Bob Dylan has outlasted everyone. It must be quite heavy to be the man who influenced almost everyone of note, and to watch so many of these acolytes pass away. Yet Bob still manages to release good music, and this nearly 17-minute opus proves it.
Thanks to Jeff for letting me know about this. It was worth every minute.
Graham Janz is a very eclectic folk singer who originally called Brandon, Manitoba, Canada home, though he now resides in Groningen, Netherlands. He sent me a note asking me to listen to his sketches, and I’m quite pleased that I took him up on his offer.
This isn’t a proper album per se, but home recordings he did, as these are home recordings, but in the spirit of hearing demos by artists like Nick Drake, Peter Hammill (I’m very partial to Van Der Graaf Generator) or even Warren Zevon (Graham covers Roland The Headless Thompson Gunner), it’s great hearing raw, unaffected singing and playing. No tricks, no studio gadgetry, just a chap with his guitar. I’m curious to see how he sounds in studio. His sketches lead me to think that the material will sound quite good.
Benjamin Finney’s work has been reviewed on our blog in the past, as he’s really a fine guitarist, but it finally dawned on me whose work seems to influence and inform his playing. John Fahey. No doubt about it. He has the American primitive sound mastered so well that he’s able to mold it however he wishes. Fahey was utterly brilliant at that. Expect Benjamin to have that same legacy one of these days.
Sam Beam hit his peak with this album. From the heartrendingly beautiful The Trapeze Swinger to his folksy cover of New Order’sLove Vigilantes, the album is a warm, relaxing listen perfect for my cold Beijing day.
When I see music tagged with the term ‘neofolk‘, I expect to hear something like Death In June, The Moon Lay Hidden Beneath A Cloud or Current 93, not this. I’m not entirely sure where jì lú hail from in China, but the label who released this disc, Raflum, hail from Sichuan, home of some seriously good food. If you remember the Japanese psychedelic band Ghost, fronted by guitarist Masaki Batoh, this might be a corollary. It’s exceptionally psychedelic, and has the feel of the Incredible String Band on even more acid, feeling more placid. This is gorgeous.
I have to admit that I’m a bit jealous that I haven’t heard anything this good in Beijing yet.
Dutch label Seja Records graces us with a magnificent new release by Swedish neofolkersFatal Casualties. It’s amazing to thing that Stefan Ljungdahl and Ivan Hirvonen have been performing off and on as Fatal Casualties for 30 years now, as the current release is perhaps the freshest, most vibrant music they’ve put out in more than a decade. It’s hard to even consider this neofolk, because it uses so many other genres as a touchstone. One can hear post-punk, goth, dark electronic music, a bit of a soundscape here and there. Ivan’s vocals top the aural cake off beautifully. Kudos to the engineer who managed to balance the sounds perfectly.
This album was released in 2016, but as I came around to it only recently, I’ll gladly consider this a new-ish release. Well worth your time.
Editorial Municipal de Rosario is a record label out of Rosario, Argentina, which normally focuses on classical music. After digging into their catalog, I noticed that they’re not limited to that genre alone.
This album features the warm voice of Ethel Koffman, a fellow Argentine whose voice lilts in a way that would fit well with Bossa Nova music.
A very pleasant surprise from our friend and colleague, Vincent Moon, who churns out stream of startlingly beautiful compilations from places off the beaten path (Ossetia, Chechnya, etc). His label, Collection Petites Planètes, presents a compilation done with the assistance of Fatime Kosumi, a Kosovar singer of Albanian heritage, covering folk tunes for female choir.