FRANK TURNER – Be More Kind (XtraMile Recordings/Polydor 6738173)

Be More KindThe globe-circling gigging machine and humanist that is Frank Turner might surprise some with his seventh solo studio album, Be More Kind. Fearlessly true to himself, as always, he embraces an ambitious new musical palette, while his smart, sharp lyrics display maturity in the face of an uncertain world.

The surprises start at the first track, the comforting ‘Don’t Worry’, as Turner softens out his trademark vocal-cord shredding snarl over a chilled handclap groove. It seems right to bookend the album with this and the powerful, unapologetic closing track, ‘Get It Right’.

Love, optimism and humanity abound, from the tender, and drily English, ‘Going Nowhere’, to the ticking guitar (echoes of Wreckless Eric’s ‘Whole Wide World’) of ‘There She Is’ and the sparkly, Cure-ish pop of ‘Little Changes’.

The big, jagged ‘21st Century Survival Blues’ form a romantic, apocalyptic survival plan, “When the harsh winds blow and the world gets cold, You can’t trust kindness and you can’t eat gold”. As does ‘Brave Face’, with its thrashing guitars, churning organ and gospelly chorus.

With the waspish ‘1933’ we’re back in more familiar Turner territory, its jangly thrash-pop warning of the dangers of normalising bad ideas. Speaking of which, ‘Make America Great Again’ boldly harnesses and subverts the Donald Trump campaign slogan. Witty self-deprecation, “Well I know I’m just an ignorant Englishman,… So if you’ll forgive my accent and the cheek of it, Here’s some suggestions from the special relationship” slams up against the kind of power chords and 80s synth of a John Hughes teen-movie soundtrack.

Angular guitars and funk bass morph into swirling synth choruses on ‘Blackout’, an intentionally ‘clubby’ song about power cuts. The pattering ‘Common Ground’ is a plea for rational communication, whilst his sometime tour buddy, Will Varley, provides the inspiration for the beautiful ‘The Lifeboat’.

Since first encountering Frank Turner singing and playing guitar on an unlovely landing in the Royal Festival Hall in the Campfire Punkrock days of 2006, he’s occupied a small but distinct corner of my musical affections. Sometimes frustrating, always interesting, he manages to keep his work relevant and rewarding, even if I’m not entirely sold on the whole 80s vibe.

It’s an album that grows better with each listen and one that feels like a much-needed step back from the confrontational brink. In particular, the title track, ‘Be More Kind’ with its strings and tender plucked guitar, lyrically based on ideas from Clive James and Kurt Vonnegut, is a simple manifesto for our confusing, complicated times: “In a world that has decided that it’s going to lose its mind, be more kind, my friend, try to be more kind”. Can’t really argue with that.

Su O’Brien

If you would like to order a copy of an album (CD or Vinyl format), download a copy or just listen to snippets of selected tracks then click below to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website (use the left and right arrows below to scroll along or back to see the full selection).

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Artist website: www.frank-turner.com

‘Little Changes’ – official video:

Frank Turner – BE MORE KIND

NEW FRANK TURNER ALBUM ‘BE MORE KIND’ RELEASED MAY 4th 2018

Frank Turner has announced details of his forthcoming seventh studio album. Be More Kind will be released on May 4th through Xtra Mile Recordings/Polydor Records. Months after the release of Songbook, a career-spanning retrospective which also saw reworked versions of tracks from across the past decade, Be More Kind represents a thematic and sonic line in the sand for the 36-year-old. It’s a record that combines universal anthems with raw emotion and the political and the personal, with the intricate folk and punk roar trademarks of Turner’s sound imbued with new, bold experimental shades.

Be More Kind has been produced by Austin Jenkins and Joshua Block, formerly of psychedelic-rock Texans White Denim, and Florence And The Machine and Halsey collaborator Charlie Hugall.

“I wanted to try and get out of my comfort zone and do something different,” says Turner. Fans got a taste of the new material last month with the first track ‘1933’ and this is followed today by new track (and title track) ‘Be More Kind’ which is available now. Of the track, Frank says, “Be More Kind”, the song, is at the heart of the album, both lyrically and musically; when I finished it I could see the rest of the album coming together around it.’’

Turner was halfway through writing a very different sort of album, a concept record about women from the historical record who had been ignored, when he was reading a collection of Clive James’ poetry and one particular line compelled him to re-think his direction. It was from a poem called Leçons Des Ténèbres: “I should have been more kind. It is my fate. To find this out, but find it out too late.”

“It devastated me the first time I read it,” he says. “A lot of older, wiser people tend to say things like that, that the things that come out in the wash at the end of a human life are the way you treated the people around you. In the modern world, that’s a lesson that all of us, myself included could do to learn.”

Turner and his band, the Sleeping Souls, were on tour in the USA in 2016 “when the world decided to go collectively nuts” and the songs that make up Be More Kind started to come together.

