Deer Tick Vol 1 & Vol 2 Partisan Records

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Deer Tick
Vol 1 & Vol 2
Partisan Records

The Whole Damn American Alt. and Indie Revolution Gets Updated.

A few years ago when I wrote reviews for a prestigious UK Magazine one of our writers was a huge Deer Tick fan and had a habit of comparing aspiring Alt. Country bands to his beloved favourite band.
Me? They totally passed me by until now; so I not only approached this release…or two as it turns out with excitement, optimism but apprehension too.

Vol 1.
Everything starts with some delicious acoustic guitar with just enough ‘jangle’ to catch my attention on Sea Of Clouds; and possibly for the first ever time I heard John McCauley’s raw and road-worn voice…….and I liked it.
The song itself has a neat melody behind a cool song……yes, ‘cool’ is possibly the best way to describe it.
This immediately followed by a quirky song called Card House. Not quite what I was expecting for some reason; but on subsequent plays it’s intrigued me enough to play it on repeat a couple of times.
Hope is Big opens with some Dylanesque harmonica and a rolling pub style piano; then the song goes deep and dark, with McCauley turning in a performance in a way reminiscent of Dylan round about Planet Waves and Desire.
As I’m new to Deer Tick; I find it fascinating how cleverly they can switch moods without ever losing their own distinctive ‘sound’ with the simple Only Love perfectly complimenting the punchy West Coast Me and My Man, written by drummer Dennis Ryan; then slide seamlessly into Film -Noir soundtrack territory with End of the World.
If I have to pick a favourite from this album I’m probably going for the edgy Hope is Big; another song sung around a piano; but there’s something about guitarist Ian O’Neill’s words that touched me more than any of the others on Vol 1.

Vol 2.
BOOM! Opening song Don’t Hurt is full of those dirty crashing guitars and a melancholic vocalist that we originally fell in love with when what we now know as Alt. Country evolved from the shadows of Grunge.
This, dear reader is more like what my chum fell in love with……and I easily can see why.
With songs like Look How Clean I Am and Sloppy; but not just those two will certainly appeal to people who used to be Slackers; and still hanker back to those carefree days of their youth.
It’s a lot easier for me to pick a favourite on Vol 2 as Jumpstarting is a tip-top song, full of melodiously crashing guitars, a bass like pneumatic drill and a drummer who thinks he’s Ginger Baker…..what’s not to like?
The instrumental Pulse, on the other hand takes us on a late night Jazzy cinematic journey; and works as something of a breather for the listener before the band crank it up to 11 on Mr. Nothing Gets Worse which closes the whole affair in whizz-bang fashion.
Deer Tick have been a fascinating discovery for me; as they are musical chameleons; and somehow managing to be pretty damn good regardless of how loud or soft tjey choose to be; as the songs always win.

Released September 15th 2017
https://deertickmusic.com/

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Laura Cortese & The Dance Cards -CALIFORNIA CALLING

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Laura Cortese & The Dance Cards
CALIFORNIA CALLING
Compass Records

Deceptively Edgy Lo-Fi Enhanced Alt. Country-Folk.

Without boring you with Laura Cortese’s musical history and the who’s who of Americana bands and singers she has performed alongside it’s safe to say she doesn’t need this band to make a living; but then again The Dance Cards aren’t a vanity project by any stretch of the imagination……this young lady has talent aplenty and with her songwriting……something to say too, as her previous 7 albums will prove.
A moody banjo followed by a haunting cello introduces first track Lo Hum; and when Laura and the Dance Cards harmonise on the initial verse and chorus all of my pre-conceptions flew right out of the office window.
Mmm…..mmmm…..and indeed MMMMM! Some days I need raucous Rock & Roll, other days moody Blues and yesterday, even though I didn’t know it…..it was something beautiful and ethereal, and this bonny song ticked every single box.
The title track CALIFORNIA CALLING follows; and it turns a completely different corner; subtly combining a sub-Gothic Lo-Fi back-beat and harmonies with vocals and a story that sound like the Handsome Family filtered through the Mamas and Papas……quirky – yes, but deep and poetic too.
That sentiment probably sums up several songs here…..it’s Alt. Country I suppose; but way left of centre.
Perhaps it’s the instrumentation used that makes this group stand out from the crowd; a fiddle and acoustic guitars go without saying; but a synth bass? glass harmonica? cello? a marimba? as well as five different types of keyboards plus…..a toy piano!
Or it could be Laura Cortese’s unique and crystal clear singing voice as well as the Dance Cards astonishing choir like harmonies…..or more than likely it’s all of those things that supplement lovely songs like Hold On, Rhododendron or the latest single Pace Myself with it’s distinctly ‘other worldly’ sensibilities and hypnotic hand claps.
Then of course there is the joyous Stockholm which is my favourite track here. I only use ‘joyous’ in comparison to the rest of the album; because it’s not your traditional ‘joyous’ but the band somehow manage to capture that fantastic city’s aura and clean cut visual aspects in three and a half minutes of musical magic.
With that song fresh still spinning on the turntable,it dawned on me that there is a Canadian, or more likely Northern European ‘freshness’ to the sound Laura Cortese & The Dance Cards deliver here……CALIFORNIA CALLING isn’t necessarily ‘easy listening,’ but if you are into bands like the Cowboy Junkies, Sparklehorse or perhaps Liz Phair and Elliott Smith then you will love Laura Cortese & The Dance Cards.

Released October 6th 2017
http://www.thisislauracortese.com/index.html

Grainne Duffy – WHERE I BELONG

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Grainne Duffy
WHERE I BELONG
Self-Release

Irish Lady Sings the Blues With a Heart Full of Soul.

It’s no secret that I’ve had a big crush on Grainne Duffy since that first afternoon I saw her rip the roof off the Jumping Hot Club Stage at SummerTyne 2012. Sadly I’ve not seen her play live since; but her two previous albums are regular visitors to the Magmobile stereo.
So, with the advent of British Blues Rock in the ascendency again; and a veritable glut of ‘Rocking’ young ladies who can not only sing better than most of their male counterparts; but play the electric guitar with just as much skill and gusto; Grainne Duffy (she’s Irish….I know; but a key part of the British ‘scene’!) has decided to pretty much forgo that instrument and go acoustic…..well, with plenty of laid back electric and slide too, it has to be said.
The album opens with the stunning single Where I Belong; and instantly young Ms. Duffy’s magnetic voice made my heart race and my pulse tingle. It’s the type of song you would normally associate with Bonnie Raitt I suppose; being gentle on the ear but punchy too when you really listen to the lyrics.
Three days on and after numerous ‘plays’ I’m staggered at what a great voice Grainne has; slightly smoky and rough around the edges; but heartfelt too which makes it perfect for songs like Shine and the McCartneyesque Open Arms (think the McCartney and Ram era) where she actually sounds pearlescent as her soft words slide from the speakers with charm and grace.
Now I’ve got my head around it; with songs like All of My Life and the thematic instrumental Canyon Road WHERE I BELONG is the type of album you can play late at night when you are in the first flush of a love affair; or when your heart is broken too.
Perhaps its a case of ‘right place at the right time’ but Don’t Want To Be Lonely brought tears to my eyes one evening in the car. A Blues heartbreaker of the finest kind; it has to be my ‘favourite track’ here; even if I’m frightened to play it ever again.
That said, there’s not a bad or even poor song here; with Grainne’s storytelling getting better and stronger with every album; and in another life that award would have gone to Blame It On You, which sounds like the singer herself is fighting back the tears on the chorus; and the bottle-neck guitar is on an another level!
This album is a massive and probably scary step into the unknown for Grainne, as her fans are probably expecting another rip-roaring Rocker of a release; but if they take a deep breath they too will fall in love with one of my Top 10 albums of the year……and that will be quite an achievement this year.

Released September 29th 2017
http://grainneduffy.com/

Black Country Communion – BCC IV

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Black Country Communion
BCC IV
Mascot Records

The Last Great Rock Supergroup Delivers An Absolute Treasure.

In my youth band members would swap and change allegiance like footballers, with ‘Supergroups’ of all persuasions being formed and splitting up on a whim. These days it’s a lot less uncommon; which makes Black Country Communion something of a rarity on many levels.
Made up of former ex-Deep Purple vocalist Glenn Hughes, Alice Cooper/Billy Idol bass player Derek Sherinian, legendary drummer Jason Bonham (son of Uber-legendary drummer John ‘Bonzo’ Bonham) and of course Joe Bonamassa on geetar plus the fifth ‘member’ is producer Kevin Shirley who knows a thing or two about making records.
Now; my ears ain’t what they used to be so music that’s meant to be heard ‘this loud’ doesn’t get many airings at RMHQ these days; but an exception was made when Mrs. Magpie was at work.
Opening track Collide……a thundering sub-Led Zeppelin epic with Hughes sounding uncommonly excellent as the band throw down the gauntlet with great aplomb to any younger (or indeed older) contenders to their Kings of Hard Rock title.
I admit to being out of touch with the Classic Rock end of the music world these days; but songs like The Cove with it’s sweeping signatures from Bonamassa, the head-banging The Crow and the punchy Awake show what brilliant individual musicians and writers these guys are; but together create a sound that is reminiscent of several bands but actually nothing like anyone other than Black Country Communion……it’s certainly distinctive.
‘Classic Rock’ probably means different things to different people, but BCC manage to switch from Power Ballads like Wanderlust through ‘heads down, no nonsense’ sweaty boogie like Sway with the greatest of ease; and that works a treat for me.
Two songs in particular grabbed my attention that first night; Love Remains and When The Morning Comes. The former is a rock solid work that threatens to break loose; but never actually does keeping Glenn Hughes ‘love song’ to his recently departed parents pristine and almost claustrophobic; which I think it was intended to be.
When The Morning Comes is a darkly and mysteriously beautiful song; reminding me of those songs that would turn up on albums in the 70’s to show that the bands weren’t all ‘shouty and noisy’ and that’s why this is our Favourite Song on a rather fine Rock Album.
For once, the sum of the parts actually equals the individual components in Black Country Communion, with the egos being tightly held in place as everyone does their job exquisitely in a way I wouldn’t have thought possible; and for the foreseeable future BCC IV will stay in the Magmobile for those journeys when only Hard Rock will blow the cobwebs away.

Released September 22 2017
https://www.bccommunion.com/

Paul McClure and The Local Heroes – SIDE 1

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Paul McClure and The Local Heroes
SIDE 1
Clubhouse/Rutland Troubadour Records

Britain’s Best Kept Secret Breaks For The Border.

Although on one of my favourite ‘Boutique Record Labels’ Paul is actually a ‘follower’ of our little website and took the time to send this EP, normally only sold at gigs directly with a handwritten note (always a nice touch).
So, out of courtesy I gave it a play in the car; and there it has remained for the last few weeks until he got in touch asking ‘my thoughts’……Bloody Hell! I was enjoying it so much I’d forgot that I was meant to be reviewing it!!!!
An acoustic guitar, tinkling piano, soft drumming and a crunchy harmonica solo open the disc on Million Dollar Smile. McClure really does know my tastes as this world weary love story sung by a world weary voice is right up my street; and ‘that’ harmonica playing…….mmmm mmmm mmm.
This followed by Baby That’s You, a gentle foot stomping Folk-Rocker, that’s just perfect for the intimate setting of a pub back room or even a huge Arena stage with strobe lights and a Gospel Choir; and you can’t say that about many songs, can you?
We will come back to track #3 later; as Weight In Time sounds timeless and must surely come from Laurel Canyon as opposed to Britain’s smallest County, tucked away in Middle England, mustn’t it? Nope, this is the type of singer-songwriter Folk that transcends boundaries as it touches hearts across the oceans (should it be given the chance.)
The all too short EP closes with the introspective and nearly brilliant Troubadours Lament. I’m a sucker for ‘Road Songs’ and this is up there with I See Hawks in LA ‘We Could Be In Laughlin’ in our office. Written while stuck in traffic while listening to CD’s and missing home, McClure captures the magic of music and the mind numbing dullness of travel in equal measures; and I’m sure the ‘secret 20 other verses’ will eventually make an appearance when played live and become something of a Classic…..it already is at RMHQ.
OK….back to track #3……….phew; The Good and Bad of It is a slow ballad written and sung from the pits of Paul McClure’s heart and soul. If you thought his voice sounded ‘world weary’ earlier; here he sounds like he’s fighting back the tears as a gently strummed bass and guitar accompany some delightful piano playing on a genuine heartbreaker for grown-ups.
OK, the simple orange CD cover won’t really catch your attention, but this about the music and Paul McClure isn’t the type of act that Jools Holland or The Guardian will promote this early, you and I will……buy this EP, then tell a friend who will tell a friend….then this time next year Jools may take notice; but you and I will give a knowing wink the next day at work when young girls are swooning over that dishy new singer they saw on on the telly last night.

