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Singer-songwriter

James Robinson: 'Start a Fire' EP out now

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EP release: "Start a Fire" by James Robinson
Release date: 1 December 2015
More information / listen: on official James Robinson website

"Assured, enticing and all the more powerful live" Music Week

For Devonian songwriter James Robinson, the decision to leave behind the comfort of his touring band and friends was a tough one to make. Fronting Brighton-based, alt-pop band Two Spot Gobi, Robinson found success touring the UK, USA and Europe in support of household names such as Jason Mraz and Bruno Mars. Something wasn’t clicking for him though, and his focus slowly shifted toward other was to express himself through music. He was growing up.

Deciding to look at the positives, and see it as a chance to raid his own personal treasure trove of lyrics scribbled on napkins while on tour, ideas saved into smartphones and forgotten melodies locked away in old Garage Band files, he set about following up 2012’s ‘Ropes’ EP, bringing these pieces up to date with fresh inspiration and new production direction. Holing up in the studio with Fink and Lily Allen producer Max Gilkes, new life was breathed into the first songs to emerge, eventually culminating in what would become ‘Start a Fire’. Robinson’ offers his own thoughts on the result: “At times it’s energetic and hopeful, other times it’s a little more pragmatic and cynical but creatively speaking it’s where I find myself currently – somewhere in between. It’s real, and I hope people will grasp that”.    

The title track’s bustling percussion offers a brisk glimpse into Robinson’s thoughtful world but the centrepiece here is the understatedly epic Holes In The Sky. What begins playful, strides assuredly on with the introduction of electric guitar and further percussion, ensuring an expansive atmosphere. EP closer "Smoke & Ashes", contrastingly, feels totally personal. We’re let into something that was perhaps meant for one person to hear - something for a troubled soul. It’s this that Robinson excels at. He sets the scene wonderfully and, under Gilkes' skilful production, brings images to life and creates a mood to get lost in, with one eye firmly focussed on melody. 

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New EP from Roxanne de Bastion

Roxanne de Bastion EP cover
Roxanne de Bastion EP cover

EP Release: “Seeing You” by Roxanne de Bastion

Release date: 22 September 2014

Label: Hidden Trail Records 

Listen: on official Roxanne de Bastion website

“Recalls moments of Martha Wainwright, Joni Mitchell and, more contemporarily, Laura Marling” - Artrocker

“If you ever get a chance to go see her live – definitely do!” - BBC Introducing

Seeing You was recorded in London and produced by Ben Walker (radio 2 Folk Award Nominee). The EP contains 4 new tracks of cutting and clever lyrics, delivered with what BBC6 producer Tom Whalley said to be “one of the most perfect voices [he’s] ever heard”.

Roxanne de Bastion was born in Berlin and grew up both in England and Germany until she set out on her own, leaving Berlin for London, equipped only with her guitar and a one-way ticket. The young troubadour tours throughout the UK, mainland Europe and the United States, all on trains and busses. She self-released her debut album The Real Thing, produced by Gordon Raphael (The Strokes / Regina Spektor) in 2013 and has since then been invited to speak at music industry panels on the subjects of DIY music, copyright and the future of music, along side Fran Healy (Travis) and Ed O’Brien (Radiohead). She has already been championed by Tom Robinson on BBC6, John Kennedy on XFM, Ruth Barnes on Amazing Radio, as well as MTV and Radio Eins in Germany. With Seeing You, Roxanne de Bastion continues to forge her own style and a unique approach to a classic musical genre.

Musically, Roxanne’s compositions are routed in the music of the 1960’s, but the tone of voice is very much her own and the stories told are expressed in a way that could only be now. Her lyrics range from introspective journeys in Seeing You and Same Moon, through to observations on instant gratification and repetition (Rerun) and the tearing down of the East Side Gallery in Berlin, Roxanne’s town of birth (Wasteland).

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New album from Mary Gauthier, 'Trouble and Love'

Album release: Trouble and Love by Mary Gauthier
Label: Proper Records
Release date: June 9
Listen on: official Mary Gauthier website 

“With songwriting as powerful as hers, there’s no need to go looking for qualifiers…She’s a unique, intrinsically valuable musical voice. And there’s never a surplus of those.” — Randy Lewis, Los Angeles Times

A Louisiana-native turned Nashville-resident, Mary Gauthier (it’s French - pronounced Go-SHAY) has had an extraordinary life. A teenage runaway who found her first shelter among addicts and drag queens, struggled with drug addiction and became a chef/owner of three restaurants in Boston before selling them in 2001 to become a full time songwriter.

She has subsequently received countless accolades for her six studio albums. The New York Times music writer John Pareles picked 2001’s Filth and Fire as the #1 indie release of the year, 2005’s Mercy Now earned her the Americana Music Association’s New/Emerging Artist of the Year title and 2011’s The Foundling was named as one of the Records of the Year by the LA Times.

Mary’s songs have been praised by both Bob Dylan and Tom Waits and recorded by Jimmy Buffett, Blake Shelton, Boy George, Tim McGraw, Candi Staton amongst others.

After years of measured success in the world of record deals and major labels, Gauthier has now taken the reins to her business.  “I am now happily and successfully working with my own team outside of the major label model,” she says, “Taking back and claiming my power is the underlying theme of this project, and of my life.”

Trouble and Love, her first studio CD since 2010, was co-produced by Mary with Patrick Granado (whose credits include Grammys for a Delbert McClinton record he produced and a tribute CD to Stephen Foster), recorded in Ricky Skaggs studio outside Nashville and features the support of Darrell Scott, Beth Nielsen Chapman and Ashley Cleveland.

One track from Trouble and Love, “How You Learn To Live Alone”, co-written with Gretchen Peters, was chosen for Season II of the hit TV show Nashville. On the record, the legendary Duane Eddy plays guitar on this song.

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New single from Rupert Stroud

Single release: Morning Light by Rupert Stroud
Release date: 31 March 2014
Listen on: official Rupert Stroud website 

Displaying strong-hearted, beat driven acoustic rock, inspired tracks. Rupert Stroud possesses fantastic vocal ability. Having been compared to Richard Ashcroft, Jim Morrison and Nick Cave with a hint of Elbow, Stroud has already attracted significant attention from music media. New single ‘Morning Light’ is the first offering from an upcoming brand new album.

Rupert’s working with eminent British producer Will Jackson (The Kaiser Chiefs, Embrace, The Cribs). It was his work with Will that produced Rupert’s second album ‘Chasing The Night’. This was a breakthrough project for Rupert and saw him dubbed as one of Yorkshire’s hottest young artists.

Reaction

  • “Chasing The Night 4/5” - Acoustic Magazine 
  • “Twisted Games is an amazing new tune from Rupert Stroud” - NME 
  • “His songs have that strum along/ sing along quality that in itself is a gift 4/5” - Guitar Techniques

The plaudits kept coming, and Rupert was soon performing with his band on the festival circuit, sharing the stage with artist such as Gabrielle Aplin, Ocean Colour Scene, Chris Helme (Seahorses) Benjamin Francis Leftwich, Marcus Foster, ASH , The Dunwells, Mark Morris (Bluetones) and Scars on 45 to name a few.

Rupert’s career has gone from strength to strength and his most recent release “Never Back Down” has caught the ears of national radio, receiving radio play and plaudits from the likes of BBC Radio 2’s Dermot O’Leary, Whispering Bob Harris, BBC 6 Music’s Tom Robinson and Hattie Pearson at XFM. This led to Rupert and the band being invited by BBC Radio London for a live session and interview. Rupert also received his first US radio airplay on KX 93.5FM Laguna Beach California. His music video for ‘Never Back Down’ won “People’s Choice Award 2013” at The 27th Leeds International Film Festival, beating 31 other artist entries and gaining 25% of the votes cast.

As a “Champion Spokesperson” for Alzheimer’s Research UK, a cause close to his heart, Rupert has raised over £6000 to date through various campaigns and events including his charity single ‘Always’. The single was written in memory of his grandmother who suffered with Alzheimer’s. As a media spokesperson for the charity, Rupert was recently interviewed by The Guardian newspaper talking about the tragedy of the illness and why he became involved. Rupert was also interviewed on Al Jazeera International News programme “Inside Story”, where the video for his charity single ‘Always’ was broadcast.

Rupert is back in the studio with Will Jackson working on his third album due for release in 2014. You can hear some of the new unreleased material here.

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Chris Garneau to release 'Winter Games' on April 21

Album release: Winter Games by Chris Garneau
Release date: April 21 2014
Label: Clouds Hill Recording
Listen: on Soundcloud 

"As a writer he has the deadpan playfulness of Bill Callahan and a delicate tenor voice that recalls Sufjan Stevens. The wistfulness masks beautiful melodies…"- Uncut

“Chris hints at hope throughout the excellent Music For Tourists, not to mention a classically keen sense for composition (enter Rufus) and Buckley in the voicebox, both in his breathy and vibrato fueled moments” - Stereogum

“Garneau relies on minimal instrumentation -- a smattering of piano and cello, to go with his dangerously beautiful voice -- and the result is a chilling disquiet” - NPR song of the day

"The singer-songwriter Chris Garneau’s fanciful and ornate compositions are haunted with melancholia and a dreamlike innocence; his falsetto voice often dances over staccato piano notes accompanied by sorrowful violin and pastoral cello parts." - The New Yorker

"With a voice equal parts tender, warm, and haunting, Chris Garneau is like the male version of Regina Spektor (with a bit of Sufjan Stevens thrown in). With each song, you're taken on an emotional rollercoaster, and you enjoy the ride, going from celebration to sadness, nostalgia to hope." - Nylon

When Chris Garneau started working on "Winter Games" five years ago, he had a simple premise in mind: exploring the frostbitten season through secondhand story lines. Not long-forgotten memories of merriment and myrrh so much as the many ways smothered sunrises and blanketed windowsills manipulate our moods and tighten―or in some cases, altogether undo ―our family ties.

The first two tracks Garneau wrote (simply titled "Winter Song 1" and Winter Song 2" despite being much denser lyrically) weren't just about seeing ghosts or sinking one's teeth into piles of freshly packed snow. They also delved into such dark topics as abuse, incest, and neglect. Things only got deeper from there, too, transcending the singer's original concept with minor-keyed tales of hastily drained happiness, unheeded warnings, and swift mood swings.

"This record isn't about trivial shit" explains Garneau. "It's about why love doesn't happen right, how your person is shaped in the early stages of life. It's about defeating parental abandonment, sexual abuse, or family rejection. It's about people who struggle well, what it means to have those things happen to you as a child and play out later in life"

And yet Winter Games isn't a downer. In its own twisted way, it's triumphant, bursting at the seams with Garneau's barebones melodies and the richly woven arrangements of CJ Camerieri and Rob Moose―perfectly paced orchestrations that parallel their work on Bon Iver's GRAMMY-winning debut as a full-blooded group.

"It's magical really," explains Garneau, referring to the pair's collaborative process. "They don't write anything down; I direct things to a certain degree, then they take over and get this big sound from only the two of them."

In many ways, "Winter Games" is the music Garneau's been trying to make since he was a lonesome kid who competed in Parisian piano competitions and happened to be on a last name basis with Beethoven, Debussy and Brahms. Garneau had to endure years of personal and creative growth first, however, as he found his voice as a songwriter and expanded his record collection well past the familiar environs of classical and jazz. That includes everything from the otherworldly pop songs of Tori Amos and the alien harmonies of the Cocteau Twins to the devastating confessionals of Cat Power, Nick Drake and Elliott Smith. Not to mention one of Garneau's biggest influences, Nina Simone, whose music he fondly remembers figure skating to ― in his socks, mind you ―around the family living room.

"I trusted myself on this record," says Garneau, "and it forced me to go well past my boundaries. I wanted to get away from clean and tight, to make things big and loose and free. Form can be really important but I also wanted to just play music. In the past, I always focused on the 'song' first. For the first time, this record is me. That's all I know."

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Barb Jungr to release an album of songs by Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen

Album release: Hard Rain by Barb Jungr
Release date: 24 March 2014
Label: Kristalyn Records / Absolute / Universal
Listen: on official website

“In 2002, the British singer Barb Jungr released Barb Jungr Sings Bob Dylan: Every Grain of Sand, which is, as far as I’m concerned, the most significant vocal album of the 21st century thus far.” - The Wall Street Journal

“The only word to describe her dramatic interpretations is revelatory…..I was open mouthed with astonishment.” - New York Times

The UK’s finest interpreter of song, Barb Jungr returns to the songs of Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen with the release of Hard Rain. Oft referred to as “the politicised chansonnier” and cited as one of the world’s best performers of Dylan’s material, Barb turns to six of his most politically hard-hitting songs along with five of Leonard Cohen’s most impassioned songs of conscience. Barb’s selection for Hard Rain reflects her despair with the political times that we live in and she has deliberately chosen songs that resonate as strongly today as they did when they were originally written: Blowin’ In The Wind is now 51 years old and its sentiments are as relevant today as they ever were.

Barb Jungr says: “The space in between has always been my default position. Between song and singer, lyric and music, arrangement and performance. So I am amazed to be so clear about this collection. I knew right from the start it was all the tougher songs of Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen that I wanted to sing. I knew there was somehow a through thread to them - that the world they described and the actions they rejected and celebrated were of as much importance today as the day those songs were penned. There’s something in both writers that transcends the material itself, as though the words and music have powers beyond the paper and the groove, beyond the voice and the piano. So I’m entering a new decade with singing a clutch of special songs that have moved and shaken, caressed and struck me. I hope you’ll love the glorious music of both of these writers as much as I do....if that’s possible.... and let’s watch the dawn of the new day together.”

Track list:

1. Blowin’ In The Wind (Bob Dylan)
2. Everybody Knows (Leonard Cohen and Sharon Robinson)
3. Who By Fire (Leonard Cohen)
4. Hard Rain (Bob Dylan)
5. First We Take Manhattan (Leonard Cohen)
6. Masters Of War (Bob Dylan)
7. It’s Alright Ma (Bob Dylan) 8. 1000 Kisses Deep (Leonard Cohen and Sharon Robinson)
9. Gotta Serve Somebody (Bob Dylan)
10. Land Of Plenty (Leonard Cohen and Sharon Robinson)
11. Chimes Of Freedom (Bob Dylan)

The album comes complete with insightful liner notes by writer Liz Thomson, who as Elizabeth Thomson prepared “the director’s cut” of No Direction Home: The Life and Music of Bob Dylan (2014). She was also the co-editor of The Dylan Companion. As a young journalist, her first ever interview was with Leonard Cohen.

All of the arrangements on the album are by Barb and her long-standing collaborator and accompanist, the pianist Simon Wallace, who also produced the album. In addition to Simon (piano, Hammond organ and synthesizers), Barb is also joined by Neville Malcom on bass (with Steve Watts providing bass on tracks 1,3,8 and 10); Gary Hammond (percussion); Clive Bell (Shakahachi) and Richard Olatunde Baker on talking drum and additional percussion. Together with Barb, they inject new life and energy into each song.

Hard Rain will be released on Kristalyn Records on 24th March 2014. The album will be supported by an extensive run of live dates and will be launched with a special premiere performance of this Dylan/Cohen collection at London’s Purcell Room on Friday 14th February before going on tour throughout the UK.

Barb has recently completed another triumphant run of shows in the U.S.A. Over the past few years the British chanteuse has been wowing critics and audiences alike at home and abroad with her insightful, intelligent interpretations of well-loved songs combined with her powerful and often witty performance style. Barb Jungr is a British performer that we should truly cherish.

“One of the best interpreters of Jacques Brel and Bob Dylan anywhere on this angst ridden planet today” - Village Voice, New York

“…a fantastic English singer … I was just amazed by her voice….” - Jeremy Irons – Desert Island Discs

“Possibly our best interpreter of Dylan’s songs” - Billy Bragg

“Bob Dylan, jazz, northern soul, Nina Simone and continental Europe’s cabaret music perform a subtle dance in Jungr’s consciousness” - The Guardian

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Captain Rugged - new album from Keziah Jones

Album release: Captain Rugged by Keziah Jones
Release date: 20 January 2013
Label: Because music
Listen: on official website 

"For Nigerian singer-songwriter Keziah Jones' forthcoming sixth album, he decided that, like all great artists, he needed an alter-ego..." The Guardian

Five years after Nigerian Wood, Keziah Jones is back with his most personal and political project yet, wearing the outfit of an Afro superhero. That superhero is "Captain Rugged", his quirky and socially committed double. A graphic novel as well as long player, the album chronicles the Captain's adventures in Lagos. From his birth place in Makoko, the Nigerian slum version of Venice - an illegal water settlement on stilts with the Lagos region - through to the loud industry of the bus stations of Obalende.

Nigerian, Afropolitan, universal, Captain Rugged tells us about modern Africa and its urban movements. From his youth amongst the ghettos and skyscrapers of bustling Lagos, flying around in his ankara cape and shaking the city with his angry beats: “Here I come, an Afro Superhero, Captain Rugged”, cries Keziah. His Afronewave echoes his rebellion: a concept album in the shape of a manifesto.

“I’ve been nurturing this character for the past ten years. This superhero business is a satire on power, politics and magic. I’m telling the epic story of refugees, immigration and exile, I wanted to portray these personalities as particularly rugged and robust: they’re survivors, superheroes. African superheroes... that was my ambition for this album."

Keziah is following in the footsteps of Fela Kuti, a fellow countryman and great defender of pan-africanism who was imprisoned several times for speaking out against the Nigerian dictatorship. “I met Fela in the year before he died, and he emphasised to me the necessity of creating music that relates directly to reality." Locating his superhero in Lagos allowed Keziah to breathe real life into Captain Rugged, creating a powerful, outspoken and liberated avatar.

Keziah Jones assesses the relationship between the northern and southern hemispheres. “What I want to show the world is the modernity of post-colonial Africa, far from the image that the western world carries of a continent devastated by famine and/or war. I’m talking about young urban Africa: 20 million people live in Lagos! Modern contemporary African culture is a reality. Today, African culture has proven its vivacity and is nourished by the Diaspora."

His music is his own, all based around a soulful genre he created: Blufunk. Rhythmic, organic and infused with a punk-funk attitude crossed with Yoruba rhythms. Recorded between London and Paris, mixed in New York, the album Captain Rugged has a psychedelic quality that he sums-up with a rather engaging: “George Clinton sharing a joint with Fela”. His latest album is his most meaningful yet, and acts as a bold, hopeful statement here from Captain Rugged and Keziah alike.

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New video from Ghost Maps

Video release: Vanilla by Ghost Maps
Label: Casino Gravity (www.casinogravity.com) 
Video release date: 4 November 2013
Album Release Date: 15th November 2013
Listen / watch: on Youtube or on official Ghost Maps site

Ghost Maps is a new project from Jeff Martin. The debut album 'The Ocean From The River' is released on November 15th 2013; and the video for lead track ‘Vanilla’ is out now - you can watch it on Youtube here.

Previous projects

Jeff Martin is a founding member of Irish band Halfset, who have released two albums to date, the acclaimed debut Dramanalog and Another Way of Being There – the latter being The Irish Independent's 'Irish Album of the Year' and a Choice Music Prize nominee (The Choice Music Prize is the Irish equivalent of The Mercuries).

Jeff Martin has also released three solo records under his own name, Still, Spoons and Spoons Remixes/Collaborations. The remix album saw musicians rework their chosen tracks, contributors include David Pajo (Slint, PapaM), Mice Parade, The High Llamas, John Parish (PJ Harvey) & Minotaur Shock. This release gained Jeff US distribution. To date Jeff Martin has opened up for Lambchop, Tortoise, The National, David Grubbs and The High Llamas to name a few.

Jeff Martin has also played live guitar for acclaimed Irish songwriter Adrian Crowley as part of his touring band.

Ghost Maps

The Ocean From The River is Jeff Martin's first release under the Ghost Maps name. The 13 track album was written and arranged by Jeff Martin over a 12 month period, and was recorded in Dublin and Chicago. The Ocean From The River features long-time collaborator John McEntire (Tortoise, The Sea and Cake) on drums and a guest piano appearance from Tony Crow (Lambchop).

The emphasis is on real instrumentation, with virtually no electronics, sequencing or programming. The result is rich and organic tones throughout the album. Intimate guitar and voice songs contrast with panoramic full-band tracks, occasional brass flourishes and textured string arrangements.

Drawn from various musical genres, The Ocean From The River is a diverse piece of work - complex, multifaceted, and one that reveals a new layer with each listen.

Video / free MP3 download

You can watch the video for the track 'Vanilla' on Youtube - where you’ll also find the embed code.

You can download a free MP3 of 'Vanilla' from the band's Facebook page.

Formats

The Ocean From The River is out on November 15th, 2013 and will be available on Digipak CD, vinyl & digital download. The heavy-weight vinyl version comes with a die-cut sleeve and includes a free original CD copy of the album. You can buy from all good shops nationwide, directly from the bands website (both physical & digital), iTunes and Bandcamp.

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Sukh to release debut album 'Kings' on November 18

Album release: Kings by Sukh
Release date: November 18, 2013 
Listen: on official site.

