Album Reviews

Filter :

Released Out now


Thee DB3

Thee DB3

Drum Monkey Records

A newly formed trio Thee DB3 release their debut album of the same name with the promise of “top fuelled garage rock and slick surf sounds” via the creative hands of three gentleman drivers. With their journey beginning from Portsmouth’s coastline Thee DB3 is hell-bent on kicking up a racket, which starts with album opener and appropriately titled ‘Devil’s Driver’ that does its best to outsmart and outmuscle its (race car) opponents to the tune of a dirty and beat-up guitar sound. The notion of three drivers with the upmost etiquette is soon redundant once ‘Dragstrip’ roars into view, and then continues its mission on a buzzing guitar trail, abrasive vocals and pounding drums that make its claim for the number one spot in quite aggressive fashion. In fact, there’s no room to breathe during this opening bow of tracks with the grit and grime continuing to fly upwards from the tracks, foot placed firmly on the accelerator, as Thee DB3 maintain the excitement and ratchet up the tension by way of the magnificent instrumental ‘The Swan’, before running the guitars close to burnout with the double delight of ‘Might Be Dead’ and ‘Volcano’. The intriguing title of ‘The Men From Building 7’ throws up another instrumental that is all about the surf side of guitar rock and is over before you know it. There is a whiff of potential single alert and chart entry, if there is still such a thing, with the pop influenced ‘You Will Be Mine’ that certainly has a habit of remaining lodged in the senses largely due to its addictive chorus. It’s a strong candidate for song of the album, largely due to its different approach, and one that will end up on repeat play without doubt. With ‘Thee DB3’ clocking in at fourteen tracks, it’s not unfair to suggest that a slight trimming of such a lengthy playlist might have been a wise manoeuvre considering that familiarity starts to rear its head (i.e. ‘Shot Through The Heart’ and ‘Red Light Fever’). That said, a difficult decision for Thee DB3, especially when ripping up a storm that is probably as close to performing live as one can get (‘Motorbike & Sidecar’) that suggests this garage-rock trio are passionate about their craft and certainly not going to give it up too easily. And why would you when the majority of this debut album’s contents are as thrilling and riding on the edge of its very own seat. A confident beginning and one that packs a real punch, Thee DB3 are a talented unit with a debut album that is firing on all cylinders.

(Thee DB3 album is available to listen to and buy at the following link:

Released Out now


Midnight Blue (Single)

The Crowleys


Canadian indie psychedelic outfit The Crowleys return to the fold with a new single, and follow up to the sublime ‘L.A. Sunset’ released a only few months ago. The latest recording sees The Crowleys take their sound and vision into the night air largely due to a severe bout of insomnia as ‘Midnight Blue’ is referred to by the band as “where your mind takes you on a sleepless night” and therefore where they currently find themselves. There is no suggestion of lethargy here, despite the lack of rest as the tone of the new single is rather upbeat where a surf guitar sound maintains freshness throughout and one that shines brightly with the other thousands of stars held by the night sky. The specialist skills of a cryptographer are required however, when attempting to decode the song’s lyrics (It’s always a good idea to make the listener work for their listening pleasure) as The Crowleys make use of a vocoder to give voice to the robotic figure central to the band’s music video that accompanies the single ‘Midnight Blue’, which imaginatively captures the notion that there is lot more going on behind the exterior of anyone’s facial expression. If anxiety and loneliness are the key emotions being subtly suggested here, then The Crowleys apply the same approach to their latest release by expertly handling such feelings behind an engaging and upbeat tempo that is ‘Midnight Blue’.

