record reviews june 2020

RICHARD DAVIES & THE DISSIDENTS

Human Traffic (Bucketfull Of Brains)

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Formerly part of 90s Camden indie rockers Tiny Monroe, Davies has been described as Johnny Thunders meets Tom Petty, this is the first album on which he’s as lead vocalist and principle songwriter, and, among others, features Tim Emery on bass guitar and Chris Cannon from Mega City Four on drums. Opening with the title track it’s your basic blue collar rock n roll delivered with a punk swagger and a dash of country shadings, so lots of ringing guitars, surging melodies and vocal attitude, highlights being the choppy Stonesy swagger meets petty of 21st Century Man, the twangy guitar and piano roll of Way of the Wild, the Springsteen hues of Echo Road and the show closer feel of No Man’s Land. Far from essential unless you’re a longtime fan but a pretty strong example of its genre. Mike Davies


GARY OLSON

Gary Olson (Tapete Records)

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Singer and trumpet player with Ladybug Transistor, Olson joins forces with Norwegian brothers Ole Johannes and Jorn Aleskjaer, recording in Oslo and Brooklyn over some eight years for a lush 70s and early 80s orchestral soulful pop album lashed with brass and strings, conjuring thoughts of Prefab Sprout, Orange Juice, Aztec Camera, Lilac Time and their ilk.

Opening with the dreamy warmth of Navy Boats and proceeding through the softly sung likes of Giovanna Please, Postcard From Lisbon, Diego It’s Time and the acoustic picked Tourists Taking Photographs and more musically uptempo numbers such as the jangly Afternoon Into Evening and A Dream For Memory before ending with the trumpet flavoured da da da scat of The Old Twin, this wears its retro musical heart on its sleeve, but the jacket’s a perfect fit. Mike Davies


RAZORCUTS

Storyteller/ The World Keeps Turning (Optic Nerve)

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Formed in 1984 in London around the nucleus of Tim Vass and Gregory Webster, they split up six years later leaving behind two albums for Creation which now get a remastered limited edition vinyl reissue (in either pink and white or black) along with an 8 track bonus LP from the original reissue of the latter and a 16 page 12” x 12” colour booklet with sleeve notes. Underachievers among the jangly indie pop brigade perhaps, but both albums have hidden gems well worth rediscovering, the 1988 Storyteller debut recommended for the likes of Try, the Love-influenced Mary Day and the psychedelic instrumental Music From The Big Pink while the following year’s The World Keep Turning opens in splendid form with the slow sway Goodnight England (some early Bee Gees in there) with Mile High Towers, Waterfall and the title track all nodding to Byrdsian influences. For collectors only, but as such well worth the investment. Mike Davies


SCARLET’S WELL

Magic (Selections from 1999-2010) (Tapete)

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Formed in 1989 by Bid, lead singer and guitarist with The Monochrome Set following their second disbanding, the albums traded in a slightly tropical or samba lilt with folksy pop undercurrents, enlisting various singers, musicians and writers, They notched up a total of seven albums in the time span covered, all on the Spanish-based Siesta label before he called time on the project, the releases featuring former Set keyboard colleague Orson Presence on the first three and various female voices (ten over the first four releases), most constantly Alice Healey.

Titles like Dark Dreams Aboard The Hesperus (which, in another life, might have been sung by Dave Dee, etc.), The Dream Spider of the Laughing Horse, the cabaret-styled Black Tulip Wings, Isle of the Blue Flowers and Lord Fishgarlic’s Last Expedition give an indication of the often esoteric and eccentric but always musically catchy material. An endearing footnote to maverick English pop history and well worth exploring. Mike Davies

roots-and-branches.com 2020