Archive | December, 2016

Sixteen of the Best Songs of 2016

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Sixteen of the Best Songs of 2016

Posted on 29 December 2016 by Dorian

We recently published our Top 20 Albums of 2016, but this only reflected a section of the amazing songs that came out this year.  There were great albums we missed, albums that just missed out and songs that came out on single this year. So, as a bit of an end of year bonus, here are the best songs of 2016 that didn’t feature in our end of year album list.

16. ESP Ohio – Royal Cyclopean

It wouldn’t be Neon Filler without a Robert Pollard track, and this horn driven gem from his latest collaboration with Doug Gillard is one of his best this year.

15. The Wedding Present – Rachel

There are rumours that this year’s Wedding Present album may be there last, if that is the case then they are finishing on something of a high.

14. Childish Bambino – Me and Your Mama

Donald Glover is a successful comic actor, the face of the young Lando Calrissian and a Grammy award-winning singer, sickeningly talented.

13. The Shins – Dead Alive

The Shins releasing a song that sounds like they could have recorded 15 years ago may not seem that exciting, unless you think early Shins is about as good as music gets. Which I do.

12. Allo Darlin’ – Hymn on the 45

Allo Darlin’ sadly called in at day in 2016, but just as they played their final shows they released one last single. A final document, if nothing else, of why they’ll be missed.

11. Car Seat Headrest – Drunk Drivers/Killer Whales

Car Seat Headrest is the work of Will Toledo, this year’s bespectacled indie geek de jour. The album justifies the hype this time around.

10. The Avalanches – Subways

The new Avalanches album may not be much of a step forward given the huge gap between this and their debut recording, but there were enough good songs to make it worth a listen.

9. Parquet Courts – Human Performance

The New York band have been releasing consistently great music since they broke through with Light Up Gold in 2012. The title track from their latest album shows them in almost subdued mode.

8. Angel Olsen – Shut Up and Kiss Me

2016 was a bit of a breakthrough year for Angel Olsen, her 4th LP getting a lot of attention and radio play. This track showcases as much fuzz-pop as folk and is a bit of a break from the softer country vibe she’s associated with.

7. Case/Lang/Veirs – Best Kept Secret

Three of the best vocalists in country-pop come together and, unsurprisingly, the results are great.

6. Okkervil River – Judy on the Street

Every two or three years Will Sheff’s band release an album and they all range from good to excellent. This track from Away is no exception to the rule.

5. Teenage Fanclub – Thin Air

More than a quarter if a century in and Teenage Fanclub can still produce some of the best melodic guitar pop around.

4. Girl Ray – Trouble

One of the best bands that we saw at Indietracks this year and one of the bands to watch out for in 2017.

3. Field Music – Disappointed

Due to its release at a busy time we sadly didn’t get round to reviewing Field Music’s excellent 2016 album Commontime. We still loved it though and can assure you it was a typically excellent release from the Brewis brothers. This was a single and one of the best tracks.

2. Luke Haines – Smash The System

Smash The System saw Haines revisit some of his previous themes, with a number of nods to his Baader Meinhof album. The Monkees references in this song are confusing but welcome.

1. Eyelids – Slow It Goes

Eyelids didn’t have a new album out in 2016, that is coming next year, but they did release this song and showcased what we can look forward to. Excellent video as well.

Compiled by Dorian Rogers

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The Pretty Things – The Leicester Musician (Dec 22, 2016)

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The Pretty Things – The Leicester Musician (Dec 22, 2016)

Posted on 28 December 2016 by John Haylock

As 2016 draws to an end, a 12-month period in which we have lost so many great artists, it’s only fitting that my final review of the year is spent in the company of the legendary The Pretty Things.

Two members of their current incarnation, guitarist Dick Taylor and vocalist Phil May, were there in the early 1960s, inventing the future.

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They broke barriers and in their own sweet way changed the face of music, taking American blues and morphing it into rock ‘n’ roll shapes previously unheard.

Here are two true originators of this music we so love today and were the equals of The Rolling Stones. Indeed Taylor, now 73, started off on bass in a formative version of the Stones.

They recorded the very first concept album S F Sorrow, were always on the cusp of the big time and when Led Zeppelin created their Swansong record label in 1974 The Pretty Things were one of the first bands they signed up.

Sadly, their name is still not particularly household friendly, which is such a shame as tonight’s set illustrates that they had many great songs.

