Category: Reviews

Album: She & Him – Volume One

She & Him are not a band willing to live by clichés. By all means, the first collaboration between a guitar-wielding bluesman and a Hollywood starlet should be equal parts dull and self-indulgent. Volume One breaks the formula effortlessly from the heartbreaking opening vocals by actress Zooey Deschanel, one half of a team completed by M. Ward. The key is the wide range of influences audible in every track – there is as much room on Volume One for the softer side of Motown as there is for the livelier side of Les Paul and Mary Ford. ‘Why Do You Let Me Stay Here’ takes its leaf out of the latter’s book, a charming and energetic track in which one can hear every ounce of joy that the band have squeezed out of putting together their album.

Album: Slow Club – Yeah So

Before this debut album arrived to review, I already had 12 Slow Club tracks on my iTunes, which gives some idea of how prolific they’ve been already. So here are 12 more (13 if you include the secret track), and, mostly, they’re a very welcome addition to the Slow Club cannon.

Album: Bibio – Ambivalence Avenue

Stephen Wilkinson, AKA Bibio, is one hell of a busy guy, only six months after releasing Vignetting The Compost, his fifth release on Mush Records, he’s back on a new label (Warp) with Ambivalence Avenue a fascinatingly beautiful hybrid of folk and electronica.

EP: Beth Jeans Houghton – Golden

How gorgeous is the new Beth Jeans Houghton EP? Still relatively new on the scene, Newcastle’s BJH brings an air of 1920’s to her understated alt-folk.

Live: Bombay Bicycle Club

Bombay Bicycle Club frontman Jack Steadman jerks around the stage like Chris Martin. Which is a bit weird. It is good for the band, though, for without his eccentricity, a four-piece who’s debut album is a glorious indy-blues stomp would look distinctly out of their depth in the live arena.

Single: King Creosote – No One Had It Beter

Domino records are never happy. Already having given us superb stuff from the likes of Eugene McGuinness, Lightspeed Champion and Cass McCombs, they now have released King Creosote’s latest album Flick the Vs. No One had It Better is taken off this album which is roughly Creosote A.K.A Kenny Anderson’s fortieth release.

Review: Latitude festival 2009

At four years old, Latitude has grown out of toddlerdom and is now walking happily on its own two (eco-friendly) feet. It has developed into a wonderful family-friendly festival that is the darling of the liberal media and the middle classes. But such a reputation cannot be built upon vegan food stalls and top-notch recycling alone; no, Latitude Festival is built instead upon that most solid of all foundations – damn good entertainment! Whilst the festival is indeed ‘more than just a music festival’ with its impressive array of cabaret, comedy, literary and poetry acts, it is the music I wish to talk about.

Album: Duke Garwood: The Sand That Falls

Duke Garwood’s album is the first of this kind of music I have really paid attention to. What kind is it? Good question. From what I’ve heard I would call it a mix of folk, jazz, experimental and blues, but I would assume each listener has a different perspective.

Album: Dear Reader – Replace Why With Funny

South Africa isn’t renowned for providing us with too much music. In fact I couldn’t name you two that have broke these shores. Not even Wikipedia could shed much light. One South African act I can name, though, is Dear Reader – and now so can you.

Dear Reader is actually the Jo’Burg four piece’s new name. Originally, they were called Harris Tweed until the Scottish cloth company of the same name complained despite agreeing two years previous. A stolen laptop and one letter later, Dear Reader finally emerged. Anyway, petty name issues aside, Replace Why With Funny is their debut album, and you will fall in love with it.

Live: Alessi’s Ark, Left with Pictures and Tristram aboard The Tamesis

Moonshine Jambouree started out a little under a year ago with free shows in The Slaughtered Lamb in Clerkenwell. The gigs have come a long way since then and now promoter Antony Chalmers is part way through a run of shows on the Tamesis. A split level boat docked on the south bank of the Thames.

It is in this picturesque setting that FFS finds itself watching Tristram. We first saw him live eight months ago and his delicate vocals and quiet acoustic guitar have since been transformed into assured jangly pop by his backing band of a cellist, keyboard player and percussionist. Tristram’s vocals have a lovely timbre and the cheery glock and pretty harmonies contrast with a melancholy in his voice reminiscent of Nick Drake. Although he seems almost embarrassed to be watched and applauded, Tristram is a real storyteller who had the crowd hanging on his every word.