Ruth Barnes and Emily Barker and... a white bunny!
Emily Barker and the Red Clay Halo's gorgeous new album Almanac is out in February. We caught up with Emily for half a pint of Christmas Ale at the Betsey Trotwood pub in Farringdon to talk The Waifs, Wallander, pipe organs and the birth of album number 3.
Ruth Barnes sat in for Tom Robinson on BBC 6 Music this morning (Monday 6 December from 1am). Tom was stuck in the snow in Southampton, so producer Tom Whalley and I put our heads together to do him justice with these cracking tunes:
Not usually a fan of the fifties rockabilly pastiche (Imelda May et al) - Florence Joelle has come along and blown that little prejudice straight outta the water. The Paris-born singer now lives in London and it's her voice that smacks you around the head. It's utterly unique. Florence and her band The Kiss of Fire's treatment of this 1940's Chick Webb tune brings it smack bang into the present day and her own compositions are drenched in the American blues, but always stay true to her own inimitable sound - you'll find more on her myspace page. Nalle - Lily
TOW caught Two Wings live at Cafe Oto in Dalston last month, they were supporting probably the most chilled out talented couple from the US east coast: Arborea. Two Wing's lead singer Hannah Tuulikki is something to behold. Chatting to her afterwards, she revealed another project Nalle, which actually has a release out (Two Wings are in the studio now). So we took a copy home, put it on the stereo and let the experimental dreamy melodies and remarkable soundscapes float over us. Hanna's voice is fore-fronted beautifully on these tracks, sometimes warbling - at other times perfect. Imagine this voice fronting The Band, that's what we can expect from Two Wings - very very exciting.
Chapter 24 are from Corby in the Midlands and make seriously punky tunes. Channeling the best of The Slits and The Clash from the punk fraternity and nodding towards Vampire Weekend with their spikey Afro-punk guitar riffs, their music is infectious, fresh and wholly danceable. Look out for their name on a festival bill near you in 2011.
'Witch House' - ring any bells? TOW is still getting our head around 'chill wave', it's all the same we're sure, but The Guardian's Tim Jonze has done a decent job of trying to get to the bottom of it here. Sleep Over make music that will, probably, put you to sleep - woozy, dreamy, vocals you can't quite make out (but it doesn't matter as you're half asleep) but also a spooky Twin Peaks-esque gorgeous lushness that we love!
Aaaaaaa La Piscina! To the swimming pool! The name of Barcelona trio Aias' new album and it's as full of joy as the name suggests. Aias is Laia Aubia, Gaia Bihr, and Miriam Garcia and they make that kind of glorious lo-fi summery girl band racket (sung in Catalan) that can only make you smile and think of dosing in a puddle of sunshine on the living room carpet. Just in time for gloomy old Autumn then. Brilliant New York indie Captured Tracks is putting this out and we love it.
Listen to this track immediately!! Lyrically stunning, melodically perfect - is it possible? It seems Emily Jane White has achieved both. The new album, Victorian America, works beautifully as a whole too, she's been inspired by the trials and tribulations of women living in Victorian America - so you can imagine there's a whole heap of sufferin', sorrow and pain. There have been comparisons to Cat Power which is no bad thing, but White's got a whole other unique sound going on that certainly sets her apart.
Von Burl thought she was going to end up playing as a backing musician in someone else's band. Happily for us, she thought: 'Stuff that!' and started writing and performing her own material. Heartbeat's the one Von sent TOW after a friend saw her live at The Slaughtered Lamb and insisted we check her out. Von Burl has also made the Just A Girl Long List, for a chance to play at this year's Ladyfest... more on that to come but for now check out the link and cast your vote!
Sentel - Widow They're a boy and girl from Krakow, Poland, who make some serious dub-infused dance music. Thanks to Dana who curates the brilliant and very informative Women in Electronic Music page on Facebook/Last.FM for sending this one over. Dana runs a digital label in Warsaw, focused on "The best in bass music from our neck of the woods." Concrete Cut are releasing this single, which she calls 'post-dubstep'. Ah ha!
Thanks to Tom Ravenscroft for suggesting I listen to Texan Jana Hunter a few years ago. She was one of the first artists to sign to Devendra Banhart's Gnomonsong label and now she's got a brand new band. Lower Dens released Twin Hand Movement on the same label last month and TOW is enjoying it immensely. It's all layered droney guitars and subtle pop hooks. For more tips from Tom check out his BBC 6 Music show.
