26 November 2017

2017 Round Up Review Part 15

Welcome to a round-up review!  Similar to the Round-Up posts I put up earlier in the year, I’m going to be posting some bullet point reviews, sort of akin to the ones that you get in magazines, short and to the point.  I complete my first one of these reviews around last Christmas, mainly due to the volume of albums that were still left to review at that time of year, the lack of time to review them all and this is happening for similar reasons. Basically, there is only so much time available to a one-man team, I cannot complete the full detailed blog that I usually post on here, as I need to work to feed myself, look after my lady and generally keep a roof over my head.  So, the list of albums that I want to review/promised to review/need to review has grown beyond my control.  At any given moment, it tends to hit north of 100 with ease and going forward, I will need to get that down with these sorts of blogs.  Now, I will be breaking these roundups down into batches of ten, they will be minus the normal link to purchase or stream the albums (due to space) but you will be able to find these online very easily (legal links, remember - this is not that type of blog).  I will be using the same introduction to each of these blogs if only to save more time.  Thanks for reading - Eddie.

Primus – The Desaturating Seven

You know what, when Primus is at the top of their game, they are unstoppable.  However, when they are shit, they are truly shit.  The Desaturating Seven is somewhere in between both of these sides of the band, there are some glorious moments of lunacy such as “The Seven”, “The Scheme” and “The Storm”, but they tend to disappear up their own collective genius (for want of a better word) every now and then.  I love this band, but this album is not one I have enjoyed at all, even with the returning original line up.

3 out of ten – It could have been a bit better

Top track – The Seven

Fangclub – Fangclub

With their self-titled release, Fangclub has continued the great tradition of the Irish punk rock three-piece acts.  It is a throwback to when grunge was king, the Deftones were about to hit the airwaves and the guitar tone was set at fuzzy!  It is a great album, one that gives an old genre a new lick of paint and to make it their own!

8 out of ten – Oh, now you have my attention and maybe my time, money and heart

Top track – Role Models

Cloakroom – Time Well

Time Well is one of the albums that really should have received a full review, but time is truly against me at the moment.  Cloakroom (for my money) are the American modern equivalent of Dublin Legends, My Bloody Valentine.  They are bathed in reverb, which they use to smother the audience in noise, giving this album a retro feeling.  But it is not an album that is looking back for a time long gone, they have made their own mark in Shoegazing with this album, it is a brilliant record that needs to be heard to be believed.

9 out of ten – Almost perfect, almost…..

Top track – Concrete Gallery

The Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band – Front Poach Sessions

Front Poach Sessions is a stripped back affair from the good Rev and his God Damned band, designed to be playing in an intimate setting, with family and close friends around.  It is a gentle album, one that has a sing-along quality to the music and it sounds beautiful.  The gentle nature of the Reverend is strong, the vocals are fantastic and the songs make you feel like you’re at home.

8 out of ten – Oh, now you have my attention and maybe my time, money and heart

Top track – One More Thing

Anti-Flag – American Fall

American Fall is an album which is conflicted; on one side you have the lyrics, on the other side there is the music.  Lyrically, this is the hardest biting Anti-Flag album in a long time, they are aiming for the enemies of their version of the American ideal, and hell hath no fury.  In that respect, they are spot on.  But musically, oh where do I begin, musically this is the sound of a Pop-punk band trying to sound edgy.  They have watered down their formula further and it makes the message meaningless.  This is such a poor album, they might be hitting bigger audiences with their sound, but the message is lost.

2 out of ten – If only there was some quality control

Top track – The Criminals

The Menzingers – After The Party

A Pop Punk album about the party ending at the end of your twenties, it is an album that all of these acts have to face at one time or another, but rarely has this subject been faced in such a direct manner.  After The Party is an album that I have been wanting to hear, but I didn't even know it.  It's the style of the album that I've been wanting to listen to, one that is really refreshing and new.  I have wanted to hear the Pop Punks who have accepted that they are getting old, but sort of trying to fit it at the same time.  This is a great record, one which is just as important to the genre as any of the hard-hitting political albums, you need both sides and The Menzingers created something special here, love it!

9 out of ten – Almost perfect, almost……

Top track – Lookers

Fireball Ministry – Remember the Story

Remember the Story is a good, honest, straightforward hard rock album.  Much like the Breaking News album I reviewed earlier, it’s success is based on the fact it keeps everything very simple, it does not need to do anything but rock.  Yes, it is not doing anything that I have not heard before, but it still sounds great and that is all you want sometimes, isn’t it?

7 out of ten – This is good and worth checking out

Top track – Back on Earth

David Gilmour – Live at Pompeii

Live at Pompeii will be under the Christmas tree of every Pink Floyd fan who has not already purchased this record.  It is a great album, documenting David Gilmour’s return to that iconic Roman ruin.  It’s a good record, the music is spot on and it acts as a good addition to Rattle That Lock.  I sometimes fear the market is oversaturated with live records, but this is one of the best I have heard in a long time.

7 out of ten – This is good and worth checking out

Top track – High Hopes

Black Star Riders – Heavy Fire

Black Star Riders are a band that receives an unfair amount of flack in my opinion; yes, they were formed out of the last incarnation of Thin Lizzy, but they have done so much since then, it's time that we let them create music without that comparison.  I mean, it is not their fault that they sound like their former incarnation, you cannot change your spots that quickly and this late in the game.  With Heavy Fire, they have stuck with that hard rock sound that has always been their bread & butter, and it is no surprise that it sounds polished and the band are at the top of their game.  It is a no-nonsense album, straight to the point and it sounds really good.

