THE MULDOONS – Made For Each Other
From the original formation in the infancy of the 90’s, to reunion in 2018 and finally to now, it has been a near-two decade journey for Paisley alternative rock outfit The Muldoons that has at last culminated in the release of their debut album – Made For Each Other.
The melodies are pretty cheerful and bob along at this perky pace, maintained primarily by the stiff, energised drum beats. We get consistent solid work on the guitars, as well as as additional dashes of brass and strings in places – a welcome bonus to the already savoury sound – and the vocals have a nice, sincere and sometimes sentimental core to them.
A regular theme featured in the lyrics across the board is that of revisiting past events with a sense of nostalgia, regret and the like, and needless to say that the aforementioned factor of the singing assists in conveying that to the listening audience where necessary.
The first few songs keep the pulse riding high, especially the intoxicating What Do I Have To Do, but before it starts to wear thin, the guys take a turn at just the right time, calming things down for something more lax and comfortable with Rub It In, and from there they go back and forth between the moods at various junctures.
Given how long of a passage it has been from their humble beginnings, I think I’d be right in saying that The Muldoons’ patience and perseverance has paid off with a splendid record that is invigorating in more ways than one, improving with each subsequent spin as you find yourself digging deeper and unearthing even more bits and pieces that only accentuate your admiration.
JOSH OKEEFE – Bloomin’ Josh Okeefe
When you think of an entertaining UK singer-songwriter who resonates with a pure working class mentality, who springs to your mind? Most would probably say Gerry Cinnamon, and personally I believe Sean McGowan is one of the finest in his field.
But not too long ago, I stumbled across another gentleman who radiated that same vibe perfectly, and that is Derby local Josh Okeefe, who blew me away with his recently released album, the charmingly named Bloomin’ Josh Okeefe.
In the space of one song – We’re All The Same – he has you sitting and listening intently with a perfectly meshed blend of an astounding voice gushing with genuine feeling and a pleasant personality, nice work on the guitar and harmonica, and most notably so, the magnetic lyrics.
That last element continues to be a running theme throughout the record, and the major draw that keeps you incredibly induced, as per Soldier, Young Sailor, and Thoughts & Prayers; the latter a powerful heavy hitter that puts the world into perspective.
Other numbers including Lucille Lucille, When Mother Nature Calls and Rolling With The Punches have such an authentic, old-school humbleness to them in a way that words can’t quite narrow down specifically.
A few cuts really stand out as memorable, such as The Lonely Highway, a flat out catchy ditty with an enticing blues influence, and Talkin’ Neighbour From Hell is insanely amusing with its light-hearted comedic tone.
There are few albums that have put such a cheesy smile on my face lately than Josh Okeefe’s eponymous release, which is jam-packed with rich and meaningful content from end to end, and mark my words, it will certainly rank high with the best of 2020.
It’s no secret that Josh has already established quite a strong and dedicated following by this point, and I can only hope that he continues to strives onward and upwards in the public eye, for he is ridiculously talented and the world should be aware of what he has to offer.
BABY TAYLAH – Good Enough
There are few artists on the Glasgow scene that I can recall who have risen up the ranks as quick as the fabulous Baby Taylah has, but to be fair, she is insanely talented, as you can easily gather from her astonishing Good Enough EP.
For starters, the phenomenal title track spoils us with a lot of wondrous things immediately, with the most conspicuous aspect being the fiercely divine harmonies which are so organic and glistening, whether it’d be low, subtle hums or these gorgeous pitch-spanning vocals; particularly demonstrated in the amazing chorus.
But that’s only the tip of the iceberg, because it seems like everything else falls into place effectively and contributes to the bigger picture. The sound is utterly pristine, primarily formed from a mixture of bright electronic synths and occasional undiluted strings, plus there are a series of hooks spread out that are quite catchy and fun to sway along to.
And as for the writing, it’s seriously captivating. Persistent subject matters range between confronting negative emotions, being at war with your inner self, and that desperation to break out of the shell you’re trapped in that is holding you back, all of which many folk who have had troubles with mental health and whatnot, myself included, can connect with and understand where she is coming from.
Baby Taylah is a star in the making, and Good Enough is the proof, a record that is equal parts dazzling and compelling, attracting your attention with a spotless production before influencing you to stick around courtesy of emotionally powerful singing and punchy, inspiring lyrics, and anybody able to make that sort of impact ought to be taken seriously as a credible creative force.
WREN – Groundswells
Despite a hectic 2020, it’s been business as usual for Holy Roar Records, who are in my mind the definitive label for the best plain heavy music spanning the underground.
Notable releases have been cranked out from the likes of Elephant Tree, Antethic and OHHMS, but you can’t mention those acts without bringing London outfit Wren into the equation, who have made a firm impression of their own with Groundswells.
Literally the moment you hit the play button, your stomach drops smack to the floor with the monumental intense force that their opening track Chromed flares out with, and they thoroughly maintain that dank, beautifully wretched sensation over the nine minutes, and then subsequently the remainder of the LP.
