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Geechie Goomie: Rhythm and Blues Gone Caribbean

Various Artists

Koko Mojo

A clutch of sophisticated tracks has been chosen for this compilation album consisting of various artists that make up this rather cool and collected long player by the name of ‘Geechie Goomie: Rhythm & Blues Gone Caribbean’. From the off Geechie Goomie: Rhythm & Blues Gone Caribbean’ will appeal to the vinyl connoisseurs among us due to its 10” album format. Despite the appealing presentation of this LP package, it remains the contents inside that rightly attracts the most attention, and for good reason, when blessed with Latin American influences via the moving upbeat tempos of ‘Voodoo’ supplied by Red Callender Sextet and wild and carefree rhythm of Chris Powell & His Blue Flames’ ‘I Come For Jamaica’, with both songs receiving extra points for their use of brass instrumentation. Providing sterling jobs elsewhere are back-to-back numbers ‘Within This Heart of Mine’ and ‘Where Were You’ where the vocal performances of Camille Howard and Jimmy Rushing respectively shine the brightest. Such feats are repeated via the smooth running of The Talbot Brothers of Bermuda and ‘Bermuda Buggy Ride’ and, always reliable, Dave Bartholomew & His Orchestra with ‘Cat Music’. Brimming with ideas and possessing a real vigour as far as many of the rhythms go, ‘Geechie Goomie: Rhythm & Blues Gone Caribbean’ is a record to get lost in as well as appreciate for its sheer sense of class.


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Movin

Shaun Young and The 3 Ringers

Rhythm Bomb

Arriving only recently at FLW is the already available ‘Movin’ by Shaun Young and The 3 Ringers and The Texas Blue Dots. Issued on both CD and 12” vinyl, ‘Movin’ is a collection of songs split between the two guises of The 3 Ringers and The Texas Blue Dots, but with most songs going to The 3 Ringers. With the album being recorded and produced by Shaun Young at Jet-Tone Studios, Austin, Texas – “The Speed of Sound”, the quality really shines throughout this release. From rockabilly influenced numbers ‘Things Will Never Be The Same’, to an amalgamation of said genre with a strong hint of blues powering ‘When You Do That’, and then rounding off with the rock ‘n’ roll ‘Knockout’, Shaun Young with his cohorts is never one to sit still for a moment. Such a notion can be gleaned from the modern touches applied to this album, despite the album retaining a definite authentic feel overall, because ‘Movin’ never gives the impression of holding a desire to go back to the 50s as it’s a record that sounds perfectly at home in the present. With song titles and lyrics suggesting much heartache and longing for better times (‘Things Will Never Be The Same’, ‘Drink Till I Can’t Feel The Pain’, ‘My Heartaches Been Confirmed’, etc) Shaun Young (and bands) has/have a real way of convincing its audience via such tearjerkers as ‘I Plead The 5th’, to the more hopeful ‘More Than Any Tongue Can Tell’ with its mashup intro of Tom Petty meets Buddy Holly’s ‘Peggy Sue’. The contents of ‘Movin’ are a delight to behold and provide enough evidence that rockabilly is alive and well in Austin, Texas.


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Hold My Hand

Ecovillage

Eilean Records

Limited to a mere 130 copies is the new album from Ecovillage. ‘Hold My Hand’ is the latest creation from collaborators Emil Holmstrom and Peter Wikstrom. Despite working together since 2001 on different music projects, it wasn’t until 2006 that the pair decided to set up Ecovillage after a period of travelling around South Asia and being inspired greatly as a result of this trip. With several albums already to their name, Ecovillage issue album number six, ‘Hold My Hand’, with a “less is more attitude” that sees the creative duo let go of any past constraints in terms of creating their music and allow for a more minimalist approach. Such working conditions in terms of ‘Hold My Hand’ are evident from the beautiful artwork with its bright colours gracing its cover where nature is expressed in a patchwork/jigsaw effect, to the ambient music flowing from its contents. If you’re searching for peace and tranquillity then you’ve come to the right place as ‘Remember The Sky’ opens a doorway to a quiet corner of the world where there is a secluded beach and only nature’s inhabitants for company set to a gentle acoustic guitar and the barest sound of a piano. Other tracks such as ‘Heaven In Your Eyes’ offer a more melancholic feel yet capture the senses equally with its cello taking a star turn, only for the mood to swing via the liquid gold impression of ‘Novus Lux’. There’s a fine balance created by Ecovillage and ‘Hold My Hand’, where the cello often brings out the darker atmospherics lingering in the background, but there remains much light as well and therefore capturing the different moods no doubt experienced when the previously mentioned journey helped to inspire this latest album.


