Sunday, 9 June 2019

Nick Waterhouse - Nick Waterhouse


Nick Waterhouse
Nick Waterhouse
Innovative Leisure

Los Angeles-based Nick Waterhouse is my kind of artist.  He worked in record stores (remember where you could lose almost half a day?), built up his own collection of 45’s, met Ray Charles and Nat King Cole and then nonchalantly started making rhythm and Blues with a preference for recording in analogue.

Nick Waterhouse is his fourth album and whilst it’s easy to call it retro or throwback it is something much better. Each track has the power and the possibility of a hit single with catchy guitar, piano, horns, saxophone solos, staccato girl-group harmonies and his own Van Morrison-influenced delivery.

There’s no blood in his veins just rhythm.  “I’ve been strolling on the Strasse, strolling on the boulevard” he growls on Black Glass and I can’t help swaying like Ray Charles as I’m driving.  The music is crystal-clear as if the band is right in front of you.  You don’t just hear the walking bass on Which Was Writ, you feel it.  It’s impossible to keep still to this album until Nick’s voice softens and slows for the emotional depth of the ballad Thought and Act.

The instrumental El Viv is as catchy as Tequila (the Champs) - with an extra shot, before Wherever She Goes with its girl harmonies, completes an enjoyable recording offering plenty of variation on the rhythm and unpredictability in the vocal.

NE


Thursday, 23 May 2019

Phantom Voices - Peace by Peace






Phantom Voices
Peace by Peace
Wyre Records

Imagine a time of days gone by when news, song, novelty and stores were eagerly awaited by an expectant audience.  Phantom Voices are the modern day spiritual equivalent of the minstrel and Peace by Peace contains some of the best stories you’ll ever hear.

Many may delight in the mirth of the first of only two traditional numbers on the album.  Lovely Joan triumphs over the “fine young man” offering his golden ring in exchange for his wicked way.  She accepts his ring and he makes his way to the hay but side-steps him like rugby legend Jason Robinson in his heyday, leaps onto his horse and thwarts the try. The electric guitar solo by Daz Rice contrasts with the folk feel of the track and instantly distinguishes the band for their self-belief.

The title track is reminiscent of Prefab Sprout or Deacon Blue, especially in the harmonies and is about vocalist Mike Rolland’s discovery of a British map of Northern France in the closing days of WW1 and who may have held it in their hands.  He sings “But time and time again they killed us, and we killed them, so whoever said war was something anyone could win “ which restates the hollowness of war.

The Red Falcon encapsulates the essence of Phantom Voices.  It blends the darkness of the lyrics with rays of light through the music and vocals.  Acoustic guitar and fiddle set the scene for this four-verse, four perspectives of the mid-December 1959 loss of the Fleetwood Trawler with all its 19 crew, on its return from Icelandic fishing grounds.  Joanna Byrne as The Wife in the second verse makes the listener feel the agony of the waiting, worried families.  The joint male/female vocals in the last verse at the inquest segue wistfully into bars of Silent Night.  It is possibly the best song I’ve ever heard and a lasting tribute to the lost.

Old Ned is about being the hangman of Lancaster who although convicted to hang for horse theft continued in the role of hangman instead for his sins. The Thomas Salto tells of a reluctant Russian gymnast who suffers paralysis whilst undertaking a dangerous manoeuvre during the floor exercise.

Three lead vocalists, an adventurous rhythm section, acoustic guitar and violin potency, and contemporary songs of real substance make Peace by Peace an essential listening experience.


NE

Sunday, 19 May 2019

Queen - Every album, every song (On Track)




Queen  Every Album, every Song (On Track)
Andrew Wild

I haven’t seen the film Bohemian Rhapsody yet despite several recommendations, yet when this slim 140-page volume dropped through my letterbox I beamed.  Sheer Heart Attack is one of my favourite albums and I bought the single Crazy Little thing Called Love but only Andrew Wild could explain to me why.  He calls it “a retro boogie rockabilly juggernaut" and this precision made the reading of this book as joyful a surprise as seeing a kaleidoscope for the first time.

With a critical eye, an abundance of facts (who knew there was a stylophone on Seven Seas of Rhye?) and opinions, he explains Queen’s appeal and simultaneously develops each character of the band through their songs, attributed quotations, and access to the original 24-track master tapes.  There isn’t any place to hide for the author – every generation knows their music and Andrew Wild revels in this type of challenge as he’s also written about Pink Floyd and The Beatles in the same series.

The early years show that Queen were professional in their attitude right from the start spending day and nights on their harmonies. Their first album  was a “Beautifully cut jewel…ready to go” - Electra boss Jac Holzman 1973. Even so, Brian May was self-critical the band  “sometimes fell into the trap of over-arrangement”.  The opinions of the author and comparisons to other bands are mind-expanding and make the book not just for Queen fans but for all music fans.

