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J-Walk / The Hi-Fires

Bossa For Shorty D / Là Bas

Wonderful Sound keep the Mancunian drizzle at bay this week with a gorgeous split 7" from favourites J-Walk (yes Brew!) and The Hi-Fires, who let us luxuriate in two particularly lush takes on the Balearic form. 

The A-side belongs to our good buddy J-Walk, who follows his excellent "Mediterranean Winds" LP with the breezy "Bossa For Shorty D", a grooving journey through spaced out keys and unexpected organ licks driven by Brazil's favourite rhythm. Easy on the ears, the track swells at the midpoint via plush pads and tremolo guitar twang, then serves the same tasty ingredients in ever trippier forms for the rest of its run time. 

Over on the B-side we get an absolute beauty from The Hi-Fires, taken from their long player "Return To Vega". Channeling Verocai, Astrud and Working Week, "Là Bas" slinks along with its own Brazilian flavour, Francophone lyrics and sublime sax from Gary Plummley (Collaborator with Terry Callier and his 21st century counterpart Michael Kiwanuka). 

Effortlessly, blissfully Balearic folks! 

Nev Cottee

Stations (RSD20 EDITION)


    Vinyl issue if Debut lp Stations.It hasn't been on vinyl before.Re mastered and new artwork.

    Samantha Whates

    Waiting Rooms

      Waiting Rooms is the sophomore album from Samantha Whates. A follow-up to 2011`s self-released, Dark Nights Make For Brighter Days. Produced in parallel to Whates` partnership with Josienne Clarke as PicaPica - who are signed to Rough Trade. Waiting Rooms finds the singer / songwriter working with Wonderfulsound. Extending a relationship that began with her contributions to the London imprint`s Monks Road Social project.

      Most songs are conceived while we are in transit. At the beginning, or end, of a journey to somewhere, with someone. Anticipating, dreading, dreaming of, hoping, waiting for change. Whates` ambitious aim was to record in the surroundings where such thoughts take root. Live, on location, no overdubs. Traveling to the waiting rooms of a Victorian ferry terminal, Great Ormond`s Street Hospital, disused prison cells - haunted by the buzz of their former occupants - and train stations - both operational, or Grade 2-listed and closed to the public. The sessions involving a collective of seventeen friends - on acoustic and electric guitar, cello, clarinet, double bass, harmonica, lute, percussion, piano - prepared or otherwise - shruti, and viola. With recordings confined, due to spacial and locational logistics, to arrangements of between two and five players. It wasn’t possible to get a piano on that boat to the Isle Of Bute, or down into Loughton Tube after midnight.

      Whates` songs on Waiting Rooms concern themselves with folk. Everyday stories, here performed in everyday places. Old Coat is a winter of romance-gone-wrong remembered. The protagonist of Sometimes Something seems overwhelmed by the aches of love, and life. Dark Waters finds them trying to come to terms with self, and self-loathing, and the salvation that can come from the heart of another. Sailors is a metaphor for all those in fragile but determined vessels afloat on the seas of chance. Guilty is bruised by spiteful slights. The Rehearsal, a blues harp skiffle shuffle dedicated to mistakes, apologies, and the need to start over. Daylight Savings, appropriately autumnal. I Love My Life both opens and closes the album. The first take, a defiant statement. The second, a slow, sad but hopeful waltz. Whates` voice is magical throughout. Flights of angelic improvisation, with a touch of Joni (Mitchell) in the high notes. Committing to tape unique recordings, that more than anything set down in a studio, capture a moment in time. Pieces full of memories. Not just those penned in the lyrics, but also of the space, the architecture, the high-ceilinged reverb, the strip-lighting hum. The performance. Passing trains. The journey there and back.

      Nev Cottee

      Roses / Morning Sun (Instrumental)

        After exclusively seeing the light of day on Wonderful Sound's subscription club Wonderfulsevens, This 7' is now availble for general release. Roses sees Nev Cottee dueting with the mysterious Veronica.. A Nico esque performance on this beautiful Wait's / John Barryesque Orchestrated ode. The flip Morning Sun (Instrumental) finally sees the light of day. Nev's orchestration brings to mind Penguin Cafe Orchestra and Air's deeper more Balearic moments. Championed by the Chill out DJ's across the Mediterranean inc Phil Mison, Aficianodo's Moonboots & Jason Boardman.


        Last Cigarette

          Opening doors from her home village in Ryde, Isle of Wight to Berlin’s biker bars and mountaintop cabins in France, Angelina’s debut album took her to places beyond imagination. Visceral second coming Last Cigarette, sees the self-taught songwriter stride further from isolation, to embrace collaboration whilst embarking upon a deeply-cleansing journey through swampy voodoo blues and a wildly unchained vision.

          “Last Cigarette’s spark emerged from a vision of Bessie Smith roaring around on a burnt-out motorbike, in some God forsaken desperate town…” she reveals. “A place where you live by your wits, the streets are full of memories that burn your heart, gates swing on rusty hinges, you choke on diesel fumes and witness apparitions of jujitsu vigilante gangs riding the wall of death with balls of fire belching out of exhaust pipes.”

          Capturing the sound and truth of her blues heroes Blind Willie Johnson, Ma Rainey, and Charlie Patton, Last Cigarette takes the old-time influence of Angelina’s critically acclaimed debut LP Vagabond Saint, and sees a tougher, meaner artist emerge. Anguished vocals tell tales of dangerous highways in smoky transit vans, a coal miner from Paul Benny’s night paintings, or any day that has turned to rat shit. Through raw riffs and crying lines of frustration, its hefty rock stomp could dislodge loose floorboards as she navigates dark clouds to unleash her own wildly turbulent tempest; “It’s lyrically weathered, bereft by lost love and darkness… migrating through anger, acceptance, relief and strength,” she says. “Many of the lyrics are a heart-torn reaction to a relationship breakup; it was a slow death, a tough but realistic chapter.”

          Music as therapy is a well-worn cliché but writing for self-preservation can offer the perfect distraction from life’s turmoil. Following a disciplined routine, Angelina quit her day job, sights set on perfecting her solo performance and exercising her emotional demons. Taking to her local coffee bar with acoustic guitar in tow, filled with fury and hot chocolate, she grew in creativity and confidence. “I wrote day and night as a detox; I changed my diet. I painted my house a different colour… I have a “Do Not Disturb, I’m Writing” notice pinned to my front door and just get on with it. Most songs were written in one draft, simple thumping blues chords. My voice led the way…I let it go where it wanted.”

          Riding the coastal breeze of her seaside dwellings, Angelina’s music is where nature and nurture meet. Growing up she’d listen to sea shanty bands, gospel, 20s jazz singers like Billie Holliday and the country blues of Mississippi Fred McDowell or Blind Willie Johnson favoured by her Chinese mother and English father. Yet, circumstance will always lend itself to creative opportunity. Vagabond Saint’s success lead to a European tour support for Duke Garwood, recording with Blow Monkeys’ Dr.Robert, and being invited to join Wonderful Sound and Monks Road Records’ Down the Willows collective (Angelina’s track ‘Golden Day’ is a favourite of BBC Radio’s Gary Crowley). Reuniting with Rupert Brown (drums percussion, auto harp, B.V’s) Last Cigarette is bolstered through engineering duo Boe Weaver (guitar, bass, keys), Barrie ‘Little Barrie’ Cadogan (electric and slide guitar), and The James Hunter Six’s Jason Wilson (double bass). Session players Joe Glossop (Keys) and Gary Plumley (Flute) plus 5 singers of the Peoples Choir of St. Louis, also feature.

          Between the distressed wood and velvet curtains of Boe’s boutique Studio Humbug on The Island – a golden-era space within an old water tower on the outskirts of Queen Victoria's Osbourne House estate - its glam cabin interior offered the perfect hideout for Angelina’s own band of outlaws to hatch their master plan. “Humbug is an apothecary of potions and spells, a laboratory where words and emotions conceive sound,” Angelina tells. “We breathe thoughts in and out like magic smoke rings, the air smells like an old leather suitcase. Sharing in the intense depths of musical thought and decision-making was like witnessing a mirage of genies moving round a Ouija board like whirling dervishes. I didn’t want the recordings to finish or to ever leave.”

          Last Cigarette is fierce. These songs have been stirring deep within, waiting for the right moment and have now awoken Angelina’s inner voice. Knowing her mind and living for music as seriously as her heroes, she is about to ‘Throw Petrol At The Sun’ and set it on fire.

          RW Hedges

          The Hills Are Old Songs

            Following on from RW Hedges Pop debut 'The Hunters in the Snow'.. this one takes place in The American West of 1877 the year the phonograph was invented.

            Constructed in RW's studio 'The Chalet' a get away full of books and fairy lights out in a field in a no man’s land. RW & Luca Nieri sat around bonfires and wrote lyrics written on big spools of paper.

            As per last time Luca Nieri produces and RW Hedges directs the songwriting further towards his influences of 1930's Hollywood. 

