James Cook – Adventures In Ausland

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There has always been an inescapable magnetism to the creativity and songs of UK singer/songwriter/producer James Cook, and the release of second solo album Adventures In Ausland certainly does not lose any of that imagination sparking prowess. In fact it takes it to new levels with tracks which are bred from even greater maturity and inventive expression in sound and lyrical enterprise. The new release reaps the masterful essences of its predecessor Arts & Sciences, evolving them into richer and more intricate textures and arrangements. The expected pop heart of Cook’s songs is still as infectious as ever but with no disrespect to what came before, it has grown up to offer even more compelling and invigorating explorations of his distinct English chamber rock.

First drawing attention with the band Nemo, which released a trio of well-received albums between 2004 and 2008, Cook has made a bigger impression matched by equally potent acclaim through his solo work. Between Nemo and Arts & Sciences, he also appeared in and wrote songs for numerous Mighty Boosh episodes, collaborated with Imogen Heap, and released the baroque pop album The Dollhouse with violinist/string arranger Anne Marie Kirby, who once again links up with Cook for the new release. The time between his outstanding 2012 solo debut and Adventures In Ausland, saw Reverse Engineering, Vol. One unveiled, a covers release revealing rich inspirations to the life and music of the musician with classic tracks interpreted and regenerated in his own inventive image. It was a thrilling insight into the man as well as simply an exciting encounter but it is his own work which gets the fires flaming brightly as proven again by the new album.

Two years in the making, with songs written in the likes of Los Angeles, Buenos Aires, Montevideo and Genova whilst its recordings took place in Vienna, Prague, Berlin and London, Adventures In Ausland (Ausland the German word for abroad or elsewhere) brings in many ways an international breath to its still distinctly English sound. Certainly lyrically the album sizes up the world and its light and dark aspects whilst wrapped in an evolving invention which you feel can only come from the imagination of an Englishman. The release opens with the delicious Bees In November; its opening sigh of strings arranged by Cook and Kirby, an immediately evocative caress. They soon make way for a warm electronic and guitar enticing subsequently followed by a soft blaze of vibrant brass, all infesting ears and imagination with a sultry glow and vivacious temptation. The beats conjured by Tom Marsh add potent bait to the mix but it is the distinct voice of Cook and the continuing masterful call of the strings which steals the passions most forcibly. Both bring emotive intrigue and unpredictability to their invitations, lures sparking excitingly in thoughts and emotions, as well as the captivating body of the pop fuelled song.

The opener is swiftly matched by the following Lilly (A Lover’s Dream), a song which glides resourcefully through ears with melodic elegance and passionate reflection coloured by the mouth-watering weave of strings. There is an a3495452677_2element of The Divine Comedy and The Bluebells to the song, a spicing which flavours the light footed melodic waltz of the song. As mesmeric in charm and sound as it is sultry in ambience, the song is a glorious embrace with an air which transports thoughts into unique scenery as does the next up Financial Tango. There is a Morricone flame to the opening climate of the track, though soon making way for the punchy stride of the song and its thought jabbing narrative. That scorched flame of brass does reoccur across the pungent premise and body of the track frequently, stirring up senses and imagination as potently as the striking enterprise around it.

Both Dog Arms & Dilemmas and Art Deco, keep the flight of the album boldly varied and gripping, the first with its gentle wash of vocals and melodic enterprise soaked in a provocative heat of brass. Vocals layers lie slightly misaligned to each other at times for a pleasing ingenious and addictive tempting whilst the entanglement of strings and brass powerfully ignites air and ears with voracious passion. It is a smouldering treat of a proposition but one admittedly soon left looking a little pale by its successor. The fifth track feels the closest to the last album, its dance of sawing strings and quirky synth adventure within agitated rhythms and another great vocal call from Cook, a bridge between the two albums whilst pushing its smart pop sound to new levels. Broad hints of Thomas Dolby and XTC tease at thoughts as well as essences of David Bowie as the song flirts and seduces the imagination and emotions. It is a riveting and scintillating encounter which leaves an already greedy appetite hungrier.

   Bring Back The Boom offers a keys led stroll with a landscape of brass and lyrical incitement next, its atmospherically musty tone and shadowed premise an enthralling encounter, if lacking the spark of earlier songs slightly. It still leaves album and pleasure high as does the absorbing melancholic presence of The Blackout and the mischievous romp of Jamie with its swipe at misguided dreams and modern pop attitudes. The pair of songs again easily pushes thoughts into action whilst leaving ears basking in weaves of strings, brass, and melodies bred with a grandeur that only pure adult pop can conjure.

The wonderful call of Tideland with Cook at his most vocally potent on the album within a suggestive net of coaxing hooks and emotionally shadowed keys, comes next to bewitch senses and feelings. The rhythmic allurement of Marsh and the commanding strumming of Cook only accentuate the power of the majestic and increasingly towering track but it is the strings and vocals which drives the lingering tapestry of sound and imagination most potently. The impressive lure of the song is continued through closing track Ausland/Outside, a piece of beauty which envelopes and seduces ears with a thrilling maze of strings and vocals. It borders on disorientating at times but only to ignite the encounter and emotions to greater potency.

Adventures In Ausland is a very different album to its predecessor creating an even more striking and masterful proposition of pop fuelled, imagination driven drama. If James Cook is still a secret to be discovered for you, than this release is an introduction which can only lead to lustful pleasure.