Wild describes the sound of Queen on Queen II coalesces into three styles, rocker, the ballad, and the anthem.  His detailed analysis of the album track by track has made me put this album onto my wish list.  I hadn’t linked A Night at the Opera and A Day At The Races ( which Wild argues are very similar in content) with the Marx Brothers films of the same name either.

The author also substantiates the similarity of All The Young Dudes (Mott The Hoople) and In The Lap of The Gods by explaining that Queen actually toured with Mott the Hoople.  He also compares Another One Bites The Dust  with Good Times by Chic especially in the driving bass line.  He suggests that Queen weren’t always as original as their singles suggest but doesn’t denigrate the artist but leaves it up to the reader if they agree.  Queen may have taken inspiration from Led Zeppelin , Rolling Stones ,Deep Purple ,Black Sabbath, Abba, Rush, Jimi Hendrix and Chuck Berry but they could hardly be successful in their own right if they were mere plagiarists of all these acts.  It also discounts the music-hall style of a number of songs like Bring Back Leroy Brown, Lazing on A Sunday Afternoon and Seaside Rendezvous. which allowed Freddie Mercury to fully express his charisma in performance.

The book is respectful of the artist and praises them for their intelligent lyrics, harmonies, shifting dynamics, multiple guitar work and recording techniques.  I would have preferred the album artwork alongside the commentary rather than the centre pages to break the book into more digestible pieces but no doubt in common with many factual books, this allows the publication costs to be kept down.

One Glorious Day - Live Aid (13 July,1985) in four pages refreshes the reader why Queen were so revered (they always delivered), why they gained a new set of fans and propels the reader through the second half of the book.

Wild reveals the diagnosis of Mercury with AIDS in April 1987.  His account of the work Queen put in on the tracks that would make up their final three albums before Freddie passed away, gives the reader a fresh appreciation of their music and the personalities of this national treasure.

NE

Monday, 6 May 2019

The Jackets - Queen of the Pill



The Jackets
Queen of the Pill
Voodoo Rhythm Records

Swiss garage punk trio, The Jackets, express themselves with a hypnotic energy and charisma for their second release for Voodoo Rhythm, due out in June 2019. Drawing their inspiration from New Wave, their raw 3-minute songs pack a punch of vitality sadly missing for far too long in popular music.

The album opens with a blistering quartet of tracks that includes Dreamer, the single which was released in mid April.  It has the drive of punk and an air of psychedelia.  They have a confident stage presence especially in the vocals of Jackie Brutsche and have caught the attention of Alice Cooper on his USA radio show "because they just go out there and rock".  Unusually for the genre, it's not nihilistic nonsense but rather an honest creativity with retro experimentation.

The Jackets give rock a good name again.  The music and songs combine as spectacularly as the best of British or American New Wave bands.  Even the slower numbers Steam Queen and Floating Alice display a determination to be different.  Queen of the Pill is a rejuvenating tonic and should be their breakthrough album.


Hearty thanks to Shattered Platter for sharing the music.

NE


Thursday, 28 March 2019

Soen - Lykaia Revisited


Soen      
Lykaia Revisited
Silver Lining Music

Music press can get right up my nose.  Instead of celebrating another great Swedish rock band who have already acknowledged their influences and whose drummer once played for another band, they jump upon one journalist’s comment of “sounding like..” and write only paragraphs to back that up.  It’s the same lazy claptrap that the motoring press said of my car’s ability to undertake motorway travel which has now gone beyond 135,000 miles.

Soen create memorable atmosphere and play a heavy progressive rock/metal.  They offer intricate music with a welcome return to rock with a more commercial appeal in the clean,  melancholic vocals from Joel Ekelöf,  yet balanced perfectly with their own metal riffs that to my ears don't sound like anyone else.

Each track displays catchy song craft, passages that ebb and flow with subtlety from thundering walls of sound to ringing guitars.  Short memorable riffs augment the quality lead guitar work.

You will gather that Lykaia Revisited is a re-mastered version of Lykaia which came out in 2017.  The sound is marginally better and there’s 2/3 extra live tracks depending upon your preference for digital or CD. It’s a shame this re-mastered version didn’t come with a separate full live album leaving the original intact, even if the final price reflected this.  Be assured, both albums are worth your plastic folding stuff,  but the original version finishes perfectly with the eight-minute God’s Acre that fades out to cap the original release.  Drummer Martin Lopez says however, that all the band felt that Lykaia could greatly benefit from being re-mastered whilst also sealing  the Lykaia era perfectly.

Concentrate on the fine music and not the comparisons made by others of this band.   May I thank reviews editor - Lee Vickers, for his personal copy of the 2017 version for comparison and for the opportunity to review and enjoy this updated version of perfection.

NE


Sunday, 17 March 2019

Korpiklaani - Kulkija


Korpiklaani
Kulkija
Nuclear Blast

Neito (Maiden) , the first track from Korpiklaani's tenth studio album is a compelling trailer to a thriller.  Guitar, drums, and atmosphere, demonstrate a determination that they want to be known for more than folk or speed metal drinking songs and the snarled vocals are unambiguous.

