by Eastsider
posted 16/03/2017



To listen or purchase click ≈≈≈ or album artwork

The Teskey Brothers Half Mile Harvest

Half Mile Harvest ≈≈≈
(Half Mile Harves Records)
by Chelsea Deeley

Four lads from Warrandyte making warm, tender soul music is a harsh simplification of the latest album by Victorian quartet The Teskey Brothers. It’s an opening sentence that barely scrapes the surface of the band or the efforts that went into this psyche-nourishing record, a record so smooth that after it’s 51 minutes ends, leaves you reaching for that play button once more.

The track list boasts nods to both soul and blues music of years gone by, with distinct sounds that trace back to the works of Donny Hathaway, Sam Cooke and B.B King to name a few. But there are also distinct guitar lines that nod to a sort of alt-country swagger, one that dances the divide between all three of these genres.

It’s no more apparent than in fourth track Shiny Moon, a track that plods in with a distinct country-esque twang in the guitar line and a smooth, understated vocal chorus. It’s starkly in contrast to the three preceding tracks: lead single Pain and Misery with it’s emotionally-distorted lead vocals, the blues-encrusted second track I Love A Woman with a sharp yet welcomed harmonica break, and opening jewel Crying Shame with it’s abrupt-sounding rhythm guitar juxtaposed against a light-hearted drum pace.

The rest of the album is full of stirring expressions of love and emotion, yet each bringing subtle sonic differences. Sixth track Louisa sets paces racing with handclaps, funky basslines and a catchy lyrical structure throughout, while eighth track Til’ The Sky Turns Black is another bluesy track hinting at country, with a forlorn and distant vocal line that descends into an eerie harmony in the last minute of the song.

The album was recorded entirely onto a 24-track Studer 2-inch tape machine, and mixed completely in analogue too, so the method only hints to the style and ambience of this fantastic record. It’s a stellar fact that authenticity reeks from every note, undoubtedly an impressive feat for four boys from Victoria who’s influences date back almost 50 years.

Reviewed by Chelsea Deeley
(Amrap / presenter of The New Thing)

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Leave On a Light: The Songs of Karl Broadie

Leave On A Light:
The Songs of Karl Broadie ≈≈≈

(Universal Music/Universal)
by James Tsai

To be very honest, I had no idea who musician Karl Broadie was until a friend of mine, Michael Roberts (musical director/producer of this album) mentioned to me last year about a close buddy of his who was dying of pancreatic cancer and the minuscule chance of one surviving the damn thing. Anyway, now Broadie is gone (at only 44 years of age), but as they say, the songs are still here. And what great songs they are.

Broadie’s Scottish heritage obviously (to me anyway) had a strong influence on the way he composed his music. I can hear hints, spectres of fellow countrymen like Mike Scott of The Waterboys, Robin Williamson of The Incredible String Band fame, and even some evidence of Jack Bruce, plus a strong dose of Dylan and Americana in general. Broadie’s output is a beautiful cauldron mix of all of the above.

After listening to the album almost ten times over now, I can imagine it to be the alternate soundtrack to director David Mackenzie‘s recent film ‘Hell or High Water’ which features the music of Nick Cave, Townes Van Zandt, Waylon Jennings, and alternate country-punk Scott H. Biram. And here I am comparing Broadie’s music to the output of these high calibre musicians, and kid you not, Broadie’s music/lyrics is at eye-to-eye level with these cats.

There are far too many interpreters on the nineteen tracks here, and obviously I won’t get to mention them all here. Interestingly, most of my favourite songs on this album are performed by female artists. To me, Broadie had a certain sensibility in his song writing that female performers are totally comfortable with. Stand-out songs for me are: Leave on A Light by the daughter and father team Kasey and Bill Chambers, Drink the Whole Bottle Down by Katie Brianna and Caitlin Harnett, and If He Calls by Jasmine Rae. Please don’t get me wrong, the remaining sixteen are just as great as these three, it’s just that I have this ‘thing’ with tear-inducing lyrics when I get a private moment. Also, Harry Hookey‘s beautiful live rendition of Long Long Way deserves a very special mention. Album producer Michael Roberts did an amazing job of pulling together nineteen performances and making them into one coherent and seamless whole. I guess Karl Broadie never received his dues in his lifetime, and I sincerely hope this album will help to change that.

