All posts tagged folk

Songs For Walter – Useless

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Over the years, Laurie Hulme has graced many a Manchester band with his irrefutable talent. From the Felt influenced indie-pop of Golden Glow, to the raucously fun post-punk of Beat The Radar. He’s one of those musicians that has quietly gone about his business with an undeniably modest and warm approach to life. Now, after 5 years in the making, his touchingly personal project Songs For Walter deserves all the plaudits it has already been receiving. A masterpiece in storytelling; he’s worked hard to create a collection of songs that pay fitting tribute to his grandfather and their relationship. A beautifully relatable piece of work – I couldn’t help but think about my own grandfather Idwal; a slightly eccentric Welshman whose wonder and magic has remained firm in my memory long after his death. Laurie has been kind enough to talk us through the album, delving deep into Walter’s life, and giving us some fantastic insight’s into Walter’s life:

Useless

Useless is about my Grandfather’s dabbling with communism in the 1930’s. He worked at the same biscuit factory as his father, Walter senior. Word got out that young Walter had been attending communist meetings and my great grandfather was told that the both of them would be sacked if this continued. The whole lyrics are from the perspective of Walter senior, rollocking his son!

Dunkirk

My Grandfather would often tell us stories form WW2. One of his most repeated stories was of the evacuation of Dunkirk. He described it as a very well organised affair with sergeants separating people into strong, weak and non swimmers. He always claimed he’d smuggled a bottle of whisky into his uniform which he and his comrades enjoyed as they sailed back to England, escaping with their lives. This is one of oldest songs to appear on the album, dating back to 2011.

Meet Me At The Empire

This song is about my grandparents’ first date. After winning a 3 legged race (more about that later) at their work’s sports day they were awarded a prize of two tickets to the Empire theatre in Liverpool that evening. My grandmother wasn’t sure if her very strict family would allow it and so Walter agreed to wait at the Empire that evening to see if his date would arrive. She did and they were a couple for the following 74 years!

The Joint World Record Holders

My Grandparents literally went for a day out, every day for the best part of fourty years! This song tells a true story about them unexpectedly driving form their house in the suburbs of Liverpool to the north of Scotland. It was released on an early EP and I always felt it was missing something – turns out the shuffley drum beat was what it needed. In the back ground is a recording of my old car’s engine, I remember getting odd looks off the neighbours as I held a mic over the bonnet. At the start is a recording (done on my mobile) of Walter telling me, as he drove about putting some “juice” into a car battery! I’d planned to put more of such recordings into the album but sadly lost them all when a computer unexpectedly died.

Purple Blue

There’s a great story behind this song …My Grandparents got married during WW2 and unfortunately Grandad’s regiment had been infected with a rare case of scabies. The choice was to either call off the wedding or be painted from head to toe in a purple iodine solution! You can guess what happened. This was first song that started off the SFW project, written on a really old three stringed guitar that lived at my partner’s parents house!

Moon/Two Out Of Ten

Walter hated space travel! He thought it was a waste of money when the world is in such a state. He had a subscription to National Geographic magazine and would give scores to all the articles. Any article concerning things beyond the Earth’s atmosphere would never get more than two out of ten.

The Three Legged Race

My Grandparent’s met at a Sports day put on by their employers (Crawford’s biscuits.) The pair chose each other to run together in the three legged race and they won! This was the very start of their 74 year relationship! It was the same day that the Mersey tunnels opened. This is a really old tune dating back till about 2009. Originally, I was hell bent on starting the record but it’s just not a suitable opener! The electric guitars were recorded at a ridiculously high volume.

Flowers On The Windowsill

Another early song that details the eccentricities of Walter Hulme, written shortly after he died. Whenever I went to visit a great deal of time would be spent re-arranging floral displays on the windowsill of his living room.

Watch The Dogs

I wrote this one in 2011 right in the midst of my total obsession with Smog/Bill Callahan I was influenced by how abstract BC’s lyrics are and yet how they are often tied to a theme. I guess some of the lines are about the influence of Walter on me but people can interpret this one however they like!

Competition, Diffidence and Glory

I was very close to my Grandfather but we fell out for a brief spell after I became very involved with politics. I went to protests and switched my university course to politics from geography. Walter was not impressed. I was labelled an anarchist and accused of damaging the fabric of society. The second verse “…you give that shit up…” is a direct quote! He also was a firm believer in revenge hence the “eye for an eye line,” something I don’t necessarily agree with. The title is a famous quote from Thomas Hobbes’s Leviathan, a book I studied at Uni. It was written on the guitar and then covered on to Banjo later!

