Album Reviews

A wholesome album if there ever was one. Think of all those great double vinyl albums that there has been and then add this one too it. A 2017 double vinyl album of quality songs and musicianship, ‘Brilliant Light’ is right up there with the best!

This is a record straight from the heart of this seven-piece band. Eighteen songs, rockers, and so sweet ballads, soul and a touch of boogie woogie. Gentle pedal steel to Southern rock guitar workouts, it’s all there. Danny George Wilson’s voice is at it's majestic gravel best, drums, bass, keys it’s a room filling sound that is nothing short of glorious.

Danny and the Champions of the World came out of an equally fine band Grand Drive in 2008 and have released four previous albums plus a live album in 2014, ‘Live Champs’ (A record that still demands a vinyl release!) So, this is studio album number five and yet again, the band deliver a very fine record.

‘Waiting for the Right Time’ kicks off the record up-tempo, feet tapping in anticipation of what’s to come. ‘Bring Me To My Knees, brings out a country rock feel that is a joy to behold, written by Danny with James Yorkston as is, 'The Circus Made The Town' on side four.

‘It Hits Me’ brings some soul whilst side one concludes with two sweet ballads. Side two kicks off with ‘Consider Me’ a song with the band at full throttle. There are plenty of surprises and fulfilling music to come on the record, which I will let you discover for yourselves. Take a look at the Pledge Music page for what is available around this release plus label Loose Music.

The band are out on the road for a full UK tour in September. This really will be a night to remember with, a band that just get better with each record. In the meantime, grab a beer, find some spare time, put your feet up and have a listen to ‘Brilliant Light’, you will not be disappointed!


Band Website

Tour Dates

There's usually a story behind why somebody falls in love with an album, here's another one.

In 2004 I found the first Flotation Toy Warning album on a listening post in the long-gone Reveal Records in Derby. I can't remember whether it was the name of the band or the painting of seabirds on the cover which drew my in but a quick listen in-store and another CD was added to the collection. The beautifully crafted, slow-moving, happy-sad songs with Paul Carter's fragile,cracked vocals created a unique sound which started a long term musical love affair. The problem was that the creators vanished, so we waited for the next album, and waited, then entered a new decade without hearing anything else from them. In 2011, a new E.P appeared 'When The Boat Comes Inside Your House / A Season Underground' both of which appear on 'The Machine That Made Us', then nothing more. But wait, late 2016 there's Facebook evidence of the band recording something, 5th March 2017 they declare the album finished, a track list appears, and on 16th June 2017 thirteen years after the first album a second arrives.

Within the first thirty seconds of track one 'Controlling The Sea' we're back where we left off in 2004, with the beautifully-paced, multi-layered tracks which build and grow accompanying Paul's distinctive vocals. Those new to Flotation Toy Warning may hear elements of early Arcade Fire , Radiohead, Sparklehorse, Mercury Rev, Grandaddy which combine to make a unique musical compound. There's the addition of a Calexico-style brass section (special mention goes to trumpet player Alistair White, my homonym but no relation) on 'Due to Adverse Weather Conditions All of My Heroes Have Surrendered' and a beautiful extended fade out of “Warm and warm and warm my heart. For I am not the same man now.”

I can't decide whether the subject of 'Everything That is Difficult Will Come to an End' has upset the songwriters “I don't have much time, none of us really do. So I'll be fucked if I'll be spending it with you ”, starts the track as simple duet between voice and piano, or there's something a lot darker here “ It justifies the harm we do wrapped up in pretty songs for you ... I'm sorry that I woke you up. But you're trussed up here like Lilliput ... I kept you how I saw you last. And you're smiling in that photograph” as the guitars build to the closest we get to a solo. Either way it's an extraordinary piece of music.

'King of Foxgloves' is the up-tempo track on the album (these terms are being relative, of course), a trippy rhythm track which accompanies the slightly creepy chorus “ Hold me, fold me. Tell me all you want to do.... Twist me, roll me. You know my love is made for you .”

There's an change of feel for the bleak first half of 'I Quite Like It When He Sings', single notes being picked out on the piano, weird vocal samples and multi-tracked vocals duet with Paul's speak singing, the mood become grander for the second half, it's misery but on a grand scale and just stunning.

Somehow, the bar is raised again for the final track 'The Moongoose Analogue', which uses a looped, multi-tracked vocal sample as part of the rhythm track during the first three verses, the loop breaks down for the whispered and stark section “ There will be no 'Forever'. There will be no 'til the end of time'. Not much, but, that much is clear to me.”, the looped vocals kick back again and this repeats as the track grows and build across it's vast 12 minutes. Perhaps the final words on the album are a reference to the gap between the two albums “ Friends may come and friends may go. But I know you'll be back for more (I was always on your side).”

So we have an album of carefully-constructed, beautifully-paced songs which benefit from the repeated listens which are required to reveal their multiple layers. There are a couple of questions which now require answering.