Reviewed by James Tsai
(Radio Free Alice / co-presenter of Spirit House)

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Lazaro Numa Mi Cuba

Mi Cuba ≈≈≈
by Paris Pompor

Trumpeter Lázaro Ernest Numa Pompa returned to his birthplace, Cuba to record this eight-tune love letter serenading his musical lineage and its Caribbean island home. Also an accomplished pianist, there in the country’s capital Havana, the now 30 year-old horn player had already clocked up a decade of experience in the city’s orchestras whilst still just a 20-something. These days Melbourne, Australia is home and if you follow the new wave of Latin music spilling from Sydney’s far more vibrant southern sister city, you would have already witnessed his talents in impressive outfits like the ten-piece Quarter Street, or the more fusion-focussed San Lazaro. Both these bands have excellent albums released by Brunswick’s Hope Street label, but for Mi Cuba, Lázaro showcases his own compositions and steps out solo, albeit with the backing of more than ten polished and noteworthy players. For example: Manuel “Guajiro” Mirabal, a founding member of the Buena Vista Social Club, is just one of the guest soloists who also brings trumpet chops to the recording.

Utterly romantic from start to finish, these largely instrumental compositions are a nod to the past. Dedicated to “all the great Soneros” the music transports the listener to smokey, rum fuelled gatherings of yesteryear, where percussive polyrhythms cast a puppeteer’s spell over pelvises just as the tawny, muted sound of trumpets caused their owners to swoon. And if looking back is something of a theme here, then it’s easy to imagine a repeated phrase of notes in Omara‘s mournful melody is a deliberate nod to McCartney-Lennon evergreen, Yesterday. Even when drum and piano rhythms turn more fevered, as in mid-album tune Numa’s Conga, Lázaro’s trumpet playing remains tuneful favouring a slower counter-rhythm of sustained, considered notes rather than frenetic stabs.

In the album’s second tune, the self-explanitory Habana 1920, cantering percussion gives way to a jazz passage that swings effortlessly with the addition of a snaking solo by guest a clarinet player: Cuba’s Javier Zalba (¡Cubanismo!/Afro-Cuban All Stars). At the other end of the LP, human voices finally appear for the last two compositions (both among my favourites): Mi Profe Y Yo and Valentina (the second presumably named after Lázaro’s young daughter). Yet even here, the voice is used more as a percussive instrument instead of singing long passages of lyrics. On the first of those, which translates to “My Teacher And I”, resident Havana singer Akira Colarte Torres briefly adds her sunny tone to proceedings, giving it a dreamy quality that suggests the teacher’s easy on the eye. Also soloing is Arturo Cruz Robledo on tres, a Cuban guitar with a distinctive tone associated with Son Cubana. Ending strongly with Valentina, timbales are in full, celebrity effect as Lázaro himself soars on trumpet.

Reviewed by Paris Pompor
(Groovescooter / co-presenter The Vinyl Frontier)

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The Scorpios Afro7 Sudanese Londoners

The Scorpios ≈≈≈
by Paris Pompor

Made up of seven Sudanese musicians who fled their homeland, The Scorpios now release their debut album on the blog/store-turned-label Afro7 who earlier released a 7-inch single from the band entitled Yaelhajarok/Yadob Yadob (both songs also turning up here). The A-side of that single, Yaelhajarok is an instant album standout, its heels-digging-in-the-dirt style of one-riff funk coupled with female/male vocal chant sparring is crudely hypnotic. Now based in West London, the band must be quite an experience live if this style of deeply rooted groove is any indication of how they sound on stage. According to their record label, the band perform traditional tribal songs from central Sudan mixed with Arabic strains and the western influences that found their way to Sudan during the ’60s and ’70s. We’re talking funk, jazz, blues and rock ‘n’ roll, which let’s face it were all products of the African diaspora anyway.

Four years in the making, the album comes in a unique all-encompassing package that includes 12-inch vinyl LP, a CD and an MP3 download code for your mobile playing device. It is such a beguiling, slowly-shifting amalgam that The Scorpios forge and one which dispels ideas of highly-charged, energised dance music from the African continent. Most of these tunes are more about settling into a shuffling trance than working up a rug-cutting sweat. One moment it’s a toe-gazing subdued vocal over brushed drum kit coupled with jazzy hollow-body Gibson-like licks and micro outbursts of synthesizer, the next it’s wah-wah guitar vamping and woozy horns for one of the funkier grooves, Saparna. Midway through, during Benreed El Etam, we’re treated to a lone, near-wailing female vocal over a sparse rhythm, sans any other accompaniment. Elsewhere the gorgeously plucked and strummed nylon guitar meanderings of Safar are another standout, coming not long before the meditative closer, La ShaftakTabel Elshoog. Lovely stuff.

Reviewed by Paris Pompor
(Groovescooter / co-presenter The Vinyl Frontier)

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