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Loving the Music – the Sound of May: 15th – 31st May 2020

21st November 2020

From my favourite sisters in rock, Larkin Poe, and their new album, to the cleverness of Jacob Collier and Pomplamoose (and quite a bit of listening in between), it’s been a great second half of the month. Where else can you revisit old favourites like Kate & Anna McGarrigle, Thievery Corporation, The Hollies and The Yardbirds while listening to some French Kiwi Juice? Only here!

The impossibly talented Jacob Collier

15th – 21st May 2020 – Featured Musicians:

Larkin Poe – Fink – Jacob Collier – Sam Fender – Kate & Anna McGarrigle – Bananagun – Thievery Corporation – Southern Discomfort – Merry Hell – Reely Jiggered – Hollies – Herman’s Hermits – Yardbirds – FKJ

15th – 18th June: My favourite sisters in rock have a new release in the wind. Rebecca and Megan Lovell, otherwise known as Larkin Poe will release their 5th album, Self Made Man, on 12th June, and if any of the teaser tracks are an indication of what we have in store, it’s going to be the best one yet.

I’m starting today with the track ‘She’s a Self-Made Man’, which Rebecca explained as a song about the up-and-down ride that she and sister Megan have been on for the past 10 years of building Larkin Poe.

And where does the name Larkin Poe come from? Well, Rebecca and Megan’s Great, Great, Great Great Grandfather’s name was Larkin Poe, cousin of the famous Edgar Allan Poe. Now you know! Here we go with the first featured track from their new album and the title says it all, She’s a Self Made Man.

Track two from Larkin Poe’s new album is a cracker of a song. The duo’s musical influence is founded in a love of classical music thanks to their mother, and rock gems from their father’s record collection.

Eventually, they wound up in bluegrass territory and released three acoustic folk albums as the Lovell Sisters alongside their eldest sibling Jessica before Larkin Poe emerged a year later with their first self-released album, Kin, appearing in 2014.

With a work ethic that has to be admired it is no wonder that six years and (soon to be) five albums later, these ladies have made an indelible mark on the music scene. They have played as invited guests with some of the biggest names around and have a history of sold-out concerts and festivals across the country. Here’s the track ‘Holy Ghost Fire’ which sounds precision-engineered for crowd participation is set to be a favourite at concerts. Larkin Poe at their best!

In a Rolling Stone article, Rebecca Lovell of Larkin Poe, while discussing the upcoming album Self Made Man, said “When we planned this album we were armed with a lot of knowledge and experience from the previous records we’ve made. As we’ve got older, we’ve figured out what truly feels and sounds like us, what sounds represent us, and it comes out in the album. There is more vulnerability, with more space and a lot more harmony that harks back to our childhood growing up with the blues. With this album, I feel that Megan and I, even more than on previous albums, came together as sisters and were very real with one another about what we thought was working and what wasn’t, from a production standpoint.”

I have been a Larkin Poe fan from the moment I first heard them and think I have listened to nearly everything available, and I can honestly say that if these few tracks are anything to go by, this is their best to date and is destined to be BIG! I hope the first day of the week has been kind to you all. Wherever you are, thank you for indulging my Larkin Poe obsession. To help you have a happy evening here’s the first single from their new album, Keep Diggin’. 😎

19th May: Tonight I’m featuring three tracks from two albums by a musician who has graced this page before, Fin Greenall, better known by his stage name Fink. He’s s a producer and songwriter with over 20 years of experience in the business, yet hasn’t seemed to have received the recognition he deserves.

Since hearing his 2006 album Biscuits for Breakfast I was an immediate fan and think I shared most of the album on my timeline. To date, he has released 10 albums, but the last two are of particular interest tonight. In October 2019 he released what has been considered his most intimate album to date, Bloom Innocent. Last month he released an acoustic version of the same album, Bloom Innocent – Acoustic. I know a few musicians and bands who have released acoustic versions of songs and sometimes whole albums but seldom to this level of perfection.

To give you an idea of what I mean, I am starting with the non-acoustic version and follow with the acoustic version so you can form your own opinion. So, without further ado, here’s Fink with Bloom Innocent 😎

Continuing with our theme for tonight I have chosen the opening track of Fink’s album, Bloom Innocent, ‘We Watch the Starts’. Again, I’ll post the same track from the Bloom Innocent – Acoustic album in the comments section.

In an Allmusic interview, Fink tells that the track was recorded in one take and completely live. ”When I finished the guide track I knew it wouldn’t get any better. Something I learned from my engineer/producer (Flood) over the years is that there is no such thing as a demo, they are all just different versions.”

