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1958 Dark Blue

Nineteen Fifty Eight

Dark Blue

Transcend Music
By

Rating: 4/5

 
 

 

 

Nineteen Fifty Eight have been steadily building a loyal following since they formed back in 2013, both through their live shows and their two self released EP’s, 2013’s Rapture and 2015’s When Will I Get To You. Although they remain fiercely loyal to the South Wales music scene that spawned them, the Swansea based alternative rock band will hopefully be looking to move beyond the confines of their local scene, as they have released their impressive new EP, Dark Blue, today, the 19th May 2017, via Transcend Music.

The title track starts with a laid back alt rock feel before it eases into dark bass led power pop, this is a style that is revisted on the penultimate track, God Forbid. The atmospheric and powerful track, Under My Skin, weaves a hypnotic spell whereas Optimistic brings their darker side to the fore, the fuzz and pace are both upped, and when this is married to an addictive guitar riff you have a winning combination. Temporary Feelings almost brings Dark Blue to a dead stop before it builds to an anthemic finale, and the EP ends in memorable fashion with the rocky closer Watch Me Burn.

Dark Blue should appeal to fans of bands such as The Duke Spirit, Brand New and Editors, both the past and present of this kind of melodic alt rock are absorbed to create an impressive EP, one that it must be said has a distinctly radio friendly quality about it, but it’s all done without any apparent sacrifices being made to achieve this. Dark Blue is an EP that embraces influences from the world’s of indie and rock to create an anthemic and impressive six track EP that should see them reaching a wider audience.

The Dark Blue EP can be purchased on CD here and downloaded via iTunes here

Nineteen Fifty Eight‘s website can be found here

The Black Bullets Release Video For ‘Mockingbird’

black bullets mockingbirdThe Black Bullets, described as “no holds barred, uncompromising, larger than life, hydrogen toxic gypsy punk n rollers”, are five bastard children from hell, locked together to produce the filthiest rock ‘n roll to penetrate human ears. In a world festooned with glossed up half baked celebrities and pretenders The Black Bullets are the real deal, the band have now released a new single, Mockingbird, ahead of the band bringing their party to Europe.

The Black Bullets Facebook page can be found here

You can view the video for Mockingbird below Read More…

pulled-apart-by-horses-17-tour

Pulled Apart By Horses / Tigercub

Sound Control, Manchester, UK

6th April 2017
By

Rating: 4.5/5

 
 

 

 

Pulled Apart By Horses Sound Control Tigercub 1Welcome to musical menagerie that sees Pulled Apart By Horses and Tigercub visit Manchester’s Sound Control, as is the increasingly common and very annoying policy of many venues, the bands start ridiculously early, especially for those of us who reside in the suburbs, to make way for a club night, so we’ve missed Thee MVPs by the time we finally get into the venue. This is annoying as I always try to catch every band and was looking forward to seeing them, hopefully I’ll catch them on their next visit to the city. On the plus side at least we arrived in time for Tigercub, as with the last gig I attended at Sound Control bass heavy hip hop precedes the arrival of the bands.

Pulled Apart By Horses Sound Control Tigercub 2Tigercub make an unassuming entrance and launch into a haunting introduction, before their bass heavy aural assault laced with reverb drenched guitar hooks kicks in. Tigercub are underpinned by a remorseless rhythm section that is complimented with some twisted guitar riffs, all of which is overlaid with a vocal drawl that is delivered with a laid back style that belies the energy of their material. Tigercub straddle genres, they possess the bass heavy drive of grunge that is mixed with indie, punk and garage, and a dash of pretty much everything else is thrown into the mix, to create a cocktail that’s hard to describe, but if you think of a J. Mascis fronted Nirvana channelling early Muse and you’re about half way there.

Pulled Apart By Horses Sound Control Tigercub 3Tigercub deliver a grinding heavy mix of alternative styles that defies categorisation, even when you think you’ve got a handle on them another card is dealt from the bottom of the pack to keep you off balance. I had no idea what to expect from a band called Tigercub, but it wasn’t the heady pounding mix that is delivered by this Brighton Trio, what I do know is that they have a captivating and original sound that I hope to experience again. What was a sparsely populated Sound Control at the start of the night has filled up nicely during the course of Tigercub‘s support slot, ready for Pulled Apart By Horses headlining set in support of the excellent new album, The Haze, that was released last month via Caroline International

Pulled Apart By Horses Sound Control 1After a lengthy set up and an eclectic, to say the least, DJ set, Pulled Apart By Horses take to the stage to an absolutely packed Sound Control, from the first number they kick straight into overdrive with their high octane garage infused rock, and its clear from the off that they already have an established, and very vocal fan base, in Manchester. As the second song kicks in an enthusiastic and sweaty mosh pit has already formed and as good as I thought the The Haze album was, what has becomes immediately clear is that Pulled Apart By Horses are a band whose natural home is on stage, as the energy levels have already been raised to critical levels.

Pulled Apart By Horses Sound Control 3Pulled Apart By Horses set encompasses their four albums, throughout they maintain their high energy levels for a set of genre spanning rock that really has to be experienced live, their onstage intensity is matched by the crowds reaction, one that is as enthusiastic as I’ve seen at a midweek gig in Manchester. The set played tonight is one that’s as relentless as I’ve heard, there is no slow number to pause for breath or to slip to the bar, every song they deliver is as good as the last, and if you want to see the spirit of rock ‘n roll embodied in a band then go and see Pulled Apart By Horses, as their brand of garage fuelled rock ‘n roll is as good as anyone I’ve seen, thankfully there are no metal or rock clichés or excesses as this is stripped down rock ‘n roll at its finest.

Pulled Apart By Horses Sound Control 2My previous exposure to Pulled Apart By Horses was reviewing The Haze and I thought that was a damn fine album, but as good as that album was live they are a totally different prospect, and as energetic as the band were it must be said that just as much credit must go the audience who have given it everything tonight, from circle pits and demented mosh pits to a steady wave of crowdsurfing throughout the set. Pulled Apart By Horses would seem to be an odd choice of name, but after seeing them live it’s one that makes perfect sense, after seeing the commitment of the crowd and the band tonight I can only imagine that’s exactly what they feel like after a show like this.

Pulled Apart By Horses Sound Control 4Pulled Apart By Horses include an intense cover of The Beatles classic Helter-Skelter in the set, that is delivered with the spirit of the original, and its a compliment to them to say that this is easily the best cover I’ve heard of this classic number, and believe me I’ve heard a few. It was impressive that the pit was that frantic and frenzied as I’ve seen in a while, as an added bonus it kept people filming the show to an minimum, and I can’t think of a better way of keeping this annoying trend out of live shows. The night ended with the vocalist and guitarist Tom Hudson surfing across the crowd, it seems that the last hour has flown by in a loud, sweaty, energetic blur and if tonight wasn’t rock ‘n roll then I don’t know what is.

Pulled Apart By Horses Sound Control 5Pulled Apart By Horses website is here

The Punk Site Review of The Haze can be read here

Tigercub‘s web presence can be found here

Thee MVPs Facebook page is here and their Bandcamp is here

Photography is by Dean Unsworth, his Instagram account is located here,

You can click on any of Dean’s photos to view a slide show of the images

Leave Earth APD

Leav/e/arth

A Perfect Disarray

InVogue Records
By

Rating: 3/5

 
 

 

 

Leav/e/arth deliver the kind of melodramatic polished alt rock that is destined to end up on regular rotation on the playlist of rock stations, they possess enough of an edge to court the alternative crowd whilst possessing the kind of sweeping choruses that have led many bands before them to filling enormous concert halls. The Ohio based quintet released their debut full length album, A Perfect Disarray, on April 7th 2017 and the album can now be ordered via the InVogue Records web store on CD and digital formats. 

Leav/e/arth deliver a very slick version of alt rock, one that definitely leans more to the rock side rather than the alternative influences, what’s immediately clear is that this album boasts a stunning vocal delivery from singer Leah Stenger, this is backed up by an accomplished quartet that provide a slick and driving rock soundtrack that accompanies the powerful vocal delivery perfectly.  A Perfect Disarray an album of anthemic alt rock that that sounds as though it’s designed to be played to a delirious horde of fans in an arena setting, the twelve tracks contained on the album, along with the bonus piano version of the single The Other Side, all dwell firmly at the more mainstream rock end of the alt rock spectrum

If you are a fan of the likes of Evanescence or Mohawk Radio then Leav/e/arth are a band that really should be on your radar, I hear albums occasionally that make you think that this is a band that is destined for bigger things, and whilst Leav/e/arth aren’t exactly my cup of tea this is such an album. Everything about A Perfect Disarray, from the stunning production on the album, the anthemic soaring choruses and the slick driving melodies leaves me thinking that we’ll be hearing a lot more from Leav/e/arth in the coming years.

