The The – Muscle

Good to have Matt Johnson back on this sampler for a seemingly geezer-type movie now available starring Craig Fairbrass who acts in geezer-type movies. Matt likes to write music for movies now and his dramatic music is extremely well suited.

This 4 tracker is big on atmosphere.

‘I Want To B U‘ is a mid 50’s Doris Day pastiche with Matt’s cracked vocal, followed by the delightfully monikered ‘Bestiality Brothel‘, crackling and fuzzing with anticipation, electronic mood, whilst the guitar roughness of ‘Vicious Circus‘ has some portentoueness baked in.

And we finish the sampler with the sweet guitar picking and washing synths of ‘Sentimental Jouney‘, some of this is whimsy but there’s always a portentous feel, with The The, there always was. Just right for this movie? Certainly just right for these times.

Out Independently

Remedy Rating: 3.5/5 Aversion Therapy

Stats – Powys 1999

You’d perhaps expect danceable Pop perfection after touring with La Roux and Dua Lipa. Guitarist Ed Seed and this second release has nestled in Best Of 2020 lists. It deserves it.

The overheated electro dancefloor ‘Come With Me‘, almost Stock Aitken Waterman in its backing, pulled back from the abyss with whining synth jabs, Ed’s vocal a little David Byrne in its interested disconnection, but he’s all in for the slapping beat and mournful piano note of ‘Old Flames‘, slouching onto the dancefloor and moving disinterestedly.
And this music is decidedly downbeat, desperately trying to dance until it all disappears but knowing it will be there when the music stops, as ‘Kiss Me Like It’s Over‘ tells us, ‘there’s no faces on the tablets’, that rush is gone, the club feel mocking us. The deep piano rumble contrasted with plaintive vocals of ‘Innocence‘, the chattering disco fun of ‘Naturalise Me‘ adds another contradiction.

Ed has said he didn’t want this album to be ‘meaninglessness pretty’ and here there isn’t a glitter ball in sight, there are just lowering clouds with silver linings and simmering discontent; this is an album for last year and this, a yearning to get out there, the gossamer threads of fear and moral understanding that hold us back (not all of us, but some people just don’t want to understand), something horrible snuffling, wetly chuckling, shuffling closer; just at the corner of your vision. Turn away. There’s still beauty.

Out On Memphis Industries

Remedy Rating: 4/5 Strange Results

Joe Jackson – Fools In Love/Music To Watch Girls By

Just the 2 songs to review? That’s OK, this is Joe Jackson, musical chameleon and sonic stunner, first track is from early albym ‘Look Sharp‘ and is wry and cynical in demeanour, but here it opens up on the spacey beat and dramatic piano, it’s live so that might be expected, the beat skitters and adds a push to the back of Jackson’s emotional and sorry for itself vocal, the chorus a chest bearing until ‘I should know because this fool’s in…’ just hiding the final confession as a toy trumpet sound takes the feeling, a clear and crystalline piano solo contributing sadness. Beautiful.

And then ‘Music To Watch Girls By‘? Lovely urgency, great organ, but a more open feel than the tight dancing original; that organ solo, such a respectful but playful retelling, something that Joe Jackson does so well, check out his ‘The Duke‘ or ‘Jumping Jive‘ albums.

Now then, anything from Joe is wonderful and this live, loose, beautifully modulated and emotional single is no different. Out on white 10″ vinyl which I am delighted to see is sold out. Love his work. All of it. That may be usual, but that’s the way it is with such talent. Superb.

Out On Phonics Records

Remedy Rating: 5/5 Perfect Patient

The Lickerish Quartet – Snollygoster Goon

Oh I do like the Lickerish Quartet and not just because the band contains the beating heart of Jellyfish, whose stunning harmonies and almost Laurel Canyon bucolic feel filtered through Supertramp chart sounds absosolutely delighted. This band are slightly different and I’m awaiting the song that will blow my socks off; taken all together though, there’s something really special here.

Which is why this blog is about one song. A snollygoster is someone without principles and often used for politicians, so it seems apposite.

This song is harder and more raucous, it slows to let more air in and some XTC early harmonies, but it has a target, until it adds whimsy to counterpoint, the chorus a bit of odd 12 Rods US Indie, sounds like a lot of stuff and is, but gents like Eric Dover, Tim Smith and Roger Manning can do this with elan. Or cachet. Or gusto. One or all of those.

So this is different, almost abrasive, seriously smooth, bloody brilliant. Goon? But not forgotten.

Out Independently

Remedy Rating : 4.5/5 Aversion Therapy

Band On The Wall 2020

Another release from wonderful Manchester venue Band On The Wall, some different sounds here too…

Mali Hayes caresses us with a langeous Soul ‘Oceans‘, SNG takes that further with a slow piano infused 70’s ballad ‘Don’t Mess With My Heart‘, drums skittering sweetly, sax swirling, voice mellifluous.

Lovely to hear the rhythmic, jazzy ‘There Is A Jungle‘ live with the crowdclapping along, Agbeko make it soft and lilting, the flute caressing, the crowd yelping at the percussion break and there are more soundscapes here than in the last release, the vibes and old skool percussion of Contours’ ‘Northbound‘ or jazzy guitar workout ‘Jungle‘ by Katbrownsugar with Al Turnbull, whilst the Lieko Quintet grow to an untroubled Jazz workout on ‘Black Lake.
And we have the tight surging chart Soul of Royal Northern College Of Music graduates Porij, making a splash and pleasing with the 80’s synths of ‘Closer‘, surely success in the making, but another highlight is the reined in surge of RnB smoothness ‘Trouble Living‘ by Yemi Bolatiwa and

More eclectic than the last Funk and Soul soaked release, this nevertheless has the calm beauty to make even lockdown luscious.

Out On Band On The Wall Recordings

Remedy Rating: 4/5 Rest Cure

The Immediate Family – Slippin’ And Slidin’

I wanted to like this, I really did. With Waddy Wachtel, Leland Sklar and Danny Kortchmar involved, their time served excellence was bound to produce something great.

Well, in parts.

They were apparently desperate to turn up their amps, but this ep shows ‘Slippin’ And Slidin‘ is a basic amplified Blues tune, if the harmonies of ‘New York Minute‘ are attractive, the song is a background at a dinner party offer.

The music might be soft Country Rock, but the lyrics of ‘Top Of The Rock‘ celebrating a ‘Too much money to give away’ redistribution view is a very sweet semtiment and of course there’s a version of Warren Zevon’s ‘Werewolves Of London‘, considering Waddy Wachtel’s work with her, here live and slide guitar tough, an angular and very pleasing version and they finish with a shuffling, organ simmering Blues ‘Cruel Twist‘, which touches Steely Dan in occasion and then runs away, embarrassed.

It ain’t bad, a little Americana lurks here and it has an easy grace, I just wanted a bit more booty shaking. I’m not asking for twerking…

Out On Quarto Valley

Remedy Rating: 3.5/5 Rest Cure

Mumford & Sons – Delta Tour ep

They create big emotions do Mumford & Sons, both among fans and those who regard rhem as a sort of hipster construct, there’s real belief on both sides. And the band have changed their sound over the years, so it’s a moving target. This ep from gigs all over the place is in support of their last well received ‘Delta‘ album and probably won’t change anyone’s mind either way

The crowd are ramped up as if to say ‘told you we were popular’ and the Country Noir feel of ‘Slip Away‘ is augmented by the crowd just on the edge of your hearing, nicely done but it becomes a big Indie bag of nothing. There’s always a bit of a wannabe Johnny Cash hanging around Marcus Mumford’s vocals, no more than in ‘Blood‘, during which the crowd start to clap along and then seem to lose interest, but the almost Christmas horns are lovely and it becomes a joyous thing. It’s not a surprise to hear Cash’s ‘Hurt‘ done then, in a faithful, non confrontational way. Until the guitar scythes in and makes a liar of me, so good to hear and a bit of much needed energy.

Even if Marcus howls in ‘Awake My Soul‘ and the crowd love it, there remains the feeling that this is slightly removed from real emotion. And to end with the Joe Cocker version of ‘With A Little Help From My Friends‘ with a Lindsey Buckingham guitar tone is audacious and the big sound with female bacing vox nearly gets there, but as with the general feel here, they don’t quite let go.

