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Artificial Natural

The Kokomo Kings

Grime Tone

A culmination of Scandinavian neighbours – Swedish and Danish to be precise – joining forces to carve out the largely blues influenced, with moments of rockabilly, that is ‘Artificial Natural’. Starting in fine fashion is the authentic rockabilly-blues of ‘Wrong Doing Woman’, which picks up a steady pace before letting the apron strings fly with some red-hot guitar that is equally complimented by the interesting spin of the narrative with the central protagonist being female (for a change) and possessing an unhealthy love affair for deviant behaviour. Elsewhere, ‘Hook, Line and Sinker’ plays a game of cat and mouse to a lively tempo and drawing more on a straight blues influence. There is humour present with ‘She’s So Skinny (She Can Hide Behind A Fishing Line)’ that is also a reflection of the changing nature of the generational eras that suggests a big difference in terms of the one these Kokomo Kings reside in mentally, and the one they actually find themselves in. Such a theme is taken up once more with the title track ‘Artificial Natural’ that finds the aptly-named Harmonica Sam severely scratching his cranium in a bewildered state due to an increasing trend for cosmetic enhancement. The charm offensive of ‘Charmageddon’ opens the door to rock ‘n’ roll, as it’s a riotous affair of guitars and harmonica with a flair for dark humour, “She’s so evil, she’s banned from hell”. A chance discovery, The Kokomo Kings ‘Artificial Natural’ is a thrilling ride of rockin’ blues with aspects of rockabilly and rock ‘n’ roll, and one that is extremely perceptive of the changing nature of modern society as the band’s wicked sense of humour reveals. There is nothing artificial to report when it comes to The Kokomo Kings.


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Heart’s On Fire (single)

Passengers

Sony Music Norway

Beautiful as it is tender, there are no surprise revelations from Passenger (Mike Rosenberg) and new single ‘Heart’s On Fire’ as it offers a straight confessionary tale of one’s burning desires for another played to an acoustic guitar and various strings. With a new album on the horizon entitled ‘Whispers’, ‘Heart’s On Fire’ is not only a reminder of this man’s talents, but a strong indicator of the indie-folk sounds to come.


Released Out now

 

Bookburner (single)

This Sect

Sect Appeal Records / Diger

Accusations of philistine rightly abound and no doubt fuelling new single ‘Bookburner’ from Norway’s This Sect. Being described as ‘post-punk with disco tendencies’, This Sect is the kind of band that deserve to be clutched tightly to one’s chest as they resuscitate memories of a dying breed of bands, often the staple during the 80s despite remaining on the fringes of any music scene and holding a strong social conscience. ‘Bookburner’ fits such a description with its jagged rhythm, 80s sounding guitars and anxious vocals which all suggest nothing but a tantalising prospect when the full-length player is set for release next month. Clearly rubbing against the grain as far as fashion (yawn) is concerned, This Sect is one that is worth taking note of because their relevancy in the present state of things is more vital than ever.


Released Out now

 

Floating Blood Of Mine (single)

Sleep Party People

Riot Factory

Denmark’s Sleep Party People return with a new single ahead of a full album release planned for the end of May 2014. ‘Floating Blood Of Mine’ reprises the long overdue return musically of 90s shoegaze, and one of the pioneers of this particular sound The Cocteau Twins, as Brian Batz – the man behind the moniker – dreams up an instantly memorable soundscape full of drifting and soaring guitars complete with a thin veil of vocals that greatly compliments the vapour trails of sound left suspended in the atmosphere long after this song has ceased spinning. With two critically acclaimed albums behind Sleep Party People, the third chapter looks set to continue this trend considering the emotive sounds emanating from ‘Floating Blood Of Mine’.


