This is the second post in my albums of the year. If you missed 20-16 you can catch up here. After this each of my top 10 albums will have its own individual post.
15. Grouplove- Never Trust A Happy Song
Grouplove win the award for the best album name of the year and its a brilliant album too. Super happy, fun and interesting pop music. Also one of the best live bands around at the moment. This is one of those albums you can’t really fault because it feels so perfect as a collection of songs, and every single one gets stuck in your head.
Standout Tracks: Colours, Lovely Cup, and Love Will Save Your Soul
14. Big Deal- Lights Out
2011 has definitely been the year of the boy-girl duos. Some got caught in the haze, but some triumphed, and Big Deal did just that. With just two guitars and two voices they manage to create a sound so unique and beautiful to them. Live, it lacks some spark, but this record is a perfect collection of excellently well written lo-fi pop songs with minimal production and stories of teenage love. It will be interesting to see where they can take this sound next, but a beautiful debut to begin.
13. Coldplay- Mylo Xyloto
Coldplay are a band that seem to divide music lovers. Are they credible? Are they boring? Well who cares, because I love them and they write some ruddy great songs. The melodies in Mylo Xyloto are no exception to the usual sing-a-long stuff of Coldplay. Paradise, Charlie Brown and Every teardrop is a Waterfall show just why Coldplay fill arenas and are hailed as such a perfect festival band.
Standout Tracks: Charlie Brown, Paradise, and Hurts Like Heaven
12. Jonny Kearney and Lucy Farrell- Kite
Jonny Kearney and Lucy Farrell are yes, another boy-girl duo, but of a very different breed. This is simply gorgeous melancholy traditional folk music. It’s quite a talent to make a whole album have a sad and dreary tone throughout it, but Jonny and Lucy manage to do it in such a lovely way. Such pretty lullaby-esque tunes, all produced by members of The Unthanks, who have always supported their careers. Also check out their debut EP ‘The North Farm Sessions’.
Standout Tracks: Green Leaved Trees, Down in Adarisville and Call Yourself a Friend of Mine
11. Summer Camp- Welcome to Condale
Summer Camp have been a BIG love of mine ever since the mysterious ‘I Only Have Eyes For You’ was released online way back in 2009. This album brought together all the reasons why we all love Summer Camp so much, the summery, happy, romantic 80′s vibes and brilliantly catchy songwriting. Such a great band!
Standout Tracks: Losing My Mind, Down and Better Off Without You
I’ve written loads and loads of new treats recently, which is great. But theres also been loads of new songs from bands you might already know released. Here’s a celebration to some of them.
Starting with the wonderful, wonderful Coldplay and ‘Charlie Brown’ from their new album ‘Mylo Xyloto’ which is brilliant in my opinion. They write so many stunning melodies and this song is no exception.
Summer Camp have now released their debut album, ‘Welcome to Condale’. It’s everything I expected, super 80′s, electro, amazing melodies, and just a wonderful collection of songs. This is the title track, ‘Welcome to Condale’ and its great.
Another brilliant new album is ‘Ceremonials’, from Florence and the Machine. ‘Lungs’ was an epic debut and I wasn’t sure whether this album was going to live up to it, but its completely exceeded my exceptions. The amount of massive tunes on this album is astonishing. So many classics. I went to her album launch last week at Hackney Empire and everyone should most certainly be getting excited about her touring again.
Rachel Sermanni is such a talent. She is realising an EP soon called ‘Black Currents’ which has been produced by Communion’s Ian Grimble. This track ‘The Fog’ is taken from it, I think its lovely.
Jamie N Commons might be one of those ‘one to watch’ sort of artists. I like what he’s doing, its really different, a bit Johnny Cash. This is his single ‘The Preacher’
Fanfarlo made one really really great album and then they went away for what seemed like ages. But their back, with a different sound. This is so much more indie/electro, but that essence of great songwriting is still there.
I pretty much fell in love with Jonny Kearney and Lucy Farrell’s mini album ‘North Farm Sessions’. So stunningly beautiful. They have just released their debut full length album and I have pretty much fallen in love all over again. This song ‘Green Leaved Trees’ is the first single to be taken from the album.