7 out of ten – This is good and worth checking out.

Top track – When The Night Comes In

Electric Wizard – Wizard Bloody Wizard

Electric Wizard is a band that I go backwards and forwards on, when they are on fire and there is nothing holding them back (ie – their own self-destructive tendencies), they are unstoppable.  When they “indulge” a bit too much, they just piss everyone off (including themselves from what I have read).  On Wizard Bloody Wizard, we find EW on great form (thankfully), with some good old fashion doom, a lot of guitar work and songs which you can lose your imagination and sense of self.  The pacing might be a bit slow for some people, but that is to be expected with EW, they are a Doom band after all!  All hail the Wizard, may you forever stay bloody!

8 out of ten – Oh, now you have my attention and maybe my time, money and heart

Top track – Hear The Sirens Scream

2017 Round Up Review Part 14

Welcome to a round up review!  Similar to the Round-Up posts I put up earlier in the year, I’m going to be posting some bullet point reviews, sort of akin to the ones that you get in magazines, short and to the point.  I complete my first one of these reviews around last Christmas, mainly due to the volume of albums that were still left to review at that time of year, the lack of time to review them all and this is happening for similar reasons. Basically, there is only so much time available to a one-man team, I cannot complete the full detailed blog that I usually post on here, as I need to work to feed myself, look after my lady and generally keep a roof over my head.  So, the list of albums that I want to review/promised to review/need to review has grown beyond my control.  At any given moment, it tends to hit north of 100 with ease and going forward, I will need to get that down with these sorts of blogs.  Now, I will be breaking these round ups down into batches of ten, they will be minus the normal link to purchase or stream the albums (due to space) but you will be able to find these online very easily (legal links, remember - this is not that type of blog).  I will be using the same introduction to each of these blogs, if only to save more time.  Thanks for reading - Eddie.

Pvris – All We Know of Heaven, All We Need of Hell

I wish I could make up my mind on Purvis, they just don’t sit right in my mind.  Musically, this is classed as Pop Punk, but I personally think the punk needs to be removed from All We Know of Heaven, All We Need of Hell.  This is a heavy pop album, with some good tunes in the mix, but it’s not doing anything that I have not heard before, it is incredibly middle of the road and it's not life-changing for me.  It’s not bad, just not the sort of thing what I am into.

5 out of ten - Not for everyone, but well played

Top track – What’s Wrong

Stereophonics – Scream Above the Sounds

Scream Above the Sounds is the tenth album from the Welsh rock outfit, this album has been produced by the band themselves and there is very little on here that is appealing to me.  It’s the sound of a band going through the motions to tour, created just for this tour and then it will probably be resigned to the memory of their core fans.  If ever there was an album that screamed “old man rock”, this is it and not in a good way.

1 out of ten - You're really touching the bottom of the barrel with this one

Top track – Caught by the Wind

Diablo Blvd. – Zero Hour

I found Diablo Blvd. when I was looking for music for my radio show, Attention Please on NE1FM and I was pleasantly surprised by Zero Hour.  It’s a great metal album, with a little Euro-twist to the sound with a lot of clean vocals where sometimes you would expect screams.  “Sing from the Gallows” is a favourite of mine from this album. There is a traditional vein of Metal deeply embedded on this record, but one that isn’t afraid to add new flavours to their sound.

8 out of ten – Now you have my attention, and maybe my time, money and heart

Top track – Sing from the Gallows

Godspeed You! Black Emperor – Luciferian Towers

If you don’t know by now what you are going to get from a GY!BE album, then you are far behind the program.  Instead of the usual four songs, the album is split into eight tracks, two single songs and the record are two suites.  To be honest, though, you need to listen to them all in one go.  This isn’t the easiest of records I have heard from GY!BE, but if they ever released an easy album I would probably cry.  But there is also a lack of focus compared to their last material, but even a vague GY!BE album is a good record.

7 out of ten – This is good and worth checking out

Top track – Fam/Famine

Movements – Feel Something

Emotional punk outfit Movements feel like a band that would have been given a lot of grief a few years back when Emo started to hit a decline, which is a shame as they have that right balance of raw emotional lyrics and good, old-fashioned Post-Hardcore Punk to make a sound that gives Emo a new perspective.  Sounds like “Daylily” and “Colorblind” are examples of Movements at their best, but this will be for the purists only.

7 out of ten – This is good and work checking out

Top track – Dayily

HAIM – Something to tell You

I do love a good pop album, I love it when pop music is done correctly.  Sadly though, Something to Tell You isn’t a good pop album, it’s not even an average one, it's an awful one.  Where once there was a promise of some decent pop, some glorious harmonies, there’s mediocrity.  It’s such a shame to be honest, as their vocals are still spot on, if not somewhat synthesized.  Fill under, abandon ship.

1 out of ten –
You're really touching the bottom of the barrel with this one

Top track – Want You Back

GWAR – The Blood of Gods

If you’ve ever heard the legendary GWAR before, you really don’t need to read any further.  The Blood of Gods is a fun metal album, one which keeps things incredibly silly and OTT - exactly what you want from a GWAR record!  This isn’t a long review, but it doesn’t need to be.  I love it for its theatricality, I love the crazy nature of the music, but I have no illusions about this record.  It is fun, flat out fun!

