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The Minge Dynasty EP

OPM

MNO Records

As a means of celebrating their skate classic, ‘Heaven Is A Halfpipe’ from their album ‘Menace To Sobriety’ which is now in its fifteenth year since its initial success, OPM return with a brand new EP under the cheeky title, ‘The Minge Dynasty’. For those who remember the aforementioned smash success of single ‘Heaven Is A Halfpipe’ will revel in the new material from OPM, which treads familiar turf by (re)capturing the SoCal lifestyle in an amusing manner, as well as creating an abundance of catchy hooks and infectious rhythms that is instantly recognisable as the OPM sound.  With ‘The Minge Dynasty’ EP having been produced by legendary producer Marshall Goodman (AKA Ras MG of Sublime), in addition to John e. and OPM’s very own Johnathan Williams, the attention to detail is noticeable in order to recreate those addictive qualities that made their former song such a success during the year 2000. Evidence of this approach can be gleaned from central track ‘#Millionaire Like Me’, which has hit single written all over it as it’s an irresistible pop song that will be cruising around the top echelons of BBC Radio One and Two’s playlists without a doubt. The hooks keep on coming with the following three tracks making up this EP in a blend of pop, rock and mild rap, with ‘Speakers’ being the pick of a fine crop due to its use of keyboards appealing greatly. With an European tour underway, taking in twenty-six dates to promote this latest EP, and rumours of their ‘Menace To Sobriety’ long player to be reissued on limited edition vinyl later this year, OPM could be on the verge of recreating those former glory days with a whole new chapter in their career starting with ‘The Minge Dynasty’ EP.


Released Out now

 

Music On The Up Beat

Hanks Jalopy Demons

Rhythm Bomb

Fine moniker, even finer band. Hailing from the land of Oz, and joining forces for one track (‘Blue Knuckle Ride’) with fellow Aussie musician, Ezra Lee, Hanks Jalopy Demons see their ‘Music On The Up Beat’ released. Closer inspection reveals that this new album is, in fact, a reissue of their previously released Australian only version of the same name Down Under, with the album now receiving wider international distribution. Almost as old as time itself, this four-piece band have been treading the rockabilly circuit for some time, as well as performing in other bands such as Benny and the Fly-By-Niters and the Starliners. With this baggage comes a wealth of experience and evident from the off by recapturing a raw and authentic rockin’ sound. Take the jittery rhythm of ‘Damn Their Hides’, with its paranoid or truthful narrative depending on how one interprets it, but either way this song speaks volumes, “Damn their hides, They’re gonna take you for a ride, Damn their hides, They’re gonna feed you lies”, which could very well be speaking about the industry they find themselves in. It’s a terrific start. More greatness follows with, ‘You Bring Out The Wolf In Me’ that finds lead vocalist, Hank Ferguson, slipping into character and struggling to retain his affections for the other half in his life via some compelling vocals and hints of a definite darker side to this song. If you’re looking for a variety of emotions and topics, then you have come to the right place as ‘Music On The Up Beat’ is littered with them. ‘The Jackal’ and ‘No Shoes’ are two such examples that touch on the darker sides of life once again; both revealing somewhat desperate situations, greatly exemplified by the musicianship and intriguing lyrics. There is even humour afoot during ‘Beat Up ’40s Ford’, sandwiched between two other auto-themed songs (‘Peel Out Baby’ and ‘Blue Knuckle Ride’), that retains an affection for this beat-up truck, despite getting left behind by faster models on the motorway somewhere. It is such songs, as those mentioned, that suggests you could set a cereal box in front of Hanks Jalopy Demons and within a matter of minutes the ingredients from said box of cereal would likely be transformed into an engaging yarn. If further demonstration is required of the inherent skills at the centre of this band, then ‘The Loser’ is perhaps the pick of the crop. Awash in a drunken haze and lost in its own sorrows – part comical where you can visualise the central character almost falling from his barstool after propping up the bar for so long – it’s music that really describe its content to great effect. Not content with leaving it there, Hanks Jalopy Demons show fire in their bellies with the rousing ‘The Pressure’s On’  bringing this long player to a dramatic conclusion. ‘Music On The Up Beat’, most definitely!


Released 18 September

 

All We Ever Do

Aleksander With

Aleksander With Music

There has always been something intriguing about the artist Aleksander With, in the sense of being the loner standing on the fringes of the pop market, which his musical compositions often get lumped under. The truth is that With’s ideas are a little more complex than the standard fare that passes for pop music these days; something of which this Norwegian artist showed glimpses of during his ‘Still Awake’ long player back in 2009. This is where the intrigue deepens because the major breakthrough has still to materialise, as it would appear the marketing chaps are a tad jittery when it comes to placing With and his music, despite the aforementioned pop label tag. Such confusion has no doubt hindered With’s progress because the ability is definitely present. However, such a predicament looks set to change with the first taste, ‘All We Ever Do’, from the forthcoming EP by the name of ‘The Butterfly Effect’ due out this month. By recruiting the additional song writing skills of Curtis Richardson and closer to home, Anders Kjær, who is also responsible for production, reveals a renewed determination, but more importantly, the welcome return is a solid effort that’s full of reflection regarding a relationship turned sour, set to the backdrop of a moody, yet smooth electronic tempo that is far more of a slow burner than some would lead you to believe. As mentioned earlier, there is far more going on beneath the surface when it comes to Aleksander With and his music, which is why he remains an intriguing prospect.


