Sunday, November 26, 2006

"The Eighteenth Day of May" (UK Folk-Rock 2005)

This six-piece is based in London, UK consisting of members from UK, USA and Sweden.. They have become known for their live work with this debut album coming a couple of years after honing their music. The time gestating their music in a live setting has paid off with this album having a consistency and clarity that many debuts lack even though this album was recorded over a year ago. Their sound is based upon but not slavish to the emergent sixties era folk-rock of Fairport Convention and Trees. They make music that uses tight song structures and electric instrumentation but in a relatively controlled way rather than rocking out (at least on their recordings).

Folk-rock fans should imagine Richard and Mimi Farina fronting the classic Ashley Hutchings era Fairport Convention line-up. Fans new to the genre or the band will just be swept along in the songs and their arrangements. First song ‘Eighteen Days’ sets the tone with a rolling folk rock song that introduces sitar like sound as it reaches a surging climax. ‘Sir Casey Jones’ focuses on vocal layering over a large sounding, twelve string guitar led song. It’s like a UK sixties band writing in the style of The Byrds circa 1965. However as the instrumental sections introduce drama in the chiming guitars overlaid with mandolin and handclaps it becomes something of its own rather than a facsimile.

‘The Highest Tree’ takes thing down from the drama of the previous track giving a nice evolution to the music. This song is a lilting ballad delivered by co-lead singer Allison Brice in a mid-tempo arrangement that incorporates flute. When hearing Alison sing with the swirling folk-rock backing, often rather than the obvious Fairport Convention comparison it is instead Anne Brigg's Ragged Robin on her second (and last) solo album which is high praise. Fourth song is a version of Bert Jansch’s “‘Deed I Do” done notably by Donovan and notably by Elyse. Here the song is taken initially as a ballad and it’s a good version with a light start giving way to a surging second half. The instrumentation is great with a solo military drum pattern driving the atmospheric instrumental ending of swelling organ chords and harps over the guitars.

‘Hide and Seek’ has Richard singing and a great swinging rhythm. This song has a light rollicking feel which works well. The chiming instrumental ‘Twig Folly Close’ is excellent with an almost sea shanty aspect to it. This song shows off the intricate string work of the band, an area they excel in and are clearly fond of. Next we have their version of the traditional song ‘Lady Margaret’ which really is like Trees on their second album ‘On The Shore’, the strung instruments driving the song on excellently.

‘Cold Early Morning’ allows in a slightly more electric sound, giving it a crunchier sound that they really benefit from. The edge of the guitars really working against Allison’s light vocals to great effect and perhaps this is something to explore further. Fans of early Mostly Autumn or Steve Ashley’s version of ‘Fire and Wine’ would enjoy it a lot, almost approaching a Led Zeppelin like swagger towards the end. ‘Monday Morning’s No Good Coming Down’ is a nicely written country-rock tune performed gently with nice electric piano playing.

The traditional song ‘Flowers of the Forest’ is the penultimate song and is arranged in as an epic production. It starts sounding very Scottish with good viola from Alison Cotton. For most of the song it is very restrained and held in control then towards the end it becomes a great crashing folk-rock track with lead flute and haunting electric guitar notes. It’s one of their most psychedelic arrangements and particularly strong. You can feel this is where they want to go, to extend the form and allow themselves room on the tracks to really work on the interplay of instruments. On their next album they should follow this, they are very good at it and not many bands are doing it.

The final track ‘The Mandrake Screams’ was titled by the review as the unofficial title for their demo CD which they sent over. It seems to fit the short but psychedelically warped little gem of a track.

We have an excellent debut album but it feels as much that Hannibal have signed them not just for the moment but for the clear talent and ability to grow from here which is shown. When talking with them and hearing this, live work and the demos it becomes apparent they are more than the sum of their influences and have a path they want to follow. A difficulty for bands with expanded line-ups is the temptation to fill every gap in the mix with sound, this has mostly been avoided and on the next album they could perhaps allow more variation in the amount of instrumentation. This is a very enjoyable listen and keeps to traditional album length which becomes a strength, not in any way becoming a weary listen like so many modern albums.

Even though I know the album well, I turned on Radio 6 the other night to find some sixties folk-rock playing I didn’t know playing. Intrigued I stayed until the end when two tracks had been played only to find it was songs from the album here. Heard on the radio they worked well and sounded both new and a product of the sixties. For now this is delightful, the mission on the next album is perhaps to become even more themselves and explore even further the swirling epics they are striving rapidly towards.

9 Comments:

Anonymous spirito bono said...

A quick note to say thanks for the marvellous music available on you blog & to advise everyone to go & check I Canzoniere Del Lazio on
http://demusicaalterque.blogspot.com .One of the best bands ever to my taste...

27 November, 2006 01:29  
Blogger wonderboy said...

Hi!

Thanks for the great music!
I loved it while it lasted.

For some reason I can't get any of the Megaupload files, even WITH their very suspicious toolbar.

So, hope to see you again, if you decide to move to any other uploader. (RS was the best).

Thanks again,

wonderboy

27 November, 2006 05:16  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I really like this. Thank you!

Horzel.

27 November, 2006 07:30  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Vou baixar. Obrigado

19 January, 2007 17:22  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For what it's worth, I like rapidshare, though my problem is my Mac (OSX) won't open of the .rar files,
so I'm glad for whatever is in .zip

13 February, 2007 09:54  
Anonymous darksun said...

I had a few keep up the great work many thnx

03 May, 2007 04:08  
Blogger El Navegante Errante said...

Tu blog es excelente!!! Paso mucho de los temas en mi programa. Te invito a escucharlo los viernes a las 23 horas de Argentina por www.la104-7.com.ar o entrando a mi blog www.sailingnavegandoporlamusica.blogspot.com
Muchas gracias!!!

27 June, 2008 08:40  
Blogger Alicia H said...

You hand me at "imagine Richard and Mimi Farina fronting... Fairport Convention". :-)

I've found some great stuff at this blog, including all the Richard & Mimi Fariña related stuff and Joan Baez in San Francisco. Thank you so much for all of it!

30 March, 2009 06:09  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the music!!!

14 May, 2010 13:33  

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