Crawford Mack

Whew, let me catch my breath. Crawford Mack has released an album that isn’t just an ordinary recording. This album, Bread & Circuses takes my breath away, and I’m not even jumping up every 17.5 minutes to flip the record over, pick the needle up and find more on the other side.

The album opens with the powerhouse track, Life Changing Moment, which Crawford Mack tells us is about keeping one’s options open. This song builds tension effortlessly adding instruments as it goes along, and then closes with a joyous chuckle, which sounds appropriate after a song that made me smile.

Track two is a single previously reviewed on WeatheredMusic, Depends On Where You Stand, it has stood up well since its release.

A snapshot from Crawford Mack himself: 

A Love I Can’t Live Up To:

I put you on a pedestal so I could disappoint you.

A ‘how-not-to guide’ to happiness featuring realisations that came far too late.”

Four tracks in we come across the song “William” which has become my favourite from this album, Bread & Circuses. Again, I will let Crawford Mack speak for himself:

“When I was a very young (probably around 3 or 4 years old) boy in Aberdeen I had what I guess you’d class as an imaginary friend called William. My parents were fine with this until they became spooked by me describing him; I described someone in a First World War British army uniform in a level of detail that was hard to comprehend me being able to conjure up at that age. 

I was once playing an imaginary game by myself, well with William, at the end of my old street. We were tearing little leaves off of a hedge and throwing them up in the air shouting “We’re rich!”, suddenly started shouting at me to run up the street as fast as I could. Moments later, a car crashed into where I had just been standing. 

My short legs can’t run that far, 

Cos the car that crashed on Carden nearly took my breath. 

Oh William did you save someone’s son William? 

For the avoidance of doubt, I’m fully aware of how utterly mental this sounds. I’m not an especially superstitious person in general, but it’s always made me wonder what happened; whether or not I was saved by William, and if I was then where was he as I made a litany of mistakes throughout the rest of my life? What would my friend think of the world as it is today? Would he have perhaps thought it worth any sacrifices he may or may not have made? 

Are there neon signs where there were front lines? 

Imagine Maginot, where the flowers never grow at the best of times.

Did they put your name on the Menin Gate? 

Keeping company with the bloodline rushing through my veins.

Did you save someone’s son William?

During writing this track Jamie and I started to speak about hypothetical theories concerning whether the present could affect the past as well as vice-versa, and it dawned on me that if that were the case, maybe it was my responsibility to warn William of the dangers he was about to face and the ultimate futility of sending people to an early grave. Hence the shilling line alluding to the King’s shilling he may have received for his service: 

Sting a sting of roses

The guns are fully loaded

The bayonets and poppy-heads are screaming bloody Moses 

A military manoeuvre 

The morphine’s there to sooth you. 

I’d give you my last shilling cos the Crown will never rule you. 

The song derives its musical influences from three main inspirations: 

Nick Drake and John Martyn’s open guitar tunings.

Nick Drake and Jeff Buckley’s vocal stylings. 

NIN’s ability to make a rhythm section feel sinister and drive momentum whilst playing at slow tempos. As soon as that influence was described to Richard Rayner (drums) and Jack Tustin (Bass) I could just sit back and let them find their parts around the harmony and guitar lines Jamie, and I had written.”

Track five is a song called Turning which confused me; I’ll let Crawford Mack give his take on this track and then I will share my two bits worth.

“I sat in a songwriting lecture tensing each and every sinew of my body so as not to combust and rant the house down as a lecturer reflected that most people don’t even bother listening to lyrics anymore, so there isn’t the same pressure for them to be brilliant, just make it a short intro and get to the chorus quickly. 

I spent most of the remainder of that class considering the implications of committing our experiences, hopes and fears and those of the people we encounter to song, and subsequently to record. 

I remember thinking that the decline of music as a physical product has led to this being taken less seriously by artists and consumers alike. Then I started to think of all the work that goes into making that product possible; from the recording process, the cover art to whoever has mixed chlorine and ethylene to make polyvinyl. If you’re going to put out a legacy of work, then at least consider what else has gone into making it possible. 

