Album & Single Reviews

Published on June 7th, 2017 | by Sonic Bandwagon


The start of Summer(?) – round up

Summer. The festival season. That explains the torrential rain and gale force winds in the first week of June. Mike checks out a few things which have  dropped into the Bandwagon pigeon hole in the past month or two from our regular press contacts. Music that’s a bit less on the wild and windy side and actually sees us briefly mellowing in the country but keeps things ticking over as our radio outlet for the best in new and underground music beds into new premises and systems.


Tim O’Brien played at Bury Met recently but I didn’t go – useless information. On  ‘Where The River Meets The Road’ there’s a hint of bluegrassy Dylan delivery from the off in ‘High Flying Bird’ (hold the  Noel jibes…). In fact he’s done  bluegrass Dylan covers in the past (‘Red On Blonde’ – honest). Bjo and fiddle at the core, I guess ‘Where The River…’ is pretty much as expected from Tim who boasts a fifteen album catalogue – mournful country Americana be it his own writing or covers. The title track is a hoedown swing your pants blast. Built as a live  set opener or encore. Pure West Virginia, required listening on The Waltons’ wireless. Goodnight John Boy.


Tom Hickox turns out to be  a bit of a star in the current selection – the name familiar from warming up for Richard Hawley in his 2013 Big Top show in Sheffield. ‘Monsters In The Deep’ conveys him as a deep thinking and dark wordsmith of the Leonard Cohen ilk, possibly even a pretender to the Cohen throne he’s a fellow of the Richard Hawley deep baritone crooning persuasion.  And ‘Monsters….’ Is an album that’s as obscure and intriguing as the Hickox persona – how often do you see lyric printed hankies on his website shop. The aim of playing an album for the first time without knowing what would come next is mission accomplished.  The bright shuffle of ‘The Dubbing Artist’ hides a deeper significance and contemporary themes are visiting on the self explanatory ‘Korean Girl In A Waiting Room’, the almost obligatory migrancy commentary on ‘Perseus And Lampedusa’. Amidst all there’s an optimism – and plenty to think about.


Just missed The Abrams playing in Manchester at Gullivers as part of their ‘Continental Drifters’ tour – no relation to the suave doo wappers who hit our charts in . The self titled six track EP from the duo might open with a ‘We Will Rock You’ drum beat, but very soon settles into a smooth and very radio friendly country pop. Producer Gavin Brown take a bow. Some way from their roots from covering Dylan and Woody Guthrie, in the hands of Gary Barlow and whoever’s left in Take That or one of those fabuliciously supertastic  boy bands, this would be ideal chart / music video material. At least it’s a bit more seasonal mood inducing  than the stair rods currently bouncing off our roof.


Apologies for harping on and there’s no commission involved, there’s a chance I may get to catch Merlyn Driver supporting current Folk Awards best band  The Furrow Collective – yes, at folk centre of the north, Bury Met. For no other reason (apart from seeing The Furrows) other than to check out the claim of hearing some more “Sami joik, rough textures and buzzy timbres.” A fascination with the ‘buzz aesthetic’ apparently. Plus a custom built percussion desk for live performance. The aptly titled  ‘This Is The Corner Of A Larger Field’ EP gives a flavour of what in simpler terms is the folk music of Scotland and Orkney – perhaps not appearing as exotic and wide ranging as his background and influences. Baker Lane’ recalls Neil Young’s ‘Harvest Moon’ vibe and  when he sings “All we need is a little bit of rain” in, erm,  ‘Rain’  it raises a smile… alongside a measure of bemusement at the mysterious   7 minutes of  ‘The Wild Man Warms’.


Dark folk – or ‘folk noir’ is the much trendier term that describes ‘An Introduction To Failure’ by Daudi Matsiko. Eight songs, it collects the material from his first two EPs, making a double EP apparently…or a debut album? Semantics…I digress. The quiet and sparse arrangements, the occasional squeaky fingers on the guitar strings display an intimacy that’s born of a set of bandwagonesque eclecticy. John Coltrane, Mogwai, trip hop and Radiohead  might be difficult to spot in a set of up close, personal and intimate acoustic narratives. “You Can Do Better Than Me But I Hope You Don’t’ is typical of what he calls  “a cathartic intention”; his writing a form of therapy and totally at odds with the wild pen sketch portrait on the sleeve.


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About the Author

Andy Barnes, Nigel Cartner & Mike Ainscoe collectively post under the Sonic Bandwagon profile. Our individual pieces of written reviews can be found within SB Press

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