Tag Archives: trio

The Wandering Hearts, LP released August 2021

A new self-titled album from country-rock trio The Wandering Hearts; a celebration of their varied styles built around rich vocals and strong song-writing….

  1. Hammer Falls : As a prelude to the album this one is given a big build-up as a dusty introduction gathers in intensity before the bluesy voices gradually push into the foreground.
  2. Over Your Body : A jumpy pace gives a momentum to this unpredictable track before the combined voices fly fully in the chorus.
  3. Build A Fire : One of my favourites; full of energy with the harmonies setting light to the clear positivity in the refrain.
  4. I Feel It Too : With the dream combination of the three contrasting voices interacting a simple tune is raised to a higher plane.
  5. Gold : Addictive and driving anthem full of rhythm and tension before the big reveal of the catchy chorus.
  6. Dolores : On a par with the ethereal lightness and luminescence of 2018 track ‘Burnng Bridges’, as gentle acoustic guitar and cello form a platform for gorgeous vocals.
  7. Dreams : Pensive and a bit melancholic this is a real grower.
  8. Never Too Late : A strong rhythm pulses through this amiable and rousing pop song.
  9. Tell Me When I Wake Up : Tender and calming, full of longing and texture with a minimal instrumental backing.
  10. On Our Way : The opener to their previously released EP, this is a barnstorming spiritual, reflective and optimistic with a huge chorus.
  11. Stardust : A gradual come-down from the heights of the previous track, with imagery and positive sentiments ‘…we are diamonds in the air…we light it up…’
  12. Lullaby : Showcasing the trio’s vocals for a final time and with only an acoustic guitar to counterpoint the melody, it is a gentle bookend to this fine album.

https://www.thewanderinghearts.com/

https://cambridgemusicreviews.net/2019/03/03/ward-thomas-junction-cambridge-1-march-2019/

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R.J. Archer & The Painful Memories : ‘Who Am I Supposed To Love Now?’, single released 14 June 2021

From the angst of the band name to the opening tension of the lyric, ‘…tell me I been walking a thin line…and I’ll be towing it as soon as you say…’, R.J. Archer & The Painful Memories are back with a blistering burst of troubled blues rock. Last heard from on their self-titled EP from 2019 (reviewed below) featuring the edgy majesty of lead track ‘It’s Snowing In Hell’, this new release is a forerunner to their delayed debut long-player ‘Hot Mess’.

A punchy, up tempo cut from this Cambridge trio, ‘Who Am I Supposed To Love Now?’ is firmly rooted in the groove of the sort of cool and credible blues-infused record that would appear regularly and successfully in the pop charts of the late 1960s and 70s. It is a summary of lovelorn discontent set to sparse instrumentation, emotionally raw vocals and featuring twisty guitar links, a roving bassline and drums always on the verge of being fully unleashed. And, of course, all in less than three minutes…

R.J. Archer & the Painful Memories | Facebook

R.J. Archer & The Painful Memories, EP released July 2019 | cambridgemusicreviews

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Gold Baby : Rabbits, EP released 26 March 2021

A new EP of indie light and shade from talented London trio Gold Baby, following on from a creative string of singles over the last couple of years.

1.Bodie Serene, shimmering guitar drives this track as the vocal from songwriter Siân cajoles and soars. The overall feeling seems to be one of alienation and disappointment but it is all beautifully done.

2. 2041 The quiet, agitated introduction and verses make you want to decode what is going on in this track ‘…there’s a man screaming in the hallway…and I can’t hear myself think…’ but when it gives way to a very noisy chorus you are carried along anyway.

3. Betty Previously released as a single this is a strange mixture of fantasy imagery with a sinister undertone ‘….let me tell you what happened…somebody ate my mother’s lipstick…somebody tried to read my palm….somebody called me….Cinderella so I hit the fire alarm….’. Musically the song structure pulls you in with its dramatic flourishes and winning melody lines.

