Sunday, 2 November 2014

NEW STREET ADVENTURE - ALBUM REVIEW

New Street Adventure - No Hard Feelings (Acid Jazz) 
New Street Adventure - No Hard Feelings

The press release for these guys says that their music is for fans of Curtis Mayfield, Arctic Monkeys, Style Council, Bobby Womack and Black Keys. Now, I like all of those artists but I'm super intrigued to find out what that combination of influences creates in terms of a cohesive sound. Super, super intrigued. The album starts with 'On Our Frontdoorstep' and initially there's a skanky, reggae vibe but with a UK indie feel to it which puts me, rightly or wrongly, in mind of Hard-Fi. 'Keep It Burning' is up next and has a light soul feeling to it with shuffling rhythms and a musical feel that Amy Winehouse would have encouraged. On 'A Little Alarmed' you get the first feel of that Curtis Mayfield influence which some blissed out and smooth guitars before a Style Council sense of frustration kicks in. 'Be Somebody' revisits that agitated, pissed off indie sensibility before 'Hunted' goes all Shaft and we're transported from the streets of South London to the alley ways of downtown New York.

At the half way point and I'm torn on this band. On the one hand, the sound is slick, well produced and has the kind of feel that you might expect of a big budget pop star. On the other hand, the band lacks the kind of edge that you would expect from a band inspired by artists like Arctic Monkeys and Black Keys. Title track 'No Hard Feelings' is back to the Hard-Fi meets Winehouse sound while 'Foolish Once More' has a more Michael Buble feel that conjures up images of tuxedos with loosened bowties and half drunk Martinis. On 'Foot In The Door' the London quartet manage to blend soul, funk and indie to create one of the sharper songs on the album before 'She's An Attraction' goes down something of an Olly Murs route which I'm not really in favour of. Recent single 'Lucky Lady' has a neat snap and crackle to it but you just get the feeling that these guys might have been Beverly Knight's backing band for a few years before deciding to try going it alone. It's not so much that they're bland but it's more that they don't really ever achieve the climax that you might hope for given their influences and pedigree of musicianship.

As we get towards the end of the collection, 'The Crunch' has a go at low-lit balladry while 'Say You're Lonely' takes things down another notch to just jazzy piano licks and rim-clicks in the corner of a hotel bar with only the drunks and barman left. Final track 'The Big A.C.' again walks that fine line between pop fodder and slick soul production with more insightful lyrics than the usual X-Factor chart botherer. I have to admit to being slightly disappointed in this album given the Acid Jazz endorsement and influences listed in their PR. That's not to say it's bad, the musicianship and songcraft is excellent, the album just doesn't quite hit the heights I had hoped for.

More information: https://www.facebook.com/newstreetadventure?fref=ts

Live Dates:

4th November - 100 Club, London

21st December - The Jazz Cafe, London

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