Joby Fox began his musical career as a member of Belfast post-punk band The Bankrobbers, who released material on the legendary Terri Hooley’s Good Vibrations label. Musicians have to grow and change, obviously, and it’s impossible to remain angry at the world for a lifetime; but, that said, Fox’s 2023 solo album ‘I Once Was A Hawk, Now I’m A Dove’ is as different from his formative years as it’s possible to be. It doesn’t even align with his work as a member of Irish pop-rockers Energy Orchard. The album shares a soft, after hours vibe which, used to power songs which stylistically straddle folk, pop and jazz, makes it fit almost into an easy listening bracket. This is by no means a criticism; the laid back moods are perfect for Fox’s voice, which is just one of the record’s many strengths.
Evoletah’s 2020 release ‘Run With The Hunted’ wasn’t quite as well rounded as their previous offering, the absolutely stunning ‘We Ache For The Moon’, but it took the Australian band further into a world of introspection in a way that, if approached in the right mood, showed off some great atmospheres. With no help from a mixed up world, it took Matt Cahill and Ben Johns three years to craft a follow up, and much like its slow gestation period, 2023’s ‘Calliope Dreaming’ is in no rush to grab the audience’s attention. Although a slow burning listen, it continues an interesting journey transitioning further from a landscape of adult rock and pop into a world of downtempo grooves and jazz/lounge inspired sounds. Despite being even more laid back, it’s actually a better album than ‘Run With The Hunted’, which proves that Evoletah aren’t stuck in a rut, or cursed by a feeling of diminishing returns.
Welcome back to the Real Gone Singles Bar, the place where we explore some of the individual MP3s that have landed in our inbox over the previous few weeks. In this instalment, we bring you another fine selection, ranging from retro sounds to punk to singer-songwriter fare and even a little rap. As always, the Singles Bar has been a great place to share things a little out of our usual remit, but also celebrate a few upcoming releases from the kind of bands people might expect to see featured at our site. This twelfth Singles Bar is one of our most varied to date, but hopefully people will still find plenty of new music to enjoy, and follow up a couple of the featured artists.
Best known as the organist with jazz collective Snarky Puppy, Bobby Sparks II released a particularly grand solo debut with ‘Schizophrenia: The Yang Project’ in 2018. A lengthy two disc affair, the album took in elements of jazz, funk, pop, soul and rap to create a listen that was varied, but eventually uncovered a selection of tracks that – depending on where you dropped the needle – could appeal to heavy jazz fusionists, lovers of Herbie Hancock’s dance oriented 90s releases, those on a nostalgia trip with an old Arrested Development album, or even a few Prince fans.
Back in those pre-internet years, it was often difficult to hear really rare albums. There were a whole world of psych, jazz rock and proto-hard rock LPs that were regularly mentioned in Record Collector magazine that seemed shrouded in mystery. Often issued on the Philips, Deram, Major Minor and Vertigo labels, discs by Head Machine, Elias Hulk, The Open Mind and Second Hand – all now available on CD – were almost the vinyl collector’s equivalent of the Holy Grail.
Another such disc, the one and only album by Affinity, was another highly praised gem from the dawn of the 70s that, at one time, seemed destined to languish in the hazy, distant past. In the mid 90s, a decent vinyl pressing could fetch £40-£50; hardly an impulse purchase, should you stumble across one. A CD repressing from Repertoire Records in 1993 finally meant the album became accessible to an audience who missed the band during their brief lifetime, but a lack of UK release meant this disc was almost as elusive. It wasn’t until 2002 that the Affinity LP was given a long overdue CD release on home turf, but that eagerly awaited edition on Angel Air Records was sourced from under par materials.