As we reported last week, Newport Folk Festival organizers have been revealing the acts set to perform at this year’s event slowly but surely. The latest additions to the fest’s lineup are HT faves Michael Kiwanuka and The Lumineers as well as Houndmouth and The Last Bison.
The 2013 edition of the iconic Newport Folk Festival takes place July 26th through July 28th at scenic Fort Adams State Park in Newport, Rhode Island. You can still buy passes to each of the three individual days as well as two-day passes, but don’t expect them to be around for very long. Be sure to keep your eyes on @NewportFolkFest for additional lineup reveals.
All week long we’ve been looking at our staff’s choices for the best albums of 2012 five LPs at a time. Our submissions include all styles of music from bluegrass to jazz, jam to indie, electronica to rap, as well as everything in between. At the end of the day, we’re a music blog. Everyone is encouraged to write about what they like with no motives, no editorial biases, and no strings attached. We hope that comes across in our picks.
We’re in the home stretch, so let’s check out numbers 10 through 6…
Key Tracks: I Will Wait, Lover of the Light, Broken Crown, Ghosts That We Knew
Sounds Like: The Avett Brothers on steroids harmonizing with CSN at an Old Crow Medicine Show hoedown
The Skinny: Marcus Mumford and his boys from London delivered one of the most contagious albums of the year. A non-stop euphoric choke hold to the senses, the punchy Babel unleashes the bluegrass and folk quartet into a hooting and hollering love fest complete with vulnerable and dark lyrics that provide adept imagery into the plight of tormented heartbreak. Lyrics that pull one’s heart strings, strongly influenced by literature, are covered by heavenly harmonies over banjo picking, mandolin strumming and plush piano playing. Mumford’s vocals touch deep into the soul, like a more powerful raspy David Gray, warranting repeated listening to discern meaning in grand scope within the musical adventure.
Only 24 years old, Michael Kiwanuka deftly hides his youth behind a scraggly beard and a penchant for resurrecting the soul stylings of a prior generation. On Home Again, Kiwanuka’s fantastic debut album, he channels Sam Cooke through the prism of Sly & The Family Stone at their most blissed out. The album’s lush arrangements conjure up an era of urban unrest fueled by the summer heat but quelled by the need to find a sense of inner peace.
At Webster Hall, Kiwanuka did not attempt to present his album in all its ornate glory. Rather, on acoustic guitar, he led a relatively sparse band through the rolls of Home Again and I’m Getting Ready and a spacey run through Jimi Hendrix’ May This Be Love. Kiwanuka and his band often let the music take over, allowing songs like Tell Me A Tale to follow their own path. In a little over an hour, Kiwanuka not only showed extraordinary promise, he offered a glimpse at what might have happened had Jimmy Cliff or Toots Hibbert opted against reggae superstardom for a life of Van Morrison-style jazz and soul.
Here’s a full set of photos from Michael Kiwanuka at Webster Hall…
It being Friday, and just shy of half-way through the ninth month of the year, this morning I (@andykahn) decided on a whim to tweet out my Top 9 Albums of 2012 (so far). Along with the nine I chose, I also added a handful of, “Honorable Mentions,” that didn’t quite make the cut. With a quarter of the year left, 2012 has thus far proven to be another impressive year of album releases.
Don’t be surprised if you see the name Michael Kiwanuka popping up everywhere in the coming months. The U.K.-based singer-songwriter is on the verge of becoming this year’s breakout British import, thanks in part to his signature brand of folk-infused soul music. Think something along the lines of Nick Drake meets Bill Withers. Earlier this week Kiwanuka released his full-length debut album, Home Again, stateside exclusively through iTunes, which will be available digitally elsewhere on May 8, with a physical release set for July 31. The 11-track record was produced Paul Butler from The Bees, and also features a track produced by this year’s IT-producer Dan Auerbach.
Kiwanuka recently released the music video for the album’s breezy lead single I’ll Get Along, which should give you some inspiration to start putting together your summer music playlist.