Band Of Brothers

Review: Band Of Brothers (SE) – Band Of Brothers

Scarilla! (2015)

Reviewer: Peter Scallan

There wasn’t much info included with the album for reviewing, but it is safe to say that as three of the members of the band have the surname Nilsson, they may well be related. Hailing from Sweden the band is a ‘project’ with members of Angleine and Hion Martell, which unfortunately didn’t help me much either. Therefore, let’s dive in and see what unfolds.

Opening with ‘Day Job’, it is a melodic riff-driven rocker. The vocals for me sounded a little strange at first and I struggled a little to get into them and the whole album if I am honest. However, after a few spins they did grow on me and this opener reminds me of Disneyland After Dark (DAD) with guitar riff, vocals and quirky lyrics. Next up is ‘Digital Ghost’ which continues in the same vein as the opener but has a much catchier chorus bolstered with some neat banked backing vocals. The lead vocals sound a little Robin Zanderish which is no bad thing in my book. The feel changes slightly for ‘Turn Back Time’ which is a little more subtle with a more toned-down guitar sound and also has a Cheap Trick feel too it too. The vocals also sound a little different and could possibly be a different vocalist from the first two songs. Again, it has an infectious chorus. ‘Rush’ picks up the pace and returns very much to the same feel as the opening song. Rocking along at a reasonable pace it has an usual chorus and the song sounds classic DAD. The pace changes again for ‘Crystal Ball’ which is a ballad driven carried by acoustic and clean electric guitars before powering into the chorus, which while quite catchy isn’t as strong as those before it. In addition, for me the vocals sound rather uncomfortable during the verses but less so in the chorus and middle eight. Overall, it is quite disappointing and doesn’t quite work for me.

Heading into the back straight and ‘The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of’ opens with a huge melodic guitar riff that wouldn’t be out of place on an Autograph album. This drops into a verse with picking guitar and an electronic drum beat before lifting into a great bridge then an absolutely awesome chorus. For me, this is the stand-out track on the album and is real classic melodic guitar-driven rock. ‘Life in the City’ is next and is for me the weakest song on the album. Right from the opening bars the song just fails to capture you at all and rarely gets out of first gear apart from around the harmony guitars and solo which are reminiscent of Thin Lizzy. A real anti-climax after Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of. However, ‘Days of Independence’ gets the album back on track. This is a slightly clichéd mid-paced rocker that powers along with great melodic guitar and another great chorus. The penultimate track is ‘Bend’ which a big blues-inspired guitar riff which comes down to a neat dampened riff which lifts nicely into the chorus with an almost sliding vocal melody. While the bridge builds nicely, the building vocals could be stronger. It also a reggae style middle eight before picking up for the guitar solo. Last, but by no means least is ‘Home (Airport Blues)’ which closes the album as it started with a DAD sounding melodic rocker.

When I reviewed my notes for the above review, it seemed quite short and to the point. However, that is exactly what you get with the album with the majority of the songs well under four minutes, two of which are less than three minutes. It is direct and gets to the hooks quickly, although admittedly the vocals may be an acquired taste, as these grew on me as the album did. For the first couple of listens, I struggled with vocals and album. Granted, this album won’t make the guys household names, but I like to give any album a fair crack of the whip and persevered with it and found myself singing along with many of the songs. If you like your rock melodic and little tongue-in-cheek, give this a few spins and I sure it will draw you and you too will find yourself singing along.

 

Jared James Nichols - Old Glory And The Wild Revival

Review: Jared James Nichols – Old Glory And The Wild Revival

Listenable Records (2015)

Reviewer: Dan Mann

Well it seems not a week goes by without another scorchin’ hot blues rock album hitting the music racks so to speak.

I’ll stick my neck out and say that blues, blues/rock is becoming almost trendy with more and more artists coming though for recognition by critics and fans alike.

