Archive for the ‘Folk’ Category

Summer Fades


Smoke Fairies – Summer Fades

Rarely has a song I’ve used on shotwithsound better fitted my mood than this one does, so I’m glad to be able to post it here to share with you. The tune is an incredibly delicate, nostalgic song lamenting the the fact that there is nothing to look forward to… All a bit heavy eh, and the song’s about the end of a relationship, which doesn’t have anything to do with my current state of mind at all, but who doesn’t get to the end of summer and feel a bit down?

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Pulling On A Line

Great Lake Swimmers – Pulling On A Line (Live)

I’ve been wanting to feature Great Lake Swimmers on here for such a long time that the draft of this post, with the live version of Pulling On A Line that is attached to it actually dates from January. Since then I’ve taken about four different photos that I’ve thought of featuring with it, but have rejected each of them for not being exactly what I pictured when I heard the song – a shot facing out to sea with a man fishing, silhouetted against a setting sun…

As you can see above, I’ve not actually used the image I was imagining, because having actually recently taken one in Bournemouth that was pretty close to it, I realised I didn’t actually like it that much and I much prefer the one above. I like the companionship that’s at the heart of it and the way nature’s power is drawn out with the swan beating his wings in the foreground.

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July, July

The Decemberists – July, July!

The Decemberists seem an odd band to celebrate the start of July with a post about(although I suppose given we’re now six months through the year, we’re closer to next December than last today!), but then they’ve never seemed to be solely a ‘winter band’, name notwithstanding. As a digression, for me ‘winter bands’ are those who are either to be solely listened to during the colder months, or at elates those who sound better then, and vice versa for ‘summer bands’. Some examples of the type would include Joy Division, Bon Iver and Plastikman for the winter, and Sublime, the Beach Boys and the Kinks for summer.
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Sun It Rises


Fleet Foxes – Sun It Rises

There are two types of people in the world: those who think that sunrises or sunsets in landscape photos are an hideous, lazy cliches to be avoided like the plague… And those who are right. Most people realise that the light is at its best at the start and end of the day, so that’s by default the best time of day to be taking photos – so most landscapes features dawns and dusks.

Most of mine do in any case, so I’ll defend the cliche if needs be, ideally with the use of a half decent image to do so. The problem is, it’s all well and good taking sunset and sunrise photos in the middle of winter when the sun seems to rise at about 10am and set at around midday, but the sky tends to be a flat unremitting grey or it’s pissing down at that time of year. Whereas, in the two weeks or so of good weather we get year, the sunrises at about five am – not the ideal time of day for anyone to be up and about, especially when you’ve got to build in time to take the shot too.

It happened that a fortnight ago, I spent the night alone in a beach hut staying on the Sandbank at Mudeford Quay, and had the luck of great weather, combined with the opportunity of being able to crawl out of bed at 4am, set up a series of photos, then ninety minutes later slink back off to bed, as God intended. The above is one of the fruits of that session, a slightly over-exposed, long shutter speed shot across the Solent towards the Isle Of White, making the channel look like a snow covered field as the pink orb of the sun barely crests the horizon.

I expect I will use several other images captured that morning in the coming weeks as I am really pleased with some of the shots I managed (what’s that you say, Yeasayer have a track called Sunrise?).

But first to Fleet Foxes, and the opener from their beautiful pseudonymous debut album, Sun It Rises. Like much of the album that succeeds it, the tune is a pastoral, folky number, ideal for coffee shops and dinner parties, but no less lovely for it.

Regular readers will realise… That I like alliteration. And also that I like the new folky sounds popularised by the likes of Bon Iver, Grizzly Bear, and the Low Anthem, and despite using music from many of their contemporaries, have not yet featured Fleet Foxes. Strangely, they were very nearly the first track I put on here (I decided on Happiness instead), but since then I’ve never got around to using them.

So after a delay caused by monumental success, touring commitments and side projects, they a expected to release new music this year, so I thought I’d jump in and use this now, before it’s superseded – not that that really stops me posting things to be honest.

