Album Reviews

One of the best albums of 2011 comes from a sextet from Newcastle; Lanterns On The Lake, even the name of the band conjures up a haunting feel. Fragile vocals and words, fused together with widescreen guitars and instrumentation. 

Following on from some lovely EPs, which came out earlier in the year with handmade covers and a wax seal (how do you actually open them, without spoiling the effect?) comes the debut album, ‘Gracious Tide, Take Me Home’.


This is one of those very rare albums that lifts the hairs on the back of your neck, and from the first listen sounds just perfect. The Last Town Chorus had a similar effect back in 2006, with the ’Wire Waltz’ album.


Hazel Wilde is Megan Hickey this time around and a Laura Marling-esque figure she is too. Adam Sykes shares vocals and between both of them they cast a magical spell along with Paul Gregory’s soaring guitar.


‘Lungs Quicken’ opens the album with an ambient feel before Hazel’s sublime vocals take effect. Adam takes lead vocals on ‘If I've Been Unkind’. After these ten minutes have passed free free to fall in love with this record on ‘Keep on Trying’.


Don’t think the whole album is celestial either. ‘A Kingdom’ is an up tempo song even though it is inspired by a book of letters sent home by WW2 soldiers. The album actually contains eleven wonderful songs for you to curl up with on a cold winter’s dark night, in the warmth of your favourite chair.


By rights, with this album and the constant touring the band seem to be undertaking, they should be enormous this time next year….well at least headlining the Shepherds Bush Empire!



It is not often you find someone so adapt in the movie world that they can switch and make such good music outside the regular day job. ‘A False Parade’ has a dark Warren Zevon esque approach and packs a varied pace.’ The Emperor’s Old Clothes’(ballad) and Atmosphere’ (rocker) are cases in point early on. 

The record’s focal points are Johnny’s gravelled vocals and scorching guitar solos. The said guitarist is Kevin Armstrong who, is a true Master of his trade then there is, Quillon Larratt on drums, Rob Lucas on bass, Andrew Spooner on keyboards and Christine Lockhart, Vashti Gleave and Laura Matthews on backing vocals.


With such heavyweight backing the songs struggle to remain sparse, which may have suited some of the arrangements more, however, take it as it comes and you have a winner on your hands, The record was written and recorded over the last two years in gaps between screenwriting and film-making which, must has given a wide ranging perspective to the song writing.


As a debut it is impressive and I think a ‘grower’. Another idea would be an acoustic / electric gig, covering the album in both styles and, a bonus disc of acoustic demos!






1. Shoot You Down

2. The Emperor's Old Clothes

3. Atmosphere 

4. A Roll Call   

5. Anthem (For Wasted Youth)

6. First Blood to the Young One

7. America Sleeps

8. Wrong Man (In the Wrong Place)

9. Vincent

10. The Virus   

11. Wrecking Ball



When you hear that an album has a ‘big sound’ you generally know what to expect. But Odonis Odonis have actually delivered a debut album with a gigantic sound.  The band from Toronto covers the spectrum of Garage, Psych, Goth and Post Rock all in one go.


Formed in 2009, Odonis Odonis started out as the solo vehicle for Dean Tzenos who recorded demos with Colin Stewart (Black Mountain). Then the band was formed and we now have the hot property debut album ‘Hollandaze’, which starts with a rasping guitar followed by a rockabilly twang accompaniment to a cacophony of sound.


That same guitar twang flows throughout. 'Busted Lip' (or busted ear drum if you play it too loud) is a glorious assault on the senses in a Black Angels/Wooden Shjips type of way. White Flag blows the garage (rock) doors off with added punk attitude. There is variation too. The slightly slower paced Horrors-esq 'Blood Feast' for example.

I was able to pick up this album in a hand crafted sleeve at Rough Trade Records in London recently. I had already heard some of the songs and came to the impression that the album would require some concentrated attention to fully appreciate it.


With the CD in my hand, I was not quite prepared for the spine tingling hit that this unique record gives to the senses with first comparisons in the Gillian Welch, Joanna Newsom, Joan Baez range.


Instrumentation is excellent and is recognisable from Jocie’s full time role in the Low Anthem. There is piano, double bass, oboe and that instrument that looks like a harp on its side that Jocie plays with a bow at Low Anthem shows.


The album grows to become an infectious listen with beautiful songs. The strings and oboe on Chastity are quite sublime. The variety of a Low Anthem record is there, the storytelling is there, the beautiful voice is there. Just immerse yourself.

I have now lived with this record for around a week and can say that Ryan Adams is back and on (Ashes and) Fire! Solo start and nice acoustic song ‘Dirty Rain’ is in Heartbreaker vein, but heck, really it’s just a classic Ryan ballad. Title song Ashes and Fire has a slight Dylanesqe feel. and the band kicks in from’ Do I Wait’ but overall this is a solo record and although the Cardinals may be sorely missed, Ryan has delivered yet another gem of an album.

It’s his first record released on his own PAX-AM label and Sony’s Columbia Records. The album was recorded in LA at Sunset Sound in Hollywood and produced by Glyn Johns who was a regular in the production chair during Ryan’s early albums, including the (still) magical Heartbreaker.

(Tom Petty) Heartbreakers, organist, Benmont Tench appears on Ashes and Fire alongside Norah Jones who sings backing vocals to great effect.

I don’t hold much faith if the recent press headlines around this record, ‘Ryan reborn’, ‘Best since Heartbreaker and Gold’, ‘Ryan rediscovers his muse’ etc. I really don’t think deep down that Ryan ever lost his muse. Yes he took a long break (who wouldn’t if they could from the day job), He filled his time and random projects and archive releases. He played the odd shows and also this summer, played an acoustic tour of Europe this year.

So it’s another Ryan record and yes it is on par with his other output of which, the majority is excellent. There are plenty of (eyes shut) magic moments on this record so perhaps, like people discovered Ryan at the time of Whiskeytown and then after that via, Heartbreaker and those early shows, a new generation will now latch on as the journey continues.





Dirty Rain

Ashes & Fire

Come Home


Do I Wait

Chains Of Love

Invisible Riverside

Save Me


Lucky Now

I Love You But I Don't Know What To Say


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