Laura Marling #11 - False Hope

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When I first heard this track last night my instant response was something very similar to 'yes Laura, yes, yes, yes'.

It's incredible to think Laura Marling is about to release her fifth album, it doesn't feel all to long ago that we were listening to her debut as a shy, young singer/songwriter. Much has happened since (although she's still young, just a few weeks away from turning 25) and "False Hope", a track heard from Laura's new album Short Movie, due 23rd March (pre-order available here) adds a brand new palette to the overall sound. Sure we've heard her expand those folk influences before with full, thick dramatics but here she goes all-out, complete with searing, fuzzy guitars and galloping drums.

Of course, on a track titled "False Hope" your're rightly expecting lyrics that deal with heartache and anger and with verses that open "Is it still okay that I still don't know how to love/to be at all" that's what we are dealt, yet with Laura's rousing vocal you can't help think that the corner may about to be turned.

"Flase Hope" is a richly cinematic number that sees her embrace a wild, rockier sound and it genuinely excites me for moreI don't like to see artists standing still and Laura Marling has never done that, here she's unleashes a bit of inner Polly Jean Harvey, swathes of lush layers and reverb and I'm definitely not going to complain about that...

My Favourite 25 Albums of 2013: Part Five - 9-6

My Favourite 25 Albums of 2013: Part Five - 9-6

Direct Links to Albums (updated as they become live) : 25 - 22 // 21 - 18 // 17 - 14 // 13 - 10 // 9 - 6 // 5 - 2 // 1

9. Chelsea Wolfe - Pain Is Beauty

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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.



8. Lanterns on the Lake - Until The Colours Run

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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!



7. Daughter - If You Leave

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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.



6. Laura Marling - Once I Was An Eagle

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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.

Laura Marling #10 - I Was An Eagle/You Know (Live Video)

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Compiling my album of the year lists at the end of 2013 is going to be tough, I can say that with relative ease already, 2013 sees many of my long term favourite acts with releases out already or planned soon (Editors being the next).

An album that is a sure-fire to appear in those lists is Laura Marling, for me at least, she's taken a mighty step up from her already impressive highs with her fourth LP Once I Was An Eagle. I've talked about a few of the tracks here already so today I’m going to focus on a breathtaking live acoustic session of "I Was An Eagle/You Know"…

Here striped back, pure and simply sensational the two tracks from LP1 Side A of the record (or tracks two or three from the CD if you prefer), easily the best side of vinyl 2013 has given us so far, merge together effortlessly and are epic, soaring pieces of brilliance. Dark, sweeping and ringing with intensity throughout, Laura’s lyrically excellence is long undisputed, here her telling use of space and prose (even after hearing the tracks a good twenty times or so since release) still leaves me breathless. An extraordinary piece of work from one of this generation's true stars.

Laura recently announced (and them promptly sold-out) a series of 16 (yes sixteen) gigs in conjunction with Secret Cinema in a East London location, I'm going next Friday and I cannot wait.

You can order the album now - from LM store - you'd be foolish not to.





Laura Marling #9 - Master Hunter / When Brave Bird Saved

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Laura Marling, still only 23, just about to release her fourth album and already possessing the sort of timeless ability to bring together people from all genres in awe of her talent and incredible song-writing talent. Recent slots on Jools Holland and an eighteen minute film entitled "When Brave Bird Saved" (both posted below) have simply left me breathless, the film features the first four tracks from the forthcoming album Once I Was An Eagle (due May 27th - order for LM Store). With its vivid imagery accompanying songs exploring the darker themes for which Laura Marling has almost become accustomed to it is quite the watch and rewards those patient enough to sit still with music for eighteen minutes.

"I Am An Eagle" stands-out with stark, ambient instrumentation which rises and falls with rich flourishes which only add depth and beauty to it, the Jools Holland version of "Once" is simple and beguiling. Spared-back and solo is arguably where Laura strikes hardest and here her acoustic plucks and devastating tone are pure, heartfelt and beautiful. There's also a stream from the album online, "Master Hunter" is far away from the sparseness of the solo set, it dazzles with complex arrangements and organic percussion, bold, powerful and adventurous. Laura Marling, you are a Master indeed.





