Wednesday, October 08, 2008

James Yorkston - When the Haar Rolls In


Back in 2002, the NME sought to assure its readers in the review of James Yorkston’s debut album Moving Up Country that here was folk music that it was OK to like. Fast forward six years and it’s hard to imagine them saying the same thing in the midst of a landscape where every elfin-featured young thing with an acoustic guitar is touted as ‘folk’. Maybe what they were thinking of back then was that Yorkston was OK because he was on Domino Records and wasn’t like that old-fashioned musty British folk, redolent of men with beards, Arran jumpers, weirdly named real ales and songs with 160 verses. In the middle of a New Rock Revolution, that was not what the kids wanted.

Cool people will surely then baulk at the prospect of Yorkston putting himself firmly back in the ale and beards camp with his recording of Lal Waterson’s Midnight Feast, on his new album When the Haar Rolls In, with backing vocals provided by the Brit-folk establishment that is the Waterson clan. Actually, the cool people aren’t even interested in the latest offering from Fife’s premier songsmith. Let’s be realistic, this album is unlikely to win Yorkston many new fans, but it is equally likely to confirm to his existing fans his songwriting genius.

I don’t use the word ‘genius’ lightly either. James is a man who has now crafted four exquisite albums of melancholic and beautiful folk music, each one subtly different from the last, each one equally appealing. There’s certainly been a shift in style since the previous album Year of the Leopard and its stripped-down acoustic introspection. On Haar, Yorkston brings back his friends for a much fuller arrangements (the Athletes are still there, despite being dropped from the titles – mainly because continually playing with a full band isn’t financially viable) involving harpsichord, vibraphone, bouzuki and a host of more conventional instruments. The result is quietly spectacular. We're back in very similar territory to Moving Up Country and every track is excellent, from the long, story-song title track to the sparsely worded Would You Have Me Born With Wooden Eyes?, each song has a ton of loving care invested and there’s not a second wasted even when nine songs last 50 minutes.

It’s to the credit of Domino Records, that not only do they go on releasing James Yorkston albums despite lack of big sales, they even put together a lavish box-set edition of the album for the most committed fans. Me? Of course. I didn’t rush into it, because for £30 I wanted to be sure that I’d really like the album. Fortunately, it only took listening to the two songs posted by Toad to convince me that it was worth getting. Now, several weeks later, I know that it’s his best album to date. For those who have yet to discover the magic of Yorkston, it’s an ideal place to start.

mp3: James Yorkston – Would You Have Me Born With Wooden Eyes?
mp3: James Yorkston – Tortoise Regrets Hare (Down the Tiny Steps Remix)
mp3: Suzy Mangion – Are You Coming Home Tonight?

The first song is from When the Haar Rolls In. Buy from Rough Trade or Bleep. The second song is from the remixes CD, included in the box set and the cover of Are You Coming Home Tonight? by Suzy Mangion is from the CD of James Yorkston covers by the likes of David Thomas Broughton, Viking Moses and King Creosote, also in the box set. Buy the lovely box set from Domino Mart. It’s well worth it.

By the way, it you’re wondering what haar is, look here for the answer.

9 comments:

water01 said...

What a fine day! Let’s talk about UGG Boots’ history today.

From Australia's Official Dictionary: The Macquarie Concise Dictionary - ugg boots / Australian 100% merino sheepskin lined boot. Also called ugh boot , ugg boot.

Did you know that Australian Sheepskin Ugg boots have always been called Ug, Ugh or Ugg boots and have been made in Australia for almost 200 years? "We always called them Uggs, Smith says, "long before it was a trademarked brand." Brian Smith, Founder UGG Holdings, Inc. Los Angeles Magazine October 1st, 2001

The Ugg Boots Story

The original Ug Boot. "Ug," (also spelled "Ugg" and "Ugh" in Australian dictionaries) is not a brand name but an age old generic term for this style of Australian-made sheepskin boot. In Aussie slang, the Ug name is short for "ugly." In terms of comfort, however, the Ug Boot is a thing of beauty. The softness of the Australian Merino sheepskin produces a boot with a snug, cozy, form-fitting feel that’s more like a sock than a shoe, yet it’s rugged enough for outdoor wear. The fleece lining has the astonishing property of providing year-round comfort. In cold weather, the plush fleece provides an insulating layer of warmth by trapping your body heat, much like goose down does. But in the heat of summer, the natural fibers of the fleece actually cool your feet by wicking away perspiration.

Growing Up in Uggs

By the 1970s, in Perth, the largest city on Australia’s West Coast, Ugg boots were being manufactured by several small companies in the area. Perth has much the same climate as Southern California and is also a haven for surfers, whom Aussies call "surfies." And it was the community of surfies at the great surfing beaches at Margaret River near Perth who first adopted Ugg Boots as their footwear of choice and made them a symbol of the Aussie surfing lifestyle.

Ug Fever Spreads

From the beaches of Western Australia, Ugs were soon seen on the feet of East Coast surfers from Brisbane to Sydney. And it wasn’t long before some of these surfers -- the ones who traded their surfboards for skis in the winter -- found that their Ugg Boots were just as at home in the ski resort areas of the Snowy Mountains as they were on the warm sands of Sydney’s Bondi Beach.

It was Aussie surfers, traveling the world in search of the perfect wave, who first introduced their mates in Southern California to the pleasures of the Ug Boot. Ugs soon became a cult fashion among those L.A. surfers who could depend on a buddy ‘down under" to send them a pair of boots.

Ug Essentials

Today the Ug "secret" is out. You’ll find these versatile ugg boots to be in fashion on beaches from San Diego to Santa Cruz and in ski resorts from Tahoe to Vail. And today, you don’t have to "know someone" in Australia who will send you a pair, since there are now a number of companies importing boots of this type. But, if you want the genuine article, you do have to know what you’re looking for because, no matter how they spell it -- Ug, Ugg or Ugh -- there are several importers with look-alike products that fall short of being the real thing.

If you want genuine Ugg Boots -- well-made boots with all the qualities that made the original so desirable -- you’ll want to make sure that.....

The boots are made from 100% Australian Merino Sheepskin. This will ensure your purchase is made of the finest Sheepskin hide avaliable.

Please Note:

Beware of very cheap imitations... quite a few boots on the market are made of cow suede with sawn on sheepskin inner fleece off cuts.... Don't take the chance and purchase these boots.... the external cow suede does not breath like 100% sheepskin does and will leave you with a smelly sweaty boot... But I must say these boots do look like the real thing but just don't cut the mustard when compared to authentic ugg boots
What do you think after you reading this UGG Boots history? Just hope you’d like it, see you next time!

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Though his debut album Moving Up Country was a nice slice of modern folk, Yorkston really excells in small doses--witness his 10" singles, which offer up one long song and an electronica remix on the flipside.

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Well, they better get ready for even more tunes from the charming newcomer, as his debut album 'Up All Night' is being released

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