Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Old soul in a young man

19 year old singer, songwriter Jake Bugg has been taking the UK by storm. Despite his age, he grew up listening to all the classics: from the Beatles to Jimi Handrix, from Oasis to Bob Dylan. His musical education was definitely varied, which is plain to sees in his work.

Jake Bugg is part of the current folk wave that seems to be sweeping the UK (and I couldn't be happier), but he has a sound that is quite unique. His voice has the same old soul sound you can find when listening to Dylan, and his lyrics portray a maturity that isn't common for a 19 year old.

Although he is young, Jake already has three years or performing under his belt. He's played at Glastonbury, and will soon be performing in Toronto. He's a performer that needs to be seen to truly appreciate, but until he's in Canada, here's a taste of what Jake Bugg is best at.

Friday, 14 June 2013

Savages bring back classic punk with a bang

Admittedly, the punk scene isn't really my forte, but recently the UK has been putting out too many rock and punk bands to not get sucked in. The most recent punk love, Savages.

This all girl punk band is exactly what punk should be. They can play (but don't get too complex), the vocal styling is a little out there (which makes it all the more memorable) and they have the attitude that all punk bands must showcase.

What makes Savages really interesting is that the band is 100% female (not something you normally find in punk, or rock for that matter), and that the band has a style so reminiscent of classic punk that you will often find yourself transported back in time.

Jenny Beth, Gemma Thompson, Ayse Hassan and Fay Milton make up this incredible group. Jenny Beth's vocals have often been compared to Siouxsie (from Siouxsie and the Banshees), and it's easy to see why. However, Jenny doesn't just have a voice that is similar to Siouxsie's, she also knows how to command a stage like her too. With all four girls collaborating to write the lyrics, this band is truly more than just a fantastic lead singer.

Whether you're a punk lover or not, it is always a welcomed surprise to hear a band that brings you back in time. The classic sound that Savages has is perfect for now. When so much of the music we hear today is manufactured, it's exhilarating to hear a band that is so real, and raw.

Watch Jenny Beth, Gemma Thompson, Ayse Hassan and Fay Milton wow the audience at Live on Later with Jools Holland.

Friday, 15 March 2013

SXSW 2013

SXSW (South By Southwest) opened its doors on March 4, 2013. If you don't know about SXSW, you should. This amazing event runs for two full weeks and delights anyone lucky enough to attend with the latest technology, films and bands.

Every year, hundreds of bands pack into Austin, TX in the hopes of being discovered. The best music critics make their way as well, in hopes of being the one to discover the "next big thing" first. For any music lover (and definitely any band), SXSW is the place to be.

Sadly, I can't be at SXSW. However, the British band Alt-J was able to make it and they are turning heads.

Many have described the band as the new Radiohead. I don't see the comparison, however. Although Alt-J is very experimental (like Radiohead), it has a sound that is distinct in and of itself. If you're a lover of music that is just a little bit weird (and really, there's nothing wrong with boundaries being pushed) this band is for you.

Alt-J is definitely the kind of band you listen to for the music. Although the lyrics are interesting and the vocals are good, the instrumental side of the songs is really what will catch your attention.

Music Critics at SXSW are already falling for this band. Don't be the last one in the know.

Alt-J Breezeblocks

Friday, 8 March 2013

Glen Hansard, Too Good to Exclude

In 2006 the movie Once was released. This Irish drama was directed and written by John Carney and starred singers Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova. Not only did Hansard and Irglova star in the film, they also wrote and sang all of the original songs. At the Academy Awards that year, Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova won the award for Best Original Song for "Falling Slowly".


Both singers are not of Irish descent. Marketa Irglova was born and Raised in the Czech Republic. However, Glen Hansard  was born in Dublin, Ireland. Although that does mean that he was born in the Republic of Ireland (which is not part of the UK) I have to stretch the rules a bit for this incomparable singer.

I will admit that I am very late to the party with this singer. I first heard him on a television show (I know, it's disappointing for me too) but right away fell in love. When I started listening to his older songs and learning his back story I was more than impressed. 

