Dylan Mondegreen – Self Titled

Photo: Julie Pike

Thoroughly enchanting the new album from Dylan Mondegreen is a mesmeric gem of a release, a warm breeze over the senses and a sensuous piece of emotive elegance. The self titled release offers a collection of songs which are as reflective as they are wonderfully tender and atmospherically hazy. Like a summers dawn or evening sunset the album is a gently caressing treat to bask within.

Dylan Mondegreen (Mondegreen meaning misheard lyrics and Dylan referring to the legend himself) is the pseudonym of Norwegian singer songwriter Børge Sildnes, who has been creating his indie pop sounds since the mid-2000s. The new album is his third but the first to be released in the UK and continues his impressive releases of expertly crafted folk and rock/pop. It follows his debut While I Walk You Home of 2007 and The World Spins On two years later. Co-produced with Ian Catt (Saint Etienne, The Field Mice) the new release is an open yet subtle blend of aural whispers and heart borne beauty brought with sophisticated breath and organic textures.

Castaway wraps itself around the ear first with emotive strings and balmy ambience as the mellow tones of Sildnes stroke with soft and expressive emotion. The song is an instant draw which soaks the senses like compassionate waves to captivate from first note to last. It is an enveloping pleasure to start the album off though subsequent songs prove to be even more impressive.

The album is certainly a personal release with songs like Life As A Father shining in craft and passion. It is impossible not to be touched by the track or induced into a personal piece of reflective thinking. Not for the first time on the release the wonderfully sensual vocals of Maria Due add graceful flourishes to a song to light more simmering fires within.

As songs like The Heart Is A Muscle, the superb It Takes Two with its summery presence and steel drum incitement, and the irresistible You Make It Easy with its infectious heart and jangly pop energy, jump all over the ear with keen intent but a soothing touch it is impossible not to drift into a world of sunshine coaxed solitude of thought and feelings.

Different emotions touch the senses across the album with a delicate embracing across the songs through intelligent and expressive lyrics, their delivery, and the accomplished sounds which hold them. It is so easy to sink into the enveloping moods brought by the release, especially the sounds of the string ensemble, with the melancholic and dreamy sounds they conjure a grand beauty and a perfect companion to the dream pop flavours alongside, the combined union making for a rich orchestral landscape to explore and immerse within.

Dylan Mondegreen the album, is a delicious pleasure of bewitching passion pop to take one into serene realms and sparkling emotional experiences dark and light which all have experienced, whilst the artist himself is the one who holds the musical keys to make it all happen.

http://www.dylanmondegreen.com/

RingMaster 07/10/2012

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Louise Latham: Reclaimed

The majority of artists whichever medium they immerse within find their full potency from the darker hues and shadows of life, the strongest emotions and instigators of ideas being those from the most extreme intrusions of happiness. Welsh singer songwriter Louise Latham is no different and with her excellent new album Reclaimed has brought forth songs which are borne from the fires of lost and shattered relationships as well as other full shadows. Whether the songs are personally driven or from close contact to the experiences of others there is a passion and breath permeating the album which is heart given not just a simple portrayal. The album though is not a heavy and morose feast but an evolving fusion of light and dark.

Cardiff girl Latham lived and slept the album during its creation. Her promo for the release stating in her own words “I slept next to the Telefunken analogue machine in the studio for the entire two-month period,” and further went on to say “It was quite a magical time, feeling surrounded day and night by the recording process, which for me is a creative process as involved and fulfilling as writing.” The attention spent on the release which she recorded with producer Arno Guveau in his home studio built specifically for the project, is evident in every note musically and vocally as well as the individual emotive atmospheres combining for an overall one of stirring passion and deep reflection.

Though the majestic folk pop sounds of Latham are not those to generally ignite the sparks of burning fires within this heart there was no denying the power and grace of the songwriting and its realisation. It took time but there has emerged a sure connection which will draw one back even after this review is completed even if only to particular songs. The most irresistible thing on the album apart from the songs and the voice of Latham herself was the wonderful use of strings throughout. Never adverse to the seductive haunting caresses of a cello or the inciteful plaintive teases of a violin let alone the instinctive yearning of the double bass, the songs held a mesmeric kiss upon the ear and with the also excellent piano play of Latham each song is a treat for the ear and heart.

I cannot claim each song found an eventual sure home because of simply personal taste but there was never a moment when the album did not have the fullest eager attention and though some tracks may not have left the firmest invitation to return as did others, each beautifully crafted and presented track was a delightful warm collusion of artist and recipient.

