The Rheingans Sisters are one of the rising stars the English folk music scene. Rowan and Anna Rheingans are fiddlers and multi-instrumentalists. They play innovative original music grounded in English folklore as well as ancient fiddle traditions from Scandinavia and southern Europe.
Receiver is evocative, mesmerizing, experimental, bittersweet and hauntingly beautiful, incorporating familiar string sounds along with unexpected drones and ambience.
Heady, funny, and fearless, the Dublin band’s second album is a maudlin and manic triumph, a horror movie shot as comedy, equal parts future-shocked and handcuffed to history.
The Horsemen of the Apocalypse do not thunder and gallop. They lurch and stagger, weighed down by the grim burden of their brief. Slowly, they stalk humanity with an Amazon Prime package of grief, war, and pestilence, their approach suggested only by the mechanized drone of social media and cable news. When the end finally comes, it’s all so quotidian and tedious; a whimper, not a bang. All around us, the party is ending, and Fontaines D.C. are the final house band. The setlist is A Hero’s Death.
Slinking seeming fully-formed from Dublin’s working-class neighborhood The Liberties, the five-piece established themselves as bona fide inheritors of a centuries-long socialist-bohemian tradition on 2019’s post-post-punk document Dogrel, an album that weaved together the enduring groove of Gang of Four and the psychically dislocating poetry of Allen Ginsberg with unnervingly precocious aplomb. Dogrel was a shouty revelation—part early Mekons, part cider-addled James Brown & the JB’s—all of it suggestive of a crucial talent abuzz with live-wire intensity.
The Irish folk singer’s third album fills out her sound to incorporate elements of jazz, country rock, slowcore, and psychedelia.
Brigid Mae Power’s music never quite settles on solid ground. The Irish singer-songwriter flits between past and present; between traditional and modern forms; between the heaven in her voice and the earthbound epiphanies of her words. Her last album was called The Two Worlds. I’d say she inhabits a few more than that.
Power emerged from Galway’s bohemian scene, experimenting with the parameters of traditional music in unlit car parks and remote churches. Until now, the echo of open spaces has been a defining feature of her music, her intimate songs bolstered by cavernous reverb and drone. Those textures are less prominent on her third album. Recorded in Glasgow in three days with a band assembled by Scottish contemporary folkie Alasdair Roberts, who co-produced alongside Power and her husband Peter Broderick, Head Above the Water fills out her sound with a broader sweep of instrumentation. There is room for the bodhran, fiddle, and bouzouki, but also the synthesizer, Shruti box, drums, and electric guitar. Roberts encourages a more adventurous spirit to enter the proceedings. Though still rooted in folk—there’s a stunning cover of the traditional ballad “The Blacksmith”—the 10 songs blend elements of jazz, country rock, slowcore, and psychedelia.
Occasionally, the music has real bite, as on the snaking, sinister “I Was Named After You.” More typically, the songs amble dreamily toward their destination, as though following an ancient map on which the coordinates have begun to fade. On “Wedding of a Friend” and “You Have a Quiet Power,” buffeted by cross breezes of pedal steel and Mellotron, Power sounds like she’s fronting a slightly woollier Mazzy Star. “On a City Night” recalls the giddy joie de vivre of some of the lighter moments on Bob Dylan and The Band’s Basement Tapes.
While I’m ashamed to confess I wasn’t aware of Lincolnshire born singer Elle Osborne until the release of her almost wholly self-penned It’s Not Your Gold Shall Me Entice, its cover featuring her grandmother, who gave The Watersons their first club bookings, getting stuck into a festival drinking contest and underlining Osborne’s pedigree.
I was instantly hooked and have been eagerly awaiting this follow-up. Produced by Stereolab’s Joe Watson, it sports an intriguing title, apparently deriving from an observation made by her father and forming part of the lyric to the opening track, Birds of the British Isles.
The number makes references to knowing “the heft of heron and the light of blackbird calls” but not the country’s entire ornithological spectrum as a springboard for deeper concerns. She sings “I know what to say to people when they pick on you / And I’ve almost learnt to greet the haters with loving smiles”. Like many of her songs, she has knack of catching you offguard.
Alasdair Roberts reprises his guest appearance from last time around on harmonies, the album also featuring contributions from Alice Mary on guitar and bass and both Alex Neilson (who’s hailed her voice as a cross between Lal Waterson and Nico) and Stephen Hiscock on drums.
“You can actually reinvent yourself in America, step off the plane, say ‘my name is whatever,’” says Teddy Thompson. Speaking more about New York City,
“You can actually reinvent yourself in America, step off the plane, say ‘my name is whatever,’” says Teddy Thompson. Speaking more about New York City, where the singer-songwriter has lived since moving there as a teen with his parents British folks singers Linda and Richard Thompson, the city also helped him fuse together his sixth studio album Heartbreaker Please (Thirty Tigers), out May 8, as he’s dissecting his own heartbreak, unraveling a portion of it on the album’s title track. Continue reading →