Arborea - Arborea [2008]

Friday, November 28, 2008

1 Forewarned
2 Red Bird
3 Ides of March
4 Seadrift
5 Black Mountain Road
6 Dark Horse
7 Leaves Among the Ruins
8 Dark Is the Night, Cold Is the Wind
9 Swan
10 Echo of Hooves
11 Plains of Macedonia

Arborea is a Maine-based husband and wife duo that creates earthy, spirited music with a hearty nod toward folk music of the past. Really, their music is a strong mix of old-world and American folk traditions, with a smattering of other elements, both modern and antique. For their sophomore album, Buck and Shanti Curran incorporate vocals, guitars, banjo, violin, and percussion into their beautiful works. Their previous album was called "Wayfaring Summer," but this self-titled effort seems to evoke the fall season with its deep, brooding music and melancholy sound. - Foxy Digitalis

Modern Psych Folk. Gorgeous vocals accompanied by haunting melodic banjo, slide guitar, and cello.

I was asked by Arborea's management to remove the link to the full album.
Understandably, they're concerned about people only downloading the album and not bothering to purchase it.
I respect the right of the band to not have their album available for free here, even if it was meant for promotional purposes.
Please go to their myspace page, listen to the samples, and buy the album!

- S.E.

Autumn Grieve - Terra Infinita (EP, 2007)

"Ethereal folk with a classical sensibility". Autumn Grieve is probably my favourite discovery this year, beautiful stuff.

It would be impossible to describe Autumn's music without mentioning Kate Bush - though more from depth of feeling rather than a direct link. Her first release for bedroom-run label Rusted Rail feels deeply feminine, steeped in emotion, offering a unique take on the world of pastoral folk. Autumn's breathy vocals serve as another instrument within the layers of delicate guitar, and careful strings. The result is individuality in a genre that has become heavily loaded of late. Essential. - Rough Trade

Label - Rusted Rail


1 Flown
2 The Balance and the Beauty
3 Today the Rain
4 The Borrowed Light of Memory
Grab the EP here -

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Jack Rose - Kensington Blues (2005)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Something a little more upbeat this time. Jack Rose plays psychedelic ragtime folk in a ridiculously fast and complex fingerpicking style. On a mission to revive the traditions of ragtime, Mr. Rose plays the acoustic guitar like noone else I've ever heard.

His tools are firmly those of the past. While the new century's novel folk has already seen significant definition, Rose is largely alone in talking new century ideas with the old language.
Thus, Kensington Blues is derivative and at the same time nearly brilliant. The styles Rose employs are diverse: twelve-string virtuoso shows, a slide guitar that alludes as much to the sitar as to the blues, solid traditional Takoma ragtime and folk. Out from latter comes a Fahey cover, "Sunflower River Blues", which (not surprisingly) works as the soil from which the rest of the record grows. The original was predicated on Fahey's impeccable timing; Rose's take amplifies the feeling and melody, and then runs with it. Hence the stunning "Kensington Blues", a song full of clarity and syncopation, elegant and well composed. Two others, "Rappahanock River Rag" and "Flirtin' with the Undertaker", are less weighty, more jaunty deliveries of Rose's signature modern ragtime.

But Rose is more than a traditionalist, and the other tracks on Kensington Blues veer sharply into newer territory. "Cathedral et Chartres" uses twelve strings to abstract the melodic clarity so abundant elsewhere on the record, speeding it up and then sending it into a droning, buzzing finale. This idea is fully worked out in his closer, "Calais to Dover", in which Rose transfigures the raga into a kind of Dream Music, deep listening project, vibrating his way past individual notes and sequences and arriving at something more akin to pure tone and texture. The minimalist affinity is no coincidence: Rose's folk is not the least bit free, even as he explores freak sonic terrain, and control is his technique, no matter how many notes he stacks. - Pitchfork

Label: VHF Records/Beautiful Happiness


1 Kensington Blues
2 Cross the North Fork
3 Cathedral et Chartres
4 Rappahanock River Rag (For William Moore)
5 Sunflower River Blues
6 Now That I'm a Man Full Grown II
7 Flirtin' with the Undertaker
8 Calais to Dover
Grab the record here

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Ilona V - Good Morning (Single, 2007)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

It just don't get much more stripped down than this - listening to 'Good Morning' by Ilona V is like stepping into a secret garden where everything is serene and pure, a place devoid of clutter, a life-giving place to re-energise and rejuvenate, an oasis in a parched desert. Accompanied by nothing much other than succulent, punctuative acoustic guitar, a couple of bars of harmonica and cello and the occasional percussive interjection, Ilona lets her beautifully sensitive, gentle voice carry you to a better, more fulfilling place.

'Good Morning' and its two 'B' sides, 'Universe Arms' and ' Who Can Tell?' are like a breath of fresh air in an oppressive smog, a drink from a crystal clear stream when you're surrounded by stagnation and pollution. Ilona V has turned urban, poetic music back on its head - she's returned to basics, to a time when lyrics mattered, to a time of evocative words, sympathetic accompaniment and sparse, empathetic arrangements. Ilona's music may sound a little morose at times but somehow, and I think it's through her musical honesty and sense of downhome-ness, she still manages to be uplifting and refreshing. - Toxic Pete

7" on Bracken Records.


1 Good Morning
2 Universe Arms (Demo)
3 Who Can Tell? (Demo)
If you're quick, you can still get a copy of this 7" single from Bracken Records

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