Album Reviews

This has album has been a regular visitor to my headphones for the past couple of months, so it must be time to award it a review. Starting with the gently parping horns of 'Dark Horse' you are immediately drawn into the world of Other Lives - slightly mysterious, slightly ethereal, but a world that's as warm and inviting as a womb. 'As I Lay My Head Down' has a slightly Eastern European feel to its rhythms and backing, and then the brilliant 'For 12'  swoops in on a cloud of swirling strings with an  almost spaghetti western feel to the guitars. 

The title track is next, with some bar-room piano beginning the song, which continues with a melancholy air, and then 'Dust Bowl III' starts with a simple acoustic guitar before turning into something much grander, with rhythmic drums and a swell of instruments. 'Weather' is an unusual track, feeling unstructured and loose but with vocals and instruments harmonising, it rises and drops through the song, winding its way through your head.  

'The Future' is the new album from duo Brad and Jessica Lauretti from Brooklyn, New York. Sounding much more like lovers than brother and sister, their second album is warm and touching with just the right amount of pathos. Recorded in an old school house in Wassaic (upstate NY) with engineer Justin Pizzoferrato, there's an intimacy and empathy in the music and lyrics that draws the listener in. If the occasional track veers a little to closely to the country border (I'm looking at you 'Key West') there's enough rough edges on some of the other tracks like 'Space Baby' and 'Just Because' to ensure that your attention remains. The melancholy vibe is at times reminiscent of some of Richmond Fontaine's quieter moments, and there's a nice emotional edge to Brad's voice. 

In some ways this is almost an American alt country version of the Big Deal album 'Lights Out' that came out in the UK a couple of months ago - it's got the same deceptively simple air that draws the listener in, and there's plenty of musical variation to be found behind the simple acoustic facade. And while ultimately it might not be quite as satisfying as the Big Deal record it's still got enough talent and charm to make it worth recommending. The band played the End of the Road festival last month, so if you were lucky enough to see them there then well done, the rest of us will just have to hope they return to these shores soon. 

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.


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