Tag Archives: mX

Record review: All That Remains – The Order of Things (2015, LP)

all that remains

Springfield, Massachusetts rockers All That Remains have been plying their trade for nigh on 15 years, and with over a million record sales and fingers in the pies of death metal, heavy metal and metalcore, the quintet have plenty to draw on for album number seven. However, the follow up to 2012’s A War You Cannot Win still manages to fall flat. Singer Phil Labonte has courted controversy in the past, but he’s in a more reflective mood here, albeit set to a series of tunes that, if listed in order, could almost write this review by themselves. ‘This Probably Won’t End Well’, ‘Pernicious’ and ‘Bite My Tongue’ describe the feelings these tunes produce at various points. “We have to get through this,” Labonte sings on gentler number ‘For You’, in a moment that makes a whole lot of sense, while he pleads “Don’t give up on me now” on ‘A Reason For Me To Fight’. Brooding closer ‘Criticism and Self-Realisation’ is all about “finding the strength to carry on” through a difficult seven minutes, and rounds off an overly bland and generic set of tracks. Founding guitarist Oli Herbert pulls off some nice melodic licks and drummer Jason Costa is a powerhouse throughout, but take these things away and all that remains is a firm feeling that this album is one for the hardcore fans only. (Cooking Vinyl)

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Record review: Clowns – Bad Blood (2015, LP)

clowns bad blood

Here’s a question you’d expect to hear at a football riot, not read in a music review: who’s ready to have their face ripped off? This second album from Melbourne punk quartet Clowns will not only do brutal things to your kisser, but it’ll have a go at putting your ears out of commission while it’s at it. Their 2013 debut album was a savage tribute to partying and punk rock, and while Bad Blood continues in a similar vein, it comes with a growing range and belief. Like a school bully who lets you think you’re off the hook before hitting you a slap, opener ‘Human Error’ takes a full minute to kick into gear; its scratchy riffs build anticipation for what’s to come. Single ‘Euthanise Me’ is an early highlight; its melodic elements and broken-down interludes are welcome additions to a powerful punk track. Next comes a trio of 90-second hammer blows in ‘Figure It Out’, ‘Infected’ and the title track, which is perhaps the most metal here. Closing anomaly ‘Human Terror’ is easily the most interesting; at 11 minutes it’s at least three times longer than anything else and isn’t a journey for the faint-hearted. While Clowns’ brand of punk is as ferocious as ever, it’s the longer songs that impress most, as the band have grown significantly in terms of musicianship since their debut. That isn’t going to do your face any good, all the same. (Poison City)

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Record review: Dorsal Fins – Mind Renovation (2015, LP)

dorsal fins

Hey, did anyone see the Grammys this week? No, me neither. I was too busy listening to the debut album by Melbourne ten-piece Dorsal Fins, and FOMO can GTFO because this stuff is smokin’. Patched together by Liam McGorry (Eagle & the Worm, Saskwatch) and members of the Bamboos and New Gods, Dorsal Fins are a band on a genre-bending trip of sometimes dreamy, always layered alt-pop that twists, turns and captivates at every moment. Just about everything is a high point; Ella Thompson’s perfect pop vocals on the express train of a synth-pop track ‘Monday Tuesday’ are especially fine, while McGorry doesn’t hold back on his social commentary cuss-fest ‘Jacqueline’. The fact that the first few bars of ‘Heart on the Floor’ sound like the drum intro to Spinal Tap’s ‘Big Bottom’ before the song turns into an ‘80s Madonna-esque pop ballad reflects the wonderfully random tangents the album takes throughout. Elsewhere, the title track cranks the psych-rock guitars while ‘Cut the Wire’ is all dark electronica, and there are beautiful and melancholy ballads in ‘Escape Me’ and ‘Superstar’. Being a ten-piece means that Dorsal Fins have a multitude of tricks up their sleeves, so hopefully this won’t be simply a side project to the band members’ other more well-known ventures. With this album, Dorsal Fins have marked themselves as serious contenders; not even a Grammy win could make me dislike them. (Gripless/Remote Control)

