20 July 2014

#SRCZ Music Review // Dignan Porch – Observatory

Listening to Observatory, the third album from Dignan Porch release on Brighton independent label Faux Discx, you can’t help but feel they could soundtrack a lazy day in the current run of hazy, sunshine filled days very well. We’ve been enjoying the album over self-made ice coffees in #SRCZ and finding they go very well with the band’s laid back musical choreography indeed.

Opening with Forever Obscured, with some stabs of amiable synth and guitar chords guiding the listener to a power fuelled chorus, the album makes a perfect opening gambit. Not too slow, not too overblown, the track gets you in the mood perfectly, not afraid of throwing in a blast of guitar riff to get the mind working. Then comes Deep Deep Problem, a track somewhere between sixties styled Psych melodics and a particularly happy grunge vibe imbued with folky stabs of keyboards. An excellent opening duo, for sure!

The album continues its twelve track journey with more MiDi fuelled journeys into Psychedelia, highlights including Between The Trees and the stop and start introduction of Wait & Wait & Wait. It has to be said that this album grows on you, and despite it not jumping out of the air in one of those instant fan making moments the love is certainly there. We’d say, in fact, that rather than jumping out on you, Observatory is better as a grower, allowing the listener to indulge in the listening process.

Perhaps this follows the pattern of the album’s creation, in a large, cold and cheap flat in South London over many evenings and weekends. This kind of music is never instant; it’s an organic process that informs the creative flow accordingly. One of our favourite tracks, by the way, is the Psych-reverb delight of I Plan To Come Back, oozing with a understated bittersweet taste that makes the sing even more of a treat.

Do we plan to come back to this album? Oh Yes.


17 July 2014

#SRCZ Album Review // Gary Edward Jones - "The Cabinet Maker"

They always say when writing reviews to make a good opening statement, and set the tone for what you are going to write about in the introduction. While trying to do this for Gary's new album, the real problem I faced was an unusual one - trying to sum up just how incredible this album really is in a concise way, before I get the chance to explain all the numerous reasons in full. So here you go, this is my best shot; If there is only one album you buy this year by an unsigned artist, or indeed by any artist, it should be, no wait, has to be this one. 

This would appear to be a pretty bold statement, so I'll elaborate. However, "The Cabinet Maker" is a truly beautiful collection of acoustic music, and trying to state what is so brilliant about each of the 10 tracks on this album is a task that would take from here until the end of time, so I'll break it down into the general themes.

The first of which is quite evident - Gary is an exceptionally talented songwriter. His lyrical prose cover a truly wide variety of subjects, and manages to slip between the metaphorically poetic and plain speaking to-the-point in a way that few can at this level. Lines like "The clocks they turn/ but no lesson’s are learned" from the song "Bang Bang Bang" form pieces of critical social and political commentary, whereas songs like "Mr Lonely Times" and "All I Want Is You" are much more along the lines of poignant self reflection and very honest expression.

The second is the sheer quality of the musicians that make up Gary's band, and the clever, intricate and incredibly melodic parts that they contribute to the arrangement. The devilish duo of session musicians Oscar South and 'Skeet' Williams (both former Bear Beats Band) have become well known throughout the North West for their various quality contributions to the local music scene, and their playing on Gary's album is no exception. Whether it’s the technically brilliant, yet melodic acoustic guitar solo on "Free Falling" or the groove infused double bass line of the bluesier tune "Is This Real?" Both players replay excel themselves. With the addition of beautifully phrased and thought out harmonies of vocal duo Grace and Danger, and percussion contributions of Daniel J. Logan and some subtle yet excellent textures from keys player Jack Beacall, the musicality of the record is truly outstanding. 

The third and final point I'll cover is the production and this is, again, a real selling point of the record. So often, when listening to unsigned bands and artists, you have to almost ignore the quality of the recording (usually a home demo) to try to evaluate the songwriting beneath. I'm pleased to report this is not the case for "The Cabinet Maker". It seems Gary's attitude has been almost to spare no expense in the creation of this album, and I can tell you that it is worth every bit of its £10 price tag. Recorded at Orchard Studios in Crewe and the Batcave studios, the mix of the record is done to a very high standard, enabling you to hear its true potential.

