Posts Tagged ‘Ryley Walker’

Bill MacKay and Ryley Walker inspired collaboration continues with a 2nd volume of freshly baked tunes.
They call it, “SpideBeetlebee” , It’s been nearly two years since their much-admired 2015 debut, Land of Plenty (Whistler Records), and SpiderBeetleBee more than makes up for the long wait with a rich, resonant batch of performances that elevate the guitar duo’s sound into an ever-widening panorama of styles.

Their first album was developed over a month-long live residency at Chicago’s Whistler, reflecting MacKay and Walker‘s joy in their newly found playing relationship.As kindred spirits, they found in their playing the ability to wordlessly finish a phrase or suggest a direction while speaking solely through their guitars. SpiderBeetleBee continues fluidly through and beyond a similar path of psych-folk-blues-raga, brewing further explorations in mixed-and-matched idioms, turning composed melodies inside-out via improvisation, and finding in the blend a shared Walker/MacKay pasture, serendipitously located somewhere between Appalachian and the Highlands.
SpiderBeetleBee radiates forth with equal parts austerity and whimsy, as evidenced in the lead single “I Heard Them Singing”. Generating a nimble tempo with the aid of MacKay’s requinto (a kind of 5-string Mexican guitar), Walker’s rolling chords and the percolating tabla of Ryan Jewell, “I Heard Them Singing” suggests an unknown short-cut from Brazil to India!

Bill MacKay: 6 string guitar, requinto, glass slide
Ryley Walker: 6 & 12 string guitars

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While his previous output had unquestionably alerted the world to the musical talents of Ryley Walker, what they arguably lacked was enough of the man behind the music. That all changed with this year’s offering, Golden Sings That Have Been Sung. Moving away from the plaintive and sometimes pastoral imagery, this record seems to tap into the reality of Ryley’s life and his native Chicago. With the imagery of dive bars, friendships and the difficulty of being away from the world you know, Golden Sings That Have Been Sung feels like Ryley’s most honest work to date.

Musically too, Golden Sings is a record that feels more confident and ambitious. The hypnotic guitar work of The Halfwit In Me, the jazz-tinged percussion of Funny Thing She Said, this record sounds like a prodigious talent comfortable in the niche he has carved for himself. Best of all is The Roundabout, probably one of the most understated singles of the year; atop a bed of fluid guitar work, rolling bass and muted electronics, Ryley channels his inner Sixto Rodriguez as he lays to tape a tale of returning home from the road, drunken conversations with old friends and bad credit in your favourite bar. Whilst his self-deprecating lyrics might peg Ryley as a halfwit or a wise ass, listening to this record it is hard to see him as anything other than a star in the making.

Last year, Ryley Walker released “Primrose Green”, a contemporary folk-rock record tinged with jazz that garnered almost universal kudos. The Chicago singer-songwriter toured extensively – sometimes in the company of veteran double-bassist Danny Thompson – then headed home to record with Wilco collaborator LeRoy Bach. Accordingly, everything good about Walker steps up a gear on Golden Sings That Have Been Sung, which now boasts clarinets and a tinge of Red House Painters.

Golden Sings That Have Been Sung is out 19th August on Dead Oceans Records

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“The Roundabout” taken from ‘Golden Sings That Have Been Sung‘ by Ryley Walker, out August 19th, 2016 on Dead Oceans Records.

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There are many good singers, many more good writers of songs. More than enough to fill entire festivals with them year-round, to stuff streaming sites with more than anyone can listen to. But among that vast number, there are a tiny few in whom you can sense that something else, that spark, that undergirding realness, that makes their performance more than just-singing or just-playing-guitar. To see Ryley Walker perform is to experience a man singing to somewhere else, sending sound out to and for souls long since gone. That voice, that sound of his, the ecstatic yelps, those long, punch-drunk runs, threatening to split apart but never quite doing it, is singular. It may resonate with you, or it may not, but if it doesn’t, the thing missing in the equation is what you’re putting into it, not him.

This show at Baby’s All Right, finds him at an interesting point. Primrose Green, his tour-de-force second record, has already found itself hailed in all the right places, turning Walker into a critical darling seemingly overnight.  It’s hard to know what the effect of the crowds might be on this man, this music that requires him to give so much of himself emotionally every night. There are too many tales about how this part of the music world has split women and men in half.

