Reviews

"LISTEN WITH MONGER...1st ALBUM REVIEW OF SECONDS TREASURED: Acoustic singer-songwriters really need to do something to stand out these days whether that be having a wild onstage persona, a gimmick, a new way to play their instrument or an unrelenting gig schedule. Sadly, what a lot of solo musicians don't always concentrate on is the craft of songwriting which is a shame because that just leaves us with a glut of singers with nothing on the other side of the hyphen. In Nick Gladdish, however, we have a genuinely talented musician, a singer with an identifiable voice and, crucially, an ability to create a song that holds your attention throughout. Now don't get me wrong, not every tune on this album is a nailed on chart topper (let's face it, when was the last album that you could say that about) but every song has a purpose and a reason to exist which is more than I can say for about 98% of the content on the latest NOW compilation. Without wanting to make Gladdish sound too much like a horse, he was bred in South-West and has matured in the North-East which gives his music an earthy, folky quality but you can also hear more modern influences woven throughout the songs. Opener 'Holding Out', for example, is as laid back as Turin Brakes ever were and has the breezy sensation of 80s song-writing acts like Del Amitri and Deacon Blue. At times, though, this album has a tendency to sound like a songwriter pitching songs to an established act and 'Coming Home To You' is the perfect example of this. There is nothing wrong with the song itself and the lyrics tell a familiar tale of a relationship in trouble but the vocal melodies and overzealous guitar soloing feels like it would be more at home on a Matt Cardle ballad than amongst this collection of otherwise carefully crafted songs. 'Sticks and Stones' shows off Gladdish's impressive piano work and it's worth pausing here to remember that, apart from a few notes of Harmonica and the aforementioned guitar solo, Gladdish does everything on this album and there are precious few talented multi-instrumentalists around these days. Nothing inspires Nick Gladdish more than a round of early morning golf For me, though, it's on 'Left A Mark' that this album starts to come in to its own as the simple but pure guitar picking beautifully underlay a wistful lyric that conjures that moment when you look back one last time before pulling your collar up around your neck and forging onwards. This is followed up with 'Arrived' which could easily be 10cc or Fleetwood Mac with some understated keyboard work being the only thing that stops this track being completely a cappella. There is a definite North-East folk tinge to 'Looking Ahead, Look At Us' with its loose acoustic strumming and that Del Amitri feel is there again as well as that reflective, wistful atmosphere. Conversely, 'Steering Me Off Course' starts off with the feel of a sea-shanty but twists and turns in to the rantings of a man who has just had enough of the world and then missed his bus before being soaked by a passing car and then realising that he's left his wallet at home anyway. You know that feeling, right? 'Choked' throws a curveball in starting like a Justin Timberlake track before blossoming in to a piano-lead 80s ballad that Sparks or Roxy Music could have produced. As this album's 11 tracks (yes, proper album length) approach the home straight, 'He Asked' comes up on the outside as a song documenting the planning and emotional tension that goes in to proposing to your girlfriend - you've got to give the guy credit for having the cojones to put that in a song (for those wondering whether she said 'aye' or 'nay', well, you'll have to get the album and find out). The album title track swaggers in to view full of lilting melodies and mandolins like a loved up drunk walking home through the early morning mist. Dressed as Rod Stewart (I make no apologies for the pictures my mind creates). Gladdish finishes up with a proper piano ballad in '(In) Your Heart' that will surely feature at the end of a movie about a guy and girl who struggle to get it together but they make it in the end and have impossibly beautiful children to run about their giant American house while they bake cupcakes and illustrate books. This is as genuine a love song as you're ever likely to hear so I, for one, hope it doesn't get sold to Will Young to sing as this is the kind of song that should only ever be sung by the writer to their love. On reflection, this is an album that showcases the talents of a musician and songwriter and bares the soul of an honest, open man. There is still room for Gladdish to develop and if he could learn to play the drums that would certainly give some of these songs a richer feel but if any labels out there are interested in signing up a consistent, talented and diverse songwriter then you should jump on a train and start checking the singer-songwriter nights around Newcastle until you hear Gladdish's husky but pure tones wafting through the cold night air. "

- By Roland J Monger, April 2013

"LIVE REVIEW @ THE HEAD OF STEAM, NEWCASTLE, 2nd September 2011: So, what about the bands themselves then? Well first off we had Nick Gladdish. Ever since the likes of James Blunt seemingly took a shit on the rug and died, well-meaning singer songwriters seem to have all but vanished from the popular conscience. Now you’re not allowed to take the stage all on your lonesome unless you’re either “about the message, man” or intend on using a loop pedal to make grown men cry. Wor Gladdish is neither. Performing his own keyboard accompaniment to songs that are both well-rounded, well-polished and stylistically echoing very, very early Elton John, he just about manages to fill the stage on his own collapsing in under the weight of his own rhythm. A delightful little listen. "

- By Adam Clery, September 2011

"2ND REVIEW OF CASUALKAi EP: Casualkai are a talented, bright group and it shows on their recent self-titled EP. It's an impressive collection of Indie rock tunes which make the listener wish the disc didn't end at track four. The opener, 'The Tired Line', sounds familiar on first listen but you can't help yourself as you hum along to its infectious melody. 'Sideliner' again is a lovely acoustic piece with self-searching, almost poetic lyrics. 'In a Dark Space' is indeed darker with fantastic harmonies giving the track a deep, textured feel. The mood lifts again for 'Now', which, in its vaguely Housemartinish way, offers a great melody and some excellent acoustic work. Strong vocals and percussive support fade into a gentle, drifting ending. You can't fault Casualkai - they have song-writing ability, vocals, musicianship and good production; you can't help but think all it will take is that certain song..... "