4. Captain Dorego My favourite track on the collection, lyrical dreams to escape into ‘….carp fishing maybe bass…out of the stream ourselves at last…as idyllic as it seems….’ sit alongside darker thoughts ‘….can I sing in the small church choir…..fill it up with gasoline….light a match and wait for you to scream…’. It is a delicate treat, the words floats above gentle guitar with bass and drums that handle the poly-rhythmic backing perfectly. The song has its own dance too (see video link below)….

Gold Baby – Captain Dorego – YouTube

HOME | Gold Baby

Apteekii : What’s Real?, single released January 2021

The debut single from Cambridge band Apteekii starts with a gentle but moody piano punctuated by restless electronic pulses. The lyric soon sets the tone of the message of this track with the bleak ‘….just another Saturday…as you scream into the void…..alI I hear is birds that tweet….’. It is portraying a swirling mix of the pernicious influences of fake news, distorted messages and the exploitation of negative social media. This is chillingly shown by the infamous comments that scroll behind the song words within the video.

It is not all downbeat – despite the despairing ‘….the more I read, the less I see, the less I understand…’ of the chorus the music sounds more optimistic. It is lifted by layers of synthesiser with a rich cello sound and there are glimmers of hope; ‘…so be my guide…to know what’s right…before it’s washed away…’ could be a fragment from a tender love song.

This is a complex, immaculately produced and thoughtful debut from this talented trio.

Apteekii | Facebook

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Gold Baby : Versailles, single released 30 October 2020

‘Versailles’ is the latest in a string of quality singles from London trio Gold Baby, each one a self-contained epic of careful musical crafting and inventive lyrics. Highlights have included ‘500/1’, a wistful time-spanning reflection where the delicate backing builds into a dense unforgiving repeated conclusion ‘…..bad dream, bad dream, this is just a bad dream…’. ‘Philadelphia’ has a restrained road movie pace, full of atmospheric words and including a catchy chorus featuring a name check for Jesús Vidaña (found adrift in 2006 having survived lost at sea for nine months).

‘Dogbone’ is an angry but honest dismissal at the end of a relationship acknowledging that ‘…..not the draw or the cut or the bruise in my gut….you’re no-one….’ over a constantly varying and dysfunctional guitar riff. As on all of these songs singer/songwriter Siân Alex twists the words and emotions inside out, pulling the listener into a vortex of imagery and juxtaposition, used to great effect in most recent track ‘Japanese Racehorse’. Here the music and words embrace each other in subtle low key verses and a stately anthemic chorus. If read as a poem it works very well, the music raises it to another level.

Now new track ‘Versailles’ is a pensive and mellow piece, with a part-acoustic backing competing to be quieter than the voice. The lyric of disconnection and regret is painfully drawn ‘……there’s barbed wire between us whenever we speak….we used to talk the stars out of the sky….and now I’m nervous about a few hours passing by….’ to contrast yet complement the sheer beauty of the music where the dreamy guitars drift in and out, surprisingly bursting into an almost solo near the end. I enjoy the lyrical games of ‘…..what are we but strangers now forcing conversation? what are we but strangers now forcing conservation of our little Versailles?….’ and overall the song lures, beguiles and completely wins you over.

Hopefully a full EP will be released in early 2021…

https://www.goldbaby.co.uk/

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Order Of The Toad : Re-order Of The Toad, LP released 2nd Oct 2020

A track by track review of ‘Re-Order Of The Toad’,  the new album from Glasgow esoteric indie-psych trio Order Of The Toad.

1. Ladys Mantle  Previously released, read about it in detail here

2. Just Because  Mellow pop built around rhythm guitar, a driving middle-eight and the spooky chorus that stays in your head.

3. Rabbets  The tale of Mary Toft, who claimed to be giving birth to rabbits in 1726. The bizarre story, baritone vocal and counterpoint musical complexities make this a great listen.

