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Wait For Dark With A Heady Heart EP

Gymnast

Untitled

It’s difficult to comprehend that ‘Wait For Dark With A Heady Heart’ is the first release by Cathy Wilcock and Chris Lyon otherwise known as Gymnast such is the accomplished songwriting throughout this EP. Simply divine in its execution with its minimalist approach of electronic beats, classical instrumentation and beautiful vocals, ‘Wait For Dark…’ is the kind of music built for late nights with only a broken heart for company. There is hope, however, demonstrated by ‘The Flood or the Fire’ as a reassuring vocal steps out of the shadows to offer ‘We’ll get over this, get a hold on it, we’ll get out of the fire’. One hopes that miracles really can happen as the return of Gymnast is now of the highest priority.


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Eventually Your House Will Burn Down EP

Bloody Mammals

Flatpack Recordings and 49s Vs Dolphins

Opening in a bloodcurdling assault of vocals underscored with a sonic groove, Bloody Mammals is that sort of post-hardcore band that doesn’t make you want to reach for the off button because they actually incorporate various elements into their music that suggests scope for longevity. The ghost of Fugazi certainly makes its presence felt especially with the excellent ‘Tie Down Team’ and the gear shifting ‘Long Song’ that gradually creeps towards its conclusion in a mesh of drums and guitars. With the EP’s lyrics purporting to a cursed neighbourhood relayed through a number of different perspectives, it is not only the wild and aggressive yet melodic strands running through these songs that captivate but the imaginative yarns that lift Bloody Mammals above the pack.


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Rendezvous

Cow Cow Boogie

Rhythm Bomb

Hailing from Edinburgh but sounding as if they have just stepped out of some southern county stateside, Cow Cow Boogie deliver a rather authentic taste of western swing and country via the Rhythm Bomb record label.

Opening with an uncharacteristic and extremely brief aggressive strum on the guitar, ‘Belleville Rendezvous’ perfectly sets the tone for what’s to come with its western feel and ‘Belleville swinging rendezvous’ dual chorus but minus the trite whip cracking effect that nonetheless can still be heard. Hot on its heels is the lovely lilting ‘Cow Cow Boogie’ detailing a singing cowboy with his own spin on the genre and perhaps a cheeky wink to the purists out there considering the band’s geographical location, whereas ‘Scorched’ is definitely to be applauded as a fine take on Varetta Dillard’s version. ‘Train Train’ via Dolly Parton is an appropriate farewell and no doubt a joy to be heard live, as Cow Cow Boogie build up a steaming momentum before the brakes are finally applied. Judging by the quality shown here, ‘Rendezvous’ is worth an appointment with anyone’s ears.


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I Do Nothing But Regret The Fact That I Left (EP)

Disembarked

Dog Knights Productions

In their short history to date, forming as early as 2012, Swedish post-hardcore unit, Disembarked has created an extremely impressive EP full of gut churning emotions which come as a result of the soul-destroying revelations at the core of this work. With the literal definition of abscond meaning ‘to depart in a sudden and secret manner’ it is small wonder that Pontus Figge Carlsson sounds like a man teetering on the verge of losing the power of speech such is the frantic and despairing nature of his pleas literally straining at the leash before being driven back to the very point he started from during ‘Abscond’. This is raw honesty of the highest order as ‘Bewildered’ seems to squeeze out its literal meaning in utterly compelling fashion. Guitars ring out loud in abundance, yet offer sweet melodic support on several occasions bringing to mind Explosions in the Sky and This Will Destroy You. If future releases continue in similar fashion, then Disembarked is one to look out for as on present form the band is definitely an intriguing prospect.


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Nanobots

They Might Be Giants

Lojinx

It is incredible to think that They Might Be Giants have been walking this Earth since 1982 taking in along the way smash hit single ‘Birdhouse In Your Soul’ and platinum album ‘Flood’ before seemingly disappearing once more into eternal obscurity. Silence has been broken, however, as the band return with their 16th studio album of yet more unusual and quirky tales and catchy choruses this time involving everything from Nanobots to a circular karate chop (I can’t help but grin widely – FLW).

