= DECEMBER 2020 =

Welcome to another edition of Rumbles. This has certainly been the strangest of years, with many musicians really struggling to make ends meet and most forced to concentrate on writing and recording. We are still getting sent a reasonable amount of physical items to review, although the trend, increasingly, is towards downloads, which we leave in the capable hands of others – Rumbles is primarily focused on reviewing things you can actually hold. Anyway, onwards and upwards and let’s hope that by the time I do the next edition that we have all returned to some sort of normality. First off it’s over to Steve Palmer for a few new releases.

Shifting Initiation by Warped Freqs is heavy, dirty space rock. After a King Crimson-esque opener, a lighter tone hoves into view with vibrato guitar, and more. It is okay musically, sometimes even enjoyable, albeit space-standard, even with the comparatively short track lengths. The playing is uniformly good, but the production a bit sludgey. One for space heads, who will like its out there radiation and maybe appreciate those manic guitar splashes on ‘Brazen’ and ‘Blist.’ Available from paul.wormhole@gmail.com

Chop Chop’s Everything Looks So Real is a light-hearted, semi-pop excursion through Indie tropes, given propulsion by some bizarre vocals, half spoken in an indeterminate accent. The second track ‘Lifetimes’ is an Afro-nightmare of cosmic proportions, which recalls a light Orange Juice as well as other jingle-jangle material. This is its own music however, and the influences aren't always obvious. I also liked ‘What Is The Question?’ which brings humour into the equation. Wallflowers should certainly check out this varied and engaging album. “At least once in a lifetime,” as the man says. Available from therosehill.co.uk

Sometimes I listen to things and wonder what planet the band came from, knowing of course that it’s always Earth. On The Future Is Coming In From Outer Space, Metalmooose (sic) deliver rock and music and speech and wah-effects all over the stereo spectrum. Actually this isn’t a band, it’s Gregory Hall discovering some old demos he made and cleaning them up. This is a kind of hyperactive music with snarly American vocals, you see, all the way from Boston. ‘If You’re On Time You Can Forget Me’ recalls Britain in 1978, while album closer ‘The Beast Vs The Clock’ rips Richard Burton off before splashing into Rezillos territory. Punks will like this, but punks will wonder what happened to their revolution. Available from metalmooose.bandcamp.com

You do wonder sometimes if famous bands/musicians from the ‘sixites flog their reputation too much. A fourth volume of Chris White Experience music? Well, perhaps there is an audience for this fourth collection – aged producers, for instance. The opener ‘Do You Wanna Make Love’ is pleasant enough, but it isn’t exactly going to set fire to the wallpaper, even with the groovy backing vocals, which, admittedly, are great. Better are ‘Mr Galileo’ and ‘Latino,’ which at least have the virtue of Rod Argent and melody. This is one for completists only. thechriswhiteexperience.com

In 2012 I said of Paul Oska: All six songs have strong, if idiosyncratic melodies, and the work as a whole, at twenty two minutes, isn't too long for the comparatively limited format, nor too short for the skills of the musician not to show. A listen that is both interesting and melancholy. The man’s new release So Long, My Lonely Ghost is in the same ball park, with, again, melancholy melodies. This is uplifting listening however. The opener ‘The Gathering’ lopes beautifully across sparse instrumentation, as Oska’s mellow voice shifts and sighs. Great stuff. In fact, my main complaint is that this work is too short. Excellent and recommended. no contact details given

The Victorians by Harp & a Monkey is an extraordinary album of Victorian folk songs given a modern twist. The band have been around Manchester for quite a while – this is their fourth release – and have a loyal following. The instrumentation here is mostly acoustic, as you’d expect, and all beautifully played. Martin Purdy’s vocals are soft and intimate, lending authenticity to tales of death and history. The opening quartet of songs are terrific, as is the spine-tingling closer ‘Bonnie England,’ which, for all that it seems a bit rougher around the edges, acquires amazing impact by Purdy’s voice and the choral response… complete with sound effects. A great album. Folkies will love this. You can find it here harpandamonkey@hotmail.co.uk

Sun Of Monkey’s Creature Blossom is a weird and wonderful double album of… well… many things really: avante garde, jazz-rock, rock-jazz, rock ‘n’ roll, all delivered with rollercoaster-ride attention to detail. You just never know where this weird shit is going to go! ‘Busting Out Of The Darkstar’ goes in all directions at once, while the 22 minute closing cut is half cosmic bells work-out, half percussion nightmare. One for late at night, methinks, and please would you pass the patchouli and a couple of paracetamols. Available from theredthreads@yahoo.com

In 2017 I said of ReidGraves: Barrett-esque guitar and spoken word, which is the tenor of the album. Last year I found myself uncertain about their "Lovely As Suspicion" album, and I feel the same about this one. I like the political stance, the real lives described, and I think the tone of the spoken word parts are good. These tales do draw you in. But the musical backing for me doesn't support, augment or mirror the verses as perhaps they could have done. Two Flies is new – a third excursion. This is exactly the same though, unfortunately. The stories are good enough, definitely, but instead of paying attention to the lyrics I found myself listening to the out-of-time piano and thin synths, both of which annoyed me. ‘Fold’ is pretty good – jingle jangle, which is always worth a listen, and with female vocals this time – but cuts like ‘Solar Flare’ seem a little too retro for their own good. 50/50 on this one. Not bad, but not (alas) good. Available from reidgraves.com

In A Vigil State by The Grand Undoing comes across as strangely refracted pop, like Deacon Blue put through a black mirror. The band have done three albums previously, and clearly know what they’re doing. And they do it well. The production is great: slinky, smooth, yet not obviously so. ‘Into The Glitter’ aims very high and reaches its goal – lovely melody, beautiful instrumentation – while ‘Highway (You CanRide Away)’ is sweetly syncopated, and, hey, get that pedal steel guitar (these guys are from Somerville MA). Choruses are strong and verses cool. Craft, care and attention have gone into this album. Nice stuff! Available from thegrandundoing.com

Thanks for those insightful reviews Steve, now onto a few more things which have arrived here since the last Rumbles in the summer.

The Joy Of Nature have returned with Until Onlyack The Mountain Remains limited CDs. This lot hail from the Azores, and a fine Celtic sound they make, they have produced to date four of five albums so far. Previous records have dealt with all things ancient and often megalithic. This one is certainly filled with a love of nature and the natural world which is highlighted by the song titles which mention streams and mountains, stars and clouds, fields and stone. The album is a tad more percussive with gongs and bells water bowels shakers etc, this is especially so for the albums longest tr ‘The World Of Dew’. The sounds created are in the ritualistic neo folk camp with spooked ghostly songs, drones and drowse a plenty, good stoner music, tripped out earthy songs. Find them at thejoyofnature.bandcamp.com

With Friends Like Us Who Needs The NME?  Various artists. Well actually three bands sharing tunes on this indier than indie release. Pop City Arizona, Mary Queen Of Scots and Fly Away Sorrow. Pop City Arizona do Sarah records to perfection with the oh so bored ‘Seaside’ the jilted man of ‘Bluebell’ and the classic underachiever of The Girl With Mousy Hair. Mary Queen Of Scots are purveyors of the classic Sarah sound too, as

witnessed with the sad skewed pop of Last December. Second Best isn’t any cheerier either, so far, so Sarah. Final act on the disc is Fly Away Sorrow a female led trad folk band who begin with a fairly straight rendition of the Bonny Black Hare, Boar’s Head Carol, Our Little Birdie Song and The Gloucester/ Gower Wassail.   A Shenley Fields Forever Recording. Available on cd. A Shenley Fields Forever CD

Sounds In Silence have another couple of albums out. The first of the pair is Eternell Imagined Distances.  This is the musical project of Ludvig Cimbrelius from Sweden. He is quite prolific with a number of releases on various monikers. This one utilises indistinct dreamy vocals and long blissful ambient moments with drifting guitar loops and airy synths all very pleasant and probably his most accomplished recording to date available in 200 numbered limited edition copies. The other release on the label is (.Que) - And Inside. This is the second release on the label for Tokyo musician Nao Kakimoto. Nao is a prolific artist, having released close to a dozen albums along with various singles and EP’s. This one is a sublime slice of folktronica, twinkling dreamy keyboard textures and cool melodies with plenty of dark atmosphere. A great blend of acoustic and electric instruments co- mingle throughout on titles like Sepia, Thaw and Haze. This is a super relaxing listen but maybe a bit ambient post house music for me, particularly the soft beats. Both available from www.soundinsilence.bandcamp.com

