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Released Out now

 

Cat Scratchin’

Various Artists

Koko Mojo

Stamping their identity all over this compilation album are the female singers of 50s and early 60s generations trying to make a name for themselves in a largely male dominated industry. What the listener will experience with ‘Cat Scratchin’ is a variety of songs, with a variety of styles that show flashes of sophistication and songs borne out of more primitive foundations. There’s plenty of attitude as well as honesty, not to mention a mental toughness as well as vulnerability that serves up a perfect balance of emotions. Most tracks give the suggestion of late 50s and early 60s periods in history with the rhythm and blues ranging from late-night torchbearers such as the excellent ‘Please Give Me A Match’ performed by Rebecca Williams, to the tub-thumping, boisterous racket that is ‘Holy Mack’reel’ from equally animated vocals of Prentice Moreland. More interestingly, a few of the songs selected by the female performers either perform still from a male perspective, such as the previously mentioned ‘Holy Mack’reel’, or elsewhere show signs of subtle changes via Geneva Vallier and her interpretation of Ray Charles’ I Got A Woman’ with ‘You Said You Had A Woman’. There’s plenty to take in with ‘Cat Scratchin’ from the near-ramshackle rhythm of ‘How Can I Lose’ (Shirley Ann Lee), to something far more ambitious sounding via the album’s title track by Marie Williams. A solid and worthwhile collection of songs that show the female artists certainly matched their male counterparts when it came to engage an audience (look no further than Peppy Prince and ‘Ain’t Nothing Shaking’ for immediate evidence of this) by revealing a variety of emotions that make up ‘Cat Scratchin’.


Released Out now

 

Love Shock

Various Artists

Koko Mojo

It’s all about love as far as this volume is concerned in the Koko Mojo series that largely focuses on blues and rhythm and blues. With twenty-eight tracks to get its message across regarding the subject of love, ‘Love Shock’ is filled with the anticipations of love and any such joys stemming from this. You can hear it in some of the rhythms alone where they’re often light and upbeat such as Carl Matthews’ ‘Big Man’ or swirling on its toes in compelling fashion and providing something altogether quite different, yet still fitting in with this genre, via Stick Evans and ‘You’re The One’. The excitement can hardly be contained once The Devilles get underway with ‘Tell Me So’ where you will find a swinging rhythm complete with doo-wop backing vocals powering this number along. Falling under the spell here though is the wonderfully named Teddy Mr. Bear McRae and, pick of a very good bunch, ‘Hi Fi Baby’ that packs a confident punch of blues/rhythm and blues and matured bourbon-soaked vocals. Full of life and giddy at the prospect of love as well as being in love, the compilation ‘Love Shock’ is yet another strong statement of the quality held by this series.


Released Out now

 

Hit Your Heart (Single)

Dagny X Aoki

Propeller Recordings

We confessed our love for the “Songbird from the North” (aka Dagny) back in the day when the pop sensation that was ‘Backbeat’ was blaring from the Norwegian airwaves. Returning with a new single ‘Hit Your Heart’, which follows after previous singles ‘Used To You’, ‘Drink About’ and ‘That Feeling When’, in addition to a busy live schedule last year, Dagny made the decision to call on producer, DJ and fellow artist Steve Aoki to help deliver the end results for her latest single. Such a decision to collaborate with Aoki reaps dividends for Dagny as ‘Hit Your Heart’ tugs on the senses from the start with a determined outlook “You know I’m coming back to you like a bullet” that’s set to a finger-clicking, synth-driven rhythm which has a habit of igniting during the chorus, and blares even louder nearing the song’s conclusion. Comparisons with current pop sensations Ariana Grande and Taylor Swift will be identified here, as similar vocal and rhythmic stylings can be heard (Dagny has international ties with Republic Records responsible for Grande and Swift), but this does not deter ‘Hit Your Heart’ from being the compelling record it is, and on its own pop merits.


