Monday, 19 November 2012



The title alone should be enough to get you almost wetting yourself in anticipation for this latest release from the prolific contemporary folk troubadour that is Seth Lakeman. His uniquely produced and most recent album Tales From The Barrel House, was simply amazing but this Live EP goes even further. With an angel hoard in the guise of the BBC Concert Orchestra at Seth’s back, expect to be carried off to a heavenly paradise on a white winged Pegasus, with a shower of warm golden rays raining down over you. Wherever you listen, be it on the move or resting up, it has the ability to spin the globe under your feet without moving so much as a single hair on your head. It brings tales directly to you in the form of richly woven tapestries, which swirl and entertain you to the max.

With five of Seth’s well-known songs featured, both fans and anyone new to his music are in for a right royal treat. Opening with Blacksmith’s Prayer (Tales From The Barrel House), the added army of instruments compliment Seth’s mandolin with razor sharp precision. They immediately build up so many intricate layers to the song, you may want to get hold of a map to find your way out of it. You feel so close to that Blacksmith you can feel his sad warm breath on your neck as he laments his dying trade. One thing is for sure, that prayer will not only be heard but also felt with phenomenal force. The urgency of even just the string section half way through manifests the ghosts of all Blacksmiths from everywhere in a desperate bid to be remembered and noticed. It is a sublime goosebumps music moment!

The Lady of the Sea herself graces your presence while flanked by mermaid masses doing synchronised summersaults to the nostalgic nautical notes of this song from Freedom Fields. Buckle up your lifejacket as the mighty ship soars out into the ocean carried along by the tidal waves of a violin chorus wrapped around the bold brass winds. Music was made to be played this way, big, bold and atmospheric. There are Changes (Hearts & Minds) afoot as the third track reins things in somewhat. It’s a good job really, to allow your mind to readjust itself back to reality after such an epic start. The subtlety of it is welcome and the delicacy so many musicians playing at once can achieve is quite breathtaking.

You better dress up in your finest finery for King & Country (Freedom Fields). With its rapturous royal fanfare of an introduction don’t be surprised if you’re left wondering when the King will appear. The layers weaved by the orchestra on this song to accompany Seth’s mandolin, capture the deep personal emotion of the lyrics very well. It wouldn’t have felt right had Kitty Jay not been included on this release and boy does it bring the collection to a perfect close. It is always a pleasure watching Seth play this song at a gig and this version will not disappoint. The thunderous drums crash down with such foreboding menace, as if Gods are stomping across the earth hunting something out. The fast and furious fiddling is present of course but Seth is joined by the string section and together with the wonderful arrangement of the other sections, this version of his own classic will have you out of breath by its end. 

The only thing that would have made this EP better is if it was a) longer or b) if Kitty Jay had sparked a furious and lengthy jamming session between Seth & the strings, or indeed the entire orchestra. Oh, the fiddle-off that could result from such a thing. The energy would be enough to light the world for an eternity! Renewable energy too, of a sort. I have a feeling this live recording will not be every fan’s cup of tea but personally, I cannot praise it enough. With a huge love and appreciation for classically trained musicians it is always delightful to hear them take on more contemporary or unusual genres and get it right. As a Seth fan myself, this provides a new way to experience his music, adding a totally different dimension. I’ve no doubt this was a big challenge for all involved, Seth included, but it is one that really has paid off.

You can pre-order your limited edition signed copy of the EP in various formats from ProperMusic:

Alternatively you can pre-order it from Amazon >>here<<.

I've actually sent a few questions on to the lovely folk at Prescription PR who I thank for the opportunity of reviewing this record. They have passed them on so I'm hoping they come back with answers so I can edit the little interview into this post. I think it will compliment it nicely. Fingers crossed.

Friday, 9 November 2012


Hey folks. I seem to have gone a little singles crazy today. Well, yesterday actually. Apologies this post is a day late but these things have to be done proper I'm sure you'll agree. Hope you enjoy the below. Please get clicking and showing the love by purchasing those that are your thing. These bands and artists need your support, always. They really appreciate it as well and know full well that without you guys they would not be able to do this.

I'm cracking on with three mini album reviews in my bid to catch up with the backlog. Podcast #11 has gone up as you may or may not have noticed so I'll try and get on to that blogcast soon as I can too. Then there's this coming weekend of gigs galore. Saturday sees The Dreaming Spires while Sunday is my Tom McRae fix. Expect reviews of those in some form or another too. Oh and I've not forgotten about the Gilmore & Roberts gig review either. That will be up before the others. Jeez. I'm out of breath now so best get on with these singles reviews....


Derby-based indie rock band Whitemoor didn’t just throw their cards forcefully on the table with the release of their sensational self-titled debut album last year. They used a clever combination of subtle and epic alternative indie rock sounds to arrange them in all manner of intricate sculptures. The musical masterpiece that resulted should be counted as their breakthrough album, which for a debut marks a hugely promising start.
New single High Lights is a sneaky peak at the forthcoming follow up Horizons, and it is one heck of a tease. Their army of existing fans should ready the waterproofs because it will initiate maximum salivation mode for what is to come. For all those coming to Whitemoor for the first time, it is a perfect introduction demonstrating the high level of quality this band has to offer. They have an infectious vibe about them. So infectious you will pass it on to your friends and, well, anyone who’s in the vicinity when you listen to their stunningly stylish songs. If this is anything to go by, album number two is going to propel them into the stratosphere as far as exposure is concerned. This track alone would sit so comfortably on the BBC 6 Music playlist; they need to send in extra copies ready for when the original gets worn out from too much spinning.

