FolkWorld #45: CD Reviews
FolkWorld #45 07/2011

CD & DVD Reviews

Gabby Young & Other Animals "We’re all in this together"
World Connection, 2010

www.gabbyyoungandotheranimals.com

The UK singer-songwriter Gabby Young is surrounded by a fantastic group of fellow musicians and released an impressive solo album which became a major hit in the UK. The beautiful artwork already reveals that young is a free and creative mind and her music shows exactly that. Born in 1984, she writes her own songs and with her powerful, expressive voice she just smashes her listener away. Backed by seven musicians who play folk, Balkan, country, jazz, circus, brass, alternative, world and pop music, Young brings a fresh kind of modern crossover pop music that is accessible for a big audience without losing it’s original and creative sound. I fully understand why the UK already felt for her music, it will be a matter of time before the rest of the globe will buy her album and enjoy the world of Gabby Young and these other animals.
© Eelco Schilder


Toques do Caramulo "Retoques"
Own label, 2011

Velha Gaiteira "Velha Gaiteira"
Own label, 2011

www.myspace.com/toquesdocaramulo
www.velhagaiteira.com

Two new albums from Portugal, two interesting bands with a, for many people, non cliché Portuguese sound. The first band is called Toques do Caramulo and their album is called Retoques. A band that takes traditional songs and bring them into the 21st century. Without losing it’s original soul, this septet is doing a very nice job. It’s friendly folk songs easy going which brings the listener in a good mood. The nice vocals by Luis Fernandes are backed by fine percussion, flutes, accordion, violin and both acoustic and electric guitars but the music keeps its acoustic sound all the way. It brings the Northern Portuguese tradition back to life in a very nice way.
German CD Review The second band from Portugal is called Velha Gaiteira and this band brings music that is influenced from Beira Baixa, an area in central Portugal. This trio shows a totally different sound on this debut album than their Northern Portuguese colleagues. With gaita, percussion and vocals only they create a mystic and ancient sound full of mediaeval influences, nice dances, haunting female vocals, deep male voices and sometimes almost sacral harmony vocals. This album is not as accessible as the first CD reviewed in this review. You must be a lover of the gaita because it plays a central role in every composition and after half the album the trio starts repeating itself a bit, the same rhythms and melodic patterns return and I miss some new input. Nevertheless a nice first release with some great dances and songs, but I think this is a band that will grow in time and their second album will be a bit more balanced.
© Eelco Schilder


Various Artists "Swing Diskoteka"
Eastblok Music, 2011

Rotfront "Visafree"
Essay Recordings, 2011

Kasha Nasha "Ministry of Carnival"
Icub4t, 2011

www.rotfront.com
www.kashanasha.com

What would an episode of FolkWorld be without at least two nice danceable Balkanbeat or Russendisko albums? The first one in this review is called Swing Diskoteka and contains fifteen danceable and moody East-European influenced songs and tunes. Some tracks are only to be found on this album and the compilers did a very good job. I’m not always a fan of this kind of compilation albums, they often sound so much alike. But this one is of the better kind. With nice old fashioned rhythms and smooth remixes. No heavy beating this time but the more subtle kind of music, easy going and really relaxing. Modern and somehow timeless at the same side.
The second album comes from the band Rotfront and brings the more Russendisko orientated folk pop. This is the total opposite of the first album in this review. Predictable music, the same rhythms as on dozens of other albums in the same vein, almost always up-tempo, German and English mixed, brass and rock and always with funny voices somewhere and so called funny lyrics as well. This is a cliché album and it would have been really nice and funny if there weren’t so many other bands that create the same kind of music. I think the Russendisko hype needs a new fresh wind and some innovative souls who create something really new.
The third one is by the Dutch band Kasha Nasha. This album called Ministry of carnival is their debut album which is inspired by Klezmer, Russian, madness and sort like styles. The band is formed by clarinetist Gotfrid van Eck and he is joined by a violinist, accordionist, bassist and a drummer. Their album is one of the many in the stream of Balkan/Klezmer/Russen rock-beat releases and although very enjoyable, not that different than many of the others. Van Eck is a very good clarinetist and Ben Mathot knows how to put emotion in his violin play. But at the end Kasha Nasha is just another Dutch variation on a million times played theme.
© Eelco Schilder


