Friday, 31 October 2014

Sounds Like Interview: Thomas Truax - Feelin' Bad For Dracula



It's Halloween. Boo. Scary scary spooky Friday frolics to you all. I'm really really chuffed to bits to be bringing you the third in my occasional "Sounds Like" interview series, in which I don my Pringle sweater, sit in a leather chair on a beige set, fire up the Parkinson theme tune and quiz the best music stars, so you don't have to. Or something.

Mighty mighty pleased to say that I've managed to grill Thomas Truax for you. I mean, not literally, I know it's halloween and everything, but he isn't inside my George Foreman with a parsley garnish. No, rather I have quizzed him on his latest musical offering, his hopes for world peace and whether or not he'd like to bite my neck. I know. Questions we all need to know the answers to.

Here's the interview. Oh, and before I forget, here is the frankly wonderful video to his new single which I already reviewed here.


Thanks for agreeing to answer a few questions for the blog, Thomas - I really appreciate your time - it's great to be featuring your new single. 
Thanks for spreading the good word!  Unlike with Jehovah's Witnesses and so on, we are only allowed one night a year to do this when we are releasing Halloween records.
1.) Firstly – BOO! Did I scare you – what with it being Halloween and everything?
Yes.  I scare easily, I should cut back on the coffee and try to get some more sleep I guess.
2.) OK, seriously, the new single is really cool and I love your sense of theatre and spectacle – especially in the video, which has a real feel of vaudeville. Does being a master of the dark arts come naturally to you?
I'm glad you like it, thanks.  I've never really thought of myself as being a 'master of the dark arts', or a master of anything really, except maybe of Hornicator playing (but even with that there's certainly room to grow). But yes I've always felt naturally inclined to a kind of love of most things nocturnal, and old fashioned show business as well.  It worried my parents a lot, and other people around me.  But then I discovered the world is made up of both night and day people, and show people tend to be night people, generally.  We night people have it easier, there's a lot less traffic on the road to contend with.  
3.) The new song sees you collaborating with Brian Viglione from The Violent Femmes/The Dresden Dolls. Is collaboration with other artists something you’re keen to explore more of in the future?
I became a sort of solo artist/ one-man-band through necessity rather than desire initially. I really like working with other people, especially when you've got the same goals in mind, or creative simpatico.  I felt that working with Brian (we laid down a lot of -as of now still unfinished - tracks, so there is more to come) and in the past I've worked with a lot of other people, especially on my early 'solo' records.  Even live initially I didn't feel very comfortable playing alone so I'd always have 'special guests' come on.  But I got more confident as a solo performer and my invented instruments started taking on personalities, which may be partly loneliness/insanity on my part.  Mostly it was the economics of it. He who travels alone travels fastest, and all that. But it's healthy to collaborate at least now and then.
4.) You’re having a Halloween party – which musicians/singers/creatives would you invite to join you and why?
Screamin' Jay Hawkins, David Lynch, Captain Sensible, Siouxsie Sioux, Leonard Cohen, Sun Ra, Nancy Sinatra, Cibo Matto and Karen O.  Because they'd all dress well and it would sound out of this world.
5.) Can you let my readers know if you’ve got any live shows coming up?
Tonight!  (Halloween) I'm playing in Dortmund, Germany at the Theater Dortmund. That may be the last show for a while, but there'll be a lot more touring coming up in the not-too-distant future. 
6.)  If I ask nicely, will you bite my neck? I feel kind of left out after watching the video…
What blood type are you?
I'm A Rhesus Ready Salted....for those of you that are interested....

Thanks again to Thomas for a great interview, hope you all enjoyed reading it and I hope you'll go forth and purchase the new single and give it your support.

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Co-Pilgrim - Plumes

Co-pilgrim - Plumes

A second post for Blog Super Sunday and I'm back with something else to tickle your aural muscles and give you something to smile about.

What can I offer you? Well, I can offer you this, gentle, lovely readers (at least one of you must be gentle and lovely...admit it, go on...). The new album by Co-Pilgrim, called "Plumes" - and more specifically the new single to be taken from it, a wonderful track called "Pushover".

Of course I know by now you're all dying to hear it - so without further ado, here's a link to the video, so you can see/hear:


The first thing that struck me, apart from the lovely guitar sounds, were the harmonies. Such really clear, pitch perfect harmonies. I'm a bit of a sucker for anything like that and this track has them in abundance - it's a sort of Simon and Garfunkel-y/Alt-Country-y tinged wonderfulness that makes you feel a little bit like you're being hugged by a wall of comforting voices. 

Co-Pilgrim are another act that are new to thegeneral's radar, but a very welcome one - especially given my fondness for lo-fi, maudlin tunesmithery with wonderfully morose and sepia tinged lyrics. "Plumes" is a pretty excellent album which, given how much I've fallen in love with "Pushover" was a given. So, I urge you to give Mike Gale and friends (for it is they who make up this super act) a go...

You can check out the band's site here:


And you can make your purchase of the new album from here:


Do it. That's all. 



WhiteMoor - Horizons



Welcome to Blog Super Sunday, which doesn't really mean anything other than "Oh shit, thegeneral hasn't had time to update all week and now she's writing alllllllll the reviews in one go".

So, for this first post of the day - what can I offer thee, gentle readers?

I can offer you WhiteMoor, that's what I can offer you.

First of all, the necessaries - have a look at the band's website and if you'd be so very kind thank you please, have a listen to their latest (2nd) album "Horizons":

WhiteMoor

open.spotify.com/album/40bdO0VNyJp60bux3OnNDe

Although the album came out last year, the latest (and final) single from the record "On Top Of The World" came out at the tail end of Summer, and it's well well worth a listen.

WhiteMoor are from Derby and are very very new to thegeneral's radar - and a very welcome addition they are to it too. In fact, I'm slightly gutted I've missed out on them for so long! This album is a corker if you like perfectly honed indie that is well polished and has just a hint of maths-rock to it. They have great catchy, intricate riffs and vocalist Benny Ryan has a really excellent voice, powerful and just the right side of rocky emotion.

Standout tracks besides the last, awesome single are "Run Along" (a nice muted start with a lovely guitar pick) "Don't Hold Me Down" and opening track "High Lights" which is a brilliant start to the album.

Although this record has been out a while, if you haven't heard of WhiteMoor before, now is the time to get them into your life. And that's an order.

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Thomas Truax with Brian Viglione - Feelin' Bad For Dracula

Feelin' Bad for Dracula - Single, Thomas Truax

Boo! Did I make you jump? Oh. OK then. Play it your way. I'll just turn the other way and talk to the people that really care. Mother, are you reading this...?

It's Spooky Saturday on the blog and I'm very pleased to be bringing you an awesome record which is going to be released on Monday, just in time for Halloween. It's another exciting sound via those lovely lovely skeletal bods at the ghostly PindropPublicity (wooooooooooo) etc. OK, I'll quit it with the scary stuff before it gets old.

Anyway, here you go. First of all, the usuals - hoik your bones over to the iTunes page to have a listen to Thomas Truax with Brian Viglione and their new single "Feelin' Bad For Dracula"

itunes.apple.com/us/album/feelin-bad-for-dracula-single/id920127729

As previously mentioned it's out on 27th October, there'll be a video to follow and I'll verily update the page when that is out - but in the meantime, this is a corker of a track. It's very morose, mean and moody and lots of other things beginning with M and I loves it a heck of a lot. It's got a nicely dubby edge to it and Truax has a voice very much in the rich baritone style that really makes my thighs moist. It's darkly melancholy without being too over the top and it's a perfect accompaniment to All Hallow's Eve.

It's definitely well worth a listen and a purchase and if you don't buy it, I'm coming round to your house to trick or treat and I won't leave until you admit defeat and spend your cash on it. And nobody deserves to be scared like that...

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Cats Park - A Taste of Heaven

A Taste of Heaven cover art

Welcome to Sunday you big bunch of reprobates. How are you all doing? Well, I hope. ANSWER ME AND TAKE YOUR ELBOWS OFF THE TABLE WHEN I'M TALKING TO YOU...

Ahem.

Anyway. I think judging by the tone of the opening sentence I'm in need of something to calm to troubled waters of my mind and I think I might just have it...and, because I'm nice, I'm going to share it with you. Possibly.

No, I am really.