I have already featured this track, ‘The Lion’s Roar’ from First Aid Kit, but I thought this video was so good that I also had to include it. The second album is out on January 24th and I am really looking forward to hearing it!
Glastonbury Festival is my favorite place on earth. There is no where else which condenses an amazing atmosphere, great music, and a positive spirit quite as well as that place. As Jarvis Cocker said ‘Glastonbury is more than just a festival, its a feeling’, and he couldn’t be more spot on. This year of Glastonbury was my forth year, for me each year gets better, and that was defintely the case this time. Despite the terrible weather of the first few days, we got through and I think everyone their would agree, we had a blast!
I started writing a Glastonbury review, but found I had far too much to say and too many bands to write about! So I have decided to simmer it down and just write about my 10 favorite performances of the weekend. So here goes…
Undoubtedly my favorite performance of the weekend was Coldplay. I had never seen them before, but am a big fan of their first two albums, so they were a must see for me. However they managed to far exceed my expectations. Everything about the performance was perfect, an abundance of hits, a fantastic performance from the band and the most incredible atmosphere. I have never been in a crowd quite like it, and I think it is obvious how much everyone is loving it from watching the footage back. Hearing the sing-a-long and seeing every single persons arms in the air for ‘In My Place’, ‘Viva La Vida’ and ‘Fix You’ among many others, created a moment I will never forget. A proper Glastonbury performance.
Pulp were the secret, or not-so-secret, special guests in the Park on Saturday. Jarvis and co completely stormed the farm showing they would have been more than capable of headlining the bash (maybe in 2013 they will?). They rolled through hits, ending, of course with ‘Common People’. Jarvis’ rather hilarious banter filled in between the songs, and he expressed his love for the festival which transformed Pulp’s career when they headlined in 1995.
I went to see Beyonce partly for curiosity, partly because there was nothing else I really wanted to see, and partly because I knew I would probably never get the opportunity to see her again. And I am so glad I went as I thought she was amazing! There had been some controversy surrounding her performance, does pop belong in Pilton? But I didn’t really see the issue since Lady Gaga, Scissor Sisters and Black Eyed Peas have also been given major slots in the last few years. As Jay-Z did back in 2008, she completely ruled the farm, bringing her big tunes, diva moves and flawless voice to the festival. She too, like so many performers this year, expressed her love for the festival, and said she was living her dream by playing at the farm. Aww!
Back in 1971 Melanie wowed a crowd of hippies with her stunning voice and flower child songs. And in 2011, I think she did exactly the same. The Spirit of ’71 stage was a new addition to this years festival, hosting many acts who played the original festival as well as other oldies. I also saw the Crazy World of Arthur Brown there, but Melanie stole the show. Her voice is still so radiant, but its her songs and love of life and humanity which came across the best. ‘Look What They’ve done to my Song’ was a highlight and she said that if there was to be a film made of her life, that song would be the soundtrack. If only more artists nowadays had that kind of sensibility.
5. Mumford and Sons
In 2009 I saw Mumford and Sons play the Greenpeace stage, on a bill which also included Laura Marling and King Charles. I would guess the capacity was under 300. Two years later, the same band play the Other Stage in front of one of the biggest crowds of the weekend. And they have only released one album. That’s incredible. But from watching their performance its clear to see why. They have so much raw energy, and really brought the folk hoedown to Glastonbury. I predict future headliners for sure.
6. Laura Marling
And following on from the Mumford comment, Laura Marling played the Pyramid Stage. There were concerns that the stage would swamp her but I knew her voice would manage to fill the space and it did. She put on a wonderful show, all songs with a band unlike normally when she plays a solo set in the middle, but the addition of lots of new songs made up for it. ‘A Creature I Don’t Know’, out September 12th, is going to be very special.
I love this band at the moment! So great live and such a fantastic way to start my weekend. They played at 12pm on Friday and attracted a surprisingly large crowd for so early in the day.Being billed so early didn’t stop them from producing the same wild energetic show they normally do. So great!
