UK debut album by AlascA

AlascA liveOn their debut UK release ACTORS & LIARS, AlascA play eleven tales and songs that have the tendency of lodging themselves in the old grey matter. AlascA’s music has a novel and poetic quality, which to me anyway, will leave a lasting impression.

The tales grow on you and the melodies that guide the lyrics to their end have a place in the past, the present and the future. Their lingering melodies will appeal to the listeners of current indie-folk, but will likewise inspire those who loved the folk sounds, close harmonies and lyrical subtleties of the ‘60’s and ‘70’s.

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ACTORS & LIARS by AlascAACTORS & LIARS was produced by Grammy-award winning engineer and producer Alan Branch (U2, Jeff Beck, Yusuf Islam, Blur, Nine Inch Nails). When released in the Netherlands in 2012 it peaked at No 9 in the Dutch charts in the week after its release (and stayed in the top 50 the subsequent six weeks) and received much critical acclaim in the Netherlands and Belgium. AlascA’s live performances are characterized by their shifts from intimate singer-songwriter tales to bombastic folk-rock explosions. AlascA are based near Amsterdam and consist of Frank Bond (vocals, guitars, bass), William Bond (harmonies, keys), Ferdinand Jonk (harmonies, banjo, 12-string guitar) and Louis van Sinderen (drums, percussion).

AlascA Photo: www.marcobakker.comThe band are inspired by a diverse collection of bands including the Beatles, Love, the Zombies, Beach Boys, Buffalo Springfield, CSNY, Neil Young, Bob Dylan, Tim Buckley, Gene Clark, the Doors, Fleetwood Mac, Pentangle, David Bowie, Big Star, Jeff Buckley, Radiohead, The Dears, The Shins, Fleet Foxes, Sufjan Stevens, Midlake, Yeasayer and Iron & Wine. AlascA have played on De Wereld Draait Door, the Dutch leading prime time television programme and have played at most of the major radio stations in the Netherlands such as Radio 1, Radio 2, Radio 3FM and Omrop Fryslan.

All the songs on the album apart from Déjà Vu, written by Ferdinand Jonk, were written by Frank Bond. Frank studied English Literature and Literary Sciences at the University of Amsterdam and obtained his Master of Arts Degree in 2009. Frank’s Ma Thesis is on Bob Dylan and provided a critical look into the most prominent academic approaches to Bob Dylan’s lyrics. The thesis was praised for its line of argument and the fact that it proposes a more productive and adequate analysis which also attempts to incorporate the musical elements of Dylan’s song lyrics. After graduation, the thesis was published. Frank, however, is and was not satisfied with the scope of the thesis and is currently working on a revision of his methods of analysis. He is also working on several essays on the various aspects of the current day music industry. In line with his background, Frank’s songwriting and lyrics are inspired by literature and philosophy, in particular Shakespeare, Keats, Coleridge, Yeats, Hemingway, Rimbaud, Pound, Joyce, Lucebert, Sartre, Foucault, Fowles, Kafka, Twain and Lawrence.

For more information and the latest tour dates visit http://www.alascamusic.com/

Rachel Harrington and THE KNOCK OUTS

NEW ALBUM NOW AVAILABLE!

Imagine Loretta Lynn playing Otis Redding songs in a garage in Seattle – in 1963. That gets you somewhere near the new territory being scouted out by country soul sensation Rachel Harrington as she heads for the hills and honkytonks with her newest adventure.

Over the course of the past three striking albums, Seattle-based singer-songwriter Rachel Harrington has proven an ability to conjure songs and stories that are real and resonant and timeless – whether she’s singing about yesterday’s heartache or tomorrow’s dreams. “Ancient sounding country noir” (Q – 4 Stars) with “songs that conjure the ghosts of old America” (Mojo – 4 Stars).

So what happens when a true original like Harrington gets a full band behind her? And what if that band is dedicated to excavating the very soul of American roots music, to mining the old school sounds and sentiments from Etta to Loretta? And let’s just say that band is comprised of some of the finest female musicians in the Northwest? That band would be called Rachel Harrington and the Knock Outs.

Asked to perform some songs at Seattle Theater Group’s annual Patsy Cline tribute concert, Harrington found herself talking backstage with a host of fellow girl singers and musicians. It didn’t take long for their shared love of honkytonk, classic country, early rock and the Bakersfield sound to become obvious. As the story goes, the Knock Outs were born backstage and christened with a few shots of whisky.

