Thursday, 8 February 2018

JOHN FORRESTER - RESTLESS


As the title suggests, Restless - the fourth studio album from English songwriter John Forrester - explores the transient underpinning of the lone musician: songs of travel, displacement, creativity and disappointment sit alongside those that explore the journey we all make through life.

While working on the album, a close family member’s terminal illness forced Forrester to pause mid-album and spend time back in his home town to care for his loved one. “You make a life for yourself,” he reflects. “But then you’re pulled back to something in the past. Back in the town you grew up in. There’s definitely a comfort in familiarity but also a disconnect, as you’re now effectively just a visitor.”

These events seeped into Forrester’s writing. “It certainly coloured the album. There are songs that wouldn’t have otherwise existed. The album changed shape.” Previously recorded songs no longer seemed right and new work emerged as Forrester’s world changed irrevocably – and when recording resumed, a broader canvas was laid out upon which the new songs were afforded more room to breathe and be heard.

Working with a producer - Fairground Attraction’s Roy Dodds – for the first time, Forrester was encouraged to play less and not fill every pocket of the aural spectrum. The result is a cohesive yet adventurous album that, although reminiscent of Forrester’s earlier work, explores new ground both musically and lyrically.

From the a cappella opener ‘Richmond Hill’, where the singer earmarks a place of personal pilgrimage for future reflection, to ‘Somewhere I Can Be’, the lead-off single, a song for “all the bits of us that we leave behind”, the general mood of the LP captures the essence, drive and complexities of the restless soul. ‘Butterfly Catcher’ “was inspired by people that seek to take your time and energy when you don’t want to give it. It’s about boundaries and not giving too much of yourself away”, while ‘Restless Bones’ is an autobiographical look at the passing of time and friendships.

Restless is an album born of change – with two very different sides owing to its divided recording process. It’s also a record that relishes in a newfound sense of experimentation and collaboration, while staying true to its creator’s restless soul.

As a solo performer, Forrester has shared stages with the likes of Show Of Hands, Nick Harper and John Kirkpatrick. An accomplished electric and double-bass player, he has also served with Pressgang and, currently, Rastko, The Outcast Band and Robb Johnson.

Restless is due for release on 23 February through Irregular Records.



“By turn poetic and philosophical… Forrester is wise enough to have inherent balance…” – fRoots
“A distinctive and immediate sound… this is something special” – R2 Magazine
“Songs to captivate…  subjective, openhearted, and honest musings” – FATEA


Wednesday, 24 January 2018

ASH GRAY - CHICKEN WIRE

Texan songwriter Ash Gray returns with his second solo album Chicken Wire. Having relocated over the past decade from Austin to Sheffield via New York City, Ash is, in the truest sense, a troubadour, falling in with likeminded folk wherever he ends up.

Nowhere is this better exemplified than on Chicken Wire. Ash recruited friends from the Sheffield music scene to lay down the basic tracks, later inviting musicians from back home in Austin to add their own touch. Ash then collaborated with noted Austin producer Chris ‘Frenchie’ Smith (Meat Puppets, Datsuns, Dandy Warhols etc) on the final mix. The end result blends country and bluegrass with undertones of psych, rewriting the grand Austin tradition of the ‘cosmic cowboy’.

Speaking about the recording, Gray says, “The album represents a nice bridge that’s been developing between Sheffield and Austin in the three years that I’ve called Sheffield home. I met so many amazing musicians in Sheffield and have tightened connections with old and new acquaintances in Austin since I began working on these recordings and I was interested in trying to include everyone that I’d been playing with.”

Born and raised in the US, Ash began travelling to the UK at the end of the 90s, where he formed punkgrass outfit The High Class Family Butchers with future members of Menlo Park and Kings Of The South Seas, doing brisk business at the forefront of the London alt.country scene. Winding up in NYC, he took the guitar job in legendary biker band The Cycle Sluts From Hell, before forming the psych-pop ensemble Ash Gray & The Girls, releasing the acclaimed album Born In The Summer. Later retracing his Yorkshire roots, he finally released his debut solo album Once I Got Burned in 2014. Most recently he’s been helping facilitate the musical twinning of his hometown with the city of Angers in western France.  

Chicken Wire is released on Friday 26 January.


“Ash has a penchant for a killer melody” Beat Surrender
“Convincing and effective” RnR
“Indie country with a blazing attitude” Maverick
“Without characters such as Ash Gray the music business would be the poorer”
American Roots UK




Friday, 29 September 2017

THE BRAINIAC 5 - WE'RE READY!

Just a matter of months after their widely acclaimed album Journey To X, there’s no stopping the rejuvenated Brainiac 5 as they return with the aptly-titled We’re Ready!

It seems that the band had so much great material worked up for the Journey sessions that they allowed the natural momentum to carry them over, bringing additional material to proceedings to round out the process.