I'm really a huge fan of electronica and I don't get to feature nearly enough of it on here. So, first of all, a clarion call - if you are an electronica act, please contact me (thegeneralmusicblog@googlemail.com) if you'd like your kit and kaboodle reviewing. Today's post features just such an act and I'm really pleased to introduce you to Cats Park.

First of all, hoik your lapels over to their bandcamp page and have a listen to their latest album "A Taste of Heaven":

catspark.bandcamp.com/

Whilst the album came out at the end of last year, the reason for this post is that (I am reliably informed) the band have made it to the first round of nominations for next year's (2015) Grammy Awards - and, from listening to the record it is easy to see why.

The last single from the album "In My Room" is a corker. It's a really nice melding of perfect pop and trippy, wistful sounds. Vocalist Faijee has one of those voices that is instantly soothing and eminently listenable to and the entire album feels like a great crossover between good indie guitar songs and dubby keyboard goodness.

Some people feel that electronica can be a little bit one-note and a bit too samey. Cats Park prove that it isn't, that there's plenty variety in the genre and that they're not afraid to experiment with unusual soundscapes.

Definitely one to add into your collection if you're already a fan of the genre, or simply want something to listen to that will gently lower you into the world of electronic music without being too much, too soon. You won't have heard the last of Cats Park, regardless - definitely one to watch (and listen to) now and in the future.

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Jon Byrne - The Bitch And Her Greed



Yeah. I'm back. Back and badder than a bad thing that went to Bad University and graduated with a First Class Honours degree in Bad. Read me and weep. Weep for my badness and realise you'll never, ever be as bad as me, even if you try and copy. So ner.

Now then, for this second offering today, I'm going in a totally opposite direction to the previous post and kind of semi slowing things down a little.

I'd really like to introduce you to the wonderful, wonderful sound of Jon Byrne. Eye candy with proper talent. Something for everyone. Just what we all need.

First of all, some necessaries - here's Jon's website:

jonbyrne.co.uk/

...so you can go and familiarise yourselves with his work so far, his blog and his all round genuinely lovely awesomeoness.

Now here's the link to his new single "The Bitch And Her Greed"

soundcloud.com/jonbyrneraretracks/the-bitch-and-her-greed

Before we go any further, I'd just like to thank Jon for taking the time and trouble to write my life story and turn it into a song...wait...what...what...you mean it isn't about me? Oh...must try harder next time.

Anyway, what can I tell you about it. Well, it's great. Yeah! Seriously, this is another kind of departure for the blog as it's probably one of the first times I've ever featured a more blues inspired artist and not before time either. Jon's style is superb, it's witty, it's laid back yet very caustic and his lyrics go straight for the jugular. "The Bitch And Her Greed" is a cracking little number, one of those songs that you need to hear only once or twice till it sticks with you. A genuine delight to listen to and someone who really does deserve to be heard, not only for the great music, but for his clever, urbane lyrics.

If you like a departure from indie, or really heavy guitar based bands - and want someone fresh and inventive to listen to then give Jon Byrne some serious time. "The Bitch And Her Greed" should become an instant classic.

The Black Delta Movement - The Trip

The Trip - Single, The Black Delta Movement

Happy Sunday everybody - and I hope today finds you all well and dandy. I love the way the light catches your hair, by the way. It really takes my mind off your bleary, red eyes.

What can I offer you for this lazy weekend afternoon?

Well, something pretty totes amazeballs, as I believe the youth of today say.

The Black Delta Movement. Oh yes. Just the name was enough to get me running to listen to them and I wasn't disappointed. They've got a new single out called "The Trip", which is a cover of the 1965 Kim Fowley classic - which, I'm reliably informed is a song he wrote after a pleasant sojourn to Llandudno one weekend, to take in the sea air, drink tea and eat scones*

It's probably not a particularly obvious choice for a cover, which is a good thing - I like bands that swerve away in directions you don't expect and their interpretation is a really good, solid one, that manages to instill the vibe of the original, but at the same time allows the band's own strengths and character shine through. The Black Delta Movement describe themselves as a heavy garage rock and roll outfit and that's certainly true of this, though this cover does have many psychedelic elements to it.

