Best Of September 2017 by Karousel Music
Acts from the September 2017 Richer Unsigned playlist have been chosen by Karousel Music. Karousel Music is a London based not for profit organisation dedicated to promoting a better environment for songwriters, artists and budding music business pros. It is formed of a collective of musicians, songwriters and music industry professionals.
Take a listen to their 12 picks and read all about them below. You can also listen to the full Richer Unsigned playlist on Spotify or Deezer
Pat Dam Smyth
Northern Irishman Pat Dam Smyth has just released his Goodbye Berlin EP ahead of a new record next year. His first album The Great Divide was heralded by all who heard it as a classic four years back, and everyone who has seen the live show for the new album is expecting this to send him in to the stratosphere. Goodbye Berlin is a song that is about, in his words, ‘disappearing down the rock n roll rabbit hole’, about overcoming the dark times, and many of the songs on the EP are a mixture of lyrically deft story telling and raw, powerful emotion. The other single from the EP Juliette also enjoyed a wealth of airplay and Goodbye Berlin is a wonderful follow up. If you like lead track Goodbye Berlin, check out Blue Lights, a song about his first ever gig in the 90’s Northern Ireland of The Troubles. The band started the song with a full crowd, and opened their eyes halfway through to see an empty room and a soldier waving madly to evacuate them for a bomb scare; or Emily, a song about a famous actress who lives across the way in East London, who he finds dancing in magazines and on the TV screen, but knows from seeing her in real life how deceptive appearances can be. A songwriter and story teller straight from the top drawer, Pat and the band have a momentum that will hopefully take them where they deserve to be. Here’s what a few people had to say about the recent releases Juliette and Goodbye Berlin:
“Furious and fierce… a little bit of My Morning Jacket, a little bit of Beck in there… a little bit of Nick Cave too. Just the holy trinity really, isn’t it?” – Roddy Hart, BBC Radio Scotland
“Brilliant Stuff” – Lauren Laverne
“Reminds me of Pink Floyd… epic!” – Cerys Matthews
English Songwriter Ralegh Long released his debut album “Hoverance” to critical acclaim in 2015. An album of “spooky pastoralism”, it and its follow-up E.P “We Are in the Fields” (2016) won praise from The Guardian, for their “twilit ambience and demented beauty” and from Sky Arts as “calling to mind the atmosphere of Nick Drake”. Tracks received radio play from BBC6 Music presenters Lauren Laverne, Guy Garvey and Gideon Coe. To date, Long has over 2 million plays on Spotify.
His second full-length album, “Upwards of Summer” (on his own Make It New Records / Kartel Music Group 2017) won the top HMUK / Pledge Music Emerging Artists Award and was heralded by CLASH as ‘the sound of an artist revitalised and brimming with enthusiasm’ – a triumphant ending to the story for an album that very nearly never happened. At the end of 2016, worn out and disillusioned from constant touring, Long found himself wondering whether he would continue making music. Instead, he tackled the burn-out by writing, “remembering what it what it felt like to pick up a guitar for the first time, and tapping into that place of instinct”. He then took these songs into the studio with his touring band and regular C0-producer Margo Broom (Fat White Family, Phobophobes, Goat Girl) for a one-week stint – a liberating process he credits with “healing [his] relationship with music.” Long says, “I didn’t doubt, I didn’t second guess, I just trusted myself and I trusted those around me.’ The resulting album is a revelation. The piano, strings and woodwind of his debut are nowhere to be seen, exchanged for a jangle of chorus guitars and anthemic hooks that make up a thrillingly confident return – a powerful set of songs exploring the binaries of frustration and excitement, youth and age, restlessness and homesickness.
The first single, “Take Your Mind Back”, immediately landed on Spotify’s The Indie List, and was picked up by Elton John for his Beats1 Radio show. Full of Long’s customary cinematic sense of wonder, Upwards of Summer is nonetheless imbued with a keen energy that takes his music to a whole new level. Sleeping on My Dreams is the brilliant second single.
“He seems incapable of sitting at a piano and coming up with anything that doesn’t tremble with almost mystical longing … you’ll be reminded variously of Nilsson, early Todd Rundgren, even Alex Chilton at his most overwrought and wracked.” The Guardian
“A great song” Elton John, Beats 1
No Horizon was inspired by the traumatic events around the Syrian crisis. The first lines are words Marie heard on the news – a father speaking amidst a reunion with his children after crossing the Mediterranean on a crowded boat. She says “It just hit my heart to see his shiny eyes, and to know that they are not welcome – that their life, laughter and future aren’t seen as worth as much as mine.” A writer who has a way of saying the hardest things in the most beautiful way.
