Not so long back I caught a great doubleheader over the bridge in Bristol consisting of Jesse Malin and Chuck Prophet. Now people in the know would probably remember Chuck Prophet from his days in a band called Green on Red, I caught them live a couple of times back in the day, and could never quite categorize them, psychedelic, alt-country, alt-rock, indie there were so many labels that fitted but if you got bogged down in how to listen to them from which viewpoint you missed the fact that they were a Bloody good live band. Where am I going with this, not long after seeing Chuck this little beauty dropped in my inbox from Dan Stuart, the guitarist, and frontman of Green on Red.
Settling in and kicking back you are immediately caught up in the production, it’s so clean, the music breathes, its given space. There’s something in the picked intro to opener March 5th, 1961 that pulls you into the story that runs through the LP, setting you up chapter by chapter, song by song.
We drift through the story, it’s definitely got that Alt-Country vibe, steeped in that Americana tradition. Moods and emotions change as you work your way through and fleetingly my thoughts drift towards the Who as a point of reference especially on “Here comes my boy”. There’s even a hint of Bowie wrapped around “Tucson”, what I’m saying is very much as with Green on Red you can’t quite label things, to me a sign of how comfortable someone is with their music, letting things develop organically taking on its own life story, following its own pathway to the finish.
This LP draws in so many references to so many different artists, sometimes Lou Reed, Sometimes Roger Waters, Sometimes Roger Daltrey, Sometimes Steve Earle, what have they all got in common? They are fantastic storytellers.
I would class as one of those evenings into late nite LP’s when your sat, drifting along with the sound, watching the sun go down following the story as it unfolds. This is a companion piece to a novel that will be published at the same time the third part in the Marlowe Billings trilogy. This is an excellent piece of work getting darker as the LP moves forward track by track someone going through their life story, laying everything bare. Well worth some attention from a much wider audience.
I love the Living End or at least I used to love the Living End Now I like them a lot but wish they’d regain the early highs. Listen Chris Chaney is one awesome guitarist and the band are always excellent live, the last time I caught them was supporting Green Day and these cats stole the show that day hitting hit after hit out of the park with so much energy it was a joy to see. Prior to that the Living End did a warm-up show in my town many moons ago and it was a small club that was barely half full and that night they were incredible but, and it’s a big but. The last couple of studio albums were missing that bit of magic that spark That killer song you know the couple of classic Living End tunes that littered earlier recordings so forgive me for entering ‘Wunderbar’ with more than a hint of trepidation.
as I dropped the needle and listened to the first play a little like the scream painting by Edvard Munch but hey ‘Don’t Lose It’ sees my hands drop and that fear ebb away as this is more like it. The Living End have a fire in their bellies again and a great opening tune that sounds pretty bloody decent goes a long way to help that.
So with a great heartening opener under their belt ‘Not Like The Other Boys’ is a little more laid back and commercial but it’s still better than anything on the last album or two easily. By the time we reach the rapid pounder of ‘Death Of The American Dream’ the Living End I know and love are in the house and the salamander stick slap in the breakdown is excellent as are the lyrics. Superb.
Like a magpie, the band pick pieces from here and there and throw them in the pot that gives them their identity and when ‘Death Of The American Dream’ fades through the final lament I’m really enjoying this record. Wherever their mojo was it’s back and I can easily grow to like their more commercial edge like ‘Drop The Needle’ when its bookended with such quality.
Damn ‘Proton Pill’ is a blast and the band goes for it maybe I’ve been unfair on the band and I should revisit the last two albums but not until I’ve given ‘Wunderbar’ a lot more love. ‘Amsterdam’ might seem a strange song to pick for the second single from the album seeing as there aren’t any bass or drums on the song but a fantastic melancholic ode a fine city it is.
To be honest with you I’ve really enjoyed ‘Wunderbar’ and if you have ever been a fan then check it out Sure it might not be the best record they’ve ever made but it is definitely a return to form and a band that has a fire and passion in their heart and from top to bottom this is a rock n roll solid album and I’d give it both thumbs up no question.
Firstly how did you get to the point of writing and recording what is effectively a solo album after the Breakdowns?
