Reviews roundup – Danielle Hope vs. Electric Mind Machine vs. The Artaud Beats vs. Bret Coats vs. Osukarli
Bring The Future Faster: Live at 54 Below
Do you remember 2010? If you do, then you will remember that Danielle Hope was the winner of the Andrew Lloyd Webber “Over The Rainbow” TV show, which led to Ms Hope appearing on the West End stage alongside Michael Crawford. Then it was off to Les Mis, and this year sees her in the touring production of The Sound Of Music.
She also find time to head off to New York, where this live performance was recorded. There’s a lot of chit chat, but it is a live show, so best to keep it there. As you would expect, it’s very show and biz, with a fine array of musical tunes to keep you entertained. But she also throws in things like ‘Mambo Italiano’, which she sang on the ALW talent show.
There are a couple of special guests, with Edward Baker-Duly (who was the Tin Man) and Ceili O’Connor from “The Wizard of Oz” company joining in. It’s an engaging album rather than an essential one, but well worth a listen.
ELECTRIC MIND MACHINE
Electric Mind Machine
It’s fuzzed up garage rock time now, and we’re off to Los Angeles to catch up with founding members Kenneth Wessel and Sara Loera.
Now, what drew me in was their cover of the Status Quo’s ‘Pictures Of Matchstick Men’, but what kept me there was the driving energy that pulsates through the record. Apparently, they feature members of Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and Lords Of Altamont, which may mean something to some of you, but all I hear is primo garage rock, regardless of pedigree.
There are half a dozen tracks that went straight on repeat play here, including ‘Pretty Face’, ‘Absinthe Supermoon’, the aforementioned wah wah drenched ‘Pictures Of Matchstick Men’ and more. If the rough and ready fuzzbox sixties is your thing, then you need to hear this.
THE ARTAUD BEATS
Yumi Hara Cawkwell usually comes up with something interesting in the world of art rock, and this latest venture is no exception.
The Artaud Beats were conceived at Jean-Hervé Péron’s Avantgarde Festival in 2009, when Geoff Leigh and Yumi Hara were performing as a duo. Chris Cutler and John Greaves were performing with Peter Blegvad and Dagmar Krause before Mr Leigh suggested they get together as a quartet.
It wasn’t a huge leap as Geoff, Chris, and John had all been in Henry Cow, and after a successful show, they started getting some festival shows, before two tours of Japan and now this album. It’s very improv meets Canterbury with some jazz thrown if for good measure, and when the grooves of creations like ‘Prefab Wreckage’ hits in, you can well understand why fans of art rock and improv have taken to their sounds.
Music For The People
Time for some roots rock meets Americana, courtesy of Bret Coats.
He’s a man with a pedigree, having toured and recorded with countless artists, as well as stint playing in Antone’s House Band at the legendary (and now deceased) Austin music venue. So he can certainly play. And he can write songs as well, as this second solo album shows to good effect.
He calls it Alternative Rock & Roll with Soul, which basically means he’s operating in a similar sphere to the likes of Jono Manson. Songs like ‘Listen for the Bass Line’, ‘That’s What People Do’ and ‘On the Mountain’ grab you straight away, with a great mix of grit and melody.
He seems to have found his voice and some sympathetic musicians, so I hope we hear more of his music soon.
Code 7 – City Of Lights
No, it’s not some kind of Japanese power metal album, despite what the sleeve might indicate. No, this is the latest album from the Swedish melodic rocker, led by Oz Osukaru.
And if you like Scandi AOR, then you will love this. They might not be the best known name on that ever vibrant scene, but they have an awful lot to recommend them to you. It’s very much rooted in the eighties, and with Osukaru being a fine guitarist, then it’s riff driven rock.
It’s a bit schizophrenic, what with them having two lead vocalists, one male and one female, but you can get past that when there are songs as strong as ‘Arrows” Promised Land’ and the radio friendly (in 1985) ‘Tell Me You’ll Stay’.
It’s a busy world over there in Scandi AOR, but this release is one of the best this year. Enjoy.