Friday, 29 October 2010

Ruarri Joseph - Shoulder To The Wheel

It's been a strange old career for Cornish based Ruarri Joseph so far. If you haven't already heard of Joseph then here is a quick catch up, originally signed to major label Atlantic, Joseph released his debut album in 2007, 'Tales Of Grime and Grit', which led to a degree of acclaim and also support slots with the likes of David Gray, Paolo Nutini and Seth Lakeman (who still speaks highly of Joseph, quoting his latest record as one of the best he's heard this year) but also led to Ruarri becoming miffed with the industry, tearing up his contract and fundamentally becoming his own record label for follow up release 'Both Sides Of The Coin'. 'Shoulder To The Wheel' then, is Ruarri's third album, once again released through his own label, Pip Records.

It's been fascinating watching the progession of Joseph, from one Cornish based creative person to another, while I initially heard Joseph from single 'Tales Of Grime and Grit' which was, if you ask me, one of the best songs released in 2007, the rest of the album didn't even remotely meet those heights. 'Shoulder To The Wheel' is pretty much as you would expect, mature, grounded, and a full album, not relying on one great song to get it through. The influences are still obvious, while Joseph vocally sounds slightly like Willy Mason, you have the obvious references to Bob Dylan, with hints of Leonard Cohen or Johnny Cash. There is also, or at least my dad tells me there is, a Bob Marley reggae feel to it, which I'm sure Joseph will love.

My problem with 'Shoulder To The Wheel' is that it is nice. It is well written, the production is perfect, the sound is perhaps slightly dated but for that, it is probably a record that your parents my like. It is just middle of the road and for that, I just can't rate it.

Ruarri Joseph Myspace

2.5 / 5

Friday, 22 October 2010

Callel - Body Discovery

It says everything that Callel have shared the musical stage with the likes of Paolo Nutini whilst gaining radio play on Radio One and favourable reviews in pretty much every Scottish publication there is, such is the mainstream gravitational pull of debut album 'Body Discovery'.

Melodic and unashamedly pop and indie, Callel seem to have a wonderful youthful naivity that interplays with the kind of song writing that for most, only comes with age. Opening track "Body Discovery" is a playful indie-pop anthem complete with a sing-a-long chorus, a crowd pleaser I'm sure, while "I'd Like To See Your Brain" however, is a contemplative take on emotional acoustic music which definitely takes a leaf out of Elliot Smiths book, whilst also vocally, at times, sounding very much like an early Daniel Johns of Silverchair fame, then you have "Best Foot On The Ground", an electronic, foot stomping track with the pop sensabilities that we have seen charge the charts of late with Alphabeat, etc.

It's clear that Callel have something, despite their youth, they seem to have musical muturity that many spend years grasping at. 'Body Discovery' isn't flawless, at times it feels like it doesn't flow, that perhaps Callel don't know what genre they want to fit into but I'm sure, given the right time and development, they will easily be one of Scotlands massive musical exports.

3.5 / 5

Callel's Official Myspace

Thursday, 7 October 2010

The Xcerts - Scatterbrain

It seems like only yesterday that I heard The Xcerts debut album, 'In The Cold Wind We Smile', heralding it as the debut album that most bands could only dream of making. What a mammoth task The Xcerts have then, with their second album, 'Scatterbrain', as if the second album syndrome wasn't hard enough to overcome, let alone when your debut was as cracking as theirs was.

'Scatterbrain' isn't so much a second album, but more a re-invention of a band that were already fantastic to begin with. It's heavily apparent the influence that producer Mike Sapone has had on the band, as this record is as bold and brave as Brand New's 'Daisy' which he was also at the helm for. From opener 'Tar OK' to closing track 'Lament', its a dark harrowing listen, gone are the sickly sweet pop melodies of 'Home Vs Home' and the Biffy Clyro-esque stylings of 'Do You Feel Safe?' and they have been replaced by not strong singles, but a strong album as a whole with The Xcerts cementing their indentity and their place as one of Britains best up and coming bands.

It's a strange time for musicians still, but The Xcerts are a band that deserve to have a career and 'Scatterbrain' is without a doubt the most important record of this year.

5 / 5

The Xcerts Official Myspace

Friday, 1 October 2010

Tall Ships are a band who after blowing the heads off music fans in Cornwall, have been snapped up by Big Scary Monsters and have gone from strength to strength since. I caught up with them to dish the dirt on the new EP and all the touring they’ve been doing.

Hello guys, firstly could you introduce yourself and explain
a little about who Tall Ships are and how they came to be?

We are 3 brothers who met at university down in Falmouth and bonded
over our shared love of Cornish pasties and Craig David. We started to
play a bit in this tiny room in Rics house, busting out these pompous
jams for a giggle. Our mate Seany was putting Tubelord on at the University bar and asked if we were up for supporting them to which we said yeah.
So within 2 weeks we kind of had to reel in our extended silly
instrumental ditties into proper songs. Then we played them. And to
our surprise people actually enjoyed the songs as did we performing
them. After that we wanted to play again, and again and again.

