With Just A Hint Of Mayhem

Music trivia, useless info, extra added random stuff and the odd rant from me

‘Rough And Rowdy Ways’ – Bob Dylan July 2, 2020

Filed under: Review — justwilliam1959 @ 10:37 pm
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“Today and tomorrow and yesterday, too
The flowers are dying like all things do”

Thus begins Bob Dylan’s 39th studio album. His first of new material since 2012.

Bob is in a biblical mood on ‘Rough And Rowdy Ways’. He comes across like some kind of preacher. Each song an atmospheric sermon delivered over a melancholically minimalist sonic architecture. That minimalism is the main theme here, sonically. Many tunes eschew percussion completely, leaving a kind of softly strummed, string-drenched soundscape. Structurally, ‘Rough And Rowdy Ways’, seems to straddle two genres in the main: Blues and a kind of spiritual gospel, which fits perfectly the preacher/sermon comparisons.

Lyrically, this is a radically different album for Dylan. Where his past works wove an entirely original literary landscape (or universe) of fictional characters with roots in American folklore, ‘Rough And Rowdy Ways’ features real people and their literary creations. Gone are the Jokers, thieves and Sad Eyed Ladies Of The Lowlands. In their place you’ll find Anne Frank, Indiana Jones, JFK and all manner of other significant personalities from the last 60 years of Western culture. “I Contain Multitudes” is named for a line in Walt Whitman poem, for example.

Dylan of old was awash with metaphors and similes. Abstract imagery and far out concepts which Dylan absorbed from the worlds of art, music and literature. When he talked about “Ezra Pound & T.S. Eliot fighting in the captain’s tower” in “Desolation Row”, this was obviously used as a metaphor for the differences between their styles and for a young Bob Dylan to signal his literary love and knowledge. When he sings, on “Mother Of Muses”: “Sing of Sherman, Montgomery, and Scott/And of Zhukov, and Patton, and the battles they fought/who cleared the path for Presley to sing/who carved the path for Martin Luther King,” he really means, literally, to thank these generals and that Elvis and MLK couldn’t have done what they did without them. There’s no artifice or alternative interpretation. On ‘Rough And Rowdy Ways’, Bob says exactly what he means and means exactly what he says.

I don’t know if anyone would agree with this interpretation, but I get a feeling of encroaching mortality and tying up of loose ends from ‘Rough And Rowdy Ways’. It’s fair to say that Dylan is no spring chicken, and he’s not getting any younger, so I think it would be more surprising if he didn’t think about his own mortality. I already wrote, in my review of “Murder Most Foul”, that I thought Dylan was singing about things which had been occupying his thoughts for some time. I imagine when JFK was assassinated, Dylan thought to himself: ”I should write about that.” “Murder Most Foul” was, in my interpretation of the Dylan mythology, the old man finally achieving the ambitions of the young man.

This review has taken me longer than it should have because I have a had a hard time getting my thoughts in order about it, but in a display of serendipity, ‘Rough And Rowdy Ways’ made the news today, Friday 26th June, one week on from release. Today the BBC reported that Dylan has broken/set the record for oldest artist to have a number one album in the UK. This only a couple of short months on from Murder Most Foul becoming his first Billboard chart number one. We might all be having a rough year, but Bob Dylan seems to be having a great year. Career-wise. And where serendipity comes into this: if I had being able to write this review quicker, I would have missed this incredibly exciting news. <and if I had published it quicker you, dear reader, would have been reading this excellent piece from Tom in June! – Bill -Editor>

Written by Tom Ray.

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‘This Land Is Your Landfill’ – The Homeless Gospel Choir


Homeless Gospel Choir provide big bold anthemic guitars and vocals alternating with an alt country feel on some tracks. The Homeless Gospel Choir is in fact Derek Zanetti from Pennsylvania. His guitar and voice combine to make a pop punk sound. He has an individual vocal style and his lyrics are political in nature. Those lyrics are sometimes pretty cynical and are communicated with some pretty harmonies. This is especially true on the track “You Never Know”.

“Global Warming” opens the album with a flourish. There is a hint and even a mention of Green Day. “Don’t Compare” features some nice Guitar lines. “Social Real Estate” is rowdy and “in yer face” with a liberal sprinkling of knowing references to religion coupled with some great warped melodies. Album closer “Punk As Fuck” does exactly what it says on the tin. A much heavier feel than other tracks, while “Art Punk” uses a children’s chorus approach with an anthemic feel. Much of the music here has a flavour of early REM and the combination of laid back off kilter country alongside the big shouty punk style works really well. It would be great to hear from this artist in the near future.

Written by Paul Bamlett.

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‘Take Some Time’ EP – Tom McKenzie June 19, 2020

Filed under: Review — justwilliam1959 @ 6:30 pm
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Yorkshire singer songwriter Tom McKenzie released a new EP, ‘Take Some Time’ last month. I recommend that you do take some time to listen to it. It has a modern indie folk feel to it and Tom marries that to an innate ability to build a pop hook in a ballad kind of way using just vocals, guitar and banjo. It is a great set of songs to just spend time chilling with, maybe in a deck chair with a cold beer or a glass of wine. Tom’s songs are more than just songs, they are stories that are sung. Given when these tunes were recorded I am sure that the COVID-19 lockdown has had at least a small influence on them.

The title track is a wonderfully melancholy love song with stunningly beautiful harmonies provided by Writer’s Rain. I imagined a story around the creation of this song where Sandy Denny might have recorded with Nick Drake. At times I heard a ghost of Clifford T Ward in Tom’s immaculate vocal delivery. “Forever Someday” has an upbeat almost alt.country feel and is one of those songs that just leaves you with a warm happy feeling. “One Way Ticket” seems to be about a relationship that has ended, but where they remain friends, if only all relationships could end that way. I can see the chorus here being a great audience singalong live. There is an invisible anger in “Reason” which appears to be aimed at a composite devil who might represent all that is bad about some people in the world. “How do you reason with the devil? I’m staring him straight in the eye” is a simple yet very powerful line. I think my favourite track on the EP is the closer, “Conkers And Leaves” which is about how great it is to come home, regardless of where and how far you have travelled. If you have not checked out Tom McKenzie‘s music yet I suggest that you do it now. Click here to listen to the EP on Spotify.

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‘Seersucker’ EP – Swears


Do you love dirty, grungey, punky, fuzzy, garage rock? You do? Well you will want to marry Swears. They released their first EP, ‘Seersucker’ last month and it goes straight to the top of the alternative rock class for 2020. Swears formed in Middlesbrough in 2017 and are made up of Joel Clayton, Cypriot brothers George and Stephanos Louca, and Tom Gingell. The EP was recorded at All Silk Recording Studio, Rawtenstall, Lancashire with the music tracked, mixed and mastered by Ed Hall.

EP opener “Warm To The Touch” has quite an impassioned, soulful vocal reflecting the subject of the song which is about the plight of our dying planet. It is underpinned by a heavy, scuzzy sound that Black Rebel Motorcycle would be proud of. Next up is “Say Nothing” which I believe deals with mental health and lyrically, for me, it is one of the most interesting tracks here. “I’m a vision of division, I’m a hound without a sound” is a couplet that conjures up mental despair and anguish (schizophrenia maybe?) with a very intelligent use of just a few simple words. Musically it felt very dark which reflects and supports the lyrics perfectly.

Westlife have aged well haven’t they? 😉

“Catacombs” deals with addiction and is driven by a bass so deep that it probably began in the depths of hell, which I guess is fitting given the songs title and subject matter. This is what a much darker, more punk savvy Kings Of Leon might sound like. You get a feel for how these boys feel about God on “Brain Dead”, an incredibly powerful tune that has some mighty riffs and is possibly the heaviest track on a fabulously heavy release. On the strength of this release I can hardly wait to see Swears live post COVID-19.