‘Sukh is a doctor. This clearly isn’t enough of a challenge for him, though, so in is spare time he makes short films. Oh, and on top of that, he writes, performs and produces dreamy, jangly folk pop like ‘Kings’. Naturally, there’s an adorable video to accompany it too. It’d be easy to dislike him if it wasn't all so good.’ - Clash

‘No doubt we’ll be hearing more from him soon.’ - BBC Introducing

As the Clash quote above indicates, Sukh is a doctor. Not content with saving lives, he’s only gone and penned one the brightest indie-pop albums so far this year. An album bursting with Belle and Sebastian-esque melody, craftsmanship reminiscent of Sufjan Stevens, but always maintaining a sound unmistakably his own: this is Sukhdeep Krishan - or Sukh to his friends. Sukh is here to provide the soundtrack to the summer hangover. This is a collection of unassuming songs; repeated listens demonstrate layers and textures rarely found among his peers. And he’s only in his early twenties. And he’s a qualified doctor. He’s basically a good egg, and this album, written, produced and performed by the man himself, will mark him out as a jack-of-all-trades, master of most of ‘em type artist.

Characterised by his raw voice and various guitar tunings, the album invites the listener into the inner world of his mind.

Multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, video maker and Viktor Frankl quoting Mancunian.

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Lucy Ward: Brit folk's "most vibrant and forthright new young talent" (Mojo)

Album release: Single Flame by Lucy Ward (**** Robin Denselow, The Guardian)
Label: Navigator
Release date: 19 August 2013 
Listen: on official website 

Some things change, some remain the same. For her much-anticipated second album (the follow up to the 2011 debut Adelphi Has To Fly), the 23-year old singer, guitarist, ukulele and concertina player Lucy Ward delivers a finely-tuned synthesis of original and traditionally arranged material. Production is again by Stu Hanna (of acclaimed folk duo Megson, both of whom also sing and play here). There, however, the similarities end as the new album - Single Flame - finds Lucy organically broadening her musical palette whilst remaining firmly rooted in a folk tradition that gives shape and form to her sound. Balancing the contemporary and the traditional is never an easy act to achieve but Lucy does it with a natural gift and flair. Her songwriting creates the kind of original songs that you think you’ve heard somewhere before – on an old folk recording or the radio; a testament to the quality of her lyrics, melodies and ‘hooks’.

As a child and in her early teens, Ward grew up in a household where she heard recordings by the likes of Melanie and Bob Dylan and absorbed their lyrics and impact. The album opener I Cannot Say, I Will Not Speak has the lines “they sang the songs of Safka / Candles in the rain”. “The idea behind this song” she says “was how a generation of people sung songs of peace and protest in the 1960’s and yet peace has still to come. The lyrics”, she continues, “were born out of imagining there was just a candle left in the rain, a single flame, a ray of hope that we must protect because it only takes one flame to start a fire”.

Her song For The Dead Men made a first appearance as a single in January 2012 and was subsequently used in the soundtrack to the award winning director Kim Hopkins’ documentary film Folie a Deux ("Madness Made of Two"), which premiered at the International Documentary Film Festival in Amsterdam in November 2012. It’s a moving song and performance. “I wrote this song for the dead men” she says. “The dead men are all the people who marched before us, campaigning for justice. The dead men are also those who are apathetic to what is happening around them and their power to affect it. Lastly, the dead men are all those who are left to fall off the thin end of the wedge.” It’s a song about time passing; how we react to it, how we shape our history or allow it to shape us. What we do to stand up for the rights of ordinary people. “Stand up and take to the streets / they can’t ignore us if we all choose to speak”.

Shellback she says “is the first song I ever wrote. Its inspired by a generation of men, my grandfather included, who were conscripted, lost sight of what was at home and in some cases found vices to fill the void of what they had left behind.”

Ward’s songs are compassionate and insightful. They’re also capable of seeing beyond a single event, no matter how emotional and traumatic, to the wider context. One of the most striking original works here does that: it’s called The Consequence and its about violence within the domestic environment and how it destroys and changes the nature of family and home forever.  “Shame, Shame, Shame / upon this house” - the words  echo  in  this  spare  and  simple but  beautifully  sung  piece.  “I wrote this song after Shafilea  Ahmed’s parents were imprisoned for life for murdering their daughter.  In the sleeve notes I haven’t said this as I feel that it could be read in different ways; honour killing, murder of a partner”. These kinds of acts are not confined to any one community.

Moving to the upbeat, Marching Through The Green Grass is a Ward and Hanna arrangement of a song also known as the Soldier Boy or Sailor Boy. Collected in the Appalachians by the folklorists Cecil Sharp and Maud Karpeles, the song comes from a time long before the birth of the modern army and the advent of combat soldiers of both sexes.“ The recording includes a tune that Stu and I wrote together”. The performance is a feisty, strident comment on soldiering.

Lord I Don’t Want To Die In The Storm is a traditional song, collected in America by Cortez Reece. After struggling to source a tune for this song, Lucy and Stu decided to write their own. The results are a haunting, doleful piece of minimalist Americana.

Lucy’s song melodies are as memorable and engaging as her lyrics. Songs like For The Dead Men, Honey(about pure and natural beauty), The Last Pirouette (a song on the end of the world, based on a poem written by Lucy’s father in 1983), Rites Of Man (a lament for Mother Nature) and Ink (a lyric based on the life of Stuart Shorter and the book written by Alexander Masters Stuart: A Life Backwards), all have melodies that stay with the listener from first play. None more so, though, than Icarus, a languid, dreamy work containing some of Lucy’s most expressive singing, her vocals floating over the ethereal instrumental soundscape. Lucy says, in her matter of fact way “Icarus’s lover is left to drown as he chooses his aspirations over her”.

Lastly, there is Velvet Sky, an anthem, almost symphonic in nature for a piece of music just 4.13 long, with a labyrinthine lyric full of word delights.

Collectively, the songs here showcase Lucy Ward‘s consummate performance and creative songwriting abilities, her genuine and sparkling personality and stunning voice. The new album Single Flame is a shining statement of how far her talent has grown and developed in such a short time. 

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Will Varley to release new album on 2 September - "Powerful, political and pertinent" (The Independent)

Album release: As The Crow Flies by Will Varley
Release date: 2 September 2013
Label: Smugglers Records
Listen: on official Will Varley website

July 2013 will see the release of As The Crow Flies, the second album by fiercely independent folk singer, novelist, and filmmaker Will Varley. The album was recorded in the old smuggling tunnels that riddle the basements of the cottages beneath the seaside town of Deal, Kent. It is released on DIY label Smugglers Records that Varley runs alongside a co-operative of fellow southeast based musicians. Over the last five years Smugglers has helped a plethora of artists further their musical endeavours, as well as organising their own sell-out festival deep in the Kent countryside.

The 26 year old plays an explosive brand of contemporary British folk music which scales the full spectrum of storytelling, from farcical ‘shaggy dog stories’ about the self checkout machines at the supermarket, to beautifully-crafted allegorical songs such as the real life tale of Khulekani Khumalo, a South African folk singer who supposedly rose from the dead in 2012. His live shows dance effortlessly between sharp humour, scathing social commentary and raw heart-breaking emotion.

Varley moved to the seaside from London in 2010, seeking like-minded musicians, cheap rent, and a new way of doing things. After releasing his politically charged debut album Advert Soundtracks in 2011, he set out on the road and walked a hundred and forty miles with a guitar and tent on his back. Starting his walking tour at London Bridge he headed southeast, strolling through the rolling hills and towns, singing songs to whoever would listen. This began to build a fan base that has since grown to sell out the first album and seen festival tents bursting with followers. The record received a number of excellent reviews, and his self-directed music video for ‘King For A King’ has enjoyed almost 20,000 views on YouTube.