Exedra - Time And Emotion CD/DL self released. This is the sixth album by Exedra, following on from 2016’s Illuminized album. This time around the band took a lot longer to develop the songs that make up Time and Emotion, a clever play on words. The first recordings by came to light on an EP entitled I Am The Cross which was released in 2014. The band consisted of Darrall Knight who composed the music and Jeremy Gluck who provided the vocals and lyrics. After a couple more releases Jeremy went on a long term sabbatical, leaving Darrall alone to continue Exedra. One of the tracks from this release has recently surfaced on Head In The Clouds a Kosmische themed double album released on Fruits De Mer. This album is pretty much an ambient/Kosmische/neo classical thing of delicate beauty, tracks just unfurl into pieces that would lend themselves to widescreen film soundtracks. Well worth tracking down a copy for those small twilight hours. Very much keyboard based project with piano and synths twinkling away. Released via Bandcamp www.exedra1.bandcamp.com


The ever so prolific Paul Roland has finally released a project (which he started quite a few years ago now) with Lair Of The White Worm released on his dark Companion label and available on CD and Vinyl. It also features German musicians Nico Steckleberg & Joran Elane. The record pretty much keeps to the template of Paul’s and quite why it has sat languishing in the vaults is a mystery. My copy refuses to play unfortunately, but I have managed to find some of the tracks on you tube and from what I have heard it’s well worth getting, with Solemn Angel in particular standing out. www.paul-roland.bandcamp.com

Daniel And PalmerSongs Of Long Ago self released CD. Steve Palmer my fellow Rumbles contributor has a new record out with collaborator Michael Daniel. The songs for this were written quite some time ago before life got in the way and Michael moved to Liverpool, Steve moved house and basically that was that, until they recently met up again at a cafe by Albert Dock. Files were duly swapped and work began on finishing the songs which were written all those years ago. The melody and lyrics of opener Omnisong were they felt too good not to be released and so the project was worked on with Steve providing the melodies and lyrics and Michael providing bass and rendezvous guitar. The theme of the record is to be yourself and the record is very accessible.(no contact details)


Steve Tyler – The Enduring And The Ephemeral. Steve Tyler is one of the foremost Hurdy Gurdy players in the British Isles and has released a great album on which he plays various hurdy gurdies, cittern, reed organ, psaltery, guitar, bass, hammered dulcimer, gothic harp and percussion. He is joined by Katy Marchant: bagpipes and recorder. Mike Edwards: bass viol. Jane Harbour: voices and violin. I don’t think I have heard a more Celtic flavoured album in my life. Some of the tracks which standout for me on this excellent record are Chronophage, a sort of tuning up of an infinite orchestra. The pastoral Utopia Regained which for some reason reminds me of Robert Fripp’s guitar style if it was transposed to a hurdy gurdy. Caladrius, about a mythical bird from a medieval bestiary. Tierceron, which was included in the Cold Spring - John Barleycorn Reborn project.  And Tethys which features a reworked sample of bass viol, played by Mike Edwards who sadly passed away in 2010.  Available from www.stevetyler.bandcamp.com/the-enduring-and-the-ephemeral   

Michael J Sheehy – Distance Is The Soul Of Beauty. Dream City Film Club’s Michael J Sheehy has put out his first album in over a decade. After working up a bunch of songs for a number of years and by adding bit by bit to them, trying to perfect them and polish them they became a little soulless, Michael, a few years into a new found sobriety stripped everything right back and in the process has bared a little of his soul, these are some deep introspective songs fleshed out with a sympathetic organic instrumentation which, set against his slightly forlorn vocals, work well.

