Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Italian jobs

Loads of new music has been sent to us recently, so apologies if we haven't got back to you before now. We'll try to surmise the best of it over the next couple of weeks, but we had to bring two to your attention first because, while one is new to us and one from a longstanding STN favourite, as well as both being very interesting small scale releases they're both based in Bologna, Italy. Now, while the Sunday Times ran a piece on Italy's new rock bands last July their wider alternative contribution has remained very much in the shadows to date and isn't particularly well reflected even online as yet, which if they've got bands of this quality hanging around suggests an untapped resource. As for Bologna's debt to it all musically, one online tourist guide limits itself to "Bologna’s live music scene is well-known for its jazz venues, which often crowd quickly with people eager to hear some great live jazz". Just in case you thought they went for the zydeco evenings, that last bit.

Like A Classic Education, Magpie Wedding have an interesting sideways approach to indie-folk and an English language exile for a frontperson. Grace - just Grace - is in fact a Londoner and sings a queasy take on the trad English folk revival, although she can faultlessly switch to something more wracked and almost threatening. Around her and collaborator Paolo's fragile acoustic guitar lays sometimes post-Arcade Fire violin and accordion slow build, sometimes jarring distortion, sometimes all-out folk-rock. If the mark of a properly promising talent is you can't pin their work to date down to one influence then Magpie Wedding are well in the hay - our notes range from post-rock guitars to Modest Mouse to Anne Briggs to Scout Niblett to Shearwater to the Indelicates to Asthmatic Kitty records in general. Their first release is an EP called Torches, named after "a loose lyrical thread that traces the uneasy serenity felt by those who still carry torches but who can no longer bring themselves to fully burn", and the lyrics betray all sorts of emotional turmoil and pensive hope. For a first release, it's one of those occasions when you feel from a new band they've already found their milieu to mark themselves out well away from the pack. It's a properly great record, in other words. Torches is self-released next Monday and is available from their gigs, which unless you live in Italy isn't much use, or from their website.

Magpie Wedding - September Song

Like A Classic Education, His Clancyness are fronted by Canadian emigrant Jonathan Clancy. Wait, we should have thought this bit through first. Clancy, who's on his way to SXSW as you read this and you may have spotted getting a couple of quotes in that Sunday Times piece through his other band Settlefish, is releasing a roughly twelve minute, eight track... EP? Mini-album? Release, then, called Hissometer Cassette, a very limited edition through cassette label Secret Furry Hole, all woozy acoustic pop like half-formed melodic dreams with the aid of reverb, drum machines and mandolin. It doesn't really fit in, which is doubtless the point.

His Clancyness - Dover

Samples of new records by people not from Bologna tomorrow.

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