New week, new music, and to kick it all off we’re featuring Newcastle four-piece the Grandfather Birds’ new single ‘Higher Bridges’.
The track is a perfect example of why these guys have been tipped as one of the best emerging artists on the north-east circuit at the moment, effortlessly blending folk-tinged guitar melodies with sharp drum beats and charismatic vocals. ‘Higher Bridges’ bursts into life with a lone guitar hook- reminiscent of Tears for Fears’ ‘Everybody Wants to Rule the World’.
Lead singer Matt produces the goods here with a confident mix of confessional verses and an optimistic and lively chorus that showcases his vocal range almost to its very limits. At points strained, his voice conveys the emotional bounce of the instrumental arrangement his vocals cut through, producing a convincing and catchy hook that’ll have you humming along- we particularly like the refrain.
The understated rhythm that keeps the track upbeat even when the lyrics dip into darker places, achieved through the subtle drum beat that energizes the track and a plum bass line that puts in the leg work beneath the more elaborate guitar work.
Overall, we think it’s a top tune!
Pre-order it now, or download it on it’s release date of 2 May 2011 from the band’s website or off itunes. In the meantime, give it (and B’side ‘She Likes it on the Left’) a listen here.
SOUNDS LIKE: Jeff Buckley, Tears for Fears, Folk, Pop, Indie rock all shook up and presented with long hair and a stubble.
RATING: 4/5 Spring is here!
Poetry reinvented: An interview with northern-folk outfit, the Lake Poets – by Betty Hammer
The Lake District is a rural area in the north west of England, famed for its green and hilly scenery, beautiful fresh-water lakes and as the birthplace of some of the most avant-garde and romantic poetry British literature has ever seen. It’s also given us one more thing to be thankful for- folk artist the Lake Poets.
Track – Windowsill – by The Lake Poets.
You’ve probably never heard of the Lake Poets (the band that is, not Wordsworth and his crew) but they- or should I say he- is producing some of the best folk music on the UK circuit at present. The band comprises of singer/songwriter Martin Longstaff. A 23 year old MA student, Longstaff hails from Sunderland- a city in the centre of the industrial north, more famed for its football team the Black Cats, shipbuilding and coal mining than its folk-output. Oh, and it’s given us those other fellas from Sunderland The FutureHeads. Not that he sounds anything like them…
When the Lake Poets take to the stage, it is just one voice and a guitar.
Whilst the simplicity is traditional, his voice is simply something else. At a recent gig supporting Mammal Club, Longstaff took to the stage relatively unnoticed. But within 30 seconds of his opening song the room- 100 or so people- had fallen completely silent. The effect was surreal and reminiscent of the first time I saw Damien Rice play to a small gig of 50 people, just before the release of his best-selling album O. Few artists- Rice, Bon Iver and a handful of others- have the ability to mesmerise in that way and I hadn’t seen anything like it since- until the Lake Poets.
Longstaff’s voice is- simply put- stunningly beautiful. That sounds a bit wet – but there’s no better way to describe the raw mix of tenderness and understated vulnerability, so unusual in a man’s voice. It cuts right through the middle of the gender divide and really stirs emotion, catching you completely off guard.
He’s also a bloody good guitarist, and his skilled mix of picking, quiet verses and emphatic choruses provides real entertainment. Softly spoken, Longstaff drives a masculine analysis of the world so rarely expressed, much of which is drawn from the immediate world around him;
I had a nice upbringing; my parents worked really hard and came from very little. Both my granddads worked down the shipyard- my dad was a mechanical engineer down the pit. When I was born, my dad fell in with the miner strike… it changed things for him. After that fell apart, he thought ‘Stuff this, I’m not going to join the army’- which seemed to be the only other option available for people like him- so instead, he went to University. My mam supported him and he worked really hard and got his degree .
This ‘work hard and pursue your dreams’ ethos was inspired by another personal experience for Longstaff- the sad and unexpected death of his grandfather last April. “It made me realise that life is short, and if there’s something you want to do, you’ve just got to go out there and do it”. So, mid-2010, Longstaff went out and started playing.
In a relatively short space of time, he’s made a name for himself as one of the north-east’s premier folk musicians, and has shared the stage with the crème of the northern independent music scene. The Lake Poets have also just completed their first major tour in support of Ben Montague & Leddra Chapman, playing a string of dates across including Newcastle, London, Oxford and Edinburgh. And judging by the jump in downloads of the demo E.P and explosion of followers on Twitter, Longstaff’s making quite an impression.
So what does the future hold? The Lake Poets are through to the final 16 of the Generator/Head of Steam competition to play at this summer’s Evolution festival. The prize is a big one; if he wins, he’ll be sharing a billing with the likes of Iggy and the Stooges, 2 Door Cinema Club, Hercules and the love affair and fellow folkie Karthyn Williams. Not bad for a fella that’s only been doing it for 12 months.
As for a recording…“There’s been interest from a few record labels, but interestingly, most are either from North America or Australia… A couple of guys out there asked to plug my stuff, I said yeah. Why not?” As for the UK? He’s in no rush to sign to a label here either; “to be honest, I take the music mostly as a hobby- I love doing it, and want to do as well as I can for myself- but money and fame aren’t big motivation for me. I just enjoy playing”.
