Album review: Jay Woodward – Letters We Told

When I heard Bright Eyes for the first time, it was when I randomly stumbled across “First Day of My Life” on one of those yahoo radio stations, of all places! Do they still exist? I also “found” Rilo Kiley on there, so am very grateful they ever did, but I digress. I immediately fell for Oberst’s beautifully emotive vocals and the simple, heart wrenching guitar playing. This song didn’t need effects or excessive noise – it just existed, and in that moment, it was just the song and me. I was in love with music all over again. It takes something very special to make me feel that way.

Fast forward about eight years, and I received an email about an unknown-to-me singer by the name of Jay Woodward. Well, I couldn’t predict the feeling I got when I pressed play on the bandcamp stream of his 2013 album, “Letters We Told”. The instrumental first track “Mandolina” kicked in with its beautiful melody, and I was absolutely blown away. I was hooked. I’m a sucker for anything that includes strings, especially something so wonderful, natural and relaxing.

 

 

Having had the scene set, I proceeded to listen to the rest of the album. By the time I was half way through “Garden in the Sun”, I was flooded with emotion, and promptly burst into tears. Maybe it was the mood I was in anyway, maybe it was the fact I was hearing something so perfect for that mood, maybe I simply identified with the lyric. I can’t pinpoint why I cried, but I can tell you that for anyone to have that effect on me, especially someone I’ve never spoken to, or even heard of, is an incredible thing.

Garden in the Sun

Next on the album is “Howl”, a nice, upbeat tune with a fluidity within it that I’m certain takes utmost skill to achieve. Jay is in touch with his abilities, and I like that he doesn’t push it too far. This song has a crescendo of sorts, provided by cymbals at various stages. It makes me think of crashing waves against a rocky beach. Rather lovely.

“The Truth” is a gentle, lilting tune which has an almost folk feel to it that I really enjoy. It’s a lovely link between its neighbouring songs – Jay has really thought about placement here, and that pleases me no end!

Jay Woodward

The next song, “ Believe the Honest in Your Veins”, got me so involved that I forgot where I was and what I was doing! The hushed vocals coupled with the message of how painful it is trying to be free are almost at odds with one another – I don’t mind betting some people will miss out on what Jay is telling us here, but in that respect I really like how intelligently this song has been put together.

 

 

“I Will Be Glad” has got what sounds like the crackle of vinyl in the background. I remember thinking during track two how good this album would sound on vinyl, and now I’m thinking it again. It has to happen, please! This is a delightful instrumental track, complete with Hawaiian sounding guitar the sounds of a gentle tide. This is nature within music.

My favourite song on the album is “Little Bird”. It soothes, and it heals. I could listen to this all day long, and feel at complete peace.

 

 

Jay turns it up a notch with the penultimate track, “Don’t Fall Asleep”. In other songs, he uses percussion to enhance the music. In this tune, we hear a more full drum-machine provided beat, albeit gentle and brooding, and a dark, grinding guitar sound. I like this departure from his seemingly usual style.

Letters We Told screenshot

Last up on the album is the title track, “Letters We Told”. An introspective, heartbreaking look at where we are in the world, and how it’s all got the potential to go so wrong, this is the nevertheless the perfect mellow end to the album.

In December ’13, Jay released his first single, “Winter Song”, which you can listen to and buy here:

Jay is clearly a man who wears his heart on his sleeve with a complete absence of fear about what people will think about that. He also doesn’t complicate his songs with unnecessarily intricate effects, and I like that. The words and the music provide the message he wants to convey. I have certainly been touched by his music, and believe there are great things ahead for him.

Contact Jay and listen to his music in the following zones:

Website

Bandcamp

Facebook

Twitter

Soundcloud

 

Dots Recommends: Wiveton Downs, Polar Maps & The Everglows

Good morning to you on this misty Music Monday! It’s that time again when I bring to you three new bands/artists for your delectation! A brief insight into their music gives you the opportunity to have a quick listen, and if you like it, I’ll give you ways to find more music by the same artists.