You can buy the album Fleet Foxes from Amazon here, or download it from Fleet Foxes - Fleet Foxes

Tornado (Acoustic)

Jonsi – Tornado (Acoustic)

If you’ve been waiting patiently and hitting refresh every five minutes for the past month, you’ll know that updates have been very few and far between during the month of April for shotwithsound, and if you follow me on Twitter you’ll know that the reason for that was a long holiday, made even longer by being stranded follow ashmagedon, or Iceland’s Revenge as it’s otherwise known. So what better way to celebrate my return to the UK, and shotwithsound’s return to providing shots with sounds, than a track from one of Iceland’s most famous exports?

So it’s a useful coincidence that Sigur Ros’ lead singer Jonsi put out his first solo album, Go, in the first week I was away, which swiftly became the soundtrack to my holiday, not least the days spent in the amazing Halong Bay, pictured above.

There is something of the dawn about Jonsi’s voice in the best moments of Sigur Ros’ music, and also something primeval and elemental, as there is in Go. It’s this natural element to his voice, and the music that often accompanies it, that made me choose one of the most natural – in the sense of being untouched by man – photos I’ve ever taken to go with the song.

Over the next few weeks, I plan to sort and categorise all the photos I took in my moth long trip (over 4,500 believe it or not), so I am sure more of them will appear on here in the coming months. In fact, to have any chance of hitting my very loose target of four posts a month, I’ll have to do more pretty quickly!

You can by Go from Amazon here, or do what I did and download Go from J√≥nsi - Go You might even be able to do in one of Hanoi’s Highland Coffees like I did too, if so, well done, wish I was there.

Rollerskating

Bright Eyes – Rollerskating

Anyone reading the About page on here will realise that the aim of this isn’t to be relevant, hell, anyone reading shotwithsound will probably know that, so it’s no surprise that in eight months of running, I’ve never featured a song the day it was released on here.

Usually, I don’t have the time, or the clarity and speed of thought, still less creativity, to produce an accompanying image for a new track to try and beat the big popular indie blog boys to the latest from Pheonix, Yeasayer and Beach House, but today, I’m making an exception.

It’s not everyday you get a new Bright Eyes track these days (gone are the days of two whole albums on one day), because while Conor Oberst may have the time to stick out three albums in 18 months, he hasn’t put out new material under his Art Garfunkle inspired psuedonym for three years.

So news that a re-issue of 2004′s split EP with Saddle Creek label mates Neva Dinova, One Jug Of Wine, Two Vessels, would feature two new tracks from each band, expanding the EP to an LP as anyone who can count will tell you, was greeted pretty fondly by fans, not least round here.

As I said last time I featured Bright Eyes on here, Conor is nothing if not prodigious, and nothing if not precocious, so the very fact that new material from his main band is a surprise shows his focus has been on other areas. Here’s to hoping that the two new tracks are precursors to a touted final Bright Eyes album.

The photo above was taken with my new 50mm 1.8 prime lens (which you’ll be seeing more of on here), and is a pretty cheap visual link to the song, using @k4tys‘s roller skates for a still life subject…

Usually I make tracks on here available for download, but as this is so new and as there are only three other new songs on the release, it feels like I’d be really ripping off the artists if I did, so this is streaming only for now.

You can buy the now full length One Jug Of Wine, Two Vessels from Amazon here, or if like me you already own six of the ten tracks, you can complete your collection from Bright Eyes & Neva Dinova - One Jug of Wine, Two Vessels

Sunset Soon Forgotten


Iron & Wine – Sunset Soon Forgotten

The photo above was taken on my last trip to Spain (as was this one for that matter), shortly before I fell / slid / scrabbled (5 foot / 45 foot / 100 foot) down the side of the mountain from which it was taken. The experience left me with adrenaline rushing, heart pounding, and a very real understanding that staying up a mountain until it is by any definition dark, just to get a photo of the sunset, is pretty bloody silly. Still, looks good doesn’t it?!

