ME’SHA BRYAN - MAYBE TODAY MBCD001
Wolverhampton’s Me’sha Bryan has released a brilliant debut album of excellent, stylishly arranged songs. Some, like Maybe Today, are old favourites. Others, such as Anyway, were completed more recently. Me’sha wrote all of them herself, often curled up next to the living room radiator of her flat. Lyrics, melodies and 99% of the backing vocals and chords (harmony and arrangements) are also by Me’sha. The MD, Alan Mian, helped where needed and produced the entire album, which was recorded on Al’s computer at each band members’ house then mastered in Italy. Most of what you hear on the album are first takes, giving the music a warm, intimate atmosphere. Me’sha started writing these songs whilst on tour with The Australian Pink Floyd Show and some ideas came to her via the psychedelic bathroom tiles in a German hotel. Some were written on a sunny day in Hammersmith and others penned sitting next to the radiator in her cosy flat. ‘I like to sit on the floor. I get that from my Mom and most of my best ideas come to me whilst horizontal or seated on carpet. All of the songs have a story to tell...I could write a book. Each song has its own special significance and is dedicated to someone whether they know it or not!’ Me’sha on vocals, acoustic guitar and backing vocals is joined by a fine band of musicians - producer Alan Mian, who plays bass and percussion, Dave Birnie (electric and acoustic guitars), Francesco Mendolia (drums) and Marc Rapson (keys). Highlights include the life-affirming title track, the gorgeous Come Back To Me, irresistible Where Do We Go?, Stupid (featuring Tosh), the wistful Without You, reflective Back To Nowhere and the haunting Where You Belong. Me’sha’s wonderful, seductive voice has been admired by the likes of Blondie’s Debbie Harry and she sings with real soul, joy and tenderness, giving these songs of experience great emotional depth. Highly recommended. Watch video for Maybe Today.
CARINA ROUND - DERANGED TO DIVINE CARGO DV1017CD
Born in Wolverhampton in 1979, Carina Round is a brilliant singer/songwriter/guitarist now based in Los Angeles. She has worked with the likes of David Gray, Elbow, Ryan Adams, Dave Stewart and Brian Eno, and toured the USA and Europe. This self curated collection of 18 eclectic tracks brings together, for the first time, material released over the last 15 years and taken from her first four critically acclaimed albums: ‘The First Blood Mystery’, ‘The Disconnection’, ‘Slow Motion Addict’, ‘Tigermending’, as well as her EP ‘Things You Should Know’ (featuring the wonderful ‘For Everything a Reason’), together with two previously unreleased recordings - the powerful ‘Gunshot’ and an alternate version of the track ‘Want More’. Other highlights include the Latin-influenced ‘Message to Apollo’, a jazzy ‘How I See It’ and the atmospheric final track, ‘The Secret of Drowning’ (a Brian Eno/Dave Stewart collaboration). This collection perfectly illustrates the uniqueness of Carina Round’s voice, barbed wire lyrics and her catalogue of haunting and beautiful songs. Deranged To Divine makes a great introduction to the music of one of the UK’s most enigmatic singers and extraordinary performers, who constantly pushes boundaries and has created her own unique sound, admired by highly regarded musicians such as Lou Reed. Carina will be touring the UK in August 2016.
GOD DAMN - VULTURES ONE LITTLE INDIAN RECORDS
Wolverhampton based heavy-weights God Damn released a special split single with their friends, chaos-merchants Baby Godzilla, for Record Store Day in April this year. Released through One Little Indian Records on limited edition 10" grey vinyl, the single featured the God Damn track We Don’t Like You, which is one of the highlights on their exciting debut album Vultures’, available on either CD or Vinyl. God Damn began life as a three-piece playing in and around Wolverhampton influenced by alternative rock bands such as The Pixies and early Nirvana. Now consisting of Thom Edward (guitar/vocals) and Ash Weaver (drums) God Damn make music that appears - initially at least - as curt and brutish as their name suggests. But scrape away the layer of the greasy grime that coats their early singles and there is much more on debut album Vultures than just machismo, bombast and bluster. There is nuance and melody. Purpose and meaning. Heartfelt intent. Vultures is a stunning and diverse debut, a dizzying blend of barbed wire guitars, lung-shredding vocals and drums that run away like wild horses. After the opening atmospheric whispers of Horseley Fields, the area where the band practise, the music kicks off in ferocious style with When The Wind Blows and scarcely lets up throughout. Highlights include Silver Spooned - ‘like Blur meets Electric Wizard, Jesus Lizard and MBV’, the instant classic of By The Wayside, the brilliant title track, the explosively epic Skeletons and the surprisingly gentle, reflective Sullen Fun. God Damn play thrilling, gloriously noisy rock music that takes no prisoners. Further cementing their reputation as one of the loudest, most head-pummeling live bands in the UK, God Damn demonstrated their noise to the SXSW Festival in Texas and are preparing to detonate at the Download Festival in June. Highly recommended.
