Music, Martin C Strong

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Mark Olson - Many Colored Kite

14 Jan 20114 stars

Combining the vocal fragility of Daniel Johnston with heartfelt sound of Gram Parsons

(Rykodisc) Not counting several sets with The Creekdippers (formed after Olson left the Jayhawks) and a one-off reunion/collaboration with his former Jayhawks cohort Gary Louris, this is only Olson’s second proper solo album, the previous being his…

The Du-Rell Family

16 Aug 20104 stars

Death-country fo' y'all

A quarter hour wait in the corridor while the band warmed-up was probably not an ideal start - and as one of only four people in the audience, one feared the worst. But to my surprise, the Texas Chainsaw trailer-trash look of the alt-country quartet (a…

Movin' Melvin Brown

12 Aug 20104 stars

Tap dance and song homage to African American music

Hitting last year’s Fringe as Ray Charles (and Sammy Davis Jr), the majestic Movin’ Melvin this time around takes us on a song and tap-dancing journey from African slavery to the American roots of soul music, through songs of gospel and R&B. Backed…

Sharp-suited sextet The Magnets a solid night out

8 Aug 20104 stars

Acappella group cover pop hits

Their fifth year at the Fringe, The Magnets have once again pulled in a full house to witness their all-vocal/voxbox extravaganza. For more than a decade this London-based sharp-suited sextet have wowed audiences nationwide and toured supporting the…

Chuck Prophet - Dreaming Waylon’s Dreams

21 Apr 20104 stars

(Decor) California-born Telecaster-master Chuck Prophet celebrates 25 years in the roots-rock business (the first eight with Green On Red) via this track-for-track tribute to hero Waylon Jennings’ outlaw-country LP of 1975, Dreaming My…

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Jim Kroft - Between the Devil & the Deep Blue Sea

21 Apr 20103 stars

(Sidewalk 7) Recorded in London via bohemian Berlin (where he now lives) and the Scottish Highlands (where he was raised), young Kroft has clearly procured his parents’ 80s pop-music collection: OMD, China Crisis, A Flock Of Seagulls, The Lightning…

The Fall - Your Future Our Clutter

14 Apr 20104 stars

(Domino Records) Love him or loathe him, Mancunian Mark E Smith is arguably punk music’s last ambassador since a certain butter-loving ‘Anchor-man’ was discovered in a certain celebrity jungle. Studio album number 30-something and their first since…

Woodenbox With a Fistful Of Fivers - Home And The Wild Hunt

29 Mar 20104 stars

(Electric Honey) Is it me, or does every fresh-faced Scots act have to sound like patter-merchant, Paolo Nutini? Woodenbox (aka singer-songwriter, Ali Downer) and the Spaghetti Western-monikered Fistful of Fivers at least sound as if they’re having…

Angus & Julia Stone Down The Way

19 Mar 20104 stars

(Flock Music) Building up a fanbase stretching from their Australian homeland to the States, via gigs in the Scottish Highlands (their debut album, A Book Like This, was co-produced by Travis’s Fran Healy in his London living room), young siblings…

Quarantine The Past: The Best Of Pavement

25 Feb 20105 stars

During the 90s Pavement were cult kingpins of the burgeoning US indie-rock scene, and leader Stephen Malkmus was an idol for the brainy post-Cobain brigade. Several excellent albums garnished the era (from Slanted and Enchanted to Terror Twilight), and…

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Paul Vickers & The Leg - Itchy Grumble

1 Feb 20104 stars

(SL Records) A sophomore album project for ex-Dawn of the Replicants frontman Paul Vickers and former Khaya/Desc buddies Dan Mutch, Pete Harvey and Alun Thomas; the latter part of the Leg alumni also a former ballboy and St Jude’s Infirmary…

The Stark Palace - The Stark Palace

9 Dec 20094 stars

(Shark Batter) It’s been a long time since we heard from Scottish Borders outfit, Dawn Of the Replicants. Former psychiatric nurse turned zine-scriber, Roger Simian (and co), seemed to have just fallen off the musical map. But here with gravedigger…

