Thursday, 25 October 2012


Hey folks, folkesses, tweeps, tweepesses, facebookers, facebookees, linkedInners, beboers (is that even still going?) and all those who wish to be referred to as whatever. Manflu must have been responsible for causing some degree of delerium as I recall one particular dream I had where I was playing the dulcimer for Status Quo although I'd forgotten how to play it. Actually, it felt rather more like a Sam Beckett Quantum Leap moment where I'd leaped into the dulcimer player's body at the precise moment the band were starting a song. But all that aside, Status Quo? My brain needs to have a strong word with itself! Why couldn't it have been Led Zeppelin? Jeez, brain, thanks for the memories and all. The reason for this particular post is because I'm taking a short break from focusing on publishing the podcasts via the blog but fear not because they will be published and with their blogcast, to boot. I just really need to catch up with recording them for Acoustic Spectrum. Band of Badgers Presents...#10 is recorded and ready so if you want to listen to it make sure you tune in to Acoustic Spectrum at 7PM (BST) Thursday.

I've got all the tunes lined up for #11 and already I'm working on #12 too. It's kind of like a summer break then. Except it isn't summer (bbrrrrrr) and technically there's no break. I'm still working non stop to get things sorted and also with the reviews I am massively behind with too. In fact, the more comprehensive reviews I write and publish are going to have to start taking a bit of a back seat I think, if I am to keep up with the podcast schedule. It's hard making such sacrifices given I enjoy doing all of these things so very much. As it may be a week or more before I'm able to get the blogcast for podcast #10 up online I have so much other music I need to share with you right now which is why I've settled on this Mid Week Music Mix. As opposed to the Wednesday Waffle I toyed with a while back, this is more just about the music and less about my waffle. Unless of course you count my writing about the music to be waffle. I have no doubt that sometimes this is the case but hopefully I come down on the side of good waffle, if so? Anyway, let's get straight on with the marvelous mix of music then before y'all click off to find someone less waffley.

Michele Stodart

I count myself blessed I was able to see Michele perform some of the tracks from this debut solo album, Wide-Eyed Crossing, when she was second up on the main stage at Truck Festival in July. There, she proved she has more than what it takes to make it on her own now she's resting that bass she plays for double platinum selling band The Magic Numbers. She was always going to have a proficiency for the music but that never automatically means what is produced as a solo project is going to be good enough quality to carry an entire album. Michele Stodart needn't worry on that score however, as this offering ticks all the necessary boxes for it to be a runaway success.

Released on Monday 22n October, Wide-Eyed Crossing has already been gathering some promising reviews from the broadsheets and interest from national radio. Granted, some of the interest may be due to her associations with her band, but this is far from a bad thing. Once the album is heard for itself, it has enough merit to carry itself.
Right from the opening track Here's To Somehow, with its rather upbeat melody it doesn't shy away from the melancholy side of the lyrical spectrum, as you might expect. With banjo and other added instruments it builds up a wonderful atmosphere of pure Americana to set the mood. Michele's vocals are strong from the off too and for all the power of the instruments on the track she holds her own above them just right.

Take Your Loving Back is a more ethereal affair, both vocally and musically. Other standout songs include the beautiful Invitation to the Blues, an evocatively emotive number which also features a guest vocalist in the form of  Conor O'Brien from Villagers. The pairing, as they at first sing separately before harmoniously together, is just perfect. Recently released single Foolish Love has a rhythm that will pick you up and dance you off, refusing to put you down until it's through. When it does put you down, you'll put it on again so you can dance along yourself. You can't escape the intensity of the final killer line delivered with such delicate fragility, 'I hope you feel this same pain one day, soon.'

What comes immediately to mind on My Baby My Sweet is how very like a Carpenters song it feels in parts. This is to its credit with its harmony laden lines of , 'And is it love', which garner a force to carry you up into the clouds. Aside from the more involved yet still floaty chorus, this is probably one of the most stripped back numbers on the album. There's deception in the air when it comes to List of Don'ts but it is most welcome. Starting out as a simple keyboard lullaby, it is delicate and sounds almost like effort has been left at the door. Not that it suffers for it in any way. It fits very well and the real fun starts half way through as it gathers what sounds like a full brass orchestra.

In sum, Wide-Eyed Crossing provides a window deep into the personal soul of an individual already known for her work with a hugely successful band. There is heartbreak and anger, but also passion and love mixed perfectly with a panorama of exquisite musical sounds that really bring the songs to life. This is a collection of ten intense, personal country and blues songs from a talented songwriter who I imagine has been itching to step up front from behind that bass.

It has been quite the busy year for Michele and her touring band having already shared the stage in supporting Villagers, Alabama Shakes, Duke Special, and Slow Club. She also sold out residencies at London's Boogaloo and Betsey Trotwood. A few festival appearances followed throughout the summer ending with her first solo headline slot at Lodestar festival in Cambridge. In addition to releasing this stellar debut album, she is closing the year off with her first solo UK tour this November. The dates are listed below so do get along if you're local and able to because you'll have a cracking evening of top quality live music.

Boat To Row
This is another band I first heard about and saw play live at the spectacular Truck Festival. Needless to say with their musically tight, multi-instrumental sound and breathtaking performance I was an instant fan and have only not followed them relentlessly due to the ever-present lack of time issues I'm always going on about. That said, I'm now on the street team so expect to be hearing lots more about Boat To Row over the coming months. It's by no means obligatory but I am delighted they're a Midlands-based band. Homegrown talent is always great to share with the world and there is so much of it to share I dare say I could fill entire lengthy posts with it. I may well here and there, as time goes by.

In the meantime while I knock out some suitable words to do them justice please check out these two great videos. The first is the one recently released for the song Freedom, which will be featuring on their forthcoming EP, Loyal Light. The song features an army of instruments including the magnificent mandolin which adds its very own dimension by way of opening up a portal direct into your world. The footage is taken from amongst their summer festival appearances. I'm honestly rather excited to be a part of helping promote this local young indie folk band because they have such a vibrancy and wonderful energy about them. The music they offer already has me wanting more so watch this space.

The second video is of the title track from the EP recorded as part of the Croft Sessions inside a shipping container. It's a striking result and gets me thinking more about my filming bands and artists inside a Campervan at festival, idea.

Also their UK tour begins on 21st November at The Bodega in Nottingham. All the dates are below and tickets can be purchased via gigantic >>here<<.

Under A Banner

Having featured this Midlands based band a number of times on the podcast already, it is with immense pleasure I can share the fact they now have their full album available to buy digitally via their bandcamp page for just £5. That is just a fiver for 11 really well-written and superbly produced songs. This is a band who have a very indie soul indeed. Tired of the fakery, shallowness of the popular music industry and its hollow celebrity culture, they just want to be able to express their thoughts, ideas and passions through real proper salt of the earth type music. This is why real musicians, real musical artists go into the business or try and make it out there in these super tough times. 

With The Ragged Rhythm of Rain, Under A Banner have something special. Many of the tunes have been floating about for some time in various forms on their Soundcloud page which is where I first began listening to them following coming across One Cure For Man way back at the start of my podcasting project. Since then I've kept in touch and up to date. I was all set to get to their gig in Wolverhampton in June before some crazy man decided to crash into the car I was driving. Thanks crazy man - not. So the resulting situation meant I missed out but I sincerely do hope I can rectify that at some point. 

The songs I got used to have since all been jazzed up and, I wouldn't say dressed up is the right word but they have certainly been given a few enhancements here and there. Not that they necessarily required it I guess, as the quality of the writing and musicianship on those earlier versions was very impressive. These 'enhancements' recorded for this album have nevertheless added even more depth to that already possessed by the lyrics alone. When We Used To Dance starts off much like a forgotten Levellers song might do. I mean this as a compliment to how the fiddle has been interlaced with the existing structures producing something with an added oomph. Likewise, the violin makes a welcome, if somewhat haunting appearance on Some Stories. It is quite a haunting song though, based on a mostly true story we're told. It is on the sad side but does grab hold of you rather tightly. Some Stories are never meant to be told but missing that bullet meant this story was told. And told brilliantly it must be said.

