Alexander Wolfe
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Alexander Wolfe

London, England, United Kingdom | INDIE

London, England, United Kingdom | INDIE
Band Folk Acoustic

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"10 Artist to know in 2011"

Alexander’s debut album “Morning Brings the Daylight” is the most beautiful album I have heard in years. Period.

His music acts like a foster home for emotions, each track is a unique and different child riddled with brilliant gifts just waiting to be embraced. His latest single “Stuck Under September” is as pure as the air that surrounds each note Alexander sings.

Other gorgeous songs like “Teabags in Ashtrays” and “’Til Your Ship Comes In” will impact into your heart like seeing a lost love across a crowded supermarket, after years apart.

He is that good people.

LISTEN: Alexander Wolfe - "Stuck Under September" - New York Post


"Q 50 Essential tracks to download this month (Dec/Jan 2010/2011) No. 6"

A haunting, John Grant-like ballad of lost hope and broken love tucked away at the end of the UK singer-songwriters compelling debut record. - Q Magazine


"Album review ***"

Wolfe's musical career began in Taxi, with Jamie Cullum, and "Song For The Dead" has been used as the theme for Alan Davies' forlorn sitcom Whites, but let none of this detract from the splendid sense of melancholy he displays here. At times his influences are a little too transparent - "Lazybones" is effectively a cross between Neil Young and Nick Drake - but if Coldplay fans need a new fix, this won't disappoint. The epic "Stuck Under September" is an object lesson in how to wring out every drop of emotion. - Uncut Magazine


"Album review ****"

Once known as Alexander De Menthon, Wolfe was bequeathed an original Rembrandt lithograph by his French aristo grandfather, which he sold to record his debut. He was also in a band with a pre-stardom Jamie Cullum, which makes Wolfe's Chris Martin-fronting-Pink-Floyd songs all the more surprising. Wolfe's music has poetic depth, exemplified by Stuck Under September's woman carrying, "An old sack of coal just hoping one day it will turn into gold" Although Song For The Dead's use as the theme for BBC comedy Whites may not allow him to buy the Rembrandt back, that day could come sooner rather than later. - Q Magazine (4/5 Stars)


"Single Of The Week"

Rather beau strummy sad pop what pongs of Nick Drake, ‘Till Your Ship Comes In’ in particular is marked out by some accomplished, sweeping orchestrational prettiness. And though young Alexander could never be accused of taking a neon chainsaw to those pesky genre barricades, it is worth remembering that not everything in music has to. Keep going readers, the bit about spanking is not far off, now. - Drowned In Sound


"Album Of The Week"

Album of the Week : Alexander Wolfe : Morning Brings A Flood (Dharma)
It’s a very rare thing indeed that a straight up singer songwriter catches our attention. It’s also a rare thing that we don’t tire of an album of this ilk. So, you need to pay attention when we tell you the longtime-coming debut album from this amazing singer/songwriter is truly, one of the most beautiful, captivating & special records you will hear in a long time. his musical arrangements range from gentle folky strummings to orchestrated arrangements to full on band explosions but whichever way, they are incredibly powerful. Ultimately though, it’s all about the voice. Alex has a voice that will reduce you to tears – the vocal range & depth of Guy Garvey, the folky stylings of Nick Drake & the poppier edge of Scott Matthews – meltingly irresistible! - Resident Records


"Album review"

Multi-instrumentalist Alexander Wolfe sounds a sombre chap on this debut album: his racket is downbeat, brooding pop and the tracks here suggest songwriting informed by a past heartbreak or two. ‘Prague song’, which kicks things off, is a good indication of the singer-songwriter’s style: it’s a slow-burning number that builds and couples Wolfe’s acoustic-and-voice approach with a richly orchestrated soundscape, including foreboding snare drums and strings. Vocally, Wolfe is decent enough to articulate his anguish, alternating between tuneful mumbling and injured wailing. More of the same follows, though there is enough variety to keep things interesting.

‘Song for the dead’ is a peach of a track, swapping angst for anger and going for a more immediate, rock-based sound with a killer chorus. It’s at moments like these, when Wolfe chins up and goes for pop sensibility over moody atmosphere, though he’s sufficiently good at both, that this album is at its most enjoyable. Nonetheless, the songwriting and performance on display throughout here are of a rare quality, making for a strong debut from the London-based songsmith. - Glasswerk


"Album review"

Born as Alexander Gordon de Menthon on Christmas Eve ’81, Alexander was fortunate enough to be left a Rembrandt lithograph by his French grandfather, the Count de Menthon. When the time came he sold his lithograph and used the proceeds to fund this, his debut album, Morning Brings a Flood, and it sounds like money well spent.

