Thursday, 18 February 2010

The Folk Revival, Revival.

The 1960s saw an unprecedented revival in folk music in the United States, fueled by student culture coming to grips with difficult social issues they felt strongly about.  The discovery of music by American folk musicians such as Woody Guthrie & Pete Seeger, who's politically charged songs resinated as much if not more in the 1960s as they had in the 1930s.  The 60s saw the Folk become intertwined with the Civil Rights Movement and the Anti Vietnam protests.  Tom Paxton, Pete Seeger & Peter, Paul & Mary, Joan Baez & Bob Dylan (pictured left) , and countless others began work on a body of songs that have stood the test of time, discussing the difficult topics of race, social strife and nuclear war.

As the 60s slid into the 70s this revival of the Folk mutated into Folk Rock with bands like The Byrds and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young (pictured right.) blending Folk melody and vocal harmonies with Rock's electric guitars and drums.  By the mid 70s this Folk Rock sound had become a comercialised stereotype of it's self with band's like The Eagles working to the Country/Folk Rock formula.  By the end of the 70s the Folk Revival had petered out and returned to the shaddows.

Mirroring the resurgence in Americ, the British Folk scene gained new momentum with the late Davy Graham (pictured left)astounding listeners with his eastern twinged folk arrangements of Traditional & original compositions.  He pioneered the use of the DADGAD guitar tuning.  Opening a whole new avenue to guitarists in the 60s.
Graham along with groups like Pentangle and other solo artists like Bert Jansch & Nick Drake.

But whereas in America Folk music just sat on the back burner, with hundreds of dedicated Radioshows, Folk slipped from the mainstream in England.  However it's back. The London 'Nu-Folk' scene has spawned a whole slew of Bands that have risen to prominence including Noah & The Whale, Laura Marling (below),

Mumford & Sons, Emmy the Great, Alessi's Ark & Johnny Flynn and the Sussex Wit to name afew.  Noah & The Whale's 2005 debut album charted at #5 in the UK, While the Mumford & Son's (pictured below) debut charted at #7.  But the charts mearly indicate the trend, the music of this Folk Revival - Revial has been critically acclaimed.  Laura Marling was recently described as 'a female Bob Dylan' - praise doesn't get much higher than that for a songwriter.

I find it interesting to note the influences of these bands.  While London bands like Mumford & Son's draw heavily from American roots music other bands like The Unthanks, from Northumberland, draw from traditional English folk music. I think this resurgence in popularity for this kind of music is great and the diversity of the music being produced is inspiring.

Folk music is dead.  Long live folk music.

Thursday, 11 February 2010

The First Review of 'The Sea'

 The Sea is Matt Moss’ first foray into the solo acoustic world and damn is it a successful one. The EP is short and sweet and contains upbeat songs like “The Sea” and “Love me More” and the darker stuff like “Half Empty Glass.”

The EP builds nicely in excitement and intensity, a rare thing these days, which is hard thing to do. It does have the benefit though of no songs sounding the same as the one it follows. Lyrically the EP is quite impressive, "The Sea" (the song) perfectly seems to convey the emotions of a troubled long distance love affair. Moss played every single instrument on this production and the fact that they all blend well is quite an achievement.

On the other hand, in some tracks the mix feels a bit full which detracts from the emotions in the songs. The final song on the EP also drags a little but oddly didn’t in my first listen and that was when I wasn’t being critical. A great song to get lost in.
I look forward to the debut album.

By James Butler.
More of James' reviews are well worth a look and can be found on his blog here:

An Interview with... Me

I haven't interviewed myself that would be slightly egocentric! But when my EP was released a couple of days ago the label I'm on asked me some promotional questions here they are in full:

1. When not making music what do you do?

I’m a history student at Liverpool University, UK so that takes up a lot of my time, I also teach people to play the guitar which is pretty satisfying, but not as satisfying as writing music.

2. What was the first album you ever bought?

I’m having to think really hard about this. It might have been an Oasis album? Or it could have been Bob Dylan’s Highway 61 Revisited, I think it was Oasis, Dylan came later.

3. Who are your biggest influences?

I’ve had so many different phases of influence, when ever I discover new music it seems to spark something new in me when I’m writing songs. I’d have to say the band that made me want to pick up the guitar was Led Zeppelin; Jimmy Page is a brilliant guitarist. Zeppelin’s acoustic stuff like Hats off to Roy Harper, Bron Yr Aur and Battle of Evermore led me to folk music. I found Bob Dylan, he’s probably one of my biggest influences his lyric’s ability to create imagery are incredible. Neil Young too he’s in the same league as Dylan for me.

4. Favourite piece of equipment, software or instrument for getting your

I’d be lost without my guitar I'm rarely parted from it. Software wise Steinberg’s Cubase 5 is what lets me capture everything I make.

5. What is the biggest challenge you face in getting your music out?

The biggest challenge is getting it to the people who want to hear it, I’m on most of the major social networking sites. For a long time even my friends didn’t know I wrote music. But I found Myspace a few years ago and that changed things. But I think lately Myspace has been in decline so I’m trying to find new ways of making my music available. It’s a matter of the people who are passionate about music, discovering you I have to make it as easy as possible for them.

6. What was the most memorable party you have ever played at or been to?

The most memorable place I ever played was a festival in Liverpool, my band played a set in the pouring rain, in front of maybe a dozen people but that didn’t matter it was probably the first time I enjoyed playing live.

7. What's your opinion on the current copy right system, is it working
or does it need to go?

I think the music industry as a whole is suffering from a lot of problems. The copy right system we have at the moment does need some reform. I think the Creative commons license concept is great though. Things have to be fair, fair to the consumer and the musicians making the music.

8. If you weren't making music what would be your outlet?

I used to like art in high school and I often thought about studying art at college. I like creative writing too, short stories that sort of thing. So maybe I’d try those.

9. Where do you want to be in 5 years time?

Ideally I’d like to be making music, whether it’s paying my bills or not isn’t really important at the moment. I’m studying for a degree so that’s my fall back.

10. Anything else you want to tell people?

Hmm. I guess if you’ve read this you’re interested in my music and who I am so thank you very much.


My EP is available to preview now along with 2 free downloads.  It's on sale for just £2, please go and download the free tracks!   CLICK HERE NOW

Monday, 8 February 2010

My New EP - The Sea

It's been released today on Binary Indy, it's available here

Here's the spiel from Binary:  "The Sea is a wonderfully honest EP of British Folk and acoustic music. Combining Low-fi recording techniques with his own soulful instrumentals and vocals Matt has created something reminiscent of early Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground. If you like wispy vocals, acoustic guitars and soulful vocals this one is for you."   (I thought it was very flattering)

Basically this is my first proper EP, I'm very proud of it, even though there are lots of little things I pick up on that I'd like to change.  But I'm like that with a lot of things!  I'd just like people to hear it, it documents a section through my life.  I really enjoyed making it, I'm working on the next one as we speak, if you click the link you can listen to previews of all 5 tracks and download 2 free ones.  For £2 you can buy the whole thing, I hope you enjoy what you hear.  That's the main thing.

Available here.