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Posts Tagged ‘The xx

The beautiful sound of Birdy @OfficialBirdy, flying high with her self-titled debut album

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Jasmine Van den Bogaerde (known by her stage name, Birdy) won a UK Open Mic competition in 2008, at the age of 12. She was promptly signed to 14th Floor Records, home to fellow pianist David Gray. What followed has been a slow yet steady rise to folk fame, engineered by one or more bright sparks at her record label, culminating in this month’s release of her debut self-titled album.

The covers album features tracks from such artists as Bon Iver, Phoenix, The xx and Fleet Foxes and it would be premature of any listener to conclude that Birdy’s interpretations cannot possibly live up to the originals. The focus of this record is on the voice and gives us a taste of the style of self-penned material that Birdy might release in the near future, she is still at high school, after all.


A stand out track for me would be Phoenix‘s‘1901.’ I was already a big fan of the French indie rock band and have never been of the mindset that a great thing can’t be replicated…that is, unless we’re talking about Snow Patrol’s ‘Run’, this should never, ever be attempted and that is precisely why I refuse to take Leona Lewis’s calls to this day. I love the stripped-back version of this upbeat, high-energy classic and this is the formula which Birdy chooses to remain true to throughout.


Bon Iver‘s ‘Skinny Love’ is another favourite of mine on the record. With simple yet stunning piano accompaniment, Birdy showcases her rare gift; the ability to move and challenge the listener with her vocals. If she chose these tracks herself, then it would be fair to say that it is not just her vocal range that is mature beyond her years.


The xx‘s ‘Shelter’  does something quite unusual for me, it actually makes me appreciate the work of a band which I had previously found quite dull and uninspiring. I have always been more about the words than the voice, but with Birdy I seem to have been brought around to this track simply by the strength of her sound.

The album entered the UK charts at number 13 and continues to garner praise and excited whispers; I predict big things for this young folk and indie-pop singer in 2012. /

shelleyhanveywriter 🙂



Written by shelleyhanveywriter

November 16, 2011 at 12:56 pm

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 🙂

Esben and the Witch; perfect sounds for the spooky season

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Esben and the Witch are Rachel Davies, Daniel Copeman and Thomas Fisher; and together they form an indie rock outfit with more thrills and squeals than the whole of the spooky season.

Having supported the likes of The Big Pink, The xx and Foals; the Brighton trio have also just been nominated for a Q Award as the “next big thing.” Listening to their dark and dangerous take on modern indie-electronica, it isn’t difficult to figure out why.

The lead single from their recently released EP of the same name, ‘Marching Song’,  is accompanied by a slightly disturbing yet impossible to avert your eyes from, music video. The track could easily be placed on any of the current high drama and high gloss teen vampire outings, with its supernatural synth sounds and blood lust imagery. I predict big things for this track, with an album being tentatively scheduled for early 2011.

Another track which I have taken quite the shine to is ‘Corridors’, taken from the band’s debut EP, entitled ’33’, which was released in 2009. Davies’ vocals penetrate the heart of every track and it is clear to see that her vision and musicality are a major driving force in the band.

I decided to do a bit of research in to the band’s name, finding it both quirky and intriguing. ‘Esben and the Witch’ is actually the name of a Danish fairytale, which very roughly goes as thus…A farmer has several sons and he sends them out with money and horses to seek their fortune. The youngest of the sons, Esben, is left out of this money and horse-giving and you quickly deduct that he is rather the black sheep of the family. He therefore strikes up an unusual and never properly explained love-hate relationship with a witch who lives nearby. He accepts several tasks and challenges from the King, all in order to save the lives and reputations of his brothers, which all involve him stealing from the witch. The witch gets mighty miffed after a while and kidnaps him, planning to fatten him up and roast him for dinner. ..still a children’s fairytale, you ask? Anyhoo, he falls in love with the witch’s daughter or she falls for him, one or the other, and he manages to get away and the King releases his brothers and they all return home to Father, praising Esben for being their saviour. I’m not entirely sure what the moral of the story is; perhaps not to miff off a witch? Witches have feelings too? Don’t take your brother for granted? But, I digress.

‘About This Peninsula’ is also taken from the ’33’ EP and is another of my favourites on the record. I look forward to hearing more from this band on a forthcoming album.

Written by shelleyhanveywriter

October 21, 2010 at 2:36 pm

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2010 Barclaycard Mercury Prize shortlist; hooray for Folk!

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2010 Barclaycard Mercury Prize – shortlist announced today (July 20th, 2010)

Well the Mercury Prize shortlist has been announced today and I am delighted to see 3 folk artists/bands in the line-up; those being Laura Marling’s ‘I Speak Because I Can’, Villagers’ ‘Becoming a Jackal’ and Mumford & Sons’ ‘Sigh No More.’ The full list is below:

Biffy Clyro, ‘Only Revolutions’

I Am Kloot, ‘Sky At Night’

Dizzee Rascal, ‘Tongue N’ Cheek’

Paul Weller, ‘Wake Up the Nation’

Corinne Bailey Rae, ‘The Sea’

The xx, ‘xx’

Villagers, ‘Becoming a Jackal’

Kit Downes Trio, ‘Golden’

Foals, ‘Total Life Forever’

Laura Marling ‘I Speak Because I Can’

Wild Beasts, ‘Two Dancers’

Mumford & Sons, ‘Sigh No More’

With a talent for poetry and lyricism far beyond her tender 20 years; Laura Marling is well respected in both folk and wider contemporary circles. This, her second album, was released in March 2010 and peaked at number 4 in the Official UK Chart and number 1 on the iTunes UK Chart. The album has produced two singles thus far; those being ‘Goodbye England (Covered in Snow) and ‘Devil’s Spoke.’ These just happen to also be two of my favourite tracks from a genuinely striking and sublime record.

Villagers are an Irish indie-folk band, hailing from Malahide in Dublin. This, their debut album, was released in May 2010 and immediately topped the Irish Albums Chart and the Irish Indie Albums Chart. Lead singer Conor J. O’Brien is widely respected and lauded for his songwriting, musicality and influence amongst his peers. O’Brien’s music has been described as drawing inspiration from dark imagery and by romanticising the mundane aspects of life. Definitely a wordsmith to note for the future.

I think most people will have heard of Mumford & Sons at this point; regardless of whether they happen to be a fan of folk music. This, their debut studio album, was released in October 2009, peaking at number 6 in the Official UK Charts in July 2010. The album has since been certified Platinum in the UK and has produced the following hit singles, ‘Little Lion Man’, ‘Winter Winds’, ‘The Cave’ and ‘Roll Away Your Stone.’ Continuously sold out shows confirm the band’s popularity both at home and abroad. I would be surprised if this band weren’t judged to be in the top 3 of those shortlisted; but then again, I fear other factors come in to play with these commercial prize-giving ceremonies; I still haven’t got over Lisa Hannigan not walking away with the award for ‘Sea Sew’ last year.

Still, us folk fans can dream and hope, hope and dream; I think these three are worthy winners but would like to have also seen Richard Hawley’s ‘Truelove’s Gutter’ and Noah and the Whale’s ‘The First Days of Spring’ nominated. But, you can’t have everything.

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