Plastic Mermaids // Album Review // Suddenly Everyone Explodes

Single, EP and Album Reviews, Uncategorized
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‘Suddenly Everyone Explodes’
Released 24th May 2019
Sunday Best Recordings

‘Suddenly Everyone Explodes’ completely caught me off guard – never, has the term genre-bending, been more aptly alined.

This debut album from the Isle of Wight based five-piece is sure to bring many a new ear to the party. To be frank, we are at odds as to how their (three) EPs missed our radar.

Unhinged and enamoured from start to journeys end, your thirst for outlandish, left field pop will be quenched.

Plastic Mermaids combine space-rock, orchestral-pop, psychedelia and spoken word with aplomb.

Framing the dichotomy between awe and fear of our modern/digital age through the euphony of spacey electronics, operatic strings, choir choruses and socially conscious lyrics.

Unquestionably ‘Yoyo’ is the highlight track because of it’s poetry; pensive lines and overlapping metaphors challenge perceptions of life and death. Perhaps the poignancy is enhanced by the fact it’s vocally very different from the rest of the album, and is mostly spoken word, accompanied by rising choir choruses.

But seriously, who would of considered drawing on the perspective of a personified yoyo, never mind one who challenges cosmic mysteries? Songwriting stardust right there.

The eponymous yoyo cannot not be ignored – we must “free ourselves and just let go of everything…(and live a little) let’s smash into the floor and explode like a Jackson Pollock…I wish we could do this everyday, but it seems, at least for now, that death is a one way journey.” And suddenly, everyone explodes!

Suddenly Everyone Explodes is out 24 May 2019 via Sunday Best Recordings

Follow Plastic Mermaids on: Facebook // Twitter // Instagram

Words: Rachael Crabtree (@eccentric_eejit)

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Durand Jones and the Indications Interview

Interviews, Uncategorized

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“We’re not the type of people to say “all artists have a duty to write political music.” We just write about the things that are important to us.”

We caught up with Indiana-based soul artists, Durand Jones and the Indications, to get to the heart of their music and it’s power to connect with such a diverse amount of people worldwide.

Premiering new songs of their latest album: ‘American Love Call’ the other week, at Dingwalls, Camden, their sentiments resonated with the crowds; the album itself is very much a love letter to life and an expression of how people are feeling right now – their deep lyrics feed the soul.

Elizabeth: Firstly, take us back to the start of the band and where you all met?

Durand: This project got together in the autumn of 2012. I was working with the IU Soul Review as a graduate assistant. Soul Review is a class students can audition for. The ones who get in learn about and play soul music. I taught the horn section, wrote horn charts, and arranged horns parts. I was asked to sing for the class as well since this year was short on guys. They knew I sang with bands back in Louisiana, and since it was my job I reluctantly said yes. The particular category of study this semester was Motown. I sang backgrounds on some Temptations stuff, and had a solo on a Marvin Gaye and Tammy Terrell duet— ‘For Your Precious Love.’ That’s how I met Blake Rhein who gave me Charles Bradley’s ‘No Time For Dreaming’ on CD one day after class. In that way he established a friendship with me and invited me to hang with him to sing on a tune he was writing. The tune became ‘Givin Up’. He then introduced me to Aaron Frazer. And we all began writing together. We started to hang and listen to records as well. They introduced me to a band that they played in called Charlie Patton’s War. They were a rowdy rock and roll band and the first time I played with these guys was in a basement to Otis Redding’s ‘Dock of the Bay’ at party in a basement. That was the start!

E: Durand, you mentioned you were from a small town, in what ways has coming from a small town impacted you?

I’m from a very rural part of Louisiana. A place called Hillaryville, Louisiana. Coming from a rural area I got to explore for miles in the woods, go fishing and swimming in the Mississippi River and learn a traditional style of singing that isn’t practiced much anymore in the Baptist church. Our parents forced us to be outside and wouldn’t let us back in until the sun was going down. That is how I discovered my love and need for nature. In the country things are still so all of your senses and emotions are heightened. Moving to Bloomington was a wake up call. I didn’t realise how poor I grew up until I moved up there, or how country I was. I recently moved back to Hillaryville after doing stints in Chicago and NYC and I must say it truly feels like a completely different world between Hillaryville and those places. I love the country life and it’s where I want to be for the rest of my life.

Aaron, when we met at your Dingwalls show, you mentioned you played in a punk band. How did you find the transition in going from punk to soul?