8. Fleet Foxes
Last time I saw Fleet Foxes at Glastonbury I was rather disappointed. They played the Pyramid Stage but their sound just didn’t fill the space and many punters were left bored. I was disappointed to see that they had been placed on the Other Stage, another whopper, but this year it was a totally different story. They were wonderful, playing a mixture of new songs from ‘Helplessness Blues’ and tracks from the debut. Robin also managed to sneak in ‘Blue Spotted Tail’, my favorite from the new album, so I was very pleased about that!
9. Summer Camp
Since last summer I have seen Summer Camp countless numbers of times in different situations and atmospheres. This was by far my favorite, perhaps since the first time I ever saw them. They played the Crow’s Nest, a tiny tent at the top of the Park with a semi-secret but absolutely excellent line-up and a stunning view of the entire site. Summer Camp played an acoustic set which worked wonderfully in the setting and their pop songs translated brilliantly to the audience. An album should be out soon and I am very much looking forward to it!
Summer Camp- I Want You
10. Emily and the Woods
Emily was one of the finalists of the Glastonbury Emerging Talent competition which I helped to judge. Treetop Flyers were the eventual winners, and well deserved, but this lady also turned a lot of heads through the competition and the audience in her set in the acoustic tent was surprisingly numerous. I’m hoping that through her sweet attire and stunning set, she managed to gain many more fans on the day too. Get her newest EP ‘Eye to Eye’, its wonderful!
Emily and the Woods- Eye to Eye
Also worth a mention: Sea of Bees and Sweet Baboo in the Crow’s Nest, the Crows Nest in general and Caitlin Rose at the Park. The tipi field, Shangri La, and the wonderful events at the Stone Circle.
Thank you to Michael and Emily Eavis for such a wonderful festival! See you in 2013!
After all the end of year lists, the next thing we have to look at is who is going to be big in the forthcoming year. Jessie J is the name on everyones lips, Claire Maguire, James Blake, The Vaccines and Jamie Woon have also been short listed in the BBC Sound of 2011. I am going to give you a preview of somethings I think will go big. Some of these bands might hit the mainstream but as this blog is about folk music, this is also about some of the bands who I think will gain more recognition in the folk and alternative scenes. Hopefully you will find something new to love and hopefully something a little different.
Women have done extremely well in music the last few years. Florence and the Machine, Ellie Goulding, Adele, Marina and the Diamonds, the list of hotly tipped acts from the last few years has been dominated by women and this year is no exception. However, this unfortunately means that some incredibly talented people can get forgotten among the haze of strong female popstars. I think this is what has happened to Saint Saviour. She has sang for Groove Armada in the past but as a solo artist is still unsigned. As she is unsigned I doubt their is an album on its way but their is certainly enough material on youtube for it. Her songs are beautiful, she has a very unusual delicate voice and it is also very adaptable. Some of her songs, like single Woman Scored (available to download on iTunes), are upbeat and dancey and others like Fallen Trees are sombre and utterly stunning. I hope 2011 is her year, she is supporting Hurts on their tour so maybe that could be the start of something.
God knows how much I go on and on about Summer Camp but they have been so incredibly forgotten on all the ones to watch lists, it has made me very disappointed. So anyway, they are on mine, because I think they are fantastic! Effortless vocals, dreamy melodies and brilliant energy. Their Young EP has been very critically acclaimed and they are due to release an album this year. I have high hopes for them, such a unique sound yet one which could be liked by lots of people.
The Vaccines have created the biggest hype for an indie band in years. The group is lead by Justin Young, aka Jay Jay Pistolet. But its quite a different direction to the Jay Jay who supported Laura Marling in 2008. This is pumped up indie pop with catchy rhythms and barely a song over 3 minutes. The album is finished and I think it will do very very well indeed. I predict packed out tents at Reading and Leeds and singles which will become soundtracks to the summer.
Listen to: If you Wanna, Wreckin’ Bar, Post Break-up Sex
Here is someone who, like the Vaccines, has been very very hotly tipped for 2011. His music is very unusual, Bon Iver meets dubstep, but it is also utterly fascinating and I find it really weird that he has been picked up by the mainstream considering his music doesn’t fit there that well. I hope he creates an incredible album, based on his EP’s he’s bound to. Like this young man a lot.
