Album Review: The Virginmarys – Divides (reviewed by Steve Rodriguez) @thevirginmarys

The Virginmarys – Divides – review written by Steve Rodriguez

1. Push the Pedal

2. For you my Love

3. Halo in her Silhouette

4. Free to do Whatever they Say

5. I Wanna Take You Home

6. Walk in my Shoes

7. Kill the Messenger

8. Into Dust

9. Moths to a Flame

10. Falling Down

11. Motherless Land

12. Living in my Peace

The Macclesfield trio’s second studio album to follow up 2013’s King Of Conflict. Divides was released 6th May 2016 on Cooking Vinyl.

The Virginmarys are: Ally Dickaty (lead vocals / guitar), Danny Dolan (drums / backing vocals), and newly recruited Ross (bass / backing vocals).

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It’s all too easy to pigeonhole bands into a particular genre and if you can’t find one then you make one up. Nu Metal, Punk Pop, Hardcore, Industrial . . . . etc. etc. For The Virginmarys, you could try and stick them in a category, or make one up, or just accept that they really do have a bit of everything going on and are very very good at doing it.

Push the Pedal kicks off this album and on the sound of the dirty bass intro you start to think it’s 1992 and Layne Staley is still alive, then, the drums and a vocal echo enters the fray and you’re in 1996 and listening to a new Oasis track. Precisely why this band can’t, and shouldn’t be, categorised. It’s a powerful guitar drum and bass driven track, but what would you expect from a 3 piece, and Ally gives it the rasping, powerful vocal treatment it deserves. In a very unsubtle way, it says play this album on 11 . . .

For you my Love follows where Push the Pedal left off but is more of an instant hit with an almost Flea/Frusciante intro and a Stipe vocal over the top. This quickly gives way to the more familiar vocal sound and again it’s a powerful riff driven track that keeps the album driving forward purposefully.

Halo in Her Silhouette is the most sing-a-long track so far and you just knew that chorus line was going to repeat in that tried and tested late 70’s punk style. Don’t be lead down a path of thinking this band are a 3 piece punk outfit pulling a 3 chord trick from their sleeve at every opportunity though, there’s a lot more going on here and it’s another affirmation that this band cover pretty much all musical bases.

More punk style sounds ensue on the next track, Free To Do Whatever They Say, with a snarling, spitting vocal and guitar fuelled intro that builds into a bridge and chorus with some perfectly placed repeated backing vocals. It’s a chant, a probable crowd pleaser and again has all the energy that the first 3 tracks set the bar for.

The energy doesn’t subside on I Wanna Take You Home, but things do slow down a little here and enables Walk In My Shoes to follow with it’s more sombre and deep feel. The piano comes to the fore much more prominently this time and compliments the almost haunting backing vocals perfectly.

Kill The Messenger keeps the keyboard but layers of distorted guitar and bass ride over the top and makes for a Pink Floyd-esque sound with it’s low chord changes ebbing and flowing through the chorus line of the song.

Although there’s a hell of a lot of energy in this album the band resist the obvious temptation to be more crude with their language and instead express their lyrics in a much more subtle and well crafted fashion. It’s a surprise then when Into Dust starts with the F word in the second line. This is not the recurring theme of the song however and it quickly develops into familiar expressive and well crafted lyrics.

Moths To A Flame is arguably the album’s standout track and sometimes it’s easy to forget this is a three piece band when you hear such a vast, complex sound all rolled into one song. It has emotion and expression in abundance and this carries throughout the whole track from the Kings Of Leon sounding intro to the Biffy Clyro-esque ending.

Sandwiched between Into Dust and Falling Down, Moths To A Flame would possibly sound completely out of place on any other album, but, as The Virginmarys have so many influences to draw from it’s no surprise that Falling Down starts with a vocal that’s everything Mick Jones in both its sound and delivery. More proof that not only the band have a range of sounds but Ally is equally adept at displaying his own vocal range to suit the songs, lines, syllables . . .

Motherless Land is a nostalgic trip back to the early 80’s and if John Cougar or Springsteen had written this one then we wouldn’t bat an eyelid, although neither do we here and instead get caught up in the story of the song, listening intently as it builds and builds to a crescendo, a well placed clean sounding guitar solo and a very fitting sudden ending.

If Moths To A Flame was arguably the album’s standout track then it would be fighting with Living In My Peace for the title, and it would be a closely run thing. The album’s closing track, draws on everything that’s gone before, energy, haunting backing vocals, a big vocal range, guitar driven melodies with pounding drum fills and beats and an emotive, expansive and atmospheric crescendo. It typically rises and rises then drops in that well fitting sudden ending to leave you thinking about what may have happened next.

