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Joe Gideon’s Armagideon LP


Joe Gideon ARMAGIDEON. Clouds Hill

Joe Gideon first came to wider attention with his band Bikini Atoll, signed to Bella Union in 2003. The first album, MORATORIA, was critically acclaimed with the lead track ‘Desolation Highway’ featured in the film My Little Eye. Their second album, LIAR’S EXIT, recorded by Steve Albini and released through Bella Union in 2005, received glowing reviews my the music media.

Soon after, Gideon decided to hone his craft as a song-writer and lyricist, and formed Joe Gideon & THe Shark, a two-piece band with his sister Viva. Their debut album, HARUM SCARUM, released in 2009 on Bronzerat Records, achieved rave reviews and a rare 6-stars-out-of-5 review in Time Out magazine - “To befunny and moving at the same time is one thing, but their combination of true grit and grace is rarer still.” Gideon first solo album, VERSA VICE, released in 2016 was described as playing “Pithy, powerful, lyrically erudite and observational, post-financial crisis English blues.”, and the record was supported widely across UK radio.

In these rather mediocre UK musical days where so much sounds pretty much the same and floods the airwaves to the exclusion of anything great and different, records like this is so very welcome. And often to make even the most adventurous work, artists need the support of like-minded creators. In this instance Gideon has worked with Jim Sclavunos of Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds and Grinderman to record this excellent and exciting record.

The album opens with its lead single ‘Expandable Mandible’ with its variable time structures, front-line relentless rhythm, talking and singing combo, and brass instrument punctuations. The percussion here is explosive and underneath it all is a strong melody and choruses made in heaven. It’s a powerful opening gambit with the lyrical promise that “The storm’s acomin’.”  ‘The Gaping Yawn’ moves at a lumbering pace as Gideon converses with his audience in this precuationary warning of a song. The vocal choruses are magical and take the song from the low depths to soar above the clouds for brief moments. ‘Comet Coming Down’ lives above a threatening rhythm with the occasional sweet female voice lending small moments of respite.

‘Liquid Sky’ tones down the audio assault with a steady and lower key rhythm, and a contemplative, expressive Gideon vocal. There’s a strong folk element to this rock song which boasts anotehr strong melody. The lyrics ech frustration: “She became a daughter of the disappeared/Her mother became adamant about nothing…” ‘Somewhere South’ reminds me of Bobby Gentry’s classic ‘Ode To Billie Joe’ with Gideon again in quiet contemplative mood. It’s a sweet song with snatches of piano notes wandering in and out. The traditional folk of ‘Scaredy Cat’ is one of several welcome surprises here (memories of Friends ‘Smelly Cat’…).

The diversity of pace and mood, the glorious production and instrumental arrangements, Gideon’s vocal dexterity, and the adventure on display make this one of the musical finds of the year and worthy of the highest praise.



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