Monday, 29 November 2010

Soldier Blue



After making their live debut on television’s Mind The Gap last November things have slowed up slightly for this four piece rhythm and blues band.

In the year that has passed since their sole TV appearance (impressively performed after only two practices as a band) Soldier Blue have been quietly working behind closed doors to write what has become an extended back catalogue of original material while replacing long term friend and founding member, Rich Wilde, with Ian Barber on bass.


After comprehensively winning an Exposed sponsored battle of the bands Soldier Blue landed a spot at this year’s Tramlines festival before once again heading into their own musical hibernation to work on home recorded material.

Despite 2010 being a quiet year for Soldier Blue, it was always intended and David Beaumont (vocals, keys, guitar) begins to explain why: “We’ve been writing a lot, deciding what we want to do, cataloguing all songs and riffs, either by writing it down or getting it recorded.”

It’s made for quite the build up of as yet un-heard songs as Soldier Blue are looking at 2011 as the year to begin their showdown with the music industry as Beaumont continues: “We really wanted to get it right before we had a real pop, now we’ve got a demo we’re reasonably happy with, we can do that.”


There is an energy in their music that runs way back through the decades and is freshened with their own modern spin. Their demo, ‘The Best Of 1968-1972’, jumps from juiced up Indie in ‘Falling Out And Falling In’ to heavily fuzzed rock n roll blues for ‘Easily Pleased’ while organs and harmonies steal the show in ‘Scared Of The City Lights’ and ‘In Spite Of You’.

So when you next see flashing blue lights on the horizon, it aint the fuzz, it’s Sheffield’s new blues soldiers.


Catch Soldier Blue:

The Mean Fiddler – London – Dec 3

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Stereolab – Not Music





Out Now

Duophonic UHF Disks

When Stereolab convened at their studio, Instant Zero, in the summer of 2007 there were very few people who could have predicted it would potentially be the last time they would do so.

Not Music is the second part of what was recorded in Bordeaux that summer, the first going on 2008’s Chemical Chords before they announced their indefinite hiatus in 2009, after releasing eleven albums since their formation in 1990.

This is Stereolab’s twelfth album, a feat in itself, and while the band are no longer moving on, there’s still an ever present fresh feeling to their music. To say the band’s sound has his hit something of a plateau is probably fair but listening to them is still a rejuvenating experience.

Decadent harmonies are allied with poky synths and keys for opener ‘Everybody’s Weird Except Me’ before ‘Supah Jaianto’ continues the trend with jazz rhythms and horn breakdowns that are sucked into the Stereolab way of thinking.

The Emperor Machine remix of ‘Silver Sands’ is Not Music’s showpiece that stands at over ten minutes and in that time leaves behind the xylophone and horns of the Chemical Chords original to create synth heavy soundscapes that suit Laetitia Sadier's whispered croon down to the ground.

The melodic funk exotica that comes with “Two Fingered Symphony” is easy on the ears and as they push on towards the finish it makes you realise it would be a sad thing if this band were to never reform, they’re quite a lot of fun.

It comes to a fitting end with a remix courtesy of Atlas Sounds and ‘Neon Beanbag’ could well be the last of the bright lights you see from Stereolab for quite some time.

It’s a crying bloody shame.

Monday, 8 November 2010

Sleigh Bells – Infinity Guitars





Out Now

Mom + Pop/Columbia

Following the release of their critically acclaimed debut album, Treats, Sleigh Bells have chosen ‘Infinity Guitars’ to be the next representative from their curtain raising long player.

It’s with a fizz and crackle of heavy crunching guitars that Sleigh Bells let the party commence as this rebel rousing foot stomper slashes and bashes its way through what feels like an American high school protest that intrudes on every inch of your personal space.

The Brooklyn duo have left little to the imagination and the brash combo of crashing drums and raunchy riffs in ‘Infinity Guitars’ conjures memories of late night shindigs that leave a taste so pungent, you know they were good.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Terry Reid - Rich Kids Blues

Union Jackals – Universal Screenplay




Out Now

Mapped Out Recordings

The formation of this band was conceived in a dream involving other world abduction before they duly dubbed themselves Union Jackals because of their inclusive nature and an obsession with “canine beasts with a sixth sense to scavenge the good and the fresh from the myriad of rotten.”

Anyway, this has led them to their debut album, ‘Universal Screenplay’, an album that is looking on the large side of life, dreaming of what might be, what could be, what probably won’t be.

Union Jackals cross the different paths of their existence, and their weirdness, to overcome making this a song by song album. ‘Universal Screenplay’ is a theatrical long player that delves into classic Brit-pop synth, chill out and 80s psychedelia and doesn’t have workings men’s clubs, backrooms or support slots in mind.