Sticking my neck out even further, I’ll say that Mr. Nichols is by no means an ‘also ran’. Far from it, as you’ll discover, the opening track ‘Playin’ For Keeps‘ (a live version of which closes the album) instantly rewards you with just the right mixture of blues & rock, full of gritty, soaring guitar, solid thumping of the skins and a tight bass line. The guitar break around 3/4 of the way through remind me of Virgil & the Accelerators, excellent stuff.

Second track on the album, ‘Crazy‘, without doubt has in the guitar playing large hints of early ZZ Top, think ‘El Loco’ era but with a touch of nitrous oxide! Things slow down a little with ‘Let You Go‘, a simple, straightforward what I’d call modern blues ballad. ‘Can You Feel It‘ is more the blues end of the album, think Oli Brown / Laurence Jones. The same could be said about ‘Now Or Never‘ It’s a style I’m personally a fan of as it’s brought things up to date without losing the roots of this style of music.

When ‘Haywire‘ first starts it could almost be mistaken initially as a Queen song with a John Deacon style bass line, certainly an enjoyable ‘foot stomper’. ‘All Your Pain‘ is another of what I’d call a ballad. I don’t mean it’s one of those saccharine sweet  songs that ends up on forecourt compilation albums, but a song that meanders in a way that makes you want to just sit back and let the music take you along for the ride. However you are then dragged back onto your feet with ‘Sometimes‘ as the beat speeds back up with more wailing guitars and the solid bass of Erik Sandin & drumming of Dennis Holm. This continues with ‘Blackfoot‘ whose roots are firmly in those wonderful rock and blues rock releases of the 70’s. There’s no mistaking the Southern groove in the intro to ‘Take My Hand‘ with slide guitar and picking.  This track is dripping with those rocking chair on the porch vibes, wonderful stuff. You might as well pour yourself another bourbon as Jared does not move from that chair for ‘Come In My Kitchen

And finally the album rounds off with two live tracks. The afore mentioned live version of ‘Playin’ For Keeps‘ & ‘You Won’t Last‘, which was recorded at the famous/infamous Viper Rooms.

Without a doubt Jared is someone who perfectly captures the current wave of blues rock. Highly recommended.

 

 

The Darkness – Last of Our Kind

Review: The Darkness – Last of Our Kind

Canary Dwarf Limited (June 2015)

Reviewer: Peter Scallan

Ahhh, The Darkness return for Part 2 of Part 2. Their last album Hot Cakes received a mixed reception, although I must declare myself in that respect and say that it grew on me and I absolutely love it! The early video for ‘Barbarian’ indicated a slight shift in sound, being much heavier. However, with the record having been produced by Dan Hawkins, followers of his band Stone Gods may well recognise the heavier sound employed to great effect on that album.

Barbarian is the is the opening salvo on the album opening with a spoken word intro sounding a little like Stanley Unwin (check him out on Youtube for those of you too you too remember, which will be most of you!). It is a heavy duty riff with a razor sharp chugging guitar and riff through the verses before bursting into a Norse-like chorus. The next song varies the usual bastard offspring of Queen and AC/DC and opens like a track from the Cult’s Love album. ‘Open Fire’ is a fast paced rocker which also ferociously rocks along with Justin Hawkins varying his vocal style and using lower, raunchier registers in addition of course to his stratospheric screaming. Anybody playing this ing and it would be a filler, but with these guys doing it is killer. And who else could get away with the line ‘Gimme a hug in a sheepskin rug’? The acoustic opening of ‘Last of Our Kind’ reminds of the Hot Cake album and has another killer chorus with Justin using his vocal range to good effect over a monster chop. ‘Roaring Waters’ brings us full circle back to the being the bastard offspring described above and is glorious for it too. Big guitar riff a la the Young Brothers with a chorus of backing vocals Mr Mercury would be pleased with. The mood is lightened and the pace drops a little for ‘Wheels of the Machine’ which has a great mix of clean, dirty and acoustic guitars and Justin in full falsetto mood for the chorus.

