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"Smile" by Avidfan

Review

It was back in June that I introduced you to the debut single of Avidfan (the nom de musique of King of the Alps/Special Brew/Some Kinda Earthquake/Big Decision/Eight Miles High bass player and prolific "Hot Music Live Presents" featured instrumentalist Simon Ward). That one was called "Always Be Coventry" and if you neither heard the song nor read our review, you probably can work out its subject. You ought to try both though.

This time, I can tell you about the follow up "Smile" which came out today to mark World Singing Day. Which is something I wouldn't otherwise have been aware of I'm afraid.

This song once again is based upon a jazzy bass part (I'd say that as his band playing roles tend to give him less scope for this sort of thing, being Avidfan occasionally is really allowing Simon to access his inner Mingus. Which he is clearly enjoying.) but something a bit more relaxed and carefree, compared with its predecessor which in hindsight had something of an intensity. Not that that is intended as a negative criticism: Simon is a hugely positive advocate of his home city and, keen blood donor as he is, when he gives, no doubt the proceeds are a certain shade of blue. I think we can respect his keenness to extol what he so fervently believes in.

This time I think the depth of sincerity is still there, only this time he's expressing something different & adapting his mode accordingly. Whereas "Always Be Coventry" was site specific (it's hard to imagine heavy sales to anyone aside of Coventry ex-pats outside the city), this one addresses broader values. The theme seems to be around decent mental health & psychological well being with a manifesto encouraging happiness: not the worst idea at any time and especially in these uncertain and unsettling times.

Not someone who seems terribly keen to put himself forward as a vocalist, Simon performed "Always Be Coventry" by himself in a recitative style which clearly he felt comfortable with and was perfectly suited to the story in hand. This time round, he gets closer to orthodox singing with a mantra around smiling being possibly contagious and possibly our salvation, but also drops in a repeated sample by Vincent Price (ok using a noted horror film actor for what I've just described sounds at first counter intuitive but it's from "The Great Mouse Detective" so that's alright) and that works very nicely indeed.

In fact one of the joys of "Smile" is taking what Simon no doubt intends: an extremely focused and simple idea which he conveys effectively and then plunging down into the subtleties of the production. The sample is for example given the odd dub treatment among its reiterations. The bass propels the track as we'd expect, but then you notice a simple guitar chiming away and something (I know not what) being played backwards: again for that dubwise grooviness. By then it's lodged in your brain: again presumably the intention. Simon wants smiling to become contagious: "Smile" itself is infectious.

As before, there is a witty & humane video which complements and re-emphasises the music which you can find at:

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

This also heavily references a tagging campaign in Coventry which drew both positive and negative reactions and which was the original inspiration for "Smile'.

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‘After the Fire' by Blue Moon Birds

Review

I hope that you enjoyed the Maz Corry song "In This Living" on ‘Hot Music Live Presents Volume Five'?  I'd like to think that you also read my review (back in January) of its original home on her album ‘Postcards Home'?

If so, you may have noticed that she created that record with the (necessarily remote at that time) help of Simon Kemp.

Now, the two of them have decided that since they are for all intents and purposes a functioning writing and performing duo, that they ought to release their music under a collective name. Hence, though Maz tells me that they consider ‘Postcards Home' to be their debut (despite coming out solely under her name), for its follow-up, ‘After the Fire' (now available for your pleasure) they have decided on the name Blue Moon Birds.

The genesis of this collection of ten new original songs cannot be more different to its predecessor. This one was forged in true folk organic style by following in the illustrious footsteps of Traffic and Led Zeppelin (please don't argue with me that the latter weren't a folk band because they were in my opinion) and "getting it together in the country": composing and recording at Mellowcroft (great name) in Wales over four days with power from a generator as it's not on any grid.

You can imagine the impact of such an intense and rootsy approach on the quality and tone of the outcoming music and as such it certainly offers a distinct complement to their previous set. Equally, the concentrated window of composition gives the whole a freshness comparable to the dew I imagine their encountering on the adjacent mountainsides each morning.

The space they worked in has excellent acoustics and while all the album sounds like it was recorded with as live and spontaneous set up as possible, one track in particular they nailed in a single fully live take. (To be honest I was intending to leave it up to you to see if you could hear which one it might be, but since they've indicated that it was "More Than I Could Dare to Dream Of" on the album, that isn't much of a challenge….)

Interestingly, that track sits in the middle of the album, which perhaps makes sense as it is a very gentle and uber-ethereal one, but what makes it particularly impressive is how they had the confidence to go for this one for the purely live take: it's restrained to perhaps the most I've ever heard a song being restrained: as it progresses, expected notes are delivered later and later than our expectations and I really admire their trust in each other to do this… every moment has the potential for the fragility of the song to break completely and this tension adds much to the superb overall effect. Maz sings not just languorously, but from such an apparent distance that you might imagine she was up the mountain for the performance.

Generally, the trademarks of approach noticeable on ‘Postcards Home' characterise this new collection also. The previously mentioned etherealness, haunting melodies and so much space you could hardly believe. Given their admirable commitment to minimalism and allowing what they do to resonate the more through lack of drowning in extra instruments or production, you might think defining the sound would be tricky, but there is sufficient evidence to confirm their folk and blues roots and I do appreciate how (for example) they can fully evoke the latter with just brief licks. Classy stuff delivered by virtuoso performances.

The other tracks, not being live, tend to indicate why they were not so by extra instrumentation dubbed on : as you might imagine, not one note more than they felt the track called for, so which if they are relatively fuller than "More Than I Could Dare to Dream Of" , it's only a marginal degree so. "Like Lovers Should" even features a guest in the form of James Schofield to form an exquisite duet.

To introduce the rest of the album, the tracks are called  "The River Song", "Sleepless Nights", "Phantom", "Hold On To Hope", "The Way That  You Love", "Paradise", "Hold Out Your Hand" and "Lily's Song".

I have no idea if the band are contemplating a single, nor which might get selected for radio play, but I have an inkling that "Phantom" might be worthy of a selection: again it's very sparse but grooves along in a sultry fashion with Maz's excellent vocals sit atop of little more than a "Come Together" sort of New Orleans bassline and some percussion.

"Paradise" in contrast is much more jazz inflected (with Maz apparently overdubbing extra vocal harmonies) and adds to what the previous album had already showed to us: they may love folk and blues but are quite happy to explore other waters and in a collection this size, the variety strengthens the whole as a listening experience ("Hold Out Your Hand" is pure country)

That said, as I played the album, I was thinking to myself about how I'd envisage myself (or any other potential listener) experiencing this music in order to get the most out of it. I'd personally like to hear it live, but under the strict proviso that it was in an intimate setting with as much insulation as possible from talking, glasses chinking etc. You really don't need distractions from getting the maximum immersion in this tranquil music. At home, again it's an intimate set of pieces: both in terms of the music which I've already tried to describe for you, but also in the nature of the words. Best to play it by yourself when all is quiet or even better with the company of someone dear to you.

I used the adjective "exquisite" above and as a rule I try to avoid repeating descriptions in a single review, but I think in this case the word can apply to the whole of ‘After the Fire'. Maz & Simon have crafted a really strong collection (I admire how they created some many high quality tracks in such a short space of time, especially when these days the EP seems the go to length of multi track releases) and it thoroughly deserves your close attention: and if you see the name Blue Moon Birds (hopefully) playing live near you, you won't now have to blink in incomprehension but you'll have some idea of what you'll hear if you pop along.

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"HIGHHIGHHIGH" by Euan Blackman

Review

Just over a month since we told you about his "Sinking" single, Euan Blackman will be releasing his third one "HIGHHIGHHIGH" tomorrow (Friday). I'm not sure whether it will eventually join its predecessor on an eventual EP, but at the moment I'm not sure that is too important: let's enjoy it on its own considerable merits.

As with the recent "Señorita" single from Rheo Uno, here we have a track whose creator rates it as a personal favourite, and as with that case, I think we should take note and ponder why that might be so.

In tone, the song falls somewhere between "Sinking" and its own predecessor "24 Hours 7 Days" with an ambiguous mixture of the jauntiness of the former and the more intense introspection of the latter, it took me a few plays to try to gather what mood Euan was in. I think on reflection that he seems happy, but in a very laid back and underplayed way. He seems to take solace and pleasure from the small experiences of life and I suspect as much, if not more, by "being" rather than "doing".

This sophisticated & subtle touch is greatly to his credit and well worth pursuing. If people don't quite get what you are aiming at first time, then hopefully they'll not only listen again, but feel that much more rewarded once they've delved deeper into the song and pleased with themselves for engaging with it and deriving meaning from it.

Wholly Euan's own work (though once again Charlie Braddick mixed and mastered it), the guitar part sounds like it originated in a non-standard tuning (like "Sinking") and this conveys a melody which apparently he has had for  over twelve months and which it seems he took his time to set precisely the right lyrics to.

There is a fascinating video which I imagine contains images of things with Euan himself finds uplifting and which has a lo-fi approach which echoes nicely the self deprecation and wistfulness of the song. You can check this out at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EX1ZMoPwNhk

Once again, it's these qualities which bring me back to what I said last time, when I detected "..a very "English" light touch on both the intensity of the lyrics and the pastorality of the music…." and I think Euan reinforces this here. The subject matter and the way he expresses himself tend to the quintessentially "English" in style. I wonder if he listened much to fellow Warwickshire artist Nick Drake as he grew up? He certainly shares some of his aesthetic as well as an approach to playing guitar.

Maybe the convergence of all these elements serve to explain his own happiness with what he's created. He certainly can feel pleased with the melodicism and how his playing delivers it. However add in lyrics he clearly spent much time and care working on (which must produce a sense of personal achievement) and that overall sense of having nailed a mood and sense of place and being, then you can understand why he might feel that this might be his track which most approaches his own vision of what he trying to achieve.

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‘Protest Songs 1924-2012' by The Specials

Review

Fresh out from The Specials is a new album called ‘Protest Songs 1924-2012'.  It was conceived impulsively and in reaction to their frustration at not being able to work together as they wished (they had convened in February 2020 to begin planning a new album and within a week members had started falling victim to COVID19). They took into account the general "paranoia and mass unrest" and then the specific protests sparked by the George Floyd murder and decided to respond to what they saw & felt around them with an "interim project, for our sanity as much as anything else" (I get the distinct feeling that it was cathartic for them in working out their contemporary feelings) and so was born the project of covering protest songs of the last century.

Despite the colossal weight of evidence of forty years, (too) many people feel happiest labelling the band as a "ska band". In fact even the briefest glance at their work would tell you that they moved away from this immediately after their first album (in the words of Jerry Dammers: "ska was just a launching point. I didn't want us to end up like Bad Manners"). Certainly the band has returned to ska sporadically in that period (there's a bit on ‘Encore', their previous release). However if you want a more accurate description of the band since its inception, then "protest band" fits much better. Maybe this was always what they needed to do (despite all the great original protest songs they have written: again not least on ‘Encore').

The second point I'd like to make about the album in general is to hark back to how educational bands like this one have always been to the likes of me: we'd discover new artists through our favourite artists covering them, talking about them or especially playing them over the PA before & during gigs (quite apart from The Specials in this respect, I learned so much from people like the Clash and Elvis Costello, perhaps not uncoincidentally both early collaborators with the Specials).

Quite a lot (around 50) of protest songs were considered, but the dozen which emerged from the process of selection have tended to avoid the best known: quite possibly only The Wailers' "Get Up, Stand Up" will be immediately familiar. Of the others, some with a blast of instant hindsight make obvious connections: the Staple Singers, or Big Bill Broonzy for example (and it's great to hear the band tackle the blues: a form bassist Horace Panter is so well known for playing in outside the group). Others are, as I said, pure education. We all know "Wild Thing" & you may know it was written by Chip Taylor. Like me though, you probably didn't have any inkling of his 2012 track "Fuck All the Perfect People". We also get two songs written by Malvina Reynolds (who wrote the well known folk song "Little Boxes") plus contributions from both Leonard Cohen and the Mothers of Invention. To me, most intriguing was a radical reworking of the 1980 Talking Heads track "Listening Wind": certainly not what I'd  have thought of as a protest song until this recording revealed it to me. It's also of course linked through the person of David Byrne to the superb 1983 Fun Boy Three album ‘Waiting' on which he acted as producer. (A second FB3 connection is a live (from the 2019 Coventry Cathedral gigs) version of "The Lunatics (Have Taken Over The Asylum)" which concludes the album, along with one of "We Sell Hope", both also on ‘Encore' and which fit really well into the album's overall theme).

This is no ska album & frankly the band sound liberated from that weight of expectation.  If the Wailers song (sung with characteristic passion by Lynval Golding) and the reggae-ish arrangement on the Talking Heads song (hats off to guest vocalist Hannah Hu) head in that direction very slightly, then it's because in both cases it's the right sound to convey the messages. Otherwise, we get many chances for the excellent musicians to flex their skills and interests in service of the songs. There are moments of barely constrained anger and others of deep beauty and pathos.

Over the years Terry Hall's voice has developed (no doubt the very many genres he has now sung in have helped along with physical processes) and he is in his element here. I'm not sure any rendition of a Leonard Cohen song would have worked this well back in 1980. If the petulant punk style he brought with him from Squad in 1978 has long since gone, then the sense of disillusion has not: all his accumulated experience since then seems only to have informed it more. I'm delighted to see that the band's mission statement for the album is "Still Pissed Off".

This really brings us back to where I started: this is a band who look at the world and tell it like it is: however uncomfortable that might be. The option of taking the easy route and pandering to expectations is one they have never taken. Every step they have taken challenged such things and they are still doing it.  It's with something of a sigh of weariness that I ploughed through the perhaps inevitable online posts from alleged Specials fans along the lines of "I've bought every Specials record but I ain't buying this one" (note this sort of thing appeared in depressingly significant numbers before the album had been played in public let alone released). A sort of 2021 version of the "love the music, hate the politics" nonsense of forty years ago from racists who thought they were fans of the band. If after all this time, you don't get what they are about, it's a little sad. There has even been a  precedent for this album back in 1980 when they confused some people by covering Bob Dylan's "Maggie's Farm" as a b-side to the "Do Nothing" single For me, covers album though it is, it does sum them up nicely.

It must be galling not to be properly understood (even a very complimentary Sunday Times review thought that ‘Encore' was called ‘Reward': not many marks for paying attention there) despite the clarity with which they express themselves. ‘Protest Songs 1924-2012' could not be clearer as to where the band stand and frankly if you don't stand with them on these issues then you are probably part of a problem. You even get their philosophy served up in the form of great music & I'll finish by emphasising that despite the depth of the feelings expressed, the band display optimism: not only is "We Sell Hope" a good point to end on, but even the most powerful of numbers include the uplifting: not least the Staples' opener (and single) "Freedom Highway" or the defiant Wailers song which makes it clear that success in the struggle is not only wished for but anticipated. Interim it may be, but stopgap it certainly is not.

