Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Random Review #104 Matthew Jay - Draw

C3S6CD3 This album was released in 2001 and I’m guessing that I haven’t listened to it since maybe 2003, so when I read the sticker on the front of the album to hear it described as ‘...stunning’ 4/5 Q Magazine and 8/10 NME, I wondered how this album would stand up 10 years on.

The quote from NME likens Jay to Elliot Smith a parallel that would run far too close in 2003. In the autumn of 2003 they would die within a month of each other and at first both deaths would be attributed to suicide. As time has moved on this has been questioned as to whether this cause of death was incorrect and especially in the case of Jay it would be proved to be incorrect. It was suspected that Jay was on his own when he fell from the balcony of his apartment but this has been questioned. He had parted from his record company EMI but had not mentioned he was depressed and in fact was recording new material (that would be posthumously released) and in the absence of a suicide note an open verdict was recorded at the inquest into his death. What I know is the music lost a talent and a bit like Nick Drake he had no idea how people would appreciate his music as time went on.

The album opens with the wonderful Four Minute Rebellion and following this are Let Your Shoulder Fall and You’re Always Going Too Soon, these three tracks really set the scene for the album but listening to it now maybe they are its best moments. It’s not as if the rest of the album is poor but it feel as if it’s of a moment, the arrangements and production don’t sound right for 2011. Some albums are ageless and it’s very hard without reference to determine when they are recorded but this album isn’t one of them.

Matthew Jays death was a sad lost for the music industry as this album has moments that showed Jays real talent but sadly the album hasn’t really stood the test of time.

Mark 6/10

August Music Purchases

Amos Lee – Mission Bell He supports Adele on her sell out tour in the autumn and this should bring Amos Lee the attention he deserves in the UK. This is his forth studio album and he continues to produce brilliant, Country-soul if I can call it that. Rootsy but soulful with a voice to die for.

Villagers –Becoming a Jackal been wanting this for ages, a voucher for my birthday seemed the perfect reason to buy it. Saw them support Elbow earlier in the year and although they looked lost in the arena size venues they played beautifully.

Low- C’mon Latest release from the American masters of gloom. I shouldn’t say that as the last couple of releases have been a bit more upbeat and this is in the same vein.

Freedy Johnston – This Perfect World picked this artist up from #masterpieces on Twitter from @alfieinvisible who picked a great week of singer songwriters. Really love this album.

Morcheeba – The Antidote Had 5 minutes to kill and was standing by a Poundland, got this a Stereophonics DVD and the excellent film Rudo & Cursi (starring Gael Garcia Bernal) guess waht they were all a £1!! Still have first Morcheeba album and seemed that it might soundtrack a summer’s day (if we ever get another one) if its crap it will go to the charity shop and they’ll try and sell it for £3.

Hall & Oates – The Singles bit of an omission from music collection, this singles collection should put pay to that.

James Taylor – Greatest Hits Same as the entry for Hall & Oates just feel should have at least a Greatest Hits for his artist. 

Okkervil River – The Stand Ins A trip to Edinburgh always means a trip to Fopp Records, bargain priced purchases always follow. Just got into these guys and this is an early album.

Jonny – Jonny Celtic ‘supergroup’ members of Teenage Fanclub and Gorky's Zygotic MynciGorky’s heard bits and bobs and album well priced so had to do it.

The National – Cherry Tree & Sad Songs For Dirty Lovers couple of early releases from the band I had travelled to Edinburgh to see. Loving their work at the moment.

Deep Purple – Made In Japan At the age of 14 me and my school pals, learnt everything we needed to know about music in Sounds a music weekly and lived on a staple diet of rock music. This Double Live Album along with Thin Lizzy’s Live and Dangerous and UFO’s Strangers In The Night were pre requisites of all rock fans. I have the other 2 and a sale price of £3 for this means I now have them all in CD. The other 2 still hold their own as albums I like and play wonder if this one will do the same?

Bombay Bicycle Club – A Different Kind Of Fix Loved the last album Flaws this takes band in another direction but again great reviews and lead track sounded great.

Beirut – The Rip Tide Again bought this on the back of a load of great reviews for live performances and latest album, I’ll let you know how it goes.

James Yorkston – Roaring The Gospel I have been reading It’s Lovely To Be HereThe Touring Diaries Of A Scottish Gent by the aforementioned artist, which I can highly recommend thought I best buy some of his music as he has made me laugh so much with his writing so.....

Monday, 29 August 2011

Random Review #103 Grand Drive - True Love And High Adventure

C11S3CD9 Picking random CD’s to listen to takes me on a number of different journeys, sometimes it makes me wonder why I bought the CD in the first place, others make me want to but more music by the artist and like this CD some take me on a journey to play all the other CD’s I have by the artist. I had forgotten how much I Liked Grand Drive, I hadn’t forgotten how much I loved Danny George Wilson one of the mainstays of the band as I am continually playing the music of his latest band Danny and The Champions of The World, but picking this album made me release just how long he had been releasing top quality music!

