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"Brain Cell" by Autopilot

Review

Having reviewed them live previously, I am pleased to now tell you of the brand new single from Autopilot: "Brain Cell".

I hope that you have heard previous singles such as "Can You Feel The Love" (which has appeared on ‘Hot Music Live Presents Volume Two' https://hotmusiclivepresents.bandcamp.com/album/hot-music-live-presents-volume-two), "Glass of Gold" or "Invincible"?

It can't have been easy for the band (who comprise, as you probably don't require telling, Jack Schofield on lead vocals and guitar, Andy Hopkins on bass guitar and Chris Lewis on drums): given the presence of a former member of a very well known & successful group, Autopilot must have been wary of being crushed at birth by weight of expectations & undermined by comparisons.

They seem to have escaped both quite successfully as far as I can see, and there seems also to have been careful thinking on how to do this. They have been building their career & reputation in an admirably low key way, gigging & crafting their own sound, often in quite small venues & at the same time creating a strong setlist of original material, making sure that the songs they have felt best represented them were released first. The result is a reputation now forged as a live band of genuine class & of a group capable of writing the most sound of tracks. A lot of hard work doubtlessly, but that has paid off. Now the wider world awaits.

Excellent as earlier singles were, "Brain Cell" does top them I feel for maturity in several respects, not just the subject matter. The song opens in a very pop mode with a catchy keyboard riff (which reoccurs periodically) and is generally from that end of the spectrum of their work. It's possibly Jack's best vocal to date especially in terms of expression & articulating the meaning:  the frequent easing back to the point of drop out of instruments helps to foreground the particularly strong lyrics which seem to address issues of communication, obsession, guilt over bad behaviour & regret , with the singer looking for a way forwards (and possibly back) a song as I said  of maturing  with trademark Autopilot surges of sound and arrangement, occasional switches to processed vocals, & a great guitar sound, although the solo was a little buried (it's a shame this wasn't given the same space the singing was).

Aside from reinforcing traits which reoccur in their work to date (the synth hooks, massed vocals etc) which certainly establish who the band are & who they are not, the song also really showcases their grasp of dynamics, with very restrained sections giving way to furious deluges of bass & drums to add variation & effect to what they are telling us & which obviously will work really well live. They really have thought this all out very well & have the nous to put it into excellent practice.

 

Look out too for the video for "Brain Cell' which can be seen via this link

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l7X_MkSZ64U

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"Push and Pull" by John Connearn

Review

It seems so recently that I was telling you all about the debut single by John Connearn, the appropriately entitled "First Things First" and although it's still fresh in my memory, it was actually over a month ago. Nevertheless, things are moving fast for John & today we come to his follow-up release, that is to say "Push and Pull": which has come out on the interesting date of 22/02/2020

In many ways this is similar to its predecessor: it is again an instrumental track which while focused reasonably enough on John's guitar, like the first single has excellent drums also prominent, yet "Push & Pull" has a distinction of its own.  Again, tastefully composed & played with a jazzy inclination, leaning in fact in a Crusaders direction I suppose, the title may refer to the structure of the track given that it definitely has two alternating moods, the first having more of an acoustic feel (it sounds like it might be layered & processed acoustic guitar to me) and the other being more urgently played electric sounding. It's possible that one is indicative of pushing & the other of .. well I'm sure you can guess.

As before, John can play startling runs really fast but he plays them so you can follow the melody lines: there are careful effects added to his playing for texture, but the overall sound is clean with no distortion and the tune is cohesive & memorable enough to make it clear that this is no showboating exercise: he's playing so you enjoy his song, not to try to elicit your worship. John is happy to use the word "noodling" in respect of what he does, and I can see why, but this is not self indulgence: it's a genuine song, albeit one where it tells its tale without finding it necessary to use words: which after all is a facet of so much music especially classical & jazz & it's interesting that instrumentals, while once much more popular in the "popular" section of music, seem out of favour presently. Maybe John can help bring them back into our experience?

You can catch John playing at Ziferblat in Coventry on 28th February & I'm sure you'll hear his two singles played.

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Barnabus Album Launch Gig

News

With Leamington rock band Barnabus, formed way back in 1970 having an Album Launch gig in Warwick next month it seemed a good time to look back to my only show by the band at St. Patrick's Irish Club, Leamington Spa back in 2009.

This big gig takes place on the night of Friday 20th March at the Nelson Club in Warwick with support by the Jaykays, tickets available behind the bar of the Nelson Club (ask for Clint) with only 140 available.

Andrew Lock

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"Nothing Good Is Wasted" by Rob Halligan

Review

Today I am pleased to be able to tell you about a new release from Rob Halligan: "Nothing Good Is Wasted" which is a taster for us from his upcoming album, ‘Always Heading Home'. (Check out the review in "Hot Music Live" in May 2019 for his ‘We All Write The Songs').

 

The new song is a delicate piano led ballad which builds gently, adding an acoustic guitar & a few extra layers but that must be to add textures & variety since there is no grand crescendo nor climax: this is a simple heartfelt track with as much meaning at the beginning as at the end, so a consistency of sound is wholly appropriate.

Although there are eco themes embedded in the words, overall it would appear to be a manifestation of Rob's spiritual beliefs & specifically that there exists a place beyond the physical existence of this world & that things of beauty & value continue to live there once their earthly sojourn is passed. The melody & arrangement works effectively to evoke these timeless & infinite qualities & also to turn one's own mind in the direction of contemplation of the eternal.

Though once described by the BBC in relation to artists of the calibre of Bruce Springsteen and Billy Bragg (which is valid of course in terms of his songwriting skill, his honesty in writing & his commitment to writing about lives of real people), this type of song is a long way from the usual lyrical interests of such writers.

As an artist with a wide fanbase within & beyond the UK, Rob tours lot outside our immediate area & indeed has many shows planned for this year, both to play his new album and others such as ‘Psalm' (released in 2018)

However you can catch him locally on these occasions:

25th February at The Wurzel Bush Folk Club in Rugby

5th April at Willow and Tool's Music Parlour at the Harvester in Long Itchington

6th June at Motofest in Coventry (on Greyfriars' Green)

14th June at the

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Featured venue

Knights, Coventry

Knights is the function room for the highly recommended Simmer Down Caribbean Restaurant. Established by Alph Knight and Angela Knight in early July 2014 this family owned business provides good facilities, great atmosphere, excellent service while providing a flexible approach in providing events, conferences, business meetings and showcasing new upcoming bands on the stage. The facilities provided by Knights are a fully stocked licensed bar, dance floor, stage, DJ/Public Address System and modern projector and screen. This venue is particularly important to Coventry, it is one of few function rooms that has a strong link to the community in Coventry and also attached to a successful Coventry Music Museum and 2Tone café.


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