“Somewhere in the record, there’s a convergence of the ideas of personal and political, which is a central theme of the album,” Turner says. One of the driving themes of the album is empathy, even for your enemy. “You should at least be able to inhabit the mental universe of the people you disagree with. If you can’t do that, then how do you communicate with people other than through force of arms, which is something we all agree is a bad idea.”

Behind some of the best songs of Turner’s career is the idea that the human race needs to find better ways of disagreeing than screaming each other down. Turner’s last two records, 2013’s Tape Deck Heart and 2015’s Positive Songs For Negative People, dealt with the fallout from a break-up and saw Turner struggling to cover the cracks in his personal life. Now happily in a relationship and living with his partner and their cat, he again set his sights to the bigger picture.

After the stripped-down, live-sounding Positive Songs…, Turner wanted to try a new approach for the record. Originally, he contacted Jenkins and Block at their Niles City Sound studio in Fort Worth, Texas with the idea of recording a white soul album in the vein of Dexys Midnight Runners. He found they were equally enthusiastic when he changed his mind and decided he wanted to record a more rock-led album with tints of electronic-pop. “I have an obscure corner of my music taste where I’m into glitch electronic music and Warp Records,” says Turner. “It’s not an electronic record but I got into arpeggiator synths.” Positive Songs… was cut in nine, intense days whereas Be More Kind was made over a period of seven months, giving Turner the opportunity to turn songs on their head, try different versions and shake up the dynamics within his band.

Now he just has to work out how they are going to play them live. The Be More Kind World Tour will begin in April, with its first leg playing to over 200,000 people across the UK, the USA, Europe, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, taking them through to Christmas. Turner promises that 2019 will include visits to some “slightly more weird and wonderful places.” “My days of being engaged in an arms race to be the hardest touring musician in the universe are behind me now,” he says. “We’re going to tour hard but come home regularly in the middle of it.” The first batch of announcements covers 120 dates. Some old habits die hard. These are songs that demand to be heard and Frank Turner is packed and ready to go.

If you would like to order a copy of an album (CD or Vinyl format), download a copy or just listen to snippets of selected tracks then click below to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website (use the left and right arrows below to scroll along or back to see the full selection).

Buying through Amazon on folking.com helps us to recover a small part of our running costs, so please order anything you need as every little purchase helps us.

Artist Website: http://frank-turner.com/

Seán McGowan – interview

In the run up to his debut album release, lyrically dextrous folk-punk troubadour Seán McGowan has shared an intimate new interview and session video.

Featuring a stirring solo acoustic session of Seán performing currently unreleased track ‘Springhill’, the video also sees the budding singer-songwriter open up about family, football, his current influences, as well as lifting the lid on what to expect from his eagerly anticipated debut album release Son Of The Smith – out 11 May 2018 via Xtra Mile Recordings.

This exclusive video was shot just hours before Seán took to the stage of the hallowed Shepherd’s Bush Empire earlier this year, while supporting Xtra Mile Recordings compadre Will Varley on his latest UK tour.

The video arrives as Seán prepares to go to back to his homeland with a series of Irish shows throughout this week that begin at Cork’s Brú Bar (6 March) and wind up in Belfast this weekend. Seán will then tackle an extensive run of UK and European dates over the coming months as he tours Son Of The Smith.

Giving us our first taster of the new album ahead, Seán also recently released the single ‘Off The Rails’. Recorded at SS2 Studios in Southend with labelmate Sam Duckworth (AKA Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly.) and Jay Malhotra, Son Of The Smith will be released on Xtra Mile Recordings on 11 May 2018.  Disarming in its scope, surprising in its erudite tackling of life’s challenges, and strong of voice with just a dab of laddish humour – the album is aural personification of Seán McGowan himself.

If you would like to order a copy of an album (CD or Vinyl format), download a copy or just listen to snippets of selected tracks then click below to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website (use the left and right arrows below to scroll along or back to see the full selection).

Buying through Amazon on folking.com helps us to recover a small part of our running costs, so please order anything you need as every little purchase helps us.

Artist’s website: https://seanmcgowan.lnk.to/sonofthesmith

Will Varley announces new album

Will Varley announces new album

Produced by Tristan Ivemy and mastered at Abbey Road by Frank Arkwright (Arcade Fire, Blur) Postcards From Ursa Minor is a master-class in song-writing that pushes the boundaries of the “one man and a guitar” format. From rowdy drinking songs with sprawling chaotic arrangements to his sparse solo performances he covers a range of subjects with his trademark sprinkling of social commentary, politics and wry humour.

Observing the world and the plight of humanity as if perched cross-legged on the edge of the moon, Varley’s existential themes cover the planet’s lonely existence within the universe as well focusing in to tackle the everyday minutia of human life.