These songs were recorded at home, six weeks into Lockdown. The songs concern his feelings about family, hope and religion. A lot of the songs have a late night early hours feel particularly so on “Judas Hour” and “Turn Back For Home”. The instrumentation is kept fairly simple, framing the songs well rather than drowning them allowing them to breathe, a quiet hushed tone informs most of the songs, colourful dreamy songs like Blue Latitudes And Starless Skies and Blackout Of Arrows are placed well in the running order to good effect. The final song “Everything That Rises Must Converge” has a little more in the way of percussion but it’s applied lightly. This is a great album for those small wee hours. You can find it here at michaeljsheehy.bandcamp.com

Tim Bowness Late Night Laments. No- Man band member Tim Bowness has released an album on inside out a Sony imprint. He has worked with many a prog legend like Robert Fripp, Phil Manzanera and Peter Hammill amongst others. Gong’s Kavus Torabi gets in on some glissando guitar and the aforementioned Peter Hammill sings on one of the bonus discs songs. It’s been mixed by Steven Wilson who is/was also a member of No-Man. Opener “Northern Rain” about a dying planet, sums up a cold wet day delivered in a conversational style with breathy vocals ala Colin Blunstone. “Darkline” is a shifting foggy thing of aqueous beauty, light beams shooting holes through the gloaming night. “We Caught The Light is a lot more acoustic with vibraphone and ukulele rising above the bed of synths and keyboards. “The Hitman Who Missed” features Alistair Murphy (The Curator) on the mighty Dianatron. “Never A Place”, is a bit underwhelming and I feel that it is here that the album would have benefited from a change in mood but its all becoming a little one paced. “The Last Getaway” is another fairly mournful song, I am reminded a bit of Paddy McAloon with Tim’s vocals to give you an indication of tone and delivery. “Hidden Life”, is a sad tale of someone who realizes that now he will never experience family life. The record which really is very one paced ends with “One Last Call” continues on in the same vein but it is decorated with lots of vibraphone, synths, keyboards and double bass. Available from www.timebowness.com


The Holy Brothers – My Name Is Sparkle. I don’t know a thing about this lot so please excuse my ignorance. They consist of Willie Aron and Marvin Etzioni, the record was produced at hot pie studio in Pasadena and does feature one musician that I know that’s Freebo the bass supremo for Maria Muldaur’s road band. I think that this is taken from a play in two parts in which Elvis is in Jerusalem as the androgynous Sparkle. The band members have played with Lone Justice, Counting Crows and Rickie Lee Jones at various points over the years and for this project adopt the pseudonyms of Buddy Holy and Johnny B Holy. My conclusion is that it would probably work better on stage, than when divorced from its visuals and presented as a standalone CD. There are some nice musical touches with electric mandolin, toy boxes, chamberlain, pedal steel and toy piano embellishing some of the tracks. It’s well played theatrical pop music; ‘Divine Love’ and ‘A Sudden Gunshot’ are the standout tracks for me. www.theholybrothers.com  


Sector NINE - 7026. This is the debut release on CD from a new progressive rock band that should be on every prog- rock fans radar. The stuff on here will make your hair curl, it’s that good. The band was formed in the lockdown period by three friends swapping files over the internet. Rob Gould handles the keyboards, along with Phil Craigie on guitar and Trevor Pollitt playing bass. The three of them first played together in a Manchester funk rock band Some Strange Quarters back in the early nineties. It is an hour’s worth of tight, twisty, knotty prog with some exhilarating passages and the band can seemingly turn on a dime, a bit like a school of fish when they move together as one with flashes of colour. It’s mainly instrumental with a few passages of film dialogue.  In amongst all of this there are a few songs which standout. Opener ‘Plan 9’ sets out their stall early with some sparkling playing. ‘Mr Strangelove vs The Sun’ is almost ten minutes long, but holds attention all the way through. ‘Jamming Their Transmission’ sees them taking giant steps, adding in some sax. ‘The Art Of Fighting, Without Fighting’ is a jazzy funky workout with space bass and some terrific soloing from Rob and Phil. ‘Numb3r NINE’ another lengthy workout contains snippets of dialogue and a snaking rhythm. The horns are by The Memphis Horns and The Baker Brothers. Contact Rob at robgould777@outlook.com

