The return of the Waterboys

It’s now well over three decades since The Waterboys released their debut, self-titled album. While there are still those who just associate them with the epic ‘Whole Of The Moon’ single or the lush folk of the Fisherman’s Blues album, the reality is that Mike Scott and his team have always explored new avenues of music.

Their latest album is entitled Out Of All This Blue and will be released on September 8. Recorded in Dublin and Tokyo and produced by Scott,  the press release states that it’s their ‘most exploratory recording yet, comprising 23 songs with Mike Scott’s trademark sharp lyrics set to pop music with echoes of classic R&B, country, soul and funk, underpinned by modern hip-hop production values and rhythms.’

So it appears with the first track to be released from the album. It’s unusual on the first listen and pretty damn addictive by the third. No trumpets or fiddles here – rather Mike Scott has turned in a proper pop song that owes more to American r’n’b of the last twenty years or so, than anything he’s previously released.It sounds like it’s going to give us a good hint of what is on the album, as Scott states: “Out Of All This Blue is 2/3 love and romance, and 1/3 stories and observations. I knew from the beginning I wanted to make a double album, and lucky for me – and I hope the listener – the songs just kept coming, and in pop colors.”

Check it out below:

The album tracklisting is as follows:

1. Do We Choose Who We Love
2. If I Was Your Boyfriend
3. Santa Fe
4. If The Answer Is Yeah
5. Love Walks In
6. New York I Love You
7. The Connemara Fox
8. The Girl in the Window Chair
9. Morning Came Too Soon
10. Hiphopstrumental 4 (Scatman)
11. The Hammerhead Bar
12. Mister Charisma
13. Nashville, Tennessee
14. Man, What a Woman
15. Girl in a Kayak
16. Monument
17. Kinky’s History Lesson
18. Skyclad Lady
19. Rokudenashiko
20. Didn’t We Walk on Water
21. The Elegant Companion
22. Yamaben
23. Payo Payo Chin

The band are on tour in the British Isles this autumn, and play the following dates:

October 18 – Bristol Colston Hall
October 19 – Birmingham Symphony Hall
October 21 – London Palladium
October 22 – Manchester Opera House
October 23 – Sage Gateshead
October 24 – Glasgow SEC Armadillo
October 26 – Dublin 3Arena


Album Review – James Elkington

James Elkington -‘Wintres Woma.’ (Paradise of Bachelors)

According to the press release, ‘Wintres Woma’ is Old English for ‘the sound of winter.’ Given that this is a very summery feeling record with both an associated and unassociated warmth that runs right through, this might seem slightly incongruous at first. Yet on further reflection it starts to make a little more sense. It’s a phrase that James Elkington found appealing when he encountered it in a book about the historical English imagination and informs his debut solo album.

Born and brought up in England but based in Chicago, Elkington has an impressive working pedigree – with a list that includes Richard Thompson, Laetitia Sadier and Jeff Tweedy. The album was recorded at Wilco’s loft in the city, and features him playing the vast majority of instruments.

Though he reportedly denies that this is folk music (right: and Siouxsie and Nick Cave were never goths, The Strokes had never heard Television and Tori Amos wasn’t really familiar with Kate Bush’s music. Uh-huh. Think we may have to agree to disagree. But I digress.) it certainly draws upon the work of artists who have come from that tradition. To compare his guitar playing to the likes of Nick Drake, Bert Jansch and the aforementioned-Thompson is not pigeon-holing but meant as a compliment. This is a strong collection of songs that draw from his own experiences and along with the technical expertise of his guitar-playing, his voice fits perfectly.

The album gets off to a particularly strong start with ‘Make It Up.’ It’s worth noting that the press release described this as ‘pointedly recount[ing] the time he almost crashed his car trying to get to a séance on time (mostly fiction).’ The upright bass from Nick Macri as a counterpoint to Elkington’s fast fingerpicking recall Richard Thompson and Danny Thompson bass and guitar work on Nick Drake’s debut Five Leaves Left. It’s undoubtedly the strongest song on this album but that’s not to suggest that there are not reasons for listening further. Other highlights on the album include the baroque-sounding minute and a half instrumental ‘Parting Glass,’ ‘Wading The Vapors’ with an impressive ‘cello part played by Tomeka Reid and the epic ‘Greatness Yet To Come’ which dissolves into a reverie that sounds like shoegazing had been envisaged as an acoustic rather than electric mindset. Reid and Macri are veterans of Chicago’s improvised music scene, along with percussionist Tim Daisy and string-player Macie Stewart; their contribution is not simply filling out but can be seen, and more importantly heard as helping Elkington to realise his vision.