Opening with a harmonium and string drone that any of the Constellation Records stable would be proud of, “Prague Song” kicks things off with an elglaic eulogy to the need to get lost and, as the track progresses, it moves from haunting chimes to intense string drones and a pentatonic blues freak out. Wolfe’s morning after vocal recalls, in equal measure, Guy Garvey, Nick Drake and Mr Pearce, moving effortlessly between breathy whisper, soaring call and fractured falsetto. “Lazy Bones” picks up the pace with a mouth organ line and country twang that calls to mind Neil Young, Harvest period. “Till Your Ship Comes” In carries on the Nick Drake/Guy Garvey vibe, with a classic Brit folk finger picking guitar part and sweeping string backing.

New single is “Song For The Dead”, which starts off with some really odd sounding electronic textures and studio ambience, before kicking into a rocking swing beat groove. My only criticism would be that I’d like it if there was more time given to the ambient interludes and atmospherics, just a bit more space to breath between the songs proper would be have been great. However the song writing and melodies are so strong it’s still a perfectly engaging work.

“Teabags In Ashtrays” is a waltzing carousel of a tune and recalls “Firebird” from Guillemots’ Fyfe Dangerfield’s recent solo offering Fly Yellow Moon. Swaying brass, descending chromatic piano runs and Wolfe’s Garvey-esque sigh make for an album highlight. A lot of the lyrical subject matter seems to be based on observations of beans on toast British mediocrity that at the same time celebrates the magic and mystery in the seemingly mundane. Some of Wolfe’s couplets are worthy of comparison to vintage Cocker-isms. “An uncomfortable sun tan is all you deserve, all you get are straight edges when all you need is a curve” is a choice line from “Teabags In Ashtrays”.

There’s great light and shade to the record. “Empty Morning”, a gorgeous, lilting piano ballad with top notch brass band accompaniment moves seamlessly into the post-‘Ladies and Gentleman, We Are Floating In Space’ snarling blues freak out of “Movement”. “True Love Lies” is a Radiohead-esque ballad, “true love lies, behind angel eyes”, a tender little tune that is a necessary calm after the storm of “Movement”.

“This Submarine”, with its creepy tape effects and atmospherics, brings the listener to Bright Eyes territory. Certainly it evokes a similar atmosphere to Oberst’s finer moments from the Fevers and Mirrors and Lifted records. “Cos something’s moving, can’t see the surface anymore” is a line that sets the claustrophobic sentiment of the song and the melodic interplay again references Bends era Radiohead. Pretty heavy weight comparisons but, to be fair, the exemplary musicianship and high quality yet not overly polished production marks this album out as a cut above many of the mediocre folk rock records being churned out right now.

The album closes with a 7 minute beauty of a track. “Stuck Under September”, a piece dedicated to a broken love affair between the sun and the moon, is so close to schmaltz that it’s a minor miracle that it somehow manages to side step naff gift card poeticism and be a truly heart touching finale… “She’s cast back into shadow, she’s an old crescent moon and she’s bitten by everything, taken too soon.”

Plaintive piano chords are shrouded in mournful strings and the simple picked guitar chords bring the album to its’ sweet, sad conclusion.

Overall a quiet victory of a record, hardly reinventing the wheel, but there’s more than enough atmosphere, humour and hang dog charm to make this an album well worth investigating. - The Line Of Best Fit


"Album review"

"Morning Brings A Flood is frankly, superb - the audio equivalent of a one-fingered salute to the generic indie music that’s currently insulting the airwaves."
*****ThePlayground.co.uk
- ThePlayground.co.uk


"Art for Art Sake"

Two musicians who used valuable artwork heirlooms to pursue their musical dreams - one kind of art financing another
Tim Cooper

When the singer-songwriter Nell Bryden went home to spend Christmas with her family, her music career was hanging by a thread. She had lost the latest of a series of waitressing jobs and, after years of constant gigging, barely covered the cost by selling her own CDs.

Then, while rifling through boxes of paintings in her artist father’s New York studio, she chanced upon a striking but unfamiliar canvas depicting three blue birds. “Even before I saw the signature I knew it wasn’t one of my dad’s,” she recalls. “So I took it out and showed it to him.” It turned out to have been a gift that her father had bought years earlier and intended to give to her, but had forgotten about. And in the years since its painting in 1952, the artist, Milton Avery, had died (in 1965) and become an important figure on the American art scene. Two months later, Bryden was sitting nervously with her father in the second-floor saleroom of Sotheby’s, on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, when the hammer came down for $270,000.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the Atlantic, another aspiring singer-songwriter was facing a similar dilemma. Alexander Wolfe was a lead singer without a band after their keyboard player left to sign a multi-million-pound solo deal. What was to be spectacularly good news for Jamie Cullum left Wolfe wondering where next to turn. Then he remembered the artwork he had inherited from his French grandfather.

The small lithograph of an elderly beggar seeking alms, produced in 1630, had been hanging on the wall in his bedsit in south London for more than a decade. It was a precious treasure: the only link to a family he never knew and, by his own admission, “the only thing of value that I owned”. However, it was also the passport to his dreams.

Wolfe took it down, wondering what it might be worth. “And on the back there was a letter to an ancestor of mine from the painter, who gave it to him as a gift. And it was signed ‘Rembrandt’.” At auction, the print fetched £9,000. Within days, Wolfe had gone out and bought everything he needed to bring his music dreams to life.

For both musicians, the irony of their good fortune is not lost on them. The work of one dead artist has gone on to underwrite the career of a living one. Says Wolfe: “It was hard to let the painting go, because it was my only connection with my French family, but there was no real point in hanging a Rembrandt in a bedsit in New Cross. I justified it as selling art to make art.” He adds: “I never knew my French grandfather. We only met once and he died when I was 14, but I owe my career to him.”

With his new equipment, Wolfe set to work to make Morning Brings a Flood, a beautiful album with echoes of Nick Drake, inspired by an artistic vision. “The idea was to make a record about darkness and light,” he says. Recorded over the course of a year, much of it in his own home, Wolfe played almost all the instruments — guitar, bass, piano, drums, sitar, organ, harmonium and glockenspiel — and produced it himself.

For her part, Bryden, whose songs of love and loss tap into old-time country, soul and jazz, says she was on the verge of quitting her music career when she found the painting. “I was working in jobs I hated — nanny, waitress and bartender — and spending weekends playing gigs,” she says. “I was thinking of quitting. I wasn’t really getting anywhere. When I found it, I thought it might be worth a few thousand dollars. And that would have been fantastic for me.”

With the much larger windfall, she hired a band that backed her on several tours of Ireland, where she has built up a loyal following, and a Grammy-winning producer in David Kershenbaum to rerecord her debut album, What Does It Take, at her own expense. “The money from that painting has given me a self-sustaining career,” says Bryden, whose music is much admired by Radio 2. “Most artists struggle during their lifetimes. I would much prefer to have my art sold to create new art.”

With the music industry more reluctant than ever to invest in new talent, more and more musicians are seeking an alternative way to fund their careers. Not all can depend on the chance discovery of a valuable painting in the attic, but art can support music in other ways. Tom Baxter, a London-based singer-songwriter, has also used visual art to fund his career — in his case, his own paintings. Baxter painted visual representations of every song on his last album, Skybound, and then sold them to pay off the costs of recording it.

“I don’t really think of myself as a musician,” says Baxter, who studied fine art before turning to music. “I consider myself an artist. The whole reason I do this is because it is using art to finance art.” Now, following several months travelling in India, he is beginning work on a series of 10 bronze sculptures to accompany new songs he wrote on his travels — and to finance their future recording.

Of course, art has always had a close relationship with music: Bob Dylan, David Bowie, Tony Bennett, Ronnie Wood and Tico Torres, the Bon Jovi drummer, are among the musicians who have parallel careers as visual artists. Recently, the band Green Day commissioned artists to make visual representations of songs on their latest album, which were exhibited in east London. But none of these is dependent on sales to finance their music careers. And none has become an unwitting patron to new artists, like Rembrandt and Avery. There is something satisfyingly symbiotic about one artist funding another’s dreams in music. As Wolfe says of his decision to sell off his last remaining ­family heirloom: “I think Rembrandt would have approved.” - The Sunday Times


"Album review"

