Richard Thompson is something of a legend of music when it comes to roots, folk and even rock, Richard has achieved it all, multi-award winner, critically acclaimed throughout his career and regarded as one of the top guitarists to ever grace the stage.
He’s been releasing albums for forty years plus, whether as part of a band (Fairport Convention), a duo (with his ex wife Linda) or as a solo performer, his back catalogue is second to none.
Acoustic Classics see’s Richard revisit that rich history of recorded music and, as the title suggests, give them something of an acoustic makeover (his first all acoustic album since Small Town Romance, some thirty years ago!!!) taking in well known classics such as I Want To See The Bright Lights and Beeswing as well as reinturpting lesser known material such as the mesmeric From Galway To Graceland.
The project is an intriguing affair, instead of the inventive flights of electric guitar wse now have Richard stripped back, showcasing more finger picking and strong strumed chords framing his compelling songwriting and his warn yet instantly compelling voice, songs such as (the former duet with Linda) aforementioned, I Want To See The Bright Lights is given a new twist in such a stripped format.
With just his acoustic guitar as support, Richard delivers a strong, punchy Wall Of Death, a wonderfully weary sounding, Down Where The Drunkards Roll, to the stunning, intricate guitar work of 1952 Vincent Black Lighting via the acoustic vibrant rock n roll guitar of Valerie.
If you’re already a fan of Richard’s former output, I’m sure you’ve already put this on your wishlist or in your basket, however if your new to Richard Thompson or don’t know where to start with his heavy duty back catalogue, The aptly named, Acoustic Classics serves as a very tasty introduction indeed, highlighting his songwriting, guitar mastery and a handful of geniune classics too boot. Whether you’re new to Richard or a long term fan this is a must buy.
Rhythm & Booze Rating 9
Here’s a somewhat strange concept, a covers album of Bob Dylan in what, most people would declare, the poets weakest era (Bob suffered both critically and commerically throughout the decade!!), in fact most music fans maybe fairly ignorant to the majority of Dylan’s 80′s output with the likes of Saved, Knocked Out Loaded and Infidels barely registering on all but the hardened Dylan fans radars.
However producers Jesse Lauter (Elvis Perkins, The Low Anthem) and Sean O’Brien (Dawes, Papa) have set about addressing the forgotten era of Dylan by collaborating with a number of artists and Dylan fans to showcase what you may have been missing.
The album not only is an awareness raising affair for Dylan of the 80′s but also set’s to help raise funds for a fantastic charity, Pencils Of Promise (an organization that builds schools and eductational opportunities in the developing world) by donating a portion of the proceeds of the sale of this album. a win-win situation where purchasers are introduced to some brilliant music and give to the needy.
The compilation itself features a number of big names from the aforementioned Elvis Perkins to Deer Tick, Slash, Craig Finn (Hold Steady) and Dawn Landes & Bonnie “Prince” Billy among others all delivering rousing performances and highlighting the pen of Bob Dylan in the forgotten decade.
The album open’s with a gloriously ramshackle, rustic rendition of Got My Mind Made Up (from Knocked Out Loaded) by Langhorne Slim & The Law who weld together boogie woogie piano, handclaps, strummed acoustics and a raw, rousing, infectious vocal delivery that sets the mood brilliantly. From there on in we’re treated to a variety of styles and approaches as the various artists reintrupt to their own strengths.
Highlights come thick and fast, from the likes of the gorgeous blissed out soul/reggae version of Brownsville Girl (Knocked Out Loaded) by Reggie Watts, the aforementioned Craig Finn with a brilliant piano led (Springsteen-esque) Sweetheart Like You (Infidels), the twanging country of Ivan & Alyosha’s You Changed By Life (Shot Of Love Outtakes), the beautiful folk lament of Dawn Landes & Bonnie Prince Billy’s understated Dark Eyes (Empire Burlesque) and the glorious alternative indie and muted horn assisted Series Of Dreams (Oh Mercy Outtakes) by Yellowcard. Whilst there’s no way you can review this album without mentioning the wonderfully the ahem, more warped, percussion friendly version of Waiting To Get Beat (Empire Burlesque) by Tea Leaf Green and the insane take on Wiggle Wiggle (Under The Red Sky) by Aaron Freeman (Ween) & Slash, which quite frankly has to be heard to be believed.
The seventeen track affair (24 if you manage to track down the deluxe vinyl edition with the bonus download code) is intriguing, captivating and at times surreal journey through the lesser acclaimed works by the most important songwriter born of this world. And if, as the album’s title suggests this only the first volume, sign me up for the subsequent releases now!!
Rhythm & Booze Rating 10
Birmingham currently seems to have reasserted itself as the nations second city, when it comes to producing indie rock. In recent years we’ve seen the success of the likes of Peace and Superfood emerging as must see’s on the live music scene and now Dumb are hot the heels of the preceeding trailblazers with their own blend of guitar heavy, radio friendly rock.
The four-piece have already racked up loads of media inches with a string of acclaimed singles and rigorous touring schedule, which has seen the band share stages with the likes of fellow up and comers Darlia, Baby Strange (and the aforementioned Superfood) as well as opening the Jon Brookes memorial night at the Royal Albert Hall playing alongside the likes of New Order, The Vaccines and of course The Charlatans last October.
The likes of Radio One, NME and Clash have all rushed top offer the band plaudits along with all the usual blogsites, whilst the band’s fanbase has swelled along the way with new converts to the band’s sound appearing at every gig.
