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Posts Tagged ‘Folk Rock

Untouched and golden things, courtesy of The Lonely Forest, 2:54, Paradise, Dog Is Dead and Discopolis

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With every new year, comes fresh musical talent; artists and bands which remain untouched and uncharted, with all the gleam of future promise. Some are destined to remain in their chrysalis prison, forever dreaming of those first few moments of taking flight but for some reason never quite fulfilling their potential. Others however cannot be contained and are destined from stage one to achieve bright and beautiful things; let me introduce: The Lonely Forest, 2:54, Paradise, Dog Is Dead and Discopolis.




Please enjoy and support these great new talents for 2012.


shelleyhanveywriter 🙂


Written by shelleyhanveywriter

January 17, 2012 at 4:09 pm

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“Please don’t bungee jump or ignore a strange lump”…Lisa Hannigan @LisaHBand returns with more light-hearted lyrical mastery on second album ‘Passenger’

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Lisa Hannigan returns with more light-hearted, yet fully-formed lyrical mastery on second album, ‘Passenger.’ The 10-track piece (11-track via iTunes) was recorded in just one week during a creative pilgrimage to a slightly windswept North Wales in early 2011.

1. ‘Home’

Word is very quickly spreading about the album’s opening track and it is, I’m sure, going to be a strong contender for a future single. In just the same way as ‘Ocean and a Rock’ set debut album ‘Sea Sew’ ‘s tone perfectly and delicately, so too does ‘Home.’ The track opens to a sweeping and orchestral swell, with visions of Hannigan setting sail from her native Ireland over to America to begin her last tour.  This time however, she’s not alone on her journey and speaks about the fact that her and her fellow traveller will not be coming back anytime soon, their possessions being merely those that they stand up in. Hannigan talks of sewing or pinning people and places to her, so that she might carry them around with her, for better or for worse; “…And oh, every promise that we broke, is sewn to our clothes, now we are pinned to the wind I suppose.” I like the concept of never being able to escape from your actions and words, despite how far you might travel or who you might be travelling with. I’ve played this track several times already and it is fast becoming one of my most fond favourites.

2. ‘A Sail’

This is the most serene of all the tracks on the album, yet still manages to remain upbeat with double bass and fiddle accompaniment. Hannigan describes her sound as “plinky plonk rock” which will make perfect sense upon listening to this track. It is hard to imagine a more perfect sound to accompany such rousing and rich string instruments than that of Hannigan’s voice and I am yet to hear a contender to her title of Ireland’s favourite folk queen.

3. ‘Knots’

‘Knots’ was the first single to be released from the album and was accompanied by a quirky and colourful video, involving Hannigan being doused with spray paint whilst performing the track with just her ukulele and dwindling pride. It is all good natured fun however and no Hannigans were injured during production. This track allows her to showcase her technical proficiency in multiple pitches and impressive skills on the wonderful ukulele, as she recalls what appears to be the morning after a particularly hazy yet heavenly night before. She sits on a stoop with her high heels and her old dress, next to a companion whom she claims to have lost herself in, haven’t we all after a few too many Schnapps.

4. ‘What’ll I Do’

I’ve commented in previous reviews as to the wonder of Hannigan’s live band accompaniment. Gavin Glass and Shane Fitzsimons are just two of the multi-talented members of Hannigan’s ensemble and the chemistry and timing between the players is truly something to behold in a live setting. This punchy number will be particularly special when performed on Hannigan’s upcoming cathedral tour of the UK; I will be reviewing the Salford date at St Philips, so I am presently counting down the days. The track speaks about how every day things can seem difficult or challenging when a particular person is not around, ” …What’ll I do now that you’re gone, my boat won’t row, my bus doesn’t come.” Such occurences, of course, being purely circumstantial as opposed to an unfortunate twist of romantic fate, yet I enjoy the sentiment very much. Hannigan’s music often focuses on long distance relationships and the feeling of missing someone or something back home; this album continues the tradition, with imagery such as, “I have the fingers, you’ve got the thumb” and unless you happen to be of the feline persuasion, we all know the benefits of opposable thumbs.

