Akiva – Broken Ship
The very slick video to this song has the lyrics pop up, graffiti style as they are sung so you are left in no doubt exactly what Akiva and singer Dave Mackenzie are saying. Clearly they are a band with a message, so what is it? Well, it turns out your vote is not the earth shattering instrument for change YOU might have thought it was. It also transpires that there are ‘bigger forces’ than YOU thought there were in the world (although they remain unnamed and simply serve for a bit of Gallagher-esque clever clever word play). The 2011 London riots get a mention as if they were a contemporary event and while it was fun to look up what a ‘Hobsons Choice’ was, I feel the increasingly totalitarian nature of Western society could have been better explored without it serving as a drop into the songs outro.
I think what really bugs me about this song and much of Akivas output is the condescending tone of it all; I think they really believe they are delivering searing home truths to YOU, the ignorant slave of the system, when in reality it’s all a load of vaguely worded discontent that feels incredibly dated. For instance, the semi chorus reads – ‘You can protest and beg and scream and shout, you won’t rest ‘til the truth comes out’ which makes no sense : on the one hand you’re a flailing idiot, begging and screaming for the truth, but on the other you’re a sober seeker after that truth who ‘won’t rest’ until it ‘comes out’. It’s all so sixth form, the notion that ‘we all know what the truth is’ and if only everyone realised they knew ‘THE TRUTH’ somehow everything would heal itself and all the problems in the world would vanish. Hey, I’ll tell you what the truth is : – this is all just a pose and the lyrics are thrown together because they sound clever and important, how about that! And hey, what is a broken ship!?! Seriously, that’s the metaphor they’ve gone with, a ‘broken ship’; not a ship wreck or a torn sail or something about taking on water, anchors or drowning or something, anything that makes sense, no, a ‘broken ship’, a phrase that’s never been used by anybody, ever : – ‘Hey, what’s that thing over there in the sea that used to have a function but doesn’t now because it’s not working anymore?’ – ‘Oh that? That’s a broken ship’. Awful, wretched, risible nonsense from beginning to end. Pah!
The Hats – Blood On The Mountain / Open Your Eyes
A homage to The Black Keys you can sink a few jars to, debut single ‘Blood On The Mountain’ is good fun rock and/or roll, even if the anguished lyrics give the song a slightly wonky frown. But what’s this? Dancing through the door, becoming the life and soul of the party, b-side ‘Open Your Eyes’ has everyone swigging from the punch bowl and downing pitchers, to what could just be the feel good hit of the summer. The Hats are indeed a loveable bunch who can bring the sun out.
Danny Young – Brighter Days
Danny Young returns with a new solo album of musical oddities, experimental jams and sweetly affecting little songs. While many releases from artists and bands land with a thump, by design, this short 22 minute album is the sound of an auteur submerging himself in his own creativity, emerging from time to time with the fruits of the journey he’s undertaken and saying ‘here you go, have a listen’. As such it’s hard to categorise what’s going on here so it’s perhaps better to talk about the overall effect of the album upon listening which tends towards the optimism implied in the title,
particularly appropriate at this time of year as summer approaches. The album may be a bit too nebulous for some with the more traditionally formed songs acting as oases between the more esoteric, fidgety tracks which would try the patience of the listener if not for their brevity. As it is, the more difficult tracks do not outstay their welcome and among the vocal tracks there are some gems with the beautifully wistful ‘What more can I do’ being the standout track for me. As the days lengthen and the memories of scarves and thick jumpers fade from our minds and the renewing power of spring surrounds us in its fragrant explosion, the human mind, so separate from nature in our mechanistic, rational world, still feels the tilt of the seasons as they slowly draw breath. This album perfectly encapsulates the spring feeling that, after all, it is good to be alive.
Sam Rabin – Take Me Where
Love can be difficult, heart wrenching business. It can be more emotions than you can stand all at once. A Billy Bragg everyday-man delivery, accompanied by his lone guitar, Sam Rabin creates a very personal image through poetic song to get his story across, and when he proclaims “You and I, we’re in love and that’s a given” on ‘Pint Glass’, it’s sang with the ache of experience. There’ll be no kiss for the ages on a mountain top here, the 3 songs on this EP are set in the streets walked upon and bars that were drank in – no violins, no Hollywood moments, all feeling. ‘Take Me Where’ is the real soundtrack to a relationship.
