The Return of the Senior Service – when Barry met Morricone

King Cobra - The Senior Service

King Cobra is the second album from the Medway instrumentalists, The Senior Service.

The opening track starts with a chugging guitar, reminiscent of The Stranglers’ Jean-Jacques Burnel bass sound. The techicolor is restored to the familiar surroundings of the debut album – The Girl in The Glass Case, when the Hammond organ enters the room. Though the added horn section gives a taste of things to come. ‘The Contender ‘ works as a passive entrance  to the second album, setting the mood like the opening scenes of a film.  In fact, there’s nothing to say as much.  But the album plays like a film soundtrack; as do some of the titles.

‘Sophia’ takes a slightly different path – somewhere between Pulp Fiction and Once Upon A Time in a Sergio Leone Spaghetti Western trip.

The album has a distinct Latin-feel and spaghetti western vibe going on, most notably on ‘Cuban Eels’ and the ‘Night Of The Knives’, especially with Day’s guitar twang and the perfect accompaniment of the horns on the latter.

From The Girl in The Glass Case to King Cobra isn’t a giant step.  But with it, The Senior Service have strayed further afield from the path that leads directly to all things John Barry, onto something more akin to Ennio Morricone. Though this new path is kept on a tight leash.  ‘Good Morning Mr Phelps’ brings the album back once again to more of a sixties theme tune comfort zone – not that there’s anything wrong with that.

The recent single ‘Slingshot’ picks up the tempo halfway through the album, and will have hips swinging, feet tapping; and do wonders for keeping the Medway Sound flag flying high. ‘Slingshot’ is pretty much perfect.

The Senior Service sound is defined by the interplay between Graham Day’s guitar and Jonathan Barker’s Hammond organ and how they work together and at times vie for attention.  There is tension in the guitar. Like a Rottweiler on a leash, wanting to turn up to 11 and rock out.  But being kept in check by the Hammond; and as with every great soundclash comes a tightly woven rhythm section, giving the sound a perfect foundation.

‘Slingshot’ perfectly demonstrates this, setting the scene as Day and Barker square off.  Poised, instruments in hand, staring each other down the neck of a Gretsch, as the on-looking crowd are struck with tension – Gunfight at the Medway Sound Corral!

With King Cobra, The Senior Service jump the sometimes ‘difficult’ second album hurdle in flying Panoramic CinemaScope Technicolor by producing, what I believe to be, an even stronger album than what was an exceptional debut.

For those who enjoyed  The Girl in The Glass Case, King Cobra will sound familiar but not only or simply ‘more of the same’.  King Cobra is more than a sequel. It works on the same level , but adds its own qualities and features stronger material, that takes the original idea onwards and upwards.  As far as sequels go, think The Godfather 2 rather than Fast & Furious 7.

King Cobra by The Senior Service will be offically released on 27th April on CD, LP and digital download on Damaged Goods Records.

The Senior Service – King Cobra Album Launch Gig 

The Senior Service will be performing live at The Billbong Club in Rochester, Medway on Friday 20th April.

https://www.facebook.com/events/207462116470567/

Easter new album, Meander Lines – effortless Americana

EasterManchester’s Easter create an Americana Alt Rock sound that effortlessly emanates from the speakers. Meander Lines is their brilliant new album.

The free-improv tendencies of drummer Andrew Cheetham and the twin-guitar effect of Gavin Clarke weaving intricately over Tom Long’s, while Rich Clarke’s driven bass playing gives the songs energy and immediacy. All play out perfectly with Tom Long’s chilled vocal delivery.

Meander Lines is full of strong, catchy songs that have a tendency to stick in your head. Delivered in a remarkably gentle, less frantic but still very powerful sound. Think Dinosaur Jr, Neil Young, Television and The Dream Syndicate.

Since recording their debut album, Innocence Man, singer/guitarist Tom Long spent 2 years on the road as multi-instrumentalist with LoneLady, promoting her second album for Warp, while drummer Andrew Cheetham has been in high demand, touring with Kiran Leonard, Jane Weaver and a host of improv projects. In this interim the band shared ‘How You Spend Yr Time’ online and it was quickly picked by Huw Stephens at BBC Radio 1, yet initial sessions for the follow up were abandoned. After an intense period of writing, re-writing and whittling down a huge batch of material, the band regrouped last year for 2 days of live recording at Eve Studios, Stockport with producer Karl Sveinsson (Gnod/Vanishing) and finished the record at Queen’s Ark in Manchester’s Levenshulme district.

The title sheds light on a difficult process, as Long reflects: ‘it’s an architectural term, when city planners design paths for people to walk, meander lines are the routes they often end up taking instead – shortcuts, cutting across spaces etc. These songs had a long gestation, which became this heavy transition period for me personally and for the band as well, and this seemed to be the perfect metaphor: the strands in your life and in your head that are constantly at work; they get tangled, they unravel, they break in unexpected ways. It also fits the arc of most of our songs, they tend to be heading in a certain direction… then they veer off’.

See Easter Live:
The Victoria, Dalston in London on Thursday 19 April
The Peer Hat in Manchester on Friday 18 May

Easter release ‘Meander Lines’ on 30 March 2018 on Super Smash Hit Records.

Reindeer – Field Reports from the Western Lands

James Reindeer - Field Reports from the Western LandsExperimental artist James Reindeer (known simply as Reindeer) hails from south London. Field Reports from the Western Lands is officially his debut solo album, and is a conceptual sequel to the FBCabric & Reindeer release It’s Not Who You Know, It’s Whom You Know.

Field Reports from the Western Lands is multi-layered, interesting, thought-provoking, broody, powerful and complex album. Reminiscent in part to Dalek, with its heavy dark hip-hop beats and social commentary.  I’m also reminded of Tricky – not so much by the music, but the cross-pollination of sounds and textures.

With Field Reports from the Western Lands, James Reindeer leads you by the hand through a cracked, dysfunctional and dying society. His rap delivered like prophetic sermons from a renegade preacher, in perfect union with Nimrod’s sonic landscapes and hip hop induced post-rock,  interspersed with and field recordings to create a perfect and highly intoxicating, if not somewhat heavy and intense, pleasurable listening experience.

Field Reports from the Western Lands by Reindeer tracklisting:

1. Nmbrsttn01 – ’’…We Live In A World Where…’’
2. Description of a Struggle
3. Black Smoke Columns Into the Frozen Sky – Committee on the Present Danger
4. Ornaments Of Servitude – Nmbrsttn02 – [Atonalnoisefield]
5. Nmbrsttn03 – Monochrome Dream
6. fieldreportsfromthewesternlands
7. Black Helicopters Over Cnnwtz – Nmbrsttn04 – Field Dissonance
8. Children of a Lesser God – Along a Frozen Dawn
9. [Bikiniatoltonepoem] – Nmbrsttn05
10. Black Monoliths Over New Jerusalem – [apparition worship]
11. We Are Shot with Wounds Beneath a Chemical Sky…
12. There Is A Tape Recorder Inside The Sun – Nmbrsttn06
13. Fire Sermon – Wasteland
14. By the Bitter Lake We Sat Down and Wept…
15. Black Clouds Of Static Over Crydn – Nmbrsttn07 – Eyeless In Gaza
16. Eulogy Ongoing – ’’…most people were silent…’’

‘Field Reports from the Western Lands’ by experimental artist Reindeer is scheduled for release on 30 March via Anette Records.

The Science Department – Yesterday’s Sound of Tomorrow Today

The Science Department - Yesterday's Sound of Tomorrow TodayThroughout the 1970’s computers and synthesizers were being used to create experimental music. In the main, UK artists were following in the footsteps of German pioneers such as Kraftwerk and Can.  Both had achieved UK Top 20 singles.  But neither had crossed over into the world of pop.

In the late 1970s bands like The Human League, Ultravox and Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark were erring towards producing more commercial music with synthesizers. But it was a chance meeting between a young Gary Numan and a moog synthesizer that would spawn what was to become known as synth pop, with his 1979 number 1 hit single, ‘Are Friends Electric’. Synthesizers replaced guitars and a new genre was created. But it wasn’t long before synthesized sounds were replaced by real instruments, at least as far as commercial music was concerned.

The new debut album from The Science Department is a throwback to the analogue synth pop sounds of the late 1970s.  Some of the tracks wouldn’t be out of place on either of The Human League’s first two albums (Reproduction & Travelogue); and that is the company this album comfortably sits with.

The Science Department started as a bedroom band.  Nothing more than a side project for two old school friends with a passion for pop music and a love for all things analogue.  But they have steadily built a fanbase via occasional social media output.

Destined to be listed in numerous ‘Best Albums of the Year’ charts, this self-produced 12 track debut album resides in the ‘all thrillers no fillers’ category and should do nothing but gather accolades and praise. It is a truly brilliant album full of well-crafted pop songs that delivers everything you want from an album that proudly oozes oodles of retro synth sounds and perfectly defines yesterday’s sound of tomorrow, today.

The Science Department debut album is scheduled for release on 6th April and is available as a digital download and very limited CD. On Saturday 7th April they make a very rare live appearance  – an Album Launch live show at The Rising Sun in Rochester, Kent.

Mildlife – groovy spacey jazz, funk and disco

Mildlife - PhasePhase is the debut album by Australian quartet, Mildlife released on 23rd February via Research Records.

Mildlife use elements of spacey jazz, funk, psych and disco to produce groovy sunkissed sounds.  Hard to define but easy to listen to, the album constantly expands and refines itself with each track. Space jazz, funk, disco. The songs work well together. The band cite a wide range of influences on their music, from Herbie Hancock to Can, and it shows.

The six track debut album kicks off with the wonderful masterpiece that is ‘The Magnificent Moon’.

Bassist Tom Shanahan comments: “The Magnificent Moon feels like the veteran journeyman to the rest of the album. I’m not sure if that’s because it was written first or because it seems to know what it wants and has a more considered direction. It never really second guesses itself except for maybe just before the outro when he realises he may have journeyed too far and his space suit has a hole in it. But then he just jams some gum in the hole and gets on with it anyway.”

 

Mildlife take the musical canvas, rip the lids off the paint tins, and throw vibrant splashes of colour into kaleidoscopic jams. Old friends, the Australian four-piece bonded over the desire to push musical boundaries, developing tight live shows bolstered by wild improvisation and a debut record that mines jazz, psych and disco for its irresistible groove. A melting pot of musical sensations, Mildlife combine progressive 70s sounds with electronic krautrock, backed by a mixture of rhythmic funk, house, and dream-pop, to create an addictive atmosphere that’s illustrated perfectly by their first single ‘The Magnificent Moon’, out November 3rd via Research Records. The single comes as an introduction to their highly anticipated debut LP ‘Phase’ due out early next year.

Taking cues from artistic pioneers such as Can and Herbie Hancock, creating a Mildlife song is a constant process of teasing and tugging, expanding and refining. But Mildlife are adamantly not a studio band. Between 2014 and 2015 they took a year off playing shows to figure out how they could produce as much of their music live as they possibly could without losing its complexity. “It makes the performance, the composition, more malleable,” says guitarist and multi-instrumentalist Adam Halliwell.

Bassist Tom Shanahan adds “It feels more authentic. The energy can be in the song rather than sitting on top of it. We wanted to leave a lot of room for improvisation.”

Phase is an exceptional debut album from Melbourne-based Mildlife.