Bursting upon the eardrums with a catchy beat, High Lights soon begins building at just the right pace. It entices you in like the promise of sweets to a child before Benny’s vocals begin working at the full range of their magic and that’s it! You’re hooked! There is no escape. More importantly, you won’t want there to be. In fact, there is so much life and energy from this track, when it does end you’ll be gasping for more before you suffocate from the loss of it. The chorus is so contagious you’ll end up singing along to it for hours after just the one listen. It really does have everything required to make it a humungous smash hit. Fast and furious punching drums to rev up the tempo, a killer bass line so precise it requires a microscope to study its complexities and a breathtaking mini guitar solo towards the end to close proceedings in true style.

Their Facebook page describes the band as being as charming as Snow Patrol and as entertaining as The Killers. I say move along Snow Patrol and adios The Killers because Whitemoor are back and they mean big business. The Horizons looking spectacular!

To help Whitemoor keep climbing the download charts and give real music a chance of some of the much needed and well-deserved limelight please purchase your copy of High Lights via iTunes for 79p by clicking >>here<<.

Alternatively you can purchase it from Amazon >>here<< for 89p.


This is the third single to be released from The Spires’ critically acclaimed debut album, Brothers in Brooklyn and it is yet another delicious, tasty treat for the ears, mind and the soul. The guys really let loose with Just Can’t Keep This Feeling In. It leaps right into a heavy bombardment of vocals and glorious instrumentals crashing, strumming and playing with real gusto. It grabs a hold of you to make sure you’re awake and if you’re not you will be quick smart!

You really feel this feeling bursting out through every harmonious nook and each melodic cranny, leaving you mopping it up gladly. It is loud, it is lively and it is coming for you! Quite literally thanks to the guys winning the BBC6 Music rebel playlist and receiving some much deserved airplay with this very tantalizing track. This is in addition to Brothers in Brooklyn picking up airplay via Xfm and Radio 2. There is also the extra song See You In The Morning with this release, which is from the album sessions. I’ve not heard it in full yet myself but with the album offering one quality tune after another from start to finish, I have no doubt of any kind it will be just as fantastic. The preview makes me want more so I cannot wait to hear it! Maybe they will perform it live at the gig in Oxford this Saturday. Now, that would be sweet.

Pre-Order you digital copy of the single and get these two terrific tracks via iTunes for £1.29 by clicking >>here<<.


Having already featured this particular release a few weeks back on the blogcast for Band of Badgers Presents #9, I won’t ramble on too much here. You can read what I had to say (write) about this single below (pasted in for your convenience). Dorothy is the latest single this Canterbury-based bunch of psychedelic indie folk fellows is releasing from their truly inspiring and wonderfully epic self-released debut album On An On. Do have yourself a good listen to the track while it is here available for streaming. Then, after the first play when the sacred sounds and luscious lyrics have touched you deeply go and buy yourself a copy. If you’ve heard it then you know it makes sense. If you haven’t heard it, what are you doing? Hit play and read while you take it in. 

On An On is a stunning debut showcasing an ability these guys have for immersing listeners fully into a complete transcendental musical experience. The latest single they're releasing is Dorothy. As with the album, this single was self-recorded at home and is being released on the band's very own record label, Dawn Chorus. Syd Arthur is independent in all senses of the word. They have worked hard to get to where they are today and they are taking the music world by storm. They have been drawing comparisons to the likes of Soft Machine, Caravan but also with contemporaries such as Wolf People and Tampa Impala. I went as far as comparing their closing track Paradise Lost to what I think sounds on the east side of Led Zeppelin. I don't think there are any other bands out there like Syd Arthur though, to be quite honest. I speak (write) of originality with many of the acts I feature or review but with these guys, originality is taken to a whole new level. And yet they capture the right amount of elements from the past like the late 60's, early 70's psychedelic scenes. 

With its ethereal and calm intro, Dorothy soon has you sucked into its own electric atmosphere as Liam Magill begins lamenting on the swift passage of our lives before the poetic lyrics hit on some further, deeper existential musings. For all the relative calmness there is chance for the eccentricity to shine as the song progresses. The keys swirl with an effortless grandeur producing sounds that wrap themselves around you to hold you in place while others are free to tease and entice. After lapping this up for a wee while, you will certainly be left wanting to hear more, which will encourage you to go buy the critically acclaimed On An On. 


Before you hit play on this one I urge you to stock up on tissues because acclaimed Irish folk singer Mary Dillon will melt your eye floodgates no matter what defences are in place. Released on 11th November to coincide with Remembrance Sunday, this single is an emotional account of the part played by fourteen year old John Condon during World War One. He was the youngest soldier to be killed during that treacherous time and you feel his life-force with every word and note of this track.

