In the movies we had Vincent Price, Charlton Heston, Will Smith….and now Gavin Chappell-Bates will empathise with being the last person alive on Earth on his much-anticipated second album ‘The Last One’, due out later this year. As a precursor to that we have ‘Lovely Day’, an acoustic guitar-driven romp that is presumably an early track on the album, full of exuberance lyrically and musically, before the ‘end of the world’ scenario kicks in.
A folk-rocky vibe from the backing band glides along nicely underneath while a multi-voiced and blissfully unaware Gavin projects endless optimism about what is to come, with a nice mellow middle eight too. Recorded with an as-live production, the mix is spot-on.
I always enjoy his videos; this one is filmed at Cambridge tree-filled beauty spot Wandlebury and features some of Gavin’s musical comrades portraying woodland animals. It is all satisfyingly bonkers and reminiscent of those late 1960s promo films for the psychedelic leanings of Pink Floyd’s ‘Arnold Layne’ and mid-period Beatles, with lots of speeded-up movement and quick jump-cuts, what’s not to like?
(admire the beautiful original artwork on the sleeve too, drawn by Ali Chappell-Bates…)
As once-famous retail names disappear from the High Street they are rarely celebrated in popular song, although we do have ‘…Saturday’s girls work in Tescos and Woolworths..’ by The Jam, ‘Man At C&A’ by The Specials, ‘Freeman Hardy & Willis Acid’ by SquarePusher and Van Morrison sang ‘…the orange boxes are scattered against the Safeway Supermarket in the rain…’ as he gazed out on ‘St Dominics’s Preview’.
On a release from their forthcoming album ‘English Tapas’, The Sleaford Mods commemorate the demise of department store stalwart British Home Stores last year with a combination of low-fi electrobeat and a lyric of personal paranoia. Starting near the bins in an alleyway (sounds a bit like the back area near the Cambridge BHS?) our hero is weighed down with problems ‘…we’re going down like BHS, while the abled bodied vultures monitor and pick at us…’. Peppered with subtle references as to the causes ‘…Laying on a boat mate look at you (Look at you!)…’ we even get a namecheck for TV sitcom royalty ‘…we are the Baldricks son, and Blackadders….’
A fitting tribute to the end of an era, check out the video too…
Gavin Chappell-Bates returns to his musical roots for this rocking new single, the opening track from the 2016 album ‘We Are The Ones’,
The video version begins with birdsong in a quintessential English churchyard, then the shock…a gravestone cross commemorating the demise of Gavin? But don’t worry, he is firing on all cylinders as the guitars crash in for an all-out celebration of his musical influences and the simply stated logic of the importance of ‘rock and roll’.
Like many tracks on the album the hookline is strong and the relentless pace of the song still allows time for a guitar solo and bass break. The Manic Street Preachers get a reference ‘All I learnt was from my own Holy Bible…’, made explicit in the video as the priest flicks through some influential CDs, also including Suede, Led Zep and the Beatles. Definitely not a conventional priest, rolling pages of the prayer book for a use probably not sanctioned by the Church as well as ending up with a non-traditional twist on clerical garb….it is all great fun and in these enlightened times not likely to cause the controversy of Madonna and her ‘Like A Prayer’ video??
But back to the music, it is a compact, gutsy track and it sounds great live!
Disco 2000, 1999, 1975 (band and song), 1984, In The Year 2525……it has always been a neat (and fortunately not overused) pop device to reference a year in your title for nostalgia, speculation or celebration.
Bryan Adams enjoyed his ‘Summer of ’69’ and now singer-songwriter Gavin Chappell-Bates has wistful feelings for the summer glories of 1995. He has constructed a clever song here, an acoustic guitar introduction pulls us in and then before we know it it is all full-on band and rousing catchy chorus ‘I want to be back in 95 with you…’
The lyric is a music quiz of references, ‘Design For Life, ‘Look Back In Anger’, ‘Girl from Mars’, even Thom Yorke gets a look-in, all good Brit-pop anthems to have grown up with.
Gavin Chappell-Bates performs live with acoustic guitar, loops and effects but this strong song really benefits from the fizzing production and celebratory full band sound.
What’s in a name?
Cambridge-based ‘Bouquet Of Dead Crows’ sound like an object found on an ancient quest or the worst order that Interflora have ever had to deliver. But the ambiguity of their name actually suits the music very well. They are a four piece Rock/Pop band and have just finished recording their debut album ‘Of The Night’, due for release later this year. On this new double A-sided single they show their hardest rock sound, but tempered with smooth melodic vocal from Antoinette Cooper sailing majestically above.
Opening track ‘Don’t Panic!’ starts with a thunderous guitar riff from Neil Bruce that hardly lets up and I am always pleased to hear dynamic drumming, energetic stuff from Andrew Coxall, especially in the anarchic instrumental break towards the end. The second track ‘Just A Little More’ seems to cram a lot into the three minutes, opening with a guitar figure partly reminiscent of classic prog-rock ‘Heart Of The Sunrise’ by Yes (high-praise indeed!) and dominated by Antoinette’s powerful vocals and a strong hook line. A short bass interlude(Graeme Clarke) is some quieter relief then the track rocks to a heavy finish.
I caught some of their tight live set recently (at Corner House Cambridge) and also some acoustic songs on a radio session. More evidence of their versatility and variety as musicians, I look forward to hearing the album…