Communion Melbourne Announces October Lineup

Communion Melbourne
Image Courtesy of Communion Melbourne

On the weekend of the 19th, 20th and 21st Melbourne folk and acoustic fans are going to be spoilt for choice (well, more so than they usually are, the lucky bastards). We’ve already booked our flights and have mapped out an itinerary for Friday, Saturday and Sunday that starts with JamGrass, moves through The Workers Club Sunday matinée featuring Hat Fitz and Cara Robinson and will be capped off with the October edition of Communion Melbourne at The Toff in Town.

And while we’re super excited about every stop over that weekend there’s one thing that really trumps anything – the lineup of Communion Melbourne will feature a DJ set from Communion founder and Mumford and Sons ivory tinkler Ben Lovett. The first Communion Australia we ever went to (the one that was the final push for us to start Timber and Steel) also saw Mr Lovett DJing so it feels as though we’re finally coming full circle.

And of course the rest of the lineup for Communion Melbourne is not to be ignored. Howl at the Moon, Mike Noga, The Falls and Jordan Leser will all be bringing their substantial folk and indie cred to what is bound to be a night of amazing music. And finally the night will feature screenings of the latest Sideshow Alley episodes – really you can’t think of a better way to spend a Sunday.

We’ve already secured our tickets and word on the street is they’re selling pretty quickly so we recommend you get in now. For more information, including how to get your hands on tickets, check out the official Facebook event here.

New Communion Compilation New Faces Heavy on Australian Artists

New Faces
Image Courtesy of Communion

As you’re probably aware we’re a little bit obsessed with UK record label/regular live night/music community Communion which is probably down to the quality of artists they associate themselves with. Founded by Ben Lovett (Mumford and Sons), Kevin Jones (Cherbourg), and producer Ian Grimble Communion has always had an eye and an ear for talent and is quite often the launching point for Australian artists in the UK.

On Monday the 23rd April Communion are releasing their New Faces compilation featuring a bunch of artists featured on the label this year. And in amongst those artists are a bunch of Australian names including Gotye, Boy & Bear, Julia Stone and Matt Corby. New Faces also features tracks from a bunch of other artists we’ve featured on Timber and Steal such as Michael Kiwanuka, Daughter, Ben Howard, James Vincent McMorrow, Nathaniel Rateliff and the first official release from Andrew Davie’s brand new project Bear’s Den.

The full track list is below. Keep an eye out for an Australian release soon.

Michael Kiwanuka – Tell Me A Tale
Julia Stone – Let’s Forget All The Things That We Say
Joe Banfi – Olive Green
Gabriel and the Hounds – What Good Would That Do?
Daughter – Love
3 Blind Wolves – Emily Rose
Ben Howard – Three Tree Town
Keaton Henson – To Your Health
Lucy Rose – Middle of the Bed
Matt Corby – Kings and Queens, Beggars and Thieves
Boy and Bear – Milk and Sticks
Jocie Adams – Bed of Notions
Dan Croll – Marion
The Apache Relay – American Nomad (Communion version)
James Vincent McMorrow – Hear The Noise That Moves So Soft And Low
David McCaffery – Stars
Nathaniel Rateliff – Just For Me But I Thought Of You
Will Nott – Won’t Go Back
Bear’s Den – Pompeii
Gotye – Bronte

Michael Kiwanuka, Ben Howard, The Staves, Ben Lovett and Bear’s Den Cover John Martyn

Communion

UK record label/regular live night/community Communion had a pretty big presence at this year’s SXSW festival showcasing some of the most exciting talent on their roster. While they were in the US Communion regulars Michael Kiwanuka, Ben Howard, The Staves, Ben Lovett (Mumford and Sons) and Bear’s Den took to the studio for the “Communion Jam”, recording a cover of John Martyn’s “Over the Hill”.

The result is in the video below. We love this track – fingers crossed it will be available to download sometime soon.

Simone Felice Announces Solo Album, Free Download

Simone Felice
Image Courtesy of Simone Felice

Timber and Steel contributing editor Thom Owen Miles decribed The Felice Brothers’ latest album Celebration, Florida as “an album I’d been hoping someone would make for years” when he picked it as his favourite of 2011. So we’re assuming he’s more than a little excited to learn that Simon Felice, the drummer, writer and vocalist for The Felice Brothers, has announced a solo album in 2012.

