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THE KENTISH SPIRES

Canterbury Scene • United Kingdom


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The Kentish Spires biography
Founded in England, UK in 2018

KENTISH SPIRES are an UK group formed by Phil WARREN and Danny CHANG from FYREWORKS, that is inspired by the Canterbury scene of the 70's. Robert REED of MAGENTA and CYAN collaborated with them on mastering their debut album which was released in 2018 and features Lucie V, Rik LOVERIDGE, Paul HORNSBY and Helen WILLIAMS on that line-up.

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THE KENTISH SPIRES top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.27 | 13 ratings
The Last Harvest
2018
3.05 | 11 ratings
Sprezzatura
2019

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THE KENTISH SPIRES Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Sprezzatura by KENTISH SPIRES, THE album cover Studio Album, 2019
3.05 | 11 ratings

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Sprezzatura
The Kentish Spires Canterbury Scene

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

3 stars The Kentish Spires sound to my ears a little tighter on this album than on their debut, though I'm still not entirely sold on their work. They seem to have largely decided to be a jazzy Canterbury-tinged outlet, but they seem to have enough other musical ingredients they want to incorporate into their material (particularly in the folk sphere). Nothing wrong with that - except they don't seem to have yet hit on a way to integrate those elements in a smooth and natural fashion. In addition, whilst Lucie V is clearly a pretty decent vocalist, the band don't seem to be using her to her best effect, failing to play to her strengths. Going outside your comfort zone is a virtue, of course, but this feels a little under-rehearsed in that respect; best to exercise there until you have it down tight before you commit your experiments to record, in my view.
 The Last Harvest by KENTISH SPIRES, THE album cover Studio Album, 2018
3.27 | 13 ratings

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The Last Harvest
The Kentish Spires Canterbury Scene

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

2 stars With a muddled track listing (who puts a bonus track remix in the middle of their album's running order?), The Kentish Spires' debut album finds them occupying a hinterland between fusion and Canterbury and folk with mild elements of each, but the ingredients don't quite come together in a pleasing fashion for me. Tossing out lyrics about incursions of foreigners polluting Kentish bloodlines is a bit of a dogwhistle, at that, and in general the band seem to be throwing a lot of ideas at the wall and seeing what sticks here. It's got promising aspects, but they need to decide what flavour of Canterbury they actually want to gun for, because trying to cram in everything from 1960s pop a la early Caravan to long fusion-tinted epics into a single album is just coming across as messy here.
 Sprezzatura by KENTISH SPIRES, THE album cover Studio Album, 2019
3.05 | 11 ratings

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Sprezzatura
The Kentish Spires Canterbury Scene

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Honorary Reviewer

3 stars I was mightily impressed with the debut release of The Kentish Spires, and I was really looking forward to this, the second. The core of the band has stayed the same in Lucie Vox (vocals/violin), Danny Chang (guitars, keyboards, backing vocals), Phil Warren (bass) and Rik Loveridge (keyboards, guitar) but they have now been joined by James Hall on drums and percussion along with woodwind player Chris Egan. Both albums strongly feature the vocals of Lucie as an audible focal point, and for the most part that works very well indeed. They are embedded in the Canterbury scene, and when the band are driving forward with strong guitars, piano, vocals and sax they are definitely a force to be reckoned with. But I am not sure if this album has come out slightly too quickly on the heels of the last one, as there are also moments when the band seems to drift a little, or the vocals jar just slightly.

There are times when they bring in folky elements, and stretch in different directions, but I am not fully convinced they work as well as they could. I feel that Lucie tries to sing out of range at times, struggling a little in the lower registers, and all in all it makes for an album which I actually found quite uncomfortable listening to at times, which given how much I enjoyed the debut I found quite strange. Possibly one reason for that is I expected so much more from this, as the debut was so strong indeed, yet the result is something which is still very much worth investigating while never managing to tick over into the absolutely essential box. When they are on fire, then they sound like an unstoppable force, but there are too many instances when the embers just smoulder as opposed to breaking free. It is still an album worth investigating, especially for fans of the Canterbury scene, and it will be interesting to see what happens next.

