Friday, August 30, 2013

No more reviews from this blog!!!

Obviously my hiatus has turned into a marathon so I guess I may as well close this blog to ALL requests.  I may come back to it in the future, that was always my intention anyway, but until then I am accepting NO review submissions.  I'm leaving the reviews and blog online as a resource but if I am still getting swamped by requests I will have to close it all down.

So, to summarize, this blog is effectively CLOSED for the time being, please no more submissions

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

A brief hiatus...

Or this reviewer needs a break already...

You may have noticed I haven't posted for a while, I am taking a bit of a back seat right now because of real world issues.  ALL trakcs presently in my mailbox/review list WILL get reviews - just might take a little longer.

In the meantime I am suspending any new review requests until I get fully caught up.  So PLEASE, no more submissions.

Normal service, as they say, will be resumed shortly.  Thanks for bearing with me.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Steff Adams - Tunings EP

Hear The Track Here

Told you, I'd get to Steff Adams in the last review (of fellow Welshmen Dead Shed Jokers) didn't I? Welp, here the rascal is. Whadda mean, who he?? For the record Steff Adams made a HUGE impression on me with his Blue Pathways CD (April 2010) which subsequently became one of my Tracks Of The Year 2010 and why, you may ask? Because the man is plain just very good at his job, said job being songwriter and singer (let's leave aside all the technical crap most people wouldn't understand anyway) and - believe me - that's a hard one to nail. After all, the world we live in is infested with singer/songwriters, now more so than ever before, so why on earth should we listen to another one? No matter how benevolent I seem, I do guard myself in choosing tracks of the year, they really have to be the best of the best - otherwise there is no point.

No huge surprise then that I fretted this one down the all-consuming Rebel Riffs review list...

Musically, Steff falls into the Beatles acoustic period perfectly, and he has the plain, uncompilcated songs to prove it. I think that even Sir Paul (Ed: good day your majesty) would have a wry chuckle at hearing Hectic Day (the opening track), so comparable the styles. If, however, it looks like Steff is (as it were) milking it a bit, you need to listen closer (and probably more often) than a driveby. That was one of the things Blue Pathways taught me, you really have to let this stuff settle to its own level which means giving it time to establish its true identity. As obvious as the Beatle connection is, that's merely a by-product of Steff's own roots and culture and it's as a songwiter that he really shines. See the same charge could be leveled at our old friend 333maxwell (who would like much of this collection), but as Max most ably shows; it's just the way these guys sound. Damn, they should form a band called Not The Beatles!! We could make a fortune!!! Eerrrr guys (Ed: calm Gilmore, calm)

I wrote 'the emphasis for Steff is most definitely acoustic based pop' in my previous review and nothing on Tunings changes that statement. The shared details are all still in place; an awesome (and home produced) production and arrangement job and some absolutely cracking songs. If I had to pick a standout track on this excellent five track EP I'd pick the short but sweet Bus Stop, an effective and efficient use of all the tools he has available, and it works beautifully. No, it isn't because it's the shortest track on the EP but because IMO it says exactly what Steff Adams is about. There is a huge market for beatle-ish music and there is no doubt in my mind that Steff Adams is a prime exponent in keeping the flame alive and more power to him.

Highly Recommended pop rock.

Dead Shed Jokers - Peyote Smile Album

Hear The Track Here

'The average man spends just under a year of his life in his shed' says an informative source of trivia. However, no other nation loves their shed like the English love theirs. Shed in this case meaning a small wooden building, generally situated in the garden (or whatever passes for one) and can look like this (ie English) or even that (everyone else) For the English musician though, as small and dismal as some of these sheds can be, they are tremendous places for creating a studio on the cheap. Long term readers will remember me waxing lyrical about the joys of The Shed a few years back, that's the Irish band btw, not the actual wooden thing they worked out of. Now along come The Dead Shed Jokers and if the cover of this is anything to go by, they made it in the absolute grungiest shed they could find. Surely, though, that's the point of it? Down and dirty...?

