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Stumbleine featuring Violet Skies debut album, Dissolver

Terry Lane - Sunday 06.04.14, 14:21pm

Stumbleine featuring Violet Skies debut album, Dissolver

Stumbleine featuring Violet Skies debut album, Dissolver

Following their collaborative EP, Chasing Honeybees, in February, UK writer / producer Stumbleine (aka Peter Cooper) and vocalist/songwriter Violet Skies release their debut album, Dissolver.

While listening to the 10 tracks of Dissolver, I think of Massive Attack, Elisabeth Fraser, Cocteau Twins, Mazzy Star, Jesus & Mary Chain, The Sundays and the explorative dreamy music of Kevin Shields and My Bloody Valentine.  It sounds like Peter Cooper has been listening to my record collection and managed to succinctly create an album full of influential references borrowing ideas and blending sounds to perfectly suit the beautiful, soulful voice of Violet Skies.  In much the same way as Massive Attack’s ‘Teardrop’ was a perfect match for the Cocteau Twins’ Elisabeth Fraser.

But don’t think the aforementioned list is in anyway negative or condescending.  It’s not like the Jesus & Mary Chain influence is entitled ‘Just Like Marmalade’.  Although clearly recognisable, this is not a Gallagher brothers production. Stumbleine makes no attempt to hide influences in his work.  In fact he has previously recorded a cover version of the shoegazing classic Mazzy Star’s ‘Fade Into You’.

Stumbleine’s music is given more than simply a voice. The velvet vocals of Violet Skies gives each song a personality.  I thought of Rhianna. But to be honest, the contemporary soulful R ‘n’ B style isn’t my strong point.  Though the 22 year-old from south Wales cites Joni Mitchell and the soundscapes of James Blake and Massive Attack, among her influences.

What I love most about this album is the way the music and voice, and the various influences seamlessly gel and plays together as an unabridged set of songs.  So well in fact, that it’s hard to think this is collaboration between two solo artists.

Dissolver starts with the deep sparseness of ‘Thunderdome’ like an introductory piece to capture the atmosphere and settle an audience before the show begins. Think The XX at their most melancholy. Then, with the opening swathes of distorted guitar, the shoegazing ‘Sunset Boulevard’ starts the journey proper. This is a beautiful song that perfectly showcases how Violet Skies brings life to, and opens the music as it drifts and floats around the room. Think Cocteau Twins and the luscious soaring vocals of Elisabeth Fraser.

Even on repeat plays, the album appears to end too soon – always a good sign with a new album.  Other tracks include the catchy melodic pop of ‘Heroine’, with its ‘Just Like Honey’ sound, the err towards R ‘n’ B of ‘Her Touch’ and ‘Whirlpool’ and the swirling shoegaze-infused dreamscapes of ‘One Step Closer’ and ‘Sleeping Through The Day’.

Dissolver is my first contender for best album of 2014.

Stumbleine featuring Violet Skies Dissolver tracklisting

1. Thunderdome
2. Sunset Boulevard
3. We’re Shadows
4. Her Touch
5. Heroine
6. Whirlpool
7. One Step Closer
8. Baby Don’t Go
9. XYZ
10. Sleeping Through The Day

Stumbleine featuring Violet Skies debut album, Dissolver is released  on CD, vinyl & digital album on 7 April 2014 on Monotreme Records. Digg Technorati Blinklist Furl Reddit
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Tags: Album · Alternative · Review · Shoegaze

Bruce Springsteen In Focus 1980-2012: Photographs by Debra L. Rothenberg, book review

Terry Lane - Wednesday 26.03.14, 21:36pm

Bruce Springsteen In Focus 1980-2012 – Photographs by Debra L. Rothenberg

Bruce Springsteen In Focus 1980-2012 – Photographs by Debra L. Rothenberg

Debra L. Rothenberg comes from New Jersey; and while her older brothers had been into The Beatles before her, she became infatuated with fellow New Jersey native Bruce Springsteen, The Boss; and in 1980 started a 32 year love affair photographing her hero.

In 1978, aged 15, she bought her first SLR camera and began taking photography class with John Heyn.  During the lessons Heyn introduced her to the music of Bruce Springsteen and other local musicians like Southside Johnny.  A year later Rothenberg sold her first photograph, a live photo of Southside Johnny which was included on the cover of his live album, Reach Up & Touch The Sky.

