We’re back to a grand mixture of seasoned and new-born artists in today’s blog for you lovers of mature music.
Let’s do them in chronological order and start with an artist who a few months back hadn’t performed on any stage. Ever. Carl Espen will represent Norway in this year’s Eurovision Song Contest with the ballad Silent Storm. He reminds me of blog artists Asgeir and James Vincent McMorrow with a high-pitched voice from a rugged body. If Carl Espen can keep his cool he might just surprise everyone in Copenhagen in May, for the song is good and he performs it well, at least in the studio.
The Temples sounds as if it has been around for decades, but the band released its first single in 2012. The boys from Kettering in London are obviously fascinated with the music of The Beatles and The Byrds and Kinks, although they do add elements that reveal the music is more recent. I am intrigued by Sun Structures, love the lack of respect The Temples shows for their elders.
Lisbee Stainton is from Basingstoke, near London, and released her first proper album when she was only 18 years old, having been discovered by Tom Robinson on YouTube. She was the first unsigned artist ever performing at O2 Arena in London, and is now on her fourth album, Word Games. She is a classic singer/songwriter, and not all the tracks on the album are equally exciting, but I have picked out five songs that appeal to me.
The War on Drugs
The War on Drugs is on its third album and the critics have dug out the full-length collection of superlatives and sprinkled them over most reviews. Lost in the Dream took forever to make, and the band has gone through a number of personnel changes since the start in 2005. All for the best, I would say, because this album has no real weaknesses, modern and classic, mature and fresh at once. Many albums wear with repeat listening, this album just grows and grows.
Moving along to the seasoned artists: Dean Wareham was born in New Zealand, but made it in the U.S. He formed bands like Galaxie 500 and Luna, and for a while had success as a husband-and-wife band together with Britta Phillips. Dean & Britta still have their own web page in which Dean’s new album is marketed, so perhaps his solo career is temporary. The self-titled album Dean Wareham is charming and fun to listen to, a great pop record.
Kari Rueslåtten used to be a metal vocalist back in the 90s, a feisty rock’n’roll girl with lots of spunk. In 1995 she quit her Norwegian band and released four solo albums within the folk genre. Her last album was released on 2005, then she disappeared from the limelight for nearly ten years. This year, however, she decided to make a comeback with the album Time to Tell. It is a really lovely album, etheric and rich both production- and performance-wise. Reviewers from across Europe have given the album thumbs-up.
One of my favourite bands, Elbow, has released a new album this month, The Take Off and Landing of Everything. I was so relieved listening to it the first time, because their previous album was a grand disappointment to me, and I half feared Elbow never would return to the musical genius of the 2009 album The Seldom Seen Kid, one of the best albums ever made in my view. Elbow’s lead singer is Guy Garvey is back in form, and their irreverent use of strings and symphonic effects add to the total picture. As with The War on Drugs, Elbow’s new songs just grow and grow with each spin.
A record producer with toothache discovered the dental hygienist Linda Perhacs in the sixties. She recorded one album, Parallelograms, that became a classic within the folk genre, inspiring a number of artists. The album pushed the borders of folk, with the addition of sophisticated psychedelic effects, and it is still worth listening to. Perhacs stopped recording after 1970 and it was widely regarded that this was a one-hit wonder if there ever was one. This year, however, Linda Perhacs is returning to the word stage with a beautiful new album, The Soul of All Natural Things. It has a certain 60s peace and love feel to it, but it is soothing and positive and with great songwriting.
No blog lists should be without bonus tracks. I have added a few tracks from the soundtrack of House of Cards, composed and performed by Jeff Beal. The music of this TV series really plays a major part in painting the eerie picture of the shrewd and malicious characters. Still, some of the tracks of the soundtrack are surprisingly mellow and lovely, great music to fall asleep to.
This week the following great artists are leaving the list: Asgeir, Billie Van, Dave Stewart, Dawn and Marra, Denai Moore, Josephine Foster, King Midas, Laura Cantrell, Lindi Ortega, Lucy Schwartz, Maria Due, Midlake and Psapp. Don’t forget them.
And here is the updated list: