When Blanche first emerged in 2004, their mystique was part-rooted in how leader Dan Miller had previously spent time in a couple of late-’90s garage bands that included Jack White. For a while, they seemed happy to ride on the back of that connection. White strummed guitar on first single “Who’s To Say”, while Dan Miller’s creepy, often funny, countryphiles supported the Stripes on a major British tour.

The three-year interim has found Blanche in various states of health: backing Loretta Lynn on Van Lear Rose, sidelined by Miller’s new film career (he was in Johnny Cash biopic Walk The Line) and fielding rumours of a serious split. Thankfully, Little Amber Bottles is the work of a band recharged. Feeding off country’s primal impulse, they’re still the embodiment of Old Weird America. Visually, too, they’re spot on. The sort of shock-haired oddballs you’d expect to find stalking the back of the revival tent in O Brother, Where Art Thou?.

“What This Town Needs” finds both Dan and wife Tracee Mae in killer form – like Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazlewood cavorting with The Gun Club. His voice is hard, hers oozes an odd warmth. Mrs Miller is best heard on “A Year From Now”, a gorgeous, loping ballad in which banjo and strings are eventually smacked aside by fat guitars. Her own “No Matter Where You Go” is eloquently plucked, aided by guest Isobel Campbell’s serene cello. Resident Blanche banjoist (and Raconteur) Jack Lawrence also offers his own fare, the heavily Gram Parsons-influenced “Death, Where Is Thy Sting?”

For the most part though, these are Dan Miller’s musings. The songs allude to hurdles overcome and demons placated, if hardly cast out. “We Didn’t Quit” is a dark relationship tale, while the initial calm of “The World I Used To Be Afraid Of” suddenly heads into murder ballad territory: “To let you turn your back on true love would have been a mortal sin/So I held you underwater until you finally gave in”. Unsettling to the last, it’s Blanche all over.

Rob Hughes

01. I'm Sure Of It
02. Last Year's Leaves
03. A Year From Now
04. No Matter Where You Go...
05. What This Town Needs
06. Child Of The Moon - Blanche, Jagger, Mick
07. Little Amber Bottles
08. The World I Used To Be Afraid Of
09. O Death, Where Is Thy Sting
10. I Can't Sit Down - Blanche, Traditional
11. (Exordium)
12. The World's Largest Crucifix
13. Scar Beneath The Skin


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The Band says:
"The Söndörgő Ensemble was established in Szentendre, Hungary, in 1995. It was on the basis of our family tradition and due to our attraction to Southern Slav folk music that we set the objective of cultivating this particularly rich and valuable tradition. It was during our secondary education years that we got to know each other and began playing music together. We strive to perform archaic folk music in a concert setup and to instrumentalise it in a way that is true to both reality and tradition. We are currently studying the folk music collected by great Hungarian researchers of music such as Béla Bartók and Tihamér Vujicsics, as well as the extant Southern Slav folk music tradition.
Our ensemble is classified as a tambur band occasionally complemented with accordeon and flute.
To perform melodies from the Balkans, we sound various wind instruments such as clarinet, kaval and saxophone, a variety of drums like tarabuka and tapan, as well as a wealth of string instruments, e.g. litarka.

Southern Slav folk music has developed an extraordinary treasure of melodies as a result of an interaction with various music traditions.

This applies to Serbian and Croatian folk music in Hungary more than it does to folk music in the Balkans.

All along, the Southern Slav ethnicities living in Hungary have been particularly isolated from each other. Consequently, the traditions that they treasure and maintain display a wide variety of differences, which is demonstrated by the use of a wealth of musical instrument types and forms.

The first written record of the Southern Slav tambur dates from 1551, this instrument being of Iranian and Turkish origin, used in a variety of forms in the Balkan peninsula. Originally, the tambur was a solo instrument with a small resonance volume and a long neck.

It began to be updated in the 1800s with a long neck and a diatonic succession of sounds.

It was by the middle of the 1800s that the tambur family used today had evolved. They have four strings, a shorter neck and represent the so-called cromatic succession of sounds, classified as the Szerémség type of instruments.
The first tambur band of amateur artists was set up by Pajo Kolaric, in Eszék, in 1847."

