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Alasdair Roberts Chats About His Beautiful New Album Spoils

Posted by Miss Ess, June 4, 2009 04:32pm | Post a Comment
Drag City recording artist and Scotsman Alasdair Roberts' new album Spoils is one of the best I've heard all year. It's a lyrically dense, elegant and complex album with trad folk touches. One of its best qualities is its natural ease -- it manages to sound both organic and dense, positively medieval and modern at the same time. Roberts has been creating eloquent, idiosyncratic albums for quite some time, since 1994 to be exact, at first with the band Appendix Out and then simply under his name for the past 8 years. He was rather famously signed to Drag City after handing Will Oldham a tape of his music back in 1995, and his musical career has blossomed on since then. Spoils feels like the culmination of the sound he has cultivated since his first solo album. It is well worth tracking down and listening to repeatedly. My interview with Alasdair follows.

alasdair roberts

Miss Ess: When and how did you begin writing songs?

Alasdair Roberts: At 15 when I saw footage of the Hindenburg disaster on television and heard the pain in the presenter's voice saying, "Oh, the humanity." I then wrote my first proper song called "Autumn."

ME: What records from your youth have stayed with you most strongly?

AR: Early eighties pop singles. "Karma Chameleon" by Boy George; "Don't Leave Me This Way" by the boy georgeCommunards. "Pass the Dutchie" by Musical Youth.

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James Yorkston's Year of the Leopard: a cheap and beautiful Folk-Rock stunner!

Posted by J. Mark Beaver, October 31, 2008 04:00pm | Post a Comment
james yorkston year of the leopard
Los Angeles is beautiful right now. The sky is almost completely blanketed with a thin layer of cloud, each cloud undercoated with gray as if it could start raining any moment. It won't, though. Not yet. We have a few weeks, maybe even a month before there's any significant rain, but still, this weather holds a promise that L.A. is moving out of its summer monotony of heat and dust. The wind is moving everything around, warm and round and humid, unlike the Santa Anas and their hot, lip-chapping blast. I'm ready. I want to have a good excuse to sit on the couch and watch a movie as the rain pours off the roof and through the huge oak in my front yard. I'm ready for a day that will welcome a centrepiece like James Yorkston's Year of the Leopard.

Yorkston plays a beautiful acoustic guitar and he writes a beautiful song. He kicked around Scotland and England for years in punk bands and the like, settling down to write the type of gorgeous tomes that Pete Paphides of The Times (London) called, “...songs that sound not so much written as carefully retrieved from your own subconscious, played with an intuition bordering on telepathy. " He's got a great, simultaneously warm and brittle voice that sometimes reminds of fellow Scot, David Gray. His songs are not too far afield from Gray's work, either, often underpinned by burbling electronics and synth washes that, surprisingly, never pull them out of the Brit-Folk context from which they emerge. Yorkston has toured with Beth Orton, David Gray, the Tindersticks, Turin Brakes, Lambchop after having come to many fans' attention through his opening slot on all 27 dates of John Martyn's 2001 tour.

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