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But our best evidence about Ryley’s part of this story is this night at Baby’s All Right, in a jammed show room on a Sunday night. The 38 minutes of this set consist of just four songs, played this time with a band consisting of Ryley’s Chicago-based musician colleagues on second guitar, upright bass, and keys . The foursome appeared, as far as I know, only in Chicago and at this New York date — D.C. two nights before was a threesome (minus upright bass), as was Philadelphia just before the Brooklyn show — but their playing reminds you how well they know this material. The band weaved around Ryley’s lead as they reinterpreted Primrose Green songs that most of these fans probably haven’t heard original versions of yet on record. These weren’t idle-minded jams, either, but successful experiments, one after the other, from the new “Funny Thing She Said”, to tour staple “Summer Dress”, to “Primrose Green” to Ryley’s go-to cover song of late, Van Morrison’s “Fair Play” from Veedon Fleece. Shaved, hair clipped, wearing a collar and sweater that even had Ryley laughing at himself, Walker played with all the intensity he’s mustered every time we’ve seen him, but there was a new assuredness there, too, an ability to pull back just when he needed to. These thirty-eight minutes were like all of his sets I have seen: a thing of beauty, something memorable, something unique.

If you go to see one new artist this year because you read about them on this site, I hope Ryley Walker is the one. Nobody, not even him, knows where his story is headed. But this set proved once again where he deserves to be.

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“The Halfwit In Me” off of the new album ‘Golden Sings That Have Been Sung’ by Ryley Walker, out August 19th, 2016 on Dead Oceans Records.

Ryley Walker has announced the follow-up to 2015′s excellent Primrose Green. It was one of my favorites albums of 2015 . Every time I spin the Ryley album I get completely lost in the tapestry and textures of it all.

Based on the first track of the upcoming album, “The Halfwit In Me”, I don’t see this album letting me down in that regard. Here’s some more info on the backstory of “Golden Sings That Have Been Sung”.

In November 2015, at the end of a ten-month period which saw Ryley play over 200 shows all over the world in support of Primrose Green, Ryley decided that he should probably head home. He went into the studio over the Christmas vacation to record Golden Sings That Have Been Sung whose songs were directly wedded to Ryley’s return to Chicago. Some of his formative musical memories had been shaped by the work of pioneering Chicago acts such as Gastr del Sol and Tortoise. “Jeff Parker was the guitarist with Tortoise, and I used to listen to him a lot,” recalls Ryley, who figured that, for the first time in his career, it might be helpful to enlist the services of a producer. With only one person on his shortlist, once again, all roads led back to Chicago.

Ryley had been a long-time admirer of sometime Wilco multi-instrumentalist LeRoy Bach. Back in 2009, still in his teens, he had frequented the improv nights hosted by Bach at a restaurant/gallery space called Whistler. “For me, it was an incredible opportunity,” recalls Ryley, “…because you would sometimes also have Dan Bitney, the drummer with Tortoise, and I’d get to play with these people. I mean, they were twice my age. I’m sure they thought I was annoying at first, maybe some of them still do, but I kind of looked at them like gurus – and to have these old school Chicago heads taking me in was just amazing.”

For Ryley then, the prospect of having Bach produce his album was something of a no-brainer. “It was everything I wanted it to be,” he enthuses. “I would go to LeRoy’s house every other day with a riff, and we would take it from there.” Perhaps more than any other song on the record, the opening track and lead single “The Halfwit In Me” most audibly bear the imprint of those Whistler sessions.

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A modern day classic in the style of “Solid Air”; finds Ryley Walker roaming through languid folk-jazz with rich instrumentation and deft improvisation.

Ryley Walker’s Primrose Green is the guitarist’s second LP in less than a year, and he’s already gotten way better. Last year’s All Kinds Of You was a good meditative folk record. Primrose Green has that, too, but it also has highlights like “Summer Dress” and “Love Can Be Cruel,” songs that incorporate jazz and psychedelia, unfolding into strange and exhilarating passages. It has roots in the British jazz-folk of the ’70s, but in 2015 it feels like it’s born from some other place entirely, or at least from Walker’s custom cocktail for which the album’s titled: whiskey with morning glory seeds.

Summoning up the spirit of songwriting past masters, Primrose Green takes elements of Van Morrision, Nick Drake, John Martyn and more without ever descending into pastiche – instead it’s a cosmic journey into jazz-inflected summertime rock and roll. The instrumentation positively dances amid brass, organ and fancy fret-work while the dizzying Sweet Satisfaction extends proceedings into a darker, rampaging terrain.

