“Vinyl records were always a mysterious thing to me. When I was growing up everyone had cassettes and then CDs. I remember going round to my parents’ friends’ houses and being fascinated by their vinyl collections.”
“I distinctly recall picking up a pristine copy of Michael Jackson’s Bad album and opening up this thing of beauty with the giant sleeve pictures and notes. It felt like it was something very special to behold. Putting on the record made the music sound even better with that indescribable vinyl tone…miles away from cassette sound. I also loved sifting through my parents old vinyl singles collection—there were some amazing covers in there! I kept hold of Blondie’s “Atomic” and put it on my wall!
Later on in my teens I had an extensive CD collection and loved those great bands who really made an effort to emulate the vinyl experience on their CD releases through elaborate sleeves and track sequencing. Bands like Pearl Jam and Radiohead have some notable examples of the vinyl influence—particularly their albums Vitalogy and Hail to the Thief. I would love it (like many would) when bands printed the lyrics in their sleeves, so the whole process of listening to the album became ‘an experience.’
We’re living in a time when the struggle for recognition between male and female performers is constantly shrinking—although it took a while—and it’s become increasingly exciting to hear the talent that’s burgeoning among young singer-songwriters—of both sexes.
Yvonne McDonnell is one of these young singer-songwriters. She’s new to the game but already seems to be making waves, which is why she’s our Artist of the Week this week.
Her latest single “I’m Not This Layer Of Skin” is taken from her forthcoming EP “Not Her Own.” The track, along with the EP, speaks to female empowerment and the ability to face daily struggles with strength and with support. Yvonne’s vocal is extremely unique but perfect for the folk world—filled with vibrato and sincere emotion and the same story-telling charms akin to Laura Marling and Kate Rusby.
Although Yvonne has already released her debut EP “Endless Soul,” we think it will be “Not Her Own” that really puts her on the map and will invite an escape from London’s increasingly oversaturated music market. Yvonne’s voice is one that deserves to be heard—loud and proud.
“Not Her Own” is out on Friday 17th June 2016 via Reality Is Over.
“Vinyl has always been special to me. It was maybe the fact it always seemed to be out of bounds when I was younger. Before my dad’s record collection was relegated to the loft, they were not to be played by anyone other than him. I can see his point, his collection was in pristine condition, so why would he want my brother and my grubby hands all over them?”
“Vinyl records were absent from my life for a time but can’t say I missed them because I had never actually played one. It wasn’t until I was about 18 when I started hanging out with a friend who had a massive record collection. It was the first time I was able to really examine them and was interested in how they worked, how the packaging was put together, and what they sounded like. This was uncharted territory for me.
I started going to the second-hand record stores in Glasgow and raiding charity shops. There are a lot of Perry Como records out there. Also, a lot of Crocodiles by Echo and The Bunnymen which was one of my first purchases and subsequently one of my favourite albums. It’s a game of chance when you’re searching through buckets of second-hand records. For every Evol by Sonic Youth, there are 30 Barry Manilow greatest hits albums. You need to have patience.
Sharing the stage over the last decade with Queens of the Stone Age, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, British Sea Power, R.E.M., Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Supergrass, Eagles Of Death Metal, and Jane’s Addiction, The Duke Spirit were rising stars before going on hiatus in 2012.
Now veterans of the UK music scene, The Duke Spirit has returned with their fourth studio album and their first in 5 years, KIN. The band have been through a great deal since their last record, all of which has gone to creating an incredibly mature and diverse new collection of material.
With a range of influences coming together on the album including shoegaze, indie-pop, and rock, the band have created a rich palette that, despite the diversity in musical directions, underpins the album as a cohesive whole. Latest single “Wounded Wing” is a particular stand-out with its sombre piano and gorgeous male/female harmonies, and “Pacific” with its use of a quivering Theremin, exhibits the band’s flair for experimentation.
“I’m 35 now and as a result I come from a generation that had a lot to do with vinyl’s initial decline.”
“For a perpetually bored and restless wean, these were the big, footery black ornaments that I more often associate with being shouted at by over-protective older relatives, who didn’t like my grubby kid-fingers picking them up in ways that were apparently unacceptable. The fact that they couldn’t be set down anywhere for even a second, couldn’t be left in a room which fluctuated by 0.5 degrees of heat and absolutely could not be used to drive my micro-machine across did nothing to bring the two of us closer.
As I saw it, I could throw a cassette at a wall, use them to build a fort manned by LEGO spacemen, or stick pencils through the holes and spin them like a football rattle and nobody gave a damn. Cassettes were approachable and fun. So when vinyl left for college, I can’t say I was particularly moved.
As I entered my teens and began to discover my own taste in music (as opposed to my parents’ ABBA, Cyndi Lauper, and Big Country hand-me-downs) they all suddenly had one thing in common, which was this miraculous, convenient, space-age pocket-mirror format that I didn’t need to drag my ass off a couch to turn over and that could easily skip all the filler in favour of nothing but hits.
