Folk, anti-folk, psych-folk, new folk, wyrd folk – you know it when you hear it though god knows what it means these days. I’m just glad it’s so healthy and so mixed-up, showing some hybrid vigour. Rough Trade have put out a series of fine samplers, and this psych-folk collection is an interesting mix of relatively old-fashioned acts, well-established recent ones like the Owl Service and Six Organs of Admittance, and things that were entirely new to me. The CD comes with a piece by Rob Young, author of Electric Eden (a book I think BBO should be reading) though not all of the bands on the sampler sound all that wyrd to me. Anyway, I’ve picked out two fine examples: Alsadair Roberts’ perfect example of how to do this in a way that is both immediately recognisable and fresh; and Lau Nau, a Finnish woman who provides an unsettling lullaby from the album Nukkuu. Nice acoustic drones there.
‘You Muses Assist‘ – Alasdair Roberts – Rough Trade Shops Psych Folk 10
‘Ruususuu‘ – Lau Nau – Rough Trade Shops Psych Folk 10
I might be way off including Benjamin Shaw here because there’s so much crammed into this EP, but musically the effect is similar to some of the tracks above – maybe not always songs your postie could whistle but recognisable songs nonetheless. His delivery is intimate, conversational, but not necessarily the sort of conversation you’d want to have with a stranger on the night bus. Actually, that’s what this is like: being buttonholed by a charismatic fruitcake who stoppeth one of three somewhere round the Elephant and Castle in the small hours. The lyrics are playful, bewildering, scabrous and sad, often all on the same song, and Benjamin can do ‘odd’ without also doing ‘whimsical’. Great stuff, highly recommended.
‘Thanks For All The Biscuits‘ – Benjamin Shaw – I Got The Pox, The Pox Is What I Got