Posts tagged Review

Albums of 2014: 25-11

I’ll be honest, I checked out a far more music this year than usual in search of the album which would to the top of this countdown. But there was a distinct lack of big hitting rock monsters from an established artists, with disappointing releases from Black Stone Cherry, Foo Fighters, The Gaslight Anthem, F**cked Up ,Death From Above 1979 but to name a few, has typified my year. However that has given the Album of 2014 list a more diverse feel to it which is never a bad thing. The albums which have made the grade have done so with high praise from DoesItRock HQ.

Without further ado I present this 2014’s DoesItRock.net Album of the Year countdown. (As usual free from critical sneering and driven purely by honest love of guitars, drums and voices.)

 EP/Mini-Album) Hey Vanity – Blindfolds

Chelmsford based Post-Hardcore rockers released their first mini album after last years promising EP. Standing out from the crowd, they mix challenging riffs and razor edged guitars with stunningly catchy pop hooks.

 25) Toseland – Renegade

Former Superbike World Champion James Toseland turns his hand to rock by fronting his own hard rock band. Turns out he’s got a damn good rock voice. Backing this up with some tasty riffs and pop slanted melodies this album was an unexpected treat. Not exactly original and lyrics are standard fare, but they do rock pretty hard!

24) The Datsuns – Deep Sleep

The Datsuns whilst still lighting the classic rock canon have changed the fuse and gone Sabbath. Still packed with fuzz packed, riff heavy garage rock and roll but this album is darker in mood and tone. Such marked progression from a retro rock band is rare, hence it’s being celebrated here.

23) Orange Goblin – Back From The Abyss

Thirsty for riffs? These lumbering Stoner Rock mammoths deliver a earth shattering set of monster amp maxing anthems packed with pure guitar power. Uncompromising whilst retaining the accessible vibe of uplifting rock anthems. Worth thumping the head for!

22) Blues Pills – Blues Pills

Of all the current new wave of old retro rockers Blue Pills are by far the most dynamic and unique. Taking raw production values and a youthful vigour for blues they meld boisterous energy and drifting psychadelia to mind spiralling effects. At their best when flicking between loud/soft and slow/fast all whilst blasting our rawkus guitar licks and seductive vocals.

21) Slash – World On Fire

The legendary behatted Gibson Les Paul slinger returns with the greatest rock vocalist of a generation Myles Kennedy for another adrenaline fueled romp through the classic/hard rock songbook. Loads of quality riffs and guitars driving huge chorus’ as you would expect from 2 men on top of their games. But there’s too much slash being slash genericism for this to place higher, plus its waaay to long as well.

20) The Brew – Control

A concept album from this hard working British blues band tips the right scales on their latest album. Pop laced rock numbers with supremely catchy melodies and guitar hooks aplenty. Honest, addictive with true swagger and style. Amazingly its also recorded LIVE!!! Control throws of the shackles of overproduced rock and blasts out raw powerful rock and roll!

19) The Treatment – Running With The Dogs

Hard Rocker’s The Treatment’s latest album is packed to the rafters with pop friendly chorus’ and killer guitar hooks. Snarling vocals, thunderous riffs, and  bold steamroller energy reinforces their status as once of the best new classic/hard rock bands in the UK. Running With The Dogs is more radio friendly than their debut, but this doesn’t hinder this a stellar set of headline grabbing tunes which have grown into some of my favourites this year.

18) Audrey Horne – Pure Heavy

Exactly what it says on the cover, Pure Heavy! For their latest album these Norwegian rockers went all traditional metal with some startlingly good results. Songs are driven by diamond tipped melodies and huge booming chorus’s. Huge array of upbeat, uptempo and romper stomping anthems sure to set pulses racing!

17) Joe Bonamassa – Different Shades Of Blue

The premier blues man of the 21st century delivers yet another brilliant addition to his growing back catalogue. This is a more traditional LP, laced with soul, heartbreak and plenty of rhythm n’ blues to match. Guitar workouts are less prominent, allowing the fully backed songs to shine for themselves. One thing is for certain, the blues will never fade away while Joes’s in town!

