Posts tagged Reviews

Albums of 2014: 10 – 1

The countdown continues with the Top 10 Albums of 2014…

10)  Weezer  – Everything Will Be Alright In The End

After all this time Weezer are still a good as ever on their latest LP. Looking backwards to blue In a good way, focusing on those fabulous understated college pop melodies, cool for being uncool vibes and as ever their dash of special doo-waah hooks. Packed with witty and self mocking lyrics, it’s also quite a fun listen also. But with chorus’ like these, destined to be stuck in your head all day, It’s not surprise it’s been such a success!

9) Marmozets – Weird & Wonderful Marmozets

Like a true abstract collage of pop, math, metal and punk all on a broad canvas of youthful energy and disregard for the rules….this is perfect modern rock! Erratic swerves from all out aural assaults to complex technical riffs, scything synths, pop punk gang harmonies and spiteful screeches. Also shows huge songwriting potential on some impressive piano rock balladry too. Exciting new talent which like to push the boundaries.

8) The Smith Street Band – Throw Me In The River

Akin with Frank Turner or Hold Steady verbosity, The Smith Street Band’s latest is steeped in poignant, poetic and passionate lyrics. Lines you sit learn and scream out at live shows like nothing else exists. A spectacle of raw honest, open hearted tales both world-weary and awestruck that captivates from the first line to the last chord. All the while the ever melodic alt rock back-flips from dour picked strings to all out thrash outs via exuberant melodies almost as impressive as the vocals. Truly Captivating!

7) Grand Magus – Triumph & Power

Triumph & Power is as collosal as rock gets. Evoking images of Vikings plundering the frozen wastelands of Scandinavia, knights riding to death or glory and scenes of epic battles past. Galloping riffs, giant melodies and a knack for catchy chorus’ only serve to elevate this above 2014’s kings of hard rock.

6) I Am The Avalanche – Wolverines

Wolverines is a rampaging pop-punk record with gnarling flashes of hardcore punk coursing through its veins. Encapsulating this vibe are the stand-out vocals which soar and snarl in equal measure, howled with real intensity and vigour throughout. Emphasis here is on all out punk attach with a clean polished punk rock sound with all the pop boxes ticked for good measure. Huge sing-a-long chorus’s, Check. Simple but effective power chords, Check. Enigmatic vocals, check. Gang Wow-ohhs, check. A packed LP of fist aloft anthems, waiting for widespread appeal!

5) Cloud Nothings – Here & Nowhere Else

Clocking in at a blistering 31 mins 24 secs the raggedly lo-fi garage punk of Cloud Nothings barely stops for breath. Exhausting energy bounds throughout charting the demise of a relationship is one of the most openly honest lyrical outings this year. Despite this, it has to go down as one of the most high octane breakup records ever penned. Lightning punk strikes, exhilarating drumming and machine gun lyrics fuel what’s a true out of control joyride of indie rock prowess. Uncontrollable but unstoppable!

4) Destrage – Are you Kidding Me

 

Destrage mix a unique concoction of Diamond tipped metalcore, off kilter math riffing, punkish tempo’s and accelerating and twisting melodic phrasing brings the most eclectic explosions of 2014 (occasionally all within the same song). Dance and dub heavy electronic surges and erratic tempo changes makes this album totally unpredictable, shifting from politically charged acid tongued vitriol to big chorus’d melodic chaos punk. Can be pretty heavy in places but the screams and the cleans are both do well balancing anger and enigmatic qualities. Whilst varied, the album is (somehow) cohesive and the fun/crazed lyrics (“We shoot zombie’s in the face” anyone?) match the unrestrained vibe of a band at a creative peak.

3) Black Pistol Fire – Hush Or Howl

Two men, One Guitar, One Drum kit. the simplicity and effectiveness of execution which elevates this retro garage blues ablum above the pack this yeat. Doing Blues soaked rock better than anyone else like a former White Stripes or once a Black Keys these guys have enough vintage vibes crossed with an abundance of corking riff heavy tunes to make his a rip roaring bonafide modern blues classic.

2) Märvel – Hadal Zone Express

Above all else Marvel’s latest has brought the most whimsy and fun to 2014’s rock roster, harking back to the glory days of the 70’s hard rock of Thin Lizzy and the garage rock revivalists of the early 00’s. A pure pop rock album infused with rock and roll blood pumped along at a fair gallop. Focused upon creating inventive but addictive riffs and a constant stream of singalong songs means Hadal Zone Express both excels in rocking hard and captivating the popular ear. Beware the Danish Rush as these (gimp-esque) masked Scandinavian retro rockers are coming for you too!