It is one of the most moving songs I’ve heard in a very long time and as deeply heartbreaking as it is, I find myself wanting to listen to it more and more. When reality makes us neglect the past, a song like this helps us remember those sacrifices. It touches us in a way that encourages us to be thankful for what such young heroes did to enable our freedoms today. What is even more haunting for me personally is last year I visited my great-grandfather’s grave at a war cemetery in Anzio, Italy. The opening lines of the song bring that day back with such vivid realism I can feel the hot summer sun burning me to a crisp as I search past grave on grave, row on row until I see the name….

Mary’s vocals are so tranquil throughout they remind me of the gentlest sounds from a harp. That final chorus with the altered line, ‘sing out for all their souls’ is delivered with such an angelic harmony, I half expected to see an angel hoard ready to sing in full chorus when I opened my eyes. This is a song that doesn’t just make you remember, it pulls you right back there to see and feel the profound sorrow and loss this war left in its devastating wake.

Following her fifteen year hiatus from the music scene, Mary releases her debut solo album North in February next year. I’ve been fortunate to get a sneaky listen and the exquisite beauty of John Condon is no isolated incident. I’ll bring you a review of the full album in January.


To wrap up just two more things. Well, actually it is me so you know full well there are many more things. Three mini album reviews for one but they will be following shortly. So let's hold back that ado-ing and get on with the further. Something like that.

Those indie-folkers Boat To Row are counting down the days until the release of their EP Loyal Light on 19th November. The excitement is reaching critical. As it is for the forthcoming tour. In celebration they are so lovely they are offering you a sneaky peak and a free song. Listen to Freedom below then get clicking crazy to download your own copy.

Finally, I wanted to just mention the release of La Femme De Fontenaille, the latest album from Trevor Moss & Hannah Lou - released on 5th November. It is beautiful and delightful and I sincerely wish I had time to write more about it here. Do yourself a favour and go buy a copy. You will not regret it!

Tuesday, 6 November 2012



I’m a bit of a latecomer to this young folk duo but let me tell you one thing before I continue; after hearing this latest album and seeing them perform live recently, I will be soaking up as much as I can get my hands on from now on! I’m not in the least bit surprised they are an award-winning pair (Best Original Song for Fleetwood Fair – Hancock Award) and if The Innocent Left  doesn’t pick up at least a few awards here and there over the next year then the awarding committees all need sacking and replacing with people who have proper taste.

I love how it manages to make use of traditional folk roots without sounding anything like just another folk record. To its credit, it is much more diverse and versatile. There’s a wonderful rich mixture of sounds bought into the mix thanks not only to the tremendous talents of Katriona Gilmore and Jamie Roberts on their respective violin, mandolin and guitar but courtesy of the featured guests too. With Ben Nicholls (Seth Lakeman) on double bass and Tom Chapman of the Urban Folk Quartet bringing his exceptional percussion skills to the table, the end result is one of charming musical perfection.

Opening with two original songs drawing deep from that folk-inspired well even these have enough passion and creativity poured into them they transcend any simple categorisation. The first amounts to Jamie’s Ode to the Scarecrow with a prominent violin lining the fields as its character is painted in vivid multidimensional colours. You end up really feeling for the sad sorry failure come the final round of what is a beautiful smooth chorus. This leads into Kat’s inspiring tale Doctor James. Based on the true story of military surgeon James Miranda Stuart Barry, this song breathes life into a purposely long forgotten tale. It’s always great to learn new things from music as I’d never before heard this story. After living life as a man and becoming Inspector General in charge of military hospitals, it was discovered he was actually a she and thus why the name was seemingly deleted from history. Music that educates like this should really be used in schools.

The remarkable start moves up to lofty heights with Shuffle & Deal. This song leaps so far ahead you have to race to keep up. And race you will, as far as you have to in order to hear it, even if you were to lose both lungs in the process. It is such a special track and for all the other greats on the album, this one can’t help but stand out a mile. While the opening two keep one foot firmly in the traditional camp, Shuffle & Deal is the first to move so far beyond those boundaries. This only serves to bolster its magnificence and show how comfortable and adept this duo is at just making truly great music. The backing vocals come in the shape of the US sister duo Larkin Poe who sing over Kat’s chorus of simple yet highly emotive stretched out single words. Every millisecond of this song is a work of pure fine art ending with many perfectly placed instruments that hitch along for the ride before it finishes just as delicately as it started. 

It is evident both musicians have worked hard, not only on nailing the perfect musical arrangements but also on the song writing. It is razor sharp. The subject matter covered is a wonderfully varied blend to tantalise all possible tastes. It feels so precise and if there was a mathematical formula for the perfect mix then this album has applied it. That’s not to say it feels in any way rigid as a result. Quite the opposite, there is a breathtaking fluidity that carries you through the whole adventure. At times it renders you lying on a lilo floating gently downstream to the beauty of real-life based Louis Was A Boxer and sat nav tribute, Silver Screen. Yes, a song even about those trusted/troublemaking navigation devices comes courtesy of Kat and is one bathed in the same quality and splendour as the rest. Others grab you by the feet, pull you up and send you flying through invisible rapids, particularly the two instrumentals Seven Left For Dead and Over Snake Pass. Both have magical properties, splicing and dicing their way through multiple dimensions, taking you along for the rip-roaring ride. Then there's Letters, a deeply moving number where the vocals have the power to break your heart. They convey the emotional turmoil of Kat's Danish great-grandmother waiting to hear news of her son as she worked for the BBC World Service during the Second World War.

