Rock, June 2020

hfnalbum.pngNick Mason's Saucerful Of Secrets
Live At The Roundhouse
LEGACY 1907598 2722 (two CDs + DVD; 2LPs: -2711 Blu-Ray: -2749)

When ex-Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason announced that he was coming out of retirement to revisit that band's pre-Dark Side Of The Moon material in concert, he took everyone by surprise. And with Spandau Ballet mainstay Gary Kemp on guitar and vocals, it all seemed doubly unlikely. But for many fans this was the Floyd's golden era and tracks like 'Fearless', 'Remember A Day' and Syd Barrett's twilight zone freak-out 'Vegetable Man' had never been played live before. In this vividly recorded 2019 show Mason steadies the ship, guitarists Kemp and Lee Harris and keyboardist Dom Beken play with energy and edge and, some geezerish vocals notwithstanding, the material is reinterpreted and reinvigorated. MB

Ms Amy Birks
All That I Am & All That I Was

Birks' 2019 single, 'Jamaica Inn', a dangerously romantic moorland drama with a sweeping band arrangement, has a bit of the 'Wuthering Heights' about it, but the majority of the songs here are set in a more intimate soundworld of piano, strings and occasional drums, and range from the sombre 'More' to the animated melody of 'Keeps You Guessing'. Her finely etched lyrics chronicle personal inner states and historical stories like 'Catherine' – a sketch of the first wife of Henry VIII. John Hackett's flute adds melody and texture throughout, and his brother Steve (ex-Genesis) also features on guitar, his empathetic playing complementing Birks' voice on 'I Wish'. MB


The Lovely Eggs
I Am Moron
Eggland EGG013CD (LP: EGGO13LP)

The Lancaster-based married duo of guitarist and singer Holly Ross, and drummer David Blackwell, chronicle the UK at its shallowest and most absurd in another set of sardonic, surreal, satirical swipes at modern consumer society. It's all delivered with spiky humour and encompasses the stroppy chants of 'Insect Repellent' and the defiance of 'This Decision', while on 'You Can Go Now', they sift through the cultural rubbish of everyday life. All this is set to fuzz guitars and buzzing, bleeping synths. It's a raw, exhilarating, stripped-down sound, which is given great heft by producer Dave Fridmann, best known for his work with Tame Impala and Flaming Lips. MB


It Is What It Is
Brainfeeder BFCD100 (LP: BF100)

Stephen Bruner aka Thundercat has played bass guitar in thrash band Suicidal Tendencies and worked with rapper Kendrick Lamar and AOR superstar Michael McDonald – experiences all of which feed into this new album. After the success of 2017's Choke Bruner seemed poised to be a global star, but this is a collection of enigmatic and oddly shaped, mainly short, songs. There's a hazy, spacey production sound and Bruner's sweet vocal melodies float across rock rhythms, ticking beats and jazzy grooves. The title track is a gorgeous ballad featuring Brazilian guitarist Pedro Martins, and Bruner's bass playing is virtuosic throughout. MB