You can watch/listen to the new single here:


...and, if you love what you hear (and I hope you jolly well do, you ungrateful bunch of scrotes...) then you can then spend some of your hard earned pennies on buying the single from here:

itunes.apple.com/gb/album/the-trip-single/id923791455

Check out their previous releases too, especially last year's "Ghost Dance" EP, very very much worth a listen/purchase if your funds can run to it.

You might not have heard them here first, but you should make The Black Delta Movement's new single an essential part of your autumn playlist.

(*this may possibly be a lie)

Saturday, 11 October 2014

James Poole - Runaway



Here we are for a second time on this sumptuous Saturday and we're slowing the pace right down again. I'm absolutely intent on trying to make you weep buckets with my musical offerings this weekend. Following on from the last post, I'm now about to offer you something else that will induce all the right emotions, but not necessarily in the right order (to paraphrase Eric Morecambe).

For this second blog, I'd really like to introduce you to the wonderful James Poole. No, he's not in my front room, waiting nervously to shake your hand, but last week he kindly tweeted me to ask if I'd take a listen to his new single and maybe happenstance perambulate my way to writing a review of it.

First things first, you can listen to James' new single here:


Now isn't that just lovely? It's a proper heartbreaker - without being mawkishly sentimental. It's got a beautifully plaintive vocal performance married with a powerful piano accompaniment. It's what I often refer to as "rainy window music", you know what I mean? The sort of tracks you can imagine sitting indoors listening to, in the autumn, as dusk settles and rain gently trickles down the panes. 

If you'd like to hear more about James you can follow him on Le Twitter here: 
https://twitter.com/JamesPooleParty
https://twitter.com/JamesPoole_

and on Facebook
https://www.facebook.com/JamesPooleHQ

and on YouTubes
https://www.youtube.com/user/jspvoice

Listen and love!

Sounds Like Interview: The Magic Lantern - Love Of Too Much Living

Love Of Too Much Living cover art

Ahoy there and Happy Saturday. And it really is a Happy Saturday too as I'm about to bring you the second of my "Sounds Like" interview features, which I hope you enjoy reading (and if you don't, please keep it to yourself, I can't stand audience participation). 

Today, I'm exceptionally pleased to be bringing you yet another fine act associated with PinDrop Publicity. The Magic Lantern and the exceptional new album "Love Of Too Much Living". Jamie Doe, the brilliant singer/songwriter/musical genius behind the act agreed to be gently probed by me (and I mean, who wouldn't fancy having that done...?) and here is the end result, chaos, classical guitars and Kleenex. No finer combination I think you'll agree. 

1. Your new album “Love Of Too Much Living” seems like a real labour of love – and it has a very intense feel to it. Do you think that keeping the instrumentation as simple as possible plays a part in this?

Yes I was really keen with this record to focus on the intensity that comes with stripping everything away, of trying to distill something to make it stronger. I think of these songs as miniatures, where the world, mood or experience they suggest is greater than the sum of their parts. In the same way an artist implies a face with a few lines, I spent a long time in the studio thinking about how I could make each song more powerful by the space I leave around it. I know for some people, all they’ll hear is what is there but I like the idea that with so much space, you leave room for the listener to colour in the arrangement themselves.

2. I noticed from your bio that you studied philosophy. Do you feel that this influences your lyric writing?

Ha! I don’t know! Certainly not stylistically as the language of analytic philosophy is pretty dry. If there is a connection it’s that the same impulse which drives me to write songs is what drew me to study philosophy. I’m curious about people. I think we’re remarkably fragile but surprisingly resilient and I have this urge to tell people that it’s going to be alright. I think that most of the time we’re doing our best but I really believe we could be better. Trying to understand what that could be but forgiving ourselves when we fail to reach it is something I think about a lot.

3. The album was recorded live – I love the idea of this, as I think you can capture more emotional depth and genuine feeling that way – would you agree or not?

Recording the album live was something that just felt like the right thing for these songs but posed some technical challenges in the studio. I don’t think it’s the only way to convey emotional depth, there are plenty of very moving studio albums where everything is multi-tracked, chopped, diced and edited but for the kind of record I wanted to make I wanted to create the impression of playing the songs directly to the listener in a very personal way. The way I play and the type of songs means there will always be some imperfections with each take. It took me a little while to be comfortable with that but once I stopped worrying that every take had to be perfect it freed me up to concentrate on ‘performing’ the songs rather than trying to just ‘record’ them and I think that helped to make each track sound like its being played just for you. 