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Ryley Walker ”Sweet Satisfaction”(from Primrose Green)

”I came up with that in the middle of winter in a desolate Chicago last year, it gets really cold there, way below zero, three feet of snow, dangerous to go outside. I think it’s kind of a cover poet drunk song, a desperate song. You have seven or eight drinks and all of a sudden you think you’re this poet and can reach into a woman’s heart with this poem. It comes from that standing point. A drunk leaning against the wall poet. We had to cut that song down, because originally it was like fifteen minutes long. Maybe in the box set in twenty years! I like that version better but the label thought there was no room left on the record. We had to edit out that jam section in the end. It went on forever, not in a bad way, I thought it was pretty cool with the strings and that bit that sounded like Terry Riley.”

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 Ryley Walker released the first video in a series of performances from the 2015 Pickathon festival Woods Stage. The videos showcase some of the most exciting performances from this summer’s festival, held at Pendarvis Farm just outside Portland, Oregon.

On the first day of the festival, Chicago Illinois native Ryley Walker brought his distinct brand of jazz- and psychedelic-rock-inspired folk music to the Woods Stage, a picturesque pavilion nestled in a holler and made out of twisted twigs and trees. Here, Walker performs an extended version of “Summer Dress” from his classic 2015 album, Primrose GreenRyley Walker‘s extended jams are becoming part of his legacy as he continues his extensive touring.

It’s hard not to contain the excitement for much longer, As the End of the Road festival is jus finally only one week away.

Its one of the festivals I have been looking forward to all summer long with the wonderful Green Man Festival in the Brecon Beacons only last weekend and its off to another beautiful festival setting next thursday, here I am previewing some musicians to look forward to as the festival celebrates it’s momentous tenth year as one of the best weekends on the calendar. Some of the artists appearing to looking at the legacy of the festival as a whole, End of The Road festival has so many pleasures this coming weekend. Here are a few of the acts that you should not miss on the weekend of 4th – 6th September.

FRIDAY  –  BIG TOP  ~  11:45  –  12:15

Love L.U.V will be kicking off as the first band to play in the Big Top,  Borrowing their name from the immortal spoken word intro to The Shangri-Las classic Give Him A Great Big Kiss, the band give this track all the fuzzed-up ’60s, doo-wop girl-band harmonies you could possibly want.

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FRIDAY ~ GARDEN STAGE ~ 12:00 – 12:45

Ryley Walker’s second LP “Primrose Green” , has been a slow-burning joy this year with echoes of John Martyn and Nick Drake with his vocal sound and guitar work .Walker has an ability to create a dense, spellbinding atmosphere using just his rich, vintage tone and deep, almost sullen timbre. Adding an extra edge of intensity and improvisation to his live proceedings as a four piece band, Walker is a personality easy to escape with.

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FRIDAY ~ GARDEN STAGE ~ 13:30 – 14:15

Steeped in 60s Folk and Lo-Fi raspiness, Juan Wauters has an impressive ability to amass the qualities of his comprehensive influences and create something pleasantly novel and grounded, his sharp, natural progressions and untainted vocal delivery combining to make sweet, eclectic pop. With his band of friends behind him, Wauters confessional love songs will be unintentionally purposeful and create a sweet, satisfying setting.

FRIDAY  –  WOODS STAGE   ~  16:00  – 17:00 

Torres knows the darkness. The Brooklyn-based singer-songwriter otherwise known as Mackenzie Scott waits until anything—an idea, an emotion, a memory—gnaws at her, tearing at her fingers and throat until she releases it in song. Following her self-titled debut in 2013, TORRES pushes herself to even noisier extremes on Sprinter, a punishing self-examination of epic spiritual and musical proportions.

 

 

FRIDAY ~ GARDEN STAGE ~ 16:30 – 17:30

With the release of their second LP ‘Sun Coming Down‘ set for just after the festival, Ought will hopefully be providing the first taste of the new record at End of The Road. What cannot be questioned is that the group will deliver something distinctive and encompassing once again through their astute post-punk. Their live set channels the understated recordings with an added air of resolve and atmospheric poignance. Perhaps the perfect accompaniment to a late afternoon.

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Ought

FRIDAY ~ GARDEN STAGE ~ 20:00 – 21:00

Ty Segall remains as busy as he ever has been. Although we have yet to hear a record from him this year, the return of Fuzz brings great excitement for those with a fondness for Segall’s heavier explorations. Grooving riffs and psychedelic mysticism are of course to be prescribed, preparing for whig outs at an ear-piercing volume wouldn’t be quite misjudged either.