Whilst this is an easy album to enjoy, it is one that needs attention focused upon it, rather than simply providing background music. This listener benefited from listening to it without the headphones and not reading at the same time. As with music where thougt has gone into its making, it can take time to properly get to grips with the recording. While it won’t be for everyone, those who succumb to its charms will feel it has been a worthwhile process.


Wintres Woma is out now on Paradise of Bachelors

Presenting…Holy Moly & the Crackers

As always, the sheer amount of submissions in the inbox overwhelms me.

But a few weeks ago, I got a an email asking about premiering the new album from Holy Moly and the Crackers. The band were a new name to me – but once I’d heard it, I was glad I had listened. They describe themselves as Gypsy folk-rock and they’ve delieverd a solid four star album with a pretty distinctive sound.

I wrote a piece premiering the album Salem over at God Is In The TV, which you can check out by following here.

In case you need your appetite wheting, here are some of the videos:





Album Review – Dominic Waxing Lyrical

Dominic Waxing Lyrical -‘Rural Tonic.’ (Tenement Records)

There’s something quite refreshing about the songwriting of Dominic Harris. In as much as anything, it’s the way he thinks and writes out of the box. In a musical world with too many indentikit pop stars,and landfill indie failing to offer the alternative it thinks it does, this is much needed. Following on from 2015’s rather fine Woodland Casual album, here he delivers another collection of off-kilter, quirky but really rather wonderful songs from the Edinburgh man.

It’s a manic – yet an extremely literate album. It’s perhaps a gamble starting the album with ‘King’ – perhaps the most impenetrable song on the album, with its descending chromatic scales played glissando and frankly bonkers lyrics, of which ‘cross my arse with silver! Crown my cock with pearls!’ (sic) are the easiest to understand. Yet while repeated plays over several months haven’t quite revealed what the hell he’s going on about, it does seem to make sense (well, sort of) within the context of the album.

While many singer-songwriters will have a backing band of some description, what adds to the different flavour of this album is that there are, essentially, two. There’s Mr. McFall’s Chamber – who do much of the orchestral parts, and 17 Seconds favourites Aberfeldy. So the former bring alive the likes of ‘King’ and ‘Laika’; the melodic genius of the latter work their magic on tracks like ‘Susan Sontag’ and ‘River Styx.’

The long-defunct Melody Maker magazine described him as ‘DIY-baroque-folk’ which remains spectacularly accurate. A tonic for the troops, then? Indeed, and the rest of us.


Rural Tonic is out now on Tenement Records



A song for today #45: Deerhoof feat Jenn Wasner

I’m surprised to discover that apparently in nearly eleven years (count ’em!) of writing this blog, I appear not to have covered Deerhoof, although their track ‘Life Is Suffering’ did make last year’s Festive Fifty. The band are shortly to release their new album Mountain Moves, on September 8.

The first track to be released is the politically charged ‘I Will Spite Survive’ which features vocals from Wye Oak’s Jenn Wasner. ‘Sleep at night, if you can stay awake,’ the band reflect. It would be nice to think they’ll reach new fans with this album. (which I am very excited for!)

The track can be streamed below:

The tracklisting is as follows:

1. “Slow Motion Detonation” (feat. Juana Molina)
2. “Con Sordino”
3. “I Will Spite Survive” (feat. Jenn Wasner)
4. “Come Down Here and Say That” (feat. Lætitia Sadier)
5. “Gracias a la Vida” (Violeta Parra cover)
6. “Begin Countdown”
7. “Your Dystopic Creation Doesn’t Fear You” (feat. Awkwafina)
8. “Ay That’s Me”
9. “Palace of the Governors”
10. “Singalong Junk” (feat. Xenia Rubinos)
11. “Mountain Moves” (feat. Matana Roberts)
12. “Freedom Highway” (The Staple Singers cover)
13. “Sea Moves” (feat. Chad Popple & Devin Hoff)
14. “Kokoye”
15. “Small Axe” (Bob Marley cover)


Parcels – this year’s summer anthem?

Australian-born and Berlin-based band Parcels may very well be responsible for this summer’s anthem.

Listener’s to their track ‘Overnight’ may well hear a similarity to 2013’s summer anthem ‘Get Lucky’ (which was 2013’s Festive Fifty no.1). Australian band Parcels aren’t particularly well-known in the UK at the moment. ‘Overnight’ was produced by Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo – aka Daft Punk, the same act responsible for ‘Get Lucky.’ There’s no denying that the two French legends contribute to the magic made available for your ears here.