Having been nominated for Denmark’s prestigious Gaffa award for Best Female Artist twice in three years in 2012 and 2014; and having been the recipient of the Bands of Tomorrow ‘Pop Artist Of The Year’ award in 2013, Penny Police’s releases to date have been showered with four and five star reviews across the board that laud her musicality, and her ability to conjure melodies so light, pure and delicately delivered as though they were made from the hydrogen atoms teased from a teardrop.
With her personalised brand of poetic and ambient art-pop, Marie Fjeldsted (aka Penny Police) is an artist so steeped in empathy, warmth and humanity you’d be forgiven for thinking she’d seen the inside of your private journal. Her warm, almost whispery voice gently guides the listener through her ballads, songs which are often based on found footage: conversations overheard, television clips – pieces otherwise forgotten. Her song ‘I Do Care’ was used by the NSPCC for their TV ad for the Safe and Sound campaign.
‘No Horizon’ has been gaining P6 plays in Denmark and praiseworthy quotes from the likes of The Line Of Best Fit and Amazing Radio in the UK. It’s taken from the forthcoming highly anticipated ‘Penny Police’ EP due out later this year. Still somehow unsigned in the UK, she is working with the boutique but very cool Antiphonics in Denmark. She’ll be over here for some shows in November.
“That unique voice grabs your attention… Immaculately produced… oh-so delicate, elegant and tender. It’s pristine Nordic pop at its very best.” – Record of the Day
“Sweeping and majestically sad… a beautiful song it’s all too easy to identify with…” – The Line of Best Fit
Bloom self released ‘What is Life’ on 2 colour vinyl in October 2016 and have developed a cult following of fans who love their cosmic inspired, synth tinted, melody fuelled songs finding wonder and hope in the darkest mental corners. Fronted by best friends and vocal harmony weavers Emily Cluley and Megan Clifton, the creative collaboration of these unusual writers, together with their decade-long working relationship with rhythm section Jamie Keogh (drums) and Scott Jones (bass) creates a unique and powerful sound that has finally see them start to break through. Amazingly feel good album, with clever time signatures snuck in under the surface, joyous melodies and real lyrics.
‘Astral space pop worthy of Bjork’ The Quietus
A blissful audioscape worth exploring. – ART NOISE
If there’s a cooler track for a hot summer in the city, then bring it on. The lyric is worthy of Bukowski or TS Eliot, and the music is up there with the best of Ronnie Scott’s in the midst of the swinging 60’s. Charlie Wood is a singer/songwriter and keyboardist whose eclectic musical style incorporates elements of jazz, blues, traditional r&b and popular music. Born and raised in Memphis, TN, Wood’s early musical development was steeped in the blues and R&B music of his hometown. At seventeen, he headed down to New Orleans, spending several years soaking up the exotic piano traditions and lush lifestyle of the Big Easy.
Charlie’s early twenties found him on the road as keyboard player for legendary blues guitarist Albert King, with whom he toured the US and Europe. Returning to his hometown, Wood soon established a long-standing residency at King’s Palace on Memphis’ historic Beale Street, performing nightly with his Hammond organ trio for many years. The gig became known to touring musicians and locals alike, attracting impromptu sit-ins from B.B. King, Georgie Fame, Joey DeFrancesco, George Coleman, Mulgrew Miller, Alvin Batiste, and many others.
In October 2014, Wood became the 136th recipient of a Brass Note on Beale Street, the Memphis equivalent of a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Previous recipients include such musical luminaries as Al Green and Isaac Hayes.
Another world class artist releasing on his own label, Charlie Wood is the musicians’ musician.
“Remember the first time you heard Dylan, or Springsteen, or Costello, or Waits? Charlie Wood delivers that same jolt.” – Jazz Times
“I fell in love with this man’s voice the moment I heard it. He is the essence of soul and blues. I am so lucky to have sung on the same stage as him.” – Paloma Faith
The Family Silver
Founded by three of the UK’s most influential and highly respected musicians, The Family Silver comprises Matt Deighton (Mother Earth, Paul Weller, Oasis and Bill Fay) on guitar and vocals, bassist Damon Minchella (Ocean Colour Scene, Richard Ashcroft, The Who) and master drummer Steve White (Style council, Paul Weller, Ian Dury and Jon Lord).