01. Kisacko kolo
02. Tikino
03. Meten
04. Makedonska Gajda
05. Dada Sali
07. Arabis
08. Staro Cunovo oro
09. K4
10. Lilino oro
11. Ferus Solo

Buzás Attila - bass tambura
Eredics Áron - tarabuka, alt tambura
Eredics Benjamin - tambura
Eredics Dávid - clarinet, sax, alt tambura
Eredics Salamon - accordion, alt tambura

Ferus Mustafov - clarinet, sax, bagpipe
Herczku Ágnes - voice


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Big thanks Frankie for the CD!

Composed of four female singers and a percussionist, the group interprets traditional songs from many countries. Chet Nuneta picks up songs thanks to people they meet, or journeys they make.

The musical research is based on vocal techniques from various people of the world.

The arrangements are inspired by the original versions while developing their singular universe. By composing harmonies and rhythms, by knitting " sound dressings ", the group takes the songs towards one somewhere else.

It is not only a matter of restoring traditional songs but also to play with sounds and imagination, to express musically and on stage what every song evokes. Of this " burst of sounds " will appear in 2008 the album "Ailleurs" produced by the Mon Slip label.

Repertoire: songs of Madagascar, Finland, Mongolia, Bulgaria, Russia, Mexico, Macedonia, Cape Verde, Hebrew, Arabic, Gypsy.

01.A Vus Basin
03.More Sokol Pie
05.Erev Shel Shoshanim
06.Khot Ti Shla
07.Malka Moma Dvori Mete
08.Ya Man Laebat
09.Kharmayn Khagd
11.Miinan Laulu

Daphné Clouzeau: voix, arc, tammora, bodhran, petites percussions
Valérie Gardou: voix, arc
Juliette Roussille: voix, guitare, accordéon, tammora, bodhran, petites percussions
Lilia Ruocco: voix, tammora, petites percussions
Beatriz Salmeron-Martin(en alternance avec Daphné Clouzeau): voix, arc, tammora, bodhran, petites percussions
Michaël Fernandez: percussions


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"Each time Marianne Faithfull issues a recording, fans and pundits hold their breaths waiting for another outing as iconoclastic as Broken English. Before the Poison isn't it for a number of reasons, quality not being one of them. Simply put, Before the Poison is an album that concerns itself with both sides of love, friendship, and redemption, not desolation or desperation. That said, there is plenty of human shadow in these ten songs. Polly Harvey wrote three songs here, co-wrote a pair with Faithfull, and is present on all of them. Nick Cave co-wrote three with the singer and his Bad Seeds back her on these tracks. She also co-wrote one apiece with Blur's Damon Albarn and composer Jon Brion. Along with Harvey and Cave, Rob Ellis and Hal Willner aided in production. Therefore, Before the Poison, like its predecessor, Kissin' Time, is an album of collaborations. But unlike that offering, this one is seamless; its songs are sequenced impeccably and all feel of a piece linked by emotional thematics. Harvey's songs are all moving and beautiful. Faithfull's reading of "No Child of Mine," a track that appeared on PJ's own last album, Uh Huh Her, has more depth and texture than the original. Harvey is pushing it on, underneath, her signature guitar sound ushering in each line as Faithfull -- in fantastic voice throughout -- does a call and response with herself until the refrain, when Harvey harmonizes and adds dimension to the stark loss and resignation uttered with great empathy and even tenderness. On "The Mystery of Love," which opens the set, Faithfull brings the weight of her life experience to Harvey's poetic lyric and opens its fathomless heart. On Cave's "Crazy Love," the lyric could have accompanied the footage in Wim Wenders' Wings of Desire. As Faithfull paints the skeletal portraits of the song's protagonists who move around the chessboard of life, she gets to the refrain where the tune splits wide and, as Warren Ellis' raggedly elegant violin sweeps above the rest, the singers offers a poetic truth from her own life: "Crazy love is all around me/Love is crazy, love is kind/But I know somehow you'll find me/Love is crazy, love is blind." On Albarn's "Last Song," possibility has passed into memory amid the swell of strings, tambourines, and acoustic pianos. It's a devastating track, and Faithfull sings with an authority that can only be borne by a witness. The disc closes with "City of Quartz," written with Brion. It's a fractured, slightly off-kilter waltz that could have easily appeared on Blazing Away or even as an outtake from 20th Century Blues. The notion of time's passage is in the present tense here, as strings enter amid the chimes underscoring longing, and the acceptance of human need. Before the Poison is poetic and unnerving; it stands alone in her catalog in the same way that Broken English did -- but this time, on the other side of the mirror."

