Album Reviews

Well I don’t know much about Lyle Christine, he comes from Glasgow (good start). ‘Duff Steer’ seems to be his eighth album and he is a great guitarist.

‘Duff Steer’ out on 20th March and is a straight between the eyes grunge rocker. I would imagine a power trio swamped in the influences of Rory Gallagher, Nivana and a touch of Thin Lizzy. Just under forty minutes, there is no lapse in the power throughout. The guitar riffs and solos are sonic heaven!

Lyle’s own press sheet claim’s “this is his strongest album to date despite the fact there are two sh*t songs on it". On listening I can’t find those particular two songs, for an aging rocker like myself it’s just best to stick this album on and turn up the the volume!

Pete

7/11

 

We also had a quick chat with Lyle to fill in the gaps;

Hi Lyle, how’s Glasgow treating you today?

It’s a bit drizzly, it’s a bit dreary, but we’re all still out in the streets, holding hands and wishing for a brighter tomorrow.

The BBC 6 music festival is coming to town shortly, does that help local musicians in anyway?

I think so, it should be good for venues, good for bands – I like 6 Music, Shaun Keaveny wakes me up each morning (my radio alarm clock, not him in person), so I’d be more attracted to a festival supported by that station, certainly more than a tour supported by the likes of Radio 1. Being a Southsider in Glasgow, it’s nice to see venues such as Glad Café and Rum Shack included in the festivities.

New Album ‘Duff Steer’, who is in the band and where/when was the album recorded?

The band is.... only me, all on my lonesome. I’ve been a solo recording musician for almost 10 years now, although it’s entirely possible I’ll get back with a full group at some point in the future. Duff Steer was recorded over 2016/2017, backing tracks laid down in my home studio, vocals recorded at Dixon Street studios in Glasgow.

This looks to be your eighth album and your first was 2007? Has your sound changed over the years and how do you feel you have grown as a musician in that time?

So, my first solo record in 2007 was Why Doesn’t My Album Sounds As Loud As Everyone Else’s?, and back then I wanted to try out a fairly heavy-digital sound, with layered drum machines, distorted synths, and guitars overdriven with digital clipping. But really, that was more a one-off experiment – at heart, I’m a guy who likes good guitar sounds, good guitar songs – for example, I really like the style and production of Kurt Vile’s album B'lieve I'm Goin Down... (2015), the opening track Pretty Pimpin sounds amazing. The thing is, when you’re a recording musician who is also your own engineer/producer, it’s really tempting to throw on synths, or techno drum beats, or 5 track guitar solos. And I like that freedom to experiment, but it costs time and doesn’t always work. The one consistent thing about my albums is, each record usually has a couple of songs that don’t work, but I leave them on – good, bad or indifferent, publish and be damned. Then move on to the next one.

Any live dates planned to promote the new record?

Only press promotion for the new record at the moment, mainly to satisfy my ego without having to go outside.

Is music full time for you or is there a day job as well?

Well, let’s put it this way – my income from Spotify royalties for December 2016 was 5p. That’s right, five pence. Read it and weep, wage slaves.

What was the first album you bought and where from?

It was To the Extreme by Vanilla Ice, 1990. I was 10 years old. My sister also took me to see Vanilla Ice that year in Edinburgh. After the show, she looked ill and said “I have never seen so many pelvic thrusts in my whole life”. My next purchase, one year later, was Nevermind along with ACDC’s For Those About To Rock. You can hear all three of those influences in everything I’ve ever done.

One piece of advice for new guitarists just starting out today?

Trade in those guitars for shovels.

 

Duff Steer will be available here:

Spotify 

iTunes 

Bandcamp 

 

 

Writing a review of a bands’ debut album can go two ways - the first is that there has been loads of hype and press and you can’t help to be influenced by what you read and hear, and secondly, and in this case, you know nothing about the band and personnel and start with a clean slate.

Even their own website gives little away regarding the band - who are they ? Where are they from ? And more importantly, what does the album sound like ?

The seven track (mini) album clocks in at only thirty nine minutes, and according to the press release, takes it’s influences from just about everywhere - college rock, brit pop and shoegaze, and builds on them to create something new. Produced by James Bragg, who has also worked with Gengahr, it’s true that there are influences all over this album, whilst also sounding fresh and original at the same time.

Closing track, the nearly eight minute 'Where Wild Flowers Grow Fondly', is an almost prog rock opus to new beginnings, featuring a Supper’s Ready style , hypnotic couple of minute drum section, while synth bleeps and squiggles ebb and flow over it. Stunning. It’s the drumming on this album that actually stands out for me, and none more so that on I Take The River, very reminiscent of the National on About Today, driving the song in just the right direction.

The really rather lovely 'Ohio' appears to have been the spark around which the album was written and started life as an acoustic demo. The version that made the album however is a very different beast - a sweeping, widescreen epic of a song, again underpinned with emphatic drums, my only disappointment being that it finishes far too abruptly.

The seven minute 'Show Me Magic' starts in a very relaxed manner, and could have come off any of Mark Knopfler’s recent solo albums, before those drums again propel the song along to a very different beat.

This is an enigmatic album which reveals more on each listen, and even after double figure listens, I still haven’t got a proper grip of it, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Yes, there are influences everywhere, and virtually every one of the seven tracks reminds me of other bands, but the whole adds up to more of the sum of it’s parts. I really like this album and I really like this band. It’s left me hungry to hear more from them, and find out more about them, especially that drummer.

