Jessica Staveley, Camillia Staveley, Emily Staveley and The Staves - Vogue and Ralph Lauren Wimbledon Party held at Kensington Place Orangery - Arrivals - London, United Kingdom - Monday 22nd June 2015
What's to look forward to with this year's Green Man?
Tickets for Green Man Festival 2015 are now totally sold-out, and looking at this year's stellar line-up so far, there's no surprise there. With just eleven weeks to go, Green Man continue to unveil more upcoming surprises, so we take a look at what we know so far.
There's already a ton of great acts listed to play at the Brecon Beacons event in Wales, with a bill headed by Oklahoma singer St. Vincent, London collective Hot Chip, who have just released their newest album 'Why Make Sense?', and local Welshmen Super Furry Animals.
In the five years since the release of their debut EP, The Staveley-Taylor sisters, better known to the world as The Staves, have undergone a dramatic transformation. Their song writing, initially rooted solely in the tradition of English Folk, has now morphed effortlessly to place the sisters at the forefront of that movement, rather than just students of it. Let's be clear here, their second full-length album, 'If I Was', is not easily defined as just a Folk album. It has one foot firmly planted in Blues and Rock. It's like a more subtle and less confrontational version of Dylan plugging in.
Much has been made of producer Justin Vernon's involvement, and while it's true his fingerprints are all over this material, it doesn't feel as if he has guided the sisters to their ambitious new sound. Rather he has just facilitated that transformation. The key to The Staves success is their startling three-part harmonies. While they remain the focus of the songs, there are many instrumental embellishments of note (especially the distinct and accomplished percussion) as the sisters' musical palette has dramatically expanded. That again is very much to do with Vernon's contribution, as he has teamed the Staveley-Taylors with many of his Bon Iver collaborators at his April Base studio in Wisconsin.
The album opens with 'Blood I Bled', the title track of last Autumn's EP; it slowly unfolds into a brass and string soaked military march. It's a bold song that demonstrates just what 'If I Was' has to offer, but the most notable early moment is to be found on 'No Me, No You, No More'. The track opens on a processed vocal hum, which is soon joined by a second note. It's a re-invention of The Staves' trademark harmonies through the prism of Justin Vernon's imagination. The familiar three-part vocals soon soar in above the stark backing, which is only punctuated with brass. Within three minutes, the mesmerising song segues seamlessly into an acoustic guitar and an entirely different track. It's moments like this that make you realise this album really is something special.
Continue reading: The Staves - If I Was Album Review
After two years on the road, the Staveley-Taylor sisters return in October with their first studio offering since their well received debut, 'Dead & Born & Grown'. The 'Blood I Bled' EP is a tantalising sample of their second album, primarily as it's the first material they've unveiled that features Bon Iver's Justin Vernon on production duties. The resulting three songs are well worth the price of admission and point to a significant step forward for The Staves.
No longer just channelling their beloved English Folk roots, the Watford trio have embraced a more complicated sound that suits their mesmerising three-part harmonies. Vernon's fingerprints are unsurprisingly evident from the outset and, by carefully balancing his instrumental guidance with the vocals, The Staves have produced something rather special. The purpose of an EP release such as this is to build anticipation for a subsequent album, and in that regard it's job done.
'Open' slowly introduces the familiar harmonies with a melancholy mood ("You say we don't do much talking"), backed with a solitary acoustic guitar. However, before long a drum machine, strings and piano have joined the mix to great effect. It's a memorable combination that maintains its fundamental folk sensibility, but expands it into something rather unique. While it could be argued that perhaps The Staves are relying too heavily on Vernon's production (it's unmistakably reminiscent of Bon Iver), I'd actually argue that's a positive thing; it elevates the song beyond the rather niche sound that presided on much of the sisters' debut album.
Continue reading: The Staves - Blood I Bled EP Review
The Staves: Jessica Staveley-Taylor, Camilla Staveley-Taylor and Emily Staveley-Taylor - Guests at Today FM's Ray Darcy Show included: The Staves, Martin King & Lucy Kennedy. Guests at Newstalk's Pat Kenny Show included: John McColgan and Moya Doherty - Dublin, Ireland - Friday 13th September 2013
Beck's Song Reader might be a stroke of genius.
It is perhaps Beck's strangest album. Song Reader - the record made up entirely of sheet music - was played in full at London's Barbican Theatre on Sunday (July 7, 2013), with a huge cast of musicians including Jarvis Cocker, Franz Ferdinand and Beth Orton. This potentially had disaster written all over it, though reviews suggest the album was perfectly realised in the historic setting.
Song Reader contains twenty new songs, all publishing on song sheets. The tracks are scored for keys, guitar and voice though Beck's intention was for fans to elaborate and change the songs to their liking. As noted by the Financial Times' Ludovic Hunter-Tilney in his review, songwriter Ed Harcourt was given that job on the piano. He was accompanied by flugelhorns, ukuleles, drums and guitars. The veteran punk poet John Cooper Clarke read prose between songs while female vocal trio The Staves helped out on vocals.
David Smyth of the Evening Standard suggested the concert will have encouraged fans to have a go themselves, writing, "The songs Beck performed himself sounded the most predictable, with acoustic guitar to the fore, though a jazzy, catchy Do We, We Do would have stood out regardless of the singer. For those buying the book in the lobby, it was a case of do try this at home."
Continue reading: Song Reader: Beck Plays Album of Sheet Music At London's Barbican
Having quickly established itself as the best metropolitan music festival in the UK, Live At Leeds returned over the warm bank holiday weekend to send a spark of excitement and energy fizzing through the city's streets. As ever with LAL - and most other festivals - line-up clashes were inevitable though it did little to dampen the atmosphere of what proved to be one of the best Live at Leeds offerings yet.
The thing to remember when wandering the streets with a crumpled programme trying to figure out if you can sprint from Brudenell Social Club to The Wardrobe in under 8 minutes is that you really don't need to. The whole point of Live at Leeds is that there's always someone playing, somewhere, and it makes for a far richer experience to circle a couple of your must-sees though pretty much go with the flow of the festival.
Incidentally - after a visit to the Holy Trinity Church to catch the end of the impressive Harry George Johns - the first real port of call was the horrendously busy Cockpit venue in the city centre, where queues snaked up and down the street with hundreds of fans desperate to gain access. Luckily, organisers had put together a pretty tasty schedule for the venue so waiting wristband holders were eventually treated to something worth queuing for.
Continue reading: Live at Leeds 2013 - Live Review
Live At Leeds - the metropolitan music festival held annually across a variety of venues in Leeds on the first bank holiday weekend of May - has just added some huge bands to its roster.
Indie fans better take note, as just a portion of the line up includes Rudimental, Everything Everything, The Pigeon Detectives, The Vaccines, Tribes, AlunaGeorge, The Staves, Darwin Deez, Little Comets, King Krule, Laura Mvula, Swim Deep, The 1975 and Peace. LAL continues to enforce its remit of pushing local bands to the fore while providing national acts to draw in the crowds. It's a real music lover's affair, and this year looks set to carry on the tradition. And with tickets from just £22.50, it's affordable too.
The Pigeon Detectives - having just announced album number 4, Rudimental - will look to bring their uncompromising brand of indie to the proceedings, while The Vaccines will be playing a separate ticketed event on the Sunday of Live at Leeds with special support from TOY and more names to be added.
Fresh from supporting Bon Iver in the States, Watford's The Staves have released their anticipated debut record Dead & Born & Grown on Atlantic. It's a notable album, not least because it delivers on the promise of their 4 previous EPs alongside their work with Tom Jones and Fionn Regan. However, the trio of sisters have also pulled off a major coup by securing the services of Glyn and Ethan Johns. Amazingly, this is the first album they've co-produced despite a bursting back catalogue of landmark records between them.
It's that combined experience that works to The Staves' benefit. Opener 'Wisely & Slow' waits over a minute to introduce any instrumentation. Instead, the sisters' voices take centre stage with a series of warm harmonies. It's a brave move by the production team, but one that pays off. It focuses the sadness and nostalgia that drips from every word. Neither is this approach a gimmick as an introduction to the Staveley-Taylor's. It grabs your attention, but also prepares you for what's to follow.
In many ways Dead & Born & Grown is a very traditional folk album. It doesn't try to break new ground, choosing instead to adopt an air of familiarity. While that's a safe option, it's not hugely detrimental, allowing the trio an opportunity to run through their uncomplicated and mellow compositions with an effortless charm. The first sign of real heartbreak underpinning some of the material is during the booze soaked 'Pay Us No Mind' ("Drink until your lips are black, you've given things you'll never get back, oh you silly thing.") and it's once you start digging beyond the pretty veneer of The Staves' harmonies that you find a real depth to the record.
Continue reading: The Staves - Dead & Born & Grown Album Review
The Staves are a band you may or may not be familiar with. They seem to have been 'around' for a while, gradually working their way into our subconscious, yet you may be surprised to hear that Dead & Born & Grown is their debut album. Yes, they've featured on albums by Tom Jones and Fionn Regan, released 4 EPs, played SXSW and are (and have been) supporting Bon Iver on tour but this is their first independent album release.
The Stavely-Taylor sisters, Emily, Jessica and Camilla don't sound as though they are likely to be found playing Hard-Core or Death Metal which is fortuitous as they play rather nice folk music which has a particularly delightful Englishness about it. As fans of Joni Mitchell, you might expect a 70s shadow across their songs but they share a closer affinity to their kindred spirit Laura Marling. Ethan Johns (Co-producer with his father Glyn) may even have been drawn to the band after enjoying his time with Marling on her last two albums. The similarly impressive results would certainly suggest a strong musical chemistry exists between the band and their producers.
Dead & Born & Grown starts with an a cappella arrangement of flawless purity. 'Wisely & Slowly' showcases the 3 part vocal harmonies of the sisters perfectly. The angelic and choral tones are warm and comforting but tell a harrowing tale (Tell me all you need to tell. Why is it you whisper when you really need to yell?) only accented towards the end by the addition of instrumentation. The stirring and striking opener turns into a more gentle and laid back calm with the mellow vocals and jangly guitars of 'Gone Tomorrow'. 'The Motherlode', a Marling like composition, introduces an accordion and a beat that fair skips along to the beautifully balanced harmonies. A Country lilt pervades 'Pay Us No Mind' before the ukulele is brought out on 'Facing West'. As the initial individual higher pitched vocal sings out "Your voice is like silver" you can't help but agree. The simplest of accompaniments and lightest of arrangements are used to great effect here.
Continue reading: The Staves - Dead & Born & Grown Album Review
The Corrs sister they are not, but the sibling threesome that make up The Staves look to take the music world by storm with their own bewitchingly beautiful country/folk sound. The Watford-born sisters look to add to their already impressive r'sum' with the release of debut EP The Motherlode having already wowed audiences across the Atlantic and up and down the country alongside the likes of Mumford and Sons and Michael Kiwanuka and whilst spelling clearing isn't one of their strong points, crafting beautiful songs clearly is.
Continue reading: The Staves, The Motherlode EP Review