A 4-minute, 8-bit history of the universe from the acclaimed singer-songwriter out now
Acclaimed folk singer-songwriter Will Varley has released something you might not necessarily associate with folk music: a computer-game style music video that shows the history of the universe and man’s evolution using 8-bit graphics – and in only four minutes. The video, which has already clocked up thousands of views, accompanies his song ‘Weddings and Wars’, a track from his recently released ‘As the Crow Flies’ album (Smugglers Records).
The video was designed and animated by Varley himself – it took about six weeks of solid work and involved lots of all-night sessions. Designed in a demo version of a 1990s computer program, Will finished the game on the last day of his free trial of the software. The video is influenced heavily by the kind of games Varley played with his brother as a child, and gamers will appreciate quite a few hidden in-jokes (look out for the Commander Keen reference, for example). Continue reading Will Varley: ‘Weddings And Wars’ video release
Sam Brookes has become part of the burgeoning acoustic music scene, gigging around the UK on his own and with his contemporaries to an ever-increasing audience of enthusiasts.
His songs are, fundamentally, beautifully crafted stories about familiar subject matters that captivate the listener. Musically, his immaculate phrasing and beautifully modulated delivery reach easily beneath the skin of his audience; the magical space he creates, with the elasticity of his writing, has the echoes and jazz arches of giants like John Martyn and Tim Buckley. Continue reading SAM BROOKES
Announcing US Tour Dates Including New York, LA and Chicago
Justin Currie, the lead singer and songwriter of Scottish pop-rock band Del Amitri, is set to release Lower Reaches on Compass Records on April 15th. The new album is the follow-up to Currie’s 2010 critically acclaimed project The Great War which garnered 4 star reviews and earned Currie the moniker of “a songwriter’s songwriter” from Mojo. On Lower Reaches, Currie’s pop sensibilities and radio ready vocals are ever present, but it’s his songwriting that is perhaps most striking. The new set of self-penned songs show Currie emerging as a writer of great depth and sensitivity, deftly examining life, relationships and the human condition, albeit delivered with the healthy dose of cynicism and wit that his fans have come to count on. Continue reading JUSTIN CURRIE SET TO RELEASE LOWER REACHES ON COMPASS RECORDS
‘Glacier’ session video & Record Store Day release confirmed
James Vincent McMorrow has premiered a new live video for ‘Glacier’, taken from his acclaimed second album Post Tropical. A limited edition 10” vinyl has also been confirmed for Record Store Day, featuring ‘Cavalier’ and 2 remixes (from The 1975, and Dptat). This follows a sold-out UK and European tour – including a London show at the Barbican and three nights at Dublin’s National Concert Hall – on top of James’ early confirmation for Coachella.
The follow-up to the platinum-selling Early in the Morning, the framework of Post Tropical was constructed over eight months. The recording itself took place on a pecan farm half a mile from the Mexican border – which the likes of Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Beach House and Animal Collective have all called home at one point. Its broadened horizons may come as a surprise to everyone but James and the people who know him best. “I found a zip drive recently, which dates back to before I made my first record, and I’d re-recorded every single part of the N.E.R.D album – apart from the vocals – just for the joy of it. I wanted to give this record the feel and movement of the hip-hop records that I love.” Continue reading James Vincent McMorrow – video
That Judith Owen’s new album Ebb & Flow evokes the spirit of the halcyon days of the great 1970s troubadours is not accidental.
In a set of potent songs about love and loss, pain and joy, dreams and despair, the Welsh singer-songwriter fearlessly explores the duality of the human condition – and to do justice to the songs, she turned to the legendary musicians who created the seventies’ troubadour sound.
Between them, her core band of drummer Russ Kunkel, bassist Lee Sklar and guitarist Waddy Wachtel played on many of the landmark albums from the era by the likes of Carole King, James Taylor, Joni Mitchell and Jackson Browne.
“The kind of music I write is so influenced by that sound and period that I wanted to go direct to the source,” Owen explains. “When I write songs, I’m hearing a sound in my head – and they knew the sound because they invented it.”
The songs on Ebb & Flow touch on the deepest emotions of Owen’s own storied life with an unswerving honesty. But although her songs are highly personal, the emotions are universal.
“Singing about the human condition, living under the shadow of loss and frustration and sadness and loneliness and not being gratuitously sentimental about it, instead making something beautiful out of it – that’s the songwriter’s job,” Owen says.
What she describes as the “bookends” of the album are two particularly heart-rending songs, “You’re Not Here Any More”, about her mother (whose suicide when she was 15, was the catalyst for her foray into serious song-writing) and “I Would Give Anything”, about the recent loss of the greatest musical influence, her opera singer father.
Both songs are poignant expressions of the bittersweet duality that is perhaps the album’s strongest theme and which is reflected in the title Ebb & Flow. “Yes, they’re incredibly sad,” admits Owen. “But they’re also cathartic because they’re the most loving songs I could write and are totally honest about the reality of loss.”
The theme of how to make it through the darkest night informs several other compositions on the album, including “Under Your Door”, “You Are Not My Friend” and “Train Out Of Hollywood”, songs about emotional vulnerability, but always shot through with glimpses of hope and salvation.
But, although Ebb & Flow is a highly personal, solo singer-songwriter album, in a real sense it’s a ‘band’ record too. “One of the great things is that Judith makes space for what we add,” Kunkel notes. “She turned it into a real ensemble thing,” Wachtel adds.
There is a seductive wit and playfulness alongside the introspection too. A trademark of Owen’s career has been her irreverent ability to subvert well-known songs with unexpected and improbable covers. Over the years she has turned-inside-out songs by the likes of Deep Purple and The Police to render them almost unrecognisable from the originals.
Here it’s Mungo Jerry’s 1970 smash hit “In The Summertime” that gets the unique Owen makeover treatment, rendered as it might have sounded if the song had appeared on Joni Mitchell’s Ladies of The Canyon. “Great songs are like great bones. You can hang whatever you want on them,” she says.”In The Summertime” is a ridiculously silly song, and so I asked ‘What Would Joni Do?’ It’s warm, with a glint in the eye and a sense of fun.”
The result is the most confident and assured album of Owen’s career to date. After emigrating to America in 1993, Ebb & Flow is Judith Owen’s eighth album since her 1996 debut Emotions On A Postcard. She’s married to the actor and humorist Harry Shearer and in addition to her acclaimed solo work, Judith has for many years been Richard Thompson’s female foil of choice. Both have appeared on each other’s albums and Owen played a leading collaborative part in Thompson’s projects 1000 Years Of Popular Music and Cabaret of Souls. She also co-created “Losing It” with Ruby Wax, a funny yet devastatingly honest two-woman show chronicling descent into mental illness that was a box-office hit in London’s West End in 2011.
But it is her role as an unflinching singer-songwriter baring her soul that remains at the core of Owen’s creativity. Ebb & Flow, she says, feels like a homecoming. “It’s the sound I heard as a kid and which made me light up. I’ve brought it home and it feels nice to be here.”
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Guitarist, singer, writer of songs, are just some of things that go to make up the man Adrian Nation. Guitar builder, rugby player, carpenter, martial artist, climber, the list goes on and is reflected in his musical catalogue. Here is an artist who can’t sit at home waiting for imagination to create the songs, rather he goes and finds the places in life where songs can be found. 2014 will see Adrian release his first ever live recording and after a special night in the Netherlands opening the Crossroads Sessions it was decided to release this superb album. Who better to describe how the album came about than Adrian himself.