'Pots Of Gold'
'Cover Your Heart'
'Venus On Earth'
'What Tomorrow Might Mean'
'Rhyme For Small Time'
'Live At The Bongo'
'Nothing's Gonna Spoil My Day Today'
'Call Me Sinner'
Albums & Promos : Shorts
Albums & Promos : Shorts
Alice Russell / Pot Of Gold *** / *****
Having recently ( November 2008 ) completed a tour around the UK, plus select dates in Europe and the US, it's fair to ask is Alice Russell finally set to go big-time? With 2008 being the year of the Amy Whinehouse impersonator though it could just be that Alice has arguably missed her best chance. She does indeed have a wonderful set of vocals that i'm sure would captivate a live audience, yet her own material is somewhat hit and miss. The first two songs ( 'Turn & Run' and 'Two Steps' ) could both be hits, especially the latter with its Mark Ronson apeing style and classy vocals. 'Let Us Be Loving' is the pick of the rest, a slower tune that allows the Russell vocal to really hit home. Suffice to say she does need to find more of a distinctive style. Something moody, dark and mysterious, perhaps? Nothing at all wrong with 'Pots Of Gold' mind you, it's just that her voice apart not enough here truly stands out as amazing.
( reviewed 29.12.2008 )
Paula Wolfe / Lemon **** / *****
Paula Wolfe was born in Dublin yet moved to London as a child. Lemon is her second album, a self-written, self produced and performed effort released on her own label. Now, we've so many female singer/songwriters now that it's difficult to know what to do with them all. Paula herself perhaps is hedging her bets, having impressively completed a PHD in the 3 years between the release of 'Lemon' and her debut set. 'Lemon' then is a tasteful collection of acoustic songs with just the occasional track featuring an electric guitar or a more uptempo feel. A couple of times though, she manages to hit the nail right on the head, lyrically she has a remarkably fresh look on life. The title track is a good example - a slow motion, sunny springtime with just a light springkling of rain. Naturally this album isn't going to be to everyone's tastes but the lyrics really do raise this above other musical wallpaper. 'Cheer' is a near-perfect number with the same relaxing and special atmosphere as the title-cut. So, if a quiet and intelligent singer-songwriter is what you want, rather than all too much shouting, Paul Wolfe could well be just the one for you. ( reviewed 29.12.2008 )
Moody McArdle / Fractured Soul ** / *****
A native of Ireland although now based in London, McArdle has played such venues as the Underworld (Camden), Kashmir Klub (Baker Street), The Bedford (Balham), 12 Bar Club (Denmark St.), The Water Rats (King’s Cross), Union Chapel (Islington) and the Acoustic Lounge in Clapham. He's a popular draw by all accounts, although perhaps best suited to the live envrionment rather than studio based projects. 'Sweet Smell Of Success' is almost enough to make me want to switch off due to the cliched, half-formed lyrics. The actual tune is quite haunting, though. The title track you would hope would break him out of this sub BBC mid-afternoon blues/folk/songwriter ghetto but sadly it doesn't. ( reviewed 23.11.2008 )
TD Lind / Call Me Sinner **** / *****
Recorded in a barn in Dorset in just four days by Lind himself, 'Call Me Sinner' is initially a fairly uninteresting set of Americana influenced folk and blues. A few repeated plays get the songs under your skin, even if ultimately TD Lind's voice occasionally lacks the weight to fully give justice to his excellent songwriting. Mostly self-produced, 'Call Me Sinner' has a natural, organic live in the studio sound. There are ten songs here that only just reach over half an hour in length. That may upset some who these days would prefer an hour long, albeit incosistent set, but as far as TD Lind is concerned, this is just right. We've hints of country as well as folk and the closing 'Miss Friday Night' is a rollocking party blues number with slide guitar and plenty of interesting changes. 'Cold Heart' is a neat duet with a female singer and the Piano led 'Sing To The Moon' reminds this listener of a sober Tom Waits. That's no bad thing, by the way. All in all, an excellent set, although TD Linds desire that radio play his singles might not be met when he chooses a relatively uncharacteristic tune such as the polished and lightweight 'La La Love' to be his first single. ( reviewed 23.11.2008 )
