wears the trousers magazine


february gig guide

You may ask what, like war, the month of February is good for. To its detriment it’s cold, bombarded with Valentine’s Day marketing to the point of overkill, barren of public holidays, and did we mention how it’s still bloody freezing? In its favour…it’s short. Too harsh? Okay, well, there are some pretty fantastic gigs coming up over the next four weeks. So many, in fact, that it was hard to pick just one event per night to recommend. Don’t forget that many of these artists have several other dates lined up for the month, so use the handy Myspace links we’ve provided to find out if they’re coming to your town. Make space in your diary.

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best of 2009: readers poll results #20-11

Still counting down the 50 albums you voted for in the highest number as your favourites for 2009. Numbers 20–11 right here.

* * *

20

Pink Martini
Splendor In The Grass

[Heinz; October 2009]

What we said then: “With Splendor In The Grass, Pink Martini has produced an album which wears its heart, and multiple influences, on its sleeve. Nothing feels out of place here. The recording, production and sequencing are superb, and the performances are exquisite throughout. A beautifully executed record, it is laidback, sweet and life-affirming.” •••• Matt Bregazzi

What we say now: Some canny voting here! This magnificent album from multi-talented collective Pink Martini truly lives up to its title. Blissful moments of pleasure melt into one another as they romp through several decades’ worth of music and popular culture, even securing ‘Sesame Street’ actor Emilio Delgado for a duet cover of The Carpenters’ ‘Sing’. Anyone still in doubt after the album finale that China Forbes possesses one of the most sublime contemporary voices in music really needs new ears. Fact.

Download: ‘New Amsterdam’, ‘Over The Valley’, ‘Sunday Table’

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nancy elizabeth: wrought iron (2009)
October 10, 2009, 10:26 am
Filed under: album, review, video | Tags: , , ,

n_lp_nancyelizabeth_09

Nancy Elizabeth
Wrought Iron •••••
The Leaf Label

In the best of all possible worlds, everyone would have a grandma from the Faroe Islands. Or at least, given the paucity of Faroese population numbers, any musician broadly operating within a folk milieu. Nancy Elizabeth Cunliffe has just such a grandma, and wrote much of her second album Wrought Iron in that particular ancestral home. And if this anything to go by, there is nothing like the tough romance of Europe’s chilly island peripheries for imbuing what you do with a shock of understated naturalistic ardour. From the piano-led instrumental landscape poetry of the opening ‘Cairns’ through to the wispy mesmeric season blues of the closing ‘Winter, Baby’, an intense thematic sense of isolation pervades. The Faroes can’t take all the credit though; rural Spain and, closer to her Wigan home, The Lake District also played their part. No doubt too did the 17th century cottage in North Wales where the album was recorded without too much contemporary trickery. The result? A gorgeous piece of work in the downbeat yet uplifting pastoral contemporary folk tradition of Nick Drake.

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nancy elizabeth announces union chapel show
August 19, 2009, 12:48 pm
Filed under: mp3, news, where's the gigs | Tags: , , , ,

190809_nancyelizabethLimited number of low-price early bird tickets available

In the run up to the release of her recently announced second album Wrought Iron on October 5th, Lancashire’s Nancy Elizabeth has got herself a fancy London show at the Union Chapel’s Upper Hall on September 24th through ethical grass-roots promoters Fleeing From Pigeons. And sticking with the avian theme, the support act will be up and coming Brighton resident Gemma Williams, aka Woodpecker Wooliams, who releases her debut album Diving Down tomorrow through Autumn Ferment Records. Tickets for the gig are priced at £7 each, but early birds who buy before the week is out will get a specially designed ticket for just a fiver. At the end of October, Nancy embarks on a mini-tour as the support act for Efterklang, with shows in Birmingham, Glasgow, Leeds and Reading.

