30 March 2019

Braddock Station Garrison - American Radio

Third times the charm between me and Braddock Station Garrison.  Earlier this year, they released their third album, American Radio.  It's been two years since they released Saint Stephanie and the Stones (our review is linked here), but it doesn't seem like five minutes have passed.  As with each new release from a band or artist, you expect one of two things - "complete change" or "more of the same".  Both options are important, depending on the genre/band in question.  I will look at more a little later on, but I really want to get onto the review, so let's get to it.

01 - Blockbuster

"Blockbuster" starts this album with a standard American Classic Rock track.  There are no frills, spills or notes wasted.  It's a focused track, with a catchy little beat and riff that can be a real earworm.  I like this song, it feels like a continuation of their previous records, which is not a bad thing at all.

02 - Small Town Scene

"Small Town Scene" has a real R.E.M. vibe about it, around about Life's Rich Pagent-era sound.  I like the energy of the track, it has a positivity to the music, with a brilliant set of lyrics too.  There were a couple of notes which sounded a little too high in places, but overall, it was another good song.

03 - Travellin' Bible Salesman

Another bouncing song, "Travellin' Bible Salesmen" is a song about an unwanted man, selling lies and slander.  This is one of my favourite song of the album, it's one of the louder numbers on the album, but it's keeps everything within the style of the album.  With each spin, it digs in a little deeper.  It's a quality tune.

04 - When You Say

"When You Say" is the first slower number of American Radio, but again, there keep everything in the tone of the record.  It's a song which has a little bit of fear about it, mixed in with a little bit of love for good measure.  The lyrics seem to be a tiny bit too long for music in places.  Almost as if they're saying everything, but with a limited space of time to do so.  But the song is still a solid, dependable number.

05 - Border Run

"Border Run" brings the mood down once again, adding further depth (again, within the fixed parameters of their sound) to American Radio.  Everything feels like a puzzle which has come together with this song, creating a track that have emotional depth and a great performance from BSG.  One of the highlights of this album.

06 - John Lennon in California

With good timing, "John Lennon in California" brings back the energy to American Radio.  This is a good thing.  Bands/artists often go down a slower path too long on an album of this ilk.  But not BSG, they've got their heads screwed on.  Thankfully, "John Lennon in California" is a good number as well.  It's not a larger than life number, but it's one that is in keeping with this album.  That is not a bad thing at all.

07 - Pretty Girls in White Cars

"Pretty Girls in White Cars" is a standard Classic Rock number, one that reminds me a bit of the Gin Blossoms in places.  It's a decent song, but it's the only one which I sort of could get into.  This can happen and it's no fault of BSG's, sometimes a song is not for you.  So, onto the next number.....

08 - Kathy's Eyes

"Kathy's Eyes" is a bouncy little number!  I have to admit, it's not my type of thing, but it's one that has my toes tapping and it's one that I've thought about long after it's stopped playing.  That's the sign of a good song in my books!  As you would expect on this record, it's a Classic Rock number, with a large slice of Heartland Rock in their as well.  It's a brilliant number, one of the best on this album.

09 - Jailhouse Bars

"Jailhouse Bars" is the penultimate song of American Radio, which contains a hard little edge. Whilst it's not a massive leap to their sound, it does feel a bit heavier than the other nine tracks on offer.  "Jailhouse Bars" is a good, solid number that keeps everything heading in the right direction.

10 - American Radio

The title track ends this slice of Classic Rock, with a slow lament to the past. It brings the curtains down, let's the clock wind down, places the chairs on the table, you know - that sort of thing.  It's a good ending track to this record, bring this album to a fitting conclusion.  As the song fades and the band is still playing, it sort of makes you wish they had have extended the ending.  But that is just me, I like to hear a final note.

