Serious Sam Barrett.

Split EP.
Yadig? Records.

Reviewer - Sam Walby.

Leeds-based singer songwriter Serious Sam Barrett has teamed up with Alabama country outfit the Pine Hill Haints to record a limited edition split 10" ahead of the release of his upcoming second album. Complete with signed, hand screen printed sleeve, this is an attractive package containing four tracks of authentic country, bluegrass and blues and also comes with an accompanying CD.

Barrett's first contribution is 'Rock 'n' Roll Heart', a heartbroken lament about love lost and finding solace in his favourite songs: "So I put on some Jerry Lee / It took away the pain / And I felt like I was walking the streets of Tennessee again". Based around an accomplished guitar line with a bluesy strum-pick pattern, the track has a carefree, melodic construction and the vocals remind me a little of Van Morrisson. His second offering 'Truckstop Sunrise' is somewhat reminiscent of Charlie Parr or the Tallest Man on Earth's self-titled EP, containing a kind of vitality and optimism that I sometimes feel is lacking from contemporary singer songwriters.

The first Pine Hill Haints track, '16 Coal Black Houses', opens with a banjo and harmonica intro before settling into a rolling country rhythm underlined by booming double bass. The lyrics talk of the band's roots in Alabama and for obvious reasons their sound is much more American than Barrett's, but the tracks complement each other well. Similarly, 'The Nail That Rises Up Will Be Hammered Down' is another country excursion, this time with a slightly distorted acoustic guitar which lends an almost punk sentiment. Although it is less exciting than its predecessor, I can imagine this song really working in a live setting, with group harmonies adding a new dimension to the main vocal line.

Sam Barrett and his merry touring troupe are as DIY as they come. Help support them by buying the record and CD at jumborecords.co.uk.

Roots Manuva.

4everevolution.
Big Dada.

Reviewer - Imogen Decordova.

Every year we have the predictable furore surrounding the purpose of the MOBOs - that's the Music of Black Origin Awards to those who don't take too kindly to acronyms. The whole point of the awards is called into question as the complexion of most of those nominated slides towards the paler end of the spectrum and more of the music gets the club pop overhaul courtesy of Calvin Harris, David Guetta and fellow audio prostitute Pitbull. I'm not averse to a bit of latino reggaeton and some Daddy Yankee, but this euro club chart invasion has got to stop somewhere. I digress.

Far be it for anyone to complain about the purity of 'black culture' or the supposed evolution of music of black origin as opposed to the dilution of it. Does the term really have any relevance at all if the folks making this music are all the colours of the rainbow? Again, I digress.

Rodney Smith's latest gift to the world is a mish-mash of electro, 'wonky reggae', garage, hip hop and funk, which despite this description doesn't really slot into what one's neatly-formed preconceptions of black and British music might be.

Having confessed to being more about the subtleties in his music these days, his 'Witness the Fitness' on this album comes in the guise of a nonetoo- subtle dancefloor number. Those who haven't heard the radio edit of the Toddla T collab 'Watch Me Dance' have obviously been living under a very accommodating rock this summer. Working some 80s synths and syncopated claps, the track fits well with Smiths's off-key and purposefully lazy delivery. 'Skid Valley' is the antithesis of 'Watch Me Dance'. Bleak, overcast broken Britain - "Birth place of the gentleman / Who ain't gentle when / He wants to gentrify" - is dissected as Smith discusses the perils of gastric bands and the irony of immigration: "Get off the boat and chase the dream". The climatic, string-accompanied chorus is provided by Skin from angsty 90s group Skunk Anansie, who I think once won a Kerrang award.

'Wha Mek' is a sombre ballad about the frustration of not living up to the expectations of others. The upbeat, distorted steel drum effects offset Ricki Rankin's evangelical warblings quite nicely. My personal favourite 'Here We Go Again' features a pulsating, ominous bassline that nods towards George Clinton's 'Atomic Dog' and remains on the right side of wob wob, without a drop. Phew.

Smith's deep and (for want of a better word) creamy tones provide a distinctive stamp on his own and other's releases without any sign of waning or irritating. Banana Klan member Ricki Rankin can also be heard all over the shop, while 'The Path' features youthful Gamelan mistress and fellow Big Dadaist Elan Tamara. The album plays host to a number of disparate elements in terms of guest appearances and influences, all of which come together to create a very British commonwealth dish, one that is itself deep and creamy. I digress. Just give him the Mercury music prize or something.