Lau / Live At The Bongo ***** / *****
Lau is a folk three-piece from Scotland consisting of Kris Drever, Martin Green and the formiddable Aidan O'Rourke on fiddle. This CD was recorded at Edingburgh's 'Bongo' club late 2007. Winning best folk group at the BBC Folk Awards in 2008 is just one of the accolade's this up and coming and thoroughly exciting act have been awarded. 'Live At The Bongo' contains many self-written jigs, marking them out as somewhat unique on the scene. These furiously complex instrumentals, always containing intricate and stunning playing lend 'Live At The Bongo' a tremendously exciting feel. There are numerous highlights here on this set largely focusing on the groups instrumental work, including the see-sawing melodies of 'Sea', the somewhat haunting, delicate softness of 'Gallowhill' as well as the best vocal tune here, 'Banks Of Marble'. The British folk-music has rarely been more innovative or exciting than it is now and Lau seem to be one of the leading components on the scene. ( reviewed 23.11.2008 )
Envisage / What Tomorrow Might Mean *** / *****
I like 'Rock Dudes'. I mean, with a song title like that you'll be expecting the worst, but this strange mix of Indie Rock and Gary Numan will certainly have you pricking up your ears, if nothing else. They hail from West Ham, London and are something of a multi-cultral bunch - they also have not one, but two main songwriters. They watch football and drink beer, the usual sort of pursuits for college drop-outs and their album sounds great turned up loud. A few songs see them jam on the outro, others are weird offerings from some 'other' place. The production inevitably for a band not signed to any kind of major label, or even major indie label, fairly cheap sounding. Yet, 'She Tells Me' could be a Damon Albarn tune in another world. 'Awsome Feeling' plugs into an 'Oasis' type vibe whilst 'Seven Wonders' is an airy, atmospheric lament and/or dream. Good stuff, all in all. ( reviewed 16.11.2008 )
Kingskin / Rhyme For Small Time ** / *****
Kingskin arrive sounding not unlike Stiltskin. Remember them? Anyway, a song such as 'Bottom Dollar' is an accomplished heavy rock cross between the likes of Stilskin and heavier fare, somebody like Audioslave, I guess. 'She Got The Bomb' makes further sense of the Audioslave comparison, offering up some funky, semi Chili Peppers bass lines. For all this American rock, it's surprising therefore to discover that Kingskin are from Dover in the UK. Nothing here is going to change your world but if you do like this kind of music Kingskin do it pretty well. I'd pay to see them live, at any event, especially to hear the funky, real hard hitting 70s sounding gem that is 'Suck Me Sideways'. With a title like that, you pretty much know what to expect. ( reviewed 16.11.2008 )
Annabelle Chvostek / Resilience **** / *****
Canadian based singer/songwriter Annabelle immediately attracts you with her rich, luxurious vocal chords. A mandolin picks out an attractive melody during the inticing title track, 'Seven Years' follows and proves she's versatile. An acoustic led number but with impressive and sparse use of additional instrumentation. Well, Annabelle is a multi-instrumentalist herself and made her professional debut at the age of 7, with the Canadian opera company. She moves from style to style, her voice always the center of attention. Following the poppy title track, the folky 'Seven Years' is such material as 'Racing With The Sun', which could be an early 70s hippy type acoustic number. Jazz inflections here too in the melody lines she chooses to use, great track all round. Further variety arrives with 'The Sioux', which sounds to my ears all the world like old English folk music. Excellent stuff, highly recommended album all round.
( reviewed 16.11.2008 )
# Yan&Tom / First Lights ** / *****
French indie-pop sung in English. Doesn't seem to be something you should investigate, does it? They do pure pop music played with guitars, bass and drums - no hint of rock. This is something not many bands do without getting dragged down into trying to sound either cool or like The Kooks. Happily, Yan & Tom sound like a indie-pop Simon & Garfunkel played by Prefab Sprout and sung by a Wings tribute band. Then, after a few winning pop tunes, they present us with a terrible reggae tune in 'Promises Of Gold', enough to make you turn off altogether if you are a harsh old sort. Still, they do have a genuine gem up their sleeves with 'In The Wind' ( no, lyrics are not their strongest point ) which really shines with shimmering melodies played by a mix of acoustic guitar and wandering jazz trumpet player. After another few mediocre experiments, they come up trumps again with 'We Shall Be Free', a pop tune with added brief bursts of orchestration that lend a weird kind of class to what sounds like a fairground ride in a circus. Download your favourites after visiting their myspace page, is my advice.
( reviewed 16.10.2008 )
Olympus Mons / Nothing's Gonna Spoil My Day Today *** / *****
If the singer for Olympus Mons sings 'how many times, how many times' once more, i'll shoot at him, placing Richard Hammond from 'Top Gear' in a cannon. Although short, Richard Hammond contains a lot of punch, which is more than I can say for Olympus Mons. This is an infuriating album to listen to thanks to the vocalists constant yelps. Ok, let's politely say he's got a voice like 'Marmite' and focus on the band. They're ok, actually and clearly contain some potential, some funky bass-lines from a bass-player possibly better employed working for Funkadelic and learning and stretching out. He seems somewhat wasted here. The album is on play.com if you want to buy, but why should you? Well, here's a reason or two. They do indeed, thanks largely to the bass-lines, have a fairly unique sound. They have plenty of catchy songs, although presenting a sixteen track debut album is possibly taking things a little too far. There's plenty of energy here, although a dubby-ballad would have been welcome. Standout cut for me is 'Broken Boys And Girls Of This Enchantment', a lengthy song-title but then again, lyrically, this band are quite interesting as well. This particular song has a nice early eighties new-wave feel, I like it. ( reviewed 16.10.2008 )
Black Light Burns / Cover Your Heart *** / *****
This is the second post Limp Bizkit album from their former lead guitar player, Wes Borland. As if presenting his differences, he covers a lot of alternative music, a lot of time, British alternative music almost no Limp Bizkit fan is likely to have ever heard. For example, Wes and his bunch of mates do an industrial thrash take on PJ Harvey's 'Rid Of Me' and it's a decent musical track. I'd have preferred PJ herself singing to Wes Borland, who ended up with the vocal duties in Black Light Burns due to an absence of suitable contenders. He sings in a thrash, contorted and distorted style. His vocals are fine. This covers album is mostly enjoyable too, although nothing to take seriously and clearly something of a pet-project rather than something aiming for the charts. Anyway, tracks three and four interest me. Track three is a Duran Duran cover, of all things, yet it explores some interesting musical sounds and textures. Track four is a cover of a Sisters Of Mercy song and suddenly, Black Light Burns sound alive, in this goth-rock setting. I will follow what Wes Borland does next, because he was after all, the only talented member of Limp Bizkit. I mean, Fred Durst solo album anyone? Thought not. ( reviewed 16.10.2008 )
Dengue Fever / Venus On Earth **** / *****
The well reviewed psychedelic sound of Dengue Fever arrives at adriandenning.co.uk. This is the third LP from the band with a Cambodian born female singer. They are a truly diverse bunch which you can see if you are lucky enough to see a picture of them, and they also have the music to match. The interestingly titled 'Woman In The Shoes' for instance has 'foreign language' vocals ( shock, horror! ) matched to very sweet indie-guitar music that has a delicacy and melodic power enough to overcome even the staunchest of closed-minded people. 'Oceans Of Venus' presents organ-swirling surf music whilst the closing 'Mr Orange' is quite psychedelic enough for me, sounding deliciously like music that should accompany a lo-budget British sixties sci-fi film. Dengue Fever do indeed have an intoxicating sound that delights in a variety of cultural influences and sounds very well played and accurately produced. Not many bands I can think of can sound so good in a psychedelic-sixties way, although I don't want to overplay the Psychedelic angle, because mostly, these are just playful tunes you want to hear again. ( reviewed 16.10.2008 )
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