wears the trousers magazine

first listen: kathryn williams
December 3, 2009, 11:31 am
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Kathryn Williams
The Quickening

[not final artwork]

Due for release in February 2010, The Quickening will be the seventh solo studio album from Kathryn Williams, and her first since 2007’s Leave To Remain. For an artist with such a consistently strong catalogue and a Mercury Prize nomination under her belt, she remains something of a well kept secret, while other lesser artists have ridden into the mainstream on the back of the recent ‘new folk’ resurgence. That could all be set change next year, with the help of a new deal with One Little Indian and perhaps the most accomplished album of her career. The Quickening was recorded live at Bryn Derwen Studio in North Wales in just four days, with a self imposed limit of three takes per song. Incredibly, Kathryn did not allow the other musicians to hear the compositions before entering the studio, giving a palpable sense of immediacy to what must surely be recognised as some of her best material to date. A full review of the album will follow in February. For now, here’s our track-by-track preview:

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first listen: first aid kit

First Aid Kit
The Big Black & The Blue

Due out on January 25 through UK label Wichita Recordings, The Big Black & The Blue is the eagerly awaited debut album from teenage sisters Klara and Johanna Söderberg, who broke out of their native Sweden in style earlier this year with the spectacular Drunken Trees EP, recorded at home in 2008 when the girls were 15 and 18, respectively. Sellout shows all over Europe ensued in a series of gobsmackingly beautiful performances that cemented the Söderbergs’ brilliance and heart-fluttering simplicity. The success of the EP was partly down to its harmony-infused folk compositions never falling short of bewitching, but also because the sisters’ tender years were at such magical odds with the wise and world-weary narratives of their songs. Though at this point Klara and Johanna have now finished school, travelled far and wide, rubbed shoulders with the great and good of indie rock, and are facing the very real prospect of long-term survival in the music industry, we’re happy to report that The Big Black & The Blue, while perhaps less immediate, doesn’t blanch First Aid Kit of the charms that made them such a breath of clear, mountain air. A full review of the album will be published in January. For now, here’s our track-by-track preview:

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first listen: marissa nadler’s little hells
January 12, 2009, 11:06 am
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firstlisten_marissa2Marissa Nadler
Little Hells

[not actual artwork]

Due out on March 2nd through New York-based label Kemado Records, Marissa Nadler’s Little Hells follows the delicate and harrowing Songs III: Bird On The Water, her breakthrough album and easily one of the best records of 2007. This time round the lyrics remain as sad and as sublime as ever, although the involvement of producer Chris Coady (TV On The Radio, Gang Gang Dance), Blonde Redhead drummer Simone Pace and lap-steel pro ‘Farmer’ Dave Scher (formerly of Beachwood Sparks), as well as good friend and frequent collaborator Myles Baer, ensures that Nadler’s fourth record sets out in an interesting direction that’s both new and old. Here’s our track-by-track preview. A full review of Little Hells will be published next month. 

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first listen: new 50 foot wave ep
January 6, 2009, 5:58 pm
Filed under: EP, first listen, review | Tags: , , , ,

firstlisten_50footwave50 Foot Wave
Power + Light EP

At nearly 26 minutes long and with no production breaks, you’d be forgiven for initially thinking that Power + Light is an alt-rock explosion trying desperately to find its feet in a field of its own shrapnel. But give the record some much-deserved attention and the intense live atmosphere 50 Foot Wave notoriously create seeps through the cracks torn by the driving rhythm section and roaming electric guitar. Fronted by the legendary Kristin Hersh, the EP emerged as a 30-minute live dirge of a demo. It was then divided into seven separate movements that barely give bassist Bernard Georges, drummer Rob Ahlers and guest cellist Victor Lawrence a chance to mop their foreheads. 

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