Category: folk

New Audio: The Wood Brothers Return with a Zydeco-Tinged Meditation on Love and the Balance Between Darkness and Light

Last year, I spilled quite a bit of virtual ink covering the acclaimed folk/roots/Americana act and JOVM mainstays The Wood Brothers. Now, as you may recall, I caught the acclaimed trio at The Vic Theatre in Chicago, while they were touring to support their sixth, full-length album, 2018’s self-produced and recorded One Drop of Truth. At the time, I wasn’t familiar with them but their Vic Theatre set was so impressive that I quickly became a fan. 

Last year, the Nashville-based trio released another live album Live at the Fillmore, which further cemented their long-held reputation for live shows centered around performances that defy categorization: their delivery often seem to live at the intersection of arena rock energy and small theater intimacy, while boldly blurring the lines between folk, rock, blues, soul, funk, roots music, alt-country and Americana among other things. During a busy touring schedule, the trio found the time to write and record the highly-anticipated follow-up to One Drop of Truth, Kingdom In My Mind.

Throughout the band’s history together, the trio’s creative process would generally begin with the band writing songs before they got to the studio and then deliberately set out to record them. However, Kingdom In My Mind found the band beginning the process of writing and recording without initially realizing it: When they started, they all thought they were just simply breaking in and test driving their new Nashville recording studio/rehearsal space by tracking a series of extended, instrumental jam sessions.

“If we had known we were making a record, we probably would have been too self-conscious to play what we played,” Chris Wood reflects on the writing and recording process of their forthcoming album. “At the time, we just thought we were jamming to break in our new studio, so we felt free to explore all these different ways of playing together without worrying about form or structure. It was liberating.”

“We weren’t performing songs,” Oliver adds. “We were just improvising and letting the music dictate everything. Somebody would start playing, and then we’d all jump into the groove with them and see where it went. Normally when recording, you’re thinking about your parts and your performances, but with these sessions, we were just reacting to each other and having fun in the moment.”

After listening to their jams, the members of the band realized that they captured something undeniably alive and uninhibited. Much like a sculptor, Chris Wood took those sprawling improvised recordings and began to carefully chisel out verses, choruses, bridges and solos until distinctive songs began to take shape. From there, the band divvied up the material that spoke to them most and began writing lyrics both separately and together.

Thematically the album is an extensive meditation and reckoning with circumstance, mortality and human nature centered around vivid, almost novelistic character studies and unflinching self-examination. The material’s cast of characters all attempt to find strength and solace in accepting what lies beyond our limited control, ultimately pondering how we find contentment and peace in a confusing, chaotic and frightening world. “We all have these little kingdoms inside of our minds,” the band’s Chris Wood says in press notes.  “And without really planning it out, the songs on this album all ended up exploring that idea in some way or another. They look at the ways we deal with our dreams and our regrets and our fears and our loves. They look at the stories we tell ourselves and the ways we balance the darkness and the light.”

But while the lyrics dig into deep philosophical territory, the arrangements draw from a broad sonic and stylistic spectrum. Last year, I wrote about the slow-burning, Dr. John/New Orleans-like jazz ballad “Alabaster,” a song centered around an empathetic portrait of a woman, who has broken free of her old life and relocated far away for a much-needed fresh start. And while featuring an incredibly novelistic attention to detail, the song manages to feel improvised yet simultaneously crafted. Kingdom In My Mind‘s second single was the slow-burning country blues “Cry Over Nothing,” a meditation on the ego, perspective and fate told with a playfully fatalistic sensibility. Sometimes, even the sky is against you — and there ain’t a thing you can do about it. The album’s third single “Little Bit Sweet” was centered around some of the material’s first batch of improvised instrumentation from the early jam sessions that birthed it. Centered around a bouncy bass line and shimmering guitars, the song is part old-timey lament and part world-weary sigh focusing on mortality, the passing of time and getting older, and the impermanent nature of all things. And yet through the tears and heartache, there’s a sense of acceptance and awe of the things that the song’s narrator can’t understand. It just is — and sometimes it’s wonderful because of that.

The Wood Brothers begin the new year with Kingdom in My Mind’s fourth and latest single, the zydeco-tinged stomp “The One I Love” is a meditation on love, and the search for the balance between darkness and light. The song seems to suggest that balance can be found in something seemingly small yet so very vital to all of us — those we love. When our world seems so bleak, so uncertain and so devoid of hope or kindness, we should all take comfort and solace in hopefully having someone who loves and supports us, who will be by our side. It may be rare but man, when we find it, it’s special. 

Advertisements

New Video: Berlin’s Mighty Oaks Release a Hazy and Nostalgic-Tinged Visual for Contemplative “Lost Again”

Mighty Oaks is a Berlin-based indie folk/folk rock act comprised of American-born Ian Hooper (vocals, acoustic/electric guitar, mandolin and ukulele), Italian-born Claudio Donzelli (vocals, acoustic/electric guitar), piano, mandolin, banjo) and British-born Craig Saunders (vocals, bass, mandolin).  The act can trace its origins back to early 2010.  As the story goes, after completing college, Ian Hooper relocated to Hamburg,  where he had begun working on material as a solo artist. While in Hamburg, Hooper met and befriended Craig Saunders, who was also working on material as a solo artist. Several months later, Hooper and Saunders met Claudio Donzelli at a small, acoustic music festival and the trio managed to keep in touch, bonding over a mutual interest in indie rock and folk rock. 

The members of Mighty Oaks wrote, recorded, produced and self-released their 2011 self-titled, debut EP. Recorded in Donzelli’s apartment, the EP eventually amassed several hundred thousand hits on SoundCloud.  Building upon a growing profile, the trio self-released their first studio recorded EP, 2012’s Just One Day, which was distributed by Rough Trade Records. The band supported the EP with a busy touring schedule that included — a European tour, opening for Shout Out Louds; opening for Kings of Leon at the Waldbuhne in Berlin; and joining acts like CHVRCHES on Intro Magazine’s “Introducing!” tour of Germany. By the all of 2013, Mighty Oaks played a sold-out, headlining tour of Switzerland, Austria and Germany. 

Early 2014 saw the release of their full-length debut Howl through Universal Records in Europe. The album was a critical and commercial success with the album peaking at #10 on the German and Swiss charts. The album also landed on the charts of several other countries. Additionally, several singles off the album charted. The band also made the rounds across the international festival circuit, playing sets at Melt! Festival, Montreux Jazz Festival, Latitude Festival, Way Out West Festival, Exit Festival and Valkhof Festival. 

The band closed out 2014 with  the release of the Brother EP in the States, as well as a headlining European tour. And by the beginning of 2015, Howl was released in the States. The members of Mighty Oaks went on to play SXSW — and then followed that up with a Stateside tour with Milky Chance. 

After spending almost two years of uninterrupted touring, the members of the band took the bulk of 2016 off, with each individual member temporarily returning to their home countries. They eventually reconvened at Ryan Hadlock’s Washington State-based studio to write and record their sophomore album, 2017’s Dreamers. The band supported Dreamers with a sold-out European tour during that spring, a fall North American tour and a follow-up, sold-out winter European tour. Interestingly, just before their winter European tour, the band self-released the four song Storm EP. 

2018 was rather busy for the band: that summer, they played a number of major European festivals including Hurricane Festival, Southside Festival, Traumzeit Festival, Zermatt Unplugged and Milky Chance and Friends Open Air. They closed out the year by returning to the studio to write and record their third full-length album, All Things Go, which is slated for a February 2, 2020 release through BMG. 

Last year saw the release of two album singles — album title track “All Things Go” and “Forget Tomorrow,” and building up buzz for the album, the band’s third and latest single is the contemplative  “Lost Again.” Centered around gently strummed acoustic guitar, swirling and atmospheric electronics, Hooper’s plaintive vocal delivery and a gorgeous bit of harmonizing that recalls Crosby Stills and Nash, the song focuses on a narrator, desperate to turn back back the clock a bit and iron out the wrinkles, mistakes and bad decisions he made when he was younger. “If I had known then, what I know now,” the song’s narrator seems to say in a moment of reflection. At the same time, the song and its narrator seem to acknowledge that he wouldn’t be the person he is right now, if it wasn’t for those mistakes and missteps. Things happen for a reason. And hopefully you learn from it and move forward with some wisdom. 