Supplemented nowadays by a superb band of musicians, Charlie Chuck look-a-like Frank Holland on guitar, Jack Greenwood on drums and the looming giant of a man George Perez on bass, they recreate all the almost hits and give their all in a lengthy set which encompasses psychedelia, pop, proper R ‘n’ B and acoustic blues.

A lengthy and exuberant set included SF Sorrow Is Born and the defining pop-psych masterpiece Defecting Grey. The Same Sun, I See You and Mama, Keep Your Big Mouth shut kept the momentum up.

In a beautifully paced show they transitioned seamlessly into their blues mode with versions of Robert Johnson’s Come On In My Kitchen and a version of Little Red Rooster.

Then there’s a nod to Bo Diddley with Mona and You Can’t Judge a Book By Its Cover, with a little bit of Who Do You Love thrown in for good measure.

For the final few lengths they get heavy with Don’t Bring Me Down, a tremendously extended workout of LSD, there was even a drum solo from Jack. I haven’t enjoyed a drum solo since a Talk Talk gig back in 1989. I think I am allergic to drum solos but this was head bogglingly amazing, such stamina and dexterity was a wonder to behold.

Spent and exhausted they finished with Rosalyn.

In another world if circumstances had been only slightly different it would have been The Pretty Things that would have headlined Glastonbury 2013 and not Sir Mick of Jagger.

Oh well it’s only rock n roll.

But I like it, yes I do.

Words by John Haylock, picture by Arthur Hughes

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Primal Scream – Rock City, Nottingham (December 11, 2016)

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Primal Scream – Rock City, Nottingham (December 11, 2016)

Posted on 15 December 2016 by John Haylock

I hate Primal Scream, with their dreary posturing pretend rock ‘n’ roll. It’s designed for people who drive a Vauxhall Insignia and think that Later with Jools Holland is the foremost of cutting edge music programming.

Led by the stick insect-like and professional jammy bastard that is Bobby Gillespie, who despite being shit in the Jesus and Mary chain and singing like a wheezing, going down balloon, can still talk the talk, walk the walk and never fails to show everybody how fantastic his album collection is.

So how come this show was the best gig I’ve seen all year?

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Let’s look at the evidence. There was a remarkable support band called Bo Ningen, a mysteriously hairy four piece from Japan but who all coalesced in London a few years back. They cook up some intense boil in the bag sonic soup; there are elements of Sonic Youth and Acid Mothers somewhere in there but boy do they take it one step further. Theirs is a gratuitous and glorious overload of a rock racket.

Visually they are compelling. Guitars are mere acrobatic accessories and they sound like Godzilla with a severe migraine destroying Tokyo. Best support band of the year, no question.

As for Primal Scream, they have transformed themselves from fucked up indie wasters into a sleek, silver machine that exudes confidence, power and utter concentrated Rockness!

Tonight Bobby is a serious stubbly grim faced man on a mission. He owns the stage, not an easy thing to pull off when you’re sporting a pink jacket and rubbish trousers.

Guitarist Andrew Innes is a total riff machine. His precision chordage was immense on Loaded and Trippin’ on your love.

At times his playing reminded me of the great Tony Iommi (peace be upon him). The new songs from the fabbo new album Chaosmosis sounded great. None more so than Where the Light Gets In, which is destined to become a classic.

They work through Movin’ On Up, Accelerator and Shoot Speed/Kill Light with irresistible majestic prowess.

Higher Than The Sun, despite a false start got the crowd into gear.

We went crazy apeshit doolally for Swastika Eyes. I expected the roof to levitate by the time they got to Come Together. For Rocks I needed a defibrillator.

The next is a ridiculous statement I know, but the more I think about this the more I’m convinced this was the best ‘rock’ show I’ve personally witnessed at Rock City since Nirvana at the same venue many, many, many years ago.

It pains me to say this but Bobby, ‘I was blind, now I can see, you made a believer out of me’.

By John Haylock

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Best Albums 2016 – Neonfiller’s Look At The Year’s Best Releases

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Best Albums 2016 – Neonfiller’s Look At The Year’s Best Releases

Posted on 14 December 2016 by Joe

After taking some time in June to list our favourite albums so far this year, the time has come to reveal our Best Albums of 2016.

The surprise alternative pop album of the year has not budged from its number one slot, but our extended end of year list has given us the chance to add a further 10 albums to our selection.

There are a few more veteran performers here, but also plenty of new bands with some stunning debuts released this year.

It may have been a horrible anus  in terms of politics and the death of iconic legends but 2016 was still a great year for music. Sit back and enjoy our Best Albums 2016 list.

20. Picture Box – Songs of Joy

 

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Robert Halcrow uses his brand ‘wonky pop’ to take you on a tour of the lesser known nooks and crannies of his home City of Canterbury, in Kent. The demise of its speedway team, its smelly former tannery and a pet fish shop are the stars of this thoroughly eccentric look at small town England. Read the full review here.

19. American Wrestlers – Goodbye Terrible Youth

 

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The brain child of Gary McClure, once of Manchester band Working for A Nuclear Free City and now living in St Louis, this new act’s debut album earns a deserved spot on our list for its personal subject matter and catchy hooks all blended perfectly together with lashings of distorted guitar. Read the full review here.

18. Robert Rotifer – Not Your Door

 

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Not Your Door is a deeply personal album for Robert Rotifer, taking in his present life living in Canterbury, Kent, as well as his past, growing up in Vienna. But with its themes of family and the very notion of home it aims to resonate with many. Its post Brexit release also offers a thoughtful alternative view on EU relations. Read the full review here.

17. Rapid Results College – In City Light

 

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Rapid Results College is such a great name for a band, cemented in modern urban life with tongue firmly in cheek about its pressures, pace and pitfalls. Their debut album left us enthralled, taking in influences such as XTC and their keen focus on melody, all channeled through some of the cleanest production you will hear all year. Read the full review here.

16. Southern Tenant Folk Union – Join Forces

 

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After the ambitious Chuck Norris Project of last year, in which the Edinburgh folk collective used film titles by the rightwing actor to protest against his politics, their latest album goes back to basics. This has a more traditional sound, focusing on their bluegrass and Celtic influences, but still with plenty of politics and above all heart. Read the full review here.

15. Robert Pollard – Of Course You Are

 

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Incredibly, this is now the 22nd solo album from the hardest working man in music and proves another high point in an illustrious career. Read the full review here.

14. Bob Mould – Patch the Sky

 

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Third album from the former Sugar and Husker Du man’s most settled line up for years. The key to its success is its ability to tackle the tough issues of life in the most fun way possible, as Mould’s rage and melody once again combine perfectly.  Read the full review here.

13. Woodpigeon – TROUBLE

 

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Heartbreak, loss and a globe trotting meander prove the powerful inspiration for Mark Andrew Hamilton’s latest album. Beautiful and inspiring. Read the full review here.

12. John Howard – Across the Door Sill

 

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This may just be the best album to date by John Howard, the 1970s singer songwriter who is enjoying a renaissance in recent years as an independent artist. His time capsule preserved vocals are in abundance here thanks to some sumptuous layering to create an entire choir of Howards backed simply by piano. Beautiful. Read the full review here.

11. Martha – Blisters In The Pit Of My Heart

 

 

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Many bands have trod the well worn path of capturing the pains of being young within three minute, fast paced pop songs, complete with guitar solos and rousing sing-a-long choruses. But no one does this quite like Martha. This collection from the north east of England act is another deserved entry to our end of year round up. Read the full review here.

10. King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard – Nonagon Infinity

 

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Like an extended rock jam, taking in science fiction, monsters and, naturally, some awesome guitar riffs this is another stellar release from the Australian psych rockers, with a little help from some robots and a gigantic wasp. Read the full review here.

9. Dressy Bessy – King Sized

 

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Fabulous return from a six-year break for the US act. This works particularly well by merging their beefier pre- hiatus sound with the pop nous that made their early work so infectious. Read the full review here.

8. The Wave Pictures – Bamboo Diner in the Rain

 

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Underneath what may very well be 2016’s crappiest album cover lies this year’s best blues LP, as The Wave Pictures take their fascination with American blues to new levels. Read our full review here.

7. Papernut Cambridge – Love the Things Your Lover Loves

 

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Former Death in Vegas man Ian Button and crew have created their very own 1970s pop band. Full of fuzzed up guitar riffs and stomping rhythms there would have been plenty to satisfy the charts back in the day, especially the album’s title song, and its best pop tune, Radio. Read the full review here.

6. Darren Hayman – Thankful Villages – Vol 1

 

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One of Hayman’s best pieces of work and possibly his most important, preserving the oral history of the relatives of those who survived the horrors of the Great War as well as paying tribute to the village life these soldiers left and thankfully returned to. Read the full review here.

5. Emma Pollock – In Search of Harperfield

 

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Childhood memories and the toils of adulthood mix wonderfully on the former Delgados singer’s latest album. With the track Parks and Recreation she has also created one of the best songs of recent years. Read the full review here.