Released Out now


Hiding Places (Single)

Rain On Monday

ROM Music

Following on from the debut single ‘Kill My Love’, Swedish artist Rain On Monday (Raimond Nurmilampi) replies with a second single under the heading ‘Hiding Places’. By combining an extremely thin layer of 80’s pop sheen with darker shades more associated with the bleak winters of his hometown of Kiruna, a small mining town situated in Sweden and one that lies above the Arctic Circle, Rain On Monday manages to balance the different shades of emotions expertly via combined instrumentation of acoustic guitar and synthesizers. With latest single ‘Hiding Places’ produced by Thomas Harsem (Still Parade, Intergalactic Lovers, Neele Ternes et al), the pop rhythm that propels this song is definitely the chipper side of this latest single, with Rain On Monday’s gruff tones bemoaning what sounds like the demise of a relationship with suggestion of unrequited love from one side of the equation responsible for its downward slide. In spite of the sadness of the words expressed, there is suggestion of an imminent rainbow on the horizon where the current misfortune will be transformed into something positive because ‘Hiding Places’ may be the sound of rainfall yet the sun is also shining.

Released Out now


For Those About To Love

Benjamin Finger

Flaming Pines

Hats off to (probably) the hardest working artist, DJ and producer on the planet, Benjamin Finger, who pops his creative head above the parapet with his umpteenth album that must be close to rivalling the high output set, and still ongoing, by American experimentalists, The Residents. The latest addition to the Norwegian’s catalogue of ambient mood pieces is ‘For Those About To Love’, which focuses on that very subject of its title but, more noticeably, the emotions leading to the very potential of this subject. With hints given in the song titles from ‘Lipstick Shades 1’ to ‘Eyeball Humidity’ where preparation can be everything but also not quite the outcome one hopes for when expectations falter considerably, the approach Benjamin Finger assumes in relation to his latest album is certainly all about preparation. With a real piano, as opposed to the electronic kind, wheeled out once more after working so well during previous album ‘Ghost Figures’, ‘For Those About To Love’ begins its journey from a near empty barroom waking up from the night before, and then proceeds to take its next steps out in the open and blinking in the sunlight, until becoming lost in a fog of scratched electronica and wispy vocals, such is the uncertainty expressed via  ‘Lipstick Shades 1’. The mood reverts to a darker tone (similar to previous long player ‘Motion Reverse’) during ‘Midnight Wolves’ with its futuristic sounding beats giving the impression of scanning for any sign of life or potential threat depending on your own interpretation. Taking a different turn, however, is the brighter sounding ‘Ultraviolet Light’ with its stronger use of vocal sounds, which is repeated during the excellent ‘Transparent Mind’ that exposes a whole array of thoughts continuously spinning on a carousel of sounds.  Always a difficult prospect to define in its entirety, due to the shifting shades of colour when it comes to emotions expressed by the electronic instrumentation used throughout here, not to mention the new surprises and experiences found with each and every listen, but it is the manner in which Benjamin Finger balances these various shades of colour by instrumentation (in particular the gorgeous ‘Melanphony Waltz’ complete with acoustic guitar) that sets up ‘For Those About To Love’ as one of his most complete works to date.

Released Out now


Games (Single)

Gundelach (feat. Ary)


Steadying himself for his upcoming full debut album release, Norwegian artist Gundelach (first name Kai) sets free latest single ‘Games’. By working with fellow artist, songwriter and producer Ary, Gundelach managed to find the rhythm he was looking for after the pair listened to a batch of techno records, in addition to a Juno 60 synth being introduced that led to the bass sound filling the verses of new single ‘Games’. A few hours later and the song was finished in terms of structure and lyrical content. The final decision was made by Gundelach himself, and that was to complete the job at home in his own studio with ‘Games’ ending up a self-produced record, and a first for this Norwegian artist. The final result is an atmospheric and at times minimalist piece of work that incorporates elements of pop music and techno and one that sits rather comfortably under a neon lit LA landscape. In other words, ‘Games’ would’ve been a definite candidate for the soundtrack of Nicolas Winding Refn’s Drive had it landed a tad sooner. That said, it’s not difficult to comprehend the kind of quality and company Gundelach (featuring Ary) and new single ‘Games’ is residing in.

