Lisa Hannigan "Sea Sew"

Lisa Hannigan

Debut album from rising young Irish singer/songwriter probably best known to British audiences for her vocal performances on records by her fellow countryman Damien Rice. Hannigan's quirky, literate, acoustic folk-pop, rich with the backing of strings, brass, and glockenspiel, is more upbeat than Rice's, and is comparable to the work of Kathryn Williams and Juliet Turner. "Lille" (featured here), was the first single from the album, and has you floating away on a sea of loveliness.

The Mummers 'Tale To Tell'

The Mummers 'Tale To Tell'

The Mummers drift out of your speakers with a debut which is both exciting and new, but such is its joy that it happily convinces the past to skip along with it.

It is clear that this is not going to be an album to stick to the obvious. The track 'Wonderland' storms out of the blocks with a sound best described as early Goldfrapp taking a ride on a carousel with a Danny Elfman orchestra in tow. When the vocals drift in, they again add another layer to the piece, an enchanting almost naive little voice which adds to the fairy-tale-like ambience of the record itself.

The lead single, 'March of the Dawn', is the perfect opening statement for the band. The track is all at once triumphant, bombastic, fragile, eccentric, and really, truly, lovely. It's happy enough to suggest a summery track, but at the same time it also has a magical winter vibe, conjuring the images of colourful and hazy Christmases past.

The cover depicts the lead singer in the woods, and the record does achieve the sense of the magical outdoors from fairy tales and 60s folk music. The album is whimsical to an extent, but it never pushes too far in to any sense of unbelievability. In fact 'Tale To Tell' suggests that this is only the first step in to the forest of the Mummers, with no need to leave a trail of sweets behind.

Team Robespierre - Everything's Perfect

Team Robespierre - Everything's Perfect

A few moments in and I really wasn't sure about this (one should choose carefully what one listens to first thing in the morning - it can be a delicate time). At the end of the album now and I just have the typical complaint to make - far far too short. 18 minutes for Pete's sake - what a tease.

In some ways it reminds me of My Own Flag - another far too short work. This is a lot like a lighter (and heavier in some ways), more electro version of that masterpiece.

Each track is a glistening little pop beauty that hits you like a train and is gone again before you even get a chance to right yourself. It's not really 8-bit but the essence is there - that's all it takes to get me interested.

Fastnacht Festival - Luzern, Switzerland (Jan/Feb 2008)

Fastnacht Festival - Luzern, Switzerland (Jan/Feb 2008)

Lord, what a week. Celebrating Fastnacht is hard work (though it's a good excuse for my recent absence). While the holdrio (tea laced with schnapps) is still flowing the bands keep playing. While there are still bands playing, we keep dancing.

Fastnacht most certainly is a local festival for local people - just the way festivals should be. The general idea is that everyone gets dressed up (in outfits ranging from bizarre to the downright scary) and then makes a lot of noise to drive out the spirits of winter. The noise comes in the form of more than 100 brass bands, some with as few as 6 people and others as large as 70.

Hilariously it's almost like this is the land that time forgot - thankfully it slipped from the loving grasp of the 80s. Hang out with the right people and you may even be treated to the theme from MacGuyver though more commonly you'll hear things like Holding Out For a Hero and Time After Time. There were about a dozen absolute Swiss classics that popped up continuously - I was amazed at how many I had learnt (read: was happy make roughly melodic noises to at the top of my lungs) by the end of the festival (having said that I was pretty happy to sing along one first listen).

I made dozens of recordings throughout the week, unfortunately while the best of them were playing I ran out of batteries. This one, I think, captures the spirit of the event nicely.

Syndicate content

Back to top