UK debut album by AlascA

AlascA liveOn their debut UK release ACTORS & LIARS, AlascA play eleven tales and songs that have the tendency of lodging themselves in the old grey matter. AlascA’s music has a novel and poetic quality, which to me anyway, will leave a lasting impression.

The tales grow on you and the melodies that guide the lyrics to their end have a place in the past, the present and the future. Their lingering melodies will appeal to the listeners of current indie-folk, but will likewise inspire those who loved the folk sounds, close harmonies and lyrical subtleties of the ‘60’s and ‘70’s.

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ACTORS & LIARS by AlascAACTORS & LIARS was produced by Grammy-award winning engineer and producer Alan Branch (U2, Jeff Beck, Yusuf Islam, Blur, Nine Inch Nails). When released in the Netherlands in 2012 it peaked at No 9 in the Dutch charts in the week after its release (and stayed in the top 50 the subsequent six weeks) and received much critical acclaim in the Netherlands and Belgium. AlascA’s live performances are characterized by their shifts from intimate singer-songwriter tales to bombastic folk-rock explosions. AlascA are based near Amsterdam and consist of Frank Bond (vocals, guitars, bass), William Bond (harmonies, keys), Ferdinand Jonk (harmonies, banjo, 12-string guitar) and Louis van Sinderen (drums, percussion).

AlascA Photo: www.marcobakker.comThe band are inspired by a diverse collection of bands including the Beatles, Love, the Zombies, Beach Boys, Buffalo Springfield, CSNY, Neil Young, Bob Dylan, Tim Buckley, Gene Clark, the Doors, Fleetwood Mac, Pentangle, David Bowie, Big Star, Jeff Buckley, Radiohead, The Dears, The Shins, Fleet Foxes, Sufjan Stevens, Midlake, Yeasayer and Iron & Wine. AlascA have played on De Wereld Draait Door, the Dutch leading prime time television programme and have played at most of the major radio stations in the Netherlands such as Radio 1, Radio 2, Radio 3FM and Omrop Fryslan.

All the songs on the album apart from Déjà Vu, written by Ferdinand Jonk, were written by Frank Bond. Frank studied English Literature and Literary Sciences at the University of Amsterdam and obtained his Master of Arts Degree in 2009. Frank’s Ma Thesis is on Bob Dylan and provided a critical look into the most prominent academic approaches to Bob Dylan’s lyrics. The thesis was praised for its line of argument and the fact that it proposes a more productive and adequate analysis which also attempts to incorporate the musical elements of Dylan’s song lyrics. After graduation, the thesis was published. Frank, however, is and was not satisfied with the scope of the thesis and is currently working on a revision of his methods of analysis. He is also working on several essays on the various aspects of the current day music industry. In line with his background, Frank’s songwriting and lyrics are inspired by literature and philosophy, in particular Shakespeare, Keats, Coleridge, Yeats, Hemingway, Rimbaud, Pound, Joyce, Lucebert, Sartre, Foucault, Fowles, Kafka, Twain and Lawrence.

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For more information and the latest tour dates visit http://www.alascamusic.com/

GREEN DIESEL – Now Is The Time (Own Label)

Perhaps it’s the late 60’s, Fairport styled introduction that appeals to me on Green Diesel’s take on Steve Ashley’s “Fire And Wine” complete with obligatory ‘riff’. Whatever it is, the band play to the strengths of the folk-rock genre of that era featuring Ellen Care’s fiddle/vocals, Matt Dear (lead guitar), Matthew Fraser (accordion), Ben Holliday (bass guitar), Colin Ireland (drums) and Greg Ireland on rhythm guitar/mandolin/bouzouki etc). On the second track “London Pride” (more commonly known as the shanty “Let The Bulgine Run”) the band are happy playing to the strengths of that bygone decade with crash, bang wallop drums and layered singing although, without wishing to sound uncharitable, I’m not sure about Dear’s lead vocal on his own self composed “The General’s Lament”…a case to me at least of where’s the gravitas? I never thought I’d find myself agreeing with the judges panel of the recent TV “Superstar” auditions but please, if you’re going to sing a song sing it with passion…from the heart! That aside, this album should provide a reasonable ‘calling card’ to what the band are capable of and will undoubtedly sell well to their Kent based fans and anyone who sees them at a festival.

PETE FYFE

Artist’s website: www.greendieselfolk.com

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Dai Jeffries reviews GALLEY BEGGAR’s latest release…

There have been major line-up changes since Galley Beggar released their debut album, Reformation House, a couple of years ago. Gone are lead vocalist Frances Tye, violinist Prasanthi Matharu and pianist and bassist Paul Murphy.

The intent remains the same. There’s still an attachment to the classic folk-rock of the seventies but without Frances’ recorders there is less nu-folk and a harder edge thanks, in part, to Maria O’Donnell’s vocals. The material is split between traditional and original material although sometimes it’s hard to say which is which. ‘Daverne Lamb’ written by Paul Dadswell and David Ellis could easily be traditional both in delivery and content although the final two songs, ‘Hymn To Pan’ and ‘Birds & Fish’ hark back to their earlier style. The opener, ‘Willow Tree’, is in the Spriguns/Steeleye Span vein with ringing mandolin, fiddle, electric guitar and drums that say 1975 over and over again and ‘Nottamun Town’ has that wonderful drone effect that both Fairport and Pentangle used to achieve.

I’m heartened that Galley Beggar has an audience for what some would consider an old-fashioned take on the music. They are tight and dynamic and there isn’t a folk festival in the country that wouldn’t benefit from having them on the bill. Dai Jeffries

Artist’s website: https://www.facebook.com/galleybeggarmusic/

folkmaster – Here is a track from their first album as I can’t lay may hands on any material from the new album:

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GILMORE and ROBERTS – The Innocent Left

As I’m sitting here listening to this, the third album by Katriona Gilmore and Jamie Roberts I’m struck particularly on the second track “Doctor James” by how similar they sound to the Scottish band Ruby Blue. In fact, so much so that the track is reminiscent of Ruby Blue’s single “Primitive Man”…check it out to see what I mean. Personally speaking I’ll put my hands up straight away and say that I’m sold on the duo’s move into the late 80’s early 90’s soft, folk-rock genre replacing the use of 12-string guitar with the use of mandola and very much a cliché of that period in my opinion. It’s a nicely produced album by Julian Simmons although I feel that the use of flugelhorn and fiddle on “Louis Was A Boxer” are so similar in tone and texture that they render one or the other superfluous. A shame really as it’s only a minor niggle but one that keeps recurring each time I play it. On a more positive note, proving just as dextrous with their instrumental skills as their lyrics Gilmore & Roberts showcase a couple of tune sets “Seven Left For Dead” and “Over Snake Pass” which would give Fairport’s “Cherokee Shuffle” a run for it’s money. Finally, congratulations all round to the design team on a first class effort in producing the well illustrated booklet (complete with song lyrics and notes) and tasteful sleeve. Please will any other artists reading this review take note that this is how it should be done! An impressive album and I look forward to the duo’s next offering.

PETE FYFE

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Artist Web link: www.gilmoreroberts.co.uk

THE ORIGINAL BUSHWACKERS and BULLOCKIES BUSH BAND – The Shearer’s Dream (Storytellers Guide)

There was a time…the early 1970’s…when the world could be counted as priggish in its approach to British ‘folk’ music. That was until it was taken by the scruff of the neck and unceremoniously given a good whipping by a bunch of lads that appeared to be the Australian equivalent of the Murfia. This band; The Original Bushwackers & Bullockies Bush Band were also the most entertaining and energising I have ever experienced. No time to wonder about ‘niceties’, they were to take the UK by storm and give a good kicking to the folk-rock scene of the time. You only have to put on track one “South Australia” to hear the raw energy that emanated from the disk that made you want to slug back a tin of Fosters and party like there was no tomorrow. And those of us lucky enough to get to know them did. But it wasn’t just the songs it was Jan Wositzky’s and Mick Slocum’s tall-tales including “The Swagless Swaggie” that made them all-round entertainers. As if that wasn’t enough they were also damn fine instrumentalists (fiddle, banjo, guitar, accordion etc) who knew the value of a good tune to boost the audience listening pleasure. Noticeable for the inclusion of Dobe Newton’s ‘lagerphone’ they certainly knew (as Ant & Dec would have it) how to rumble and just the thought of it makes me want to break out the old mandolin. If you really want a good time then here’s your starter for ten and, by the way thanks to Jan the whole of the Bushwackers early history is captured magnificently in the handsomely packaged 24 page booklet. A must buy on CD and download for any self-respecting folk-rock enthusiast. PETE FYFE

THE ALBION BAND – Vice Of The People (Powered Flight Music POWFCD02)

The stark acapella ‘calling-on song’ “A Quarter Hour Of Fame” takes a knowing pop at the industry known as ‘pop’ for, if Simon Cowell were to take even the slightest interest in a ‘folk’ band I’m sure he wouldn’t know what to do with them. So, in a track that lasts a mere 44 seconds it would appear the new line-up of The Albion Band mean business much like their predecessor. Forthright views conveyed with a passion were always part of the original band’s make-up thanks due in no small part to the lyrics of John Tams and I’m pleased to say Katriona Gilmore (fiddle) and Gavin Davenport (guitar/concertina) continue in that spirit. Of course, an Albion Band wouldn’t be The Albion Band without the inclusion of at least a couple of trad arr: songs/tunes and in this regard they don’t disappoint with re-workings of “Adieu To Old England” and the downright shanty-rock anthem treatment of “One More Day” where the trademark Stratocaster sound (once provided by Sir Simon Nicol) will leave any festival-going audience with a smile a mile wide. The rest of the band; Blair Dunlop (guitars), Benjamin Trott (lead guitar), Tom Wright (drums) and Tim Yates (bass/melodeon) really are a great ‘engine room’ providing rock solid rhythms and I’d say in conclusion that the band’s name and music is in safe hands. In the words of the great David (we are not worthy) Essex ”Rock On”!

PETE FYFE

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