Hayley Thompson-King “Psychotic Melancholia, Hard To Kill Records, 2017

It is only with the closing track here that you’d know that HTK is a trained opera singer, the rest of the time she is belting out garage rock like No Room for Jesus or immersing herself in good old country music as on her straight-ahead take on Old Flames Can’t Hold a Candle to You. Whatever she does, she does with conviction, never shying away from raw emotion; whether it’s the Breeder’s like Teratoma or the feral rock and roll of Lot’s Wife, she doesn’t mind shredding her vocal chords for the cause. Continue reading “Hayley Thompson-King “Psychotic Melancholia, Hard To Kill Records, 2017”

The Deep Dark Woods “Yarrow” Six Shooter Records, 2017

These are the same deep dark woods that the Handsome Family walk through combing for tales of mealy bugs or familial murder. On Fallen Leaves, Ryan Boldt does a passable impersonation of Brett with his sonorous voice intoning a tale told in images that seem cut and pasted from the Handsome’s songbook, natural imagery and unnatural death. An atmosphere of foreboding penetrates Deep Flooding Waters, the pace suggesting that the flooding is incremental, death by inches, the steel guitar solo passing by like flotsam bobbing on the surface whilst down below the tragedy unfolds. Continue reading “The Deep Dark Woods “Yarrow” Six Shooter Records, 2017”

J Roddy Walston & The Business “Destroyers of the Soft Life” (ATO Records, 2017)

Despite a passing resemblance to The Kings of Leon, Walston and his cohorts lay down a high-energy rollicking version of rock and roll. An unabashed, unashamed assault, always pushing melodies to the front, the guitars always moving forwards, the vocals a tuneful yelp – it’s a vinyl version of poppers. You Know Me Better or Numbers both rush out of the blocks like an untamed bronco, wrestled by Walton’s vocals into a bucking rousing beast of a song. Continue reading “J Roddy Walston & The Business “Destroyers of the Soft Life” (ATO Records, 2017)”

The New Faith “Me On You” (Faith Healer Records, 2017)

Big sounding records sometimes bully me into submission and the sheer force of the music carries me along. Pete Wylie was like that, a wave of infectious exuberance, with tunes. Then there are more modern exponents like Doves or Elbow who fill their records with anthemic songs that leave me anchored to the spot. The New Faith aim big by piling on choirs, orchestras, brass, building the songs full of architectural detail.  Choruses have to explode, everything fits into place, all managed with precision – chance plays no part in construction, as though as much thought goes into the Gantt charts as the end product. Continue reading “The New Faith “Me On You” (Faith Healer Records, 2017)”

House Above The Sun “Five Hours North” (HATS Music, 2017)

HATS are a celebratory kind of a band; their music rings with the joy of making music, not the artistic struggle. The songs don’t sound like they were wrung from a tormented soul, more like they escaped like blissful bursts of inspiration. They’re an Americana band, blending most of the touchstones, corralling folk, blues, country and rock. Footsteps relies on acoustic guitar and harmonies to gain a foothold, gradually introducing the piano, electric guitars and drums with a relaxed easy charm that is infectious. Continue reading “House Above The Sun “Five Hours North” (HATS Music, 2017)”

Charles Douglas “Statecraft – Expanded Edition” (Broken Horse, 2017)

I’m not going to spend much time reviewing the original Statecraft songs, it’s a record that I’d expect any self-respecting music fan to own. I know the songs inside out and expect you to too, but it was a massive pleasure having to listen to them again. For me Douglas is a mixture of Robert Pollard, David Berman, Lou Barlow, FM Cornog and Jonathan Richman, could’ve, maybe should’ve been huge but an ornery attitude and an aversion to playing live did for him. It’s down to the good folks at Broken Horse who have been persevering with these reissues that his name is back on the radar. Here we get 19 additional tracks culled from the same sessions as the main album and featuring Joey Santiago (The Pixies) on most tracks. Continue reading “Charles Douglas “Statecraft – Expanded Edition” (Broken Horse, 2017)”

The Burning Hell “Revival Beach” (BB*ISLAND, 2017)

It’s the apocalypse, how did it happen? Well this portmanteau from the ever reliable Burning Hell approaches it (the end of the world as we know it) from multiple angles drawing out the humour, the tiny individual tragedies and the sheer banality of the world ending without announcement, life just stopping. TBH have never stood still and on this eighth full length they’re down to a trio but the musical boundaries continue to expand, from the storytelling of Nurse & Patient to the clarinet and bouzouki led Race to Revival Beach. There are reminders of their agit-folk roots with Friend Army, which somehow makes me think of Orange Juice. Continue reading “The Burning Hell “Revival Beach” (BB*ISLAND, 2017)”