Album Reviews

The Jayhawks return to the shelves on the 5th September, via Rounder Records with ‘Mockingbird Time’. The first Jayhawks record since 1995 to feature Gary Louris and Mark Olson. The harmonies between Gary and Mark remain limitless and the band (Class of ’95) with Karen Grotberg, Tim O’Reagen and Marc Perlman means that the musicianship is first class throughout the record. 

The touchstones for the Jayhawks will always be Hollywood Town Hall and Tomorrow the Green Grass and on Mockingbird time they come close but, at the end of the day, they have the Jayhawks sound and that is what remains on the new songs. No radical departures from the past with the exception of some psych like guitar that appears here and there. 

A shoe gazing delight from this Austin trio. Whilst the entire album is filled with big reverb filled guitars, the overall effect is very subtle and measured. Modern day bands of the genre like Wooden Shjips, The Horrors along with the perennial influencing Jesus and Mary Chain even The Doors spring to mind when listening to this fine record. 

The album was apparently recorded live without overdubs. At the front are Nate Grace’s addictive atmospheric vocals. In interviews he describes his influences as, Townes Van Zandt, Leonard Cohen, Lou Reed & JAMC. 

Heavy Air, kicks off the album with a touch of surf guitar, playing Explosions in the Sky as Nate’s ethereal vocals rise above. ‘Dream Over’ next and we get into shoe gazing territory although the song fades too soon. 

The album powers along with great guitar, through the mists of a sonic film of sound. There are no dips during the slow burn of this album which twists and turns keep your attention alive. 

By the time instrumental ’Surface’ comes along the album is in its stride and sinks into your consciousness. There is also bendy surf guitar on the interlude ‘Pleasure’ to the last song ‘Half Here’ which rounds off a fine album to be played at volume! 

8/10

Pete

 


Heavy Air

Dream Over

Twisted Mirror

Easy  

Voices

Surface

Stuck Livin

Dry Ice

Pleasure

Half Here


UK dates are expected in November. the red streaked vinyl version and CD are out now on the Acéphale.label.

North Sea Radio Orchestra’s ‘I a Moon’ could best be described as, an indie orchestral choral album. It really has significant charm and is reminiscent of Joanna Newsome, Juliana Barwick and The Leisure Society in style of music. 

North Sea Radio Orchestra is actually an ever expanding or reducing ensemble led by Craig and Sharron Fortnam. Two previous albums which used poetry by the likes of Chaucer, Hardy and Tennyson came before ‘I a Moon’ but, this time around, it’s original lyrics with delightfully sweet musical interludes throughout.

 

‘Morpheus Miracle Worker’ the album opener, is a lush string accompanied song with added ethereal layered, (Bjork esqe) vocals from Sharon.

 

The tile track next up has simple instrumentation, which compliments the vocals superbly. A ‘Prog’ style Mellotron (?) is much in evidence.

 

The album has many musical interludes Guitar Miniature #3 does ‘what it says on the tin’.

Heavy Weather is a seven minute duet with heart rending strings and there are again (unintentional?) prog influences that spring to mind, Yes, Gabriel era Genesis and Caravan perhaps.

 

The Earth Beneath Our Feet’ has a PJ Harvey feel and again with strings to melt your heart. The album concludes by alternating between vocal and instrumental tracks.

 

It is a lovely album and would drift pleasantly into the ears of many people

 

8/10

Pete 

A beautiful album with gentle melodies, ethereal electronics and harmonies. Hushed rasping vocals, acoustic, crystal clear and distorted guitars, brass, piano oh, and church bells. 

The band’s website shows that Epic45 are a home recording project/collective based around the ideas and inspiration of Ben Holton and Rob Glover.” Well if music of this quality is the product of a home recordings then, think what they can do in a fully functioning studio!

 

Lo-fi and shoegazing are I suppose the genres to give you a starting point but, the album expands many musical boundaries at will. The band has been around since the late nineties. The first album proper ‘Reckless Engineers’ was released in 2002 on Canadian label Where Are My Records and regular releases through shifting band members have been released since.

 

Described as Seattle's ‘Best Kept Secret’, there is nothing new about My Goodness, but, then why the heck does the music sound so alive and refreshing? You can recall the White Stripes, or anything Jack White that is, The Black Keys, Blood Red Shoes and the list goes on when listening to the ‘My Goodness’ record.

This is powerful and invigorating blues based rock with the Seattle grunge element chucked in. Seventies influences can be heard alongside the thundering bass lines throughout the album which actually, seem to blow a hole through the airwaves with the crashing drums keeping the songs somehow on course, in a blues rock way.

On the rather wonderful hometown label Sarathan Records, My Goodness is made up of guitarist Joel Schneider and Drummer Ethan Jacobsen. I am generally of the opinion that trios are louder than a four piece perhaps, that now needs to be reduced to a duo!