1) Johnny Foreigner – You Can Do Better

Whilst not breaking their scatterbrain indie rock mould, JF have produced their most consistent and enigmatic album of their career to date, Mixing the melodic musings of Wifi Beach with the ramshackle riff-meisters of Shipping, there is so much to fall head over heels for. Never a dull moment as each song ducks and dives in its unique JF way where noisy clattering guitars somehow combine to form addictive melodies. The JF boy/girl duelling vocals again are both sweet, smooth and edgy highlighting the irreverent but addictive lyrics. A heady and pulsating adventure in indie-rock which has climbed to the top of the 2014 DiR.net mountain.

That’s all folks…2015 here we come!

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 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

Datarock @ The Garage

3rd October 2011

There is a good reason why clubs are empty on Mondays, and that’s because they fall on a Monday. Tonight we’re in for an 80’s inspired retro night of disco-beats and danceable rock in the sparsely populated Relentless Garage.
The brave few who decided to turn up early for the support band (us included) were not rewarded with a great upcoming talent. Instead we had a Norwegian Duo with two names, two set times and two instruments (Guitar and MacBook Pro). It was tough to tell the difference between their 2 bands Syntax TerrOrkester and Baetur because they were both totally devoid of merit, end of. A very slow start!


Baetur & Syntax TerrOkester (Spot the Difference?)

Thankfully the London based dark pop band Scanners were here to liven the drab scene. Deep and melodic indie rock guitars suited the vocals of Sarah Daly who howled and yelped her way though a lively and emotionally wrought set. Mixing up twinkling chimes and chasm-like guitar reverb they struck an overcast sound that could pull both the heart strings and the ‘let her rip’-cords. Packing in plenty of cool tunes such as the sweet Baby Blue, darkly acoustic Salvation and the firecracker set closer Raw these guys turned round the nights fortunes.

Scanners

Soon the crowd swelled with red tracksuit’s in anticipation of the headline act, who burst on to stage in their own matching set. Datarock, looking like 80’s fools they kicked into their unique tongue in cheek disco mayhem. Yet something wasn’t right. Whether it was the sparse crowd, the over the top calls to go crazy (on a monday!), the sound balance (low guitars and non-existent bass) or just poor performance, the set was not going well for these norse dance vikings. Yet in one divine moment of inspiration it all changed…

“Everybody come in close (we know its a Monday) but please we have a 360 camera and were gonna film the video for our new song California”

I an instant the vibe changed from social club toe tapping to hedonistic clubbing heaven. Following up this with the introduction of Happy Mondays Dancer Bez and Guitarist Kav, guesting on a hypersonic and massively extended version of Fa-Fa-Fa, this was the shot in the arm this show needed. From here they never looked back, adding more and more urgency with their relentless party tunes including I Used To Dance With My Daddy and their biggest hit Computer Camp Love.

Datarock
Returning from a short set break, I witnessed what I can only accept as a dream. Their drummer led a karaoke version of the cheesiest song that has ever…or will ever exist, I’ve Had The Time Of My Life! It was complete with band members jumping into the crowd to lead the tune and they even managed to throw in the Sax solo to boot. But like I said. I never saw it. It didn’t happen. I didn’t embrace the cheese. I most definitely did not sing along ;)


Bez – “doin the MADchester Dance

Nevertheless, crime to music everywhere ignored, this was a thoroughly enjoyable set from a fun time band who never take themselves too seriously (if that wasn’t obvious enough already!).

Album Review: Heaven’s Basement – Unbreakable EP

New studio E.P. from the Heaven’s Basement boys, led by new vocalist Aaron Buchanan.

Heavens Basement – Unbreakable E.P.

Unbreakable Cover

RockOSaurus Says:

A turbulent ride it has been, but finally Heaven’s Basement have put voice, guitars and drums to tape and have recorded a large part of their live set list, perfected over the last few years. This is easily their most accomplished and varied album to date, displaying both the raw rock power and melodic prowess throughout each jubilant fist pumping anthem.

Title track and album opener Unbreakable is a fury filled statement of intent as it unleashes a barrage of expertly wound guitars pummelling their way through many euphoric all out attack crescendo’s. The tempo, relentless and the driving bass/drum assault is unstoppable. Mixed in with some good clean vocals, angst fueled screams and a big chorus chant, an early highlight. Paranoia screams exactly that. A dirty scuzz rocker with wickedly pointed vocals from guitarist Sid. It’s the double combo of the deep and fuzzy power chords interspersed with buzzing harmonics that gives this tune its addictive bite and snarl.

This 7 track EP has very little in the way of filler with each track providing something different to enjoy. Whether it’s the funked up off kiltered blues riff on Close Encounters or the soft/loud/louder dynamics of shout-a-long pop rocker The Last Goodbye this is a mixed up bag of hard rock unlikely to be far from the repeat button. However vocals are often to be found too low down in the mix, easily becoming dwarfed by the mammoth music engine room. A difficult balancing act with some fine tuning required.

Where they have really thrown caution to the wind is on the new boundary crossing ballad Let Me Out! This superbly crafted song shines brightest as a huge step forward in their sound. It’s dark and sparse bluesy licks are restrained and purposefully beautiful which only increase the impact of the return of the loud thumping guitars for the rousing chorus line. The solo throws wailing bends like a high mountain pass and screams emotion through Sid’s six overdriven strings almost as much as Aarons hearty howls.

There is something very retro about the album closer Leeches. A bouncy riff machine gun fires off hooks at breakneck speed somewhat reminiscent of their founder band Roadstar. Of course HB have dresses it up in darker clothing and upped the throat shredding vocal shrills, but long term fans and classic rockers a like will find much to love about this rampaging closer!

Unbreakable is their just reward from relentless touring and have produced a cracking record of massive melodies, heroic guitars and kick-ass attitude! Never ones to throw in the towel, Heaven’s Basement will now surely realise the potential, obliterating their rock underground shackles once and for all!

Heaven’s Basement are playing High Voltage Festival this Sunday 24th July in Victoria Park.

RockOSaurus: 8.5/10

DoesItRock Overall Score: 8.5/10

Listen to Heaven’s Basement – Unbreakable now on Spotify!

Buy Unbreakable E.P. at the iTunes store:

The Jim Jones Revue @ KoKo

15th April 2011

From the get go this evening, it was clear we had taken more than a couple of steps back in time. Slicked back haircuts, leather jackets and vintage dresses galore…we had landed in the 50’s! With rockabilly’s as far as the eye could see we headed down to catch the sole support act tonight, Lewis Floyd Henry.

Lewis Floyd Henry

Floyd was a tad more modern in his musical style. His one man band hopped forwards just 10 years in fact, as he blasted out 60’s roots blues, with mesmeric results. He was a totally charasmatic, instantly likable figure with quirky tendencies and a real sense of humour. As he stomped on his tiny little bass drum and cymbal combo he crashed out some fittingly retro fuzzed up bluesy riffs with personality! Think Seasick Steve in session with The Black Keys.

Burn Pram Burn…

His stage present was magnificent and the crowd were waiting with baited breath on each of his lyrics, whether they were faux conversations with himself or modern tales of life and love. I especially enjoyed his song about driving down the M4, dialogue with other motorists, genius stuff. This man truly loved the blues, pouring raging highs and sombre lows through his every chord, harking back to blues legends of the past. Plus just in case you were thinking about forgetting about this set…Floyd proceeded to set alight to his amp onstage in spectacular fashion (which coincidentally was wheeled in and out in a ramshackle old pushchair).

The Jim Jones Revue

The feel good nature of the evening continued as The Jim Jones Revue took to the stage and immediately proceeded to blast out 50’s bar room blues in the most fuzzed up, damn right rock n’ roll manner ever! The retro effect soaked vocals were rasping as they cut through the honky tonk adrenaline piano shots, tight rifffing and wailing guitar solo’s. This was an all out assault on the blues and they absolutely nailed it! From the first chord to the last, their scuzzy blues had everyone twistin’ and shoutin’, as they danced the night away. No Pogoing, No Moshing,…only jiving!

They rampantly plundered their way though a set with the enthusiasm of a band 20 years their junior which took the best from their back catalogue including the energetic High Horse, sing-a-long Shoot First, ferocious Dishonest John and the chaotic Elemental.

I must say I haven’t had so much fun at a gig for a long time. All it took was some middle aged men with a love of Jerry Lee Lewis and flat out rock transporting us back to a true 50’s rock and roll dancehall. Their performance was a joyous celebration of the blues as everyone, young & old had an absolute blast. There was barely a soul present without a huge grin on their face!

Jim Jones

It’s no wonder then this band thrives on their live reputation….. They are simply fantastic!