“The End” is a new standalone track by the wonderful Daughter, from the recent Not To Disappear sessions, I can understand why it was left off the album track listing but I’m very glad it’s been shared now, it’s absolutely bloody wonderful.
There’s typical melancholy to be found, not only in the songs title but in its lyrics too ‘I’m too busy moping around” but the propulsive melody and swarming, explosive guitar sounds pretty different to anything on the album and would possibly have detracted from the album thematically, go listen to “The End” as knock out solo track now though, you won’t be disappointed.
Daughter tours the UK at the end of the month supported by the wonderful Wilsen, I’m annoyed to be away on the Brixton date...
“Doing The Right Thing” is the first single to be taken from Daughter’s forthcoming new album Not To Disappear, which will be released on the 15th January 2016 via 4AD/Glassnote. That news alone should fill you with excitement and once you’ve immersed yourself within this track countless times, no doubt the anticipation with ratchet up a few levels more.
Coupled with a real tear-jerker of a video “Doing The Right Thing” takes the poignancy and emotion of Elena Tonra’s lyrics to unparalleled highs, amongst unfurling guitar shimmers and darkened atmosphere the track tackles the issues dementia and the pains of loneliness "I'm fearing one day soon that I'll lose my mind" she starts before the powerful lines of "then I'll lose my children, then I'll lose my love, then I'll sit in silence let the pictures soak out of television” hit hard.
Heavyweight and heartbreaking for sure but exquisite and beguiling too, Daughter is one of those artists we’ve got to be very, very grateful to have.
Chelsea Wolfe has been one of the most prolific artists of the last few years; two studio albums, a live release and an acoustic album (as well as a split 7" and tribute EP) all in a relatively short period of time and with never a sign of dropping quality either (and worldwide tours on top). Not one to rest on her laurels Chelsea released her third album Pain Is Beauty in September this year and it might have come as a little shock at first for fans, sure you can instantly recognise Chelsea Wolfe, it's eerie, haunting and made it the dark but it sounds altogether different to anything heard previously. Instead of dirty, sludgy riffs swathed in distortion and the doom-laden drums there's predominantly a stark, minimalist electronic sound to the album and it works perfectly.
"The Warden" sees a thin, ethereal vocal whisper float over stark, industrial beats and glittering synths, its ominously beautiful yet powerfully hypnotic, similarly both "Reins" and "Sick" are full of eerie, droning soundscapes with a cinematic atmosphere that could soundtrack a nightmarish film while "House of Metal" is staggeringly brilliant built around looping electronics and twinkling glockenspiel-esque sounds, pulling you deeper and deeper into Chelsea's immersive world.
There are moments where the scope and ambition far surpasses anything that has come before it, both "Feral Love" and "Kings" are full of electronic energy with a brooding repetition and insurmountable amounts of tension building, the night is long and full of terror indeed while "The Waves Have Come" surpasses both in terms size and scope, an absolute behemoth of a track.
Guitars do make an appearance of course, "We Hit A Wall" is full of echoey guitar patters and doom-laden drums whilst closing track "Lone" is a soft acoustic lament that recalls lasts years Unknown Rooms album, all in all Pain Is Beauty soon becomes the most fully realised Chelsea Wolfe album from a prolific artist at the top of her game.
Lanterns on the Lake's 2011 debut Gracious Tide, Take Me Home was a stunning introduction to a beautiful, expansive group. The Newcastle quintet returned (with a slightly different line-up) in early September with Until The Colours Run, an album that takes their cinematic and emotive song-craft to an even higher level with sweeping, progressive atmosphere and pure, majestic beauty.
Opener "Eloide" sets the tone with a slow-burn build the ideal combination of beautiful quiet and aural storm, its bedazzling instrumentation shimmers and the heart-melting vocals of singer-songwriter Hazel Wilde remain in perfect unison as it aims straights for your guts. "The Buffalo Days" similarly beguiles with its vocals firmly at the fore around restrained acoustic guitar and a creeping mist of haunting instrumentation which only adds to the delicate, natural sounding melody.
