Thursday, 9 April 2020

Stephen EvEns - Dustbin Man

Timely tribute to society's key workers. A taster from Stephen Evens' forthcoming full-length LP.

We're hearing a lot about key workers at the moment. That concept along with “fabric of society” and “all in it together” has come to define the age. Celebrating so-called ordinary workers will no doubt be claimed by the Tories as their idea. Anyone slightly attuned to the politics of the past decade will know how bogus and ridiculous that claim is. 'Dustbin Man' is a track by Stephen Evens, released today but recorded well before the coronavirus crisis. What remarkable empathy, sympathy and prescience it shows. Not only that but it damn well rocks too! A post-punk bovver-boy groove, heavy bass, and shrewdly astute lyrics. Stephen very kindly told us about how the song came to be -

"I’ve worked as a dustman, really. When I was a student. I lasted 2 days. I was rubbish.

When I wrote this song, quite while back, there’s no way in hell I could have predicted what was going to occur. But it looks like I have. I always knew I was special.

It’s a celebration of all those people who do the jobs you can’t and/or don’t want to do. They deserve you love and respect and a bloody great big pay rise."

The song is taken from Stephen EvEns' forthcoming album Employee Of The Month (to be released on Onomatopoeia Records on June 5th). More about that fine album to follow nearer the release date. 

Stephen also plays Online Balcony Festival this weekend, on Saturday April 11th, kick-off 1pm, to raise money for NHS Charities Together – he will be performing at 3:30pm on the GigSlutz stage for more info see here -

Play the track loud and raise a glass to your fellow workers. Underpaid maybe, but dignified and valued now as never before. Respect.

Click here for Stephen EvEns on Twitter.
Click here for Stephen EvEns on Facebook.
Click here for Onomatopoeia Records.

Wednesday, 8 April 2020

Various - A Band For All Seasons (4CD)

Hugely enojoyable 4CD set of psych covers.

The promo of this set landed through my letterbox a few weeks back in the era now described as “pre-lockdown”. Since then the world appears to have shifted on its axis and we have this new strange reality. Given the gravity of the situation, what seemed important before the coronavirus crisis hit can now seem trivial, and it's tempting to put music in that box, along with football, luxury food items, and whether or not ITV is able to film Coronation Street. But, there's a counter argument - culture helps us make sense of the world, it keeps us sane, occupied, and entertained. That vital role should not be underestimated. Before the lockdown, I enjoyed listening to this set very much on my daily commute. Since then it's become something of a talisman to help me get through each day. I think you would enjoy it too.

Anyway I'll shut up about the coronavirus now and tell you about this compilation. Fruits de Mer released an amazing triple vinyl compilation a couple of years back. The Three Seasons featured 27 tracks, all covers of songs from the years 1967, 1968 and 1969. It sold out almost instantly so if you want a copy, be prepared to pay an inflated price via Discogs. The good news is that FdM released an expanded 4CD edition at the end of March under the title A Band For All Seasons: Songs From the Four Seasons of Love 1966-1969. The collection features a mind-blowing 61 tracks, many from HD-approved acts such as Moon Goose, Crystal Jacqueline, Schizo Fun Addict, Fuschia,Jack Ellister, Anton Barbeau and Nathan Hall. But that's just the tip of this iceberg.

Expect to hear well known psych-pop tracks getting a modern makeover along with lesser known gems that will open up new avenues of discovery. If, like myself you missed out on the pychedelic era by being born too late, this compilation will take you down musical rabbit-holes you never even knew existed and be introduced to a globe-spanning array of current bands who are not only enthralled by music from the late-'60s but use it as a starting point to take their own music to new and exciting places. Also included is a 24 page booklet to aid your enlightenment. Joy doesn't even begin to describe. A quick look at the FdM website tells me it's now sold out via their mail-order, though you should hopefully be able to track down a copy via secondary sellers.

Click here for Fruits de Mer Records.

Click over the jump below to see the full tracklisting.

Saturday, 4 April 2020

Datura4 - West Coast Highway Cosmic

 Australian boogie rockers head for the open road on their fourth LP.

You don't miss the water till the well runs dry. So goes the old adage. As we're all currently under lockdown, the idea of travel, heading out on to the open road for adventure, purposeful travel and general fun suddenly seems like a privilege from a lost era. Fitting then that my listening album of choice this week has been the newie by Australian rockers Datura4. West Coast Highway Cosmic is a celebration of travel, rendered in old school boogie blues rock. The kind of album that sounds best when played loud. What better way to annoy your neighbours!

I greatly enjoyed last year's Blessed Is The Boogie. This latest release follows on almost a year to the day, and represents an extension and expansion of the band's trademark boogie rock sound, in no small part due to the input of new members Bob Patient (keys) and Howie Smallman (harmonica). For a little history of the band and to find out what sparked bandleader Dom Mariani's love of rock music you can look back to my review for Blessed Is The Boogie.

West Coast Highway Cosmic finds our heroes stretching out musically building on their firm solid rock foundations. The opening title track begins with scene-setting Hammond chords and swooping Moog notes before the guitars and drums kick in to hurtle you off at high speed down the cosmic highway. The track was written in honour of the studios the band have used over the course of their recording career, situated 124 miles apart along the south western Australian coast.

'Wolfman Woogie' is a no-nonsense brooding blues rock track, enhanced by Smallman's harmonica. The in-the-pocket groove dropping away to leave space for Mariani's riffs. Also worth checking for its heavy Hammond solo and wah-wah guitar workout. In fact the whole record has guitar heroics that will have bedroom players the world over wide-eyed in wonderment. The cleverly layered parts perfected by Mariani over a lifetime playing shows around his home turf since his youth.

The new textures brought by new keyboardist Bob Patient allow the band to build on the sound of their previous outings, but make no mistake this is a rock record with a capital R, one informed by the heavy rock gods of the 1970s – Sabbath, Zep, Lizzy, Purple, ZZ Top. 'You're The Only One' takes the pace down a little, a low-key swampy blues number redolent of the Mississipi Delta. There are those that say rock is long dead. On the evidence here don't believe it.

Click here for Datura4 on Twitter.
Click here for Datura4 on Facebook.
Click here for Alive Records.