Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Away From The Numbers - Off the Main Stage at Glastonbury

I couldn't write about anything else even if I tried this week. Glastonbury is dominating all thoughts as we count down to the weekend, and one of the greatest line-ups ever assembled, topped as it is by the mighty Neil Young and Bruce Springsteen. Throwing in the likes of Crosby, Stills & Nash, the Fleet Foxes, the Gaslight Anthem and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and they're just spoiling us.

But away from the main stage, there's the usual array of treats as well, and I wanted to single out a few recommendations if anyone's looking for ideas. Without repeating the quartet of Alessi's Ark, Blue Roses, Emmy The Great, and Alela Diane, all of whom were in Thank Folk It's Friday a couple of weeks ago, here are some bands who should get your attention in Pilton this weekend.

Alberta Cross - Lucy Rider (The Thief & The Heartbreaker, 2007)

The wait for a full-length album has been long since Alberta Cross released their EP two years ago, but it's almost over. When they hit the Park Stage on Sunday afternoon, we can hope to hear plenty of material from the long player, which is slated for release in September. Although formed in London, the band quickly moved themselves to the only place to be in music right now - Brooklyn - and their sound is decidedly American, rooted in the Band and Neil Young (of whom more later).

The Low Anthem - The Horizon Is A Beltway (Oh My God, Charlie Darwin, 2009)

Sticking with the Americana theme, here's one of the buzz bands of the moment as they get set for the full release of their full debut, Oh My God, Charlie Darwin, next week. Able to shift from beautiful sounding gospel to raucous blues without skipping a beat, its a brilliant collection of sounds unlike any album I've previously heard. There seems to be a growing movement right now to go back to the rootsy Americana of the Band (see the Felice Brothers, Alberta Cross, etc). Little could please me more, and this Providence, RI band are right in the middle of it. They'll hit the Queen's Head Stage Friday, and come back for more on the Park Stage on Saturday.

The Broken Family Band - Devil In The Details (Cold Water Songs, 2003)

Yes, it's another slice of Americana, but despite appearances, the Broken Family Band are from Cambridge (England, not Massachusetts). Their sound has evolved on more recent albums, trending towards indie rock on Balls and Hello Love, but as far as my ears are concerned, nothing tops this slice of country from their full-length debut of six years ago. Hear them on the Other Stage, early doors on Saturday.

Sparrow and the Workshop - Devil's Song (Sleight of Hand, 2009)

With the release of their Sleight of Hand EP a couple of weeks ago, Sparrow and the Workshop are starting to earn some serious attention. A rough bio will tell you they're from Glasgow, but that is only half the story as they boast members from Chicago and Wales (obviously) and their diversity manifests itself in a range of styles, from folk and country through to pop and rock. Get on board the bandwagon in the BBC Introducing tent on Friday afternoon.

Broken Records - Until The Earth Begins To Part (Until The Earth Begins To Part, 2009)

More Scottish folk-rock, yes. But this stuff is a little more earnest and high-reaching then their neighbours from down the M8. The seven-piece from Edinburgh set out to avoid being "just another four-piece guitar band" and so throw in violins, accordians, glockenspiels and ukeleles - among others - to mix things up. The result is a soaring, epic sound that is earning them plenty of new fans since their debut came out last month. After playing a set on the Dirty Boots Stage on Friday, they kick off an exciting little stretch on the Queen's Head Stage on Saturday, with Emmy The Great and Noah and the Whale quickly following.

Okay, so there's five from the smaller stages. Now, me being me, I'm going to sign off with this. It needs no introduction or explanation. Only more volume. Enjoy.

Neil Young - Cowgirl In The Sand (Live At The Fillmore East, March 1970, 2006)

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