Chris Joe Beard – Balloons On A String. Chris was a song writing member of sixties psych band Purple Gang. Chris was introduced to Rob Gould (see above) by Keith Jones of Fruits De Mer which resulted in a couple of cover versions of ‘Granny Takes A Trip’ a song banned from the airwaves when it was thought to be about LSD, plus a Syd Barrett song ‘Boon Tune’. After working together for a while Chris decided to continue the partnership and consequently the new album has all three Sector NINE members playing as well as a whole host of musicians fleshing out these fantasy/ English whimsical psych folk pop songs.  The music is literal and reflective in nature with some tremendous playing throughout. Quirky psych inflected songs like ‘The Opal Gates/ The Wizard 2020’, ‘My Hat Blew Off In Buxton’, ‘Dada Shoes’ the John Clare influenced ‘Song To Clare’, the title track ‘Balloons On a String’ and ‘Soho Blues/ The Wizard 2020 reprise’ are all enjoyable and this disc will certainly be of interest to anyone with an interest in English psychedelia. Contact chrisjoebeard@gmail.com


Big Stir Records are really on a roll right now. The new album by Nick FraterFast And Loose.

This is a classy record, from the opening organ infested opener to the glorious polished harmony pop of ‘California Waits’. He plays practically all the instruments himself with a little help on drums, guitar and backing vocals. ‘Endless Summertime Blues’ has some added French horn from Nathan Thomas. ‘Let’s Hear It For Love’ is an excellent pop song with oodles of mellotron. ‘Luna’ postively shimmers with pop nous, and is as catchy as a sprig of goosegrass. The bittersweet aching beauty of ‘That Ship Has Sailed’ is a highlight, as is the knowing Beach Boys moves of ‘Would You Like To Go’. This is well played classy pop music. Fans of Jellyfish, Parthenon Huxley and Todd Rundgren form an orderly queue, available from bigstirrecords@gmail.com


Wolverton – Paper Kisses. This is a new band to me, and one that deals in Americana and Cosmic American Music. This is their second album bringing in some pedal steel from BJ Cole and help from Kim Mckenzie on fiddle. The band consists of Hills Snyder, Caralyn Snyder, Kate Terrell and Joe Reyes. The vocals are split fairly evenly with some songs predominantly male others female led. The press release mentions early seventies pastoral Grateful Dead and the chamber folk melodies of Fairport Convention. It’s mainly acoustic in nature with fiddles and piano, plenty of skewed, quirky lyrics. Hill’s vocal style is laconic and Caralyn’s is quirky. Standout tracks for me are ‘Tabernacle’, infused with mellotron and octave fuzz guitar. The barroom piano led ‘Oh Well’. The lilting title track ‘Paper Kisses’. ‘Birds Of Rockport’ with added trombone from Mike Davis. Also of note is the surprising arrangement of ‘Shakin’ Grape Jelly’, incorporating some lyrics from Prince’s When Doves Cry’, it’s a purple dream where the world is a big fat bowl of shakin’ grape jelly. I also like the electric sitar and glockenspiel on ‘Gallop And Fly’. The Handsome Family are called to mind for ‘Poplars And Thistles’ which has some dirty guitar from Jack Sputter. This is an album well worth seeking out; it has enough going on to hold interest and is one of those records which offer up more and more with repeated plays. It is available from www.wolvertonmusic.bandcamp.com


An EP Has arrived from Bad Amputee - Convenience Kills on Ferric Mordant Records.

They are a three piece band who have a punk folk sound with a stripped back, basic sound, in fact for these ears it is far too much so, and it sort of hopes to succeed by its reductive nature, but I just found it all a bit stark. I quite like it when they slow down a bit and add colour as they have for the tracks ‘Rhona’ and ‘Last Path’. The press release posits them as “quite simply the best band operating in the North east of England right now”, and mentions their “stark sonic palette and slowcore harmonies”. Available from badamputee@gmail.com

Another EP has arrived from a band that I’ve not heard of before LunatraktersBonefires.

It follows on from a CD they released a year ago called This Is Broken Folk. The CD consists of four tracks, recorded at the Preservation Room in Kent. The songs incorporate traditional material, which the band delivers with flute, korg, piano, melodica, double bass and clogs. They consist of Carli Jefferson, Clair Le Couteur and Julien Whitfield. We have ‘Black Raven 11’, ‘16,000 Miles’, ‘The Unquiet Grave’ and ‘The Holly And The Ivy’.  It is available from tprecording.com