This track shows Fink’s remarkable talent for layering sounds and moods, possibly a skill he learned in his early career as a DJ. Here’s We Watch the Stars. Enjoy. 😎

In the early days of his career when Fink was a DJ on the circuit, he realised that mixes and albums of just five-years prior sounded extremely dated very quickly. “This was the danger of making electronic music back then” he explained, “the range of sounds you could achieve was pretty limited and therefore repetitive. I realised that many of the albums of 50-years prior were still fresh as when they were released. Wanting to make music with a shelf life longer than the next fad became important to me. That’s when I changed my direction toward singer/songwriter”.

To close tonight’s selection from Fink’s Bloom Innocent albums I have chosen the acoustic version of a beautiful song, My Love’s Already There. Strangely, on the electronic album, the song is fragile with minimalist keyboards and bass. But I prefer this acoustic version. 😎

20th May: I received a notification yesterday that Jacob Collier has released a new single from his recent album. Jacob Collier, for the uninitiated, is a musical prodigy in his early 20s who plays more instruments than most even aspire to, is a genius at vocal arrangements and understands harmony better than anyone I have heard, and having been a Manhattan Transfer fan for years, that’s quite a thing to admit.

Since winning two Grammy Awards for his first album on which he played all the instruments, sang all the harmonies and filmed the entire process – all in his own music room at home. He has gone on to release 3 more albums in quick succession and has been invited to give numerous masterclasses and has been offered residence at some of the world’s leading music schools.

Here’s the first of three Jacob Collier tracks I’m sharing tonight. This fun song and the second single release from his 2019 album Djesse Vol 3. The track features Kimbra & Tank and the Bangas whom I had never heard of before this video. Here’s In My Bones. Enjoy.

The second track from Jacob Collier for tonight is from the Djesse Vol 2 album and is a celebration of funk.

The first track I ever heard was his rendition of Stevie Wonder’s All Night Long, and by the end of it I was crying with excitement. Yep, I’m not ashamed to admit that some music gets me like that! I’ve included a link to the clip in the comments section for those who may not have seen it.nIn this track you can hear Jacob channeling his inner Stevie. This was the fourth single released from Djesse Vol 2. Here’s It Don’t Matter (Featuring JoJo).

Finishing tonight’s Jacob Collier selection is the latest single release from the Djesse Vol 3 album. I suppose this is the closest that Jacob Collier comes to writing a pop song. But this is no normal pop song, this is another bit of Jacob genius.

Jacob Collier was scheduled to continue his world tour in 2020, but like most performers, his plans are on hold at the moment. I hope he heads to our shores someday, this young genius has become one of my musical heroes. Here’s Jacob along with Mahalia and Ty Dolla $ign with the song All I Need. 😎

21st May: I’m often surprised at how varied Pomplemoose fans are. For those who have no idea what I’m talking about, Pomplamoose is the band headed by husband and wife team Jack Conte and Nataly Dawn. They’ve been around since 2008 and are experts in self-promotion on their YouTube channel with over a million subscribers.

But what is it that makes Pomplamoose so popular? Once you’ve heard one of their incredible mash-ups, for which they are best known, you’ll understand. And the fact that their fans are varied? They’re popularity spans age, gender and fans of rock, classics, goth, metal… you get the picture.

They are clever, slick and as you’ll see from the videos, they love what they do. I have only heard them do mash-ups and covers, so was intrigued when I got a notification about the release of an original, one of just a few they’ve released. I’ve taken a few listens and am happy to say it is fan-bloody-tastic. I’m saving the original for the final track, but starting tonight with a video that gives you a good idea of the Pomplamoose vibe. Here’s what happens when Annie Lenox meets The White Stripes, and it’s a match made in heaven.

The second mash-up from Pomplemoose for today is the dance floor classic from Disco Diva Gloria Gaynor, I Will Survive and Maroon 5’s song This Love. It sounds like it shouldn’t work, but with a good dose of Pomplemoose magic, it’s art!

As mentioned, Pomplemoose primarily promote themselves by means of YouTube, and their videos are made with two strict rules defined by co-founder Jack Conte: What you see is what you hear – (no lip-syncing for instruments or voice), and, If you hear it, at some point you see it. (no hidden sounds). This is the level of honesty that makes their videos so appealing. Enough blah-yak, on with the music! Here’s Gloria Gaynor meets Maroon 5. Enjoy.

