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HippyDave
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PostSubject: Go Well Diamond Heart   Wed Mar 17, 2010 9:05 am

A brief update about how things are progressing with the new Mostly Autumn album and a few words from Livvy about how it feels to take centre stage can now be read by visiting the Mostly Autumn website and clicking on the 'blog' link (top left)...

I'd be the first to admit that I've been underwhelmed by the last couple of MA albums (though personally I thought Glass Shadows was a substantial improvement on Heart Full Of Sky), but I can't help having a good feeling about this one!


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PostSubject: Re: Go Well Diamond Heart   Mon Apr 05, 2010 7:53 pm

Glass Shadows is the best since...probably Passengers, I think. Some excellent songs; Flowers for Guns, Tearing at the Faerytale, Glass Shadows, A Different Sky, Second Hand.
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PostSubject: Re: Go Well Diamond Heart   Tue Apr 13, 2010 1:21 pm

TheAlex wrote:
Glass Shadows is the best since...probably Passengers, I think. Some excellent songs; Flowers for Guns, Tearing at the Faerytale, Glass Shadows, A Different Sky, Second Hand.

I have to admit, I've warmed to Glass Shadows quite a bit since it was released. It seemed like quite a 'samey' set on initial listens, but the more I hear it, the more I like it. I really didn't care for Fireside or A Different Sky at first, but I actually rather like them both now! My main difficulty with the album is still Unoriginal Sin: great vocals from Heather, but musically it seems like a bit of a dirge to me.

Most of the other songs you mention are among my favourites, though. I particularly love Tearing At The Faerytale (the verses and choruses didn't seem to fit together at first, but now I've given it time, it's a belter) and the title track, which is probably one of the best, if not the best, 'epic' track that the band have turned in so far.

I wouldn't go as far as to say Glass Shadows is the best album they've turned in since Passengers, though. Passengers is probably still my favourite, but Storms Over Still Water is very nearly as good, IMO - only The End Of The World lets it down, and then not by much.

I'm quite excited about the new album, largely because it'll be our first taste of Livvy fronting the band on record. All I hope is that the band have learnt from the lesson of Heart Full Of Sky, where what could conceivably have made a good single album ultimately suffered (IMO, of course) because the band had promised a two-disc limited edition that it seemed they then struggled to deliver in time. Quality control suffered (not just the songs, but also the mixing/mastering, and the presentation of the album, too) and the result was my least favourite MA album by quite some distance. I note from the pre-order blurb that the band are promising another two-disc limited edition for those that pre-order, so I've got my fingers crossed that they've learnt from Heart Full Of Sky to allow themselves enough time to really do the package justice. Given the choice, I'd sooner that the band take a couple of extra months to get everything exactly right, rather than find themselves struggling to meet a deadline that might lead to compromise.
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PostSubject: Re: Go Well Diamond Heart   Tue Apr 13, 2010 1:46 pm

Being a huge Mostly Autumn fan, I always find it hard to believe that people don't really like Heart Full of Sky all that much. I have always really enjoyed that album, and it was the album that really got me into them. However, at the moment I am really into Glass Shadows. It just seems to be right when the sun is shining etc, it's a good album Very Happy

Go Well Diamond Heart promises to be good really, I dunno why but I think it does! Smile
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PostSubject: Re: Go Well Diamond Heart   Tue Apr 13, 2010 2:18 pm

SamLewis45 wrote:
Being a huge Mostly Autumn fan, I always find it hard to believe that people don't really like Heart Full of Sky all that much. I have always really enjoyed that album, and it was the album that really got me into them.

Heh... I guess it's a matter of degrees. If you hadn't heard the band before, I can see that even what - to me, anyway - is their least impressive work would be enough to spark your interest! Laughing

At the risk of derailing the thread a bit, I'll try and expand on what I was talking about. To be fair, in my case I was probably expecting something incredible after Passengers and Storms Over Still Water - my two favourite MA albums, and the best packaged too, IMO. The pre-order for HFoS was quite expensive (and I know there were numerous reasons for that), so I was expecting a pretty lavish package... however, the bog-standard 2xCD jewelcase (and, to my mind, rather uninspired artwork) felt a bit disappointing.

