Johnno Casson aka Snippet – Human Good (Quirky Sounds)
CD / DL
27 October 2017
8.75 / 10
Alternative folk D.I.Y. singer songwriter releases his new
We first featured Snippet back in 2013 with the release of
his DIY album and the last time was in April this last we he released Future
Melancholy Pop his last album. Yes, two
albums in six months – that’s quite some output and particularly when you
consider that Human Good is ten brand new tracks to add to the Casson
Future Melancholy Pop was an album that pivoted around the
potentially darker side of life and of worldwide issues and now, Human Good offers
hope and is a more serene take on his surroundings. For the uninitiated (and, sadly there are
still people out there) that are unfamiliar with his work, just take a
listen. Take a listen to the eloquent
stories and fascinating people profiles that unfold in his words, all wrapped in
some wonderful instrumentation.
From the opening bars of the title track it’s an uplifting
album, it teases with simple but effective lyrics and the sort of tune that
picks you up out of your seat and makes you want to move around, maybe not
dancing but just moving, unprovoked, enjoyment personified. Epitomising the idea of D.I.Y. music, Casson
offers a range of styles and moods for every palate.
Whilst the overall feel is of optimism, the Snippet train
also stops off at honesty and deals with the sometimes foggy moments we endure
in life as with They Keep Coming and the ironic Time Of Our Lives. Gentle Days
is Johnno’s love letter to Colchester following his permanent move from
birthplace Hackney and describes scenes and places in picturesque detail.
At little over thirty minutes long, Human Good displays a
fine singer/songwriter in fine form. A
man that is able to produce infectious pop seemingly at the drop of a hat and, tell
stories that almost make you feel as though you were there. It’s a rare talent indeed and one which is
slowly gaining Casson the recognition her deserves not only in the media but
also within the industry itself.
The feel of Insomnia is perfect for the subject matter and,
the dangers of alcohol are expressed on Drinkers. No subject matter is too trivial and no story
too menial to tell and perhaps Casson’s ability to describe those little
moments in time that we forget is what makes his lyrics so appealing.
The album ends with a fine fine track. Hurt For You is heartfelt and has a quite
simply incredible backing. A love song of
sorts, of everlasting devotion throughout good and bad times it soon becomes a
wonderfully rousing song which will undoubtedly send goose pimples down your
spine. As the drum roll enters the fray
and the ante is upped once more, “I believe in you and human good” becomes one
of the pivotal lines that will help make this album so memorable.
This, is how pop should be written. It’s perfect, from an artist who has that
enviable talent. Listen and be impressed
Squeeze – The
Knowledge (Love Records via ADA Warner)
LP / CD / DL
5 / 10
Review by Matt.
For all the post-New Wave classics in their back pockets, my
defining Squeeze moment came in the Summer of 1987 in a minibus trundling the
country lanes of North Wales. Sitting next to my equally music obsessed pal,
Walkman on knee, one earphone each, we’re revelling in a mixtape containing a
bunch of our latest favourites. Some of those have long since descended from
memory (there are probably a fair few you’d be hard pressed to get me to admit
to now…) but to this day, I can’t hear Squeeze’s “Hourglass”, released that
summer, without being taken back to that minibus. Go back to it. Walk around
it. Take it in. Listen to how it bursts with energy even now, thirty years on.
Pure pop gold.
Christ. Thirty years.
Fast forward to 2017 and Squeeze stock remains relatively
high. The hugely acclaimed 2015 album “Cradle To Grave” was followed up with an
effusively received Pyramid Stage slot at the following year’s Glastonbury.
Seats for their current tour will set you back north of fifty quid face value
and tickets for a fair few of the dates are running short on supply. And so,
into the mix, they throw a brand-new album, “The Knowledge”.
When it’s good, it’s great. “Innocence In Paradise” opens
the album, all pin-bright chords, minor key intrigue and familiar melancholy.
Gorgeous, really gorgeous. Not really recognisable as the band that offered up
“Up The Junction” but that’s no major criticism. Even just the title of
“Patchouli” sends me back 20-odd years to the fragrance of significant others
and it’s gratifying that the lyrics are a reflection on memories and the
passing of time. It’s set to a lively shuffle, Glenn Tilbrook and Chris Difford
in joyous union; Tilbrook the upper register light, Difford the baritone shade.
“A&E” is more recognisably old-school Squeeze. Given a little less sheen it
could conceivably sit alongside their early 80’s output, an admirable paean to
and praise for the NHS, and a damning lament of its badly managed decline.
Within the first 45 seconds of “Rough Ride”, a joyous gospel prelude gives way
to punchy funk and a wailing soprano. Oh yes.
Some of the lyrics jar a bit but, again, you have to take an imaginary hat
off to its rally against austerity.
