Music Mondays #3 – Flaming June

Blogging??? It must be MONDAY! Alright, it’s technically going to be Tuesday before this is up but I haven’t been to bed yet and it’s my blog so I make the rules… Which is actually why we’re running late…

This week I decided I was going to write about Megan Henwood as I only first heard (and met) her recently, but it turns out that she’s won a bunch of awards and has the support of a label, so I had to rule her out. Sorry Megan, independent artists only (she’s still really good though). So, here’s a (literal) eleventh hour replacement blog.

You can see the thought process behind all of this here, but every Monday I’m going to highlight an independent artist who I think deserves a bit of promotion and some of your valuable time. Hopefully I’ll make them sound interesting enough that you’ll click the link and show them some support or share their work with your own social network of choice.

Flaming June

The pseudonym of singer/songwriter Louise Eatock and her backing band, Flaming June have been self-funding a series of EPs on their own label since 1999 which is pretty much the definition of what we’re looking for on this blog. Based around the now familiar modern folk format of acoustic guitar, bass, drums and violin, they describe themselves as “indie folk” but across their releases thus far there are tinges of acoustic punk, straight pop, rockabilly and folk of various flavours. There are strong choruses to be joined in with and some really infectious earworms to be found; Nerves Of Steel, Dopamine Oxytocin, and the haunting piano riff from Heal Me, Believe Me spring to mind. But there’s also a smart, fiercely confrontational and independent spirit behind the songwriting, unafraid to write frankly and openly about abusive relationships (I Know What It’s Like), the representation of female characters in fairytales (Freedom’s Fairytale For Girls) and also find time to mock the hypocrisy of the oblivious (The Insane Ex-Girlfriend Parade). I mean, where else would you find an album title like Rumpelstiltskin & The Perils and Promises of Womanhood? It won’t be for everyone, but if folk with strong melodies and complex, sometimes challenging, themes is your thing then you should click the links.

Links, glorious links! – Flaming June have an official site, and are pretty active on Facebook.You can listen to and purchase their music at their Bandcamp site. You can also get them on Amazon/iTunes, but Bandcamp pays more money direct to the artist so please check it out.

Essential Album – It has to be In Pursuit Of Happiness. The step up in musicianship, arrangement, production quality, and the maturity and polish of the songwriting in the two years between the previous release and In Pursuit Of Happiness is striking. It retains the bitter emotional bite of the earlier work wrapped in more accessible and, for me, enjoyable music.

Essential Track – This was actually a tricky call between a couple on the album mentioned above, with an honourable mention to the hilarious The Insane Ex-Girlfriend Parade from Nerves of Steel. But, I am going for moody, violin/drum driven romance tale of The Sailor Boy. Brilliantly evocative.

 

What do you think of the artists I’ve featured so far? Do you have a favourite independent artist that you think I should listen to? Drop a note in the comments and let me know, I don’t promise to use them all but I do promise I’ll listen to every single one of them! See you next week…

Music Mondays #2 – Mother Mooch

And here we are again! As detailed in my original post on the topic, every Monday I’m going to highlight an independent artist that I think deserves a bit of promotion and internet love. There will be a bit of blurb on each artist, links to where you can find them online, and my picks for an essential album and single track that you should check out even if you try nothing else. Hopefully I’ll make them sound interesting enough that you’ll click the link and show them some support or share their work with your own social network of choice. Let’s get stuck in to #2…

Mother Mooch

I’ve seen a lot of different genres thrown around to describe this Dublin-based band – fuzz rock, psychedelic rock, desert rock, doom-grunge – but I think the fact that they are a little bit different is why I keep going back to their album up every now and then. So, how would I describe them? If you were to imagine a female-fronted cross between Queens Of A Stone Age, Monster Magnet and Black Sabbath you’d probably be in the right ballpark, and damn it’s a really fun ballpark to be in. The band themselves clearly have a strong idea of what they want to be, and there’s plenty of variation in their debut album to keep you engaged and be pretty broadly appealing. Album opener The Tempest is a combination of moody grunge and balls-out desert rock, all fuzzy guitars and attitude and – while this isn’t the album for fans of shredding – whether grinding out thick grunge riffs on Misery Hill or providing clean, moody atmospheric hooks on tracks like Into The Water the guitar work here is always bold and effective. The tight rhythm section drives the whole thing along, the vocals are full and drip with character and attitude, the lyrics are full of dark themes – it’s a rich, heady mix which everyone should try once. I’m really looking forward to seeing where this band goes. Check them out!

Links, glorious links!  You can find the band at mothermooch.com, and you can listen to and purchase their songs at their Bandcamp site.

Essential Album – This is pretty easy as at the time of writing they only have one full album out, Nocturnes, but it’s really good. You should listen to it.

Essential Track – Into The Water is probably the album’s standout earworm with it’s strong hook, but my personal pick is Misery Hill – a thick slice of Monster Magnet-style psychedelic rock.

 

Do you have a favourite independent artist that you think I should listen to? Drop a note in the comments and let me know, I don’t promise to use them all but I promise I’ll listen to every single one of them.

