Rock, March 2023

hfnalbum.pngRobert Forster
The Candle And The Flame
Tapete TR525; LP: TR525LP

In 1977, Forster was a founder member of Australian group The Go-Betweens and remains one of the most original songwriters of his generation. He only pens a few each year, but they arrive in a concentrated form, and this album measures up with his best work. It's predominantly acoustic, with added strings and some subtle but incisive band performances. Forster is an evocative wordsmith and while his vocal delivery is a tad neutral, he lets his lyrics do the work. 'The Roads' is oddly moving with his description of them as 'like good friends' that 'disappear into people's doors'. He finds meaning in the most unlikely objects on 'There's A Reason' while 'She's A Fighter' celebrates his wife's recovery from cancer. MB


Meg Baird
Drag City DC782; LP: DC782

On her fourth solo album Baird again explores the aesthetic that characterised her music with the American group Espers, who nodded back to the British folk rock of Pentangle and Sandy Denny. On the opening 'Ashes, Ashes' her wordless melismas drift over the steady tread of drums and piano, but while she has a wide range and her voice has a dreamy quality, there's also a graininess that gives it an edge. Instrumentally Furling ranges from the full electric band on 'Will You Follow Me Home' to acoustic guitar strum, and spartan, spiky piano on 'Wreathing Days'. Many of the songs seem cut from similar cloth, yet they form a seductive whole. MB


Billy Nomates
Invada INV2872CD; LP: INV2872LP

Bristol-based singer/multi-instrumentalist Tor Maries has recorded with those poets of profanity Sleaford Mods, but while her second album as Billy Nomates overlaps with their inventive use of samples and drum machines and has its acerbic, punky moments, it's more melodic and song-based. Vintage synths and organ add texture and Maries is a compelling singer, drawing the listener into these narratives. She spits out invective on 'Spite', enjoys disrupting a frustrating relationship having had 'Such a terrible evening' on 'Saboteur Forcefield', and on 'Balance Is Gone' she's dislocated and vulnerable, singing, 'Everything is happening without me'. MB


Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs
Land Of Sleeper

Pigs x 7 are clearly indebted to Black Sabbath, and while Matt Baty's monotonous bellowing refutes the idea that the devil has all the best tunes, the Newcastle five-piece demonstrate that he at least has the best riffs… With their drop-tuned guitars and distorted bass they create a massive sound and achieve a juggernaut relentlessness on the ironically titled 'Pipe Down'. Although Pigs x 7 could be categorised as Doom metal they say they want to create a sense of euphoria and like Sabbath they know when a change is required. 'Big Rig' begins slowly, like the musical equivalent of dredging a lake, but shifts into high speed riffing to thrilling effect. MB