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Not Knowing (Single)

Matchstick Men

Holier Than Thou Records

Gearing up for a brand new album release is Merseyside quartet Matchstickmen. With new single ‘Not Knowing’ being the first introduction to the forthcoming album release, it’s certainly a strong indication of the quality that fans of the band can expect at some point next year. Beginning with lead vocalist Lewis Wright’s crooning vocal and the acoustic strum of Iain Forsyth’s guitar, ‘Not Knowing’ builds slowly before the rest of the band, consisting of Peter Donnelly (guitar) and Dave Hornby (drums), wade in and really add muscle to the personal tale that is steadily unfurling. While “It’s better not knowing” may suit some when a relationship begins to turn sour, the same cannot be said of Matchstickmen’s latest effort as it is a song that is worth getting to know on a very close level.


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Beefhart High School Dropout

the Harvey Steel show

Safe & Sound Recordings

Transmitting their creative thoughts from the distant heights of Jupiter, the Harvey Steel show continue doing what they do best, and that’s following their own musical journey judging by the contents of latest EP ‘Beefheart High School Dropout’. Long may this continue because the fluidity of the creative processes of the Harvey Steel show continues to weave and work its magic, only this time around the band sound more a resident of planet Earth than the aforementioned distant neighbour. It’s the opening track that gives way to such a feeling with a surprising introduction via an instrumental that sounds as if it’s coming from a lonely bedsit while it works out its destination via Thomas Bergsten’s solitary guitar, and before the rest of the band decide to join in and add their input. Track two, ‘Hunting Shadows’, sees a gradual increase in temperature and sound where guitars, organ, drums and vocals fade in and out as well as crossing paths across a scorched earth, before building to an immense crescendo that is equally The Doors as it is Captain Beefheart. It’s a song that will go down as one of the band’s highlights, not to mention in a live setting, when the history books are written. Ending on another highpoint is ‘Running From The Law’, which is a thing of genuine beauty considering its association with the subject of murder, where instruments sound delicate and fragile and create genuine awe in the manner that Explosions In the Sky has made their own. No guns, No hatred, No war, only love for the Harvey Steel show. RESPECT!


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Supersonic Gal

Maryann & the Tri-Tones

Rhythm Bomb

There’s a storming racket blaring out of the capital of Estonia and goes by the name of Maryann & the Tri-Tones. With this album being a re-release of her debut album that apparently was restricted to a limited run, Maryann & the Tri-Tones are given a second bite of the cherry with their ‘Supersonic Gal’. Without a moment’s hesitation this second chance is seized upon via a succession of wild and rockin’ tracks that showcases a powerful set of vocal chords – having been known to draw comparisons with Janis Martin – and rockabilly soundtrack that is equally forceful. Breaking its way through from the off is the bitter parting shot of ‘Honey Baby’ with Maryann really impressing as she sheds this particular set of baggage. Impressing elsewhere is the clever manner in which some of the songs are knitted together and therefore provide a rolling commentary of the relationship(s) at hand here, where ‘I’m Moving Up’ appropriately follows the aforementioned ‘Honey Baby’ by reaffirming its independence and then seemingly mocking in superb style by incorporating a bit of Joe Bennett and Jimmy Denton’s ‘Black Slacks’. Classy, clever and cool Maryann & the Tri-Tones ‘Supersonic Gal’ is definitely an album worth owning.


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Get Up and Dance!

Various Artists

Rhythm Bomb

Compiled over five CDs is the latest collection of tracks taken from the stable at Rhythm Bomb Records. Arranged into categories consisting of Perfect for Parties; Boppers; Strollers; Jivers and Slow Down there’s definitely something here to suit fans of the genres of rockabilly and rhythm and blues. With this set following on from previous box set ‘We Got Rhythm’, there’s an incredible 125 tracks to consume and too much for one sitting! Representing more up-to-date releases with artists ranging from Aussies Hank’s Jalopy Demons (‘Damn Their Hides’); AJ & the Rockin’ Trio (‘She Do The Bop’); Twisted Rod (‘Booze Bop’) and The Starjays (‘Who Do You Love The Most’) to name but a select few, it’s pleasing to see bands and hear tracks chosen from the vaults at Rhythm Bomb with Gone Hepsville, Pete Hutton & the Beyonders, Chris Almoada, The Backseat Boogie, Mississippi Queen and Pep Torres. Limited to only 300 copies, and with far too much detail to reveal all here, ‘Get Up and Dance!’ is an essential purchase and another introduction to the array of bands releasing the goods at Rhythm Bomb. Now get going!


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Move Around (Single)

The Rockin' Combs

Enviken

Released as a 7″ vinyl and on all digital platforms, The Rockin’ Combs make their entrance with an opening bow of a cover of Groovey Joe Poovey’s ‘Move Around’ and a flipside containing a track written by Marcel Riesco from fellow rockers Truly Lover Trio by the name of ‘Pretending’. This is raw and primitive rockabilly straight from the 50s, well, 2016 actually, and that’s how authentic The Rockin’ Combs has made it sound! With this four-piece combo in the process of recording more songs for a long player, The Rockin’ Combs has started their career in fine style with this double slice of wild and authentic rockabilly.


