Sundays Finest: The Masonics - Sweet Gum Tree - Airpark - Siamese - Go Fever

The Masonics - I Ain't Hurting For You.

Background - The Masonics New Album Release "Obermann Rides Again". Masters of the Medway Beat made famous by Mr Billy Childish, this is the group that in our view should be the more famous one – with their more original style of raw and tender rock’n’roll songsmithery. Renowned drum wizard Bruce Brand played alongside Childish in the Pop Rivets back in the late 1970s and both he and gruffly charming singer/guitarist Mickey Hampshire were both in the Milkshakes in the early 1980s. (In fact, it was actually Mickey & the Milkshakes originally!) Bass thumper John Gibbs, meanwhile, cut his jib in his younger years in near-legendary Scottish group, The Kaisers.

This new limited edition – 500 copies only – album of muscular British rock’n’roll from this widely celebrated beat power trio comes trampling merrily over a swathe of garage rock pretenders. While many young groups clutch equipment of equal quality (almost) and vintage, none of them have put in the years that these chaps have – themselves and their gear have been pushed well past breaking point over the years but their energy is far from dimmed. Their vast experience means that The Masonics have built a solid reputation on live shows across Europe and around the UK that delight teen twisters and pop purists alike.

That reputation was more enough for them, as they themselves put it, to “allow those whipper snapper colonial upstarts The White Stripes to close a series of performances for us in the early part of this century, during their maiden voyage to this great country of ours”. While other musical copyists and johnny-come-latelys continue to come and go, The Masonics continue to plough their furrow, in a never ending quest to make the perfect beat-pop album and delivering passionate performances to excitable audiences.

Recorded at Ransombe Studios (regular home to Billy Childish as well as The Wave Pictures), the all-new recordings on this, their ninth album, 14 slices of suave and rocking pop beat nuggets show that the group have not lost their merciless instinct for touch­ing, simple, timeless rock’n’roll melodies and lyrics. The band performs with verve and precision, on record and on stage, always giving their followers their money’s worth. This new release will soon be followed up by a limited vinyl and download releases from The Masonics’ back catalogue, starting with Outside Looking In and the singles compilation plus downloads of the entirety of their decades of releases. Download the Obermann Rides Again. Website here, Facebook here.

From the new 'Obermann Rides Again' album and the first of fourteen tracks we have 'I Ain't Hurting For You'. There is a timeless British rock'n'roll feel right across the album, and that feel is just so good and right. If Dr Feelgood had formed a decade earlier, or The Beatles had been a lot more raw and edgy, then perhaps they would have sounded like The Masonics, that said this is also fresh enough and well produced to sit comfortably as new in 2017.


Sweet Gum Tree - Twinkle.

Background - Sweet Gum Tree's new album ‘Sustain The Illusion’ is out on March 31st via The Orchard/Plastic Head. Sweet Gum Tree’s first and heavily supported album by the likes of Mojo, Uncut and The Line Of Best Fit, came to fruition with the help of many prestigious collaborators such as Isobel Campbell -Belle & Sebastian, Earl Harvin -Tindersticks and Marty Willson-Piper -The Church. This time, Arno Sojo has reshuffled his cards and chosen to record this new album almost entirely on his own, except for the help of Irish producer David Odlum (long-time partner-in-crime of Gemma Hayes and Glen Hansard).

Both a beautiful, romantic adventure and an unnerving trip through a mind crowded with troubled creatures, Sojo’s earnest vocals confirm that he is amongst those who still believe that music and words can touch the soul, by way of sincerity, constant reinvention and fine craftsmanship. Minimal drum machines and echo-laden guitars throughout create a state of grace evoking the ethereal new-wave productions of British label 4AD as well as hymns from great pop architects like Talk Talk, Prefab Sprout or Divine Comedy. The album’s electronic rigidity contrasts perfectly with the elegant strings and soaring melodies, while Sojo’s gravelled vocals ensure it remains an outstandingly humane and sensitive collection of tracks.

The album’s title nods to Wes Anderson’s acclaimed, ‘‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’’, which itself was based upon Stefan Zweig’s writings on the rise of Nazism in the mid-30’s. Drawing a parallel with the current fiery state of the world and Anderson’s tale of creating love despite all circumstances, Sojo reflects on the challenge of how one can fulfil the need to dream whilst in such a desperate context.

 The soul in Sojo’s voice is what really drives ‘Sustain The Illusion’, particularly on tracks such as ‘Someday’, ‘Guilt Trip’ and the closing lullaby, ‘Keeper’ that lulls you into a complete sense of security. On the other hand, ‘Burn Your Icons’ is both a thought provoking, sharp and ironic look at the relevant question of how we view our fallen idols that gives a truly unique perspective on our society’s traditions.Website here, Facebook here.
mp3 (Amazon) from 31 March here.

'Twinkle' is the first single from the forthcoming album 'Sustain The Illusion'.The rhythm has pace and yet the vocals are a little less anxious and carry plenty of the melody. Musically everything is clean and clear, overall the new album sounds promising.


Airpark - All The Time.