I built a scenario in my head where somebody places a record written by an old lover of theirs and asked whether the experience would bring closure, longing or outright disdain. 

As the needle picks me up, once again you hear my voice.

I wonder if it sounds the same wandering through all that pain?

As the needle picks me up, I have left you with the choice, 

Left myself nowhere to hide, find me on the other side. 

So no, it’s not a song about drugs. I can’t stand needles.”

Crawford Mack sings: “As the needle picks me up“, an obvious allusion to a record player, and later on he says, “find me on the other side“, side B of a vinyl record, a physical medium. My favourite medium by the way. However, in the intro to the song, he laments the “decline of music as a physical product”. I would like him to sing that “once again you hear my voice” on a vinyl record. But I can’t; there is no option to purchase a physical copy, not even a CD or cassette. Alas, the only options are digital streaming or buying a digital copy.

1https://ingroov.es/bread-circuses?fbclid=IwAR0xzDiU_LWJtKFZOKtMQ-Xg8n0VcTE3V1EtLeA38H93VuVCNMsaHLFWwTA

Please Mr Mack, could you cut this to vinyl, please? I highly recommend my friend Todd at Moonshot Phonographs which is in the process of being rebranded as Flashback Records Inc., you can give him a call at Phone(587) 501-6461

I wonder if it sounds the same“? No, it doesn’t vinyl sounds different from digital.

I am “wandering through all that pain” of not having a physical copy.

I would love to be able to say that “As the needle picks me up, once again you hear my voice.” my ears pick up the dulcet sounds of your music and singing.

“I have left you with the choice,” I have left you with a choice, but I left myself nowhere to hide.

I hope the day will come when I can say that I found on the other side. For today I am content with listening to this glorious album on iTunes.

The rest of the album is just as good as the songs above; in other words, they are amazing.

Bread & Circuses:

I’ve had the idea of this song for years. It’s been through so many iterations I can barely keep track. Initially, it was a song begging for an end to the political establishment as was. What I wouldn’t give to bring back those halcyon days though, before Michael Gove uttered that “People are tired of hearing from experts” and our national media outlets gave fringe lunatics of the far-right a platform that brought them prestige and credence in the name of balance, before it was possible to micro-target voters with falsehoods before the truth had time realise, let alone get its pants on. 

Propping up a system feeding off the press, 

Everybody’s choking on the Eton mess. 

Using immigration, they focus on the skin

Diverting the attention to cover up their sins. 

I was turned onto the phrase ‘Bread & Circuses’ by reading writings from the Roman poet Juvenal, via Montaigne. The phrase refers to the increase of the grain supply and Gladiator matches to placate potential civil unrest or revolution. 

Sadly I feel that the political sphere has become its own theatre of late, let alone needing to create new distractions. We have a government seemingly unable to play by acceptable rules of engagement, and an opposition too insipid to do anything about it. It is maddening when you consider how much is on the line at this moment and time. My hope against hope is that the opposition and voters wishing to live in an inclusive, tolerant and compassionate country show some pragmatism, use their vote, and use it wisely. 

“Already long ago, from when we sold our vote to no man, the People have abdicated our duties; for the People who once upon a time handed out military command, high civil office, legions – everything, now restrains itself and anxiously hopes for just two things: Bread & Circuses.” Juvenal, Satire 10.77–81

The Story Is No Longer Available: 

The initial inspiration for this track came from me reading a piece on the damage caused to world heritage sites and sites of historical significance during the Syrian Civil war such as Bosra, Palmyra, Krak de Chevaliers, the Al Madina-Souq and Great Mosque of Aleppo, Damascus. The tragic list goes on and on. 

As I went to bed that night a friend I haven’t seen in a while posted a ‘story’ to her Instagram and took it down immediately, all that was left was a slogan reading ‘This Story Is No Longer Available’. 

It got me thinking about those tragedies that befell enlightenment and history all evening, the next day I was on a walk with Jamie, and a long chat ultimately came to a sober realisation of the fact that everything we have experienced and built is coming under the threat of premature decay and destruction if we do not change our attitudes to the consumption of resources and seek to offset our impact on climate change as a matter of urgency. 