"Never mind", I remember thinking, "the contents will make up for it!" Unfortunately, that didn't really happen either. The first thing that hit me was how badly mastered the album was. You may have heard about the 'Loudness War' (for those that haven't, have a look at this). Well, HFoS was definitely a victim of the modern tendency to compress everything to make it as loud as possible. Sadly this removed much of the dynamics of the recording, and I still find it incredibly fatiguing to listen to, especially over headphones: it's like listening to someone shouting for a couple of hours. The difference between HFoS and Glass Shadows is marked in this department - Glass Shadows sounds incredible because it was mastered so well.

And then there's the songs... I know that side of things is unquantifiable and very personal, but the whole project felt a bit 'stretched' to me, as if the band had struggled to come up with two full discs of new material without sacrificing quality control. It seems the band felt most of the best material was on disc 1 as the retail edition was basically disc 1 with one track added from disc 2, but there were several tracks on disc 1 in particular that I really disliked almost immediately, and time has done little or nothing to endear them to me. Anyone who's sat through my rants about how awful Pocket Watch is won't need reminding of my opinion of that one! Laughing There are several others, too: I never liked Dreaming, Half A World is pretty but a bit repetitive, and Ghost a bit of a Frankenstein's monster. I even found Walk With A Storm a bit 'MA-by-numbers'. There's some great stuff on disc 1 (Fading Colours, obviously, but also the sensational Find The Sun and the gorgeous Silver Glass which is still my favourite song from the entire album by quite some distance), but it wasn't enough to keep me interested. To be honest, much of disc 2 passed me by as well, with only Broken Soldier and Further From Home really sticking in my memory. The less said about Open Road the better!

So there it is. It sounds like I'm really being hard on it, and I suppose I am, but my general reaction to it was one of massive disappointment. I think the band just bit off a bit more than they could chew. What's great is really great, but what's bad is... really bad! IMO, of course - I know there are people who really rate it (Trev, I believe, is one of them!), so you're not on your own by any means!

SamLewis45 wrote:
However, at the moment I am really into Glass Shadows. It just seems to be right when the sun is shining etc, it's a good album Very Happy

Yeah - I can't quite put my finger on it, but it's definitely got a sort of Spring vibe about it.

SamLewis45 wrote:
Go Well Diamond Heart promises to be good really, I dunno why but I think it does! Smile

I've been asked elsewhere why I pre-ordered it when I was so disappointed (at least initially) with the last two albums (since I've come to like Glass Shadows quite a bit over time). I wasn't sure what to say, either! Personally, part of it is Livvy's increased presence - I always liked Heather's vocals, but - cards on the table - I prefer Livvy, vocally, so having her singing lead is guaranteed to get my attention. But it's far more than that. I just get the feeling that the MA machine is really gearing up in a way we haven't seen for a while. Perhaps it's because the line-up feels so much more settled now - more so than at any point since Storms Over Still Water. Call me a sentimental fool, but I always think that a settled line-up, with a more developed chemistry, can deliver more effectively than a line-up that is constantly changing. It strikes me that MA's recent more settled membership is poised to deliver something really special... here's hoping, anyway! Very Happy
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PostSubject: Re: Go Well Diamond Heart   Tue Apr 13, 2010 3:08 pm

I guess I know what you mean about Heart Full of Sky. It does sometimes sound a bit muddy, definately not as clear as the others. And there are some not so fab songs, Walk With a Storm never really grabbed me, but Fading Colours, Dreaming and Silver Glass are some of my favourites. I don't mind Pocket Watch, loads of people hate it but it's got a little charm I think. Some of the bonus songs are great though, Science and Machinery and Gaze are brilliant! Open Road I actually like, I'm guessing you hate it. I can't stand stuff like Bright Green though, it's horrid!

