REAL GONE GOES OUT: Robyn Hitchcock – Ramsgate Music Hall, Ramsgate, Kent 31/5/2018

Robyn Hitchcock is one of those artists whom, for many, will have a name that’s more familiar than the music he’s recorded. Often billed as the “musician’s musician”, the one time Soft Boys frontman has many famous fans, including R.E.M.’s Peter Buck. This evening, he’s appearing at the very intimate Ramsgate Music Hall on the Kent coast. He’s attracted a crowd ranging from devoted fans to the merely curious. We’ve arrived with no real expectations, but the opportunity to see such a cult figure up close isn’t one to be missed.

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DAVID MYHR – Lucky Day

Let’s not mince words: David Myhr’s solo debut ‘Soundshine’ is a classic album. Not just for the time of its release, but a genuine classic. Its retro pop style places it on a par with 10cc’s ‘How Dare You’, with Wings’ ‘London Town’ and Badfinger’s ‘No Dice’. In terms of more contemporary recordings, it rivals the Oranjuly debut and Jellyfish’s ‘Spilt Milk’ for sheer pop wonderment.

A follow up had a hard act to follow and perhaps knowing he had a big job in hand, Myhr rallied around the troops. As a result, 2018’s ‘Lucky Day’ features co-writes with Linus of Hollywood, Bleu, Bill DeMain and Young Hines – names which should be familiar to most power pop aficionados – and songwriter/producer Brad Jones, a man whose credits involve working with Matthew Sweet, Jill Sobule and Josh Rouse. It’s fair to say it’s got some solid foundations.

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SOPHIA MARSHALL – Song 3 EP

At the beginning of 2018 singer-songwriter Sophia Marshall released an EP of low-key, stripped back Kasabian covers. With the arrangements finally allowed room to breathe and a decent vocal applied, Kasabian never sounded better. Barely a month later, Marshall returned with a two track digital single centred around The Pretenders. It perhaps wasn’t as broad in appeal as the Kasabian release, but her dreamy, strung out version of the Ray Davies penned ‘I Go To Sleep’ was definitely worth hearing.  The third release in her ongoing covers project, ‘Song 3’, turns its attentions to Colchester’s favourite sons, Blur, and rather disappointingly, despite the title building up hopes, she doesn’t re-imagine their indie-punk belter ‘Song 2’ in a swoon-some dream pop style. That’s not to say her three choices aren’t interesting of course, since the Blur catalogue is ripe for the picking…and it’s not like they get covered very often either. Also, two of Sophia’s re-imaginings are of a gold standard – great additions to her covers project.

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FRANK TURNER – Be More Kind

Over the first ten years of his solo career, singer-songwriter Frank Turner recorded some fantastic material. His deeply personal songs touched on many subjects, from death, love, travel, friendship, lost weekends and politics. In short, in that time, he’s acted as a friend who’s been there, seen it all and is able to lend a lyrical tale of empathy whatever your personal situation. This time, though, he’s really not messing about: the commentary of ‘Be More Kind’ is a world away from the songs of youth, parties and camaraderie that peppered his early releases. It’s also musically far broader. A restless album, even; one that refuses to settle into any one style, sometimes with only Turner’s honest and personal lyrical concerns as an obvious link to the past. And while it isn’t a concept album, more than a few of its songs are connected to the universal themes of time and mortality.

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