Released Out now


Fine Line (Single)

Jimmy Smash

JimmySmash DA

Jimmy Smash comprising of mid-twenties pairing Håvard Lyngstad and Mikkel Graham Guttormsen from Fredrikstad, Norway, cite some rather interesting and eclectic influences when it comes to producing the sounds rattling around inside their collective creative tank. With references to America’s urban districts mingling with aspects of their own upbringings, not to mention taking inspiration from the likes of Quincy Jones and Bon Iver to name but two of their musical heroes, the Norwegian duo certainly like to add much detail in terms of their own compositions. Take latest single ‘Fine Line’ that is wrapped in a lyrical content that is of the personal and confessional variety yet remains at a distance due to reservations of being misled when hearing the slightly camouflaged messages coming from this song. The musical backdrop of ‘Fine Line’ radiates a shimmering light of pop music mixed with R&B that is every bit as tender as the words spoken. With ‘Fine Line’ being written and produced by Jimmy Smash, and therefore applying a full hands-on approach to this, their second single, based on this evidence it would seem that these Norwegians certainly have a bright future ahead of them.

Released Out now


Black Heart Music

Ben Rath

Eilean Records

With his living quarters based in Manchester (UK), Ben Rath constructs his ambient compositions by using original recordings of guitar, keyboards and piano, in addition to samples and field recordings. New album ‘Black Heart Music’ follows on from previous recordings Rath has made via a variety of record labels since 2014, as well as recording under the pseudonym Slow Heart Music in 2017 with the final result being an EP of improvised acoustic guitar tracks. With ‘Black Heart Music’, Rath has constructed an album full of ambient textures that can be coarse in sound one moment to more soothing and airy passages the next. The atmosphere can be quite bleak in places where a swarm of grainy synths exist in one instance, only to pass and give way to the picking of acoustic guitar strings and lighter passages of sounds the next. However, the fog of samples utilised is never far away yet less harsh in its execution where the overcast mood from before is represented in gentler tones as mentioned earlier. ‘Black Heart Music’ is straight out of Manchester where its climate and (urban) landscape have played their roles in shaping the influences heard between the layers of this long player, which certainly makes for compelling listening.

Released Out now


Pyro (Single)

Stale Lane

Concorde Music Company

The duo of Tomi Salmi (vocals/guitars) and Sami Vuollekoski (guitars/vocals), otherwise known as Stale Lane, start their journey with their debut single ‘Pyro’. The opening track from Stale Lane arrives ten years after Tomi Salmi and Sami Vuollekoski’s previous band, MALfUNCTION, decided to call time on that particular musical chapter. Therefore, with time on their side to ponder their next move, it wasn’t long before a decision was reached, with the new project up and running and where Salmi and Vuollekoski currently find themselves under the heading of Stale Lane. Such a decision to start afresh immediately pays dividends for the longstanding bandmates as Stale Lane’s ‘Pyro’ proves to be an engaging alternative-rock track that warms its hands immediately via a buzzing guitar intro that opens out into an impressive lead that weaves a pattern between the moody vocals and main rhythm section. Think Chris Cornell, Pearl Jam and with one or two parts borrowed from Nirvana and you’re somewhere close to the sound and vision that ‘Pyro’ aims for, which really is a good place to start, and one that Stale Lane achieves admirably for this first outing.

Released Out now


Erasures And Displacements

Bill Seaman

Eilean Records

After a two-year absence, Bill Seaman continues his exploration of “structured improvisations” via his latest album ‘Erasures And Displacements’. By working with a computer and the audible program Ableton Live, Seaman works from his own and/or contributed musical libraries of improvised material, which are then edited via a cut and paste method of sorts and then, once entered, are often erased and built up once more using a “…new set of musical relations” by use of the aforementioned Ableton Live. A web of complexity without doubt in terms of its making, and consisting of a lot more details behind its creative processes than has been described here, ‘Erasures And Displacements’ takes its time and gradually builds its layers without ever over spilling its contents where piano can often be heard and the faint waft of horns (trumpet, cornet, flugelhorn for example) interspersed with various snippets of sound samples that never sound fragmented and work cohesively as a whole. A difficult task no doubt, but one that has been painstakingly pieced together by Bill Seaman and worth every step because ‘Erasures And Displacements’ is an enthralling body of work.

