Despite some of the best albums of the year being released this month, Getintothis’ Banjo has something on his mind.
The big news at the moment is that Ryan Adams has cancelled his upcoming tour of the UK following allegations that he has exchanged ‘sexually inappropriate messages’ with a teenage fan.
This has been followed up by further allegations that Adams had offered other women help with their careers only to use this as a pretext for sex.
As a result, fans had been looking for refunds for tickets to his shows saying that they could not support his career while these allegations were hanging over him.
This reaction looks like that most impressive of responses – people power, where an audience’s conscience can make a difference or have an effect on an artist, public figure or politician. If people we admire behave in a way we strongly disagree with, we can vote with our feet, vote with our voices and vote with out wallets and send a message to them that they will have no option but to listen to.
Obviously these are only allegations at the moment and we will not pass comment on Adams until he is proven innocent or guilty.
There are, of course, other instances where claims of sexual impropriety have been made about people whose work we have admired. The notorious groupie scene of the 70s has resulted in some very unsavoury claims against the likes of David Bowie and Led Zeppelin. Again, we must point out that nothing has been proven and we are not making any claim against these people, but with Ryan Adams fans asking for refunds, what should we do about these other claims and the artists they are made against?
At the forefront of the 70s Groupie phenomenon was the Baby Groupies, consisting of underage girls, generally in their early teens. Hanging around LA’s Sunset Strip, they found themselves in the company of the stars of the time, such as Bowie, Led Zeppelin, Rolling Stones and The Who. One member of the Baby Groupies has written her account of what happened when, at the age of 14, she was summoned to David Bowie’s bedroom, where he allegedly took her virginity.
It is worth pointing out that, if this is indeed true, and given her age at the time, this counts as statutory rape – the Baby Groupies were, quite simply, too young to consent to sex. In the eyes of the law, this was a sex crime, nothing less.
But, whether these stories are true or not, what scars, career damage or consequence has this left on the legends of Bowie and Page? The only answer, really, is none whatsoever.
Rolling Stones were so unrepentant that their tour merchandise proudly listed things that the band were ‘proud to withstand’ These included divorce, drugs and under age sex. Imagine, if you will, a band being so proud of having sex with girls deemed unable to consent that they would brag about it on key rings and t-shirts.
Having researched the David Bowie story above, has it changed my opinion of his work or will it stop me playing his music? To be honest, no I don’t think it will in the long term, and I’m not entirely comfortable with that fact. But in the short term it has, although I’m not sure how long this situation will last. And if it does, how many more of my records will I look to apply this moral boycott to?
It is difficult to separate a musician from their music, but perhaps less difficult to separate their music from their character, their faults or their behavior. I genuinely don’t know how to react to this, and, if I’m being honest, I think it reflects badly on me. Maybe there is no easy or glib answer, maybe we (I) need to react stronger to news that tarnishes our idols, as Ryan Adams fans have already done.
Anyway, onto more positive things. We’ve got some great albums lined up this month as 2019 is shaping up very nicely indeed. Lets hope that our current crop of artists never inspire another introduction like this one. – Banjo, Albums and Features editor.
Album of the Month:
Will Burns & Hannah Peel: Chalk Hill Blue
There are some things that you never want to end.
Like reading a great book or watching a particularly special film, you hit a point of sadness when it’s over. When the last page is turned and you put the book back on the shelf or when the end credits roll. You know it’s over and real life intrudes.
That moment, those accumulated and aggregated moments where you’ve lost yourself, when you’re enmeshed in it all to the exclusion of everything else has gone. You want to start all over again. You want to read those words for the first time or watch those flickering images with a sense of the new and unexpected. But it never can be the same. Not again.
But sometimes-just sometimes- very rarely it should be said, those moments don’t fade. You can go through things again with a sense of the new, a sense of exploration and wonder. Those moments do not fade or become old and tired.
That’s how it is with this new album by Will Burns and Hannah Peel.
Burns and Peel had met in 2016 following the release of Peels’ Awake But Always Dreaming album due to their shared experiences in their respective works of memory loss, family life and dementia .
In summer 2018 this collaborative work came into being in producer Erland Cooper’s studio. Burns with softly-spoken yet carefully chosen and selected words and Peel running analog and digital synths and drum machines underneath it. No, underneath is the wrong word. Beside it would be more appropriate.
This is not poetry set to music nor is it music with poetry providing a background. This is something that works together so well, this is something that’s finely balanced, perfectly balanced.