The title track sounds as dynamic and fresh as anything the quintet have released so far, sweeping you off your feet with kaleidoscopic instrumentation bustling with life, bright and dramatic it's in direct contrast with the albums next track "Green and Gold", the most heart-stirring of moments where Hazel takes solitary control with here soft, twinkling piano keys, emotive vocals and the most intimate of lyrics ("well this was the part where you picked up and started again, you learn fear is just a fleeting thing"...). It's quite devastating.
The albums centre-piece though is "Another Tale From Another English Town", a track which manages to encompass together everything you think of when you think of Lanterns on the Lake, a luscious, tinged-in-melancholy track where strings swoon over gentle but gripping landscapes. In summary Until The Colours Run is a complete delight and the perfect accompaniment to a nice long drink of whisky - I don't think there is a highest compliment to be paid than that!
I've written a lot about Daughter since my initial introducing post in November 2010, two and a half years later an expanded trio released their debut If You Leave and with it fulfilled all those superlatives and some more with the most potent combination of intimate song-writing, widescreen instrumentals and one of the most emotional and haunting voices in music.
"Youth" is the track which has most come to signal both the bands progression and that of their fan-base, the track has grown since its original place on The Wild Youth EP with textured drums, shimmering guitars and a pulsating heartbeat more prevalent than ever, characteristics of the progressive Daughter sound, yet still Elena's lyrics remains as bare-souled and enchanting as ever, striking hard with a pure-affecting vulnerability and heartbreaking power. When I heard the track met with a huge roar of excited squeals at recent live shows, the sort of squeals you'd normally associate with X Factor type acts, the trio's journey was made real, Elena's little giggle and smile summed up their feelings perfectly too.
The rest of the album is a masterclass in wounded, confessional lyrics which provide goosebumps moments at almost every turn, "Smother" tugs at your heart strings with its vulnerable guitar lines, the fragile "Shallows" is as tender and restrained as it gets and "Tomorrow's" slow-burn ambient electronic washes provide an emotional overload, slowly swelling around incremental progression as glacial guitars and rumbling percussion gradually become the focus of the track.
"Human" provides a fiery rest-bite to the intimacy but it is the stark, wounded lyrics and Elena's gorgeous voice, capable of healing any number of wounds that stays with you longest when this exceptional debut is over.
Laura Marling, it is incredible to think that she is still only 23, already possesses a timeless collection of material and is armed with the ability to bring together people from all warps of life in awe of her talent and masterful song-writing skills. Her fourth album Once I Was An Eagle came out in the Spring and is, for me at least, the sign of an artist taking a mighty step up from already impressive highs and producing her most consistent piece of work to date.
Instrumentally stark the focus is on Laura's guitar and words with the odd bit of carefully-placed drums or orchestral swelling, it's darker and heavier than anything Laura's released before and there's also an excellent use of space and prose throughout. Once I Was An Eagle is an album in every sense of the word, it can be a demanding experience and it commands to be listened to as one, in fact the first five tracks play into one another like an epic story, the triple hit of "I Am An Eagle", "You Know" and "Breathe" mark the highlights for me, rising and falling with rich flourishes of depth, beauty and adventure. Laura's voice is distinctive and powerful enough to hold your attention and the lyrics combine to be a cohesive one. It's near pefection.
Elsewhere there are moments of true beauty like "Once", a simple and beguiling beauty. The solo acoustic tracks are arguably where Laura strikes hardest and here her plucks and devastating tone are pure, heartfelt and beautiful while "Master Hunter" shows the other side of Laura's arrangements, dazzling around bold, organic percussion.
There are more breath-taking moments too such as "Little Love Caster" and the closing track "Saved These Words". In total it's sixteen tracks and over an hour long with a deep, powerful narrative that keeps on giving and still leaves me breathless (even after hearing the tracks a good twenty times or so). In summation, what we have is an extraordinary piece of work from one of this generation's true stars - simply a magnificent achievement.
I actually have a decent night sleep and Saturday soon arrives, the kids are nice enough to lie-in until almost eight o'clock and it's already pretty warm. Shorts are definitely the order of the day and we had for breakfast on the double decker bus - the queue is long but the bacon sandwich and coffee soon make up for it.
We head for the craft area again and my five year old has the time of her life first decorating a record with paint, then colouring in on a massive colouring board and then after she spends a full hour and a half making a Bobby Dazzler doll - all free of charge.
