As well as Insound’s latest free Vinyl News Mixtape, Noisetrade have put up four free brilliant label samplers from Anti Records, ATO, Frenchkiss and Nettwerk Music.
The Insound sampler includes within its 10 tracks, offerings from FIDLAR, Memory Tapes, Teen Mom, The Analog Girl, and The Joy Formidable.
The eight track Anti Records sampler features, amongst others, Calexico, Jason Lytle, The Coup and Sean Rowe.
The ATO sampler has tracks from many MM faves including Patterson Hood, Old Crow Medicine Show, Alabama Shakes, Alberta Cross and plenty more.
Frenchkiss are offering up 24 free tracks including Fidlar, The Guards, Fuck Buttons, Slow Animal, Tall Firs and plenty more.
Nettwerk Music’s offering includes Great Lake Swimmers, Family Of The Year, Young Liars, Current Swell and nine more.
Click here to get the Insound mix, but hurry it is only up for a limited time. Click here for the Anti Records sampler. Click here for the ATO sampler. Click here for the Frenchkiss sampler and click here for the Nettwerk music sampler.
Alternatively dip your toe in the water with a sample of our favourites from each one.
No Direction Home Festival || Welbeck Abbey, Nottinghamshire || 8-10 June 2012
The omens were not good for the inaugural No Direction Home music festival, setting out in heavy rain that only got heavier as the traffic got slower the further north I went. However, despite the slate grey skies and constant brake lights of the M1, a journey of over 5 hours was rewarded on arrival by a break in the weather than unbelievably lasted for the whole three days.
No Direction Home is a new “little brother” venture from those behind the End of the Road Festival (those who read MM even semi-regularly will know what a fantastic event that is) and so felt very familiar from the moment we set foot in the main arena. Familiar food stalls, the Rough Trade tent, the book tent, the cinema tent and more had all been transplanted wholesale to just south of Sheffield. Likewise the music line-up was the same mix as the End of the Road – predominantly Americana, folk (both freak and traditional), country, indie and a smattering of some ultra-heavy psychedelic rock over two main stages and a small, intimate café stage by the lake.
Indeed many of the performers (perhaps slightly too many) were equally familiar as End of the Road veterans: The Low Anthem, Gruff Rhys, Richard Hawley, Django Django, Other Lives, Dirty Three, The Unthanks.
In fact our opening set came from another EotR alumni, Lanterns on the Lake, their heavy, ethereal, ambient tinged folk a perfect atmospheric companion to the sullen, overcast skies and heavy clouds, whilst in the somewhat optimistically named Electric Dust Bowl Big Top, Wet Nuns flailed away with a punishing set of hardcore riffing and gravelly vocals – furiously competing with the elements outside.
It took Django Django to brighten the mood; their good-natured approach and twangy electro-krautrock pop lifting collective spirits. A huge improvement on when we saw them at EotR in 2010, now they ooze confidence and are happy to let the songs from their excellent debut album stand up for themselves; Life’s A Beach, Waveforms, Skies Over Cairo, Wor and standout single Default all being highlights.
Finally as the night set in fully, The Low Anthem took the stage as the night’s main attraction. As they did at the EotR, they soon captured and then captivated the audience with their haunting and melancholic brand of folk holding everyone rapt as they performed one stunning song after another. There was just time to catch a set from Canadian electro-rockers Austra to finish the night – and a perfect illustration of the eclectic reach of the festival. Not something we are likely to listen to at home, but live an astonishingly powerful and captivating spectacle with three front women dynamically weaving repetitive musical patterns in a manner akin to Siouxsie Sioux fronting Can.
Having gone to bed chanting the Woodstock refrain of “No rain, no rain” to myself I was rewarded on Saturday both with a dry start and a sweetly enchanting set of pastoral folk from Tiny Ruins, fresh from their recent tour support with the Handsome Family. Highlight being the surreal, but true tale of the Brazilian priest Fr. Carli who tried to fly using 1,000 helium balloons…some pieces of him were never recovered. Next up was quirky singer-songwriter Liz Green who sadly failed to sparkle as we’d hoped, and seemed a little daunted by the gravitas of the main stage, so it was back to the big top for Tyne & Wear’s Cornshed Sisters whose traditional finger-in-the-ear choral folk songs were much appreciated and provided a calming, bewitching effect over the audience.
