Reviewed by Simon Mackeen
Due for release on 10th April, I wasn’t sure what to expect from this 7th Laura Marling album.
I am a fan, and I liked her last few albums, but they have all been pretty steady. There’s always something a bit different about her material, but they have not always captured some of her earlier sound and essence.
What I did not expect to think when the intro for the opening track, Alexandra, started, was that it sounded like Jimmy Page!
That isn’t to say that this album in anyway rocks, but the opening strum certainly invokes this thought, and is a recurring theme throughout “Song for our Daughter”.
As I put this record on and wrote these words, I was sat in the early evening, with the sun shining through the windows, listening to songs that recall snatches of Joni Mitchells voice, a Paul Simon feel, or Lindsey Buckingham guitar, and even early Marling herself.
‘Held Down’ is the first single and could be a tribute to an earlier folk era. It soars in places and sways in others. It should will make people pay attention to this songstress again, or more likely for the first time.
There is a gentleness to this album different from previous records, some wonderful harmonies throughout and there is still no one who swears with such a beautiful tone.
There is some sex and absolute misery in those lyrics as well, but you have to listen hard to pick that up – it all hides behind the music and the voices. Laura Marling can be/ is a dark soul, she has always had a sharp tongue or shared some worrying insights into the way she sees things in the world around her.
Marling has played a bigger role in the production of this album, which after my first listening makes me wonder why she hasn’t done this before. Maybe this is the first time she wanted that change in sound, the extra harmonies throughout, strings overlaying guitar, (yes there are strings too I know) and more emotion in her singing than recent releases – check ‘Blow for Blow’ and tell me if you think I am being overzealous.
I had to wait until the last track for the “Something Different” but that just ended up being an added bonus and it came in almost like a hidden track of old. ‘For You’ suddenly veers off at an odd tangent compared to the rest of the record, and this track doesn’t have the complexity of the overlays, harmonies etc, but it closes the album out nicely.
The promo piece that accompanied the release, talks about it offering a sense of purpose and calm, it refers to a level of intimacy and reverence. That is the kind of thing I might want to debunk but I can’t, this was 40 minutes of all of those things.
2. Held Down
3. Strange Girl
4. Only the Strong
5. Blow for Blow
6. Song for our Daughter
8. End of the Affair
9. Hope we Meet Again
10. For you
Reviewed by John McEvoy
Alright, let’s get the obvious out of the way, this is the debut album from Ed O’Brien who for many years was the guitarist with the mighty Radiohead, and he seemed to be quite happy playing this role in a hugely influential band.
The story goes that several years ago he listened to Primal Screams ‘Screamadelica’ and this was the inspiration for him to make an album of his own. In what can only be considered the weirdest of times for all us, the has now done just that with the release of his debut album ‘Earth’ and what an impressive album this is.
Covering all styles of music including dance, rock and even a little bit of ambience thrown in, this is recording that genuinely gets better with each listening.
Opening track ‘Shangri-La’ opens with a hypnotic groove all overlaid by vocals which if you didn’t know any better were Jimi Somervilles.
8 minute ‘Brasil’ epic opens with a nice slow vibe featuring gentle vocals accompanied by acoustic guitar and violins and then the pace is picked up midway through and again settles into a driving trance like beat and it’s here that you can see the Primal Scream front and centre.
It’s the easy switch in musical styles that is one the most enjoyable aspects of this album and given the musicians who feature on this album it’s easy to see why. When you have the likes of Adrian Utley from Portishead, Laura Marling and Omar Hakim onboard, you are always in with a good chance of delivering a quality product.
‘Banksters’ is a close as you will get to the ‘Radiohead’ sound and its question, ‘where did all the money go?’ questioning the dishonest of financial institutions over a layer of fuzz guitars and a samba drum beat in one of the many highlights of this album.
In common with ‘Brasil’, ‘Olympik’ is another 8 minutes outing featuring soaring guitars which are beautifully underpinned by a driving almost rave like beat and for me this is THE highlight of the album. I look forward to the inevitable remixes that will surely follow.
In complete contrast to ‘Olympik’, ‘Cloak Of The Night’ brings proceedings to a satisfying close with a folk style acoustic duet between O’Brien and Laura Marling.
Virtually all reviews of this album have been favourable, and after listening to it, Wall of Sound have to agree, this is a truly exceptional debut album from someone who’s always been know as the tall bloke from Radiohead.
Well based on this outing, it would seem that Ed O’Brien is now going to make a name for himself, and all 46 minutes of this album is a genuine joy to listen to, and god knows, we all need a bit of that right now.
· Deep Days
· Long Time Coming
· Sail On
· Cloak Of The Night
Reviewed by Simon Mackeen
Architecture is the Debut album from Manchester 4-piece Ist Ist, the band have been around since 2014 and have produced a number of Singles and EP’s leading up to this point in time – defining a sound and image to match each other.
I have trawled through their back catalogue and some live outings on YouTube, Spotify and their Facebook page to try and get an understanding of what they are about before listening to Architecture.
Two words in one of their own posts pretty much sums up what they are about - “Post Punk” but bear in mind that Post Punk stretched back to 1978 so if you are expecting some completely fresh then you will be disappointed. A lot of their previous work would sit easily on this record as they are definitely true to the style so far.
First impression for Architecture were really quite good, the opening track had me reaching for the eyeliner and wishing I had enough hair to back comb. There is a blast of Goth on the opening track, Wolves but that quickly slips into something bigger and louder, making me hold the headphones tight and wishing I was in front of a speaker stack – this is a strong opening song that must sound excellent live.
You’re Mine, the 2nd track, continues a strong opening but for me, after that, it does not get much better.
Throughout the album the musicianship is excellent, it is reminiscent of those old Post Punk bands I really enjoyed like Joy Division, Jesus and Mary Chain and The Mission.
The vocal is pretty good but doesn’t work throughout, even with production some it sounds like a stretch. The problem for me is that it just gets a bit dull, I have heard it all and ultimately it has been done before and by better bands.
They seem to be building up a decent following and getting some support from the likes of BBC 6 Music and in some instances I can see why. They have potential and I will go and watch them live given the chance later in the year I want to hear Wolves and Night Arms at full effect.
They say in that they are regularly condemned as too ‘out there’ to be successful, I expect someone like Gas Vegas felt the same but as it stands that just isn’t true, they are not good enough yet.
I wish them the best of luck.
A New Love Song
Drowing In The Shallow End
Under Your Skin
Slowly We Escape
Reviewed by John Seales
Damien Jurado’s music is indie folk, with a strong American style. This is not surprising seeing as he hails from Seattle, Washington State, U.S.A. “What’s New, Tomboy?” is his 19th album. His first, “Waters Ave. S”, was released in 1997. So, he’s pretty experienced.
And he’s also assured. The whole of the album gives you the feeling that here’s a guy who’s comfortable in his own musical skin. His musical poetry is accompanied by an intimacy of musical arrangement, compelling yet relaxed. Relatively little-known in the UK, he deserves to be held in higher regard here.
“Birds Tricked Into Trees” opens the album and sets the scene for the principal musical instrumentation – a sole guitar (strum or fingerpicked) supported by a smooth bass with percussion and other instrumental elements one step removed.
“Ochoa” reinforces the mellow sound of the whole album. Musical arrangement is excellently placed, with no instrument being out of place, and a real “less is more” philosophy providing real spaciousness to the music.
Jurado’s voice is ideal accompaniment to the musical style, with in some cases echoes of Lou Reed’s voice, and in others an endearing fragility to his voice, perfectly framing his poetic lyrics.
“Fool Maria” shows an element of dark humour in some of his lyrics, with “Quiet as an Aeroplane...” (pause) “Before it hits the mountain”. This is in contrast to “The End Of The Road” with its “Now I have found you my running is over...I have made it to the end of the road”
“Frankie” provides a strong finish, with the added element of very successful harmonising with his own vocal providing a slightly different twist.
It’s hard to pick out stand out tracks as each song justifies its place here.
And the album stands re-listening very well. Counter-intuitively, despite the simplicity (though never starkness) of the arrangements, there seems to be more to hear each time.
I was reminded of the days when you bought an album from a shop, took it home, put it on the record player and played it once whilst reading all of the notes on the sleeve.
Then played it repeatedly, until you knew the whole album note by note, word by word.
Give this artist a try, especially if any kind of folk rocks your boat. He may not be your thing, which is fine, but if you do fall under his spell then this album will be one you’ll listen to again and again.
1) Birds Tricked Into Trees
3) Alice Hyatt
4) Arthur Aware
6) Fool Maria
7) When You Were Few
9) The End Of The Road
Reviewed by Liam McEvoy
Recorded the at the O2 City Hall Newcastle last November during Turners headline tour in support of his most recent studio album ‘No Man’s Land’ this album showcases Turner at his best with tracks taken from across all eight of his studio albums.
During the 2019 tour, Turner put great emphasis on story telling saying that ‘The story telling set I put together with the Sleeping Souls last year was a new venture, an experiment’. It is an experiment that has produced fantastic results.
This aspect of the live shows gives fans new insights into the older tracks for instance ‘Reasons to be an Idiot’ is a track Turner describes as being about his own struggles with mental health. The track is also given a different feel to the album version and is played with a country feel.
‘I am Disappeared’ is another track that Turner again describes as being about his own struggles about mental health and addiction. This track again is given a slightly different feel to the album version and is a much more basic and earthy acoustic version of the track. The story telling on the album is not all doom and gloom there is some positivity with the song ‘There She Is’ being about love and everything that is good about it.
With Frank taking to the piano for this track it again has a very different feel to the album version.
The Stripped back acoustic style is a theme that runs through the album which sees Turner performing numerous songs from his back catalogue such as ‘Love 40 Down’ and ‘I Still Believe’ in a very different way than fans may be used to but this leads to interesting new takes on older songs.
The stories aspect of the live sets may have been an experiment however, it was a great decision that produced a fantastically insightful live show with several new takes on old classics which translates brilliantly into a live album.
1. The Ballad of Me & My Friends
2. I Knew Prufrock Before He Got Famous
3. Journey of the Magi
7. Reasons Not To Be An Idiot
8. I Am Disappeared
9. Tell Tale Signs
10. One Foot Before the Other
11. The Way I Tend To Be
12. The Opening Act Of Spring
13. Love Forty Down
14. There She Is
15. Don’t Worry
16. Balthazar Impresario
19. I Still Believe
20. Be More Kind
Review by: John Seales
This is Wendy James’ first album for four years, following 2016’s “The Price of The Ticket”.
“Queen High Straight” took three years from inception via writing to recording and through to the final master copy.
She’s been busy, as this is 1 hour 20 (ish) of 20 tracks, enough for it to need two plates of vinyl and deserve the description of “Double Album”. But is it any good? Wendy wrote, produced and mixed all of the tracks on this album so it should show us how much talent she really has…
The opening track, “Queen High Straight”, is a smooth, jazzy introduction, full of warmth and not what one would immediately expect from Transvision Vamp’s ex lead singer.
OK, so we can expect a more gentle, jazzier vibe now from Wendy James?
Then she hits us with the second track, “Perilous Beauty”. What a contrast! Punky and distorted instruments with gloriously dirty vocals. “Free Man Walk” then mixes it up with a 3 beats to the bar number that has an ultra clean, uplifting sound.
In “Little Melvin”, a song about a wasted life (albeit with a jaunty melody), Wendy sings that Melvin has “travelled so far but all you’ve done is come back home” - well this is certainly not the case here musically for Ms James. Darkness and light with all shades between and explorations of different musical styles abound. She has certainly learned well on her travels.
Mid album things start to calm down a little and you start to think that the ride will be smoother. But then “Bliss Hotel” surprises you with a delightful musical popping candy of a track, and she follows up with left hook “Freak In” - heavy rock with the best of them, right hook “The Impression of Normalcy” - Punk, and uppercut “I’ll Be Here When The Morning Comes” - a jazzy little number that had me laughing out loud in a punch drunk joy at the talent on display here.
Both the indisputable talent and versatility of Wendy James are on display here as well as the musicians accompanying her.
In “Chicken Street” Wendy sings that “Luck doesn’t happen by itself – you have to fail a little, die a little, go insane a little to come out the other side”. I don’t know how autobiographical that lyric is, but I do know that Wendy has put in the effort here to justify the success of this album.
1. Queen High Straight
2. Perilous Beauty
3. Free Man Walk
4. Stomp Down, Snuck Up
5. Little Melvin
6. Marlene et Fleur
7. A Heart Breaking Liar’s Promise
8. Here Comes The Beautiful One
9. Chicken Street
11. Bar Room Brawl & Benzedrine Blues
13. She Likes To Be (Underneath Somebody)
14. Bliss Hotel
15. Freak In
16. The Impression Of Normalcy
17. I’ll Be Here When The Morning Comes
18. Cancel It... I’ll See Him On Monday
19. Sugar Boy
20. Kill Some Time Blues
Reviewed by Liam McEvoy
The Montreal based Indi rock outfit The Dears are set to release their eighth studio album lovers rock on the 15th May 2020, and it is an unsettlingly fantastic album.
During the build-up to this album The Dears were supposed to play a 12 shows across the UK and Europe however given the ongoing crisis these have been rearranged for November this year. If fans were left disappointed by this, they will certainly not be disappointed by this outing.
Opening track “Heart of an Animal kicks the album off in style with echoing vocals descending piano chords and guitars strumming repetitively this creates an ominous feeling.
This feeling is interlaced with sections of outright Indi rock however these sections do not last long and the ominous feeling returns throughout the song and in fact the entire album, as the feeling of calamity lurking just around the corner is prevalent throughout ‘Lovers Rock’.
‘Instant Nightmare!’ continues the ominous feeling with driving guitars feeling like a marching beat pushing the track forward. Everything else in this track falls into line with this marching beat emphasising the feeling that this track is slowly moving forward closer to tragedy.
The vocals on this track too fall into the marching beat and with lyrics such as ‘this is an instant nightmare, but no one gives a damn’ and ‘we know it’s all a scam’ contribute towards the slow inexorable march towards doom.
‘Stille Lost’ is a further fantastic example of how The Dears have created this doom-laden feel throughout the album. This time however it is the echoing saxophone that drives this track magnificently toward the brink.
Again, the lyrics tie into this feel beautifully with variations on the phrase ‘we’re lost nobody gives a damn’ repeated throughout the track.
In reality it only takes a cursory glance at the track list to realise that this is not an album that is going to be filled with hope. Despite this The Dears have done a brilliant job creating a swirling crescendo sound that weaves distinctively throughout the album, and despite its overall feel is a joy to listen to. Having rescheduled their tour for November 2020 hopefully things in the world go back to normal sooner rather than later so fans get the opportunity to see The Dears perform their fantastic new album live.
1. Heart of an Animal
2. I Know What You’re Thinking and its Awful
3. Instant Nightmare!
4. Is This What You Really Want
5. The Worst in Us
6. Stille Lost
7. No Place on Earth
8. Play Dead
9. Too Many Wrongs
10. We’ll go into Hiding
Bristol based songwriter and multi-instrumentalist JAMES HUMPHRYS will release his new single ‘Colour’ on 15th May, the first track to be shared from his forthcoming second EP ‘Memory Palace’, set for release on 10th July.
Loaded with thick, rhythmic, textural layers, ‘Colour’ holds the potential to brighten up the Summer. Furiously infectious indie-pop with a funk fuelled rhythm, the track comes complete with its own horn section and trumpet solo; making for a sunny and uplifting example of Humphrys’s ability to craft mature, yet playful pop full to the brim with gripping melodies.
Written at sea off the coast of Alaska whilst working as a musician on a cruise ship, ‘Colour’ came together using just a midi keyboard, one microphone and an electric guitar; later being recorded at Numen Studios upon his return.
“Colour explores the themes and thoughts surrounding that uncomfortable feeling you get when you’re in a group and you see a close friend putting on a false persona through the colour of their words. You can see through the mask because you know them so well and you can’t understand why they do it.”
Taking influences from bands like Foals, Parcels, Bombay Bicycle Club and Real Estate, James’s music is a unique concoction of upbeat funk-filled dream pop with often surprisingly melancholic lyrics.
‘Sun Mantra’, his 2017 debut 5-track EP, received numerous radio plays including BBC Introducing in the West and Eagle Radio, with tracks taken from it added to Spotify’s Fresh Finds: Six Strings playlist. Following the success of his next single, ‘The River’ recorded and released from his bedroom in March 2018, James sold out his first headline show at The Crofters Rights, Bristol. His next single, ‘I’m Not Your Man’ was added to Spotify’s New Music Friday UK and Hot New Bands playlists.
James has played venues ranging from Bristol’s Thekla to the Royal Albert Hall, and supported bands including San Cisco, Shortstraw and Cassia. In addition to multiple sets with London's Sofar Sounds, James has also joined the line-up at 2000 Trees Festival, Bristol Harbour Side Festival and Dot to Dot Festival. In 2018 James fulfilled an ambition by performing at Glastonbury Festival.
2019 saw James expanding his horizons, securing two short-term performing contracts in the Pacific. He used the time away to concentrate on his writing and his next single ‘Lay It All Down’ featured on Spotify’s Transistor playlist.
Follow James Humphrys:
Official Website: http://www.jameshumphrys.com
Paul Weller releases his new single “Village” on May 7th.
“Village” is the second new track to be debuted from his hotly anticipated new album On Sunset, which released on June 19th (Polydor Records).
“Village” is a dreamy and beautiful meditation sung from the decidedly un-rock’n’roll perspective of a man who is entirely happy with his state in life.
“It’s a response to being told that we’ve all got to explore the Amazon and climb Everest to make our lives complete,” says Weller. “And there’s a guy who says, fuck all that, I’ve got heaven around me.”.
“Village” was written by Weller and his long-time producer Jan ‘Stan’ Kybert. The track features Paul’s old Style Council mucker Mick Talbot on keyboards.
Listen to Village here: https://PaulWeller.lnk.to/VillagetPR
Paul began working on the forthcoming new album On Sunset very soon after finishing 2018’s masterpiece “True Meanings”. “On Sunset” features ten classic yet modern Paul Weller songs including masterly pop classics, heart-tugging ballads and occasional touches of experimentalism. It’s an album that sees Weller taking a rare glance into the rear-view mirror as he speeds into the 2020s.
The 10 tracks on the album are:
MIRROR BALL / BAPTISTE / OLD FATHER THYME / VILLAGE / MORE / ON SUNSET / EQUANIMITY / WALKIN’ / EARTH BEAT / ROCKETS.
Written and recorded at Black Barn Studios in Surrey, On Sunset was produced by Jan “Stan” Kybert and Paul himself with help from Charles Rees. String arrangements by Hannah Peel.
As well as digitally, the album is released on CD , Deluxe CD (includes extra tracks), double gatefold vinyl, coloured vinyl and cassette.
On Sunset pre-order link: https://PaulWeller.lnk.to/OnSunsetPR
Paul will be heading off on tour in the Autumn.
SUN Oct-25 BELFAST ULSTER HALL
MON Oct-26 DUBLIN OLYMPIA
TUE Oct-27 DUBLIN OLYMPIA
Oct-29 PLYMOUTH PAVILION
Oct-30 SOUTHAMPTON GUILDHALL
Oct-31 BRIGHTON CENTRE
Nov-02 HULL BONUS ARENA
Nov-03 YORK BARBICAN
Nov-05 LEICESTER DE MONTFORT HALL
Nov-06 LEICESTER DE MONTFORT HALL
Nov-07 BLACKBURN KING GEORGE'S HALL
Nov-09 CARLISLE SANDS CENTRE
Nov-10 MANCHESTER APOLLO
Nov-12 DUNDEE CAIRD HALL
Nov-13 NEWCASTLE CITY HALL
Nov-14 NEWCASTLE CITY HALL
Nov-16 EDINBURGH USHER HALL
Nov-17 BRADFORD ST GEORGE'S HALL
Nov-19 LONDON BRIXTON ACADEMY
Nov-20 O2 KENTISH TOWN FORUM
Nov-21 O2 KENTISH TOWN FORUM
Today, THE IMBECILES release a surreal animated video for: ‘One Hand Tommy’.
Watch Here: https://youtu.be/A9FZUBN6gw4
Taken from their acclaimed self-titled debut album, ‘One Hand Tommy’ is its latest single and proves no matter how strange our world seems right now, it could always be stranger…
In a blitz session of blood curdling vocals, disarticulated fretwork and wickelly deranged lyricism, ‘One Hand Tommy’ sees The Imbeciles tell us the tale of: Tommy; a child trapped in a dystopian landscape of nuclear annihilation with only a giant killer snake for company.
Collaborating with Shane Beam, their regular animation partner, this delectably unhinged meeting-of-minds conjures a two-minute sensory riot, in a video cloaked with enigmatic symbolism and allegory. While some may detect religious overtones to Tommy’s epic battle with the snake/serpent, other viewers may decipher a metaphor alluding to the systemic problems facing the world today (societal, technological, ecological, viral). The Imbeciles invite you to make your own mind up...
Shedding further light on Tommy, the song’s eponymous protagonist and star of the video;Butch Dante (the band’s rhythm guitarist), says: “Tommy is an almost mythical figure: An Everyman – or ‘Everychild.’ Vulnerable but brave, he represents innocence and hope in a desperate world.”
The video for ‘One Hand Tommy’ is also an homage to Le Ballon Rouge, the classic 1956 French short. In that film a bright red balloon is the only pop of colour in an otherwise grey, morose post-war Paris. Here, the colour is found in Tommy’s red onesie. The video’s nightmarish finale is illuminated by the transcendent light of nuclear holocaust – all part of a mise en scène that echoes everything from Picasso’s Guernica through to the great sci-fi movies of the fifties and sixties.
Having worked with the band on previous videos including ‘D.I.E’, ‘Medicine’ and ‘BAT’, Shane Beam was the band’s only choice to bring Tommy’s bizarre existence to life. “This is Shane’s finest work for us to date,” Dante praises. “Many of the individual frames rise to the level of art.”
‘One Hand Tommy’ is the latest exhilarating track to be released from The Imbeciles self-titled debut album - out now.
Comprising 13 imploded songs which rarely last more than two minutes, the album was recorded on tape in eight deranged days on the Texan-Mexican border. Packed with stripped-down musical information and resonant with atmosphere, the album was hailed by CLASSIC ROCK as “Some kind of Apocalypse Now” (✭✭✭✭). The band also gained masses of support at radio from BBC 6 Music, Radio X, BBC Radio 1, amongst others. The delirious fun of ‘One Hand Tommy’ is just another reason to believe the hype...
Later in 2020, The Imbeciles will be returning to the UK for a string of live dates. With no choice but to postpone their planned Spring dates in light of the current pandemic, the band’s rescheduled tour will instead take place between 12-20 November.
Details as follows.
THE IMBECILES UK TOUR - NOVEMBER 2020
12 - London, Shacklewell Arms (tickets)
13 - Brighton, Green Door Store (tickets)
14 - Leeds, Royal Park Cellars (tickets)
15 - Birmingham, The Victoria (tickets)
17 - Glasgow, Hug & Pint (tickets)
18 - Tynemouth, Surf Cafe (tickets)
19 - Manchester, The Talleyrand (tickets)
20 - Bristol, The Lanes (tickets)
Tickets on Sale now at: http://www.theimbeciles.com.
All tickets for the original shows remain valid.
THE IMBECILES - ‘ONE HAND TOMMY’ - WATCH HERE
S/T DEBUT ALBUM - OUT NOW - Check out the Wall of Sound review here
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Reviewed by Liam McEvoy
Four years on from his debut album Barry Dolan, the Bristol based singer-songwriter has resurrected his alter-ego Non Canon for the much anticipated follow up album Non Canon II which is out now.
Opening with ‘Never Say Never Again’ this track sets the tone for the album, with a stripped back folk feel led by the acoustic guitar interlaced with violins is a tone and feel that is consistent throughout the album.
The message of the album is also set out from the first track and it feels very much like a social commentary on the current situation in the world. Lines such as ‘fear itself is pretty much in charge’ and I think I feel better on the whole with this new dosage but it’s hard to tell when the world is so shit’ stand out in particular.
This kind of social commentary is prevalent throughout the album but is perhaps most noticeable on the lead single ‘Dark Force Rising’ This is the most stripped back track on the album with Dolan accompanied by nothing more than an acoustic guitar.
This track is very much a commentary on the current state of world politics, highlighted with lines such as ‘You can have your own terrible opinion but you can’t argue with the truth’ and I can’t agree to disagree with anyone who thinks that some people are worth less intrinsically’.
In the era of fake news these kinds of commentary are all the more important with Dolan himself describing the track as “a song about standing up to against bigotry in all forms, and trying to be brave enough not to agree to disagree with viewpoints we find abhorrent for the sake of an easier life”.
‘Dark Force Rising’ and ‘Never Say Never Again’ are by no means the only stand out tracks on the album. ‘Kingdom of The Crystal Skull’ shows that it is ok to take time out when things get too much and ‘A Teapot and An Open Mind’ highlights that learning is an ongoing process throughout life all whilst set to the same folk sound.
Non Canon has provided a compelling folk style commentary on the current state of the world with Non Canon II and is an album that is well worth your time and attention. The album is out now so don’t waste any time and check this one out now.
1. Never Say Never Again
2. The Cavalier Years
3. Dark Force Rising
4. The Saying of The Seers
7. Kingdom of The Crystal Skull
8. Self Untitled
9. A Teapot and An Open Mind
10. And Another Thing
Review by John McEvoy - 20th May 20
Earlier this year, Hayley Ross released her debut album ‘The Weight of Hope’ which was well received by critics.
Taken from this album is the new 5 track remix of ‘Come Back’ and whilst this remix format often delivers very little in terms of anything different. This certainly isn’t the case with this EP.
What originally started out as a kind of 60’s wall of sound feel, is now given the full dance treatment Kicking off with the ‘N-Joi’ remix which is an absolute banger of a mix. You really should play this version LOUD with the bass up to 11!
The Geek Boy mix starts off nicely laid back groove, but kicks in a pleasingly bassy EDM mid way through. The Thomas Aston mix has an almost ambient feel to it, and then it’s my personal favourite.
All 9 minutes plus of the Duncan Forbes mix is an epic techno/low fi groove reminiscent of the long version of ‘Fools Gold’, and closing out the EP is the Lost Raven mix with a sweeping electro feel.
All in all, this EP is well worth 30 minutes of your time, and you can make your own mind up which mix you prefer.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Reviewed by John McEvoy - 21st May 20
‘Biggest Band in the World’ is an accolade that not many bands can stake a claim to, The 1975 have been called this quite a lot recently and the question is, does their new album ‘Notes on a conditional form’ confirm this status?
22 tracks that come in at around 80 minutes provides plenty of material for you the dear listeners to make your own mind up. It’s clear from the outset who this band is aiming at with the opening track ‘The 1975’ featuring a powerful monologue from Greta Thunberg, which then moves straight into the high-octane punk thrash sound of ‘People’.
The 1975 are known for the mash up of musical styles and again this album doesn’t disappoint. ‘Frail State Of Mind’ is back on more familiar and instantly recognisable territory. Curiously they have several musical interludes between tracks which don’t entirely work, but on another level do underline their somewhat eclectic and wilfully random style.
They even veer dangerously close to country and Western with the acoustic ‘Jesus Christ 2005 God Bless America’ which features Phoebe Bridges on guest vocals, and this actually works, god help me, does this mean I actually like C&W?
Whilst this album has the band experimenting with genres, they also return back to familiar 1975 territory and ‘Roadkill’ confirms that they are still masters of writing songs with great hook lines.
Special mention must go to ‘Nothing Revealed/Everything Denied’ which for me was one of the outstanding tracks on the album. Opening with a laid back piano and then a glorious gospel choir, this is 3 minutes and 39 seconds of perfection. Plus, if you listen carefully you can find out what Matt Healy hasn’t done in a car!!
The 1975 are a big band, there’s no doubt about that, and Matt Healy has (un)willingly become a spokesperson for a generation. As a result, he does provoke a marmite response with his critics. Indeed, a quick skim across the online review for this very album will confirm this. But the one thing you can’t deny is that both he and the band have something interesting to say, and being predictable is certainly not something you could accuse this them of.
It could be argued that in their efforts to bring together so many musical styles they end up in danger of being the Jack of all trades and master of none, but there is no doubt that for me at least, the majority of the tracks hit the target either via their distinctive trade mark sound, or in their more experimental moments within this album. There was certainly enough to keep me wondering what was coming next, and I thoroughly enjoyed the journey it took me on.
I actually admire The 1975 as it’s too easy for a band of this stature to play it safe, and simply churn out more of the same, knowing that it would sell in lorry loads. They are clearly not afraid to take risks, and this for me is ultimately to their credit, and you know what, it may just ensure that they are a viable contender for Biggest Band In the World.
1. The 1975
3. The End (Music For Cars)
4. Frail State of Mind
6. The Birthday Party
7. Yeah I Know
8. Then Because She Goes
9. Jesus Christ 2005 God Bless America
11. Me & You Togther
12. I Think There’s Something You Should Know
13. Nothing Revealed/Everything Denied
14. Tonigth (I Wish I Was Your Boy)
15. Shiny Collarbone
16. If You’re too Shy Let Me Know
17. Playing On My Mind
18. Having No Head
19. What Should I Say
20. Bagsy Not In Net
21. Don’t Worry
Bridging the gap between the ramshackle everyday storytelling of brit-pop and the heart-on- sleeve emotion of pop-punk, Leeds quartet The Magic Eye Pictures feel like a breath of fresh air in an indie scene in danger of stagnating.
Harbouring the charm and innocence of early Ash and combining it with the raucousness of fellow Yorkshiremen The Cribs is a winning recipe and something The Magic Eye Pictures pull off effortlessly. It’s not just their music in which this translates either. Their live shows are something that needs to be experienced.
One memorable occasion was their EP launch, in which 800 people were evacuated from the iconic Brudenell Social Club during the band’s second song thanks to an errant smoke machine. Returning to the stage, the band asked where they should pick up from, before being told “exactly where you stopped”. They took that literally - Alex yelled “SOLO” and the band launched into the guitar solo and final chorus of their second song. Utterly charming and a band you could very easily fall in love with!
Their latest single, Girl Worth Getting Out of Bed For is the embodiment of said charm. Three and a half minutes of blissful power-pop, that eschews any of the pseudo-politics or indie-boy posturing that plagues the scene in favour of something more melodic, more wholesome, and ultimately more moreish; the video providing a perfect insight in to the wonderfully weird world of The Magic Eye Pictures.
Girl Worth Getting Out of Bed For is out on Friday, the 22nd May via Bradford based collective / record label ‘The Boy Who Left Home to Learn Fear’.
Reviewed by John Seales - 24th May
Do you like popcorn?
Hold that thought.
Although this is Badly Drawn Boy’s first album for several years, he is a well-known performer and let us be in no doubt here, this album will be a success.
The opening track, with the same title as the album, sets the tone for the whole album, with a slightly funky poppy, fun and frothy track.
As with all other tracks on the album – of which there are 14; track listing below – it is perfectly produced, the instrumentalisation is tight. Everything here is pleasurable to listen to and is totally inoffensive.
The vocals occasionally touch on sad or emotional themes (“I just Wanna Wish You Happiness” tells the story of a broken relationship, for examle) but the music toddles along at a steady 4 beats to the bar with no solos to speak of or significant instrumental surprises.
And here we get to the popcorn thing.
There is a place for popcorn in the total gastronomic landscape of our existence. It’s fun, unthreatening, you know what you’re going to get, but (OK, I dare say someone will contradict me here) you never go and tell anyone how amazing that popcorn was after eating a bucket full. You just pop in a piece, enjoy it and then pop in the next piece, instantly forgetting the one you’ve just eaten.
It’s the same with this album. Each track is enjoyable, inoffensive and unchallenging. If that’s what you’re after – maybe a backtrack to a party – then this may well be for you.
Don’t get me wrong, there is a place in the aural landscape for popcorn too, and Badly Drawn Boy has found a formula that works for him and I have to say good for him.
But if you are looking in your musical choices to find something that is going to move you emotionally, or take you to a musical experience filled with unexpected flavour and passion, then maybe this album may not be for you.
01. ‘Banana Skin Shoes’
02. ‘Is This A Dream?’
03. ‘I Just Wanna Wish You Happiness’
04. ‘I’m Not Sure What It Is’
05. ‘Tony Wilson Said’
06. ‘You And Me Against The World’
07. ‘I Need Someone To Trust’
08. ‘Note To Self’
10. ‘Funny Time Of Year’
11. ‘Fly On The Wall
12. ‘Never Change’
13. ‘Appletree Boulevard’
14. ‘I’ll Do My Best’
Reviewed by John Seales
Album released 30th Oct
I admit it. I had never heard of LEON before receiving this album to review. You may well have done, but if you are as ignorant as me, here’s the brief:
LEON is a Swedish songstress, real name Lotta Lindgren, who released her first album in 2019. She comes from a musical family, with her father being a conductor and her mother a cellist. She spent her youth singing in a choir, playing cello and joining bands.
Apart is her second album. Acoustic guitar and piano take instrumental centre stage across the album. LEON’s voice is a mid-range with hints of Adele, and has the current de rigeur modern inflections.
“Head And Heart On Fire” has a dreamy acoustic guitar gently leading us in to the album, whilst “And It Breaks My Heart” is much more rocky, with more percussion than is present on much of the rest of the album. Both tracks, as with the rest of the album, are assured and very competent.
But at this point one starts to wonder what LEON’s Unique Selling Point is – i.e. what makes her stand out from the crowd of solo songstresses with their tales of broken hearts, hope, despair and other emotions?
One gets the impression that LEON is not yet fully formed as an artist. Despite many of the tracks having some elements of personality, most of the songs here are a lowest-common-denominator 4 beats to the bar, and I would have hoped for more extensive variety and exploration, especially given the rich vein of musicality that clearly runs through her family.
A notable exception is “Tell Me” - 9th track in, we get 1 minute 27 seconds of choral beauty that stands out and makes you hit the replay button.
This shining light is brief but memorable.
Don’t get me wrong, this is in no way a bad album or even a mediocre one.
It is a very pleasant set of tracks to listen to, and makes great background accompaniment to everyday life, but there are elements here that make me feel that in the future we may look back on this album and think “Oh, yes, her early work showed great promise, but it wasn’t fully formed by then, was it?”