mike davies column december 2020

FYFE DANGERFIELD pops up again, playing keyboards and providing backing vocals on Under Water (PinDrop), another digital single from Oxford-based Swedish singer Julia Meijer, this one, with its shifting tempo shifting from a steady thrum to a flurry and back, designed to evoke the feeling of things moving slowly she experienced while snorkelling.

Recorded with Michael Clarke and featuring Pete Walker on drums and backing vocals from Jayne Powell, CHRIS TYE releases Must be Crazy (Epizootic), a shimmering waterfall of summery, crooningly sung upbeat pop positivity with hints of early Jack Johnston.

malin

Another local singer-songwriter, DOM MALIN brings caressingly warm tones to his third indie folk-pop single Eye Of The Storm, starting off with just acoustic guitar and gathering a more orchestrated sound as it builds as, with shades of Paul Simon, he sings of being tired of trying to keep alive a relationship that’s run its course. An album’s worth is eagerly awaited.

kiriki

Drawing on background as various as clowning, dance, theatre and live art, Birmingham-based sextet KIRIKI CLUB (the name inspired by Les Kiriki, a film from early 20th century, by the experimental film-maker Segundo de Chomon) , embrace a wealth of exotic world music influences on their self-titled debut. Featuring Sam Frankie Fox on lead vocals, with Marti Gillespie on double bass and guitar, Katie Stevens from the Bonfire Radicals on sax and woodwinds, Genevieve Say on percussion, Joelle Barker on drums and hand percussion and Ricardo Santos Rocha playing guitar and melodeon, they open in country swing style with Liquor, which should slip down easy for anyone into Hannah Johnson and The Broken Hearts before launching into the energetic Portuguese Fado of Tenho-me Persuadido and then switching to acoustic guitar and French for the shuffling jazzy Latin cum Gallic rhythms Monsieur.

It’s back to English for the lush, rippling orchestral exotica sultry That’s Where We Are, featuring violin, viola, cello and vibraphone with Fox showing off quivering soprano on a number that recalls the work of fellow locals The Destroyers with whom both she and Stevens have played. Then country makes a return for ‘Simple Song’ with its appropriately simple strummed guitar and crooned harmonies matching the romantic sentiments, the mood shifting to more melodramatic tones for the moody, slow swaying reimagined Welsh anthem, O Gymru/Ar Lan Y Mor, respectively a version of a Welsh male voice choir composition (O Wales) and an original arrangement of traditional Welsh lyrics (By The Sea), sung, naturally, in the native tongue even if there’s a dash of Piaf to Fox’s delivery.

kiriki club

Diatonic accordion and trumpet add vibrancy to the jaunty Mi Corazon which serves Tejano music with a rockabilly twist, the band heading into the final stretch with the Portuguese sung mazurka-like scurry of ‘Insisto’, based around a poem by the late Portuguese singer songwriter Jose Afonso, with its clarinet trill and ‘bomp bomp’ backing vocals bridge. As befits any self-respecting folk out, they have a murder ballad in the form of the trumpet embellished tango-tinged lover’s revenge Waiting For You, Fox hitting the high notes, ending, in kindred spirit and again conjuring Johnson, with the lazing, sax-stroked lilting vintage ballroom jazz swing sway of I Hate You complete with background crowd chatter. They’ve already established a formidable live reputation and this terrific, musically multi-faceted debut can only add to the lustre.

lost notes

The much anticipated second album from Moseley’s acoustic quintetTHE LOST NOTES, Lowlifes & High Times finds them dispensing with the debut’s playful socio-political numbers such as Bankers Blues and Green Grass for, as they put it, songs that celebrate the ups and downs of journeymen, despots, sleazeballs, fools, the planet and the consciously idle. It also seems them further developing the jazzier side of their sound (also reflected in the 50s-styled artwork), as can be impressively heard on the self-descriptively themed All Born Free, on which Ben and Lucy Mills share vocals, the latter providing the ba da ba scat backing, and, the latter taking lead, the slinky samba-esque sway of the not putting up with your ways anymore Nobody’s Fool.

