Back in 2013 New York based reggae brotherhood New Kingston made waves with the release of the acclaimed Kingston University album and following on that success the trio have recently inked a deal with reggae powerhouse label, Easy Star Records for the release of their follow up, Kingston City. On the new album, the band weld together a combination of roots reggae, rocksteady and dancehall vibes to create a varied and infectious take on the reggae genre as they look to continue their uprising.
27 March, 2015
23 March, 2015
The Woo Town Hillbillies are a ramshackle musical collective residing in and around Worcester (or Woo Town, if you’re a local), uniting a combination of bluegrass, country and acoustic blues in a bid to become the counties (and beyond) ultimate roots party band and on the evidence of their debut album, Hay Fever they can’t be too far off.
The band use a combination of guitar, mandolin, banjo, ukulele, double bass, harmonica, various percussion instruments and Kazoo to create an infectious, tongue in cheek, rustic riot, that’ll have even the most hardened cynic smiling like a cheshire cat whilst, trying in vein, to stop their foot tapping along.
Hay Fever opens with On The Road Again, a glorious collision of country blues and rock n roll, complete with twanging strings, rolling double bass, kazoo, washboard and a delightfully weathered yet infectious lead vocal that hooks you in from the off.
As the album continues the band showcase a varied array of influences, Dartmoor Girl could be the illegitimate son of Hayseed Dixie and The Beach Boys uniting frolicking banjo with sun-kissed harmonies, Do You, Do I? sounds like it could have been lifted from Blue Hawaii or from the Doc Pomus (Teenager In Love Fame) songbook as a lovely laid-back 50’s pastiche, Oval Room showcases the band’s instrumental skills with a brilliant slice of deep country blues noir, whilst both 4 A.M Girl and (the album’s lone cover) Salty Dog are both lusty, swaggering anthems perfect for a bar full of jubilant half cut punters in search for a good old sing-song.
Hay Fever is a fun fueled album full of bawdy country, good time roots, heartfelt sing-a-longs and more hooks than the Spanish Armada. Glug a beaker of moonshine, kick off them shoes and join the hillbillies, its party time in Woo Town.
Rhythm & Booze Rating 9
Catch The Woo Town Hillbillies Live In The Woo
10th April-Cap & Gown
18th-Cathedral Chaos with The Delray Rockets, Nigel Clark and Skewwhiff
25th-Rise Records CD Launch
20 March, 2015
Paul Jeffery is a singer-songwriter who’s been performing in and around Worcester for a number of years, either as the frontman of The Players, Gandhi’s Walrus or as a solo performer, in each of those guises Paul welds a number of different influences and styles to create a unique and at times off-kilter sound, his guitar tuning often suggests a love of jazz and folk, whilst his distinct vocals emphasis an affinity to the eccentric, maverick ends of the musical spectrum.
The opening number, Placing An Imaginary Hat Upon The Invisible Statue Of John Fahey, is as you’d imagine (if you know anything about John Fahey) a short, yet impressive instrumental piece complete, showcasing Paul’s deft fingerpicking, it’s a nice, lulling acoustic jazz-folk number that sets a gentle, calming mood, which he continues on the equally relaxed Believe, adding his unique croon to the mix whilst his fingers nimbly wander over his acoustics strings, creating a rather nice lament.
Hymn Number Thirty Three And A Third could be a direct continuation (or homage) of the previous track, sure, there’s nice finger picking involved again, but there’s not enough variation to really stand out from the proceeding number and Paul’s vocal limitations work against him as he seems to unable to lift the number. Whilst a track like Broken Boat, which is a nice enough ode to a now depleted vessel, rather meanders a little longer than necessary, without really ever peaking.
On a more positive note the album’s second instrumental number, The Town At Twilight, once again proves Paul’s worth on the guitar and the sudden time change to an almost bluesy feel adds something of a different dimension to Paul’s sound. Whilst Zimmermania is a stronger folky number with Holly Daffurn’s mournful cello adding to the mood, whilst Paul’s voice sounds better the further he moves through the gears.
And then frustratingly there are those tracks that have promising moments, that for me, are never fully realised, Kerfuffle has a tasty piece of blues slide guitar but then instead of concentrating on that element he can’t help disappearing into another tangent and perhaps over egging the pudding, whilst Golden Flower only takes off towards the end when Paul’s harmonica kicks in, leaving you with the feeling that if Paul perhaps reined it in a little, he could produce something more consistent and user friendly.
