In the depths of winter suffering from too little daylight and the cold and damp ? Looking forward to the long balmy days in the sun ?
Then we may have the answer to get you through the bleak midwinter evenings in the form of a refreshingly 60’s retro-pop jingle-jangle offering that bounces along sweetly, Born In The Summer is the latest offering from New york based singer-songwriter Ash Gray – born in the US to British parents Gray came over to the UK and assembled the Anglo-American band High Class Family Butchers who I stumbled across thanks to the excellent What’s Kickin’ Volume 1 compilation. Relocating to the US Gray’s musical output twisted and evolved into Ash Gray and The Girls.
The line-up of backing group The Girls has undergone several changes over the albums conception and the recording features harmony and backing vocals from six girls over its eleven tracks, including former members Mary Hanley, Abbi Ferguson, Heather Bishop and Helen Bell, the current Girls are Nina Murphy and Sarah Wise. An excellent uplifting album that reaches back to the sounds of the summer of love but twists it enough deliver a set of tracks that are home in present, the mood is perfectly set for the trip back to the summer of love with opening track Purple and Gold with the wonderful sound of the sitar kicking things off the album cements it’s homage to the decade by closing out with a cover of the classic Hollies track Bus Stop., despite the unashamedly retro sound and heart-on-the-sleeve influences and references the album is good enough to stay clear of sounding kitsch and the vocal backing and harmonies are wonderful.
Essex-based singer-songwriter Bob Collum has a new EP out, the Oklahoma born artist delivers up five original tracks with the lyrical stylings of Nick Lowe and Elvis Costello in his authentic Midwest twang on The Ungrateful Depression, Collum is joined on the recording with his band – Allan Kelly (pedal-steel), Gareth Davies (bass) and Paul Quarry (drums), with guest vocal performances from ex-Soft Boy Morris Windsor and Country Dirt lead-singer Marianne Hyatt.
I’ve nothing of Collum’s previous music to compare the EP to but I’ll definitely be dipping into his back catalogue on the strength of this memorable recording, the EP kicks off with a great pedal steel drenched country-rocker Primer Grey , track two moves into straight rock territory and he’s is joined by Marianne Hyatt who adds some great backing vocals to the moodier bass driven Famous Last Words, next up is the title track where the up-beat boom-tick-a-boom carries a darker lyrical message, all change again for track four The Wrong Parade which carries a touch of the country-noir before the EP closes out all too quickly with a return to another pedal steel drenched country-rocker Rebecca Lee.
Bob Collum has shared the stage with a number of luminaries from his home country including Dave Alvin, Marshall Crenshaw, Greg Trooper, Alejandro Escovedo, Robert Earle Keen and Robbie Fulks, you can pick up the album direct from the man himself here and listen to samples of all the tracks and download at eMusic and iTunes, Zingg also have a selection of his previous albums to invest in.
On one of my recent excursions to Zingg I picked up a copy of Mildsensations from Cusack, an impulse buy I suppose (don’t do this enough these days) it turns out I picked up a eclectic gem of an album, the only clue I had of what to expect was based on a single track that appeared on one of the great What’s Cookin’ compilations, Mildsensations is the first full album release from Lance (Cusack) who has collected and curated a selection of his musical works, old and new songs, ranging from close up 4-track demos through to full band alt-country and of course a favourite cover – the Velvet Underground’s Femme Fatale.
A veteran of the Essex music scene playing with local bands The ProTeens, Regentone and The Adjustment, lately Lance has been pedalling his wares in and around London and is a regular performer on the London alt-country and roots scene centring on Come Down & Meet the Folks. Aided and abetted on his travels and in the studio the album features the talents of Lucky Strikes front-man Matt Boulter , Bryan Styles and Matt McGain – collectively the Mildsensations.
Beautifully understated, with some sweet instrumentals thrown in for good measure this is a great album to kick back to, no Essex stereotypes here – you can get your copy exclusively at the Zingg online shop.