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.

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Luna Rosa – Fear, Filth, Dirt & Death

The new single from Luna Rosa is being marketed directly to help the victims of the Grenfell Tower disaster, and all money generated from sales and merchandise will go towards the funds. So please buy it, or donate directly to the cause, as the victims need all the help they can get.

That’s all I’m gonna say about the charity and fundraising for now, because this is, after all, a music review site and not one of your high street chuggers moved online.

So – the track.

Luna Rosa spring forth from Corby, the town that won the naming rights for the world’s favorite trouser press. However, whilst the most popular unused hotel appliance sits quietly in the corner of the room and serves for nothing but an additional space to hang a jacket, you’ll never be able to say the same about Luna Rosa. Since forming in 2015, they have played at festivals, sell-out shows, and headline slots, sharing stage space with many of music’s big names with their high-energy, high intensity sound.

Fear, Filth, Dirt & Death is a driving, pulsating track, in complete contrast to the Simon Cowell-inspired version of Bridge Over Troubled Water. It’s clearly politically driven, with the theme basically being ‘the rich and powerful don’t care’, complete with references to the NHS, financial corruption, and of course, the terrible events in West London in June 2017.

That’s why it’s not an easy song to review for me.

The song itself has some great hooks and melodies, is well played and well produced, and would generally sit well alongside most others in the Alt-Rock-Punk scene.

For me, however, the last thing I imagine that the victims of the fire need is more anarchy in their lives. The tragedy was preventable, and yes, the inquiry will identify those culpable and then justice will – at some level – prevail. But linking it to perceived or even actual assaults on the NHS is disingenuous. This was,to me, not a failing of national government – irrespective of which party was in power at the time any local decisions were made that contributed to the tragedy – and the two things are, to me at least, very different.

Anyway – time to sum up: Fear, Filth, Dirt & Death is a good song, worth listening to, and for the purpose of helping the victims at Grenfell or just for a big protest sound blasting your eardrums, well worth investing in. I just wish that it had been released apart from the disaster, because the two don’t sit well together in my mind.

For more info on the band and release info for the track, please see their Facebook page.

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.

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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

Flower Children -Wasted Space

This single release comes from Caffe Collective, based in London and promising “to integrate their audiences with the creative approach towards art, coffee and entertainment, and expand the horizons of artists working together”

I wish I knew what that actually meant, because I feel it would help me to understand exactly what’s going on in this song.

Call me an old traditionalist, but I just don’t get it. Maybe I’ve not smoked the right stuff, or I’ve not listened to this whilst seventeen espresso shots course through my system at 3:30am on a Friday night.

The band describe themselves as a ‘funk / prog rock band’ but in truth I’m really struggling to find any elements of these genres. What I hear – and what I see from the video – is something I can most closely liken to a finger painting by my kids when they were back in nursery. There’s a picture in there somewhere, that’s for sure. Only it’s not at all obvious what you’re experiencing. So you say the nice things, like “Oh, it’s an elephant?” but only because they are your kids. You pin up the picture, but very soon afterwards it gets replaced / mislaid, and that’s it.

Sadly, I’m driven to say that – for me at least – this is the closest that Wasted Space gets to art, and that at a mere two minutes long, it thankfully lasts about the same time as a toddler’s daubs. And as it’s not from my offspring, I’m struggling to find anything more positive to say.

I have no doubt that there’s an audience out there. Emin, Hirst, and others find appreciative crowds for what I and many others simply find baffling and strange. So it is with Wasted Space. I’m afraid the biggest emotional response I can offer is a scratch of the head and maybe a faint raising of the eyebrows.

Feel free to take a look yourselves HERE, and I apologise to the band whose efforts I’ve not been positive about, but as I tell everyone: I’m not here to write you a glowing advert unless – in my view – it’s deserved.

 

 

 

 

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…

Future Theory: Fool’s Dream EP

Back after a too-long hiatus, I’ve been listening to the Fool’s Dream EP from Lincoln-based alt-rockers Future Theory, a band who have attracted attention from Q Magazine and BBC Introducing.

The EP has five tracks, and I think it’s fair to say that the band have made a conscious effort to showcase as wide a range of styles as possible.

Let’s start with the title track. Fool’s Dream has an acoustic, heavily ambient feel, with their cited influences (reverb, delay, experiences, and each other) driving the melody so strongly, I’d fully expect someone to be credited as playing the pedals. There’s a depth of feeling and emotion here that really warrants me listening to this live in a smoky club rather than in my office, watching the traffic go by outside the window.

Listen Closely is completely different, laying Max’s lazy vocals over a far cleaner musical backline. It has a more psychedelic feel to it than Fool’s Dream, and Chris’ guitar riffs hold up a mirror to the vocals and contrasts nicely with the more jaunty main rhythms.

Eye Of The Storm drives more frenetically, with a more solid rock feel, whilst Horses takes us in a more intimate direction, drawing you into a steadier, more measured story where the message takes priority over the delivery. That might sound like a strange thing to say, but think about it: when you listen to a song, and you associate with the song and the lyrics, it’s so very different to when you remember a song more by its tune or signature riffs and less by what the lyrics actually said. Horses is delivered in a way that focuses the attention onto the words, and there’s nothing that distracts you, so well do the instruments and vocals mesh.

The EP is rounded off by Horses/Koncide, which kinda let the EP down a little for me. It’s almost the opposite of Horses, with an ambience and techno-beat that simply pushes the envelope too far. I get the feeling that this one was an experiment that felt good after a few beers, but personally I don’t see that it adds anything to the EP or the band’s signalled direction.

Overall? There’s a lot of good stuff here. My top two would probably be Horses and Listen Closely. I’ll revisit and listen to more, and if the boys ever venture south, I’d be interested in going along, because they leave the impression of a band that really delivers in a live setting. If I ever do come along though, don’t be surprised to see me head for the bar when the techno stuff begins….

Future Theory are: Rhythm guitar and vocals- Max Sander; Lead guitar- Chris Moore; Bass guitar- Jake Scarbro; Drums- Rohan Parrett

For more info on the band and to get in touch, their facebook page is http://www.facebook.com/FutureTheory/ 

Fools Dream EP is on Spotify at http://spoti.fi/2fgPzsY