A year later Rothenberg took her first photographs of Bruce Springsteen whilst she was still a student at Rochester Institute of Technology, when he played Rochester, New York on 2nd December, 1980 – as part of The River Tour.

In her book Bruce Springsteen In Focus 1980 – 2012 she recounts the concerts and attempts to express her love affair.  But the photographs themselves say much more than her words. For this isn’t simply a collection of professional taken publicity shots.  These are photos from a fans-eye view.  The concert photos capture the energy and excitement of a Bruce Springsteen performance, especially early ones taken from amidst the crowd rather than the safety of a media pit. These photos are not taken for pristine quality but together tell a story.

Live photos from many of his US tours between 1980 and 2012 are collected here from The River Tour 1980, Born In The USA Tour of 1984-1985, The Tunnel Of Love Express  1988 and many others including the 2004 Vote For Change Tour,  the acoustic and solo Devil And Dust Tour of 2005 through to 2012’s Wrecking Ball Tour.  Concert photos sit  alongside local New Jersey impromptu club ‘jams’ at places such as The Stone Pony when Rothenberg would get wind of a ‘Bruce sighting’ and was instructed to stay until the bar closed in order for a chance to get an exclusive.  Scattered between live photos are shots of Springsteen greeting fans or being seen out.

For 32 years Debra L. Rothenberg has had what she sees as a dream job, photographing her music hero, Bruce Springsteen as he has played small local New Jersey bars and large sports arenas.  From college student to concert photographer, her photos have been published in Rolling Stone, Q, Time and Newsweek, among many others.

Bruce Springsteen In Focus 1980 – 2012 is her unique photographic tribute to one of the most iconic and amazing rock performers of all time; and this wonderful collection of photographs, a true labour of love, is beautifully published on glossy paper in a large scale hardback format that helps to bring the pages alive and does the photographs justice.

See photos from Bruce Springsteen In Focus 1980 – 2012.

Bruce Springsteen In Focus 1980 – 2012 – Photographs by Debra L. Rothenberg is published by Turn The Page Publishing. Digg Technorati Blinklist Furl Reddit
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Tags: Music Books

Keith Richards on Keith Richards – Interviews and Encounters, book review

Terry Lane - Tuesday 25.03.14, 22:26pm

Keith Richards on Keith Richards – Interviews and Encounters

Keith Richards on Keith Richards – Interviews and Encounters

Over the past 50 years there has been as many books published on Keith Richards than The Rolling Stones have released studio albums.  So as part of the 50 years celebration, why publish yet another book on Rolling Stoned stalwart and Glimmer Twin, Keith Richards; and more precisely, why should anyone be interested in this book?

Similar to Keith Richards’ critically acclaimed autobiography Life which won the Norman Mailer Book Prize in 2011, Keith Richards on Keith Richards – Interviews and Encounters offers a very candid look into one of the most interesting and enduring characters of rock music’s legends.  But for anyone who has read Keith’s autobiography, this collection of interviews spread across the fifty years of The Rolling Stones will still hold enough interest and appeal; and for those who have only read second-rate biographies of the band or Keith Richards, there is plenty of reason to read this fascinating book.

Superbly edited by journalist and writer Sean Egan, Keith Richards on Keith Richards is a collection of 18 different interviews from between 1964 to 2011 including articles from GQ, Melody Maker, and Rolling Stone magazine, as well as interviews that have never previously appeared in print.  The collection charts Keith Richards’s journey from gauche, young pretender and swaggering epitome of the zeitgeist to beloved elder statesman of rock; and while I have always turned away from the domineering, money-minded, controlling and somewhat embarrassing dress sense of Mick Jagger, like many others I see the heart of The Rolling Stones and their love affair with the blues is embodied by Keith Richards

Keith Richards is a rock and roll renegade who, in his youth, played vicious outlaw music, the soul survivor or the cat with nine lives who fought in the rock and roll wars and survived.

Among the topics covered in this book, Keith openly discusses the highs and lows of both personal life and the history of the Rolling Stones including the death of the Stones’ founder member and friend Brian Jones, the Altamont incident where a fan was stabbed to death by hells angels who accused him of pulling a gun on Mick Jagger, the rift between him and Mick Jagger, and of course his battle with drink and drugs.

