Category Archives: Johnny Flynn

Cuteness overload.

Johnny Flynn (and a special guest!) left this adorable message for his Twitter fans–the JF-endorsed account @JohnnyFlynnNews just hit 3,000 followers.

And in completely unrelated news, who caught Admiral Fallow’s “Squealing Pigs” in that GE Super Bowl commercial!? I was pretty stoked about that.

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 (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.

Belated Reviews: The Head and the Heart, Johnny Flynn, Okkervil River, Bob Dylan, the Felice Brothers

Hey everyone. Since I’ve last posted, I’ve graduated from college! Twice! (No, really. Being a double major, I had two commencement ceremonies.) Although I’ve sadly neglected my own blog, I’ve gotten a few things out for The Owl Mag, MXDWN, and For Folk’s Sake. Also, check my Flickr (right sidebar) for some pics. I’ve posted excerpts of my reviews below, but click the links for the full articles. I’ve also been writing a ton of music video reviews for the Owl Mag, so take a look at their main site.

Johnny Flynn and the Sussex Wit at the Independent, 5/17/2011 (Owl Mag)
“For me, it all started with Johnny Flynn. The first few notes of 2008′s A Larum led to an all-consuming obsession with English folk music (the dubiously labeled “new folk” scene, to be specific) that refuses to let up. I can’t help but be charmed by the Shakespearean lyricism and lively instrumentals; he and his Sussex Wit find just the right spot between eclectic and familiar, old-world and contemporary. With an even blend of songs from A Larum and 2010′s Been Listening, Tuesday’s gig at the Independent showcased everything there is to love about the talented troubadour.” Read more

The Head and the Heart at Bottom of the Hill, 4/27/2011 (Owl Mag)
“It’s the evening of April 27th and San Francisco’s Bottom of the Hill is bursting at the seams. I was pressed against the stage by a kid and his parents on one side and a gaggle of hipsters on the other, all eagerly awaiting the arrival of the Head and the Heart. “Called Seattle’s next big band” by NPR, the folk-pop sextet has quickly wound its way into the world’s hearts and headphones. They’re defying the odds in an era where bands have to fight harder than ever to be heard above the din.” Read more

Okkervil River, I Am Very Far (MXDWN)
“Okkervil River’s I Am Very Far opens like a slap across the face. The first crisp hits of the snare drum in “The Valley” are a jolt of energy, an invigorating introduction to the band’s sixth studio album. The Austin quintet never abandons the bombast of these initial beats, but instead revels in this theatricality for the album’s duration. Even the slightly haphazard waltz of “Hanging from a Hit” or the dwindling oohs of “The Rise” are imbued with an almost overwhelming dynamism. From powerful start to fading finish, I Am Very Far masters the art of coming undone.” Read more

Bob Dylan, The Complete Mono Recordings (MXDWN)
“One could be skeptical about Columbia’s Complete Mono Recordings. Could this reworking of Bob Dylan’s first eight albums really improve them? Would a shift from stereo sound to mono make that much of a difference? How much more brilliant could they be, anyway?” Read more

The Felice Brothers, Celebration, Florida (For Folk’s Sake)
“When I think of Americana, I think of banjos, harmonica, gritty vocals with a bit of a twang. Frankly, I think of songs like the Felice Brothers’ ‘Frankie’s Gun!!’, with its old-time storyline and humming accordion. The New York band’s latest work, Celebration, Florida, hardly fits this well-established mold: Ian Felice’s Dylan-esque tone is swathed in synthesizers more often than acoustic guitar. Nonetheless, the Catskills quintet has produced a modern portrait of the United States, chock full of contemporary themes and sounds.” Read more

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!

“The Water”

I’m late to the party on this (insofar as posting is concerned), but here is the exquisite video for Johnny Flynn’s new single “The Water”, a duet with Laura Marling.

And while you’re already lulled into the song’s contemplative rhythm, check out this beautiful solo version by Laura:

And, finally, check out Johnny’s American tour dates here. If you’re super cool, I’ll see you at San Francisco’s Rickshaw Stop on November 7th.

Blog Fail

Hello delightful readers,

I have to apologize for the massive blog post shortage over the past few weeks. Besides the ridiculously heavy work load for school, I’m also moving–which means most weekends find me putting baby pictures in boxes and throwing away six year old movie ticket stubs. I’ve now realized that there isn’t a whole lot that separates me from the people on Hoarders.

Anyway, I’m supposed to be reading about freak shows right now (we rhetoric majors have all the fun), but expect increased activity in the next few days.

In the meantime, enjoy this short playlist of study jams du jour.

The Acorn, Restoration (Four Tet Remix) (YouTube)
Anais Mitchell, Wait for Me (feat. Justin Vernon) ( YouTube)
Arcade Fire, Rococo (YouTube)
Beach House, Used To Be (YouTube)
Broadcast 2000, Rouse Your Bones (YouTube)
The Drums, Down By the Water (YouTube)
Johnny Flynn, Churlish May (demo) (YouTube)
Laura Marling, Don’t Ask Me Why (from album #3!) (YouTube)
Left with Pictures, June (YouTube)
Mumford & Sons, Nothing Is Written (YouTube)
Of Montreal, I Feel Ya Strutter (YouTube)
Peggy Sue, Lover Gone (YouTube)
Ra Ra Riot, Keep It Quiet (YouTube)
Stornoway, Watching Birds (YouTube)
Timber Timbre, Demon Host (YouTube
Wild Nothing, Golden Haze (YouTube)

Happy studies and happy listening!

Been Waiting for Been Listening

June 15, 2010
I can’t wait for my copy of Been Listening, Johnny Flynn’s new album, to arrive in my mailbox! I ordered it from Rough Trade Shops to avoid such pesky things as (currently unannounced) US release dates. In the meantime, I’ve been obsessively listening to the five-track sampler provided by Transgressive Records.

Flynn’s single, “Kentucky Pill” (video above), was released as a free download on April 12th by Stay Loose Digital Group, a Bristol-based digital PR company that represents a rather diverse range of artists, from Alessi’s Ark to MGMT. They are the source of social media buzz, and produce quality content for artists navigating the treacherous waters of branding in the digital age. So the next time you’re drooling over Lissie’s “Bad Romance” Youtube cover, you can thank Stay Loose for knowing how to tap into online trends.

Speaking of which, Mumford & Sons’ new video for “Roll Away Your Stone” was released on May 20th. Check it out on the Stay Loose website here.