December 10, 2018


Gig › Music › Review ›

Cabbage detail year-end gig in Manchester

Cabbage detail year-end gig in Manchester

By Live4ever - Posted on 06 Dec 2018 at 12:21pm 

Cabbage performing @ Live At Leeds 2018 (Gary Mather / Live4ever)

Cabbage will see out 2018 with a gig at Night People in Manchester on December 19th.


The festival track Smells Like Christmas is another of the band’s last moves in a year which saw them release debut album Nihilistic Glamour Shots.

“On Exhibit A the band collectively proffer a staggering, perverse strain of country on which to hoist the zero-sum farce of modern politics on its own petard, whilst Perdubaro’s ramshackle post-punk sounds like it might fall apart at any minute, and Disinfect Us dices surf rock, desperation and menace like measures in a polemical cocktail,” we said of it.

“Thus is the influence of Mark E. Smith measured from – dum, da, daaah – BEYOND THE GRAVE. What was and remains his gift is that people can see fit to reject everything around them which defines their generation, seek to personify it, ridicule it and make others question their values without ever asking a single question of their own.”

March 08, 2017


Album Review: Clap Your Hands Say Yeah – The Tourist

Ah the modern day troubadour, surely one of rock’s least attractive jobs.
Whatever you face, you do so alone, a state of isolation experienced whilst the audience sits there at a show wondering if the tortured soul that’s getting bared is yours. You may smile when you’re low, but for many singer-songwriters the more honest and fragile you may be, the fewer volunteers there are to pick up the pieces afterwards.
It can help to employ a nom-de-guerre, of course, instead of your own; last year Jack Tatum, aka Wild Nothing, produced one of its best albums in Life Of Pause, a self sufficient effort in composition terms but one which Tatum had never considered as a solo record.
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah emerged in 2005 as very much a collective proposition, but in recent years it’s been Philadelphian Alec Ounsworth as the driving force, The Tourist’s accompanying press making no mention of either co-writers, co-performers or co-anyone else. Its kernel, in fact, lives in what Ounsworth has described as ‘a purge of certain emotional confusion that manifested itself in the last several years…not an easy album to make, by virtue of the fact that it was an emotional time for me’.
Unbottling demons can make for work perfect to empathise with, but also a pitch that suffers from compression and self pity; The Tourist however is a work of assured confidence, one man’s vision, not a take stymied by narrow perspective.
It’s also one that takes the familiar vagaries of trans-Atlantic indie rock and fixes them with a hardened gaze. Opener The Pilot beats nervously around an acoustic strum and downplayed keys, Ounsworth’s slightly atonal words snatching at the uncertainty of words and deeds, the ‘tough motherf***er’ he refers to seemingly an aside, a jibe of self deprecation. If that’s asking for some kind of acknowledgement, the avant-pop of Down (Is Where I Want To Be) splices Arcade Fire’s zest with the histrionics of Muse – gambits which shouldn’t tessellate but somehow do – whilst the rangy, drip-white funk of Fireproof is perfectly skeletal, leaving nothing to chance.
This sparsity is probably just a reflection of Ounsworth’s search for fulfilment, to ‘have to try to do something each time that’s new and engaging for me’, past – and arguably more commercial – territories being just those. On Unfolding Above A Celibate Moon (Los Angeles Nursery Rhyme) he’s clutching at notes like motes of dust, a bleary harmonica part way through and ham-fisted, plaintive guitar solo emphasising the downward arc of being so strung out on feeling-junkets that the safe harbour of people never seems like enough consolation.
As much as the singer appears to be trying to cajole and confound in equal measure, there are still threads on which he writes an invitation to the top table of American alternatives: The Tourist’s best moment Better Off is one on which the bass rumbles in satisfyingly and the horizons are brought nearer by looking at the sky, the one anthemical chapter served up here, as if to remind the listener of spells cast by him which will never be consciously re-imagined.
Created alone, that The Tourist has not one hint of voyeurism in its coda is a triumph. Alex Ounsworth has jettisoned his baggage in a way that precludes no-one, and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah remain a proposition that gives him a facade always worth taking at more than face value.
(Andy Peterson)

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February 21, 2017


Music › The ei8htball blog ›

Live Review: Big Thief @ Soup Kitchen, Manchester

By Live4ever - Posted on 10 Feb 2017 at 8:00am

Big Thief live in Bristol (Jessica Bartolini for Live4ever)
They say ignorance is bliss. Turns out ‘they’ might be right, just for all the wrong reasons.

As Big Thief take to the stage it dawns on this writer: he knows absolutely nothing about them – except one solitary thing. The ‘thing’? Their song, Paul. Paul alone is reason enough to travel anywhere. Its absolute raw intensity is breathtaking.
Now what? Maybe kill time until they play Paul? No, Big Thief are not here to kill time, or just play. They are here to share an experience with like-minded, passionate people.
Adrianne Lenker‘s impassioned and aching vocals are haunting. Filling this small, smelly basement with a sense of utter heartbreak and foreboding. The audience and the band hang on her every movement, following her every gesture and nuance. She sings songs with sincerity; there’s no irony or melodrama. Just brutal, gut-wrenching honesty, or nothing at all.
In fact, they seem less like songs, more like painful moments captured and now unbottled. Songs like Real Love make you wonderfully uncomfortable. The tension in them is palpable and deliciously tingly.
Each song feels like pressure released from the system. And with each song, the band further settle into their stride, eventually peeking out from behind the curtain to engage directly with the audience. For Big Thief this somehow felt far more personal and risky; like they were afraid of breaking the spell they’d spent so much time casting.
So even these moments were guarded, personal and delicate. Which only made them more endearing and enjoyable to watch.
They eventually played Paul, and it was wonderful. What, on its own, seems like a towering ode to something lost or unsaid, suddenly seems just a small part of a much bigger story. When placed within the larger tapestry to which it belongs, it suddenly makes sense. It’s still just as beautiful, only now it has added depth and meaning.
Big Thief take music very seriously and make very serious music. Which could make them sound awful and joyless, like that terrible stereotype of what jazz has become, where it’s unlistenable music made for unimaginably horrible people who seem to hate music. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
The truth is, like jazz, Big Thief are fascinating, passionate and captivating. Like Miles Davis or Thelonius Monk (who, it must be said, they sound absolutely nothing like), they make music that challenges the listener. Challenges them to listen genuinely, and hear what’s being said and what’s being left unsaid.
There is as much enjoyment and brilliance in the spaces as there is in the moments. When Lenker steps away from the mic, it’s not because there are no more words – they are there, she just doesn’t need to say them because she knows you know.
Tonight is an extraordinary thing. It’s a surprise, on every level, we’re guilty of knowing nothing but glad for it. If only finding out your wrong always felt this good.
(Dylan Llewellyn-Nunes)

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February 21, 2017


Band Of Horses @ Leeds O2 Academy

Why Are You OK‘s release in June last year has brought Band Of Horses back to the UK for a small tour which was at the Leeds Academy on February 19th. Live4ever’s Gary Mather was there for our next gallery:
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Ahead of its release, frontman Ben Bridwell had detailed the changing dynamic of the band as their private lives took precedence during the album’s recording. “I didn’t have the opportunity, like I used to, to kind of squirrel away in some cabin or a beach house,” he told EW. “I work all night and then take them to school in the morning. I’m the scariest dad in the school, I’m sure.”
“I didn’t want to just pander to our previous records or maybe even our most fruitful period. But at the same time I definitely attempted to tap into a lot of that stuff throughout.”
The tour has also been in Glasgow, Newcastle and Birmingham. It continues in Bristol tonight before a final show at the Troxy in London on February 23rd.

