Vinyl News? Sure but with additional comment and opinions that turns it into more of a set of previews, to be honest
Title: Of Gods and Men
A debut solo release for the Songdog lead singer (songdog.co.uk) that’s possibly more about the words than the music. Morgans obviously has a lot to say. It’s almost as if he’s accidentally decided to set it all to music. As if Morgan is walking down the road singing (in a treated, slightly distorted manner), strumming a guitar and a passing backing band is running to keep up while playing. The oblivious Morgans sings whether the music fits or not.
This is personal, Dear Diary stuff. Rather gritty, slightly worn, paint flaking, rust on the edges kind of music.
The LP offers the kind of tales he might weave to a stranger after a few drinks. He tells of life and love and what happened that day. He tells of, “I remember the time…” and when life intruded yet he wrote it all down, nevertheless.
To be honest, I wouldn’t bother with the BBC or Sky News. If you want to know what’s going on out there, listen to Morgans.
I wonder if he’s related to Jim Steinman?
EUROPE – https://amzn.to/3IE6oJG
Title: Everybody’s Thinking
Out now via Big Botato (bigpotatorecords.bandcamp.com/album/everybodys-thinking) this relaxed, almost lazy, watching the sun-sparkled river transport fallen leaves past the sound of striding herons kind of album has a slow-burning rock melodicism lurching in the background. There’s a slight Lightning Seeds thing going on here.
Chapterhouse and Mojave 3 man, Rowe likes to keep the vocal effort within himself. He doesn’t want everyone to know. Just he and thee. An intimate recording, then.
It’s an odd album. You really believe – convinced – that this album will be, if not already is, wholly bland and boring and as exciting as watching Yeast. But then something keeps niggling at you, it won’t let go.
Tiny hooks spring up at you like Velcro and just won’t bloody well let go! So yea. I think I like it. Possibly, very much. I’ll get back to you.
USA – https://amzn.to/3ElmZPU
EUROPE – https://amzn.to/3Z6kSb0
Title: Emmet Finlay
Also from Big Botato, this one is quite a surprise. Released in 1971, it has Neil Young written all over it. From the slow, early Young style featuring trademark high-pitched vocals to the later yearning John Lennon solo years style, this album was initially released on Poison Ring whose roster was equally as obscure (well, in relative terms) but included people like Fancy, Pulse and Ray Zeiner.
But hey, despite my Young/Lennon tag, don’t dismiss Finley as a wanna-was. The man shows talent here, having a psychedelic folk rock thread. Like Rowe above, this one is a ‘grower’ so live with it for a while. You may very well decide that this release is a lost treasure from a talent-filled past.
USA – https://amzn.to/3IAcP0A
EUROPE – https://amzn.to/3ElkYU3
THESE ANIMAL MEN
Title: Accident & Emergency
I must admit that this band is new to me and, glancing at the sleeve here, just for a moment, I thought I was looking at a solo singer-songwriter cleverly placed in four poses with different instruments when, flipping over, realised it was a 4-piece band! Well done that hairdresser and make up artist, says I.
In fact, what we have here is a lost pre-Britpop, neo-new wave band from the mid 90s that was hit and swept aside by the competing Britpop phenomena.
This second album (reissued by UK label Demon; www.demonmusicgroup.co.uk) appeared in 1997 after the group were knocked sideways by that run-away genre train, during their 1995 debut.
Desperate to recover and make up lost ground, in this release, the boys turn the energy up to 11, hit the ground running with often quirky rock, varied instrumentation, twisting and squirming vocals and become a sort of glam-punk combo.
Despite the effort, the band never gained traction, sinking without trace. Even so, this is a full-on indie rocker that’s worth a look.
USA – https://amzn.to/3SbGCQi
EUROPE – https://amzn.to/3ScBYBw
Title: Honey Bop
Another 10” release from the German Bear Family label (www.bear-family.com) focuses on the queen of rockabilly. What we have here are her early rockers, created when she was just flabbergasted by Elvis. She sings her own Baby Love Him and Mean Mean Man but also rips though (Let’s Have A) Party and who can forget Fujimama Mama! Which she picked up from the catalogue and made her own. In this 10” you will experience the Wonder of Wanda. Oh and check out the liners by top historian, Bill Dahl.
USA – https://amzn.to/3k4NDWJ
EUROPE – https://amzn.to/3EkfOrr
Title: Kel Tinariwen
The Tuareg are a nomadic people related to the Berbers. They live in the Sahara desert and roam a vast area within that region. Tinariwen features a group of Tuaregs, a guitar-based outfit who play desert blues, mixing African and Western rock styles. Forming in 1978, the group released their first album in 1991, reissued here and sourced, from what I can make out, from a cassette tape.
Issued via Wedge (https://tinariwenmusic.bandcamp.com/album/kel-tinariwen), the style can vary from a deep, considered blues to a more up-tempo, melodic yet quite hypnotic light rock style utilising both male and female vocals. If I was going to compare, in cultural terms, this music with any other, it would be Native American. Not wholly, of course but there are elements of commonality between the two. They share an underlying yearning quality to their presentation.
USA – https://amzn.to/3KhMfKU
EUROPE – https://amzn.to/3ICj3Nf
Title: Decius Vol.1
Released by Leaf, this dance-based compilation collects a series of 12” releases via the talents of Fat White Family’s Lias Saoudi, Trashmouth Records’ Liam and Luke May and Quinn Walley (Paranoid London and Warmduscher). Plugging back into classic house (although the actual influence has been lost to time, apparently…I can hear a bit of Josh Wink in there, although maybe that’s just my own dance history bias popping though) this one sounds like a retro celebration from the late 80s/early 90s musical revolution where anything and everyone was suddenly possible in musical, if not cultural, terms.
USA – https://amzn.to/417lpep
EUROPE – https://amzn.to/3ICjrLH
JOHN LEE HOOKER
Title: The Healer
Reissued via Craft and including contributions from Carlos Santana, Robert Cray, Canned Heat, Bonnie Rait, Charle Musslelwhite and more, this Bernie Grundman-mastered issue was originally release in 1989 on Zomba. The featured stars grabbed the headlines, as did Hooker’s comeback but to be honest? Those self-same stars get in the way.
I really wanted to hear the man do his thing. Any ‘guests’ should have been there to support and then fade into the background, not stamp their own personality onto the project. The title track being a case in point. This travesty feels like a Santana track with Hooker as the guest. I feel sorry for Hooker, surrounded by a bunch of celebs who appeared to want nothing more than a ‘Look at me!” selfie, while standing next to their hero.
USA – https://amzn.to/3ID1IUI
EUROPE – https://amzn.to/3IzWLf8
Title: DJ Kicks: Detroit Forward
The DJ man from Detroit has been spinning the wheels of downtempo steel for a long time and is not afraid to dip his hand into a host of varied genres while keeping soul as his central tenet and his long-term respect for classic ditties.
The Parrish style is all about time. The longer you hang around a Parrish set, that more you hear, the more you learn. The greater its complexity and depth.
This triple album set on the DJ Kicks imprint and includes cuts from Ian Fink, Howard Thomas, Jason Hogans, Specter, Raj Mahal and more.
Combining hip hop and jazz and house and more, this long outing stretches into many directions. Some may accuse it of lacking direction but Parrish is always there as a guide, keeping the flavour constant.
USA – https://amzn.to/411vdGK
EUROPE – https://amzn.to/3IhNsPT
Title: The Hunna
Formed during 2015 in sunny Watford, indie rock band The Hunna has produced a self-titled fourth album on Believe (https://www.thehunnaofficial.com) that sounds more like pop-rock than anything with a gritty edge.
This is streaming-friendly, big guitar, approachable rock with a formulaic approach to the genre that aims to hook the unwary. Their earlier work was based on overly recognisable structures and familiar arrangements. This one is better but there’s still nothing here to grab my attention. There is a predicability to this rock that ensures their popularity in the commercial sphere.
In terms of innovation, though? Stamping their own mark onto the genre? I’m not so sure. Keep working guys, and I’ll check back with you in 10 years. Hopefully the evolution will have resulted in something worthwhile.
USA – https://amzn.to/3KnJPue
EUROPE – https://amzn.to/41bAN9s
PANDA BEAR/SONIC BOOM
Released on Domino (www.dominomusic.com), I wasn’t sure if I was listening to a modern recording or possibly lost releases from The Beach Boys. Maybe the clue is the album title but there is a wholly retro feel to this one. A real 60s pop atmosphere but with plenty of (subtle) electronic punctuation to remind you all that this is 2023. Even so, if you spin this one and close your eyes, you’d swear that you were back in 1966. In Brian Wilson’s sand pit.
Sonic Boom (ex-Spacemen 3) and Panda Bar (ex-Animal Collective) form an unusual couple on this one but it’s fascinating one. It’s almost like a musical investigation, “Knowing what you know right now. Yet being constrained by the milieu and musical evolution of the mid-60s. What would be the result? What sort of music would you produce?” This is one answer. As a musical experiment, it’s fascinating.
USA – https://amzn.to/3XE6zco
EUROPE – https://amzn.to/3YK2Kno
Title: Under This Hunger Moon We Fell
Released by One Little Independent (www.olirecords.com) this is an avant-electronica piece from the Scot who lives by a Loch and contemplates life. While building musical machines. Oh and lots of tape loops. In effect, this is the third part in a looping trilogy, of sorts (with Lost Loops and LŪP being the other two)
I say electronica, that’s the heart of this work but there’s organic items in there to add contrast and texture while vocal interjections also provide a human angle that can provide a welcome frailty and gentleness to the work here. The tempo varies quite a bit from ambience to beat-driven electronics, utilising melodic hooks to more soundscape work. The more I lived with this release, the more I discovered and the more I grew to like it.
USA – https://amzn.to/3IzEMWj
EUROPE – https://amzn.to/3IELfiU