Released 5 April

 

Noise From The Attic

Heyme

Jezus Factory Records

Originally from Holland but now residing in Poland after a lengthy stint performing in various bands in Belgium, Heyme (Langbroek) releases his first solo album on Jezus Factory Records. With this record being a genuine solo affair where all instruments on all the songs are played by Heyme, and a recording space that consisted of his attic at home with recording sessions pencilled in for every Sunday, the ten songs crafted on this debut solo album are largely built out of improvisation. With Heyme admitting that improvisation largely took place during these recordings, “I just started playing and recording and improvised on top of that, weaving rhythm and melodies into tapestries of sound.” Such words are true once ‘A Day In Life’ unfurls its sounds where you will hear brass instrumentation punctuating at various stations and aiding the direction of this moody opener. It’s a compelling start and continues in similar fashion with ‘Paranoid’ offering vocals to paint a broader picture, before slipping back into a pure instrumental via ‘Hard Times’. The method of work adopted here harks back to Heyme’s days of recording with Kiss My Jazz, and later IH8 Camera, where improvising on the spot was integral to both bands in terms of how they operated. It’s no surprise, therefore, that Heyme has continued with such a formula that functions for him as well as creating such beautiful tender moments as ‘All Time Favourite’, to the stretched out melancholy of ‘Where She Goes (she goes)’ that will linger long in the memory long after this album spins to its conclusion. It’s a formula that has served Heyme well, and continues to do so with the near continual loop of instrumentation and improvised workings added on top that suggest feelings of loneliness and sadness whether informed lyrically or via the instruments that capture your senses from start to finish, thus making ‘Noise From The Attic’ a truly remarkable album considering its humble foundations.


Released Out now

 

Coming Home

The Rob Ryan Roadshow

Rhythm Bomb

It’s been a few years since the last outing from The Rob Ryan Roadshow with their ‘Live At Montreux Jazz Festival’ long player. However, 2019 marks a fresh start for the band with their new album ‘Coming Home’, which is their first studio recording since 2014’s ‘Going Old School’. The latest album ‘Coming Home’ reveals the band at quite possibly their best and delivers their usual trademarks of skilful musicianship combined with versatility, not to mention a willingness to experiment when it comes to their decision-making. All such points are to be commended as The Rob Ryan Roadshow continue with such traits during ‘Coming Home’ where roots rock meets bluesy rhythms and country-fried grooves. This broad sourcing of influences is what sets the Rob Ryan Roadshow apart from several of their contemporaries and really sets the band out as something altogether different. In part, this is down to personal tastes of the band members where each bring their own musical influences to the creative table whether that be rockabilly, country, blues, pop or punk rock, it’s all in there, with some influences subtler than others. It’s also down to the cultural diversity within the band where America meets Germany for a jolly good knees up! By the sounds of it, such a combined mixture of styles and influences really has no right to work, but that’s exactly what occurs from start to finish during ‘Coming Home’. Whether it’s rolling out a blast of blues rock via ‘Blackout’, to rock combined with country of opening song ‘Free’ or swapping tempos for something beautiful and tender of country-tinged ballad ‘Let The Heartache Begin’, The Rob Ryan Roadshow tie their diverse influences together seamlessly. Throw in the band’s customary souvenir and own interpretation of a cover song or two, with ‘Whiskey In The Jar’ being the standout here, suggests The Rob Ryan Roadshow has successfully brought all their influences home and managed a difficult task of melding these together into one accessible whole. ‘Coming Home’ works on all levels and earmarks The Rob Ryan Roadshow as a rather exceptional band.


