New EP from Ryland Bouchard of The Robot Ate Me fame. He has been residing in the pacific northwest for the last few years releasing a slew of solo material from the expansive Seeds Box Set to his recently issued EPs. Lo-fi intimate folk music hanging out to dry on a autumn’s day. Swim Slowly 2012.
CD-Rs and tapes have occasionally tumbled out of this project since I began it in 2010, but I’ve been toying with the idea of a debut, studio-recorded Sea Birds full-length for a long while now. However, I never was able to settle on a format or scope for what I wanted.
I picked this up based on its description: “medieval folk” from 1970. The intricate and melodious picking of the Amazing Blondel, Eddie Baird, John Gladwin, and Terry Wincott, do not disappoint! Their music was based on renaissance forms, in theory, and they did use period instruments such as lutes, crumhorns, cittern, and Theorbo. Here is the track “Pavan” from their album Evensong. Island Records 1970.
Despite being taken away from the world of music early, deceased folkie Jack Rose left us many many hours of wonderful guitar playing, much of it influenced by the American Primitive guitarists of the 60s and 70s. John Fahey’s non-aural influence comes through on this country gospel track “Everybody Ought To Pray Sometimes” from Jack Rose’s album Luck In The Valley. The tune was collected for a compilation on Fahey’s Revenant Records entitled American Primitive, Vol. 1: Raw Pre-War Gospel (1926-36). Originally performed by Dennis Crumpton and Robert Summers, here it is given an instrumental treatment with some twangy slide guitar and jug band accompaniment. Thrill Jockey 2010.
Iain Matthews was a member of Fairport Convention, and fronted his own late 60s/early 70s folk rock project Matthews’ Southern Comfort. Mixing up some americana and english folk sensibilities, he turned more toward the burgeoning country rock sound of the early to mid 70s. Many songs from his 1973 album Valley Hi laid the bedrock for bands like The Eagles, who were clearly indebted to Matthews. This is a seemingly American folk work song “Old Man at the Mill”, a song performed by Doc Watson and the Dillards.
While it takes a few second to get going, “Banjoland” by COB (Clive’s Original Band) is a jaunty instrumental that harkens back to a bit of homespun Americana, ironically recorded by an english band. COB’s 1971 album Spirit of Love gives more than a few nods to American folk music, and Americana, however some of its 1800s-esque charm dates back to English vaudeville, music-hall and Edwardian folk antiquities. This track was a rewrite of a song that was supposed to be the title track of Clive Palmer’s unreleased 1967 LP entitled Banjoland. (He could not sell the album to any labels; however, it was later issued in 1995).
The radiant harp, paired with Joanna Newsom’s childish voice, have made for some of the more interesting “freak folk”/”new weird america” records in the 2000s. This song “What We Have Known” was originally on the self released Yarn and Glue EP. The song was later rerecorded and released as a 12” single. This older version is stripped down to her voice and harp, moderately waltzing up the hills and into a sunset. Self Released 2003.
Linda Perhacs is well known for her obscure psych folk rediscovered-classic “Parallelograms”, however, immediately following that wild track is this gorgeous ballad “Hey, Who Really Cares?”. Her album Parallelograms was reissued a few times during the mid 2000s during the “freak folk” boom. Her record was one of many wonderful rediscoveries brought back into the publics eye. Kapp 1970.
Gandalf the Grey was a early 70s folk rock band. They were part of the original Harry and the Potters/Wizardrock subgenre which revolved around the stories of J.R.R. Tolkien and his Lord of the Rings series.
Icelandic indie electro-acoustic pop ensemble múm have been producing mutations of electronic music that has, in recent years, taken on a more folk influence, incorporating ukuleles, and other folk instruments over electronic beats. Their 2009 album Sing Along To Songs You Don’t Know started off with this beautiful gentle lullaby “If I Were a Fish”. What makes this song particularly interesting is that it is based on the ballad “If I Were a Carpenter”! The band brings their own aesthetic to the ballad in a truly sublime way with gentle bubbling beats and angelic harmonies. Morr 2009.
Some raga folk rock from the American West Coast folk rock legends: The Byrds. This Crosby penned track, called “Mind Gardens”, is an acoustic guitar frenzy with plenty of reversed guitar sounds giving the song a raga vibe. The voice floats along with no strong rhythm or melody, qualities that Crosby saw as positive and progressive, much to the dismay of his band members who did not want to include the track on their album Younger Than Yesterday. Columbia 1967.
Here is a trippy bit of raga folk prog, titled “Molecular Delusions”, by Ramases, a man named Martin Raphael who believed that the Pharaoh told him he was his re-incarnation in a vision. The 1971 album Space Hymns featured all four members of 10cc, and Dorothy Frost (aka Selket). This track is particularly interesting for its modal group vocals and prominent sitar throughout, not to mention the insane lyrics. Vertigo 1971.
The Elected is the folk rock/alt-country side project of Blake Sennett, the guitarist and songwriter from Rilo Kiley. His first album, entitled Me First, was recorded in various bedrooms with the help of drummer Jason Boesel. “Greetings in Braille” is the second track on an album full of slide guitars, blips and bloops, as well as some multi-part crooning featuring Jenny Lewis and Orinda Fink. Sub Pop 2004.
Mark Fry’s mysterious “Dreaming With Alice” off a similarly titled album. Not much is know about Mark Fry but on the original version of this album I received had the titled track split up into different verses across the whole album. Very unsatisfying because it is a complete song!
In 1976, 3 years late, The Albion Country Band finally saw the release of their first original album. Battle of the Field contained a mixture of arranged morris dances, arrange traditional/folk tunes, as well as two original songs by guitarist Richard Thompson. The band itself was a beautiful concoction of former Fairport Convention members Ashley Hutchings, Simon Nicol, Dave Mattacks, a selection of early music instrumentalists, as well as the influential folk singer Martin Carthy. This particular tune, “Albion Sunrise”, is the albums blustery opener, complete with vocals sung in a round. This version contains a morris dance attached to the end, although on the album it was followed by a different medley of morris tunes. Island 1976.