5. ‘O Sleep’ featuring Ray LaMontagne

We are treated to a softer tone in LaMontagne‘s vocals on this delicate and dreamy track, a tone which compliments that of Hannigan quite pleasingly; there could only ever be one perfectly complementary vocal for Hannigan in my eyes and that shall forever remain, the equally as haunting, Damien RiceLaMontagne, on this occasion however, fits the bill most sufficiently and it would be both unfair and fruitless to compare the two artists.

6. ‘Paper House’

This is one of my favourite tracks from the album, due largely to its storytelling quality and to the unmistakeably Irish lilt in Hannigan’s voice. The track focuses on a past relationship which blossomed in a paper house on the edge of Dublin, the foundations I’m guessing being purely metaphorical, unless the Taoiseach has come up with a novel, yet meteorologically-flawed solution to getting Ireland’s upwardly-mobile on the property ladder.  The protagonists of the story are young, having but each other and the theme of temporary bliss appears to be recurrent here. I should note that this implied theme never comes across as cynicism, which I believe is once again a result of Hannigan’s pure and eternally-hopeful take on modern folk.

7. ‘Little Bird’

This beautifully composed track serves as a soft dedication to an old friend or perhaps former partner, touching upon past harsh words that had been shared, yet acknowledging the fondness that still remained. Both parties left the friendship or union equally inspired by the other, yet somehow still experience the same feelings of loneliness, perhaps a creative loneliness or loss of appetite  for a passion which they once felt. Hannigan has never publicly stated that her songwriting is particularly autobiographical, but her lyrics would certainly seem to echo or mirror events and relationships which she could quite realistically have experienced…draw your own conclusions with this one.

8. ‘Passenger’

I first heard this track performed live on Hannigan’s last tour of the UK. ‘Passenger’  has the most traditional Irish folk sound on the album, which is probably why I can’t help but deem it to be my favourite. Hannigan namechecks several US towns and cities which she visited whilst writing this track and the album in its entirety. As she travels from place to place, the landscape may change but the focus of her mind and heart does not: that certain someone back home. The track echoes debut album favourites, ‘Venn Diagram’ and ‘Ocean and a Rock’ in their heartfelt dedication and emotional longing, but Hannigan again manages to infuse a dash of comedy to the proceedings, as only she can. Definitely one of the stand-out tracks on the album for me.

9. ‘Safe Travels (Don’t Die)’

I fell in love with this track on the first listen. Hannigan successfully delivers a combination of cute comedy and  poignant references in this quirky take on the traditional goodbye. Hannigan’s voice has a genuine and warm quality, revealing even the most carefully hidden of lyrical messages. My favourite lines include, “please don’t bungee jump, or ignore a strange lump” and “and I would be sorry if due to your hurry, you were hit by a lorry.” This will be a joy to listen to at a live show and would make a great closing track to lighten the mood post-show.

10. ‘Nowhere To Go’

Hannigan’s voice is the shining star of this track for me; it almost feels formulaic to talk about a theme or possible inspiration, such is the emotive power of Hannigan’s dazzling vocal narration. Luckily however for lovers of mathematics everywhere, I shall stick to my aforementioned formula, as the theme of this track resonates quite strongly with me. Hannigan speaks about your heart holding more than your hand and describes someone as wearing, “…so many hearts on your sleeve.” The subject of the track never has nowhere to go and what they feel inside far outweighs their material or physical possession. Imaginative Writing graduate that I am, I read this track to be a metaphor for the universal minefield that is, the modern relationship: the longing to feel any sort of connection or common ground which would seem to validate the authenticity of that relationship and the vicious circle that is consequently summoned – the temporary relief that the discovery of a connection administers and the subconscious fear that what you actually feel (the connection) is what you choose to feel, rather than what you truly possess in the cold light of day. Or it could be about being bored on a Saturday night because all of your mates have gone out and you’re skint…

Tickets for Lisa Hannigan’s upcoming UK tour can be purchased via the link below: / /

shelleyhanveywriter 🙂

Written by shelleyhanveywriter

October 20, 2011 at 5:43 pm

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From Bombay to Louisiana, via Manchester; my top music picks of the week

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In honour of my favourite season: that of the summer holiday,  I have compiled a selection of hot and hazy tracks worthy of inclusion in any First Class music lounge…so sit back,  put on your fuzzy felt eye mask and allow yourself to be whisked away from Bombay to Louisiana, via Manchester.

