Scenic Route to Alaska – Slow Down
“Everyone’s telling me to stop, take a breath and slow down”. Sounds like the guys at Scenic Route to Alaska have been doing some mindfulness. But these are wise words. And ‘Slow Down’ is a great single. Despite the implication in the title, this is a song that jumps out of the speakers. There’s a great riff and good energy throughout. Looking forward to the album early in the New Year. In the meantime, keep on truckin’.
Brenda – Children
Somewhere in one of David Lynch’s darkest dystopias, Brenda (the band) can be found writing songs. And by the sound of their soon-to-be-released EP, Creeper, they’re long-time dark dystopioids. The lead track from the EP, ‘Children‘, comes with a nightmarish clown-filled video. Coulrophobics will want to look away. But don’t. Always confront your deepest fears. Think of watching ‘Children’ as exposure therapy. I did and I’m cured. And I had a great time in the process. ‘Children’. By Brenda (the band). Highly recommended.
Lydia Loveless – Boy Crazy and Single(s)
In a different life, Lydia Loveless would be filed under post-punk. There’s the full-on urgency of late ‘70s music making, but with proper melodies, verses, and even choruses. Boy Crazy is repackaged version of a 2013 EP, plus a couple of covers and b-sides. One of those covers, Elvis Costello’s ‘Alison’, almost gives the post-punk game away. The original is, of course, perfect, but this version is pretty near perfect too. It’s difficult to escape the conclusion that in another universe, Lydia Loveless could have been up there with Nick Lowe, Robin Hitchcock, and Sir Declan of MacManus himself. But it’s this universe and with Lydia Loveless singing in a southern country drawl, despite her Ohio roots, it’s clear at least that she hails from nearer Nashville than Newham. Yet the mix of power-pop riffery and songs about men, and women, and men and women is just as intoxicating as similar songs from an earlier era. File under country-tinged-post-punk and enjoy.
Sarah Cripps – Leave Behind
Strongly recommend the new song by Sarah Cripps. From a forthcoming album, ‘Leave Behind’ references some dark places, but ultimately it’s an uplifting message. “Only thing I leave behind”, she says, “is the madness of the mind”. In an interview at Atwood Magazine, she reveals that she has a passion for cult horror and there’s certainly a gothic undercurrent to this song. But the melody is far too catchy to give you nightmares. This is a wonderful, expressive song that leaves you wanting more. Looking forward to the album.
Ian Felice – In The Kingdom Of Dreams
Ian Felice is the beating heart of The Felice Brothers. Formerly with Simone (but on production duties here) and latterly with James (“Real talent”), the siblings have made some of the most rollockingly mournful music that’s ever come out of The Catskills. Ian Felice has long been the voice of the band as well as the source of a lot of the humour. Who could forget ‘Frankie’s Gun’? “Frankie you’re a friend of mine, Got me off a bender after long-legged Brenda died”. This time he’s solo. And very personal. The death of his stepfather. The fears of becoming a father himself. And more than a little sense of the disconcerting nature of modern life, including Trump’s America. With titles such as ‘In Memoriam’, ‘Mt. Despair’, and ‘In The Final Reckoning’, the tone is set. But it’s never miserable. There’s a lyrical playfulness. “Well the aliens landed on election day, And they stole your mother’s lingerie”. Plenty of stories. “I was squeezed in the back of a yellow cab, Between ruin and fate, Both armed to the teeth and more beneath”. And some arresting images. “I was walking down by the tracks where the communist bees relax, In their hives of golden wax when I thought I should run”. With Simone on drums and James on piano this almost counts as a reunion album. But not quite. It’s unmistakably Ian Felice’s album. In all its wonderful, mournful glory.