folk . americana . blues . r&b . rock&roll


Genre pick of the week Cover of Pink City by Jennifer Castle.
From Toronto, Jennifer Castle writes folk songs about friendship, love and heartbreak.

‘Pink City’ is a stirringly beautiful album every bit a step forward from 2011’s ‘Castlemusic’. Its barer arrangements - often just piano, guitar and voice with string arrangements from Owen Pallet - highlight just how good a songwriter Castle is. Her singing has an intuitive style, not always following the expected melody but soaring along on its own current.

Greil Marcus wrote in The Believer that Castle “reaches a pitch of mystical transport so gorgeously ethereal she seems to drift off into lands that don’t appear on any map.”


Darryl says: Folky tales of friendship, love and heartbreak from Toronto's Jennifer Castle. Delicate and ethereal sparseness.

Tashi Dorji

Tashi Dorji

    First release on Ben Chasny's (Six Organs Of Admittance) label. Tashi Dorji grew up in Bhutan, on the eastern side of the Himalayas. Access to any music created outside the country is limited, as are most cultural options, given the geologically isolation of the country. How Dorji went from a life so remote to developing his innovative and revelatory guitar style is mind-boggling.

    Yearning for access to the world outside, Dorji pursued and obtained a fully-paid scholarship to a liberal arts school in Asheville, NC, in his early twenties. He’s since settled in there (save a short stint in Maine), soaking up a vast array of music, most notably the works of Derek Bailey and John Zorn. Along the way, Dorji developed a playing style unbound by tradition, yet with a direct line to intuitive artistry. His recordings feature improvisations that spasmodically grow along tangential, surprising paths. All references break loose during a composition, as Dorji keys into his own inner world.

    After a handful of cassettes on various labels, Dorji presents his first proper album on Hermit Hut, the label created by Ben Chasny (Six Organs of Admittance) and inspired by spreading word of Dorji’s talents. The six compositions here are hand-picked by Dorji and Chasny as the most representative and far-reaching of his recordings. Taken together, they announce a new guitar music unlike anything being made today.

    T.G. Elias

    Granny Takes Her Last Trip

    "Plymothian troubador TG Elias, aka Tom Elias, has self-produced, written and recorded four solo albums of remarkable quality, with a forthcoming release on Liverpool label Viper Records. The larger than life songwriter brings a sublime blend of Blues, Folk, Country, Soul and Gospel to his unforgettable performances. Backed by blues legend Harmonica Pat and the soothing angelic harmonies of Lucy Ridges, Tom has been described as “something of a folk genius, combining intercontinental sounds with his own brand of homespun romance."

    During his eight-year stint with Hi Records Syl Johnson was in the shadows of both Al Green and Ann Peebles, but with ‘Total Explosion’ he stepped into the spotlight. As this album’s predecessors had Johnson vacillating between being a romantic and a wretch, ‘Total Explosion’ explores his unrepentant side with good results.

    The album’s biggest single was Johnson’s slowed-down take on Green’s ‘Take Me To The River’. Although the religious / sexual imagery is lost in the translation, Johnson does a good job with it.

    The best track, the brilliantly arranged ‘Watch What You Do To Me’ has Johnson playing the role of cuckold and as he sings “I carry my piece, everywhere I go,” it certainly made him more of a menace than a romantic balladeer.

    Backed by the full Muscle Shoals studio band, including the Memphis Horns and Memphis Strings, ‘Total Explosion’ was Johnson’s most successful album at Hi Records and was one of the best in the label’s catalogue.

    Johnny Moore & His New Blazers / Ebonettes

    Bull Frog / Wild Man Walk

    'Bull Frog' is a wild, greasy instrumental romp from Johnny Moore And The Blazers centred around an insistent and totally infectious riff. The guitar twangs and scratches, the sax rasps and honks, the piano tinkles and the rhythm bumps and shakes - what more could you want from an instro?

    On the flipside, a knockabout offering entitled 'Wild Man Walk' from the Ebonites, which comes complete with bongo and grunted interjections. Ugggh!

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