Review - John McEvoy
Love him or loathe him, the one thing you can’t do is ignore Morrissey. Front man of one the most influential bands of a generation, now doing very nicely as a solo artist, and with a residency coming up in Las Vegas (Yes really!).
This week sees the release of his 13th solo album since The Smiths decided to call it a day, and it sees him in fine form, with witty and acerbic lyrics, and a rich baritone voice that appears to be actually getting stronger the older he gets.
‘I Am Not A Dog On A Chain’ is an 11 track outing which quite frankly is one of his best albums to date, but will not be an album for the easily offended, and let’s face it, everyone seems to be offended by virtually everything these days.
Album opener ‘Jim Falls’ for example is an 80’s style electro dance track about suicide, basically saying if you’re going to do it then do it and get on with it!! Needless to say, the tabloid press will have a field day with that one.
His recent single ‘Bobby, Don’t You Think They Know’ is frankly as good as anything he’s written over the last few years, and features the powerhouse vocals of Thelma Houston from the Motown stable. Hammond organs abound, along with a pounding drum back beat, and it’s easy to see why this was released as the first single from the album.
Lovers of The Smiths, (myself included) won’t be disappointed either, ‘What Kind Of People’ I swear has Johnny Marr playing distinctive guitar, and the country style slide guitars perfectly match his wry lyrics and even Rough Trade gets a mention as well!
Title track ‘I Am Not A Dog On A Chain’ sees Morrissey attacking newspapers as ‘They Are Troublemakers’, which is a fair point, and he’s clearly aware of the impact his public utterance’s have when he suggests ‘He may be skinned alive by Canada Goose because of my views!’
‘Once I Saw The River Clean’ sees him venture back into an 80’s electro style, and sounds reminiscent of early Pet Shop Boys and recalls trips out with his Grandmother to buy smokes and a copy of T Rex’ ‘Metal Guru.
‘The Secret of Music’ is a departure from his usual style and is an epic almost 8 minutes track, which seems to be a mishmash of tunes thrown together, fuzz guitars abound, and an insistent drum beat drives the whole thing forward with what appears to non sensical lyrics thrown over the top.
To be fair, I wasn’t too sure about this, first time around, but further listening’s made it well worth effort.
With closing track ‘My Hurling Days Are Over’ he says that ‘Time is no friend of mine’ and closes with Morrissey in fine form along with a choir in the background and showcases just how good his voice still is these days.
I know that a lot of people won’t go anywhere near this album because of his public comments, but if you can get past them, then I have to say that in my opinion this is one of his strongest solo albums to date and is well worth checking out.
No doubt the tabloid press will go to town on this, and it’ll be interesting to see if the album is played on UK radio. Having recently witnessed his last UK tour, he’s adamant that he’s now become persona non grata in that area.
We shall see I suppose!
· Jim Jim Falls
· Love Is On Its Way Out
· Bobby, Don’t You Think They Know
· I Am Not A Dog On A Chain
· What Kind Of People Live In These Houses
· Knockabout World
· Darling, I Hug A Pillow
· Once I Saw The River Clean
· The Truth About Ruth
· The Secret Of Music
· My Hurling Days Are Done
20-year-old newcomer ANDREW CUSHIN today shares his debut single ‘It’s Gonna Get Better’. It’s a striking introduction for the Geordie singer-songwriter, whose burgeoning reputation has already seen him sell-out a headline show at The Cluny.
‘It’s Gonna Get Better’ immediately positions Andrew as a musician who is destined for bigger things in the year ahead. His first calling card is the sheer strength of his vocal. It’s a voice which has the power to demand your attention, yet also with the soul, nuance and character that brings his emotive words to life. Lyrically it’s an unguarded outpouring of emotion, rich with regret, romance and yearning. The overwhelming feeling, however, is one of optimism and redemption.
The accompanying video depicts Andrew’s life in and around his home city. Sometimes they’re iconic - matchday at Newcastle United alongside statues of local heroes Alan Shearer and Bobby Robson, and crossing the famous Tyne Bridge. At other times they’re more day-to-day - darts, pool and a pint at his local bar The Turbinia, strolling the city’s backstreets, and performing in Stockton.
‘It’s Gonna Get Better’ is released as part of the two-track ‘Waiting For The Rain’ EP. Both songs were written by Andrew and produced by Sean Genocky whose credits include The Who, Richard Ashcroft, Tom McRae, Roger Daltrey and more. For the recording of ‘It’s Gonna Get Better’, Andrew borrowed Sean’s Gibson J-45 - a guitar that was previously owned by Keith Richards.
Although he’s now making waves in music, Andrew Cushin’s first passion was football. He used to play as a goalkeeper for the non-league side Newcastle Benfield’s youth team, which inadvertently changed the course of his life.
When his coach asked him to help train the younger players, the pair bonded over a shared interest in artists such as Oasis, The Beatles, Paul Weller, Pete Doherty, Richard Ashcroft, Foals and Damien Rice. With a background in music, the coach soon discovered that Andrew had a real flair for songwriting and became his manager - the start of a rise which looks set to continue deep into the future.