It takes a while to get going with ‘We Are The Human Race’ and ‘Press Reset’ barely getting close to the realms of exciting and it’s not until ‘Prologue’ instrumentally meanders it’s way to the acoustic ambience of ‘I Am The Sun’ (“I lose myself making plans, release yourself while you can. I Am The Sun, burning the sea, rolling as one, holding the key,”) that this 
London trio briefly begin to shine.

It doesn’t last though and the immediately preceding ‘Racing A Horse’ falls back into their monotony and ‘Red Channels’ is a spaced electronic affair that dabbles with a creepy voiceover that continuously insists: “Join with the jackal pack.”

Frustratingly, while Union Jackals desperately try to avoid it, they’ve fallen into the category of being a star gaze synth pop band looking lovingly back towards the 80s and 90s. ‘Universal Screenplay’ continually tries in vain to draw you into their other worldly mindset and get you on board with their so called Jackal Pack but despite the theatrics, it’s really quite boring.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Myspace watch - Sarah Mac




Sarah Mac is Sheffield’s diamond in the rough.

After being specifically picked by the controversial former boxing champion Naseem Hamed to provide the music for his upcoming biopic (tipped to be a box office smash,) Ms Mac has been writing and gathering material to make up what will be her debut album.

While drawing inspiration from Hamed’s stories of his own hero, his father, Mac provides a little inspiration of her own as the jazz blues balladry of ‘Don’t Give Up’ hits special places in your heart.

Mac’s quirky-come-beautiful vocals and her lone piano give her songs their own identity, as shown in the romance and heartbreak that comes with ‘Everyone Knows’ where she croons:“You keep falling back, you’re so defeatist, you can’t be bothered anymore, there’s no such thing to you as the final straw.”

Reet nice.

Catch her: 

·         The Forum – Sheffield - 18/11/10
·         The 100 Club - London – 27/11/10



Ulterior – Sex War Sex Cars Sex





Out Now

Speed Records

This is the preceding single to Ulterior’s as yet unnamed debut album that is set to follow in early 2011.

The dark rock London quartet have kept the long term collaboration with producer Zlaya Hadzic (Sonic Youth, Tortoise) and ‘Sex Wars Sex Cars Sex’ is a pounding story of a sexual cold war.

With talk of “the single most erotic moment of my adult life today” and the animal intensity of their musicianship, Ulterior paint a dark picture of human lust  through synths and crunching guitars, allied by an outlook that must be buried in the bleak landscape of a tormented heart.

Synths add darker shades to this song as they refuse to head down the pop route but the continued chorus repeat of “sex, war, sex, cars, sex” and continual build ups lead them on a road to nowhere with the thirst for what could be still remaining in their libido.

New Street Adventure - The Hurt's Still Here



This soul trio are out to break hearts and conquer souls.

This is their third unsigned EP and sees a distinct new direction for the unsigned London based trio.

New Street open by setting the record straight and rejecting their Mod revivalist tag in ‘Looking Sharp’ as front man Nick Corbin spits: “To all the whatsits in the hot seats and glams in the bands you should know it's not about being part of a gang.”

Their music comes from years of soul and Motown influence that’s shaved with a modern edge so sharp it’ll whip you into a hip swinging frenzy. ‘The Big AC’ begs the question of why you aren’t already in your dancing shoes as Corbin tells the story of his love affair with soul: “We’ll go to place where no one’s heard that you dance to the music, not just the words.”

Welcome your new love story.


Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Dan Korn - Dustbowl EP

Released October 25 
Harrison Music



When Dan Korn came of age he discovered Delta Blues
, Bob Dylan and began the humbling experience of learning guitar and dropping out, an important aspect of today’s modern rock star CV.


After writing poetry and prose throughout much of his childhood and taking the influences of long ago, much of Korn’s first original EP is simple, timeless and varied.


There are many different faces to the 'Dustbowl EP' with 40s jaunty jazz and slide guitar gracing the opening title track as Korn idly croons: “Dustbowl black hole in Oklahoma such a sorry scene and it’s killing me and it’s killing me,” before things get a bit more serious: “There’s a man in a bank to thank with a gut gone round and a worried frown, I’m going to put that man in the ground,” as he pays tribute to the lives of family Joad in Steinbeck’s novel The Grapes Of Wrath.


Kinked sunsets and a warming awareness of Britain’s rock heritage are ever apparent in the tumbling chorus of ‘Song For Syd’, Korn’s own tribute to one of his ultimate heroes, Syd Barrett, while Like A Dove’ begins with acoustic guitar and more of Korn’s fresh faced vocals before thundering riffage and crashing drums accompany the singer/songwriter’s declaration of love: “I told her I love and I’ll tell her I love her again. I may never recover I may never recover.


As ‘Lost Love Shanty’ wraps up this impressive offering with laid back vibes and precious harmonies it’s clear to see that Dan Korn has his eye on the ball and can crack the whip of several genres.