Although this album has been kicking around since last year it’s getting a push as one of the tracks, Song For The Dead has bagged a place as the theme song for a new BBC comedy, Whites. Good enough reason to wheel it out and enjoy its eclectic mix of English pastoral and baroque rock settings. Wolfe’s story is fairly unique in itself. Full name Alexander Gordon de Menthon, a scion of a French aristocrat he funded this album through selling a family heirloom, a Rembrandt sketch, not often that happens.
Anyway, the result was an album that pulls in influences that include the likes of Tom Waits and Neil Young but the overall influences are English artists such as Paul Weller and even Peter Skellern. The Weller trick of fusing pastoral sounds with frighteningly good turbo charged guitar is given a good airing on the second song, Lazybones while the lengthy closer Stuck Under September is a close cousin to The Jam’s English Rose. The mellow Till Your Ship Comes In has shades of Nick drake particularly in the string accompaniment. While the overall feel of the album is of a wintry melancholia there are moments such as Teabags in Ashtrays which has wonderfully eccentric feel with Hawaiian guitar and merry go round circus music blending into a dizzying mix. The song that the Beeb is using, Song For The dead struts proudly sounding like a long lost Kinks song although Wolfe’s estuary English might not be his everyday voice one suspects. There are other joys, Empty Morning is a mournful lament with brass accompaniment reminiscent of Peter Skellern while This Submarine brings to mind folk rock experiments by the likes of Roy Harper and Michael Chapman from many moons ago.
A minor classic that might enjoy resurgence thanks to the BBC. - 'Blabber N Smoke'


"Band of the day - Review"

Hometown: New Cross, London.

The lineup: Alexander Wolfe (vocals, instruments).

The background: There was an interesting moment – well, we found it interesting; you might have glazed over and switched off – a few years back when Beck released an album of lugubrious, relentlessly melancholy baroque folk-pop called Sea Change. It was a great album, his best to date we think, but what made it especially interesting was that it was the follow-up to Midnite Vultures, his album of arch, exuberant, Prince-tastic funk pop. This was, some decreed at the time, either a sign that Beck had, in the interim, experienced a calamitous break-up with a woman, or it was an act of minor sacrilege: ie. yet another genre exercise from an artist who had long since proved himself capable of mastering virtually any rock style at will. Sacrilege? Sure, because lugubrious, relentlessly melancholy baroque folk-pop is meant to come from the heart, is meant to be authentic, is meant to be MEANT, not just something to try on a whim. Whether or not Sea Change was merely the latest example of Beck the postmodernist whiz-kid saying, "See what I can do, see how clever I am?" or an act of genuine creative catharsis remains unknown, because he didn't say at the time, and he hasn't let on since.

Still, it did throw into question the whole notion of authenticity in the singer-songwriter milieu. The question being: can you fake sincerity and sweet sorrow? Alexander Wolfe is, like Beck, an all-singing, all-playing type who pens and produces his own material and performs it mostly by his lonesome, handling all the instruments on his debut album, Morning Brings a Flood, with the exception of drums, strings and horns. And in so doing he is able to strike a consistent mood, a mood of downhearted languor, with songs full of sadness, regret and longing and titles such as True Love Lies, Stuck Under, Song for the Dead, Empty Morning, Breakdown and the rather more prosaic Teabags in Ashtrays, although the opening line on the latter – "There's teabags in ashtrays and blood on the walls" – nicely balances pathos and drama.

The 23-year-old Wolfe has, according to his MySpace, been influenced by Eric Cantona and Elliott Smith, Sylvia Plath and Nick Drake, and according to his press release "inspired by everyone from Captain Beefheart to Joni Mitchell, the Velvet Underground to Curtis Mayfield". He may well have been influenced by the former, that's his prerogative, although there are precious few signs of, say, Cantona's maverick genius here (although he has been known to scissor-kick audience members). And he may well have been inspired to do this by Beefheart and co, but you wouldn't know it from his songs, which are uniformly slow and sombre, with tinges of keyboard and strings, harmonica and random FX to add light and shade, and the odd annoying foray into kick-ass grunge like Movement that appears to have strayed in from another album. As he sings – incidentally, like a husky, bluesy Chris Martin without the ballast and bombast of Coldplay to support him – on Empty Morning, "Everything seems so blue". And everything does seem blue throughout Morning Brings a Flood, an album on which Wolfe is mostly successful at conveying sadness and sorrow. But, of course, it lacks that extra thrill that comes with wondering whether a record like Sea Change was 4 Real or just the artist posturing, because no one has heard of Wolfe. Even so, his music feels a little one-dimensional. Maybe when he makes it big, has a public spat with his supermodel wife and does a 360-degree turn towards industrial metal, we'll pay more attention. Still, this is likeable enough.

