Kurt Vile – Bottle It In

Kurt Vile is an Indie darling, some say. His introspective, gentle airs connect beautifully for fans; he’s still a well kept secret but the rumours are out. This album follows that approaching hubbub by making a statement, it’s big, there’s a sweep, it tells us he got here in his own terms and that won’t change. The main difference between this and last album ‘b’leive i’m going down…’ is the length of the songs and the slight turning up of his guitar, he’s posing almost as a laugh at singer songwriter rockers on the cover; this all works extremely well here.

Of course, Vile can be seen as Soft Rock with an Indie vocalising. There’s that, well constructed and with some Laurel Canyon lyricism in ‘Loading Zones‘, it happens on ‘Check Baby‘ too, there’s 8 minutes of tough Folk and Neil Young touches; it’s too long for that and ‘Bassackwards‘ (geddit?) is a sweet lie in the grass on a Summer day, so perhaps 10 mins is exactly right.

‘Rollin’ With The Flow‘ has exactly the melody heard on Radio 2 in the ’70’s, Country Pop nugget, it should as it’s a Charlie Rich cover, an easy going feel for an unhurried album.

This album is a lesson in calming down, taking it easy, the title track and ‘Skinny Mini‘ do what they do over again with little variation for 10 minutes. It’s his, a large statement of personal music he challenges us to get inside of, this is why his banjo and Fleetwood Mac style of ‘Come Again‘ is so charming and the slight Indie, Country, New Wave shimmer of ‘Yeah Bones‘ works so well.

The other Kurt, Weill, produced discordant but vital music mixed with wonderful lyrical moments. It’s just what this Kurt Vile does. They both produced the music they wanted, this Kurt wants us to lean back on a couch and enjoy the unfolding loveliness in whatever way you wish. You’ll even savour the dregs from this Bottle.

Out On Matador

Remedy Rating: 4/5 Bed Rest

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The Manchester Malcontent

Manchester Storm 3 v Sheffield Steelers 4
Sheffield, 21st October 2018

Well, we won. Finally. We lost a 3 goal cushion but won in OT and Dundee are a strong team this season, albeit with a seemingly poor OT record. But we won and it’s been a bit up and down so far, but with some real green shoots of that ‘click’ we all want.
But that up and down hasn’t been experienced by the Steelers. In previous seasons it would be just ups. This season they’re waiting for that. They’ve lost their coach and understandably will take time to bed in new staff, but fans used to success may not want to wait. Last night they were hammered 7-1 by a flying Devils so tonight, at their place, should be a fun ride. We won in OT last time, didn’t we? It’s well set up.

We quickly had to call Ginn into action, and then they bundled one in. Within 17 seconds. We need to react. Quickly. We scrambled a bit, we tried to settle, but their pressure looked dangerous.

We’ve started to score on PPs…come on…oh, for God’s sake, turnover, shorthanded goal. They battled. We capitulated. They were first to everything. Guess what the outcome of that it?

0-2

They wandered though, Ginn saved us. We had a shot! Yay. And Bakker got some hustle in, leading to a roughing pen. Can’t do anything these days, particularly as 5 Steelers piled on in him and got nothing.
So…PK. Ginn was quite busy…We survived.

We had another shot! Yay.

Our shape became a bit better. And our pressure created a PP. Now, try not to let the team with 4 score against the team with 5…We looked dangerous, swarming even, Steelers sitting it out.

And they hit our crossbar, but it was more end to end. We had a shot. Yay.

Ryan needed to earn his corn. We just weren’t in most of that period. Little hustle, little connection, little heart.
Roll on Period 2…

Well, we were more competitive at the start of the 2nd. But had few options up front. And then we did. We got the crossbar. Now let’s build. And we pinged it off the frame again! Auger and Linsmayer went close too. And as for a miscontrolled puck, Byers would have been in.

And then the forward traction was stopped by a pen on Hammond. Ginn stood firm and it evened up with a slash on him; now let’s get that momentum back. But we couldn’t. A long shot hit Ginn in the face and Pitt was quicker, wanted it more. How do you not want it more against Sheffield? Maybe Ryan can explain the history to them…

0-3.

We had a 5-3 for a bit. Not excited. Passes awry in front of goal, little communication.

Blimey, a PP goal! Bundled in by Auger.

1-3!

And so we shipped another but reviewed as a Steeler was all over Ginn. And they called it out! Steeler fans didn’t seem too upset..maybe they felt they could score at will.

