Songs from the Deep Forest
Mildly melancholic Belfast baroque folk pop artist Duke Special has neither the song writing talent of Sufjan Stevens, nor the crossover appeal of Badly Drawn Boy Boy. Nevertheless, Uncut-reading Beatles worshippers will dig the George Martin-esque sounds of string quartets, brass bands tuning up, and music hall piano. Despite the indie cred, this is still just high quality dinner party music: the Duke is kind of a Northern Irish Billy Joel.
Back to the Burning Wreck
The Have/Rhythm Method
After playing SXSW three times, while still in nappies, local rockers The Have have now (self-) released their debut. With tracks like ‘Patience’ and ‘Down By The River’ (neither covers), the band certainly wear their stoner hard rock influences on their sleeves. Fortunately, as with bands like Royal Trux and Drive-By Truckers, the quality of the writing and playing outshines the fetishistic revivalism. Dazed, confused, and lots of fun.
Just when you’re thinking Joss Stone’s newie plays like a lamed-down version of the Miseducation of Lauryn Hill (‘Tell Me What We’re Gonna Do Now’ even cops a Bob Marley riff: very Fugees), Ms Hill herself shows up as a celebrity guest. The veneer of gritty urban London cool (graffiti art, record scratching) can’t hide the pedestrian songs and production. It’s all just a vehicle for Stone’s (great) voice, and there’s little here you wouldn’t get on a Christina Aguilera album.