Pony Bradshaw – Josephine

bradshaw

It’s time to move on to 2016 and it’s time to fall in love with new music again. It’s also time to make that final push until this blog is fifteen years old next September. For the last few years the guilt of continuously neglecting the blog and continuously neglecting plenty of amazing releases due to various reasons has overshadowed the positives. So I’m gonna try this one more time and do it as well as I still can. Let’s see where I am next fall and whether it feels like it’s still worth it to continue.

Let’s kickstart the year with Josephine by Pony Bradshaw. This is the first outtake from their forthcoming album Bad Teeth. I assume forthcoming. It does say on that Bandcamp page that it comes out fall 2015, but I didn’t found any proof of its existence so I’m assuming the release date has been pushed for later. I hope it’s out soon, because I love this song and I’m eager to hear more. It even gives me some early Songs: Ohia vibes in a few places. Might be just me and I’m letting the name Josephine play tricks in my head. A damn great song nevertheless.

Pony Bradshaw at Facebook

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Album of the Month: The Deep Dark Woods – The Place I Left Behind

The Deep Dark Woods: The Place I Left Behind (Six Shooter / Sugar Hill, 2011)

The Deep Dark Woods from Saskatoon, Canada is my new favourite band and their new album The Place I Left Behind is one amazing album. It will definitely be the album of the month and someone must release one hell of an album later in the year, if this doesn’t end up being my album of the year as well. I just can’t get tired of this and believe me, I’ve tried. I listened to it eight hours in a row at work for several days and the thought that I have other albums on my iPod never occurred to me during those days.

The Place I Left Behind is one of the most convincing folk rock and alternative country albums that I’ve heard during the last couple of years. Beautiful lead vocals, rich harmonies and warm sounds gently collide with sad & lonesome thoughts, gloomy & dark stories.. and even old-fashioned murder ballads. Sometimes I even feel guilty because I feel warmth and beauty all around even though I’m listening some slow and lonesome moment that maybe should evoke an opposite reaction. But maybe that contrast is what makes it all the more striking and captivating. Frontman Ryan Boldt has a perfect voice for this kind of music and the whole album is so beautifully crafted. The storytelling is excellent throughout the record. Whether it’s an old fashioned crime tale or a field study of urban loneliness, it works wonderfully. Basicly I just love the whole record. Dear John sometimes feels a little out of place, but as a huge pop fan, I really enjoy that lighter sound as well. The Place I Left Behind is a masterpiece.

The Deep Dark Woods Website
The Deep Dark Woods at Facebook

Listen to Westside Street


 
The Deep Dark Woods discuss about the new album (some wonderful songs from the album playing on the background as well):

Note that so far the album has only been released in Canada by Six Shooter Recordings. The album will get an US / Europe release from Sugar Hill Records in october. My apologies to Sugar Hill and the band. The samples were just too brilliant and the wait would have been unbearable, so I had to buy it directly from Canada.

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Review: Bahamas – Pink Strat

Bahamas: Pink Strat (Brushfire Records, 2011)

Bahamas is the moniker of Afie Jurvanen who is a Finnish-Canadian singer-songwriter from Toronto. I was obviously curious about the Finnish background and tried to find some information about it. Couldn’t find much, but if the internet contains the right information, Afie has a Finnish mother. Which is nice, but obviously this Finnish background thing is just an interesting side note. The important thing is that Bahamas is a great songwriter.

Pink Strat isn’t actually a new album. At least for those lucky Canadians who have spent quality time with this beautiful album since 2009. I found him thanks to his excellent Daytrotter session in early april and in may 2011 Pink Strat also finally got a US release thanks to Brushfire Records. Pink Strat won’t change the world as we know it, but it is such a lovely album. Folk songs with simple, but thoughtful arrangements. At times it might even seem like there’s not much going on, but soon I find myself humming along and admiring some subtle and unique twist in the song. It just feels like someone injected all their heart into making this album and created a little bit of down-to-earth magic. 

M.Ward always comes to my mind when I listen to Bahamas, but that’s hardly a bad thing. I already love M.Ward and I’m definitely falling in love with Bahamas. If I enter to the scary and oh so pointless namedropping state, I could also add marvelous Canadian songwriter Doug Paisley, because he also operates on the same musical neighborhood. The finest songs of the album like Hockey Teeth, Sunshine Blues and Southern Drawl are so utterly wonderful. Some songs do fall into that “good, but nothing special” -category, but it doesn’t change the fact that this is an impressive debut and I’m really looking forward to the next album.

A couple of great videos from the greatest Canadian music video blog Southern Souls. There’s more at southernsouls.ca.