8/11

Keith

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The Hold Steady front man releases 3rd solo effort We All Want The Same Things on Partisan Records, following on from 2015’s Faith In the Future. Named after a line from the song God In Chicago, the title refers to the basic human needs that remain constant however turbulent or changeable the world gets. Never more so than the current climate.

Finn is a very literary songwriter, very much in the same mould as Willy Vlautin, and this his 3rd solo album, has done that rare thing; combining compelling storytelling with strong melodic tunes - are you listening Mark Kozelek.....?

These are stories about everyday folk, doing everyday things and just living their lives - nothing extraordinary or indeed ordinary about them, but Finn has the ability to make everything sound fascinating.

The aforementioned, beautiful, God In Chicago is Finn talking over plaintive piano before being joined on vocals by a female voice as the 2 of them are on a road trip to Chicago.

The poppy Preludes acts as first single from the song collection, and is the most autobiographical detailing his return from college and trying to figure out his own place in the world and his future - very much fitting in with the rest of the character studies on the album.

Best song title on the album must go to Birds Trapped in the Airport, and is a jaunty little number and again Finn is joined on vocals by the female voice.

It Hits When It Hits, is a contemplative, brooding track with the title referring to the fact that you can’t ever plan for love...

Finn has created an expansive world view, and a vision of the States that draws you into the minutae of everyday life, with even the final words on the last song imploring us to take care of ourselves. Every song is a wordy story, each of which could be expanded into a novel, but most importantly, the songs can be listened to without having to hang on every word, as the melodies are strong enough to stand up on their own.

The world is a better place with songwriters like Craig Finn, and this might just be his best album yet.

9/11

Keith

Website

A sweet third album from The Little Kicks. A dreamy indie soundtrack as we start to come out of winter and think of the summer sun

Ten tracks that flow nicely, the opening ‘Theme’ is wide screen reverb guitars. ‘Sing About Something Real’ that follows, has punchy indie guitar and keyboard and flows beautifully,

‘Don’t Get Mad, Get Even’ goes into Keane/Coldplay territory, a sweet song and just like ‘Let’s Get Lost Together’ festival fields this summer could do worse than ring out to this band. At the moment their website does not show any dates outside of Scotland .... So festival promoters, look up these guys!

The band hail from Aberdeen but wrote the songs for this album in a lodge by Loch Ness then recorded in Edinburgh and then mastered at Abbey Road.

Lead singer Steven Milne said “This new album is a collection of songs that means a lot to me and I feel it reflects a massive increase in both my own and the band’s confidence and abilities. There have been ups and downs personally since we last released music but I’m happy to say that on the whole we have grown to be more proud of what we do and to be less reticent to shout about it and our music. The themes of the record would be a feeling of happiness, gratitude and to be thankful with what you have and not take things for granted”.

The record is a joy, it is a pure, no worries, indie joy to be precise. A roof down on the car type of record.

Pete

8/11

Website

There are some bands that can just maintain a high level of quality output, lyrically and musicianship wise even with, lengthly gaps between albums. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah are one of these bands with vocalist, multi-instrumentalist and songwriter Alec Ounsworth as the lynchpin of the band, they have released their fifth album, 'The Tourist'.

Alec was apparently doing a lot of soul-searching as the songs came together for the album. “The album was a type of purge,” he says. “A purge of certain emotional confusion that manifested itself in the last several years. It was not an easy album to make, by virtue of the fact that it was an emotional time for me.”

It’s an album that sinks into you consciousness quickly, like a Steely Dan album, you know it is going to be a superb and quality listen all the way through.

Alec spent about a week recording The Tourist at Dr. Dog’s Philadelphia studio with a drummer and bassist. After that, he and engineer Nick Krill spent a few months “tidying things up” and recording additional material, backup vocals, keyboards, guitars and more percussion.

‘The Pilot’ opens the record, with a dreamy rhythm and sharp vocals. ‘A Chance to Cure’ follows within a hair’s width of the finish of the opener and, you find yourself surrendered to the rhythm of this album at the end of just the second song.

Alec prides himself on honesty across all aspects of the band, from live performances to the studio. “I am a relatively solitary person and seem to work best alone,” he says. “I do count on others to help the project as the process of making and releasing an album moves forward, but if it doesn’t match what I have in mind, it’s hard for me to really be there for it. I guess this is one reason why the project has been independent all this time. Trust me, I understand that thinking this way is both an asset and a liability.”

Live the band play lengthy shows and the addition of songs from the Tourist will make the upcoming live gigs something not to be missed. The songs are well paced, ‘Down (is where I want to be) picks out a funky pace, ‘Unfolding Above Celibate Moon’ is a song about life in LA. It's a record full of variations.

Ten songs, great musicianship and Alec’s trembling voice adds another fine album to the CYHSY collection.

Pete
9/11

Tracklisting:
1. The Pilot
2. A Chance To Cure
3. Down (is Where I Want To Be) 
4. Unfolding Above Celibate Moon (Los Angeles Nursery Rhyme)
5. Better Off
6. Fireproof 
7. The Vanity Of Trying
8. Loose Ends
9. Ambulance Chaser
10. Visiting Hours

Website

 

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