The buzz: "Weather warning: expect floods. Of tears."

The truth: Floods? No. A trickle, maybe.

Most likely to: Keep a copy of The Bell Jar by his bed.

Least likely to: Bang on about seagulls and trawlers.

What to buy: Morning Brings a Flood is released by Redemption in September.

File next to: The Boy Who Trapped the Sun, Beck, Nick Drake, Chris Martin. - The Guardian


"Neil Young Cover - Review"

You've got to be pretty ballsy-- and pretty great-- to pull off a classic Neil Young cover like "Don't Let It Bring You Down" from his After the Gold Rush album. Sting's pre-Police band, Last Exit, did it and so did Victoria Williams (on a Neil Young tribune album), Seal and Annie Lennox. But the best cover I've heard of the song comes from a rockin' singer-songwriter from South London named Alexander Wolfe who's got an awesome voice and a facsinating story that starts with the conquest of Montreal, swings back to an eleventh century castle in the French Alps, owned by his antecedent, the actual St. Bernard-- and takes us to... well, MySpace.

His album, Morning Brings A Flood is on the U.K. indie label Redemption and it's superb-- but doesn't include the Neil Young cover. That I found on his MySpace page as a free download. If you like Nick Drake and Elliott Smith you're gonna love Alexander. Here's a a clip I put together with some found materials but by all means listen to his songs at his label website and on the MySpace page. This guy's good. Tweet him if you want to tell him what you think of the music. - Crooks and Liars


"Album review"

Singer/Songwriter, Alexander Wolfe, is from South East London. His tempo is slow and the songs may be dark, but the music is too beautiful to be considered depressing. Alexander is known for his poetic lyrics. The words he sings are brilliant and stand apart from the thin work the industry is used to. His myspace profile and the live videos posted on youtube are saturated with comments containing the words “Amazing” and “Genius”, attached to pasted lyrics of his.

The album will be released digitally on October 12th, 2009 on Redemption Records, preceded by first single ‘Till Your Ship Comes in’ on October 5th. You can check out his album HERE.

Song Standouts
- Till Your Ship Comes In
- Stuck Under September
- Lazy Bones - Unspun Hero


"Live Review"

Alexander Wolfe - vocals and all instruments
Except:
Drums - played by Steve Pilgrim
Strings & Horns - played by The Wolfettes.
Live:
Peter Jackson plays bass & sings BV's
Rachel Dawson plays Cello
Terry Kirkbride plays Drums

Sounds like: a heartbroken angel.

It seems a little wrong that when I listen to Alexander Wolfe, so much of what I think about is how amazing it must have been to see Jeff Buckley when he was up and coming on the New York scene. But in reality, I can't think of a bigger compliment. Like Buckley, Wolfe can bring a noisy pub to a quiet standstill with simple acoustic arrangements and an achingly tender wail that pulls at your very soul. It's riveting, powerful music that simultaneously lifts your heart skyward while making you want to cry. Wolfe excels at restraint, though, which is part of what makes the music so compelling - so many moments should simply explode with frustration or pain or anger, but become all the more poignant for holding back just enough.

Songs like "Lazybones" and "Breakdown" - both of which feature far fuller instrumentation courtesy of his backing band - certainly start to explore the emotions behind the emotions, with a greater dynamic range and terrific pop potential. But, the magic here is in Wolfe's voice, and he's at his best in the quiet moments, revealing the tender pain of "Stuck Under September," barely underscored with strings and a light piano tinkle, or calling the desparate plea of "This Submarine." With a self-released album due soon, he's far too good to stay unsigned and secret for long. - Twenty Cell Revolt


"Interview"

Sport.co.uk caught up with critically acclaimed, London-based singer-songwriter Alexander Wolfe – whose debut album Morning Brings a Flood has been described as “eleven shatteringly beautiful soulful folk pieces" by Music Is Okay and “an absolutely incredible album…a happy reminder that beautiful music doesn't have to be saccharine and nauseating” by allgigs.co.uk – to discuss his beloved Manchester United and the genesis of his rapturously received first opus…

So, how did you come to be a United fan?

Essentially, it was from watching television as a kid and Eric Cantona just kind of blew me away – as did that whole generation, Keane and Giggsy and Scholes. It just struck a chord with me and that was the only team for me. And I was kind of guided by my two older brothers who are both Man United fans. We share a father but we have two different mothers and they’re from up north. It kind of rubs off.