With an opening of 70s style keyboards Yes would be pleased with, ‘Mighty Wings’ bursts into life with some neat twin guitar work before a grating riff Metallica would be pleased with cuts and introduces a Thin Lizzy style guitar riff for the verses. The song breaks down into a half-time beat for the chorus and definitely breaks the Queen-AC/DC comparisons. Having said that it would sit nicely on the Stone Gods album! Great stuff! And then we are treated to classic Darkness humour for ‘Mudslide’ with its spoken opening of ‘This ain’t no double entendre. This ain’t no euphism.’ Almost verging on Spinal Tap, it is another great rocking riff and another great chorus ending with Zeppelin-like acoustic guitar a la Led Zepp III. We are then treated to a solo section that would be more at home on a Deep Purple album. I can’t think of anybody else who would get away with this and the comic voice at the end askg, ‘Do you know what this is? It’s a fuckin mudslide!’ Classic Lizzy-inspired Darkness quickly follows in the form of ‘Sarah O’Sarah’. With its twin guitars and Celtic influenced drums and guitars for the chorus, it’s reminds me a little of Hazel Eyes from One Way Ticket for some reason despite not sounding anything like it! The opening of ‘Hammer and Tongs’ has a Faces feel to it and the use of the bottle neck and the twelve bar chorus only reinforce this. Classic rock’n’roll with a Darkness lyrical twist! The last song of the album comes far too quickly for me and Justin makes uses of the lower huskier style he has discovered on this album for this acoustic rocker. ‘Conquerors’ reminds me of classic 70s Elton John which the chord changes, especially on the instrumental interlude after the chorus. Apart from the massive vocal treatment the chorus gets! And disappointingly the album is finished all too soon come in just over the 40 minute mark.

Many Darkness fans have been raving about the new heavier sound the band has adopted and it really does work. I am not sure about the song writing credits as I have an e-copy but I would hazard a guess that Dan not only produced this album but heavily influenced the songwriting to very positive effect indeed! If you like the Darkness you will love this! And if you love this, do yourself a favour, and if you haven’t already, buy Dan’s non-Darkness effort the Stone Gods album Silver Spoons and Broken Bones because you will love it. Long live the Darkness!

