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Nashville instrumental duo let the instruments do the talking on new EP

 

 

It’s hard not to like Steelism. Firstly they are masters of their instruments. Jeremy Fetzer on guitar and Spencer Cullum on steel pedal guitar. Secondly they make the kind of music that makes you smile. Their brand of retro instrumentalism brings up the excitement and enjoyment of hearing Ennio Morricone, Booker T and the MG’s, Keith Mansfield, Marc 4, Rogério Duprat, Luis Bacalov and Daniele Luppi for the first time. Their music is almost otherworldly, as sounds both retro and contemporary at the same time.

 

 

New EP The Drawing Room: Volume 1 draws from all these sources and more. The album opens with the every faithful voice of Emma Clarke informing us that we are at Hounslow Central on the Piccadilly Line. Then a driving beat kicks, reminiscent to that of the tube itself, in and Fetzer and Cullum do their stuff. Though there are no words, you get a sense of movement, confusion, danger and friendship. So like every journey on the tube then. The Serge follows hot on The Tube’s heels. Featuring Brendan Benson making a cameo, it’s more of the same, but without Clarke’s vocals sample. The song feels like it was lifted from the spaghetti western soundtrack, when the hero and anti-hero finally put their differences and through a montage of them shooting cans, riding horses, playing cards, eating beans, fighting unshaven heathens out to make their fortune rustling, and generally being the good hero and likable anti-hero they get ready for the final showdown. It’s nothing short of genius!

 

 

Tintagel slows things down a bit, and shows this duo have a softer side. As we all know Tintagel was the castle where King Arthur, his round table and knights lived. This track taps into this idea of myth and legend. The rhythm section is ticking over nicely as Fetzer and Cullum trade riffs on their respective guitars, while a joyous piano patters longingly in the background. A true delight! The Informant, as the name suggests, if a slightly darker broody beast. Men in trench coats, monochrome bars filled with thick grey walls of smoke and treacherous woman leading you one way so they can get the money and run all come to mind, but then again I do live in Ealing, the home of the British film industry in the oldie days, and that’s how we like things ‘round here. I we had our way this would be the official soundtrack to last orders! The Drawing Room closes things with a luscious and tender ballad. This is the sound of a band playing for the love of it, and it shows.

 

 

After hearing the Drawing Room: Volume 1 you immediately want to hear Volume 2. Sadly this hasn’t been conceived yet you’ll have to settle with the excellent the Intoxicating Sound of Pedal Steel and Guitar and last year’s 615 to Fame. Let’s hope this Nashville duo don’t leave Volume 2 too long, as this is too good not to deserve a sequel!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Nashville Math-Rock duo show there’s more than a whole lot of shakin’ going on in Music City!

 

 

Narwhal’s used to be my favourite animal. What’s not to like about a whale that has a massive tooth/tusk emerging from its mouth? When I was little I used to have a Masters of the Universe Ladybird book in which a narwhal helped He-Man on a narrow causeway in the sea. I loved this story and animal so much that when I used to go on holiday to Cornwall and we used to walk to St. Michael’s Mount I’d pretend to be Adam/He-Man (sorry for the spoiler) and try and spot the narwhal off shore how was willing to risk all to help me get to one of Cornwall’s premier National Trust site.

 

 

When now listen to Gnarwhal I am reminded not only of Cornwall, but also that story. Against the odds two opposite factors come together to create something amazing. The St Aubyn family building a stately home on a small piece of land in the sea and an Eternian teaming up with a whale to defeat their foes. The combined forces of Chappy Hull and Tyler Coburn have created something equally as cool as the St Aubyn’s home and as memorable as He-Man riding a narwhal.

 

 

Shinerboy opens with a lo-fi crescendo of riffs and drum beats. The initial feel is that of an ad-hoc jam before the track kicks in properly, but after a few moments you realise that this doesn’t happen, and this is the track. As It’s Cute They Match proceeds it picks up speed until at its conclusion all you can really make out is Hull’s screaming vocals and Coburn’s cymbals. Whatever Hull is playing has been lost to a lo-fi ethos. Anal Riffage picks up where They Match left off. Hull’s guitar runs are fast and frenetic and Coburn matches blow for blow. At times it’s hard to tell who’s keeping up with who? That’s Not of Course has an exquisite instrumental breakdowns, that should go on for ever! On this track we can hear the delicate interplay between this duo, that has seen them be lauded one of the tightest bands around today.