Do you ever get to make it to games?

I’ve only ever been to one Man United game and that was at White Hart Lane. I actually had a Charlton season ticket for a couple of years. I enjoyed it but I remained loyal to United.

Was that while Charlton were in the Premier League?

It was for the two seasons preceding that. I went to the incredible 4-4 play-off final against Sunderland.

Onto this season. Are you concerned by United’s away form, or have they just been tough games?

I am a bit concerned, actually, but I’ve got total faith that we can turn it round. I think that, now Rio’s back in the fold, we can shore up the defence. We’ve pretty much been conceding two goals a game away from home, if not three. You’ve got to get the defence right before you start going forward. I don’t think Rio’s the player he was a few years ago but he’s pure quality and to have Rio and Vidic back together should shore us up. I think Valencia’s a big miss. It’s a real shame he got injured.

In which areas would you like to see the squad strengthened?

I was disappointed that we didn’t get Sneijder – put it that way. I think he would have been a fantastic United player. Scholes has been great this season – it’s a shame he’s so old that he’s probably only got another season in him because we haven’t got a natural successor for him. Darren Gibson isn’t in the same class. The main problem in my opinion is up front. We have a striker who is absolutely world class in Wayne Rooney but he’s temperamental and goes through hot spells and cold spells. It’s a shame because it’s pretty difficult when he’s in a cold spell. I think we could do with a centre-forward like Fernando Torres but not actually Fernando Torres – that would be odd. Another centre-forward so Wayne can play just off him.

Could Berbatov be that centre-forward?

Yeah, Berbatov’s been playing great but you’ve got a similar problem. Both of our main strikers are too affected by things emotionally and they go up and down – they’re not like Drogba who’s just endlessly consistent. He’s a beast.

Who would be your personal top five United players?

I’d probably say Giggs, Cantona, Dennis Irwin, Wayne Rooney and Peter Schmeichel. I used to be a goalkeeper as a kid and Peter Schmeichel was my hero. I’m sure I’ve missed loads and I’ll kick myself later but those are the five for now.



Morning Brings a Flood is getting great reviews. What was your big breakthrough in the music industry?

I’m still waiting for it! To be honest, there hadn’t been one – it was just a succession of things. I had tunnel vision with it and I just kept going. I’ve been doing it for two years now and there was nothing – financially or anything else – that could persuade me from the fact that I had to make the record and that it needed to be as good as it had to be. I made it in bedrooms, lofts, bathrooms – all kinds of weird places. So there was a bit of blind faith, an ‘if you build it they will come’ kind of thing. It’s got great reviews and it’s sold nicely but that’s not why I did it. I did it because I had stuff to say.

They’re beautiful songs. Nick Drake’s an obvious reference point – was his work what you had in mind when it came to the orchestration?

It’s weird you should say that because when I started the record – in conception at least, before I recorded it – it was going to be an acoustic collection of songs. Nick Drake made a few records but Pink Moon was just him and a guitar and that’s kind of what I felt I should be doing, just getting right to the core of the songs. As I kept going, I ended up elaborating and building on their structures and it kind of took shape from there. An old friend of mine called Alex McCarthy scored the string arrangements for me, which were very ornate, and I think it went into a different area of Nick Drake’s work.

Were the songs written in close proximity to each other or over a long period of time?

Yeah, they were written in relatively close proximity. My band had just broken up so it wasn’t a particularly happy time – I felt a bit lost and like I didn’t know where to put myself, really. Some of that comes out in the songs, I suppose. They’re not particularly jolly. They’re about the kind of struggle which we all feel.

Are these songs a radical departure from what you did with the band?

Yeah. I’ve always been quite introspective with my words – they’ve always been quite dark and self-reflective – but the band was a rock and roll band. Quite heavy, a bit proggy. I don’t know how to describe it. It was quite weird but good, I think.

Did you find it difficult at first to perform these stripped down, personal songs to people having previously had the security-in-numbers of being in a band?

To be honest, I kind of felt – why didn’t I do this sooner? I’ve always felt like I need to get to the core of what I’m saying and the big rock and roll treatment shrouded that a little bit. I believe that if you can’t play it in front of people with just a guitar and vocals then it’s not a great song.

Which current acts do you admire?