And put your misconceptions to one side. Any misconceptions about poetry. This is tough stuff.
Chalk Hill Blue is not only the title of the album but also the name of an iridescent blue-grey butterfly which lives on the chalk heaths of Buckinghamshire where Burns lives and works.
The album came about after hours of Peel and Burns walking those dusty summer hills. Burns evokes something deeper than a simple rural idyll, deeper than looking beyond the landscapes of golf courses, four-wheel drive cars and golf courses to find a past that maybe was never there.
These are words that look to the future as well, using those landscapes to discard sentimentality and to tell stories and tales you want to explore more deeply, where you want to know what has been going on. Stray fragments and glimpses of memories, not only of Burns’ but of your own. Of your own past and your own memories. There’s a resonance brought forth with those words. And that music.
This is where Chalk Hill Blue works so well. It’s the ebb and flow not only of the words but of Peel’s music. It would be too easy and simplistic to say that the music complements the words. It does so much more than that.
On Spring Dawn on Mad Mile for instance, Peel’s swirling synths fade into gentle single piano notes and you’re transported to those early mornings when, as Burns states; ‘there is no weather yet to define the day in those terms.’
In The Night Life, quite unexpectantly for what will no doubt be (incorrectly) called a pastoral record, Peel’s loops and synth percussion echoes ghosts of early Cabaret Voltaire, all disconcerting swoops and jarring rhythms as Burns relates a tale of early divorce, regret and drink. His words end moments into this track but somehow manage to linger through Peel’s use of music.
Afterwards speaks of change and loss and absence, of half-memories, of what was real and what was tangible and what jars and tugs and pulls. Summer Blues, well Summer Blues is just incredible. As is the rest of this album.
I know we’re barely a few months into 2019, but Chalk Hill Blue is already the album of the year. Not only this year, but every year from here on in. It truly is something remarkable and I strongly urge you to listen to it. Over and over again. – Rick Leach
Be Forest: Knocturne
Drifting into a dark abyss has seldom sounded so beguiling. Knocturne, the third album from Italian dream-pop shoegaze trio Be Forest, is a mesmerising trip – expansive, atmospheric tracks that always sound slightly beyond reach, moving away into the dimness.
A ‘nocturne’ is a piece of night music, to listen to reflectively when the light fades from the world – adding a ‘K’ suggests an added dimension of ‘knowledge’, though the kind of understanding that Knocturnes evokes is impressionistic and slightly disturbing – like the landscapes of the subconscious.
The cover, white hands belonging to unseen figures opening black velvet curtains to reveal pitch blackness, sets the tone for a gothic, ambivalent experience. It’s alluring but there is danger here too. Atto 1 ushers us in with jangling, echoing guitars over insistent drums.
Through tracks like Empty Space and Gemini the listener experiences a sense of stateless wandering through a world of uncertain memories and fleeting images. Sometimes, as on K (that letter again) there’s a sense of slight delirium.
Tracks like Bengala are insistently tuneful, layered to the point of being cocooned in their own sound – pop songs turned inside out to reveal ambiguous yearnings.
Vocals by Erica Terenzi and Costanza Delle Rose vocals are mixed down to ghost-face-glimpsed-in-the-trees level, the voice used as another element in the soundscape, like an instrument. If there is a lead, expressive element it’s percussion, looping beats that drive the melancholy journeys.
The half-hour album closes before you know it with tender, distant ballad You, Nothing, a soft blitz falling away over the event horizon.
An album to get lost in. – Roy Bayfield
Zach Condon. Here’s a man who takes influence seemingly from every sound, each note and beat he hears around him.
He pulls it all together, Maricahi trumpets, Italian brass bands, the sun dried flavours of the West Coast, the battered old Farfisa organ he rescued from his parents restaurant, the sharp edge of European synth pop, and the heat and passion of Flamenco or Greek folk music…. he pulls all of these disaparate factions, these rogue sonic units together and creates dazzingly inventive folk pop.
Here on Gallipoli we find him excelling himself in this. Five albums in, and the collective that, under Condon‘s leadership, are known to us as Beirut have brought more poppy wonder with this new collection of songs.
It’s got summer written all over it. The swirling organ lines, and close harmonies, the flaunt of those brass hooks, the soaring choruses all lead directly to the head, like cold wine in the hot sun. It’s almost too easy to inebriate yourself in this kind of album.
Such is the fine production, Gallipoli evolves pleasantly too, revealing it’s layers on each listen. It is a sweet and friendly record. It wants to be your mate. You should let it. – Paul Fitzgerald
Ian Brown: Ripples
There was an infectious, addictive element to, say Waterfall, I Wanna be Adored and Fool’s Gold. Brown managed to carry the buzz through to his first couple of solo albums (Unfinished Monkey Business and Golden Greats), maybe as a result of collaborations with Aziz Ibrahim and Mani, but these were also self-produced and financed by Brown. They have his stamp and it shows.
Since then it seems, however, the spark has waned. And even a near 10 year gap since his last album, My Way, (albeit he released the single and lead track from this album last year, which had a pretty muted response) does not appear to have brought about any sort of new birth.
It seems, in retrospect, to have been an odd choice to pick First World Problems as trail for the new album. Both it and the second track on the album, Black Roses, are, by quite a long stretch the weakest offerings on this disc. They rely too heavily on Brown’s – let’s be fair – average singing voice and abandon the stuff that Brown is good at. It’s a bit like a BMW dealer putting some second hand Ladas out front in the sales lot.
Happily, things pick up later. The Dream and the Dreamer is almost the ethereal rhythmic funk you could imagine the Stone Roses putting out now had they not split all those years ago in a wave of self immolation. It’s progressive, percussive and the sort of advance you could imagine the band would have come up with had they still been writing. It’s probably the best track on the album.
Title track, Ripples, is another banger that needs to be played loud and its guitars slip and slide around “floating over space” as Brown sings, entirely accurately. It’s almost the type of thing that may have happened had Hendrix been the guitar player for Chic. It sounds like a bit of a mash up, but it works. So far, so good.
The closer, however, Break Down the Walls (Warm up Jam) gets us no further forwards. There are plenty of others doing reggae / dub better than this. It just feels like a lazy end to a record that lacks coherence, thrown in for good measure, but to little benefit.
In the end, we’re left a bit confused, as though there was a maverick on quality control. Some of it’s ace, but some is, just, well, meh.
We don’t do star ratings on Getintothis, but if we did we’d make the point there are 10 tracks on the album and 5 of them are decent. That doesn’t make it a 5/10 because the good bits outweigh the mediocre. But it is one hell of a curate’s egg. – Peter Goodbody
Buke & Gase: Scholars
The last six years have been a period of reinvention for Buke and Gase.
When the follow-up to 2013’s excellent General Dome started to sound too much like its predecessor, they ditched everything and started from scratch. Gone is the call-and-response of the stand-alone kick drum and the toe-bourine as the rhymic foundation of their tunes.
The buke (a six-stringed custom baritone ukulele) and the gase (a guitar-bass hybrid) have also taken more of a back seat to keys and synths on their latest album, Scholars.
It’s no surprise that the duo have taken this tack. Gase-ist Aron Sanchez has been building unusual instruments for the Blue Man Group; these include a midi backpack, an electric zither and something called a Fogulum.
He has also constructed some chord-sticks – dulcimer-guitar hybrids – for So Percussion and Bryce Dessner of The National, who used it on 2015’s Music for Wood and Strings. It was almost a pre-requisite that Scholars should feature some kind of technological innovation.
Here, then, is the Arx: a laptop-driven, custom-coded, synthesizer-sample machine. It’s not long before they use it; opener Stumbler is a lurching, hesitant, Frankenstein’s monster of a bassline, overlaid with vocalist Arone Dyer setting off a variety of triggered vocal delays and decaying samples.
The riffs haven’t all gone, though; the title track starts off with a corker, just before it’s supplanted by a techno beat. It’s almost like the sound of their analgoue past is contending with their digital present, with all of the terse tension and loopy vocal hooks that made General Dome so much fun.
Given the method of composition, some of the tunes are more robotic than others. Temporary, for example, is more of a Battles-style nursery rhyme, an interlude at best. Tracks like No Land compensate.
Folky finger-picking clashes with a stately bass scale, and the crystal-clear clarity of Arone Dyer‘s vocal hooks elevate it from over-cerebral, experimental tinkering. Derby is an off-beat hip-hop number with fuzzy casiotone, and Pink Boots recalls Masseduction-era St Vincent.
The Annie Clark influence is also present on Flock, the best song of the album, with its vocal yelps, regal bass (sorry, gase) and delayed. pitch-shifted guitar lines. – Matthew Eland
Girlpool: What Chaos Is Imaginary
The third album from the L.A. indie rockers Girlpool sees them develop on their previous two outings adding elements of synth and dream pop but still retaining their indie rock grounding.