It opens though in glorious folksy pop form, Ben in falsetto mode, with the cascading chords of the coming home to my heart Pieces Of A Star, featuring Helena Roswell on cello and spotlighting their terrific harmonies and beautifully complementary guitar work, slipping then into the tempo shifting trying to win your love Holding On with its scampering chorus.

Lead guitarist Oli Jobes takes over vocals for the self-penned old time country-folk waltzing received wisdom of A Fool Once Told Me (“It’s a wise man who knows he’s fool”) before nimble Spanish guitar introduces the more dramatic Latin sway of Done With The Waiting, another that has Lucy on lead as, a sort of obverse version of Holding On, she sings “Though I’m a lioness/If I wait I lose my pride”.

Opening with Maxim Tomlinson’s scurrying muted drums before the urgent picked guitar arrives, Still I Come rides a tumbling, rolling melody line on a song about refusing to be pushed aside when help is clearly needed (“You need calm hands to hold you/Help you make it through the dark”).

On a similar theme about providing comfort when that’s all you can offer, another of their infectious waterfall of chords folk-pop numbers, here taken at a slower, close harmony pace, I’ll Just Hold You is beguilingly lovely. From that’s minimal arrangement, things flesh out with Tomlinson and Silas Wood’s double bass laying down the itchy rhythm of the goodtime jazzy I Got Time, Ben and Lucy sharing the verses and featuring percussion solo towards the end, when handclaps carry along a number you could imagine George Melly or Cab Calloway having sung,

Prior to, respectively, bonus acoustic and piano mixes of All Born Free and I’ll Just Hold You, here with acapellaintro and even more gorgeous, it ends with another melodic jazzy swing flurry of guitars and handclaps on Goodbye Yesterday which brings things to a close on an eco protest note that references factory farming, GM crops, forest felling, plastic in the oceans, fracking, eco-bulbs and bags for life in a comment on short-term solutions rather than addressing the bigger picture as it calls on industry and government to pull together to save the planet. Their debut announced them as rising stars, this puts them firmly in the brightest constellation.

Further to last month’s comment, having now received the enture DANGEROUS GIRLS live in the studio album from Highbury May 2015, can I just reiterate what an urgent, dynamic and compelling collection it is, the band sounding just like their snotty teenage selves (and suggesting John Lydon might well have been lisenting to them when he created Public Image Ltd) as they barrel their way through the likes of Lying Toad, the bass throbbing Down On The File, Clinically Dead and the music industry castigating Men In Suits, closing with the moody, modulated punk drama of Domestic Blisters. There’s only a limited number available, you owe it to yourself to try and grab one.

Gorstey EP One Mint Text 2660 x 2660

THE GORSTY LEA STREET CHOIR complete the year with the release of their EP1 which, in addition to the already reviewed From A Boy and Lowborn & Stargazing now adds Saint Marie and Broken Down Radio. The former opening with a ghostly, spooked effect, is a lumbering drumbeat slow march reflection on love and life, that burnished by trumpet and occasional piano, has echoes of Richard Hawley, while the latter, which starts with static and waveband tuning is another reflective number driven by a mix of strummed and resonant twanged guitar, hefty drums and ringing bells, building a heady atmosphere that marks what giant strides they’ve taken since their first appearance. When the album finally arrives, it promises to be a masterpiece.

miles

MILES HUNT returns with The Custodian 2, a second 2-CD volume of acoustic recordings variously versions of songs recorded with The Wonder Stuff, Vent 414, solo and with Erica Nockalls. I’ve only heard Welcome To The Cheap Seats, a gloriously melancholic reimaging, but the 30 tracks will also include A Wish Away, It’s Yer Money I’m After, Baby, Who Wants To Be The Disco King? Cartoon Boyfriend, Don’t Anyone Dare Give A Damn, Radio Ass Kiss and The Sun Goes Down On Manor Road.

roots-and-branches.com 2020