Haha, well more punk-blues than straight up “punk”. Before we met Durand, 3/4 of The Indications had been in our own rock n roll band called Charlie Patton’s War. We had a reputation for putting on super rowdy performances; Blake used to stand on top of my kick drum etc. We played a ton of shows over 3 years – mostly house shows and dive bars. But that meant that when we met Durand, the band was already tight. The soul and rock artists we enjoy are ones that celebrate passion and prize grittiness.

Durand Jones 2; Elizabeth Andrade

Durrand Jones and the Indications owning that stage at Dingwalls, Camden

And at what point did you all realise you guys had something special as Durand Jones and the Indications? – Do you guys still play in other bands?

Blake: Last year when we played the Troubadour in L.A., the whole room sang every word to  “Is It Any Wonder,” which was completely surreal. People we’re even singing along to “True Love,” which at that point only existed live demo on YouTube.

Aaron put out a really great 45 under the name The Flying Stars of Brooklyn. That band featured Eli “Paperboy” Reed and they are amazing live. They play a fundraising show once or twice a year, so if you’re in NY keep your eyes peeled.

You all have such amazing energy on stage. I remember the first time seeing you play (at the Lexington, London) and was blown away by your energy and humbleness. You guys put so much energy into each show. How do you consistently maintain this? 

Durand: A lot of it comes down to touring smartly. We don’t drink or smoke much and try to eat right. There’s so much music out there, and so many touring artists, that when people decide to pay attention to what you’re doing, you better return the favour and give them your all on wax on stage.

How do you find touring? How was last years 10 week tour – any crazy stories to share with us? 

Blake: I had a hard time with being on the road for long periods of time at first. I love having my own space to be creative, draw, and paint. That’s basically impossible on the road. But I’ve found my ways to stay happy and healthy on the road and I’ve really come to enjoy it.

One of my favourite stories was from Kansas City last year. After the gig, we all ended up at the same little jazz club down the street from the venue. Most of us were at a table in the back and there was a little quartet in the front playing standards. Out of nowhere comes a wild-as-hell trumpet solo, and sure enough it Kiinch, who was touring with us at the time. The crowd was way into it, but the house band, who were undoubtedly upstaged, were not.

At Dingwalls the other week, we really loved the bands matching shirts, reminds us of the soul bands. We were also admiring how there was a real diverse mix of people and ages. Soul music is what brought them there, you have really connected to people. Tell us more about the support coming through as of late?

Blake: Early on, we had a small coalition of fans who came from the record collecting community. That group along with the independent record stores clerks that were recommending the record were crucial in getting us off the ground. But the more we’ve toured around, we’re meeting all different types of music fans. We’ve met some fans who love live music more than anything and will come see us multiple times over the course of a week on tour. We’ve met fans who are totally new to collecting soul 45s who probably bought their first single at our merch table. One of the most rewarding group of fans we’ve connected with is the lowrider community throughout southern California. A lot of these folks have been listening to this style of music for 50 years. They’ve been incredibly enthusiastic and supportive about what we’re doing.

Durand Jones 3; Elizabeth Andrade

Framing the moment after their sold-out in-store gig and album launch at Rough Trade, East

Congratulations on the new album: ‘American Love Call’ – it feels like a love letter or expression of your feelings to America. Tell us more about the dynamics in writing and  sharing vocals.

Durand: Everyone writes and brings ideas to the table when it comes to the songwriting. Sharing the vocals is something that reminds us of all of the vocal groups that we have come to love. With the resurgence of this style of soul music, many bands call upon high power shouting soul singers but no one has embraced the musings of someone like Eddie Kendricks or Damon Harris, and Aaron has filled that void I believe. He gives us a unique and refreshing dynamic to the group. Although I’m not doing much soul shouting anymore, it’s a nice contrast between us two.

I’m loving the political commentary on your songs. It really connects to what people are going through. I heard what you said at Rough Trade East, that 78% of Americans are living from pay check to pay check. It kind of reminds us of Charles Bradley ‘World is Going Up in Flames’ and Aloe Blacc ‘I Need a Dollar. It feels like you are following on from them but doing it in your own way. 

Aaron: It’s a crazy statistic, but it’s true. We’re not the type of people to say “all artists have a duty to write political music.” We just write about the things that are important to us. And among those things is the idea of intersectionality. Racial identity is at the forefront of the political conversation, and that’s essential! But only focusing on that leaves out the things that unite us. And a big uniting force is class. We can acknowledge what makes us different while working together to improve conditions for poor people, regardless of their colour.

We spotted that you raffled one of your records for The Poor Peoples Campaign – can you tell us more about your involvement in this movement?