TV COMA – Body Negativity
Self-confessed Manson family look-a-likes, TV COMA profess they are just like you. Thing is, they’re probably not. More I.T crowd than “in” crowd, but far from feeling downtrodden, this EP is a celebration for being a sticklebrick in a box full of Lego and just as colourful. Looking at life wearing Weezer specs, ‘Body Negativity’ boasts outsider anthems from start to finish, and is further proof that the geeks will inherit the earth.
Featherhouse – Lewis/ When it’s enough
You can get an idea of the ethos at work here if I quote Pete Guy (A.K.A. Featherhouse) himself on the creative process –
‘The percussion consists of various recordings I made in my kitchen… There’s a gentle hum in the background where the microphone picked up the sound of my refrigerator chugging away while recording the bass drum sound. This was created by striking a cushion with the handle of my dustpan brush and then drop tuning it down an octave, while the brushes are the sweeping motion, moving rhythmically across my kitchen floor tiles. There is also the sound of my door keys being shaken layered low down in the mix… I love how you can make a beat out of anything – rhythm is everywhere…’
These songs are beauty personified, distilled with infinite care and attention by an instinctive musician at the height of his powers. There’s such longing in the vocals, such a profound sadness in the phrases as they float by. The vocals intertwine with the violin and the cello in aching desolation but somehow leave you with the promise of better things to come. My only complaint is that they are, as standalone tracks, too short. I would speculate that this is deliberate and is of course the prerogative of the artist but I wanted to wallow in the songs, which flutter, all too briefly, before fading away
The Dirty Tales – Blackout Drinking
Tub-thumping, Celtic-Punk, all washed down with a pint of the good stuff. The debut EP from Bedford’s The Dirty Tales is a full on knees-up with The Pogues and Gogol Bordello, whilst putting the world to rights. As track titles ‘Strong and Stable’ and ‘Guns Not Books’ suggest, there’s a political overtone to the record which takes aim at Donald Trump, Theresa May and whoever else from the Right gets in the way, but never preaches or rants in getting the point across. ‘Blackout Drinking’ is a barnstorming, rebel rousing, delight throughout.
The Cardinal Kings – Ghosted
According to their Facebook bio The Cardinal Kings are ‘a 4 piece indie band from Beds, fusing incredible songwriting with catchy guitar riffs and spellbinding vocals.’ I’d say the first 7 words of that are perfectly true but would take some persuading to go along with rest and this song is not the persuader required to make me take that leap of faith. An uninspired and uneventful dirge of a song about something or other, it’s surprisingly badly played for a band who seem to have been around for at least a while now and who should, presumably, know better. If you like The Arctic Monkeys I suppose you might give this a passing glance while you wait for that bands latest tedious offering, but beyond that and as far as I’m concerned, I’d rather sit in silence if it’s all the same to you.
Waste – Honey
Sorry kids, but monsters do exist. You won’t find them under your bed or in your wardrobe. Many enter Tory leadership contests with dystopian plans for the poor and draconian demarcations the nation’s uteruses. However, one Yin to this Yang is the monstrously magnificent Honey. WASTE have brought forth a snarling, bone-crushing behemoth. Unrelenting brute force and eviscerating riffs conjure a visceral howl that rips across the title track. It’s no wonder singer Jak Melvin is kept up “up till sunrise”. There are delicious, dark forces at work from the Stevenage boys. Deliver yourself unto them.
KING PURPLE – TIME ALONE EP
Evolution. It’s not just a theory you know, but it’s OK to disagree. Just write down your research, get it peer reviewed and collect your Nobel Prize. Until then let’s carry on like we’re not all fuckwits, shall we? There’s certainly nothing primitive about King Purple’s debut EP, Time Alone. In fact, on an ascending Darwinist scale from amoeba to rock god, they’ve ascended far more advanced and upright than early singles suggested. The pharaoh psychedelia of Khamun’s Terror, lays the building blocks for this evolution before a treasure-laden title track. Time Alone is a soaring two-tunes-in-one epic – brooding, agile muscular, while progressing the ethereal charm of these three Kings. It’s just a theory, but this could be the start of something royally exciting.