Album Reviews

Filter :

Released Out now

 

L.A. Sunset (Single)

The Crowleys

Bandcamp

The Crowleys open their account in fine style with the song ‘L.A. Sunset’ that radiates a glorious sound and more than matches the L.A. sunset held in its title. Beginning in a haze of shoegaze guitars that recalls The Cocteau Twins without a shadow of a doubt, the four-piece band from Hamilton, Ontario, proceed in similar fashion only the influences broaden with mainly dreampop and psychedelic references taking hold, yet there are leanings towards surf rock as well. ‘L.A. Sunset’ is the kind of single that is made for those seemingly endless halcyon days of summer, and one that evokes more recent artists MGMT and Empire of the Sun where both achieved similar feats with the kind of sun-kissed indie psychedelic pop that The Crowleys are touting in 2017. Long may these rays of sunshine continue via The Crowleys and their definition of ‘L.A. Sunset’.


Released Out now

 

pt. 1 (EP)

Cal

BMG / WAS Records

Having praised the single ‘Paranoid’ from the rooftops earlier in 2017, Norwegian singer-songwriter CAL continues where the former single left off (included here as part of the EP). By adopting a new alias and setting real name Frida Amundsen on hold for the time being at least, the new direction CAL is pursuing is one largely steeped in pop music, but one that is less concerned with the frothy commercialism of the mainstream as ‘pt. 1’ represents something far more detached and isolated. Such instances can be heard during opening track ‘Charlie’ that is full of melancholy and icy beats and suffers from a heavy dose of rejection. The following ‘Fragile’ suggests comparisons with Kate Bush and Tori Amos in the vocals, and offers lines such as, “If I had a super power, I would get myself a break,” giving way to the idea that a severe breakdown in communication of the relationship kind has occurred, but at least the chorus offers some solace as it melts the senses, especially via its glorious backing vocals. ‘When I Grow Older’ is the lighter of the bunch with a far more instant and catchy appeal that provides balance to a very good EP.


Released Out now

 

Baby Come Back (Single)

BO

XOLOVEBO

Artist and pop singing sensation, BO, arrives on the scene with a brand new track ‘Baby Come Back’. With a moody and atmospheric haze hanging over this latest release, no doubt brought back from a stint in the Nevada dessert where the accompanying video was filmed, there is a real tendency to get lost in the dreamlike qualities of ‘Baby Come Back’, not simply for the aforementioned atmospheric elements, ably demonstrated by the vocal delivery as well, but as a result of the lyrics mourning the end of a close relationship. Maybe there is a chance of reconciliation for BO, but after repeat visits ‘Baby Come Back’ is all this artist will need in order to move on from this particular chapter. A surprise addition to the reviews bundle this month, ‘Baby Come Back’ is the perfect companion for the final few weeks of summer.


Released Out now

 

Here Again

A Will Away

Triple Crown Records

Grab yourself a rather large pot and throw in the ingredients of pop, punk and alternative rock with a little emo, and then stir continuously until you solidify the mixture and come up with A Will Away. Such a concoction is music to our ears because the melodic tunes, combined with raw emotions that A Will Away seem to churn out effortlessly, run aplenty throughout the band’s album ‘Here Again’. With opening song and title track ‘Here Again’ full of nostalgia that tugs at the heartstrings via its tuneful melody and Matt Carlson’s sweet and raw vocals, the band’s latest LP gets off to a perfect start. It can be said that there is a definite scent of Jimmy Eat World to a number of the tracks available here, most notably ‘Pay Raise’ (which is deserved of a wage increase such is its brilliance!) and the summery guitar sounds of ‘Agoraphobia’ where the anxieties expressed are brought out in a splendour of melodic tunefulness that then runs into a similar feat supplied by way of the vocals, only the soreness expressed is sometimes a bit more evident (see previously). There are occasions where A Will Away tend to run down the same musical avenue (‘Better Reluctant’ and ‘Well-Adjusted’), which is something Jimmy Eat World had a tendency to fall victim to, leaving one to ponder that perhaps bands of this ilk would be better served with EP only releases. As it stands, ‘Here Again’ possesses enough saving graces via several of its concluding tracks; namely the glorious ‘The Shakes’, ‘Gravity’ and ‘Into The Light’ to help weed out any familiarity felt, and therefore leave a feeling of contentment rather than abject disappointment.