What Chaos Is Imaginary begins where Powerplant and Before the World was Big left off. Fuzzy guitars and hushed whispery vocals are the order of the day on the opening portion of the album. Hire sees Girlpool channelling Elliott Smith, Cleo Tucker’s vocals are eerily similar to the cult 90’s singer-songwriter.
Elliott Smith is one of the biggest influence you can feel on this record besides the usual suspects. This isn’t a bad thing, here’s an artist who dealt with isolation, loneliness and mental health something both Cleo Tucker and Harmony Tividad have had to deal with in different ways since their last album, Tucker’s experience of gender flowing from woman to man and Tividad who has spoken of issues with depression.
What Chaos Is Imaginary is an album of balance between lo-fi rock and more reflective moments, the quitier songs are quickly followed by more lively ones for example All Blacked Out a meditative indie folk song is followed by Lucky Joke, a catchy jangly piece.
There is now more of distinction between a Tucker and Tividad song and it feels like they get an equal footing throughout album. When they share vocals such as on Minute In Your Mind their harmonies add an extra dimension now that Tucker’s range has dropped an octave due to hormone therapy.
The titular song presents the biggest departure from the sound Girlpool are known for. Synth organs and lush strings take centre stage while Tividad’s vocals are distorted and are no longer hushed and whispery but siren like as she sings about ‘buying a ticket to heaven’ and there isn’t a guitar in sight!
Does this transition of style reflect the transitions they’ve gone through in their lives over the last few years or am I just reading too much into it?
With fourteen songs you’re definitely getting bang for your buck, the majority of the songs clock in at around three minutes but you never feel like Girlpool are rushing through the songs.
What Chaos Is Imaginary is an album that feels like a notebook of differing voices and ideas reflecting on themselves and each other as they try to work out who they are and hopefully where they’re going. – Michael Maloney
Vic Godard: Mums’ Revenge
Vic Godard has long been a square peg refusing to fit into a round hole.
His first forays into music came with Subway Sect, a band put together at the very beginnings of punk at the request of one Malcolm McLaren. Although being an integral part of punk’s first stirrings, Subway Sect instinctively avoided following any preconceptions of what punk should sound like, instead taking the idea of providing something different to what they saw around them and running with it.
This was due in part to their inexperience but was more a consequence of their refusal to conform, even to nonconformity. There is a reason that Subway Sect have a compilation album called We Oppose All Rock & Roll.
Godard followed this period of his life with records that took in swing, jazz and soul, anything but rock & roll, which he still harboured a deep opposition to.
Since then he has continued to record and tour, leaving an idiosyncratic trail of records behind him and has also continued to be the outsider’s outsider, whose approach is still to avoid conformity and convention.
His latest album, Mums’ Revenge has a homespun charm that sounds like it was recorded in somebody’s front room. It is hard to pinpoint are era where this would be comfortable music, with its post punk sensibilities and lo-fi recording.
The Fall and Velvet Undergound are touchstones here, with the straightforward riffing of songs like In This Town and Gnu Ambition. Then, just when we think we have a handle on what it happening, in come unexpected drum machines, stylophone-like keyboards and a chorus from The Teddy Bear’s Picnic with a scottish spoken word section. Predictability is still something to be avoided in Godard‘s art.
There is joy to be found in both Godard‘s approach and his music. To listen to Mum’s Revenge is to be reminded of the time when punk’s encouraging of people to take up instruments and make music of their own resulted in one of British music’s most fertile and inspiring eras. A time when everything seemed possible and we thought a few twenty somethings with guitars could change the world. And maybe we were right.
Those who treasure him and his music will find much to love here and the world is still a better place for his refusal to fit in. – Banjo
Gum Takes Tooth: Arrow
Gum Takes Tooth are at times reminiscent of bands like Liars, Oneida, Fuck Buttons or Holy Fuck (yes there’s a fair few fucks there). With each song they traverse a pop/indie soundscape with anthemic, pleasing chops.
Passing the opening track we are headfirst into a collapsing star of a song, the titular The Arrow slowly developing into a raver of a track. Moving through each song we get a better feel of what this band wants to achieve. Developing the each strand of sound into a hedonistic troupe, unapologetic about the enjoyment it plays.