7 out of ten – This is good and worth checking out

Top track – Crushed by the Cross

Foo Fighters – Concrete & Gold

You know what, I like the Foo Fighters, I think it’s the closest I get to an Achilles heel in my musical collection.  Sure, they have released some turkeys and they are now reaching that stage where they can now be viewed as a Dad rock band, but I don’t have a problem with Dave Ghrol and it seems to be very hipster to slag him off, just because he is an in-demand musician and all-around nice guy.  Now, Concrete & Gold isn’t the second coming of The Colour & The Shape, but it’s their best work since that album.  I love “Run”, I find that riff to be infectious, I think that “Arrows” is a great song, I even love “Dirty Water”.  It isn’t a perfect release, “The Sky is A Neighborhood” for instance is a stinker of the highest order, but this is a good album for me.  File your complaints to the nearest wall, I like this one.

7 out of ten – This is good and worth checking out.

Top track – Run

The Darkness – Pinewood Smile

You know what you are gonna get from a Darkness album before you press play – big riffs, huge drums, high vocals that only Mariah Carey and bats can hear, and the lyrical depth of a lustful teenager.  Pinewood Smile does nothing to change this appeal, but if it ain’t broke, why fix it?  They have upped the retro-Classic Rock feeling more than ever before on this record, but this is playing to their strengths, to be honest.  It is a fun album; the music is good, and it will either please you or send you mad, with the Rock world spinning on regardless.

6 out of ten – Now I see where you were going, but it's not quite there.

Top track – Japanese Prisoner of Love

Quicksand – Interiors

Interiors is an album that I have been looking forward to for a long time, it’s also an album I had given up hope on every hearing.  It has been twenty-two years since their last release, Manic Compression, and there is something wonderfully familiar about the sound of this record.   There is a nostalgia to the sound, a feeling that this could have been recorded all those years ago, but it has just been unearthed recently.  It’s beautifully crafted with a sound that takes you back, it also took a few goes to make sense to me.  But it is worth the effort, here is hoping that another album does not take as long to release.

8 out of ten – Oh, now you have my attention and maybe my time, money and heart

Top track – Cosmonauts

25 November 2017

Chris Catalyst - Life Is Often Brilliant

Chris Catalyst might not be a household name, but he is a person that a lot of people “should “ know.  Formerly known as Robochrist (I still remember seeing him on a tiny stage at Scarborough Castle, painted silver and bat-crap crazy), lead-singer of Eureka Machine and guitarist of the Sisters of Mercy, Catalyst, The God Damn Whores and a thousand other acts (including a rumoured run as a Nameless Ghoul in Ghost on the Popstar tour), you are bound to have seen or heard his music at one point in your life.  Life Is Often Brilliant was funded and released via the PledgeMusic funding site, something that a lot of artists and band are doing these days.  I did pay for this pledge and I have to say, Chris Catalyst more than delivered in terms of access and bonus features.  As well as the album, you got bonus tracks, you got the Robochrist EP (eeekkkkk), you got the Catalyst songs and that was only on the download pledge.  If I had the money, I would have gladly paid for me.  But now I have seen the album is in the shops, you can purchase it from the mighty machine called Amazon.  Seeing it in the shops, with that beautiful sunflower on the cover, jogged my memory and reminded me that I still had to finish this review.  Well, it’s better late than never, let’s have a look at how this record has turned out.

01 – No Regrets

“No Regrets” is a classic rock number, with a bit of a Brit-rock edge to proceedings.  You cannot mistake the writing skills of the Eureka Machine lynchpin, but this has a different energy to that outfit.  It is a tale of reaching that part of your life where everything has changed, how the modern world is confusing and how it can all be too much.  It is a stomping number, with a hint of nostalgia, determination and a fighting spirit being worn down as well.  I like it, it’s a solid song that opens this album with style.

02 – Same Old Sun

“Same Old Sun” is a song about reaching out for help, just needing to get through that part of the night when the light is not quite there, to think for yourself and look after yourself too.  This is not a punk number, bouncing from side to side, but it is not a slow sludge minster either.  It is a rock song that hits all the right notes, making me personally want to sing along when it gets to the chorus.

03 – Cracking Up

With a fade in of feedback, “Cracking Up” comes along with a lot of positivity to the music, but just like the Smiths before them, lyrically it is all doom and gloom.  It is a jolly song about having a breakdown, with everything going to shit.  So, it is confirming what you know, but it is also giving you a feel-good tune to help you on your way.  I like this song a lot, there is something quintessentially British about making misery sound so happy.

04 – Yeah – Oh No

“Yeah – Oh No” is all about the internal fight that can occur when depression strikes, having to stand up to your own fears and say that this is not going to last.  It is another stomping song, one of the best on the record as it swirls around and it sounds glorious!  It also continues the “miserably happy” feeling of the album, but it’s showing that it is possible to make a positive out of a negative, what it there not to like about that!

05 – Wake Me Up on Monday

“Wake Me Up on Monday” is the nearest that this album comes to having a Big Starr/Teenage Fanclub Power Pop/Rock number and it is also my favourite of the album.  It just brings a sense of sunshine to my world each time it’s played, even though Monday’s can be the most hated of days to some people.  But Mr Catalyst has created a joyful number here, with a great little solo in the middle and a chorus that should come with a health warning, as it is so catchy!

06 – How Do You Sleep

“How Do You Sleep” goes for broke as we reach the halfway point of this record, bringing in some luscious strings, a sense of anger and exasperation at someone who is being a complete cock-womble.  Sure, there is anger in this song, but it’s taken that shitty situation and turned it into a positive – i.e., the song gets his point across and it sounds brilliant.  The ending is something that I could put on repeat for hours, it is that good.