Anders Larsson "Trallaren"
Nordic Tradition, 2011

trallaren.edicypages.com

The Swedish singer Anders Larsson is known by most people as one of the musicians from the band Svanevit. Strangely enough he is one of my favorite singers not because of his work with Svanevit (which I love as well) but because this one album he made with the group B.A.R.K. I had this album in my top five of best albums of 2000 and still consider this as an unknown masterpiece.[14] This band recorded one album only and I love his fantastic deep, warm vocals on it. Now his first solo album is released called Trallaren which is a Swedish way of singing a melody (lilting) at dance events. It’s a fascinating way of seeing the voice as an instrument and many Swedish bands have recorded one or two songs with Trallaren, but this is the first album with pure Trallaren music I know of. (probably some Swedish readers are about to send me titles from earlier albums with Trallaren music, please do contact me!) Nineteen traditional tunes are recorded and besides solo, he is joined on some tracks by guest musicians such as Emma Härdelin, Ulrika Gunnarsson, Lars Halvarsson and Maria Röjås. The result is an in intense album with melodic vocal art. It’s a real tribute to an old Swedish tradition and Larsson did a fantastic job recording this.
© Eelco Schilder


Siri Karlsson "Gran Fuego"
Flora Fauna, 2011

www.sirikarlsson.com

How happy I was the moment Maria Arnqvist contacted me to tell that she and her companion Cecilia Österholm have recorded a second album under their band name Siri Karlsson. Their debut album Mellan träden[38] is really one of the most beautiful albums of the past ten years and I was very curious to hear their new project. With an impressive bunch of guest musicians from the Swedish world of neo-folk-prog music Siri Karlsson surprised me with a totally new, impressive sound. Where I expected more of the melodic, dreamy peaceful music of the first album, they gave me bloody good prog-folk in the best Swedish tradition. The album starts friendly with Där allting börjar, a tune that is in the same vein as their debut album, but when I listen closely I already hear this bit dark edge. With the second track Sierra Nevada they make clear that their sound has involved a lot and that they don’t like predictable stuff. Fantastic fast and furious folk with electric guitars, beating percussion, organ and always this great combination of sax and nyckelharpa playing the main theme. This is a song that reminds me of top Swedish prog-folk bands such as Kebnekaise as they were on their first three albums and sort like. Even on the bit less explosive track Passageraren that follows they add so much power by just adding this great organ sound and strong percussion. And just when I’m about to get used to their new sound they take it all back to the acoustic basic elements and play a wonderful, small melody in Den gamle followed by a dreamy Lament. I’m very impressed by this new album, I love the fact that these two musicians dared to start a new adventure and just did what they liked to do. They now have released two albums which are both great and at the same time both for totally different moods. This second album proofs that Siri Karlsson is a duo with a creative mind playing wonderful music on a high level. I already was a fan after hearing their debut CD and I think I will be a fan for the next decades or at least as long as they keep making these great albums.
© Eelco Schilder


Terry Hanck "Look Out!"
Delta Groove, 2011

Rod Piazza and the Mighty Flyers "Almighty Dollar"
Delta Groove, 2011

JP Soars "More Bees with Honey"
Own label, 2011

Victor Wainwright & the Wild Roots "Lit Up!"
Wild Roots, 2011

www.terryhanck.net
www.themightyflyers.com
www.jpsoars.com
www.wildrootsrecords.com

