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Reviews
Reviews January 2008
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Sophie Berkal-Sarbit - The Gypsy In My Soul (7 Arts)
As one matures in years and musical tastes, different options become available. Jazz is one of them, and if there’s any doubting the genre’s enduring popularity, a quick glance of Amazon / HMV / Play.com / CD Baby’s release schedules, together with the consistent success of crossover artists such Norah Jones, Jamie Cullum and Soweto Kinch, indications are that it’s as popular now as its 1950 / 60s heyday. Berkal-Sarbit CD harks back to the classic style of the early ’60s when it seemed that Jazz vocalists might break out of their lounge and take-over the world. Thanks to the mammoth advances in pop - Beatles, Dylan, Beach Boys, Stones - they didn’t, but it didn’t stop singers like Peggy Lee, Nancy Wilson, Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughn carving out substantial careers. Hopefully, Berka-Sarbit will find that crossover success, because after living with ‘The Gypsy In My Soul’ for a week or so, it would be deserved.
Rob F.
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Ahkmed - Chicxulub (RIAG)
As a perfect illustration of the global village Australian power trio, Ahkmed find refuge on Russian label, RIAG yet it’s taken since 1998 for them to receive their first official release. ‘Chicxulub’ is a pairing of two self released EP’s (first 4 from ‘In Your Neck of the Dying Woods’, 2005 and the rest from ‘Ahkmed’, 2003). Stylistically their output is vocal minimal (more on the earlier stuff), fuzz heavy psych-rock, which employs traits of past avant-space rock and present stoner and post rock (they describe themselves as “Post-Stoner”). Minimal this is not, as every available space is filled with waves and washes, in quieter moments, or gargantuan noise and feedback at the opposite end of the spectrum. Likened in places to Mogwai and certainly indebted to Hawkwind (note the chants “I see the space ritual” of ‘Viceroy’).
Will F.
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Slidin’ Slim - One Man Riot (Nine Mile)
Slidin’ Slim is a bluesman from Sweden, and may well provide the answer to the eternal question: can Scandinavians get the blues? Judging by the evidence in front of me, I’d have to say yes, though it’s a particular style, which’ll probably appeal to fans of Americana and roots rock just as much as the blues crowd. Standout tracks ‘Devil In Disguise’ and ‘Brand New Face’ rattle along most satisfactorily, and if people like Chris Smither and Chris Whitley float your boat, then chances are you’ll like this.
Rob F.
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John Budding - Lest We Forget (Musician Records)
Beautifully pronounced, beautifully drawn boy John Budding is Leicester’s hidden gem. Melodies courtesy of Gene and clear, sweet and innocent vocals over an acoustic and piano lightest of touch make this a memorable debut. The confessionals of ‘Beth’ and ‘Belief’ hint at a preoccupation with remorse, regret and the afterlife but the latter also has a stirring refrain to leave the listener uplifted. Standout track, ‘Heartless Sleeve’ is a jaunty ditty, once you get past the Mockney stylings of the vocal. Title track ‘Lest We Forget’ is left to last, a mournful coda to an intriguing set that promises great things for this budding talent.
Carl J.
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The Eat - It’s Not The Eat It’s the Humidity (Alternative Tentacles)
This double disc collects together everything you could possible want from the South Florida four piece. Mostly spanning their heyday from 1979 to 1985 the thirty studio cuts are complimented with selections from four different live performances including a 1992 reunion at Churchill’s Pub. They’re representative of the poppier side of the punk rock of their day, but even back to their earlier output, including sought-after single ‘Communist Radio’, there’s a breezy and commendable enthusiasm at work which even lo-fi recording quality can’t erase. They clearly lacked the ambition of contemporaries like X or the full throttle commitment of Black Flag, but fans of the Dead Kennedy’s (whose Jello Biafra is name-checked on the sleeve), early Replacements, and especially The Dickies will find it all very acceptable.
Neil B.
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Garron Frith - S/T (Ravine)
Garron Frith is a Manchester singer-songwriter who’s stated influences include Dylan, Neil Young, Jayhawks, Leonard Cohen and Elliot Smith. Yep - that sounds ‘bout right. The whole tradition of American singer-songwriters provides a deep well of inspiration, and Frith has gone about it with a big bucket and a long rope. The results speak for themselves. His songs are evocative of other times and places without sacrificing their Engishness. It’s a credit to Frith’s talent that when help was requested, it was Chuck Prophet, Grand Drive’s Julian Wilson and Lambchop associate Simon Alpin who turned up the play on this understated joy of an record.
Rob F.
Buy

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Past Reviews: March 07, April 07, May 07, June/July 07, Sept/Oct 07, Dec07