‘Is Anyone Out There’ is a tongue in cheek call to any alien life forms that may be out there, to come and help us stop destroying the Earth. The track has actually been transmitted out into space using a 20 foot parabolic satellite dish in the US. We await a response!

‘The Man Who Fell To Earth’ tells the story of Jose Matata, an African immigrant whose body was found in a quiet suburban street one morning after falling out of the fuselage of a British Airways plane above London in 2009, attempting to illegally gain entry to the UK. It’s a powerful and timely piece of social commentary.

Songs like ‘Outside Over There’ and ‘Talking Cat Blues’ show off Varley’s storytelling prowesss while ‘Seize The Night’ and ‘From Halcyon’ take a more nostalgic approach, lamenting lost friends and times past.

If you would like to order a copy of an album (CD or Vinyl format), download a copy or just listen to snippets of selected tracks then click below to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website (use the left and right arrows below to scroll along or back to see the full selection).

Buying through Amazon on folking.com helps us to recover a small part of our running costs, so please order anything you need as every little purchase helps us.

Artist’s website: www.willvarley.com

‘The Man Who Fell To Earth’ – official video:

 

 

Joe Strummer and The Mescaleros

2012 would have been the year punk icon Joe Strummer turned 60, and to celebrate the extraordinary life and career of the musician, Hellcat Records are releasing re-mastered special editions of Strummer’s finest solo work on CD and Vinyl.

‘Global A Go-Go’ and ‘Streetcore’ were recorded between 2000 and Strummer’s untimely death in 2002, it was during this period that Strummer wrote, recorded and toured with the band he dubbed “The Mescaleros.” These records capture the one time Clash front man amidst an undeniable creative resurgence. In a review of Streetcore, The Guardian called the record Strummer’s “best work since the Clash’s London Calling.”

Strummer was the voice of a generation in the late 1970s and early 1980s, becoming a punk icon during his career with The Clash. After The Clash disbanded in 1985, Strummer only began working and recording with a band of his own again in the few years before his death.

‘The Mescaleros’, who were previously a studio session band, became a fully-fledged group on ‘Global A Go-Go’ and continued to develop further in ‘Streetcore’. This album was the last release, completed after Strummer’s death. This final album was widely celebrated as a great piece of work, leaving all wondering what could have been next for ‘Joe Strummer and The Mescaleros’ if not for Joe’s premature death.

Musician Frank Turner said of Joe in NME, “The most inspirational thing about Joe is that he managed to create a direct connection between his heart and his mouth, without anything getting in the way”.

10 years on from the loss of one of the great British music icons, the re-release of these two albums celebrates the life of Joe Strummer and his incredible musical talent.

Album Track Listings –

Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros – Global A Go-Go (CD and Double Vinyl)

1.     Johnny Appleseed – 4:04

2.     Cool ‘N’ Out – 4:22

3.     Global A GO-GO – 5:55

4.     Bhindi Bhagee – 5:47

5.     Gamma Ray – 6:58

6.     Mega Bottle Ride – 3:33

7.     Shaktar Donetsk – 5:57

8.     Mondo Bongo – 6:15

9.     Bummed Out City – 5:33

10.   At The Border, Guy – 7:09

11.     Minstrel Boy – 17:49

12.   Bindee Bhagee (Live from the Acton concert)- 6:12 (CD Only)

If you would like to order a copy of an album (CD or Vinyl format), download a copy or just listen to snippets of selected tracks then click below to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website (use the left and right arrows below to scroll along or back to see the full selection).

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Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros – Streetcore (CD and Vinyl)

1.  Coma Girl – 3:50

2.  Get Down Moses – 5:05

3.  Long Shadow – 3:34

4.  Arms Aloft – 3:47

5.  Ramshackle Day Parade – 4:03

6.  Redemption Song – 3:28

7.  All In A Day – 4:56

8.  Burnin’ Streets – 4:32

9.   Midnight Jam – 5:50

10.  Silver And Gold – 2:39

11.  The Harder They Come (live) (B-side to Coma Girl) – 3:26 (CD Only)

12.   Rudi, A Message To You (live) (B-side to Coma Girl) – 5:04 (CD Only)

13.   Blitzkreig Bop (live) (B-side of Coma Girl) – 3:25 (CD Only)

14.   Yalla Yalla (live) (B-side to Coma Girl) – 6:56 (CD Only)

15.   Armagideon Time (B-side to Redemption Song) – 4:30 (CD Only)

16.   Pressure Drop (B-side to Redemption Song) – 4:30 (CD Only)

17.   Junco Partner (from Hellcat Give Em The Boot IV compilation) – 4:19 (CD Only)

If you would like to order a copy of an album (CD or Vinyl format), download a copy or just listen to snippets of selected tracks then click below to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website (use the left and right arrows below to scroll along or back to see the full selection).

Buying through Amazon on folking.com helps us to recover a small part of our running costs, so please order anything you need as every little purchase helps us.