A Perfect Disarray can be pre-ordered digitally and on CD via InVogue Records here

Leav/e/arth‘s Facebook page can be found here and their website is here

Freeze The Atlantic TPAR

Freeze The Atlantic

The People Are Revolting

Alcopop! Records
By

Rating: 3.5/5

 
 

 

 

UK alt-rock band Freeze The Atlantic are releasing their third album, The People Are Revolting, tomorrow, the 14th April 2017, via Alcopop! Records. The album follows on from their 2014 sophomore album, this time around the album was recorded in a hectic week in a studio with the aim of capturing their live sound for the new album. The People Are Revolting is an album that indicates that Freeze The Atlantic have a growing social conscience, something that’s unsurprising given the times we live in, and the album touches on political and social issues across it’s eleven tracks.

The album opens with the instrumental El Nitro, this gentle introduction eases you into the album before Annotate My Fate kicks in giving you the first taste of their full blooded alt rock. The title track of the album follows on with fuzzy driven riff before slows things down with rocky Altogether Not Together, with the album’s finest moment coming in the form of Gunnar Hansen, a track the channels Queens Of The Stone Age‘s glory years. The album carries on in this vein, veering between a rock sensibility and the darker underlying alt-rock tones, never seeming to quite know which side of the fence they land on.

If there is a problem with Freeze The Atlantic it’s that they don’t seem to be sure where their loyalties lie, the album veers between a darker alt rock sound and some straight up rock, they are equally proficient at both but you can’t help getting the feeling that there are at least two distinct songwriters within the band, as the difference between the styles is as clear as night and day. Singer Liv Puente delivers as good a vocal performance as you’ll hear on an album of this type, and The People Are Revolting is a flawlessly produced and slick album that walks the line that divides the co-existing worlds of rock and alternative.

Freeze The Atlantic‘s website can be found here and the Alcopop! Records site is here

Pulled Apart By Horses The Haze

Pulled Apart By Horses

The Haze

Caroline International
By

Rating: 4/5

 
 

 

 

The members of Pulled Apart By Horses decamped for ten days from their lock up rehearsal facility in their native Leeds to a remote cottage on a dairy farm in the Welsh countryside, far away from the distractions of modern life they could fully focus on writing and recording the new material that would eventually become The Haze. Pulled Apart By Horses released their new album, The Haze, yesterday, March 17th 2017, via Caroline International, the result of their self imposed exile is twelve tracks of whip smart, unpredictable, fierce and sussed hardcore noise rock.

The title track kicks off the album like The Hives on steroids, this impressive introduction is followed by the lead single from the album, The Big What If, that is a hefty slab of snotty rock that boasts a driving hook laden riff, and the album carries on in this vein, picking the best elements from past decades and haphazardly combining them into a contemporary hybrid of styles. The result is an album that is informed, but in no way recreating, the past, whether it’s the garage swagger of Hotel Motivation, the tortured rock of Prince Of Meats or the psychedelic grind of Lamping, The Haze is an album that delivers just shy of forty genre spanning minutes that passes by in a energetic blur.

The Haze is the spiritual heir of band such as Crazyhead and Claytown Troupe who pioneered this kind of garage infused rock back at the tail end of the eighties, but Pulled Apart By Horses are no flashback to a bygone era. The Haze is a swaggering collection of twisted riffs that defies being pigeonholed, and I can’t help thinking that if the energy that is captured on The Haze is transferred to a live setting, then their upcoming tour is going to be something to behold. It’s been three long years since Pulled Apart By Horses last studio album, 2014’s Blood, and for me The Haze is living proof that some things are definitely worth waiting for.

You can catch Pulled Apart By Horses live across the UK and Europe in March and April, the tour dates can be found here

The Haze can be ordered here

brutus-burst

Brutus

Burst

Hassle Records
By

Rating: 4/5

 
 

 

 

Hailing from Leuven, Belgium, Brutus create a pummelling, meteor-shower of sound, they mix intense black metal blast beats and math-rock flourishes with brash post rock tones and hardcore punk intensity, to make make a sound as monolithic and frantic as it is emotive and unique. Stefanie Mannaerts delivers both the beats and the vocals, a delivery that to me seems reminiscent of Penetration‘s Pauline Murray, alongside guitarist Stijn Vanhoegaerden‘s ethereal treble laced style and Peter Mulders’ powerful sub-frequency bass lines. Burst was released yesterday, the 24th February, and is now available via digital platforms, and on physical formats via Hassle Records.

Frantic opener March means that Burst hits the ground with pounding drums and a driving technical riff that’s juxtaposed against a soaring female vocal, this segues into All Alone that delivers more of the same, intricate riffs played at breakneck pace that are overlaid with an emotive female vocal, one that carries melody and sweetness one second and abruptly switches to a vocal straining rasp the next. This style occupies much of the album but there are tracks that deviate from their genre spanning hybrid, Drive stands out on the album, with it’s revved up post punk style and echo drenched guitars, a track that hints at an influence from the likes of The Chameleons, whilst the atmospheric Bird brings a more reflective downbeat element to the mix.

Brutus‘s sound spans everything from rock and punk through to math rock and hardcore, this kind of marriage is a hard trick to pull off, yet Brutus have managed it without breaking sweat. There are constant changes in the timing and pace, often during a single track, if this had been a straight up full tilt assault it would have become a repetitive technical exercise, but the creativity and unpredictability contained on this album mean that Brutus have delivered something unique on their debut release. The intensity of hardcore is married to the technical elements of math rock and the attitude and delivery of post hardcore to create a deceptively subtle and melodic debut release, one that simultaneously manages to be brash and heavy, making Burst an impressive and original debut

You can order Burst from iTunes here or from the band’s official store here

mohawk radio deaf institute feb 17

Mohawk Radio 'Shoot From The Hip' EP Launch

The Deaf Institute, Manchester, UK

February 10th 2017
By

Rating: 4.5/5

 
 

 

 

Tonight The Deaf Institute is hosting is the launch for Mohawk Radio‘s latest EP, Shoot From The Hip, the band have toured relentlessly and built up an impressive following, this has resulted in tonight’s show being completely sold out, an even more impressive feat when you consider that Mohawk Radio have done everything on their own terms. The crowd for tonight’s sold out show is certainly an eclectic one, boasting an intriguing mix of everything from indie kids to old rockers, this diversity is reflected in the quartet of bands that are on display tonight, a line up that makes tonight as much a showcase for the thriving musical environment in the North West of the UK as it is an event to celebrate the release of Mohawk Radio‘s latest EP.

Mohawk Radio DI Katie MacTonight’s journey to catch Mohawk Radio at the Deaf Institute didn’t start well, gridlock near the venue means that I’m running late, when we finally reach the venue the combination of new Converse and a wet pavement leads to further drama, but ripped jeans are in fashion and a few more scars aren’t going to make much difference at my age. I dust myself down and finally limp into the venue to catch the tail end of the opening set by Katie Mac. From the brief snatch I manage to catch it’s clear she possess a soulful voice, one that is backed up by a quartet that channels the more introspective side of indie. As their final number builds to an impressive crescendo I find myself wishing we’d managed to get here earlier .

Mohawk Radio DI Ideal ForgeryIdeal Forgery are next on the bill, they have an eclectic line up that includes violin and cello alongside the usual suspects of guitar and drums, after a mournful start they kick into some spirited indie rock that embraces the more melodic side of the folk punk scene, along with a hint of emo. For me the violin and cello brought an orchestral dimension to their sound, and it’s this that really separates them from the pack, Ideal Forgery are yet another local discovery that I can’t help but feel will be headed for bigger things, as there is no one else that sounds quite like them. The other factor that struck me about them is that their vocalist, Zak Heaney, peppers the gaps between songs with the word fuck as much as anyone I’ve ever seen. 

Mohawk Radio DI Jess KempJess Kemp is tonight’s final support, she delivers accomplished indie fuelled power pop that is mixed with a dash of rock, as their cover of Fleetwood Mac is testimony to, but don’t let that put you off, she twists the old rock classic to her own purposes to give it a fresh lease of life. There is something about Jess Kemp that for some reason reminds me of the energy of bands such as The Muffs and Against Me!, albeit on one of their quieter days. Maybe this is beacuse Jess Kemp possesses a vocal delivery that contains the kind of emotive melodic growl that few possess and for me her set is further evidence of the North Wests healthy and burgeoning DIY scene.