As long as the gigs keep rolling in, the Lake Poets will keep evolving.
The Lake Poets are playing a string of dates across the UK- check their site for details. Their debut E.P is expected mid-2011.
Whilst the likes of Pitchfork and Stereogum have been hailing these guys for years, it’s taken us here at Creature a little bit longer to catch on but good-golly have we discovered a treat! A review copy of Canadian folksters’ The Rural Alberta Advantage’s sophomore album Departing landed in our inbox and we’ve had it on loop ever since.
With stand out tracks like ‘Two Lovers’, ‘North Star’,’ Stamp’ and the energetic rip-up ‘Barnes’ Yard’ the album is jam-packed with emotionally wrought folk-pop treats that are guided by an imposingly wintry Canadian landscape. Lead vocalist Nils Edenloff’s voice is the craggy centre-point of the three-piece, hailing from northern alberta’s Fort McMurry- an isolated settlement in Alberta’s green forests on the northern fringes of Canadian society. Now based in Toronto, Edenloff and bandmates Amy Cole- keyboards, backing-vocals/tambourine- and Paul Banwatt – drums/percussion- sing songs born out of an engagement with Canada’s national landscape and cultural identity.
Video for “Stamp”
It’s a bit of a shame this album wasn’t released around the New Years, as it’s a rather bleak and decidedly wintry album, full of lyrical images of ice, snow and chilled emotions. Now we’re moving into spring there’s a chance the album won’t get the full airing it deserves as it is so sobering, but if you’re still feeling a little cold in the toes , no doubt you’ll be impressed by the arrangements and layering of harmonies on ‘Muscle Relaxant’. And with the nights still closing in dark, ‘North Star’ will warm your heart with its deliciously infectious melody- we’ve been humming it all week and it’s warding off the night-time blues.
Only 33 minutes long, it’s disappointingly short, but criticism is strictly saved for the length of the record. The calibre of song-writing is top-notch, and Edenloff, Cole and Banwatt come very close to surpassing their stunning debut album with Departing.
Powered by Edenloff’s grated and unpolished vocals, tracks such as ‘Two Lovers’ negotiate the seasonal changes of the heart; relationships for the backbone theme of the album, played out in a frozen arena that thaws and snows through a lackadaisical arrangement of keys and guitar licks. The perspective is refreshingly and unapologetically masculine; consuming love and infatuation are coupled with exhaustion and wearing-through, Edenloff wails “I never know when I’m holding you too tightly”. You might feel that through his voice alone Edenloff could turn his lover to dust.
The Rural Alberta Advantage is an important band to watch out for in the coming year, and are gracing UK shores with their presence with a summer tour in May.
SOUNDS LIKE: Neutral Milk Hotel, Billy Corgan, Bob Dylan, The Fray, Conner Oberst
BEST TRACKs: Stand-out track include ‘North Star’, ‘Two Lovers’ and single ‘Stamp’
LISTEN TO IF: you’re feeling philosophical
FIND OUT MORE: http://theraa.com
Darling indie-poppers Exlovers release their new single ‘Blowing Kisses’ on Y&L club on 28th February. With their boy/girl harmonies and guitar driven melodies, they’re comparible to the gender-bending early days of Placebo by way of Belle & Sebastian with lots of sunshine thrown into the mix.
After the 2009 release of their 10” vinyl EP through Chess Club Records, the band have slowly built a serious reputation around the bones of their lo-fi 90s indie-pop sound, which taps into the transient whimsical nature of kidulthood and romance. Having gained radio support from major djs such as Zane Lowe and Steve Lamacq, the Exlovers are now signed to ‘powerhouse of indie goodness’ Young & Lost Club records. They’ve also embarked on their UK tour to coincide with the release of bittersweet love song ‘Blowing kisses‘.
A break-neck example of the type of sound the band are capable of achieving, the track is a 2 minute window into the confusion and the wonder of first love, symbolically driven home through a hi-hat pulse that kicks like a heartbeat, or more aptly, like the first-flush excitement of romance. ‘Blowing kisses‘ is about the genderless pits and troughs of falling in love and the complicatedness it brings to life- ‘blowing kisses, telling tales, I know you’re waiting for someone else’.
The boy/girl dynamic of the group gives a sense of credulence to a track that encompasses a visage of melodious pep elevated above a current of heartache. Having drawn comparisons to the likes of Belle and Sebastian, or currently en vogue Warpaint with their emotional narrative style and lilting vocal harmonies, this track certainly does credit to those shout-outs, producing a really lovely track that’ll sit nicely on any spring time compilation. We’re moving out of the winter, but we’re not quite in the sun.
Currently recording their new album with Demian Costallanos and Jimmy Robertson (Florence and the Machine), it should be released late in 2011 and is definately something to look forward to. In the meantime, put this track on and think back to the first “I love you”…
LISTEN TO: if you like Warpaint, Belle & Sebastian, The Pipettes, early Brian Molko meets Elliot Smith FIND IT: Pre-order the limited 7″ vinyl from Y&LC… Get it on itunes from 28 feb AND/OR for free stream at the band’s soundcloud page. You can also download the b-side Moth-eaten memories for FREE here…. it’s a cracker. RATE IT: 3/5