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Maybe It’s The Caffeine (single)

Otto

Untitled

Still relatively fresh-faced on the underground circuit due to only forming late 2012, Otto return with second single ‘Maybe It’s The Caffeine’. Having gained invaluable experience supporting the likes of Moose Blood and Gnarwolves, Otto remain poised to take the next step with an EP scheduled to record before the end of the year. As it stands, the various issues bubbling beneath the surface of ‘Maybe It’s The Caffeine’ remains a source of irritation and agitation that no amount of coffee could possibly induce. If Otto can maintain such promising form with the hard-edged yet restrained qualities of this current single, then they have an extremely bright future ahead of them.


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What Would Joey Ramone Do? / Ramona Wolf (single)

The Creeping Ivies

Holy Smokes Records

Having tussled for pole position, there was simply no separating the two slices of garage-infused punk rock courtesy of Glasgow’s The Creeping Ivies as latest single ‘What Would Joey Ramone Do? / Ramona Wolf’ comes issued as a double A side single. A wise decision indeed as lead vocalist Becca Bomb gets all riled over the state of modern living during ‘What Would Joey Ramona Do?’, ably supported in her frustrations with a primitive pounding rhythm supplied by Duncan Destruction. ‘Ramona Wolf’ is wailing at the heavens and powered by similar rhythmic beats, albeit performed at a slower tempo, and bringing to mind the likes of Patti Smith and PJ Harvey as it wades through some very murky waters. With an album scheduled for next year, it will be interesting to see what impact The Creeping Ivies will have on a wider and possibly unsuspecting audience. One thing is for certain, however, they will definitely ruffle a few feathers along the way.


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Asymmetry

Karnivool

Columbia

Hailing from Australia, Karnivool raise their collective heads once more for album number three ‘Asymmetry’. Calling on the production services of Nick DiDia (Rage Against The Machine) ‘Asymmetry’ is ambitious in its approach with a sprawling mass of sounds relying on various programming spliced with standard instrumentation. What is particularly appealing here is the lack of posturing as Karnivool, despite the heavy chords, more often than not remain restrained when it comes to the vocal delivery and sounding all the more sincere. Elsewhere it’s the manner in which songs take a nosedive before applying the brakes only to follow another trajectory as expressed by the pummelling noise of ‘A.M. War’ and awe-inspiring elements of ‘Aeons’. Recent single ‘We Are’ is about as commercial as it gets for Karnivool, which is not revealing too much, as it remains dense in its layers only to be surpassed by the utterly compelling ‘The Refusal’ with its interchange of aggressive and controlled vocals before entering territory normally reserved for fellow Aussies Big Heavy Stuff. Clearly, ‘Asymmetry’ will take several sittings before the intricate details become clearer which, in the current climate of instant gratification, can only be a good thing.


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Back To Forever

Lissie

Columbia

It seems an eternity since critical appraisal was bestowed on Lissie’s debut album ‘Catching A Tiger’ but the wait has certainly been worth it as ‘Back To Forever’ is bristling with energy and a little more robust than its predecessor. There is also a maturity to the songwriting as there is more of a consistency overall, such is the depth in quality ranging from the borderline country-rock ballad ‘They All Want You’ to the pounding rhythm and confessional ‘Shameless’ as both songs refer to the superficialities associated with fame. ‘Sleepwalking’ is straight out of Stevie Nicks’ handbook with its pop-rock catchiness. ‘The Habit’ and ‘Further Away (Romance Police)’ also get in on the act with their fleeting resemblances to Fleetwood Mac; the latter of which impresses the most with its brooding attitude and climatic finale. ‘I Bet On You’ is further evidence of the full-bodied approach adopted by Lissie, and all the better for it, as it is one of those songs that possesses a slow release when it comes to familiarity that will creep up on you days later with its infectious hooks hammering away at your senses as it is simply that good! ‘Cold Fish’ is an oddity whereby it works on certain levels but sounds clunky on other occasions whereas ‘Can’t Take It Back’ lands on more familiar turf with its driving pop and a reminder that Lissie can forge a path along such lines if the desire becomes too great. There is none of the second album blues when it comes to ‘Back To Forever’ as it is a resounding success that makes it 2- 0 to Lissie.


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To All The Girls…

Willie Nelson

Sony

The king of country Willie Nelson is back with a new album that finds him teaming up with many of country music’s finest female singers including the likes of Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris, Miranda Lambert, Shelby Lynne, Roseanne Cash to name but a few. ‘To All The Girls’ is not only an exercise in how to deliver the perfect duet album but also wise and considered when making the decisions for each and every song. There is far too much detail to cover here as ‘To All The Girls’ extends to an immense eighteen tracks taking in a superb reinterpretation of previously recorded classic ‘Always On My Mind’ featuring Carrie Underwood; a real aching quality to ‘Somewhere Between’ compellingly narrated via two experienced vocals with the other half being Loretta Lynn; the comedown of ‘Back To Earth’ with a vocal stealing performance from Melonie Cannon and extending to similar compliments with ‘Will You Remember Mine’ featuring a fine vocal performance by Lily Meola. ‘To All The Girls’ is an impressive album that is the third in a line from little over a year and a worthy addition to help celebrate Willie Nelson’s 80th birthday celebrations.


