I was becoming more and more piqued (feel irritated or resentful) as I listened to this album repeatedly, searching for something, anything (an excellent album by Todd Rundgren) that would move what I heard into words.
What I kept hearing was flashbacks to other bands and other eras, and that is not a bad thing. As I listened to Piqued Jacks new album, Synchronizer (not to be confused with the Central Scrutinizer by Frank Zappa), I kept trying to put my finger on what I was hearing.
I searched through my musical brain’s dusty neurons, and I touched on an oldy goldy from the past, Trooper. The opening track from Synchronizer is Golden Mine, and it opens with a great guitar riff that reminded me of Trooper. As the album spooled out, I heard elements of more modern bands such as Ferraro.
Having said all that, I do not want to leave the impression that Piqued Jacks have plagiarized anyone else’s music. I do not think that. What I do believe is this, I believe the Piqued Jacks probably listen to a variety of music, and from that listening that have gathered bits and pieces together and created a fine album of their own that sounds like Piqued Jacks.
“Synchronizer” is the third LP by Italy’s Piqued Jacks; recorded at both Esagono Studio in
Rubiera (RE), Italy and in England, alongside three of Britain’s top producers: Julian Emery
(Nothing But Thieves), Brett Shaw (Florence + The Machine) and Dan Weller (Enter Shikari).
Synchronizer is the first LP for Piqued Jacks under the INRI label. It should be the first one in your playlist this weekend.
Emi Wes opens her new EP with the shimmering song “All Grown Up”, brimming over with her electric vocals and backed with a solid team effort.
Then we get the Spanish guitar of “Where’s My Money” that evolves into a hypnotic pounding track that carries her anguished vocals and a bass line that supports her cry for more money. The song then moves into a vocal trill that sounds more like it came out of Turkey than Spain. Magnificent production.
WTF? The next track is “Five Miles”, a song that shouts R&B from the rooftops. With thumping percussion and a chugging bassline that carries her vocals to the surprise conclusion, lush strings. I loved this track. I honestly do not know what I can say beyond that. It is my favourite from a stable of winners.
“Cry Baby”, the next to last song is not a peon to a guitar effects pedal, think Jimi Hendrix. It is a love song. And a darn good love song at that.
The EP closes with her new single ‘Issues’. On this showcase song, 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 aloud makes it more OK. For me, it’s a sign of strength being able to say the less pretty out loud.”
“Sometimes saying it aloud makes it more OK”, and sometimes playing it loud makes it more OK. Pop this gem of an EP into your headphones and crank the volume to 8, I don’t want you to go deaf at 10, and listen to this fantastic EP from Emi Wes. A voice that is bound to go places and keep getting better and better; this is a promising start.
Don’t forget to check her out at these fine web pages:
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
So, Crawford Mack went to a museum, and while wandering through an exhibit area with his female friend, he decides that his interpretation of the works on display depended on where he stood. So they stood in different places. Not happy with that, although it did provide them with new views of the works, they then attempted to engage with the works of art. That meant them dancing for some, posing for some and imitating some. Was it a success? Depends On Where You Stand.
From where I was standing, this is good music incorporated into an excellent video that would have made Modest Mussorgsky happy.
Back on July 7th, I did a review of Ben Hobbs single, Own Arms, which was in almost constant rotation on my iTunes account. Today I did a proper listen to Ben’s upcoming EP, dropping on July 31st, and I have no problem giving this a 4-star review, that’s four out of four by the way.
In the EP, Better Weather, I hear a bit of Bowie and his Diamond Dogs through to Heroes era. I also feel a bit of an R&B vibe going on in Better Weather. This EP is not mired in the past though. It has a 2020 vibe to it that is very contemporary and very listenable. Better Weather pays homage to the music of the past, but Ben Hobbs is very much connected to the present and is looking forward to better days with his new music on Better Weather.
