Grown-Up Poptastic Anglo-Americana Never Sounded Better.
Anyone who follows us on The Twitter will be aware of the Hoo Haa it took to get a review copy of this release …….. thankfully ‘that squabble’ is over with; but had been any other artist in the world but Pete Molinari, I would have given up weeks ago. Anyways; we have it now and…. well……. it’s taken some ‘getting into’; as like all his previous releases; apart from his very unique voice, it’s very different from what has preceded it. Which is a good thing; because I love it when songwriters grow and develop; moving on ‘in a good way’ …… which has always been the Molinari Ethos. First song Goodbye Baby Jane actually illicited an OOH! The first time I played it …….. by Pete’s standards it’s a big old Alt. Rock sound, albeit with a cool melody and almost Glam Rock chorus; yep the title did remind me of Slade and to some degree that ‘memory’ carries on throughout the song too. Pete sounds like he’s been listening to a lot of different bands in the years he’s been off the radar, with several influences coming through songs like the psychedelic No Ordinary Girl where he sounds a bit like Liam Gallagher; but with typical Molinari chutzpah; ‘this is how you should have done it!’ And he’s right; it’s the finest song Oasis never recorded. Fear not; this is 100% a Pete Molinari album through and through; and the most commercial thing he’s ever released with Radio Friendly songs bouncing out of the speakers every couple of minutes. There’s never been a time in history when the World wouldn’t have been a better place for the grungy Garage Song, I’ll Take You There or his quintessentially English Pop Song, Please Mrs Jones coming out of the radio and defying you not to sing along. Obviously there’s not a bad song here; and I’m impressed that there’s a a distinct flow, taking you on a Kiddy Rollercoaster of highs and lows, with absolutely no peril involved at all. Pete still slides a couple of his trademark melodious Folk-Rock songs ; like the deep and meaningful Absolute Zero and then there’s the title track Just Like Achilles and Born To Be Blue with their jaunty tunes that gives them the capacity to make you sit back and listen to his wise words of wisdom, while shuffling to the beat. Selecting a Favourite Song here is a bit like standing in an orphanage and looking at all the cute and longing faces; knowing full well you are going to break a lot of hearts with those you leave behind. The singer’s love for all things Americana come through loud and clear on Waiting For a Train, and then Colour My Love is a doozy with a big ole Philles Records production and the piano led ballad Steal The Night is as good a song as Molinari has ever recorded and perhaps the whole album actually spins off this magical three minutes; but; and this is controversial ….. I’m going for …… cue drum roll ……….. You’ve Got The Fever; a delicious slice of moody Alt. Country flavoured Americana but with a Molinari cherry on top. What’s not to like? I’m no lover of the hype that accompanies Vinyl releases; but maybe ten years ago Pete Molinari was an Early Adopter releasing LP’s and 45RPM singles to an adoring fan base; but for the time being and for fiscal reasons, Just Like Achilles is a Download/Streaming only release; yet these songs just cry out to be played in that format, where the listener has to choose the time to invest in listening to music; and boy will you ‘listen’ to these songs when you get the chance.
WOW! I was at work yesterday when this new single from our chum Sir Robert Vincent arrived via e-mail and I was excited as my Granddaughter on Christmas Eve waiting to actually hear it during my lunch break! Technically that’s odd; because I’ve already got the album IN THIS TOWN YOU’RE OWNED and already love the song; but there’s still something of the teenager in me when it comes to singles. As most of you will know this is the third single from the album and while it’s slightly different in tone, yet again it really showcases not just Rob’s excellent songwriting skills but that wonderfully enigmatic voice. In support of the new album, Vincent recently announced some brand new tour dates for this Spring. He will be accompanied by his band for seven headline shows that begin at The Lexington in London on 23rd March, ending at Jimmy’s in Liverpool on 3rd April for a special home town gig. Full dates to follow.
Of the new track, Robert explains “We are faced with a conundrum about whether or not to remain as consumers, and continually take from the world we live in, or to start looking after our planet. “We take love from this world, try to leave some when you go”. We all have a responsibility as individuals to try to fix the damage we are doing. “You’re born into this world alone, try to leave it better off when you go’”.
Look, it’s a cool song by French based Aussie-Brit band Sunset Sons anyway; but how could I resist making this our Single of the Day with this video? Serendipity plays a huge part, as Son #1, now 40 has been drawn back to skateboarding as my Granddaughter aged 10 has ‘got into it’ and a whole day of our imminent holiday with them is booked at a Sk8 Park in Tampere, Finland where they live!
‘Say Hi’ arrives just ahead of a run of intimate underplay dates from the France-based band – including London’s Camden Assembly on June 26 – which sold out immediately after going on sale. The 4 dates (which will be followed by festival appearances at Truck & Boardmasters) are Sunset Sons’ first UK dates since Nothing But Thieves took them on tour for a run of huge shows (alongside Demob Happy) in late 2018.
The new video for single ‘Say Hi’ – shot in & around the Southbank skate space – is a sort of inverse homage to Tom Hanks’ 80s classic, ‘Big’. Featuring the band’s own bassist Pete Harper, the video rounds out with some sweet home movie footage of a teenaged Pete skating back home in Australia….
A Cult Punk Rock Outlaw Cowboy Album for a Lost Generation.
In the 12 years I’ve been reviewing their music I think there’s only ever been two Bloodshot albums I’ve chosen not to review as I couldn’t get my head around what the act were producing (no names no number!) as this label have a roster of acts that are either straight forward ‘fantastic’ or at the very least ‘interesting’. The Yawpers go to the top of both piles at RMHQ. I had to do a double take halfway through opening track Child of Mercy. What is this witchcraft? Our favourite Punk Rock Outlaw Cowboys sound like they’ve been listening to Primal Scream while watching the History Channel…… but now two weeks later; it’s the perfect introduction to this new chapter in the band’s life. Dancing on my Knees then comes straight at you outta the traps with no subtlety whatsoever…… and if you survive this intense Psychobilly without fumbling for the ‘off switch’ you are in for a veritable treat thereafter. “You can’t like everything you review” I often get asked; and it’s true, I don’t; but there are plenty of times I can see what someone else will get from the songs I’m listening to; and rightly or wrongly that’s where The Yawpers fit into my life. If I was 17 and just discovering beer, girls and Rock Music, The Yawpers would more than likely be my favourite ever band; as songs like Reason to Believe (with it’s attack dog guitar ) and Forgiveness Through Pain have the ability to change a young mans life. In their defence The Yawpers do acoustic too; and both At Winters End and Man As Ghost are both really fascinating and well told stories and shows a gentle and articulate side that is usually lost in the glorious cacophony they are rightly lauded for. That Primal Scream ‘feeling’ I described earlier, reappears on the epic title track Human Question and that nearly gave it the title of RMHQ Favourite Track here; but with hindsight and great taste, I’m actually going for ……… the heads down, hip-shaking, footstomper Earn Your Heaven which is the antithesis of just about everything you will hear on a radio anywhere in the Western World in 2019; but that’s radio’s loss……. the People will decide that this song will become a Cult Classic for the Lost Generation. Think Green Day covering MC5 two days after discovering The Doors. Alt. Punk-Prog anyone? With HUMAN QUESTION The Yawpers somehow manages to challenge the listener on many fronts; not least your aural senses; but the end result is always entertaining, compulsive, life affirming and not least memorable in every sense.
A Man Out Of Step Takes a Massive Leap Into The Alt. Past.
