Rachael Webster – Find a Place EP

Cool new music alert!

The newly released EP from Sheffield songstress Rachael Webster hit my inbox this week, and it’s well worth making it hit yours as well.

There’s something I need to get on paper (well, on screen) before I start talking about Rachael and her music. I get sent a lot of music and music links, by a lot of different people, and when you look at what’s been sent, you get to know the outcome before you even listen to the music. 

I’ve listened to some awful music, generic, bland offerings, which sadly abound because making music seems so easy for people these days.

I wanted to say that, so that when I start talking about Rachael, and specifically the music on Find a Place, you realise what I mean and where I’m coming from. 

Find a Place is nothing like the reams of music submissions I’ve dismissed above. You know the amount of hard work and application that’s been poured into this EP. It’s well produced, rhythmic, thoughtful, and pitched at the right tone and style for the lyrics. Rachael has a voice of quality and feeling, and she’s writing songs that showcase her voice excellently. 

So the songs…

There’s a really good blend of tempo and feel. I love a good driving rock song, so my favorite is probably Whisky and Cream. In Too Deep is beautifully atmospheric, and the other tracks on the EP (Coming Home, The One, and Lost In My Head) deliver a strong lyrical punch alongside some lovely acoustic melodies and layers.

At the end of all that, the Sound Impression verdict? 

This is where I really ought to develop some kind of rating system. Four and a half porcupines? Sounds like I need to work on that, but whatever measure – we like. And so will you, so go seek out Rachael on Facebook, and go listen to her music!

Find a Place is released on ComRock Records.

Advertisements

Kevin Hewick – Driven By Love, Driven By Hate

Driven By Love, Driven By Hate is the latest album from Kevin Hewick on Botheration Records.

Kevin’s one of those musicians you really think you should know well. Hailing from Leicester, he’s been playing music for five decades, and in 1979 became the first ever acoustic artist signed to Factory Records, the label that brought us such esteemed acts as Joy Division, New Order, Happy Mondays and a brief liaison with OMD and James.

Over the years he’s been associated with many different acts and labels, and has supported everyone from The Fall and Joy Division to Showaddywaddy, Fairport Convention and Lene Lovich. It’s fair to say his influences are varied and widespread.

dldh2

Kevin brings this background and his personal battles and demons into his music, and they are very apparent on Driven By Love, Driven By Hate.

The seventeen-track album takes you on – yes, I know – a journey, through distinct landscapes and emotions. You start by walking away from all the crap that weighs you down and holds you, a task that seems impossible to complete. You get dragged back into the morass of the world, with political lies and commercial necessities clashing and knocking you around. You realise that the escape is a myth, and that by confronting the demons and finding your own way, you become (as Kevin puts it) “the uneasy rider of the easy riding dream”. Then you arrive, at a place of child-like simplicity where the seemingly important becomes trivial, and the apparently meaningless becomes central.

Kevin’s vocals and melodies come through with clarity and strength, and his choice of supporting musicians bring every song to your ears as the next step on your trek. End to end, in order, is definitely the right way to listen to the album, but there are some stand-out tracks for me that condense the story into a little drabble.

Memory Coma evokes mellow hopelessness with longing for something more. Season 3 addresses the reality and the need to hang on to hope, and Jackson Pollock Pebbledash is altogether more upbeat, and positive, promising a potential future in the sun.

Kevin is a real storyteller, novelist, lyricist and – having had the pleasure of meeting him recently – a very cool bloke. If you want a soundtrack to your summer that challenges and enriches, you could do worse than popping over to his BANDCAMP site and buying the album.

Track listing:

  1. A Robe, a Razor and a Bowl
  2. Country Mile
  3. Life is Too Kind
  4. Driven by Love, Driven by Hate
  5. Memory Coma
  6. Watch and Learn
  7. My Friends the Rats
  8. The Inheritors
  9. Imaginary Victory
  10. Season 3
  11. Shattered Soul
  12. Arizona Highways
  13. Uneasy Rider
  14. Jackson Pollock Pebbledash
  15. Radcot Lawns
  16. Glen Parva Dogwalker
  17. Tinks

Brandon Neal – Bird Song

The latest track to hit the Sound Impression inbox was a lovely little acoustic number from a chap called Brandon Neal.

Brandon hails from that epicenter of UK music, our very own Detroit or Nashville. Yep – Leicester. Which (and bear with me on this) isn’t quite as crazy a leap of the imagination that you might currently be thinking. After all, Leicester has provided us with Walkers Crisps, a burial site for Richard III, and the most unlikely Premier League winners fathomable. So great music? It’s a given!

And Brandon’s newest track proves that point.

Brandon1

Bird Song mixes a clear, well-balanced acoustic rhythm with a strong yet vulnerable vocal line from Brandon. There’s a great ebb and flow to the strength and intensity to both, which perfectly matches the wistful lyrics.

What really works well, and cuts through as a nice surprise, is the switch of vocal lead partway through. Lucy Moore has a beautiful voice, and the difference between her vocal and Brandons elevates the song to a whole new level, only bettered when they continue together with some lovely harmonies.

This was the first song of Brandon’s I’d heard (aside from his Facebook jaunt with Laurence Crow that you can read about here) and it certainly won’t be the last.

Check out his Facebook page for more about him, his music, and his excellently cultivated facial hair!

Man-buns and Beards – punky folk on Facebook

So it’s seven thirty in the evening, and I’m in that hiatus time between eating a pasty and going out to rehearsals, and what do I find to fill an hour?

My old mate Laurence Crow (a.k.a. The Artist Formerly Known as Wolfe Sunday) sat cross-legged on the floor with his friend Brandon Neal, throwing out some acoustic tunes in lieu of their evenings gig, called off because the Beast from the East snowed them off.

28238716_10215910838182796_6713323445072009586_o

Although I’ve never reviewed a live Facebook event, this was actually pretty cool. New songs and old favourites, plenty of well-groomed facial hair, barnets that suited an early-2000’s David Beckham slightly less than they do Laurence, and some great laughter with the online audience. If it were possible to throw some digital underwear, they would be drowning in Marks and Spencers’ finest!

Nice one guys!

Find them on facebook at either https://www.facebook.com/billytalented and https://www.facebook.com/brandon.neal.5201

Joel Gardner – The Idea

I was very pleased when Joel’s new EP, The Idea, dropped into my inbox this week. I’ve felt a little starved of new music lately, and was keen to listen to someone fresh.

The Idea is a very accomplished, very polished set of tracks, which were written by Joel whilst out sunning himself in the Canary Islands. There’s certainly a warmth and a distinct palette to the EP, as jaunty pop butts up happily against melancholy anthem.

My favourite track was Made Me Believe, which has a real emotional depth that is well supported by the melody building slowly, almost to a cliff-edge, before finding a path back down to quieter water.

There’s not really a weak track in the collection, with I Will Find and If I Could Love You particularly good, and it’s clear that he’s hit the mark with this one.

unnamed

 

If I was to look for a constructive comment, I think I’d like to hear something a little edgier, a little more… unrefined, I guess. Joel has a great voice, and an undeniable ear for melody and how songs can be constructed. I have no doubt that he’d also succeed at deconstructing songs, and I’d love to hear some of his energy on tracks that expose more of the rawness that emotion can – and often does – deliver.

Overall? A Sound Impression likes this a lot, and will certainly be revisiting Joel’s material. Nice one, mate.

Wolfe Sunday – Wolfe Sunday

I’m usually fairly laid back about music, different genres, different approaches. There’s so much stuff around, if you listen all the time you can maybe get a little… well, immune, I guess, to how it can make you feel.

So let me get this out there straight away, so that my comments about Wolfe Sunday’s debut self-titled album can be taken in the spirit they are delivered:

I love this guy. I love his approach, I love his sound, and I love that he’s just doing what he loves.

There. I said it. I’ve never met him, I’ve never spoken with him on anything above email.

But there’s something about this album that pushes all the usual rules aside. It’s foot-tapping stuff that tells a story in a genuine, funny way that throws in elements of pathos, sadness, ambition, disappointment and remorse. If we were the sort of review site that gave thumbs up ratings, this one would get many…. but we’re not, so…. anyway…. we like!

wolfesundaymain

Sometimes Wolfe Sunday is full band madness, sometimes it’s pared-back acoustic. Either way it’s just the thing that nestles perfectly in the ear. With songs like “I Spend More time at Service Stations Than On The Stage” and “I’m Still Not A Rockstar (But I Sure wish I Was)”, this is folk-punk with a human edge. It’s his story. And it’s inspired stuff.

Wolfe (a.k.a. Laurence Crow, which in itself isn’t a bad musician name) describes himself as if “Kimya Dawson had a baby with Beans On Toast and brought the boy up listening to Motörhead, then gave him a guitar”. I kinda get that, but there’s a lot of Billy Bragg and early Elvis Costello in the mix as well. all of which I like, and all of which I have returned to several times since it dropped into the Sound Impression inbox.

The Album launch is on July 14, it’s gonna be out on Beth Shalom records (you can buy it HERE) , and to find out more, go to www.facebook.com/wolfesunday – a click that won’t disappoint.

 

The Magic Es – Melody Jane (single)

magicE

Melody Jane is the latest single from The Magic Es, a four piece guitar rock band from Norwich.

The Magic Es have built up a strong following, and their music is starting to gain traction on radio stations worldwide. The guys tell me that reviews and feedback has been favourable.

So what does A Sound Impression think?

I listened to the track before reading any of the marketing guff that always accompanies singles releases. I tend to do that to see if my thoughts match what the bands claim as public opinion.

In this case…. yes, it does. There’s a definite sense of energy and thought behind the track, and one of the band’s main influences – The Undertones – comes through very strongly. I love early Undertones tracks, and as such, this was sending me all the right notes.

On the downside, I thought the chorus was a little weak, having no real singalong hook line. The melody drops into a minor key for the hook, which rarely works in an uptempo pop/rock song.

That having been said, there’s more than enough here to make me want to hear some more of their tracks, and the benefit of doubt clearly deserves to fall in their favour. Go take a listen and see what you think!

Line Up:

Pete Thompson (vocals/guitars)
Jasper Stainthorpe (bass)
Stuart Catchpole (drums/vocals)
Phil Woods (guitar)

http://www.facebook.com/wearemagicuk

Will Rogers – Misfits

The latest album to drop into my inbox is the soon-to-be-released offering by Will Rogers, Misfits.

UMQPI8U9

Will’s music is an open, honest mix of lyric-driven acoustic rhythms, no more so evident than in the title track, which cocks its hat very much in the style of Barenaked Ladies. But this album has many more layers and dimensions to it that the simple desire to cram as many words as possible into two minutes and fifty four seconds. It comes over very much as a labour of love and an insight into the musician’s soul.

Take the first track, More, which espouses all of the collective fervour of Billy Bragg’s social utopia with none of Bragg’s annoying political overtones. It’s a great little sing-along song with catchy riffs and a tagline that sticks in the head, leading to those embarrassing moments when you find yourself singing aloud in public. Together with Thunder, Misfits and Take A Leap, there’s a positive, almost jaunty feel that dares the foot not to tap along.

Cogs hits a sombre, darker tone, with a lyric that comes closest to angst-driven unrest and despair. It shows that Will is far more than a one-trick pony, with the ability to deliver both lightness and shade.

My favourite track, however, is the final offering, Dangerous Words In The Dark. There’s a clarity of message that cuts through so clearly, telling of the challenge facing a man desperate to completely open his heart and soul to his true love. As a contrast to the rest of the album, it takes you by surprise and really makes you sit up and take notice.

album

I’m really glad that I got the chance to listen to Misfits. Finding a new artist, and getting to understand a little of what makes them tick, is the best thing about writing reviews. And it’s even better when the material is as refreshing as this.

Misfits is released on Saturday, March 7, 2015. For more info, go to http://willrogersmusic.com/

EDIT: Misfits is OUT! You can get it through the link below (or in all the usual places, amazon, spotify etc.)

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/misfits/id970648939