St. Christopher Medal – Sunny Day Machine

St. Christopher Medal_RingMaster Review

It is hard to say the prime lure of Sunny Day Machine and indeed the sound of Scottish quartet St. Christopher Medal; whether it is the melancholic beauty, the expansive yet intimate landscapes of soulful sounds cast, or simply the emotive prowess of word and tone. Whatever the core potency, a mix of all most likely, the result is a captivating exploration which might not have you singing from the rooftops but will encourage a healthy word of mouth recommendation.

The August of 1998 saw Scotpop band Life With Nixon call it a day at Sleazy’s in Glasgow, a memorable show to round of successful adventure as a band. It has taken a fair while, but that foursome of Billy Nisbet (drums), David Mack (bass), and Ali (vocals) and Kenny Mathieson (guitar), have linked up with Andy Jeffries (piano) and returned as St. Christopher Medal. Drawing on loves and inspirations, the band has bred a sound fusing the rich essences of country rock, Americana, folk, and more, all woven into songs bred on reflection and observation, and a fair dose of personal experiences it is easy to suspect. With the first single, Vatersay Love Song, having whetted appetites the band’s debut album, Sunny Day Machine reveals more of the understated but potent depth to the band’s songwriting and sound. At times the release is a glorious arousal of the senses and imaginations, and in other times, a gentle coaxing but from its first breath to last, Sunny Day Machine just enthrals.

It opens up with the quickly beguiling Glori, its warm embrace and melodic caresses as inviting as the vocal and lyrical painting cast by the dry tones of Ali. Immersive and engaging, the song is a lively simmering graced by dazzling shades of keys and the magnetic enterprise of guitar, all merging in a sultry wash of country lined folk rock. It makes for a fascinating start to the album which continues with the tangy harmonic stroll of Vatersay Love Song and the slow dance of Leave The Boy Upstairs. Both songs take attention by the firm hand, the first with its Band of Holy Joy meets Flying Burrito Brothers croon and the second through a smoulder of keys and melodic expression cradling the increasingly potent gait of Ali’s voice. Fair to say though, they get quickly outshine by the album’s best track, Satchel Bag. The song is exceptional, an entwining of urban folk and sixties rock ’n’ roll; like Lennon and McCartney does Bob Dylan with a creative paint box provided by The Sums. More addictive with every listen, next single written all over the song, it offers yet another vibrant colour to the seriously appealing tapestry of the album.

Sunny Day Machine front cover_RingMaster Review   The pair of Great Lakes Morning and The Appin Indians takes the listener into the remote charms of inspiring landscapes and emotional reflections, each venturing through their own melody thick scenery of southern twang and personal exploration. Unlike their predecessor which leapt from the speakers, the tracks spread like mist, enveloping ears and consciousness to similarly strong success before From A Zafira Comfort raises the tempo again with its keen energy and bluesy rock ‘n’ roll. Though not necessarily in recognised sound, Sunny Day Machine is a blues album of sorts but bred from an ever evolving bloom of flavouring from across the past handful of decades.

Through the crystalline charm and fuzz toned temptation of Ernestine and the excellent electric shimmering of Days Like These, band and album continue to spark the imagination with new shades of adventure spawned in that core country/Americana breeding, whilst What She Said On The Street casts a pulsating serenade of emotion and sound. All three, and especially the second of the trio, make a compelling persuasion with We Are The Medal backing them up through a summery glide across a sultry terrain of resourceful musical and lyrical incitement.

Final track West is just one more slice of melodic charm and lyrical prowess confirming Sunny Day Machine as one fascinating and enjoyable proposition. For some it will light a major fire, with others offer something highly satisfying to occasionally embrace, but for all, St. Christopher Medal have created a release to warm the heart and spark the imagination; thus providing something easy to recommend.

Sunny Day Machine is out now via Stereogram Recordings via www.stereogramrecordings.co.uk/audio/sunny-day-machine-st-christopher-medal-cddl/

Upcoming Live dates (as part of The Stereogram Revue):

Wednesday 2nd December 2015 – The Voodoo Rooms, Edinburgh

Thursday 3rd December 2015 – The CCA, Glasgow

https://www.facebook.com/st.christophermedal

Pete RingMaster 06/11/2015

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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Duncan Reid and The Big Heads – The Difficult Second Album

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If it was as problematic as its title might allude to, The Difficult Second Album from Duncan Reid and The Big Heads has no intentions of showing it within its fluid and mischievous power pop revelry. The trickiness of following an impressing debut is one of those issues which is arguably more imagined and supposed than generally realised, and certainly there is no hint of anything but an equally thrilling and potent encounter from Reid for his second solo offering. Spawned from the same punk and pop rock devilry which marked its predecessor and its creator’s career, The Difficult Second Album is a contagious romp which explores more power pop essences this time around but still provides an instinctive and inescapable incitement of hook laden rock ‘n’ roll.

Reid’s impact and inspiration on punk rock came as bassist/vocalist of melodic punks The Boys, an outfit which Joey Ramone declared his favourite band in the eighties, and indeed that decade saw Reid alongside fellow Boys member Casino Steel provide backing vocals for the live version of The Ramones hit, Baby I Love You. Alongside band founders Matt Dangerfield and Steel, as well as Honest John Plain and Jack Black, Reid and The Boys released four albums and a host of singles before splitting in 1981.Eighteen years later the band reformed for a couple of shows in Tokyo, which in turn eventually led to a full comeback and tours across varied areas of the world. Leaving the band in 2011, Reid set about recording his debut solo album Little Big Head which gripped attention and appetites upon its release in 2012. Now he returns with its successor and another excursion into majestic power and punk pop.

With multi-instrumentalist Alexander Gold, guitarist Sophie Lynch, and drummer Ciara Lavers alongside him, Reid and the band swiftly light up ears and appetite with opener Another City. Within a breath melodies are teasing and captivating whilst crisp beats and a dark bass seducing are adding their potent coaxing to the songs immediately catchy invitation. It is not long before the tones of Reid bring their distinctive hues, his voice somewhere between Ste McCabe, Pete Shelly, and Ian Broudie, and fuelling the track with even greater temptation. With suggestive melodies dancing on the senses, the song is a lively croon setting the release off in fine and magnetic style.

The strong start is instantly surpassed by the outstanding Baby Doll, its entrance a flight of Devo-esque keys bred persuasion which has the imagination in the palms of their colourful hands. duncan_album_2Nestling into a minimalistic stroll with a tangy bassline escorting Reid’s compelling narrative, the song lyrically as intriguing and enthralling as the sounds it casts, it is in no time a devilish treat. With an even pace even through its mini crescendos, the track persistently inflames and ignites ears with spicy enterprise and Pixies like imagination across its singular rhythmic direction. The song is an early pinnacle for the album backed strongly by C’est La Vie, a juicy pop infused blaze of bracing riffs and glowing harmonies. Admittedly at its strongest in the verses rather than the hazy choruses, the track is a magnet for the passions and vocal participation, raising an eager smile at every turn of its mischief.

Both End of the World and Joe keep things bubbling vivaciously, the first of the two a weave of incendiary rhythms and flavoursome chords which at times are early Undertones like and in others more like The Briefs, whilst the second is a riveting drama of Beatle-esque melodrama and melodic rock colouring with a gorgeous breeze of melancholic strings matched by keys. Though neither can quite match those before them, each adds a rich new shade to the character of the album and a treat for ears to devour before Just As Good As I Used To Be unveils its quaint balladry. It is a slow embrace and admittedly persuasion until it suddenly erupts into a fevered pop punk stomp which in turn ignites the already appealing vocal lures with extra spice and energy. From its appealing but underwhelming start the track turns into the life of the party and feeds the greedy appetite now in place for the album with its exciting The Freshies like revelry.

Little Fingers and Toes steps up next and straight away is flinging spicy riffs and hooks which spark in the imagination with Rezillos like radiance. It should be stated that for all the references and reminders moments in songs inspire they more often than not are fleeting or simple essences which only spice up the unique propositions. The song itself has a curled lip to its presence, a belligerence which is all punk rock and lingering attitude, even as contagious hooks and vocal harmonies steal attention. As across the album, the excellent encounter is unfussy and to the point but still a masterful web of textures and sounds dragging feet and emotions into its persuasion with sublime ease.

The initially folk lilted Long Long Gone is next and strides with a blues flame to its accomplished design and air before making way for Not The Kind of Guy Girls Hug, another song with an open whisper of Lennon and McCartney to its charm. Adding another enjoyable twist to the album, the song still lacks the spark of its predecessors though admittedly that is more personal taste driven than any shortcoming in its skilled persuasion, though it is soon forgotten as One Night in Rio uncages its rock ‘n’ roll rampage. An out and out punk stomp with a blues rock underbelly, the track is the kind of song Reid has become renowned for which is hungry punk rock at its melodic and insatiable best, this track offering a great Ramones meets Eddie and the Hot Rods tasting.

The thrilling success of the song is instantly emulated by Wasting Time, this showing distinct and sultry personality with its first flame of blues and surf rock enriched glaze of guitar. It is a tempting which never leaves the rigorous lure of the song, only lays in wait during moments of predatory riffing for the chance to again soak subsequent melodies and harmonies. A radiant gem of a suasion for body and emotions, the song leaves for closer When We were Young to bring the infectious shindig to a close. Toying with synth rock and indie pop within its alluring body, the track is a tenaciously satisfying end to a release which makes you groan in disappointment once its last note is cast.

The Difficult Second Album hits the sweet spot time and time again across its nostalgia and modern infused body, and even when it misses the target for individual tastes, it still leaves a feverish and lingering wake which only leads to a hunger for more.

The Difficult Second Album is available now via LBH Records @ http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00MPNSP9I/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1634&creative=19450&creativeASIN=B00MPNSP9I&linkCode=as2&tag=uberoc-21&linkId=N5K5ZLSPALFB6SUJ

http://web.little-big-head.de/

RingMaster 17/11/2014

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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