Category Archives: Emmy the Great

Christmas Time (Is Here Again)


He’s My Brother, She’s My Sister: “How’m I Gonna Get Back Home”

I never really liked that song (the post title–not the above track, of course), but it’s nonetheless true: today being December 1st, it’s time to start thinking about Christmas. So I thought I’d bring to your attention a few ways to give and receive this holiday season, folk-style.

PledgeMusic
You all know I’m a big fan of PledgeMusic. Besides my general enthusiasm for direct-to-fan anything, I happen to love a lot of the artists that end up on here. This holiday season, support some up-and-coming musicians in their creative endeavors–and get some awesome, unique merch while you’re at it. (I just got my signed Summer Camp tote, and I still can’t get over those brownies.) Although I’d encourage you to check out all the offerings on the site, I’ll highlight two:

He’s My Brother, She’s My Sister
LA sextet He’s My Brother, She’s My Sister describe themselves as “Flamboyant Folk, Glam-a-billy, Circus Rock, Vaudeville Pop, Cabaret Blues.” And truthfully, that’s about as succinct as it’ll get. The band is a rollicking good time, full of catchy tunes and a healthy dose of sass. They have some free downloads on Bandcamp–I dare you to listen to “How’m I Gonna Get Back Home” (above) and not love it. Dare you.

Right now the band needs a tour van, and you can help them out: in exchange, you can get them to play your wedding, give you tap dancing lessons, or (my favorite) go on a naked skydiving trip. Click the link above to see more and pledge.

Tom Williams & the Boat
English folk-rockers Tom Williams & the Boat borrow slightly from the Frank Turner style of anti-folk, but do so with a bit more youthful oomph. They’re partnering with Moshi Moshi (can’t go wrong with that, can you?) for their Too Slow follow-up, and want you to be a part of it. And part of the proceeds go to the charity Kent Air Ambulance, so your pledge will certainly outweigh any lingering Scrooge-iness. And getting a drum lesson, house gig, or painting (yes, painting) wouldn’t hurt either. Check the band’s website here and click the link above to pledge.

For Folk’s Sake It’s Christmas
The wonderful For Folk’s Sake are back with Christmas album Volume 2, and it’s nothing short of splendid. Featuring holiday tunes new and old, it features some of the finest folk artists on the scene–from Caitlin Rose and Cocos Lovers to the Leisure Society and Laura Boyle. The full track listing is below, but you can buy and listen on Bandcamp.

1. Howard Carter – Christmas Blues 03:09
2. The Leisure Society – Christmas Mistakes 03:48
3. Caitlin Rose with Keegan DeWitt – You Never Come Home For Christmas 02:58
4. Cocos Lovers – Christmas is Coming/God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen 02:02
5. Devon Sproule – Send Me To Coventry 03:49
6. Darren Hayman – Lost In The Snow 04:04
7. Paper Aeroplanes – In The Bleak Midwinter 03:06
8. Kathryn Williams & Neill MacColl – Christmas In Hell 03:27
9. Fiona Bevan – Love In A Cold Climate 03:45
10. Hollows – Come Thou Fount Of Every Blessing 02:26
11. Adam Killip & Mi Mye – O Come All Ye Faithful 02:53
12. Laura Boyle – Silent Night 02:49

Tim Wheeler & Emmy the Great’s This Is Christmas
As I mentioned a while back, Emmy the Great and Ash’s Tim Wheeler have released This Is Christmas, an album of rocking new holiday tunes. It includes instant classics like “Jesus the Reindeer”, “Zombie Christmas”, and “Christmas Day (I Wish I Was Surfing)”. Any other Christmas party soundtrack is tame by comparison. To support the album and celebrate the December 1st-ness of today, Emmy and Tim have also released an online advent calendar–today’s offering, “Christmas Do’s and Don’t’s”, is below, but you should see the calendar just for kicks. And if you’re wondering about the frame in the video below, one of the holiday don’t’s is “don’t play naked twister with your family.” Sage advice, guys.

p.s. Yep Roc Records (Peggy Sue, Alessi’s Ark, Cheyenne Marie Mize, and more) has a sweet holiday sale going on now. Besides some theme albums and a free sampler, they’re offering free shipping on all US orders (through the 20th), and 15% off all orders (through the 31st) with the code HOHOHO.