“It was a meant-to-be kind of moment. We were all women who all knew that Don Rich and Loretta Lynn and Ray Charles all started out here in Washington State. All I had to do was make us some new songs to sing.” Harrington then set to work on writing fresh material for the fledgling group.

The new album, simply titled Rachel Harrington & The Knock Outs, was recorded at Avast! Studios in Seattle (Soundgarden, Fleet Foxes, Jesse Sykes) with Harrington’s long-time producer, Evan Brubaker, and features Alisa Milner on fiddle, Rebecca Young on bass, Moe Provencher on guitar, and Aimee Tubbs on drums. Special guests include Mark Erelli, steel player Tommy Hannum (Steve Earle) and guitarist Tim Carroll (Elizabeth Cook). Harrington and company circle the wagons on true-blue Americana from the wall-of-sound 60‘s soul rave-up of ‘He’s My Man’, to the women’s lib honkytonk of ‘Wedding Ring Vacation’, to the cry-in-your-beer gem ‘I’d Like To Take This Chance’.

A 2011 winner in Merlefest’s esteemed songwriting contest (previous winners include Gillian Welch and Tift Merritt), Rachel says her past few albums came largely of her study of the Old West and turn-of-the-century American musics, circa 1900-1930. “And the new record may sound a little different, but I’m still writing essentially the same stuff. I’m still lifting my skirts and letting my influences show. I’m still channeling the old writers and singers and storytellers I love.” She winks.“It’s just that I moved forward in time about 40 years.”

Artist’s website: www.rachelharrington.net

ROY HARPER – Songs Of Love And Loss – SALVO SALVOCDC222

Roy Harper is seventy and living in semi-retirement as far as making new music is concerned. He has, however, been preparing to make his complete catalogue available as digital downloads for the first time beginning with this double set which is also released on CD.

These are, as the title suggests, love songs so there are none of the long musical excursions that Roy is also noted for. Thinking of a song like ‘I Hate The White Man’ it’s easy to pigeon-hole Roy as a political song-writer but that’s not really the way he is. Certainly he has strong views and principles that have made for edgy relationships with record companies. He is firmly opposed to organised religion of any kind but his thoughts on the existence of a deity are more complicated than the simplistic “God is dead”. Most of his songs are about people, family and lovers, and England in all its beauty and ugliness. Included in this set is ‘South Africa’ which could be an ode to a country imprisoned by apartheid or a metaphor for a woman of whom he says “We have never met each other but it can’t be long”. That’s the beauty of Roy Harper: you can analyse his lyrics fruitlessly for hours.

This album includes some of Roy’s perennial favourites: ‘Francesca’, ‘Commune’, ‘Another Day’ and ‘North Country’ amongst them but there are songs from later, perhaps lesser-known albums: songs like ‘Sleeping At The Wheel’, ‘On Summer Day’ and ‘Waiting For Godot’. The quality of the remixing/remastering is astonishing. Even listening in the car I swear I can hear things I’ve never heard before. The tracks drawn from Valentine are gorgeous with David Bedford’s orchestrations soaring and leaping from the speakers. Most of my Harper albums are on vinyl and although I’d never part with them I’m seriously considering supplementing them with new digital versions. Dai Jeffries

Artist Web Link: www.royharper.co.uk

ROY HARPER – ‘SONGS OF LOVE AND LOSS’

Few survivors from the golden age of British folk-rock have kept their reputations intact. Of the generation of troubadours who came of age in the folk clubs of Londonin the mid-1960s, there is one figure whose body of work, comprising 23 studio LPs and almost as many live and compilation releases, has come to stand for a particularly single-minded form of integrity. That man is Roy Harper.

On September 19th Union Square Music/Salvo Records releases the physical version of the 2CD set ‘Songs of Love and Loss’ Volumes 1 & 2 – 23 songs of raw, uncompromising honesty and emotion spanning Harper’s work from 1966 to 1992. One of the most innovative song writers to come out of the mid 60’s folk boom, ‘Songs of Love and Loss’ displays his remarkable array of styles, from the early folk finger pickings of Black Clouds and mysterious All You Need Is, to the bluesy ‘Little Lady’, the resonating ‘Frozen Moment’ and the lamenting ‘Another Day’.

