Sunday, August 26, 2007

i wish i knew you before

I first heard "Mr Rock and Roll" a couple of weeks ago following a link from one of those generic record company e-mails you get from time to time. I can't say I thought much of it - it sounded like daft folky nonsense to me.

I heard it again last week whilst watching the Box and this time something about it (the fella in the video, if I'm honest) caught my attention. I found myself singing it later on that evening and so, having had a quick listen to snippets of other stuff on her website, I thought I'd give it a whirl.

I don't know which music god is smiling down on us at the moment, but every album I seem to buy is turning out to be utterly brilliant. This is certainly no exception. Its a jangly, folky kind of sound and she sounds in places like Dolores off of the Cranberries but it's one of those albums that after a just couple of listens you find yourself singing along to.

The single "Mr Rock and Roll" is a genius pop song, and the new single "LA" (written about the huge crush she has on Jake Gyllenhall) also stands out.

What I really like about Amy Macdonald though is that it proves that teenage singer-songwriters are capable not only of writing catchy pop tunes but also good, interesting lyrics. "Footballers Wife" is a great example - a sardonic take on the culture of "celebrity" in the modern world. The modern breed of singer songwriters appear to think it sufficient to steal riffs from the 80s and babble over them in estuary English about the row they had with their boyfriend, the cheese on toast they had for lunch or how late their bus was. So, as an antidote to the Allen's and Penate's and Nash's of this world, we have a girl who is actually capable of writing decent lyrics. And that's a reason in itself to buy this superb album.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

don't just stand there, open your eyes

I’m not entirely sure how I came across this lot, to be honest. Well, I say “this lot” – Ben’s Brother are (in a Cherry Ghost kind of way) one fella (Jamie Hartman) who, to avoid the “singer-songwriter” tag put the album out under the band name.

Possibly unfair on the other four. Who knows?

“Beta Male Fairytales” was released last week and managed a creditable number 24 spot in the album chart despite neither of their singles so far gaining (a) much airplay or (b) a top 40 position.

This album is, quite equivocally, a grower. At first, I thought the songs pretty much morphed into once gently lilting track, sung by someone from a Rod Stewart tribute act. However, after several plays (and despite the fact that Hartman does sound alarmingly like Rod on more than one occasion), I have grown to really love this record.

It’s a pretty generic, inoffensive sound whilst being simultaneously difficult to pigeonhole. Listening to it with your eyes closed, it’s a sound which makes you feel like you are in the window seat of a diner in middle America somewhere, drinking bottomless coffee whilst lazily watching the world go by. It’s a bit Counting Crows-y (other than the voice), I suppose, and the nicely crafted harmonica melodies have a Billy Joel-esque quality.

The standout tracks are the excellent opening song “Rise” and the first single “Let Me In”, both of which build to a really catchy chorus whilst avoiding being too sentimental or clichéd.

You can pick up the album on iTunes for £5.99 and in the shops for £5.98, and so I’d heartily recommend it. It won’t pull up any trees in terms of its originality, but after a few listens it’s a selection of brilliantly crafted songs and the perfect accompaniment for a glass of white in the garden with the sun going down.