by Thom Jurek

01. "The Mystery of Love" (PJ Harvey)
02. "My Friends Have" (PJ Harvey)
03. "Crazy Love" (Marianne Faithfull/Nick Cave)
04. "Last Song" (Marianne Faithfull/Damon Albarn)
05. "No Child of Mine" (PJ Harvey)
06. "Before the Poison" (Marianne Faithfull/PJ Harvey)
07. "There Is a Ghost" (Marianne Faithfull/Nick Cave)
08. "In the Factory" (Marianne Faithfull/PJ Harvey)
09. "Desperanto" (Marianne Faithfull/Nick Cave)
10. "City of Quartz" (Marianne Faithfull/Jon Brion)

Tracks 1, 2, 5, 6 & 8:
Vocals and handclapping: Marianne Faithfull
Electric and acoustic guitars, bass, synth, backing vocals, piano, slide bass: PJ Harvey
Drums, piano, percussion, glockenspiel, handclapping: Rob Ellis
Synth bass, electric guitar, bass: Adrian Utley

Tracks 3, 7 & 9:
Vocals: Marianne Faithfull
Musicians: Nick Cave, Warren Ellis, Martyn P. Casey and Jim Sclavunos

tracks 4 & 10:
Vocals: Marianne Faithfull
Drums, piano, percussion, vibraphone, sound effects, string arrangements: Rob Ellis
Acoustic guitar, bass, toy piano, sampling: Adrian Utley
Violin: Catherine Browning
Cello: Andy Nice
Piano: Diana Gutkind


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Hungarian folk songs and traditional dance music from Moldva.
Kalagor is a Transylvanian archaic folk music band. They play Moldavian and Gyimes folk music. The band shaped up in 2005 and their first album apeared in 2007: Hová mensz ? (Where do you go?), the substance implies traditional Moldavian music with a violin, with lute, with song and with flute (without drum), in that manner it was learned from their masters.

01. Öreges, kezes; Kezes; Vert kezes
02. Ilonám, Ilonám
03. Házasodtam te Miska
04. Festeres
05. Elmenék én a városba
06. Bánat, bánat
07. Stica
08. Bürlödeánka
09. Szép fehér pekulár
10. Hová mensz...
11. Pusztinai ráca
12. Este van, este van; Kavalos hóra
13. Sárig virág
14. Zöld erdőben; Párávai hóra
15. Mért sírc
16. Hidegségen zöld erdőbe
17. Mikor kísérik e nyirjászát
18. Túl e vízen, Tótországon
19. Öreges öves megkettőzött húrral
20. De doi
21. Szegény legény vótam

ÉRSEK Csaba "Bengő" (vocal)
CSIBI Szabolcs "Szabi" (lute, shepherd flute)
KELEMEN István "Pityu" (violin,


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The music of Habrera Hativeet has evolved from authentic Sepharadic African and Middle Eastern roots. The combination of Eastern and Western instruments produces a unique form of Israeli music. Shlomo Bar, the moving spirit of Habrera Hativeet draws much of his musical inspiration from Biblical as well as modern Israeli themes.

"For me," says Shlomo Bar, "music is something eternal without beginning or end. In my music there are elements of wonder, yearning and prayers."

01. Haleluya
02. Kol Mehashamayim
03. Etzlenu Bikfar Todra
04. Belibech
05. Shdemati
06. Al Tashlicheni
07. Shmor Al Haolam
08. Shaar Harahamim
09. Shir Lashalom
10. Ahuvat Hasapan
11. Instrumental
12. Tfila
13. Baa Meahava
14. Tfila
15. Hu Yavo

Shlomo Bar (drums, vocals),
Menashe Sasson (santur),
Nir Sarussi, Ilan Ben-Ami (guitar),
Yael Offenbach (tabla),
Ilan Aviv (bass, drums, keyboard, guitar, Persian santur)


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"There's a wonderful light and shade to Misia's music, which truly comes of age on this album. Like all fado, the themes of the songs are lost love, death, betrayal, and loneliness, but she updates the great Portuguese tradition by bringing in more of a jazz feel to some of the material, while using modern writers, especially lyricists like Nobel Prize-winning poet José Saramago, who penned the words to "Dança de Mágoas," to add more modern -- but equally wistful -- sentiments. Portuguese guitar is the heart of the instrumental sound, mournful and gorgeously played, a counterpoint to Misia's soaring, aching voice on the gorgeous title cut, where accordion confirms the melancholy. While she can generate a tumble of emotions with her singing, Misia never goes over the top; everything here - from the vocals to the arrangements and the production - is understated, with a beautiful clarity that makes it all the more intimate, a gorgeous record by one of the emerging new fadistas."