07 – Distance Over Time

“Distance Over Time” starts the second half of the record with an acoustic opening, which leads to one of the darkest moments on this album.  There is an edge to this song, but it is in keeping with the rest of the album.  There’s a sadness to this number, but whilst you can engage with the sadness to a certain degree when the music is this good, it’s sort of hard not to smile when it’s being played.  I think that says more about me than the song, but I do love numbers such as this.  They end up being sleeper hits, ones that live a massive impression on you, they sink into your subconscious and usually end up becoming one of your favourite songs on the album.  I’m slowly finding the same with “Distance Over Time”.

08 – I Hope We Always Stay the Same

Continuing the slower theme of “Distance Over Time”, “I Hope We Always Stay the Same” is a psychedelic daydream incarnate, complete with a gorgeous breakdown of reality and fantasy.  There is a wish for nothing to change, but this is never possible, and it has a unique heartbreak in the sound.  This is another gem in the sea of precious stones, one that would not be out of place on a Pink Floyd or Beatles album, but it’s at home on Life Is Often Brilliant!

09 – Sticks and Stones

“Sticks and Stones” brings the rock back to proceedings, this Power Pop number is another song that is steeped in the classic sound of earlier recordings, but with that modern sound that gives it a warm feeling.  This song has such a cool, tripping sound, that you could be accused of looking over the words, which are pretty harsh in places.  You have a feeling that Mr Catalyst is not someone to fuck with, as he puts his point across incredibly well on this brilliant tune.

10 – Far

“Far” is a natural follow-on to “Sticks and Stones”, with a song about needing space and alone time every now and then.  It’s one that does not feel as natural as the other songs which preceded it, not sure why either as I cannot put my finger on what is not sitting well.  Sometimes a song just doesn’t work for you, sadly this is one of those times.

11 – You Die at the End

“You Die at the End” is a song about the reality of life, in order to live, one must die.  There are no two ways about it, it’s the only certainty in the universe that all things much reach a conclusion.  Mr Catalyst has created a song which mourns those lost to the void, looks towards the curtain invisible and is ready for the future.  Ok, it’s not the more cheerful number on the album, but it’s one of the best songs on here, also – Mr Catalyst does love a long, drawn-out ending.  Not saying I don’t either, but there is a lot of them on this record.

12 – Able Seamen

“Able Seamen” is a gentle ending to this record, another piece of reflective music, a piano based number that looks around and it’s trying to make sense of a word that is surrounded in darkness.  It guides the listener home gentle, ending this album with a pause instead of a bang.

Life Is Often Brilliant is an album that has its roots in the past, but it brings them right up to date.  You can tell that Chris Catalyst is cut from the same cloth that brought us Drowning Poole, Honeycrack, and yes, The Wildhearts as well.  But his style also has a different twist – there is a personal feeling to this album that makes it hard to ignore in 2017.  Considering my first introduction to the sound of this man was Robochrist, it couldn’t be further apart unless he released an album of Deep House music.  I like this record, it is just a pure rock album, one that gently reminds you that it’s not all that bad at times.  Because it cannot always be rain and progressive jazz, sometimes you need to look around a little and see the good things around you.  Over the months since it was first released, I have come to appreciate its charms, it’s as unique and special as anything his contemporaries have released via PledgeMusic.  I like this album an awful lot, it is a ray of sunshine on any day and it has been a pleasure to review it again, I’m just sorry that my original got lost in the void.  Either way, I had an excuse to listen to this gem of a Power Pop/Rock record and it is glorious!

8.5 out of ten – Oh, now you have my attention and maybe my time, money and heart

Top track – Wake Me Up on Monday

You can purchase Life Is Often Brilliant on Amazon here.

You can visit the Chris Catalyst website here.

You can follow the activities of Chris Catalyst on Facebook here.

You can stream Life Is Often Brilliant on Spotify here.

You can stream Life Is Often Brilliant on Deezer here.

You can stream Life Is Often Brilliant on Tidal here.

Danko Jones - Wild Cat

Danko Jones is sort of a legend to this blog, and I don’t say that to throw false praise of this act.  As I pointed out on Fire Music (our review linked here), I have been in awe of Mr. Jones and his band for a while.  Ever since the first time I saw him supporting the Backyard Babies, I have been held in rapture, and have been following his music ever since.  Danko Jones (the person and band) are a throwback to the days when rock was full of energy, where everything is at full tilt and the party is always heading toward midnight.  So, you may be asking why it has taken me since March to write this review, well there is a reason for that.  This is actually the second time I have written this review, I had originally written it on my old laptop, but it got lost when that computer passed away.  It's been on my list to re-write, and I have finally gotten time to complete this review.  So, I have now lived with Wild Cat since March, let's find out how time has been to it.

01 – I Gotta Rock

In typical Danko Jones fashion, “I Gotta Rock” is a high-octane, adrenaline-fuelled number, one which is dedicated to the need to rocking the world.  It is fast, furious and full of a passion that is a must for an opening track on a Rock album.  There's no sign that age is getting to the band, in fact, they've not sounded this fierce in a long time to be honest, which makes this is a great opening track.

02 – My Little R’n’R

“My Little R’n’R” is a typical Rock song, one that compares a lover to the soul of Rock ‘n’ Roll, with this lady having the right attitude for him, one that Mr. Jones cannot help but submit to.  It’s a cheeky rock song, but aren’t all rock numbers to a certain degree?  The same could be said about all Pop numbers, Indie numbers, Deep-House numbers, and so on and so forth.  It has that magic factor, the special something that makes it fun and special.  When a song sounds as good as this, all that matters is the passion behind the performance and the fact that it is one of the best songs on this album.   In fact, I would go as far as to say it is one of the best songs of 2017.

