Album Reviews

This band had a lot of mystique and intrigue about them after the release of their debut album ‘Survival’ in 2009, which included Sharon van Etten on guest vocals. The sound was mature beyond the band’s years and carried a really thrilling air about it (much like Wild Nothing recently). The sophomore album from Forest Fire, ‘Staring At The X’ does therefore have something to live up to.

 

No worries on that score however, as the album should spread like a…err…forest fire. It’s a big, big sound from these young merchants of sophisticated and measured noise.

 

The guitar is magnificent throughout with flashes of the riffs of Television’s Richard Lloyd and Pink Floyd’s Dave Gilmour.

 

Eight songs and that 'big sound' surrounds you from the off, on 'Born Into'. The song for all its emotion and musical complexities finishes abruptly after three minutes when really it could go on for another three.

 

‘Future Shadows’ with those aforementioned guitar riffs and forward looking electronics changes the pace. Same thing with 'The News' - Roxy Music sax, nice guitar riffs and punctuation, yet just as the guitar gets magnificently intense the song finishes, after just two and a half minutes. Frustration is growing but let’s hope the live shows bring some extended solos.

 

Don’t be discouraged by just eight songs, there is a great deal of technical musical accomplishment in the music on the record, the climax of which is the seven minutes (!) plus, ‘Visions in Plastic’ which ends the record on a mighty fine note.

On 10th October, Sallie Ford and the Sound Outside will be releasing their debut album, Dirty Radio via Fargo which is a raw, sweet, crisp, clear gem of rockabilly and blues.

Sallie Ford comes into the Imelda May league, very distinctive and powerful with a voice to fill a room without doubt. Hailing from Asheville, North Carolina, and now based in Portland, where the band earned major fans in The Decemberists and The Avett Brothers”, you really get a live feel from the album all the way through.

 

Slow dark beginning on ‘I Swear’ much like a dark scene in a western movie then, like a rattle snake coming into view, Sallie’s vocals pierce the air and grab your full attention immediately. 

SuperHeavy; A new group with a guy who knows his reggae, a lady with a fabulous voice and vocal range and a man who should really be fronting a rock n’ roll band with, his raw intensity, as he spits out the lyrics. Actually not so new, after all, the Super group that is SuperHeavy is Mick Jagger, Joss Stone, A. R. Rahman, Dave Stewart and Damian Marley but for a moment, disregard the heavyweight members and give the music a listen.

 

A record packed to the brim with music, nothing wasted or lacking in the production, musicianship or presentation. There is a budget here but, with that budget comes pressure. These guys could has just as easily tripped themselves up and produced a lemon, but this record has all come together.

 

First bands that spring to mind when listening to Widowspeak are Camera Obsura,The Bookhouse Boys and Wye Oak. 

For opener ‘Puritan’ the guitar whips around Molly’s dreamy vocals. Reverb guitar with that ethereal voice, on ‘Harsh Realm’ and you just can't go wrong and the album is set on it’s path. 

‘Nightcallers’ sparks the image of a flowing red dress, the maiden hanging onto the mic for all she is worth as the guitars loop and swoop around her. 

For her third album of intricate pop songs, Annie Clark recruited John Congleton as producer, Beck keyboardist Brian LeBarton, and Midlake drummer Smith to record in her hometown of Dallas, Texas. The result is a very classy album, in fact the finest solo record yet that St. Vincent has delivered.

The record is quite spellbinding and never drops its interest for the listener throughout its entire length. With numerous twists and turns both lyrically and musically, the album has a freshness with every play. It is an album that will leave people out there who download just a few random tracks in a quandary because the style changes so much throughout the album. If you are one of those guys, sorry but you will need to download the whole record!

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