Reviews roundup – Bill Phillippe vs. Sinderins vs. Darker Half
Arkansas Street Records
Off to California for some old time acoustic blues with a hint of jazz. Because that is what Bill Phillippe is dishing up on this here record.
It’s a strange one as all the songs sound like they’ve been plucked from a time machine, and brought to life in the modern world. Strange, because with the exception of a Duke Ellington tune and a Tom Waits one, these are all originals from Mr Phillippe.
And it’s really rather good, as it takes a sidestep into a world inhabited by clarinets, accordions and dimly lit, illegal after hours clubs. Which is to say, it’s an incredibly atmospheric piece of work. Mr Phillippe has an idiosyncratic voice, but ably assisted by Ivor Holloway on clarinet, Swen Hendrickson on bass and Glenn Hartman on accordion, he readily transports you into another time and place. A round of applause for everyone involved.
From the sun of California to the glittering jewel in Scotlands crown that is Dundee [insert Broons based joke here].
And what we have is a debut album from Sinderins, a colloquial name for the five-way road junction in the West End of Dundee. You know, the nightmare beside the library. Anyway, the band formerly known as AMWF formerly known as AMWWF, or THFKAAMWFFKAAMWWF for ease of reference, are the new kids on the UK folk rock block. And they’ve done a fine job.
Of course, it helps that they have played hunnerds of shows prior to getting in the studio with Grammy award-winning producer Matt Lawrence, and it shows, as they’re tighter than a ducks arse on this set of excellent tunes. There’s a glut of excellent harmony vocals, some splendid arrangements, and an adventurous edge to their material.
I’m not convinced about the split of lead vocals, but that aside, songs as good as ‘All Join Hands’, ‘Till the Walls Come Down’ and ‘The Devil Wears No Disguise’ should see a glut of folk award nominations in their future.
It only seems a few months ago, that I was listening to “Never Surrender” by Australian modern metalheads, Darker Half, damning them with faint praise, along the lines of “even if they are not quite the finished article, there is enough here to suggest that they could be ready to start moving up the metal league table.”
Now they’re back with a five track EP, in advance of their first European tour. I’m delighted to report that not only is it a concept EP dealing with an alien invasion along with some conspiracy theories, but it is a step up.
They’ve amped up the guitars, got a bit more adventurous in the studio (which coincides with a new guitarist) as they take over production duties themselves, and have come up with some excellent metal anthems in the shape of ‘Heaven’s Falling’ and ‘Voice Of The Dead’ amongst others. Good work, fellas.