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A Tiny Little Island In The Big Bad Sea

Suburban Dirts

Haven Records / Operando

Having found a home with the ever productive Boo Hewerdine and his label Haven Records via Operando, Suburban Dirts express the homeliness of their new surroundings by drumming up a second album steeped in a rich quality of folk and alt. country goodness. It would be equally wise to suggest ‘A Tiny Little Island In The Big Bad Sea’ is far from basking in a glow of warm sentiments, rather the opposite in fact, as the foundations of one or two relationships appear to have crumbled long ago with the deeply entrenched sadness of ‘You Kill Me’ being a prime example. There is faint optimism swirling around the Dylan-esque ‘Any Other Morning’ that gets swept along at some considerable pace before grinding to a halt with the honest confessions of ‘One’.  There is, however, a knowingness about ‘A Tiny Little Island…’ as Suburban Dirts is far from craving a shoulder to cry on as reflected by ‘Occasionally Drunk’ with its roots embedded in a country barroom and ‘Queen O’Pity’ that once more gives a respective nod to Bob Dylan. Suburban Dirts might be residing on a tiny island but their songs are deserved of a much bigger stage.


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Western Harmonies

Jonas Fjeld & Chatham County Line

Sony

Crossing back and forth between Norwegian and English borders, Jonas Fjeld & Chatham County Line makes a welcome return with latest album ‘Western Harmonies’. Warm vocal harmonies and a country turn with elements of bluegrass begin proceedings whilst dreaming of the impossible with ‘Boy’. The mother tongue rolls to great effect as it relays the thoughts held within of ‘Skulle jeg bli blind’ before picking its way along the dust and grime of the old ‘Railroad’ of the west rather than anything lying to the north. The (almost) hoedown feel of bluegrass inspired ‘Hallingkast Breakdown’ gives further suggestion that Jonas Fjeld and his Chatham County boys should really consider the origin of their native roots such is the authenticity of the delivery. The grizzled excellence of ‘Gitar’ and lonely trawl of ‘En gammel mann’ provides further evidence of the song writing prowess of this band that really shines in a variety of shades as ‘Western Harmonies’ is a master class within its field.


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The Button Moulder

Robert Post

Bobfloat Music

Taking its title from Henrik Ibsen’s Peer Gynt, ‘The Button Moulder’ sees the welcome return of multi-talented musician and songwriter Robert Post. Having returned to his native Norway after a stint in the UK some years ago, Robert Post made a return to his roots in more ways than one. Musically, this meant a stripped-down affair that resulted in the quite sublime ‘Rhetoric Season One’ and saw Robert Post work overtime by raising the bar when it comes to defining the role of a one-man band. Such was the quality of this previous album and critical reception that a season two was hinted at consisting of a fuller sound. Finally, that moment has arrived with only the title shifting from its original conception as ‘The Button Moulder’ consists of more flesh on the bones, despite early indications suggesting differently with the exquisite vocal delivery and bare strings of a singular instrument of introduction ‘Be Kind’. Despite bringing a more comprehensive sound overall, ‘The Button Moulder’ retains a considerable amount of intimacy, due to the fact that Robert Post continues to sail alone when it comes to instrumentation duties, with warm recollections of (a) family life during ‘Safe and Sound’. ‘My Body’ is revisited, this time beefed up from its previous incarnation on ‘Rhetoric…’, and proving to be a definite thorn in Robert’s side as he attacks it with a tad more venom in a doomed attempt to stave off that bugbear of growing old. ‘The Button Moulder’s Walk’ really provides an atmosphere of wide-open spaces before arriving at its destination all too soon. Robert Post’s most compelling instrument, however, remains his vocal as there is a unique and ancient quality about it that can be traced back to earlier folk roots and best served up with ‘Feeler’. Descriptions such as a return to form do not apply when it comes to Robert Post as each and every album contains its own unique merits. In terms of ‘The Button Moulder’ it’s business as usual as Robert Post continues to evolve musically and creatively as all good artists should.