Released Out now

 

Gonna Make It Alone – Brexit Rockers

Various Artists

Atomicat

The music speaks for itself on this latest compilation from Atomicat, despite its relevance in name only to the current political debate surrounding the UK and rest of Europe. Charging in on a riotous romp of twenty-four tracks comes ‘Goanna Make It Alone – Brexit Rockers’, which is a record for the times; that being the topsy-turvy political climate of the UK and whether to officially leave the EU or remain a full member. As complex and quite frankly baffling the whole process to date has been, not to mention where the past two years has gone, one record label’s decision to express its opinion on this whole, and quite frankly, baffling affair is not only their right but the manner in which ‘Goanna Make It Alone – Brexit Rockers’ conducts itself by throwing a party rather than being a political vehicle. There is not an ounce of political motivation between the rock ‘n’ roll sides of this compilation, more a loose association of track names and lyrics to the current fiasco between the UK / Brussels and Co. So, if you can imagine for one moment Brexit is set out in five stages where the starting post begins via the snappy rhythm of Billy Fury’s ‘Gonna Type A Letter’, complete with the nostalgic sound of the now obsolete typewriter (UK to EU), to the hillbilly yarn of ‘Don’t Push Me Too Far’ from the always reliable Skeets McDonald (EU in reply to the UK), to country-weepy  ‘We’re Talking It Over’ By Faron Young (50 – 50 EU / UK debate), and then final breakdown where we’re informed by  ‘Lies Lies Lies’ (Norman Bullock) before eventually landing rock bottom and ‘Singing The Blues’ with Tommy Steele for company. In fact, there’s so much scope here to devise your own five phases of the Brexit process, which really can take a stinging turn if you like your rock ‘n’ roll on the wild side à la Jackie Lee Cochran (‘Pity Me’), Screamin’ Jay Hawkins (‘There’s Something Wrong With You’) and (it’s in there if you listen closely) George Jones’ superb ‘No Money In This Deal’. It’s a cleverly thought out compilation where song lyrics can be associated with the situation that is Brexit without mentioning politics or having any direct correlations. Therefore, ‘Gonna Make It Alone – Brexit Rockers’ is a very special album for a period that will go down in history forever once this whole affair draws itself to a conclusion. Thankfully, it’s the rock ‘n’ roll music that speaks volumes here and will remain the only winner whatever the eventual outcome at the end of this month. But, to borrow Bill Swing’s song title, it sure is ‘Messed Up’ depending on which side of the political fence one sits of course.


Released Out now

 

Jelly Roll Shuffle

The Jelly Roll Men

Rhythm Bomb

Norway is the destination and where you will find The Jelly Roll Men performing an old-school style of 50’s blues. Smart and stylish in appearance and with songs to match, The Jelly Roll Men unroll a lengthy album consisting of fourteen tracks of originals and covers. The whole album makes for fascinating listening where songs really transport the listener back to a period where song titles such as ‘Date Bait’, ’36-24-38’ and ‘Pontiac Blues’ were befitting of such a time in history (see above) but no longer translate in the modern age for numerous reasons. That is not to say there’s no home for The Jelly Roll Men and their ‘Jelly Roll Shuffle’ in the present, in fact far from it because it remains a delight to have these four musicians, suitably accompanied by fellow blues artist Little Victor operating on production in addition to occasional vocals and guitars, serving up a reminder of traditional blues music where the instrumentation could be slick, just as it could be raw, and the mood often down in the gutter where relationships have long since departed. The album, ‘Jelly Roll Shuffle’, shows enough signs of all such ingredients from ‘Date Bait’s’ initially raw chiming guitar before leading on to something far more sophisticated, to really burnt, scorched sounding tracks (excellently demonstrated by guitars, harmonica and piano) of ‘Rockin’ and ‘Murder My Baby’. Add to this creative melting pot the vocal stylings of Kent Erik who delivers convincing performances during the likes of ‘I’m Tired’ and ‘Come Back Home To Me’ to name but two tracks where genuine signs of vulnerability surface. It all makes for fascinating listening as said earlier, and just happens to be rolled (Sorry!) in to a complete whole that is ‘Jelly Roll Shuffle’.


Released Out now

 

Don’t Mess With Me, Baby

Various Artists

Koko Mojo

The theme of this compilation album of known and lesser known rhythm and blues performers appears to focus on the notion of the blues making itself known whether you’re in relationship or without a relationship. Those suffering from such symptoms can comfort themselves a little once it is known that the blues expressed here started a long, long time ago, in fact, from the beginning of time according to the scribblings of Little Victor“…the eternal LOVE-HATE relationship between men and women that started with Adam and Eve at the Garden of Eden…” But rest assured dear listeners as the songs contained within are full of upbeat rhythms and built for those who like to shake their limbs across the (fifties) dancefloors. ‘Don’t Mess With Me Baby’ is packed with a lively set of songs that opens confidently via the instructions of Bull Moose Jackson and ‘Watch My Signals’, to wild and often sax-driven tracks as ‘She Walked In’ (Morris Pejoe) and Rufus Brown with ‘Keep A Knockin’. With full accompaniment of instruments supporting many of the contents of ‘Don’t Mess With Me, Baby’, the songs listed have certainly moved on from their earlier and more primitive foundations. This is largely noticeable from the fuller sounds as mentioned, but also for the charismatic turns in vocal performances that range in styles where confidence is on full display despite lyrics of despair (i.e. King Perry with ‘Come Back Baby’) to other moments that reveal vocal turns that contain shades of light and dark and superbly demonstrated by Larry Ellison & The Mark IV (‘Young Girls’). So, if you’re suffering from a bout of the blues, then ‘Don’t Mess With Me, Baby’ is the perfect place to find a remedy.


Released Out now

 

Move On!

Various Artists

Koko Mojo

Featuring twenty-eight tracks of predominantly up-tempo rhythm and blues, with some borderline soul influences, is the next in line of this fine, fine series. It is no lie that the tempos are fast and shifting throughout ‘Move On!’ whether rockin’ to a chunky beat of Charles Sims’ ‘Take A Bath’ or flexing those limbs during ‘Du De Squat’ (Little Luther), or shakin’ profusely to back-to-back numbers ‘Lot of Shakin’ Lot of Livin’’ and ‘Shake That Thing’ from Piano Slim and Finney Mo respectively. It’s certainly an upbeat volume and one that was built for a combination of dance moves whether the twist, the crawl or a combined boogie and twist, then ‘Move On!’ is the album to get those limbs moving. There’s even time for a few leftfield manoeuvres if ‘The Kangaroo’ (Charles Sheffield) is your thing, or a bit of Gorilla infused action via ‘Go Go Gorilla’ (The Ideals) that will likely cause one to freeze on the dancefloor if confronted by such a hairy sight, but there remains a plan for such an eventuality if one adopts Fention & The Castle Rockers advice with ‘The Freeze’. There’s even time for a bit of humour with the back-and-forth interaction of Rolls Royce & The Wheels opinion on a certain type of automobile or is it? You decide. No matter as ‘Move On!’ is an album that never remains still for a moment due to an abundance of dancefloor fillers that are high on quality.


Released Out now

 

Dapper Dan

Various Artists

Koko Mojo

A well-dressed turnout from the latest CD in the blues, and rhythm and blues series from Koko Mojo with ‘Dapper Dan’. A mouth-watering twenty-eight tracks present themselves from a longline of artists who get one shot at this, and one shot only to present their best sides. And succeed they most certainly do! From the charismatic double coupling of vocals from Eddie Johnson & Edna Mc Raney with ‘Back Up’, to follow-on ‘No Deposit, No Return’ presenting its message clearly via Martha Davis’ strong vocals that are tied to a tidy, finger-clicking rhythm that hints at jazz influences. There’s similar power in abundance when it comes to Little Miss Jessie & Benny Sharp Orchestra, only the volume ratchets skywards with vocals raw and rattling and set to a shifting tempo of rhythm and blues. As with other volumes, ‘Dapper Dan’ shines brightly due its variety of performances, but also for reviving a sense of history where you can visualise the dusty, smoke-filled environments of bars, dance clubs  and recording studios long since departed, yet brought to life here via tracks such as ‘Poppa Stoppa’ from Thelma Baxter and ‘Get With It’ by Pearl Galloway. With all that said, the most pleasing aspect of ‘Dapper Dan’ is its decision to focus predominantly on female artists, which is a definite positive and makes for interesting listening once the occasional male vocalists are introduced, especially during ‘Brand New Man’ that will raise much debate if you’re paying close attention. ‘Dapper Dan’ is an intelligent and sophisticated compilation where the female vocalists of a bygone era truly showed their worth that still resonates strongly today.


Released Out now

 

Cuan

Ian Nyquist

Eilean Records

Deriving from Dublin, Ireland, Ian Nyquist is an artist with a background in field recording and sound art. By setting his experience to date of compiled field recordings to his first physical release on Eilean Records, the album ‘Cuan’ was recorded over the period of a year between November 2017 – November 2018. The title for the album translates as Bay or Harbour, with the field recordings picking up on Nyquist’s sound messages regarding ‘home’, which its press bio’ refers to the album as it “pays homage to places and people of familiarity.” This is true as the sounds portrayed here often linger for some time as if to pick up and reflect every possible detail that sonically represents the people and places mentioned earlier. A good starting point to experience such descriptions is the shimmering sounds of light during ‘Obelisk’, which reflect to a greater extent nearing its conclusion where a sense of wonder is often felt. Such feelings blossom further with the near-orchestral approach of ‘Bring Her Home’. There are moments containing darker tones such as the loneliness given by ‘After The Disappearance’, which is dominated by piano and genuinely captures one’s attention and followed by murkier tones of ‘Bank na Cise’ and barely audible ‘Peninsualas’. Ian Nyquist has produced a captivating array of sounds that reflect familiar objects and surroundings of his environment that are known to him. However, this does not mean that ‘Cuan’ is an album that sounds introverted and intended for a singular audience, because it’s an album that will have no problem translating to a wider audience where people can apply their own experiences to these tracks and feel a sense of their own familiarity.


Released 1 March

 

This Strange Place

Rafa Russo

Scratchy Records

Defined as a troubadour, screenwriter, film director and, in this instance, singer-songwriter, Rafa Russo marks a return to the music scene with his latest album ‘This Strange Place’. With a lengthy history behind him, Rafa Russo has seen a career take him from his home of Madrid to New York and London and, along this journey, receive rave reviews from the likes of NME, airplay on BBC Radio One and tours supporting Tori Amos, John Martyn, Melissa Etheridge and Zucchero. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that latest album ‘This Strange Place’ is packed full of intricate details both musically and lyrically that will require patience because, as the well-worn phrase goes, this long player is a grower. With each listen there are new details and delights creeping to the surface (clearly expressed by album closer ‘Where Do You Go’), often undersold due to the subtle manner of Rafa Russo’s vocals and delicate instrumentation. It will draw you in and retain your attention without any hesitation as songs ache with sadness and tug at the heartstrings (‘On The Side’). The album appears to be something of a crossroads for Rafa Russo where the title of this record (interestingly and refreshingly no track of the same name) suggests unfamiliarity where optimism can be found in the likes of ‘Beautiful Stranger’, ‘Summertime’ and ‘Something Like Home’, but also emptiness (‘The Beginning Of The End’, ‘Grey’ and ‘Empty Chair’). ‘This Strange Place’ finds Rafa Russo without a definite answer to the problems encased here, but it also suggests that soon there will be a parting of the ways that will lead to more familiar territory that will soon begin to feel like home. It’s a thoroughly compelling listen and deserved of very high praise and likely to still be talked about come the end of year album polls. ‘This Strange Place’ is its name, and one that you will not forget.



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