Download 2015

Review: Download 2015

Reviewer: Stephen Brophy

Two days of rain and a muddy field, well that’s nothing new for an Irishman to try and cope with, besides I had been at Download 2012 when the conditions were even worse, so I knew what to expect. A very early morning departure was going to mean a long day of travelling and rocking out to some of Rock’s Royalty. Our particular day started out sunny which was great, but sadly some very long queues going in meant that although we managed to hear most of their set, from a long distance away, we just missed The Dead Daises, actually we got over to the Encore stage in time to see John Corabi and the guys say their goodbyes and leave the stage. What we did hear though sounded really good, and definitely worth checking out if you get the chance.
Strange how things tend to work out time wise just as you expected, we had managed to get up to almost the front barrier in the center  in time for H.E.A.T., who were one of the bands I most looked forward to seeing, always do, they really are a formidable force live these days. The ability to bring a crowd with you on your journey and an unbridled energy, spearheaded by the constantly moving Erik Gronwall makes H.E.A.T. a band that people really do need to start taking notice of. With only twenty five minutes to impress the crowd they waste no time and get right to it in a set that is heavily loaded with tracks from the new album and they nail every one. The bands progression over the last few years for me can be summed up with the tittle track of Tearing Down The Walls, it shows a maturity and maintains the power adding an anthemic pulse that draws the crowd in, must be a great feeling for one a band early on the second stage to have a considerable number of the crowd singing back to them, only “It’s All About Tonight” and the excellent “Living On The Run” retain a slot in this short but very impressive set, and Erik finds the time to get out into the crowd and help finish the set in style, it won’t be long before this band is back at Download and it would be a surprise if it wasn’t in a higher up slot.
Finland’s Von Hertzen Brothers are always like a breath of fresh air, excellent musicians combined with some excellent songwriting makes these guys always worth checking out, and today is no exception. Again it’s not a lot of time for their set but the guys get stuck in straight away, their music evolves with time, yes there is definitely a huge chunk of Prog in what they do, but they are prog, rock, and even a little poppy in places, the new single “Hold Me Up” is undoubtedly one of the highlights of the set, it’s a real cracker of a track with some great energy. The whole sound of the band seems to change depending on whether it’s Mikko or Kie taking lead vocal duties, where Kie leads they take on a more edgy, slightly punky persona, and with Mikko it’s usually the more accessible tracks. As with H.E.A.T. I think VHB will have gained a lot of new fans from their two sets at Download, the tracks from the recently released New Day Rising album really shone, and bizarrely up to now the weather has been great.
Time to push through the mud, which was a bit of a pain in places, and make my way to the Mainstage to catch up with Tremonti, who have just released their second album Cauterize, and although I really like the band there was just something that wasn’t sitting well with me, the playing was as you would expect top notch, Mark is a really good guitarist and the Tremonti Riffs are just piledriving, excellent drumming too, but on this day the band just weren’t connecting with me, new tracks sounded really good and they band sound much heavier live, maybe I just needed some food/drink and I could feel the rain and that didn’t help, so I decided to make my way back over to the Encore Stage a couple of songs from the end of their set, shame as I had been looking forward to catching them, next time will hopefully be a much more positive experience. Tremonti are a really good band so I’m certainly not writing them off on one viewing.
Isn’t it amazing how in a crowd of somewhere approaching 90,000 you always manage to bump into people you know wandering around, and this particular Sunday is no exception, it’s always great to meet friends at Festivals, and it brightens the day.
As the rain began to get heavy again We Are Harlot hit the Encore Stage, and they have definitely got a decent crowd with them right from the start. Fronted by former Asking Alexandria lead vocalist Danny Worsnop, this is a completely different animal to his former band and vocal style, this is a hard rocking quartet that play some pretty classy Hard Rock, modern with definite pointers from the classics of the past. Most of this set is made up of material from the self titled debut, and there are some excellent songs pumping out the the faithful in front of the stage. “Denial”, “The One” and the excellent single “Dancing On Nails” which was superb, throw in a rousing cover of Queen’s “Tie Your Mother Down” and we are rocking and rolling again, keep an eye out for live dates for these guys.
Next up for me on the Main Stage are a band I had the pleasure, and I really do mean pleasure, to see last October, Blackberry Smoke, now their musical style might not have you automatically picture them at Download, but they really are excellent, so smooth, their set has an almost calming nature, and that doesn’t say that they don’t rock. Another superb, if slightly subdued, performance just enhances their standing in the minds of those that know them already but I am 100% certain that they gained a lot of new fans today, I heard people in different places later in the day discussing this band and how they were a great surprise, the Southern Rock/Americana of BBS is a joy partake, taking a look around me there are a lot of smiling faces underneath hoods, hats and umbrellas, and instead of moshing a spot of light dancing has broken out, rolling shoulders, gentle head movement, a testament to a band at the top of their game, treating the crowd to a fine selection of tracks from their last three studio albums and a lovely cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Your Time Is Gonna Come”, it really is no wonder that their last batch of UK shows sold out, they are just an excellent band that sound wonderful.
