Mats Ronander and The Dusty Runners –  Would You? (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

z63RdpyQEven on the first play of this album you come away with the feeling that these are songs forged by a very skilled writer and recorded by an experienced band. And you would be right, just one look at Mats Ronander’s resume reveals that he not only has a pile of solo albums behind him but is a go to, top flight session man and has toured as part of, not only home grown legends such as ABBA but has graced the ranks of the likes of Ian Hunter and Graham Parker’s live line ups. In short, the man knows what he is doing. And then some!

Having gathered around him an equally impressive cast of players he has created an album which mixes slick country grooves, polished blues and approachable rock, all shot through with accessible, soulfulness and infectious vibes. It’s where commercial possibilities meet rootsy traditions, where the sound of the American dream gets dressed up for an even bigger international audience.

At one extreme you have the purer Nashville infused sounds of the Karin Risberg led Nothing’s The Same, a song that just glistens with rhinestones and personal reflection and at the other The Bridge plays with big funky, soulful blues. The title track wanders through some latin inspired beats, Spare Me Some change is a bluesy plea and My World showcases the gospel harmonies which are never very far away from the proceedings.

It’s a fine album, deftly constructed, able to wander across genres yet deliver a consistent overall sound, one where rootsy underground music is taken from the truck stops and downtown blues bars and represented and repackaged for a slicker uptown audience. Purists might prefer their music with the rough edges still in evidence but Ronander’s ability to create such sounds for a much bigger stage is exactly why he has had such a successful career.

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The 10 most popular posts of the year.

Everyone else is doing it so why not I. This end of year round up is one based purely on statistical factors, i.e. the most reader hits on the post, the idea of my personal preference is a moot point as I tend to only write about music that I really like so if you made the site it means I already like your work. Think of me less as a critic but more a champion of new, underground and slightly off the radar music. As the by-line says, “rescuing musical virtue in distress.”

 

10. Guard Down – Salute the Sun

10846314_358156134309199_3971624639670358907_n“Overall, the five tracks on offer are put together in an almost mini-concept sort of way, building, for me at any rate, a sense of being at a club gig over a whole night, starting with funky upbeat energy, through intense atmospherics, and on into end-of-night chill out. I like an album that sounds like it’s been put together with some sort of narrative. It’s old-school, like recordings used to be before the age of the “shuffle” button.”

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9. Broken Hip – Echo Boom Generation

10959674_405221096319140_3170334261304849129_n“Big riffs, solid grooves and break-neck deliveries abound and yes, you can hear some of the classic moves in there but think of this as the logical conclusion of an evolutionary line that started with the likes of Led Zeppelin and ends somewhere near Royal Blood. But the bottom line is that this video has just about everything that todays rock scene needs. Anyone who doesn’t fall in love with this band immediately will just cause my opinion of todays rock fan to fall even further.”

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8. After All The Wishing – Jim Johnston

10671375_793096057412980_7221351230385609334_n-1“If Voyage… was the sound of blues and psychedelia meeting in a cold, clinical embrace in a disused dockside somewhere along the Severn Estuary, this is the sound of David Bowie scoring the bleak worlds of Bret Easton Ellis’ novels and Damien Moran’s hypnotic narrative that threads it’s way between, around and through the songs immediately puts you in mind of Diamond Dogs spoken opening salvo.”

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7. Mystery Glue – Graham Parker and The Rumour

mystery_glue-33249667-frntl“Reminiscent of the more casual moments of their earlier career and imbued with a more Dylan-esque vibe in places, the original line up shows that they still have what it takes and if at times you can hear a chilled out Springsteen, a balladeering Elvis Costello and any number of punk and post punk templates, it is because Graham and the boys were often the source material, the unwitting patrons to a generation of musicians that would go on to redefine music.”

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6. Change, Nothing To Lose – L.A. Davis

12408869-la-davis-change-nothing-to-lose“Shards of electronica pierce a shimmering guitar line as shuffling drums drive the dynamic. But it is Davis voice than makes this stand apart from other pop prodigy’s. His soulful and gravely tones come as a welcome change (pun intended) from the chirping pop crooners that we currently are being presented with.”

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5. Prospero – Alasca

18269_10155236619385300_333489058529746417_n“But even within this late 60’s tinged underground melting pot of lush west coast country rock and poignant Newport folk festival vibes, other musical flavours keep you guessing, the mariachi trumpets of In Media Res that kick the album off, seedy and archaic, bar-room piano, the anthemic spaghetti western twang that is The Prophet, bluesy introspection and lyrics that could go toe to toe with Cohen or Waits in their subject matters and messages, name-checking Rimbauld and Shakespeare along the way.”

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4. Baby 126 – Ruby Confue

11118053_920625011322019_934685032983518008_n“Baby 126 sounds like distilled essence of summer, joyous dance grooves and brazen brass blend with street soul choruses and blasts of Shakespeare re-imagined as a hip-hop act to produce a brilliant and totally infectious feel good, future classic.”

 

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3. Fearless – Kat Perkins

20140923__140926wl-ross_kat_300“If Fearless is the song that has real mainstream potential, existing as it does in a place cool enough for the serious rock fraternity and accessible enough for the chart aficionados, it is the inclusion of a cover of Hearts early classic, Barracuda, that really speaks volumes. Anyone who can not only capture that early Ann Wilson vocal but at the same time make the song their own is someone that you have to take notice of.”

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2. Blind Faith – Black

blindfaith“Prophets may be without honour in their own land, profits may also be similarly elusive, but I think that anything that compromises the outstandingly gorgeous music that Colin Vearncombe makes under the name Black, is something the world can do without.”

 

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1. 10 Gig Etiquette Failures

Members of the audience take pictures on their mobile phones during a set by British singer-songwriter James Blunt who is performing a concert in Beirut, Lebanon, Monday June 27, 2011. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

Although I only posted this article yesterday, it has proven so popular that it has gone to the number one spot overnight, I guess it must contain things that everyone can recognize from going to gigs, both amongst the audience around them and if we are honest, probably ourselves.

 

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Mystery Glue – Graham Parker and The Rumour (Cadet Concept) reviewed by Dave Franklin)

mystery_glue-33249667-frntlYou could say that young men light fires and older men sit around and bask in their glow. As younger men Graham Parker and The Rumour certainly lit a fire under the pre-punk, pub rock scene and could be forgiven for now sitting around and warming themselves in front of past glories. The key word there is could, as Mystery Glue, like their previous return to glory, Three Chords Good, is a cracker of an album.

Reminiscent of the more casual moments of their earlier career and imbued with a more Dylan-esque vibe in places, the original line up shows that they still have what it takes and if at times you can hear a chilled out Springsteen, a balladeering Elvis Costello and any number of punk and post punk templates, it is because Graham and the boys were often the source material, the unwitting patrons to a generation of musicians that would go on to redefine music.

And if the likes of Slow News Day plays with humour, swing beats and mellow interludes, there are more than enough old school driving rock outs such as Swing State and Railroad Spikes to remind you of where it all began.

This is soulful British R’n’B at it’s best, and because soul now seems to equate to the likes of Sam Smith and the term R’n’B has been appropriated by girl groups far more interested in dance routines than creativity, GP&TR are needed more than ever.

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