Category Archives: Folk

‘I’ve Been Worryin” That I Need To Update My Blog

Wow, what happened? It’s been months since I’ve been on here. Almost as if I’ve forgotten about this completely! However, don’t fear – my brain hasn’t ceased to whir. And, my music taste is as fantastic as ever, if not better – I still have a lot to write about!

So, my new favourite person has to be, Ben Howard. This amazing musician has taken over my speakers, and seemingly many others’ for the last few months, and since the release of his debut album, ‘Every Kingdom,’ I have been ever so slightly obsessed. This young man from Devon plays acoustic guitar in a very unique way, whether he’s slapping, whacking, strumming or tapping. However, there’s always one common theme. Whatever he does sounds absolutely AMAZING. This, combined with his Devonshire, but faintly Scottish-sounding accent and the soft harmonies provided by cellist India Bourne provides the ultimate music to relax, cry or celebrate to. Which is why I decided to go and see him this December at the Junction in Cambridge. And what a great decision that turned out to be.

Supporting was Brother&Bones, or rather their frontman – Rich Thomas. A lovely guy, with an uncanny resemblance to Dave Grohl and a voice just as powerful. He blew me away with his strength and emotion, and the sound quality was something I’ve never seen equalled for a warm up act. Check out ‘Back to Shore’ below for a taster of what Rich and Co. are capable of:

Ben Howard himself was a combination of relentless energy, mixed with soothing harmonies and chilled out ‘rain songs.’ Those which will become classics, such as ‘The Wolves’ and a very special extended version of ‘Keep Your Head Up’ which has now racked up well over 1,000,000 views on Youtube, had one of the best crowds I have heard in a long time screaming along with happiness. On the other hand, the slower songs were just as beautiful in their own right. Songs for ‘rainy days’ such as ‘Promise’ and ‘Everything,’ from which the album’s title derived, had the crowd, minus a couple of idiots determined to prove that they weren’t at  an ‘N-Duz’ gig, in awed silence. Ben showed his appreciation afterwards, saying ‘thanks for keeping quiet.’ This was fairly successful in keeping the other two shushed for the rest of the night!

That is something quite special about this man. He has an unexplained ability to simply make me smile – something which, these days, is quite rare to find with new music. And the crowd weren’t the only ones with a smile on their face. Ben Howard’s genuine disbelief at his reception on his first visit to Cambridge only made the move even better. And whilst he only had limited material, onstage for just over 75 mins, every second was golden. A quality of sound that was rare to find live, complete with harmonies and bucketloads of texture, such as from opener and personal favourite of mine ‘Depth Over Distance’ paid complete justice to the seemingly endless talent of this man and his band. I MUST see him again. No question about it, Ben Howard is something very special.

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Frank Turner – Live @ St Paul’s Church In Cambridge

After headlining his biggest show yet at Brixton Academy at the end of 2010, Frank Turner made the decision to go to to the opposite end of the scale to promote his upcoming album – England Keep My Bones – which is due to be released on June 6th.
Last nights venue – a tiny church in the heart of Cambridge – was a brand new experience. After entering, you took your pick – would it be the pews or the tiny standing area at the front? There can’t have been more than 300 people packed into the tiny venue – and it was fantastic!

Photo courtesy of Kon2Photography

First up for the night was Ben Marwood – a singer/songwriter from Reading. Much like Frank, his songwriting style is aggressive and passionate (and sometimes bitter too!), shown by song titles such as ‘Tell Avril Lavigne I Never Wanted To Be Her Stupid Boyfriend Anyway.’ He was a great warm up act and a nice guy too! Check out his website at: http://www.benmarwood.com
Next up was Franz Nicolay – A man whos name and appearance wouldn’t look out of place in Gogol Bordello. Like a thinner, more friendly relative of Mario Kart’s Wario, he was reminiscent of a circus ringleader from way back at the start of the 20th Century! Anyway – lets get to the music! Self described as punk rock cabaret, he has a unique blend of genres that make for a sound that fantastically eccentric, and thought provoking too. A little weird at times, but intriguing none the less! Have a listen to ‘This Is Not A Pipe,’ and check out his website at: http://www.franznicolay.com
Next up was Frank himself – Appearing on stage as understated as ever, breaking into ‘I Knew Prufrock..’ you could tell this was going to be an amazing show!

With the upcoming album, out next Monday, it was inevitable that there would be some new material. The new single ‘Peggy Sang The Blues’ has already been well received with radio play on Xfm and 6Music, as well as another new song ‘I Am Disappeared.’ He played both of these with great success – I can’t wait for the new album! Frank also performed another as yet unreleased track called English Curse – a powerful a cappella song based on English Folklore from the New Forest – Only Frank could!

