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    Album of the week

    ALBUM OF THE WEEK: Zervas and Pepper: Lifebringer

     

    This Weeks album of the week is Zervas and Pepper: Lifebringer

    and here is what Nick Dent Robinson had to say: 

    Zervas & Pepper are attracting a lot of interest in the music press and on radio with their exquisite vocal harmonies, interesting arrangements and highly original songs.

    Paul Zervas and Kathryn Pepper are about to release their second album, 'Lifebringer', following the success of their debut release 'Somewhere in the City' which they recorded in 2011.

    The pair first met in the Toucan Club, Cardiff in their native Wales and soon decided to write and perform their own original songs as a duo. “That was a very exciting time for us,” Paul Zervas recalls. “We were still finding our feet as songwriters, pushing each other and digging ever deeper musically, determined not to be constrained by current trends in musical style. We realised we'd found our ultimate soul mates in each other. As our romance blossomed, the harmony in our music increasingly reflected the harmony in our lives – at times it felt almost otherworldly to us. And our audiences picked up on that.”

    BBC Radio 2's Janice Long and Terry Wogan have heaped praise on the pair.

    'Lifebringer', the new album, includes some of Wales's finest musicians. The material – which Zervas & Pepper describe as “sunny, cosmic, retro folk rock music” - is “more of an escape from reality” than the band's previous work, Paul Zervas says. Critics have been very positive, calling it “perfect festival music” with “an exquisite sound”. Comparisons have been made with Fleetwood Mac and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. But this may be misleading as it downplays the originality and beauty of the best of Zervas & Pepper's work. 'Lifebringer' is a very satisfying listen. It is well worth making the effort to see Zervas & Pepper perform live with their highly versatile and impressive current line-up including Andrew Brown on bass, Jack Egglestone on drums and Simon Kingman on lead guitar.

    The sounds of Laurel Canyon permeate deeply an album of original songs that draw inspiration from their travels, Kathryn says about the album “There are times when our music is a reflection of our lives but mostly we like to create an escape from reality. We wrote the bulk of this album whilst staying in LA last year, taking as much inspiration from art, music and characters we ran into as we could” and Paul adds “We’ve been somewhat selfish when it comes to the song writing for this album, certainly when it comes to subject matter, there aren’t many Welsh singer-songwriters writing material about round-eyed cult leaders, dystopian futures or mystic Indian shamans! So while not intentionally we do tend to write music that flies in the face of our everyday surroundings and lives”

     

     

    ALBUM OF THE WEEK: Paul McCartney - New

    This weeks album of the week is 'New' by Paul McCartney

    Here’s a review from Michael Gallucci on ultimateclassicrock.com 


    None of the four producers who worked on Paul McCartney‘s 16th album, ‘New,’ were even around when he was making music with the Beatles that would shape both his career and the past 50 years of pop culture. And that’s a key factor to the success of McCartney’s first album of new material in six years.

    Working with secondhand knowledge, or remembrances formed after the fact, of McCartney’s storied career, Paul Epworth, Mark Ronson, Ethan Johns and Giles Martin (son of Beatles producer George Martin) don’t try to re-create the legend’s legacy so much as they piece it together by their individual perceptions of it. The results make up McCartney’s best album in 30 years.
    And McCartney, doing his part, takes a cue from his forward-thinking producers and cooks up a batch of songs that sounds very much part of the 21st century while still rooted in the nostalgia that has driven his career from the start. ‘Early Days’ may sound like it stems from any one of the acoustic ballads McCartney has written since ‘Yesterday’ — and it does, make no mistake. But the subtle production touches by Johns (whose father, Glyn, mixed the Beatles’ troubled ‘Get Back’ sessions before they were shelved and later resurrected by Phil Spector as ‘Let It Be’) also lend it a spark of modern-day electricity.

    ‘New”s best songs expand on McCartney’s pop and rock pasts without ripping them off: the opening fuzz-drenched rocker ‘Save Us,’ the late-Beatles bass-and-drums bounce of ‘Queenie Eye,’ the bubbly harpsichord-graced title track. They, along with a handful of other songs on the album that glide along similar paths, make the obvious Beatles/Wings connections without hanging onto them like a crutch.

    But they don’t try to completely reinvent McCartney either, which is a credit to the producers’ willingness to step back and let a master do his thing from time to time while consistently nudging him out of his comfort zone. After spending the past few years getting reflective on records like the 2007 album ‘Memory Almost Full’ and the 2012 standard collection ‘Kisses on the Bottom,’ McCartney sounds revitalized on ‘New,’ ready for a future he helped pave all those years ago. 

     

     

     

    Album of the Week - Drew Holcomb & The Neighbors - Good Light

     This weeks album of the week is Drew Holcomb & The Neighbors - Good Light and here is what newstown.com had to say about it....