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Record review: Peace – Happy People (2015, LP)

peace happy people

English indie-rockers Peace are an infuriating bunch. Their 2013 debut was a promising affair; all early-90s influences and shiny approaches to love, life and happiness. On their Australian tour they proved themselves to be a powerful live act, capable of raining red-hot riffs on punters the length of the east coast. Why, then, is this second effort so excruciatingly dull? Is it the crippling sameness of the vast majority of the 18 tracks? The draining middle-class angst peppered heavily throughout the lyrics? Or just simply, the lack of a good tune or two? The combination of these things doesn’t leave much to be admired, except perhaps groovy single ‘Lost On Me’ and the rougher ‘I’m A Girl’; songs that provide hope that it’s only difficult-second-album syndrome that’s stuck its nose in here. Everything about the painfully atrocious ‘Someday’ and singer Harrison Koisser’s misguided suburban rapping on pseudo-funk sonic-fart ‘World Pleasure’ provide low points, while most of the rest blends into itself with nothing left but blandness. “Try to change the world you live in, oh you, try to make it better for your children, oh you,” he sings on opener ‘O You’ – and that, people, is your cue to dry retch, while closer ‘The Music Was To Blame’ pretty much sums up the whole album just by its title. Being a ‘big’ band is great and being a cult band is better, but unfortunately Peace are neither of these; for now they’re stuck somewhere in the murky middle, filed under “meh”. (Columbia)

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Record review: Belle and Sebastian – Girls in Peacetime Want To Dance (2015, LP)

belle and sebastian girls

Belle and Sebastian have always been somewhat of a perplexing quantity. At times brilliant, horrifically twee and infuriatingly vague all in the space of one album, the Scottish sextet has generally always been critically acclaimed during their near 20-year history, but have never translated that into commercial success. Will this ninth record change their fortunes? The answer is probably not, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a fine effort nonetheless. Wonderfully slick and soulful opener ‘Nobody’s Empire’ recalls the best poppy parts of 1998 classic The Boy With The Arab Strap while dealing with some pretty dark lyrics about singer Stuart Murdoch’s struggles with chronic fatigue syndrome. ‘Allie’ veers a little too closely to being Beach Boys-lite before exploding into life, and lead single ‘The Party Line’ is a surprisingly groovy disco number that makes you want to dance like John Travolta circa 1977. It becomes clear that eclecticism is still very much part of the band, as the indie misery of ‘The Cat with the Cream’ bleeds into club banger ‘Enter Sylvia Plath’. It’s a mixed bag up to this point, but one that’s fun and engaging, although the quality tails off a little towards the end, with the exception of the faux-calypso duet with Dum Dum Girls’ Dee Dee Penny on ‘Play For Today’. Ladies and gentlemen, hold on to your hats: Belle and Sebastian have relocated their mojo. (Matador)

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David Gray: “You have to leave everybody behind in spectacular fashion”

David Gray

His upcoming Australian visit has been a long time coming, so David Gray plans to grab the opportunity with both hands.

The 46 year-old Englishman is set to appear at Bluesfest at Byron Bay, as well as complete a run of theatre shows, but even after 25 years in the business the indie-rock veteran doesn’t take anything for granted.

“I love all the shows,” he says. “They’re all special. I’m more at home in an intimate setting, because so many of my songs tend that way, but I also have expansive songs, so I can deal with the outdoor situations. I’ve been doing it a long time, and I can sense that it’s finite these days. The commitment to make a record and tour around the world is one thing; it doesn’t come from an endlessly-replenishing well. You sort of have to leave everybody behind in spectacular fashion, friends and family and whatever. It’s a big commitment and I just treasure every opportunity. The last time I was at Bluesfest it was just a spectacular gig; everything just came together that night. There was a euphoria in the air that swept us away. If it’s anywhere even close to that this time we’re going to have a great gig.”

Gray last passed our way in 2009, so he’s keen to introduce Australian audiences to his new band.

“It’s great that we’re coming back to do a really meaningful tour this time, with what is a really wonderful incarnation of the band,” he says. “It features seven people singing, and in order to give voice to this new music, that is what I deemed necessary. As much as it is a financial and organisational nightmare, it’s quite something when it all cranks up and everybody starts singing away. It feels important that we come down and do something; it’s been too long.”

His 1998 breakthrough White Ladder has sold seven million copies and counting, and while much of that album still features in his show, Gray has a new approach to wowing crowds.

“When my voice is in the centre and the mass harmonies are happening in four parts, I sing my solo but everyone else’s is doubled in some way,” he says. “It gives it this big sound; like a bank of vocals. It’s special to be singing together and is a holy thing, I think; it’s as close to the bone as it gets in terms of the spirituality of music. To sing together is a really wonderful thing. That’s very much at the core of the show, and through the filter of this new band I’ve passed the older songs, particularly the ones where the big backing vocals can play a part; songs like ‘My Oh My’ and ‘Silver Lining’. Every time I have a band and go out, I try to re-jig the songs. I don’t just leave them as they are and drag them out of the cupboard, but I try to do something new with them.”

