By Ed Dyer
Sad Song Co. – Worth
When Oxford musician Nigel Powell isn’t playing drums for Frank Turner or being a part of Dive Dive or The Unbelievable Truth, he has his own thing going on with The Sad Song Co., a downbeat, low key solo project. His new album, Worth, is written from a very personal perspective, journeying through what value can be found in risk, friendship, relationships, and self. A hopeful and positive glimpse into the intimate, inner thoughts of the songwriter, it certainly isn’t a comfortable listen, with the diverse tempo and vocal shifts adding to the personal subject matter fully ensuring you can’t allow yourself any complacency when listening. This is an album to be appreciated quietly, allowing yourself to trail the ebbs and flows of the music, following it to wherever it takes you.
Grasslands – Flames, Doorways, Grass and Time
The man behind Grasslands, ecologist Tom Haynes, told me when he gave me this album that “I might find one track on it I liked” as he understands both my musical tastes and the divisiveness of his own music. Well Mr Haynes, you were wrong. Yes, this is a difficult record to understand and immerse yourself in, but there is as much to love about it as there is to puzzle over. Based around timeless folk sounds and melodies the songs build layers of loops, beats, synths, effect laden and bizarre soundscapes and wild sounds and disjointed vocals. I had feared this approach would come over clumsily and confusing, but it ends up mostly precise and measured and genuinely hypnotic and fascinating.
The Fairings – Adolescent Heart
I love it when something just comes from out of nowhere and knocks you sideways. The Fairings were a totally new thing to me, and I now wonder how I have managed in my life so far without them in it. Adolescent Heart is a breathtakingly beautiful collection of songs that tug at the heart strings and all that they are connected to. Drawing influence from some of the great songwriters across the folk spectrum and adding a modern seasoning these achingly wonderful songs are whimsical, vibrant and fragile all at once and oh so English. Certainly one of the most impressive things I have heard in a long while.
Mr G & Rich – Terminal Window
Another month and another ex-Winchell Riot appears with new music (the Rich to his brothers Mr G). This time, it is a more strident project, and one rooted in post rock and alternative pop. Impossible to pigeon-hole with any hope of accuracy this album haunts, rocks and flows in equal measure. The songs are eulogies to family, parenthood and loss, chronicling the brothers’ lives, thoughts and emotions. It is not a pretty or light record, but it is creative, deep, dark and personal and well worth a listen.
The Harlers – Heart of Gold
I just had to squeeze this in as it is simply superb. One of the hottest bands in Swindon right now, The Harlers, have just dropped a new single, and it is an absolute blinder. Rocking like The Black Keys would if they had found a substantial stash of premium grade steroids at the back of the rehearsal room, Heart of Gold is as ruthless a statement as you could hope for.