For the past week or so, my inbox and mailbag have been assailed by labels and PR companies hyping their Tips For 2011, in readiness no doubt for the Brit Newcomer award and the BBC New Artists Poll. Annual frenzies, really, in which a lot of journalists diligently try and help out the music industry by anointing Clare Maguire or whoever as the next Ellie Goulding, and the odd sullen arrested adolescent like me effectively spoils their ballot paper by voting for the likes of Sun Araw.
To be honest, I’m pretty fed up with the whole game already this year, and don’t really see the point in getting involved: much better for us, I think, to let these things emerge in their own time, and to appreciate them in our own time. To that end, today I’m starting an end-of-year series called Slow Previewing; as with the Slow Food Movement, an acknowledgement that some good things need to be given a while before they can be appreciated.
Basically, I have a long list of records that, for whatever reason, I’ve failed to blog about this year: many, like the Avi Buffalo one, that revealed their strengths after more than usual plays.
In a similar sort of vein to Avi Buffalo, then, I can belatedly recommend “Pauper’s Field” by Dylan LeBlanc. On the surface, “Pauper’s Field” is pretty trad Americana, made by a preternaturally mature Muscle Shoals brat. LeBlanc, though, writes lovely tunes and delivers them in an unfussy, not too ostentatiously horny-handed way. I’ve played and enjoyed this one a lot, and have pitched LeBlanc a bit reductively as more or less a Townes Van Zandt for Fleet Foxes (a compliment, incidentally).
Next up, “The Voidist” by Imaad Wasif. Wasif is, if memory serves, an LA scenester who’s figured in lineups of Lou Barlow’s Folk Implosion and The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, as well as putting out a few solo things that have failed to make much of an impression on me. “The Voidist”, though, feels stronger: though it features Dale Crover from The Melvins and one of the Red Sparowes, it’s very much a romantic, old-fashioned rock record, with a distinct whiff of Jeff Buckley. It also reminds me a little of “Prayer Of Death” by Entrance, in the way it somehow amps up freak-folk to Zeppelinish proportions.
Finally, “Chamber Music” by Ballaké Sissoko & Vincent Segal. I’ve listened to a lot of kora music this year, and while this isn’t quite a match for the Ali & Toumani session, say, it’s still very nice: a conservatoire gentrification of Malian tradition – albeit recorded in Mali – that pits Sissoko’s kora up against the cello of French musician Vincent Segal.
Segal mentions the influence of Nick Drake in the notes, and that’s what this one reminds me of most, actually; a series of unlikely but beautiful extrapolations of “River Man”.
More of these soon, but in the meantime, feel free to tell me about your slow pleasures of 2010. No rush, obviously…