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DIY Discovery | Nothing Concrete

This French collective genre-hops joyously on its essential second album.

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Most of the music I hear is sent to me by labels and publicists. But there’s nothing like getting it straight from the source. Welcome to the latest instalment of DIY Discovery, where I introduce you to artists who have sent me their music directly (and who don’t suck — that’s definitely part of the deal too). If you’d like to get in on this action, no problemo: Just click here or go to the Submit Music page, fill out the form and hit send. Or email me directly here. I can’t promise I’ll feature you, but if you’re as awesome as you think you are, it could happen. You never know. But first, check out the must-hear artist below:

NAME: Nothing Concrete

HOME: Toulouse, France

LATEST RELEASE: The strikingly original and completely essential genre-hopping sophomore album Jumble Shop Tales.

MY PITHY DESCRIPTION: Folk … no, blues … no, jazz … no, soul … no, all of it. And so much more.

SIX ADJECTIVES FOR THEIR MUSIC: Bohemian, catholic, proletarian, inclusive, life-affirming, authentic.

WHAT THEY SOUND LIKE: A Gypsy wedding, a French soiree, a Scottish wake, a Vaudeville matinee, a folk workshop, a workers’ rally and a swing-jazz jam — all sharing the stage in a Prohibition-era speakeasy.

IN THEIR OWN WORDS: “In the shadows of the Pyrenees in Southern France, away from the glow of the crystal bucket and constant flow of social media, resides a collective which has purposefully chosen this remote locale from which to strike out in all directions with their extraordinary music. As is befitting a band which counts a Scot, an Italian, a Frenchman, and a brace of female tap-dancing sax players (one English, one Belgian) among its number, this is not a project that is without its disregard for convention and with a willingness to accept diversity as one of its pillars.

Fergus McKay & Nothing Concrete have the bohemian swagger of prime Dexy’s but with a more irreverent edge, an acoustic-led combination of folk, ’30s swing jazz and a bluesy country cabaret polka which is quite unlike anything else. Their sound reflects their lifestyle, shunning technology where possible and returning to all things elemental, embracing acoustic instruments and the ancient art of storytelling through song.

“Having busked extensively over the years all around Europe, crossing paths with musicians from all walks of life, from life-long street musicians to a spell on tour as solo support for Joan Armatrading, Fergus has soaked up the lives of many who he has observed and has woven so many of them into his songs. The band’s ethos is to inspire those who crave tranquillity away from the rat race to follow their hearts and to take the leap of faith as they have. Having built their own studio in an old semi-abandoned farm house surrounded by gypsy wagons, and embracing sustainable living, the album was recorded in a truly organic way.

“The follow up to 2015’s Ever The Forager, Jumble Shop Tales is a selection of 11 tracks that weave their way through various fusions of genre, comprising protest songs, tales of renegades on the run, drunken waltzes, folky tunes and brass-heavy lopsided instrumentals.”

NOW HEAR THIS: