Emperor Norton

From the moment the guitar cranks up in the riff of ‘Portents‘, heaving itself about, winking slightly, Steve Howe comes to mind, but not just the guitar, the synth lines hit those heights too, but Matthew Corry’s lilting vocals add so an ache to ‘Petrichor‘, which the guitars and synths attempt to ransack.

But the jazzy drums and scudding synths butting up against a decidedly Andy Sears vocal make ‘Travails‘ stick to their title, that Howe guitar from Scott Neumann nostalgic and new at the same time, he has the balls to go for it and it comes off; the bass and drums lock into ‘Empress‘ to make a bubbly, racing feel.

Formed in York just two years ago, Emperor Norton will surely go far. Unashamedly 70’s, hugely enjoyable, just listen to the harmmering piano on epic ‘Arrow‘, this is surprisingly stunning and so good to hear Yes and Twelfth Night frontman Sears held in such high regard. The other Norton declared himself Emperor of the US in 1859, feel sure this Norton don’t have that far reaching plan, but their mix of the atonal and familiar has conquered me…

Out Independently

Remedy Rating : 5/5 Perfect Patient

Claypool Lennon Delerium – South Of Reality

Reality is what you decide it is, even if you’re defining yourself against the rules and plans others give you; it would be expected that Primus’ Les Claypool and Ghost Of A Saber Tooth Tiger’s Sean Lennon would aim higher. And musically, they do, their debut dual effort was challenging and gave few musical outcrops to cling onto; this may be a little more formed, as if they know what they sound like and what they don’t now.

There’s a singsong feel here, a pastoral longing to ‘Little Fishes‘, until it jams it up Psychewise, the two movements of ‘Blood And Rockets‘ have a late 60’s Psyche whimsy too, very Dukes Of Stratosphear, sweetly gentle. We have to say, it’s obvious, the harmonies at the head of ‘Boriska‘ are Lennon/MacCartney to a tee, before a sweeping strings and growing tune delights with woozily triumphal synths.

Settling in one place works so well for them, allowing a bass-led Primus march for ‘Toady Man’s Hour‘, closer ‘Little Fleas‘ alternately accessible and strange. Who ever thought these two experimenters would delight in song construction?

South Of Reality has a beautiful garden, constructed, but with love.

Out On ATO Records

Remedy Rating: 4/5 Tried And Tested Techniques

The Young Sinclairs – Out Of The Box

C86! Madchester! Folk Rock! Paisley Underground! Rough Trade throw out possible similarities like insults at a Nigel Farage talk (allegedly), for this album but Virginian verisimilitude isn’t on the cards here, thank goodness.

Yes, the beat can be a bit baggy and the guitars smudged until you can barely make them out, but the early 80’s softly happy horn-augmented ‘Get Along (I Hope That You Do)’ makes a difference, ‘Stay All Night‘ sounds like something Lindsey Buckingham would have produced from his ‘Punk’ love for ‘Tusk‘, followed with Soft Rock ‘Disappear‘ which could have been on ‘Rumours‘.

Much less interesting when they mine a simple Indie jangle, except when allied to a Yacht Rock angle for ‘Birthday Card‘; the zenith of their baggy? Dance beat and whispered Stone Roses ‘Same Old Now‘, but the trousers are coming back, so why can’t the music?

This might be ahead of the curve, if it really knew what it was they wanted. They don’t and thank goodness for that. Not completely Out Of The box, they’ve commadeered a second one as an annexe.

Out On Rough Trade

Remedy Rating: 4/5 Strange Results

Gin Lady – Tall Sun Crooked Moon

Sweden’s Gin Lady are a lot more than a great band name, much more. Their retro 70’s brilliance has delighted over many years now, particularly on their second album, 2013’s ‘Mothers Ruin‘. It’s always a delight to see a new album from them, the sunfower heavy cover might hint at sunny delights inside.

And the easy roll and Sheepdogs sound of opener ‘Everyone Is Love‘, with such gorgeous CSN harmonies, is a great start. And then we begin a trip down a Country road, ‘The Darkest Days Of All Time‘ even has some unconcerned whistling; this won’t be bad if they can pull the all out Country sound well enough.

They aren’t, quite. ‘The Visit‘ has a pleasant Southern air, ‘Into The Wasteland‘ walks you through a softly warm breeze of a day, then ramps up, but softly and when they hit that easy rolling sweet spot, they’re amazing, just listen to ‘Always Gold‘.

And don’t forget their ability to deliver a Laurel Canyon sound beautifully, gossamer thin and smudgy ‘Undertow‘ and ‘The Rock We All Push‘ has a sneaky Faces shamble to it and I’d have actually preferred more of that.

Gin Lady are a brilliant band. Their good is others’ phenomenal. And its good. Sometimes very. But ultimately, this gin is too neat.

Out On Kozmik Artefactz

Remedy Rating: 4/5 Mixed Results

Manchester Malcontent

Storm v Devils
Stormshelter, Saturday 11th January 2020

Can it strike twice? No, let’s not call it good fortune, that belittles a superb performance, excellent in every area, some saying netminder Bowns had an off night, but to see that, you have to test him dontcha? We did against Cardiff on our ice.