The recently released video by Andrew Saunderson and no.odds features the members of Mighty Oaks performing the song, but superimposed over them are images of their past — mainly places they’ve seen and been, along with some beautiful shots of nature, which help create a sense of time flashing by. It’s as contemplative as the song while adding a hazy sense of nostalgia to the proceedings. 

New Audio: JOVM Mainstays The Wood Brothers Release a Bittersweet Meditation on Mortality

Over the better part of the past year, I’ve written quite a bit about the acclaimed folk/roots/Americana act and JOVM mainstays The Wood Brothers. And as you may recall, the act which is comprised of  Boulder, CO-born and currently Nashville-based siblings Chris Wood (upright bass, electric bass, vocals) and Oliver Wood (acoustic guitar, electric guitar, vocals), and multi-instrumentalist Jano Rix, can trace some of the of origins of the act and their musical careers to when Chris and Oliver were children: Their father, a molecular biologist, frequently performed old folk and roots music songs at family gatherings and campfires and their mother, a poet, instilled a passion for storytelling and turn of phrase.  As children and teens, they bonded over a mutual love of bluesmen like Jimmy Reed and Lightinn’ Hopkins; however, as they got older, their musical and professional paths would wildly diverge.

When they were young men, Oliver Wood relocated to Atlanta, where he picked up gigs in playing guitar in a number of local cover bands before landing a spot in Tinsley Ellis‘ backing band. At Ellis’ behest Oliver Wood began to sing — and shortly after that, he founded King Johnson, a hard-touring band that released six albums of blues-tinged R&B, funk and country over the next 12 years of his life. Meanwhile, Chris Wood studied jazz bass at the New England Conservatory of Music, and upon graduation relocated to New York where he co-founded the critically applauded Medeski Martin & Wood (MMW), an act that quickly became one of the stalwarts of the ’90s downtown New York jazz and experimental music scenes.

After pursuing separate and rather disparate musical careers for close to two decades, Oliver’s King Johnson and Chris’ Martin Medeski and Wood played on the same bill at a North Carolina show. During Martin Medeski and Wood’s set, Oliver sat in with his brother’s band. And as the story goes, the brothers instantly realized that they needed to be playing music together. Shortly after that set, the brothers recorded a batch of Oliver’s songs, which channeled the shared musical heroes of their youth while showcasing their own individual strengths — Oliver’s songwriting and Chris’ forward-thinking, adventurous musicianship. An early batch of demos landed The Wood Brothers a deal with Blue Note Records, who released their 2006 John Medeski-produced debut, Ways Not To Lose, a critically applauded effort that was Amazon.com’s editors’ number 1 pick for folk and made NPR’s “Overlooked 11” list.

Building upon a buzz-worthy profile, the act released 2008’s Loaded and 2009’s covers EP, Up Above My Head before moving on to Nashville’s Southern Ground Artists, who released 2011’s Smoke Ring Halo, 2012’s Live Volume One: Sky High and Live Volume Two: Nail and Tooth and 2013’s Buddy Miller-produced The Muse. Shortly after the release of The Muse, the members of the trio relocated to Nashville, marking the first time that Chris and Oliver Wood have lived in the same city in several decades. 2015’s Paradise was the first album in which all three members of the band shared songwriting credits, as they were all in the same city to work on and refine material. They followed that up with another live album, 2017’s Live at the Barn.

Last year, I caught the acclaimed trio at The Vic Theatre in Chicago, during their tour to support their sixth, full-length album, the self-produced and recorded One Drop of Truth. And although at the time, I wasn’t familiar with them before the set, they proved their reputation for being one of the best touring bands in contemporary music to me during that set. Now, as you may recall, earlier this year, the acclaimed Nashville-based trio released another live album, Live at the Fillmore, which was recorded over the course of a two night stand at San Francisco’s historic music venue. The album further cemented their long-held reputation for live shows centered around performances that defy easy categorization — their delivery seems to lives at the intersection of arena rock energy and small theater intimacy, all while blurring the lines between folk, rock, blues, soul, funk and Americana. In between a busy touring schedule, the trio found the time to write and record the highly-anticipated follow-up to One Drop of Truth, Kingdom In My Mind.

