A lovely record from Leslie Feist. Metals is her second album under the Feist, moniker and it is another gem. A whiff of Americana on opener, ‘The Bad in Each Other’ followed by, ‘Graveyard’. You know the album is a winner when someone can make a song called ‘Graveyard’ sound joyous.

 

There are heart rending ballads, electronica, pop and indie on this record and unlike the rather bleak album cover the album itself is warm and rich and very listenable on the ears.

 

‘Caught in the Wind’ has a Kate Bush like grandeur and a soul vibe kicks off ‘How Come You Never Go There’. So as you can see that the album has a varied pace.

 

It could I guess be considered a pop record but, Leslie Feist comes from the (recently disbanded) indie playground of Broken Social Scene, just listen to ‘A Commotion’, her indie song writing credentials, laid bare.  

 

From 'Anti Pioneer' the album takes a Jazz, Blues feel then onto those ballads mentioned before. This is first and foremost an album of finely crafted original songs which should be welcomed into any collection,

 

10/11

Pete  

The Bad in Each Other
Graveyard
Caught a Long Wind
How Come You Never Go There
A Commotion
The Circle Married the Line
Bittersweet Melodies
Anti Pioneer
The Undiscovered First
Cicadas and Gulls
Comfort Me
Get it Wrong, Get it Right

This has album has been a regular visitor to my headphones for the past couple of months, so it must be time to award it a review. Starting with the gently parping horns of 'Dark Horse' you are immediately drawn into the world of Other Lives - slightly mysterious, slightly ethereal, but a world that's as warm and inviting as a womb. 'As I Lay My Head Down' has a slightly Eastern European feel to its rhythms and backing, and then the brilliant 'For 12'  swoops in on a cloud of swirling strings with an  almost spaghetti western feel to the guitars. 

The title track is next, with some bar-room piano beginning the song, which continues with a melancholy air, and then 'Dust Bowl III' starts with a simple acoustic guitar before turning into something much grander, with rhythmic drums and a swell of instruments. 'Weather' is an unusual track, feeling unstructured and loose but with vocals and instruments harmonising, it rises and drops through the song, winding its way through your head.  

'The Future' is the new album from duo Brad and Jessica Lauretti from Brooklyn, New York. Sounding much more like lovers than brother and sister, their second album is warm and touching with just the right amount of pathos. Recorded in an old school house in Wassaic (upstate NY) with engineer Justin Pizzoferrato, there's an intimacy and empathy in the music and lyrics that draws the listener in. If the occasional track veers a little to closely to the country border (I'm looking at you 'Key West') there's enough rough edges on some of the other tracks like 'Space Baby' and 'Just Because' to ensure that your attention remains. The melancholy vibe is at times reminiscent of some of Richmond Fontaine's quieter moments, and there's a nice emotional edge to Brad's voice. 

In some ways this is almost an American alt country version of the Big Deal album 'Lights Out' that came out in the UK a couple of months ago - it's got the same deceptively simple air that draws the listener in, and there's plenty of musical variation to be found behind the simple acoustic facade. And while ultimately it might not be quite as satisfying as the Big Deal record it's still got enough talent and charm to make it worth recommending. The band played the End of the Road festival last month, so if you were lucky enough to see them there then well done, the rest of us will just have to hope they return to these shores soon. 

This band had a lot of mystique and intrigue about them after the release of their debut album ‘Survival’ in 2009, which included Sharon van Etten on guest vocals. The sound was mature beyond the band’s years and carried a really thrilling air about it (much like Wild Nothing recently). The sophomore album from Forest Fire, ‘Staring At The X’ does therefore have something to live up to.

 

No worries on that score however, as the album should spread like a…err…forest fire. It’s a big, big sound from these young merchants of sophisticated and measured noise.

 

The guitar is magnificent throughout with flashes of the riffs of Television’s Richard Lloyd and Pink Floyd’s Dave Gilmour.

 

Eight songs and that 'big sound' surrounds you from the off, on 'Born Into'. The song for all its emotion and musical complexities finishes abruptly after three minutes when really it could go on for another three.

 

‘Future Shadows’ with those aforementioned guitar riffs and forward looking electronics changes the pace. Same thing with 'The News' - Roxy Music sax, nice guitar riffs and punctuation, yet just as the guitar gets magnificently intense the song finishes, after just two and a half minutes. Frustration is growing but let’s hope the live shows bring some extended solos.

 

Don’t be discouraged by just eight songs, there is a great deal of technical musical accomplishment in the music on the record, the climax of which is the seven minutes (!) plus, ‘Visions in Plastic’ which ends the record on a mighty fine note.

On 10th October, Sallie Ford and the Sound Outside will be releasing their debut album, Dirty Radio via Fargo which is a raw, sweet, crisp, clear gem of rockabilly and blues.

Sallie Ford comes into the Imelda May league, very distinctive and powerful with a voice to fill a room without doubt. Hailing from Asheville, North Carolina, and now based in Portland, where the band earned major fans in The Decemberists and The Avett Brothers”, you really get a live feel from the album all the way through.