Formerly one half and founder member of lesbian religious rappers Yo! Majesty, Shunda K is out on her own and making music on her own terms. Fresh from touring with Peaches and taking as much advice as possible from her too, the new material is laced with funky beats and of course, killer lyrics. Save us please Shunda K!
TOW is lucky enough to be plugged into one helluva new music network. George Gargan is one such promoter, going by the name of Damnably he also makes music as Former Utopia. George is the driving force behind the forthcoming John Peel tribute night in London, more details here and we are putting in Mary Epworth and the Jubilee Band! George introduced me to Kath Bloom and with one of those voices that could only imply a turbulent life, we've enjoyed every last heart wrenching but also often joyous second. Someone who 'should have been huge'. Seriously.
I couldn't find a video for Finally online, but you might recognise this one from Before Sunrise.
Again - that network we mentioned before. Roxanne emailed our inbox asking if we fancy playing her song and posting her new video online - well, yes we do! Turn this one up loud - when played in the studio at 6 Music, Tom's producer Tom Whalley put his head in his hands and said, 'I think this is one of the most perfect voices I've ever heard'. 'Nuff said.
You've heard us rave about The Rayographs on the radio, now hear the first solo musings from their fabulous frontwoman Astrud Steehouder. Beautiful and often creepy tales from a forgotten time, written and recorded in either her bedroom or kitchen in the midnight hour. We love these simple tunes that are on her myspace and can't wait to get the songstress onto the show for a live session. Watch this space. PS: New material from The Rayographs due soon too - whoop!
Who are the mysterious You And Me Ensemble? Thanks to Chris Read for getting in touch with us (always makes our job a million times easier) and for sending over the debut album which is out now on Special Blend Records. Chris Read helped master some of uber cool duo Hot Chip's early stuff and Alexis Taylor rightly compares them to The Penguin Cafe Orchestra - it was on the tip of our tongue! The duo aren't trying to prove anything to anyone but themselves - that they can make beautiful, atmospheric and original music that transports you a million miles away... where you count the dust particles in the air as you stretch out on an old sofa and drift off back to sleep on a warm summer's afternoon.
After playing this track on Tom's show, he tweeted me saying 'Thank you for introducing me to Girls In Trouble!' Well I have to thank the brilliant Wears The Trousers editor Alan Pedder for telling Alicia to get in touch with us. It's fantastic being part of such a great network of people with excellent taste! Alicia Jo Rabins and Aaron Hartman are GiT, signed to brilliant New York Jewish indie Jdub Records and cite Nina Nastasia, Leonard Cohen, Emily Dickinson and Brigitte Fontaine amongst their influences. Alicia says the stories of the hardships experienced by women in the Old Testament have inspired her writing, which is ticking all our boxes!
Taken from her debut album We Are Children With Different Titles, Nobody is the first single from Swedish singer-songwriter Skatan. Simone Andersson Wingfors was brought to our attention by the excellent Swedesplease blog, a constant source of great tunes from our Nordic brethren. Skatan joins that list with one of those voices that's not easily forgotten, sometimes sweet and sometimes broken. We love this.
This song WILL get stuck in your head. Guaranteed. Abigail Smith howls and wails Oh Sam with such addictive energy and sounding not just a little like Kate Bush - which is no bad thing. She's a multi-instrumentalist, the results of which you will hear on her debut album Night Time Walking - she also has an eerie, beautiful voice to match. Oh Sam is the poppiest tune, where others really let the cello, viola and piano parts breathe. You can't buy it in the UK but it's available to purchase on her myspace.
Signe Tollefsen is half-Dutch half-American, her music career took off after being discovered by an American producer whilst playing live in Amsterdam's Vondelpark. Recording tracks (including this one) at Linda Perry's studio in LA the result is sweet, sweet songwriting and a talent that should have her pounding on the door of the mainstream very soon. Tollefsen has been awarded all kinds of songwriting accolades in her homeland and supported the likes of Alela Diane and Ane Brun - now it's time to see her take centre stage.
Like the Swedes, Canadians consistently provide us with fantastic indie pop groups. Most don't make it to these shores and Forest City Lovers are one such band that I hadn't come across - but it seems they have quite a following back home. From Toronto, the group centres around guitarist, singer and songwriter Kat Burns and they make gorgeous, melodic and often sorrowful pop tunes. The glockenspiel and banjo are fore-fronted so for fans of Sufjan Stevens get listenin'... Carriage is out now on Out Of This Spark records.
There's not much around online about Lazy Mary, this pair from California who make fuzzed out raucous guitar noise. Melody Kohn and Kendall Brinkley, not yet 21, hail from Long Beach and have been together almost a year. According to their label boss Mike from Mountain Man Records: "They play mostly local gigs but toured the west coast of the United States this summer with Concrete Shiva (a Long Beach noise act). The tour included a stop at TITWRENCH in Denver, CO. Titrench is a festival celebrating female acts from all over the US. They're home from tour now and plan on continuing to write new songs and play more shows, and hopefully put out more records." Yippee! We love this band and The Girls Are are all over them too, let's get them over and get them on the radio!
The Lone Taxidermist aka Natalie Sharp is a one woman howl-inducing music making machine. From Manchester but now based in London - TOW guesses that gothic psych electro may be the correct way to describe her, but in all honesty The Lone Taxidermist sits quite squarely in a league of her own. Bijoux Boy is our favourite, hear that on her myspace page, but this video is for Road Kill, another equally interesting and, well, howly tune. Big up to Skopjemusic for the video - check out more great indie videos from him here.
So very little is known about Botched Fairytale, except that Mariel McCormack and Marie O'Hara are from Longford in Ireland and, like The Lone Taxidermist, can equally sit in a category all their own. The two girls do everything themselves - recording, mixing, mastering, the lot. TOW has tried to put a finger on influences but can't quite pin it down. They seem like a band that Thom Yorke would fall immediately in love with - look out world, here come Botched Fairytale, with their woozey guitars, accordions and those haunting vocals that will keep you coming back for more. If you email them at email@example.com they'll personally post you a copy of their album. Lovely.
Props to the fantastic The Girls Are blog for turning us onto Marianne Lee. Annette Barlow and her team of super lady music sleuths are bang on with this tip from Ireland. Little is known about Marianne but listen to the music and you'll hear the two influences she cites on her myspace, Kate Bush and Sandy Denny. We can hear all kinds of loveliness, a sound that might prick up the ear of Thom Yorke and imagery that harks back to the 'gothic midlands' of Ireland where she grew up. We want her over here in the UK - watch this space!
A true gem we uncovered whilst cruising on myspace - Patricia Panther (it is her real name - awesome) lives in the indie-boy-with-guitars heavy scene in Glasgow and says she finds it very hard to be taken seriously as a woman making electronic music without a man tweaking the knobs and buttons behind the scene. Patricia makes all the music herself, loops all the beats, presses all the pedals and the result is something unique and truly quirky. See We Are Kids At Root especially for proof of this, she recorded some kids in Ghana using her iPhone and mixed it up with goodness knows what to create a storming tune.
Pick 1 - Brilliant Colours - English Cities Brilliant Colours are San Francisco-based three piece Michelle, Jess and Diane who make fuzzed out garage punk rock. Oh no, not more of that TOW hears you cry! This is truly worth putting on your stereo and turning up LOUD. Tuneful, clever and dirty - Tom Ravenscroft played them on 6 Music ages ago, we've just found them and love what we hear. Their single Walk Into The World/ Bad Vibes is out now on Make A Mess Records - we saw it in Rough Trade last week and felt sooo proud. Go and spend cash! Pick 2 - Nico Teen - Hungry For Love You gotta love someone whose myspace is /nicoteensillypoo. TOW thought we'd bring you the latest talent from the Israeli independent scene - Nico is signed to AK Duck/Uganda/ Something On The Road Records and was on a recent Wire Tapper compilation. Our ears immediately pricked up, not least because the song was the catchiest of the compilation - actually had lyrics, melody etc. We love The Wire magazine but sometimes it makes us feel like such musical philistines! Spooky lyrics, weird electronics... we love Nico Teen.
Pick 1: Sylvia Hallett and Mike Adcock - Betty Martin Sylvia Hallett and Mike Adcock's album Reduced, recently released on experimental Orchestra Pit Recordings, is for those who are looking for more than just a catchy tune to tantalise your ear drums. Featuring violin, accordion, percussion and a bowed bicycle wheel, this record takes you on a journey that's quite like being on your bicycle in London. One minute you are breezing along a quiet road in the sunshine, the next you are swerving a double decker bus, swearing at a black cab driver and bouncing over pot holes. It's one helluva ride. Hallett has worked both nationally and internationally as a composer and as an improviser, and for those mad keen cyclists out there - here's what she likes about playing the bowed bicycle wheel: 'The bowed bicycle wheel is also somewhat unpredictable. The spokes are not tuned so each one gives a different set of eerie harmonics. Rather like bowing a cymbal, you can never be quite sure which harmonic will sound; it will often skip to the one above or below the one you are trying to play! Similarly the rotary knobs on an old digital delay box are refreshingly imprecise. Some might call this lack of precision infuriating, but I find it stimulating.' And there you have it. I couldn't find anything from the new album on Youtube, but head to her myspace for that.
