Quick plays: MADISON VIOLET, STEVE RAVENSFIELD, BLACK ANGELS

MADISON VIOLET The Knight Sessions

MADISON VIOLET The Knight Sessions (Big Lake Music)

With their last album Year Of The Horse (2014), Madison Violet (two piece Canadian female harmony duo Brenley MacEachern and Lisa MacIsaac) shifted from their country/ folk roots to a bolder, dare we say, pop orientated sound.

The Knight Sessions sees them taking that transition one step further applying a light coating of acoustic pop to a selection of old, new and borrowed songs.

With Brenley playing tenor, acoustic and electric guitars, and Lisa fiddle, acoustic guitar, mandolin, piano, bass and harmonica, alongside some guest appearances, co-producer Tino Zolfo fills in the gaps with bass keys, programming and percussion.  But it’s the girls’ harmony vocals that the occupy centre stage of what is a hugely engaging set.

Light and breezy, and laden with hooks, The Knight Sessions is the perfect summertime, feel good, record.  It takes the template The Pierces were so successful with on the hit loaded ‘You And I’, and strips it back to its core components to produce a very lovely, acoustic based record.  Their best release yet?  By a country mile.  ****

Review by Pete Whalley

STEVE RAVENSFIELD  Broken Diamonds [Release date 30.01.17]

Hailing from the Midlands it would seem the only information about Steve Ravensfield is that on his PR sheet.  And in factual terms that’s limited to the fact he grew up listening to his brother’s 70s classic / prog rock collection.

Even his website amounts nothing more than half a dozen links to the usual suspects – Twitter, Facebook, Spotify, iTunes etc.  And they lead to dead ends – no bio, no photos, no dates.  Nada.

But as regards his debut album Broken Diamonds, while his gravelly vocals are well suited to his easy listening brand of acoustic driven soft rock, they don’t always wholly convince. In fact, from a vocal perspective, the star of the show is unquestionably Ange Lloyd whose backing vocals are outstanding throughout.

As for the songs, it’s the opening pairing of ‘Wishing Well’ and ‘How Blind Is Your Love’that really stand out, and on which Lloyd is exceptional.  Beyond that it’s fairly standard fodder, although ‘Ride On’ is undeniably catchy.  ***

Review by Pete Whalley

SOUND OF THE SUBURB Still Waiting [Release date 20.01.17]

‘Still Waiting’ is the second album from Sound Of The Suburb who play a mix of rock ‘n’ roll and easy on the ear soft rock. You get VFM on here with fourteen songs, although a little bit of culling may have helped as the album does drag a little midway through.

For the most part it is well played rock ‘n’ roll with ‘The Night Is Young’ sure to get you dancing in the aisles. Two of the bonus songs, ‘Take A Chance’ and ‘I Gotta Know (Twangy)’ are foot tapping rock ‘n’ rollers featuring some tasty lead guitar from Chris Berlingieri. The latter taps into the famous twangy guitar playing style of Duane Eddy. There is also bizarrely an synth instrumental included as one of the four bonus tracks and it doesn’t really fit in with the sound of the rest of the album.

Sound Of The Suburbs would be a hoot to see live I am sure, they just don’t really convince as much on an album. ***

Review by Jason Ritchie

THE BLACK ANGELS Death Song [Release date 21.04.17]

The Black Angels have been around since 2004 and this is their first new album in four years. Their brand of psychedelic rock has won them many fans and plaudits, which is sure to continue with this album.

The music veers from the heavy guitar on ‘I’d Kill For Her’ through to the Suede like vocals on ‘Grab As Much (As You Can)’. Stand out is ‘Currency’, where a slow building guitar and drum beat give way to a crashing riff and a QOTSA approved bass line, topped by the high pitched vocals of Alex Maas.

Not my usual musical bag but impressive and the band’s fans will certainly enjoy this one. ***1/2

Review by Jason Ritchie


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