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Released 25 August

 

Goodbye Earth

the Harvey Steel show

Safe & Sound Recordings

Is this truly goodbye? Well, quite possibly for the assortment of characters including Trixie Marmalade, Mr Orlando Bloom, and Uncle Beefhart considering he’s a distant relation of the original forefather of the weird-out cauldron of blues, jazz, alternative rock (Yes, only the term hadn’t been coined back then), etc. Of course, let’s not forget the main Space Cats here from Jupiter, who seem keen to head to destinations new but not without leaving a rather terrific parting shot with their brand new album ‘Goodbye Earth’. There are changes afoot with this sophomore effort with the heavy psychedelia from before toned-down, and in place more deliberated efforts such as the beautiful intro ‘Waltz for Yellow Spectral Star’ (Ringo Starr Yellow Submarine is scribbled on the notepad but no resemblance in sound) where guitar and keys combine slowly and steadily building a wall of noise that eventually allows for Kristine Marie Aasvang to apply vocals to the cacophony where one can sense the bags are packed and ready for loading on deck as this ship is heading skywards and deep into space. In order to get there, the Harvey Steel show let the engines ignite and burn brightly via The Doors inspired ‘Hunting Shadows’ where sundried, cracked desert landscapes appear and then close from view in flashes of darkness only to reappear before the exit from Earth looms and then closes its gates for the final time behind wails of feedback. It remains their finest moment and a song to be TRULY proud of. Once in space the intermission kicks in with the delightful sound of ‘If Pigs Could Fly’ that is at once frivolous yet also leaves one to ponder due to the chilling afterthought, “If you think you’re free, there’s no escape possible”. A whole melange of styles clash during ‘Impressionistic Umbrella’ that is (take your pick) part New Wave, part blues and a different take on the Grease soundtrack, if you will, revealing the charming side of this band. Poor old Orlando! A previous single, and more a reflection of what’s wrong with this planet, ‘Orlando Bloom’ throws up society’s wrongdoings whilst playing out in part to a soulful shuffle that is reminiscent of the Mr Soft character that Noel Gallagher famously talked about with regard to a certain Oasis number. Elsewhere, the Harvey Steel show flex their version of the blues, and skilfully so, with the compelling ‘Red Queen Blues’, and then proceed to produce the wonderful jazz turn, ‘Outer Space (part 2) which, unfortunately, is trimmed too short. The final statement arrives by means of ‘Waltz for Trixie Marmalade’ that borrows from Radiohead’s ‘Fitter Happier’ with its synthesized voice that eventually allows the entire contents of ‘Goodbye Earth’ to disappear into the black hole of space with predominantly the sound of jazz leaving its mark. A masterclass in how to combine surrealism with reality and make the whole project gel consistently, the Harvey Steel show has just upped their game. Hopefully, this is not their final statement.

 


Released 4 August

 

Berry & Whythe (Single)

Siv Jakobsen

The Nordic Mellow

Recalling a period in her life when living as a resident in New York City, with the title of the single named after a couple of streets in Brooklyn, Siv Jakobsen issues a new song, and one that is taken from her forthcoming debut album ‘The Nordic Mellow’. The word intimate has often been used to describe Siv Jakobsen’s music, and there is no doubting such a description as the atmosphere given during ‘Berry & Whythe’ is one that is borderline claustrophobic where there is almost no room to breathe such is the closeness of her presence, which gives the impression of being the only witness to the tale being spun here as one is transported back to the bedsit in question Stateside. Top marks, therefore, to not only Siv Jakobsen for creating such a personal touch, but also producer Matt Ingram where both genuinely create a sense of reimagining the relationship that once existed at the centre of this song. With fine threads linking Siv Jakobsen to Joni Mitchell and fellow Norwegian Arne Brun, any such references soon disappear once ‘Berry & Whythe’ takes hold of your senses and keeps you there for the duration of its contents.

 


Released Out now

 

The Love (Single)

Howling Light

Howling Light Music

Try not to get too confused, but here’s a newish band of sorts with a singer-songwriter all the way from the land of OZ by the name of Derek Lee Goodreid, who made his way to Oslo (Norway) and started out life as Howling Light in 2016. Joining on lead guitar and banjo were local residents Torkel Ruud and violinist Tor Sivert Gunnes, only for this multicultural line-up to be completed once bassist Andrzej Barszczyk arrived from Poland, and drummer and slide guitarist Phil Perry Ohlsen from neighbouring Sweden. Rather than opting for a more familiar pop sound considering their surroundings, Howling Light look to the south of America with traditional roots sounds infiltrating their music, and clearly heard during current single ‘The Love’. Starting off in finger plucking fashion via acoustic guitar, ‘The Love’ transforms into something of a riotous affair with part-distorted vocals and a driving beat where lead guitar and violin compellingly joust for equal amounts of airtime. It’s a passionate slice of rockin’ country strands and one that is in perfect harmony with its song title, leaving Howling Light as a band worth keeping tabs on.

 


Released Out now

 

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!’



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