Friday, 12 January 2018

Chris Wood - So Much to Defend, album review


This is a stand-out folk album from 2017, and actually just a stand-out album. Chris Wood does occupy a noticeably formal and traditional place within the folk genre, but he nonetheless manages to make it completely fresh and apt in a way the paradoxes within this sentence won’t if it is over-analysed, or maybe even just read a second time. My apologies. What I mean is I hear folk tropes in obvious ways as with 1887 [though the piano is an askance instrument] and in the absolutely stunning, beautiful closer You May Stand Mute. Opener So Much to Defend is rich in its Martyn-esque pickandslap guitar work, so in a sense a more modern folk grope [‘modern’ being a relative term here], the narrative itself referencing ‘Skype’ so a genuinely updated mention, and the ‘Ebbsfleet’ FC mention a bit of grounding news. There’s Hammond organ in the This Love Won’t Let You Fail to broaden the folksiness outwards – another beautiful song – and the horn/s in Strange Cadence a jazz inflection to make the listening pleasure fulsome.

Quite a brilliant album, in fact.

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Space Music 22

King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard - Gumboot Soup, album review


King Gizzard & the Wizard Lizard continue to deliver up their onslaught of richly heavy and melodic and complex and simple music, where, for example, a track like The Last Oasis is sweetly melodic with echoing/distorted vocals merging in layers of in-and-out-of-focus instrumentation, xylophone/vibraphone nuggets added to the eclectic mix, and then All is Known is a rockier, oriental-esque, funked-up and wah-wahed driver, but just before these two and just after the preceding delightful mix, is the thrash-metal pastiche of The Great Chain of Being and its proto-bombastic lyrics:

The great chain of being
The great chain of being
The great chain of being
The great chain of being

I am a rock with eyes to the sky
I wait for my time to rise
I come to disturb the throne
Dropped by a woman worn a pocket in a coat
The great chain of being
Will fall to pieces in no time

The great chain of being
The great chain (chain) of being (of being)
The great chain (chain) of being (of being)
The great chain (chain) of being (of being)

I usurp the precious stones
I have come to take the throne
I transcend the natural flesh
I will lay your god to rest

The great chain of being
Will be un-linked to start again

The great chain of being
The great chain of being
The great chain of being
The great chain of being
The great chain of being
The great chain of being
The great chain of being
The great chain of being

I see through your world's facade
I decide to punish your rock

The meteors pass by
I burn that goddamn church to the ground

I climb stairs to push you down
I climb chains to cut you down
I disrupt natural order
Rip that salty lamb to slaughter 

Wonderfully oblique in the mix.

Sunday, 31 December 2017

Zervas & Pepper - Wilderland, album review

Welsh Canyon Music

llawryf Canyon – this is how Google translates it, and Welsh duo Paul Zervas and Kathryn Pepper have translated Cardiff into a West Coast musical suburb, the songs on this June 2017 album [just heard, and so missed my Best Of in which it would have been predominantly] reflecting most obviously Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young as well as Joni Mitchell. It is in the harmonies and everything else Californian, so the influences/echoes extend to America and other similarly influenced if not indigenous WC-ians.

It is pretty and beautiful throughout and so nostalgic but more than this brilliantly written and played and performed in this very precise genre frame.

Hands Music 35

Saturday, 30 December 2017

Daniel Gadd - As If in a Dream I Drifted at Sea, album review

Wearing on a Faithful Sleeve

I'm a little stumped at what to say about this album, other than it wears its Cohen and Dylan influences with great echoing faithfulness. The finger-plucked guitar and laconic, weary-wise vocal is most reminiscent of Leonard Cohen, and there are clear Bob Dylan traces, like the song Some Time Ago [On a Cold Winter Night], and the harmonica in Sleep Turns Her Face, this latter because of an expectation rather than a definitive Dylan harmonica style other than breathing in and out and keeping it simple.

The eight tracks are never seemingly derivative, and the solo singer with guitar isolation shines a full focus on the songs and performance: I don't find them memorable as tunes, but the playing and singing is wholly engaging, partly for that 60s echo and the authenticity of its capture.

You see how I'm struggling there at the end. Should be enough to say I enjoy very much in its soothing, familiar way. The plaintive, penultimate song So Long Old Friend, with a hint of piano, is beautiful.

Eye Music 20