“We are the true disaster,

There is no sticking-plaster, 

Don’t need an explanation. 

More like a second chance. 

No time for Mother Nature,

She doesn’t want to hate you.

Our finger’s on the trigger. 

She had amazing stories.”

Grounded Butterfly

Gather me under your wings, and I’m onside.

How will the Butterfly sting if it cannot fly? 

My partner and I were arguing in the build-up to making this record. She was away studying her masters, we were barely seeing each other, and a lack of communication combined with stress is just an absolute nightmare at times. I sat in Jamie’s front room, observing a butterfly with a clipped wing trying to fly and do what it is supposed to. I started to consider how frustrated it must feel, whether it would want to lash out at the world if it had a sting to do so whilst feeling so vulnerable and helpless? 

As I came to my conclusions on the matter I realised I was actually describing how I felt about my own life, particularly my journey through the music industry: Hurt, frustrated, and without everything in place to do what I feel I’m supposed to. It was desperate.

I couldn’t communicate with my partner for fear I would fall to pieces and break everything we had built together from lashing out with my ‘sting’, admitting that I was not comfortable in the slightest and I needed that to be ok. 

Whether the record works out or not, the cathartic experience of writing it has finally made me wrestle my demons whilst surrendering to them at the same time. Oriana came through for me with love and acceptance, and therefore the whole experience has been truly life-changing. 

Firing Squad: 

Promise me it doesn’t hurt Mr. Squadron Leader.

I’ve lived my life one bullet at a time.

I didn’t want to go to church where the firing squad sang requiems instead of a lullaby. 

You tried to test my faith, but all you did was take away my dignity.

Aimed between the eyes, blew away my childhood memories.

Every time you twist the knife, I’ll play on your mind.

Be careful with the power you have over others; sometimes, your own actions will haunt you more than they ever could. 

Travels

A diary of falling in and out of love with places and people following a split. However bizarre it may seem, I sincerely vouch for the veracity of every word. 

So there we have it, a rather long post but this is not an ordinary album in my humble opinion. Happy listening and play safe.

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1https://open.spotify.com/artist/6CKMgHCNRQ5bQTV0Nx4LuM?si=6wobUzdNQBKqK6LcJhYqnQ

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1https://soundcloud.com/user-671874636-571628367

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I Was

I have been entranced by pieces of music and taken on wondrous journeys with the artists as the conductors. Some of those journeys start immediately; it is all aboard, here we go, and off we go like a brides pyjamas. Others are a more passive journey, more like rafting on the Martha Brae.

And then we have “I Was”, the soon to be released EP by Vaughan. It didn’t come out of the gates like a horse with its tail on fire, but on the other hand, it didn’t move at the pace of snail either. It was someplace in between that I don’t understand fully. The creator of this musical mischief is Vaughan. He describes the music this way: “With bare bones of voice and piano; I added the unexpected chord in the chorus as a way of symbolizing how love is the defining amongst the ordinary. A special moment that you can’t anticipate“.

“I Was” will rush forward now and then on the quick turn of a phrase or cradle us with a languid tempo that will creep up on you until you realize that you are nodding your head to the rhythm. This EP is mesmerizing, vigorous and enchanting all rolled into a package called “I Was”. Vaughan has nailed it on this EP. It drops on the 11th of November.

https://www.iamvaughanmusic.com/

https://www.facebook.com/IAmVaughanMusic/

https://www.instagram.com/iamvaughanmusic/

https://twitter.com/IAmVaughanMusic

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCSVIpEvZqv6xm9TqZTsy-WA

https://open.spotify.com/artist/5fB5h4SBmc3SVblBkGV4az?si=y0jwfEgDRlep-43MZ0Qi4A

https://soundcloud.com/iamvaughanmusic

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Emi Wes/Issues

In the press handout that came with this song and video, there is one fragment of a sentence that jumped at me as I reread it for the umpteenth time searching or a muse.

“Emi Wes has spent the last couple of years … experimenting with different genres to perfect her musical craft. She eventually found the core of her musical foundation; a sound that is completely hers. Entering a new collaboration with renowned producer Robin Hannibal, Emi is ready to kickstart her career with the release of her new single ‘Issues’.”

