Wednesday, 23 January 2019

Dylan Rodrigue - Cat's Game

California calling! An empathetic fusion of country, indie and alt-rock.

The “singer-songwriter” tag often carries a lot of baggage and can provoke a bunch of unwarranted assumptions. Bob Dylan's protest years and the sensitive, confessional musings of James Taylor and Jackson Browne, as good as they were, have left a mark on expectations from the term. But the truth is that singer-songwriters, much like folk music itself, represent an extremely broad church. It's a point encapsulated on Cat's Game, the debut album by Dylan Rodrigue.

Forget the cliché of one bloke with an acoustic guitar singing of personal pain (though Rodrigue is adept at that too). Cat's Game is a record that moves from full-steam indie-rock, punkish rampages, a few alt-rock shapes and even throws in a charming acoustic duet. All in all a varied musical selection box and like some of those chocolates consumed over the winter holidays it's a album with hard outer edges but with a soft emotional centre. Empathetic post-rock may be the most apt description if you're looking for caterogisation, most strongly evidenced on 'Living In Color', a call for more nuanced understanding and less polarisation. Other standouts include 'Some Kind Of Heaven' which sounds like a long-lost acoustic track by Big Star, and the downbeat indie rock of 'Minimize The Damage'.

So that's the songwriting but what about the singing? Rodrigue's voice is a distinct and unique instrument in itself. Lived-in without being overly gravelly, very likable and utterly convincing. His is a voice that favours passion over perfection. Fans of Pavement, Elliott Smith and Kurt Cobain will find in Rodrigue a similarly talented and distinctive artist.

To become a songwriter when your name is Dylan is a tough gig – after all there's a lot to live up to there! Which may or not have been at the back of Rodrigue's mind when making the video for 'Self-Love'. There's a sly nod to his Bob-ness in the video with Rodrigue using the card and caption technique pioneered by the-artist-formerly-known-as-Zimmerman on the promo film for 'Subterranean Homesick Blues'. You can enjoy the video below. Enjoy!

Click here for Dylan Rodrigue's website.
Click here for Dylan Rodrigue on Facebook.
Click here for Dylan Rodrigue on Instagram
Clickhere for Bad Paintings Records.

Thursday, 10 January 2019

Nick Nicely - All Along The Watchtower

Nicely does new stuff to Hendrix doing Dylan! And then presses it onto 7” vinyl!

Another ace 7” single in the latest batch of releases from Fruits de Mer is this newie from Nick Nicely, the dude behind '49 Cigars' which we wrote about some time ago. Not one for doing covers this take on 'All Along The Watchtower' comes as a surprise albeit a very welcome and rewarding one. Take a sneaky preview via the video below. And here's Nick with a summary of how it came to pass...

“I don't do covers generally, but for one of Pete Bingham (Sendelica) and Keith FdM's festivals I thought something familiar might prevent people drifting off and be an opportunity to swap guitar licks with ol' mucka Paul Simmons from The Bevis Frond, on a twin lead section. Never made the festival and anyway the Frond were there on a different day, so all dreams turned to ashes...til Keith suggested releasing the 'irreverent' Watchtower backing tapes plus studio vocals, guitar and effects. 'Doors Of Perception' is similarly constructed with tapes from my current live show plus studio vocals and guitar, so the pair connect well. We all have boundaries but when it comes to making Fruits de Mer Records I feel duty bound to go to the edges of mine...two tracks born out of live, flying their freak flags along my sonic borders!”

When you think of the stature that artists such as Dylan and Hendrix have, you'd have to be either very foolish, brave, talented or secure in your own artistic vision. Fortunately it's the latter two traits for Nicely. His re-imagining of 'Watchtower' owes little to either the Dylan or Hendrix version, is heavy on textures and effects and comes with features stellar guitar wig-outs and vocoder vocals.

The single's flipside is a similarly glorious sonic excursion. 'The Doors Of Perception' is like a gospel song given an electronic makeover, if you can imagine such a thing. Best listened to loud with headphones on and the lights low. Nicely does it indeed!

Click here for Nick Nicely on Facebook.
Click here for Fruits de Mer Records.