Strangers In The Room: A Journey Through The British Folk Rock Scene 1967-73

British Folk Rock 1967-1973 – the tip of the iceberg but an interesting and varied collection from the Grapefruit genre anthology series.

And that’s despite the confession of folk brigand Eliza Carthy (Louder Than Words festival interview, Manchester, 2018) that she can’t stand Folk Rock and has never knowingly listened to a Fairport Convention album.

She’ll not be interested then to hear how sixty tracks gather together the familiar with the less so. Songs that you’ll know from the folk tradition and plenty of others which  again, might be less so. If there’s anyone who could lay a claim to knowing all the bands and all the songs then you perhaps deserve a place at the head of the table if not the Eggheads team. Steeleye Span, Ralph McTell Continue reading

Review: Ye Vagabonds: The Hare’s Lament

Ye Vagabonds – The Hare’s Lament
River Lea – 22 March 2019

River Lea – the new record label run by music writer Tim Chipping under the wing of indie giants Rough Trade – is barely six months and three albums old, and already it feels like part of the folk music furniture. The label’s first release, Lisa O’Neill’s Heard A Long Gone Song (2018) was a breath of fresh air, a raw and uncompromising blend of original and traditional songs. The second – The Reeling, by Scottish smallpipe player Brìghde Chaimbeul – is one of the most astonishing, exploratory albums to emerge so far this year in any genre. Taken together, they represent a mighty impressive start for a label that appears to have arrived fully-formed and with a mission to reinvigorate traditional forms of musical expression.

With such an impressive start, the challenge for River Lea now is to keep the momentum going. It is understandable that expectations for their next album are going to be high, both amongst critics and the record-buying public. But Rough Trade know what they are doing (they have been around for forty years after all), and they have clearly put all their trust in their new imprint. And within the first few seconds of the first song on Ye Vagabonds’ new album, The Hare’s Lament, it is obvious Continue reading

Record Review: Lau’s “Midnight And Closedown” 

Melody, poetry, emotion and memory weave in and out like stories. Midnight And Closedown is the next chapter in Lau’s fascinating story.

AMartin Green says, Lau are a triangle, and a triangle is a powerful shape. What Lau achieve when they come together under the rule of three always seems to harness the best of that creative power, and their 2019 album, Midnight And Closedown (released on 8th February), is no exception. Recorded in just a week, but written during a year in which politics has more directly affected our daily thoughts than ever before. Produced byJohn Parish, the man in the chair for PJ Harvey’s Mercury Prize-winning Let England Shake, and This Is The Kit’s beautifully ramshackle Moonshine and Freeze, in a reversal of their usual methods, Lau wrote and recorded Midnight and Closedown before presenting it, in its entirety, to live audiences in November and December last year. The album takes its title from a line in Seamus Heaney’s Glanmore Sonnets and has been described variously as a Brexit album, more akin to late-period Beatles than folk, and even as a hint at a final fling. The first, I’m happy to accept; as for those other assertions, let’s see…

As the album opens there’s certainly a hint of melancholy in Kris Drever’s vocal for I Don’t Want to Die Here. It’s offset, though, by Aidan O’Rourke’s shimmering strings and a sense of locomotion in the rhythm. The lyrical content will undergo more scrutiny than can be offered here, but ‘Slick cobbled stones reflecting seventies festoons / our drunken county rallies round ideas like sad balloons’ certainly support Aidan’s description of the album’s themes… “The vehemence of opinion. The shoutiness. The rise of the right. The allure of brashness in politics…The sense that our collective future is hazy.” Continue reading

Album reviews: The Unthanks “Lines”

Northumbria’s The Unthanks are partial to a themed project and have a wide-ranging fanbase to show for their adventurous creativity.

Their latest box set, Lines, brings together three separate projects, all inspired by poetry, and is one of their most suitable and beautiful ventures to date, playing to their strengths in storytelling, atmosphere and bittersweet sentiment.Part One: Lillian Bilocca is their recording of the music from The Last Testament of Lillian Bilocca, actress Maxine Peake’s site specific theatre piece about the eponymous activist’s campaign for improved safety at sea following Hull’s triple trawler disaster of 1968. Continue reading

Alex Rex returns with the melancholic and redemptive ‘Latest Regret’

Source: thefourohfive.com

Alex Rex is the moniker used by Alex Neilson of (now defunct) Trembling Bells. He has released one album under guise before, 2017’s Vermillion, but will be returning on March 29th with a follow up called Otterburn. It’s set to be a deep and heavy record, largely informed by the surprise and untimely passing of his brother in 2017.

Today we bring you the first single and video to be shared from Otterburn, the rainy-day contemplation of ‘Latest Regret’. It’s a song that finds Alex Rex weaving among dark thoughts, both comic and earnest, carried by loping and wistful rock. ‘Latest Regret’ finds Rex reunited with Trembling Bells members Lavinia Blackwall (who gives the song a soulful lift with divine backing vocals and crisp organ) and Mike Hastings (whose electric guitar shines like a silvery trail in the mist), and together they capture gently rousing a snapshot of repentance and forgiveness.

‘Latest Regret’ also comes with a video by Tom Chick, which Alex Rex introduces, saying: “”Latest Regret” was written in one sitting in Regents Park during an unhappy stay in London. It’s basically “La Bamba” reimagined by a deranged art squirrel. It was filmed by Tom Chick on the M8 motorway and in the Glad Café, Glasgow. It is our homage to the Cassavetes film “Killing Of A Chinese Bookie” It stars Becca Harrison, Sophie Sexon, Rory Haye, Mike Hastings & Lew Porteous.”

Alex Rex’s Otterburn comes out through Tin Angel on March 29th. He’s got these tour dates planned in April:

02/04- Glasgow- Blue Arrow
03/04- Edinburgh- Sneaky Pete’s
04/04- Bradford- Shipley Triangle
05/04- Leeds- The Abbey Pub
06/04- Bristol- The Cube
07/04- Bath- The Bell
08/04- Leicester- The Musician
09/04- Brighton- Rosie Hill
10/04- London- SET
11/04- Birmingham- Hare & Hounds
13/04- Todmorden- Golden Lion
14/04- Sheffield- Bishops House