Scott Helman – Live!

20180508_201216469_iOSLast night my first visit to the Garage‘s upstairs venue was to see Scott Helman. Another punt into the unknown as I hadn’t heard any of his music before but his frenetic strumming on his 3/4 size acoustic quickly won me over. Backed by an excellent percussionist he took us through most of his last two albums of folk-ish rock n roll (but thoroughly pop) songs. His vocals had a slightly husky quality that may have been exaggerated by the DayQuil-sedated cold.  An early equipment malfunction meant the sound op had to switch to mono, with Scott exclaiming “whatever that is!”. I hope he was joking, otherwise it’s another realisation of my growing age gap with today’s upcoming musicians! It’s always a good sign when you enjoy an artist that you have no previous experience of, so definitely worth checking out.    Find his music by clicking here.


The Academic / Sea Girls – Live!

Went to The Garage in North London last week to see The Academic with Sea Girls in support.  Having never seen either band before I’d usually have checked them out on the net first, but throwing caution to the wind I thought I’d just see what they were like on the night.  Planting myself close to the front I wasn’t disappointed by either! As with most guitar bands the music hits harder than on record and their great tunes just shone through.  sea girlsFirstly Sea Girls were totally brilliant. Henry Camamile has one of those voices that has a wonderfully deep tone to it.  It is distinctive yet feels familiar, maybe because along with the music it felt very evocative of the 80’s music I love.  With a support band your never quite sure what they are going to be like so I was surprised that I liked them a lot. I would have happily let them do another half hour!  The Academic were equally as good making the night even better delivering a set full of energy and loud guitars. It just shows how good bands are that are out there and you don’t need to spend a fortune to have a brilliant night, providing you can live with screaming teenagers highlighting how old you actually are!  I’d never been to The Garage either and its a great sized venue and really easy to jump on the Tube afterwards.  The Sea Girls don’t yet have an album but have a few EP’s you can get but you can pick up The Academic’s album Tales from the Backseat now. Go check out both bands!

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Kate Bush – Hounds of Love

Kate Bush is a flippin’ genius, but even though I teenaged through her peak period of kb holoutput it’s only in the last few years she became one of my obsessions. Seen by most as her magnum opus (although for me 2005’s Aerial also vies strongly for that position) Hounds of Love contains her biggest singles of the 80’s. It’s B-side features the Ninth Wave, a suite of songs relaying the story of a woman swept overboard during a storm at sea. Her initial acceptance of death quickly reverts to a struggle to survive until her eventual rescue. This is why Kate is a genius. She is a storyteller and you “feel” her music. It gets into your head and stirs emotion within her vivid soundscape.  Kate performed the whole Ninth Wave live in 2014 which brought her vision fantastically to life.   A 5.1 mix of this album would be fantastic!

Standout Track: Simply can’t choose and i’m not going to!

Jill Jones – Jill Jones

It’s easy to think that Prince’s side projects as nothing but token artists providing an Jill_Jones,_cover_album,_US,_1987outlet for his ego, however most (if not all) were/are talented artists in their own right.   Jill Jones provided backing vocals and appeared in the video’s for 1999, Little Red Corvette and Automatic but her debut album didn’t surface until 1987.  The Family and The Revolution make appearances on the album with Prince providing the songs.  It is very much a Prince album, and he features on backing vocals, but Jill’s performance stands up on it’s own and her voice really suits the tracks.  Jill has spoken very positively about the whole experience of working with Prince and if you like that 80’s Prince sound it is well worth a listen and for big Prince fans its an essential if you can get it – mine is ripped from my vinyl copy!

Standout track : For Love

Florence + The Machine – Lungs

You used to be able to get a Mars Bar for less that 50p. Nowadays it can’t get you much but in my local charity shop it got me this CD!  This is another album that passed me by Florence-And-The-Machine-Lungs-Official-Album-Coveron release in 2009 even though I am a fan of Florence Welch’s distinctive vocal style.  It’s possible that her version of “You’ve Got the Love” put me off this album.  For me the definitive version of this song is the unofficial Candi Staton / Frankie Knuckles version from 1989 however Florence’s  album version is different to her single release and it seems more original than the remixed single was.   It is an album with a several musical styles but rooted in incredible vocals and one of my pet loves – interesting lyrics and narratives that pull you into little four minute worlds. Definitely one of the best ways to spend 50p!

Standout track : My Boy Builds Coffins

New Year, New Music?

se425I’ve had a short hiatus from posting due to (amongst other things) not commuting for a few weeks and Christmas. Now I’m back with a lovely set of new earbuds, some Shure SE425’s, thanks to my lovely wife who has also provided inspiration for my first blog posts of the year.  Another Christmas pressie was tickets to the Prince Exhibition at the O2 in London.  Prince is one of my favourite artists and his untimely death in 2016 is a great loss to the world of music.  His breadth of musical styles and influences is massive and following my visit I decided to listen to his albums in chronological order.  I don’t intend to post about each album separately as I can probably do two a day, but might if I get inspired enough. By the way if you are a big Prince fan the exhibition is really worth seeing.

Eternal – Always and Forever

Aside from fancying Louise Nurding (now Redknapp), I remember Eternal as one of the most eternalsuccessful groups of the 90’s. With their debut album they had a string of hits and I had it on tape but finally picked it up on CD. Their blend of RnB and pop has that Britishness that always manages to stand out from American groups.  I don’t know how well the sound translates to new ears some 20 years later as the distinctive 90’s beats and rhythms dominate this album, but it is still very listenable with some great songs and powerhouse vocal performances.  If you like En Vogue or SWV then you are in the right place for Eternal. Following Louise’s departure they continued as a trio then eventually a duo, however it’s their debut album that finds a place in my collection.

Standout Track: Save Our Love