It’s downward spiral into further depths of joy, skipping into trance state electronica. We push through into ever more pleasures, cascading into one track to another, each delivering the listen further into a hypnotic state.
Slowing down through some classic style early industrial landscapes and falling into tribal beats. This album is a classic in the making.
In this album Gum Takes Tooth have encompassed what great indie albums can achieve; stealing the instruments of the pop ethic and twisting into realms that only a few other bands have been able to follow.
If you’re a fan of bands like those mentioned above then you’ll love this band. Here’s hoping we can see them live very soon. – Guy Nolan
Health: Vol 4::Slaves of Fear
In this album we find the familiar sounds of industrial/metal bands that have been around for sometime. Full of teenage anxiety ( which let’s be honest is the playground for most of these kind of bands) they’ve developed their sound from the earlier days changing from the nowave/noiserock beginning to this more clean edge industrialist standards.
But for me, age has not brought much to this album.
Yes, I imagine there is a ready made fan base that will totally not understand why I don’t like this, but let me clarify what my misgivings are for this album.
It is neither awful or great, a nothing thing filling a void of more nothing sounds. I can’t tell you how much this bores me. It’s derivative, with it placing of rapid beats and clearly well engineered songs.
It is the furthered thing from the original ideas of industrial music you could actually go from. It is, at best a very well made pop album that has used a soundscape that it clearly has no idea about its origins.
If I where you I’d go by some Skinny Puppy, G.G.F.H or Uniform you’d get a better understanding of how this music should be made.
Unfortunately a very throwaway album. – Guy Nolan
It’s been quite the hiatus since 2011’s Gravity The Seducer, but Ladytron are now back with a self-titled statement of intent.
The delay, in no small part, presumably caused by the fact that their members are now scattered across the globe, as well as an urge by the individuals to use the time out to for various side projects. This has caused the album to be recorded over a longer time than they must have first envisaged, but the music doesn’t suffer as a result.
If anything, it leads to a much warmer collection of songs, despite some of the bleak subject matter, compared to the almost glacial feel of their previous output.
Hypnotic opener Until The Fire sets the scene with it’s repetitive (in a good way) chorus, and the equally tuneful bangers continue in the shape of Far From Home and Paper Highways.
Although there is a distictinctly dystopian feeling to the overall proceedings, this is a much more accessible, less intrinsic, almost poppy album played with a straight bat, compared to those that have gone before.
Each track seems to have its own catchy hook that the rest of the song builds itself around, not necessarily a big chorus, but even a simple keyboard riff.
A high watermark is maintained throughout the record, with no obvious duffers or drop-off towards the end, which is an accusation that could be levelled at their earlier stuff. It works as a whole record rather than a disparate collection of songs, having enough of a musical twist that the layers of keyboards and dual vocals never become stale or samey.
The closing couplet of The Mountain and Tomorrow Is Another Day are two of the strongest tracks and then it’s gone, not outstaying its welcome.
It’s by far their most complete, and as a result, enjoyable album to date. Glad they’re back. – Steven Doherty
Light Conductor: Sequence One
Jace Lasek is the orchestrator behind Canadian outfit Besnard Lakes – so anyone with half an ear knows when he’s involved in a new music project it’s worth paying attention.
Having produced or worked alongside the likes of Suuns, Patrick Watson, Land of Talk and Wolf Parade, Lasek now finds himself working with Stephen Ramsey of Young Galaxy and one time guitarist of fellow Montreal band Stars.
While both bands deal in wildly different musical landscapes – the former dystopian cosmic psychedelia imbued with elements of Beach Boys harmonies and gargantuan hooks, the latter straight up indie rock – they’ve now come together to form Light Conductor – a band who offer little like their day jobs. A kraut-pop instrumental vessel which relies little in the way of hooks and more on atmosphere and ambience to thrill the listener.
And a thrill it is. Over the course of 45 minutes the duo weave a textured pattern of mesmeric synth-led grooves which are bathed in warm iridescent glows. Opener A Bright Resemblance is characteristic of the album’s tone; a seductive repetitious rhythm of electronic pulses before the dissonant burn out of Chapel of The Snows.
The undulating robotic freneticism of When The Robot Hits The Water paves the way for the album’s eponymous closer and most dramatic moment as stabbing keys trade for position with buzzsaw guitars and echo-laden vocals ensuring a quite thrilling finale.