(waggles hand) wellllll, kinda/sorta...

These shedded jokers happen to come Wales, a land which grows a great many good musicians. First to spring to my mind is Steff Adams (of which more later) closely followed by Maddie Jones; both of them breath-takingly (Ed: that's not a word!) good in their different ways so I'm getting a bit partial to the Welsh... If'n ya don't believe me and you like a nice slab of steaming hot rock dumped in your lap, then grab a listen to Dead Shed Jokers. Garage bands? Pffffttt. Shed rock mate!! ******* A!! I remember reading somewhere that the blurb promised 'a pure headbangers delight' from this band and - for once - they live up to the hype; down, dirty rock so in-your-face it's pressing against the back of your skull. Peyote Smile is a thirteen track album that pretty much covers all the rock bases so it should appeal to anyone with even the vaguest interest in the genre. Rock as it should be.

After continued exposure, when the cracks usually appear, I'm still liking what I heard and yeah, doing a bit of head nodding because - whatever else - these boys know their roots and are busily regenerating them in some magic rock tracks. As I said, they cover a lot of ground so you are bound to stumble across the odd nod to the greats, and that - to me - is what makes what the Jokers do something special. Each track has something to offer, a different approach significantly aided by the production qualities that spell less is more. Kinda hard then to pick a favourite and here I sit many plays later wondering if I even had a favourite track. Sure, some of them stuck out - Magic Teatime, Jericho, Too Quick For Comfort and the sheer **** you of Tabloid Hangover - but truthfully there isn't a bad track here. If anyone out there is wondering where the spirit of rock and roll is, you definitely need to listen to Tabloid Hangover.

MUST HAVE and Classic Rock gone mental.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Starbus - Obvious Ghosts

Hear The Track Here

Might be a new name to you but not if I change it slightly to read HELLbus, for this is the band new vehicle employed by one Jon Partlelow, a certifiable Soundclick legend. He started with HELLbus and the awesome Table Fate (January 2006) - which to this day is one of my favourite tracks - and although it was being sold for moola at the time I felt I had to urge people to hear it, simply because it was soooo different to almost everything out there. The same held true for his second major outing with the justly famed Can't Stop The Daggers, and if you don't recognise that name you to brush up on your internet history. Sadly, CSTD broke up om 2009 and although I've reviewed a couple of Partelow inspired tracks since then, this is brand new..

God, i'm soooo excited...I do enjoy it when old friends come by.

The reason for my excitement is that I understand that experience really does count and you can never tell what someone you think you know is likely to come up with, and it's nice to see a musician of Jon's calibre coming back into the Soundclick fold. First and foremost Jon's songwriting was the most impressive feature in earlier guises, and its assumes greater importance with an impressive production, although its a bit sparing about the air between things, ya know what I mean? Me, I'm a firm believer in the use of reverb and echo to bring our the nuances in a track, but that unfortunately a sound much heard in today's 'indie' world. Speaking of which, wtf does indie mean anyway? To me it should say indie(pendent minded) because - to me anyway - they are the only ones I am likely to take seriously.

As always with a new one from an old face (and friend) there's always that secret dread that somehow this one will turn out to be a dud, and I'd have to say so. Thankfully there aren't many veterans who let me down and certainly not Jon Partelow (and whatever bus he's riding on). Obvious Ghosts shows both the songwriting quality and musical/production ability to fully realise a dream, and it shows in every note. You might have heard something similar to this for sure, but that's my point. This is as good as anything out there in the ****** up 'indie' world. (Ed: he even said that with sneer) Quality counts.

