A couple of months ago, our CeltCast photographer André asked me: “Have you heard Am Weltenrand? The new single of
That’s how this story started! And today… is the release date of the full album! Because of that, we will play the second single So Frei on our radio station tonight.
Personally, I love the sounds of the voila, violin, hammered dulcimer, guda drum, hurdy-gurdy, uilleann pipes, cello and harp. The perfect mix for this mythic pagan folk album. Katja was inspired by Taliesin (the famous Celtic bard), Swans, Valkyren, and annual festivals. The content of the songs goes back to ancient times, where bards spoke of the beings of the trees and Hildegard von Bingen sang of the life force. Do you love
and German folk music, then you will love this one for certain!
The booklet contains all the lyrics and is decorated with stunning photos of
My favourite songs are: So Frei, Mit Dir and Hexenlied.
Every year at the end of November the young kids in Holland get all excited. Saint Nicolas, (Or Sinterklaas as we Dutch call him), comes all the way from Spain to celebrate his birthday with us here in the Netherlands. He arrives two weeks before his birthday on a steamboat, loaded with presents for the young kids. The evening before his birthday, the 5th of December, he and his helpers travel the rooftops of the Dutch houses and throw presents down the chimneys of those who have been good that year. As Sinterklaas is an old man by now, he travels the rooftops on his trusty companion, the white stallion Amerigo.
The Dutch kids, knowing that Sinterklaas may come, will put their shoe next to the stove, hoping that they will find a present in it the next morning. Some of them will put small notes in those shoes for Sinterklaas. It could be a list with presents; a nice drawing for Sinterklaas to put on the wall, or a carrot for his horse Amerigo, or a bit of hay. You just never know if this could persuade Sinterklaas to give a bigger present.
That is where
come in. They mailed us their EP Driftwood as a surprise on December the 5th, even adding some marzipan Carrots with it, just as the Dutch children would do on the nights before December the 5th. Well I can tell you, we loved this surprise and I’m very happy that I can introduce this fun trio to you all. Something tells me this won’t be the last time we hear something from this fun trio. The Carrots just ooze out talent. But for now, we will focus on their 2020 EP Driftwood. Here is
so you can read more about them.
Xuntas, introducing the music of Sangre de Muerdago
‘Comprado en uno de los conciertos más mágicos a los que he asistido.‘ (Bought at one of the most magical concerts I have ever attended.)
Those were the first words I heard about
Sangre de Muerdago.
These words came from Dani Iturriaga, singer and multi-instrumentalist of
but also the founder of
a site in Spanish informing the public about folk music, just as we do with CeltCast.
Dani is just as much a music fan as he is a musician and that becomes clear when you visit his website. It also became clear when we were talking about Sangre de Muerdago. It turned out Dani has been a fan of this Galician band for quite some time. This is what he had to say about Sangre de Muerdago:
-‘I have to admit that it makes me a bit dizzy that you mention Vael so much as a reference in the Xuntas review, because I don’t think we deserve it. For us, Sangre de Muerdago is one of our main references, and we have only just started. The truth is that if there is a group that I would like to be like, it would be them. You know, all bands start out playing covers of their favorite artists. We started by covering
and Sangre de Muerdago.’
I can’t think of a better way to introduce Sangre de Muerdago to you all. Xuntas, and all the other (split) albums Sangre made over the years can be found on Bandcamp. So I hope this
will make you discover a wonderful new band, or that it will reacquaint you with an old friend.
– Cliff-picture by Josanne van der Heijden
PS. Don’t forget, next week it is the first Friday of the month again, the day that Bandcamp waves away their share of the revenue to support the musicians in these odd Corona times.
Daily Disc Towarb – Unserland (2020)
Last month, we received a message from this band from the Alsace in France. In October, they released their first EP, Unserland, with four beautiful pieces of music. The songs are inspired by regional history and its oldest legends. As soon as you start listening you are in a distant and ancient world. Low voices, dark tones, historical instruments, and primal forces can be felt immediately. This EP is a good start. If you love
it’s a good possibility you like
too. We at CeltCast are looking forward to hearing more of this band! And, maybe on stage in the near future? and My favourite song on Unserland? That is: Sterne.
Musical greetings, Ilona CeltCast
From the first seconds of The Flood you can hear the two trump cards of
the vocals of the sisters Susanne and Hanna van Gemeren. Rarely have I heard two voices blend together so beautifully, so harmonious. They are truly breathtaking together. Combine that with Wouter Raidt’s gentle touch on the acoustic guitar and you are onto a winner. Singer-songwriter folk with a touch of Americana and a real angelic feel that you just have to buy!!!
Good! With this conclusion, this review is sorted! On to the next one! Maybe, but it would be unfair to this lovely young trio to stop here. (And to myself as well, ’cause as long as I write on I can keep listening to this delightful EP. And honestly, I will take on any excuse to do so.)
