27 feb 2013

Matthew E. White - Big Inner

by James Christopher Monger

A gentle giant with an unassuming voice and a knack for distilling New Orleans R&B, Tropicália, and '70s soft rock into a sweet and smoky, Southern-style indie pop confection, Richmond, Virginia-based singer/songwriter and arranger Matthew E. White's Hometapes' debut, Big Inner, is as frustrating as it is cosmically transcendent. Part Allen Toussaint, part Chico Buarque, and more than a little bit of Harry NilssonWhite's musicality (he moonlights as the leader of avant-garde jazz band Fight the Big Bull) is impressive to say the least, and stand-out cuts like "Steady Pace" and the nearly-ten-minute "Brazos" suggest a real musical awakening. The soulful, sultry opener "One of These Days" serves as a great litmus test for what follows, casting a languid spell over the listener with its measured, neo-soul build and lush ornamentations. In fact, White's arrangements (his string parts are pure, Sail Away-era Randy Newman) are so good, that it's tempting to write off the fact that his deadpan, pitchy delivery nearly sucks the life out of them. That said, fans of Arthur RussellFred NeilLambchop, and even The Nationalmay be more forgiving, as White's gift for sonic world building is on display throughout Big Inner's 40-minute run time, and while he may sound like a Donny Hathaway-obsessed, Palace-era Will Oldham, or an even less-interested M. Ward, his old-school affectations never feel like shtick.

Foxygen - We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic

by Fred Thomas
With their album-length 2012 EP Take the Kids Off Broadway, backwards-looking concept rockersFoxygen arrived with so many classic rock reference points you could have made a bingo card out of the various nods to various heroes contained in their still somehow undeniably hooky songs. Proper full-length We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace and Magic is even more stuffed full of familiar sound cues and convincing '60s and '70s pop star mimicry, this time with heightened production fromRichard Swift taking the album out of the lo-fi realm, and more personal lyrics adding some character to the artifice. Picking apart the blatant, intentional references to different classic songs that cycle verse-to-verse throughout the album is a fun game for record collector types; from the nod to the intro of Sgt. Pepper's on album-opener "In the Darkness" to the bold-faced Dylanisms (and less overt but equally strong Al Stewart-isms) of the incredible, big city lament "No Destruction." BowieLou Reed, all eras ofMick Jagger, specific doo wop songs, and even moments of the Band; no oldies are safe from Foxygen's pure-hearted appropriation. Their reconstructive surgery of various influences is an interesting approach for a band made up of kids in their early twenties circa 2013, but it isn't the entire formula for what makes this record so great. Lots of bands before Foxygen have dealt with quick changes and sonic patchworks of older influences, but few have managed to craft songs as moving and catchy as these. The thick accents and psychedelic swirl of "San Francisco" walk the line of being patronizingly nostalgic until the hook-heavy chorus comes in, distant guest vocals from Jessie Baylin and Sarah Versprille answering singer Sam France's "I left my love in San Francisco" with refrains of "That's okay, I was bored anyway" and "That's okay, I was born in L.A." This one move disarms any cloying elements of the song and reminds the listener that Foxygen are in complete songwriting control, not just throwing back-dated pop culture references at the wall and hoping something sticks. In their earliest days, Of Montreal had a similar knack for updating their favorite records with their own personalities, as did many artists of the Elephant 6 collective, but WAT21CAOPAM is more tuned in, clear-headed, and full of intent than any ofFoxygen's more immediate predecessors. It's a gorgeous and non-stop convergence of ideas, some borrowed, some original, some refurbished, and some outright stolen. In the end, however, the album's coherence comes in its incredible architecture of all these ideas, and the way the band sells them with everything they've got, taking what could be incredibly obtuse music back into the realm of pop from which it was born.

