly catchy choruses and sun blistered chords.” - The 405

“…imbued with a far, weary, Weezer-iness that we just can’t stop huffing.” - Total Guitar

“Black Surf have a gift for thumping great melody that clearly threatens to propel them far beyond Yorkshire's shapely borders” - Classic Rock

“Keep a look out for more tracks from these guys in the coming months. We have a feeling you'll be hearing their name a lot.” - Pure Volume

 

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