Eoin Glackin – Wear It While You Can (reviewed by Ian O’Regan)

eoin-glackin-artwork-e1504698340586There’s a corner of the music scene in the UK and Ireland these days that’s becoming more noticeable – insistent, even – under the increasingly inaccurate and irrelevant banner “Americana”.

What started as a more rootsy, stripped back objection (in part at least) to another of mainstream country music’s periodic drops into hideous cliche and soulless formula has become a cover-all label to describe so many different sounds and vibes, that surely it’ll soon be dropped as any kind of useful descriptor altogether, or, more likely, it’ll become more of an insult, much as the term “Prog” did in the 70s and 80s (and still is today).

In the meantime, one of the more enduring – and endearing – sub-genres in the Americana stable, and one that was one of the kick-starters to the whole concept, is the revision of late 70s and early 80s mid-west rock in the manner of Steve Earle, Tom Petty and the like.

The new single from Dubliner Eoin Glackin is the latest example, showcasing a solid, rock-along rhythm section overlayed with the requisite racing guitars and fiddle riffs, nicely propelling a song that is essentially a protest song in thin disguise.

Inspired by the story of Kathrine Switzer, the first woman to run the Boston marathon in 1960, much to the outrage of the organiser – the photograph of him trying to manhandle her off the course lives in infamy – this is a foot-tapping clarion call to women (and one hopes, people generally) to get on and do whatever you want to while you’re still able. A simple truth, but then, as the song itself ably demonstrates, the simple things are often the most effective – and the most fun.

Glackin has scheduled one UK gig in October, at the Half Moon Putney on the 5th. If you go, make sure your shoes have their tapping soles firmly attached.

Wear It While You Can is out on Good Deeds on 27th October.

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Occultation – Dark Moon Lilith (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

20258110_861786170636371_2694518852271757995_nIf the band, album name and artwork seem to suggest something aimed at the black clad, wannabe pagans who still have visions of relocating to Sunnydale and hanging around with Buffy and the gang, I am most happy to report that Occultation rises far above such first impressions. Give the music a spin and you find yourself in a dark and emotive alt-rock soundscape. Even the term gothic, as a genre at least, is slightly amiss here, for it neither fits in with the old-school post-punk movement or the metal sub-genre it has since become. If it is gothic at all it is more in the literary sense, painting dark mystique, broken romanticism and haunted emotions across its musical canvas.

So if I have established what the record isn’t, lets look at what it is. Dark Moon Lilith at times reminds me of Concrete Blond and their ability to weave introspective lyricism through powerful and theatrical music and similarly to sound like your favourite cult band but drip with commercial possibilities. Songs such as Hiding Place with its jagged guitar riffs, pounding classic rock drive and sultry warmth seeming to sum this up more eloquently than I can put into words.

And as much as I am trying and failing to avoid the term gothic, maybe it is a gothic alternative, music for those who found the likes of The Cure too mannered, Bauhaus to fractious and The Mission too pretentious first time around or who misses the mystic and mythology which used to be an inherent part of rock music before classic rock double-denimed down and alt-rock became all about skinny jeans and complicated hair.

And then they throw World Away at you, a minimalist ballad dripping with pain, heart wrenching emotion, majestic spatial awareness and anticipation and you realise that there is much more to the band than fits into easy generic boundaries, which obviously is how it should be. Considering my own musical journey through the bands mentioned above and particularly along that tipping point where the glamour of the gothic world met the pose and power of rock, Dark Moon Lilith are a wonderful find and one whose dark dramas I shall undoubtedly be spending more and more time with as the nights draw in, the perfect soundtrack for my half-lit domain and fire side hibernations.

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Sooner or Later – Lynne Taylor Donovan (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

Sooner_or_Later_cover_400There is something that lies at the heart of Lynne Taylor Donovan’s sound which seem to make me picture it playing from an old radio at a low volume at night, perhaps as the quiet sound track to the scene of a film, one tinged with love, loss and longing. It is a resonance, a certain sonic heart, a depth of classicism, and a feeling that even whilst hearing the song for the first time it is somehow woven into the very fabric of the human condition.

