Wednesday, 13 November 2019

Jesper Lindell – Everyday Dreams

A debut album packed with warm sentiments and timeless soul 'n' blues.

There are so many artists around today who take inspiration from the classic soul and blues era of the fifties and sixties that the vintage tag has become almost meaningless. Timeless would be a more apt description and one that fits well for this debut album by Sweden's Jesper Lindell. Full of that subtle sympathetic musicianship we've come to expect from Swedish musicians, Everyday Dreams is equal parts classic mid '60s Stax/Volt and gently rolling blues, with shades of Van Morrisson's Tupelo Honey and artists such as Leon Bridges, The Black Keys and Ray LaMontagne.

It's a record full of warm sentiments and soulful vocals. Lindell's blue-eyed soul voice that takes centre stage and carries the album from start to finish, equally at home on the uptempo numbers as it is on the album's softer, more intimate tracks. Lindell has obviously immersed himself in that great wealth of music that America has produced. Everyday Dreams draws from the deep well of soul, blues, country, folk and gospel. Admirably Lindell doesn't try to reinvent the wheel. There are no boundary-pushing production techniques or ill-advised genre mash-ups, just great songwriting, well-produced and great performances from all the musicians involved.

Perfect Sunday evening listening for these dark winter nights. Get your fire lit, crack open a bottle of something nice and kick back with your loved one with this album playing. As Lindell sings on 'France' - “I'll I wanna do is spend my time drinking wine with you.” What could be better.

Click here Jesper Lindell's website.
Click here for Jesper Lindell on Facebook.
Click here for Jesper Lindell on Instagram.
Click here for Alive Records.

Crystal Jacqueline and The Honey Pot – I Talk To The Wind (Ltd. Colour 2x7”)

Five songs, two pieces of vinyl, one mighty fine release. Wiltshire's finest cover some psych 'n' prog deep cuts.

Another November release for the ever-expanding Fruits de Mer discography is this double 7” from Crystal Jacqueline and The Honey Pot. I'm chuffed to bits because they've chosen to cover one of my personal '60s nuggets. 'Sun Goes Down' was the B-side to Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich's 1967 single 'Zabadak'. On the rare occasions I been known to dust down my vinyl and DJ down the local boozer, it's a track that always raises approving eyebrows. Someone always asks to know what it is. Top marks then to Jacqueline and The HP for choosing to cover it. They've done a pretty decent job too. Plenty of heavy reverb on the vocals, nifty guitar work from Icasrus Peel, and a nice groove with ace drum fills in the gaps between the verses and choruses. It'll be in my DJ box next time without a doubt!

Also on this release is a version of Traffic's 'Mr. Fantasy', which honours the original in tempo but has a more textural approach – Mellotron, phasing on the guitars and layered echoed vocals. Neat! They also tackle songs by King Crimson ('I Talk To The Wind'), Rare Bird ('Sympathy') and Tonton Macoute ('Dreams') – all fine versions and very much worthy of your attention. 'Sympathy' in particular carries a much needed contemporary message in it's lyrics. The set closes with an epic eight-minute version of Tonton Macoute's 'Dreams'. I'm not familiar with the original so can't tell you how it differs but suffice to say CJ & The HP's version is a spirited affair full of tension and drama. Another fab FdM release.

1. Mr Fantasy
2. I Talk To The Wind
3. Sun Goes Down
4. Sympathy
5. Dreams

Click here for Crystal Jacqueline on Twitter.
Click here for Fruits de Mer Records.

Sunday, 10 November 2019

Various – Sunny Spells (Ltd. Col 7” EP)

Four song EP out now! A taster for Fruits de Mer's epic 3CD compilation set for release next spring!