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Illuminate

offthesky

Eilean Records

Described as an “experimental sound artist” is offthesky (all lowercase). Such a label is a fitting description once the contents of latest album ‘Illuminate’ begins to unravel its tapestry of piano, synths, percussion, cello, oboe, viola, violin, sax and pretty much the whole kitchen sink (!), where it soon becomes apparent that much thought and attention to detail has been considered. This becomes clearer once the background details of current album ‘Illuminate’ reveal that it began its inception during autumn 2017 and was spread out in terms of its recordings with stints in Denver and Kentucky and the European destinations of Latvia and Poland. It wasn’t until two years later that the recording of ‘Illuminate’ was completed. With offthesky presented as the solo work of Michael Jason Corder, the new album includes a variety of musicians who offer their skills. As often with Eilean Records, the music is often a purely instrumental affair, but every now and again you will hear the faintest of vocals, something of which is utilised during ‘Illuminate’. As mentioned already, the sounds are often experimental and lean towards ethereal sounding compositions (‘Eyes Like Isles’) or moody reflective numbers such as ‘Future Fire’, held together by a compelling saxophone. There is often the suggestion of late-night wonders under moonlit skies (depending on your interpretation of course) via dreamy ‘Neon Aeon’ and more tense ‘Monomystic’ with its shades of folk music. Having released a mammoth number of albums, latest addition ‘Illuminate’ is another strong and moving record to add to the catalogue of offthesky.


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Crossing

Seabuckthorn

Eilean Records

Clocking up an impressive eight studio albums is Seabuckthorn otherwise known as Andy Cartwright. With latest album ‘Crossing’ finding a home at Eilean Records, Seabuckthorn gets to showcase fourteen new tracks of instrumental passages. Beginning with ‘Crossing’ where its use of bowed resonator guitar certainly grabs all of the attention as it vibrates loudly and can still be heard echoing faintly on occasions during the following, yet far quieter, ‘Premonition. The picking, sliding and scratching of strings continues and blossoms to fuller effect during the daylight breaking ‘The Cloud And The Redness’. As mentioned, with fourteen tracks to fall on, there is much to consume here, and for Seabuckthorn to explore, which shows via the faint synths and use of bow grinding across strings, albeit in the same faint sounding manner, and allowing for much reflection during ‘The Observatory’. ‘The After Quiet’ offers something quite different with its sounds illuminating like a flashing beacon cast adrift at sea. The introduction of banjo and percussion (‘Cleanse’) adds further dimensions to the overall sounds and reveals further talents of the musicianship of Seabuckthorn. ‘Crossing’ is an album that requires repeat listens due to the detail on display, but once these details become more known, you will not be able to let this album go.


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From The Void

Chronoform

Inverse Records

It’s good to be out of the comfort zone occasionally, and that’s exactly where ‘From The Void’ places the listener. A truly gritty and on the edge debut album from Finnish modern metal band Chronoform, ‘From The Void’ fills in the spaces with combined influences of traditional and modern elements of the metal genre. With this being the band’s debut LP, Chronoform make a dramatic entrance from the start via the bone crushing assault that is ‘Conquer’, which pummels the senses in a combined assault of throaty vocals (Niko-Petteri Westerholm), frenetic drumming (Vänni Panula) and dexterous guitars (Aapo Hakamaa and Eero Mäkiranta) that give the impression of providing a route away from the considerable “threat” at the centre of this track. The accompanying video referencing George Orwell’s 1984 and other similar works such as V for Vendetta, expands ‘Conquer’ further by adding a finale that floats on a beautiful segment of piano and one that is bathed visually in red smoke and a reminder of what the future may hold. Unfortunately, the distraction is temporary as the rest of the contents of ‘From The Void’ reveals. Just as ‘Conquer’ made a dramatic entrance, ditto ‘Sight of Eternity’ that continues the previous song’s theme yet really highlights those expansive elements of Chronofrom’s sound where the shift in gears is evident from the vocals to the riffs coming thick and fast, but then opening up a surprise package midway through with airy electronica. It’s utterly compelling from start to finish and a sign of major talent at work. From such details, ‘Purist’ offers further experimentation with subtle use of keys and the ‘noise’ turned down slightly, yet never loses its raw edge. Elsewhere, ‘Dusk’ highlights once more Chronoform’s skilled craftmanship as they generate a bile-induced racket that is the sound of a band turning itself inside out whilst drilling its message deep inside the listener’s cranium. The closing ‘Subatomic’ expands on its predecessor by adding traditional elements of metal via its guitars with the modern touches, but it is these newer ingredients that standout here because it’s the sign of band looking to the future in terms of direction. Despite the lengthy gestation it has taken ‘From The Void’ to finally raise its head, the wait has been truly worthwhile because Chronoform has delivered a debut record of high quality, and one that reveals genuine sparks of imagination that rub shoulder to shoulder with the modern and traditional forms of the metal genre as it bleeds from the top down in a compelling noise and revealing a real tour de force at work.


