Month: February 2014

Martin Harley – Mojo Fix

421954_10151350078542815_1896162673_nFor those of you that don’t already know Martin Harley, you have to ask yourselves why the hell you don’t! He is one incredibly gifted guitarist, lap steel player, singer and songwriter that, as far as I can tell, is massively overlooked.

This album is a mixture of blues, country and heavy blues-rock. The blend of styles and sounds (note the stylophone in ‘Outlaw’, and the surf-rock guitar solo in ‘Wrecking Ball’) within this album makes it stand out and be heard – by me at least! The slower ballad type tracks have an air of country grace about them with the lap steel hitting all of those sweet country notes I would hope to expect. The heavier material is simple, effective and mainly groove or riff orientated… and that’s just fine with me. Rock shouldn’t be complicated.

If you want to see the brilliance of Martin’s work just have a listen to ‘Tightrope’ with its lilting bass line accompanied by ukulele-like guitar parts and a beautiful vocal melody, then compare it to ‘Ball & Chain’ with it’s rough and rugged edge, brimming with attitude.  His sheer ability to morph his sound from track to track is incredible.

The only negative thing I can say about this album is I think that the production value is a little bit poor in places with the vocals sitting a bit low in the mix for my liking, but overall the album sounds great – lets see if we can get Martin produced by someone like the Black Keys as an interesting experiment….

 

My 2 highlights on the album
– Being greeted by the title track Mojo Fix every time doesn’t get old
– ‘Tightrope’ and ‘Rum Shack’ work so well together so well back-to-back!

My 2 lowlights on the album
– As mentioned, the production could do with a little polishing in places I think.
– I have to wait until he releases some more material………!!!

Advertisements

Son Of Dave – Blues At The Grand

Image

An upbeat album from the ex ‘Crash Test Dummies’ member who has been going it alone since the 90’s. This is the first time he has decided to invite extra band members into what would typically be a one-man show. This formula works well in terms of creating attractive songs, but dilutes the attitude and power that I would associate with this harp blown’, foot stompin’ son-of-a-gun!

This album is a funky little number really, without any filler or glaringly bad points to it. A departure from the familiar, but an entirely different beast and perhaps a bit unfair to compare the two. It’s fun and frisky with tracks like ‘Titty Shake’ and album artwork to suggest that you are about to embark on an album released by some blues fixated private investigator who has had too many late nights and cold cups of coffee steakin’ out a joint.

This is exactly the type of album I would have had on repeat in the car, especially through those hot summer days. This might still be my 2014 summer soundtrack – but only time can tell!

My 2 highlights on the album
-‘They Let Too Many People In’ is probably the best track
-‘It’s good to see SoD experiment with a full band

My 2 lowlights on the album
– No real identifiable single(s) – (Ok maybe the track mentioned above!)
– The female vocal harmonies sometimes leave a bitter taste in my mouth.

Dizraeli And The Small Gods – Moving In The Dark

Image‘Moving In The Dark’ is a little bit tricky to get into at first and you have to listen to this album a few times to extract the gems from it – and there are some great ones in there.

Being more familiar with Dizraeli’s debut studio album, ‘Engurland (City Shanties)’ I was expecting something very similar before I heard ‘Moving In The Dark’, but it didn’t initially grab me in the same way or with the same strength as the material I had fallen in love with.

‘Moving In The Dark’ feels like it has much more influence from eastern music verging on dissonance (to my western ears!) and musical soundscapes. Eastern influence & musical soundscapes are not by any means negative things, but they are flavours I personally prefer when used in moderation – The phrase “Less is more” springs to mind.

The song writing isn’t as consistently strong as I was hoping it would be. Tracks like ‘There Was A Rapper’ and the incredible single ‘Never Mind’ seem to hark back to the sound that initially attracted me to Dizraeli, but tracks like ‘Sailor’ and ‘A Trick Of The Moon’ are slightly overworked filler that rely on their obscurity to give them their personality.

This being said, I continued through it a few times and I did begin to enjoy it – but it’s no real match to Dizraeli’s older material.

My 2 highlights on the album:
– The incredible track ‘Nevermind’ is a beacon of shining light that almost solely keeps me coming back to this album.
– The penultimate track ‘Little Things’ is a very heartfelt and honest song that gives you a fascinating silver-tongued insight into Dizraeli and his families lives.

My 2 lowlights on the album
– The overall tonality of this album keeps me from enjoying it as much as I want to. It spirals off into unfamiliar and uncomfortable areas all too often.
– ‘Pure And Simple’ – I don’t see the purpose of this track!