In this update we feature:
> Dandelion Charm – Tiny Drop
> Dandelion Charm – Riding The Flood [EP]
> Gaute Storsve Trio – Attention: This Is Not A Toy, For Adult Collectors Only
> Alex Lofoco – Beyond
> Cargoyle – Plastic Keener
> Regent – Lost In California/Returning To The Sun
The initial attraction to check out DC’s 2016 debut album was piqued by the somewhat disparate, but compelling collection of influences cited. I can’t say I fully endorsed all of them; however it didn’t detract from the quality of the music I was listening to. For me John and Clare Fowler, collectively Dandelion Charm, write catchy, ear friendly songs imbibing memories of the early female fronted British progressive folk rock bands of the early 70s, but brought up to date by those contemporary artists/bands that have obviously influenced the writing.
Separately John and Clare have warm and attractive voices and when combined together form a rich tapestry of harmony vocals that delight throughout. Couple this with the thoughtful lyrics, nicely underpinned with some excellent, driving acoustic rock instrumentation; we have the fundamental elements of Tiny Drop.
If I was to add a critical note, it would be that the tracks, in general, lack the killer hooklines that would have elevated the songs to greater heights and, given the right circumstances, greater commercial appeal. This said there’s a wide variety of contrasting styles, kicking off the album is stadium friendly Birdcage or the classy Why Does It Hurt?. All in all a fine album and an album certainly worth checking out – perhaps start with my two personal favourites – Skywalker and Dandelion Charm.
Moving forward to January 2018 and the second release from Newhaven (UK) singer-song writing duo John and Clare Fowler. Their debut certainly captured the interest, with a collection of well written and performed tracks filling the album, even if for some reason it didn’t fully resonate with me. Riding The Flood redresses this and Dandelion Charm have come back with kicking follow-up EP.
The warm and delightful vocals remain, along with the wonderful layers of acoustic instrumentation, however what elevates Riding The Flood is the addition of some searing guitar solos from John. Certainly the title track and The Spark benefit from these melodic breaks, whilst the EP’s closing track, The Wraith demonstrates their more proggy side.
The production on both releases is excellent and as the following video, filmed at their EP launch demonstrates, is that they are more than capable of delivering this live.
The Gaute Storsve Trio is a Norwegian jazz band led the bassist/guitarist from the band Wesbergland, whose heavy prog is about as different from this beguiling jazz cocktail as it is possible to get. Guitarist and composer Gaute Storsve lived and worked for a time in Cuba, and that isolated country’s Latino influence is writ large on this much more than merely pleasant affair.
Augmented by guest players on saxophone, flute, trombone and trumpet, the core guitar/bass/drums trio underpin the ensemble to make an infectious combination of high energy Cuban groove interspersed with the more laid-back approach of their home country. The opening title track sets the scene, with its hip-swaying finger poppin’ swing conjuring visions of a vibrant Havana nightclub spied through a haze of cigarette smoke, while holding an impossibly tall cocktail glass. Gaute takes a nice top line in this followed by muted trumpet, adding to the carnival atmosphere. In complete contrast is the slow jazz blues that follows, Unpredictable Smile gently streaming like a hot sidewalk after a thunderstorm. Quite lovely.
The sole reason this album appears in our irregular “shorties” feature is that it is slightly outside of our normal remit, but that does not make it any less impressive. A well crafted album of contrasting styles that works well.
Bass session man and composer Alex Lofoco has announced himself to the world with his hugely impressive and incendiary debut album that recalls the progressive, jazz fusioneers of the early 70s. Think Mahavishnu Orchestra, Weather Report, Return to Forever – to mention just a few. Strengthening this notion Alex has called on Chick Corea’s EB sax-man Eric Marienthal who guests on a couple of tracks. With Marco Minnemann on kit, guitarist Roby Meola, keyboard maestro Jordan Rudess and some seriously impressive piano players in Tomasz Bura and Jesus Molina, we have a world class band here folks.
Beyond is chock full of well written, high octane work-outs, played with fire and passion and a true sense of musicality. I’ve got to warn you there’s very little in the way of respite, although the album’s title track does display a more intimate side, so this is one hell of a rollercoaster of a ride. But one you will want to repeat – often…
Beyond is was released in December 2017, available on a number of digital platforms and well worth investigating.
Possibly collapsible psychrock, or punkpsych with a synaptic disorder, Cargoyle, a side project for the estimable Nick Prol of Proletarians fame put it all in a blender with some choice psychotropics, and set their phasers to stun. Guitar, vocals and analog synths, are attacked with gusto by “Sleaze McQueen”, who also provides suitably rebel manchild lyrics, and drumz are provided by Dogface. What comes out of the offal strewn blender is a glorious cacophony that the avant guard dog will be tossing about and tearing to pieces as if it were a new toy. Gimme dat treat boy, I is a great gallumping puppy dog.
Oh…and it’s a “Name Your Price” offering on Bandcamp. Dig those track titles! You need to assault your senses with this unholy racket. Oh yes.
Regent emerged in early 2016 with their ambitious debut album Illusions – a thirty two minute epic that paid homage to 70s era progressive rock. Moving forward eighteen months and ahead of the release of the band’s follow up album, the core members of Martin Collins and Jonathan Youdale return with a double A Side single by way of a taster.
The two tracks see a shift in direction and a further step back in time to the late 60s psychedelic era. The bright and breezy cover is the great indicator, as is the hook laden opening song which captures the early West Coast scene wonderfully. The more aggressive Returning to the Sun retains the vibe with Hammond-esque organ and grittier guitars fleshing out the sound.
Regent have chosen a different and refreshing path for their follow up release – a nostalgia trip with modern-day, contemporary slant. Interesting to see what the new album offers.