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What Went Down

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What Went Down

Foals

Warner Music Norway

Album number four for indie five-piece Foals, who decided to recruit the services of producer James Ford (Artic Monkeys, Florence + The Machine, Mumford & Sons) to help realise their latest creative processes and thoughts via ‘What Went Down’. What transpires is an examination of a variety of emotions stretched to the extreme in order to test and gain greater understanding; something of which lead singer, Yannis Philippakis alluded to during the album’s construction: “I wanted to tap into my inner madman and feel like I was channelling some sort of fevered creature”. Such words certainly have a ring of truth about them once the album’s title track gathers momentum and draws to a dramatic conclusion with Philippakis bearing his soul.  Despite the intensity of this opening track, the pursuing tracks treads more of a melodic terrain with the soaring tempo of ‘Mountain At My Gates’, and synthpop of ‘Birch Tree’ being two such examples. With the album having been recorded in a 19th century mill in a rural location in the South of France, the surroundings of such a location no doubt played their part considering the reflective mood of ‘Give It All Away’ and sorrowful yet musically stirring ‘Lonely Hour’, as there is real beauty at the centre of these particular songs. With Foals steadily collecting a number of accolades for their work to date, as well as appearing at festivals around the world and headlining those in the UK, the band look set to raise their profile even further with latest album ‘What Went Down’ because despite the raw intensity and robustness of some of the tracks here, the band retain their poise to serve up a balanced long player that should suit fans of old and appeal to many new admirers.


I Cry When I Laugh

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I Cry When I Laugh

Jess Glynne

Warner Music Norway

It’s been a long introduction for Jess Glynne in terms of making her breakthrough with her brand of soulful pop interspersed with dance rhythms, but finally that moment has arrived with the album ‘I Cry When I Laugh’. With 13 tracks pointing to issues concerning (personal) heartbreak on the relationship front and various frustrations that life can serve up, especially with Glynne’s struggles regarding the aforementioned breakthrough in terms of her chosen profession, the voice and music certainly speaks volumes to those less familiar with the name of this rising star. Such a suggestion is somewhat difficult to comprehend considering the grip the hit single ‘Hold My Hand’ has held over the airwaves, and sold somewhere in the region of 350k copies and remained steadfast in the top 5 streamed tracks in the UK since making its introduction. The popularity of said single proves no fluke as the rest of the contents of ‘I Cry When I Laugh’ offer similar persuasions of hook-laden material that is full of details, yet has the ability to be instantaneous in terms of its appeal. Step forward such delights as first song ‘Gave Me Something’ where the vocals really do shine on all levels; the snappy rhythm of ‘Ain’t Got Far To Go’, to the inspirational tone of ‘Don’t Be So Hard On Yourself’ and ‘You Can Find Me’, the latter of which has been listening to some early Prince records. There are echoes of Amy Winehouse with the slowed tempo and ballad-esque approaches of the songs ‘My Love’ and ‘Saddest Vanilla’ featuring Emeli Sandé. By providing a different side to the singing talents of Jess Glynne works to great effect here, and offers variation to the faster and more driving rhythms of the bulk of the material on offer. Whether the quieter introspection is a glimpse of what’s to come if, and when, Glynne chooses to broaden her song writing skills and apply them to a different canvass than the pop genre, then only time will tell. For the moment, ‘I Cry When I Laugh’ provides enough listening satisfaction, and is a well-deserved breakthrough for the artist Jess Glynne.


Perfect For Parties 3

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Perfect For Parties 3

Various Artists

Rhythm Bomb

Jam packed and crammed to the rafters is the compilation album ‘Perfect For Parties 3′. With the odd number of thirty-one tracks of predominantly rockabilly and rhythm and blues making up this compilation album, the decisions made concerning the artists involved no doubt caused a few sleepless nights considering the roster to choose from. By allowing The Rip Em Ups to kick-start this party was definitely the right decision with their piping hot instrumental ‘Killswitch!’. The infectious energy of this opening number permeates to the rest of the album, with the twanging guitar and raw vocals of Crystal & Runnin’ Wild’s ‘You Gotta Go’ really adding to the tempo set, before handing over the baton to the likes of Dale Rocka and the Volcanoes (‘Go Man Go’), The Backseat Boogie (‘Sins and Secrets’) and Marc and the Wild Ones (‘Can’t Stop Lovin’ You’) to keep this particular segment of the party rockin’. A healthy dose of rhythm and blues is added to the mix with the excellent Rusty Pinto and CC Jerome adding much character by way of ‘Mary Lou’, and then followed in similar fashion by Nico Duportal & his Rhythm Dudes (‘When I’m Gone’) and Cherry Casino & the Gamblers (‘Where Can I Put The Junk’). Familiar faces pop up with the longstanding Spo-Dee-O-Dee chipping in with ‘Little Baby of Mine’, and Levi Dexter with ‘Roots Man’, as well as two darker numbers with first, Jittery Jack’s ‘Something Wicked This Way Comes’ and followed by Twisted Rod’s obsessional ‘When I Watch You’. The final statement is left to The Sabres and their instrumental ‘Ride The Savage’, which is the perfect demonstration of how to really celebrate this wild rockin’ party in style.


