Thursday, 22 March 2018

Listen! - Wookalily - Escort Me


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Review - Chiara Berardelli – Seamonster

Chiara Berardelli – Seamonster


Out Now

7 / 10

Glasgow-based musician releases her new album. 

The influence and backdrop to Seamonster is a sad one.  The former Doctor who returned to her first love of music always dreamt of becoming a Mother.  Sadly, she has yet to have children and her heartache is confronted on this new collection. A short album of ten songs is a genuinely pleasant listen with the subject matter sometimes shrouded within a thin veil of pain.

Opener, Free Floating Love is gorgeous, a feeling of drifting in space (a theme that repeats several times on Seamonster) whilst being encapsulated within a sparkling diamond.  It acts as a prelude to the album, a beautiful shimmering invitation to give this album your full attention.

Road is a mid-paced track which introduces percussion and electric guitar as Berardelli, for one of the few occasions on the album, gives greater depth and emotion to her voice.   That in itself becomes a slight issue, as lovely as her voice is she often performs as a gentle single tone almost throughout.  She is clearly capable of lifting her voice as Road confirms and a little diversity would maybe help.
The album picks up pace thereafter with Road and the title track Seamonster is a clever folk-pop affair that would quite easily pick-up some good mainstream radio play.  She could, without problem, become the darling of many an easy listening station and one feels that that is only a matter of time before it happens. 

Chiara is talented, make no mistake of that and her songwriting is impressive to say the least.  Accomplished in classical piano and an enthusiast of the days when the music charts felt as though they meant something, she knows a tune when she hears one.  Another Planet continues the theme of the universe and Days too contains a feeling of wide expanse and spaciousness.

Deep Space Hibernation, influenced by the journey of the Rosetta space probe which in 2011 entered a two year hibernation as all systems were shut down, is an expansive track, full of emotion and cinematic quality which is repeated  by Sanctuary as the album reaches a close.

Seamonster isn’t ground-breaking by any means but, it is a delightful listen.  Plenty of melody and accomplished wordplay from an artist who could break at any given moment.  The Best Is Yet To Come almost echoes the opening of the album and maybe the title hints at the future for Chiara Berardelli.  The NHS’s loss is music’s gain.

Published on Louder Than War 18/03/18 - here

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Review - Radio Europa – To Repel Ghosts

Radio Europa – To Repel Ghosts (Recordiau Prin)


Out Now

9 / 10

Just six months since their impressive second album ‘TyDbXx’ and 12 months in the making, ‘Radio Europa’ return with an absolute cracker in the form of ‘To Repel Ghosts’.  A cautionary tale on the state of the world from addiction to mental health, their third album is nothing short of visionary as it strips back all preconceptions and battles on regardless.

‘To Repel Ghosts’ is a subtle, stripped back affair which allows sound and voice to shine through.  Often sounding like it has been recorded in a huge, echoing, empty warehouse it draws from the likes of ‘Coil’ and ‘Throbbing Gristle’ in 11 tracks which last little over 22 minutes but remains compulsive and essential listening.  From the monotone finger-clicking of intro ‘The Curse Descends’ with its manic laughter the tone is set for something very special indeed.

‘Babbling Tongues’ is hypnotic in the extreme, a wonderful resonating instrumental and the longest track on the album, looping along with occasional reverb additions and dulcet electro tones and at times simulating a choir of deep voices buried beneath the surface.

The finger-clicking returns for ‘Post Update’ and poetic genius ensues.  Simon Tucker brandishes a full-on social media attack with some particularly cutting lyrics which steal the album – “if you’ve ever wondered who these cretins are then look in the mirror after your next misery wank” – absolutely wonderful.

Recorded in Steve Leigh’s home studio, the effect undoubtedly impressive , sounds are crisp and clinical and the experimental aspect cannot go unnoticed. This is potentially ground-breaking stuff, perfect for the soundtrack to a horror film and enough suspense to keep you on edge for at least one listening session.

‘Chasing Ghosts’ contains the background sound of a crowded bar together with intermittent piano playing and, ‘Scattered Transmissions From The Fuzz Sewer’ holds moments of regret from the soul fighting to hold  off the fall into depressive oblivion.  This album holds huge rafts of stunning imagination and quite brilliant execution.  If this is the future of Welsh experimental music then we should all change our nationality.

Published on Fortitude 19/03/18 - here

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Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Watch! - Big & The Fat - Crack Crack


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Listen! - Sheer Zed - Magick Square Defense


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Review - John MOuse – Replica Figures

John MOuse – Replica Figures (Keep Me In Your HeartRecords)


Out Now

6 / 10

Being unaware of an artist can sometimes work in your favour.  There are no preconceptions and no duties to be upheld, it allows you to listen with an untainted ear and honestly decide where the music takes you. 

John MOuse is a name you may be familiar with not only with his solo work but also under the name of JT Mouse, a moniker he adopted along with Steve Black (Sweet Bamboo) and with whom he re-unites on Replica Figures for the first time in 15 years.  The album circulates round memories, some good, some bad, some lost and some seemingly inconsequential and often provokes a smile in its honest, black humour.

The 11 tracks are often simple affairs, and clearly hold special meaning to MOuse which may be lost on others but, it is that sincerity which often holds more than a little charm.  Album opener End Of Mankind begins with a pre-programmed drumbeat, it’s maybe off-putting to the newcomer or electro cynic with its 80s bedroom sound.  The hook is memorable and pretty infectious and it somehow keeps the listener engaged.

Boogaloo is funny, but maybe only to the ones of us who grew up in the early-mid 80s.  It cleverly namechecks heroes and events from the era but may not be of interest or relevance to a younger audience.  Bunkbeds And Broken sounds like one of those great ‘nearly’ artists from the same era and in many ways that is where this album disappoints – it seems to be stuck and like a parody album where the humour is often lost.

The spoken word tracks hold more interest, The King And Jesus Ganged Up On Me works well and final track Gladiator Contender is the highlight of the album as it harks back to the 90s sport entertainment show, Gladiators.  It works because knowledge of the show isn’t necessary – it’s a lazy comforting tracks with some delightful backing vocals that lift the song from something that may otherwise have been pretty uneventful.


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Saturday, 17 March 2018

Friday, 16 March 2018

Review - Kim Wilde - Here Come The Aliens

Kim Wilde - Here Come The Aliens (Wildeflower Records)

LP / CD / DL

16 March 2018

6 /10

Review by Jay.

It’s nice to hear an album opening with a sample of an older track, almost through some busted old speakers and especially when it’s Kim Wilde. Not only that ‘1969’ has a Super Mario sample in it underneath the pumping rock guitars and thumping Adam Ant drums. Kim singing ‘Here come the aliens’ reminds us to stay barricaded indoors with her new album for company.

‘Pop Don’t Stop’ has a super-pop feel to it and could be forgiven for being lifted from a 80’s Romantic Comedy starring Patrick Swayze that was never made. It doesn’t sound current at all and that’s quite charming with all its glittery synths and U2 bass lines. It’s a stark contrast to the driving rock beats of ‘Kandy Krush’ which has all the ingredients for an anthemic, end-of-the-night celebration of fists in the air after listening to Foreigner. Either that or the ending credits to a Japanese Anime.

‘Stereo Shot’ is a real Blondie moment and has some flashes of Genesis in places too, flanging guitars and synths and rock n roll delayed vocal effects. ‘Yours ‘Til The End’ presents us with a fretless bass. It’s a hard sound to and feels rooted firmly in the 80’s but it does work on this track. It doesn’t feel modern and the production is very heavy with lots of reverb and effects all over the place. It would have been nice to hear something a little more stripped back on this track.

‘Solstice’ opens beautifully with Kim Wilde’s vocals and sounds like a cross between Bjork, Madonna and Marc Almond somehow. It’s a well placed track after ‘Yours ‘Til The End’  and has a much more minimal approach to the production, giving Kim’s voice an opportunity to shine. It has quite a musical theatre feel to it and wouldn’t go amiss in The Greatest Showman soundtrack. Definitely a highlight of the album.

‘Addicted To You’ smacks us right back into a driving, synth-fuelled goth tune that sounds like a cross between 90’s britpopsters Garbage and Republica and ‘Birthday’ is a birthday sing-a-long. In short this an album which feels locked into the 80’s and tries hard to feel modern. It will please Kim Wilde fans no end, especially with it being a brand new album but it could have been so much more without the big production values. It makes it sound dated and that’s a shame because it may prevent it from appealing to a younger generation of up and coming music fans.

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Review - Erasure - World Beyond

Erasure – World beyond (Mute Records)

LP / CD / DL / Cassette

Out Now

8.5 / 10

Electro pop duo release orchestral interpretation of last album. 

Times are busy for Erasure it would seem.  On the ascendancy in the public eye recently celebrating thirty years as an active pop act, increasing media coverage and a seemingly constant live programme sees them entertaining fans old and new.