4. Arborist – Home Burial

 

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Imagine a colliery band on tour of the Appalachians and I guess you are somewhere near this sound conjured up in this stunning debut from the Northern Ireland based act, that also features The Breeders Kim Deal on vocals. It’s Americana, but not like you’ve heard it before. Read the full review here.

3. Free Swim – Life Time of Treats

 

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Free Swim’s Paul Coltofeanu is a silly chap, that’s why we like him. We’ve already been enthralled by his collection of quirky EPs but here, on the act’s debut album, he joins forces with chum David Turn to  take the charm up a few notches. Ray Mears, air drumming, Neville Southall’s moustache and angry internet sensation Gordon Hill are among the cast of stars that Paul and David encounter. There’s some fine music here too, which shows they are no mere novelty act. Read the full review here.

2. Evans the Death – Vanilla

 

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On album number three London act Evans the Death have upped, shredded, beaten up and garrotted the ante. It’s full of rage, the guitars are heavier than before, the vocals fiercer and the ambition turned to stadium sized proportions, with a brass section and even a funky bass added to the mix. Incendiary album from what very well be Britain’s best rock band. Read the full review here.

1. The Monkees – Good Times

 

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The comeback to beat all comebacks. Originally planned as merely something to sell on their 50th anniversary tour this album has ended up grabbing the headlines in its own right. With Fountains of Wayne man Adam Schlesinger at the helm, a stack of lost demos to dust off and new tracks from talented Monkees fans such as Andy Partridge and Ben Gibbard, Good Times both pays tribute to their place in 1960s pop history and creates a great, modern day indie and alternative pop album in its own right. A well deserved number one slot. Read our full review here.

Top Ten Albums of 2016 So far was compiled by Joe Lepper and Dorian Rogers

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The Cure – SSE Arena, London ( December 3, 2016)

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The Cure – SSE Arena, London ( December 3, 2016)

Posted on 05 December 2016 by John Haylock

Anyone remember The Cure?

They were big in the 1980s, a bit like Duran Duran. But with worse hair and a reputation for depressing songs about photographs and cats.

I like them, I have several of their albums and no less than two cats myself now.

A journey to London to see them seemed like a good idea nine months ago. What I forgot to factor in was 12,500 people also thinking it would be a nice pre-Christmas day out.

What a great thing the London underground is, it can take you to A to B with the minimum of fuss, fellow passengers are so friendly and talkative and the use of an Oyster card makes paying a stress free transaction, and the seats are so spacious and comfortable. I love sarcasm don’t you ?

I have never walked the length of one of the corridors of the huge, pretend Nostromo deep space mining craft (Alien). But the dangerous and lengthy walk to the allotted seating area at the SSE Arena seemed life threateningly perilous. We were assailed by airborne hot dogs as well as tidal waves of overpriced lager and only managed to find our sets by the use of undignified kneeling on the steps and looking with magnifying glasses for microscopic seat numbers.

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At 8:15pm we finally squint to see some tiny figures on the horizon, which I am reliably informed is The Cure. There then followed a marathon goth endurance test. Almost three hours of peaks, troughs and horrible guitar solos, but not necessarily in that order.

Robert Smith (aged around 107) has turned into the chap on the Uriah Heep album sleeve ‘Very ‘Eavy, Very ‘Umble’ (that is the last time i’ll ever mention Uriah Heep on this website, promise).

The last time I saw him was as a temporary member in Siouxsie and the Banshees in 1979, a mere callow youth and sadly time has not been kind. Fortunately Smith’s visage is not of great importance, it’s the music we’re here for. But if they do Lovecats I’m leaving.

In a set of no less than thirty two songs there’s something for everyone, including plinkety plonkety nursery rhyme rock such as Close to Me and Why Can’t I Be You

There’s great big rollocking tracks like Push and Never Again and an especially monstrous version of Shake Dog Shake.

There’s the sad, doomed angsty epics  Photos of You and Open. For the tortured souls among us (that’ll be me then ) a terrifying  A Thousand Years, complete with a backdrop of harrowing war images, probably borrowed off Morrissey, and a lengthy and menacing A Forest.

Yet not surprisingly it’s the massive poppy hits like Friday I’m in Love, In Between Days, Caterpillar and Just Like Heaven that get the greatest crowd response.

One new track only, It Can Never Be the Same, which was quite brilliant.

The final flurry of numbers finally get me off my arse: 10.15 Saturday Night. Three Imaginary Boys, a superb Boys Don’t Cry and finally Killing an Arab. This is always a great track and here made even better by being given a totally over the top treatment.

In the end we learn two things.

The Cure are basically music for girls who still believe in the conceit of romantic love and that hot dogs are not aero-dynamically designed to fly in indoor arenas.

Oh! And no Lovecats…result !

By John Haylock

 

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Top 10 Songs From 1991- One Of Music’s Best Ever Years

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Top 10 Songs From 1991- One Of Music’s Best Ever Years

Posted on 04 December 2016 by Dorian

This year is widely seen, even as it continues, as being one of the worst years in history.

Political upheaval, bloody conflict and ecological collapse are all themes of the year, as is celebrity death. The latter has been particularly true in music with a number of musical legends leaving us this year.

It has also been a year of notable musical anniversaries with loads of excellent albums celebrating their 10th, 15th, 20th, or 25th anniversaries.

Most notable to me has been the number of great albums from 1991 that celebrating a quarter of a century this year. It may be my age (I was a music obsessed 19 year old in 1991) but it is striking just how many amazing records were released in that year.

Among the albums released were debuts by acts as varied Blur, Mercury Rev, The Smashing Pumpkins, Orbital, 2 Pac, Massive Attack, St. Etienne, Pearl Jam and Mr. Bungle. Julian Cope, Throwing Muses, Dinosaur Jr, Uncle Tupelo, Slint, KLF and Talk Talk all released albums that were arguably their career best during the year.

The best of year lists for 1991 read like those “100 albums to hear before you die” books with Primal Scream’s Screamadelica, REM’s Out of Time, My Bloody Valentine’s Loveless and Nirvana’s Nevermind all hitting the shelves of HMV and Virgin.

It also marked the release of Teenage Fanclub’s Bandwagonesque, an album that doesn’t get talked about as much today but beat all of the above to be voted album of the year by Spin magazine, and is one of the albums that I always go back to.

So here, in honour of its 25th anniversary, is a selected Top 10 of 1991.

10. Pixies – Alec Eiffel

9. Talk Talk – Myrrhman

8. Mercury Rev – Car Wash Hair

7.  Slint – Good Morning Captain

6.  Dinosaur Jr – The Wagon

5. Throwing Muses – Counting Backwards

4. REM – Half a World Away

3. Julian Cope – Beautiful Love

2. Uncle Tupelo – Watch Me Fall

1. Teenage Fanclub – Alcoholiday

Compiled by Dorian Rogers

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The Wave Pictures – Bamboo Diner in the Rain

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The Wave Pictures – Bamboo Diner in the Rain

Posted on 01 December 2016 by Joe

Underneath what may very well be 2016’s crappiest album cover lies this year’s best blues LP, as The Wave Pictures take their fascination with American blues to new levels.

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From the riffs and solos of City Forgiveness (2013) to the gorgeous vintage feel of their Billy Childish produced Great Big Flamingo Burning Moon (2015) and the acoustic sweetness of this year’s A Season in Hull, this collection has elements of them all. As a result it is perhaps the best of the lot.

There’s a sense of growing resentment at the digital world across this album, in music and our lives. It possibly explains why the album cover, which features guitarist Dave Tattersall, bassist Franic Rozycki and drummer Jonny Helm clutching their instruments by what looks like a hedge, is so rubbish.

Why waste time digitally editing fancy covers when there’s good music to play?

And there’s plenty of it too, especially on Now I Want To Hoover My Brain Clean. This is one of half a dozen blues rock tracks that carries this ethos of going back to basics perfectly.

Others in this mold are opener Panama Hat and closer The Running Man.

There’s a break from these heavy riffs with a few acoustic numbers that fit in perfectly, especially Meeting Simon At the Airport and the slide guitar and brush drumming on the title track.

A great The Wave Pictures single too emerges with Pool Hall, which brings another common theme across the album – of focusing on everyday British life through the sounds of 1970s American blues rock.

As well as pool halls, here being torn down to make flats, David Tattersall’s wonderfully detailed lyrics take us to betting shops and pubs, complete with a landlord with crisps down his shirt. Even the colours of flowers in vases he passes get a mention. If ever a musician has a novel to write it is him.

In the press release Tattersall says that they don’t want to be a blues band, “but the blues is there” at the “core of everything we do. We love it,” he adds.

With his accomplished and original guitar solos and Helm and Rozycki’s moody rhythm section they have the musical expertise to be among the blues greats. They may not like it, but their metamorphosis into a modern day and thoroughly British Creedance Clearwater Rivival is satisfyingly nearing completion

9/10

by Joe Lepper

For more information about The Wave Pictures click here.

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