Formula For Life –  Alphonso Archer (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

23561647_826354527539069_7673167644320065423_n.jpgMusic is driven by many factors and we often find that the biggest inspirations, the best creative flows are the result of being presented with the biggest hurdles. When faced with two life changing diagnoses, instead of pulling away and feeling sorry for himself, Alphonso Archer was  driven to be more creative, more pro-active, more focused and the result is a fantastic collection of songs which goes by the name of Formula For Life.

It is an album woven from a wide range of subtle and soulful threads, jazz infused blissfulness, groovesome R&B and perfect pop forms blended together to create infectiousness and accessibility. And yet despite all the generic juggling and stylistic mixing it is an album with a very cohesive sound, one which brims with sophistication and modernity yet one that is aware of its place in the musical scheme of things, one which understands exactly where it is coming from and because of that knows where it is going. And where it is going is into a bright new musical dawn.

On songs such as Omens it revels in a chilled R&B vibe, one which will appeal to both the commercial minded pop punter and the more discerning movers, shakers, and underground tastemakers and the title track is built on jazz-soul sweetness and brims with positivity. But there is also room for more off-beat ideas, Where Have All The Flowers Gone? sees Alphonso Archer go green and over a mesh of minimal beats, classical guitar and brooding strings a spoken word narrative discusses the plight of the humble bee. Also included is a re-mixed rap version but for me the almost Shakespearean delivery of the original is the one that does it for me.

Bring You Back Again explores some reggae vibes and Let’s Keep Things Simple is a brilliant pop-soul cross over which given a fair wind and the right promotion could easily be a chart bothering contender. And despite the familiarity of the building blocks used to create this album, the end result is wonderfully original, deftly wrought and chock full of personality. Where soul has often become a catch all for impressive feats of sultry lyrical dexterity that all too often forget to invest in any genuine emotion, this is a record built on the heartfelt and honest, which after all were the hallmarks of the genre in the first place.

And whereas many artists working in this soul-jazz-pop axis have a tendency to be lyrically light and bereft of depth, Formula For Life has some wonderfully poignant moments, it tugs heartstrings, explores relationships and generally has much to say about life and it is that combination of musical exploration, poeticism and lyrical honesty that means that it might just propel Archer into the market he deserves. We can only hope.

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Delete The Elite –  Derailer (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

16487468_608337189350368_5473394163418728481_oAren’t you meant to mellow with age? Aren’t you meant to hand the musical baton on to the next generation, calm down and grow old gracefully? Well, when the younger generation seem largely content to write songs devoid of bite or opinion and the world seems to grow even more chaotic, ill-balanced and self-serving day by day, what is an old punk to do? They do what they have always done, write fired up music about the state of the world around them, remind people that once music had something to say, thats what Derailer do anyway and boy do they sound pissed off.

Derailer are a motley bunch of musicians whose collective family tree runs through a whole raft of local agitator rock and viseral punk bands, including The Chaos Brothers, The Boys From County Hell and and Nobody’s Heroes but Delete The Elite pushes beyond merely punk roots and splices garage rock, swamp blues, scuzzy alt-rock and a snarling commentary which seems equally content to put things right or pull things down.

And if songs like Prohibition are happy to play the high octane, punk groove card, the gothic-country wasteland shiver of Creepin’ Jesus and the raucous roots salvos of Hands of The Healer position them closer to the tribal psychobilly blues of The Gun Club, never a bad band to find yourself sharing a vibe with.

Somehow, Derailer have mastered the art of writing songs that represent every disenfranchised musical subset in history…well, a fair slice of them anyway. In 12 surly and uncompromising musical slices Delete The Elite manages to embrace the sneering punk, the slick haired rock and roller and any number of beligerants wandering the musical fringes. The jagged riffs will speak to blues heads and hard rockers alike and the brooding undertones are a place even the estranged goth can find solace. Call it what you will but for my money this is garage rock at its finest.

Phil Cooper Christmas Freebies

a0428442270_10Phil Cooper has a  tradition of put together a nice little give away package at this time of year and this year is no exception.

This year he’s put together a little 6 track collection for you, which includes a previously unheard version of Home By Christmas, a track from Half Live and 4 songs from my days in The Haiku.  All this is completely free as a thank you for your support.

click here to have a listen

 

And if you like that you can pick up a copy of his latest album, Things I’ll Never Say HERE and if you do so in the next couple of weeks then you will also get a free copy of The Notice Period EP thrown in.

 

It also seems appropriate to point out that you can catch Phil at the following live shows.

Weds 23rd Dec – The White Hart, Calne

Sat 16th Jan – RMA Tavern, Southsea

Sat 30th Jan – The Wunderbar,
Midsomer Norton

Sat 6th Feb – The White Hart, Taunton

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