Throughout the band’s history together, the trio’s creative process would generally begin with the band writing songs before they got to the studio and then deliberately set out to record them. However, Kingdom In My Mind found the band beginning the process of writing and recording without initially realizing it: When they started, they all thought they were just simply breaking in and test driving their new Nashville recording studio/rehearsal space by tracking a series of extended, instrumental jam sessions. 

“If we had known we were making a record, we probably would have been too self-conscious to play what we played,” Chris Wood reflects on the writing and recording process of their forthcoming album. “At the time, we just thought we were jamming to break in our new studio, so we felt free to explore all these different ways of playing together without worrying about form or structure. It was liberating.”

“We weren’t performing songs,” Oliver adds. “We were just improvising and letting the music dictate everything. Somebody would start playing, and then we’d all jump into the groove with them and see where it went. Normally when recording, you’re thinking about your parts and your performances, but with these sessions, we were just reacting to each other and having fun in the moment.”

After listening to their jams, the members of the band realized that they captured something undeniably alive and uninhibited. Much like a sculptor, Chris Wood took those sprawling improvised recordings and began to carefully chisel out verses, choruses, bridges and solos until distinctive songs began to take shape. From there, the band divvied up the material that spoke to them most and began writing lyrics both separately and together.

Thematically the album is an extensive meditation and reckoning with circumstance, mortality and human nature centered around vivid, almost novelistic character studies and unflinching self-examination. The material’s cast of characters all attempt to find strength and solace in accepting what lies beyond our limited control, ultimately pondering how we find contentment and peace in a confusing, chaotic and frightening world. “We all have these little kingdoms inside of our minds,” the band’s Chris Wood says in press notes.  “And without really planning it out, the songs on this album all ended up exploring that idea in some way or another. They look at the ways we deal with our dreams and our regrets and our fears and our loves. They look at the stories we tell ourselves and the ways we balance the darkness and the light.”

But while the lyrics dig into deep philosophical territory, the arrangements draw from a broad sonic and stylistic spectrum. Earlier this year, I wrote about the slow-burning, Dr. John/New Orleans-like jazz ballad “Alabaster,” a song centered around an empathetic portrait of a woman, who has broken free of her old life and relocated far away for a much-needed fresh start. And while featuring an incredibly novelistic attention to detail, the song manages to feel improvised yet simultaneously crafted. Kingdom In My Mind‘s second single was the slow-burning country blues “Cry Over Nothing,” a meditation on the ego, perspective and fate told with a playfully fatalistic sensibility. Sometimes, even the sky is against you — and there ain’t a thing you can do about it. 

The album’s third and latest single “Little Bit Sweet” interestingly enough features soTme of the album’s first bit of improvised instrumentation from those early jam sessions. Centered around a bouncy bass line and shimmering guitars, the song is part old-timey lament and part world-weary sigh focusing on mortality, the passing of time and getting older, and the impermanent nature of all things. And yet through the tears and heartache, there’s a sense of acceptance and awe of the things that the song’s narrator can’t understand. It just is — and sometimes it’s wonderful because of that. 

Singer/songwriter and guitarist Laura Weinbach is the Hollywood Hills, Los Angeles-born daughter of a horror filmmaker and the sister of a cult comedian. As a child Weinbach grew up in a household and community that proudly embraced eccentricity: her next door neighbors were circus contortionists with emus and fang-toothed monkeys as pets — and some of her favorite childhood activities included snail hunting and spying on celebrity neighbors like Slash, Ice-T and Mark Linn-Baker, the guy who played Larry on Perfect Strangers. Unsurprisingly, Weinbach’s upbringing manages to be present throughout her work in Foxtails Brigade — from the lyrical imagery, to the hand-drawn artwork and the sophomoric Insstagram cartoons she posts.