WATCH THE VIDEO HERE
Review by Levi Tubman - Sept 20
Album released 4th Sept
When asked about the album title, lead vocalists Ross spits, with characteristically direct candour. "The album is called Paradise because Aberdeen is not a paradise.
It's horrible, it's grey, and it's cold all the time, our hometown is a shithole” The band say it’s grim up north, and hailing from Aberdeen, a city which shares latitude with Canada Norway and Sweden, Cold Years really do mean north!
Having heard a couple of tracks in the past, the opening track, 31, was a surprise, acoustic guitar and vocals, not the loud explosive start I was expecting. But you can hear the angst on the edge of his voice, so it’s not a surprise when the rest of the band kick, in and the gravel really comes into Ross’s voice, upbeat bright music backing darker lyrics and tone, a perfect start to the album.
This loud 4 piece are more than comfortable in their own music to strip back other songs in the album. With ‘The Waits’ opening with just piano and vocals, and light drums and guitar coming later, letting the vocals and bleak lyrics bring the power to the song. Talking of things past, “with a pack slung over your shoulder we’ve been here before” building to a loud finale, showing that Ross Gordon has one of the best voices around at the moment
It’s not all quiet intros though, songs like ‘Burn down the house’ and ‘Life with a view’ start out at 100% and don’t relent. Distorted guitars, loud crisp drums and just the right amount of rattle on the bass, upbeat, catchy and bright music that’s guaranteed to get your foot tapping against lyrics of injustice and frustration, built up throughout their lives finally getting an outlet.
The album reflects hard times growing up, living in Aberdeen and the current pandemic and political world today, melodic tipped punk defiance. While not quite as hard edged as bands like The Dropkick Murphy’s, the band has the same Celtic punk soul. If you like your punk with a melodic almost folk tinge, you’ll love this, one of the top albums of 2020. With so much going wrong this year, Vocalist Ross Gordon, guitarist Finlay Urquhart, bassist Louis Craighead, and drummer Fraser Allan do their damndest to bring us something good.
‘31’, stellar vocals on a minimal introduction with a full power outro, superb!
‘Breath’, musically one of the darker tracks on the album, little different and all the better for it.
‘Dropout’, my personal favourite simply because sometimes you just love a song! With hints of later years Buzzcocks and Stiff little fingers its superb!
02-Life with a View
03-Night Like This
07-Burn Down The House
09-Too Far Gone
12-62 (My Generation’s Falling Apart)
17-People Got To Know (Demo)
18-Perfect World (Demo)
19-Through The Eyes Of A Child (Demo)
20-We Got All The Time In The World (Demo)
Reviewed By John Seales - Sept 20
Released 4th Sept
Declan won the Glastonbury Emerging Talent competition in 2015 and released his first album, “What Do You Think About The Car?” in 2017, and “Zeros” is his second album.
Since the release of his first track, “Brazil”, in 2014, criticising FIFA, he has often been seen as a protest singer.
It’s a tricky line to tread, being a successful protest singer, and it’s an easy criticism to make that success can easily lead to becoming one of the “rich kids” that you were originally protesting against.
This album is less in your face about protest, as if Declan is consciously trying to edge himself away from the perception that he is purely just a one trick pony.
There is certainly an element of protest in here, but it’s a little blurred and more nuanced, with Declan allowing the listener to decide for themselves what some of the lyrics are driving at.
The first track “You Better Believe”, for example, was to us about grabbing life by the balls and not being sucked into mass consumerism, but you may have a different take entirely.
We’ll leave it up to you to decide for yourself, as this is dependent on where you stand on this and many other issues.
Musically the style is indie rock with drums bass and keyboard usually leading, backed up by some support from guitar. There is a real feel of energy throughout, and the arrangements have some lovely interludes as the tracks progress.
Declan has found his style/sound and sticks to this throughout. “Emily” gives an intro and outro that show that Declan is capable of more variety, and it would be good to hear some more of this in the next album which will we’re sure follow in due course.
Standout tracks for us were “Be an Astronaut”, “Emily” and “Rapture”
All in all, this is an accomplished second album and Declan’s success is almost certainly going to lead on to bigger and better things in the future.
1) You Better Believe
2) Be an Astronaut
3) The Key to Life on Earth
4) Beautiful Faces
5) Daniel You’re Still a Child
7) Twice Your Size
9) Sagittarius A*
10) Eventually, Daring
Reviewed by Liam McEvoy - Sept 20
Album released 4th Sept
Announced on his 70th birthday earlier this year Billy Oceans first album in just over ten years is set for release on the 4th September 2020 and ‘One World’ shows that Billy Ocean is still going strong producing fantastic tracks, that deliver a powerful and poignant message of change.
‘One World’ opened with the newest single from the album ‘We Gotta Find Love’. This track kicks the album off in sensational style and begins with the message of change which can be seen through lyrics like ‘Take away the things that divide and abuse us’ and ‘The winds of change are coming round to the way it ought to be’. This is a message that is prevalent throughout the album.