Pick 2: Susie Hug - Shed A Tear Another one for the nineties music geeks - remember The Katydids? Susie Hug was the lead singer of this highly underrated group. Having previously collaborated with the likes of Fatima Masions, Ian Broudie and Travis (they've been her backing band donchaknow), Hug has headed West to seek out the woozey alt-americana stylings of Calexico. Recorded in Tucson it's sounds just as it should, like you're sitting in the only spot of shade on a hot dusty desert afternoon, with an ice cold beer in your hands. Shed A Tear is TOW's favourite song on the album, the rest runs much along the same lines - but this is the one that rolled around in our heads all day. Vacilando 68 Recordings is another revelation to us, an imprint of Orchestra Pit and a good home for Hug's West coast sunshine pop - did I mention she was born in Japan? She just gets more and more interesting...
Essie Jain has one of those voices that grips you by the throat and demands attention. A couple of albums down the line now with the brilliant esoteric Leaf Label, she's turned her attention to the world of music for children. Releasing Until The Light Of Morning on her own label Light Of Morning records is just the first step she says, it could become an evil empire! Listen to the interview below. Also, details of her third studio album, look out - she's gone all hippy on us...
Here's a quote from her website, which is also where I stole that lovely image from:
'...my family and friends back home had started to have kids. It became apparent to me that they were always looking for new music to soothe their babies at nap and bedtime, and as a result of hearing the same CD for the hundredth time, they were quietly going crazy listening to songs that were working for their little ones, but certainly didn’t do it for them.
It was then I realised what my next project would be.'
Pick 1: WOOM - The Hunt
WOOM are Sara Magenheimer and Eben Portnoy who used to make music as Fertile Crescent - but after a hiatus in the Massachussets mountains, where they found a barn and channeled their inner music maker, they were reborn as WOOM. TOW urges you to check out their blog, they're giving away tunes there too. Muu's Way is out this summer on Ba Da Bing Records, a great label with which we are currently having a love affair. The album is very much the result of the duo's six year's together in many ways too. They sound like they are intuitively linked and the record rolls on beautifully with moments that can only be realised through their own DIY production - huge amounts of energy on one hand and then it pulls back to moments of pure quiet. We've chosen this video from youtube because, although rough, we feel it sums this band up nicely. Comparisons have already been thrown around to Tune-Yards, Animal Collective and Micachu and the Shapes.
marta collica | MySpace Music Videos Marta Collica is a revelation. The Italian singer-songwriter is signed to one of our favourite labels out of Berlin, Solaris Empire, who've released her latest album About Anything. She's also known for her collaborative effort Sepiatone, with ex-Bad Seed, Australian songwriter Hugo Race. Race was recently playing live in London and requested a TOW favourite to support him, Madam, so he knows his female singer-songwriters. Collica is also a key member of the John Parish band and plays in London this summer with them - Parish produced part of this album in Bristol, he's another man who loves his great female voices (PJ Harvey, Goldfrapp, This Is The Kit, Maika Makovski). She's one of those artists who from their top friends on Myspace alone you discover a world of fantastic music...
Unfortunately Irish singer-songwriter Ann Scott hasn't posted anything from her new album on her myspace, at the time of writing this. Her new album, her third, Flo is out in June and TOW can't get enough of this eerily psychedelic folk offering. Anyway, we found this video on youtube from her last album and we like it too. Ann describes her latest album as about 'being lost and how to get there' and with the lyrics delivered by her husky, warm vocals you'll wanna get there too.
Lianne Hall is someone who I feel immensely embarrassed about. How could I not have come across her before? John Peel was a huge fan and she performed a ton of sessions for his Radio 1 show with Pico. Lianne is one of those artists who makes TOW feel very good about what we do. She should by rights, be huge! But as with all women who make music like Lianne, outside of the manstream, outside of a particular marketing box, they will forever be outsiders. However, with the ground swell of bloggers and websites supporting not only women artists but all the great specialist music makers out there - there is hope! With the demise of any radio (Save 6 Music!) or TV platforms for them we just have to hope for the best. The interent will prevail! Right, rant over. Lianne has a fantastic voice (Brighton's own Nina Nastasia at times, and described by Peel as 'one of the great English voices') and writes frankly awesome tunes. Her new album Crossing Wires is out on Malinki Records soon - BUY IT.