Which they almost did from the restart. We had another missed pass go Ruopp, shot long and handbags occurred. A slapshot hit our Richardson, we didn’t turn D to O quickly enough, we saw more of the puck, Whistle had to save, then Ginn bundled one out.
And two chances for Hammond, after a great Ginn pass, not taken.
A better period, but not great yet. More hustle but not enough offensive understanding. 2 dings though and well set up for the 3rd…

OK then. A delay. Water. Thought Sheffield were a premier organisation. They had to get a squeegie out. A squueedgie…a stripe doing it…ridiculous.

Quite even to start, Stadel foiled by Whistle after a simple move. An open period, one we needed to control. Big boarding on McMillan, but he got up, looked close to a pen to me…

Whistle reached an arm out and kept the puck out, Steelers desperate for a call on a challenge which wasn’t half as bad as the one on McMillan.
And we allowed them to nip in and score again. No defenders near their player, just leave him alone lads, see what he’ll do.

4-1

OK, Bakker pounced on one after a Whistle save. A bit better..

4-2!

They tried an empty net on a delayed pen. And it’s a PK, a blatant McMillan trip on a Steeler allowed to skate so close to the net. 2 Ginn saved. Handbags with Bakker. Extra handbags. Hmmm…2 off, still a PP, 1 min to go. We killed it.
And then Ruopp had a go for afters. But Steelers called on it. PP expectations…had a go early on, shot after shot. Nothing doing.

What’s Ryan’s big idea at 2 mins? Pull Ginn. A Sheff pen, so 6 on 4. They win the draw, they get it away, they want the win. We want to go home. And then Stadel had to dive into the net to chase an empty net shot. And Ginn back in. What a mess.

A goal at 0:00?

4-3!

Sounds better than it was.

Sheffield were at the bottom of the league. The bottom. They outplayed us. We didn’t seem have the heart or ideas. It wasn’t good. A rollercoaster season so far. It’s making me sick.
Remedy Rating: 2/5 Fetch Me A Mirror, Is The Patient Dead?

Greta Van Fleet – Anthem Of The Peaceful Army

In which we see if Greta Van Fleet are a great Led Zeppelin style band or they can really stand on their own. Does it really matter? They seem to be doing OK with that label anyway, but don’t bands want to spread their wings and take flight?

‘Age Of Man‘ starts the album off slowly, preparing you, Josh Kiszka sounding very like Geddy Lee, it’s a bit 70’s Rush in fact, the rolling groove rather like something you’d hear on ‘A Farewell To Kings‘, but the middle is a huge, rather shapeless organ backed arena botherer. It’s followed by a more expected and frankly better Blues roller ‘The Cold Wind‘, contained power, very Zep and an openness which allows you to be right in the song, which continues on the twitchy floor shaker ‘When The Curtain Falls‘, Jake Kiszka’s riff cooing round you, breaking out for a simple but blastoff chorus.

‘The New Day‘ takes it down with organ goodness, lovely tight drum sound and an ever present shaker, the harmonies take us up, the song never lets us down and if ‘Anthem‘ disappoints as it joins the ranks of semi acoustic self regard, ‘Lover, Leaver‘ is tight as Percy’s 70’s strides, dirty riff, attacking vocals, backline pushing forward always, the middle a statement of intent, the hips will shake on this one…

Come on, the percussion and drums in the middle of ‘Mountain Of The Sun‘ will surely make you move, that huge riff in ‘Watching Over‘ is bound to make you smile, the barroom electric joanna lurking at the back of ‘You’re The One‘ will make you nod your head. In fact the latter become a huge and gorgeously proportioned organic Rock Ballad.

And they end with an extended ‘Lover, Leaver‘, adding (‘Taker, Believer’) and a woozy, then bass led exploration before we roar back into a climbing solo and vocal, strangely, the groove seems to much bigger in this version and may become their signature track, so cool yet so hot is it.

Greta Van Fleet havent dodged expectation here; after the change in sound of the first up ‘Age Of Man‘, they’ve looked at the sound which brought them to the party and thought ‘this is what we do, how can it be better?’ Well, ‘better’ is a relative term, that debut ep created a thrill they’ll never have again because we know them now, so this album shows them settling into their sound, taking the foot off the gas, opening out and by adding that air, making these songs sound even bigger.

This is a triumph. Have they become their own band? Well, this is on their own terms; they’ve done the more difficult thing of taking that music we know and settling into it, making us want more of what we know and love. That’s tough to do. Greta Van Fleet manage it with ease.

Anthem? Several here. Peaceful? Not with this rafter shaking riot. Army? Their fans may soon number one.

Out On Republic

Remedy Rating : 5/5 Another Successful Appointment

V Sparks – Moderne Life

What a great band V Sparks are, not really touching any genre for very long, putting a foot in AOR, then dancing away, hugging New Wave then blowing a raspberry and winking.