There’s only one actual traditional song featured in the form of Jamie’s rewriting of False Knight On The Road. Having now heard a number of previous versions by a range of different artists from Steeleye Span, Hart and Prior and even the mighty Fleet Foxes, False Knight blows them all out the water to be quite honest. Finally, there’s irony afoot but with arms as Jamie’s closing ballad, The Stealing Arm is a retelling of John Ashton’s The Thief’s Arm about an amputation that went somewhat rather wrong. It’s a great way to bring the album to a close with its hook-laden chorus that embeds itself inside your head and as ever Jamie’s vocals sound amazing.

This album is a real breath of fresh air. While maintaining all important links to the folk genre it smashes through any walls and divides, crossing safely into many other areas.  To widen its appeal, contemporary folk music has been evolving in a real positive direction thanks to many of today’s talented bands and artists. The Innocent Left reaches the zenith of this evolution with Gilmore and Roberts producing a modern masterpiece. It has a delicious mix of everything required to make it stand out from the rest and is one that you simply must own.  

You can (and you really should) buy your copy now from a number of websites. Just click on the links below:






Thursday, 1 November 2012


Howdy then folks. Welcome to the blogcast for the latest podcast, the tenth, no less! Apologies it's been a while to get this one completed but as I mentioned in a previous post, I am trying to get ahead with recording the podcasts so I can keep up a decent amount to air via Acoustic Spectrum. This one is likely to have its regular two plays before I get #11 finished for it. #11 is indeed all ready to record but that blogcast will be another few weeks away at the very least. The songs for #12 are also now all in and they're coming in fast and furious for #13. In between these I also have another special show lined up. How would you like to hear a mix of some classic favourites with one or two recent gems? It means I get to play some golden classics but it will of course be for streaming only. Still, it will be available nonetheless. Do I have some great tunes lined up for that one. I'm sure you're going to really enjoy it.

It may well transpire due to licensing and all that jazz (not actual jazz you understand, but feel free to do jazz hands every time jazz gets written. That's four lots now. I'm watching. Come on, get in the spirit of things peoples!), that I can only let that special show play via Acoustic Spectrum so make sure you tune in at 7pm (GMT - feels so strange after using BST for so long) on Thursdays or you will miss out. Then I will let my cat at you. She's a mean one too. This is due to her age you understand, and not necessarily her nature. She's like a Cylon, The Rani and Servalan all rolled up into one fluffy bundle. Okay, I apologise to any non-sci-fi geeks out there who will have no idea what that means, or indeed how bad it will be if I let my cat out at you. So, best way to avoid finding out is to tune in to the show at Acoustic Spectrum and listen to those classics. I anticipate it will be a few weeks before it gets played as I am hoping to get #11 sorted for next Thursday (8th November) because I have a few new singles to play. I will however try and keep you posted via twitter. If you're not following me on there then you can find me @roberto_baggins where you can see all the rubbish I tweet all the time.

Before cracking on I'm going to ask you for a wee favour (in addition to visiting and listening to the podcast, yes but stick with me). Thanks to the lovely New Zealand singer-songwriter Julie Lamb, I discovered there's a European Podcast Awards. She kindly asked if my podcast was entered into it which, given I'd never heard of the thing it wasn't and so I said I'd check it out. Having done so I decided to propose Band of Badgers Presents for nominations. Scary stuff! Now, I know given the number of podcasts out there in the category (Personality) and how wonderfully amazing people make them, I have little chance of winning. However, as a typical never win anything kind of guy I'm well on the 'It's the taking part that's fun' bus.

I'm aware there are still a couple of issues with my sound quality, mostly with my speaking parts. And no, I don't mean me having a 'cold voice' on this particular episode.

There is some horrid echo thing going on I can't seem to eliminate. I am working on it but I do use a simple free software program to mix things. I paid for Wavepad but not knowing what I was doing, I failed to pay the right price to get the mixing capability. Yes, I know I am a tech fool. The pittance I get paid doesn't stretch to me rectifying this situation any time soon I'm afraid. I've already cancelled Christmas, effectively. If I won this I'd get software I believe but even if not I'm on it soon as I can afford to upgrade my Wavepad. My point is (yes I do have one, cheeky), that I'm aware of this little niggle in sound quality but if you enjoy the podcast, like what I ramble on about at times and the information about the artists and bands I give out; and more importantly if you like the music I offer you each time, then please stop by and vote for me. I will be ever so grateful. So will Valerie. 'Valerie who?' I hear you ask. Valerie, the banjo playing badger of course! Even if you don't vote I am still sincerely grateful for you reading this far with how much I digress from the point most of the time. Thank you!

After all that waffle (mmmm, waffles) let's get on with it!

