SONS OF THE SEA S/t
Avow! Records [Released 03.03.14] www.menbran.net
Sons of the Sea is a collaboration between producer Brendan O’Brien (Incubus/Pearl Jam/RATM/Springsteen) and Brandon Boyd of Incubus (not a band I have heard anything by although my daughter informs me You Me At Six are big fans!). The pair of them play all the instruments too bar some of the drums which Josh Freese (ex-A Perfect Circle/NIN) handles.
This is a aural wonderland of pop songs harking back to the Beachboys harmonies on ‘Come Together’ (released as the lead single of the album) through to the catchy pop refrain of ‘Lady Black’. The latter song actually sounds better in it’s acoustic form (one of three bonus acoustic songs on the album). ‘Jet Black Crow’ I love for the vocal arrangements, reminiscent of latter day XTC and ‘Avalanche’ would make an obvious single/airplay choice.
Fans of Brandon’s band Incubus and his previous solo works will enjoy this and if like me you enjoy melodious songs, whatever the musical genre, do give this a listen. ****
Review by Jason Ritchie
JOSH TAERK Josh
Misty Creek Records [Released 28.04.14] www.joshtaerk.com
This is a special edition of his debut album released last year, adding four bonus acoustic songs. Josh Taerk is a tireless live performer as a follower of his Facebook page he seems to be playing every small to medium sized venue going in the UK. Hopefully this hard gigging will pay off in album sales as he has a strong vocal and can pen a decent melodic rock tune.Oh and Rush fans Terry Brown lends his expert production skills to four songs on here.
‘My Angel’ is one of his best songs, a love song that soars on the chorus. Listen to this song to give you a quick taste of his undoubted talent. It can get a little too laid back for my personal tastes like on ‘Hopelessly’.
The four bonus acoustic songs shed a different light on the songs, with ‘Smell The Roses’ slowed down from its electric pop rock original.
A lot of the songs are tailored made for Radio 2 or Magic, nicely crafted pop rock songs based on a strong melody and lyric. I’d be very surprised if Josh Taerk doesn’t become a much more widely known musician this time next year and it will be well deserved. ****
Review by Jason Ritchie
INGER LORRE & THE CHIEFS OF INFINITY Snowflake/Hate In My Heart Cargo Records
“Snowflake/Hate In My Heart” marks the return of former Nymphs front woman Inger Lorre. Her first recorded output since 1999’s “Transcendental Medication” album this limited edition white vinyl 7” single is being released as part of this year’s Record Store Day.
“Snowflake” is a dirty, punk infused track that takes you right back to the days of The Nymphs. The piano part is reminiscent of Iggy Pop’s “I Wanna Be Your Dog” and the added hand claps also give it that vibe.
Long reputed to straddle the fine line between genius and madness, Lorre has captured both on this single. “Hate In My Heart” is a slower, darker track that deals with souring relationships. With a feel that lies somewhere between the bluesy and a f*cked up circus ride, this is one of the best vocal performances of Lorre’s career.
The single recently debuted on Henry Rollins’ radio show and hopefully this will now be followed by a full album. Come the 19th of April I highly recommend getting your hands on a copy. ****
Review by Nikk Gunns
ADRIAN NATION Live At The Crossroads
Who? Where? Rather embarrassingly, I wondered who at GRTR! had come up with the quote on the PR blurb ‘Easy on the ear, it should have Whispering Bob salivating superlatives’ only to discover it was in fact me, in my review of Adrian Nation’s 2010 release Fall or Fly. I did, however, say it wasn’t going to set any pulses racing – which perhaps explains how none of the album ultimately made it to my mp3 library.
This new release by the ‘troubadour’ style singer songwriter was recorded for Crossroads Radio in the Netherlands in front of a live audience, and while there’s perhaps a lack of ambience the recorded acoustic guitar sound is rather fine, perfectly capturing the nuances of Nation’s finger picking style.
But it also exposes some of his frailties – he’s not the most gifted of vocalists and some of his lyrics can be a little ‘predictable’ at times. The spotlight here leaves no hiding place in this regard on what is a pleasant enough set, but ultimately one that’s unlikely to court new listeners and find most sales from the ‘merch’ stalls at folk circuit gigs. **1/2
Review by Pete Whalley
BIRDS OF CHICAGO Live From Space
JT Nero (JT & The Clouds frontman Jeremy Lindsay) and Allison Russell (Po’ Girl) first combined their talents on the 2011 JT Nero branded Mountains/Forests album – an album of Americana that lacked a commercial edge. But under the plumage of Birds Of Chicago they revealed a marginally more ‘mainstream’ approach with their eponymous 2013 album – one that echoed elements of Paul Simon’s solo work and JT’s unlikely vocal blend of Rod Stewart and Leo Sayer was complemented perfectly by the honeyed sweetness of Russell’s.
Live from Space finds the pair touring that album and captures their hometown gig at Space, Evanston, Illinois in the summer of 2013. It’s an eclectic set of soul, folk, and blues infused Americana that has an organic feel to it that echoes back across the musical generations to less complicated times.
Backed by five likeminded players with no overdubs and no re-dos, the result is charming set that reaffirms what fine live performers they are. They play a limited number of dates in the UK and Ireland in April/May – treat yourself if they touchdown near you. ***1/2
Review by Pete Whalley
SHARP PRACTISE Steal With Pride (www.sharppractise.com)
‘Steal With Pride’ is full of ideas but like many “self-productions” is somewhat lacking in execution. This is Nigel Clothier’s fifth album and it isn’t any wonder that he’s yet to savour the “breakthrough” moment.
Whereas much homespun material is sonically lacking, where this album falls down is that everything is recorded and produced far too cleanly which to a large extent has sucked the guts out of it.
Mainman Nigel Clothier is the chief mover and shaker. Vocalist, chief writer, chief bottle-washer. His limp vocals won’t appeal to many listeners and his writing is somewhat derivative.
For example, the standout track ‘Hard Heart’ pinches the iconic bassline of ‘Black Velvet’ (Alannah Myles) whilst ‘Fine Line’ smacks of The Strangler’s ‘Hanging Around’ albeit at a slightly more pedestrian tempo. This is – let us be in no doubt – lazy songwriting and detracts from the evidently good intentions. However, it does reinforce the album’s title.
I’ve not heard Clothier’s previous offerings and on the strength of this I wouldn’t want to but perhaps he and his alter-ego ‘Sharp Practise’ should undergo a period of consolidation, pick out by the best tunes, and get a good producer. *1/2
Review by David Randall
LOVISA STAHL – #2
Based on the sultry image on the CD – skin tight, skimpy off the shoulder number and toting a low strung Gibson – I was expected something a little raunchy on album #2 from Swedish songwriter/ musician Lovisa Ståhl.
But #2 is, in fact, a mix of blues, folk, jazz, bossa nova and soul recorded in what I can only describe as 1970′s ‘music for pleasure’ style.
Recorded by Henrik Alsér (Robyn, Soundtrack Of Our Lives) and featuring blues legend Steve Grahn, trombonist Paddy Sherlock and violinist Filip Runesson the album has a very ‘clean’, uncluttered sound that provides a warm platform for Ståhl’s distinctive vocals.
Her intonation, however, suggests she’s may be more comfortable singing in her native tongue, but that would, of course, limit her potential audience. That said, #2, while pleasant enough is unlikely to have universal appeal beyond those who frequent those ‘after midnight’ jazz/ blues venues where Peggy Lee is a regular juke box favourite. **
Review by Pete Whalley
David Randall presents a weekly show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, Sundays at 22:00 BST (GMT+1, repeated on Mondays and Fridays), when he invites listeners to ‘Assume The Position’. This show was first broadcast on 2 August 2020.
UK Blues Broadcaster of the Year (2020) Pete Feenstra presents his weekly Rock & Blues Show on Tuesday at 19:00 ( BST, GMT+1) as part of a five hour blues rock marathon “Tuesday is Bluesday at GRTR!”. The show is repeated on Wednesdays at 22:00, Fridays at 20:00). This show was first broadcast 4 August 2020.
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Featured Albums w/c 3 August (Mon-Fri)
09:00-12:00 LIONVILLE Magic Is Alive (Frontiers)
12:00-13:00 MAD MAX Stormchild Rising (SPV)
14:00-16:00 MARY COUGHLAN Life Stories (2020)
Power Plays w/c 3 August (Mon-Fri)
SOUTH OF SALEM Cold Day In Hell (indie)
BLACK LESION Sins (indie)
CAROLINE JONES All Of The Boys (Social Family Records)
BLACK SUN Resist (Rockshot Records)
THE JAILBIRDS Dull My Brain (Golden Robot Records)
FROM ASHES TO NEW Scars That I’m Hiding (Better Noise Records)
THE GEORGIA THUNDERBOLTS Spirit Of A Workin’ Man (Mascot)
THE BEAUTY OF GEMINA Apologise (TBOG Music)
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