They love their ep’s and this one uses that marvellous one note piano sound they have for a rather, sharper, New Wave attack, bass and drums thin, Alan Lewis’ vocals very late 70’s brittle, the chorus though is a marvellously sumptuous beast for opener ‘Remodel’. They do that Jellyfish calming, gentle Summer day breeze too, ‘Girlfriend‘ has a Glam centre, but a sweet, wandering verse, eventually running all over the place with youthful love. And talking if love, they beautifully meld the New Wave and Glammy AOR with the strutting, chuckling ‘ ‘Love Gun‘.

And then ‘Girlfriend‘ attacks in the way that Mott the Hoople used to, with a Sparks centre (of course) and rollicking guitar solo, at only 2 minutes, it leaves you wanting so much more, we get that with the quintessential V Sparks ‘The Game Of Everybody Knows It’s You‘, Vaudeville vocals then roaring Queen guitars and a sweep The Struts would covet, gorgeous guitaring from Prescott Kagan and Zach Duran, such a dramatic sass, it simply cannot be ignored.

Only ep’s for V Sparks? That may be because there’s so much music here, 12 tracks might push the aural pleasure to dangerous levels. V Sparks are v good, the Mael Brothers should smile, as should the rest of us. This Moderne Life isn’t rubbish.

Out Independently

Remedy Rating: 5/5 Perfect Patient

Elvis Costello & The Imposters – Look Now

Any new Elvis Costello album, either with The Imposters, alone or with a variety of partners, is a big issue, column inches, musical discussion and, it seems, appearances on ‘The One Show’. One would almost think that his appeal was now older, more comfortable ex-complainers still wearing DMs but with glasses and bellies (I certainly am); there’s been a cancer scare and op recently of course and all the musical diversion, as if that brittle anger and sneering didn’t cut it, wasn’t enough. Recent albums have been a racket though, unsettling and brittle; this is a more swollen affair, replete with female voices and strings. Sounds complete. Sounds satisfied.

‘Under Lime‘ is undeniably cheery on predominant piano and big beat, the female backing vocals help too, the chirpy brass band almost too much. It’s a solid start of excellence, one which almost tells us ‘you’re in safe hands here.’

And he shows his celeb rub too, the following ‘Don’t Look Now‘ has the unmistakably soft piano of Burt Bacharach but as often, the vocals are infected with his mournful charm too, whilst ‘I Let The Sun Go Down‘ is a big backing tune with wistful horns and harmonies, a beautiful seemingly anti Empire lyric cutting against it all; ‘Isabelle In Tears‘ a stark vocal and piano affair.

When he raises the tempo, it’s more interesting, ‘Mr & Mrs Hush‘ is all tight horns and gorgeous shuffling groove, matched by the gentle wander of cabaret and ‘Suspect My Tears‘ is such a Bacharach swagger, taking so many of his motifs, it’s an identical twin, except the middle has downbeat woodwind and becomes exactly Costello – what a triumph.

There’s also a Carole King co-write, dusted off after many years and thank goodness, dramatic and smooth all at once, ‘Burnt Sugar Is So Brittle‘ links back to the past so well and pushes forward in the faintly disco guitars, nassed female voices and tight brass. It’s just stunning.

This album isn’t as brittle, as raucous, as reactionary as some recent Costello albums. It has a comforting feel, elegaic moments, it seems rounded and comfortable but never in a lethargic way. If many of these songs start with a mid pace, thickly mixed warmth, they can surprise in the middle and have a sense of being the best that they can be at this moment. They don’t all work, some mine one seam for less delight, but they frequently begule and that’s such a rarity.

Now Look, Elvis Costello is producing some of his finest work here. With a smile on his face. And brass. So much brass. Strip Jack Naked With A Stanley Knife? Knockout Whist With A Souzaphone. Yes please…

Out On Concord Records

Remedy Rating : 4/5 Another Appointment For Better Medicine

Tom Morello – The Atlas Underground

It was Tony Blair who was chided by that runaway David Cameron with ‘He was the future once’. Well, so was Tom Morello, when he helped to meld Rap, Funk and Metal in the peerless Rage Against The Machine; after that though, he watered down the sound for the still great-sounding Audioslave and collaborated with Boots Riley on the underrated, agitational Street Sweeper Social Club. But he’s always wanted to push the envelope, his less high profile projects show that and now he’s apparently gone further than he ever has before.

But it isn’t the future. It’s EDM and Rap. No that it isn’t bloody effective.
‘How Long‘ does siren a little but she doesn’t often here, martial drum machine growing to a Dupstep bear and screams, similar to the Korn attempt on ‘The Path Of Totality‘ but he never falls into their trap, he questions himself, even morphing into a dance floor banger on this track, guitars forgotten. And that’s a feature here, this is not a guitar album, this is a Tom Morello album and that’s a lot more. If ‘Lucky One‘ has a choppy RATM riff, K Flay places her smoky voice in the middle of it, driving it on beautifully, the middle is actually a beast of a chart attempt; wonderful stuff.

