Top Ten Albums of 2018

top ten albumsIt’s been a very inconsistent year when it comes to albums. There have been a lot of releases that have fallen short of expectations, or failed to make a lasting impression. Thankfully to counteract that fact we’ve also seen some of our highest scoring records to date. It’s been a year full of new discoveries and subverted expectations, and these are our picks for the best albums from the past twelve months. Continue reading

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Top Tracks: Karine Polwart – Ophelia

Many artists channel their own personal experiences and feelings into their work, and in turn we who listen use that art to frame and understand our own emotions and the situations that we find ourselves in. It’s a beautiful thing, but sometimes we can get too caught up in ourselves, spend so much time looking inwards, that we forget that there’s a whole world out there. That’s what makes this new single from award winning Scottish singer/songwriter Karine Polwart so refreshing. ‘Ophelia’, taken from her upcoming album Laws Of Motion out 19th October, reflects on the hurricane of the same name; the awe of beholding it and the thought of the scars it left behind. Thinking on the impact it caused, the lives it altered, lets you empathise with the plights of another. Thinking of its indescribable size and power helps remind you how insignificant we all are. All together, ‘Ophelia’ is a lesson in how we’re all tiny pieces in big, complex world, and the differences that divide us matter little in the larger scheme of things.

Introducing… the Temple Sessions

A top secret project has been under way, and the time has now come to reveal all! It’s been one of my major goals for this site to start featuring video content, and I’m delighted to say that it’s finally come to fruition. There are a few features that I’d love create for you all on the site’s brand new YouTube channel, but chief among them has always been live sessions. It’s one thing talking about music you love, it’s another thing entirely sharing it firsthand. For our inaugural video I got the chance to film Ophelia perform a couple of acoustic tracks (as well as take part in a little challenge). There’s plenty more great content from Ophelia, and the channel in general, on the way soon, but here’s your first ever Temple Session: ‘Fading’, from their debut album Blackbox Memories.

Interview: Ophelia

ophelia photoIt’s always a delight to see artists that you admire grow and achieve great things. Sheffield based duo Ophelia have quickly become firm Belwood favourites, and their eagerly anticipated debut has set the year off in fine form and is sure to stand as one of the most memorable releases of 2018. Heartwarming Americana, folk as delicate as some flickering candle flame, and haunting gothic rock are all to be found within Blackbox Memories. I’ve been looking forward to interviewing Ophelia for some time now, and it struck me as the perfect opportunity to delve deeper into their new record:  Continue reading

Top Ten EPs of 2017

top ten epsWe’ve had top lists of singles and albums since the site started, but we’ve neglected an increasingly important part of the music industry: EPs. They are a chance for new artists to show the world what they are all about, and hence by looking at EPs we can see where music is headed and who might just be the next big thing. They also offer an opportunity for established artists to take a chance and explore something new without dedicating all their effort to a full album. Simply put, EPs are the lifeblood of the music industry, and here are the ones that impressed most in the past year:  Continue reading

Live Review: Ophelia, The Greystones Sheffield, 7th May 2017

opheliaMighty oaks from little acorns grow, and likewise all great acts have to start somewhere. Belwood is all about supporting new music, and transatlantic duo Samuel Taylor and Rebecca Van Cleave are one of the most exciting musical projects the site has supported thus far. Blending classic Americana with modern English folk, and with plenty of addictive indie pop hooks for good measure, Ophelia’s music has something to offer everyone. Having just released their debut single, I caught them at their homecoming gig at the lovely Greystones in Sheffield for the final stop of their Vagabond Tour.  Continue reading

Spotlight!: Ophelia

ophelia photo

Photo by Ev Sekkides

All music fans love the thrill of finding something special, and watching it grow and blossom like some proud parent. Although very much still in the early stages of their career, transatlantic Americana duo Ophelia already display the kind of confidence and professionalism that most bands don’t earn until several albums down the line. Samuel Taylor and Rebecca Van Cleave bring together a wealth of different experiences and influences, and weave them into their own rich musical tapestry. On tracks like ‘A Little Too Late’ with it’s driving rhythm, and the bright folk pop of ‘Whip Of The Wheel’ with it’s strategic splashes of harmonica, Becca and Sam take turns in the spotlight and bring some big, memorable hooks with them. When they join forces however their sound takes a different, but no less captivating, turn. The dark blues, skittering percussion and bewitching harmonies of ‘I Can’t Dream About You Anymore’ sounds like some lost collaboration between Nick Cave and Feist, while the mournful, violin framed duet of ‘If You Could Read My Mind’ plays like a pleading love letter between two broken souls. Ophelia have won my heart and I’m excited to see where this road takes them, but even more so to be part of the journey.

Fans of Ryan Adams, James Bay, Feist and Alabama Shakes should catch Ophelia on their UK tour.