Quick plays: MATISYAHU, DAVID RAMIREZ, MATTHEW LOGAN VASQUEZ

MATISYAHU Undercurrent

MATISYAHU Undercurrent Fallen Sparks/Thirty Tigers [Release date 19.05.17]

Reggae, hip hop, rap and beatboxing.  Four musical styles I’d cross the road to avoid.  Period.  Add in Orthodox Jewish themes, and Matisyahu should be a big no, no, no, no, NO.

But Matthew Paul Miller (otherwise know by his Hebrew name, Matisyahu, ‘Gift Of God’), a Jewish, white American throws an element of alternative rock into the mix, and much to my own bemusement I found myself strangely drawn to the opening pairing of ‘Step Out Into The Light’ and ‘Back To The Old’.

Outstanding melodies, wonderful bass playing from Stu Brooks, and some glorious arrangements, regularly stretch effortlessly to 9, 10 and more minutes, born out of extended jam sessions by the band, Brooks, Aaron Dugan (guitars), Bigyuki (keys) and  Joe Tomino (drums), before any lyrics were penned.

An inspired self-produced set of 8 tracks over 72 minutes, I’d strongly advise not writing Undercurrent off without a listen.  I think I may need to go for a lie down.  ***1/2

Review by Pete Whalley

DAVID RAMIREZ We're Not Going Anywhere

DAVID RAMIREZ We’re Not Going Anywhere Sweetworld [Release date 08.09.17]

Over here on a brief tour supporting Matthew Logan Vasquez (there’s some irony in playing Manchester’s Deaf Institute), David Ramirez is one of the world’s seemingly infinite number of singer songwriters.

But he’s has been recording since 2003, and if the Americana singer songwriter genre is of appeal, then his new album – which falls somewhere in style between Streets Of Philadelphia-era Springsteen, classic Glen Campbell, and Gold-era Ryan Adams – is well worth checking out.

Originally inspired by Adams to explore the singer/songwriters of the ’60s and ’70s, Ramirez has developed his own, unique, compelling, storytelling style and ‘We’re Not Going Anywhere’ is an impressive calling card.  It’s impassioned, and beautifully constructed and produced.

It may not be unique enough to stand out in an overflowing marketplace, where mainstream success is becoming harder and harder to achieve, but with numbers like the highly impressive ‘Stone Age’ in his locker,there’s much to admire here.  ***

Review by Pete Whalley

MATTHEW LOGAN VASQUEZ Does What He Wants
Dine Alone Music [Release date 21.04.17]

Who?  The frontman from Delta Spirit?  Who?  Most this side of the pond will be unacquainted with the band, but the California-based indie outfit have tickled the Billboard Top 200 with their last couple of rock/Americana/soul releases.

On his second solo release, Does What He Wants, Matthew Logan Vasquez does just that, meandering without any obvious cohesion from track to track.  It opens with a seeming statement of intent with ‘Same’ an emo-fuelled blast of 80′s Miami Vice style pop/rock/soul underpinned by some first rate Philly-style backing vocals from Kam Franklin and classic Stax strings.

But that early promise evaporates thereafter as Vasquez flits from the vaguely Prince-like ‘Fatherhood’, the Beatles/Lennon infused ‘Fires Down In Mexico’, echoes of Ryan Adams with a hint of World thrown in (‘Tall Man’), calypso (!?) on ‘Red Fish’, the Bolan/Bowie Heroes-influenced ‘Old Ways’, and the Orbison inspired ‘House Full Of Music’ – a musical hall ‘Those Magnificent Men In Their Fly Machines’ style waltz.

There’s plenty of interest here, but the diversity of styles and influences make Does What He Wants seem less than the sum of its parts.   **1/2

Review by Pete Whalley


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Power Plays w/c 17 July 2017


DANIELLE MORGAN Shy (indie)
BIGFOOT The Fear (Frontiers)
JUDIE TZUKE So (Big Moon)
JONNY LANG Bitter End (Provogue)


Featured Albums w/c 17 July (Mon-Fri)

09:00-12:00 TEN Gothica (Frontiers)
12:00-13:00 RIVERDOGS California (Frontiers)
14:00-16:00 ELEANOR McEVOY The Thomas Moore Project (MOSCODISC)



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