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Alex Winston – “King Con” Review

alexwinstonAlex Winston is a singer/songwriter I found on the Wears The Trousers Top 75 Albums of 2012 list. It’s funny because the album doesn’t appear to have got critical acclaim in many places but has also got a bit of a cult following. In many ways it just serves more of a purpose for me to keep writing about new discoveries and things I love.

Winston borrows heavily from Kate Bush in terms of her vocal delivery. She has the same type of high-pitched wail that shrieks throughout a big number. She also reminds me very much of Joanna Newsom without the twang in the speech. Opener “Fire Ant” gets you well acquainted. There’s plenty of shrieks, moans and explosive sections as the drums, guitars and keyboards pound out a great track. “Velvet Elvis” takes things into a slight spaghetti western with a fantastic swing in the chorus and Alex’s penchant for throwing in a joyous rowdy chant melody into a track. Like a marching band coming home, there’s a real glee that spreads throughout the song. “Medicine” takes some of the more grungier elements from Jesca Hoop and adds a layer of Caribbean to them. The vocal layering is great here and Winston’s crowd singing chorus effect that comes out enforce throughout the album shines here. You can’t beat a banjo sometimes!

“Locomotive” mixes up pop rock elements with some funky electronic bending trickery for what is probably the most straight forward should-be-a-single track on the album. It’s a great place to start with Alex as it includes all her quirks within a three-minute normal structured euphoric track. “Host” is more poppier with lots of jingling bells, marimba’s, ukelele’s while the electronic bass and guitars pierce the warmth to keep the music pushing constantly into a more grittier edge. It’s this production that serves the album so well. “Guts” is where you start to feel a real Florence and the Machine influence. It’s something you can hear throughout but because this is one of the tracks where the percussion is more central than the others it feels like the artists are in the same vein. “Sister Wife” veers towards the more industrial in places with the background vocal chants feeling the meaty drums. There’s the ever-present joyful chorus however. “Choice Notes” brings in crude happy piano plinks to provide an upper tone to the otherwise bass heavy track. There’s a childlike quality to the track – more so  than the rest of the album because of the simplicity of it.

“Shock Me” enters the final third with a great single in the making. Catchy chants, stomping beats and melodies that stay in your head – this is radio 6 starlet in waiting. “Benny” is the first slower track on the album but fails to impress with whiny lyrics such as “Benny, Benny, take the Penny” which just didn’t quite sit with me. “Run Rumspringa” returns to the spaghetti western fun of electric organs, male backing vocals and tinny production. It runs at a mighty pace and is really enjoyable to sing along to. “The Fold” closes the album in a euphoric clash of drums and rising vocals to a breathless ending.

Alex Winston only really knows one gear and that’s full steam ahead. Here you’ll find grungy pop at its finest with all the hooks and tricks you’d expect – only done to a certain standard that will allow people whom enjoy music left of the middle something to get their teeth into.

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