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Album Review: Beat Happening – ‘Look Around’

Look AroundIt’s easy, through the rosy tint of nostalgia, to believe that indie’s Year Zero came with the release of C-86, the NME’s now legendary compilation of bands from across a musical spectrum which at the time felt all consuming, but in retrospect proved to be less so.

As our tastes became moulded over time by a particular strain of machismo led, sixties-filtered tropes, history became even more blurred, to the point that a British flag would be draped over everything with direct lineage to 1976, a panoply of genres from post-punk to Britpop.

Beat Happening are not only a neat, cross-Atlantic rebuttal to that theory in evolutionary terms – their first EP was released in 1983 – but also proof that the fiercely non-conformist values of punk could be subverted into a perverse art form, one whose ethic was almost consciously as much anti-music as it was anti-performance.

Formed in 1983 in Olympia, Washington, local college students Calvin Johnson and Heather Lewis along (eventually) with guitarist Bret Lunsford found themselves feted almost from the outset to be either critically adored or condemned. Kurt Cobain biographer Michael Azerrad devoted an entire passage of his alt-rock odyssey Our Band Could Be Our Life to them yet, both live and in the press, they drew criticism and aggression which ran in almost inverse proportion to their apparent passivity.

To further both parallel and underline his credentials as an auteur with a prescient Alan McGee-like vision, Johnson had in 1982 set up the K label (based initially in his kitchen), one which prospers today and (in)famously whose logo the doomed Cobain had tattooed on his arm.

Back with the Beats, ‘Look Around‘ is a chronological retrospective which spans an on and off career of fifteen years, one in which they offered cues to generations of kids who grew up to cool out on twee, lo-fi and stereotype free songs complemented by ham-fisted instrument craft. Their gift was to downsize the egotism of rock and roll, hence the elemental feel of opener ‘Our Secret‘, its childlike simplicity rendering the chutzpah of contemporary entertainment awkwardly redundant. Johnson’s hugely atonal delivery – since mimicked by vocalists in a swathe of alternative bands – is then as now however a bridge for the determined to cross before enlightenment.

Not that singing duties were his alone; Lewis providing a slightly more harmonic counter, one which challenges far less on the otherwise just as rudimentary early material ‘Foggy Eyes‘, ‘What’s Important‘ and ‘In Between‘.

Whoever was at the mic, the whirl of superficially disparate influences – garage psychedelia, folk, primeval fifties grease monkey strokes – meant a lack of mould which many British groups who so obviously aped them could’ve learned from. Johnson’s evil, drug guzzling, sex monster twin plies his trade for instance on ‘Bad Seeds‘ (think groovy, early B-52’s), ‘Bewitched‘ (ditto but instead fellow Washingtonians The Sonics) and ‘Pine Box Derby‘ (The Cramps). As occasionally jarring as its libido-spilling wantonness displays a much needed sense of self-deprecation and humour, there are still – whether by coincidence or design – just as many incidences of ‘Teenage Caveman‘s or ‘Angel Gone‘s, cut from cloth so basic they skate the line between genius and parody.

Given the thousands of words spilt about the trio since the time when an inky, decrepit fanzine was the only way to meet like-minded people, ‘Look Around’s finest moments are found in both an archetype and key moment of Beat Happening’s unreserved profundity. The bubblegum star prize goes to ‘Cast a Shadow‘, on which over a rolling, dark-eyed surf pop rifferola Johnson almost reveals some inflection over his words of misanthropic longing. By contrast, the grit in the oyster is ‘Godsend‘ over nine minutes of forlorn, latter dayish understatement, leaving you to consider that having seen pretty much all of their oeuvre out and seen them all back, was this now a moment of ironic mimickery, or an oblique celebration of what they’d somehow achieved? Anyway, it’s still an essay in build and build, eschewing the notion of climax, always spinning like a launderette machine left alone in the middle of a rainy afternoon.

