This is not an album you leap to put on when the sun is out and you feeling up, without a care in the world but this is actually, an album you may well readily put on first thing in the morning (idea for that early morning dazed train commute) or, last thing at night or just perhaps, when everything is not so rosy in your Garden.

 

Ex-Sparklehorse musician Adam Wiltzie, and composer Dustin O'Halloran are A Winged Victory For The Sullen. They have produced a solemn even reverential recording of beautiful music, piano, strings, an ambience woven into a spider’s web of contentment.

I have been giving this album a few listens over the past 3-4 weeks and actually gave it a break and then went back to it, just to see if it had some lasting power. It does!

 

This record is a ragged blues-fuelled classic, with a modern twist. The guitar lines cut like a razor blade on opener 'You're in my blood', and 'Heart rested with you' is pure classic Rock. Thunderous stuff!

 

The new record follows their eponymous 2009 debut which was filed under the nu-folk bracket. If that was the case, then the record that you could soon be holding in your hands is a seismic change.

 

Since 2009, Kill It Kid have been earning their spurs via relentless touring, inspired by the old blues warriors, although the band actually hails from Bath. Still, that was the home of the famous Blues festival of 1969/70 so there must be something in the water.

A delightful five song taster of a lot more to come hopefully from Diagrams and Sam Gendes, an ex stalwart of hip folk collective Tunng.

The songs are very varied on the ep from the opening of ‘Night All Night’  with an acoustic  base and honey rich vocals, a lovely song , to the second song  which adds brass and strings and just about a much fun  as you can have with a song, that’s the free flowing  ‘Antelope’ .

Hill brings in some electronics and yet another change of pace.  ‘Woking’ again a nice song this time, with a big ‘Elbow’ feel. Final song Icebreakers is just plain beautiful in a folk groove, with added thunder.

So in conclusion a superb ep that certainly leaves us eager for more.

Diagrams play the End of The Road Festival this weekend and the physical EP still seems to be on Amazon, so get it while you still can.

Pete

9/11

From the opening cords and blast of horns we are comfortable, warm, cosy and happy in familiar territory. ‘A Candle's Fire’ the opening song is pure and simply, sublime. 

‘The Rip Tide’ is (as usual with Beirut) short at 33 minutes but, I guess as the saying goes, "always leave them wanting more"
 
Santa Fe is equally impressive as the opener, pure joy. ‘East Harlem’ is a change of pace to Zach Condon’s delicate side. ‘Goshen’ has beautiful piano set against Zak's vocals and that ever present brass chimes in.
 
On ‘Paynes Bay’ the horns (is there a clarinet there?) are heart wrenching at the start before the song catches pace and the title song, The Rip Tide' is an epic.
 
Like the early autumn chill that has been affecting the UK in recent days, you may well have been grabbing that jumper out of the cupboard for extra warmth; that's exactly what The Rip Tide offers.
 
I'll leave the rest of the album for you to discover because, every home should own this album and yes after the final song 'Port of Call' we are left wanting more!
 
10/11
Pete
 
1. A Candle's Fire 
2. Santa Fe 
3. East Harlem 
4. Goshen 
5. Payne's Bay 
6. The Rip Tide 
7. Vagabond 
8. The Peacock 
9. Port Of Call 
 

Website

I listened to this album a lot on my summer holiday, so it’s good to know that it sounds as good on a wet Tuesday in London as it did on a sunny beach in Italy. I recently described this album to someone as ‘early Pink Floyd visits The Beatles on a journey via Sly Stone’, and although that doesn’t cover all of the influences on display here, it should give you some idea of the type of sounds you’ll hear within. 

Album opener ‘Ffunny Ffriends’ is the first track I heard from the record (as is often the case it came from the Tom Ravenscroft show on BBC 6music). It’s a good introduction to the band, with shuffling drumbeats, a catchy guitar line and melodic but slightly fuzzy vocals. ‘Bicycle’ (a sequel to Pink Floyd’s ‘Bike’ perhaps?) feels almost like The Kinks musically, although the lyrics - ‘All of you can eat my dust’ - are decidedly modern. Next track ‘Thought Ballune’ opens with some guitars stolen from The Beatles, and matches them with an equally Beatles-esque chorus. 

‘Jello and Juggernauts’ is a slightly more mellow track with some typically psychedelic words, while ‘How Can You Luv Me’ ups the pace, with a funky bassline (particularly in the Disco middle eight!) and some equally rhythmic drumming. 

Next up is ‘Nerve Damage’ which starts and ends with some annoying Peter Frampton / Bon Jovi guitar/voice tube sounds, but in between becomes the punkiest thing on the album, very much in the Stooges line. Meanwhile ‘Little Blu House’ is one of the most melodic tracks, a 60s tune fitted to a simple drum machine which comes in at exactly 3 minutes – the perfect length for a pop song. Then ‘Strangers are Strange’ brings the funky bass back. 

‘Boy Witch’ brings back the ghost of Syd Barrett – it’s very Floyd-influenced and could easily be a track from their first album. On the iTunes version of the album there are a couple of bonus tracks – ‘I Want To Be Left To My Own Devices’ and ‘Cyrus’ Theme’. The former is a distorted acoustic ditty, while the latter is an engaging instrumental. 

Overall then, an album that draws its influences from each of the past five decades, and wraps them up in something that’s both comfortingly familiar and enjoyably unusual. 

8/11 

Russell 

Website

 

Fancy a trip in a time machine? It only covers two decades, 60’s and 70’s and it will take you to a hot steaming small bar in any U.S. city. It’s packed, low ceilings, sticky floor, beer in hand (the last one, went all over your shirt from the crush). On stage, as the sweat drips off, the walls, Night Beats are thrashing through their debut self titled album..

It’s full of Physch guitars, distorted vocals, garage rock roots, It’s reverb drenched, glorious Rock n Roll played at ear splitting volume.

Outside after the gig, sweaty, dazed and fantastically (on a musical) high, you stumble back to the time machine and head home.

Waking up next morning with a sore head and in desperate need of a shower, memories drift back. You were at a gig, it was brilliant, and who was that band? But wait, there, in 2011, in your hand, is the psychedelic covered album by Night Beats so, it was true! You can now relive the Rock n’ Roll dream over and over every night!

Nights Beats are Danny Lee Blackwell Guitar/Vocals, Tarek Wegner Bass/Vocals and James Traeger. Drums/Vocals. They hail from Seattle, Washington. Let’s hope they hit the U.K. soon!

10/11

Pete

Band

Album

This man stood on the stage at Woodstock with the legendary Mountain and from then on rock stardom and respect was guaranteed. Unlike bands like the The Who and Santana for example who amongst others went on to Stadium filling outfits. Mountain remained a heavy rock purists dream. 

Now aged 65 and recently loosing the bottom half of his right leg to amputation following complications from diabetes. Leslie West returns, accompanied by guest appearances from Slash, ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons, Zakk Wylde, Toto's Steve Lukather and Joe Bonamassa, with, Kenny Aronoff playing drums on ‘Unusual Suspects’. 

The album is pure blues rock this time around and was completed before Leslie’s operation and with those aforementioned alumni of guitarists adding a helping hand. 

Nice piano and Steve Lukather‘s (Toto) acoustic guitar combine with Leslie on the opening blues boogie work out of ‘One More Drink for the Road’. Low down and dirty, ‘Mudflap Mama’ features Slash. Two songs in and already sparkling guitars! 

‘To The Moon’ is just Leslie with the band and it’s a smooth rock song, that explodes into an anthem. Straight back to the special guests with Billy F. Gibbons. ‘Standing on Higher Ground’ was recorded standing toe to toe in a Los Angeles Studio. It has Gibbon’s trademark guitar all over it. (ZZ Top got one on their first major breaks supporting Mountain on tour, way back when) and is a real rocker. 

Willie Dixon and Eddie Boyd’s blues standard Third Degree is re-recorded for this album by Leslie and this time with Joe Bonamassa along for the ride. It’s a stunner. Zakk Wylde appears on Nothing Changed and again the blues ferocity drives the song. 

The power house behind all the songs is drummer Kenny Aronoff and with half the songs on the album ‘guestless’ is gives the album great contrast. 

Whist the cover of ‘I Feel Fine’ does not really add anything to the song, the matter is soon put right with a superb rendition of Willie Nelson’s ‘Turn Out The Lights’ with West,Wylde and Slash on acoustic and electric guitars. It’s a gem. 

It’s been a long road for Leslie West and with recovery and health going forward it’s gonna just get longer. 

Pete

8/11

 

1. One More Drink for the Road 

2. Mud Flap Momma 

3. To the Moon 

4. Standing on Higher Ground 

5. Third Degree 

6. Legend 

7. Nothin's Changed 

8. I Feel Fine 

9. Love You Forever 

10. My Gravity 

11. The Party's Over 

12. I Don't Know  (Bonus)

13. The Beetlejuice Song  

Unusual Suspects is released by Provogue Records on 19th September. 

Mountain   

Provogue Records  

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Released on the new Angry Badger Records from Southampton, Kodiak Jack deliver no nonsense, no holds barred, classic rock in fine style. ‘Wasted Youth’ actually features on the cover CD of Metal Hammer magazine (No.222) this month. 

The band are not ‘metal’ though, this is ROCK in a Bad Company, Montrose and Def Leppard kind of way. It’s actually quite refreshing to hear an older genre of music in such a clear, crisp and concisely powerful manner. 

Made up if Bryn Roberts (Vocals), Matt Forster (drums). Kev Farren (Bass) Jeff Arnold (lead guitar) and Jon Karp (guitar & vocals) the power of this five piece band is there to deliver so rock to your ears! 

The album opener, Crossfire conjures up a vision in your mind of floating long blond hair and flying V guitars, with added rock poses, (although I don’t think that is how the band actually look so stage). 

Slow Burn, has a slow burn vocal that quickly progresses into a KISS style rocker. ‘City to Burn’, unfortunate title in the UK at the moment (not that anyone could have foreseen that) but classic guitar powers the song along. 

The album rocks on, Anthem for the Underclass, actually powers like an express train. ‘My condition’ is the token ballad after which the album is all guns blazing to the end. 

This is an album for the ‘Classic Rock’ market and should certainly appeal to devotes of Bon Jovi, Whitesnake et al. A fine debut and a great future should lie ahead for Kodiak Jack. 

7/11

Pete

 

 

1. Crossfire 

2. Wasted Youth                

3. Your City To Burn               

4. Prettier When She Smiles                  

5. Anthem For An Underclass                  

6. My Condition                 

7. Waves             

8. My Fake Jesus             

 9. We Are Your Saviors                

10. Your Death My Glory

 

Angry Badger records and songs   

Shop     

Band Website 

The Jayhawks return to the shelves on the 5th September, via Rounder Records with ‘Mockingbird Time’. The first Jayhawks record since 1995 to feature Gary Louris and Mark Olson. The harmonies between Gary and Mark remain limitless and the band (Class of ’95) with Karen Grotberg, Tim O’Reagen and Marc Perlman means that the musicianship is first class throughout the record. 

The touchstones for the Jayhawks will always be Hollywood Town Hall and Tomorrow the Green Grass and on Mockingbird time they come close but, at the end of the day, they have the Jayhawks sound and that is what remains on the new songs. No radical departures from the past with the exception of some psych like guitar that appears here and there. 

A shoe gazing delight from this Austin trio. Whilst the entire album is filled with big reverb filled guitars, the overall effect is very subtle and measured. Modern day bands of the genre like Wooden Shjips, The Horrors along with the perennial influencing Jesus and Mary Chain even The Doors spring to mind when listening to this fine record. 

The album was apparently recorded live without overdubs. At the front are Nate Grace’s addictive atmospheric vocals. In interviews he describes his influences as, Townes Van Zandt, Leonard Cohen, Lou Reed & JAMC. 

Heavy Air, kicks off the album with a touch of surf guitar, playing Explosions in the Sky as Nate’s ethereal vocals rise above. ‘Dream Over’ next and we get into shoe gazing territory although the song fades too soon. 

The album powers along with great guitar, through the mists of a sonic film of sound. There are no dips during the slow burn of this album which twists and turns keep your attention alive. 

By the time instrumental ’Surface’ comes along the album is in its stride and sinks into your consciousness. There is also bendy surf guitar on the interlude ‘Pleasure’ to the last song ‘Half Here’ which rounds off a fine album to be played at volume! 

8/10

Pete

 


Heavy Air

Dream Over

Twisted Mirror

Easy  

Voices

Surface

Stuck Livin

Dry Ice

Pleasure

Half Here


UK dates are expected in November. the red streaked vinyl version and CD are out now on the Acéphale.label.

North Sea Radio Orchestra’s ‘I a Moon’ could best be described as, an indie orchestral choral album. It really has significant charm and is reminiscent of Joanna Newsome, Juliana Barwick and The Leisure Society in style of music. 

North Sea Radio Orchestra is actually an ever expanding or reducing ensemble led by Craig and Sharron Fortnam. Two previous albums which used poetry by the likes of Chaucer, Hardy and Tennyson came before ‘I a Moon’ but, this time around, it’s original lyrics with delightfully sweet musical interludes throughout.

 

‘Morpheus Miracle Worker’ the album opener, is a lush string accompanied song with added ethereal layered, (Bjork esqe) vocals from Sharon.

 

The tile track next up has simple instrumentation, which compliments the vocals superbly. A ‘Prog’ style Mellotron (?) is much in evidence.

 

The album has many musical interludes Guitar Miniature #3 does ‘what it says on the tin’.

Heavy Weather is a seven minute duet with heart rending strings and there are again (unintentional?) prog influences that spring to mind, Yes, Gabriel era Genesis and Caravan perhaps.

 

The Earth Beneath Our Feet’ has a PJ Harvey feel and again with strings to melt your heart. The album concludes by alternating between vocal and instrumental tracks.

 

It is a lovely album and would drift pleasantly into the ears of many people

 

8/10

Pete 

A beautiful album with gentle melodies, ethereal electronics and harmonies. Hushed rasping vocals, acoustic, crystal clear and distorted guitars, brass, piano oh, and church bells. 

The band’s website shows that Epic45 are a home recording project/collective based around the ideas and inspiration of Ben Holton and Rob Glover.” Well if music of this quality is the product of a home recordings then, think what they can do in a fully functioning studio!

 

Lo-fi and shoegazing are I suppose the genres to give you a starting point but, the album expands many musical boundaries at will. The band has been around since the late nineties. The first album proper ‘Reckless Engineers’ was released in 2002 on Canadian label Where Are My Records and regular releases through shifting band members have been released since.

 

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