Quick plays: LEVI CUSS, JIM McHUGH

LEVI CUSS Just Below Radio

LEVI CUSS Just Below Radio (Vol. 1 & 2) [Release date 03.11.17]

Well, that’s a first – 2 EP CDs, 4 tracks on each, which surely doubles up on the production cost, when both would fit handsomely on a single CD with room to spare for a multitude of other songs.  But it makes a statement.

With a short September – November folk club tour of less than a dozen random dates (it’s a long way to travel to Stockport and Glasgow for just a couple of ‘northern’ dates), folk driven rock and roller Levi Cuss, from Alberta, Canada delivers a handsome, rootsy set of songs inspired by hanging out in London last year.

Some swelling organ (and piano) from Chris Gestrin lends a nice period feel to a set that boogies, grooves, and smoulders, fuelled by Cuss’s raw vocals, some delightful pedal steel and perfectly weighted bluesy lead guitar lines.

With hints of Dylan, Neil Young, Ryan Adams and the likes, Just Below Radio is a good ‘honest’ record played with feel and no frills.  If he’s playing near you, check him out.  ***1/2

Review by Pete Whalley

JIM McHUGH Noise Machine [Release date 22.10.17]

The debut release, co-produced by Ben Reel, from Northern Irish singer songwriter Jim McHugh, is indeed a rather ‘noisy’ record.  It’s one of the most raw and unpolished efforts I’ve heard in a long time, but there’s an indefinable charm and honesty to the set.

Opening with the cacophonous, and somewhat chaotic ‘Hills Of Mullyash’ there’s a great hook lurking, and it’s easy to imagine that in their infancy U2 probably sounded this rough around the edges.  And in many ways, this record could well point to the way in which a somewhat stale music industry might be re-calibrated.

I’m not suggesting Noise Machine is in any way approaching ‘masterpiece’ status, but along with band members James ‘Butch’ McNeill (drums), Paul McCabe (bass), and Ronnie Morgan (second guitar), McHugh it’s easy hear McHugh’s passion bleeding through the tracks.

And that’s the charm of Noise Machine, it’s uncultured, indie folk driven rock that has a vibrant beating heart.  From the driving single ‘Red Rose’, the catchy ‘River Won’t Flow’, the rootsy ‘My Destiny’ and ‘Help Her Help M’e, to the almost Velvet Underground reminiscent ‘Do You Remembe’r, there’s a rich vein of potential coursing through the grooves of this record.  ***1/2

Review by Pete Whalley


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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 14 March 2021 and includes the Top 10 albums at www.getreadytorock.com for that week.

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