Latitude Festival 2012 - Preview Part Two

No waffle (I'm pretty short on time!) just straight into part two of my tips to see at Latitude Festival. Part one is here in case you missed it (and are interested).

Laura Marling - Facebook
Saturday 14th July - Obelisk Arena

A second to headline billing on the main stage for Laura Marling, a quite incredible rise for arguably Britain's most successful current singer/songwriter, with her recently announcing that her fourth album is written it's a rise that I can't see ending any time soon either...

The last time I saw her at Glastonbury last year a couple got engaged, expect similar declarations of love during her set at Latitude, Laura's three albums to date portray the vulnerability and versatility of her songcraft and beguiling voice, stark and haunting her staggering talent will be one of the stars of the weekend.




Daughter - Facebook
Sunday 15th July - The I Arena

Daughter's rise over the last eighteen months (although on a smaller scale to the above Ms Marling) has been equally impressive, from a self-released demo EP given away free to a small number of followers to a Mute signing and thirty seven thousand fans on facebook alone.

It's hardly surprising, I didn't do a best of 2011 EP's posting but if I had both Elena's releases His Young Heart and The Wild Youth would have featured highly and I'm sure Daughter was close to a spot on the BBC sound of 2012 list, perhaps the lack of exposure and instant success that demands is a good thing for her career...

Expect emotionally affecting heartbreaking moments and spine-tingling intimacy at her show at Latitude's I Arena, another I genuinely cannot wait for.



Tim Ten Yen - Facebook
Friday 13th July - The Lake Stage

Now something a bit different, I used to love Tim Ten Yen, unfortunately I've not seen him perform for a few years now but Latitude has given me the perfect time to correct my oversight. 


Back in 2006/7 I was obsessed with a band called Apartment (I still am, if only they'd found the success they deserved...) and Tim was a regular support act (Tim also played with David on one of his few solo shows since), his act basically (I keep using the past tense as I've not actually heard anything from him for over 24 months) comprised of Tim and an iPod along with his Sinister Cat (stuffed). 

Tim Ten Yen's show is a guarantee to brighten your mood and get you ready for the festival ahead, come and watch him, I promise you won't be disappointed.



I Break Horses - Facebook
Saturday 14th July - The I Arena

I'm very interested to see how I Break Horses go down at a festival, I've seen both their two London live shows so far and the second at Scala was a world apart from the first. Transforming the album Hearts into a seamless piece of art. Pulsating synths and drums perform the backbone as the tracks are stretched from the original state, somewhere in the mix the reverb-drenched vocals of Maria Lindén shimmer and shine.

Still a band in their infancy, I Break Horses are very much an act to grow up with and saviour in their journey. 




Zola Jesus - Facebook
Saturday 14th July - The I Arena

Another act I needn't cover in too much glory again (I've already done it countless times), Nika Roza Danilova's Zola Jesus returns to UK shores a year after the release of Conatus to headline Saturday's I Arena line-up.

Her incredible sound based around her bands harsh, metallic beats and Nika's colossal voice will create a menacing atmosphere that's dramatic, hypnotic and immediate.  One of the most prolific, incredible artists of our time Zola Jesus is an obvious pick and one you shouldn't miss.


Perfume Genius - Facebook
Sunday 15th July - The I Arena

My pick to close the festival, Mike Hadreas (Aka Perfume Genius) will close a stage which seems to have taken over this preview, The I Arena on Sunday, those of you wanting an intimate, captivating experience to end their weekend should look no further.

His recent show at St Pancras Old Church an indication of his talents,  sublime, it managed to leave the entire crowd in utter awe, bruised, plaintive and compellingly beautiful, just like his two albums so far.



Of course, I could have easily included Toy, SoKo, Lucy Rose, Smoke Fairies, The Staves and of course Bon Iver to name but a few of the other quality acts playing over the weekend - the line-up is that good. Cannot wait!


For the full line-up, last minute tickets and more head to Latitude's official website - http://www.latitudefestival.co.uk/

Laura Marling #8 - Sophia

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Laura Marling returns with her third album, 'A Creature I Don't Know' on September 12th, yesterday the first single had it's debut on Radio One and you can now listen to it below.