Bombay Bicycle Club, Shuffle

A Different Kind of Fix‘ is the upcoming third album from London-based alternative folk-rock band Bombay Bicycle Club. ‘Shuffle is the first track to be released from the album, which follows on August 29th, 2011. Following the acoustic and accolade-laden offering of second album, ‘Flaws‘, the four-piece have returned to their electric-stringed roots, whilst never straying too far from their trademark blissful electronic- folk leanings. The soaring and atmospheric synth sounds of ‘Shuffle‘ are the perfect soundtrack to a lazy day on a sundrenched beach, or indeed a lazy afternoon indoors after getting drenched down your local high street…this is the ‘great British summer’ after all.

Michelle Branch, Loud Music

My love for Michelle Branch all started in Season 6, Episode 8 of one of my favourite TV series, ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer‘. Branch makes an appearance at the end of the highly emotive episode, to perform her track ‘Goodbye to You‘ as Giles leaves for England, Tara leaves Willow and Buffy leaves her senses, embarking on a doomed affair with resident badboy vamp Spike. I loved the track and Branch’s raspy and powerful country-tinged vocals, so I set about researching the artist and have never looked back. After two top selling albums, ‘The Spirit Room‘ and ‘Hotel Paper‘, Branch moved in a more defined country direction to form a duo with friend and fellow musician, Jessica Harp; The Wreckers. But now, fresh from putting down roots both family and home, she is back with the perfect summertime roadtrip track ‘Loud Music.’

The track documents the history of a relationship, starting with the first meeting and going through all of the highs and occasional lows, all the while using artists such as Hendrix and Zeppelin as flags or pinpoints throughout the narrative. Branch has always managed to successfully translate her great love of music through her own lyrics and regularly cites her influences through this medium. So if a destination only reachable via a trip down a few dusty highways is more your idea of a perfect holiday, then be sure to wind the windows down and blast out this perfect slice of American pop-rock.

The Travelling Band, Sundial

I recently reviewed Friends of Mine Festival for and had the pleasure of catching a performance by The Travelling Band whilst I was there. Cited as the best folk band to emerge from Manchester, the five-piece performed their upcoming single ‘Sundial‘ which was definitely a hit with the somewhat windswept and watery crowd. The orchestral splendour of this track cannot be underestimated and is truly addictive; I think this band will be filling headline slots on the folk circuit very soon. It’s nice to see some local folkies flying the flag for the genre up North.

Patrick Wolf, House

Patrick Wolf intrigues me; he is an intriguing character, one that you could listen to and watch for hours almost as if in a daze. His vocals intrigue me; the depth of his tone commands that you listen and his lyrics command that you hear. He cites poets and speaks romantic declarations and all of this set against an epic and enticing melody. I’ve said enough, I implore you listen and you start with ‘House.’

Friendly Fires, Hawaiian Air

Pala‘ is the recently released second album from alternative dance trio, Friendly Fires. ‘Hawaiian Air‘ is the second track to be released from the album. This band just keep going from strength to strength and have just this week released more dates on their biggest headlining tour of the UK, coming in the autumn. With its holiday flight-inspired music video, ‘Hawaiian Air‘ is all set to be the scorching hit of the summer radio waves. The rest of the album is just as good I might add, so I’d definitely recommend that it feature on your holiday pool-side playlist.

Britney Spears, I Wanna Go

Ah, Britney. Where do I start…well, I’m a huge fan and have loved every track that the Louisiana popstrel has ever released so I’m just putting it out there – if you’re looking for an unbiased review of the artist, scroll up and scroll out! ‘I Wanna Go‘ is genuinely one of my favourites off Spears’ new album ‘Femme Fatale‘, my other pop pick being the Will.I.Am penned track ‘Big Fat Bass.’ The video to accompany this track has just been released on Spears’ official website and on YouTube/Vevo and is a lot of fun. I think Spears has reached the point – perhaps understandably – were she just wants to enjoy herself in her career and this translates in her work; the videos aren’t meant to be groundbreaking, they’re meant to highlight the light-hearted, cheeky and self-depracating character of the performer and that they do. The new album is a dancer’s dream, filled with huge basslines, biting beats and catchy choruses. I’ve just secured myself tickets to see Spears in Manchester on her upcoming UK Tour…needless to say, I am just a little excited!

That’s all for now, happy holidays! 🙂

Friends of Mine Festival 2011 – review now up on eFestivals

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The first ever Friends of Mine Festival took place last weekend, at Capesthorne Hall in Macclesfield, Cheshire.

With a line-up of artists ranging from Badly Drawn Boy, The Cribs, The Charlatans, The Fall, Buzzcocks and Black Lips; the weekend promised to deliver a good mix of new music, fresh talent and a few vintage indie favourites.

I was on reviewing duties for eFestivals and you can read my full review here:

For photos, taken by my friend Zoe Lawson, please visit here:

Thank you,

shelleyhanveywriter 🙂

56th Ivor Novello awards – nominations just released and common sense has prevailed

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The nominations for the 56th Ivor Novello awards have been released today and common sense appears to have been restored. After Lily Allen’s triple win last year, I found myself uttering my trademark catchphrase of late; “I’m lost, if I’m honest?!” There will no doubt be countless fans of Allen who agreed wholeheartedly with the judges’ choices, but I unfortunately was not one of them.

The Ivors are presented annually:

to celebrate, honour and reward excellence in British music writing. The awards either celebrate artistic excellence in a specific work, exceptional performance figures in the award year or recognise the outstanding achievements of a particular songwriter or composer throughout their career.

There are seven categories in total, as well as a number of special prizes to be announced on the night (May 19th, 2011 at London’s Grosvenor House), that include: ‘International Achievement‘, Ivors Inspiration Award‘, ‘Outstanding Songwriter/s of the Year‘ and ‘Lifetime Achievement.’ The top songwriting gongs are:

Best Song Musically and Lyrically(2010 Winner – Lily Allen, ‘The Fear‘)

The nominations are:

Villagers, ‘Becoming a Jackal‘, written by O’Brien, published by Domino Publishing Company.

Everything Everything, ‘MY KZ, UR BF‘, written by Higgs, Pritchard, Robertshaw and Spearman, published by Universal Music Publishing.

Foals, ‘Spanish Sahara‘, written by Bevan, Congreave, Gervers, Philippakis and Smith, published by Universal Music Publishing.

‘Best Contemporary Song’ (2010 Winner – Bat for Lashes, ‘Daniel‘)

The nominations are:

The xx,Islands‘, written by Croft, Qureshi, Sim and Smith, published by Universal.

Katy B,Katy on a Mission‘, written by Benga, Katy B and Geeneus, published by EMI.

Tinie Tempah, ‘Pass Out‘, written by McKenzie, Okogwu and Williams, published by EMI/Stellar Songs Ltd.

Album Award‘ (2010 Winner – Paolo Nutini, ‘Sunny Side Up‘)

The nominations are:

Bombay Bicycle Club, ‘Flaws, written by Jack Steadman, published by Imagem Music.

Everything Everything, ‘Man Alive‘, written by Higgs, Pritchard, Robertshaw and Spearman, published by Universal.

Plan B, ‘The Defamation of Strickland Banks‘, written by Benjamin Drew, published by Universal.

For more information on the other award categories, please visit

I have a  few favourites amongst these and it is very pleasing to see a bit of folk-rock included in the proceedings; Villagers and Bombay Bicycle Club would be my top choices, so I shall have everything crossed for Conor and the boys on the night itself.