You spent a lot of time in Falmouth, gigging around Cornwall, do
you feel your experience within Cornwall has impacted the way you
write, if so, how?

It definitely had a real big impact on how we kind of grew as a band.
Every gig we played was in front of our friends and just loads of fun,
which gave us the chance to figure out what we wanted to do with
it. Falmouth itself is real isolated and full of extremely talented
artists, writers, illustrators, designers and to exist within that
creative bubble was real great. Cornwall as a place is just
completely unlike anywhere else. The attitudes of the people and
general way of life is just so much more friendly, accepting and
relaxed which definitely fed into our music. Although, the 6 hour
drive to play a gig (full backline in a toyota corolla) anywhere else
was a bit of a ball ache.

Big Scary Monsters seemed to take hold of you guys quite
quickly, how important do you feel they have been to your progression
in the industry?

Kev Douche is an absolute legend. One of the nicest guys you'll ever
meet. BSM has released some real amazing stuff before like Tubelord,
Pulled Apart By Horses etc , so it was lovely to have him to release the
first EP. Alongside BSM it was also co-released by the beautiful Simon
Morley AKA Blood and Biscuits whom release Three Trapped Tigers. So
it was great to have two people behind us. As for our 'progression'
within the industry, it meant that we instantly had people who would
listen to the EP purely because it came through these two labels. This
exposure to a new audience was great as we hadn't played many gigs so
it got the name out a bit. It also meant we could play more gigs which
is what we love doing.

You've played with some great bands, including one of my personal
faves Minus The Bear, how has the experience been, have these bands
shaped the music on your new EP in anyway?

Yeah we have been incredibly lucky to play with bands that we have such
as Tubelord, Dananananakroyd, 65DOS, though the Minus The Bear shows
were unlike anything we had ever done before. To be watching a band
that you just absolutely love from the side of stage after having just
played yourself was incredibly humbling and surreal. The crowds were
stupidly big too which was something we had never experienced before.
It definitely made us realise that 'shit this is actually happening'
and our schoolboy fantasies of being in a 'proper' band were starting
to be realised.
With regards to shaping the new EP, Tubelord have
definitely influenced us a great deal. We have played so many shows
with them and they have such interesting ideas musically that the
various jams and discussions we have had whilst on tour definitely
have had an effect. Jamie Field who plays keyboard for them also
recorded and produced the EP so he had a massive effect on the whole

Your new EP 'There is Nothing But Chemistry Here' contains more
vocally than your previous self-titled effort. Was there a conscious
effort in adding the vocals or did it occur naturally and how do you
feel this has impacted the songs on 'There Is Nothing But Chemistry

Vocals were always a funny one for us. When we started we agreed that
we wouldn't sing at all on any of our songs but that just changed. The
addition of more vocals was very much a natural progression for us.
Words are a much more instant way of connecting with an audience and
allow us to express ideas more directly than through just pure sounds.
They also allow for more involvement and exchange with an audience in
a live setting which is really important for us. We want everybody who
comes to our gigs to feel a part of the whole thing rather than just a
spectator and words are the easiest way to connect. But it was also
definitely a confidence thing too. Before, we were nervous and
quite self-conscious when it came to singing but after playing so many
shows and the response to the vocals on the first EP, we just
grew some balls and did it.

With regards to impacting the songs on T.I.N.B.C.H, it definitely ties
them together quite well which is something we felt the first EP didn’t
quite have. They feel like songs which belong together both
thematically and musically; a body of songs which all explore a
similar concept and are vehicles to explore the notions behind the
statement 'There Is Nothing But Chemistry Here'.

You have a tour planned to coincide with the release of the new EP
which sees you play alongside the likes of Tubelord, and also dates in
Europe with 65daysofstatic, how do you prepare for gigs now that they
are getting bigger and what are you most looking forward to in your
tour cycle?

Our preparation is always much the same really. We still very much
feel like we are just inflicting our bedroom hobby upon an audience so
we aim to go out and have some fun and hope that everybody else
watching will to. This rings true in front of 10 people or 1000
really. We are unbelievably excited to be going to Europe with
65daysofstatic. It was one of the things we have dreamed about doing
as a band. To visit a whole host of places we've never been too, get
travel costs covered, play music we enjoy in front of new people we can
hopefully meet, it’s just the best.

After the tour and release of the new EP, what does the future of
Tall Ships consist of?

Well definitely more and more shows. We’re planning a headline tour for
December which is both exciting and scary. We won’t be able to suck off
the popularity of the headline band like the leeches we are but rather
will have to (hopefully) play to people who actually have come to see
us... Apart from that well, we’re going to do a cheeky single sometime soon
and then we shall have to face up to the rather worrying notion of
producing a collection of songs which is longer than 18 minutes.....

Tall Ships second EP ‘There Is Nothing But Chemistry Here’ will be released on October 24th through Big Scary Monsters and Blood And Biscuits.

Tall Ships Myspace
Tall Ships Twitter