Grand Drive were formed by Danny and Julian Wilson, Australia born, raised in London but playing music straight out of America. Their debut was released in 1998 Road Music to critical acclaim and this album followed in 2000 and took up where their debut left off, beautiful Americana, tight harmonies and nods towards the wonderful music produced by the Laurel Canyon musicians in the 70s and 80s.

The album opens with the track Wheels which seems to skip along as if you are in a driving route 66 in an open top Cadillac. Beautiful harmonica seems to give you a back drop of open roads and big sky country. I could write about every track Ladder To The Stars I know means an awful lot to @dazlee1 and truly is a wonderful song. My favourite track is Nobody’s Song in Particular a song packed with emotion and urgency which is just beautiful.

It mystifies me why Danny Wilson hasn’t managed to get the recognition he deserves, his music with Grand Drive was first class, and in fact a compilation of rare and unreleased tracks, Being Alive – Loose Wheels and Latchkeys 2000-2005 is so good I would class it as my favourite Grand Drive albums, his solo album The Famous Mad Mile contains one of my favourite ever tracks (Painted Pebbles) and with Danny and The Champions of The World he has one of the best live bands out there at the minute.

I have been lucky enough to see Danny play on a number of occasions across all his bands and will again be seeing him in September and as some of you know I’m only trying to see bands that I haven’t seen before this year but such is the draw of Danny and The Champs live show I have to break my rules for them!

A beautiful album full of beautiful songs from an artist that makes beautiful music no matter what the bands called. 

Mark 8/10

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Random Review #102 Guy Davis - Stomp Down Rider

C9S2CD15 Think I have said before I have a fair bit blues stuff, covering most spectrums of the music, from the original origins of the music (Robert Johnson, Leadbelly etc) to the morphed  modern versions created by the likes of Little Axe, and The Kelly Bell Band. This album is a modern artist recreating the sound of the originals which lots of guys are prone to do and this sometimes causes a problem.

There are lots of artists reproducing traditional blues, Alvin Youngblood Hart, Corey Harris, and to some extent Keb’Mo’ (early in his career) the difference is that although they were firmly based in traditional acoustic blues they were always pushing it, where as Guy Davis seems happy just to reproduce and I’m not sure if that’s a good thing. It’s a bit like going to see a Led Zeppelin tribute band, they might be good and a decent replacement for the original as you can’t see the original but truthfully can they ever replace the original?

This album is a live recording with Davis playing solo. Of the 12 songs we get 8 covers 4 original Davis tunes. We get the blues classics Dust my Broom (made famous by Elmore James but written by Robert Johnson) along with Candy Man (Reverend Gary Davis) being the best of the covers. The struggle with this album as it makes me want to listen to other artists rather than settle down and listen to Guy Davis, it makes me remember how good the blues can be, but not necessarily on this album. It’s not a bad album but it’s a mile away from being a great blues album. Although a live recording the audience is noticeably absent in the most part. Although Davis introduces the songs with a brief story crowd applause either didn’t happen or is very low in the mix which gives the album a very strange feel.

I don’t hate this album it’s good enough to make me want to listen to the Blues again, but not Guy Davis’ Blues!

Mark 5/10

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Random Review #101 Golden Smog - Weird Tales

C11S3CD7 Michael Macklyn, David Spear, Raymond Virginia, Leonardson Saratoga and Scott Summit, all giants of the American music scene come together to form a ‘Super group’ called Golden Smog, heard of them? I doubt it, as the names are made up from their middle names and the streets where they lived, but if I said Jeff Tweedy (Wilco) Gary Louris (The Jayhawks) and Dan Murphy and David Pirner (Blind Melon) then a lot of you will start to get the picture, throw in members of Big star and The Replacements and what you get is a collective of great songwriters having a bit of fun.

Although the aliases stayed for the first EP and album they always credited the songs to the correct names so the game was really up very early on. The band has been a loose collection of musicians especially in the drummer’s seat as they seem to have had more drummers than Spinal Tap! Jokes aside this was an outlet for some great musicians to have some fun and maybe do something they couldn’t do within the confines of their day jobs and it works.

This is the second full length album only preceded by an EP of cover which was their debut release. Some of the songs are written by the entire band and I guess when they come together, but others are written  by the individuals and I wonder if they are left over from the respective bands as you can pick Wilco, Blind Melon, and Jayhawks sounding tracks out on this album a mile away. Not that they are substandard tracks left over from the bands there is some wonderful music on this album. Lost Love is Being There era Wilco, and Until You Came Along is the best Jayhawks song they never recorded. As much as this is all I need to buy this album, the jointly written songs also throw up some great tunes. If I Only Had A Car is wonderful as is Jennifer Save Me both written by Kraig Jarret Johnson and Gary Louris.

There are no covers on this album but they have covered Bowie (Starman) Thin Lizzy (Cowboy Song) and Dinosaur Jr. (Tarpit) amongst a number of cover version which allows them to endulge some of their hero's which I guess they couldn't do within the confines of their regular bands.

This experience was enjoyed so much that the band have even played live and although quiet for a while they  have 5 albums and an EP behind them.

If you love Blind Melon the Jayhawks or Wilco or just a lover of good Americana then this will be right up your street.

Mark 8/10