Exercises like this one always seem to have that vague feeling of commodity, no matter how much hipster wattage can be squeezed out of the artists in question. Thinking laterally there’s just as much argument that Beat Happening accidentally created the professionally amateur ethos which has brought us everyone from My Bloody Valentine to Beck.

Whether this set of unlikely parables constitutes proof to you of something as radical as that or not, it’s undeniably an always fascinating listen.

(Andy Peterson)

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Album Review: Holy Holy – ‘When The Storms Would Come’

holyWith a building hype in their native Australia, Holy Holy’s debut album When The Storms Would Come finally crosses over the Pacific and gets its European release.

The nucleus of this musical project comprises singer-songwriter Timothy Carroll and guitarist/composer Oscar Dawson. The duo initially met whilst teaching English in south-east Asia, but Holy Holy didn’t begin until they fortuitously encountered one another again while in Europe some years later.

The duo honed their craft and sound on the snowy streets of Berlin and Stockholm, but eventually returned home and began working with drummer Ryan Strathie (ex-Hungry Kids Of Hungary) and bassist Graham Ritchie. The project’s musical heritage can be traced back to the songwriting and musicianship of artists like Neil Young and Crazy Horse, but together with producer Matt Redlich, Holy Holy here have created a remarkably mature, contemporary indie rock record.


The wistful opener Sentimental and Monday’ peers softly like a morning dawn as Dawson’s sparse guitar twinkles transform into razor sharp scrapes and Carroll reflects on the past over a relaxed groove, musing over the fact that time is just a series of moments slowly slipping through our fingers. The booming, eerie single History hypnotizes with a creeping sense of destruction as Carroll’s delivery and sentiment lures and stalks with a tamed rawness that is rare to find.

Carroll’s songwriting, on a fundamental level, is rooted in tradition with influences such as Bruce Springsteen and Fleetwood Mac; the latter’s presence felt on the mystical, acoustic led Outside Of The Heart Of It‘ – in an album full of gorgeous moments, the track’s piano-led outro ranks as its most serene.

The modern desolate balladry of If I Were You‘, meanwhile, gallops over icy arpeggiated guitars as Carroll lists his regrets and misgivings. The results are better when Carroll displays some equanimity, as he does on the album’s most emotionally potent track Wanderer’. “I gave myself to you when I was empty/You filled me up with something that I could hold”, he contently states, coming to terms with the dissolution of a relationship

Dawson’s and Redlich’s modern aesthetic, juxtaposed with Carroll’s conventional songwriting, is the fundamental element that makes Holy Holy a vital project. With its driving rhythm ‘You Cannot Call For Love Like a Dog will surely get audiences swaying, Carroll’s vocals soar over Dawson’s soundscapes as the latter’s guitar heroics close the track with a tasteful dose of bombast. Further on the syrupy flange of Holy Gin drips with psychedelia while Strathie’s dynamic drumming gives the track an underlying dark blues stomp.

Complete with Beach Boys-esque harmonies and inspired leads, A Heroine is a dynamic jangly waltz, and album standout Pretty Strays For Hopeless Lovers is a glorious 6-minute chug encapsulating everything which makes this record special. With a rumbling bassline, entangled harmonies and a driving piano line the track builds into a Crazy Horse influenced guitar freak-out before dreamy closer The Crowdairs and cools, Dawson closing with some David Gilmour influenced slide guitar textures.

Holy Holy join fellow Aussies Tame Impala, Jagwar Ma and Courtney Barnett in what is becoming one of the world’s most vibrant scenes. It’s clear Dawson and Carroll have carefully crafted their material, few debut albums sound this assured, and the music is remarkably mature yet retains a dualistic vibrance that keeps it fresh and exciting.

Carroll dynamically balances rawness with restrained grace as Dawson’s precise arrangements sharpen and deepen his partner’s artistic prose.

Don’t be surprised if the storm of Holy Holy starts making waves across the Atlantic – these two are the real deal.