Korpikuusen kyynel also has a ferocity but as in each of the fourteen tracks there is also a subtlety and depth whether provided by the accordion, fiddle, or the singing of Jonne Järvelä. He even uses a softer vocal on Aallon alla (Under the Wave) but against an even harder rock palate.  Harmaja is a slow restrained ballad with almost spoken word and tells of a bird that can't fly south due to a broken wing which yearns to return to its homeland.

Kotikonnut (Homestead) is an anthemic track with the accordion of Sami Perttula taking the role of lead guitar.  Kallon malja (Chalice of the Skull) is a ten minute magnus opus that will appeal to prog fans by featuring changes in pace from slow accordion to bass driven rock, to demonic fiddle.  Sillanrakentaja (Bridge Builder) begins with a memorable riff to rival Smoke on The Water, sounds like Maiden or Saxon, cheekily gets their own children to sound better than those in Another Brick in the Wall, and yet still possesses its own aura.

Kuin korpi nukkuva (Like a Sleeping Forest) begins with plucked fiddle, accordion and then morphs into a rocker before seamlessly becoming a tango at the outro.  Seven minute Tuttu on tie (The Road is Familiar) wraps up to show that Korpiklaani have cleverly added the theatre of nostalgia, lament and emotion to their blend of folklore in a beguiling rock release.

NE                               
                                    

Saturday, 9 March 2019

Lucas & King


Lucas & King

Lucas & King

LK

This eponymous debut from the UK's South Coast duo of Bo Lucas and Hayleigh King could have been a hit in any decade since the fifties.  Influenced by the melodies of the past, they are talented Americana co-writers and confident performers who have played Cambridge and Glastonbury, picked up Fender's Undiscovered Artist of 2018 award and have supported Ray Davies on tour.

Assimilating the genre-spanning appeal of Lana Del Rey with the heart of Richard Hawley, they fashion fresh music that will gather new converts through their flair and originality.

They combine timeless pop with an unfashionable country reverb . The close chemistry allows each other the space to explore their own music (Bo on acoustic and vocals, Hayleigh on her Stratocaster) and results in a warm and irresistible debut which will make their dreams of success an outright certainty.

NE

Monday, 18 February 2019

The Frank Burkitt Band - Raconteur


The Frank Burkitt Band
Raconteur
Frank Burkitt Music


Versatility in music style and instrumentation is the distinguishing feature of The Frank Burkitt Band who are based in New Zealand.  I was awestruck by the command of blues, jazz, Americana, folk and swing they serve up on their third album Raconteur.  I’ve not heard such effective variety on one album since Elton’s Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. 

Frank Burkitt, vocalist and guitarist, also writes as well as Bernie Taupin.  On bluesy opener Work So Hard with banjo and Hammond setting the scene, he drops the grenade “If you’re happy with a little, you don’t need to work so hard”.  The jazz-suffused Simple with double bass and cello is about the difficulties of living with an opposite and features the vocals of partner Kara Filbey who also plays the flute on several songs.

Title track Raconteur reveals slow Rhodes piano, acoustic guitar and trumpet while Frank sings as confidently as James Taylor or Glen Campbell, “You always held the room, in the palm of your hand.”

Paint the Town is just as much fun as Paolo Nuttini’s Pencil Full of Lead and if given the same airplay as the current infuriating Baby Shark, it would smack it right out of the water! (I’ve never taken to novelty, sorry).

The song Albert Woodfox tells the true story of 43 years of solitary confinement for murder despite no physical evidence and a discredited witness testimony.  Mourning cello and flute accompany Frank’s tenor voice - “Who did you talk to 23 hours of 24, you staring at a closed door.”

The Gypsy Barber features Django Reinhardt-style guitar and clarinet with its clever lyrics set to swing – “He’s been known to cure disease and broker peace in The Middle East. The Gypsy Barber every week tries harder to make a living going from town to town.”

Folk-fringed Walkin’ Right could have been penned by fellow Scot, Bert Jansch and the a cappella of My Heart Waits completes this album of breadth, depth and talent.  Put me down for their next, please!

NE

Sunday, 10 February 2019

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. 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.

NE

Saturday, 29 December 2018

Nosound - Allow Yourself


Nosound
Allow Yourself
Kscope

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.

NE

Saturday, 8 December 2018

Vesper Sky - Stewart Henderson, Yvonne Lyon and Carol Henderson




Vesper Sky
Stewart Henderson, Yvonne Lyon and Carol Henderson
Self-released-www.yvonnelyonmusic.com

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.

NE

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.

NE


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. 

NE

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
Mint
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.

NE





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.

NE

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.

NE

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.

NE

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.

NE



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
Lighthouse
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.

NE

Nick Waterhouse - Nick Waterhouse

Nick Waterhouse Nick Waterhouse Innovative Leisure Los Angeles-based Nick Waterhouse is my kind of artist.   He worked in record...