The rain and the stodgy mud trying to get up the hill on the Tent side of the Arena was starting to get me down a bit, sometimes it’s just involuntary and there’s nothing you can do about it, but having grabbed some food and wandering back down the hill it only took a minute of Billy Idol to set the world to rights again, still has a great presence, a sense of fun and just the right bloody attitude. The set was made up of the usual hits from his extensive back catalogue, some Generation X, and I have to say the stuff from the latest album (last years Kings & Queens Of The Underground) sounded really great live. If for whatever reason you have never managed to catch Mr. Idol live, do yourself a favour and get to one of his shows, honestly he single handedly lifted the mid afternoon lull, and you can’t go wrong with tracks like White Wedding and Rebel Yell in your armoury.
Having been promoted from the Encore Stage in 2013 at this stage most people know what to expect from Slash feat. Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators – a really good time, some old classics, and some great tunes from their own albums, and that’s exactly what we get, at this stage in their career I would personally prefer if they dropped the covers – but that just might not be possible, it’s not like the G’n’R tracks don’t still go down a storm and on top of that you have the fact that they do Velvet Revolver’s “Slither” better than that band did it, well what the hell, certainly after their next release a new setlist would be nice. Hearing “Your A Lie” pounding you ears, “Back From Cali” sooth your soul and I stood in this very field 3 years earlier getting goosebumps when the intro to “Anastasia” started up, guess what it still manages to do the trick for me, the band are a well oiled machine at this stage, lots of touring, a good attitude and only fault is that I’ve seen them a lot recently, and maybe a minor wobble from Myles on the first few bars of “Your A Lie”
Being billed as their Final Tour, Motley Crue hit the Main Stage for their last ever UK Festival performance, having sat through some friends video footage from the previous week at Sweden Rock I have to say I wasn’t really expecting too much, and was all set to move to one of the Tents if it all went haywire. But I was very pleasantly surprised that the band were sounding much better, all the Crue standards were here from “Wild Side” through “Dr. Feelgood”, “Shout At The Devil” and “Girls, Girls, Girls”, although for me Vince was never the best Singer in the world, and the last few years have certainly not been kind to his voice, but they still put on a really entertaining show, if this is the last time a lot of people are to see Crue then the memory we were left with was pretty good, nice pyro added into the mix, for me they really shouldn’t have come back out for an encore as “Home Sweet Home” got savaged, still as a friend reminded me not to let one track detract from what had been a really good set, I won’t – Rock On Crue.
For me there really was only going to be one band today, the first band I got into as a kid, they shaped a lot of things for me growing up, to get to see them headline the stage in Donington was always going to be a bit special, it’s not like I’ve never seen them before, or that I haven’t seen them play Festivals before – but something was building in the air, I had that spine tingle about what was about to unfold, this was going to be a massive show, this was KISS. Of course I’m not blinded by being a massive fan, I know the shortcomings, just like Vince Neil, Paul’s voice isn’t what it once was, but I think he makes it work a bit better for him, and besides you end up singing most of the songs yourself and watching the spectacle. The costumes, the risers, the screens (which were also on the roof of the stage), the smoke and pyro, the additional mini stage for Paul to zipline to close to the sound/lighting rig, everything was in place tonight and the sound out of the gate was better than anything that had preceded it by many miles. Although KISS have been essentially Touring a Greatest Hits set for a considerable time now, just revolving around a lot of the more popular tracks and throwing in a couple of curveballs every now and then, this set still sounds somewhat heavier to start with than normal, having “Detroit Rock City”. “Deuce”, “Psycho Circus”. “Creatures Of The Night”, “I Love It Loud” and “War Machine” as the opening third today was just WOW, the usual added extras are all here, fire breathing, pyro etc…. and visually it’s all just stunning to see and be a part of, I’m with a large group of strangers that are all singing and laughing and having an absolute blast, and isn’t that what a live show should be all about, Paul flies out over the crowd for “Love Gun” and the crowd as always laps it up, kicking off “Black Diamond” before zipping back to the stage to join the rest of the band. Gene seems to be on fine form tonight too and Tommy and Eric are always spot on with their parts in the show, there’s plenty of moving parts, the drums heading off to space always looks great, and Tommy firing blasts from his guitar work as well as they always did. Download goes disco as we approach the finale for “I Was Made For Lovin’ You” and it feels good, and the ticker tape canons and fireworks bring a great show to a close. The band are often slagged off, still thought of as a joke to many, but if you have brushed them aside in the past for whatever reason just do yourself a favour and get to one of these epic shows, for the visual overload alone it’s so worth the effort.
Thank you Download, after what’s been a very very long Sunday we limp our way back to the buses with joyful hearts, of course the weather could have been nicer, but it can’t dampen the music, a massive massive Festival, which isn’t really my thing, but I always seem to be drawn back by some of the acts on the bill, we will see what next year brings.

