tue 16/07/2024

theartsdesk on Vinyl 41: Kali Uchis, Orange Goblin, Kirsty MacColl, Walton, Miss Red and more | reviews, news & interviews

theartsdesk on Vinyl 41: Kali Uchis, Orange Goblin, Kirsty MacColl, Walton, Miss Red and more

theartsdesk on Vinyl 41: Kali Uchis, Orange Goblin, Kirsty MacColl, Walton, Miss Red and more

The latest epic monthly record review round-up

Like a record, baby

Summer’s here and the time is right for dancing in the street. To vinyl. Only theartsdesk on Vinyl doesn’t just cover music for dancing, it covers every style of music imaginable (with a good showing for pop this month).

Whatever your taste, from the heaviest rock to the lightest ambient music, theartsdesk on Vinyl will review it along the way. Enough intro, though. More juice. Let’s head to the largest, tastiest monthly review showcase on the planet. Dive in!

Kali Uchis Isolation (Rinse/Virgin)

kaliSeems everyone knows about Kaliu Uchis – she's been on a Gorillaz album (and they're on here too), supported Lana del Rey on tour, worked with Snoop Dogg – but she’s new to theartsdesk on Vinyl. We've been missing out. The album was out a few months back, boasting intriguing production credits from the likes of Thurndercat and BadBadNot Good, and now arrives on plastic. The cover art, all red lingerie and flesh, is misleading, in that she looks as if she might be yet another pop-R&B singer telling all and sundry she wants to “be” with them. She’s sexy alright, her tones sultry throughout, but the music is anything but predictable. It’s modern pop, especially on dancier cuts such as “Miami”, but also run through with Latin flavours (“Nuestra Planeta” especially) and a heavy jazz feel (just check old-fashioned slowie “Flight 22”). Clearly money has been thrown at this. The Columbian-American Uchis has been “being developed” for the last five years, and the results prove not only worthwhile but genuinely likeable, accessible and imaginative. There are guest appearances on two singles that have been out previously, “Tyrant”, featuring rising Brit star Jorja Smith, and the P-funkin’ “After the Storm” with Tyler the Creator and Bootsy Collins. Theartsdesk on Vinyl sometimes moans about a lack of decent pop music, so it’s hugely pleasing to receive a major label release like this that can be arsed to make the right kind of effort. Comes in photo/info inner sleeve on the vinyl the colour of the silk sheets that Kali enjoys rolling around in on the cover.

Limb Saboteurs of the Sun (New Heavy Sounds) + Orange Goblin The Wolf Bites Back (Candleight/Spinefarm)

limbWhen does heavy rock become metal? These two releases have genetic make-up derived from both. The New Heavy Sounds label is well-liked at theartsdesk on Vinyl. It is home to bands such as Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard, Vodun and Black Moth that push outside genre confines and reject many of the clichés associated with the scene. Partly this is born of stoner-doom outfits’ willingness to experiment but there’s also great A&Ring going on as New Heavy Sounds’ albums have a higher ratio of memorable songs than many of their peers (as opposed to simply offering energizing riff explosions). For their third album London four-piece Limb step away from their bongs and murk, and give us a set of straight-up rock songs. The lyrics are opaque, although apparently each based on a story idea, but there’s a punk-ish grit to the delivery, alongside a flirtation with proggy effects on cuts such as “Wych Elm” and “The Astronaut”. Comes in photo/lyric inner sleeve on a bright green’n’orange splodge mess of vinyl. Even better, for goblinmy money, is the latest from Orange Goblin, their ninth album in a career lasting 23 years. Putting it on the deck I was reminded of Motörhead, in a good way, not just because singer Ben Ward’s vocals bear a certain similarity to Lemmy’s. Their music has that raw rock energy, even if it doesn’t always hammer along at full-tilt. The Motörhead association turned out to be on-point as that band's guitarist, Phil Campbell, appears on a couple of tracks and one song, “Renegade”, is about and dedicated to Lemmy. However, this isn’t some Motörhead tribute affair, Orange Goblin are very much their own beast and, on blue vinyl in art/lyric inner sleeve, they steam through a set that makes this Orange Goblin newbie want to seek out their back catalogue and see them live as soon as possible.

Kíla Tóg É Go Bog É (Kila)

kilaA re-release for a 1997 album by Irish language folk perennials Kíla. Tóg É Go Bog É translates roughly as “take it easy” but their music happily doesn’t. Which is to say that it’s lively rather than slow, dissonant or difficult. Here at theartsdesk on Vinyl we cannot claim to be connoisseurs of Irish folk but we can assure that this double album on photo gatefold has an easily digestible energy. Cuts such as the instrumental “Rusty Nails” have the zest of rustic Greek party music while other numbers, such as the title track, focus on percussive exercises over which Gaelic is sung/spoken. Side C takes a breather, focusing on more forlorn, fiddle-led fare, but overall this 21 year old set remains a lively proposition, full of surprises. Comes with a 12” x 12” lyric/info sheet.

El Michels Affair Unathi/Zaharila (Big Crown) + Bobby Oroza This Love/Should I Take you Home (Big Crown)

michelLeon Michels was a member of Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings. Danny Akalepse has a long-standing career as a top old school hip hop DJ. Based in New York, the pair formed Big Crown Records a couple of years ago and, as these two 7” singles attest, they now have something seriously hot going on. Naturally soul and funk are part of it, a devotion to retro, but it’s how they carry it that makes things spicy and entertaining. The key cut of these four sides is Michels' own “Unathi” wherein, over a rhythm of drum fills and underplayed wah-wah guitar, a groove grows that seems part Mexican brass and part Bollywood, the latter accentuated by the vocals of Piya Malik. It’s a unique mix’n’mash, very much its own thing and a great single, both whacky and supremely pop. The flip is a slower sliver of drama. Bobby Oroza, meanwhile, is a Finnish singer clearly in thrall to Memphis-style soul and, supported by funky session masters Cold Diamond & Mink, he musters a slow Hammond-sensuality that’s likeable. Big Crown are a label to watch.

Miss Red K.O. (Pressure)

redIsraeli MC Sharon Stern – Miss Red – drops a ragga-dancehall bomb on two slices of vinyl with production assistance from The Bug’s Kevin Martin. The latter’s stern, industrial production is present and correct, more bang than bounce, but when Stern’s vocal style is folded into proceedings, suddenly a new dimension is added. There’s an impressive variety of tone. Take the ghostly sound of “War”, its politics explicit and as is its aura of whispered, desperate threat, or the wispy, equally haunted “Clouds”. Which isn’t to say that Miss Red doesn’t bring dancefloor pressure. She does, by the truckload, for most of the album, on tracks such as “Big” and more. But what truly draws the listener in is the variety, the journey; this isn’t just a collection of dancefloor cuts.

Kirsty MacColl Kite + Electric Landlady (Demon)

kiteNot only could the late Kirsty MacColl write lyrics that made the general specific, with a true literary songwriting skill, and attach them to tunes that stuck, but there’s also something about her way with a multi-layered, harmonic vocal that’s unique. Her voice has a touching quality, fragile but firm, a woman singing, not a girl, but with all the human confusion and humour underlying that too. These two albums, re-released on coloured vinyl (Electric Landlady, a gross shade of flamingo), with their original photo/lyric inner sleeves, date from 1989 and 1991, respectively, as the singer resurrected her career after a decade in record contract doldrums. Both albums feature her folk-tinted landladyjangling style that can, at first, seem bland but, upon further exposure, reveals its depths to those so inclined. Kite, which contains her hit cover of The Kinks’ “Days” sticks to this template, but Electric Landlady takes a wander around other styles, notably on another hit, “Walking Down Madison”, a co-write with Johnny Marr which sounds like a Happy Mondays offcut (MacColl had worked with them previously), as well as various numbers that have a Hispanic exotica feel. Both albums make me think, once again, what a loss it was when she lost her life so unnecessarily 18 years ago.

