Tag Archives: Blues

Erja Lyytinen announces new album “Stolen Hearts”

Erja Lyytinen Stolen Hearts

Guitarist and singer-songwriter Erja Lyytinen releases her new studio album “Stolen Hearts” on 7th April 2017, and occompanies the release with a five-date UK tour.

In the meantime, she’s released a music video for “24 Angels”, taken from the album,

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Not So Seasick Steve

The Guardian reports how Seasick Steve’s back story of years spent as a travelling hobo playing blues on a three-string guitar turns out to have been a complete fabrication.

A commenter sums him up:

I always thought he was a ‘coffee table’ version of the blues for watchers of ‘Later’ and readers of music magazines anyway. The people who liked it were fairly unlikely to be existing fans of blues. You could see then it was all aimed at that market, and that’s without even knowing there was any doubt about his purported background.

The indie world to which Seasick Steve was marketed was always more concerned with image over substance, and perfers to listen to “blues” ot “rock” or “folk” in much watered-down forms.  No wonder they loved Seasick Steve.

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The Greying of Rock Fandom?

The Mentulls

Some thoughts struck me about the Cambridge Rock Festival back in August, which saw some discussion on Twitter.

There were one or two very young bands, such as The Mentulls, playing music in a very traditional classic rock style dating from before any of them were born. But the audience was overwhelmingly middle-aged, old enough to remember the heyday of blues-rock and prog from the first time around.

You see a lot of this in the progressive rock world. There are plenty of young bands like Haken, Maschine or Synaesthesia. Maybe it’s just an artefact of the festivals where I’ve seen them, but there don’t seem to be many of their own generation in the audiences. And the blues-rock scene is even worse. It’s as if anyone under the age of 35 who actually loves “old” music is already in a band.

As the existing audience continues to grey, who will replace them when they’re too old and infirm to get out to gigs?

Maybe I’m just being pessimistic here. Perhaps the bands would rather establish a niche than compete in a much more crowded market playing generic contemporary indie or pop. And maybe an audience of fiftysomethings whose kids have grown up and left home will actually age out more slowly than an audience of twentysomethings most of whom will drop out of music fandom when they get married and have kids?

What do you think?

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Jodie Marie – Trouble in Mind

Jodie Marie Trouble in MindAs any fan of the bands regularly covered on this site ought to know, there is a vast amount of excellent music that doesn’t have the benefit of major label publicity campaigns, and is the wrong genres to be covered by the fashionable media. Which means that many great records fly completely under the radar of everyone who doesn’t follow their particular scene.

Welsh singer-songwriter Jodie Marie is a typical example. I’ve already written about the bizarre way her début album appeared on the radar, but the album itself deserves a review, since it really is an excellent piece of work.

Trouble in Mind an immensely varied record, going from stripped-down intimate acoustic songs through guitar and organ led blues-rock to big band numbers featuring horn sections and gospel choirs. The sequencing is interesting, shifting between different moods across different parts of the album, beginning with several rootsy blues numbers, the middle of the album dominated by ballads, finishing with 70s-style rock numbers. It’s an unusual way of arranging an album, but the musical journey it takes you on actually works extremely well.

As a singer, Jodie Marie is a real talent, alternatively soulful and gutsy depending on the song. The album emphasises that; neither the horn arrangements nor Jimmy Brewer’s tastefully restrained lead guitar overwhelm the vocals.

With an LP-length running time of under forty minutes there’s no room for any filler, but there are plenty of highlights. There’s the funky lead single “Only One I’m Thinking Of”. The solo piano ballad “Reason to Believe” is a thing of beauty, and shows she is an accomplished pianist as well as a singer. Another standout is “For Your Love”, a slow-burning blues number featuring some excellent guitar from Daniel John Montagu Smith. The ballad “Everyone Makes Mistakes” and the rockier album closer “Later Than You Think”, both driven by Jodie’s electric piano, recall something of the feel of David Coverdale’s mid-70s album “Northwinds”, though of course the vocal style is quite different.

Trouble in Mind is precixely the sort of record which really deserves a far wider audience. It’s highly recommended for anyone who is more interested in great music by great musicians than contemporary fads and fashions.

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Kamchatka, Long Road Made Of Gold

Long Road Made Of GoldSweden has long been known as a centre of cutting-edge European metal, but it’s not quite as strongly associated with blues-based hard rock. But that’s what Swedish power trio Kamchatka do, and on the evidence of their sixth album, “Long Road Made of Gold”, they’ve very good at it.

Produced by Russ Russell, known for his work with extreme metal acts such as Napalm Death, it’s an album of tight punchy songs punctuated by short but effective blasts of shredding lead guitar. This isn’t an album that’s doing anything spectacularly original, but the combination of strong songwriting, meaty guitar riffs and a very powerful driving rhythm section still makes for a very enjoyable listen. Russell has done an impressive production job, resulting in a sound so huge it feels like the band are playing live in your living room.

The album kicks off with shredding banjo leading into the opening hard rocker “Take Me Back Home” which demonstrates a lot of their strengths, especially Thomas Juneor Andersson’s soulful vocals. Other highlights include “Get Your Game On” with Tobias Strandvik’s relentless force-of-nature drumming, the slow-burning “Rain” making good use of vocal harmonies, and “Who’s To blame” with its big riff and spectacular guitar break. But this is an album where there’s something to like about every song; there’s no filler at all,. They keep the arrangements tight too, avoiding self-indulgent wig-outs but still leaving enough space for Andersson’s lead guitar to make an impact.

Fashionable British blues-rock bands such as The Temperance Movement have toned down the guitars to make their music more mainstream-friendly for indie-dominated Britain. Kamchatka in contrast, while still rooted in the blues-rock of the 60s and 70s, are far more appealing for those who’s first love is old-school rock and metal. As a modern take on a very traditional form, this album is highly recommended.

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