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Archive for February, 2012

 

Who: Hue and Cry 

Title: Hot Wire

Label: Blairhill records

Tell me more: The Kane brothers were extremely able in the 1980s when they blew out of  Coatbridge, Lanarkshire with their soul-funk inspirations which seemed to be popular in Scotland at the times with the likes of Love and Money and Hipsway. I Refuse was the first real sign of their talent, and few did.

The Lowdown: They’ve been listening to New Orleans funk, Sly and the Family Stone and maybe Curtis Mayfield, while observing the world at large. Opener, Duty to the Debtor is, as the title suggests, a diatribe on debt and poverty; Hand and Heart reworks the socialist slogan: “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need,” and life after the Arab Spring and other recent uprisings feature on If You Want Changes. Live, Pat and Greg Kane would be a fantastic party act, on Hot Wire the funk-soul mood works on such songs as Duty to the Debtor and If You Want Changes, but, the album doesn’t have a gear change.

Anything else: Pat Kane is also a clever clogs and an activist, instrumental in forming Artists for an Independent Scotland, a contributor to The Guardian and once Rector of the University of Glasgow.

 

 

Who: The Dø

Title: Both Ways Open Jaws

Label: Six Degrees

Tell me more: The double FFs combine, as in French multi-instrumentalist Dan Levy and Finnish singer Olivia Merilahti, who first teamed up in 2005 for a film soundtrack and then worked on a side project. This is The Dø’s second album, following A Mouthful from 2008.

The Lowdown: There’s similarities to Air and St Vincent on Both Ways … that atmospheric fusion of folk and basic elements of ambience, the kind of music you would play as the sun comes up on an all-night party on an Australian beach or in the middle of a long road trip when you need a backdrop to the endless desert or fields. Merilahti has a beautiful voice and Levy is adept that working his beats and rhythms around her, notably on The Wicked, the finest song Goldfrapp never recorded, or Gonna Be Sick! in which the Finn makes lines such as “gonna throw up” seem like a Sunday afternoon pleasure.

 

 

Who: Paul Kelly

Title: Greatest Hits: Songs From the South Volumes 1 and 2

Label: Dramatico

Tell me more: Australian musical exports make me shiver: Mental As Anything, Kylie, INXS, and various soap stars who’ve attempted to make a career out of bad cover versions and dance beats. A shame as it hides talents such as Midnight Oil, Nick Cave, The Go-Betweens and The Laughing Clowns. Paul Kelly, I have to say, I know nothing of, and that’s the same with most reviewers outwith the Lucky Country I assume. However, he garners enormous respect in Australia after a career that dates back to the mid-70s.
The Lowdown: Naturally, singing about your own culture, country and politics isn’t going to endear you to people in London or Los Angeles, but Kelly is a storyteller and his stories come from his travels and from his observations on Australia, such as From Little Things Grow Big Things, about Aboriginal land rights. He’s collaborated with Indigenous group Yothu Yindi, sampled Australian prime ministers and penned a tribute to outback outlaw Ned Kelly. Sometimes it’s just Kelly, sometimes he has a backing band, the Coloured Girls, or the Messengers.

There’s a lot to survey on Greatest Hits, as it covers a long period, from 1985’s St Kilda to King’s Cross to a light-hearted ditty about cricketer Shane Warne. Sport rarely features in music, but Kelly has also written a tribute on Ashes legend Don Bradman, which avoids cliches and platitudes. There’s far too much in here at 40 tracks to cover in this instance, but the tracks that have captured my attention so far, include Pouring Petrol On A Burning Man, with all the passion of a Midnight Oil single, the pop-frenzy of Look So Fine, Feel So Low and a live take of Every Fucking City which gets the crowd laughing in a very un-rock’n’roll manner as it relates to Kelly’s time in Europe when everywhere he went Livin’ La Vida Loca was being played. All the fucking time.

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Irving to be precise, a New Yorker currently on the road in New Zealand, just him, a trusty bicycle (a Surly Lone Haul Trucker cycle cross with 27 gears) with a trailer packed with a banjo, bouzouki, shruti box, Jew’s harp, mbira and a toothbrush. Irving’s playing up to 80 performances on the road, covering about 6000km across this magnificent country. He says his music is an “eclectic mix of song, story and illusion, designed to be shared in intimate spaces.” He will be playing in people’s homes all across the South and North islands over four months.

After about three weeks on the road I caught up with Gideon . I asked him first of all how’s he managing to lug all that stuff around:

“I am biking between 20 and 90km a day so far and hauling around about 65 kilos of gear. Aside from everything I need I carry a back-up set of many items in case something should break. People see what I’m doing and they say ‘so how long have you been a cyclist’, I tell them I am not a cyclist. I am just a guy who bought a bike and started pedalling. Maybe by the end of the trip I’ll feel differently. The biking is always very, very challenging for me. And many times I arrive to someone’s home and only have a couple hours before the show starts. It’s a challenge but a wonderful one and I’m loving every minute of it.”

How are you arranging the gigs, homestays?  

“Before I got to NZ I arranged about eight gigs through couchsurfer.org. Then I got some press including an interview with Kirsten Johnstone on Music 101 (on Radio New Zealand) and that brought in about 20 invitations. People providing contacts post-show has probably been the biggest booking tool next to the radio interview. I also put out the word to my network back home for any contacts and that has brought in about five shows. It looks like by the end of May, where I will end with a few shows in Christchurch again, I will play between 50-80 shows. Newspaper articles have helped too.”

I tell some stories that kind of bleed into song. I do some things with a looper. I make some odd and dramatic noises at unexpected moments. There is some backwards singing.

How are the shows being received?

“The shows have been received very, very well. People have seemed quiet and engaged and impressively present. Playing shows in people’s homes lends itself to that kind of atmosphere as well. There isn’t a bar, the music isn’t background. You have an hour where people have come to listen to you. For the most part the audiences have been overwhelmingly warm. They seem to be pretty surprised for the most part.

“My show is a bit on the unusual side. I tell some stories that kind of bleed into song. I do some things with a looper. I make some odd and dramatic noises at unexpected moments. There is some backwards singing. I think people are also struck by some odd instruments they have never seen before. Shruti Box, mbira, Jew’s Harps, bouzouki and even the banjo. Shows are always free, but I put my CD’s out for sale and have my helmet out as well for koha. I tell folks they can pay whatever they like for the CD as I am excited to share it with anyone who would like one, but the suggested price is $20. I also say I am grateful for any donations or koha towards my journey/project/tour. Folks have been very generous.”

What’s the most bizarre one(s) so far?

“Hmmmmm….. they haven’t been that weird, mostly just very lovely. One of my favourites so far was in a kitchen in Dunedin. Nine people cozied in between the sink and the stove and we had ourselves a music show. They were a fantastic bunch. The kitchen turns out to be a great space for performance. The room they were going to do it in was ‘destroyed by cats’.

“Audiences have been between six and 100 (100 was at a school for 8-10 year olds, otherwise between six and 45).  In Ashburton my hosts had been overseas for nine months and used my show as an excuse to have a sort of welcome home party. Played in an artist’s loft in Timaru and my host, with his music mates, did a blues rock excerpt from Romeo and Juliette.”

Irving’s album My Brother Is Isaac is out now, available from his website:

http://www.mynameisgideon.com

It’s a great album, but I don’t have space here to give it justice so will review in a future post.

More info on it from this site:

http://mynameisgideon.bandcamp.com/

and more on the tour here:

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1303159828/my-name-is-gideon-way-over-there-tour

 

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