As for the music, the interviews really reflect in detail his love for the original blues legends and his love of that style of music. He talks about recording Exile on Main Street in a rented house in the south of France, recording other albums, and his life as a songwriter with Mick Jagger.

Keith Richards on Keith Richards offers a historic look at one of the most interesting and iconic guitarists in rock history, through his own words and in doing so, is a fascinating read for anyone well versed in the Rolling Stones or wants an insight into one of rock music and life’s great survivors.

Keith Richards on Keith Richards – Interviews and Encounters is part of the Musicians In Their Own Words series that includes John Coltrane, Jimi Hendrix, Miles Davis, Bruce Springsteen, Leonard Cohen, Led Zeppelin & Tom Waits.

Keith Richards on Keith Richards – Interviews and Encounters is published in paperback by Chicago Review Press. Digg Technorati Blinklist Furl Reddit
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Tags: Music Books · Review

Stiff Little Fingers – No Going Back, album review

Terry Lane - Tuesday 25.03.14, 14:37pm

Stiff Little Fingers are set to release their 10th studio album, “No Going Back” on 5th May 2014.

Stiff Little Fingers

In 1977, while the London Punk scene was lead by the likes of The Sex Pistols, The Clash & The Damned, an angry young band called Stiff Little Fingers formed amidst the violence and hatred in Northern Ireland.  They had no need to sing of anarchy, riots or roses.  Their songs and lives were full of real hatred, killings and religious-fuelled politics.

They initially wrote about their own experiences growing up at the height of ‘the troubles’ in Northern Ireland.  Their songs portrayed real life issues and were guided by the gravel pit vocals of Jake Burns. In November of ‘77, they released two songs on their own Rigid Digits label, and sent a copy to Radio One DJ John Peel.  “Suspect Device” and “Wasted Life” perfectly encapsulated the anger and frustration of what it was like to be a teenager growing up in Belfast in the 1970s.

The critically acclaimed debut album, Inflammable Material was released in 1978 on Rough Trade and hit singles such as “Nobody’s Hero”, “At The Edge” and “Listen” had Stiff Little Fingers regularly appearing on Top Of The Pops until they decided to call it a day in 1983.

In 1987 Jake Burns & bass player Ali Mcmordie played some reunion shows which led to Stiff Little Fingers reforming with original member Henry Cluney and long-time drummer Dolphin Taylor.

Since then the Stiff Little Fingers have continued to tour with various line-ups (including Bruce Foxton between 1991-2006) and released a further 5 studio albums, the last being Guitar and Drum in 2003.  This year they prepare to release their 10th studio album, No Going Back, in May.

No Going Back is the first studio album I have listened to since 1981’s Go For It.  Along with Inflammable Material and Nobody’s Hero, these were three of the finest albums to be released in the post-punk period.  But to an angry, disillusioned 18 year old’s ears the fourth album, Now Then… (1982) found SLF no longer standing at the edge but erring towards a more distasteful commercial pop rock sound.

To me, No Going Back sounds like they have picked up the baton and run with it pretty successfully.  The Stiff Little Fingers sound of the Now Then remains, if not by a matured and milder Jake Burns voice, and includes 12 new songs including the stand out track “When We Were Young” which most resembles those heady days of all our youths, including a perfectly sampled homage from their 1979 single “At The Edge”.

Recorded and mixed in California other songs include “Full Steam Backwards” which begins with throbbing bass and guitar riff reminiscent of California’s finest – The Dead Kennedys ‘Holiday in Cambodia’; also the rock out “Don’t Mind Me” and the Celtic folk-influenced “Guilty As Sin” complete with penny whistle and acoustic guitar.

To accompany the new album, Stiff Little Fingers are currently amidst a UK tour where undoubtedly fans will be waiting for the first distorted guitar chord of “Alternative Ulster“, and the marching drum beat of “Johnny Was“.  But scattered among renditions of those classic songs will be tracks from the new album; and though they may not be filled with the anger and desperation of misspent youth, they won’t sound so obvious or clearly distinct as to be written by a bunch of 50-somethings in the warmth and luxury of LA rather than the war-torn streets of Belfast.

