Sunday, March 16, 2008


Originally uploaded by Southcoasting

These are Mary Hampton's hands. The song Fare theewell ("the American song"...) is from her lovely first CD 'Book One' (Songs of Refusal). Looking forward to her new album later this year.

She's playing gigs on the east coast of the USA in early April, you lucky people.


Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Cloud bank

Three songs that have been on permanent rotation on my MP3 player this week.

Clouds for the stormy weather they've been seeing me through. Sunshine follows. Always.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Four new albums

Four new releases, all eagerly anticipated, and none of which disappoint.

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds - Dig Lazarus Dig

Apparently this is the 14th album from Nick and the Seeds, and he's just turned in a half-century in years but there are no signs of weakening, as this album is easily amongst his best. Lazarus builds on the yearning grunge of last year's Ginderman but makes that album seem like the dress rehearasal. Here a swaggering Nick creates the character of a lecherous sexually-driven rock star and his excellent lyrics gain the backdrop of the full Bad Seeds rollicking sound. (9/10)

Buy It!

The Mountain Goats - Heretic Pride

Some people have heard of John Darnielle's goats, and yet more people seem to have passed them by. Hopefully this album will change that, because it has stepped up from the raw simple beauty of the early MG sound to produce a terrific new landscape of America, fleshed out with some gorgeous music, including on occasion strings. It all works wonderfully, and the stories and people suck you into a mythical but familiar country. It is one where people live and love and move on (transportation is still a key JD theme) and feel real simple emotion. Anyone who thought they didn't like the Mountain Goats will have to re-evaluate their position after hearing this fabulous album. (9/10)

Destroyer - Trouble in Dreams

Dan Bejar is guitarist with the New Pornographers and seems to get around a few other bands too. His Destroyer are his main thing however and have been making albums since around 1996. A difficult band, but I have found their last few albums utterly engrossing. The State is not quite up there with Your Blues or Destryoer's Rubies but it continues the fascinating story of the mind of Dan Bejar. Not an easy place to inhabit, clearly, and often the lyrics here are frustrating and mysterious, but they tend to draw you in and engross you. The sound is the same as it always is with Destroyer, but that's a good thing - with a kind of 80s English indie aesthetic dominating the sound to my ears. (7/10)

Buy it!

Laura Marling - Alas I cannot Swim

There are a lot of female singer-songwriters around at the moment, which is wonderful but it means it's easy to dismiss the next one that comes along as just another in that genre. Laura Marling is different and a step above the pack. Ridiculously young to be writing such life-drenched songs, she has a rich lush folk style that is both familiar and haunting. You might not know it, but you will have heard the single Ghosts - "Lover , please, do not fall to your knees, it's not like I believe in everlasting love" - although it is in no way the most intersting song on this album. The album is full of gorgeous lyrics and melodies. If you like a simple moving female vocal with some delicious lush arrangements this album is for you. (8/10)