There have been a couple of sibling projects on our playlists this year, most notably that of Montreal based four piece formed by Andrew and Brad Barr. Beginning their musical journey in the improv trio The Slip, it was upon meeting harpist Sarah Page and keys man Andres Vial that the four became The Barr Brothers. Their debut, self-titled, kickstarter style funded LP was released last year and ashamedly flew well under our radar. Indie folk at its finest, the album was recorded in a make-shift studio built from scratch in a converted boiler room in the basement of a building at the foot of Mount Royal before being released by Secret City Records.
We finally stood up and paid attention at this year’s Iceland Airwaves festival, when the band recorded a session for us. We were utterly blown away by their poetic lyrics and the care that seems to have gone into every guitar strum and percussive clap, giving us chills to rival the Icelandic winds. On the surface their beautiful, enveloping harmonies appeal through their simplicity but when you really listen an entirely different, unbelievably intricate world is revealed in which every single element has it’s own space to be appreciated. The bluesy, southern soul elements meld with that classic Americana sound to produce something that is as familiar as it is exciting and new.
- Lauren Down
Ah, the oft tread path of Singer-Songwriter. A never ending stream of mediocrity and pained expression, juxtaposed with bland production and predictable product placements galore. What makes for a genuinely thrilling and enticing new artist in such an overcrowded genre? Answer: Marika Hackman.
On stage, this unassuming young folk starlet is like many an aspiring acoustic musician. Nervous, humble, endearing – all words that spring to mind. However, there’s a twisted charm to her music that hits where it hurts – an emotional tug so strong even the hardest of hearts would have trouble staying intact.
Fleshed out on record with the help of producers Johnny Flynn and Adam Beach (of The Sussex Wit), Hackman’s delicate musings develop an almost Syd Barrett-like quality. Each track becoming its own ”mad little world… maybe a bit disturbing”, if Hackman’s forthcoming debut album is anywhere near as captivating as her output so far, we’re about to see the birth of an incredibly special and unique British talent.
- Rich Thane
Dublin five piece Little Green Cars are still in their teens but their brand of cosmic Americana is just the thing to restore your faith in young people messing with a country sound. The group managing to stir up enough of an emotional punch without being overly earnest or bombastic.
After dropping their debut single on Young and Lost Club back in June, Stevie, Faye, Donagh, Adam and Dylan are now signed to major label giants Island with a full-length (Absolute Zero) due for early 2013. Recent single ‘The John Wayne’ showcases some rather impressive harmonies and a confidence we’ve not seen for a long time in a band so early into their career. Not shy to wear their emotions or indeed their inspirations on their collective sleeves, the group say of the forthcoming album: “(it’s) an insight into a life that everyone has experienced at one time or another. In these times there should be no stigmatism in feeling shit or being happy with whatever makes you happy – Charles Bukowski said ‘the poet is no longer a sissy’.”
Need convincing? Check out a truly startling performance of ‘The John Wayne’, filmed earlier this year by Best Fit and below it – the harmony drenched original version. If you don’t even manage to crack even half a smile by the end of the song, you’re certified dead inside.
- Rich Thane