wears the trousers magazine

wears the trousers albums of the decade #75-51

part one part threepart four

Here’s the second part of our albums of the decade countdown, running from #75–51.

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Róisín Murphy

[EMI, 2007]

Of all the critical droolfests that failed to ignite on the commercial front this decade, Róisín Murphy’s second solo album is among the most inexplicable damp squibs. The ex-Moloko frontwoman may have shed the avant-garde experimentalism of her solo debut Ruby Blue in favour of full-on disco diva mode, set against a backdrop of thumping, shimmering state-of-the-art production, but it seems the world wasn’t ready to accept even Murphy’s toned down personality quirks. That’s a real shame for although Overpowered is not without its flaws, there is a sense of playful grandeur here that can easily toe the line with Goldfrapp at their most teasing.

Chris Catchpole

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espers: III (2009)
November 5, 2009, 10:30 am
Filed under: album, review | Tags: , ,


III ••••

It has been three years since this gloomy drone-folk ensemble released their masterpiece, Espers II. Since then, many of its members have released various experimental solo works, such as Helena Espvall’s Anahita, an avant-garde exploration of ritualistic songmanship and freeform folk, and Meg Baird’s more accessible folksy debut Dear Companion. Now the Philadelphia-based sextet are offering their third full-length record entitled – surprise, surprise – III. But while the title was easy to guess, the content makes for a decidedly refreshing change.

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espers announced for latest shred yr face tour

180809_espersNew album out in October

Now in its third incarnation, the latest Shred Yr Face tour marks something of a departure from its predecessors, relying less on the shock and awe tactics of previous treks. This time around the travelling triumvirate consists of Philadelphian collective Espers, Seattle’s The Cave Singers and Brooklyn’s Woods, all of whom could feasibly be labelled alt/psych/freak folk and more likely to shred yr face in an unfortunate agricultural incident than through their abrasive behaviour.

The tour, which fittingly enough kicks off at The Farmhouse in Canterbury on November 9th, marks the long-awaited return of Espers to the UK armed with new material from their upcoming album Espers 3, released October 26th through Wichita Records. Full details of the release have yet to emerge, but we’re pretty much suckers for anything that Meg Baird sings so just the fact that it’s coming is exciting enough. As for the others, well, The Cave Singers released their second album Welcome Joy this week, and we hear it features the impressive vocal power of Black Mountain’s Amber Webber. Meanwhile, Woods will be riding the wave of critical acclaim for their fourth album Songs Of Shame.

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judee sill tribute album out in september

190509_judeesillMarissa Nadler, Beth Orton, Meg Baird and more contribute

The great Judee Sill revival of 2005 saw record label Asylum finally reissue both of the tragic singer-songwriter‘s long out-of-print albums following wild critical acclaim for Dreams Come True, the brilliant two-disc compilation of previously unreleased material rescued from oblivion by Jim O’Rourke. With the floodgates opened, along came another two-disc compilation, Abracadabra, and a surprisingly vital album of live sessions recorded for the BBC in which Judee’s warm, if slightly self-conscious, stage manner threaded the songs together with some enlightening narrative. With the archives well and truly plundered, the obvious next step was a tribute album and US label American Dust were the ones to pick up the reins with Crayon Angel: A Tribute To The Music Of Judee Sill.

With Sill originals like ‘Jesus Was A Cross Maker’ and ‘Lady-O’ providing much bigger hits for other artists besides Judee, there’s a long tradition of reworking many of these tunes. They’re not included on this compilation but Fleet Foxes often cover ‘Crayon Angel’ in their live sets, and Tara Jane O’Neil recorded a memorable cover of ‘The Phoenix’ for her 2006 EP, A Raveling. We’re looking forward to hearing Marissa Nadler & Black Hole Infinity’s take on ‘The Kiss’, Meg Baird’s ‘When The Bridegroom Comes’ and especially Frida Hyvönen’s version of ‘Jesus Was A Cross Maker’. But where Crayon Angel gets really interesting is with Beth Orton’s ‘Reach For The Sky’ and Bill Callahan’s ‘Like A Rainbow’, both of which are songs for which only Judee’s original sheet music exists – no recordings of either song have been discovered. We’ll have to wait until September 21st to hear them though. Gah! Full tracklist below.

