Monday, June 18, 2007

Something Old, Something New

If you’re into discovering new music*, as I am, there is a certain joy to being the first person to discover a new artist.

Obviously you can’t have been the first person to have heard of them, the artists parents and friends for example, will almost certainly have heard of them before you. But, you know, that feeling when you discover an artist completely by yourself. No-one recommended them to you, and you’re pretty sure that none of your friends will have heard of them.

Some of the magic is lost if you heard them first on the radio, but it’s still ok, as long as it was late at night or a specialist station/show that no-one you know listens to.

This has happened to me twice recently. l must confess, I first heard both on the radio, but none-the-less I’ve bought the albums, love them to bits and am hopeful I’m introducing you to them for the first time. You’re gonna tell me you’ve already heard of both, aren’t you? Just to spite me.

The first is a Northern Irish singer called Duke Special. His debut album, Songs From The Deep Forest, is a fairly happy sounding, piano-based, singer-songwriter affair. It’s a pretty full sound though, with drums, strings and wind accompanying him in many of the songs. He is a kind of cross between Badly Drawn Boy and Cathy Davey (who was my super-special find last year). One of his more quirky traits is to exaggerate his accent to fit some rhymes, such as ‘are’ and ‘tower’ in Salvation Tambourine. If you want to download a couple of tracks to see what he’s about I recommend Portrait and Wake Up Scarlett, or watch this**. You’ll also hear him on Radio 2 as well, where Last Night I Nearly Died is now showing up occasionally on daytime play-lists.

The second is a folk band called Show Of Hands. I’ve started getting into my folk music recently. I know, I know, I should really be listening to something more suitable of my demographic, but frankly I get angry enough commuting to work, and something more calm is just to job to keep me sane on the train.

I first heard Show of Hands’ Roots on Mike Harding’s excellent Radio 2 folk show. This song caught my attention in particular, as it’s about the dearth of English folk music and has some spot on lyrics. This is something I’ve been particularly interested in recently, as I investigate the nature of the English identity (I’ve also been delving into Billy Bragg’s back catalogue). Take a listen to it – the video is below*** – if you like then try the rest of the album, Witness, I think it’s very good. They’ve been around for ages too, so there’s a whole catalogue to get through.

So, that’s my first attempt at a music review. Not as easy as I thought.

*I was gonna say musies, like they say foodies for people who are into trying lots of new foods, but frankly that looks and sounds, crap. Any other ideas for this term can be sent to the usual address. Thanks.
** D'oh! Just realised that video was from last year. Looks like I'm way behind - oh well. Thunder stolen.
*** Yeah, I know – it’s cheesy as hell, but they are folk singers


Eisor said...

I don't know if I count as a friend but I know Duke Special. He's quality. Although 'Salvation Tambourine' reminds me of the trippy bit in Dumbo. Sorry to burst your bubble, like.
I haven't heard of Show of Hands though. I will look into them.

Billyo said...

I'd like to think we're all friends round here. I'm not a great fan of Salvation Tambourine either, I just like that rhyme.

Don't worry about bursting my bubble, after finding that Duke Special was on Jools Holland last year, I'm now realising I'm probably quite late to him. Oh well.

I'm also wishing I wasn't so tired due to commuting that on Friday nights I pass out hours before Jools is on.