Tricky - Tricky Meets South Rakkas Crew

4 Dec 20094 stars

(Domino) Hip-hop Bristolian Tricky re-invents himself once again with the help of this musical collision with Florida-via-Jamaica-via-Toronto outfit, South Rakkas Crew – producers of Beenie Man, Bounty Killer and Sizzla. With that mercurial ‘Straight…

Ex Libras - Suite(s)

24 Nov 20094 stars

(Wirebird) Formed in the unlikely locale of their Hounslow Borough library workplace, the London trio of Amit Sharma (vocals, guitar), Kieran Nagi (piano, bass) and Ross Kenning (drums) recorded this promising debut in, of all places, the garden…

Josephine Foster - Graphic As A Star

24 Nov 20092 stars

(Fire) Colorado-born folkie Jo Foster, delivers her fifth solo set, inspired and based on the works of 19th century poet Emily Dickenson. Comprising 26 short fireside-folk dirges (think Shirley Collins or Tiny Tim), it falls short of the oblique…

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Keser - Robo_Ghost

13 Nov 20093 stars

(Alex Tronic) This has all the hallmarks of a plush, textured, guitar-rock album – only, it’s not ’97, and they’re not Mogwai, nor Orbital. Keser are two instrumentalists, programmers (Kevan Whitley & Gavin Clark) on a mission to recreate…

Singles and Downloads

15 Oct 2009

From Julian Casablancas to Paulo Nutini, with some actual interesting stuff in between

Anticipating the arrival of a new White Stripes or Strokes release? Well, you’ll just have to make do with a couple of self-indulgent solo-projects via respective indie-rawk frontmen Jack and Julian. While the former cult icon and his Dead Weather…

Trashcan Sinatras - In the Music

3 Sep 20094 stars

Nineteen years since their debut, Cake, and five years since their last set, Weightlifting, Irvine’s finest export, Trashcan Sinatras, spread their welcome musical manifesto of love, peace and relaxed harmonies once again. With no criticism intended…

The Dodos - Time to Die

21 Aug 20094 stars

Uplifting US folk rock

(Wichita) Formed in San Francisco about four years ago, The Dodos have previously left their mark via two well-received sets, Beware of the Maniacs and Visiter. Many American fans might’ve caught the duo (frontman Meric Long and drummer Logan Kroeber…

The Incompatible Otway & Barrett

16 Aug 20094 stars

Otway or any way possible

One’s waited 30 odd years to see the John Otway & Wild Willy Barrett experience, therefore their arrival on stage 10 minutes late was easily forgotten. Like some adolescent kid accompanied by his grumpy grandad, jester John and Wild Willy playfully spar…

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David Ferrard: Scottish Folk Roots & Offshoots

16 Aug 20093 stars

A homecoming Transatlantic session

One thing you notice when you meet young David is his cheery, cherub-faced features, positively unraveled by his folklore tales of poet Burns, slavery and the Highland Clearances – oh, and he’s the youngest in a tight pub room of 20. Born in Edinburgh…

Living Room

16 Aug 20094 stars

Improving on improv

Austrian acts have been too few and far between since the halcyon days of classical music. The multi-faceted session-like duo of Living Room take both a step into chamber music and another into the world of jazz improvisation. Messrs Christoph Pepe Auer…

The Magnets - Gobsmacked

16 Aug 20094 stars

Take it to the Fringe

A multi-talented ‘six-pack’ ensemble from England, The Magnets breath fresh air into a cappella singing, while adding their cheeky confidence, dancing and interplay theatrics. With both combination singing and each individual taking a turn under the…

Movin Melvin: Me, Ray Charles and Sammy Davis Jr

16 Aug 2009

Hitting the Road . . . with Melvin

The aptly-monikered Movin’ Melvin is the complete entertainer, now deservedly acclaimed after many years in the world of showbusiness. His flashy entrance by way of silver hot pants and braces, and a lengthy tap-dance routine sets the pace for an…

Nurses - Apple's Acre

14 Aug 20093 stars

(Dead Oceans) Another outfit to emerge from the burgeoning Portland, Oregon scene, Nurses (aka songwriters Aaron Chapman and John Bowers) unravel album #2 – their debut was 2007’s Hangin’ Nothin’ But Our Hands Down. Lying somewhere in between Of…