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21-05-2012: Track Rural Ghosts - Bright Side

This fragile folksong by Rural Ghosts is one of the 6 songs on their March-release Rural Ghosts EP. And although this beautiful song is very special and has been playing A LOT in the last 3 weeks, the rest of the album just doesn't do it for me. I keep coming back to this one song, which is nothing less than pure beauty. Is that a bad thing? Listen to the entire EP here and hear for yourself.

19-05-2012: Track +Verb - Cortex (Julien Mier Remix)

Usually my weekend starts just about now. Despite having the week off I still celebrate the weekend. so here's a great dancetrack remixed by Dutch producer Julien Mier. Have a good one!

17-05-2012: Album Will Stratton - Post-Empire

This opening track of Will Stratton's latest album Post-Empire makes it clear from the 1st minute that this is something special. After a 2 minute trip into nothingness, the song really starts as a nice folky track. But more surprises come along as the song progresses. When this 1st song is over, you're 7 minutes into the album and there's no way out. You're sucked in and all you can do is enjoy the rest of the beautiful songs.

Don't let the 1st song fool you into thinking that this is a 'difficult' album to endure, there's also a few more 'basic' folksongs, like this beautiful "Honey Diamond". Which is among the best songs on this album. And it's a clear sign that the real strength of this singer-songwriter lies within his amazing fingerpicking-style. It gives this song a bit of a dark edge to it.

"If You Wait Long Enough" is another great song to show off his fingerpicking talents, but a bit more uptempo. Combined with the short, but powerfull lyrics makes this another beauty.

Don't think that these 3 songs are all this fine album has to offer, check out his Bandcamp-page and listen to the entire album before you decided to spent 7 Dollars on getting it. I have been listening to this for over the past 6 weeks now and I know that's 7 Dollars well spend!

16-05-2012: , Track The Rest - Always On My Mind (live)

One of the finest upcoming releases is Seesaw by The Rest. They're releasing a new song of that album every few days and for a limited time you can download that new song for free, so keep an eye out on their bandcamp. It's an album well worth hearing and it gets a little better everytime i play it. Full review coming soon, for now enjoy this sweet live version of one the best songs on the album: "Always on my Mind" with a nice choir and people drawing animals on the walls. Really!

14-05-2012: interviews Interview with: Pickering Pick

Exactly 2 months ago I have expressed my love for Prayer Flag by Pickering Pick. Since the time that has passed the album became a standard on my mp3-player. By definition the home of my favourite records of the last 12 months. Now that time has proven this to be one of the finest, sweetest records of the year, I was wondering who Pickering Pick really is. We did a little email-interview, so you and me would have an opportunity to get to know the man behind the music a little better.

First off, Who is Pickering Pick? How old are you? Married? Kids? Just the basics.
I am Pickering Pick - I'm 33, I have two children and I've been married for almost 12 years. I'm English, my wife is Californian, and we live in Northern California. I've been in the US for ten years. We also have a big dog...

When did you first start making music? Who were your musical influences?
I suppose I first started making music properly - writing and performing my own songs - when I was 18 or 19. I recorded my first album, The Attic Tapes, at FFG, the studio my dad built and operates in the UK.

The musical influences I felt strongly at that time would have been Paul Simon, Tim Buckley, Van Morrison and Red House Painters. They had the biggest direct impact upon that first album. But I was listening to a lot of different artists: Neil Young, Sandy Denny, Nick Drake, as well as some of the alternative rock bands coming out of the US at the time. Looking back, it wasn't a great time for new bands. I had a hard time finding anything contemporary to listen to, so I kept going back to my old favourites.

What music do you listen to yourself at the moment?
I've been listening to some great music lately. Idiot Wind, Hip Hatchet, Father John Misty. I also just got around to getting some records from Yer Bird - the 2011 album from Ghosts I've Met, which is just beautiful, and the newest Hezekiah Jones album. I'm lucky to share a label with some phenomenal musicians. John Statz's new release, Old Fashioned, is wonderful, and Tyler Butler's Winter King, which was just re-released, is magical. I actually just recorded a cover of Tyler's song Feral Horse which will hopefully wind up on a Yer Bird release soon. The other records I listen to almost daily are Astral Weeks, by Van Morrison, and Sting's beautiful 1987 album Nothing Like The Sun. And Rhythm Of The Saints (Paul Simon). Definitely a daily album, that one. One of my all-time favourites.

Have you always wanted to be a musician? How did you get where you are now?
No, I didn't always want to do this, but I've always kept music at the centre of my life. I used to want to be a writer, a novelist or something. I've written two novels. But writing fiction like that, it's awfully hard and awfully lonely, and I'm just not good enough at it to be able to break through. I've always found writing songs somewhat easier, and very nearly as satisfying. And I enjoy the recording process a lot more than sitting down to write a book, so maybe this is the right road for me.

I arrived where I am now by simply writing and writing, trying out new things, getting better and learning how to put albums together. I gave away my music for many years, and many of my albums are available for free if you know where to look online. Eventually, though, I wanted to work with Sandy at Yer Bird Records, and see where that would lead. I don't regret a thing about giving away my songs for so long, but it was time to try something new.

Being a solo-artist, how do you know if a song is a good one?
That's a really hard question. I suppose, if I'm honest, I don't know how to tell if what I'm producing is any good. I work entirely alone. I don't share my process with anyone until I get to the advanced mixing and mastering stages, when I involve my father. But by that time, I've usually decided on the songs and the album will go ahead regardless.

When I'm writing, I have to trust I'm doing something authentic. If I'm not, I usually feel uncomfortable about it on a basic level. I've got dozens of songs sitting around, fully recorded, which I've just decided are not good enough, so they'll stay hidden. But what always surprises me is that the songs which listeners most connect with on my albums are rarely the ones which I think are the best. I can't force people to feel a certain way about my songs. Once they're out there, I have no more control. I try not to worry too much about it!

