Category: Reviews

Single: Lofty Heights – Eye Contact

Lofty Heights, Greg Griffin to his parents, is about to carve a nice little path out for himself and his debut single, ‘Eye Contact’ is about to set him on his cheery way. The California-born Londoner brings ukeleles, steel guitars, double bass and rickety drums together in a way that instantly tickles a smile.

Album: Noah and the Whale – The First Days of Spring

If Noah and the Whale’s debut album Peaceful, the World Lays Me Down was a summer fling, then their second offering The First Days of Spring is all the heartache and introspection that comes with the demise of your first true love.

Album: Mumford and Sons – Sigh No More

Wait no more – possibly the album you have all been anticipating more
than any other this year is finally here – hurray! Sigh No More is
the much-hyped debut album from the folk force charging its way in to
ears and hearts all over the country – Mumford and Sons. 12 tracks of
classic Mumford tunes – think your dad’s old folk records meets Welsh
men’s choir for hilly billy hoe down in a pub in Ireland on a rainy
evening. [Breath!]

Album: Dawn Landes – Sweetheart Rodeo

Reviews for Dawn Landes’ previous album Fireproof tended towards the “nearly there, give her a year or two” end of the spectrum. The pressure was on: would Landes deliver? Well, probably not, but maybe we’ll give her another year or two. This is a really decent set of songs packed full of interesting sounds, but it doesn’t quite gel as an album.

Album: Drive-By Truckers – The Fine Print

The Drive-By Truckers have carved a career out of creating, what is on first listen, very generic country rock. But once given time by a listener this generic country rock can seep into your heart and become the music that a person will carry with them for their whole life. They are a band that fans will sing about from the highest mountains, but to the rest of the music buying public sound as dull as dishwater. There is no doubt that the Truckers have an amazing ear for a tune that can wrench at the heart, because nobody flukes upon rock ‘n’ roll gold as much as they have, but it’s a delicate tightrope that they walk, and they rarely stray from what they are good at.

Album: Homelife — Exotic Interlude

Homelife’s sound is one I found pretty hard to pin down and analyse. The first track sounds like a band that would play Woodstock with flowers in their hair and peace signs on their guitars. Moving through you hear an intense Hawaiian theme- suddenly you’re transported to a deserted beach on Maui craving a hog roast. Next thing you know the music takes a turn for the modern and you’re at a bohemian house party with people smoking shisha and discussing politics. In other words, this album is fantastic.

Album: Piney Gir – The Yearling

So here comes Miss Piney Gir, a Kansas country lady based in London, with her third album and vintage dresses and toys as part of the project troupe as far as visuals and tunes go.

Album: Richmond Fontaine – We used to think the freeway sounded like a river

If there is something that characterizes Richmond Fontaine, this alternative country band from Portland Oregon, is their ability to recreate imagery into music. Willy Vlautin – vocals and guitar – is well known for this art. Yet this album combines his skill with an additional display of pure American songwriting spells and traditional rock and roll bravado.

Single: Noah and the Whale – Blue Skies

It’s hard to isolate “Blue Skies” from its album, “The First Days of Spring”, but seeing as it makes such a beautiful single, it’s worth a shot.

Noah and the Whale (namely Charlie Fink) have evolved massively as songwriters since last year. This is something “Blue Skies” optimises perfectly. The track builds up an air of expectant hope, not only in the lyrics (‘Blue Skies are coming/But I know that it’s hard’) but also in the opening bars of music that peak into a soaring chorus and then ebb back into place.

Album: Andy Nice – The Secrets of Me

Andy Nice has played cello with screaming gothic pervs Cradle of Filth and bald techno ravers Orbital, and is currently in string + dance combo Instrumental. He also has a name more suited to a particularly over familiar used car salesman.

Ignoring the fact he’s currently touring with deep-voiced chamber-pop stars Tindersticks and the embroidered patch on the front of the cd, you’d be forgiven for thinking there’s not much here for the good people of FFS. But press play and an entirely different sound to that expected issues forth – arresting, emotional, complex yet melodic cello music. And it really is cello music, pretty much just that instrument, with songs formed from layer after layer of rich string sound.