A Friend in Old Sol – L.HUNT (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

27983500_1618038474956352_7503838589822435098_oHaving already won me over with previous release Shadows In The Mind’s Eye and proven that there is room for a modern take on the much maligned concept album without it having to carry all of the musical baggage of previous eras, A Friend in Old Sol really underlines that point.  For A Friend in Old Sol is a gentle and considered piece, it grooves on a slightly ska infused piano line, mellow calypso vibes, and little else. The vocal undertakes a duet with an emotive whistle to great effect and if you are looking for a lead instrument on such an understated song, this would be it…not that it ever goes for the showboating, spotlight, merely acting as a subtle and supple response to the lyrics. A dance partner, if you like, and a very good one.

And lyrically the song seems to be a simple celebration of his friend, the one constant in his, and indeed all our lives, The Sun. Always looking down on us “silly little things” below, never faltering in its journey, constant, dependable and, lets face it,  essential. And it is a theme that has been prevalent in music since the first humans thought to beat rhythms on logs to make sure that the sun came up each day and the rains fell on their crops. Now we have a better understanding but still call that celestial ball our friend, and why not, has he ever let you down?

When the term “world music” crept into the public consciousness it tended to be the domain of a certain type of guy (and it generally was a guy). One who would use the fact that you hadn’t heard of a certain Moroccan hip-hop/jazz fusion band or his new favourite Mongolian Tuvan choir, to play his favourite game of one-upmanship with you. Well, we quickly saw through him and soon realised that there is no such thing as “world music” there is just the world and its music. And A Friend in Sol is very much music that represents the cross cultural nature of the ever shrinking global village that we live in. Less a genre, more a gesture.

It effortlessly crosses borders, both generic and geographical, it splices ideas and sounds, musical concepts and creative thought processes. Let me draw a line connecting old school theatre traditions and Wodehousian musical whimsy with Celtic folk, another from chilled uptown jazz clubs to the sun kissed beaches of The Carribean, and then many more connecting places and thoughts, music and stories that have no business being connected. Stare at the pattern of the lines for a long time, and then shut your eyes. The stars dancing behind your eyelids is the music of this intriguing project.

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Los Weekend –  Slang (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

26239514_1912189822129129_4496369493560034842_nFrom the punningly clever title and the vibes emanating from the cover, it is obvious that this is no mere return to the rock based journeys that formed last years Growing Wild. And as I said at the time, even that was a new take on the instrumental rock guitar format, exploring some wonderful musical tangents and meanderings into jazz, blues and funk along the way. This time around Slang takes that musically inquiring mind and deft creativity and visits warmer and more chilled climes and delivers his own unique take on acoustic driven world music.

And the world in question here is one of the eternal beach, of Island life, Carnival, or at least its chilled out after party, and of drinking wine under the Iberian sun. He weaves classical Spanish sounds, Calypso grooves and latin cool together, subtle and supple acoustica cradled in just enough musical accompaniment to act as a cradle around the guitar but never get in the way of the central instrument.

The music is highly evocative,  Sunset Siesta paints the sun going down over the Sierra Morena, Pub Street captures all of the hustle and bustle of a busy bar and the to and fro of tourists and socialisers in a vibrant blend of steel drums and flamenco-esque guitarwork and Fading Slowly is lilting, latin and lovely.

If most music relies on the lyrics to get the message across, Slang shows us another way. This really is music paining pictures, setting scenes and describing scenarios, using just a song title and after that using only the music presented here, a series of small films appear, snapshots of journeys have yet to take or wonderful aids to revisit those you have already experienced. As always Slang is a master painter, it is just that his brushes are guitars, his colours are notes and his easel is the listeners imagination. How cool is that?

New Music of the Day – CXCVI: Redolence – Camens

18033332_328152864254657_6682452655496141228_nIf new kids on the Power-pop/indie block, Camens, delivered a calling card that sat easily within the bounds of expectation with Boys Will Stray, especially considering the music they have been associated with until now, Redolence is a real curve ball. The top end sound may still be ploughing a familiar furrow, but this fashionable and slick indie goodness is welded on to a staccato beat and a calypso groove that you really weren’t expecting.

And that is what is called for these days. Indie, whether by historical definition or generic designation has been around since the punk wars and has only survived the slings and arrows of outrageous fickle, fashionable fortune by being malleable, exploratory and able to seek out new, untrodden pathways. Camens new release is the epitome of just such an approach. Sunshine vibes and escapist dreams but still rooted in a commercially viable sound makes for the best of both worlds and the only thing that you are left wondering is where can they go next to keep the dream of indie alive.

 

Tropical Soul – Holly Holden Y Su Banda (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

B3E3D5EB-6A83-40C8-9D7B-384AFBAD068DWhen the term “world music” crept into the public consciousness it tended to be the domain of a certain type of guy (and it generally was a guy). One who would use the fact that you hadn’t heard of a certain Moroccan hip-hop/jazz fusion band or his new favourite Mongolian Tuvan choir, to play his favourite game of one-upmanship with you. Well, we quickly saw through him and soon realised that there is no such thing as “world music” there is just the world and music.

But if you were going to invent such a thing as world music from scratch then Holly Holden would fit right into such a genre. The antithesis of the aforementioned cultural bore collecting music like rare stamps, Holly is instead a troubadour in the perfect sense, a wander through musical worlds and physical places and it is her adventures in Latin America and The Caribbean which have informed the aptly named Tropical Soul.

Reggae, salsa, bolero and other Latin cornerstones blend effortlessly with soul, pop and R’n’B vibes and even language becomes a fluid element as English and Spanish become blended and interchangeable. And all this creates a truly world sound, one not quite belonging to any one place but fitting effortlessly in many. Musical Esperanto if you will.

Pop fans will love the accessibility, Latin aficionados will love the sensual grooves, beach bums will love how it reminds them of sun soaked tropical memories and everyone else will just marvel at how infectious, euphoric and optimistic the songs are, even when dealing with more wistful and reflective issues.

With a full album to follow, this e.p. really is a great calling card for what should amount to a very productive year and if groovesome, bi-lingual sultry, sunshine, tropical pop happens to become the musical fashion statement of 2017, and it very well might, remember where you heard it first.

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