The Sabres

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The Sabres

The Sabres

Rhythm Bomb

Describing themselves as an ‘American instrumental rock ‘n’ roll combo recreating the savage guitar sounds that ruled the world in the 50s and 60s’ is, more or less, a perfect way to describe The Sabres recent, and eponymously titled album. Where this album differs is when it decides to stray from such a description by applying the brakes and taking a more relaxed approach, or picking from a wider number of musical reference points that make this album more than a straightforward surf guitar instrumental long player. With so much expression crammed into opening number ‘Pussy Footin’ despite only running for a brief time, this particular instrumental manages to spin and twirl its way throughout, in addition to sliding down the fretboard of frontman Casello’s guitar to great effect. After such a dramatic entrance, there is no let up as far as the detailed expression is concerned with ‘Stink Bomb’ sounding like an additional number to a film score, and ‘Hamhocks’ free flowing use of guitar and Hammond organ possessing a real 60s flavour. ‘Tsunami’ really lives up to its title with a combination of surf guitar and drums maintaining a hectic pace. It’s no surprise that a calmer tempo is applied to the following ‘Always Blue’, which is executed to perfection with, naturally, Casello’s guitar leading the way and supplemented with a light, shuffling percussive rhythm. There are moments to ‘Nutrocker’ that really captures the senses, only for the song to take a less desirable route via a nauseating section of 60s kitsch. ‘Ride The Savage’ gets back on track by way of some red-hot guitar, and then proceeded by ‘Chin Tiki Swing’ showcasing the band’s skilful musicianship to wonderful effect. If ‘Chin Tiki Swing’ is not enough for some to suggest a suitable conclusion due to its sheer brilliance, then a cover of Link Wray’s ‘Jack The Ripper’ is definitely a fitting finale to the talents of The Sabres.


One More Time

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One More Time

Rusty Pinto with CC Jerome and his Savoys

Rhythm Bomb

The charmingly named Rusty Pinto who, by the way, possesses a voice to die for, makes a welcome return with the album, ‘One More Time’. This new full-length album is far from being a solo affair as a meeting of the minds occurred prior to its recording involving another talent in the form of CC Jerome and his accompanying Savoys. What the listener gets, therefore, from this combined effort is a blast of authentic rhythm and blues with definite added swing, and one that is often characterised by a vocal that is full of personality. From such examples, the jaunty rhythm and pleading nature of the lyrics of ‘Just One More Time’ smacks you in the face from the off, as this is a tale of one relationship that is heading straight out the door. The lively rhythm and unrequited sentiments of ‘Shirley’ support such notions, and one feels for the central character at the root of this song. There’s a mixture of covers and original songs that make up ‘One More Time’, with Rusty Pinto’s very own ‘Hold My Hand’ among the highlights; being full of verve and (all) eyes fixed on his love that makes for compelling listening. There is a change of atmosphere once the gritty mid-tempo ‘Deacon Jones’ Wife’ rolls out its beat and manages to inspire ‘Stumbling Block Blues’, due to being similar in its approach as well as possessing a driving rhythm that is greatly exemplified by Rusty Pinto’s vocal and fine musicianship. By touching on a series of emotions often associated with love and its breakdown, Rusty Pinto is all persuasive when it comes to portraying the narratives of the characters involved, which combined with the often infectious rhythms sets up ‘One More Time’ as an album not to be missed.


