Into Music Reviews: New Music August 2023
We are now in the midst of summer, sunshine (cough) always adds an extra skip in the step and as we ‘enjoy’ the weather, what better way to do so than with the coolest of cool tunes engulfing our ears. So, dear reader, read on to discover the best new music currently out there.
Artist: The New Fools
It’s just a year since The New Fools released their last album Vanille, but the band have been busy writing and recording new material which is now out in the form of a brand new long player in Seashells.
Releasing albums reasonably close together can at times be a risk with a dilution of quality but there is none of that here. In fact, the band’s sound has grown substantially in those twelve months and the musicianship and songs see the Cambridge five-piece raise the bar again.
First up is the instrumental Mr Grimsdale and we hear actor Norman Wisdom in the background manically shouting on his comic foil before the track kicks in. Right away, the funky bass line sets the scene for a psychedelic trip which includes an organ sound Clint Boon would be proud of and a freestyle saxophone fusing it all together.
(Oh Yeah) Making Plans For Nigel is typical New Fools, a pop song exquisitely executed that simply rattles along. The drum and bass rhythm section in the background sets the template for guitar and organ magic and Tony Jenkins vocal. Wouldn’t it be good to hear XTC’s Colin Moulding’s view on this one!
The band take it down a notch with Tickets Still Available At The Door, a more lamentable and melancholic feel about the life of bands who play the small venues/pub scene. The lyrics are the star here. For example, ‘the part time pop stars take the floor’ and ‘they really give it their all, like it is Wembley or The Albert Hall, not the backroom of The Bull here on a wet Thursday’, yet still retaining a loyal fan base who won’t miss them when they play the local town.
Building on that lyrical point, Chorlton & The Wheelies harps back to times gone by, referencing cultural points like Rentaghost, Ghost Town and Murphy’s Mob but also looking forward to the future and asking if the next generation will be singing Idles and Black Country, New Road in fifty years time?
The sound on the album is augmented by Martin Seabrook on saxophone and James Stygall on trumpet and beyond that there are contributions from seven other musicians which help keep the sound varied and interesting from start to finish.
Elsewhere, I’m Not Your Messiah sees the band channel their inner and more mature Madness, piano a la Barson with a jaunty banjo and a harmonious backing vocal which is simple but utterly effective. A $outhern $oul quickly follows and sees the sound veer off in a northern soul direction. The brass instrumentation is the star here.
The New Fools have emphatically added to their repertoire with the release of Seashells. Go seek them out, you will not be disappointed.
For more on the band, head to their website here. Seashells by The New Fools is released on 21 July.
Artist: The Hannah Barberas
Album: Fantastic Tales Of The Sea
Label: Subjangle (CD)/ Spinout Nuggets (vinyl)/ Gazer (cassette)
Still on a nautical album name theme we find the four-piece from New Cross, London are back with the follow up to their 2020 debut album, Into The Wild. Twelve tracks coming in at 38 minutes would indicate mainly three-minute pop songs and, by and large, that’s what we get here.
You’re So opens up and it’s a belter, a feet-movin’, hip-swivellin’, pop-tastic groover featuring a wonderful joint vocal from Lucy Formolli and Damien Devaney. Ian Evans (bass) and Matthew Chalkey (drums) provide a rhythmic backbeat and the introduction of Trevor Fountain’s saxophone is inspired.
The sound on the album is based on pop, strung out melodies and C86 vibes, You’re A Camera being a case in point, shut your eyes and this could be the Shop Assistants back in the day at their finest. Great stuff! That said, The Hannah Barberas have the chops to change it up and go down a different, diverse path at times. Ugly Cry showcases this, a more laid back, contemplative sound as does Happy Winter, Formolli’s vocal just stunning.
Picking up the pace again is Party From Hell, the Spanish guitars jangle then jangle some more with an insatiable bent that is reminiscent of early Orange Juice. Highlight of the album? It’s a yes from me!
A feature we are seeing more and more of is bands using brass to augment their sound and that’s evident on the northern soul-esque Love Them! Tell Them! It’s all brass and no filler, possibly inspired by Knock On Wood?
It’s fair to say the sound is polished, the band know their way round the songs and they all contribute at various points, the bass on When You Were My Boyfriend is the glue that holds the track together, while on the album’s title track, the feel is more loose but the guitar hook stands out like a belisha beacon.
If you are new to The Hannah Barberas, this is the ideal introduction to their music. If you know them already, then well, you know, right! For more on the band and to order the album, head over to their Bandcamp page here.
Artist: Gerry Son & The Smokin’ Gun
Single: Ghost In The Machine
Without a doubt one of the most exciting bands on the Scottish scene, Gerry Son & The Smokin’ Gun are back with their first new music in a couple of years. Ghost In The Machine is the first of four planned singles ahead of their new album Gallus In Wonderland which is due to drop later in 2023.
The track fuses elements of funk and rock akin to the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Rage Against The Machine, the bass it’s foundation while the guitar reaches a sonic pinnacle as the song reaches its climax. Subtle brass and synths come through in waves for what is a strong opener from the band’s hotly anticipated new album.
Lyrically delving into anxiety, self doubt and paranoia, it’s quite a trip. Interestingly, the video for the track was recorded in an abandoned mental hospital and the images along with the lyrics fit hand in glove.
The Stirling-based four-piece are also due to play a number of Scottish dates over the coming weeks and months including Falkirk’s Vibration Festival (1 September) and an album launch in HMV Stirling (11 November).
Keep up to date with Gerry Son & The Smokin’ Gun via their website here.