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.

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The Revival Hour – Hold Back [Listen]

Fresh back from a week spent exploring the rainy Cornish coast and I already have a pile of releases mounting on the side of my desk. Before beginning the trawl through the precarious mountain beside me and whilst doing my usual weekly round of bandcamp, I stumbled upon The Revival Hour and their outstanding debut single Hold Back / Run Away.

Hold Back is big in every sense of the word, opening line “I am the lonliest climber of them all” sets a brooding tone which continues through; combined with gospel backing, rising choruses, swelling strings, deep brass, staccato piano, D.M. Stith’s brilliant falsetto voice and finally complimented with some seriously smooth production and this track just begs to be played loud. It’s powerful stuff, full of soul and incredibly intense. Lyrics question and demand, “Am I right to hold back?”, as the song rises and builds into something really quite wonderful. It’s dark, there’s no doubt about that, but it’s also crackling with suppressed energy. Bold stuf indeed.

The Revival Hour’s other half is completed by John Mark Lapham (The Earlies, The Late Cord) and with contributions from members of The Earlies, My Brightest Diamond and Shearwater, they are looking like they could become something really quite special. The single was released on 24th October of last year and after digging on facebook it appears the duo are working on release number two, a full length and a forthcoming tour. It couldn’t come soon enough as I can see myself exhausting this song pretty quickly if tonights play count is anything to go by!

Hold Back / Run Away is available to download for $2 (USD) from The Revival Hour’s bandcamp page.

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.

Belleruche – Stormbird [Watch]

Here we have the new single from BellerucheStormbird, which will be out on the 5th of March. It’s a slightly different sound from past Belleruche releases with more empashis on the electronic sounds than past tracks. The new full-length Rollerchain will be released this summer and it’ll be interesting to see what the overall sound is like. I have yet to make up my mind on this track but after a few listens it appears to be a grower. If it’s up to the standard of their past efforts it’s sure to be a classic and I’m all for the band pushing their sound forward.

Rollerchain will be released via Tru Thoughts – 07/05/2012.

Bandcamp Find of the Week – Question

I spend quite a bit of time on bandcamp trawling through the countless albums and eps picking out the artwork that displays some excellent design or something with a creative name and then checking out the music that follows. It’s a fantastic way to find artists if you’re willing to put the time in and listen to some questionable music along the way. This will be a series of posts for 2012 I’ll be writing most weeks of the year, essentially when something interesting crops up. So, for the first of 52 I present you with this weeks find, Question.

What drew me to Question was actually bandcamps Gallery page which is a selection of artists whose design is worth you looking at essentially. He’s got a superb header on there and nice set of album artworks and that’s reason enough to have a closer look in my book.

So what’s the music like? Well, Question’s bandcamp bio goes like this “This Southern California beatsmith has been spinning hiphop since the early 90’s. His production style is a mixture of obscure jazz samples, heavy beats, and live orchestration. Question’s music can be defined as an interpretation of a timeless era, purely fueled by Jazz & Soul.” and this is exactly what you get, only it’s incredibly well made.

Frankly Speaking by Question

I started with the free downloads of Interludes & Interpretations and Re-Deux before purchasing the full length Standard Translation. All follow the same template, great straight up beats combined with a wide collection of obscure jazz. This plays to it’s benefit and where the music really excels is in this collection of the samples, all interesting and consistant throughout. It’s got the dusty analogue feel down to a tee complimented with warm production and speaking of consistency that’s pretty much where Question is elevated above his peers. His work flows incredibly well and is all of a superb standard, there’s no throwaway tracks or gimicky moments and for this I thoroughly recommend the above collections. There’s no frills here, it’s just straight up, well made, jazzy instrumental hip hop and that’s a good thing. It’ll be in my playlist for a while to come.

Cabbage Row by Question

Head over to Question’s bandcamp page to find a collection of free and purchasable tracks. You can also find him on facebook here and his blog here.

Thom Stone – I Can’t Spend Christmas Alone [Listen]

Manchester based singer/songwriter Thom Stone has dropped a superb Christmas single in time for the holidays. It’s a mellow four and a half minutes but full of soul and you know what, if there’s one christmas single I recommend from this year, it’s this one. Enjoy!