Surf Rock has had a big comeback this year. Best Coast, Surfer Blood, Real Estate, Veronica Falls and the list goes on. I think Tennis might do it this year. Its surf rock but its very pop too. Its happy and summery and people love that. Their current singe Marathon has summer hit written all over it and with an album due this January maybe they will have some other pleasant surprises up their sleeves.
I have been a fan of Esben and the Witch for a while now. They were my new treat around a year ago now and I was completely blown away when I saw them live in May at Live at Leeds. A really stunning band fronted by an incredible band. Their album is set to be released this year and is rumoured to be rather good. This is darkness at its very best.
Listen to: Marching Song, Lucia, at the Precipice, About this Peninsula
I saw Anna Calvi supporting Johnny Flynn at the Brudenell Social Club which I think was in 2009. She is very weird, quite a strange sound mixed with her voice. It’s taken a while for me to warm to her but I think she’s something special and I will be really interested to see the type of album she brings out.
Now signed to Transgressive Records, Mechanical Brides long awaited album is to be released this year and rumours are that its very good. She also does a stunning cover of Rihanna’s Umberella which is to appear on the album.
I’ve come across a lot of really lovely EP’s this year, and I thought I’d create a little post to represent some of these. I’ve done a lot of EP reviews too on here which you can find in the ‘Album Review’ tag but here is a quick run down of some of my favourites.
Matthew and the Atlas- ‘Kingdom of your Own’ and ‘To the North’
Two very beautiful EP’s from this lovely band. Both are delicate and strong and the transition from To the North to Kingdom of your Own shows a great step and I look forward to the album, due this year. This song is Within the Rose from To the North.
Boy and Bear- With Emperor Antarctica
I love this band, I think their sound is wonderful and this EP shows that off brilliantly. They also have some brilliant videos, and this is one of them.
Pete Roe- The Merry-Go-Round EP
Pete Roe is such an underrated talent. His songs are wonderful and I wish he was able to bring them to more people, but alas. At least they were brought to my ears though in the form of this lovely little EP.
Alessi’s Ark- Soul Proprietor
2010 saw Alessi’s Ark sign to the wonderful label Bella Union and consequently release this EP. Her debut album Notes from a Treehouse is a treat for the ears but this EP shows such a wonderful development and maturity in her sound. I believe their is an album due in 2011 and I can’t wait to see how her sound further develops. This is one of my favourite performances on youtube!
Jonny Kearney and Lucy Farrell- The North Farm Sessions
I don’t know if this is a mini-album or an EP, but whatever it is, it melts my heart. The melodies and the harmonies and so so pretty and they are another very underrated duo. I think my favourite EP of the year.
Summer Camp- Young EP
Summer Camp are my favourite new find of 2010 and I hope to see much much more of them in 2011. Their Young EP did not disappoint as this track shows.
This isn’t in any sort of order, just lots of songs I have fallen in love with throughout 2010. Hope you enjoy some of this lot.
Darwin Deez is my happy chappy of the year. All the songs on the album easily put a massive smile on your face, but especially this one.
Beach House were my number 2 album of the year with the stunning Teen Dream. I could include many of the album tracks on this list but I think I’ll have to go with Norway.
This is Helicopter by Deerhunter, I’m not sure why I like this song so much, but I really really do, lovely and dreamy.
Summer Camp have released a wonderful EP and some wonderful singles this year. I have high hopes for them in 2011. This is Ghost Train.
Mark Ronson was back this year with this song. Best pop record of the year, easily.
My band of the year, gig of the year, one of my albums of the year and I think my song of the year. This is the stunning Arcade Fire with Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)
Crystal Castles and Robert Smith gave us this addictive track. Bestival 201o collaboration?
I think Lykke Li is gonna be big in 2011, this is Get Some which gives us a glimpse of what to expect from the new album.
Laura Marling and Johnny Flynn gave us this stunning duet of The Water.
She and Him don’t tour much which is rubbish but they do make very nice songs like this one.
