Tag Archives: folk

ALBUM REVIEW: Dusk For Dawn (Cazadero)

15 Sep

Cazadero are named after a town in California, and describe themselves on their Bandcamp page as ‘dabbling in Western pop.’ It’s as good a description as any, and the California feel is definitely something that runs through the album – not in the way that brings to mind convertibles and episodes of The OC, but more in the way of gold streaked sunsets and warm summer nights.

‘Dusk For Dawn’ opens with ‘Ones I’ve Never Liked’, which is sadly the weakest song on the album. It feels disjointed and stops and starts, never quite flowing and serves only to be mildly alienating and inoffensive. There’s no real hook and the jangly guitar chords which work so well through other songs seem to be missing some sort of spark. It’s an amateur campfire song – campfire without the atmosphere needed to pull it together and give it some sort of definition.

It’s a pity, because the follow-up is ‘Roads’ – ironically the best track on the record. The lyrics are from ‘Roads Go Over On’, a JRR Tolkien poem, and the inspiration is audible even without that knowledge. ‘Roads’ is a song which needs you to lay back and listen; it’s full of promises and dusty highways and old men drinking whiskey in saloon bars. The jangly guitar works well here, creating a lovely hazy feel and the most important part aside from the atmosphere is the fact that it’s so uncomplicated. Cazadero avoid the trap that most new bands fall into of adding needless instrumentation and effects and simply let ‘Roads’ speak for itself. And it speaks of hazy, atmospheric nights and lone wandering by day.

‘Still Life’ is the next track, and one that lives up to its name yet again. It’s more relaxed and the vocals have a Tom Waits growl to them, with the female backing vocals providing a lovely contrast. Cazadero keep the lack of complication and fit the parts together neatly – it’s simple but that’s not to say it’s easy. Simple can be difficult to do, and ‘Still Life’ pulls it off with ease. ‘I will turn you inside out’ promise the lyrics, and manage to make it the kind of promise you want to be fulfilled.

While the vocals on ‘First Time’ dip a little too low at times, it serves as a testament to how well the songs manage to differ from each other, without ever becoming generic or losing the sense of cohesion in the album. There’s a lovely atmospheric feel running through the album and it creates an imagery that a lot of records don’t; a few moments listening and you’re lost in an indulgent Tolkien tinged world.

‘We’re Alright’ is the album closer, and the first fifty seconds or so feel like a practice or misstep. The song could do without them, but once they’re over it’s a lovely closer and concludes the record nicely. If you long for dusty roads and horseback rides, then you’ll struggle to do a lot better than ‘Dusk For Dawn.’

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LIVE REVIEW: Of Monsters and Men (12.07.12)

13 Jul

Crouching on the benches at the back of the Scala and twisting into an awkward position in order to balance isn’t necessarily the best way to see Of Monsters and Men, but the venue is so packed that people resort to anything they can to catch a glimpse of the Icelandic band. 

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SINGLE REVIEW: Spike (Johnny 5th Wheel & the Cowards)

14 Mar

The latest offering from Johnny 5th Wheel & the Cowards is definitely whimsical and a little bit different. Feeling in places like a childhood rhyme gone wrong, this particular brand of folk and pop is slightly more menacing than usual, with b-side Yes, That’s Right, We’re Stealing Your Soul sounding like the monster under your bed.


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ALBUM REVIEW: Clear Heart Full Eyes (Craig Finn)

21 Feb

The Hold Steady front man, Craig Finn, presents an entirely different record. Throw away all preconceptions you may have based on The Hold Steady’s previous work, because this is worlds apart from their raucous, explosive sound. Clear Heart Full Eyes is as though Craig Finn is ripping his songs straight from his throat. Rough and painfully honest, listening to it feels like not just reading someone’s diary, but also listening to their psychiatrist’s tapes.

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