Tag Archives: london

Folkroom: New Album & Launch Party

Aside from my raging Anglophilia, there’s a reason I follow the London folk scene: it’s just good. The city is a hotbed of talent, and there are plenty of supportive locals trying to harness it. I owe a lot to these folk evangelists–not only are they helping artists record and release great tunes, they’re helping people like me discover them. From across the globe.

Like fellow folk community Communion, the label I’m here to introduce grew out of a live night. If you’ve ever stumbled upon the Queen’s Head pub on Acton Street, you may have seen an event called Folkroom–run by Stephen Thomas of We Write Lists and guitarist extraordinaire Ben Walker. These two folk aficionados, along with (fellow 405) writer Robbie Wojciechowski, have decided to turn the fortnightly gig into something bigger and better, and are starting with Folkroom Presents: Anthology One. It’s an album showcasing some of Folkroom’s star performers, and it’s honestly the most exciting thing I’ve heard in some time.

The album is about discovery, and I’ve already discovered some artists fit for my favorites list. It features tracks from the following superb musicians (links to Soundcloud pages):

Laura Boyle
Jessie Moncrieff
Andrew Butler
Camille Delean
O. Chapman
Lucy Cait
Worry Dolls
Woodford Green
Josienne Clarke
Salwa Azar
Dave Gerard

Want to know the best part? You can download the album FOR FREE this Saturday December 17th, at 12pm UK time. And you should–if only so I can finally talk about it with you. I’m getting antsy not being able to share, so head to Bandcamp as soon as the clock strikes noon.

If you’re in London, it gets even better. There’s a December 17th launch party at the Queen’s Head, and most of these fine folksters will be performing. This ten-plus act gig is also the wonderful price of FREE. Check out more info here.

Help Out London Labels

The London riots have been devastating to watch. My heart goes out to the people who’ve seen their lives permanently and horribly altered by this needless violence. I’ve been RT’ing notes about clean-up efforts whenever I’ve seen them, so if you’re on Twitter, please do the same. It’s a tiny thing, but it’s hard to feel like you can help when you’re thousands of miles away. If you’re like me and looking for other ways to get involved, here’s a simple one: buy music.

A Sony distribution warehouse in North London was destroyed by fire, and the stock loss is affecting numerous independent labels. The Quietus has put together some recommendations for great purchases, and also gives a full list of the labels affected by the fire. Here’s just a small handful: Pias, Rough Trade, 4AD, XL, Domino, Willkommen Records, Sub Pop, Secretly Canadian, Drowned In Sound, Kitsune, Dead Oceans, Asthmatic Kitty, Polyvinyl, Thrill Jockey, Drag City, Jagjaguwar, Gang of Four, Boomkat.

It’s disheartening. Head over to The Quietus for their recs, and for sure head to your local record store if you can.

Update: For Folk’s Sake has put out their list of recommendations as well, and PIAS founder Kenny Gates released the following statement on the events:

“Following the dramatic news of yesterday and our note about how [PIAS] is carrying on its business, I feel I need to clarify and add on a few matters.

The news broke through Twitter that the ‘[PIAS] warehouse had burnt out’. It is extremely important for everyone to understand that [PIAS] has no warehouse as such in the UK and that [PIAS] sub-contracts its physical distribution with SONY DADC in Enfield and it is their warehouse which unfortunately went down in flames.

Many people called me to ask whether any of our staff had suffered from the blaze and if we were ok. We are. Thank You.

As you have noticed in our last note , Sony DADC have been remarkably quick and efficient to put together a contingency plan that should allow us to ship to stores sometime next week. We are impressed by their efficiency and that is good news.

These times are difficult for us, our artists, our labels and the whole indie sector which we vastly represent but we are determined to come out of this setback in the best way possible.

The PIAS team has been working around the clock to limit the damage . We know that the livelihood of many talented, passionate and hard working music people, artists and small and bigger labels is at stake and depend on our actions and those of Sony DADC.

We have been getting a lot of words of support and offers of help and that truly helps.
Thank you to everybody who cares and supports [PIAS] and the indie sector.”

New-Folk Family Tree

Folk* Connections

Just a funny little image I saw in my Tumblr feed today. Illustration courtesy of Joe Collins. What’s hilarious to me, nerd that I am, is that this isn’t at all a complete look at the interconnectedness of the London new-folk ‘scene’. Nearly everyone in this picture has denied the existence of said scene, but–really? If it walks like a duck….

Update: just discovered that Joe Collins is a writer for For Folk’s Sake. Which I also occasionally write for, and just generally love. Small world!

By the People, For the People

Louis Armstrong famously said that “all music is folk music”–because it’s all about people connecting with other people (and, as Louis clarifies, not so much about horses singing). Well, the personal connection just got a little more intimate with London’s Folk in a Box. This little gem showed up as a suggested follow on my Twitter, and I couldn’t help but pass it along. Listeners step into this charming but janky* little box, and the folkster-du-jour plays acoustic tunes. In the dark.

They’ve already been featured at the Secret Garden Party, the Southbank Centre, Tate Britain, and several other festivals. Said of the SGP gig: “we made 2 people cry, 3 people dance, 4 people clap along and lots of people smile.” Quite honestly, I’m smiling right now just thinking about it.

*California slang: “adjective used to describe a person, place or thing which is questionable, strange, broken down, and/or just some thing you can’t think of another word for.” (Urban Dictionary)

Artist Profile: Summer Camp

For a while, no one knew much about Summer Camp. As their dreamy tunes floated around the blogosphere, the band itself remained a mystery: perhaps they were a Von Trapp-style singing family brought back from the 1970s (see image above), or a Babysitter’s Club-esque group of friends who met at summer camp. Perhaps they were Swedish–Swedish bands are so hot right now.

Stool Pigeon unabashedly revealed the true identities of Summer Camp back in February, and they were found to be none other than Platform editor Elizabeth Sankey and the much-adored (particularly by me) musician Jeremy Warmsley. Jeremy is one of my most beloved English artists–although he’s been lumped in with the new-folk bunch, his songs span numerous genres and styles. I was lucky enough to see Jeremy on a couple of occasions, performing both with his previous band, Acres, Acres, and alone. His songs are complex and intelligent, unconventional and appealing, electronic, folk, and everything in between.

I look forward to hearing more from Summer Camp–the songs posted on their Myspace are ethereal and catchy (they also win my heart for their Brat Pack/John Hughes references). I think this may be the ticket for Jeremy, whose talent has long deserved wider audiences. This latest endeavor has a more commercial appeal, and is already being lauded by everyone from Pitchfork to The Guardian.

Keep following this band, because they’re already on must-listen lists on both sides of the pond.

‘Ghost Train’ by Summer Camp by seaninsound

The Return of Jay Jay Pistolet

Jay Jay Pistolet was a bit of a crooner. With a (dare I say) sultry voice and vibrato, the singer-songwriter added a bit of sweetness to the London folk scene. To my immense sadness, Jay Jay (real name Justin Hayward-Young) retired his moniker last year with only vague statements about new projects and directions.

For Folk’s Sake has finally revealed Justin’s new ‘project’: a London-based rock band called the Vaccines. Their first track, “If You Wanna”, is already being hyped in the UK by Zane Lowe (Radio 1) and more. I must say, it’s pretty darn catchy.

If You Wanna by The Vaccines