22 July 2017

Restaurnaut/Wica Intina - That Too Long Hour Never Dim Enough To Sleep

I have been tardy with my submission reviews recently, but having about 80 to micro-review has took a lot of time.  But this review is one I have been holding onto for long enough.  This a split release from Restaurnaut and Wica Intina.  Wica Intina is one of the pseudo names that Dakota Brown, resident of Tennessee, artist, musician and multi-media maverick goes under when he is not releasing music under the Sheep Bella Tine name.  Restaurnaut are a four piece from Siloam Springs, Arkansas and their music is described as Horse Music, Music Brut, Folka Dot, Lo-fi Country Hit and Experimental Decade Base......OR (as they have a different bio on the Bandcamp page to their Facebook page) it is Nick Dolezal by himself.  He is the owner of Kerchow Records in Chino, CA and his style is based his music on (and I have taken this straight from the Bandcamp page) from his ability to draw his power from being both intimate AND anthemic, kicking out simple yet freakfolktastic ditties that cannot be ignored, with all the candour, Lo-Fi aesthetic, and insight of early Modest Mouse demos and Daniel Johnston.  That is quite a boast on that one, also it is an interest concept as well that I will be exploring on this release.  The first nine track are performed by Restaurant and the remaining seven are performed by Wica Intina - time to see how they sound.

01 - Restaurnaut - Luckiest Loser

I can see the Modest Mouse comparison straight away on this one, it has a tone that would not have been out of place on 'We Were Dead Before the Ship Was Sinking'.  It is an one off recording by the sounds of it, with no rehashing as you can hear when the strings of the guitars being hit wrong and it gives it a live demo charm.  I really like this song, it is a strange little number with a bizarre and crazy rhythm that has stuck in my mind.

02 - Restaurnaut - Oblivion

The beginning of this song sounds familiar from the first note, but it soon moves onto a beautifully strange and haunted number.  It floats around as the words about destruction and the shitty side of life drift past you with the feeling of an aftershock, it does sounds as if it has been created to be played after a truly loud explosion has gone off and the noise has died down.  It is an enjoyable song, in a given sense as the words are not exactly about the happiest subject.

03 - Restaurnaut - A Perfect Day

'A Perfect Day' has a gothic feeling about it, a bit like an old English band called Dream City Film Club when they were in their minimalist period.  It is a haunting number, there is an enthral quality to the song and it could be used in an old B-movie or a Twin Peaks montage.  It is a strange number, but sadly it is a little too short which is a shame.

04 - Restaurnaut - Green Mist

What a strange number, it has some bizarre percussion that sounds like it is being made from old construction pipes.  The Modest Mouse influence is prevalent once more on ‘Green Mist’ as the song progresses, it is another strange and wondrous number that keeps the audience guessing all the way through.

05 - Restaurnaut - You’ll Never Be Alone
Restaurant really do lay on the strange vibe on this one, this haunted song about love and separation is really good.  The lo-fi recording brings it to life, I do not think this would work with a full band behind it.  It is just a ukulele, some strange sound effects and a dual vocal, simple and effective.

06 - Restaurnaut - The Jackalope

A song about strange beliefs that people have, some of them are real and some of them are false, but it has a soft centre about believing in a loved one.  It is just over a minute in length and it is short and sweet, a bit like this review of it.

07 - Restaurnaut - Concession Stand Gospel

After so many solo songs, it seems a bit strange to have a full band (as minimal as it is) playing on ‘Concession Stand Gospel’.  It is much of the same for Restaurnaut here, a bizarre little number that has so many strange hooks and it starts to bleed into one constant mantra, with the audience feeling it is watching the end of the final episode of the sixties TV series ‘The Prisoner’.  It is a great song, but it keeps on looping at times.

08 - Restaurnaut  - QR Code

An ode to being incompatible and have differences too vast, but this is in relation to being a QR Code and a Bar Code.  It is a strange number, but it has a charm about it with a surreal edge that makes it more than just a one-joke wonder.  The gentle guitar work is great and the odd notes in the background give it an uneven edge, I really like this one.