Released 11 April

 

Gå som det her

Bøgdabråk

Bøgdabråk Records

Returning with a fresh set of country rock ditties from the Norwegian county of south Trøndelag, Bøgdabråk has steadily built up a name for themselves on the live circuit, as well as maintaining their roots with the traditional ‘trønderfest-culture’ that is particularly special to the inhabitants of Trondheim and surrounding areas. With two albums already behind them, Bøgdabråk release album number three ‘Gå som det her’ which consists of eleven tracks delivered in specific dialect from the band’s main region. Central to the creative compositions of this latest album is vocalist Leif Inge Hopstad, who has not only penned all of the songs but contributed production duties as well with producer Tony Waade. The end result is an album with energy in abundance as clearly displayed by the driving opener ‘Han der’ (‘Him There’) and ‘I kveill’ (‘This Evening’); the latter of which packs an addictive chorus and the perfect accompaniment of female backing vocals and fine guitar work that sees Bøgdabråk clearly enjoying themselves. The Bøgdabråk tempo is taken down a notch during the ballad ‘Håp’ (‘Hope’) and exquisite delivery of ‘To på natt’ (‘Two At Night’) that finds Leif Inge Hopstad in superb form vocally. The energetic and catchy guitar thrust of ‘Vinterland’ (‘Winterland’) and equally matching ‘Sånne Kara’ (‘Kind Kara’) are good enough to grace a Tom Petty album, if ever the need arises, because Bøgdabråk have a knack of churning out memorable, hook-laden country rock songs that reside long in the memory bank once ‘Gå som det her’ has ceased playing. Catch the band live on their forthcoming tour in support of this inspiring new release as Bøgdabråk cannot fail to disappoint considering the overall quality of ‘Gå som det her’.


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Next Plane (single)

Alida

Sony Music Norway

Alida is currently the name causing a stir as far as Norwegian radio is concerned and the reason for increasing levels of interest on certain media playlists, which has seen this songstress from Jæren in Rogaland rocket her way to the top of the pile with this follow up single after the much-admired ‘Feathers’. Clearly, ‘Next Plane’ was built around Alida’s charismatic vocal as it ushers in from the start the rest of the components of the song – comprising of subdued yet atmospheric electronic beats – while remaining deep in reflection as the realisation dawns that a saviour is not emerging anytime soon. The next stop for this rising new talent is a mini-album, which is a tantalising prospect considering the lofty heights ‘Next Plane’ has already set. Watch this space.


Released Out now

 

My Silver Lining (single)

First Aid Kit

Columbia

For those who missed the much-touted album ‘The Lion’s Roar’ from sister duo and Stockholm-based First Aid Kit, then a second helping is in the offing with the imminent release of ‘Stay Gold’. Ahead of this new album release, however, is new single ‘My Silver Lining’ that is blessed with sumptuous strings, heavenly vocals and interesting turns with lyrics purporting to anxieties being “as big as the moon” as the troubles experienced seem to outweigh any hope for a silver lining. An inspired choice as far as first singles go, First Aid Kit look set to continue their previous successes judging by the quality of ‘My Silver Lining’.


Released Out now

 

Out Among The Stars

Johnny Cash

Sony Music CMG

Discovering ‘Out Among The Stars’ was definitely the equivalent of striking oil for the first time during the Gusher Age in Texas in the early 1900s. The reason for such enthusiasm marking this latest discovery of forgotten Johnny Cash studio recordings is for the simple reason that the twelve songs listed (track thirteen being a remix) here have never been released before, making this album a brand new product rather than a rehash of previously released material with the usual bonus additions of demos, outtakes and alternate versions. The songs making up ‘Out Among The Stars’ were originally recorded in Nashville in 1981 and 1984 with Billy Sherrill controlling production and contributions by way of June Carter Cash with ‘Baby Ride Easy’ and ‘Don’t You Think It’s Come Our Time’, as well as Waylon Jennings lending vocals to Hank Snow’s ‘I’m Movin’ On’. The discovery itself is credited to John Carter Cash – the son of Johnny Cash – who happened to chance upon the songs in the vaults of Columbia Records after many years of neglect until now. Indebted for this wonderful find, ‘Out Among The Stars’ is a solid body of work and a welcome addition to the musical legacy left by Johnny Cash.