I guess the enjoyment of Cuttings From Don Quixote’s Neglected Garden would hinder on what you’re looking for, if you want a big sing-a-long, I suggest you look elsewhere, however if you’re partial to something a little more maverick then there’s a great deal to admire, the guitar work is outstanding throughout and there are genuine standout moments such as the aforementioned Zimmermania, but over the course of an album, I did find myself craving for that all elusive hook.
Paul Jeffery, will be showcasing the album live at the Arts Workshop along with Paul J Rose and Jenny Ludlow at the Arts Workshop on April 24th.
19 March, 2015
Cameron Blake is a Michigan based troubadour, who first hit the trail back in 2009 and since then has released three studio albums and one live, whilst enhancing his reputation as something of a poetic wordsmith that takes his cues from the likes of Nick Drake, Dylan and Guthrie among others.
Alone On The World Stage is a somewhat aptly name album, as Cameron presents his heartfelt laments with just his trusty acoustic guitar (and the occasional piano) for company, which not only allows each song to breathe but also focuses on his poetic musings. However the lone troubadour role is something of a double edged sword, yes the stripped down nature focuses the attention on the lyrics and songcraft, but also in the case of a lot of songwriters, an album of this nature can become a little samey, with a need of a bit of fleshing out. Cameron manages to negate the problem by crafting instantly infectious melodies, compelling stories that are all topped off with Cameron’s beautiful aching and expressive vocal that brings each song to live.
The album opens with the mesmeric Rise And Shine, a song that deals with the difficulties in Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Cameron’s lyrics draw the listener in, whilst his voice manages to convey passion and sorrow in equal measure and despite the heavy subject matter Cameron also manages to weave a contagious vocal hook into the proceedings.
From such an impressive opening number, Cameron continues to captivate with a matters of the heart lament in the form of Fireman Snowman, delivering a glorious croon over deft finger picking. The album continues in much the same manner, from the socially conscious highs and lows of North Dakota Oil and the moral decay and strum of Detroit (written around the aftermath of Detroit’s financial bankruptcy) to tales of drinking in Piccadilly Circus, reflection (on the piano led Home Movie and drama of Kabuki Theatre) and the beautiful wonders of child birth (Ultrasound).
Cameron’s songs, both global, social commentary and personal, bewitch from start to finish. His musings are evocative and heartfelt, whilst his stirring vocals yank at the heartstrings or create vivid imagery. Alone On The World Stage is an incredible example of less is more, a stripped down album that grabs at the attention and doesn’t let go until the final strummed chord.
Rhythm & Booze Rating 9
10 March, 2015
Searching For The Supertruth is the second album by Oxfordshire based The Dreaming Spires (Robin and Joe Bennett), following on from the critically acclaimed debut, Brothers In Brooklyn, an album that further enhances the duo’s cosmic sound to incorporate indie, roots, harmony enriched 60’s pop and beyond, to create something that’s both timeless and yet somehow new.
The album opens in style with the mesmeric, Still Believe In You, a shimmering slice of cosmic swirling indie, complimented by brothers rich Byrds like harmonies and a lifting psychedelic pop melody that instantly grabs for attention, bringing to mind the likes of Tame Impala, or perhaps a 60’s west coast version of the Flaming Lips. The opening track instantly segues into the gorgeous, strummed acoustic and rolling drums intro of All Kinds Of People, before developing into a glorious widescreen combination of Americana and shimmering indie.
Strange Glue sees The Dreaming Spires change direction to deliver a hook-laden power-pop anthem, complete with an addictive vocal refrain and infectious fuzzy guitar riffs aplenty, creating a buzzing alternative pop anthem that could have been ripped from the annuals of Apples In Stereo (high praise indeed).
Further album highlights include the sun-kissed, pedal steel assisted, Americana groove of Easy Rider, the aching country of We Used To Have Parties, featuring the beautiful vocal harmonies of Sarah Cracknell (St Etienne) and the majestic seven minute finale, So Pretty with it’s simplistic piano motif, sawing violin (courtesy of Jackie Oakes) and Robin’s gorgeous vocal drawl.
Searching For The Supertruth is one of those rare albums that you find yourself surrendering to, an album that deserves total immersion, sure there are obvious hooks on the likes of Strange Glue and the funky When The Magic Comes, but there’s also a rich tapestry of layers waiting to be discovered on the aforementioned So Pretty, All Kinds Of People, etc. The Dreaming Spires have crafted a majestic and inventive album that straddles genres and magnificently ignores trends, an album to sit back and saviour.
Rhythm & Booze Rating 9