The Scream is one track in particular I know has received a lot of very positive feedback. It has a building urgency to it and with the darkly insistent piano added by Alex Vann its rallying cry against oppression of all kinds is piercing. There's also First Light, which still retains a depth you may not be expecting from admittedly, a drinking song. This is followed by the wonderfully inclusive This Is England Now about all the things that bind people (not just he English) together. It's nice to hear a song focus on those positives as opposed to the negatives, even though the negatives will no doubt continue providing the majority of material it does for musicians.

The penultimate track Sunburst has a violin and string section serving to lift up those clear crisp vocals.You'll need your shades on if you don't want to get too dazzled. Finally closing with Back To The Sea is an inspired choice. Beautifully atmospheric, the sounds and the lyrics are hyponotic in themselves as they entice you back to the sea demonstrating the evocative power of the oceans.

This is a steal for just £5 so make sure you grab your copy now at the bandcamp page.

    Friday 2nd November -Acoustic set @ The Clarendon, Chapel Ash, Wolverhampton - Tickets £3 (in aid of British Red Cross) support from Ramblin' Pony & Nathan Kilcoyne
In Brief... 

Andy Ruddy

To finish off this marvelous mix there's the wonderful talent of singer-songwriter Andy Ruddy from Bradford. I came to this chap thanks to the little Facebook ads that pop up on the side of the screen. For once, I'm grateful to these ads. Amongst all the stuff I don't need there is this. There are songs and free downloads via Soundcloud so make sure you get clicking and enjoy this lad's amazing music. There will be more to come from Andy in the future.

Katie Cole 

Finally, Katie Cole is celebrating the release of her alternative country pop single I Can't Wait (Out 22nd October). With hints of Shania Twain, this is a really nice light and fun song. Check out the video for the song and the Press Release below courtesy of Prescription PR.

Katie Cole’s New Single ‘I Can’t Wait’ and Video Out Now!

Acclaimed Australian singer-songwriter Katie Cole has just released her new single ‘I Can’t Wait’ through Beverly Martel Music. The track will be the leadoff single from her much-anticipated album, titled Lay It All Down, which is set for release in February 2013. The album features a guest appearance by songwriting and screen legend Kris Kristofferson.

Hailing from Melbourne, Australia, and now residing in Los Angeles, Cole relocated to the United States to begin developing her sound with acclaimed record producer Howard Willing (Counting Crows, Ok Go, Smashing Pumpkins, Sheryl Crow). The result of this musical partnership was the "Lost Inside a Moment EP," which unexpectedly received two BBC Radio 2 playlist spots. Shortly after this release, Cole received multiple awards from organizations such as ASCAP and OurStage, and landed an illustrious Movado watches ad campaign that ran nationally in 2011.

Cole describes the new single and album direction as "a little bit more organic and rootsy" than her previous work. "It's somewhere between American Country and British Pop," she mentions. "I drew influences equally from icons like Tom Petty and Fleetwood Mac, along with newer artists like Brandi Carlile and KT Tunstall."

"I Can't Wait" is no stranger to the airwaves - it is already receiving several spot plays on BBC Radio 2 and has been added to the New to Q/Q Radio playlist. Writer Alan Harrison of No Depression magazine has praised the new single, stating, "Katie is on the cusp of becoming the 'next big thing' in Nu-Country."

Producer Howard Willing enlisted the talents of A-level musicians to perform on the record, including 2 members of John Mayer's band Aaron Sterling (Natasha Bedingfield) and Sean Hurley (Colbie Caillat) along with Roger Manning Jr. (Jellyfish);Tim Pierce (Faith Hill); Lyle Workman (Beck); and Zac Rae (Jason Mraz).

Although still in the early stages of her career, Cole has toured in multiple cities throughout the US, as well as in London, UK. Over the years, she has shared the stage with many big names including Anna Nalick, Jackson Browne, and Glen Campbell. In addition, Cole was the only female vocalist to appear on Campbell's final 2011 studio release, "Ghost On The Canvas".

For more information, please visit:

Press Contact:
Ellie Clarke, Prescription PR / or +44 (0) 1223 505 328

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