Thursday, 23 May 2019

Motionless by Cold Showers

Out today from Dais records, the new album Motionless from LA synth trio Cold Showers

This LA trio may be synth and that genre of keyboards and musicality may bring images of coldness and industrial edge, yet the Californian team are a bunch of die-hard romantics from a by gone era.

The sound of this album first sampled by lead anthemic single 'Shine' is one of the late 1980s/early 1990s a la The Mock Turtles and 'Can You Dig It?' one of those tracks destined for airplay with a sing-along catchiness

On the album after a deliberate methodical beginning, the album has a great middle run of sequencing. The single 'Shine' is followed by 'Measured Man', the title track and 'Sinking World'. These songs are indebted to the 1980s wave of alternative music with a pop sensibility - imagine Morrissey and Marr being married with the edge of New Order and pop of Tears for Fears.

The next single 'Dismiss' is one of those tracks that the band have returned to after some time and is perhaps the song most reminiscent of Depeche Mode but with a killer Marr guitar riff.

All in all Motionless is an album that will be very satisfying for a new listener and a huge step for the band in terms of breaking for mainstream traction and Dais Records have possibly picked up a winner; keep an eye out for forthcoming release from Drab Majesty.

Cold Showers are supporting Tamaryn at the Shacklewell Arms in Kings Cross on Saturday 25th May - they may well steal the show.

My thanks to One Beat PR for the review opportunity.

Monday, 20 May 2019

'Dismiss' by Cold Showers

The new video release from LA based synth pop band Cold Showers for single 'Dismiss'

The album is a fine amalgamation of pop influences from the 1980s and to present day, in the same vein as White Lies there is a sombreness to this pop with strands of euphoria reaching up to the sky.

Cold Showers are one of those bands that sound like they are from the North of England, where the bleakness has fed into the songwriting - when the band hails from Los Angeles where that mix of sunshine and isolation becomes a winning combination.

Lead single, 'Shine' is one of those anthemic pop songs that will feed into your ears and much like the maligned 'Simplify' by Young The Giant - a song that should be sung by many a festival crowd.

'Dismiss' is more about a relationship near its darkest point before the inevitable parting, yet it still has that europhic edge. Dating back from 2013, the band decided to re-record it for the new album 'Motionless' out on May 24th from Dais Records.

Opening with a riff reminiscent of Johnny Marr and The Smiths, with lonely vocals this is nevertheless a gripping piece of pop-rock music.

The band tour with Tamaryn in May -The Shacklewell Arms on 25th May; Broadcast, Glasgow May 27th; Night People, Manchester on 28th May and The Lanes, Bristol on 29th May.

My thanks to One Beat PR for the review opportunity.

Thursday, 16 May 2019

Living Theatre - Olden Yolk

The second album from duo Olden Yolk is out from Trouble in Mind on 19th May

Following on from the debut self-titled album in 2018, the duo of Shane Butler and Caity Shaffer return with their second dose of warm harmonies and gorgeous minimalism.

While the debut album showed an air of vivid lyricism and artists in love with the world as well as people it was very much about the contemporary world they inhabited in New York. The sophomore album shows the pair growing as a tandem and away from the minimalism, creating these larger expressions of expansive creativity as they toured the world.

The songwriting of Butler/Shaffer has grown to embrace the electronic world with a cinematic eye embracing avant garde punk and folk.

The lead single, 'Cotton and Cane' was a reach for the mainstream an infectious ditty of pop that has this wonderful second verse that is never-ending culminating in a crescendo, the accompanying video showed an affection for Ken Russell and the Nouvelle Vague.

Written in a feverish three month period by the pair (much like Rayland Baxter) it shows the power of communication and collaboration and shows in this wonderful album full of colour whereas the debut album much like its album cover was more still and greyer in terms of tone.

Living Theatre is out from Trouble in Mind on 17th May and they are on tour in the UK in October.

Saturday, 11 May 2019

Dark Sacred Night

Michael Connelly returns with the latest novel featuring Detective Harry Bosch

Set in and around Los Angeles, Bosch is not necessarily the lead protagonist of this novel. He is partnered up with the younger female Renee Ballard, a detective who must navigate the dreaded graveyard shift.

The wonderful plot device that Connelly uses is that we have the dual threat of following both Bosch and Ballard as they go around investigating, and while Bosch can seemingly focus all his efforts on solving the case of Daisy Clayton, a murder case that has not been solved for 10 years.

Ballard is used as a political statement - a younger member of the police force who must navigate all various channels of enquiry as well as the actual beat of hitting the street and resolving disputes. 

