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Brilliant Light

Danny & The Champions of the World

Loose Music

Enjoying what can be described as an Indian summer when it comes to their recent recorded works ‘Stay True’ (2013), What Kind Of Love (2015) and not forgetting the double live album ‘Live Champs!’ sandwiched in the middle (2014), Danny & The Champions Of The World return with a brand new album by the name of ‘Brilliant Light’. This latest addition to The Champs’ catalogue really ups their creativity levels, due to all band members receiving instructions from the ship’s captain, Danny George Wilson, to explore, experiment and collaborate in order to maximise the creative potential of all concerned. The end result is a double album (triple when taking into account the bonus disc of instrumentals) that will require repeat visits due to the sheer breadth of material on offer here. But it is also the understated feel of the majority of the contents of ‘Brilliant Light’ that will require further listening in order to really get under the skin of this epic long player. Having said that, opening song ‘Waiting For The Right Time’ offers some immediacy via its pared back Rolling Stones’ blues with added spice of Neil Young, and then followed by a sense of urgency in the rhythm of ‘Bring Me To My Knees’ that also reveals a soreness in the lead vocals, with lap steel soothing things ever so slightly. The mild soul of ‘It Hit Me’ with its jabs and swirls of Hammond organ distract from the intensity of the lyrics as such snippets reveal, “Sorry, I’d wished you’d never known me,” and “We’re out of luck and lonely.” There is a sense of the ‘personal’ infiltrating the contents of ‘Brilliant Light’, where sentiments drift off into the night air like the final trails of smoke from a campfire slowly fading (‘You’ll Remember Me’), and then followed by ‘Swift Street’ that is reflective and full of memories with Danny Wilson commenting: “Swift Street is the house where my mother grew up.” Give ‘Brilliant Light’ time and the majority of these songs will definitely find a way to win over your heart because it’s what’s known in the industry as a real grower.

 


Released 16 June

 

Orlando Bloom (Single)

the Harvey Steel show

Safe & Sound Recordings

Having entered our consciousness a couple of years ago after taking up (permanent?) residency on planet Earth, the Harvey Steel show return with their ultra-weird yet thoroughly compelling brew of blues, psychedelia and arthouse visuals via brand new offering ‘Orlando Bloom’. One can be forgiven for thinking the obvious regarding the title of said new single with the facial exterior and matching persona of “the guy next door”, yet somehow gold dust all the way from tinsel town rains down on this here parade. Open up the contents, however, of ‘Orlando Bloom’ the single and the innards are the kind you will find in any assorted box of chocolates where variety really is the key word to understanding the world these cosmic cats, the Harvey Steel show, reside in. By beginning with a sense of urgency that is relayed via a trippy jazz sound with a real sense of foreboding developing, ‘Orlando Bloom’ soon takes a multitude of avenues where pop mingles with soul, for example, to create a little boogie, and given extra buoyancy to this journey by means of brass instrumentation. The predominant lightness of tone musically provides a temporary mask to the lyrical contents, jointly penned via band leader Thomas Bergsten and fellow comrade Kristine Marie Aasvang, where there’s suggestion that ‘Orlando Bloom’ is really concerned with the flaws affecting planet Earth. It’s a fascinating ride and one that deserves to be given a fair hearing if there’s any justice left in this world.


Released Out now

 

Dagan I Fingertuppan (Single)

Sigrun Loe Sparboe

Grappa

It’s been a while since we last heard of Sigrun Loe Sparboe after sophomore album release ‘Vindfang’ back in 2015 that really cemented her place in the Norwegian folk scene and proved that debut album ‘Uten at du vet det’ was no one trick pony. So back with a new single and sounding fresh and ready for the next instalment in her recording career, ‘Dagan I Fingertuppan’ echoes such sentiments via its jaunty rhythm and the sweetest of vocals adding further support to the ‘carpe diem moment’ expressed at the centre of this song. If recent living has been a tad unpredictable for this Norwegian folk songstress, then ‘Dagan I Fingertuppan’ is the prefect elixir to reignite the senses and suggest that moments of true wonder are still available for those willing to believe in such things.

