Into Music Reviews: New Music November 2023
As there’s been some great new music releases over the recent weeks and months, the Into Creative turntable has been working overtime playing some tip top vinyl. The usual digital platforms have also been in quite a bit of use as we’ve been discovering a wide, varied and steady supply of great music. So dear reader, and listener, strap yourself in, and check out these rather cool recommendations.
Artist: Jasmine Minks
Album: We Make Our Own History
Label: Last Night From Glasgow/Spinout Nuggets
We’ve seen the likes of Altered Images and The Bluebells releasing new music for the first time in decades recently and now it is the turn of Aberdeen’s Jasmine Minks with the release of long player We Make Our Own History. This is their first album in more than two decades and there are no cobwebs on display here. This is full tilt, head on independent pop music at its finest.
Ahead of the November release, the band have released three singles to date and it is safe to say they whet the appetite with that trademark sound, harmonies, sweeping guitars, stand out vocals and melodies. You Broke More Than Just Your Mother’s Heart hit like a train, the guitar solo towards the end aching with beauty. She Knows is more in your face, coming in at less than three minutes, it reverberates and rattles with an immediate sense of pace, focus and guile which makes it stand out as a likely live favourite. The latest single, Skyward shows the band at the other end of their spectrum. More layered than its predecessors, the song’s textured tones, adept and more orchestral in sound, perfectly showcase Jim Shepherd’s uplifting vocal.
So much to like on this album, whether it’s the hammond organ on Kill and its “ba ba ba ba” refrain, to the breezy Never Been Lucky and its lyrics of luck and love, the quirks of Wild Heart or the majesty of the title track, We Make Our Own History this truly is a stand out album. It’s no surprise though, Jasmine Minks were, of course, on Creation Records back in the day and this collection of eleven tracks is nuanced, interesting and draws you in without even really appearing to try. It’s that good and then some.
Dancing Till Dawn surely has single number four written all over it while the closing When They Fall is quite epic, grand, unabashed and will leave you wanting more. Only one thing for it then, play the album again!
To order the new Jasmine Minks album, We Make Our Own History, head over to the LNFG website here.
Artist: Swansea Sound
Album: Twentieth Century
Label: Skep Wax Records
A few weeks ago, late at night, I found myself listening to BBC6 Music when the dulcet tones of Riley & Coe introduced Swansea Sound in session. Immediately, I was reeled in to their track Markin’ It Down, hook, line and sinker. A song that was, and still is, the proverbial earworm, I ordered the vinyl online there and then. No other songs were needed to convince me this was a band I wanted in my life. Indie-pop at its finest and no wonder, the band includes members who were in Talulah Gosh, Heavenly, Pooh Sticks and Death In Vegas.
Hue Williams and Amelia Fletcher share vocal duties and the album is nothing short of sensational. Paradise, I Made A Work Of Art and Greatest Hits Radio keep that indie vibe to the forefront in what is likely to be one of my albums of the year.
The album and more can be ordered from the Swansea Sound Bandcamp page here. The band also hit the road with dates at Glasgow Mono on February 16th and Leith Depot on February 17th – more details via their Facebook page here.
Artist: Standard Fare
EP: Huw Stephens Session 01.07.10
Label: Precious Recordings of London
Continuing that fine tradition of bands to come out of Sheffield, Standard Fare were a three-piece featuring Emma Kupa (vocals/bass), Andy Beswick (drums) and Danny How (guitar). The story of this BBC session highlights the band as being utterly exhausted following a show at SXSW and feeling completely out of place in the cavernous recording studio. If that indeed was the case, then the recordings sure don’t show it. Opener Philadelphia is strong, the band on form and come across great here, while Dancing, another from their live set, is perhaps a little slow to build up but once it gets there, the attitude and indie sensibilities spill out of the speakers ostentatiously.
In short, it’s a great snapshot of a band who, while perhaps not so sure of themselves at that point, have left behind a musical snippet of their being that shows they did have the songs. And for me, those songs have lasted the test of time. Another vital addition to the Precious catalogue which can be bought here.
Artist: Royal Ottawa
Like the Loch Ness Monster, the mystery of Royal Ottawa is hard to fathom, difficult to get to the bottom of but trust me, persevere and the bounty will be plentiful. So what do we know? Well, at one point in the early 1980s they were known as Bugs Harvey Oswald and were a staple of the local Ottawa music scene (having possibly started in Ireland) quickly forming a reputation as a damn fine live act, mixing up punk and post punk to good effect yet still having style, panache and coolness to set them apart from so many other bands at the time.
Then, radio silence for years until a CD release in 1996. After that, nothing until an album in the shape of The World We Know was released in 2015. Then, yup, more radio silence until 2023 which brings us to the here and now. The release of new album Carcosa is quite something. Firstly, it’s a double album containing nineteen songs and secondly, it is bloody great!!!
Slipping Away has an oozy confidence, the sound of an underground where the cool bands play. Piercing guitar, lo-fi vocals, the rhythm section at their poppermost best, as an introduction to the album, it sets the scene magnificently. Horizon, with its plaintiff guitar sounds and acoustic indie wail is a delight, the addition of horns/brass adding a real cool dimension.
Elsewhere, Beautiful is exactly that, a track carved eloquently with pensive and dark lyrics, mouth organ and pronounced bass reminding me of early REM. As I said at the start, the backstory of Royal Ottawa is a bit of a mystery but what is clear is that Carcosa could well turn out to be their magnum opus, a fantastic album and one you need to hear……now!!
Artist: Even As We Speak
EPs: John Peel Sessions 16.02.92 & 20.02.93
Label: Precious Recordings of London
The moment you hear opener Stay With Me on the 1992 John Peel session you’ll get it. A little Clare Grogan in the vocal, a bit of fuzz guitar and a melody that most bands could only dream of, this is unadulterated indie rawk!!! There’s plenty going on here, Falling Down The Stairs has that indie/dance backdrop of the early ’90s. It’s a shame Andrew Weatherall didn’t get hold of this one for a remix.
Even As We Speak are from Sydney and while that was almost another world away back in the late 80s/early 90s, the tunes here show a band on top form, drawing influence from the U.K. scenesters but at the same time stamping their own mark on the music. Sure, they had to up sticks but what is undoubted is the quality across these two sessions recorded for John Peel a year apart in 1992 and 1993.
Indeed, by the time of the second session, the band had quit their jobs and decamped to the U.K. Signed to Sarah Records and with their album Feral Pop Frenzy making a considerable dent in the charts, the band are at the top of their game, Blue Eyes Deceiving Me showcasing their creative powers, subtle, harmonious with another great vocal while on (All You Found Is) Air, the band slow things down a little. The addition of saxophone from the Moodists Louise Elliot emits an altogether different and relaxed vibe.
Two great EPs which make both for a great introduction or to satisfy the completist fans of Even As We Speak. Keep up to date with the band via their website here and to order the sessions head to the Precious Recordings of London Bandcamp page here.