Mohawk Radio DI 1The Deaf Institute is packed to capacity for tonight’s Mohawk Radio show, this is even more impressive when you consider this is a totally DIY affair, artists with a label backing frequently play this venue to smaller crowds, and its to their credit that they’ve achieved this on their own terms. Three quarters of Mohawk Radio take to the stage and kick things off before vocalist Mia Page joins them onstage and their set starts in earnest. Mohawk Radio deliver the kind of hard edged alt rock that, as good as they are on record, really is at it best when experienced live. Mohawk Radio channel the best of rock, and they are a rock band at their heart, but they channel this with a harder edged sensibility more akin to alt rock and grunge that gives them the kind of cross genre appeal that most bands would kill for.

Mohawk Radio DI 2Mia Page has a striking vocal delivery, when you couple this with a razor sharp band you inevitably have a winning formula. On Your Knees, the lead track from their latest EP, sounds even better live, Mia Page works the stage like she’s playing to an arena crowd, whilst the band provide a rock solid backing. Their set varies between their upbeat heavier numbers and the softer side of their material, whilst the studio versions of these tracks didn’t appeal to me as much, live they are transformed into crowd pleasing foot stompers. The whole set is delivered with a joyful zeal, and there’s something about this band that makes you feel they are destined for bigger venues and crowds.

Mohawk Radio DI 3Mohawk Radio were incredible tonight, the level of showmanship on display is normally reserved for bigger venues and established acts, as a result their impressive set passed by in a blur. I’ll be honest, as much as I liked the Shoot From The Hip EP I wasn’t expecting to enjoy tonight as much as I did, the unrestrained hedonism of their rock influences, combined with their alternative roots, makes for an irresistible combination, and I feel privileged to have caught Mohawk Radio at this sold out intimate show. It’s not often you see a band with this kind of stage presence in a venue of this size, and on the basis of tonight’s show I’d recommend that you to tune into Mohawk Radio as soon as you get the chance.

Mohawk Radio DI 4Katie Mac‘s Facebook page is here

Ideal Forgery‘s Facebook page can be found here and their website is located here 

Jess Kemp‘s Facebook page is located here

The Punk Site review of Mohawk Radio‘s Shoot From The Hip EP is here

Mohawk Radio‘s website, where you can order the Shoot From The Hip EP, is located here

Photography is by Dean Unsworth, his Instagram account is located here,

You can click on any of Dean’s photos to view a slide show of the images

Mohwak Radio Shoot From The Hip

Mohawk Radio

Shoot From The Hip

Self Released
By

Rating: 3.5/5

 
 

 

 

Manchester UK’s Mohawk Radio have spent the last four years developing an impressive following, they’ve built up from cult status and have steadily grown their fanbase, as a result they have now played sell out shows across their native Manchester, and far beyond, including concerts in New Orleans, Los Angeles and Bermuda. Now Mohawk Radio have announced that they will be releasing the Shoot From The Hip EP on the 9th February, this release follows on from the acclaimed debut, 2014’s Halfway To Heaven EP. You can order Shoot From The Hip direct from the band, and there are also early bird CD and ticket packages available for their upcoming tour dates.

The Shoot From The Hip EP kicks off with the anthemic On Your Knees, this is an rousing slice of alt rock featuring some accomplished soaring vocals, that are backed up by the kind of hook laden guitar riff that demonstrates why they deserve such a loyal following. Eyes Wide Shut takes things in a slightly more ominous direction, before Shoot From The Hip takes the pace down with mellower duo of tracks, Ready To Love and Even, that almost hark back to the days of the power ballad, almost, before Deserve closes out the EP, this is an accomplished rocker that acts a an appropriate finale. Whilst I prefer the opening heavier duo of tracks, this is a seriously accomplished alt rock release from a band that are still doing everything on their own terms

This is alt rock, but it’s a strand that that is heavily infused with the hedonism of straight up rock, but whilst it embraces the spirit of that genre, they steer clear of the worst excesses and overblown histrionics that creep into many rock bands recordings. They channel the alt side of rock to create an EP that, if there’s any justice, should tip Mohawk Radio over the edge into mainstream success. This is a polished five track EP of rock and alt rock that has retained enough of an edge to appeal to their fanbase, whilst at the same time possessing enough mainstream appeal to push them onto greater success, not an easy balancing act to pull off, but one Mohawk Radio have managed with ease

Mohawk Radio‘s website, where you can order the Shoot From The Hip EP, is located here

mark-porkchop-holder-lis

Mark Porkchop Holder

Let It Slide

Alive Naturalsound Records
By

Rating: 3.5/5

 
 

 

 

Guitarist, singer, harmonica player and songwriter Mark Porkchop Holder is a founding member of the seminal Tennessee punk rock blues band The Black Diamond Heavies, now he is stepping out on his own and will be releasing his debut solo album, Let It Slide, on the 10th February on all formats via Alive Naturalsound Records. Mark Porchop Holder delivers a heady dose of traditional blues that is refracted though a lens of garage and rock influences, that is delivered with a punk sneer. Let It Slide forms part of the worldwide resurgence of blues music, this movement is one that acknowledges it’s roots, but drags blues kicking and screaming into the modern age.

Let It Slide kicks off with the title track, this brief excerpt of traditional slide guitar fades into Disappearing, an upbeat blues rocker that opens the album in fine style, My Black Name ups the pace and brings a fuzzy mix of swamp rock, slide guitar and garage to Let It Slide. From here on in it’s a road trip through a blues hinterland, Headlights is a tale of late night empty roads under big skies that eases into the more traditional blues of 38, a track that indicates that Mark Porkchop Holder has 61 less problems than Jay Z. The title track reprises with some down and dirty primitive roadhouse blues and Stagger Lee takes the album into a darker more distorted place whilst Stranger leads you out into the desert with a discordant country twang. Let It Slide ends with a rip roaring reworking of Baby Please Don’t Go, a version that differs from the traditional and rock reworkings by boasting a fuzzier heavier vibe than any other version that I’ve heard of this blues standard.

Let It Slide reminds me of The Rolling Stones in places, but back in the mists of time when they were in their blues inspired prime, there are also elements of the pub rock scene that was a precursor to punk, alongside some impressive slabs of blues that veer towards the traditional. This is a blues album at it’s core, but it’s one that incorporates contemporary influences to make this an impressive solo release, if you have any love for the modern grass roots blues acts such as Bones Shake and The Glass Phantoms, or the better known works that have resulted from Jon Spencer and Jack White‘s numerous outings, then Let It Slide is an album that you need in your life.

Let It Slide can be pre-ordered on limited edition vinyl, CD and digital formats here

galactic empire

Galactic Empire

Galactic Empire

Rise Records / Velocity Records
By

Rating: 4/5

 
 

 

 

Galactic Empire claim to be the galaxy’s foremost Star Wars cosplay band, and given that I can’t think of another one I’m not going to doubt their claim, they are a five piece band comprised of Boba Sett, Bass Commander, Dark Vader, Shadow Ranger and Red Guard, which indicates that the Star Wars franchise still has the copyright on character names pretty tightly sewn up. This self titled debut album features impressively bombastic metal and rock interpretations of the John Williams compositions from the original Star Wars movies, now in a fresh offensive against the rebel alliance Galactic Empire have released their self titled debut album, with the help of First Order collaborators Velocity Records and Rise Records.

This is not the kind of album The Punk Site would normally cover, it is an unashamedly heavyweight rock album, but as almost everyone loves Star Wars, if you ignore the prequels, and this is such a ridiculous concept, that it’s hard not to fall under it’s spell to some degree, or maybe that’s Dark Vader‘s influence, it’s hard to tell. If you have any love for the Star Wars franchise, and the recent success of Force Awakens and Rogue One indicates I’m not alone on this, then there’s a good chance you’ll find yourself air drumming along to this. My personal highlights from Galactic Empire are the dramatic The Force Theme and the iconic Cantina Band, but the whole album captures the essence of the original compositions, without descending into parody.

You can’t help thinking that when they’re not trying to crush the rebel scum the members of Galactic Empire are either in other bands, or are talented session musicians, as this is a perfectly pitched tribute to some of the most popular movies of all time. You could argue that this is something of a novelty record, but as I don’t want Dark Vader to find my lack of faith disturbing I’ll just say that this is a damn fine rock album. The compositions are so well done that you can’t help having the movie scenes playing out in your head whilst your listening to it, and whatever your opinion of Galactic Empire‘s debut it’s certainly a more productive use of their time than building another fundamentally flawed Death Star that inevitably ends up exploding.

Galactic Empire is available via Rise Records digitally and on vinyl, on Orange Splatter and Black variants, here

late-night-flights-jousthouse

Late Night Flights

Jousthouse

Self Released
By

Rating: 3/5

 
 

 

 

Minneapolis rockers Late Night Fights are a trio featuring Ryan ‘Guanz’ Guanzon, guitar and vocals, Shane ‘Train’ Peckham, bass, and Daniel ‘Sledgehammer’ Johnson, obviously the drummer, who self released their debut album, JoustHouse, earlier this month. This is a band that unashamedly draws heavily on it’s influences, these range from grunge and alternative to alt rock and post hardcore, which if nothing else guarantees that this will be a discordant and distorted debut. Jousthouse, delivers angst and melody that is more than a touch reminiscent of the Seattle grunge era, but it is delivered with a contemporary feel that keeps Late Night Flights from sounding like a complete anachronism.

Jousthouse kicks straight in with Nothing To Lose, this is a Queens Of The Stone Age influenced slice of alt rock that delivers a serious punch, it follows this up with three more heavy duty slabs of grunge infused guitar heavy rock, it’s not until you get to The Only One that they start to move away from the past, and stamp their own identity onto the album. The Only One heralded a change of direction, and after this the album moves into a somewhat a more melodic frame of mind with Ode To Owed, which acts a breakwater before the full tilt alt rock kicks back in for one last time with Break The Chains. This track signified the last rallying call as the album eases into a mellower, at least by Late Night Flights standards, end to the album that demonstrates they are by no means a one trick pony with a distortion pedal.

Jousthouse is an album that owes a hefty debt to nineties alt rock, it’s distorted riffs and gruff vocals vary across the album from the fist pumping and anthemic, to the dark and disaffected, at times the album veers so heavily into the territory of what came before it that it almost takes you back two decades. This is clearly an album that wears it’s influences on it’s sleeves, so much so that it verges on becoming somewhat derivative of the bands that inspired them, in particular Queens Of The Stone Age’s influence isn’t so much worn on the sleeve as tattooed into a sleeve. They manage to stay a step away from being a band that’s living in the past, but being only a step removed does mean that Late Night Flights stands in the shadow of grunge and alt rock, but if that’s an era that you treasure, then you may just have found your new favourite band.

Jousthouse can be pre-ordered via iTunes here and Amazon here

korean-fire-drill-mbtha

Korean Fire Drill

More Badass Than Half Ass

Self Released
By

Rating: 1.5/5

 
 

 

 

This is Korean Fire Drill‘s sophomore album, More Badass Than Half Ass follows on from their debut release, Halfass Is Badass, just from the album titles it would seem that this is a band that appears to have found a formula that works for them, and it’s one that they’re going to stick with. More Badass Than Half Ass is at first glance a hefty twenty six song album, however once you’ve whittled down the numerous skits that populate almost half of this release, what you have is fourteen tracks, four of which are covers or remakes, of hard edged rock and alt rock that doesn’t take itself too seriously.

More Badass Than Half Ass opens with a rocky ode to Kanye West and before long you hit a patch of covers, ranging from straight up rock, Heart‘s Barracuda, through rocked up hip hop and a band that were obviously an inspiration to Korean Fire Drill, The Bloodhound Gang. This is an album that varies between straight up rock and alt rock, as technically proficient as Korean Fire Drill are the album feels unadventurous, I can’t help feeling that live, and with a fair few beers inside you, these would be a great party band, but that party vibe just doesn’t seem to transfer onto a studio recording.

With a band that’s intentionally playing things for laughs it’s hard for the joke not to start wearing a bit thin, and I found this was the case with More Badass Than Half Ass. The intermittent skits become an irritation after your first listen and will inevitably be deleted or skipped, there are covers and remakes from the likes of Gorillaz, Dr Dre, and The Bloodhound Gang but these seem to be fairly straight forward versions, just with guitars replacing the original instruments of the songs in question. In short this is a fairly uninspiring rock album that’s covering ground that was well covered by others in the mists of time, if you’re a fan of Faith No More, Alien Ant Farm or Ugly Kid Joe, and are stuck in a time warp, then you’ll probably enjoy this, for me it’s more half ass than badass.

Korean Fire Drill‘s Facebook page can be found here

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The 99 Degree / Crimsons / La Mode / Sam Craighan

Fallow Café, Manchester, UK

2nd December 2016
By

Rating: 4.5/5

 
 

 

 

99-degree-fallow-cafe-dec-1The Fallow Café lies to the South of Manchester, nestled inconspicuously amongst terraced housing, it has a bar and restaurant downstairs, but upstairs lies an intimate venue that is the perfect setting for tonight’s triumphant headline show by The 99 Degree. In addition to the four band bill there is a DJ set by Wet Dreams, both in between bands and then on into the early hours, that captures the mood of the evening perfectly, the playlist covers everything from sixties garage pioneers such as The Sonics through alternative and indie as well as a few punk classics thrown in for good measure, marking what is easily the best DJ set I’ve encountered at a concert this year.

sam-craighan-fallow-cafe-dec-16-1Due to some of the worst traffic I’ve encountered in a long time we arrive late for the show, by the time we get into the Fallow Cafe Sam Craighan is already approaching the end of his set, but the three numbers I do manage to catch hint at a melodic indie sensibility that carries the spirit of the likes of The Libertines. They alternate between keyboard and guitar led numbers, that can carry the spirit and bounce of Britpop, or convey a more melancholy tone. Despite only catching three songs of his set Sam Craighan marked a promising beginning to an evening that showcases some of finest talent that originates from the fuzzy side of this town.

la-mode-fallow-cafe-dec16-1After some more fine tunes from the Wet Dreams DJ La Mode take the stage, I had no previous knowledge of them and their name didn’t suggest what I could expect. They boast a striking vocalist and what appears to be a modern day Viking on bass, rounding out the line up are two more subdued, but no less talented, members that complete the quartet. What is immediately apparent is that vocalist Millie Sproston has a stunning voice that is backed up by a soundtrack that’s informed by the proto punk and rock bands of the late sixties and early seventies, but crucially with a contemporary feel that stops them from being an anachronism in any way shape or form.

la-mode-fallow-cafe-dec16-2I’m finding that the deeper I delve in Manchester’s underground scene the more I realise there are some incredible bands out there, and La Mode can be added to their number. They skilfully straddle the line between rock, alternative and indie, and importantly they do it in style. Their material defies categorisation, there’s even a brief ska element incorporated into the breakdown one of their numbers. My first encounter of La Mode has made a lasting impression on me, whilst they carry a heavy undercurrent of seventies rock influence it is one that is shorn of self indulgence and excess. La Mode delivered a brief hard edged melodic set that for me makes them another band to watch in 2017.

crimsons-fallow-cafe-dec-16-1By the time Crimsons take the stage the Fallow Café is packed to capacity, the temperature is rising and it’s standing room only, and the trio that make up Crimsons bring another dimension to the impressive bill that’s on offer tonight. Crimsons play an echo drenched psyche influenced and lysergic tinged element to the proceedings. They simultaneously channel the best of the psychedelic and garage bands, but they combine this with contemporary influences, in particular elements of Manchester’s post punk era are present in the treble laced guitar style that permeates their set, and this makes for a heady combination that, like La Mode before them, is hard to resist.

crimsons-fallow-cafe-dec-16-2The Crimsons build on the impressive opening by the first two bands, the contrast between each of the bands that has appeared tonight’s show is marked, but rather than this being jarring the differing styles compliment each other. The heady psyche the Crimsons play seems to contain a significant influence from Manchester legends The Chameleons, especially in their guitar sound, but there the comparison ends, the Crimsons have their own distinct sound that meld influences that span the last five generations. They bring a welcome slice of paisley inspired treble laced driving psyche that brings another heady element to the mix prior to tonight’s headliners, The 99 Degree, taking the stage.

