The new full length release from Benjamin John Power a.k.a. Blanck Mass (and one half of Fuck Buttons) is something of a departure. Consisting of only two tracks (one per side of the nicely coloured vinyl), it’s a genre defying album that branches out from Power’s usual sound in a way that’s immensely creative and satisfying.

It would have been easy in these (cliche alert!) 'unprecedented times' to write a bunch of songs reflective of the mood arising from the ongoing pandemic i.e. a main course of dystopia, drizzled with angst accompanied with a side order of despair. So, it's metaphorical cap doffed to new Sheffield based art pop group Fondness (Tom Darwent, Beau Foletti and musical guide and long-term pal Robin Downe) for releasing an EP so positively uplifting, it almost smiles at you.

Sports are Oklahama duo Cale Chronister + Christian Theriot. They met at middle school and even at age 13 they found a bond in breaking out of conformity of their small-town surroundings; an adolescent common ground that soon translated into making music. The Sports marque came about a decade later, a name chosen simply because their parents were all massive sports fans.

A dreamy record for dark times. Distractions is not ‘a lockdown album’. As singer Stuart Staples says, “I think the confinement provided an opportunity for something that was already happening. It is definitely a part of the album, but not a reaction to it.”

It’s not every day that you listen to an artist who has a PhD in Ethnomusicology but, Kat Danser’s 6th album One Eye Open show sthe Ethnomusicologist to be in good form.

I guess there are two ways of reviewing an album. Number one – dive straight in. That way there are no prejudices, no forced connections, just a natural instinctive reaction to the music. 

Number two – do the research, find out about the band, their attitude and approach and what they are about. That way you can get a better insight into what they want their music and lyrics to express.

Despite being around for many years, and sharing an umlaut in their name along with Motorhead and Motley Crue, Maximo Park are a band that have never really been on my radar ; neither recorded output or live. Not sure why to be honest......guess there are only a finite numbers of hours in the day to listen to music, and pesky work has a lot to answer for.

Arriving 5 years after volume two, the third in John Carpenter’s ‘Lost Themes’ series finds him treading familiar territory. Subtitled ‘Alive After Death’, these may be original tracks rather than music composed for his films but it’s easy to imagine them soundtracking one of his signature style of movies.

Rioghan Darcy is a poet and lyric writer from Lapua in Finland. During 2019 she teamed up with skilled songwriters and musicians to add more texture to her words by putting them to music. The four track EP 'Blackened Sky' is the favourable result of these collaborations and is Rioghan's first musical release.

At the onset of the pandemic, I heard suggestions from some quarters that the lockdown would herald the end of some bands who, like Black Country New Road, were on the cusp of registering more deeply on the consciousness of the music-loving fraternity. I didn’t buy it then and as we continue to trudge through the angst and isolation of the pandemic I’m delighted to report there has been no evident damage to progress of this particular seven-strong ensemble.

In a career of nearly 40 years Love and Desperation is Rick Shea's 12th album which as recording finished during 2020 is a product of musical distancing. The recording sessions started at Rick Shea's (guitar and vocals) studio in Southern California and the whole process finished with Shawn Nourse (drums and percussion), Phil Parlapiano, David Jackson and Skip Andrews (Accordions), Steve Nelson, Jeff Turmes and Dave Hall (Bass) adding their parts from their own recording bases.

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