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Pretty Little Horses

The Oldtime Stringband

The Oldtime Stringband

There’s an old-time feel to the music stemming from the Netherlands these days. Well, if your band’s moniker is The Oldtime Stringband that is. With the living and recording quarters situated somewhere in the vicinity of Amsterdam, The Oldtime Stringband has developed an authentic take on bluegrass music with links to Americana and folk seeping into the mix as well. With three previous albums to their name and originally “…formed as a musical backdrop to a documentary about the cow-painter, Ruud Spil”, The Oldtime Stringband issue a fourth album by the name of ‘Pretty Little Horses’. Beginning with ‘Cluck Ol’ Hen’ and followed by ‘Old Yeller Dog’, the scene is set for tiny outpost communities situated in the outback (of your choosing) where lands are worked by day and music, storytelling and consumption of the local hooch are partaken in by night. The aforementioned song duo really brings to the fore The Oldtime Stringband’s qualities for delivering a genuine old-time sound that could be playing to an audience during the 1700s or earlier such is the attention to detail where the focus is bluegrass with heavy folk leanings. From such a latter reference, the album’s title track is traditional folk and performed as a lullaby with beautiful, tender vocals supplied by Shelly O’Day and supported by the faintest trimmings of acoustic guitar, mandolin, upright bass and banjo. It’s the jewel in the crown here! Elsewhere, the four-piece band deliver a fine instrumental with ‘White Face’, and then follow with the warm and full of character ‘Old Man At The Mill’, before concluding with ‘Long Black Veil’; a reflective and tearstained duet delivered with conviction. A fine end to a more than fine album that sees The Oldtime Stringband firing on all cylinders.


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Love Is A 4 Letter Word (Single)

Joakim Tinderholt & His Band

Rhythm Bomb

Bringing the blues and rhythm and blues sound up to date, yet retaining a strictly vintage sound, is Joakim Tinderholt & His Band and their latest single ‘Love Is A 4 Letter Word’. With two long players to his name, this latest creation finds Tinderholt in tender mode with a nice, clever spin on the interpretation of the “…4 letter word” at the centre of this song. Strictly limited to 500 copies, those who’ve been following Joakim Tinderholt & His Band since their inception will be fully aware of the flipside to this 45” ‘You Gotta Do More’, which offers a powerhouse in the shape of the vocals with no suggestion of it working overtime. Supporting this natural talent is a crisp, lively beat that is rock ‘n’ roll tinged with blues. Naturally, comparisons will be made with that other major namesake JD McPherson, but if you can allow space for one more in your heart, then love is a 4-letter word in its truest form.


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For Gangsters and Lovers (EP)

Johnny Guitar Watson

Koko Mojo

Coming out of Texas was the guitar maestro and singer Johnny Guitar Watson. Having started out learning to play the piano from a young age, Watson made the move to performing on guitar after his grandfather purchased said instrument when his grandson was eleven years old. However, despite the newfound love for guitar playing, it was the piano that provided Watson’s first breakthrough in terms of entering the music industry where he cut his first records for Federal (1952) under the moniker Young Johnny Watson. The “Guitar” segment entered Watson’s stage name once a screening of Joan Crawford’s ‘Johnny Guitar’ had been seen, and then subsequent releases for Class and King Records to name but two. He was renowned for his flamboyant styles of dress and wild antics on stage, which is not difficult to comprehend considering the varying styles presented via the EP ‘For Gangsters and Lovers’. While it’s a rhythm and blues and strong blues record, it remains the interesting way Johnny Guitar Watson trades these styles. For example, one moment it’s the rhythm and blues/rock ‘n’ roll mash up of ‘The Bear’ that grabs you by the shirt collar, then to be greeted by a laidback, heavy blues guitar during ‘She Moves Me’, which slowly gathers some momentum yet remains utterly compelling due in large to Watson’s ability to captivate one’s attention with his vocal. ‘Gangster of Love’ is universal knowledge by now and has lost none of its appeal. The final cut ‘Hot Little Mama’ is high on tension where you can hear Watson almost strangulating the neck of his guitar and living up to that “attacking style” he was renowned for. It’s a breath-taking finale and one that offers further evidence of the exciting talent that was Johnny Guitar Watson.