This is the kind of album that invites you to kick back and luxuriate in it’s soothing evening afterglow – or alternatively get lost amid it’s bottomless wonder while out of your head in the late night abyss. – Peter Guy
Bob Mould: Sunshine Rock
Since 2008’s excellent District Line, it can be argued that Mould has produced consistently solid music. Ironically, it was the critically acclaimed The Silver Age which this writer found to be his weakest offering in this timeframe
Sunshine Rock follows 2016’s rip-roaring Patch the Sky and whilst thematically contrasting in tone, Mould shows us another side of his persona that we’ve not really seen from the indie rock veteran in quite some time, if ever.
The opening title track is vintage Mould. Hard-hitting and melodic with a refined verve. What Do You Want Me to Do is a steamroll-rocker filled with grooves and shimmering tom-toms. Sunny Love Song is Mould in full love song mode, illuminating the themes of this album.
Thirty Dozen Roses is the album’s highlight and, if anything, it’s the closest thing he has written to something resembling the sonic shards of Sugar and Husker Du. It’s anthemic fists-to-the-sky euphoria, produced by an artist who continues to carve out different ways to reach that promised land.
The defiant Lost Faith contains the strongest message on Sunshine Rock with Mould singing, ‘I’ve lost faith in everything, everything, everything/you really got to stop this now/you let yourself get too far gone/when you stray from the ones you love/you get so hard to find your way back home/life is so complicated/don’t let your hopes and dreams disappear/baby we all lose faith in troubling times/you know I’m gonna be right here.’ Has Mould ever sounded so optimistic?
At times there’s remnants of Sugar‘s Beaster (I Fought) that blast through the amplifiers like twisted metal, however the defiant themes forge perfectly with Sunshine Rock‘s melodic bruising instrumentation. These songs will translate perfectly live.
Mould‘s recent move to Berlin seems to be the catalyst for the tone of Sunshine Rock. We’ve had miserable Bob. We’ve had angry Bob. Now with Sunshine Rock, it really comes as advertised because we have happy Bob. –Simon Kirk
Jessica Pratt: Quiet Signs
Quiet Signs, Jessica Pratt‘s third album, could well be her masterpiece.
One of LA’s rising singer songwriters, immersed since childhood in the rich 70’s sound of her mother’s record collection, she’s capitalised on the acclaim of her previous releases with this, her strongest work to date.
Strongest and simplest. It is in that simplicity, that raw and sweet purity, where her strength lies. These are soulful, wistful pieces that really reach you on first hearing. Relaxed, unhurried, unfussy and beautifully understated, it’s as much about the space around the sound as it is the sound itself.
Her soft, ethereal vocal brings hints of two Karens, Carpenter and Dalton, and almost adds more space with its intimacy.
This is not to say that these are floaty, wispy washes of emptiness. Far from it. The austerity in the use of instrumentation and the sense of room in the sound lead us to focus on her lyrics which find her vulnerable but determined, doubtful and steadfast.
The paradoxes we all know well. In This Time Around, she finds herself struggling with her own resilience, frustrated by her own strength.
Sometimes, it’s just easier to give in. And give in you should, to this 27 minutes of stunningly accomplished, simple beauty. – Paul Fitzgerald
William Tyler: Goes West
The first thing we think of, pretty much as the first chord is plucked on album opener is Steve Gunn and how much we loved his gig at the Phil Music Room back in November 2016. We’d never encountered Gunn before that gig and to be fair, William Tyler is not a name we’re banging on about much in the pub either.
But, no matter, they share musical similar roots, we think. Whereas Gunn sings with a typically American laid back, lazy kind of style, Tyler just lets his guitar do the work. This is a purely instrumental album. If that puts you off, then don’t let it.
Tyler was born in Nashville, so it’s ingrained in his genes and it shows. This is a classy album, full of skilful finger picking and glorious chord changes. There’s a subtle percussion going on in the background, too.
But what strikes about this record, in its short 38 minutes, is how a consummate professional can make it all appear so easy, so stripped back and yet still evoke images in your mind. Whether they be of long straight roads or southern American deserts, or apple pie or whatever else is not for us to impose.
What is for sure, it will take you some place else and we reckon it would be a good one. – Peter Goodbody
Yak: Pursuit of Momentary Happiness
Virgin EMI / Third Man Records
It seems we’re quite lucky to have gotten a second album from Black Country originated, London based band Yak. Pursuit of Momentary Happiness is a last gasp from a period of over excess from the group whilst attempting to record the LP.