"Sophia" bears all Marling's trademarks, aching vocals instantly take to centre stage. The track starts slowly but gently and surely the tone of her voice and finger-plucking increases, driving acoustic propulsion gradually raising the tempo before her band enter taking the track to its climax with a rousing and beautiful crescendo.

The arrangement is amazing throughout, her voice from tender gorgeous to powerful certainty over the course of a few lines, it's certainly enough to wet the appetite. Listen:

Laura Marling - Sophia by ListenBeforeYouBuy

You can pre-order the album now and get ‘Sophia’ straight away from iTunes (with exclusive bonus track), alternatively order the CD here.

Laura has also annouced a Cathedral tour of the UK in November, dates can be found here.

Here's the accompanying live-drawn video for "Sophia":


We were previously treated to this preview of "A Creature I Don't Know", beautiful, I'm hoping the album version is of which ever track this is (on the tracklisting there is no title-track), is longer:

Just Music That I Like’s Twenty Five Favourite Albums of 2010 - Part Two

Just Music That I Like’s Twenty Five Favourite Abums of 2010 aka The Best 25 Albums of the Year Part Two

Direct Links to Albums: 25 - 21 // 20 - 16 // 15 - 11 // 10 - 6 // 5 - 1

20. Laura Marling - I Speak Because I Can
www.myspace.com/lauramarling

Order // Lyrically 'I Speak Because I Can' is much darker than Laura Marling's debut, her writing plays out of raw emotion, often melancholy and bleak but never boring.

Yet still only 20, this is a much more mature offering than her debut, she has grown in confidence both on and off stage. Her writing is more sophisicated, the ten tracks here show immense intelligence, portraying an incredibly talented and poetic lyricist with an unbelievably honest and beautiful voice.

There are some shimmering and wonderful arrangements here, the title track, "Rambling Man", "Blackberry Stone", you could go on. The lead single "Devil's Spoke" is perhaps the most 'nu-folk' track on the album. There is an almost Joni Mitchell quality to this, the insecurites of 'Alas I Cannot Swim' have been replaced with a strong, defiant tone. 

The second Laura Marling LP of 2010 never materialised, however I'm sure 2011 could well be another success for Miss Marling. If she so chooses to make it so, the world is hers.

Listen:


19. Anika - Anika
http://anika.bandcamp.com/album/anika

Order // Geoff Barrow of Portishead / Beak> produced Berlin/ Bristol/ London based artist Anika's self-title debut LP released at the end of last November through Stones Throw Records. The resulting collaboration is an raw, unsettling journey into a trippy world of early 80's post-punk, dub and 60's girl pop. Yet quite bizarrely this unique mash-up creates an overall cohesive sound and intense experience.

The opening, a dark, synthesised version of 60's girl group Twinkle's track "Terry" sets the tone perfectly, it's disconcerting, menacing and yet manages to retain the sound of a dubbed down pop song. The lyrics fit the overriding tone perfectly. "He rode into the night // accelerated his motorbike // I cried to him in fright // don't do it, don't do it, don't do it."

The Skeeter Davis classic "End of the World" has well and truly become the soundtrack of a post-apocalyptic dystopian future, this followed by sirens and a stuttering funk-lade bass in Yoko Ono' cover "Yang Yang" which make it sound like something lifted directly from 'Kill Bill'.

"Masters of War" (Bob Dylan) has the feeling of 'Unknown Pleasures' off-cut, a vague deeply threatening ambience with Anika's vocals sung with a nonchalant and unconcerned voice which makes it all the more sinister and creates a colossal sense of paranoia with a pulsating electronic throb overriding throughout.

'Anika' doesn't sounds like it was released in 2010, it's got all the hallmarks of an unearthed classic from the early 80's post-punk era, the original compositions especially the reggae infused "No One's There" stand side by side with some fantastically selected choice of classics, you'll never hear a Ray Davies song sound so haunting ever again. Highly recommended if you like your music dark, sinister and damn right unsettling.

Listen:



18. I Like Trains – He Who Saw the Deep

http://www.iliketrains.co.uk/

Order // The album released through the bands pledge campaign shows a wonderful maturity and progression in the sound of the band from their debut. It's not quite as bleak nor dark as previous outings yet still in touch with their melancholy post-rock roots. Arguably the best song is the new, longer version of late 2009 single "Sea of Regrets" which ironically is one that fits more with the earlier work, it's a slow burning majesty, full of sorrow that is probably the most affecting song on the entire I Like Trains catalogue.