I’m easing you into Monday gently today with Wiveton Downs, an indie/acoustic artist all the way from Los Angeles! He’s witty and fun (follow him on twitter!) – oh, and he sings very lovely songs! So far, he’s only shared two of his songs for public consumption, but I’m sure (I hope…) there will be lots more to come! Here’s “Swink” – I hope you enjoy it!

 

Soundcloud

Twitter

Facebook

Wiveton Downs
My second recommendation for today goes to the Isle of Wight’s Polar Maps, whose debut single “Stay Here With Me” was released earlier this month. They’ve got a very pleasing sound – clear, eloquent vocals, a neat and tidy drum beat, and lovely lilting, almost country style in places, guitar. I’m interested to hear what else this band have up their sleeve!

YouTube

Facebook

Bandcamp

Soundcloud

Polar Maps
If it’s catchy, 60s influenced tunes you’re after today, then look no further than Essex based band The Everglows! They’ve got a single out, “That Other Girl”, but I’m choosing to share with you another track which I actually prefer, because that’s just the way I am! This is called “Emily’s Dreaming”, and is a delightful psychedelic indie pop tune! I really like the dreamy, echoey vocal, and feel it is matched strongly with the melodic guitars and crashing cymbals. There are lots of layers to this song, and I like that. I like that a lot.

 

Twitter

Soundcloud

Facebook

The Everglows
Thanks for listening today – I hope you enjoyed what you heard! Until next time, then!

Dots Jukebox: Armageddon 28 Mar 14

Armageddon

Artist Song Suggested by
Nas & Damian Marley Strong Will Continue @makerzmark
Culture Get Ready to Ride the Lion to Zion @mobilemole59
The Clash Armagideon Time @lennybun @weloveallthat @antmeals
Killing Joke Turn to Red @jacklondonexile
Black Box Recorder It’s Only the End of the World @substandardnerd
Public Service Broadcasting If War Should Come @amcyoung
Frankie Goes to Hollywood Two Tribes (Annihilation Mix) @damjef
The The Armageddon Days are Here @now_playing_72 @dumptee_humptee @arihat_
Divine Comedy Here Comes the Flood @robbingham
Aphrodite’s Child Four Horsemen @beatcitytone @brianwrose
Of Montreal Suffer for Fashion @vicaviber
U2 Until the End of the World @thelastpenmon
Funeral For a Friend Into Oblivion @daveorv41
The Hives Tick Tick Boom @hertfordsoul
System of a Down B.Y.O.B. @wottaplava
Metallica The Four Horsemen @chops_top_fives @sirsidneyp
Super Furry Animals It’s Not the End of the World @flintsghost @infolib_robin @danthompson78
The Jam A Bomb in Wardour Street @keithj_gmb @tom__hannigan_
R.E.M. It’s the End of the World As We Know It (and I Feel Fine) @lsherrington1 @lycan33 @drfilth @jamesoldham
Ingrid Michaelson End of the World @musicvstheworld
Beitthemeans End of Time @chasethegroove
David Bowie Five Years @jamescollingwo1 @rud1973 @ladyofsonnets66
Jimi Hendrix All Along the Watchtower @carldogwalker @antmeals
The Doors The End @laugharne71 @stamfordcowboy @steve8x8 @theboywilliams
Blind Willie Johnson Jesus is Coming Soon @sadpad21
Johnny Cash The Man Comes Around @maffrj
Barry McGuire Eve of Destruction @adycolclough @buttersstotch11
The Louvin Brothers The Great Atomic Power @pauldn1
Skeeter Davis The End of the World @skylarkingmatt
Walker Brothers The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore @steve8x8

SONG OF THE WEEK:

 

Dotty View: The Speed of Sound

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to hear a merger between Jimi Hendrix, The Rolling Stones and Lou Reed? Well, wonder no more! Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you The Speed of Sound.

TSOS

Progressivepunkbluesrock, although a completely made up word, is my new favourite genre!

The vocals are dark and melancholy – they have an intense quality that makes me stop everything I’m doing and just listen. The music surrounding the words pulls me along like a tide, making me drift away from reality without even feeling that I have an option. I guess this is what it felt like to be around in the ’60s! I always felt I was born in the wrong era!