01. Garras Dos Sentidos
02. Danca De Magoas
03. Estatua Falsa
04. Fado De Retorno I
05. Nenhuma Estrela Caiu
06. Litania
07. Nao Me Chamen Pelo Nome
08. Sete Luas
09. Sou De Vidro
10. Fado De Retorno II
11. Da vida Quero Os Sinais


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Country music is supposed to tell stories, and nobody tells better, creepier stories than The Handsome Family. These people are downright disturbing -- and disturbed -- which makes it more of a pleasure to hear what they have to say.

Brett Sparks writes the music, and his wife Rennie writes the lyrics. Together, they create dystopian portraits of murderous families, failed (and murderous) love affairs, despondent and hopeless humanity, and restless spirits. But these dark and dreary tales are usually packaged in a wash of purdy banjo plucks and guitar trills. Some songs are more somber, but most sound like cheerful jaunts in the park, until you listen more closely to the sinister and snickering lyrics.

Several years ago, when it seemed that music writers were coining a new term for "alternative" country every ten seconds (remember "y'allternative"?), The Handsome Family were turning out album after album of wry, intelligent, beautiful music that defied cutesy labels. They're still at it, mixing earnest country and roiling punk rock in ways that elicit both grins and grimaces.

In 2001, the duo left Chicago for the sunnier climes of Albuquerque, New Mexico, where they've continued to perfect their lyrical brand of classic-meets-avant country. Their new location hasn't changed their dark worldview much, though they have incorporated a bit of the desert twang and "Americachi" influences one associates with the Southwest into their already rich sonic palette.

"Set in a shadowy netherworld, Twilight reasserts the Handsome Family's position as modern-day descendants of the ancient country-folk surrealists gathered on Harry Smith's celebrated Anthology of American Folk Music. Rennie Sparks's songs are filled with animals ("Birds You Cannot See" and "White Dog") and natural images that are both carefree ("Peace in the Valley Once Again") and unnerving ("Snow White Diner"). The lyrics masterfully blend compassionate insight and a real sense of drama and tragedy with an eye for detail and humorous asides. Brett's vocal croon and his background in both experimental avant-garde and Texas rockabilly insures that the duo's music continues to grow far beyond its country roots. The Handsome Family happily flout convention but their stark beauty still shines through--these are some of the strangest and most compelling songs in the warped but wonderful world of alternative country."

Gavin Martin

01. The Snow White Diner
02. Passenger Pigeons
03. A Dark Eye
04. There Is A Sound
05. All The Tvs In Town
06. Gravity
07. Cold, Cold, Cold
08. No One Fell Asleep Alone
09. I Know You Are There
10. Birds You Cannot See
11. The White Dog
12. So Long
13. Peace In The Valley Once Again


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Traditional folk ballads are one of the highest points of the folk genres – 150 years of Hungarian folklore collection and its scientific analysis attest to this. We are all touched by the compactness, drama, poetic quality and the depth of human life expressed. Ballads have become integrated into our everyday culture. But do we really know them? Do we really live together with them? Recordings of ballads are still rare despite the impressive number of folk music records released over the last decade. Even the most professional performers seem to be deterred by this sophisticated genre and the difficulties of its performance.
This silence has been broken by Gergely Agócs, one of the most significant representatives of the young generation of musicians who has grown up in the dance house movement. He shows us the unique musical culture and diverse song styles preserved in ballads. Nine different ballads are presented; nine stories about the tragedy of ancient people, the loneliness of being an orphan, unfulfilled love, treachery, death, pride, banishment, false friendship and self-sacrifice.

1. Három árva / The Three Orphans
2. Betyárgyerek az erdőbe' / A Young Outlaw in the Forest
3. Hunyadi bojtárja / Hunyadi’s Shepherd
4. Bíboros Péterné / Wife of Péter Bíboros
5. Megöltek egy legényt / They Killed a Lad
6. Szendre báró leánya / The Daughter of Baron Szendre
7. Bálint Vitéz / Warrior Bálint
8. Fehér Anna / Anna Fehér
9. Barna Pesta / Pesta Barna

Gergely Agócs – voice

Tamás Gombai – violin
Gábor Szabó – violin
Sándor D. Tóth – three stringed viola
Kálmán Balogh – cimbalom
Zsolt Kürtösi – cello, double bass
Zoltán Juhász – flute, bagpipe
Pál Dzsupin – long flute, flóta


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