Adventures In Ausland is available now @ http://jamescook.bandcamp.com/album/adventures-in-ausland

jamescookmusic.com

9/10

RingMaster 30/07/2014

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Listen to the best independent music and artists on The RingMaster Review Radio Show and The Bone Orchard from

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MFC Chicken – Solid Gravy

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If their debut album Music for Chicken had feet and emotions exhausted from its unrelenting revelry and thrilling sounds then have paramedics on speed dial as its successor Solid Gravy is a much more voraciously devilish and creatively incendiary stomp. Created by UK band MFC Chicken, their new album just rampages through ears and passions like an insatiable cyclone of mischief and feverishly flavoured rock ‘n’ roll.

The seeds of the band began with Canadian Spencer Evoy who moved to London on what he called a pilgrimage to the recording studio of Joe Meek. The vocalist/saxophonist found himself on Holloway Road and seduced by the aroma of a fried chicken shop began busking to raise funds to feed his grumbling stomach. His sounds caught the attention of bassist Bret Bolton living above said shop who called out to the musician below. Their meeting and mutual interests led to the formation of MFC Chicken days later, its name coming from the now closed down establishment at the heart of their meeting. Enlisting guitarist/vocalist Alberto Zioli, keyboardist/vocalist Reverend Parsley, and drummer Ravi Low-Beer, the quintet and their blend of rock ‘n’ roll, rhythm ‘n’ blues, surf, and garage rock found an eager and voracious appetite around the city and further afield. Music for Chicken helped push that spotlight into a world-wide attention with the band constantly touring and feeding the globe their vivacious sounds. Now with bassist Fernando Terror recruited MFC Chicken has struck again not only in their unrelenting touring but with another exhilarating new album.

The Dirty Water Records released Solid Gravy sets off as it means to go on with Chicken ‘Bout You, teasing percussive coaxing playing around a devilish riff to instantly seduce attention and appetite. A spoken suggestiveness equally plays with ears and thoughts to help widen an already breaking smile, the band swiftly enticing the ladies with a winking narrative and the fiery flame of sax from Evoy matched by the delicious sonic lure of guitar. It is ‘merely’ the lead in to the album but already firing up the passions which the riveting Pocahontas enslaves further. The track roars as you would expect from the off, roguish chants setting the scene as a tribal stomp of forceful rhythms alongside acidic guitar enterprise crowd and dance around a spinal lure provided by the pulsating bass. The track does not arguably surprise with its rampant sound and resourcefulness but certainly sets a powerful wave of greed and satisfaction in motion.

(Get Outta The) DJ Booth blazes in ears next, its initial flame of guitar offering a Johnny Kidd and the Pirates like bait which the song relaxes into and strolls purposefully within from there on in. The song strides with a fifties gait DWC1072_highresunder a pungent web of sonic invention and punchy keys which catches the breath, a Little Richard and Jay Hawkins texture and spicing adding to the pleasure. Its potent presence is instantly matched by the outstanding Voodoo Chicken, its sixties garage rock rascality aflame with the ever scorching sax invention of Evoy, irresistible hooks, and a quite infectious air to its overall endeavour.

From one pinnacle on the album to another, one of the very best tracks on Solid Gravy comes in the thrilling shape of I’m Her Pet. Grinning with an open swagger and flirty attitude, the track bounces along with keen restraint whilst rhythms jab tauntingly and gruff vocals aligned to a spicy guitar roam and show their wares with skilled temptation. As with many of the songs there is a familiarity to it though as with most, it is undefined for the main as evidenced in the following flurry of Hot Friend. With melodic impishness thrusting its hips around like a girl gracing the dance floor of The Cavern Club back in the sixties, the instrumental flings its recognisable yet unique bait at the passions with little thought of subtlety or restraint.

Both the perky (Show Me The) Gravy, Baby with its animated sax and guitar sculpted culinary plea, and the virulently contagious Don’t Wanna Talk About Chicken with its juicy ribs of choice hooks and bass seducing, keep the album sizzling in thoughts and emotions, the second of the two especially tasty with its intermittent raucous flight of caustic rock ‘n’ roll around an irritatingly addictive chorus. Their inescapable tempting is soon backed up by the refreshing romp of Well Now, its Eddie Cochran/ Johnny Burnette touch another healthy variation to the voice of the album. It is as catchy as new velcro and a party for body and passions, one more song in the batch of fourteen impossible to avoid joining in with.

The surf fuelled premise of M.F. Sea Chicken washes spiritedly over senses next, its shimmering air and smouldering beauty within a fiery net of sonic persuasion and heavily suited rhythms pure toxic beauty merging the warmth of Jan & Dean with the warped causticity of The Ghastly Ones, and the twisted pop of The B52s. Its lingering instrumental prowess is soon lost though in the swing of Chicken Shack and the blues rapacity of Horseshit. The first is another incitement of rhythmic hips and flowing melodic frivolity led by a mischievous intent whilst the second of the two explores ears with a raw mix of Ray Charles and Fats Domino and a strong whisper of King Salami and the Cumberland 3.

The album comes to a close with firstly with the sultry rockabilly majesty of White Leather Boots and lastly the ridiculously captivating creative and lyrical devilment of Dirty Little Bitch, both tracks exceptional teases of fire bred sax invention and uncompromising hooks aligned to similarly unrelenting rhythmic enticement. Both also show the depth and expanse of the invention and sound of the band to leave lips licked and passions full.

As impressive as their debut was MFC Chicken have turned their charm, diablerie, and colourful sound into a much stronger and irresistible proposition with Solid Gravy, and still they leave you feeling hungry afterwards and not only for them.

Solid Gravy is available now via Dirty Water Records @ http://www.dirtywaterrecords.co.uk/store-2/#!/~/product/category=2749876&id=36716523

https://www.facebook.com/MFCChicken

9/10

RingMaster 30/07/2014

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Listen to the best independent music and artists on The RingMaster Review Radio Show and The Bone Orchard from

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