4. From listening to the tracks, I can see that there may be inevitable comparisons drawn between your style and other artists like perhaps Jeff Buckley and Nick Drake, but there are also some lovely traditional folk music touches too – such as in your song “28 Years Old”. Who has influenced your music most – whether well known or otherwise?

Influences are a funny thing. I grew up listening to a lot of jazz and as a kid I always wanted to be a jazz pianist before picking up the electric guitar when I was 16 and wanting to play like Jimi Hendrix, then when I was 18 I got a classical guitar and wanting to play like Bert Jansch. But the singer that has influenced me the most is definitely Chet Baker. He sings with a such an unshowy simplicity that long before I started writing my own songs I’d learnt to sing along to all of his records. After Chet, there are just so many… when I lived in Bristol I discovered West African music for the first time and played in this crazy group with a flamenco guitarist, kora player, mbira player, I learnt so much in those three years. Since then, I’ve tried to play and learn as much as I can about lots of music but in particular I’ve been very lucky to spend time and becomes friends with a lot of musicians who really inspire me like This Is The Kit, Nick Mulvey, Fred Thomas, Sam Lee, Zac Gvi, Jiri Slavik, Alabaster DePlume and too many to name here!

5. The record was released on 29th September. Can you let my readers know if you’ve got any gigs planned to promote the album?

Yes the album came out on the 29th September and I’m currently on a UK tour promoting it. I hope some of your readers can come along to one!

09/10              The Speak Easy at Fudge Hull^
10/10              The Fuel CafĂ©                      Manchester^
12/10              The Independent Cafe       Scunthorpe^
16/10              Catweazle Club                   Oxford
20/10              St Pancras Old Church      London 
24/10              The Grain Barge                  Bristol* 
25/10              The Goods Shed                  Stroud*
26/10              The Lexington                      London*
27/10              Norwich Arts Centre            Norwich* 
28/10              Portland Arms                       Cambridge*
29/10              The Loft Sessions                Brighton*
30/10              Railway                                  Winchester* 
31/10              UCLU Folk Society              London
02/10              The Jam Factory                  Oxford
12/11              The Green Note                   London
18/11              Woodburner                          London
19/11              Bath Gallery                          Bath
05/12              House Show                            Fife
10/12              The Carlton Cinema             Westgate^
11/12              The Lighthouse                    Deal^
13/12              Irregular Folk                        Oxford

 6. I played this album late last night and again this morning. It did actually make me cry, both times. Will you pay for my next box of tissues?

Yes of course I’ll pay for the tissues! But seriously, I’m really glad you were able to relate to it. Since the record has been out I’ve been really pleased to see different people’s reactions to it and how different some interpretations are from what I thought about when I wrote the songs. More than anything though, I hope people who hear this record are able to find in it something that speaks to them and their own experience.

7. What’s next for you? I mean obviously, I think being interviewed by me is the pinnacle and it’ll be hard to top it…but...

Well after I get over the honor of The General interview, I’m focusing on touring for the rest of the year as well as getting together a collection of covers and remixes of the songs from ‘Love Of Too Much Living’ by some friends and fellow musicians including Rozi Plain, Sam Lee, Emilia Martnesson, This Is The Kit and others. It’s going to be out as a free download before Christmas along with a special vinyl version of the album which I’m really excited about. Then I’m going to lie down, sleep for a few days, and then go away somewhere to think about the next one!

You can find out more about Jamie here:

And follow him on Le Twitter here:
@magiclanternuk

You can also buy his astonishingly fantastic album here:

Please please consider giving The Magic Lantern an hour or two of your time, this is quite simply a delightful album, start to finish. 



Sunday, 5 October 2014

The August List - O Hinterland

O Hinterland cover art

Yes. I know. It seems you can't get enough of me today. A hat trick of blog posts for this very very musical Sunday. What can I offer you for this final installment? Something very different, and very very most outstanding.

Eagle eyed readers of these pages (yes, I'm looking at you...I LOVE what you've done to your hair, by the way...) will know by now that I've featured marvellous purveyors of alt-country perfectness The August List twice already. I really love them a lot, and their last single "Cut Yr Teeth" was a precursor to their new album "O Hinterland" which has now, gloriously been released.

