Friday, 30 January 2009

Goldheart Assembly

Courtesy of Steve Lamacq's blog I was alerted to the welcome and jolly sound of Goldheart Assembly. The stylee does sound very retro but there is still a fresh twang to it, and how good is to hear some great tunes and melodies. Comment has been made that they wouldn't be out of place as a Fleet Foxes support slot, but in an odd way the song structure sort of reminds me of early Squeeze - thats supposed to be a compliment! Anyhow they are just the thing to boost a grim grey and wet Friday - they are out on tour in the UK in March with a slot at the Croft in Bristol - might just slide along...

Goldheart Assembly Myspace
Web site

Thursday, 29 January 2009

Vacilando Territory Blues - J Tillman

Whilst I am in an introspective and reflective mood, it seems like an ideal time to mention Vacilando Territory Blues by J Tillman. Mr Tillman does the drum thing for the Fleet Foxes but also has a (short) track record all of his own.

He more than held his own as support for the Foxes earlier this year when we saw them in Bristol, sitting alone for most of time on the stage, delivering his songs to a suitably hushed and supportive crowd. At the time he mentioned his upcoming solo album, and finally here it is

Naturally thoughts and comparisons turn to the now uber-trendy Foxes, but this is rather unfair it seems to me. Whilst there are inevitable parallels in some ways this music is his own. He has a fine voice, and one that stands up extremely well live.

The album is achingly beautiful; understated songs of real charm, delicately played, so sparsely played that they almost disappear at times. Quality playing abounds, aided and abetted with a couple of Foxes for good measure. 'New Born' stands out as does 'Steel on Steel' and 'Barter Blues'. The super-laid back mood only changes for 'New Imperial Grand Blue' which gives a glimpse of Tillman et al being capable of 'rocking out' a little more.

I know reviews have been mixed but really this is a fine album, and one which plays well for me in my current inward looking state. What a shame he only has one UK date on his short promo tour, and that of course in London

Solid Gone - John Martyn

And there goes another one – dead at 60 seems way too early, I know he lived it up and I guess his body paid the price of too much booze and too many substances. But what a genius, the voice, the guitar… Solid Air has already gone down as one the great albums and despite its age (1973) it still bares up extremely well. 

I know there are all the other albums but I am afraid it’s still this one that does it for me. The title track apparently written about that other musical genius, Nick Drake, who died even sooner, quite masterful. The whole album helped reposition the folk thing and helped it cross a number of borders.

I only saw him once at the tender age of about 18 when he still had echoes of the svelte and good looking man he had been. Somehow he came and played in the hall of my college in North London one night. There we were a clutch of unsuspecting spotty oiks sat on the wooden floor, on he strolled (well maybe staggered a little) guitar in hand and a large spliff stuck in the machine heads. After a couple of songs another chap slipped onto stage and sat behind a drum kit. Phil Collins was well known even then but hadn’t gone overblown pop diva mode, and I was still in awe of his drumming skills. The two of them played away, Martyn knocked back some drink, partook of another spliff and then was gone.

Listening back now, as I inevitably had to be, to Solid Air and the wonderful ‘I Don’t Want To Know’ in particular, I can’t help but hope that against the odds this isn’t the only life (although the Lad, with the brusque certainty of youth, is adamant that this is it) and that somewhere John Martyn will still be doing his thing

Thursday, 22 January 2009

The Acorn

Sometimes you hear a song or an album that you know is extraordinary, somehow obviously deeply felt, one of those pieces that come from somewhere deep in the artist.

A few listens to The Acorns ‘Glory, Hope, Mountain’ triggered those sorts of feelings without really having absorbed or understood the lyrics. An album that is a folkie-indie affair, slightly ramshackle, a plethora of picked guitars and banjos, occasional spacey blips with fragile vocals and harmonies, a mash-up of music from other cultures.

Although I didn’t get to it until 2009 this is definitely another or those ‘interior’ bands and albums that typified 2008 for me. Music that is intimate, close and personal, private and delicate.

All these sentiments are magnified when you learn that Glory Hope Mountain is dedicated to the life of Gloria Esperanza Montoya (Glory Hope Mountain) who is the mother of Rolf Klausener the lead voice and songwriter.

Gloria has lead an extraordinary life: nearly dying at birth, orphaned in Honduras, leaving at 12, ending up in Canada, nearly drowning in a flood, a husband who died with brain cancer and so on and so forth. Klausener knew none of these details until his mother talked it all out with him, resulting in this album. More details can be found in several places including at Pitchfork.

Mp3 The Acorn - Crooked Legs