 


Released Out now

 

Trixieland (the musical)

Trixie Marmalade

MarsMelons

There is a personal message at the heart of this album via its creator and (mad) musical wizard Thomas Bergsten (aka Mr Harvey Steel or otherwise known as Gunerius Quack) that is told through the eyes of Trixie Marmalade. The plight in question focuses on the transformation of humanity into one big loveable hug because at present there is far too much focus on the individual self that can lead to bad habits such as temptation, selfishness and hatred. In order to get there, Trixie Marmalade, whose identity is a tad sketchy – definitely female; quite possibly green with bulbous eyes yet for this trip to Earth the unfortunate truth is that Trixie found herself stuck inside a cardboard figure! Therefore, with help required, Gunerius Quack comes to the rescue in order to transmit Trixie’s message so that humankind can begin to love itself again rather than spread further hatred as experienced from the parallel universe from where Trixie came. Phew! With that aside the music being peddled from this long player is far from easy listening, with a large spread of influences being applied over a canvass containing elements of ambient, jazz, psychedelia, blues for example, and with the narrative communicated in a mechanistic styling that is part Stephen Hawking and part Radiohead ‘OK Computer’ with Captain Beefheart and Tom Waits for company. The rest really is up to the listener in terms of what to make of ‘Trixieland (the musical)’ because it is a highly inventive body of work that weighs heavily on surrealism as well as reality (see above). There is one thing for certain, however, and that is the equal measure of confusion, delight and irritation ‘Trixieland (the musical)’ will create where creative peaks such as the quasi-hillbilly pickin’ ‘His Name Is Hatred’ are greeted by more difficult companions (‘Hello I Love You’). Whoever said art should be an easy ride?


Released Out now

 

Introduction

Gentle Savage

Concorde Music Company

Hailing from Finland, Gentle Savage kick-start their career with the official release of the appropriately titled, ‘Introduction’ EP. Fresh off the block, Gentle Savage offer a combined output of blues and rock that belies their years together considering the professionalism of their current recorded works. Beginning with the catchy blues-rock of ‘Bring Back Rock ‘n’ Roll’ that is watertight in its execution, and then followed by the altogether different ‘Far Side’ that represents a darker side to the band’s repertoire, which can be heard in the detached vocals and epic guitar solo that suggests the band has more than a few ideas in their creative tank. Ending with the classic-rock feel and very memorable ‘Hey Hey Hey Hey’, Gentle Savage’s ‘Introduction’ is a solid and considered affair that bodes well for future releases


Released Out now

 

Hard To Catch

Shakedown Tim & The Rhythm Revue

Rhythm Bomb

Rhythm and blues by way of Belgium finds a new artist to land on the scene by the name of Shakedown Tim & The Rhythm Revue. With fellow rhythm and blues artist Nico Duportal behind the helm in terms of production for this album release, ‘Hard To Catch’ comprises of nine out of ten original compositions (with one cover) penned by the band’s frontman, Tim, revealing a batch of clever and often witty lyrics set to a superb set of sounds supplied by the equally talented ‘Rhythm Revue. It’s not just the song writing skills, however, that compel as Shakedown Tim’s vocal is often persuasive with its coarse edges during opening track ‘How Long’ complementing the raw bluesy guitar and saxophone, before dropping down a level and providing brief comical moments via an exaggerated vocal bemoaning the difficulties held by the chase of a relationship (“This fish is hard to catch!”). If love is proving a touch difficult for this rhythm and blues combo, then their album ‘Hard To Catch’ goes some way to soothing any such inadequacies as it makes for the perfect partner to beat away the blues.