And finally, here it is. In my opening post, I mentioned that I would be featuring a new Pomplemoose original. It’s often quite a risk for a band primarily known for their brilliant covers to cross over into releasing originals. Happily, this was no risk. This group of uber-talented musicians has it totally under control. With twelve years of making remarkable music and touring extensively, they should know what they are doing! Thanks for joining me for my Pomplemoose selection. I hope it made existing fans happy and also introduced this amazing band to a wider audience. Enjoy your Thursday evening folks. Here’s Let Loose. 😎

22nd May: Tonight is devoted to another young UK musician who made waves when his Hypersonic Missiles album was released last year. Sam Fender is one of the fresh new faces of British music and if you’ve heard some of his numbers, you will have realised that he is going to be around for a long time to come.

When his debut album was released I featured (and waxed lyrical about) the few tracks I could get hold of. To start tonight’s session I’m revisiting the Hypersonic Missiles album with the track Saturday. Great song, great lyrics, great video – you get the picture?

The other clips I have lined up tonight is a lovely cover of a well-known favourite, and a live video performance he did for the British Red Cross fund. Just Sam and his guitar doing four really cool numbers. But to start here’s Saturday from the debut album Hypersonic Missiles. Enjoy.

As promised, here’s Sam Fender at the BBC Radio 1 Live Lounge doing a cover of a much-loved classic, Amy Winehouse’s Back to Black. The musicians amongst you will appreciate the fact that he keeps that 5-fingered pick constant and perfect for 5 minutes and 14 seconds! But see for yourself. Here’s Sam with Back to Black.😎

When I was considering what clip I should use for the final Sam Fender song tonight I was a bit stumped. There’s so much good material out there that I could have chosen, but decided on a lovely clip of just Sam and his guitar. The simplicity of the clip shows what a down-to-earth nice guy Sam Fender is.

Here he does four songs for the British Red Cross. Of particular note is the straight acoustic version of his song The Borders (11:46). The album version is brilliant but this version brought tears to my eyes. Such a touching song. Have as good a Friday night as the lockdown will allow. There have been many times over the last couple of cabin-fever months that I have been thankful for music to keep me sane! Let me leave you in the capable hands of Sam Fender. 😎

25th May: Back in the ‘70s when a very dear and special friend and I ran a coffee bar in Port Elizabeth, a regular customer (who became a good friend) introduced us to the quirky joys of Kate & Anna McGarrigle. To this day I haven’t met many people who know of them, but when it does happen it is one of those secret knowing smile and special handshake moments. The sisters hail from Quebec and started performing their own compositions during their university years with the folk group Mountain City Four in the ‘60s, with their songs being covered by Emmylou Harris, Judy Collins and Linda Ronstadt. Due to these cover versions, Kate & Anna got their first recording contract and so the first self-titled album was released in 1976.

I’m starting today’s selection from their catalogue of recordings with the track that sold me on the sisters and is synonymous with those crazy and fun couple of years back in Angelos Coffee Bar and the crew who made it their second home. Let’s listen to Blues in D from their first album simply named Kate & Anna McGarrigle. 😎

The next song from that super-quirky Canadian sister duo, Kate & Anna McGarrigle, is a love song about salt. Yes, you read that correctly, salt.

Talking of love songs, Kate married the Canadian singer/songwriter Louden Wainwright III in 1971 and although their marriage only lasted four years, they remained “antagonistic friends” (Kate’s words) and had two children, Rufus and Martha Wainwright, both successful musicians and performers in their own right, and as quirky as their mother and aunt ever were.

This intriguing track (I chose a clip that showed the lyrics) is from their second album, Dancer With Bruised Knees (1977), and the song is called NaCl. This song may well come in handy for any of you on lockdown and trying to homeschool your children. This is ideal for a science lesson!

I don’t think any feature about Kate and Anna McGarrigle could be complete without possibly their most famous and widely covered song, the beautiful Heart Like a Wheel. While the Linda Ronstadt version is probably better known, I am a sucker for the simplicity and pathos that the sisters pack into the original song.

Unfortunately, Kate succumbed to cancer in 2010, but the McGarrigles music lives on in the 10 studio albums and numerous collaborations that they leave us.

Sadly, like Kate, the majority of the special people and group of friends that I learned to love Kate & Anna McGarrigle with back in those Port Elizabeth coffee bar days are gone far too soon, and although it never fails to bring a tear to my eye when I hear this song, it is a tear of happy memories.

Thank you for indulging my choice for today. I hope I’ve rekindled memories in some and sent others on a hunt for more of the McGarrigle’s music. There’s lots of it out there and it is all beautiful! Have a happy week music lovers. 😎

26 May: A bit of Radio Caroline magic happened this morning when they featured a song by Melbourne based band Bananagun. Never heard of them? Well neither had I so I did some digging around and took a listen to their latest album, The True Story of Bananagun, to be released in June.

