Sweet Baboo – ‘Home’

 

Copyrighted by Kirsten McTernan kirstenmcternan@yahoo.co.uk

Welsh treasure Sweet Baboo’s output has been a constant source of enjoyment in recent times, and thankfully a trend that looks set to continue.

Sweet Baboo, aka Stephen Black, is currently working on a new album, the follow-up to 2013’s sublime Ships, which, if a all goes to plan, should be out early next year. Recorded during these aforementioned sessions is new track ‘Home’, offering us a flavour of the new record perhaps. It is a woozy and piercingly tender romantic ode to all the comforts of ‘home’. His gentle, evocative and touching vocals drift sleepily along some light and airy organ notes; this is the very essence of homesickness and longing for the one you love. As one of the finest purveyors of ‘indie-pop’, his unequivocally deft ear for a sparkling melody and a gift for an evocative lyrical turn is beyond repute. ‘Home’ however, demonstrates an equally supreme prowess for a touching and tender ballad, and one that surely must stir something in even the cold hearted among us? ‘Home’ arrives ahead of a series of dates with fellow Moshi Moshi virtuoso The Pictish Trail, with the pair heading out on the road across the UK until the end of January 2015 (complete list of dates here).

You can stream ‘Home’ below or grab it as a free download here.

The Pictish Trail – ‘Wait Until’

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With the reissue of his albums Secret Soundz Vol. 1 & 2 on Moshi Moshi Records fast approaching on June 9, The Pictish Trail has kindly given us a first glance at Alan Cameron and Ben Cowie’s new video for Vol. 2 track, ‘Wait Until’.

‘Wait Until’, is a tender, slow building and softly blossoming hazy piece of ambient pop. Amid the hazy cloud of electronics and layers of vocals it is imbued with a weight of melancholy, sadness and loss that comes from being the first song that Lynch penned following the passing of his mother. A carefully tempered and marvelous piece of folk-influenced balladry and warm electronics. Although Vol. 1 has remained elusive (that’ll be put right on June 9th) Secret Soundz Vol. 2 is a magnificent record and was a particular favourite from last year on it’s original release. Hopefully this new found partnership with Moshi Moshi sees The Pictish Trail reach a far greater audience, and one befitting of his supremely creative talent.

Check out ‘Wait Until’ below. Eigg-cellent!

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The Pictish Trail – ‘I’ve Been Set Upon’

The Pictish Trail 2014

Last week The Pictish Trail aka Johnny Lynch, brought us news that he has signed with Moshi Moshi Records, who will give a full release to his two albums to date, Secret Soundz Vol. 1 & 2, on June 9th.

To celebrate the news, The Pictish Trail is giving away Vol. 2‘s tender piano number ‘I’ve Been Set Upon’ for free. Secret Soundz Vol. 2 was a particular favourite from last year. A magnificent record, concerned with with life’s ups and downs, with Lynch in quite a contemplative, often melancholic mood. In contrast, musically it’s a rather chipper melange of oddball sounds, sparks of frazzled electronics and instrumental breaks. All the news is not simply confined to releasing his past work however. Along with the full release of his two previous albums to date, Lynch confirmed that a brand new album will follow on Moshi Moshi in 2015. Great news indeed.

Secret Soundz Vol.1 & 2 will get their full Moshi Moshi release on double vinyl, double CD and download, on June 9th. You can listen to ‘I’ve Been Set Upon’ & ‘Michael Prochet’ below. Two excellent reminders of how great a record Secret Soundz Vol. 2 is.

BarryGruff’s Albums of the Year 2013

BarryGruff Albums of the year 2013

It’s that time of year once again when every music blog, website and magazine busy themselves with list making activities, and this blog is no different. Due to other commitments this year, especially the second half, it was rather difficult to keep on top of album reviews for the blog. Saying that, I reckon I’ve listened to as many records as any other year without finding the opportunity to share my thoughts on many of them.

Without further ado, here’s the BarryGruff ‘Albums of the Year’ for 2013.

25. Crystal Stilts – ‘Nature Noir’

24. Appelscal – ‘Dreaming In Key’

23. Trwbador – ‘Trwbador’

22. Mr. Huw – ‘Cariad Affaich’

21. King Krule – ‘6 Feet Beneath the Moon’

20. Channel Swimmer – ‘Alphabet’

19. Valeria June – ‘Pushin’ Against A Stone’

18. Veronica Falls – ‘Waiting for Something to Happen’

17. Arctic Monkeys – ‘AM’

16. Public Service Broadcasting – ‘Inform – Educate – Entertain’

15. Marika Hackman – ‘That Iron Taste’

A collection potent songs of enigmatic beauty, That Iron Taste is a gorgeous and charmed introduction to the delectable talents of Marika Hackman. It is done so with a striking vocal delivery, sounding both wise and beautiful, imbued with a telling level of touching emotion. She channels something beautifully rich and dramatic in telling these rather dark poetic stories. Absolutely no substandard happy-clappy folk pop nonsense on show here, on the contrary, her debut (mini) album is quite frankly a haunting, numinous experience.

