Fat Freddy’s Drop – Silver And Gold [Listen]

Here’s a little something for the weekend, Fat Freddy’s Drop have returned with Silver And Gold, the first single from new album Blackbird, due early 2013. As has been the case throughout the bands thirteen year career, it’s a fabulous marriage of dub and blues with grooves that belong on the dance floor. The album’s not far off and Silver And Gold is one hell of an exciting tease. It’s also a FREE download, so grab it while it’s hot!

Trevor Menear – Some Kind of Sunshine [Review]

My latest bandcamp find (damn I love that site) is Chicago based Trevor Menear whose blues filled slices of soul have relentlessly been rocking my soundsystem all evening.

Some Kind of Sunshine was self-released back in 2010 via bandcamp and follows his 2008 debut Introducing Trevor Menear (Shangri-La Music). Infectiously catchy melodies playfully rub shoulders with raw blues guitar and soul filled vocals to a modern rock backdrop. I’d really like to refrain from comparing Menear to other artists but it’s fairly easy to think the raw blues of The Black Keys circa 2008 meets the soul of Ray LaMontagne with a whole lot more variation and ideas thrown in the mix. It’s surprisingly well produced as well, not to discredit Trevor Menear, however it cleverly blends that fuzzy, rough blues tone that bands such a Radio Moscow and Dan Auerbach chase so intently, with quiet acoustics and superb percussion; never sounding over produced and retaining a very organic sound. Album opener River Blues opens perfectly with style and some flowing licks, it’s exciting stuff and builds into a burning guitar solo that sounds thoroughly effortless.

After reading comparisons with Hendrix, and Duane Allman, Menears skills behind a guitar may have a lot to live up to but what really impresses is his restraint on this album. Solos never outstay their welcome, they are written to enhance the song and not purely to show off, something that can and should be greatly admired in songwriters who know their way around their instrument. It’s intelligent writing and only enforces the surprise that this young, talented musician who is not only a brilliant guitarist but proves he’s also an excellent song writer has not been snapped up by a major label already, especially after the recent explosion of The Black Keys into the mainstream of popular music.

Whatever way you look at Some Kind of Sunshine, it is undeniable that it’s a brilliant pop record as well as a superb indie blues record and as a free download (yes it’s free, although we encourage everyone to name a price if they like it and support these artists) it not only deserves to be given a chance but has the potential to spend a long time in my playlist.

Some Kind of Sunshine can be obtained from bandcamp as a name your price download.

trevormenear.com
Trevor on Facebook

Dirtwire – DIRTWIRE [Review]

While American blues and North African music, in particular the ‘Desert blues’ that has come out of Mali – probably best represented by the late legend Ali Farka Touré, are no stranger to each other it still sounds incredibly fresh to hear two continents influences collide with such graceful results. What Dirtwire, the duo David Satori (Beats Antique) and Evan Fraser (Hamsa Lila), have accomplished on their debut full length is not only beautifully composed but incredibly well executed with wide instrumentation and carefully considered orchestration. It’s not simply a mash up of music from across the world but a subtle and most importantly genuine sounding blend.

Western beats sit side by side with African live instrumentation, Banjo, harmonica, piano and even hints of dub basslines all come together but where Dirtwire excel here is not seeming to lean toward any one influence. What can begin as a very rough, Americana sound can soon be filled with North African vibes and flow effortlessly together. We’ve seen it before with other musicians but Dirtwire make it relevant to fans of western beat music and with an entirely instrumental take, if I didn’t know better I’d never have guessed their country of origin; which it turns out the pair met at the California Institute of the Arts where they studied World Music and Composition together. Skilled individuals no doubt but together they’ve really come up with something wonderful, lets hope to hear more from them in the future. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this album to someone who wanted an introduction to Desert Blues or North African blues generally.

DIRTWIRE is available to buy on bandcamp. It’s name your price so if you enjoy it, think about supporting the guys.

Bandcamp Find of the Week – Pickwick

So I suppose my Bandcamp Find of the Week series should technically be renamed Bandcamp Find of the Season. We’ll gloss over the lack of follow ups since that January article, here’s the latest one. I present to you Pickwick.

There’s scant information across the internet on these guys so this is what I do know; there’s six of them, they’re from Seattle, they have a penchant for vintage gear and they love vinyl (men after my own heart there). But what I can tell you from listening to their debut record Myths, interestingly split into three EP’s and released over a period of months, is that they are a great blend of Soul, R&B and Indie rock with shades of blues and the songwriting skills to boot. It’s raw stuff, don’t expect lavish production here. That’s not to say it’s badly produced however, far from it, there’s perfect clarity and it does nothing but accentuate the bands sound, giving each member’s instrument room to breathe and stand out – there are some infectiously catchy melodies here. Most importantly however, it sounds like the band are having fun and this bleeds into their sound freely at all opportunities. Across the record (or three EP’s depending on how you buy it) Pickwick display great skill in creating meaningful songs full of soul. It’s also worth mentioning the interesting presentation and method of releasing three EPs as a full length. The band clearly have a vision and it’s great to see them experimenting with the way they release their music. Each EP comes with it’s own artwork, all stylistically created to compliment each other, it’s a nice idea well executed.

Have a listen over on the Pickwick bandcamp. Note if you want to grab Myths as a complete piece rather than the three EPs via bandcamp, you can purchase it digitally for $8 (USD) or physically for $10 (USD) on their kungfustore here. Highlights include the superb Hacienda Motel (live version below, well worth the watch!) and The Round.

Tracklisting as follows:

Volume 1
1) Hacienda Motel
2) When Rosa Speaks

Volume 2
1) The Round
2) Staged Names

Volume 3
1) Limelight
2) Blackout

Quantic & Alice Russell with the Combo Bárbaro – Look Around The Corner [Watch]

I mentioned this superb track a few weeks ago but now it has a nice and intimate live video to go with it. Sounds of the summer right here folks. The album’s out 2nd of April and the single is available now from various places on the net!

Live dates are as follows:

March
15th – 17 – SXSW Showcase Info TBA
22nd – Los Angles
24th – San Francisco

April
24th – Paris
25th – Massy
26th – Marseille
27th – Nice
28th – Bordeaux

May
2nd – Koko, London
3rd – Picture House, Edinburgh
4th – Band on the Wall, Manchester
5th – WDR Anniversary, nr. Cologne, Germany
6th – Hare and Hounds, Birmingham

Quantic & Alice Russell with the Combo Bárbaro – Look Around The Corner [Listen/News]

Quantic has teamed up with Alice Russell for a full-length backed by the Combo Bárbaro. It’s still only January right?

The first single and album opener Look Around the Corner has made it’s way onto soundcloud and seamlessly mixes soul, blues and Columbian vibes with Alice Russell’s trademark swaggering vocal style. It’s summer distilled and nails a classic 60’s feel with warm, dusty production, live instrumentation and excellent song writing.


Quantic and Alice Russell are a pretty big deal for UK based Tru Thoughts and this marks the first time the pair will have worked together on a complete album, having collaborated only on single songs previously. Backed by Quantic’s own Combo Bárbaro this looks set to be a bright and soulful release that will land just in time for summer. Look Around The Corner is out on deluxe full-colour 10” vinyl and digital download on 20th February; the album (of the same name) follows in April. Quantic will be touring with Alice Russell in the USA, Europe and UK through from March to May.

If you enjoy this, it’s worth grabbing a copy of Quantic and his Combo Bárbaro’s excellent album Tradition In Transition.