Sunday, 10 February 2019

Andy Susemihl - Elevation

Andy Susemihl


SM Noise records

German born guitarist Andy Susemihl cut his teeth with German band Accept and
U.D.O. and success led to the supporting of Guns N' Roses on their Appetite for
Destruction tour. Unsurprisingly he knows how to get the best out of his guitars and
now prefers the freedom to play axeman, bluesman or entertainer, on his own terms.
What surprises the listener on fifth album Elevation however, is the top quality vocals
where every word can be heard.

The album has the vibe of LA. It's classic album-orientated, radio-friendly rock with a
melodic vocal. The crisp audio quality is reminiscent of the tunes Paul Gambaccini
played during his eleven year tenure of presenting The Billboard US Top 30 Singles
Chart Show on a Saturday afternoon. He needs remembering for being the BBC's
wheat amongst the chaff of broadcasters.

Elevation takes me back in time to a break from an English Literature essay and
reaching for the badminton racquet (Air guitar was for beginners!), I'd bend the
strings like a pro to Van Halen, Foreigner, Aerosmith,Toto, Journey and Steely Dan.
Susemihl has extracted this DNA of mainstream American rock to write and produce
a satisfying upbeat long player which ends delightfully with his own version of
Personal Jesus.


Saturday, 29 December 2018

Nosound - Allow Yourself

Allow Yourself

Nosound may not be your first choice to select for your workout at the gym.  They are rather more known for their melancholy and introspection and so are better suited for making an impression on your sofa.

Giancarlo Erra’s graceful post-rock songs and articulately pronounced vocals will appeal to fans of Radiohead and Pink Floyd yet Allow Yourself shines as bright as any crazy diamond with a street spirit of its own creativity.  What distinguishes them from their influencers is the interplay of band.  The percussion of Ciro Lavorne from an almost drum n bass persuasion on the single Don’t You Dare to the piano-led My Drug punctuates the ambient keyboarding of Marco Berni.  Judicious use of jangly guitar, cello and violin add to the soundscapes whilst the percussion, vocals and pop-song length tracks (even the longest Weights is five minutes) leaves the listener craving for more.

In defiance of their name, Nosound have worked hard to produce an exceptionally imaginative symphony with a fit and lean running time of 38:44 minutes.


Saturday, 8 December 2018

Vesper Sky - Stewart Henderson, Yvonne Lyon and Carol Henderson

Vesper Sky
Stewart Henderson, Yvonne Lyon and Carol Henderson

For those who lament the dumbing down of some media evidenced by TV shows such as what passes for love island, we don’t have any talent and the questionable factor (no capitals deserved), this album is a glorious antidote of songs, poems, songs with spoken word and poems with music.

Singer/songwriter Yvonne Lyon, who has played with Beth Nielsen and supported Eddi Reader, opens with two strong songs including the title track Vesper Sky which has the cadences of the best that Simon and Garfunkel ever produced.

Carol Henderson who has a background in theatre, film and BBC Radio 4 drama, opens her account with a reading of How Clatter the World against an ambient beat Brian Eno would certainly approve of.

Stewart Henderson, who writes much of the material follows next with the poem Eyes Down, a lament and appeal to the wired generation to “look up and consider this has been entrusted to you so that you do not look down”.

Breakages read by Carol is about forced intrusions into our lives and our own wrecking ball yet offers hope where emotion can find an outlet in word and song.
Humour is introduced at precisely the middle of the recording with Stewart and the jaunty Perfect Fit about not fitting in, expresses gratitude for finding a fit with his partner.

Somewhere in The Library cleverly reveals the nation’s most loved books in rhyme. Yvonne Lyon returns in song with December Coast of Galloway where soft vocals effortlessly blend with piano, flugelhorn and trumpet.  Half a dozen of the twenty tracks threaten to bring tears with the tales of real life laid bare, but the delivery and the humour and the songs, evenly balances the scales.