Palma Violets: 180

by Scott Kerr

Palma Violets are a four-piece band from London, made up of bassist/vocalist Chilli Jenson, guitarist/vocalist Sam Fryer, keyboardist Peter Mayhew, and drummer Will Doyle, who play their own distinct brand of psychedelic rock & roll. In 2010 a chance meeting between school friends Fryer,Mayhew, and Doyle, with Jenson at the Reading Festival, compelled them to form a band after becoming disillusioned by the lack of meaningful and emotive music on offer. After a slow start to their career, it was in 2012 when things began to take shape and this coincided with their residency at Studio 180, a cheap, repurposed house in Lambeth, London. This was a hub of creative minds, from artists to photographers, where Palma Violets were able to produce their sound in the company of like-minded people, and afforded them the freedom to craft their music. The ramshackle nature of their rehearsals and the increasing audiences attending their live performances in a sweaty room in Lambeth created a buzz that eventually alerted A&R bosses at major labels to the band’s talents. Without any recorded music at the time, industry types were forced to judge them purely on their live shows, and after much vying for their signatures, the band signed to indie label Rough Trade. Their first studio work came late in 2012 when single “Best of Friends” was released and was subsequently named NME’s number one track of the year, which then propelled them to the front cover of the publication. A feverish hype swirled around the band as they secured a U.K. tour and work commenced on their debut album.

26 feb 2013

The Doobie Brothers

by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
As one of the most popular California pop/rock bands of the '70s, the Doobie Brothers evolved from a mellow, post-hippie boogie band to a slick, soul-inflected pop band by the end of the decade. Along the way, the group racked up a string of gold and platinum albums in the U.S., along with a number of radio hits like "Listen to the Music," "Black Water," and "China Grove."
The roots of the Doobie Brothers lie in Pud, a short-lived California country-rock band in the vein of Moby Grape featuring guitarist/vocalist Tom Johnston and drummer John Hartman. AfterPud collapsed in 1969, the pair began jamming with bassist Dave Shogren and guitarist Patrick Simmons. Eventually, the quartet decided to form a group, naming themselves the Doobie Brothers after a slang term for marijuana. Soon, the Doobies earned a strong following throughout Southern California, especially among Hell's Angels, and they were signed to Warner Bros. in 1970. The band's eponymous debut was ignored upon its 1971 release. Following its release, Shogren was replaced by Tiran Porter and the group added a second drummer, Michael Hossack, for 1972's Toulouse Street. Driven by the singles "Listen to the Music" and "Jesus Is Just Alright," Toulouse Street became the group's breakthrough. The Captain and Me (1973) was even more successful, spawning the Top Ten hit "Long Train Runnin'" and "China Grove."
Keith Knudsen replaced Hossack as the group's second drummer for 1974's What Were Once Vices Are Now Habits, which launched their first number one single, "Black Water," and featured heavy contributions from former Steely Dan member Jeff "Skunk" Baxter.Baxter officially joined the Doobie Brothers for 1975's Stampede. Prior to the album's spring release, Johnston was hospitalized with a stomach ailment and was replaced for the supporting tour by keyboardist/vocalist Michael McDonald, who had also worked withSteely Dan. Although it peaked at number four, Stampede wasn't as commercially successful as its three predecessors, and the group decided to let McDonald and Baxter, who were now official Doobies, revamp the band's light country-rock and boogie.
The new sound was showcased on 1976's Takin' It to the Streets, a collection of light funk and jazzy pop that resulted in a platinum album. Later that year, the group released the hits compilation The Best of the Doobies. In 1977, the group released Livin' on the Fault Line, which was successful without producing any big hits. Johnston left the band after the album's release to pursue an unsuccessful solo career. Following his departure, the Doobies released their most successful album, Minute by Minute (1978), which spent five weeks at number one on the strength of the number one single "What a Fool Believes."Hartman and Baxter left the group after the album's supporting tour, leaving the Doobie Brothers as McDonald's backing band.
Following a year of auditions, the Doobies hired ex-Clover guitaristJohn McFee, session drummer Chet McCracken, and former Moby Grape saxophonist Cornelius Bumpus and released One Step Closer(1980), a platinum album that produced the Top Ten hit "Real Love." During the tour for One Step CloserMcCracken was replaced by Andy Newmark. Early in 1982, the Doobie Brothers announced they were breaking up after a farewell tour, which was documented on the 1983 live album Farewell Tour. After the band's split, McDonald pursued a successful solo career, while Simmons released one unsuccessful solo record. In 1987, the Doobies reunited for a concert at the Hollywood Bowl, which quickly became a brief reunion tour; McDonald declined to participate in the tour.
By 1989, the early-'70s lineup of JohnstonSimmonsHartmanPorter, and Hossack, augmented by percussionist and former Doobies roadieBobby LaKind, had signed a contract with Capitol Records. Their reunion album, Cycles, went gold upon its summer release in 1989, spawning the Top Ten hit "The Doctor." Brotherhood followed two years later, but it failed to generate much interest. For the remainder of the '90s, the group toured the U.S., playing the oldies circuit and '70s revival concerts. By 1995, McDonald had joined the group again, and the following year saw the release of Rockin' Down the Highway. But the lineup had once again shifted by the turn of the new millennium. In 2000, the band -- HossackJohnstonKnudsenMcFee, and Simmons -- issued Sibling Rivalry, which featured touring members Guy Allison on keyboards, Marc Russo on saxophone, and Skylark on bass. The late-'70s incarnation of the band -- SimmonsJohnstonMcFee, and Hossack (with Michael McDonald guesting on one track) -- reunited once again to put out World Gone Crazy in 2010.

