Tim Ainslie and the Vibes see their Pint Half Full

Tim Ainslie and The Vibes, formerly Ainslie’s Vibes, are a three-piece band from Suffolk, fronted by Tim since 2009. 2010 saw them releasing their debut EP The People Have Spoken followed by an album called Standing Ten Feet Tall in 2012. Tim has been playing the guitar since he was 15 years and he turned professional in 1997.  His style and compositions take in Blues, Jazz with some Country, Rock and Funk elbowing their way into an eclectic blend. He performs solo and in a duo line-up with a variety of musicians, but has recently teamed up with Brendan O’Neill on drums and Rob Palmer on bass for his latest album, Pint Half Full.

The cover art may resemble a saucy seaside postcard, and the fact that the pint is half full at the top (plus the beer goggle effect) suggests a deeper meaning than first impressions would imply. There is definitely a comedic approach throughout in the instrumentation and the stories in each track, but with the odd pearl of wisdom, like the half full argument is “a litmus test for life”, carefully placed in the lyrics. The first and title track sets the tone for the entire album as the whole approach comes across as a curious blend of Syd Barrett, Frank Zappa and The Barron Knights! If I Knew Then is a holiday romance…sort of. Told across a sound weaving jazz and funk around a complex form, and an imaginative solo. No Brainer is a tale of Tim using his on-stage performance to chase an attractive female audience member…” to get to know her was a no-brainer”: the guitar weaves around the song and lifts it beyond what could have become rather banal, the solos and riff are both catchy and devilishly clever. Ain’t No Turning Back is a 60s pop song for the modern age, with its chorus and verses typical of later Kinks singles. Good To Bad is a laid-back song one can imagine a crooner of old delivering as the mellow guitar and brushed drums evoke the jazz/blues of the 40s and 50s. The solo on, I guess a hollow body electric keeps it in the spirit of those times and is extremely well executed.  In Or Out ups the pace with a true blues/rock traditional riff. The tale of Brexit appears to be subject behind the lyrics while the riff rolls around and leads to another inspired solo. No Regrets is a complex jazz-based strummed foundation, over a rapid bass line. Long Time Coming starts like Sade may burst into song, but the lead break that cuts in dispels any such fears. The lyrics stutter a bit through the verses and the textured guitar solo rescues the track again. Mr Evil is a paean to music… ”can’t touch it but it moves you in so many ways”. The best solo on the album flows naturally in the middle of this one, although why the Mr Evil title I wouldn’t like to say. Oyster Reach completes the album and starts with birdsong before a fast-paced country theme kicks in. This time the lyrics seems to be a geography lesson for the sights and sounds around the River Orwell near Ipswich, although when I was there in February, the only Oyster Reach I saw was the Beefeater Pub attached to the Premier Inn I was staying in!!

The more I listen to this album, the greater the enjoyment I get from the guitar playing backed by solid bass and drums. Every listen brings something new to the ears and brings echoes of the brilliant Frank Zappa even closer: Zappa used his guitar to illustrate his idiosyncratic view of life and Tim, in my view, does the same. So you can expect clever, quirky and subtle arrangements wrapped around his social and antisocial commentary. Whilst this may not be an album I seek out every day, it will be one I turn to lighten the mood and at other times, simply concentrate on the guitar skills sprinkled liberally across every track. It takes some getting used to and it would be easy to dismiss as eccentric or self-indulgent but, I promise you, there is more to it than you might think on the first listen.

SEVENpawprint half inchdoodle paws out of TEN …

Tracklisting:

  1. Pint Half Full
  2. If I Knew Then
  3. No Brainer
  4. Ain’t No Turning Back
  5. Good to Bad
  6. In Or Out
  7. No Regrets
  8. Long Time Coming
  9. Mr Evil
  10. Oyster Reach

Musicians:
Tim Ainslie: guitar, vocals
Brendan O’Neil: drums
Rob Palmer: bass

Tim Ainslie and the Vibes see their Pint Half Full

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