Elbow – Seldom seen kid

While Madonna, David Bowie and Kylie Minogue embrace emerging or popular sounds, with varying degrees of success and cynicism, others only slightly alter what they do over time. Others like Neil Young, 50 Cent or Elbow. A fourth album from Guy Garvey and chums ushers in an occasionally more cheerful and experimental era for the Bury band, but for the most part it's brilliant business as usual.

The Seldom Seen Kid begins with Starlings, a tender effort that, aside from its insane horn blasts and Sigur Ros waves of feedback, comes on like a very now version of Fleetwood Mac's Albatross.

Next up we’re in familiar territory. Chanting, flamenco flourishes, a lyric that aches with lines of cryptic longing like, ''I'm five years ago and 3,000 miles away'', inventive percussion and a haunting yet uplifting Garvey vocal. The Bones Of You is so damn Elbow it should have half an arm coming out of both ends. It is followed by Mirrorball, a beautiful acoustic guitar and piano-led drift into dreams with an epic widescreen synth and strings chorus. It may not be a huge leap of originality for these men, but there is no one else who does it this well.

Elsewhere, Grounds For Divorce, the album's big single, is immense. It snarls, bites, chants and thrashes like Alabama 3 wrestling alligators in a Louisiana Bayou. Pedal steel guitars, handclaps (the hallmark of so many genius singles)… You can imagine Guy watching The Wild Bunch and wearing a Stetson as he laid down the vocal in the studio.

From here only the ponderous An Audience With the Pope dips below the high standard set. Special mention must go to The Loneliness Of A Tower Crane Driver, which is so huge it sounds like a weight-lifting welder building a giant ship from concrete blocks and The Fix, which features a duet with Sheffield troubadour Richard Hawley. It evokes a doomed funfair ride and is probably the best tune about gambling since The Card Cheat by The Clash.Those who find Elbow drab will still probably be unmoved by this Talk Talk-inspired band's latest. But for everyone else who likes to be moved, relaxed, and cheered by superior, soulful Mancunian lullabies, The Seldom Seen Kid is essential.


These two 45rpm discs cut that way for better sound quality are more natural sounding than a lot of today's discs but do sound a little compressed. The vinyl is quite heavyweight and housed in a gatefold sleeve with details and lyrics printed on the inside. Inner sleeves are standard die cut white. The sleevenotes also reference the website turnmeup.org an organisation dedicated to the return to a more natural mastering process.


Wisely – Wisely

The new, and third,  Wisely record is his first available on vinyl and is a treasure trove of wonderfully recorded laid back pop or blue eyed soul. It arrived here in perfect time for the summer and would be suitable for a long hazy summer evening on a recliner with a beer in hand. The only problem is that you'd have to get up after twenty minutes to flip sides. And again after another twenty minutes to start playing it again.

  'On my way' starts off with a heartfelt lyric sung over a most appealing wurlitzer. Its a slower track. 'Cracked world view' is another slower paeon to breaking up and features the mellotron. The whole record displays this attachment to warm and inviting vintage sounds.

 Things really kick off on third track, 'Tokyo Arbor'. Its got a completely addictive vibe, this one, mining the same seventies territory so beloved of current artists such as Josh Rouse. ' 'Only losing me' is less poppy and more bluesy and is sung in that honest, expressive way.

Side one almost ends with the glorious upbeat and, well, bouncy pop you might expect of a song called 'California'.  Covering the same kind of territory as 'Tokyo Arbor' its the second highlight on this album. But before we get to the label we have the Nick Drake -esque simple folk and guitar plucking of 'Through any window'. Enjoyable and very well recorded.

 'Ella' is really lovely, a song about the joys of love, not the breakup. It continues with that mellow upbeat vibe and has some gorgeous percussion, pedal and steel guitar. Third song on the album that is so infectious. You'll be tapping your foot, nodding your head and clapping your hands! You might even be singing along!!

 'Nothing but wind' is something more experimental, a spoken word monologue about the speaker's wishes, desires from life. Its slightly haunting and nicely complimented by piano and glockenspiel.

'Vanilla' is about a girl called, err 'Vanilla'. Unless he's just broken up with an ice cream. Its slightly soppy. Possibly melting in the sunshine.  Actually, I've just realised that's part of the lyric! Shockingly he mentioned the dreaded 'CD'. I still can't keep my foot still.

