Reviews roundup – A Secret River vs. The Rural Alberta Advantage vs. Introitus vs. C Holmes vs. Captain Beefheart
A SECRET RIVER
Colours Of Solitude
Prog rock? From Sweden? Surely not. But it’s true. A Secret River are indeed a progressive rock band, albeit one with a lot more in common with latter day Marillion, than the pomptastic days of yore.
So what you’re getting are lots of harmonies, keyboards and a mellow, sometimes melancholic strain of prog rock which is very good indeed. Considering it’s a debut album it also has a depth that is sometimes lacking in up and comers, but the music here is exemplary.
Best of all is ‘No Way To Say Goodbye’ a song that will appeal to progsters of all persuasions, as it pulls in as many strands of the genre as possible, without being too big and clever for its own good. A definite winner, and one that bodes well for the future.
THE RURAL ALBERTA ADVANTAGE
Mended With Gold
See, you can be an indie band without being utter shite. Album number three for the oddly named The Rural Alberta Advantage, although it’s my first encounter with them.
For sure, they do lose the plot in places, but here’s a band that actually know how to write songs that could appeal across a much wider spectrum. There is a handful of songs deserving of a listen with ‘Runners In The Night’ and ‘This City’ the best of the bunch.
Unusually for me, it’s when an air of melancholy envelopes the sound that things work to full effect, as the more bombastic sound of ‘All We’ve Ever Known’ and others doesn’t have the same impact. I’m still trying to recover from the shock of them not being rubbish, so it’s a thumbs up from me.
After what I said earlier about a prog band from Sweden, here comes, wait for it, a prog band from Sweden! They’ve been on the go for about a decade now, and this is album number three from Mats Bender (keyboards), Anna Jobs Bender (lead vocals), Henrik Björlind (flute, keyboards), Pär Helje (lead guitars), Mattias Bender (drums, vocals) and Dennis Lindkvist (bass). There’s even a guest vocal from Johanna Bender, which is a lot of benders to be getting on with.
And it’s good old fashioned symphonic prof, just the way I like it. It’s orchestral when it needs to be, the keyboards are front and centre, which makes the guitar flourishes all the more enjoyable when they arrive. A pat on the back for the vocals of Anna Jobs Bender, which add a melodic edge to the music.
Best of the bunch is ‘Broken Glass’, where everything comes together beautifully, but you’d be hard pushed to find something that isn’t good on this record. Certainly one of the best prog records of the year.
Peace, Love & C Holmes
Christina Holmes is the very talented young woman on this record, aided and abetted by musical legend Narada Michael Walden (Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey). , who has produced this and released it on his own label.
Normally, I would hate this. It’s far too chipper and full of hope for me, with stacks of songs about the joys of love. But somehow I got past that, and immersed myself in a world of summery sounds and perky pop. It really is brimming full of songs that should be getting stacks of airplay.
Ms Homes has a really good voice, and can twist and turn through mainstream pop, dance pop and soul pop, as songs like ‘Give A Little Bit More’, ‘I Love You’ and ‘Fade Away’ lure you into their melodic world and don’t let you go. A delightful album that’s really worth a listen.
CAPTAIN BEEFHEART & The Magic Band
Live from Paris 1977
Oh, God, it’s a double live album from Captain Beefheart. Sadly, hot on the heels of “Live In Detroit 1980”, this is a bootleg quality release aimed at the Captain Beefheart diehards.
You’ve got to feel sorry for them, though. I mean, imagine listening to Captain Beefheart albums every day, or having your iPod full of his songs. If there was a charity to help them recover, I’s happily chip in. Anyway, this one is from 1977, as the name says, and saw Beefheart getting bad crits for the first time in his career.
He had a new Magic band in tow, and they were tasked with trying to link up the old and the new. Denny Walley and Jeff Morris Tepper on guitars do their best to bring order to the chaos on the likes of ‘Electricity’, ‘Big Eye Beans From Venus’ and ‘I Wanna Find A Woman That’ll Hold My Big Toe Till I Have To Go’. It’s a B plus bootleg, but one that Beefheart sufferers will clasp to their wounded bosoms.