Browsing All posts tagged under »blues«

Adrian May – The Comedy of Masculinity (poetry/ singer-songwriter)

August 27, 2015

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This is a review of a CD and a book, although there’s no particular reason to stop there. Adrian May is a performer, and although it says ‘songs and poems’ on the cover of his book, it’s pretty hard to draw a hard and fast distinction between them; poetry, music and performance in both modes seem all to be more or less equally important aspects of his creative practice. I’ve seen him perform, and I’ve made public some words on the subject, but the oddly arbitrary context to which I restrict myself here confines my attentions to the particular objects I have before me. Ordinarily this would be a CD, with a more or less …

Various Artists – Album Roundup

September 25, 2014

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Mark Harrison and his very capable band (whose members include the extremely talented duo Josienne Clarke and Ben Walker) play a curiously English take on American roots music. Their stylistic materials mine the cracks between country blues and old time country music, continuing a UK tradition that began with skiffle and was nourished by the likes of Ramblin’ Jack Elliot and the pop-jug-band sounds of Canned Heat. There’s a sense when listening to American performers in such styles, particularly the older ones, that they are singing from beneath a heavy encrustation of …

Various Artists – Album Roundup

November 3, 2013

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This entire album is performed straight to tape (or whatever recording medium was used) on a Roland MC-505 groovebox; Cory Peak chose to use a particular set of simple, rounded timbres that gives it a distinct 8-bit vibe, although the machine is considerably more sophisticated, and a much more powerful synthesiser, than the devices that gave rise to that genre. The point is a similar one, as well: in an era of expanding technological possibilities, where the range of options available to electronic music producers on even the tightest budgets is dauntingly vast, defining a closely constrained set of creative …

Brooke Sharkey – One Dress (folk)

May 23, 2013

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It can be quite hard to find your place as a singer-songwriter; it’s an idiom whose audience mainly appreciates acoustic music, and mainly doesn’t appreciate anything too weird. Its audience also has a seemingly inexhaustible appetite for frankly indistinguishable assemblages of strummed steel-string guitar and predictable vocal melodies; it’s asking an awful lot of vocal timbre and lyrical conceit to make them the sole repositories of individuality and personality, and it is conversely very easy to go with the flow, knowing that if you can spin your simple songs out with enough polish in the delivery there is probably an audience out there for you, one that will be in awe of your talent simply because you’re able to get through a song without …

Cutleri – We Sink Ships (avant-folk)

August 2, 2012

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I never know how much to consider the visual artwork when I’m discussing a release. On the one hand, I don’t want to do the artist a disservice by basing my description on anything extraneous to the music, but then the artwork does unavoidably affect how the listener hears the music, and the visual component is often a valuable creative accomplishment in its own right. Personally I enjoy the artwork attached to the music I listen to; even if it’s only digital, it still provides a handle that I can hang my memories of the sounds off. What I’m trying to get at when I write about music is its meaning, and in the case of music, ‘meaning’ can’t really refer to anything other than the experience of hearing it; what goes on neurologically when we hear music …

Monday Musing: Special Pleading And The Ethics Of Culture

February 6, 2012

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Every so often the liberal press likes to get up a nice bit of moral panic about ragga/ rap/ whatever singers’ appalling attitudes towards women, or exhorting their listeners to shoot gays; usually the right wing press likes to join in as well, as it’s a good excuse for them to trot out their ongoing concerns about black people, with their primitive passions and oversized penises (well, they don’t say that out loud any more, but the subtext is still there). So there’s that, but we need a few more examples. There’s a well known song in Britain which expresses a desire for Marshall Wade to ‘…like a torrent rush/ rebellious Scots to crush’

VK Lynne – Whiskey Or Water (blues rock/ singer-songwriter)

June 1, 2011

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VK Lynne plays to the mythical archetype of the strong but vulnerable, hard drinking rock chick: how much of that is VK Lynne the narrator of this sequence of songs, and how much of it is VK Lynne the writer and woman is above my pay grade to speculate, but there's a powerful sense of sincerity in this music.