Micah P Hinson – All Dressed Up And Smelling Of Strangers

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I was going to review this record but, to be honest, I don’t think I could say anything more about it than is said here.  I love Micah P Hinson, I think his albums are all brilliant and I would buy anything he released but this leaves me feeling a little dead inside.  Cover albums for the most part suck in my opinion and this feels like Micah just sitting at home and playing some songs he likes.  It just does not excite me in the slightest.  If you don’t know Micah P Hinson do check out his previous releases as he is brilliant.  But if like me you don’t really have any love for cover albums then give this a body swerve.  I cannot even grade this as I don’t want to be harsh on such a talented songwriter.  If you do like cover songs, I guess this is a nice collection, but it quite frankly bores me.

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The Twilight Sad – Forget The Night Ahead

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As many of you will probably know I have a love hate relationship with the Twilight Sad.  Love: because their debut album ‘Fourteen Autumns and Fifteen Winters’ is a brilliant piece of music which I adore.  Hate: because more often than not whenever I have seen them live they have sacrificed the wonderful subtleties of that recording for a wall of guitar noise, which has overwhelmed the songs and ruined a number of gigs for me.  Now I know that live sound is why so many people have come to love the band but I genuinely believe that the debut album had so many intricacies and so much subtle instrumentation, which made it the brilliant record it was and grounded the recorded firmly with a sense of traditional Scottish music.  Whenever they unleashed the reverb and overdrive in the live arena I just got bored.  And I genuinely mean that.  I have seen them live 4 times and walked out before the end 3 times.  The last time I saw them being the first time I haven’t and there was a good reason for this.  The volume of the music was still there, but the constant guitar onslaught was not.  The performance was more controlled, had more of the subtle moments of beauty from the record and also had a batch of new songs thrown in which gave me a real sense of hope for the new album.  And the album starts in stunning fashion.  The opening 2 tracks ‘Reflection of the Television’ and ‘I Became a Prostitute’ are a sensational way to start a 2nd album.   I must admit, I was a little apprehensive about the record due to having read some lukewarm reviews to date.   The band have been criticised for doing what they did before but not as well.  Well, I guess some parts of this album don’t live up to the past, but in the opening 2 tracks and the absolutely spellbinding ‘The Room’ I genuinely believe the band have produced 3 tracks as good if not better than anything that has come before.    I guess the main question is does this record live up to its predecessor?  Well I often find it unfair to think of a 2nd record in this fashion simply because with a debut record the songs have probably been around for 4 or 5 years, being worked on and developed during this time.  A follow up is often required within a year or two and the songs possibly don’t get the same amount of time to live and grow in the mind of the artist before being recorded and released.  So I’d prefer to focus on this album on its own for a moment, forgetting what went before.   Therefore the main question is, do I love this record?  And the answer is undoubtedly yes.  An absolute yes.  It’s great and ticks all the boxes.  Certainly if their last live performance I caught is anything to go by the band have matured and this record feels like a record by a band finding their feet and understanding that the subtle moments are what makes them special.  Anyone can do noise.  Not many can mix in all the delicate moments and make it work.  The Twilight Sad, like Mogwai, can and do brilliantly.  And this record is absolutely great.  End of.  Enjoy.
TSP Grade = B+/A-