Tag Archive | "broken family band"

Steven Adams and the French Drops – Virtue Signals

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Steven Adams and the French Drops – Virtue Signals

Posted on 04 May 2018 by Joe

One of my favourite aspects of former Broken Family Band frontman Steven Adams’ new band is that their keyboardist Michael Wood ignored the turn-ups memo for their photo shoot.

Steven Adams and the French Drops

Steven Adams and the French Drops

Wood’s stand against this middle-aged fashion faux-pas is arguably the only radical departure made by Adams’ new venture, Steven Adams and the French Drops. But that’s no bad thing. If it aint’ broke… and all that.

Here Adams once again produces a collection of pleasant, well crafted songs supplemented with razor sharp witty lyrics, that rally against the injustices of the world, both big and small.

Post-Brexit vote malaise is a key concern here, with opener Bad Apples aimed squarely at the sort of patriotism that drove that surprise vote to leave Europe. Lyrics such as “lashing out” and “poisoning the well” on Wolves add further rage.

Musically, there’s less of the Broken Family Band’s country twang and as with his Singing Adams output this sounds decidedly urban, especially the smart keyboards from turn-ups maverick Wood on Free Will.

But there’s still time for melancholy and romance. Second track Paul is lovely and  as near as this the album gets to that aforementioned Broken Family Band twang. The use of this first name in the title also makes it sound much more personal and will please fans of Adams’ 2005 solo track, St Thomas, which was one of our highlights when we saw Singing Adams in Bristol back in 2012.

Imprinted is another strong love song with lyrics like “I could spend my whole life with you next to me” delivered with welcome sincerity.

8/10

by Joe Lepper

Steven Adams and The French Drops are touring during May. More details here.

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Steven James Adams – Old Magick

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Steven James Adams – Old Magick

Posted on 01 March 2016 by Joe

Late last year Darren Hayman posted on Facebook that Fortuna POP!’s white middle aged men roster, which he is proudly part of, was in fine form, with imminent releases from Pete Astor, formerly of 1980s band The Weather Prophets, and Steven Adams, ex-The Broken Family Band.

SJA-OLD-MAGICK

On reading this it was the first time I’d even considered that Adams actually middle aged given the youthful twinkle in his eyes. Even his cynicism, displayed lyrically and with his sardonic wit on stage, is often that of a cheeky teen rather than a depressed old man.

Here, on what is perhaps his first ‘middle-aged’ release, he casts his eye over his and his fans’ advancing years but still with a youthful twinkle. For example on Togetherness, about the appalling way too many British people treat those from other countries, the delivery is far from preachy or serious, instead its cheekily accompanied with one of the album’s most upbeat melodies.

And on Ideas, another standout track, the self-deprecating tone of a middle aged man desperately trying to save a relationship with ideas that have not yet formed could easily apply to a teen. Perhaps it could also be about the performer Adams, urging his audience to stay with him as well.

This tongue in cheek look at aging is perhaps best shown on The Back of the Bus as the young care free teens shouting from the back of a bus are transported into middle-age where “now, it’s just massage music”.

Musically, this is a more low key sound than his full band Singing Adams indie pop project of recent years but more slickly produced than his last solo outing, 2013’s House Music, which was recorded in his living room. With studio production from Dan Michaelson this feels very much like a solo album that allows the lyrics to shine and is perhaps his best release since his Broken Family Band days.

8/10

by Joe Lepper

To buy Steven James Adams – Old Magick click here.

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The Leaf Library – Daylight Versions

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The Leaf Library – Daylight Versions

Posted on 06 November 2015 by Joe

The press release describes this debut from London quintet The Leaf Library as “wonderfully-woozy, drone-pop about meteorology”. The reality though is a hit and mostly miss album that at best can be compared to one of those nothingy, cloudy days where the most exciting weather development is a slight breeze or a bit of drizzle.

It is difficult to capture the sparse magic of Young Marble Giants, the sense of atmosphere created by Talk Talk or the subtle, fuzzed up melodies of Yo La Tengo. Nevertheless The Leaf Library make a stab at sounding like all three, with pretty poor results.

leaflibrary

Opener Asleep Between Stations drifts along pleasantly without ever really reaching its destination, while Tilting offers slightly more promise with trumpets coming in, but never raises itself above Broken Social Scene album filler status.

Acre is a six-minute master class of anti-climax that sadly is just plain boring, while Sailing offers little more. My notes just say “dull, dull, dull” for this one.

Pushing/Swimming fares little better, sounding like a real mess, particularly the percussion. It’s a bit like a Cocteau Twins gig that inexplicably is being held in a secondary school woodwork class.

But occasionally they nail it. Slow Spring has some nice guitar picking, not intricate enough to garner a “wow” but nice enough. Rings of Saturn has a great guitar hook and is the only really good track on an album that has borrowed too much from other bands and offers nothing new.