That is all 🙂

The stuff of dreams; Lisa Hannigan and Richard Hawley live

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Lisa Hannigan; performing in a church, in Dingle, County Kerry. To me, this is merely the stuff of dreams; to our western Irish friends this is quite the reality, as acclaimed live music show ‘Other Voices’ continues to achieve great things on RTE Television…if only the channel could be included somewhere on the seemingly endless array of Sky TV packages. I’d gladly trade it for Sky Atlantic.

Both Hannigan and Dingle have a special place in my shamrock-shaped heart, so to stumble across this Christmastime recording this morning was a pure delight. I am also a great admirer of the captivating Richard Hawley and you will see why when you watch the two clips below. Never was there a more apt track for him to perform than ‘Hushabye Mountain‘; you will no doubt recall the song best from the children’s classic feature film ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’, were it was performed rather poignantly by the equally wonderful Dick Van Dyke. I’ve always loved the song and used to sing it to my sister when she was little, though I had to fluff a few of the lyrics because I was around ten at the time and couldn’t remember them all. It has such fairytale connotations and literally lulls you to sleep; in a good way!

The previous blog piece I wrote was about another of my favourite songs, ‘Moon River‘, which Hannigan and Hawley perform here just magically…if I’m able to pre-book, I’d like to request a live rendition of this very performance at the pearly gates when my time on this mortal plane is completed. Hopefully this is in many, many years to come as I actually have a couple of years on Hannigan and wouldn’t wish any harm to come to one hair on her beautiful Irish head.

shelleyhanveywriter 🙂

Written by shelleyhanveywriter

March 29, 2011 at 11:18 am

Scottish sass from the elliptic-eyed entertainer: album review of Amy Macdonald’s ‘A Curious Thing’

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Musically speaking, the only thing I love more than discovering a new artist or band, is discovering an already established artist or band, that I’ve heard some  tracks by but never that one glass slipper of a song that made me sit up and pay attention. I did just that a few weeks ago when I first heard ‘This Pretty Face’ by Amy Macdonald and now I’m very happy to report, that I’m a fully fledged Macdonald fan…though I just need to get mini-me Tracy Barlow out of my head when I pronounce her name out loud.

Amy Macdonald is a 23-year-old singer songwriter from Dunbartonshire, Scotland; producing soft rock and pop tracks as if her mind were a veritable conveyor belt of creativity and musical craftsmanship. Her voice, unsurprisingly and perhaps fittingly in this autotuned age, is her USP; coming somewhere between Dolores O’Riordan of The Cranberries and a deeper-toned, rock-edged Sharleen Spiteri. The guitar is Macdonald’s weapon of choice and she uses it with skill and finesse, as she attacks her tracks with passion and prose, seldom found in such a young performer.

You might be familiar with Macdonald’s first album and most successful single of the same name, ‘This Is the Life’, released in 2007, with the album selling 3 million copies  to date. She has since achieved considerable success in Europe and released her second album ‘A Curious Thing’ in March, 2010. This record has more soft, almost stadium rock leanings than the former; as Macdonald recounts past friendships, past acquaintances and the past perfect. She talks about staying true to herself, about looking beyond the superficial and ponders where her music will take her in ten years time; understandable musings at the sophomore stage you might say, but I think that there is more to this Scottish sensation than an easy analogy; she appears to be a genuine and down to earth sort, wanting only to write music and lyrics which people enjoy and preferring to shun the celebrity parties and the high gloss temptations. It was this likeable demeanour, as well as the aforementioned ‘This Pretty Face’ track, which brought me to Macdonald’s door and I’ve not stopped knocking just yet.

