With Just A Hint Of Mayhem’s newest writer Tom Ray posts his first review for the site and it is a rather excellent one!
Read Tom’s take on the new album from Atlanta’s New Junk City below!
“Listen, everyone knows that getting old kind of sucks. Simple tasks in life seem to be more difficult as the days and years go by, and you find yourself trading in record hunting and late night shows at dive bars for utility bills and early morning alarm clocks. The dichotomy of growing older and wiser and maintaining youthful exuberance becomes harder and harder to manage with every trip around the sun.”
Part of growing older is that you realise, somewhere around your mid-30’s, that you can’t really do the things you used to take for granted anymore. You can’t go out on a Tuesday night and get blind drunk and then wake up fresh as a daisy for work at 7am on Wednesday morning. This is the feeling that melodic Punk outfit New Junk City are attempting to get across on their sophomore album, ‘Same Places’.
There are certain things about New Junk City which instantly endear me to them. I love the fact that they are named after a level on the classic ‘90’s videogame Earthworm Jim. I love the guitar decorated with the phrase “This machine plays power chords” (pictured below).
All of the aches and pains that you develop as you leave your youth behind are explored in forensic detail across these nine high-tempo, anthemic punk tracks. The album opens with a screech of guitar feedback before the pounding drums, rumbling bass and furious power chords of “Useless Friends” come crashing in. Vocalist John Vournakis sings with an earnest determination in a gravelly but melodic voice, somewhere between Billie Joe Armstrong and Dexter Holland. There’s a deep running vein of pop melodies running through the album with some fantastic vocal melodies and accomplished lead guitar work. Musically, “Useless Friends” and “Stay Asleep” bring to mind the accessible snottiness of Dookie era Green Day, while “Losing Side” has a touch of the Beatles or Kinks in its lead guitar melodies. As well as the standard pop punk formula there are moments of surprise here and there. The albums closer, “Nothing Waiting”, starts with megaphone vocals and ends with gloriously unexpected synth melodies.
My personal highlight is the penultimate “In Our Blood”. The closest the album has to a “ballad”. A heavy, downtempo song with clear roots in both grunge and, to a lesser extent, Shoegaze. It culminates in an epic noise jam, saturated with feedback and wildly distorted guitars.
‘Same Places’ was recorded at Standard Electric Recorders in Decatur by Damon Moon. The production is slick and the mastering loud. Like a lot of contemporary albums, it does suffer from a lack of dynamic range, but the strong melodies and accomplished playing ensure an enjoyable listening experience.
Same Places is released on October 12th by Real Ghost Records.
For now, why not check out the fantastic video for the single, “Stay Asleep”.
Writer: Tom Ray
Manchester’s the Real Ink have a new tune hitting the streets tomorrow and it is staggeringly good, it is called “Boi” The bands PR blurb says that they are a melting pot of Funk, Reggae, Jazz and Ska. That is definitely true but I hear a very definite British twist on that multi genre attack. The brass is as quirky and funky as PigBag and Molly’s vocals have their roots in X Ray Spex and the Slits with extra added soul. While you wait for “Boi” which frankly will walk into almost anyone’s single of the week category check out their other stuff on SoundCloud along with the rather spiffing silent disco style video for “Mud” The Real Ink will be around for a long while on this showing and they are definitely on my list of bands that I need to see live! Apologies for the dreadful pun, but Molly Hall, Joseph Fountain, Fynn Birch, Gabe Burke and Aron Mather known collectively as the Real Ink will be indelible in the music world!
This was the third time I have seen Laura Kindelan playing live in just over a year and I hope there will be plenty more opportunities to catch this incredibly talented singer, musician and songwriter in the future. Laura is off to Uni in Leeds very soon so this was her last hometown gig before that. It was at the fabulous Forty Five Vinyl Cafe on Micklegate in York. If you have never been there then you really ought to get yourself there soon. This was probably the first time I have ever visited and not bought any vinyl, although I did buy a couple of CDs from one of the excellent support acts. So let me start with those support acts. First it was Lands (a.k.a. George) a staggeringly good vocalist. He makes his voice soar and he has some really good original material, however were he totally smashed it tonight was with an inspired choice of cover songs. Most notably with Springsteen’s “I’m On Fire” on which he came pretty damned close to bossing the Boss. But even more so with his version of Radiohead’s “Creep”, covering Thom Yorke is a brave move and one that is often difficult to pull off, but Lands owned the song and poured himself into it. I expect to see much more from him either as Lands or some of his other projects (I will be checking Leodis with which he partners with his buddy Archie soon).