In the middle part of the book, Ballard investigates the disappearance of an elected official's son; she visits the apartment where he resides, questions the room-mate and then notices a rug has been moved.  It shows that the flat-mate has murdered the missing son, this is great writing and shows the ingenuity and intelligence of Ballard in such matters, in another chapter she attends a strip joint that is worried about someone breaking in and robbing them, this turns out to be youths sneaking a peek at female flesh.

This constant dipping in and out of actual day to day work away from the deeper dive into the Clayton murder case keeps the reader on its toes while appreciating the sincerity of Ballard married with the sheer doggedness of Bosch - a nice union which has perhaps breathed new life into the old sage. A sequel or new book the The Night Fire is out in October of this year

Image result for michael connelly

Connelly shares the writing style of contemporaries Child and James Patterson, it is quick and zips along at a clip that allows the book to be devoured in several sittings.  Like James Ellroy who famously writes about Los Angeles and Hollywood, Connelly writes about the city using the vast landscape of the sprawling cityscape to his advantage with a milieu of background characters and cameos breathing life into the story whenever needed.

Dark Sacred Night is one of those thrilling books that can be perfect for the beach or the bedroom, a master storyteller at the peak of his powers.

Out from Orion Books in Paperback from 16th May.

My thanks to Tracy Fenton for the review opportunity and being part of the blog tour

Friday, 10 May 2019

White Gold - David Barker

White Gold

Sim Atkins returns in the concluding part of the Gaia Trilogy by David Barker, out from Urbane Publications

David Barker returns with the final part of his trilogy of books featuring everyman action hero Sim Atkins who must stop terrorism while working for the Water Department

The action takes up a few days after the conclusion of Book 2 - Rose Gold - the thriller set on a Moon base where Sim stopped a suicide bomber destroying the base and exposing crew to an ebola virus; but not being able to stop the death of his child in the wake of this.

Atkins returns to Earth, and goes home to his new wife Rosie, and wants to be able to have a normal sort of work life balance now; yet the threat of corruption and global terrorism is never far away.

Mattias Larsson, a Swedish mogul, is eager for the plan which started with the moon attack to move forwards regardless of the set back. This includes the use of a hollow iceberg which is brought to the attention of the submarine Endeavour captained by the enigmatic,

Not to forget the unsung hero of the trilogy, Freda Brightwell, who was left in a Russian gulag and awaiting a co-ordinated jail break by Wardle who oversees all of his work from his base in Birmingham.

Barker again is able to crank up the thriller and action elements to maximum effect; swiftly shifting from differing landscapes with ease and clarity as we bare witness to jail breaks, hovering drones able to carry adults, shifty moles and snappy dialogue on land, sea and underwater.

Culminating in the classic race against time narrative, and featuring a neat resolution Barker who grew up on larger-than-life antics of Connery and Moore as 007, has created a believable hero in Atkins - a man like us all able to achieve extraordinary things when the odds are against you.

Written with a brevity similar to more renowned page turners, Barker has delivered a succinct and satisfying conclusion to his thrilling trilogy with assuredness and poise.

White Gold is out from Urbane Publications from Thursday 9th May.

Friday, 3 May 2019

Pond Life

Directed by Bill Buckhurst and written by Richard Cameron based on his own stage play; POND LIFE tells the story of a summer tale in 1994 in the North of England as teenagers have a summer of fun as life begins to take hold.

Trevor sits at Decoy Ponds awaiting the presence of the legendary carp, Nessie. Trevor is the adult of the group a man in his early 20s but with no room at his home, needs to make a life decision. He is surrounded by younger children, Pogo the enigmatic young girl who records audio as she takes walks; Trevor's sister Cassie is kissing Maurice and Malcolm is also in love with Cassie, as he imagines transporting himself telepathically into her bedroom and learning the words to Wet Wet Wet's dominating hit single 'Love Is All Around'

Buckhurst shoots the film with a rose-tinted view, this is a beautiful summer with no rain, the only pain being behind closed doors as familial struggles are common place.

Yet, for a setting where the socio-cultural climate is changing as this mining town comes to terms with its new status without the landmark pit industry about, families struggle to make ends meat and end up down the local working man's club most nights to play bingo and win the meat raffle.

These little moments and observations elevate this film above the normal, helped in no part to the excellent acting turns by the young cast mostly Esme Creed-Miles as Pogo and Angus Imrie as Malcolm; these stunning turns of youth disorientated by the growing world around them as they combat love and loss.

Richard Hawley composes a sumptuous soundtrack to couple the film's summer tinge; and this viewer was left with a warm feeling that exceeded expectations.

POND LIFE is out now in selected cinemas.