Music to your ears
Soothing sounds are a feature this month, headed up by the evergreen troubadour Neil Young, in contrast to a stunning debut from an English rock guitar whiz. Greg Bush writes
CUT AGAINST THE GRAIN
Aaron Keylock is the latest teenage sensation to emerge from the UK’s vibrant music scene. Keylock, however, is no R&B artist or would-be pop idol – he’s an accomplished rock and blues guitarist whose music exudes high energy. Keylock had a handing in writing all 11 tracks on Cut Against The Grain, his debut album, the music moving from slow but assured blues numbers such as ‘Just One Question’ to the slide guitar frenzy of ‘Against The Grain’. Keylock gives his vocals a workout on ‘All The Right Moves’, a high-octane rock song, while ‘Medicine Man’ is akin to Marc Bolan meeting Rory Gallagher. The slightly laid-back ‘Try’, with a touch of country flavour, adds another dimension to his music. Fabrizio Grossi, who has worked with Alice Cooper, Slash and others, produced Cut Against The Grain, giving it that magic touch.
Australian troubadour Carus Thompson has carved out a nice career since 1995, although his fan base in Europe may have surpassed that of his home country. Island is Thompson’s first album in five years, and he returns with an inspiring batch of new songs, most of which he wrote or co-wrote. With his honest, earthy vocals, Thompson sings of “strangers with dead eyes” on ‘Beach Fires’, a poignant statement of the ice epidemic inflicting Australia’s rural areas. The mid-paced soft rocker ‘Crash Land’ illustrates the music industry’s dark side, and there’s a bright calypso beat to ‘Starved Myself Pretty’. Thompson drifts from Perth’s Cottesloe Beach to Mexico on the pianobacked ballad ‘Go There With You’ and brings out the Hammond organ for the upbeat ‘Lies’. Eskimo Joe guitarist Joel Quartermain co-wrote several songs, as well as producing this exceptional album.
The Franklin Electric, hailing from Montreal, Canada, is the brainchild of Jon Matte, the chief songwriter and lead vocalist. Matte, who won a Nashville songwriting competition in 2012, formed The Franklin Electric, which released its debut album This Is How I Let You
Down in 2014. A strong start, however the follow-up Blue Ceilings lifts the band’s stocks up another notch. The new album opens via a killer slow rock track ‘I Know The Feeling’ with a melody that hooks the listener in immediately. ‘All Along’, an introspective multi-tempo song, is equally catchy. The band’s sound is ambient rock, and piano is prominent, notably on ballads such as ‘Walk With You’ and the enchanting title track. ‘Save Yourself’, however, is another song of contrasts, moving between light and shade. Blue
Ceilings would make a nice fit in anyone’s music collection.