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Album Review: Reverend and the Makers – Mirrors

By on Wednesday, 14th October 2015 at 12:00 pm

Reverend and the Makers Mirrors coverVeteran Sheffield quintet Reverend and the Makers have just released their fifth LP ‘Mirrors’, which marks their second effort on independent record label Cooking Vinyl, and their first foray outside the electro-pop milieu in recent memory. Recorded alternately in Sheffield and across the Atlantic in Jamaica, ‘Mirrors’ was helmed by Sheffield-based producer Dave Sanderson (The Payroll Union, Hey Sholay) with additional production and mixing from the highly sought-after Youth (The Verve, Crowded House, The Fireman). The stark juxtaposition of recording locales coincides with a rather abrupt change in the band’s sonic landscape, which frontman Jon McClure discussed in the album’s press release as follows:

Ed [Cosens, Reverend and the Makers’ guitarist and songwriter] and I became resolute to make a record that we loved. Why not indulge the overwhelming urge to not play games anymore and set about making some art we are actually proud of rather than the release-tour-festivals-repeat cycle we’d been on since forever? And so we took the files we’d been diligently recording off to Jamaica and spruced them up a bit whilst making a film. The result is the best thing we’ve ever done in my opinion. The reaction when I play it to people is like nothing I’ve seen before, except maybe the first album.

Accompanying the audio album ‘Mirrors’ is a set of film clips by acclaimed director Roger Sargent, created in Jamaica to pair with each track on the record. The video vignettes are filmed in a lo-fi analogue style that matches both the ’60s psychedelic rock atmosphere of the record as a whole and the individual character of each song. In conjunction with the album and film release, McClure has also released a book of his lyrics and poetry, illustrated by Horace Panter from the Specials, aptly titled ‘The Lyrics and Poetry of Jon McClure with Illustrations by Horace Panter.‘

McClure’s ever-erudite lyrical style and the band’s prominent rhythmic foundation are the two constants on ‘Mirrors’, and probably the only stylistic carryovers from previous album ‘Thiry Two’. The edgy dance vibe is gone, replaced by a sultry Jamaican-influenced soundscape of minor key harmonies, colored with gritty blues guitars over vibrant brass and strings. The songs themselves are a bit all over the shop, representing a pastiche of different styles and moods tenuously strung together by a general tone of muted West Coast psychedelia.


In the opening sequence to ‘Mirrors’, the hypnotic prelude ‘Amsterdam’ segues into the tribal percussion and groovy electric bass of the dark early single ‘Black Widow’.  The psychedelic flower child vibe of ‘Makin’ Babies’ is a welcome ray of sunshine, dampened only slightly by ‘Stuck on You’, which is perhaps more ironic than actually grateful.

‘The Beach and the Sea’ is a slow, dreamy interlude in the middle of the album, its two lyrical lines expounded upon by a lush instrumental setting of lilting backing vocals and a delicate piano motif that reflects like glints of sunshine on sand. The second line “I’ll be the branches, while you be the breeze / bend and shape me any way you please” seems to come from a distance, muted amid the reverberant bass almost as if being heard from underwater.

The album takes a slightly more aggressive tone after this point, with a brief but intense psych rock jaunt in ‘The Trip’ and an instrumental journey into Latin territory with the serpentine rhythm of ‘El Cabrera’. ‘Blue’, appropriately enough, is a lyrically simplistic experiment with blues stylings, while ‘Something to Remember’ dips back into the psychedelic haze with melancholic poetry and moody vocal harmonies to suit.  ‘Mr Glasshalfempty’ and ‘The Gun’ might best be described as character pieces, the former both darkly ominous and sarcastically upbeat, while the latter takes on a tongue-in-cheek march tempo and heavy brass orchestration in describing the life of a hired hitman.

In one of several vocal appearances by band members other than Reverend Jon, Laura McClure takes the lead vocal on the dramatic ‘My Mirror’. Her drawn out vocal lines stretch over a chugging rhythm that eventually loses momentum and fades out to ambient, distorted sound. The minor key harmonies and bowed strings keep the acoustic ballad ‘Last to Know’ from being completely out in left field, between ‘My Mirror’ and the slow, hypnotic tempo of ‘Lay Me Down’, which also fades away after a lengthy instrumental coda.