Released Out now

 

Bang! It’s The Starjays

The Starjays

Rhythm Bomb

One for the rhythm and blues market is The Starjays and their current album ‘Bang! It’s The Starjays’. With the band proving popular Stateside, the duo of Angelatini and Roy Kay, the latter name serving as producer as well, power their way through a number of duets that are steeped in an authentic 40s – 50s sound. If you’re looking for immediate sparks to get you in the mood for the dancefloor, then take in the cruising piano of ‘Who Do You Love The Most?’ and following rollicking duo of ‘I’ll Wait’ and, living up to its namesake, ‘My Wild Gal’. Where ‘Bang! It’s The Starjays differs to other similar titles in this particular genre is that the singing duo of Angelatini and Roy Kay create a hefty advantage for themselves as the female/male dynamics lend genuine personality to the songs where emotions can ride high via the previously mentioned ‘Who Do You Love The Most?’, to the supremely confident ‘The Right Girl’ where (finally) the female perspective is given a fair hearing.


Released Out now

 

Blues Kitchen

Scott Taylor

Fetal Records

Sometimes during an album’s running order, there is a song that often stands head and shoulders above the rest. When it comes to Scott Taylor’s new album ‘Blues Kitchen’ such a song can be heard with ‘Tennessee’. A subjective opinion of course, but this reflective, slow burner of a song finds Taylor in wistful mode, vocal positioned right at the front as he tries to find his way back home and accompanied by a laidback rhythm. Stirring stuff and the great introduction to the world of the ‘Blues Kitchen’ which, outside of this particular track, has a habit of revealing new details that seemingly escaped one’s attention during its first few outings. Part of this is down to the album providing a real sense of warming up before hitting full stride with a succession of songs that speak of truths concerning relationships and the heartaches they can bring, but also great satisfaction as well. With Taylor himself describing this collection of songs as “unfiltered and strait [sic] from the gut” such a description is apt when hearing the tracks ‘Fussin and Cussin’ that is an irritable and prickly number greatly highlighted by Taylor’s vocal and the Blues Kitchen Cooks’ rhythm section of Tony Fazio (guitars), Charlie Sayles (harmonica) and Greg Phillips (drums). Following on, ‘Sweet Daddy Brown’ peps up the mood with a seemingly sweet rhythm, yet the narrative concerning its central character manages to hold an air of mystery right to its conclusion and makes for great listening . The blues continue apace with the compelling and down on its luck ‘Bad Company’ that reveals a few golden lines where “Even the door won’t open up for me because I’m bad company”, and wry humour of “Even the dog don’t come to me, He says I’m bad company” suggesting life’s fortunes really couldn’t sink any lower, with the grinding, moody tempo doing its best to add to the misery being expressed. The temperature soars during ‘Alabama Babe’ spiked with harmonica and guided by acoustic guitar and a vocal that sounds as if it’s slowly being compressed in an already tight space. Scott Taylor’s ‘Blues Kitchen’ is a personal album that never overcooks itself when it comes to expressing its emotions, due to the understated presentation of its entire contents which makes for compelling listening.


Released Out now

 

Get Up And Dance!

Lil ' Mo and the Dynaflos

Rhythm Bomb

Feeling a need to ease the blues in your life? Then follow the simple instructions from doo-wop outfit Lil’ Mo and the Dynaflos and their latest album ‘Get Up And Dance!’ and you’ll soon feel rejuvenated. The energy emanating from this six-piece band is contagious and will have your limbs shaking from the off via the album’s title track, that speeds along at some pace and finds lead singer Lil’ Mo in determined mood to get the audience up off of their feet. The persuasive power of the music continues to weave its magic and really given some clout with the bullish ‘Hands Off’ and passionate ‘Spellbound’ where the emotions are close to frothing over judging by the reactions of Lil’ Mo and his supporting vocalists. With the album ‘Get Up And Dance!’ having been set up and recorded at Wally Hersoms’ studio in Pasadena, such a decision no doubt helped shape and fuel the creativity of the original compositions on offer, not to mention the selected cover versions because there is no real let up in the overall energy expressed during this album where the vocals can direct the songs emotions and just as equally the instrumentation of say ‘Shut That Door’, ‘Bop Shake Boogie’ or ‘Have Love Will Travel’. Resistance is futile, so ‘Get Up And Dance!’


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’!


Released Out now

 

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.


Released Out now

 

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.



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