99-degree-fallow-cafe-dec-2During each of the three bands that played before them Joe Sartini, the vocalist of The 99 Degree, has been down the front doing his own unique shambling dance moves and yelling encouragement at the bands, it’s this kind of camaraderie amongst the bands that typifies the good natured atmosphere that has been present throughout tonight’s show, now it’s his turn to take to the stage. I’ve caught The 99 Degree twice so far this year, supporting Kid Congo And The Pink Monkeybirds and as a part of a Psychetropic showcase, but tonight they are taking the headlining spot and the support acts, the venue and the crowd have all built up the atmosphere perfectly for The 99 Degree to launch themselves towards 2017.

99-degree-fallow-cafe-dec-3The 99 Degree have bought their deranged mix of rock ‘n roll and garage, that is all delivered with a spaghetti western sneer, to the Fallow Café. They open with their heavy primitive sound that immediately has the crowd moving, and you can’t help but get the feeling that tonight’s performance is what The 99 Degree have been working towards throughout 2016. Tonight they play their own deranged hallucinogenic surf rock, but despite the influences The 99 Degree are in no way buried in the past, they, along with support acts La Mode and Crimsons, are at the forefront of the latest incarnation of bands inspired by the sounds that originated in the sixties and early seventies.

99-degree-fallow-cafe-dec-4Vocalist Joe Sartini announces that “the doors have been locked and the drinks have been spiked” and this is the signal for The 99 Degree to launch into a headlining set of their unique brand of garage dementia. Songs such as Losing My Mind energise the sweaty crowd that has packed out the Fallow Café, the set varies from sinister Link Wray inspired guitar lines, embodied in the track The End Of The Line, to full on garage floor shakers. The singers shambolic stage presence is in sharp contrast to the rest of the band who hammer out the kind of authentic razor sharp rock ‘n roll that is in no way designed to save your soul or be redemptive, they are the real deal.

99-degree-fallow-cafe-dec-6It’s clear The 99 Degree have stepped up a gear, something they have managed to do every time I’ve seen them, which makes them a very exciting prospect for 2017, and tonight they confirmed new material was in the pipeline to follow on from their debut single, Dead Or Alive, which sounded better than ever tonight and brought a taste of the menace of the old west to South Manchester. Tonight they announced that they will be releasing an EP of new material next year and on the basis of the songs they played tonight that will populate the forthcoming The Banshee EP then it can only be a matter of time before The 99 Degree come to wider attention and spread their wings beyond the confines of their hometown.

99-degree-fallow-cafe-dec-5The 99 Degree are possessed by the original untamed spirit of rock ‘ n roll that follows in the tradition of Vince Taylor, The Sonics and The Cramps, every generation has it’s own standard bearers that embody the primitive spirit of excess and hedonism, The 99 Degree haven’t so much picked up the torch, but they’ve stolen it and are using it light a suspicious smoke. The world needs bands like The 99 Degree that carry the spirit of rock ‘n roll and garage, but they also combine it with the fuck you attitude of punk rock and the meance of a Sergio Leone soundtrack to create something that is truly unique and as a result tonight’s show indicates that 2017 could well be their year.

99-degree-fallow-cafe-dec-7Sam Craighan‘s Facebook presence can be found here

La Mode‘s Facebook page is here and their debut EP is available via iTunes

Crimsons Facebook page can be found here

The 99 Degree‘s Soundcloud Page can be found here and their Facebook page is here

Dead Or Alive is available via The 99 Degree‘s Bandcamp here

Photography is by Dean Unsworth, his Instagram account is located here,

You can click on any of Dean’s photos to view a slide show of the images

ohio-knife-sobs

Ohio Knife

Scalp Or Be Scalped

We Have Become Vikings Records
By

Rating: 3/5

 
 

 

 
Cincinnati’s Ohio Knife are an unforgiving rock n’ roll influenced band that produces the kind of primitive rock music that was prevalent in the early 1970’s, prior to punk being a gleam in Iggy Pop‘s eye. This retrospective trio bring a combination of raspy vocals, that were the hallmark of singers who overindulged in the fabled trio of sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll, that are accompanied by trashy fuzzed up guitars, and a solid rhythm section that anchors the trio’s primal rock ‘n roll.
 
Ohio Knife play the kind of rock music that was around in the early to mid 70’s, you can certainly hear that there’s more than a touch of bands such as the MC5 and Creedence Clearwater Revival in Ohio Knife‘s DNA. The whole album boasts a glorious vintage fuzz and possess and very rock ‘n roll sensibility. Just listen to keyboards in my personal favourite from the album, Day And Night, for evidence of that, a glorious Jerry Lee Lewis hellfire piano makes an appearance to accompany the fuzzed up riffs on this number. Scalp Or Be Scalped is an album that spans the early to mid 1970’s, from soulful rockers to the proto punk snarl of Special Plans, if you’re going to do something then you might as well do it properly and Ohio Knife are nothing if not an authentic rock ‘n roll throwback.
 
Like the original bands of that era I personally prefer their more upbeat numbers, but numbers like Be The Dark bring the pace down and bring a fine sinister tone to Scalp Or Be Scalped. This is such an unashamedly retro album it’s hard to not to succumb to it’s charms, whilst a few of the slower numbers aren’t for me I can’t help but fall partially under the spell of Scalp Or Be Scalped. Ohio Knife are a complete anachronism, their sound is conspicuously old fashioned and this album sounds like it’s been transplanted from a bygone era, but it’s done so well that I find that I don’t care.
 
Scalp Or Be Scalped was released in October and is available on vinyl, CD and digital formats.
 
Ohio Knife‘s web presence can be found here
 
inire-cauchemar

Inire

Cauchemar

Self-Released
By

Rating: 3/5

 
 

 

 

Inire have established themselves on the alternative and metal scenes in their native Canada with their blend of northern groove, stoner metal and hardcore energy, Cauchmar is the bands sophomore album and it follows up on their 2007 self-titled EP and their 2009 debut full length, Born The Wicked, The Fallen, The Damned. The album is produced by drummer Chris Bonavia and features thirteen hard edged tracks that will build on the band’s reputation of delivering the kind of energetic anthems that have earned them a loyal following, and led to them relentlessly touring across Canada and performing at one of Canada’s biggest outdoor festivals, Amnesia Rockfest, and headlining Fete Nationale.

This is a blend of heavy contemporary metal blended with hardcore and a touch of thrash, Cauchemar eases you in gently with opening instrumental, Avidya, which builds up the expectation before Wide Awake does exactly what a song with that title should do. The album varies between a faster hard hitting style, where the heavier influences come to the fore, and more traditional metallic compositions. Cauchemar carries on in the vein until you get into the final third of the album, when the heaviness is punctuated with a somewhat baffling orchestral segment. Burn restarts the album with a great distorted chugging riff before the album’s flow is interrupted once more by Into The Labyrinth, a folk sounding instrumental with sinister whispers, before the album builds to a rock finale with the title track and Just A Halo Away.

Cauchemar is distinctly more towards the metal side of it’s roots, but the hardcore influence has generally supressed the self indulgent urges that metal frequently harbours. The guitars, vocal harmonies and double bass drumming are all elements in Inire‘s sound that belongs almost exclusively in the worlds of rock and metal, almost, there is an undercurrent of attitude that gives Cauchemar an edge over many contemporary rock albums. Personally I’d have a preferred a slightly greater influence from the heavier elements as this underpins the albums best tracks, but aside from my personal preference for the faster noisier compositions this is a fine hybrid of rock, metal and punk, albeit one that leans much further into rock than the majority of crossover albums I encounter.

Cauchemar can be ordered here

world-over-mountains

The World Over

Mountains

Self Released
By

Rating: 3/5

 
 

 

 

Los Angeles based alternative rock band The World Over have released their latest EP, Mountains. The World Over is led by Tiaday Ball, for trivia fans she’s the granddaughter of the guitar string creator Ernie Ball, who along with Ryan Knecht, Guitar, and Donovan Allen, bass, make up the current line up of The World Over, for this release Melvin Murray of Abandon All Ships stepped into breach to play drums on the Mountains EP.

Mountains is an impressive self released EP of alt rock, it must be said the initial impression of the first track, Traitor, concerned me. It started with a worryingly polished and commercial introduction, but I’m glad to report this is short lived as the track kicks in at the around the one minute mark. Following this is Liberosis, this is a much darker sounding affair, with a much heavier guitar and drumbeat compared to the initial number. The Mountains EP alternates across it’s five tracks between a softer more commercial sound and the slightly darker heavier and ultimately more satisfying style, for me it is those tracks, Liberosis and Invisible, that work best and it’s also these that suit Tiaday Ball’s vocals, which it must be said are stunning, she is able to equally deliver both melody and a hair raising alt rock howl.

The World Over has mainlined the sound that bands like Skunk Anansie pioneered, and they’ve taken it a step further, on the Mountains EP they’ve incorporated some of the heavier end of alt rock into their sound, alongside the post hardcore influences from their debut EP, Rampart District. The production is a little too slick for my tastes, I always feel a band benefits from a few rough edges but this aside I don’t really have any complaints and you can see The World Over going onto much bigger things on the basis of this EP.

The Mountains EP can be streamed and purchased here

Jupiter Hollow Offer Free Download Of ‘Ascending’

jupiter-hollow-odysseyJupiter Hollow are offering fans a free download of their track Ascending off their upcoming debut EP Odyssey, the EP will be distributed by Milagro Records and will be released on January 13 2017.  The record will feature five tracks to introduce their experimental progressive songwriting, plus it will act as a prelude to their planned full length, AHDOMN. Jupiter Hollow’s alt rock sound is usually referred to as spacey and experimental and reminds listeners of bands like Tool, A Perfect Circle, Tesseract and The Contortionists.

The free download of Ascending can be obtained here

celeb-car-crash-patbs

Celeb Car Crash

People Are The Best Show

1981 Records
By

Rating: 3.5/5

 
 

 

 

Celeb Car Crash are an Italian rock band that have now been with us for almost four years, they formed from the ashes of numerous Italian bands including KlogrLena’s Baedream, Violet Gibson, Waiting for Titor, Convergence, Octave and Opposite Sides. They released their debut album, Ambush!, only a few months after their formation and since that time they have released a number of EP’s and singles and toured Europe relentlessly, now they bring us their sophomore album, People Are The Best Show.

Let Me In, the first single from People Are The Best Show, opens the album in fine style, this is a serious high impact alt rock number that sounds like the best song Velvet Revolver never wrote. The eleven tracks that follow on from the impressive lead single all plough various furrows of the nineties alt rock and grunge scene, but it’s all done so well that I find myself not caring that People Are The Best Show is an unashamedly retro album. I can only think that the final track Nearly In Bloom is a tongue in cheek reference to the Nirvana song of the same name, and I can’t think of a better metaphor for this band. Had Celeb Car Crash been around a quarter of a century ago then they could have been one of the biggest bands on the planet, as it is they deserve to be better known across Europe, and beyond, as this is a fine album, albeit one that has one foot firmly planted in the past.

Like their fellow countrymen Guida this is a slab of rock music that harks back to previous decade, whilst Guida head back further in time for inspiration Celeb Car Crash are informed by the rock and grunge bands of the 1990’s and 2000’s. You can hear the influence of the likes of Alice in Chains, Faith No More, Foo Fighters, Metallica, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Soundgarden in their sound, there’s nothing wrong with being retro if it’s done well, and believe me People Are The Best Show is done very well, if you have any love for any of the aforementioned bands that have influenced Celeb Car Crash then you’ll adore this album.

The Celeb Car Crash website, with links to purchase or stream the album, is here

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Red Fang

Only Ghosts

Relapse Records
By

Rating: 4.5/5

 
 

 

 

After spending the last few years vigorously touring the world alongside such bands as Mastodon, The Dillinger Escape Plan, Black Tusk and Kyuss Lives, Oregon based heavy rock giants Red Fang have re-emerged with their latest full length album, Only Ghosts, which was released via Relapse Records yesterday, this is their fourth studio album, their third for Relapse Records, and it follows on from 2013’s Whales and Leeches. Red Fang have now been in existence for eleven years and their latest release shows a refinement in their hard driving complex rock, on Only Ghosts they seem to have honed their sound and incorporated some darker influences alongside the fist pumping high tempo tracks that make up the core of the album.

Flies opens the album with piledriving drums and a distorted dirty guitar riff, the twin vocals kick in, one raw and furious, one melodic, and I’m pretty much sold before the song is half way done, the album continues to impress as the following track, Cut It Short, which is another crushing number with a pounding beat and overdriven guitars, but crucially it’s nothing like the first track and features a spikier riff that builds to an almighty chorus. There’s a brief interlude as the instrumental Flames washes over you with waves of feedback and lets you get your breath, but Only Ghosts swiftly reasserts itself with the punishing No Air, this is slower, heavier and more intense number which conjures up visions of a contemporary Black Sabbath. Shadows starts with a heartfelt fuck yeah and it swiftly kicks the album back into ffth gear before Not For You knocks it into overdrive. The final tracks on Only Ghosts take the album down a different path, The Smell Of The Sound heads into darker territory with it’s slower sinister vibe and dark keyboard touches, The Deep ups the tempo but maintains the shadowy feel of the final quartet of tracks. I Am A Ghost channels Rob Zombie with a malevolent riff and drum beat before the final number, Living In Lye, serves up an epic punishing song to close the album

At it’s core this a rock album but there are alternative influences in the mix that stops the self indulgence creeping in, alongside the rock influences I pick up distinct elements of the like of Killing Joke, Early Foo Fighters and The Cult in their sound alongside the more obvious influences, this is no guitar solo ridden rock cliché album, this is a rock album done as it oughta be. The band themselves have stated that working with the producer, Ross Robinson, on Only Ghosts has been a transformative experience, on the basis of this album I can only concur with that as this is Red Fang‘s best album to date. 

Only Ghosts can be ordered via Relapse Records here and via Red Fang here

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Red Fang / Torche / God Damn

Academy 2, Manchester, UK

30th September 2016
By

Rating: 4/5

 
 

 

 

When I last visited the Manchester Academy, in the Summer of this year, the venue resembled a building site, renovation work was being undertaken which meant the venue looked closed, this severely affected the numbers who turned up to the concert that was on that night, in addition to this the main bar and the smoking area were closed, and as good as the bands were that night these kind of things inevitably impact on your experience. Any concerns I had this would still be the case as dispelled as the complex of four venues that nestle within Manchester University, from the barn like Academy One to the intimate Academy 3, all seem to be back up and running, and the Academy once more looks like its open for business. Although getting into the Academy 2 involved being herded up and down different staircases for no apparent reason I manage to arrive in the venue moments before opening act, God Damn, kick tonight’s show into gear.

God Damn take the stage and one immediate difference is apparent as the duo that comprise God Damn have been augmented by a third member, who initially plays keyboards, I found that this addition added another dimension to the pummelling instrumental they commenced their set with. God Damn are making an almost cataclysmic noise tonight, to my ears they sound like a more intense and heavier prospect than they did on their recently released studio album, Everything Ever, this is in no way a criticism of the band, it’s just a fact. As I wrote the notes for the review the reverberations from the bass drum were doing strange things to my internal organs. As good as their latest album is, the studio seems to have shaved the raw edges off their sound, live these are well and truly evident and God Damn have let loose tonight

God Damn proudly hail from the Black Country, this part of the UK has produced almost all of the UK’s heaviest bands and tonight they do their forefathers proud, whilst they are by no means a metal band God Damn‘s sound lies somewhere between fellow black country legends Black Sabbath, and the legendary West Midlands grindcore crew Napam Death. Whilst they are not as doom laden as the former, or as dementedly frantic as the latter, they make an intense and impressive noise that to my mind is one that is all their own. They announced tonight that their former guitar tech is now a fully fledged member of the band, the expanded line up gives their vocalist free reign to engage with the audience when their latest recruit takes over on guitar duties. Their set is sadly short, and they end their half hour slot with an avalanche of drums accompanied by a wall of feedback that The Stooges would have been proud off. God Damn provided the perfect start to tonight’s triple threat, their sonic assault and the quality of material from their two albums, Vultures and Everything Ever, indicates that I doubt they’ll be playing the opening slot the next time they tour.

Torche are next up, this is a band I haven’t previously encountered so I’m in unknown territory, their heavy discordant opening number, that features a haunting twin vocal attack, reminds me of nothing less than a very heavy and distorted Jane’s Addiction, after this promising opening they kick up a gear with an ominous bass rumble and treble laced guitar that has echoes of early Dead Kennedys, only much much heavier. Torche are another band whose sound can’t be pigeonholed, they vary their sound constantly, from full on alt rock to pounding hypnotic numbers that seems to have elments of Hawkwind, when they were in their prime, incorporated into their sound. They end their set with a prolonged heavy chunk of sludgy stoner rock that is the perfect end to their genre defying set, over the course of their all too brief appearance tonight Torche have incorporated about three decades worth of influence into their set, and this makes for a glorious hybrid of much of the best of alternative music, but with a seriously heavy and distorted undertone that I find very impressive. From the first two acts it’s abundantly clear that this is not your standard rock show, each band is bringing something different to this eclectic, yet unifyingly heavy line up

There’s no doubt who most of the crowd are here to see, Red Fang have packed out the Academy 2, they open their set sounding like the MC5 on steroids and from this point on they play a pummelling set of alt rock that constantly switches style, this is achieved not just through their music, they alternate the vocal duties, from a dark metal growl to a fine rock n roll vocal, depending on the nature of the song. The new material on display from their forthcoming album, Only Ghosts, fits in perfectly alongside their back catalogue and to my ears Red Fang sound like the past, present and future of rock ‘n roll simultaneously. Their energetic set has the sweaty Mancunian crowd enthralled, they are the only band tonight who get a truly energetic response, including some sporadic crowd surfing, from those down the front, and the feeling seems to be mutual as Red Fang clearly love what they do as they enjoy some effortless interaction with the audience, without resorting to rock ‘n roll clichés. Tonight’s show featured three very different approaches to rock, each unique and each equally compelling. The venue, as usual for the Academy 2, had excellent sound and light, the security was friendly and unobtrusive and the floor, as has always been the case at this venue, was reassuringly adhesive from the accumulated beer that’s been spilt on it over the decades.

I have one major problem with tonight’s show and it’s nothing to do with the bands, it was the number of people filming the show on their tablets and phones, by all means take a picture and then put your damn phone away, live in the moment and actually watch the show, if you want to watch a concert through a phone screen you can do that at home, just enjoy the concert as your memories will last longer and be more interesting than your shaky footage with poor audio. Aside from that complaint, that certainly isn’t unique to this concert, all of tonight’s bands were superb and demonstrated different facets of how rock music has melded with different genre’s to produce unique hybrids.

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Love Zombies / The Amorettes / Louise Distras

Gullivers, Manchester, UK

26th September 2016
By

Rating: 5/5

 
 

 

 

gullivers-26-sept-louise-distrasGullivers is located on the edge of Manchester’s Northern Quarter, nearby lie venues such as The Night And Day Café and The Castle, two of Manchester’s remaining record shops and independent stores such as Rockers England and the legendary Afflecks Palace, in short there isn’t much point in going anywhere else on this side of the city. On this typically rainy Manchester evening Gullivers is playing host to an impressive triple bill, the Love Zombies and The Amorettes are co-headlining this tour and Louise Distras is opening proceedings.

gullivers-26-sept-louise-distras-2Despite the torrential rain, and the early start time for Louise Distras‘s set, a healthy crowd has assembled and she receives a warm welcome from the damp mancunian crowd, her set tonight is a mix of songs from her acclaimed debut album, Dreams From The Factory Floor, and material from her forthcoming album. Louise is certainly on fine form tonight, she plays her vibrant acoustic set with her customary zeal and passion. The new material that was on display tonight indicates that her forthcoming sophomore album is going to be something to look forward to, and her established material loses nothing from it’s transition from electric to acoustic.

gullivers-26-sept-louise-distras-3Part way through her set, during a quiet section of a song, a member of the crowd with a foghorn like voice is having a very loud conversation, impressively Louise Distras dealt with this noisy interruption by pointedly extending the middle eighth of the song and when she had his attention she silenced him with nothing more than a meaningful glare, as usual she is not taking any prisoners. I’ve seen Louise Distras on many occasions over the last few years and I’ve never seen her give less than her all when she’s performing, if you get the chance to catch her live, and the odds are she will be on tour somewhere, then you should.

gullivers-26-sept-the-amorettesThere’s an ominous crack of thunder from the PA and this signifies that the second of tonight’s bands, and the first of tonight’s co-headliners, are taking the stage, Scotland’s The Amorettes. They are an all female trio who play full blooded no holds barred rock ‘n roll, the number of their Pledge Music t-shirts on display tonight indicates that they have well and truly established themselves in the North West of the UK and you can see why. The Amorettes channel the excesses of the world of rock ‘n roll and the result is a glorious fusion of the best elements of the kind of decibel abusing bands like Motorhead, AC/DC and the later releases by The Donnas.

gullivers-26-sept-the-amorettes-2The Amorettes play pure high octane hard edged rock music, and they play it as well I’ve heard it done. There are no excesses, no drum or guitar solos that make you wonder if you’ve got time to nip to that bar, just straight up rock served exactly as it should be. You could argue their sound is quite retro, but when it’s played this well, and with this much enthusiasm, who cares? By the end of the set most of the audience are singing along to their infectious choruses and fists are pumping furiously. The Amorettes treated a damp Monday night at Gullivers like they were headlining Wembley Stadium and they do exactly what rock is supposed to do, it puts big smile on your face and reminds you why it’s good to be alive

gullivers-26-sept-love-zombies-1Tonight it is the Love Zombies turn for the headlining slot on this co-headlining tour, in contrast to the previous two acts the Love Zombies play frantic melodic punk rock at it’s finest, that’s not to say this is any way pop punk, this is full tilt punk rock with a heavy back beat and a full on twin guitar attack that acts as a counterpoint to the wonderfully eccentric vocalist. Think of a female fronted misfits without the b-movie obsession, maybe throw in a dash of Ramones and early Blondie and you’re almost there, but their influences are by no means the whole story as Love Zombies bring their own character, charm and style to produce a something that is very much their own.

gullivers-26-sept-love-zombies-2In addition to their fine musical stylings the Love Zombies are certainly a visually compelling quintet, the hyperactive singer shimmys, bounces and kicks her way throughout the set, the twin blue Mohawk sporting bass player and the drummer anchor the whole thing with a pummelling rhythm section and the two guitarist resemble punk sentinels on either side of the stage. The Love Zombies are a glorious shot of bubblegum flavoured adernalin that I defy anyone with a love of punk rock not to fall in love with. This is another band that I hadn’t encountered before tonight, and they are another band that I will ensure I see again, and for me they mark the end what has been a perfect and diverse femme fronted triple bill.

gullivers-26-sept-love-zombies-3Every band on tonight’s bill has been different, each having their own style, from the emotive power pop of Louise Distras, the rock ‘n fucking roll of The Amorettes and Punkyness of Love Zombies, unusually I can’t decide which is my favourite and I’m calling it a three way tie. For me a concert isn’t just about the headlining act, everything about the evening affects your experience, all the bands, the venue, the crowd, the atmosphere and the music played in between bands, but I find that I can’t fault a single thing about tonight, this has been that rare beast of a perfect night out.

I would happily see any of tonight’s acts on their own, but together they have created the perfect storm, and for a wet Monday night in Manchester that is no mean feat, and I doubt I’ll see a better line up this year, or maybe even next year.

Photography is by Dean Unsworth, you can visit his Instagram account here and you can click on any of Dean’s photos to view a slideshow of the images

The Amorettes web presence is here

Louise Distras‘s website is located here

The Love Zombies website can be found here

Red Fang Share ‘Not For You’ From ‘Only Ghosts’ Album

red-fang-ogPortland’s heavy rock giants, Red Fang, have revealed Not For You, a new song taken from their forthcoming album, Only Ghostswhich is due out on October 14th via Relapse RecordsRed Fang have just begun an extensive autumn tour, with a month of European dates followed by another month of American dates, including the recently announced hometown show on December 17th at the Wonder Ballroom. Label mates Torche will join Red Fang on both runs with God Damn supporting in the UK and Whores joining them on the American dates, tickets for the UK tour dates can be purchased here

Digital pre orders of Only Ghosts can be found here and physical bundles can be found here

You can stream Not For You here

Down and Outlaws AS

Down And Outlaws

Above Snakes

A Diamond Heart Production
By

Rating: 3.5/5

 
 

 

 

Down And Outlaws are a four piece rock band from San Fransisco, they’re comprised of Peter Danzig, Kyle Luck, Chris Danzig, and Jon Carr. Above Snakes follows on from their 2014 EP, Backwards From The Dead, it was this release that set the template for the booze soaked bare knuckle rock that would eventually populate their debut album, Above Snakes, which was recorded in a frantic and hedonistic one week session at Studio 606.

The first chords of the opening track, Roll That Stone, set an ominous tone, it’s a track that carries the kind of menace that would suit the opening of a contemporary western, just before someone gets shot. From this point the majority of Above Snakes is a high octane rock album, this is a slab of dirty, dusty, down and out rock ‘n roll, it carries influences from the blues and the hard nosed end of rebel country, and it’s an album that doesn’t disappoint on any level. Whilst this a rock album, it doesn’t indulge any of the clichés of excesses that that genre often encourages, only two of the songs are over four minutes long, and those two are only just over that marker. The album builds up from the opening track until  you head towards the end of the album, when it eases off the throttle for Backwards From The Dead and Gone before you hit the final track, Every Time I Use You. This track ends the album on a smoky, dark and dusty lovelorn acoustic number that brings Above Snakes to an unexpected, yet very welcome, conclusion.

This is ten rounds of bourbon drenched rock n roll that recalls the likes of The Cult‘s classic Electric album, it is a hybrid of country, blues and, above all, rock, that ticks all the boxes for an album like this, with none of the usual drawbacks, there are no histrionic guitar solos or vocal gymnastics, you just get a authentic bourbon soaked rock ‘n roll album. Above Snakes is a term from the old west that means alive, on the basis of this album this is very much the case with Down And Outlaws.

Above Snakes was released last month and can be ordered here

Psuedo Future To Release ‘Time Slips Away’ EP on July 29th

pseudo future TSADallas rock trio Pseudo Future has signed with the newly re-launched Standby Records and will release their label debut EP Time Slips Away on July 29. The band’s hard-hitting, deep, groove filled sound is surprising given that they are only a three-piece. Combining and blending sounds from traditional rock, alternative indie, blues and more, Pseudo Future is able to bring a completely new sound to listeners.

Time Slips Away can be pre-ordered on iTunes

Pseudo Future‘s new video for Ode To Madness can be viewed below 

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Big Eyes Release ‘Stake My Claim’ Video

Big Eyes SMCBrooklyn’s Big Eyes, the power-punk-pop brainchild of Kait Eldridge, has returned with a new video for Stake My Claim, the title track of the upcoming third LP. Along with the video, Big Eyes have announced a string of August tour dates in support of the new album, which is due for release on August 19 via Don Giovanni Records
 
You can pre-order the vinyl from Don Giovanni Records here
 
You can see the tour dates and watch the video for Stake My Claim below
 

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Red Fang Announce Tour And Release Date For ‘Only Ghosts’ LP

Red Fang OGAfter three years of vigorously touring the world, Portland, Oregon-based heavy rock giants Red Fang have re-emerged with their latest full-length album, Only Ghosts, due for release via Relapse Records on October 14th 2016. Only Ghosts was produced by the legendary Ross Robinson (At The Drive In, The Cure, Slipknot and many more) and mixed by Joe Baressi (Queens of the Stone Age, Kyuss, Melvins). Packing in ten new tracks of the band’s signature, high-impact, two-pronged vocal attack and knack for finding the sharpest hooks, Red Fang prove once again they have mastered the heavy anthem, without taking themselves too seriously.

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Hotei Strangers

Hotei

Strangers

Spinefarm Records
By

Rating: 3/5

 
 

 

 

Hotei began his career back in the 1980’s, this is probably the most successful guitarist you’ve never heard of, he has sold in the region of sixty million records, yes you read that correctly, in his native Japan. He clearly feels that now is the time for him to spread his wings as this is his debut international release. Strangers is a collaborative release that features appearances by some heavyweight guest vocalists from the alternative music scene, including Iggy Pop, Richard Z. Kruspe (Rammstein), Matt Tuck (Bullet For My Valentine), Noko (Apollo 440) and Texan singer Shea Seger.

Opening track Medusa eases you into this sixteen track epic with an atmospheric instrumental that conjures up a contemporary spaghetti western. Iggy Pop makes his appearances on How The Cookie Crumbles and Walking Through The Night, his distinctive vocals add gravel to these stampy pieces of light industrial, unsurprisingly the two tracks Iggy makes his appearances on are amongst the best tracks on the album. Shea Seger demonstrates her vocal talents and brings some sultry bluesy attitude to proceedings on Kill Or Kiss and Texas Groove. In contrast to these pieces it probably shouldn’t be a surprise that the tracks featuring Richard Z. Kruspe are the heaviest on the album, these are quite lightweight compared to his work with Rammstein, then again so are most things.

On this album Hotei comes across as a musical chameleon, changing and adapting his style to those around him. This is an unusual album, each of the tracks appears to have been tailored to the person guesting on it, but the overall theme is a hybrid of rock, electronica and industrial. There are high and low points on this, it resembles the soundtrack to a dystopian sci-fi movie and the whole album sounds slightly dated, in places Hotei doesn’t seem to have been able to move away from his 80’s roots, but the inclusion of a varied and laudable collection of guest vocalists makes this a diverse and interesting album

You can order Strangers here

Radio Moscow LIC

Radio Moscow

Live! In California

Alive Natutalsound Records
By

Rating: 4/5

 
 

 

 

Before playing Live! In California I’d advise you to acclimatise yourself for a spot of time travel, this record takes you back through time to the era when psychedelia had started to develop a harder age, but before those bands became the bloated rock dinosaurs that punk arose as a reaction against. Radio Moscow are a trio from Iowa that formed back in 2003, they have previously issued four full length studio albums prior to Live! In California ‘s release. This album cherry picks songs from their back catalogue, but they don’t just reproduce them, this is clearly a band who thrive in a live environment and the arrangements are subtly different from the studio versions.

Radio Moscow band

Live albums can be disappointing affairs, few capture the atmosphere or sound of a concert accurately, Live! In California is not one of those albums, this release proudly boasts having no overdubs and it is a perfect snapshot of a band live. Radio Moscow sound amazing live, the album is full on wall of histrionic guitars, rumbling bass and precise drums, it’s even more impressive when you consider there are only three of them. The band are perfectly synchronised and you get the impression that a fair bit of improvisation takes place, it’s a credit to their musicianship and live chemistry that you can’t tell when this occurs. The production on the album is absolutely crystal clear and the mix is perfect. Whether you’ll enjoy this will depend whether you’re a fan of late 60s and early 70s proto rock and psychedelia, and if you are then you will love this album.

Radio Moscow transport you back through a time warp to somewhere around 1970, this is rock influenced by the likes of Jimi Hendrix, Cream and Blue Cheer. This is a band that sounds like it’s members are making the music they love, yes it’s retro, very retro, everything from the bands appearance through to the sleeve art timestamps this album firmly in the late 60’s or early 70’s. if you play this album to someone I guarantee you that they will think it’s from way back when. Radio Moscow do what they do so well that I find myself not caring that there is nothing contemporary about this band whatsoever, they are unashamedly living in the past and they sound like they like it there.

Radio Moscow are about to embark on a European tour throughout July and August, tour dates can be found here

Live! in California is released on the 8th July 2016 and can be ordered here 

sunset shipwrecks community

The Sunset Shipwrecks

Community

Lugosi Records
By

Rating: 3.5/5

 
 

 

 

The Sunset Shipwrecks are a new project from two members of American Steel, Ryan Massey and Scott Healy, who are joined by Brian Miu and Sean Reilly to complete the quartet. It has been superbly produced by Kevin Army and was recorded at Ryan Massey‘s Sharkbite Studio. If you’re expecting an extension of American Steel then you’re in for a shock, this is rock ‘n roll, and what a damn fine slice of rock n roll it is.

The opening track Leave Me In The Grove recalls the spirit of The Animals with a haunting bluesy number, it is immediately clear that this is quite a musical departure, the title track only goes onto confirm this, the track Community is a piece of foot tapping boogie woogie influenced political rock. Community switches between roots Americana influences throughout the ten tracks and once you’ve gotten over the shock you quickly warm to it’s charms. The Tide Will Rise is the closest thing to an American Steel number on Community, but only if you can imagine they forgot to take most of their effects pedals into the studio. The closing track No Justice is the most political track on here, it’s a raised fist of defiance against the current state of the political landscape and it’s inherent corruption.

This is an album that is going back to the roots of American Music, the album is a blend of blues, rock ‘n roll and there’s even a touch of country thrown into the mix. Whilst this is a change of direction musically, the lyrical content remains as hard hitting as ever. This is a surprising and rather wonderful side project, rather than recreating the sounds of the band half of The Sunset Shipwrecks are better known for, they have made something that keeps the spirit and attitude of their punk roots, but branches out musically, and that is something to be applauded.

You can download Community from the usual sources or you can order the vinyl directly from Lugosi records here

Sal Paradise Offer Up JOY As Free Download

Before announcing a summer 2015 tour and plans to record a full-length follow up to 2013’s, JOY, Sal Paradise are offering up their previous release up for free download.

You can stream/download “JOY” here.