Poetry doesn’t have to be painful.   It doesn’t have to be learned by heart for analysis only for examinations.  To quote the last song of the album it’s to Enjoy Not Endure.  It’s first use was to remember and convey human history and the brain searches and finds the meaning not only through the sounds of the words but also through the silences.

All You Need Is Love, The Beatles proclaimed. What the World Needs Now Is Love, Hal David recommended, but I’d also advance that words and music especially of the calibre of Vesper Sky, are equally as essential to the human psyche.


Monday, 8 October 2018

Circle of Crows - Everything Comes After Zero

Circle of Crows
Everything Comes after Zero
SaN Ltd

It's been difficult to put pen to paper for this debut from Cornish trio Circle of Crows.  Each time I play its six tracks I drop my pen and wield my air guitar instead.  It also has the charisma that will make them a household name.  How a trio can deliver such a convincing and confident sound on their first recording is remarkable.  It took Sir Paul McCartney, four albums after the split of The Beatles to hit his stride again with Band on The Run.

Everything Comes After Zero has imagination, riffs and solos, and a confident vitality of bands like Audioslave, The Datsuns, The Libertines and The Darkness.  Kyle Gormley sings of themes that resonate across the generations.  "Life goes on, Try saying that when you've lost as much as me" he opens on How to Wait For Nothing.   "I've forgotten how to dream because I've spent so long in the dark" he starts on the slower Into The Sun are anthems that will gather and hold fans like a magnet passed over iron filings.


Tim Hunter - Blue Sky Moments

Tim Hunter
Blue Sky Moments
Northern Soundscape

Behemoths of Rock won't feel threatened by this softly lilting instrumental album inspired by the North Yorkshire coastline from composer Tim Hunter.  Yet on the hottest night in the UK for years, I was grateful to be taken from sweltering bedroom to the cooler space of North Yorkshire by the expressive restrained guitars and synth work, with a rhythm similar to that of Toto's Africa.  

It's an album that could accompany the concept of slow-eating and large family gatherings,  as it lulls and  charms any listener.  Tim's clean guitar playing has echoes of the fluidity of Mark Knopfler especially on my favourite track Fossil Fantasy. 

I relaxed to the pleasant atmosphere provided by Blue Sky Moments, found plenty to admire in his melodies and played it back-to-back the very next day whilst stuck in sticky Friday afternoon traffic jams. 


Sunday, 2 September 2018

Working Life

Shaken from our shallow slumbers
by an unwanted electronic alarm of intrusion.
Peering through puffy eyes at our partner
over breakfast muesli
or toast if there's time.

Despatched from one another with packed lunches
and teas made with love stirrings to
long journeys, sometimes only of delays.
Hard work separated by weekends and holidays
pull at our tethered humanity.

We return home after one hundred and fifty miles
to our island bursting with
love and our belongings bought together.
Our nights of  tv, books and
sofa leanings bring a
deeper love and understanding
through our minds' fusion.

Saturday, 18 August 2018

Orions Belte - Mint

Orions Belte
Jansen Records

Take the plunge and immerse yourself into a retro cascade of Norwegian glacial cool with the debut album from Orions Belte. Hazy, heavy on the reverb guitar, keys not unlike a Wurlitzer organ and a pedal steel predominate the nine tracks on offer. 

The shoulders relax to the laid back lounge rhythms and I have the strange desire to bounce down the road on a space-hopper, to buy  a fondue set (so expensive now!)
and  cover half a potato in foil for that culinary delight of cheese and  pineapple chunks!

Delmonte combines the sound of the Stone Roses with Fela Kuti for an afrobeat endeavour that disappointingly fades after 1:30 but the next song Joe Frazier, 
compensates with the addition of vocals from bassist Chris Holm and slow guitar licks for over five minutes from Oyvind Blomstrom.

Moving Back Again and Le Mans, hint of the glamour and the froth of casinos and Camparis, whilst  Picturephone Blues returns to the afrobeat theme, with a droning bass and an almost psychedelic lead.  Seven-minute standout track Atlantic Surfingis a timeless trippy affair that shows the band can also change up a gear when the fancy takes them.

