on 3 August 2006
After the career-reviving, critically-acclaimed Surf, Roddy Frame's new album Western Skies is still predominantly acoustic though this time other instruments are used very sparingly to excellent effect. Like most of Roddy's work, it's a slow burner to start with though repeated listening reveals one of the best albums of the year so far.
Western Skies begins with the haunting title track which contains effective use of marxophone (!) and melodica by Roddy's co-producer and main instrumental sideman Jeremy Stacey. This is followed by some nice flowing acoustic work on The Coast and the superb jazz-influenced Marble Arch which features a brilliant flat-picking guitar solo. Like the rest of Western Skies, the melodies are excellent on these opening tracks - understated yet memorable and melodic yet with that distinctive Frame phrasing coupled with Roddy's romantic, poetical lyrics.
Further highlights of Western Skies include Rock God, Roddy's tribute to his teenage idols Marc Bolan and David Bowie which includes a very welcome electric guitar solo. Also excellent are the brisk, all-acoustic Dry Land, the most fully-arranged track Days Of Reckoning as well as virtually all of the other tracks on this consistently well-crafted album.
Western Skies is an excellent LP that continues the Roddy revival which began in earnest with Surf. A superb album with strong melodies and some exquisite playing - lets hope that in time it gets the recognition and sales it richly deserves.
on 1 May 2006
So waited ages for this release. Already a loyal follower of the man, have tickets to see him live (again) in Liverpool on 26 May.
Somehow received this three days before it's release so had a chance to give it a good listen over the bank holiday weekend. Having been hugely addicted to Surf and The North Star, his previous post-aztec offerings, I was, at first a little - no make that, very - dissapointed with Western Skies. Evetually though after more than a few listens the lyrics got hold and the melodies followed shortly afterwards.
Be prepared for something more than a little different to his previous work, or perhaps its not that different just a complete blend of all his previous styles. It's neither north-starish nor surfish, a little of both and a lot of neither.
Most fans will already know the title track Western Skies, previously a released ep by Lazyboy (a Rob Da Bank production), but leave aside the annoying repetetive backign to the released version and enter a fairly unusual drum pattern and a mad "if it's good enough for you it is for me" ending. Roddy's songs have always had strong endings but this one seems to leave the song hanging int he air in my ears.
The remaining tracks have inspiring, if a little more abstract than previously, lyrics. The highlights in there incluse "Day of Reckoning" which has single written all over it. Slightly too poppy I guess for the hardened fans but a fabulous tune nonetheless.
Get it, hate it, listen to it some more, kinda like it, listen again, love it.
on 6 August 2013
Between albums for Roddy Frame followers. Some say this was a great return to form, i dont think he ever really lost it. Rock God and Portastudio are stand out tracks
C'mon Roddy - release something new :)
on 26 August 2006
What can I say other than this is his best yet. Surf was superb but unbelievably this is better. Much more light and shade, Portastudio is such a laugh, Marble Arch warm and moving, The Coast, Dry Land and Shore Song showcasing his immaculate and sensitive playing, and She Wolf is just amazing, love that slide guitar!
Added to that Tell the Truth again demonstrates Roddy's song writing comes completely from the heart and you have one fantastic record.
If you haven't got it, you've just got to buy it, the main man does it again!
Also, catch him on tour whenever he comes around, it truly is wonderful, Roddy really knows what interacting with his audience is all about.
on 9 May 2006
This is very good. I loved Surf and played it to death, but this is better than even that. There is a fuller texture and a more natural feel about this album, and a greater variety of songs. In many ways it reminds me of some of the better early Aztec Camera stuff - Day of Reckoning would fit easily on High Land Hard Rain. The title track is an improvement on the original version of the song that I already love. Rock God doesn't sound like its title, but is perhaps the highlight of an album of outstanding moments...'Thank you for the moon, thank you for the stars, thank you for the turning them on...'
on 7 May 2006
Throughout his career, which spans approximately 25 years, Roddy Frame has proved to be a wonderful songwriter and guitarist.
