Madison Violet – The Good In Goodbye

JUNO nominated Canadian roots duo Madison Violet (Brenley MacEachern and Lisa MacIsaac) recently concluded their UK & Ireland tour in support of their new album The Good in Goodbye.

Since releasing their previous album No Fool for Trying (2009), Madison Violet have won the 2009 John Lennon Songwriting Contest for their track ‘The Ransom’, taken home the 2009 Canadian Folk Music Award for Vocal Group of the Year, and been nominated for multiple East Coast Music Awards and a 2010 JUNO Award for Roots & Traditional Album of the Year (Group).

The Good in Goodbye continues the duo’s growth and musical maturity, their distinct take on iconic Americana-inspired up-tempo melodies beautifully contrasts with their breathtakingly sweeping and personal lyrics, creating songs that blend nods to Lucinda Williams and Gillian Welch with the radio-friendly flecks of The Court Yard Hounds.

Receiving a mass of acclaim from outlets including the BBC, the CBC, Country Music People, Maverick Magazine, NPR, and Penguin Eggs Magazine, No Fool for Trying made dedicated fans of even the most hard-to-crack critics. Ultimately, Madison Violet captured the attention of Mojo Magazine, landing “Small Of My Heart” on the publication’s distinguished playlist, “Mojo’s Top 10”, in December 2009. Madison Violet also have the unique distinction of being the only Canadians to win The John Lennon Songwriting Contest.

With The Good In Goodbye, Madison Violet prove they’re among Canada’s brightest singer/songwriters.

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Artist’s website: www.madisonviolet.com

The Agnostic-Phibes Rhythm and Blood Conspiracy releases CAMPFIRE TALES…

Folkmaster – This may not be to everyone’s folking taste but I’ve had a few beers and have decided why not?

Sort of reminds me of an early Blue Oyster Cult line-up that have been kidnapped by the Hammer House horror team. Here’s the press release with a couple of SoundCloud tracks…

In the deep, dark woods of Canada, somewhere in the middle of nowhere, there is a dilapidated cabin. Illuminated only by a single gas lantern and a wood stove, the frontman of garage-punk, underground legends Forbidden Dimension and the three members of twisted roots-music cult-heroes Agnostic Mountain Gospel Choir compose haunting and raucous tales of death and mystery. What? Did you hear right? Garage-punk misanthrope Jackson Phibes playing with THAT Agnostic Mountain Gospel Choir? Yes, you did. You heard perfectly well. There is no need for us to repeat ourselves.

The unlikely collaboration started when the AMGC went on hiatus in 2010 and guitarist Bob Keelaghan found the exact location where the mysterious Forbidden Dimension singer/guitarist/tunesmith Jackson Phibes had decided to turn his back on humanity. As it turns out, Phibes was hard at work on new Forbidden Dimension material when the AMGC guitarist, along with bassist Vlad Sobolewski and drummerJason Woolley, found him in his remote shack. At first, Phibes was suspicious, belligerent, and suffering from ailments brought on by a steady diet of squirrels. After persistent badgering, Phibes was satisfied they were sincere musicians with chops to boot and he agreed to collaborate on an album.

While excited about Phibes’ rediscovery, people were at first confused. The AMGC had developed a world-wide cult following from St. Hubert, Fighting And Onions andTen Thousand, their three albums of updated, raw, ragged, pre-WW II acoustic-blues and Appalachian banjo freak-outs. They boasted fans like Seasick Steve and former BBC Radio DJ Mark Lamarr. They drew standing ovations at prestigious festivals like the Big Chill Festival in England and the Winnipeg Folk Festival in Canada.

Since the late 1980s, Jackson Phibes fronted the longest-running punk rock band in Calgary, now in its 23rd year of existence. FD built its reputation on pile-driving rock music with lyrics inspired by classic horror movies. Across the globe, fans of garage trash eagerly devoured his classic tunes of cartoonish morbidity like ‘Tonight I Paint In Flesh Colour’ and ‘Graveyard Line’.

How could such a partnership work? Anyone who bothered to get past the garish, grease-paint stage show and listen to a Forbidden Dimension record knew Phibes was well-versed in the R&B of early garage rockers, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, Link Wray, and pioneering psychobilly. Above all, he is a killer songwriter and storyteller. He just happens to dwell on monsters, madmen, and libidinous biker women. And on the other side of the coin, music critics have frequently referred to the ferocious punk elements in the Agnostic Mountain Gospel Choir approach to blues and country. Common ground? Plenty.

With patience and coaxing, the combo recorded Campfire Tales, an album that sews together the worlds of garage rock and roots music, building a bridge between the old-time tradition of the murder ballad with modern macabre storytelling. The dark imagery is augmented by guitars that simultaneously howl with electricity and brood acoustically. Woolley’s clanky drums accent growling vocals while Sobolewski’s upright bass pounds away. Together they create an atmosphere both moody and rowdy. Surely, this disc will spin the punk-blues scene on its pointed, little head.

