Monday, 26 December 2011

The Midnight Sessions

The Midnight Sessions is a small project I've been working on slowly over the last couple of months. My usual approach to recording my voice is that I'll sing out, to my voice's full capacity I guess. Its louder but then again it suits the style I usually play in. Usually when recording demos of my songs or covers of other peoples songs I will do it all on separate tracks. Recording the rhythm guitar part first then recording the lead guitar over it and then the vocals over that etc.

These sessions take a much more simplistic and effortless approach to recording. It came from one night where I couldn't sleep. It was late and I just began strumming gently with my fingers and singing quietly so as not to disturb my parents who had guests round to the house. I guess I just liked singing these songs much quieter than I would usually belt them out so after playing a couple I just hit record and did about 3 or 4. Over the next month I just did couple more in the same style here and there and put them to a cd.

These recordings were done in one take. The sound is intended to be very raw, unrehearsed, meaningful put you to sleep kind of music. All the songs are covers from varying artists such as Ryan Adams, the Gaslight Anthem, Augustana and a few others so I'm just putting this cover of Gaslight Anthem's 'American Slang' out as a sampler for you to listen and I hope you like it. This isn't how I'd play it live, remember its for quiet time. Anyone who wants the full CD can have one just message me. Thanks for taking a look.

Alex Magrath - American Slang Cover (Click here)

Monday, 12 December 2011

Best Songs of 2011

Following on from last weeks list of Best Albums released this year, the next installment is my twenty best songs of 2011. There is a twist though.....
The songs don't necessarilly have to have been released in 2011, this list is based on when I first heard the song. If I heard it this year for the first time or if its at the top of my most played list on i tunes then it is eligible. You get me? To make it more interesting and less repetitive I'm only allowing myself one song per artist. Here we go:

1. Against Me! - Because of The Shame
2. Chuck Ragan - Meet You In The Middle
3. Olin and The Moon - Say Goodbye
4. The Horrible Crowes - Ladykiller
5. Chamberlain - Raise It High
6. Ryan Adams - Lucky Now
7. Jack Savoretti - Once Upon A Street
8. Two Cow Garage - Jackson, Don't You Worry
9. Augustana - Shot In The Dark
10.  Dave Hause - Meet Me At The Lanes
11. 3 Doors Down - Every Time You Go
12. Lucero - What Are You Willing To Lose
13. The Wallflowers - Three Marlenas
14. R.E.M. - Uberlin
15. Dan Andriano - This Light
16. Richard Thompson - 1952 Vincent Black Lightning
17. Brian Fallon - Goodnight Irene
18. The Avett Brothers - I and Love and You
19. Jason Mraz - I'm Yours
20. Nashville Skyline - Carry You Home

The last one won a toss up against Wakey! Wakey! - Dance So Good, can't have them all...

I hope you all take time look up some of these songs, create this same playlist on spotify, re-jig the order, whatever you want  but its full of good songs!

I should really charge for providing this useful and informative service so make the most of it while its still free!

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Best albums of 2011!

This week you get my favourite albums released this year and if you have some time, definitely look up some of thesealbums and the songs recommended:

1. The Horrible Crowes - Elsie

Superb lyricism and some fanatastic melodies make for a very sedate, tranquil album about heartbreak, focusing particularly on two of snger Brian Fallon's ex girlfriends and finally on his wife in 'I Believe Jesus Brought Us Together'. Brian shows what fantastic range he has as he ranges from whispers right up to the wails of 'Mary Ann' a more up tempo agressive number. Besides 'Mary Ann' the other 11 songs are very easy listening perfect for times of relaxation and reflection. Highlight songs: 'Behold The Hurricane', 'Ladykiller' and 'Blood Loss'

2. Chuck Ragan - Covering Ground

A typical Chuck Ragan folk album, based around the acoustic guitar with the superb musicianship of Jon Gaunt (fiddle) andn Joe Ginsberg (upright bass). It particularly focuses on life on the road, the camaraderie of bandmates and the travelling life of a singer songwriter and is in my opinion his best solo album to date. I think theres a real good feel about the album, the kind of songs to keep you warm on these cold winter nights. Highlight Songs: 'Meet You In The Middle', 'Nothing Left To prove' and 'Wish On The Moon'