 

SATURDAY ~ THE WOODS ~ 21:30 – 23:00

What superlatives can be used that haven’t already about the music and personality of Sufjan Stevens‘Carrie & Lowell‘ is one of the most fragile, vulnerable listens you’ll hear not just this year, but period. Combined with some of his most moving compositions from his illustrious back catalogue, Sufjan’s set will be emotional, confessional and most notably, uplifting.

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SUNDAY ~ BIG TOP ~ 13:00 – 13:45

With new record ‘Freedom‘ finally set for release this Friday, The Black Tambourines will be in an especially frivolous mood come their set on Sunday afternoon. Delivering fresh, eclectic cuts from their second LP and some of their undeniable hits from ‘Chica‘ and ‘The Black Tambourines‘, the group’s swaggering Garage-Pop will be an unmissable treat.

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SUNDAY ~ BIG TOP ~ 14:15 – 15:00

In releasing two excellent records in quick succession, Jack Cooper and James Hoare have provided us with a catalogue of mellow jams that pleasingly stretch within a pop template. Their rich tone and considered harmonies naturally ooze subtleness, providing a laid-back canvas and more considered verse for the thought-provoked. With the addition of Mazes drummer Neil Robinson to the groups live forte and some amazing guitar workouts, UP’s gift for curious progressions will be delivered with extra satisfaction.

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SUNDAY ~ THE WOODS ~ 17:30 – 18:30

Alvvays forthright dream-pop is focused, slightly melancholic and undeniably absorbing. The economical guitar-pop of Alec O’Hanley, Kerri Maclellan’s emotionally-driven synth and Molly Rankin’s engrossing vocal delivery makes for a succinct production. Their live set thrives with added passion and cohesiveness that will let Alvvays’ melodies really shine as the sun begins to set on the last day of the festival.

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SUNDAY ~ TIPI TENT ~ 18:30–19:15

We cannot think of many other records that are as joyfully mystical and possess such an aura of timelessness from this year than ‘On Your Own Love Again‘, the second LP from Jessica Pratt. Delivering with elegance, Pratt’s music drifts with effortless intimacy. It would be understandable for such warmth to not transcend into a festival setting, but Pratt does so with aplomb, filling large spaces with her luscious melodies and intense poeticism.

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Ryley Walker is not of this time. Drawing likely comparisons to Tim Buckley, John Martyn and Nick Drake for his fingerpicked folk guitar style, Ryley Walker’s sophomore LP, “Primrose Green”, is less a collection of songs than it is a series of esoteric compositions culled from the ether of yore.

More bandleader than frontman, Walker isn’t burdened by traditional narrative structures; rather, the Chicago-by-way-of-Rockford, Illinois guitar picker and his band of Windy City musicians incorporate lyrical fragments into their alchemy of sound to create a series of mood pieces that flit on a wind, catching one’s ear in passing. Lyrics serve to reflect and reinforce a particular composition’s tone as much as they are used as vocal cues to the musicians working alongside Walker.

Primrose Green‘s folk influence is most present when Walker takes the lead as on the blossoming interlude, Upholding his place alongside the likes of contemporary William Tyler, Walker represents the past yin to Tyler’s futuristic yang.

Ryley Walker performing live in the KEXP studio. Recorded July 22, 2014.

Songs:
The West Wind
Summer Dress
Clear The Sky
Go Your Way My Love

The French website La Blogothèque has been on a roll lately with its Take Away Shows video series, in which we see artists playing live and unplugged and in natural light. The latest participant is Chicago’s Ryley Walker, whose album recently released “Primrose Green”, a lovely album of ornate ’70s-style psych-folk, earlier this week. The La Blogothèque crew filmed him playing his own songs Primrose Green and “Summer Dress” and then covering Van Morrison’s 1974 song Fair Play at a Parisian house party. Ryley Walker is a beast of a guitarist and singer, and that really comes across in his performances. Watch the three videos below.

Thee voice of Ryley Walker invokes beautiful ghosts. Strummed a few chords, barely launched a couplet, and the air thickened by the presence of misty long admired artists. Ryley can cultivate the patience of a Van Morrisson, the delicacy of the guitar playing of Bert Jansch, and knows from crazy in flights as only Tim Buckley knew to do.