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Ol' Drakes Travelin' Medcine Show

Released Out now

 

Ol’ Drake’s Travelin’ Medicine Show

the Harvey Steel show

Safe & Sound Recordings

If you tried squeezing any more musical references into the Harvey Steel show’s latest album, then the ship sent from Jupiter to Earth would’ve crashed and burned once entering the latter planet’s ether due to the sheer weight of the intergalactic space vessel transporting these Norwegian cosmic cats. As it stands, ship’s captain, Thomas Bergsten, proves a steady sort as he, along with his five fellow band members, expertly guides this magical musical vessel through bouts of turbulence and unpredictability that can be described as Captain Beefhart and Frank Zappa-esque, but altogether quite simply the Harvey Steel show. With a swift “Hello” and equally swift “Goodbye” to Ol’ red horns down under via former single ‘Shaky Hand Modifier’ with its short, sharp bursts of indie jazz blues, the band’s sound is definitely reined in tighter throughout the majority of this latest excursion. That’s not to say that the Harvey Steel show ease up on the creative pedal, far from it, it’s more that this six piece know when to shut up shop rather than letting the psychedelia take too much of a (pleasurable) hold. From the opening ‘Michael Hare’s Psychedelic Rabbit’ that scrapes samples of the inner workings of Donny Darko’s mind and projects these thoughts to all those present at a half-empty airport terminal where the standing conveyor belt has no ending, to the part smoky jazz and psychedelic folk of ‘Acid Trip To Spain’ with its eccentricities and sad ending, the band’s penchant for fusing various other art forms with music continues its exploration. Such ideas clash often where darkened corners reveal themselves via the jazz blues-rock ‘Mr Mystery’, but then throw up pretty patterns via ‘Reality Is Ideal’, which is probably the closest example you’ll ever hear of the Harvey Steel show going straight. By the way, it works tremendously! With the old-timey offering served up by the album’s title track, the Harvey Steel show has surpassed their debut album by some considerable distance, due to pulling tight on those creative reins and therefore delivering a more cohesive album yet somehow never losing that magical spark and creative edge that sets out this band as really rather special. It’s time to sample the wonders of ‘Ol’ Drake’s Travelin’ Medicine Show’!


White Desert Blues

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White Desert Blues

The Northern Lies

Lunheim Grammofon

Two years have elapsed since The Northern Lies critically acclaimed debut album ‘Midnight Medicine’ was released. During their absence, the band has evolved into a five piece which, along with original members Henry Johnsen and Håvard Stangnes, now consists of Ida Karoline Nordgård (bass/vocals), Erik Nilsson (keys) and Mikael Pedersen (drums/vocals). With the revised line-up in place, The Northern Lies set the task of writing and recording that ‘difficult’ second album. What transpires since that two-year layoff is ‘White Desert Blues’, which reveals a succession of songs that delve even deeper than its predecessor in an attempt to get to the bottom of the sadness that is causing so many restless nights. With various trials and tribulations providing the fuel for the lyrics, it is the natural elements and scenic landscapes of rugged mountainous ranges of the northern hemisphere, Tromsø (Norway) to be exact, combined with The Northern Lies authentic Americana sound that adds to expressions of loneliness and isolation felt during ‘White Desert Blues’. Evidence of such emotions and cold-isolated conditions can be ascertained from the album’s title track that is nostalgic just as it is confused and lost, which also stumbles accordingly in to the following ‘Wrong Turn’. If the sounds of Neil Young and Crazy Horse greatly appeal, and a vocal that is close to Townes Van Zandt on occasions (‘Too Damn Quiet’), then you have come to the right place as far as The Northern Lies is concerned. Just remember, however, where this band resides because it is a sound that they do well and will leave you yearning for more once the likes of ‘Love’s Lonely Rover’ and ‘Cold-Hearted Town’ touch your heart. It looks like Americana has firmly planted its roots in a far corner north of Norway where the ‘White Desert Blues’ exist and can be heard via The Northern Lies.