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If you’re a fan of music, listen to this album because I really think there’s something here for everyone and you won’t be disappointed. The north west seems to give us a lot of very respectable bands and The Virginmarys although not the typical shoe-gazing, jangly-sounding 60’s influenced mods that we’ve become accustomed to seeing from this neck of the woods, they can undoubtedly claim to be part of the club if they wanted to, but then again they’re likely to be perfectly at home being slightly different, and not in any way pigeonholed . . .

* Photos are from Ally’s recent gig in Peterborough as part of The Virginmarys’ People Help the People tour in aid of local food banks. Photos taken by and copyright to Fi Stimpson.

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Album Review by @SteveRodz :Ebbot Lundberg and the Indigo Children – For the Ages to Come @WebbotEbbot

Ebbot Lundberg and the Indigo Children – For the Ages to Come

Words: Steve Rodriguez

Release Date: Friday 2nd December 16

Track listing:

  1. For the Ages to Come
  2. Backdrop People
  3. Beneath the Winding Waterway
  4. In Subliminal Clouds
  5. Drowning in a Wishing Well
  6. Don’t Blow Your Mind
  7. I See Forever
  8. Calling from Heaven
  9. Little Big Thing
  10. To Be continued

The former The Soundtrack of Our Lives (TSOOL) and Union Carbide frontman teams up with The Indigo Children and serves us up some 60s psych-pop / rock with a small dose of 70s prog. This is an album that takes you on a musical journey full of jangling guitars and lilting melodies, wakes you up half way, and then slowly calms you down again with the most perfect vocals and expertly crafted songs.

Ebbot Lundberg has been away a little while but this is now proof that he hasn’t disappeared and is still doing what he does best.

The 60s psychedelia comes to the fore instantly on the album’s opening and title track. For the Ages to Come is a Syd Barrett Pink Floydesque offering (Arnold Layne and See Emily Play immediately spring to mind here) and shows just how versatile Lundberg’s vocals can be. In fact, there is probably no coincidence that “Arnold Layne” has been a regular on his live set over the past couple of years and by all accounts has had a very raucous make-over, and just as raucous a reception.

Backdrop People and Beneath the Winding Waterway are next up and both are a familiar sound as more 60s psych and vocal harmony combine to great effect leading you into the calm and melodic In Subliminal Clouds – chock full of instrumental interludes where a new sound seems to join the party each time.

Drowning in a Wishing Well blends acoustic guitar and vocal harmonies and is nowhere near as dark as the title would suggest. In fact, quite the opposite thanks to the brass and upbeat drums on the chorus giving it a positive and meaningful stride onwards into the albums main body.

The tracks on For the Ages to Come are arguably only subtly, but adequately different, until now when Don’t Blow Your Mind shatters the calmness with a huge guitar driven 70s style rock riff and vocal and almost prog-rock soloing. This is the stand out track here and will satisfy those of you that like your music to have a more raucous nature.

I See Forever is a more experimental affair and almost haunting with its synth undertone and repeating of the song title lyrics, and it is every bit as encapsulating and moving as those before.

The musical journey then continues its calmness once more to its more recognisable state on Calling from Heaven and Little Big Thing where the 60s psych pop and vocal harmonies are here again in abundance.

Closing track To Be Continued begins with a plugged in, but not over-powering guitar melody that more accessible 60s influenced pop / indie artists Lee Mavers and James Skelly would have been proud of; and Ebbot’s vocals blend in seamlessly over the top catching your ear instantly. It rises to a crescendo of bass, guitar, piano and an almost marching drum beat.

For the Ages to Come is an album that creates an expansive and complex sound with perfectly matching vocals and production and makes you really want to listen. Fans of TSOOL would have undoubtedly been disappointed when they called it a day, but if this is the soundtrack of Ebbot Lundberg for the foreseeable future then I would guess it is a more than adequate trade-off.

Upcoming shows:

01/12 (DE) Bielefeld Forum

02/12 (DE) Hamburg, Molotow/Skybar – TICKETS HERE 

03/12 (NL) Nijmegen, Marleyn, Doornrossje – TICKETS HERE

04/12 (UK) London, Upstairs at the Garage – TICKETS HERE

Album Review: Soviet Films – “Cetacean”@sovietfilmsband #NewMusic #MusicIsEverything

It’s been over two years since Soviet Films released their debut album, “Victory Songs”. At last they’re back with their second album, “Cetacean” (definition: an aquatic, mainly marine mammal eg a whale or dolphin).

In the past couple of years or so, these guys seem to have been working on a stronger sound. They’ve also had a bit of a band re-shuffle, with Andy now on bass and Lee on guitar.

The album kicks off with a lovely, dynamic instrumental track, “The Flow” – it made me think they’d had a serious change of direction, until the next tune commenced…

“Kraken” brings the mix of brash, occasionally nu-metal style vocals and layered melody that is so reminiscent of the previous record. I’m listening on an afternoon overtaken by a particularly impressive thunderstorm, and it fits the mood perfectly.

