Reviews roundup – James McArthur vs. Enemies vs. Mikko Joensuu
JAMES McARTHUR and the Head Gardeners
It’s been a couple of years since I lent an ear to “Strange Readings From The Weather Station” an album I reckoned was John Martyn inspired “sparse, dark, mystic, folky “.
And it’s more of the same this time out as the London based trio carry on with their musical ruminations based around acoustic guitar, pedal steel and violin. It’s a far cry from Mr McArthurs days as a drummer with Paul Weller and this sees heading a wee bit further down the Syd Barrett / Incredible String Band route.
So it’s likely to appeal to auld fellas who will enjoy the tranquil and languid take on life provided here. In places it has a Ray Davies / Kinks mid seventies feel to it and a quick listen to songs like “What The Day Holds” and “To Do” should certainly please fans of that sound. However, younger people who’ve enjoyed the calmer side of The Bees and Gomez will also find a place to call home.
The final album from the Irish band sees them heading on down a mellow vocal route.
Oddly it’s also their most commercial album by far with a handful of tunes that would have done nicely with the Editors / Coldplay / Foals crowd if they’d ever got a chance to hear them. There is a very poppy edge to songs like “Don’t Go” and “Glow” that could have served them nicely.
But it’s not to be as they go their different ways, leaving behind them the best record of their career.
When ‘Amen 1’ came out, the first part of a trilogy, i said it’s “the sort of wonky roots music that people like Townes Van Zandt put out back in the day.” And I was right.
So here is part two of the trilogy which sees Finn Mikko Joensuu dealing with his experience of depression, loneliness and losing his faith. Big cheery then. However, whereas the first record was an acoustic lament this one sees him throwing everything into the mix including strings, synths and samples.
So it’s still depressing but in an oddly upbeat way. It ends up being the type of thing Pink Floyd fans would love to listen to on their very expensive headphones which is probably the best way to experience lengthy wonders like the closing 20 minutes of “I Gave You All”.