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Amorosa Sensitivia

Benjamin Finger

Blue Tapes and X-Ray Records

Benjamin Finger trades houses once more, and this time with Blue Tapes and X-Ray Records to release his latest album, ‘Amorosa Sensitivia’. Where previous effort, ‘Motion Reverse’ offered more of a cold, bleak world via its often harsh sounding electronica, ‘Amorosa Sensitivia’ is generally one of a calmer ambience that is detailed and pondering, and therefore taking its time before reaching any sort of conclusion. There is a sense of being hard on oneself in addition to the deep thought processes on offer here, with suggestion of creative progression hitting something of a stumbling block in the mind of Benjamin Finger; hence the song titles ‘Headspincrawl’, ‘Waltz in Clay’ et al. Fear not, however, as the mind of this Norwegian artist may be a tad scrambled, but the sounds emanating here suggest a far more cohesive unit, and one that expresses a wild rush of blood to the creative thinking at times. For example, ‘Whirlbrainpoolin’ jolts ‘Amorosa Sensitivia’ with considerable impact, shaking it from its slumber with a concoction of scrambled  instrumentation, utilising the formulaic electronica but with added full band in his repertoire where short, sharp stabs of brass pick their notes, depending on which hot coal they managed to tread on, and let fly in a free jazz form, thus offering a side to this artist that has not been heard before, as far as the plethora of releases issued this year. The follow on, ‘Bum Finger Notes’ rises to its feet via delicate piano and a whisper of electronics in the background, yet the dark textures of the previous ‘Whirlbrainpoolin’ fails to subside due to the occasional twitch of brass instrument dragging this darkened mood to an eventual finale of improvised electric guitar. By closing with ‘Darnskullgreyness, the pale electronica aptly expresses the impassive suggestion of its song title, and provides no clues to the cause(s) of such emotions. Despite ‘Amorosa Sensitivia’ finding Benjamin Finger at a juncture where thoughts weigh heavy, this ‘Waltz in Clay’ of the mind is transformed into a truly fascinating experience where personal creativity is expressed in new ways, and serves as a conduit to the next phase without its creator necessarily fully realising such a progression.


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Vindfang

Sigrun Loe Sparboe

Grappa

There is a sense of the unknown surrounding Sigrun Loe Sparboe’s second solo outing, ‘Vindfang’. From the slightest of glances over the shoulder of the cover art, to finding a new home with a major record label and, of course, airing ten new compositions for the first time in the public domain, the sense of trepidation is palpable. The move back to her beloved Harstad, however, proved the perfect tonic when setting about the task of writing the songs making up ‘Vindfang’, as both time and space were found, in addition to the picturesque scenery of the local environment providing much inspiration to help inspire these new songs. Whilst there are various clues indicating a feeling of sailing in uncharted waters, ‘Vindfang’ reveals itself in parts as, musically, a record of steely determination and fresh ideas, but one that is smart enough to not stray too far from its previous sibling, ‘Uten at du vet det’, considering the perfect formula that was concocted for this debut record. It was always going to be an uphill task for Sigrun Loe Sparboe to surpass the previous glory of ‘Uten at du vet det’, but, masterfully, this folk songstress, along with her faithful in-house musicians, has managed to sample various aspects of her debut solo record and apply subtle changes to some of these previous arrangements and runaway with a succession of new songs. Wise judgement indeed as the daydream feel of ‘Paraply’, and title track, ‘Vindfang’, are the two candidates that bear the strongest resemblance to the aforementioned debut album. But there is progression here, and it proves to be Sparboe’s boldest and strongest statements with a beefed-up sound concerning one or two tracks, which are then counterbalanced with songs containing slightly fuller arrangements or, whisper it, considerable deviations from the folk brand. Such examples can be gleaned from the near muscular in its construction of opening gambit ‘Forliset’, as it’s a song with a real edge and bubbling intensity that begins at a slow canter, only to gather pace, where one can sense the fluctuating weather pattern of the northern region of her homeland during the transition from autumn to winter, and captured magnificently here in a mere five minutes. Further progression is made with the pop tones and brisk tempo of ’12 Spor’, that filters elements of folk music but ever so lightly, only to be usurped in the surprise stakes by the pounding rhythm and pop influenced ‘Som Fortjent’, leaving one to holler, “C’est magnifique!” at its conclusion. Clearly, this was not in the script yet these two songs do not sound out of place when nestling between more customary numbers as the stirring beauty of ‘Om Du Fortsatt Vil Ha Mæ’ or the cold, biting rhythm that drives the compelling ‘De Som Frosten Tok’ because there is a genuine cohesive whole to ‘Vindfang’. By guiding this latest album along similar routes, as well as taking risks by diverting away from traditional folk music, albeit in small doses, Sigrun Loe Sparboe is shaping up to be an artist with a definite strong vision and creative flair that is willing to test certain boundaries yet remain respectful to the genre her music is often categorised under. Once the contents of ‘Vindfang’ begins to unfurl and starts to familiarise itself, any notion of a sense of uncertainty soon diminishes, as it becomes apparent that Sigrun Loe Sparboe has successfully hurdled the ‘difficult’ second album syndrome by combining the strongest components of her debut solo record, and then rewriting these, before taking giant strides with a set of new ideas that provides the perfect balance between the old and new, and reveals a genuine natural progression until the third instalment in her career.


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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.


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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.


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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.


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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.


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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.


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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.


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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’.



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