09 - Restaurnaut - When I’m Gone

Restaurnaut end their half of the release with a solo work that looks at all the things that will happen when someone has left, all those little annoyance that drive the other person to distraction will be fixed and the world would probably lose a little bit of its colour.  It is a gentle number, it sounds like it has been created in absolute silence and if a pin had have dropped, it would have sound like thunder.  It is a hard ending to this section o the release, it is well crafted and beautiful.

10 - Wica Intina - Bismillah

Wica Intina bring a lo-fi element to this recording, you can hear the clicks of the recording equipment as the song develops.  It feels like the scruffy twin to ‘When I’m Gone’ by Restaurnaut, they share the same drive and timing making them a natural pairing.  A gentle start to the second half of the album.

11 - Wica Intina - Central Memorial for Rose

You can hear the strings being scratched, the scrapping of the plectrum and the hiss of the air as the song was recorded.  This dark Lo-Fi song is brilliant, the background hissing, the low vocals and the bleak rhythm is beautiful.  It is a great song.

12 - Wica Intina - Cruel and Thin

As I have never heard the original of ‘Cruel and Thin’ by Sun City Girls, it is hard for me to compare to the original.  The song drones on, rarely changing place and it sounds delightful, after I have finished this, I am going to check out the original.

13 - Wica Intina - Open Wrists with Wit

This is not the happiest of tunes, but I think the title alone would have made that obvious.  It is more Lo-Fi, acoustic drone that would not be out of place on a Today Is The Day album if they went acoustic.  I think the style here, the absence of high end sound adds to the charm.

14 - Wica Intina - Legendary Rain

There is a change to the sound on this song, it is lacking the hissing and Lo-Fi noise that has made the first batch of Wica Intina songs so special.  It is still a good song, but I am missing the hiss on this one.

15 - Wica Intina -  Ballad Victim of the Victim of “Amour”

Now, I would have liked to have reviewed this song, but on the Bandcamp page it is the same as ‘Legendary Rain’.  I have no idea which is which, so I will move on to the last song of the release.

16 - Wica Intina - Spirit Vapor Bath (Ftrg. Mee-kah)

Now this is a great song to end the album on, it sorts of brings everything together.  It is another piece that will have Lo-Fi acoustic fans in rapture, it is one that keeps on giving and it brings the album to a beautiful ending.

Ok, here is the rub for both.  Restaurnaut are so heavily in debt to Modest Mouse that it hurts, but it is also done with an original flair and it sounds fantastic.  It is a project that seems to have legs and I hope that they release further albums.

Wica Intina is a joy to listen to as always, making some of the darkest pieces of acoustic music I have heard in 2017.  I love the Lo-Fi, almost Gothic element of it, the notes that are dropped, the slight imperfections that adds a natural element and help remind you how music can sound so fragile and sometimes better when it is not polished.  Sometimes music recorded in the moment is perfect for not being perfect, the imperfections are what make it special.

Together, they are estranged twins in a way, both forging their way in the world on slightly different paths and both feel as if their creators have added a lot of passion to their projects.  It is those DIY/Lo-Fi elements of this release that give it a charm that you cannot get from an album by artists like Ed Sheeran, Rhianna and other top 40 illuminati.    I love it, it has a warmth at its dark heart and it sounds fascinating.  This is a brilliant split release, one I would recommend to anyone who wants to see what else is out there.

7 out of ten – This is good and worth checking out.

Danny and the Champions of the World - Brilliant Light

Danny and the Champions of the World are an Americana/Folk Rock/Soul hybrid band from London, UK who have been going since 2007.  This is their seventh album in total and it is also a brave move, something which could be a clincher to whether you listen to the album at all.  It is a double album, one which has 18 songs, that is a gutsy decision right there.  I applaud the band for having the bravery to release an album of this length, but I will get to my feels at the end of the review.  They have been making waves with this album, it has been getting good press, but how will I feel about it?  Well, there is only one way to find out.