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Emmy the Great Announces Christmas Album & Contest

Emmy the Great and Tim Wheeler (of Northern Irish band Ash) are making a Christmas album. That seems to be ‘the thing’ this season, but I can say with complete certainty that I’ll buy This Is Christmas before I even go near A Very She and Him Christmas (check out that duo’s first track, “A Christmas Waltz”, here). For one, This Is Christmas is out November 21st. And with Christmas albums, it’s first come, first served.

Emmy and Tim are letting us all in on the Christmas fun. Besides giving away “Christmas Day (I Wish I Was Surfing)” for free (see below), they also want your Christmas photos to end up in their iTunes booklet. The duo says the following on their Facebook page:

“We’re collecting people’s Christmas photos too, so please upload your best, funniest, and most seasonal shots. For a chance to be included on our iTunes booklet, upload them via Twitter with the hashtag #thisischristmasphotos

To set the pictures ball rolling, we’ve uploaded our own photos from last Christmas, when we were snowed in. There was literally nothing to do except write this album, listen to Phil Spector’s Christmas Album, and make the snowman and snowgirl in this picture.

There’s lots more music and celebrating to come, but in the meantime get Facebook-ing and keep in touch as we reveal more of our plans for festive fun.”

So get the song, ‘like’ them on Facebook, and show off those embarrassing Christmas sweaters!

International Markets: The Upside for UK Music

Music royalty orgnization PRS for Music published its annual Adding up the UK music industry report today, presenting dismal figures for 2010. Even live music revenues, which had been on an impressive rise over the past several years, fell 11.8% between 2009 and 2010. UK industry revenues overall fell 4.8%. Yikes.

Is there anything good in a landscape that seems as bleak as London fog? Well, yes. Will Page, the chief economist for PRS for Music, advises in his report that the UK industry should ‘get small’ and ‘get abroad’. The first theme involves “reducing the transaction costs of managing metadata”, which I won’t pretend I understand. I’ll leave that topic for the grown-ups.

The second nugget of wisdom, though, I will happily discuss. The report found that royalties societies in the UK (like PRS for Music) did significantly better than those in the US (like ASCAP) over the 2010 year. Page acknowledges the huge potential for growth in exports, including in emerging markets like Brazil, India, and China. Page writes: “According to the BPI, UK artists’ share of global sales is estimated to be 11.8 percent in 2010, with one-in-ten sales in the US being a UK act and up to one-in-five in markets like Germany and Australia.”

While the report doesn’t talk about folk/new-folk/acoustic music specifically, I’d like to think that some of this growth has to do with the very artists I write about so frequently. While Adele may be queen in terms of sales figures (she was “responsible for almost 10% of all artist albums sold in the first four months of the year”), it shouldn’t be ignored that Mumford & Sons’ Sigh No More hit number 2 on the Billboard 200. (And performed at the Grammys. And graced the cover of SPIN.) Their rise to the top is the gift that keeps on giving, through both their exposure-building US tours (bringing along artists like King Charles and Matthew and the Atlas) and the efforts of label/club night Communion. Even buzzy indie rock darlings the Vaccines grew out of the same tiny music establishment in southwest London, Bosun’s Locker (back when Justin Young was Jay Jay Pistolet, and shared a flat with Marcus Mumford).

While other UK folk acts have yet to reach the same status as the waistcoat-wearing Sons, they are certainly on the way. Noah and the Whale grabbed attention for their polished new sound and teaming up with director-photographer Autumn de Wilde on “Life is Life”. Alessi’s Ark made the New York Times at SXSW. Matthew and the Atlas and James Vincent McMorrow recorded for Daytrotter. Emmy the Great’s Virtue got a review in Pitchfork. Slow Club made waves (and Mashable) by debuting new material on Turntable.fm (with Paste magazine).

These are just the things that came to mind, but the fact remains that these artists are much closer to US recognition than they’ve ever been before. I can casually talk about Laura Marling or Johnny Flynn without getting blank stares, and I can buy the Communion compilation in Mojo magazine at an airport. I no longer have to scour Youtube for new-folk material–I can just click on iTunes (or Spotify). Back when I first found this whole ‘scene’, things like the Black Cab Sessions, Bandstand Busking, and even Jeremy Warmsley’s Welcome to Our TV Show (and the later version, Jeremy Warmsley’s New Thing) were about all I had. From my perspective, the rise in popularity since those early days (three-ish years ago) seems massive.