'Dustbowl EP' pays tribute to love, influence and literature and could well pave the way for future glory.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Kings Of Leon - Come Around Sundown





RCA Records

Out Now

You could talk about Kings Of Leon all day. 

After the huge success of ‘Only By The Night’, the album that propelled family Followill to the masses, they’ve rarely left the stage or the spot light.

But with triumph comes further scrutiny and since their fourth LP we’ve seen on-stage tantrums (Reading 2009,) stories of petulance and cries of over commerciality with pampered pretence replacing their back room country punk, matters which have caused some fans to leave their side.

This is a band no longer in transition and Kings Of Leon have chilled their game. Preceding comments of a “beachy” album are true on the whole and ‘Come Around Sundown’ is a record for open highways and stadium spectaculars, despite the fact it never quite hits top gear.

Opener ‘The End’ sets the tone with expansive sounds and reverbed arena rock showing that the Kings 
aren’t shying away from the path laid down by the album that sold over six million copies.

While there’s nothing here in the vein of ‘Four Kicks’, ‘Molly’s Chambers’ or ‘Black Thumbnail’, the band are furthering their musical exploration and the sounds of their heritage with ‘Back Down South’ and ‘Radioactive’ particularly indebted to their birthright as the latter howls: “It’s in the water, it’s where you came from,” to background gospel.

It seems that Kings Of Leon are finally beginning to slow up as the likes of ‘Pyro’, ‘Mary’ and ‘Mi Amigo’ all cruise down the middle of that open road to highlight the problem with ‘Come Around Sundown’, it’s all too nice and lacks their normal bite. But maybe that’s what it’s supposed to be.

While Kings Of Leon’s fifth album release in seven years isn’t as immediate, innovative or as exciting as we’ve come to expect, it is the sound of an accomplished band that are comfortable with what they’ve become and where they’re headed.


Friday, 15 October 2010

Colour Of Sound - When




Out Now

Red Grape Records

It’s the debut album for this four piece from Newport and with glowing reviews already behind them plus the likes of Phil Brown and Calum MacColl (Bob Marley, the Rolling Stones, Jeff Beck and Kirsty MacColl collectively)working behind the scenes, the future already looks fairly bright.

Despite their back room credentials Colour of Sound labour as they begin with the oddly placed ‘Take This Ride’ and take a wee while to find their feet. When the ball does begin to roll it tumbles into the Deep South as accomplished four way harmonies cast spells to a bluesy rocking chair chug.

It’s a far from chipper start and the tone changes to soulful rock balladry with ‘Open Room,' all thoughts of blues behind them as ‘Colour Of Sound’ cracks the same limp wristed whip with vocalist Rod da Rosa’s sobered husk: “In the end you’ll take your memories, your bronze, silver or gold. Don’t let them ever get you down, what goes always comes around, that’s the colour of sound.”

There’s a comforting warmth to ‘When’ and Colour of Sound do the job of feeling familiar and easy. You almost feel like you know the songs as they begin but with the nature of what’s on display, most notably ‘Here It Comes Again’ and ‘Someday’, it’s distinctly wedding rock or Radio 1 hit wonder. Generally quite boring.

Despite the clear talent that lies at their disposal and the superb band delivery, 'When' heads further and further into pop’s aesthetic misery and their every move is revealed before their hand is up with ‘Long, Long Time’ and ‘Don’t You Know When It’s All Over’ to end their thoroughly predictable game.

Swing and a miss.


5/10

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Plants and Animals – La La Land




Out Now

Secret City

Back in 2008 LA based trio Plants and Animals released one of the most widely acclaimed, if a little overlooked, debut albums of the year.

The hard to place folk ramblings of ‘Parc Avenue’ are widely left behind with ‘La La Land’ and Plants and Animals seem to be experimenting with their ever expanding sound.

With clear tongue in cheek nods to their hometown chic with the opening chug of ‘Tom Cruz’ and the crunching rhythmic riffage of ‘American Idol’  their sound opens into a new expansive realm that includes sing-along’s and sax, proving that they aren’t all about keeping things on the same track.

There’s a more distinct edge to their writing here and they sound more like a three piece then they ever did on their debut. When they do slow the speed with ‘Undone Melody’ they sulk with pianos, stabs and reverb while singer Warren C. Spicer mumbles through the darkness: “Not today, I need some time to work this out, you ask me in and then you kick me out, there’s no space in here for us, your righteous ways, your righteous ways.”

‘La La Land’ continues to brood and mutter under its breath after the somewhat chilled affair of ‘Kon Tiki’ and while Plants and Animals are making progressions, they take a little while to unlock. One could be mistaken for believing the sultry vocals from ‘Game Show’ have a well known monotony ringing through them but once the union between lead and backing is complete the smoke lifts and the song is transformed far beyond what was initially expected.

