Thanks for all your feedback on the White Stripes blog I posted yesterday. If it’s any consolation, I want to hear “Icky Thump” again, too, but it’s under lock and key at the record company HQ and, sadly, I don’t have the time to go over to Ladbroke Grove and get it played to me daily. In response to Lil’s question – if the title track does turn out to be the first single, that would make sense. It’s much more typical of the album than “You Don’t Know What Love Is”, and its sheer sonic clout would be more of an uncompromising statement to return with. My hunch is that Jack White doesn’t worry too much about whether his first single will be “radio-friendly”. The first single is for proving to the fans he still has an edge, the second single is the one that can be the drivetime anthem or whatever. That seems the logical plot.
Anyway, today’s record choice is a bit more obscure. A couple of weeks ago, a colleague emailed me about a folk CD he was compiling. He was looking for recommendations of new English stuff loosely connected with that genre and, knowing that I was up to my neck in the whole acid/free/wyrd-folk scene, thought I might be able to point him in the direction of some cool stuff.
Well, I tried, but it was really hard – especially when I realised he needed English artists, thus disqualifying Alasdair Roberts, for a start. A lot of the UK “nu-folk” (and how I hate that nu prefix) seems like ersatz MOR or indie to me, really bland and uninteresting. Seth Lakeman and Jim Moray have nothing in common with the music I love; the properly psychedelic American stuff like Six Organs Of Admittance which, as Michael here constantly teases me, I always refer to as “feral” in things like this.
Eventually, I came up with the name of James Blackshaw, a terrific raga-ish, John Fahey-ish guitarist from London whose “O True Believers” album was one of my favourites of last year.
But then, about a week ago, a debut album turned up by another London (I think) collective called Voice Of The Seven Woods and it is, I’m pleased to say, fantastic. It has the woody mystique which I love in this music, and a real eclectic spirit which manages to draw lines between Davey Graham-ish fingerpicking and Turkish psychedelia, between Nick Drake confessionals (and on the rare occasions when the anonymous frontman steps up to the mic like “Silver Morning Branches”, he really catches Drake’s spaciness and dislocation, not like the usual MOR singer-songwriters who are compared with him) and Led Zep, between folk and motorik.
The Turkish influence, most prominent on “The Fire In My Head”, is particularly interesting, because there’s been a slew of reissues in the past year or two that have made the late ’60s Anatolian psych scene the hipster equivalent of Tropicalia a year or two back; I can vigorously recommend the Turkish edition of the “Love, Peace & Poetry” compilation series on Shadoks. I suspect this might become a recurring reference point in the next few months: there’s a hint of it on the forthcoming Dungen album, which I’ll write about soon; and Super Furry Animals have been claiming that their forthcoming album will have a Turkish vibe, too. We shall see.
In the meantime, check out Voice Of The Seven Woods’ Myspace. That gig on April 24 in San Francisco with Howlin’ Rain and Citay should be awesome, and I’ll try and make the London show with Espers, for sure.