Sunday, 21 October 2007

The people I've met are the wonders of my world.

I have spent the last week or so addicted to Adele. She's unavoidably talented, and you haven't got much hope of keeping her off your radar for long as it is, so you may as well submit to my shameless promotions now, no?

Hometown Glory is incredible, perfect and so many other adjectives. Whilst her accent when she talks slides in naturally with Kate Nash and Lily Allen, Adele's voice is closer in kin to Winehouse, or any given old soul singer. The song itself deals with Adele's love for the city of London and therefore already falls close to my heart thematically.

You haven't a hope of avoiding her, so download, sit back, smile and feel warm. Also, head over to her website and join the mailing list to get an equally awesome live version of the song.
Love your city.

mp3: 'Hometown Glory' by Adele

Wednesday, 17 October 2007

Schemeing Fretwell

I've been a busy but very lucky boy this last couple of days. On Monday the small student-run music magazine for whom I write gave me an interview with one Ed Harcourt, who in case you weren't already aware is a talented Sussex-born singer-songwriter with six albums and a greatest hits to his name, all since 2000. I'd post you a track or two of his, but we spoke at one point of Radiohead's new venture in downloading and he twisted it to guilt me out terrifically. He was a very nice boy though.

Then, yesterday, I get given another interview. This time it was with Stephen Fretwell, another singer-songwriter, but one with whom I am far more aquainted (musically, at least). I met up with him on his tourbus, and whilst chatting casually about his friends, and my favourite band, Elbow, Fretwell casually revealed that the band's bassist was actually asleep in the bunk next to him at that moment. He lifted the curtain to prove it, too. So that was exciting. But to the point...

Fretwell is arguably the best singer-songwriter England has on offer right now. His 2004 debut Magpie is full of delicate and sparse tracks comparable to both Dylan and Oberst, and now his sophmore offering, Man On The Roof, has just been released. It tops Magpie, which itself was fantastic, in ways unforeseeable. There are still the Dylan sounds, the Bright Eyes nature. But influences more diverse, and equally more close to home, are easily picked up on. A particular influence is, indeed, the band Elbow, and this comes through no where better than on The Scheme. It was a small disappointment Fretwell chose not to play it in his gig last night, seeing as he'd snatched not just the bassist of Elbow, but the drummer too, for his tour. But I'm okay with it, he's a fantastic live artist, and equally awesome in the comfort of your own headphones.

mp3: 'The Scheme' by Stephen Fretwell

Saturday, 13 October 2007

Saturday Sessions: Long you live, and high you fly...

What better way to spend a Saturday blog than with a Saturday Session from The Shins? The Saturday Sessions is a fantastic compilation from BBC Radio 2 that outshines its more famous counterpart, Live Lounge, by a mile. It's a similar idea - bands pop in to the studio and perform a session featuring a cover. The key is in the bands that are invited to take part. Live Lounge had rubbish Brit soul-singers and such, where The Saturday Sessions invite bands such as this week's choice, The Shins.

They cover Pink Floyd's 'Breathe' a song I had never previously heard by a band I tend to rank as the dullest of all bands, ever. I stick with that, by the way. But The Shins inject an uncharacteristically dark feel to their version, and James Mercer's distinctive voice shines here.

Also, a secondary Shins treat for you - a version of their song 'Gone For Good' recorded on the streets of Montmartre in Paris. The sound quality isn't fantastic, in fact it's far from it, but what it lacks in clarity it more than makes up for in loveliness.

mp3: 'Breathe (Breathe In The Air)' by The Shins
mp3: 'Gone For Good (Montmartre Acoustic Street Version)' by The Shins

Thursday, 11 October 2007

You can keep on singing...

I'm back, I am. I'm sorry I went AWOL. Summer beckoned, and I went everywhere - Glastonbury, Ireland, a little escape to France. Then I spent eight weeks living back up here in Nottingham without the slightest hint of internet. Actually, I had the slightest hint, but the £3-an-hour internet in the Tourist Information Centre just wasn't enough to keep this going. But back to business.

I posted a while back now on Emmy The Great, back when I had only one song of hers, and back before the three occasions I was lucky enough to see her live over the summer. She's magical live, if that isn't too Disney for you. She really just grabs the audience's attention and refuses to let go til she's done. Today I present you with another wonderful track by her, a track that pretty much kicks 'Canopies and Grapes' back into the last millenium. 'Easter Parade' is about Emmy's atheism, ultimately, but also her acceptance with other's not sharing her beliefs (or lack thereof). It doesn't matter if you believe in something or not, though, because that isn't the point of this song. In fact, that sentence is what I get out of this song - I understand it to literally mean that it doesn't matter if you believe in something or not, it shouldn't get in the way of things. I doubt I'm right though, I have a tendency to be way off on these things. Judge for yourself.