Alnitak returns the pace to a Purple Rain patter and neatly closes Mint.


Monday, 13 August 2018

Neil Campbell The Outsider – News from Nowhere

This latest offering from Liverpudlian composer Neil Campbell is inspired by William Morris’s socialist and environmentalist novel News from Nowhere which along with much classic literature, is available for download from several sources over the internet.

Neil Campbell produces a euphoric collage of classical and acoustic guitar to match the fingers of John Williams, with added genius in blending the handclaps of flamenco, the atmosphere of harpsichord and harmonium, and prog rock synthesizer flourishes into a satisfying and coherent whole.

This recording together with Morris’s text which it references, throws into stark relief the big questions of our day which must be Campbell’s intention who also comes from one of the great cities of the industrial revolution.  It adds to the impetus ramped up last year by Sir David Attenborough’s address on plastics in Blue Planet II for an urgent rethink of the effects of industrialisation.  Reading the novel supports the need for new visionaries to confront signs of a current malaise in our worldwide political leadership.


Thursday, 9 August 2018

23 Acez-Embracing the Madness

23 Acez
Embracing the Madness
Freya Records

Belgian heavy rockers 23 Acez release their third album Embracing the Madness and I’ve duly obliged, playing it on repeat for days.  Contemporary riffs grab the attention but they are balanced by convincing classic rock moments of both melody and amazing lead guitar fretwork.  The band has diamonds in depth with outstanding vocals from founder and guitarist Benny “Zors” Willaertand and the pounding drums of Louis Van der Linden impress.  I was captivated by the variety of this upbeat rock album and this band deserve more recognition for their melodies, musicianship and power of their well-written songs.  Contrary to Consequence of Sound’s recent headline “Beyonce Reigns; Rock Dies: Coachella 2018”this album is ample evidence rock music continues to defy its critics and continues to evolve worldwide.


Sunday, 29 July 2018

Harsh Critic

...."More Reviews of Flying-V Guitar-rock or your table top gets it's own Comment, Capiche! ..."

Sunday, 22 July 2018

Headphones Review - noise cancelling wireless

KS Kitsound
Immerse Wireless Headphones

How much do you value personal peace?  How much would you spend to get it?These active noise cancelling wireless headphones are the best £60 I've ever spent. Charge them up (3 hours max), flick a switch on the left ear-cup and pair them with your phone by a switch on the right, adjust the volume and you are good to go with bluetooth for 12 hours.

A 3.5 mm male/male lead is supplied for direct connection if required and a USB charge cable and fabric carry case are also included.  They are portable with foldable cups and can slip into a large pocket.  Sound quality is good especially on public transport and aeroplanes where they excel by allowing the music, or hush if you prefer, to surround you. Most noises are subdued, voices remain audible but at a tolerable level.  Memory foam padding on the cups  and a padded headband make for a comfortable wear for periods even while wearing glasses/sunglasses.

During this glorious Summer in the UK, they have given me prized solace and a  restfulness against an onslaught of boy-SUV-taxi-delivery-driver-racers, lawnmowers, drilling/sawing,pressure-washers, low-flying aeroplanes, neighbours with insomnia, pesky blackbirds, and even the banality of tv soaps! 

I have no connection to the company and bought the product direct from their website.  I merely want to share a secret to sanity and a product that pleases.  My wife liked these so much I've had to buy her some of her own, so I can get my own back again.


Saturday, 21 July 2018

The Gloaming - Live at Dublin's National Concert Hall

The Gloaming
Live at the NCH
Real World Records

Transatlantic quintet The Gloaming have established an annual sold-out residency at Dublin’s National Concert Hall.   For their third album, six live tracks have been selected by pianist and producer, Thomas Bartlett (aka Doveman), which captures a reinvention of Irish music for a world stage.