Kamaal Williams The Return (Black Focus)

kamaalThe game here is instrumental jazz-funk so underplayed it emanates effortless cool (with the emphasis firmly on the jazzier side of things). Williams, until recently one half of the duo Yussef Kamaal, has now put together a trio with session don of the drums (and Labrinth’s brother) Josh McKenzie and bassist Pete Martin. They are never in a hurry and their music contains plenty of space in which Kamaal finds room – never too much – for his keys to dabble about, whether going for a slow psychedelic noodle on “Catch the Loop”, bustin’ out controlled energy on “Broken Theme”, or taking things soft and sensual on “Salaam”. That Kamaal also produces it under his deep house moniker Henry Wu can only help their cause. These guys are funky, they know that, but they hold things down, playing cards close to the chest, and that very understatement creates a compulsive dynamic. Comes with photo/info inner sleeve.


wenOwen Darby – WEN – hails from the worlds born of grime and dubstep but has moved laterally away from easy definition over the last couple of years. Instead, he’s built his own sound. It’s music you have to be very much in the mood for. There’s a lot of repetition, but not in a trancey hypnotic way, more WEN creating a solid structure then filling it with ideas that draw – and often hold – the attention. Some tunes are rooted in a recognizable template – such as “Glisten”, which recalls Orbital’s “Chime” gurgling around in a cement mixer – but many provide no easy hooks. Take “Sun Thru Blinds”, for example, which is built around a plocking tubulum rhythm track interspersed with muffled MC interjections. In some ways EPHEM:ERA recalls the very earliest electronic music – composers such as Russia’s Sixties/Seventies synth don Eduard Artemyev or even the great Musique Concrete creative Pierre Schaeffer – but whereas their brilliance was inspired by technological limitation, Owen Darby has found his niche by inventing his own parameters. Comes on vinyl that’s the colour you get when you run water into a glass you’ve just drunk milk from.

Yorina Dry Your Tears (Barclay/Universal)

yorinaA 10” from a new Parisian singer, discovered and produced by Dan Levy of The Dø, a band who are hit-makers in France. Yorina comes from a fashion background, which sometimes precludes serious musical chops but most certainly not in this case. With basic backing – in the case of the title track, just her own playing of the mellotron – she lays down five songs that range from the good to the excellent. Her distinctive, accented vocals are sultry but also sort of cute, with all kinds of verbal twisting (on “Let Me Believe”, every now and then she questions “Huh?!”). There’s also a reaching melancholy to her voice that surely has universal appeal. “Let Me Believe” is probably the most immediate cut, a love song that sounds guileless, over very simple organ and stripped back but lush production, but the whole thing, which includes previous single “Wild As a Horse”, sounds like the opening salvo of a major artist with a best-selling album ahead of her.

Arp Zebra (Mexican Summer)

arpLike last year’s thought-provoking and rather brilliant BLD album from Acid Pauli, the latest from prodigious New York sonic explorer Alexis Georgopoulos – and his team of instrumentalists – takes organic-sounding global percussion as his starting point and builds fascination from there. Zebra is more loosely rooted in jazz-funk than Acid Pauli’s work but not explicitly so. It’s minimalist, bringing to mind the tribalistic solo forays of Can’s Holger Czukay, but never self-indulgent. There’s a warmth to it too, with hints of Philip Glass-ish serialism on tracks such as “Parallelism” but also there's an occasion when it wanders into a Chinese folk-ish bell sequences (“Nzuku”). My favourite pieces are the steady, drum-led pulsers but there’s lots to enjoy here for those who like music that bridges multiple musical worlds – jazz, ambient, modern classical, minimalism, electronica and more.

Stuart A. Staples Arrhythmia (City Slang)

aFor those who find Tindersticks simply too noisy and cacophonous, frontman Stuart A. Staples has created an album that makes them look like The Ramones. Arrhythmia takes the form for three long-ish songs on one side and a half hour instrumental on the other. Both sides are notable for the absence of any extraneous sound. In other words, there’s very little going on but the wonder of it is how well what’s left works. Opening song “A New Real” is built over slothful empty percussion and the most tentative vocal in history yet adds up to something rather amazing, even before it blossoms into orchestration in its second half. The other songs are somewhat in its shadow although both starkly lovely in their way. The half hour “Music for ‘A Year in Small Paintings’” is the soundtrack to a film built around a year’s worth of paintings of the sky. It’s clarinet-led modern classical at its most spectral, a convincing experiment in stillness. Comes with 11.5” x 11.5” one-sided info sheet.

Gang Gang Dance Kazuashita (4AD)

gang“Lotus”, the lead single of this album, announced that Gang Gang Dance were coming back strong after seven years away. It’s a luscious cloudburst of ambient-leaning synth-pop, built around a sweet central motif and frontwoman Lizzi Bougatsos’ girlish vocals. The album is similarly flavoured. Where once this New York outfit mustered a percussive sound that could, at times, be challenging to those not up for the trip, they’ve now boiled those tricksier elements down, ending up at a place which fits neatly into the long history of their label, 4AD. There’s also a Far Eastern feel to some of the music, the scaling on songs such as “Too Much, Too Soon”, but never to the detriment of the album’s apparent mission to swirl thoughtful Brian Eno-esque sonic architecture into crafted songwriting. Comes in photo/info inner sleeve on tainted scarlet vinyl.

Orlando “Cachaito” Lopez Cachaito (World Circuit)

lopezRe-release for the great 2001 solo album by Orlando “Cachaito” Lopez who was bass player for the now semi-legendary Buena Vista Social Club band. Lopez passed away in 2009 but his sole solo outing is well worth a visit. What really makes it stand out is the way the astounding rhythm section work. Lopez leads, obviously, but it’s the manner in which he interacts with Miguel “Angá” Díaz on congas, Armatido Valdés on timbales and Carlos González on bongos that makes the whole thing hum. I’m not that keen on the novelty sounding hip hop-based outing “Cachaito in Laboratory” but the rest of it, from the laid back floating trumpet odyssey “Tumbanga” to the sheer gutsy abstraction of “A Gozar El Tumbao”, I could swim about in on all day long. Comes with a 12” x 12” booklet of mostly black’n’white photos. 

Walton Black Lotus (Tectonic) + RXMode Degraded (The Transhuman Remixes) (Bass Agenda)

waltonTwo slices of edgy electronica. The first is from the Bristol label that’s wending its way to become a hardy perennial of electronic music, a next-generation Warp or Ninja Tune. Tectonic, however, is more strictly limited in range than either of those labels. This has both advantages and disadvantages. The disadvantage is you know this album – on double – will likely have a moody feel, so no surprises there, then again, that’s an advantage too, for those who want this kind of fare produced and cut with quality in mind. Five years after his first album on Hyperdub, Manchester producer Sam Walton is unafraid of a caustic toughness (especially on “No Mercy”, featuring the ragga attack of MC Riko Dan) and a certain gloominess, although tracks such as “Pan”, featuring a pipe effect, and the mellow, Far Eastern-sounding “White Lotus”, hint at a greater musical breadth rxwaiting in the wings. Bass Agenda are a gnarlier outlet than Tectonic, revelling in threat and darkness. Their latest is a treat for fans of such sounds. Dutch producer Ronald Hustinx slammed out the acidic techno-electro of “Degraded” last year and it now reappears, thrice remixed, with the original in there too. TFHat turns it into a vocal EBM Front 242-type thing, the cokey sounding Slaves of Sinus go deeper into the electro aspect, but it’s fellow Dutchman Wibo Lammerts’ vicious, swirling epic “Violation in G Minor” remix under his w1b0 moniker that takes the cake.


White Ring Leprosy/Nothing (Rocket Girl): For those missing the Alice Glass-era Crystal Castles, New York trio White Ring – Kendra Malia, Bryan Kurkimilis and Adina Viarenga – are here with a 7” single to save the day. They have that same combination of clanky, crunchy but tuneful electronic backing and treated punk harpy and/or spooked vocals. “Leprosy” goes the “Alice Practice” route of electro-punk and Malia shrieking, caustic and potent, while “Nothing”, featuring Viarengo on vocals, low in the mix, is a slower, creakier thing, slithering along like a fuming teenager. Both sides are more gothic than Crystal Castles but this band sound hungry and ready.