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free music friday: essie jain

fmf_essiejainEssie Jain
‘I Remember It Just Like This’

Taken from Don’t Run Over The Birds, Please, the latest sampler from the lovely folks at The Leaf Label, ‘I Remember It Just Like This’ was originally issued last year as one of the bonus tracks on the special edition of Essie Jain’s second album The Inbetween. This particular Englishwoman in New York has gained quite a reputation for her very controlled, hushed singing that can soar to cut-glass highs as effortlessly as it can purr with an unusually English soul. ‘I Remember It Just Like This’ perhaps best recalls the elegant but skeletal arrangements of earlier songs like ‘No Mistake’ from her debut We Made This Ourselves. Soft, elongated horn notes drift along in the background, interspersed with a barely there finger-picked acoustic guitar. A stunningly beautiful pseudo-lullaby, this one’s all about the vocals. (It’s little wonder that Essie recently announced on her Myspace blog that her next release will be an album of sleepytime songs for children.)

Don’t Run Over The Birds, Please also features recent Wildbirds & Peacedrums single ‘There Is No Light’, an early version of ‘Tow The Line’ from Nancy Elizabeth’s upcoming second album Wrought Iron, plus music from Efterklang, A Hawk & A Hacksaw, volcano! and more. You can get the sampler for free by signing up to The Leaf Label’s mailing list, or you can buy the tracks from iTunes. Alternatively, stream the whole thing on Spotify here.

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starless & bible black to return in october

300709_starlessandbibleblackNancy Elizabeth guests

Manchester-based folk-rock collective Starless & Bible Black release their second album Shape Of The Shape on October 12th through Static Caravan. The follow-up to their 2006 eponymous debut finds them ditching the dulcimers and banjos and bringing in some meaty electric guitars and analogue synths, heralding a more muscular sound that filters through seven fine examples of acoustic ballads, gothic blues and swamp rock. Oh, and ‘Popty Ping’, a jazz-inspired folk instrumental titled after our favourite Welsh saying! (It means microwave; perhaps they didn’t have a gas oven available while recording in the Snowdonian mountains?)

As with their previous album, vocalist Hélène Gautier steals the show with her gutsy performances, particularly on the nine-minute epic ‘Les Furies’ – sung in French and described as “a very Gallic observation of after hours culture”. Another highlight, ‘Radio Blues’, features a choral arrangement penned by Jojo Thorne and guest vocals from Nancy Elizabeth, whose own second album Wrought Iron (produced by Starless & Bible Black’s Peter Philipson) is released a week earlier.

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nancy elizabeth purifies her craft with wrought iron
July 14, 2009, 8:44 am
Filed under: news, trouser press, where's the gigs | Tags: , , , ,

140709_nancyelizabethSongs inspired by the sounds of silence

For the follow-up to her impressively accomplished debut Battle & Victory, Nancy Elizabeth set aside her harp and left the bright lights of Wigan to seek solitude in various remote places, including her grandmother’s ancestral home of the Faroe Islands, a village in rural Spain and our own green and pleasant land in the Lake District. As it happens, solitude wasn’t too hard to find in these places and Nancy became well acquainted with his good friend silence, which in turn spurred her into writing songs that she describes as containing thoughts and feeling that would otherwise be inexpressible, certainly not to be uttered in company. “The experience I have when listening to music alone is something that is impossible to experience with another,” she explains. “It’s a quiet place when it feels like only you and the sounds you are hearing exist.”

During her stay in the Spanish region of Aragón, Nancy would sneak into a derelict school and write songs on an old abandoned piano – before the place was demolished while her back was turned – and these were later fleshed out with all manner of instruments, from the usual suspects like guitar and harmonica to a hefty vibraphone, trumpet, glocks and a 100-year old Dulcitone. Aside from hush, Nancy also cites minimalist composers Arvo Pärt and Steve Reich (“I love his use of voices, mallet instruments and pianos”), Talk Talk’s Mark Hollis, Judee Sill and Leonard Cohen as influences. The result, coming out of a rural Welsh studio, is Wrought Iron, a work of huge emotional depth and warmth that hits the shops on October 5th through The Leaf Label. “I like the analogy of personal adversity and experience being the process of forging, and the pure and strong wrought iron being the end result,” she explains.

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