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Frank Turner Campfire Punkrock Review

General Information:

Artist: Frank Turner
Album: Campfire Punkrock
Genre(s): Folk, Folk Rock
Subgenres(s): N/A
Released: 2006
Length: 18 minutes
Language(s): English
Label(s): Xtra Mile Recordings, Good Friends Records

Track List:

01. Nashville Tennessee
02. Thatcher Fucked The Kids
03. This Town Ain’t Big Enough For The One Of Me
04. Casanova Lament
05. I Really Don’t Care What You Did On Your Gap Year

Frank Turner Campfire Punkrock Cover

Frank Turner Campfire Punkrock Cover

Frank Turner Campfire Punkrock Review

Campfire Punkrock is the first solo release of British folk musician Frank Turner. Taking the form of an acoustic folk EP, he departs from the punk rock sound of his previous band, Million Dead, entirely and it’s evident from the get-go that his voice is much more suited to the stripped down folk sound he has opted for.

His earnest lyricism always takes centre stage with the first song, a folk rock number titled Nashville Tennessee, acts as a sort of introduction to himself and his self-awareness when he sings “from the start, the land scaped my sound, before I’d ever been to America” as well as other references to his transatlantic influences while lacking knowledge of American geography from which they come. There’s also a sarcastic undertone to be found when he claims “and if I knew anybody who played pedal steel guitar/I’d get them in my band and then my band would get real far” as he points out the conventions, or formula, of country music that influenced him while defending himself by saying “and yes I’m in four-four time, and yes I use cheap, cheap rhymes/but I try to make a sound my own” and concludes his observations with a simple and honest mission statement of “the only thing I’m offering is me”.

This Town Ain’t Big Enough For The One Of Me continues the upbeat folk rock sound to sing about escaping from his current town of residence and cites “…talking to girls hazardous to my health. They’ve been in this gene pool so long they’ve got wrinkled toes” and “I still want to be buried here, just like I said but I’d prefer it if you’d wait until I’m actually dead” as his concerns whereas Thatcher Fucked The Kids shows a completely different side of Frank Turner.

He drops his backing band for a solo song using only his voice and acoustic guitar to dive into the world of protest songs. As the title implies, it focuses on former British Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and how she affected the youth of society in his eyes. The punk rock passion flairs up in his scathing analysis which ranges from calling children “a violent bunch of bastard little shits” to addressing the upper class reducing social mobility by saying that “as they were settled as the richest of the rich/they kicked away the ladder, told the rest of us that life’s a bitch”.

Casanova Lament and I Really Don’t Care What You Did On Your Gap Year shake things up further in terms of song-writing as they are low-key compared to the first three songs. The former being from the school of sad sounding singer-songwriters sitting on a stool sullenly and the latter brings the backing band into the mix again but without the energy that grips the listener at the beginning of Campfire Punkrock. This leaves the EP flagging a bit towards the end but Frank Turner’s ability to tell stories and convey his thoughts through matter-of-fact lyrics are the biggest strength and draw of Campfire Punkrock that will keep listeners attentive.

Performers:

Frank Turner: Acoustic Guitar, Vocals
Ben Lloyd: Electric Guitar
Nigel Powell: Drums
Tarrant Anderson: Bass

External Links:

Frank Turner Homepage
Frank Turner on Wikipedia
Campfire Punkrock on Wikipedia

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New Model Army The Ghost of Cain Review

General Information:

Artist: New Model Army
Album: The Ghost of Cain
Genre(s): Rock, Folk Rock
Subgenres(s): Post-Punk
Released: 1986
Length: 35 minutes
Language(s): English
Label(s): EMI

Track List:

01. The Hunt
02. Lights Go Out
03. 51st State
04. All of This
05. Poison Street
06. Western Dream
07. Lovesong
08. Heroes
09. Ballad
10. Master Race

New Model Army The Ghost of Cain Cover

New Model Army The Ghost of Cain Cover

New Model Army The Ghost of Cain Review

The Ghost of Cain is the third studio album by British post-punk outfit New Model Army. Unlike a great number of other rock bands, New Model Army has a big emphasis on narrative-driven lyrics that touch on serious themes of justice, politics and social issues.

This is outlined right from the get-go with The Hunt, which deals with street justice in a town overrun by drug dealers and thugs that are untouchable due to corruption and fear. 51st State is an irony-soaked acoustic song about American exceptionalism while Master Race reflects on countries acting like the world police because of their arrogant sense of superiority.

Western Dream is perhaps the most serious in terms of lyrical content when Justin Sullivan pessimistically looks at “the bitterness of failure and the dirt of success” in the western world. He goes on to sing about how sometimes it looks like there are only two choices; know your place or “trample over everyone” to be successful while living with the dirt of doing so.

Every instrument has been mixed with a high degree of clarity so that they are all represented equally on The Ghost of Cain. This means that the bass can not only be heard clearly, which is a rarity in rock music, but it proves to be an integral part of the New Model Army sound. There is also a noticeable influence from folk music on 51st State, All of This and Lovesongs while Poison Street and the dusty sounding Ballad feature the harmonica courtesy of Mark Feltham.

All of these inclusions play perfectly into the post-punk ethos of expanding beyond punk rock’s simplistic 3 chords of fury to explore more artistic possibilities while maintaining the same energy and passion.