Caribou are also very summery, the album as a whole is stunning but this is my favourite song from it.
Best Coast have made a brilliant album and have won the award for best fuzzy surf rock group this year, for which there was A LOT of competition. Their is a lot of good singles on the album but I finally settled for this one which is the first track by them I heard.
Everyone has gone a little crazy for the Kanye West album in the last few weeks, i’ll let them off as this song is very, very good.
Janelle Monae cannot be missed off this list. Tightrope is an absolute tune, deserves much more attention than it has.
Thats your lot for now! I’ve probably forgot something very vital so there may be a part 2 yet to come. Hopefully a EP’s of the year, gigs of the year, and ones to watch for next year coming very soon. Stay tuned and have a happy new year! x
A few nice Christmassy and not so Christmassy things to say thanks for reading this year and to wish you a very Happy Christmas.
Free Daughter EP
Elena Tonra was my New Treat #19 in April. She’s back, now as Daughter and has released some of her demos for free to download. It’s beautiful stuff, you can click the link below to download it and have a look at her myspace here. She is also playing one of the HMV Next Big Thing gigs next February 10th in the Borderline alongside Marcus Foster, Andrew Davie and Pete Roe (excellent line-up!)
What Bear Driver have done with this track is wonderful. The whistling at the start, the slightly psychedelic guitars and that dreary dark Bear Driver sound have made this an excellent Christmas cover.
Ellen and the Escapades have also written a lovely original Christmas song. You can download it from Amazon or iTunes and here is a lovely video of it.
Summer Camp who are excellent have done a superb cover of The Waitresses’ Christmas Wrapping. You can also buy it on iTunes along with the whole Moshi Moshi Christmas album.
I also thought this was rather good, Stokes William covering Emmanuel but with there own special Stokes William touch.
And from a band which is brand new to me,
For Folk’s Sake its Christmas!
One of my favourite websites For Folk’s Sake has got some lovely artists to record some christmas songs and now they are releasing it for charity- how nice. It includes Emily and the Woods, Laura Hocking, Dear Winesberg and many more. The highlight of the EP for me comes from Leeds based Sam Airey whose covered In the Bleak Midwinter and added a bit of an original song on the end. You can pay what you like for the album, as long as its over £1 and all the profits go to the Integrated Cancer Centre at King’s College London. So this Christmas, it might be nice to give something back and head to the link below to download this little album.
It’s ages since I got back from Leeds Fest but I’ve only just had time to write a review! It was a really nice weekend, the festival is much nicer than I thought but also a lot smaller than I thought. Compared to Glastonbury its nothing, but I saw some really really brilliant bands and enjoyed my first taste of the Leeds Festival.
Friday began with The Futureheads who were very boring and then the Mystery Jets who were very good as usual. Then I Blame Coco who I believe has big things to come from her. Her voice is beautiful and she has really brilliant stage presence. She has an album due later this year so watch out for this lady. I saw Darwin Deez next for the first time which was fantastic. They are brilliant live and it was one of my favourite sets of the weekend. In between songs they do funny little dance routines before launching into another song. It’s crazy but so funny. There set at Leeds Fest included a rendition of Beyonces Single Ladies amongst the favourites like Radar Detector.
Dizzee Rascal on the main stage next who was brilliantly bonkers as usual. He is my number 1 guilty pleasure and someone who I would always try and catch live at a festival. His songs are so well known by everyone, the field is always packed and their is always a brilliant atmosphere. The Libertines were second on the bill on the main stage. I’m not a massive fan but I knew a few songs which they played towards the beginning of the set. The whole thing was quite boring, especially if you didn’t know there music. They didn’t put on any sort of show and their set mostly consisted of Pete Doherty being very out of it on stage. A lot of people loved it, but I was left unimpressed.
The Friday headliner was Arcade Fire. One of my favourite bands ever and a performance I had been looking forward to seeing since the line-up was announced. I knew they would be good, but it was incredible. They are the most brilliant live band. I think it was my favourite set I have ever seen. They have so much energy and passion on stage, its truly amazing to watch. They played a mixture of songs from all three albums and finished with ‘Wake Up’ which was my favourite of the set. A brilliant festival band and I hope their set will have given them many more fans as it seemed a lot of people in the audience didn’t really know who they were.