The Playlist:

  1. Our Forgotten Towns - The Levellers
  2. This Isn't What I Signed Up For - Turnstile Junkpile
  3. A Proud Surrender - Trevor Moss & Hannah Lou
  4. Before The Dawn - Mat Gibson
  5. Lonely Boy (Live Cover) - Luke Jackson
  6. Dance Keith, Dance - The Cakes
  7. Another Acid Day - Art Of Privilege
  8. Lovefool - Grimsell in the Glasshouse
  9. End Game - Umbrella Harbor
  10. Summertime - Gypsy Fire
  11. Deliverance - The Silent Union
The Levellers
What can I possibly add about this bunch of guys? They have been with me since 1997 so naturally they occupy a very special place in my musical life and their importance on my musical journey goes beyond words. It's unfortunate I'm not going to have been to a show this year but it means I will have to try and make it to at least two next year. Although in 2011 I was able to get to about five. Or was that 2010? Whichever year it was, I think I’ve made up for missing one this year. No excuses for missing Beautiful Days though so I will certainly be on that next year. Staying in a camper van if my Band of Badgers Presents Camper Van Festival Tour proposal is successful. Fingers crossed. Actually, everything crossed. I'll keep you updated but I have sent it out to a few places already. Not finished by a long shot.

The Levs rarely break from touring. I imagine they’ve clocked up millions of miles over the years but their shows are always full of their army of fans and just where they get their energy from is anyone's guess. I wouldn't mind some if it's going, though. We fans are more of a family really as everyone gets on so well. I recall I’d had a fair bit to drink at a 2009 gig in Northampton although I wasn’t too drunk. I was moshing away to one of the songs, I don’t remember which one specifically but as I pulled my arm up to punch the air I whacked some poor guy in the face. He just smiled and patted my back. I felt terrible of course but grateful I didn’t get punched back. It wasn’t like I did it on purpose but can you just imagine doing that at most other gigs? Even by accident. There’d be a riot! Perhaps I’m exaggerating and I suppose it does depend on the type of gig it is, the band and the fanbase. At these gigs, I always feel like I'm amongst friends.

Anyway, The Levs are going strong and are most likely working on songs for their next album even as they whizz around Europe and soon the UK. Static on the Airwaves might only have been released this year but these guys are always on the move. What’s great is they never forget their old tunes when touring either. They are crowd pleasers at the core but even so pretty much most, if not all of their new stuff is bang on with their trademark quality. They champion new up and coming talent too. It was on one of their tours I got introduced to The Last Republic who alas, are no more for various reasons. See below for a mention of that devastating news.  I think the above video of Raft of Medusa, also from the latest album and filmed at this year's Beautiful Days Festival demonstrates the reasons for their longevity rather well.

Turnstile Junkpile
I've still not managed to get my review written of this band's fantastic debut album, Everything Is Cheaper Than It Looks. I need a slap. Or more time. May I go with the more time option please? With it being less painful and all that. Seriously though, check out the rest of the tunes from this album because Turnstile, to me, are quite unlike anything else out there. It's like a huge infusion of so many of the great things about americana, alternative country, soft rock and so much more I could probably list for days if I was to include all the little sub-genres and nods to various styles within their repetoire. And that is just from this album alone. I bet they have so many more tricks hiding inside their instrument cases which they relish in bringing out for a live audience. In other words, get yourself to a show if you can. It will be totally more than worth it.

In The Morning popped itself on to my iPod shuffle at work today and it made for a much better day, it must be said. Its delightful gentle dinkle danklin' banjo aside, I think there's an influence of The Beatles on this particular track. And why not? The Fab Four seem to have inspired so many bands and artists spanning across numerous genres. I'm just guessing at the specifics of the influence though as I may be totally wrong. The title track is itself a wonderful bluesy jazz mix with added banjo. It is sublime.Then the likes of Wishing Well gets the shoulders moving, building up to a stonking little electric guitar solo. One of the many awesome such solos. Hit play above and enjoy!

Gigswise (that should so be a word - I'll write to the dictionary peeps), they are supporting another of my recent favourites, The Dreaming Spires on two dates of their forthcoming tour. Wednesday 7th November at the Wilmington Arms before heading to The Palmiera in Brighton on Friday 9th. I should then be seeing The Spires on their date in Oxford on Saturday 10th before the Tom McRae gig on Sunday 11th. There should also be a Kate Rusby gig in Northampton on that Friday for me so that will be one gigged up weekend for me. I won't want to go back to anything less than three per weekend after that I expect. I knew there was something uber important I had to get on with now I've been paid. Find affordable accommodation in Oxford for that Saturday night. It's not proving an easy task it must be said. Perhaps Trevor and Hannah may be up for renting out their Leyland Campervan for the night?

Trevor Moss & Hannah Lou
This duo really mesmerized me with their a cappella version of Nebraska for the recent Nebraska Sessions organised by the great Clubhouse Records. You can watch all the videos recorded for that project >>here<<. You should also keep your eyes peeled for the digital release of that album coming soon although I will of course keep you posted as and when news comes in.