My ruminating was nothing more than highjacking the above quote, copying and pasting it into this review.

I do come away with my own opinion, of course, and I would be remiss not to inform you, the kindly reader of this review of what that assessment is.

It is haunting. It floats, it rises above the mundane. It moves me and makes me want to dance with it. This song leaves me yearning to hear more by Emi Wes.

She sings; ‘Sensitive as a flower, watch me bloom so eager to learn, I watch it grow.’ The song is a self-love affirmation, as she explains: “Over the years, these have been the lines of my life. It’s really about not being frightened of appearing vulnerable.”

Discussing the song, she tells us: “The instrumental, the strings and Robins chords just gave me the words to a feeling I had in me. I guess it was also important for me to address that I have issues too because we all do. Sometimes saying it loud makes it more okay. For me, it’s a sign of strength being able to say the less pretty out loud.”

The single of ‘Issues’ single is available to stream via No Rules No Limits. No word on an album yet.

You can listen to it here:

https://soundcloud.com/vufempire/issues-emi-wes-single/s-70mDr

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GCev1Z57LdQ

https://open.spotify.com/track/6Wh89p24HDNBXD8hC2cpkR?si=cO2jzxgrSn6afN3bA-lW5g

https://vuf-empire.dk/emi-wes/

https://www.instagram.com/youngemiwes/?hl=da

https://www.facebook.com/emiwesofficial

For press enquiries, please contact james@mysticsons.com or dan@mysticsons.com

Still Corners @ The Last Exit

Still Corners are taking The Last Exit, but it will not be my last listen to their ethereal haunting music. The Last Exit has taken me on a musical journey with their often hypnotic music. Still Corners travels between bright, sparkling acoustic guitar, the crooning of Tessa, the lead vocalist for Still Corners, and a steady rhythm that keeps the song moving forward. There is a definite feeling of motion in the music that shows up visually in the accompanying video of The Last Exit.

Tessa describes the idea behind the video -“In a world where everyone thinks all the corners of the map are filled in we like to suggest there’s something beyond that, something eternal in the landscape and in our psyche. Maybe you don’t see it every day, but it’s there, and that’s what we are trying to connect to.”

The Last Exit, the fifth studio album for Still corners, will be released on 22nd January 2021 on Wrecking Light Records.

https://www.stillcorners.com

https://www.facebook.com/stillcorners/

https://twitter.com/stillcorners?lang=en

https://www.instagram.com/stillcorners/?hl=en

open.spotify.com/4zKYrXs8iN4AeHmO8ZxNqp

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Misty Coast/In A Million Years

Once In A Million Years, the new single from Norway’s Misty Coast is energetic, listenable music. It is…I don’t think I can put this in a box for a specific genre. It moves about shift shaping as it goes, and touches on many styles and sounds. The vocals are smooth as well as edgy. The guitars are distorted but not in the heavy metal style that Norway is so famous for having. There are shining acoustic guitar notes and a bass that keeps chugging along. The drums have bright cymbal shots juxtaposed against the beat that holds all the instruments in sync.

Do I like the song? Bottom line, what kind of a review do I give it. I give it five stars, this is a lovely little song, and I hope I get to hear it in a full-length album soon, I don’t want to wait a million years.

https://mistycoast.no/

https://www.instagram.com/mistycoastmusic

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https://twitter.com/mistycoastmusic

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Sonny Winnebago & Lemonade

Lemonade?

No thanks, I’ll have a coffee, please.

No, no, no. Lemonade is a song that you should give a listen.

Oops!

Sonny Winnebago.

It’s a bit cloudy actually, and I prefer staying in hotels.

No, no, no. Sonny Winnebago is the stage name of Welsh-Australian pop troubadour Harvey Jones.

Harvey who?

Harvey Jones, remember that name because I think you will hear more from him.

I wish it were summer so we could drink Lemonade.

It is summer in Australia, and good music sounds good anywhere, anytime.

Where can I listen to this bloke’s tunes then?

You can listen to it on SoundCloud, here:

https://soundcloud.com/sonnywinnebago/lemonade

On Spotify here: https://open.spotify.com/album/0uEmdkMwhbmqSsUFoulGIT

And you can discover more about Sonny Winnebago here:

https://www.facebook.com/sonnywinnebago

and here: https://twitter.com/sonnywinnebago

and here: https://www.instagram.com/sonnywinnebago/

Harvey tells us: “Everyone’s got good memories of picking up a recorder or triangle in school, so we used lots of instruments. Davey brought along some shakers; there’s also a ukulele, woodblock, kazoos & a kalimba. My school instrument was the flute, so we put that in too.”

 “I was walking to my job as a barista one sunny day in North London and saw some little go-getters selling Lemonade outside their house. I thought that was really cool and reminded me of when I used to make Lemonade from a lemon tree we had in the back garden. Anyway, I had a charity shop acoustic that I kept upstairs at work & I wrote the song on my break that day. Some songs take weeks, months and even years to write, but Lemonade only took a few hours. I think that’s how you know it’s a good tune – just totally uninhibited, like the song was already in me somewhere, or in the air that day! In terms of its lyrics and meaning, there’s not really much to analyze, haha. There’s a nice Gremlins reference in the first verse which makes me happy. In terms of production, with the help of wonderful producer Charlie Francis, and awesome session musicians Davey Newington (Boy Azooga) and Matt Evans (KEYS), we achieved this cool ‘classroom’ sound. Everyone’s got good memories of picking up a recorder or triangle in school, so we put in loads of fun instruments. Davey brought along some shakers, so we used all of them. There’s also a ukulele, woodblock, kazoos & a kalimba that Charlie keeps on his desk for good measure! My school instrument was the flute, so we put that in too! If you listen closely, you can even hear a kitchen sink. Enjoy!

Lemonade is available to stream now, with Phwoar & Peace. 

For press enquires, please contact jgreen@mysticsons.com

Raven/Whatever

“Whatever was written in a stream of consciousness, the words just poured out of me. When finished, the brutal honesty struck me. I created a mirror, forcing myself to look into my own eyes.” 

Quoth a Raven, Raven Artson. This Raven can quote more than ‘Nevermore’; in fact, this Raven is very quotable. Raven Artson is a Los Angeles based multidisciplined artist who actively directs his music videos and produces for artists including Sevdaliza, Pip Blom and Ray Fuego. More recently he started curating his interdisciplinary shows, which has led fashion designers like Hardeman and Hanger Inc. to collaborate with artist like himself, True Blue, Beskhen and Cosima.

With a new EP in the pipeline, Raven is ready to take the next step in his career: “As a person, I try to be as honest as possible in my relationships. It’s exciting to share music that’s just as genuine.” 

‘Whatever’ is available to stream via Rosed Out Records.

https://www.facebook.com/RavenArtson/

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https://soundcloud.com/ravenartson

https://twitter.com/ravenartson

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Spunsugar/Belladonna

One song at a time I am building towards the release of Spunsugars album release highly-anticipated debut album ‘Drive-Through Chapel’, out on the October 2nd via Adrian Recordings.

Today I am enjoying their newest single release Belladonna. I won’t add much to this post, but I look forward to the album which I will give a few more words to than this single.

Listen and enjoy their singles thus far: Run, Happier Happyness and Belladonna.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/category/Musician-Band/Spunsugar-11954664354594177/

https://www.instagram.com/spunsugarmusic/

https://soundcloud.com/spunsugarmusic

https://spunsugar.bandcamp.com

https://open.spotify.com/artist/2NDWJvRwXGTFBngWiSNLu9?1si=J8i_Vw-HSUuXxE6m9_sP3w

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Owen Meany’s Batting Stance

Some sounds get so stuck in our heads that we never forget them. The first time our baby said a word, it happened to be Dada in my case. It is stuck in there like superglue.

The sound of a flock of geese flying over our heads at midnight with no moonlight it was pitch black. It is locked in my neurones forever.

The song “Breakfast Again” by Owen Meany’s Batting Stance, stuck in my brain tighter than a high e string getting bent for a solo.

The first time my ears heard Breakfast Again, I was hooked, and I still am. Owen Meany’s Batting Stance is the pseudonym of singer-songwriter Daniel Walker, a fellow Canadian and a veteran of the folk music circuits pre-pandemic.

Daniel Walker projects hints of The Mountain Goats, Jenny Lewis, and Conor Oberst to inspire his sound. Daniel tells us that “Their deliberate approach to lyricism coupled with the fact that they emoted a similar high-pitched, nasal vocal delivery proved to me I didn’t need to have a raspy baritone or angelic falsetto to be a singer, let alone songwriter.” His voice immediately brought to my mind the vocalization and delivery of Roy Forbes, especially during his Bim years, and another Canuck.

Daniel tells us that “Breakfast Again” lyrically explores the implications of lost love. Discussing the inspiration behind the track, he says: ‘Breakfast Again is about the emotions: the worries and resolution that come with no longer sharing a life with someone important to you’.

Owen Meany’s Batting Stance released the ‘Breakfast Again’ single on September 4th via LHM Records along with a video release of the song. ‘Feather Weights’, Owen Meany’s Batting Stance’s album will be released October 2nd 2020 via LHM Records.

LISTEN: https://soundcloud.com/user-77387696/breakfast-again-3

 Accompanying the track is a hazy visual, featuring the frontman himself. The new minimalistic music video blends cloudy and clear shots of the lonesome artis laying in a river; a metaphorical representation of drowning in his emotions.

 WATCH: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ntly4MHloHY

Vera Hotsauce

I listen to a lot of music. I think it safe to say that I listen to more albums than the average person. I don’t listen to much radio, so I don’t factor that in, I am focusing on intentional listening. Pulling out a record or CD or even streaming albums with the full intention of listening to the whole album in one go. For full albums, I average about 450 to 500 albums a year. On top of that, I can add the countless singles, iTunes compilations and other bits of music here and there. I genuinely enjoy listening to music, and I do miss the live concerts.

Having said all that, I am quite pleased when I hear an artist, whose music I had never listened to before, brighten my day. I have an album like that on repeat on Apple Music as I write this. Hot n Saucy is the album, and Vera Hotsauce is the artist. She is in there with The Verve and Urban Hymns, Veil of Ashes with their album ‘Pain’, Velvet Underground & Nico, The Violet Burning, and of course, there are dozens by everyone’s favourite ‘V’ artist, Various. Vera is joining a small demographic with some good company in the “V” column.

I might have completely missed Vera Hotsauce if it hadn’t been for one song, ‘Ricochet’. Vera paints a target on the back of 6ix9ine, a wannabe musician, with a history of sexual crimes against children. I will stand shoulder to shoulder with Vera and any other artist who will call out twats like 6ix9ine. Vera aims a diss squarely at not just 6ix9ine, but also the labels, online streamers and white shirts that enable this guy to make records and videos.

Other than the standout track, Ricochet, I also got my groove going with ‘Hey Boy’, and it’s hypnotic backbeat and bass lines. Lovely, just lovely. The rest of the album gets in line behind these two standout tracks for my listening tastes anyhow. Not a bad listen at all and a socially relevant album. Vera Hotsauce shows that she isn’t just another pretty face; she is a strong woman who knows who she is, what she isn’t and how to express that through the medium of music.

This record documents Vera’s misadventures on the journey to self-actualisation. She tells us “This album tells a story about an era. I’ve made so many stupid decisions that got me so many crazy memories and took me on so many f-d up adventures.”

I have made my fair share of stupid decisions but listening to Vera Hotsauce is not one of those decisions. I rather enjoyed this album and I am totally onboard with the message. Thank you Vera.

https://open.spotify.com/artist/5KucN3rNvkbmfNWqknOvth?2si=KSn_hnYIT8-lM7fYyw_fRQ 

https://www.ten.se/artists/vera-hotsauce/ 

https://www.facebook.com/VeraHotsauce/    

https://www.instagram.com/verahotsauce/ 

https://twitter.com/VeraHotsauce

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