Sunshine Blues:

BAHAMAS – Sunshine Blues from Mitch Fillion (southernsouls.ca) on Vimeo.

Hockey Teeth:

BAHAMAS – Hockey Teeth from Mitch Fillion (southernsouls.ca) on Vimeo.

Bahamas Website

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Review: Shotgun Jimmie – Transistor Sister

Shotgun Jimmie: Transistor Sister (You’ve Changed Records, 2011)

I often praise only the 90’s power pop groups, but those indie rockers like Pavement, Sebadoh, Guided By Voices did some equally great things back then. Shotgun Jimmie from Canada and his new album Transistor Sister brings to mind some of those north american indie rock heroes from the 90’s. The album is filled with short, quirky and extremely enjoyable indie rock songs that make you smile. It’s got some really fantastic songs like Suzy that ranks among the very best songs of the year 2011 and the title track Transistor Sister. The only minor problems that I have with the album are that a) those less than a minute long soundscapes seem rather pointless and almost annoying b) the album feels a little front-loaded. With some minor editing, this would have a been a five hearts mini-album.

The great openening track Late Last Year:

Wonderful music video One Trick Pony (this is from an earlier EP though, it’s not on the new record):

Shotgun Jimmie Website

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Album of the Month: Dawes – Nothing Is Wrong

Dawes: Nothing Is Wrong (ATO, 2011)

Oh my. Time Spent In Los Angeles and If I Wanted Someone. That’s one hell of a way to start an album. Two songs that both easily qualify to the “hey, this must the best song ever” -category. At first, it almost seemed like those two songs are just too damn brilliant and the rest of the album just can’t live up to them. Thankfully, this is not the case and the rest of the album is also mostly stunning even though those two beauties remain as my biggest love affairs.

Dawes’ debut album North Hills already featured on onechord.net’s best albums of the year 2009 list, but Paste’s wonderful live premiere of this second album Nothing is Wrong was the final eye opener. After watching them play Time Spent in Los Angeles I was already completely in love with them, bought the album the next day and since I’ve been shouting their name from the rooftops.  Of course, I had been following them since the debut, but before Nothing Is Wrong they were still just another really great band. Now they are a huge favourite of mine. During the recent years, hardly anyone has created something equally brilliant from the 70’s folk rock and California sound influences as Dawes does on Nothing Is Wrong. Pretty much only Beachwood Sparks comes to mind right now, but it’s already eleven years from their amazing debut. While Beachwood Sparks flavored their west coast cake with psychedelic things, Dawes’ other main ingredients would be closer to soulful americana.. and the shelf that contains soft rock albums and even 70’s am pop singles is also within reach. The frontman Taylor Goldsmith is an excellent songwriter and I love his mellow voice. Oh and the harmonies are gold throughout the record. Jackson Browne and Benmont Tench make guest appearances on the album and it would be hard to picture anyone more suited for the job.

I kind of understand if someone thinks Dawes’ mellow folk rock is just indifferent and pleasant background music, but I could never feel the same. This is extremely close to perfection in my book.  There are a couple of songs that are nothing that special, but in the end, I love the album so much that giving anything other than full five hearts would feel more painful than watching a Steven Seagal movie marathon.

Time Spent In Los Angeles – Live in the Bing Lounge:

If I Wanted Someone – Live in an alley:

Dawes Website

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Review: Hezekiah Jones – Have You Seen Our New Fort?

Hezekiah Jones: Have You Seen Our New Fort? (Yer Bird Records, 2011)

Lately I’ve been getting more and more addicted to Hezekiah Jones. It’s a Philly-based folk collective led by Raphael Cutrufello. Their latest album Have You Seen Our New Fort? came out a couple of months ago on one of the best labels there is Yer Bird Records. They don’t have the financial muscle to release a huge amount of stuff, but each and every release is like a handpicked little treasure.

Hezekiah Jones have more instruments and more people than I can name and that could lead to a horrible mess, but that is not the case, because they are all there for the sake of the song. Have You Seen Our New Fort? is definitely another little treasure and contains beautifully arranged alternative folk music. My favourites are the beautiful and slow folk tunes like Lift The Shadow From This Heart and The Last Parade On Ann St that somehow brings to mind another album that I really love, Norfolk & Western’s Dusk In Cold Parlours. It’s all pretty fabulous (apart from Some Things To Help You maybe) and makes you wonder why such a talented guy like Raphael Cutrufello is still relatively unknown. Hopefully this new interest towards folk music means that wonderful folk musicians like Chris Bathgate and Raphael Cutrufello will soon get the recognition they really deserve.

Listen to Lift The Shadow From This Heart:

Listen to a absolutely stunning new song Borrowed Heart

Hezekiah Jones at Facebook

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