- Jacob Grogan - 'Revolution' June 2005

"REVIEW OF CASUALKAi EP: This CD has been played around the place for about a month or so as the team here has been working on our new site which isn't ready yet so with apologies to Casual Kai we now publish this review... 'Thin Tired Line' is the first track laying down the high quality writing, playing, production and as expected from this outfit great vocal harmony work. It has a bright medium pace and is a full sounding start for the CD. A quiet and moody start for the second song 'Sideliner' with really nice acoustic guitar work leading the listener into the vocal track, with each verse broken up with a classic riff reminiscent of a traditional Irish folk lick. A massive vocal harmony assault brings in the next track 'In A Dark Space' showing Casual Kai at their writing and performing best, I think this track is signature stuff for the act. 'Now' is the last song on the CD and does it's job finishing strongly and leaving you wanting to hear more. With a driving percussive feel cleverly threaded into bright acoustic guitar work as the vocal line tells the story. The CD is another excellent piece of work from Casual Kai showing again that you don't need a battery of Marshall stacks to make powerful songs. Of course you might need brilliant song writing, amazing vocal work and classy playing, and this band have it all... "

- 'North East Music' - FS. July 2005

"REVIEW OF CASUALKAi'S LIVING AGAIN EP: Vocal harmonies, I love good vocal harmonies, and Casual Kai are bursting all over the place with great vocal harmonies... the opening the number is the acoustic 'Living Again' shows off the bands musical skills and the use of, dare I say it again, vocal harmonies make this a great opening track. 'Media Machine' is bright and poppy but again is a great versatile song with plenty of colour and a nice drop into the clever piano solo. Onto 'Sit &Wait' which continues the easy listening feel of the E.P. starting with a mellow wah wah guitar and finishing with a very moody solo piano. 'Fresh Mind' is one of those tracks that you pull out and play when you want a nice piece of music to spill out from the speakers and into your head, a great mood setter. Onto the closing track 'Woman' that throws off the descriptive covers of 'nice' or 'gentle' and although this is another acoustic track it is a powerful and emotionally strong song. The 'Living Again' E.P. is proof that Casual Kai can write, play and sing great songs, there are real songs here and they all hit that spot where other songwriters fail. "

- 'North East Music' - FS. September 2004

"2ND REVIEW OF CASUALKAi'S LIVING AGAIN EP: Reading the biography that accompanied this release told me all about the bands musical qualifications and who influenced the individual band members and from just reading that it was pretty obvious that the band are serious about their music. And true to form the opening the number the acoustic Living Again showed off the bands musical abilities and use of vocal harmonies. Media Machine throws in a piano to the mix with the tandem vocals weaving a delicate spell. This is all pretty laid back stuff, the songs are pretty pop songs that are easy to nod along to, the relaxing sounds delicately serenade the listener and you can't help be caught up in the gorgeous melodies. Fresh Mind is particularly alluring with its use of percussion alongside both acoustic and subtle electric guitars. The final number Woman, is perhaps the nearest the band get to breaking their relaxed mood. It's still a moving acoustic number but the harmonies give way for a moodier vocal delivery that you could imagine working really well with the force of a fully electrified band giving it's weight behind the song. CasualKai aren't doing anything new or ground breaking but what they are doing is offering up little slices of mellow indie pop perfection. "

- 'Rhythm &Booze' - Will Munn. July 2004

"LISTEN 2 COMPILATION CD REVIEW (LIVING AGAIN) Casual Kai is aptly named! This is a largely acoustic track with a sort of folksy feel about it. It’s music to lift the spirits and the delivery of the clever lyrics is well produced to incorporate well layered harmonised vocals. "

- Insangel13's Compilation Listen2 CD 2004

"Revolution's Top 10 singles for June 2004. Casualkai: Media Machine, Top up-beat ska-like effort from this very experienced Newcastle three-piece "

- 'Revolution' North East music guide, reviews. June 2004

"3RD REVIEW OF CASUALKAi'S LIVING AGAIN EP: Put me in mind of a sixties band in terms of chord progressions. Some lovely melodies here having said that. 'Fresh Mind' had me in CSN&Y [Crosby, Stills, Nash &Young] mood "

- Get Rhythm 2 - Kevin Anam. June 2004

"CASUALKAi LIVE REVIEW, NOV 2004: Not much time to tell you all about how fantastic last night's gig was. Everyone played brilliantly, with our new discovery William West (ably aided by his mate Dinga) pulling the kind of startlingly good newcomer trick we see from time to time at Circus. Expect a return visit soon. John Gordon had his first solo Circus, and his new songs sound great. The welcome return of John Brindle was totally captivating, even between songs, his gentle storytelling style had the audience hanging on his every word. Keith Henderson returned for the first time in years away, was as powerful during songs and funny inbetween as ever. Simma was obviously enjoying a great set, Andy Mackin guesting on guitar, including on a storming version of Records. Casual Kai rounded it off, with a set which was pure Circus in a bottle. Storming harmonies, fabulous songs, and every instrument supporting each other. Classic Acoustic Circus. Next... Christmas Party! "

- Acoustic Circus, Bridge Hotel, Newcastle 3/11/2004

"Head of Steam, Newcastle 19/07/2004: Casual Kai were minus two of their band tonight but the strong vocals came over well as a purely acoustic set. This is easy listening music to lift the soul. The building and friendly crowd were treated to “Butterfly Mind, “Sideliner”, “Now”, “You Don’t Know How it Feels”, “In a Dark Space” and a track from the recently released Listen2 – “Living Again”. Their blend of folksy pop will never offend anyone and will attract admirers from a wide range of tastes "

- insangel13.co.uk - Mr.E. July 2004