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Yip Man - Pure Zen, Ken? Vinyl LP 2019

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Original price £20.99 - Original price £20.99
Original price
£20.99 - £20.99
Current price £20.99
Cat no. ARM69LP
Track Listing

1. Suffer More
2. Trying Not to Get Caught Out
3. Tremors
4. Pure Zen, Ken?
5. Disco Ball
6. A Lesson Learned
7. Aye Peckin'
8. Here Comes the Feelings
9. Better Man
10. Weighing a Pig
11. My Lucky Stars
12. You Matter

LP includes download code. Yip Man (of Scotland) aka singer-songwriter Al Nero returns with his sophomore effort, Pure Zen, Ken? a pulsating grab-bag of razor-sharp riffs, edge-of-the-seat angles, deeply satisfying choruses and endless melodic and harmonic invention. Advice, wisdom & acute observation is what's on offer here, the follow up to the critically-adored debut, Braw Power. Kicking off with the mockingly titled, Suffer More a song with more life-affirming hooks in its minute-long intro than most would consider sufficient for an entire album, yet Nero tells us 'everything I write's a joke' and feels his craft comprises nothing more than 'just three chords and a melody'. It's classic Yip Man, riffs everywhere; bright, shiny horns; gleeful bittersweet chorus - answering the old Huxley question (as to whether a happy artist can truly create anything of merit or worth) in deed rather than in thought. As a statement of intent, it provides a satirical cling film that seems to wrap the rest of the album tightly and with a sly coherence. The useful thing about cling film though, is that it is transparent. The sideways and critical glance of the album's opening track never obscures or smothers that following music. That music is a smart, often fierce and highly angular set of pop songs. There is something of David Byrne here for sure, but with a more contemporary mathsy preoccupation. Pathos, empathy and tragicomedy is embedded in this record. It's there in the nagging self-doubt of Trying Not To Get Caught Out a song that sounds not unlike Elliott Smith if he scored a Sondheim musical. It's there in the exquisitely arranged, Weighing a Pig , a freewheeling glide through the same hazy semi-acoustic skies as Television's half-forgotten Adventure album. It's there on the wonderfully poignant, Aye Peckin' where the harmonies are pure Dundee Soul City, the gleeful drive-time guitar solo giving way to an impassioned plea for tranquility - before beautifully employing a particular insult that many outside Scotland only heard for the first time when Billy Connolly mercilessly dealt it to a heckler on his 1974 live album Get Right Intae Him . It's even there on the Ween-like, seconds-long sliver of neurological fun that is Disco Ball . This is the currency of Yip Man. The album reaches its climax with the close-harmony courting of My Lucky Stars , which yearns like Sinatra's Rain In My Heart if he'd used The Breeders instead of Don Costa. Like huge swathes of this record, smouldering somewhere near its core is a perfectly measured contemporary new-wave classicism, rarely found among the dying embers of this decade before we enter the Twenties. Pure zen? You can rest assured. 'A powerpop genius' - Vic Galloway (BBC Radio Scotland) " draw timeless indie faire, equal parts catchy and lyrically sharp" - Dork "It's this contrast between the seemingly sunny disposition of the music and the apathetic tone of the lyrics that separates Nero from Yip Man in a way that highlights real creative progression." - The List