Reviews roundup – Matty T Wall vs. Al Lerman vs. Throws vs. Mikko Joensuu vs. Still Living
MATTY T WALL
To the mythical continent of Australasia for some blues, courtesy of the debut album from Australian guitarist Matty T Wall. And the fellas has chops.
The album is split between covers and originals, with the former featuring numbers from the likes of Keb Mo, Robert Johnson and Jimi Hendrix, whilst the latter show a strong songwriting skill. Mr Wall is a dab hand at the guitar, and helped along by Stephen Walker (bass) and Jasper Miller (drums) he’s made an excellent start to his recording career.
His own “Burnin’ Up Burnin’ Down” is a cracking blues rocker which highlights how good a performer he is, while the instrumental “Smile” gives him a chance to show off his guitar picking talent. Of the covers, it was Keb Mo’s “Am I Wrong” which shone brightest, although the fact that he managed to come up with an interesting take on Robert Johnson’s “Hellhound On My Trail” is a testament to his prowess.
It’s a great start, and hopefully there is more to come.
From one outpost of Empire to another, this time the great Canadian colonies and to Al Lerman, a veteran of the blues and roots scene, who has more than a hint of the swamp about him.
He likes to keep busy does Mr Lerman, as he plays in the award winning band, Fathead, as well as being a member of the Maple Blues Revue, but here he’s heading off into an acoustic based land of down home blues tunes.
He’s linked up with some great musicians, put together some top notch original songs (plus a Kokomo Arnold cover) and ended up with a real treat for the ears. I won’t be the first to mention Tony Joe White, but that’s the idiom he’s working in here. It’s fresh, invigoratoring and on songs like “Gonna Have To Wait”, “Younger Man Than Me” and “Tattoo Like You”, you find yourself listening to a master of the game.
A definite blues winner.
Full Time Hobby
Sam Genders and Mike Lindsay were two of the founding members of Tunng, an eccentric folk band in the last decade. I say eccentric because artsy fartsy seems to annoy people, but that’s what they were, with their peculiar folktronica take on the genre.
Not my cup of tea, but ten years on from the release of Tunng’s third album ‘Good Arrows’, which was the last time Lindsay and Genders worked together, the pair reconvened in Iceland, and their new project Throws works a whole lot better.
Even though the electronic element is still there, the years have seen them drift into a more ambient and throwback still which makes for a very pleasant listening experience. There’s nothing life changing here, but across a series of mood pieces, the duo have found a place that mashes pop, folk and electronica to good effect.
Tuung fans will take to the likes of “High Pressure Front”, those more rooted int traditional sounds will favour “Silence In Between”, but both sets will find a lot to like.
From the frozen climes of Iceland to the equally Northern environs of Finland. Now to me that says Kotiteollisuus, Nightwish and Hanoi Rocks (and I still have my original HR fan club membership card, seeing as how you ask).
But things couldn’t be less metal than this offering from Mikko Joensuu. Nope, he’s ignored all that and decided to make a lo-fi album of introspective Americana. Well, Finlandia has already been taken by Jean Sibelius.
Turns out that Mr Joensuu took himself off to a small cabin by a lake in northern Finland where he spent time recording this, part one of a projected trilogy. It’s the sort of wonky roots music that people like Townes Van Zandt put out back in the day, although this updated version takes some left hand turns into an alt folk direction.
Some off it is really indulgent, as on “Enjoy It While It Lasts”, whereas a tune like “‘Warning Sign” only needs some strings and a Tammy Wynette vocal to turn into pure country schmaltz. Which is a good thing. As an album, it’s always interesting, which is a good place to be.
Some classic hard rock meets AOR from Brazil. That’s what you’re getting on the second album from Still Living, four years on from their ‘From Now On’ debut.
Renato Costa on vocals, Eduardo Netherlands on guitar, Leandro Andrade on bass, Cleber Melo on drums and Thiago Nascimento on keyboards are the folks responsible, and they’ve done a bang up job of recreating the days of yore.
From the opening “Flying High”, you know you’re in good company, as the melody is front and centre, with some great guitars. Elsewhere, the keyboards are used to great effect, with a few prog swooshes hither and thither. They’ve also got the obligatory power ballad, with “You Remain Alive” and “Eyes” both having some lighter in the air moments.
They share a few cornerstones with bands like Europe, but this will be appreciated wherever the lure of melodic rock stands tall.