Friday, 29 April 2016

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Watch! - BRNFKD - Sixteen (feat. Camille Michelle Gray)





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Listen! - Edd Donovan - Bowerbird





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Review - Ian Prowse Live at Darwen Library Theatre



Ian Prowse

Darwen Library Theatre

Friday 15 April 2016


Darwen Library Theatre is an unassuming venue.   Tucked unsurprisingly behind Darwen Library in Lancashire it probably enables the book building to stay alive despite the Governments best attempts to close everyone in our country.  It’s 180 capacity is relatively small, but the seated room with sloping back rows holds a superb sound and one which many larger venues could learn from.

Friday 15 April was the latest in the venue’s long run of acoustic nights which boast a headline act and a local talent.  The local tonight on this evening was C Jay (Craig Shorrock).  A man with a guitar and a clearly local accent took to the stage to play, amongst other things, tracks from his new EP entitled 1000 Lives.   He clearly has a talent, not only lyrically but instrumentally too.  He tells tales and recites memories that will linger.  He is a joy to watch.



Through nine songs he dedicates to his daughter (Nota Bene – the line "You may mean little to the world but you mean the world to me” is genius), his Dad (Guiding Light) and his wife (1,000 Lives – a gorgeous song with a heartfelt sentiment) and the cleverly entitled A Word’s Worth about Grasmere.  C Jay is warmly received and someone to maybe keep an ear on.


Ian Prowse is the consummate professional.  Entering stage behind Laura McKinlay (who will soon display a stunning voice and equally impressive fiddle playing), he wears jeans and a lumberjack shirt.  He may need a haircut if the truth be known and he looks like anyone you may pass in the street any day of any week.

His strength, apart from his undeniable knack of writing a cracking tune, is his connectivity with is audience. He feels like a pal, like the lad next door, he makes everyone laugh with his tales of everyday life and similarly gains a seal of approval when he breaks into things that matter to us all.

Opening with Derry Gaol it’s clear that there is a very serious side to the cheeky Chester born man.  His many references to pal Ian McNabb are funny but also affectionate, and his respect for The Icicles Works frontman is clear.  It is followed by a great version of I Did It For Love (see review here) from 2014s Who Loves Ya Baby) which sees McKinlay begin to shine. 



Often unassuming, McKinlay adds a new light to each and every song with her accomplished fiddle playing and her voice, when called upon is faultless.  One such calling is on Mississippi Beat where she sings a duet from Ian’s current album Companeros, one of seven tracks which he sings in a seventeen track list.

The old Pele and Amsterdam favourites are there too – Fireworks which he dedicates to a fan who sadly passed away is greeted with a standing ovation from the family who are present.  Ian then dedicates the show to him.

Fat Black Heart is likened to the current reign of David Cameron and his Eton chums, and the classic Raid The Palace is also included together with John Peel favourite Does This Train Stop On Merseyside?  You Can’t Win Em All Mum is poignant and one of many highlights from the evening. 

Ian Prowse may not be a household name but he should be, and with performances like the one at Darwen and his strong reputation as a wonderful songsmith, maybe he may just have another crack of the whip. He deserves it.




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Listen! - Sego - Where I Belong






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Friday, 22 April 2016

Review - The Wonder Stuff – 30 Goes Around The Sun




The Wonder Stuff – 30 Goes Around The Sun (IRL)

LP / CD / DL

Out now

8 / 10


Stourbridge’s favourite sons return with their eighth studio album.  

The Wonder Stuff sound like The Wonder Stuff.  To try and describe their music to a newcomer is near impossible as to try and draw any comparisons results in nothing.  Since their debut album in 1986, they have produced music that is unique in sound and style.

30 Goes Around The Sun, as the title suggests, marks thirty years in the business.  To be precise since the band first walked into a recording studio and while the line-up has changed in part due to the untimely deaths of bassist Rob Jones and drummer Mark McCarthy, the clear effervescence has remained.

Now approaching 50 years old, frontman Miles Hunt can still belt out a tune or two and although 30 Goes Around The Sun is no Eight Legged Groove Machine (1988) it is clear from the openings of the albums intro (imaginatively called Intro) that the band haven’t lost anything that made them so popular.

One thing that sets the album apart is the inventive and skilful violin playing of Erica Nockalls.  A feature on almost every track it adds a whole new dimension to the album and often gels tracks together in the unlikeliest places when the album is sometimes bordering on becoming a little too ‘middle-aged- man safe’.

Don’t You Ever blasts out powerful drums and guitars and, of course violin, whilst Hunt sounds as he did all those years ago with his unmistakable vocals.  It contains all the controlled aggression that we are accustomed to and huge bundles of high energy and drive, and In Clover, an album highlight, is classic Wonder Stuff.

It’s hard to pinpoint what makes The Wonder Stuff so special but they manage to do it, and whilst many artists are attempting comebacks and making very average albums Miles and crew seem to have slotted back into the scheme of things very easily.  Maybe it’s the seemingly constant touring of Hunt and Nockalls that keeps them grounded or maybe it’s just an inbuilt youth and effervescence.

The production by Simon Efemey (Napalm Death, Paradise Lost, The Wildhearts) is spot-on and often reaches pinnacles which would be very easy to fall from.  Instead the result is songs that are taken quite literally as far as they could go before they would otherwise have descended into complete over-production.

Good Deeds And Highs and One Day On offer poignant moments and prove that they aren’t just one-trick ponies, and although the later of the two isn’t the strongest track on the album, it does fit in well with its surroundings.

The Affirmation sees the band rock it up and The Kids From The Green reflects on childhood and the move into adult life and independence.  The title track appears as album closer as it almost recites a potted history of the band in a fitting end to a worthy comeback. 







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Watch! - Silverman - Go




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Review - Every Song Has Its End: Sonic Dispatches From Traditional Mali




Every Song Has Its End: Sonic Dispatches From Traditional Mali (Glitterbeat Records)

LP + DVD / CD + DVD / DL

Out Now

8 / 10


Glitterbeat release the second volume in their Hidden Music series.   

The range and diversity of music currently coming from Mali is quite immense.  Music that has influenced and become part of cultures all over the World, but more importantly has revealed the incredible depth of talent that is to be heard from the area.

Every Song Has Its End concentrates on tracks from individual areas, regions and even villages as it presents music that is both raw and unique.  The unprecedented growth of the country’s Capital, Bamako is sending the young people away to the cities and as a consequence, the traditional life is moving slowly away.  With it goes the music and the elders now face difficulty in retaining their heritage.

Paul Chandler, a producer and educator has documented the change in Malian music for the last decade and it is his discovery of sounds that can be heard in this new compilation with accompanying dvd.  It is packed with twelve tracks offering a wide variety of songs which underpin the Malian musical past.

Visiting towns and villages throughout Mali, Chandler has revealed ‘endangered’ sounds which now have a chance to be preserved and enjoyed by future generations giving stunning insights into the wealth of sounds.

Often, crude in the playing but never unskilful, the tracks offer individual styles and techniques rarely heard today.  Whether it be the drone-like Super Onze of the hypnotic Mianka Cultural Troupe, each and every piece is as entertaining as the last, and perhaps this isn’t to everyone’s taste but its education cannot be denied.

Sigui Le by the Nioguebougoula Cultural Troupe goes one step further and has the audience intermingle with the performers to create a stunning, layered recording and Group Ekanzam bring hauntingly beautiful sounds to the mix.

An album that has to be heard to be appreciated, and indication of a musical journey which has only just begun.




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Published on Louder Than War 12/04/16 - here






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Listen! - Pop Morrison - Fizzy






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Thursday, 21 April 2016

Watch! - Beverly - South Collins









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Listen! - Tibet - I'll Put You In My Pocket






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Listen! - Secret Company - Midnight Rush






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Watch! - Bernaccia - Awake






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Listen! - The Bordellos - Grin: New Free Music Day







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