While ‘The Mama Papa’ embraces a modern indie spike synonymous in sound with the glut of London scenesters over recent years, ‘La La Land’ has tendencies to slip into unchartered misery with ‘Celebration’ providing little other than background noise and frustration that it hasn’t been transformed into something eye burningly epic.

The lack of consistency can be partially forgiven for the sheer array of ideas on display throughout their second long player is an indication that the evolution of this band could result in something fairly spectacular.

Something we would all want to see.

7/10

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Songs on the Stereo

1. Kings of Leon - Radioactive - www.kingsofleon.com

2. Jeannie's Diary - Eels - www.eelstheband.com

3. The Olympics - The Duck

4. Eli Paperboy Reed - Come And  Get It

5. Everyone Knows - Sarah Mac - www.myspace.com/sarahmacuk


Proper tunes. I saw Eels at Manchester Academy back on September 4 and I reviewed it but it was shit so I didn't post it. In the two hours and 27 songs Eels left behind the acoustic guitars and gentlemen's tours to rock through material spanning seven of their nine studio albums with thoroughly rocked up versions of 'Me E's Beautiful Blues'and 'I Like Birds' with the ever changing 'My Beloved Monster' taking yet another shape and smatterings from their recent trilogy of albums, 'Hombre Lobo', 'End Times' and 'Tomorrow Morning'.

That was not the review.

Sarah Mac is apparently recording the soundtrack to Prince Naseem Hamed's biopic, should be fairly interesting. The young singer songwriter from Sheffield produces drama queen melodies over spectacular piano to give you something you're not quite expecting and is definitely one to watch over the next year.

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Black Mountain - Wilderness Heart





Released September 13

Jagjaguwar Records

With Black Mountain’s first two albums you could be forgiven for thinking that this Canadian band are from another time with their bohemian stylings and heavily fuzzed rock n roll.

The psychedelic stoners seem to have neatened themselves up though and while their self titled debut and 2008’s follow up ‘In The Future’ were prone to long, warped instrumentals and rather indulged guitar solos ‘Wilderness Heart’ doesn’t contain the same seven minute trips and mind bending druganauts that have become associated with the band.

That said, it’s still in an equal league and possesses the same credentials of ‘Black Mountain’ and ‘In The Future’ by keeping the same weighty retro fuzz and harmonic folk moments that epitomise what Black Mountain are all about, it’s just been cleaned up and now holds a noticeable mainstream glint.

Leading single ‘Old Fangs’ chugs with spaced synth and thunderous guitars with the dual vocals of Stephen McBean and Amber Webber coercing you into a darker world while opener ‘Hair Song’ displays the rock and pop sensibilities of decades gone by.

The noise relents for ‘Buried By The Blues’ and ‘Radiant Hearts’ as McBean and Webber together utter: “The hardest truth to believe that all is worth and all that is gained could never replace the most beautiful things that brought you so close to my heart,” as ‘Rollercoaster’ skips back to their more schizophrenic roots and scatty psychedelic moments while ‘Let Spirits Ride’ is a cocktail of red eyes, heavy rock and rats heads.

It’s always a tricky one with Black Mountain. While they’re likeable and unquestionably good at what they do, the influences that come with their territory are still ever apparent and dominate the shape of their sound making none of this feel entirely new.

In their defence, they’re not just borrowing from the characters that wrote rock folk lore and ‘Wilderness Heart’ exhibits smatterings of folk, metal and blues that gel a well rounded album of ballads and blistering assaults together.

7/10



Harper Simon – Berkeley Girl





Released September 13

PIAS Recordings

On the back of this year’s self titled debut album comes Harper Simon’s new single, ‘Berkeley Girl’.

While Simon maybe a name you’re already familiar with (son of Paul Simon) it has taken a while for the singer songwriter to construct and release his critically acclaimed unveiling.

‘Berkeley Girl’s’ folk balladry and feeling make easy listening as Harper’s croon describes the love of an old friend with adoring lyrics coming from a clever head: “She is juniper and roses, guess I'll sing it once again and though we are no longer lovers, I know she'll always be my friend.”

With autumn days and colder nights fast approaching, Harper Simon has something to warm the cockles of your heart.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Kings of Leon find some soul...and lose some

Check out Kings Of Leon's new single 'Radioactive' from their forthcoming fifth album 'Come Around Sundown'.

It's gospel rock and the Followill clan are clearly making a statement of who they are and where they're from, they're from the south and they're making no bones about it.