It’s  clear if you check out Parcels’ Hideout EP from earlier this year (which you can do at the bottom of this post) that the vibe of chilled music for the dancefloor with Nile Rogers-style choppy guitars is still Parcels. No doubt that’s why it’s credited to Parcels – even if a Daft Punk credit in the name might grab people’s attention more immediately. Put simply ‘Overnight’ is a genius piece of pop music, for the heart and the feet. You’ll hear it on the dancefloors, out of every other car window, from the mobile phones of the kids down your local park. Who knows, even your local radio station with the really conservative playlist will probably get behind it (once it’s charted, obviously).

That aforementioned, earlier EP

Special thanks to Liam O’Hare who tipped me off about this track in the first place.

Foo Fighters announce new album

As mentioned earlier on this month, the Foo Fighters have released a new track and video, entitled ‘Run.’ Now ahead of their Glastonbury performance this Sunday, they have announced their latest album Concrete and Gold.

The band’s ninth album will be released on September 15. The album tracklisting is as follows:

1. T-Shirt

2. Run

3. Make It Right

4. The Sky Is A Neighborhood

5. La Dee Da

6. Dirty Water

7. Arrows

8. Happy Ever After (Zero Hour)

9. Sunday Rain

10. The Line

11. Concrete and Gold

The album was written and performed by the Foo Fighters, produced by Dave Grohl and Dave Kirstin of The Bird & The Bee, who has also worked with Adele, Sia and P!nk.

Just because the video for ‘Run’ is so damn good, here it is again.

The album artwork can be seen below:




Album Review – Ride

Ride – ‘Weather Diaries’ (Wichita)

Legendary shoegazers Ride first reformed back in 2014, but Weather Diaries is their first studio album since 1996’s Tarantula. That album, pretty much released simultaneously with their dissolution, came out on Creation. Ride had been Creation’s first chart-bothering act, but one has to wonder how many of their label mates felt put into the shade when Oasis went, umm, supersonic in 1994.

Ask Ride fans what their favourite album is, and people will still staunchly defend one album over another. For my money, their debut Nowhere is still their best, and the first four EPs (Ride, Play, Fall and Today Forever)  that were released around that. It’s telling that this album’s opening track ‘Lannoy Point’ sounds like it could have been from Ride’s first twelve months.

The first four tracks are strong, and  ‘All I Want’ and ‘Home Is A Feeling’ have already been released building up to the albums. It’s reminiscent of how Ride were always capable of rocking or jangling, rather than simply producing the shoegazing journalistic sonic cathedrals of sound. The album’s been produced by Erol Alkan, who’s done a fantastic job of it. 

What is disappointing, though, is that it feels that the album does drop a bit when it reaches the title track, perhaps the weakest point on the album. It does seem to take a while to pick up again. There has been some criticism that the album hasn’t been sequenced in the best way – the closing track ‘White Sands’ somehow feels like an odd finish; while it’s beautiful, it doesn’t seem to feel like a proper ending.

However, this is a comeback album that mostly succeeds. While it may not win them huge quantities of new fans, it will certainly delight the many who fell for them all those years ago.


Weather Diaries is out now on Wichita



Album Review – Can: The Singles (Mute)

Album Review – Cigarettes After Sex

Cigarettes After Sex -‘Cigarettes After Sex.’ (Partisan Records)

In the year that two of the British shoegazing acts of the 1990s, Ride and Slowdive, release their first albums in over two decades, along come an American act from the same ilk to give us a debut album that suggests that the sound the Americans dubbed dreampop is continuing to produce absolutely wonderful sounds. There’s also echoes of slow-core type bands like Low and Mazzy Star, with a nod to the 1980s 4AD roster of acts like the Cocteau Twins and This Mortal Coil with the shimmering melancholy within.

That’s not to dismiss Cigarettes After Sex as some kind of retro sound. This is a fresh take on it all, and the first thing that draws you in is the androgynous voice of Greg Gonzalez. It’s slow and dreamy music, with a definite noir undertone- as if David Lynch had decided that a shoegaze-dreampop band was needed for one of his projects.

A number of the tracks on this album have been doing the rounds for a while – opening track ‘K’ first appeared as a single back in late 2015 – but the reality is a very cohesive whole, without a duff track among them. Even more reassuring in this age of streaming is how this is an album that can be played from start to finish, with ‘Each Time You Fall In Love’ and ‘John Wayne’ amongst the highlights.

Without wishing to descend into hyperbole, I genuinely expect this album to do well on the year-end lists (hey! Don’t you realise we’re going to have to start thinking about this when summer’s over?) and it will deserve to be there. To paraphrase Wilco, I can’t help wondering if they are trying to break listeners’ hearts. But what a soundtrack to be heartbroken to…