Posts Tagged ‘laid-back’

Christopher Nosnibor

Steve Kendra has probably received as many words praising his work as anyone to have been covered here at Aural Aggravation, but the chances are, it’s gone unnoticed, since he’s rarely, if ever mentioned directly or by name. As the rhythm guitarist in York’s premier purveyors of psychedelic drone, Soma Crew, his contribution is something I’ve long admired. Like drummer Nick Clambake, Kendra’s brilliance lies in his humbleness, and his appreciation that the sum is always greater than the parts. A great rhythm section sticks to rhythm and keeps it together. Sounds simple, but it’s much harder in reality. It requires great concentration for a start. And it takes humility too not want to step into the spotlight in one way or another. But this is precisely why he’s the perfect player for Soma Crew, content to keep his head down, face obscured by the peak of his cap, and bludgeon away at two or three chords for six or seven minutes.

Just as he’s the quiet one of the band – not that they’re really big talkers most of the time – he’s quietly been working on his own material as Kendroid. It’s essentially a solo vehicle, but with input from as handful of people well known in York music circles, not least of all instrumental and production assistance from Dave Keegan, and to date he’s recorded and released two full-length albums, The Last Love Song on Earth (2019) and Poetry Love & Romance (2021) – so while these aren’t- hot-off-the-press new releases, it’s never too late to catch up. In fact, the whole promo build-up of a clutch of singles and videos in the run-up to an album’s release and then the explosion of reviews in the weeks and months around it, I get, but it does create a false sense of there being a certain window for new releases. The reality is that albums have a slow diffusion, and more often than not, people discover albums and artists months, years, even decades, after their emergence.

Kendra’s route to being a musician has been far from conventional: the man didn’t even pick up a guitar till he turned 40, and is by no means a muso. I have a lot of respect for that, and have found that oftentimes, technical education is a limiter to creativity. Steve can’t read tab and doesn’t know music theory – and consequently, isn’t hampered by conventions.

The chronology of the material is chewy: most of the songs on the second album were written before those on the first, and the second album is more of a lockdown exercise to document/ purge the journey that preceded The Last Love Song.

The Last Love Song on Earth presents a pretty eclectic set, spanning low-key blues and reminiscent of Mark Wynn before he went punky/shouty and went off to support Sleaford Mods (Married to the Rain’), to Soma Crew-esque space rock workouts that toss in dashes of Stereolab and Pulp (‘Mexican Heart’), and songs that incorporate elements of both, along with an experimental twist, with the swampy ‘Incel’ and brooding grind of ‘Deam Lover’ that has hints of Suicide in the mix contributing to the diversity that draws in The Doors to Mark Lanegan.

Poetry Love & Romance is quite a different animal, and while recorded in lockdown, it’s not – unusually – a lockdown album, packed with the anxieties of forced captivity or separation. But it is, in another way, a definitive lockdown album, in that its recording is one whereby the sound and production is determined by limitations, being largely acoustic – although Dave Keegan again features in a musical capacity, as well as engineering, mixing, and mastering.

We’re straight in with an easy country swing, with acoustic guitar and simple drum machine for the title track, and it sets the style for the album as a whole, which is mellow, sparse laid back, and pretty country. These are songs that paint pictures, sketches of scenes, some faded and tinged with the distance of time and reflection, and it’s quite touching at times.

Poetry Love & Romance does feel like something of a stopgap, but who wasn’t waiting for life to restart in some way the last couple odd years?

It’ll be interesting to see what Steve does next, but what he’s done thus far is interesting, and a clear step away from his guitaring day-job, and a such, it’s a bold move that’s yielded some great results.

18th April 2022

James Wells

To promote their new EP, Sweet Giant are releasing a track a month from it, and so precisely one month on from the unveiling of the bright and breezy ‘Til You’re Blue’, they’re back with ‘My Bones’, recorded and self-produced by the band and mixed by Callum Barter (Courtney Barnett/ Kurt Vile).

This outing is a little more paired back, while it’s still big on the breezy melodies, the lyrical bent is rather more reflective and a shade less runny than its predecessor, with Annie Needham mulling on the nature of time as futures past drift together and apart.

‘I can smell my bones / don’t think that they’re my own / like they came from somewhere old / somewhere long ago’, she sings as if lost, adrift in time and uncertain of where she’s heading or where she’s been. It’s not surprising if she feels dislocated and out of time / place, living in London yet so clearly yearning for deserts and dust, freeways and festivals (just check the band pic to see where they see themselves at home).

The band cite along their many influences Fleetwood Mac and Creedence Clearwater Revival, and they really do capture that easy-going 70s American rock vibe, making their music ideal for driving on a sunny day with the windows down and the stereo up.

Band photo 1 - Sweet Giant

Secret Warehouse Of Sound Records – 15th December 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

Here we are at the fading fag-end of the shittiets year in living memory and yet as energy levels and any prospect of salvaging anything of real merit fades faster than that of a satisfactory deal on Brexit, some are keeping those flickering flames of optimism alive. With venues having been closed since March, the odd socially-distanced all-seated show notwithstanding, live music has been largely off the table in 2020, leaving not so much a gap as a gaping chasm in the lives of many, and not only gigging musicians and venues and the staff who work in those venues in their various capacities.

Music is more than music: music is community, music is a place of retreat, of escape, music is personal freedom. But music is also… music, an outlet for its makers and a conduit for its fans, and Muca & La Marquise are determined to wring the very last drop of accomplishment from this bleak year with their fourth single of the year in the shape of ‘Devil’s Dance’.

An acoustic homage to long summer days spent lounging under the gaze of an unrelenting sun, it feels like a real misfit in what feels like the darkest week of the darkest month of the darkest year, but maybe that was the plan – to break through the deep-set mopology and lift the spirits with something bright, buoyant, and above all, summery – think Bobby McFerrin, think Macy Gray, think Paolo Nutini’s ‘New Shoes’, think laid-back soulful jazz-flavoured mellowness. Think maybe about not thinking for a bit and giving your brain a rest. I know it’s not aggro. It’s time for a night off. With a large whisky and some candles lit, this one’s working for me.

AA

Devil_s Dance Artwork