Kicking off the twelve-strong set with the first release from the album, ‘Don’t Tell Me That It’s Over’, Macdonald gives a rich and empowering soft rock vocal performance, she sounds in control and spirited as she states that (it) ‘isn’t over till the song is sung’; see previous comment on the Scottish sass. I’ve always been particularly struck by Macdonald’s vocal tone, sounding more Irish in origin I think, than her Scottish roots. Perhaps I am just hearing the unmistakable Celtic influences coming through. Either way, it produces a richness and warmth to her contralto range which I think suits the soft rock-pop genre perfectly. Next up is second single ‘Spark’ which is probably my favourite off the album. With its strong guitar hooks and theme of reinvention, the track can’t help but invigorate the listener as Macdonald likens herself to ‘an astronaut in the sky/the light in the dark/the match, the spark’; she is speaking about feeling buoyant, brand new and ready for whatever comes her way. Certainly no ‘O’ by Damian Rice, I think you’ll agree.

‘No Roots’ gives the first opportunity to kick back and bathe in a soft rock ballad, but don’t be fooled as after just a few bars Macdonald builds up to a dreamy acoustic guitar sequence, resulting in yet more classic electric-stringed rock sounds. You could liken the instrumentation on this track to the seasons of the heart or the stages of a common relationship; starting slow and steady with maximum control, building in intensity and passion, taking in various sights and sounds as memories are created and then finally establishing the very roots that she said were lacking in the track’s title. ‘Love Love’ comes next which was the fourth single release from the record. This is an upbeat rock-pop track which caused me to have a particularly random musical connection. With its catchy hook, addictive nature and almost guilty-pleasured fun quality, this track put me in mind of Status Quo. Yes, as I say, random. I think in truth this is a mere recollection of many wonderful weekend nights dancing to ‘Rocking All Over The World’ with my late Nan. My older brother fancied himself to be a DJ at the age of 8 or 9 and had the decks, the microphone, the whole shebang. Nan would babysit us two and my other older brother and our night would consist of watching James Bond films, eating Stix crisps and Skippy bars and then getting down to the grooves of The Quo. Whenever I remember such times I feel that lovely pull of nostalgia and a sense of being really happy in that moment. I could never thank Francis Rossi enough…but back to the artist in question; ‘Love Love’ evokes similar connotations for me, as Macdonald ponders how to express her feelings to that special someone and why her idealised version of romantic events never come true…all against a bouncy electric-dreamed backdrop.

‘An Ordinary Life’ was written after Macdonald stumbled in to a showbiz party in Glasgow, hosted by fellow Scot Gerard Butler. Macdonald recalls seeing men and women fawn over the Hollywood A lister and wondered what his life was like behind the scenes, the cameras and out of the media glare; ‘what makes you happy, what makes you sad.’ Again, Macdonald states that she doesn’t care about the camera or the lights and almost seems to feel sorry for him and his existance…I’m with her on one score, I feel sorry for his dialect coach who has surely been run out of town after the pathetic excuse for an Irish accent he displayed in feature film ‘PS, I Love You.’ Come to think of it, I can’t recall an accent he actually does well, except perhaps his own, and even then I’m a little suspicious. ‘My Only One’ is a tender acoustic ballad dedicated to someone in the spotlight, who has the whole world looking at them and Macdonald is urging them to stand tall and keep true to themselves; perhaps her footballer fiancée? ‘What Happiness Means To Me’ is another poignant number, said to refer to their relationship and her love of those moments of stillness which can provoke such powerful and vivid memories. The track builds with orchestral accompaniment and would be the perfect soundtrack for a rousing and feel good feature film.

Whilst ‘This Pretty Face’ takes a literal pop at celebrity culture and superficiality, ‘Troubled Soul’ delivers a more delicate message. The track opens with vast electric strings, sounding not dissimilar to U2, as Macdonald takes the listener on a journey through expansive landscapes of peace and emotion, waiting for her ‘troubled soul’ to realise that her smile and eyes will be sticking around, so maybe they should too.

I think this is a brilliant second album, perhaps even more impressive than the first and I think that it deserves just such credit. I can only hope that the world Macdonald dreams of; one where people look beyond the surface and never let themselves forget where they came from, will one day become a reality.

Written by shelleyhanveywriter

January 7, 2011 at 5:22 pm

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