Final Project

This song concerns the last year or so of my Grandparent’s lives. My Grandmother’s health declined rapidly in the last few years and Walter took on the roll as full time carer (and he wouldn’t have had it any other way!) I’d often ring him and he’d say he’d been up in the night eight, nine times putting her on the toilet etc. It must have been an exhausting time for him. He didn’t really ever complain about it, it was just something that he had to do. When he died my Uncle and Dad wrote a brilliant eulogy that really influenced the lyrics and titles of this album the title of this was lifted from there.

‘Songs For Walter’ debut album is available to buy on vinyl, CD and DL here:
http://songsforwalter.bandcamp.com/album/songs-for-walter

Elle Mary & The Bad Men – Ocean

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It was always my intention to give Tru Luv a distinctly more independent voice… with a clear focus on self-discovery, rather than acting as a mouthpiece for PR companies. In trying to document our personal relationships with music, and by having no commercial agenda; we’re hopefully becoming a trusted destination for new artists.

Elin Rossiter aka Elle Mary was one of my first Tru ‘loves’, and it’s been a pleasure to watch her musical progression these past few months. Elle was never going to find herself surrounded by hype, instead her music would slowly seep into into people’s consciousness… forming a real and lasting connection with her fans. Having previously released the undeniably beautiful Angels, follow-up single Ocean only reinforces my belief that Elle Mary is one of Manchester’s most talented individuals. With repeated listens, the subtle nuances of Elle’s voice become apparent, each word carrying an emotional strength that belies her age. The echoing percussion and shimmering chords provided by The Bad Men, add a slow burning tension, swirling in conflict. In letting us hear her unguarded thoughts, Elle Mary offers hope when there is none… and for that I am very grateful.

Elle Mary & The Bad Men play The Eagle Inn tonight. Tickets here.
Limited Edition CD/Poster copies of Ocean/Angels will be available to purchase.

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https://www.facebook.com/ellemarymusic

Phill Young

Willis Earl Beal – For A Friend

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The passing of time often goes by unnoticed; days become nights, weeks become years… we see the changes happening all around us and yet we try to convince ourselves we’re not really changing too. Before you know it, you find yourself looking at a face you don’t really recognise. Today is my Birthday, and I am looking into the mirror. My immediate reaction is one of repulsion, closely followed by fascination… love and finally, relief… because I’m still here, trying to be the best person I can be.

Willis Earl Beal is trying too. An artist who speaks with an unparalleled honesty, his music touches me on a very personal level. It’s hard not to relate to a man that has seemingly lived his life searching, creating… adapting. Beal’s story so far is almost mythological.. raised in Chicago, he joined the army and was discharged, worked a succession of low-paid jobs… even spending some time homeless. He left self-illustrated flyers around town in the hope of finding a girlfriend. He auditioned for the X Factor (dropping out at boot-camp) before being signed by XL imprint Hot Charity… releasing two albums, Acousmatic Sorcery and Nobody Knows to critical acclaim. The fame that followed seemed to have a negative effect and acknowledging this, Beal retreated back into his art (and loneliness) to write his latest work; the self-produced and released Experiments In Time. This 21 track collection of lo-fi recordings breathes new life into Beal’s soulful voice, which at times echoes the warm tones of Nat King Cole. A tender vulnerability is found throughout the album, and as such makes it emphatically and heart-breakingly relatable.

Experiments In Time: The Golden Hour is available now: http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/willisearlbeal3

https://www.facebook.com/willisearlbeal

Phill Young

Lake Komo – Ritual

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Lancaster’s Lake Komo appeared to me like a speck of sunlight breaking through the clouds. Although only in demo form, Ritual is a beautiful piece of work; folk music with an experimental edge. Vocally it starts off earthy and wounded before becoming something more synthetic.. a clear hint that they don’t want to be confined by the restrictions of organic instrumentation. Fans of Grizzly Bear and Bon Iver will find much to admire in their musicianship… rich and layered arrangements which carefully balance these alternative urges with pop sensibility. You get the feeling they could go ‘big’ if they really wanted to… the emotion is certainly there for them to work with; full of frustration and longing right up until it’s conclusion.

