Well, Happy New Year…and if you know me you are not surprised to see me writing a review for a cover of this epic Pogues song. There are of course some songs that should just be left alone in their original version but I have never considered this to be one of them. Even though Shane and his mates original from 1987 has been imbedded in the soundtrack of my life for many years, I consider the song free game for a redux. Not to say all covers of it have been good…but everyone is welcome to try.
This version by Chamberlain stacks up well and I really enjoyed playing it over the recent holidays. They kept the pacing about the same and also utilized the vocal talents of Gabrielle Sterbenz for the female vocal. Her voice is well-suited for this song and also pairs well with David Moore as they take us through the classic story told in the tune. If you get a chance you should check out her music also (link below).
Well played all around by some talented musicians although sadly no tin whistle….but that is a rare talent to find these days. And the shaker that puts the rhythm down in the background is a unique sound.
Yes, I know that I am going back in time for this one. I was listening to the more recent release from Wildlife called “Year of the Snake” and even though that is a good record, my own mind said, “They had one I liked more…sometime in the past…when was that..?” At which point I dug through a lot of old music info and realized it was “Out on Your Block.” And no, I do not have any criticism of “Year of the Snake” to offer…but my personal opinion is that this 2017 release is just better….and the cover art is quite interesting.
If you are not familiar with Wyldlife I think they are best described as a punk / rock and roll cross with an edgy 80’s sound and style. They play very well and put together solid songs that sometimes seem simple on your first listen but usually have a good bit of complexity running around in the background.
This album kicks off with “Desperate Times” and this one has a nice, driving guitar that carries it along very well. I think my only complaint is that the vocals are a little bit too “screamy” at some points but it still sounds good. That is followed up by “Teenage Heart” that has a definite 80’s beat and feel to it…and I mean that in a good way. The lyrics even reflect that era as does the call-out chorus line. I really like the bass work on this song also as it provides a great foundation for the music and peeks through at the just the right moments.
The next song “Keepsakes” is one of my two favorites, both because it tells a simple but good story and also for its punchy delivery of the music. The lyrics, such as “you were misery that I couldn’t figure out,” are compelling and stark. That is followed up by “Deadbeat” which has really good guitar sound and even though this is a typical “youth / angst” type song, it is put together and played well.
Track five is “Bandida” which is a guitar and drum driven bopper that will get you jumping along with it if you are so inclined. It provides a good lead in to “Contraband” which I would call an explosive song. Building right up from a great drum intro this song has great nervous energy running though it accompanied by wailing and screeching guitar. The taunting vocal delivery and the drop-out ending seal the deal – a great song.
“Suburban” is the “meh” song for me on this album as it is a bit too squeaky and whiny for me. It is followed by “120 Minutes” which is most notable for the guitar work at the 2:30 mark and “Cuffed” which has some very interesting lyrics, good bass lines and some atypical musical moments.
Last up is “Get Loud” and this one is well worth the wait and another favorite of mine. The best part of this song, and something that really adds to its overall quality, is that it does not come in super loud like you might expect. It starts subtly with some swinging drums and guitar, the vocals creeping along and everything slowly building up to crash over briefly at 1:20. It then holds before slowing down again. This song is the longest at 4:07 and needs all of that room to develop fully and really shine. There are a few lyrical gems in here also such as, “beneath the streetlights I wonder why I’m always chasing abuse.”
Overall, a great album and enjoyable to listen to both for fun and for more serious musical appreciation.
We are going with some world sounds for this review and I am really pleased that I found this album when I was checking out the releases from the Names You Can Trust label out of Brooklyn, New York. It may be outside of even the wide-ranging path I follow when listening but that is exactly what I love about exploring music. There is so much out there, so many great rhythms, melodies, different textures, influences and cultures to experience. I also often have my Joe Strummer moments and I can definitely see Joe sitting around listening to this record and enjoying some of the sounds.
This starts off with “Los Mariguano Boys” and I really like the drum rhythms that lead off in this track. It has a nice, pulsing beat to it that gives it some fun and flair. That leads into the next song, “Guaracha Campesina Proletaria,” which is just as nice of a rapid tempo dance number as the name implies. There is a really nice melody line in here, which I believe is delivered on guitar. There are some subtle changes in tone that also lend some depth. Right about the 1:30 mark some great horns kick in and catch your attention. There has always been something about that combination that has peaked my interest and this selection is a great example of the reason for that feeling.
“La Macumba” is the third selection and I believe the title references a folk religion although I admit I did not have time to look into it further before writing this post. There is some nice vocal work at the beginning accompanied by the cowbell and then the horns come in to layer in a little mystery. I really like the trumpets that you can find in the 1:30 to 1:55 range of this track. The final song is “Encuentro” and I am still trying to work out the sound that lies underneath the horns at the beginning. The slower tempo of this arrangement gives you a real sense of anticipation. The military style drum beat leads some structure that plays off the horns in an odd but alluring way. My only complaint here is that I feel this one runs just a little too long.
Overall I really enjoyed this album and the music is just right for a late evening get together or a mid-afternoon at the pool and beach. There is also some nice artwork on the album cover.