Released 01 March 2017.

http://www.paulmccluremusic.com/

THE JAM – ‘1977’ 40TH ANNIVERSARY BOX SET

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THE JAM
‘1977’
40TH ANNIVERSARY BOX SET

RELEASED October 20th 2017

#This is a Press Release……my review will follow early October. RMHQ

In May 1977, a young 3-piece rock group from Woking in Surrey appeared on Top Of The Pops with an explosive single called In The City. The song fizzed with the energy and sense of purpose and is one of the most incendiary debut singles ever. At the same time, The Jam released their exhilarating debut album, also called “In The City”, and in the very same year it’s follow up “This Is The Modern World. To celebrate this 40th anniversary USM-Polydor release a five-disc box set featuring both albums re-mastered as well as unreleased demos and live recordings.

The Jam became one of the most popular bands to emerge from the English punk rock scene of ’77 and had a phenomenal impact on pop music and wider youth culture. In their short career, they achieved 18 consecutive Top 40 singles in the UK (including 4 number 1s) and released 6 ground-breaking albums and went on to influence a generation with their music, style, politics and inspiration

Disc 1 – ‘In The City’ – Debut LP from May 1977 – A raw and powerful album that announced the arrival of The Jam, with their 18 year old lead singer Paul Weller sowing the seeds for what the was in store for the future. The Jam’s music at this time owed a lot to the harmonies of Motown, the energy of Dr Feelgood and early Who but with the anger of the current Punk scene. Although Weller’s band was obviously headed in a different direction, this debut sits alongside the first albums by The Clash and the Sex Pistols as one of the definitive records from the era. The album includes hit single In The City (which gave the band their first Top Of The Pops appearance, included on the DVD), live favourite (and suggested single) Art School and Paul Weller’s most ambitious early song – Away From The Numbers.

Disc 2 – ‘Demos’ includes 11 demos made for the first album – 6 of which are previously unreleased.

Disc 3 – ‘This Is The Modern World’ the follow-up album, released a few months after debut in late 1977, with iconic Gered Mankowitz cover shot. This hastily released follow-up to In The City has long been the topic of debate among Jam fans. It might not be up there with later classics such as All Mod Cons & Sound Affects but time has been very kind to this album. It clearly paved the way for the refined brilliance of the later albums which possibly wouldn’t have happened without it. Includes the rousing hit single The Modern World and some of Weller’s early introspective gems – Life From A Window and I Need You (For Someone), as well as The Combine, a track that pointed markedly towards the next album All Mod Cons.

Disc 4 – ‘Live’ includes the previously-unreleased concert from the ‘Nashville’ – September 10th 1977, featuring material from the first two albums. Also features the two legendary John Peel sessions from 1977.

Disc 5 – a DVD featuring TV appearances from the likes of Top Of The Pops and So It Goes plus promo videos from 1977. Includes performances of the hit single All Around The World (which did not appear on either LP)

Includes stunning 144-page book, featuring new liner notes, period photos and a wealth of cuttings, reviews and memorabilia from 1977.

Five LP-style CD wallets with printed inner bags – ‘In The City’ will feature the US version of the LP inner sleeve, also using a Martyn Goddard out-take photo. ‘This Is The Modern World’ will feature an alternative Gered Mankowitz cover image. Also includes five postcards. All housed in a ‘rigid, lift-off lid’ box.

