Album Reviews

The thing about a single or EP from a new band is that, after hearing it, you should be left wanting to hear more and that is precisely what Manchester band The Cupids have achieved on their single ‘Kickin’ in’ and the two other tracks thereon.

The band; vocals & guitar, Sid Cooper and Jake Fletcher, drums, James Cardus and bass, Ryan Cormac have released 3 solid, sharp and after a couple of listens very catchy songs.

Cupids are a new band having only formed in September 2015. A slot on last Autumn’s Blossoms tour honed the band and got them some attention. They have an ever-growing fan base and even Donovan recently offered them one of his unrecorded songs.

‘Kicking’ In’ is a catchy song with a Squeeze / Artic Monkeys like vibe. Second track, ‘Adult Terrors’ is the class of the three songs, a widescreen toe tapper with sharp guitar riffs. Final song of the set is ‘Confession Box’ which takes the pace down and shows the band’s adaptability to different styles.

Following a string of dates around an appearance at The Great Escape, tTe band will be playing some festivals later in the year including Isle of Wight (June), Kendall Calling (July) and Neighbourhood Manchester (October). Let’s hope there is an album to follow soon

Pete

Website

New Single ‘Kickin’ In' has a digital release on 3rd June 2016

Mention the statement Folk Opera and I expect you do 1 of 2 things ; run for the hills, or warmly recall Anais Mitchell’s Hadestown and hope and pray that The Butcher is half as good as that release. Well, you’re in luck...

The Butcher is a 20 song double album’s worth of storytelling which may have been called a concept album once upon a time. It’s an epic ghost story, with a folklore style message of The Butcher who is often knuckle deep in blood, but has seen no evidence of a soul. I guess the one downside of reviewing a digital release is lack of access to the lyrics which would surely enhance this listening experience.

Mosley has a golden beautiful voice up there with all his folk contemporaries, especially Nick Drake, and he has a cast of (almost) thousands helping him out of the record :Jamie Lawson, Esther Dee, Moses (Mosley’s old band), Carolyn Mark (Canadian Juno award winner), Josienne Clarke (BBC Folk Awards 2015 winner, just signed to Rough Trade) and musicians from Florence & The Machine, Feist, Benjamin Clementine and Patrick Wolf's bands.

In these days of Spotify and playlists, this is an album that totally bucks the trend and demands to be listened to from start to finish, and even seen as a live stage play or performance. As such, I will avoid mentioning specific tracks as the overall result is more than just a sum of its parts.

This is epic, daunting, dark, mysterious, nostalgic, contemporary, light, dark and most importantly wonderful. How refreshing to have releases like this in today’s climate of quick fixes and instant gratification. Take some time to listen and absorb this record and you will be richly rewarded.

9/11

Keith @kjsmith4082

Website

Folkwit Records

Hands up who can remember back to 2004? and even more points if you remember the gorgeous debut by Marjorie Fair called Self Help Serenade? If I remember correctly, this featured in my top 10 of that year, and such was my love of the album, I couldn’t wait for the follow up...

Well, its been a long 12 years wait, but finally I Am My Own Rainbow drops digitally via Psychic Bully Records, and the burning question is, has time been kind to Marjorie Fair...?

Marjorie Fair is the New Jersey native multi talented and multi instrumental Evan Slamka, aided on this release by several friends and associates and produced by Joey Waronker who has worked with Beck, REM and ahem, Atoms For Peace. Following the debut, and extensive touring and promotion, the band were suddenly dropped by Capitol despite nearing completion of the follow up and subsequently Slamka put his energies into differing projects with little success.

The enigmatically titled I Am My Own Rainbow sounds unmistakably like Marjorie Fair, which seems most comfortably described as chamber folk pop - think maybe somewhere between Midlake and Blitzen Trapper.

The lovely atmospheric Brothers and Sisters kicks off the record in a typically dreamy manner, with lazy lyrics and gorgeous instrumentation - perhaps Slamka’s residence in LA has an influence on these sun drenched tracks.

