MICHAEL McDERMOTT Willow Springs
Having only just reviewed The Westies – Six On The Out, a vehicle for singer songwriter Michael McDermott, it was something of a surprise to find his 10th solo album land a matter of only weeks later.
Willow Springs finds McDermott in reflective form, his songwriting reflecting a tsunami of emotions as he grappled with being a new father and losing his own, leaving the city for the country, dealing with sobriety, grief, death, mortality , shame and forgiveness.
The spirits of Dylan, and Springsteen in particular, loom large over the set and when he sings the line ‘Tonight I’m bound for glory, drinking lightening from a jar’, McDermott sounds more like the Boss than the man himself.
A confessional set – supported by multi-instrumentalist and long term collaborator Lex Price, guitarist Will Kimbrough, keyboard player John Deaderick, and wife Heather Horton (fiddle and backing vocals) – Willow Springs is, for the most part, a more restrained and downbeat affair than The Westies Six On The Out but – none the less – engaging. ***1/2
Review by Pete Whalley
Album review (The Westies)
MISS RABBIT Tales From The Burrow
Founded in the Rhine Valley, Switzerland in 2010, Miss Rabbit are a ‘girlie’ three piece sisters Melanie and Fabienne Curiger (guitar and bass respectively) and singer Angela Willi, supported live by Roger Köppel (guitars) and Thomas Frei (drums).
Originally a covers band, their second full album finds them treading their own punchy brand of gritty power rock, served with just the right balance of panache and attitude. It owes much to the template laid down by the bands that made Sunset Strip the focal point of the glam metal scene throughout the 1980s.
No nonsense rock n roll, catchy guitars, sleazy bass lines, and female vocal harmonies it’s a universal sound that works well apart from the final two tracks one a rap – that introduce male vocals to the mix. They sound oddly out of place on an album that should, perhaps, have been titled Tails From Burrow. But then, maybe, that doesn’t translate. ***
Review by Pete Whalley
ANNIE KEATING Trick Star
Get Ready To ROCK! last encountered Annie Keating with her 2013 release For Keeps.
Since then she’s released Make Believing an album championed by The Telegraph as one of the best country albums of 2015, but that one seems to have passed us by.
The latest offering from the New York-based Americana singer songwriter was recorded ‘live’ in the studio in just one weekend with a core band of Steve Mayone (guitars), Jason Mercer (bass), Chris Tarrow (guitars), and Yuval Lion (drums), embellished by a supporting cast providing assorted wind, string, vocal and percussive accompaniment.
While it’s peppered with upbeat moments, the overriding feel of Trick Star is rather downbeat and melancholy and one of a set that fails to set the pulse racing. A view acknowledged by the PR release which describes it as ‘not flashy, bright, or conventionally pretty’. It may be born out of ‘authentic reverie’, but generally speaking, the record buying public need a hook to hang their dollar on.
So while it may find favour with the few, Trick Star is unlikely to enhance Keating’s broader commercial appeal. **1/2
Review by Pete Whalley
Formed by Icelandic duo Mike Lindsay and Sam Genders, Throws ply an intriguing mix of electronica based pop featuring high range vocals. On a song like ‘Sun Gun’ they recall Mercury Rev, particularly in the vocals and the hypnotic piano in the background. The synths on this one have an almost Vangelis feel to them. Elsewhere, we have the upbeat pop of ‘High Pressure Front’ – amazing vocal climax on this one. Glitchy electronica mixed with folk on ‘The Harbour’ provides another highlight.
An album to keep persevering with as despite the duo’s ear for a good melody, it is not an instant album. These electronica/folk/strings based bands are hopefully making a splash now, as like Left With Pictures, the Throws are something rather special in the main. ***1/2
Review by Jason Ritchie
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