Aaron: I learned about the Poor People’s Campaign last year, and it verbalised so many things I’d been feeling. It’s a non-partisan movement created by Martin Luther King Jr. that revolves around uniting people across racial lines to address issues of economic, racial and environmental inequality. I’ve been trying to organise shows and fundraisers like this to raise money for the organisation because I believe this movement could be the source of hope and positivity so many people are searching for.

Follow Durand Jones and the Indications on: Twitter // Facebook  // Instagram

Words and photos: Elizabeth Andrade (@LizzyyEA)

Mark O’Reilly L’Etre Politique Album Review

Single, EP and Album Reviews, Uncategorized
Marc O'Reilly Band; Kirsty Burge Photography

Marc O’Reilly pictured with his band; Photo Credit: Kirsty Burge Photography

Marc O’Reilly is an artist that cannot be defined simply as folk or blues, but instead teases elements of both, achieving optimal emotional depth that is unwinding and stirring. He understands his power behind those versatile vocals and in his wake, balancing and challenging genres. And between the trio’s synchronised drums, keys and guitars, they maintain off the scale rhythms and impeccable timings. The standout guitar solos of Walk With Me and Be Alive almost rival the folk elements.

Yet when those folk elements arrive mid-way, it’s exquisite – the unwinding, acoustics  of Fire with its sweeping strings and echoing vocals provides momentary calm. Think White Denim at their most pared back on ‘Corsicana Lemonade’ with echoes of Nick Drake’s instrumentals on River Man (‘Five Leaves Left’).

The lighter, huskier, James Vincent McMorrow-esque vocals and barely there instrumentals of Solitary Ease and Walk With Me are absolutely sublime – we reckon a collaboration between the pair is long overdue.

On this record there are more contemporary parallels with American/Canadian artists to be drawn and it’s the sharp timings and garage-rock leanings of Quiet Place which give warm echoes of Jesse Mac Cormack. While it is Walk With Me that takes centre stage, channelling the Americana-Psychedelia of White Denim.

This fourth album: ‘L’Etre Politique’ is inspired (as it’s title hints) by the politics of human interactions and of being; capitalism, war and globalisation. The album opener: Enemy Of and the epic closer: Shadows are equally full bodied explosions of guitar and drums encasing a solid record, that frames O’Reilly at his finest.

L’Etre Politique is out now via Dox Records!

Marc O'Reilly L'Etre Politique; Album Artwork

Follow Marc O’Reilly on: SPOTIFY // TWITTER // FACEBOOK // INSTAGRAM

WORDS: RACHAEL CRABTREE (@ECCENTRIC_EEJIT)

The Noise Figures // Telepath Review

Single, EP and Album Reviews, Uncategorized

The Noise Figures; Photo Credit; Fotis Milionis.jpg

If you’re chasing down a new Psych-Blues band to add to your playlist then we recommend checking out The Noise Figures and their slow burning offering of a third album: ‘Telepath’. The Greek two-piece, George Nikas (vocals, drums) and Stamos Bamparis (guitar, vocals) combine intoxicating guitar riffs and tribal drumming that dapples in the bluesy grittiness, echoing the brilliance of Drenge.

You are destined to enjoy their fuzzy vertigo running through the album which has paved way to a heavier album than their previous two – their manically satisfying guitar work, shifting in its patterns are best highlighted on tracks: Telepath, Taste Like Time and Lethargy. Like me, you might even detect a slight 90’s edge, circa Madchester, running through some of their tracks, at times vocally (though I might be alone on this one) I definitely detect a reminiscence of The Charlatans.

All the while, you will be quickly taken in by the dark and primitive spirit of their raw guitar and drums, sitting somewhere between The Black Angels and BRMC, giving this two-piece not only an addictive edge but essentially flagging The Noise Figures as a band to watch!

The Athens-based rock duo released their third album on March 2nd via Inner Ear Records – tune into Telepath below…

THE NOISE FIGURES: WEBSITE // FACEBOOK// TWITTER //

INSTAGRAM

WORDS: RACHAEL CRABTREE (@ECCENTRIC_EEJIT)

Tango With Lions // The Light // Album Review

Single, EP and Album Reviews, Uncategorized

THE LIGHT_DIGITAL; Tango With Lions; copyright

Nailing the mystical, and often minimal, is the Greek Singer-Songwriter, Katerina Papachristou and her band, Tango With Lions. Since we first heard their recent single: ‘Proof of Desire’ (lifted from their latest album: ‘The Light’) we were eagerly anticipating the records release. One of Greece’s biggest indie/folk bands mark their return with this third studio album, and on first listen the variation of styles strikes you as altogether madly intriguing and absolutely one of a kind.