The old adage goes, if it ain't broke, don't try to fix it.  Braddock Station Garrison deal is a very safe style of music, you're not going to have solos that go on for twenty minutes, drum solos or Death Metal grunting.  What BSG deal in is a Classic Rock sound with connections to R.E.M., The Beatles, Toad the Wet Sprocket and Gin Blossoms.  If you're wanting something Electronic or exotic, American Radio will not be for you.  But this doesn't mean that this album is an awful release or poor.  For their chosen genre, Braddock Station Garrison are a very good band.   Apart from trying to reach a few notes that are slightly out of their vocal range, American Radio is a solid, subtle and dependable Classic Rock album.  Now, you may remember at the beginning of this review, I said that all records from a band fall into one of two categories.  American Radio falls into the section marked "more of the same" and this is what I was hoping for/expected.  You need a record such as this at times, for each album one that explodes like dynamite in a quarry and changes everything, there should be the opposite.  You need an album that is a solid, unflinching example of the genre it represents.   American Radio fits this description like a glove, sometimes that is all you want out of an album.

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

Top track - Kathy's Eyes

You can purchase American Radio from the Braddock Station Garrison Bandcamp page here.

You can purchase American Radio from Amazon here.

You can visit the Braddock Station Garrison website here.

You can follow the activities of Braddock Station Garrison on Facebook here.

You can stream American Radio on Spotify here.

You can stream American Radio on Deezer here.

You can stream American Radio on Tidal here.

25 March 2019

Vladopus9 - Expires on Tuesday

Vladopus9 have finally done it!  After a lot of talking about releasing new material, waiting and waiting some more, they've finally released Expires on Tuesday.  If you've not read my review of their last single, "Li-Alien Attack" (which you can do here), then you mightn't know much about Vladopus 9.  Well, here is the lowdown once more - (Information took is taken from their ReverbNation page):  "National Recording Artist Vladopus9-, is the accumulation of many years of eclectic musical experiences. Joseph Page's influences originate from the classic rock, hair metals bands, and heavy/speed/thrash metal bands of the 1980’ into the punk scenes that dominated the 1990’s and early 2000’s. While cultivating his techniques and musical agendas through writing, playing, and performing in various alternative, punk, folk, noise, and rock bands throughout the years-, the music that Page is now creating is a true reflection of what influenced him the most within all of those musical communities as well as the life experiences, and worldviews that drive daily life. Lisa Rau is the truest example of how a love for music can produce real talent. With her unique and honest approach to vocals, alongside her passion to never imitate another performer-, her vocal style is compelling, honest, and her own. While trying not to lose his mind and wondering where he is or going, Chris Simpson's drumming pursuits began influenced by the video age and by crawling under a rock and digging just enough to uncover the surface in order to see what was beneath it all-, Simpson developed an approach to music unique to himself. Previous projects range from heavy metal jazz and trainswrecks-, to straight-forward punk rock and Simpson continues these influences on with structured dynamic drums-, while playing the kitchen sink or campy, burned-out triggers/samples. Simpson plays to the vocals while setting the heartbeat of the songs with his driving raw/heavy/fast noise, to dropping stops/fallout silence with the true passion of all great drummers/artists."  Well, that is the band introduced (again), but what about Expires on Tuesday?

01 - Shovelhammer

Now, I love a good noisy beginning to an album.  Feedback can be so tuneful at times.  "Shovelhammer" sounds like the mutant child of Black Sabbath and Butthole Surfers.  It's mostly noise, doom riffs and strange noise, with a barbed vocal delivery laced throughout the middle of the song.  

02 - Enabler

"Enabler" sounds as if we're heading down the rabbit hole, twisting and turning toward oblivion on a drug-fueled rant.  It's part horror theme, part  Hunter S Thompson and all noise crazy.  It's not an easy song, it will terrify people and so it should.  It's not designed to be nice, it's designed with a macabre sense of pleasure and insanity.  Love it.