We’ll come to who they are later, first, let me answer the ‘genre’ question. The song that hooked me sounded like a Nigerian Fela Kuti inspired outfit with a bit of funky Prog-rock thrown in the mix. Sound intriguing? It is! Here’s a pre-release from the album, the song People Talk Too Much. 😎

We’re discovering the Melbourne outfit, Bananagun, today and if you enjoyed the first track I featured, I’m sure you’ll want to know more.

Bananagun wrote and recorded their debut album as a five-piece for the first time, after beginning as the solo recording project of multi-instrumentalist Nick Van Bakel. The additional four members had previously formed the lineup for live performances.

Here’s Bananagun getting in touch with their inner-sixties vibe with a bit of fun funk and frolic, the song Out Of Reach. 😎

The closing song from Bananagun for today is Do Yeah! I’ve listened to some of the earlier Bananagun tracks while putting together the song selection for today and personally think that this album is their best yet. Nick Van Bakel said the band wanted the new album to feel vibrant, colourful and have depth like the jungle. Like an ode to nature”, fusing Brazillian tropicalia with West African rhythms. I think he’s cracked it!

The band had a European tour in the works for May, but the coronavirus pandemic forced its postponement until September. I’m looking forward to hearing what’s in the barrel of the Bananagun in the future. Thanks for listening today folks. 😎

27 May: When Eric Hilton and Rob Garza decided to form Thievery Corporation in 1995 I wonder if they realised just how influential their music would be in the future? From those initial albums that immediately became future classics, their style of Trip-Hop has been embraced globally by fans and fellow musicians alike.

Maybe one of the biggest tributes to your success as an artist is having your music arranged for an orchestra, and that is exactly what we’ll be listening to tonight. In 2017 Thievery Corporation played a historic concert at the JF Kennedy Centre where some of their favourite compositions were arranged by some of the country’s leading young classical composers.

To honour the inspirational performance Thievery Corporation has released the album Symphonik. They recorded the album along with Prague’s FILMharmonic Orchestra and released it last month on their ESL label (18th Street Lounge).

To kick off the selection for today here’s a remarkable rendition of their huge hit, Lebanese Blonde from The Mirror Conspiracy album (2000), and the sultry voice of Natalia Clavier. Enjoy. 😎

Although having an orchestral working of a song or album can sometimes lead to overly lush and sometimes watered-down versions of the originals, not so with Thievery Corporation’s new album, Symphonik. They have successfully integrated their particular flair into each composition without losing any of the songs original quality.

For today’s second choice let’s join them and the Prague FILMharmonic Orchestra for a version of Love Has No Heart from their 2017 Temple of I & I album, joined this time by vocalist Shana Halligan, who interestingly is the daughter of Blood Sweat and Tears founder member Dick Halligan. 😎

In closing the Thievery Corporation theme for today I have chosen a clever arrangement of the band’s song Until The Morning from my favourite album of theirs, The Richest Man In Babylon (2002).

Some might not enjoy the new Symphonik album, but like many commemorative albums before, the new release is a chance to reflect on Thievery Corporation’s success that has the last spanned 25 years. Like it or not, it is evident is that they can still seamlessly incorporate a new, but comfortingly familiar, dimension into their music. Personally, I think it is a worthwhile and important addition to any TC fan’s music collection. 😎

28 May: Happy Thursday music-lovers. There are three folk outfits that you’ve possibly never heard of before tonight, but I’m planning on changing that! One hails from Scotland, one from Manchester and the last is a duo of local guys from Pretoria, and that’s where we are starting today.

Southern Discomfort describes themselves as an electronic folk duo and comprises of Jandre and Alden Van Heerden. Although they share a surname they are not related but met each other in their first year at the Open Window Arts Institute. Now, holding their degrees in film and sound engineering, they are exploring their creativity to the hilt. What grabbed me about this track is how it almost reimagines Folk Music, pairing the intriguing lyrics against a slow, driving soundscape interlaid with a delicate repeated guitar riff that lends a haunting element to the track.

Southern Discomfort plan to release a full album later in the year and I can’t wait to hear where these extremely talented guys take this concept. Find them on Southern Discomfort and subscribe to their YouTube channel to keep up to date with new releases. Here’s the song Something Foreign.

The second folk outfit I’m featuring today goes by the name of Merry Hell and have become well known on the UK folk and festival circuits since they formed in 2010. They have released five albums along with a couple of DVD’s, but the track I am featuring tonight is the first in a trilogy of digital singles to be released at three-weekly intervals.