(Trey Tyler)

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Album Review: Josefin Öhrn + The Liberation – ‘Horse Dance’

Horse DanceIn a world where there’s an increasing amount noise – whether it be media or industry – Sweden’s own Josefin Öhrn seeks freedom from the chaos.

Öhrn opens herself to the maelstrom of effects that isolation brings within modern society, and together with her aptly titled backing band The Liberation she deciphers the hazy static of modern culture, transfiguring it into a coolly focused work on the subtle, but deeply rewarding debut album ‘Horse Dance‘.

The album revs-up for launch with ‘Dunes’ as 8-bit synths survey the icy soundscape like an X-Wing looking Luke Skywalker. “It’s not a matter anymore, it’s not a matter of knowing anymore”, Öhrn’s states as live drums and a viciously strummed rhythm guitar roar in, bringing krautrock pulse and energy into the fold. With a relentless rhythm in the driver’s seat, various instruments as well as Öhrn vocals are allowed to fade in and out of the fray with ease, creating a thrilling scenic journey. Momentum reaches fever pitch with a driving high-hat rhythm as synths whir back to place, bookending the track as it started.

The drifting ‘Green Blue Fields’ similarly weaves in subtle flourishes, this time juxtaposing spry wavering guitar lines against a sneakily shuffling disco gallop. Both of these compositions highlight the group’s knack for concise and tactful arrangements.

Öhrn sings with a whispered hush throughout most the album, but it’s clear her voice isn’t the focus here. Her vision is. Her band mates admirably give the material a vibrancy by adding various sonic textures and dynamics, the elegiac Scandinavian influenced ‘You Have Arrived’ a spooky elegy that twitches to life with a deep sub heartbeat and broken trinket synths. Results aren’t as promising on the album’s title-track though, as Öhrn mumbles over cluttered and an overly elongated jam. Album closer ‘Talk’ by contrast tugs in the listener with a hitch bass line before oscillating into a cosmic wonder, Öhrn’s delivery marvelously alluring as her voice mysteriously and playfully pirouettes through the sly rhythmic grooves

Sanity’ and the definitive ‘Take Me Beyond’ see a shift in Öhrn’s approach; both are minimal and relaxed as the production opts for an undulating undercurrent instead of relying on the whirlpool pull of sonic textures that characterize some the album’s weaker material. The Edison-lit guitar prickles illuminate the rhythmic pounce of the former, while the airy breeze of the latter soothes and refreshes as guitars peer and glimmer underneath Öhrn’s celestial vocals.

The tribal jungle beat of ‘Sunny Afternoon’ will rightfully draw comparisons to fellow Swedish artist Lykke Li. Öhrn gives us an unusually harrowing vocal performance that is equally part Nico and part Florence Welch. The driving fuzz bass acts as a foundation, while ticking guitars and hammering pianos poke the pace along.

At its highest points ‘Horse Dance’ is a remarkably daring and distinctive debut album. Öhrn’s artistic vision is pristine and The Liberation’s execution well delivered. There are moments when the band tend to aimlessly wander through their whims, but for the most part this record is a model work in the beauty of subtlety.

It’s an album you can drift in and out of, yet deserves full attention and patience.

(Trey Tyler)

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Live Review: Public Image Ltd. @ Manchester Academy

Public Image Ltd. live at Manchester Academy (Photo: Gary Mather for Live4ever Media)

Public Image Ltd. live at Manchester Academy (Photo: Gary Mather for Live4ever Media)

Public Image Ltd., and their somewhat notorious frontman John Lydon, are never too far away from hyperbole.

Which is ironic, as Lydon is probably one of rock’s only protagonists who would loathe such language and sentiment. And that alone is always amusing.

But amusement aside, it’s hard not think in such terms when confronted by PiL’s live show.