 The Last Harvest by KENTISH SPIRES, THE album cover Studio Album, 2018
3.27 | 13 ratings

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The Last Harvest
The Kentish Spires Canterbury Scene

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Honorary Reviewer

4 stars Back in the late Seventies, a musical phenomenon swept called the UK, the New Wave of British Heavy Metal. Def Leppard, Saxon and Iron Maiden were the front runners, but snapping at their heels were bands like Tygers of Pan Tang, Venom, Raven and Samson. The last of these may not have produced the strongest debut album, but by the time of the second they were firmly in their prime, and while a young Mr. Bruce gained all the acclaim for his screams, I was always impressed by the man at the back, Thunderstick, who graced the cover of 'Head On'. Why am I mentioning a NWOBHM band in a prog review? Well, although Paul Samson is sadly no longer with us, and Mr. Bruce has regained his proper surname and is touring the world with Maiden, Thunderstick is still Thunderstick, and his most recent album featured none other than Lucie V on vocals, now singer with The Kentish Spires. Bassist Paul Warren also played in a band with the mad drummer at one point, as well as with multi-instrumentalist Danny Chang, who I will always think of as being with The Fyreworks (along with drummer Tim Robinson) even though he is probably best known for his film and TV work. Joining these four are Paul Hornsby (reeds, keyboards) and Rik Loveridge (keyboards, guitar). A third member of The Fyreworks, Rob Reed (Cyan, Magenta and solo), has also assisted with production.

Lucie has a very English voice, and at times I find myself being reminded of Maggie Bell or Chrissie Hammond. Musically the band have obviously been heavily influenced by the Canterbury scene, and there is just no way that this sounds as if it has been released in 2018. The use of a real sax makes a huge difference in the sound, while the Hammond organ is used to provide wonderful footnotes and trills, and Lucie either sings in a distinctively English accent or can provide 'Great Gig In The Sky" style vocals in the background while the instruments take the lead.

Perhaps it isn't surprising, given the pedigree of those involved, that this never comes across as a debut album from a virtually unknown band, as it is incredibly polished yet still contains the exuberance and stylings of bands such as Procol Harum, and it certainly feels as if it was recorded fifty years ago as opposed to now. There is a sense of fun and enjoyment in the album, one can almost feel everyone looking at each other and smiling as the songs are recorded. Numbers such as "Spirit Of The Skies" are bright and full of light, even if again it all sounds very dated indeed. It doesn't take long for the listener to feel that this sense of authenticity and return to the early days of the progressive rock movement is very much part of the overall sound and it is to be welcome and enjoyed for what it is.

When the flute and piano are bouncing off each other all the listener can do is close their eyes and just go with the flow, become one with it all. Traditional progressive music, if there is such a thing, is rarely better than this, and it is incredible to realise that this is just the debut. What is going to happen when they have been together for much longer? If you are a proghead then this is essential.

 Sprezzatura by KENTISH SPIRES, THE album cover Studio Album, 2019
3.05 | 11 ratings

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Sprezzatura
The Kentish Spires Canterbury Scene

Review by alainPP

3 stars THE KENTISH SPIRES is an English out his second CD Group genre almost forgotten today, but very used namely Canterbury. The groups had to bathe their children can call CARAVAN, JETHRO TULL, ELP, SOFT MACHINE, more recently it's side WOBBLER, FLOWER KINGS of the notes may have been stolen, just to remove the very substance . Otherwise, mostly PINK FLOYD giving prog and psychedelic returns to this extraordinary group. Do not forget a jazzy overtones, and Irish folk and you will have some all ingredients. The use of clarinet and flutes, saxophones and violins others also occupies an important place.

Knots (A Trilogy) on hand with an instrumental "Overture" and lets see where the group drew its sources: jazzy, folk, clarinet and festive background dinosaur, until the coming of the votes for the second sub- entitled "A Sea Shanty" deuce beautiful voice! A calm, laid starting on the doors of Canterbury in effect, flute, Hammond, psychedelic guitar to get inside us our plays of yore, lively atmosphere and also seaside end to move to "Do not Shoot the Albatross "closing this first triptych that combines reminiscences of oldfieldiennes and caravaniennes, floydiennes surely is singular and amazing juggling as many notes on various trends; in texts, stories and legends! "Horsa From Beyond The Grave" continues on the evocation of a story of the King of Kent and his brother Horsa. It is a warm way, captivating, singular with the prominence of that sublime voice giving the creeps, you almost forget the instruments yet the tone of great lyrical epic.

Second triptych on the story of three lovers and "Wishing Well" which opens the track, surrounded by crows (listen!) We start on a quiet ballad, again to give pride to Lucia operator voice in multiple aspects ; the instrumental development in the end song is chilling in the use of the proposed instruments, like what it's not just the synth and bass to vibrate in the prog; "You Better Shut Your Mouth" comes with a bass clarinet sax energetic guitar flirting interaction with a free jazz or irritating side innovative, voice soft spoken Lucie giving progressive atmosphere in that capacity; these instruments jealously guarded by jazz musicians back on stage in front of it and remind me of the use by bands like XTC there is already a long time. "Never Tell On Me" finished the triptych by a decidedly pop song that could have OLDFIELD himself compound, it is simple, catchy, it's just beautiful, a development tool restores the thrill wind up a guitar synth development that takes me there squarely in large MANFRED MANN'S EARTH BAND back to the refrain like a wave that comes crashing down the cliff. Here comes "The Long Goodbye" coming this close academic album on a title a bit clichÚ, taking phrasing typically PINK FLOYD, rather then after Roger Waters 'The Wall'; Here again, it is the wind instrument that gives the sensation gradually from the second part of the title. Note a "Horsa" remix with Robert Reed as a guest (like when I was talking to Mike OLDFIELD I was close I think!

Well, no need to tell you that I am not Canterbury in the soul, but it allows me to work my musical ear of fact. So, what to say, except that I am somewhat disillusioned: their first album was an even more resolved, but at least we knew what to expect. Here the melodies are somewhat disparate, a little touch everything and may even surprise the listener. Paradoxically, with voice and wind instruments that I felt the most prog evolution in this album, leaving the rest in full of anachronistic view dismantle the directions, perhaps was it the purpose too. So, to get an idea, forget some all genres and open your ears, your ears, because yes I admit, I liked.

 Sprezzatura by KENTISH SPIRES, THE album cover Studio Album, 2019
3.05 | 11 ratings

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Sprezzatura
The Kentish Spires Canterbury Scene

Review by TCat
Special Collaborator Eclectic / Prog Metal / Heavy Prog Team

3 stars The Kentish Spires is a Canterbury Scene band from England founded in 2018. The founders were Phil Warren (bass) and Danny Chang (guitars) who were later joined by Lucie V (vocals), Rik Loveridge (organ, synth) on their debut album. Their second album "Sprezzatura", released in August of 2019, also sees the addition of Chris Egan (reed, woodwinds, synths) and James Hall (drums). The album is available on CD and digitally on Bandcamp.

The album starts off with "Overture" (2:46). Beginning with a rapid fire drum and instrument riff, the music soon slips into a nice, smooth and upbeat jazz piece with clarinet, brass, guitar, organ and fuzzy synths, all generating energy and excitement for what's to come. This slips suddenly into acoustic guitar strumming he opening strains of "A Sea Shanty" (4:53), and a much simpler and folk-tinged melody sung by Lucie V, a 3 / 4 time tune which later gets underlayed with sustained synth notes and an accordion like effect. Lucie's vocals are deep and resonating and fit the music style nicely. After the music fades, sounds of far away music and seagulls ring through the air. "Don't Shoot the Albatross" (2:44) has a whimsical beat and almost jig-style rhythm to it, with the entire band playing complimentary parts and processed vocalization that occassionaly repeat the name of the song.

"Horsa from Beyond the Grave" (6:18) has a nice moderate beat with a nice rock/jazz fusion mix. When the vocals come in, everything but the piano stops bringing in other instruments slowly, After the verse, the band joins in with the vocals. The addition of the soft clarinet adds a nice layer to the music, which becomes more expressive and emotional as it continues, then backs off again for the following verse. Again, things build with more dramatic singing and the rhythm speeding up again. All through this dynamic change, the music never becomes dark or heavy, staying true to it's genre. "Wishing Well" (5:58) uses folk inspired lyrics and is a softer, yet well harmonized vocal sound. The music takes on a poppier aspect, but also remains laid back. The move to a more pop sound does tend to wash out the feel of the album a bit. Things quiet down to a minimal feel at the end as woodwinds echo and swirl around each other, dissonant at first, and then resolving to a peaceful ending. This coda almost seems like a different song, but it remains as one track

"You Better Shut Your Mouth" (4:13) moves to a moderate but more driving beat, and the vocals get sassier, pushing the music to be a bit heavier, but still remaining safely in the Canterbury style. The instrumental break holds true to the jazzy style of the genre, incorporating some nice drum and bass passages, adding to the progressiveness of the track before returning to the rockier edge of the melody. "Never Tell on Me" (6:08) goes back to the laid back sound, again trying for a more pop sound. The melody and sound is probably the most commercial sounding track. The instrumental break has a soft jazz sound mostly from the sax at first, but tension builds after a while as the bass, synth and guitar build intensity, but the pop sound returns when the vocals come back in.