They Might Be Giants absence is duly noted by the band with a knowing wink during the opening fanfare of, ‘Hi! I forgot your name, whatever’ before launching into a tale concerning combustible heads the kind, ‘I read an article all about them’ and then succeeded by the instantly infectious (what else do you expect?!) title track ‘Nanobots’ with its lovely dual-vocal opening.

There is much to take in here, as the shady mutterings of ‘Black Ops’ leaves much to ponder about, as do the songs ‘Decision Maker’ and ‘Tick’ due to their brief appearances; springing to mind the short eccentricities littered throughout the Fatima Mansions’ ‘Viva Dead Ponies’ but minus the robust intensity. ‘Sometimes A Lonely Way’ is proof that They Might be Giants can also play it straight and offers further evidence that on current form contract negotiations for album number 17 should not be too far away.


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Delta Machine

Depeche Mode

Columbia

‘All the drama queens are gone’ suggests a touch of self-mockery during the broody ‘Welcome To My World’, nicely restrained in its execution, but all the usual hallmarks of Depeche Mode remain throughout this, their 13th studio album and nothing wrong with that either. In fact, Martin Gore has referred to latest album ‘Delta Machine’ as a fusion of the band’s masterpiece ‘Violator’ with the not too far behind in the classic stakes ‘Songs Of Faith And Devotion’. Such a revelation is accurate as ‘Angel’ is reminiscent of lead vocalist Dave Gahan in preacher mode circa ‘Songs Of…’ whereas the electronic subtlety of ‘Secret To the End’ could easily contest for a place on ‘Violator’. However, it is the understated tone of ‘Delta Machine’ which really sets it apart from the aforementioned DM releases and this is much welcomed. The skeletal electronica of ‘My Little Universe’ and tinge of swampy rock during ‘Slow’ offer a freshening of the DM palette and further reasoning as to why this band is still relevant. Martin Gore adopts vocal duties on ‘Child Inside’ before Dave Gahan resumes normal duties with the pulsating ‘Soft Touch/Raw Nerve’ and stretched vocals of ‘Should Be Higher’. ‘Delta Machine’ may require a tad more patience compared to previous offerings, but persist and you will be rewarded because this is truly exceptional on all levels. Welcome back.


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Café A-La-Rock

Rusti Steel and The Star Tones

Western Star

As far as rockabilly revival albums go, they don’t come much better than this. Rusti Steel and The Star Tones have done it again with a supreme batch of authentic sounding rockabilly numbers that would easily find a home in the 50s. ‘Baby, Won’t You Baby Me’ is a prime example of this authentic delivery with its high desires matching the pacey tempo and equalled by the guitar-driven ‘See My Baby Rock’. It is the rip-roaring ‘Prisoner Of Your Charms’, however, that really competes for supremacy here, and suggests that Rusti and The Star Tones are more than capable of turning it up a notch or two. Despite being a tad too long at fifteen tracks, ‘Café A-La Rock’ is leading proof that Rusti and his Star Tones are governing the pack when it comes to the rockin’ circuit of revival bands.


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Sons Of The Gun

The Bullets

Western Star

Straight outta the Western Star stable come highly tipped trio The Bullets with an array of original rockin’ compositions. ‘Sons Of The Gun’ is the end result of a busy period spent honing and crafting the contents of this long player under the watchful eye of Alan Wilson (The Sharks). Songs brim with a raw energy such as ‘Jump When I Want’ and muscular ‘Mean To Me Baby’ as does the deceptively titled ‘Moonshine’ with its merest hint of twanging guitar yet howling at the moon vocal supplied by Brett Waters. There is petulance afoot with ‘I Don’t Wanna’ whereas ‘The Beast In Me’ contains traces of Johnny Burnette and the Rock ‘n’ Roll Trio which is always a winning ingredient. It is left to the less energized and more country leanings of ‘Desperate Man’ to reveal another facet to The Bullets which is further compounded with the Western flavoured and always welcome brass of ‘Son Of A Gun’. The betting odds have just shortened on The Bullets as most likely artist to breakthrough this year.


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Traces Of You

Eva & The Heartmaker

Sony

“Nothing is the same as it used to be” has a definite ring of truth about it from opening track, and real grower, ‘Too Late’. Falling between indie pop and near-indie guitar seductiveness the likes of which The Cardigans used to churn out with apparent ease, Eva & The Heartmaker has constructed an album which, on first listen, may sound familiar but with repeat listens reveals a considerable amount of hidden subtleties that simply delight the senses. Look no further than the almost soaring and Alphabeat-esque title track ‘Traces of You’ to the more electronica influenced ‘Won’t Stop Loving You’ and infectious ‘Comes Around’ for such evidence. Only ‘Holding Pattern’ sounds out of place with its acoustic delivery but is quickly forgotten due to the irresistible pull of ballad ‘Calling You’.


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Together We Made Music

Chas Hodges

Western Star

Currently touring the length and breadth of the UK due to popular demand as none other than Chas & Dave, ‘Together We Made Music’ sees Chas Hodges flying the flag alone in a tribute to some of the great musicians he has had the pleasure of working with whether as providing backing support or merely strumming a few well-known ditties with the likes of The Beatles or Cliff Richard. Such details can be garnered from the comprehensive liner notes that are as compelling as the covers selected for this solo effort such as ‘Bring A Little Water Sylvie’, ‘Crazy Arms’ and tribute to Screaming Lord Sutch ‘Don’t You Just Know It’. It remains, however, closing number ‘Where Am I Gonna Find Ya’ – a Hodges and initial starting point for co-writer Dave Peacock to pen their own contribution – that really sticks in the throat and offers a timely reminder of why the duo are held so affectionately.


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Infamy

The Sharks

Western Star

The return of Alan Wilson’s The Sharks has been greatly anticipated by the rockabilly and psychobilly fraternity, and what a worthwhile wait new album ‘Infamy’ is proving to be. If it had not been destined for the music world, then a large proportion of ‘Infamy’ could have passed for a criminology thesis concerning the causes and effects of crime, due to its tip of the hat references to the criminal underbelly of society. Despite the darker tones of the lyrical content, ‘Infamy’ is not without considerable humour as ‘House Of Wax’ gives the impression of a silent black and white film complete with hapless victims hotly pursued by a relentless killer, whereas ‘She’s Fallen In Love With The Monster-Man’ conjures up much hilarity with its sweetly seductive girl group vocals and lines offering, ‘Now the monster was weird and just a little unreal, seemed kinda short of that sex appeal’. The swinging rhythms of ‘The King Of London’ and ‘I Can’t Believe You’re Back’ details the infamous exploits of Roy ‘Pretty Boy’ Shaw and Ronnie Biggs respectively, leaving the upbeat tempo of ‘Breakin’ Bones’ to shift theme (Evel Knievel of all things!) along with the intimate ‘Desert Diamond’ making this a true return to form.


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På Vei Hjem

Razika

Warner Music/K. Dahl Eftf

The semi-ska revival begins here with Bergen’s Razika. The gears of ‘På Vei Hjem’ really begin to shift in motion from the off with ‘Verdens Beste By’ (‘The World’s Best City’) opening drumroll setting proceedings up nicely for the dissatisfactory opinion of ‘Oslo’ with its; ‘Så kjære Oslo, du ser så bra ut men er ingenting for oss’ (‘So, dear Oslo, you look good but are not for us’) cleverly wrapped up in a sweetly addictive chorus and yarn concerning the complexities of a distant relationship. ‘Oss To For Alltid’ (‘Us Two For Always’) and ‘Gang På Gang’ (‘Time After Time’) will appease the indie brigade and hence the aforementioned ‘semi-ska’ revival as Razika refuses to be shackled with the constraints that labels often bring. The final call of the delicate sounding ‘Bli Her’ (‘Stay Here’) and almost ‘knees-up’ jaunt of ‘Jeg Gir Alt For At Du Skal Gi Deg’ (‘I Give Everything So That You Give Yourself’) bring this album to a solid conclusion. It will be interesting to see where Razika go from here as this is one fine follow-up record.



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