John Simms’Light Trails - Chromatology. John is distinguished guitarist, singer and song writer who is known for his work with Clear Blue Sky, Ginger Baker and John Entwistle amongst others. The CD features his rather unique blend of rock, prog, psych, space and fusion with jazz elements, a sort of Steve Hillage style. Playing on a bunch of mainly instrumentals, which also feature Ohead, Tim Jones from Stone Premonitions and Maxine Marten, who adds some vocal parts and harmonies to these guitar led fusion songs. There is no doubt that he plays some amazing lead guitar, and I am reminded of some of the greats like Allan Holdsworth and Dave Gilmour. He delivers the goods on bluesy tracks like ‘Night Star’ and the lengthy ‘Lodestar’ a tour de force which builds and decays and shows off his very fluid style to fine effect. ‘Circle At Dawn’ is a little funkier, for me the standout track on the album is ‘Light Trails’. Contact him at www.johnsimms.co.uk.

Anna Elizabeth Laube – Annamania.  Available on download and stream only.  Anna Elizabeth Laube is another new name to me. She began her career in the tech industry in San Francisco but soon left to follow her muse as a songwriter, producer, engineer and multi instrumentalist. She has a beautiful voice and writes strong songs, think Blue era Joni Mitchell. She has put out four studio albums beginning in 2006 with Outta’ My Head. On songs like the wistful ‘Time To Move On’ which is decorated with French Horn she really shines, it is a cover of a Tom Petty song which I was unfamiliar with. ‘All My Running’, has some beautiful sympathetic lap steel colouring in the lyrics, it’s another song of escape. Anna has spent time in Seattle and travelled to Lisbon, eventually settling in Wisconsin and obviously has a nomadic bone in her. There is a delicious rasp to her voice on ‘If You Build It’,not unlike Bonnie Raitt. Netflix has picked up on her using her song ‘I’m Gone’ for their show Locke & Key.  She has also toured quite extensively abroad with visits to Berlin, Utrecht, Melbourne and plenty of hours spent playing American bars and clubs from Texas to California. ‘Oh My’, shows her sassy attitude informed by those years of travel. I think with a bit of exposure she would do very well over here, it’s perfect stuff for old Whispering Bob’s show. She is a very expressive singer as demonstrated on ballads like ‘Jardim Da Estrela’, with its south of the border drifting accordion played here by Chris Joyner, a song actually inspired by her time in Lisbon. There is also a maturity on songs like ‘Already There,’ a beautiful song decorated with mandolin and piano (which appears to be her instrument of choice when composing and writing). On ‘Sunny Days’, she has a delightful break in her voice. ‘Hippie Boyfriend’, sees her as a barefoot free spirit, wild and free. ‘Please Let It Rain In California Tonight’, is another fine song, a tender ballad which she leaves quite bare with just piano for accompaniment. This lovely compilation comes to a conclusion with ‘Tree’, a glorious celebration of family, travel and the changing of the seasons. Find it here www.annaelizabetlaube.com   

Sonicbond publishing have been busy releasing a few books which will should of interest to Rumbles readers. I much enjoyed Kevan Furbank’s book on Fairport Convention On Track’ where he delves deep into every album and every song. With more than 50 years worth of material it fairly flies through their ever changing line-ups from a group finding their feet by aping the sounds of what is now termed Americana through to their eventual classic folk rock sound, each song has at least a few paragraphs and is a great bedside read. As is another ‘On track’ book which does the same thing to another British Institution, this time it is the mighty Hawkwind where Duncan Harris delves deep into the psychedelic warriors of time. Again every song is discussed and every album dissected and rated, from their debut album, issued on Liberty records in 1970 and ending with ‘All Aboard The Skylark’ from 2019.  Another book which I have enjoyed immensely is Georg Purvis’s book on the English rock group Pink FloydIn the 1970’s’. Georg is an uber fan of the band and gets to grips with a band struggling to deal with their wayward erstwhile leader Syd Barrett, whose whimsical songs about gnomes and cross dressers informed much of their early work, before becoming somewhat of a liability due to excess psychosis from his daily ingestion of LSD, through to the later tyrannical ideas and over blown concepts of Roger Waters, which he duly forced on to the more genial members of the band causing much friction which still rumbles on to this day. The books are available from www.sonicbondpublishing.com.

 That’s about it for this edition; happy trails and stay safe, signing off until the next gripping instalment of Rumbles – Andrew Young

Artwork, layout & direction by Phil McMullen - © Terrascope Online, 2020