[Stream on Spotify]

14. The Pictish Trail – ‘Secret Soundz, Volume 2’

Most likely the greatest album to be recorded solely in a caravan, Secret Soundz, Volume 2, is the second LP from The Pictish Trail, the alter ego of Scottish musician Johnny Lynch. Throughout the LP, he’s in a contemplative, often melancholic mood, concerned with life’s ups and downs. In contrast, musically Secret Sounds is rather chipper, spurred on by a glorious melange of oddball sounds, sparks of frazzled electronics and instrumental breaks. A magnificent record; warm, inviting and full of charming quirks from an exceptional talent.

13. Biggles Flys Again – ‘Remember Saturday’

Ireland produces plenty of great bands but where it falls short, of say our Welsh neighbors, is when it comes to indie bands of the weird and wonderful variety. In Biggles Flys Again, the moniker of Conor Deasy, we’ve got a domestic talent flying that flag. Biggles’ debut album Remember Saturday displays real talent for 3 minute pop gems. It is brimming with enchanting and whimsical good old fashioned pop songs, filled with sinuous melodies and organic arrangement. This is pop in the old fashioned sense, played by a band, and with an assured sense of style.

[Stream on Spotify]

12. Akala – ‘The Thieves Banquet’

Since the release of his debut in 2006, Akala has proven himself as one of the most articulate, intelligent and talented MC’s around, a trend continued on his fourth LP. A potent wave of righteous fury crashes through The Thieves Banquet. The world is beset by many problems, varied and plentiful they may be but Akala manages to take plenty of them head on. He remains passionate, focused and sharp when tackling everything from a sense of powerlessness to change things, to berating imperialism,  slavery, capitalists, 3rd world dictators and the clergy. A very fine record indeed.

[Stream on Spotify]

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BarryGruff’s Best Albums of 2013 so far……

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Due to various reasons I’ve been slacking with album reviews this year. That said, I’ve been listening to more than ever before but finding the time to pen some musings about some of them. In an attempt to redress this situation, here’s the ten albums that have impressed me the most so far this year.

10. Applescal – ‘Dreaming In Key’

Dreaming in Key is the third LP from young Dutch producer Applescal. Comprised of 11 tracks, the album isn’t too easy to pin down, finding itself in an ambiguous hinterland between electronica & techno; meaning it comes across as both dreamy and driving. It is also marked by the track’s complexity. Lavish layers of sound are met with impressive sound sequencing resulting in a warm, mellow vibe. Applescal is on top of his game.

[Stream on Spotify]

09. Trwbador – ‘Trwbador’

Mergers of folk and glitchy electronica can at times yield yawnsome middle of the road, chin stroking bollocks, but not so for Welsh duo Trwbador (aka Angharad Van Rijswijk & Owain Gwilym). Since forming in 2010, the pair have forged a distinctive and fruitful partnership for producing serenely beautiful, otherworldly music. It’s a trend carried through to their self-titled debut which sees warm folky sounds and whimsical vocals pinned to electronic glitches and loops. It contains a real sense of tenderness, twinkling and flickering simultaneously, it is both carefree and hypnotic. A magic and irresistibly beautiful album. This is absorbing music to get lost in.

[Stream on Spotify]

08. The Pictish Trail – ‘Secret Soundz, Volume 2’

Most likely the greatest album to be recorded in a caravan, Secret Soundz, Volume 2, is the second LP from The Pictish Trail, the alter ego of Scottish musician Johnny Lynch. Throughout the LP, he’s in a contemplative, often melancholic mood, concerned with life’s ups and downs. In contrast, musically Secret Sounds is rather chipper, spurred on by a glorious melange of oddball sounds, sparks of frazzled electronics and instrumental breaks. A magnificent record; warm, inviting and full of charming quirks from an exceptional talent.