None of the songs on ‘Mirrors’ are overly prolonged or self-indulgent, which probably indicates the newfound freedom and independence of the album’s recording process. Its 14 tracks fit into a concise 35 minutes, which allows each just enough time to make a strong impact before moving on to the next. With this set of decidedly rock-oriented songs, Reverend and the Makers have once again, in a swift and decisive motion, upended their own image and emerged with something entirely new.


Reverend and the Makers’ fifth LP ‘Mirrors’ is out now on Cooking Vinyl. Film clips to accompany the album can be found on the band’s YouTube channel.  Reverend and the Makers will play a run of live dates in the UK this November and December; you can find all the details here. Past coverage on Reverend and the Makers here on TGTF is this way.


Video of the Moment #1899: Reverend and the Makers

By on Wednesday, 26th August 2015 at 6:00 pm

I’m still reeling somewhat to Reverend and the Makers‘ latest revelation that underneath their dance, bass thumping exterior was hidden a bluesy, growly, Richard Hawley-esque group just itching to come out. (If you missed it, have a listen and watch to the video of ‘Black Widow’, posted 3 weeks ago here on TGTF.) Okay, so are you ready for another slap of reality from the Sheffielders?

‘Makin’ Babies’ clocks in at just under 2 minutes, and as exactly as the title sounds, this could have been plucked from the psychedelic ’60s and ’70s, and the lo-fi sound shuffles along nicely. I don’t think it’s supposed to be epousing free love as they did back then, but instead is about how time is marching on and how all of our biological clocks are ticking. Even the Rev’s. Just a personal musing. Watch the video below.

Reverend and the Makers’ next album ‘Mirrors’ is out on the 9th of October; they will be touring in support of the new LP in November and December. For all of TGTF’s coverage on the band (admittedly before they shifted in direction), go here.



Reverend and the Makers / November and December 2015 UK Tour

By on Thursday, 6th August 2015 at 9:00 am

Reverend and the Makers have announced details of their forthcoming LP ‘Mirrors’ along with a list of UK tour dates for this November.  ‘Mirrors’ is set for release on the 9th of October via Cooking Vinyl, and to coincide with the release, singer Jon McClure will also release a book of his lyrics and poetry, called ‘The Lyrics and Poetry of Jon McClure with Illustrations by Horace Panter.’ Watch and listen to the promo for their brand new single ‘Black Widow’ in yesterday’s Video of the Moment.

Tickets for Reverend and the Makers’ 12-date UK tour will go on sale Friday the 7th of August at 9 AM.  Previous TGTF coverage of the band can be found right back here.

Friday 13th November 2015 – Manchester Ritz
Saturday 14th November 2015 – Sheffield Academy
Monday 16th November 2015 – Wolverhampton Wulfrun Hall
Tuesday 17th November 2015 – Portsmouth Wedgwood Rooms
Wednesday 18th November 2015 – London Koko
Friday 20th November 2015 – Leeds Stylus
Saturday 21st November 2015 – Liverpool Academy
Sunday 22nd November 2015 – Glasgow King Tut’s
Wednesday 25th November 2015 – Newcastle Riverside
Thursday 26th November 2015 – Bristol Bierkeller
Friday 27th November 2015 – Lowestoft Aquarium
Thursday 3rd December 2015 – Nottingham Rock City


Video of the Moment #1878: Reverend and the Makers

By on Wednesday, 5th August 2015 at 6:00 pm

Reverend and the Makers have made their name on extremely catchy dance pop bangers. Single ‘The Only One’ from last year’s ‘Thirty-Two’ album is a great example of this. So I’m a little confused but also a lot intrigued by their premiere of their newest song for the world on Steve Lamacq’s show last night on BBC 6 Music.

Seeming to have taken a page out of fellow Sheffielder Richard Hawley‘s book, the new single ‘Black Widow’ features prominent down and dirty guitar, and the track lacks any sort of dance floor bounce. In the promo, Jon McClure is on a motorbike and wearing leathers too – huh? – and it’s filmed Instagram style, in a square format. This new direction in sound and look may confuse longtime fans, but I think both will pique the interest of anyone who wouldn’t touch them with a 10-foot pole before. Have a watch of the grainy traveling video of ‘Black Widow’ below.