The pure joy of the best and effects for ‘One Nation‘, skewed piano, twinkling synths and cowbell, for goodness sake. Bassnectar Big Boi and Killer Mike help on the SSSC anger of ‘Rabbit’s Revenge‘, the riff rising menacingly, but ‘Find Another Way‘ is neutered Pop nonsense, ah, the guitars in ‘Vigilante Restivo‘ snarl as you’d expect, the EDM is a hard wall here as we’re told of going down to the crossroads and a demonic voice answers. And nice to see Portugal. The Man taking a more accessible vocal turn on the softer, chart bound ‘Every Step That I Take‘, when even the solo is so broad you can get into it.

Some of this is really just an excuse to get rappers together to have a good go and there’s nothing wrong with that, particularly with RZA and GZA leading from hymal warbling to state of the nation delivery on the simple ‘Lead Poisoning‘ and Leikeli 47’s hardcore delivery beating even the huge crunchy backing and finally a spiteful Morello solo on ‘Roadrunner‘.

There such joy here (try to get serious during the club filler ‘Where It’s At Ain’t Where It Is‘, not sure where guest guitarist Gary Clark Jr fits in though) and so much less guitar than you’d reasonably expect, a mark of Morello’s love of music which makes such a difference in an ego led business.

This doesn’t always work and by its audacity, it makes a play for the charts too, but never sets out in a craven way. This shouldn’t be a surprise, this is about a journey for Morello and so few are brave enough to do that. The cover has a winged hippo, almost as if this could never fly; Atlas held up the sky, Tom may want to do that for the underground, that can’t happen, but if that intention has brought about great music, let him try…

Out On Mom+Pop

Remedy Rating : 4/5 Strange New Results

Youth Killed It – What’s So Great, Britain?

Hardline Brexiteers are going to be furious, how dare they talk down this great country? Of course we’re great, we’re better than those other countries, they need us, do you hear, neeeeeeed us!

But of course we’re not great. We’re a frightened little nation with a burgeoning anger through fear at those often not white, those ‘other’.

It’s clearly appalling and risible, just as that feel that we once had an empire and should be respected.

The cover of this album is shot by a high rise block and takes in a group of people who seem to be under 30 staring balefully at the camera; they look like central casting ‘young people’ models, well coiffured, furiously trying to look like people who live on an estate.

It’s a bit risible and aches of attempted relevance. This Norwich band, Ben, Josh, another Josh, Jack and a Carlos, dress in baseball caps and denim jackets, in regulation and provide itchy, agitational, punky stuff which the Strokes have already warmed over, the title track does just that, only that, with a faux Cockney burr, lyrics which you’d see in a current Labour YouTube missive, even mentioning our ‘island syndrome’, hopes of a band who speak on the division so many of us feel – they are to be congratulated for that. The quiet AC/DC isms of guitars in ‘Headbutt‘ and Sleaford Mods delivery in the verse are ho hum, ‘another day without making any dollar man’ is an early line in ‘Where Did I Go Wrong?’ Where? Possibly on trying to connect with others who you’re trying to prize ‘dollar’ out of, oh and also giving us exactly the music other spiky Indie bands do.

They cover online haters in a Gang Of Four touched ‘What You’re Thinking‘, the benefits of the sun on behaviour on ‘Great British Summer‘ and, erm, house shares in ‘Peaceful House‘. That’s stuff people might be interested in ticked off, including a sort of ‘State Of My Life’ lyric on ‘Already Dead‘ which The Streets used to do so much better.

I’m sneering because I’m 51, aren’t I, grandad? I’m patronising you because I can’t connect, aren’t I? Well, yes.

I might just be missing the music which moves people who are younger than me. I can listen but can’t really hear, what I hear is imbued with my failures and successes, my hopes and fears, my comforts.

But I listen to music every day, I know the music that’s around and I see what’s being pushed out to connect and make money. This sound is Hard Indie, the sound of the chart with a vocal and lyric which links in wit younger people who;

a. have no world other than what is in the place they live and the people who live there
b. are getting angrier and willing to do something about it.

Grime is there. Not when it becomes famous, but early on, it’s dangerous and people like me have to think twice before we can link to it. That’s right, music that comes from a situation still has a link to that, even when marketed for cash. This is why Sleaford Mods will never really be yours, why even Public Enemy will never really be mine. This? It has discontent. But it has also nagging feeling that this might be for effect.

Or I could be looking from my privileged position and judging it. Welcome to the world of reviewing.

Out On Rude Records

Remedy Rating 3/5 Placebo Effect