Next up is “Barrow, AK”. This song provides a multitude of contrasting sounds which enthral the ears and vocal harmonies galore. I love this band’s penchant for what they describe as random time signatures – that’s not easy to pull off, but to me it sounds excellent.

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“Brace Position” is a bit more of a tough sell, but is guitar rich and has a tight sound. I like the little guitar nuances about half way through the track, but for me the rest of the album demonstrates more complexities which I think suit their sound more.

The penultimate song, “Loomings”, is one of those songs that pleasantly washes over the listener. It has a more mellow feel than the rest of the album, despite the heavier elements of the tune.

Instrumental track “The Ebb” completes the album beautifully and accurately showcases what Soviet Films are all about. It also leaves an impression that there is much more to come.

Soviet Films

With just the right levels of wandering into new territory and staying in a familiar place, I’m looking forward to hearing what they do during the next moves in their journey.

Soviet Films are:

Mud – Vocals/Guitar
Lee – Guitar/Vocals
Peter – Drums/Vocals
Andy – Bass

You can buy the album on Bandcamp or iTunes and follow the band’s goings on using Twitter and Facebook.

Album Review: @Telemanmusic – “Brilliant Sanity”@moshimoshimusic #Teleman #BrilliantSanity #MoshiMoshiRecords

Teleman caused quite a stir with their debut album “Breakfast” in 2014. Kooky melodies and fluent harmonies co-starred alongside tender, emotive compositions, and in its entirety became an irresistible, intricate creation.

Although I adore that album, I have nevertheless been keenly anticipating something new from Teleman for some time now. I was, therefore, overjoyed when their new album “Brilliant Sanity” landed in my email inbox. There was also a slight amount of apprehension – I hoped that this new album would at the very least match the endearing qualities that “Breakfast” possesses, but also that it would show progression and growth.

Written in their Homerton studio and recorded in South London with producer Dan Carey (who has worked with artists such as Bat for Lashes, Kate Tempest and Nick Mulvey), Teleman approached “Brilliant Sanity” from a different angle, with the desire to bring songwriting to the fore being the motivation for the album. Carey brought a new perspective, too, encouraging the band to incorporate the fundamental synthesiser sounds of the Mellotron, the Roland Jupiter and the Korg Trident. This new outlook and opportunity to experiment was grasped immediately, providing the guys with the ability to be uninhibited in turning their vision into something tangible.

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Album opener “Dusseldorf” has whimsical, eccentric pop moves reminiscent of the likes of A-ha, and shoe-horns in a Pet Shop Boy here and there. It’s almost disorientating in its electronic dreaminess.

This takes us effortlessly into the next track, “Fall in Time”, which consists of curious, poetic lyrics sensitively placed within an understated, elegant tune and wistful harmonies.

The standout track from the album for me is “Glory Hallelujah”. A rousing but ever-so slightly dark tune coupled with a certain bitterness and regret lyrically. Very clever, and definitely my kind of thing.

Collectively, these songs give me an image of Weezer fumbling around a synthesiser shop whilst co-existing with New Order and harnessing a sanitised 21st century Gary Newman sensibility. At the same time, they’ve yet again skilfully avoided coming across as twee or nursery rhyme like, which is always a risk with sweet sounding vocals and music.

“Tangerine” is another work of genius – keyboards emanating Ancient Chinese sounding music (I like to think they had a Guzheng in the studio) with a sumptuous, rich bassline and perfect interjections of electronica. Sublime.

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“Brilliant Sanity” is chock full of lush soundscapes, with snifters of Kraftwerk at times and sounds sentimentally akin to Sgt. Pepper’s era Beatles at other points. In their recording breaks, Teleman made for the roof and used Dan’s telescope to set their eyes upon the night sky. “It had,” Sanders says, “a very calming and settling influence.” This is evident in the new music, where there is both an angelic innocence and a mature space surrounding each song. It has met, nay exceeded, all of my expectations.

“Brilliant Sanity” will be released on 8th April via Moshi Moshi Records, and you can pre-order it here with an instant download of “Dusseldorf” and “Fall in Time”.

