Taste the Music: Cold in Berlin,Valerie June, Casimir

coldinberlin

Having listened to Keaton Henson for the last couple of days, in all his delicate and fragile folk-y vibe, right now I am craving for some dark, heavy, beastly music – just to compensate. It seems that I have found my fuzzy fix in one of my Taste The Music tracks… Continue reading

The Judas Horse

judashorse

Another obsession of mine, in case you didn’t know, is music soundtracks. From Twin Peaks to Sweeney Todd (and the not-so-secret-guilty-pleasure Footloose), I love music that blends in visual sounds and musical landscapes. Despite not being part of a soundtrack, The Judas Horse’s EP Holy War would be perfect on a David Lynch or a Gus Van Sant movies. Meghan Mulhearn and Linn Rogers both come from diverse musical backgrounds. After the breakup of their individual former bands Descolada (Meghan) and Birds on the Ground (Linn), The Judas Horse released the first album, Pathfinder, on Descolada Records in June 2009. Dave Lynch joined a few months ago and has made a dramatic impact in the sound of the band. Holy War is the result of different musical sources and stimuli, drawing from both the Gothic tradition and slightly disturbed folk a là Thus:Owl.

Firstly, the use of violin as a third vocalist creates a spectrum of reflections which goes beyond the female/male choruses (Neighbour, Holy War), as the violin-driven Gambit may prove. The EP flows from funereal landscapes to baroque guitar picking, winking at the roughest classical tradition in a crescendo of strings (Chess), proving how instrumental does not necessarily mean flat sound. A doom-y bass line creates a richer and less melancholic outset, which approaches the psychedelic suites of Expo ‘70, in a more acid-infused experience. The songs tend to fluctuate between reverb-esque psychedelic violin-solos and musical climaxes, in a rich kaleidoscope of sounds.

There is harmony and dissonance, a choir of voices and sparks that alternatively clash and conjoin, and a focus mainly around Meghan Mulhearn’s gloomy violin, still with a special attention to the musical universe that revolves about it all. Such a wide palette of colours, that it is almost impossible to place it in this musical mosaic.

Cover Album
Holy War
Similar Artist: Expo 70, This Mortal Coil, Danny Elfmann
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Tracklist

The Strypes @ The Birdcage (Bristol)

Birdcage

First things first, The Birdcage in Bristol is one venue that all of the British vintage connoisseurs should check out. Mod outfits, vintages clothes, named-drinks (my cider, for instance, was Frank the Fisherman): as my boyfriend called it: “sounds like a Mad Hatter’s Tea Party”. To give justice to such a place, what would be better than some 50s rock and roll, delivered straight from Ireland?

The Strypes

I talked about The Strypes before, and I really liked the vibe and the explosive punch of You can’t Judge a Book by the Cover. The idea of seeing them live for free seemed quite a good one, especially for a Saturday evening (after a mental week at work, hence my weird-update schedule, apologies). Joking about the mixed age of the crowd, my friend pointed at some really young fellas dressed in tuxedos, just to suggest that you could really find everything at the Birdcage. Guess our astonishment when these four really young fellas jumped on stage. To be honest, we were not the only ones rather skeptical and surprised, despite them being labeled NME’s “No.1 Band To Watch In 2013”.

Lead singer Ross Farrelly (re-named “young Miles Kane”) has a mature voice for his age, without sounding excessively fake, lead guitar and backing vocalist Josh McClorey (“young Pete Doherty”) was the chatty one. Bass guitarist Pete O’Hanlon has a real touch with harmonica despite his young age, whilst Evan Walsh kept bashing the drums in pure rockabilly style. The lyrics draw from the typical themes of the time (Route 66, wild and passionate love etc.), in a cheeky attitude which reflects perfectly the core of the spicy Mississippi blues (I Got Love if You Want it). From the Doobie Brothers to the second-Dylan era, passing through Jerry Lee Lewis, Chuck Berry and Elvis, The Strypes jump from the harmonica Delta blues-y ballads to dance-floor boogie riffs.

Clapping hands and shaking your hips in rhythm is inevitable. It may be the age, it may be the music (blues and rock & roll are powerful stuff, need to handle them with care), but The Strypes prove that age really doesn’t matter anymore. The revenge of the young fellas: Jake Bugg, you have been warned.

150words: Vernon Sélavy, Girless and the Orphan

Vernon Sélavy – Distressed Blues

Fuzz and Delta blues in the same release. What can possibly go wrong? Italian nu-blues is hitting harder than ever, first with Movie Star Junkies, now with the début of Vincenzo Marando, aka Vernon Sélavy. This Turin-based artist draws from, among the others, Sam Cooke, Leonard Cohen and pancakes (quoting the artist). A spicy combination of gloomy lyrics, dusty drums and fuzzy guitars, with a pinch of Delta blues’ nostalgia (All the Sinners) and a profusion of backing vocals. Instead of enhancing the upbeat-catchy side of such a multifarious genre, Vernon Sélavy does what he knows the best, providing exquisite melancholic, distressed blues.

Cover Album
Distressed Blues
Similar Artist: Sam Cooke, Movie Star Junkies
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Girless & the Orphan – Nothing To Be Worried About Except Everything But You

Fuzz-folk. Here, ladies and gentlemen, stands a new sub-genre. The hybrid of dark folk (fuzz, lo-fi) and folk-pop (cheerful and snappy), fuzz-folk is the genre you will associate to the Italian act Girless & the Orphan. Sometimes winking at the 90s R.E.M.-styledlo-fi rock (Bad Scene, Your Fault) and sometimes to some minimal bedroom folk (It’s Your Job to Keep Class-Worm Elite), with acoustic guitar and finger-picking. However, it all flows perfectly smoothly, also when anger sneaks in Cinnamon and Arrogance (just the name is beautiful, to be honest!). A pretty late autumn gem, free download below.

Cover Album
Nothing To Be Worried About Except Everything But You
Similar Artist: R.E.M., Pocket Chestnuts
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Gig Report: Sadside Project (+ Man on Wire, Omid Jazi) @ Calamita

I am quite keen on extremes. I like music that can easily become extreme without sounding awkward, bringing its own contribution to some of the most famous genres of the period, such as blues rock. Sadside Projects is basically winking at the garage of early White Stripes, blending it in with the Strokes of ‘This is It’, and a pinch of Eddie Vedder incursions a là ‘Ukulele Songs’. This is the unusual, but fascinating mix proposed to me at Calamita last Saturday. It was preceded by some completely dissonant performances, such as the dreams-inspired songs of Omid Jazi and the folk of Man on Wire. Continue reading