Many songs did light up beyond the ear especially the opening Saint. The song is a wonderful expressive admission of the heart, its hypnotic beats and stirring strings creating an impassioned air behind the outstanding touching vocals of Latham. Her voice is powerful and dramatic without losing or deflecting from the heart of the song. She has the perfect balance of insisting on attention without demanding it allowing her dark and often shadowed impressive lyrical composing to reach and touch every thought.

Further tracks like the magical Old Soul a song as haunting as it is emotive, Erase Me a folk rock track to enchant and excite all, and the exceptional Young Boy, only bring strong pleasure. The last pair of this trio reminds a little of Fleetwood Mac, or more Latham does of Stevie Nicks in her irresistible delivery and makes for nothing but pleasure in their company.

With Gilded Bird expansive in sound and emotion and the elegant closing title track seeing out Reclaimed wonderfully, this is an album which will thrill and wake up the emotions of all singer songwriter/folk hearts. For others like us with differently seeded tastes there is still a wealth of near perfect enjoyment to make Louise Latham and Reclaimed worth a sure and prolonged moment of our time.

RingMaster 22/06/2012

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Makar: Funeral Genius

Guitar and piano led the new album from US band Makar (pronounced Mah-Kar) is a release which soon forms a strong engagement with the ear treating it to an open weave of thoughtful melodic imagination and easily pleasing pop sounds. Ranging from indie rock to folk pop with slithers of quirky invention, Funeral Genius makes an endearing and intriguing piece of pleasure to spend time with.

Formed 2002-03, Makar consists of New Jersey girl Andrea DeAngelis (vocalist/guitarist) and New Yorker Mark Purnell (vocals/ piano). With shows at the likes of Luna Lounge, CBGBs gallery, Knitting Factory and Pianos under their belt the pair wrote and released their eighteen song strong debut album 99 Cent Dreams in 2005. Three years in the making it won immediate and lingering acclaim across radio stations, media, and the public. 2008 saw the duo begin work on Funeral Genius another three year project, and upon its recent release the band again started being soaked in full and eager enthusiasm for its sounds which now having heard it is understandable. With the addition of Mark Nilges and drummer Dawn McGrath on the album Makar quite simply light up the air with twelve excitable songs which even if indie pop is not your preferred aural medium cannot fail to leave a warm smile inside.

The title track opens up the release with an instant sunny disposition despite the theme of the personal negativity some

Andrea DeAngelis

people carry through every day. There is a underlying eighties feel to the song and the album as a whole in that it reminds of The Passions a little but more of a more restrained but no less fun Martha and the Muffins. With a melodic eagerness and the enchanting vocals of DeAngelis playing around the great bass and the striding piano, the song is a very welcoming start to the album.

The following I Wanna Know What I Don’t Know and Belong Here continue the fun and inviting beginning. The first is a resourceful mix of indie rock and bouncing show piano with a seventies vocal flavouring, like an amalgamation of Throwing Muses and The Sundays with Middle Of The Road. It captures the imagination from the start with a familiarity and open inducement to join in and though it is not as eager as its predecessor it leaves one more than satisfied. The second of the pair continues the fine blend of piano and guitar topped by excellent the angelic vocals of DeAngelis all firmly and skilfully veined by the bass of Nilges and beats of McGrath.

Tracks like Bottle of Beauty mixes things up nicely on the release with Purnell taking the vocal lead whilst I Can’t Tell You To Stay offers a compelling bluesy groove to its flow though Nilges is the star on this particular track. The song twists and turns continually throughout to make for one of the more unpredictable and delightfully thrilling songs on the release.

Mark Purnell

There are a couple of moments where the album misses the mark though it is more down to personal preference to be fair, but In The Know  with its limited breath and banshee harmonic shrieks left more puzzlement than joy whilst the closing lo-fi raw recording of Devil In A Dream seemed like a track too far for these ears. With intelligent and compelling songs like America Where Are You and Show Me That Look In Your Eyes making up the album personal tastes make a small impact of the pleasure gained from Funeral Genius.

Though not destined to be a consistent player here it is impossible not to be impressed and fully gratified with the quality songwriting, exciting melodies, and some of the best indie pop tunes heard this year. Makar have an open invitation for all to join their party with Funeral Genius it is just up to you to go an enjoy.

www.makarmusic.com

Ringmaster 13/06/2012

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