Kelly Keeling – Mind Radio

Review: Kelly Keeling – Mind Radio

Frontiers Music (2015)

Reviewer: Aaron Chatfield

I still remember hearing Kelly for the first time back in 1990, when I caught Baton Rouge’s ‘Walks Like A Woman‘ on MTV. Since then Kelly has been continued his musical journey, but never risen to the heights that his skills deserve. A multi-instrumentalist, singer, song-writer, who’s ear for melody is unquestionable.
This Love Our Paradise’ creeps out from the speakers on a wave of keyboards, piano and ohhs and ahs from Kelly, before the drums bring in the full band. It’s instantly catchy, classic 80s style Melodic Rock, with a good mix that keeps all the instruments in their place. The big chorus will remind you of artists like Stan Bush, Survivor, etc. It’s a good start.

Isolated Man’, ‘Sunshine Over Me’ and ‘Still Need You In My Arms’ follow a similar path, before we arrive at ‘Written In Fire’. This is the first of three tracks co-written with Baton Rouge’s Lance Bullen and songwriter extraordinaire, Jack Ponti. Jack Ponti (and his partner in crime, Vic Pepe) have a very recognisable style and it is heard on this track, which will remind you of those Baton Rouge days. Ponti and Bullen also had a hand in ‘Monkey House’ and ‘Who Do You Run To’ on the album. ‘Monkey House’ is a real throw back to the Baton Rouge debut, sounds awfully like ‘Bad Time Coming Down‘ to me!

The rest of the album ‘Take It To The Limit’, ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’, ‘Frozen In Time’, ‘Take Me To The Limit’, ‘No Man’s Land’ and ‘Ride The Storm’ are all good album tracks that don’t deviate from the path laid out from the first track and make this album a pretty easy listen if you want that 80s classic melodic rock sound.

My personal opinion, Mind Radio is a good album, some great sonics and no one can argue that Kelly doesn’t have a great set of pipes on him. I prefer this to his other recent releases, ‘Foundry’ and ‘Red Zone Rider’ and I can see me listening to this on a regular basis. There is enough here to appease those wanting a new Baton Rouge album (which those who saw the band at Firefest will know is very unlikely!), as well as those looking for just a good melodic rock album.

Super Atomic

Review: Kickin’ Valentina – Super Atomic

Highway 9 Records (2015)

Reviewer: Aaron Chatfield

First time I heard the name Kickin Valentina was when they were announced as part of the line up for the Rockerz Go Wild gig that acts as an unofficial pre-cruise party to the infamous Monsters of Rock Cruise, however, I have never really taken the time to listen to their music, so I was looking forward to my first taste.

Super Atomic is a 7 track EP (6 really, as the opener ‘Sermon’ is just a spoken word intro), and is the band’s second release. If you are a fan of loud, dirty & gritty Rawk n f**k n Roll, then this may be your bag. ‘On My Side’ launches itself from the speakers on the back of a driving drums and a chugging guitar riff, before vocalist Joe Edwards makes his presence felt. He’s got the type of pipes that are unique to rock, the right mix of sawdust and motor oil. It’s a great start and if I owned a Dodge Charger, I’d want this to blast when I turned the key!

Wrong Way’ and ‘When You’re Gone’ continue the assault. Straight ahead rockerz that remind me in parts of bands like Junkyard and Little Caesar, with a little Salty Dog and Sea Hags in parts. The music is pretty straight forward, but the songs are well crafted for the genre. The album closes with ‘Fist n Twist’, ‘Some Kind of Atomic Poster Boy’ and ‘Some Kind of Sex’, none of which is going to see KV at the top of the charts, but will keep any beer fueled party going until the morning.

Overall, I like this band, four on the floor, V8, nitro fuelled, rock n roll which will get you playing air guitar and downing your beer in a heartbeat. If you are after lush keyboards, 4 octave vocals and soaring guitar leads, then keep walking, if you are in the mood for a party (preferably outside, by a pool, with burgers and ribs on the BBQ), then you could do far worse!

 

Supernova

Review: Joe Satriani – Shockwave Supernova

Sony Music Cmg (2015)

Reviewer: Dan Mann

 

The sun is shining, the birds are singing and the speakers are most certainly cranked to eleven! This can only mean one thing, a new Joe Satriani album.

Yes Satch is back  with his 15th solo studio album and there is no mistaking who it is from the off.  First in we have the title track ‘Shockwave Supernova‘ which is just pure Satriani. A huge sound-stage and all enveloping, it most certainly gets those speaker cones shifting some air!

What’s great is the differing styles on this album, from ‘Crazy Joe‘ which wouldn’t be out of place on an Ozric Tentacles album, to the wonderful ‘San Francisco Blue‘ which has a nice twist on a traditional blues song. Songs like ‘All My Life‘ are perfect for just chilling out and letting the day’s angst just float away.

The production on this album is fabulous, but it’s no real surprise with long time cohort John Cuniberti once again taking charge. Recorded at none other than Skywalker Sound, which fits in rather nicely with Joe’s love of scifi, it clearly shows how it should be done with all the instruments, be it guitar (obviously) keyboards, bass, drums, clearly heard and not muddied into the mix.

This is obviously an album for existing fans, but it is one that nicely introduces new fans to the wonderful world of Satch!

Do not miss Joe Satriani on tour this November in the UK, with special guest Dan Patlansky. Tickets available here.

ELEFANTE

Review: Bullet Boys – Elefante 

Cleopatra/Rexel (2015)

Reviewer: Phil Schofield

It’s been a six year hiatus since we last heard from the darlings of the LA strip The Bullet Boys.

Back in 88 Warner Brother launched the debut with promise of greater times ahead. However with the imminent “grunge Godzilla” laying just around the corner a lot of those new proclaimed kings of sleaze were simply chewed up & spat out.

In Marq Torien we have a troubadour journeyman with a smoky vocal style and range that should on paper have other bigger artists clambering for his signature.

Elefante is not simply an attempt at 80’s rehash, so says the PR and agreed they have gone for a discernible change of style and direction in parts. But as the saying goes, why try to fix what isn’t broken.

There’s a whole plethora of similar sounding rock albums out in 2015 all fighting hard to capture our ears,  so it’s tough enough to see if this one has stamina for the journey.

Out of the blocks comes opener ‘Rollover’ with a pounding bass line and Slash sounding vibe, nice and appealing to the heavier crossover market.

‘Tsunami’ has a more modern edge and flavour, whilst ‘Symphony’ has been around as the single prior to the album release. Indeed the latter I could see as a chant along for the hardcore BB fans. A slow burner that builds and the catchiest song for me here.

‘The Villain’ & ‘Kin Folk’ are mid paced offerings whilst ‘Saving You from Me’ & ‘As Dumb As’ have an ironic grunge vocal drift into Foo Fighters territory.

Album favourite is ‘Superhuman Girl’, this could easily take us back to those Hollywood sleaze ridden days & Marq shows he still has that rasping bourbon attack.

‘Drop your Weapon’ offers some catchy guitar phasing moving into the territory of an album cover version. Here we find Elton John’s ‘The Bitch Is Back’ which has a new rock cover twist but I do recall being covered also by Lita Ford a while back.

On the whole Elefante will appease those bullet hungry hoards to play this platter again & with upcoming gigs lined up a few well chosen tracks could make the playlist.

They say elephants never forget but boy is my memory is fading?

White Bird/Burn The Sky

Review: Palace Of The King – White Bird/Burn The Sky

Listenable Records (2015)

Reviewer: Dan Mann

I’ll be honest and say I’ve been eagerly awaiting this album after hearing the first single. And am I disappointed? Nope, far from it.

What your presented with is 10 tracks worth of absolutely solid rock with elements of blues, rock ‘n roll and a hint of good old Sixties psychedelia!

From the opening riff of ‘Take Your Medicine‘ I knew I was going to like this, just so up my street taste wise.

The pace does not slacken, as we zip through ‘No Chance In Hell‘ and onto the funk infused ‘Another Thing Coming‘, absolute killer track!

Burn My Bridges‘ has waves of 70’s soaked keyboards, building into an atmospheric, multilayered treat.

And so we reach the two longest tracks on the album at just over six minutes each. I’m rather enjoying bands ‘bringing back’ tracks of shall we say an extended length as it allows the song to grow & breath if that makes any sense? We first have ‘White Bird (Bring Your Armies Against Me)‘ which has a really catchy riff and once again brings that Sixties vibe to the forefront. This is followed by ‘Ain’t Got Nobody To Blame But Myself‘ a slow builder very much in the vein of Rival Sons with a terrific guitar solo which had me reaching for the volume knob and cranking it up!

Leave Me Behind‘ has a great brass/horn inclusion which helps bring this track alive without sounding old fashioned in the slightest. The organ sound at the start of ‘Devil’s Daughter‘ instantly reminds you of the Blues Brothers, and it leads you into a real foot tapper. And my foot does not stop tapping as ‘Get Back Up (Burn The Sky)‘ comes pumping through the speakers. Reminiscent of the Black Crows.

And now unfortunately we reach the final track of the album. Not unfortunately as in ‘If It Ain’t Broke‘ is crap, far from it. It’s just a real shame the album is over as I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it.

To summarize, if your a fan of Rival Sons, Black Crows or just good honest rock with a soul, then this album is for you.

The Troy Redfern Band\Backdoor Hoodoo

Review: The Troy Redfern Band – Backdoor Hoodoo

Blues Boulevard (2015)

Reviewer: Dan Mann

To my eternal shame I wasn’t aware of Troy until I saw him as support to Skinny Molly at the Beaverwood Club.  And mightily impressed I was too.

So when I heard that there was a new album coming out, I had to take a listen to it. What you get with Backdoor Hoodoo is a mix of slide guitar, blues & blues rock. From the first notes of ‘It Stacks‘ you realise that your in for something a bit special. ‘The Other Side‘ has almost a rockabilly feel to it with a frantic pace throughout, then you slow down for ‘Salvation‘ which is one of my favorites on the album, think elements of Clapton’s ‘Rush” soundtrack coupled with Troy’s unique vocal which disguises his roots of the Welsh Borders, rather than the Deep South of the United States.

Once again the pace picks up with ‘Wildfire‘ which gives you a mental picture of someone at the back strumming away at a double bass coupled with some incredibly tight drumming by Alex Bridge. The blues rock element of the album is clearly illustrated in ‘What Goes Around‘. Settling back listening to ‘War Cry‘ you realise that Troy’s guitar playing is so expressive and controlled. Want more slide guitar? Well you’ve certainly got it on the title track. ‘Backdoor Hoodoo‘ is just the sort of dirty blues rock I love. ‘Lamb Of Zion‘ is a very short track at a tad over two minutes long ,but it’s just Troy and his guitar exposed so you can here every pluck of the strings. You could easily imagine him sitting on that porch watching the world go by. Now there’s absolutly nothing wrong with ‘Back Home‘ but for some reason I can’t quite put my finger on it’s not grabbing me as much as the other tracks. Maybe it’s going to be one of those tracks that grows on me til I realise I’ve got it wrong.

I found the mix on ‘Running With Ghosts‘ just a bit cluttered for my tastes, which leads onto the longest track on the album, ‘Survive‘. At just over eight minutes long it has to be something special to keep the listener hooked and hooked you’ll certainly be, with the rhythm section of the previously mentioned Alex Bridge on drums and Stuart McDonald on bass keeping everything so tight and beautifully paced, you can just allow yourself to be enveloped in what is a superb piece of guitar playing which more than puts Troy in the same league as the likes of Bonamassa & Co.

Two tracks left, ‘Cold Day In Hell‘ which has an almost modern feel to it and ‘This Raging Heart‘ which has quite an unusual intro leading into a track which probebly won’t appeal to blues purists. Personally I found it refreshing and enjoyable.

To sum up, Troy Redfern has dragged slide guitar into the 21st century and is bound to appeal to more than just blues aficionados. If you get the chance to catch him live then don’t waste it.