Now officially ‘retired’, and living in a secluded corner of Ireland, Harper has recently been hailed as a key influence by a much younger generation of devoted starsailors who instinctively recognise his innovations, his refusal to compromise and his visionary world view. The likes of Fleet Foxes, Joanna Newsom and Jim O’Rourke are avowed fans; and in previous decades he has enjoyed public endorsements and tributes from the likes of Led Zeppelin, Kate Bush, Pink Floyd’s Dave Gilmour and many more.

Born in 1941 near Manchester, he was raised by a father and Jehovah’s Witness stepmother (his mother died when he was a baby) and developed an early aversion to dogma and organized religion. Running away he joined the Royal Air Force as a teenager, but didn’t take too well to their rules and regulations. Leaving wasn’t so easy as running away from home, however, and Harper opted to plead insanity to get his release. Part of the discharge deal meant he had to undergo unpleasant ECT treatment at a mental hospital. Harper later drifted throughout Europe, and by 1965 was a mainstay of London’s Les Cousins folk club, performing alongside the likes of Paul Simon, Joni Mitchell, and Nick Drake.

In 1966 the tiny indie label Strike issued Harper’s debut LP, The Sophisticated Beggar; the record brought him to the attention of Columbia, which released his sophomore effort, Come Out Fighting Genghis Smith, the following year. In 1968, Harper mounted a series of free concerts in London’s Hyde Park, which greatly expanded his fan base in preparation for the release of 1969’s Folkjokeopus, which included “McGoohan’s Blues,” the first of his many extended compositions.

After meeting Pink Floyd manager Peter Jenner, Harper was signed to EMI’s Harvest subsidiary, and in 1970 he issued Flat Baroque and Berserk, recorded with contributions from members of the Nice; that same year marked the appearance of Led Zeppelin III and its track “Hats Off to Harper,” a tribute penned by longtime friend Jimmy Page. Upon relocating to the Big Sur area of California, Harper began writing 1971’s Stormcock, regarded by many as his finest record; the following year he starred in the film Made, releasing the music he composed for the picture’s soundtrack in 1973 under the title Lifemask.

Valentine, a collection of love songs, appeared in 1974, and was quickly followed by the live album Flashes from the Archives of Oblivion, featuring appearances by Page, Keith Moon, Ronnie Lane, and Ian Anderson. In 1975, Harper formed Trigger, a backing group including guitarist Chris Spedding and drummer Bill Bruford; however, after releasing just one LP, HQ, the unit disbanded. In 1975 Harper also took lead vocals on “Have a Cigar,” a track on Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here.

Harper rode the unsteady waves of the music industry during the 1980s but kept up a productive output and in 1994, he set up his own record label, Science Friction, to curate and re-release his entire back catalogue, along with a clutch of CDs of live and unreleased material covering his entire career. In his book, The Passions Of Great Fortune (2003), he published his complete lyrics together with photos, annotations and re-evaluations of every one of his songs. In 2005, old pal Jimmy Page presented him with the prestigious Mojo magazine Hero Award.

2011 will see a great deal of Roy Harper activity; Roy celebrates his 70th birthday, ITV Home Studios are to release a live concert DVD newly recorded at Metropolis studios and Roy will also play a sell-out gig at the Royal Festival Hall. Along with the reissue of a number of his original albums in digital form, Roy Harper’s incredible, visionary catalogue of work enters the digital domain in time for his music to take on a new, urgent and timely appeal, in an age in which the hypocrisies and injustices he railed against are more present than ever before. It’s been a damned good innings and he’s still not out.

Track listing sequence:

Volume 1

1.Black Clouds
2. Girlie
3. All You Need Is
4. Francesca
5. East Of The Sun
6. Little Lady
7. North Country
8. I’ll See You Again
9. Naked Flame
10. Commune
11. Frozen Moment

Volume 2

1. Davey
2. Another Day
3. South Africa
4. Hallucinating Light
5. Sleeping At The Wheel
6. Waiting For Godot
7. The Flycatcher
8. On Summer Day
9. Cherishing The Lonesome
10. My Friend
11. One More Tomorrow
12. Forever

Artist Web Link: http://www.royharper.co.uk/