03 - Transparent Fences

"Transparent Fences" is a sludge/noise hybrid, with a constantly changing tempo, style and delivery throughout the short time it's on this sphere.  It goes from Beefheart, to Ministry (pace wise), they go Country, then Zappa and then it goes on a different route on the way back.  Backwards and forwards, never in a straight line and never easy.  When there is a howl near the end, I can truly appreciate it, but this is what you should expect from Vladopus 9.  It's in keeping with the album and I love how it sounds.

04 - Saynow Stravinsky

"Saynow Stravinsky" sounds like a back end of the band playing in the Black Lodge in Twin Peaks, but with a vain and self-absorbed person not getting the music.  It just repeats itself, as the story of the vocals repeat and the confusion descends to a bitchy ending.  This is one of my favourite songs on Expires on Tuesday, due to its simple delivery and droning mantra to the bassline that is stuck in my head.  Also, any song that has the line "sucking all the air out of the room" is a winner in my book.

05 - Tripnation

"Tripnation" is a strange one, and saying it's strange on an album such as Expires on Tuesday should be a warning of the strange nature of this song.  Once again, I'm using the word strange, but it's in keeping with the record as well.  This tale of a trip is a fast little number, with massive vocals effects over an alternative indie/metal noise.  It's over really quickly, so it's hard to take more than a quick impression from it, but it's still interesting.

06 - Molecula

So, after five fast, frantic and intense numbers, "Molecula" is a slower, patient and intense number.   The music is droning, the spoken word ranting the anchor which you cling onto as you swirl around and around.  With each spin, you're sure it's going to deviate, but it keeps the same course each time, fading out into a wall of noise.  It's amplifier worship, feel the noise and chill out.

07 - Bored Dorian

Following on the slower path which was laid out by "Molecula", "Bored Dorian" is a Post-Grunge number which has a Shoegazer feeling to the music as well.  Imagine Stone Temple Pilots when they were at their peak, jamming with Slowdive and Ride, with more amplifiers that one ever requires.  I love it, it's my favourite moment of this record, it's a small pond of noise-based tranquillity and it's required to make the other tracks make sense. 

08 - Grown Punkins

"Grown Punkins" is another Post-Grunge number, but with more Butthole Surfers influence coming back into the mix.  The frantic drumming is the key to this song, driving Vladopus9 forward at a furious pace, with the guitars and bass in support of this number.  It's another number which has been stuck in my head for ages, it's got some great hooks.

09 - Expires on Tuesday

The title track is a dream-pop/Shoegazing breath of sunshine, a restful pool in the madness of the world that is Expires on Tuesday.  It has a Classic Rock sort of daydream, with a bit of distortion for good measure, then comes the drug-tripping monologue towards the middle and the end.  I love this one a lot, it's a little gem, but at the moment it's in a sea of diamonds.

10 - Li-Alien Attack

"Li-Alien Attack" was the first track I ever heard by Vladopus9, it was their lead single from this album, so it makes sense that it brings everything to a close.  My opinions on this song haven't changed, it's still a great little song and the bit about getting this bitch to land is perfect for ending this record.

Expires on Tuesday is a great album, a little Alternative gem in an age when Twenty One Pilots are considered to be Rock, in an age when people are more concerned about immoral connections, instead of finding out what is within you.  Vladopus9 are outsiders, they've looked in and signed out, taking their own road to who knows where. Is it an easy album?  I think so, I like the fact it's a little fucked-up and not normal.  Is it for everyone?  Hell no!  But Frank Zappa is not for everyone, The Smashing Pumpkins are not for everyone, some things are not for the great unwashed.  Those who get this will love this, that is all that matters.

9 out of ten - Almost Perfect, almost.....

Top track - Bored Dorian

You can purchase Expires on Tuesday on Amazon here.

You can visit the Vladopus9 website here.

You can follow the activities of Vladopus9 on Facebook here. 

You can stream Expires on Tuesday on Spotify here. 

You can stream Expires on Tuesday on Deezer here. 

You can stream Expires on Tuesday on Tidal here. 

Past sermons

Greatest hits