Lizzy Stewart

Lizzy Stewart was the artist behind the artwork for ‘Be Still This Gentle Morning’ by The Kays Lavelle.  So I love her work.  I noticed from her facebook today that she is moving home in London and needs money to help fund the move – the factors apparently being a bunch of expensive twats in London – so I would suggest that you check out her shop here and if you like what you see maybe support her and help her find the pennies she needs to move.  She is a seriously brilliant artist and well worth checking out regardless of her personal situation though!   So please do have a look and if you can afford anything – it being pay time of the month – then do so.   And she’s lovely,  and back when we were working together she put up with my chat about animals – which was impressive.  She even came up with the Badger badges.  Which made my life.  So yeah, support her.  OK.  thanks.

Pre Order The Awkward Hello, Handshake, Kiss Now.

We are delighted to announce that ‘The Awkward Hello, Handshake, Kiss’ the debut album by Hiva Oa is now available to pre-order here.  The album is available to purchase on its own or, if you are a bit of a collector, why not purchase the limited edition version which includes a postcard (3inch cdr) version of the debut EP ‘Future Nostalgia for sale’.   As always your support of mini50 and our artists is greatly appreciated.  We hope you enjoy the music.

Dan Deacon’s New Album Streaming On Pitchfork

Recommended listening today comes from Dan Deacon and his new album ‘America’.  It is streaming over on Pitchforks website and I cannot recommend it highly enough.  This is such an ambitious piece of music.  It has me excited.  Not much makes me really sit up and go WOW these days.  But this does.  This is everything that music should be.  Exciting, captivating, intriguing, beguiling, beautiful and utterly brilliant.  A review will follow – though I am not sure what can be said about this record.  For now, get yourself over to Pitchfork and stream it whilst you can then get your cash out and buy yourself a copy of this one immediately!

What We Talk About When We Talk About Music

I’ve spent a few days in the past week at the Book Festival in Edinburgh.  It’s my first year attending the book festival if I’m honest – well, since my mum used to take me as a kid – and it’s been really eye opening and thoroughly enjoyable.  What has struck me most is the lovely atmosphere of the event.  It is a great place to go and write, think, watch, exist.  It is vibrant and alive and the events are varied and interesting.  All in all I have enjoyed the time I have spent at Charlotte Square and wish I didn’t have to work every day so I could immerse myself more in the events.

As I was sitting there I got thinking about music and how amazing it would be to have a similar festival celebrating music.  And I don’t mean lots of little/big gigs like the Edge Festival.  Or gigs across the city South by South West style.  Nor a Homegame type event either.  What I was thinking was a similar layout/form, if not identical, to the book festival, where musicians and people from the industry (not agents/managers etc – whilst I see the benefit of these sort of workshops that’s for another time and place) would come and talk and play.  So not gigs.  More discussions with music involved.   Let’s say, for example, a place where Beck could come and discuss his new album ‘Song Reader’ and, perhaps, with a bit of organisation have other musicians perform songs from it – or at least their interpretations of the songs.  Somewhere, that discussion on music could take place and the mechanics of being a musician could be explored.   I mean, there could be all sorts of workshops involved in this festival not just for adults but for kids too – encouraging young people to explore/pick up an instrument for example, which would be a massively important element – education.  There could be small independent record label stalls as well as work for sale by all the artists appearing at the festival and there could be the chance, like at the book festival, to have work by your favourite musician signed and to meet them in person breaking down the barriers between artist and fans that so often exists and adding a human element to the mystique of the music world.

For me, the book festival has got it spot on.  More and more, as I grow older, a simple gig where people get up and play music fails to appeal.  Too many times I have been to gigs and just wanted them to end.  Or I have wanted more interaction with the artist or had things in my head I wanted to know about the music/musicians.  My interest in where the music comes from, how the artist works, how the music came together has increased significantly over time and having conversations with other music fans it seems there is a similar feeling that exists. A friend told me of a Philip Glass concert he attended where Glass discussed each piece before he played – perfect I thought.  Musicians have important voices and there are discussions to be had I believe with musicians that are not taking place.

Conversation pieces between artists is actually something I’ve been trying to incorporate on the blog – but it’s not easy getting artists to have those conversations as they tend to be very busy people with little time to sit down and write to each other.  The Believer has done it successfully but I think there is a massive opportunity to have artists coming together to discuss their worlds that could and should be explored.

Gigs exist.  That market is catered for.  What I am imagining is a 2/3 week event where artists would come and discuss music.  I am not really interested in the social aspects of gig going.  For me, and I acknowledge openly that this is not the case for most people, if I go to a gig/festival, get pissed and have a laugh then I feel like I’ve missed something.  I cannot and never have been able to see music events simply as social gatherings.  You can do that without music in my experience.  It’s great that music brings people together but I would like something more from my music festival than drink, listen to artist perform, drink, listen to artist perform.  I want to hear Wayne Coyne discuss with Beck the challenges of being a musician in this modern world.  I want to hear Jamie and Anneke from Conquering Animal Sound discuss the shape of their music, how it comes together, what they think about illegal downloading etc.  I want to hear Jeff Tweedy talk not only about music but about other things too.  I want to hear from musicians from all over the world and not just the ones we know and love.  I want to hear what it’s like to make music in – let’s say Russia where, as events over the past months have shown, it’s not always as easy to make your feelings known through music.  Fuck it, I cannot stand the Manic Street Preachers music but I’d love to hear Nicky Wire or James Dean Bradfield talk about why they think politics and music go hand in hand and how lucky we are to be able to air our views openly without fear of punishment, not only through music but through other artistic mediums too.

Perhaps I am just getting old.  But whatever it is, I have sat at the book festival wishing that the music world embraced this idea and came together to have conversations rather than simply listen to songs.  There are many conversations to be had through music, which really are not being discussed and I think it’d be a great idea if somebody took on the challenge of making my pipe dreams reality.

Library Tapes – Sun Peeking Through

In a world where Kurt Cobain made the guitar cool in the 1990s, not many kids were seen to take up piano.  Being a rock star was just not possible sitting down, restricted by the instrument you played.  No, you had to stand, front and centre and you had to be seen and you had to play guitar.  Fortunately, thanks to the likes of Nils Frahm, Peter Broderick and others of this mould, playing the piano doesn’t have to be considered uncool anymore.  In fact, so much of the most interesting music I know and love has been created using a piano.  And nobody does simplistic piano better than David Wenngren better known as Library Tapes.  In fact, he’s probably the artist who originally sucked me into the fascinating world of instrumental, ambient, experimental….whatever you want to call it…music.

‘Sun Peeking Through’ his latest offering under the Library Tapes guise is perhaps a little warmer than some of his earlier work but still has the maudlin feel you would expect from Library Tapes.   But their is definitely optimism shining through this record that has perhaps not always been evident in his earlier work.

Adding to the texture of the record are Danny Norbury (cello), Sarah Kemp (violin) and Julia Kent (cello) and they compliment Wenngren’s piano musings in a subtle and beautiful way.  More acoustic and less glitchy than some of his work this really is another triumph for Library Tapes keeping him firmly at the forefront of his field and making him as vital a musician now as he ever has been.

You can check out Library Tapes new record here.


Cock And Swan – Stash

My record label Lost Tribe Sound sent me a whole batch of records recently.  A lovely gesture from a lovely bunch of people.  Anyways, among them was this record by Cock and Swan and what a lovely little gem it is.

This is a really interesting piece of work that combines stunningly haunting a floaty vocals with off kilter beats and percussion.  In fact, it’s the drums on this record that more often than not sucks you in.  Take the title track for instance.  There I am thinking ‘uh oh, pan pipes’ and wondering where this floaty, breezey, twee start would lead when all of a sudden the drums kick in and the song is transformed into a dynamic and engaging number.

This really is a beautifully crafted record.  For those in Scotland, if you like the feel of Conquering Animal Sound, you are probably going to really enjoy this record.  Coming from the same dark yet uplifting world ‘Stash’ really is one of the best records I’ve heard so far this year.  And I’m not just saying that because I have a record coming out on Lost Tribe Sound.  This really is a gorgeous, dense record that deserves to be discovered by more and more people.

You can discover it here.  And you should.


Beck Hansen’s Song Reader

Well, Beck has announced his new album.  Here is what he has to say on his website:

In the wake of Modern Guilt and The Information, Beck’s latest album comes in an almost-forgotten form—twenty songs existing only as individual pieces of sheet music, never before released or recorded. Complete with full-color, heyday-of- home-play-inspired art for each song and a lavishly produced hardcover carrying case (and, when necessary, ukelele notation), the Song Reader is an experiment in what an album can be at the end of 2012—an alternative that enlists the listener in the tone of every track, and that’s as visually absorbing as a dozen gatefold LPs put together.

This is not a new idea but it certainly is one that will generate a whole lot of discussion and that, I guess, is the point.

I admit, my initial reaction was ‘why’ but that viewpoint has changed a lot through discussion and reading more about it.  I see a lot of problems with the release but I also see a lot of potential positives – though not directly related to the illegal downloading of music.

Anyways, it’s an interesting piece of work so if you have any thoughts on it don’t hesitate to share them.