With a tenth studio album, Mutineers, released in 2014, Gray has a strong body of work to choose from and a wealth of experience in festivals and intimate shows.

“Big outdoor shows are different,” he says. “For an audience who might not be as familiar with my new record as they are with a lot of the older stuff, I’ll have to play a slightly different hand. I’ll just have to choose my moments and get my point home with the new music and a slightly different strategy. Also, you’re time-restricted. The current set is just over two hours, so it’ll feel really short to us. I’ll just have to make sure it’s peppered with the goodies from the new music, yet hits the right buttons in the right places. It’s a science when you play to lots of people outside; you can be dealing with the weather and all sorts of crazy stuff. A festival crowd aggregates out with different levels of interest; people are there to see you who perhaps aren’t such avid fans as those who came to see you in a theatre somewhere.”

A man who has been as successful as Gray could be forgiven for taking an extended holiday, but that’s not on the cards for the singer-songwriter.

“We have [single] ‘Snow in Vegas’ coming out in America, so if that hits it would mean more offers from promoters,” he says. “It could change the year if it does well. I’m intending to do some solo shows around Europe, and then there will be some festivals. I’ll be writing some new songs and maybe record a bit of an album; there are still several dozen songs from the Mutineers period waiting to be captured officially, so that’s about as far as I’ve got.”

David Gray tour dates:

State Theatre, Sydney – April 1&2
Bluesfest Byron Bay – April 4
Palais Theatre, Melbourne – April 5

Mutineers (Good Soldier Songs) is out now.

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Record review: Fences – Lesser Oceans (2015, LP)

fences lesser oceans

Fences is a Seattle-based musical project centred on the songs of vocalist and guitarist Christopher Mansfield. His approach to song-writing is different to many Seattle natives before him; you won’t find any of the grunge stylings of Nirvana or earthy folk of Fleet Foxes here. Indie-rock lite is the cornerstone of this particular album – the band’s second in five years – and while the general feeling of pleasantness can be a little tiring after ten songs, it’s perfect for Sunday mornings or polite company. Opener ‘Songs About Angels’ sounds sweet but has some fairly dark lyrics, possibly based on Mansfield’s past struggles with alcohol and a stint in rehab. Most well-known to Australian audiences would be sprightly single ‘Arrows’, which has had a decent share of radio play here, undoubtedly aided by an appearance by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis to add some big-name glamour as well as some well-placed cuss words in a pop setting. ‘My Mountain Is Cold’ features some nice mandolin touches and the title track references the band’s hometown with the words “it’s okay, it’s mostly grey,” before confirming that their biggest strength is their vocal interplay between Mansfield and bassist Lindsey Starr. This is a nice enough album, but the difference in quality between the Macklemore & Ryan Lewis tracks and everything else makes it a little disjointed, fostering a feeling that the album isn’t far off being a single with eight B-sides. (Elektra)

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Record review: Human Nature – The Christmas Album (2014, LP)

human nature

Human nature is roughly defined as the qualities which are common to humanity, so it comes as no surprise that this attempt at a Christmas album is the most vacuous form of crowd-pleaser. The Sydney vocal quartet’s pseudo-Motown shtick may be big in Vegas, but then so are gun crime and gambling away your kids’ inheritances, so don’t expect anything other than bitter disappointment from this album. All the obvious choices are here – ‘White Christmas’, ‘Winter Wonderland’, ‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer’ and a particularly cringeworthy rendition of ‘Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas’. It has to be assumed the regularly-excellent Jessica Mauboy’s appearance on ‘Sleigh Ride’ is a record company obligation, while the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra’s choice to be a part of ‘Amazing Grace’ could be described as foolish at best. The rest just sounds like a rejected boy band at an especially bad office party. Smokey Robinson provides the only touch of class on ‘Please Come Home For Christmas’, but it’s nowhere near enough to save this album from being re-gifted. In the end, it’s the contrivance that rankles most; nothing says Christmas like a bunch of soulless, insincere crooners flaccidly warbling their way through such an obvious attempt at lining their pockets. My IQ is lower, I feel like a lesser person and I may have nightmares after listening to this album. For the love of Santa’s sack, don’t let the same thing happen to you. (Sony)

Paolo Nutini: “Sometimes I let good things get me very high”

paolo nutini

It’s just gone lunchtime and Paolo Nutini isn’t having a great day.