23 feb 2013

Daniel Romano: Come Cry With Me

Ever since I first heard Daniel Romano’s debut solo albumWorking For the Music Man in 2010—and then his rather extraordinary follow-up Sleep Beneath the Willow in 2011—I’ve been telling everyone who will listen that he’s my favorite singer-songwriter working today. And I’m not alone. One of the first things that you find when you preach this particular gospel to people is that, if they know his stuff, they invariably respond with smiling, high-fiving agreement. For so many longtime fans of traditional country music; people who were raised on post-hippie So-Cal country-rock; and who cut their teeth at shows in the alt.country 1990s; Daniel Romano appears as a kind of culmination, a startling convergence of all of these sounds, these approaches, these mythologies. His lyrics—often as quirky and as wise as the best of the ‘70s-era outlaws—always ring true; his voice—pitched somehow between the high reedy sweetness of a Gram Parsons and the deep earthy baritone of a Johnny Cash or Stompin’ Tom Connors—is disarmingly affecting and deeply distinctive; and his approach to traditional melody and arrangement looks backward and forward simultaneously, pulling from influences while pushing at boundaries. Daniel Romano’s uncanny ability to find freshness in the eminently familiar is what makes it all feel so vibrant, so essential.

Yes, Daniel Romano is the best singer-songwriter in country music today, and I’ll stand on Justin Townes Earle’s coffee table in my Blundstones and scream it at him. But, I think he’d probably interrupt me to tell me he agreed. And, you know, to get off his table, or at least to take the boots off first.

Come Cry With Me is, as the title suggests, a blue and lonesome album. Featuring ten songs about loss, about pain, about the lingering ache of regret, Romano takes us on a trip through the emotional ringer. Between the impossibly tragic opening track—the lament of a “Middle Child” whose mother has given him away while keeping her other two children—and the devastatingly hopeless hopefulness of closer “A New Love (Can Be Found)”, Romano plays the storyteller, the confessor, and the confidant with equal self-possession. On “I’m Not Crying Over You” he flips the script from the old Buck Owens number “Act Naturally”, here playing the heartbroken actor using his role as cover for his public weeping; on the utter masterpiece “He Lets Her Memory Go (Wild)” he builds a dreamy sonic universe into which he pours images of a lonely man holding it all in until, every once in a while, he lets out all of that pent-up emotion, recalling “the sounds in the kitchen [and] the tears of a child”. Oh, man. Come cry with him, people.

Backed by sensitive work from Aaron Goldstein (pedal steel guitar), Natalie Walker (fiddle), and a reverb-drenched choir comprised of Canadian indie musicians Julie Doiron, Misha Bower (Bruce Peninsula), Tamara Lindeman (The Weather Station), and Dallas Good (The Sadies), Romano builds that most welcome of atmospheres: a straight-ahead, honest collaboration between like-minded artists committed to the songs.There is simply no note out of place.