Various Restoration: Reimagining the Songs of Elton John and Bernie Taupin (MCA Nashville): This two record collection of country covers of Elton John’s back catalogue had the potential to stink to high heaven. That it doesn’t – in parts – is down to two things. Firstly, they’ve chosen songs that fit the genre well, although veering into pop, rock and even Memphis-style rhythm & blues (on Brothers Osbourne’s “Take Me To The Pilot”). The second point in their favour is that participants don’t dive headfirst into the schmaltz innate to Elton’s ouvre, although numbers such as the crappy “Sad Songs (Say So Much)”, given a straight unimaginative bar blues from Dierks Bentley, and Don Henley & Vince Gill’s bland version of “Sacrifice” are unfortunately present. Highlights, on the other hand, include Lee Ann Womack’s sparky guitar-twangin’ take on 1972’s “Honky Cat”, Willie Nelson’s grizzled dissection of 1970’s “Border Song” and Little Big Town’s part song harmonics on the mighty “Rocket Man”. Even Miley Cyrus resists over-playing her hand with feisty – if anodyne – pop-rock stab at “The Bitch is Back”. Comes on two discs with a 12” x 12” lyric sheet that includes a short note from Bernie Taupin.

Field Division Dark Matter Dreams (Bella Union): Judging from the music on the debut album by US duo Field Division – as well as the two 12” x 12” art-photo prints of them included in the gatefold package – they have a large fixation with prime mid-Seventies Fleetwood Mac. The duo – Evelyn Taylor and Nicholas Frampton – are apparently nomadic, traversing the US even when not on tour. The music does, indeed, have some of that wide open skies feel as orchestration and layered production meets the sweet side of country-psychedelia but eventually reaching a sound that’s West Coast US Seventies pop rather than anything more alternative. Something interesting is starting to happen here although the songs themselves didn’t really stick with this listener. Comes in lyric inner sleeve on vinyl like silvered mercury oil.

Various Onda De Amor: Synthesized Brazlian Hits That Never Were (1984-94) (Soundway)

The gatefold sleeve introductory notes by Brazilian DJ and crate-digger Millos Kaiser point out that European DJs and musicians often head to his country searching for organic, earthy “authenticity” rather than frivolous electronic sounds. His compilation offers balance, collecting together local attempts at synthesized pop spread over four sides. However, those looking for a Brazilian Human League or Coldcut or the like will be disappointed. The original record sleeves, which appear printed on the gatefold too, tell the story. These groups clearly want to be the new Five Star, the new DeBarge, the new New Edition, rather than anything more interesting. Thus it is with the music. Unfortunately, I never liked the style of music these artists aspire to so, while there are tunes that perked my interest – notably the wonderfully titled “Electric Boogies” by Electric Boogies or the crude break-dancin’ hip hop of “Break de Rua” by Villa Box – Onda De Amor will not become a fixture on theartsdesk on Vinyl turntables.

Tom Bailey Science Fiction (Absolute): The Thompson Twins were a major irritant if you were stuck, day-to-day, anywhere that BBC Radio 1 was playing during 1983-84. They – and Howard Jones and others – took electro-pop and turned it into something slick, edge-free and nursery rhyme catchy, and made millions. I will confess, then, that I find it hard to listen to lead singer Tom Bailey’s debut solo album without a rising cynicism. The Thompson Twins, like Simple Minds, were originally an interesting post-punk project, but were overtaken by the blow-dried mullet bombast of the mid-Eighties. They made their deal. They went with the money. So be it. And there I go, off pompously digressing and not reviewing the music. Anyone born after 1975 simply won’t care as The Thompson Twins, after being irritatingly ubiquitous, simply disappeared. Anyway, Tom Bailey’s album is full of hooks, especially the title track – he’s still got it – but also flatly produced, an amalgam of synths and neutered guitar redolent of lesser Duran Duran. It’s not in any way urgent but the inoffensive hobby project of a man who can do as he pleases for the rest of his days. Not that I’m bitter. Comes in art info inner sleeve.

