Have You Met…James Yorkston and the Athletes?

My work in college radio DJ-dome leaves me swimming in a sea of new music mailed daily to our stations doorstep. Lately the influx of new music on my mac hasn’t been coming from the stations supply, but from my own search for tunes to play on my specialty folk show. That’s how I got turned on to Scottish folk machine, James Yorkston.

James is four studio albums deep into his career, his most recent “When the Haar Rolls In” was released on Domino Records [see: Arctic Monkeys, Pavement] in September.
But don’t lump James in with the rest of the singer-songwriter-guy-with-guitar folk musicians that stereotype the genre. With his unique, deep weather-worn voice and at times lazy disregard for singing in time with his beats James’s work is a refreshing change. (Okay, I might have just as well described both Bob Dylan and Conor Oberst, among others, so we’ll say he’s relatively refreshing). His lyrics paint dark and hazy pictures on topics as odd and varied as fogs and foxes. The marriage of James’s low-scratching voice and dense lyrics seem to work best at both extremes – either quickly with as many syllables lumped in a line as possible [see: Tortoise Regrets Hare] or with the song dragging along slowly behind him [see: B’s Jig].
The harshness of James’s voice is accompanied perfectly by the gentle violins, pipes, and whistles offered by his gaggle of backing instrumentalists called the Athletes. Most notably featured on Haar are Norma and Mike Waterson, siblings and original members of English folkies the Watersons.
Available from Domino is a special addition box set that includes not only a canvas bag and elaborate “presentation box” (Of Montreal, anyone?) but a covers and remix CD. One of these 1,000 box sets also contains a golden ticket – yes, seriously – the discoverer of which is granted a personalized James Yorkston composition which he will perform in their nearby town.
Below are two mp3’s from When The Haar Rolls In, grab the entire album where albums are grabbed.

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