03 – Going Out Tonight

“Going Out Tonight” is another energetic rock number, one about wanting to be free and to spend the night out on the town.  It’s the mirror image to “My Little R’n’R”, on this number we hear a cry for freedom, a need to escape and nothing else will do until this is achieved.  It’s a decent number, the riff sounds really good, but the chorus does not match that opening bravado, giving the song a lopsided feeling. 

04 – You Are My Woman

“You Are My Woman” is about finding the perfect partner, the search for that special someone, and it sounds like Thin Lizzy!  Seriously, you can hear the ghost of Phil Lynott on this one, which is never a bad thing. Having that Classic Rock sound has always been DJ’s calling card, which gives it a tribute feeling.  “You Are My Woman” is a fun song which will appeal to his audience, nothing more and nothing less.

05 – Do This Every Night

“Do This Every Night” is a song about how the band is always on the road, how they are on top of their game and how their audience is constantly growing.  This is another example of a song that shouldn’t really work in 2017, but it sounds so relevant at the same time.  I love that Danko Jones create songs such as “Do This Every Night”, sometimes you just need a Rock song to do what it says on the tin…. Rock.

06 – Let’s Start Dancing

“Let’s Start Dancing” is a song which is a little bit too fast for the waltz, but it is aiming for a different type of dancing.  It is a fast, punk rock number with a little of Motorhead to the main riff.  It is either going to annoy or have you moving as if there are ants in your pants.  Either way, I like this song, how can you not enjoy something this fun????

07 – Wild Cat

“Wild Cat” might have given the album its title, but it is also one of the weakest songs on offer here sadly.  It’s not the worst song ever, not even the worse song I have heard in 2017.  It just doesn’t have that lynchpin that makes a great Danko Jones number, there is no connection for me, it was the same on the first review and that feeling has not changed since.  But even a disappointing Danko Jones number is better than a lot of bands out there, at least they still know how to rock.

08 – She Likes It

“She Likes It” is one of the slower numbers of the album, but don’t worry – there is not an acoustic guitar within a hundred miles of this number.  It is another hard-rocking number, one about the relationship between a lady and her partner, filled with sexual energy and sounding a little dirty.  Is it sexist?  I don’t think so, as the song is showing that the lady is in charge, but that is for others to debate.  For me, it is just a class Rock number, nothing more and nothing less.

09 – Success in Bed

Alice Cooper and Kiss – eat your hearts out!  “Success in Bed” is soooooooo cheesy, I mean this is just one of those songs that's stuck in a time warp and would not have been out of place in the 80’s.  It is a big song, about how a man can be good in bed.  Much like “Wild Cat”, it is a weak number.  It is 2017, not 1982 and whilst I can understand why some people might like this, this is still a step too far back for my ears.

10 – Diamond Lady

The penultimate track of this album is called “Diamond Lady”, this time the man is in awe of the woman and is willing to submit to her will.  It is another Hard Rock number, one with love at its heart instead of lust, one about the union of souls and it sounds so much better for it.  Another great song from Danko Jones, it is the total package!

11 – Revolution (But Then We Make Love)

“Revolution (But Then We Make Love)” ends this album with a song about making changes, but then getting your end away.  So close, but let's be honest - they're still thinking with their John Thomas’s.  The music is fun, but it also has those words.  I am not sure if this is to be taken seriously or not, but I still find myself laughing at this in the same way I did when he was the “Mango Kid”.  Cheesy, but well played.

In an age where Rock music has been stated to be over, it’s great to see bands such as Danko Jones are still out there, giving it their all and achieving results in the face of increasing odds against them.  For every serious artist, you need an artist that knows how to get a crowd moving.  There is no questioning their talent, or the fact that they are serious about their art, I know because every time I have seen Danko Jones live, they give their all.  You can also say the same about this record, whilst it’s not the deepest of record, you know it’s just a fun record.  You’re not going to debate what is going on in “She Likes It”, you already know everything about it before it starts to fade out. However, Wild Cat is a primal album, a beast that is designed to get the room moving, the knees quaking and the headbanging.  Yes, there are a couple of tracks that sound out of place in 2017, yes, I might like a bit of change from them, but that’s not the point here.  Wild Cat is saying “if it’s not broken, why try to fix it when it works so well?”  I love this record for its sound, for its ability to play to the strengths of Danko Jones, it quite simply – rocks!

8 out of ten – Oh, now you have my attention, and maybe my time, money and heart

Top track – My Little R’n’R

You can purchase Wild Cat on Amazon here.

You can visit the Danko Jones website here.

You can follow the activities of Danko Jones on Facebook here.

You can stream Wild Cat on Spotify here.

You can stream Wild Cat on Deezer here.

You can stream Wild Cat on Tidal here.

Polkadot Cadaver - Get Possessed

The coming of a Polkadot Cadaver album is always something special, they always come up with something that is fucked up, a few steps to the side of everything else that is going one, and above all, bizzaro!  Get Possessed is their fourth album, the follow up to Last Call in Jonestown (click here for our review), which my former colleague Luke enjoyed.  I have always had a soft spot for this band, going back to the days when some of them were in Dog Fashion Disco, but how has Get Possessed turned out?

01 – Dead Beats

“Dead Beats” is a twisted little number, this could be a song about isolation or about living in a zombie apocalypse.  Either way, the riff for “Dead Beats” is one of the best Alternative/Nu-Metal riffs I have heard in a long time.  There is a heavy synth presence on this song, giving it a bit of a Faith No More feeling as well, but it also has so much of their own tone in here as well.  It's a great opening to this album, one that sounds like it could have been used in a John Carpenter horror film.