Released Out now




Secret Entertainment

A four-piece unit from Finland, Rylos return with second album ‘Planet’. The band’s sophomore effort follows the success of debut LP ‘Game Theory’, which recently received its official release in China. With changes in personnel happening where Rylos has seen new recruits drafted in and, in particular, drummer Misca Muhli whose story is all the more remarkable due to being blind since birth, the sheer determination of this band is probably enough in its own right to bring them continued success. However, ‘Planet’ is likely to continue such good fortune as the nine tracks on offer reveal a heavier and more aggressive side to Rylos yet links to their earlier work remain present, which will please any loyal followers. Part of the newer touches heard on ‘Planet’ are down to singer Mikko Heino’s former band Doodah where a decision was made to resurrect two of their compositions – ‘Posthuman Power Station’  and ‘Into The Gutter’. Furthermore, the addition of guitarist Mikko Hämäläinen, who was also a member of Doodah, has helped spice up the song writing by applying his skills to the likes of ‘My Capricious Heart’, a song of near epic proportions, as well as writing new material along with Mikko Heino in preparation for Rylo’s third long player. With much variety between the layers of ‘Planet’ (‘Stories’, ‘Space Love’ et al) and songs hinting at concerns of an environmental nature mixed with a general sense of loss, Rylos has managed to remain on course to bring their new album to light as well as looking to the future with a third album already in the works. ‘Planet’ is the sound of a hardworking band and one that is revelling in its current period of creativity.

Released Out now


Hearts On Fire (Single)


Secret Entertainment

Lovingly described as “experienced EDM producers, DJ’s and hermits”, the Finnish partnership of two childhood friends from a remote and rural region of northern Finland, conjure up a sound that is pure 80s pop mixed with heavy use of synths and references to (according to their press bio’) “Italo-disco” or perhaps, more accurately, European electronic music. With this latest release by KOSAN being a double A-side single, it becomes clear why the duo made such a decision considering the strong merits of both tracks. A comparison of the two reveals that ‘Hearts On Fire’ possesses a more up-tempo rhythm made up of bright and shiny synth sounds complete with electronic drums, intermissions of eighties guitar and machinelike vocals. The flipside, ‘Important Nights’, is a slightly more sombre affair that gives the impression of being very reflective with its moodier and late-night tones and, interestingly, for containing a break approximately halfway through that steers this atmospheric electronic piece in what sounds like a change of direction. Very impressive indeed.  A strong, two-track single that bodes well for the rest of KOSAN’s journey via electronic synth pop if they so choose to accept this option.

Released Out now


House Of Cards (Single)


Snakehand Records

Having graced the UK Top 40 back in 2007 with their single ‘In The City’ reaching #33, which proved an incredible feat considering the single received no industry support or radio airplay as well as the band remaining unsigned, Lahayna reintroduce themselves in 2017 with a brand new single titled ‘House Of Cards’. One reason for this indie five-piece putting the pieces back together is due to the unfinished business of their debut album remaining unreleased, despite being written and recorded. More significantly, however, the aforementioned single, ‘House Of Cards’ touches on the issue of suicide in young people after songwriter Matt Edun lost a close friend to suicide and therefore a collective decision was made by the band to donate all proceeds from the single to the UK charity PAPYRUS, which serves as a means of prevention and support for all those affected by this issue. By raising awareness to the problem of suicide in young people, ‘House Of Cards’ is also a magnificent piece of work musically, beginning with a gentle guitar intro and the delicate vocals of James ‘J’ Ullman before opening up into a stirring ballad full of melancholy yet beautiful nonetheless as rays of light desperately try their hardest to break through the cracks of sadness expressed throughout. ‘House Of Cards’ is a song to be extremely proud of creatively and, more importantly, for the great service it is providing in its support of such an important charitable organisation. Top marks.

Back To Top