Our Artist of the Week this week is a concept band from New Zealand—The Folk Today Project. Their prime purpose is to turn the modern folk world we all know on its head and revive the fundamental intentions of folk music—to comment on society.
The Project have recently released their debut single “The Reason For Living” which is out now via TFTP. The track is a well crafted, sweet song responding to modern-day living and how, generally, big city people prefer to live alone. Founder Neil Pharazyn explains: “There are issues big and small in our faces today that we should be singing about, such as school bullying, hanging out versus dating, mobile phone obsession, gay marriage… you can probably suggest more.”
Neil grew up surrounded by music and grew extremely passionate. He has written songs in a variety of pop genres and also takes advice from a Nashville producer when developing his music. “The Reason For Living” also features Andrew Laking (bass/guitar) and Bill Hickman (lead vocals).
Keep an eye out for more from the Folk Today Project who are bringing back folk music with a modern message.
Last month I authored an Artist of the Week feature on Glasgow band The Calm Fiasco, and since then they’ve gone and released their second single, “Lose Control.” I thought I better go check it out.
I hate to say I told you so, but it’s another great tune. The band have built on the more accessible “She Said” to produce a grittier, more aggressive track which relies on a driving drum beat and echoed by the rhythm of the guitars. Del Morin’s vocals snarl and snap, as he urges himself to put the low of a breakup behind him by going out and losing control.
While the musical backing and the lyrics take inspiration from the grittier end of the indie spectrum, there’s something of a much more classic blues feel to the way the verse’s vocals are delivered as if they’ve been lifted from a classic John Lee Hooker song. It’s an interesting combination which again demonstrates The Calm Fiasco aren’t just going through the motions.
Despite its move away from the more radio-friendly “She Said,” “Lose Control” retains that indie-floorfiller vibe. Danceable and singable from start to finish, it gets its point across in just over three minutes, no messing about, straight to the finish. Keep it coming boys.
“Lose Control” is out 22nd April 2016 via Chewy Records.
“A few years back someone must have mentioned that music sounded better on vinyl, so I was interested to know if it was true and how much of a difference it actually made.”
“My parents insisted that it was just rose-tinted nostalgia and reminisced about annoying crackles and the time-consuming nature of the process when I asked if we could get their collection down from the attic, but they gave in. Getting into our attic is a chore in itself seeing as there’s no ladder, so I was obviously pretty keen to test it out. Anyway, we hauled it all down and set up in the front room.
I think the first one I put on was Dark Side of the Moon and the three of us stood back and listened with a fair amount of anticipation. It was obvious that, despite dismissing the notion it could sound much good, I had stirred up some sense of intrigue and anticipation in my parents, who in all fairness, had a rather respectable collection.
What began as a the solo-project of electronic pop artist Dan Frau, Caralis has developed into a fully fledged band, producing a sound that sits somewhere between dreampop and electropop.
Their first single as a full group, “Logic” demonstrates this well, taking cues from the likes of Caribou and Bonobo. A catchy piano riff is the base of the song, rolling back and forth under Frau’s vocals, the style of which reminds me of (please don’t take this the wrong way, Dan) Keane’s lead singer Tom Chaplin.
The chorus raises us above the driving rhythm of the verse as Ex Libra’s frontman Amit Sharma plays a light guitar part which intertwines nicely with Frau’s now floating vocals. The song at this point feeling more similar to Wild Beasts in nature—it’s a nice change-up before the plunge back into the beefier verses. Toward the end of the song the urgency is upped in a long outro, a buzzing synth bassline drops in (“wait for the drop!”) with Frau repeating the line “different agenda,”—the whole thing feels rather sinister at this point.
The Harpoonist aka Shawn Hall (lead vocals, harmonica) and The Axe aka Matthew Rogers (guitar, drums, backing vocals) have just finished their first European tour supporting Dr. Dog and XIXA in anticipation of their latest single “Don’t Make ‘em Like They Used To,” which is out on May 6, 2016 via Tonic Records. The single immediately engages you, much like The Black Keys’ “Gold On The Ceiling,” smothered in gritty soul and infectious funk.
The duo met whilst at a recording session for a radio jingle and named their new project after the blues harp reference lyric, “I took my harpoon out of my dirty red bandana” from Kris Kristofferson’s “Bobby Mcgee” and the term “axe” as the common reference to a guitar. The lads have already made a pretty huge splash in their hometown of Vancouver and have played highly energetic shows at SXSW 2013/14, Ottawa Blues Fest, Montreal Jazz Fest, and have shared the stage with Taj Mahal, Booker T. Jones, David Wilcox, and Mother Mother, to name but a few. With their debut European tour now all wrapped up, we’re certain they’ll be making waves across the rest of the globe as well in no time.
“Don’t Make ‘em Like They Used To” is out is out on May 6, 2016 via Tonic Records.