16) Royal Blood – Royal Blood

Hype machine finally tunes into rock.fm! This Brighton duo produce some of the dirtiest bluesy riffed hard rock under the guise of cool scenesters, following in the trail og bluesy rockers previous Black Keys & White Stripes. The real winner on this album is the Production. Royal Blood pump out a magnificent racket which emanates stunning super-power from every conceivable angle. Whilst not the most inventive or best big scuzzed up rock around, it certainly the most stylishly polished.

15) Antemasque – Antemasque

Latest incarnation of alt rock legends Omar Rodríguez-López and Cedric Bixler-Zavala, sees them strip away all the unnecessary indulgences and focuses on high tempo, high impact punk infused rock. Antemasque married tight indie-rock songs with enigmatic vocal hooks, off-kilter clanging guitars and a knack for a nifty melody or two. A total change in direction from Mars Volta’s excesses, but elements creep back to keep us on our toes to ensure this is anything but a dull listen.

14) The Hold Steady – Teeth Dreams

 

Everyone’s favourite bar band is back to doing what they do best, weaving shaggy dog stories in and out of their melody-centric rock songs. Songwriting are every bit as good as ever, leaving you tied to the lyric book for the next quotable line. Bringing the focus back onto the harmonies and chorus’ has paid dividends as this is a return to their early career highlights.

13) Mean Creek – Local Losers

 

Indie rockers Mean Creek know how to write classic pop ditties and clearly also know how to throw caution to the wind. Its the intersection of the frenzied indie rock attack, punked up guitars, pop melodies and sugary sweet girl/boy vocal harmonies ensure a headline grabbing sound. Local Losers is a real rapid fire album of short sharp addictive tunes which breeze past leaving you humming them all day.

12) Manchester Orchestra – Cope

Manchester Orchestra’s twee indieness has been well and truely shattered with this “their big rock album” which succeeds with self-confident swagger at odds to their more normal introspective/subdued standards. The template is clearly let’s make Pinkerton 2.0, it almost a succeeds too! A combo of hulking indie rock noise, wailing guitars and tight insistent melodies is truly fantastic. I’m a fan of their new rawkus direction, but it won’t stay long seeing as the companion acoustic version LP Hope” is already out.

11) Against Me – Transgender Dysphoria Blues

The punk bands first outing after the outing of lead singer Laura Jane Grace (Tom Gabel) is a very important record. Bringing LGBT issues to the fore in an open, honest and raw way with Laura’s rough vocals opening a window into her former/new life. The fact that it’s wrapped in Against Me!’s usual pop heavy vocal harmonies and driven by some damn catchy upbeat rock numbers keeps you coming back for more. Transgender Dysphoria Blues is about as punk a record could be in 2014!

Stay tuned for the top 10 (sometime soon…..)!

 

Album Review: Free Fall – Power & Volume

New project of Soundtrack Of Our Lives guitarist is a lesson in how to rock hard right…

Free Fall – Power & Volume

RockOSaurus Says:

There are many hard rocking bands who list Led Zep & Ac/Dc as influences, but none go quite as far as Free Fall in their homage to the lords of Classic Rock as Free Fall. From the energy of the opening rollicking blues guitar riff of the title track to the last gravelly toned wail from Bon Scott’ish vocalist Kim Fransson, Free Fall are soaked in the kind of good times and vintage memories that only get better with age. Rock pedigree was never going to be an issue as their line-up is a true meld of Scandinavian talent from bands as varied as Lead Guitarist Mattias Bärjed (The Soundtrack Of Our Lives), drummer Ludwig Dahlberg (International Noise Conspiracy) with a helping hand from Graveyard’s producer Don Alsterberg.