As well as introducing new songs, the band took the opportunity to revisit their past: ‛Trotsky’, which appeared on their classic ‛78 EP Mushy Doubt, is retooled here as ‛She’s Free’, sung by returning guest vocalist Jessie Pie; ‛Night Games’, a song dictated through a ouija board conversation with Jimi Hendrix(!) many years ago, is presented in studio version for the first time; and ‛Space Is The Place’, the track that kickstarted the band’s 21st Century rebirth, is given the full bells and whistles treatment it always deserved.

Emerging in the mid-70s out of the UK’s isolated yet thriving South-Western scene, the Brainiac 5 relocated to London, where their Mushy Doubt EP had already caused a stir. Sharing stages with the likes of The Soft Boys and The Barracudas and finding fans in John Peel and Alex Chilton, they split before their debut album World Inside was released through celebrated psych label Reckless (Bevis Frond, Black Sun Ensemble, Mu).

With frontman Charlie Taylor returning from years in the US, the Brainiacs reconvened, resulting in 2013’s Sun Ra-inspired Space Is The Place EP which garnered effusive reviews from the likes of The Wire and Shindig! Releasing the When Silence Was Sound anthology, the all-new Exploding Universe and Journey To X in quick succession the Brainiac 5 have earned praise from Mojo, Record Collector, R2, Vive Le Rock, Prog and Louderthanwar, as well as from psych and outsider websites around the world. 



Buy it here.


The group’s music has a freshness and verve that makes their recent reformation seem entirely justified. Prog
A full on post-psychedelic prog rock punk trip! Absorbing and atmospheric... Nuzz Prowling Wolf
Spunky, compelling and liberated. **** Shindig!
Punk energy harnessed to a serious Ladbroke Grove attitude, the result a wonderful cornucopia of sound. Terrascope
This is acid punk at its best. **** RnR
Considering their 40 years plus history it is quite an achievement for them to have come out with something so fresh sounding and consistently intriguing in 2017. Louderthanwar




Wednesday, 16 August 2017

THE NJE - AFLOAT

Cross Can’s rhythm section with Roland Kirk, Motown and the Third Stream and you’ll get somewhere near where The NJE are coming from…”

Like most band names, it came about by accident – trying to explain the sound of three musicians playing horn-led instrumentals from the rock/pop side of the tracks, the closest description was a ‘near-jazz experience’. Swiftly abbreviated to The NJE, this Near Jazz Experience was formed by multi-instrumentalist Terry Edwards, bassist Mark Bedford and drummer Simon Charterton in the spring of 2010.

Look no further than the Hendrix cover, '
Voodoo Child' for a way into their world. The familiar reinvented and taken to a parallel world. Born out of a love of improvised music which was accessible (funky beats and grooves) yet experimental enough to break the mould of middle-of-the-road jamming, the trio built up a following at a residency in the heart of London’s East End, headlining the monthly Sartorial Records music nights.

Edwards and Charterton cut their musical teeth with Norwich punk-funk band The Higsons, after which Terry formed Butterfield 8 with Madness bassman Mark Bedford. The NJE draws the three together in an outfit reminiscent of The Bays in that they don’t rehearse, but perform music intuitively, with an ear to accessible beats and tonality with Edwards’ melodic flights of fancy dancing over the top.

Afloat came about after several recording sessions, both in concert and in the studio, and completed by the band using harsh editing techniques overseen by Hot Chip frontman Alexis Taylor at the mixdown stage. The album’s seven tracks are complimented by the addition of four previously released download/vinyl tracks for your listening and dancing pleasure!

Mainstays of the NJE sound are Edwards’ double-sax technique - playing alto & tenor simultaneously, Charterton’s polyrhythmic funk patterns and Bedford’s fluid but grounding basslines. The whole is a near-jazz experience - just what you’d expect from musicians who have worked with people as far-flung as
PJ Harvey, Jerry Dammers, Tom Waits, Spiritualized, Robert Wyatt, Alex Harvey, Gallon Drunk, Big Star, St Vincent and Ian Dury. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg... Pre-order Afloat here.


"The NJE.... thanks to their innate grasp of the jazz impulse and flagrant disregard for musical boxes, often chart genuinely new ground." Prog 

"First class musicians delivering first class music. What’s not to love?" Jazz In Europe

"Adventurous, inventive and genre-straddling music..." RnR




Friday, 16 June 2017

FOLK DEVILS & INCA BABIES ANNOUNCE SUMMER DATES



















Encouraged by the media and fan reaction to last year’s Beautiful Monsters retrospective and accompanying reunion shows, the surviving members of Folk Devils are joining forces with Manchester's Inca Babies for a handful of summer dates around the UK.

Folk Devils - fronted by the charismatic Ian Lowery - and Inca Babies both released acclaimed music in the mid-80s that helped define the emerging adrenalized blues-inflected swamp-rock scene that had spawned the likes of The Birthday Party, The Gun Club and The Scientists, recording multiple sessions for John Peel’s legendary BBC Radio 1 programme.

With the release of the long-overdue anthology Beautiful Monsters (Singles & Demo Recordings 1984-86) last summer through Optic Nerve Recordings, original Folk Devils guitarist Kris Jozajtis and bassist Mark Whiteley decided to reconvene the band with late-period drummer John Hamilton and Dave Hodgson of post-punks Parting Shots taking the place of Lowery, who sadly died in 2001.

The Inca Babies reformed around founding member Harry Stafford in 2007 and have been active since, releasing their most recent album The Stereo Plan in 2014. Now a 3-piece, the band is completed by drummer Rob Haynes (The Membranes, Goldblade) and bass player Vince Hunt, formerly of A Witness.

Speaking about the Folk Devils reunion, Jozajtis says, “Getting back together for live shows happened because of the release of Beautiful Monsters last September, and the collective need of the surviving Devils to mark that event by doing what we used to do best - playing the songs live. It certainly wasn't about nostalgia, although there was always a sense of unfinished business after we called it a day in the 80s. Of course, we wanted to honour the memory and singular talent of Ian. Much of what he wrote is even more resonant now, as many critics realize. Finding Dave Hodgson, who knew Lowery and has a real connection with the material, was crucial to making the reunion work. However, we also wanted to see if we could rekindle the fire which had characterized the sound of the band. I guess audiences can judge whether we've succeeded in that for themselves.  But the fact that we're all investing time, energy and money in this project will tell you what we think.”

The full dates are....

Fri July 14: Manchester @ The Whiskey Jar
Sat July 15: London @ The Shacklewell Arms *
Sun July 16: Northampton @ The Charles Bradlaugh *
Thurs July 20: Leeds @ Brudenell Social Club
Fri July 21: Glasgow @ O2 ABC2
Sat July 22: Bethesda, N. Wales @ Neuadd Ogwen

*Also featuring Venus Fly Trap

Sat Oct 28: Middlesbrough @ Westgarth Social Club
Peel Regenerated w/ The Telescopes, Folk Devils, The Inca Babies, Eton Crop, Year Of Birds


Folk Devils Facebook
Inca Babies Facebook 

Friday, 12 May 2017

PROUDFOOT plus PHIL MARTIN - LIVE AT THE RAILWAY TAVERN, DALSTON

London-based Americana and mature pop act Proudfoot are to play an intimate semi-acoustic show in East London next month.

The band, who released their second album Flower Of London to some acclaim last autumn, play the Railway Tavern, St Jude Street, Dalston on Thursday 1 June.

The band is the brainchild of filmmaker and songwriter Michael Proudfoot, one-time frontman of 90s Brit honky-tonk band The Highbury Hotdogs, together with guitarist Duncan Kerr of legendary Stiff Records pub rockers Plummet Airlines, new wave powerpoppers The Favourites. The line-up is completed by bassist Wayne Worrell and drummer Joe Malone. Expect flavours of good-time 60s country, laced with the influence of late-70s new wave songwriters like Nick Lowe, Elvis Costello and Difford & Tilbrook.

Support comes from North Yorkshire-via-Brentford songwriter Phil Martin. An original member of The Shanakies (Blur's support band of choice on their Parklife tour), multi-instrumentalist Phil has also served time with The Men They Couldn't Hang, Vic Godard & The Subway Sect and The Bitter Springs. He's currently preparing the follow-up to 2013's Don't Be Afraid Of The Dark, which legendary music journalist Geoff Barton, writing in Classic Rock magazine, compared very favourably to Kevin Ayers.

Music starts 8.30pm. Admission is FREE.

Proudfoot on Facebook

Phil Martin on Facebook

The Railway Tavern on Facebook

Monday, 1 May 2017

THE MOTHERS EARTH EXPERIMENT

Swordfish Records presents the debut album by The Mothers Earth Experiment, a six-piece contemporary progressive outfit from the West Midlands.

With a wide range of influences from electronica, jazz, world music and psychedelia all the way to black metal and back, the band of childhood friends pride themselves in their eclectic inspirations to weave detailed sonic tapestries of dense psychedelic atmospheres and emotive melodies in order to propel their message of social consciousness and environmental awareness.

We feel artistic freedom has become feared within the music industry, and we aim to express what is close to us through our music and art.”

The release of their debut EP Don’t Speak Against The Sun in September 2015 and their first show supporting Gong has led to a series of dynamic performances across the UK, gaining a reputation as a band with a lot to say. In the past year they’ve supported the likes of Syd Arthur, Soft Machine, Acid Mothers Temple, Nicholas Allbrook (Tame Impala, Pond), Braids and Arthur Brown.

The band released their debut limited edition single 'Cool Down Mama' on Record Store Day.

The six-track self-titled album will be available on limited edition multi-coloured splatter vinyl in a gatefold sleeve as well as on CD and download.

Launched in 1987 out of their Birmingham city centre store, Swordfish has built a deserved reputation for high quality rock and psych releases from the likes of Acid Mothers Temple, Keiji Haino, Roky Erickson and Godflesh.

Catch The Mothers Earth Experiment live at....

Fri 19 May – The Night Owl, Birmingham (album launch allnighter)




A perfect fusion of jazz, funk and progressive psychedelia” Counteract