————————————————–

Full tracklisting here:

Disc 1 – ‘In The City’ (original album remastered)
006025 5771551 4
1. Art School
2. I’ve Changed My Address
3. Slow Down
4. I Got By In Time
5. Away From The Numbers
6. Batman Theme
7. In The City
8. Sounds From The Street
9. Non-Stop Dancing
10. Time For Truth
11. Takin’ My Love
12. Bricks & Mortar
+ single & B-side extras
13. All Around The World
14. Carnaby Street

Disc 2 – ‘The Polydor Demos: February 1977’
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1. Art School (demo) #
2. In The City (demo)
3. I Got By In Time (demo) #
4. I’ve Changed My Address (demo) #
5. Time For Truth (demo)
6. Sounds From The Street (demo)
7. Non Stop Dancing (demo) #
8. Bricks And Mortar (demo) #
9. Takin’ My Love (demo)
10. So Sad About Us (demo)
11. Slowdown (demo) #
# = previously unreleased

Disc 3 – ‘This Is The Modern World’ (original album remastered)
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1. The Modern World
2. London Traffic
3. Standards
4. Life From A Window
5. The Combine
6. Don’t Tell Them You’re Sane
7. In The Street Today
8. London Girl
9. I Need You (For Someone)
10. Here Comes The Weekend
11. Tonight At Noon
12. In The Midnight Hour

Disc 4 – ‘Live 1977’
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John Peel sessions:
1. In The City
2. Art School
3. I’ve Changed My Address
4. The Modern World
Recorded 26.4.1977 – Transmitted 2.5.1977
5. All Around The World
6. London Girl
7. Bricks & Mortar
8. Carnaby Street
Recorded 19.7.1977 – Transmitted 25.7.1977
Live at the ‘Nashville’ – September 10th 1977 (previously unreleased):
9. Carnaby Street
10. The Modern World
11. Time For Truth
12. So Sad About Us
13. London Girl
14. In the Street Today
15. All Around The World
16. London Traffic
17. Sweet Soul Music
18. Bricks & Mortar
19. In The City
20. Art School
21. In The Midnight Hour
22. Sounds From The Street
23. Slowdown
Disc 5 – DVD
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1. In The City (Polydor promo – May 1977)
2. Art School (Polydor promo – May 1977)
3. In The City (Top Of The Pops – Date: 19/05/1977)
4. All Around The World (Top Of The Pops – Date: 18/08/1977)
5. All Around The World (‘Marc’ – Granada TV)
6. The Modern World (Top Of The Pops Top Of The Pops – Date: 03/11/1977)
7. Bricks and Mortar (‘So It Goes’ – Granada TV Nov. 20th 1977)
8. Carnaby Street (‘So It Goes’ – Granada TV Nov. 20th 1977)
9. In The City (‘So It Goes’ – Granada TV Nov. 20th 1977)
10. Slowdown (‘So It Goes’ – Granada TV Nov. 20th 1977)
11. All Around The World (‘So It Goes’ – Granada TV Nov. 20th 1977)

King King – EXILE & GRACE

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King King
EXILE & GRACE
Manhaton Records

British Blues Rock is Never Better Than Ever in These Hands.