    For Drew Holcomb and The Neighbors, their fourth studio album, "Good Light, represents their highly underrated understanding of emotion rather than their growth as a group over the past year.

    If these guys are strangers to you, consider jumping right in and hitting play to get acclimated to their full-hearted sound. It's just that easy.

    Needing little introduction, Holcomb’s voice is very full and heartwarmingly tender, but equal amounts of time are spent listening to his Tennessean accent click into action. “Another Man’s Shoes” best illustrates his innate ability as he draws, “If you ain’t learn that by now/Go ahead, walk another mile.” With the help of his wife, Ellie, this track is destined for a coffeehouse playlist. Feel free to add it to yours.

    Holcomb’s wife, who shares vocal responsibilities, has a certain warming quality herself. Now and again, her voice is faintly heard but as a buttery echo to her husband’s ever-softening tone.

    “Good Light” is clearly the album’s most captivating effort. “Hey there’s a good light/Shining through/And I need it tonight,” Holcomb sings on Good Light’s second glimpse of the bands personality. Feelings of compassion and wonder arise, as Holcomb, now, more than ever, illuminates some very uplifting themes of open-mindedness and cheerfulness in times of despair.

    Further down, “Wine We Drink” is about as vulnerable as Drew Holcomb gets. Forgetting the words to songs and laughing at the wrong time are touched upon in this fragile track that lightly crumbles with its tenderness. Holcomb has never seemed more human, though. If you're in the mood, this one is an effortless listen.

    This year is definitely going to be Holcomb’s, as "Good Light" is destined to grab the attention it deserves. Is it in my album of the year conversation? Probably not. It could creep into my top 10 if it avoids the dreaded pit radio created for folk-rock artists. And don’t act like I’m the only music critic in the country to ever throw those words on a page. I don’t have the numbers to back this up, but plenty of folk-rock bands have lost more than just their appeal after taking the plunge into the icy radio controlled waters. I’m glancing slyly out of the corner of my eye at you, Lumineers…

    This album is now available on iTunes, so pick up a copy today.

    4/5 stars

     

     

    Album of The Week: The Whileaways - The Whileaways

    From Siobhan Long in the Irish Times:

    Americana has always found firm purchase round these parts, and this newly hewn trio mine a rich seam that owes something to Gillian Welch, Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell. But mostly The Whileaways deal a hand all of their own making. With a seven original songs and a refreshingly spirited take on the hoary old The Banks of the Ohio, Noriana Kennedy, Nicola Joyce and Noelie McDonnell cut a confident trail through the undergrowth of roots music. Kennedy’s songwriting is the highlight of this set piece, with opener Dear My Maker managing to both set and steal the scene in a few short minutes. Kennedy and Joyce harmonise with sibling-like ease, while McDonnell adds a six stringed backbone to the mix. This is an audacious debut (which hollers for a chance to be heard in a live setting, so rich is its lyrical tapestry) from musicians whose experience pays ample dividends here.

     

      

    Album of The Week: Madeleine Peyroux - The Blue Room

    This weeks Album of the week is Madeleine Peyroux - The Blue Room

    Here is what independent.co.uk

    Begun as a tribute to Ray Charles, The Blue Room expanded to include more modern songs by Leonard Cohen and Warren Zevon, among others, all treated in Madeleine Peyroux's distinctive languid jazz style. Her covers of Charles's Modern Sounds material are engaging, with the sleek strings and muted trumpet of “Born to Lose” more perfectly perched on the cusp of blues and country than the ungainly “Bye Bye Love”.

    Peyroux replaces Charles's gospelly yearning on “Take These Chains” and “I Can't Stop Loving You” with a more resigned tone that's actually better suited to some of the newer material, particularly “Gentle on My Mind” and a sublime version of Randy Newman's “Guilty”.

     

     

    Album of the Week: Masters of Their Craft - Various Artists

    This weeks album of the week is Masters of Their Craft, a compilation of various artists including Clannad, Planxty, Shaun Davey, Stockton’s Wing, Christy Moore, Moving Hearts and many more.

    Heres what Tim Carroll had to say about it:

    Masters Of Their Craft’ pretty much sums up what you get with this compilation album from Various Artists on the Tara Music label. It’s is an anthology of 18 tracks from some iconic names and bands in Irish and roots music. In a lifespan of some 30 years Tara Music has recorded the work of music maestros such as Christy Moore, Moving Hearts, Rita Connolly, Clannad, Davy Spillane, Planxty, Shaun Davey and Liam O’Flynn - and this album showcases some of their best known work.
    So what do you get? Well from the rousing might of ‘The Storm’ by Moving Hearts and the cautionary tale of ‘Ripples In The Rockpools’ delivered by Rita Connolly, through the rabid Bulgarian dance frenzy of ‘Smeceno Horo’ from Planxty along with their definitive version of ‘The Good Ship Kangaroo’ to the haunting ‘Daire's Dream’ by Davy Spillane. There’s a live recording of Christy Moore singing the wonderful ‘The Crack Was Ninety In The Isle Of Man’, Clannad delivering the immortal ‘Mhórag's Na Horo Gheallaidh’ and the echoing simplicity of ‘Beautiful Affair’ from Stockton’s Wing. I could go on but if you know Irish music and Tara Music then you’ll already know these 'masters'.

