Monday 27 February 2017

The Return of Girl Ray

You remember how much I love Girl Ray don't you? Yes, of course you do. Lord knows I banged on about them enough last year, a minor obsession that culminated with the band gaining what must surely be the highest accolade of their career thus far - my favourite tune of 2016. By all accounts Girl Ray are busy finishing up the recording and post-production of their debut LP, though have found a little time to play a few shows on the current Teleman tour - what a great night that sounds. Meanwhile, their next single, 'Stupid Things', arrives on April 14th, but they're letting us have a listen to it well in advance of that date.

Friday 24 February 2017

On the Road Again

As you read these words I'm many miles from my desk and faithful laptop, on day one of a whistle-stop tour of London and the South East. My Aunt in Bethnal Green took a nasty tumble last week, breaking her right shoulder and fracturing her left hand. Understandably, she's feeling a little sorry for herself, so I'm going to pay her a surprise visit to see how her recuperation is coming along. She turns 90 this year, so these things take time - try telling her that though. While I'm down in the smoke I'll be staying with my other Aunt in East Ham, who's of a similar vintage. These two old ladies are the last remaining family members who have known me since birth.

From London, it's on to another, long pre-arranged, appointment with the great Alasdair Roberts, who is appearing at the Colchester Arts Centre on Sunday evening. Alasdair's new LP, 'Pangs', is released today, so with any luck I'll be able purchase my copy directly from the artist himself. Here's the video for the title track, which features an unexpected acting cameo by another firm favourite of this parish, Cambridge's own primitive guitar maestro, C. Joynes.

Wednesday 22 February 2017

Kane Strang

Out of Dunedin, New Zealand comes the rather splendidly named Kane Strang. His debut LP, 'Blue Cheese', was released exactly 12 months ago, but he's already back with 'Oh So You're Off I See', the first taster from album number two, due later in the year. Stick with this one, it's a grower.

Thursday 16 February 2017

François & the Atlas Mountains

Though I may understand very few of their lyrics, I'm secure in the knowledge that François & the Atlas Mountains know their way around a good pop song. My introduction to the band was via the song 'Je Suis De L'Eau (Be Water)' in 2009 and it remains a firm favourite to this day. Before we revisit that one though, check out ' Grand Dérèglement', the latest single from their forthcoming new LP 'Solide Mirage', due for release on March 3rd. The folky little guitar riff is absolutely irresistible.

Tuesday 14 February 2017

Farewell Robert Fisher

I was saddened read that Robert Fisher, founder of The Willard Grant Conspiracy, passed away over the weekend, following a year long battle with cancer. The band debuted in 1996 with '3am Sunday @ Fortune Otto's' and released a further nine studio albums up to and including 2013's 'Ghost Republic'. In spite of his increasing illness, Fisher apparently spent much of 2016 holding down a day job while simultaneously recording tracks for a new, as yet unreleased LP. 

Mrs S & I saw Willard Grant Conspiracy back in 2004 and were greeted by Robert himself, sitting behind a desk just inside the door of the venue, selling his own merch. 'The Work Song' was one of the many highlights of the show that evening.

Willard Grant Conspiracy - The Work Song

Sunday 12 February 2017

Canvey Island Baby

The Wave Pictures pause promotional duties for their latest LP 'Bamboo Diner In The Rain' to pay homage to the great Wilko Johnson, by way of a six track 10" EP, 'Canvey Island Baby', scheduled for release this week on the Acuarela label. The EP contains interpretations of five of Wilko's own songs (including the classic 'Back in the Night') plus a title track freshly written by David Tattersall of the band, which gives a hefty, lovingly observed nod in the direction of the seminal Dr Feelgood sound.

Thursday 9 February 2017

Bas Jan

Right at the moment, it takes something pretty special to prise my ears away from the fantastic Sacred Paws LP, which has been on constant rotation around these parts just lately. Serafina Steer, Sarah Anderson and Jenny Moore got my attention though. Together they are Bas Jan (named after the Dutch artist Bas Jan Ader) and their terrific new tune is 'No Sign'. Seriously - how great is this? (Buy it for a quid here)

Monday 6 February 2017

All That Jazz #2 - Calvin Keys

In his long career, guitarist Calvin Keys has played with many of the greats - Bobby Hutcherson, Ray Charles, Ahmad Jamal and Pharoah Sanders among them. Released in 1974, 'Proceed with Caution!' is his second LP as leader of his own band - and it's a spiritually funky affair. Check out the groovy 'Aunt Lovey', which particularly showcases the talents of Henry 'Skipper' Franklin on bass, Leon 'Ndugu' Chancler on drums and the electric keys of Kirk Lightsey.

Today is Calvin Keys' 74th birthday - many happy returns of the day sir.

Calvin Keys - Aunt Lovey

Friday 3 February 2017

Red Gold & Green #14 - Ronnie Davis

In addition to recording as a solo artist for such legendary producers as Bunny 'Striker' Lee and Phil Pratt, Ronnie Davis also worked as part of both The Itals and The Tennors vocal groups for over 40 years. My own favourite Ronnie Davis tune, 'Laugh It Off', was recorded at The Black Ark in 1977, with the mighty Lee 'Scratch' Perry behind the desk.

Ronnie Davis - Laugh It Off 

Sadly Ronnie suffered a massive stroke on January 23rd and died in hospital two days later, he was 66. He continued to tour and record up to the very end, with his final LP, 'Iyahcoustic', being released just six months ago. Here's the video for the beautiful 'I Won't Cry'. Check out the whole LP here.

Wednesday 1 February 2017

Serve & Obey

The mighty Zsa Zsa Sapien of Meatraffle. A photo taken by your humble author.

Firm favourites of this manor, Meatraffle are currently on the hunt for a label to distribute their new LP 'The 1917', pencilled in for a Summer release. Meantime, they've let slip 'Serve & Obey', which features a sublimely chosen 'Silly Games' sample, narration from Fat White Family's Patrick Lyons and the mournful horn of Zsa Zsa Sapien.

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