Frank Turner Be More Kind (Xtra mile/Polydor): He’s a funny one, Frank Turner. He has this rep as the punk rock singer-songwriter and there are moments when he gets the raw guitars out and hammers home with a great polemic number such as “1933” (“Outside it’s 1933, so I’m hitting the bar/And I don’t know what’s going on anymore”), and also moments when he musters lyrically astute, lighter-waving guitar pop such as “21st Century Survival Blues” and “Blackout”, but too often it’s wet blanket stuff such as “There She Is”. I’m not objecting to the fact it’s a love song, just that it lacks teeth. Ten years and seven albums into his solo career, Turner has carved himself a longterm fanbase with this stuff. Comes in a gatefold of Sharpie-drawn black'n'white art with a 12” x 24” lyric/info sheet.

Soothsayers Tradition (Wah Wah 45s): London band Soothsayers dig down into the area where reggae melds into soul music, their whole album also laced with socially aware, even political lyrics. The honey-voiced reggae stalwart Cornel Campbell is, then, an apt choice of collaborator on one song and London-based Afrobeat artist Dele Sosimi also gets involved. With the extraordinary run of toasting weather Britain is undergoing as I write, this music comes into its own. It’s cheerful and upbeat but underpinned by a lolling easiness that especially comes over when Julia Biel is up-front smokily jazzing up the vocals.

Roisin Murphy Play Thing/Like (Vinyl Factory Music): 12” containing two from Roisin Murphy and US producer Maurice Fulton that represent the ex-Moloko singer as a cucumber-cool house act. Murphy has a tendency, in more recent years, to be musically drawn towards aloof, smart sounds – “intelligent electronica” flavours – sometimes to the detriment of her more playful side. I enjoyed her Overpowered period, for instance, when she combined real pop suss with energized electro-pop but those days are long gone. “Play Thing” is, instead, straight, classy house, while “Like” is more interesting, a slower, squelchier affair that has a subtle techno hardness about it. Both cuts, which come in art-photo inner sleeve, are considered and well-crafted rather than massively more-ish.

Remate & Wild Honey 2001 Sparks in the Dark OST (Lovemonk): I do occasionally ask myself who some releases are aimed at. This 10” is a good example. It’s a mini-album of music from a Spanish short film production, 2001 Sparks in the Dark, itself a recreation of an interview Stanley Kubrick gave 50 years ago to Playboy magazine on the release of 2001: A Space Odyssey. Its director, Pedro González Bermúdez, worked closely with the two composer-producers on a soundtrack that is very much about mood, whether string exercises, piano solos or choral electronica. There’s nothing wrong with it, as instrumental miniatures go, but I just can’t imagine who’d buy this and play it on 10” vinyl. Perhaps my brain is over-mulling a nicely designed memento of the film in question.

Alxndr London 2023 (The Spectacular Empire): Falsetto-voiced singer Alxndr London builds his music around a squidgy, fluid electronica-funk, an abstracted kind of R&B. Imagine Benjamin Clementine’s otherworldliness without his theatricality, channelled via Kelela or similar. This mini-album has the kind of sound bloggy hipsters – tastemakers! – wet themselves over, a certain studied, distanced cool in the presentation, but don’t let that put you off. London is pushing his boat into less-explored waters and, especially when he works with rising producer Haich (Harrison Bernard) on two tracks, the results are impressively pared back and off-kilter.