I started recording the album two or three months afterward I think. I’d already recorded the demos at home on my 4-track so there wasn’t really anything to prep. I just had to wait for some Studio time to become available. It is a solo record I guess but I didn’t wanna present it in that way which is why I gave it a band name.
How long did you have these songs written before deciding how to record them?
They were all 3 years old & all written about the same thing, so it’s a concept album really! – which is why the artwork has a movie poster feel to it. To connect them all to the same story. I knew I was gonna sing it all & play the instruments because that way it’d get done really quick!
Was it always the intention to get it out on vinyl and were you just doing it as a studio project that’s taken on a life of its own or secretly did you want to put a band together and play these songs live?
A bit of all of that really. Originally I only intended to record the songs & put them up on Bandcamp, but secretly I did have an idea that it would work well as an album – & would look great on LP. During the recording, I agreed to do a one-off gig for Some Weird Sin’s Power Pop Weekender back in July (which was really great) & that has lead to more gig offers & more interest in the Speedways.
Tell us a bit about the tracks on the album?
They’re a collection of songs written about the same summer. I knew how they were gonna fit together. I knew the Tube Train at the start of ‘Regular Summer’ would screech into shot immediately as ‘Don’t Tell Me’ finishes & I knew ‘All I Want’ would open the album with a telephone ring (which is why she’s holding the phone on the cover etc..) ..& I knew ‘Reunion In The Rain’ would have a long fade-out & close the album. I wanted to record them without pedals & power chords. I wanted them to be clean & catchy. I knew they’d have a lo-fi quality but not in a garagey way. I really like ‘One Kiss Can Lead To Another’ in particular – I just don’t hear other bands playing those kinda tunes so thought I’d give it a try.
Whos playing in the live band?
The hardest working drummer in show business Kris Hood of Los Pepes, More Kicks & Miscalculations is keeping the backbeat, Adrian Alfonso ex-Randy Savages & currently of Dead Meat is on bass guitar and Mauro Venegas of Miscalculations (former Duncan Reid/Godfathers/Jonny Cola) is on lead guitar duty. ..& obviously, I’m in it too. It’s worked out really well.
what are the chances of more dates?
The chances are very good! There are 3 other shows booked for later this year – including an album launch gig in London on October 18th. There are a few things in the pipeline for next year too which could be pretty cool!
What about a follow-up album?
I could record it tomorrow if I had a studio! Because all the songs on ‘Just Another Regular Summer’ were written between 2014 & 2015 there’s 3 years worth of recent stuff knocking around in my songbooks – although I haven’t written anything new for a while if I’m being honest.
I would like to put out a 45 with The Speedways though. Hopefully early next year I can get that sorted.
I keep banging on about this but my next album/EP will definitely be with a female singer. I’ve got the songs written for it & they’re all great. The project could be called something like ‘Suzy & The Speedways’ in theory (the album’s called ‘Empty Pages’)
I know you love your rock n roll and punk rock but what makes a great record?
A good hook, a great lyric, good sleeve artwork..the whole package. It’s gotta make you feel something, hasn’t it? I was listening to A-Ha & Abba just as much as I was Tom Petty & The Ramones when I was making the album.
Talk us through a few of your favourite songs/albums and why?
I’ll give you an album & three songs, otherwise, I’ll literally be typing forever! Albums – Please Please Me – The Beatles – the greatest band of all time playing live in the Studio with raw energy, youthful pomp, mistakes all over the shop, charming as fuck performances & an insane deadline which would destroy mere mortal bands.
Song 1 – This Charming Man – The Smiths – a game changer & a life changer for me. Song 2 – Nothing In Return – Roky Erickson – a pop masterpiece by a genius. Song 3 – You Don’t Know – Helen Shapiro – best-unrequited love song ever.
When did you start playing the guitar? anyone make you pick up a guitar?
I was 14 or 15. There was always music playing in the house so I was already really into guitars, but I think when I first saw ‘Back To The Future’ I became obsessed with Johnny B Goode! (& Earth Angel too!) – My Dad had a couple of Chuck Berry LPs so I just used to listen to them over and over. Then a few years later I got really into The Ramones and my guitar style became a very confused mix of Chuck Berry & Johnny Ramone.. with some George Harrison & eventually Johnny Marr thrown in for good measure. I was really into Metal in my mid-teens but I just couldn’t play it. It never really fell under my fingers the way that early Beatles did.
