BEANS ON TOAST – A Bird In The Hand (Beans On Toast Music BOT10CD)

A Bird In The HandEvery year on the same date, December 1st, Beans On Toast (or Jay as his mum calls him) releases a new album and has done so for the last decade. A Bird In The Hand is his latest.

Beans has a lot in common with Robb Johnson – and I mean that as a compliment. He writes and sings the way he speaks and can draw his inspiration from the most mundane observations so his records are almost like a diary or an annual report. The past year was an important one for him, seeing the birth of his first daughter, not without a scare on the way, as told in ‘Magic’ with the opener. ‘Another Year’, addressed to her and her mother.  The album was produced by Ben Lovett of Mumford & Sons who I guess plays drums and who recruited bassist Ted Dwane alongside guitarist Christof ven der Ven, singer-songwriter Jess Morgan, Tommy Heap and Chris Mass.

I suspect that Jay spent quite some time with mother and newborn and from that time came ‘Here At Homerton Hospital which praises the staff and makes the point of noting their nationalities. If he’s exaggerated a bit, I don’t mind. The single, ‘Alexa’ is an amusing dig at Amazon and ‘Bamboo Toothbrush’ takes an enormous swing at our ridiculous use of plastic. In between these is ‘1980’s Sagittarius’ which seems puzzling at first but turns out to be a song in praise of Skinny Lister vocalist Lorna Thomas, just because they are friends.

Beans takes a day off in ‘Watching The World Go By’ but returns to the fray with ‘Please Give Generously’ which isn’t just about the homeless, and a sort of confessional by a travelling musician in ‘Miss You Lke Crazy’ which is also addressed to his daughter. The bands cited above will tell you a lot about the sound of ths album – a little folky, a little rocky, quite serious and a great deal of fun.

Dai Jeffries

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Artist’s website: www.beansontoastmusic.com

‘Magic’ – official video:

New single from the Moulettes, UCA’s DANCE out on Bonfire Night

The fiery neo-folk-rocker, Uca’s Dance is the second single from the Moulettes’ critically acclaimed album, ‘The Bear’s Revenge’.

The band welcomed back ex-Moulette, Ted Dwane, now of Mumford & Sons to play on these sessions (one of the b-sides, a version of Devil Of Mine recorded in a Manchester church in 2007, also includes Ted’s distinctive double bass-playing as a full-time Moule).

The genesis of Uca’s Dance is quite a story. Moulettes’s songwriter, Hannah Miller conceived it when she was a music-workshop leader at the Most Mira (meaning Peace Bridge) children’s festival in the Prijedor region of Bosnia in 2009. The aim of the festival was inspire artistic creativity in the young participants and build lasting bonds in their community. One night a Romanian fire-dancer, Uca, who was also working with the children, performed a dazzling impromptu dance, and Hannah spontaneously improvised an accompaniment. The song was born.

Happy Halloween from folking!

But, as with much of Miller’s work, reality blurs into fantastical fiction. In Moulettes myth-making Uca becomes an imprisoned fire-dancer in a circus of cruelty which has also incarcerated a dancing bear. The good-hearted Uca helps the bear escape in a denouement of fire, blood and eventual flight, quite literally, in a hot-air balloon: hence The Bear’s Revenge. Hannah is working on an illustrated book which extends the universe of her songs.

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“Moulettes are among the frontrunners of the new British acoustic scene thanks to their sophisticated, unpredictable approach, matching precise female harmony vocals against complex, swirling backing featuring violin, cello and bassoon.” **** Robin Denselow, The Guardian

“This is what a modern folk album should sound like.” **** London Evening Standard

“…songwriting of rare depth and inventiveness this is a mature, often inspired album.” **** Songlines

“The best music I heard at Latitude was by the Moulettes” The Independent

“This delicious music is played with acoustic virtuosity…Complex and beautiful…Intriguing and unique”  **** MOJO

“Divine harmonies…Orchestral folk at its very finest.” ***** Time Out

MOULETTES – new album ‘The Bear’s Revenge’ release date May 2012

Described as a turbo-charged roots ensemble for the 21st century, Moulettes are an entrancing combination of strings and celestial harmonies; woodwind and weirdness; rhythm and devilry has lead to comparisons with the Unthanks, Tom Waits and Shostakovitch. But, they have a sound and presence very much their own.

Cellist Hannah Miller, bassoonist Ruth Skipper and Ollie Austin (guitar, drums) have been playing and singing together for several years. But with the addition of violinist Georgina Leach and percussionist Rob Arcari in 2008, the Moulettes’ sinewy, melodic sound has come into true focus.

The band have shared stages, recordings, and personnel with the likes of Mumford & Sons (Ted Dwane of the Mumfords used to be their bassist) Mystery Jets, Band of Skulls (Emma Richardson guests on the album), Liz Green and even the Ting Tings – supporting the latter on tour as three-quarters of electro-pop band Modernaire. And they can count the Unthanks, Noisettes and Robert Plant as fans.

In the meantime, their previous album (available below) was described as the most ambitious ‘folk’ album you’ll hear all year (back in 2010). It splices together strands of classical, gypsy, jazz, alt.-rock and even some avant-garde to create a complex yet accessible whole. Highlights include the epic, atmospheric story-song “Devil Of Mine” (which boasts a mind-blowing video included as an extra on the disc); the Zepplin-esque folk-metal of “Requiem” and the entrancing prog-pop of “Wilderness.

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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.