A bunch of USA blues (more or less) albums, starting with saxophonist Terry Hanck with his new album Look out! Hanck started his first band over 40 years ago and he has been active in music ever since. He played with Elvin Bishop for over ten years and in the late eighties he decided to start a solo career. This new album contains thirteen new recordings with fine blues/jazz rock. Backed by his band including guitars, bass, drums, piano. Organ and much more, Hanck shows that he still knows how to rock. He keeps his music in the tradition of the blues/jazz rock of the past decades with a nice raw edge. This is sorrow less music for the better summer days.
The second album comes from Rod Piazza and the Mighty Flyers. Their new album called Almighty dollar, goes on in the same rocking style as the Terry Hanck record. Rod Piazza recorded his first song in 1967 and an impressive discography followed. This new album shows his fabulous harmonica play, his friendly vocals and his quality to interpret ate the blues (rock) in his own, personal style. Another fine album by a veteran musician.
The third album is recorded by singer and guitarist JP Soars. And again a fine album with blues, soul and rock mixed. It’s only his second album, but Soars sounds like a professional musician who has been in the business for years. I love the opening track More bees with honey which sounds like an classic soul song with great saxophones and backings. What follows is a great mixture of rocking guitars, electric blues and fine, soulful ballads (including the sound of the Hammond organ). As the earlier reviewed albums, a CD which brings people in a good mood. But this one has just these small extra thing that makes it more remarkable and different.
The fourth and last album comes from singer and pianist Victor Wainwright and the Wild Roots. I liked his former album a lot,[41] and it’s like this amazing musician continues where the debut album ended. Wainwright amazes me again with an energetic mix of blues, rock, folk, jazz and so many other styles. Where the other two artists I wrote about in this review stay closer to the better known traditional ways of playing, Wainwright gives it full speed and creates, together with his fine band, a full and rich sound that makes me want to move my body and enjoy it with my eyes closed at the same time. You got to love this!
© Eelco Schilder


Aulaga Folk "A menos cuarto"
Armando Records, 2011

German CD Review

www.aulagafolk.es

Aulaga is a Spanish folk Group from the Extremadura region. Founded in 1999, this is the groups third release. The nine band members mix traditional regional music with rock and general folk influenced music. This double CD and DVD set is a beautiful way to discover the fine folk-rock music of Extremadura both audible and visually. The main ingredients of their music is the deep male vocals, the more earthy female vocals, the sound of the flutes, violin, accordion and really nice percussion that shows influences from both the Southern and the Northern parts of the country. Which is, seen the geographical position of Extremadura, actually very logical. The musicians show on this CD that they choose the more popular approach, no long traditional/acoustic parts, but just solid and accessible folk-rock with lots of traditional elements. On the second CD you can even hear some African influences, nicely blend with the sound of the band. The DVD shows a bonus track, a video and a documentary which gives a nice picture of the way the group works and of its popularity in their region. This three disc set is a very nice release with nice folk-rock music and including an interesting extra DVD to complete the whole music experience.
© Eelco Schilder


Kate & Anna McGarrigle "Tell My Sister"
Nonesuch, 2011

www.mcgarrigles.com

When you read my reviews regularly on Folkworld, you know I think most albums are nice, some are great, others are fascinating, a few are terrible and now and then an album passes by that might become a part of my life for the next decades. When I look back at the almost four decades, which lay behind me and think of what music played and plays a main role in my life, I can only come to one conclusion; the music of Kate and Anna McGarrigle. Since the release of Dancer with Bruised Knees, I was five years old then, their music has always been around. I think my father told me the story ten times, how he bought their Bruised Knees album in an Amsterdam record shop, played it at home, jumped on his bike again to buy their first album as well. Through my childhood, adolescent years, young adult and now a father with two young children, I just have to listen. I often wondered what it is that makes their songs so special for me. It is the beautiful vocals, the pure songwriting and somehow their music feels like coming home. Last January Kate died at the age of 63 and with her we lost a great singer and fabulous songwriter. Reason enough to re-release their first two albums in a beautiful 3-CD set. On this set you find their two first albums remastered and one with unreleased demos from known songs, but also a few unknown pearls that somehow never made it to one of their records. This re-release contains music that I consider as milestones in the history of Canadian music, but actually, to my very subjective opinion, in the history of singer-songwriting in general. Many of their songs are also sung by others, but hearing the sisters sing it themselves does make a difference, it’s timeless. I interviewed many great artists, had fun, got amazed by their stories. But since my very first article for a Dutch folk magazine, almost 12 years ago, I had one wish; interviewing Kate and Anna McGarrigle at least once in my life. I never had the chance, or no, my shyness (which normally doesn’t bother me much) stopped me from creating the chance. While listening, like hundred times before, to their debut album, I feel really stupid about that and I think it is one of the very very few things I regret I didn’t do. Now it’s time you stop reading this totally ‘objective’ review and you start cycling to the nearest record shop to buy this three disc album and their others as well.
© Eelco Schilder