Listen to the eerie, country ghost-ride that calls itself ‘Campfire Tales’ or the dual-guitar hooks on country-blues-meets-gypsy-freakout ‘Wolfman Franz’ (an ode to an eastern European madman); or ‘Necking Party’, a hypnotic swamp rock tale of teenage lust and voyeurism gone horribly awry that gets extra spooky with Phibes’ ghostly wails from his feedback guitar. The guitars of Phibes and Keelaghan meld seamlessly and the band seduce listeners with their superb musicianship. After prying your eardrums away from your stereo the pairing of Phibes and the Agnostics will make perfect sense.

Yes, Petunia, the collaboration between members of Agnostic Mountain Gospel Choir and Jackson Phibes of Forbidden Dimension is here and ready for your consumption. After all the delays and false release dates, July 16, 2012 marked the release of Campfire Tales by the Agnostic-Phibes Rhythm & Blood Conspiracy.

Shoutin’ Abner Pim proudly says this CD could be the shocker of the year. Musically, it rests somewhere between the garage punk of Forbidden Dimension and the clang-banging country blues of the Agnostics, but it goes to places neither band does. The songwriting strengths of Jackson Phibes and Bob Keelaghan are brought to the fore as is their intricate guitar interplay. It’s a wild ride and we trust it will appeal to your discerning tastes.

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BRUCE COCKBURN – Small Source of Comfort

Bruce Cockburn has always been a restless spirit. Over the course of four decades, the celebrated Canadian artist has traveled to the corners of the earth out of humanitarian concerns – often to trouble spots experiencing events that have led to some of his most memorable songs. Going up against chaos, even if it involves grave risks, can be necessary to get closer to the truth.

“My mother once said that I must have a death wish, always going to what she called ‘those awful places,’” laughs Cockburn. “I don’t think of it that way. I make these trips partly because I want to see things for myself and partly out of my own sense of adventure.”

Released in April 2011, Small Source of Comfort, Cockburn’s 31st album, is his latest adventurous collection of songs of romance, protest and spiritual discovery. Winning this year’s Juno Award for Best Roots and Traditional Album, and his 12th Juno Award to date, the album, primarily acoustic yet rhythmically savvy, is rich in Cockburn’s characteristic blend of folk, blues, jazz and rock. As usual, many of the new compositions come from his travels and spending time in places like San Francisco and Brooklyn to the Canadian Forces base in Kandahar, Afghanistan, jotting down his typically detailed observations about the human experience.

Bruce Cockburn’s songs, along with his humanitarian work, have brought him a long list of honours, including an induction into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, a Governor General’s Performing Arts Award and several international awards. In 1982, he was made a Member of the Order of Canada and was promoted to Officer in 2002. Last year, the Luminato festival honoured Cockburn’s extensive songbook with a tribute concert featuring such varied guests as jazz guitarist Michael Occhipinti, folk-rapper Buck 65, country rockers Blackie and The Rodeo Kings, country-folk singers Sylvia Tyson and Amelia Curran, pop artists the Barenaked Ladies and Hawksley Workman, and folk-pop trio The Wailin’ Jennys.

Never content to rest on his laurels, Cockburn keeps looking ahead. “I’d rather think about what I’m going to do next”, he once said. “My models for graceful aging are guys like John Lee Hooker and Mississippi John Hurt, who never stopped working till they dropped, as I fully expect to be doing, and just getting better as musicians and as human beings.” Small Source of Comfort, a reflection of Cockburn’s ever-expanding world of wonders, is the latest step in his creative evolution.

With a career spanning more than four decades, producing an acclaimed body of work that has sold over 2 million copies worldwide, Bruce Cockburn continues to be revered by fans and fellow musicians alike as one of the most important songwriters of his generation.

Small Source of Comfort is Cockburn’s first studio album since 2006 – a rhythmic and highly evocative collection of 14 new tracks inspired by his renowned unusual and diverse muse – recent trips to Afghanistan and ponderings on the re-incarnation of Richard Nixon, to road trips and unreturned phone calls. The album boasts some of the best musicians recording today, including violinist Jenny Scheinman, former Wailin’ Jenny Annabelle Chvostek, and long time collaborators Gary Craig, Jon Dymond and producer Colin Linden.

As both a songwriter and a guitarist, Bruce Cockburn is considered among the world’s best. The New York Times called him a “virtuoso on guitar”, while Acoustic Guitar magazine placed him in the esteemed company of Andrés Segovia, Bill Frisell and Django Reinhardt.

Cockburn’s songs have been covered by such diverse and talented artists as Elbow, Jimmy Buffett, Judy Collins, Anne Murray, Chet Atkins, K.D. Lang, Barenaked Ladies, and the Grateful Dead’s Jerry Garcia.

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Artist’s website: www.brucecockburn.com