There are a whole heap of riffs which are instantly memorable, stolen from the rock archives and given a new lease of life here on this brilliant debut record. They are adept at the straight up upbeat hard rock as displayed on both the title track and Top Of The World both sporting racing drums and equally pacy melodies, yet it’s the longer slower tunes where Free Fall have perfected their craft. One such epic is Attila, which begins with a simple palm muted riff which is totally foreboding  backed with a bright bass melody with occasional piano chords to add more sparse desert-like Stoner Rock vibes. It rumbles on like a impending storm, which results in an epic crescendo flooded with fiery guitars and shrieking vocals. This simple slowed riff trick is repeated a few more times on World Domination with its louder cymbal crashing wall of rock and Damnation which flies very close to Sabbath’s Haven & Hell completes this trio of big hitting beasts. Production nods firmly at the good old days of rock almost as much as the songs.

There is barely any filler here, with each song either containing another melody to bang head to, a guitar solo to admire or more often a jaw dropping display of vocal talent. If you like rock, you cannot miss this! Having already seen them live, I can report they are just as spectacular!

DoesItRock Overall Score: 9/10


Listen to Free Fall – Power & Volume now on Spotify!

 

 

Album Review: Richie Sambora – Aftermath of the Lowdown

Bon Jovi guitarist Richie Sambora is back with his third solo release:

Richie Sambora – Aftermath of the Lowdown

Richie Sambora’s fist solo release for 14 years shows a more personal side to the man behind some of the greatest rock anthems of the last 30 years, as he indulges both his guitar heritage as well as the slick production of Bon Jovi’s megahits.

Flying out of the blocks with a blast of retro blues swagger, the opening bars of Aftermath of The Lowdown are as steeped in Samora’s bluesy roots, as it is raw power. The painfully simple but effective effect drenched riff backed with high alarm like note wails, driving organs, a long forgotten extended emotional guitar solo and catchy vocal hooks sets the bar high.

What’s apparent, is this opening gambit, Burn That Candle Down, a vastly different song from his day job money spinners which sets the album out on a great trajectory. Which is why I was a tad surprised to find that the next tune tilts and fades towards standard jovi-esque balladry.

In fact this becomes a distinct theme throughout the album as songs flit from high octane hard rock numbers soaked in punchy blues licks and rollicking keys to Richie’s smooth soft pop rock crooners (even if the lyrical content is far from uplifting covering many unhappy memories including his divorce for one). The former however burst with vitality and insistent energy which is equal parts hard rock riffing, harmonic squealing and driving power chords. Nowadays layered power chords and Sugar Daddy’s na-na-na’ing riff driven riot showcasing the best this rich rawkus vein has to tap. The latter heard on Every Road Leads Home To You feels like just another Jovi ballad, as does much of the uninspiring tail end of the record. The pick of these lighter swayers being Seven Years Gone, a lamenting tale of woe which is both heartfelt and uplifting.

Only when the two approaches are combined does a true Sambora signature spark spring to life. Takin’ A Chance On The Wind, showcases this approach with a superb popped up mid tempo, almost country tune flexing  trademark fret board flashes of genius, smooth vocals and a powerful layered multi instrumental backdrop.

Sambora’s vocals are solid throughout and are probably at their best when effect loaded in the up-tempo mood. His soulful voice however does almost as fine a job as his partner in crime JB Jovi’s with balladry, only without those high notes.

This release has finely trodden the line of adding in early blues influences without alienating both Sambora’s core fan base of soppy ballad babes and bon jovi boys. In pleasing all, inevitably this leaves Aftermath of the Lowdown without top marks, but it has scored well enough in the ‘good time rock and roll category’ to warrant a firm recommendation for all rock, blues and pop lovers.

DoesItRock Overall Score: 7/10


Listen to Richie Sambora – Aftermath of the Lowdown now on Spotify!

Album Review: Foxy Shazam – The Church Of Rock And Roll

How does the follow up to doesitrock.net’s 2010’s Album of the Year shape up in 2012?