Furthermore, another BPI survey found that 83% of people are proud of the achievements of British music. While I’m sure they were dealing with Brits proper, I’m pretty proud of those achievements, too. For even though these new-folk artists often acknowledge American musical influences, there is something quintessentially and inescapably English (or Scottish, or Irish, depending) about them. So by all means, UK music industry–follow the advice of Mr. Page and ‘get abroad’. I’ll welcome you with open arms.

Emmy the Great New Single and Album Stream, Alessi’s Ark Stream

The video for Emmy the Great’s new single “Iris” seems to have been posted May 12th, but the single was officially released yesterday. Though free download “Century of Sleep” (below) has already been circulating, “Iris” is the first official single off Virtue.

The much-anticipated new album will arrive in the UK on June 13th, and the US June 14th. As I wrote about last August, Emmy used PledgeMusic to fund the work entirely through fan contributions.

The Guardian has a full stream of the album–as well as track-by-track commentary from Emmy–here. Excuse me while I go all fan-girl on this business.

p.s. For us American Alessi’s Ark fans, stream “On the Plains” here! As of today it’s also available for purchase on iTunes. We’ll have to wait until September for the full release of sophomore LP Time Travel.

New-Folk Round-Up: News from the Vaccines, Emmy the Great, Elizabeth Sankey, and Benjamin Francis Leftwich

It’s been a big week for some new-folk staples (even though Justin Young of the Vaccines has abandoned his singer-songwriter roots, he’ll always have a place in my heart). The rock band made their US television debut on the Late Show with David Letterman performing “If You Wanna”, and released their new music video, “All In White” (check it out here). Their highly anticipated album, What Did You Expect from the Vaccines?, will be available May 31st.

Emma Lee Moss (Emmy the Great) and Elizabeth Sankey (the lovely vocalist of Summer Camp) have formed a new band called Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield–yep, named after the Sweet Valley High twins. Though there isn’t much info about the group yet, Wears the Trousers found a Youtube video of their first live performance. The two are also on Twitter as @WakefieldJess and @WakefieldLiz.

Benjamin Francis Leftwich is getting ready for the July 4th release of his album Box of Stones. His music video for the single of the same name came out earlier this month, and the first 1000 people who preorder the album at HMV will receive a special signed version.

Those are all the bits and pieces of news I have at the moment. I’m getting pumped for Noah and the Whale’s first of two San Francisco shows tonight–stay tuned for a review.

I Love London

In preparation for the Royal Wedding, I am currently drinking London-imported tea from my Union Jack teapot while wearing a Union Jack t-shirt and a Cambridge sweatshirt. I tried to find crumpets today, but Safeway didn’t seem to have them, so I’m stuck with English muffins. And did you know England’s favorite dish is actually chicken tikka masala? Guess what I had for dinner.

If this all sounds crazy and/or pathetic, you’re entirely right. I haven’t gone far enough into wedding insanity for it to be legit and slightly impressive, but I’ve probably thought about it more than the average Californian. As my Facebook news feed gets filled with other study abroad “I miss London” statuses, though, I feel a bit validated: for this one day, we’re all allowed to feel like pseudo British expats.

As such, I’d like to honor the couple (and my own fond memories) by compiling a short England playlist. These songs may not have an iota of meaning for Will and Kate, but they do for me.


“Goodbye England, Covered In Snow”–Laura Marling
“Eyeless In Holloway”, Johnny Flynn
“Say No!”, The Agitator
“Oh England”, King Charles
“Mistress England”, Emmy the Great (duh)
“I Love London”, Crystal Fighters
“Monsters Under the Bed”, Eugene McGuinness
“A Foggy Day (In London Town)”, Ella Fitzgerald & Joe Pass
“Mornington Crescent”, Belle & Sebastian
“London Town”, Laura Marling
“Memory of a Free Festival”, Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros (David Bowie cover)
“A Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Square”, Vera Lynn
“Bad Things Coming, We Are Safe”, Emmy the Great
“Queen of the 21st Century”, Golden Silvers
“Wayne Rooney”, Johnny Flynn
“London”, Ben Howard
“We Are Free”, Jay Jay Pistolet
“Bonkers”, Dizzee Rascal (this will not make ANY sense unless I studied abroad with you)
“Winter Winds”, Mumford & Sons

And finally…“London Calling”, The Clash

Enjoy the festivities!

Emmy the Great Sings About the Royal Wedding

In more Emmy the Great news, the Guardian posted a video of “Mistress England”, a song for all those English mothers who wanted their darling daughters to be royalty. And I must say, Emma’s voice sounds especially lovely.

Dang thing isn’t embedding, but click the link above for the video.