Updated every Monday, The Weekly Spin is here to introduce you to five musicians and bands that might not be on your radar. Settle in, hit play, and enjoy tunes from this week’s top picks as chosen by Barbara Chaplin: Anais Mitchell, Nick Mulvey, Lucy Rose, Roo Panes, and Villagers.
1) Anais Mitchell
Vermont-born Anais Mitchell’s music is heavily influenced by the confessional, alternative folk style of Ani DiFranco. Mitchell began writing songs when she was 17 and released her first album The Song They Sang When Rome Fell in 2002. Her second album, Hymns for the Exiled was released in 2004 and a copy made its way to DiFranco herself. In 2006 Mitchell, in collaboration with arranger Michael Chorney and Director Ben T. Matchstick, debuted her “folk opera” Hadestown based on the Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice and set in a futuristic, poverty-stricken America. This was released as an album, with appearances from DiFranco and Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon, in 2010. Mitchell’s lyrical style has been compared to Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen and Gillian Welch, among others, and her music has been called “fearlessly emotive” by Acoustic Guitar magazine. Her latest album, xoa, was released in 2014.
2) Nick Mulvey
Nick Mulvey’s musical career began with years of formal education in Havana, Cuba studying music and art, in addition to being an active member of Mercury Award nominees Portico Quartet. Mulvey’s music draws inspiration from musical greats such as Nick Drake, Joni Mitchell, and Tom Waits as well a variety of African music styles, particularly West and Central. The end result is a sound that is both striking and individual, with sweet melodies and rhythmic beats. Now based in London, Mulvey released his debut full-length album First Mind in 2014. He has supported artists such as Lianne La Havas and Laura Marling on tour and featured on the BBC’s Sound of 2014 long list.
3) Lucy Rose
Hailing from Warwickshire in England, Rose’s first foray into music was playing the drums in her school’s orchestra. When that failed to satisfy her creativity, she moved onto playing and writing songs on her parents’ piano. Rose did not share her work, which had progressed to guitar-based, pastoral folk music, with anyone until after she had moved out of her parents’ house aged 18. She eventually began playing her own shows and gradually assembled a band for live performances. With only a small budget to work with, she shunned traditional recording studios and instead opted for live videos, shot by a friend, which she posted online. In 2011 Rose had the opportunity to tour with contemporaries Ben Howard, Daughter, and Pete Roe. Her debut album Like I used To was released in 2012 and Rose’s fragile, emotive, songs earned her comparisons to Laura Marling, Joni Mitchell, and Neil Young. She has released 4 more albums since then, with 2017’s Something’s Changing being the latest.
4) Roo Panes
Andrew “Roo” Panes first captured the public’s attention when both he and his music were featured in a Burberry ad campaign. He then went on to release three EPs – Once (2012), Weight of Your World (2012), and Land of the Living (2013) and one full-length album, Little Giant (2014). Panes’ music is reminiscent of classical folk, courtesy of his introspective lyrics and use of a 12-string guitar. Many of his songs reflect his rural upbringing in Dorset, UK, with references to natural beauty and the Lake District countryside in particular.
Villagers is the solo project of Irish singer/songwriter Conor J. O’Brien. Formed in the late 2000s following the breakup of his band, O’Brien began writing his own material. His debut EP was released in 2009, performed entirely by O’Brien alone. Villagers is now well-known for its unique sound which sets it apart from similar acts. O’Brien and his touring band have created an atmospheric, indie-pop/folk sound which balances youthful exuberance with some flavours of classic rock, intertwined with introspective, earnest lyrics. Villagers debut album Becoming a Jackal was released in 2010 and has been followed by three more since. O’Brien has also had the opportunity of supporting both Neil Young and Tracy Chapman on European tours.