Saturday, 20 January 2018

Glen Hansard - Between Two Shores, album review



Perfection

This is a sophisticated, polished album, from the horn-dressed ballad of Wreckless Heart, to the bass-caressed funk and psyche and rock orchestration of great opener Roll on Slow, to the pop funk of Wheels on Fire, and to another plaintive, organ and horns rousing ballad of Why Woman. Hansard’s vocal, as on Movin’ On, is emotively gritty, as well as gentle for the fullest range of shades like the sweet Setting Forth, strings here assisting perfectly as are all the instrumental/production judgements – listen to the horn intro for Lucky Man, organ here another constant fine feature.

I could write as closely and positively for every other track. If you like this kind of music, it is perfection. 


Into the Distance Music 68








Friday, 19 January 2018

Bob Dylan - The Music Which Inspired Girl from the North Country, review

Brilliant Range

This is a quick mention of a fine compilation of Dylan songs, made by Conor McPherson and which follow their playing and reinterpretation in the play by McPherson Girl from the North Country. I knew nothing of the play when I heard this selection, and while I am familiar with many of the tracks, I am not with all, and also not being one of the biggest followers of Dylan I have nonetheless been impressed with their mix and juxtapositions. The fact that so many of the songs sound fresh is testament to how little I really know of Dylan’s massive output, apart from the obvious ‘hits’, but also just how deep his brilliance is across the range presented here.

Friday, 12 January 2018

Chris Wood - So Much to Defend, album review



Fact

This is a stand-out folk album from 2017, and actually just a stand-out album. Chris Wood does occupy a noticeably formal and traditional place within the folk genre, but he nonetheless manages to make it completely fresh and apt in a way the paradoxes within this sentence won’t if it is over-analysed, or maybe even just read a second time. My apologies. What I mean is I hear folk tropes in obvious ways as with 1887 [though the piano is an askance instrument] and in the absolutely stunning, beautiful closer You May Stand Mute. Opener So Much to Defend is rich in its Martyn-esque pickandslap guitar work, so in a sense a more modern folk grope [‘modern’ being a relative term here], the narrative itself referencing ‘Skype’ so a genuinely updated mention, and the ‘Ebbsfleet’ FC mention a bit of grounding news. There’s Hammond organ in the This Love Won’t Let You Fail to broaden the folksiness outwards – another beautiful song – and the horn/s in Strange Cadence a jazz inflection to make the listening pleasure fulsome.

Quite a brilliant album, in fact.


Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Space Music 22








King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard - Gumboot Soup, album review



Onslaught

King Gizzard & the Wizard Lizard continue to deliver up their onslaught of richly heavy and melodic and complex and simple music, where, for example, a track like The Last Oasis is sweetly melodic with echoing/distorted vocals merging in layers of in-and-out-of-focus instrumentation, xylophone/vibraphone nuggets added to the eclectic mix, and then All is Known is a rockier, oriental-esque, funked-up and wah-wahed driver, but just before these two and just after the preceding delightful mix, is the thrash-metal pastiche of The Great Chain of Being and its proto-bombastic lyrics:

The great chain of being
The great chain of being
The great chain of being
The great chain of being

I am a rock with eyes to the sky
I wait for my time to rise
I come to disturb the throne
Dropped by a woman worn a pocket in a coat
The great chain of being
Will fall to pieces in no time

The great chain of being
The great chain (chain) of being (of being)
The great chain (chain) of being (of being)
The great chain (chain) of being (of being)

I usurp the precious stones
I have come to take the throne
I transcend the natural flesh
I will lay your god to rest

The great chain of being
Will be un-linked to start again

The great chain of being
The great chain of being
The great chain of being
The great chain of being
The great chain of being
The great chain of being
The great chain of being
The great chain of being

I see through your world's facade
I decide to punish your rock

The meteors pass by
I burn that goddamn church to the ground

I climb stairs to push you down
I climb chains to cut you down
I disrupt natural order
Rip that salty lamb to slaughter 

Wonderfully oblique in the mix.