The point being, that in this case, it was, for me, far from being a sunset soon forgotten, unlike the one name checked by Iron & Wine in the song above. So there might not be a titular link, but trust me, as the lyric says, the sun was still sinking, down and down.

Iron & Wine, as is ever more often the case with modern Americana ‘bands’ is in fact the stage name of Texan Sam Beam, and an expanding band of sometime collaborators. In the UK (and abroad for all I know) Iron & Wine are known principally for the cover of (often my favourite song), The Postal Service’s Such Great Heights, which featured in indie kid fav film Garden State and on an advert for a probably long dead search engine. Despite that, there are four albums full of their own brilliant, low key take on folk / americana, as well as a great rarities compilation and live album.

The song sounds to me like a rushing precursor to The Low Anthem’s excellent To Ohio from last year (mentioned in my top ten albums), but dates from Beam’s second album, 2004′s Our Endless Numbered Days. The album is a collection of delicate ballads superior in my view to the bearded troubadour’s 2007 set The Shepherd’s Dog (did I mention Beam has the best beard and hair in music? Yes better than Devandra).

You can buy the album from Amazon here or download it from Iron & Wine - Our Endless Numbered Days

Tenhert

TenhertTinariwen – Tenhert

Not many conscripted, desert-born soldiers of fortune have the time to learn to play instruments, fewer still manage to form bands, and you can count the numbers that reach world wide fame through their tribal take on rock music on the fingers of one hand. Even if the hand has lost all but one of its fingers in an unfortunate heavy machinery accident.

So it is that Tinariwen’s strange, almost mythical journey has taken them from being conscripts to Gaddafi’s Eighties army to touring the world, playing festivals from Glastonbury to Coachella, and being cited by Damon Alban and Chris Martin as influences.

Hailing originally from the the Tuareg tribe in the deserts of Africa’s largest country, Mali, Tinariwen play a curious blend of incanted, shamanistic drone rock that melds their own culture with heady doses of Hendrix-influenced guitars.

Although they formed in the early Eighties and were releasing music locally soon after, it is only really in this decade that their music has been widely available in the West. Each of their releases to date has found them more fans and increased their influence, culminating in this year’s critically lauded Imidiwan: Companions from which Tenhert is drawn.

Another ‘holiday’ snap accompanies the track seeing as I am still in the sunshine… Not quite the desert of Mali but I hope that the image’s faded tones and African influences are overt enough to be appropriate. Just as soon as I can afford a trip to north Africa to take something closer to Tinariwen’s home I will do!

You can order Imidiwan: Companions from Amazon here

You can also download the album from Tinariwen - Imidiwan: Companions

Riptide

RiptideWilly Mason – Riptide

As this is the first time a shotwithsound post has had a subject, I decided for the first time to select the song to use with him. How’s that for user interaction… Lee is my cousin and has helped to get me into more music than I can remember, so it wasn’t too much of a risk asking him to have a go at this!

After some debate about various unsuitable or just plain awful songs from both of us, he suggested Riptide as it both thematically fits the photo and suits him too. As far as I’m concerned, it is perfect: the song is a folky, lonely lament that makes metaphor with a river’s journey for change, travel and failure.

The picture was taken on a trip we both took to our hometown Christchurch, appropriately by the ocean, very early one morning, and just out of shot under the wall is the river that is being so closely contemplated.

As for the lyrics themselves, seeing as the pair of us live in the city and we’d come home, to the ocean, that much is true – however, I don’t think either of our dreams are chocked out yet though!

Lee has his own band, Breakfast With Wolves, with which he plays bass and sings, you can hear their music over on Myspace: Breakfast With Wolves Hopefully one day soon I will take a photo for one of their songs and ask nicely if I can post it here!

I hope to take some more photos with people in for the blog, but it’s not really my forte, so this might be the last one for a while.

Download the album If The Ocean Gets Rough from Willy Mason - If the Ocean Gets Rough

Get it from Amazon: If The Ocean Gets Rough

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shotwithsound

shotwithsound is a blog about the music I love, with occasional forays into my photography, and other things that catch my eye.

You can see more of my photography on my website www.nicstevenson.com.