I find myself listening to a lot of old music, as you can imagine! But I love Elbow. I actually really like the new Bombay Bicycle Record – I didn’t expect to but it’s really well put together. For Emma, Forever Ago by Bon Iver was a huge record for me a couple of years ago. I don’t if that counts as new though. I was listening to the Grizzly Bear from last year [Veckatimest ] the other day.

Finally – and bearing in mind that your answer could change from day to day, even hour to hour – could you name your top three albums of all time?

Erm…no! (Pauses in deep thought) I’d probably say Pink Moon by Nick Drake. You know when someone asks you something like this and you can’t think of a single record you’ve ever liked? Errr…I really don’t know. Well, I’m writing a new album that’s very acoustic based so I’ve been listening to a lot of singer-songwriter stuff. But I’m quite wary not to just say “Joni Mitchell” or whoever else I was listening to yesterday. Beggar’s Banquet by the Stones was huge for me. (Pauses again) I can’t think of a third record. Not one. Not just a record I like but a record at all! (Laughs and then pauses in thought again) It’s weird with these kind of questions, you always get the feeling that people are, rather than naming their actual favourites, just listing the three coolest records they can think of, like something recorded in a box in 1950. So I’ll have to think of one of those. (Laughs)

What about a Neil Young record?

Do you know what, I’d completely forgotten about Neil Young. Let’s go with After the Gold Rush. - Sport.co.uk


"Album review"

I encountered Alexander Wolfe purely by chance; a friend, Oliver Lansley, directed the video for 'Stuck Under September' - a beautiful, bohemian affair (a short film rather than a music video - which premiered at the National Galley last year) perfect for this astoundingly moving track (the closing track on 'Morning Brings a Flood') - since then I have obtained the album and never looked back!

'Morning Brings a Flood' is Wolfe's debut album, boasting an eclectic mix of music perfect for show casing this rising stars talent. The gentle opening track, 'Prague Song', builds slowly with a laid back guitar riff and a quiet beat which gradually builds to include the sultry vocal of Wolfe. He has a voice reminiscent of Jeff Buckley, but British and dare I say it...better. 'Prague Song' is a great opening track and builds in music and vocal for a crashing climax. Track 2, 'Lazybones', opens with mouth organ, guitar and percussion, very much in the style of Ray Lamontagne and just as laid back. This song is a joy to behold and carries the listener through happily enjoying every beat and every note.

The opening tracks of this album are good, but it is not until track 3, 'Till Your Ship Comes In', that you realise just how good Alexander Wolfe is. He has an imposing talent for grabbing every emotion in your body and just playing with them. I can't listen to this album without going through my whole spectrum of emotions. This song in particular gives me the most incredible goosebumps! A quiet track, with vocal and strings, 'Till Your Ship Comes In' is stripped back in the manner of classic Nick Drake, and it is just as good. 'Song for the Dead', track 4, again starts quietly but builds into a rather jolly song (especially considering the theme!). Very different to the previous track demonstrating the range of musical styles Wolfe can cover very successfully! Again, track 5 'Teabags and Ashtrays' (my favourite song title!) takes the listener on a different trajectory - musically accomplished and lyrically interesting this is a cracking song, as are tracks 6 and 7: 'Empty Morning' and 'Movement'. 'Movement' is a complete direction change, sounding more like Dave Matthews Band than anything heard previously on this record. It is still a success and is once again representative of Wolfe's fearsome talent!

'Breakdown (follow the leader)' is another example of emotion laid bare, a theme well expressed on this album, as is track 9 'True Love Lies' (the perfect accompaniment for anyone with an ache in their heart). The penultimate track, 'This Submarine', brings the listener out of the void of emotion created by the previous two tracks, and although my least favourite song on the album, it prepares us for what is to come. The closing track is also the finest song on 'Morning Brings a Flood'. 'Stuck Under September' is a phenomenal song, Wolfe's vocal is perfect and the strings backing the track add so much to the beauty of this song. The lyrics are poignant and moving, especially when accompanied by the short film, and it is hard to do anything else whilst this track is playing. You want to hear every word and every syllable Wolfe has to utter. This is a beautiful way to end this absolutely incredible album.

Alexander Wolfe is playing a series of gigs across London and I urge you to catch him live in these intimate venues before it is too late! This album is a happy reminder that beautiful music doesn't have to be saccharine and nauseating. It can be pure, simple and written from the heart. Expect great things from Alexander Wolfe. - Allgigs.co.uk


Discography

Til Your Ship Come In Single) - Oct 09
Morning Brings A Flood (Album) - Digital release Nov 09
Song For The Dead (Single) - Feb 10
Morning Brings A Flood (Album) - Physical release March 10.

