Browsing All Posts filed under »Music«

Adrian May – The Comedy of Masculinity (poetry/ singer-songwriter)

August 27, 2015


This is a review of a CD and a book, although there’s no particular reason to stop there. Adrian May is a performer, and although it says ‘songs and poems’ on the cover of his book, it’s pretty hard to draw a hard and fast distinction between them; poetry, music and performance in both modes seem all to be more or less equally important aspects of his creative practice. I’ve seen him perform, and I’ve made public some words on the subject, but the oddly arbitrary context to which I restrict myself here confines my attentions to the particular objects I have before me. Ordinarily this would be a CD, with a more or less …

Various Artists – Album Roundup

August 3, 2015


Golden Diskó Ship drop the listener immediately into a vast reverberant space, in which percussion thuds like a carpenter’s mallet and sweet vocal melodies drift tentatively into scene… Thus begins ‘These thoughts will never take shape’, and indeed there is barely time for the music’s forms to register in the ear before they shift into something else: we are presented with a kind of deconstructed pop song, in which elements are presented serially, in isolation… Until, eventually, around halfway through, after an upper register surf-guitar figure has been presented on the song’s conveyer belt, they come together…

The Domestics – Routine and Ritual (punk)

July 14, 2015


This is not music that’s meant to be engaged with as a text. It’s physical music, an onslaught of experience, that invites your participation or your absence. If its material impact has a politics, it’s a politics of action, a politics of fury, of atavistic solidarity and unmediated resistance. It’s music to enable the forging of many wills into one under the sacrament of alcohol; it offers a context where we can, in Public Enemy’s memorable phrase, party for our right to fight. But there is a lot more to Routine and Ritual than guitar noise: this is music with lyrics, and the lyrics are anything but unreflecting. The …

Rhys Marsh – Sentiment (progressive rock)

June 9, 2015


The sweet clarity of Rhys Marsh’s voice unifies his album with a luminous, melancholy calm, effortlessly bridging the steepest dynamic gradients in arrangements that can swing rapidly from finger-picked acoustic guitar to weighty chunks of rock. The instrumental textures on Sentiment are dramatic and powerful, but there is never any doubt in which strand’s service the whole thick, complex braid is marshalled. This is rock music in the service of song, or it is the songwriter’s art writ large and bold, in the deep, layered colours of which progressive rock orchestration is capable. It’s not about instrumental

Reagan’s Polyp re-releases (satirical anti-rock)

June 9, 2015


When I’m asked to review a fistful of reissues I might ordinarily feel a moment or two of guilt at never having listened to the band before (which is usually the case, given my perversely idiosyncratic listening habits). Not so with Reagan’s Polyp, an obscure and wilfully unappetising band from Little Rock, Arkansas. Rather than going to some other place, where their brand of satirical, lyrically infantile, musically heterodox, avant-garde rock might have been appreciated by hipsters and bohemians, they stayed in Little Rock, released thirty-odd albums, earned predictable notices in the local music press (‘abusive …

Deerhoof – La Isla Bonita (avant-pop)

March 21, 2015


There are many ways to do anything. There are musicians that spend their entire career mining one small patch of stylistic territory, exhaustively plotting its possibilities, immersing themselves in its world, refining its vocabulary until their creative utterances are as idiomatic as the language of everyday life. Then there are those that reinvent themselves continually. Both approaches are equally valid (as if I was in any way qualified to tell anyone whether or not their work was valid!), and as far as I can tell, both are equally fertile. I know of many artists, especially in genres like jazz and folk, where great store is …

Josienne Clarke and Ben Walker – Nothing Can Bring Back the Hour (folk)

March 7, 2015


I come late to most notable artists, since I’m not the sort of person that avidly follows the latest developments, or that cares much one way or the other about currency. It’s pure chance that I came across this most accomplished duo on the cusp of their currently burgeoning notoriety. I was lucky enough to share the bill with them on one occasion, and their performance was the undisputed highlight of my evening; shortly thereafter I received a review submission from Mark Harrison, in whose band they both play; and Josienne Clarke was sufficiently appreciative of that review to contact me regarding this …