Tag Archives: mumford & sons

News Bits and Bobs


New addiction: Andrew Davie’s new outfit Bear’s Den. Check out a live version of song “Pompeii” above.

I know I’m not great about updating this blog, but this is bad–even for me. Thankfully I have an excuse: I was in London! That’s right, London. The homeland. The mother ship. While I was reliving study abroad memories, seeing friends new and old, and hanging out at Borough Market, a lot of cool stuff happened in folk world. Here are just some of the news items I missed.

Communion artist Michael Kiwanuka toured with Adele earlier this year–no small feat! He’s now announced details of forthcoming EP Home Again, which is set to be released January 1st. It’s short and sweet, with just three tracks:

‘Home Again’ (click to hear his performance on Lauren Laverne’s BBC6 Music show)
‘Now I’m Seeing’
‘They Say I’m Doing Just Fine’

Three Blind Wolves have released a free acoustic EP, The Maybe Forest. It features an acoustic version of “Emily Rose” as well as a bunch of tracks I don’t know, and you can get it here. The band has also been in the US (not the West Coast, dammit), and their last date on that tour is tomorrow night at Star Bar in Atlanta.

The fabulous King Charles has released a video for the official recording of “Ivory Road”–and while I think I like the Black Cab Session a bit better, it’s pretty exciting that an LP is on the way.

    Mumford & Sons have two new tracks floating around–including one from the upcoming film adaptation of Wuthering Heights. That track is called “Enemy”, and you can listen below. The other track is “Ghosts That We Knew”, and was debuted in Philadelphia on 104.5 FM.
    And finally, I reviewed Florence and the Machine’s new album Ceremonials on The Owl Mag. Here’s a snippet:

    ‘For an artist like Florence Welch, the second album is tricky. Will it catapult her into the Top 40? Will she maintain even an ounce of indie cred, or be relegated to guilty pleasure playlists? As songs from Lungs continue to haunt movie trailers and car commercials, Florence and the Machine appears to be moving dangerously close to ubiquity. For me, then, sophomore effort Ceremonials begs the question: can I still own my girl crush?

    I realize that’s probably not the question running through your mind, but bear with me. With her crazy red hair, kooky style, and songs about stabbing girls’ eyes out, Flo is endearingly eccentric–a refreshing and indie-appropriate superstar. Though flanked by a self-professed Machine, she and debut album Lungs never felt like products of one. Ceremonials had a lot to live up to: it needed to bring the same quirky grandeur as its predecessor, or my admiration would end up in one of her boys’ coffins.’

    (Read More)

Bridge School Benefit Announces Line-Up: Mumford & Sons, Arcade Fire, and More

The 25th annual Bridge School Benefit in Mountain View (which takes place October 23rd and 24th) has just announced its lineup. As usual, it’s a great selection of big-time bands and artists:

Arcade Fire
Foo Fighters (Day 2)
Beck (Day 1)
Eddie Vedder
Mumford & Sons
Tony Bennett (Day 2)
Los Invisibles featuring Carlos Santana
Jenny Lewis
Diana Krall (Day 1)
Dave Matthews
Neil Young

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.

Guest Post in The Spectator: “The Folk Heard ‘Round the World”

Hey everyone. This blog is looking pretty sparse, because I’ve been cruising the Great White North. I’m still delightfully off the grid, but decided to pull out the ol’ laptop (which I’ve been lugging in my suitcase for no reason up until now) and post a guest blog I did recently for The Spectator. It’s the oldest continuously-published English language newspaper in the world, so I was quite honored to be asked to contribute. I decided to do a bit of a comparison between English folk artists and American ones, because I do sometimes feel like a translator–I can say ‘hella’ with NorCal enthusiasm and ‘bloody’ with British vigor. (I actually would feel idiotic saying either of those things, especially ‘hella’. For the record, we don’t all say that up here.)

Here’s an excerpt from my guest post, which has an accompanying Spotify playlist(!), and is called “The Folk Heard ‘Round the World”. Read more by clicking the link at the end.

If Anglophilia had a twelve-step program, I’d need it. On the surface, I seem like a normal Californian: I say things like ‘awesome’ and ‘dude’, eat copious amounts of sushi, and consider the derisive term ‘San Francisco values’ high praise. But my not-so-deep, not-so-dark secret is that my heart is stuck in England – and so are my headphones.

I listen to that newfangled ‘new-folk’, that nebulous category of acoustic-ish music that’s been pouring out of the UK and reviving international interest in banjos. The funny part about my addiction is that the lines between the UK and the US are increasingly blurred; SPIN Magazine even claimed that Mumford & Sons are ‘leading the charge’ in the ‘New Americana Revolution’. These artists are as attuned to my country and its traditions as I am to theirs.

Which leads me to this playlist. The truth is excellent folk is coming from everywhere nowadays and whether Mumford & Sons are leading any sort of revolution is open to debate. Though my interest started with England, there is definitely a dialogue between musicians on both sides of the pond (spring’s Railroad Revival Tour, with Mumford & Sons, Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros and Old Crow Medicine Show, is a prime example).

For this Spotify Sunday, I’m taking advantage of my place in the middle of these two worlds. I’m hoping to be your new-folk guide and translator, helping you navigate the good old United States. (Read more.)

Matthew and the Atlas on Daytrotter

I just discovered this, but it was posted July 5th. Better late than never, eh? Check out the Daytrotter session for my beloved Matthew and the Atlas, which includes recordings of “To the North”, “I Will Remain”, “Come Out of the Woods”, and “Within the Rose”.

And while you’re at it, listen to the new Mumford & Sons track that’s been floating around, tentatively called “Home”:

One day I’ll get a review up….

School and impending sickness (go away, sniffles!) have taken over my life, so I haven’t gotten my Railroad Revival Tour review done yet. Massive fail, I know. Pictures are on my flickr (see the sidebar), and this video of the three bands singing Woody Guthrie’s “This Train Is Bound for Glory” just came out today. Enjoy!

Coachella Recs

One of these days, I’ll make it to Coachella. The main problem (other than the fact that this year’s tickets sold out like that) is that Cal Day is the same weekend, every year. Cal Day is the main event for incoming freshmen at Berkeley–so all of us club participants try to entice them with our info sessions and obvious coolness.

The only good thing about Cal Day is that they’ve been bringing bands up for the occasion. And not lame bands, either. Last year was Cold War Kids, and this year it’s the Dodos. Not to mention, the Bay Area gets a flood of concerts known fondly as Fauxchella–so I’m not left completely high and dry (we also have The Lonely Island coming to Amoeba Berkeley for Record Store Day).

Nonetheless, if I did have the coveted Coachella tickets, these bands would be on my agenda:

FRIDAY
Crystal Castles
Who doesn’t want to see Alice Glass go batshit on stage?

Cut Copy
The Australian synthpop band is actually coming to the Bay Area on Saturday and Sunday, but tickets sold out faster than you can say “shrimp on the barbie”. Their most recent album, Zonoscope, is fantastic from start to finish, and has dominated my iPod since its February release.

The Black Keys
The Grammy-winning blues rockers need neither an introduction nor justification: I’m sure they’re making most people’s Coachella list.

The Drums
The Drums’ lighthearted songs have lodged themselves in my brain for aaaaages now. And even though I’ve been perfectly okay with that, I feel like the only solution would be to see them live. Their brand of catchy pop would be perfect for the Indio heat.

The Morning Benders
I’ve got to support a band from Berkeley–and thankfully, they make it really easy by creating wonderful music. I fell in love with the Yours Truly session above, as well as their cover of Talking Heads’ “Pull Up the Roots”. But obviously all of debut album Big Echo is fantastic.

The Pains of Being Pure At Heart
I reviewed the music video for their most recent single, “Heart In Your Heartbreak”, for The Owl Mag. It’s totally adorable. I’m also going to try to catch their free in-store at Amoeba SF on Tuesday the 19th.

The Rural Alberta Advantage
Maybe I’ve spent too much time working in a quirky yet upscale retail establishment (Anthropologie), but I know the Rural Alberta Advantage was in my consciousness before I realized who they were. I’m about 99.9% positive that “Don’t Haunt This Place”, from 2009’s Hometowns, made it onto the Anthro radio station, and I would bet a good deal that you’ve heard it somewhere too. But the rest of that album, as well as their March-released sophomore album (Departing), is just as excellent as their most well-known song.

Also: Cold Cave, Cold War Kids, Sleigh Bells, Tame Impala

SATURDAY

Animal Collective
Duhhhhhhhh.

Arcade Fire
Double duhhhhhhh. Can you say ‘Grammy Winner’? Also, saw these guys a billion years ago promoting Funeral, and a marching band showed up while a fight broke out on stage. It was awesome.

Freelance Whales
Full disclosure: I’ve never given Freelance Whales the listening time they deserve. The genre-bending New Yorkers get rave reviews from, well, everyone. I’d love to check them out live.

Here We Go Magic
The catchy electro tunes of Here We Go Magic may veer from Luke Temple’s folk beginnings, but it’s great stuff. For us stranded Bay Areanites (Bay Areans just sounds terrible), we have to wait a bit longer–the band is going to be at Rickshaw Stop in San Francisco on May 2nd.

Mumford & Sons
This blog could probably be renamed “An Ode to Mumford & Sons”. So obviously they’d be pretty high up on my list of Coachella must-see bands.

The Swell Season
No joke, I would probably buy Coachella tickets JUST for the Swell Season. I fell in love with all things Glen Hansard several years ago, and the Oscar-winning Once is without question my favorite movie. I remember, my first year of college, they were playing somewhere in the Bay for around twenty bucks–but, being an ickle freshman, I didn’t have anyone to go with and didn’t want to trek into the city alone. I still kick myself for missing such a steal. This pair has almost superhuman passion, and I would love to see them live.

The Tallest Man On Earth
The Tallest Man On Earth is the beautiful folk project of Kristian Matsson. I’m in love with his gravelly voice and lovely songs–this Daytrotter version of “I Won’t Be Found” gives me the heebie jeebies, it’s so gorgeous.

Trampled By Turtles
The fast-paced bluegrass/alt-country band Trampled By Turtles would be a blast to see live. Just listen to the instrumentals on “Wait So Long”–these guys have crazy energy.

Also: Bright Eyes, Broken Social Scene, Delta Spirit, Foals, Francis and the Lights, Jenny and Johnny, Thao with the Get Down Stay Down, The New Pornographers, The Radio Dept., Two Door Cinema Club, Yelle

SUNDAY

Best Coast
I feel like Coachella is MADE for bands like Best Coast. Hipsters will be drawn to this stage like…well, hipsters to fountains of free PBR.

City and Colour
City and Colour, the solo project of Alexisonfire’s Dallas Green, has generated quite a bit of buzz for his sweetly-sung tunes. I’d love to make a clever Canadian joke, but I can’t think of one at the moment–but let’s just say Coachella may be a better indicator of success than one of those ‘JUNO’ things (which he won in 2006 for Best Alternative Album. And I’m totally kidding, by the way).

Duran Duran
Uh, they’re Duran Duran. ‘Nuff said.

Kanye West
Uh, it’s Kanye. ‘Nuff said.

Ratatat
The above video should actually be all the explanation needed. Especially for everyone at Coachella who might be…under the influence. Of anything.

The National
The National is another one of those bands that I haven’t really given its due. I missed them at 2010’s Treasure Island Music Festival, but I’ll catch them one of these days.

The Presets
Check out this remix. It’s addicting.

Also: Angus and Julia Stone, Ellie Goulding, Jack Beats, Phosphorescent, the Strokes.

Railroad Revival Tour Facebook Groups

To those of you excitedly awaiting the Railroad Revival Tour with Mumford & Sons, Old Crow Medicine Show, and Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros, add new city-specific Facebook groups to your list of sites to monitor.

Railroad Revival Tour – Oakland
Railroad Revival Tour – San Pedro
Railroad Revival Tour – Chandler
Railroad Revival Tour – Marfa
Railroad Revival Tour – Austin
Railroad Revival Tour – New Orleans

Railroad Revival Tour


Mumford & Sons cover Old Crow Medicine Show’s “Wagon Wheel” for BBC Radio 2.

Mumford & Sons, Old Crow Medicine Show, and Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros are taking to vintage trains and riding across the Southwest. They’ll be recording tracks on board and playing a variety of gigs over the course of their week, starting in–WAIT FOR IT–Oakland, CA. If I don’t get tickets to this, my sobs will be heard ’round the world.

“The Railroad Revival train is 1,500 feet long and consists of 15 vintage railcars from the 1950s and 60s, pulled by two locomotives. The bands will eat, sleep, and record on the train as they travel across the American Southwest, bringing their collaborative vision to fans from California to New Orleans. The bands will have equal billing and equal time on stage, in an environment that encourages creativity and cross-pollination. The entire tour will be the focus of a documentary that captures the spirit of the journey and gives intimate insights into the creative process…..

Tickets to The Railroad Revival Tour go on sale Wednesday, March 9 at 9 am PST (10 am MST, 11 am CST, 12 pm EST). Tickets are available exclusively through http://railroadrevivaltour.com. Each ticket will include an MP3 download of live recordings from the tour as well as a commemorative ticket custom-designed for each site, with no additional service fees.”

Check out more information at railroadrevivaltour.com.

UPDATE: Be warned that they only let you purchase two tickets in the presale!