"The Long Goodbye" (7:53) begins pensively, softly building, this time with male vocals, but I'm not sure who's doing the vocals at first, however Lucie's unique vocals come in later with a lot more emotion and drama. The synths create an orchestral sound that help create tension, which is later released with a major key shift in the melody and added harmonies. When the vocals end, the music returns to a pensive feel and a nice sax solo plays. After a while, percussion brings it to a moderately slow, steady feel, added guitars build more intensity and the brass becomes more dynamic bringing it to a climax with the return of emotional vocals. The last track is a remix done by Rob Reed of "Horsa Beyond the Grave" (5:46). The remix brings in a more rock and pop feel to the song.

The album is pretty good when the band stays more to the Canterbury sound. The songs that aim for the pop element are not as convincing, such as "Wishing Well" and "Never Tell On Me", while the tracks that keep the folk and jazz elements to the fore are much better, as in "The Long Goodbye", "A Sea Shanty" and "Horsa from Beyond the Grave." Overall, it's a good album with some weak tracks that tend to bring it down. Not bad, but not great either. Their sound is much better when they stay true to form.

 The Last Harvest by KENTISH SPIRES, THE album cover Studio Album, 2018
3.27 | 13 ratings

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The Last Harvest
The Kentish Spires Canterbury Scene

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars An interesting intersection of sounds and styles as bluesy rock, pastoral folk, quirky jazz, goth female vocals, and retro sound engineering all are brought together.

1. "Kingdom of Kent" (11:10) the stew here almost works but, unfortunately, it all ends up still tasting like its component parts. The section surrounding the electric guitar solo in the fourth minute is the best--and where Lucie's voice is most integral--as a Clare Torrey background instrument. (8.5/10)

2. "Clarity" (Bonus Track Mixed By Rob Reed) (3:58) campy medieval jazz-folk? It's no Monty Python or Gryphon. (7.5/10)

3. "Sprit Of The Skies" (sic) (4:22) a great Sixties flower power sound and style is spoiled by a weak chorus. (9/10)

4. "TTWIG" (3:48) too weird to be taken seriously; maybe in the 1960s this would have worked. (7/10)

5. "Introception" (7:17) sounds like something from The Bay Area 1960s psychedelic movement--but from a band that we never heard of cuz they just weren't good enough to make it to Monterey or a record label. (7/10)

6. "Clarity" (3:58) the band's own more mediŠval version of this bluesy song is in my opinion much better than the one above. (8/10)

7. "The Last Harvest" (13:09) opens as a quite ordinary plodding rock standard before exploding into an interesting jazz fusion extravaganza at the 3:58 mark. Unfortunately, this too becomes tedious in its foundational singularity despite an stop-and-start pseudo-bridge in the seventh minute. Just before the seven minute mark we regress into the Procul Harum-like plod of the opening section over which Lucie tries to scream us out of our malaise and boredom. Guitar solo is too familiar--technically competent but we've heard it before. Sax and background chorus of "ohh/ahh's" as well. (7.5/10)

8. "Hengist Ridge" (4:30) a smooth jazz start to this one is at least engaging, sax and pretty rhythm support (especially the jazzy guitar). It even seems to give Lucie a little more reason to sound and feel genuine in her performance. heck! She's packing the power of a soul/R&B diva on this one! Easily the best song on the album. (9/10)

The final song seems the direction I would strongly urge this band to explore more of: we need to fill the void left by the absence of EVERYTHING BUT THE GIRL, SADE, and SWING OUT SISTER. But Canterbury sound? I don't hear it.

3.5 stars; a good, competent though rather inconsistent and scattered effort.

 The Last Harvest by KENTISH SPIRES, THE album cover Studio Album, 2018
3.27 | 13 ratings

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The Last Harvest
The Kentish Spires Canterbury Scene

Review by Windhawk
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars UK band KENTISH SPIRES appears to be a fairly recent formation, at least as far as being visible as an entity to outsiders is concerned, as their internet presence wasn't a fact until the spring of 2018. I do suspect this venture has been developed a bit longer than that, however, but remained more or less undercover until they had their debut album ready. That album is called "The Last Harvest", and was self-released in the summer of 2018.

Kentish Spires is one of those bands that come out of nowhere and makes a strong and favorable impression among just about everyone with a fascination for the type of music they explore. Progressive rock with concise nods towards and inclusion of folk music details and jazz is the name of the game here, a type of music otherwise referred to as Canterbury. If you tend to enjoy such productions, this is a CD you do need to check out at some point, and then sooner rather than later.

Thanks to historian9 for the artist addition.

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