What is Fionn Regan up to?

I’ve enjoyed Fionn Regan’s music ever since a fellow member of a forum I posted a lot on, send me his Hotel Room EP as a ‘Thank You’ for some bootlegs (read: live recordings of a band) I sent him. After releasing his excellent debut The End of History in 2006 (10 years ago, wow!) he released a couple of more albums, the more electrified The Shadow of an Empire and the drowning-in-strings 100 Acres of Sycamore. Sometimes, to my taste, this record feels a bit too lush. It’s a beautiful set of recordings, but I didn’t connect with it as much as the previous two albums.

However, after that album, Fionn Regan returned back to basics with his 2012 release The Bunkhouse Sessions, vol. 1: Anchor Black Tattoo. This album was recorded in a most basic fashion and this means the songs are intimately presented to your ears.

 

Also, check out this live version with another favourite of mine, The Staves:

I would call it a return to form, where it not that I don’t think he ever ‘lost’ it. Still, it made me very excited for future Fionn Regan releases, especially because of the vol. 1 in the title of this 2012 record. Sadly, that has been the last music he has released on his own. Apparently, he played on the Helsinki album released last year, but besides that it’s been awful quiet in Fionn Regan land. Which is not uncommon in between albums for Mr Regan.

However.

Fionn Regan has turned into one of the more prolific Instagram users I follow. He posts multiple photos every week, mostly black and white to a following of 1200+. They are nice photos, usually lacking any words or comments from the man himself. Sometimes he also posts art work and sometimes you can see him in or near a recording studio.

In an interview with the excellent website ForFolkssake.com he says:

I find sometimes that in the world of the singer-songwriter I don’t know where I fit in…I find that I’m kind of at odds with a lot – well, I’m always going against the world and challenging it, especially the more commercial end of the singer-songwriter spectrum. I don’t understand it! I don’t feel that that’s where my stuff’s the strongest – it’s at odds with the time period maybe. When it comes to words I have a great love for words and I think that will become more of interest to me – at some point I’d love to just concentrate on words.

He meant as a lyricist or poet. Interestingly, for his audience at least, he’s now concentrating on images, not words. I like his pictures, which show a keen eye for the beautiful in the mundane, and are sometimes funny. Besides the occasional selfie of course.

Now, earlier this year Fionn Regan performed live for the first time in years, supporting Richard Hawley at Meltdown Festival. There was, according to fans on the RH Forum, no mention of a new album or new EP. But, having never seen the man play a live show, keep hoping for a new record.

We can see what Fionn Regan is up to on Instagram. But it offers, sadly, no explanation why he hasn’t made another album. Yes, there are plenty of singer/songwriters around, but Fionn’s music, with its delicate guitar parts and its poetic, cryptic yet touching lyrics offers something most of those singer/songwriters’ don’t. So whatever Fionn Regan is up to, I hope he’s also making new music. And that we’ll be hearing it soon.

Taylor Swift inspires a generation, doesn’t she?

I’m not gonna lie. I’m an appreciator of all things Taylor Swift. I have been for years, ever since my friends and I saw the video for Love Story on a Dutch music channel way back when that was a hit. Of course, it started out as a joke. We had never heard of Taylor Swift before when we saw that video, and suddenly she was in a fairytale video singing very direct lyrics about – indeed – a love story. After that we got You Belong With Me, for which the video ticked all the right (cliché) boxes, and was a nice danceable song to boot. Sure, my friends and I were not the target audience for her earliest work, but it still featured an acoustic guitar (like a lot of good music does) and heartfelt lyrics.

Continue reading “Taylor Swift inspires a generation, doesn’t she?”

Everybody’s gonna die

I know I’m not particularly original in joking that “everybody’s gonna die” as a spoiler whenever I get the chance. But Susanne Sundfør talking about Game Of Thrones and replying that phrase to Dermot O’Leary’s question “What’s gonna happen?” still made me laugh out loud. And then she breaks into song, a beautiful rendition of Moon River (13 minutes in). So beautiful, it is to die for. Her new album 10 Love Songs is out next week. Live she is absolutely amazing, I can confirm. Hope to see her play live again in Amsterdam next month.

 

Love is Coal – about the slow build-up

This week I had a discussion with a couple of colleagues. You see, To Kill A King is somewhat of a staple in our office and they have quickly turned into ‘our office band’. However, not everyone is a convert yet, so when we were discussing how many of us should go see To Kill A King when they return to Amsterdam, we didn’t reach a decision yet (3 people are definitely in, the others need a little more convincing, but eventually they’ll come around!). It’s not a quality thing, but a matter of taste.

During our discussion that we should go see the band again (I went with a colleague last time they came to Amsterdam and I saw the incarnation called Kid Id many moons ago, but that’s arguably a different band), one of my not-so convinced colleagues argued that she likes the songs but they’re hard to get into.

This I do not understand. To me, in fact, To Kill A King is one of the easiest bands to get into. Yes, the new material seems of the dark romantic kind that allows for slow building and you need to be patient for that, but for every slow builder there’s a Funeral: a catchy song with a likable chorus, produced well enough and it even allows for some dancing. And those choruses are also present in the slow-building songs.

I know the slow build-up will be rewarding. And that’s why, to me, it’s beautiful that To Kill A King take the time to slowly build up their songs. Letters To My Lover, The Dylan Fan is one of my favourite songs of their debut.

Take Love is Coal, from the recent EP Exit, Pursued By A Bear. This song starts of with a slow guitar part. And yes, your mind might wander if you’re not fully in the moment when hearing it first. But once it blooms, it blooms beautifully. You can only just appreciate it.

All this is exemplified even more by the music video. It starts off as a lyric video like many we’ve seen before, even the fan submitted artwork idea we’ve seen before, but then again I’d argue it’s also a proper music video starting a couple and a peak into their life. From Game of Thrones-inspired posters to postcards to little scribblings on a piece of paper to a The Guardian webpage… As the camera pans round while the song slowly builds we get a nice melancholy view into the lives of the people who just went to sleep.

And then the drums kick in and we rewind in high-speed and the video ends beautifully somehow, once again with some lyrics here and there, but more than that. You now get what they’re singing about: and we’ll bare these marks as reminders / with the dirt on our clothes as you find us / we two miners, but love is not like diamonds, love is coal to keep you warm… 

Nicely done. The beauty of the build-up. And all you can do is go back and play it again.

Exit, Pursued By A Bear is available now. The band are touring Europe in early 2015.

I know we are supposed to hate Amsterdam, but…

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I have a love/hate relationship with Amsterdam. Because to be honest, I’ve been in very few places in Amsterdam where I felt at home. I love staying there, going to museums, gigs and plays, but I’ve not fallen in love with it as I have with some other cities (as I have explained here)… You can do so much fun and amazing stuff there, but I have yet to find evidence that I could make it my home. Of course, the only way to be sure is to actually try. But yeah, for now, I don’t mind not living there.

Still, Amsterdam SHOULD have something. After all, it’s the biggest city in The Netherlands. And it captivates the minds of hundreds of artists throughout history. For example, there’s this beautiful song by Gregory Alan Isakov. It has a beautiful video too with Dutch canals and windmills in paper-form, so I recommend you watch and listen to this several times:

Another great song about Amsterdam is Cayman Islands by Kings of Convenience, although you’d think it’s about the islands in the title, in fact the title refers to a bearded man in the song who looks as if he has come all the way from the Cayman Islands.

I know we’re supposed to hate Amsterdam, but… I said to friend while sending her the first song… Because the songs are both beautiful. In fact, they make me question whether I’ve just been unlucky with my experiences in the Dutch capital (and too influenced by the places I grew up and the way they view Amsterdam). It’s not that I never had a fun time there, quite the opposite. I want to give the city a fair chance at winning me over, I guess. Right now, Amsterdam is just a city I’ve not fallen in love with yet. Perhaps a prolonged stay will change that. Or maybe I should idealize it in a song?

Month of Music Madness

I’ve dubbed October as my Month of Music Madness. But it got off to a rocky start. In hindsight, starting your October Music Month on 29 September is cheating anyway, but I was so excited about First Aid Kit that I ignored my body protesting for most of the night. I had feeling less than well since the weekend before and despite a very busy Monday and Tuesday I tried to do it all anyway. I dragged myself to the First Aid Kit gig, hoping that the music would magically (madly) make me feel better. It did for a while – the gig was really excellent and I don’t regret going to it, but I had to leave before the encore to drag myself home, to a bed, and get a good night’s sleep. I wasn’t sure whether it was stress, a cold or something else but it didn’t feel good and I had resigned myself to calling in sick for work the next day.

Only, I felt better the next day and I saw out the week despite the initial symptoms of just feeling crappy evolving into a proper cold, which I’m nursing as we speak, over one week later. I’m hoping it will go away soon and I’ve been on a strict regime of early nights and mostly decent food hoping I’m recovered before the next stretch kicks off…

Continue reading at Ether Site (even though this technically isn’t a Turin Brakes blog)…

Playlists

So yes, I know Winter’s almost gone in this part of the world, but my recent Winter playlist features some hints of Spring anyway. Also check out the one I made in November, if melancholy is what hits you this time of year. The one on the left is more for Autumn friends, the one on the right is the Winter one.