ALBUM REVIEW: Mew “Visuals”

MEW Visuals

MEW “Visuals” CD cover art 2017

With their new album Visuals, Mew delivers to their fans (both old and new) the perfect soundtrack for the upcoming summer. It is their seventh album in a twenty year career by the Scandinavian alt-prog rockers and their first since the departure of founding member guitarist Bo Madsen.

Visuals presents Mew in their purest state, the band produced the record, crafted the artwork and designed the stage lighting for their upcoming tour.

Album opener “Nothingness and No Regrets” begins things off quietly with lush vocals floating above keyboard pads and acoustic guitars. The quiet before the squall – as the drums and bass erupt like a thunderstorm, propelling the song into a massive, festival sized, crowd sing-along anthem.

“The Wake Of Your Life” rumbles to life with drum rolls that would make any 70’s prog rock band proud before subversively breaking into sunshine drenched pop. It’s the perfect soundtrack for a convertible ride in summer. Top down, singing along with your friends to the big radio ready chorus: “Ooh they don’t know / They don’t know / What fools are we / An elixir of light / You’re reciting the words”.

And suddenly you comprehend that in the sugar spinning, cotton candy machine world that is Mew, there is so much more going on than you realized on first impression.

Vocals float across the soundstage buoyed up by perfect harmonies. Guitars shimmer and keyboards grind, adding just the right amount of color and texture. The drums enter and exit at the perfect moments to propel the songs forward or reel them back in, providing contrast and shadow.


MEW photo: Sasha Ryabina

The album cover features a striking image of a Mexican Day of The Dead sugar skull super- imposed over lead vocalist Jonas Bjerre’s face. It’s a perfect visual image for their music. But underneath the sugar there is a constant hint of melancholy that has Mew striking just the right balance of sweet to sour.

Listening to Visuals I was struck by the finely crafted arrangements. This is music that was made to be listened to on headphones, but also music that translates to a blasting car stereo. Mew has concocted a mature album of pure pop that would surely bring a smile to Brian Wilson’s face.

Enjoy the ride.

Release Date April 28, 2017
PIAS (Play It Again Sam)

Walter Trout’s Special Night Experienced Through A Lens

walter trout

WALTER TROUT played The Coach House Jul 10 photo: James Christopher

This was Walter Trout’s return to live performance after he cheated death and made what appears to be a full and miraculous recovery from liver failure. And as he mentioned at the beginning of his set, because of his long history in Huntington Beach, the gig had to be at an Orange County venue.

So tonight saw him almost literally rise from the dead to amaze and stun a sold out crowd with an energetic and brilliant performance. The Coach House is like an old school roadhouse, there is no photo pit, patrons sit communally at long tables and on an evening like this one the air was heavy with the smells of sweat and beer. In other words it was prime time for a rock-n-roll blues revival.

My job tonight was to find a way to somehow capture the emotion of Walter’s performance in a venue that was packed well beyond capacity. In other words I needed to capture images without standing in front of any paying guests and try not to piss them or the venue management off.

There were ZERO empty seats in the venue and I was feeling even more pressure because it was a special night, you could feel it in the air, in the crowd’s expectation and most importantly in Walter Trout’s amazing performance. This was a man who had been given a second chance to continue doing what he loves, maybe even what he was born to do. And I was having a hell of a time trying to find a spot to capture it.

I ended up shooting most of the photos from the sound desk located upstairs (there were even paying customers up there) about 100 feet from the stage. I chose a 70-200mm lens with shutter speeds of between 400-650 and usually with the F-stop wide open to 2.8. It may not have been ideal but then again it usually isn’t ever ideal when shooting a concert. And in the end I think I was able to capture some of the excitement of this once in a lifetime event.