The sparseness intensifies the records nine short stories of introspection. Darkness and light coexist steadily, sometimes more excessively than the other, better still, they are never alone, and that, is what gives it beauty – the acceptance of this reflects life itself, opposites cannot live without one another and nor can a decent record! By recognising the value and power of each other (dark and light) the listener attunes, and subsequently, bonds more closely to the music.

Tango With Lions; Press Shot; Eftychia Vlachou, copyright

Katerina Papachristou, the master-mind behind, Tango With Lions. Photographer: Eftychia Vlachou

Nine songs, each different in style, reaffirm that Tango With Lions’ music hinges on atmosphere, created through imagery and poetry. Tipping slowly on the albums eerily unsettling second track: ‘Proof of Desire’ and fully realised on the penultimate track, ‘The Go-Betweens’ is the symmetry with PJ Harvey – similarities lie within the eccentric art form of creating short stories through song craft and experimental instrumentalism.

The timing of this records release could not have arrived at a more apt time either – the light of New Year light nearly shadowed by the mid-winter bleakness until the irrepressible enthusiasm for the year ahead conquers all doubts of uncertainty: “…hush now between Winter and Spring…” Papachristou whispers on the penultimate track.

Concluding, with what sounds like, a cassette of French poetry playing alongside an accordion busker, alluring in it’s warnings and wisdom – this record grows on you as your intrigue unconsciously hits replay.

‘The Light’ was released via Inner Ear Records on 19th January 2018.

Tango With Lions // Website // Facebook // Twitter // Instagram

Words: RACHAEL CRABTREE (@ECCENTRIC_EEJIT)

The War On Drugs // A Deeper Understanding // Album Review

Single, EP and Album Reviews, Uncategorized

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It’s a Sunday evening and the feeling is ripe to finally disappear into The War On Drugs latest album: ‘A Deeper Understanding’ the long anticipated fourth studio album, and follow-up to, 2014’s ‘Lost in the Dream’. With a band that take a few leaf’s from America’s ‘Great Bards’; Dylan, Petty and Springsteen, the Philadelphian psych-rock band have been a longstanding favourite of mine. From start to finish where inevitable emotions run high, I’m addicted to this sadness, truth comes to light as I listen in, wholly invested in Granduciel’s every line; melancholy poetry that reaches it’s peak on Thinking Of A Place. The record is mediative in it’s dualism within a monologue style, a narrator questioning themselves, their relationships, love and life. The dual/duel within this character is soon at a peace, they are reunited with themself, life is reaffirmed: “Hold my hand as something turns to me; turns me into you” (Thinking Of A Place).

The soothing effect is achieved through the resonation with the listener attuned to the ‘deeper understanding’, we feel this confusion between love and pain, a perfect negotiation between light and darkness; “Is this love? Are you sure? Is it something you can control? I’m in chains, I’m in love” (In Chains). And it’s the pathos that provides the warmth here. A perfect musical antithesis arrives with the pensive piano melody of Knocked Down punctuated by the upbeat driving synths delivered by Nothing To Find.

As the journey sets out, there is initial distrust in love: “I don’t believe in the real thing” (Up All Night) to the closing song’s cathartic and reinstalled faith: “singing all my songs in the pouring rain…I can feel the change” (You Don’t Have To Go). Irony resides within an album of very much heartbreak and scepticism; this is in every essence a romantic record, akin to Ten Fé’s ‘Hit The Light’ in it’s arresting balance of chiaroscuro; love/light and dark/pain. Timeless. All our inner confusions are dissolved and a greater sense of self is achieved.

The War On Drugs: Website // Twitter // Facebook

‘A Deeper Understanding’ was released on 25/08/17 via Atlantic Records.

Words: Rachael Crabtree (@eccentric_eejit)

Record of the Week // Album Review // Lisa Hannigan // At Swim

Single, EP and Album Reviews, Uncategorized
Lisa Hannigan; Album Artwork; Rich Gilligan

Lisa Hannigan: ‘At Swim’ released: 19/08/16 on Play It Again Sam, Recordings.

I was immediately taken in by the enchanting Celtic Folklore element running through Lisa Hannigan’s ‘At Swim’. Before you know it, you find yourself on a journey you have no intention to return from, remaining in a world altogether far removed from here.

‘At Swim’ reminds you of the fragility of life; reaffirming the beauty and the poetry that can be found in the simplest of things. Each song is framed in a way that is effectual and sensitive to the natural elements and movements of the tides, transpiring skies of mist, uncloaking the sun that soon fades to welcome a painting of stars. The quaint notes gently dance their way into your world inviting you to feel a closer connection with nature, the sea and it’s serenity.