“Sorry mate, the phone is making such a stupid noise right now. It’s this touchscreen phone thing they’ve got in the hotel – I just want to take my f**king hands to it, you know? It just won’t stop.”

Assurances that he can be heard perfectly and attempts to steer him towards the subject of music don’t deter the 27 year-old Scotsman from getting some choice complaints off his chest.

“I’m just in this hotel and it’s all so streamlined,” he says. “What I can’t stand are the taps and soap-dispensers. They should just have a handle that you turn to make the water come out, or a button you press to get soap. Now it’s all motion sensors; I’m standing in front of it like some sort of Jedi trying to wash my dirty hands, as if I have all day to stand here dancing with this f**king contraption.”

One subject that calms the multi-platinum-selling singer and songwriter down is Bluesfest, at which he will be performing in 2015, although it’s the memory of a previous festival experience that gets the conversation flowing most freely.

“The last time we played Bluesfest, I remember looking at the bill and seeing the name Rodriguez,” he says. “My friend had introduced me to his music when I was about 16 or 17, and I’ve always been fascinated by those two records of his. For years nobody knew anything about him; there was something otherworldly about him. People were wondering whether he was alive or not, and nobody could find out that information. I managed to meet the man himself that day. He was exactly what you would imagine, you know? Elegant, charming and everything I had hoped for. It was weird after that, because we got to know each other in a way; he came to our show in the States, I got to know his family and since then we’ve played on stage a couple of times together. One day I even got sent a little bit of footage of him singing my song ‘Last Request’, which is one of my prize possessions. Now, I play that song more the way he played it than I ever used to. I’m almost covering a cover of my own song. I’ve heard rumours of him making a new record; I just hope whoever is making it with him takes the right approach and makes it as good as it should be. I’m excited to hear what new music from him would be like.”

Nutini and his band will appear at the festival in April as part of a typically impressive line-up, which includes legendary funk godfather George Clinton.

“I love some of the mad sounds on the [Parliament/Funkadelic] records,” he says. “He’s a wild character and really individual. You don’t get a lot of George Clintons around in today’s music scene. The Black Keys are a great band; they seem to be smashing it wherever they go. And I believe there’ll be a bit of the Gypsy Kings as well. Alabama Shakes, Jurassic 5, Gary Clark Jr., Pokey LaFarge; it’s a pretty tasty bill. I’m just looking forward to getting on there playing, sampling the atmosphere and enjoying the fruits of the soil. I remember Byron Bay being a great smelling place [laughs].”

His latest album, Caustic Love, has earned rave reviews, but it only came about after over four years away from music; something Nutini offers several explanations for.

“Mainly because I’m f**king hopeless, that’s why,” he laughs. “Well, there’s an element of that, but sometimes I let good things get me very high and they can take me away somewhere. All of a sudden I can find that a few weeks have gone and that has had a knock-on effect when you’re working with other people as well – you can’t just pick up people and put them down. The other side of that is that I let negative things drag me down, you know? I can find myself wallowing; it’s something I’ve noticed about myself. Then I’ve just been liking the idea of working with my hands; I was getting a great sense of pleasure and achievement from days where maybe all I did was cook or plant a few things in the garden. I was picking up some wood and trying to do some carving. I was also travelling around places with no agenda; around Valencia and Barcelona then maybe to the Netherlands. I was re-tracing the footsteps of places I’d been on tour and not really seen much stuff, and I was writing all the time. I liked the fact that there was no schedule and no pressure. It’s nice to feel you’re not being challenged all the time. I think my body might’ve need a bit of life nutrition; I had to expand my mind a little bit.”

PAOLO NUTINI PLAYS BYRON BAY BLUESFEST SAT 4TH APRIL 2015. CAUSTIC LOVE IS OUT NOW.

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Record review: The Grates – Dream Team (2014, LP)

