Sunday, 31 August 2014

Richard Earls/Thierry Audousset - Older, Wiser, Harder

OLDER WISER HARDER : CD Volume One  Before That Long Hot Summer
Sin-day. The day that really feels like it's kicking you in the nadgers as we wait for the new week to creep up, goosing us in the shower when we least expect it.

What can I offer you to make the pain of the weekend go away? Well, I can offer you this...


Eagle eyed followers of the blog will remember quite some time ago I posted about a sampler EP from the frankly marvellous Richard Earls and Thierry Audousset - which, if you'd like a refresher, in case you've forgotten, you can read about here. Richard said he would be back in touch to let me know when the EP was fully ready to be released and true to his word, he was - and here is my review (Richard, I'm sorry it took so long, better late than never!!)

First of all, the necessaries - if you'd like to buy the CD then you can go to this linky here and maketh your purchase thereof:

The sampler EP I received was beautiful, and I remember the beautifully melodic and intricate "Expressionless" as my standout track. Again, here, in the finished recording it remains so. The haunting piano combines with a vocal performance that starts out gently lulling and breaks into something quite powerful and moving. The main difference between that and this final release of course is that the tracks are mastered and polished now - though it does not detract from their simple beauty.

There is a nice mixture of styles, themes and ideas on here and it feels like there will be something to interest you whether you like pop, indie, ballads - or genuine, honest to goodness decent pop music. Lyrically, the duo offer a gentle kind of moroseness (if that is possible!) and there is a downbeat feel to the music - however, it does not turn the songs into depressing paeans at all, rather they remain very moving and thought provoking instead.

This is a welcome collection of songs - of which I hope there will be more to come and I heartily recommend you add this to your collections pronto.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Tusk - We Found Gold

We Found Gold cover art

Well, here I am again and it's with a really heavy heart that I make this post. Earlier this year my favourite wee record label Tiny Lights ceased to be - that was bad enough, because it followed on from the demise of one of my best kept little secrets Blank Maps. I'm still really really sore about it. I think my friends are getting a bit fed up of me going on and on. At the time they consoled me and said "Never mind, you've still got Tusk. It'll all be OK, you've still got Tusk". But after a while they got bored and went back to talking about nail varnish and Ryvita and stuff.

Gentle reader, I believed them. I carried that Tusk reassurance with me. It was the one flicker that kept me going.

A few weeks ago they announced that their lovely lead singer Tom (lovely lovely Tom) was leaving - but that they'd carry on as a three piece and some new material would be out soon.

So I was thrilled to bits to find out on Monday that it was finally released - in fact here's the link to their bandcamp page:

But hark. Read on. What is THIS? OH GOD NO. It cannot BE. NO. SAY IT ISN'T TRUE.

It is.

Tusk are no more. "We Found Gold" is their final recording and they are no more. I'm afraid this was too much for me. I've been in bed with a fit of the vapours ever since.

OK, to be serious for a moment - I genuinely am very sad. These lads have been a big part of my musical life the last two and a bit years. I've truly loved their songs, their music and their sparky brilliance - not to mention their dry wit and urbane lyrics. Aside from that, they're a really lovely group, proper nice blokes - and I've felt really chuffed to have made their acquaintance and seen them develop.

It kind of feels a bit weird to be making my first full length review of their stuff, just as they're splitting - but at the time they had their last EP out, this blog was on hiatus and I wasn't writing. Now I'm back and in the groove, they're saying goodbye! Something's not right there somewhere!

"We Found Gold" is a really lovely way to bow out. I can't really say much more than that. It's two songs of chippy, chirpy, dubby aceness. Even if this is the first time you've heard of them, right now, this minute, you can't really have a better place to start - once you've listened, get their back catalogue. That's an order.

Whether they're just being bloody funny (you can't not love a band that has a song called "Chief Kegwin") or whether they're paying cheeky nods to their favourite dark comedies (see their last EP "Interrobang" and the Snuffbox song "Don't Wake Quickfinch") they always offered something that bit different. I think that was why I loved them so much. They didn't really bear comparison with anyone else - they mixed up their styles and it always worked. A little oasis of aceness in a big ocean of bland.

I hope that this isn't the end and that in some way, shape or form we'll see Tom, Jonathan, Andy and Sam carry on in music - but for now it just remains for me to thank them for some beautiful tunes and good laughs. Love and good vibes to you all. It's been ace getting to know you.

The August List - Cut Yr Teeth

Cut Yr Teeth / Red Light On The Tower cover art

It's been over a month. I can only apologise to my one reader. "I'm sorry, darling". There. Now it's all OK again.

My absence from the blogosphere can be easily explained - but I'll keep you guessing as to where I've been. I'll simply tell you a) it's been very nice and b) I won't ever be able to look at Dream Topping in the same way again.

Anyway - meaningless meanders aside I'm back with a belter. Eagle eyed readers will remember that last year I featured sparkily brilliant Oxford band The August List on these very pages and I admitted it was probably the first time I'd ever written about an alt-country-blues tinged act. I loved their last EP "High Town Crow" and was mightily pleased to be asked to feature them again.

Now the duo are back with a brand spanking new single, released prior to their new album which is out on 29th September and is entitled "O Hinterland".

First things first - as always, the link to the band's bandcamp page so you can listen, enjoy and buy:

"Cut Yr Teeth" is absolutely brilliant. It's really alive, it's full of energy, it bounces and it's got an ace spark to it. The repetition of the lyrics helps to drive the rhythm of the chords along and make it something that you really only need one listen of to get it stuck in your head.

It's a double A side single and the second track "Red Light On The Tower" is a wonderful complement. It's a nicely swirling number - with a calmness and slowness that provides a nice juxtaposition to the opener. There's a real power to it, the vocal performance is so beautifully nuanced - it soars in all the right places and is gently tapered in others.

I've said it before that I don't feature enough acts like this on the blog and listening to this new single makes me really excited for the release of the album which I'm so looking forward to reviewing when it comes out. In the meantime, please spend some of your heard earned cash and but this single, because you need it in your lives. The August List are a great duo really worthy of your time. Give them a listen!