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Barnabus - The Nelson Club, Warwick

Review

What a night at The Nelson Club in Warwick for this the final ever gig by Leamington's very own rock legends Barnabus on the 50th Anniversary of their "Beginning to Unwind" album as will as its first official release.
Support was by the Jaykays 60's Band another 3 piece lead by John Storer (a busy night for him) with a set bursting with 60's classics and a wonderful Hendrix moment from the 1970's.
For the headline set Barnabus played the whole of the album, the heavier Sabbath like bombastic rock of 'Acopalypse' and ‘The War Drags On' proving what a powerhouse trio thay are mixing so well with the gentler folky numbers such ‘Gas Rise' and their cover of ‘Morning Dew', they closed the night and of course the Barnabus story (live anyway) with an explosive cover of ‘Crossroads'.
The audience was full of familiar, friendly faces including many local musicians and the poet Les Bates who provided many of the albums lyrics and this was a most memorable night for the local music scene.

Andrew Lockbar

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'Brown Nosey' by Daffod'i'll

Review

I mentioned as a supplementary note in my review of Saturday's gig at The Tin that I encountered ‘Hot Music Live Presents' artist Daffod'i'll in the audience and he briefed me on his upcoming new album  (his tenth solo one) called ‘Brown Nosey'. He has since then kindly sent me a copy so that I can pass onto you the details.

Consisting of ten tracks (to match its place in the sequence?) which are titled "Blow", "Deborah", "Heart of Stone", "Loverman", "How Do", "No More War", "Nothing Gonna Stop", "Round & Down", "Morning After" and "Yes/No", the album follows ‘I Stripped Bare' which I told you about as recently as last month (he is certainly on a prolific streak at the moment: certainly making up for the many years he was not releasing material).

I suggested on that occasion ".., ‘I Stripped Bare' may represent Dill really coming into his own as a solo artist, mastering the musical as well as lyrical side of his craft and distinguishing his output from that of his two bands, each of which casts quite a shadow.."

Listening to ‘Brown Nosey' tends to reinforce and confirm that impression. Not only does he seem now in his element as a solo musician, building on his much respected legacy but not constrained by it, but he has for the last couple of albums been working with a new production team & this has definitely made a difference I think: they seem to be taking his current work as they find it rather than harking back to previous preconceptions as to what Daffod'i'll music should sound like.

The changes, which have come via evolution rather than revolution (remember that he was not originally an instrumentalist and so his solo career has involved a very steep and fundamental learning curve), are several and subtle rather than paradigm shifting. For example, although the punning humour is still present, the track titles are much punchier without that aspect necessarily infusing them. As with its predecessor, the overall sound is much more contemporary , with that slight leaning towards R&B I detected before, though with a high number of disparate styles informing the various tracks: eastern ones, reggae, high life etc plus once again a greater number of instrumental sounds. This gives the whole collection a pleasing variety without being so eclectic as to be a bewildering mixbag of styles which confuse the listener. They are held together by the continuity of the vocals and work well together as a set. What however is a significant departure is that although spiritual and humane themes crop up throughout the album, there are no tracks with quite the overt religious theme on ‘Brown Nosey' as have been on his earlier ones (even ‘I Stripped Bare' had "Prophet Jesus Christ"). Possibly in line with other changes I've noted, this vital element of his musical & personal identity is being woven more deeply into the fabric of his work & so no longer has to sit on the surface as much….

During our conversation on Saturday, I reiterated to him my liking for the deep dub approach he has deployed to good effect ever since the earliest Gods Toys days (such as  "Arty Natty") and which have cropped up sporadically ever since. He's rarely if ever had more than one on any album (I'm sure he sees the form as merely one of his many musical interests rather than a style to concentrate upon) but I did my best to persuade him to compile them all onto a dub album at some stage. Interestingly, these last two albums where he has really hit his stride don't feature tracks of that nature as such, though reggae influences can be heard in tracks such as "Deborah" (one of the strongest tracks this time round, a bit T Rex channelling I'd imagine & one which would make a decent pick for a single) or "Loverman": another one which I think will attract listeners' attention first.