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The Speed of Sound have a definitive sound for these times. Not many people touch Blues or Punk nowadays, let alone anything vaguely Prog, whatever other genre it’s attached to! I don’t know why – I guess people think it’s had it’s time, but not me. I think it’s great. More, please!

Right, I am in serious danger of gushing here, and because I wouldn’t want you thinking I’m a sycophant (er, because I’m definitely not!), I’m just going to link up some of The Speed of Sound’s songs, and hope that you enjoy as much as I do! Go!

Girl on the Roof (my favourite!):

 

 

Ghosts of Grytviken (dig those dirty guitars!):

 

 

Checkpoint Charlie (that bass, man!):

 

 

You can contact and listen to The Speed of Sound in the following zones:

Twitter

Website

Bandcamp

Soundcloud

YouTube

TSOS3

Dots Recommends: Dron Hill, Kisscut and The Dutch Solo Mouses

Welcome to Music Monday, and for coming to hear my three recommendations for this week…

First up, I bring you Dron Hill. Hailing from Bridport, Dorset, this duo favour dreamy, lilting, occasionally electronic tunes with musing, soulful vocals. Their newest track, “Stay”, was released on 14th March. It’s completely gorgeous. Wrap your ears around it here and now!

YouTube

Bandcamp

Soundcloud

Twitter

Dron Hill

My second recommendation for today is Kisscut. He began making music when he was about 13 years old, and says he’s influenced by Eminem, Jay-Z and Blink-182. An eclectic mix indeed! Today, he’s released his new single, “Reflecting”, which is from the “Woman in Red” EP. An instrumental track, it conjures up an image of what Moby and Mint Royale would be like if they worked together. It’s quite a simple tune, but I love the beat, and the hook. Works for me!

Soundcloud

Twitter

Kisscut

Finally for today, I give you Blues Rock band The Dutch Solo Mouses. They released their debut album last month, and I have got around to listening to it, at last! They’re a group of good friends who spent a lot of time in other bands, and have now combined their resources to push this album out. They’ve got a definite style of their own, and they play with confidence. If I’m to be slightly critical, I would say that I’d like to hear more along the lines of my favourite track, “Boilermaker”. It’s the strongest song on the album, for me, but then I’m a self-confessed Blues lover, and that’s what this song is. Have a listen, and decide for yourself!

Facebook

Twitter

TDSM

Thanks for listening to my choices today, and I hope you’ve enjoyed them! More next week!

Dots Jukebox: Bite me! 21 March 2014

bite me

Song of the Week:

Artist Song Suggested by
Beth Jeans Houghton & The Hooves of Destiny Sweet Tooth Bird @sparkes74
Lorde White Teeth Teens @now_playing_72
Hüsker Dü The Tooth Fairy & the Princess @rickjleach
OutKast So Fresh, So Clean @littledutchy80
Queen Another One Bites the Dust @clairhorne
Mötley Crüe Punched in the Teeth by Love @musicvstheworld
Metallica Anesthesia (Pulling Teeth) @stamfordcowboy
Motörhead Bite the Bullet @robertleith
Therapy? Teethgrinder @weloveallthat @peterminihane @lsherrington1 @annatheforager @arihat_ @dalglish_28 @big_g_aroo @drfilth
The Birthday Party Release the Bats @flintsghost
The Dentists Creature Out of Control @moodymitchy
Green Day Pulling Teeth @sparkypatrick @daveorv41
Renegade Soundwave Biting My Nails @pswood3
Boomtown Rats Never Bite the Hand @cavedweller71
McCarthy Get a Knife Between Your Teeth @infolib_robin @johnfidler
The Upsetters Dollar in the Teeth @contra_flow @tonylazarus @theboywilliams mention for @ianfurgie
Steely Dan Your Gold Teeth @skylarkingmatt @westburtonlad
Little Shop of Horrors Dentist Song @wottaplava @eskimoracing
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah The Skin of My Yellow Country Teeth @grantsales
The Bluetones Solomon Bites the Worm @musicvstheworld
The Charlatans Toothache @danthompson78 @sirsidneyp
Frank Turner Wisdom Teeth @amcyoung
The Staves Tongue Behind My Teeth @rich_w27
The Mountain Goats Damn These Vampires @southallio
The Maccabees Toothpaste Kisses @mobilemole59 @hertfordsoul @laugharne71
David Rawlings Sweet Tooth @sadpad21
Iron & Wine Teeth in the Grass @chasethegroove
Lisa Hannigan Teeth @vicaviber
Sparklehorse Sea of Teeth @lippykidmusic @seanhannam
Marika Hackman Itchy Teeth @damjef