Released Out now

 

Jump into The Midnight Ball!

Dale Rocka and the Volcanoes

Rhythm Bomb

The mood of this first ever album release by Dale Rocka and the Volcanoes is definitely one of celebratory, as suggested by its title and visually explicit by the ultra-cool artwork gracing its exterior. At the heart of the album’s rockin’ contents, however, is some real cool cats who remain hell-bent on letting their hair down after a fifteen year stretch that has seen countless live performances and various recordings, but never as a four piece until now. So without further ado, ‘Jump into The Midnight Ball!’ is all you can do because its rockabilly rhythms are simply irresistible and will have you moving those limbs until the early hours, such is the relentless pace. The preparation for the festivities at hand starts appropriately with ‘The Midnight Ball’, which has a touch of Bill Haley & His Comets about it, and serves as the ideal ‘warm up’ for what’s to follow. Dale Rocka – real name Massimo Rocka who is responsible for the majority of the songwriting – and his explosive cohorts reveal their wares without any hesitation during standout track ‘Bad Blood’ with its gritty guitars sounding borderline garage rock and Dale’s vocal reminiscent of Darrel Higham on occasions. There is a real glint in the eye with the superbly titled ‘Mama Bring Back (My Blue Suede Shoes)’ that contains a subtle humour, despite being down in the deep end, and reveals the band’s creativity to a large extent, especially when it comes to failing to namedrop the song’s title at every opportunity, which is a refreshing addition. ‘Rag Mop’ is nimble on its feet with a frantic yet light(ish) sounding rhythm and skilful guitar that is brought to the fore. Taking the festivities down a notch, yet remaining consistently compelling with its grungy guitar sound and distortion in the vocal, is the whipping into shape demands of ‘That’s Why I Tell You’. Such advice is soon forgotten, however, once the inventiveness of ‘Remember Last Night’, with its amusing touch of giving the impression of an ‘extra voice’ trying desperately to recollect the morning after the night before, is played out to a brisk tempo and shuffling rhythm. Dale Rocka and the Volcanoes have just had one hell of a party with ‘Jump into The Midnight Ball!’, the good news however, is that this particular midnight ball is open and available to all, and it is one that will not let you down.


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Jukebox Daddy

Billie and the Kids

Rhythm Bomb

Hailing from Zagreb, Croatia, the posse that is Billie and the Kids – seven members in total – return with their second long player that is packed with even more resolve than their first outing. The impact of the Kids’ second album ‘Jukebox Daddy’ is immediate, as lead vocalist Ana Klabucar – aka Billie – bursts out of the traps with the appropriately named ‘Scorched’ in a vocal that will stop you dead in your tracks due to its immense power that sounds one moment doused in kerosene and the next dripping in honey, either way the Kids’ front figure is truly blessed because this is a vocal to die for. Where this album differs to its predecessor is the high volume of original material that is proudly announced in the sleeve notes and rightly so because there is a genuine sense of nostalgia captured as ‘Jukebox Daddy’ revives, to great perfection, a 1950s rhythm and blues sound that is moving and shaking for all to witness in 2014. The rumbling boogie of ‘Your First Kiss’ and lead track ‘Jukebox Daddy’, that once more parades Billie’s impassioned voice (Ah, the sound of those rolling notes!), are but two examples that encapsulates everything that is right about this album when it comes to recreating an authentic 50s rhythm and blues sound. Part of this magic is down to the proficiency of the musicianship, but also for the significant role bassist Jurica Stelma performs with regard to the band’s songwriting, as his prolificacy in this area is crucial to the wealth of original material littering ‘Jukebox Daddy’. If your life is crying out for a faithful rendition of rhythm and blues that has just jumped straight out of New Orleans by way of Zagreb, then you have come to the right place as Billie and the Kids is peddling a deeply rousing and rhythm shaking version of this very genre that will bowl you over.