After self-publishing his first novel in the winter and almost two years of relentless gigging, including shows at the Occupy London protests & The Bank of Ideas, the young troubadour has recorded his second album with the help of David Hatton Jnr. (Cocos Lovers). Though still littered with his trademark humour, As The Crow Flies is a darker, more mature album which sees Varley’s poetry take centre stage, from the brutal honesty of the album’s title track, to the swaying cynicism of Weddings and Wars in which he attempts a history of the world in under four minutes. 

Reaction to date

“Certain to turn ears his way… Varley feels very much a voice for what could soon become the 21st Century’s lost generation” Folk Radio UK

“Powerful, Political & Pertinent” The Independent

“A simple line like “the big bang doesn’t care if I pray” is laden with the kind of meaning other artists would take whole albums to say.” Rock Kent

“It's the antithesis of all that Simon Cowell creates, and it's fantastic” Contact Music 

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New box set from Universal - Scott Walker: The Collection 1967-1970

Box set: Scott Walker - The Collection 1967-1970
Release date: Universal
Label: June 3rd 2013

Together for the first time, Scott Walker’s first five solo albums on vinyl and CD. Cut and mastered from the original tapes and presented with their original artwork, The Collection showcases Scott’s self-written material alongside his much-documented interpretations of composers such as Jacques Brel.

The five albums brought together here, released by Scott Walker between 1967 and 1970 are: Scott, Scott 2, Scott 3, Scott 4 and 'Til The Band Comes In. One of the most unique and intriguing artists to emerge in the 60s, these albums are essential to understanding the compelling and fascinating artistry of Scott Walker.

The CD set comes in a hardback, lift-off lid, box-set, each CD recreating the original album artwork and with new, extensive sleeve notes on each album plus rare photos. The comprehensive 16 page booklet is written by Rob Young who edited last year’s compendium No Regrets: Writings on Scott Walker.

The deluxe 5-LP box set features the original album artwork and includes an 11-inch print replicated from Scott 2, plus a 48-page booklet containing Rob Young’s essay. All five LPs come in 180gm heavyweight vinyl. Scott 3 and Scott 4 are reproduced in the original gatefold jackets. In addition there are four interviews courtesy of Rock's Back Pages: Keith Altham – Scott Walker Hides Away In a Gloom World, NME 1970; Chris Welch – Scott: I’m Going to Japan By Train, Melody Maker, 18 May 1968; Keith Altham – Scott Walker: His Own Worst Enemy, NME, 1969 and Chris Welch – Scott Walker Comes In From The Cold, Melody Maker, 1970.

Scott Walker’s first solo album, simply titled Scott, released in September 1967, appeared before The Walkers Brothers’ final official concert (at least until their subsequent mid-seventies reunion).  As with all the albums in this collection, it has to be seen in a context of Walker wanting to escape the pop stardom of The Walker Brothers where his moody reclusiveness was in sharp contradiction to their teen-idol success. The group’s final album, Images (April 1967) had featured three compositions credited to Scott Engel alone, and it was clear his ambitions lay in this direction: as a composer as well as vocalist.

As Rob Young observes in his accompanying notes, Scott “saw him attempting to let go of the schmaltzy ‘big sound’ of The Walkers; Scott would turn out to be a curious, occasionally uncomfortable marriage of three distinct modes: the middle-of-the-road covers made popular by the likes of Tony Bennett, Tim Hardin, Frank Sinatra and Petula Clark; the very different-styled arrangements of Jacques Brel songs; and Walker’s own compositions. It’s the weird chemistry between these approaches that makes Scott – and all four solo albums that followed – such beautifully unsettling experiences.”

On the strength of the Walker Brothers dedicated fan base, Scott charted at number 3, Scott 2 would actually reach number 1 and Scott 3 was another number chart entry. The same eclectic mix of covers and original compositions provided the direction for Scott 2, released March 1968, which opened with Brel’s swaggering Jackie. The song’s reference to ‘opium dens, authentic queers and phoney virgins’ earned Walker a controversial ban from daytime BBC broadcasts, and scheduled TV spots were cancelled. Released as a single, Jackie peaked at 22. He would have two further hits – Joanna and The Lights of Cincinnati, his final chart single in July 1969; neither was included on any album and it was clear Walker preferred to distinguish these more commercial offerings from his more ‘serious’ works.

When discussing the music on Scott 3, released in March 1969, Scott Walker referred critics to grand symphonic works by Beethoven, Brahms and Shostakovich. This was, indeed, serious business from an artist who, in the same month, fronted his own six-part BBC television series, titled simply Scott.

Scott 4, November 1969, did not include the name ‘Scott Walker’ on its sleeve, and the LP label credited the songs to ‘Scott Engel’. It was the only time he used that name professionally, on the first record to be entirely filled with his own compositions (there wouldn’t be another such until 1995). Scott 4’s failure to chart is partly explained by the release just a few months earlier of Sings Songs From His TV Series which reached No. 7 in July 69. The contradictions between Walker the serious artist/songwriter and the more mainstream singer of MOR songs still persisted and continued to haunt him.

Scott Walker’s fifth album, released in 1970, abandoned numerical titling and was named after one of the featured songs, ’Til The Band Comes In. It has since slipped under the critical radar, largely because five of the fifteen tracks are Vegas-friendly, country-tinged covers. The time is now ripe for its reappraisal; Walker’s own writing, the first ten songs on the album, form a kind of Scott 5 in all but name and it’s probably no accident that the covers were held back until the end.

’Til the Band’s uneven mix of originals and covers points directly to what happened next for Scott Walker. As he entered the 1970s, he seemed to lose control of his career direction; two albums of covers followed in the early 70s - The Moviegoer and Any Day Now, then two country-tinged collections in 1974 – Stretch and We Had it All, which saw Walker’s MOR sensibilities come to the fore.  This culminated in the unexpected revival of The Walker Brothers, which began with 1975’s No Regrets. The three year reunion did, however, lead to the masterstroke of Scott’s four tracks on the Walker Brothers’ subsequent (and this time final) album, Nite Flights. These tracks effectively ushered in a whole new phase of uncompromising creativity, enhanced by another solo album, Climate of Hunter in 1984. This, in turn, pointed the way forward to the more challenging direction Scott Walker would adopt in the 1990s and continue into the twenty-first century, on records like Tilt, The Drift and Bish Bosch.

Walker remains as fascinating and compelling an artist today as he was in 1967 when this classic cycle of albums was initiated. He has influenced every generation since kick-started in the 80s by Julian Cope (who compiled an album under the title The Godlike Genius of Scott Walker) and Marc Almond. You can hear the influence of Scott Walker’s in present day bands such as the Last Shadow Puppets and Elbow.

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James Younger releases new single, Monday Morning - a 'catchy as hell piece of guitar pop'

Single release: Monday Morning by James Younger
Release date: April 29, 2013
Label: Light Organ
Listen: on Soundcloud

James Younger left his home town of Manchester in Britain at the ripe young age of 21 and headed for the States. He hitchhiked across America, dissecting life in conversations with all those he came across and scribbling down stories in a notepad he kept in his breast pocket. These conversations and stories became the seeds that would grow into his debut album of pop/rock anthems, Feelin' American – out on June 25 on Light Organ Records.