4. Brintons Marrakech  Possibly a song about a carpet or a Moroccan city or who knows? I like the way the vocals are linked and underpinned by the unrelenting bass and guitar figure.

5. Fabulator  The band draw on that 60s hinterland between prog rock, folk and psychedelia on this album to great effect and this is another track that splices pop into that heady brew too.

6. Slow Ballad 44  Moody and sombre, with unexpected chord changes to keep the listener guessing. Maybe this would be an unpredictable live set opener, pulling the audience into the world of this unique band..

7. Do It With Feeling  Loose, laidback retro type hit with spiky instrumental passages. Sounding simultaneously timeless and modern, it could be nicely covered by fellow psychsters King Gizzard…

8. Lindow Woman  Another historical theme and detailed lyric, this time the narrator inhabits the remains of a body from Roman times found in a peat bog in 1983. Listen, learn and enjoy…

9. Toads Theme  A strange epic duel of character-filled vocals and abrupt, urgent instrumentation. An incomprehensible delight.

10. Mend It  A hippy reverie with a comfortable psychedelic melody and structure, in the middle it breaks up nicely into distorted guitar solos.

11. A Pittance  Like a medieval tale of legendary battle, the marching drums and bass play along under a fine storytelling vocal from Gemma Fleet.

12. Cruise Control  This final track combines many other elements from the album to make a fresh, sparkling punch of pop.

https://www.facebook.com/orderofthetoad

https://recklessyes.com/

http://www.gringorecords.com/

Salt House, Storey’s Field Centre, Cambridge, 15 March 2020

Storey’s Field Centre in the new settlement of Eddington near Cambridge welcomed folk trio Salt House.
The clarity of the acoustics and the lofty church-like structure were an ideal setting for their haunting, celebratory music – conjuring images of stark but beautiful landscapes from the Scottish islands where they record.

Opening song ‘Turn Ye to Me’, “a tale of a baby stolen by a sea monster and replaced by a changeling whilst her mother gathered seaweed” is a new interpretation of an existing poem; immediately the music and voices on this and the following ‘Lay Your Dark Low’ set the tone for the evening. With acoustic guitars, a Gretsch hollow-body electric twelve-string, violin, viola and an indian harmonium the instruments were as lovely to look at as to listen to.

Imagine seeing hump-backed whales and orca off the coast then the northern lights in the sky, top it off by writing the gorgeous ‘Old Shoes’, with its fast guitar picking, relaxed harmonies and a lustrous violin solo and you have a perfect song to go with the ideal day.

Over the course of two sets they played many songs from their 2018 album ‘Undersong’ as well as all the tracks from their new long-player ‘Huam’ (the call of an owl), released at the end of the week. Each song was introduced and explained, drawing the audience into the rewarding layers of this rich musical genre.

The band feature the history and folklore of traditional Scandinavian and Scottish themes such as ‘The Sisters’ Revenge’; an epic seven minutes built around the recurring words ‘…the summer comes the summer goes…the grave of my father green grass grows…’. The words and music built the tension as the title characters prepared for the gory final act ‘…they hacked him into pieces small…’.

There were more contemporary reflections too; ‘All Shall be Still’ ties in the tedium of work routines with thoughts of escape and the timelessness of the natural world, also evoked in ‘Mountain Of Gold’ and ‘Staring at Stars’. Musically there was plenty to gently immerse yourself in but there was also darker, sombre moods such as the hypnotic dream of ‘The Road Not Taken’ with pulsing rhythmic guitar and soaring violin.

It was a warm, flawless and brilliant show.

http://www.salthousemusic.com
https://www.hudsonrecords.co.uk/
https://www.storeysfieldcentre.org.uk/


Gaffa Tape Sandy : Family Mammal, EP released August 2019

A super-long EP or mini-album from East Anglia’s finest power-rock trio Gaffa Tape Sandy. It is a follow-up to their acclaimed collection ‘Spring Killing’ from 2017 and builds on their reputation for brilliant live shows, which has been captured in the excellent ‘as-live’ production here.

After an insightful spoken introduction from young Isaac (‘…banging tunes!!…’), the opener ‘Beehive’ pushes all before it; unbearably catchy vocal lines, a descending chord sequence, an impassioned natural history lyric and guitar noise that could not be bettered. With the flexibility of two strong and contrasting singers the band can keep the momentum going with the excellent ‘Meat Head’, a timely reminder of attitudes to personal rights.
Both of these tracks have been previously released and are familiar live favourites but the newer ‘My Desperate House’ maintains the high standard. After the deceptive calm intro and the band raise the fireworks to full volume there is no doubt that this is another fine tune.

‘Headlights’ has a syncopated, choppy rhythm and with the dual vocals trading exchanges it refers to the mental health issues that cloud the lives of so many people. As on the rest of the album the production and mix on this track blend the basic trio of instruments into something really special.

Departing into the quick waltz time of ‘So Dry’ the band show their prowess when stretched into a song of contrasting light and dark sound levels, as also ‘Dinner Jacket’ which is a more sedate outing…..until the trio suddenly burst into full flight near the end!

‘Turnstile’ has an anthemic quality with explosive drumming and spiky bass playing, then the finale ‘Kill The Chord’ is a protest song about cuts to the arts and the closure of small venues. It is a reminder that the lifeblood of creativity is flowing through the veins of emerging bands, captured at their best in an intimate, packed performance space playing the sort of show at which Gaffa Tape Sandy excel…

https://www.gaffatapesandy.co.uk/

Pink Lemonade : Sugar N Spice, single released January 2019

A belting new single from Cambridge trio Pink Lemonade. On their previous outing the stratospheric ‘Space Girl’, they were out in the cosmos for two and a half minutes of power pop ‘….surfing the waves of the Milky Way…not your usual Friday, hey!…’, a burst of energy featuring a na na na na chorus, fuzzy guitar and as much outer space terminology as they could cram into the grooves. Follow that!

They have – although back to Earth lyrically the energy level has been maintained and probably increased. An insistent guitar line drives the song from the start, introducing a lyric of fitting in and alienation, a story being told over driving drums liberally adorned with cymbals, busy bass and a punchy lead vocal. The rest of the band join in on the vocals for a killer chorus which will lodge permanently in your brain.

The song structure is suddenly disrupted with a surreal spoken and shouted call and response middle eight before we return again to the security of ‘…sugar and spice and all things nice….’. The trio seem to have a gift for writing excellent choruses and as the track goes into overdrive it finally ends with the line ‘…love, love, love makes the world go round…’. Indeed it does, listen and enjoy!

https://www.facebook.com/PinkLemonadeMusicUK/

Carolyn’s Fingers : Her Howl, single released January 2018

Refreshingly new and making an impact on the Cambridge scene, Carolyn’s Fingers (named after a song by the Cocteau Twins) are bringing their original music to life in live performance and now on this sparkling first single release.

‘Her Howl’ is a hypnotic, ethereal journey of the mind, painting an intense, personal picture through words and music of the nature of depression and dark thoughts. The four minutes include so many sections falling into each other; it is as if there are several songs overlapping and one of the great strengths of the piece – there is no room for complacency or background listening here. The audience is drawn in to become part of the band’s private meditation.

Sparse keyboard and subtly programmed percussive glitches weave their way between echoing electric guitar and minimalist bass foundations as the multi-voice layers finally resolve into an a cappella style chorus which disturbingly drifts away taking you with it.

Play their other intricate tracks on SoundCloud, watch their YouTube channel and better still, catch them in live action at the Portland Arms in Cambridge on 18th April…

https://carolynsfingers.bandcamp.com/track/her-howl
https://www.facebook.com/carolynsfingersband/