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free music friday: sharon van etten
March 20, 2009, 2:05 pm
Filed under: free music friday, mp3, review, video | Tags: , , , ,


Sharon Van Etten
‘For You’

Brooklyn-based singer-songwriter Sharon Van Etten spent this Valentine’s Day at home with her cats and some wine, presumably playing beautiful, heart-wrenching ballads to them in between her classic French films. Her own description of her music as “sad prairie folk music” is right on the money – her sound is as sad, acousticy and lovely as anyone could wish. There’s definitely a more than a hint of Meg Baird (whom Sharon supported on her 2008 UK tour) about her, but Sharon’s voice is less fey and, if possible, even more tragic.

‘For You’ is a perfect sad prairie showpiece taken from Sharon’s forthcoming debut album Because I Was In Love, released through Language Of Stone in May. It’s a exquisitely basic song – a simple, repeated riff, a familiar tale of love, longing and heartbreak, and not an awful lot else. Take heed: if you are exposed for this for too long a period you may find yourself bursting into tears spontaneously at the most inappropriate times. But it’s probably worth it. MP3 after the jump.

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meg baird, scout niblett and more for kath bloom tribute

020209_kathbloomAvant-folk legend honoured

2008 was a busy year for Kath Bloom. Not only did she release the massively accomplished Terror, her first official album of all-new material in 24 years, but she also saw two of her most seminal recordings with avant-garde guitarist Loren Mazzacane Connors – 1982’s Sing The Children Over and 1983’s Sand In My Shoe – get a very welcome reissue through Chapter Music. With psych-folk led revivals from Vashti Bunyan and the sadly much less alive Judee Sill and Karen Dalton sparking a huge interest in the musical canons of these ‘lost’ maidens, you shouldn’t bet against a similar wave of reappraisal for the wonderful Ms Bloom following the release of Loving Takes This Course in April.

Part tribute album, part retrospective, the main draw will be the first disc of covers including contributions from the likes of Devendra Banhart (of course!), Josephine Foster (“I consider myself her biggest fan”), Espers’ Meg Baird, Mia Doi Todd, Scout Niblett, Hush Records artist Corrina Repp, Bill Callahan, The Dirty Three’s Mick Turner (with Peggy Frew), and, er, The Concretes. Bit of an anomaly that last one. We’ll be interested to hear it. Sun Kil Moon frontman Mark Kozelek contributes his version of ‘Finally’, previously on his (mostly) covers album The Finally LP last year, at which time he had this to say about Bloom: “I’ve never enjoyed sharing a bill with anyone as much as I have with Kath. She’s wonderful and lights up the room wherever she goes”. The second disc collects together Kath’s corresponding originals, most resplendently mournful. Once again, Chapter Music will be doing the honours of putting this out.

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trouser press: ane brun, meg baird and more

in today’s trouser press:

– surprise new album from Ane Brun
– surprise new album from The Baird Sisters
– Neko Case names upcoming album
– Q Awards nominees announced
– Sia to release new single in October
– hear new Dido!
– Britney will be at the VMAs after all
– new live album on the way from Rodrigo Y Gabriela
– the yolk’s on Dandi Wind
– is Jessica Lea Mayfield America’s answer to Laura Marling?
– Love Is All reveal new album details
– Jessica Simpson owes it all to Dolly Parton
– fan letters keep Pink in the game
– Kate Winslet to play John Lennon’s mother

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Don’t you just love it when your favourite artists suddenly announce a new album and then, *whoosh*, before you’ve even finished reading the press release, there it is, giving the eye to your credit card. Without so much as a whisper of a warning, luminous Norwegian singer-songwriter Ane Brun this week brought us a lovely surprise with the release of Sketches, a collection of demos of all the songs from her recent album Changing Of The Seasons (which still hasn’t had a proper physical release in the UK – come on people!), plus two new songs.

Performed mostly with just voice and guitar or voice and piano, Sketches brings the breathless intimacy of an Ane Brun concert to your living room. The two new songs, ‘Miss Moaning’ and ‘My Baby’s Arms’ were originally recorded for inclusion on Changing Of The Seasons but didn’t really fit with that album’s overall themes and so were discarded. Until now. Sketches is exclusively available through www.klicktrack.com and through Ane’s website.

A best-selling, award-winning artist in Scandinavia, Ane Brun plans to follow this year’s two album releases with a new concert DVD, due to be filmed at Stockholm’s Konserthus on October 3rd with a view to getting it out by the end of the year.

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