01 – Waiting for the Right Time

A song about wanting to move on from ones’ problems starts this album, it has an Americana flavour from the beginning, a hint of Social Distortion attitude without the punk leanings and the party is slowly warming up as this tale of freedom unfolds.  It has a sound that reminds me a bit of Bruce Springsteen and The Decemberists, it feels like it is drenched in experience that is hard to teach.  It is a song that is also typical of the Americana genre, it is very formal and steeped in tradition.  This is not a bad thing, it sets out the store for the band early on.

02 – Bring Me to My Knees

‘Bring Me to My Knees’ is a song about being in a constricting, toxic relationship opens this album, with all those doubts and pains wrapping around the person who has experienced a major revelation.  It is a solid number, it has doubt at its heart and the pace is steady.  It is not exploding out of the block, but it is doing all the right things for this genre.  So, steady as she goes on this one.

03 – It Hit Me

Once again, we are in the throes of love/conflict and it has come out of nowhere.  There is a Caribbean feeling to this number, maybe it is the organ mixing with the horns, the way the slide guitar sounds and it sounds pleasant enough.  I am not the biggest fan of this style of song, but I cannot fault the playing.  Not for me, but I am sure it will excite someone else.

04 – You’ll Remember Me

A song about what happens once you have parted company or this mortal realm, which is played against a slow style that is for slow dancing and lovers embracing.  It reminds me a bit of Chris Rea and Van Morrison in places, it is almost that sort of song that has a blues vein running through it.  It is another song that does not excitement so much, but I can see it doing well for their audience.  Remember, sometimes there is a difference between a song you are not a fan of and one that is all out shite – this falls in the former category and I cannot fault it.

05 – Swift Street

A song about memories of the past coming back to the centre of your mind, all those sounds and smells that make memories come to life are on show here.  It is a strong song, one that comes across with enough emotion to level anyone who possesses a heart that is not cold.  It is a beautiful number, one that will be able to bring a tear to the eye of the hardest person with ease and this slow Americana number is a little stunner on this album.

06 – Consider Me

‘Consider Me’ adds a little bit of energy to the album, whilst the song is asking for consideration of a union to a possible lover.  It has passion and a feverish desire engrained into its core, making it a little bit needy in places for my tastes, it is also a little long as well.  However, once again I cannot fault the playing and I can see it going down well with their audience.

07 – Coley Point

Coley Point is a song about settlement, mixed in with a union that is forged in this small town.  I am not sure where Coley Point is, the only one I have found is in Newfoundland, Canada.  The music that accompanies the words is a good as anything on this album, but this one has subtle hooks and a Mark Knopfler style of song writing that makes it hard to ignore for me.

08 – It’s Just a Game (That We Were Playing)

There is a playing sound to this song, it has a sunshine to the music.  This is not reflective in the lyrics which are full of spite and disenchantment at a relationship which has turned sour.  The band sound as if they are having fun, but I am not joining here.  Well played, but it is not for me.

09 – Never in The Moment

The penultimate song of the first half of the album is a rockier number from the band, it is also another one which is reeking of passion and a sense of self preservation from being hurt any further by a distant lover.  It is a decent number once again, but I am still disengaged from the music to be honest.  I am feeling bad for the band at this point as it sounds like I am dissing them, but this is not what I am intending to do.  It is just not my cup of tea, but it is still well played.

10 – Gotta Get Things Right in My Life

The first half of the album ends with a song about getting ones’ house in order, making sure that everything about you is fit for purpose and will enable you to more forward, both emotional, spiritually and physically.  It is another relaxed affair, with eyes towards the goal at hand and a steely determination to do more than endure.  The style is in keeping with the album, professionally done and sounding as if a lot of effort and time has gone into the song.

11 – Waiting for the Wheels to Come Off

Starting the second half of the album, we find Danny and the Champions of the World trying to hold everything together as the fear of failure comes to the forefront of the album.  I am not gonna lie, it is the first time that they have sounded a bit messy, everybody is trying to get there bit upfront and it does not gel well. 