 The next song, is to these ears, the worst on the album. Its a soft rock track and Wisely insists on repeating to us the fact that he's going to make love tonight and how beautiful its going to be. I find this rather irritating. There are redeeming features in the music but I'm finding it really hard to get  past the simple lyric. He also says 'Yowl!'. Its called 'Its gonna be beautiful'.

 Lightly strummed on a guitar with beach boys harmonies is 'Unfamiliar'. More lush instrumentation does kick in later in the track. 

Perfectly titled 'I'll be singing' ends the album in a joyful and jazzy fashion, even including treated vocals. You might just join in. 

 Its a real feelgood album. The playing is excellent throughout and while Wisely is no opera singer, his light tenor voice is most appealing and perfectly suits that lazy summer mood. While the record could drop a couple of tracks(I'll let you guess one) the rest deserve to be all over daytime radio, not to mention your car stereo. Not to mention your turntable!! šŸ˜‰  The excellent overall sound of the album elevates it above most of today's music and deserves a high recommendation.

 Its a 180g rti pressed album. Attractive outer sleeve with good protective inner sleeve but no pictures. Lyrics and details are printed on the back.




Aerosmith – Draw the Line

Draw the Line is Aerosmiths 5th studio album and was released in June 1977, just one year after their ‘prime record’, Rocks. Considering it to be the follow up the their best rated album, you would have thought it to be again highly rated? Wrong! This album was absolutely slated by the critics, and even to this day is very underrated by fans. The album is built up of simple, yet effective hooks that are really in your face throughout the entrireĀ record.

The trobules occuring back stage most definately contributed to the uniqueness of the album from their previous works. Nothing came similar before it and nothing has come similar since. One of the most noticeable areas where something appeas to be going wrong are in the credits. Where we would normally see most, or all of the songs written by the Tyler/Perry combo,Ā we now only see a mere three. This was an indication of the growing tension between the two band members.

The album was recorded inĀ a disused monastrey in New York state. which has given the recording a very rough sound. The sound of which can be compared to 60’s Rolling Stones records. Although not confirmed it could have been a deliberate attempt to recreate that sound, that the band were inspired by in the earlier days. Either way the sound surely suits the tracks.

The opening track, Draw the line is perhaps the most memorable riff on the album and is a great example of the rough edge to the music. It employs an almost embarrasingly simple guitar riff at a perfect tempo. Brillaint track! Although it’s not Tylers best vocal attempts, without his earthy scream it wouldn’t have the same effect.

The following track, I wanna know why, doesn’t have quite the same appeal as he previous, and Tylers vocals leave a lot to be desired. The track would probalby be much more suited to an instrumental, giveing a chance to hear the guitar and Tylers piano backing.

Critical Mass goes back to the blues/rock combination of their earlier days. Again though, Tyler does let down a little on the vocals, and the guitar is very quiet. As said in other reviews, the guitar seems almost deliberately dampened, which is a shame.

The next track, Get it up is somewhat average but still has a easily memorable melody, and Tylers voacls are slightly clearer but still not up to his standards.

Bright light fright is a refeshing change, with Perry as lead vocals. The track again is a bluesy style, with a wall of sound when played.

The B side starts with a very experimental track, KingsĀ and Queens. It could be experimental rock on its own and has quite an interesting riff and vocals. It is probably the Gem of the record along with Draw the Line. The guitar is very clear on the track and Tylers vocals are much clearer although dampened. The lyrics themselves are also much more creative than the others found on the album and are ib a way, more complex and interesting.

The Hand that Feeds is the follow up and in my opinion is the most underrated track on Draw the line. The tracks main guitar is even simpler than Draw the line if that was ever possible, but the vocals are much more improved and there is a sense of power in there. You feel as though the band are making more of an effort and they really ‘mean it’. Tyler really uses his trademark scream to its full potential to match up to the simple and proud guitar track.

Sight for sore eyes is my personal favourite on the album and performs great live. It has all the catchy elements of the previous tracks but there is again a feeling that the band are performing and mean it. Without Sight for sore eyes the album has the potential to be dull, and for all the negative comments it already receives it would be disasterous. Playing the record through from start to finish, this is the one you always seem to remember, most probably due to the hypnotic chorus, melody at the end.

To conclude the record is the Milk Cow Blues, a cover of a blues track that is well executed from the original. Again, very catchy and the guitar is brilliant from start to end. The album probably wouldn’t miss this song but it is a great addition never the less.

Although I admit it is perhaps not their best work it is very underrated and deserves much more credit. Without it who knows where the band would be now?

I reccomend this to any rock lover and I advise you hear it on an analogue recording, whether it be record or cassette just to give it an extra raw sound.