 

 

My Waterfall Delight slows things down as it’s a beautiful acoustic ballad. After the pummelling of the previous three tracks you need a bit of down time, even if it is only for sixty one seconds. The rest of the album follows the blueprint of the opening tracks. Fast, hard and extremely lo-fi!

 

 

What makes Shinerboy such an unrelenting listen is its unpredictability. Just when you think you have the song pegged down, it takes an unexpected turn and the rhythm changes and what you thought was up is in fact left. Also Gnarwhal means a gnarly narwhal, and this is exactly what we have, a pretty cool massive whale that loves Math-Rock.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Nashville indie rockers don’t suffer fools gladly on new incendiary single

Bully are exciting. It’s that simple. Lead by singer songwriter producer Alicia Bognanno, their songs have a take-no-prisoners vibe to them that’s hard not to admire. Walls of feedback interlace catchy sludge pop riffs to make Bully something not just to enjoy, but to admire too.

Too Tough is Bognanno laying into people “who don’t have the nerve to live up to their mistakes” she said recently. With lyrics like “Stop trying to blame everyone else” and “You’re trying to wear me down” this is a pretty apt description.

While there is nothing particular new or original about Bully, it’s just the L7/Babes in Toyland blueprint with a poppier twist, their self-produced debut album Feels Like could be one of the highlights of the year, if previous singles Trying and I Remember are anything to go by. The time feels right to get excited about angry lyrics over smouldering guitars and drums.

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Nashville garage quartet channel classic rock on new album

 

 

Four albums down and Nashville’s Turbo Fruits have looked to the past for inspiration. On their new album No Control, they channel the Doors, Cheap Trick, Kings of Leon, Ramones and the Strokes, in less than forty minutes without ever sounding like a pastiche.

 

 

The albums opener Show Me Something Real kicks things off in fine form. Opening line “Am I holding on, to something that isn’t real, I’m trying to stop by thinking about you, but I just can’t help the way I feel” set ups the album perfectly. This theme of heartache permeates the album. Comeback single Don’t Let Me Break Your Heart message is simple “Don’t let me break your heart again, We’ve been here a million times before, Something about you that I can’t ignore” and later “Always play into each other’s games, Chasing memories never feels the same.” The rest of the album follows in this vein. Tracks named Favourite Girl, Friends rub shoulders with Need to Know, No Reason to Stay and Worry About You. Either way the message is clear. Love isn’t easy.

 

 

 

 

In the years, since 2012’s Butter, Turbo Fruit has grown up. This is the sound of a band that not only enjoys what they’re doing, but also has something to say. Musically they have grown up too. No Control sounds cleaner and most focused than their previous efforts. This is in part down to the Black Keys Patrick Carney, who produced the album. While they have lost a lot of the fuzz and feedback, what he has uncovered beneath are fantastic melodies and sublime hooks.

 

 

The closing lines of the album “Take my pain away, I wish I could have you one more time” seem to bookend the opening perfectly. Luckily we can experience it again just by pressing play. In a world of tribute acts, sound-a-likes and revivalists, Turbo Fruits show they still have plenty to say and are in complete control of their musical destiny, even if their love lives are in tatters.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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All girl garage rock group pave the way for the revivalists

The Black Belles are an American garage rock band (or Goth Garage as they put it) who have released one album and a handful of singles on Jack White’s Third Man Records. They make the kind of music that would have appeared on the Nuggets series in the 1970’s. It has one foot in the past, but with one in the present. Clever stuff if you can pull it off. Luckily The Black Belles do.

On the first listen all I could think about was Jack White. The album has his style and production written all over it. Luckily on repeat listens I tuned Jack out and really started to like the album. But there was a nagging question in the back of my mind. Were The Black Belles a real band before they met Jack White, or is he being Svengali? I just the answer is somewhere between the two. I don’t think that he went out and made a girl group, but I think that when he met them\was presented with their demo he could see the possibilities. Either way I don’t really care as the music is enjoyable the great.

Today’s song is the first Black Belles song I heard and it seemed fitting that I should use this song today. What I really like about this song is the interplay between the guitar and organ. The tone of each works well together. The lyrics are good too. It’s a lament about lost love. We’ve all felt like this, and instead of writing a ballad, the song is a rocker. Its these little touches that make me like The Black Belles. They take the idea and concept of a love song and slightly twist it slightly, so it’s something different.

I’m really interested and excited to hear what they do next. When it comes to the title I hope that they don’t come up with a witty title, but stick to Led Zeppelin’s plan of just numbering album. Let’s hope that the difficult second album doesn’t take too long (and isn’t too difficult). All that’s left to do is play this and think about the possibilities.

March 2014

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