There is occasionally, however, the vague feeling of “The
Knowledge” being a little half-baked. On “Every Story”, chord patterns fly
left, right and centre while a somewhat, let’s say, patchy accordion manfully
tries to keep up – the production values on show in the first few songs conspicuous
by their absence here. “Departure Lounge” meanders aimlessly around acoustic faux-psychedelia
for the better part of 4 minutes before coalescing into something of more
substance. “Final Score” confronts the
tricky issue of the abuse of young footballers by their coaches. It’s helped
along by a stately and suitably earnest backing but the subject matter is
largely implied, begging the question; why bother? The deepest depths are
plumbed on “Please Be Upstanding”, a jaunty ride (pardon the pun) through one
man’s experience of erectile dysfunction. If it’s autobiographical, well
frankly, it’s just that bit too much
The second half passes by in a fug of averageness. “The
Ones” is pleasant but lightweight, “Albatross” a curious tale of a man buying
Fleetwood Mac records that seems to fizzle out before it’s really reached a
conclusion (should you require a conclusion from a song about a man buying Fleetwood
Mac records, that is). “Elmers End” has a bundle of promise in its easy
swagger, louche brass section and harmonised 70’s guitars. It’s just lacking
one thing. A vocal. Closer “Two Forks” picks the pace up but it’s hewn from
such a tired and tested palette that it’s difficult to muster any real
Look. Squeeze don’t owe us anything. Pick the bones out of
their back catalogue; it stands up with the best that British pop has to offer.
But when the band themselves are trailing an album with the soundbite “It is such a pleasure to say that in 2017 we
have delivered our best ever record”, you’re entitled to expectations far
in advance of what Squeeze have delivered here.
A portrait of David R Edwards, the front man and lyricist for Datblygu one of the foremost experimental Welsh bands of the past 30 years, just as he releases his first book of poetry in English. The book Dave Datblygu's Search In English For The House Of Tolerance, is a protest against the failures of Welsh language culture and an unflinching look at Dave's life on the margins of society.
Dave wanders around his home town of Carmarthen reading
poetry to locals and drinking buddies while unleashing his cultural commentary
as a tirade of abuse. Stripped down, unpretentious and minimal, Dave's poetry
deals with Welsh identity, unemployment, art, love and death; soaked in wine
and his unique style of dark humour.
The word ‘eclectic’ was probably made for The Colour Of
Terrible Crystal. Trying to pigeonhole
the sound or the style will result in failure as Bryan Michael takes us on a
journey through ambient, pop, experimental and at times downright weird with an
album that on paper that simply shouldn’t work.
You may not be familiar with the work of Alka but this new
album could change all that, the first release since A Dog Lost In The Woods eight
years ago sees some wonderful instrumentals and part-vocal contributions which
gel together like a thousand piece jigsaw and with it, the inevitable
satisfaction of its completion. At
barely over a minute long, the opening track Piece instils a feeling that
ambient and drone may be the order of the day, instead it acts as a gentle
prelude to what may come – opening the curtain for a vast and complicated
production which conforms as much as it disobeys. Betablockers follows with a steady bassline
that sees intermediate sound effects and a distant vocal pitted against the
occasional musical break and expanse of tumbleweed quiet.
Echoes of early synth music is evident – Depeche Mode, New
Order, even Nitzer Ebb on some of the more meandering pieces – Melancholy Lasts
may also contain the hook from the Art Of Noise’s Moments In Love where
fluttering beats are joined by the occasional vocoder voice as sweeping soundscapes
prevail. Just when you think that the
album is settling down into a pleasant collection of clinical pop, Over Hills
And Vales enters the fray – an experimental collage of single tones
interspersed with seemingly random clunks and clinks which are reverbed to the
max before Sofantastick continues the avant garde theme.
Questlore sound as though it could have come from the vaults
of Erasure instrumentals (maybe not a surprise, as Vince Clarke not only guests
on the album but also releases via his new label) and, Michael’s current obsession
of revamping old synthesizers adds an enigmatic quality to the proceedings with
a delightful mix of old and new techno sounds.
Truncate is out and out pop pleasure whilst Under Waves And
Sea once more sees a darker side to Alka with more blank canvas allowing any
‘drip’ or ‘blip’ to gain maximum effect with an otherwise drone-like
track. The album ends with Wrong Side Up
and We Are Free Forms, two colossal tracks worthy of taking starring role in
any movie blockbusters as they bring a thoroughly entertaining album to a
Remixes of Wrong Side Up (Mathieu Gendreau) and Truncate
(Vince Clarke) add to the sheer delight of an album that could quite easily
creep into quite a few Best Of’s at the end of the year.
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