Boozin' & Boppin'

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Boozin’ & Boppin

Twisted Rod

Rhythm Bomb

Returning with a second album is Prague rockabilly trio Twisted Rod. The sophomore album goes by the name ‘Boozin’ & Boppin’, and is the follow up to the rather successful ‘Bring It On Home!’ that brought much attention for the band with appearances at some of the best-known festivals and weekenders all over Europe. With an increased level of confidence, Twisted Rod continue their formula for wild and raw rockabilly with ‘Boozin’ & Boppin’ (Well, if it ain’t broke…), but there is a sense of even greater confidence here as songs fly out of the traps at pace, and with great expertise, via such examples as ‘Come On’ and ‘Rock & Roll Guitar’, as well as providing variety in their overall sound with the blues influenced ‘Why Did You Leave Me’ and lighter rhythm of ‘Ol’ Barn Stomp’. It is the intelligent manner in which Twisted Rod tackle their rockabilly by resisting the temptation to plunge for the obvious sound (i.e. ‘Thunder and Lightning’ is not as raucous as one might expect), in addition to remaining humble enough to heed some advice because ‘Baby Me And You Are Through’ could so easily be Marc & the Wild Ones. It’s like they’ve never been a way as ‘Boozin’ & Boppin’ retains much from their previous long player, but with a few added extras that definitely takes Twisted Rod to the next level.


Dylan Mondegreen

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Every Little Step

Dylan Mondegreen

Skipop

The name Dylan Mondegreen will be familiar to those who remember his album ‘While I Walk You Home’ (2007) that was full of melodic soulful pop, and brought comparisons with Josh Rouse and Prefab Sprout. In 2016, Dylan Mondegreen is ready with a brand new album by the name of ‘Every Little Step’. This latest creative excursion is Mondegreen’s fourth long player, and marks a change in tactics when it came to recording as he decided to record the album in a short timeframe with as little help from any studio technology. The end result was ten songs recorded live at Rune Berg’s studio outside of Oslo with additional accompaniment via Olaf Olsen (drums), Bjørn Holm (bass) and further contributions via Maria Due and Geir Sundstøl. By adopting a more simplistic approach to the recording methods of ‘Every Little Step’, Mondegreen has described it as his “punk album”. The change in working methods also sees the inclusion of two songs performed in his local dialect as a means to answer any curiosities Mondegreen was feeling at the time with ‘Mens I Føl De Hæm’ and ‘Slepp Taket’. With the rest of the album being open to a wider audience, Mondegreen sets out his personal insights to a largely indie pop acoustic beat that reflects coming-of-age tales (‘For The Innocent And Young’) and the precarious nature of life as a musician and attempting to survive the music industry (‘Nothing Lasts Forever’). It remains, however, the breezy acoustic simplicity of the song ‘Every Little Step’ that has hints of Roddy Frame in terms of its delivery, and touches a nerve with its honest lyrics that stands out above the crowd here. The decision to create a “punk album” was a wise one by Dylan Mondegreen because, despite offering a personal insight of his own world, the themes brought to light will resonate with many, and likely see this album being played in years to come.


Poor Man's Dollars

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Poor Man’s Dollars (Single)

Rich Evans & The Second Edition

Untitled

Far from this being a new experience for London-based singer-songwriter Rich Evans considering that he’s a veteran of the genres encompassing Americana, blues and folk, in addition to holding an impressive CV when it comes to performing live having undergone extensive tours in America and Europe and released albums for US record labels in Nashville. The latest venture for Rich Evans is the single ‘Poor Man’s Dollars’, which is part of the upcoming full album release this year ‘Left of Laurel Canyon’. The single finds a dual vocal performance that is beautiful in its execution as it quietly laments over the poverty-stricken state outlined in the central narrative, and given further weight by the stripped back feel of the country instrumentation. A strong start for Rich Evans before the main event as ‘Poor Man’s Dollars’ is an intelligent piece of song writing that deserves your upmost attention.


Unnoticed Moments

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Unnoticed Moments

Phi Bui

Eilean Records

A new album from composer, beat maker and producer Phi Bui makes its way on to the Eilean roster by the name of ‘Unnoticed Moments’. From his base in San Francisco, CA, Phi Bui has created an intricate web of sounds by capturing numerous pops and clicks that can be heard from everyday living, to the cutting and pasting of snippets of music taken from styles ranging from jazz, hip-hop and classical music for example. The results are impressive with, in particular, ‘Helping’ successfully combining a jazz rhythm with cut up beats lifted from a modern sounding era, and one that rubs coarsely against the smoother textures of the aforementioned jazz instrumentation. A demonstration of further influences arrives via the operatic vocals and looped beats of ‘Doubt’, which aptly expresses its title. There are ethereal qualities attached to the likes of ‘Birth’ which nags with its constant static interference, to the clearer yet still fragile  ‘A Klee’. There is greater range here in relation to some of Phi Bui’s contemporaries as the oriental twist of ‘Une Femme’ throws a curveball with its broad strokes of sound thrown sharply across its canvass, only to be interrupted by the banging and clashing of metal objects at various intervals. It is in those ‘Unnoticed Moments’ that seemingly much is going on, which is expertly brought to our attention via Phi Bui’s latest creation. Top marks indeed.


