Songs For Dead Sailors

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Here are the last two weeks of Folk Bloke shows. Put aside two hours and ruminate on the dualistic nature of the world. One was recorded outside in the sun, the other inside as it rained. Binary systems, yeah?

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There is some bloody good music on this week’s show. Some of it I’ve written about, some of it I most likely will, and some of it’s just nice to hear again. A PUZZLE: Listen to it all and find out what’s what.

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Part two of round-up day on MFAGW comes in the form of my Christmas Day show for DIY Radio, a (mercifully for some, I’m sure) mostly presenter-free episode where I played a stream of my favourite Folk Bloke tracks of the year. If nothing else, it’s a bloody good line-up of music – Bill Callahan, Alessi’s Ark, Saintseneca, Rob St. John and, obviously Josh T. Pearson all make appearances. If you want an hour of delightful music to reminisce on, stick it on and lay back.

Josh T. Pearson – Thou Art Loosed!

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This week saw my most inappropriate intro link yet. I’m pleased with it.

Does It Offend You, Yeah? – Battle Royale

Chris Anderson is a very elusive man. With only a sparsely decorated Myspace page dedicated to his one-man band, Songs for Dead Sailors, I really have no idea who he is, what he’s up to or where I can find more from him. Which is weird, these days. Only one mp3 of his has been released (though the For Folks’ Sake New Bands’ Panel) and, given its status as the currency of new music these days, I was completely unaware, and very happy to find out, that two new songs of his had been released in September. ‘She’ is very much a continuation of previous work, a crisp, lovelorn affair accumulating atmosphere around Anderson’s nucleic vocals – subdued, swooning and Wild Beasts-esque (well, if Wild Beasts’ vocals weren’t continuously grating). ‘Caspian’ is a rather more interesting affair, a track clearly built from the same space as each of the other songs, but towards a different goal. Comprising rise and fall backing guitar harmonics, a slight groove to Anderson’s intonations and what is officially the funkiest outro he’s yet produced, it’s a clue towards a wider scope than we might have expected.

It’s not massively surprising that, given Myspace is hardly the hip and happening, go-to streaming service it used to be, both tracks have failed to hit more than 20 plays between them. Let’s change that, because they’re brilliant. Below are a couple of slightly dodgy Myspace rips (that, if Mr. Anderson is reading, I am more than happy to take down at a moment’s notice) that I want you all to listen to. Let’s make sure we get more of this, and that we know about it when it next happens.

Songs for Dead Sailors – She

Songs for Dead Sailors – Caspian

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Vodpod videos no longer available.

I’m just going to leave these here. Do with them as you will.

Tenacious D – Double Team (YSI)

Given that I’ve lived in Newcastle for nearly three years, I feel a little ashamed at complete lack of engagement, both on this blog and in general, with the local music scene. I’ve gone to plenty of gigs, but most have been out of town bands on tour and, in the usual way, now that I’ll be most probably leaving for pastures soon in future, my apathy is bugging me. This post won’t do much to allay that, but I can at least point you towards a couple of completely brilliant Newcastle acts, just for the sake of their excellence if nothing else.

First up is a band I’ve mentioned before, but who continue to amaze me, Shift-Static. They bear the questionable title of the Newcastle band I’ve seen live most (twice), and that dubious honour does not come lightly – their technical wizardry and mercurial genre-mashing comes across even better live than on record, simply because you can’t quite believe it’s happening. This five-piece specialise in oscillating between quiet, contemplative guitar work, Laura Smith’s swoonsome vocals and skittering, beat-driven electronic sections which, as a whole, is only anchored by a clear (and clearly well thought-out) sense of purpose in every song. On stage, this translates into a sort of wonderful dance, with band members constantly switching insturments and changing positions around Laura, an oddly apt physical manifestation of their sound. I was recently sent their latest recording, ‘The Furrow’, which extends the already excellent work of their debut EP (still, I believe, available for free on their Myspace page) into more ambient territory, shot through with a relaxed swirl of synth noise and the kind of claustrophobic build up Thom Yorke would be proud of. The final minute, a slow descent into silence is nothing short of beautiful.

Shift Static – The Furrow (YSI)

Our second act, Songs For Dead Sailors, is an artist I originally reviewed last year for For Folk’s Sake’s New Bands Panel. Chris Anderson’s one-man uke ‘n’ kick drum ditties avoid any problems caused by the sheer tweeness of his main instrument, instead becoming wonderful stories in a minor key. With so much attention drawn to the voice, it’s fortuitous that Anderson has the kind of buttery, engaging vocals that make it a positive treat to listen to whatever he has to say, and, usually, that’s something personally poetic (my personal favourite being, “She rubs a naked palm across my sunburned neck and I feel gorgeous”) It’s a mastery of minimalism that makes his songs what they are; quiet, dreamy and surprisingly deep for such sparse compositions. Plus, he employs the mouth trumpet to brilliant effect on ‘Dance of the Midnight Rats’, and what could be better than that? It’s unclear whether what he’s classed as demos will be reworked, or even if there will be any more material at all (his last update was in April), but this tiny cluster of songs are a wonderful beginning or end to a musical project. Now I just have to find out where he plays…

Songs For Dead Sailors – Springtide (YSI)