Music Mondays #1 – James PM Phillips

So, what happens when you announce you’ll be doing a weekly blog? You immediately catch a virus that knocks you on your arse for a couple of weeks meaning you totally fail to post, silly! Apologies for that. In order to get back on track for being ill recently, and to make this inaugural post a bit special, today I’ll be posting two entries to catch us up.

As detailed in my original post on the topic, every Monday I’m going to highlight an independent artist that I think deserves a bit of promotion and internet love. There will be a bit of blurb on each artist, links to where you can find them online, and my picks for an essential album and single track that you should check out even if you try nothing else. Hopefully I’ll make them sound interesting enough that you’ll click the link and show them some support or share their work with your own social network of choice. Let’s start with…

James PM Phillips

Full disclosure, I’ve known James for many years. Does this make me biased? Maybe, but I’ve never worked on any of his music and I’m not on commission so I think I’m safe. That said, James makes fantastic and intelligent folk music which is worth your time. An accomplished multi-instrumentalist and a great singer, for me his ability to tell wonderful, evocative stories through his music really elevates it. Songs like She Said, Four Years, and Mary paint compelling, and often incomplete, portraits of melancholy characters that resist the urge to give too much information, leaving it up to the listener to fill in the blanks. These contrast with the heartfelt first-person narratives of tracks like Ring Of Flowers or Give Me Wings, but which are no less poetic in their execution. Fans of unusual guitar tunings and poetic lyrics would do well to give James a listen.

In addition to all of this, James dedicates an enormous amount of time and energy to giving opportunities and exposure to other independent and young acts through running various gig nights and open mic nights. People like this keep independent music alive and kicking, and that helps to make him exactly the sort of person that deserves to be opening this blog.

Links, glorious links! – James is on Facebook, and you can listen to and purchase his work at his Bandcamp site.

Essential Album Tea And Hangovers. This EP has best production quality, some of my favourite writing and I think James knocked the vocals on this album out of the park.

Essential Track – I have huge soft spots for Love You and Give Me Wings, but if you can only check out one track, I would recommend Ring Of Flowers.

 

Do you have a favourite independent artist that you think I should listen to? Drop a note in the comments and let me know, I don’t promise to use them all but I promise I’ll listen to every single one of them.

Independent Music Mondays

“It’s never been cheaper and easier to make music. It’s never been cheaper and easier to distribute music. It’s never been harder to get people to pay for it.”

This is something that’s been on my mind for a little while now, for a variety of reasons. Being the type of guy who hangs out with independant musicians who don’t have label packing or huge fanbases, this sort of conversation comes up a lot. Income from downloads from services like Amazon and iTunes are down, streaming services pay artists basically nothing, and music venues and studios are offering less opportunities to artists than they used to. Just like many small business owners/self employed people, it is lean times for a lot of artists. Sure, there are innovative ways to make a living if you are a smart business person, but not all talented musicians are also great at business, marketing, production or the many other things involved in being a musician today.

But instead of moaning about it, let’s try (in our own small way) to do something about it.

The internet is a great tool for making people aware of artists you’ve never heard of. The more people who see a link, the more people will click the link, and the more people will find a new artist they like. So, every Monday for the rest of 2017, I will be using this blog to promote an independent artist. Not someone with a million subscribers already, but someone who I think is creating interesting work and deserves a little bit of your attention. There’ll be links to where you can listen to (and buy) their music, and all I’m asking people to do is check the artist out. Some I hope you’ll like and some you won’t, but if you like what you hear, buy a song or two. Leave some feedback on their site. Maybe tell your friends. Our support is what enables these artists to continue to make the music we enjoy.

So, that’s the plan for Mondays. We’ll see how it goes. If you have any suggestions for artists you’d like to see featured, or ones that you just think I might to listen to, post a comment below with the details. At the very least I promise to check them out. 🙂

Blatant advertisment

Do you like your music folky, emotive and tinged with fantastical storytelling? If so, go to http://jamiewakefield.bandcamp.com/ and check out the clips there of “Hit & Mist”, and pay the princely sum of £9 to donwload the whole album, or even individual tracks if you like.

What’s that? You already have a copy? Don’t feel left out, chum! You can also purchase “Second Wave“, an EP featuring the extra tracks from the Pre-Order edition as well as remastered versions of Jamie’s other works.

In all seriousness, please – at least click the link, check out the preview clips and make your mind up whether you like what you hear. Support independant music and musicians, and help us make more.

Cheers!

Brief Update

You are not going crazy, but this may be as close to crazy as you’ll ever feel.

  Just a quick update to say that I’ve not disappeared from the world, just that I’ve forgotten about blogging a wee bit. As many of you will know my Dad died what is now just over six months ago. Since then my appetite for music, for most things to be honest, has been very up and down. Right now it’s running at a fairly low ebb. It’s funny how you can feel like you’re doing OK some days, and then out of nowhere it sneaks up on you and sucker punches you in the kidneys.

 

  For now feel free to take a look at the current tracks at My Soundcloud page, and hopefully I’ll have some new material coming soon to enthuse about.