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Any Old Trollop, Same Old Port

Folk Grinder

Koozie Johns

Riding a wave of sea shanty rock ‘n’ roll, Folk Grinder breathes life into a steadily increasing tired indie genre. Armed mainly with an acoustic guitar, accordion and piano in order to transmit their tales of love, loss and regret, Koozie Johns and Miro Snejdr remain two souls lost at sea. Nowhere is this more evident than the lure of ‘England Dreaming’ stretching out its nostalgic embrace to the simply gorgeous ‘Old Habits (Can Be Hard To Kick)’, complete with backing vocals, and ‘If You Need A Little Love’ tugging at the heartstrings. Despite such magnificence on display, it is left to the deeply personal ‘Halfway Home’ to offer some salvation from the choppy waters Folk Grinder has experienced and will no doubt continue to find themselves adrift in.


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All American

Superfamily

Das Kirurg

Slightly distraught at the notion that Superfamily could change their synths for an all-out electric album consisting only of guitars, the band thankfully offer no such thing as ‘All American’ sees the band sink further into the quagmire of early eighties New Romantic pop, which is a welcome relief to the ears of FLW. In fact, Norway’s Superfamily could have supplied the soundtrack for the BBC smash hit TV drama ‘Ashes to Ashes’, with many being none the wiser as to the actual era this band inhabit.

Sure, there are nods to the band’s back catalogue with ‘Don’t Say A Single Word’ which is trademark Superfamily, but no less compelling as a result, but it is the manic delivery – reminiscent of prime era ‘Associates ‘The Affectionate Punch’ and ‘Sulk’ – of title track ‘All American’ which really arouses the senses and flexes its anxieties concerning the threat of Americanisation on a global scale.

Where this fourth effort differs from previous Superfamily releases is that the reins are slightly tightened in terms of a less-is-more approach due to the minimalist, ‘I’m On Your Side’ and more restrained, ‘Some Girls’. If anything, it’s time to transmit this ‘All American’ frequency to more distant shores so that the band can reach the stellar heights their music clearly deserves.


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Wilderness

Alfred Hall

Sony

Shimmering in the summer sunlight despite being engulfed by personal anxieties, the aptly titled ‘Intro’ reveals the first insight into the world of Alfred Hall. The following set of songs suggest nothing but a promising debut album as ‘Wilderness’ is steeped in a mixture of gentle and often uplifting melodies sighting such contemporaries as Hurts and the often forgotten It’s Immaterial as among possible influences. ‘Too Young’ is simply gorgeous in its execution with its sparse arrangements echoing The Blue Nile’s classic ‘A Walk Across The Rooftops’, whereas ‘Somewhere Beautiful’ is exactly a depiction of what it says on the tin. If Alfred Hall can maintain the consistency shown throughout this first offering, then the future certainly looks bright for the boys from the wilderness as the neighbours of Drammen have something new to gossip about over the garden fence.


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Presence

Christel Alsos

Sony

A welcome return for Christel Alsos with arguably her best album to date in the form of ‘Presence’. There is a more relaxed feel to the recordings but this does not mean Alsos’ emotions are any less fraught as once more she parades heart on sleeve reflecting on the remnants of relationships long since sailed. There are shades of Bristol’s Portishead on opening tracks ‘Remember It Now’ and ‘Conquer’ that adds to the ethereal qualities heard throughout,  whereas ‘Falling’ offers a slightly more upbeat tone and ‘Follow Me’ reveals its folk roots. It is left to ‘Found’, however, to literally bring this body of work emotionally to its knees as Alsos reiterates; ‘Oh, there is a place for me, Oh there is a place for me’ in an attempt at self-reassurance despite the open wounds of the vocal delivery giving the game away.


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Unfinished Business

Wanda Jackson

Sugar Hill

Hot on the heels of the Jack White-produced ‘The Party Ain’t Over’, Wanda Jackson continues her renaissance with new album ‘Unfinished Business’. This time it’s Justin Townes Earle on production duties; even contributing vocally on the quite superb ‘Am I Even A Memory?’ With ‘Unfinished Business’ being a more subtle affair than the aforementioned White project, it would seem that Jackson still has much to offer, and long may it continue, as this resurgence in creativity and recognition is much welcomed.


