Tag Archives: album launch

Gavin Chappell-Bates : Album Launch, Blue Moon, Cambridge, 24 March 2018

Opening the show at the constantly improving Blue Moon venue room was local singer/songwriter/guitarist Claudia McKenzie, otherwise known as I,Claudia, with a set of uplifting and varied tracks, based on her own experiences and anecdotes. Best of these was the blues of ‘Rain Down Hell’ though she can soon lighten the mood with the start-stop pace of ‘Staying In Tonight’.

Last seen playing outside at a freezing cold Mill Road Winter Fair, Louise Eatock, better known as Flaming June played a short selection of her extensive back catalogue of powerful folk tunes, tonight joined on stage by violin and cajon to add extra pulsing rhythm and soaring melody to her timeless lyrics. ‘Little Love In A Cruel World’ and ‘Wednesdays & Weekends’ sounded as good as ever, with final track ‘The Deviling Kind’ neatly weaving a sinister lyric around an irresistible instrumental backing.

Gavin Chappell-Bates has spent many months crafting the rare treat these days of a ‘concept album’, and tonight he played it in full. It is an ambitious theme; whereas Stevie Wonder’s ‘Songs In The Key Of Life’ attempted to describe the spectrum of all human existence, Gavin details the build up and consequences of the end of the world for an individual who literally becomes ‘The Last One’. It may sound a bit of a grim prospect but the music is generally uplifting and as he explains, the message to take away is that we should appreciate what we have and live in the moment.

The first optimistic songs are full of memories of growing up; the gradual building of musical layers in ‘The Philosopher’, the spirited romp of ‘Lovely Day’, ‘Young Lovers’ with its catchy hookline and a tribute to ‘Mother’. ‘Bad Faith/Good Faith’ sees an edgier tension across the lyric, but with another potent hook. The recorded versions of some of the tracks feature strings and keyboards, but they are not missed tonight; Gavin’s specially assembled band (The Singing Trees) have a life of their own with solid bass, 12-string electric and sparky drumming supporting his own guitars and harmonica.

‘Do What You Like’ is a topical and bitter summary of human disregard for the planet and as a consequence Armageddon arrives in my favourite track on the album ‘The Last One’……after all if the world is going to end it is good to set it to a 70s glam rock shouter, much enjoyed by the audience.
‘Cinematic Memories’ and ‘The Sanctuary Of Stars’ are moving and thoughtful big ballads, then guitar-led rocker ‘This Is It’ brings the album to a close; no triple gatefold concept excesses here, it is all very much to the point.

A quick cover of REM’s ‘It’s The End Of The World As We Know It’ was followed by final encore of Gavin’s older single ‘We Are The Ones’ and left us feeling fine.

Well played Gavin and the band. A triumph!

http://gavinchappellbates.com/
http://loui552.wixsite.com/flamingjuneuk
https://www.iclaudiamusic.com/

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Gavin Chappell-Bates : We Are The Ones, LP released 8 April 2016

A track-by-track review of ‘We Are The Ones’, the debut album by Cambridge singer/songwriter Gavin Chappell-Bates.

1. Church Of Rock ‘n’ Roll. This is a blasting punchy rocker. The meticulous care and attention to detail that Gavin puts into his music is evident from the start and we get an early reference to his favourite band (Manic Street Preachers, a band whose cult status and influence continues to grow).

2. All Ways. A sort of ‘you and me against the world’ feeling, over some ringing guitar and hefty bass and drums.

3. 95. See my earlier review of this standout anthem, making 1995 sound like a good place to be.
https://cambridgemusicreviews.net/2015/08/23/gavin-chappell-bates-95-single-released-july-2015/

4. Refugee. The musical centrepiece of the album, an abstract lyric over a gentle beginning then full-on guitar (check out the scenic views of Cambridge on the video for this one).

5. We Are The Ones. The title track is a companion piece to ’95’, less specific in its references but similar sentiment. And very catchy.

6. Writing In The Sand. An acoustic ballad with increasing layers of backing, as Gavin can show to good effect when using his looping techniques in live performances.

7. Black Holes. Improbably low bass riff underpins a tale of regret as life’s moments succumb to the gravitational inevitability of the title. Definitely one of my favourite tracks.

8. Dead End Disco Streets. A big sweeping song, the lyric populated with a cast of lost characters whose only escape is music. Good strings on this one.

9. Follow The Light. Simple optimistic sentiments, evolving into another catchy chorus.

10. The Finest Hour. A rarity amongst current music, a political protest song. Some sharp commentary about unfulfilled promises over a nice Celtic riff, and possibly the first time I have heard Neil Kinnock mentioned in a lyric.

11. Last Angel. This is a heartfelt and uncomfortable track about despair with a sung note of goodbye ‘…tonight will be my last night on Earth’ featuring a guest vocal from Kathryn James.

12. Starlight. As a contrast to the previous song this moves from the individual to the universal with astronomical contemplation linked to a touching tale of love. And another big chorus.

This is an impressive collection; I recently caught a warm-up show preparing for the album launch on 8 April at The Portland Arms in Cambridge and these songs work very well with a live band….

http://gavinchappellbates.com/

The Seven Twenty : album released November 2015

The Seven Twenty is the musical project of singer/songwriter/guitarist James Burling, in the making for many years and involving many guest musicians. It is an diverse collection of personal songs, with many styles to frame each tale of love, disappointment and comment on modern culture.

The opening song ‘Corridors’ is a cinematic waltzing ballad with roving bass line and swooping strings, featuring a catchy hook line and evocative guitar solo. In total contrast is the two chord noisy attack of ‘Haiku’, complete with obsessive lyric and garage-band production. Then ‘Wonderful’, an electric ballad overlayed with multiple choral voices brilliantly interweaved as if they are almost performing a different song. No criticism intended, the combined effect is hypnotic, rich and original.

After three strong opening tracks, there are plenty more to come, each adding something a bit different. This includes ‘FU,NY’, a low-key Dylanesque ballad with sparse guitar and more reference to New York which seems a recurring lyrical theme throughout the album (parts were recorded there, including some distant sound effects and there is a photo on the inner sleeve).

At the album launch James was accompanied on stage by bass player Stewart Harris and guest guitarist Neil Bruce from this album and the live sound was augmented by drumming from Helen Robertson, all adding an extra dimension to the recorded versions.

http://www.theseventwenty.com/