Paul Carr: Over rudimentary beats and the barest of bass lines, Sleaford Mods address the collapse of one of the UK’s oldest and most famous department store chains. Rather than a furious protest anthem for the 99% or a rousing anthem against the fat cats that get rich at the expense of the little man, it is delivered as a pithy statement of fact. A tacit acknowledgment that there is no fairness in society and the rich man is, inevitably always going to win, leaving the vultures to pick over the carcasses they leave behind. Moreover, the band maintains their ability to describe the grubby mundanity of everyday British life. There is no grandeur or attempt to explore life’s big questions. No real stylistic “growth”. This is what Sleaford Mods do, and it is what it is. Just don’t come looking for answers. [7/10]
Latest Blog Posts
Adriane Pontecorvo: Valerie June brings us a gospel that speaks in tongues and gets down and dirty on “Shakedown”. A bluesy twang gives her folk sounds grit while June sings up a storm and unfettered keyboards rock without getting slick. If you’re not catching serious spirit, listen again and again and again: the simplicity is catching, and one listen isn’t enough. This is music that wakes the whole body, with knee slaps and hand claps all implied. This is a song made to shake the sins from your skin and your skin from your bones, and it’s got some heavy grooves. [8/10]
Known for her art-rock compositions with Goya Dress and the more straightforward pop songwriting of her solo career, Shetland-born Astrid Williamson returns to the classical musical training of her formative years to present Requiem and Gallipoli. A ten-piece set of orchestral compositions written by Williamson herself, Requiem and Gallipoli is a crystalline example of the songwriter’s talents as a composer.
Her work with the atmospheric and dramatic alternative rock outfit Goya Dress established Williamson’s skill in combining the storms of pop-rock structures with the understated and moody arrangements of a string section. The artist further expressed classical designs in her follow-up solo work, always within a pop context.
Is this London / Brighton trio’s collective name meant to evoke a fictional character? Is it a sentence fragment ominously failing to resolve who or what it is this Johnny figure is slaying? That the members—Tim, Cameron, and Lewis—all take “Kills” as a surname a la the Ramones further muddies the water and deepens the intrigue.
San Fernando Valley’s Soul Scratch are a smoking hot soul band with superlative musicianship and one hell of a lead singer in Dale Spollett. Spollett possesses one of those force of nature soul voices that can’t be taught; one has to be born with it. Like Paul Janeway from St. Paul and the Broken Bones and Mike Farris, Spollett is a blue-eyed soul singer that can tear the house down in live performance. Even more impressive is how his voice bristles with energy and conviction on studio recordings. The band itself equals the vocal excellence of Spollett, with its right-on-the-money crackling grooves in every song. Soul Scratch is one of those groups that you know you love within a few seconds of hearing one of their songs.