Johnny Flynn’s Sillion is a strange, affecting and beautifully realised album, one with many hidden (and manifest) depths. Go and listen.
After four years, Johnny Flynn makes a very welcome return with his fourth album (give or take a live CD and soundtrack) with Sillion – an old English word which means the thick, voluminous, and shiny soil turned over by a plough.
And it’s a particularly apt title, as Johnny’s songs dig through the dirt and detritus of everyday life revealing a shiny life-giving loam under the surface (while still sounding like it refers to an ancient mythical beast, perhaps that figure depicted on the cover?).
But the time between releases does not represent a furrow period for Flynn. Indeed it’s been a time of immense creativity and acclaim, just not in recorded music. He’s acted and scored films, starred in a TV series, and performed in stage plays. In fact, the last time I saw Flynn was as a boy player at London’s Globe Theatre starring as Lady Anne opposite Mark Rylance in Richard III. And very good he was too. [ . . . ]
It’s a woman’s world on Laura Marling’s sixth album, “Semper Femina,” her latest set of cozy, folky melodies carrying profoundly enigmatic tidings. The characters in her new songs, from start to finish, are women; men, except for someone’s mean father, are absent, simply irrelevant to her current intentions.
Between albums, Ms. Marling has also been busy with “Reversal of the Muse: An Exploration of Femininity in Creativity,” a podcast series of conversations with female musicians, producers, engineers and executives. But her backup musicians and technicians on “Semper Femina” are men: most prominently, the album’s producer, Blake Mills, the guitarist who has lately worked with Alabama Shakes, Fiona Apple and John Legend.
Ms. Marling is a subtly virtuosic guitarist with a voice that’s pensive, consoling, poised and wise beyond her years [ . . . ] Read Full NY Times Review
Kate Tempest – 2017 Tour Dates March 20 San Diego, CA Casbah March 21 Los Angeles, CA Echoplex March 22 Santa Ana, CA Constellation Room March 24 San Francisco, CA Slims March 26 Boise, ID Treefort Festival March 27 Seattle, WA Neumos March 28 Portland, OR Mississippi Studios March 29 Vancouver, BC Fortune March 31 Calgary, AB Commonwealth April 2 Minneapolis, MN 7th Street Entry April 3 Chicago, IL Lincoln Hall April 5 Toronto, ON Mod Club April 6 Montreal, QC Sala Rossa April 10 Boston, MA Brighton Music Hall April 11 Philadelphia, PA Boot & Saddle April 12 Washington, DC U Street Music Hall April 13 New York, NY Le Poisson Rouge
Kate Tempest has just announced 2017 North American tour dates, her first since releasing 2016’s excellent Let Them Eat Chaos. Her tour wraps up in NYC at Le Poisson Rouge on April 13. Tickets for that show will be on sale soon. All dates are listed below.
Kate Tempest’s second album plays like a table read of a screenplay for an Altman-esque anthology that visits the only seven residents of a particular London block who all happen to still be awake at 4:18 AM. Tempest, dropping perfect little details, sets the scene for each of them: some desperate, some drunk, all a little lost. A master storyteller with seriously impressive flow, Tempest draws you into the lives of the characters, finding the humanity in all of them, and eventually tying them together with a thunderstorm. Collaborator/producer Dan Carey matches terrific backing to Tempest’s rhymes, for what is one of the more moving works of the year.
You can stream Let Them Eat Chaos below. Kate’s last show in NYC was one of my favorites of 2015, so if she’s playing near, you don’t miss her.
One of Johnny Foreigner”s favorite British films of the ’90s was Mark Herman’s Brassed Off – 1996 British-American comedy-drama film written and directed by Mark Herman and starring Pete Postlethwaite, Tara Fitzgerald and Ewan McGregor. These’s so much to love about the movie, including the brass band music, but especially the performance by one of the greatest British actors of all time – Pete Postlethwaite as the bandleader/miner “Danny.” If you’ve never seen this movie, grab it from Netflix or Amazon.
The film is about the troubles faced by a colliery brass band, following the closure of their pit. The soundtrack for the film was provided by the Grimethorpe Colliery Band, and the plot is based on Grimethorpe’s own struggles against pit closures. It is generally very positively received for its role in promoting brass bands and their music. Parts of the film make reference to the huge increase in suicides that resulted from the end of the coal industry in Britain, and the struggle to retain hope in the circumstances. [Wikipedia]
“Caoimhín Vallely’s consummate musicality and grasp of technique just naturally captivates. His solid grounding in Irish traditional music enables him to creatively and fruitfully explore the various moods, emotions, forms and styles the music has to offer, from classic jigs and reels to songs both sung and transcribed, the whole finishing on a brilliant (yet refreshingly non-showy) exercise in classical-style variations on The Independence Hornpipe. This is an outstanding album, one to play both to aficionados of Irish traditional music and lovers of the piano, as well as those listeners who are receptive to fresh perspectives on the traditional repertoire. A total delight, in other words.” [ . . . ]
Sales of vinyl released by labels reporting to the BPI were at a 25-year high in 2016, according to new figures.More than 3.2 million records were sold in the UK last year, the BPI reports, which suggests a 53% rise on 2015. The most popular record was David Bowie’s Blackstar which sold more than double the copies of 2015’s biggest seller, Adele’s 25. [ . . . ]
Hear two scarily contemporary tracks from the extraordinary British spoken-word artist.
The extraordinary British spoken-word artist Kate Tempest incorporates hip-hop and performance poetry into the scarily contemporary work on her new album, Let Them Eat Chaos. The album features the stories of seven London characters, each inhabiting song snapshots that take place simultaneously. As a whole, it’s a devastating picture of contemporary London.
In times which scream out for big explanations to be made and answers to be served up, it may be easy to fall back on the urge to describe Kate Tempest as political. Her writing, after all, is gorged on the minutiae of 21st century life – based in her native London, specifically, but it could be anywhere suitably urban in the British Isles – and the on-edge hyper-awareness that life lived through social media brings.
Sam Lee and forty members of London’s Roundhouse Choir perform a capella at the Folk Awards 2016 in London.
I once was a ploughboy, but a soldier I’m now,
I courted wee lovely Molly, as I followed the plough;
I courted wee lovely Molly, at the age of sixteen,
But now I must leave her, for to serve James, my king. Continue reading →
The poet and rapper talked about connecting with audiences, sexuality and the search for inspiration
Enjoyed your gig in Bristol. Listening to you I found myself thinking of William Blake and London mysticism and London radicalism. Does that chime with you?
Yes. William Blake is a huge part of my daily life. I find his work integral. And I go and visit his paintings in the room where they are exhibited in the Tate as often as I can. I read him all the time. There is something to be said for London mysticism, that definitely has its hands on me – I can feel it. It’s definitely a mystical environment for me – there’s a strong current coursing at all times [ . . . ]