Reviewed by Liam McEvoy
Released 30th Oct
The Country rock singer songwriter Jim white released the follow up to his Critically acclaimed 2017 album ‘Waffles, Triangles and Jesus, ‘Misfits Jubilee’ on the 30th October 2020. The album sees White on fine form producing some fantastic country rock tracks that are sure to delight fans.
Misfits Jubilee starts strong with ‘Monkey in a Silo’, and opens with atmospheric echoing vocals accompanied by an offbeat melodic mix of acoustic guitar and what sounds like a Clavichord and Triangle. This gives the track a feeling that it is gearing up before it eventually settles down into a fantastic country track. The strong start to the album is continued with ‘Wonders Never Cease’ which with its strong beat and country guitars is sure to get feet tapping.
White then noticeably changes the tone of the album with ‘Where Would I Be’. The feel of the album very much takes on more of a rock and roll feel with the electric guitars and driving drums. The vocals sound as though they are coming through a megaphone which adds to the rock and roll feel.
‘Smart Ass Reply’ again has the same rock and roll feel with its guitars and solid drum beat, but does retain some of the country vibes from earlier in the album.
‘The Mystery of You’ reverts back to the Country sound from the beginning of the album and starts with a beautifully haunting sound, before morphing into a more classic country track.
‘Fighting With My Ghosts’ is another track that very much feels like a rock and role track. The opening of this track has a riff and vocals that are very reminiscent of Nirvana and is all the better for this.
Misfits Jubilee is out now and is a fantastic collection of country rock tracks that fans are sure to love. If you have not already checked this one out for yourself, then it’s you really should!
Monkey In A Silo
Wonders Never Cease
Sum Of What We've Been
Where Would I Be
Smart Ass Reply
The Mystery Of You
Highway Of Lost Hats
Fighting My Ghosts Again
My Life's A Stolen Picture
The Divided States Of America
Reviewed by John McEvoy
Released 6th Nov
Formed back in 2008, Ultraista are hardly a band you would call prolific. Taken from their second album released earlier this year (Sister), Ordinary Boy has been given the remix treatment.
Made up of 6 remixes, what is unusual in this case is that each of the mixes are sufficiently different to almost sound like a new album it its own right.
Indeed, the version I previewed came in at a mighty 33 minutes plus, which is often longer than a traditional album.
Different treatments of ‘Ordinary Boy’ are very much the theme of the day with the Floating Points version being my favourite with its dreamy almost trance like feel, which shifts into a full on ‘Faithless’ style dance work out. This is definitely 7mins and 33 seconds well spent as far as I’m concerned.
Further mixes from The Cinematic Orchestra, Zero 7 and others are included and are well worth investing some of your time and ‘hard earned’ on.
Available from 6th Nov, this outing from Ultraista just might help to make the next month of lockdown a little more bearable!!
Reviewed by Liam McEvoy
Album released 6th Nov
The UK Americana duo My Darling Clementine have just released their new Elvis Costello Covers album ‘Country Darkness’ today, 6th November 2020. The country/soul duo are joined for on this album by rock and roll hall of famer and Attractions and Imposters original Steve Nieve.
In anticipation of the release of the new album, the duo released a brand-new EP ‘Country Darkness Volume 3’ which was released on the 23rd October 2020.
‘Country Darkness Volume 3’ is a quality prequel to the main album selecting four tracks from the record all with a unique feel. Whether it be the slow country ballad that is ‘I’ll wear It Proudly’, the hoedown feel of ’The Crooked Line’ or the almost lullaby feel of ‘Indoor Fireworks’.
‘Country Darkness’ the album continues the variety with My Darling Clementine reimagining Elvis Costello’s tracks in very unique ways. The Album also spans across the entirety of Costello’s career from his work with ‘The Attractions’ with tracks like ‘Different Finger; and ‘Too Soon To Know’ with both the tracks given a fresh new feel by the country duo, with the latter given a beautifully lamenting sound. Costello's work with ‘The Imposters’ is also covered with album opener ‘Either Side of Town’.
There is also a selection of Costello's later solo and collaborative work with tracks such as ‘I Lost You’ which is given an upbeat county feel, which is at opposites with the lyrics of the track. Originally recorded with Grammy-winner Loretta Lynn ‘I Felt the Chill Before The Winter’ this track is a slow country drawl, and is yet another fine example of My Darling Clementine’s unique take on Costello’s work.
My Darling Clementine along with Steve Nieve have paid tribute to a legendary artist in Elvis Costello. ‘Country Darkness’ has delivered a wide range of his tracks, giving them a a fresh new feel. Released on the 6th November, this is an album that is a must for any fan of Elvis Costello, My Darling Clementine or country music in general.
1. Either Side of The Same Town
2. Lost You
3. I’ll Wear It proudly
4. Why Can’t A Man Stand Alone
5. The Crooked Line
6. Heart Shaped Bruise
7. That Day is Done
8. Different Finger
9. I Felt The Chill Before The Winter Came
10. Stranger In The House
11. Indoor Firework
12. Too Soon To Know
Reviewed by John McEvoy
Single released - 13th Nov
Liverpool based Pondarosa have their new single ‘Pondarosa’ out this Friday (13th Nov) and it’s a perfect slice of Indie Pop reminiscent of The Charlatans in their pomp.
