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2018 Archive

FEBRUARY

Three strong female musicians, each with her own talents, working as one, none seeking to outshine the others. That’s the special formula behind the new collaboration between Aoife O’Donovan, Sara Watkins and Sarah Jarosz.

The three members of I’m With Her are from different parts of the USA who when they met, something just clicked. Sara Watkins is from a musical family : they formed the group Nickel Creek when she was just 8 years old; once the kids had grown older they picked up a string of Grammy nominations. She’s gone on to have a successful solo career. Aoife was lead singer of the bluegrass band Crooked Still; she’s also released a couple of solo albums. Sarah Jarosz is the baby of the bunch : 12 months ago her 4th solo album Undercurrent won two Grammies.

They’ve spent plenty of quality time together already. In 2015 I’m With Her did a lot of touring – here’s one of the songs from that period, a Jim Croce cover :

I’m With Her – Walkin Back To Georgia 

After this they all went off to work on solo albums and other projects. See You Around, which comes out on February 16th, is their first album; these are also the first songs that they’ve written between them. Before then, all the songs are being streamed for you on NPR First Listen (recommended : Wild One).  Here’s Aoife on their songwriting process : “Someone will come to the table with the idea or the start of something and then hand it over … There’s no extreme attachment to ideas that haven’t been fully fleshed out which is great. It helps to have three people who are all instrumentalist, lyricists, and keen arrangers … There’s one song that I don’t sing on at all, Pangea. It’s funny because, at the start of that, I might have floated the initial idea, but in the end, it didn’t work out for me to sing on it. I think that’s so cool.”

It’s a lovely female-centred album with harmonies and arrangements that are really as good as they come. They play quite a wide range of roots-oriented music, with folk and bluegrass being at the heart of their sound.

I’m With Her – Game to Lose

I’m With Her – Overland

I’m With Her – See You Around

 

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JANUARY

Take the expansive drug-induced dreamscapes of Californian rock, stir in the hard-edged sound of working class East Kilbride, and add a sprig of oriental spice – and prepare yourself for a sensory assault.

Helicon are a Glasgow based psych rock band who’ve just released their first full length album, but they’re no novices : they’ve previously put out something like 8 EPs on a few different labels. Formed by brothers JP and Gary Hughes, they’ve also been through a few changes in personnel. A key change was to bring in “Groovy” Graham Gordon, whose sitar has helped to define the band’s sound, which one former label describes as “dark, dramatic, acid-drenched and drone-heavy”.

Helicon are a band for whom the music comes first. Each of the eight tracks on Helicon is a sonic adventure, atmospheric, percussion heavy walls of noise such as Devil On Your Tongue and Teenage Murder to the more ambient freaked-out Seraph and French as Fuck. You could make a case that with more work on their lyrics they could really deliver some killer songs, but you know what, they’ve brought psych rock back to basics and shown how a band who have the necessary knowledge, skill and appreciation of the genre can open the doors to our perception, so let’s applaud them for this.

You can catch them at Unit 32 in Shrewsbury on 27th January.

 

Helicon – Teenage Murder

Helicon – Devil On Your Tongue

Helicon – Drinking Of You 

Helicon – French As Fuck

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