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False Flag (Single)

Terrible Love

Big Scary Monsters

After releasing their debut EP ‘Change Nothing’ back in January this year, Terrible Love has been hard at it drumming up a new record that was added as part of a recent tour with fellow contemporaries The Fall of Troy and Tiny Moving Parts. The track itself falls under the name ‘False Flag’ and was recorded at The Ranch with Lewis Johns during the summer. With lyrics pertaining to the recent EU referendum and overall disillusionment with the final result , ‘False Flag’ is a fully charged assault of guitars that are equally raw as they are melodic and accompanied by gutsy vocals that came together during writing sessions for the follow-up to ‘Change Nothing’. With the single being issued as a limited edition flexi disc, time is of the essence if you want to follow a good cause and get your hands on this ‘False Flag’.


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Hard To Catch

Shakedown Tim & The Rhythm Revue

Rhythm Bomb

Rhythm and blues by way of Belgium finds a new artist to land on the scene by the name of Shakedown Tim & The Rhythm Revue. With fellow rhythm and blues artist Nico Duportal behind the helm in terms of production for this album release, ‘Hard To Catch’ comprises of nine out of ten original compositions (with one cover) penned by the band’s frontman, Tim, revealing a batch of clever and often witty lyrics set to a superb set of sounds supplied by the equally talented ‘Rhythm Revue. It’s not just the song writing skills, however, that compel as Shakedown Tim’s vocal is often persuasive with its coarse edges during opening track ‘How Long’ complementing the raw bluesy guitar and saxophone, before dropping down a level and providing brief comical moments via an exaggerated vocal bemoaning the difficulties held by the chase of a relationship (“This fish is hard to catch!”). If love is proving a touch difficult for this rhythm and blues combo, then their album ‘Hard To Catch’ goes some way to soothing any such inadequacies as it makes for the perfect partner to beat away the blues.


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Bang! It’s The Starjays

The Starjays

Rhythm Bomb

One for the rhythm and blues market is The Starjays and their current album ‘Bang! It’s The Starjays’. With the band proving popular Stateside, the duo of Angelatini and Roy Kay, the latter name serving as producer as well, power their way through a number of duets that are steeped in an authentic 40s – 50s sound. If you’re looking for immediate sparks to get you in the mood for the dancefloor, then take in the cruising piano of ‘Who Do You Love The Most?’ and following rollicking duo of ‘I’ll Wait’ and, living up to its namesake, ‘My Wild Gal’. Where ‘Bang! It’s The Starjays differs to other similar titles in this particular genre is that the singing duo of Angelatini and Roy Kay create a hefty advantage for themselves as the female/male dynamics lend genuine personality to the songs where emotions can ride high via the previously mentioned ‘Who Do You Love The Most?’, to the supremely confident ‘The Right Girl’ where (finally) the female perspective is given a fair hearing.


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Shake That Thing

Kieron McDonald

Rhythm Bomb

Fourth solo album for Australian Kieron McDonald who normally can be found fronting the Flatfoot Shakers. Latest album ‘Shake That Thing’ is pretty much business as usual with Kieron recreating a genuine rockabilly sound with leading contenders for such a description via the snappy twang of opening song ‘Rockabilly High’; the lonesome ‘The Knock On My Door’ which is instantly kicked into touch by the positive upturn in fortunes of ‘Goodbye Lonesome’, before pleading once more for ‘A Little Love’ in his life backed by a rockin’ rhythm. Such knowhow when creating a long player full of original material is largely down to Kieron McDonald’s longstanding when it comes to the rockin’ scene, only this time there is additional support and creative input from fellow Aussies Hank’s Jalopy Demons and Ezra Lee. It would appear that the additional input of these musicians has added to the slightly darker edges and wilder elements that have a habit of appearing at various stages (‘The Devil’s Eyes’, ‘I’m The King of The Road’ and ‘Why’) not to mention the piano trickery of Ezra Lee capturing an old-timey feel during the excellent ‘She Means Nothing To Me’. With such good company in the rear, Kieron McDonald doesn’t forget to shine as this is after all his stage and where you can hear his influence all over the reflective ‘She Thinks of You’ and relentless beat of ‘Go Go Girl’ for example. A full pot of original material and one that requires your undivided attention because ‘Shake That Thing’ is just that record to keep the rockabilly flame truly burning.


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Gone For Lovin

Vince & the Sun Boppers

Rhythm Bomb

Highly experienced in their line of work, Vince & the Sun Boppers issue a twelve-track album full of original material. Borrowing a couple of players from Dale Rocka and the Volcanoes and The Ballroom Kings, this is not entirely a newly assembled line-up as there have been previous releases elsewhere. The album itself has been described as capturing the sound and spirit of 1950s Sun Studio when music really was king. Fast forward to the present however, and such an assertion is justified when hearing the authentic rockabilly of ‘Gone For Lovin’ captured by producers Axel and Ike. Whether it’s the charming stroll of ‘Lone No More’ or the alluring draw of ‘Devil Eyes’ Vince & the Sun Boppers is a band comfortable and most certainly confident in their abilities as this music is quality assured. For those seeking their rockabilly with a bit more urgency, then ‘Gone For Lovin’ knows how to rock with the best of them as does ‘Dance With Sally’ which possesses a gritty edge throughout. The 50s originals can never be surpassed, and that is certainly not the intention of ‘Gone For Lovin’. However, Vince & the Sun Boppers do a fine job of recapturing that ‘special’ sound and energy with a series of tracks from a time now sadly consigned to the history books.