    Will avid fans of Irish music have most of the tracks on ‘Masters Of Their Craft’ on the original albums? Undoubtedly. Then again, is it worth adding this group of gems to your collection? Possibly. And if you are new to the genre is it a good starting point? Probably. There’s also an added bonus of some comprehensive notes about the artists with details of the original albums.

     

     

    Album of the Week: John Fogarty - Wrote A Song For Everyone

     This weeks album of the week is John Forerty -  Wrote A Song For Everyone.

    Here is what allmusic.com had to say about it:

    For a good portion of his solo career, John Fogerty refused to play any of his old Creedence Clearwater Revival songs -- not because he hated them but because he was tied up in a nasty legal battle with Saul Zaentz, the head of his former record label Fantasy.

    After a few decades, Fogerty's position softened and he started playing the tunes in concert, then, after Concord purchased Fantasy in 2004, he celebrated CCR, first with a new hits compilation combining his old band and solo work, then eventually working his way around to Wrote a Song for Everyone, a 2013 album where he revisits many of his most popular songs with a little help from his superstar friends. Savvy guy that he is, Fogerty doesn't place all of his chips on one bet: he mixes up rock and country, old and new, dabbling just a bit in R&B and alternative folk, but preferring to stick to a tastefully weathered roots rock that suits him well. Curiously, there is very little swamp rock to be heard here -- Kid Rock yowls through "Born on the Bayou," but that only helps it sound like it's coming straight out of a trailer -- and the song choice, along with the guest list, skews toward country; with Bob Seger singing "Who'll Stop the Rain" and My Morning Jacket easing back on "Long as I Can See the Light," which leaves just the aforementioned son of Detroit stomping through the bayou, and the Foo Fighters lumbering through "Fortunate Son" as pure rock & roll. Heavy as they are -- and they are, substituting volume for swing -- they're overshadowed by never-ending country-rockers, some spirited enough to enliven familiar melodies, some so sober the whole proceeding winds up seeming a bit po-faced.

    At worst, this means Wrote a Song for Everyone is no better than generic -- it's hard to identify Keith Urban as the duet partner on a too-smooth "Almost Saturday Night" -- but a few of the guests stamp their own identity on the cover, whether it's Brad Paisley twisting "Hot Rod Heart" (the only cover here that can't be called a hit, as it's pulled off Fogerty's acclaimed 1997 LP Blue Moon Swamp) toward his twanging Telecaster territory, or Miranda Lambert stealing the title track from her host and guest guitarist Tom Morello.

    All of this is enjoyable but it's rarely compelling, as very few songs play with the original arrangement in any serious fashion (Zac Brown Band's untroubled "Bad Moon Rising" is the exception that proves the rule). It's telling that the lasting moments arrive either when Fogerty unveils two solid new solo songs -- "Mystic Highway" and "Train of Fools" -- or when he leads his sons through the terrific, bluesy choogle of "Lodi," turning the lament into a celebration. All three cuts prove that Fogerty, no matter how much fun he's having elsewhere on the record, doesn't need any guests to sound alive.

      

     

    Album of the Week: Caro Emerald - Shocking Miss Emerald

     

    This weeks album of the week is Caro Emerald - Shocking Miss Emerald and here is what musicomh.com had to say...

     

    They love Caro Emerald in Holland. They love her almost as much as they love trance DJs, bridges over canals, and tulips. Emerald’s debut album Deleted Scenes From The Cutting Room Floor broke all kinds of records in Emerald’s native country, spending more time at Number 1 on the charts than a little album called Thriller by some bloke named Michael Jackson.While she may not yet be a household name outside of the Netherlands right now, she’s garnered enough attention to sell out the Royal Albert Hall, become a staple fixture on Radio 2 and helped out Jools Holland on his Hootenanny. So it’s fair to say that The Shocking Miss Emerald pretty much deserves the soubriquet ‘eagerly-awaited’.

    The secret to Emerald’s success is easy to identify from the very first notes of her second album. Like her closest comparison Imelda May, Emerald deals comfortably in a retro, nostalgic type of blues-tinged jazzy pop that’s been so successful for her contemporaries. Of course, she could be accused of playing it safe (it’s true that there are no real surprises to be found here) but there’s no denying that she does what she does very well indeed.