Younger’s first single, Monday Morning (the opening track on Feelin’ American) is out now.  Northwest tastemaker station KEXP debuted the track calling it, “A catchy as hell piece of guitar-pop that is a radio classic like the Cars would write.”  The single is backed with What Comes After The Weekend and both are available now on iTunes. You can stream Monday Morning on Soundcloud (and feel free to embed).

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Mike Tyler: Money Grows On Your Knees

Single release: Money Grows On Your Knees by Mike Tyler
Release date: 16 April 2013
Label: The Art Can Not Be Damaged
Listen: on official site 

Out April 16th on The Art Can Not Be Damaged

‘It’s worth forgiving this gratuitous double entendre. There’s something of Lou Reed’s deadpan style and the flippancy of Jonathan Richman.’ – Bloomberg, 4/5 

From the album Erection, that sparked euphemistic reviews across a wide variety of the press - from indie tastemakers, to global news networks to porn mags - Mike Tyler presents the new single Money Grows On Your Knees featuring brand new B-side Corny Song

Mike Tyler is a poet and musician from the New York City tradition of Lou Reed, mentored in a bar by the American poet Delmore Schwartz, Patti Smith and Tom Verlaine of Television. All of Mike’s tracks are produced by BL’EVE – an artist with a scope of production ranging from artists like Wyclef Jean to Maino.

“I believe the sound of popular music is the sound of mutts barking; frictions, and strange conglomerations, mistaken identifications, and odd-ball pairings. Not Yin and Yang but Wham and Bam!” explains the man himself in that inimitably quirky way that earned him a running guest column for the 405.  

Stand out moments of Mike Tyler’s career were catalysed by his way with words. Banksy stencilled his words “only the ridiculous survive” outside of London’s Paddington Station, while Beck fell under his charismatic spell when honing his song writing craft. He became known as The Most Dangerous Poet in America after breaking his arm during a reading, and his poem “The Most Beautiful Word in the American Language” is on people’s Facebook walls, MySpace pages, and blogs, not to mention fridge doors.

On his new offering, Tyler says:

"My new single is such a lopsided seductive beast. Deep deep bass with a pop frosting and a growling lead yawp. It can be kind of sweet in places and then a dungeon-door-slamming-echoed-thud takes over; a contradiction in tones. It's the boiled pot of the gumbo stew of black and white that is America; greed and innocence, joy and exhausted hustle. Might explain why we decided the packaging of the single would include an actual puzzle.

The B-side Corny Song I wrote when I came back from London where we had a great reception for my album Erection, and the first single, Stuttering Song II. We did a gig at a space that at the same time had a show up of classic sex-film posters. Um, yeah! It felt "corny" how right everything went and great the night played. How the UK crowd seemed to understand what we were doing; even though it must have seemed well, different. Sometimes even a New Yorker, used to the hassling vibe of the dirty uphill climb, can accept something going just about perfectly. How corny!”

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Dave McPherson: new album, 'Dreamoirs' out June 3, 2013

Dave McPherson - Dreamoirs

Album release: Dreamoirs by Dave McPherson
Release date: 3 June 2013
Label: Northern Music
Listen: on Facebook 

Dave McPherson, originally propelled into the limelight with his alternative rock band InMe a decade ago, has since been consistently touring, creating music, and fully uplifting engrossed audiences. But only fairly recently has this been as a fully formed solo artist. New album Dreamoirs offers the complete and sublime intellectual capacity of this gifted and truly hard working songwriter.


It was in 2007 that Dave first started strapping on his acoustic guitar, hopping on trains around the country and couch surfing his way into the ears of listeners who were eager to see a true live artist do his thing. The use of the term “true” shouldn’t be ambiguous, but for qualification in this instance it is used to describe a performer with a soulful and technically gifted voice, an intricate and passionate style of guitar playing, and one who uses these skills to great effect on an abundance of self penned material.

Dave himself has tasted the mainstream with InMe, playing major festival main stages and touring the world when he was just 19. It’s a completely different world to the one that he currently – and happily it should be added – exists in. This self-confessed Star Trek obsessive is more than happy to embrace his inner geek and in truly modern style spends hours a day noting lyrical ideas in his iPhone, researching ideas and singing newly formed melodies to himself in the street. Dave is comfortable in his own skin; whether that is touring pubs, large venues with the likes of Charlie Simpson and Devin Townsend or festivals like Download and Beautiful Days in search of new listeners, fine ale and old friends on the road.

After a number of DIY EPs taken out on tour at a point when Dave was fast approaching 700 solo shows, 2011 saw him truly enter the realm of the solo artist and release The Hardship Diaries via Pledge Music. The fan-fuelled label provided the perfect platform for Dave to engage with his supporters and they responded by pushing him through the 100% target of sales in a few days and smash well and truly through 200% in a matter of weeks. The album was a very personal collection of songs, exemplifying Dave’s songwriting ability in a way that his previous work never really could. In a music industry that many say is beginning to disregard the album format, Dave showed that this medium is still the most accessible and important way to gather together a true representation of what an artist is all about.

None of this is to say that Dave is not open to creative ideas and challenges in a bid to get his music heard, and it is here that we can unequivocally return to the notion of “hard work”. 2013 is to be the busiest year of Dave McPherson’s career as he embarks first on ‘The Good People Movement: 365’ – the mammoth task of writing and recording a song every day of the year. This in itself is quite a challenge, but when you consider that he will do this during the year when his second solo album is released and toured, you can really comprehend that “hard work” is certainly a relative term. What is apparent with Dave McPherson, however, is that he sees this as his passion – music has long since absorbed and consumed him to the point of it feeling like a way of life, not hard work.

Dreamoirs will be officially released in June 2013. The concept of the album is, as the title suggests, based around dreams. It is also an album that sees full band instrumentation (performed on the record by Dave himself, no less) and his supporters will be given the opportunity to hear these songs live in some rare full band Dave McPherson performances this summer.  Whereas The Hardship Diaries was essentially a break-up record, at times rushed and spontaneous, Dreamoirs is reflective and explores more subject matter: it’s a focused record that Dave has put a considerable amount of work, thought and passion into.

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New single from acclaimed Irish folk singer, Heidi Talbot

Single release: Will I Ever Get To Sleep? by Heidi Talbot
Release date: 18 March 2013
Label: Navigator
Listen: on Myspace 

Will I Ever Get To Sleep?, the lead single from Irish folk singer Heidi Talbot’s latest album, Angels Without Wings, is a beautiful modern day folk song. Written with husband and producer John McCusker and performed with King Creosote, Will I Ever Get To Sleep? observes the normal day to day life that exists whilst a loved one is away and the inability to sleep without them by your side “But you’re not home for weeks, And I wonder if I’ll ever get to sleep”. Heidi’s enchanting vocals with King Creosotes rich harmonies supported by the traditional instrumentation see the track soar and brings the lyrics to life.  

**** - Q Magazine
“Enchanting, inspiring and musically refreshing from beginning to end” – Maverick
“There isn’t a weak track in sight” – Acoustic
“A nicely judged blend of the sweet, sad, stately and sassy” – The Scotsman

‘Angels Without Wings’ is an album of original compositions glowing with special guests from the worlds of folk, pop, rock and bluegrass. Featuring collaborations with Mark Knopfler, King Creosote, Jerry Douglas, Tim O’Brien, Karine Polwart, Louis Abbott (Admiral Fallow), Julie Fowlis and more. 