Album review: Vows – Winter’s Grave

So, you’re a fan of The National. “Sea of Love” is one of your favourite songs of theirs, and their album “Trouble Will Find Me” was on repeat for at least a week post release. You went to see them on their last UK tour, and I bet you’ve got tickets to see them at Hyde Park in the Summer! If so, I don’t mind admitting I’m envious!

Well, as a somewhat natural progression, I now wish to introduce you to Vows. I think you’ll like them a lot! Shoegaze, indie, dream pop is their thing, and they do it really, really well.

This is a band that self records and self releases, but without compromising on the quality of sound or customer satisfaction. It’s an organic process for them, and they appear to be thriving under the formula they’ve put together.

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Their first album, “Winter’s Grave”, achieved critical acclaim from blogs such as NPR – All Songs Considered and various other music blogs around the world. They now have a new double A-side single, “Ride This Out/Dream Boat”, which is available for free on Bandcamp, but you can have a listen here before clicking that button!

 

 

I reckon that after listening to this, you’ll be parting with your hard earned money for the promised upcoming second album. Personally, I’ll be doing just that!

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You can communicate with Vows here:

Twitter

Facebook

…and you can listen to/buy their music here:

Soundcloud

Website

Bandcamp

Dots Recommends: Tingle in the Netherlands, Little Mono & The 1957 Tail-Fin Fiasco

Monday has yet again arrived, and I’m here to make it a more pleasant day with my three musical recommendations for the week!

First up are Tingle in the Netherlands. Based in Manchester, this is an electro, synthpop collaboration of poet Helên Thomas and electronic musician Owen J.

TITN

They’re most definitely off the beaten track – they’re pushing boundaries, experimenting with techniques and freaking people out in the process – not necessarily in a bad way! I really like the ghostly robot feel of “Gabdnah S’etutitsôrp” from the latest EP, “Mirror Writing” – it’s atmospheric, dark and strangely melodic. Give it a listen here:

Bandcamp

Facebook

Twitter

Soundcloud

My second recommendation for this bright Monday morning are Little Mono.

Little Mono

They sell themselves as “Art Rock” – I’m not quite sure what that is, but if it means Punk/Indie Rock, then I like Art Rock. This is no nonsense music – they just get on with it, no messing. I like that. A lot. I’m looking forward to their debut album, “Sailing Songs Vol. 1” which will hopefully be released this Spring. For now, though, I give you “Special Song”… Enjoy!

Website

Soundcloud

Facebook

Twitter

YouTube

Last, but by no means least, 1957 Tail-Fin Fiasco have appeared on my radar!

1957 TFF

They are a bit of a treat – eloquent, ’60s style, pop/rock/jazz songs with great harmonies and lovely musical interludes. Utterly delightful! Their EP, “Cruise Control” was released in October 2013, and I love it, but I’m going back slightly further, as my favourite of theirs is the single “Jackie & Norm & the Hairdresser To the Star”. It’s got a brilliant, enticing, catchy lyric, part of which is “I’d never steal from E.L.O. but I would wash their hair”! I implore you to give it 3 minutes & 9 seconds of your attention, right now…!

Website

Twitter

Soundcloud

Facebook

Dotty View: The Finest Hour – Reason & Rhyme

It’s 8.15 on a bright Sunday morning, and I’m listening to anthemic indie rock tunes that hail from the rock n’ roll town of… Cleethorpes (and an injection of Grimsby for good measure)! Who else could the band be but The Finest Hour?

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Despite a slight change to the lineup last year when co-frontman Paul Kavanagh departed the band, The Finest Hour have been working their fingers to the bone gigging whenever and wherever they can, aswell as perfecting the album tracks for the long awaited follow-up to “These Are the Good Old Days” – album number two, “Reason & Rhyme”, will be released on 19th May 2014. I’ve been fortunate enough to have a listen, and what I hear are quality songs from passionate, hard working musicians who really care about the finished product.