The sound is just delicious, being so dark and grizzly on an unfathomable level, persistently shaking and jabbing at you with a weighty formation of beastly bass chords and battering blows working at their best across the most booming sequences.
The guitars are also really bloody good, emitting this progressive impulse in the midst of the technical displays, and the vocalist, by god, is a unit to be reckoned with, belting out these formidable yells that fiercely radiate through the speakers; the finishing piece of this vast puzzle.
Despite the many positives, it does feel like they do little to diverge from a moulded standard, with not much more than minor elements differentiating the tunes; Subterranean Messiah being the only one to instantly stand out thanks to the sublime harmonies that kick it off.
But nitpacks be damned, Groundswells is nonetheless a roaring experience defined by a compelling, sludgy drive and a great, vital sense of brutality that metal listeners will lick their lips at the prospect of.
NEW LANGUAGE – EP1_2020
If I was left to select just one rock act from the stacked Los Angeles music community that was worth checking out, then the trio of New Language would be an easy pick, and if you take ten minutes out of your day to listen to their latest record, you’ll see exactly why.
No Time sets the standard quick with thick, pulsating drumming forming the tight rhythm, then out of nowhere, they dive into a bloody outstanding chorus that ruptures with this huge, epic scale, complete with a damn sweet hook and insanely fervent vocals.
PARANOID picks up the pace and develops the sound further, adding in cool bass tones and vibrant synths. But holy moly, when they rise to the peak, the excitement charts are shattered in an explosive, no holds barred fashion that has you unhinged and utterly riled up, and as for the climax? F***ing awesome.
But they haven’t quite blown all their load yet, as they maintain their momentum and keep that unreal, sizable energy running full steam while they blitz their way through the intoxicating Can’t Explain to finish off in style.
Goddamn, now this is what you call a rock record. New Language, within the space of only three tracks, have delivered one of the most thrilling results that very few other releases this year can match up to.
But the best thing yet about it is that this is merely a beta test, for the band still have a full-length album to come very soon, and if EP1_2020 is anything to go by, we’re in for a hell of a treat.
POT NUDOS – Pot Noudeau
I came across Glasgow trio Pot Nudos while surfing the Negative Hope Records label, and upon my discovery of a band with an absolutely beautiful name was their debut album which was also amusingly titled – Pot Noudeau.
They get going quite nicely from the offset, shimmering with delightfully fuzzy riffs, dense bass chords and dashing drum spells, and the remainder of this record more or less follows suit.
They crank out track after track, most gleaming with these energetic waves of excitement that you’ll find awfully contagious, while the rawness of their sound gives it a satisfying sharp edge.
There’s a variety of focal points worth mentioning, including the blooming mental chorus of Full Mouth, the far-out performances in Empty Head Dancing, and every single freaking thing that encompasses the juicy King Kong; the entertaining writing, above all else.
All in all, this is a jolly fun, mind-boggling blast from one of the city’s most underrated acts who you should be gracing with your utmost unbridled attention.
PAM RISOURIE – Noctessa
You know what, given that the country is basically a brief ferry ride away, I feel guilty that I’ve not been able to cover more acts from France, but luckily, thanks to the Shore Dive label, I can fulfill that target with an introduction to dream pop group Pam Risourie and their sophomore EP – Noctessa.
There’s a pleasant mild aura that persists which allows you to shut your eyes and simply let the music take over and drift you away into a floating stir, and this is generated from a sound curated by a blend of raw chords, calm drum shots, a distorted range of noises, and sleek vocals.
A likeably smooth and delicate melody carries through each of the songs, with a tinge of excitement behind the likes of Sleep Forever and the wonderfully glittering Night Flowers. But they can also reel it back and take it easy at a controlled, relaxed pace and still achieve results, as demonstrated in Cinnamon Leaves and No King At Your Bones.
The very definition of simple but effective, Noctessa is a stunning, artistic gem that flushes out any feelings of stress and negativity hanging in your body, turning you into a happy person at peace with yourself once it comes to a close.
J RANKIN – Built To Choke
John Rankin – or simply known by his straight-forward alias J Rankin – is a Glasgow-based producer of the experimental variety who I had no awareness of at all until quite recently when I stumbled upon his Built To Choke EP, and was given a healthy education in what he was capable of.
Over the course of three tracks, he dapples in a range of different styles, the first being Guitar Textures which does as it says on the tin, producing these cool riff sounds and putting them to a series of hip hop-esque beats and other bells and whistles, and the final result is an awfully nice, transcendent piece.
Secondly is An Open Wound Downtown, which I find to be vivid and spacious, with an almost sci-fi quality to it, particularly as John’s electronic background comes into play, and the last of the bunch A Bone White Haze essentially follows suit initially, before taking an effectively dark and brooding turn in the latter half.
A nice little operation undertaken here that would happily satisfy those looking for music to clear their mind and mentally escape. It might not last long, but it’s very much worth the trip.