Background - "All The Time" is off Airpark's first EP Early Works, Volume 1, out March 3rd via Eugenia Hall Records. The band is on tour now, with upcoming dates in NYC, Philly, Chicago, Boston, Southeastern US and more.

Inspired by minimalism, melody and groove-heavy percussion, band mates Michael Ford, Jr. and Ben Ford launched the group in 2016, one year after their previous project The Apache Relay quietly called it quits. The Apache Relay had been a large band, staffed with six members and armed with a thick, wall-of-sound approach. With Airpark, the Ford brothers sharpen their focus and scale back their arrangements, focusing on songs that pack a punch with bold, basic ingredients.

On "All The Time," Michael spins the autobiographical story of a musician who's starting over and swinging for the fences, finally coming to terms with his own ambition. "Now I know I need it to be ocean-sized," he sings, backed by propulsive percussion, syncopated electric guitar and his brother's harmonies.

Raised in New Orleans, the Fords grew up surrounded by music, from the Crescent City's jazz to the soul of Irma Thomas and Allen Touissant. Later while living in Nashville, the two rekindled the music connection they'd kick-started back home, finding popularity as The Apache Relay performed alongside the likes of Jenny Lewis, Mumford & Sons and more. Michael and Ben move at a deliberately different speed with Airpark, thus finding new musical territory to explore. Website here, Facebook here. Live dates on our tour page. mp3 (Amazon) from 10 Feb here.

Musically stripped back 'All The Time' initially appears to rely on the vocals and harmonies to carry the song. In reality both elements have there moments and the overall effect is of a feisty pop/rock song, with plenty of hooks.


Siamese - Chromatose.

Background - Siamese is the glam rock band of four theatrically inclined friends from Dallas, TX. Mixing ominous art pop with opulent set design and deranged alter egos, their live show makes you feel like you could go out and invent a new color, or wear a leotard to work.

The group’s debut release The Mesmerist, tracked with producer Alex Bhore at the studio Elmwood Recording, is set for release March 3, 2017. With two monolithic bookends and a slew of twists in between, the record treks through the charming, soothing and savage, with lyrics inspired by sociopathic film characters and a few shades of identity crisis.

A prime example of this is the first single, "Chromatose." Inspired by the Truffaut film Bed & Board, the song is a sardonic shout out to the neighbourhood dilettantes. "There's a neighbor character in the film that everyone deems a murderer," Nicole Marxen-Myers explains. "He turns out to be a television star, and the main characters are quick to retract their impressions of him, swapping them for praise. That idea inspired a juxtaposition between whimsy and horror for the song. It’s fun, but there’s something unsettling about it."

The band – comprised of Paul Alonzo (bass), Paul Grass (drums), Nicole Marxen-Myers (keys, vocals) and Teddy Georgia Waggy (guitar, vocals) – materialised in 2015 as a means to intersect music, performance and visual art. To do so, they take elements from carpentry to choreography to costume design, and their live shows have come to serve as a parallel universe for the members to act out alternate identities and face the terror of vulnerability with their audiences. Live dates on our tour page. Website here, Facebook here. mp3 (Amazon) from 03 March here.

Whether this is glam rock or art pop or something dreamy that sits in between 'Chromatose' is a really intriguing song that has me hooked and wanting to hear more. Definitely a band on our radar!


Go Fever - Come Undone.

Background - Austin-based band Go Fever releases their debut single "Come Undone" last Friday. “Come Undone" is an upbeat and catchy track with a deeper meaning. Lyrically, it centres on how Go Fever vocalist and founder Acey Monaro’s life rearranged beautifully after serendipitously meeting her husband. "Come Undone" is a delicious first taste of Go Fever’s self-titled debut album, embodying a surf pop sound mixed with classic rock and roll influences.

Raised in an Australian country town, Acey Monaro dropped out of school at 14, left home a year later, then married a man twice her age. Divorcing her husband after 7 years at the ripe old age of 26, she began writing songs and performing solo gigs in Sydney. Her strong voice and crafty lyrics, evoking Tracey Ann Campbell as much as J. Tillman, were all inspired by her own brimming storybook. She soon garnered a dedicated audience, prompting an early reviewer to compare her simultaneously to Feist and Emmylou Harris.

Acey fell in love whilst on holiday in Austin, Texas with Go Fever bass player Ben Burdick, eventually making the permanent move to the Lone Star State to marry him and record her debut EP with Brad Bell (War On Drugs, Arcade Fire, Spoon). It was during a visit to Austin in 2012 that Monaro wrote the lyrics to "Come Undone" in the local Halcyon cafe, and years later revisited the track for Go Fever's debut self titled LP (produced and engineered by Danny Reisch / Delta Spirit, White Denim, Other Lives). Go Fever will be available via independent release on February 24th, 2017. Website here, Facebook here.

'Come Undone' is the first of ten tracks on the forthcoming release. The band can and do mix up the styles whilst retaining an identifiable overall sound. The featured song gives some insight into the album, and there are plenty of other contenders that could have been the first single. I have to say February has started with some really fine music, of which Go Fever are a welcome part.