Other highlights included ‘The Road’, ‘I Still Believe’ and two cover songs – Bruce Springsteen’s Thunder Road and a cover of the Postal Service’s ‘District Sleeps Alone Tonight,’ during which he invited Ben and Franz back on stage, for a new take on one of my favourites. However, the true highlight for me, had to be the final song of the set, ‘The Ballad of Me and My Friends,” where Frank smashed the very few barriers that existed between musician and fan and played the song in the crowd, proving to me that this man is never better than when he’s live – He has to be one of the most passionate men I have ever seen – a truly great performer! Thanks Frank.

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Frank Turner Featured In Film

This year, Relentless Energy continued their Short Film competition, with the first entry featuring Frank Turner.
The short film was made by up-and-coming filmmaker from Hertfordshire, James Henry. He chose Frank as the candidate to fill the competition’s themes of ‘No Half Measures,’ and ‘Focus,’ two adjectives which I cannot think of anybody better to grace with. James stated that: “I want to explore who he is at his core: it’s Frank’s story so who better to tell it than him himself?”
The film, titled ‘The Road,’ unsurprisingly documents life on tour for Frank – his highs and lows, and his inspiration to carry on making music.

Whilst only brief, is a great insight into Frank’s personal side, with behind-the-scenes interviews and as well as containing some great live footage and is truly inspirational, as it goes to show that hard work and passion can take you to places you could never have imagined!

James, since graduating from Hertfordshire University, the site for this years Slam Dunk South Festival, has been making a name for himself making films about various underground artists and fashion companies, as well as producing pieces for numerous magazines.

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England Keep My Bones Update…

As I am sure you will be aware, Frank Turner will be releasing the much anticipated follow-up to his last album Love Ire and Song, with ‘England Keep My Bones.’ From what I have heard already, the album is set to be yet another fantastic release, if not his best yet. He has already released a couple of songs from the album over Youtube, including the new single and video for ‘Peggy Sang The Blues,’ which you can see below:

He has also released a new favourite of mine, called ‘I Am Disappeared,’ a soul-baring and emotional track that sees Frank exposing himself yet again for the pleasure of his fans! This is bound to be a hit for the future, and has racked up over 50,000 views online already!

And if you’re keen to see what’s gone into the album, Frank has also recorded an album diary, documenting everything from a question and answer session for fans, to the origins of the album title. Check it out below:

All of this has really whet my appetite for seeing Frank at the end of May – This Spring’s solo tour is bound to be fantastic, and it looks as if Frank will have a whole lot more songs for us to enjoy whilst we’re there!

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The Dropkick Murphys – Going Out In Style

Lyrically inspired by seeing a recently deceased’s body when looking round a friend’s funeral home, The Dropkick Murphys’ new album, as with their entire back catalogue, was always going to be unique. The album is a sort of concept album, which sees the band looking back at their grandfathers’ Irish heritage and re-living both the hard and fun times they must have experienced many decades ago on the adventure that saw them immigrating from Ireland to Boston. They create a character to represent an amalgamation of their stories, recently deceased Cornelius Larkin. The album tells the story of his life’s experiences from birth to the grave, while maintaining a party atmosphere throughout!

The Dropkick Murphys’ seventh full album is just as packed with a fantastically original collection of punk rock, sing-along anthems. For those of you not familiar with these Boston-Irish hybrids, the Murphys combine folk, punk, rock and sing along, drunken shanty-style anthems for a completely unique sound that leaves you smiling from ear to ear every time.

The band, aside from the typical punk rock instrumental trio of drums, bass and guitar, consists of bagpipes, flutes, banjos, the bodhran and mondolin, bouzouki (?), the tin whistle, keyboards and many many more!
The bagpipes feature particularly heavily on Going Out In Style, as soon becomes clear from the opening track Hang ‘Em High. This track makes it very clear that this a party album – positivity being something the Murphys have become renowned for since the start of their career. The opener features a powerful bagpipe melody line, with power added by chants of ‘Hang ‘Em High!’ and some chunky overdriven guitars. The chorus is bound to make this a new fan favourite, born to have arena crowds singing along to the infectious ‘we waited together for the cowards to come…’ chorus line.
The second track, ‘Going Out In Style,’ sees much of the same – breakneck drumming with a wild bagpipe line, complete with sing-along working class ethic chorus, bound to have crowds of drunken Murphys-lovers everywhere singing along. Not only this, but this track sees a guest appearance from none other than Fat Mike, of NOFX.
Whilst the energetic theme is much the same for the majority of the album, such as The Hardest Mile, which is practically Going Out In Style, swapping bagpipes for an accordion, the album sees a tinge of a newer, more mature side to the Dropkick Murphys. ‘Cruel’ slows the pace down, and the backing chants quieten slightly as the Murphys soar into a ballad-style, accordion based track, that features some cleaner vocals from Frontman Al Barr.