Foxy Shazam – The Church Of Rock And Roll

RockOSaurus Says:

Foxy Shazam have taken their foot off the gas on their latest LP, leaving post-hardcore and rip roaring glam-rock sprawled over the trail. Hence it’s no great shock to hear that their latest album curbs the highly energised oddball glam-pop prevalent on releases. As a result the tempo has been significantly reigned. Yet they have made up for this by producing a fine collection of super sing-a-long pop classics with eclectic songwriting and equally varied melodies.

This slackening of pace has given their melodies a chance to sit back, take a breath and enjoy the spotlight. Resulting in a much more focused pop record that falls ever further into the Mercury valley of Queen with its accompanying classic rock guitars and jaunty piano’s circling ‘The Church Of Rock and Rolls‘ vocal centric ideal. The Churchy theme is prevalent throughout with the recurrence of religious track titling, soulful Gospel backing vocals and confessional lyrics (see ‘The Temple‘, ‘The Streets‘, ‘Forever Together‘ respectively).

From the instant the guitars properly kick in, it’s clear as day that Justin Hawkins has played a huge part in his role as producer. The guitar tone is almost identical to his in-limbo band Hot Leg, no bad thing as it’s just so stonkingly rock and roll! The Hawkins brothers influence doesn’t end there either. The Guitar work on the excellent driving rock anthem Last Chance At Lovecould easily be a lost forgotten The Darkness classic, especially when Nally lift his fine falsetto skywards…it’s strikingly similar, yet definitely different.

Throughout this record the vocals are the centrepiece, with Eric displaying a fine range of smooth croons , anthemic chorus lines and window smashing pitch changes. Maintaining innovating melodies, rarely sticking to a certain style, or mood, or instrument ensures this album never gets tiresome as it’s forever on the move. Exhibit A, Holy Touch: a big gospel romp-a-stomper, Exhibit B, Wasted Feelings: full of dynamic guitars, cool vocal effects and trumpets, Exhibit C: I Like It: vocal centric with bombastic melodies.

So a more laid back Foxy have re-surfaced, but all the delightfully odd characteristics, bonkers eclecticisms and natural born melody making abilities that made them so addictive in the past, are still here for all to enjoy. My only gripe would be the final few tracks do not stand up to the quality of what came before it.

TCORAR is first and foremost a great little pop record, with hard glam-rocking tendencies spontaneously wrangling for the control switch. An early treat for 2012!

DoesItRock Overall Score: 8.5/10


Listen to Foxy Shazam – The Church of Rock and Roll now on Spotify!

Heaven’s Basement @ The Borderline

21st December 2012

As a little pre-Christmas gift from Heaven’s Basement, the boys decided to put on a donation only charity gig for Teenage Cancer Trust at The Borderline. Fresh from recording out in LA post signing a deal (hurrah!!! Finally!!!), they took this opportunity to test out some of their new material. Although, not before the supports had sufficiently warmed up the crowd.

Raven Vandelle

Raven Vandelle are a brummy Alt-Rock band who like a good detuned guitar riff or two. Songs were solid and the vocalist was pretty, good blasting out some impressive highs and rocker growls, yet there was something missing. The sparks failed to ignite their songs, as it felt everytime they should have cranked up one more notch, a slow grooved melodic guitar solo appeared. Mostly mid tempo was where they were at their best, but their lack of urgency faltered them. Promise shown, a little more work on the live set required.

Dear Superstar

A ha…Dear Superstar…we meet again! It was third time lucky tonight as i confess to really enjoying their set. Probably because their cocky front man got down to doing what he’s employed to do, sing! Less posing and more power in both their ethos and guitar work has paid dividends. Kicking in some flashy duelling guitar lines while retaining a melodic post-hardcore feel, gave their new songs a lift, showing them to be a pretty damn good rock muscle machine. Vast improvements have been shown by this band, their transformation is remarkable.

Dear Superstar

Back from LA, the laid back sunshine state has taken away none of their enthusiasm as they fire straight back into action with Tear Your Heart Out, leading the charge. The venue had filled up considerably as a swollen sea of faces had arrived for doesitrock.net favourites Heaven’s Basement. Fledgling singer Aaron has come along way since his last performance. He was assured, confident and assertive as he strutted around stage with vigour and purpose (he even managed a stage dive late on).  But yet again his vocals didn’t feel strong enough to overpower a Marshall backed assault, yet through the softer moments his voice shined (despite his hair not resembling a cross between Toploader and the hair bear bunch).

Heaven’s Basement

The most surprising vocals of the night go to superstar axe man Sid Glover (who’s up for a Pure Rawk Award 2012 alongside Drummer Chris Rivers!!), when his snarling tongue got to grips with the sleazy thunder roaring number Paranoia. I would even go so far as to say they were best vocals of the night! Backing this claim he sung another new tune brilliantly, showcasing his vocal prowess even further.

Sid Glover

The new tunes aired this evening had a definite bluesy swagger to them, such as the slightly oddball lyric’d Green Elephant. Its foot stomping riffs and soaring vocals showed a slightly more mature sound…although the flaring guitar solo was unmistakably another HB classic.

Aaron Buchanan

So their new songs sound great, their image has been overhauled, they have signed a record deal with Red Bull Records, their live shows are as kick ass as ever…finally the Heaven’s Basement boys are starting to fulfill their potential. Look out! As they ready themselves to unleash a well overdue assault on the UK Hard Rock crown!

Album Review Shorts: Bear Cavalry – Maple Trails

Short & sweet album reviews that never miss the point…

Bear Cavalry – Maple Trails

Just in case you were feeling down as the days shorten, the nights grow longer and the depths of Winter start to take hold, Bear Cavalry’s latest sampler EP is here to raise the spirits. A surefire summer album which is bursting with multi instrumental vitality, beautifully versatile vocals and melodies to get your calypso on to. These tunes spring with energy and life wildly springing from spiky post punk guitars and African carnival vibes on Custom Hands while the lead track Roman Summer spins intricate melodies sprinkled with electro fizzes and a euphoric chorus. Despite the eclecticism on show, all the elements fuse together well including some unexpected surprises on Will Smith Solves The Rubik’s Cube..sombre verse, trumpet blowing chorus and indie toe tapping disco? Who knew?

There is a lot for the pop fan to love here. A splash of Little Comets shaken with some Kooks on a sandy wash of impulsive guitars will bring a dose of summer rushing right back up the aural canal! A highly promising EP.

The Rapture @ KoKo

3rd November 2011

For a band of The Raptures influence, widespread appeal and substantial fan base it was with confusion that we arrive in Camden tonight. For we were not headed to The Roundhouse, neither The Electric Ballroom. Instead we’re greeted with the words ‘Sold Out’ plastered over the foyer of KoKo as we sought refuge from the harshly precipitous London Skies. This venue seems to get smaller with every visit and tonight was no different, stocked to the guilds with disco Derek’s and indie Irene’s. As it turns out the venue and the supply of reasonably priced (& chilled) beer were not the only things in short supply tonight.

The non publishing of their ‘Special Guests’ certainly got the crowds in early with the possibility of a one off unmissable performance. Not until you are over the threshold and beyond the ‘No Re-Entry’ signs is the secret revealed. The special name emblazoned on the lineup posters read…’Citizens’. Who? Clearly this was a shameless attempt by KoKo to get the punters in. As much as I like to bait the HMV Forum, at least they always display the set times outside. plus their beer is somehow cheaper and not poured haphazardly from lukewarm cans.

Citizens

After hearing Citizens soft high pitched vocalist from the bar I was surprised to find a bloke camouflaged as 80’s retro wallpaper. His homeogenous vocals fit their simple but uncannily catchy electro melodies and energised indie pop. Youthful and fresh, these guys music was mature way beyond their juvenile years. Combining uplifting melodies and repeatum clean guitar riffs they put in a solid performance.

