Monthly Archives: October 2011

Emily Barker & The Red Clay Halo – Almanac Album Review

Folk sensation Emily Barker is releasing her third album, Almanac, with her band The Red Clay Halo in November.

Emily Barker Almanac

Almanac CD cover design

Receiving a ‘Record of the Week’ from Nemone on 6 Music, outstanding reviews from Q, The Times and the BBC, which has used two of her tracks for prime time TV show The Shadow Line and the multi-award winning Wallander, Emily Barker has definitely shaken the roots of folk.

Coming from Bridgetown, Western Australia, she is becoming well known for her ability to intertwine beautiful lyrics, angelic vocals and melodic tunes into some of the most influential folk music around today.

Staying quite traditional in most respects, Almanac is a strong folk album. It’s a similar style of folk to Joni Mitchell. The Red Clay Halo produce melodic folk music along side breath taking vocals. Not quite as impressive as Joni Mitchell’s voice but there is less chance that Barker’s voice will break glass…

Opening track, Billowing Sea, is one of the catchiest songs on the record with the chorus, “There will be a billowing sea of light and liberty/I gave my all and even more for the sake of the giver in me”. It’s bound to have you humming the tune after just one listen.

Billowing Sea is a happy folk number with upbeat rhythms whereas other songs like Reckless, Pause and Lights are the sadder, more emotional tracks which really let you see how strong Barker’s song writing is.

Then there’s the song, Witch of Pitteweem, which reminds me of The Pogues’ Fairytale of New York in the way that Barker sings and then the male vocalist returns her calls. It’s more dramatic than the other songs on the record as well, allowing the listener to see Barker’s fun and playful side.

Emily Barker

Emily Barker

There are layers to each track stopping any of them from becoming plain. Each track has it’s own unique style and sound which is something that really pushes this record way above other folk artists.

Barker’s vocals compliment every musical accompaniment and are interesting to say the least. She has such a unique voice. It’s powerful yet fluently changes to be angelic, soft and even fragile at times.

Almanac is a fantastic folk album. There isn’t a track that sticks out as being particularly bad or disappointing. Every song offers something to the listener. It’s an easy listen that contains beautiful lyrics, soft vocals and some of the best composed yet unpretentious folk music I’ve heard in a while.

Almanac is out on November 14 on Emily Barker’s own label, Everyone Sang.

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The Janks – Hands of Time

The Janks are brothers, Zack and Dylan Zmed, and their best friend Garth Herberg. Originating from Los Angeles, this group of young and talented musicians infuse rock styles from the 60s and 70s into the modern world of folk.

This band have gained rapid critical acclaim and have even been compared to Neil Young and Wilco. Not bad for a band that are only just about to release their debut album.

The Janks

The Janks courtesy of Top Button Digital

Taking inspiration from the timeless 60s and 70s rock sound that Zack is so fond of alongside Garth’s compositions, The Janks have produced a record full of timeless sounds, influential styles and lyrically solid songs.

While the beginning of the album starts off slow and acoustically focused by the time Rat Racers bursts through the speakers, the break is more than welcomed.

Rat Racers is much more experimental than the previous tracks. With screeching, high pitched and slightly Robert Plant-esque vocals, it’s a great rock song filled with dynamic changes, captivating vocals and some of the most influential sounds I’ve heard in a long time. Separation From Your Body is another fantastic experimental track.

From Rat Racers onwards, the album turns into what sounds like a 70s rock record. Before Rat Racers though, songs like Hands Of Time, Dead Man and Don’t Hide Your Eyes bring out the folk elements in their music. They are strong, easy to listen to acoustic based songs. Dylan’s vocals are spot on in bringing forward that old 60s and 70s folk feel. He has that rock star quality in his voice that just makes things tick.

Dylan (vocals, guitar, keys, percussion) explains why the structure of the record works this way: “The album is like musical theatre.

“The first half develops the plot of a young boy who comes from a broken home, while the second reflects the visceral intensity of growing up from separated roots. At the end, we see there’s possibility for change.”

With the record stretching from slow acoustic songs to heavier rock influenced tracks and finally back to slow and reflective songs such as When I Was A Kid and Get Outta Town, it does feel like a journey listening to this album. Going from down beat to ecstatic and back again brings the record to life and lets it hit home. This record tells a story and one that everyone should listen to.

Hands Of Time is released in the UK on 7 November. Watch the video for Dean Man below:

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Casiokids – Det Haster (Of Montreal Remix)

Norwegian band Casiokids release their new single, Det Haster (in English that means ‘It’s urgent’), on Monday 24 October.

Det Haster is filled with electronic synths and melodic bass beats along side calming, high pitched vocals – the typical sound you expect from this band. But there’s something satisfying about listening to this track, it has a positive and happy feel. Although I can’t figure out for the life of me whether the lyrics are sung in English or Norwegian, it’s still a great song to just sit back and relax to.

However, Of Montreal have done a remix which pads the single out a lot more. With a heavier and undeniably more dramatic sound, this remix is perhaps better than the original. The bass is more powerful, the synth is highlighted and there’s a stronger dance beat behind it.

Take a listen here.

Since Of Montreal supported Casiokids in 2009, their working together has become a regular habit. Releasing a record store day split 7″ in April this year, they’ve also planned for future tours and Of Montreal have helped out on Casiokids debut album, Aabenbaringen Over Aaskammen, which is set for European release early next year.

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X-Ray Recordings releases The Coathangers’ Double A-Side

The Coathangers

The Coathangers' promo shot

X-Ray Recordings are releasing The Coathangers’ double a-side Hurricane/Johnny on flexidisc on Monday 24 October for the teeny-weeny price of £3.75 available here.

The group’s album, Larceny & Old Lace, was released back in June through Suicide Squeeze. It wowed X-Ray Recordings which has since decided to produce two of its favourite tracks from the record on flexidisc.

This is X-Ray Recordings second flexidisc release after the Trogons’ single, Contina, was so successful earlier this year.

Take a listen here.

X-Ray Recordings is a new London-based record label run by Kate Price and Scott Walker with a simple mission; to release the music they love.

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Dan Mangan – Post War Blues

Dan Mangan

Dan Mangan - Oh Fortune

Vancouver-based singer/songwriter, Dan Mangan, is back with a new album, Oh Fortune, which is set for release on 5 December in the UK.

Having performed with the likes of The Walkmen, The Decemberists and Okkervil River as well as performing for Wills and Kate on their recent trip to Canada, Dan Mangan is an act to look out for.

Offering more anthemic songs than this previous record, Nice, Nice, Very Nice, Oh Fortune sees him pad his tracks out more with orchestration and feeling.

He’s giving away Post War Blues taken from the album for free. You download it here.

Post War Blues is a track full of dramatic drum rhythms, wild electric guitar and unstoppable orchestration. Comparing it to his previous tracks such as Robots and Road Regrets, it has a lot more to offer. Although already being classed as an alternative folk musician with indie undertones, Dan Mangan, brings all this to the forefront with his new record.


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