The album is a great introduction to the Dropkick Murphys, as it sees them as a slightly matured band, who have improved both musically and lyrically, who still haven’t lost their passion for their music and heritage, nor their energetic streak, yet are still capable of producing unique anthems that will no doubt see thousands of people singing along, hand in hand. In fact, the band are on tour right now, and are warming up for their now-famous string of St Patrick’s Day shows. Get ‘Going Out In Style’ now and celebrate your St Patrick’s Day a bit differently this year, with the Dropkick Murphys as the soundtrack to your party!

Check out the album opener, ‘Hang ‘Em High’ live at the Mohegan Sun Arena + an interview with James Lynch and Tim Brennan below:

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Frank Turner – New Album and European Shows On The Way!

Having only just finished the extensive period of touring that began way back in the summer last year, Frank Turner is back in the studio again, and has announced that his new album is to be called ‘England Keep My Bones,’ and the release date is set for June 6th in the UK and on the 7th for the rest of the world.
To top this great news off, Frank has also announced another long run of worldwide dates, with shows in Canada, Australia, Germany, the UK and the USA in April and May. This tour will not see Frank backed by a band, but instead returning to his roots playing solo shows. Check out this link for the whole list of shows in the forthcoming months:

I’ll be trying to get to his Cambridge show, which in true Frank Turner style, is in a church, usually packed with the over-eighties in their weekly knitting club! It should be interesting to see how his solo shows compare to his tour last year when he was supported by his band.

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Beans On Toast – Writing On The Wall

Beans is Back!

Beans on Toast, the three chord wonder, from Braintree in the UK, has been a staple part of my music diet for the last year or so, and despite having a 50 track debut album (yes, you heard me) to listen to time and time again, I couldn’t wait when I heard that he was releasing a new album.

Writing on the Wall sees Beans, or Jay McAllister, backed by a full band this time, rather than just him and his kids guitar! The brief, 30 minute long album was released on his 30th birthday – I’m sure you can see the link there… And it’s fantastic! Whilst Standing on a Chair, Jay’s debut album, was fantastic in the sense that it was full of very memorable, contraversial tracks that made you really think about life, it didn’t feel like much of an album, more a bunch of songs to be sung in bars or busked on the streets of London.

Writing on the Wall does not see Beans cutting out any of his down-to-earth and sometimes cringingly blunt opinions of the world around him, yet the songs, backed with all manner of instruments, from fiddles and violins to banjos, harmonicas and drums seem to have much more power behind them, and the songs sound so much more refined. He still songs that many may find offensive, such as Methadrone, which begins with ‘Well this is a song about glamourising drugs, I advise you to stick some powder up your nose,’ yet you do not get the impression that he is saying this just to be offensive, as he later on states that the money gained from the tax could be used to build new hospitals! However this is what makes Beans on Toast so unique – his ability to speak his mind without any care of what people might think. The album also sees Beans’ raspy voice warning the world about the international oil crisis as well as the decline of the music industry. All of this makes for an enthralling, albeit brief, listen. Highlights for me include – artmoneyart, Foolish, Wild and Forgetful and Old Grunge, which you can see a live performance of below:

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Frank Turner @ The Corn Exchange – December 6th 2010

This week has been a good week! Not only has Beans on Toast’s new album been released, I also went to see a close friend of his, Frank Turner this Monday. Frank Turner is a unique gem of the punk rock world. Having been educated at Eton and hailing from Winchester, he is not exactly a your typical punk rock sewer rat, however don’t think that I hold this against him, because I absolutely do not! Despite his privileged roots, Frank is one of the sensible ones who can see there is still a lot in the world to shout about, and his very special brand of acoustic folk/punk does exactly that.

This year’s tour, much like Beans, sees Frank back on the road with a full band, rather than just him and an acoustic guitar. However before we could experience Frank, first came the support acts! Unfortunately we missed Dive Dive, but arrived in time to see Ed Harcourt – and he was amazing! He produced the single most impressive sound I have ever heard from one man, and he played too many instruments to keep count of, including banjo, guitar (both electric and acoustic), trombone, drums and piano! His songs were really emotive and he kept the whole crowd transfixed throughout. I’ve since listened to his new album, Lustre, and have fallen in love with his weird and wonderful style!

Next up was the main man of the night – Frank Turner took to the stage with the upbeat Eulogy. After briefly calling for our support due to a sore throat, the show went on – see the setlist below:

Highlights for me included ‘The Road’, the new hit-to-be ‘I Still Believe’ with it’s catchy chorus that is sure to get future crowds involved in arenas across the globe! Also, the hilarious ‘Ballad of Steve,’ written by Frank and his friend John Snodgrass about the famous story of flight attendant Steve Slater, who jumped out of a plane after its landing on the runway as a protest against his mundane worklife. Another personal highlight was Long Live The Queen and, of course, Photosynthesis – a great way to end an amazing night!

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