02 – Couldn’t Move Far Enough Away

“Couldn’t Move Far Enough Away” is the second song on Get Possessed, but it could possibly have become my second favourite song by Polkadot Cadaver ever (after their glorious cover of “Blue Christmas”).  This is a frantic little number, full of wonderful moments of uneasy calm, loud explosive passages of sound, and a horror filled set of lyrics that would scared the living bee-Jesus out of the average citizen of the great unwashed.  “Couldn’t Move Far Enough Away” keeps getting better with each subsequent listen, it's also quickly rising up my best songs of 2017 list as well.

03 – Powder Pink Baby Coffin

As titles go, “Powder Pink Baby Coffin” is one of the most disturbing on this album.  Not gonna lie, it is a bit of a hard listen in places, but the music is as good as anything else on this album.  But it’s not as if these crazy cats could ever be accused of being subtle, they are just a crazy metal band who happen to pursue the macabre and strange, so whilst this one is not for everyone, it’s not the worst thing I have heard in 2017.

04 – Robot Assisted Suicide

“Robot Assisted Suicide” starting and finishing with the same electronic start, gives this song an Ouroboros feeling, an infinity loop that goes on and on forever.  This song has death at its core, with the robots assisting to eliminate humanity, eventually taking over.  It’s a great number, it's a horror-filled tune that has a fantastic riff and an old school feeling to the main riff of the song. 

05 – Get Possessed

“Get Possessed” is all about zombies, possession of the dead, spirits taking over your body and everything in-between.  I think I would describe this song as frantic, it has a hungry feeling about it and it also sounds like it will not stop until it has consumed everything.  There is a thrash element to this song, one that helps it stand out from the crowd.  That said, you cannot ever accuse Polkadot Cadaver of ever being samey, only a little twisted and this song continues that tradition.

06 – Brain Eating Amoeba

“Brain Eating Amoeba” is a decent enough number, a little bit of a slow stomper that rattles along with a death/gore obsession that is the focal point of this record.  It’s not a bad song, but it’s the song on the album I have not connected with.  Sometimes it happens, everything should be right, but somehow it doesn’t click.

07 – Steward of the Syphilitic Emperor

“Steward of the Syphilitic Emperor” is a no-nonsense, straight to the point, fucking loud number.  I think I prefer it when Polkadot Cadaver are at this pace, it seems to complement their bat-crap crazy moments.  As well as that Nu-metal sound, there is a Hardcore edge to this song, one that sounds like it could start a mosh pit in an instant.

08 – Cocaine Gone, Party Over

The party has gone south on “Cocaine Gone, Party Over”, with its bizarre feeling to the music and the words.  It's one that you must listen to a few times to appreciate what is going on, it’s not as instant as some of the other songs on the record.  But it’s one of the most rewarding songs on the album, sure there is a slow burning element to the song, but give it time, you will end up enjoying it and singing it out at inappropriate moments. 

09 – Skin in the Game

“Skin in the Game” is the penultimate song of this album, it also feels like a song that combines a lot of the elements of this album.  It has a few synth passages, it has a few heavy riff moments, it has a great chorus and it sounds brilliant when played loud – what is there not to like?

10 – Gasoline Enema, Bend and Light

As album endings go, “Gasoline Enema, Bend and Light” is pretty good, it keeps up the energy to the last moment, giving everything to the last moments as the light fades from the album.  It’s a catchy number, one that has a lot of things going for it, with a huge chorus section that has been stuck in my head for days.  When it comes to ending your record, you might as well go for broke!

As far as a throwback to the sound of the dirtier end of Nu-Metal goes, Get Possessed is a storming record.  Polkadot Cadaver are a band currently on top of their rather grime game, but it’s delivered with the tongue firmly in the cheek (possibly through the cheek, if you're a zombie) and a huge amount of macabre charm.  Yes, the subject matters are twisted.  Yes, it’s a little gross in place (even for my stomach).  Yes, it’s not exactly a commercial record.  But it’s not meant to be, they are catering for a different audience who have a strange sense of humour and are not interested in the latest Taylor Swift record, unless it has a zombie song on it, does it have a Zombie song?  Anyway, I have digressed a little here.  Get Possessed has some of the best Alternative/Nu-Metal songs I have heard in a long time, I cannot help but enjoy it, even more than I have enjoyed the best percentage of their back catalogue (although their cover of “Blue Christmas” is still yet to be beaten).  Approach with care, and be prepared to laugh at a lot of inappropriate subjects.

8 out of ten
– Oh, now you have my attention and maybe my time, money and heart

Top track – Couldn’t Move Far Enough Away

You can purchase Get Possessed on Amazon here.

You can purchase Get Possessed bundles from Razor to Wrist Records here.

You can follow the activities of Polkadot Cadaver on Facebook here.

You can stream Get Possessed on Spotify here.

You can stream Get Possessed on Deezer here.

You can stream Get Possessed on Tidal here.

Iron Monkey - 9-13

I never thought I would get the change chance to review a new album by Iron Monkey.  It just didn’t seem possible for this legendary act to reform, let alone record music after their split in 1999 and the passing of their former vocalist Johnny Morrow.  But over the last year, I started to hear rumblings that Iron Monkey was reforming, this time as a three-piece with Jim Rushby on vocals and guitar, Steve Watson moving from guitars to bass and new drummer Scott “Brigga” Briggs.  I have heard a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth about this album, saying that it is not right for these men to use the Iron Monkey name.  In my opinion, they can do what the hell they want, all they must do is make sure it doesn’t sound shite.  Let’s see if they have achieved this……

01 – Crown of Electrodes

Oh, how I have missed that guitar tone……

“Crown of Electrodes” feels like a kick in the face that is being dealt forever, never-ending aggression and a swirling vortex of pain.  This sludge heavy opening is exactly what you would expect from Iron Monkey, a swirling riff with lots of bass, a huge portion of drums and screams that have been missed for far too long.  If you are not filled with the urge to start a circle pit upon hearing this, you might be dead already.