‘Electric Blend’ features 12 superbly crafted original songs delivered with the entire musical prowess you’d expect from three musicians who have made a significant contribution to British popular music over the past 30 years. The album has been compared to the very best of what these musicians have achieved with the refreshing return of classic British songwriting, ‘tempered with space and dimension as a meticulously put together tract of sound in an age when class-A playing is often overlooked’ (Jason Holmes, Huffington Post) Coming together to take centre stage at last, The Family Silver have drawn upon and garnered their talent, top-flight pasts and experiences to make a record that serves as a reminder of what today’s music scene is missing. However, they have also hatched a novel plan that has seen the modern medium of crowd funding empower them with full creative control and a route to market that engages with existing and
attracts new music fans directly.
The Family Silver achieved 140% of their original funding target along with the band’s plans to work outside of the box using new ways to present and promote their music both live and on record. This track is one of the standouts from the debut album – and another is already on the way with a potential release early next year… watch this space!
HE IS A PEGASUS
There’s not so much written yet on young new hotshot He Is A Pegasus, aka David Butler. This Coventry based singer songwriter has been packing out shows in the midlands, including some highlight shows at the Cathedral there. His first track out there on Spotify is a stunning recording that moves from Jeff Buckley to hints of Muse, while retaining a fragility and angst that you simply can’t fake. A brilliant lyric and a frantic climax that gives you an idea of how fantastic the rest of the EP will be. There’s echoes of Bon Iver in there too. He is A Pegasus is definitely one to keep an eye on.
Having released a record as one part of the Bench Connection, and having made a record as ‘Moths’ with Mark Brydon (Moloko), Chris Sheehan disappeared from making records to co found Karousel Music and give the artists the support network he didn’t have as an artist. Here’s one of the tracks from his first record that remained unsigned to this day.
The Magic Lantern
The Magic Lantern is an artist dedicated to remedying the anxiety and fear present in everyone. Currently recording his third album ‘To The Islands’, Jamie Doe is a rising star of London’s diverse music scene with 2016 seeing him as at home performing with Jamie Cullum at the BBC Proms as singing on Mercury Nominated folk artist Sam Lee’s ‘Lovely Molly’ winning ‘Best Traditional Track’ at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards.
His forthcoming album ‘To The Islands’ was written during a tumultuous journey to Australia, after nearly 10 years away and explores memory, hope and anxiety in a world of near constant uncertainty. Working with a full band for the first time in 4 years and reunited with producer Fred Thomas, the album promises to be his most ambitious musical statement to date. ‘To The Islands’ is due for release in early 2018. In the meantime, Somebody told Me is one of his most popular tracks to date. A mystery how he is unsigned, but he won’t be for long if there’s any justice.
“Very, very special” – Lauren Laverne, BBC 6 Music
“Intriguing, compelling and exceptional. A man to watch” – The Guardian
In a bleak musical winter of digipop, autotune and talent show clones, Samantha Whates is one of those rare artists that ignites little bonfires beneath your ribcage and sings you something about yourself while the fire burns. A voice so warm and pure you’d be forgiven for thinking you were out in the wind wrapped up in merino wool and drowning in chocolate.
Currently still officially unsigned, she is midway though making a new album with the help of new not-for-profit venture Monk’s Road, a place where great artists so far overlooked by the mainstream industry can get some support to make stunning records. And boy, is she!
For fans of acts like First Aid Kit, Nina Nastasia, Laura Viers and Susanna And The Magical Orchestra, Samantha is a lost piece of the jigsaw. She writes songs in a way that is precisely hers: Musically moving where she wants to go whenever she feels like it, and sometimes never coming back; while all the time lyrically drawing you a map and walking along beside you through her story. The much lauded Dark Nights Make For Brighter Days album, which she recorded live in a couple of days up in her native Scotland, is a sparkling, atmospheric, and emotionally brave record that drew nothing but praise from exactly the kind of people she’d want it from – Bob Harris opining on BBC Radio 2 that it was “…really, the most beautiful album…” and Tom Robinson on BBC 6 Music echoing the sentiment describing it as “… just gorgeous…”. Live, she has that knack of tying a squadron of helium balloons to the more serious songs by being so irrepressible and likeable in the moments between them. You won’t be the first to leave the show feeling like you just met your new best friend.
Always in demand to guest on records (she’s featured on several Blue Rose Code releases) she was also asked to record the vocal for the Barclays Premier League YouAreFootball TV and online advertising campaign – winning Best Bespoke Music in Advertising at the Shots Awards a few years back.
Trees and Gold/Icicle is a collaboration with James McArthur & The Head Gardeners, a three piece band she borrowed for these songs. The result is a golden weave of pedal steel, guitar and that voice.