If there is a flaw in this record, it is in the one-two of “Chicken Bill” and “When I Was Abroad” which opens the second half of the album. While the former is a playful—if perhaps underdeveloped—road tale (deeply in debt to Johnny Cash and John Stewart), it ends on a cliffhanger that the latter torpedoes by filling in the blanks for us. But this is a minor issue when weighed against the grand success of the other eight songs here, a collection of tunes both idiosyncratic and classic, the kind of material you can instantly imagine as standards in your local bar band’s repertoire. The kind of stuff that will, if there’s any sense in this world, soon be immediately recognizable as a “Daniel Romano song”.

22 feb 2013

Aaron Neville - -Tell It Like It Is

Daniel Pearson: Mercury State

A mature and inspired work from the young singer-songwriter

Daniel Pearson sounds experienced, confident, and fully in command of his craft. That’s somewhat of a surprise consideringMercury State is only his second record. More surprising, it sits comfortably alongside folk and americana classics while bringing some non-traditional genre elements to the mix, most intriguingly an unexpectedly tasteful garage influence. Aided by longtime collaborator Jeremy Platt, he manages to let every genre peacefully coexist, none overshadowing the others. While the two-man operation’s live-recording minimal overdubs approach could have made that near-impossible to achieve, it sounds effortless. Realizing how well-rounded and fully formedMercury State is doesn’t take much though, it’s evident from the outset with opening track “Factory Floor” establishing a lot of groundwork.

“Factory Floor” is a brilliant opening track, showcasing Pearson’s lyrical talent and outstanding vocal presence, while also demonstrating an enviable knack for tactful arrangements within the duo’s minimal limitations. It’s a quiet stunner that uncoils slowly and grips the listener from start to finish. Pearson doesn’t wait around very long to get some teeth-gnashing in though, following it immediately with the garage-crunch of “Promises”. Some soulful organ work punctuates the garage feel while an unceasing bass drum pattern drives it along. With that one-two punch of songs, Pearson aptly demonstrates both his range and command of craft. It’s a thrilling start to a record that’s better than it has any right to be.

While the record’s only other song to hit that upbeat tempo is four tracks down with “Temptation”, it doesn’t lose that sense of adventurous variety in its midsection. “I Still Believe” is a tale of an all-too-familiar harrowing struggle to maintain consistency. Wrapped up in the everyday-style trappings, it’s difficult not to be at least somewhat moved by or connected to the track which is another area of strength for Mercury State; it’s completely utterly relatable. All throughout the record there are no moments of outlandishness or inspired inventiveness, there’s a constant warm and welcoming sense of familiarity which lends itself to the mood, atmosphere, and feel of the songs which, in turn, elevate them to their fullest potential. It’s brilliantly constructed and awfully complete for the bare-minimum set-up Pearson and Platt were working with.

Though Mercury State‘s mid-section helps establish the identity of both the record and the artist (while retaining an important sense of variety), it does lose the record’s pace a little and acts as the only real hindrance there is to be found on the record. While the songs are still consistently compelling, they don’t add too much to the record outside of acting as a bridge for the first and last acts of Mercury State. However, they each offer some memorable moments internally, whether it be the piano and organ over the chorus/post-chorus sections of “All Is Not Lost” or the beautifully arranged electric guitar adornment on “Rat Race”, which is easily the best of the three and keeps Mercury State from going too far off the rails.

The uptempo stomper “Medication” kick-starts some fire back into Mercury State and Pearson sets himself up for a thrilling finish. That thrilling finish never really comes, with “Old Friends” acting as perhaps the most representative track on Mercury State. It’s an odd sequencing choice after the relative ferocity of “Medication” but it acts as a beautiful bridge between that song and the brief but gorgeous closing song, “Lights”. “Lights” is Mercury State‘s final indicator that Pearson is undoubtedly capable of crafting a classic record but Mercury State only manages to come admirably close to that status. However, it’s a strong enough showing to suggest that we probably won’t have too wait too long for that to happen.

