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Johnny Black  |  Jun 20, 2019
This month we review: Jon Amor, Delicate Steve, Crows and Nick Waterhouse
Johnny Black  |  May 14, 2019
This month we review: The Steel Woods, Katie Doherty And The Navigators, Deep Cut, and MXMJoY
Johnny Black  |  Apr 03, 2019
This month we review: Raoul Vignal, Me And My Friends, Michael Blyth & The Wild Braid, & Frankie Davies
Johnny Black  |  Mar 06, 2019
This month we review: Foxtrott, Me And My Friends, Amos Lee, & Ed Motta
Johnny Black  |  Dec 01, 2018
This month we review: KT Tunstall, John Butler Trio, Ian William Craig, and Advance Base
Johnny Black  |  Nov 01, 2018
This month we review: Josh Taerk, The Molochs, Epic45, and Texti-tv 666.
Johnny Black  |  Oct 01, 2018
This month we review: Protoje, Tom Bailey, Jack Carty And Gus Gardiner, and C Diab.
Johnny Black  |  Sep 01, 2018
This month we review: Toure Kunda, Maddy Prior, Hannah James And Giles Lewin, Dan Stuart, and Judith Owen.
Johnny Black  |  Dec 10, 2010
If only for his relentless persistence in the face of all the evidence that the world doesn’t need this sort of thing anymore, it’s hard not to harbour a sneaking affection, maybe even admiration, for Meat Loaf. A huge drum beat leads into a portentously cacophonous orchestral intro, after which it’s business as usual – double-scoops of the Jim Steinman patented blend of bar-room boogie mixed with gothic operatic bombast, decorated with tongue-in-cheek lyrics like, ‘Next time you stab me in the back you better do it to my face’. Steinman, however, isn’t involved so the whole thing’s just a knowing pastiche. Still, as a wiser man than me once said, this is the sort of thing you’ll like if you like this sort of thing.
Johnny Black  |  Dec 10, 2010
Now this is very special indeed. Joy Kills Sorrow are a contemporary folk-bluegrass Boston quintet and this, their debut album, is unutterably superb. Not only is the banjo and mandolin playing astonishing, but the singing (both in terms of soloists and harmonies) is gorgeous, and the songs themselves are true earworms – they get in there and lodge themselves firmly, demanding that you take the CD to the car and play it out there as well. Making bluegrass sound new, fresh and exciting is certainly a challenge these days, but Joy Kills Sorrow do it with ease.
Johnny Black  |  Dec 10, 2010
Everything about Dark Hope was screaming ‘No!’ at me. Opera singer covering rock songs? No, it never works, never ever. Well, I reckoned without the good taste of Fleming and producer/arranger David Kahne. They’ve re-interpreted fabulous contemporary songs by Band Of Horses, Muse, Death Cab For Cutie plus a sprinkling of classics from Jefferson Airplane, Peter Gabriel and Leonard Cohen.
Johnny Black  |  Dec 10, 2010
Courtney Love’s return, says the press release, has been ‘feverishly anticipated’. I feel I have the right to ask, ‘Who by?’ Certainly not me. This album is as cheap and premeditated as anyone with more than half a brain would expect it to be. Courtney snarls and drawls like Marianne Faithfull on Ritalin through a mess of bitchy faux-grunge pop ditties, most of them knocked up by song doctor Linda Perry, probably on a afternoon when she wasn’t writing hits for Pink, Gwen Stefani or Christina Aguilera.
Johnny Black  |  Dec 10, 2010
Highly-touted New York City duo MGMT return with a second helping of goodies, tending more towards retro-psych-pop than their singles-oriented debut. This one switches eclectically from the Van Dyke Parks-like delirium of the opening track, ‘It’s Working’, to the nuggetsy garage-pop assault of ‘Song For Dan Treacy’, to the more expansive mind-blown dream-pop approach of the epic ‘Siberian Breaks’ and the bizarre faux-baroque horrorscape of the instrumental ‘Lady Dada’s Nightmare’. Twee and wimpy, yes; but it’s also loads of fun. The band has said no singles will be released from this album but it attracted so much attention when it ‘leaked’ onto the net in advance of release that maybe it doesn’t need them.
Johnny Black  |  Dec 10, 2010
I’m usually reticent about covering re-issue material in these pages, but blues collector and archivist Nick Duckett has released his latest mind-bogglingly superb 4CD set on the history of r’n’b and it’s too good to ignore. With 109 impeccably remastered tracks and an informative memorabilia-filled 68-page booklet this is simply the definitive statement on the era. It’s worth owning just to have Ann Cole’s original version of ‘Got My Mojo Working’, later misappropriated by Muddy Waters but, from the obvious must-haves – BB King, Bo Diddley, Elvis Presley – to the more esoteric delights of The Peacheroos, Marigolds and Diablos, every cut is 100% juicy. Sound Quality: 88% .
Johnny Black  |  Dec 10, 2010
I haven’t heard an album quite this beguiling since Whalebone Polly’s Recording With The Window Open back in 2005, so it’s a particular delight to discover that there are still females around who can do this sort of thing. Mountain Man are three women, two of them still in school in Vermont, the other a nanny, who use nothing but their close-harmonising voices and acoustic guitars to create the most haunting, spine-shivering songs imaginable. Recorded live in an abandoned factory, there’s a purity and immediacy to the sound of this album that puts most others into the shade: you feel you’re right there and they’re singing just for you. Bliss.