Howlin At The Moon

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Howlin’ At The Moon

A.J. & the Rockin' Trio

Rhythm Bomb

Coming from a far sunnier climate and with a rockin’ beat to match the scorching temperatures of their native Portugal is A. J. & the Rockin’ Trio and their debut album ‘Howlin’ At The Moon’. A passionate and raw rockabilly sound that reveals itself from the start with the trio of songs ‘Waiting For You’, Hot Rockin’ Mama’ and ‘She Do The Bop’. However, there is more to this four-piece band than simply creating a wild racket as indicated by the excellent ‘Lonesome Sinner Blues’ with its welcome interruptions of brass instrumentation, to the sultry rhythm of ‘Hey Senorita’, and appropriate Western (film) flavour of ‘Gunfight At O.K. Corral’. The rockabilly maintains its pace however, and reveals A.J. & the Rockin’ Trio as true experts in their field with such infectious delights as the boppin’ ‘Baby Baby’ and detailed textures of ‘Miss Bobbie Sox’. With a dry sense of humour closing this set via ‘Even The Blues Don’t Wanna Get Along With Me’, this album is highly recommended if you enjoy your rockabilly on the wild side but also one that has the nous to change direction every so often to add variety in terms of its output.


The Weather Vane

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The Weather Vane

Coral Lee Farrow

Rhythm Bomb

Apparently known for her blue eyes and Australian passport, there is far more to Coral Lee Farrow once the contents of her sophomore album infiltrates your senses and works its way deep inside your soul. For this is an album full of musical promise with its various temptations and influences ranging from rockabilly to swing to country to tempt your musical senses. The laidback intro of ‘All I Can Do Is Sing’ is the perfect start to this album, in fact any album, as Coral Lee Farrow consigns a relationship to its past where the lyrics talk of its history, just as much as the instruments play their part in relaying this particular story. Elsewhere, ‘Big Wide World’ chugs out a mild rockabilly beat with some fine guitar and steel guitar making their marks on this song. The open heart confessions of ‘My Sweet Baby’ reveal a song with nothing to hide, and it’s a delight to hear with the vocals raw and passionate and the song’s rhythm chipper in its expression. Later on you will hear songs about the blues, complete with handclaps (‘Black Cat Blues’), and joyous occasions that involve ‘Boppin’ On The Moon’, and probably a first in terms of naming a song ‘Rodney’, which sounds far more glamourous than its name suggests with its details regarding “waiting for the train to Sydney…”. ‘The Weather Vane’ is a record that remains loyal to the various genres incorporated in its sound, but it is one that brings a freshness to its lyrical themes, and that is to be applauded.


Snakes In Blossom

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Snakes In Blossom

Angertea

Inverse Records

Returning with a ten-track album, and the fifth in their career to date, is Angertea. The alternative rock and metal band provides an honest account of their emotions with songs focusing on issues concerning depression, helplessness, love and corruption in modern-day society. With a number of the ten tracks featuring a series of guest musicians including Franz Stahl (ex-Foo Fighters, Scream), Robert Jaksa (Ektomorf), Flóra Sarusi-Kis, Dióssy Ákos (Kipál És A Borz) and Peter Csontos (The Void), Angertea’s latest album, ‘Snakes In Blossom’, never sounds disjointed considering the extra personnel involved. With the band citing their sound as “experimental grunge metal with unique features” and being an apt description when listening to the Alice in Chains meets Soundgarden ‘Snakes’, and then, ‘Sinking In Strain’, which has hints of Tool for example. The changing nature of the music does not end there as ‘Aquarium’ slows the tempo with its softer approach of folk and alt-rock that works to great effect with the vocals of guest singer Flóra Sarusi-Kis complementing the normal vocal duties of Angertea’s Gergő. It’s a fine song, and one that greatly stands out here. Normal service is resumed with the experimental grunge and lengthy ‘Orange Machine’. The band know, however, when balance is required and they certainly address this with the lighter soundwaves of ‘The Moon Encounter’, before ending in a crescendo of noise via the closing ‘Tisza’. ‘Snakes In Blossom’ is a clear reminder of the talented musicianship of this Hungarian trio, who manage to further their own ideas with a little help from their friends via their latest collection of songs.