Three times Irish fiddler champion Martin Hayes, and Caoimhin (pronounced
Kvaveen) Ó Raghallaigh on hardanger d’amore (a Norwegian fiddle with extra
resonating understrings) slows traditional jigs and reels, then builds them back up. Responding to Bartlett’s subtle but avant-garde piano and fellow American
Dennis Cahill’s minimal but percussive guitar, allows this ensemble to explore and develop their lengthy compositions to almost classical music impressions.  Sean-nós singer Iarla Ó Lionáird (from Afro-Celt Soundsystem) completes the band by using Irish literature to inspire his lyrics. 

The virtuosity is a given – each member has already achieved success, but between the intuitive interplay, they’ve also managed to keep the intimacy and the warmth for which Irish music is renowned  worldwide.


Tuesday, 3 July 2018

Buford Pope, Blue-Eyed Boy, Swedish Americana!

Buford Pope
Blue-Eyed Boy
Unchained Records

Readers and record companies, there are no hidden agendas at this magazine. This album by Buford Pope came in to me and has missed a couple of deadlines, but it keeps fighting its way to the top of my list on its merit.It’s a laid-back Americana affair that I’ve enjoyed returning to.  His unusual voice sounds a little like the upper register of Chris Isaak and most of the songs here are just as strong as the hit, Wicked Game.

Buford Pope (taken from a film) is also a master musician and he provides effective variety by alternating acoustic guitar, piano, and banjo and even slings an electric guitar for a couple of songs.  The drums and upright bass provide the steady rhythm against which Pope pours out his emotional songs.

Influenced by Bob Dylan, Neil Young and the quieter side of Springsteen, it’s difficult to ignore Freewheeling which although is autobiographical, is also an ode to Dylan in its intonations.  By the artist’s own admission, these songs have been knocking around for ten years waiting for the right circumstances.The finished quality of Blue-Eyed Boy, proves once more, that time can be the perfect ingredient for a recording.

I hope the artist will forgive the late review but in my defence, I’ll quote his own lyric on No Man’s Land – “Sometimes life feels like water, it runs so fast through my hands”.

Wednesday, 20 June 2018

Wingfield Reuter Sirkis - Lighthouse

Wingfield Reuter Sirkis
Moonjune Records

This ‘boy band’ wasn’t put together by producer Leonardo Pavkovic because they could sing or dance, but because he knew each is a master of his musical field.  The collaboration gives improvisation a fresh makeover suitable for the twenty-first century.  It’s almost new age yet employs both jazz and progressive rock ideas.

Mark Wingfield’s signature sound is to push his guitar to the limit by manipulating the notes and pitch into something visionary by pedals, pick-ups and processors that create a cleaner feedback sound whilst simultaneously being able to lay down chords in the background.

Composer and instrument designer of TouchGuitars, Markus Reuter who has built on the premise of fretboard tapping that emerged in the 1950’s, brings his eight-stringed beast of bass to keyboard ambient textures and soundscapes but is also capable of taking his turn in the spotlight of lead performer.

Drummer Asaf Sirkis has built an impressive CV with his own groups The Inner Noise and his own Trio, but has also worked with the Gilad Atzmon & the Orient Ensemble, Natasha Atlas, Polly Scattergood and the inimitable Norman Watt-Roy on his solo album Faith and Grace.  Sirkis says music gives him the legitimacy to be who he really is and the rhythms and cymbal work are enthralling and it feels like he takes the lead especially on the first two tracks of Lighthouse, Zinc and Derecho.

There were no prior compositions of this recording.  The only methodology was to decide which notes may be called upon in each improvisation.  Each musician produces an intermittent signal, a navigational aid for the others to absorb and react to in real time.

Fans of albums that break genre boundaries, and throw the template away, have a new leading light to follow.


Sunday, 17 June 2018

Typhoon ~ Offerings (Album Review)

Roll Call

Offerings is a concept album about memory loss, from the moment of knowing something is wrong, through the stages of fear, isolation, suffering and acceptance.  Its melancholy makes Radiohead sound like a boy band, as a parallel is also drawn from the central character to the state of the world today where we “don’t have public trust and there’s just chaos” (Kyle Morton)

Frontman Kyle Morton’s gift is to confront the uncomfortable truth in detail that one in three of us may develop Alzheimer’s with a warmth and compassion brought from his own experience of multiple organ failure early in his life.

It’s an emotional seventy-minute journey that should appeal to the fans of The Decemberists, Frightened Rabbit, Beirut, Jónsi and Alex and The Flaming Lips.
Choral parts, ambient layering of guitars, piano and strings is perfectly balanced by the more uplifting songs. The contrasting voice of Shannon Steele raises the album to another peak.

Opponents of assisted dying, who may not appreciate the effect of irreversible physical and mental decline may want to take a listen.
One of my favourite paintings in Sheffield Graves Art Gallery is Nemours, Seine-et-Marne, by Henri Eugene Le Sidaner (1864-1939) which is similarly bleak but beautiful, with much to admire.

I could happily die listening to this album but would need to ensure that the hidden track is played, or my last gasp would be my last protest!


Saturday, 16 June 2018

Tank Full O’Gas - Sacrifice Paradise

Tank Full O’Gas
Sacrifice Paradise

Tank Full O’Gas are Dutch brothers, Patrick (T-Fog) and Herald Arkenbosch who are domiciled in Frankfurt.  They’ve hitched a hint of grunge to an indie groove and it works.  The sound is raw and embryonic and T-Fog has clearly revelled in the creative freedom that GarageBand software (sold by Apple) allows.  He succinctly concedes it  “reassures that you can create, plan, finalize and afford it “. 

Not only do I admire the honesty, but I also admire the music.  I wish radio stations would play this choice of music again.  Plaintive vocal harmonies, plenty of acoustic guitar and an indie invention that has been missing for far too long, mark them out as possible future Summer festival contenders, provided they find a bass player and drummer who don’t swamp their sound.


Saturday, 9 June 2018

Steve Ellis - Boom! Bang! Twang!

Boom! Bang! Twang!
Steve Ellis

Of all the doormats in all the towns in all the world, this flopped onto mine. I’m very happy it did, except for a heartbeat, I thought my brother had made the leap from karaoke to compact disc and I was being played.

As soon as I played the piano-led ballad Black Sheep Boy, I knew I was listening to a vocalist of distinction. It’s the same voice which took Everlasting Love by Love Affair to the top of the charts fifty years ago. Like Rod Stewart, Steve Ellis has also looked after his instrument. Boom! Bang! Twang! is his third solo album release in ten years and he is well respected by his peers including Roger Daltrey, Peter Frampton and producer of the album, Paul Weller.

Together they have produced an album with a slick array of styles that has flow, vitality and depth in spades. Soul Trek (Holy Blue) includes strings and trumpets, Sitting in Limbo is reggae. Two songs Tobacco Ash Sunday and Lonely No More could easily have come from Weller’s Stanley Road sessions with their upbeat melodies and a hint of nostalgia.

Life has conspired against this artist but he has shown that the best things are worth waiting for. The gospel-tinged Glory Bound and the haunting Oh Death which would have even Delta Bluesmen murmuring approval, close an album that outshines artists a third of his age.


Lowdrive - Roller

Sea of Green Masterworks

Sheffield rockers Lowdrive present a collection of styles on their debut Roller. Riff-heavy opener The Last Stand is a song Lemmy might have loved with its throaty vocals. Title track Roller heads out to Kyuss-like territory. Fallen Saviour slows the pace before It's not Heaven leads a trio of the best tracks. Endless Rain with its psychedelic opening and involving lead guitar is my favourite. Into the Fire is pure Classic Rock with a bassline that satisfies.

Lowdrive take simple song structures and infuse them with a top-flight, hypnotic pulse. Catch them on tour in March and April as they have great potential to raise the banner of Classic Rock once more after its recent sad losses from its ranks of revered heroes. Rock will endure, provided we support the next generation.


Flutatious - Festival

Magick Eye

Veterans of over fifty Summer gigs, Festival is the first release for Flutatious on Magick Eye after managing everything themselves for their previous three discs. Enlisting John Mitchell (It Bites/Arena/*Frost) as producer has enabled the band to concentrate solely on what they do best to offer their own brand of Summer. Listening to them is like shedding traces of Winter like a snake sheds its skin.

Rollicking basslines and minimal vocals allows flute, violin, guitar and keyboards to dovetail to create cheerful and intoxicating music to move to. Standout tracks are Acid Rain, Joy and Lazy Summer Daze. Best savoured with a can of your favourite brew and the hippest t-shirt you can find.


Sunday, 20 May 2018

The Crying Game

Also known as "One Tin (in the sun) is Never Enough  / Runway for my Tears / Planks of the Dumb

Hot day, perfect for decking preservation but ran out of decking oil with 4 planks to go !

Saturday, 5 May 2018

Lost In Translation ? - Not these two Novels !

I almost always enjoy books that have been translated from another language.  The translator has already recommended the book.  Why go to the trouble of translating and presenting to a new audience if it's a poor story?  I've rarely been disappointed with any of them.  What I enjoy most is the freshness of style and fluency which is often influenced by history and culture.  The best ones are like savouring an unknown banquet of foods or uncorking a corker of a bottle of wine that you want to tell everybody about.  They have taste and impact.

Like many of our meals, authors rush their stories, to meet the clamour of consumer demand and the lists of best-sellers.  Both Sweet Bean Paste and New Finnish Grammar rise above genre and have left a lasting impression that I'd like to share.

If you like culinary TV programmes then Sweet Bean Paste by Durian Sukegawa should whet your appetite. It describes in detail about dorayaki which is a type of Japanese pancake filled with the title of the book.  If cooking isn't your bag of rice, then stay just a little longer with the book and my metaphors as the meatier themes of loneliness, belonging and one very special hidden ingredient is added to the pan, awaiting your discovery.  The translator is Alison Watts, a freelance translator who lives in Ibaraki, Japan

New Finnish Grammar  by Diego Marani, translated by Judith Landry, is a complex read and study of self and identity through the learning of language and an interwoven assessment of what memory is.  It's set in war-torn Europe and the main character has a head injury and has lost not only his memory but also his language and culture.  There were times when I felt I'd lost mine, especially in the Finnish myths, but the hardships of war, the descriptions of port cities, the learning about language and a better understanding of memory and the story of the central character, kept me reading and intrigued.  It's certainly one I'll re-read.

Please let me know of any translations that have impressed you!


Tuesday, 1 May 2018

Tough Day?

You know its going to be a tough day when your table wobbles then spins away from you as you sit down, leaving only half a cup of coffee.
Thanks Costa! :-/

Thursday, 19 April 2018

Therion : Beloved Antichrist

Beloved Antichrist
Nuclear Blast

There is a statue of engineer George Louis Stephenson outside Chesterfield railway station with an inscription that reads “Conquest over space and time”.  It could be equally applied to founder member of Therion, Christofer Johnsson, for this three and a half hours, three disc, three act opera, driven not by steam but by rock.

It’s a loose adaptation of Russian philosopher and theologian Vladimir Solovyov’s Tale of the Antichrist, a venerated book about the coming of the Deceiver.  It is better understood by also listening to the composer himself for his own explanation on YouTube.

He has finally fulfilled his lifelong ambition of writing an opera despite hitting the creative buffers for years by sustaining interest and pace with rock music.  Modern rock combines and alternates with the best hand-picked operatic voices, from bass-baritone to soprano, from solos to choirs and from simplicity to fanfare.

By also overcoming debilitating spinal disc herniations, by coincidentally flying to Moscow, Solovyov’s birthplace and resting place, Christopher Johnsson has completed his own special journey and this aural epic that entertains as well as any music or film, of a similar length.


Red Pine Timber Co. : Sorry For The Good Times

Red Pine Timber Co.
Sorry For The Good Times
Goldrush Records

Don’t try to categorise this band as it’s a slippery slope and I ended at the foot of it.  I was quite sure they were Stateside, and with a terrific horn section, maybe Memphis or Philadelphia.  I was wrong on all accounts.  This 8-piece throng is from Perth, Central Scotland.

Sorry For The Good Times showcases a dazzling array of musical styles with lyrics of grit “The Duke” might have slid off his horse to hear about.  Katie Whittaker in the country ballad Put Down The Bottle, throws down a gauntlet to established Country music stars.  Soulful sax and mournful trumpet hit hard but one expletive and the line, “cause you’re drinking from the Devil’s cup”, hits even harder.

First single, Hollow Tree opens with fiddle, pedal steel and acoustic guitar and sounds not unlike Bad Company, with the vocals of song writer for the whole album, Gavin Munro.  The horn section stakes its claim before handing over in turn to mandolin and with the bass and drums, Southern Rock doesn’t get much better.

Opener, If You Want To is pure rock, Talking In The Snow is pure Americana.  Cutting You Loose could have come from the film Walk The Line and Katie’s last line “Sorry for the good times, I ain’t making no excuse” is out of the ball park.  It’s Gavin’s turn on Bar Stool, a lament in which he “travels light with a heavy heart…done things that weren’t smart”.  Doleful trombone emphasises that “days go by..”.  Get Right With You begins slowly but ends like an impassioned spiritual hymn, “I need shelter from my sins, and Lord I’ve got a few” Gavin sings. Don’t we all?


Sunday, 15 April 2018

Poetry - Disappointing Day

Disappointing Day

It was just after Easter
When I continued a bad habit
Of feasting head first 
on a dark chocolate rabbit,
Which bit me right back 
on my upper right gum
A tooth sheared in two 
leaving me uncomfortably numb.
The mouthful melted...leaving nothing at all,
My imagination induced panic, 
where did the rest fall?
My tongue probed 
the scene of the gore,
Where a remnant swung 
like a saloon bar door.
I moved to the mirror 
whilst trying not to knock it
Dreading the pounds that 
would be leaving my pocket.
Driven to the dentist  
by my long-suffering wife,
The stalactite was removed 
without too much strife.
My mood remained 
like the pain so sore,
As dinner became soup 
at the local store.


Tuesday, 10 April 2018

Ani DiFranco - Binary - Album Review

Ani DiFranco
Righteous Babe/Aveline

If you were impressed by Oprah Winfrey’s Golden Globes speech, then let me introduce you to another confident, self-made woman of integrity who has also spent her life being a committed activist for positive change against the ‘isms we are familiar with and those we may not, like reproductive rights and patriarchy.  Ani believes equality is essential before we can solve the bigger issues. 
It deserves discussion because the pressing needs facing Earth, of poverty, access to water, starvation, wars, terrorism and environmental destruction are too important not to address.

The vocals sound somewhere between Grace Jones and Alanis Morrisette and the staccato delivery, whilst fitting the jazz rhythms well, doesn't offer the variety I was expecting.  The exceptional line in the song Play God about reproductive rights, “Every chance I can, I pay my taxes like any working man, and I feel I’ve earned My right to choose, you don’t get to play God, man, I do”, demonstrates her beliefs and a mastery of the written and spoken word, but I was dying to hear more melody, less words, and a little space to hear more flair from the whole band.

Influenced by Pete Seeger, Suzanne Vega and Michelle Shocked, Ani is not your typical pop star.  She’d “rather be able to face myself in the mirror than be rich and famous”.  It’s a shame there isn’t more like her so that she could relax to include more human stories like the track Pacifist’s Lament (“But there is nothing harder than to stop in the middle of a battle and say you're sorry”) but she confesses herself that “Some people wear their heart on their sleeve.  I wear mine strapped to my boot.”

Binary may not be my first choice for my living room, but as a politician with conviction, she’s my kind of presidential candidate.


Andy Susemihl - Elevation

Andy Susemihl Elevation SM Noise records German born guitarist Andy Susemihl cut his teeth with German band Accept and U.D.O...