Trevor and Hannah are releasing videos of them recording each of the tracks from their forthcoming album, La Femme De Fontenaille - released 5th November. It looks and sounds stunning and the excitement in me is building up to epic proportions. For the time nears when I will get to see them perform. They are quite within their rights to slap me for missing what I imagine was a superb set at Truck Festival back in July. Supporting TomMcRae on several dates of his solo tour I’m seeing them in Oxford. The duo then head out on their very own headline tour entitled Up The Club. This sees them tour a number of Social Clubs around the UK. This is a real treat, bringing great quality live music to the people. If they're playing a club near you, then get your tickets >>here<<. At just £5 per ticket, it is a wonderfully affordable evening of pure musical quality for you and the family.

If you are new to this sensational duo I have a distinct feeling the above video of the recording of fifth track on their album, Grand Tales In Tired Covers will have you salivating like a dog in a Pavlov experiment gone very wrong. Umbrellas will be required for all around you until you grab what is going to be an album of the year for sure!

Mat Gibson
WOW! Yes folks, this guy is one of those that requires the instant WOW! With an amazing voice, outstanding lyrics and an album brimming with superb quality tunes what more can you ask for? Long Goner is available to buy via Bandcamp for just £5. Just a little fiver. That's the blue paper one. Come on. Payday just hit and Mat deserves payment for such stellar work. That voice! WOW. I'm at it again. WOWing like I've been hit with the WOW stick or something. The opening track, Before The Dawn, which is the one I played on the show sets things off nicely. Did I say set? I can do better than that surely? Okay then, it doesn't set things off nicely. It kicks them off with a gale force power other artists can only dream of. The crispness to the sound blows the mind. Recorded in an old pump house near Shepperton on Thames, Mat really did capture the sonic depth he mentions, fully utilising the naturally large open space. Hit play and hear for yourselves but I warn you buckle up because it will suck you through a vortex with that gale force power I mentioned and you won't return until the closing notes of the final track.

Mat has other albums up for sale that are worth your time as well. 2011's Forest Fire is notably different but only in it sounds less atmospheric. This is not a criticism however because it is still chocked full to bursting with tunes of the highest quality. The overall sound comes down more on the americana side of things and those phenomenal vocals are present in all their glory. There's even a FREE download from this record for you so check this out below. BUT, please check out the rest of the album while you're at it too. I will be keeping a close eye on Mat over the next year. Not in a stalkery way, he'll be glad to hear but in the hope I can see him play live at some point.

Luke Jackson
As I recently wrote and published a full review of Luke's headline gig I just wanted to refer you to that >>here<< for more. As explained, it is from this show the recording I played is taken. I will mention again that Luke is currently on tour supporting Martyn Joseph so I urge you not to miss out on one heck of a great performance.  

The Cakes
Checking out the tunes of this band following Alex's kind comments on one of the posts on this blog, I was well impressed with what was presented to my ears. They sound like they should be played on mainstream radio. By that I mean the good stations and shows, playing proper real music like theirs. Dance Keith, Dance sounds like an indie anthem akin to those greats from the mid to late 90's in my opinion. It doesn't sound like it belongs to that time, however. It is fresh and contemporary, a tune for today but it just has the kind of quality from some bands of that time. Quite frankly, I'm amazed The Cakes aren't more well-known because they damn well should be. Their sense of humour rivals the funniest comedians too by the way. It's always nice when musicians succeed in actually being funny as opposed to those who just try but are so bad at it they deserve to have tomatoes thrown at them for their shocking puns and pathetic punchlines. Merely reading about how this band split up for a year because of the location issue (read it for a laugh) and how their main interests are Bacon, Cake, Cake Bacon, had me wishing I was at a gig right now. I cannot see this humour not translating to the stage to give audiences one heck of a fun time. With amazing music, to boot! Make sure you download some free tracks from their Reverbnation page. Quarantine is a pure delight too and I love how different it is to Dance, Keith Dance.

Art of Privilege
It's not all about softness and folk of course, as much as I love that. So, to satisfy the harder side of my musical likes, there's this Scottish hard rock band. Art of Privilege have been nominated for 'Best Rock Act' in the Online Music Awards so if you enjoy their sound why not help them out by voting for them via this >>link<<. Award season really is upon us isn't it? Voting for these great guys as well as for the podcast in the European Podcast Awards (nudge nudge, wink wink). The band's first single The Crawler is available via iTunes so click >>here<< to get your copy. You can sample the banging video for it below.

Grimsell in the Glasshouse
What struck me instantly from Rob Hirst's latest project in Grimsell in the Glasshouse, is the sheer diversity in the tracks up on their soundcloud page. What is being offered demonstrates the difference in styles these guys are capable of producing and this is something to keep their output fresh. It is progressive and experimental. Well worth checking out. The Acoustic tracks Lovefool and Emily are available via a mountain of sites including Spotify and iTunes.

Umbrella Harbor
Justin Waylon Morgan plays some rather good piano. The fact he pieces things together and just let's it come to him, is astonishing. Especially when the results are sounds like this. It's really great to just relax to or as I do, write to. His compositions can act as an inspiring soundtrack helping to break open those rusted locks to the doors within the creative areas of my mind. All of his music is available for free via his soundcloud page so do check out what's up there. Even for those of you who think instrumental alone isn't your kind of thing. Give it a try. You'll be surprised how hearing something as deep and inspiring as this will open you up to so many other areas of music. Justin says he does it for the enjoyment of it but with a talent like this he has to break into it professionally in some way in the future I'm sure of it! It is only a matter of time before someone discovers him. I know he wants to move to New York and being just a young chap his life is fully ahead. I think his future is going to be bright and involve music quite heavily. Who needs psychics? Thanks for the awesome music, mate and thanks for being a really interesting Twitter friend.