After saying that about Glass Shadows, I'm now listening to For All We Shared... which is even more summery Very Happy Actually, I've never really appreciated this album before now, it's wonderful Very Happy

Yeah Livvy is a great singer. I think she's a more powerful singer than Heather, but may lack a little bit of the 'warmth', but after seeing her at Gloucester on saturday I was blown away by her performance! She even nailed Evergreen Smile So that's probably why I'm thinking Go Well Diamond Heart will be so good Very Happy
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PostSubject: Re: Go Well Diamond Heart   Thu Apr 15, 2010 8:21 am

I have to say I really liked Glass Shadows AND Heart Full Of Sky. I love Dreaming (one of my favourite songs from any band - the lyrics make it. And I really like Pocket Watch (the Dr Who song - it came out at the same time as the Doctor Who episode where he put all his past (memories) into a pocket watch...!). And live, Unoriginal Sin is fantastic. I could go on...
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PostSubject: Re: Go Well Diamond Heart   Thu Apr 15, 2010 11:20 am

Dreaming is WONDERFUL Very Happy Especially live in Gloucester the other night with the slightly different arrangement Smile
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PostSubject: Re: Go Well Diamond Heart   Thu Apr 15, 2010 1:49 pm

Pocket watch! I thought that was one of the least liked MA songs ever, for everyone. it just doesn't sound like it belongs to the band. But at least it does give you time to go to the toilet at the gig.
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PostSubject: Re: Go Well Diamond Heart   Fri Apr 16, 2010 12:15 am

ColinCamel wrote:
Pocket watch! I thought that was one of the least liked MA songs ever, for everyone. it just doesn't sound like it belongs to the band. But at least it does give you time to go to the toilet at the gig.

Should have been (could have been?) a hit single! Well, I like it!
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PostSubject: Go Well Diamond Heart   Fri Apr 23, 2010 11:44 am

From a personal perspective, I think HFoS (for the record, my least fave MA album as well) and Glass Shadows both suffered from an absence of Iain Jennings. While I agree that GS sounds a lot better than HFoS, it still just doesn't quite reach the bar that MA had set with much of their previous work. Iain Jennings is one of those gifted keyboard players that has that knack of making almost anything he plays on sound 3D widescreen whereas without him, (to continue the visual analogy) a lot of the songs sounded to me like low res snapshots that needed quite a bit more work on them. For this reason, while I find the majority of the tracks on both albums OK individually, I find listening to either album in its entirety, extremely hard work and rarely, if ever, do so.

Watching the 'making of GS' process on DVD, even for the first time, I couldn't help but feel that someone else's input into the development of the song structures and sonic textures would have made a world of difference and while HFoS did have a keyboard player, I personally don't think Chris Johnson was that person and may not have had the level of input necessary to make the difference anyway.

I would have to confess that the last time I saw MA live was Dec 2006 in Bristol and the band's output since then has not inspired me to go again despite Iain's return to the fold. However, the personnel changes since then - Iain's return, the addition of AMH & Gavin and now Livvy's elevation to the front - have whetted my appetite to see MA again and I hope to be at the Exeter gig in June. On top of that, despite deciding a while ago never to go for the 'payupfront' option again, I have relented and done so for GWDH as I'm quite excited by the potential results of this new lineup.

One final word on HFoS. I said (at some length) in another thread elsewhere on this forum (What are you listening to) that I had put all the tracks from close on 300 CDs onto an MP4 player for listening to in the car. Not quite true, I deleted a number of tracks that I don't like and these included Walk with a Storm (which I just simply cannot listen to), Ghost and Science & Machinery.
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PostSubject: Re: Go Well Diamond Heart   Fri Apr 23, 2010 11:57 am

ColinCamel wrote:
Pocket watch! I thought that was one of the least liked MA songs ever, for everyone. it just doesn't sound like it belongs to the band. But at least it does give you time to go to the toilet at the gig.

Do you think that Pocket Watch sounds less like MA than Silver Glass or Science & Machinery then? If so, I would have to say I am most surprised.
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PostSubject: Re: Go Well Diamond Heart   Fri Apr 23, 2010 12:06 pm

The Senses wrote:
ColinCamel wrote:
Pocket watch! I thought that was one of the least liked MA songs ever, for everyone. it just doesn't sound like it belongs to the band. But at least it does give you time to go to the toilet at the gig.

Do you think that Pocket Watch sounds less like MA than Silver Glass or Science & Machinery then? If so, I would have to say I am most surprised.