The self titled debut album is due to be released on the 2nd April next year and was produced by Felice with some help from Ben Lovett (Mumford and Sons). Members of Mumford and Sons guest on the first single “You & I Belong” and the rest of The Felice Brothers and a girls’ choir from Felice’s hometown contribute to the album opener “Hey Bobby Ray”. The full track listing is below:

1. Hey Bobby Ray
2. You & I Belong
3. New York Times
4. Courtney Love
5. Stormy-Eyed Sarah
6. Charade
7. Dawn Brady’s Song
8. Gimme All You Got
9. Sharon Tate
10. Splendor in the Grass

And as an extra special treat Simone Felice is offering up the track “New York Times” as a free download here (and you can also listen to it below).

Communion Features on Bands in Transit Part 2

Communion
Image Courtesy of Communion

The final two videos for Bands in Transit’s feature video series on the UK’s Communion club night, record label and community (the rest of the series is here). Filmed on Hackney City Farm east of London, the videos capture up and coming folk talent in its rawest form and the result is wonderful.

First off the bat is UK folk stalwarts Alessi’s Ark. Alessi’s Ark is a name that anyone with a passing interest in the London folk scene is probably familiar with and here they perform their track “Time Travel” featuring Ben Lovett (Mumford and Sons) on ukulele.

The final Communion/Bands in Transit video comes from Monument Valley, probably the most electrically orientated of the series. Monument Valley perform their single “Decade of Divas” which is the perfect way to finish what has been an excellent partnership

Communion Features on Bands in Transit

Communion

It seems like everybody with a camera and an interest in live music is starting a one-take-acoustic-outdoor-performance video series and posting it online. We’re pretty sure La Blogothèque were the instigators of the craze (if they weren’t the first, they’re definitely the most influential) which has seen video series popping up all over the world, including Australia. And we’re loving all the fantastic content that is being produced

While many of these film projects are simple point and shoot exercises (like the wonderful Your Take Sessions out of Adelaide), many have opted for a gimmick to capture our imaginations (Music in a Cab! Music on a Balcony!). One such project is Bands In Transit out of the UK who film bands performing out the back of a Ford Transit van (which also seems to be a sponsor for the videos). The series is pretty new but they’ve already managed to score some pretty amazing artists and the videos are really well produced.

Bands In Transit have teamed up with record label/club night/music community Communion to produce a series of videos featuring artists connected to the group all filmed at Hackney City Farm east of London. In an introduction video Bands In Transit interviews Communion founders Ben Lovett (Mumford and Sons) and Kevin Jones (Cherbourg) about the record label/club night/music community interweaved with snippits of the performances captured on the farm. Oh, and there’s pigs as well.

Kyla La Grange, the first Communion-connected artist to get the full Bands In Transit treatment has a a really unique voice and manages to deliver an electric performance which still maintains a folk sensibility. La Grange is definitely an artist we’re going to be keeping an eye on.

Andrew Davie’s new band Bear’s Den is pretty much his old band Cherbourg playing pretty much the same type of music, which makes one wonder why they bothered with the change at all. Not that we’re complaining – anything from these guys is welcomed regardless of how it’s packaged. Bands In Transit caught this lovely performance of “Stubborn Beast” featuring Ben Lovett on guest ukulele.

Bands In Transit also captured songs from Alessi’s Ark and Monument Valley on the day but their videos are still waiting to go up on the official web site. If you like what you have seen/heard above ensure you check back in with Bands In Transit for more product placement inducing live music.

Review: Communion, “The Flowerpot Sessions”

Flowerpot Sessions
Image Courtesy of Communion

In July last year Communion, the UK based nu-folk club night and burgeoning record label started by Ben Lovett (Mumford and Sons), Kevin Jones (Cherbourg, The Bear’s Den) and producer Ian Grimble took over London venue The Flowerpot for a series of very special shows. The shows, featuring the likes of Pete Roe, Passenger, The Staves, Mt. Desolation, Damien Rice, Marcus Foster, Matthew and the Atlas plus Australians Angus and Julia Stone and Sarah Blasko, saw the performers not only play their usual live sets but also had Communion encouraging them to collaborate with each other and write brand new material.

