Album reviews: Twin Atlantic | James Yorkston
Red Bull Records
* * *
You hope this is a declaration that we’re about to experience something which is consciously rule-breaking and on the edge, but the rest of the song busies itself with telling us how much he loves music and his loved ones. Which is fair enough, although no walls will come crashing down with this news.
As the following Heart And Soul soars and the ground steadies beneath us, we know what kind of record this is. “I flick the switch on the generator / so I can turn you on / you better get to know your operator,” hollers McTrusty in lascivious style over an AC/DC-aping riff.
Twin Atlantic’s third album following the top 40-breaking success of 2011’s Free, Great Divide, looks likely to eclipse all previous success the Glasgow-based group has enjoyed. Their ability with a good-time, punk rock’n’roll chorus is such that it’ll be hard to grudge them that.
On the basis purely of their way with a riff and McTrusty’s open, thickly-accented voice, they’re a great fun, big-stage band, from the heads-down grind of Cell Mate to the simple attempted positivity of Actions That Echo and Why Won’t We Change, both songs which encourage action over apathy. Yet they’re all young guys, and a record which occasionally touches upon a deeper connection with a wider audience hungry for depth and meaning is hamstrung by tossed-out floorfillers like I Am An Animal. It’s the sound of a band set in their style but still finding a strong voice.
•Download: Heart And Soul, Actions That Echo
James Yorkston - The Cellardyke Recording And Wassailing Society
The return of the Fife troubadour who isn’t King Creosote, this seventh full release from James Yorkston sees the erstwhile Fence Collective member employing old friends including KT Tunstall and Johnny “Pictish Trail” Lynch to create another sublime piece of work in the hypnotically folksy tradition of Nick Drake.
Yorkston’s voice is boldly to the fore as he muses about family (Broken Wave), love (King Of The Moles) and reconciliation with self-loathing (The Very Very Best), with the production of Hot Chip’s Alexis Taylor lending a natural but somewhat otherworldly tone which makes it hard to stop listening.
•Download: Guy Fawkes’ Signature, The Very Very Best
The Gaslight Anthem - Get Hurt
Being from New Jersey and enjoying the approval of Bruce Springsteen has bought the Gaslight Anthem a lot of kudos, but opening their new record with a song whose chorus is a procession of la-la-las doesn’t buy them the same degree of respect for their lyrical acuity.
Apparently inspired by bandleader Brian Fallon’s divorce, Get Hurt features moments of emotional honesty (the title track especially) and the odd passage of genuine musical anthemics, but otherwise it’s a procession of sub-Boss clichés about having your “head in the hurricane” (Rollin’ And Tumblin’) and being “caught on the field of pain” (Red Violins), all set to an uninspiring, overdriven chug which even Kings of Leon might baulk at.
•Download: Get Hurt, Break Your Heart
Robbie Harvey - Blowin’ That Old Tin Can
Divine Duck Recordings DDRCD020
English trombonist Robbie Harvey makes his recording debut as bandleader on this impressive disc, a selection of tightly arranged, smoothly executed small group numbers with a modern bop feel. Excellent taste is displayed in the choice of tunes and personnel (ace drummer Steve Brown is simply the best), and Harvey reveals a mellow, swinging sound which is particularly pleasing on ballads. On the downside, some of the solos go on a bit and the original compositions are the weakest links.
•Download: Tonight I Shall Sleep With A Smile On My Face
Rachel Newton - Changeling
Shadow Recording, SHADOW01
The young Edinburgh harp player, instrumentalist and singer takes a look at faeries through songs from the traditions of Gaelic and English, then adds up-to-the-moment arrangements with a fine suite of guest players (including Lauren MacColl and Su-a Lee on fiddle and cello), and contemporary instruments.
Carefully performed here, and premiered live this year as a New Voices commission at Glasgow’s Celtic Connections, her recording lays out the old textures and rhythms, then shakes them up well, revealing her own distinct vision.
•Download: The Changeling Air
Cantabile - Songs Of Love And War
Champs Hill CHRCD074
Unaccompanied part-singing has to be of a high quality to sustain interest, and Cantabile – The London Quartet, under the direction of Malcolm Martineau – certainly achieve high quality in this album of songs drawn from a wide variety of composers.
Although not released specifically to coincide with the current centenary of the Great War, it is difficult to shake off the feelings associated with that anniversary, so much so that the sentiments of Georges Brassens’ ironically comic The War Of ’14-’18, delightfully translated by Michael Flanders, become almost unlistenable.
There is much to enjoy on this recording, from the song written commemorating the assassination of John F Kennedy, sung by Millicent Martin on That Was The Week That Was the following night, to works by Poulenc, Tennyson, and even Randy Newman. Delightful and well worth hearing. Alexander Bryce
•Download: Go, Lovely Rose