Rock, August 2019

Carver's Law
Meme Records CDMM20

This is probably the most soul-baring and intense album yet from Miracle Mile frontman Trevor Jones – his tenth, In Cassidy's Care, appeared in 2012. The first impression is that the piano of Jones' long-time collaborator Marcus Cliffe is at the core of these songs but, as the tracks unfold, it becomes clear that Jones himself is the centre, with songs that dig deep into his psyche, delivered in a lovely voice that has improved with age. Cliffe's arrangements are immaculately simple, BJ Cole's steel guitar fits perfectly and Gustav Ljunggren's horn parts are gorgeous. Lyrically, Jones never gives much away, preferring to imply rather than clearly state, but what can't be mistaken is his searing honesty. Gatefold digipack with lyrics. JBk


Are You OK?
The Wilderness Records AREYOUOK001

I'm so ancient that the concept of nostalgia for '80s electronic pop is hard to grasp but that's what Wasuremono do to perfection. Written and recorded in the garden shed of multi-instrumentalist William Southward, it utilises an antique Linn Drum computer to evoke the distinctive beats that propelled artists such as Prince, Gary Numan and Peter Gabriel to prominence. There's also significant dollops of New Order, OMD and even The Cure, washing around in Southward's soundscapes, while vocalists Madelaine Ryan and Phoebe Phillips contribute both warmth and a curiously aching loneliness. All of the tracks are the original demos, unrefined by re-mixing. JBk


Ordinary Superhero
Marshall Records Ltd R910.022

There's a comforting familiarity about Irish quartet Keywest's songs and style that will probably see them ignored by listeners who prize originality above all else, but when it comes to channelling the spirit of big-hearted blue-collar rock, these guys have nailed it. Songwriter/vocalist Andrew Kavanagh has a pleasingly sincere voice and, having honed their approach by playing live on the streets of Dublin, they've learned exactly what makes their audience happy and they seem happy to deliver more of the same. This is their fourth album and they show no sign of slowing down, and no sign of abandoning their signature mid-Atlantic country-inflected rock style. JBk


Hackney Colliery Band
Collaborations – Volume One
Veki Records HCB004

One of the joys of contemporary music is that, with the controlling influence of the major companies substantially reduced by Internet culture, individual creativity is being allowed to flourish and imagination is becoming as cherished as commerciality. The Hackney Colliery Band is a natural outcome of this changing regime, with their stimulating cross-pollinations of jazz, brass band and electronics. After ten years together, their fourth album offers collaborations with artists as diverse as Angelique Kidjo, James Taylor (the English one) and comedian Rob Auton. It's pretty damn wonderful stuff, guaranteed to get your little grey cells working overtime. JBk