mike davies column august 2020

HUNGER MOONaka Natalie Jenkins and James Attwood return with the dreamy guitars and keyboards-backed pop Promises, recorded in the latter’s bedroom and their first to take a dual vocal approach, Attwood adding his backing vocals to Jenkins gradually soaring tones, the track picking up on previous single Patience in charting the gradual diminishing of a relationship through broken promises and lack of trust.


Making the most of lockdown, SICKY has put together This Is My Life, a 10-track collection of raw recordings (some at the mercy of a dying laptop) on which not everything comes off (the opening title track feel haphazard), but, given the sound limitations, there’s some solid stuff here, especially the jubilant driving indie pop of 17, a fractured queasy Girl, a dose of Bowie-coloured funky pop with For It and Irish Snow, a strummed acoustic and synth number percolating with Bowie and Talking Heads colours that should scrub up well once he can access proper studio facilities.


I first wrote about David Newton when he was part of Wolverhampton’s Active Restraint, going on to form The Wild Flowers and from there The Mighty Lemon Drops, one of the seminal pioneers of the C86 movement and, arguably, an influence on The Stone Roses. Now based in Burbank where he has his own production studio, he follows up his 2011 EP with A Gateway To A Lifetime Of Disasspointment, a full-fledged self-released album by DAVE NEWTON & THEE MIGHTY ANGELS. Featuring ten tracks, including those from the EP, it’s a glorious soaringly tumultuous cathedral of cascading waves of layered reverb guitar, thumping drums and a tsunami of irresistible melodies and infectious choruses that makes you feel sixteen again, bouncing on the bed and punching the ceiling.


It opens with the chugging In Love And War setting the gold standard for what is to follow, none of which dips in the slightest, Newton’s ability to pen a sharp singalong lyric and an instantly hummable melody line undiminished by time. From here it’s on to bubbling synth backed The Who referencing The Kids Are Not Alright, the treated vocals advising “don’t put your faith and your trust in our youth” and from thence to the single, The Songs That Changed Our Lives, which, featuring Eddie Argos from Art Brut on lead vocals and Jeff Sullivan from Drivin’ & Cryin’ on drums, is a Byrdsian jangling part-spoken list song paen to his and Dave’s favourite oldies, namechecking among others Young, Gifted & Black, I Want You Back, Solid Gold Easy Action, Do Anything You Wanna Do and the more obscure Ambition by Subway Sect. It’s surely only false modesty that it doesn’t mention the MLD’s Like An Angel too.

There is perhaps a touch of Louie Louie or Hang On Sloopy to Avoid It, but its vocally delivered somewhere between Reed and Richman, moving on through the exuberant My First Bandthe slightly moodier chugging Paint The Town, the woodpecker percussive tapping of Connect With You and the guitar ringing, tumbling drums of Bittersweet featuring Sarah Negahdari from Happy Hollows on guest vocal, ending with the handclappy 90 second pop of This Time and, going out on a big chords exultant high, Everything Is Just So. Over the years the MLDs reputation has continued to grow, this takes that springboard and flies on those Angels wings to a whole new heaven.

roots-and-branches.com 2020