I take the little one for a walk around the woods and have another coffee sitting under a tree - there's all sorts of installations and things hidden in trees to discover (a picture below a homage to Scooby Doo perhaps) as well as peacocks roaming around freely - a perfect chilled out morning is had.
At half one we head for music, it's nice when a band are clearly enjoying themselves and that's obviously the case with Laish a Brighton quintet I'd not seen since The Great Escape in 2012.
Their sound is hard to pigeonhole, it's more than your standard folk-rock band - sparked with life, booming percussion, string flourishes, wry lyrics and the delicious backing harmonies of Emma Gatrill (who I've featured here a few times) and Martha Rose all combine with impeccable ease.
Daniel Green drives it all forward with a voice that rises in fall in accordance with the instrumentation, from soft and gentle to soaring peaks. The audience is well sized and the people next to me rush to the stage after the show to take Daniel up on his offer of a free hug.
We stop for lunch, a game of Pucket (a board of which we later buy and now finds itself sitting on my table) and a drink. After an easy hour we head to the Garden Stage in full sunshine to see Angel Olsen. I had listened to her briefly beforehand and was expecting a stunning voice and heart-breaking songs and that we were, but her hour long set was much better than that.
Absolutely sublime from start to end, as beguiling vocal and intimate performance as you could hope to witness, Angel in complete control throughout, her guitar plucking combines modern contemporary folk with a timeless singer-songwriter sound that could have been written some sixty years ago. In this weather as Angel fights with a full sun in her view her sad, forlorn songs could easily find new meaning, either way it's hypnotic and devastatingly beautiful. The silence from the crowd confirms they're hooked to her every word too.
We take another mini break before the busiest two hours of the day. It's unfortunate that four acts I really wanted to see (all four featured in my pre-festival picks) clash heavily. I decide to catch some, if not all, of all four so we make our way to the Tipi Tent for Golden Fable.
The sound and environment is perfect for them and they sparkle with precise beats puncturing their soaring melodies, it's both expansive and enchanting with Rebecca's beautiful vocals casting a potent spell over the crowd. Five songs in when I decide it's time to head to the main stage I'm completely torn. Thankfully the decision is made easier as I'm seeing the band again in just a couple of weeks and so I head to the main stage for Warpaint, one of the weekends main attractions.
Things aren't quite right from the outset, the start is slightly delayed with technical hiccups, it unfortunately sets the tone for the gig. Muddy sound and perhaps the bands slight rustiness mean the guitar textures and harmonies don't really click until three of four songs in with "Undertow". There are four new tracks in the set, a couple introduce an electronic sound, one very 80's and I'll definitely need to hear them again. I love this band and have seen them a dozen times already but I struggle to really connect with this performance. As Emily takes up a solo finale of "Baby" I return to the Tipi Tent and discover the rather brilliant Freedom lager, it goes down far too easily. (One niggling complaint I'll mention now was the queues for the real ale tent - I think the demand was underestimated).
I'm here for Anna Von Hausswolff and I regret missing the first fifteen minutes of her set, it soon become the highlight of the weekend (along side David Byrne & St Vincent), as compelling and breathtaking as anything I've seen in a long while.
The quintet of musicians form a semi circle around the stage with Anna on one side hunched aside her organ. "Mountains Crave" utterly transfixes before the rest of the set manages to somehow raise the intensity even more so. Striking vocals and shimmering, searing instrumentation from her wonderful band (especially the drummer) make for a vast and dramatic sound that makes the audience react like very few I've witnessed during a festival set - completely hypnotised by its spellbinding brilliance there's no sound at all until the conclusion when Anna receives a huge applause, I don't think anyone was ready for it to end.
I head to the Garden Stage next for Daughter, I only manage to catch the last five songs and it's incredible to see quite how much Daughter have grown. The announcement of "Youth" is met with teenage squeals normally reserved for the likes of Take That, Elena' smiles at it too. What I hear is as emotional and haunting as I've become accustomed to. There's a massive crowd too, everyone grabs onto the warm and beauty the band deliver with such effortless ease.
Afterwards I return to the Tipi for more beer and check out Sigur Ros. I decide it's not really for me, take a little wander and then decide I'm old and as I know the kids will me waking me up early I head back to the tent - an early conclusion perhaps but another overwhelmingly satisfactory day ends.
My first post since returning from End of the Road Festival (a review should hopefully follow by the end of the week) so it makes perfect sense to feature one of the artists I saw there, Daughter. An act who have risen dramatically in size over the past eighteen months or so, in terms of fan-base and sound alike, from Elena's solo folk-ish beginnings (do make sure you've listened to the breathtaking "Peter") to the widescreen soundscapes that dominate throughout their debut album If You Leave.
The trio's latest single "Youth" (a track which itself first appeared back in 2011 on the EP The Wild Youth) has been mentioned here on a few occasions so I'll focus on the releases flip side, a new track called "Smoke". It (of course) revels in slow-building, haunting intimacy, with sparse atmosphere and sultry, emotive vocals once again the signature tones, it's something Daughter deliver with exceptional, heart-felt beauty and grace and once again I find myself left feeling weak at the knees (and long may it continue).
The single is available now on limited 7" and you can catch the band on an extensive worldwide tour between now on November - head to their label 4AD for a list of dates and order points.
I've been a little bit slack with Festivals this year (granted my failures with Glastonbury was out of my control) but aside from The Great Escape and a couple of one day festivals (one of them this weekend in Portsmouth where I'll be seeing The Joy Formidable and Charlotte Church) I've not actually done a 'proper' festival until now. End of the Road was one of the highlights of this year and I think this one may be even better. In my opinion it is the line-up of the summer, add in a relaxed atmosphere and loads of real ale tents and what more could you possibly want - yes sun (fingers crossed on that one).
The next two posts will see me pick a dozen acts to check out over the weekend which is now just a week away. I certainly plan on doing so. You'll see which I actually do and what else I get up to (well not everything) in my post weekend review. Anyway, straight onto it:
Not the most unique of starts I know but an essential act to see at the festival this year is Daughter. Her album If You Leave is a sure-fire inclusion in my 'favourite albums of the year' lists and is surely, if there is any justice, up for consideration for many other peoples too - a heart-wrenching, beguiling, emotive, bedazzling experience from start to finish - live they manage to hit places long though lost with their potent combination of glacial guitar textures and beautifully intimate vocals. Unmissable.
Whilst I'm on blindingly obvious choices lets throw another in, a UK festival exclusive sees Warpaint hit these shores for the first time in 2013. A set that is sure to include a few new tracks amongst their spellbinding existing material, we've not been treated to any of the new stuff yet (given a UK tour set for October I'm certainly expecting to hear something soon) but given the history of this LA quartet, I've no worries about it being a perfect continuation of their delicious harmonies and beautifully textured rhythms.
Golden Fable - Facebook Tipi Tent Stage - Saturday
I finally got to see Golden Fable at The Great Escape and was blown away metaphorically and almost literally too. I was pretty close to a speaker stack and their live sound is a lot bigger than I previously anticipating, combining the majestic vocals of Rebecca Palin's with Tim McIver's instrumentation and some extraordinary drums - the band are currently busy recording their second album and I'm sure we'll be treated to a few new songs next week.
Come see them and be blown away.
Anna Von Hausswolff - Facebook Tipi Tent Stage - Saturday
An altogether new act for me discovered by delving into the line-up, Anna Von Hausswolff released her second album Ceremony in June, a captivating, uncompromising vision of darkness and the morose.
"Deathbed" takes four minutes to introduce Anna's typically haunting vocals, starting with a creeping organ which can be quite frightening whilst "Mountains Crave" is about as accessible as it gets, a cinematic melody and beautiful soaring vocal delivery. The record ebbs and flows throughout (from "Red Sun's" brooding power to "Liturgy of Light's" soft guitar textures).
Perhaps an even more challenging than Soap&Skin - I think it promises to be a quite extraordinary performance.
Indie pop darlings (sorry) Allo Darlin' are sure to bring summer to Larmer Tree Gardens no matter what the weather is as Friday draws to a close.
I recently saw the quartet at The Buffalo Bar and caught a wonderful set with highlights from last years Europe, their debut and a helping of new tracks too. Expect to see dancing and singing along. Fun times a guarantee.
