Album & Single Reviews

Published on August 14th, 2017 | by Mike Ainscoe


Mike’s late Summer round up – music reviews

Was that the Summer? Seems an age since the June round up especially with festivals racing by and the Bandwagon intray being bombarded with new music. Anyway. Here’s a look at a handful of goodies that passed through our hot mitts over the past few weeks and for some reason seems to be heavily weighted in the direction of musical duos. A large pile to wade through but always the chance to unearth a few gems – it’s the thrill of the chase.

But first, from  Bone Zeno,  a “21st century musical nomad”,  comes his ravaged art rock, deeply moving punk balladry debut ‘Black Milk’ (Impression Recordings) sounding  like something occasionally found (more likely  smelt) in the Sanderling basement, home to the Pure studio. A set that serves as pretty much a musical ‘this is your life’ of Bone; wild and on the edge of chaos, careering bizarrely through phases of blues, lop sided pop experimentation and general outpouring. Touching on the disturbing with the reference to the album title in ‘Ashn Skin’, it’s almost an aural primal scream therapy typified by, ahem, ‘U Fuck Me’.

Our pick: ‘Ashn Skin’, the holocaust motivated thought poem that’s both haunting and hypnotic.


Previously a folk duo, a neo-noir Americana outfit and live looping scientists Whitehorse  re-emerge as a power couple (probably a bit like Cream and the Jimi Hendrix Experience, but one less). Once you’re past the disturbingly shocking pink cat on the cover,   ‘Panther In The Dollhouse’ (Six Shooter Records) the genre PR labelled genre chameleons, they live up to the name with a lyrical emphasis on the woman’s perspective on consent and freedom. Early on there’s an amusing/toecurling  call of “boys like you live with their mothers – forever”

Our pick: the “grindhouse ballad” whatever that is – ‘Die Alone’,  a sombre yet strangely uplifting hymn to…what it says


Another duo are British husband and wife pairing Grace and Aaron Bond who make up  Where Rivers Meet.  Their debut ‘Liberty’ (One Road Records) contains eight originals and a couple of covers included in their live set. Stumbling mid set upon ‘Suspicious Minds’ seems that Brits they may be but there’s a transatlantic feel about their philosophy, particularly to the fore in the sultry ‘Greed’ and the swinging country in ‘Can’t Pay My Way’.

Our pick: the uptempo swinger ‘Postpone’ that calls on the big band version of the duo.


Duos aplenty! Three new tracks from Ruby Muse on their  ‘Just Like You’ EP encompass ambient alternative blues, folk rock and Americana. All tracks written, recorded and produced by Jools and Malcolm Heyes, their influences range from Bach to Bob (Dylan) while their sound has been likened to diverse acts spanning Morcheeba, Joni Mitchell, Fleetwood Mac and Yes! Regardless, here’s twelve minutes of cool and easy ear candy.

Our pick:  ‘Diamonds’ – a gentle bluesy groove in a tribute to the unsung hero.


And while we’re on the subject Morrissey (not that one) & Marshall release a second album ‘We Rise’ that celebrates the next part of their journey that’s taken them from Dublin to London town; from busking to big venues with a brassy and bold brashness. Indie elements of the Mondays, the Roses and the Muse get injected with some poppy dashes,  the odd venomous bite  and occasional delicious harmonies.

Our pick: ‘Play On’ finds them stepping out (or stepping on) with a funky Madchester groove.



Moving on, here’s a duo……..The Drystones with their third album ‘We Happy Few’ (Shedbuilt Records) the title taken from ‘Henry V’ no less although considering the round up theme, should that be ‘we happy two’? The combo of Ford Collier and Alex Garden have enough musical clout between them for it to come as a surprise that after the guitar/fiddle opening on ‘Treekend’ the following ‘Green Mountain’ is a whistle based tune. They set the tone for a set of cheerful and lively tunes with the odd exception of…

…Our pick: ‘My Son John’ a typically disturbing version of the trad. arr. Martin Carthy tale of the ravages of war with a contemporary bent.



Windrose’ (Routes Records) by The Routes Quartet, aside from breaking the run of duos, bridges the gap between the folk and classical fields. Not only that, they assemble a concoction of Scottish, Irish and English traditional music. A string quartet with folk hats, it’s an interesting brew. One that’s reflective and calming, best appreciated from a comfy chair rather than as a festival showstopper.

Our pick: ‘On Land And Sea’ a suitably cinematic close to the album.



A textbook Sonic segue (must copyright that signature move) takes us from the classical/folk hybrid to classic punkabilly. A fifteen  minute five song blast of Tex Pistols on their ‘Chip Shop’ EP (RDJ Recordings). ‘There’s A Guy Works Down The Chip Shop Swears He’s Elvis’ is the lead track, Cajun style and it’s no surprise that Hank Williams  gets covered in a little set of pant swinging country rockers. No better reason to pick this up other than its release as a fund raiser for UK prostate cancer.

Our pick: ‘Train Kept A Rollin’ –  classic! If it’s good enough as a first rehearsal tune for  the fledgling Led Zep…

Rob Richings’ ‘Carry On Regardless’ single (Crescent Records) promises nothing fancy. Just great songs from someone who cares; a job satisfaction that goes back to his days as a painter and decorator in Swindon. In true ‘carry on’ fashion, titter ye not; Swindon is a hub for many a folk tune and was Mike Waterson not inspired to write the ‘Bright Phoebus’ song (from the legendary and recently re-released album) whilst up his ladder following the same profession. Nonetheless, he delivers in a casually precise Paul Simon style. The way he phrases “there’s a hoodie with a spray can” and “the girl who sleeps  in doorway man” is uncannily ‘Boy In The Bubble’ carefully orchestrated train of thought.

Our pick: …has to be ‘Carry On Regardless’


‘We’re All In This Together’ (Thirty Tigers)  is the first live album from Hard Working Americans. Somehow they’ve managed to pack the CD to the absolute brim with an hour and twenty minutes . The Chuck Berry riff that introduces ‘Mission Accomplished’ comes full circle with the set closing iconic Berry hit  ‘School Day’. A polished and well performed set of rock in a blues vein with the occasional slide guitar that owes more than a touch to old Chuck although maybe lacking  a bit of the ragged glory you get in live performance.

Our pick: ‘Roman Candles’ a sleazy and soulful workout.


Ron Pope, according to the Daily Mirror will appeal to lovers of the E Street Band. Backers of his holiness Bruce Springsteen, that’s more than enough reason to have a listen to ‘Work’ (Brooklyn Basement Records).  Having said that, a healthy car journey gave a chance for the album to sink in and leave the impression that he’s more on the brass fuelled Southside Johnny rock and soul side of Asbury Park than the boss. His online presence may have earned him millions of streams, plays and a hopefully a few quid/dollars, but his self-sufficient style is commendable.

Our pick: Great picking and harmonies in ‘The Last’  but we’ll go for lead single, the shot of  ‘Bad For Your Health’ where the country funk and brass do the business.


And, as Def Leppard’s Joe Elliott says, until the next time – and there will be a next time…





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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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