 

Slow dark beginning on ‘I Swear’ much like a dark scene in a western movie then, like a rattle snake coming into view, Sallie’s vocals pierce the air and grab your full attention immediately. 

SuperHeavy; A new group with a guy who knows his reggae, a lady with a fabulous voice and vocal range and a man who should really be fronting a rock n’ roll band with, his raw intensity, as he spits out the lyrics. Actually not so new, after all, the Super group that is SuperHeavy is Mick Jagger, Joss Stone, A. R. Rahman, Dave Stewart and Damian Marley but for a moment, disregard the heavyweight members and give the music a listen.

 

A record packed to the brim with music, nothing wasted or lacking in the production, musicianship or presentation. There is a budget here but, with that budget comes pressure. These guys could has just as easily tripped themselves up and produced a lemon, but this record has all come together.

 

First bands that spring to mind when listening to Widowspeak are Camera Obsura,The Bookhouse Boys and Wye Oak. 

For opener ‘Puritan’ the guitar whips around Molly’s dreamy vocals. Reverb guitar with that ethereal voice, on ‘Harsh Realm’ and you just can't go wrong and the album is set on it’s path. 

‘Nightcallers’ sparks the image of a flowing red dress, the maiden hanging onto the mic for all she is worth as the guitars loop and swoop around her. 

For her third album of intricate pop songs, Annie Clark recruited John Congleton as producer, Beck keyboardist Brian LeBarton, and Midlake drummer Smith to record in her hometown of Dallas, Texas. The result is a very classy album, in fact the finest solo record yet that St. Vincent has delivered.

The record is quite spellbinding and never drops its interest for the listener throughout its entire length. With numerous twists and turns both lyrically and musically, the album has a freshness with every play. It is an album that will leave people out there who download just a few random tracks in a quandary because the style changes so much throughout the album. If you are one of those guys, sorry but you will need to download the whole record!

This is not an album you leap to put on when the sun is out and you feeling up, without a care in the world but this is actually, an album you may well readily put on first thing in the morning (idea for that early morning dazed train commute) or, last thing at night or just perhaps, when everything is not so rosy in your Garden.

 

Ex-Sparklehorse musician Adam Wiltzie, and composer Dustin O'Halloran are A Winged Victory For The Sullen. They have produced a solemn even reverential recording of beautiful music, piano, strings, an ambience woven into a spider’s web of contentment.

I have been giving this album a few listens over the past 3-4 weeks and actually gave it a break and then went back to it, just to see if it had some lasting power. It does!

 

This record is a ragged blues-fuelled classic, with a modern twist. The guitar lines cut like a razor blade on opener 'You're in my blood', and 'Heart rested with you' is pure classic Rock. Thunderous stuff!

 

The new record follows their eponymous 2009 debut which was filed under the nu-folk bracket. If that was the case, then the record that you could soon be holding in your hands is a seismic change.

 

Since 2009, Kill It Kid have been earning their spurs via relentless touring, inspired by the old blues warriors, although the band actually hails from Bath. Still, that was the home of the famous Blues festival of 1969/70 so there must be something in the water.

A delightful five song taster of a lot more to come hopefully from Diagrams and Sam Gendes, an ex stalwart of hip folk collective Tunng.

The songs are very varied on the ep from the opening of ‘Night All Night’  with an acoustic  base and honey rich vocals, a lovely song , to the second song  which adds brass and strings and just about a much fun  as you can have with a song, that’s the free flowing  ‘Antelope’ .

Hill brings in some electronics and yet another change of pace.  ‘Woking’ again a nice song this time, with a big ‘Elbow’ feel. Final song Icebreakers is just plain beautiful in a folk groove, with added thunder.

So in conclusion a superb ep that certainly leaves us eager for more.

Diagrams play the End of The Road Festival this weekend and the physical EP still seems to be on Amazon, so get it while you still can.

Pete

9/11

From the opening cords and blast of horns we are comfortable, warm, cosy and happy in familiar territory. ‘A Candle's Fire’ the opening song is pure and simply, sublime. 

‘The Rip Tide’ is (as usual with Beirut) short at 33 minutes but, I guess as the saying goes, "always leave them wanting more"
 
Santa Fe is equally impressive as the opener, pure joy. ‘East Harlem’ is a change of pace to Zach Condon’s delicate side. ‘Goshen’ has beautiful piano set against Zak's vocals and that ever present brass chimes in.
 
On ‘Paynes Bay’ the horns (is there a clarinet there?) are heart wrenching at the start before the song catches pace and the title song, The Rip Tide' is an epic.
 
Like the early autumn chill that has been affecting the UK in recent days, you may well have been grabbing that jumper out of the cupboard for extra warmth; that's exactly what The Rip Tide offers.
 
I'll leave the rest of the album for you to discover because, every home should own this album and yes after the final song 'Port of Call' we are left wanting more!
 
10/11
Pete
 
1. A Candle's Fire 
2. Santa Fe 
3. East Harlem 
4. Goshen 
5. Payne's Bay 
6. The Rip Tide 
7. Vagabond 
8. The Peacock 
9. Port Of Call 
 

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