Title track ‘Ocean World’ is another not so subtle example of Ocean’s call for change. An R&B track at its core, it has a strong dance beat that is layered with the occasional electronic flare.
Once again Ocean cries for change through lyrics like ‘So much demonstrations, people voicing their opinions’ and ‘It’s time to turn it around’.
Despite the very clear message at the core of ‘One World’ Ocean still manages to show his versatility whether it be the reggae infused beats of ‘Love You More’, the ballad that is ‘Missing You Everyday’ or the dancehall vibes of ‘Mystery’.
With this vast array of influences this is an album that truly has something for everyone.
At 70 years of age it seems there is no sign of Billy Ocean slowing down.
With his first album in over ten years ‘One World’ delivers an important message calling out for change which given the current world climate issues feels as though it could not have come at a more appropriate time.
1. We Gotta Find Love
2. Love You More
3. Feel the Love
4. One World
5. When I Saw You
7. Missing You Everyday
8. Can’t Stand the Pain
9. Betcha Don’t Know
10. All Over the World
Nothing Will Stand in Our Way
Reviewed by Liam McEvoy - Sept 20
Album released 18th Sept
Ryan Hamilton & The Harlequin Ghosts return with Nowhere to Go but Everywhere. The follow up to their 2019 award winning debut album ‘This is The Sound’, this new album sees an artist masterfully combine the sounds of rock and roll and folk music to create a worthy follow up album.
The release kicks off with the latest single ‘Only a Dream’. This starts the album with an upbeat folk track that opens the record in style. The Folk feel is one that persists throughout, whether it be the upbeat folk of ‘Jesus & John Lennon’ or the slow melodic feel of ‘Southern Accents’ that sees Ryan Hamilton’s vocals accompanied by a piano and echoing guitars creating a beautifully melodic feel.
Ryan Hamilton & The Harlequin Ghosts combine this folk sound with some fantastic rock and roll. This can be felt most noticeably on ‘Out of My League’ which has some classic feeling rock and roll riffs layered with some complex licks giving depth to the track.
‘Can I Get an Amen’ is another great example of the blend between rock and roll and folk on this album. This track again has some very classic sounding rock and roll riffs which are teamed with vocals reminiscent of Jon Bon Jovi.
Out on the 18th September 2020 Ryan Hamilton & the Harlequin Ghosts have produced a brilliant album that blends two genres seamlessly. This is a worthy follow up to their award-winning debut album that is once again sure to delight both fans and critics alike.
1. Only a Dream
2. Oh No (feat. Kay Hanley)
3. Jesus & John Lennon
4. Out of My League
5. Let’s Go Slow
6. Can I Get an Amen
7. Don’t Fall Apart
8. Newcastle Charm
9. Southern Accents
10. We Gave It Hell
11. Pick Yourself UP
Reviewed by Liam McEvoy - Sept 20
Album released 18th Sept
Following their critically acclaimed 2019 album ‘Happier Now’, Native Harrow waste no time in releasing their fourth studio album ‘Closeness’. A beautifully uplifting and diverse album that feels like a timeless classic.
The Pennsylvania based folk rock duo open the album with ‘Shake’. A fantastic track with guitars that sound as though they could have been taken from any western film and beautifully understated vocals that create a haunting atmosphere and provide a great opening to the album.
Amongst the many stand out tracks from ‘Closeness’ and possibly the best is latest single ‘Carry On’. With its laid-back electric guitar riffs and choral echoing vocals this is an uplifting track about perseverance through hard times as seen through lyrics like “Times gonna get harder but you gotta carry on”.
‘Carry On’ however is by no means the only excellent track on the album. ‘The Dying of Ages’ has a wonderful folk feel through the use of woodwind instruments, and the same understated vocal style as ‘Shake’.
‘Turn Turn’ feels almost like a lullaby with vocals reminiscent of a 40’s/50’s era crooner, and ‘Smoke Burns’ has dreamy sliding guitars creating a wonderfully atmospheric track.
Closeness is out Friday 18th September 2020 and Native Harrow have produced a haunting, beautifully diverse album that has all the feelings of a timeless classic. You really should check this one out.
2. The Dying Of Ages
3. Smoke Burns
4. Same Every Time
5. Carry On
6. If I Could
7. Turn Turn
8. Even Peace
9. Feeling Blue
10. Sun Queen
Reviewed by John Seales - Sept 20
Album released 25th Sept
Well, this is intriguing from the start. The PR blurb that accompanies most of the releases we get to review states “a myriad of musical influences from surf-rock to over-driven pop and experimental rock, Manchester psychedelic outfit Heavy Salad (featuring former Moon landings man Lee Mann) release their debut album ‘Cult Casual’ this Autumn. A loose concept-album-of-sorts, Cult Casual takes the listener backwards through the very experiences of existence, beginning with ‘Death’...”
