Thursday, 28 February 2013

Dave Powell and the Lonely Gales - Recovery Blues

Well Schooled

This five track EP of Country rock and blues suggests a student of the Steve Earle school of gritty confession without the political passages. So musically speaking there’s a rasp in the voice and the rock is punchy and the ballads heartfelt.  According to the noisetrade site where this can be downloaded for free, the songs chart ‘his descent into substance abuse and depression, and the ragged road he trudged back home to health and happiness’. We wish him continued h&h, and this fine set of songs would seem to herald a positive future. Link here.

Nashville - TV Series [3rd Episode]


It’s third time unlucky for Nashville, a TV programme about which I can write – well, I can do what I like on this blog – because it is ostensibly about music. I watched the third episode last night and it has quickly atrophied into the most predictable soap opera preoccupations of presenting dysfunctional families, complex romantic relationships, and the simplistic battle of good vs evil. These are, by the way, relative templates too: such conventions can be better done. And it would seem naive to even make these observations, but I had moderate hopes. I certainly preferred the absurdities of the opening episodes where the stereotypes had a pleasingly risible predictability rather than those which simply regurgitate. And my notion of ‘absurdity’ is also relative: last night we saw Rayna Jaymes’ two young daughters perform brilliantly in a talent show, and it isn’t unusual that children of a Country singing star would themselves be musical, nor that such precocious talent can exist at their ages, but there had been nothing in their prior character portrayal that hinted remotely at such a proclivity let alone expertise [this is a later addition: I do now recall the pair singing along to a Juliette Barnes song in the back of their mom's car, much to her plot-annoyance. So that blows one hole through my criticism.....!].

If I continue watching it will be for the music, though that too is a relative term, especially for those who do not like Country. It is interesting to me that most of the cast sing their own songs, and I am trying to find definitive information on the writers/composers. It is because I quite like much of the music, especially the acoustic duos. This is also, obviously, because I like Country, have a high tolerance for the formulaic of this genre, and think this in itself is interesting in how a soap opera can replicate such and thus either underpin its innate qualities, or undermine it in the apparent ease of its replication. Well, that’s not my battle to resolve because I’ve made it clear where I stand.

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

The Virginmarys - King of Conflict

Raw Silk

This Maxonian trio is a superb raw rock outfit, their direct guitar drive and vocal bluster wrapped a little in songwriting silk, that finer quality perhaps as homage to hometown Maccelsfield’s historical industry. The impressive industry of their live gigs has been notably highlighted in recent reviews, and it is easy to hear in the energy of this recording. There are conventional pounding riffs [opener Dead Man’s Shoes; tenth Taking the Blame], the swagger of Oasis and other very British rock influences, and the occasional finesses of Foo Fighters [Just a Ride] all wrapped up in the package, but the key is to put it on loud, until they can be seen on stage. They are lyrically quite dark and intense, this too suggesting depth in the songwriting.

The deluxe edition contains three ‘stripped’ recordings which, not that it’s necessary, adds credence to their evident talent, but also aids a hearing of those storytelling lyrics, as with the powerful acoustic version of Just a Ride.

Monday, 25 February 2013

Northern City

Hand-woven from the Donegal wool of bog-soaked
sheep, your coat exudes its tailoring, yet we
wouldn’t know that blackberries and fuchsias have
coloured other refinements: this coat has its
gorse-and-moss dye toned to a muesli elegance, the
flecks as goosebumps of alabaster and mahogany.

Hands in pockets angled by the measure of protractors,
you could be Royal – how the sartorial cuts us out and
above others it would seem in all those looks by
people in these streets from this darker city. Poverty
wears its heart on cheaper materials. But at different
times, their painted faces and dressing up is another
aspiration to rise over the playing fields of greed,
like a coat over a hard life in its deceptive tweed.

Boz Scaggs - Dig

Dig It In The Night

Just contemplating if Boz Scaggs’ Middle Man should be in my Top Fifty - a category taking forever to address and complete – and doing so because I am listening to his 2001 album Dig, though it should be late at night rather than this early in the day.

Dig is funky and jazz-smooth, produced and played to a coolmusic template that totally works for me, Scaggs in fine soothing voice. Danny Kortchmar provides extra special guitar. If you want to smooch into a nighttime groove of idle musical massaging, put this on/in the player, and you could get an immediate temporal rub by starting with Desire. Sarah is another beautiful track.

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Endless Boogie - Long Island

Dark Boogie

I would think that most of the apt allusions for describing Endless Boogie’s gritty rock jams have been tied to the back of an old pick-up truck and dragged along the gravel road at the back of a shack [though hailing from New York, the rough bucolic vista doesn’t quite fit].

Whilst different to Retribution Gospel Choir’s faithful adherence to the Neil Young extended guitar-rock ethos, it does do elaboration and mixes in Stones with Beefheart and even Velvet Underground, I think, or perhaps The Doors, on a slow blues groove like The Artemus Ward, but that’s in its narrative vocal. Opener The Savagist is the longest and most existential of the aforementioned ethos. But in these two tracks and all others it is the guitar work from Jesper Eklow and Paul Major that exudes. Like the fuzz and wah-wah across eleven minutes of On Cryology. Major growls too on many, like General Admission where ‘there’s no cheap seats!’ Be hypnotised by the endless boogie beneath that snarl, the continued wah-wah, and the dulcet lead.

At eighty minutes across all eight tracks, averaging 10 minutes each, it’s a journey probably best taken it its entirety in the dark, however that is induced. I’ve only dabbled in seated daylight head-banging, dreaming of a time long gone when I would have placed this on the turntable and stretched out for the duration, a speaker against each ear, aroused by the signal to flip it over, then maybe woken from whatever much later. 

Thursday, 21 February 2013

This and That

So I hop onto the cart – which I will see as an
elemental way to travel on this journey of self-
discovery – and in that I have a vehicle for
expression which is this: the spring in the step
was my clever-clogs movement, but what if
the rest is just accidental? And if all that I am
is in the thinking these words are the wheels
to momentum in writing, traveling from here to
there is going to be more than just the tour.
It will be when and wherever I arrive, coming
to a sure stop or drifting by having just missed
how the movement in a number of lines took me.
Did you follow this? That is the obvious question
as is the ending that only just nears its temptation.