MUST HAVE independent minded pop

Brandon Nicholas Pfeltz - Burn The Maps

Hear The Track Here

Last track from Soundclick this month is not only a new name to me but a track truly worthy of the Acoustic Folk tag - for a change. Folk, like a lot of genres, has become incredibly porous but there will only be one sound of folk for me and that simple; one man/woman, one guitar and a clutch of fine tunes that say things the listener then feels. It's why it's been around longer than just about any other form of music, although - as I say - the term has become much abused these days. The ultimate folk hero still is, I think, early Bob Dylan. Here was a musician on fire at what was happening around him, and he used just his voice and his songs to do something about it. But what songs, powerful, biting social commentary, insanely catchy singalongs...

Don't be looking so pale. I am not about to commit the sin of comparing Brandon to Dylan because it plain wouldn't be fair. Although he shares a lot of things it's only because Dylan invented that style and you can't help it. As a songwriter and performer, Brandon is surprisingly confident and there's a good song at the heart of it - a tale of leaving places that have become too familiar, reaching out into the darkness for something new or different. To me, that's always an excellent subject to explore and Brandon makes a really good impression, always a problem with folk I find.

Never a problem is being able to figure out the lyrics, for me the main point in the genre. Face it, if you have nothing to say the last place you would be looking is folk, a genre renowned for it's navel gazing capacity. Give a little time though, and a few plays, a clear picture emerges and it's the tale that finally emerges to grip you. You can picture Brandon's life through this song, and knowing where he is growing up obviously helps me to grasp it better. Nonetheless, this is an excellent and quite refreshing change from the norm, I look forward to hearing some more (Ed: you reviewed him in Sponsored By Poverty (March 2009) too but it probably slipped your increasingly addled brain).

Highly Recommended folk song.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Jakob22 - Make You Smile

Hear The Track Here

I could have sworn that I reviewed something from this hip hop rapper recently but maybe that was just a dream sequence. Speaking of which Dreamstate 2: The REM Effect is the album which Make You Smile is from so we'd best get off that subject before we all nod off. Jakob22 is actually, then, a new name to me but considering the size of Soundclick's hip hop scene that's no surprise at all. Looks like he's only been on Soundclick a while though but long enough to upload a score of tracks (that's 20+ for the mathematically challenged) so obviously he's been making music a while longer.

As you know I am quite immune to the horrors of hardcore rap courtesy of prolonged exposure to people like Whitman Speck and a few others whose names I have forgotten. Not, I hastily add, because the music was rubbish it wasn't (and isn't). It's very good indeed (especially in Whitman's case) but by God it can make you crap your pants in terror from time to time. Of course, what I should have done is to read the musicians comments because a line like ' is a love song like only Jakob22 can make. A new meaning to love from afar' Funny thing is, it's actually pretty decent, although I'm not sure about the mix. There again, for sure this is not aimed at me.

As I have made clear time and time again, I don't particularly like the softer lovey-dovey side of hip hop and if I have to endure it (Ed: bit strong Gilmore) there better be a good song going with it and this is where Jakob22 nails it. Not sure where the refrain and female vocals come from but I don't think it suffers any for that; in fact the vocals are one of the strongest elements in the track. As much as I don't do lovey-dovey I also don't do guys whispering sweet nothings in my ears, but again Jakob22 made it a relatively painless experience, even after many plays, Be interesting to see what else he's got...

Recommended ohh baby, yeah baby hip hop.

Road Apples - Scottsdale Gurl

Hear The Track Here

My Feminine Advisor (Ed: he means his Mommy) tells me that there are girls and then there are gurls. Girls apparently can't be gurls and vice versa. Girls are giggly, scatterbrained and materialistic to a fault. Gurls just want to be gurls, tough where it matters, feminine when needed and in control of their own lives. No doubt in my mind that Scottsdale (AZ?) has it's share or both but our old friend Road Apples seems to have found the better kind IMHO. Now the whole world (and her sister) are probably coming round to sort me out about the opening comments, I blame Road Apples - he was the one who unearthed such a misbegotten nugget of information.