Widowspeak - Facebook Big Top Stage - Sunday (to be confirmed - Widowspeak's website suggests Friday)
I think the band are on a duo tour so this Widowspeak show might be a little different to the one I recently saw at Cargo, what is guaranteed though is the irresistible vocal purr of Molly Hamilton and spidery guitar patterns that will temporarily transfer the audience to a hazy, American west. Widowspeak are a wonderful live band who are not to be missed.
Will I get shot down if I say I can take or leave Daft Punk... This however is wonderful, Daughter's take on their latest track "Get Lucky" sees them switch out the funk-laden groove for a typically (for them) experimental, atmospheric one where stark, restrained instrumentation and Elena's hauntingly beautiful vocals cause goosebumps from the moment you press play (and then press it again because it's so good).
You probably know I'm a big Daughter fan if you've read this blog for a while. The Church shows of the early 2013 tour have been switched for much bigger venues for their October one with a heap of festival dates before - full dates. If you haven't got Daughter's debut full-length If You Leave yet - why?! - Get it here.
The latest single to be taken from the album, the deceptively upbeat "Human" is released today on limited 7" with an exclusive track "Drift", I can't wait for the postman to arrive so I can hear it! (Rough Trade order link for "Human").
A new feature (although I previously tried something similar) that may or may not continue with time dependent. Basically the idea is a summation post where I give all of or some of my favourite things from the month. It could be an EP, an album, a gig or a discovery made. It doesn't have to be from this month either, just when I happen to come across it. Then it wouldn't be me without adding a bit of waffling praise. It all sounds utterly self-pleasing but hopefully you might find something which you agree with. As ever these sort of things are highly liable to change. Let's give it a try anyway...
Gig(s) of the month. Daughter - St Mary's Church, Brighton - January 17th Serafina Steer - St Leonards Church, Shoreditch - January 24th
January was quieter than normal for me, in fact I only went to five gigs, probably less than half my normal monthly return. It was quality other quantity though with my favourite of the month so close between Serafina Steer's majestic album launch at St Leonard's Church in Shoreditch last week and Daughter's set at St Mary's in Brighton that I've decided not to attempt to split them.
Both were impeccable sets delivered by incredible singer/songwriters, Daughter's spine-tingling show highlighted everything you've already read about her/them. Elena's haunting vocals and bruised, intimate song-writing alongside subdued percussion and shimmering textures. It had St Mary's completely silent, half in awe, half just enjoying the moment.
Serafina Steer's show was equally wonderful. For this, her album release gig, her delicate harp patterns are joined by a string quartet and a whole host of other musicians, one of which was none other than Jarvis Cocker (he produced the album too - more on that below). He joined Serafina for three tracks, one on guitar, one on tambourine and vocals and another on a wind-up air machine. Incredible.
So was the show, serenely beautiful at times and other eccentric and fun, "Disco Complitation" and the Jarvis duet "The Removal Man" especially, the highlight though Serafina's gorgeous, dream voice, it pulls you and sends you off to a better place. Much like the album, head to the next paragraph for that!
Album(s) of the month.
Serafina Steer - The Moths are Real
I try and avoid album reviews for the reason simple reason that I'm not very good at them so I'll try and avoid that trap here (too much). I first came across Serafina Steer on her Bloody Hell EP a couple of years back and it's a track re-worked from that EP that blows you away first...
"Night Before Mutiny" is arguably too good to be an opening track, it completely blows you away and leaves the rest of the album an almost impossible task of competing with it. Something The Moths are Real generally manages to achieve through with a striking collection of brilliant folk-ish tracks (it's not really an album you can define to any particular genre) and Serafina's inventive, story-telling lyrics.
The emphasis throughout is on Serafina's voice with fluttering harp often leading beautiful melodies, with the odd bit of quirky instrumentation thrown in for good measure, never better than on the funk-laden "Disco Compilation" and "The Removal Man", a track so witty and good that I'm sure co-vocalist Jarvis Cocker would love to snap it up for a (forthcoming? please!) Pulp album. "Ballad of Brick Lane" is softer and gentle ballad and after an amusing start "Skinny Dripping" turns to a pastoral, tender beauty. 2013, you might only be one month old but you've started off alright to me.
Runner up.The Joy Formidable - Wolf's Law.
I'm finding it really hard to review Wolf's Law, if you know me and this blog at all you may know my love affair with The Joy Formidable goes back a good three years now and in that time I've seen them forty-odd times with a handful more to come over the next month. That makes being subjective quite difficult...