I first discovered Roddy when I was 16 years old through his debut release 'High Land Hard Rain', recorded with the band Aztec Camera. Music critics frequently refer to this as a classic album.
I had always loved the Beatles, especially the earlier recordings: Beatles for Sale, Help, Hards Day's Night and so on. When I discovered Roddy Frame, I felt a similar excitement. Here was a young man who clearly had a talent for crafting intelligent, beautiful songs which, crackled with emotion and at a very young age (Frame was then only a little older than myself).
Aztec Camera achieved their greatest commercial success with the album 'love'. The single 'Somewhere in My Heart', taken from this release, is probably instantly memorable to the listener each time it is played on the radio.
For me, many of the Aztec Camera albums suffered from the wrong treatment during the recording process, however, one thing was quite obvious, Roddy's songwriting talent always remained in tact. Roddy's final Aztec Camera album 'Frestonia' was well recorded and equal to the very fine songs which it presented.
2002 saw Roddy's second solo release 'Surf', a recording which again, showcased Roddy's very fine songwriting, and guitar playing. (This is a recording of one guitar and vocal). Paul Simon would have been proud to have written many of these songs.
Fast forward to the present day; 'Western Skies' is here. A collection of beautiful, mature, introspective songs. Fans will have their own personal favourites which will probably change with each new listening. Lyrically, Roddy Frame is painting stunningly beautiful pictures. His guitar playing is immaculate. He plays several different styles and does not waste a single note. Buy the album and you'll be rewarded with some of the finest songs you'll hear for along time. If you're lucky enough to have tickets to the live show, you won't be disappointed. Roddy is a charming performer who engages his audience, and reveals the inspiration behind many of his songs. must have album.
on 26 July 2006
I have always been a big fan of Surf and before that The North Star. On purchasing Western Skies, I was a little disappointed on the first listen through (I mean, how can you top Surf - what a fantastic album). By the 3rd or 4th time, it got me hooked.
I found myself humming tunes and wanting to listen again. The title track is deep and moody and the stand-up bass line sounds amazing through a sub-woofer. Like previous albums, you will not find a bad track anywhere in sight.
Roddy's classic guitar playing along with some sometimes impenetrable lyrics get into your eardrums and stay there, running around in your head, waiting for you to play the CD over and over again. Buy this album and if you haven't got them already, buy Surf and The North Star...You won't be disappointed, all 3 of these are masterpeices of this man's amazing talent to write good, catchy songs.
Note to Roddy Frame.... MORE MORE MORE AND SOON PLEASE !!
on 8 December 2006
I felt I must share this experience with other listeners. I was in the car with my 2 year old son and I had Western Skies on the stereo - The Coast had just started. I heard a delighted voice from the back... "Daddy, I can see the music. Daddy, daddy, I can see it, its sparkling!" Needless to say, it is now his "very favourite music" and he demands it whenever we are in the car.
on 2 May 2006
This album is a gorgeous follow on from his fantastic 2002 offering 'Surf' and in my opinion is a very well balanced, natural follow on from Surf. This album contains very sparse tracks like 'Shore Song' and 'Dry Land' which are sumptuious by their very simplicity to the more rounded efforts like 'Rock God', 'Day of Reckoning', 'Portastudio' and my current favourite 'Worlds in Worlds'. The songs are all written in Roddy's, witty, clever and very emotive way, and go to show why he has no peers. Rock God is a space oddity, David Bowie homage track in which the beauty of Roddys grasp of lyrical imagery shine through. The man and his music go from strength to strength, and I can't recommend this album highly enough. As you would expect from Roddy, the guitar playing across this album is immaculate. Well worth the four year wait. Please buy this album and be captivated by the Roddy Frame experience? (You won't regret it!).
on 21 May 2006
Another winner from Roddy - starts off brilliantly with Western Skies, and keeps up the good work all the way through. Excellent!