Shrewsbury Folk Festival announce headliner


Guitar hero Richard Thompson will be bringing his Electric Trio to healine a Midlands festival.
Shrewsbury Folk Festival has added the influential guitar supremo – whose work has been covered by the likes of REM, The Pointer Sisters and Elvis Costello – will be headlining the Sunday night over the August Bank Holiday weekend.
Normally an acoustic performer, Thompson – who was voted one of the best 20 guitarists of all time by Rolling Stone magazine- will give a rare plugged-in show backed by Michael Jerome on drums and Taras Prodaniuk on bass and vocals.
Festival director Alan Surtees said landing the star had taken six months of negiotiations: “We are very proud to bring Richard’s rare and exceptional talents to Shrewsbury.
“It has taken us a long time to secure this for Shrewsbury and we can’t wait to see the Richard Thompson Electric Trio wow the crowds.”
The four-day event from August 28 to 31 will also feature Canadian folk royalty La Bottine Souriante, top Irish accordionist Sharon Shannon, folk rock pioneers Oysterband, as well as Kate Rusby, Peatbog Faeries and the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain.
The festival has four music stages, a dance tent, more than 100 workshops, a children’s festival, a youth programme for 12 to 17-year-olds, onsite camping, a craft fair and food village.
Earlybird ticket prices last until March 31. Adult weekend tickets are £125 and day tickets at £34 for adults.
Children under four go free and family tickets are available, with onsite camping is available to weekend ticket holders at £25 per adult.
Tickets can be booked through or direct at

My New Year’s Resolution – I pledge to return all my ‘borrowed’ CDs to the rightful owners

I have a lot of CDs.

Put it this way, research shows that the average person in the UK owns 89 CDs. I therefore own about the same as the average hamlet.

When I die, should I wish I could be buried amongst columns of my own CDs, like a terracotta army of LPs.

I have so many CDs that the shelves on my CD shelving unit (which is reserved solely for full-length, shop-bought albums in standard jewel cases for CD OCD purposes) have warped under the weight of the CDs and had to be flipped upside down to warp back to being flat again.

And you can bet your music collection that some of the CDs in my music collection probably aren’t mine. It’s probability, nothing nefarious, I can assure you.

Nevertheless, I have made it my 2014 New Year’s Resolution to scour through my discs and find these ‘borrowed’ albums, and return them to their original owners.

I plan to photograph and then blog each installment of this EPIC undertaking, and where possible I’d like to hand them back in person.

My dad can expect a pretty big bundle heading his way…

If anyone thinks they may have one of their CDs loitering in my collection, let me know and I’ll have a look at some point this year, I promise!

My Albums of the Year 2014

Here’s music to your ears – my top 10 albums of the past year.

It’s something I’ve been doing now for more than a decade – the likes of The Libertines and The Killers featured in my first selection back in 2004.

Since then each year household names like Jay-Z, Radiohead and Portishead have rubbed shoulders with the likes of Kvelertak, Phaeleh and Clean George IV, and this year’s no different.

This year has been one of the hardest to pick a shortlist from – I’d made a longlist into triple figures as the year progressed (available on request!).

But I’ve done it. There’s afro funk, there’s pop, there’s mariachi, there’s rock, there’s 10 albums that I’ve found simply unturndownable in 2014.

They are, in alphabetical order:

Badbadnotgood – III

Jazz prowess with a hip hop ethic from these Ghotsface Killah collaborators

GoGo Penguin – v2.0

Mercury nominated jazz act led the way in an exciting year for the genre

Keziah Jones – Captain Rugged

Nigerian Jones fused his African influences with raw funk and rock

Manchester Orchestra – Cope

2014 was the year that Manchester Orchestra went epic

Mariachi El Bronx – III

Traditional Mexican music played by a Californian punk band

Ought – More Than Any Other Day

A ramshackle rock classic in the making

Paolo Nutini – Caustic Love

Forget middle-of-the-road, this is the sound of a pop artist exploring his own avenues

Tom Vek – Luck

One man band Tom Vek makes it third time lucky with his electronic sound

Tune-Yards – Nikki Nack

Drum-led leftfield pop genius that deserves more limelight

Squarepusher x Z-MACHINES – Music For Robots

Robots playing guitars

Have a listen to a track from each album below, and let me know what you think to the selection – and who you’d have chosen.

List: Nine albums which have influenced me

OK, so I’ve been nominated to compile my most influential albums, the LPs which have helped shaped my musical habits today. The albums which have led to me becoming the kind of prat that buys Gigolo Aunts albums for 6p off eBay in case they were wrongly written off as one hit wonders 20 years ago.

They probably weren’t, but I’m still excited to check.

Anyway, before I begin, I’d like to just point out that this isn’t a list of my favourite albums, far from it. It’s a list of albums which in all likelihood led me to them, sure, but the favourites are a whole different list nonetheless.

I’m attempting to put them in chronological order, not of their release, but of when they impacted on my life…


My first album collection was in fact a small collection of cassette tapes, which I proudly used to play to myself on a brown portable Fisher Price cassette deck, the ones with big chunky buttons for kid fingers. I had a home recorded soundtrack from the Turtles movies, and then the complete discography of Michael Jackson, as well as a best of the Jackson 5. I played them all to death, but Bad was without a doubt my Jacko of choice.


My pops had a great vinyl collection when I was growing up, full of gems – The White Album, the Best of The Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band, Kenny Everett’s World’s Worst Record Show – but I always had to ask to have them put on for me, and then it’d be sit and listen. I think this early listening habit was a real influence on my appreciation for the long player today, and Dark Side of the Moon was one of my favourites then and still is.


As I grew up, due to my parents’ unquenchable addiction to morris dancing, I ended up exposed to a LOT of folk music. I still listen to a lot of it, but The Levellers just seemed to release this just at the right time, at a sort of musical coming of age for me discovering loads of bands for myself for the first time. And this felt familiar, yet my own. I wore out my walkman with it.


Another walkman classic for me, I’ve plucked this one for it’s duel connotations for me. It came out amongst the slew of Britpop bands I loved and still love today, so it kinda represents Blur, Kula Shaker, The Bluetones etc as far as this list is concerned anyway, and it also is the sound of a band I still play more than most nowadays finding its feet.


As I began to grow and I acquired a taste for more than pop and then Britpop music, I discovered harder music, like Rage Against The Machine, Deftones, and also Nine Inch Nails. For me Trent Reznor is one of the all time greats but an artist totally bypassed in the mainstream. His work looms over a lot of my listening tastes today. But I wouldn’t have found it and a lot of my other more metal tastes without absolutely caning Marilyn Manson, this album in particular, for a year or two.


Again, this was a gateway album for me – although I’m more likely to give this one a spin than Antichrist Superstar nowadays. It was my first hip hop love. Just so so cool.


Yeah, Endtroducing… was probably the one that most people would cite, and I certainly had that first, but Shadow nailed it here for me. It’s probably the album I’ve heard the most times in my life, and it still reminds me of cool times with cool bros.


I love Tom Vek’s music. I’ve seen him live loads, and each of his albums have been played to death by me. We Have Sound in particular, as well as being a totally flawless album, also resonates with a particular time in my life. So it’s in.


This album is one of my all time favourites, pure bliss. It also came out at a time when I was blasting threugh loads of music of all sorts, doing reviews for my blog, and perhaps not always enjoying my listening. This was perhaps pushing me to music faster or louder every time. This album just reminds me to relax, to enjoy the moment and not worry. I thoroughly recommend it.

Wow, that was cathartic.

Notable mentions – Biffy Clyro – The Vertigo of Bliss, Steely Dan – Reelin’ In The Years, G Love & Special Sauce – Philelphonic. Idlewild – 100 Broken Windows, Chemical Brothers – Surrender, Isis – Wavering Radient, Sticky Green Trees – Sticky Green Trees, Mars Volta – De-Loused In The Comatorium, Pig’s Whisper – Bringing Home The Bacon.

If anyone fancies putting themselves through the mill and doing a list, I’d love to see it. Send me a link!

Winter music review: Nine must hear albums released so far in 2014

St Vincent

Now is the winter of ace disc content!

Despite the weather this winter being a wet wash-out, the winter months of 2014 have brought a flurry of great albums to warm to cockles of any music-lover’s heart.

In not discernible order, here are the nine I reckon are the most essential listening –

St Vincent – St Vincent

Holy hell, has multi-instrumentalist singer-songwriter Annie Clark – better known as St Vincent – hit new peaks with this release. A pulsating record that explodes with alt-pop brilliance. Fans of the likes of Lady Gaga should be worshipping at her altar.

Beck – Morning Phase

Where it’s at, if you want some of the most mellow Beck tracks heard ever. A work of slow-burning genius. Light a candle and lay back.


Nostalgia 77
Nostalgia 77


Nostalgia 77 – A Journey Too Far

A soulful, funky collection, yet ramshackle in sound – an album that feels earthy rather than ethereal.

Junius – Days of the Fallen Sun

This is post-rock and metal that mixes the full-on and ferocious with lighter ambient sections, but never gets let down by the trappings of the genre, such as throat-stripping vocal screams.

Nathaniel Rateliff – Falling Faster Than You Can Run

A singer-songwriter possessed of the grizzled voice of a singer-songwriter that’s seen too much, Nathaniel Rateliff sounds like a grown-up Willy Mason singing the sings of Bon Iver. It’s an affecting combination.

Neneh Cherry – Blank Project

Do not approach this album with the likes of ’80s pop classic Buffalo Stance in your mind – Cherry’s stripped-back 2014 sound is more like Skunk Anansie’s acerbic singer Skin, singing acoustic tracks produced by Kanye West. An unexpected gem.


Get The Blessing
Get The Blessing


Get The Blessing – Lope And Antilope

Award-winning brass-based post-jazz band Get The Blessing have taken their punk jazz sax appeal and warped it beyond recognition with computer trickery. Essential listening for fans of both jazz and electronica.

Gramatik – SB1

Producer Gramatik released a full LP this winter, The Age Of Reason, which is a worthwhile listen – but what really we should be thanking him for is his release of four collections of hip hop street beats of the highest order. That’s right, four. I’ve picked SB1 for this list, but there’s 84 tracks of beat-based brilliance to lose yourself in across the four LPs


Bombay Bicycle Club
Bombay Bicycle Club


Bombay Bicycle Club – So Long, See You Tomorrow

With their first number one album, this London band shook off the unfair perception of them being just another run-of-the-mill indie band with a collection packed with subtle invention. A grower, So Long, See You Tomorrow is the kind of album that gets better each and every day you throw it on.

Mentions must also go to the LPs by Wild Beasts, Keziah Jones, Ed Harcourt, Brad Mehldau, Elaquent, James Vincent McMorrow, Les Claypool’s Duo De Twang, Mogwai, and The Souljazz Orchestra – they all deserved a place on this listicle, but for no reason whatsoever the number nine just felt right.

Any albums of 2014 you think I missed? Let me know in the comments below, or shoot me a Tweet @isaacashe.

New year, new sounds – music to keep an ear out for in 2014

Lady Gaga

I’m hoping that 2014 is going to be a vintage year for music – and looking at the list of acts ready to unleash new music in the coming months, the potential is definitely there.

One of the first likely corkers out of the traps is Keziah Jones, whose Captian Rugged album due out in January showcases a raw talent who fuses funk, rock, blues and Afropop – a style he describes as Blufunk.

Indie folk artist James Vincent McMorrow also returns in January, as do the ethereal rock act Warpaint, and post-rock act Mogwai. All promise good things.

Fans of oddball pop will be pleased and yet displeased that Lady Gaga has a new album out soon too. However don’t expect Artpop Part Two – this is a vocal jazz collaboration with legend Tony Bennett.

Also on a pop slant, guitar strummer Ed Sheeran’s long awaited sophomore album is pencilled in for early-Spring, as is a return for reclusive cult pop singer songwriter Paolo Nutini.


Ed Sheeran
Ed Sheeran


Oh, and Adele is set to release a new album. That might do quite well for itself…

I’m also particularly excited to hear new music from rock bands Maximo Park, The Horrors and Presidents of the United States of America is on the cards.

Beck should also be back with new music before February’s out.

On the harder side of the fence metal band Architects, prog metal gods Tool, legends AC/DC and radio rockers Foo Fighters should all be making a return for 2014.




And hip hop wise I’m looking out for Raekwon and Frank Ocean to live up to their billing.

As far as new acts go, I’m expecting good things from the atmospheric electronic artist SOHN, and trip hop influenced FKA Twings, as well as rockers Joanna Gruesome and Fat White Family too.

Anything you’ve got on your radar – let me know in the comments section!

Albums of the Year 2013 longlist

My full Albums of the Year 2013 longlist –
The 1975 – The 1975
65daysofstatic – Wild Light
About Group – Between The Walls
Adam Stafford – Imaginary Walls Collapse
Andrew Bird – I Want To See Pulaski at Night
Arcane Roots – Blood & Chemistry
Atoms For Peace – Amok
August Burns Red – Rescue & Restore
Bay Blue – Bay Blue
Biffy Clyro – Opposites
Black Tusk – Tend No Wounds
Bonobo – Late Night Tales
Bonobo – The North Borders
Bring Me The Horizon – Sempiternal
Cloud Control – Dream Cave
Daft Punk – Random Access Memories
David Bowie The Next Day
Deltron 3030 – Event II
Brandt Brauer Frick – Miami
The Bronx – The Bronx IV
Coheed and Cambria – The Afterman: Descension
Cult Of Luna – Vertikal
Dutch Uncles – Out Of Touch in the Wild
Elvis Costello & The Roots – Wise Up Ghost
Everything Everything – Arc
Foals – Holy Fire
F Buttons – Slow Focus
Ghostface Killah – Twelve Reasons To Die
Ghostpoet – Some Say I So I Say Light
Gnarwolves – Fun Club
Grey Reverend – A Hero’s Lie
Heliocentrics – 13 Degrees Of Reality
Hookworms – Pearl Mystic
How To Destroy Angels – Welcome Oblivion
I Am Kloot – Let It All In
Intronaut – Habitual Levitations
Jackson And His Computer Band – Glow
Jaga Jazzist – Live With Britten Sinfonia
Jamie Lenman – Muscle Memory
Jetplane Landing – Don’t Try
Jimi Hendrix – People, Hell & Angels
Jon Hopkins – Immunity
Kanye West – Yeezus
King Krule – 6 Feet Beneath The Moon
Laura Marling – Once I Was An Eagle
letlive. – The Blackest Beautiful
Machinedrum – Vapor City
Major Lazer – Free The Universe
Mark Lanegan & Duke Garwood – Black Pudding
Max Raptor – Mother’s Ruin
Melt Yourself Down – Melt Yourself Down
Mojo Fury – The Difference Between
Mount Kimbie – Could Spring Fault Less Youth
The Mouse Outfit – Escape Music
Newton Faulkner – Studio Zoo
Nine Inch Nails – Hesitation Marks
Palms – Palms
The Physics House Band – Horizons/Rapture
Pretty Lights – A Colour Map of the Sun
Quasimoto – Yessir Whatever
Queens Of The Stone Age – …Like Clockwork
The Strokes – Comedown Machine
Tape Cuts Tape – Black Mold
TesseracT – Altered State
These New Puritans – Field Of Reeds
Toro Y Moi – Anything In Return
Tricky – False Idols
Thee Oh Sees – Floating Coffin
This Town Needs Guns –
Unknown Mortal Orchestra – II
Various – Sound City Real to Reel
Vondelpark – Seabed
The Wave Pictures – City Forgiveness
White Denim – Corsicana Lemonade
Wildlife – On The Heart
Young Knives – Sick Octave
Zomby – With Love

Which is the best Album of the Year 2013

Albums of the Year 2013

IN THE festive run-up to the end of the year, it’s a time for tradition – and it’s traditional for me, as a music fan and also a big fan of making lists of things, to sit down with some headphones and a pad of paper and beat myself up royally about which 10 albums from the year I like best.
This year is no different – I’ve been compiling potential contenders since January, the first ones in the running being Everything Everything, Dutch Uncles and Bay Blue.
And now I’ve whittled it down to my favourites. These are, in alphabetical order…
Bonobo – The North Borders
A masterclass in crafting an intelligent, emotive electronica LP which grows better each spin from one of my all-time favourites. Bonobo, real name Simon Green, just never disappoints.
Daft Punk – Random Access Memories
Channelling the spirit of disco, the mysterious French duo remided the world how to have fun on a dancefloor, and also put out this year’s most irresistible pop tracks in Get Lucky to boot. Believe the hype, this album’s release was the musical event of the year.
Elvis Costello & The Roots – Wise Up Ghost
This unlikely pairing produced for me the Album of the Year, a sparsely funky LP which mixes hip hop beats with old school ska cool.
Hookworms – Pearl Mystic
A droning, pulsating, invigorating album which envelops the listener in a blanket of fuzzy rock.
Intronaut – Habitual Levitations
In what was hardly a vintage year for metal music, Intronaut’s prog-metal album was head and shoulders above its peers.
Jamie Lenman – Muscle Memory
A surprise return from former Reuben frontman Lenman saw a double-disc hard-soft approach – one half was hardcore math-metal and throat-shredding vocals, the other mixes folk, country, swing, a capella and any other genre he fancied experimenting with.
Mark Lanegan & Duke Garwood – Black Pudding
Deliciously raw, low volume alt-country from the foprmer Screming Trees frontman and his finger-picking accomplice.
Melt Yourself Down – Melt Yourself Down
A thrilling melting pot of jazz, world music, pop, funk and avant guard from a supergroup made up of musicians from the likes of Acoustic Ladyland, The Heliocentrics, Transglobal Underground, Mulatu Atstake and more.
These New Puritans – Field Of Reeds
A band determined not to travel the obvious routes, eschewing guitars and song structures from meandering brass and piano, Field Of Reeds is a subtle work of brilliance.
White Denim – Corsicana Lemonade
Another fizzing selection of experimental jam rock laced with a twist of blues, punk, prog, soul, jazz and more from White Denim.
To hear a track from each selection on Spotify click here, and cast a vote for your favourite below.
Of course, if you don’t agree, leave a shout in the comments suggesting your top albums of 2013!

Which is the best Album of the Year 2013

From the archives: Cool Kid

kid koala carpal.jpg
IT SAYS something that classic turntablist album Carpal Tunnel Syndrome comes with a free comic book and computer game.
Now that’s value for money – clearly Kid Koala, real name Eric San, is a DJ bulging with ideas.
And never content to just drop a beat and sit back, from start to finish this album is a lesson in DJ-ing technically as well as creatively.
And clearly the leg work has been done beforehand as well – there’s no Eric B or James Brown sampling here, in fact nothing obvious at all.
From the ‘wakey wakey, eggs and bakey’ of Music For Morning People through the meandering Drunk Trumpet to the clucking bizarre Like Irregular Chickens, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is some of the most original, skilled and entertaining music to come out of two turntables.

Review: Balkan brass sideshow is a blast

boban and marko markovic orchestra.jpg
IF YOU’RE looking for some music that’s exciting, energetic and just a little bit bonkers, then I suggest you get on board the Gipsy Balkan Caravan of the Boban and Marko Markovic Orchestra.
This Gipsy Manifesto LP is the group’s first album in four years, and you imagine they have been doing nothing but touring around performing their raucous, joyous Balkan brass in the interim – they clearly enjoy what they’re doing.
This collection starts off at a blistering pace with Caje Sukarije, which mixes brass with beats and a boing boing noise, and each and every track up until 2/3rds through either matches this pace or puts the foot even further on the gas.
It’s full on, and fun – but at 16 tracks long it is exhausting, like being around a host who’s trying a bit too hard to entertain. I think my three-year-old maybe enjoyed it more than me, perhaps as it sounds like tuning in to a crazy, confusing foreign kids TV show at times.
So while an upbeat diversion, perhaps this Orchestra is best suited to being a fun sideshow than a main attraction.