the mike davies column march 2018


Formerly half of Mellow Peaches, AMIT DATTANI makes his solo debut with Santiago, an album rooted in classic American country blues, his fingerpicking likened to that of John Fahey and Leo Kottke, but with his own style.

Predominantly self-penned, it opens with the title track, a song about songwriting and seeking for inspiration to overcome a creative block, Boats and Trains another agile fingerpicked number before taking the tempo down for Home, a love song about settling down. One of two instrumental tracks, Izzy is a sprightly country blues weaving together acoustic and resonator guitar, the other being the shorter and slower slide guitar-based Acanthus.


Charcoal offers a deeper picked sound as he sings about not trying hard enough, while Raise The Dead is about kicking back and having a good time, the guitar work and temp reflecting the theme. There’s two traditional numbers, Swing and Turn, better known as Swing and Turn, Jubilee, and the familiar gospel hymn Will The Circle Be Unbroken, here given an acoustic blues approach. It rounds off with the intricately picked avian fable about looking for love, Hummingbird, featuring some impressive circular picking in the instrumental playout.

dan hartland

Coincidentally, DAN HARTLAND, his co-presenter on BrumRadio’s 50 Miles of Elbow Room, also has a new album, his second, Great Novels, which, produced by Chris Tye, shares an affinity for folk, blues and country, opening number Leaving Sodom and the sprightly talking blues title track very much kindred spirits to Dattani’s album, albeit with more expansive instrumentation. At times vocally reminiscent of Gerry Colvin, the album sets a largely reflective, laid back mood. although, the relationships pecking order –themed In The Ranks, with its cello, viola and handclaps, has a has a more driving, bluesy groove, pushed along by Dan Todd’s cello, Gary Doidge’s viola and handclaps percussion has a more urgent, bluesy groove.

dan album

Sharing an overall theme of community and communion, it takes a waltzing country turn for The Usual Mistake while cello returns to underscore the emotions of the strummed and fingerpicked broken relationship Loved&Lonely, a similar sentiment underpinning Flowers Of Youth, a number that sees drummer Becky Davis come into her own. Elsewhere, there’s a streak of bitterness to the accusatory British Columbia Calls, while Stray is a regret-grained bluesy slouch.

Featuring brass notes and Celtic colours, Passing St Mary’s is dedicated to the late Paul Murphy, with the album ending on an autobiographical note with the bluesy sprawl of 5/7, a working week song inspired by childhood memories of visiting the Cape Hill Brewery where his dad worked, and essentially about taking pride in a job well done. As he himself most certainly should.


Their sixth album and the third with Pias, Violence finds EDITORS striking balance between the big guitar sound and the more heavy electronics between which past releases have swung. As such, it’s probably their most satisfying collection since An End Has A Start.

Tom Smith’s familiar soaringly wearied tones introduce proceedings with Cold, a song about emotional detachment with chants of hey backgrounding his complaint of how it’s such a long and lonely life as the keyboards swirl, the drums rumble and the guitars circle. With its pulsing rhythm and synths, Hallelujah (so Low) is a snakier affair that suddenly erupts into brief maelstroms of electronics around the title although, in contrast to the title, underpinned by a persistent bass drum thump, Violence pulls the pace down a touch with an eddying melody line, but there’s always an undertow of fury and frustration that seems likely to erupt at any moment.

A swaggering indie rock number with a cascading chords chorus, Darkness At The Door is another massive sound, charting an anthemic stadium path that swells inside you before Nothingness begins in simple low-key synth pulse and vocal manner, slowly building to a marching dance beat with some searing guitar work and a muscular funk that hints perhaps at Simple Minds.


Magazine is the only real hiccup, the tempo yawing and pitching so that the track never really takes a steady grip, but they’re back on solid ground with the moody, subdued and contemplative decade-old live set staple No Sound But The Wind, only previously available as part of the Twilight: New Moon soundtrack or on the ltd edition Unedited box set (both as different versions, as is this), before things come to a close with the dark and doomy industrial atmospherics of Counting Spooks with touches of Pink Floyd lurking around the edges and, introduced by a nervy metronome tick tocking and swathed in synthesised strings, the haunting, dramatic shape-shifting six-minute epic Beyond. All of the past albums have been UK Top 10 entries, two of them at No.1, and this should easily maintain the track record.

TABLE-SCRAPS (Meg Lavender)

Formed by drummer Poppy Twist after the once promising future of Poppy & The Jezebels limped to a halt, plagued by label vacillations and hassles, and was finally put out of its misery, featuring guitarist Scott Vincent Abbott and bassist TJ, TABLE SCRAPS release Autonomy (ZenTen), their second album of fuzzed up punk. Kicking off with recent stagnating relationships single, Sick Of It, it mines a seam of raw, garage and surf sludge that variously nods to the likes of The Cramps, early Alice Cooper and 60s garage rock outfits like The Pretty Things, Count Five and The Standells.

There’s no point coming to this looking for musical finesse (though they’re far better musicians than they pretend), but if you want to sonically smear your body with grease and leather, lather up with malcontent attitude, angst and self-loathing then numbers like the bass monster I’m A Failure (Abbott decidedly channelling Alice), the psychedelia-infused Treat Me Like Shit, Takin’ Out The Trash with its Glitter Band meets Spirit In The Sky drum groove or the monolithic riff My Obsession will more than do the job.

Spraying touches of the Velvets, The Who and The Seeds, album closer Do It All Over Again sees it out with the sort of wild 60s garage party dance number over which Joey Ramone would have had pubescent wet dreams. Order up a doggy bag. 2017