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WONDERFUL SOUND

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! 

TRACK LISTING

A. J-Walk - Bossa For Shorty D
B. The Hi-Fires - Là Bas

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.

    TRACK LISTING

    1. Love My Life (fast)
    2. Cinema Song
    3. Old Coat
    4. Sometimes Somethings
    5. Dark Waters
    6. Sailors
    7. Daylight Savings
    8. Dylan's Truth
    9. Guilty
    10. The Rehearsal
    11. Love My Life (slow)

    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.


      TRACK LISTING

      A1. Morning Sun (instrumental)

      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. 


        TRACK LISTING

        1. Havent Seen Her In A While
        2. Deep In The Valley
        3. Girl In The Story
        4. Trail Of The Setting Sun
        5. Old Missouri
        6. My Dearest
        7. Down To Venezuela
        8. Sure Enough
        9. Prairie Moon
        10. The Westerners 

        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 .


          TRACK LISTING

          1. C;est Pour Qu’un Jour
          2. Honest Lies

          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

          Laura 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.

          TRACK LISTING

          1. Asunder
          2. Open Eyes
          3. I'll Sleep When I'm Dead
          4. Be On Your Way
          5. Nobody's Fool
          6. Tired Of Love
          7. When The Night Comes
          8. The House Where I Live
          9. City Lights 


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