I thought I’d do something a little different today (er, next week, because I’m doing that time-travelling post thing) and talk about music. I’ve got hugely diverse music taste, mostly because I enjoy anything that reminds me of my characters, but I also have a tendency to go through phases of obsession with a band and then not listen to them for two years.
A friend of mine was responsible for introducing me to both Laura Marling and Emily Barker & The Red Clay Halo (because of which artists Spotify then recommended Moulettes), so I recommended The Fallows yesterday, and she absolutely loved their songs. The feeling of introducing someone to music they adore is such a good feeling. It’s like giving a compliment on a huge scale — it’ll last, and I’ll know that I’ve made somebody happy over and over again, even if they don’t consciously associate me with that music.
So, in order to revel in that sense of self-congratulation and cheerfulness, I decided to recommend some music. All of this is kind of folky / folk-inspired. Click on the artist name for a Spotify link, if you’re a Spotify user. :)
Back when I was about thirteen and trying to learn some traditional folk music to replace the ‘boring’ Classical violin pieces I’d been trained to play, I spent many hours on YouTube watching fiddle players, including one who wasn’t much older than me, called Neil. I don’t know how it took me until now to find out that he was in a band called The Fallows (I previously bought the album he created with a band called Tri), but now that I have, I’m delighted.
My favourite of their albums would be Liars & Kings, although Face The Wolves is definitely quite Laura Marling-esque, and is the one that I recommended to my friend. Of all their songs, I can’t pick a favourite — Liars & Kings is hugely energetic and great for exercising, but Cast The First Stone reminds me a lot of one of my characters, as does We Are The Hunted. And Red has some French lyrics which ought to be cheesy, but somehow isn’t (and reminds me of one of the relationships in the Death and Fairies series).
My favourite album is probably still Despite The Snow, but I have to admit that Dear River makes for great journey music, because it’s upbeat and energising. I’ve played it on a couple of car journeys so far, and my parents don’t dislike it, which puts it in a category apart from most of the music I listen to. I’m also a big fan of Fields Of June, which isn’t on the albums, but it’s a collaboration with Frank Turner, and it’s great.
I love the percussive effect of the pizzicato strings in Storm In A Teacup, but I also adore the lyrics to Ropes. While I was in Scotland last year I was listening to Witch Of Pitteweem a lot — didn’t expect to find out that we were pretty close to Pitteweem itself! And I love that the copy of the CDs I have (which my uncle bought from a small indie store, and they’re beautiful) has alternate versions to some of the songs.
Moulettes are not quite as folky as these two, just because they use more technological effects and their music doesn’t really fit into a genre. But there’s nothing wrong with that! They’ve still got some awesome fiddle solos going on, particularly in Assault, and some great lyrics. One of my favourites is Are You Going Away To Sea? because it’s a whole story in itself, but Devil Of Mine is also great. I have songs of theirs on almost all my character playlists.
I can’t choose which of their albums I like best — their newest album, however, is something I’m still quite undecided about. Do I like it? Am I not as keen? I’ll have to listen to it a few more times to decide (I only found it yesterday), but so far I am loving the track The Night Is Young, so if nothing else, that’s a good song.
A more melancholy band than the others, Radical Face have a lot of songs that I associate with characters and relationships, including some heartbreaking tracks like Letters Home. Meanwhile, Always Gold and Black Eyes remind me strongly of certain characters that I can’t disclose because of spoilers (and mostly because you’d have no idea what I was talking about).
They’re not a band to listen to when you’re feeling sad, because they will not cheer you up, but they provide a kind of melancholic angst that’s useful to me for writing, and sometimes prompts me to be quite reflective. Sometimes it just makes me sad. It kind of depends on the day of the week.
Weirdly, I’m not a massive fan of the singers’ voices, but I love the songs themselves, and in some situations the annoyance factor is smaller than the omh dat lyric factor, so they slip through. Their songs consistently make me cry about characters, including Dust To Dust, Poison & Wine, Talking In Your Sleep, and Devil’s Backbone. Again, somewhat melancholy, although not in quite the same way.
Plus, their cover of You Are My Sunshine is deliciously tragic, and I’m trying to learn to play the harmonies they’ve created on the harp, because it’s awesome.
Back to awesome fiddle-playing, since that’s a major factor in my enjoyment of a band, Andrew Bird reminds me of Danny Schmidt except with added fiddle. If you’ve ever heard Danny Schmidt, you’ll know that he has intense lyrics, often incredibly personal songs, and there’s a similar vibe going here, as well as the hint of jazz influences. I particularly noticed the similarities in My Sister’s Tiny Hand.
If it’s fiddle playing you want, though, the album you’re looking for is Music Of Hair. The track Minor Beatrice is ten minutes of just violin, and it’s … pretty freaking awesome. On the whole, his music’s incredibly varied, with some far more instrumental and others focused on his voice. I can’t quite pick favourites — I’m working on that.
So, that’s it for music recommendations from me. Do any of you like these bands, and if so, what are your favourite tracks or albums? Have you got any recommendations to add that might be similar in style or tone? I’d love to hear from you, and I hope somebody out there enjoys these recommendations. :)