That said, although certain songs may be the first to make an impression, the overall quality of the writing is an admirably high & consistent level: possibly more so than some of his earlier solo albums where certain ones did stand out much more. It's not an easy trick to pull off:  I've been mentioning in this magazine and chatting to quite a few people about the interesting re-emergence of the EP format in recent years. It certainly offers certain advantages for production but also for promotion and for ensuring that every track gets attention or even airplay. To this extent, Daffod'i'll is probably still a bit old school and maybe he ought to be considering at this point more singles and EPs, but if you can pull off ten track albums of this consistency, then you are doing a pretty impressive job.

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"Under Me" by Abz Winter

Review

That irrepressible artist Abz Winter is back on 8th October with her latest single "Under Me", her follow-up to "Money" from July.

 Once again produced by Matthew Waddell at 14 Records and mixed & mastered by El Sam at Elixir Prods, the song continues in her by now trademark style of articulating what she feels without mincing her words but also without malice. It's just as much about working out her own feelings about someone whose faults she now sees as blaming them as such. She may not have ultimately enjoyed that relationship, but she's learnt from it & this empowers her to move right on with her life.

There is in fact a great deal of compassion, both for herself and the object of her words and as is always the case with Abz, not only does her self admitted defiance never spill over into sinking to another's level (and the song is after all about relative levels) but it is tinged with a great deal of her characteristic (good) humour too. Abz holds the moral high ground in this affair, she knows it and can afford to laugh at someone rather than just deride them.

A lockdown created track (as you might imagine), it manages, as Abz always seems to do, to move her writing on another stage each time. It's hard sometimes to forget that she is still in her teens (and this is a great chance to acknowledge how she has just stepped up another level in her musical academic studies and wish her well) as although the effervescent bubbly adolescent personality which attracted us all to her artistry in the first place is still there in the words and parts of the arrangement, there are now cooler, calmer moments of reflection in the music and she has been gaining the life experiences and perspectives to make observations along the lines of "..how we're always attracted to the bad guys, but as the story plays out we actually realise how selfish and controlling they are, and that their only power is in our own insecurities, once digested, we are free to take back control and walk with our heads held high.."

Sung with her customary confidence and élan, the tune again is an infectious electro-dance beat which thankfully she has always processed with a light touch. You can certainly dance to this, but the words are worth your attention.

Underneath the truth of the story, there is something a bit more general and deeper going on in what she has written and which she wants to share with you. It's about self belief and calibrating your own self worth higher than others might want you to: as Abz herself puts better than anything I might write on her behalf: "I have been really busy these past 2 years working on these songs which are an honest interpretation on my own personal  experiences. My music helps me stay in control of my own mental wellbeing, I find by putting my thoughts down on paper allows me to offload in what has been a rollercoaster two years for everyone… my slant it is to put a synth- electro-dance-pop type beat, as I feel this keeps the songs light hearted, allowing people to relate without feeling down & hopefully feel better about themselves….we all go through the same shit, just at different times".

Abz certainly is entitled to feel in a powerful and confident position at the moment. She is producing track after track of high class and thoughtful material and given her continuing experiences of playing, studying and being played in different areas of the country, is definitely breaking out of Coventry and Warwickshire and into a bigger world. The last few singles will I understand also be appearing on her upcoming album which I'm sure will showcase all the aspects of her writing and performing skills.

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"The Lucky One" by Kenzie Webley

Review

For those of you who were wondering about the activities of that rapidly rising local star Kenzie Webley, I am able to bring you up to speed.

I think she originally had quite a summer anticipated: with the possibility of more live performance activities and with the completion of her debut album. However I'm sorry to say that not only did COVID19 make these more difficult as they did for everyone else by squeezing opportunities & constraining artists, it also hit her directly, with recovering her vocal capacity making both gigging and recording difficult.

Things are looking up now though for Kenzie (she has also just commenced her university studies which will be yet another factor for her to juggle) and while the album is delayed rather than anything worse, at least she has the option of being able to share an already recorded track "The Lucky One" as a single so that we are not deprived of her talents in the interim and which is out on the first of October.

