Reviews roundup – The Deep Hollow vs. Gregg Kofi Brown vs. Jordi Castilla vs. Redwest vs. Circuline
THE DEEP HOLLOW
The Deep Hollow
Turns out that The Deep Hollow’s song “Devil” was the grand prize winner of American Songwriter Magazine’s 30th Anniversary Song Contest, which I assume is a thing. Anyway, it led to a Kickstarter campaign and this debut album, so all is well with the world.
Because this is a cracking slab of roots / country / folk, all wrapped up with some lovely harmonies and melodies. It all began with singer Elizabeth Eckert and singer/guitarist Micah Walk, who linked up with singer/guitarist Dave Littrell. They’d all been performing and recording for years, across a host of genres, but once they got together the magic began.
The record they’ve made together is a real treat, covering country, pop, folk, gospel and all points inbetween, with some fabulous tunes like “Straight To You”, “Beginning and the End” and the aforementioned “Devil” top of the pops. It looks like they’ve found their way home, so fingers crossed for more.
Rock’n’Roll And UFOs
Gregg Kofi-Brown is best known for his work with African funk rock pioneers Osibisa, although he arrived well after their UK hit making days. But he served with them for a couple of decades, whilst releasing solo albums and collaborating with musicians worldwide.
He’s got an autobiography coming out and this anthology acts as a companion piece to the book of the same name. The record sees a host of well known names across the grooves with Dominic Miller (Sting), John Rabbit Bundrick (The Who, Free, Bob Marley), Gus Isidore (Seal), Osibisa, Kari Bannerman (Ronnie Laws, Ibibio Sound Machine), Novecento (Billy Cobham, Chaka Khan) and Pauline Henry (The Chimes) all making appearances.
Thing is, the record features a lot of previously unreleased songs, remixes, and demos, rather than actual album tunes, so it’s all a bit and miss. There are a couple of unplugged songs which work really well. That would be “All The Way For You” and “Open Up My Arms”, but most of it seems unfocussed. There is no doubting his talent as a musician, but this isn’t the best way into him.
JORDI CASTILLA & Carta Magna
Fancy some Castilian AOR meets melodic rock? Of course you do. So, we’re off to Seville to meet up with Jordi Castilla & Carta Magna.
First things first, all the songs are sung in Castilian, so those of us who can barely get by in an approximation of English won’t find much empathy with the words. So, it’s all about the music, man. And the music is good.
After a brief intro, we’re off into the title track, and “Mirate” catches you from the start, with some excellent melodies and keyboard work. “La Ultima Canción” is next, despite being nowhere near the last song, and Senor Castilla and his band show that they can rock it up a bit as well, as it’s a much harder edged tune.
And so it goes on. Even if a few of the songs in the middle of the album veer towards modern mainstream rock, there is also enough of an AOR edge to keep you listening. One for the more adventurous AORster out there.
Italian Dezperadoz anyone? Because that’s what Milan band Redwest are. Yippee Aye A! They’ve bunged out a couple of spaghetti western metal EPs since 2009 but have now reached the point of releasing a debut album.
And as well as the aforementioned Dezperadoz they’ve also got a few Metallica meets Volbeat riffs up their sleeves, but they’re at their best when they head off in a more radical mariachi direction. So the likes of “Ballad of Eddie W” are a lot more fun than the more straight ahead “Bullet Rain”.
They’re the kind of band who could get a mid afternoon festival crowd jumping around to “Crimson Renegade”, but it’s not the sort of album that would get a lot of plays in your living room. Fun. But not too much.
Off to the American colonies now, and the second album from progsters Circuline. And they’re certainly a dab hand at that whole modern prog thing.
It’s the kind of thing that Porcupine Tree / Steven Wilson fans will take to, but with enough classic prog touches in there not to alienate old saddos like me. It’s a clever trick to pull off, and they’ve managed it with ease. So there are just as many Yes rhythm changes as there are PT licks.
It’s also a bit of a guitar widdlers dream, as there are literally hundreds (well, seven) guest guitarists popping in to lively up tunes like “Forbidden Planet”, “Hollow” and “Stay (Peter Frankenstein)”. So it’s a bit of a who’s who of modern prog guitar. The rest of the band more than play their part, and this should be required listening for 21st century prog rock fans.