2009 releases

Robert Francis – Mescaline

You shoot up. Then you go to class. It’s funny how nobody asks. ‘Cause all your teachers love you. Everybody loves you. Everybody loves you the same way that I do. What a wonderful world we live in.

You’re a love disaster, your heart beats faster, when it’s with mine. You’re a likely story, morning glory on the vine.
– Robert Francis, Mescaline

For no other reason than I needed to hear something beautiful tonight.

Listen: Robert Francis – Mescaline

I first wrote about Robert nearly four years ago now, and I still find myself returning to his two albums time and time again. If you haven’t listened to One by One or its follow up, Before Nightfall, yet… make sure you do soon. This is music.

2009 releases music music videos

A love letter to aKING

I’ve written about aKING here on Burgo’s Music Blog before. Heck, at the time (nearly 2 years ago!) I called them “South Africa’s next big thing. So why, you might ask yourself, am I devoting another blog post to this band from South Africa? Is it because they’ve released another album, or done something particularly noteworthy recently?

Well, ok, they have actually released another album since that last post, called “Against All Odds”.
And make no mistake about it, it’s a cracker of an album. But that album came out in 2009 and I’ve had my grubby hands on it then, so it’s hardly breaking news suitable for a post in 2010.

No, the whole reason behind this love letter to aKING is far more prosaic: it’s simply that, after a few months off, I came back to listening to aKING… and for two weeks now, they are all I’ve listened to. Seriously. I don’t listen to radio, so I haven’t heard anything coming over radiowaves. I listen to music at work, and at home through Spotify. And, for two weeks now, I haven’t moved off aKING’s page. It’s ridiculous.

So, I thought that an obsession like that simply deserved a post… even if there’s no real point to it, other than to say: Man, I never get tired of these dudes!

So, in case you missed their previous post, go check it out. And then come back here, and watch/listen to these tunes. I promise you, you won’t regret it.

aKING’s first single, “The Dance”. If anything, this song as a first single hurt them more than anything else. Its mainstream sound turned off some listeners. Their loss. From “Dutch Courage”.

aKING, “I Believe”. Off first release, “Dutch Courage”.

aKING, “Safe As Houses”. Off first release, “Dutch Courage”.

aKING, “You and I”. From new release (arguably their best), “Against All Odds”. Questionable video though.

You can listen to aKING’s two full releases, “Dutch Courage” and “Against All Odds” on Myspace Music. Do it now.

What do you think? Is this an unhealthy obsession? Sound off in the comments.

2009 releases artists music music documentaries music videos

BLAKROC is out. And yeah, it’s friggin’ awesome.

Thanks to Phil for pointing this out to me – otherwise Black Friday would have passed uneventfully for me – but apart from online savings, Black Friday brought not only shopping madness, but also the release of Blakroc.

And, holy hell, the thing is shit hot.

Blakroc is, at its core, a collaboration between American blues-rock music duo, The Black Keys (Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney), and 11 credible names in the hiphop game. And it’s exactly the kind of album I needed to hear as 2009 wraps up. Check out more on the official page here, but basically the concept behind the album is:

“11 artists who collaborated with the Black Keys. 11 days in the studio. 11 tracks”

And that “11 artists” is a lineup that quite frankly has me swooning. Not only are there big names, such as Raekwon, sadly-departed Ol’ Dirty Bastard, and RZA… but also lesser-hyped artists like Pharoahe Monch, NOE, Billy Danze and Nicole Wray. And, the very, very best part for me… Mos Def. The dude just exudes cool, and as soon as I knew he was involved in the project, I was hooked. I mean, seriously… watch the below video of Mos Def and Jim James performing on track “Ain’t Nothing Like You (Hoochie Coo)”, and tell me it’s not one of the hottest tracks you’ve heard this year…

Blakroc: Ain’t Nothing Like You (Hoochie Coo) Ft. Mos Def and Jim Jones from Jonah Schwartz on Vimeo.

One of the most interesting aspects of BlakRoc is the fact that the recording process has been documented on film. You can watch all the “webisodes” here, and I would recommend that you do if the album sounds even slightly like your cup of tea. The glimpse into the creative process behind this album is nothing less than inspiring. In particular, the below one with Billy Danze is heartwarming. The dude simply cannot contain himself and his enthusiasm…

Unfortunately, not all the tracks live up to the hype though. There are some notable low points, and I’m nowhere near calling this the “release of 2009”; but the process behind the album itself is so awesomely organic, I’m rooting for it to do well, hoping that it may inspire others to return to a purely creative recording process, such as this one. As Billy Danze says in the above video, “Yeah, that’s what I’m talking about. Making a record, create that shit”. And that’s exactly how this record feels… not manufactured, but created with heart.

Seriously, I haven’t been this inspired by an album in… well, I can’t remember how long. Stream some of the tunes here, and, after doing so, buy this shit. Now.

2009 releases artists artists to watch for in 2010 digital downloads music

Goodnight Owl – Maps & Compasses and Verandah

So, a while back I was contacted by Sabrina Robertson, who sent me an email saying, “Hey, I think you might dig these guys…”.

First off, I can’t tell you how many emails like these I get. I’m not even one of the “big guys” when it comes to music blogging, so I can only imagine how many emails they get… but this one had some personal touches that showed Sabrina had actually bothered to read more than just my “Want your band featured?” page, so when the CD she sent arrived, I popped it on for a listen.

And, thank god, she was right.

Melbourne band, Goodnight Owl

Melbourne band “Goodnight Owl” (aka Eddie Alexander, Joe Walker & Bella Walker) write some really great, classic pop/electronica tunes, in the vein of – say, for one example – Postal Service. And that’s high praise from me indeed, considering my love of Postal Service.
The band’s self-titled debut EP was recorded in November 2008, and is a study in contradictions; as I’ve heard Nick Huggins describe it, it’s “a curious mix of confidence and fragility”, and I couldn’t put it better myself.

The 5-song EP itself, for me at least, hints at great things to come for the band. While the album opens with undoubtedly the strongest track, “Maps & Compasses”, it never quite reaches those heights again, although both “She Kept a Secret” and, especially, “Verandah” are absolutely kickass pop tunes. All in all, I get the feeling the band is still growing and finding itself, and considering this is a debut EP, that’s of course only natural.

I’ve included both “Maps & Compasses” and “Verandah” below, as a taster of the band. “Goodnight Owl” is out now, and is available on iTunes, Polyester Records, Readings, and via Paypal on the band’s Myspace.

Listen. Love. Support.

Listen: Goodnight Owl – Maps & Compasses
Listen: Goodnight Owl – Verandah

2009 releases artists digital downloads guitar music

Dave McMillan – Trying to find Rewind

So, if you’ve read my “30 South African Bands you need to hear!” post – and it seems like a lot of you are – you would have noticed my admiration for Durban muso, Dave McMillan. Dave was, quite literally, the reason I picked up a guitar in the first place, and the reason for me seeing the beauty music could bring. Anyway, read that post (muso #5) and catch up on an intro to my story with Dave… but the lowdown is, Dave has been the frontman and contibutor to more bands in Durban than I can count. And he’s a musician that I’ve admired for a long, long time.

Which makes this post all the harder to write. Truth is, Dave has a harder task than any muso I know of impressing me. Point blank, other musicians I might be prepared to look the other way, should they falter. But Dave… well, he doesn’t have that luxury. And I hope he knows that that’s purely because I take his success… well, personal in a way. That probably sounds like a bunch of balls, and I’d be the first to understand if you called me a pretentious wanker for a statement like that, but the Durban music scene was always built on camaraderie. And even though a lot of us moved away, you take that feeling with you.Once a bra, always a bra, and things like that.

Dave McMillan

So, after that long precursor, I’ll get to the point of the post: Dave McMillan’s new (and debut solo) album, “Trying to find Rewind”. Dave’s released the album for a free download on his site, and you can stream the entire thing on his site; download just a single song or the full album… the choice is up to you. Whatever you do though, whatever my bias towards Dave, I’d encourage you to click through, or listen to the mp3s below of his tunes.

Summed up? It’s good. It’s very, very good. I wouldn’t go so far as to say brilliant; not quite yet, at least. But I definitely believe Dave is well on his way there.

The album meanders slightly in styles, with some songs having a Rodriguez vibe, some a James Taylor vibe, and some a vibe all of Dave’s own (on a side note, I’ve seen a lot of reviewers lately compare his work on this album to John Mayer… I’m sorry, but I think they’re full of it, personally). Personal highlights for me though? “Wake Up”, with a chorus that seems to come out of nowhere; album opener “Big Boys”, with that irrepressible refrain; the simple yet beautiful “The Mourning After”; and personal favourite, “Too Late”, which is simply too perfect for words.

Below, I’ve included some mp3s as tasters from the album, but as I’ve said, I really would encourage you to click on through to Dave’s site and give the whole album a listen. While I don’t think this album will be Dave’s masterpiece, I think it’s a clear indication of the quality of his future. Seeing as I’m hungry, I’ll use a food analogy: this is the most scrumptious entree you’ve ever had… but now your mouth is watering for the main course which you know is going to simply blow you away. And I know that main course is just around the corner for Dave.
As long as Dave is in the South African music scene, SA music is in good hands… I honestly couldn’t think of a better ambassador.

Good on ya, Dave.

Listen. Love. Support.

Listen: Dave McMillan – Big Boys
Listen: Dave McMillan – The Mourning After
Listen: Dave McMillan – You’ve Won
Listen: Dave McMillan – Too Late

2009 releases artists to watch for in 2010 digital downloads guitar music

Mumford and Sons – Sigh No More

So, I’ve held off on posting about this album for a while… when I first heard Mumford and Sons, there was this crazy rush of excitement (“thank god, finally a 2009 sound worth raving about!”) that I thought might colour an album review. So I’ve purposefully sat with this album now for the past week, holding off on posting so that I would have enough time to let it sink in.

And yes, I’m still going to rave about it.

“Sigh No More” is exactly the kind of album that Mumford and Sons needed to make. Although the album contains quite a few songs that have appeared on their past two EPs, the production has afforded them a level of… well, grandiosity that their previous releases kept hidden. Just take a listen to the opening few tracks, particularly “The Cave”, with its awesome horn section, and you’ll know what I’m talking about.

For those who haven’t heard the band before, the sound is predominantly a mixture of bluegrass, country, folk, and freakin’ awesomeness. There’s a term I hesitate to use too much on this blog, and that’s the description “soaring”. But soaring this album is, and you’d be hard pressed not to imagine choirs of voices joining in with most of these refrains at a live performance by the band.

Which is not to say the album is perfect, by any means. It’s clear the band is still coming into its own, and there are one or two missteps… both “Timshel” and “Thistle and Weeds”, for example, fall somewhat short of the rest of the album for me. But, for the most part, you can overlook these missteps purely for the potential and passion that the band show, even if they do somewhat overshoot themselves sometimes. And, putting myself out there, overall I’d call this one of my favourite albums of 2009… top 3 at least.

Below, two tracks of the “Sigh No More” album. The first, “White Blank Page“, is an example of the emotion Marcus Mumford’s voice can convey (and has been featured on this blog before), and the second, “Dust Bowl Dance“, is a banjo-led slow burner that somewhere along the way – although you might not notice it until it is too late – morphs into all-out destruction. Sheer beauty.

Listen. Love. Support.

Listen: Mumford and Sons – White Blank Page
Listen: Mumford and Sons – Dust Bowl Dance

2009 releases artists artists to watch for in 2010 digital downloads guitar music music videos

The Middle East – The Darkest Side

So, if you’re a fan of my Facebook page (and if you aren’t, what are you waiting for? Go on, visit the link and fan the page. I’ll wait. No rush. Back? Good. Ahem… where was I?)… oh yes, so if you’re a fan of my Facebook page, you would have already heard me sing this band’s praises. “This band”, of course, being “The Middle East. Here’s the video I shared on Facebook, should you have missed it…

Despite the name, The Middle East are actually a band from Townsville, in Queensland, and have been producing some fairly large waves in the local Aussie music scene. These waves seem to have been made in spite of – or perhaps, because of – a certain air of mystery that surrounds the group. There’s not much information available about the band (no official site, apart from a myspace page, and no interviews that I could find), past the obvious: they produce that ethereal, haunting sort of folk that I absolutely love.

Below, the band’s first track off their new EP, “The Recordings of the Middle East”, which came out here in Australia earlier this year, but is scheduled for an international release date later this month.

Listen. Love. Support.

Listen: The Middle East – The Darkest Side

The Middle East are going to be playing an all-ages gig in Brisbane this Thursday, the 8th October. Who’s in?

2009 releases artists artists to watch for in 2010 digital downloads guitar live songs music music videos

Mumford and Sons – “Little Lion Man” (Video) & live “White Blank Page”

I don’t quite know how I’ve let this go until now without a post. Mumford and Sons was a band I’d heard mentioned in quite a few places online, but for some reason I’d never bothered to track down much of their stuff. That was, at least, until Song, By Toad (easily one of my favourite music blogs) featured a fantastic video of the group performing their killer track, “White Blank Page”. The video is, quite frankly, sublime, and I’ll simply point you towards the Toad site to watch it there.

After that, I did a bit more digging myself, and found that the band has recently released the official video for their debut single, “Little Lion Man”… and I’ve fallen in love with it.

Both tracks appear on Mumford and Sons upcoming debut album, “Sigh No More”, which I believe drops tomorrow, coincidentally enough. I know what my next purchase will be…

Below, a “live on BBC1” version of them performing “White Blank Page”.

Can you lie next to her and give her your heart, your heart?
As well as your body, and can you lie next to her and confess your love, your love?
As well as your folly and can you kneel before the king and say ‘I’m clean’, ‘I’m clean’?

– Mumford and Sons, “White Blank Page”

Listen. Love. Support.

Mumford and Sons – White Blank Page (BBC Radio 1 Session)