When TheRockClub sent me a link for ‘Shadow Land’ by Ben de la Cour with the question if I would like to review it, I briefly clicked on a few tracks and replied, “Yes, sounds right up my street”. It was only once I started listening properly that I realised just how totally up my street this was. I have not been able to stop playing it since.

Listening to a record for review reminds me of listening to albums in my early teens. Anyone who grew up before online music will remember how you could only afford so many records, so once you had bought an album you played it over and over until you liked it. When I get an album for review, I feel that in order to do it justice I should play it at least ten times. Then I start reading about the artist, perhaps listen to a podcast, follow them on social media. And after all that I can’t help being drawn in. This is something I have now invested in, and I am bound to like it. Of course albums that grow on you are the most enduring in the long run.

In a week when the press is commenting on the trend towards solo artists dominating the music landscape and the consequent demise of bands, it’s a refreshing tonic to hear an album like Rehearsal from Australian ‘garage punk’ outfit Skegss. The words garage punk intentionally placed in inverted commas here as I’m not certain this label truly applies to (or would be welcomed by) this band, such is their penchant for producing songs across a wide variety of styles all with witty lyrical content and unfailingly packing a punch at every turn.

Press play on opening track 'Goodtimes', and you're met by a synth line that melts into shimmering guitars, before first line on the album states "I just wanna have a good time, I don't wanna waste my whole life"............we all echo that thought guys, and listening to this album on repeat helps with that.

William The Conqueror is the name of the band led by Scottish-born songwriter Ruarri Joseph. It’s also the name of Joseph’s alter ego and subject of his semi-autobiographical book. As to the band’s sound, they are described in some quarters as a rock folk outfit, elsewhere as a power trio. For me a useful reference point is Willy Mason, with a huge sprinkling of Bob Dylan.

Many of you will know Jon Boden from being the recipient of a record number (11 to date fact fans) BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards, a member of folk duo (with Jon Spiers) Spiers & Boden, as creator and performer of the 'Folk Song A Day' website and most famously as band leader of the much missed (and for the record one of the best live bands you're unlikely to ever see again) folk big band Bellowhead.

The new full length release from Benjamin John Power a.k.a. Blanck Mass (and one half of Fuck Buttons) is something of a departure. Consisting of only two tracks (one per side of the nicely coloured vinyl), it’s a genre defying album that branches out from Power’s usual sound in a way that’s immensely creative and satisfying.

It would have been easy in these (cliche alert!) 'unprecedented times' to write a bunch of songs reflective of the mood arising from the ongoing pandemic i.e. a main course of dystopia, drizzled with angst accompanied with a side order of despair. So, it's metaphorical cap doffed to new Sheffield based art pop group Fondness (Tom Darwent, Beau Foletti and musical guide and long-term pal Robin Downe) for releasing an EP so positively uplifting, it almost smiles at you.

Sports are Oklahama duo Cale Chronister + Christian Theriot. They met at middle school and even at age 13 they found a bond in breaking out of conformity of their small-town surroundings; an adolescent common ground that soon translated into making music. The Sports marque came about a decade later, a name chosen simply because their parents were all massive sports fans.

A dreamy record for dark times. Distractions is not ‘a lockdown album’. As singer Stuart Staples says, “I think the confinement provided an opportunity for something that was already happening. It is definitely a part of the album, but not a reaction to it.”

It’s not every day that you listen to an artist who has a PhD in Ethnomusicology but, Kat Danser’s 6th album One Eye Open show sthe Ethnomusicologist to be in good form.

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