This week sees the release of the film Last Shop Standing and new albums from The Young’uns and Krar Collective.
Last Shop Standing: The Rise, Fall And Rebirth Of The Independent Record Shop (Proper Films)
What started as an epitaph to the independent record retailer has become something of a triumph and although their numbers have dwindled, those shops that still survive have proved to be surprisingly resilient. We have stopped short of total extinction and the film of the book, rather than being a wake, turns out to be a celebration. Sure there’s an element of regret and the sense that we aren’t out of the woods yet. Indeed another shop closed during the making of the film and one shortly after, but there are more positive signs. It’s thanks in no small part to the Record Store Day initiative that has reintroduced queuing to the British high street, a phenomenon rarely witnessed since the January sale at the big department store lost its kudos.
The story of the rise and fall of record stores is treated fairly through a series of interviews with proprietors, many of whom have been doing what they are doing for years and years. The lasting impression is of a bunch of mavericks, whose love of music has led them to put off getting that ‘proper job’. Those that remain seem determined to carry on and with a few notable musicians adding their voices to the cause, this film serves as a rallying cry. Go shop! [Reviewed by Simon]
The Young’uns – When Our Grandfathers Said No (Navigator)
The Young’uns are three Hartlepool lads, David Eagle, Michael Hughes and Sean Cooney with close ties to their regional heritage and a love of singing. They’ve steadily acquired endorsements around the folk community, for a series of barnstorming appearances on the club and festival circuit and now have a new album, their debut for Navigator. When Our Grandfathers Said No is brimful of great harmony singing, much of it unaccompanied as they weave their voices round some fine songs.
Sean Cooney contributes several originals that have a timeless quality and are peppered with regional life. Another Storm reminds us that folk songs have most often served a purpose, The Battle Of Stockton tells of the rout of Mosley’s fascists in that town and is from where the album derives its title. Harbour Songs refers to Sean’s other job as a community artist and singer, One December Morn tells of war coming to Hartlepool. There are a couple of songs from Peter Bellamy and Roll Down is taken from his folk-opera, The Transports, that the Young’uns helped stage at Sidmouth, while another seafaring song, Rolling Down To Rio is one of the Kipling adaptions. Excellent production from fellow Teessider Stu Hanna. It’s stirring stuff. [Reviewed by Simon]
Krar Collective – Ethiopia Super Krar (Riverboat)
You might have thought a trip to Ethiopia would be in order to hear the country’s wealth of traditional music but here’s a trio based in London who’ve been making a name for themselves, firstly as a wedding band for the local ex-pat community but the last few years have also seen them touring the UK and abroad. I first caught them raising the roof of a church in Sidmouth a couple of years ago and they’re not to be missed – you can catch them touring the UK until 12th October 2012.
Produced by Colin Bass (aka Sabah Habas Mustapha), this is their debut release, recorded on a 1960s 24-track reel to reel machine in an attempt to capture the energy of their dazzling live shows. The trio’s driving force is bandleader Temesgen Zeleke who plays the six-string Ethiopian krar lyre. Mentored by Ethio-jazz luminary Mulatu Astatke, Zeleke is known for rocking out on his electrified krar ala Jimi Hendrix and you can hear him in full flight here. Zeleke also plays one-string masenqo fiddle and the washint flute and shares vocals with the glorious Genet Assefa, accompanied by percussionist Robel Taye on kebero drums. Genet’s highly ornamented singing style impresses on the mesmeric Ambassel and album closer Ende Eyerusalem and her ululations pepper the songs here, many of which are drawn from Ethiopia’s varied ethnic groups.
If you’re looking for raw, rootsy, rockin’ music, then look no further. Catch the Krar Collective live and you’ll get the full body workout too! [Reviewed by Sofi]