Aside from the loving sentiments and the good times that have been had by all this is clearly not Kings Of Leon at their best. They're taking their grand ideas  one step further and the soul that spills from the gospel isn't necessarily a bad thing for them, in fact it's rather good but the little something that made them so damn tasty once upon a time now seems to be be more and more diluted, there just isn't that something in this that makes you truly excited. Oh yeah and the video cringe factor is cranked up to maximum.Not ideal.

That said...it's a grower....




Monday, 6 September 2010

The Megaphonic Thrift - A Thousand Years Of Deconstruction


Released September 6

Deadly People Records

On the west coast of Norway lies the idyllic city of Bergen, a place that has introduced the world to some of the finer shades of the Scandinavian pop scene.

With Kings of Convenience, R√łyksopp and Ida Maria all paying their dues in Norway’s second largest city, it’s now the turn of The Megaphonic Thrift to set tongues wagging and bring yet more musical credentials to north Europe.

Labelled as something of a ‘supergroup’, The Megaphonic Thrift have borrowed from Casiokids, the Low Frequency In Stereo and Stereo 21 to form a hard working touring machine that are setting souls alight with their angular riffage, hi-speed drums and garage rock credentials.

It’s with a bang that ‘A Thousand Years Of Deconstruction’ begins as ‘Acid Blues’ rings with heavily reverbed guitars that take no prisoners while the lazy understated vocals stop the party from getting too out of hand.

‘Exploding Eyes’ relents the pace slightly, though not enough to make you sit back and sip your tea (see ‘Every Time, (Oxygen’,) as the band begin to display what they do best with a mix of fast drumming and plucky, aired out guitars that start to lift them to the heights they’re searching for.

What’s difficult about this EP and this band in general is the previously mentioned undercooked vocals. Although the muffled out of tune angst keeps the chaos in control and gives them another stamp to many of the likeminded bands that sit before them,  there’s nothing inspiring, nothing to get a grip on and nothing that sets them apart.

The ideas are grand and the anthemic moments are regular but The Megaphonic Thrift don’t quite manage turn on the bright lights. 'A Thousand Years Of Deconstruction' has ambition and promise written all over it, it’s just not quite enough to put them in Bergen’s hall of fame just yet.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Eels – Tomorrow Morning



Released August 24

 E-Works/Universal/Co-Op

It’s getting hard to keep up with Mark Everett.
With the second album of this year alone and the third in a little over 12 months, Eels are back with the completion of a trilogy, the part E calls “the redemption.”
Last June ‘Hombre Lobo’ marked the return for the band after a four year absence of studio albums and was followed up in January with the sombre affair of ‘End Times’. Now the band that formed 14 years ago are offering ‘Tomorrow Morning’ and they’ve continued with the trademark Eels sound though still delivering the delightfully different twists that separate almost every one of their previous eight long players.
After an ambient beginning of instrumental ‘In Gratitude For This Magnificent Day’ the trend continues with ‘I’m A Hummingbird’, refusing to conform to any song writing rules and straying into its own rhythmless, orchestral world while Everett labours: “To be here now, I’m a humming bird, floating tree to tree, I’m a humming bird beautiful and free.”
‘In The Morning’ keeps the tempo slow as E becomes optimistic: “It’s anybody’s day, it could go any way,
 why wouldn’t you want to make the most of it?” and he begins to get over the messy divorce that 
dominated ‘End Times’ with looped drum machines in ‘Spectacular Girl’: “Not a desire and not a need,
 some things just happen because they have to be,” before: “I’m a man on a mission and I’m all about her.”
 
It’s good to see E’s perpetually low mood lift but ‘Tomorrow Morning’ isn’t actually spectacular, but it isn’t 
something that comes on its own either. If haven’t heard the first two parts of this engaging trilogy it’s like 
watching the last episode in a series  to which you’ve had no prior commitments, you
just won’t get as much out of it. The craft here is what’s remarkable and the balance of the album is 
nigh-on perfect, just not grandeur.
 
With the conclusion to the latest part of Everett’s life story done and dusted and a world tour currently
under way, the prolific songsmith might be thinking of taking a break; beard, board shorts, surf and bit-bat.
 
Not likely.


 
 
 

Monday, 23 August 2010

Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan – Hawk



Released August 24

V2

When the weathered pipes of grunge affiliate Mark Lanegan teamed up with the pop song writing sensibilities of Isobel Campbell three albums ago many eyebrows were raised.
With a past that’s somewhat heavier than the former Belle and Sebastian member, ex Screaming Trees front-man Lanegan has also had outings with Queens Of The Stone Age and Melissa Auf der Maur amongst others making this project somewhat off his normal rock-laden radar.
Despite the unusual pairing, they’ve become quite the formidable duo with Lanegan’s weathered growl being the ideal counterpoint for Campbell’s subtle blues/folk nuances.
In their previous efforts they’ve never strayed too far from the sparse road of haunting melodies and sultry tempos. The same vibe is ever apparent in ‘Hawk’ but there’s more to this record than we’ve seen in the previous six years of partnership.
‘You Won’t Let Me Down Again’ stinks of shipwrecked love as Lanegan croons: “You thought I was a weaker man, gave up without a sound,” in his trademark gruff while Campbell lurks in the background to put a certain gloss on the soundscape.
There’s a Bond-type mystery that lingers in ‘Come Undone’ as the jazz blues rings through swirling strings and soulful piano stabs while Willy Mason makes the first of a double cameo in ‘No Place To Fall’ before it all gets rather raucous in the blues romp of ‘Hawk’.
Despite the excellent solo effort of ‘Sunrise’, Campbell generally takes a back seat and it feels like Lanegan’s party at times. This is not the case. The song writing comes from the female side of this duo and that’s where the heart is from. Isobel Campbell has shown a wise hand to fashion a sound that suits another so dutifully and makes ‘Hawk’ an intriguing listen.
She’s wise enough to make you want more.

 9/10

Friday, 20 August 2010

Songs on the Stereo


 Now then. These are top tunes...

1. Manana - Peggy Lee

2. Many Shades Of Black - The Raconteurs

3. Cigarette Ashes - Jimmy Conwell


4. Nun - I Am Arrows

5. Hawk - Mark Lanegan & Isobel Campbell


Enjoy x

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

I like...

Thoroughly enjoying the pop/folk/general good time singalong tunes that Tunng are bashing out at the moment.

Having released their third album '... And Then We Saw Land' they've returned to their original line up that became "very definitely taken with the group musical identity that is continuing to develop."

Their pretty melodies that are based around simple pop hooks and accompanied by the folk twang of a banjo and piano, as well  as the odd synth which overall creates something to lift you up quicker than a Meadowhall escalator.

Check them out down below....

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

The almighty Eels return...



Mark Everett isn't giving his fans much time to keep up.

His third album in a little over a year has arrived and due to be released on August 24. 'Tomorrow Morning' is the final foray of a trilogy that started with the raw desire laden 'Hombre Lobo' which was shortly followed up with the more sombre affair of 'End Times'.

The ever experimental Mr E seems to be favouring a more electronic vibe this time round...exciting? Hell yeah.

More to come but for now...


Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Myspace watch - The Black Flowers



Pounding their way through Sheffield's wilderness comes a dark shade of something beautiful.

After a couple of successful performances at Sheffield's Tramlines festival and a stint in London, what comes next could be quite exciting for the Black Flowers.

The ferocious drums in 'Play With Me, Play With Fire' sit with understated vocals and ringing guitars to set a scene of suspense and mystery that they don't answer to as vocalist Ben Stanton croons: "Play with me, play with fire, I can be your one desire," before: "Let me a paint you a picture, of a dream that I had, you weren't there in the debt of redemption."

Having found a favoured recording spot at the Steel City's 2 Fly Studios with the much revered Alan Smythe, this is band that are not searching for a sound, they found it long ago, and what they found is good.


Thursday, 29 July 2010

Paperboy delivering the goods

Check out Eli 'Paperboy' Reid ripping up Jools Holland. Ideal stuff...



Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Blabbermouth - Me And The Metronome


Hobgoblin Records

Released August 30

It’s with a whisper of excitement that Blabbermouth’s new album has arrived.

The anticipation for Steve Thompson’s long player is not without foundation either, after honing his abilities between the moments his guitar wasn’t pawned to cover rent and utilities, heads have been bowed to get a good look in on this London based singer/songwriter.

After last year’s release of the superb single ‘I Return’ it seems that Thompson has crafted himself into one of the most respected folksters in the capital with acclaimed performances at the Crawley Folk Festival while creating the stuff of You Tube legend at Sidmouth Folk Festival and getting snapped up by Hobgoblin Records to release ‘Me And The Metronome’.

Thompson starts in familiar territory, using the aforementioned ‘I Return’ (re-mixed to accentuate the more haunting and larger moments of the song) to open the album and follows with more beguiling heart-felt folk.

The likes of ‘Agoraphobia’ (“but there’s a light outside, representing all that’s right, in you, that I see, in you”) and ‘Paris’ (“it’s true, what you said, we’re better off in Paris, than dead”) accentuate all that’s right about Blabbermouth and begins to lead you to believe you’re onto something truly special before the album highlight of ‘Death Of A Songwriter’ (I’ve gone, but I live on and I’m sorry for the burden of my song”) makes you convinced of this fact.

Sadly for us, and Blabbermouth, this just isn’t the case.

It starts going horribly wrong in the pretty shit ‘My Life As A Cat’ which you can quite frankly imagine a purple dinosaur singing along to with a sickening smile that just doesn’t ever leave his face. A favoured approach for Thompson is to sing from another perspective, a ghost for example, and he seems to have taken this notion too far as he sings: “My life as a cat, that’s where it’s at, all that I need is to sleep, breed and feed,” which can’t be even be saved by the sweet sentiment: “My life as a cat, that’s where it’s at, I don’t cheat and I don’t lie and you won’t ever hear me say goodbye. Not until I die,” which isn’t true in all fairness, cats can be sneaky fuckers.

It’s not all downhill from here, ‘Don’t Wanna Go Home’ sits up there with the album’s best but there are fairly comedic moments in ‘Keith’s Been Conned Again’ where Thompson flicks between his normal singing and a cockney accent while In ‘Chicken’ he sings: “I don’t mind if it’s roasted, oven grilled or fried. I go for legs or chicken breast, wings or chicken thighs.” Madness.

Without wanting to get carried away in talks of part genius part mentalist it’s fair to say that this album is a mixed bag, with the best songs all crammed into the first third of the 15 tracks . Blabbermouth hasn’t completely missed the mark here and I want to like this more, you just can't help but feel that at least five of these tunes could be health endangering radio jingles that would be lucky to see that back of a b-side album.



5/10

Monday, 26 July 2010

Stephen Dale Petit – The Crave




Universal Music

Released July 26



After the hugely acclaimed debut of 2008’s ‘Guitararama’ Stephen Dale Petit and his innovative blend of blues are back to test the water with the more commercial offering of ‘The Crave.’

With ferocious blues assaults on classics by Robert Johnson (‘Cross Road Blues’) and Little Willie John (‘Need Your Love So Bad’) Petit is once again on fine form and backed with a band so tight you can’t see the stitching that knits them together.

While it may hold more mainstream moments (maybe trying to lure new audiences and take Petit to the world) with 2 Pac and Dr Dre’s ‘California’ being an example, there’s also more in the way of vocals, a skill of Petit’s that doesn’t shine quite as brightly as his expert fret wankery. He is however backed with the more than capable pipes of Angela Brooks who keeps the vocals vaguely on par with the highly skilled band who have created the perfect advertisement for Petit’s ‘New Blues revolution’.

With the notable guitar skills on display it’s with credit that ‘The Crave’ doesn’t get lost in endless solos and instrumental excess. The grand range of what’s on offer is endearing with the slide and hilly billy moments of ‘Lookin For Trouble’ being as welcome as the raucous ride of opener ‘3 Gun Slingers.’

The revolution continues.



8/10

Darker My Love - Alive As You Are



Dangerbird Records

Released July 26


It’s with washed out melodies and a change of direction that Darker My Love have arrived at their third album ‘Alive As You Are’.

Swapping the reverb swamped psychedelic saunter for a more direct 60s pop swing, this LA based band are turning corners with ‘Alive As You Are’. While psychedelic elements still lie in their beachy mix they turn to basement blues in‘18th Street Shuffle’ with a harnessed precision that reveals the influence and sensibilities of decades gone by.

It’s an easy listen that never strays far from its laid back rock grooves and spot on melodies that have you chirping happily along to the serenity without really realising.

As a background soundtrack it’s easy to get lost in Darker My Love’s third long player and diversity is far from abundant in the hazy rock revelry which results in a monotony and similarity that takes over the likes of ‘New America’, ‘Rain Party’ and ‘Trail The Line’ which could quite happily sit next to each other in a fuzzy summer medley.

There’s nothing wrong here, on the contrary, a lot of ‘Alive As You Are’ is packed with little harmonic treats that will indeed tickle your fancy if you miss and crave a return to a simple rock n roll spirit that doesn’t get lost in self indulgence. While the character of days gone by lives on in Darker My Love, there’s nothing fresh or new in this record to make it stand out from a crowd and it feels rather more like a tribute to an endless line bands that came before their time.



6/10

Monday, 19 July 2010

Songs on the Stereo

Apologies for the absence over the last month, I've been checking out Morocco.

Have a shifty at these mega tunes that have been ticking over on my ipod rather than stereo...

1. Old Fangs - Black Mountain - http://www.blackmountainarmy.com/

2. Kalimba - Mr Scruff - http://www.mrscruff.com/

3. Siva - Smashing Pumpkins

4. Lying By The Side Of You - The Wallbirds - www.myspace.com/thewallbirds

5. All Along The Watchtower - Jimi Hendrix


The newest track of the lot is from Black Mountain and is taken from their highly anticpated third album, 'Wilderness Heart', due to be released on Monday, 3rd of September. The psychedelic stoners from across the pond once again grit their teeth in a cloud of fuzzy retro rock with a hint of cannabis. It's cool and sleazy enough to convince yourself that you're going to grow long hair and a beard. 'Old Fangs' is available as a free download on the link above but if you'd rather trip your nuts off to the video then it is directly below for your viewing pleasure...

Saturday, 19 June 2010

The Winter Olympics – Attention All Departments/They Launched A Probe



June 14

Office Rock Records
It’s taken nearly eight years for the impression to come but The Winter Olympics have made it and are causing quite a fuss in doing so.
With this double single taken from their long awaited debut album, a message of purpose is the order of the day for this London four piece and the opening dalliances of synth are cut out by raucous guitar stomps and vocal howls of “attention all departments, attention all departments, we’re going to a party, it’s going to be amazing” before [singer] Wagstaff announces: “We’re going to get retarded on cheap champagne.”
Their big time rock has gained them admiring glances and Donald Clark (Guns N Roses) is responsible for the mix that does indeed lead you to believe that this band are further on than they actually are.
It all gets a little bizarre in ‘They Launched A Probe’ which edges towards pink leather jacket cock rockery with talk of aliens accompanied by slow synth break downs to leave question marks over what might have been.
Maybe it’s that champagne.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Introducing: Alba Lua



It may not surprise you that beneath the beguiling cultural image of Bordeaux's wineries rests a thriving music scene.

It's a city that plays host to Alba Lua, an intriguing alt folk trio that deliver heavy pop sensibilities with a rootsy prowess. Their music isn't conventional and moves from vivid soundscapes and soothing sounds to back room folk with an effortless glaze.

Their debut EP, 'The Ballad of Joseph Merrick',  is set to be released on June 28th and has been produced by New York born Dave Bianchi, described in La Vanguardia as an "unusually brilliant talent."

Definitely ones to watch.







Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Applicants – Escape From Kraken Castle




Released June 7
Tigertrap Records

It’s the second coming for this brat pack bunch of punk poppers.
Fed up of the regurgitated takes on songs and scenes gone by with bands apparently forgetting what punk is all about, Applicants claim to be fighting the good fight by bringing their music to the bare bones with their unruly blend of punk and game boy synth.
It’s a tall order and the teeny-bop pretence isn’t lost in the opening slapdashery of ‘Schoolchildren Of Japan’ or the teen tale of heartbreak in ‘Evelyn Waugh’ where Paul Blades (the male contingent of their dual sex vocal pairing) gushes: “I watched you walking home once and to the library, I’d have told you how I felt but the sign said quiet please,” to single handedly resurrect the spirit of ‘76 while putting them right up there with punk’s lyrical elite, not.
It certainly is one for the school days and the raucous guitar hooks try in vain to save what’s lost through poor vocal work and schizophrenic sounds that create an abundance of irritants that luckily dislodge themselves from your head at the push of a button, leaving no lasting damage.
The resplendent chug to the opening verse of ‘Obey eBay’ gives them a brief wind of composure before its chorus once again gives the game away by falling into the same derivative gutter punk that they believe sets them apart from the copy-mongers and wannabe scenesters.
It doesn’t.

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Morcheeba – Blood Like Lemonade




Released June 7

Pias Records
When it was announced that Skye Edwards would be returning to the Morcheeba fold in February the most chilled ripple of anticipation fell over anybody that had previously picked up one of their records featuring the angelic singer.
Since departing because of personal reasons way back in 2002 the Godfrey brothers have reinstated their original vocalist to grand effect and ‘Blood Like Lemonade’ displays all the reasons why Morcheeba’s laid back charm has led to them becoming the multi-million selling darlings of down tempo.
Opening with ‘Crimson’s’ incandescent rays of summer sun and the soulful sounds of new single ‘Even Though’,  the homecoming of Edwards opens up new roads for Morcheeba all over again with the super chilled melodies taking over the songs once more.
Soothing bouts of harp accompanied blues give the sliding swing of ‘Mandala’ a shining prominence and the trip hop beats of ‘Easier Said Than Done’ add another dimension to the shape of an enticingly loose LP.
The headlines and talk will be of the return of Skye Edwards but nothing should be taken away from the brothers Godfrey, the production and song creation remains unequivocal and entrancing  making this one of the soundtracks to the summer.

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Boy Mandeville – Christina




Released June 7
Kind Canyon Records/Voga Parochia!

This Cambridge quartet and their primitive good time pop are turning heads.
Having honed their abilities on the London and Cambridge live circuits over the last nine months in kitchens and warehouses it comes as no surprise that Boy Mandeville’s debut single has arrived.
‘Christina’ maybe in indebted to some of their clear influences but is riddled in summer fun that steers you from your seat and into the nearest field to do bad things. It’s a sweet quirky mix of sounds with snappy offbeat drums that send tingles to your dancing shoes paired with the soft under cooked vocals that sit well in an unblemished mix.
B side Raisin Snake rings with the same sensibilities that make this bunch of hotly tipped scenesters ones to watch in the coming months. 
www.myspace.com/boymandeville