Performers:

Justin Sullivan: Vocals, Guitar
Robert Heaton: Drums
Jason “Moose” Harris: Bass
Mark Feltham: Harmonica (Poison Street and Ballad)

External Links:

New Model Army Homepage
New Model Army on Wikipedia
The Ghost of Cain on Wikipedia

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Fleet Foxes Helplessness Blues Review

Fleet Foxes Helplessness Blues Review

Artist: Fleet Foxes
Album: Helplessness Blues
Genre(s): Folk, Folk Rock
Subgenres(s): Progressive Folk
Released: 2011
Length: 50 minutes
Language(s): English
Label(s): Bella Union, Sub Pop

Track List:

01. Montezuma
02. Bedouin Dress
03. Sim Sala Bim
04. Battery Kinzie
05. The Plains/Bitter Dancer
06. Helplessness Blues
07. The Cascades
08. Lorelei
09. Someone You’d Admire
10. The Shrine/An Argument
11. Blue Spotted Tail
12. Grown Ocean

Fleet Foxes Helplessness Blues Cover

Helplessness Blues is the second album by American folk band Fleet Foxes. While having many of the hallmarks of their self-titled debut, Helplessness Blues show some growth in the Fleet Foxes repertoire that proves they aren’t afraid to branch out. The song-writing has gotten more adventurous with half of them averaging 4.5 minutes compared to their debut which only has 3 songs over the 4 minute mark. Elements of progressive music have also trickled in with the influence being most noticeable on The Plains/Bitter Dancer, Helplessness Blues and The Shrine/An Argument.

While the title Helplessness Blues could allure to an influence from blues music this isn’t the case. It would be more accurate to say Fleet Foxes are singing the blues as many of their lyrical themes deal with reflection, finding your place in life, sadness and nostalgia. Nature is still a recurring theme though it is less central than it was on their debut.

In all of the diverse instrumentation found on Helplessness Blues, the only low point to mention is the trumpet on The Shrine/An Argument. It sounds like it is being sexually assaulted by a feral badger when Fleet Foxes summons the worst of Neutral Milk Hotel on an otherwise standout song.

Fleet Foxes push themselves creatively and come out on top so if you can overlook the trumpet incident there’s no reason not to pick up Helplessness Blues.

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Dropkick Murphys Signed and Sealed in Blood Review

Artist: Dropkick Murphys
Album: Signed and Sealed in Blood
Genre(s): Folk, Rock
Subgenres(s): Folk Rock, Hardcore Punk, Punk Rock
Released: 2013
Length: 41 minutes
Language(s): English
Label(s): Born & Bred Records

Track List:

01. The Boys Are Back
02. Prisoner’s Song
03. Rose Tattoo
04. Burn
05. Jimmy Collins Wake
06. The Seasons Upon Us
07. The Battle Rages On
08. Don’t Tear Us Apart
09. My Hero
10. Out on the Town
11. Out of Our Heads
12. End of the Night

Dropkick Murphys Signed and Sealed in Blood Cover

Dropkick Murphys Signed and Sealed in Blood Review

Signed and Sealed in Blood is the Dropkick Murphys 8th album overall and if you’re familiar with their previous output then you’ll already have a rough idea of what you’re in for. But for those not in the know, the septet mixes bagpipes, acoustic guitars, whistles and accordions among other instruments with the standard punk rock format of guitar, bass and drums to forge an unforgettable and explosive listening experience.

Sonically, the majority of the songs are still firmly rooted in the folk punk style that they have become known for, but this time around there seems to be a stronger emphasis on creating the most glorious gang shouts and infectious hooks possible. The album features a few folk-centric songs that bring the folk instrumentation to the centre of the stage and Out on the Town even allows for a chirpy whistling break mid-song. All of this makes for a subtle, yet noticeable change in composition that allows the band to retain their trademark attitude and personality, all while branching out enough to keep their well-defined style fresh and interesting.

The vocals are clearly sung, spluttered, shouted, bellowed and chanted by 6 of the 7 band members over the course of the album. Lyrics tend to revolve around drinking, celebrating, unity and situations in life as told through fictional characters. The best example of this is in The Seasons Upon Us, a sarcastic caricature of a dysfunctional family that recounts their miserable annual Christmas gathering and is guaranteed to leave you grinning. It’s worth noting that while being a Christmas song, albeit unconventional, the way in which the lyrics are written make it timeless so that it can enjoy at any time of the year and not just when the Christmas season comes around.

The band tones back the cacophony on occasion but they rarely slow down the tempo significantly. The exception to this trend is End of the Night, a somewhat sombre sounding song that lets the listener know that the album is coming to its end. It features a rare appearance of the piano, not the most commonly used instrument in their arsenal, which is also used on Don’t Tear Us Apart to create a memorable opening and makes another small appearance later during the bridge.

Signed and Sealed in Blood is packed full of memorable choruses, catchy hooks and a passionate, energetic performance that blends 2 distinct genres, several singing styles and a variety of instruments into just over 40 minutes, which prevents it from overstaying its welcome. It will keep you coming back for more listen after listen and because of this, it could already be on its way to becoming one of the best albums of 2013.

External Links:

Dropkick Murphys Homepage
Dropkick Murphys on Wikipedia | Signed and Sealed in Blood on Wikipedia
Dropkick Murphys on Discogs | Signed and Sealed in Blood on Discogs