The band have decided to make the much blogged singles Dive, Retina, Two Bottles and Super Sonic Love Toy available in one package alongside new track Still I’m Stuck to allow new fans to catch up with their output to date. The EP opens with a torrent of feedback before Retina bursts into live, combining a scinilating slacker indie groove (reminscent to the likes of Pavement, Sebadoh, etc) with a gloriously infectious vocal drawl courtesy of frontman Dylan Williams. The track has it all, energy, attitude and a knowing swagger that instantly grabs the attention from the very first outburst of guitar strangulation.
Dive is a little more (ok a smidgen) laid-back with the band offering up shimmering guitars, cooed vocals and stop-start time changes to create a thrilling ramshackle affair that sounds thrillingly on the brink of collaspe. New track, Still I’m Stuck proves that the new material is equally as exciting as the previous releases, with it’s crude but mesmeric riffs and vocal hooks, whilst EP highlight (and I expect live favourite) Super Sonic Love Toy is a glamourous gutter anthem with a sing-a-long backing vocals, discordant guitar and stirring tambourine shakes.
If you’ve not been paying attention to the current indie buzz band’s or indeed Dumb’s alternative reality hit singles, I highly recommend you catch up quickly by picking up this exhilarating five track collection and then track up down playing in a flea pit near you.
Rhythm & Booze Rating 9
I’ve seen singer-songwriter, Claire Boswell performing in and around Worcester on a number of occasions, generally in support or at the various local music festivals, she’s always come across as someone who is either born in the wrong age or perhaps the wrong location.
Claire possesses a lovely pure folk voice that seems to be have been lifted straight from the Laurel Canyon or perhaps Woodstock, a voice that demands quiet attention, which of course is not always possible in a live setting and so I was more than a little intrigued to listen to her self-titled debut album, without distraction and interference.
The first thing to note about the album is the stunning yet sublime production courtesy of renowned local producer, Dave Draper, he’s helped flesh out Claire’s sound whilst framing that delicate and aching vocal. From the opening track, Willin’, Claire’s lonesome acoustic guitar is joined by a delicious country slide that instantly draws the listener in. From there on in subtle brushed drums, understated harmonies, strings, occasional bursts of electric guitar and on the stunning Four Days, piano join the mix, peppering Claire’s vision.
The vocals and storytelling throughout are simply breathtaking, Claire’s airy voice shine’s drawing the listener close for the likes of the folky, fiddle enhanced lament, Do You Love An Apple, telling a story with true conviction and a passion that’s second to none.
Claire offers up a few surprises on the album, including a glorious take on the blues on the upbeat Loverman Blues, whilst the celtic influenced lovelorn ballad All I Want, with it’s gorgeous string led introduction deserves a special mention, not only for the mesmeric instrumentation but also the heart and soul that simply aches from Claire’s voice. Whilst the likes of The Creeper is given a lovely rustic feel with the use of pattered percussion alongside exprfessive flights of fancy on the violin and omnipresent strummed acoustic. And no album review would be complete without a mention of the jaw-dropping final number, The Flower Of Magherally, a spine-tingling, intoxicating acapella track that has to be heard to be truly believed.
The album as a whole is a majestic, captivating affair, perfect for those quiet, intimate nights in, an album to truly immerse yourself in. Claire Boswell has released a quite magical debut that deserves wide recognition in the folk and roots community the world over.
Rhythm & Booze Rating 9
Bath trio, The Family Rain have been causing quite the stir in music media circles with their blend of high energy, infectious, fun-filled melodic indie rock. 2013 saw the band knock up over 200 shows performing with the likes of Biffy Clyro, Jake Bugg, Miles Kane and The Courteeners to name but a few, winning over new fans along the way. The band also released their debut album, Under The Volcano to much critical acclaim, with the likes of the NME applauding the band for their bolshy attitude and meaty riffs.
Hot on the heals of all that board treading and debut album the band returned to local bath studio, Nam with friend of the band and producer Tom Dalgety (Royal Blood, Band Of Skulls, Maccabes, etc) to record a brand new four-track EP, showcasing an even beefier sound as The Family Rain once again flex their musicial muscles.
The EP opens with the boisterous You Should Be Glad You’ve Got A Man, a riff friendly, hard hitting indie anthem with all the attitude of a young Artic Monkees and the vocal hook to match, the track has that necessary swagger to stand head and shoulders above the mediocrity that generally plagues the pages of the aforementioned NME.
The EP features a further three tracks of rowdy indie, with We Are In Love, perhaps the pick of the bunch with it’s stomping rhythm, simplistic riff and hollered mantra like vocal, Though the fuzzy sub two and half minute closer, Punch Bowl is pretty damn impressive two as frontman Wili Walter unleashes his finest jack White impression over a driving garage riff and feral drum beat.
Hunger Sauce is a fantastic follow up for The Family Rain, following on from that aforementioned debut album, the four tracks show how the band are moving on with a hard hitting sound without losing all that made the band stand out in the first place. if you like bawdy indie rock with stomp and holler, I urge you to get your collective arses down to a Family Rain gig and pick up a copy of this EP whilst you’re there.
Rhythm & Booze Rating 8
- Richard Thompson-Acoustic Classics
- The Kut Release New EP
- The Killing Lights Unleash New Video
- This Will Destroy You Showcase New Track
- Amanda Rheaume Releases New Album And Announces Tour
Tides From Nebula-Earthshine (8 votes)
The Dirt Tracks-Never Been To Mars (7 votes)
Dan Webb-Hyperspace Clearance (6 votes)
October Sky Release New Album And Tour (5 votes)
Huron-Mary Celeste (5 votes)
Introducing New Town Kings (4 votes)
Das Sexy Clap-So So Sick (4 votes)
Jil Is Lucky-Jil Is Lucky (4 votes)
Interview With Dana Jade (3 votes)
Rendezvous-C Sharp (3 votes)