Funny how a few trips away disrupt the normal business... I am reminded that the site has been somewhat content-lite for a while (thanks, Mark) and there's a fair amount to catch up on after the summer.
First off, another plug for the wonderful Secret Sessions, a site of music and interviews bound to introduce you to some new things which will become fixtures in your life. My two favourite sets of Secret Sessioners so far are Other Lives and Givers, two young American bands of very different styles. You can read a review of Other Lives' new album Tamer Animals here.
Givers are a bouncy crew from Louisiana who share some of Vampire Weekend's energy and Highlife inflections. In comparison with the Brooklyn boys, however, Givers seem rather keener on having fun than wowing the colour supplements. They are playing in Brighton on 6 November and I'm looking forward to making their acquaintance.
The autumn gig list is filling out nicely with Ahab, Cloud Control, Chatham County Line, June Tabor & The Oysterband and Steve Earle already in the diary - to warm up for Gillian Welch.
On the record front, I'm enjoying Laura Marling's A Creature I Don't Know, but want to give it a bit more time - there's something about her style which means I don't immediately hear and grasp the words... they seep in more gradually.
Tom Russell, on the other hand, is a very clear narrator but I've found first listens to his new one Mesabi rather disappointing - he's a bit too concerned with telling stories to let his songs grow more organically, and his sentimental side is more prominent than I like. But the excellent Calexico are on board again and Lucinda Williams guests -I'm going to give this one more time too.
Finally, a couple of Len-linked recommendations:
- for The Decemberists' I-Tunes Session which includes strong new versions of some of their own songs alongside a sweet version of Leonard Cohen's 'Hey, That's No Way To Say Goodbye' (apparently a favoured recent encore in concert - as you can see here);
- and Other Lives' version of Len's 'The Partisan' here - they clearly know a decent song when they hear one.