Saxon Denim And Leather + Power & the Glory + Crusader (BMG): Saxon have gone reissue mad lately. The latest chapter to arrive on various types of exotically splattered coloured vinyl consists of three from their Eighties run of Top 20 albums, each with lyric and/or photo inner sleeves featuring photo-memorabilia and, in the case of Crusader, the gatefold too. Denim And Leather is, strangely, given Saxon were only a couple of years into their career, almost nostalgic in tone – “Where were you in ’79 when the dam began to burst?” it asks, with many of the lyrics devoted to celebrating the scene that birthed them. It’s a riff-fuelled frolic of stolid, blue-collared Brit biker rock. What’s surprising is how little attack there is in their sound as opposed to, say, Iron Maiden. Which album you like best will depend on what you’re after. If you take Saxon seriously or are re-buying as a fan of old, then Denim And Leather is likely the one. If, however, you’re seeing them via the looking glass of history and, especially, through the prism of Spinal Tap (who were based extensively on Saxon), then 1984’s ludicrous Crusader is where to go, starting with the preposterous pantomime pillage of the title track before plummeting straight into “A Little Bit of What You Fancy” wherein singer, Biff Byford, who sounds as if his vocals were recorded in a toilet cubicle, leads a fist-pumping terrace chant to good time rock’n’rollin’. Listening to Saxon, more than any of their peers, gives a true insight into what metal was to its average suburban fan during the period in question.

Tenderlonious featuring The 22Archestra The Shakedown (22a): DJ and flautist/saxophonist Ed Cawthorne – Tenderlonious – is one of London’s jazz energizers, as he makes clear on his debut album, recorded in eight hours at Abbey Road Studios with his band The 22Archestra. Cawthorne understands electronic-ambient context and never allows things to grow too busy, even on skittering flighty, fluty tracks such as ”Red Sky at Night”. The album is best when the groove leads, as on the mellow but purposeful “Togo”, the clipped busy “Yussef’s Groove” and the subtly funky “SV Disco”. The biographical essay on the photo/info double album gatefold is also engaging, explaining in some detail how Cawthorne went from weed-dealing UK hop playa to zen jazznik.

Kelly Willis Back Being Blue (Premium/Thirty Tigers) + The Rising Moving On (Renegade Maverick): Kelly Willis’s album feels like it was made by someone with nothing to prove. Texan singer Kelly Willis, a small scale country star at home, seems to just fancy putting out some songs she recorded in her producer husband’s studio. It’s 11 years since she released any solo fare and, with assistance from members of Son Volt, the Mastersons and Band of Heathers, she lays down a set of old-fashioned, easy, heart-achey country tunes, some of which she wrote herself, notably the lilting title track which has real legs. Comes in lyric inner sleeve. The Rising are a Belfast three-piece and their music is not to my taste at all. In fact, I cannot listen for very long. I only include them here because their female-fronted harmonic country-rock hints at a band who might one day fill large venues in the same way that the likes of Texas do. 

Bromide I Woke Up (Scratchy) + The Nectars Sci-Fi Television (Umbrella Artist Productions) + The Bongo Club Anybody Have A Lighter? (The Bank): Here at theartsdesk on Vinyl we’re often sent limited runs of vinyl that have clearly been almost personally knocked up. There is a certain charm in this, even when the music doesn’t hit home. This review is devoted to three such releases, all staid indie guitar efforts that show little sense of musical innovation but have their bouncing small-venue fun anyway. First up, Bromide are as indie as indie can be. They sound like Pulp before they became famous (especially on “Two Song Slot”) but run through a bargain bin take on the early Sub Pop sound. This is their sixth album! Next in line are The Nectars, a female-fronted New Jersey outfit who look like they’ve more marketing clout behind them than the others reviewed here. They have a certain buzz-pop charm in the manner of Wolf Alice’s more derivative songs. Doing vaguely what Blondie were doing 40 years ago, sort of, they can write a tune and there’s a barroom looseness that’s likeable. Comes with 12” x 12” photo-lyric sheet. The Bongo Club have a strange name for a Swedish indie band. They sound very much like Arctic Monkeys, especially the singer’s intonations, but musically they’re less spiky. Once again, nothing they’re doing hasn’t been done before multiple times (usually by Artic Monkeys early in their career) but songs such as “Seventeen” and “Violent Disco People” have an urgency.

We welcome any and all vinyl for review. Please hit thomash.green@theartsdesk.com for a postal address.

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