Well, I can't speak for Colin, but I would definitely agree with that. To these ears, Pocket Watch is a lumpen pub-rock non-entity, a poor sub-par Oasis-alike number with no real spark, and no hook to speak of. And the lyrics are just daft. Definitely not one of Bryan's shining moments!

Science & Machinery I'm lukewarm on, but I like the words. And Silver Glass is utterly gorgeous - and possessed of that rarely captured big-screen MA feel, too, even if Bryan & Heather had little or nothing to do with writing it. It's easily my favourite track from HFoS (either edition).
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PostSubject: Re: Go Well Diamond Heart   Fri Apr 23, 2010 12:20 pm

I know what you mean but I wasn't really thinking about the musical merits of the tracks but more about whether or not they actually sounded like MA compositions and I don't think anything sung and written by Chris Johnson does.
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PostSubject: Re: Go Well Diamond Heart   Fri Apr 23, 2010 1:37 pm

The Senses wrote:
I know what you mean but I wasn't really thinking about the musical merits of the tracks but more about whether or not they actually sounded like MA compositions and I don't think anything sung and written by Chris Johnson does.

I was referring to the sound of the songs - the 'sound' of Pocket Watch has a great deal to do with why I dislike it. I would have to disagree - not all of Chris's songs comfortably 'felt' like MA songs, but for my money Silver Glass most definitely did. Pocket Watch most definitely did not, hence my likening it to Oasis. I can't think of any other MA song I'd actually say sounded absolutely nothing like MA.
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PostSubject: Re: Go Well Diamond Heart   Fri Apr 23, 2010 1:41 pm

I think I liked all of Chris' songs Smile Especially Silver Glass and Gaze Smile

I wasn't that big on Blue Light however, but I still like it Smile
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PostSubject: Re: Go Well Diamond Heart   Wed Apr 28, 2010 8:44 pm

I find myself agreeing with Hippy Dave on a few points, mainly that I'm not a big fan of Unoriginal Sin either, and also that I've said before that Pocket Watch sounds like a poor Oasis song, and Oasis do have some good songs.

I wasn't a big fan of Chris's songs although I did enjoy Silver Glass live when Panic Room played it at a recent gig. I don't think Silver Glass or Pocket Watch sound like MA songs, but strangely, A Different Sky does. Could that be because I don't like the former two, but do like the latter?
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PostSubject: Re: Go Well Diamond Heart   Wed Apr 28, 2010 10:36 pm

On the other hand, I can't stand Pocket Watch (generic landfill indie that MA should never be wasting their time playing), I love "Unoriginal Sin", and hope there's more where that came from when Heather records her solo album. The version on Live 2009 is especially powerful.

Pocket Watch isn't MA's worst song, though - "Bright Green" on the second disk of HFoS is even worse.

Having seen the new-look MA live, I can't wait for the album now. Slight worry that they might stretch themselves thin producing a double album, but MA seem to be a band that learn from their mistakes and don't repeat them.
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PostSubject: Re: Go Well Diamond Heart   Tue Oct 19, 2010 6:38 pm

Time for some initial thoughts on GWDH then, as that's what this thread is about (apologies if you've read these elsewhere!).

I've listened to it twice today. HHmmm. Sort of what I was expecting, but not quite! I was expecting it to be a lot rockier, but it's more indie-rock than classic rock to my mind. It almost seems more like a cross between MA, J&Co and BS.

When I heard nearly half of it for the first time on Sunday (live, at Progbury), I found it a lot to take in in one hit (partly cos I wasn't expecting a set of virtually all new material and partly because where I was the sound was a bit unbalanced). So it was hard to say what I thought (even when Bryan asked).

I have to say it's growing... I liked Deep In Borrowdale and Hold the Sun most, live. On the album it's still Deep In Borrowdale, but the title track sounds a lot better now too. I suspect that's familiarity in part. So I'll give it a couple of days and then listen again....
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PostSubject: Re: Go Well Diamond Heart   Tue Oct 19, 2010 8:29 pm

After being less than overwhelmed with both HFoS and Glass Shadows, my initial impressions after 2 full listenings of GWDH is that it's a return to form to some extent. I can't elaborate too much on that at the moment as lack of familiarity prevents me from being specific but one thing that has grabbed me already [which I thought was glaringly absent from the 2 predecessors] is the excellence of the vocal arrangements some of which blew me away on first listening and which has always been a significant feature of why I have always liked MA. I am not 100% sure as I am not privvy to the mechanics of their recording processes but I have always suspected that Iain had a big hand in the vocal arrangements and that was why they weren't there when he wasn't involved in the 2 previous albums.

So a definite thumbs up so far and looking forward to another full listen tomorrow!


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PostSubject: Re: Go Well Diamond Heart   Tue Oct 19, 2010 8:52 pm

I am starting to enjoy this album more than I first did after repeated listens. I must admit I was rather underwhelmed and disapointed after the first play with only 'Deep In Borrowdale' really standing out. However I'm on my 3rd listen now and I'm enjoying it much more Smile It's a different sound to previous MA albums but I think it needs to be given time to flower; and also maybe seen in a live environment.

I've heard the bonus disc once so far and thought that was even more unmemorable; so I think I'll let disc one fully grow on me before giving that one another spin.

Overall, I like it; but I expect over time I shall love it.
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PostSubject: Re: Go Well Diamond Heart   Wed Oct 20, 2010 10:27 am

I've been asked so many times already what I think of GWDH that I'm writing a 'proper' review of it - I'll put up a link when I'm happy with it.

A few off the cuff remarks, though:

- Clearly/easily their best album since Storms Over Still Water.
- Production is a little odd: someone mentioned elsewhere that the vocals are a bit muddy and buried deeper in the mix than they should be, and I would tend to agree with that. The guitars are a bit mushy too, at times.
- Livvy is doing a tip-top job, though frankly I'd liked to have seen more lead vocals from her. But then, as a Breathing Space fan, I guess that's not unexpected!
- High is basically Fireside Part 2, except even more irritating.
- Bryan's lyrics, as usual, run the gamut from the exceptional to the utterly lame.
- The artwork, which I was utterly underwhelmed by at first, is actually quite well done - certainly loads better than the Glass Shadows art which I thought was appalling.
- Unlike HFoS, the two discs of this special edition make a cohesive whole. They're sequenced well, and one is not noticeably better than the other.

I'm torn between relief that it's better than the last two, and frustration that it's not better than it actually is. Close, but no cigar. Maybe a Silk Cut? Wink
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PostSubject: Re: Go Well Diamond Heart   Wed Oct 20, 2010 10:42 am

I'm with you on the artwork. I thought Glass Shadows was far from good too, and the T shirt looked like a mess. I've just fed my thoughts into my my bit of software and GWDH has lept straight into the top 250... OK that may not sound brilliant but that's out of 1500+ and I imagine as I revisit it, it will move up a bit. It's rare for anything to leap into my top 100 all time albums - there's just too many out there already!

The more I think about it though, the more it sounds/feels like a second Josh&Co album. And that's NOT because Livvy is singing rather than Heather - it's the material. And there's nothing wrong with that. Of course how it feels to me is irrelevant - MA is Bryan's band so if Bryan decides it's a MA album, then by definition, that's what MA sound like now! (I liked the first Josh&Co album a lot - I think it was in my top 3 for that year from memory).
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PostSubject: Re: Go Well Diamond Heart   Sun Oct 24, 2010 1:43 pm

The review I posted on my blog (which has been getting a lot of hits)

Worth noting that Trevor's first post was exactly my feelings after two listens. I wrote this review after listening to it half a dozen times.

==========================

It's always hard for any band to replace their lead singer of many years, especially when it's someone as talented and much-loved as Heather Findlay, and frequently the new singer has an uphill struggle to win over diehard fans. Add to this the fact that the past two albums, while they certainly both had their moments, both met with a decidedly mixed reaction from many fans, and you can see why Go Well Diamond Heart, Mostly Autumn's ninth studio album, is really a make or break album for the band.

