Wednesday, 20 March 2019

Album Review: Chelsea Wilson - Chasing Gold

Roughly 5 years ago Chelsea Wilson released her stellar debut album I Hope You'll Be Very Unhappy Without Me. The release of this album coincided with the beginning of my "career" (and I use this term VERY loosely) as a DJ playing tunes in local bars around Melbourne town. At the time, my collection of Vinyl records that you could dance to was very limited and I Hope You'll Be Very Unhappy Without Me had more than a few danceable tunes on it so I used it A LOT! At the risk of sounding like I am exaggerating, I lost count of the amount of times someone come up to me while spinning this record to ask "who is this?" If that isn't the sign of a quality release/artist I don't know what is.
Fast forward to 2019 and Chelsea's sophomore album Chasing Gold has finally been unleashed onto the world. Chasing Gold is a very different animal to I Hope You'll Be Very Unhappy Without Me which is immediately evident from the moment you hear the (sublime) Golden Age of Hollywood Movies style strings that introduce the album. While both albums are designed to get you shaking your booty on the dance floor Chasing Gold owes more to 70's Disco/Funk/Boogie than it's predecessor which was straight out Melbourne style Soul music. Over the years Disco has had more than it's fair share of critics and while some would say deservedly so, just as many would say the opposite. Listening to this album there's no doubt as to which side of the argument Chelsea is supporting as she unashamedly embraces the genre causing even the hardest Disco critic to reconsider their stance. The biggest compliment however that can be paid to this album is that it contains some of the finest examples of "songcraft"  (a term which gets bandied about far too frivolously for my money). The attention paid to the songwriting and arrangements of these 9 songs is evident and the results are there for all to see. I expect this album to garner many more "who is this?" comments from Melbourne pub goers once I finally get my paws on a copy. In the words of one reviewer on the website "Loving this! More please... a lot more!"
P.S. The addition of the song "Word Is Out" as a bonus track is the perfect homage to one of Chelsea's musical heroes Kylie Minogue and a great way to round out the album

Wednesday, 12 December 2018

Top 5 New discoveries of 2018

Ann Vriend is an artist with one hell of a set of pipes and some seriously catchy tunes. I found out about Ann while listening to the radio and heard her talking about her Australian shows. Her EP Anybodys Different was floating around PBS also so I grabbed myself a copy and was hooked.
Her tunes range from Pop to Soul to Gospel to Jazz to Reggae and more and goddam are they catchy!
Here's her song Real Love which I heard on the radio and instantly made me sit up and take notice.

The Hypnomen hail from Helsinki in Finland a country whose music scene is well worth looking into! The sound of this band is essentially Psych Rock/Pop but with Latin and Afrobeat elements on occassion. When I stumbled across them I knew I had to play one of their tunes on the radio but which one?! They're all pretty freaking awesome! Is was a tough decision but in the end I went with this one:
P.S. Even Heather of The Psych Ward liked them enough to play them on the radio that's how good they are!

Frank Sultana is a Sydney based Blues man but he is no stranger to Melbourne town. He makes the sojourn south of the border at least once a year to make an appearance at the regular Blues Roulette night at The Catfish and I finally managed to catch one of him playing this year and I will most certainly be keeping an eye out for his next visit south. Here is a video of him doing his thang:

Grainne Duffy is a Blues Singer/Guitarist of the highest order. The highest compliment I can pay her is that she has SOUL. The tunes are catchy, her guitar playing is flashy where it needs to be, chugs along nicely when needed and her slide playing is just... wow! Add to all this that her vocals have an almost whisky soaked southern USA drawl to them despite the fact that she hails from a small town in the North of Ireland and you have all the perfect ingredients for a blues player.
Discovered due to the fact that she was touring through Europe with another favourite Blues act Thorbjorn Risager And The Black Tornado (a 2017 top 10 inclusion) I figured if she has the tick of approval from these guys she must be good and I was not wrong. If only that double bill would head down to OZ! Song no. 1 from her live album, the 1st song of hers i heard

Grey River & The Smoky Mountain were recommended by good friend Mickey Pantelous who also happens to be a great bluesman. Bluesgrass, Americana, Sea Shanties is the labels which are probably most fitting labels for this band . They released their first full length album Captain Death late in 2017 and it is brilliant! If they weren't recommended to me I would likely not have discovered them as I usually am averse to anything labelled Bluesgrass so this was a pleasant surprise. And what a great album cover!
Song no. 1 from their most recent release which is the 1st song of theirs I heard

Top 4 EP's of 2018

Child - I
It's Child doing what Child do best and that 's all that really needs to be said. But just in case you are not familiar with what Child do: they bring heavy psychedelic drawn out slow blues jams and have been doing so for a few years now.
Everything they have released to date is awesome and this 3 track EP simply titled I is no different. 2 original tunes and one cover of The Other Song from the band Spirit (yes that Spirit) that, while it doesn't stray too much from the original version still has a distinctly Child spin to it.
As for the remaining 2 songs, Going Down Swinging is the obligatory lengthier tune which you could see turning into a 30+ minute jam on stage and Age Has Left Me Behind is a surprisingly short and to the point tune that still has those Blues lead lines from Singer/Guitarist Mathias while the rhythm section of Michael and Danny keep the train steady on the tracks. Other quality release from this band as we have come to expect.

Clockwork Wolf & Co. -
In The Sunshine

So apparently some of the members of this band
Clockwork Wolf & Co. are quite well known. Personally though I didn't know the name or work of any of these fellows previous to this. Discovered on the website while looking for new tunes they're labelled as Blues Rock hailing from Brighton, England. I like Blues Rock and I like British Blues Rock even more... the cover looks kinda cool also so... Well shite goddam these are some tasty tunes! Similar in style to Child but less on the psych side and more just slower paced Blues Rock tunes in the classic British Blues style this is a band briging much excitement to the ears of this radio show host.

Loving Jane - Cinematic
4 songs clocking in at a little under 30 minutes composed, produced, performed by Thanos of Out Of The Earth and Hazy Blue Something. Cinematic is the name of this release which is simple and to the point. It's kinda background music but not in a bad way, it's atmospheric but in a Paris, Texas kind of way.
A soundtrack to an imaginary film, this is chill out music in a non Cafe Del Mar kind of way (thank the gods for that!).
A great little release that slipped out with very little fanfare, there is much to be enjoyed in the simplicity of this one.

Room Six Eleven are a straight ahead feel good soul/funk band with only this one little EP to their credit so far. This EP makes it onto this "Best Of" list on the strength of the tune Bad Times which cannot get enough of.

That's not to say the rest of the EP is not any good, far from it in fact (despite the Rap/Hip-Hop vocals on the intro tune Big Bad Wolf) This band is TIGHT with funky Organ, Horns adding colour where needed and distorted guitar riffs which gives these tunes some added rock credibility. As solid a debut as any I have heard.

OK I'm cheating slightly with this one seeing as this

Sunday, 9 December 2018

Top 10 full length releases of 2018

Altın Gün - On
Altin Gun released their first single from the album On back in mid 2017 as a bit a teaser. To say it whetted my appetite and made me eager to hear more from them would be quite the understatement.
In early 2018 the full length album dropped and it was everything I was hoping it would be. Mixing traditional sounds from Turkey together with psych, funk and afrobeat elements (amongst other things) this album is a whole lot of fun.
From the opening Drums beats of the lead track Tatli Dile Guler Yuze which lead into a great psychedelic Saz riff which repeats throughout the song to the Bass and Cowbell beats of the album closer Seker Oglan  (the only lengthier tune of the set) this album is designed to get your foot tapping and get you singing along, even if you have no idea what the lyrics are because it's all sung in Turkish, and I would say it succeeds in achieving this goal in spades. Bring on album number 2!
P.S. Big thanks to Heather of The Psych Ward for putting me onto them

The Putbacks - The Putbacks
The funk/soul music scene in Melbourne is thriving and has been for a number of years now. There is no shortage of bands and artists in the scene and while the calibre of most is of the highest order it can be difficult to stand out in the crowd.
The Putbacks however, have no such problem. While they have been around for a number of years now, this is their first full length non-collaborative release.
The thing that makes this band stand out (aside from their musicianship) is the cinematic elements that come through in their music. This album (simply titled The Putbacks) could easily be the soundtrack to some kind of 60's James Bond-esque spy thriller. Trying to imagine the storyline to this imaginary movie while listening to this record is half the fun!
P.S. They're also a freaking awesome live band. Check out this rendition of their song Kung Fu Pyramids from their album launch earlier in the year for proof.

Nathan Beretta - Where I Belong
Nathan Beretta is a man whose blues guitar stylings are some of best around Melbourne town, and even though at times he sounds a little too Stevie Ray Vaughan-ish it's more a case of wearing his influences unashamedly on his sleeve rather than trying to clone a particular sound. One of the founding members of the award winning Blues Eyes Cry Nathan has struck out on his own and released the aptly titled Where I Belong.
This album is simply infectious! It boogies, shuffles and grooves in all the right ways and in all the right places. Unsurprisingly the guitar playing on this release is a big focus is front and centre in the mix, but what is perhaps surprising is the quality of the Vocals. While it's unlikely you will see Nathan on any TV singing competitions in the near future, he has a distinct singing voice which he uses to great effect on this album.
While I have thoroughly enjoyed the 2 releases by Blues Eyes Cry to date with the smoking Vocals of Isuela, who would probably be in with more than a fighting chance of winning any singing competition she was to enter, if this is what we can expect from Nathan Beretta solo releases I look forward to hearing the next one.

Naxatras -III
Naxatras hail from Thessaloniki, Greece. They play heavy instrumental rock music inspired by all the classic rock bands of the 70's that rock music aficionados love and they do it very well.
In a similar way to how the soul music scene in Melbourne is going from strength to strength the Stoner/Psych/Desert Rock scene in Greece is perhaps one of the strongest in Europe.
The 7 songs on this Album have a total running time of 60+ minutes meaning you can expect to hear some extended fuzz laden riffs of epic proportions. Simply titled III this release should be used as the measuring stick for all other bands playing this style of music.
P.S. While you're looking into this release check out the live album from their launch gig in Athens.

Universal Hippies - Evolution Of Karma
Universal Hippies are another instrumental Psych/Stoner band from Greece, this time from the small city of Kavala.
While this band still falls comfortably under the Stoner/Psych banner their music is somewhat more atmospheric than their counterparts. Heavy riffs still abound on the sophomore release Evolution Of Karma but there are a few more mellower moments which allow the lead guitar work of Stavros Papadopoulos to shine through.
This album will appeal to stalwart fans of the genre but will likely appeal just as much to fans of instrumental lead guitarists such as Joe Satriani and Steve Vai. If you are looking for a rock album with plenty of heavy riffs but also fantastic melodic lead guitar work then look no further than this album. P.S. Thanks to Steve of Fret Net for introducing me to their music.

Saturday, 1 September 2018

Album Review: Grey River & The Smoky Mountain - Captain Death

Grey River & The Smoky Mountain 
Well, well, well what do we have here? A bluesgrass/folk band out of Greece? OK I'll bite, let me hit the play button and see what they have to offer.
Now let me say that when I hear a bands sound described as Bluesgrass or Country I will usually run away screaming but this band was recommended by a friend whose taste in music I trust.
Captain Death is the first full length release by Grey River & The Smoky Mountain and it's a doozy! The album starts off with the sea shanty/Rum Swilling stylings of the title track Captain Death which will instantly have you swaying to it's rhythm just as if you were walking the deck of a pirate ship on the high seas. The song perfectly sets the tone for the rest of the album which is made up of 10 infectious bluegrass/americana tunes with choruses that you will be singing long after the 10 songs have finished and which may even inspire you to take up line dancing (you have been warned!).
While the album certainly doesn't have any low points the highlights for this listener are most definitely the songs which lean more towards the Sea Shanty style as opposed to the more straight forward country/bluesgrass style.
The Vocals of Rena Papageorgiou are nothing short of sweet nectar, while the contrasting voice of Sarantos Goumakos will at times bring to mind Nick Cave (especially on The King And The Crow which has a distinct Where the Wild Roses Grow feel to it).
Tasos Gousetis and Thanasis Giouleas round out the band line up on Fiddle & Double Bass to bring a sound that you you would swear has been created somewhere in America's deep south it sounds so authentic.
If you are a fan of the Bluesgrass/Americana genre you could most certainly do a lot worse than checking out this band and if (like me) you are not necessarily a fan of the genre... well... check out this band anyway, you may just be pleasantly surprised.
P.S. Credit also has to be given to the guest musicians on this recording who add some colour not heard on the debut EP and also the fantastic artwork of Jon Toussas which makes this record stand out on a record store shelf.

