This Monday we have two artists from We're Not Just Cats Records (a label committed to helping internet based musicians release music) to talk about - Lou Foulkes and George Reece.
Both Lou and George have recently released albums so I have picked a few tracks from each to summarise the overall feel of them.
We'll start with the slightly rocky tones of Lou Foulkes' 'Grin And Bear It', released on August 8th 2016.
To introduce the record we have 'Grin And Bear It Part I'. a short track that does a great job of letting the listener know what's in store. It is also the first time you get to hear the raw tone of Lou's vocal with a hint of accent coming through. I feel that this adds a really nice quality to the music as a whole, almost making it more personal.
It's hard to put a label on this album in terms of genre apart from singer/songwriter with a rock edge, I'd say.
Each song on the album has a different story to tell and the lyrics depict the narrative really well. A track that showcases this is 'Guinness And Black'.
Acoustic guitar driven, 'Guinness And Black' has a really laid back feel. The vocal is complemented by soft piano and drums but to be honest I was so focused on what Lou was singing about I hardly noticed them slip in!
The stand out lyric of the song would be 'she's the disaster that my world can't do without'. I feel this perfectly sums up the narrative.
To end 'Guinness And Black' everything comes together, including a bass, for a slightly more instrumental part with a vocal harmony over the top. I can imagine a crowd waving their palms to this part of the track.
'Grin And Bear It Part II' is the last track on the album.
This is really interesting as it mirrors 'Grin And Bear it Part I' lyrically, although I would say it is more of a stripped back version in terms of overall intense-ness (we'll pretend that's a word).
It's also slightly slower but this creates a relaxed feel to finish an overall more acoustic, chilled album. The fact that the deja vu feeling is slowly taken over by spacey synth sounds towards the end could be interpreted as a hint of what is to come next from Lou Foulkes...
Overall, 'Grin And Bear It' contains beautifully crafted lyrics and calm guitars mixed with more intense emotive tracks and a vocal that captivates - I'd recommend giving it a listen.
Moving on, we have 'An Introduction To George Reece' by (you guessed it) George Reece.
Released on August 1st 2016, this mammoth 18 track album is a complete contrast, I would argue, to 'Grin And Bear It' although it is still acoustically orientated.
My initial reaction to 'An Introduction To George Reece' was that it is quirky and rather organic sounding.
One track I thought I should mention is 'I'd Better Say'.
The song starts off with a repeated guitar pattern that is then built upon with a 'snazzy' drum machine-esque beat.
There is a definite groove to this song that is helped along by a rhythmic bass pattern.
The chilled feel carries on with an electric guitar solo in the middle of the track that you can't resist tapping your feet to.
Another song I really liked is 'Darling'.
This is one of the slightly slower songs on the album which makes for a very atmospheric track.
In contrast to much of the album, 'Darling' starts with a beautiful piano part. The vocal enters softly and a cheeky electric guitar slips in after a couple of verses, adding a subtle layer of sound that really adds to the atmosphere.
In my opinion, 'Darling' is a well put together track that uses a good mix of vocal and subtle instrumentation to convey emotion. I can imagine this live with people waving their phone torches in the air.
On the other hand, a track that's slightly more intense than the others is 'Wherever You Are'.
Written in my notes: 'Starts off with really nice electric guitar and cowbell (?)'
Being more electric guitar driven, 'Wherever You Are' is the perfect set up for the next track, 'Morality' which is potentially my favourite track.
Starting where 'Wherever You Are' left off in terms of an electric guitar sound, 'Morality' is slightly more chilled - there's even a shaker.
George's raw vocal is showcased well in this one and blends well with the instrumentation to create a mellow tone.
'Got to live what you want to believe.
Got to give what you want to receive.'
There is a nice section towards the end of 'Morality' where backing vocals are added, repeating the above lyrics taken from the chorus and hand claps are added. This helps the organic vibe of the album and provides a great beat.
Keeping the mellow vibe, a bass line fits into the rhythm of the lyrics well and the track fades out. This gives the illusion that George is walking away singing with his crowd of happy people - a nice thought.
Overall, the title 'An Introduction to George Reece' is really appropriate as I feel this is the perfect introduction to both George Reece as an artist and, in turn, you see a glimpse into George Reece the person through songs written from personal experience, like an audio scrapbook if you will.
Until next time...
To find out more about We're Not Just Cats Records please click here: werenotjustcatsrecords.com