It's easy to say it's his voice that makes me love him or his lyrics but, my love for Glen Hansard goes much deeper than all that. The power and raw emotions that he puts into his songs makes me feel it deep inside. Glen Hansard leaves everything he has in himself in his songs. He doesn't hide any of himself away. And, because of that, anyone who listens to his songs can't help but be moved by them.

So, why should you listen to Glen Hansard? Because there are very few musicians out there that can sing with the same passion, power, focus and openness as he does. There's a reason why the Oscars gave an unknown Irish singer (unknown to the North American charts) an award. He is everything a musician should be and so much more.

 *Bird of Sorrow from the album Rhythm and Repose

Friday, 1 March 2013

Breathe Easy, Rachel Sermanni has Arrived

Earlier this week I learned of an amazing new folk singer out of Scotland. Once I heard the interesting new sound that Rachel Sermanni was bringing to the genre I knew I had to share her with all of you. Although Rachel Sermanni is quite well known in the UK (already winning over the Mumford and Sons boys as fans), her first show in North America just happened over the Valentines' weekend, at the International Folk Alliance in Toronto.

Rachel Sermanni is an incredible talent. The control and focus she has in her vocals are hard to find in much more seasoned singers- that's why it's so surprising that she is only 21 years old. She also brings a depth to the lyrics- that often only comes from life experience. The wisdom within her lyrics and vocals is touching to anyone that hears it.

Not only is Rachel an impress vocalist, she’s also a really sweet girl. I can’t help but love singers more when they have great personalities (and Rachel really does).To understand what I mean check out her sit down with JianGhomeshi on Q.

This singer cannot be stopped. She is on the path to overtake the North American market and I couldn’t be happier. Rachel Sermanni is definitely an act that you need to know about.

Breathe Easy Rachel Sermanni

Friday, 22 February 2013

London's Punk Scene Explodes Again

It's fair to say that the UK Punk scene has been pretty quiet lately. Of course there are bands still playing gigs but it hasn't been very popular (not like in the '70s and '80s). This isn't surprising, music always seems to go in spurts. But, maybe with the emergence of the Palma Violets, the UK Punk scene is on the rise again.

Formed in 2011 (yes, they are that new) the Palma Violets are already blowing crowds away. They have the true Punk Rock attitude (although, a little more 21st century). The music matters, just maybe not as much as it does with other genres. During an interview with Jian Ghomeshi in Studio Q the boys admitted that they aren't that good at playing their instruments (and don't care). They are more interested with the imperfections- that add soul to the sound- than making something sound perfect.

When listening to the Palma Violets it is hard to not sometimes think of bands like The Clash. Love them or hate them The Clash made something amazing and the Palma Violets are definitely picking up on that trend. This new UK band is growing fast; already selling out shows while having a song (Best of Friends) labeled the song of the year by NME.

And, really, it is time for Punk to rise again.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

The Irish Charm

Irish vocalist Lisa Hannigan first got notoriety singing with Damien Rice (yes, Rice fans, she is that girl). For several years Lisa Hannigan sang Damien's songs, toured with him, and wowed fans. However, Damien Rice hasn't played much in the last couple years and Lisa felt it was time to go her own way. So, in 2007 Lisa Hannigan became a solo musician.

If you are a Damien Rice fan, don't expect Lisa's music to sound anything like his. Although Lisa still holds onto her folk roots her songs definitely have a pop feel. Unlike Rice's heavily emotional lyrics, Hannigan likes to find the brighter side of things. Her music is uplifting and fun. You can't help but smile along with the songs.

Hannigan isn’t just a vocalist. She is also a pretty accomplished instrumentalist playing guitar, bass, violin, several types of percussion, as well as many different cultural instruments. She is an incredibly talented musician; often receiving critical acclaim for her work.

If you follow music closely you will find that Lisa Hannigan is one of those 'artists’ artists'. She’s a musician that many musicians know and love. She has worked with artists like Gary Lightbody (from Snow Patrol), Glen Hansard, Damien Rice, Herbie Hancock and more. Why not be in the know too.