Trouble Train

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Trouble Train

Løiten Twang Depot

Baaten

Produced by Forrest Lee Jr. and recorded at the Cash Cabin Studios is the debut album from Norwegian country band, Løiten Twang Depot. With a forewarning of troubled times ahead by way of the storm brewing as depicted by the album’s artwork, as well as the title itself a dead giveaway to the contents inside, Løiten Twang Depot is a band that is not afraid to tackle its inner demons head on. In order to do this, the five musicians riding this ‘Trouble Train’ cleverly disguise the emotional turmoil of the lyrics by means of country tunes that are often sprightly and therefore fitting of the American tradition when it comes to this genre of music. Evidence of this approach from Løiten Twang Depot is the light feel, musically, of ‘Devil’s Touch’, with nice use of backing vocals, only it’s a song not to be taken lightly due to having its foundations in a particularly troubled time in lead singer Bjørn Flaaseth’s life, but without giving any direct indication here. ‘If I Give My Soul’ presents a different angle by openly confessing a life turned bad, despite having everything at their disposal, and whether redemption is still within their grasp. It’s the calm delivery of the wrought love affair of ‘It’s All Over’ that also follows the tradition of American country music, where the vocals never resort to histrionics in order to relay its tale despite residing in deep despair. A cover of Merle Haggard’s ‘The Fightin’ Side of Me’ sends out its warning as it’s a song full of patriotism, which in the context of the band performing could equally be referring to their homeland. With Merle Haggard among the influences in relation to ‘Trouble Train’, the song ‘Chasin’ The Sun’ is a tip of the hat to another hero, Johnny Cash who receives a more direct acknowledgment via a cover of his ‘Big River’ composition. By writing an album that fits in with the traditional country sound that America has become renowned for, Løiten Twang Depot provide a timely reminder of what country music should sound like given the current gloss applied to this genre in the 21st century.


CHEATER

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Cheater

The Domestic Bumblebees

Enviken

It’s been a while since the last long player from The Domestic Bumblebees, but the wait is finally over with brand new offering ‘Cheater’. Having crafted this latest album for the purpose of catering for ‘good and bad times’, The Domestic Bumblebees turn in a mixed tempo of songs that live up to such a description. It’s safe to say that the first half of this album from a lyrical perspective are the tunes that reflect the down times, with song titles providing such clues – ‘Blue Lover’, ‘Cheater, ‘Crying Over You’ et al – whereas side two lifts the spirits in a flurry of optimism and revelry that is all about ‘Summer Nights’ and ‘Sweet Sin’. There is nothing in the rhythm of opening song ‘Blue Lover’ to suggest that it’s in the doldrums because it’s a driving rocker of a song, with the faintest of links to the American power pop that was popular with a number of post-punk bands during the late 90s. Unusual as this may seem considering the genre in which The Domestic Bumblebees reside in, it’s also an interesting aspect to their music and overall appeal because there is crossover potential here with the band clearly fans of other types of music. ‘Crying Over You’ provides another example of the band’s diversity because its roots are firmly planted in an early 60s vibe of pop and garage rock. The title song, ‘Cheater’, lands on more familiar ground by being a rugged bopper and offers smart and witty lyrics – one line in particular that really stands out due to referring to an infamous sports personality – that simply have to be heard. The built-for-the-dancefloor ‘Matilda’ is full of wishful thinking but suffers as a result of this as it ambles for too long in second gear. Far from dwelling on this as two rockin’ numbers arrive with the first, ‘No Matter What’, being the kind of song to make Jerry Lee Lewis proud, and the follow on, ‘Rock Awhile’, is wild rock ‘n’ roll of the highest order, exemplified by the skilful guitars ringing out their beat and complete with splashes of whammy bar! The quality level dips with the plodding tempo of ‘Sweet Sin’, only for the closing ‘Rocker’ to save the song from its blushes by pumping some much needed life into the album’s finale. By attempting to offer a whole lot more outside of what could be defined as their comfort zone, The Domestic Bumblebees continue to be an exciting prospect, which is evident from the majority of the songs making up latest album ‘Cheater’.


