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Boss Black Rockers: Crackerjack Vol. 9

Various Artists

Koko Mojo

The vaults at Koko Mojo must be seriously deep as far as delving for records of particular genres, but also for unearthing a few obscurities that likely go for a few dollars on the internet. What was considered a finished series after its eighth volume was released to the public, Volume 9 of excellent and informative Boss Black Rockers series makes another appearance. With its subheading ‘Crackerjack’ introducing listeners to another twenty-eight tracks of familiar artists, with a few unknowns, sparks interest immediately with The Kents’ ‘I Found My Girl’, and later Dave “Baby” Cortez living up to the wildness of this volume title with ‘Honey Baby’. The songs selected derive from the 50s and early 60s, and there is a lot to consume and probably best with return visits if you want to really get to grips with all on offer here. Pick of an extremely good bunch is the slightly dishevelled (and all the better for it) rhythm and blues of Harold Burrage with ‘Messed Up’, to incendiary (naturally) ‘Crackerjack’ of its album title via The Cues where guitar and vocals truly stand out. Speaking of knockout vocals, Mabel King barely takes a moment to breathe as she swiftly and forcefully moves through ‘Alabama Rock ‘n’ Roll’, leaving The Regals more restrained ‘Got The Water Boiling’ a good destination to take a moment to gather your thoughts before re-entering this wild side of rock ‘n’ roll. As The Shooters featuring Jackie make it work with combined vocals matched to a raucous beat and appropriate misspelling ‘Tuff Enuff’. Leaving the final say with The Savoys’ raw instrumental and street slang ‘Blo Jangs’, Volume 9 of this consistently great series lives up to the same expectations and paves the way for what is supposed to be the final album of Boss Black Rockers.


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Rock And Roll Vixens #4

Various Artists

Koko Mojo

With no disclosure of information regarding the number of albums in this series from Koko Mojo, the hope is that it will run for a sizeable distance given the sheer quality of tracks to date from previous volumes featuring a predominantly female cast of singers/musicians from the 50s and early 60s.  ‘Rock And Roll Vixens #4’ showcases another twenty-five tracks with a couple of surprises thrown in. As with previous albums, ‘Rock And Roll Vixens #4’ is beautifully presented in a three-fold digipak complete with simplistic eye-catching imagery/graphics and brief liner notes and, most importantly, packed with musical goodness. Such confident words from the start are down to what has gone before, and instantly backed up by the jazzy rhythm and blues of Dakota Staton’s version of Willie Dixon’s ‘My Babe’. Making a return journey for this latest album is The Bobbettes with ‘Have Mercy Baby’ and plenty of harmonised vocals. Similarities can be found in the excellent and certainly feisty ‘You Ain’t Nothin’ But A Nothin’’by Dee Dee Sharp. The surprise gem planted threequarters into this playlist comes from the combined talents of Bonita & The Blues Shacks where female and male vocals playoff each other in this tangled relationship. From such strong vocals comes another in the shape of Lulu Reed and convincing way she tells this tale of falling in love. It is often the vocal performances of many of the artists presented throughout this album series that impresses the most because of the effortless way the narratives are presented when it is down to a natural talent. Such an example is identifiable from the power held in Jean’s (Dean and Jean ‘Please Don’t Tell Me Now’) vocal without resorting to volume here, and the same notion applying to Mable John’s performance during ‘Looking For A Man’. More of this please as ‘Rock And Roll Vixens #4’ impresses on every level of this latest compilation.


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Rock And Roll Vixens #3

Various Artists

Koko Mojo

Returning for a third trip is the new favourite albums series at Famous Last Words (FLW) ‘Rock And Roll Vixens #3’. Lined with twenty-five different female artists of African American origin, Volume #3 gets to work via The Bobbettes’ harmonised vocals that are genuinely steely and determined during ‘Come-A Come-A’. From such tough beginnings come more of the same with furious rock ‘n’ roll of ‘Been A Long Time Baby’ via Baby Washington; bluesy offerings from Babe Wayne and ‘That’s Where It’s At’, to surprise female/male duet between Lulu Reed and Freddy King during ‘You Can’t Hide’. Additionally, the flipside of this song is a phenomenal ballad, ‘(Let Your Love) Watch Over Me’, and therefore it is hoped that this track is open for future consideration of this album series. Another surprise included here is the beautiful Bonita & The Blues Shacks and their own composition ‘Where’s The Money Honey’; a surprise because the track is lifted from more modern times than what is presented here, not that it is noticeable either. From this wonderful delight, the quality of songs remains consistently high with superb vocals of Sallie Blair selling ‘A Kiss A Day’, The Cookies detailed and swinging rhythm of ‘Hippy Dippy Daddy’, to really emphasising the message in both line-up and song title is The Lovers and ‘I Wanna Be Loved’. One of the key highlights comes from clearly talented Big Maybelle who makes ‘One Monkey Don’t Stop The Show’ sound so effortless due to the skills in her locker. Another “All killer, no filler” album from Koko Mojo with ‘Rock And Roll Vixens #3’.