Their last album World Be Gone was a remarkable album in many ways seeing them catapulted into our lives once more, songs that are potential career bests and ‘that’ formula that Vince Clarke and Andy Bell seem to instinctively possess.  Described as a ‘bright idea’ by Clarke, World Beyond sees those ten tracks given an orchestral and near classical overhaul for the first time since English composer Andrew Poppy rearranged tracks for 1987s The Two Ring Circus.

With Clarke taking a backseat Bell performs with Echo Collective, a Brussels based collective of post-classical musicians who also produce and arrange the album.  A six piece collective previously known for their work with the late Johann Johannsson, Adam Wiltzie and Dustin O’Halloran, take World Be Gone by the scruff of the neck and beautifully re-arrange each track.  It’s captivating, hearing out and out pop songs turned into orchestral interpretations as though they were meant to be that way.

The opener from World Be Gone, the poppy single Love You To The Sky is switched with Oh What A World which becomes the new lead track, its dark and foreboding and begins that album with more than a little drama (sorry) as the lyrical content becomes more evident in its take on current world events and paths. 

Perhaps Clarke’s recent launch of the Very Records label with new acts like Alka and Reed And Caroline or, collaborations with the likes of Jean-Michel Jarred and Equinox have developed a yearning to spread his wings.  Maybe Bell’s incredible performances as Saint Torsten the polysexual immortal in which his voice exceled beyond all expectation has provoked this new collection.  Either way the pairing with the Echo Collective is inspired.

A Bitter Parting is powerful and Still It’s Not Over confirms that Bell is a vocalist who like a good wine, is improving with age and confirming he is indeed a much underrated singer.  Love You To The Sky sits perfectly into its new tracklisting positon as the album draws to an all too quick close and final track, Just A Little Love retains its stature as one of the albums most impressive tracks.

World Beyond is a calculated success, not just because it contains excellent musicianship and performances but also because the songwriting of Clark and Bell continues to impress with sheer class shining through.  A true diamond.

Published in Fortitude Magazine 13/03/18 - here

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Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Review - Ginger Wildheart - Ghost In The Tanglewood

Ginger Wildheart - Ghost In The Tanglewood (Graphite Records)

LP / CD / DL

Out Now  8 / 10

Review by Jay.

‘The Daylight Hotel’ opens like The Levellers and The Proclaimers having a massive party with The Bluebells with its jangling euphoric guitars and thumping bass drum. Ginger’s voice really blasts it into the sky with some lush harmonies and it’s surprising it isn’t littering the radio stations already. The slide guitar in the background is a gorgeous addition to a perfect opening track. There’s a bit of a country and folk vibe about this album so far and ‘Pay It Forward’ is clearly no stranger to the rolling tumbleweed of Nashville but it’s the heartfelt, compassionate lyrics that really bring this track into the light; ‘It only take one person to teach / One person to reach / One person to help them along / By making this chain you’re paying it forward”. Inspiring and important messages like this are always a great thing in uplifting songs and here we have exactly that.

‘Golden Tears’ mixes modern ideas with a really old school folk sound covered with acoustics and electric bass, fiddles and a really heavy Irish atmosphere worthy of anyone’s dancing feet and clinking glasses. This could be the anthem of primary schools the world over with the uplifting message of building your courage and we salute you Ginger Wildheart for writing such a catchy and passionate song.

‘Phantom Memories’ could be straight out of a Disney film or big budget romantic love story. It has a grand, anthemic and richly produced sound that soars high over the clouds and away over the horizon. It’s a nice transition into  ‘Minus You’ which carries on with the rootsy folk mood and could have come from the mind of Mike Harding or The Pogues if it weren’t for the luscious slide guitar slinking around in the background. This is a very pensive, deeply felt album filled with authenticity and love rarely seen in modern music. ‘Remains’ is a much softer and reflective song than any of the ones we’ve heard so far on the album and as short as it is, it leaves you with a nice warm feeling inside ready for ‘The Words Are Gonna Have To Wait’ to come bounding in like a Country classic. ‘I Could Have Cared For You’ is like listening to a country christmas and closes the album nicely on a high (or low) depending on how you interpret the bittersweet lyrics and bouncing, super catchy chorus.

‘Ghost In The Tanglewood’ is the kind of album that you’ll put on when you want to drink to the good times. It’s the album you’ll put on when you want to dance, when you want to smile and feel loved. It’s definitely an album for Country and Folk fans but also a great initiation into the world of Ginger Wildheart and well worth chucking onto your stereo and listening to with your friends and lovers. Not only that, the tracks are all pretty much under 3 minutes so even though it makes the album feel short, it’s a great journey.

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