Johnny Marr – Call The Comet

We all like time to catch up on the big stories of the day, but Johnny Marr has been absorbing the news and world events in new extremes, apparently via a screen projected on to a wall in the studio whilst ‘Call The Comet’ was being written and recorded. It’s the events of the last few years which have fed into Marr’s creativity, bringing themes of anger, reflection, and escapism to this new album, all wrapped up in Marr’s glorious array of guitar work.

Opening track ‘Rise’ finds Marr’s guitar riffs mingling with soaring melodic vocal lines and menacing bass, and seems to launch a wake-up call to the world with “The fires are looming, look what they’ve done, I feel something, do you feel it burn”. It sets the brooding undercurrent for the rest of the album, as Marr reflects on the fast paced changes of the world around him. Far from sounding the bells of doom though, Marr dreams of escapism and on ‘The Tracers’ even go as far as imagining a new advanced intelligent version of the human race looking down on ourselves and wishfully contemplating all the changes which could be made, whilst darkly-tinged guitar melodies and catchy vocal lines ring out over the top.

There are more powerful riffs on ‘Hey Angel’ with long waiting guitar notes and Marr’s hushed vocal tones adding a sense of urgency to proceedings. ‘New Dominions’ kicks off with more of an electronica feel with synths and drum machines heralding a more experimental approach. It provides an eerie, dystopian background on which Marr weaves intricate guitar melodies – proof that although he’s famed for being a guitar riff genius, he’s not afraid to experiment.

There’s more of a post punk feel to ‘Bug’ with its uplifting chorus with choppy guitar chords whereas ‘A Different Gun’ apparently reflects on both the Nice and Manchester terror attacks, with its sweeping synths and long guitar notes weaving in and out and Marr contemplating “Everyday is a different sun, blown away by a different gun, now we’re holding on to everyone” – it’s his most thought provoking lyrical content to date. Although Call The Comet isn’t a concept album, it does have a strong theme running through it, which is never preachy but rather delivered as astute smart comments about the world and all its problems wrapped up in some mighty fine riffs. He is one, if not the, greatest guitarists on the planet, and with Call The Comet has released his best solo album so far. Absolutely essential listening!

Release Date 15th June 2018 (New Voodoo Records)

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From the early days of creating handmade zines, in a DIY paper and glue style, interviewing bands around town, then pestering Piccadilly Records to sell them, to writing for various independent mags such as Chimp and Ablaze, writing about the music I love is still a great passion. After testing the music industry waters in London with stints at various labels, being back in my hometown again, writing about this city’s vibrant music scene is as exciting as ever. All time favourite bands include Sonic Youth, Nick Cave, Patti Smith although anything from electro to folk via blues and pysch rock will also do nicely too. A great album, is simply a great album, regardless of whatever musical cage you put it in.