"A Father's Son" shows the new streamlined iLT's in fine form, Simon Fogal's drumming comes through as a highlight pulling the song together, the same can be said for "Sirens" another of my favourites. For me though, it's Dave Martin's vocal which is the benchmark of Trains, his unique baritone voice is one of the best in the business, even if it's more hushed at times during this record than previously. As "Sea of Regrets" comes to it's momentous orchestral peak during with his repeated cries of "we're out of our depth here..." you can find yourself close to tears. It is that moving, that sublime.

Even though title track 'He Who Saw The Deep' shows more optimism and light than we've previously seen from the Trains boys, the album won't be for everyone, it's still not an entirely cheerful affair, but for anyone who a passing liking for British rock music, its an essential listen

Previously: Plenty to excite any I like Trains fan with numerous recordings here.

Listen:



17. Warpaint – The Fool
www.myspace.com/worldwartour


Order // I think it was a brave move for Warpaint not to include any any of the material off the brilliant 'Exquisite Corpses' EP on their debut album 'The Fool'. With songs such as "Billie Holiday", "Elephants" and "Beetles" in their arsenal the girls could easily have padded out an album with some chart friendly hits. "Undertow" aside, 'The Fool' is not as immediate, there are no other obvious singles here.

Instead the album highlights a much more sensual sound. The hypnotic, seductive sound of that characterises the Warpaint sound, for me, they've managed to faithfully recreate a feeling much akin to their mesmerising live shows.

'The Fool' has moments where it is sublime. The majestic (pardon the pun) "Majesty" is a six minute slow burner full of protruding electronic warps and a bass for heaven. "Composure" is all over the place, never maintaining a set rhythm and it works wonderfully, Theresa and Emily's vocal interplays are are a set theme of Warpaint and the playful dynamic is one of the bands main assets. "Set Your Arms Down" and "Warpaint" allow the girls time for some more experimental jams, these funky instrumental sections are really where Warpaint win you over.

Previously: Some wonderful videos, sessions and a couple of recordings in the archive.

Listen:




16. Mountain Man – Made the Harbor
http://mountainman.bandcamp.com/

Order // The debut release by Mountain Man is the polar opposite of what their name suggests. Those mental images of gruff, bearded men should be replaced by that of three fine young ladies, who with the aid of a solitary acoustic guitar produce some of the most simplistic yet at the same time, breathtaking music you’ll hear this year. Their harmonies are gorgeous, their songs flutter between hymnal and traditional in nature and the sparse instrumentation allows you to vividly create mental images of the mainly nature themed lyrics. At times you almost feel like you are out in the American wilderness with them.

The album flows cohesively and you are swept away by the beauty of the record, “Buffalo”, “Animal Tracks” star the record off on a high with simple yet and it maintains it right through to the end of “Babylon” and “River”. At times they come close to recreating the sound of wild birds their lyrics sing of with their harmonious oohs and ahs. Breathtaking.

The music of Mountain Man is that of transcending spiritual beauty. Let these three ladies into your life and you will fall in love.

Previously: Mountain Man archive. Highly recommended, a couple of wonderful recordings, sessions and videos to watch.

Listen:


STATE INTERVENTION #5 - Mountain Man from Bandwidth on Vimeo.

Direct Links to Albums: 25 - 21 // 20 - 16 // 15 - 11 // 10 - 6 // 5 - 1

Laura Marling #7 - I Speak Because I Can

http://www.lauramarling.com/
http://www.myspace.com/lauramarling
Buy I Speak Because I Can

I haven't posted about Laura Marling for a while after a prolific period in April / May - since then we've had a glorious performance at Glastonbury, a Mercury Music Prize nomination and news of new limited 7" covers single coming out on Jack White's label (order).

I think only The National have had more plays in my library in 2010 than Laura, it's not difficult to see why with just one listen to her. She certainly appears on the verge of even more recognition and mainstream success to eclipse what she has already received, and still only 20. These talented young folk make us oldsters feel sick!!!

Here is another lovely video, this time a wonderful live version of her second album's title track 'I Speak Because I Can'



And finally a performance of a new song for WNYC: