Liu Bei

What it is like to work for a non-commercial radio station? Well, it is a lot of, er, work that we do enjoy immensely, however. And it is unpaid which of course we do not enjoy a lot. Then again, we live without playlists which is wonderful. We are right there at the pulse of music and music pulses our blood if I may say so clumsily poetically on the first spring-like Saturday evening of this year.

Thus, I may mutter *beep* if the BIG radio presenters were quicker than me playing a band. In this case of course it was Steve Lamacq of the Beeb and that makes it alright. Steve may….not that he would bother to ask me:-)

Getting there, getting there: The band in question was Liu Bei. Liu Bei is not a Chinese singer but a London band counting five members. They got their name from a radio documentary about a Chinese (kind-hearted, very tall) warlord.

Richard, singer and guitarist, joined the band (who were about to chuck it in) after touring relentlessly with three albums up his sleeve on his ownio and did not want to go along alone. Lucky coincidence, that.

The songs do derive from what Richard finds inspirational and that can be a reading a book or a listening to songs that make him want to be just as good or he walks or indeed he can party to shut down the brain for a bit. He does find that sometimes as much as restrictions pain you, you have to set yourself certain boundaries to find your way, too. Much like All We Are explained it, see the post on them in this blog.

As swimming pool echoes Liu Bei describe their music. I find that very fitting – there is a dreamlike, surreal quality to their songs. Or maybe it is because of the floor of their studio? Anyhow, anyone who quotes Mazzy Star and the Cocteau Twins as influences, is stuck on my record player with gaffer tape already.

The music leaves you to discover always something new in the songs, there’s danceable bits, addictive guitar sounds, wee extras and above all a really good voice. Add to that lyrics that go straight to the heart and there you have Liu Bei. I heard they are not to be missed live as well.

Their new EP “Goodness” is out on Museumgoer Records and is available in all the usual places. This year is starting well!

Visit Liu Bei on their website www.liubeiwins.com which will lead you to their Bandcamp, Soundcloud, Twitter etc. homes.

Here is their debut single “Infatuation” and you better get those Sharon van Etten hankie bags out, I swear, touching your heart with hot knives but it feels good.

(I wanted to put up the audio, then saw the video, that’s it, tears streaming down…)

And then we have two songs from the new EP “Goodness”. First up the title track:

And then the gorgeous “Fields” with Rachel Goswell from Slowdive:

Ant Savage

Ant Savage‘s life has been music and long may it continue!

15 years as a musician, singer and above all songwriter, he has under his belt now and accordingly his work sounds accomplished, his songwriting seems effortless but the hard work does glimpse out in-between.

He taught himself guitar as a teenager, released an acoustic album on a label in Australia, played in an electro indie synth band (yep!) which made it quite big, has appeared live on BBC AND completed a degree in music production.

So naturally we can expect a lot from the man from Bedford/UK and he delivers. He gives us “21st century folk”, understanding folk music as the description of a point and place in time that hopefully outlives the writer.

If you ask for his influences, he would say, there are too many, but Nick Drake stands out for the sheer orchestral sound he coaxes out of his guitar.

Ant Savage remembers fondly his youth on a council estate in a smaller town outside Bedford when there was still a tight-knit community and nature to enjoy around town. Later he has seen the decay in parts of Bedford and the scarceness of jobs. The jobs that were to be had were monotonous and shattered many dreams. (The song “Factory Floor” was written about this issue). Accordingly he feels quite privileged to be a musician and hopes he can make a living from it for rest of his life.

Fame, however, in its current state of C-list people fame for scandals rather than real achievements, does not interest him at all.

A very likeable man, that he is, and now you surely would like to hear some music? Hold on, before I forget, you can find Ant Savage on his Facebook page which will lead you to all important info and the MUSIC! Very nice Soundcloud page, too.

From his Debut EP “Ruby Sun” that you can get in all the usual places, I’ll give you the above-mentioned “Factory Floor”:

And here is the beautiful “Starlings”, also from the Ruby Sun EP.

Marble Sounds

Sometimes Belgium is the butt of jokes…I guess because it is such a small country and so confusing to many and also seems a by-word for European bureaucracy.

I could sing the praises now and elaborate on the diverse landscape, the friendly people, the cartoons, the architecture and ooooh, the food, never mind the beers. And do not even get me started on chocolate.

But of course this is a music blog and I dare you to give me a country that size with so many musicians…(yeah, alright, Ireland and Wales, you’re not competing here:-))

Many get it confused but Jacques Brel is as Belgian as pommes frites, even though he did flee to Paris. (Which reminds me to highly recommend the small, but beautiful Jacques Brel Museum in Brussels to you!)

My first interview ever as a shy teenager was with Luc van Acker, enfant terrible of the Belgian music scene, later with The Revolting Cocks. And what a lovely man he is – sorry to ruin your bad reputation here, Luc.

There followed many, many bands after him, that went on the whole unnoticed outside Belgium – shame! Then came dEUS and thankfully changed that.

Before this becomes a novel, remind me, I wanted to tell you about Marble Sounds.

When their beauty of a song “Leave a light on” earwormed itself into our ears, souls and hearts in the cold winter time of 2013, they had landed. Last year they still had day jobs though, however, their jobs are all to do with music and media. Else and with families it would not be possible to do what they do.

Such as releasing two albums (Nice Is Good & Dear Me, Look Up), touring relentlessly, collaborating with other musicians and working on a new album (yippee!) as well as having toured China (sic!) last autumn and last but not least building up a huge fanbase all over the globe (ah, the merits of the internet).

Some facts about Marble Sounds:

Marble Sounds are Pieter Van Dessel – vox, guitar, keys; Gianni Marzo – guitar, vox; Frederik Bastiaensen – bass; Johan De Coster – drums and  Brecht Plasschaert -keyboards.

They hail from the Flemish region in Belgium and are based in Brussels.

You can find out more on their website www.marblesounds.com which also leads you to their up-to-date Facebook page.

Now, they call what they do simply pop but let me rephrase that to indie pop ranging from the very delicate to the outright rocking! Their albums are sheer listening pleasure and yes, they are a brill live band, too.

Their songs stand the test of repeated and intense listening because they are layered very nicely and the lyrics are profound and melancholic. So, there you have it in a nutshell.

Sure, I could blather on, but why don’t you just listen to an interview I did with Pieter Van Dessel in the lashing rain in the beautiful Ardennes at the wonderful La Truite Magique Festival (I wonder if his shoes ever survived the muck) for which I would like to sincerely thank him again.

Here’s the interview (excuse my shouting, there was a soundcheck going on in the background):

And I am not going to leave without some music by Marble Sounds of course!

The famous “Leave a light on”

 

And my favourite rocker is not available online, so I’ll give you “Dance Clarence Dance”

If you want to see and hear the original “Marble Sounds”: It is a work of art, a sculpture in Musical Instruments Museum in Brussels.

And that’s it from me, good night, and leave a light on!

Twin Oaks

Some days I am deeply thankful for the internet…even though it many times contradicts its original purpose which to me is to save time. Gratefulness sets in when a band like Twin Oaks gets in contact with me.

Twin Oaks does sonically what an image of twin oaks conjures in me…lightness and strongness, brightness and darkness, feeling cozy and overwhelmed, all at the same time.

Lauren Brown and Aaron Domingo set out as a folk duo in Los Angeles. They have, however, expanded to create a grander atmosphere (be not mistaken: Atmosphere with capital A, but the instrumentation is still minimalistic). They joined up with multi-instrumentalist Louis Bernal and later with drummer Rhyan Riesgo.

Last year saw the release of mini-album “The Lion’s Den” which was well received and correctly so. For me it is an album that I cannot get enough of and it suits many moods and seasons.

So I am very happy to announce that Twin Oaks have a debut full album in the making from which a couple of songs are already available.

Find the Twin Oaks in all the usual places and their website: www.twinoaksmusic.com and Facebook
page: www.facebook/twinoaksmusic

Now, let the music speak and, yes, this music is eloquent!

This is the stunning “Find A Way”

And this is a new song of the forthcoming album: “Animal” – intoxicating!