Saturday was my least favourite line-up day. The only band I saw were Wild Beasts who were good but I think I prefer them on record. Both singers have brilliant voices which really comes across live but the set lacked energy a little.
Sunday was another good day for the bands and I started my day with the marvellous Summer Camp. I love love this band and am so excited for their EP to come! Wonderful tunes and such a great and unique sound. I saw a bit of Avi Buffalo next which was good, definitely better than their Glastonbury performance and then stayed at the Festival Republic tent for Warpaint. I really like Warpaint and I have quite a few of their songs but they only played 1 song I knew! No Billy Holiday and no Elephants which I was very gutted about. They are a good band though and you could tell they were very passionate about what they are doing.
Next Mumford and Sons. This was without a doubt the craziest crowd I have ever been it. The NME tent was jammed full and there were mosh pits going on from every angle. Every 10 seconds a crowd surfer would surf past and you couldn’t dance properly without getting inappropriately close to everyone around you. At times I thought I was gonna be squished to death but it was totally worth it. My 7th time seeing Mumford and Sons and they are amazing everytime. They are an incredible live band and one I will never get tired of seeing. It’s strange to think how much they have grown since the first time I saw them live in the Brudenell Social Club in Leeds.
The final band I saw was Slow Club. I love Slow Club and they are really good performers. They played a few new songs which made me excited for some new material from them. A really wonderful end to the festival!
Overall a really good weekend, Arcade Fire blew my mind and it was nice to have a taste of the Leeds Festival hype. Sorry for the lack of blogging recently, coming soon will be a New Music post, New Treat and possibly a couple of reviews. Stay tuned.
Off to my first Leeds Festival tomorrow. The line-up isn’t really my sort of thing but Arcade Fire are playing which MAJORLY influenced my reason to go. There are a few other good bands though, if you look around and mostly avoid the main stage. Here are my top 10 bands you should consider catching if rock and metal really isn’t your thing…
1. Arcade Fire
This is going to be amazing, it has to be, I’ve built it up so much. I don’t think they will disappoint. Watch this…
2. Mumford & Sons
I think Marcus and the boys appear in every live list I make, but they are really quite amazing.
3. Marina and the Diamonds
Marina is headlining the festival republic stage on Sunday and is someone who I would really like to see again. She is incredibly charismatic and really lovely on stage. Plus the alternative is Guns and Roses which I’m not really feeling.
They were my New Treat in the post before this one and I am really looking forward to hopefully catching them live. A really beautiful band who I believe have good things to come and it will be really interested to see how their music is presented live. See them on the festival republic stage too, a few bands before Marina.
5. I Blame Coco
Another young lady with some brilliant things ahead of her, Coco Sumner, daughter of Sting, will bring her catchy songs and reggae inspired voice to the Festival Republic stage on Friday.
6. Dizzee Rascal
Back to the main stage for my No.1 guilty pleasure. After seeing him at Glastonbury I am really excited about catching Dizzee again. He appears third on the bill on Friday and is sure to attract a massive crowd and some massive tunes.
7. Summer Camp
Summer Camp also appear on pretty much every list I write at the moment. Another one to watch and another one to grace the festival republic stage on Sunday.
8. Mystery Jets
They were brilliant at Big Chill and so I would definitely like to catch them at Leeds. Lots of catchy songs and really good stage presence. They take to the main stage on Friday.
9. Darwin Deez
If anyone fancies some crazy dancing and an over-all good time show, catch Darwin on Friday on the Festival Republic Stage.
10. Transgressive Records & Friends Closing Party
Anyone up for a party on the last night? This one should be a lovely starter as playing shall be Chew Lips, Everything Everything, the mighty Slow Club and many more. There will also be Transgressive and Rockfeedback DJ’s in between bands. Watch all this on Sunday night on the Alternative Stage.
I’d also recommend… Wild Beasts, Local Natives, Adam Green, Avi Buffalo and Freelance Whales. Enjoy if your going to Leeds or Reading!