The result is the two or three (depending which version you buy) disc album The Flowerpot Sessions bursting with awesome folky goodness. The copy I managed to get my hot little hands was the standard, two CD edition but I’m not complaining – that’s over two hours of music from some of my favourtie up and coming bands.

Beginning with Kill it Kid and The Joker and the Thief collaborating on the awesome blues number “Something Funny”, you know that The Flowerpot Sessions is going to be something special. For a live recording I’m surprised at how crystal clear the production is on the album and how little audience noise has been captured. The skills of the performers combined with the outstanding mixing/production means a very polished album that could well have been put together in a studio.

It’s almost impossible to do justice to just how many standout tracks there are on The Flowerpot Sessions. Almost every single song is a masterpiece but a few do need a special mention:

The Treetop Flyers, a group that hasn’t been featured on Timber and Steel yet but really should be, contribute their track “It’s About Time” to the first CD and it’s an absolute gem. The opening guitar riff is almost Celtic in the way it dances over the guitar but Reid Morrison’s lead vocals drag the song straight into the twenty first century with a sense of pain and longing.

The two contributions from Angus and Julia Stone, “To Let Go” performed with Sarah Blasko and the Grease cover “You’re The One That I Want” performed with Damien Rice, are at the standard you’d expect from the brother/sister duo. I’ve heard “You’re The One That I Want” so many times from the Stones so this version is almost passe (even with the inclusion of Rice) but “To Let go”, which was written for the performance, is just mesmerising.

Probably my favourite track off the entire compilation is the brand new Passenger song “Patient Love”. Mike Rosenberg’s ability to craft a seemingly simple song with the lyrical depth and maturity of “Patient Love” is a true gift – I really hope this one makes his next album.

Other highlights include “Mexico” by The Staves, “Bellina” by Pete Roe, “Movement” by Marcus Foster, “For Birds” by James Moss (featuring harmonies from The Staves), “All I Want” by Sarah Blasko, “Beneath The Sea” by Matthew and the Atlas, “Little Eyes” by Crowns and the awesome Blind-Boys-Of-Alabama-esque “Old Fashioned Morphine” by Tom McKean & The Emperors.

Overall a stunning album from start to finish – and I’ve only heard two of the possible three discs. If this is an example of the talent that Communion is able to muster it’s no wonder that they’re one of the hottest labels in the UK right now.

The Flowerpot Sessions currently has no Australian release date (despite the inclusion of the Stones and Sarah Blasko). If you’re keen to have a listen to tracks from The Treetop Flyers, Kyla La Grange, Passenger and Matthew and the Atlas head over to this I-D Magazine article and scroll down to the end for a link to some free downloads. Other than that you have to scour the interwebs for a download or hard copy site that delivers to Australia. If we hear anything about a local release you’ll be the first to know.

Watch the “trailer” to The Flowerpot Sessions below:

Interview: Ben Lovett of Communion

Ben Lovett
Image Courtesy of Chords and Candles

Aviela Kraikos at Chords and Candles caught up with Ben Lovett (Mumford and Sons) to chat to him about record label/indie night Communion and what 2011 holds for them. Aviela has kindly let us post the interview, especially as Lovett talks about Communion’s plans for Australia. This interview follows one from our chat with the other face of Communion Kevin Jones.

So a little background info on Ben. Benjamin Lovett, along with fellow musician Kevin Jones and producer Ian Grimble run the Communion night at the Notting Hill Arts Club and more recently the Communion record label. Ben is also a member of the fantastic double Grammy nominated band Mumford and Sons, and as well as this, has found time to collaborate with the lovely Ellie Goulding on one of her latest tracks, “Your Song” (a cover of the Elton John classic), which is available to download on iTunes.

So, where to start? I first met Ben at the Communion Christmas special, Notting Hill Arts Club, on 5th December 2010, where we had a little chat and he said that he was really excited about what was going to be coming up for Communion in 2011. I asked if maybe we could arrange a proper chat so I could find out more. There is no denying that at Chords and Candles and at our “vrother-from-another-mother” site Timber and Steel in Australia, there is a lot of love for Communion and what they do, so we were all pretty excited about the chance to talk to Ben Lovett about the future and who he sees big things happening for.

So fast-forward to the Shuga Buddha Christmas party, on the 15th December at The Bedford in Balham, London. The party was amazing and had a great bunch of artists performing: Moon Visionaries, Handshake, Public Service Broadcasting and The Joker and the Thief. Ben was there to do the DJ set for the evening (see above) and agreed to catch up with us at the end of the night.

We caught up outside the venue when everyone got turfed out for the evening/morning, and we sat on the steps in front of the door to protect us from the wind and rain (though one little spot kept dripping on to Ben’s knee from the doorway). He had taken off the wonderful Christmas tree sunglasses that he had worn through his DJ set (a gift from a friend of mine) and looked dashing as always.

Aviela Krakos: The first thing I wanted to ask you was how you, Kev and Ian actually met and set up Communion?
Ben Lovett: Well it started with hot rocket. We were looking for a bassist and we met Kevin, probably early 2006 I think. In spring 2006, Ian was at one of our gigs and said that he wanted to produce a record for us, which was very flattering. So he talked to some managers of ours and we went into his studio which used to be in Wood Lane, now moved to Finsbury Park, and we did a recording with him.”
AK: So how did Communion happened to be called Communion?
BL: We were in the Rose and Crown in Wimbledon one night, and we were all hanging out, and Marcus (Mumford) was like, “why don’t you just call it Communion?” And that sounded like a good idea, community, communion, it kinda made sense.
AV: What cities in the UK does Communion actually work from?
BL: In the UK now is London, Bristol, Oxford, Brighton, Leeds, York, Belfast, and we’ve also got Dublin in Ireland, and we are launching imminently in Manchester and Portsmouth. We get approached by lots of different cities, Edinburgh would be a good place to get it.
AK: Communion has gone from strength to strength really, it started off as a London thing didn’t it?
BL: Yep
AK: And you’ve recently announced that you are starting a New York one? What’s the deal with that?
BL: Yes, in the month of January. New York is a really hard place to do club nights because no one does it. There is no other city really like it. So it’s always been a bit of a struggle to figure out how to put things on there, but obviously there is as many bands within New York as there are in London. And I heard a statistic not that long ago that there are over 10,000 active bands in London. So there is probably that and the rest in New York.
AK: So will you be taking acts over from the UK or will you be sourcing acts local to the area?
BL: Yeah, certainly. More news on that coming.
AK: Where else is Communion based? I mean there’s Communion Australia, I’ve actually been asked to ask you what’s happening with the Australian one because they’ve not had anything for a while?
BL: We’re working on developing Communion Australia with some friends based out there. There’s currently a Communion endorsed tour on the cards but the club nights are still in their embryonic stage.
AK: How does it feel to have gone from something based in London, to becoming a national thing and branching further a field in such a short space of time?
BL: It feels good, it feels good. I’m slightly worried that the vibe will get lost, but we’ve put years and years into the vibe of the one in London, the people who turn up, the dedication to the music, not trying to make money out of it. All we started it out as was a launch bed for Hot Rocket, so we didn’t care whether we made any money out of it or not, as long as it was busy. And then once Hot Rocket closed down, we were like, it’s just a really good atmosphere for people coming and playing, and I’d much rather put a load of effort in and get people down to see bands they don’t even know.
AK: Other than the Communion Compilation Vinyl and the EP’s on the Communion website, what releases do you guys have coming up?
BL: Next year we are releasing Marcus Foster’s album, which I’m really excited about.
AK: Yeah definitely, he’s been recording that in Rockfield studio’s right?
BL: In Wales, yeah. And the Flowerpot compilation which we did this summer at the Flowerpot venue which is like 21 artists. Its going to be ridiculous for a collaboration compilation, which should bring a lot of focus to what Communion is about.
AK: And lastly, but not leastly, out of all the people you are working with, who do you see progressing the most in 2011?
BL: I would be surprised if Marcus Foster’s album doesn’t get nominated for a Mercury! I’d be really surprised, having heard the album. I’d be upset if we can’t secure a future for Rachel [Sermanni] and for [Andrew] Davie. And Matthew and the Atlas, who are obviously like a band’s band you know?
AK: Yeah, Matthew and the Atlas are incredible.
BL: I think they could be a cult classic, but I want them to be a bit more than that.

By the time we finish the interview it is bloody freezing, so we quickly hug, pose for a photo and go our separate ways.

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