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Album: This is Jonna Lee (spotify)

Spotify recommends Swede Jonna Lee for fans of Laura Maring… I’m a pretty big one, so I thought I’d check her out.

On first listen Jonna has a nice voice, and some melodic songs, but nothing like Laura’s depth.

Her album This is Jonna Lee, is pleasant, melodic, poppy album. There’s some nice variation in tempo and melody. And a couple of good tracks like the mega catchy My High and opener Aberdeen on New Years eve.

Spotify have done Jonna a bit of a disservice by comparing her to Laura, she comes off a poor second. Perhaps they meant Lene Marlin

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This song is beautiful. Some kind (and a bit illegal) person has yoinked the music, stuck it over a way old photo of Laura and put it up on YouTube.

[Youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HGot7yoKyg8]

AMAZING. The whole thing is available to stream. If you like it, buy it. It’s for charity…

Ewwwwwwww just remembered about this sexy-windmachine-x-factor-politicians-wife version of the Moldy Peaches song. Kimya Dawson did an awesome ranty blog post about it at the time, then loads of people shouted her down and she apologised. She was totes right in the first place though.

Tristram

We’re very excited to have Tristram playing at The Allotment on 1st December (along with Caitlin Rose and Joe Innes – click on those links to stream their latest releases in full FREE – I love Bandcamp!).

Tristram’s just back from a tour with FFS favourites Peggy Sue and has recently signed to Oh Inverted World Records, who also do a great bandnight.

My pal Anika made a bloody brilliant video for the title track from his forthcoming EP Someone Told Me A Poem. It’s due out on 15th Feb.

And here it is:

Cheer up.

I have realised what a lot of the bands I can’t get into have in common. They are dour.

I’ve just been listening to Chris Wood, who comes highly recommended by a friend of mine whose opinions I value very highly. I just can’t get into him though. And I think the reason is that he sounds like a grump. It’s partly his voice, I grant you, which cannot be helped.

I had the same problem when I saw Martin Carthy at the Crawley Folk Festival this year. He’s a veritable GOD in the traditional folk world, but does nothing at all for me cos his songs are all woe and hardship. Another issue I have with him is that he’s willfully unmodern. Fair enough, traditional folk is all about covering traditional songs, but even Carthy’s original compositions are about medieval queens being in labour and stuff. Jeez.

Photo: Anika Mottershaw

One band from FFS’s staple gang of musicians that I have the same problem with is Sons of Noel and Adrian. It’s almost sacrilege in the company I keep not to be a fan of the Willkommen a-million-piece but I confess I’m not. When I first heard them I thought they were wonderful, but now if I hear them wail the title of one of their songs over and over just once more I fear I’m going to stab someone. Probably myself. It seems to me like the same sort of grief that’s poured out in abundance by factions of the public when a famous person dies. It feels strange, insincere and over-expressed.

Conversely I absolutely love another Willkommen act The Leisure Society, whose lyrics have their fair share of bitterness but it’s coupled with hopefulness and really, really lovely music.

I’m not an idiot. I don’t want to just live in a world full of sunshine and teddy bears. In fact I love miserable music when it’s handled delicately and honestly. The Antlers – Hospice (to which I am listening right now), for example, is an utterly heartbreaking album about the death of the lead singer’s girlfriend – harrowing but incredible. And one of my favourite LPs of all time is The Sunset Tree by the Mountain Goats, which tells an autobiographical tale about the abuse John Darnielle suffered at the hands of his stepfather.

And what it boils down to I think is when it comes to music — as in life — no-one really wants to hear people complain for the sake of it.

After months of bigging up one of FFS’s earliest interviewees, Mumford and Sons, I had my love for the West London foursome tested by a series of well-written but harsh reviews from the music press, some of which struck an inevitable chord.

As soon as a once-underground act gets famous, there’s an indie backlash. The cooler-than-thou writers and boarders could not be seen to like something that Fearne Cotton has played. It just would not do.

And that was certainly the case for Mumford and Sons on the release of Sigh No More. While the national press were declaring it a masterpiece, the bigger among the little guys — Drowned in Sound, The Quietus and The Fly — set about ripping it to shreds.

In a strangely bitter review The Quietus’ Hazel Sheffield called it a “lowest-common-denominator approach to folk”. Luke Slater in Drowned in Sound said: “Mumford & Sons seem to be to folk what Nickelback are to grunge. This thought is a constant thorn in this listener’s side.”

But the one criticism that struck a chord (boom boom) with me was within The Fly’s Niall Doherty’s diatribe about M&S’s use of the banjo, where he said: “They’re the musical equivalent of when you get your photo taken at Thorpe Park to make it look like you’re in the 1800s.”

Ugh. Are Mumford and Sons the band equivalent of horrid, faux-upper-class, “university outfitters” Jack Wills? All anachronistic symbols and style and no substance?

While many of my non-serious-music-fan friends are now quite big fans — having had Zane Lowe recommend them to them and seen the on the telly (the mark that it is ‘okay’ to like something for many) — the opinion of the (admittedly small) section of the London folk music scene that cannot claim to be friends with at least one member of the band appears to lean towards ‘yes’. A lot of people seem to have gone off Mumford and Sons recently.

It’s not hard to understand why. Having Edith Bowman- or Jo Wiley-voiced adverts telling you that the album from a band you cherished is “breathtaking” in much the same way you’d hear about Daniel Merryweather or U2 is truly horrible. And having the few enthusiastic but measured mentions from friends and respected blogs and websites develop into a groundswell of fanatical praise from, well, nearly everyone is bound to make you take a step back and reconsider your opinion.

But a combination of a self-enforced period of M&S-free living and the seeing new Winter Winds video has sorted it for me.

When I first saw Mumford and Sons live, supporting Johnny Flynn in Cardiff nearly two years ago, they blew me away. Their energy, passion and noise was one thing, but coupled with some seriously good songwriting and musicianship it was undeniably brilliant. While Sigh No More goes some way to capturing that passion (and does a better job than any of their previous recordings) it’s hardly surprising that it doesn’t live up to seeing M&S live. That’s when you can really feel it and sitting in your living room or on the bus it’s just never going to be the same.

The new video for Winter Winds shows those who haven’t seen the band live — and those of us who’ve taken a break — just what they’re missing. It’s all there: the noise, the excitement, the passion and the song. Crammed into a 3x4in screen.

This Quietus review is harsh, suggesting the London folk artists are “massaging each other’s egos”. I think they just like each other… just sayin’.