Not a huge amount of local news or releases this month, but leading the parade is mention of DAN WHITEHOUSE and the sell-out launch night of his new album Reaching For A State Of Mind at the Crescent. With Duke Special providing a superb opening slot (and underlining his strong cabaret influences), Dan was joined by a full band featuring the Duke’s brilliant percussionist Chip Bailey, bassist (electric and upright) Simon Smith, pianist June Mori, producer Michael Clarke on banjo, synth and guitar, John Large on drums and Thomas Bounford on violin with Anja McCloskey over from Germany playing accordion and harmony vocals from Harriet Harkman, herself a rising singer-songwriter who seems destined to make quite an impression in the coming year.
Photo © James D Clarke
Save for the part-spoken final track Home, they featured all of the new album (Maybe I Too Was Born To Run providing a rousing closer with the magnificent piano ballad Why Don’t We Dance? the first encore) as well as choice numbers from last year’s debut and the trilogy of EPs, among them the Eric Barlow co-penned Where Is The Love, Raw State, Somebody Loves You, Three Bodies, My Heart Doesn’t Age (It Just Gets Older) and a full blooded reading of The Fire Of Lust. For the final number of the night, Duke Special returned to the piano and to duet on a splendid version of Neil Young’s Helpless
A times vocally reminding me of a Cat Stevens, Jeff Buckley, Chris De Burgh cocktail, it served reminder that Whitehouse is a remarkable musical talent now. Hopefully, poised to translate his massive local following into a wider audience. The band is back at the Conservatoire Recital Hall on Dec 14, you really shouldn’t miss them.
Wasn’t able to get to the second DANGEROUS GIRLS (above) reunion gig, but those that did may well have picked up a copy of the expanded Taaga EP, the original 1979 release now remixed and extended to include the entire nine song performance from the Barn in Norwich as well as adding six bonus tracks that include Assassination, Man In The Glass and Step Out. It’s a limited edition, but there’s still a few available from Rob Peters at www.facebook.com/waferthin while those wanting to brush up on band history should also check out www.dangerousgirls.co.uk
Long time Red Shoes followers will know DEREK EYNON(above) as their original bassist. These days, after stints with such names as Neicey Mann, The Redbeards From Texas and Izzy The Push, he’s following a relatively low key solo career with live shows that feature a mix of self-penned and cover material. To which end, he’s just released a new downloads (itunes soonish) and cassette only sweet-voiced acoustic version of Neil Young’s After The Goldrush which can be heard at www.myspace.com/derekeynonmusic
Together Steve Jones and Rachel Grisedale are Coventry based duo STYLUSBOY (above) who released their The Whole Picture EP a couple of years back. They return now with a full album, Hospitality For Hope, part produced by Polly Paulusma (who also contributes musically) and released on her acoustic label Wild Sound Recordings. Purveyors of lo fi folk pop with country and occasional jazz shades, Jones having been variously compared to Tom McRae and Jose Gonzalez and providing a good contrast to Grisedale’ slightly more strident tones in the harmonies.
Lanterns, the title track of the recent EP, kicks off with a choppy bounce that suggests they’re more Beautiful South than Roberts & Lakeman, a sensibility followed through with the attractive swaying waltz Goodbye Day, Staring At The Sky (where perhaps a note of CS&N may be heard), the percussive tumbling Eyes Form Tears (a trace of Proclaimers) and banjo backed jog of the title track.
A more hushed approach characterises shimmery summer ballad Love’s Tale with what sounds like harp accompaniment, acoustic strummed waltzer Closer and the lullabyingly gentle Hold Your Hand. I doubt very much if it’s about to make them the new press darlings of the contemporary folk scene, but it’s undeniably pleasant listening that should do much to bolster their reputation at the local level.
Not particularly my musical thing perhaps with the often guttural, screamy vocals and relentless hardcore metal riffery, but POLICE BASTARD’s Confined (Iron Man) is an undeniably potent affair despite three of the 10 tracks not even making it to the two minute mark (and, to these ears at least, showing little variation between one battering ram surge of riffs and pounding drums and the next).
Openly admitting the influence of outfits raging from Discharge and Rudimentary Peni to Black Sabbath, The Cardiacs and Killing Joke (and I’d add Motorhead to the list), it is, as you might imagine from titles like Curse Of The Cross, Humanimal and Sick Sick System, a politically charged beast though you do sometimes have to work at making out the lyrics. The best numbers here are also the longest, Curse Of The Cross and The Fortress both clocking in at just over six minutes and giving he band more room to stretch out and offer subtler shades within the onslaught, the latter a particularly effective slow, sludging number that underlines that early Sabbath input.