20 feb 2013

Nos ha dejado Kevin Ayers

Farewell, Kevin Ayers...

Soft Machine - Live in Paris 1970 (Full Concert)

MOJO's Editor-In-Chief Phil Alexander pays his respects to a great English songwriter.
Kevin Ayers possessed a voice like no other, intrinsically British and full of whimsy and mischief. This latter quality animated much of his life as well as his music.
Born in Herne Bay, Kent, in 1944, Ayers was raised in Malaysia before returning to England at the age of 12 where he attended Simon Langton Grammar School For Boys, later described as "a hotbed for teenage avant-garderie". His first band, The Wilde Flowers, formed in the summer of '63 and also featured Robert Wyatt andHugh Hopper, both of whom (along with Ayers) would have a huge effect on what became known as The Canterbury Scene.
By mid-1966 The Wilde Flowers had morphed into The Soft Machine and featured Ayers on bass and vocals, Robert Wyatt on drums and vocals, Mike Ratledge on organ and Daevid Allen on guitar - the latter, both older and wiser, and a key influence on Ayers. The band's sound evolved dramatically, as they began blending jazz influences and beat-inspired incantations to their psychedelic sound.
Appearances at London's UFO Club led to a French tour which proved hugely successful but which marked the departure of Allen who, being Australian and lacking the requisite visa, was denied entry back into the UK. He would, of course, remain in France where he formed Gong, while Ayers, Wyatt and Ratledge continued for the most part as a three-piece.
Soft Machine's upward trajectory continued when they were invited to open for Jimi Hendrix on his 1968 US Tour. Halfway through the tour, the band recorded their self-titled proto-prog debut with producers Chas Chandler and Tom Wilson (the latter having overseen five Bob Dylan albums and had just helmed The Velvet Underground's debut).
Ayers was involved with writing eight of the 14 tracks on the album, his key role being emphasized by freewheeling, romantic tunes like We Did It Again and Lullabye Letter, but it was evident that he disliked the monotony associated with touring, telling this journalist that he found the entire process "dehumanizing". Despite his later reputation as a bon viveur and a ladies' man, Ayers also expressed his dislike for the temptations of the road as well as at the prospect of the band's music becoming increasingly complex.
His exit from Soft Machine was amicable as he repaired to Ibiza with the aim to simply enjoy life. There, however, he met up with Allen again in the village of Deia and wrote much of what became his first solo album, Joy Of A Toy.
Released on the Harvest label and featuring a number of his Soft Machine friends, the album summed up Kevin's wonky view of pop music. Nevertheless, today the album has retained all of its psychedelic charm, key tracks like Lady Rachel, All This Crazy Gift Of Time and Song For Insane Times illustrating Ayers' songwriting at its most engaging. A track entitled Religious Experience was also recorded during the Joy sessions featuring Syd Barrett on guitar, but was not issued until the 2003 reissue of the album.
Blessed with good looks and natural charm, Ayers seemed set for a blossoming career, his second album Shooting At The Moon (released October 1970), building on the momentum of his debut and featuring his backing band, The Whole World, which included key players such as David Bedford, Lol Coxhill, Wyatt, Bridget St Johnand the young Mike Oldfield. Despite a rich run of form - which also include key albums Whatevershebringswesing (1971) , Bananamour (1973) and The Confessions Of Dr Dream And Other Stories (1974) - Ayers was ultimately beset by his own inconsistencies and appetites. As a result, a quest for greater commerciality was doomed to failure and, ultimately, led a string of patchy albums in the '80s.
His later career rarely saw him participating in music, although he did return to the stage in 1992 when he released his only album of that decade, the largely acoustic Still Life With A Guitar. Then, in 2007, he remerged with a brand new full-fledged studio album, The Unfairground, released on Bernard MccMahon's Lo-Max label. The album itself featured 10 startlingly good songs penned by the man himself and also saw a slew of artists, both his contemporaries and those he had influenced, playing on the record. Among them were Hugh Hopper, Bridget St John and Phil Manzanera, as well as members of Teenage Fanclub, Neutral Milk Hotel, Ladybig Transistor andGorky's Zygotic Mynci.
The album received a four star review in MOJO and the magazine attempted to put together a series of shows with Kevin in order to fully support the album. The logistics of these were complicated and involved Ayers travelling to Scotland to rehearse with the Teenage Fanclub and musical director Bill Wells. Sadly Ayers felt it was a step too far and, despite his return to London for promotional interviews, the plans for his live return collapsed.
More recently, requests for him to conduct interviews were met with rebuttals and word that Ayers found the prospect of talking to the media increasingly alarming. In truth, he was also battling illness.
A man often beset by his own insecurities, Kevin passed away on February 18, seemingly in his sleep, at the age of 68 at his home in France, a country with which he had developed a deep association. He will be greatly missed by all those who knew him, and those who lost themselves in his wondrous music. Remember him by watching him at his most elegant and eloquent in this 1970 French film...