Leaf Library are clearly yet to find their own voice but Rings of Saturn at least offers hope that there’s an interesting band in there somewhere.

2/10

By Joe Lepper

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Broken Family Band – It’s All Over

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Broken Family Band – It’s All Over

Posted on 21 January 2014 by Joe

After eight years of fun live shows, five albums and genre crossing pop the Broken Family Band called it quits in 2009.

For their passionate fanbase it was a sad moment. A band whose back catalogue was packed full of catchy songs skipping merrily across indie, rock, folk and Americana and all glued together by frontman Steven Adams’s clever, witty lyrics was no more.

The Broken Family Band

The Broken Family Band

In the great annals of music, whatever they may be, Broken Family Band will be lucky to get a footnote but that doesn’t make this compilation album any less important. In fact, listening back to these tracks this is just about the most essential album I can currently think of for any collection. Sure, they never fully captured their live spirit on disc. But the songs here are nevertheless awesome pop, bittersweet but never sad, and fun without ever straying into parody. Take Living in Sin, about falling in love with a Satanist, there is just the right balance of comedy and sorrow. On For Milton Mapes they set the template for John Grant’s magnificently melancholy solo work.

As a collection this hits the nail on the head. All their fan’s favourites are here from Hey Captain, with its indie rock breakdown midway through, to the electric guitar pop of At the Back of the Chapel, its got tracks that seem familiar, but never stormed the charts or garnered huge radio play.

But as the compilation moves along the country twinge becomes more of a full twang and it seems clearer how they were getting increasingly hard to pigeon hole and market.

An appreciation of whether you are a Broken Family Band kind of person will probably best lie in final track John Belushi, which for me perfectly encapsulates their blend of laughter with sadness and pop with country.

So, our advice is buy this as a perfect tribute to one of Britain’s best bands you may not have heard of. And if you like it then delve into their full albums, where tracks such as Michelle from the album Balls, Cocktail Lounge from Welcome Home Loser and Hello Love’s Dancing on the 4th Floor await.

9/10

By Joe Lepper (with additional material from Eve Lepper)

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Singing Adams – Everybody Friends Now

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Singing Adams – Everybody Friends Now

Posted on 02 May 2011 by Joe

The British music scene is a peculiar place where some of the most creative, talented people are allowed to remain cloaked in so called cult status.

Take Darren Hayman for example. He is churning out some of the best music by a UK artist in recent years, most recently his January Songs project (review here). But after two decades in music where are his Mercury nominations? Where is his own ATP Festival? Or his millions of global record sales?

The same can be said of Steven Adams, who over the years has been producing some similarly fine music with The Broken Family Band and now the more indie music focused Singing Adams, building up a small but dedicated army of fans without huge commercial success.

Singing Adams are at pains to point out that they are very much a band, rather than merely Adams’ backing band. The Line of Best Fit felt their disdain recently on their Facebook page, after daring to suggest this was the case.

So in the interests of avoiding a similar rollicking let it be known that The Singing Adams also feature this bunch of seasoned musicians: guitarist Matthew Ashton, whose bands have included Saloon and The Leaf Library; drummer Melinda Bronstein, who has played with Absentee and Wet Paint; and bassist Michael Wood, of Michaelmass.

Everybody Friends Now shows they are right to push this collective argument. It is arguably more pop-savvy  than  Broken Family Band’s output, with its trumpets and guitar riffs, courtesy of Ashton in particular clearly showing he is a keen student of classic British indie guitar bands.

Nevertheless it would be wrong to totally underplay Adams’ direction and on Everybody Friends Now there are inevitable similarities with The Broken Family Band  such as their bittersweet lyrics and similarly catchy hooks.

Among our favourite tracks on this album of welcome consistency is the single ‘I Need Your Mind,’ one of the most infectious tracks of the year and with some pretty filthy lyrics as well (or possibly they are innocent and we  just have filthy minds).

Other highlights are the thoughtful ‘The Old Days’ and ‘Injured Party’, which is wonderfully reminiscent of the glory days of mid 1980s indie music, most notably The Wedding Present.

The only curve ball in all this Summer indie pop is the piano heavy final song ‘Married Woman’, which may just be the best track on the album, with its sumptuous vocals and trumpet arrangements.

What is so good about this album is that at its core is a fine bunch of  great indie pop songs with some clever lyrics and a heart. That’s actually quite an achievement considering the fairly middling output of other acts that get far more column inches such as The Vaccines. Already Everybody Friends Now, like Hayman’s January Songs, is a contender for one of our Top 20 albums of the year slots. I guess that minor accolade will have to do while they wait patiently for the Mercury nomination and platinum disc.

8.5/10

by Joe Lepper

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