02 – Omegamangler

“Omegamangler” has one of the sickest grooves of Metal I have heard in 2017, it’s huge riff that just keeps on giving from beginning to finish, always delivering the good and sounding loud as fuck!  It’s a straightforward number, no gentle introductions, just straight to the heart of the matter and sounding like bombs are dropping.  Exactly what you want from an Iron Monkey song!

03 – 9-13

With the briefest amount of feedback, “9-13” launches into action and we find Iron Monkey on attack mode once again, with a fantastic piece of sludge that will kick the shit out of any band who dared to come close to claiming their crown.  Whilst it might be slightly slower than “Crown of Electrodes” and “Omegamangler”, it’s just as fierce.  This is a song that sounds as if it's capable of starting a mosh pit in an empty room, it’s that good!

04 – Toadcrucifier - R.I.P.Per

Sounding like they are about to smash a hole through the walls, “Toadcrucifer – R.I.P.Per” is an emotionally charged timebomb, a track that sounds old-school and bang-up to date at the same time.  It’s a great number, full of those hooks that you always want from Iron Monkey, this is one of my favourite from the album, just because it sounds so beaten up and brutal.

05 – Destroyer

Five tracks and there is no let-up (to be honest, you wouldn’t want any) and “Destroyer” keeps up the fierce and brutal attack on the audio senses that is the calling card of Iron Monkey.  You’re not going into this song looking for comfort, you’re looking for some of the most brutal sludge in 2017, this is a good as anything else from this album.

06 – Mortarhex

I cannot help but love “Mortarhex”, it sounds like Armageddon has been unleashed a bit too soon and all the noise is reverbing around the world.  It’s a frantic number, the riff sounds like it is falling down some stairs, whilst holding a beer that it doesn’t spill, and then it gets up to start it all over again.  In keeping with the album, it never fails to impress after each listen, this is one of my favourite songs on the album.

07 – The Rope

Things get really heavy on “The Rope”, and that is even after what has been played beforehand.  “The Rope” is a repetitive riff that goes around, getting slower as the song goes on, with harrowing screams being laid over the song at various points.  This is one that will separate the casual fan from the noisy loving bastards.  It’s all low-end, reverbing like a motherfucker and as loud as one of those machines that tear up streets when it needs a new layer of tarmac, it's fantastic!

08 – Doomsday Impulse Multiplier

“Doomsday Impulse Multiplier” picks up the energy of the song, keep the fires burning on this record, dropping another Sludge Metal number on the listener, with another repetitive riff that has a droning quality and smash ’n’ grab style.  Whilst the riff is good, and the performance is as harsh as ever, “Doomsday Impulse Multiplier” is not as strong as other songs on this album. With that being said, it’s a loud and brash little bastard of a tune, so it is in keeping with the rest of the album in that regard.

09 – Moreland St. Hammervortex

“Moreland St. Hammervortex” brings the curtains down with a loud explosion of sound to begin with, then it drops the longest track of the album.  It’s a traditional sludge number, long periods of building, aggressive outbursts peppered about to cause eruptions of noise, vocals that will tear holes in your eardrums, the usual.  It needs a bit of time and a few spins to sink in, it’s not an instant classic by any means, but it’s still a good ending to this record.

9-13 is the sound of the terminally pissed off, the down-trodden revolting against the world, the primal expression of a fucked off generation with nothing to lose.  I love (for want of a better word) that they have come back together, and that this union has unleashed this untamed beast of an album.  Now, some people are going to compare it to their previous incarnation, which is a natural thing to do.  But it’s also something I have tried to avoid in a way, as Iron Monkey’s first run was such a tour-de-force that to compare them would be unfair.  They have stayed true to themselves, that is enough for me and then some.  Also, a lot of people might reject this, just because it's not the original line-up.  But to those people who have not listened to this for that reason, get over it!  This is a great Iron Monkey album, it does not fuck up their legacy, in fact, it brings a new dimension to it and what more would you want?  It's great to have Iron Monkey back in any form, having a new album is just the cherry on top of a huge cake.  Granted, the cake is toxic and will kill you, but that is always the risk you take with Iron Monkey anyway. Hopefully, there will be more to come, as this is a spectacular album!

9 out of ten – Almost perfect, almost......

Top track – The Rope

You can purchase 9-13 from the Iron Monkey page on the Relapse Record page on Bandcamp here.

You can purchase 9-13 from Amazon here.
You can follow the activities of Iron Monkey on Facebook here.

You can stream 9-13 on Spotify here.

You can stream 9-13 on Deezer here.

You can stream 9-13 on Tidal here.

Son of Dave - Music for Cop Shows

Son of Dave…...That is a name that I have not heard in an awfully long time.  The first time I was introduced to the music of Benjamin Darvill, aka Son of Dave, was at a gig at The Cluny in Newcastle.  I was took to the gig by one of my friends who had seen him before, just being told to expect the unexpected.  The stage set was minimal, then a man came out in a hat, sunglasses, a suit that could have done with an iron and sounded like he’d been smoking all his life.  He started playing his harmonica slowly, looping his harmonica playing, recording his stomps, creating a sound with a load of effect peddles and it was a jaw dropping performance.  I went back to see him a few times, each one was just as unique as the first time, but I ended up missing a few performances, I lost track of what was happening.  So, when I got an offer to review his new album, I jumped at the chance.  I wanted to see what has changed, if there has been a progression to his sound, had he developed a rave sound? (sarcasm).  But most of all, I just wanted to hear that blues tone once more.  So, how does Music for Cop Shows stand up?