My brain is already starting to explode. “Heavy Salad” is such a weird/great name. The idea of surf-rock on a concept album. Concept albums being released in the 21st century (so 1970s…). Beginning the album with that ubiquitous finisher, Death. Well, before my brain actually does explode, let’s give it a listen and see if the reality lives up to the wackiness of the words.
The first track, “Death”, begins with an electronic drum machine that sounds like it was bought in 1982. But fret not, because as the track progresses it develops into something that could have been in the Rocky Horror Picture Show. There is much that recalls the fashion for concept albums, but this time with (hopefully) intentional humour.
“Battery Acid” has a joyful groove with some lyrics of exceedingly bad taste - “melt yourself with battery acid”. I am reminded of Frank Zappa’s album “Joe’s Garage” which with similarly deliberately poor taste, stuck its tongue out at the establishment.
Some will love it because of this and some will hate it. And that’s the point – this is a real yeast extract of a record.
You either see the funny side or you don’t. For this reason, I think “Cult Casual” is a great title – it will become a cult because of the way it flicks the Vs at the PC crowd, but it will never make it mainstream for that very reason.
“Inner Versions” has a punk feel accompanied by hallucinogenic polar bears (yes, really), while “Reverse Snake” feels scummy and dirty. “This Song is Not About Lizards” brings an element of metal. Make your own mind up, but I think it is about lizards really.
“It’s OK to Bleed” plays us out with some rock gospel and acts as a nice way of returning us to reality after the amazing strangeness of the album.
As well as the sick humour of many of the lyrics, there is also much humour in the instrumental accompaniment, which deftly parodies many styles.
If you like something well out of the ordinary and have a sense of musical humour, then this may well be for you. It is a real antidote to samey, safe pop, but quite a strong antidote at that.
So, after listening, is my mind less likely to explode? Most certainly not.
2. Battery Acid
3. The Wish
4. Inner Versions
5. Reverse Snake
6. High Priestess
7. This Song Is Not About lizards
8. Routine Dream
9. Slow Ride
10. It’s OK to Bleed
Reviewed by Liam McEvoy
Album released 25th Sept
Idles return with their third studio album Ultra Mono on the 25th September 2020. Following the release of their critically acclaimed second album ‘Joy As an Act of Resistance’, Idles have produced another storming punk album that is a worthy successor to their wildly successful second album.
The album kicks off with ‘War’ and this acts as a war cry, a call to arms shouting that Idles are back and they are not to be ignored. With its thrashing guitars and pounding drums, along with frontman Joe Talbot shouting the phrase “this means war”, throughout the track. This really kicks the album off in style.
Having never been a band that shies away from tackling the more difficult and sensitive subjects in society, it seems Ultra Mono is no different. ‘Anxiety’ tackles the subject of mental health, which with its thrashing, screeching guitars, hammering drums and the way the vocals towards the end of the track are layered with just the one word “anxiety” shouted over and over, this track gives you a feeling of anxiety whilst listening to it.
‘Model Village’ too comments on what are the negatives of living in British suburbia today. With lyrics like ‘model race, model hate, model village’, ‘homophobes by the tone in the village’ and ‘model far, model right, model village’ which are set to the same thrashing punk sound.
‘Carcinogenic’ and ‘Reigns’ comment on the UK government and the socioeconomic divide in the UK with lyrics like ‘cramming people into high-rises whilst selling their welfare for low prices’ from ‘Carcinogenic’ and ‘how does it feel to shank the working classes into dust’ from ‘Reigns’.
This again is set to the same storming punk sound that Idles have become synonymous with. Whilst seemingly all the commentary on the album is negative and coming from a place of anger, the final track on the album ‘Danke’ provides some rays of hope.
With frontman Talbot saying, “true love will find you in the end”. This sentiment is underpinned by a hammering drum beat and screeching wailing guitars.
From the wild success of their 2018 release ‘Joy As an Act of Resistance’ to touring with the likes of the Foo Fighters, Idles are a band that have gone from strength to strength and Ultra Mono sees them build on this and continue in fine form.
This is an album that provides a damning social commentary of the state of Britain today. and Idles have produced another brilliant album that you need to hear.
3. Mr. Motivator
5. Kill Them With Kindness
6. Model Village
7. Ne Touche Pas Moi
10. The Lover
11. A Hymn
Reviewed by Liam McEvoy
Album released 2nd Oct
LANY return with their third studio album ‘Mama's Boy’ this Friday 2nd October 2020. On their third outing they have produced a fantastically mellow indie album that is full of raw emotion.
Opening track ‘You’ sets the tone of the album from the outset. A great indie anthem brimming with emotion, this track sounds like a love letter you would write to the one you love, with lyrics like ‘You're the sun to the moon’ and ‘you’re the air in my lungs’.
The emotion is a theme that continues throughout the ‘Mama's Boy’ and can be felt again on ‘If This is The Last Time’. Introducing a feeling of family, this track is a brilliant acoustic tribute from frontman Paul Klein to his parents that swells until its ending, where drums and echoing electric guitars are introduced giving the track a feeling of grandeur.
Of course, with all of the emotion that has gone into the making of ‘Mama's Boy’ it is inevitable that there would be some form of self-reflection. ‘I Still Talk to Jesus is a beautifully melancholy track that asks can a person still become a good person despite their past flaws.
The use of the choral backing vocals here again gives a feeling of grandeur that adds to the feeling of salvation. ‘Sad’ too is a reflective synth laden track about the pain of getting over someone and the need to make that person feel the same pain as you.
The album closes with ‘Nobody Else’. Much in the same way as the opening track this feels like a love letter that bookends the album and closes ‘Mama's Boy’ in a gloriously uplifting way.
LANY have produced a beautifully mellow indi record that is full of raw emotion making it one to definitely keep an eye out for this Friday 2nd October when it is released.
2. 2.Cowboy In LA
3. Heart Won't Let Me
4. If This Is the Last Time
5. I Still Talk to Jesus
7. Good Guys
8. Sharing You
9. Bad News
10. When You're Drunk
11. Anything 4 U
13. What I Wish Just One Person Would Say to Me
14. Nobody Else
Reviewed by Liam McEvoy
Album released 2nd Oct
The new super group The Jaded Hearts Club are set to release their new album ‘You’ve Always Been Here’ this Friday 2nd October 2020.
This is a group that is full of musical talent with the likes of Muse front man Matt Bellamy, Blur guitarist Graham Coxon, Last Shadow puppets singer/guitarist Miles Cane, guitarist Jamie Davis, Jet singer Nic Cester and Zutons drummer Sean Payne.
This is an album that sees all of this musical talent come together and give eleven classic tracks an injection of rock and roll giving them a fresh new feel.
Somewhat fittingly given the current global pandemic, the album opens with ‘We’ll Meet Again’. This track sounds as though it is being played through an old wind up gramophone which gives a feeling of nostalgia that is perfect heading into the rest of the album.
This is followed up by the classic Four Tops track ‘Reach Out (I’ll Be There)’. This track is given an injection of rock and roll which with its thumping drums and driving guitars gives this track a fresh new feel.
The title of this debut album ‘You’ve Always Been There’ is perhaps appropriate as every track it seems has always been here with each one a classic in its own right. The Marvin Gaye track ‘This Love Starved Heart of Mine (Its Killing Me)’ is again given a rock and roll twist as its wailing guitars and Nic Cesters distinctive vocals make it seem as though this was a rock and roll track all along.
The standout on this album is the cover of the Screamin’ Jay Hawks classic ‘I Put A Spell on You’. This is a track that exudes attitude from the first moment with some incredible guitar licks and exceptional vocals this us hands down the standout track of the album.
The album closes with an almost creepy cover of the 1956 Little Willie John track ‘Fever’. Having the almost whispered vocals accompanied by nothing more than a double bass this provides a stripped back version of the timeless track.
The Jaded hearts Club are set to release their debut album ‘You’ve Always Been Here’ this Friday 2ndOctober. Although this is in essence a covers album this is a group of very talented musicians giving their own unique spin to some already classic tracks.
1. We’ll Meet Again
2. Reach Out (I’ll Be There)
3. Have Love Will Travel
4. This Love Starved Heart Of Mine (It’s Killing Me)
5. Nobody But Me
6. Long and Lonesome Road
7. I Put A Spell On You
9. Why When The Love Is Gone
10. Love’s Gone Bad
Reviewed by Liam McEvoy
Album released 9th Oct
Tom Joshua releases his debut EP this Friday 9th October. For anyone already following Joshua’s burgeoning career there will not be too much new here as three of the four tracks on this EP have already been released as singles.
What this release does however is put those singles in one place to demonstrate a genuine talent.
Opening with ‘Cinema’ this is a fantastically mellow indi track that with Joshua’s distorted vocals is very reminiscent of James Blake. ‘Knock On a Hollow’ and newest single ‘Undergrowth’ feel much more like conventional singer songwriter tracks that show off Joshua’s fantastic vocals in full effect.
The new track on the EP ‘This Still Life again is another fantastic example of his obvious talents and sees him accompanied by a piano rather than an acoustic guitar.
Tom Joshua’s Debut EP Undergrowth is set for release this Friday 9th October. Although there is not much new here, Undergrowth EP is a fantastic collection of tracks that highlights Joshua’s undeniable talent and is surely a precursor of greater things to come.
2. Knock on a Hollow
4. This Still Life
Reviewed by Liam McEvoy
Album released 9th Oct
Ooberfuse are set to release their newest EP ‘Tears Can Only Sting’ this Friday 9th October. Following their debut album ‘The Odd Ones’ the synth pop duo returns in fine form, giving more of the synth pop synonymous with their first album, but also showing their versatility and giving a glimpse of what is surely greater things to come.
On this EP Ooberfuse show their versatility, whether it be with the opening track ‘Fly High’, a feel-good synth pop track that has shades of La Roux, especially with the breathless vocals or ‘Call My Name’. A track that has a real indie feel with its electric guitars and steady drumbeat. Acoustic track ‘Father’ again offers a very different sound with the synths substituted for electric guitars and violins.
Ooberfuse with their newest EP ‘Tears Can Only Sting’ have shown their versatility with six very different tracks. Set for release this Friday 9th October, this EP is a sure sign of a promising future for Ooberfuse.
1. Fly High
2. Set Me Free (Patrik Kambo Remix)
4. Call My Name (2020 Remix)
6. Only You (Yazoo Cover)
Review by John McEvoy
Single released 9th Oct
Southampton based Regent have their new single Today out on the 9th October, ahead of the release of their new album ‘Just A Revolution’ out early next year.
This is a nice slow burning rock track which reminded me of The Verve, particularly with the distinctive vocals of Ben Rooke front and centre.
As the band say, ‘Today’ is about heartache and loss, and the tough times that we all go through from time to time.
The Indie Rock market is a busy genre, but there’s enough here to suggest that this is a band going places, and is a promising indication of the quality of the new album due out next year.
More about Regent
Following on from the BBC Introducing / Radio X supported “Dirty Little Sinner”, their latest release finds the Southampton band stripping away the raucous rock’n’roll of its predecessor to unveil something altogether more slow-burning and stately.
A song ultimately about heartache and loss, Rooke’s impassioned vocal is complimented by the majestic guitar work of Regent axeman in residence: Chris Woolf. Wrought from raw emotion and with tenderness ringing through every note, ‘Today’ brings to mind the soul-baring touchstones of Jeff Buckley, Chris Cornell or Richard Ashcroft.
Speaking about the track, Regent frontman Ben Rooke says:
“I wanted to sit and write a song about heartache and the pain of losing someone. Whether it be a lover, mother, father, sister or a brother.... We all go through low times in our life, and in the middle of a pandemic, I wanted to create an anthemic track that everyone in pain can relate to..”
Bringing listeners bang up to date with where the band are now, the track was recorded only last month and stands as their most recent track full stop. Demonstrating a band in rude creative health and in prolific form, it’s another fine addition to the Regent canon and one that paves the way to their much anticipated debut album: 'Just A Revolution’, slated for release in the Spring 2021.
As with previous singles “Time To Loose The Blues” and “Dirty Little Sinner”, production for “Today” comes courtesy of Brit-Pop mastermind Fraser Smith (Shed Seven).
Taking inspiration from the seminal songbooks of The Beatles and The Rolling Stones and the masterful melodies of their many Brit Pop acolytes, Regent revel in the works of those past masters and carry their mantle on to a new generation. With a string of accomplished singles to their name already, the four piece have received recent airplay across the globe with plays from BBC Introducing, Radio X, Amazing Radio, and even SiriusXM in America. Making waves across the blogosphere too,
Ear Milk have praised Regent’s “authentic sound that could very well become the newest variation British rock n’ roll.”, whilst Gigslutz hyped: “Hallmarked with the swagger and sonics of 90s flag bearers like Ocean Colour Scene, Oasis and The Verve”. Already taken to the hearts of their devoted local fanbase, Regent are now well accustomed to sell-out shows in Southampton, with word quickly spreading to other corners of the UK and beyond too.
Review by John Seales
CD & DVD released 2nd Oct
At the height of their powers in the 1970s and 1980s, Pink Floyd were one of the true mega groups of the time. Still very popular today, their music – notably the albums “Dark Side of the Moon” and “The Wall” – still fly off record store shelves in huge numbers. Roger Waters took the part of their bassist and an enormous creative force behind their best known music.
Us + Them is a record of a live performance in 2018 at Amsterdam, as part of the Us + Them tour. The concert takes the story of a Middle Eastern refugee and wraps some of Pink Floyd’s best-known songs (and also some of Waters’ solo output) around this story, not actually significantly changing any of the music, but instead using it to support a new tale. Waters’ output has often contained messages of anti-war, of equality and of love, and this is the case here, with a strong message of human rights, liberty and love.
The DVD most clearly brings out the message intended, as the visuals permit full understanding of the spectacular multi-media nature of the concert, most importantly the visual storytelling of the Middle Eastern refugee.
The CD, by contrast, does not relate the story so well since it cannot convey the visuals and so it becomes more of a set of (mostly) Pink Floyd pieces performed live – though there is of course nothing wrong with that. Each has its place, and I’ll leave it up to you which is more your cup of tea.
So, to the music. The vast majority of tracks here will be well known to anyone who has had any kind of acquaintance with Pink Floyd’s output. Waters is the only original member of the group performing in this concert, but he has amassed a talented group of musicians around him.
Excluding Waters, instrumentalists total seven, and this means that a very fulsome sound is produced. Although Waters takes on some of the vocals, other musicians also play a leading role in these at times, to good effect. Whilst on the subject of vocals, it is impossible not to mention the two female vocalists who provide backing for much of the time, but who are given full rein at times, and their performance is mesmerising.
The quality of the concert recording is excellent. The music stands the test of time well and fits perfectly with the story. Waters is clearly very determined to get the overall sound how he wants it, whilst giving his musicians some room to manoeuvre, and this can lead at times to the live performance being a very close resemblance to the record, less raw than live performances often are.
Whether or not this is a good or bad thing I’ll leave up to you.
Overall this serves as an excellent record of the Us + Them concert. If you were there and want a record, or if you like Pink Floyd and weren’t there, it’s certainly one to add to your collection.
Bonus tracks on DVD:
1. Fleeting Glimpse
2. Comfortably Numb
3. Smell the Roses
Review by Levi Tubman - Oct 20
Album released 23rd Oct
Ben Harper is a 3-time Grammy winning musician and songwriter from California, who played his first gig at the age of 12. He then spent next 4 decades releasing over a dozen studio albums while writing for, and collaborating with other artists, gaining him a big reputation amongst the music industry and his ever growing fanbase.
This is Ben’s first instrumental album which he describes as “stark, bare bones, just me and my lap steel guitar. It is purposefully produced to sound intimate and spare, as if I am playing in your living room”.
It requires a lot of creativity and talent to produce an album with just a single instrument, no percussion or vocals to fill any gaps. Leaving nowhere for the guitar to hide, but instead of being something negative it really lets his skill and sound shine.
Each track is named after a somewhere, like he’s taking you though a tour of the world. ‘Joshua Tree’ is slow with a sparce sustained notes, its big and empty with short sections of sharp short notes, like the large open National park of its namesake.
‘London’ and ‘New York’ are much fuller faster pieces, two quite different tracks, with London based more around a quick succession of chords compared to New York’s up-tempo riffs. Like the individual people of the city, both quick, full and at times hectic like the cities themselves.
‘Paris’ brings the tempo down over the other cities, it’s a little more carefree, more musical and romantic, with the feel of walking through the streets in the evening.
Slowing further for ‘Islip’, the sleepy Oxfordshire village is reflected by a track that sounds like its slowly floating down the river between the trees and fields, there is no urgency, its settled and relaxed.
‘Islip’ highlights my only small negative thought of this album, some of the tracks are a little too short, coming in at under 1:50, this track feels that it needs to be longer, and I found myself listening to it twice in a row.
But it’s a small issue, as it doesn’t detract from the overall feel of the album. It’s a gorgeous masterpiece, there are no gaps or lulls anywhere, nothing has been put in to fill out the album, and every track deserves to be here, and the range of styles and sounds is impressive throughout.
Standout Tracks –
‘Paris’, the walking musical feel is just warm and uplifting.
‘Islip’, it’s so chilled and flowing, it reflects the place perfectly.
And my personal favourite ‘London’. It’s hard to say why, but it’s a style I love, the chords are warm and full, it’s a wonderful sound
2. New York
3. Joshua Tree
4 Inland Empire
13. Toronto (reprise)
Reviewed by Liam McEvoy
Released 16th Oct
Pixies release their new limited edition double A-side of ‘Hear Me Out’ and Mambo Sun’. with ‘Hear Me Out’ taken from the sessions for the bands 2019 album ‘Beneath The Eyrie’ appearing alongside a fantastic cover of the T-Rex track ‘Mambo Sun’ this makes a great double A-side that Pixies fans should not miss.
‘Hear Me Out’ is a storming track with a driving bass line and thumping drums that really move the track forward. On top of this are the brilliant guitars that gives a feeling of being a western track.
Indeed, the recently released and wonderfully cinematic video for this track is set in the American desert which underscores the western feeling of this tune.
‘Hear Me Out’ is supported by a brilliant cover of the 1971 T-Rex track ‘Mambo Sun’, Pixies put their own spin on this track with heavy electric guitars, rather than the muted guitars of the original track.
Out now this limited-edition double A-side is one not to be missed for all Pixies fans.
Available as a physical release on 12” yellow vinyl double A-side now.
Review by John Seales
Album Released 23rd Oct
This is a reissue to mark the 5th anniversary of Skinny Lister’s second album. It’s being released on yellow vinyl, with new cover artwork. There are also demo versions of each of the tracks that can be downloaded.
Skinny Lister are essentially a folk band. But they are no finger-in-the-ear wailers. They have evolved folk considerably, so let’s hear what they have to offer.
Track1, “Raise a Wreck”, immediately sets out their intentions. There is a steady build and its party time. “Trouble on Oxford Street” continues the spirit of things and “George’s Glass” follows the theme of up-tempo, joyous, welcoming, warm and happy music.
It really amplifies the loss of live gigs as this review is written, because you really want to see them live and fully join in the fantastic party atmosphere.
And then they hit you with “What Can I Say?” - a gentle, reflective contrast to what has gone before. Other more reflective tracks are “Bonny Away” and “The Dreich”.
They do a great job of seasoning the up-tempo numbers and giving you a break before more serious partying, but they stand strong in their own right too.
It just underlines what a great band Skinny Lister is.
“Cathy” has an unexpected, though not unpleasant Proclaimers vibe about it, but this disappears with “Six Whiskies” and does not reappear for the rest of the album.
“” This is War” gives us the lyric “This is War. This is us we’re fighting for” - although written over five years ago, it seems very appropriate to these times too.
Previous reviews (not on this site) have described their music as beer-swilling, which is maybe slightly misleading as it gives the expectation of sloppy musicianship. But this is not the case here.
The musicianship and vocals are tight (in the musical sense, not as in drunk) and fully formed. The music reflects some real joy in the piece which comes across well, whether or not beer (other alcoholic beverages are available) was an ingredient in the mix.
The downloadable demos are – unsurprisingly – rougher versions of the fully produced ones that appear on the final album. There are however some interesting differences (e.g. a syncopated damped guitar on the demo of “Raise a Wreck” that is not noticeable on the final version).
If you are a Skinny Lister superfan or a budding music producer then the demo versions will intrigue you, but most folk I would expect will stick to the final versions.
This whole album is a virtual party. Good music. Good company. Good times. Give yourself a break from reality and have a party with these talented folk.
1. Raise a Wreck
2. Trouble on Oxford Street
3. George’s Glass
4. What Can I Say?
6. Six Whiskies
7. This is War
8. Ten Thousand Voices
9. Bonny Away
10. Bold as Brass
11. This City
12. The Dreich
(Tracks 13 to 24 are digital downloads of demos in same order as above)
Reviewed by Liam McEvoy
Album released 23rd Oct
The Slow Readers Club have announced their fifth studio album ’91 Days in Isolation’ which will be released on the 23rd October on the bands own label SRC Records.
This album is a swift follow up to the band’s previous album ‘The Joy of The Return’, which was only released back in March of this year. Despite this, ’91 Days in Isolation’ feels fresh and is a fantastic follow up to their last top ten album.
Album opener ‘Barricades’ kicks the album off in classic Slow Readers Club style with a very catchy guitar rift that really drives the track onwards. This is partnered with the undeniable vocals of front man Aaron Starkie and the track feels every bit like a Slow Readers Classic and opens the album off in style.
This is followed by ‘Everything I Own’. The track opens with a distinctively Indian sounding guitar before a pounding drum beat kicks in and the track takes on a more classic feeling Slow Readers Club sound with echoing guitars and synths taking the lead.
With the entirety of this album written during the UK Covid-19 lockdown, and put together with the band members at home, this album feels very well put together despite the unusual circumstances of its conception.
Whether it be the swirling synth laden track ‘Wanted Much More’ or the almost orchestral track ‘Like I Wanted To’ to which the vocals are accompanied by a piano and then soaring echoing violins.
Both of their albums released this year, ‘The Joy of The Return’ and ’91 Days in Isolation’ sees this band in fine form, producing a great album under some very unusual circumstances.
2. Everything I Own
3. Yet Again
4. Lost Summer
5. The Greatest Escape
6. Wanted Much More
7. Two Minutes Hate
8. Like I Wanted To
Reviewed by John Seales
Album released 23rd Oct
Some albums you just know from first listen will become like an old comfy chair that you can sink into after a hard day at work, comforting you with their gentle and easy vibe.
This is not one of those albums.
Plants and Animals are a 3-piece group hailing from Canada. They formed in 2003 and this is their 5th album, following on from 2016’s “Waltzed in From The Rumbling”.
The opening track, “The Jungle”, gives us a predominantly instrumental track. Vocals are there, but for this and the rest of the album it’s clear that vocals are just another instrument in the mix – they certainly don’t take centre stage here.
There is a strong groove which is mostly led by electric bass, and some added funk. The second and third tracks provide further groove, with slightly different instrumental mixes. Listening to the album for the first time, whilst doing the ironing (too much information, I know) I can’t keep my body from being taken over. “House On Fire” is my personal favourite on the album, with an up tempo beat and catchy vocal hook.
Just as you’re getting used to the idea of a funk filled groove fest of an album, something unexpected happens. “Sacrifice” starts with a strident six beats to the bar which then resolves into four beats to the bar section. This repeats and you sit up and take notice. On first listen it’s a little unsettling, disorientating, because it reveals a band who are happy to play with musical convention.
The strangeness continues. “Get My Mind” takes us from an airy guitar intro into a dirty feeling groove that becomes ascendant, then breaks down into deliberate confusion, ending abruptly.
“La Queens” has the band playing with discordant pitch, which personally I find the most challenging listen here, whilst “In Your Eyes” is a wah-wah pedal wonder.
This is – as football pundits may say – an album of two halves.
The first three tracks present us with a solid base of conventional groove, whilst for the rest of the album it’s clear that the band want to push the boundaries, and do so with a real level of skill, aided by great production values.
On first listen this boundary pushing comes as something of a surprise, but on subsequent listens it becomes strangely compelling. It demands to be listened to rather than relegated to a background noise.
No comfy chair here, but certainly something that deserves to be heard.