The title song, Better Weather, gives me hope, hope for better weather in a literal and a figurative sense, our summer where I live has been very wet with minimal warm, cloudless days. The music and lyrics of Better Weather warmed my soul via my ears, thank you, Ben.
Ben tells us that the EP is about “insecurities, life challenges, everything. My girlfriend, the inspiration for ‘How We Care’, the journey we’ve been on together, and how we’ve helped each other. In contrast, ‘Loaded Gun’ is based the idea of leaving your world behind for a new one, partly inspired by what was is happening in UK politics; feeling like we are being lied to by our government.
A vast pool of inspiration that brings us Better Weather by Ben Hobbs. Do your summer a favour and listen to Better Weather. The Better Weather EP will be available to stream from July 31st, 2020.
Supernaive, what a great name that is, I liked it before I even listened to them. The brothers Baptiste and Lucas Malgoire have been working together as Supernaive and released some excellent material over the years. 2017 gave us the E.P. Dazed & Confused, not to be confused with the song that Jimmy Page ripped off from Jake Holmes. And do not be dazed by the movie Dazed and Confused, produced by Richard Linklater which gives us a look at coming of age in 1970’s Texas. The Supernaive E.P., Dazed & Confused is a piano-driven electronica journey and proved to be a strong start for the boys that share time between Tokyo and Paris, France, not to be confused with Paris, Texas. The movie Paris, Texas, gave us the excellent music score by Ry Cooder since we are talking about music today.
In 2018 the lads Malgoire gave us Lions & Pigs, an ethereal, esoteric darker sound than their previous work, in a right way. This four-song E.P. has an edge to it that cuts through to our ears. BTW, excellent cover art.
And now we have all that 2020 has become with the redeeming grace of great music, specifically the full-length album Nekomata. Dozens of listens into this album and I still don’t know what to say. It is powerful without being pushy, beautiful without being gaudy, layered without being rock. They don’t just walk to the beat of their own drum, they beat the drum, and then we walk to that beat with them. Supernaive have released a new video & single ‘Under Control’ (ft. NAL) along with their debut album Nekomata
What we have on the imaginary turntable today is modern pop music at its finest. Explore is a five-song EP by up and coming Swedish artist Discrete, with help from Charla K, on the opening track, Feed Me With Love. A catchy little dance tune with retro synth sensibilities.
At the number two spot is the churning of Typo which spotlights Tudor and Victoria Voss who engage each other in a verbal sparring match with some more smart dance-friendly pop music.
Number three is a Stupid Thing. For real, it is a Stupid Thing, that is the name of the track, Stupid Thing. It features Neville, and together they explore the never-ending topic of love and dating. Discrete tells us that she sent a demo to Neville and her producer and what had once been an instrumental track flowered with lyrics and stunning vocal. Discrete was excited because this was different from anything she had done previously, we are glad for that because this Stupid Thing is irresistible.
Second, to last on the EP is a radio-friendly little number called Better Days. This collaboration with her longtime friend Chris Collins is a catchy synth-pop tune. Taking a different angle to the never-ending love story this is about long-distance love and the challenges that come with that.
The closing track Runaway sees Discrete collaborate with well-respected Swedish songwriter Alex Shield, who is launching his projects under the name of KELLYKKE. Combining crisp beats and breezy synths that flow graciously together; Discrete and KELLYKKE explore urges for self-discovery and new beginnings.
Talking to us about the collaboration, Discrete tells us: “KELLYKKE and I met for the first time last summer, and we’ve been working on a lot of songs together since. He came up with an idea for a song using a guitar and his vocals, and before we knew it, Run Away was born. We ended up experimenting until we finally found a middle ground that fitted both of our sounds. I feel humbled that he wanted to release his first single as KELLYKKE with me.”
So there we have it folks, five catchy modern pop, radio-friendly, little summer dance beauties. Summer will be different this year with social distancing but if you find yourself alone on a desert island Discrete has cooked up a nifty EP for you to pass the time until the rescue arrives. Have fun, listen to more music and stay safe.