:: New Pagans – Karin Was Not A Rebel/Fresh Young Overlook (single, Big Scary Monsters)
NEW Pagans are back with another couple of new tunes from their forthcoming second album, Making Circles of Our Own, which they've released as what we used to refer to in the olden times as a 'double A-side' single.
The lead track Karin Was Not A Rebel finds the quintet delivering an urgent, spiky/jangly/Sonic Youth-y slab of pleasingly poppy and agreeably noisy art rock, with Lyndsey singing the praises of Karin Bergöö Larsson, "one of the foundational modern interior designers", while Fresh Young Overlook's ode to the fickle fancies of the music industry is a slower, slinkier, heavier affair laced with plenty of Pixies-esque guitar squall and general moodiness.
Get them into your ears immediately via your preferred streaming service and, should you like what you hear, be sure to place your pre-order for Making Circles of Our Own on good old fashioned coloured vinyl and/or new fangled 'eco mix' vinyl via bsmrocks.com/collections/new-pagans so that you receive it the very moment it's released on February 17 next year.
In other good New Pagans-related news, the alt-rocking quintet recently claimed a slice of vital funding via the BPI's Music Export Growth Scheme which doles out the occasional half-a-million quid to DJs and musicians to help enable them to tour abroad – something which has never been more expensive than it is today.
That's a boon for their growing international fanbase in Europe and beyond, so hopefully we can expect a sharp rise in New Paganism to register worldwide throughout 2023.
:: Jim Bob – The Essential Jim Bob (compilation, Cherry Red)
NEXT up is a new and long overdue compilation from superlative sarf Lahndan songsmith James Robert Morrison, aka Jim Bob. The former Carter USM singer, guitarist and pun-lovin' lyrical genius has been ploughing his own musical furrow for over 20 years now – more than twice as long as he served in the chart-topping, Glastonbury headlining indie duo – and his last couple of records Pop Up Jim Bob (2020) and Who Do We Hate Today (2021) were Top 40-troubling career highlights which garnered a ton of deservedly great reviews, not least from this very column.
With interest in all things Jim Bob currently at an all-time high and his last multi-album mop-up having been released way back in 2006, Cherry Red are now offering up this carefully curated double disc compendium of later career highlights as an ideal 'starter pack' for new recruits to the Jim Bob cause and older fans whose CD collections are perhaps still scattered throughout various as-yet-unpacked boxes following their last house move five years ago.
Packaged in lovely 'spot the song reference' artwork by Mark Reynolds who also did the sleeves for Jim's last two records, the 21-tracks here are sequenced to make sense as a start-to-finish listen rather than in strictly chronological order: thus, both discs work as a pair of musically eclectic albums in their own right, with highlights from the aforementioned Pop Up Jim Bob and Who Do We Hate Today interspersed with older Jim Bob gems.
Thus, in addition to recent triumphs like 2020 WTF!, If It Ain't Broke, Where's The Backdoor, Steve? Summer of No Touching and Kidstrike!, disc one allows you to enjoy (re)visiting Jim's swipe at fan-funded fame in the form of strings-laced indie disco belter Dream Come True, catchy hand-clappin' acoustic strummer The Man Behind The Counter of The Science Fiction Superstore, the defiant lo-fi electropunk rave-up Revenge of the School Bullied, Battling The Bottle's superb punk pop rocker about a charity fun run gone wrong, the slow-building piano-based show tune melancholia of Victim (featuring the ivory tinkling talents of Chris T-T), the deceptively jaunty 'Chas 'n' Dave gone political' boogie of Another Day At The Office and the climactic, orchestrally-enhanced motorik throb of sublime public transport-set closer Coach A: Seat 21.
Over on disc two, Jo's Got Papercuts, The Loneliest Elephant, Song For The Unsung and #thoughtsandprayers are joined by gentle acoustic guitar-based comic book lament Our Heroes, stripped down and re-jigged late-period Carter ballad Johnny Cash (featuring Chris T-T again), groovy sax-enhanced rock 'n' roll strutter My New Walk, the rousing London-centric pomp of Cartoon Dad and the downbeat, world-weary Angelstrike!, which alternates quiet strumming with rousing full band sections to sign off The Essential Jim Bob in fine dynamic style.
It's a fantastic collection of tunes from one of Britain's most under-appreciated alternative songwriters and lyrical wits. I could fill a whole column with chucklesome lines plucked from these tunes, but instead I'll just leave you with one of my favourites from Dream Come True, in which Jim takes aim at some of the more ridiculous 'fan exclusives' artists were offering up around a decade ago in order to help fund their musical endeavours:
"£500 says you can come with us on tour / You can sell the T-shirts for us for just a hundred more.
"For a thousand pounds, I'll come and cook you dinner in your home / I'll name my monkey after you and call you on the phone."
Hopefully, it won't come to that for Jim Bob: pledge your allegiance now via the more traditional means of purchasing a CD, download or limited edition LP at cherryred.co.uk/artist/jim-bob.
:: Atlantic Sessions return
THIS year's Atlantic Sessions music festival gets underway in Portstewart and Portrush this weekend. Kicking off tonight, the annual event runs until Sunday bringing free live music to both towns at a variety of venues including the newly refurbished Portrush Playhouse, The Station and Elephant Rock.
This year's ticketed headline events feature local favourites Roe, Ciaran Lavery and Andrew McGibbon performing together 'in the round' for host-with-the-most Ralph McLean at his Sunday Session (November 20, Portrush Town Hall, 12pm), a show by homegrown supergroup Ceithre Cinn (November 19, Holy Trinity Church, Portrush, 7pm) whose members Ciaran Lavery, Suzanne Savage, Finnian and Matt McGinn are all familiar to local music fans, plus a long-awaited return to live work for local favourites Ports (tonight, The Playhouse, Portrush, 7.30pm).
Other artists performing across the weekend as part of the free admission Atlantic Sessions Music Trail include Kate Nicholson, Michael Cunningham, Cahir McLaughlin, Tour Alaska, Gavin Corey and Gary Anderson (today, various venues, 6pm to 10pm), Eilidh Patterson, Ciara O'Neill, Joel Harkin, David Browne Murray, Drew Hamill and Band, Brown Sugar and Sorcha O'Kane and Friends (November 19th, various venues, 2pm to 10pm), and Eilís Phillips and Edelle McMahon, Philip Watts D'Alton, No Oil Paintings, Rory Nellis, Eoghan Quigg, String Ninjas, Many a Son and The Bonnevilles (Sunday November 20th, various venues, 12pm to 10pm).
Full events schedule, tickets for the headline shows and a limited number of paid-for festival passes are available at atlanticsessions.com.