It kicks off with “November”, a melodic yet punchy tune about the modern world and human nature. It’s so darn catchy, too – a brilliant balance. They’ve cracked it on this song, in my opinion.

Moving on, we hear the involuntary head nod inducing “Dig Two”, the rousing chorus of “Rum & Red Wine” and move onto “Matchlight”. This is one of the strongest songs on the album, for me. I’m imagining it at a gig – a real jumping track, I think!

Matchlight video:

Next up is the first single from the new album, “Over Bar the Shouting”, which will be available on 31st March 2014 via all the usual suspects, but you can have a sneaky listen right here, right now!

It’s a fusion of indie, rock and folk – the latter dimension provided by addition of some rather lovely vocals belonging to Louise Connor – I’m loving this track! There will be a single launch on 4th April in Grimsby – I don’t mind betting there will be some previews of songs from “Reason & Rhyme”, so I suggest you get down there for what promises to be a special night with these guys!

Every song on the album is a favourite in its own way. “Prizefighter & the Priest” has some really nice guitar work on it – I also really love the pace changes, and the way it just disappears at the end. The “Price of Petrol” showcases Bywater’s vocals and lyrics – it’s beautifully put together, it’s an absolute delight of a song that will have an entire crowd singing along to it.

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“Middle Name” brings the tempo right back up – it’s a proper indie tune, this is! Next up is “Strength For the Fight” – I rate the vocal on this very highly – Rob’s voice is at its strongest here, and I totally love the bass!

The penultimate track, “Lost”, is absolutely rocking! This is probably the most anthemic tune on the album, and is what has me dancing in my living room at such an early hour! Brilliant! Last up is “The Long Way Home”, an uplifting, exhilarating, brighten up your day type folk/indie song, and a perfect end to what is a truly awesome album.

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The Finest Hour are:

Rob Bywater: vocals, guitars, acoustic guitars & percussion
Sam Simmons: vocals, guitars, acoustic guitars & percussion
Craig Cox: bass guitar
Luke Whotton: drums
Patrick Blakey: vocals, acoustic guitar & percussion

Contact The Finest Hour here:

Twitter

Facebook

Bandcamp

YouTube

Soundcloud

Dots Jukebox: Toys and Games 14 March 2014

toys and games

 

Artist Song Suggested by
The Hellacopters Toys and Flavours @instantkarma80
Motörhead Ace of Spades @laugharne71
Aerosmith Toys in the Attic @peterminihane @stamfordcowboy
The Skids Circus Games @realpaulmurray
The Fall Kick the Can @contra_flow
Hole Doll Parts @paulie9461
Frank Black Whatever Happened to Pong? @sadpad21
The Mel-O-tones I Walked With a Bugs Bunny Bendy Toy @ianfurgie
Pylon Yo-Yo @chasethegroove
Gentle Giant Playing the Game @heliumdelirium
Arab Strap Toy Fights @pswood3
Hexstatic Toys Are Us @wottaplava
Mountain Goats Thank You Mario But Our Princess is in Another Castle @maffrj
Admiral Fallow Subbuteo @vaguemclarity
Four Seasons Rag Doll @skylarkingmatt
Yardbirds Little Games @carldogwalker
Sandie Shaw Puppet on a String @rud1973 @trish_savine
Martika Toy Soldiers @arihat_ @jamescollingwo1
Kate Rusby Game of All Fours @gryfffez
Mark Lanegan Solitaire @ackleite
Gulp Play @clairhorne
Micah P Hinson Patience @cavedweller71
The Cardigans My Favourite Game @n1ckbab3r @thezanussi
Wire Kidney Bingos @damjef
R.E.M. Endgame @hollowmandan
Al Stewart Paint By Numbers @mobilemole59
XTC Happy Families @now_playing_72
Peter Gabriel Games Without Frontiers @jeremy_2566 @substandardnerd @lennybun @iancpeacock @sparkypatrick
David Bowie It’s No Game @hodge_nufc
Pink Floyd See Emily Play @vicaviber

SONG OF THE WEEK: