Sunday, 18 December 2011

Six ‘Shout Outs’ for Friends

No, I'm not making six appeals for people to be my friends! Behave! But, in keeping with the trend of the blog this week, here are six links to stuff friends have going on, some space rock related and some entirely divorced from the subject...

There's a plethora of music updated to Louise Bialik's Reverbnation page, as Louise has mentioned in her Facebook status today; I've only had a chance to scratch the surface of what's been made available here and plan to listen properly over the Christmas break but there are fifty songs posted including collaborations with Simon House under the Dark Chemistry name, recordings made with LM Potts as Loulees, collaborations with Jack Brewer, tracks by 17 Pigmies, Savage Republic and more in a whole range of styles. Go exploring!

One Eyed Wayne, featuring former Jamie Wednesday drummer Dean Leggett, have a Soundcloud page with five demo tracks. "We perform as an acoustic band with guitars, mandolin, melodica and cajon as the backing to the very different vocal styles of three and a half vocalists. Music that has a tale to tell, from serial killers to lovelorn drunken wretches, carried along by an awesome rhythm section. Enjoy the music, tell your mates to have a listen and come see us play," they say. I remember Jamie Wednesday best for their rip-roaring cover of 'White Horses' on their 12" 'Vote For Love' single back in the mid-80s, but they were also the band that, on splitting, spawned Carter The Unstoppable Sex Machine wherein Wednesday members Jim Morrison and Les Carter became Jim Bob and Fruitbat. Great collection of initial songs here, sort of indie rock meets Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros meets The Pogues via The June Brides ... sort of ... and I see they've been playing some gigs in London so hopefully we'll hear a lot more about Dean's current band in 2012!

A quick mention for a blog that I read religiously, Keith Topping's From The North, which isn't music-related per se, though Keith does include a judicious choice of 45rpm vinyl in each posting; what it actually is, it's principally a television news and criticism blog that focuses on UK and US television with an eye on the politics of broadcasting and a withering take on where Keith sees the medium falling short (for the key joke in his coverage on Dancing on Ice under the title of Twatting About on Ice he does owe me a fiver ... though for his editing skills on Sonic Assassins I owe him so much more). In-depth, regularly updated, always informative, sometimes infuriating but always a must in the RSS feed of anyone who loves television. Keith is doing a 'Twenty Two Days of Christmas" sequence!

Anthony Thistlethwaite, saxophonist and bassist formerly of The Waterboys and now of the equally wonderful Saw Doctors has made his own solo catalogue available to purchase for download via iTunes, there's a link on his Facebook community page and includes a 'best of compilation', his Cartwheels, Crawfish & Caviar and Aesop Wrote A Fable records and a release which I don't think has been available before, Stinky Fingers, which is of some recordings 'Anto' made with his musical hero Mick Taylor.

My old school mate Francis Braithwaite who, tenuous space rock connection, I believe I last saw in person at Hawkwind's 1982 CND benefit at St Austell Cornwall Coliseum, plays drums in a London-based garage punk band called The Stabilisers who have a MySpace Page which features their boisterous 'I Feel Like Jimmy White', the lo-fi sci-fi 'Robot Doctor' and, hey it's nearly Christmas after all, a joyfully disrespectful cover of 'Stop the Cavalry'.

And finally, in my 9-to-5 life there was passed to me from the next office a copy of a long-awaited new CD from Craig Eason who is stepping outside of his beloved Southern Rock with his latest recordings, Endangered Clichés. Here's what I've written as a PR sheet for this really very good collection of songs, some of which are available to listen to on his Myspace:

"Cornwall-based guitarist, song-writer and band-leader Craig Eason has been playing his Southern / Country / Blues / Rock music for over twenty years and across numerous bands, some of which will be very familiar to West Country gig-goers and others that he'll confess had a shorter lifespan! Hot & Nasty, Dakota, Forbidden Fruit, Booze Band, Arizona, Blind Alley Blues Band, Eason / Thomas Project...

This, though, is Craig in the studio with an impressive collection of talented collaborators and fifteen new tracks that run the gamut of his musical interests. Yes, here's his life-long love of Southern Rock, but here's also the evidence of a wide-ranging taste and of Eason's dexterity in crossing genres because, as his writing elegantly expresses in the highly personal ballad 'Half A Life', the joy is in the music itself.

That's not to say that Craig Eason takes himself or his music too seriously though! We've got the glorious sights, smells, and sounds of the Mexican fiestas on 'Pajero Preludo' and 'Pajero Estupido' (Carlos Santana would recognise a little of his influence seeping in to these life-affirming opening salvos). We've got 'Last Gig In The Void', which manages to be a tribute to Pink Floyd and segue into a roaring Black Sabbath rock-out. And, appropriately enough given that this album was recorded in Cornwall, there's the acoustic 'Sunny Day', built on some open 'slack key' tunings, which both celebrates the joys of the sun and bemoans the desolation of its inevitable disappearance.

We have to mention the album's glorious centrepiece, 'Sinstrumental', where Eason takes his admiration for The Allman Brothers Band, specifically the melodic guitar of Dickey Betts, and, with all the lead parts recorded in a studio jamming session, produces an instrumental of breath-taking craftsmanship. Let's also take in the radio-friendly 'Would You Miss Me', with Helen Evans' gracefully wistful vocals the emotional heart of this melancholic acoustic / country musing.

But, really, all is here. The let-loose slide-guitar bar room rock of 'Serious Drinking Night Cap' and 'Serious Drinking Night', traditional country tune and charm of 'Here In My Heart', Eason's musical adaption of Robert Browning's dramatic romance 'Mesmerism', and the jazzy instrumental 'Kind of Weird' where every single contributor to the album gets his or her moment to shine. So, we've got an album that touches many bases – always with the same deft touch and a consistency of vision. A real melting pot of themes and styles but absolutely delivered in such a slick and stylish manner that the flow of influences is smooth and rewarding. No clichés here, just a totally engaging listen."

Right, perhaps we'll get back to some reviews tomorrow ... but not seven in one post I fear!

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