What has also struck is an illness I’m sadly never going to be free of, not curmudgeonliness, there’s no weekly injection and daily tablet against that. What it does mean is that streaming takes place again, on the pc, dog by the fire, Madam Malcontent cheering along, the fire toasting us all. Would I rather be at the Shelter? Yes. But sometimes I can’t. And I understand those who don’t like what is ostensibly a TV report; deride them, but understand.

Actual expectations tonight. Dangerous. Why yes. Can’t help it though.

Tight play at first, both teams playing themselves in, stone cold pen to Storm not given, but we still had a go, trying to carve out shots, we blocked them well, had speculative shots, shipped a pen on Critchlow, first real advantage.

PK is good…PK is good…not good enough, they knocked on the door, replicated a play and we left a player free.

0-1

Storm having a go but not with as much intensity as their last encounter here, not nearly. Little smoothness, they had too much time on the puck, first to it too, in fact our first nice move came with 45 seconds to go.

Well that was much ado about nothing, not really aggressive enough, not sharp enough, but my curry was just hot enough. Hotter than Storm, that’s for sure.

2nd period, delayed call for us; mighty 18% as Lightning Jack gets to the sin bin to give commiserations; come on, we shouldn’t be defending on a PP, playing ‘Firestarter‘, is that ironic?

Can’t get the puck as much as we should, we trade shots briefly but this is becoming too easy for Cardiff. Now let’s take our mighty 18% and make it difficult for them, another PP time! We hit the pipes, but not the heights.

We can’t seem to get much going, little sleekness, just sweat. And yet. Only 1 in it and Devils don’t seem frightening, but neither do we. Get good odds for a 0-1 at the end of the 3rd, I reckon.

3rd? Not the excitement we’d like, but Devils edging it, pressurising, but Dallas had other ideas, carried the puck forward, kicked it from the boards, Fawcett pirouette, goal!

1-1!

Right, straight after the goal, we have a PK. We’re good at this…Dallas was absolutely felled, stick to the head, officials missed it then are forced to review it, do nothing. Appalling refereeing, biased and gutless. And through the knot of players, they tip one in. We shouldn’t have been on the PK.

1-2.

Robbed by terrible officials. And suddenly the fight leaves us, Cardiff controlling the play, us on the back skate. And we played the last 5 mins with a holding of breath, really respecting a team we beat so well so recently. And Ginn pulled; we know how this goes…

It goes in the Devils’ net! One second to go! Oh. A review. No, now the ‘officials’ are saying the buzzer had gone. Appalling to not even bother to check. Rotten officiating. We were robbed.

But we were also outplayed. We gave them too much time, too much hope, too much help. We played well, but we didn’t have the edge we did last time here with Cardiff. But it sticks in the craw. Why? The officials were inept, biased and didn’t protect players; lacking a basic aptitude. Something smells funny…

Remedy Rating: 3/5 Wrong Diagnosis

Yola – Walk Through Fire

Yola will have to do something special to stand out from other Nu Soul divas around at the moment.

From the moment the Bacharach touched ‘Faraway Look‘ appears, she distances herself from contemporaries, this opener allows her to soar too, an important statement to make early on and when she melds her Country inclination with that 60’s cabaret feel on ‘Lonely The Night‘, it’s stupendous. Ditto the Blues influence under Soul ‘Still Gone‘; the purity of ‘Love Is Life‘ is like a refreshing stream too, even better when the gitter ball cranks up and the spotlight hits in the chorus.

Some of this is simply pleasant, but when the 70’s sounds and Country airs calm ‘Ride Out In The Country‘, the atmosphere is lovely, but the downtown hoedown of the title track makes that walk sound workaday. Better is the sumptous 70’s radio 2 chart Country hit ‘I Don’t Wanna Lie’ and her work with notables like The Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach, who contrubuted to the writing here, is never a heavy hand, what might be is the nod of thanks to vocal supporter Elton John by delivering a faithful ‘Goodbye Yellow Brick Road’.

Rival Sons’ Jay Buchanan apparently loves Yola’s voice and she’s got a beautifully connected and very direct appeal, that’s very hard to achieve. And this conglomeration of Country and faded variety grandeur really works, when it works. But it still deserves all the plaudits it will surely receive.

Out On Easy Eye Sound

Remedy Rating : 4/5 Mixing The Meds

Satchel Grande – Benson Burner

Who wouldn’t want to experience Omaha’s premier Funk troupe? Particular when they sport pimp ‘taches and feed nine. And who also wouldn’t crave a big, sumptuous sound which is aimed at equal parts George Clinton and Steely Dan?

The title track kicks off with a driving, thin synth 80’s Clinton feel, lots are doing it, this manages it. And then adds a cheesy sax break and Earth, Wind & Fire horns, which continues with a swanking ‘Dial Tones‘, but they can also get soulful and smoky, ‘Unrequited Dap‘ is again 80’s, but the kind of accessible feel you’d see backing Lynx on TOTP.
And the two parts of ‘A Piece Of The Rock‘ just shine with dancefloor readiness, but it slows almost imperceptibly for the long guitar workout in the second part, a bit of Amp Fiddle Neo Soul here. They can always drive through the glittering ‘Celestial Discharge‘, jazzy solo picking its way through massed horns and look at that 80’s Dazz Band blast of synths and horns to finish with ‘Rebuild The Road‘.

The 80’s Funk and Roll is big these days; this band can offer you sleek success and squelchy sass too. Here it comes, wait for it. This Satchel should be your bag…

Out Independently

Remedy Rating: 5/5 Shock Therapy