The Carrots are a trio from Zwolle, the Netherlands. The three of them already earned their stripes in the Dutch scene with the band
Half a Mile,
a band that was together for almost 10 years and had their farewell performance on April the 25th, 2019. Susanne, Hanna and Wouter decided to carry on making music together as a trio and Driftwood is their first official sign of life. What a sign of life it is. I will be highly surprised if this EP won’t open doors for them as soon as the festival season will start again.
As I said in the intro, the opening song The Flood starts really strong. It is a bitter chocolate, singer-songwriter treat wrapped in a delicious pop sound, with a tasty coating of salty Americana caramel to finish it all off. This is candy to the ears of those who share my love for
The Civil Wars,
The two sisters draw you into the Carrot’s music from the very first note they sing. It is a ‘simple’ hum they sing, but the two ladies are able to put so much power and energy in that humble ‘hmmmmm’ sound, I find it astonishing. It is strong, feminine and slightly melancholic but most of all really powerful. Still, within that feminine strength, their voices also have a fragile touch which makes me think of the Dutch dream folk band
Rosemary & Garlic.
But there is more to this ballad than a single hum. A melancholic acoustic guitar riff leads you in heartbroken but beautifully poetic lyrics. When (a minute into the song) Susanne and Hanna’s voices start weaving and circling around each other, the colour of it all reminds me of another strong feminine but emotive vocalist,
Amy Lee. Mind you I’m just comparing the colour of the voices with each other. In no way am I implying that The Carrots make gothic folk-rock!
Having said that…, they do know how to rock though! Listen to Everything Flows, the second track on Driftwood, and the three of them will prove it straight away. Especially the middle part truly kicks ass! The bouzouki ‘riffs’ after the harmonies at 2:40 will get everybody onto their feet. Especially, when played live. And then I’m almost forgetting the whole build-up to that point. It starts from the second verse. The music breaks down into a single bouzouki chord, with some percussion accents, highlighting those beautiful harmonies of the van Gemeren sisters. It all gets stronger and stronger until the whole song erupts in an acoustic, western folk-rock extravaganza. The Carrots surely have a potential hit on their hands with this song.
It is not the only hit on Driftwood though. The power ballad Train Of Thoughts also has hit potential written all over it. Not that it is a commercial song, no, it is just ear-catching beautiful. Again a melody that instantly digs itself into your brain. The guitar chords, the bass line, those voices, they all blend so perfectly well together. Train of Thoughts clearly shows the difference between a designed hit and one that came naturally. This one keeps getting better every time I hear it. And we are not done yet. Hit number three comes straight after Train of Thoughts.
It is called Note To Little Me and it is a true ballad. I love the lyrics of this song. Pure singer-songwriter poetry. I also love the voice of Susanne, she genuinely sounds like Rachel Croft’s sister in this song, instantly making her one of my favourite female vocalists in the folk world.
I find every single bit of this song amazing, but mostly the simplicity of it. 80% of it is just a voice and a guitar. And trust me, it needs nothing more. The result is…, GOOSEBUMPS! Note to Little Me is easily my personal favourite on an album that has the bar raised terribly high.
Closing song Clockwork comes closest to pure old school European folk as we know it. It has that almost medieval storytelling quality that makes me immediately think of classics like
version of Little Duke Arthur’s Nurse,
Meidi Goh’sFoxskin, or
AmmA’sMatty Groves. With Susanne and Hanna on vocals I am mostly drawn to Amma as a comparison actually, and that ain’t a bad thing. But enough about the vocal awesomeness that is displayed all over this EP. At this point, I want to put the spotlight on Wouter Raidt’s guitar playing. He silently shines throughout the whole EP with his warm, thoughtful style of playing. He is the perfect accompanist for the ladies, taking his place in the background, making them sound awesome, as a true musical gentleman would. But he is well capable to spice up the music when needed. That frisky guitar riff under the verse in this song for instance. I just love hearing him walk all over his frets, giving the song an unexpected cheerfulness. When the moment is right, he has the technique to throw down a lovely guitar solo as well. In this case, the guitarsolo has a distinctive Spanish feel to it. Giving Clockwork (and the whole EP) another interesting musical twist.
I started this review by saying the Carrots have two trump cards. That is actually not true. They have three. Wouter is just as important to their sound as the ladies are. They all blend beautifully together, enhancing each other’s talents, which makes them the perfect trio. Can’t wait to see them perform live! I just know we will be in for a treat. Until that moment, we just have to make do with Driftwood. Not a bad replacement though. Not at all!!!
ps. The Carrots recorded a quarantine video, a cover of the song Kingdom Come, originally recorded by the Civil Wars. A lovely version paying true homage to the equally beautiful original. It is way too good not to post here, although it isn’t featured on the EP. Maybe on a future one?? editor: Anna
CD Artwork: Susanne van Gemeren
Picture: Tanja van Dijk