“Praise is what we crave, it whispers like a lover. Time’s a funny thing, it sings in our ears like a siren.”
John Howard – Across the Door Sill (Occultation Recordings) 8/10
John Howard last week released his latest solo album, following on from the Europe-wide success last year of his new band’s self-titled debut LP John Howard and the Night Mail. Across the Door Sill is a concept album which really delivers the goods despite throwing fans a curveball on first listen, differing markedly from the full band sound of the Night Mail.
Allow me to share with you my five highlights of the year in album form. The list is not exhaustive or exclusive to one genre or another, but click on the videos, explore a bit further if you like what you hear, and enjoy the soundtrack to my year!
Two track debut shows promise for a band on the up.
CUPIDS – Money/A Study in Extremes 8/10
November is almost over. As the turkeys are getting fat and the end of year ‘best of’ lists are taking shape, one event took place this month which is really worth not letting slip under the radar. The first brace of songs from Manchester band Cupids became available to stream and download. To call it a debut is slightly disingenuous. The line up of vocalists/guitarists Sid Cooper and Jake Fletcher, alongside bassist Ryan Comac and drummer James Cardus, all in their mid-twenties, are already road-hardened from their previous incarnation, cult band The Gramotones.
“I have been the father of your son, I have been the mother of your dreams, I have been the brother of your heart, I have been the child you’ll always need…”
John Howard – Storeys (Kid in a Big World) 9/10
Like many, I was converted to the cause of singer-songwriter John Howard earlier this year by his new band, John Howard and the Night Mail. Their debut album received blanket positive reviews from critics, including in several of the larger music magazines. But this was only the latest stage in Howard’s recent renaissance. Perhaps the most logical step into Howard’s recent solo work is 2013’s self-released Storeys. Storeys remains Howard’s best selling solo album since his 1975 effort Kid in a Big World, released on CBS.
“Hey darling, what did we promise ourselves all those years ago?”
John Howard and the Night Mail – Self Titled (Tapete Records) 9/10
The story of silver tongued pianist John Howard began in the mid 1970s, the decade in which his contemporary Elton John first topped the UK album and singles charts. Howard, however, was not so fortunate. His LP Kid in a Big World was never the hit many pundits expected it to be, some believing this was down to homophobia still rife in the music industry which severely inhibited any chance of radio play. Two unreleased albums later, and Howard left his label. After releasing a few singles, Howard went behind the scenes into A&R, recording only occasionally. Re-releases of his first three albums in the early 2000s saw a new light shone upon John Howard and he decided to return to the studio in front of the mic, releasing a number of albums up to the present day.