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Eddie Cochran Plus Singin’ To My Baby

Eddie Cochran

Hoodoo

The Hoodoo Records imprint conjures up some more magic with the double whammy that is ‘Eddie Cochran’ and ‘Singin’ To My Baby’. With a 16-page booklet providing detailed information coupled with several rare photos, both albums not only provide a healthy dose of Cochran’s well-known numbers (‘C’mon Everybody’, ‘Summertime Blues’, ‘Mean When I’m Mad, ‘Completely Sweet’’) but the bonus material also throws up some wonderful delights such as ‘Twenty-Flight Rock’ and ‘Boll Weevil Song’. Outside of Elvis Presley, Eddie Cochran was definitely one of the pioneers of rockabilly and rock ‘n’ roll music as these two albums provide an introduction and timely reminder of the genius at work.


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Classic Rockabilly

Various Artists

Proper

‘Classic Rockabilly’ is the king of rockabilly box sets by a considerable distance. Packed with some 100 plus songs that appear to reveal something new on repeat listens due to the density on offer here, Proper Records has clearly done their homework as the usual suspects of Presley, Burnette, Perkins, Vincent, Orbison et el are present and accompanied by the lesser-known Justin Tubb, Earl Epps and Vern Pullens. However, it is not just the jaw-droppingly good music on offer here, but the equally compelling comprehensive notes detailing each and every artist and clearly setting this compilation apart from the chasing pack. Viva Proper Records!


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The Emperor’s New Clothes

Jack Rabbit Slim

Western Star

In a recent interview, Bob Butfoy of Jack Rabbit Slim disclosed that the title of the band’s new album had no bearing on the decision-making process of two of its recently departed members but more in conjunction with the rockabilly scene the band continually find themselves lumped in with. In an attempt to move away from said scene, ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes’ reveals itself as something of two components, with one half still rooted in a rockabilly/rock ‘n’ roll rhythm whilst the other taking on more diverse sounds such as the indie sounding ‘Thinkin’ Of Leavin’. It is the latter component that will no doubt win over new fans whereas the more traditional leanings of ‘Rock n Roll Shipwreck’ and ‘Come Back Baby’ will help to retain the purists.


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Wild Streak Vol. 2

Various Artists

Vee-Tone

Hot on the heels of Volume One, the encyclopaedia of 50s music-related knowledge that is Mark Lamarr compiles another set of frantic rock ‘n’ roll for Vee-Tone Records. There is much to be found here and in particular Rocky Holman’s truly eccentric ‘Wild Boy’ that will leave you grinning long after its conclusion. The equally manic ‘Drummer Boy Rock’, replete with backing hollers and drumrolls, from Gene Watson & The Rockets’ maintains the flow and appropriately followed by the guitar-ringing ‘Six Long Weeks’ and the hip-swinging moves of Hank LeGaults’ ‘I Knew’. Only the more formulaic ‘High School Caesar’ slightly takes the edge off of proceedings to an otherwise enthralling compilation.


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Kat Men

Kat Men

Foot Tapping Records

With a balance of original compositions and cover versions, The Kat Men’s much sought after debut album is reissued on Foot Tapping Records with several added additions. As mentioned elsewhere, and kicking-off proceedings, ‘Domino’ sets the benchmark in the rockin’ stakes with its raw guitar assault and pulsating rhythmic beats providing serious competition for Roy Orbison’s original composition. With no time to come up for air, ‘Dark Haired Woman’ and ‘A Heartache I Can’t Bare’ continue in similar fashion, providing convincing evidence that Darrel Higham should really pen more of his own material because these songs, along with the gripping ‘That Sounds Like Fun’, stand up on their own merits.


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Dead Man’s Shoes

The Lucky Bullets

Grappa

As far as rockabilly revival bands go, The Lucky Bullets are actually worth the attention. Spanning not just rockabilly music but blending Western-style influences with added Mexican flavour, ‘Dead Man’s Shoes’ is littered with an assortment of hapless figures and chancers compellingly told by the charismatic Tank Harvey. Whether it’s the guitar twang and bubbling under the surface brass of title song ‘Dead Man’s Shoes’, evoking images of deserted towns and rolling tumbleweeds, to the leading bass tempo of love-struck ‘Bosses Daughter’ or the Johnny Cash inspired ‘Heavy Load’ , The Lucky Bullets possess a deft touch when it comes to songwriting. Defining moments, however, are left to the darkly comic film noir that is ‘Mrs B. Have’ and still essential ‘Fire Below’.


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Eight Classic Albums Plus Bonus Singles

Elvis Presley

Real Gone

Free of any pretence, Real Gone has put together a mammoth box set covering eight classic albums of Elvis Presley spanning from 1956 – 1960 with additional singles included for good measure over four CDs. With minor gripes being a lack of any detailed information regarding the recording sessions  during these years or about the man himself let alone a series of photographs to give the listener some inclination of the King’s inner sanctum, the sound quality and of course the rockin’ tracks more than compensate for any such grievances.



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