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