It is a rare miracle to come across a cave so rich in jewels as the one beneath Ida Wenøe’s ribcage. While she has an obvious appreciation of Americana, her sound is very definitely laced with more English undertones: the kind of sound Edward Woodward might have heard downstairs in the local inn had the Wicker Man been filmed in a remote Danish village, while Sarah Lund scoured for clues in her jumper. Like the best of the Nordic Noir leaving the Danish mainland, the recordings are at once both sonically pure and grimy; there’s a shared loneliness that makes you feel that you’re not at all; and all the while there is an honesty to the songwriting that tugs at your sleeve. While her grasp of English is second nature, there’s some of those intriguing turns of phrase that only a heart that dreams in another language can weave. Sure, she has the usual credible influences from Vashti to Joni, from Neil Young to Danish folk hero Sebastian; and there’s hints of Sandy Denny and Linda Perhacs. But to list artists she sounds like would be to miss the point entirely. As anyone who has witnessed a live show can attest, Ida Wenøe is very definitely Ida Wenøe. As Carsten Holm at Danish Radio P6 Beat put it, “she has an icy, almost Icelandic timbre. I haven’t heard this in any other Danish artist… an incredibly strong vocal…” God Is In The TV Zine went on to say her voice “boasts angelic notes which can often leak her endearing Danish roots…”
She was nominated for a Danish Music Award as “Folk Songwriter of the Year” and her music was used in DR (National TV) documentary “De Smukke Piger” and in February 2017 Wenøe played Folk Alliance in Kansas City for the second time, and found new exciting collaborators for a future US release.
On April 7th 2017 “Time of Ghosts” will be released in the UK through Shellshock Distribution / The Orchard, on her own label. Ida will be returning in April for a full UK tour.
“… a childlike fragility that makes the songs sound like whimsical folk for fairy tales with a sinister undertow. Her voice – weary but cute, with the power to cut through – is perfect; she sounds like the young narrator of her own magical-malevolent fantasies…” The Guardian
“Bewitching acid folk with a deeply personal edge.” Clash Magazine
Am I Song is the heartbreaking closer to the critically acclaimed Wake Up The Moths by British folk’s most enigmatic lost son. You may recognise Matt Deighton from his time fronting Acid Jazz heroes Mother Earth; you may remember him as Paul Weller’s guitarist in the late 90’s, or Noel Gallagher’s recommendation for who should replace him when he quit the European tour in 2000. Or maybe you don’t. For the past decade, the man they keep calling the natural successor to Nick Drake, Davey Graham and John Martyn has been himself more of a rumour – a murmur among musicians, songwriters and diehard music lovers who proudly display his rare vinyl releases like trophies. The list of articles in the press and online has continued unabated, forever asking the same question: Where is Matt Deighton? As the Huffington Post discovered in their recent piece ‘The Resurrection of Matt Deighton’: He’s back. Since his 90’s days in Mother Earth, Matt has been inexplicable unsigned, but always recording the most stunning records.
For those prospectors looking to pan the stream for a British Sugar Man, Matt’s discography shines like a diamond among the silt. ‘Villager’ was the subject of a recent Mojo ‘Buried Treasure’ feature and is oft hailed as a British folk classic; The Common Good is strewn with British music glitterati such as Paul Weller, Steve White, Mick Talbot and Marco Nelson; and the stunning You Are The Healer features Brian Auger among others. Matt is one of those rare artists that musicians simply want to be associated with. Tom Cox, who reviewed Wake Up The Moths, where this track comes from, for the Observer Music Monthly recently remarked in the sleeve notes for the vinyl reissue that his only regret when reviewing the album was that he felt his ‘measly four out of five star rating did it a disservice’. Add to that the four stars from Q and Mojo for his collaboration with Chris Sheehan ‘The Bench Connection’ in 2007 and you start to get the picture. That’s to say nothing of collaborations with Chris Difford, Dr John and Mighty Baby,
Having spent years trying to convince Bill Fay to come out of retirement – which resulted in the heavily critically acclaimed Life Is People released a couple of years back (Matt assembled the band and played lead) he accidentally convinced himself back in to the studio at the same time. having discovered lost tapes of his album with Squeeze legend Chris Difford, he has now also completed a new album with Monk’s Road featuring Attractions legend Steve Nieve and one of the industry’s finest players Ben Trigg, among others. Yes, Matt Deighton is back, and as the Sunday Times declared – “…it’s impossible to imagine fans of Nick Drake of John Martyn not falling in love with him…”
” A singer-songwriter whose records, listened to afresh and from the remove of many years, come to the listener like treasure unearthed. He’s a man who for too long has remained undercover, turned in on himself, gone missing. But he’s back… One of this country’s best kept secrets… (who) with no small amount of brilliance wrote a little-known chapter of British musical history…” The Huffington Post