The Silent Union
Although only having a two track EP out at present, acquiring the talented vocal talents of Jay Tennant has meant The Silent Union are able to crack on with an ever-growing collection of songs which will serve for near-future recordings. With their infectious, atmospheric indie rock sound, Deliverance and Hurricane demonstrate their capabilities with flair and passion. It's exciting to be there at the birth of something special like this and I'm looking forward to hearing much more from this band over the coming months. You can download their Acoustic EP for free via soundcloud.

There's a wonderful review of this EP to which I refer you, on another music blog. As well as reading this one, the others up there are pretty impressive too. I'll be checking in to read more from Grahame at Indie Band Land in the future because what he has to say is well worth listening to. Technically it is what he has to write about music is well worth reading and taking notice of. That's for you purists out there.
Moving Along...

Sam Beeton
Nottingham's super sensational singer-songwriter Sam Beeton has a new track out! The latest addition to Season 2 of his Record Club dropped through the door one recent Saturday morning. It's always a great day to receive new tunes, particularly on a lazy relaxing Saturday. Well, I say lazy but I'm writing up parts of this so not technically completely lazy. Born At The End kicked my day off perfectly, as did this wonderful acoustic version filmed in a rescued Methodist chapel at the Tilford Rural Life Centre during Weyfest Music Festival. There's no explanation about what the chapel was rescued from exactly. An alien attack is possible but unlikely, I guess. Maybe it was rescued from an army of Fraggles?

As can be expected from Sam, the quality is phenomenal and that alone is reason enough for you to go join Season 2 of the Record Club right now. For full details click >>here<<. Or if you'd like a free song first to whet your appetites then click >>here<<. There's little doubt you'll be joining up to the club soon enough after hearing this and his other tunetastic treats.

The Fall of the Republic 
Recording this episode of the podcast has taken such a long time because as I mentioned I had to get it done in between sobbing fits at me having to miss the Dry The River gig I’d been waiting for these past six months. That sad sorry state of affairs is not all that caused these painful, heart-wrenching sobs. It was announced a few weeks ago that welsh indie rock band The Last Republic are to be no more. The Republic has fallen into ruin and disarray. Now I can appreciate what it must have felt like in Rome when everything went tits up. I feel like I should have been more prepared as band lead, Jonnie had been talking excitedly about working on a solo project for a good few weeks prior to this devastating news. Even so, I would still have been shocked. As it was, I was devastated. To lose such a great sounding band who come together so amazingly and offered up such tightly constructed music is a bitter blow. Their debut album Parade is a tour de force of what other bands should be doing if they wish to get it right and have any longevity.

Their reasons for disbanding are many and varied of course. They had a member leave which as a cohesive unit would naturally leave a bit of a gaping hole to the remaining members. I imagine with some bands, more so those formed of close friends or even perhaps when it isn’t so at the beginning but it becomes as much. Sometimes when one leaves, others wish to follow or lose the spark that unified the whole. It isn't always the case but when it is, I understand it is best to walk away than continue without the fire and passion that made it so great. Then there’s how incredibly tough it is to make a living doing it these days. The music business is broken. In the recent interview I posted on the blog with Adrian Banks from The Scholars, he described it perfectly with those words about it being broken at present and how it is working itself out. It means there isn’t much trust out there for investment in new bands and music making is a hundred times tougher than years gone by. Even with the advent of the internet and social networks, if the money and investment isn't there then self-promotion can only reach so far.

The guys did have some new tunes they were working on and recorded earlier in the year with a view to releasing them as a band. They were bloody good tunes too!! I could cry I tell thee. I’m just really glad I got to see them one last time at Truck Festival in July. Naturally I wish all members of the band well in whatever pursuits they follow and urge you to check out Jonnie’s solo project Bloodflower up on Facebook and Soundcloud

I’m really looking forward to more from Jonnie in the future and I will be keeping you posted. There’s one song up on the Bloodflower soundcloud page at the moment. If you’re expecting a mere solo version of the band with Indigo then you’re in for a big surprise. A very pleasant big surprise though. With Indigo you get something completely new although with a note of the distinct Jonnie vocals. It is awesome stuff and has already been played on BBC Radio Wales so congratulations Jonnie on breaking out there with only having just got this track recorded and shared. I believe there are more recordings in the bag and waiting to be unleashed. Bring them on, I say!

Angel Kelly
I simply have to share this latest song with you from the wonderful Angel Kelly and while I apologise if it makes you cry, it is totally worth it. Initially written as a poem for one of her very close friends' birthday, Angel sang it at that friend's Celebration of Life when she was laid to rest last year. It pulls at the heart to know of this and it makes what you experience all the more poignant and heartfelt. It really is a celebration of that friendship though and will leave you more with tears of happiness than sadness. Sombre tears of happiness, you might call them. It is quite simply one of the most beautiful songs I've had the pleasure of hearing. There are more tunes for you on Angel's website so do check those out as you pass by.