Released Out now

 

Roots Man

Levi Dexter

Dextone Records / Rhythm Bomb

Levi Dexter was last seen bringing the house down at Camber Sands to a manic tempo courtesy of his rhythm section that had this legendary singer weaving and boppin’ til almost the wee small hours. The inclusion of Levi Dexter as one of the main attractions at the Rockabilly Rave last year was an inspired decision, as was Rhythm Bomb Records to add the rockabilly Hall of Famer to their roster. Mustering a collection of rockabilly and rock ‘n’ roll numbers with a light smattering of original compositions penned by the man himself, Levi Dexter’s ‘Roots Man’ is an enjoyable ride and one that is blessed with impeccable taste. Kicking off with the title song ‘Roots Man’, Levi reveals his affection for the very scene that inspired his own musings but in the same instance pays homage to a number of its pioneers ranging from Elvis Presley to Chuck Berry. Larry Donn’s ‘Honey Bun’ spins out at considerable pace, reviving memories of the aforesaid grand live performance, before slowing immeasurably and, in the process, following the correct ‘How to…’ manual when it comes to reconstructing a song as expertly shown with the Cochran/Capehart composition ‘Completely Sweet’. This is where Levi Dexter appears to thrive, however, as further covers consisting of a rockin’ version of Jack Guthrie’s ‘Oakie Boogie’, to a modern yet authentic sounding choice via Bob Butfoy’s ‘The Man Who Counts’ and quite literal translation, considering the jittery tempo, of Hank Penny’s ‘Hadacillin Boogie’ all display a willingness to reach for the creative button rather than simply going through the motions of producing an exact replica of what has gone before. That is not to say that Levi’s own material is not without merit because ‘Boppin’ Bernie’ is easily at home with the record hops of the 50s due to its faithful delivery, but there is further cause for celebration with the darkly humorous ‘Cannibal Party’ that is completely unexpected and a welcome addition due to stepping outside of the usual obsessions concerning girls and cars. Overall, ‘Roots Man’ is a terrific tribute to several of the original records of the 50s rockin’ scene that will appeal to those who prefer a mainly covers album, but also provide the perfect tonic for those seeking a bit more creativity.


Released 21 March

 

Man O’ War EP

Orbo

Grappa

Norwegian west coast artist Orbo (Ole Reinert Berg-Olsen) reappears after a few years away with a four-track EP ‘Man O’ War’. Serving as a prelude to a full album release in September this year, ‘Man O’ War’ is the first collection of songs to make use of the English language since the critically acclaimed ‘Prairie Sun’ in 2010. With the promotional banner declaring the Orbo sound as genuine handmade rock ‘n’ roll, and this being a fair description considering the man behind the moniker Ole Reinert has written the entire contents and played a large hand in the production along with band member Reidar F. Opdal, there is definitely more than a hint of Americana, however, regarding the four songs making up this latest EP. First track ‘Deadlock’ sets the wheels in motion, bringing to mind the alt-country rock sound of Tom Petty with its acoustic guitar and pacey rhythm that has an immediate appeal set against an intriguing narrative concerning the alluring qualities of the opposite sex, but beware the honey trap. The mood is reflective during ‘Time To Move On’ with the lead vocal really claiming the song, set to a more restrained beat including piano that works accordingly while the song laments a relationship that was doomed from the start. There is much to enthuse over with the tender ballad of ‘Sleep Through The Night’ which sets up the grand finale of the title track appropriately as ‘Man O’ War’ genuinely gives the impression, by way of its rhythm section, of the initial steps of a journey that has set sail for a distant horizon of its own choosing before reaching its destination via some red-hot guitar. Judging by the consistency and quality of all four tracks making up ‘Man O’ War’, September looks set to be an important month in the Orbo calendar.



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