DAN WHITEHOUSE - RAW STATE HEANTUN RECORDS HT009
Wolverhampton-born Dan Whitehouse has been compared to Nick Drake and Richard Hawley, and his influences include artists such as The Beatles, Neil Young, Bob Dylan and Otis Redding. Dan’s latest album features new sings as well as re-workings of previously released material to create something similar to his live show. The record was produced in London by Chris Clarke and Danny George Wilson of Danny and the Champions of the World, who contributes electric guitar, keyboards and backing vocals. Raw State also features drummer Steve Brookes and pedal steel legend BJ Cole, who has previously worked with the likes of REM and Bjork. Other musicians involved include Harriet Harkcom (vocals), Rebecca de Winter (flute and vocals), Simon Smith (bass and vocals), and Tom Billington (banjo and accordion). As Dan says, ‘We recorded the album using traditional methods and techniques - the band set up and played live in the studio - and we mixed the record live too. Over the years of listening, I think the records that have had the greatest emotional impact on me were made in that way.’ The result is a very personal collection of twelve well-crafted songs with fine melodies and heartfelt lyrics - played in an engaging, intimate style. Highlights include the inspiring opening track, Maybe I Too Was Born To Run, the tenderness of They Care For You, a rueful warning in The Fire of Lust, the lovely My Heart Doesn’t Age, and the uplifting Somebody Loves You. Highly recommended.
SCOTT MATTHEWS - HOME PART 1 SAN REMO RECORDS
Wolverhampton’s acclaimed singer-songwriter Scott Matthews recently became the first British artist to be signed to the Nashville-based Thirty Tigers entertainment company and his brilliant new CD has been released on San Remo Records. Home Part 1 is his fourth studio album and the first to be recorded by Scott himself in his home studio without the help of an engineer or producer. The result is his finest album yet, with Matthews’ soulful, haunting voice heard to great effect on eleven introspective, superbly crafted songs, including the single Virginia and a lovely instrumental, The Clearing. Inspired by events in life, the album is dark but wonderfully heartfelt and personal. ‘Our Black Country sky was for Turner black as night, But for us it burns a light like oil burners down the mines, We are grateful, For the land we occupy keeps us grounded...’ As well as acoustic and electric guitars, Matthews plays cello, piano, flute, flugelhorn and drums. Other musicians involved include Sam Martin on drums, Danny Keane on cello and Scott’s older brother, Darren Matthews playing piano on The Clearing and The Night is Young. ‘Engagingly thoughtful and classy singer-songwriter.’ - The Guardian.
VOICE - THE BEST OF BEVERLEY KNIGHT EMI
British soul singer, songwriter and record producer Beverley Knight released her debut album in 1995. Heavily influenced by soul greats such as Sam Cooke and Aretha Franklin, she has released five studio albums and one compilation collection to date. Critically acclaimed as one of Britain’s greatest soul singers, Beverley is best known for classy hit singles such as the disco influenced Greatest Day, dance track Shoulda Woulda Coulda, 2004’s Come As You Are and Made It Back, all of which can be heard on this greatest hits album. Other highlights include her debut single from 1995, Flavour of the Old School, smooth ballads Gold and Who’s Gonna Save Your Soul, and an R&B version of Janis Joplin’s classic Piece of My Heart. Three bonus tracks include her version of Chaka Khan’s Sweet Thing and a live cover of Robbie Williams’ Angels, recorded with a simple piano background and a gospel-style vocal. Highly recommended. Website: http://www.beverleyknight.com
FRANCES BUTT - THE GIRL FROM WOLVERHAMPTON ATLAS ADVENTURES RECORDS
Frances Butt grew up in Wolverhampton as the youngest of ten children, with a Dutch father and German mother. She wrote classical and jazz pieces as a child, played keyboards and sang with a punk band in her teens before working in the film business. Now settled in Bristol, she started writing music again, including film soundtracks and a jazz suite, Calls Of The Wild. She first heard the famous ‘Getz/Gilberto’ album aged about seven and was totally smitten with that smoochy rich sound. This new album features some of the most popular songs ever written by the great bossa nova composers and is packed with funky electronica, toe-tapping band recordings and beautiful ballads. The title is a cheeky homage to that most (in)famous of all Jobim numbers, The Girl From Ipanema, which appears here with a delightfully unique twist. Butt’s ‘silky and praline-smooth’ voice perfectly suits Brazilian Portuguese and her electronic approach to Eu Vim Da Bahia and Agua De Beber brings fresh colour to timeless classics. Highlights include the joyful O Grande Amor and Andy Sheppard adds a gorgeous tenor sax solo to the shimmeringly sultry Corcovado. Keith Warmington’s soulful harmonica lends buzz to the opening O Morro Nao Tem Vez and haunting sadness on E Preciso Perdoar. Guitarist Knud Stüwe sparkles throughout and Tammy Payne’s congas spice up the grooves. Frances Butt’s smoothly seductive voice and clever arrangements truly capture the vibe of this intimate, sophisticated music. Highly recommended. Website: www.francesbutt.com