Subtlety is Talbot’s magic ingredient – from her gossamer voice to the delicate re-working of traditional and contemporary material that earned her rave reviews for her 2008 breakthrough In Love And Light. The girl from Ireland’s Co. Kildare, who spent several years in New York as a member of the Irish-American supergroup Cherish The Ladies, slips effortlessly between musical worlds but retains a personal modesty rooted in traditional folk.

Talbot began writing songs on her 2010 album The Last Star. In just two years she’s become a master of the art, sometimes composing alone, sometimes with McCusker and Boo Hewerdine (who form her touring band). Kenny Anderson (King Creosote) became a new creative foil after the pair discovered a mutual admiration:

“He was asked to pick his fantasy band for The Independent and he picked me and Morten Harket from A-ha on joint lead vocals,” Heidi laughs. She conceived the melody for Button Up – a brooding, urgent acoustic love song – with Anderson in mind, and he sent back his own lyrics.

When Mark Knopfler and Jerry Douglas offered to play on Heidi Talbot’s new album, they thoughtfully recorded their parts in several different styles – some were instantly recognisable, others more low-key. Talbot’s husband, producer and bandmate John McCusker joked, “you’ve got the best guitar players in the world and we’re blending them in?” But both musicians knew that for Talbot, the song always comes before the name.

And while the timeless language of traditional folk will always be an inspiration, there are traces of Americana in ‘When The Roses Come Again' (feat. Mark Knopfler), a delicate country-tinged duet with bluegrass legend Tim O’Brien, and Parisian romance in the unforgettable title track by Boo Hewerdine, laced with vintage accordion.

Talbot and McCusker were keen to capture the spontaneity of performance: the album was recorded live in Glasgow’s new Gorbals Sound Studios with her regular team Ian Carr (guitars), Phil Cunningham (accordion), Michael McGoldrick (flutes/whistles), James Mackintosh (percussion), Boo Hewerdine (acoustic guitar) and Ewan Vernal (bass). “If people made mistakes we’d just keep going,” says Heidi. “On some of the tracks you can even hear the harmonium creaking. These guys are friends, they all give their opinion. They’ll say, “that’s it! That’s the take!’” 

Talbot’s close-knit creative environment has fostered her confidence as a songwriter while allowing her to welcome in surprising new collaborators. These ever-evolving musical relationships can be heard on this, her most sophisticated and vibrant recording to date. 

Upcoming UK Tour Dates 

  • Sat, 26 Jan 2013 Tolbooth, Stirling 01786 274000
  • Sun, 27 Jan 2013 Angels Without Wings Album launch @ Celtic Connections festival
  • Old Fruitmarket, Glasgow with special guests 0141 3538000
  • Fri, 15 Feb 2013 The Buccleuch Centre, Langholm 01387 381196
  • Sat, 16 Feb 2013 The Kirkgate Centre, Cockermouth 01900 826448
  • Sun, 17 Feb 2013 Pavilion Arts Centre, Buxton 0845 127 2190
  • Tue, 19 Feb 2013 Exeter Phoenix, Exeter 01392 667080
  • Wed, 20 Feb 2013 Muni Arts Centre, Pontypridd. 08000 147111
  • Thu, 21 Feb 2013 Cecil Sharp House, London 0844 8889991
  • Fri, 22 Feb 2013 Royal Native Oyster Stores, Whitstable 07895 683567
  • Sat, 23 Feb 2013 Forge at Anvil, Basingstoke 01256 844244
  • Sun, 24 Feb 2013 Subscription Rooms, Stroud 01453 760900
  • Mon, 25 Feb 2013 Artrix, Bromsgrove 01527 577330
  • Wed, 27 Feb 2013 Sheffield Cathedral, Sheffield 0114 263 6951
  • Thu, 28 Feb 2013 The Barn, Baston 01778 560497
  • Fri, 01 Mar 2013 The Met, Bury 01617 612216
  • Sat, 02 Mar 2013 Hepworth Village Hall, Hepworth 07845 921527
  • Sun, 03 Mar 2013 Darwin Suite, Derby 01332 255800
  • Mon, 04 Mar 2013 Rodewald Suite, Liverpool Philharmonic Hall 0151 7093789
  • Tue, 05 Mar 2013 Pocklington Arts Centre, Pocklington 01759 301547
  • Thu, 07 Mar 2013 Carnegie Hall, Dunfermline 01383 602302
  • Fri, 08 Mar 2013 Eden Court, Inverness 01463 234234
  • Sat, 09 Mar 2013 Eastgate Arts Centre, Peebles 01721 725777
  • Sun, 10 Mar 2013 The Woodend Barn, Banchory 01330 825431

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Melinda Ortner: I Wanna Be OK - debut album out April 22

Album release: I Wanna Be OK by Melinda Ortner
Release date: 22 April 2013
Label: Ziggy Popular Music
Listen: on Youtube
Awards: MTV’s “Steal The Spotlight” Grand Prize Winner / LA Music Award Nominee, Best Song / “Top 15 Songwriters Of The Year” for ASCAP’s Johnny Mercer Project 

Melinda Ortner was born and raised in California, and for the past five years she’s been based in LA, cultivating a burgeoning music career. Her first single Heartbeats was originally written for the US movie I Hate Valentine’s Day. She also penned tracks for the Finnish movie Gone With The River – her track of the same name made it into Billboard Top 100 in Finland, while Heartbeats was instead chosen for the major film American Pie: Book of Love which really introduced Melinda to a vast audience. Since then it’s had more than 40,000 views on youtube, been aired on several US radio stations, was regularly featured on MTV2, Showtime, HBO, USA Network and Pay-Per-View. With commercial success came several key showcases (including SXSW), a live MTV pre-VMA’s performance, a spot on the acclaimed Balcony TV Sessions and extensive touring. 

In 2012, Ortner released the elegantly dark 4 track Strangers EP in the UK and has since performed at Sundance Film Festival, PCTV Sundance Channel and embarked on a full band US West Coast Tour. In summer 2013, she will base herself in the UK and announce European tour dates through summer and fall.

2013 sees the release of her debut album proper, I Wanna Be OK. Her lyrics are refreshingly honest and forthcoming, and her songs are written with great care, with an eye for the details as well as larger picture. The album covers more than one resounding theme, the most important being this dream of Ortner’s – pursuing a music career and the fears surrounding it.

“While I am a huge advocate for chasing dreams, the pursuit of music as a career, can be very trying, very discouraging, and more than anything scary as hell. I would of course like to feel ok about it all. I'm a stubborn one, a risk-taker and when I want something, I tend to want it bad. I suppose the passion I hold for this thing, music, and all it entails, lends itself to that notion of heavy chasing, and inevitably, heavy falling. The higher up you are, the more it's gonna hurt coming down.” 

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Chantal Claret (ex-Morningwood) releases debut album

Album release: The One, The Only… by Chantal Claret
Release date: 25 March 2013
Label: The End Records
Listenon official website 

Singer/songwriter Chantal Claret unveils an exciting new direction, blending big 60s beats with a contemporary hip hop embellishment, for her new solo debut album The One, The Only… out in the UK this March.