Stiff Little Fingers – No Way Back tracklist:

1.    ”Liar’s Club” – 3:43
2.    ”My Dark Places” – 4:08
3.    ”Full Steam Backwards” – 4:19
4.    ”I Just Care About Me” – 3:16
5.    ”Don’t Mind Me” – 3:11
6.    ”Guilty As Sin” – 3:50
7.    ”One Man Island” – 3:46
8.    ”Throwing It All Away” – 3:25
9.    ”Good Luck with That” – 2:47
10.    ”Trail of Tears” – 4:36
11.    ”Since Yesterday Was Here” – 4:07
12.    ”When We Were Young” – 4:24

Stiff Little Fingers UK tour dates for March / April are as follows:

Wed 19th March – Nottingham, Rock City
Fri 21st March – Wolverhampton, Wulfrun Hall
Sat 22nd March – Manchester, The Ritz
Sun 23rd March – Leamington Spa, The Assembly
Mon 24th March – Peterborough, The Cresset
Wed 26th March – Norwich, The Waterfront
Thu 27th March – Ipswich, Corn Exchange
Fri 28th March – London, The Forum
Sat 29th March – Bristol, O2 Academy
Mon 31st March – Exeter, Phoenix
Tue 1st April – Portsmouth, Pyramid Centre

Stiff Little Fingers are set to release their 10th studio album, No Going Back on 5th May 2014. Digg Technorati Blinklist Furl Reddit
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Tags: Album · Indie Rock · Punk Rock · Review · UK Tour

Nine Below Zero remastered ‘Don’t Point Your Finger’ & ‘The Third Degree’

Terry Lane - Tuesday 18.03.14, 14:24pm

Following the remastered re-release of Nine Below Zero’s debut album  ‘Live At The Marquee’ in 2012, and ‘A to Zed – The Very Best of’ compilation on Zed Records in 2013, Universal has released remastered copies of Nine Below Zero’s first two studio albums ‘Don’t Point Your Finger’ and ‘Third Degree’.  Both releases come complete with a second disc of bonus material.

Nine Below Zero were formed in 1977 and over a couple of years built up a loyal following in and around London as they became known for their high tempo, energetic blues rock live performances. In 1979 they were signed to A&M Records and somewhat fell into the current wave of Mod Revival, with the likes of The Jam.

Capturing their raw, live energy, their debut album  ‘Live At The Marquee’ was released in 19980.  But it was with their first two studio albums that Nine Below Zero peaked both critically and commercially.

Don’t Point Your Finger (1981) was recorded in 12 days at Olympic Sound Studios in Barnes and produced by the legendary Glyn Johns.

Don’t Point Your Finger by Nine Below Zero

Don’t Point Your Finger by Nine Below Zero

Lead singer & guitarist Dennis Greaves says, “We were walking in the footsteps of some of the all-time greats. Led Zeppelin’s first album was recorded there, along with “Who’s Next” and “Beggars Banquet” by The Stones. It was the most inspiring experience”.

Nine Below Zero went on to support both The Who & The Rolling Stones.  The double CD release includes a live performance recorded for the BBC in 1981 at The Granary Club in Bristol.

The Third Degree by Nine Below Zero

The Third Degree by Nine Below Zero

The Third Degree was released in 1982 and included the single 11+11 which was performed on the first episode of cult TV show, The Young Ones. This was to be the bands final album with A&M and spent six weeks in the album chart. David Bailey, renowned photographer of The Beatles, The Stones and the Kray Twins (to name a few), took the photograph for the album front cover artwork.

Nine Below Zero originally recorded the album with Glyn Johns, at his studio in Sussex. But A&M rejected the recording stating it was too raw. The band went on to re-record it with Simon Boswell.

Glyn Johns’ original recording is available here as a bonus disc, along with the original release of the album.

Dennis Greaves says “I think it will be interesting for fans to see how a series of songs can sound so different and how the production process affects the finished article”.

Don’t Point Your Finger’ and ‘The Third Degree’ by Nine Below Zero are released through Universal. Digg Technorati Blinklist Furl Reddit
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Tags: 1980s · Album · Blues · New Wave

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