19 feb 2013

The Strypes

Dedicado  a Jordi con cariño

Hometown: Cavan, Ireland.
The lineup: Ross Farrelly (lead vocals, harmonica, percussion), Josh McClorey (lead guitar, keyboards, vocals), Pete O'Hanlon (bass, harmonica), Evan Walsh (drums).
The background: The Strypes are four teenagers, aged between 14 and 16, although a couple of them look even younger. They come from Cavan in Ireland but, inevitably, as soon as people hear them they will say they sound as though they just crawled out of the Cavern – they pretty accurately recreate the sort of raw R&B sound the Beatles would have been making 50 years ago today in that legendary Liverpool club. But if you're not overly familiar with that crude primeval noise, it might equally make you think of the early Rolling Stones at another famous venue – the Crawdaddy, in Richmond.
The point is, the Strypes are into faithful period recreation, devoting their energies to making sonic replicas of music that would have been current when their grandparents were around. That is astonishing when you think about it. It is the analogue (pun intended) of the White Stripes' 1963 fetishism, only here they are homing in specifically on the Brit-beat boom penchant for US blues, when English bands such as the Stones channelled their love of the form through the newly minted guitar/bass/drums formation. Like their forebears, the Strypes reveal that they have been working backwards, too, discovering R&B via the bluesologists of the early 60s. "The whole blues thing really came out of a shared love for the Beatles," they have said, explaining that the Fabs led them to the Stones and then the Yardbirds, the Animals and the Who, and back to Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Howlin' Wolf, John Lee Hooker, Muddy Waters, Sonny Boy Williamson, Little Walter and Slim Harpo. "We're the antithesis of contemporary music," they say.
Well, not exactly. Every few years a band will come along and demand a return to basics, rejecting the fripperies of the modern recording studio and any manifestations of musical excess. But today, when there are all types of music being made all of the time, you could hardly argue there has been a dearth of this stuff. And besides, we weren't aware that we had just been living through a period of baroque grandeur, like the punks could claim in 1976. Still, that would appear to be the Strypes' belief, that it is their mission to purge the music scene of magniloquent pomp, hence their steadfast adherence to the old ways, and the preponderance of covers in their set – not refashioned, but with an impressive degree of fidelity.
So here they come, in their matching suits and shades, in all their monochrome, tinny, high-energy glory, joining Jake Bugg to restart the campaign for real rock, kick Simon Cowell's karaoke kids into touch and twist and shout like there's no tomorrow, which for them, musically speaking, would undoubtedly be a blessing, unless it was a future that merely comprised endless versions of what happened half a century ago. Next: the Lonnie Donegan revival, followed by a period of serious worship for Glenn Miller.
The buzz: "In a musical climate where everything is loop pedals and sampling, sometimes it's nice to say 'fuck off' to all of that and bring everything back to basics, which this tune does brilliantly" – Sabotage Times.
The truth: They make Jake Bugg look like Jake Shears.
Most likely to: Muse on the nature of authenticity.
Least likely to: Support Muse.
What to buy: The Young Gifted & Blue EP is available to buy from iTunes.
File next to: The Beatles, the Quangos, Jake Bugg, Cast.
Links: facebook.com.
Friday's new band: Scrufizzer.


