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