Aloha

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Aloha

Surfin' Gorillas

Rhythm Bomb

Surfing the waves for another outing is the Surfin Gorillas and their current album ‘Aloha’. What the listener gets is a track list of largely rip-roaring surfin’ instrumentals consisting of original compositions and covers. The difference here is that ‘Aloha’ introduces vocals on a few of the tracks, and in the process reveals another dimension to the band. Kicking things off is the excellent Dick Dale inspired ‘Riptide Surfer’, with the Surfin’ Gorillas very own guitarist Andy Wren being responsible for this particular track. From there on, the tracks range from the well-known ‘Move It Baby’, to the energised version of Curtis Knight & the Squires (featuring Jimi Hendrix) ‘Hornet’s Nest’. The song writing skills of Andy Wren pop up again for the lively and infectious ‘Beach Party’, before more original compositions crop up via drummer Gary Griffin with the speedy rhythm of ‘Surfin’ Crazy’ and title track, ‘Aloha’, that is particularly memorable for some fine sax via Clive Osborne. Totalling fifteen tracks, there is plenty of old school surfin’ sounds to take in and enjoy because there is far more on the up here than on the down.


Strays

Released 15 April

 

Strays

Womack

Secret Entertainment

Located in Forssa, Finland, you will find a four-piece band by the name of Womack. Rather than this being a new project, Womack has been in existence since 2010, with one EP, ‘Year Of The Dog’ (2011), and album, ‘Prehab’ (2014), to their name. This, however, is about to change with the release of a brand new long player ‘Strays’, which arrives after a line-up change that saw drummer Jasak Leino depart as well as a change in musical direction for the time being at least. The inspiration for this newfound direction of a pared back sound came from the band’s live performances where they received a flood of positive responses from their fans. Such encouragement led to Womack incorporating this acoustic sound in their latest record ‘Strays’, and the results are impressive. From the gradual climb of opening song ‘Ain’t No Thing’ where Henrik Haarlo’s vocal really captures the moody atmosphere of the song rather well, to the fuller sound of ‘Stumble On’ which is emphasised by use of Hammond organ more or less throughout. ‘Snakebites’ shows off Womack’s knack for song writing with clever lyrics reflecting various guises of betrayal during this mid-tempo number. There is a definite live feel to ‘Home Brew’ as it sounds raw in its execution both musically and emotionally, before giving way to the far greater band involvement of album highlights ‘Light Up The Stage’ and ‘Flight To The Sun’. It appears that Womack’s supporters were definitely on to something when giving their full support to a largely acoustic album as ‘Strays’ is full of detail and never loses its edge due to the enthusiasm and energy of its band members.


Origin

Released 5 May

 

Origin

The Hypothesis

Inverse Records

For those in the know, The Hypothesis formed during a severely cold winter in Kouvola, Finland, which seems to provide a reminder for the band in terms of the manner in which they roll out the contents of their debut album. Whilst nothing can be described as light in tone here, considering the level of heavy crunching riffs and pummelling drum sounds, The Hypothesis allow for additional ideas to creep in to their overall sound with numerous melodic touches added to their grooves. Evidence of these ideas can be heard from their new album, ‘Origin’, that was given the upmost care and attention to detail during a recording stint in 2012 deep in the heart of the Viitasaari countryside as the band laid out their nine tracks. Former single ‘Eye For Eye’ is one that stands out for its flittering electronic intro before launching headfirst into a full-on assault of guitars, drums and roaring yet gruff vocals of Antti Seppälä. From such songs, The Hypothesis show their range by combining heavy textures with more melodic moments and a greater willingness to experiment with songs such as ‘Weak Story’ and ‘Atonement’. There is no doubting the dexterity of their musicianship as The Hypothesis often deliver an uncompromising sound but one that reveals extreme levels of detail that should see this five-piece unit garnering a whole host of new supporters once ‘Origin’ makes its entrance to a wider market.



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