3. Against Me! - White Crosses/ Black Crosses

White Crosses was released in 2010 but still counts as it was re-released this year with its acoustic accompaniment 'Black Crosses'. I was new to Against Me until this year as I slowly discover more and more of these lesser known punk bands. Singer Tom Gabel mixes upbeat punk rock with his unique and direct lyrics which have had me singing at my steering wheel for months now. While many old school Against Me! fans beleive the band have sold out, I think its their best work. Black crosses is essentially the same album but the songs are either acoustic versions or demos. Highlight Songs: 'Because of The Shame', 'White Crosses' and 'Bitter Divisions'

4. Augustana - Augustana (eponymously titled)

This is Augustana's fourth album and whilst not perhaps hitting the critical heights of previous albums I think its a solid album that has dominated my playlists this year. I think Dan Layus' song writing has definitely improved with each album they have released. The songs are mostly love songs but that isn't to say that they are all slow numbers. Very easy album  to listen to, very melodic and Dan Layus has a great voice, its just a shame that the band have had difficulties with their lineup. I sincerely hope there is a future for this band... Highlight Songs: 'Shot in The Dark', ' Steal Your Heart' and 'Wrong Side of Love'.

5. Dave Hause - Resolutions

New to the music of Dave Hause and The Loved Ones this year I decided to check him out before the Revival Tour and found myself enjoying what he was writing about. I found they were songs about the realities of life, road accidents, friends going through hard times, how we drift from all of our old friends and re-unite to reminisce. Its good music about real stuff, not the heavier punk rock that The Loved Ones produce. Great to chill out to. Highlight Songs: 'Meet Me at The lanes', 'C'mon Kid' and 'Pray for Tuscon'/

6. 3 Doors Down - Time of My Life

A return to form for 3DD in my opinion. Their previous self titled effort didn't really hit the mark for me except for three or four tracks. This album is lots better. A good rocky, upbeat album with some anthemic songs in it. Although this is irrelevant to the music I would say the front cover to this album is my favourite album artwork of the year too. Highlight songs: 'Everytime You Go', 'Believer' and 'When You're Young'

7. Olin and The Moon - Footsteps

I'm sorry to say that I only discovered this band through the TV Show 'One Tree Hill'but I'm glad I did. Singer David LaBrel croaks his way through 15 songs. As with most albums on this playlist its very easy listening stuff rangeing from very slow mournful songs to cheery upbeat acoustic rock. These guys still haven't been discovered by many, they don't even have a proper Wikipedia page as far as I can see but it goes to show that the underground scene hides lots of hidden treasures like these. Highlight Songs: 'Say Goodbye', 'Not In Love' and That Light'

8. Dan Andriano in The Emergency Room - Hurricane Season

To complete the Revival Tour quartet set, Dan Andriano was entirely new to me until September when I was impressed with his soulful voice. This is his first solo album and its very good. The songs are mostly love songs, talking about missing your significant other but the lyrics are well written and meaningful and again, this is another very easy to listen album. If you're not sure Ive sold it to you, check the following songs out perhaps before committing to the whole album: 'This Light', 'Hurricane Season' and 'Me and Denver'.

9. R.E.M. - Collapse Into Now

R.E.M.'s last few studio albums have been slammed in most articles I have read but I think they were still doing ok. No, they may not hit the heights of 'Automatic for the People' but there are still plenty of songs on this (their final studio album) to keep their fans entertained. Some are typically upbeat with Michael Stipe's, confusing lyrics and unusual song subjects and some are more heartfelt a good mix and well worth a buy! I was planning to write about their break up but never got around to it. To make my top ten can be tribute enough... Highlight Songs: 'Uberlin', 'It Happened Today' and 'Oh My Heart'.

10. Ryan Adams - Ashes and Fire

I had been warned about Ryan Adams haviing varying styles of music depending on which album you buy but I heard him play 'Lucky Now' acoustically and had to buy the album as I thought it was one of the best songs I'd heard this year. The rest of the album was what I expected, its a very slow and meaningful album for quiet times but there are some good songs worth listening: 'Lucky Now', 'Come Home' and 'Chains of Love'

There are many albums released this year that I have intended but not got around to listening to. Im sure this list would have been slightly different but here it is. I hope you take the time to look a few of these songs up on Spotify, i tunes, you tube etc.

Next week I'll be giving my top 20 songs that I have discovered in 2011... Stay tuned.