The Rapture

From the get go, The Rapture‘s effortlessly cool vibes washed over the gently swaying crowds. Their sharpened clattering post punk guitar riffs combined with the kind of drumlines which tap subliminally into your feet, forcing them to dance dance dance!

New material was well received, it’s poppy angles and hook heavy vocal harmonies sending rolling waves of laid back coolness. The age old indie weapon, ‘the cow bell’ was particularly effective tonight at getting us all to strut our funky stuff.

It was the older classics which packed the most clout with The Gang if Four styled Echoes, party starter Whoo! Alright – Yeah…Uh Huh and the House of Jealous Lovers that gave birth to the cool indie dance-punk machine.

It was soon after these got their plays that The Rapture retired for a ‘well earned’ break. A 45 minute set…ok, that’s cool because that irritating poster said its a 2 hour performance. One song later and the sound of dismayed punters was clearly audible over the PA as the lights went up and we got booted out! Now I’ve been to quite a few of these shindigs before and I know 51 minutes for a headline set is pretty damn short! With a stunned feeling of injustice burning deep inside we headed for home.

The Rapture despite their shortened efforts formed a fantastic pocket of cool disco inflected indie in Camden tonight.

Album Review Shorts: The Trews – Hope & Ruin

Short & sweet album reviews that never miss the point…

The Trews – Hope & Ruin

RockOSaurus Says…

Canadian east coasters The Trews have not hit the UK shores as hard as they deserve with their pop rock and roll combination of precise guitars, tender ballads and all round good time tunes. Hope & Ruin is doing its damned best to change matters. This being their 4th LP, nothing too greatly has changed since last time out, but their knack for writing upllifting feel good rock songs underpinned by huge vocal bellows and infectious melodies remain strong. They have mixed up melancholy, mid-tempo and mega-sized thoughout making this a varied album with wider pop audience appeal. Though they have not distancing themselves too far from the rock crowd with thumping tunes such as opener Misery Loves Company and the powerful wah wah riffed People of the Deer. It can be a little too plodding towards the end, but with the majority of songs presented in such enjoyble pop packages it’s easy to overlook.

8

Album Review Shorts: The Subways – Money & Celebrity

Short & sweet album reviews that never miss the point…

The Subways – Money & Celebrity

RockOSaurus Says…

Former garage rockers step out into the limelit world of celeb culture for their third spunky pop LP. Showbiz, money and fame all get a lyrical flow which fails to really grip the listener. In essence it is only those fickle glossy mag flickers who might! It’s a good job then that each tune is overflowing with melody and pop craft. Urgency and tempo rages on Kiss Kiss Bang Bang,  super catchy vocal harmonies line Like I Love You and rippin’ garage guitars are scattered throughout We Don’t Need Money To Have A Good Time . Like Celebrity itself, this album is easy to criticise for it’s superficial and attention grabbing outlook. But In this case, it plays as a major strength throughout this strong collection of uplifting pop rockers.

7

Album Review Shorts: The Horrible Crowes – Elsie

Short & sweet album reviews that never miss the point…

The Horrible Crowes – Elsie

RockOSaurus Says…

Gaslight Anthem frontman’s side project is a deeply sombre affair, something which hugely suits his fantsastic lyrical character creations. With the throttle lifted it’s the focus on soulful rasping vocals and poetic musings that resonate the strongest. The wide ranging use if softly picked country guitars and organs give Elsie a lounging gospel feel of comfort despite its powerful emotional clout. The right balance of mood is struck throughout with Go Tell Everybody, one of a handful of bright noisier tuneis polar opposed by the almost confessional groove of Ladykiller. A darkly passionate and vivid album full of honest warmth. No more that could we expect from the heir to Springsteen’s throne!

7.5