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I Confess (Single)

Jo Below

Inverse Records

Finnish hard-rock quartet Jo Below make a return trip in 2021 with new single ‘I Confess’. The brand-new offering is the second track to be lifted from the forthcoming EP, ‘No Control’. As with previous single ‘Ms. Death’, the musical leaps in progress for Jo Below since their debut record, ‘By The Rules’, continues apace as ‘I Confess’ ditches the polish for a far grittier sound. The comparisons offered up by the band’s press release including Stone Sour, Halestorm and Paramore are accurate reflections of latest single ‘I Confess’ given its post-grunge connections. Whilst Jo Below’s music may not be reinventing the wheel, the decision to apply a far thicker layer of grease to the creative spokes of this musical creation was an inspired choice, drawing in additional comparisons with Antipodeans Super Jesus and thus opening a pathway to the alternative-rock universe. Truly, ‘I Confess’ is a song worth getting excited about.


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Twenty Flight Rock (Single)

The TR5's

OWN LABEL

Arriving in the post and complete with a handwritten letter was the TR5’s two-track CD. Rather than this being an official independent release, it would appear The TR5’s is dipping their toes in the water to gauge reactions to their efforts. With the giveaway clue printed boldly on the artwork to what sort of music was behind this CD, there is a charming old-school feel surrounding the entire package, despite no clues to the actual tracks recorded. However, if it is further investigation The TR5’s requires, then they certainly gained the attention of this music paper. What transpires are two cover songs, and brave choices given the artists covered: namely Eddie Cochran’s ‘Twenty Flight Rock’ and Carl Perkin’s ‘Everybody’s Trying To Be My Baby’. With such impeccable taste, The TR5’s also matches with aptitude when covering these two classics. First up is ‘Twenty Flight Rock’ and it is as bright and lively as the original, with the vocals of Rusty impressing throughout and the supporting instruments keeping apace and skipping between the definitions associated with this release of skiffle and early rock ‘n’ roll. If there must be a winner however, then ‘Everybody’s Trying To Be My Baby’ just about edges into first place given the added attitude heard in both guitar and vocals, which is always a bonus when it comes to rock and roll. As first impressions go, it looks like a second date is on the cards with The TR5’s given the quality of these two cover songs.


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Strangers/Lovers: Side B

DAGNY

Little Daggers Records

After releasing phase one of her debut album ‘Strangers/Lovers: Side A’ last summer, DAGNY issues phase two of said album. With ‘Side B’ submitted a few months later during the same year, FLW arrived a tad late to the second half of this full-length LP. However, any decision to submit feedback of DAGNY’s debut offering was always on the cards due to being mightily impressed with ‘Side A’. With a colossal number of tracks considered before entering the recording studio in Oslo, a final figure of twelve tracks was decided upon to make the final grade. Focusing on ‘Side B’ of ‘Strangers/Lovers’, singer-songwriter DAGNY (full name Dagny Norvoll Sandvik), the immediate connection with these tracks is the subtler tone of the music on offer. Heartbreak is central to the narratives of these final songs, where much reflection is given via the emotionally raw ‘Bad At Love’ with its pared-back arrangement of vocals and barely audible piano adding to the overall mood. There’s toned-down pop such as the memory-driven ‘Moment’, which continues in similar fashion during ‘It’s Only A Heartbreak’ and stirring finale ‘Coast To Coast’. It has taken some time to arrive, but the wait has been worthwhile as DAGNY has written and recorded a debut album to be proud of, and one that will stand the test of time.


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Digging In The Dirt (Single)

Janita

ECR Music Group

Following on the heels of previous single, and aptly titled for the current times we are all experiencing, ‘Not What You’re Used To’, singer-songwriter Janita issues a cover of Peter Gabriel’s ‘Digging In The Dirt’. The chosen track is also reflective of the times as Janita explains in her own words, “This song hit me like a ton of bricks when Peter Gabriel first came out with it, but never has the message of the song been more timely than it is right now. To make sense of the world, you have to first make sense of yourself. And in this time of division, to deeply understand what you stand for—and what you can’t tolerate—is everything”. Getting to the root(s) of the present-day pandemic has been, and remains, a challenge. Thankfully, ‘Digging In The Dirt’ provides no such barriers when it comes to listening, which is due to the chameleon-esque inventiveness of both the song’s originator, Peter Gabriel, and current creator, Janita. By choosing to pick up the baton to deliver a cover, Janita remains faithful to its original creation, only there is an added crispness (especially in the guitars) to the song’s overall sound. Helping to deliver such a healthy rendition of ‘Digging In The Dirt’ is fellow singer-songwriter and New York resident Blake Morgan on production duties, to a song examining (personal) mental health and wellbeing issues and one delivered effectively by the sting contained in its verses and then softened by tender, sweeter choruses. With news of a promotional video still in production and to support the single release of ‘Digging In The Dirt’, the jury waits in anticipation for Janita’s interpretation considering the surreal visuals of the original. A timely reminder of a compelling song and one that deserves to be heard, especially in these difficult times, ‘Digging In The Dirt’ remains a classic.


Released 19 March

 

Emerge

Everture

Inverse Records

What started with a couple of single releases back in 2019, eventually gave way to a bigger perspective of full album. From preproduction to actual album completion, much consideration has been given to the overall contents of the debut album from Everture. It is not difficult to comprehend when first albums often create lasting impressions and therefore perfection is often sought-after at every available junction. With ten tracks being the perfect ten for Everture when it comes to their first full-length album ‘Emerge’, first impressions are immediate given the frantic rhythms of opening tracks ‘In Between’ and ‘For Tomorrow’. In addition to the muscular fury however, Everture thread plenty of melodic passages throughout their music where the previously mentioned ‘For Tomorrow’ is one such example where vocals flit between singing and throaty yelling, and guitars dictate in similar style and accompanied by accelerated drum patterns. Attention to detail is a definite requirement when applying all the components to ‘Emerge’ where emotions are projected in great ranging storms of sound one instance, and then giving way to much lighter shades and thus suggesting some form of optimism such as the track ‘Undersky’. But this is the strength and qualities of Everture because the band inject much variation into their predominantly metal sound by coming up with songs with a social conscience (‘Ivory Tower’), thoughtful ballads as ‘Promises’ with plenty of musical crossover appeal, to caustic and reflective belter ‘White Lies, Black Skies’, before delving even deeper via quite stunning, ’My 52 Shades’. As debut albums go, Everture has applied all their knowhow into ‘Emerge’ and come out with an album rich in detail and much variation where metal, pop, and rock music merge to create a very modern metal album that will require repeat visits before becoming fully accustomed with its contents. In other words, a perfect start for Everture.


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Vexilla (Single)

Aryokal

Bandcamp

An electronic sound with a dark, atmospheric touch can be heard via latest single ‘Vexilla’ from independent outfit Aryokal. The new track features a hands-on approach from duo Antti Ruokola and Pekka Loponen, with Antti Ruokola responsible for the band’s compositions, programming, and production duties, and Pekka Loponen handling the vocals. What the listener can expect is a lengthy brooding track where minimalist, electronic pulses keep momentum in the background and allowing for an almost free-flowing piano to roam and taking its inspiration from jazz music. There is, however, an interesting turn in the single ‘Vexilla’, punctuated by a halfway point where the previously spoken word feel of the vocals breaks out into a more full-bodied voice, and with the electronic sounds becoming far more prominent. Hopefully, Aryokal is in the planning stages for a full album given the intriguing qualities of current release ‘Vexilla’.


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Knippe EP

lld

Screaming Skull Records

Pausing for a moment from regular duties with post-punk merchants This Sect, bass player, and now vocalist, Ösztek issues forth a brand-new project under the guise known as lld. First release for this solo outing is the EP ‘Knippe’, which is made up of four tracks of “atmospheric black metal from the Oslo forest”. Whilst we are inclined   to agree with such a definition when it comes to ‘Knippe’, there are a few more additional influences which also apply to this EP. Such ideas formulate once opening salvo ‘Hjemkomst’ gets underway and giving the impression of felling trees as it goes due to its razor-sharp, buzzsaw guitars reminiscent of the Jesus & Mary Chain’s debut ‘Psychocandy’. The incessant noise continues in similar compelling fashion during the mournful ‘Jeg Senker Mine Små I Jorden’ where guitars sound on a perpetual loop of white noise, and vocals sounding distant as they do close mainly because of its affiliations with some of the pioneers of goth music. Breaking through the dense layers of noise and edging in front for standout track is ‘I Natten, Under Stjernene’. Reasons for the tipoff is mainly down to its post-punk intro of guitars that bleeds into dark shoegaze only to fall back once more and then continue. In other words, it is an impressive seven+ minutes that needs to be heard. All the potential is there for lld to develop into more than a simple side project, if such intentions existed from the beginning, because with added variation, then there is no reason why a full album should not be a consideration given this VERY impressive start of black metallic gothic shoegaze from a secluded corner of the Oslo forest.


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Cliffie Stone – The Legendary Capitol Records Double Bassist And More!

Various Artists

Atomicat

With two previous titles bestowed to the greatness of Grady Martin and more recently Billy Strange, third album in this current series focuses on the work of Cliffie Stone. An absolute mountain of a man in more ways than one, the musical qualities of Cliffie Stone were not simply confined to his instrument of choice, the double bass, no, because in fact Stone was involved in five bands, performed vocals on many occasions, and managed to get the best out of his fellow musicians in the recording studio because of his creative skills, and for being a likeable figure due to his outgoing personality. Working wonders in the recording studio certainly paid off, and detailed here during the first eight tracks, with Stone leading the charge via different line-ups whether His Hepcats, His Orchestra or His Hometown Jamboree Gang. With Country and Western being the musical path trodden by Cliffie Stone for many of the songs, there are noticeable inclusions of big band influences to ‘Sugar Rock ‘n’ Roll’ for example. The inclusion of Bill Monroe classic ‘Blue Moon Of Kentucky’ will gain the attention of those with a keen ear considering a certain “King” who made a rather fine cover of this very same song. From there, expect instrumentals as ‘The Last Round – Up’, and songs with humour as the recently restored life of a bachelor ‘Dirty Dishes’, to nonstop food consumption of country ditty ‘Roly Poly’. With this album being an album of two halves, Stone’s involvement is that of several different guises where additional country musicians made their mark from Merle Travis to Hank Thompson, Skeets McDonald, and the uniquely named Shug Fisher to provide only a small handful of those Stone worked with and inspired. With so much music to his name, ‘Cliffie Stone – The Legendary Capitol Records Double Bassist And More!’ is only the tip of a large body of work, but one that offers a glimpse of an exceptionally large talent.


Released Out now

 

Racketeer’s Wildest Wingding!

Various Artists

Atomicat

For anyone looking for that perfect fix of rockin’ sounds, then there is no finer place to find such a home as Atomicat’s latest album series ‘Wildest Wingding!’. Adding ‘Racketeer’s…’ to its latest title, the listener will get a taste of familiar and less familiar names presenting themselves during the twenty-seven long track list. Getting off to a good start is always the right idea as The Raiders most certainly do with a solid slice of rock ‘n’ roll. One feature that is noticeable from this series of albums so far is the attention given to songs that provide something a little different when it comes to rockabilly and rock ‘n’ roll as the deep, and certainly different, vocals aired during rather excellent ‘Cherokee Dance’ by Bob Landers with Willie Joe And His Unitar. Moving on, the inclusion of artists with familiarity, but essential if you want to draw in the pundits are Clyde Stacy with ‘Hoy Hoy’, Johnny Powers With Stan Getz And Tom Cats and track ‘Long Blond Hair’, Lew Williams ‘Cat Talk’, and always essential for our money Sonny Burgess and not so obvious song choice, ‘Ain’t Got A Thing’. From such examples, the selection of artists and songs is like a fine box of chocolates with something that should appeal to those who yearn for nothing but rockabilly and rock ‘n’ roll in their record collections, but more notably for this compilation being an Elvis/Johnny/Eddie free zone, despite all their greatness, but a breath of fresh air for entering a different route and including instead John Worthan (‘The Cats Were Jumpin’), Rocket Morgan (‘Tag Along’) and Ray Melton and super tough song ‘Boppin’ Guitar’. Quite simply, ‘Racketeer’s Wildest Wingding!’ is packed with cool guitars and strong attitudes and quality tunes. More of the same please Atomicat!

 

 

 

 



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