Browsing All posts tagged under »acoustic«

Various Artists – Album Roundup

May 31, 2016

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This album, originally released in 1989, was for a long time the definitive answer to the question ‘what do Thinking Plague sound like?’ It was ten years before In Extremis presented a new line-up and a changing sound to the record-buying public (sans legendary founder-member Bob Drake) – and let’s face it, bands as daring and un-commercial as this tend to communicate with their audience more by the medium of recordings than by live performance. Cuneiform Records, with whom Thinking Plague have been since that follow-up, characterise this album as the band’s ‘stylistic coming of age’, and that certainly seems a fair …

Karen Grace – Bitter Sweet (avant-folk)

April 12, 2016

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I’m sure that Karen Grace thinks she’s just writing songs about the things that matter to her, and recording them in the way that suits them best. There’s a whole world of acoustic singer-songwriters out there, all doing that, and a frightening number of them do it really well. Doing it really well is not enough to make it outstanding however, or even, unless you happen to have a personal connection to the artist, worth listening to at all – because however particular it is in detail, in almost all cases that particularity is paradoxically generic. So what is worth your time in this brave new world of saturated exposure, of …

Various Artists – Singles and EPs

September 14, 2015

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The Stringers are a four-piece from Ontario, that plays rock music of the old school – which doesn’t mean that it’s ‘old-fashioned’, but that it’s pop music, god dammit! This is entertainment, with no pretensions to any kind of creative territory beyond that compass; all too often that can imply some kind of highly manufactured, overly polished and self-consciously vapid ‘product’, but this is all about melodies, grooves and the raw sound of musicians making it happen together. Crisp, tight performances are represented in an immediate, close-quarters production, through arrangements that evince a good understanding …

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

March 7, 2015

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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 …

Review Of The Year 2014: 20 Albums

December 20, 2014

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My views on end-of-year roundups in general are quite aggressive, and can be read at greater length in the introduction to last year’s selection, here. Suffice it to say that I think anyone claiming to know which are the best few albums released in any given year is seriously delusional; my selection is simply some of the records I liked the most out of those I happened to come across. These records are all seriously good, but there were over a hundred other albums that could equally well have made it onto my list; my advice is, yes, investigate these records, but more importantly, go hunting for …

Various Artists – Album Roundup

November 27, 2014

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This is a selection of records that I’d like to review, but for one reason or another, it’s not going to happen. Some (in fact most) of them just didn’t quite make the cut, in light of the extremely high standard and preponderance of physical submissions I get now (these were all received as digital submissions). Others have just been sitting in the queue for too long for a review to be meaningful now, with their release dates receding behind us into historical time… All of them are well worth listening to however, although I do appreciate that most people reading this won’t have tastes quite …

Various Artists – Album Roundup

September 25, 2014

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Mark Harrison and his very capable band (whose members include the extremely talented duo Josienne Clarke and Ben Walker) play a curiously English take on American roots music. Their stylistic materials mine the cracks between country blues and old time country music, continuing a UK tradition that began with skiffle and was nourished by the likes of Ramblin’ Jack Elliot and the pop-jug-band sounds of Canned Heat. There’s a sense when listening to American performers in such styles, particularly the older ones, that they are singing from beneath a heavy encrustation of …