Created like her other music and the forthcoming album at Leamington's 14 Records with Matt Waddell producing (and playing all the instruments bar Kenzie's own guitar) and Gemma Waddell designing the backing vocal arrangements, "The Lucky One" was actually originally composed when Kenzie was only fifteen (that is to say three years ago). It's a testament to how mature and fully formed she was as a writer when she first burst onto the scene that what for most writers might be categorised as juvenilia, where the ideas are relatively callow given the lack of experience with the world & hence not really be in the frame for later release, this does not apply here.

Essentially a tale of lost love, instead of bemoaning the loss, the song takes the line that the writer feels they were lucky to have had that person in their lives: a very positive spin which certainly seems helpful in the process of moving on without damaging regrets. Nevertheless she is not kidding herself nor us: she really wouldn't mind being lucky enough to tick all the boxes for the relationship to persist or resume.

Consequently the track itself is an interesting set of complexities: there is as you might imagine a certain melancholy, there is equally a rather jaunty feel to it. This really is a key to understanding why Kenzie is respected in the way she is: her songs are not unusually long (though this one is four and a half minutes) nor are they structured in a way which makes them inaccessible to any listener. You can listen to "The Lucky One" and enjoy it as an agreeable, melodic piece without necessarily noticing what it is which holds your attention: these subtle combinations and shifts of tone, internal paradoxes, and between them Kenzie, Matt & Gemma have woven an arrangement which is ever changing: no passage of the song repeats itself exactly in terms of tempo, instrumentation nor vocal performance. It's little things like these which, though presumably not what most people would consciously notice (and I have to say, I feel somewhat guilty as a reviewer of tending to pick tracks apart to see how they work when all the artist wants is for us to enjoy the finished product), nevertheless not only mark out a mature and sophisticated approach to writing but also create songs which impact our subconscious as much as our conscious mind.  This is a track with a lot packed into it, which however pulls off the not insubstantial trick of sounding fresh, simple & above all, uncontrived.

The good news is that bar some final vocal parts, necessarily delayed until her voice has recovered, the album is close to completion. Sources from within 14 Records have expressed disappointment that the end of the process is nigh, so much have they enjoyed working with Kenzie. I think I speak for many on the local scene by saying that we have expectations of similar heights of pleasure when we hear the new collection. This is an artist who many people (myself included) think is going a long way. She also tells me that her hope is that around Christmas, with her voice back in fighting fettle and on her return from university, she'll be setting up gigs in the area. I hope to see some of you there.

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Old and gold

The Catenary Wires, Pete Astor, The Pristines and The Sunbathers

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The other day, while reviewing the new Chessi O'Dowd single, "The Pines", I commented that the first gig I had scheduled which was cancelled by ...

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Beans on Toast ‘SURVIVAL OF THE FRIENDLIEST'

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Beans on Toast ANNOUNCES NEW ALBUM: ‘SURVIVAL OF THE FRIENDLIEST' - OUT 1 DECEMBER 2021, VIA BOT MUSIC LISTEN TO NEW SINGLE: "A BEAUTIFUL ...

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"You Had It All (Reimagined)" by The Rising

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For those of you following the incremental release of The Rising's ‘No Hope Without Love' EP (and I hope that's you all), you may ...

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"Real World" by Joe Dolman

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It's been above a year since I last got to review a Joe Dolman release (his collaboration with Millie Tilby "Let's Go Home") so it's ...

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Made In Coventry

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Made in Coventry celebrates the incredible range of music artists and styles in our city and across Warwickshire.

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"The Pines" by Chessi O'Dowd

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The last twenty or so months have to some extent made us all consider various aspects of time I think: such as how long has elapsed since we last did ...

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"Señorita" by Rheo Uno

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I get extremely intrigued by what artists occasionally say about their own work.

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"10-46" by Massasauga

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It was back in April when out of their "7 Nights of Terror" competition, Massasauga fans voted the chilling "Switchblade" to be their single.

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The 'Hauntings' EP by Year Without A Summer

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It's been nearly a year since we last reviewed a Year Without A Summer  release in these pages (and the last couple of years have come ...

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"Sinking" by Euan Blackman

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On 2nd September, Euan Blackman will be releasing "Sinking", his follow up to the widely praised and popular "24 Hours 7 Days" and I gather it will ...

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"Polaroids of Yesteryear" by Levi Washington

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To say that I was stunned by the new Levi Washington single "Polaroids of Yesteryear" (which you can hear at 1800 tomorrow, the first of September, ...

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"Never Gone" by Lemon Boy

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"Never Gone", the follow up to his very well received "I Want Your Blue Sky" single from May, will be the latest release from Lemon Boy on 1st ...

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Wendy James - Queen High Straight Tour

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WENDY JAMES RELEASES MUSIC VIDEO FOR ‘THE IMPRESSION OF NORMALCY' - WATCH HERE  + ANNOUNCES UK TOUR DATES FOR AUGUST, ...

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The Mintakaa Collective live at the Daimler Powerhouse

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If you enjoyed "Auriga" by Mintakaa on ‘Hot Music Live Presents Volume Six' then it's a fair assumption that you'd be interested in ...

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Mugun Grips The Scene With The Release Of ‘Underglow'

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Establishing himself as one of Coventry's hottest exports, mugun grips the scene with the release of 'underglow'.

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'I Stripped Bare' by Daffod'i'll

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On today, his birthday (not a coincidence I imagine), Daffod'I'll  has released his ninth solo album entitles ‘I Stripped Bare' ...

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‘Seven Signs of a Soul' by Ian Todd

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As prophesised in our recent reviews of his singles "Don't Forget To Breathe" (in June) and "What Goes In Is What Goes Out" (last month), the ...

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Wes Finch on Stratford Bandstand

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I'm sorry to say that I'd never previously attended one of the summer Sunday afternoon concerts on the Bandstand in Stratford before but ...

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"Show Me" by Rheo Uno

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Considerably less than a month ago, I was strongly suggesting to you that you should check out the new Rheo Uno single "Wife Me?" yet already the ...

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"Dreamstate" by Free Galaxy

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Fresh out from Free Galaxy is their latest single "Dreamstate", though it is far from business as usual for this popular band.

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Leamington Spa Art In The Park (Saturday)

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Joyous return to live music at premier Warwickshire event, Leamington Art In The Park.

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"Highway to the Lost & Found" by The Rising

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True to their mission, The Rising are back with a new single "Highway to the Lost & Found"  (due out on 3rd September) just over a month ...

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"Art in the Park" 2021

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To be honest, as delighted as I was that live music in some quantity was back at an expanded "Art in the Park" (two stages rather than the usual ...

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"2 Tone and Rock Against Racism" event

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In my recent review of the "Women Pioneers" event at Coventry Cathedral, I drew your attention to its companion event centring on the 2 Tone ...

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LEAMINGTON SPA ART IN THE PARK 2021 (SATURDAY)

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It's been a long two years but I finally got back to a little live music photography on the Saturday of Leamington's Art In The Park ...

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"God's Little Punching Bag" by YNES

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Springing out of the blue somewhat is the new single from YNES called "God's Little Punching Bag" which burst onto our consciousness this ...

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"Bring Back the Feeling" by Danny Ansell

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The most recent occasion on which we reported on Danny Ansell and his music was back in April, with the release of his "Slice of Cake" single.

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‘24 Hours 7 Days' by Euan Blackman

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Fresh in from Alcester based artist Euan Blackman is his brand new release "24 Hours 7 Days": just when I imagined that the products of lockdown ...

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'Cocoon' by Tigermask

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When I wrote last month about the latest single from Tigermask, "Mirtazapine", I told you quite a lot about its parent album ‘Cocoon' which in ...

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"Wife Me?" by Rheo Uno featuring Chxmpion

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Unfortunately, it has been over a year since I last wrote about a Rheo release in the magazine and a similar timespan since her "Down For You" ...

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