Teleman are currently touring – click here to grab tickets to one of the following shows:

2016 UK Tour
Saturday 2nd April – Wardrobe, Leeds^
Sunday 3rd April – Think Tank, Newcastle^
Monday 4th April – King Tuts, Glasgow^
Tuesday 5th April – Gorilla, Manchester^
Thursday 7th April – Sugarmill, Stoke^
Friday 8th April – Rainbow, Birmingham*
Saturday 9th April – Portland Arms, Cambridge*
Monday 11th April – Open, Norwich^
Tuesday 12th April – Bodega, Nottingham^
Wednesday 13th April – Old Market, Brighton^
Thursday 14th April – Koko, London^
Friday 15th April – Marble Factory, Bristol^
Monday 18th April – Point Ephemere, Paris
Tuesday 19th April – La Peniche, Lille
Friday 22nd April – Paradiso, Amsterdam
Saturday 23rd April – Molotow, Hamburg
Sunday 24th April – Vega Ideal Bar, Copenhagen
Monday 25th April – Privatclub, Berlin
Tuesday 26th Aprlil – Strom, Munich
Thursday 28th April – Chelsea, Vienna
Friday 29th April – Tender Club, Florence
Saturday 30th April – Covo Club, Bologna
Sunday 1st May – Splashdown Festival, Pesaro
Tuesday 3rd May – Ziegel Oh Lac, Zurich
Wednesday 4th May – La Graviere, Geneva
19 – 21st May – The Great Escape, Brighton
27 – 29 – Scarborough Scarborough Fair Arts & Music

* Oscar supports
^ NZCA Lines supports

You can follow Teleman on Twitter and Facebook.

Album Review: Meilyr Jones – 2013 @meilyrjones #MusicIsEverything

 

Meilyr Jones – 2013

I get the feeling that Meilyr Jones doesn’t care what anyone thinks. Like most people, he’s had his fair share of heartache, but he’s gone away, created exactly what he felt inclined to and has come back brighter. With an entire album in tow. That’s no mean feat when you’re dealing with the sorrow surrounding both a band and a relationship breakup.

“2013” is Meilyr’s debut album (out now on Moshi Moshi Records) and has been released following a string of notable support slots and a few festival dates, for which he has received much positivity from punters and pundits alike. Incidentally, I saw him when he supported Richard Hawley in Cambridge – I had never heard of him before that night, and was absolutely mesmerised by his musical versatility and struck by his genial manner and his humour. I went away knowing I would be procuring his music.

I could make all sorts of comparisons about Meilyr to a variety of musicians past and present, but the truth is that this gentleman is altogether unique. He has produced an album which could easily be transferred to theatre or film as the soundtrack to a story of love, heartbreak and the return to a healed mind and heart. The album in its entirety has a dramatic structure and a storyboard in which I became immersed from the very first note.

I’m struggling to write about this music without showing my emotions. I can identify with so much of what Jones sings about, to the extent that I was reduced to tears whilst listening to “Love” and “Featured Artist”. I don’t know whether it was his words, or his heartfelt manner, or the fact he is entrusting us to listen to his innermost thoughts with no fear and without a murmur of wanting anything in return but whatever it is, this music has evoked sentimentality in my ice cold heart.

Jones’ music is indefinable. He enlisted an orchestra and recorded live with them, bringing in extra breadth by including a harpsichord and a recorder in the mix.

He also experiments on “Rain in Rome” – stunning vocals that conjure an image of being on a Hawaiian beach are rapidly overcome by the sounds of a thunderstorm, which is met with rapturous cheers and applause by a crowd we didn’t even know was there. This could have been considered a bit twee and unnecessary, but I think it provides an insight into just a few moments of Meilyr’s time in Rome. Without wanting to read between the lines too much, maybe he’s telling us about something beautiful which can quickly meet with disaster, but that we can see beauty and amusement within the things that don’t go our way. Maybe it’s ok for me to believe that, even if I am over-thinking things. After all, perception of art is a very personal thing.

I’ve been waiting for someone to come along who isn’t afraid of doing something a little bit different to express themselves. A new perspective is inspirational in itself, and if we can all learn something from the way Jones dealt with his difficulties, then perhaps it can be as simple as the words he beings with in the uncommonly eloquent “Refugees”:

“Get up, switch off, switch off your television.”

Album review: Lust for Youth – “Compassion”. @Lust4Youth #MusicIsEverything

Lust for Youth – Compassion

Scrupulously clean synths with those fashionable in the 80s thick, suppressed vocals – think Dave Gahan, Jaz Coleman, Bernard Sumner… if that’s your thing, then maybe, just maybe, Lust for Youth will be right up your street.

With their new album “Compassion”, they somehow manage to fuse ambient, post-punk and dance music whilst simultaneously veer between feelings of ecstasy and melancholy.

Easing us into the album, “Stardom” is an effortless listen reminiscent of a time when music was shocking in its unprecedented uniqueness. This band is undeniably influenced by the likes of New Order and M83, and there are definite nods to these celebrated masters of all things electronica.

“Sudden Ambitions” feels delicate and weightless, but on the other hand is brooding and profound lyrically. The vocal layers are beautifully put together, and are positioned carefully amongst buoyant yet ethereal melodies.

The bewitching “Better Looking Brother” resonates with my every day thoughts, and the wistful tones of “Display” is a veritable pillar of strength.

“Compassion” is a single shining star on the darkest of nights.