Reviewed by Levy Tubman
Album released 12th March
Although bringing in local musicians for some parts, Israel recorded the majority of the album himself, in his home self-built studio, it’s hard to imagine this album recorded anywhere but a tin roofed studio in Texas.
The wide slow rolling introspective opener Dividing lines has a few sharper edged where the guitar and snare push through, but most of the track is framed with reverb rich backing vocals and slide guitar. It’s dreamlike and spacey, and while well crafted, as the song builds, the vocals are sadly buried under the musical onslaught.
This isn’t an album you can easily pin down to a specific genre, Nash plays around with a few throughout, seeming to borrow influences wherever he needs to help move a track along. Down in the country is a bluesy country song at heart, with sombre lyrics reflecting the plight of everyday Americans affected by the country’s current economic troubles. But coupled with jazz and funk elements and bright brass and guitars, you could separate the parts into different songs but he manages to blend them into one.
Canyonheart, coming in with slide guitar, organ and harmonica wouldn’t feel out of place on a Bob Dylan record, its early 70’s feel really captures the essence of the album. This love song is relaxed and un-complicated, and really lends itself to Nash’s wonderful vocal tone especially on emphasised lines like “My heart is a canyon” despite its energy it remains quite calm and relaxed.
Sutherland Springs is named for the church of the same name, not far from Nash’s hometown where 27 people where shot and killed. Musically It feels slightly different to the rest of the album, more sombre but upbeat against the lyrics and subject manner.
Often speaking out about gun reform in interviews and lyrics which he uses to show his pain, reflecting the morning service that was attacked, “Sunday morning won’t be the same” and how it was felt not only in the surrounding small communities, but across the whole of the county. “Summer in Texas, you’re on my mind, your heart is aching, and so is mine” even expressing himself with the instrumental outro distorting the once calm gentle instruments.
I thought I might nail a genre by the end of the album, but it never settles, it can’t hide from its Texan country roots, and at its heart it’s country, but it can feel like as folky as Dylan at his best and the grungy outspoken sound of Neil Young. The mix of sounds and styles are well written and gel together through out the album, but unfortunately at times in his quest to fill each song with as many instruments as possible, it can be a little overpowering drowning out the vocals and making them muddy. While more of a criticism of the production, it sadly pulls the album down a little, which is a shame considering the quality of Nash’s lyrics and vocals.
However, don’t let that put you off…
I didn’t get it after the first couple of songs, but after giving it a full proper listen, I re-wrote the first paragraph and despite a few issues, it’s still a beautifully crafted piece and will definitely find a place in my collection.
1. Dividing Lines
3. Down in the country
4. Southern coasts
6. Canyon heart
8. Howling wind
9. Sutherland Springs
Reviewed by Liam McEvoy
Album released 5th March
The Canadian guitarist and song writer Ariel Posen released his new album Headway on the 5th March 2021. With his newest album Posen has produced a masterful work that takes influence from a wide range of genres from rock and roll to soul and R&B. The mixture of genres makes for an album that it a great laid-back listen.
Having such a mixture of influences means that the album is one that is a fantastic blend of sounds. Whether it be the outright rock and roll of album opener ‘Heart By Heart’ or the smooth R&B opening of the following track ‘Coming Back’ which then melds into a wailing guitar solo, these are two genres that open the album in fantastic fashion.
The influences however do not stop there. ‘Carry Me Home’ is a dreamy Americana track that has a relaxed laid-back vibe to it. ‘Did You See It Coming’ is a blues flecked track that breaks out in parts into slide guitar solos. ‘It’s You’ is a mellow singer song writer track that again shows Posen’s versatility. ‘I’ll be finding You’ shows yet another side to Posen’s talents with its off beat electric guitar giving the track a light reggae feel.
With ‘Headway’ Ariel Posen has delivered a versatile album that draws inspiration from a vast array of styles, and Posen is able to masterfully blend these styles together, and as a result he’s produced a fantastic laidback album that is a delight to listen to.
1. Heart By Heart
2. Coming Back
3. Carry Me Home
4. Nobody Else
5. Did You See It Coming
6. What Are We Doing Here
7. Big Picture
8. It’s You
9. I’ll Be Finding You
10. I’m Gone
11. Sometimes You Lie
12. Now I See
Reviewed by Stuart Clarkson
Album released 12th March
Judging by this album the mosh pit at the first Pet Needs post lockdown gig this year will be a great place to be.
The album bristles with pent up energy passion and attitude that demands to be heard.
Founded in Colchester by brothers Johnny and George Marriott, the band are loud, ballsy and in your face fusing punk and indie rock.
Frank Turner hailed them as the top find at the 2019 Camden Rocks Festival and he can be found here taking care of production duties after mixing and mastering the album.
Opener Outline sets the scene with frenetic screaming lyrics and a pumping beat that give way to a brief melodic section. The scene is nicely set.
Interesting song titles such as Tracey Emin’s Bed and You Look Like You’ve Never Bought A Scratchcard arouse curiosity. The former featuring driving guitars is set to be a live singalong anthem with it’s chorus of It’s like Tracey Emin’s bed in my head, kind of creative but mainly just a mess’. The latter a folk punk romp bursting with swagger.
Elsewhere Overcompensating, my personal favourite is a guitar driven ride with a triumphant crowd-pleasing chorus at heart before heading off into heavy oblivion only to return with that infectious chorus.
Sympathetic Accent Syndrome is set to be another live favourite and continues to cement the idea that Mr Turner’s time here has been well spent.
Toothpaste begins with some neat guitar riffing before building to a fist pumping defiant chorus.
As The Spin Cycle Span provides a slower reflective mood change to proceedings although Pavlovian soon picks up the pace again with its heavy riff.
If you like your rock shouty and punky with a bit of social commentary thrown in for good measure, then this will be right up your street.
Tracey Emins Bed
As The Spin Cycle Span
You Look Like You Never Bought A Scratch-card
Reviewed by John McEvoy
Single released 12th March
Written in the summer of 2020, in the midst of the covid pandemic, it’s about missing friends and longing for life to get back to ‘normal’. Sentiments I think we can all empathise with at the moment!
Even though the lyrics are about a very modern phenomenon, from its opening wonky synth sound, (reminiscent of ‘Fascist Groove’ from Heaven 17), this track has the feel of a sophisticated slice of 80’s electro pop, delicately overlaid with honeyed soulful vocals from Szou.
It’s easy to see why her style has been compared to Sigrid, but in this reviewers opinion, it has to be said that this release is without doubt strong enough to stand on its own merits, and is a quality release within what is regarded as a busy musical genre, and deserves to do well.
This is without doubt a promising debut single for both artist and record label, and based on what I’ve heard so far, the future for both Szou and the No Such Thing label looks very rosy indeed.
Review by John Seales
Album released 19th March
This is a reissue of an album originally released in 1992 by Deniz Tek, of Radio Birdman. Tek is known for his guitar playing ability, and this album clearly demonstrates this to good effect.
“Run Out Of Water” opens the album with a fast paced toe tapper. Tek’s drawling vocals are clearly present, but it’s the guitar(s) that take front of stage here. Bass and drums back things up, but it’s an old skool (well, it was released originally in 1992) rhythm guitar and lead guitar that predominate.
But this is how it was back in the day. Although electro pop had definitely started to take over, plenty of artists were still basing their act around the almost ubiquitous vocal/guitar(s) bass/drums set up.
As the album progresses there are varying tempos, though mostly it’s fast paced, and all of it is 4 beats to the bar. Guitar solos are also given much opportunity for expression and Tek shows his control of his chosen instrument with great aplomb.
In this veritable sea of guitars, one occasionally hears some keyboard or an odd (aren’t they all?) sax, but guitar is king. The unashamed guitar fest continues and does not let up until the last note of the catchy-riffed “Press On” fades away.
As a result, it’s difficult to say much about each of the tracks, as the basic formula pervades, though with relatively minor tweaks. For non-rockers or non-guitar freaks, this may become a trifle wearisome, but for those who like this kind of music, there is real skill and energy on display.
There is a strong feeling of both pure rock and mature punk in here, some tracks being Boomtown Rats-esque, but it’s clear that Tek’s influences range well beyond this, with occasional nods to 50’s rock and roll, as well as an odd Bob Dylan twang to the vocals.
For an affirmed rocker or the guitar freak, this is a great album to add to your collection. Although definitely of its time, it stands well on its own.
Overall, a great dip back into the past; nostalgic guitar brilliance.
1) Run Out Of Water
2) Don’t Axe Me
3) Steel Beach
4) Where Dreams Go
5) Me & Gene
6) Dead If Looks Could Kill
7) Is It Good Enough
8) Torpedo Woman
9) Those Times Are Gone
10) Ships In
11) Press On
Reviewed by Simon Jolley
Album released 19th March
Written between bouts of touring in 2019, Written & Directed is Black Honey’s second album and sees the dynamic Brighton four-piece return to build on their reputation as bad-ass progenitors of guitar led cinematic rock.
I Like the Way You Die’s pomp and simplicity lifts the curtain with thumping, Bo Didley syncopated guitar, tambourine and a steady pulsating bass drum laying a calm foundation for Izzy B Phillips’ slightly distorted vocals, before serrated guitars perfectly frame the driving chorus.
Like a Tarantino movie, Written and Directed subtly acknowledges its heroes and influences in plain sight, with a show reel of cameo moments to inspire a wry smile in those paying attention.
Run For Cover’s guitar tips a hat to Duanne Eddy, while Beaches’ fifties hand jive beat and bridge wink briefly to Shirley Ellis' The Clapping Song, before subverting with a hedonistic tale of sexual awakening. Fire’s slide bass briefly reimagines the iconic Lou Reed’s Walk on the Wild Side and underpins Izzy B’s powerful message of strength and hope.
Back of the Bar is a bittersweet moment of indie pop longing, making full use of Izzy B Phillips’ ability to lend her voice the appropriate weight to evoke the lyrical solitude of the song.
The cameras stop rolling on Written and Directed with the beautifully realised acoustic, Gabrielle. This haunting tale of a love stolen is rendered soul-stirring with Spanish guitar, whispered vocals and a subtle moment of gentle percussion.
Written and Directed moves through its musical journey with a cinematic wonder that is refreshingly modern and assured. Nods to rap, pop, and rock all pivot around a central character that is strong, feminine and candidly honest.
As the final scene of Written and Directed fades to black, we pause, take a breathless moment to reflect on our heroes beating adversity, before hitting play again and hoping for a sequel.
Reviewed by Levi Tubman
Album released 19th March
Eight stone tall and handsome opens the album loud and proud, a tale of debauchery with the lines “crawling from the underpass I spat breath from between my teeth I know my nose is broken” through “10 pound prostitute she hitches her skirt over her fat white arse and says do you think my face is cute” its dark and sleazy tones are not dampened by fuzzy distorted guitars and piano, with a blinding solo backed by strings that could be from a James Bond intro, its thick heavy and gorgeous!
Radio friendly death is a vocal delight! Showing off Kane’s vocals at their best, sounding like a grungy David Bowie, its full of power and passion, surrounded almost throughout by backing vocals, to the point they almost take over the song with some stunning penetrating harmonies. With the albums signature sound of thick driving bass, sharp piano and drums, it’s full but manages to keep clear and clean letting you hear every part.
Keeping the album fresh in the middle, things start to change, fuck off Mr Chips and Willow on the Hill, where Kane decides smoothly goes from Freak out to Lounge Prince, very different styles, but still from the same mould. They slot into place nicely here, completely different vocal sounds, but his lyrical style carries throughout.
Nice to see an artist showing their talent in different ways without jarring from the rest of the material.
The slower lounge/jazz feel continues throughout the album, culminating with the final track The death of a librarian. Here it’s all stripped back. Gone are they layers of atmospheric backing vocals, there’s no bass to drive it along with screaming guitar. But he does slip in a trumpet solo, with strings lead vocal and piano. It’s a nice reflective end to the album, and loses the volume and speed of the earlier tracks, delicate, almost fragile in places, but the passion and energy in his voice still shines through.
There are no 2 tracks on the album where Kanes voice sounds the same. He has such tonal range you could be forgiven for thinking the album has a few different lead singers, but while often different, its always stunning.
Every note is clear, and sounds raw when needed, but just as easily restrained. He’s a story teller, and it’s a lyrically led album, giving him the freedom to use varying musical styles to help frame his words.
This has to be up there with the top albums of this year!...
· 1. Eight Stone Tall and Handsome
· 2. Here Comes An Avalanche
· 3. Official Secrets
· 4. Radio Friendly Death
· 5. Fuck Off Mr Chips
· 6. Willow On The Hill
· 7. The Eternity of Small Things
· 8. Hurricane Of Maggots
· 9. Seven Different Versions of the Abyss
· 10. Full Pack of Smokes
· 11. The Death Of A Librarian
Reviewed by Stuart Clarkson
Album released 26th March
Raise a toast to St Joe Strummer sang The Hold Steady in their song Constructive Summer and he remains an iconic figure and an inspiration to generations of music fans.
This 16-track compilation album provides a welcome retrospective of his solo career and includes an eclectic mix of reggae, funk punk rock and country. The former frontman of The Clash passed away tragically early in 2002 following a heart attack and the world lost one of its great rock stars.
His work with The Clash has gone down as some of the most important and loved work in the history of music. This compilation shines a light on his solo work and provides the perfect starting point to those who may be unfamiliar with his post Clash output.
However it also contains essential material for completists in the form of previously unreleased versions of Clash classics I Fought The Law and Rudie Can’t Fail. Both songs are taken from Joe Srummer & The Mescaleros 2001 performance at the Brixton Academy.
In addition the album includes a never before heard acoustic version of Junco Partner which was originally featured on The Clash’s Sandinista! album. The initial chords and Joe’s familiar throaty vocals on opener Coma Girl instantly let you know that you’re amongst friends. This song along with Johnny Appleseed provide a stellar start to the album and sound as good as the day they were released.
The track Tony Adams reprises the vibe of The Clash’s Magnificent Seven and Chelsea fan Strummer penned the song after the former Arsenal defender’s autobiography Addicted struck a chord with him.
Mondo Bongo and Sleepwalk lend a relaxed calypso feel to proceedings whilst Redemption Song is a stripped-down cover of the Bob Marley classic. The compilation has been expertly curated to provide a showcase of the artist’s work and is complimented by exclusive sleeve notes from Strummer fan Jakob Dylan.
This is a great album and highly recommended to both existing fans and newcomers alike.
I Fought The Law (Live at Brixton Academy, London, 24 November 2001)
Get Down Moses
Rudie Can’t Fail (Live at Brixton Academy, London, 24 November 2001)
At The Border, Guy
Junco Partner (Acoustic)
Reviewed by Simon Jolley
Album released 26th March
With a line-up that includes Miles Kane (The Last Shadow Puppets), Nic Cester (Jet), Graham Coxon (Blur), Jamie Davis, Matt Bellamy (Muse) and Sean Payne (The Zutons), it would be correct to describe The Jaded Hearts Club as something of a super group. And, with a set list that delivers the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Who and The Sonics, it would also be correct to acknowledge them as a covers band; possibly the best covers band you are ever likely to see or hear.
They are a supergroup covers band, is what I’m saying. And none the worse for that.
Live at the 100 Club captures the Heart’s first ever live London performance and was in memory of Jamie Davis' late father. Unsurprisingly the gig was a sell-out. Unsurprisingly the gig sounds epic.
After the initial enthusiastic crowd reaction fades into the background, the set begins with a raucous and frenetic version of Them’s Gloria. Gig openings set tone and attitude and Gloria doesn’t disappoint. It’s celebratory in its delivery. The excitement shared for the material by both The Jaded Hearts and fans is palpable and obvious.
The energy is electric. These are musicians who can play the hell out of their instruments, know the craft of good song writing, and are able to bring their infectious enthusiasm for the material they are playing to fore.
They tear through The Sonics’ Have Love Will Travel, lay waste to My Generation with power and adrenalin seemingly pouring out of their amps, before entering into a perfect mid-set homage to the Fab Four.
Sunshine of Your Love sees us into the home-straight, breathlessly executed and driven by Sean Payne channelling the spirit of Ginger Baker, with his powerful tom declarations and energy.
Cover versions are funny things and, for some, an album of covers that offers no new arrangements or obvious manipulation of the originals may be problematic. I would argue that Paint It Black and Helter Skelter are evidence enough that you don’t need strip down and rebuild, to bring something new to the old. The Hearts firmly stamp their own identity on every track with garage-rock swagger, killer playing and heart.
What is captured is pure live gold.
We may be months away from live music, but with the Jaded Hearts Club Live at the 100 Club, all you need do is grab a pint, press play and sing yourself stupid in the venue of your living room.
Have Love Will Follow
Please Please Me
Back In The USSR
Sunshine Of Your Love
Paint It Black
Reviewed by Liam McEvoy
Album released 19th March
Middle Kids, the Sydney based three piece have released the follow up to their 2018 debut album ‘Lost Friends with ‘Today We’re The Greatest’. With their newest album Middle Kids have put together a quality album that builds on everything good from their debut release, and has produced some great indie anthems as well as some more intimate emotional tracks.
Consisting of singer-songwriter Hannah Joy, multi-instrumentalist Tim Fitz and drummer Harry Day, Middle kids open their follow up album in style. ‘Bad Neighbours’ is an emotive, soaring track that has a real ethereal feel. ‘Cellophane (Brain)’ is a brilliant slow burner of a track starting with just Joy’s vocals and an acoustic guitar, before layers are added with drums introduced and then an electric guitar before the track bursts into life and becomes truly anthemic.
With an album full of great tracks, there are many that stand out for different reasons. ‘Lost In Los Angeles’ is a beautifully wistful track that allows Joy’s vocals to take centre stage, showing off her undeniable talent to its fullest. ‘Summer Hill’ again offers something different with the introduction of synths this is a pure synth-pop track that definitely stands out amongst its fellows. ‘Run With You’ is an indie rock track with its guitars and thumping drums, and this is a track that would not sound out of place at the biggest of stadiums.
Title track ‘Today We’re The Greatest’ rounds off the album, and ends with a feel good indie pop track that delivers a message of positivity, stating that ‘Even though we feel so small” anyone even for a moment can be the greatest. This is a beautifully uplifting track and is the perfect ending to a fantastic album.
Out now, this is an album that you should check out, as this band have produced a phenomenal follow up album that builds on everything good about their debut, and elevates it to new heights.
1. Bad neighbours
2. Cellophane (Brain)
3. R U 4 Me?
5. Lost In Los Angeles
6. Golden Star
7. Summer Hill
8. Some People Stay in Our Hearts Forever
9. Run With You
10. I Don’t Care
11. Stacking Chairs
12. Today We’re The Greatest
Reviewed by Liam McEvoy
Album released 26th March
The York based quartet Bull consisting of vocalist Tom Beer, guitarist Dan Lucas, bassist Kai West and drummer Tom Gabbatiss released their debut album ‘Discover Effortless Living’ on the 26th March 2021. With this album, Bull have produced an explosive indi-rock release that is sure to be an instant classic.
It’s an album that bursts into life right from the outset. Opening track ‘Bedroom Floor’ with its dreamy echoing electric guitar and driving bass and drums, this track kicks off in real style and it’s this energy that is maintained throughout the album.
This is a release that really does crackle with energy from start to finish. ‘Shining Bowl’ is a track that has a thundering bass that drives the song forward, and with its electric guitars added in, this is a track that is sure to get people moving at a live gig. ‘Eddie’s Cap’ is a track that has a fantastic punk feel, with vocals that sound as though they are coming through a megaphone. The drums and bass that build before exploding into a cacophony of sound.
‘Find Myself Again’ has a wonderfully soulful feel that again builds until it is no longer containable and hits an explosive moment halfway through the track. ‘Smoke’ has a guitar riff that starts out feeling as though it could be taken from a Nirvana track. This morphs into a more classic indi-rock sound before transforming again, and ending with an almost jazz feel with a trumpet seeing the track out.
The closing song ‘Disco Living’ ends the album with the same energy that it began, with being an upbeat indi-rock track.
‘Discover Effortless Living’ is out now, and Bull have produced an explosive debut album with tracks that feel like instant classics. As this is an album that is already out this is one you can check out right now, and you will not be disappointed.
1. Bedroom Floor
2. Love Goo
4. Shiny Bowl
6. Eddie’s Cap
7. Serious Baby
8. Perfect Teeth
9. Find Myself A Job
10. Bonzo Please
11. In A Jar
13. Disco Living
Reviewed by Liam McEvoy
Album released 16th April
Low Island the Oxford quartet of Carlos Pasada (vocals/multi-instrumentalist), Jamie Bay (backing vocals/multi-instrumentalist), Jacob Lively (bass) and Felix Higginbottom (drums), are set to release their highly anticipated debut album ‘If You Could Have It All Again’ on the 16th April 2021.
With their debut album Low Island have produced a stunning electro-pop record that has an undeniable groove.
In creating this album Low Island have made a record that is massively expansive. Album opener ‘Hey Man,’ with its shrill opening synth, slightly distorted echoing vocals and the almost random feeling interludes from other instruments gives the track a cosmic feel that grows and expands getting vaster throughout before exploding into life right at the end.
This is an album that has an undeniable groove to it, and ‘Don’t Let The Light In’ is a fantastic example of this with a mellow drum beat and a brilliant slack bass, it is a tune that you just can’t help but move too. ‘Who’s Having The Greatest Time’ is another that with its irrepressible drum beat layered with the upbeat synths and echoing vocals, it’s a track that is sure to have you dancing along.
Whilst there are undeniably some phenomenal dance tracks on the album there is also a real variety here too. ‘I Do It For You’ feels far more Indi that most of the other tracks with its hints of electric guitar, and regular muted drum beat it is a track that exudes attitude.
‘Momentary’ shares the same cosmic feeling as the opening track. The ample use of reverb and subtle almost Bon Iver style of synths and echo on the vocals, gives the track a feeling of immense scope and contributes to the celestial feel of the track.
With ‘If You Could Have It All Again’ Low Island have produced a phenomenal debut album that should definitely not be missed.
1. Hey Man,
2. What Do You Stand For
3. Don’t Let The Light In
4. Don’t Let The Light In (Reprise)
5. In Your Arms
6. Who’s Having The Greatest Time?
7. Feel Young Again
8. I Do It For You
10. Spaces Closing In
11. What The Hell (are you gonna do now?)
Review by John Seales
Album released 23rd April
This is ADE’s debut album. ADE is an inhabitant of New York City and has both composed and created this work.
The opening track, “The City” is short and sudden in both its beginning and end and is the first indication that this album is not going to follow established norms for commercial music. The instrumentals are electronically driven and ADE’s voice is an appropriate element in the mix.
“Happy Birthday” follows “The City” and has a toe tapping beat but is far from ordinary as ADE continues to surprise with interposal of instruments, sudden staccato and other elements that make you sit up and notice. Comfy background listening this is not.
It takes until track 6, “Die” until we come across something that has a definite and consistent direction of travel, with the listener feeling entertained rather than being part of some strange experiment of pop.
The second half of the album contains more that is heading in the direction of being easier to listen to, including “Havin’ Fun with Pharaoh”, “Moving Slow” and “Midnight Pizza”, though the experimentation is never absent.
For most of the other tracks I admit to thinking “what was that about?” and I even made my reviewer’s note of “Bad trip?” for track 7, “Get to Know Me”.
And here’s the thing. ADE himself has described the album as being like “Spilling my brains on the floor, scooping it up and getting it mastered”. There are certainly lots of interesting ideas and talent that have been allowed to run riot on this album, but it may well be too riotous in experimentation for some tastes, eschewing as it does the fundamental building blocks of the vast majority of popular music.
That said, this is definitely a departure from the norm, and if you are ready for something that will intrigue and perplex in equal measure then you’ve found it here.
1) The City
2) Happy Birthday
3) Another Weekend
4) In The Alley
5) Feel A Thing
7) Get To Know Me
8) Havin’ Fun With Pharaoh
9) Moving Slow
10) Midnight Pizza
Review by John Seales
Album released 23 April
This is Ms Evensen’s debut album. Ms Evensen is a 27 year old Icelandic pianist. She is a “post-classical” composer and pianist. Bylur translates to the English equivalent of Snowstorm and reflects the inspirational nature for her of her homeland and its character.
This is predominantly an instrumental album, with vocals only making one appearance. And that brings us to the question, what exactly is meant by “post-classical composer?”
Well, in Ms Evensen’s case it reflects the fact that much of this album is instrumental, with piano as the lead instrument, backed up by some gentle strings. Coupled with the style of the instrumentals – more on that in a moment – it becomes impossible to pigeonhole this work with any existing genre, though there are strong echoes of classical compositions, so, I suppose, “post-classical” is what it is.
But what does that sound like?
The whole album has a consistent feel. The piano usually acts as lead instrument but occasionally the strings take precedence. From the very first track, “Deep Under”, there is evidence of something atmospheric and graceful, with the piano seeming to be in the midground rather than in your face – as if Ms Evensen is saying “If you want to listen, I’m here, it’s your choice” - but it is indeed worth listening to as there is a tenderness of touch and a beauty here that is missing from the ubiquitous beat driven pop that assaults our ears from our daily radios and smart phones.
The closest current composer I can compare Ms Evensen with would be Ludovico Einaudi. Einaudi’s music is treated as modern classical, and I do wonder whether that is the true target audience for Ms Evensen’s work.
If you are into rap or heavy metal or similar I very much doubt that this would be for you, but if you’d like to explore a gentler side of music (even if you are into rap or heavy metal but have an open mind) then it’s a good place to start.
If you are ready to put aside the manic rush of everyday existence and let Ms Evensen’s waves of serenity wash over you then you will find this to be a delight.
1) Deep Under
3) The Northern Sky
4) Wandering I
5) Vetur Genginni Garo
6) Fyrir Mikael
7) Wandering II
9) Iansti Kjarni og Tilbrigioi
11) Midnight Moon
Reviewed by Levi Tubman
Album released 23rd April
The Mono LPS front man Ste Reid explains that he no longer thinks they’re are one band and genre, with different influences, tastes and time what they have is more of a playlist than an album that sounds like the listener is shuffling and playing through, for a small group of people to produce a wide range over a single album is often too big of an expectation.
Opening the album is “Think about it” working its way from electronic pop to indie guitars, it’s a high energy start, with the line “think about it” punching throughout the track in an almost percussive way. Following straight after is “Make up your mind” with the band wasting no time in making a full U turn. Its darker softer sound is such a low impact track, this isn’t a criticism though, if anything the second track is my favourite of the 2 but it’s never going to be an opener. Electronica and strings are pushed to the forefront, leaving room for vocals as far from the opening track as the music.
The heavier “Hell, save my soul” has a real groove to it, drum laden with its fuzz distorted guitars straight out of the 70’s, it keeps getting pulled up with more strings and bright vocals, a piece that is ideally suited for the bands wide range of styles.
“Love me” kicks straight back into their indie sound, thumping kick drum and layered vocal intro gives way to guitars and strings. This is a group that isn’t afraid to use cello where others wouldn’t even consider it, and from the very start of the album it works and works well! But the highlight has to be on Love me, it tames the harsh drums and guitars and lends a lot of feeling to the song.
“Chancey Gardener” is beautifully stripped back to vocal guitar and strings, it’s not over complicated, and at only 2:30 long, it’s an almost sweet break in an album that has brought the listener a much fuller soundscape, and like everything else on the album, it’s in just the right place.
“Not the only one” is fun! It’s a cliché but it’s the perfect description, light and melodic, stamping piano chords ,a running bassline and uplifting vocals remind you of summer and listening to bands in festivals, its catchy and happy, with of course strings throughout I can see it as a real crown pleaser, because why use one cliché when you can use 2?
Rounding off the album is “You say” one of the slowest and darkest tracks, very much a book end to the opening energy, while quite minimalistic at first, they bring in processed and synthesised sounds as it grows. It sounds tormented and raw, building over almost 7 minutes until it’s a wall of sound, not overpowering, you can still make out every instrument and vocal.
The songs are all so varied and different, the album doesn’t have a style or genre, you can’t simply put it in a box with someone else. It’s catchy and well written, with great use of strings and electronica melded throughout.
My one criticism is that at times, the vocals felt a little simple compared to the music, with a lot of repetition, especially in ‘Think about it’, but overall this is an intelligent well written album that’s bound to get a lot of attention.
Stand out tracks:
‘Make up your mind’ – Its darker slower tone has a great feel that really appeals to me.
‘Chancey Gardener’ - Stripped back simple guitar vocals and cello, sometimes simple is the best.
‘Not the only one’ – It’s so uplifting and bright, I challenge anyone not to be smiling and tapping along by the end!
1 - Think about it
2 – make your mind up
3 – Drop the bomb
4 – Hell, save my soul
5 – Getting away with it
6 – Love me
7 – Chancey Gardener
8 – Sunlight
9 – Not the only one
10 - You say
Review by John McEvoy
EP released 30th April
London based alt rock band Hymns have their new EP ‘Reset’ out on the 30th April. They’ve been around since 2016, releasing various singles and EP’s.
As the accompanying press blurb states, they’re a curious mix of rock, with shades of Depeche Mode and even Ennio Morricone thrown into the mix for good measure!
Having listened to the 4 track EP, it’s easy to see why these comparisons have been made. The opening title track ‘Reset’ kicks in with soaring guitars, crashing drums and Oliver Hoopers doom laden vocals deliver a strong opener with his end of days lyrics, and and given the current pandemic, their chorus of ‘The worlds on fire’ ain’t too far off the mark!
‘Concrete Skies’ opening bars in pure spaghetti western style, which quickly morphs into bass and drum driven mid-tempo track. The backing vocals are a genuine highlight here along with the catchy ear worm chorus.
‘Sirens’ is apparently about an accident the band witnessed on the London Underground, and for me is for me the standout track. and it's a great example of what for me Indi rock is all about. Think Joy Division meets Depeche Mode, and this may the sound you would come up. (Well that’s only my opinion. You decide for yourselves)
EP closer ‘Wrong’ brings proceedings to a close, and again this band show just how versatile they are. Bass player Giorgio Compagnone should be given credit for delivering an outstanding bass line that ‘Hooky himself would be proud of.
All in all, this is a strong release from a band that can incorporate differing styles with great accomplishment, and this is to their credit. There’s absolutely no reason why you should stick to one musical genre.
Hymns are Oliver Hooper on guitar/vocals, Giorgio Compagnone on bass and Keyboards. Filippo Ferazzoli on Guitar and Amy Chapman on drums.
· Concrete Skies
Album reviewed by Liam McEvoy
Released 30th April
Teenage Fanclub are set to release their tenth studio album Endless Arcade via their own record label PeMa on the 30th April 2021. With their tenth they have created a wonderfully rich album that is in equal parts joyfully uplifting, and thoughtfully pensive.
Opening the album with ‘Home’, a seven-minute epic that with its driving bass, drums and dreamy guitars, the track delivers a beautiful message about the joy of being home through lyrics like “There was comfort in your company”.
This is followed by title track ‘Endless Arcade’ which has a similar laid-back feel as the album opener but this time Teenage Fanclub have incorporated synthesisers that are reminiscent of a retro arcade cabinet. The message of the track again is a simple yet effective one that says, “don’t be afraid of this life”.
Whilst there is plenty uplifting moments to be found within Endless Arcade, Teenage Fanclub also explore some darker more reflective topics such as anxiety in the track ‘The Sun Won't Shine On Me’, which is an upbeat indi/folk track that is at complete odds with the actual message of the track.
‘Back In The Day’ is another track that deals with some of the darker themes on the album, this one specifically about loss. It deals with this in a beautifully delicate way through lyrics like “The light has gone away” and “with each new passing day I see that old world fading away”.
With this new album, Teenage Fanclub have produced a record that is both uplifting and melancholic in nature, with the band walking a fine line between these two themes with expertly.
2. Endless Arcade
3. Warm Embrace
4. Everything Is Falling Apart
5. The Sun Won't Shine On Me
6. Come With Me
7. In Our Dreams
8. I'm More Inclined
9. Back In The Day
10. The Future
11. Living With You
12. Silent Song
Album reviewed by Liam McEvoy
Released 30th April
For Metronomy, The English Riviera was a career changing album for the band and in celebration of the albums tenth anniversary the band have just released the 10th anniversary edition of the album, including six never before released tracks.
This album contains some of Metronomys biggest tracks such as ‘The Look’ and The Bay’ and within the additional material there are some real stand out mixes.
Aquarius is a mellow funk infused track that at just over a minute in length is short but incredibly sweet. ‘Jazz Oddyssey’ does exactly what it says and is a brilliantly laid back piano based jazz track. ‘Picking Up For You’ feels like a fully realised Metronomy track that has a moody undercurrent that is overlaid by an upbeat piano.
For Metronomy fans everywhere The English Riviera 10th Anniversary Edition is a must and with the addition of six previously unreleased tracks this takes an already beloved album to new heights
There’s also more good news as Metronomy have also announced dates for a new 2022 tour, so make sure you get your tickets for this one. Covid permitting of course!
1. The English Riviera
2. We Broke Free
3. Everything Goes My Way
4. The Look
5. She Wants
7. The Bay
8. Loving Arm
10. Some Written
11. Love Underlined
13. French Organ
15. Jazz Oddyssey
16. Picking Up For You
17. The Ballard of the 17 Year Old
Reviewed by Levi Tubman
Album released 30th April
MYD is a French musician, engineer, DJ and producer who’s been working his way through the music industry for over a decade. Starting out as an engineer he moved onto working as a DJ and co-writing with a number of artists. But despite working on a selection of solo and group acts tracks, and earning platinum discs, this is his first solo Album, and I’m expecting 14 tracks of full on electronica.
Album opener “we are the light” gives you a half minute of a deep electronic heartbeat before bursting into a light acid jazz groove, vocals so low in the mix its hard to make out any lyrics but they’re hardly needed with the voice more instrumental than lead. Leading into “Let you speak” the beat and tempo just grows, letting the heavily processed vocals pull through, its warm and uplifting with unusual sounds and melodies popping in throughout, it’s just laid-back and playful
“Born a loser” the title track, is a lot darker and harder, the beat is constant throughout, with vocal sounds more than lyrics. Sweeping filters and odd brief tempo changes its unnerving feel compared to the summer festival that came before it, MYD seamlessly takes you from sitting in a warm field to a dark Parisian club at 3 AM without missing a beat.
“There is a snake in my boot!” really shows of MYD’s creativity, it’s a simple beat, vocals and a few instruments, nothing out of the ordinary, but the whole song is processed until it sounds like the analogue wow and flutter that we spent years trying to remove from tape and record players but its used so well, its 1:14 run time is a shame, but it’s such a neat little track.
“The sun” and “Moving men” Although separated by some industrial trippy and almost house sounds between them, they’re the more indie disco parts of the album. For lack of a better phrase, radio friendly, and inoffensive to listeners who might have a narrower taste in music. They’re just as creative as the rest of the album albeit with a tamer sound, but he just cant leave that groove behind.
The final 2 tracks, “We found it” and more specifically “Now that we found love” sound like MYD going back to his DJ roots. It feels strange listening to them in a room on your own, they need a crowded room with someone illuminated in a high booth at the front conducting the crowd with each beat, still works, but will have you wanting to this live.
I found this album hard to review at times, instead of writing about the tracks and the sounds, I found myself just listening to it, I didn’t want to stop and write, I just wanted to enjoy it all.
It’s warm, energetic, and uplifting, it uses beats effects and vocals to shape every part of every track, nothing feels like It’s just enough, there’s no going through the motions here, and heart and soul have been put into this. I know I’ve said it before this year, but this has to be up there for album of the year!
It sounds fresh and never outdated. It’s simply just warm waves of nostalgia!
We Are The Light
Let You Speak
Together We Stand
Born a Loser
There Is a Snake in My Boot!
Whether the Weather (feat. Juan Wauters)
Always a Light
Moving Men (feat. Mac DeMarco)
It’s About You
I Feel Better (I Got Something)
Now That We Found Love
We Found It (feat. Bakar)
Rosie Tucker is a Los Angeles based singer/songwriter.
Their new album, “Sucker Supreme” opens with “Barbara Ann”, a pure pop track with her vocals and traditional guitar/bass/drum heading up the instrumentals. There is a springy feel to the music, and an immediate understanding that the production values are great on this opus.
“Wouldn’t we be perfect together if we wanted exactly the same thing?” she opines on “Habanero, another track with a pop feel. And we do appear to want the same thing – some good music, well presented.
We start to settle in for a pleasant and unchallenging album of poppy tunes, with a definite (unsurprisingly) American tang.
The “Different Animals” hits us and we realise we have ourselves been suckered. The hints of occasional strangeness which we had ignored in the first two tracks have their intensity and frequency ramped up, and this track provides a mix of 3 beats to the bar then 4 beats to the bar: intriguing!
As we progress through the album this clever strangeness continues, showing that there is much more to Tucker than formulaic pop.
“Ambrosia” is whimsical and clever, yet I couldn't shake off the feeling that a certain Beatles number had been here before Tucker. I didn’t pick up on any other such heavily influenced musical phraseology, and “Arrow” has a slow build, is compelling and is amongst my faves here.
You can’t help but feel that Tucker is a master of her craft but also has a humorous touch, “Airport” having an unusual guitar introduction teasing us listeners. “Clinic Poem” is produced as if it were (maybe it is?) a quick demo done on a cassette recorder, contrasting heavily and deliberately with the generally excellent sound quality here.
All in all, Tucker has basic pop nailed and clearly loves to push the boundaries a little more, whilst not wishing to alienate her listeners. They show much more here than just formulaic pop.
At times weird, wonderful and wacky, Tucker is always in control, thoughtful and never boring.
Expect great things from Tucker as their career ascends!
1) Barbara Ann
3) Different Animals
5) For Sale:Ford Pinto
8) Creature Of Slime
9) Brand New Beast
12) Clinic Poem
13) Peach Pit
14) How Was It?