The Elijah: A Son A Disease (ep)

The Shropshire rockers show a more ambient side than a lot of their contemporaries which is evident from the opening track of this 5 track ep. My ears pricked up as soon as Since I Was Born started with some beautiful orchestration and heavenly vocals but that was soon put aside as the wee shouty man appeared. I'm always confused when a band that makes music that is as stirring, original and mesmerising as this lot do have to go and spoil it with the whole screamo thing. Seriously... it sound like mad uncle Dan has wandered into the studio and went off on one.

Things pretty much stay the same throughout as mad uncle Dan does his best to turn track after track into something unlistenable. Shame as these guys really do know how to write a cracking tune and guitarist Michael, the one who can actually sing, has an incredible voice. As hard as I try, I just don't get why these guys need to do the whole screamo thing.

~ Monday, 6 December 2010

Sweet Gorilla Band: Feels Like I'm Still In Love (single)

Sweet Gorilla Band seem to have been plucked from obscurity by renowned producer Youth when he spotted the band playing at Putney's legendary Half Moon earlier this year and this is the debut single for the band fronted by guitarist and songwriter Pav Sharda.

I was expecting something special from Feels Like I'm Still In Love but the reality is a pedestrian slice of plod rock, a beautifully produced slice of plod rock, but plod rock none the less. The lack of depth to the songwriting is only highlighted even more in the truly diabolical chorus which is blandness personified. Despite the glowing recommendations from Youth on the accompanying press release, it is hard to see from this single just what it is that he finds so special.


Miss Quincy: Your Mama Don't Like Me

Following hot on the heels of 2009's self titled Miss Quincy and the Ramblers, the Canadian roots songstress carries on her upbeat spirit that makes nods towards jazz, gypsy and melodrama in an intriguing mix of styles. She shares a similar territory to Myshkin's Ruby Warblers and even KT Tunstall that gives her sound an air of familiarity. For me, as much as I do really like this record, her voice is an acquired taste which verges on the annoying side of bohemian. Imagine a nasal sounding KD Lang. I'm sure there are those who will love the quirkiness of her dulcet tones but for me it makes an uncomfortable bedfellow given the strength of her songs.

The title track opens the album with its Charleston inspired arrangement that harks back to the hot dance clubs of the 20's and credit where credit is due, she pulls it off with considerable aplomb.
Nobody With You is a strange beast. You can hear a Polka in there with a very Parisian feel that she again pulls off perfectly. It shouldn't really work, but it does. The stripped back Record Store is just crying out for her to tame her vocals to the backing but she decided on doing the whole vocal gymnastics thing and a beautiful song is laid to waste.

When she does get the balance of vocals and music just right, the results are stunning like on Wild Mountain Flower and Dirty Boat, with the former being the pick of the album for me. This is a record that has both charmed and frustrated me in equal measure. Without question, the talent is there but for me the execution needs a bit more refining.

[][][] (3/5)


Bruno Coulais & Kila: The Secret Of Kells

This record is the soundtrack to the animated feature The Secret Of Kells, a film which has critics and audiences alike showering it with praise. Much of the films atmosphere is down to the inspired soundtrack of French composer Bruno Coulais and Irish world fusion band Kila but without the visuals to back it up can it stand in its own right? Well, yes and no. The atmosphere that it creates is magical with ethereal sounds washing over you in a relaxation inducing tide of calm. It really does sound wonderful but if you are looking for songs in the traditional sense then you won't get that here with only the two final track of the 21, Epicy and Cardinal Knowledge, taken from Kila's Lemonade & Buns album and 2007's album Gamblers' Ballet respectively, having the structure of a recognisable song.

Personally, I love this. It just sounds amazing. The production, the instrumentation, the arrangements... they are just simply beautiful. For fans of Kila, this will not be a million miles away from what they know and love but given that most of the music was composed and orchestrated by Coulais, it does bring a different dimension to proceedings.

If you are looking for something that captures the spirit of the Ireland of legends, myths and tall tales then this album will transport you there with effortless ease. This is a beautiful piece of work that stands alone from the film but if you really want to experience it the way it was intended, then sit back, turn down the lights, take the phone of the hook and watch the magical film.

[][][][] (4/5)


JT and the Clouds: Caledonia

Chicago's JT and the Clouds have a pop soul sound kind of like Hootie and the Blowfish or John Mayer that I'm sure has massive commercial appeal but it is also predictable, middle of the road and unoriginal. Take the opener Fever Dream as an example where the guitar is lifted straight from the Doobie Brothers and the track just never seems to get out of first gear sitting in a comfortable monotony that pervades this whole of this album.

The one thing that does hold this album together through the blandness of the music is the vocals of front man Jeremy 'JT' Lindsay who sound like a mix of Sam Cooke, Mick Jagger and Rod Stewart. Don't get me wrong, there are some good songs on here like Playin' Dozens, How It Runs and The Wolf but the sugar coated production sounds like the music has had the life compressed out of it. There is no definition to the instruments and everything just merges together into a lifeless mass that becomes more frustrating with every listen.

What could have been a quirky and powerful record is lost with only the last track Nobody Wants To Be Alone Nobody Wants To Die showing what the rest of this record could have been. Which raises the question why they could not have given the same dynamics to the rest of the album. Pity.

[][][ (2.5/5)


The Galileo 7: Are We Having Fun Yet?

If you like the Lightning Seeds, and sadly there are many who do, then good news... The Galileo 7 are here to do their best to sound exactly like Ian Broadie with their charmless, ever-so-happy pop that thinks it is psychedelic but it ain't. You can see what they are trying to do with their organ driven mod-rock sound but given the quality of the vocals, production and organ playing it was never going to work.

I was really looking forward to this album as it is released on Teen Sound Records, an offshoot of the brilliant Italian Psych label Misty Lane, but while this record has some charm, it feels more like a novelty record or a surreal Mighty Boosh sketch where the band think they are better than they are and they are the only ones who can't see it. Ok, maybe I'm being unfair here. The production doesn't help them. The sound is muddier than a swamp and devoid of any of the warmth that my beloved 60's garage and psych vinyl collection possesses. I'm sure the guys also own a mighty fine record collection but it doesn't show here. There is no point in going through this album track by track as it doesn't deserve it. It really doesn't.

After listening to this album for well over a week I still couldn't tell you the name of any of the tracks on here or a single lyric. To answer the guys question in the album's title.... NO!

[] (1/5)


Rachel Harrington: Celilo Falls

Rachel Harrington has been a welcome visitor to these shores for many years now and has built a strong reputation for her live shows, both solo and with Lindisfarne's Rod Clements, but she has been sadly overlooked with her recorded output. With this her third studio album, she looks set to redress that imbalance with a beautiful sounding record packed full of inspirational and stirring Americana that stands her apart from many of her contemporaries.

You are left in no doubt about Harrington's musical preferences from the very start of the record with House Of Cards oozing a Southern Delta sauciness complete with vocals that roll and drawl with a world weariness of someone who has seen life through a different pair of eyes. Here In My Bed is a song of true quality and rare beauty, the outstanding track here in my humble opinion, that strips the arrangement back to allow her voice to steal the show.

The quality continues in the poetic Goodbye Amsterdam, the lilting You Don't Know and the magical Where Are You and then we arrive at her cover of Art Hanlon's Spokane where Harrington makes it her own and, dare I say, betters Hanlon himself. This is an album that will instantly hook any fan of Americana and offers even the casual listener a hugely rewarding experience. Harrington deserves to be mentioned alongside the likes of Nancy Griffith, Gillian Welch and Emmylou Harris and this album will make sure she is.

[][][][] (4/5)