Johnny Dowd? It’s not fair to say that you either ‘love him’ or ‘hate him’ as it’s more, ‘you get him’ or ‘you don’t’. Mrs. Magpie gave me ‘that look’ last Saturday night when I played this on the stereo; which puts her in the latter camp; me…… bring it on kidda! Dowd is now 70 and been recording albums for just 30 of those years; but those albums have helped change what we now call Americana Music for the better; as he has probably been an influence with anyone who put’s an Alt. in front of Country or possibly even Blues. I will try to use the word ‘weird’ once; and keep the comparisons to a bare minimum; but right from the get go; opening track, the weirdly Jazzy/Blues instrumental Hoodoo sounds like something Zappa or Beefheart dreamt of creating put sadly failed, leaving it for Johnny Dowd set the new benchmark for Avant Garde Rock Music. Over the years I’ve received quite a few albums by artistes trying to make music this interesting and fascinating; but all save a couple of songs have failed miserably; yet even on this Dowd’s 18th album it’s chock-a-block full of songs that will spin your head; but bring you straight back for more, more, more. There’s so much more to Vicksburg than just being a history lesson; it could be poetry set to an Acid Jazz beat; or is that Alt. Country with a beat box? Who knows? Who cares? Dowd uses Bass-lines so dynamic on the sparkling title track Family Picnic and Back End of Spring they will more than likely to get pinched by with-it Hippity-Hoppity stars; yet on the latter Dowd might even be getting his own Hip-Hop on anyways! While there are surprises around every corner; I was stunned to hear Dowd Go Dub on Let’s Have a Party; or at least the backing track has come straight out of Orange Street but Dowd’s vocals are straight up East Coast Country…… play it LOUD and play it often. With so much going on in his songs, it’s easy to forget what a great songwriter Johnny Dowd has always been; his odes to Conway Twitty and Thomas Dorsey have to be heard to be believed; yet somehow I think both men would raise an eyebrow were they to ever hear these two ‘love songs’. Obviously with an album so left-field and eclectic makes finding a Favourite after only a couple of plays nigh on impossible; but if forced I will have to spin a coin between Stuttering Wind, as if it had been around in the early 80’s I would have danced my ass off to this on a Friday night at Barmston Club; and the other is the nearest to a Country song as I’ve heard from Mr Dowd, Four Gray Walls…….. but don’t expect an invite to the Opry any time soon! If I had a record store I don’t know where I would slot this album in today; as it’s not easy to pigeon hole in 2019 where the public need descriptions like leading a horse to water; but let’s go for Alt. Eclectic or Avant Garde Americana……. or just Damn good and intelligent Rock Music?
We don’t normally do this; but ‘friend of a friend’ Tom Heyman is about to hit the roads across Europe and the UK alongside the legendary Dan Stuart (ex Green On Red) and we don’t want you to miss out by thinking he was ‘just’ any old support act……so, here’s his latest single THE MISSION ON FIRE (which is still very apt) and a couple of songs with Dan himself.
Sarah Borges & The Broken Singles
LOVE’S MIDDLE NAME
Blue Corn Music
It’s Only Rock & Roll, But You’ll Love It!
The only time I’ve seen Sarah Borges play live I had to travel 250 miles for the privilege. Well; in those days my job took me around the country and I’d made appointments accordingly so I could stay over in Nottingham; but you get my point.
Constantly evolving and reinventing herself, I was excited but didn’t really know what to expect when I first played this album a few weeks ago; but subsequently it’s been my ‘go to’ album when I needed something loud and noisy in the car.
The venomous House On a Hill sets the scene perfectly for a musical ride that’s the perfect accompaniment for driving around town in an MG Midget with only four gears and a rag-roof on a sultry Autumn evening.
Sarah’s voice has aged nicely in the intervening years; and her songwriting and storytelling shows no sign of diminishing either; certainly if the Power Ballad Let Me Try It or the sizzling Girlie Book, which isn’t quite as risqué as I’d hoped, are anything to go by; and they aren’t alone.
With so many genres to pick from these days I’m stumped for where this fits in…… but think Lucinda fronting the Georgia Satellites as her voice lives and breathes every word she sings, and the band which revolves around the industrial powerhouse of Binky and Phil Cimino on bass and drums (although Ed Arnold also bashes out a neat beat on two tracks) prove a perfect foil for Ms Borges gritty and heartfelt vocals while Producer extraordinaire Eric ‘Roscoe’ Ambler supplies some really astonishing guitar all the way through.
Ambler’s slick production allows the band to R.O.C.K but lets the listener actually hear and appreciate the lyrics; which is a joy to behold on Lucky Rocks and the Honky Tonkiest song this side of the Cumberland Gap; Get As Gone Can Get.
There’s also a couple of smashing ballads here too, first and foremost is the acoustic Oh Victoria which showcases Sarah’s mellower side; but the song itself is also quite spiky too, which is as good a word as any to describe Grow Wings too; which is a real pot-boiler and so atmospheric you can virtually smell the sweat in the studio.
Then of course I have to choose a Favourite Song for you; and for once it was quite an easy decision; even though plenty of others were contenders; but Are You Still Taking Them Pills is both a firecracker and a showstopper of a song. Wryly observational of the people that inhabit small towns not just in America but across the Western World, Sarah Borges turns the original Western Swing tune by Brennen Leigh and Noel McKay into a sleazy and tightly wrapped Rock n Roll tune of the finest magnitude!
There’s not a lot else to say; as the songs and Sarah Borges herself speak for themselves and all I can do now, is advise you buy it then another copy for someone you think deserves an album that just might change their lives for the better.
DEAN WAREHAM & CHEVAL SOMBRE
If I Could Only Fly
Double Feature Records
In the wake of a new Bio-pic about his life, I read a fascinating article about Blaze Foley only a couple of weeks ago and made a mental note to check out his work.
Then the fates have got involved and I’ve just received this wonderful take on one of his songs by Bean Wareham from Galaxie 500 and Cheval Sombre (neither of whom I’d ever heard of) and the result is quite staggering!
“The album will be released October 26 and they’ve just shared their take on Blaze Foley’s “If I Could Only Fly” by way of a Dan Huiting directed video. Of the single Wareham notes, “Cheval suggested this haunting Blaze Foley song that was something of a hit for Merle Haggard. It might be Foley’s best song but is not included in the new biopic. Our version is closer to post-punk Manchester than to Texas country.”
“Dean Wareham Vs. Cheval Sombre is comprised of 10 tracks that were first released or made popular in the 60’s and 70’s. Blaze Foley released “If I could Only Fly” in 1979. He is the subject of a just-released film directed by Ethan Hawke entitled Blaze.”
Muscular yet Beautiful Songs From the Heart For The Heart Broken
In this technological era many acts have forgotten the effect that great cover art can have on a release; not so here with Juanita Stein’s second release; UNTIL THE LIGHT FADES.
With a nod towards some classic album covers of the 1960’s the picture of a sad and lonely young woman sitting at a street corner paints a picture made up of a thousand words all on its own; and would have made me take a risk on £10 had I seen it in a record shop.
So; does the music live up to the cover.
Yes, is the short answer.
A slow jangly guitar leads into a ghostly woman’s voice with so much echo, it’s difficult to make out what she’s actually singing the first time I heard it; but that doesn’t matter as the ethereal beauty she creates; in a way Kate Bush once mastered and harnessed; drifts over you until it’s brittle beauty almost smothers you.
Subsequently; the song itself has a really inspiring sensitiveness to it.
BANG! The electric guitars and crack shot drum kit come out of the cupboard on the second song, Forgiveness and now now Juanita takes us to the dark side of lonely street; with a song I bet Chrissie Hynde wishes she could still write!
The more the album progresses it’s evident that the opening track was just there to lull you into a false sense of security; as Juanita Stein is a bit of a Rocker Girl at heart.
This isn’t loud Rock Music though; very Alt. perhaps even a kind of Modern Indie or if I’m not wrong New New Wave, if you will.
I love the guitar playing on In Your Hands as it is deliberately sloppy; in a Ronnie Wood style, and on Silver Lining there’s even a hint of Prince in the shadows; but Juanita’s distinctive and, it has to be said……sexy voice and harmonies, takes both songs into the territory Blondie, the Bangles and The Pretenders ruled the charts with several decades ago; but Ms. Stein and gang giving them a very modern shine and polish.
As always at RMHQ we actually take the time to listen to the words and couplets that the songwriter has gone to the bother of writing; and the anger and energy that Juanita produces as she virtually spits out Easy Street and especially Get Back To The City is well worth the entrance fee alone, with it’s brilliant opening it’s opening line “Sometimes even the cool girls/end up with the assholes.”
Thankfully this isn’t all bile and venom; and I’m not even sure those words describe those two songs; as this is an album written from the heart of a young woman who is still living life; both good bits and sad, with the twang of Fast Lane and the ethereal French Film proving marvelous counter balances to the hormonal love songs that litter this album.
Then of course I must pull out a Favourite Song for your delectation; mustn’t I? Any album with a song called Cool on it will always draw my attention; and this bittersweet anti-love song certainly came close; but I’m plumping for the modern Gothic of Release Me which sends shivers down my spine every time I hear it; and you can’t ask for more than that, can you?
I’m out of touch with the music that young people like these days; but I’m pretty sure if I was an angsty young student living away from home for the first time; I’m confident that there’s more than enough here to satisfy that type of midnight heartbreak; but then again as an appreciator of well written and well produced songs sung by a distinctive and extraordinary voice it works for me too.