Haunt­ing har­monies

The Cot­ton Field Scare­crows Dancing Hymns And Bro­ken Rhymes (rev9:9)

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - MUSIC - Re­views by ADRIAN YAP C.K. en­ter­tain­ment@thes­tar.com.my

NOR­MALLY it would be hard to stomach a home­grown band at­tempt­ing to add State­side flavour by nam­ing its songs af­ter far­away US cities that hold no sig­nif­i­cance to lis­ten­ers here. But the Sul­tan broth­ers, Jo­hann and Shahrhyl, play their brand of Amer­i­cana folk with such un­bri­dled con­vic­tion that you could eas­ily for­give them for a tune ti­tled Let­ter From Ten­nessee.

As The Cot­ton Field Scare­crows, the duo has crafted a highly ro­man­ti­cised al­bum that re­flects the group’s mu­sic out­look and back­porch dreams.

Opener Grass Be­neath The Petals sets the tone of the record per­fectly, a song with a strong hym­nal pres­ence.

Tracks like Flower Child and On A Shoe­string cap­ture a stark yet beau­ti­ful lo-fi land­scape un­heard in these parts.

Not many lo­cal al­bums can boast such bliss­ful blues-folk fram­ings. With an ar­se­nal of vin­tage and rare record­ing equip­ment at their dis­posal, the Ipoh/Shah Alam-raised half broth­ers have gone through a rather painstak­ing process of try­ing to cre­ate an al­bum (eight tunes) that’s dis­placed from time, and they’ve suc­ceeded for the most part.

It’s some­what dis­ori­en­tat­ing to be­lieve that each gui­tar lick, brush of a snare and horn line here has been made in these mod­ern times. Such is the duo’s fiercely holis­tic fo­cus to this record­ing process.

The crisp gui­tar play­ing across this al­bum brings to mind un­sung Amer­i­cana gui­tarist David Rawl­ings, while early Iron & Wine haunts the cor­ners here.

It would also be some­what lazy to ref­er­ence The Cot­ton Field Scare­crows to Amer­i­can band Fleet Foxes, not that the broth­ers them­selves would mind given that they’ve en­gaged Ed Brooks (who worked on the Fleet Foxes’ de­but) to mas­ter Dancing Hymns And

Bro­ken Rhymes in the United States. But it is from this com­par­i­son that the lessons-to-be-learned also comes to the fore. While Fleet Foxes are mag­nif­i­cent when it comes to vo­cal range and dy­namic in­stru­men­ta­tion, The Cot­ton Field Scare­crows can sound a lit­tle too me­an­der­ing with its ar­range­ments. But these are mi­nor blem­ishes to pol­ish out.

The blue­print The Cot­ton Field Scare­crows have cho­sen to build on is al­ready re­mark­able, so the duo can only get bet­ter from here on.

Con­tact the band at www.face­book.com/the­cot­ton­field­scare­crowes.

Jake Bugg shangriLa (uni­ver­sal Mu­sic)

ON this sopho­more al­bum from one of Bri­tain’s more re­cent and dis­tinc­tive singer­song­writ­ers, you get the feel­ing that de­trac­tors would be quick to la­bel young Jake Bugg a “one-trick pony.” That could pos­si­bly be true but un­de­ni­ably, it’s a good trick.

Scratchy and bluesy folk mu­sic may not light the Top 40 charts but for the fans who never get tired of this rugged genre, there can never be enough of it.

Bugg’s bril­liant Light­ning Bolt, off his de­but, had enough bo­hemian folk wis­dom in it to prob­a­bly put a smile on Dy­lan’s face.

It’s on the back of this trick that Bugg largely rides through this sopho­more test. Shangri

La is an al­bum where Bugg can be found de­vel­op­ing a leaner and meaner sound.

Melod­i­cally, noth­ing quite jumps up at you in the way Light­ning Bolt and Two Fin­gers did on his de­but. But the raw vibe re­mains very much the same.

There are meaty tunes to sink into here, es­pe­cially the bril­liantly ti­tled There’s A Beast

And We All Feed It and King­pin. For cer­tain, this chap can deliver the groove-based blues and folk rock flavoured soul.

Pro­ducer Rick Ru­bin also gives solid guid­ance to this young talent through this al­bum, rop­ing in drum­mer Pete Thomas (Elvis Costello and Tom Waits) to add much needed colour and dy­nam­ics to the set.

The fact that Bugg, 19, is able to carve these char­ac­ter­is­ti­cally strong records like the last 40 years of mu­sic did not ex­ist is re­ally some­thing to be­hold.

Hard to imag­ine, but at one time, Bugg had trou­ble fill­ing 100-ca­pac­ity folk clubs in Bri­tain, now he’s draw­ing arena sized crowds in Amer­ica. Long may he run.

Paul McCart­ney New (uni­ver­sal Mu­sic)

IT’S prob­a­bly im­pos­si­ble try­ing to live up to a legacy like Sir Paul McCart­ney’s. A lesser man would have given up try­ing to make mu­sic. Well, cer­tainly any new mu­sic.

And for a while the 71-year-old Liver­pudlian wasn’t quite sure what to do, shuf­fling be­tween play­ing the pop scene’s chart game ( Mem­ory Al­most Full al­bum) and mak­ing an in­signif­i­cant back-to-roots al­bum ( Kisses On The Bot­tom) that nei­ther lived up to his legacy or in­di­cated a push to­wards some­thing new. Of course, McCart­ney isn’t an Amer­i­can

Song­book- ver­sion of Rod Ste­wart. But 2005’s Chaos And Cre­ation In The

Back­yard sig­nalled a McCart­ney will­ing to ex­per­i­ment. Pro­duced by Nigel Go­drich, that al­bum saw the for­mer Bea­tle tak­ing big­ger sonic risks and in a way, fi­nally plant­ing his flag on where he wanted to go with the lat­ter part of his ca­reer. He got side­tracked a lit­tle in re­cent years.

But we’re happy to re­port that McCart­ney has found his form again on New, an al­bum that ac­tu­ally sounds good from front to back. The 1960s fuzzy garage gui­tars on On My Way To Work is a bold move but the re­sults are sat­is­fy­ing.

And opener Save Us is a driv­ing rocker, but not in a geri­atric way, thanks to its time­less use of four-part har­monies and brood­ing melodies.

The pro­duc­tion team, which in­cludes Giles Martin, Mark Ron­son, Ethan Johns and Paul Ep­worth, has brought fresh spark to this record.

Make no mis­take, even with some new fix­tures, this is un­mis­tak­ably a Paul McCart­ney al­bum. That bit­ter­sweet sense of melody and chord work may have been repli­cated count­less times over the years by oth­ers, but this is straight from the orig­i­nal source.

New, thank­fully, is not en­tirely an ironic name for the al­bum. There is some truth to it.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Malaysia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.