Quick plays: MY FAIR FIEND, ARI AND THE ALIBIS, LOCUST HONEY STRING BAND, EUREKA

MY FAIR FIEND  Making Monsters

MY FAIR FIEND  Making Monsters

‘Quirky’ is an oft used description in the singer songwriter world, but it does describe the sophomore release from Utah-based My Fair Fiend  a vehicle for the talents of singer songwriter Callie Crofts.

Musically, the release might appeal to those who like Kate Nash and Tori Amos, but the weird thing is that Callie’s vocals have what sounds like an unmistakeable Irish lilt to them  a bit like Dolores O’Riordan.  But that’s clearly my imagination.

The release comes with ‘alternative’/progressive badging and reconnoitres odd time signatures and sparsely punctuated arrangements, melodies peppered by tangential explorations, and with Croft’s vocals regularly taking flight with unexpected inflections.

‘Edgy’ is a good way to describe Making Monsters.  It visits musical landscapes as diverse as Sgt Pepper and Alanis Morissette, and is both beautifully and intricately constructed.  At times it’s just plain kooky, but when Crofts steers a course a little closer to the mainstream, as on the title track and lead single, it’s easy to imagine My Fair Fiend striking a chord way beyond those looking for something just a little ‘different’.  Intriguing.  ***1/2

Review by Pete Whalley

Eureka - Great Escapes

EUREKA Great Escapes

www.eureka-music.de [Release date 15.11.15]

Eureka released an enjoyable, mainly instrumental prog rock album ‘Shackleton’s Voyage’ back in 2009. Now they are back with this album and one that is much more straight ahead rock, with a progressive edge. Overall the album reminds me a lot of 80′s era Rush, with Frank Bossert’s vocals like a lower-range Geddy Lee.

Eureka is mostly the creation and playing of Frank Bossert, with a few guests most notable of which is RPWL’s keyboards player Yogi Lang. The songs are very catchy and a song like ‘Stolen Child’ would appeal to melodic rock fans.

For a more progressive feel ‘Chase The Dream’ does the job nicely, swathes of keys and guitar fit snugly behind the vocals of Bossert. One epic song, ‘The Big Picture’ has plenty of musical treats contained within its ten minutes, including tin whistle and mandolin, again some fantastic keys throughout the song.

Don’t let this one escape your musical attention. Well played and produced melodic prog rock, which I am surprised has not been picked up by one of the established record labels. ****

Review by Jason Ritchie

ARI AND THE ALIBIS Dirty Little Secret

Unusually, we were only supplied with a sampler for Florida based Ari And The Alibis debut release.

Together for just two years they blend funk, jazz and samba with blues, soul and rock into a ‘multicultural experience’.  Ari MeManus has a suitable jailhouse growl to her vocals and the Alibis (Nicolass Kraster on guitar, James Dabone on trombone, David Whittaker on bass, and John Walker on drums) deliver a suitably sparse and atmospheric backing, with Dabone’s trombone giving their sound a ‘fat’ jazz edge and suitably embellishing the Latin influenced aspects of the material.

On the strength of the five tracks here (one third of the album), Dirty Little Secret is fairly standard ‘cabaret’ style fare, with the more soulful numbers (like ‘Last Dance’) having a vague Gloria Gaynor vibe.  It’s what I’d call ‘entertainment’ rather than a serious statement of intent.  **1/2

Review by Pete Whalley

LOCUST HONEY STRING BAND  Never Let Me Cross Your Mind

Sometimes there’s crossover appeal to be found in the avalanche of folk/country roots releases that pass across the GRTR! review desk.  But Locust Honey String Band  singer and fiddler Chloe Edmonstone, guitarist/singer Meredith Watson, and banjo player Hilary Hawke, is a plain ‘old-time’ affair.

Featuring heart-breaking country harmonies, and supported by the upright bass of John Miller, Never Let Me Cross Your Mind is steeped in the old-time bluegrass music of the Appalachian Mountains.  From fiddle/banjo tunes to duets, dancehall honky-tonk and mountain blues it’s a roots ‘fest’.  So while purists would, no doubt rightly, score it considerably higher, from a GRTR! perspective I can sadly award it only it ** stars.  **

Review by Pete Whalley

VARIOUS – Songs Of Separation

www.songsofseparation.co.uk [Released 29.01.16]

Songs of Separation sees five female Scottish folk musicians and five female English folk musicians heading to the west coast Isle of Eigg to make an album together. The project was conceived by Jenny Hill and includes Eliza Carthy and Kate Young amongst the line-up.

It is a mix of traditional and newly penned songs, that all tied in by the theme of separation and this album was recorded over the space of a week when all ten musicians gathered together. The harmonies on songs like ‘Sad The Climbing’ and the traditional song ‘Unst Boat Song’ are simply stunning, whilst Eliza Carthy shines on ‘Cleaning The Stones’. It is very traditional sounding Celtic and English folk, played to a high standard as you’d expect and in particular the fiddle playing.

There has been a lot of love and attention poured into these twelve songs, resulting in an album that will delight and get the listener thinking at the same time. If the live shows go well hopefully there will be another album. ****

Review by Jason Ritchie


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Power Plays w/c 21 July (Mon-Fri)

DANNY BEARDSLEY This Fool (indie)
KRIS BARRAS Ignite (Light It Up) (Provogue)
MIND KEY Vertigo (Where The Cold Wind Blows) (Frontiers)
HOLLOW HAZE A Different Sky (Frontiers)
KIN SOUND SYSTEM Live Again (indie)
SAPIEN TRACE Precipice (indie)
STONEWIRE FTM (indie)
FIFTEEN LIONS So Serene (indie)

Featured Albums w/c 21 July (Mon-Fri)

09:00-12:00 JANET GARDNER Your Place In The Sun (Pavement Music)
12:00-13:00 THE NEW ROSES Nothing But Wild (Napalm Records)
14:00-16:00 JESSE KINCH I’m Not Like Everybody Else (Curb Records)

Albums That Time Forgot (Mon-Fri)

LOVE & MONEY Dogs In The Traffic (1991)



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