Sunday, 31 December 2017

Top 5 new discoveries of 2017

I've already listed my top 10 releases for the year here but now it's time to mention those Artists who either didn't release anything in 2017 or their releases didn't quite make my top 10 list but who still impressed me.
Without further ado and in no particular order here are my Top 5 new discoveries for 2017.

Ibrahim Maalouf is a trumpeter born in Beirut, Lebanon and living in France. He has been recording for other artists since the early naughties but released his 1st solo album in the mid naughties. His name is very well known in France and somewhat well known outside of France. Playing primarily Jazz and Funk his music will transport you or make you want to get up and shake your money maker.
This collaboration with Rapper Oxmo Puccino is the song that introduced me to his music. Thanks to my good friend Alex P. for putting it on in class earlier in the year. 

Electro Deluxe are another French band who were once again introduced to me by friend Alex P. (thanks for sending the link through buddy) Funk, Soul, Big Band, Nu Jazz call their music what you want but personally I call it happy music made for dancing, I'm sure you'll agree. Here's the song that introduced me to them:

Kelly Auty  is a name many Australian music fans will already be familiar with and while I had heard her name been mentioned by many people in the past it wasn't until a few months ago when I got my hands on her latest release simply titled Live 2016 that I heard her sing and what a voice she has been gifted with! Not only can she sing but her delivery has a swagger to it that is infectious. I have yet to see her perform live but I am hoping to remedy that in the not too distant future. Here is the lead song from her Live 2016 album which introduced me to her. 

With a name like Afrodyssey Orchestra it's not difficult to guess the style of music these guys play. This being said, while the Afrobeat elements are most certainly there this music is not straight out Afrobeat and incorporates various elements from the Jazz and World genres also which is perhaps what makes me like it so much. Hailing from Athens, Greece these guys are further evidence of the thriving music scene in Greece that is only getting better. Here is an interpretation of a well known traditional folk tune from Greece which is how I came to know of this band.

Los Petit Fellas hail from Bogotá, Colombia and are very similar in style to Electro Deluxe who I mentioned earlier. The Rap elements of the music for my personal tastes can sometimes be a bit much (just like with Electro Deluxe) but the instrumentation is drawing on classic funk which is right up my alley. Once again this is happy music made for dancing and I need to thank another friend of mine Mariana for putting me onto these guys. Here is the song that lead me to discovering this band:

Saturday, 30 December 2017

Top 10 full length releases of 2017

Thorbjorn Risager & The Black Tornado
Change My Game

Released in early 2017 Thorbjorn Risager & Co. are one of the best Blues/Rock bands going around at the moment & are finally starting to get the recognition they're due. This album is the perfect mix of Guitar driven Blues Rock, Soul and Country. If you do not know this band track them down and everything they have released to date you will not be disappointed. They even won a Best Band award in this year's European Blues Awards

Tuber - Out Of The Blue
The band that introduced me to the "Stoner" genre Tuber released their 3rd full length album this year Out Of The Blue and it's everything I could have hoped it would be and more. For this album they have added some electronic elements and also stepped up their songwriting. It's a step up and beyond from where they were at with their last release Desert Overcrowded. Quite possibly my favourite instrumental band ever.

Petros Klampanis - Chroma
Petros Klampanis has come a long way since his 1st solo outing in 2011 Contextual. Chroma (meaning colour in Greek) further expands on the cinematic style of composition that Petros has been developing. The music on this release could be the Soundtrack to a movie that includes chases, nature and romance elements. The players that Petros has surrounded himself with on this release also deserve high praise as they are fantastic composers in their own right.
If this is what we can expect from Petros in the future then I am very much looking forward to what he comes up with next.

The Ivory Elephant - Number 1 Pop Hit

The Ivory Elephant are the "other" band of band leader Trent Sterling who is also the brainchild and driving force behind one of Melbourne's favourite afrobeat bands The Seven Ups.
A 3 piece Psych/Blues/Rock outfit that should be getting a lot more attention than what they currently are in my oh so humble opinion. This is their 1st full length release and is being distributed worldwide by the Kozmik Artifactz label who have also released albums by another Melbourne Psych Blues outfit Child if you are a fan of heavy blues psychedelia and are not familiar with this band then you should remedy this immediately.

OOLLUU - Deep Six
OOLLOU's music is very hard to pigeonhole/label. It has elements of Rock, Electronic, Prog and Retro Dance. Whatever label you choose to hang onto their music the one thing that is certain is that it will make you sit up and take notice as soon as you hear it.
Do not miss the chance to catch these guys live, their performances are a sight to behold

Electric Moon - Stardust Rituals

More overly long, self indulgent, psychedelic choonage here by a band who does it extremely well. Electric Moon are a band I only discovered this year thanks to fellow PBS-ian Chris Pearson who hosts Pojama People and who has been pushing their music onto an unsuspecting radio audience since he 1st started.
I may be slightly late to catch on but I have now caught on and am loving this band. The music presented on their latest release Startdust Rituals (and in fact on every other release of theirs) is about as far removed from your usual FM radio friendly pop music as you can possibly get and is probably best listened to in an altered state of mind

Banda Magda - Tigre
I absolutely love everything about this album. Clocking in at only around 35 minutes Banda Magda have released an album full of lush orchestration with Latin rhythms and Classic 60's era movie soundtrack like qualities.
None of the songs are sung in English but far from making the listening experience difficult I would say this just endears the music to the listener even further. Tigre is quite possibly the best world music release of 2017. 


My Dynamite - Otherside
Melbourne's very own version of The Black Crowes My Dynamite released their 2nd full length release this year roughly 5 years after they released their debut and it is everything you can expect. Catchy melodies, strutting choruses and more.
Immediately after the release of the album and the big launch show at Melbourne's Rock N Roll institution The Cherry Bar the band went on hiatus! Here's hoping the hiatus does not last too much longer and that they start playing shows again in the not too distant future.

The Teskey Brothers - Half Mile Harvest
The Teskey Brothers debut release Half Mile Harvest has been earning the band kudos from all over the country and with good reason. This album is a perfectly crafted Soul, Country, Blues record that is an absolute delight to listen to. They have been playing sold out shows all over the country in venues that international artists who visit our shores have struggled to half fill and their popularity shows no signs of slowing down.
Now that they have conquered Australia it's time for them to take on the rest of the world. UP THE TESKEY'S!

Samantha Fish - Belle Of The West & Chills and Fever

OK so I'm cheating somewhat with this one. Samantha Fish released 2 albums this year and each one is brilliant and unique. While Chills & Fever is essentially a feel good soul record Belle Of The West sees Samantha collaborating with Luther Dickinson of North Mississippi Allstars fame and has a definite hill country blues feel to it and she sounds right at home in both styles. See what all the buzz is about and track down either one or both of these releases and you will see that the praise that everyone has been heaping on Samantha is extremely well deserved. 