Former backing singer Olivia Sparnenn has already made a strong impression on stage during the spring tour in her new role as lead singer, but the new studio album is the way the revamped lineup will ultimately be judged, especially by those who haven't had the chance to see the new-look Mostly Autumn live.

So does the new album succeed? After a few listens, I think it does.

This album is definitely one of those classed as "a grower". While a handful of tracks made a strong impression on the first play, much of the album didn't really come to life until I'd listened to the whole thing half a dozen times. I've read the odd comment from people who seem to have written it off as 'not very good' after one or two plays. They should stick with it; it will be worth it in the end.

While some of the songs are not quite as immediately melodic as previous releases, the melodies are still there, they're just a bit more subtle. The production is a lot rawer; rather than the polished approach of earlier albums this one has a very "live" feel to it, especially Bryan Josh's guitar sound. Quite a few songs begin on acoustic guitar, switching to distorted electric part-way through. One thing that's very noticeable is the number of times Bryan really cuts loose on lead guitar. On the last album, "Glass Shadows" I felt his playing was a little bit too mannered and restrained, with relatively little lead guitar; this time around he plays a blistering solo on almost every song.

Fans of Breathing Space will of course be aware of Olivia Sparnenn's talents as a singer. While her predecessor is inevitably going to be a really hard act to follow, Olivia acquits herself superbly. Her singing continues to develop; while she's clearly not trying to sound like Heather (which would have been a mistake), she's not singing in the quite same way she did with Breathing Space either. There are certainly moments where she uses her power and range to great effect, such as the closing section of "Deep in Borrowdale" where she demonstrates the voice that can allegedly shatter wineglasses.

And it's also great to hear Iain Jennings back on keys. While it seems ages ago that he rejoined the band for the tour promoting "Glass Shadows" in 2008, this is actually the first Mostly Autumn studio album he's played on since 2005's "Storms Over Still Waters". It's also worth noting that while Gavin Griffiths has also toured with the band extensively in recent year, it's the first time he's played drums for them in the studio.

The first disk, which will be released as the retail edition in November starts extremely strongly with "For All We Shared", with it's lengthy celtic-style atmospheric introduction featuring Troy Donockley's Uilleann pipes leading into Bryan's acoustic opening verse before building into a superb mid-tempo rocker with Olivia singing lead. With it's quintessential Mostly Autumn sound it wouldn't have sounded that out of place on the album of that title. In contrast, "Violet Skies" (Now there's a Mostly Autumn song title if ever there was one), also sung by Olivia and dedicated to Heather Findlay is a catchy four-minute pop song which would make a great single. "Deep in Borrowdale" and "Something Better" are both hard rockers; the latter musically excellent but somewhat spoiled by some truly awful lyrics.

The title track is quite harrowing if you know the back story. It's dedicated to Lance Bombardier Ben Parkinson, a Mostly Autumn fan serving in Afghanistan, critically wounded by a landmine. The album closes with three songs co-written by Olivia Sparnenn, the last of which "And When The War Is Over" again featuring Troy's pipes, and to my ears is has the same feel as some of Roger Waters' solo material, musically if not lyrically.

The second disk, available only in the limited edition is more a diverse collection of songs, but these cannot be described as left-overs; the best songs are as good as anything on the first disk. High points are the atmospheric "Ice", co-written by Iain Jennings, "Hats Off" dedicated to the late Richard Wright of Pink Floyd, and Olivia Sparnenn's soaring "Forever Young", very reminiscent of her work with Breathing Space.

I was a bit worried when I read the announcement that the special edition was to be a double album. I remember 2006's "Heart Full of Sky" where the band had stretched themselves too thin trying to come up with two albums worth of material in a short space of time, resulting in an album that seemed rushed with too many songs that sounded half-finished. This time they've managed to avoid that; while there are one or two songs on the second disk that don't quite work (at least for me), there is far more that one CD's worth of great material here.
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PostSubject: Cracking gig at Wath   Sun Nov 07, 2010 1:47 pm

We had a great time last night at the first gig of the Mostly Autumn "Diamond" tour.

Ann-Marie played a blinder, scat singing the flute parts from "cripple corner".

Still suffering the after effects of the excellent warm local bottled ales.

Great stuff.

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