30 May 2016
The Virginmarys - Divides
Welcome to cover roulette! I have missed picking up an album just for the cover and after looking in the submissions box, it might be a little bit longer as well. But I am determined to pick this one up as I need a little diversion for my own mind scape (remember, we are not getting paid to do this). The album I have picked at random due to the interesting cover is the latest album from The Virginsmarys, these guys are a three-piece alternative/punk rock band from Macclesfield, Cheshire and have been going since 2009. This is their second album after 'King of Conflict' which was released in 2013 and this album was produced by Gil Norton, who has also worked with the Pixies, Catherine Wheel, Honeycrack, Throwing Muses and others. I love the image of the person having coins in their eyes, but the face is not sure what is going on. Is there a hidden meaning to this image or is it to be took at face value? Either way, it has taken my interest and now it is time to see if it was worth my while.
"Push The Peddle" is the first song on this album, it is a rumbling track that sounds as if it is aching to explode and when it finally does ignite, it really does take on a new dimension. The start sounds as if it is designed to start a show, settle the audience down slightly and then give them an excuse to bounce around with the chorus and the shouting later on in the song. I like it, but I have a feeling there is better to come from this band and album. "For You My Love" is a protest song mixed in with a declaration of love and the willing to sacrifice one's own life for a loved one, it is a song that reminds me a bit of the Wildhearts and the Almighty during their 'Powertrippin' era. It is a hard rock number that has a strong message at its centre and it picks up the pace once again, two good songs so far which are creating a good impression on me. The third track is called "Halo in her Silhouette" which has an old school punk 'n' roll feeling to these ears, the riff is an infectious one that truly grabbed my attention from the first time I listened to the album. It is also not a flash in the pan as it bounces around your brain and makes the hairs on your neck stand up. This song to a lady that is likened to an addiction in some sections of this song just hits all the right buttons for me, definitely one of the best songs of the album. The fourth track is called "Free to Do Whatever They Say" and this song ticks all the boxes for a new classic for me, it has a shit load of energy, a fantastic and infectious riff that makes the hairs stick up on the back of your neck and it sticks in your mind. I cannot help but hit the repeat button on this song, it just sounds huge and life affirming to me. It is just what the doctor ordered as they give a new alternative rock anthem for me, it is one that the neighbours have been enjoying as well - even if they do not like it, as it has been played awfully loudly these last few days.
"I Wanna Take You Home" is a song about control and it is either personal demons or lust, I have not quite worked out which one it is yet. It is what I would call a good old fashion stomper; it is not vintage in anyway or dated, it is just a good & honest song that just rocks out. It is a no-brainer that hits all the right spots, it might not be the most spectacular on this records, but it is still a great song in my opinion with a dark undertone to the riff and a slight touch of glam rock to the guitars in places almost akin to the sound of Swedish band, Backyard Babies. "Walk in My Shoes" marks the half way point of this album, this can best be described as the reflective number. It slows the album down a little, but not by so much that it is derailed - every stomp needs a rest every now and then (unless you are a grindcore album, then it is peddle to the floor all the way through). Anyway, back to the song - this is a song which warning people not to judge until you know what the other person has been through, a message that a lot of people should really listen to. It is a great song, a slow burner that reveals more with each listen and adds a different dimension to the album, it keeps everything going in the right direction for the band and draws your interest in the album much further than before (which was already pretty high in the first instance. "Kill The Messenger" brings back the energy to this record, a song that adds another layer of drama to the album. The drumming has a Celtic battle feeling towards it, the steady beat which is still fast sounds like the Scottish are ready to come over the border and take the land back from the English once more. Considering this band are from Macclesfield, I must guess this was not a sound they were thinking about; but it is also a song that gives off a vibe that has a mixture of Clutch, Queens of the Stone Age and (this is probably why I got the feeling of a band wanting to come over the border) The Skints. It is a great number that has the right amount of menace and energy that propels this song towards the horizon and beyond. "Into Dust" is a song about being sick of the battle, the lies and general bullshit that is surrounding a person and wanting to have a little bit more to a group of people or singular person apart from the waves of strife and broken dreams. It is another huge punk riff, with big ambitions and a stellar performance from the band. This song sounds huge, it sounds as if it is destined to go down a storm at their shows with the huge outpouring of emotion being something that people will be able to relate to.
"Moths to a Flame" slows things down slightly, but only by the smallest amount as the band start the song starts. It is about being drawn to something, trying to be supportive in many way, yet always knowing that it might not be right but still seeing it through till the end (at least that is the message that I am taking from this song). It is a complicated song lyrically, something that makes so much sense and people will be able to identify different things from the song and it will still have the same power. It is a grower for me, a song that takes a few spins to reveal its beauty to the world and it is worth the persistence as it a beautiful number. "Falling Down" is straight out of the block and it starts a fire in your mind that is never going to be put out, a fast punk number that has a massive riff, a great drumbeat and a brilliant bass line in it as well. I played this the other week on a radio show I present called Attention Please in the North East of England and after each show I put up a list of what is played on the show. When that was done, Danny Dee (I am guessing that it is drummer Danny Dolan) dropped a message by the official Virginmarys Facebook page thanking us for the spin and stating that it is one of his favourite songs off the album. I have to agree it is one of the best songs off this record, it have a brilliant amount of energy and it does not let the speed down one iota throughout the song. It was so close to being my top track as well, but was just pipped at the post. The penultimate song of the album is called "Motherless Land" which goes between sentiment, reflection and full out rock mode when the song requires that slight pickup of energy. It is a great moment that builds around a room full of memories and all the feelings that come from those sort of events. It is another grower and it takes its time to get settled for me, but it is a still a great number as we head to the final track. The name of that song is "Living in My Place" which is one of the best songs I have heard in 2016, it is a slow building number about growth, acceptance and the need to belong. It starts with an acoustic guitar and a sense of closure and admittance to the reality of the situation, but then it explodes into the chorus which sinks into your mind instantly and refuses to move. There is another verse about not wanting to be anything but true to themselves, then comes that chorus once again and from there on in, the song just builds towards a fantastic ending. It just keeps looping and building around a simple, yet effective riff and the performance is outstanding. It has been pretty much on repeat since I heard it (obviously when I have free time away from the blog) and it makes such a dramatic impact at this late stage of the album and ends it on a huge high!
I think it is safe to say I love this album; it is a blast from beginning to finish with each track being as memorable as the last. There are a few growers in the mix, which keep on giving with each release and sometimes that is needed. If I was to look for any negatives, I would not be able to find one that is not me being superficial, as I love this album. It does have a sound that is a little retro in places with an alternative rock sound that has been missing from the music scene, but it still has a current edge to the album as well; it is a special release with the work of the band and producer Gil Norton being of an incredibly high standard and it will be welcome by any fan of punk, grunge and alternative music as a whole - purchase now, why have you not purchase it? Do it and thank you cover roulette for bring up another winner!
9.5 out of ten - Almost perfect, almost....
Top track - Living in my Peace
You can purchase Divides on Amazon here
You can visit the Virginmarys website here
You can follow the activities of Virginmarys on Facebook here
You can stream Divides on Spotify here
You can stream Divides on Deezer here
You can stream Divides on Tidal here
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