It’s always dangerous to fall in love so easily… but in this case I think it’s going to work out just fine.

https://www.facebook.com/lakekomo

Phill Young

David Thomas Broughton & Juice – In Service

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David Thomas Broughton has always been an enigma – his first record ‘The Complete Guide To Insufficiency'(2005) was a complex creation, an intimate collection of material that certainly deserved it’s critical acclaim. The haunting sadness of ‘An Ever Rotating Sky’ will long stay in the memory, swirling in tension… Broughton’s hypnotic vocal resembling Antony Hegarty with a Yorkshire lilt; his delivery always captivating.

Now residing in Seoul, South Korea, his recorded output often seemed a little at odds with his live performances… which are confrontational and at times awkwardly weird. But look beyond this initially theatrical exterior, and you can start to relate his behaviour with the inwardly intense themes of his music. ‘In Service’ taken from the forthcoming album ‘Sliding The Same Way'(Song By Toad Records) is a self-conscious and introspective display of his own failings. Made in collaboration with The Juice Vocal Ensemble and recorded together in a few hours in David’s home town of Otley, this semi-improvised track is a marriage made in heaven, wrapped up in a devastating and reflective beauty.

Pre-Order here: http://songbytoadrecords.com/david-thomas-broughton/sliding-the-same-way/

https://www.facebook.com/davidthomasbroughton

Phill Young

Eaves – Pylons

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There is something very compelling about the music of Leeds based artist Joseph Lyons, and I was gutted to miss his recent performance for Now Wave at Sounds From The Other City. Eaves melancholy compositions are built around a beautifully fragile vocal that still manages to provide warmth and comfort. Pylons is no exception, exposing a raw quality that other artists struggle to find. The intimate nature of his work is balanced with exceptional songwriting craft, that could see him propelled into the spotlight.

https://www.facebook.com/JosephEavesMusic

Phill Young

Carol Anne McGowan – Liar for Love

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I’ve been feeling pretty detached recently, uncomfortable and bored with modern life… I’m barely functioning. Having withdrawn to my bedroom in the hope I might find some sort of salvation, Irish folk singer Carol Anne McGowan was the best kind of discovery, the kind that fills my heart with warmth. Liar for Love is a haunting, hypnotising track that I almost didn’t share because I wanted to keep it to myself. Her voice feels reassuringly familiar, understated and timeless. It’s not the kind of music that demands the spotlight, but it sure deserves it.

https://www.facebook.com/CarolAnneMcGowan

Phill Young

Field Division – Faultlines

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Evelyn Taylor Hiatt and Nicholas Frampton make up Nashville, Tennessee based folk-wave duo Field Division. Their blissful music runs high on soulful harmonies and rapturous textures, occupying the gulf between the likes of Feist, Bon Iver, Other Lives and Rumours era Fleetwood Mac. Originally from Des Moines, Iowa, the vast natural landscape, valleys and rivers of their hometown exert a powerful influence over their sound, producing a grand and expansive effect.

Faultines is exquisite and elegantly arranged. A delicately woven tapestry of guitars, keys and tribal-esque beats carve out an off-kilter, upbeat groove, echoing the triumphant gallop of Ennio Morricone – this is prairie music of the highest order. Hiatt’s enchanting, bittersweet, hook-laden vocals float on a wave of reverb luring you in like a siren – you won’t be able to resist. A flawless opening statement from a band with far-reaching appeal.

http://fielddivision.bandcamp.com/

Paul Baird

Sophie Sparken – Trouble

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Manchester based musician Sophie Galpin has had an interesting career these last few years, being involved with two local success stories PINS (drums) and Embers (violin). With that in mind, I was excited to discover this relatively unheard solo material from the multi-instrumentalist on soundcloud, which is devastatingly good.

Trouble is a masterclass in songwriting: beautifully structured with subtle orchestration and a voice that shines throughout.

Phill Young

Lucy & The Caterpillar – Roads

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Lucy & The Caterpillar is a name you might be familiar with, having been a regular around the Manchester music scene a few years ago, earning herself much mainstream press in the process. I always feared she might find herself being pigeonholed as “twee” but after taking a two year hiatus from her musical project, she’s thankfully added depth and maturity to her songwriting. With new material being promised, this demo of Roads shows her vocals to be more refined and her lyrics more intimate. An impressive return.

http://www.facebook.com/lucyandthecaterpillar

Phill Young