A round-up of recent EPs and singles with compliments of the season

Singles Bar 25WOLFNOTE are a new trio from Berkshire making their debut with an EP, Frightened Of Your Own F#. The three female members, Bex, Gill and Ceri, have strong voices and harmonise well and between them play guitar, violin, cello, dulcimer and recorders and their silent partner, Mike, plays guitar, bass and cajon. The record starts with a cover of Dylan’s ‘Girl From The North Country’ taken a little more quickly than most people do – it can drag, sometimes. The other songs are originals and ‘Love And Light’ is particularly good. The production is excellent, concentrating on the voices with the instrumental leads clear and bright. A name to watch.

‘The Tug Of The Moon’ is the first single to be taken from If We Dig Any Deeper It Could Get Dangerous, the forthcoming album by SARAH McQUAID. This could be the only song ever inspired by Newton’s third law of motion and its effect on sidereal time.  Behind the science is the thought that we are all spinning towards the end of the universe and perhaps we should make the most of our time. Sarah creates a wonderful sound with fingerpicked electric guitar drenched in reverb.

While her new band settles in DARIA KULESH releases a single supported by two of her duo partners, Jonny Dyer and Marina Osman. ‘Vasilisa’ is an old Russian fairy tale from a book that Daria read as a child and still has. The story contains certain elements of Cinderella but far nastier and involves a supposedly deadly errand, the famous witch Baba Yaga and some unpleasant deaths. It has the mysterious air of Daria’s other Russian adaptations with the drone of a shruti box, dramatic piano, percussion and bouzouki.

It’s that time of year, so folk have been getting into the festive mood for seasonal singles. First up comes the rather lovely download (from the usual sources) only ‘What Will Christmas Be’, a melancholic piano (Danny Mitchell) and cello (Chelsea McGough) ballad duet from BEN GLOVER and NATALIE SCHLAB about absence and loss at a time traditionally about being together, set off with a final peal of bells.

Season Bright is a seasonal EP from EMILY EWING & ROBERT LANE. Robert is well known to folking readers and Emily is a singer-songwriter with a download EP to her name and a growing reputation. The lead tracks begins with Robert and Emily lamenting the fact that they’ll be spending Christmas alone (surely not) and moves on to the exhortation to “keep your loved ones near” over some lovely ringing electric guitar. The other tracks are the guitar-led ‘Get You’ and ‘Own It’, built around Emily’s piano. Available from iTunes.

Jo Whitby aka LAURENCE MADE ME CRY mirrors the mood with her download single ‘It’s Not You, It’s Christmas’ (from her bandcamp site), a slow walking fuzzed reverb guitar (sounding like a kazoo on acid) and drums ditty about choosing to spend the festivities alone at home, although she still wishes everyone seasonal cheer.

SKINNY LISTER also get into the act with ‘Christmas Calls’ (XtraMile), an epic sounding arms-linked swayalong anthem very much in the Pogues ‘Fairytale’ mould, complete with military drums, bells and whistles.

From last year’s Edison Gloriette album, JESS MORGAN releases download Jay Chakravorty remix of the Moonstruck-inspired ‘Come To The Opera With Me Loretta’ (Drabant Music) that removes the piano, putting more focus on the vocals and giving it an anthemic seasonal synths and drums shimmer makeover.

Away from the holly and ivy,Yorkshire’s FRAN WYBURN self-releases ‘Foolish Sea’, George Birkett’s fingerpicking and Rachel Brown’s cello backdropping her pure, little girl vocals on a quirky tale of unrequited love that serves as a taster to her forthcoming album.

There is not so much Christmas spirit but an awful lot of pain in ‘Love Left Lost’, the second single from Brighton-based singer-songwriter JOSH McGOVERN. Quite which subterranean depths that voice comes from is hard to say but the tragedy is delivered over minimal acoustic and with soulful backing vocals on the choruses.

To mark the twentieth anniversary of the death of blues guitarist LUTHER ALLISON Ruf records have released a limited edition eleven disc box set of his later work. As a taster there is a 7” vinyl single: ‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want’ and ‘Night Life’. The lead track starts with a deceptively simple Hammond organ and Luther waits until the chorus comes round for the band to kick in and then it takes off with some wonderful “doo-de-doo” backing vocals.

SKINNY LISTER – Down On Deptford Broadway (XtraMile)

Skinny ListerThough based in Greenwich, London, the band have roots all over England and further afield, melodeon and mandolin player Max Thomas and singer sister Lorna hail from Leicestershire, frontman Dan Heptinstall from Bridlington, concertina player Sam Brace (now back in the fold after being briefly replaced by Andy Black on guitar and mandolin) is from Hastings and double bassist Michael Camino from, well, Hawaii, actually.

The album was recorded way back in December 2013 and quite why it’s taken over a year to appear is a matter of speculation, but you’ll be pleased to know that it’s even more of a beer-swilling offering than their debut, Forge & Flagon; and that was even named after a pub. Clanging opener ‘Raise A Wreck’, a song which pretty much revolves around the title’s chorus refrain, serves reminder of their reputation for rousing shanty-punk, crashing straight into ‘Trouble In Oxford Street’, a bounce along tale of a punch up, while, Laura sharing lead and evocative of the booze-sodden flurry that was the first Pogues album, ‘George’s Glass’ is an ode to pub lock ins, ‘Six Whiskies’ is a drunken sway home after throwing out time and ‘Bold As Brass’ clatters along with the narrator singing about seeing his ex swagger into the pub with her new bloke.

They do have a couple of quieter, slower moments, both showcasing Laura and both with a traditional feel, the simple, airy shanty ‘Bonny Away’ and fiddle accompanied album love song closer ‘The Dreich’, but it’s the breakneck stompers that are their forte, whether jubilant as on ‘Cathy’, defiant as with the concertina driven battle cry ‘This Is War ‘or, sounding a lot like a cross between The Men They Couldn’t Hang and Tenpole Tudor, ‘Ten Thousand Voices’.

While probably best experienced live, turned up loud and with some accompanying suitable lubrication, the album is a rollicking affair and, for a band named after the pioneer of antiseptics they’re certainly far from sterile.

Mike Davies

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Artists’ website:

‘Trouble On Oxford Street’ – the official video: