Category Archives: Jeremy Warmsley

Crazy Week for New-Folk!

As many of you likely know, this is a crazy week for new-folk, English music, and just music in general. It feels like there have been a billion album releases: Laura Marling, St. Vincent, Slow Club, Peggy Sue, Blitzen Trapper, Girls. I’m still working through reviews, but here are a couple I’ve gotten out recently, followed by some news bits and bites.

Slow Club, Paradise (Thank Folk for That)
Slow Club’s debut album, Yeah, So, is indie-pop perfection. It’s just the right mix of sincerity and whimsy; sweet without being cloying, heartfelt without being trite. Rebecca Taylor and Charles Watson captured the topsy-turvy spirit of post-adolescence, from bubbly songs about broken hearts to wistful tunes about new relationships. I figured Slow Club’s follow-up would be more of the same: a little older and wiser, perhaps, but full of their signature folk-pop duets. They’d done so well the first time around, I couldn’t think of any reason to tamper with such a charming formula.

I was dead wrong. One spin of Paradise proved that this sophomore effort is not only different, it’s so much better. Rebecca and Charles have moved far beyond adolescence, switching spunky folk for sophisticated pop. Elements of their earlier sound are certainly present, but even those are more mature: think of songs like Hackney Marsh as I Was Unconscious, It Was a Dream, version 2.0. If Yeah, So was the perfect encapsulation of one phase of life, Paradise shows that same lyrical sensibility in this new one. (Read the rest.)

Dawes, Nothing Is Wrong (For Folk’s Sake)
As the only Californian on the For Folk’s Sake writing roster, I felt it was my duty to grab Nothing Is Wrong by Dawes. Not only are they from Malibu, an oceanside haven near Los Angeles, but they sound more Californian than most other bands from the Golden State. The quartet draws inspiration from the Laurel Canyon music scene (which historically includes such musicians as Joni Mitchell and Crosby, Stills, & Nash), and even named their 2009 debut North Hills. Their sophomore effort still gives a nod to their esteemed SoCal heritage, but moves far beyond homage or imitation – Nothing Is Wrong is truly, and magnificently, their own. (Read the rest.)

Catch Laura Marling performing “The Muse” on New York’s KFUV:

Florence and the Machine have also announced details about their sophomore album, Ceremonials. Here’s the track listing:
‘Only If For The Night’
‘Shake It Out’
‘What The Water Gave Me’
‘Never Let Me Go’
‘Breaking Down’
‘Lover To Lover’
‘Seven Devils’
‘Heartlines’
‘Leave My Body’
‘Spectrum’
‘All This And Heaven Too’
‘What The Water Gave Me’

Peggy Sue have released a video for “Song and Dance” off their new album Acrobats. Though out in the UK as of yesterday, Peggy Sue fans in the US have to wait until October 25th for the Yep Roc release.

Peggy Sue – Song & Dance from Wichita Recordings on Vimeo.

And finally… Summer Camp have released an adorable video for “Better Off Without You”. This is the first video where we actually get a glimpse of Jeremy and Elizabeth, and it’s a charming mix of modern and 80’s footage. And it starts with “Welcome to Condale”, a nod to their fanzine of the same name (and the LA suburb where a lot of their songs take place).

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.

A Box, A Cab, and a Laundromat Walk into a Bar….

Not really. That would be pretty bizarre. But my earlier post on venues got me thinking about the variety of weird-ass performances spaces that have cropped up as videotaped sessions, and I thought I’d compile a playlist of some of my favorites. Just for kicks.

NPR’s Tiny Desk Concerts (check out Fanfarlo’s)
Probably one of the most well-known recording sessions ‘in miniature’, the Tiny Desk concerts take place at the desk of Bob Boilen, the host of NPR’s All Songs Considered. Surrounded by the familiar chaos of a packed office, musicians from Adele to the Antlers have graced the space.


Bandstand Busking (Peggy Sue, above)
Bandstand Busking brings an assortment of fantastic musicians to abandoned bandstands around London. I happen to think it’s the bee’s knees, and I know from experience that it’s a great way to spend a sunny Sunday afternoon.

Black Cab Sessions
Black Cab Sessions has featured everyone from Laura Marling to Little Boots. Artists squeeze themselves and their instruments into the back of a cab, play a great song, and call it a day. One shot. My personal favorite is the fabulous session with King Charles, but the acoustic version of “Was It Worth It” by Summer Camp is also wonderful (and sassy!).

Balcony TV
Balcony TV films bands on balconies (duh) all over the world. They’ve spread from the UK to everywhere from Mexico City and Auckland. Balcony TV is very likely to have filmed the band you’ll be listening to obsessively eight months from now. Their Mumford & Sons video, for example (and by far their most viewed), was filmed not too long after the band was formed….and look at them now. I’m rather fond of the Spindle & Wit session above.

Lavomatik Sessions
This French recording session takes place in a laundromat. I never would have thought of that as a possible recording space, but admittedly the acoustics would have to be pretty good. Jeremy Warmsley’s session starts with “Take Care” and ends with a sweet little piece of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”.

Folk In a Box
Folk In a Box doesn’t record anything, and you should consider yourself pretty lucky if you happen to hear one of their concerts. The premise is simple: one person walks into a small wooden box. Someone in the box is playing folk music. The audience member listens.

Songs from the Shed
It’s like Folk In a Box, on a larger scale–with ‘larger’ being extremely relative. For one, these concerts are actually taped. The Shed has been doing quite well for itself; it was featured in a BBC documentary, and has gotten a lot of press coverage. You can see in the Admiral Fallow session above that it’s a pretty tight fit, but bands seem to do just fine.

Bird Song – Alessi’s Ark (TWHP Session) from The Wild Honey Pie on Vimeo.

The Wild Honey Pie Buzzsessions
These things take place everywhere. King Charles played in a horse-drawn carriage; other bands play in New York’s Union Square, LA vintage stores, random apartments, various parks, creepy New York alleys. The Wild Honey Pie also has a lot of concert footage and filmed interviews. The above session with Alessi’s Ark is beautiful.

Yours Truly
Yours Truly (http://www.yourstru.ly) hails from San Francisco and has produced some wonderful, high quality music sessions. The one above by the Morning Benders was the very first thing I ever heard by the Berkeley band, and it got me hooked. They produce lovely videos, and get great artist interviews/behind-the-scenes looks. It also features the clever gimmick of artist letters–signed Yours Truly, of course–written to whomever they damn well please. The Morning Benders, for instance, wrote to Phil Spector.

These sessions are the tip of the iceberg. I didn’t include the obvious ones, like Daytrotter (yeah, it’s audio…but it’s fabulous) or La Blogotheque. If you have any favorites or sessions in particularly zany locations that I’ve missed, leave me a comment!

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.

Summer Camp Young EP Released


I mean really, how cute are they?

My favorite John Hughes-quoting chillwave duo Summer Camp released their Young EP on Monday through Moshi Moshi Records. It’s sweet and dreamy lo-fi at its best, with dialogue, lyrics, and themes from film classics circa 1985 (one song is called “Jake Ryan”–sound familiar, Sixteen Candles fans?). The EP is deliberately rough around the edges, but its reverb-drenched vocals are charming (if at times slightly flat), and its fuzzy production is delightful. If today’s autumn-tinged gloom is any indication, I’ll need the Young EP’s sunny summer nostalgia sooner rather than later.

Download the EP from Moshi Moshi here.

Track listing:
Round The Moon
Was It Worth It
Veronica Sawyer
Why Don’t You Stay
Ghost Train
Jake Ryan