A strong bass and drums provides the driving force, ably supported by rich multi layered vocals, all of which is overlaid with lead vocals from James Millington and there’s no escaping the distinctive Manc sound on this track.
All in all, this is single well worth checking out for yourselves, and we can look forward to further releases from a band who have a promising future.
James Millington - Vocals
Joe Anderson - Rhythm Guitar
Lawrence Aspin - Lead Guitar
Adam Ghidouche - Keys (formerly drums)
29th May - Arts Club, Liverpool (w/ The Cheap Thrills)
For more information:
Reviewed by Liam McEvoy
Album released 13th Nov
As Frank Turner announces on the opening track of the album, it has been ten years since the release of ‘Buddies’ the last collaboration between Turner and John Snodgrass.
Buddies 2: Still Buddies has the same feeling as the original album of two very talented musicians, and more importantly friends just having a great time chatting, shooting the breeze and occasionally recording a track or two.
To call the releases just an album would be too simplistic of a description for what this is. This part album part podcast opens with ‘Still Buddies’ a country rock track that documents what the collaborators of the original ‘Buddies’ album have been up to over the past ten years.
This then breaks down into Turner and Snodgrass ruminating on the fact that it has been ten years since the last album and admitting that given the original album much like the new release was written in one day not everything on the that album may not have been factually correct.
This leads seamlessly into the second track on the album ‘Retractions’. Another upbeat rock and roll track which comically apologises for the errors in the previous album and pre-emptively apologises for the errors in this new album whilst still insisting that “Chickens still have hair”.
The album/podcast continues in the same jovial manor with the subject of tracks varying wildly from the Shakespearian tragedy Macbeth in the ballad feeling Macbeth, to the difficulty of telling the age of a dog in the acoustic track ‘The Age Of A Dog’.
Each track on the album is interlaced with Turner and Snodgrass talking as friends do, which whilst this does give a slight insight into the tracks on the album, it more importantly invites you into the group and makes you feel at home with friends.
Buddies 2: Still Buddies is out this Friday 13th November 2020 and this album/podcast is sure to garner a similar cult following to the original album due to its fun and sometimes whimsical tracks.
A long time coming this is an album that will surely keep fans satisfied for the next ten years until the release of Buddies 3: Buddies at Sea.
1. Still Buddies
4. Stephen Plays The Drums
6. Bad Times Good Vibes
7. The Age Of A Dog
8. The Fleas
9. Hold Me Homie
10. The Earth Is Flat
GHXST have released their new 6 track EP 'Dark Days' EP on the 16th November.
The EP was written and recorded between New York and California and was mixed by long-time collaborator and UK producer James Aparicio (Nick Cave, Grinderman, Spiritualized).
Sonically, it’s an exercise in restraint and volume. GHXST say: "We built the beats to sound like an 808 booming out of a Cadillac window in Bed Stuy," the Brooklyn neighbourhood where they are normally based. Guitars range from intimate Mazzy Star acoustic tones to dreamy feedback. And through it all, hazy vocals from some nowhere highway. They add "We hope someone blows out a speaker playing this record".
The EP is named after James Baldwin’s book. "No one is free until everyone is free".
UR My Night
Reviewed by John McEvoy
EP released 20th Nov
London born rapper and DJ Shygirl (Blane Muise) has her new 7 track EP ‘Alias’ out this Friday 20th Nov and from opening track ‘Twelve’, its’ clear that this is someone who is set to make her mark in a in the busy grime/Hip Hop arena.
‘Tasty’ picks up the tempo with a early 90’s house vibe and is vaguely reminiscent of DJ Rob and EZ Base and also some tasty sub sonic beats thrown into the mix throughout.
Throughout this release her sexually liberated outlook on life is very much front and centre, and her ‘Shygirl’ tag is somewhat ironic when listening to this EP.
There is certainly enough on this release to suggest that Shygirl can be a standout artist within a busy genre of music, and this outing is in our opinion well worth investigating when released.
Produced by SOPHIE, Kai Whiston and Sega Bodega, the single is available now on all platforms, with the full EP being released on November 20th. "SLIME" comes alongside a lyric video starring Shy’s closest friends, including Sega Bodega, Arca, SOPHIE, Mowalola, Ms Carrie Stacks and more, available to watch now on YouTube.
Born from the ethos that people are never one-dimensional, the ALIAS EP serves as Shygirl’s origin story. Creatively split between four distinct aliases — overdriven elements of Shygirl’s personality that have taken on lives of their own — the project explores and embraces the traits within us all, toxic or otherwise.
Embodied in her latest single "SLIME", the track lyrically plays with a narrative flip between two energies as they enter the club — one the cocky misogynist the other being a boss bitch — the twist being they are one and the same. Inspired by the MySpace-era heyday of Cassie-style chart R&B, the track takes early-00s hip hop and twists it through the prism of deconstructed club music. Acting as a conductor for the track’s producers, Shygirl’s flow stitches together these powerful energies to create a Frankenstein’s monster.
The interplay of so many elements and personalities is a continuing theme across her new project which sees Shygirl delve deep into herself and amplify every trait, for better or worse. Each of the four alias characters will be introduced throughout October before they appear together in the "SLIME" video.
"SLIME" follows "FREAK" as the second single to be shared from Shygirl’s ALIAS EP. Delighting fans and media alike with its mind-bending production, the single drew praise from across the spectrum of music media, with Pitchfork declaring it is “meant for the type of foggy club space where everything blurs, and no one knows whose limbs are whose.”
Across the seven tracks on ALIAS, Shygirl’s curatorial flair is on display. With production from NUXXE co-founder Sega Bodega, SOPHIE and Kai Whiston, Shygirl’s natural predisposition to futuristic, genre-bending club sounds takes new life with the pop-ready sounds of Karma Kid and Oscar Scheller, and UK bassline influence of beatmaker Happa. The EP draws on Shygirl’s teenage diet of grime and UK rap, plus the genre-defining work of her cult club label NUXXE.
Reviewed By John Seales
DVD & Album released 20th Nov
Pink Floyd have been through many incarnations, with band members leaving and being replaced over the years. People like Roger Waters have branched out on their own, still playing under his own name much of the Pink Floyd music that he was instrumental in creating.
This particular incarnation of the band however includes Nick Mason (drums; original member of the band), David Gilmour (guitar/vocals; member since 1967) and Richard Wright (keyboards/vocals; original member who took time out then returned).
This selection of Pink Floyd tracks is from 5 concerts at New York which took place in August 1988, and have been extensively remixed/remastered.
The DVD is essentially a two- and a-bit hour record of the concert(s), with various visual perspectives used to good effect to provide some insights not only into the atmosphere of the gigs but also into how the band work together.
As you would expect from a headline act such as Pink Floyd, they are ably assisted by some very talented musicians to provide a very full sound for a live performance. There are, for example, two sets of percussion, two keyboard setups and two lead guitarists. A bassist, a (primarily) saxophonist and three backing vocalists also contribute to deliver an assured performance of tracks which are instantly recognisable, but which are allowed to have an element of departure from simply reproducing the studio sound as closely as possible.
Given the churn of band members over the years, it was touching to discover that the opening track is “Shine On You Crazy Diamond”, a tribute to one of Floyd’s founding members, the late Syd Barrett. And you can tell that the sizeable crowd is up for a good time – the very first note played by David Gilmour on his pretty little Fender Stratocaster raises a massive cheer, and the atmosphere comes across as well as can be hoped for 30 odd years later, in the comfort of your own living room.
The set list as provided on the DVD includes many of Pink Floyd’s better-known tracks as well as a smattering of tracks which may not be so well known to the wider public. See track listing below for details.
The fact that this is effectively a compilation of tracks over 5 separate gigs does raise one or two quirks, most noticeably for this reviewer being the number of different bass guitars which the bassist plays. I never noticed more than one per track, but this guy clearly loves collecting basses. (And why not). But it doesn’t distract from the enjoyment of the concert(s).
A good way of testing the quality of live recordings is by asking yourself “From what I’ve seen/heard, do I wish I’d been there?”. For this reviewer, the answer is an unequivocal yes.
If you missed it, or weren’t old enough/even born then, this is a good way to capture part of the magic.
1. Shine On You Crazy Diamond, Parts 1-5
2. Signs Of Life
3. Learning To Fly
5. The Dogs Of War
6. On The Turning Away
7. One Of These Days
9. On The Run
10. The Great Gig In The Sky
11. Wish You Were Here
12. Us And Them
14. Comfortably Numb
15. One Slip
16. Run Like Hell
1. Yet Another Movie
2. Round And Around
3. A New Machine Part 1
4. Terminal Frost
5. A New Machine Part 2
Review by John Seales
Album released 20th Nov
Hailing from America, J.E.Sunde is a singer/songwriter who is classically trained. “9 Songs About Love” is his first album since 2017’s “Now I Feel Adored”, and his influences include Leonard Cohen, Nina Simone and Paul Simon.
“Sunset Strip” introduces us to his style, and it is an easy listening 70’s vibe with (on this track and many of the others) dual tracked vocals. It’s unthreatening and pleasant.
“Love Makes A Fool Of Everyone” continues the theme, and by the time we get to the third track, “Love Gone To Seed” the dominant muddy bass guitar and the way that the tracks all sound like demos without the final professional production values is starting to grate. It really is like going back to the 1970s and putting on a cassette tape that has been played hundreds of times so that all the brightness has been sucked out of it.
But then “I Don’t Care To Dance” hits you. In marked contrast to the earlier tracks, this is a simple clearer Paul Simon like vocal and a gentle fingerpicked acoustic guitar that allows you to properly listen to some great lyrics –
“You rebuke the bullshit and the lies,
All those people who told me how to be a man,
Well I don’t want to follow them any longer,
So twirl me round the floor"
“Clover” is another track that makes you sit up and take notice – Sunde has put more into the music here, with changes of tempo and even a guitar solo to provide interest and as a result the track shows more promise and feels more complete.
And so, we consider the eternal question of pop music. Which should be dominant – the lyrics or the music? I’ll admit, there are rare artistes where the balance is perfectly struck and each complement the other perfectly, but in most cases one or the other is dominant, and in J.E Sunde’s case the lyrics are primary.
He seems to be a wordsmith putting poetry to music rather than a musician filling out his compositions with vocals. When the music is toned back so that the lyrics are allowed front of stage then this works (as in “I Don’t Care To Dance”), and when the music is given greater consideration, as in “Clover” then this works too, but for too much of the time the music appears to have become an afterthought, which is surprising given his classical training.
It’s a shame, really, as there are some lovely touches on this album, and I don’t think we should write him off, as with the right guiding hand I believe he could give us something special in the future.
1. Sunset Strip
2. Love Makes A Fool Of Everyone
3. Love Gone To Seed
4. I Don’t Care To Dance
5. We Live Each Other’s Dreams
7. Your Love leaves A Mark On Me
8. I Love You You’re My Friend
Review by Levi Tubman
Album released 20th Nov
The Torquay five-piece, Tourists combine elements of shoegaze and synth-pop with deeper-rooted post-punk influences, crafting their own identifiable brand of dark, melodic dream-pop, with an emphasis on dark.
Opening the album with ‘Silent Type’, you get a glimpse of what a record release by a 40-year-old Joy Division might sound like, if things had been different for Ian Curtis. Led by synths and drums, with vocals taking a back seat, lyrics such as, falling down the rabbit hole, can’t stand the crowds and spending a lot of time on his own, the band show you can open an album with a song about social anxiety and introversion.
After a minute-long soundscape intro, ‘Remains’ comes in like an early 90’s Britpop track, slow but more upbeat guitars bass and drums underpinning processed, melancholy vocals that at times feel almost separate to the song, on for only half of the tracks six and a half minutes, at times it feels instrumental.
‘Blindside’ is straight out of the 80’s, synth heavy, with electronic drums and reverb laden vocals. The bands take on love is sadly lost in places as the lyrics are often lost behind the effects and instruments.
Rounding off the album, ‘Another state’, is almost dreamlike, light guitars, slow heavily reverb vocals, its very relaxed and ambient, you’ve come through some dark sections, and this is the light at the end of the tunnel, feels almost personal and intimate.
You can hear a lot of 80’s and early 90’s influences throughout this album, from the electronic sounds of Joy Division and in parts Kraftwerk, through Stone roses and further into bands such as the Killers. The sound and style are spot on, it works well together, and the album is a good well thought out collection of songs. But at times you can’t help but feel the vocals get lost amongst the other instruments and effects.
Standout Tracks –
1 Silent type, the standout track for me, very stylized and clean it will get stuck in your head.
3 Remains, different to most of the album, its lighter groovier tone picks you up
11 – Another State, its like a pallet cleanser, calm and soothing and a nice book end to the sharper darker sounds of Silent Type.
1. Silent Type
6. Lego Man
8. Black Friday
10. Perception Management
11. Another State
Reviewed by John McEvoy
Album released 27th Nov
You just know that from the outset, any album which combines the talents of George Clinton, Lee Scratch Perry, Dennis Bovell, Charlotte Kelly from Soul II Soul and loads more artists is going to be special.
And this album is indeed VERY special…
Smudge All Stars is a kind of co-operative created by Richie Stevens who is a drummer in his own right, and the result of bringing a huge number of talented people together has resulted in a joyously funky workout that I can’t recommend highly enough. (Check the track list below for full list of guest artists)
The opening track ‘Brutal Funk’ sets the tone from the start, with the opening few bars of a harpsichord quickly giving way to a driving bass heavy funkadelic style groove, you just know this is going to be a great album.
The opening track is quickly followed by ‘Up Is Just A Place’ which features George Clinton in fine form, and new single ‘Freaky Toe’ features deft vocals from Charlotte Kelly and Mary Pearce, and again this has that distinctive sub bass sound that Snoop Dogg is so fond and can’t fail to get you moving.
George Clinton makes another appearance midway through this album on ‘Headache’ which at just over 6 minutes is the longest track on the album, a drum heavy driving track, interlaced with some nice funky guitar work and is just one of the many highlights of this album.
Two reggae giants in the shape of Lee Scratch Perry and Dennis Bovell are brought together on ‘Our Lives’ which is a glorious work out with the familiar dub bass feel running throughout. Earl Sixteens vocals sound as good as ever and of course there’s no mistaking the distinctive style of Lee Scratch Perry which interjects through the track, delivered in the unmistakeable style of Dennis Bovell.
‘Still Here’s features some great sax work from James Gardiner-Bateman and album closer ‘Discopia’ brings proceedings to a close with a nice slow funk workout featuring Charlotte Kelly, George Pantelonius and Camell Hines.
Let's be honest, 2020 has been a crappy year for all of us, and whilst this album can’t solve the worlds current woes, what it can and does do is deliver that much needed ‘feel good’ factor in lorryloads, and if it helps people to forget their woes for over 40 minutes, then that for me is good enough.
This, without a doubt is Wall of Sounds album of the week!!
1. Brutal Funk - Mary Pearce/DJ D-Zire
2. Up is Just a Place - George Clinton/Mary Pearce/MWS/Derek 'Dr Mouthquake Green/Omar
3. Freaky Toe - Charlotte Kelly
4. B Side - Mary Pearce/Derek 'Dr Mouthquake' Green/Fred Wesley
5. Star Killer - Victoria Hamilton
6. Heachache - George Clinton/Niara Scarlett
7. 2 Cold 2 Hold - MWS/Charlotte Kelly/Mitt Gamon
8. Our Lives - Earl 16, Lee 'Scratch' Perry/Dennis Bovell
9. Still Here - MWS/James Gardiner Bateman
10. Discopia - Charlotte Kelly/George Pantelonius/Camelle Hines
Reviewed by John McEvoy
Single released 27th Nov
Clearly Maya Lakhani is a very gifted rock musician having created ‘The Line’ during lockdown in her bedroom, with the result being a stylish piece of rock, complete with soaring guitar solo workouts and crashing drums, all overlaid with a strong and distinctive vocal delivery.
Is there enough in this outing to make it stand out in what is a packed musical market place?
We think so, and she will certainly be one to watch in 2021.
More about Maya Lakhani...
“The Line” is a song all about learning to set healthy boundaries and starting again, stronger and more confident than before. It was heavily inspired by 2020, which gave Maya a new perspective on life and pushed her to finally step over "the line" and pursue her solo career. It's a perfect opening statement track for Maya and a 2020 personal anthem.
The production of the song was a lockdown feat, with Maya writing, producing & recording all of the vocals and guitars in her bedroom, never leaving her house to create this record! She has also become the creative director of her brand, doing all her own photography & videography. The track was mixed remotely by Julian Simmons (credits include Ed Sheeran & Anne-Marie) and mastered by Beau Thomas of Ten Eight Seven Mastering (credits include Aphex Twin). Maya has also been mentored by Jessica Winter, an incredibly talented & accomplished solo artist who also writes and produces with Jazmin Bean.
Maya was born into the rock scene having cemented her love for it since playing in bands from age 12. With her most recent band, she played the likes of Rough Trade East curated by Dream Wife, the Isle of Wight Festival New Blood Competition national finals and headlined The Camden Assembly. With all of this valuable experience, she is now ready to debut as a solo artist.
Reviewed by John McEvoy
Single released 27th Nov
One of the many pleasures of running an online music site is that from time to time you come across a new artist (new to Wall of Sound at least!) that confirms that real talent is still out there just waiting to be discovered.
Liverpool born Bobby West is one such talent, and his latest offering ‘All My Years’ out on the 27th Nov is a real gem of a single, and one that I can’t recommend highly enough.
From the initial opening bars featuring Hammond organ, lush strings and a glockenspiel, it’s clear that this isn’t just any ordinary release, and as soon as Wests smoky blues vocal kick in you know that this is going to be a rather special 3:36 seconds.
With a vocal style reminiscent of Richard Hawley meets Tom Waits, ‘All My Years’ is a ballad that demands to be listened to, and with the added bonus of shimmering guitars throughout, this is without doubt, a truly fine single release.
Hopefully an album and tour (Covid permitting) won’t be too far away!
More about Bobby West
A native of North Liverpool, Bobby West grew up in the suburb of Anfield. His first foray into music came by forming the band Broken Men, a following grew quickly leading to tours of England and Russia, and later Europe, supporting Echo and The Bunnymen.
West now embarks on his debut solo project. His meticulously crafted songs paint authentic depictions of his world; a dark gritty world he ruthlessly laments, yet like a man in the gutter reaching for the stars Bobby gilds the edges of his reality, creating something truly beautiful.
‘All My Years’ was formed after his writing partner showed him a rough demo consisting of just some chords on a Hammond organ with a glockenspiel melody over the top, and has gone on to become the template for everything he and his band have come to create.
“My initial thoughts were that it sounded like a lullaby, and that it would fit with a poem I had recently written for my girlfriend (apologising to her for being a miserable git).
It was one of the earliest ideas we actualised in this project, so it has been central to creating the sound of everything else we’ve done since.”, he explains.
Bobby’s lens is tinted with a sun-drenched glow, a stark contrast to his surroundings; a paradox that echoes in his music. He sings of terrible things in beautiful melodies. Like a council estate Sinatra, his golden vocals self-deprecate in alluring harmony. There is a rare authenticity within West’s nouveau croon.
He howls gritty lullabies over his collection of crooked ballads, inviting the listener into his world. At a glance West's world is one of beauty, shimmering guitars and resonant pianos, but in Lynchian fashion he strips away the veneer to reveal twisted tales of spent love, bad romances and the pitfalls of modern culture.
Reviewed by John Seales
EP released 27th Nov
This is the debut EP from Jelena Ciric, a singer-songwriter who was born in Serbia, raised in Canada, studied music in Spain and spent 2 years in Mexico before settling in Iceland. From someone who has seen so much of the world, one would hope that they can convert their experience into some good and meaningful music.
The first track, “Lines”, opens with a laid back and spacious piano, played with a loving touch, building instrumentally whilst her voice, which is clear and bell-like, effortlessly delivers some considered and thoughtful lyrics. There are definite touches of Joni Mitchell here, but with more of an ethereal glow about the whole piece.
Piano, accordion, bass and viola are most noticeable instrumentally, with minimal percussion – there is no need to drive these songs along with a heavy beat; they simply envelop you with their thoughtfulness and textures.
“In Time” continues the intimate feel that pervades the whole of the EP, with some delicious multi tracked self-harmonising and gentle piano that softly wraps itself around you, and takes you to a contented place. Again, the lyrics are a long way from the predictable themes that pervade much of popular music and deserve consideration from the listener.
“Concrete” then gives us a marked contrast in mood, with a serious point to be made through her lyrics, but it is deftly handled by clever production and a gentle playfulness.
“Loughbreeze” takes us back to a calmer and more laid back vibe and ends this EP far too soon for this reviewer, who wants to hear more.
So far as trying to pigeonhole her music into a short phrase, I’ll try with “laid-back folk”, but that really doesn’t do it justice. This is an artist who is naturally talented and is not afraid to plough her own furrow, which is to be highly applauded based on this debut release.
2. In Time
Music is the raft that carries Jelena Ćirić on the shifting currents of home and identity. The long-lost child of Regina Spektor and Joni Mitchell, her expressive voice and delicate piano highlight lyrics delving into what it might feel like to belong.
Debut EP ‘Shelters One’ is an intimate collection of 4 songs, each its own musical “shelter” carefully crafted as a temporary haven for processing emotion. The piano-led pop songs are imbued with a warm, folky sound thanks to accompanying accordion and viola. Thoughtful and spacious arrangements put Jelena’s ethereal vocals and storytelling prowess centre stage.
“If emotions were gems, these songs would be an attempt to pick them up carefully and turn them until they refract the light,” says Jelena..
The first single, ‘Lines’ seeks answers to big questions in the most unlikely places. Jelena calls ‘In Time’ a mantra that love can triumph over distance. Next up is ‘Concrete’ – a tongue-in-cheek (but very serious) response to the common refrain of “get a real job” that all artists are familiar with. Finally, the EP closes with ‘Loughbreeze’, inspired by the shores of Lake Ontario, Canada. “It’s about letting go of the expectations of others in order to reconnect with the essential things,” says Jelena.
Born in Serbia and raised in Canada, Jelena was nourished by the rich melodies of her homeland and bewitched by the song writing tradition of her adopted home. After studying music in Spain and a couple years in Mexico, she settled in Iceland, where she found a supportive musical community more focused on creating than labelling itself. Influenced by artists like Laura Marling and fellow Icelander Emiliana Torrini - Jelena Ciric’s songs light bright as a match and burn slow as a candle.
Reviewed by Liam McEvoy
Album Released 27th Nov
Miko & The Mellotronics have their debut album ½ Dove, ½ Pigeon set for release this Friday 27thNovember 2020. This is an album full of storming rock and roll riffs, but with enough variety to keep all fans happy, and proves to be a brilliant debut album from this band.
Opening with ‘Noisy Neighbours’ this track kicks the album off in sensational style, with a cacophony of electric guitars and a solid drumbeats.
‘Psychedelic Shirt’ and ‘The Finger’ continue the record with the same intensity with the former aptly named as it introduces psychedelic synth sounds, and the latter continuing the storming rock and roll of the previous two tracks.
The pace of this release is relentless from start to finish, though there is ample variety to keep all fans happy. ‘Imelda’ has an almost punk sound with its wailing guitars and thumping drum beat. ‘You Killed My Father’ is a much more acoustic track, although with the same intensity as the opening tracks.
‘The Fear’ introduces a very different sound as this has a muted Ska feel and introduces a brass section that gives this track among all the others a most unique feel.
Miko & The Mellotronics have produced a storming album full of rock and roll riffs that have enough variety to keep all fans satisfied. If you haven't already, mark your calendar for the 27th as ½ Dove, ½ Pigeon is an album not to be missed.
1. Noisy Neighbours
2. Psychedelic Shirt
3. The Finger
4. You Killed My Father
6. Sick & Tired
7. The Fear
8. Good Friend
9. The Now
10. Halcyon Days
Reviewed by Liam McEvoy
EP released - 1st Dec
Skates and Wagons released their debut EP, #EP on the 1st December 2020 and it is reminiscent of a rock and roll era of days past but with a fresh new feel that brings the sound right up to date.
Opening track ‘Just Because You Can (Doesn’t Mean You Should)’ is a storming anthem that feels both nostalgic and on the cutting edge all at once. ‘Spin My Wheels’ again has a classic rock feel but has an overarching eerie feel that to it that again gives a classic sound a fresh new spin.
The final two tracks on #EP are both pushing the seven minutes mark in length. ‘Tender (Is The Night)’ is a slightly slower love ballad, and ‘Law As I Am True’ rounds off the EP in storming fashion with a truly anthemic fell making this a track one that is sure to sound incredible live.
#EP is Skates and Wagons first studio recording which has been nine years in the making and is a fantastic debut. Having recorded a further 10 or 15 tracks during the same session Skates and Wagons debut album is scheduled for release next year and #EP is a brilliant precursor to the full album.
1. Just Because You Can (Doesn't Mean That You Should)
2. Spin My Wheels
3. Tender (Is The Night)
4. Law As I Am True
Review by Levi Tubman
Album released 4th Dec
Hello Cosmos, a Manchester 4 piece, are described as a psych/dance/punk creative collective and with a mix of drums bass guitar strings synths and effects, the description fits!
Album opener ‘Fuse’ starts with a 90’s grunge distorted bass riff overlaid with lyrics that are more spoken poetry spat out with energy and speed than sung. It’s an explosion of sound and energy that sets the tone for the whole album letting you know the band is here!
Taking the volume down a notch is ‘Raise The Dawn’, brighter and fresher, it brings the slower vocals up in the mix against the faster guitar and drum led track, underpinned with strings and synths, it’s a funky little beat that’s going to get stuck in your head.
‘Frequency Fields’ is a widely spaced dreamlike song, with an essence harking back to the 90’s Manchester indie scene surrounded with reverb laden backing vocals, it’s a lot less funky than most of the album, a beautiful piece that shows another side to the band and their skills.
Right at the end of the album is an acoustic bonus track, ‘Down The Line’, stripped back and bare, acoustic guitar, viola and vocals, so incomparable to the 10 songs before it, gone is the funk and electronics, just the music, letting the instruments and song writing stand on their own, before it gets the Hello Cosmos treatment.
This is an album which is alive, with an energetic sound bringing a funky electronic twist to the Manchester sound, with a vocal style reminiscent of John Cooper Clarke. With bass and guitars borrowed from 90’s grunge, across tight well written songs from start to finish, after listening to this I guarantee you’ll need to see this band live.
Standout tracks :
01-Fuse. This is how you start an album, solid wall of sound that tells you exactly what to expect over the next 11 songs, and my favourite of the album.
8- Let love be the island upon which we stand. I had to listen to it a few times to hear it all, it manages to be complex and simple at the same time.
11-Down the line, I loved hearing them stripped back, getting to hear a different side and sound to the band.
2. tonight, tonight, tonight, tonight
3. raise the dawn
4. frequency fields
5. the cosmic trigger
6. step out of the shadows
7. run for president
8. let love be the island upon which we stand
9. dream harder
10. renegade love
11. Down the line
Review by Simon Jolley
EP released 11th Dec
They say it’s grim up north, but that didn’t stop Dirty Freud escaping London, relocating to Sheffield and finding success as one of Electronica’s best kept secrets. Dubbed ‘the unruly prince of Electronica’ by Mix Mag, Dirty Freud has become one of techno’s unsung heroes, working behind the scenes with a range of high-profile artist including The Prodigy, Iggy Pop and Big Narstie.
His latest four track EP, ‘Love in the Backwater’, will be his first release with Modern Sky UK and owes an equal debt to Dub-Step, Electronica, Rave and club culture. Its essence reflects its genesis, being recorded partly in Europe’s techno capital, Berlin, and its clubland sister, Manchester, before being completed in the isolation of lockdown.
All tracks were penned by Dirty Freud and co-produced with long term collaborator, Ruby Tingle. Guest vocals are beautifully delivered by Szou, providing operatic, yet soulful, counterpoint to Dirty Freud’s masterful original channelling of clubland’s driving, hypnotic, techno rhythm.
‘Blood Bayou’ opens the EP reflectively. A longing whistle is joined by swelling strings, before we are gripped with a driving, bouncing, rhythmic statement of intent. Szou’s vocals enter and are hauntingly beautiful, lifting and soaring above an industrial techno landscape. Sounds layer and re-layer, countering the sense of longing carried lyrically.
‘Intentions’ is, for me, the standout track of the release. Szou’s voice is given centre stage as subtle syncopated techno rhythms provide a solid platform for her soulful declarations of lessons learned and blessings counted.
A percussive motif leads us gently into ‘Love in the Backwater’, before we are joined by a subtle background hint of clubland techno classic orchestration. Szou’s gentle vocal enters and percussion layers before hi hats provide a cohesive sonic centre to the ebb and flow of the production.
For a clubland generation who currently find themselves in the restraints of lockdown, ‘Moments’ will evoke the most nostalgic response of the EP. A haunting whisper declares ‘wait’, before familiar hard-edged techno syncopations announce a driving, dance floor filler, for the isolating raver.
As clubbers and techno fans await the normalcy of club nights and raves to return, Dirty Freud has produced an EP that both conjures longing and provides hope to the once clubland, now lockdown, generation.
· Blood Bayou
· Intentions feat Szou
· Love In The Backwater
Album reviewed by John Seales
Released on 11th Dec
Heard of Billie Holiday?
Why do I ask that? Well, this is a collection of songs originally recorded by Billie Holiday.
For those who may not know, Billie Holiday was one of the superstar vocalists of her era (1930’s to 1950’s) who had a very distinctive sandpaper velvet voice. Regrettably, she fitted too well into the “flawed genius” mould and died, swindled out of all her fortune, from drug and alcohol abuse at the age of 44.
M. Ward, who is a singer/songwriter/guitarist from Oregon, and has had varied outputs, including from a band called “Monsters Of Folk”, has put together this tribute to her work. It’s been recorded on a four track analogue recorder, and comprises of M.Ward on vocals and on acoustic guitar.
On first listen, it is clear that this is indeed a tribute to Holiday rather than an attempt to copy her.
Ward’s voice, enhanced with a touch of reverb, sounds nothing like Holiday, but once this is understood, his voice grows on you as it is indeed pleasant and mellow.
Clearly the big band that would have accompanied Holiday in her time is also absent here, but the high-class musicianship is certainly present. This guy can play guitar. Not in a guitar shredding superfast lick sort of way, but in a thoughtful and gentle, yet highly accomplished, understated way. You can feel him caress the music from it.
Each of the tracks stand well in their own right. The style is consistent throughout, with no major changes to tempo, instrumentals or vocals. Normally this is something I’d complain about, wanting to hear more of what the artist has to offer and to prevent boredom, but in this case the cosy feel of the album just seeps into you and any major departure would be jarring.
The production is good. Although simple equipment has been used, Ward has used minimal voice or instrument multitrack, so has kept well within the capabilities of the recording equipment, and accordingly the final mix is clear and precise.
Taken as a whole, this is a wonderful tribute to Holiday’s songs. Laid back and full of warmth, snuggle up with it on a cold winter’s day in a cosy room with someone you love, and a mug of hot chocolate.
1. I Get Along Without You Very Well
2. For Heaven’s Sake
3. It’s Easy To Remember
4. You’ve Changed
5. Violets For Your Furs
6. For All We Know
7. But Beautiful
8. All The Way
9. I’m A Fool To Want You
10. I’ll Be Around
11. You Don’t Know What Love Is
Reviewed by Levi Tubman
Album released 11th Dec
You’d be forgiven for thinking this album title rings a bell but you just can’t quite place it, or thought that the group had disbanded because this is a re-release of the band’s first 2 albums. ‘Racecar is Racecar Backwards’ and ‘Very Fast Very Dangerous' is one double album, with both of them in their entirety and original running order.
Opening with the first track off Racecar is Racecar backwards, No one wins the war’, is definitely a product of the early 2000’s, with low distorted drop tuned guitars interspersed with high pitched unmelodic chords, with vocals going from clean and calm to all on screaming. It’s a juxtaposed semi-pop hardcore explosive introduction letting the listener know what they’re in for over the next 28 tracks
‘Oh the shame’ is a lot more melodic and catchy, leaning more towards the pop punk end of their spectrum, a more stripped back and simple song, it still retains a lot of their style and influences, with a reminiscent Jamie Lenman on vocals that are clean pretty much throughout, all in all a neat compact 2 minute package
The band have some big sounding songs, songs that should be listened out loud, preferably being played live by the band on stage. ‘Moving to Blackwater’ starts off with drums bass and vocals, but when the guitars come in with open wide chords, retaining the power of the heavy dirty sound and power they’ve built the album on, and ending with layers of backing vocals and strings this has to be a fan favourite live
‘A kick in the mouth’ is the opening track of ‘Very fast very dangerous’ with a distinct improvement in production, every aspect is brighter and clearer, enabling the listener to hear the instruments and extra backing vocals, and more importantly how this band have grown in just a single year.
'Some mothers do ‘Ave ‘Em’ would never sit on ‘Racecar is Racecar backwards’, it still has the bands distinctive sound, the drums are punchier, less delicate, faster paced and heavier than their debut album. It still manages to retain a catchy pop edge with more clean vocals, either through direct choice or more confidence in Jamie’s vocals.
‘Nobody loves you’ really stands out on the album by being the most reserved. Soft delicate vocals with only slightly distorted guitars. With gentle bass and drums being joined by gorgeous strings and piano. At times the song picks up the volume, especially with some vocal parts requiring more volume and power, it shows that they aren’t just a drop tuned one trick pony, but are capable of producing a delicate and stunning piece of art.
To remind you what the band are really about ‘Blamethrower’ starts as one of the faster more brutal tracks. Vocals shouted almost spat out, fast paced drums and staccato guitars, with spoken word sections backed up with Jon Pearce on Bass. Unfortunately one of the few times on this record where he gets the chance to stand out, it relaunches the album after the quiet break so you can’t get too comfortable.
Despite being different beasts, the 2 albums still work well together and still hold up today. Yes, in places they are slightly dated, but only because it’s a style that isn’t as popular anymore. The song writing and playing however still holds up today. There are a number of break songs, just enough so that you don’t think that they sound too similar.
Coming out back when bands like ‘A Day To Remember’ were taking off, I fail to see how they never reached the same levels, maybe it was because they were not as heavy, but they certainly had the talent and songs to do it.
It’s a very nostalgic album, even if you didn’t listen to them the first time round the style can still bring back memories. This comes as either a double CD or Vinyl album, it works if you’re new to their music, or a fan who wants it as a collector’s piece, either way it comes highly recommended from me!
01- ‘No one wins the war’ - Fresh and energetic, a great introduction to the band.
22 – ‘Nobody loves you’ - My personal standout track, it’s just so different from the rest of their work, showing what else the band can do.
28-‘Return of the Jedi’ - The band at their heaviest, they manage to bring back strings to a more delicate ending, blending both parts together really well.
1.No One Wins The War
3.Stuck In My Throat
4.Oh The Shame
5.Fall Of The Bastille
7.Tonight My Wife Is Your Wife
8.Eating Only Apples
10.Let's Stop Hanging Out
12.Song For Saturday
13.Moving To Blackwater
14.Wrong And Sorry
15.Parties Break Hearts
17.A Kick In The Mouth
18.Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em
20.It's All About Control
21.Every Time A Teenager Listens To Drum & Bass A Rock Star Dies
22.Nobody Loves You
24.Keep It To Yourself
26.Alpha Signal Three
28.Return Of The Jedi