Sunday, September 25, 2011

In Memoriam of Sparklehorse

For the past 2 weeks I've been thinking about Sparklehorse, musical project of Mark Linkous who died back in March 2010. He's one of these artists that seem to influence so many others yet never got quite that high recognition he deserved. A sensitive soul who made a music layered with emotions, feelings and still at the heart of it a certain freshness and even naivety. To me, his music often shined with a lot of light and often triggered a smile.

Why am I thinking about Linkous at the moment? For 2 reasons: the first one is Twin Falls who's debut album "Slow Numb" was released mid September on CowshedMusic. This is another singer-songwriter hiding behind a band name, in this case West Country boy Luke Stidson.
I found a link to their soundcloud and their song "Monkey is a singe" was reminiscent  of Linkous' Sparklehorse. The rest of the album is more folky and alt country, you can download a free track on their website if you're curious.

twin falls - monkey is singe by Covert PR

Reason number 2 for going back to my Sparkelhorse CDs is a superb musical project called "A Winged Victory For The Sullen". Composed of Dustin O'Halloran and Adam Wiltzie, AWVFTS  marries classical music with some post-rock sounds and dusts the result with some ambiant to create absolutely stunning pieces of music. O'Halloran and Wiltzie were making music with linkous and created this hybrid project in his memory. Oh boy, it's sublime, moving, enthralling...when I told you he inspired many to create music.

Their self-titled album was released early September in Europe and if you like music that will keep you in its arms during the long winter night, this album is for you.

So thank you Mark Linkous, thank you for your 4 Sparklehorse albums, thank you for the collaboration with Fennesz, thank you for your Dark Night Of The Soul project with Dangermouse & Lynch and finally thank you for the legacy and still inspiring great people to make fabulous music.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Future This: When Pink Turns Gold

I very much remember the first time I heard "To Young To Love" back at the start of 2009 - it was  heavy and dark like a winter rainy day. It was dangerous and seductive, it was hypnotic and inebriated, short of breath and spinning. You bet I loved it. The band, who chose the rather silly name The Big Pink, was signed by 4AD, which added a stamp of quality.

They followed this first single with Velvet which was more in the same veine: layers of guitars in a shoegazing mood, deep noisy electronica and slightly naïve lyrics delivered in a passionately bored tone ( yes it's possible) This band was creating very sexy music that brought us deliciously back to the mid 90s but with a current edge.

The album A Brief History of Love was a tad disappointing. It's not easy to create 11 tracks of the same intensity as their first 2 singles, even for seasoned musicians like Milo Cordell and Robbie Furze. However it led us to believe that they have what it takes to take the next album a step further.
The gigs were urgent, sweaty, rock'n roll and mesmerizing, especially at the small AB club; the band was less convincing at festivals but that was to be expected despite their latest single Dominoes being played everywhere and transforming them into pop stars.

This week they're releasing a first full video for their new single out in November, it's called Stay Gold

They've kept the same 'winning recipe' used on Dominoes with the big cheering pop chorus, adding touches of Celtic undertones.  To me, it sounds weaker, even washed-up, it sounds like a band who are willing to be less creative to keep the masses happy. Good on them if it works I guess.

Maybe I'm too hard, it's still atmospheric and the lads have a right to play slightly lighter and easier music. Maybe I just liked them too much before.
The full 2nd album Future This will be out still on 4AD in January 2010 and whilst waiting for it I'll keep playing those first single of theirs, you know to keep the expectations high :-p

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Phoenix rises again

naaah not those Phoenix


             It took me about 6 months to start liking music again. Add an extra 2 or 3 months to want to write about it and share bits of music that excite, endear, surprise me... and we reach 9 months. hum.
Thing is, when you write for other people, it takes an extra energy or motivation to take to the computer again when you get back home late, when the last thing you want to see is a Facebook page or a blog.

             But, here we go again. I took my time, but I now feel ready to talk about music with you, to go back to gigs and buy records. First, it started with a tour of my old favourite records: singing along, dancing in the kitchen, remembering how I know some songs by heart because the lyrics are so beautifully crafted.   You know, falling back in  love again.

Then I kept that little Facebook page that's been fed with snippets of new music that I came across. That's how I stumbled upon First Aid Kit's cover of Fever Ray's "When I Grow Up". And then... gosh I wanted to write about it!


                Covers, a difficult art: stay too close to the original and you get labelled a copycat without a vision, appropriate the song to your own style too much and you lack respect to the original. There is a fine balance. Some artists are master at surprising us with covers that manage to stay true to the songs ' roots yet shed a new light on it.

                Back to First Aid Kit, they first came to the public awareness in 2008 with a cover of Fleet Foxes' "Tiger Mountain Peasant Song". The Söderbrg sisters followed this first good impression with a lovely album titled "The Big Black & The Blue" in 2010.
Folky harmonies and that naïve seriousness only encountered in teenage voices made them stand out with what was a very decent first effort.

In 2012, they will be back with a 2nd album "The Lion's Roar"; to whet our appetites and show us how much they've grown they've just served up this stunning cover.
I love the original: dark, moody and transporting us to the limit of danger. Yet this fragile cover, with all its differences stays true to the Fever Ray tracks whilst transposing it in a different world. Amazing feat by Klara and Joanna!

Let me know what your favourite covers are and we'll do a blogpost or two about the best ones...and don't forget to keep your ears peeled for The Lion's Roar

Welcome back!