One of the finest compilations from recent times must surely be Fruits de Mer's The Three Seasons – Songs from 1966-68, featuring all your favourite psych-friendly bands covering their most-loved '60s tracks. If you missed it first time round, the good news is the label is releasing an extended 3CD version next year. Re-titled The Four Seasons 1966-69 it will contain all the tracks that made the original 3LP set such a joy, along with a bunch of new recordings. As a taster of things to come this four-song 7” extended player is available from the label as of right now. The artists featured are Chad & Jeremy, Schizo Fun Addict, Hanford Flyover and Us And Them
Sixties legends Chad & Jeremy give us an acoustic re-recording of 'Rest In Peace', a track originally featured on their 1967 album Of Cabbages And Kings. Schizo Fun Addict offer up a dreamy psychedelic take on 'Dedicated To The One I Love', a classic track originally by the Mamas and Papas. Hanford Flyover are a new band to me, as is the band they've chosen to cover (Neon Pearl). On the strength of their track on the EP, a stately and elegant slice of folk-rock, both bands warrant further investigation. You can find out more on Hanford Flyover via their Bandcamp page. Regular readers of this 'ere blog may be familiar with Swedish duo Us And Them. For this record they've recorded a fabulously mellow version of Neil Young's 'What Did You Do To My Life?' 

I know we've only just put the clocks back but spring ain't that far away. And with the promise up a new compilation from FdM there's something else along with warmer days and brighter nights to look forward to. Bring it on!

1. Chad & Jeremy – 'Rest In Peace'
2. Schizo Fun Addict – 'Dedicated To The One I Love'
3. Hanford Flyover – 'Just Another Day'
4. Us And Them – 'What Did You Do To My Life'

Click here for Fruits de Mer Records.

Wednesday, 6 November 2019

Vinny Peculiar – While You Still Can

Election special! Mr. Peculiar captures the nation's mood.

There are certain artists who don't leave you waiting too long for new stuff. Vinny Peculiar being one. Earlier this year he released Return Of The Native, a '70s rock 'n' punk infused belter of a album that tackled themes such as local school rivalries, laments for lost music venues, and the love life of an English civil war battle re-enactor. Intelligent, engaging and great fun, it 's a record full of humour, warmth and just the right amount of pathos. Hot on the heels of Native comes this brand new collection (his thirteenth), an somewhat darker set of songs for the most part centred on UK politics. Where our man expresses understandable disappointment with our political class, their egos and foibles, and the current standard of debate. A righteously cynical swipe.

Vinny has been likened to Jarvis Cocker, Roger McGough, Ray Davies, Morrissey and Tony Hancock, all comparisons with a ring of truth, but really there's no-one quite like him, and certainly no-one on today's scene as prolific or as sharply acerbic. 'Vote For Me' sets the tone, a perfectly timed track for the run-up to next month's general election. Over a haunting piano Peculiar plays the part of an election candidate making a series of promises and dissing his opponents. 'Pop Music For Ugly People' follows, a driving rocky number with more of Vinny's dry wit.

Other tracks taking political aim include 'Diane Abbott Takes A Selfie' which pokes fun at the vanity of our political class. A much needed swipe that makes a serious point, still manages to be funny, and sits atop a great Bowie-esque backing. 'Culture Vulture' mixes Led Zeppelin riffs with funk-rock basslines and references I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here, Shakespeare and Sean Ryder.

'Ministry Of Fate' has an '80s electronic pop feel that brings to mind OMD, a cool catchy number that shows Vinny's lyrical skills are matched by his ability to knock out a decent pop tune. On more familiar territory is 'Man Out Of Time', where our dude finds himself recalling some high points of '70s pop, a neat mood-lifting track that recalls the themes and obsessions that runs through his previous work, most notably on his 2011 album Other People Like Me.

The album ends with 'Let Them Take Drugs', a song which makes the point that religion is no longer the opiate of the masses. That honour now goes to opiates. “Wasted people carry no threat” sings Vinny. How quickly people in power will write off sections of society they consider to have no worth. You might want to think about that next time you see the shamefully familiar sight of strung-out addicts hanging around your city's centre.

Considering most people dry up creatively before they reach their thirteenth album, Vinny seem to be settling into his stride. While You Still Can may come to be recognised as his most serious and political album to date, addressing the nation's strange state with wit, humour and intelligence. Let's hope his next missive reaches us soon, and that when it does, the country will be heading in a more positive direction.

Click here for Vinny Peculiar's website.
Click here for Vinny Peculiar on Twitter.
Click here for Vinny Peculiar on Facebook.