CD

William The Conqueror – William The Conqueror EP

 

a2152252501_10.jpgA lovely little 5 track EP from the artist formerly known as Ruarri Joseph. Although edging for a slightly different sound it still has strong overtones of the typical Ruarri sound.

The Bandcamp page describes the music as “raw guitars, roomy drums, honky pianos and scuffed bluesy vocals cutting through the bullshit with wit and wisdom.”

I hope this is the beginning of a more extensive body of recordings, as I would like to fully understand where things are heading for this incredibly talented artist.

This is a personal EP and I’m sure there are rich and colourful stories behind each and every one of these carefully thought out tunes. All 5 tracks are very distinct and each in a different style; Tend To The Thorns is an indie rock number, Sinful Gladly is a bluesy number with epic slide guitar & harmonica moments and Señora is lilting gypsy ska tune – Yet it all fits together and makes sense as a coherent package. It’s testament to William as a skilled songwriter.

A native to Cornwall, I get the impression William is a bit of a hermit who only leaves his shell to ply his trade, but you know he will be soon be itching to get back in his shell where the fire is warm and the faces familiar.

‘Señora’ and ‘Just How High’ are the stand out tracks for me.

Oh, did I mention that the EP comes not only on CD but in a beautiful 10″ vinyl!!!

Listen here:

 

BJ Barham -Rockingham

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There is something so honest about this music that should speak to every person’s inner being. I have no doubt if you went to a BJ Barham show it would sound near enough exactly like the record – Honest, well written and well executed.

BJ’s debut solo album ‘Rockingham’ is a gritty Americana album from someone I don’t know a whole lot about… yet. Released in the UK on Brighton’s At The Helm Records (Also home to Hans Chew & Daniel Meade – Check them both out).

It’s the sort of album I can imagine preceding a supervision of a film soundtrack or television soundtrack – Bear McCreary style.

Fuck it, just go and buy the album, put some headphones on, lie down and listen. You’ll find yourself thinking about your first love, future love, happiness and despair.

As BJ says himself, “the most valuable thing you can give someone’s your time” – And this is well worth the 32 minutes. You won’t regret it (if you do, you’re wrong).

(I wrote this whilst drinking beer and watching Bridget Jones… things got passionate)

BJ Barham
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BJBarhamNC
Website: http://www.bjbarham.com

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………!!!

Son Of Dave – Blues At The Grand

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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!

Queens Of The Stone Age – “…Like Clockwork”

...Like ClockworkSeeing as this is my first post I want to be clear on things… this isn’t to set the tone for taste of things to come. 

Although I have always been aware of Queens Of The Stone Age, I hadn’t ever paid much attention to them. Nothing they had ever put out really grabbed my attention. There were a few songs that I was familiar with but nothing to win me over… then this album came out.

There is something about this album that I can’t quite put my finger on, something a bit mysterious in the sound of it (And I f**king love that!). It’s not ‘rock’n’roll’ as I have previously known it.

What I CAN put my finger on though is that it’s a mixture of well produced, well written rock songs with curve balls thrown in to stem any feelings of repetitiveness that so many artists can verge on now days. Each song has its own identity and I feel excited as soon as I hear the intro of each new track with the volume edging up ever so slightly each time…

The mixture of some electronic instruments in the mix works really well and the guitar (bass included) playing is phenomenal! The drums sound exactly like all rock drums should sound and I can’t fault the vocals one bit.

This isn’t going be news to anyone who has heard the album and it isn’t a particularly original beginning to a blog that will cover some more obscure releases in the near future – but I had to come out and say it to someone – I like (love) Queens Of The Stone Age (their new album at least… time for me to dig out some of their old stuff now).

My 2 highlights on the album:
If I Had A Tail – (track 4)
Smooth Sailing – (track 8)

My 2 lowlights on the album:
I listen to it so often I am worried I will get sick of it.
I now have to face that I might have been wrong about a band for a few years.