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Genre pick of the week Cover of Seasonal Hire by Steve Gunn & The Black Twig Pickers.

Steve Gunn & The Black Twig Pickers

Seasonal Hire

Steve Gunn & The Black Twig Pickers are key figures in the current resurgence of American traditional and folk music. Gunn’s songwriting and inventive guitar playing are driven by his restless mind, having released 9 solo and collaborative albums and appearing as a guest on nearly as many since his debut in 2007.

The Black Twig Pickers play a fervent form of traditional music from their Appalachian homeland. The group perform often forgotten traditional songs, especially from their Virginia stomping-ground, creating a living history of old time music. They also have an ongoing residency at the legendary Floyd Country Store.

‘Seasonal Hire’ is a collaborative album between Steve Gunn and The Black Twig Pickers that combines Gunn’s circular, meditative guitar playing with the Twigs’ energetic mastery of old time instrumentation.

‘Seasonal Hire’ collects four original tunes and one traditional piece, with Gunn and The Black Twig Pickers’ Mike Gangloff and Sally Anne Morgan all taking turns with lead vocal and songwriting. Like all of the Twigs’ albums it was recorded live, without overdubs or amplification. Gunn fell right in with this aesthetic and threw down guitar parts like he’d been sparring with banjos and fiddles for years.

The majority of the album was recorded at Joseph Dejarnette’s Studio 808a in rural Topeco, Virgina, where Gunn and Gangloff recorded ‘Melodies For A Savage Fix’, an improvisational masterpiece of pan-cultural meditations. Echoes of ‘Melodies…’ can be heard on ‘Seasonal Hire’’s titular b-side, an extended, beautiful ramble equally indebted to old time music and Indian ragas. Additional recording was done closer to Gunn’s native New York at the famed Black Dirt Studios, home for many groundbreaking records by artists such as Charlie Parr, Jack Rose, Bill Orcutt, Expo 70 and Tom Carter.


LP Info: LP version pressed on virgin vinyl and packaged with an artworked innersleeve and download coupon. Initial copies pressed on limited translucent yellow vinyl, remaining copies on black.

CD Info: CD version in 4 panel mini-LP style gatefold package.


Cumbia De Donde

    The first taster of the new Calexico album, comes in the shape of this limited edition 7" which comes in a hand stamped sleeve.

    It flows nicely on from their (poppier) last couple of albums, but also harks back to earlier releases, with a distinct latin feel and nice little brass blasts. It's more upbeat than say, The Black Light or Hot Rail but still has a dusty, South American charm. 

    Can't wait for the album now!

    Every artist has a piece of work that niggles them - something that they wish they could redo, given the chance. It’s why Paul McCartney once reproduced Let It Be and why Kate Bush re-recorded Wuthering Heights for her best-of album. For the prolific Michael Chapman, that album is Window, the missing link in the series of Chapman’s early albums being reissued by Light In The Attic Records. Window sits just after the previously released Fully Qualified Survivor and Rainmaker, right before Wrecked Again.
    In 1970, signed to the hip Harvest label (home to Kevin Ayers and Syd Barrett, among others), Chapman was still an artist waiting for that first big success, perpetually skint and permanently touring to make ends meet. With that in mind, he aimed to make Window in as little time as possible because being in the studio meant not being on the road. Producer Gus Dudgeon–who’d been working with Elton John–had other ideas and booked Chapman and his band into one of the UK’s most expensive studios, Trident.

    The singer-songwriter and prodigious guitarist was in transition from his folkier origins to his heavier future and heading for a whole mess of trouble with the same year’s Wrecked Again. Given the touring bust-ups and tortured recording sessions to come, Michael’s wife Andru Chapman remembers the recording of Window was noted for a “lack of hiccups. No one threw their toys out of the pram, unlike Wrecked Again.” Recorded with U.S. guitar player Phil Greenberg, violin player Johnny Van Derek, and pianist Alex Atterson, the album has a blend of electric and acoustic instruments, both traditional and experimental at once, synthetic sounds melding with finger-picked guitars.

    The trouble came later. Immediately after recording finished, Michael took the band back out on the road with the understanding that as soon as he got back, he’d put the final acoustic guitar tracks down to replace what he’s always said were only guide tracks. Unfortunately, Harvest’s parent label decided the album was finished and pressed it up anyway. And Chapman, as a result, hates it. Indeed, 34 years later he even set out to right the wrong, re-recording parts of the LP and noting it was a strange experience listening to “dead people on the between-track studio chatter” (Dudgeon, engineer Robin Cable, and drummer Richie Dharma have all since passed).

    As part of Light In The Attic’s revival of Chapman’s early career, however, the album is presented as was originally released, with Michael's blessing and albeit with two CD-only bonus tracks. Andru notes, "Warts and all, it is an important part of the Michael Chapman: The Early Years story.” Michael has been less diplomatic in talking about the album. "It is a piece of my history for those interested in that, even though I think it sounds like a piece of crap,” he says.


    LP Info: LP housed in a deluxe Stoughton gatefold “tip-on” jacket.

    Julee Cruise

    Floating Into The Night - Music On Vinyl Edition

    “Floating Into The Night” is the 1989 debut album by vocalist Julee Cruise featuring songs written and produced by composer Angelo Badalamenti and film director David Lynch (who wrote the lyrics). The songs "Falling" and "Rockin' Back Inside My Heart" were both featured in Lynch's cult television series Twin Peaks, while "Into the Night", "The Nightingale" and "The World Spins" also appeared in the show. The instrumental version of “Falling” was the theme song for Twin Peaks while the album as a whole is almost an unofficial soundtrack to the series. The track “Mysteries Of Love” was prominently featured in Lynch’s classic film Blue Velvet. Cruise’s dreamy, light vocals match perfectly with the music and lyrics to make this album sound like it is unattached to any era or time. Reissued on 180 gram vinyl with a double sided insert

    16 previously unreleased early home recordings.

    Iron And Wine’s five full length albums have sold over 1 million copies to date.

    First in a series, Sam Beam will be gathering otherwise unreleased home recordings, covers, live sets and curiosities from his entire career as Iron And Wine and releasing them on his own Black Cricket Recording Co. label.

    This first release taps into a set of songs created before Sam was Iron And Wine. These 16 songs came to life at the same time as those selected for Iron And Wine’s debut album ‘The Creek Drank The Cradle’ (Sub Pop, 2002 - 197K sales to date).

    Performed and recorded at home on a 4-track cassette.

    Digitally transferred from the original cassettes and packaged in gatefold artwork featuring the ‘Bird Of Paradise Quilt Top’ (licensed from the American Folk Art Museum).

    Tom Zé is a songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, innovator and composer who was hugely influential in the Tropicália movement of 1960s Brazil. Zé is often thought of as Brazil’s answer to Zappa or Captain Beefheart; a true innovator and a true artist.

    Mr Bongo re-issued Zé’s debut record ‘Grande Liquidicao’ originally released in 1968. This, his second solo album, is self-titled, and was released by RGE Discos in 1970.

    After the peak of the Tropicália period, Zé went into relative obscurity. It was only in the 1990s, when musician and Luaca Bop label founder David Byrne discovered an album recorded by Zé many years earlier, that he returned to performing and releasing new material.

    Continuing in a similar musical vein to Grande Liquidicao, ‘Tom Ze’ is a wonderful combination of guitars, layered of percussion and tough rock ’n’ roll, underpinned by Ze’s instantly reconisable vocal.

    Ze is infact one of Brazil’s most sampled artists. ‘Jimmy, renda-se’ has one of the most recognisable intro’s you will hear so it was no great surprise that Ameriie sampled it for her smash ‘Take Control’.

    All in all, another essential record from a true legend of Brazilian music.

    This Mr Bongo reissue is manufactured in Japan, presented in a super high quality card sleeve with replica original artwork. The CD is presented in a 4-page digi pack.

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