Road Apples is, of course, a very well known musical figure around Soundclick and elsewhere and the list of great tracks from him (in several guises) is endless. Always worth checking this guy out. Just don't mention the G word. Indie pretty covers what he does, although it in no way describes just how good he is about actualising it. Like a lot of the rock based one man bands on Soundclick Road Apples has matured extremely well and I say this as the person who reviewed August (November 2006) and described it as 'top grade Beatle-ish pop' He's not pinned down to any particular sound and/or influence either and in fact Scottsdale Gurl reminds me very strongly of early Tom Petty both in song construction and execution.

I know full well, with this quality of musician, that making such comparisons is meaningless because we all show our influences from time to time and there is no way it could be construed as copying. Guys like Road Apples don't need to do that, but they do need to show respect for their roots. That, more than anything else, is what separates Road Apples from the run of the mill and why he has so many listeners and fans. Scottsdale Gurl will only go towards that growing reputation as a producer and musician (everything you hear is from him) but - as ever - it's the quality of the songwriting that seals the deal. This is a track that has all the defining qualities that makes rock such a powerful medium. My only regret is that organ SHOULD have been a Hammond. Small grumbles are what I live on innit? ;)

Terrific classic rock song. MUST HAVE.

Rude Corps - Ed Wood

Hear The Track Here

Had to love Adele's rant about 'the suits' in the Brits over the past week, fair brought tears to my eyes to see someone actually saying what they think on prime time TV without having checked it with the producers first. What is it, I am often asked, that made the 1960's and 1970's such a positive golden age for music and the answer is in that first line. People willing to stand up and be counted, to say what they think and act on what they say. See, there was a time (very short admittedly) when WE were the music business and the music reflected that with songs that - literally - changed the world. Of course, then along came the suits and wrested it from us with the notable exceptions of punk and - at a pinch - grunge which wasn't exactly instructional as opposed nihilistic and depressing IMHO. Since then, things have become very tame indeed and it is rare indeed to come across a piece of music that actually says something.

There again, maybe you've never met Rude Corps.

Over the space of dozens of tracks (the man has 411 on his page at the last count) Rude Corps has kept the flame of radical thought alive virtually alone on Soundclick. Certainly there is no-one else on that site that even comes close to the kind of political commentary Rude Corps has become justly famed for - and it definitely helps that he knows his way around music too, some of his track are dynamite in every way. Aaaahh yes, just like the old days. Ed Wood has a reputation as being the 'worst film director in history' and the subject of a biopic featuring Johnny Depp in the title role and also for being the inspiration behind Plan 9 from Outer Space, probably the worst ever B movie in a world of terrible B movies. So bad it was good, know what I mean? Ed Woods story is more relevant these days than ever, here is a guys who just loved what he was doing and wouldn't have it any other way - despite some of the worst criticism known to man.

The story also lends itself to lines like 'I see a new world made of card and plasticine, I see space ships complete with child-proof caps, I see tin-foil dubloons and tea-stained treasure maps' because that accurately describes Wood's 'special effects' So how does Rude Corps choose to musically illustrate this scene? It could only be a weird cross between 1950's faux space sounds (the whirly thing going up and down) and the later spoken word songs that dotted the psychedelic era - all in all very tastefully done. So what about the political diatribes I mentioned early on? What, you don't think the Ed Wood story political? Look again. It's nice when Rude Corps veers off into songwriting and is something I have become used to over the years. Just didn't realise how sharp he was getting at it.

Highly Recommended Hollywood tale.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Cinnabar - The Last Kiss

Hear The Track Here

People often say I am too kind in my reviews but I have to say in my own defence that I don't see it that way. I try my hardest, and always have done, to be scrupulously honest in my reviews, even with musical genres I detest. So, you all know the situation; Gilmore goes off on one of his habitual rants about this or that damned genre and then end up actually giving it a good (if not great) review. Certainly the entire edifice that was previously my eternal hatred of, say, prog rock has been shaken to the core over the past few years and - believe me when I say this - I never thought I would have to admit to such a thing.