07. Biggles Flys Again – ‘Remember Saturday’

Ireland certainly produces plenty of great bands, but for me, where it falls short of say our Welsh neighbours, is when it comes to indie bands of the weird and wonderful variety. But in Biggles Flys Again we’ve got a domestic talent expertly filling that void. Biggles Flys Again is the moniker of Dubliner Conor Deasy, who’s got a real talent for crafting 3 minute pop gems. Biggles’ debut album Remember Saturday is brimming with enchanting and whimsical good old fashioned pop songs, filled with sinuous melodies and organic arrangement. This is pop in the old fashioned sense, played by a band, and with an assured sense of style.

06. Sweet Baboo – ‘Ships’

Touted as a concept album about the sea, and yes, there are plenty of sea related moments but the songs are mainly concerned with love and relationships, usually with a bittersweet edge. Ships is a wry take on lost love and heartbreak, sliding from darkly funny to piercingly tender, this is one of the most perfectly crafted indie-pop you’re likely to hear all year. There are so many highlights, ’If I Died…..’ opens the album perfectly and features one of the best lyrics – “Daniel Johnston has written hundreds of great tunes, and I’ve got six, so I guess there’s some catching up to do” – and a delightful melody and irresistible swirls of brass. That’s followed the startlingly perky ‘The Morse Code For Love’ and ‘Let’s Go Swimming Wild’, shrouded in a woozy veil of melancholy before bursting into life with a brass-filled chorus that won’t leave your head anytime soon. The North Wales native is an idiosyncratic artist with an ear for a sparkling melody and a gift for an evocative lyrical turn.

[Stream on Spotify & Deezer]

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Album of the Week: The Pictish Trail – Secret Soundz, Volume 2

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Ever wondered what the greatest album to be recorded in a caravan was? Didn’t think so, but the latest effort from The Pictish Trail, Secret Soundz, Volume 2 has to be the front runner for this, the most unlikely of accolades (if there are others, answers on a postcard please).

Touted as the follow up to 2008’s Secret Soundz, we find The Pictish Trail, the alter ego of Scottish musician Johnny Lynch, in a contemplative, often meloncholic mood, concerned with life’s ups and downs. In contrast, musically Secret Sounds is rather chipper, spurred on by a glorious melange of oddball sounds, sparks of frazzled electronics and instrumental breaks.

Opening with the bright and bouncy, instrumental electro ‘Secret Sounds #6’, this introduction is a bit misleading, it’s with ‘Sequels’ that the album kicks into gear. The oddball sounds and electronics remain but what’s clear is, they are not the focus here. They are but a platform, with Lynch’s wonderful singing voice firmly in the foreground. The premise firmly established, the album gently cascades through folk-influenced balladry and warm electronics of ‘Of Course You Exist’, ‘The Handstand Crowd’ and ‘Michael Rocket’. It is a real bag of tricks but never losing of the balance between curiosity and melancholic it is interspersed with equal doses of both.

Although a sequel, one doesn’t need to need to be acquainted with it’s earlier sibling. As a stand alone record it is magnificent record; warm, inviting and full of charming quirks from an artist of genuine exceptional talent.

The Pictish Trail – ‘The Handstand Crowd’

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The Pictish Trail is set release his second album Secret Soundz, Volume 2 on January 21st through Fence Records, which he heads up with Kenny Anderson, aka King Creosote. 

The album was recorded in a caravan on the Scottish island of Eigg, and with the release date only around the corner the Scottish alt-folker has given us a sneaky glimpse at what we can expect. ‘The Handstand Crowd’ is a wonderfully melodic and beautiful lead single; the vocal is a tender and the folk-inflicted with a slight electronic haze. A fantastic lo-fi folk gem, just what you would expect from The Pictish Trail really.

Secret Soundz, Volume 2 is coming on the 21st January but before all that you can listen to ‘The Handstand Crowd’ and earlier single ‘Michael Rocket’ below.

The Pictish Trail – Of Course You Exist

Scottish alt-folker The Pictish Trail (aka Johnny Lynch) will be releasing his second album, ‘Secret Soundz Vol.2’, later in the year.

However, before all that, we have the Of Course You Exist EP, providing a glimpse into what we can expect from the forthcoming album. The oddball alt-folk sounds that make ‘Of Course You Exist’ are wonderful, warm and fuzzed up, with his scuzzed-up vocals straining to be heard against a backdrop of murky distorted electro beats and guitars. 

The EP is available in that most unusual of formats; an item of clothing. It is sewn into the seams of a t-shirt and a sweatshirt, as two different download bundles.

You can stream ‘Of Course You Exist’ and the equally great remix from Edinburgh-based FOUND below. 

The Pictish Trail – Of Course You Exist

Download: The Pictish Trail – Of Course You Exist (FNDRMX)