Sunday 27 March 2022

Mattiel - Georgia Gothic

This is the third Mattiel album, and the first where Mattiel Brown and Jonah Swiller have directly collaborated face-to-face in building a  collection of 11 songs.  And that collaboration has added more diversity and experimentation into the mix, where before they were perhaps aiming for a template or soundscape or atomosphere.
And it is the diversity of influence and delivery that wins for this record.  At times introspective, the next moment is joyous and bristling with a euphoric pop-ish sheen.

Retro garage sound takes (slight) a back seat in favour of broader styles including Country and Spaghetti Western moments - both of which showcase Mattiel's vocal abilities.
Too simplistic perhaps - there are many influences going on in here, and not always easy to divine.  But combined together it just seems to weave into a very fine whole.

And continuing to be simplistic, it's a bit like Siouxsie Sioux meets Goldrapp with bit of First Aid Kit and Ennio Morricone thrown in for good measure.

"Jeff Golblum" stomps along like a Glam Infused Indie Rocker, "On The Run" drips with Country, and "Lighthouse" is infectious euphoric pop with a massive hook of a chorus - and that's just the first three tracks.
Admittedly not everything works - "Wheels Fall Off" sounds like the wheels might be falling off, and I'm not sure if "Subterranean Shut In Blues" is an update/re-write of (can you guess which Dylan track?) "Subterranean Homesick Blues", or what it's trying to achieve.  Nice enough, but for me (based on 3 listens) not essential.
In spite of that, there are enough varying style highs to warrant repeated listening and repeated enjoyment - pick of the other tracks are the brooding "Blood In The Yolk" and the psychedelicy "You Can Have It All" which most definitely are essential listening.


You Can Have It All

Blood In The Yolk

Tuesday 15 March 2022

Bryan Ferry - Dylanesque

The first few Bob Dylan songs I heard were probably "Mr Tambourine Man" by The Byrds, "This Wheels On Fire" by Julie Driscoll and Brian Auger, "The Mighty Quinn" by Manfred Mann, "Knocking On Heaven's Door" by Eric Clapton, "All Along The Watchtower" by Jimi Hendrix, and "A Hard Rain's Gonna Fall" by Roxy Music.
Thing is, I didn't register these as Bob Dylan songs until a bit later.  I liked the songs, and others I'd hear with the writers name of "Dylan", but never really felt the need to dig in further.
The first Bob Dylan album I bought was 'Greatest Hits' - a CBS Nice Price re-issue of the 1967 album.

The Dylan Door opened and I stepped through.  One of the first purchases was 'Blonde On Blonde' - which may not have been a great place to start as I stepped out of the door again.
Over time though, more Dylan albums have arrived and over time been greatly enjoyed - they seem to worm there way in, rather than give an instant hit.  Still not sure about 'Blondes On Blonde' though.

Much as I like the collected works of Mr Zimmerman, I can't help thinking that the works of Dylan may be more palatable when delivered by other voices.
(although I've never found better versions of "Tangled Up In Blue" or "Shelter From The Storm" than the originals on 'Blood On The Tracks').

Bryan Ferry takes that (personal) truism, and delivers an album of 11 tracks in familiar surroundings, but different enough to go "yup, that's a cracking version".  The histrionics of Roxy Music's "A Hard Rains Gonna Fall" are stripped away, and the track choices are delivered with a certain Ferry-ish Lounge Lizard, Velvet lapels, Dinner Suited chic.

It may not be challenging,and you the listener may think "The Byrds did that better", "nah .. the Jimi Hendrix version is definitive", "I still prefer the Sisters Of Mercy version" (OK, not everyone will agree with that last one).
But what Bryan Ferry does it not try to top previous versions, merely add to the legend (of possibly both himself and Bob Dylan).

In summary:

  • If you like Bob Dylan than you'll probably enjoy the album to hear these songs rendered in a new way.
  • If you only have a passing acquaintance with Bob Dylan, then this album acts as a way in to some of the perhaps lesser known works.
  • If you don't like Bob Dylan, but want some un-challenging background soundtrack for whatever un-challenging activity you are doing, then this album might just fit the bill

The Times They Are A Changing

Knockin On Heavens Door

Positively 4th Street

Hmmm ... I wonder if there a series to be had here - The Covers Album Project

Saturday 5 March 2022

Yard Act - The Overload

 After a couple of single releases in 2020, and then a couple more in 2021, Yard Act release their debut album.  And there's a lot stuffed into the 37 minutes.

From the start "spiky Post Punk" is a catch-all description - yet does no favours in explaining the breadth of sounds and influence on display.
It's easy to roll out the comparisons - The Fall, Sleaford Mods, even a touch of Parquet Courts due to the melange of styles on offer.  And despite being from Leeds, there's a certain Nigel Blackwell-esque Half Man Half Biscuit tone to the part spoken/part sung (spung?) vocal delivery and lyrical content.
And in a world of reductive comparisons (maybe more in tone and attitude, than sound), I'll also cite another Leeds band who arrived with a seemingly fully formed debut album - The Kaiser Chiefs
But all those (and more) are bound together to become Yard Act.

Whilst there may be a lot going on in some of tracks, it all works and the album is full of confidence, much humour, even a bit of social comment, and a couple of deeply burying ear-worms.

I may only have one new album so far with a 2022 date stamp (this one) so I can confidently say that at this moment it is the Album Of The Year.  In 12 months time though ... I'm sure it will still be up there, if only for containing the perfectly observed rhyming couplet (in response to Brexit):

Are you seriously still trying to kid me, that our culture will be just fine.  When all that's left is knobheads morris dancing to Sham 69?

The Overload


Tall Poppies