Former Kings Heath resident, KATE DOUBLEDAY now lives in Wales, working as an organic gardener, educational environmental artist and wildlife conservationist, all of which feeds into Flutter (Copper), an album ripe with images of fruit, the landscape and nature, richly so on the opening track, Orchard, a song about love and memory with references to gooseberries, rhubarb, elderflower, damsons and more while the gently rippling, folksy Spring talks of the sap rising, wild garlic and viburnum flowers and the trad flavoured Tether Her, which uses a sailing metaphor to talk of letting someone go, opens with a line about feeling sisal in your hand.
Her reedy, pure-voice reminiscent of the young Sallyangie-era Sally Oldfield, it is, as you might imagine, very English rural in sound and feel, an ambience crafted through instrumentation that includes liberal use of cello, violin and viola as well as double bass, accordion and ukulele, beautifully and delicately woven in numbers like Same Colour, Fifty Years (the story of man who stayed in his village while his friends all moved away) and the bittersweet Tilly’s Song about the daughter of rustic artisans whose love of dancing swept her spirit into the skies to continue sailing and swooping after her death. However, featuring Dan Wilkins on kora, Lion’s Lullaby also serves reminder of her time in Africa as she sings of the rustling grassland and ochre plains in song about the outcasts and persecuted dreaming of “a land where all are one.”
Following the final Dangerous Girls reunion gig, Rob Peters has launched a new project with Dog Walker as acoustic duo PETERS & DOG. They perform acoustic psychedelia folk rock, a taste of which can be found on the self-titled EP (available at gigs and from Highbury Studio), a four tracker that features two self-penned numbers, Walker’s bluesy strummed Life & Love & Sex & Friendship and, bringing a touch of Spanish guitar mood to its 60s prog folk feel, Finger Rain from Peters. The other two are covers, opening with an effective version of Syd Barret’s tumbling Pink Floyd gem Astronomy Domine and closing with a ragged and slightly less impressive folk blues take on Things We Said Today.
Offering a taster of how their second album might possible sound, JAWS beef things up for new single Bad Company (Rattlepop), bringing a hefty grunge riff and punchy chorus hook to bear on the familiar hazy melodic psychedelia. Singer Connor Schofield names Title Fight as the prime influence, while throwing Swervedriver and Smashing Pumpkins into the pot too, though he says the band have assembled around 30 potential tracks for the album, mixing the heavier approach with more poppy material.
THE NIGHTINGALES release their ninth studio album, Mind Over Matter, their first for John Robb’s Louder Than War label, describing it as “a short, sharp blast of rhythm ‘n’ irritation”. Thirty-six years on from their formation, still fronted by Rob Lloyd and now featuring Andreas Schmid from Faust on bass and ex Violet Violet drummer Fliss Kitso and original Prefects guitarist Alan Apperley, they remain as idiosyncratic as ever, the opening burst of For Goodness Sake suggesting they’re actually about to launch into Hippy Hippy Shake rather than the driving Beefheartian punk that follows before it veers off into a staccato Zappaesque dimension. Then, taking you by surprise, The Only Son heads into Stax soul territory while the catchy melodic riff actually conjures John Fred and the Playboy Band’s Lucy In Disguise as female vocals provide a shoo wop shot in the background. The band’s tectonic plates shift again with The Man That Time Forgot, the song veering between insistent drum beat flurries and moodier passages, Kitso then joining in for some suitable caterwauling, only to switch again on the fingerclicking jazzy groove of Ripe Old Age as Lloyd adopts a Barry White purr to sing about getting fat and old.
The stridently energetic Taffy Come Home with its dominant drum patter and rolling guitar work slips in a snatch of Sweet’s Blockbuster (a sly habit of referencing that also, rather sarcastically, namechecks Midsomer Murders and Mumford and Sons alongside lyrics about colonial wars) and, yet again, they take off at a tangent as treated birdsong warbles into drum clattering, trombone farting psychedelic instrumental segue For Different Folks and Stroke of Genius, the latter of which features an incomprehensible Kitso vocal.
I Itch takes it back to funkier ground with Bowie/Roxy colours before a brief burst of drums, guitar and vocal squall on But heralds the tongue-in-cheek self-referencing Gales Doc, a Bonzo-esque post-modern spoof documentary about how the Wolverhampton-based pop group construct their songs “using a few modest riffs” asking the band to explain their techniques and methods over the upcoming verses. Amusingly, the narrator quotes Lloyd as saying the ‘gales “saw themselves as somewhat superior to other combos of the same ilk”, noting how he found this rather arrogant, especially Lloyd boasting that his group was ‘sonically more interesting than most.” A perfect riposte to anyone who says the band don’t have a sense of humour and take themselves too seriously.
The album ends on Bit Of Rough, Lloyd initially launching into Elvis country before the things explodes into the sort of staccato riffery and improvisational vocals the ‘doc’ has described, a solid, raucous end to arguably one of the most inventive releases of their entire career.