Category Archives: Goldheart Assembly

First Shepherd’s Bush, Then the World

Communion Takes Over Shepherd’s Bush for Bushstock 2011

All the way back in February I was heartbroken to be missing Communion’s Bushstock Festival. The new-folk launch pad/label/international(!) club night was set to put on their first Shepherd’s Bush takeover on May 7th, but it was postponed until this coming Saturday. And while I obviously still can’t go, those of you who can will find it worth the wait: the lineup looks pretty darn fantastic. The four venues (St. Stephen’s Church, Shepherd’s Bar, the Goldhawk, and Ginglik) all feature prominent up-and-comers, as well as some mainstays, in the new-folk world. I’ve previously typed my fingers off about performers like Peggy Sue and King Charles, and certainly the Mystery Jets needs no introduction. So here are some other Bushstock artists I’ve had my eye on for a while, and I would encourage you to check out. But remember, this is really just asmidgeon of the great acts lined up for the event–so take a gander at the schedule and give them all a listen.

I’ve already written about Elena Tonra, who performs as Daughter. Her Demos EP (which is still the glorious price of free) is a lovely thing, delicate and serene. With a beautifully pure tone, Elena’s voice is captivating and expressive. If the four recorded tracks on the EP already feel intimate, a live performance would be stunning indeed. She’s been all over BBC radio, just recorded a session for Daytrotter, was featured in Q Magazine, and likely won’t be underground for very long.

Goldheart Assembly
I was bummed to miss these guys at SXSW. The tight harmonies of Goldheart Assembly’s “King of Rome” will lodge themselves in your brain for weeks, especially as you find yourself yearning for summer sunbathing music. All of last year’s Wolves and Thieves is filled with these retro stylings, a West Coast vibe that alternates between mellow (the soft and gorgeous “Last Decade”, for example) and hyped up (the cheery “Under the Waterway” almost sounds like Fun.’s folkier cousin). It’s supposed to rain here in the Bay Area on Saturday, but London looks sunny and warm. Pull out your Ray Bans and let Goldheart Assembly put you in the mood.

Three Blind Wolves
There’s no other way to say it: I frigging adore Three Blind Wolves. The Glaswegians’ seven song debut, Sound of the Storm, came out on Communion at the end of March, and has been taking over my iPod ever since (it’s easily in my top five fave discoveries of the year so far).The lyrics are clever, melodies catchy, and presentation confident. Lead singer Ross Clark uses his voice like a true instrument, shifting registers and manipulating texture with control. They’ve been called a ‘countrified Modest Mouse’, but that’s really just the tip of the iceberg.

Tom Williams and the Boat
First of all, check out the Station Session they did in July last year. It’s great. Tom Williams and the Boat are of that Frank Turner ilk, where singing morphs into shouting and words are squished together or strung out into conversational phrases. As Tom triumphantly shouts on new single “Concentrate” (check out this version, recorded in a bathroom), he’s a ‘modern man’–and the lyric-driven songs are nothing if not contemporary. The band’s dynamic rock-twinged style would provide a welcome burst of energy in the middle of Saturday afternoon.

Treetop Flyers
Treetop Flyers sound like they’ve been around for a while, by which I mean two things: a) they sound like the modern answer to bands like Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young, and b) they sound like old pros, even though their debut EP was only released in 2009. They also just won Glastonbury’s Emerging Talent Competition, which earns them a spot on the giant festival’s main stage. Check out their amazing Bandstand Busking session, as well as For Folk’s Sake’s interview with vocalist Reid Morrison.

Festival Envy

As I sit here writing papers on things like copyright law and public opinion polls, the rest of the music-loving world is journeying to Austin, Texas. The interactive/film/music powerhouse that is SXSW draws everyone from industry insiders to spring breaking hipsters because of its sheer awesomeness. I’m going to be living vicariously through all the music bloggers and tweeters taking over Texas this coming week, and I’ll try to post some of my findings on here. In the meantime, here are some suggestions for SXSW bands and artists to check out.

Admiral Fallow
The Scottish band formerly known as the Brother Louis Collective released their debut, Boots Met My Face, on March 28th in the UK. They have the Scottish vigor of a band like Frightened Rabbit, but have added a bit of softness and a lovely wind section. Their lyrics are clever and evocative, and standout track “Squealing Pigs” is the cheeriest ode to that “sinking feeling of being alone” I’ve ever heard.

Alessi’s Ark
There’s really nothing about Alessi’s Ark that I can add to what I’ve said already. If you haven’t climbed aboard the Ark, you’re missing out–big time.

Bombay Bicycle Club
There’s nothing new or small about Bombay Bicycle Club, but these guys do give a great live show. I saw an acoustic set at London’s Old Queen’s Head pub, and was instantly sold. That they followed up their 2009 debut I Had The Blues But I Shook Them Loose with an acoustic album (Flaws) made me pretty darn happy. Word on the street (er, in NME) is that they’re returning to electric for album number three, which will be released in June.

Goldheart Assembly
Goldheart Assembly released 2010’s Wolves and Thieves to positive reviews, and by all accounts their live performances are even better. NME called their on-stage sound “an explosion of energy”, and the band’s energetic California-esque harmonies seem built for live audiences.

The Head and the Heart
I love these guys. As I previously wrote, I discovered the Seattle band at a Stornoway concert–and they blew me away. Now they’re signed to Sub Pop, touring with everyone from Dr. Dog to Iron and Wine (later this spring), and are certainly going to keep climbing. Check out their official video for “Lost In My Mind”, which has been circulating MTVU:

High Highs
The lush music of High Highs strikes the perfect balance between ethereal and energized. Their songs are simply beautiful. I was first wooed by this dreamy cover of Wild Nothing’s “Live In Dreams”:

James Vincent McMorrow
See my post at For Folk’s Sake on the husky Irish singer-songwriter. Seems like just the type to create a hauntingly intimate live show.

Matt Corby
Gotta give a Communion shout-out to Australian Matt Corby, who morphed from Australian Idol contender to scruffy folkie. The transformation seems to suit him well, and got him signed to Communion after a placement on one of their Compilations.

Matthew and the Atlas
Matthew and the Atlas truly takes my breath away. Do yourself a favor and check them out, as soon as possible. Like, stop reading this. Go.

Noah and the Whale
Though I’m not crazy about their brand spanking new third album, Last Night On Earth, my love for NATW still knows no bounds. I’ll be officially reviewing the album later, but for some great and heartbreaking tunes, check out The First Days of Spring.

Summer Camp
I think I’m beating a dead horse on this one. They’re great, we already know that.

The Vaccines
Ohhhh, the Vaccines. I’ve yet to fully make up my mind on this straight-up guitar rock project from Justin Hayward Young and co., but it is unquestionably fun pop music. Their EP was released in the US on March 8th, and their debut album will be available May 31st.

Also: Alex Winston, The Antlers, Birds & Batteries (San Francisco bands FTW!), Bobby Long, Caitlin Rose (who I’ll be seeing with Johnny Flynn in May!), Cheyenne Marie Mize (who I saw with Johnny Flynn in November), Hunx & His Punx, John Grant with Midlake, Maps & Atlases, Nathaniel Rateliff, Pepper Rabbit, Rural Alberta Advantage, Sea of Bees, Smith Westerns, Trampled by Turtles, Tune-Yards, Wye Oak. And this is just the tip of the iceberg.