the grates dream team

The Grates duo of Patience Hodgson and John Patterson may have been heavily focussed on baking scones at their Brisbane tea rooms over the last couple of years, but don’t expect them to go all buttery and lose bite just because they’ve had their hands on more cupcakes than guitar strings of late. Written, recorded and produced within a week, and released on the band’s own label, Dream Team sees the pair, joined by beat-keeping barista Ritchie Daniels on drums, return to the frantic pop-punk of their formative years in the mid-noughties. The result is an album which gains much from the band’s sound losing its pop sheen, and is all the more exciting for it. Hodgson is in her finest shout-y form throughout, especially on opener ‘Call Me’ and the deceptively brutal ‘Dirty Hands’, and Patterson provides the chunky pop chords at all the right moments. Just when the assault doesn’t appear to be letting up, ‘It Won’t Hurt Anymore’ throws a sensitively-aimed curve ball as an unexpected highlight. While ‘Friends With Scum’ recalls X-Ray Spex, ‘I Wish I Was Alone’ owes a debt to every coming-of-age teen comedy film made in the late nineties. A streak of assured independence seems to have been the ingredient which has made the band rattle and roll once more, although it’s unlikely that a future holding album release parties would be more profitable than one involving bake-offs. One thing is for sure: Dream Team is as exciting as it is explosive. Welcome to The Grates’ finest moment. (Death Valley)

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Record review: Illy – Cinematic: Uncut (2014, LP)

illy cinematic uncut

Putting Melbourne rapper Illy’s latest album into some sort of frame of reference as a new release isn’t easy, as it’s not a new album at all. Cinematic: Uncut is simply a re-release of his successful 2013 Cinematic album, with six new tracks tacked onto the end to make it more tempting for the record-buying public to shell out their hard-earned dollars in these twisted times of rampant online thievery. The original album featured collaborations with the likes of Hilltop Hoods, Drapht and Daniel Merriweather, and peaked at number four on the ARIA charts, but does the new material make giving it another shot worthwhile? The answer is probably not, unless you’re a diehard fan, although the 28 year-old has plenty of those. New collaborations with Spit Syndicate and Way Of The Eagle and a re-record of his triple j ‘Like A Version’ are laudable enough efforts, but each of these doth not a new album make, while adding another mix of ‘Am Yours’ is pretty damn lazy. While ‘Tightrope’ remains one of the most annoyingly-catchy Australian songs released in the last twelve months, and there is plenty of decent material spread over the album, the addition of a feeble six new tracks leaves a bad taste in the mouth. There are plenty of re-releases which are as welcome as they are fascinating; offering previously unheard studio cuts or alternative versions which breathe new life into old songs. This isn’t one of them. (ONETWO)

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Record review: Food Court – Big Weak (2014, EP)

food court

Some garage bands should probably stay in the garage, and others have a duty to kick the door down and explode into the street with a furious blast of colour and imagination. Sydney’s Food Court is most certainly of the latter variety; this gang of jangly fuzzmeisters is exactly the type of shot in the arm Australian guitar-rock could do with right now. Recorded by Straight Arrows’ Owen Penglis and mastered by the always-excellent Mikey Young of Total Control/Eddy Current Suppression Ring, this seven-track EP takes more from ‘90s garage than it does from the original ‘60s wave, with hints of Weezer and early Green Day, and the results are all good. Single and opener ’14 Years Young’ is the obvious high point; its shouty chorus and brash guitars set the quartet’s stall out in no uncertain fashion. ‘Red Wine Teething’ is more measured, even if it reeks of hangovers and walks of shame, while ‘Dripping’ is rougher around the edges and points to what ought to be a pleasingly destructive live show. The cocky swagger of ‘On The River’ is a fitting climax to an EP that sits well beside anything from Palms to The Frowning Clouds, and a lot more besides. Building from here is what will make or break the band, but with only one song out of seven finishing up anywhere near the four-minute mark, this is urgent and necessary stuff from a promising addition to garage-rock goodness. (Independent)

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Alfie Granger-Howell of Dusky: “We tend to play quite eclectically”

dusky

Load up on Red Bull and bring your friends – English house duo Dusky will be playing some seriously lengthy sets on their Australian tour, says DJ Alfie Granger-Howell.

“We have already started our tour in the UK and Europe,” he says. “We’re doing extended sets; about four hours, which gives us the chance to play a lot of different music and new stuff.”

Formed in 2011, the duo rose quickly to play clubs and festivals internationally, including a recent appearance at Glastonbury.

“We hoped that it would kick off and turn into something big,” Granger-Howell says. “At the beginning we were both doing part-time work and other music work. It’s been a while now, but being able to just put our whole lives into Dusky has been pretty amazing, and not something that we really expected. It’s quite a short space of time, but the last three years have been a steady [rise] for us. At the same time, if we look back and think how much has changed for us, it does seem like a short space of time. We had some other music projects before – both producing and deejaying – but for Dusky, it does feel like it’s happened quickly.”

The upcoming Australian shows will give the duo – known for their eclectic tastes – a chance to air an abundance of new material.