‘Mirrors’, their new album that is also the title of a film the band will release at the same time, will drop on the 9th of October. Preorder your signed copy of the album from their PledgeMusic page. For past coverage of Reverend and the Makers on TGTF, go here.



Preview: Camden Rocks Festival 2014

By on Friday, 11th April 2014 at 3:00 pm

Camden Rocks is one of a new breed of urbane festival that has infiltrated the scene across the U.S. and Europe. It requires the special kind of electric setting that can be found in places like Camden and Dublin, or organically grown ala SXSW; the corner of Texas that grew into national new music mecca. On 31 May, 20 venues across the borough will fire up their PAs, and over 200 bands will take to the stage from midday through to the small hours. There’s no mud, no tents and no burst fibreglass urinals. But what it lacks in escapist appeal, it will surely make up for in cultural backdrop and convenience. The Subways are what you might call the conventional headliners, but you can almost guarantee that it will be one of the plethora of lesser known talent that will steal the headlines.

Camden Rocks was conceived as homage to the borough’s staggering influence over the British music scene for the past 50 years. For so long an incubator of fragile new talent – from psychedelia to punk to Britpop – festival promoters have sought to express this diversity with an eclectic line up set across 20 of the town’s famous aural boltholes. It began as a one off, headlined by Pete Doherty and Carl Barat in 2009, and boasted a distinctly London chic, even if its scope was embryonic by comparison.

Resurfacing again in 2013, this year’s line-up is now a leviathan with hundreds of slobbering, stage-hardened heads just waiting to gnaw your face off. Some, like electronic punk rockers Sonic Boom Six, will be returning for another bite after appearing at the festival’s inception, whilst the likes of young guns The Hell will be attempting to muscle in and gain their share of the spoils. And, with festival scene rival Camden Crawl shipped over to Dublin in 2013, the locale will likely be chomping at the bit to host an event that expresses the veracity of the areas musical mythology.

For many, it won’t be headliners The Subways or Reverend and the Makers that are the big draw (although the £25 ticket fee would get you little change from going to see either individually on any other night). It is in the malaise of the lower line-up that the rare stones can be found. Starting at the top, Turbowolf and Orange Goblin will be representing the more traditional end of the hard rock spectrum, whilst Hacktivist’s intense hip hop/metal crossover is sure to compliment the likes of the anarchic Gnarwolves, and slackers Nine Black Alps. Further down the list and there is a thread of uber aggressive noisemakers that can be traced through the likes of Hang the Bastard, Crazy Arm and The Hell – the latter of which are solely responsible for leaving Watford as the wasteland it is today. Even the famous London poseur will be catered for, thanks to Blitz Kids and The Blackout.

It may just be a hyperbole of a standard Camden evening, but when your starting point is the motherland for so many generations of musical genres, the magnification creates a heady brew. It’s on nights like these, when Dr. Martens delve into every dive bar from Dingwalls to Dublin Castle, that you can sense the ghosts of Hendrix, The Rolling Stones, The Clash and Ramones – even Winehouse. On that Saturday in late May, the music of the new generation will do the talking; Camden Rocks has seen to that. But, it’s rare to find a festival at which the talent will be conscious of playing second fiddle to the venue itself.

Tickets and lineup info are available now from the Camden Rocks Web site.


Album Stream: Reverend and the Makers – Thirty-Two

By on Friday, 21st February 2014 at 5:00 pm

Reverend and the Makers‘ new album ‘Thirty-Two’, named for ‘the Reverend’ Jon McClure’s current age, will be out on Monday on Cooking Vinyl. To take you into the weekend on a high note, the band have released the below stream so you could have a cheeky listen before the official release. In honour of the occasion, McClure has even provided a hilarious blog to the Huffington Post with such gems as “The album is called ‘Thirty Two’ for a variety of reasons. Firstly I wanted to scupper Adele‘s chances of using the title when she grows up.” Ha!

I reviewed ‘The Only One’, a forthcoming single from the album to be out in March, last week, and it’s brilliant. Read my words on it here.


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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like no-one's watching.

TGTF was edited by Mary Chang, based in Washington, DC.

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