Recent Listening

Album cover shows the band dancing in a field against a low sun wearing richly patterned robes

First Aid Kit, The Lion’s Roar (2012)

First Aid Kit have been my band of 2018 and I think this is my favourite of their albums. It might be the most folk-influenced.

Top track, Wolf

Album cover shows an abstract painting in black, blues and purples

Kristin Hersh, Hips & Makers (1994)

Kristin Hersh’s first solo album has this incredible, raw energy. Stripped down to voice, acoustic guitar and cello, the songs have a purity and sharpness that goes right through you. Painful but cathartic.

Top tracks, Your Ghost and The Letter

Album cover is a head and shoulder photograph of Brandi Carlile in yello sepia tones. She is wearing a wide-brimmed hat and looking directly into the camera

Brandi Carlile, The Firewatcher’s Daughter (2015)

I went off Brandi Carlile for a while, but I seem to be back into her again after listening to this album. Big tunes, great vocals, full of heart.

Top track, The Eye

Album cover is an abstract photographic image with faded typeset lyrics

Thea Gilmore, Songs from the Gutter (2002)

Songs from the Gutter is more of a collection of odds and ends than a coherent album, but it contains some of my favourite tracks.

Top tracks, I Dreamed I Saw Saint Augustine and December in New York 

 

Album cover is a yellow-toned photograph of the artist standing outside on a street. She is facing the camera and wearing a black top with thin straps

Corinne Bailey Rae, Corinne Bailey Rae (2006)

Lovely, warm, summary album, one that I put on to cheer myself up.

Top track, Put Your Records On

Album cover is a photograph of Martha Wainwright's face under a pinkish read filter

Martha Wainwright, Martha Wainwright (2005)

This is one of those albums which feels like an artist finally getting to release all the work they’ve had stored up for ages. It’s a beautiful burst of energy and that song about her Dad ….

Top Track, Bloody Motherfucking Asshole

Album cover is a cartoon image if a yellow octopus wearing a crown against a purple background with stars

Veruca Salt, Eight Arms to Hold You (1997)

I listened to this for the first time in ages and I’d forgotten how good it is, just a mighty album full of drums and huge riffs. I love it all.

Top tracks: Volcano Girls  and Shutterbug 

Album cover is a vintage black and white photograph of people fighting or having fun (I'm not sure!)

Sleater Kinney, All Hands on the Bad One (2000)

My second favourite from their earlier albums (my fave is Dig Me Out). Loud, in-your-face and a lot of fun.

Top track, You’re No Rock n’ Roll Fun

Album of the Week: Kate Bush, ‘The Dreaming’ (1982)

Kate_Bush_The_Dreaming_Cover

Arguably Kate Bush’s strangest work, I feel like The Dreaming has had a role in shaping my personality. I spent entirely too much time dancing round the kitchen to this album when I was a kid. I was fascinated by the weird, even scary, soundscape. Kate Bush has called it her “I’ve gone mad album” and the listening experience does feel like being inside someone’s mind. As a little kid, I was particularly impressed by the vocals. I couldn’t believe that a woman could make all those different sounds. My favourite track then was ‘Night of the swallow‘ because I liked the strings and bagpipes, but as an adult woman who is more interested in setting boundaries, I find myself most excited by the door-slamming chaos of ‘Get out of my house’.  Play loud, as the sleeve notes advise.

Meanwhile, in other Kate Bush news, hundreds of fans celebrate ‘Wuthering Heights Day’ by recreating the 1978 video.

RIP Lesley Gore

Singer-songwriter dies aged 68

Her signature song is as relevant as ever.

You Don’t Own me

“You don’t own me, I’m not just one of your many toys
You don’t own me, don’t say I can’t go with other boys

And don’t tell me what to do
And don’t tell me what to say
And please, when I go out with you
Don’t put me on display, ‘cause

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Soundtrack to 2013

I’m no music geek, but taking time out to listen to music is quite important to my mental health.  At the beginning of 2013, I felt that my collection had stagnated a bit and decided to try and listen to a wider range of artists.  I remembered my Last.fm. account and made myself use the “mix radio” option.

One of the first new discoveries of the year was Anais Mitchell. I love her album Young Man in America (2012) and her gorgeous traditional folk collaboration with Jefferson Hamer, Child Ballads (2013).  In 2014 I hope to get to know Hadestown.  Santigold was another new find for me in 2013. Her fusion of pop, rock, hip hop and reggae creates a glorious sound. Bat for Lashes grew on me – Natasha Kahn’s slightly eerie melodies didn’t appeal at first, but they crept up on me and I’ve now  got three of her albums.

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Soundtrack to January 2013

Johnny Cash’s American Recordings (1994) is perfect music for dark, winter evenings. It’s a comeback record that marks the beginning of Cash’s immensely creative partnership with Rick Rubin. I think it’s worth getting for the cover of Leonard Cohen’s ‘Bird on a Wire’ alone. Steve Earle’s Transcendental Blues (2000) is an all-round brilliant folk album, featuring a diverse range of songs with an Irish-American flavour.  Neil Young’s triple album compilation, Decade (1977) is just a sublime retrospective and contains some of my favourite Young songs, such as ‘Expecting to Fly’, ‘Helpless’ and ‘Winterlong’.  What’s even more amazing is that this retrospective was produced so early in his career.

Thea Gilmore’s Songs from the Gutter (2002)  is not her most consistent work, but a great showcase of her talents, with catchy protest songs, soaring ballads and some excellent covers, perhaps most notably the version of Bob Dylan’s ‘I Dreamed I Saw St Augustine’.  Ani DiFranco may finally be growing on me. I really like her upbeat last album, Which Side are you on? and the song ‘Red Letter Year’ was my New Year track.  PJ Harvey’s ‘Peel Session’ recordings (1991 – 2004) offer stripped down, intimate versions of her songs, some of which I prefer to the original album versions (‘You Came Through’ and ‘Victory’ are my favourites). Kristin Hersh’s sixth solo album, The Grotto (2003), is the one that I listen to the least, not because I dislike it, but because there’s a vulnerability to it that I find a little too intense and raw. It feels like the older and sadder sister of 1994’s Hips and Makers

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