Tom Brosseau – Grass Punks



    Tom Brosseau is a folksinger and songwriter from North Dakota who has forged his own distinct place in the genre, a presence which, maybe still an unknown for a fair few, is one of those once bitten lingeringly enticed propositions. With a distinctive voice matched by his acoustic guitar invention earning him waves of acclaim and recognition through records and live performances, the now LA based artist releases new album Grass Punks. It is a release which crafts an appealing and at times irresistible encounter and though it does not quite light personal fires throughout, the album lures attendance and attention across its appealing endeavour.

    From learning the acoustic guitar through his grandmother whilst he was in grade school, Brosseau has gone on to perform across the US and UK, into Europe and on to the likes of Japan, Australia, and Taiwan. He has played and shared stages with the likes of John C. Reilly, Becky Stark, John Doe, Juliana Hatfield, PJ Harvey, as well as John Reilly & Friends whilst his previous releases has led to his songs being covered by artists such as Chris Thile, Silje Nes, Emily & Christy, and Mice Parade. Collaborations with Gregory Page in a duo called American Folksingers and with Angela Correa in the duo Les Shelleys which led to a Fat Cat Records released album in 2010 has also marked his career to date. All has added to the acclaim and stature of Brosseau earned by his own creativity which the new album again enhances.

      Released via Crossbill Records USA /Tin Angel Records and produced by Sean Watkins (Nickel Creek), Grass Punks takes tom-brosseaulittle time in gripping attention and a swiftly growing appetite with opener Cradle Your Device. From the dark heavy bass strum and melodic caresses around the mellow voice of Brosseau which opens up the track, an addictive potency frees its enticement to wrap around the senses and imagination. There is an eagerness and almost punk simplicity to the track which is impossible to ignore or resist, and admittedly generally move on from without a couple of replay hits before entering into the rest of the album. It is a dramatically virulent and emotive delve into a technology hampered relationship and the pinnacle of the album which instantly puts pressure on the rest of the release.

   It is a challenge most prove to be up for as after the relaxed temptation of Stuck On The Roof Again makes an enjoyable persuasion the combined lures of Tami and Today Is A Bright New Day brings reactions back up to another eager level. The first of this pair is a softly spoken increasingly infectious melodic breeze upon the ears; vocal harmonies and the poetic elegance of the guitars blending for a delightful enterprising and contagious caress. Its successor is more of a slow burner in its persuasion. Certainly it makes an appealing entrance and initial allurement but it is as passion and melodic intensity increases just a few degrees in warmth and energy that the song comes alive and strolls to almost anthemic choruses which simply invigorate the emotions.

    Both Love High John the Conqueror Root with its XTC/Andy Partridge like guitar and melodic enterprise laced with an intriguing amount of discord and Running from Zombies which simultaneously seduces and smothers to make you feel trapped and liberated such its close quarters melodic persuasion and brewing intensity, next give the imagination a blaze of impressive stimulus to devour and enjoy. They make light of the plateau set by the first song to rival it in strength and invention if not in contagion. From here on in though, the album for personal tastes does not lead the emotions to the same depths as bred by earlier tracks. Songs like Gregory Page of San Diego and I Love to Play Guitar are more than decent and skilfully sculpted pieces of songwriting and presented beautifully but fail to trigger anything more than satisfaction beyond the ears. The same applies to closing song We Were Meant to Be Together which ensures the album comes to a strong and passionate conclusion yet escapes sparking any lingering hunger for itself.

     Grass Punks is a release of two halves in many ways but one pleasing and creative adventure which entertains and impresses overall. When it is at its full potency the album is a captivating gem whilst the moments which do not spark up, what are again just personal tastes and needs, still only show a class and imaginative craft which reveals Tom Brosseau as a folk artist certain to continue to stretch and invigorate the genre.


RingMaster 20/01/2014

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Mice Parade – Candela


    Mice Parade has never created music which feeds the unadventurous and lazy, and has always conjured up sounds to stretch and inspire the imagination as well as in many ways challenge the senses with its diverse and eclectic use of aural ideas and textures. New album Candela is no different, the seventh full length release from the band being in their own words their ‘pop’ album, and one which certainly takes time to make its full persuasion but rewards richly for the extended effort in exploring all its shady corners, inviting shadows, and thrilling light.

Essentially the solo project of New Yorker and multi-instrumentalist Adam Pierce for which he additionally recruits musicians of equal vision and inventive mind set, Mice Parade is again a release which explores a multitude of sounds globally and in style for an impacting experience which can seduce or equally trouble the senses, both extremes equally rewarding and magnetically pleasing. Released via Fatcat Records, Candela is named after a late-night bar in Madrid which is renowned as a flamenco guitar players’ Mecca. As with previous releases the album has a hunger to investigate and develop not to forget share, numerous rhythmic and melodic world searched aural discoveries re-invented into unique and compelling new shades and voices. The band has never been an immediate persuasion for personal tastes and Candela is no different but as is generally the norm once asked and given that extra attention and time it unveils another enjoyable flood of inspiring and intriguing enterprise from the band.

One essence of the band which has always found an inexhaustible acceptance here is the veining of discord which either whispers ortimthumb prowls amidst their music and none more so than in opener Listen Hear Glide Dear. The track is a caustic wash of sonic unrest and folk invitation coated in an unsettling distrustful ambience which intrudes and permeates every atom of the senses to disrupt their ease and open the doors to provocation. Dirge like in its gait and abrasive in its embrace, the track leaves the emotions ringing from its jangly rub allowing the following Currents to slip in to its place with ease and bewitching temptation. From its restrained start big bulging rhythms and a lovely throaty bassline saunters across the ear whilst the fiery touch of the guitar ensures that there is still a sinister element at play. The delicious vocals of Caroline Lufkin (Temporary Residence) lay a siren like hand upon the passions to temper and equally feed the now agitated formidable rhythmic dance which almost bruises the listener within the rising and coarse sonic embrace permeating the air. It is a tremendous opening to the album, the two tracks in their distinct individuality uniting for a startling and inciting introduction to the release.

Next up This River Has A Tide continues the potency with further intensity and beauty which rival and complement each other. It starts with a continuation of the rough handling of the ear with the rhythms as punchy as ever and the bass developing a carnivorous appetite to its great corrosive sound matched by the guitar. Either side of their first appearance though there is a flamenco whispering elegance which is just irresistible, the spiralling melodic keys and soft guitar beckoning the scalding snarl mentioned and regaining their control on the other side with further  magnetic weaves of melodic enterprise and that vocal mesmerism. The merger of the two is a towering wall of almost savage intensity and greed veined by elegant and transfixing melodic beauty. It is a masterful merger and thrill aided by the dual switching vocals of Pierce and Lufkin.

Across the lively funk appetite of Pretending within a more reserved cage, things take another pleasing turn of variety and adventure. As the twin vocal attack take their turns to express the narrative things brew up in energy and stance to explode in a rumbling rhythmic and feisty dance of pop excitement. As the album, the song twists and offshoots into further engaging looks and exploration whilst holding clinging to its spine driving destination. The track does not ignite the same strength of fires as previous songs but still enthrals and opens up a well of thoughts and emotions with its invention and unpredictable ingenuity.

Through the wonderful instrumentals of The Chill House, a piece which is as meditative as it is an itch upon the senses and Look See Dream Me with its immersive temptation the sun of the album discovers its easiest yet warmest hold whilst the folk swagger of Las Gentes Interesantes is like the rising sun, hot, enchanting, and easy to bask within without any resistance offering objection. Admittedly the ‘quieter’ latter half of the album does not quite inspire the height of ardour as the first but with songs like this there is never a moment not to acclaim.

With a final highlight in Contessa and a return of those big sinewy rhythms framing the ever stunning vocals of Lufkin as well as a sonic tango of riveting and interplaying melodic expression and invention, before the pulsating closer Warm Hand in Narnia, the album is a striking and deeply satisfying endeavour. It takes and needs time to reveal all of its glories and purpose but Candela makes sure the rewards far outweigh the effort.


RingMaster 15/04/2013

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