Baba Zula "Gecekondu"
Essay Recordings, 2011

German CD Review

www.babazula.com

Baba Zula is a Turkish folk-rock band that became quite popular the past ten years. Their fine mixture of traditional (Turkish) elements and rock music with an edge of psych music resulted in a bunch of fine albums in the past. On these new eleven recordings the band works with the great Cem Yildiz on Cura, Titi Robin on guitar and bouzouki and many others. The album has a slow start with Abdülcanbaz, a nice track but I miss the fire from earlier outputs. It takes a while before the album get’s really started. Slowly the musicians build towards a few beautiful oriental psych-roots tracks and danceable tunes. Longer tracks with a bit more heavy sound are suiting the band very well. Baba Zula tries new paths and during the eleven tracks slowly starts impressing the reviewer.
© Eelco Schilder


Gabriel Fliflet "Åresong"
Norcd, 2011

Article: Gabriel Fliflet - Einfach, aber doch komplex

www.myspace.com/gabrielmusikk

Gabriel Fliflet is singer, accordionist and pianist who lives in Bergen, Norway. He recorded in several different projects and this is his latest solo album. This CD has twelve songs with lyrics by the Norwegian author Jon Fosse and music by Fliflet himself. Together with four other musicians on instruments such as trumpet, Hardanger fiddle, electric guitar and double bass, Fliflet created a pure and honest album with songs about the wind, the sea, the moon, love and about not knowing. Each song has its own atmosphere with mostly a soberly arranged acoustic sound and Fliflet singing out of his heart. Impressive how uncomplicated music can be, impressive how Fliflet gives his own identity to the album and with this he made a very nice, personal document.
© Eelco Schilder


Bluesin’ the Groove "Let’s Get High"
Jawo, 2011

Ochsenbauer meets Sokal "Bass Player’s Delight"
Jawo, 2011

Leo Konitz & Walter Lang Trio "Someone to watch over me"
Jawo, 2011

Alex Jung Quartet & Johannes Enders
"Love and the Inception"
Jawo, 2011

www.tommyschneller.com
www.harrysokal.com
www.ochsenbauer-bass.de
www.walterlang.de
www.alexjung.info

The past two years I have reviewed a lot of albums which were released on the German Jawo label and each time I got amazed by the quality of music this label publishes.[43][44] It’s not a folk label, the focus is on jazz, blues and sort likes. Four new albums are released and I will introduce them to you in this review. The first one is by a project band called Bluesin’ the Groove which brings together the saxophonist Tommy Schneller, pianist Christian Rannenberg and blues drummer Alex Lex. The trio plays a mixture of original material and compositions by legendary names such as Johnny “guitar” Watson and Percy Mayfield. The trio is at its best in the instrumental tracks, in those you can hear the really strong play by Tommy Schneller, who is an excellent saxophonist. The piano has a more common sound and the drummer knows what blues is, but I think Lex is only at the beginning of his career, this album shows how big he can get in future. A fine album with easy going blues music by a fantastic sax player, a nice pianist and a very talented drummer.
The second album on the Jawo label comes from Ochsenbauer meets Sokal and is called Bass player’s delight. It’s a meeting between bass player Johannes Ochsenbauer and saxophonist Harry Sokal. The duo is backed by Titzian Jost on piano and Michael Keul on drums. Ochsenbauer is a young and great bass player and his meeting on this album with the fantastic saxophonist Harry Sokal is a real treasure. This album is full of passionate jazz music of high quality. Sokal amazes with his melodic and virtuosic style, Ochsenbauer shows his quality as bass player although I would have loved to hear him play a bit more on the forefront now and then and then this great drummer and pianist. This album has all the ingredients to become a major jazz album. Well chosen material and four top musicians who play with their heart and soul, just wonderful!
The Lee Konitz and Walter Lang trio continues the high quality of the Ochsenbauer meets Sokal album, but with a more introvert and somehow traditional sounding jazz. On their new album Someone to watch over me, they play their interpretations of classical tunes such as the title song Someone to watch over me, Autumn leaves and the way you like tonight. The legendary Lee Konitz brings peace in mind with his beautiful, melodic and subtle play on his alto saxophone. While Walter Lang brings a more vivid touch to the music with his grand piano play. Thomas Markusson on bass and Sebastian Merk on drums do the rest, building a solid base for Konitz and Lang’s midnight-jazz music. Again an album with strong jazz music, but very different in style and atmosphere than the other jazz album in this review, but at least as good as that one.
The fourth and last album in this review comes from the Alex Jung Quartet & Johannes Enders. Guitarist Jung wrote the piece Love and the inception and asked saxophonist Johannes Enders to join his quartet for this more experimental jazz project. From the first moment the quartet and Enders got my attention. Jung shows with this album to be a great composer and musician and Enders is a great saxophonist who loves both the sweet and the rough kind of playing. This album brings it all together, fine melodic late night jazz with improvised, creative outbursts of energy. Five top musicians create a visual world of images with their professional music and passion for the project. Again a very nice Jawo production, hopefully many more to come!
© Eelco Schilder


