Art Rockin' Magazine

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Simon Felton – Topsy Turvy (2017) review

Owner and manager of the terrific British pop music indy label Pink Hedgehog Records, multi-talented musician Simon Felton releases his 5th solo ‘Topsy Turvy’. As well as doing wonderful solos, Simon is also founder/frontman singer and bass player for Garfield’s Birthday. On this 2017 recording, which is a completion to his ‘therapeutic/confessional collection’, he writes and executes his finest material ever. The first track ‘The Ghost of Christmas Past’, grabs your heart and ears instantly. A mellow semi haunting pop gem, which is followed by ‘Lost and Found’ (trk 2), that reminds me of Peter Lacey’s (another Pink Hedgehog label diamond) jolly sunshine pop, fully adorned with contrast between Beach Boys/Stackridge and a bit of humor. ‘Out of Time’ (trk 3) takes a turn to a heavyheartedness that could be compared to a Korgis hit. Just beautiful.

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Simon Phillips – Protocol 4 (2017) review

With the fourth Protocol release, Simon takes a world tour on nine compositions totaling just under an hour. He wrote and produced all of the pieces, many sounding like they could be a lost Allan Holdsworth release. Bringing us a four piece power house, band members are Ernest Tibbs (bass), Greg Howe (guitars), Dennis Hamm (keys), and of course the ever so talented Simon Phillips (drums/percussion).

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Al Swainger’s Pointless Beauty – After & Before (2017) review

A prime all instrumental (with exception of mnemonic syllable of tabla) release from multi talented Al Swainger (all compositions, photography, artwork, sleeve design, bass, keyboards, voice, drum programming and production). If his name looks familiar, he has been a long time free lance jazz musician going from commercial, now to a much more expanded and sometimes experimental fusion of sorts. He has also been on previous recordings including Snow Giants ‘Un’ (05Ric, & Mike Outram) and Grice ‘Alexandrine’  to list a couple.  He also has former Pointless Beauty releases you may very well want to check out.

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Wingfield Reuter Sirkis – Lighthouse (2017) review

A powerhouse performance, that as difficult as it may be to believe, the music was composed and performed on the spot with only a slight bit of discussion, some basic ideas of chords, perhaps a visual drawing, and/or suggestion of atmospheres. The chemistry and interpretations are incredible. While not totally what one would call free improv, this is one of the finest examples of masterful circa-improvisation your ears will ever witness.

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Oddfellow’s Casino – Oh Sealand (2017) review

A truly brilliant British artist and his varied backing band members present us with the 2017 release ‘Oh Sealand’. Horribly overlooked in much of the pop world, David Bramwell who goes under the alias David Oddfellow, is a highly gifted musician, singer, songwriter, who heads the band called Oddfellow’s Casino. This name was taken from a Victorian freak show, founded by a man named Ambrose Oddfellow,  that once toured the British Isles. 

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Lifesigns – Cardington (2017) review

A much awaited third release (2 studio, 1 live DVD) by the terrific band Lifesigns. From the ultra melodic and solid as a rock idyllic mix of soft, arena, progressive pop and rock, this group has captured thousands of music fans so much so, that in less than 48 hours, they obtained their financial goal on Pledge Music to make this new recording independently. With that, John Young, the founder and lead vocalist/keyboardist wrote all the songs with occasional help from the drummer/percussionist and backing vocalist Frosty Beedle, and on one song Steve Rispin, who did the engineering, mixing, and sound designing. There is an interesting story about the title ‘Cardington’ on the band webpage (link is given at top of this review) you may want to read. The physical CD comes with a nice booklet and the packaging is a glossy cover fold out digi pack for the lovers of this format such as myself.

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7C – Compartment C (2017) review 0

7C – Compartment C (2017) review

This, the third full length release by Italian avant garde trio, is something to behold. Any fan of bands such as This Heat, Massacre (The Fred Frith band), Cassiber, and similar bands, along with the more aggressive King Crimson, David Torn, and Rec Records output (specifically the electric guitar fronted groups) , would surely find interest in ‘Compartment C’.

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ONEMENT9 – The Third Kind (2017) review

Jason Weekes produces his debut solo with ‘The Third Kind’ under the name Onement9. With a long list of musical influences and education, Jason plays keyboards, drums, bass, electronic tambura, trumpets, tambourine, electric guitar, flute, computer voice, custom maracas, and field recordings. This concept album starts off (‘Good Mornin’ Britain!’) with a very tropical theme, loads of various bird calls, and celestial keyboards with drumkit. It has a meditation feel. The following track (‘Tory Breakfast News’) is very different with tribal drums, roosters, and general chaos. A story line is printed on back of the CD which I’d highly suggest the listener read before, so you can pay attention to the music at hand. You’ll be quick to realize much of this is a politically charged set of compositions.

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Monarch Trail – Sand (2017) review

Following nicely after the debut ‘Skye’ (2014) this is Monarch Trail’s second release. Being Ken Baird’s project, he does all the words and music. Throughout, the use of lush and nimble keys, some nice acoustic and lead guitar, tight drums, and exceptional vocals, make this a huge recommendation for Camel and other similar music fans. Although Ken performs on keyboards, vocals, and guitar (track 5), he has three guests on guitar (John Mamone, Kelly Kereliuk, and Steve Cochrane) plus his bandmates Dino Verginella on bass and Chris Lamont on drums.

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Smells Like – Aranis (2017)

When a band I have put on a throne for their immaculate series of recordings of various original chamber music styles, including avant and cover songs from other Belgian composers, announces they are doing an entire album of cover tunes by Nirvana (the Seattle grunge band of the 90’s), I got a fear in my soul. This brilliant band who could do no wrong really startled me. I will admit right here that I am not at all a fan of Nirvana, with the exception of being okay with the hit song ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’, since I was young when that hit the stations and it attracted me due to the contrasting mellow parts and then heavy chorus. So with very mixed feelings I began listening to Aranis’s new 2017 release titled ‘Smells Like’.

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