Album & Single Reviews

Published on February 4th, 2017 | by Mike Ainscoe


Mike Ainscoe January 2017 Round Up

Festive  season over, there sits awaiting a clump of early 2017 releases giving a chance for a more in depth exploration  of some of the tuneage we’ve been featuring on The Bandwagon.



Art Star

It comes as a bit of a surprise that on the back of The Blue Aeroplanes 12th album that they’ve  been knocking on the door for well over twenty years – their 1990 ‘Swagger’ album even hitting the highs as The Sunday Times Rock Album of the Year.

Their rock, folk, punk, poetry, art and dance hybrid continues  courtesy of original members Gerard Langley  (poet/singer) and John Langley (drums) aided and abetted by a combo of long standing and more recently acquired crew. And while some may argue that their track record has their best days firmly behind them, their longevity and commitment to their art is a rare commodity these days.

For anyone new to The Aeroplanes, there’s still a feeling that their template remains both flexible and  diverse. Brimming with  energy and the willingness to add  bigger production moments sees them pretenders to  step into  an REM-less void. They’re long enough into their career not to kowtow to the norm and still have their quirks and tendency to veer into the eccentric. Just by chance  you’ve not heard before, well worth a punt.



Progressive Gears

Every now and then Nige gets his prog cape on and comes up with a belter. Who can forget his championing of Norwegian proggers Airbag and their fabulous ‘Disconnect’ album? He’s now dipped into his bag of goodies and pulled out a band formed in West Yorkshire less than a year ago, who’ve made their mark immediately having had the honour of recently supporting well established standard bearers Magnum.

Taking inspiration  from everything from Marillion to Porcupine Tree via Rush, Opeth and Genesis, and with a healthy dose of  classic rock, classical and film score leanings, the recipe sounds pretty mouthwatering. Announcing themselves with  an element of Dream Theater’s ‘A Change Of Seasons’ about the cover, minus the Summery bit, they open  up with the grand statement of intent which is the sixteen minutes of the title track.  The  melodic intro soon gives way to a rich keyboard led piece  setting the tone of the album where the overall vibe is one which is more pastoral and organic rather than a ride of dynamic and epic intensity.  An album where a  classy smooth vocal combines with lengthy instrumental passages and while ‘The Wheel’ rocks things up a bit, there’s never anything scary and  brain meltingly challenging. It sees  ‘The Man Who Never Was’ sitting very comfortably with the sort of Neo/Nu prog field from the mid eighties.



Traitors & Saints Records

The debut album from Robin Parmiter and Ian Wilson described as an acceptance and celebration of the death of cool. Aside from having the word ‘disco’ in the band name, ‘Cool Is Dead’ turns out to be quite an fascinating little listen, promising and delivering eccentric fairy tales and  a conversation with the devil all soundtracked by a combo of contemporary psychedelic soundscapes.

Apparently there is life after cool and it comes in the form of both hard edged and poppy guitar touches and in the brooding and the  hypnotic. ‘Dissolve’ touches a couple of bases Not averse to throwing the occasional curveball,  they also do a Led Zep (circa the III era) acoustic mode on the  ‘Let It Roll’ (I swear they’re about to break into “hey hey what can I do?” at one point) and ‘The Cool Cowboy’ building into a tabla styled percussion and slide frenzy. Then  there are moments which might simply be classed as more outlandish. It could well be what Marc Bolan might be doing if he were still with us but for a snapshot, you’ll find Discomister at their most original and unique when they edge  towards atmospheres and grooves on ‘Your Faults’ and the brilliant ‘Traitors & Saints’.  One which ranks as a pleasant discovery.

Check out a bit more of them at Bandcamp : 


…and finally a couple of advance notices of some upcoming February releases which have arrived early…


We’re always lucky enough at The Bandwagon to get notice of Daria’s work so we’ve had plenty chance to let ‘Long Lost Home’ sink into the consciousness ahead of the official album launch on 23rd Feb at Cecil Sharp House.

The instantly recognisable clear tones emerge from the hypnotic snakecharm trance of ‘Tamara’ and so begins the start of a fascinating  journey through her family tree and the culture of the Ingush Republic in Southern Russia.  History, tragedy and  tradition combine with authentic instruments – the dakhchan padar, nyckelharpas  and  doul (plus  a fleeting Lukas Drinkwater  appearance on double bass) – to  add to the haunting Eastern European flavour in a set of sings which explore and dissect the Kulesh Russian heritage.  One which has always been at the fore of her music but not quite so deeply personal as this.

Kate Rouse’s familiar hammered dulcimer is also added to the mix of haunting ballads,  the traditional lament ‘Distant Love’ and ‘Heart’s Delight’s uplifting message of  “may your heart’s delight become your fate”  – an anthemic refrain. Her heritage has always been a  subject always close to her heart,  yet Daria has upped the stakes by bringing her music even closer to home with her trademark delicate touch. While the musical content of ‘Long Lost  Home’ is unmistakably Daria/Kara, the icing on the cake comes in the way of  the lyrical content and concept – one to pore over, to unpick and dissect.



Taking another bold step from the bedroom with her second EP finds Iona Lane quick to acknowledge her musical influences from fellow young upstarts Blair Dunlop and Larkin Poe, plus the master himself Steven Wilson. All making their mark on her brand of contemporary folk.

In the follow up to 2015’s ‘Dry Stone Walls’,  she re-introduces herself  with ‘Amsterdam’, a snapshot of a sneak trip to and around the sites – soft and delicate, a pattering on the hi hat and flute  suddenly  sees the piece evolve  into a full band arrangement a la ‘Stairway’.  Not a bad reference point for your second EP… Continuing  with the summery feel of  ‘Sometimes’ – dreamy and breathy and with a lush arrangement which brings to mind  Lucy Ward’s dreamy ‘Velvet Sky’, the Shooter gang in full rhythm section support

The mid paced ‘Fly Or Fall’, explores the barely disguised thoughts on the journey into the unknown –  the fine line between success or failure  –   the plea  “please help me, I’m struggling to fit puzzle pieces together”  clearly shows  the melancholy Wilson influence. It’s perhaps the stripped back  solo performance of ‘I’ll Run Without You’ which is most significant. Shorn of a more ambitious arrangement and charged with a sure confidence to go it alone, it’s Iona backing up why it’s  her name on the cover.

About the Author

Mike's mellowed in his old age, discovering the delights of traditional folk and acoustic music and the constant stream of new music coming through his passion as a gig-goer, music photographer and writer. With favourite artists and favourite songs which change daily, even hourly, he adds another spoke to the Sonic Bandwagon wheel of fortune.

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