“We’ve been playing a few new tracks in the set and people have been getting into the action, which is always good fun. We like to tailor our sets to the crowd’s reactions. Sometimes we’ll play something deeper, something more house or something more techno, depending on what the crowd is reacting to. Either way, we tend to play quite eclectically, so expect a few different styles and genres in the set.”

With an almost unbelievable six EPs already under their belts, expect a follow-up to 2012 debut album Stick By This to be released in the not-too-distant future, albeit after one more EP release.

“We just love the EP format,” Granger-Howell says. “We’ve always just had the music sitting there, so it makes sense to put them out, although we have a few tracks we keep just for our sets. We enjoy getting the music out there, seeing the reaction and letting people listen to it. We just enjoy doing it, and to me it doesn’t seem like a huge amount of music, but I guess when you really look at it, it is a lot. We are aiming to release another album at some point next year, which we have been working on. We began working on it alongside our future EP. It’s probably about halfway there now; we’ve got about six or seven tracks finished, so it’s well on the way.”

With such an eclectic range of music emanating from the mixing desks of two people, it’s certain that they won’t agree on everything, says Granger-Howell.

“We’ve got quite similar tastes but we both listen to stuff outside of dance music that we don’t necessarily share the love of. Looking at my musical background, I’ve been into a lot of classical music and jazz which I don’t think Nick has any affinity to. He listens to some electronica and old soul stuff; I wouldn’t say I hate them, but I wouldn’t listen to them.”

DUSKY PLAY:

FRI 7 – THE MET, BRISBANE
SAT 8 – HARBOURLIFE, SYDNEY
SUN 16 – QUEEN VICTORIA MARKET, MELBOURNE

THEIR LATEST EP, LOVE TAKING OVER, IS OUT NOW VIA 17 STEPS.

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Record review: Damien Rice – My Favourite Faded Fantasy (2014, LP)

damien rice

Damien Rice has never seemed like one to chase commercial success, but he found it nevertheless with his 2002 debut O; an album which broke a thousand hearts and made the Irishman a reluctant star. It says a lot that he waited four years to release a follow up, and it’s taken a further nine for this third album to appear, but his lack of commercial ambition remains steadfast, if his inclusion of the letter ‘u’ in ‘favourite’ is anything to go by. The recent disturbing trend of middle-class whiners posing as earthy folkies and finding success is not one Rice could ever be associated with, as he gets straight into showing off his vocal range with the opener and title track. The nine-minute soaring ballad that is second track ‘It Takes A Lot To Know A Man’ could be a mini-album in itself and is worth the price tag alone, whereas ‘The Greatest Bastard’ comes straight from the school of Nick Drake. ‘I Don’t Want To Change You’ will have global audiences singing along while shedding a sea of single tears, and there’s the expected healthy dose of melancholy spread over ‘Long Long Way’ and ‘Trusty And True’. Rice has never sought fame, but when you’re this good a songwriter, it’s going to find you all by itself, and even an album of only eight songs like this seems like an embarrassment of riches. (Atlantic)

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Record review: Lanie Lane – Night Shade (2014, LP)

lanie lane night shade

Ahh, how good it is to have a new album from Lanie Lane. It’s been a long three years since the Sydneysider’s debut To The Horses, in which time she’s supported Jack White and Hall & Oates before falling a little off the radar. Such a break brings with it the chance of new sonic territories being explored, and the first thing that hints at a change in musical direction is the distinct lack of anything rockabilly-related on the cover. ‘I See You’ is the first of several more measured and tender tracks from the 27 year-old, as it quickly becomes clear that this album will go a long way to shaking off the ’50s rockabilly pin-up crown that Lane had previously made for herself. However, while the uptempo bops are seemingly a thing of the past, the restrained nature of Lane’s vocals on a series of ballads and country-pop numbers only serves to make them even more entrancing, as on the soaring ‘La Loba’ and later number ‘Made For It’. Single ‘Celeste’ begins with some wonderfully jangly guitar lines before Lane’s smooth and soulful vocals will make you not give a damn that rockabilly ever existed. ‘No Sound’ is the track closest to the Tarantino-flavoured work of Lanie Lane of old and is most likely to get a bar gig kicking into gear, and while the ten-and-a-half-minute ‘Mother’ perhaps takes the mick, it’s still the slower tracks that sound best. It’ll be interesting to see how Lane pulls these songs off live, and what lies ahead for her in terms of how any future record sounds, but a move this ballsy deserves admiration and support. While Night Shade is a big change in style and might not please everyone, the value of what’s been added is worth many times that of what’s been lost. (Ivy League Records)

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