Although she works in the modern country genre, musically she seems to possess an old soul, remembering when such music was still connected to the emotive sound of the genre of the same name and equally so to the tragedy of blues, rather than the modern influx of urban cowboyism and career paths paved with rhinestones. But for all its traditionalism, it is still very much of the present as well, wonderfully reminding us of the cyclical nature of all music.

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Flag Burner – American Anymen (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

American_Anymen_-_Flag_Burner_(cover)One of the things which speaks volumes about just how much the world has changed over the last generation is when you are reading the comments of an on line discussion and some one posts something along the lines of “musicians should stay out of politics.” Surely the whole point of art in general and music in particular is to comment on the world around you. Yes, of course you can make throw away dance tunes and music that ticks aesthetically pleasing boxes, but equally valid is music as a soapbox, a platform from which to add to the social and political dialogue, to unite and energise or confront and accuse as you see fit.

With Flag Burner, American Anymen does just that, their disapproval of the current US administration and its controversial leader is never in any doubt. But ever since troubadours and folk musicians wandered between European inns spinning yarns about revolts, since revolutionary marching songs fired up the discontented masses and through to the likes of punk agitators and modern day musical commentators, it is a role that music has always played.

American Anymen play a staccato guitar music, restless, agitated, edgy and angst infused, it links the more articulate side of the British punk movement with the jittery, post-punk of the likes of Talking Heads and reflects the no holds barred observations of the likes of Sleaford Mods. American Anymen, whether they are aware of it or not, join a vague movement which is seeing a return to music as a flash point for debate and rally, one connected less by the actually music they make but more a return to the realisation of the power that a band and their songs can have, should they only chose to embrace that path.

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Flames and Games – Prym (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

20767858_1896512097275304_63104279729618663_nMaking music is often a case of taking the references and influences from the past and moulding them into a new music sonic experience for a whole new generation. The familiarity of the old and the freshness of the present blended together to head towards a new and exciting future. And that certainly sums up Prym. They take grungy, alt-rock riffs, a classic rock stance and even some progressive infused structures to create that perfect blend of “I remember” and “what if!”

They are a band that deals in intensity, Corrin Cambell’s compelling vocals come from a very authentic and impassioned place, monolithic slabs of primordial guitars drive through the middle ground and the solid bass and back-beat create the perfect platform to hold it all together. And whilst their e.p. At First Light takes in a number of wonderfully anthemic, stadium ready alt-rockers with more than a possibility of a commercial crossover future, Flames and Games is the sound of the band laying down a wonderful challenge. It is the band at their toughest, darkest, grittiest, a statement as much about where they come from as where they might be heading.

 

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Drivin’ – Richard Schroder (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

20992853_205013046701661_7117829575301815228_nIf your first idea might be the most natural and honest point of creativity when it comes to song writing, it is how you sculpt, edit, re-write, arrange and polish the song which is the different between a nice idea and a memorable piece of music. No one typifies that approach better than Richard Schroder, a man who has spent the last two years turning rough demos into a slick new album with help and advice of some of Nashville’s leading lights.

 
Drivin’, the lead single form the album Drive, takes a blend of country sensibility and rock muscle to build a song which will not only please the Music City purists but which also has the infectiousness and sonic appeal that could see it tap into a much wider audience. And whilst it feels like very familiar territory, it also feels like a classic right from the first play through its simple but effective hooks, addictive chorus, clean but impressive guitar lines, rock driven urgency and groovesome country vibe. Attention to detail, it would seem, is the magic ingredient, but let’s just keep that between ourselves, no need to give away an artists secrets.

