Aural Delights – 9th February 2011

This show balances newer signed material with unsigned and attempts to be as varied as possible. The music out there at the moment is a broad church and this should be reflected in the programming of the show.

Social Distortion – they have been around since 1978 and since then have been through any number of line-up changes. Hard Times and Nursery Rhymes is their 8th album.  Essentially it’s American “punk” i.e. a raw garage version of traditional rock and roll.

What?Noise – Tim Harris, Julia Adamson and Chris Nagle developed a fresh dance oriented sound in the late 80s/early 90s. The “Nuance” EP released recently delivers previously unreleased material. Reviewed elsewhere on this blog.

The Happy Soul – as reviewed elsewhere on this blog – the lyrical acoustic bluesy sounds of this artist are well worth a listen.

Sey Hollo – hails from northern Sweden and  is the solo-project of Sebastian Larsson. The music is post-rock played on “rusty guitars and organs”. The new EP is out now.

Fire Suave – a mix of alternative country, acoustic and indie rock, from the 2008 album “Sand Fastened”

Apparently We Fly – an unsigned “post hardcore” band from Derbyshire.

Robin James – born in London, December 1980, with Romany Gypsy and Argentinean roots.  His fragile, yet powerful, voice, and carefully crafted lyrics, evoke early Nick Drake.

Psycho Charger – a NYC trio with drum machine  offering up an interesting mix of styles, a blend of the Cramps and Reverend Horton Heat. From their most recent album “Mark of the Psycho”.

Spencer Cloud and the Range Brothers – a new single from one of my favourite bands of last year.

GlassHeads – unsigned band from Wigan with a new tune

Andy Hay – unsigned singer songwriter who I played on last weeks show

Seven Deadly Sins – scottish band who are well worth checking out – nice sound!

Glass Ankle – excellent Manchester band with a keen sense of melody.

Trevor Sensitive and the Locals – from the new album “Sensitive” the ever reliable and utterly groovy Birmingham style icons.

You can listen to the show through the link below

more tea vicar?….

The Happy Soul – The Modern Day Composer Refuses To Die –Invisiblegirl

Now then what have we here?

This is very interesting!

I always feel its sensible to check out what Julia Adamson is releasing on her Invisiblegirl label because she has not let me down yet. And her critical faculties remain in fine fettle on this album from Mark Simpson who performs under the name “The Happy Soul”.

Predominantly one man with acoustic guitar, multi-tracked vocals with the occasional foray into ambient washes of sound in the background. The main style is blues, however it’s blues with a dash of anglo-folk and inter-war (that’ll be WWI and WW2) song stylings. Indeed the genre mix here is uniquely “english” but borrows heavily from the Americas. Several tracks broaden out the sound-scapes with drums and electric guitar which provides excellent variation to the album.

What sticks out is the voice which is, simply put, fantastic. Moving from heart felt blues wailing to a tender upper register lyrical feel with easy sophistication one can’t help but feel happy listening to this collection of relaxed, and relaxing songs. Imagine a Robin Hitchcock song without the inbuilt cynicism and you are close to what Mark is delivering here.

The song structures are clever, and evoke a sense of the pastoral at times – the multi-part “Sexual Ealing” is a case a point with nods towards to prog-rock structures in parts (albeit the more acoustic types of prog dalliance). The middle flute section breaks up the song into two distinct parts. This reflects the  variety across the album including a semi-rock piece called “Face to Face with my disgrace” which has a great beat and is probably my favourite track.  There are similarities to be drawn with another local blues man – TG Elias – and in places Mark sounds uncannily like Tom – however the 30s/40s style backing vocals set “The Happy Soul” apart.

“The Golden Cage” is another album highlight for me with a mid-tempo beat and achingly beautiful melody, wondrous multi-tracked vocals and exquisite lyrics. Indeed the lyrical content is superb throughout the album with mentions of “Waterstones” and “Kurt Cobain” sticking in my head. The closing “How to break the walls down” , for some odd reason which I cannot fathom, also reminded me of Gabriel era Genesis with its quirky pastoral feel, and also those acoustic tracks Led Zep used to do around the third and fourth albums. Marvellous stuff.

More details on the album and how to get it here.

My Space link.

Recommended to lovers of well crafted songs, with good lyrics, and a great blues voice.