Monday, 6 November 2017

OOLLUU live @ Bar Open 4th Nov 2017

I’ve seen many a live show since my last live review many moons ago and while there have been some great shows none have inspired me to put pen to paper (metaphorically speaking) so I can tell the everyone willing to listen about what I witnessed.
There were 4 acts in total on the bill this night but I was there to see one & one only and that was OOLLUU. I had seen these guys once before opening for another great act Glasfrosch and was thoroughly impressed but that was a mighty long tome ago. Were they really as good as I remember…? Would they live up to my expectations…? Well to say that my memory served me correct and that they lived up to my expectations would be an understatement. They were ginormagantuanly, fantasmagorically amaze balls!
OOLLUU play a style of music that I really don’t know how to describe. It’s electronic, but it’s heavy. It’s rock music, but there’s no guitar. It’s intense, but it’s poppy and danceable. There’s many contradictory elements in their music and things that probably shouldn’t fit together that somehow seem to blend wonderfully well and create a soundscape that will leave you on a euphoric high once it’s over.
Playing to a crowd of roughly 50 people on a “stage” that barely fit the band on it the performance these guys put on was a thing to behold. Stage right was Bassist Davarj who in his mind I’m sure was playing to a sold out crowd at Wembley Stadium or Madison Square Garden. Stage left you have Ehsan on Synths (“fluent in 3 languages… Linux, IOS and Windows”) who while is somewhat restricted in movement was no less a giving it his all. The interaction between these 2 “frontmen” of the band was fantastic and a joy to watch. The smiles on their faces as they were playing evidence of just how much they were enjoying themselves. Lastly, hidden from view slightly was Drummer Ben Crook who was driving the band like his life depended on it.
Sure there were a couple of little mistakes, but the crowd most certainly didn’t mind (or probably even notice) and I’m sure these guys gained a few more fans on the night. 

There were 2 more bands on after OOLLUU and while I’m sure they put on admirable performances I didn’t stick around.

Saturday, 16 September 2017

Album Review: Banda Magda - Tigre

Banda Magda are a band whose sound is very hard to pigeonhole. The band is made up of musicians from the world over and their music ranges from sounding a little bit Jazz, a little bit Psych, a little bit Chanson Pop, a little bit Latin and many other things besides. However, perhaps the best word to describe their music is simply this: Brilliant!
They have just released their 3rd album called Tigre which has been 3 years in the making. Tigre is an eclectic release full of worldly sounds and rhythms which is pure ear candy and an absolute delight to listen to.
The lyrics are mostly in French & Greek (none are in English but don’t let that deter you) the songs are catchy, the orchestration throughout the album is sublime and the production is fantastic also. At times the sound is like something from a 60’s romance movie soundtrack, while at other times you'll want to get up and dance to the Tango & Bossa-Nova rhythms while the final song on the album Diamandi (meaning Diamond in Greek) even has a slight Massive Attack type of feel to it. This band seems to be going from strength to strength with each release. If you want to hear something slightly different to what you hear on mainstream radio and perhaps challenge your ears somewhat, then this album comes highly recommended. Without a doubt one of the best releases of 2017 so far.

Sunday, 27 August 2017

Single Review: Altin Gün - Goca Dünya/Kırşehir'in Gülleri

Oh hells yes, these 2 songs are the definition of psychedelic pop bliss!
Sung in Turkish I couldn’t tell you what the lyrics are saying but it really doesn’t matter.
The A Side of this Single Goca Dünya starts off with a very Pink Floyd sounding bassline before bringing in the sounds of shakers shortly after. The staccato guitar riff with the drums (and added handclaps) kick in next and we’re off on one hell of a rollicking ride.
This is a song designed to get you out of your seat and dancing and it achieves it’s intended outcome perfectly. This is the 1st single by this band hailing from Amsterdam, Netherlands and if this is any indication of what the output from this band is going to be like in future you can bet your bottom dollar I’ll be amongst the 1st people to be reaching for my wallet.
The B-Side to this tune is the equally brilliant Kırşehir'in Gülleri which has kicks things off with a great saz riff before pausing to allow for some dreamy psych vocal riffage. The song the snakes it’s way slowly back into the main surf psych saz riff again and so it goes for the rest of the song. While some of these sounds may be somewhat new or unfamiliar to some people these 2 songs are far from a difficult listen, quite the opposite in fact this is easily accessible ear candy for anybody who willing to listen.
The 500 Vinyl copies which were available on have already sold out and these guys seem to be getting some well deserved attention on Amsterdam radio. Now if only I could find a reasonable priced copy of the 7 inch vinyl single!

Bandcamp link avaiable here

Big thanks to fellow PBS-ian Heather for introducing me to them via her (somewhat regular) show The Psych Ward and expect to hear another fellow PBS-ian Adriana either play it on her show or when she is DJ-ing around town in the not too distant future