Avalanche, half way through the album is an acoustic gem the likes of which Bright Eyes used to write. The theme is one of lost love and heartbreak “and now, the love you had for me is dead”...

Next up Save Time picks us up off the floor with its twinkling layers and subdued lyrics, and almost lulls the listener into a blissful haze of being.

Closing track Songbird is again a simple, gorgeous acoustic lead track, and offers the advice to “don’t make the mistakes I made”

So has time been kind to the band ? Well, to be honest, time has stood still for Marjorie Fair, which is no bad thing, With a sound rooted in the past, but somehow still sounding contemporary, Marjorie Fair sits comfortably alongside the aforementioned bands with the classic dreamy Laurel canyon vibe and aspirations. Just don’t leave us waiting another 12 years for album number 3.

8/11

Keith @kjsmith4082

Band facebook page

The 5th album from Ceri James is a solid piece of work, real class in its presentation and execution. Eleven songs in all that rock, roll, and seep through your senses leaving a big smile on your face. Musicianship is first class from the six piece, Three Fifths.

There is nothing new, from a new music point of view but, that not what the record is about, indeed this record fits nicely in the UK Country Rock market alongside bands such as, The Low Ryders, Treetop Flyers and Danny & The Champions of the World.

The album contains more than a nod to the blues as well. ‘Wishing Moon’ and ‘Austere Crimes and Hard Times’ are prime example of how the band extends themselves throughout the record.

A Welshman domiciled in London, between 2004-6 Ceri was a licensed busker on The London Underground, so he breathes the city and this band should be welcome in many venues throughout the streets of our fair capital.

A great record for a road trip or a smoky bar (is there such a thing anymore?) and a pint.

Pete
9/11

Ceri James

Heed Records 

As part 3 of a trilogy, new album Memory is described as the widescreen movie, with the previous releases of Blindspot and Distance being described as the script and play respectively.

With his lugubrious vocal style, Michaelson may just be the closest we have to a British Leonard Cohen, and Memory’s 7 songs explore how we remember and the influence of the world and the people around us causing us to rewrite our own histories.

Dan Michaelson and the Coastguards are Dan Michaelson (vocals, guitar, piano), Henry Spenner (drums), Laurie Earle (guitar, piano) and Horse (guitar). Joining them on ‘Memory are Romeo Stodart of The Magic Numbers (bass), Ali Friend (double bass), Gabriel Stebbing (cello), Johnny Flynn (violin and flugelhorn), Jin Theriault (baritone sax), Yusuf Narcin (trombone) and Christo Squire (alto sax).

Full of sparse, yet lush instrumentation, Memory takes the listener on a journey of discovery almost like a movie soundtrack playing in a smokey late night jazz club.

Tides opens the album, with just vocals and piano, before the gorgeous instrumentation washes over the album like the tide from the title. Think Tindersticks or even The Red House Painters if you want a comparison.

Title track Memory is clearly something important to Michaelson as he himself admits to having “almost zero memory”. This is a beautifully simple piano led track, which again builds with the rest of the band but this time taking a more restrained approach.

First track released off the new album is Undo, which is a tale revolving around the regret at not being able to undo words said during the heat of the moment....”if I could take it back, I would take it back, I’d wouldn’t take it out on you.....but you can’t undo”. Gorgeous cello and percussion are all over this track creating an album highlight.

Half The Reason closes the album, comprised almost exclusively of horns and strings, creating one long, last undulating pulse and leaving the listener in a contemplative mood.

This is best listened to as a late night album, accompanied with a good malt whisky and a roaring fire going. It gorgeous, sparse and melancholy - just like some of my favourite albums. An addition of a female vocalist from time to time could soften Michaelsons delivery, but its a small thing, and not a distraction.

8/11

Keith

@kjsmith4082

Website