Released Out now

 

DNAR (EP)

Never Train

Secret Entertainment

Recalling classic rock bands of old where the likes of Aerosmith, Guns N’ Roses and AC/DC dominated the airwaves for a period of time, Finnish rock band Never Train revive such memories with their latest EP ‘DNAR’. Power chords are certainly alive and well throughout the three tracks on offer; expertly handled by dual guitarists Rauli Hämäläinen and Juuso Kekkonen with Kimmo Nieminen providing authentic vocals that give way to the previously mentioned rock references Never Train recall. Pick of the bunch is ‘First We Live’ that, despite its full throttle momentum, reveals much detail the further one investigates. Given the definition of “street rock” by its press release, such a description is befitting of this five piece, who sound raw around the edges as well as the finished article, therefore suggesting Never Train has the hunger and desire to go all the way, in addition to possessing the technical abilities to stay out on top.


Released Out now

 

Black Aura

Viper Arms

Concorde Music Company

Turku, Finland, is the location where you will find all-female fronted group Viper Arms and their debut album ‘Black Aura’. With the band taking inspiration from their hometown and the Aura River that divides it, Viper Arms combine a hardedge rock sound with profound lyrics reflecting feelings of despair and loneliness mixed with sleazier ingredients that make up the standard rock ‘n’ roll cocktail. However, far from this album being a clichéd affair, Viper Arms blaze a trail from the start with the driving beat and forceful vocals of lead singer Niina during ‘Time Bomb’. If that wasn’t enough to raise the hairs on the back of one’s neck, then the aforementioned vocals really dig their claws in throughout ‘Lucky 7’, puncturing the surface of its thrash laden rhythm and then continuing to hang on for dear life before hollering nearing its climax, “You’ve got the lucky seven”. Phew! It’s breath-taking stuff. The pace eases once the excellent, and certainly more melodic, ‘To The Wolves’ enters the fray, only to revert to the thunderous tempo from before with the lyrically frivolous ‘Sugar Rush’ that steamrolls by in a blur of electric guitars. Thankfully, Viper Arms understand the notion of balance when it comes to writing and recording an album because ‘Everything Nothingness’ provides such diversity with its ballad-esque qualities that also extends to the (pop) rock of ‘Black Surf’, ‘The Worst Candidate’ and reflective ‘Crossing The Border’. There is one final sting in the tail of this album however, and that arrives via the thrash rock of ‘Sightseeing To Hell’ that will leave your jaw gaping and finger poised to hit the repeat button once this song concludes. Viper Arms may have a few anxieties to deal with, but they’re certainly tackling them head on via a combined effort of steely determination and philosophical reflection that is rolled out evenly throughout the contents of ‘Black Aura’.

 


Released Out now

 

Happy People

Freedom Fuel

Secret Entertainment

For those who are familiar with the Finnish alternative-rock scene are likely to be aware of Freedom Fuel considering all three band members have appeared in other acts such as Blake, Species and Spiha. But it is the new offering from this underground rock trio called ‘Happy People’ that we are concerned with, and one that compels from start to finish via its ten tracks. Kicking things off is the wonderful (albeit brief) static crunch of guitar of ‘Leave It Behind’ that escalates into a melodic indie rock tune and fine vocals via Teemu Holttinen where the whole package is eerily close to The Call’s ‘Let The Day Begin’ from the late 80s. Following track ‘Dirt In The Ground’ is darker in comparison, and plunges to deeper depths where gothic horror is applied lightly around its edges. Solid alt-rockers continue the albums momentum via the excellent ‘Let Them Go’ and ‘Good Intentions’, only for Freedom Fuel to reveal a broader range of creativity where more arty indie-rock crosses with swamp blues, grunge and borderline sludge rock during such songs as ‘I Can’t Come’, Ghost Before Me’, ‘MOTPFE’ and ‘First Hand’. There’s definitely more mileage in this trio as indicated by the strong, and more often than not, diverse contents of ‘Happy People’ that suggests Freedom Fuel has a bright future ahead.


Released Out now

 

Narrow Road Of Memories

Stiffy Jones

Sound Pollution

Adopting a more American outlook in more ways than one, Swedish export Stiffy Jones issue new album ‘Narrow Road Of Memories’ via Sound Pollution Records. With a heavy dose of Springsteen’s blue collar observations, and similar in sound to the more recent Gaslight Anthem, not to mention any number of punk rock bands that heavily littered the music scene during the 90s where punk and rock music had a habit of melding tightly together, Stiffy Jones may not be reinventing the wheel but what they produce during latest album ‘Narrow Road Of Memories’ is to be highly commended. Look no further than the rolling tumbling rhythm of ‘Disconnect Me’, to the boisterous chorus of ‘Once This Car Starts Moving…’, and supplemented by the contemplative and rather excellent ‘Echoes’ to grasp a good understanding of what this band is all about. Full of honest emotions and laced with driving rhythms, ‘Narrow Road Of Memories’ is a welcome release in 2017.

 


Released Out now

 

Damage and Joy

The Jesus and Mary Chain

Artificial Plastic Records

Returning after a nineteen year absence, the Reid brothers, Jim and William, re-emerge with new album ‘Damage and Joy’. With a lot of their old tricks still present in this current set (i.e. fuzzy guitars rubbing shoulders with slower acoustic numbers), ‘Damage and Joy’ gives the impression that the Reid brothers absence has been a mere few months and not the aforementioned lengthy period after 98’s ‘Munki’ album. Therefore, with the wheel failing to be reinvented with The Jesus and Mary Chain’s latest release, ‘Damage and Joy’ is almost an overview of their entire career but one that is told through two wiser (?) and definitely world-weary heads where fuzzy pop numbers replace the wails of feedback of previous JAMC albums. Early indications of where your money should be placed in terms of definite highlights include the reworked ‘All Things Must Pass’, and followed by two glorious duets ‘Song For A Secret’ (featuring Isobel Campbell) and ‘The Two Of Us’. Lighter in noise yet still likely to ruffle a few feathers with various barbs contained in its lyrics, ‘Damage and Joy’ will be familiar to longtime followers of JAMC as well as being an enticing prospect for those less familiar because it’s a solid body of work that offers a lifeline to the JAMC to fully resurrect their career.


Released Out now

 

Spirit

Depeche Mode

Columbia

Still on the treadmill, Depeche Mode follow-up 2013’s Delta Machine with their fourteenth studio album under the title ‘Spirit’. With James Ford (Artic Monkeys, Foals) producing, the boys from Basildon continue where they left off with more dark electronic rhythms and a series of lyrics that show they still care. First single ‘Where’s The Revolution?’ provided one such example that is a reaction to the troubled waters we find ourselves swimming in with no apparent opposition on the horizon; something of which is identified by Depeche Mode when singing, “Come on people you’re letting me down.” A deluxe version of the album ‘Spirit’ is also issued alongside the standard format with the difference being a twenty-eight page booklet containing exclusive artwork and photos, in addition to five remixes of tracks worked on by Depeche Mode, Matrixxman and Kurt Uenala. Still producing the goods, Depeche Mode show their relevance in 2017 with the highly recommended ‘Spirit’.

 


Released Out now

 

Once I Was A Lion (Single)

Mad Machines

Bandcamp

Falling between pop and a bluesy rock rather than the “Disco and punk” label applied to the latest addition from the Mad Machines stable, ‘Once I Was A Lion’ is an accomplished single with a creative set of lyrics oddly inspired by Disney’s The Lion King and dreamt up by vocalist and guitarist Jordan Lassalle. The aforementioned pop and blues rock influences running through ‘Once I Was A Lion’ are certainly Rolling Stones inspired, especially the harmonised backing vocals that breeze along rather nicely. A fun loving single most definitely, and one that suggests Mad Machines should be shadowed closely regarding their next creative endeavour because ‘Once I Was A Lion’ is a clever and catchy reintroduction from this five-piece band from Toronto Ontario, Canada.


Released Out now

 

Bonehead

Rückwater

Secret Entertainment

Rückwater make a return with latest EP ‘Bonehead’. With the band offering a predominantly raw and uncompromising stoner rock sound, coupled with occasional smoother passages that highlight the depth at the heart of this three-piece unit, Rückwater give a thorough account of themselves over the duration of six wild and wonderful tracks. From the distorted few bars of country tinged guitar that opens out into a full-blown affair of stoner rock supported by strong vocals, ‘Once More With Feeling’ is the perfect track to air the grievances felt by Rückwater. From there it’s a melange of garage, punk rock and metal via the frantic twitching of ‘No Gain’, before flipping its mood to the drifting tone and rather excellent ‘Labyrinth’. The universal theme found during ‘Super Frustration’ lives up to its title by offering a short and dramatic kick to the ribs by way of a full throttled assault of drums and guitars. The title track almost follows a similar pattern to ‘Super Frustration’ only the sound is more expansive where freedom is given to the guitars and the vocals more clarity. Rückwater display their experimentation further during final track ‘Flame Doesn’t Cast A Shadow’ that fluctuates between stoner rock and shoegaze and shows them as a band to be truly reckoned with. It’s a full star rating for Rückwater and their latest EP ‘Bonehead’ as the genre of stoner rock doesn’t come more recommended than this.

 



Back To Top