Since their formation, the project has released three full-length albums — 2011’s full-length debut The Bread and the Bait, released through Antenna Farm Records; 2012’s sophomore effort Time Is Passed, released through DIY Records; and 2016’s self-titled album released through OIM Records. Their previously released material was centered by hazy chamber folk melodies and spectral strings with songs reaching inward – but interestingly, Foxtails Brigade’s Jeff Saltzman-produced third album found the Bay Area-based act completely reinventing their sound. The material on that album featured peculiar percussion and synths paired with Weinbach’s guitar work with the band’s sound exploding outward in all directions. Additionally, the band focuses on crafting material with a directness and clarity without sacrificing the intricacy of their previously released work.

Foxtails Brigade support the release of their third album with touring across the Pacific Northwest, Southern California, the Midwest and South, as well as a tours opening for Emily Jane White across the East Coast, France and the rest of the European Union. Live, the Bay Area-based act’s live show is a meshing of junkyard beats, warped orchestral sonics, Weinbach’s gorgeous vocals and classically trained guitar work paired with a rotating cast of collaborators, who have played with Bright Eyes, Van Dyke Parks and John Cale.

According the band’s website, they’re currently working on their fourth album but in the meantime, Foxtails Brigade released a split 7 inch single with the Colorado-based act Kramies. The Bay Area-based act’s contribution to that split 7 inch is the contemplative “On The Other Side.” Centered around a shimmering and atmospheric arrangement of looping, classically-inspired guitar, twinkling keys and Weinbach’s gorgeous vocals, the song may be the most straightforward folk song they’ve released in some time — but while evoking the wintry chill of a Northeastern winter night.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The People Versus is an Oxford, UK-based chamber pop quintet — currently comprised of Alice, Benedict, Danny, Jack and Sean — that can trace its origins to a spontaneously combination of each of its members previous collaborations and projects. Essentially, the project features four singer/songwriters and former lead singers, whose combined vocals and instrumental parts form a perfect vehicle for their lead singer, Alice’s vocals.

Interestingly, while centered on narrative songwriting, the band’s material thematically focuses on love, loss and dreams while drawing from Greek myths and Shakespeare. The up-and-coming British act’s latest single, the hauntingly gorgeous “Ground Opening” features Alice’s beguiling vocals, a shimmering arrangement of acoustic guitar, soaring strings,  a stunning multi-part harmony and a rousing hook that gives the song a cinematic air. To my ears, their latest single reminds me quite a bit of The Cranberries‘ smash hit “Linger” but with a folksy yet classical leaning. As the band explains, the song is a re-telling of the ancient Greek myth of Hades and Persephone, which explains the turn of the seasons but while touching upon love and power dynamics in romantic relationships.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Audio: The Wood Brothers Release a Bluesy Meditation on the Ego and Perspective

The acclaimed folk/roots/Americana act The Wood Brothers, comprised of  Boulder, CO-born siblings Chris Wood (upright bass, electric bass, vocals) and Oliver Wood (acoustic guitar, electric guitar, vocals), and multi-instrumentalist Jano Rix, can trace some of the of origins of the act and their musical careers to when Chris and Oliver were children: Their father, a molecular biologist, frequently performed old folk and roots music songs at family gatherings and campfires and their mother, a poet, instilled a passion for storytelling and turn of phrase.  As children and teens, they bonded over a mutual love of bluesmen like Jimmy Reed and Lightinn’ Hopkins; however, as they got older, their musical and professional paths would wildly diverge.

When they were young men, Oliver Wood relocated to Atlanta, where he picked up gigs in playing guitar in a number of local cover bands before landing a spot in Tinsley Ellis‘ backing band. At Ellis’ behest Oliver Wood began to sing — and shortly after that, he founded King Johnson, a hard-touring band that released six albums of blues-tinged R&B, funk and country over the next 12 years of his life. Meanwhile, Chris Wood studied jazz bass at the New England Conservatory of Music, and upon graduation relocated to New York where in the early 90s he co-founded the critically applauded Medeski Martin & Wood (MMW), an act that quickly became one of the stalwarts of the 90s downtown New York jazz and experimental music scenes.