I'm going to serve a review here too, I'll possibly do one when I'm happy with it. Wolf's Law is definitely more of a grower than TJF's earlier work and it's the softer, tender moments that are my early highlights. "Silent Treatment" and "Wolf's Law" I already knew from live airing but it's the string-laden "The Turnaround" that strikes me most, woozy and gorgeous, it highlights the power of Ritzy's voice, restrained and beautiful perfectly. "Forest Serenade" is perhaps the closest to the bands earliest work, energetic and powerful with a killer, joyful (pun intended) chorus. Anyway, I promised I wouldn't do a review and this is in danger of turning into one.
I love this band, buy their album and more importantly see them live, you won't regret it.
Single / track(s) of the month.
Can't split these two I am afraid.
David Bowie - Where Are We Now?
Ask anybody one month ago if we'd have a new Bowie album due in the first quarter of 2013 and I'm sure they'd have laughed at you. Everybody would have been wrong too because we do.
The first preview from it "Where Are We Now?" is instantly Bowie, reflective and philosophical from the get-go, a moody track with a brooding whisper to his vocals that reminds me of some Heathen work, vulnerable and beautiful, Bowie has kept us all guessing and returns from apparent exodus to blow our minds. The album apparently contains a couple of heavier tracks that will do more than that - I can't find the link to the article on that on just now, sorry.
If you've been on Mars, head to Bowie's website to find out more about The Next Day, due March 11th - I cannot wait.
Prince - Screwdriver
After Rock & Roll Love Affair towards the end of last year I got excited thinking that Prince was back, it sounded like the Prince we all love (well not all), like a lost song from The Revolution and better than much of his post The Rainbow Children output (which in my opinion is a criminally underrated record). Sure Prince has turned in a few good tracks in those years, Guitar, F.U.N.K., Dance 4 Me, Black Sweat all jump straight to mind but his albums have lacked any consistency. Now though, perhaps, the signs are looking good...
Latest single "Screwdriver" makes it two for two, after an incredible short live cut of the track was released via the 3rdEyeGirl youtube channel a few weeks ago highlighting a raw, guitar led jam. The actual single came last week via the video embedded below. Whilst not as raw, a Chaos & Disorder esque version would be amazing, the single still rocks out and is nothing short of great, with a female trio making up his new backing band (3rd Eye Girl?) "Screwdriver" is full of playful and suggestive exuberance, characteristics nobody does better than Prince. The Guardian say everything better than me so I'll keep that short and sweet.
His new website looks cool too, but that said I'm still feeling bitter about however much money I wasted on Prince's Lotusflow3r website a few years and shall not be early-adopting to any potentially new pay-for-play sites just yet...
EP of the Month.
Sea of Love - So Loud
I gave this one a glowing review already on my Introducing feature so I'll keep it brief and just tell you to go and buy the limited to 300 10" vinyl.
So Loud is an affecting EP that leaves you longing for more... stark soundscapes and spine-tingling intimacy, displaying heart-wrenching fragility of love lost around a haunted wall of sound and delicate guitar nuances.
Below is the video which introduced Sea of Love to me, make sure you've seen it too...
La Luz - Damp Face
Another EP I've reviewed this month so I'll keep this short and rely on copy and paste (head to the original post for a better write-up). Actually from 2012 but I didn't discover La Luz until a earlier this month. Their debut EP Damp Face is ace...
A Ennio Morricone homage is the hazy "Clear Night Sky" with spidery guitar patterns that jangle and twang around an infectious, creepy melody while the closing track is another stunner, "Easy Baby" slows things down with a languid, lazy day melody and brings those Spector girl groups straight back to the fore with gorgeous backing harmonies, super, super sweet.
Discovery of the Month.
There's been some good discoveries this month so this was a tough one, good have easily picked Waterbaby or Dog in the Snow or Torres but I'm going to go with Plaid Dragon, "Dog Physics" is just an incredible track.
The highlight of the EP though is the title track and closure, which spends three minutes of its duration as a blissful folk-ish tune, with languid instrumentation and mellow vocals before exploding in a cacophony of noise. A wonderful signal of intent with the five piece from Missouri due to release a follow up early this year.