The story goes that Yak were going to record this album with Tame Impala over in Australia but got side tracked drinking, partying and binging that stretched to a trip to Japan and back.
Getting home to London with their tails between their legs, Yak found they had nothing to show for it other than going completely broke. (Listen to song Fried with the lyrics ‘I’m gonna stop when I collapse‘).
It seems none other than Spiritualized genius Jason Pierce (J.Spaceman) came in to save the day. Pointing them in the direction of a record label and even appearing on tracks. Last track This House Has No Living Room has the J.Spaceman trade mark spaced out guitar sound all over it.
The whole album is one huge blast of in your face garage rock, that echoes more of the early 2000’s revival rather than it’s 60s originator. But recorded on a broken tinny microphone.
Layin’ It On The Line sounds just like early Kasabian, the good stuff like Processed Beats or Cutt Off. Pay Off vs. The Struggle reminded us of Modey Lemon (remember them?) and Blinded by the Lies has a huge fuzzed up bass line to match BRMC‘s Rise or Fall.
Singles Bellyache and White Male Carnivore are loud roars from a man driven to excess and having to put all he has left into making the record work. Screaming He’s Got The Whole Wide World In His Hands, Yak have gone from living out of a car whilst recording the album to potentially having the whole world in their hands after touring this one. – Lucy McLachlan
Yank Scally: There’s Not Enough Hours In The Day
For one so young, Yank Scally is preoccupied with time. Or the lack of it.
Since he burst on to the Liverpool underground circuit midway through 2018, the 24-year-old from Toxteth has produced music of high calibre at a prodigious rate. And while the self-proclaimed wizard (aka Dylan Costanzo), complete with hooded robes, is fully in control of his musical powers, he seems grounded enough to know that striking while on a hot streak is something he should – and will – do.
During the last nine months his ferocious output, mostly displayed on his SoundCloud account, has bore witness to dozens of tracks of a superlative and often wildly diverse stylistic nature, all the while being uploaded and sacked off quicker than a Chelsea manager’s coaching tenure.
And while there’s a self-deprecating, often mumbly laconic tone to his delivery, there’s also a sadness and resignation as he wistfully wonders where the time goes and how can he stop the sand slipping through his fingers. Whether it’s intentional, there’s a thematic nature coursing through There’s Not Enough Hours In The Day with songs Morning, Up All Night, Red Sky At Night, Going For A Drive and Stars At Night all seemingly existing after hours in a hazy otherland when emotions are high yet suppressed in a stoned barely awake slumber. Dreams waft into consciousness and back into heavy-eyed couch-induced fuzz.
Musically the album marries up to Yank‘s scatty lyricism – delicate and tender, it’s also unsettling and often on the brink of collapse. See how Going For Drive skates between comatosed lullaby and schizophrenic piano freneticism while the dizzying synthetics of Walk Home finds our protagonist stumbling you suspect from one crash pad to his bedroom.
What makes the record such an enchanting and rich listen is his array of guests. The collaborative nature of There’s Not Enough Hours In The Day is set in motion from the off with live band member, Josephine Yeoman lending not just her beautiful crystaline vocal but sweeping violin strings to a woozy backbone of beats and jarring textures. The bombastic blip pop of Delete is utterly bewildering on first listen with it’s scattershot drones and undulating squeezebox pangs before The Hushtones‘ Martha Goddard emerges through the mix to add light to the groogy shade.
While synth pop is ultimately what he trades in there’s a healthy dose of hip hop fueling the sidelines as WOR and Liverpool-based MC Remy Jude contribute to the fizzing Bulletproof Wizard. Elsewhere, MC Nelson guests on Morning which morphs from calypso bops to gloomy mumble rap while Scouse maverick Bang On‘s characteristic verbosity is relatively restrained on the cheery observational pop of Holiday.
Better yet is the near seven minute centre piece Red Sky At Night a kind of kraut murder ballad with rich, dystopian echoes and spoken word courtesy of poet Niloo Sharifi and Algerian ‘internet friend’ Forth.
By the time the introspective balladry of Sunday rolls it’s weary body into view what strikes you is the wealth of ambition and raw mastery at work on There’s Not Enough Hours In The Day. While this debut album is far from flawless it represents the initial scrapbook of one of Merseyside’s most intriguing and blindingly ambitious artists for sometime. While we’d suggest time is on Yank’s side, he may not necessarily agree – but we’re damn sure he will use it well. – Peter Guy