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Category: General Music Facts

5 of the Best Folk Music Albums of 2017

Different genres of music albums are available in well-known online platforms – this much we know from the days of Napster and more recently, streaming media services such as Spotify and YouTube. We are truly living in the age of on-demand streaming media that is changing the face of how we consume media. And, to borrow a phrase from Oven Shopper, these streaming services, like many of our appliances nowadays, all compete tooth and nail – consumers opt for the service that provides extra value to their needs.

But the music is still the meat of the matter. And in 2017, folk music is making a strong comeback.

With that in mind, we’ve come up with a sampling of 5 choice folk music cuts for those who are more discerning in their music tastes – these music albums are recommended for everyone who seeks peace of mind and enjoyment throughout on their leisure time. Because, for reasons that are not unknown to many music lovers, folk music evokes a time wherein you didn’t need more than a good song and a guitar to make compelling music – screw whatever crap is playing on the airwaves, these 5 acts are the real deal; and they are making folk music, and music in general, great again.

1. Mount Eerie – A Crow Looked at Me

Starting off our list is Mount Eerie’s compelling work, A Crow Looked at Me. Mount Eerie is a solo project from a American musician Phil Elverum, and presents a harrowing, first-person look at a common theme of folk music – that of death. And Elverum does not disappoint – his plaintive arrangements and sing-song delivery just makes it all the more so compelling. It discusses the death of his wife, musician and cartoonist Genevieve Castree. “Real Death”, the first single of A Crow Looked at Me album was first released on his SoundCloud page, and is definitely the album’s standout track. Truly one of the best folk releases of 2017.

2. Fleet Foxes – Crack-Up

fleet-foxes-crack-upCrack-Up is the new folk music album from Washington-based electric folk band Fleet Foxes. This folk music album was recorded in different locations throughout the nation, and its standout track is undoubtedly the nine-minute epic, string-enhanced “Third of May/Odaigahara” which features electric twelve-string guitar, piano and the trademark sparkling harmonies of this group.

3. Jesca Hoop – Memories Are Now

Memories Are Now is one of the most renowned folk music albums of 2017. This music album from Jesca Hoop makes every listener more contented than ever – her ethereal vocals, songwriting, and electronic elements all contribute to a very unique sound, while discussing song material that is resonant with every human being; which is why folk music was called folk music anyway.

4. Big Thief – Capacity

Capacity is a set of excellent, haunting, and cavernous-sounding folk music from Big Thief. This album explores themes of trauma, family, sadndess, and depression, whose production makes sure the album will strike a chord with everyone – singer Adrianne Lenker’s languid, ethereal delivery notwithstanding. A very underrated folk album that deserves more recognition than it currently does.

5. Julie Byrne – Not Even Happiness

And rounding out the list, and last, but obviously not the least, “Not Even Happiness” is American-born singer-songwriter Julie Byrne’s second release. Basic Rock in the UK has released this folk music album on 13 January 2017, while Ba Da Bing! Records in the U.S. released the later version of this album on 27 January 2017. Fans of folk music’s spare arrangements in the vein of Bon Iver (with occasional embellishments) will love this album, whose standout track is “Melting Grid” – Byrne’s delivery reminds most listeners of German chanteuse Nico’s haunting vocals.

July 8, 2017     0 Comments

Newbie to the Glorious Vinyl Format? Read This Before You Start on Your Journey

vinyl-recordsNothing sounds better than crisp, clear, and warm vinyl – any audiophile will tell you that. The appeal of vinyl is enduring – and thanks to its recent resurgence, vinyl has seen it outlive the very formats that sought to remove it entirely from historical records. They’re durable, big, and charming pieces of the past, that will continue to be with us in the future.

While vinyl records are the most long lasting physical music formats, they require good care and protection from the elements in order to preserve their sound quality, avoid surface noise, warping or scratches as well as prolong their service life. This involves employing the proper storage, cleaning and handling techniques to keep your records in pristine condition and enjoy them for years to come.

Here are useful tips to help you in your record care.

Proper Storage

  • When storing vinyl records, the following storage tips should be employed religiously:
    Store records vertically not on top of each other. There should be no leaning.
  • Vertical storage of records is best achieved on strong shelves that won’t buckle easily.
  • Ensure that the shelves holding your vinyl records are in a clean area away from moisture and direct sunlight or heat the latter which causes warping. If you live in an area that sees a lot of humidity, you may consider purchasing a dehumidifier, as a dehumidifier treats the dampness present in its surroundings – and thusly perfect for your vinyl.

Proper Handling

Records are played on turntables and in order to do so require handling to place them there. Before placing the record on your turn table, ensure the turn table is clean then handle them in this recommended manner:

  • Tilt the sleeve holding your record such that the record slides out and hold it by inserting your finger in its centre hole without letting your hands touch its surface. This prevents you from leaving sweat or body oil on the surface.
  • Once you remove the finger, hold it using both hands where contact is on the outside edges only then transfer it to your record player.

Proper Care and Cleaning

  • Clean your record both on the inside and outside surfaces to prevent damage by dust. Use a record cleaning brush or a soft lint-free cloth that is not static and clean with the groove instead of against it.
  • In cases where there is dirt or mould, wet your cloth or brush using distilled water mixed with record cleaning solution and use it to clean the groove avoiding the label, rinse and let it dry vertically before returning it to its sleeve or jacket.
  • Remove the shrink wrap and store them in high density polyethene sleeves.
  • Replace old sleeves over time.
  • Clean the turntable regularly using a dry cloth or a vacuum in case it is made of felt mat. This protects your record from getting dust transferred on as well as plays the records more smoothly.

Using the proper storage, handling and cleaning techniques will help preserve your vinyl records from elements that can cause scratching, warping, wear and terrible sound quality. They instead will keep your records in great condition playing beautiful notes for a long time – possibly lifetimes over.

January 29, 2017     0 Comments

Don’t Be a Mark: Avoid Setting Yourself to Get Ripped Off in the World of Vinyl Records

switching-to-vinylSo you’ve heard about the renaissance of vinyl as a viable audio format in the time of iTunes and MP3. And why not? Vinyl is back to being hip and trendy. For most people, that is more than enough reason to dive into the deep end of the vinyl spectrum – with usually disastrous results on their balance sheets.

Because contrary to what many people think about the whole vinyl record industry, there is no noble cause in sticking to the format. Get that out of your head.

The thing is, there are just as many shrewd and enterprising operators in the vinyl world as there are in your local Apple store.

Think about it: this is the only time in recent history that the amplifiers, speakers, records, and other related products they are flogging are at their highest peak in terms of value. There is no noble cause and romance about vinyl now that everybody’s cashing in on a format that’s almost been forgotten.

In short, there are many operators out there who want to take advantage of your inexperience and separate you from your hard-earned money, effectively making you a money mark.

Now by no means do we want to tar every merchant with the same brush, but we do want you not to leave yourself out there for the kill.

See, I’ve had to learn this the hard way, just before the vinyl boom started. And this is why I want to share the three things you have to keep in mind before you make the same mistakes as I did.

Never Pay Over the Odds for Secondhand Items

There will be items that you may consider rare. Perhaps it’s that live album by the CTI All-Stars you’ve been looking for since you were in high school. Perhaps its that first pressing of Iron Butterfly’s “Heavy”. Vinyl dealers only know too well that when they have figured your taste in music out, and if you bite at the first price they give you on their records (seeing that you really like the band, for instance), you’ve just turned yourself into a mark that keeps on giving – even if the record they’re selling you is all tattered and torn and melted.

“But it’s the first pressing of Disraeli Gears!”

Yes, and it’s been gathering dust and mold in some warehouse that’s been flooded out twice.

Always remember that most vinyl out there is of a secondhand nature; this alone should give you an idea of what to pay for and what not to pay for.

Always Do Your Research

See, getting into vinyl isn’t as simple as buying, say, a faucet. Why? Because there is a wealth of information on faucets on the internet. For instance, you could easily find information on a particular brand and model of a faucet from a respected manufacturer at a site like Faucet Assistant. Vinyl, on the other hand, is not as cut and dried when it comes to pricing. Some records are overvalued, as are some pieces of hi-fi amplifiers or speakers.

Case in point (at the risk of sounding like a mark), an enterprising vinyl merchant in my city I paid a visit to set me up as a money mark. Me, being the romantic lover of all things analog, wanted to start my vinyl collection at all costs. In short, I asked him much he would sell me the amplifier he uses to play records at the shop. Granted, it was an old Technics SU-V7X. I didn’t know how much it was worth then, but I did have a lot of money laying around and was determined to take it home at all costs. To make a long story short, I was tricked into buying it at its sticker price when it came out in the 1980’s, as opposed to its true market value: $60. I basically paid him money to take my pants off in public.

Resist the Temptation of Rushing to Make a Purchase

Please, please, please (to quote the Godfather of Soul, James Brown) resist the temptation of buying a beat-up record that you consider to be rare because you think you won’t ever have the chance to buy it again. It’s the oldest trick in the book. Always know that you have the power to walk away from a record store that sees dollar signs all over you; it’s not going to be the end of the world if you don’t buy it right now. There are plenty of bargains out there, and vendors who sell their wares at a fair price; don’t be a money mark like I was.

You’ve now been blessed with the knowledge that will save your wallet from unscrupulous merchants out there; use it wisely.

October 16, 2016     0 Comments