Mid-Afternoon Compilation Saturday: Reason To Believe – The Songs Of Tim Hardin

something to believeTry as I might, I don’t think that this will ever be a regular occurrence – in my defence however, Saturday is currently the one day of the week I don’t work, so I tend to sleep right through them nowadays rather than seek out fresh compilations to badly wax lyrical about.  Nice bit of serendipity today though, as this arrived today (ahead of Monday’s release – one of the benefits of buying direct from a label), I’m already awake and it’s far too cold to go outside and do anything anyway.

I must admit I know very little about Tim Hardin, other than that his story is a troubled one and full of every cautionary pointer for any aspiring singer-songwriter to heed.  What I do  know is that he left a rich legacy of much-covered work, and that my own attraction to this collection was piqued by the wealth of artists lending their talents to this tribute.  A general rule of thumb (such a weird phrase to retain in modern language – look it up!) for me when buying non-charity compilations or tributes to unfamiliar subjects is naturally based upon the assembled artists and whether there are enough I like to warrant forking out the necessary; thankfully there is a veritable host of the familiar and the essential, plus a couple of others who I’d been meaning to give a listen to elsewhere and the remainder made up of interesting unknown quantities.  So this compilation should be tailor-made for this desk.

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Orkney: Symphony Of The Magnetic North

There’s a word I’d like to get out of the way before starting this thing properly.  Orcadian is a word that has appeared in probably every single press mention of delightful folk-popsters Erland and the Carnival, and definitely in at least one that I’ve done on here (albums reviewed hither and thither).  It’s a word included not just as a matter of geographical fact (it’s where vocalist Gawain Erland Cooper hails from, but more on that later), but because it’s also such a beautiful word to both see and say, made more so for the reason that most of us so rarely get the chance to use it.

This beauty now extends to this collection of songs, Orcadian in subject and spirit – and it’s this spirit of Orkney that pushed this project into existence in the first place.

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Diagrams – Black Light

The first record of 2012 is here at last!  Well, the first one I’ve got round to buying, anyway.  I’ve been looking forward to this one for a while after buying their (his?) debut EP on a whim at the end of last summer and really enjoying its baffling stylistic multi-direction, each song suggesting a different direction that this project could embark upon.  Taking on board the spirits of Peter Gabriel, Elbow, Bon Iver and a healthy dose of traditional (and not-so-traditional) folk elements, the songs on that EP were elements that all fitted in with each other whilst managing to distance themselves musically.  The title of this first full-lengther would suggest more of the same, Black Light suggesting a harmonious oxymoron.

So with that in mind, it’s actually rather nice (and somewhat rare) to be able to buy a record knowing that I’m almost certain to like it but without actually having much of a clue about what it is I’m actually going to be liking…

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Best of 2011, 40-31

And now for the next bit.  This is a good one to expose the utter unfairness in doing these things, as there’s one in this section that I have had for a few days that would probably have placed much higher if I had more time to listen to it, and another that has had more time than most to sink in as it had been knocking about for two years before its commercial release.  Ah well, I’m an unfair sort of a person.  Oddly though, the next segment will contain one album that should have been out in 2010 but is still without a release to date, yet remains a 2011 favourite despite its recent purchase.  This probably proves somehow that I have no idea what I’m doing.

This is taking me ages to do, as I keep getting distracted by trying to listen to snippets of each one in order to get a better idea, followed by ending up listening to the whole thing and then cursing as I then want to move each one further up the list, with the end result tending to be that everything gets moved up with each listen so that by the time I’m done they’re all back in the same place again.  Still, it’s getting me listening to records, so that’s sort of the whole point of the exercise apparently.  The next couple of these should be done a bit quicker, as thankfully there are less things to shuffle about and disagree upon.  Probably.

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Hannah Peel – The Broken Wave

Debut albums are brilliant things, aren’t they?

They are created as labours of love over huge swathes of time with the only pressures and constraints being those imposed by the artist.  Not for the debutantes are the spectres of people in suits tapping their watches insisting that ten great songs are plucked fully-formed out of the ether because the market has to have something by a certain date; and neither are there swathes of miserable sods waiting gleefully with sharpened pencils and dulled wits, desperate for the excuse to say how the new one isn’t as good as the last one.

Oh no, for we have to judge purely by the singular merits presented on the first album.  The downside to this is that the first album has to find us.  Thankfully in this case, helping hands were available to point me in the right direction.

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