Brooke Sharkey
Thanks to Never Enough Press I've been introduced to the incredibly interesting Brooke Sharkey. There's a hint of Bjork to this folk-infused sound but it does twist and turn far beyond that one comparison. Again, it can be hard to put your finger on exactly what it should belong to but then I'm not one for pigeon-holing anyway, in spite of having to sometimes label things up for whatever reason. It is refreshing to get something so strikingly original and distinct as this. There's stardom ahead that's for sure. I can totally see Brooke singing out one of the tunes from the smashing debut album, One Dress - Out 5th December - on Later With Jools Holland. I have had a sneaky listen to the album and can confirm it is going to set the music world alight. The quality of music is sublime, with string arrangements so exquisite you'll think you're listening to a whole orchestra at some points. Then there's that wonderful vocal sound. Believe me, this girl is going places! Feel free to grab yourself a copy of the free downloadable track below and please do share it because music this good needs to get out there to as many ears as possible.

Brooke has just landed, or more likely sailed or trained, back in the UK following a stint of live gigs in France where she whiled away her teenage years. There was probably less whiling than I suggest here. She admits drawing on influences such as Billie Holiday, Edith Piaf and Bob Dylan, with more coming from 30's to 70's music than much of the contemporary stuff. Joanna Newsom is one of the more recent artists to have left a mark however. Now, I remember seeing Joanna on an episode of Jools Holland's show a few years back and I believe it would be impossible for anyone to not be in some way affected by the ethereal performance she gives. It is out of this world. Angelic. A pure delight. Citing the likes of Dylan and Newsom (hmm, think of what that double act could produce) then, I must say I'm excited to see Brooke perform live. I'm afraid a mixture of geography and finances will prevent me from doing so but it should certainly not stop you, if you are anywhere near the places she's stopping by on her November UK tour. The dates are listed below so please get along and support a truly remarkable artist!

There's also an album launch party on 5th December at St Pancras Old Church in London. I would so love to attend that but the same old story of geography, day job and lack of money will hinder me. I don't believe I'll have chance to write a full review of One Dress in time for the release but I will do my best to get something written down and up online over the coming weeks if you want my opinion. I absolutely love what I've heard so far! I'll also be playing His Voice on Band of Badgers Presents...#11.
UK Shows - November:
1st - The Revelry, Essex
2nd - Inside Out, Sidmouth
3rd - The Grapevine, Exmouth
6th - The Golden Lion, Bristol
8th - Porters Wine Bar, Hastings
11th - Onetaste Festival, The Bedford, Balham, London
15th - Pegs + Pans, The Vintage Emporium, London
18th - Glad Residency, The Gladstone, Borough, Lonon

To borrow a rather well-known phrase:

'And Now For Something Completely Different'

Now stick with me just for a wee little moment. Sit back, hit play and enjoy something that I think you'll agree verges on the surreal side of things. Yes it is. Fraggles. The little fuzzy creatures that live in 'the rock caves' under that lighthouse somewhere yonder. And yes, it is indeed Ben Folds Five reunited and playing a new tune, Do It Anyway featuring those fraggles. Mad isn't it? Good? What are your thoughts? I must admit I actually quite enjoyed it but remain unsure if it should be kept locked away in the vaults of my musical mind as a guilty pleasure. I will admit one thing. I want one of those Boy Gorg t-shirts. And now, thank you please!

'And Now For Something Even More Completely Different'

It is not my intention to cause any controversy and I sincerely hope you see the funny side in the below. I think it is hilarious and love its crazy madness. Enjoy! No, I know it has absolutely nothing to do with music but just imagine the soundtrack one could create to this. Great stuff, hope you like it too.

I do believe it is time to wrap up. The cold aside, it is time to bring this blogcast to a close. Haha, I am too funny. I know I'm not, don't worry. I am not taking up comedy. By the time this is published I'll most likely have #11 recorded or pretty much almost finished so you'll be able to hear that on Acoustic Spectrum at the usual time, although it will now be GMT as opposed to BST. I'm reminded by this due to the fact it is not much beyond 16:30 yet it is already getting dark. By the shortest day we may as well just stay in bed. Is the Earth moving in other ways do we think? Surely it shouldn't be this dark yet? Anyway, as always I digress. Where was I? Oh yes. As well as having #11 good to go,  all the tunes for #12 in place and #13 coming along nicely, I have about 4 special episodes planned. Organisation station - get in. Well, I shouldn't blow any trumpets or signal the fanfare just yet because a lot can happen in the next half hour so Stingray informed me.

I will sign off now so I can get on with finishing off my review of Glimore & Roberts' latest album, The Innocent Left which will also feature a little review of the awesome gig I went to last Saturday. An amazing night, an amazing album from two amazing musicians. The Innocent Left is OUT NOW and you can purchase a copy >>here<< or if iTunes is your thing then visit >>here<<. The official video for the opening track Scarecrow is below.  

Thanks for listening and reading and thanks as always to Marc Blasco for the opening theme to the podcast. Until next time, peace to you all.