Could 'The Machine That Made Us' match the first album? Would the thirteen year wait build anticipation up only to lead to crushing disappointment? Well I'm overjoyed to say that in the four days since the album arrived I've listening to nothing else and this is the most beautiful album I've heard so far this year.


Alisdair Whyte (not the trumpet player)



Released in May via Ramber Records, Just Everywhere are Paul Baird contributing all songs, vocals, instruments, production & artwork with additional vocals, on 'Everything Else Went out of Her Head', 'Doors That Were Never Meant to Be Opened' and ' Neverthere', by Emma Inge

Paul hails from Manchester and it is a bleak, grizzly tour de force song 'This is what we do with Horses' that kicks of this debut album, (recorded on a rainy day perhaps?). Just over thirty minutes long, with sixteen songs, there is no time to wander, The atmosphere changes all the time, on the second track 'Laughing Dream' we are in a sonic landscaped space.

Paul is part of Manchester band  'I See Angels', and he started releasing solo  material as EPs last year, so this album was a natural progression. It has a general dream like state and is a grower. The longest song on the album is 'Slow Parade' at just over three minutes which means, every other song, you would really like to last that bit longer. 'Along a Corridor That Was Too Thin' builds really nicely but at under two minutes it's over far too quickly.

As I said earlier though, there is no time to get bored, if you find yourself dreaming on say 'It Looks Like up to Me' this is followed by, 'Kick out the Jams' sonic guitar on 'If You Do This, You Will Be Dead to Me'.

This is an album could be playing on a digital loop for some time!




Ramber Records

Always a nice surprise when you see an interesting new band playing in your local. Raggedy Rawney they are called. The brainchild of Dan Ecclestone, who writes all the songs and plays most of the instruments on first album 'It Was All Fields Around Here'. The music is reminiscent of Baby Bird, or The The,or Sufjan Stevens; Talking Heads also come to mind, though that may be in part because the album has some Songs about Buildings.

It is a loose concept album looking at changes in places and people. The catchy opener 'Off We Go' is about driving around suburbs once known, then it gets into more personal territory with 'Replacements', being about both urban renewal and the singers own father. 'Buildings and Houses' is about lost childhood playgrounds, and much more besides. The themes may be poignant but the songs are bouncy and buoyant, deceptively simple but with complex instrumentation, and full of memorable tunes. Dan has a charisma that shines through both live and on record. Highly recommended.

Kevin Hand




Interview Dan Ecclestone of Raggedy Rawney

So Dan, this seems to be a very personal record. Is it?

Absolutely....It’s all my memories of a building site at the end of the road in South London where i grew up; they’d built the foundations for a house but then downed tools and for years we used it as trenches to play soldiers and chase around in. Then when they returned to build on the site we hatched plans to stage a protest, a sit-in, as it were. Course that didn’t really work! The album starts, many years later, with me driving back to this street to show some friends where i grew up and finishes with a fairly downbeat conclusion that all those plans we had as kids, of building empires and seizing control, were somehow doomed to fail.

So how is it playing such personal songs live for an audience?

The only one that sometimes feels a bit naked is the title track, which ends with me singing a pretty downbeat line unaccompanied... that one has been seen to ruin the vibe if the audience are up on their feet! We dont tend to play 'Indignity' for the same reason....

And you play virtually all the instruments on the album yourself?

Yep, but that sounds more impressive that it really is! It's a load of vintage keyboards like Mellotrons and Vox Continentals that I love from early 70s progressive records. I pieced it all together fairly slowly over about 4 months, multitracking. We're going to start recording the follow up in September and that'll feature the whole band playing live in the studio.

Any live dates coming up?

Fri 23/6 at Hot Numbers, Gwydir St Cambridge (Album Launch)

16 July The Flying Pig , Cambridge

19 Aug Knackfest, Downham Market

23 Sept Relevant Records Cafe, Cambridge

Loom have just released their self-titled debut album and it’s a grunge rock, roll-a-coaster. Based in Leamington Spa and off the back of tours across the UK and Germany with artists including Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes, Queen Kwong, and Turbowolf along with, a number of headline shows, this band is ready to step into the limelight.

The band recorded half of their debut album themselves and the other half with John Coxon at Ray Davies’ Konk studios and the result will have you jumping around your chosen dwelling for some time to come or, at least the next 30 minutes.

There is an aggression in the songs but, the band never loose the sense of melody so you hear gritty, balanced rock n’ roll throughout.
The debut album is the biggest statement a band makes and Loom have spent the best part of four years preparing theirs; Tarik Badwan, Matt Marsh and Joshua Fitzgerald have a bright future ahead!

The album has ten songs and lasts 31 minutes. Opener ‘Lice’ drips Nirvana and sounds like the anthem for the band to open a live set with. ‘Hate’ menacingly follows, then comes a Foo's like 'Get a Taste'.

There is an aggression in the songs but, the band never loose the sense of melody or variety so, you hear gritty, balanced rock n’ roll even when ’Seasick’ gets into Industrial Metal mode.

Lets hope we don’t have to wait 4 years for the next 31 minutes! Have a listen here.