Peter Parker's Rock 'n' Roll Club

Desde Londres...


18 feb 2013

PREMIOS GOYA - Lucio Godoy - Los lunes al sol

Creo que este año los Goya se lo debería haber llevado de nuevo esta película, ya se llevó en 2003 varios premios pero sigue vigente, es como Gone with the Wind que la puedes poner todas las temporadas.

16 feb 2013

Jim James - Regions of Light and Sound of God

by Thom Jurek
In 2008, during a My Morning Jacket concert, frontman Jim James fell from the stage and was injured badly enough to spend three weeks recuperating. During that time, artist Gary Burden dropped by and gave him a copy of Lynd Ward's God's Man, a graphic novel in woodcuts from 1929. The book moved him. The book is about a young artist who seeks redemption while struggling with personal demons. In 2009, he released his first solo EP as Yim Yames, an effort comprised entirely of George Harrison songs. The book and Harrison's spiritual curiosity are muses for Regions of Light and Sound of GodJames' debut solo offering -- a charming, messy collection of nine songs that all deal with spiritual concerns -- though never religiously. James played all instruments and voices, and produced it. Set opener "State of the Art (A.E.I.O.U.)" contains a jazzy piano motif (whose idea is borrowed from Traffic's "Low Spark of High Heeled Boys). He never develops it beyond a two-chord vamp, but he adds funky drums for motion. His lyrics offer conflicting metaphorical dualities -- observations on inner and outer worlds, some deliberate clichés, and the vowels in the alphabet. Electric guitar, sparse keyboard washes, and atmospheric string sounds fill it in to create a brooding drama. "Dear One," with its interlocking piano and rhythm loops, is a melodic yet urgent cosmic love song. "New Life" is another; a jaunty, uplifting tune that borrows from doo wop and early rock & roll down to the keyboard sax solo. One can hear ideas drawn from Talk Talk's Colour of Spring album in the single "Know to Now," that's built from the rhythm up. The Middle Eastern modal motif in "All Is Forgiven" is compelling as James' protagonist observes both Judeo-Christian and Islamic faiths and their claim to a true path -- and prays to an undefined God to be shown one, and for the knowledge that the title is indeed true. The familiar sound of chirping birds introduces the loopy, psychedelic, funky soul that drives "Of the Mother Again." Breaks, alternately pitched harmony vocals, a rubbery bassline, a spacy guitar vamp, and minimal keyboard horns populate its mix. It's a summertime groover. The sophisticated pop flirtation in "Actress" belies more serious implications than its breezy melody suggests. Closer "God's Love to Deliver" is a dreamy, poignant space hymn. Regions of Light and Sound of God is intriguing and quirky; its songs often pose big questions inside informal, loosely developed pop song structures that are instantly accessible yet whose lyrics are often metaphysically elusive.

15 feb 2013

Ocean Colour Scene - Painting

dedicado a Xavi de Macho.

by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Perhaps there's a bit of a sly nod to art rock in the title and album cover of Painting, the tenth Ocean Colour Scene album, but the contents that lie within are without a hint of pretension, favoring the florid trad rock that's been their stock in trade since Moseley ShoalsOCS add some new color by tipping a hat to their baggy beginnings on "If God Made Everyone" -- a dense, percolating cut featuring their heaviest dance rhythms in recent memory -- lathering on backwards strings and guitars on "Professor Perplexity," and opening the album with the chattering of school children on "We Don't Look in the Mirror." Also, echoes from Simon Fowler's pastoral solo project can be heard, particularly on the baroque psychedelia of "I Don't Want to Leave England," and these sounds accentuate how OCS have added textures to theirWeller-worshiping rock & roll over the years. They continue to mine interesting sounds out of this vein -- no other band has mimicked Traffic so expertly -- but the sounds and structures, not the songs, are what's memorable about PaintingOcean Colour Scene are agile within the confines 
of their wheelhouse so it's enjoyable to hear them play and construct records, even if they rarely give you a reason for a return visit.