01 – Get A Strutt On

“Get A Strutt On” opens this album with a feeling that the night is young, the suit is sharp, and everything is full of mystery.  It has been a while since I heard anything new from Son of Dave, and there have been a few changes. There is a full band in the studio, not just a few musicians or even just Son of Dave, so this changes the sound of this act.  It effects the feeling behind the music, which is sort of unsettling at first as that is not what I was used to with Son of Dave, but it’s not a bad sound.  Once I was over that initial surprise, then you can appreciate the song, which is a loose and cool opening track to this album.

02 – Daddy was a Wolf

“Daddy was a Wolf” is a song that I wish was out on Halloween, it would have used this for my Halloween show on the radio show I work for.  It is a fun number, it has a funky bass line and it is one that will cause dancing to erupt at a moment’s notice, then is all you could as for with a blues number.  It is short, to the point and above all – fun.

03 – Six Weeks

The start of “Six Weeks” is what I am used to with Son of Dave, just one man, his harmonicas and very basic percussion.  But it is doesn’t last, and the full band come in, but there is nothing wrong with that.  In fact, it sounds great, this song feels like it is designed for the road, it is a journeyman’s song and it is one of the defining moments of this record.  In fact, it's my favourite song on this album, it's a brilliant number!

04 – Pow Pow

“Pow Pow” is Son of Dave with a pop infliction, a blues man who is having fun in the studio and has created a song that is made for dancing.  There is no deep meaning to this one, it is for getting people moving and it does its job admirable, what is there not to like here!

05 – Caledonian Street

“Caledonian Street” removes the energy from the album a little, just so the listener is not spent within the first half of the album.  There is something lovely about this one, it has a mournful feeling to it, with a heavy heart in the mix.  However, I will also add that I didn’t connect with it as easy as other numbers on the record.  It makes you work for your reward, so tread carefully on this one.

06 – Rattlesnake

“Rattlesnake” on the other hand, is a much better song.  It’s another slow number, one that is built up slowly, mainly around the bass to be honest.  The harmonica might take the praise at times, the bass on here is brilliant!  The more I listen to this, the better it becomes, it's a stunning song.

07 – Blues Organ

“Blues Organ” brings the party back to the album, with a (mostly) instrumental track that has more energy that your average hyperactive teenager on red bull.  There is a great duelling piece between the harmonica and the guitar, it’s one of those songs that will keep everyone happy.

08 – Mojo Wawa

“Mojo Wawa” is a Blues heavy number, even on a blues centred album.  It’s a good number, the ranting lyrics are fascinating, and the music is of a high quality.  But it’s another song that I had to work at, there is nothing instant about this one.  But I cannot deny the quality or craftmanship behind the song, the passion in the performance is there for all to see.

09 – Hey Aye

“Hey Aye” mixes some roots sounds to this album, giving Son of Dave another dimension to his sound.  I love the vocals on this one, it has a rich texture, a beautiful sound and it’s the song I have thought about the most since I first heard it.  I would be lying if I said it was my favourite, but it’s the one that I keep mulling over.  I think it’s too early to give a verdict on this one, but it’s one I would say is worth investigating, possible approaching brilliant.

10 – Marching & Whistling

So how, “Marching & Whistling” has combined the Blues of Son of Dave, the sound of a marching band and the feeling of Talking Heads all into one crazy assed tune.  I cannot describe this song in any other way then bizzaro!  It must be heard to be believed, but it’s designed to get people moving, that is something that it should achieve with relevant ease.

If you’ve ever experienced Son of Dave before, there is nothing here that will surprise you at all.  Music for Cop Shows is a fantastic blues record, one that showcases all the positives about Son of Dave.  However, as I have mentioned before, there are differences to when I last encountered the man.  There is that fantastic harmonica performance, the centre piece of any Son of Dave song, but there is a full band here.  I hear a bass, different percussion, an organ and it gives the man and his sound a slightly different edge.  But ultimately, it still comes back to the man and his harmonica, which is the focal point of this act anyway.  The songs are of a high quality, with a fantastic array of instruments on show (not just including the harmonica).  The slow build of the songs that you have from the live shows is missing though, as everything is already preloaded in the studio, which is a bit of a shame for me.  But to focus on that would be childish and an exercise in futility.  Sometimes you just need to listen to an album without being a critic, and this is what I have done with Music for Cop Shows.  To argue against the addition of extra layers is useless, it gives this man (and by extention, this album) another dimension and I love that sort of thing.  Does it always work?  Well, I would say sort of.  There are times when less might have been more, but you never know until you try something.  Whilst it's not as jaw-dropping as O2, Music for Cop Shows worth checking out.  If you are wanting to listen to a great blues album with something a little different, you could do a hell of a lot worse than this one.  I would also recommend going to see his live show, he is a great performer and it will be one of the best you have seen in your life.

7.5 out of ten – This is good and worth checking out

Top track – Six Weeks

You can purchase Music for Cop Shows on Amazon here.

You can visit the Son of Dave website here, where you can also purchase Music for Cop Shows.

You can purchase Music for Cop Shows on Bandcamp here.

You can follow the activities of Son of Dave on Facebook here.

You can stream Music for Cop Shows on Spotify here.

You can stream Music for Cop Shows on Deezer here.

You can stream Music for Cop Shows on Tidal here.

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