Botany.

Feeling Today.
Western Vinyl.

Reviewer - Jack Scourfield.

The press release for Botany's Feeling Today EP claims, as such accompanying info sheets are prone to do, that this is a record that, "draws upon many a genre but settles in none". It wouldn't surprise me if the PR for Jedward's 2010 opus Planet Jedward also laid claim to being an indefinable genrespanning enigma, as using such a turn of phrase is a handy way of slacking off from actually labelling a release with any kind of meaningful description, while making both the writer and the artist seem like a bit of a clever clogs in the process. The trouble is that when you don't lazily categorize something as 'uncategorisable' before tossing your pen down to kick back and gurgle along to Lee Nelson's Well Good Show, you start having to think of names for the pigeon-holes that you feel a song belongs in, and this is when tags such as 'post-dubstep', 'witch house' and - remember this old favourite? - 'nu rave' start to rear their ugly heads.

Botany's music would probably fall under the umbrella term 'chillwave', a now well-established but still ridiculously named genre, but after a while of listening to this EP you start to wonder whether it hails from a world where they don't even bother with such nuisances as words, and certainly not crudely fashioned genre names. To my mind the only possible ways of conjuring up such ethereal delicacies is to either barter at great length with cherubs, or hire some kind of well-meaning, hazy electronica-orientated Freddy Krueger type character to carefully pluck them from the world of dreams.

Teebs, Boards of Canada and 'Pause'-era Four Tet clearly got together at some point and decided that it should be Botany's duty to don the stripy red and black jumper and fedora, and harvest the most sparkling of gems from Dreamworld. The EP's opening track 'Feeling Today' is a gently ebbing and flowing chorale as interpreted by a Disney fairy, with glistening arpeggios swirling over a comfortingly patient throb, while 'Minnow Theme' feels like an eavesdrop in on a celestial production line, steady stamps and whirrs interspersed with distant snatches of blissful harmonising. 'Waterparker' begins with an excitedly jumbled rush of digital chatter, before emerging into a whirl of bright colours accompanied by a nostalgically pre-electronica drum beat.

'Bennefactress' dips the record into a more contemplative mood, before closer 'Agave' wishes you goodnight and good luck with the sound of muffled boogie softly seeping up from the final throes of an otherworldly subterranean party. This is an EP that doesn't so much "draw upon many a genre but settles in none", but rather "draws upon many a realm, and settles in this one". They'll be saying that about Planet Jedward as well one day, you mark my words.

Various Artists.

Club60 Singles Club No 1.
Club60 Music.

Reviewer - Herbert Soden.

In the early 60s, Club 60 was a popular jazz and blues venue that hosted luminaries like John Lee Hooker & Joe Cocker. Now it contains a state-ofthe- art analogue studio complex and is launching a series of limited edition double 7" vinyl singles.

As with any compilation, the tracks on Club 60 Singles Club No 1 are variations on a theme - in this case radio-friendly blues rock - with the odd surprise. The single gets off to a good start with the melancholy 'June July' by the Don Genes, who sound like the best bits of Kasabian, Muse, and Radiohead stitched together. This genre has been much maligned, but as the Don Genes show, when it is performed well it is powerful stuff.

The rock continues with 'In Remission' by the Oblongs. Although perhaps a bit light in the new ideas stakes, the fuzzy guitars and bluesy female vocals make this pleasant listening. That being said, now is the time to raise my objection to clichéd lyrics like: "I just wanna be one of the boys / I just wanna make a little noise."

Moving swiftly on, we have 'Fridge' by Black Cat, White Cat, who play competent bluesy rock. Am I the detecting a pattern here? As with all of the bands on this single, I can't fault the musicianship, but I feel that atavistic homage is no substitute for new ideas.

The last track is 'Doors' by Michael Eden, a soporific and wistful track in the sad breakup school of song writing. I don't usually pay much attention to this kind of music, but as it marks such a huge departure from the rest of the single I am forced to take notice. In this track we have a nice whooshing backdrop, gentle melodic guitars and vocals that are pitched at just the right level.

If blues-tinged rock tinged with melodic singer songwriter elements is your thing then you will probably enjoy this release. The vinyl pressing is strictly limited, so pick it up while stocks last.