Emerging, blinking and slightly dazed for Euros Childs it took a few songs for me to realise what an thoroughly excellent songwriter he is (for that genuinely is his real name), and for the last twenty years or or so he has been performing his own brand of slightly unhinged psych-pop laced with black humour and waspish wit. With Cavendish Hall he provided one of the songs of the weekend and one of those lovely ‘discovery’ moments of a new artist you know you’re going to enjoy for a long, long time to come.
Next up was Mrs Mackerel’s fave and one of the most individual performers of the weekend in anti-pop, anti-folk, anti-conventionalist Beth Jeans Houghton with her Hooves of Destiny. Opening with the galloping, infectious Atlas and running through many of the highlights of their excellent debut Yours Truly, Cellophane Nose (Dodecahedron, The Barely Skinny Tree, Lilliput, Harlequin and Sweet Tooth Bird) as well as non-album cuts like the barber-shop drenched harmonies of Honeycomb, the irreverent Shampoo (“looks like cum, smells like flowers, I use shampoo in the shower“) and Your Holes, it was the most delightfully unique set of the weekend and demonstrates that the independent spirit of indie pop is alive and well in BJH’s hands.
Other Lives followed with a set of wonderfully melodramatic orchestral folk rock that somehow reminded me of The Waterboys crossed with Radiohead and was every bit as good as that combination sounds ridiculous. Gruff Rhys was exactly as you would have expected – unconventional and predictably unpredictable, expertly mixing the glam rock stomp of In A House With No Mirrors with the gently psych-whimsy of Candylion and the melancholic pop of Lonesome Words. There was no such variety with the swirling headfuck of Moon Duo’s powerfully propulsive heavy-psych that suffered slightly from a muddy sound and their seeming insistence for playing in complete darkness on stage. They were followed by the equally pulverising Pyramids whose crunchy guitar riffs, slashing rhythms and howled vocals played out like an adrenalin fuelled Hawkwind on speed. Headlining the main stage was arch whistler Andrew Bird and despite his over-fussiness (no pictures, no family members, constant irritated gesturing to the soundman) he pleased the crowd with a set of winsome folk and some quite impressive violin manoeuvres.
The sun shone. Some of the thick mud dried up, a bit, and the wonderfully uncompromising Trembling Bells kicked off the day with a set of traditional British folk underpinned with the occasional ferocious onslaught of psychedelic pyrotechnics that was as bruising as it was soothing. The much-admired Cold Specks brought authentically sorrowful tales of the delta flavoured with a soulful taste of the Mississippi to the main stage, so authentic in fact you almost expected to see a paddle steamer on the adjacent lake. They were followed by a fabulously entertaining set of quirky and surreal indie rock from The Wave Pictures and back inside the big top local boys The Crookes charged up the crowd with a fizzing, high energy set of guitar pop. By now the crowd was gathering to pay homage to folk legend Martin Carthy who introduced each song with a conversational air and as though he had all the time in the world. Exuding bonhomie, he ran through a selection of traditional and classic folk songs and demonstrated why he is universally revered by fellow musicians as one of the best acoustic guitarists around. A pleasure to watch.
And on the back of that came the unexpected highlight of the weekend. While ex-Fleet Foxes drummer Joshua Tillman, aka Father John Misty’s album Fear Fun has gradually been growing on me over the past few weeks, to hear him play it live made it obvious what an outstanding set of songs they are. Just one man and his guitar, it was dark night of the soul stuff, visceral, bawdy, and confrontational. In between he was ironic, self-deprecating and slightly sarcastic and it quickly became one of those rare occasions where the audience become transfixed by what is being placed before them. Fun Times In Babylon, Only Son Of The Ladies’ Man, Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings, Nancy From Now On, Writing A Novel – each song greeted with more rapture than the last and as he finished with the stunning Now I’m Learning To Love The War and Every Man Needs A Companion the entire tent breathed a collective sigh and then erupted. It was worth the ticket price on its own.
Back outside Slow Club entertained with their jolly mix of folk and indie pop, and the sweet voices of The Unthanks accompanied by the Brighouse and Rastrick Band provided the perfect accompaniment to the setting sun over the lake. And finally, despite a broken leg (which precipitated a much appreciated parody of the famed Nirvana-at-Reading style entrance in a wheelchair), local hero Richard Hawley delivered a festival closing set perfectly in keeping with the mood. His velveteen vocals cloaking the bitter sting and melancholy of his lyrics while the 60s tinged psychedelic guitar of his latest album Standing At The Sky’s Edge weaved intricate patterns in the cool night air.
And so it was time to fight the pop-up tent and go home, one amongst 3,000 satisfied punters. No Direction Home succeeded in keeping the intimacy that makes The End of the Road so special and had many memorable performances that will linger long in the memory. Tickets are already on sale for next year (click here) and we’re hoping with a year under their belt, they will go with a slightly more original and bolder line-up. If so, we will be there again!
As you read this I will probably still be speeding northwards through the torrential rain on the M1 heading for Sherwood Forest and the inaugural No Direction Home music festival. Having spent the last two years happily enjoying the fantastic End of the Road festival, my plans were scuppered for a hat-trick by a sneaky move in dates making it clash with our first overseas family holiday in years to the beaches of Spain.
Thankfully, the same folk are behind this one so despite the rotten weather forecast, hopes are high for another fantastic event and judging by the line-up, we should be in for a treat. Friday night will be headlined by The Low Anthem, Saturday by Andrew Bird and Sunday by Richard Hawley. In between times we will have the pleasure of sets from Beth Jeans Houghton & The Hooves of Destiny, Other Lives, Moon Duo, Lanterns On The Lake, The Wave Pictures, Wet Nuns, Father John Misty, Mikal Cronin and Spectrals. Best of all though will be discovering those artists and bands that we’ve not come across before and who turn out to be jaw-droppingly good.
Here is a free mix just to give you a taste of what we’ll be enjoying over the weekend, or if you fancy snapping up one of the last few tickets you can get one here.
So, as the New Year approaches, here are our favourite albums of 2011 for your consideration. Feel free to dispute, argue, or otherwise put us right because, if nothing else, music is as about as subjective topic as it is possible to get. Some of these may not be the “best” albums of the year as far as the critics are concerned, but that matters not, as they were the ones we enjoyed listening to most – give them a try, you might feel the same.
Scottish Kate is a great friend of this blog and has often offered her (sometimes pithy) opinions on the world of music – and very good taste she has too.
She also runs the always excellent (sometimes pithy), and often provocative blog A Burdz Eye View for all things Scottish (of course), political and musical. Here are her aural selections for 2011.
The Burd’s Best Songs of 2011
Well it doesn’t get any easier. Though given that all my old schticks are in here aplenty – drums, noise, shoegaze, jingly jangly guitars, quirkiness, blues and reverb – it really should be a doddle. This girl is forever stuck in her groove and that’s just the way I like it.
10. Cashier No9 - When Jackie Shone
Gosh, why do I like this? It’s just got that whole throbbing bass line thing I like. Layers of sound. Odd vocals. And drums. Of course. Like it? Love it. The louder the better.
9. Other Lives – For 12
Nearly my choon of the year. Deceptively simple, soaring, swooping and positively swoonsome.
Download Other Lives – For 12 mp3 (from Tamer Animals)
8. Josh Schroeder and Meredith Adelaide - Where Are You
It could so easily have been So it Goes, for both choons have been on a near constant loop at various times this year. But seeing as I have to choose – and I must, I cannot have the ignominy of a twelve instead of a ten two years in a row – then this one wins out. Not for nothing my Twitter bio suggests I’m not nearly as scary as I pretend to be.
7. Secret Colours – Faust
A late contender but a worthy one. This choon is the musical equivalent of a three course meal and therefore ticks all my bluesy-rock boxes. So long as you like your meat and potatoes with no veg.
See? Stomping, strummy, just a little shoogly and I’m sold.
5. We were promised Jetpacks – Medicine
Ye cannae beat a wee jangly Scottish band, especially one that throws everything but the kitchen sink into their music. It should be a mess but it so isn’t. After a difficult year out, with this track they exploded back onto the music scene and it was like they’d never been away.
4. Slow Club – Beginners
A knickerbocker glory offering of shoegaze. With a big dollop of retro on the side and some reverb sprinklings up top for good measure. Dreamy.
Boy Wonder’s favourite moshing/air guitar choon of the year. We have pogo-ed round the sitting room to this. Oh yes. For those who don’t know, he’s the eight year old, supposedly I’m the responsible adult.
2. William Elliott Whitmore – Field Song
The man with the voice that sends shivers down my spine is at the peak of his powers. Occasionally I have to lie in a darkened room to listen to this album – all the better to wallow y’see. The title track is truly a thing of beauty.
1. The Low Anthem – Matter of Time
They made it into 2009 and 2010’s list and here they are again. The grandmasters of less is more, of making a symphony out of a three minute track.
Favourite cover of the year
Barry-Sean and I share some bizarre commonalities. There are Killie fans in his family too, and it would appear, the influence of Buddy Holly on our musical heritage. The standout cover version for me this year? Patti Smith doing Words of Love and making it all her own.
Favourite discoveries of the year
Actually, this was a rediscovery. In reprising the career of the late, great Jackie Leven, I found myself falling in love with Doll by Doll all over again. Gypsy Blood is a great album, and only recently recognised as a modern rock masterpiece. Aye but it’s the punkish tendencies that make it so.
Diddy – Dirty Money Coming Home
Yes really. The year I discovered what makes the young folk tick. This far though and no further.
Close but no Cigar
O’Death – Bugs
This is a beautifully meaningful song on so many levels. Especially when you know the back story.
Here are a few more videos that we’ve enjoyed recently.
First up is a welcome return for Goldheart Assembly and a song called Linnaeus that comes from their second album due out in spring next year.
Also keeping it pretty mellow is Kathleen Edwards with the video for her forthcoming single, Change The Sheets.
The Inspired And The Sleep offer up some sunburnt lo-fi pop in the shape of While We’re Young.
By contrast, Does Anybody Care About Us? is the brand new single from The King Blues, taken from their critically acclaimed 2011 album, Punk & Poetry. A clear statement of intent as always, and shot on a frosty Manchester morning, the band invited fans to become a part of the video, playing the subjects that are uncompromisingly thrown on to a pile of those left behind by recent heavy-handed coalition government policy.
Lost is a dreamy, psychedelic, dark shoegaze track from Depth & Current’s self-titled debut full-length. The video was captured by lead singer Chris Harris and his wife, Krystal Bilon, on a recent trip to Galapagos and features footage of beautiful fish, penguins, sea lions, and sea turtles.
We posted quite recently about Little Comets and this is an intimate, live version of Worry, the title track of their forthcoming EP, which is out today.
Similarly we posted about New York City farm band 2/3 Goat recently as well. This is the video for Stream Of Conscience which directly address their opposition to mountaintop removal coal mining, a cause close to their hearts.
The Slants mix 80s influenced synth-pop with the swagger and attitude of 70s punk to good effect. This is the video for You Make Me Alive, which comes from the bands second album, Pageantry.
Last week we postedWaters cover of Nirvana’sStay Away and this is their video for Back To You from this year’s debut Out In The Light.
The piano led Black Tables is probably our favourite track from Other Lives self titled album released in 2009. This new independently made video by Harrison Sanborn really captures the essence of the song.
And finally Hey Geronimo’s catchy indie rock has notched up more than 650,000 hits for their video Why Don’t We Do Something? featuring iPhone games reproduced in ‘real life’ and is also nominated for Aussie Channel V’s Ripe Clip Of The Week. If you like it head over to their Facebook page here and click like and give them a chance of winning.
Today Barry-Sean and I head off, pop up tents in tow, to the marvellous End of the Road festival in lovely Dorset. Once again sold out, last year’s inaugural trip turned into the best festival visit we’ve ever had, and we’re looking forward to more of the same over the next few days. Even the weather forecast is good!
Once again we have a huge number of superb bands scheduled to play and to follow our free Truck Festival Mix (RiP) and our Wilderness Festival Mix, here’s the third and final instalment – our free End of the Road Festival Mix. Enjoy.
And to round things off we have the first track from An Horse’s forthcoming album Walls titled Trains And Tracks, some brilliant garage punk from Mexico in the shape of Le Butcherettes and the brilliantly intense and menacing Ashley’s Song by Des Ark.
Other Lives hail from Stillwater, Oklahoma, a small town in the vast open spaces of the mid-West, and for the past sixteen months they have been composing and recording their second album, Tamer Animals. This will get a UK release on the 29th August via Play It Again Sam Records.
Underpinning Tamer Animals’ rich palette of sounds is a native dust bowl austerity: a desolate yet epic beauty that mirrors the sweeping landscape that surrounds them. Likewise, the galloping rhythms and Morricone-esque guitar of taster track For 12 conjures a feeling of uneasy expansiveness, a timeless aural sublimity of The Great Plains of the Old West, but without a saddle or spur in sight.
It is a seamless blend of sparse folk and chamber pop on the one hand and rich philharmonic, orchestral rock on the other – sometimes separate and sometimes beautifully interlinked, Tamer Animals is as haunting as it is epic and is certainly one to put on your ‘must have’ list.
Download Other Lives – For 12 mp3 (from Tamer Animals)