Erland and the Carnival

The last time I saw folk music in action it was in a central London pizza parlour and the guy was dressed in pointy-hooded green medieval tabard with bells on one ankle and a foot-operated drum on his back. He actually used the words hey-nonny-no in one song. Read more

Mamer, Eagle

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The production on this album is astounding. If folk music from the western Xinjiang province is not your bag then at least marvel at the rich sound of this Chinese gem. Mamer sings with a warm bassy croak while gentle guitar and lilting dombra fill in the gaps and if at times the morose low-fi threatens to teeter your speakers off the table and disturb sleeping dogs — as on Mountain Wind (aka While My Catarrh Gently Weeps) – you soon get used to the sonic depression and to be honest I actually started to find the whole effect kind of soothing and, whisper it, accessible.

Of course I’ve no idea what he’s singing about (for what it’s worth it don’t sound like no Chinese I ever heard) but to help you along, the tracks for the most part are given simple one-word English monikers — Eagle, Blackbird, Man – and seem designed to evoke wistful contemplation of mother Earth as you light another scented candle. This is no bad thing.

If the language is alien then hopefully the sounds won’t be. Fans of Led Zep’s Bron-Yr-Aur will love Celebration and while overall the album stays on the introspective side of chilled there’s some beautiful melodic respite in Blackbird.


Jorge Drexler, Union Chapel, Thurs 19th

londres-junho-2008-078.jpg Jorge Drexler was one of South America’s best-kept secrets until he went an won an oscar in 2004 for the soundtrack to Che Guevara flick “The Motorcycle Diaries”. Although the softly-spoken Uruguayan now lives in Spain his appearance at London’s Union Chapel was his first ever UK performance. Read more

Mishka Adams, Soho Pizza Express, 15th March

The following review appears in the latest edition of London’s premier music ‘zine, London Tour Dates

You can tell when Mishka Adams likes a song. A dire cover of Air’s ‘All I Need’ was smilelessly sung through clenched teeth while Pat Metheny’s ‘The Moon is a Harsh Mistress ‘ was a real joy, sung with gusto and heart. Problem was there wasn’t enough of the latter.

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The Storys, Soho Revue Bar, 6th March

The following review appears in the latest edition of London’s premier music ‘zine, London Tour Datestd-18.JPG

Retuning instruments between songs is a pet hate of mine but in the name of chordal harmony I am oft prepared to swallow this unreasonable prejudice. Tweaking your strings during a song however, is surely beyond the pale. Seriously, will an audience of 30 & 40-somethings, mostly industry execs, friends and family getting pissed on a freebie really notice the odd semitone out? Rough and ready is not The Storys style. Read more

The Wave Pictures

The following review appears in the latest edition of London’s premier music ‘zine, London Tour Dates. td17small.JPG

The Wave Pictures, The Enterprise, 19th Feb 2008

It’s great to see a whammy bar these days. You don’t have to be a guitar geek to appreciate a nice bit of trebly whanging, especially if done with the restraint and sheer gay abandon of the Wave Pictures’ David Tattersall. Leading from the front, guitarist/singer Mr Tatersall and his two partners in crime, are a heart-warming sight on a cold Camden night. The Wave Pictures’ seem to be all about luscious leftfield lyrics, strangely reedy but strong vocals and, on my favourite of the night, Just Like a Drummer, some great harmonies between Tattersall and Johnny Helm on drums. Like fellow Leicestershire band The Displacements, The Wave Pictures tick the melody box marked strong and the tunes are all the better for their stripped down, Jonathan Richman-style delivery. Altogether quite impressive considering the setting and the overall ballsy straight-to-amp lack of musical jiggery. Read more