Downloads, Samplers, EP's & Demo CD's

www.thebeermats.com

The BeerMats "Absent Friends" (Download Single, 2011). Irish folk balladeers The BeerMats'[41] new single with all proceeds in aid of Console - Living With Suicide. Download from iTunes.

www.elizagilkyson.com

Eliza Gilkyson "Roses at the End of Time" (Red House Records, 2011). Customary high quality songwriting and delivery from the US singer/songwriter.[36] Relaxing or rocking Americana, you name it, about a world which is poised on the edge of moral, economic and environmental bankruptcy. Check her new album out, but also her old ones.[29][33][35][36]

www.myspace.com/jaymenon

Jay Menon "Through My Eyes" (CD, 2011). When I'm not sticking knives and forks in people's eyes, I still love to sing... British-Indian eye surgeon und musician Jay Menon recorded a few of his songs, profits will go to the International Glaucoma Association dedicated to eradicating blindness from glaucoma.

www.voxpop.demon.co.uk

Pressgang "This Will Be" (Download Single, 2011). British punk folkers Pressgang[43] have just released a download single as a fundraiser for Amnesty International. The tune is the Breton "Son ar Chistr", which German and Dutch people know as "Was wollen wir trinken" by agit pop band bots.[45] The lyrics reflect the work that Amnesty has been doing for the last 50 years, supporting political prisoners and free speech. You can download the single from itunes or CDBaby.

www.davidrovics.com

David Rovics "Ballad of a Dung Beetle", "Ten New Songs" (Download Albums, 2011). The topical US singer/songwriter David Rovics[44] is announcing two full-length recordings of original songs, available exclusively to download (for free or by donation). "Ballad of a Dung Beetle" is a 14-song recording of children's songs. Just go to www.davidrovics.com/kids and click on the picture of the dung beetle. "Ten New Songs" is for the grownups. Just go to www.davidrovics.com, click on the "Download Big Red Sessions" link and follow the instructions.

www.gstevensluthier.co.uk

George Stevens "3 Tunes" (EP, 2011). Self-composed tunes by an English luthier who is mad about rhythm (played on bouzouki and border pipes by other craftsmen): an oriental herding song, an English border march (call it a mazurka or something) and a bouzouki rhythm kicking along. There soon will be a full album, that could be exciting.

www.haylaweisz.com

Hayla Weisz "That Sucks" (EP, 2010). Multi-layered, bulky pop music from Jerusalem; Hayla's second EP with two songs which don't suck at all. Promising snitches, so will there ever be a full length album?

www.bobdylan.com

Various Artists "A Nod to Bob 2" (Red House Records, 2011). Part 2 of Red House Records paying homage to Bob Dylan.[45] 16 tracks featuring their artist rooster such as Eliza Gilkyson (see above), John Gorka and Lucy Kaplansky,[43] Pieta Brown,[42] Meg Hutchinson,[44] ...



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