Take Cinnabar for example... On the face of it, this is not music I would want to cuddle up to at night, not because it doesn't have all the right attributes but because it just isn't my style. When, however, you put that statement to the test, the five Must Have's I have given them (out of eight tracks) says something entirely different. So, back to being honest. I really am not much interested in music that isn't knuckle-dragging as a personal choice, but I can (and hopefully) do recognise musical quality and that is the reason for the apparent mismatch between what I say and what I do. The Last Kiss, despite being an orchestral instrumental, has all of the quality of sound and vision I have come to expect from Gary Judge and Matt Tyson (collectively Cinnabar).

I don't think it is being kind when I say that this duo have some of the very best music I have heard in genres I can't normally stand and that is an honest fact I consider worth stating. Stringy things (other than guitars that is) normally have me going green and leading to psychotic episodes of mayhem in the streets, so it's quite amazing that Cinnabar manage to keep the beast caged not once, but several times. In fact to the point that The Last Kiss (which apparently cannot be spoken about) has become a bit of a favourite of mine when I need a quiet corner to relax in. Again, not exactly my cup of tea but there is no doubting quality...

Highly Recommended orchestral piece.

Painted Water - The Desert Goddess ft Trina Brunk

Hear The Track Here

Over the space of just three tracks, Painted Water has shown that he not only knows what he's about musically, he can deliver in the production department too. Out of those three tracks two of them got the highest rating from me - Feastia Of The Sun (August 2010) and The Chase (September 2010) - but that is probably down to them being true World music tracks, and you know I am going to like that. The odd man out - Finding Tomorrow (Remastered) (November 2011) - also got a highly recommended and that is pretty good indeed insofar as it's actually an orchestral/symphonic piece and you know I don't usually take to them too kindly.

We've come across Trina Brunk before too, and with pretty much the same effect too. She first came to my attention on Before The 3AM Alarm (January 2011) and Running Free (December 2011) both collaborations with our old friend Charlie A. Trina has the kind of voice I just love, light where it needs to be, forceful when called for and - stylewise anyway - The Desert Goddess draws some interesting parallels with Running Free. Trina sings on The Desert Goddess in much the same style as she chose for Running Free, although with a decidedly Saharan/Arabic feel to it. On Running Free it was the turn of the Native American story and in both cases Trina supplies very subtle shading.

As much as I enjoyed the vocals - and I really did - the real star for me is the musical authenticity on display. As a long time World music exponent I know just how hard a trick this is to pull off. There is no doubt in my mind that Painted Water has a real talent for world music and to my mind, one of the best finds in ages. The Desert Goddess will go a long way to burnishing that already incredible reputation, the addition of Trina's evocative, haunting vocals is truly the icing on an already rich cake. OK, so I am incredibly biased but I would point you at this musicians other tracks as the proof of this statement but IMHO The Desert Goddess is more than enough to hook you in to this excellent musician.

World class World music. MUST HAVE.

Thomas J Marchant - Wager

Hear The Track Here

If anyone who has turned this reviewers head towards the joys (and the not so joyous) sounds of lo-fi it has to be Thomas J Marchant, his retro styling - especially over the past year or so - has been a joy to hear and behold. Never in my wildest dreams would I have said back in the day that I would actually LIKE something that is so decidedly lo-fi and low key, and I certainly would never have tagged Thomas as a future Artist Of The Year (2008 as it happens). My how things change eh? These days it actually hard for Thomas to put a foot wrong, and not just with this reviewer either. Since he changed direction (totally I might add) Thomas has become a regular star on the Soundclick stage, and that is no small beans...

He is also a surprisingly prolific songwriter, giving me on average 10-12 tracks a year which is why he makes so many appearances in these reviews. most of which get either a Highly Recommended or (more usually) a Must Have. It goes without saying then that I am a fan, but what of you? Well, you must like - first and foremost - a good song, delivered in a very idiosyncratic style (there isn't anybody who sounds quite like Thomas that I am aware of) and, of course, have a special liking for the lo-fi end of the musical market. As I say there was a time when, to be honest, I had no time whatsoever for yer basic (live) recording.

Thomas is the guy to change all that fusty attitude. Mind you, he has come some way from his first guitar/voice recordings and - dare I say this - Wager is actually quite a stylish multichannel recording. With all the usual oddities of course. As well as being a kinda/sorta jazzy blues, Wager also touches on an original blues urban myth - that of doing a deal with the Devil a la Robert Johnson illustrated perfectly by Thomas's insouciant, languid vocal delivery and the slow as molasses rhythm. Over the years I have come more and more to recognise what a good lyricist Thomas is and this is right up there with the best of them - well worth the read.

Highly Recommended sleazeball blues.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Moral Factor - Ojos sucios

Hear The Track Here

German Gorchs (aka Moral Factor) is fast becoming a review regular and that's no bad thing. Over the space of half a dozen tracks this Argentinian musician has shown he has some serious chops, Apagando la tele (December 2010) still gets onto my playlist from time to time - an excellent world music track. Funnily enough, world music is not Moral Factor's usual genre, he claims to be alternative acoustic and Ojos sucios shows this to be so. Ojos sucios doesn't mean 'you suck' even though yes, I know it looks like that but according to German's notes it means 'dirty eyes' which is - apparently - a pretty racist comment where he comes from.

Like a great many of us German's recording situation is restricted and usually I try to take that into account but then you get situations where it's in your face enough to matter, as is the case here. Let me be clear though, this is a technical flaw and nothing whatsoever to do with the music - which considering it's a straightforward guitar instrumental isn't too bad at all. The track is essentially two or three acoustic guitars, probably recorded in different sessions and, something I have discovered myself, it's incredibly hard to be accurate doing this. If that is the case, the track tends to sound a bit messy - at least to me.

There again if you like acoustic guitar instrumentals, then I'm sure this will go down a treat despite all my pissing and moaning about something completely out of Moral Factor's control but hey, that's just my opinion. On a material level too, I have heard this guy make better tracks, but there again guitar instrumentals are ten a penny, literally everywhere you look and it takes a Christopher Martin Hansen to turn my head these days. Ojos sucious does have a decent groove and a good idea or two about what works and what doesn't so don't let my boorishness put you off. Too many guitar instrumental reviews will often do that to you.

Recommended Acoustic nonetheless.

Julian Jayme - Smith Drive (Take 1)

Hear The Track Here

A new name to me from Soundclick, and I was beginning to wonder whether this would happen this month. Almost all the new music I am coming across right now is through the Rebelriffs blog which means that either Soundclick is slowly but surely silting up, or I am not as popular on there as I used to be. Now considering that the Soundclick forum list (despite there being no action in the forums) fills up in less than 24 hours, that says something about what is happening on that site - or at least it does to me. Anyway, enough of that. Julian is a musician from Canada who looks to be new to the site, there are only two tracks on the site right now, this one and Cog (live apparently). He says of Smith Drive that he 'wanted to write a jazz tune'. Tough call right there, I thought, especially if you are an acoustic musician.

Which should teach me not to take too much notice of labels because not only is he NOT an acoustic musician, but Smith Drive features a full band and yes, a REAL jazz tune in to the bargain. Now there's a thing. Julian is aided and abetted by Quincy Chimich on keyboards, Rayzel Linag on drums and Angus Lam on bass. Julian supplies the top line guitar parts that are the major feature of the track. Obviously the first frame of reference has to be Wes Montgomery and not just because it's an obvious reference (guitarist, tone, style) but also in the style and content of the overall track.

So Julian wanted to write a jazz tune and I think he's succeeded wonderfully, certainly enough to rekindle my interest in Wes himself (I You Tube'd, how sad is that?) and that has to say something about the man's style (Julian that is...) Smith Drive is, to be honest, a very pleasant surprise indeed and despite it's jazz tag really shouldn't be ignored; there is jazz, and then there is jazz. Way back in the middle of the last century Wes was a guitar god, and Julian has created the moment beautifully and if that sounds highly complimentary that's because it is. Certainly as far as this genre is concerned I often find it hard to get satisfaction from it, but not this time. First class stuff you guys, high fives all round.

MUST HAVE guitar jazz.

Pilesar - Absolute Zero

Hear The Track Here

Here's a turn up for the books. Whenever I see something categorised as 'indietronic' I automatically think of Fear 2 Stop one of the major practitioners of the genre on Soundclick, and yet here is Pilesar piling in with a track too. Actually, it's not too far a stretch between the two styles; they are both really, really weird with Pilesar edging ahead in the OMG-is-it-alive stakes.. Indietronic, in case youse guys was wondering, is a term used to denote music that mixes analog and digital, rock and electronica then throws it all into a massive blender and it comes out the other end squealing like a banshee.

If you think I'm kidding, you haven't heard Fear 2 Stop yet. There again, I'm about to introduce you to Pilesar so it can only get stranger. Actually I have to say I do like this new, improved Pilesar, especially vocally and this - despite it's indietronic patina - is a pretty good rock song in it's own right. Never one to do things in the same way as other mortals, Pilesar takes a destructionist approach to both genres (indietronica and rock) pulling it apart as he goes but in such an involving, entertaining way you could forgive anything. It's also, IMHO, yet another sign that Pilesar is significantly altering his music these days; in any other world I'd say this was a very commercial track.

Seems odd to be applying that kind of comment to someone with the checkered past Master Pilesar has assembled over the years (and years) He's been keeping us in thrall to his electronic and percussive trickery and it's a real eye and ear opener to see him tackling something - to be honest - I never would have had him down for. Mind you, it's results that count and by any standard Absolute Zero is a very credible track indeed and - damn it - you might even be able to sing along to it? What kind of world is it, I ask you, where even the musically insane start composing rock aria's?? All joking aside, for Pilesar fans this is a very special treat and if you've never heard him, this is the safest way to meet him yet. Go. Say hi.

MUST HAVE (absolutely)

Ralph Atkinson - Moonfire Woman

Hear The Track Here

Here's another Soundclick musician who seems to have been around forever and yet my first review of Canada's Ralph Atkinson was with Building A Time Machine (October 2009), a very tasty slice of the blues which got a well deserved Must Have from me at the time. SInce then, however, Ralph has gone from strength to strength both as a songwriter and a musician finally ending up as my Artist Of The Year 2011. I do like to see AOTY nominees getting right back on the saddle, so it's no surprise to find Ralph still pumping out the tracks like there was no tomorrow.

One of the major things I look for with that particular award is 'stickability' and Ralph has copious amounts of it, musically and personally. But this is another year starting and you are only as good as the last thing you released.... See, no end to the pressure when you get up there with the big dogs... One of the main things that keep me on Ralph's side is that his music, like the man, is simple and straightforward, so you either like what he does or you don't. I have a lot of time for his music because it is easy to grasp, usually upbeat and always interesting - at least to a fellow guitarist. As I have said many times, I prefer him when he's on a blues kick but when I can't get that, any of his other genres will do the trick just as well.

Moonfire Woman is unashamedly blues to its core, the kind of thing you would expect from someone like Eric Clapton (and I really don't say that lightly). It is a measure of how confident and assured a musician Ralph is. He knows what he does and he does it well and that's pretty much that. For my money, all true rockers are that simple, the only thing that really counts is the groove and Ralph has always been especially tasty in that regard. It's no surprise then that Moonfire Woman went down a storm with me but I do prefer this side of his work. The surprise - as always - is in the hugely enjoyable music experience he provides and IMHO this is one of brighter moments..

MUST HAVE blues rock (old school)