The sound is pristine, the performances on point, but only a toe is dipped. And live, that isn’t ideal.

Out On Island

Remedy Rating: 3/5 Expected Results

Cobra Cobra – Life After Poison

This seems to be happy, party Metal, opener ‘The Conquering‘ is a shoutalong with a basic early Andrew WK riff and beat and when much more melodic ‘Hope Like A Thorn‘ follows it, singing along again, it’s doubled. And this continues with a big arena chorus, which is all ‘Hum‘ seems to have, but it hardens up when the riffs march in ‘A Little Dark, A Little Sick…’; this is interesting.

The music here is summed up by the heaving Metal of ‘The Overtaker‘, with its gang chorus but big hit of melody, it has a come here and go away vibe, whilst the title track is tough and grumbles in the background but has a rock chart friendly chorus.

These Portland partiers have produced something worthwhile and hard to do, aspire for the arena without losing Rock chops. Life After Poison? Seems like a constant party; not sure the NHS would agree.

Rat Family Records

Remedy Rating : 4/5 Unexpected Results

Bootsy Collins – The Power Of The One

That’s what you drop on to produce that tightness and looseness Bootsy can’t get enough of, through a baptism of fire with James Brown, the cosmic slop of ParliaFunkadelic which couldn’t have been more different in approach to his own much loved solo stuff, he’s never really deviated from the sound he had in the 70’s.

And for that, much thanks.

For this new album, his 25th or so, he starts with a ‘Funk Formula‘ telling us you have to fit into the space between the notes, then mutes the horns and elasticates the bass for a smooth George Benson guitar title track, slinky ‘Slide Eazy‘ and Snoop Dogg adds calm and cool rap to a basic Funk jam called, erm, ‘Jam On’.

He can do other things too, ‘Lips Turn Blue‘ is a calm Soul chart thing with Spanish guitar splashes, sweet 70’s Soul in the Branford Marsalis tones of ‘WantMe2Stay‘ and we have to wait until track 12 to hear the Bootsy bedroom rap, but ‘Funktropolis‘ is an odd mix of showband and jazzy backline and nasty growling bass rising up. And when ‘Bootsy Off Broadway‘ fights to envelop you in funky finery, jazz bass, piano trills, Chic guitar, half raps, gang shouts, all great plus band intros (did I hear Bernard Purdie’s name?) the smile may be a mile wide; isn’t that what we need at the moment?

Not all good, the basic 80’s Soul like ‘Wishing Well‘ isn’t ideal but 1 track out of 16? Good score. Fantastic Funk full of fun, not only Funk and not The Only Funk but bloody close. What’s Bootsy doing? Whatever it is, he handles it with a saucy wink and tilted top hat.

Out On Sweetwater Sounds

Remedy Rating: 5/5 Keep The Joints Moving

Dirty Knobs – Wreckless Abandon

Loads has been written about ex-Tom Petty man Mike Campbell’s new band, not just the 50% fnarr fnarr, 50% head scratching of the band name, but a real excitement at the coming music too. Well, it’s here and… …it sounds a little forced.

There’s some Country Noir in ‘Don’t Knock The Boogie‘, pristine Country airs to ‘Pistol Packin’ Mama‘ with Chris Stapleton and that filthy brooding Blues is all there in ‘Don’t Wait‘. Of course you’ll get easy rolling Americana and DK do that so well, particularly on the slightly brushed title track, with the sunny feel to simply lovely ‘Anna Lee‘ and rising Blues of ‘I Still Love You‘ stand out, ‘Sugar‘ bringing the elements all together in an infectious smoothness, whilst rough ‘Loaded Gun‘ does that on the other side of the bed

But generally, this doesn’t kill. It’s good to spend time with and maybe the breathless coverage has skewed expectation, but this seems as if its just touching the successful styles du  jour and leaving them unruffled.

Don’t touch that dial? Pass us a tissue…

Out On Xero Music

Remedy Rating : 3.5/5 Mixed Results