            The Hi-Fires

            C’est Pour Qu-un Jour / Honest Lies

              Exploding on to WONDERFULSOUND from somewhere between the mid 90’s and the vinyl record diggers vintage soundtrack scene, The Hi-Fires drop their debut collection of musics, spreading their sonic Gris- Gris far beyond their own island life.

              The origins of this project lies deep within the man responsible for pulling The Hi-Fires together, respected vibester & go to drummer Rupert Brown. His drumming career has seen him work amongst such icons as Roy Ayers and his debut production saw him guide and launch the dust bowl soul of Angelina’s Vagabond Saint back in 2017 on WONDERFULSOUND. With The Hi-Fires his take on Hip Hop is obscenely forthright but his productions and arrangements pull each track through the continents of his experiences.

              “The record is set in an exotic world of “ French Kung fu “ in the 1970’s : to create the ultimate soundtrack for a low budget movie shot on location in La Havana Cuba” Rupert informs .

              Monks Road Social

              Down The Willows

                Curated by the Blow Monkeys’ Dr Robert, Monks Road Social is an ever-evolving collaborative outfit. Down The Willows is their first album release and a unique and special project of inspiration, friendship and craft.

                Helping Robert get there were some members of the stellar Monks Road Social: Mick Talbot (Style Council, The Who) on harmonium, piano and Hammond; Crispin Taylor (Galliano, Candi Staton, Push) on drums; Ernie McKone (Galliano, Marlene Shaw) on bass; Matt Deighton (Mother Earth, Oasis) on lead guitar; Steve Sidelnyk (Richard Ashcroft, Madonna) percussion and, of course, the exquisite strings of Ben Trigg (Dexys, Richard Ashcroft).

                These talented musicians were joined by some of Monks Road Records' exceptional new talent, including Samantha Whates and Pat Dam Smyth, as well as the acclaimed band Stone Foundation, and other new artists; Angelina, Nev Cottee, Zooey and Shona Carmen, and J.O.S.

                With no genre boundaries and just 10 days in the studio, Dr Robert and his compadres creating a truly unique album. Effortlessly veering between soul, jazz, folk, blues rock, ambient, baroque and more. All held together with a passion and belief in the ethos of Monks Road founder, Richard Clarke, who wanted to create a world where artisans, poets and musicians are celebrated for their craft. Allowing them a place to showcase their talents in an industry that's making it impossible for them to do so, in a world hurtling towards convenience.

                Down The Willows is an exceptional collection of songs, showing how creative artists can be when afforded the opportunity to freely express themselves. It is a testament to Monks Road’s vision, and it is only the beginning…

                Caught somewhere between the rain-drenched streets of Manchester and the sun-beaten deserts of America lies Nev Cottee’s third album Broken Flowers. A deeply cinematic, string-soaked album rich in atmosphere and brooding ambience. Its origins however, began in India, with Cottee trying to leave rainy-city heartbreak behind.

                “I hate the English winter. Really can't stand the grey days. So I shipped out to India in January 2016. I found a place and set up a simple studio to demo out there”. Rising at dawn each day the ideas began to flow and quickly enough 20 new songs began to take shape, “Maybe the new surroundings helped - getting out of my comfort zone, getting away from all the shit one accumulates at home".

                The songs, even in sparse demo form, captured the plaintive tone of Cottee’s vocals slowly unfurling in emotional waves - the gentleness reminiscent of Spiritualized’s Jason Pierce but with the rich warm resonance of Lee Hazelwood. Cottee then took the songs to Wales to work with previous collaborator and producer Mason Neely (Lambchop/Edwyn Collins). Neely brought in some classical musicians, “cut away the flab” and pushed the songs to their extremes - the producer's intuitions and abilities clearly trusted by Cottee, “On the album notes it says 'Mason: Sounds' and that's him in a nutshell. He brings so much to the table and gives the album it's sonic identity - I can't give him a bigger compliment than that.”

                Whilst the finished album hums with quiet beauty - dense swirls of ambience hanging in the air as elevating strings cascade through - there’s also a darkness, “Although I recorded during the day this is a night time record. It’s dark and introspective. I find that juxtaposition hugely creative. The night in India can be quite a foreboding place. Me and a mate would make late night excursions inland - into the heart of darkness. Not quite Apocalypse Now but enough to take you out of any semblance of comfort. We saw some strange things, weird village ceremonies, people biting snakes' heads off... the songs represent a physical and mental journey.” 

                STAFF COMMENTS

                says: Mojo have likened Nev to a bedroom Ry Cooder, and you can see what they mean on this album. The songs have a sparse, atmospheric, desert soundtrack feel, albeit drenched in rainy city melancholy. Lovely stuff.

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