    A dramatic orchestral flourish introduces the album before One Day pretty much summarises what Miss Emerald is all about – a sassy, brass-laden strut bearing more than a passing resemblance to Kirsty MacColl‘s In These Shoes. Tangled Up seems to be lined up to be Emerald’s big cross-over hit (bearing the name of a certain Guy Chambers on co-writing credits) and could well be a success – despite some lyrical clangers (“treating girls like a yo-yo is a no no of a monumental kind” anyone?) and some rather over-produced strings, it does have a certain kind of charm, and Ms Emerald splashes her personality all over the song whenever she opens her mouth.

    At times, The Shocking Miss Emerald seems like a triumph of style over content – at 14 tracks, it’s rather too long (a trait in common with many albums these days, to be fair) and for every endearingly daft romp like Pack Up The Louie, there are moments of fluff like The Maestro which just serves to remind everyone that The Puppini Sisters were once inexplicably successful for a brief moment. Far better are the times when Emerald seems to emotionally connect with a song, such as Black Valentine, a beautifully yearning torch ballad, or the smouldering, classy rendition of Paris.

    Stylishly retro and just on the right side of quirky, Caro Emerald fits well into the new breed of post-Amy Winehouse pop star, like Paloma Faith. While her music probably won’t appeal to everyone (and really, what music does?), there is a huge market for this modern spin on a classic sound. Although it may become too whimsical for some, there’s every chance that The Shocking Miss Emerald will see her repeat her staggering success at home on an international basis.

     

     

     

    Album of the Week:Daft Punk - Random Access Memories

    This weeks RTÉ Radio 1 Album of the Week is Daft Punk - Random Access Memories

     

    Here is what NME had to say about it:

    What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.” So said the Preacher of Ecclesiastes. And he said it two and a half thousand years ago, which puts people moaning about things sounding like the ’80s into perspective.

    It’s rare to hear a record that doesn’t sound like anything you’ve ever heard, and rarer still to hear one that also puts a smile on your face. How many great bands turn their backs on putting out the same old shit only to release records so calculatingly ‘out there’ they feel like maths homework? They forget this is supposed to be FUN. Yeah, Radiohead, I’m talking to you.

    Daft Punk have enjoyed near-universal acclaim over 20 years and three albums but ‘Random Access Memories’ is their greatest achievement: an ambitious masterpiece you can’t imagine being made by anyone other than Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo.

    Opener ‘Give Life Back To Music’ sets the tone with guitars that wouldn’t have sounded out of place on Giorgio Moroder’s Top Gun score. It features Chic’s Nile Rodgers and Paul Jackson Jr, who played on ‘Thriller’, so it’s as funky as you’d expect. The sound of a happy crowd gurgles in the background. The party’s right here.

    ‘The Game Of Love’ slips into a slower tempo, as a melancholy android discovers heartbreak. The record is loosely themed around a robot’s attempt to become human, and if he needs a guide who better than the producer who gave us Donna Summer’s ‘I Feel Love’? ‘Giorgio By Moroder’ is a documentary of sorts, in which the titular hero narrates his life story. When he describes the beginnings of the disco beat, we hear an insistent click track. When he tells us that when we create art there are no rules, the music proves him right. It’s a life-affirming salute to the power of the imagination.

    After this, there’s a sea change. Chilly Gonzales plays a 45-second piano solo that takes us into ‘Within’, marking the transition from the first three tracks. This is a record that’s been painstakingly slaved over. The track itself is restrained, as our robot protagonist begins to realise just how much he’s yet to understand.

    He’ll be hard-pressed to catch all of Julian Casablancas’ quickfire lyrics on ‘Instant Crush’, an instant nightclub anthem. ‘Lose Yourself To Dance’ is paired with ‘Get Lucky’, representing the album’s poppiest moments and featuring the dream team of Nile Rodgers and Pharrell Williams. Sitting between the two is the record’s startling centrepiece, ‘Touch’. Paul Williams might be best known as a composer for the Muppets, but Daft Punk love him best as Swan, the villainous antihero of operatic horror film Phantom Of The Paradise. His background in psychedelic storytelling is put to use on an eight-minute epic that changes shape every time you draw breath.

    ‘Beyond’ is another melancholy-hearted collaboration with Paul Williams. ‘Motherboard’ is a long, spacey instrumental that sounds as if it’s somehow melting. ‘Fragments Of Time’ is a further glorious high in which Todd Edwards describes his time in LA and makes you feel like you’re driving a fast car down the west coast of the USA. ‘Doin’ It Right’ features Panda Bear of Animal Collective and is the album’s most forward-looking moment; closing track ‘Contact’ is a DJ Falcon collaboration, and an example of pure musical adrenalin.

    By assembling a cast of their favourite musicians and delving into their adolescent memories, Daft Punk have created something as emotionally honest as any singer-songwriter confessional – and a lot more fun to dance to. Go out and rejoice: there’s something new under the sun.

     

     

     

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