If like TOW you spent the nineties living in another country on the other side of the world, you'll often feel excluded from those nostalgic 'Where were you when... in Brit Pop' conversations. Sigh. Anyway we've tried our best to catch up so we sound like we know what's going on BUT even so the lovely Jane Weaver is brand new to us. Hailing from Liverpool Jane used to be in Brit Poppers Kill Laura, she's also played with Misty Dixon - but we're most interested in her latest solo material. Jane is keeping it real by running her own record label too, Bird Records, an offshoot of Twisted Nerve Records. Jane is a woman after our own heart as she specialises in contemporary female folk artists - huzzah! Keep an eye out for the compilation album Bearded Ladies - released jointly with the brilliant Finders Keepers label.
TOW received an email recently which read: "We've got a thing for you, if you like lo-fi garage/punk things. We're Lindsay, Tim and Matt: Thick Shakes, from Boston, MA, cranking out snarling, fuzzy, catchy pop tunes." Ok, you got us! We read on and discovered that there is a debut EP out called Ooh Mommy, released on cassette (so retro) on Austin-based Snugglehound Records (best record label name ever). Head to thickshakes.net for freebies. Thanks for the email Thickshakes, we love it!
Every week TOW is lucky enough to pick two songs for Tom Robinson's brilliant BBC 6 Music show, the spot goes out every Monday morning at around 2:30am. Here are our picks for the this week:
Pick 1 - Tifa - Rock Me So (Fyah Wyah Riddim 2010)
Tifa hails from Kingston, Jamaica and is part of the ever-expanding, ever-impressive Ward 21 crew. They are a label and collective of musicians, producers and general hip 'n happening dancehall types who are most definitely in charge. Influenced by all the right kinds of artists including Earth, Wind & Fire, Patti Labelle and Aretha Franklin - Tifa now spits, sings, huffs and puffs and TOW loves the way she pants her way through the 'fyah, fyah, fyah' riff in this tune. All power to Tifa, the latest in a long list of dancehall talent, see our earlier entry about Timberlee.
Picastro call themselves a 'sleep rock' band, whatever that is we love it. They're from Toronto and have been around for over ten years now. The perfect antithesis to loud, abrassive rock music - this band, led by vocalist Liz Hysen, have released a gorgeous album in 2010, Become Secret, and we can't get enough of it. Mr Arcade Fire, Owen Pallett, himself has been a previous member of the band - but it all hangs together around Liz's sad, sad vocals. Not to make it sound too depressing or anything, but a great record for a red wine-soaked rainy afternoon of navel-gazing.
TOW loves a band that spells out words in songs, especially when the word is 'Billie Holliday', who the band call the most 'bad ass singer who ever existed'. Warpaint are four girls who make experimental art rock - the Los Angeles natives call it psychedelic, mellow dramatic, popular song and oddly - ghettotech. But actually yes we agree! Jenny, Emily, Theresa and Stella have got some celeb friends too, like Heath Ledger (RIP), Billy Zane (what a legend!), Josh Klinghoffer (new RHCP's guitarist) and John Frusciante (former RHCP guitarist). Frusciante also mixed their fantastic Exquisite Corpse EP for Manimal Vinyl. They're signed to Rough Trade now and play the Great Escape Festival in Brighton next weekend, get to it!
Ok so you can't SEE much in this video but you get the jist of Kellarissa's rather smashingly unique sound and gorgeous voice. Head to her myspace and listen to Tiny Things, that's our favourite. You may remember we blogged about Fanshaw a few weeks back, well Kellarissa is from the same stable - Mint Records in Vancouver. Larissa Loyva does everything herself usually using a synthesiser and vocal loops, LOTS of reverb and says she 'asks eternal questions' disguised as pop songs. If only this stuff would make it to the charts! It would boggle their tiny minds (evil cackle...) Flamingo is Kellarissa's debut album, head to Mint Records to buy it.
Akiko Kiyama is from Japan, and although she makes fantastic minimalist techno she was classically educated as a young girl. At the age of 14 she discovered drum 'n bass and the rest is history. She now lives in Berlin, as you'd expect - and sent me new tracks recently, one of which I played for Tom. Richie Hawtin is a fan of her spacey techno and it's the details you have to listen out for. Click on her link above to listen to tracks on her myspace page.
We love Drunk Granny on TOW! Debi and Sam are two rockers who make short, punchy, queer punk songs and they just get better. They've recently worked with Annie Gardiner from The Hysterical Injury (another awesome Bristol band fronted by another fabulous singer) and that will be out later in the year. This track is inspired by a Canadian artist Allysen Mitchell who makes the most incredible Sasquatch puppets! More here