The song Leave it in the Ground has an ecological theme and was written by fiddle player, Neil McCarthy, whose mining town heritage heightened his awareness at the devastation of the land and community, and inspired him to write the song which looks at the use of cleaner and safer energy as both a way forward and a means of honouring the sacrifices of miners of the past. Here is Merry Hell and the song with a big message, Leave it in the Ground.

The last Folk outfit in today’s selection is a three-piece from Scotland, Reely Jiggered (gotta love that name!). They comprise of classically trained Alison McNeill on fiddle and vocals, her sister Fiona on mandolin, bodhran, guitar and vocals and drummer/percussionist Scott McLean. They released their third album, Tricky Terrain, at the beginning of the month, and it’s a cracker. These are highly skilled musicians with vocals that are chilling at times.

Although Reely Jiggered is inspired by Celtic music, they draw sounds from World beats, fusing Funk, Rock, Pop and Jazz in a distinctive style which is a step above the norm in this genre of music. I’ve chosen the track Walking Boots from the Tricky Terrain album to leave you with. It’s a driving and thoughtful song about the displacement of people throughout history and shows the McNeill sister’s vocal prowess perfectly.

Thanks for exploring some new Fok tracks with me today. If you enjoyed them please share them with your friends, because everything goes better with music! Catch you tomorrow. 😎

29th May: Facebook friend and music lover, John Knottenbolt suggested a documentary a few days ago charting the history of the remarkable band 10cc which was excellent (thank you John). Before you jump to conclusions, I am not going to feature any 10cc songs, but rather a selection of hit songs that were written by one the band before 10cc was even thought of. 10cc had two writing teams within their members, Graham Gouldman and Eric Stewart, and Kevin Godley and Lol Creme, but it is Graham Gouldman that we are discussing tonight.

I’m starting today with an early hit from the British band, The Hollies, for whom Gouldman wrote the 1965 hit Look Through Any Window, and their 1966 blockbuster hit, Bus Stop. Graham Nash, before he quit The Hollies for Crosby, Stills, Na and (sometimes) Young, said that as soon as he heard the songs he immediately knew that the band could turn them into hits. How right he was. Here’s a very early clip of The Hollies performing Bus Stop.

Another big name during the British Invasion of Music of 1964 – 67 was Herman’s Hermits. Their non-threatening looks and the pretty boy image of lead vocalist Peter Noone (who was only 15-years-old but already well known in the UK for his appearances on the long-running soap opera, Coronation Street) became a preferred choice of the ‘moderate’ pop music listener of the period, with The Rolling Stones and The Beatles being too hardcore an option for many.

Here we head back to 1966 and Herman’s Hermits and another bit of Graham Gouldman genius, No Milk Today.

The last track I’ve chosen in today’s threesome of Graham Gouldman songs that were huge hits for other groups, before his own band, 10cc, was thought of, is the classic For Your Love from The Yardbirds. You may (or may not) know that The Yardboards were the springboard for three legends of the guitar: Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page. The band had numerous hits during the mid-60s and although they split up in 1968, they are still considered one of the huge influential bands of the time.

After the band split Keith Relf and Jim McCarty went on to form Rennaisance and Jimmy Page formed Led Zepplin. Here’s one of The Yardbirds first mega-hits, the Graham Gouldman composition, For Your Love. Thanks for exploring the talent of the superb songwriter and musician, Graham Gouldman, and some of the classics he wrote for some of the biggest bands of the ‘60s. 😎

31st May: I came across this clip earlier from a master of looping, French Kiwi Juice, or FKJ as he’s known to his fans. I have featured a few tracks of his before so some of you may know what to expect. FKJ’s music is a wonderful blend of smooth jazz, clever electronics and soundscaping.

What makes this clip, or considering its length I should I say the movie, interesting is the location. This performance was filmed for Cercle (the major music streaming promotion service) on the Bolivian salt flat, Salar de Uyuni.

As FJK said in an interview with Cercle “I didn’t want the location to be just a background to my music but my music to be the soundtrack of the location”. Whether you watch this beautiful video or just have it streaming in the background for the music, do yourselves a favour and take some time to sink into this wonderful sound journey. 😎

This article was first published on the Design Train website for Loving the Music

Words © Andrew Knapp

The author does not own the copyright of any of the videos or images used in the article

Published by Loving the Music

I am a music-lover who has been fortunate enough to live through six-decades of ever-changing musical styles and genres. Loving the Music is my eclectic collection of regular music-related mini-features and whatever else tickles my musical fancy. You can also find me on the Loving the Music Facebook group and page. Happy listening - Andrew Knapp

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