If you haven't gathered already, it really is tough to fault this album. In fact, only two rather minor points come to mind. The first is that it could be argued that £10 is something of a steep price for an unsigned artists album, however once you take into account the actual cost of manufacture and production of an album to a professional standard in today's music industry (especially when self released) this seems to pale into insignificance, and make much more sense. The second is that it does feel to be over a bit quicker than expected from a ten track album. That said, this could well be attributed to the economy of songwriting that comes from not having a record label pressuring you to put that 6 minute soppy ballad three quarters of the way through, and guaranteeing every other track to be of exactly 3 minutes 30 seconds. Quality of music should ultimately triumph over quantity any day of the week, and this album has plenty of it. 

To some up then, I reiterate: if you buy only one album this year, make sure it is this one. It is a truly fantastic collection of well written, rehearsed and recorded material that represents brilliant value for money and I promise you won't regret it.

“The Cabinet Maker” By Gary Edward Jones is available now, as a self release. For more information, see www.garyedwardjones.com

(Reviewed by Jon Fellowes.)

15 July 2014

Music Video // The Kut – Mario

If you’re gonna run now, you better run… because it’s the new video from London’s The Kut out to impress. Shot across various locations (including what looks to be one of our favourite venues for doing anything, Leake Street graffiti tunnel) it’s a rock fuelled reminder that music is a force to be reckoned with when it’s done well. Needless to say, this video doesn’t take away from that fact either.

The track is extracted from their upcoming release on Criminal Records, the Make Up E.P. and you should look out for review coming from #SRCZ of said release soon!

14 July 2014

Trailer // 20,000 Days On Earth

“At the end of the twentieth century”, says Nick Cave, “I ceased to be a human being.” Chasing the myth of Nick Cave is the aim of the upcoming film 20,000 Days On Earth and if any myth was worth chasing, then Nick Cave’s is certainly one of the more interesting to grasp onto.

Following the release of album Push The Sky Away in early 2013, (check out our review here), with this film is certainly a welcome treat and with many  excellent mentions ahead of its release we certainly look forward to entering the fascinating minutiae of the daily life of one of the music world’s most enduring lyricist and performers.

20,000 Days On Earth is released on September 19th nationwide. 

13 July 2014

Coming Soon // Doctor Who Series Eight Trailer Released!

“Tell me, am I a good man?”

So goes the question posed to Clara by Peter Capaldi’s twelfth doctor in this exciting trailer for the upcoming eighth series of Doctor Who. All we know for sure is that the answer to all our questions and more (spoilers and leaks completely ignored) will come on August 23rd when the series returns with the much anticipated feature length opener Deep Breath.

The voice of the recently seldom seen Daleks almost make you jump, before we see a shot of the TARDIS console in flames, various alien creatures and Clara looking completely unsure of the answer to the Doctor’s question… 

On The Scene // Flyover Fest, Liverpool – 13/07/2014

It was a sunny day, the sky was smiling somewhat inappropriately on our sun starved land and we decided to go for a walk on the flyover. Hang on, you might say, you can’t walk on the flyover. Well, you’d be right except that on this day it was closed to traffic so we could all celebrate the wonderful event that was Flyover Fest.

Yes, the demolition threatened Winston Churchill Way behind the iconic Central Library in Liverpool turned from a route from A to B to a pedestrian full celebration of the local creative scene. As we approached we could sense the positive energy already, as well as smell what we would soon discover to be rather tasty pizza.  Sat on a recycled wire spindle with a smiley face painted on it using a barrel as a table for said pizza, we sat back and had only good thoughts as a Lego headed being sped past on a bicycle, pirates sang seas shanties to the passersby and a mobile disco gave us some classic beats.