12 – Don’t Walk Away

We are in ballad territory on “Don’t Walk Away”, well I say ballad it is more like an argument that has gone from shouting into simmering, brooding silence.  It is about getting everything off your chest and having your say.  It is beautifully crafted and it holds a certain charm.  It also does not feel cluttered and it is a blessed relief after “Waiting for the Wheels to Come Off”.

13 – Don’t You Lose Your Nerve

With a sound that comes incredibly close to ‘Tracks of my Tears’ by Smokey Robinson in places, ‘Don’t You Lose Your Nerve’, D&tCofW have created a song about holding on and never giving up.  It is well played once more, but I am still distant to the sound in a lot of ways and it leaves me a little cold.  Also, it could have lost a few minutes and it would have still had the same impact, it is almost seven minutes long and the ending just loops on and on.

14 – Everything We Need

A stripped back song (in comparison to over tracks on this record), a song about being satisfied with one’s lot, that some people talk the talk, but they do not walk the walk.  It is a simple, basic song that sounds like it was lot of fun to create.  I really like this song, it is not over complicated and it keeps it simple.  Sometimes less can truly be more and in this case, that rings so true.  It is one of the best songs on the album, a beautifully crafted number that shows the best features of this band.

15 – Let the Water Wash Over You (Don’t You Know)

Music should be able to distract you, take you to distance places and let you mind wonder.  ‘Let the Water Wash Over You (Don’t You Know)’ does that for me on this album, it has passion and soul with a brave bravado that elevates this song above the rest of the album.  A band that sounds this competent is more than capable of releasing a great song and this is proof.  There is one issue I have with it – the ending.  It should have faded out; the ending is just messy and it sounds like they did not want the good times to end.  Now, I am a fan of messing finales, I am a Frank Zappa fan and most of them are just evil.  But for this style of music, it does not do the song justice.

16 – Long Distance Tears

An Americana song with a slice of Stevie Wonder influenced funk, well it is not the most obvious of combinations to be honest.  It is a song about distance killing off a relationship, the miles becoming too much for the love to survive.  It is a decent number, well played as always on this album, but it is a song that feels a little strange to these ears. It all comes down to the style clash and it almost works, but it is still a little weird.  I am not disliking it, but it does not make sense to me either.

17 – The Circus Made the Town

We have reached the penultimate song and it is a soul searching ballad, one that looks at life without a partner and how everything is still functioning after they have moved on.  It is playing to the strengths of D&tCofW, it is beautifully composed and sound really good.  As it is simple and to the point, I will move on to the next song.

18 – Flying by the Seat of Our Pants

Ending on a slow number?  Well, that is what is happening here and it is as you would expect, it is well played, but it is not doing anything that has not been done before.  It ends the album on a bit of a downer to be honest, but after such a long time it sort of feels like a relief to have reached the end.  A good song, but not sure why it is ending the record.

Now, there are a few points about this album I want to get out there first.  A double Americana album is an incredibly brave move and one that I found a bit hard going in places, it was easier to step back from the album and listen to it in chunks than in one long run.  I think it might have worked better as than two records released a few months apart, but being advertised as part of the same set.  It is something that has worked for other acts in the past, but maybe it was not the right thing for these guys.  But let’s put my misgivings about the length of the record is to be put aside for a second to reflect upon that sound of the record, to get down to the rub as you will.  Danny & the Champions of the World are a professional, incredibly gifted act and they create a warm and welcoming sound on this album, it is an album that deals with the many ways that a person loves, requirements of self-imposed isolation and everything else.  They are incredibly good at what they do, the production is second to none and they have a sound that will make someone’s day whenever they are played.  However, it is not an album that I would listen to normal, I prefer to be honest with my readers (as well as artists) but I am not going to say it was poor either.  They sound good for the type of music that they release and I am sure that their audience will love it, but it is not for me.  Whilst the length issue might be a small issue in my head, the final result of this album is not.  ‘Brilliant Lights’ is a good Folk/American album that will make a good companion for the lonely trails that people call life, that is all you want from an album sometimes and I know it will be a hit with their audience.

7 out of ten – This is good and worth checking out

Top track – Let the Water Wash Over You (Don’t You Know)

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