It’s not that they’re breaking any new ground, they already did that some time ago. It’s not that they are rewriting the rules; they also did that quite some time ago. And it’s not that they are ageing gracefully, they are as disgraceful as ever. Lydon’s almost childlike persona and disbelief at the world around him seems somehow more authentic with age. He seems to have grown into his incredulity.

So what exactly is it they do live? In simple terms they hit hard, and they hit low. This isn’t lavish, or beautiful, and it isn’t about recreating the moment. Instead it seems more about celebrating the moment. These songs feel vibrant and relevant, whether recorded 30 years ago or yesterday. Tracks from their most recent record mingle appropriately with more recognised classics, and it’s no short change.


But as assured as new tracks like ‘Double Trouble‘ or ‘The One‘ may be, their impact does not, and may never, resonate quite as much as the moments that everyone present is there to see. To watch Lydon and PiL in full flow during classics such as ‘This Is Not a Love Song‘, ‘Rise‘ and ‘Public Image‘ is to witness when the hyperbole spills forth.

Click here for our full photo gallery from the Manchester show

The fire that burned in these songs is still present. ‘Public Image’ is almost the pinnacle of punk, what the Sex Pistols never achieved (but should have). Still today it feels vital, harsh and brilliant. ‘This Is Not a Love Song’ is as unhinged and obtuse live as it was when it was released, ‘Rise’ as jubilant a way to finish a show as any band could ever hope for.

This is a wonderfully exciting constant; ‘Poptones‘, ‘Warrior‘ and ‘Disappointed‘ all amaze, and all bring with them the intensity and excitement that becomes the staple setting for the evening. PiL may not be as young or as central to music as they once were, but that never affects the power of what they deliver. And deliver they do, time and time again.

PiL are originators, unwavering they have stood their ground even after all these years; they know what they do isn’t for everyone, and they quite simply don’t care. It’s this attitude which makes them so exciting live. What they do isn’t about driving sales, or pleasing crowds, it’s about the music and it always has been.

And it’s this commitment to the music itself that defines the performance. It’s all commitment and attitude and that is a truly brilliant combination when achieved with the kind of style and tunes that PiL have on all the pretenders.

Here, standing before a very excited Manchester crowd, are the originators, still bringing the thunder.

(Dylan Llewellyn-Nunes)

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Live Review: Pretty Vicious @ Tufnell Park Dome, London


Pitting major record labels against each other in vying for your signature before reaching the legal drinking age is a hint that things are going well.

Virgin EMI Records eventually won out and signed South Wales indie-quartet Pretty Vicious last January, then just 16 and 17 year olds. Following that, they supported the Manic Street Preachers, did the festival rounds (including Glastonbury) and released two singles.

A Friday night (September 25th) gig in North London’s intimate Tufnell Park Dome saw them illustrate why they pricked the ears of the music world at an age when most adolescents are just about figuring out how to make a G chord sound right.

Swaggering out without so much as a greeting to a mostly teenage audience, they bluster straight into ‘It’s Always There‘. Contrary to a lot of today’s fan-phobic, barriered venues, people here can and do squeeze up to the stage to within touching distance of the music, attentively bobbing to it. What a difference a song can make though. ‘National Plastic‘ (whose hooky riff smells of the Beatles‘ ‘You Can’t Do That‘) revs up limbs into an overdrive as severe as the guitars have on them, prompting moshing that hangs around in some form or other until the end of the show.

It’s not a performance without its glitches. Superficial ones like Jarvis Morgan‘s unruly bass strap during the first song are a minor irritant for him and the roadie on his knees with gaffer tape trying to fix it, while Morgan briefly pauses playing. More of an issue is the vocal mix struggling to be heard over the dense instruments on more than one occasion. Gripes over this from one or two watching go unheeded.

Even so, when confronted so closely by a frontman like Brad Griffith, it becomes rapidly apparent that they require seeing live at least once to be able to relish first-hand the raw, quiet-loud dichotomy of his vocals that a recording can only pass down second-hand.