Click here to listen to ‘Seersucker’ on Spotify.

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“Sometimes” – Apollo Junction June 18, 2020


Those talented lads of Apollo Junction are about to brighten our musical worlds once again with their new single “Sometimes”. It really is a cracking new song. Sonically it has a feel of U2 and speaking to the band last week they told me they were aiming for a kind of U2 meets New Order vibe, well they have nailed that vibe totally. The lyrics also seem quite deep and personal, but ultimately very positive. The song has a chorus that would compete well with any of the best tunes from the Killers. It has rock, pop and banging hooks. After “Forever” and now this it seems clear that the next Apollo Junction album will be bloody brilliant. No pressure lads!

A long wait, but almost certainly worth it!

I love the video produced and directed by Matthew Walsh and starring Millie Gaston who displays a huge range of emotions. It is so hard to be different with videos these days, but the emotional simplicity in this one grabbed me immediately. Plus you get to see the lyrics too. These boys get better with each release.

Click here to listen to the song on Spotify and check out the excellent video below.

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“Over It” – Alleyways

Filed under: Review — justwilliam1959 @ 11:13 pm
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Leeds/ York based indie pop funsters Alleyways are back with a tune so banging that it could be measured in megatons. The funky Billy Whizz guitar licks are reminiscent of Haircut 100. The tune is “Over It” and given the pop perfection, the funky booming bass beat, righteous riffing, superb synth sounds and divine drums you won’t get over it quickly. This song is an immense earworm that will latch itself onto you so tight that you will need to have it surgically removed. Although frankly it is so good, save the NHS and forgo the earworm removal! Plus it will keep you dancing so you would not be able to stay still long enough for a safe operation anyway.

Frontman Dougie Turner has said this about “Over It” – “I feel this song captures the energy we had whilst writing it, and the meaning behind this track is something very important to us. We are a generation living our lives online, so it is crucial that we don’t regress socially. Now more than ever is a time we need to be reminded that community and connection in the real world is what drives us and ties us together. I’m also in love with the positivity that comes off this track, the energy it has from start to finish and that classic ALLEYWAYS sound that will get everyone moving.” If you have missed out on this great band up to now, it’s not too late, but get on board quickly!

Click here to play/ download “Over It” on all the biggest streaming sites.

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‘Propoganda’ – Aārp

Filed under: Review — justwilliam1959 @ 2:12 pm
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Aārp is a classically trained experimentalist with a penchant for politically orientated song titles. Opening track “CA Fuit De Pentant” is an intriguing synth led track which is experimental rhythmically as well as tonally. “Condamnez Vous Les Violences” features scattered rhythms over a descending jazz style sequence. “Axis Of Evil” has a filmic feel with organ leading into a dance like feel with frequent changes of rhythm pattern. “Less Than 1% Of Patients Leave Addicted” has a sadder, less frenetic feel “There Is No Alternative” builds into a dance orientated track with a more laid back feel.

Some tracks such as “Nada Es Gatos Esta Vida” and “The Herbicide That Gets To The Root Of The Problem” feature a more experimental feel . The rhythms are more disorientating and therefore require closer listening. “I Prefer A Literal Dictator” has a sinister feel with orchestral interludes. Final track “Les Malheureux” opens with bassy synth sounds leading into an interesting mix of rhythms interspersed with symphonic interludes and alien dance rhythms. This album reminds somewhat of the work of Ryuichi Sakamoto and the Yellow Magic Orchestra and that is no bad thing. I look forward to hearing further musical exploration from Aārp and his politician quoting song titles.


Written by Paul Bamlett.

Click here to listen to the album on Spotify.

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‘It’s Raining On The Wrong Side Of The Window’ EP – Glass Peaks



Glass Peaks debut EP opens with a soundscape of ambient noise and bleeps. This leads us into “Sao Paulo” ,a great synth based song and a good opener.
An Interlude of ambient guitar takes us into “London Is Concrete” which has a gentle pop feel and an interesting vocal. “Never Really Left” has more upbeat feel and an anthemic Tears For Fears flavour with strong vocals. The next “Interlude” with more ambient sounds coupled with whispering voices leads into the final track the sublime title track, “It’s Raining On The Wrong Side Of The Window”. With beautifully balanced vocals this is the strongest track here and brings this multi faceted release to a close.

Very strong songwriting and excellent production add extra class to this superb EP. Featuring an eclectic and well chosen mix of genres on this evidence Glass Peaks can expect to achieve commercial success in the very near future.

Click here to listen to the EP on Spotify.

Written by Paul Bamlett

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‘Second Movement’ EP – Chelsea Pribble

Filed under: Review — justwilliam1959 @ 2:11 pm
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In the first instance I heard the single from this EP which is “Under the Covers”. To say that I was blown away by its quality and originality would be to give those descriptors a bad name. The release from which “Under The Covers” is taken is far and away the most stunning collection it has been my pleasure to review this far. Beginning with “White Lies” the fragile but effective vocals coupled with delicate complimentary string arrangements are a great opening moment. The tonality here is unique. “Bed Of Stone” with its piano intro has a depth of feeling that is tangible and some truly exceptional classically orientated tonal shifts. A Satie-esque piano figure introduces the aforementioned “Under The Covers”. The arrival of drums is unexpected but pleasant and the track is for me amongst the finest in a superb collection.

What makes this such a great release is that no two tracks are the same but the feel of the release is so unified. “Overgrown” features strings which accent and compliment the timbre of the vocals. The lyrics demonstrate a depth of feeling which lends the song an additional layer. The sound is supremely well blended. “Reprise” has a sadder feel to it but the string arrangement is once again what makes this music work so well. “Prelude” is an instrumental piece which fits supremely well into the exquisite soundscape of the record.

Chelsea Pribble has a classical ballet background and nowhere is that more apparent than on “Pas De Deux”. The vocal here has some of the feel of Anthony Hegarty but this is a voice all its own. This song vies for top billing with “Under the Covers”. Original, beautiful and profoundly emotionally affecting ,the classical dance influence is writ large here and the lyrics are strong. This is a superlative collection of songs and an absolutely resounding 10 out of 10. I will await further music from this great emerging singer with great anticipation.

Click here to check out ‘Second Movement’ on Spotify.

Written by Paul Bamlett

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Mayhem’s Home Town – Music from York – local lock-down releases 1 June 14, 2020


My adopted home city of York has been a hot bed of great music since I first moved here in 2007 and the York music force remains strong. So I thought that I would take this opportunity to highlight just a small handful of the great musical talent that this fantastic city has to offer. Focusing on three releases that have happened very recently during these strange lock down days.

First up are a York band that are destined for huge success, I am confident that eventually this lot will play arenas. I am talking of the Howl And The Hum who recently released their first album ‘Human Contact’ and is arguably one of the best debut albums of the 21st century so far. These boys have earned their chops the hard way through open mic nights and busking. If you haven’t heard them yet then you need to catch up really quickly. As a taster take a listen to their latest release below. It is an alternative live version of “Hostages” from their new album.

Perspex refer to themselves as “the plastic band for the decadent listener”, somehow I doubt if I can conjure up a better way to describe them. The band’s first release of 2020, “A Horse Named Useless” is a lo-fi weirdfest which has a delightful melody and contrasts that with a line about wanking off horses. Warped, wonderful, weird, wacky and worthy of a long listen.

Finally talented young York singer-songwriter Jacob Clayton released his first single “Inside Our Minds” last month. It is a chilled, yet emotional, folky track which feels reflective enough for these strange days. It is hard to judge an artist on one song, but frankly “Inside Our Minds” makes me want to hear more from him.

This site has posted about many York acts over the years and long may that continue. If any York musicians, bands, singers want to be featured here send me a message. Obviously we will still continue to include acts from all over the world, but I feel that a focus on our local scene is well worth it in these strange times!

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