What is a 'regular' day for Pickering Pick?
On a regular day, I'll wake up with my wife and my children. Take one or more of them off to school and then try to make a dent in the mess we create at home. Then if I'm lucky, I'll have several hours to myself in my recording studio. Often I'll go in there with nothing to do, no ideas, no songs to work on, but I have to keep going in there. It's like going to work in an office, I guess. I have to be in there, though, or else nothing will ever get written. It can be frustrating, but eventually, songs start to develop.

The rest of the day? I'll pick up my kids, take them to the park or the river. Have a drink with my wife and talk with her about the day. We eat good meals in our house. Dinner time is pretty special. I don't like anything to disturb that.

With your album release a few months behind us, what have you been up to lately?
I've been in the studio a fair bit, running through old songs and rehearsing. If I don't play my older songs regularly, I tend to forget how to play them! I've spent a lot of time on fiddling around with some new studio hardware I bought recently. I am hoping to start recording a new album soon for Yer Bird Records. If I get my act together, it could be out later this year.

What would you like to see happening the most in 2012?
Nothing urgent. As long as my family is healthy and happy, that's blessing enough. I'm not particularly political, and I can't vote in the United States anyway, but there's a guy in Washington who probably deserves another term in office...

Thank you so much for this great interview Pickering Pick. It's been great getting to know to you a little better. Looking forward to that new album, the sooner the better if it where up to me! For the readers: If I'm not mistaken you can still order yourself a copy of "Prayer Flag" via his bandcamp-page.

13-05-2012: Album Rebecca Brandt - Numbers & Shapes

This Sunday morning I was up early reading the papers in the early morning sunlight with a cup of coffee and one of the best records of the year. Although I've just discovered this album yesterday morning, it is without a doubt one of the finest instrumental records we'll be hearing this year.

Since I've already expressed my recently developed and quickly growing love for this album, is there any reason to continue writing about it? Probably not. As I prefer to let the music do the talking. And with the wonderfull compositions Rebecca Brandt writes, I'm sure the music will be able to convince you of it's beauty.

The best tracks on Numbers & Shapes are like "Rouge". Exciting, vibrating with action and surprising enough to never let you really guess what's next. These tracks are uptempo, but take it down every once in a while, untill they built up again to explode near the ending. Perhaps the best example of how good she is with that is heard on the albums closing track "The Moment".

Beautiful slow start, slowly upping the pace and the volume, bombastic brilliance at the finish.
This is what great music sounds like!

Sometimes I hope somewhere someone who has a role in the music industry visits this blog and decides to contact an artist, because of the brilliance of the music. I can think of several acts that I would really want it to happen to, but if someone from the North Sea Jazz-festival ever comes along here, I truly hope Rebecca Brandt is on the line-up next year.

11-05-2012: Track The Boxing Lesson - Health is the New Drug

it's only 9,5 hours to go 'till the weekend. let's start celebrating with a fine piece of pumping loud rock music by The Boxing Lesson. The first 2,5 instrumental minutes are fucking awesome and it stays cool 'till the very last seconds.

10-05-2012: Track New Hands - Tulips

This is only a few days old, but it's on heavy rotation here. 5 times a day at least. and for only one simple reason: it's a great song! It has 80s-music written all over it, though I bet there's a lot of 80s-bands that would've killed for a sound like this. Love it!

09-05-2012: Dry The River - Lion's Den (AllSaints Basement Sessions)

Most mentioned band on the blog in 2011 was Dry The River. They had 4 mentions with individual songs and their "Weights & Measures" ended up high in my favourite EPs-overview of the year. In March this year they released their debut album Shallow Bed and it's one of the best releases of the year. It goes on from one highlight to the next, with "Lion's Den" as a 6.42 minute 'Grande Finale'. Last weekend I spent 2 days at work singing nothing but this song, today I woke up with it. It's the most intense piece on the album and it's a perfect ending track for a great album.

07-05-2012: Album Hip Hatchet - Joy and Better Days

One of only 2 albums I've bought this year without even hearing a single note of it (the other being Bruce Springsteen's latest, which I've heard twice so far) is Hip Hatchet's brand new album Joy and Better Days.

And not for a second have I doubted this purchase. From the 1st spin I knew this is every inch as beautiful as his 2011 Coward's Luck EP. But those were only 3 songs, the album has 12. I have to admit I wasn't sure upfront if I would be able to listen this many songs in Hip Hatchet's unique style. Would he be able to hold my attention for the entire record? I had my doubts. But they've been proven unnecessary, uncalled for even. Almost a month ago this was released and I've heard it at least once every day. But probably more, most days.

It's the kind of record that you have to be in the mood for, but if you're not, it'll get you in that specific mood. I can't wait for Summer, listening to these songs while drinking a cold beer near the waterside, seeing the boats, children swimming. It's the perfect record to just wonder off with. Into your mind, or into Hip Hatchet's mind through his lyrics.

Favourite song: When I Sing For Strangers. But with it being the last song on the album, the other 11 songs are the perfect way to that highlight. There's no doubt I'll be listening to this beautiful album for the rest of the year (and beyond).

05-05-2012: Track Jonathan Boulet - This Song Is Called Ragged

It's weeeeeeeeeeekend!!! with Jonathan Boulet's 1st single of the album that's gonna rock the shit out of my Summer. With that brilliant title We Keep The Beat, Found The Sound, See The Need, Start The Heart. Go here to hear "Trounce", another great song that got me interested in this album about six weeks ago.

Is it June already?

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