Motion Reverse

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Motion Reverse

Benjamin Finger

Shimmering Moods Records

It’s the halfway stage in a year that has seen much activity from Norway’s Benjamin Finger. In order to continue this creative momentum, ‘Motion Reverse’ is the latest addition with nine fresh tracks detailing the thought processes running through the mind of this Norwegian DJ, producer and songwriter. Kicking off this latest exploratory creative venture is recent single ‘Vocal Limited’ that hisses, pulsates and rattles at different intervals as well as joining forces to give off a general sense of foreboding.  Such emotions, generated by use of electronics, overlaps somewhat when ‘Frontal Waves’ gives the impression of a journey in motion, yet the direction is unclear as sounds flicker and the faintest of vocals can be heard intermittently in the background with the softest of horns that suggests it’s trying to recall lost memories. The probing continues with the subsequent and rather similar in sound ‘Dubstore Light’, only the search is more thorough with Benjamin Finger adding numerous droplets of electrical pulses that give way to moments of intensity where the sound is attempting to hack its way to discovery. ‘Black Hat’ ratchets any lingering tension with an almost metallic feel to its sound and its mood considerably black where sounds swirl and clash in a circular motion. Light relief arrives in the form of ‘Sunny Echoes’ where segments of its sound are lighter in tone, as well as utilising other instruments with what sounds like the electric guitar and giving way to the idea that this particular track was recorded live such is the overall natural vibe. The atmosphere of ‘Spacecore Dust’ is captured to perfection by sounding as distant as its title and then concluded by ‘Dream Logic’ which, despite its ethereal beginnings, blossoms into a glorious sound that can be described visually as a blinding white light before fading and drifting further in the vacuum of space. By creating a fuller sound and general consistency where songs interconnect more closely, ‘Motion Reverse’ functions as a complete album. Furthermore, it is the sound of Benjamin Finger attempting to make sense of the past, as well as trying to fathom the present, which makes perfect sense once this latest album opens up its contents. Quite possibly his strongest accomplishment yet, but then again the halfway point has only just been reached with promise of more to come. Either way ‘Motion Reverse’ is a major step in the right direction for Benjamin Finger.


Brooklyn, I AM

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Brooklyn, I Am

The Satellite Year

Midsummer Records / Engineer Records

Arriving in the postbag recently was the sophomore album ‘Brooklyn, I Am’ by The Satellite Year. With a melodic post-punk sound that incorporates elements of electro and pop music The Satellite Year give the impression of deriving from the very city that is encompassed in their latest album title rather than their actual roots of Saarbrücken, Germany. Geographical roots aside, The Satellite Year know a thing or two about creating a catchy melody that often is graced with abrasive edges. Think Jimmy Eat World, The Lost Prophets and, to a certain degree, Thursday and you’re somewhere close to the influences running through ‘Brooklyn, I Am’. There is much to consider here as The Satellite Year shoehorn in great levels of detail into each and every song with the pace never sauntering. While such a feat is to be admired, the melodic blast of ‘That This Was Wrong’ to the nimble guitar entrance of ‘Early In December’ providing two such examples, by the time the middle section of the album arrives it starts to become a bit too familiar. Despite such a downside, the familiarity is never allowed to stagnate as evidenced  by the sublime ‘Fireworks’ which manages to take a breath before arriving at its meaty chorus, and then followed by ‘In Vitro’ where full marks are given for the band’s attempt to reach for the stars, musically, given the cynicism of the lyrics. As it stands, ‘Brooklyn, I Am’ is not without its highpoints and there is proof here that The Satellite Year possess the knowhow to add variation to their songs, which should be taken into consideration once the band reconvene to commence with album number three.


Hot Summer Nights

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Hot Summer Nights

The Wise Guyz

El Toro

Prolific when it comes to their song writing, The Wise Guyz are back with a fourth album release, ‘Hot Summer Nights’. Charting similar territory to their previous album releases, this latest instalment raises the temperature somewhat with a variety of rockabilly numbers, but also shuffles in a few other influences and ideas to keep The Wise Guyz’ creative pot bubbling. With sixteen tracks to transmit their often wild rockin’ sound, ’2 AM Rock’ is the first offering and what a way to make an introduction! Full of conviction, these Ukrainian cats will be rockin’ until the sun rises because ’2 AM Rock’ is everything its tile suggests as it’s wild, it’s fuelled with energy, and possesses a real sting in its vocal that will raise even the dead into a boppin’ frenzy! Next in line, ‘Crash’ lets the instruments take the driving seat by kicking up a dangerous and menacing rhythm, greatly emphasised by the additional saxophone that adds a real intensity to the song. ‘Miss Chris’ pays its respects to Gene Vincent and really shows The Wise Guyz at the top of their game where guitars are flexing much detail and remain light and surefooted, with howls of derision from the backing vocals every once in a while to accentuate this confidence. A notable difference with ‘Hot Summer Nights’  compared to say, the band’s debut album, ‘Don’t Touch My Greasy Hair’ is that the music assumes a greater role over the lyrics when considering the songs ‘Bop Disease’ and ‘Do It Bop’, for example, where the words are surface considerations. Elsewhere, ‘Rude Bad Boy’ introduces another facet to The Wise Guyz’ sound with rhythm and blues edging its way in and lead singer, Chris Bird, showing his range with expertly handled vocals. Sometimes less is more, however, as the high number of tracks would have benefitted from a little trimming because there is a tendency for one or two songs to get lost in the overall mix. With ‘Sad’ nearing the end of this fourth album, and providing another example of the band’s versatility with its ballad-esque approach reflecting on a love departed, The Wise Guyz provide enough wild excitement and drama to warrant a fifth long player when the time is right. For now, ‘Hot Summer Nights’ is more than enough company to keep those limbs boppin’ to the wee small hours.


George Barnes (2)

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Quiet! Gibson At Work 1938 – 1957 Vol. 1 & Restless Guitar 1952 – 1962 Vol. 2

George Barnes

El Toro

Two volumes celebrating the guitar maestro George Barnes. Volume one ‘Quiet! Gibson At Work’ covers the years 1938 – 1957, with the second volume compiling a selection of Barnes’ work and input from 1952 – 1962 via ‘Restless Guitar’. By compiling two comprehensive albums, the name George Barnes receives a welcome revival as he was at the forefront helping to pioneer the electric guitar during its early years. Not just a jazz session player, George Barnes turned his attention to a variety of genres and earned his stripes by tackling everything from blues, country, rockabilly and rock ‘n’ roll to name but a few.  As mentioned, ‘Quiet! Gibson At Work’ focuses on those early years and really provides a vast amount of material to wade through, complete with comprehensive notes from Dave Penny to provide the historical details. With blues and country jazz making up the first side, before shifting to swing and country jazz, there is much to discover whether from the enigmatic singing via The Yas Yas Girl (Merline Johnson) ‘Love Shows Weakness’; lively country jazz of ‘I Love My Fruit’ (The Sweet Violet Boys), or the blues strum of ‘New “Sail On, Little Girl”‘ (Jazz Gillum) and George Barnes providing detailed guitar patterns from behind. Volume two, ‘Restless Guitar’, tracks the development of the guitar sound where the rhythm is of a different nature and really gets moving with two numbers by Dean Hightower with the early groove of ‘Plunkin’ Party’ and expressive ‘Moon Rocket’ that really provides the listener with an idea of its subject matter. Once more there is great variety on display with ‘Restless Guitar’ that will take you on a romantic ride by way of ‘Harbour Lights’; set you on edge via the tough attitude of ‘Purple Monster’, or create some serious rhythm with the superb boogie-woogie of ‘Pinetop’s Boogie Woogie’ (Lawson-Haggart Rockin’ Band), showing that the works and times of George Barnes are really worth (re)discovering.


George Barnes (1)

Released Out now

 

Quiet! Gibson At Work 1938 – 1957 Vol. 1 & Restless Guitar 1952 – 1962 Vol. 2

George Barnes

El Toro

Two volumes celebrating the guitar maestro George Barnes. Volume one ‘Quiet! Gibson At Work’ covers the years 1938 – 1957, with the second volume compiling a selection of Barnes’ work and input from 1952 – 1962 via ‘Restless Guitar’. By compiling two comprehensive albums, the name George Barnes receives a welcome revival as he was at the forefront helping to pioneer the electric guitar during its early years. Not just a jazz session player, George Barnes turned his attention to a variety of genres and earned his stripes by tackling everything from blues, country, rockabilly and rock ‘n’ roll to name but a few.  As mentioned, ‘Quiet! Gibson At Work’ focuses on those early years and really provides a vast amount of material to wade through, complete with comprehensive notes from Dave Penny to provide the historical details. With blues and country jazz making up the first side, before shifting to swing and country jazz, there is much to discover whether from the enigmatic singing via The Yas Yas Girl (Merline Johnson) ‘Love Shows Weakness’; lively country jazz of ‘I Love My Fruit’ (The Sweet Violet Boys), or the blues strum of ‘New “Sail On, Little Girl”‘ (Jazz Gillum) and George Barnes providing detailed guitar patterns from behind. Volume two, ‘Restless Guitar’, tracks the development of the guitar sound where the rhythm is of a different nature and really gets moving with two numbers by Dean Hightower with the early groove of ‘Plunkin’ Party’ and expressive ‘Moon Rocket’ that really provides the listener with an idea of its subject matter. Once more there is great variety on display with ‘Restless Guitar’ that will take you on a romantic ride by way of ‘Harbour Lights’; set you on edge via the tough attitude of ‘Purple Monster’, or create some serious rhythm with the superb boogie-woogie of ‘Pinetop’s Boogie Woogie’ (Lawson-Haggart Rockin’ Band), showing that the works and times of George Barnes are really worth (re)discovering.



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