Fans around the world know the little lady with the big voice for her time fronting acclaimed rock band Morningwood, whose “catchier than Chlamydia hooks” (as described by Rolling Stone), led to sold-out tours around the world, countless film and television appearances and a No. 1 debut on the Billboard Heatseekers chart.

Written and co-produced by Chantal, new album The One, The Only... puts a modern twist on early femme-pop, getting inspiration from the clubs she used to sneak into underage. She’s created an album harking to the upbeat gems of the 60’s and 70’s – the sultry swing of Nancy Sinatra teamed with the rock n roll sass of April March, complete with backing singers and saxophone flourishes.

Avoiding being merely a vintage throw back, Chantal employs fat and modern hip hop flairs to revitalize the 60s beats Outkast style. Enlisting the likes of friend and songwriter Rob Kleiner (David Guetta, Cee-Lo), producer Mher Filian, Pigeon John and mixer Mark "Exit" Goodchild (Erykah Badu, Outkast, LMFAO, Gnarls Barkley) her soulful and energetic musical vision was fulfilled. Chantal’s development of such genres is a unique and perfect platform to showcase her boundlessly powerful singing style.

Her voice has also been recruited for an upcoming record by Fuktronic - a collaboration between Serj Tankian (from System of a Down) and Jimmy Urine (Mindless Self Indulgence – Chantal’s husband).

"I’m really proud of everything Morningwood did,” she says. “But that was a collaboration of personalities, whereas this record is all me” – and she is the one, the only, Chantal Claret.

Watch the video for ‘Bite Your Tongue’ here.

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David Bronson Celebrates Release of 'Story' with 2 new videos and free downloads

‘If you like well-produced, catchy, decent guitar playing and solid vocals then you’ll like this.’ – Gold Flake Paint

After a number of years of writing, producing, and recording, David Bronson officially releases the first instalment of a 22-song cycle project, The Long Lost Story, in the UK. Story is the first album, out now, to be followed by The Long Lost later in the year. To celebrate the occasion, Bronson gives away two free downloads of tracks from the record, accompanied by beautifully intimate new videos.

Bronson on the tracks

"Easier is a very reflective kind of song, roughly narrating some of the story of the record, in a hopeful, if kind of wary way. It's a detached retelling of what had happened that was painful, as well as a kind of attempt at a self-prescribed 'remedy' on how to proceed forward.

Since the song is an extremely internal one, even moreso than the rest of the record, I wanted a very intimate feeling for the video, so I thought "what would be more intimate than shooting it by myself, at home?" So that's what I did. I also realized the other day that it's kind of a funny play on words - it was after all, from a technical standpoint, a much 'easier' video to make than some of the other ones. I like when things like that happen.”

Momentary has a chorus that to me is a universal message, a message that I acutely needed to hear when I wrote it. It was essentially me telling myself that things would get better, but also acknowledging that they’d likely worse again too, and that’s just how it is (and that that’s not necessarily a bad thing). On another level, it’s ultimately an acknowledgement of death, and as such is an implied admonition to really value and be supremely grateful for all of it – that it’s all part of it, and all beautiful and meaningful, both in spite of, and because of, its impermanence. It’s also a special song to me personally because it’s the one song on the two records that was co-written by my brother Jeremy (who’s also the drummer).

As far as the video is concerned – I’ve always had a deep love and appreciation for illustration, from a very young age being obsessed with comic books. So I wrote out a few rough, sort of allegorical outlines and began looking for illustrators. I literally came across David Sparshott by googling ‘Illustrator’. I was really drawn to his style, as I was looking for a somewhat particular line-drawn, monochromatic kind of thing. His pieces were cooler and more boldly idiosyncratic and technically beautiful than I had imagined. I’m thrilled with his interpretation.”

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New album, 'Running Still', from Charlie Winston

Album release: Running Still by Charlie Winston 
Release date: 28 January 2013
Label: Real World Records
Listen on: Official website

Press reaction: 

  • “Immaculately crafted” – Q
  • "If Chris Martin ditched Coldplay and took to the road with a more rootsy outfit, he might come up with something like Hobo" - Daily Express
  • "The Chaplin look complements a quirky, bluesy musical style" – The Telegraph
  • "A worthy contender for la petite sensation de 2010 in the UK" – The Guardian
  • "Charlie Winston is set to be very big indeed" – Record Collector
  • "Lyrically, vocally and musically compelling...Full flavoured, deep and rich in quality" - Maverick
  • "We predict great things for this album – and Charlie" – Stylist
  • “What took us so long to catch on?” – Star Magazine
  • “It would be a loss for us if Winston were to be consigned to the list of artists who only cracked it abroad…” - BBC online

Following up the breakthrough of his 2009 album Hobo, a No. 1 success in Europe and Canada, Running Still finds Charlie Winston and his richly-talented band in collaboration with producer Tony Berg (Aimee Mann, Michael Penn) to reach new emotional and sonic colours.

“My sole objective on the album was to be able to engage people’s feet first and slowly rise to the mind,” he says. “So by the time they get absorbed in the lyrics, they’re fully engaged but realize there’s something more going on.”

Opener Hello Alone makes for an inviting call, a shared solitude, if you will, that’s at the root of the art experience. But the next song, Speak to Me, makes it clear that no one should limit Winston in terms of expectations, the all-vocal beat-boxed tour de force showing one of his many facets, with more to come. The snappy Happiness offers soulful yearning, She Went Quietly is a searching piano ballad (inspired by a heart-wrenching tale of separation involving his great aunt and, to lesser though crucial extent, the movie Million Dollar Baby). Until You’re Satisfied is ‘80s-referencing pop-funk celebrating Winston’s Prince fandom. Lift Me Gently is a stand out track for Peter Gabriel – “An amazing song, and possibly the best Charlie has ever written….” Wild Ones is charging blues-rock, Rockin’ in the Suburbs is all vibrant energy … and that’s just part of the picture. Not a surprise given that Winston also, with natural ease, refers to such diverse inspirations as Nick Cave, Steve Reich and Jacques Brel (and T.S. Eliot, Wim Wenders and Ingmar Bergman, for that matter) in discussing the album.

“It’s near impossible for me to write in one style only,” says singer/songwriter Charlie Winston. “And today in my generation of songwriting, there’s a bit of a lack for me. People have forgotten the power of song, since the technology swept through, and how it carries. Coming from parents who are songwriters, that’s my No. 1 thing, really.”

That latter reference would be to the 1960s English folk duo Jeff and Julie. And arguably, Running Still is the album to which his whole life has been leading. Winston was raised by his parents in their small East Anglia hotel, which he describes as “Fawlty Towers, but with a family” - with two bars and a ballroom, hosting a constant stream of musical, theatrical and comedy performers. He says he was the “cheerful” one of the four children, responding to his father’s coercion to entertain. 

“He bribed me to learn how to juggle and ride unicycles and all that at eight years old!” he says. “My brothers Tom and Jo had their own band, so I was watching them do their thing. At 10 years old both my sister and I got piano lessons and my musical world started to be developed.”

Charlie’s teenage dream was to be an actor, but music pulled at him. His first band, when he was 15, had a brass section for which he got into writing parts. A love for all sorts of jazz intensified - complementing what had been a pre-teen obsession with hip-hop, through which he learned to beat-box, as heard on Speak to MeWild Ones and Hello Alone

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