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Larry Williams (EP)

Larry Williams

Koko Mojo

Giving the title of this record to its creator speaks volumes about the artist because there’s no real introduction required here as the singing talent that was Larry Williams should be known by all. Outside of the music and leading up to his introduction to the world of rock ‘n’ roll, Williams life was equally compelling as he dabbled in numerous illegal activities as well as serving as a chauffeur for then Speciality recording artist Little Richard. Captured on wax are four rock ‘n’ roll burners that clearly remind of the wild talent that was Larry Williams, but also serve as a reminder of the major success this artist experienced during the late 50s. It is the two leading tracks – ‘Short Fat Fanny’ and ‘Bony Maronie’ – that proved major breakthroughs for Williams, with both songs riding high on the R&B and pop charts. Following on from these two rockin’ numbers is the pick of a very fine crop with the molten hot ‘Slow Down’. Concluding this four-track EP is ‘Give Me Love’ that sounds cutting-edge for its time due to possessing early 60s influences before reaching that decade. The rest is history as far as the music career of Larry Williams is concerned as darker days ensued where the criminal underworld proved a bigger lure than securing future recording contracts once the doors of Speciality closed shut.


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Sweet Thing

Bonita & The Blues Shacks

Rhythm Bomb

After a stint in the shade, Bonita & The Blues Shacks make a return with album number two. The latest creation ‘Sweet Thing’ arrives after the eponymously titled debut back in 2015 and continues with the same line up consisting of one of Europe’s finest, B. B. & The Blues Shacks and up-front Bonita supplying the vocals. With the new album being made up of carefully selected cover songs and original compositions, in addition to mixing up the overall rhythm and blues sound with elements of soul, jump blues and more traditional stylings, Bonita & The Blues Shacks really get to work with a total of sixteen tracks. From such mammoth pickings, it’s the opening ‘He Made A Woman Out Of Me’ that raises attention due to its leanings towards soul music and is a bold choice to begin with, and then followed by what sounds like a soul track judging by its title (‘Momma’s Goin’ Dancin’) lets the blues in via some deft guitar playing and adds the element of surprise. ‘Hottest Wings in Town’ continues the blues workout and offers a streetwise perspective both in sound and lyrics. There’s great duets to be had here as well with the engaging ‘So Close’, which happens to be one of their own, and then followed by the resurrected archive of ‘That’s My Baby’ rolled out in more traditional guise and all the better for it. It’s certainly a mixed bag of styles that flows throughout the album ‘Sweet Thing ‘and therefore offering something for all blues and rhythm and blues supporters, but when the traditional route is given some airtime, then it’s where Bonita & The Blues Shacks truly shine.


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Edge of Love (EP)

Lisa Redford

Bandcamp

These are exciting times for singer-songwriter Lisa Redford. With a new EP released by the name of ‘Edge of Love’, consisting of five tracks containing a blend of Americana, country, folk, soul and classic pop, the future certainly looks bright for the Norwich based artist. Despite any optimism felt in terms of the upward trajectory of the career of Lisa Redford, there are telling signs that all has not been well. The giveaway is the poignant quote adorning the new record sleeve where, “Tears are words that need to be written,” (Paulo Coelho). Seemingly taking this onboard, one of the UK’s closest exports to creating an authentic country sound projects such sadness through the songs gracing ‘Edge of Love’. It all begins with ‘Anything But Easy’ that is similar in style to Redford’s earlier release ‘Another Place and Time’ where the tempo is upbeat, yet lyrics reveal the complexities of an intimate relationship. The EP’s title track is a stirring ballad and one that casts a shadow over the subject matter as it approaches with caution and given further emphasis by the musical accompaniment of piano, cello and compelling vocals. With this being the sole track to offer a hint of optimism as far as love is concerned, despite its reservations as well, the remaining songs depict breakdowns in communications and the inevitable demise of relationships only for the emotional tug-of-war to continue long after such events have died in the embers. Such examples are left to a couplet of ballads, ‘I Just Can’t Forget’, which has an atmosphere of country and soul, whereas ‘Alone Tonight’ is delicately played out via acoustic guitar and gorgeous vocals drawing the listener closer and closer to its beating heart. For our money though, the late-night draw of ‘Let Go’ wins hands down with its impression of attempting to win over a hardened crowd at the local honky-tonk via an abundance of harmonies and hooks (with special mention going to the pedal steel and 12-string Rickenbacker). With ‘Edge of Love’ apparently arriving at some personal costs and despite any suggestions of cracks appearing on its surface, there remains a heartbeat at the centre of this record because Lisa Redford (plus band) has made a rousing comeback that is likely to win over new supporters here as well as overseas.



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