Reviews May 2017

Reviews May 2017


Gemma & The Travellers

‘Too Many Rules And Games’  – Album

Legere Recordings are well-known for being one of the foremost soul, R&B and funk labels in Europe and are absolutely the right home for Gemma & The Travellers. This is their debut album and it has been a long time in coming. Over the last four or five years, Gemma & The Travellers have released a succession of danceable, catchy R&B/soul infused singles and slowly building a fan base across Europe. The New Untouchables recognised the potential and have welcomed the band to Shoreditch Got Soul and the Brighton Weekender in the past, but we were particularly pleased to host the official UK launch of this album. What we have are nine original compositions that show exactly why they are on a label that includes New Mastersounds, Mighty Mocambos and Nick Pride to name but three. From the first track ‘I Keep On Thinking’, you know this band is the real deal. With Gemma Marchi giving her customary fine vocal performance, superbly backed by Damien Barbe on keyboards, Kevin Hoffman on saxophone, Robert Petersson on guitar and a top-notch rhythm section of Alan Beckman on bass and Robin Tixier on drums. ‘Where I Lived Before’ is a slice of pure proper R&B, while ‘Take My Heart And Breathe’ is as fine-a-ballad as you could hear anywhere; oozing with emotion and soul. The showstopper for my money is ‘Please Don’t Forget My Name’, delivered with real punch and power. You know the saying ‘good things come to those who wait’? Well if you have been waiting for this album, it really has been worth it. If you have never heard of this band before now, you need to check them out. After all, Craig Charles isn’t a bad judge of music, and he’s a fan.

Stone Foundation

‘Street Rituals’ – Album

Stone Foundation are a band that has defied all the odds. Their success story should be a shining example to any band or artist that is hoping to progress their career without selling your soul to a ‘major’ label or Simon Cowell. This album came out just after the last edition of Nutsmag, hence the slightly late review. It has entered the official UK charts and the band is currently on a sell-out tour to support the album. So how have they got to these dizzy heights? In my opinion, the mark of a great band is when each album is better and surpasses the previous one. Such is the case with Stone Foundation. ‘Find The Spirit’ was great; ‘A Love Unlimited’ was brilliant, this album, ‘Street Rituals’ is a masterpiece. It is the latest installment from a group of musicians who have remained dedicated, committed, determined and focused on the art of writing great songs in the belief that their hard work will eventually be recognised, and so it has proved to be. ‘Ah yes’, I hear you say, ‘but they had Weller helping on this one, so they couldn’t lose.’ It’s a fair point, but I would argue, a misguided one and I will address the ‘Weller’ issue a little later. For now, let’s look at the product. To pick a few highlights from these ten tracks is a task I find very difficult such is the high standard. As I have listened through it, my ‘favourite track’ has changed six times already. Whether it’s ‘Limit Of A Man’(shades of Style Council here), ‘Strange People’, ‘Back In The Game’ or the title track, I can’t choose. They are all unbelievably brilliant. They are songs of hope inspired and influenced by 70’s American soul, while being undeniably British soul. It’s that ‘je ne se quoi’ that sets British soul apart from the Americans. Soul2Soul had it, as did the Brand New Heavies for example and now Stone Foundation have it. As for Mr Paul Weller? He should be given the 2017 Producer Of The Year award right now for this album. Yes he plays and sings on the album and co-wrote a few tunes, but I get the sense he was energised by the whole project and it comes across in his performances. Neil Jones’ voice works so well with Mr Wellers’, ‘hand and glove’ come to mind. And I think two people also deserve special mention; engineer Charles Rees and percussionist Rob Newton. Great job fellas.


‘Love Says Yes’ album

It has been some time since I last reviewed a release by SoulNaturals. Apart from a small handful of impressive singles, the output has been sparse, but that has mostly been due to this album being recorded and it is well worth the wait. With Tony Cannam at the helm, SoulNaturals tend to use an array of vocal talent rather than one focal singer. This album of 11 quality tracks features 10 different vocalists and each one gives a great performance. Arguably, the most notable among them is Mr. Dave Barker (of Dave and Ansell Collins fame) on ‘Let Freedem Ring’; as sweet-a-ballad as you could wish for. Other standout tracks include ‘I Got Sunshine (Enough For The World) featuring Jo Kelsey, ‘I Never Knew A Hell Like You’ with Gloria Pryce and ‘Oh Lord When Will You Free Me’; a lilting gentle reggae-meets-gospel corker with Nadia Pimentel taking the vocal duties. A couple of years ago, it really looked as if SoulNaturals were going to explode on to the soul scene. They were certainly very popular on the live circuit, so with this album to promote, they have a winner on their hands and the live dates can’t be far off.

The Neighbourhood Strange

‘Let’s Get High’ b/w ‘One Last Chance’ – Single

This new single from the ever impressive Neighbourhood Strange brings two quality cuts of garage/neo-psych. All the component parts are present and correct; jangly guitars, catchy hook-lines and Hammond organ. ‘Let’s Get High’ is a mid-paced grower, while ‘One Last Chance’ is a slower, more deliberate song delivered with just the right amount of gusto. This Salisbury outfit is definitely one to watch out for and I, for one, will be keeping a keen eye out for the next installment.

 The Missing Souls

‘The End’ b/w ‘Mom, Won’t You Teach Me How To Monkey’ – Digital Single

The French scene is thriving right now with some really great bands making their presence felt and the Missing Souls from Lyon are no exception. They have been together for three years and gaining decent support for their brand of 60s influenced garage. Zaza, Ricky, Ian and Lester have been very impressive and this digital single continues to build on their repertoire. ‘The End’ is a proper rocking good time, while ‘Mom…’ is a slower R&B-styled groover. It all bodes well for the future and here’s hoping they will be tempted to come to the UK for live shows. I think we would all be in for a treat.


‘Spring’ EP

I first became aware of Mayfield with their album ‘Tempo Of Your Soul’ in 2013. Last year they released ‘Keep On The Soul Side’ while simultaneously band leader Domonic Elton built a new studio facility in his neck of the woods. But something a bit special has happened in the meantime and this EP shows exactly what that is. Their 2013 album was very good indeed, but it didn’t show just how good Mayfield are, especially when you see them play live. This EP carries three tracks, two of which are tunes given a total make-over from that album. ‘Fling’ and ‘Sunshine’ are almost unrecognisable from their previous arrangements. What is most notable is that Mayfield has found the polished soul that was lacking four years ago. I had to revisit the old versions just to remind myself and what a transformation has taken place. Superb. ‘Fling’ is now a sumptuous jazz-funk belter, while ‘Sunshine’ is descended from the great days of Acid Jazz; punchy brass, great hook-line and typically British Soul. However, I have saved the best until last. ‘This Time Around’ featuring Decosta Boyce is a soul/northern crossover monster of a tune. I love the ‘What’s Goin’ On’ style ‘Ooos and Ahhs’, the chugging guitar, driving drums and Dacosta delivers the lyrics with stylish aplomb. Of course, Andy Lewis deserves great credit for the mix as well. So welcome back Mayfield. I’m told the vinyl will be available in October, so this is download only for the time being.


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Graham Lentz

AKA ‘The Baron’ - Like many of his generation, The Jam started Graham's love affair with all things mod back in 1977. He is the author of 'The Influential Factor - A History Of Mod' which was originally published in 2002. An extract from the book was re-printed in Paolo Hewitt's 'The Sharper Word - revised edition' in 2011. Being a self-confessed 'broad-church' mod, Graham's interests range from Modern Jazz to today's up-coming new bands and everything in between. Although he has a passion for mod history, he also has a passion for the new. Whether it's music, clubs, media of every kind, clothing, scooters or art and photography, Graham supports, promotes and encourages as much as he can, because that's how we keep going. 'Give it a chance' is his motto. If it's not for you, that's cool, at least you tried it.

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May 9, 2017 By : Category : Articles,Front Page,Music,Picks,Reviews Tags:, , , , , , ,
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