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Women

Halden Electric

Home On The Range Records / Rootsy

When it came to Halden Electric’s third album, any notion of the creativity department being bereft of ideas was simply non-existent. When most artists struggle to find the form which promised so much on first album outings, Halden Electric not only had enough material to reach fourth base, but also a finely tuned balance of songs consisting of acoustic and electric and therefore a double album was born. The end result is ‘Women’; a twenty track collection spanning a variety of emotions and best listened to during several shifts due to the sheer amount of detail between its covers. ‘Loving Coming To Life’ is the best possible introduction with its barebones beginning of mandolin and forlorn vocal that tries its best to convince the future holds much promise when in fact it’s quite the opposite. ‘Always You’ leans towards Americana as it brings a glow musically, despite holding much heartbreak at its centre with downright weepy utterings, “I don’t take roads that don’t lead to you”. Wonderful steel strings and various other musical accompaniments try their hardest to perk up the downtrodden sentiments of ‘Everything You Love’, which is proceeded by an even greater effort with an almost a cappella ‘Light Your Lantern’ adding further vindication that the decision for a double album was the right one considering the breadth of creativity. The brooding ‘I Don’t Think It’s Funny’ complete with the merest hint of vocal harmonising during its chorus carries the song to its conclusion, only having to sidestep a brief interlude straight out of The Beatles handbook circa White album before arriving at the self-confessed, “It’s gonna do me a lot of good to get away from myself”.

Side two really opens up the wounds further as there is no respite for the hapless victim(s) at the end of these tales of heartbreak as ‘No More Love’ fully indicates with its distorted bluesy guitars and thumping backbeat owing a considerable debt to the White Stripes. The sonic distortion prevails in superb fashion with scuzzy guitars dragging ‘These Wounds’ through the mire. ‘I Don’t Want To’ tones things down musically and reveals its fondness for Neil Young due to possessing an aching quality on several different levels. The tension felt during ‘How Much Attention’ is certainly exerted via scorched guitars and a distorted vocal that is close to boiling over with its persistent questioning. Red hot guitars persist throughout ‘Good To Be Alone’ before ‘Trust Your Love’ brings the curtain down on this immense album with a final realisation that the same trust is to be invested once more if the dream is to be realised. ‘Women’ is an album of two halves that is equally intense and honest when it comes to its confessionary tales revealing a severely tested heart, but thankfully one that is not willing to call time just yet.


Released November 11

 

Done Days (single)

King Prawn

Yo-Silver

After a sold-out London Forum in 2003, King Prawn appeared to disappear off the edge of the map. However, there appears to be life in the old engine yet as new single ‘Done Days’, backed with ‘Solemn Man’, marks a return for this London-based band. A joint collaboration with music and clothing label Yo-Silver, ‘Done Days’ shows no sign of fatigue, considering the band’s longstanding in the industry, with its perky opening of jangling guitar complete with brass propelling the song forward revealing a penchant for ska that helps keep spirits buoyant and lyrically a suggestion of maintaining a momentum when life fails to conjure up anything conducive. The steadier ska groove that is ‘Solemn Man’, accompanied by horn section once more, is equally reflective, “Dreams that I once had are memories now”. A change in fortunes might be the outcome next year with news of a full length player scheduled for a spring release. In the meantime, King Prawn has just made the comeback single to ease any doubts concerning their relevancy in 2013, as their work is far from finished.


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Ground Zero (single)

Inherit The Stars

Ambicon Records

Having attracted considerable attention with their first full-length album ‘We Were Made To Walk The Skies’, Sheffield’s Inherit The Skies make a return with a brand new single available as a free download before the band embark on their next album quest. Rather than simply plugging a gap, ‘Ground Zero’ is an impressive song held together by elements of metal and hardcore but with enough melodic interludes that is somewhere between Linkin Park and Avenged Sevenfold and therefore residing in good company. Explosive this single most definitely is, and something which can be viewed due to the band’s accompanying video that concludes the final chapter of their apocalyptic themed Orbis Trilogy of video singles, Inherit The Stars look set to take on the world.


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Om du vill vara med mig

Melissa Horn

Svedala / Sony Music

Despite seeing a wealth of promotional posters at nearly every turn for Melissa Horn’s previous work ‘Innan Jag Kände Dig’, it seems uncanny that it has taken until now, fourth album in, that finally a voice can be applied to the face adorning those promotional images. Expecting yet another perfectly executed and delicate sounding female singer-songwriter, what actually transpires from the speakers is far more interesting in fact. Sounding like Sweden’s answer to Edith Piaf ‘Om du vill vara med mig’ with songs to match that often depict much sadness when it comes to issues concerning relationships. There is a real tenderness about ‘Säg att du behöver mig’ suggesting a song close to the heart whereas the steady climb of ‘Jag har inte gett upp oss än’ brings out the aforementioned Piaf inflections to great effect, adding to the tension, and signalling this particular song out as a highlight among several. ‘Om du vill vara med mig’ definitely has a welcome home.



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