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.

 

Mr Happy Chainsaw – It’s Not My Ball EP

One of the many emails to drop into the Sound Impression mailbox recently was a note from Essex-based punky popsters Mr Happy Chainsaw. Their latest EP, It’s Not My Ball, is being released soon, after strong airplay for their single release, Standing There.

Now for me, there’s a few things that stand out in the band’s favour. There’s a level of production that helps show this hasn’t been thrown together in a mate’s garage. The lyrics cut through the instruments, and the whole thing is balanced, tight, and technically accomplished. All of which is important, but let’s face it – it’s a bit dull for a music review. Which is why I got it out of the way early. You don’t want to know whether the tracks are professionally produced, you want to know what’s gonna slap your ears and make you smile.

Let’s start by sharing how Mr Happy Chainsaw describe themselves. Imagine if you will, a cocktail bar. If you asked for a Mr Happy Chainsaw (they tell me) you’d get “a pinch of Blink 182, Green Day and Alkaline Trio, to which we add a splash of Foo Fighters, a hint of Barry Manilow and Elton John and it all gets topped off with a generous serving of tongue in cheek fun and a dollop of Essex”.

There’s a big expectation after that kind of statement. You’ll either be looking for the flavours of all those great acts, or you’ll be hoping for something uniquely distinctive. The truth? It’s actually somewhere in between, somewhere that mixes all of these to make something a bit different. Although I probably wouldn’t recognise ‘a dollop of Essex’ if it was served on a spoon with a cherry…

Tracks like Standing There and Your Best Friend have a Foo Fighters / Blink 182 vibe, with a solid, driving freshness that propels you along. There are catchy riffs and vocal hooks, all of which make their music something you can listen to over again.

There’s also clearly a more considered, thoughtful side to the guys. When listening to their tracks (especially Leaving Town) there’s a definite story running through the songs. I hope it’s not all from personal experience, because if it is, well… hard luck, dudes. There’s … an intelligence behind the music – trust me, I don’t always get that impression – and that appeals to me in a way that much of today’s one-dimensional blandness simply can’t.

Overall?  A Sound Impression approves, and suggests you go to http://www.mrhappychainsaw.com and see for yourself.

Track listing:

  • Standing There
  • Out of Time
  • Charlie
  • Leaving Town
  • Your Best Friend

Blondie : Parallel Lines

The first of an ongoing classic album series, we’re taking you back to the heady days of 1978….

It hardly seems possible that Parallel Lines was released nigh on 40 years ago.  Just one look at the album cover, and a skim through the track listing, makes the tunes spring into your mind, as fresh as yesterday.

Fronted by the beautiful Debbie Harry and delivering a wholly eclectic mix of styles (pop, punk, disco, reggae, rap), Blondie’s music became instantly recognisable, and Parallel Lines, their third studio album, helped them break into the elusive but lucrative US market.

Rather than wax lyrically that much, let’s skip to the track listing (* denotes a singles release) :

  1. Hanging On The Telephone *
  2. One Way or Another *
  3. Picture This *
  4. Fade Away and Radiate
  5. Pretty Baby
  6. I Know But I Don’t Know
  7. 11:59
  8. Will Anything Happen?
  9. Sunday Girl *
  10. Heart of Glass *
  11. I’m Gonna Love You Too *
  12. Just Go Away

Of the singles, only I’m Gonna Love You Too failed to make an impression, but then a Blondie cover of a Buddy Holly original is maybe pushing eclectic just too far.

The others? You may well be singing them now.

The US markets lapped them up, making Heart Of Glass the band’s first US number 1, an achievement that they repeated a further three times over the next three years. Add to that six UK number 1 hits and success across Europe, Australia and New Zealand. Blondie had made it. The album, produced by Mike Chapman, harnessed the raw emotion of their first two albums (Blondie and Plastic Letters) and helped them bridge the gap between new-wave edginess and financially viable pop stardom.

The rest (as they say) is history…