GOOD HABITS –Quarter-Life (own label)

Quarter-LifeGood Habits’ new album, Quarter-Life, dances like a melodic scarecrow, amid a fresh field of ancient autumnal wheat.

The first song, ‘All That She Wanted’, zigs and zags with Bonnie Schwarz’s joyous (double-tracked!) voice which is like the see to her cello’s saw. And there’s slight cajon percussion to accent the tune.

Then, the second song is ‘Baba O’Riley’. Yes! That Baba O’ Riley! And it’s always nice to say, “No synthesizers were injured in the song’s recording”. Rather, fellow Good Habits guy Pete Shaw squeeze boxes the tune with his accordion. It’s pretty cool, and yeah, that’s another nod to The Who! And, as the press release states, “The track served as the ideal canvas for infusing Lunatrakors’ bold energy. Carl Jefferson’s uniquely uninhibited percussion style and Clair Le Couteur’s powerful vocals were the perfect match for the song”. So, thanks to those crazy Lunatrakors, with their “broken folk” that mixes “clowning, cabaret, art punk, flamenco, and trip-hop”. Indeed, several musicians help to flesh out the vocal/cello/accordion wheat with oats, barley, and other assorted musical grains. This is adventurous folk stuff.

Then, the music simplifies its soul. The acoustic ‘Does Anybody’, with plucked strings and a whistle or two, recalls the great Kate Stables and her band This Is The Kit. Next, ‘The Earth Moved’ grooves with accordion/cello magic and a vocal that touches the playful tones of early Kate Bush. But ‘Friday I’m In Love’ positively rocks with accordion lava flow and an explosive (almost) Pauline Murray Penetration post-punk vocal. As said, this music is a melodic modern song (with a razor’s rhythmic scarecrow’s dance!) amid a fresh field of ancient autumnal wheat.

‘Itchy Feet’ is even better, with its infectious vocal that’s always “ready to go again”. The tune’s yet another eruption of a catchy chorus and nice folk music.

Time pauses a bit with ‘Pointlessly’. This is a gorgeous song, with a vocal and accordion purity that spins old sheep fleece into contemplative and dramatic modern wool.

The adventure from this Manchester dual recorded in New Zealand continues. ‘Space Burns/Hiccups’ is an instrumental whirling dervish tune that recalls the vibe of the very great band (and the Isle of Man’s favourite sons!) Barrule. Of course, the cello see-saw continues with ‘Sunday’, a song with a slight Eastern vibe, as our Kate plays both the regular and cello banjo to create a pseudo sitar sound. Nice.

Ahh – a lovely thought: ‘Vinegar’ is a string instrumental tune that includes “the feisty folk-classical quartet Vulva Voice”.

But the horn-infused ‘2 Minutes More’ defies any folk music convention. As said, this is adventurous stuff.

The final song, ‘360’, featuring the voice and kalimba of Angeline Morrison, cuts to the core of this music, as the tune is “Gentle and vulnerable” and “is an emotional exchange laid bare”. Indeed, that’s always a nice way to have any scarecrow, stuffed with a modern song or two, still manage a see-sawed dance in the winds that blow the odd melodic air over those fresh fields of very beautiful (and always) ancient autumnal wheat.

Bill Golembeski

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