As soon as the record begins, a sense of calm fills the air, reaching the most evocative on the last track: ‘Barton’. There is a very sensual element about this closing track; you can feel the fresh wild gorse underfoot, and smell the peat burning nearby as you reach the edge of the cliff: “You can see for miles and miles” and can taste the Irish sea. The echoed vocals and eerie piano chords that see the record out remain about you long after, mirroring the haunting, distant calling of the A-Side finale: ‘Ora’: “Won’t you come with me…won’t you.”

Hannigan’s vocals that range from husky depths to light and delicate heights are often self-harmonised and are always accompanied by sparse arrangements. Ethereal and darkly poetic throughout, featuring a fitting three-part a cappella of a poem (practically passable as Hannigan’s own) from the late Seamus Heaney: ‘Anahorish’.

Distinctly Irish in its innate wisdom and imagery expressed through the economy of language, mirroring that of the late Seamus Heaney and W.B Yeats. Simple lines navigate their way into your conscience with connotations of loss and bereavement within lyricism on the record’s most moving track: ‘Funeral Suit’ : “We advance in tender increments, between the past and future tense, test the weight of both.”

Thematically, the infatuation with the ocean is not least timeless, romantically, but also in its resonance with the mind’s sense of calm and clarity. Perhaps it is this attachment to the sea that aligns me in greater symmetry with the record; the lapping waves lulling as though Innisfree “I hear it in the deep heart’s core” (Yeats) and the increasing desire to be closer to the water, and essentially, Ireland; “I’m going home…won’t you come with me?”…Suffice to say, this album is a treasure that deserves your discovery.

Lisa Hannigan: Website // Twitter // Facebook

Words: Rachael Crabtree (@eccentric_eejit)

 

 

Record Of The Week // Album Review // Benedict Benjamin // Night Songs

Single, EP and Album Reviews, Uncategorized

Benedict Benjamin's Album Artwork

(Image; Benedict Benjamin; ‘Night Songs’ Album Artwork)

Benedict Benjamin’s ‘Night Songs’ is perhaps the most sensitive emotive record of late. Understated, refreshingly honest and at once lyrically relatable. Each song a journey through the confessions of a narrator honest to his flaws and follies. The way by which every word is softly spoken accentuates this emotive quality.

Opening with a humble quick step of a track: Move on Those Tired Feet, every word echoed, accompanied by an acoustic guitar. The dance soon retires to give way to I Wish Your Lies Were Better; a low impending percussive backdrop, accompanying the haunting harmonies, switch between the narrator to the lover, questioning truth, leading to the candid confessional catchiness of Thin Skin – “I’m a sum of choices made; there is who I’d like to be and who I am”.

Just when the narrator is at his most fragile, the confessions pave way to the most romantic, dreamy waltz: I Would Like To See You Tonight. Yet the soft swirling, graceful vocals: “We danced until the morning, till we couldn’t walk” are soon ushered by the sweeping strings, that drift away – “Couldn’t be closer, yet so far away”.

Unable to part with the memory, the uplifting enthusiastic rhythm of My Feet Have No Need For The Ground enters. Elated, although elegiac in tone: “Don’t know how you got in; now you’re under my skin; you’re every thought I think; you’re every sound I sing”. The nuance of tragedy is foreshadowed in the lyrics: “I am lost and I’m losing you”.

A passionate and troubled romantic at odds with his character, struggling through, finding and then losing love. The confessional state of the narrator reaches its peak on Better Man: “I am careless and unkind”, considering himself at loss through fault of his own, ending with a sense of yearning to be with someone, yet realising the impossibility.

Now at the most fragile, the sincerity of How Weak And Unguarded The Happy Heart Is stops you in your tracks. The darkness. Inevitable. As his love continues to haunt. Struggling by in the darkness, meeting iridescent light, as hinted on the following endearing track: Coward: “Honesty must navigate one through the darker nights”. Following in sombre footsteps..doubtful..and pacing out ahead of the storm: Had What You Had. As the echoes surround, the tempo ascends; an impassioned pitch meets the rainfall, almost suffocating the narrator.

Skin-drenched, walking through the rain, we are left with the most emotive enigmatic ending; The Hardest Thing: “the absence that grows until your heart’s inundated”. Pining for his love, unable to escape the darkness and silence of it all: “I know it’ll come, but I don’t think that time is near”.

This is a heart-warming and moving record that despite the melancholy, is almost like the catharsis of crying; the feeling in being sad and happy simultaneously. A much underrated experience and record.

If you haven’t already, do take a listen to Night Songs by Benedict Benjamin.

 

Writer: Rachael Crabtree

LINKS

Website: http://www.benedictbenjamin.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/benedictsongs
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/benedictbenjaminsongs