Sunday, August 25, 2013

EP Review: Caught In The Wake Forever - All The Hurt That Hinders Home

Caught In The Wake Forever released this EP in 2011.  It opens with Recorded With You In Mind, a slow, melancholic, sparse tune where different elements are added gradually, creating something of a symphonic effect.  The rest of the EP is mostly in line with this: Fragments Turn To Dust opens with a scratchy guitar, Mount Batten Ferry adds piano to the recorded sounds of a Geiger counter.  I Have Nothing Left To Give You and For Those Left Along The Way use a droning keyboard to frame the deftly plucked guitar and piano.
And when you tire of these, there are remixes of each track, which bring something new to the table in each instance.  The standout of these is the Jonnie Common remix of I Have Nothing Left To Give You Anymore, which adds incongruous electronic effects.  If you like ambient music, Fraser McGowan shows an inventive approach throughout this EP.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Album Review: The Savings and Loan - Today I Need Light

There's a long line of miserabilist bands, too numerous to mention here, which generally featured a brooding, baritone singer.  Current exponents of this would be Tindersticks, The National and you can add Scotland's The Savings and Loan to this list.  Consisting of singer Martin Donnelly and Andrew Bush who appears to do the fancy stuff, their debut full length, Today I Need Light opens with the slow, deliberate guitar strum of Swallows.  Vaguely reminiscent of Nick Cave, with a dash of Fearghal McKee thrown in, it sets a mood which is unyielding throughout the nine tracks found here, The Virgin's Lullaby and Catholic Boys In The Rain are an even more Cave-sounding tracks.
Some steel guitar gives a country feel to a couple of the tracks here like the weary Lit Out where Donnelly is "tired of London and tired of life", while Her Window and the prettily snail-paced Met (a Storm) features a nice bit of brass, not a million miles away from Tindersticks.  On the opposite end of the scale there's a black as coal version of Star of the County Down, which has a curious charm to it.
The album finishes with perhaps its finest song A Pleasing Companion which I can only describe as like an unholy marriage of Richmond Fontaine and Lou Reed in his Berlin period.  The album doesn't reinvent the wheel but it doesn't pretend to either.  Simply, a bunch of melancholic tunes that sit well with fans of moody rock.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Album Review: Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Tender Prey

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds released Tender Prey in 1988.  The album is dominated by opening track The Mercy Seat, a classic Cave malevolent stomping tale of death row, "the face of Jesus in my soup" before concluding "I'm not afraid to die".  Try following that.  Listening to this album now, you can hear Cave inventing his trademark sound, snarling through Up Jumped The Devil: "who's that yonder all in flames, up jumped the devil and staked his claim" as creepy piano and xylophones provide the music.
Watching Alice is the type of pretty piano ballad Cave does so well, and he plays a fine harmonica midway through.  Mercy is a sort of melodramatic ballad where the band's vocals play fast and loose with actually staying in tune.  Cave breaks out his harmonica again on the Doors-meets-Joy Division of City of Refuge.  Mick Harvey's bassline is practically a Peter Hook homage on the chorus.  What follows, torch song Slowly Goes The Night, sees Nick Cave practically crooning his way through a fine melody.
The melodies throughout the album are really strong, from the strutting Sunday's Slave to the almost jaunty singalong of New Morning, making this an essential Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds album.