First of all, as always, the necessaries. Hoik your tramtracks over to their bandcamp page, have a listen and make your purchase thereof.

theaugustlist.bandcamp.com/

This is, as expected, a pretty phenomenal album. It contains the previously mentioned single "Cut Yr Teeth" plus last year's brilliant "High Town Crow".

But that's not all. No. There are some other real gems too. In particular, thegeneral really loved "All To Break", "Snake In The Eagle's Shadow" and closing track "Cabin Fever". "All To Break" in particular is a really raw, powerful song. One of those tracks that seems to come from the band's feet and spread upwards in a glorious breakout of emotionally charged depth. "Cabin Fever" is a really superb way to close the album, gently lulling us out - the calm after the energetic storm.

I like the fact that both Kerraleigh and Martin are not afraid to trade vocal places, that they both get an equal footing in the songs and that it doesn't detract from the power of the tracks, having them do so. Both bring their own level of emotional intensity to the tracks, but both are different and unique enough to make it not sound like they're competing with each other.

I always bemoan the fact I never get enough alt-country/blues type acts to feature on these pages. The August List have justifiably become a regular feature of mine and long may they continue. "O Hinterland" is quite simply a brilliant album and one I urge you to give a try - even if you're new to this genre and unsure. You really won't regret it.






The Whereabouts - I Don't Care



Two blog posts for the price of one. You can't say fairer than that of a weekend, can you? Thegeneral is actually in swinging sixties mode today, so following on from the brilliance of The Everglows, I'm keeping up the theme and bringing The Whereabouts to your attention.

I was genuinely really excited to get be contacted and asked to review these guys. They've been on my radar for a little while after the release of their initial recordings last year and their new EP "I Don't Care" has just been released. You can buy it by clicking on the following link:

i-dont-care/id914085170

The Whereabouts are a genuinely exciting prospect for the future. First of all, they've got real raw, musical talent. "I Don't Care" is a massively exciting EP. It's easy to see who their influences are, and who they take inspiration from, but there's more to them than just being a "painting by numbers" copycat band. Their songs are original, really interesting and solidly constructed. If the opening track to this collection of songs does not hook you in with it's awesome kick arse riff, then you have no soul. NO SOUL, I TELL YOU - AND WE CANNOT BE FRIENDS. SO THERE.

I mentioned in my last review of The Everglows, there were flashes of early *whispers* Status Quo. Here, in this EP, particularly in track two "Money and Fame" the guitars have that same feel, that same, real force and power, the same type of catchy hooks.

There simply isn't a bad track here. Every one of them will draw you in, in some way. The Whereabouts are an exciting, fresh act - with a real genuine energy to their music and their approach. Thegeneral cannot wait to see what they come up with next and in the meantime, spend some of your hard earned pennies on buying "I Don't Care".




The Everglows - Sugary Sun

Sugary Sun cover art

Hello and Happy Weekend you big bunch of deviants. It's Sunday. A time for quiet contemplative reflection, tea, toast and Songs of Praise. If you're like, a total square and stuff. If you're me, you're probably rocking silently back and forth, ruing all your missed chances in life and wondering whether you'll ever be a contender. Charley.

Sometimes what you need to get you out of your stupor is a kick arse tune and I actually think I have it for you today.

Please behold The Everglows, go to their bandcamp page and listen to their latest track "Sugary Sun"

theeverglows.bandcamp.com/

Oh you know what, I absolutely love this. It's got a brilliant sixties vibe to it. Hush hush a moment, I'm about to utter something that might be a bit of an anathema to you. EARLY STATUS QUO. Yes. This reminds me of early Status Quo, when they were massively brilliant. Before they became laminated to their three power chord sheet.

I love the opening riff. I love the slightly distorted, muted vocal. I love the dissonance in it. It really does have a wonderful psychedelic, trippy feel to it. The more you play it, the more far out you feel. I think this could actually be one of my contenders for "track of the year", in all honesty. Something about it has really grabbed me by the loon pants.

So. I'm actually heartily pleading with you all to give this excellent band your support, go to their bandcamp page and buy their track. I'm genuinely excited by it, and really can't wait to see what they might come up with next...(that's an order, gents...don't let me down...)