Photos

Bio

For more tracks and videos, please visit: http://www.myspace.com/alexanderwolfe.
The story of how Alexander Wolfe's debut album 'Morning Brings a Flood' came to be, is not your typical one. Originally intended to be an acoustic collection of songs that captured the stark difference between darkness & light (in music, life, our experiences, emotions, day and night), what began life as some simple recordings, evolved into a dense, sprawling, internally-driven piece of work.

Determined to make the record he had in his head, Alex took a completely DIY approach and shut himself away in various lofts, bedrooms and studios around London and Buckinghamshire, where he played all of the instruments (bar the drums, the strings & the horns) and took a self-taught crash course in recording and production. The result is an utterly personal, direct musical insight to the weird and wonderful, twisted world of Alexander Wolfe.

Flitting between the intimate and the lonely to the upbeat and majestic, the 11 songs on this record are about the trappings of the human mind - the high and lows, the dark and light, empathy, panic attacks and paranoia, experiences of love and loss, all wrapped in charming lyrical metaphors and sweeping musical drama. Says Alex: “ ‘Prague Song’ is a waltz about the need to get lost, 'Teabags in Ashtrays' is about mistaking losing your sanity with gaining clarity.... 'Breakdown' is self-explanatory, and 'Till Your Ship Comes In' is about fighting off darkness by immersing yourself in the seemingly superficial things."
But had it not been for a strange twist of fate when Wolfe was growing up, this album may never have seen the light of day, as he explains:

'' I was born Alexander Gordon de Menthon on Christmas Eve, 1981. I moved with my parents to South East London at the age of 2 where I spent my formative years growing up in Woolwich.

I spent years playing in various bands and was always frustrated by the compromises that were necessary to hold a band together. I was very close to my Nan and her passing shook me. I decided to quit the band I was in and go it alone. I took her maiden name 'Wolfe', and spent the next few years developing as a songwriter and musician.

I decided to record an album and sold the only thing of value that I owned - a Rembrandt Lithograph print - left to me by my French grandfather, the Count de Menthon, in his will. This funded me buying a portable home studio set-up, with a mic and laptop etc. I felt that selling it was necessary, and justified it as selling art to create art. I felt he would have approved, and anyway, what’s the point of hanging a Rembrandt in a rented room in New Cross...?

The bones of the album were recorded in a studio created from scratch in a cottage in Wheeler End, Buckinghamshire. Working as a session musician, I was recording guitars for a friend of mine, Steve Pilgrim (formerly drummer of The Stands, now plays with Paul Weller), and we finished a day early. On that day, we recorded all the drums for 'Morning Brings a Flood'. From then on, it was a case of anywhere will do. Overdubs were laid down in various places - my loft in New Cross (where I also made the video for Teabags in Ashtrays), my parents' spare room in Woolwich... occasionally I'd sneak into the Basement Studio in Brick Lane, late at night when sessions had finished, to use their Harmonium and vintage microphones.''

After some final tweaks, Wolfe handed the album to the hugely respected Ray Staff to master (Staff has previously worked on albums by The Clash, Led Zeppelin, Brian Eno, Nick Cave etc), and 'Morning Brings a Flood' was finally ready.

So, a Rembrandt painting down, but a debut album up, Alex chose to adorn an already startlingly beautiful record with extras in the shape of videos and artwork, that he developed a passion for along the way. He created the charming stop frame animation video for 'Teabags in Ashtrays' (up on Myspace) in his loft and will shortly be releasing the 7 minute album closer 'Stuck Under September' as a short film.

'' 'Stuck Under September' is a poem - the story of a broken love affair between the sun and the moon... the title of the album is lifted from its lyric and in many ways is the apex of the album.''

The film stars Emilia Fox as the moon, and was premiered at the National Portrait Gallery on September 24th.

The album artwork came from a chance visit to Goldsmiths (100 yards from Wolfe's front door), where he fell in love with a painting called 'The Future; Stage 1'; "...as soon as I saw it, I knew it was the cover. An abstract horizon or a morning searchlight, it made the record make more sense somehow''.

The album was released digitally on October 12th on Dharma Records, preceded by first single 'Till Your Ship Comes in' on October 5th. Exclusively on iTunes. The wider album release is due for November 9th while the full CD release is scheduled for March 2010.