Second on the bill was Nottingham lad (now based in Leeds) Joseph Knight. I had the honour of seeing Joseph sound check for the show and he captivated what at that time was a very small audience. When he took the stage for real he proved what a great talent for songwriting he has, he is quite a tasty performer too. “Have You Seen The Sky Tonight” was performed with sonic beauty, but sadly Joseph told us that up to now he has never find the right way to record the song and probably never will, but a good reason to catch him live though. He explained that “Hold On To Me” had originally been recorded as a duet but obviously he had to play it solo on the night. It is a great song that would grace any pop chart in the world. I am not a fan of manufactured boy bands, but “Hold On To Me” would add class and credibility to a pop act. Maybe Boyzone should sign off with a classic song like this. Joseph played “Nervous” which he explained had been written when he was just fifteen. The song’s sentiment and message about having to love yourself before you will find love must still hang true with all of us. My favourite song from him from tonight’s set was as perfect lyrically as it is possible to get and it is called “Missing Piece”. I can tell you that the words brought a tear to my eyes, especially the line “I didn’t know that I was broken until you fixed me”. Thursday I had never heard or heard of Joseph Knight, Friday I saw and heard him and became a fan!
From the first time that I saw Laura Kindelan play live back in July 2017 I felt that she was in possession of a rare and raw talent that doesn’t come along very often. My opinion on that has only got stronger over time. Indeed Laura’s performance this evening was even better than the previous live sets I have seen her do. She has a wide range of influences and her style of singing and playing covers a wide array of genres; jazz, blues, folk, rock and pretty much everything in between. She was brave enough to do something that not many artists would, she opened her show with an unfinished song, “Take A Little Time”. Well it sounds pretty damned spot on right now so what the hell will it evolve into when she finishes it? When introducing “Spiders” Laura described it as the most intense song that she has ever written and listening to the acerbic lyrical flow it would be hard to disagree with that assertion. She is working on a cello based version of the song which I believe could sound truly epic!
The first time that I ever heard the jazz standard “Good Morning Heartache” was in 1972 via Diana Ross’ version. That cover paled into insipid insignificance when I eventually heard Billie Holiday’s 1946 recording of the song. Some people say that certain songs are untouchable sacred cows but I don’t agree and I am pleased to say that neither does Laura in this case. Laura makes fine use of her looping talents to give us an eerie, ethereal and moderately menacing arrangement and take on the song. It makes mincemeat of most of the other recorded cover versions of this song. Laura makes it sound sonically like something from a parallel universe. If David Lynch revives Twin Peaks again then he has to feature Laura Kindelan’s version of “Good Morning Heartache” in at least one episode. Laura’s younger brother Euan joined her on the drums for the last few songs of the set and he proved that he is a skilled and very understated sticksman with massive potential for the future. “Take Your Time” was developed from a drum pattern that Euan created. I have previously compared Laura Kindelan to Jeff Buckley. I was among the lucky few to witness Buckley’s towering but way too short set some twenty-four years ago at the Reading Festival in 1994. I would love to hear Ms. Kindelan cover a Jeff Buckley song one day. I reckon she could definitely add her personal stamp to “Lover You Should’ve Come Over”. Laura’s songs sound far more mature than her years. She is a musician that seems to want to never stop learning and developing her craft and that will keep her continually fresh ahead of the curve musically. Most of you have no doubt heard the apocryphal tales of the great old bluesmen ‘selling their souls at the crossroads’ to be gifted with supreme talent by the devil. Has Laura Kindelan sold her soul at the crossroads? No of course not, this woman does not need to, she has pure, latent, natural talent in abundance!
Public Service Announcement: all photos are from my cheap android phone from China. Videos are all found on YouTube. If you wish to be credited for any of the videos or would like them taken down please let me know. N.B. Fawn were replaced by Lands on the bill.
In 1985 Tina Turner’s “We Don’t Need Another Hero (Thunderdome)” the theme song from the third film in the Mad Max movie franchise, ‘Mad Max: Beyond The Thunderdome’, reached the top five in at least nine countries. The song was written by Terry Britten and Graham Lyle off of Gallagher and Lyle. The song also featured a children’s choir from the King’s House School in Richmond, Surrey. One of the members of the choir went on to much greater fame as the captain of England’s Rugby Union team. It was none other than Lawrence Dallaglio!
Swedish pop giants Abba scored their second UK number 1 in 1975 with “Mamma Mia”. The song was taken from the self titled ‘ABBA’ released the same year. It also hit the top spot in Australia, Ireland and Germany. Many of you will be familiar with it as it provided the title to the mega successful film musicals; ‘Mamma Mia: The Movie’ and ‘Mamma: Mia: Here We Go Again’. But did you know that the song was never intended to be a single and more importantly Abba had originally not planned to record it at all. The song was offered to the UK’s Brotherhood Of Man who won the Eurovision Song Contest two years after Abba. But Brotherhood Of Man turned it down, I wonder if they regret that? I also wonder what the stage musical and film musicals based around Abba’s music might have been called if Benny, Bjorn, Agnetha and Anni-Frid had not recorded it. The opening of the song features an African version of the xylophone known as a Marimba, an instrument used extensively by Earth, Wind and Fire in the 70s.
Talking of 70s soul and funk, Abba were apparently massive Stevie Wonder fans and they utilised and slightly reworked the bass line from Wonder’s “I Wish” on their sixth UK number one “The Name Of The Game”. In 1997 the Fugees sampled that Abba bass part on “Rumble In The Jungle”, a top 3 UK hit, which was the first time Abba had ever allowed one of their songs to be sampled.
Last week I had the delightful pleasure of catching up with Jim Quinn owner of a new record label in York, UK. The label is Safe Suburban Home and their début launch came a few weeks ago with the release of a limited edition seven-inch vinyl single by the Velts from Malta. I am looking forward to future releases and now that I own the first I may have to become a collector! Jim answered a range of questions for With Just A Hint Of Mayhem, take a read and feel free to add a comment. Jim has also chosen some rather excellent tracks for the videos at the bottom of this post!
Safe Suburban Home? Where does the name come from?
This is a strange one according to Jim. He, his partner Emma and their daughter needed a safe suburban home, so they got one. Their living room became a studio which they named Safe Suburban Home! <and there was me looking for deeper meaning!>
What is your favourite record label(s) and why?
California’s Burger Records which according to Jim has an underground feel and always seemed pretty cool. His aim is to create that kind of vibe with Safe Suburban Home. Back in the early 2000’s he would also buy anything released by Household Name Records.
Do you foresee having a roster of acts on the label ultimately or will you carry on with exclusive releases?
This is way too far ahead. Jim would love to work with more local bands and might consider going down the singles club release route. He would absolutely love to record York band Tax <Guys if you’re reading this just do it!> Acts that sign up for an exclusive release on Safe Suburban Home Records sign a 4 month contract, after that they can put their track on other platforms and media.
Will you expand beyond vinyl?
Jim says that is possible but it would have to maintain some kind of physical tangible purchase too. Say buy a T Shirt, pin badge or something and receive a free digital download of a song.
Who is your biggest musical influence and why?
There was no hesitation or thought time for Jim’s answer here, immediately he responded with Damon Albarn. He says, and I agree, that everything Damon has done is different and that he is undoubtedly one of the great British songwriters.
Musically do you have any of what you might consider guilty pleasures, if so what are they?
Like all of us Jim has some guilty pleasures when it comes to music. Notably 80s Pop, Deacon Blue and Prefab Sprout. His guilty pleasures anthem is “Walking On Sunshine” by Katrina and the Waves. <personally I don’t think Prefab Sprout are in this category, but then one persons classic band is another persons guilty pleasure, right?>
Name three things that you simply cannot live without (not including family)?
What is your favourite confectionery item? Is Die Hard a Christmas film? Who is richer, Tony Stark or Bruce Wayne?
Jim took a shot at all of these;
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