Other attractions included the ever entertaining Lemon Collective, with their eponymous caravan housing face painting and a sighting of the very friendly Lemon Head, busking slots from She Drew The Gun (with her ever excellent sign),  We The Undersigned, Dominic Dunn, and more besides and some rather lovable owls on the lower section of the flyover. Needless to say, the mood was excellent and views of the defining Liverpool skyline were excellent. If the idea of a festival on a flyover seemed odd at first, then this very positive happening confirmed that the innovative creative spirit of Liverpool is still very much alive. (If, indeed, anyone doubted the fact to begin with!)

But perhaps the best aspect of the whole day was seeing familiar faces from the vast creative scene of the city lighting up a normally very uninteresting space. It goes to show that with the power of people, interest and sheer good fun much more can be achieved than what occurs behind corporate doors. Let’s hope that the proposals to turn this space into an urban park full of life and happiness come to fruition because let’s face it, who doesn’t love a new space to hang out drinking fresh coffee, reading a great book in the sunshine or even just being there in a wonderful green space?

Suffice to say our Friends of the Flyover badge is safely on! Make sure to check out the website as well to see how you can support the project!

(S. Gahan) 

Album Flashback #25 //Soil & "Pimp" Sessions - Pimpoint

Soil & "Pimp" Sessions have been creating music to blow your mind for just over a decade now and with each album they impress even more. The fact this is Jazz makes no matter for the bands genre is Death Jazz and if we could die listening to anything, this is it.

When was the last time you met a pimp? Lets just say that we're not into that sort of activity. But if anybody else out there has had cause to encounter a pimp recently, you probably weren't too impressed. See, the genuine pimp is just too sleazy to be associated with, and ignorance is probably the way forward when it comes to them. But, this bunch of pimps are definitely something good, even if they aren't exactly pimps per se.

Pimpoint is an example of the moments when Japan copies something and makes it better or puts a brilliant spin on it. As with every release from the band it's something special. Why? Well, it hasn't left our stereo for a pimpin' minute since we first listened to it. With the energy and vibrancy of the quintessential modern jazz performance they captivate the ear and make the seemingly haphazard and scattered arrangements of their songs sound brilliant. Truth is, although the arrangements are seemingly scatter shot, everything is where it should be and their genius shows through like the moon over Odaiba. 

On tracks such as the simple yet terrifyingly effective A.I.E. and the raucous beginnings and melodic end of  Slaughter Suite plus the titular funk of Funky Goldman the band play the kind of music that could soundtrack a night out in Tokyo very easily and probably does. 

With lots to enjoy over the specially prepared and presented beverage of your choice this is an album not just to sit down to but to get on up to as you would to your funkiest choice cuts. 

Forget the cliched preconceptions of jazz or Japanese music! Open up your mind and listen to the cool and brain tapping brilliance that is found on Pimpoint. 

(C. Agent)  

#SRCZ Music Review // Human Hair – My Life As A Beast & Lowly Form

Heavy riffs and expressive vocals characterise this album from Human Hair and that’s no bad thing. The moment the album starts you’re dragged along the gravelly expanse of a Hells Angel’s back yard and, against normal instincts, it feels rather good.

We mention Hells Angel’s because if you did decide to take up the lifestyle of said motor bike riding gang then this music would make a perfect soundtrack for your dusty road trip into blissful oblivion. Blazing riffs set the tone, cutting the silence of any situation you might be in perfectly with the flick of a rhythmic knife that cuts very well indeed.

The metaphor might be strong, but on tracks like the excellent Worldly One the energy is infectious enough to get even the headless head banging! This pattern continues throughout, as the guitar gets harder and the songs stay short and badass. Loud things often come in small packages, after all it seems.

But on occasion, the sound gets turned down and the track length indulgently expanded. This is the case on Sleeping, with an atmos layered intro soon driving the road trip into industrial territory as the in your face vocal performance makes its unmissable entrance. Simply put, it’s one of the undoubted highlights of the album and the sheer energy behind the performance imbues it with so much class.

Now, it has to be said that it’s the case that an album so fuelled by guitar chords and vocal swagger will usually fall apart by the middle but with some clever variations in tone along the way and production that lifts the music above what some may class as ‘noise’ there is much joy to be derived from the perfectly titled My Life As A Beast & Lowly Form.

Now, where did I leave my leather jacket?

(S. Gahan.)