After pursuing separate and rather disparate musical careers for close to two decades, Oliver’s King Johnson and Chris’ Martin Medeski and Wood played on the same bill at a North Carolina show. During Martin Medeski and Wood’s set, Oliver sat in with his brother’s band. And as the story goes, the brothers instantly realized that they needed to be playing music together.

Shortly after that set, the brothers recorded a batch of Oliver’s songs, which channeled the shared musical heroes of their youth while showcasing their own individual strengths — Oliver’s songwriting and Chris’ forward-thinking, adventurous musicianship. An early batch of demos landed The Wood Brothers a deal with Blue Note Records, who released their 2006 John Medeski-produced debut, Ways Not To Lose, a critically applauded effort that was Amazon.com’s editors’ number 1 pick for folk and made NPR’s “Overlooked 11” list.

Building upon a buzz-worthy profile, the act released 2008’s Loaded and 2009’s covers EP, Up Above My Head before moving on to Nashville’s Southern Ground Artists, who released 2011’s Smoke Ring Halo, 2012’s Live Volume One: Sky High and Live Volume Two: Nail and Tooth and 2013’s Buddy Miller-produced The Muse. Shortly after the release of The Muse, the members of the trio relocated to Nashville, marking the first time that Chris and Oliver Wood have lived in the same city in several decades.2015’s Paradise was the first album in which all three members of the band shared songwriting credits, as they were all in the same city to work on and refine material. They followed that up with another live album, 2017’s Live at the Barn.

Last year, I caught the acclaimed trio at The Vic Theatre in Chicago, during their tour to support their sixth, full-length album, the self-produced and recorded One Drop of Truth. And although at the time, I wasn’t familiar with them before the set, they proved their reputation for being one of the best touring bands in contemporary music to me during that set. Now, as you may recall, earlier this year, the acclaimed Nashville-based trio released another live album, Live at the Fillmore, which was recorded over the course of a two night stand at San Francisco’s historic music venue. The album further cements their long-held reputation for live shows centered around performances that defy easy categorization — their delivery lives at the intersection of arena rock energy and small theater intimacy, all while blurring the  lines between folk, rock, blues, soul, funk and Americana. In between a busy touring schedule, the trio found the time to write and record the highly-anticipated follow-up to One Drop of Truth, Kingdom In My Mind.

Throughout the band’s previously recored material, the trio would write a batch of songs and then deliberately set out to record them. However, Kingdom In My Mind found the band beginning the process of writing and recording without initially realizing it. When they started out, they all thought they were simply breaking in and test driving their new Nashville recording studio/rehearsal space by tracking a series of extended instrumental jam sessions.

“If we had known we were making a record, we probably would have been too self-conscious to play what we played,” Chris Wood reflects on the writing and recording process of their forthcoming album. “At the time, we just thought we were jamming to break in our new studio, so we felt free to explore all these different ways of playing together without worrying about form or structure. It was liberating.”

“We weren’t performing songs,” Oliver adds. “We were just improvising and letting the music dictate everything. Somebody would start playing, and then we’d all jump into the groove with them and see where it went. Normally when recording, you’re thinking about your parts and your performances, but with these sessions, we were just reacting to each other and having fun in the moment.”

After listening to their jams, the members of the band realized that they captured something undeniably alive and uninhibited. Much like a sculptor, Chris Wood took those sprawling improvised recordings and began to carefully chisel out verses, choruses, bridges and solos until distinctive songs began to take shape. From there, the band divvied up the material that spoke to them most and began writing lyrics both separately and together.

Thematically the album is an extensive meditation and reckoning with circumstance, mortality and human nature. The material, which is centered around vivid character studies and unflinching self-examination attempts to find strength and solace in accepting what lies beyond our control — and ponders how we find contentment in a confusing, chaotic and frightening world. “We all have these little kingdoms inside of our minds,” the band’s Chris Wood says in press notes.  “And without really planning it out, the songs on this album all ended up exploring that idea in some way or another. They look at the ways we deal with our dreams and our regrets and our fears and our loves. They look at the stories we tell ourselves and the ways we balance the darkness and the light.”

But while the lyrics dig into deep philosophical territory, the arrangements draw from a broad sonic and stylistic spectrum. Last month, I wrote about the slow-burning, Dr. John/New Orleans-like jazz ballad “Alabaster,” a song centered around an empathetic portrait of a woman, who has broken free of her old life and relocated far away for a much-needed fresh start. And while featuring an incredibly novelistic attention to detail, the song manages to feel improvised and unhurried yet simultaneously crafted. Kingdom In My Mind’s latest single is the slow-burning country blues “Cry Over Nothing,” a song that finds the trio meditating on the ego, perspective and fate with a playfully fatalistic sensibility. Much like its immediate predecessor, the song reveals the trio’s exceptional versatility while reminding the listener that the trio can essentially play anything with verve and soulfulness. 

“At the same time we were making this album, we were looking for some sort of philanthropic organization we could support with our music,”  Oliver Wood explains, “and in a bit of synchronicity, we came across this great group called Thistle Farms, which was based just down the street from our studio. Their goal is to help women who have been victims of prostitution or addiction to get off the street and into safe housing where they can participate in therapy and job training. The work they were doing was so inspiring and it felt like such a fit with the kind of album we were writing that we teamed up with them to donate a portion of ticket sales from all our shows. It’s our way of using what we’ve got to do whatever good we can in the world.”

Flora Hibberd is a rapidly rising London-born, Paris-based singer/songwriter — and with the release of “The Absentee” and “In Violence” off her recently released J.C. Wright–produced debut EP, The Absentee, the London-born, Paris-based singer/songwriter, who cites Nick Cave, Joan Baez and Jacques Brel among others, has already had her early work described as “intelligent and measured . . ” and her songs “deeply rooted in the timeless lyricism of Dylan and Cohen.”

Interestingly, as Hibberd says in press notes. “‘The songs of this EP emerged over months and years, and were refined in bars, apartments and on the streets. ‘The Absentee’ was written fifty metres below the English Channel, three years ago. ‘In Violence’ was written in 2017 in the garden of the Musée Rodin. Their influences are too many to name; random encounters with poetry, art, music and language in all its forms have bled into my writing in ways of which I am often unaware. They are about real people and real events. But they are also about impossible people, and impossible events. My hope is that they find you here, on the blurred edge between reality and dreams, in the half-awake place where the familiar merges with the unknown.”

“As Long as There Is Night,” the EP’s latest single is a gorgeous song centered around a spectral arrangement of shimmering and soaring strings, strummed acoustic guitar and Hibberd’s mesmerizing vocals. And while clearly drawing from a timeless folk tradition, “As Long as There Is Night” manages to simultaneously evoke a lingering and bittersweet fever dream and an aching longing for those things, places you can never get back.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Video: Rwandan Folk Act The Good Ones Latest is the Heartbreaking Lament of a Desperate Father

The Kigali, Rwanda-based folk act The Good Ones, which features core trio and founders  co-lead singer Janvier Hauvgimana, co-lead singer and primary songwriter Adrien Kazigira and Javan Mahoro can trace their origins back to the roughy 1978. The members of the band, who were children were taught music and how to play by Hauvgimana’s older brother. Tragically, Hauvgimana’s older brother, who was also blind, later died in the 1994 Rwandan genocide. The members of The Good Ones formed the band as part of the healing process after the genocide and interestingly enough, the band’s original trio featured individual members of each of Rwanda’s three tribes — Tutsi, Hutu and Abatwa — symbolically and metaphorically reuniting a country that had been split apart at its seams. But on a personal level, for each of the band’s founding members, the band was an active attempt to seek out “the good ones” after witnessing and enduring unthinkable horrors.

Most of the members of the band are small plot, subsistence farmers — with two of the band’s members living on family plots that  have been passed down through several generations. Because most Rwandans are very poor, instruments are very rare. Like countless musicians. who are poor and barely getting by, they find ways to be creative. Sometimes they may find and use a broken guitar. But in most cases, they’ll make their own instruments, sometimes incorporating their farm tools. 

Now, as you may recall, the Rwandan folk act’s forthcoming album Rwanda, You Should Be Loved is slated for a November 9, 2019 release through Anti- Records, and the album’s material can be traced from a batch of over 40 songs that the band’s Adrien Kazigira had originally written. Most of the material thematically centered around meditations on his 13-year-old daughter Marie Clare and the life-threatening tumor that has afflicted her left eye. Interestingly, the album was recorded live and without overdubs on Kazigira’s farm  — and the sessions were imbued with loss’ their longtime collaborator and producer Ian Brennan‘s mother died and a former bandmember and founding member had both died during the sessions.

While the album was recorded during a period of profound loss for the band and their producer, the album focuses on a variety of things in the bandmembers’ lives and experiences. Rwanda, You Are Loved’s first single “The Farmer” celebrates the critical role farmers play in society and to a national — but it’s also an aching lament, acknowledging the bitter irony that farmers often can’t feed their own families and are struggling to barely get by. Built around a sparse arrangement of strummed guitar, harmonized vocals, the song is a timeless one that has seemingly been sung by generations upon generations across the world — and in a variety of languages. The album’s second and latest single “Where Did You Go Wrong, My Love” is a heartbreaking song that’s one part aching lament, one part desperate plea, one part bittersweet reminiscence over the loss of innocence of a young one, as the song is about a father’s desperate attempt to rescue his daughter from going down a bad path in her life. And as a result, the song is imbued with the powerless fear that countless parents have felt about their children. Much like it’s predecessor, the song is centered around a gorgeous yet sparse arrangement: al looping and shimmering 12 bar blues-like guitar, galloping percussion and the interwoven harmonies between the band’s primary songwriter Kazigira and co-lead vocalist Havugiamana.

Sonically, the material may draw comparisons to bluegrass, country, Americana and acoustic, Mississippi Delta Blues but while coming from an older, primordial source. Countless artists consciously aim to create something timeless, the members of The Good Ones somehow manage to seemingly do so in an effortless, breezy fashion while talking about the plight of their fellow farmers, countrymen and working men. (The song features a guest appearance from Wilco’s Nels Cline.)

New Video: City and Colour’s Achingly Lonely Visual for “Astronaut”

Throughout the course of 2019, I’ve written quite a bit about the St. Catherines, Ontario, Canada-born singer/songwriter and guitarist, Dallas Green, the creative mastermind behind the acclaimed and commercially successful folk rock/alt country solo-recording City and Colour. Interestingly, Green may arguably be one of the most successful Canadian artists of his generation: he’s won 3 Juno Awards, including two Songwriter of the Year Awards — and in Canada he has 3 Double Platinum-certified albums, 1 Platinum-certified album and 1 Gold-certified album.

Now, as you may recall, Green’s sixth album, the Jacquire King-produced A Pill for Loneliness is slated for an October 4, 2019 release through the acclaimed Canadian singer/songwriter’s Dine Alone Records imprint, Still Records. The album’s first single “Astronaut,” which marks the first bit of new material from Green in over 4 years, and the track manages to be one part slow-burning, honky tonk ballad and one part towering and anthemic hook-driven Slowdive and The Verve shoegaze, centered around a lonely life on the road, far from friends, family and loved ones. “I always think of the relationships in my life that have been fractured because I ended up doing what I do for a living,” Green says of the new single. “I’m always gone, wandering around and singing songs. However, it weighs on my family and friends. I’m asking for ‘one more year.’ I left home at 21 to go play my guitar. It’s lonely, but it’s because I yearn to wander, I’m aware of how lucky I am.”

Directed by Maxxis, the recently released video stars City and Colour’s Green alone in an empty movie theater as space and aeronautical imagery is projected on the big screen — although briefly the astronaut becomes real. The video manages to evoke the aching loneliness at the core of the song: after all, what can be lonelier than an empty movie theater, with your thoughts, regrets and dreams? 

Green will be embarking on an extensive North American tour that will feature back-to-back nights in Nashville, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Boston and New York. One night in each of those cities will take place in a seated theater, featuring Green playing an intimate solo show with stripped down versions of songs across his catalog with Ben Rogers, the first artist to sign onto Green’s new label.  The second night will feature Green and his touring band playing in general admission rock and indie rock venues with Ruby Waters opening. You can check out the tour dates below.