Ocelot Magazine record reviews March 2015

The March Ocelot reviews chucked up once again some brilliant and exciting stuff. Variety was once again the key, with indie-motown, avant-garde art ballads, folk-jazz and dream pop. all were in with a shout of the title, but the wonderful Alice & The Lovers pipped the rest to the post.

AliceAlice & The Lovers – Valentine (Record of the month)

Alice Offley has been in these pages before, mainly as a piano based singer / songwriter. But this small collection of songs is a more upbeat, guitar-focused affair, designed for a full band. Stylistically it is an outstanding musical re-invention of the Motown girl-band sound and its luscious vocal melodies and harmonies fused with a garage surf-rock and shoegazy indie musical backing. Just think The Supremes having a rumble with Husker Du and you start to get the idea.

A hopeful melancholy haunts these songs and gives them an almost tangible life. They have a lovely dark romanticism to them, creating enough moody atmospherics that they seem to belong in dark, smoky cellar bar after closing time, crackling out of the old Wurlitzer jukebox as the bar tender sweeps around the last lingering couple, the smoky haze of their final cigarettes hanging in the air and mingling with the sweet smell of bourbon and bitters. The kind of place I quite fancy staying for a while to be honest.

gemma mossGemma Moss – Majorly E Minor

Having heard tale of Gemma’s wild live shows, I really had no idea of what to expect from this album. Not for a minute was I expecting what I actually got, which goes to show you shouldn’t ever make judgements without all of the evidence being presented.

Underpinned by mournful piano riffs and the occasional stark punctuation of guitar these austere songs are driven by Gemma’s expressive vocals, which have hints of Edith Piaf about them, but a version of the chanteuse if she was in a vaudeville show being directed by F.W. Murnau, a cabaret goth-opera if you like. As unusual and unique as this sounds, there is something very compelling about it. Gemma is very much an artist, and is quite happy to beat her own path, occupy her own generic niche and the rest of us be hanged. And I like that, long may she continue to delight, puzzle and shock audiences.

okinaOkina – In Memory Of

The latest in my long list of accidental finds is this interesting and creative ep. Blending folk, jazz and electronica music into a warm and welcoming sound that draws you in, gives you a shoulder rub, gin & tonic and a big hug, before sending you off into the world a much happier and more relaxed person it is a diverse, unique and compelling recording.

Clever and subtle vocal harmonies are layered over intricate and carefully constructed music from a varied collection of instruments including Greek bouzouki, guitar, drums, upcycled objects and various other percussive instruments. This musical muesli is the backdrop to some lyrically intelligent songs with a conscience that pack a huge emotional punch both in content and delivery. A deeply satisfying listening experience.

cruel duskWyldest – Cruel Dusk

As I had a bit of space left and I have been anticipating this dropping for quite some time I thought I would squeeze in a little review for a single, something I normally avoid.

And damn, the wait for this was worth every minute as, following on from some brilliant Soundcloud demos last year, Wyldest have finally entered a proper studio with a producer and emerged with a lo-fi dream-pop track of extraordinary quality. Hitting the current musical zeitgeist dead centre, this is a spacious, hazy track, awash with reverb and honeyed, astute melodies resulting in a calling card that should see them spoken off in the same breath as contemporaries Warpaint and Beach House and that has left me rather eager for more from the band.

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