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Space Invaders

The Kings of Outer Space

Greystone Records

Having avoided the prospect of a truly gruesome demise via the walking dead in the heart of the West Country (see accompanying video to earlier single ‘Zombie Walk’), The Kings of Outer Space made their escape in order to add the finishing touches to their third long player. While it may seem business as usual considering the title of the band’s new album ‘Space Invaders’ – the obsession with UFOs and space travel continues  – this is a fresh start of sorts for The Kings of Outer Space as the band hail a new line-up, with frontman Giggsy being the sole survivor, as well as switching to a new home with Greystone Records. Despite the changes, The Kings of Outer Space remain difficult to pin down in terms of their overall sound, which is always a positive due to embracing elements from a variety of genres – predominately rockabilly and psychobilly yet with strong ties to post punk and to a certain degree mid-80s indie obscurities. It makes for a flavoursome musical fest without ever sounding muddled, but where latest album ‘Space Invaders’ differs from their previous albums is that you can hear a considerable amount of space between the ideas in the songs where ideas sound less hurried and the songs benefit due to being given more time to breathe. Despite these noticeable differences the band retain their identity as there is no seismic shift in style(s) as ‘Space Invaders’ still sounds like a Kings of Outer Space album with rockabilly running ragged through ‘Cosmic Boy’, to the almost western film score parking up during ‘Remainder Men’ that lingers long in the memory afterwards with lines such as, “When the sun goes down for the very last time, You’ll never see me again”. Bookending the other side of this is the garage rock of ‘Lucky escape’ that reveals an upturn in fortunes for the character at the centre of this song. It’s not all positive, however, as the title track attempts a similar sounding feat but, in the process, sounds tepid in comparison and tired as far as the fresh ideas go. Thankfully ‘Crocodiles’ snaps its heels and wakes up the creative department once more by way of the ska-driven beat and creative use of the title serving as a metaphor for the bitter side of life. ‘Ciao!’ reverts to film score territory once more only this time involving a duet with Giggsy and Lula D, and it’s a song that never pulls any punches when pointing the finger of blame for this particular relationship demise. Despite various similarities in sound, The Kings of Outer Space has delivered quite possibly their strongest musical statement yet, which benefits due to less haste but also by incorporating new ideas where the lyrics in particular take five minutes to live with humanity rather than partying with little green men from dusk till dawn. ‘Space Invaders’ could just be the ticket to launch a whole new series of missions for The Kings of Outer Space where non-intergalactic travel is just as essential as the missions to outer space.


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Blues Kitchen

Scott Taylor

Fetal Records

Sometimes during an album’s running order, there is a song that often stands head and shoulders above the rest. When it comes to Scott Taylor’s new album ‘Blues Kitchen’ such a song can be heard with ‘Tennessee’. A subjective opinion of course, but this reflective, slow burner of a song finds Taylor in wistful mode, vocal positioned right at the front as he tries to find his way back home and accompanied by a laidback rhythm. Stirring stuff and the great introduction to the world of the ‘Blues Kitchen’ which, outside of this particular track, has a habit of revealing new details that seemingly escaped one’s attention during its first few outings. Part of this is down to the album providing a real sense of warming up before hitting full stride with a succession of songs that speak of truths concerning relationships and the heartaches they can bring, but also great satisfaction as well. With Taylor himself describing this collection of songs as “unfiltered and strait [sic] from the gut” such a description is apt when hearing the tracks ‘Fussin and Cussin’ that is an irritable and prickly number greatly highlighted by Taylor’s vocal and the Blues Kitchen Cooks’ rhythm section of Tony Fazio (guitars), Charlie Sayles (harmonica) and Greg Phillips (drums). Following on, ‘Sweet Daddy Brown’ peps up the mood with a seemingly sweet rhythm, yet the narrative concerning its central character manages to hold an air of mystery right to its conclusion and makes for great listening . The blues continue apace with the compelling and down on its luck ‘Bad Company’ that reveals a few golden lines where “Even the door won’t open up for me because I’m bad company”, and wry humour of “Even the dog don’t come to me, He says I’m bad company” suggesting life’s fortunes really couldn’t sink any lower, with the grinding, moody tempo doing its best to add to the misery being expressed. The temperature soars during ‘Alabama Babe’ spiked with harmonica and guided by acoustic guitar and a vocal that sounds as if it’s slowly being compressed in an already tight space. Scott Taylor’s ‘Blues Kitchen’ is a personal album that never overcooks itself when it comes to expressing its emotions, due to the understated presentation of its entire contents which makes for compelling listening.



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