Any fast and hard teenage indie music is subject to early Arctic Monkeys connotations and the link is palpable tonight in the manner they move around with heads down, backs arched, singing tales of town life (‘Cave Song‘). A cover of ‘I Wanna Be Your Dog‘, whilst by default being the best song of the night, doesn’t stand out in the way it could do down to their own numbers holding independent adrenaline in bellyfuls.

Maybe because they haven’t written enough songs to oblige one yet, there is no encore. Nor have they been around long enough to warrant the punk of all endings and smash their guitars up in mock anger, opting to carefully drop them before walking off as brazenly as they walked on.

Elders will say they are too young for this kind of success. Elders once denounced rock and roll as a fad. Don’t listen to them.

Go and watch Pretty Vicious instead.

(Steven White)

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Album Review: Reverend & The Makers – ‘Mirrors’

mirrorsAfter a middling but creatively heterogeneous four-album career, Reverend & The Makers deliver one of the year’s biggest surprises with their finest album yet.

Ideas have never been a problem for band-leader Jon McClure and his ragtag team of longtime collaborators, but on ‘Mirrors‘ the band display a keen sense purpose as they dip their feet into Nuggets-era psychedelia with rousing success.

Amsterdam’ opens the album with twirling circus bounce played on the organ. The smoldering groove on ‘Black Window’ sizzles with a reassured swagger as a dark chunky guitar riff compels the listener to head-bob along.

On previous releases, the “Reverend” had a tendency to preach with his subject matter, but on ‘Mirrors’ it seems McClure is more inclined to testify.

Never has the band commanded attention with such effortless authority. ‘…Window’ thus ranks as perhaps their finest moment yet.


Pairing up to create the album’s catchiest five minutes is the succinct baroque-pop of ‘Makin’ Babies’ and ‘Stuck On You’, the former a sweet-sour ballad that puckers with heartache, while the latter sways and stomps with a creeping sense of desperation. Elsewhere, the songwriting turns and shifts dynamic in tone and emotion. The meditative and haunting ‘Beach and The Sea’ serves as a chilling centerpiece for the album, and fuzzy guitars and sharp strings add a sly elegance to the drone blues of ‘My Mirror’, making for another standout.

‘Mirrors’ release coincides with a short-film of the same name. The film and record act as companion pieces, and the music is all the better for it. With its concise songwriting and focused aesthetic, the album plays like a soundtrack to a lost 60’s art-house film. The brisk length of most of the material spurs excitement as each song quickly sets and unfolds its particular scene, whilst uniformly progressing the album’s journey.

The southwestern skit of ‘El Cabrera’ gives a unique cinematic touch of tension by serving as an intermission from Side 1 to Side 2. ‘The Trip’ boosts the album with a jab of power-pop, whereas the country-tinged ‘Something To Remember’ sets the tone for the final sequence. Each song serves a purpose within the larger context of the album. The band’s unfortunate habit of being overly pastiche hasn’t completely faded however. ‘The Gun’ clumsily waltzes along in a lackluster Beatles-circa-67 psychedelia, while ‘Blue’ simply feels like a mediocre exercise in the blues.

The Rev and his musical congregation tend to their most potent music when they cater towards capturing a specific atmosphere, not a specific era. Sheffield’s roots and influence are captured on the chamber funk of ‘Mr. Glasshalfempty’ and the romantically lovelorn ‘Last To Know’, both reminiscent of McClure’s songwriting contemporary and collaborator Alex Turner – the subtle and fractured ‘Last To Know’ being especially notable.

By the time the credits come crawling in the slogging blues closer ‘Lay Me Down’, it’s clear McClure’s focused creative muse and execution has never been better.

Now a decade into their career, ‘Mirrors’ settles as Reverend & the Makers’ finest work to date, showcasing McClure’s artistic vision at its most pristine.

(Trey Tyler)

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