I guess we’ve all got a favourite band or singer that we’ve ‘been with’ from the very beginning. Eventually we have to tread a very fine path between wanting to keep them all to ourselves and also craving them the success they deserve and allowing them out into the big bad world for everyone else to enjoy.
I feel that way about King King……and with EXILE & GRACE I fear the time has finally come for me to release them into the wild and rule the Rock n Roll jungle like the giants they were always destined to be.
Surprisingly for a Rock band normally dependent on a fiery electric guitar at its heart; opening track (She Don’t) Gimme No Lovin’ starts Alan Nimmo sounding uncharacteristically like a synth on his Les Paul before launching into his  trademark crashing guitar on a cracking tip of the hat to Classic 1970’s British Blues Rock.
What I like most about King King is the way they keep the emphasis on the song and the singer; rather than long plodding instrumental solos; Tear It Up and Broken are prime examples, with tightly packaged riffs that will be expanded on in concert, but here you get to hear what an exceptionally good songwriter, storyteller and indeed singer Alan Nimmo is developing into.
Just when I didn’t think King King could still spring any surprises on me, Find Your Way Home is the type of Power Ballad that was all the rage in the 80’s but disappeared….until now. The song simmers along nicely with Bob Fridzema’s swirling organ taking the lead as a dynamic rhythm section of Wayne Procter on drums and Lindsay Coulson on bass compliment Nimmo’s amazing vocals like peaches and cream.
As I’m a nice bloke I let a workmate who absolutely loves King King listen to this on his lunch hour and he was still smiling two days later, begging me for a copy. (I shall make the tight bugger buy his own CD btw!). One of his comments was how much he thought the band had moved into Stones territory on a couple of songs; rather than the likes of Deep Purple and Bad Company that they would normally be compared with; and by Jove I think he’s right with Long Time Running and perhaps Nobody Knows Your Name; but I guess that’s their judicious use of Bob Fridzema’s keyboards; which gives them so much more depth and variety than the majority of Blues Rock albums that I receive.
After all of these years treading the boards Alan Nimmo has no right to still be singing this well; and don’t for an instant think that there’s any studio trickery involved; go see them live to hear a proper Blues singer…..sing!
Which brings me to the winner of the RMHQ Favourite Track Award which goes to……drum roll…….Heed The Warning, which is everything you would expect from King King and then some, with Nimmo giving it his best Paul Rogers/Ronnie Van Zandt but always sounding like Alan Nimmo! Great song too…..riffs-a-go-go.
While I’ve harped on about the charismatic frontman Alan Nimmo; be under no illusions….this is very much a band effort and each of the four cornerstones go a long way to  helping King King get the accolades they fully deserved with their last release and I’m pretty damn sure this album will catapult them into the Big Leagues (whatever that means!)

Released October 6th 2017
https://www.kingking.co.uk/

Amilia K Spicer – WOW & FLUTTER

amilia k spicer

Amilia K Spicer
WOW & FLUTTER
Free Range Records

Windswept, Brooding and Heartbreaking Lo-Fi Americana.

This album very nearly got missed as it was already a couple of months old when I received it; but my trusty I-Phone picked a lovely song out by random just after midnight on a rainy Saturday night/Sunday morning and I was immediately smitten.
That song is the breathy and emotional This Town, about someone who wants to leave ‘This Town’ but knows they won’t so needs to find a reason to stay.
WOW & FLUTTER actually opens with the type of easy on the ear Country song that catches you out; as you peel the layers away and it becomes a real tearjerker. On Fill Me Up Amilia sounds like she could be Linda Ronstadt or Emmylou in another life; and for an opening track it’s a keeper.
This is definitely Country Music…..I think, but with the emphasis on the Lo-Fi spectrum of Alt. Country…..if that makes sense.
Shotgun is dark and cinematic with a pedal-steel sounding like a wistful train as it accompanies the whispering singer; and later on Down To The Bone a gentle piano tinkles away as Amilia’s voice sounds ghostly and ethereal on a brittle love song.
It’s a similar feeling with the fragile Windchill; which makes Margo Timmins sound like Janis Joplin.
When a song starts with “my love is a train wreck/a train wreck” you just know it’s a Country song…..right? Well this one certainly is; but so slow and intimate you will find yourself leaning into the speakers to catch all of the words.
A big part of me wants to call that first song This Town my ‘favourite’ but truth be told; now I’ve played the album 6 or 7 times in full that accolade must go to What I’m Saying. A dark, reflective pot-boiler that brings everything that is brilliant about WOW & FLUTTER together in 5 emotional minutes.
As I said earlier, I first heard Amilia K Spicer just after midnight as the rain poured down on the windscreen; and that is the very best accompaniment I can imagine for the songs on this album for broken-hearted lovers everywhere.

Released April 28th 2017
http://www.amiliakspicer.com/

Bruce Cockburn – BONE ON BONE

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Bruce Cockburn
BONE ON BONE
True North Records

Legendary Canadian Songwriter Ups the Ante Again.

Bruce Cockburn? This is his 33rd album since 1970, yet his first in 7 years and a multi-Multi-Award winner but could probably walk unnoticed down most streets in his home country of Canada. That said his fans around the world do pore over his every release like Dylanaholics.
Even though I own three previous releases, strangely this is the first album of his that I’ve ever reviewed.
The passionately poetic States I’m In opens the album and sets the tone for what is to follow quite perfectly. Cockburn’s voice sounds slightly weary but with fire around the edges as the band create a claustrophobic atmosphere that will make your chest tighten.
While it shouldn’t be a surprise Cockburn follows this with a real punchy Folk song, Stab at Matter which features, and not for the time here, some sublime guitar and slide playing.
As a Master Craftsman Cockburn appreciates and studies other wordsmiths in his spare time, which has spawned 3 Al Purdys a re-imagining of ‘a homeless man ranting and reciting the acclaimed Canadian Poet’s works on the streets.’
‘Stunning’ and ‘brilliant’ spring to mind when I heard it the first time, and I still feel the same way about the song now.
Another couple of songs that instantly caught my attention were Jesus Train; a non-preachy song about the singer’s love of Jesus alongside Twelve Gates To The City which has a Southern Baptist feel to it; both coming from Cockburn’s Spiritual Beliefs.
I’d forgotten what an expressive voice Bruce Cockburn has; and his skilled storytelling combine perfectly on the two songs that vie for the title of ‘Favourite Track’. Cafe Society has a sort of smoky Parisian swing to it, and appeals as Cockburn very subtly hits the nail on the head of the minutiae in a world I inhabit myself; gossiping, bitching, politicking and generally putting the world to rights over a Cappuccino or Americano or two for hours on end.
The other, a traditional slice of beautiful Canadiacana; Forty Years in the Wilderness is probably a self-portrait of the artist himself; but felt like a punch on the nose as he could have been talking about me too; and I feel plenty of other listeners will feel exactly the same way about this clever and literate song.
After all of these years Bruce Cockburn doesn’t deserve the likes of me making comparisons; but his other albums are filed alongside David Olney, John Martyn and Bap Kennedy in my collection.

Released September 15th 2017

http://brucecockburn.com/

 

Mo Kenney – THE DETAILS

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Mo Kenney
THE DETAILS
Self-Release

Angry, Nihilistic and Candidly Beautiful Canadiacana.

I remember loving Mo Kenney’s 2015 album IN MY DREAMS but had to play it again to understand why; and time has certainly been kind to her powerful songs.
I then put THE DETAILS into the stereo and was taken aback by the gentle but dark Folk singer intro to Cats Not a Cake; and even more so when the band kicked in like Pearl Jam on steroids for the final four minutes of a very dark story.
The Details is billed as a Concept Album; with Mo baring her very Soul while ‘confronting her annihilation and eventual redemption’…..whatever that means.
This is the type of album that would have been a perfect accompaniment for Nirvana’s Nevermind, as it touches on some very raw subjects like booze-fuelled breakdowns, depression, fraught relationships and the scars they all leave behind.
As you would expect with stories like these the moods change like the wind, going from the loose and brittle Counting or Lights Out which could be a lost Neko Case song; through to the jagged post-Punk of title track Details and If You’re Not Dead; but On The Roof when played extra loud with Kenney on a Fender Mustang is scintillating and will scare your neighbours! But there is also the dreamy pop swirls of Unglued too; showing that there can be ups as well as downs when you feel like ‘this.’
Just like IN MY DREAMS this sounds a lot more like a band effort; and a very tightly wrapped band at that, than a singer-songwriter with a bunch of hired in musos.
I shouldn’t; but I absolutely love the dirty guitar sound on Video Game Music and when Mo growls out the lyrics she made my heart beat a little bit faster than usual.
Nothing here makes for Easy Listening; and isn’t destined for daytime radio; or any radio probably but the songs and the way it is all concocted makes for terrific journey; and a journey that will touch a whole lot of people on that same axis; which brings me to my ‘favourite song’ which in itself is a challenge; but I’m going for Feelin’ Good which is a mini-opera in it’s own rite and closes the cycle; and shows there is (probably) something at the end of the rainbow for all of us.
THE DETAILS is different from just about everything else I’ve listened to this year but touched me in a way I love about music…….making me feel like I’m not the only one who gets ‘down’ and feels ‘that way’ about something; and that’s quite an achievement in itself.

Released September 29th 2017

http://mokenney.com/home