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I Hear You Calling – Afrikan Roots ft. Lebo (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

IMG-20161126-WA0031-32qa2kc3j9btxq4h686l1cIf much of today’s Afrobeat/dance fusion is the story of what happened to the music after it left its home continent and mixed with European influences as well as modern technologies, Afrikan Roots, as the name might imply, is the story of what happened as those heady West African beats found their way to South Africa. Afrikan Roots make a wonderfully nuanced, layered and textured music one which echoes the history and complexities of the country that they have grown up in.

 
And if those seductive Ghanaian and Nigerian rhythms lie at the heart of the music, it is what they thread through such a structure that builds their unique sound. Classical guitar from the Mediterranean shores add some unexpected musical motifs and the vocals come in the form of a wonderfully ethereal pop style and elsewhere traditional tribal sounds blend with cutting edge modern studio creations reminding us that music is an on-going, evolutionary process with those timeless sounds being carried along by new torch bearers.

Afrikan roots pull off an amazing trick with I Hear You Calling, it plays to history as well as future potential, it speaks to the roots aficionado as much as the young popster and it plays to the underground dance set as well as the mainstream. But more than that, within its music you can hear stories, of the history of people and places being carried along too. Who would have thought that you could do all of that by just writing a song?

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Outcasts – Ezla (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

ezla1I guess anyone who moves to Nashville, the home of rhinestone infused country music, to build a career in edgy, sultry, underground pop, is obviously someone who sees beyond the veneer of the music industry and knows how to find her musical allies in the less obvious places. And it is an attitude that certainly runs through the music that she makes. Pop it may be but it is pop coming from a very different, very literate, very original place.

Outcasts manages to combine compelling, slow dance grooves, hypnotic electronica and a dark lyricism which not only speaks to the fractured and contested issues surrounding the identity problems of modern society but also echo’s her own place running at a tangent to the mainstream. It is this compelling lyricism coupled with an alternative pop sound, one that seems to emanate from a more intense, thoughtful and intriguing place, that makes Ezla not only something apart from the usual pop fodder, but also the genres best hope for an engaging future.

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Ego – Thekayetan (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

rsz_okadka_do_egoThere is a strange juxtaposition that lies at the heart of Thekayetan’s music in general, and Ego in particular. On the one hand the beats and drive are punchy and vibrant, creating an upbeat mood and a groovesome vibe, on the other there is so much space in the track that it comes across as chilled, purposefully laidback and almost lazy. It means that it manages to sit in two worlds, both as a minimalist dance floor track all sultry groove and hypnotic, skittering hook lines and as an after club, early hours, chill out, future classic.

The charm is that they know where their most effective sonic bench mark is and even stopped short of that, allowing space and atmosphere to fill in the gaps between the beats and bars as instruments in their own right. Whereas most musicians would have piled on the layers of synth, doubled up the pace of the beat and overloaded the song, Thekayetan are masters of musical understatement. The result is an elegant, intriguing, wonderfully clean-limbed and totally original dance track that fits into the club night at any point from that first drink of the evening to the après-club, after party wind down. Clever, very clever.

Listen here  – Thekayetan

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Seeds Riddim – Murder He Wrote (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

527286_336705303058191_1621035353_nIt’s safe to say that Murder He Wrote knows his way around the dance music industry, from working with myriad game changing labels, including releasing his debut EP on the legendary Skint Records, remixes for Stanton Warriors and more recently finding a home with Roska Kicks and Snares. And it is only natural that this ability to navigate the more interesting and better-respected waters of club culture and the dance world at large has resulted in a fresh and unique sound when it comes to his output.

Seeds Riddim is all about textures, layers of different influences having their moment in the spot light to be subsumed back into the beat for another to immediately take its place. Chiming Afrobeat and the ghosts of Calypso past are threaded through ultra modern, affected bass pulses whilst soulful groves are pinned down with broken staccato beats. It is the sound of the club and the beach, the past and the present, the groove and the grind, of futuristic funk and an evolution of music stripped back to its essentials. And if it is impressive to see where Murder He Wrote has been, where he is going is a much more exciting prospect.

Music submitted by Project Funky

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