You play a few instruments on the record what other talents do you have? Did you always fancy yourself as a bit of a frontman?
No! I’m very reluctantly fronting a band! ..but I’m the only one who can sing these particular songs so I’ve just gotta get on with it! It’s cool really. & no, sadly I’m not blessed with many talents elsewhere!Facebook
RPM was saddened to hear the news rippling across social media this evening that our friend and awesome guitarist Todd Youth has passed away. Details are unannounced thus far but our condolences and sadness go out to Todd’s family and friends. The Rock and Roll world has lost another good one and its light shines a little dimmer this evening.
We first met Todd when he played the UK with Chelsea Smiles and he was such a lovely humble sweet guy and we further met him when he was playing as part of Jesse Malins St Marks Social. Todd was a cool guy who turned in some awesome rock n fuckin roll records when he played as Chelsea Smiles and we got excited when he surfaced playing in Fireburn recently and we were happy to give column inches to their records. His current bandmate Ras Israel Joseph had this to say
On the passing of my friend, and my Brother Todd Youth
There are no words to express how sad I am at the passing of my brother Todd Youth. The music he made will forever be remembered, and I’m so thankful that I was able to work with him and that we created Fireburn together. Todd and I were living separate lives doing hardcore and reggae music. We met each other in 1992 and then never spoke again until 2017. We created Fireburn within two weeks of knowing each other and finished writing two of my favorite hardcore records that I ever worked on: “Don’t stop the youth”, and “Shine”. Closed casket records signed the band and we were on our way. We had great shows and lots of people showed up to them. We toured with gbh from England, hung out with the guys from Negative Approach, and got our blessings about our music and our records from the Bad Brains. I know that Todd is now resting in peace and I know that Krishna is taking his soul to a better place. He was a devout Hari Krishna and The Devout human being. Todd wherever you are I hope that we will make music again one day. Life is a circle and I know I’ll meet you again in that circle brother. We will meet again. Rest In Peace, Rest In Power, rest my brother. I am saddened that we cannot make music again together, but I am happy that you are finally going home to be with Krishna that Haile Selassie has finally giving you peace and comfort my brother. one day, I too will lay down and die. This body that I ware is temporary. I will probably be alone. They’re probably be no one around me. However I know that I will join you and all of our other friends in that good place and we’ll all see each other again. I’m sorry you died Todd. I’m sorry I can’t see you again. I’m sorry I wasn’t there to help you. You are my friend and my brother and I love you. Rest in peace my brother. May your visit to our Heavenly Home be full of peace, and comfort, and closeness to Krishna. Haribo. Haile Selassie I. FIREBURN.
The Paul Collins Beat is proud to present the Out Of My Head European Tour February 7-March 2, 2019.
In celebration of the Alive Naturalsounds Records release of the newest Paul Collins record “Out Of My Head”
Released worldwide September 28.
Paul Collins is one of the most enduring cult rockers of the late seventies and a founding member of the legendary band The Nerves (with Jack Lee and Peter Case). He started his solo career in 1979 with the release of his album The Beat on Columbia Records under the management of the legendary Bill Graham, and has released more than 11 studio albums as Paul Collins, The Beat or Paul Collins’ Beat.
The record is receiving rave reviews from around the globe and many site this as one of Paul’s finest records, on par with his best work in The Nerves and The Beat. (Review Here)
The icing on the cake is that now, after some thirty-five years, original drummer of The Beat, Michael Ruiz is back in the band!
The new lineup also features Paul Stingo, musical partner with Paul on Out Of My Head.
All About Frank create a unique sound on this debut album that recalls the 90’s for me when a lot of bands were starting to blend alternative and harder elements together. I think of bands like the Smashing Pumpkins, Jane’s Addiction, Last Crack, Love On Ice, and other bands that never wanted to be put into a box of any kind. Your fate with this band will likely rise and fall with the vocal work by Ashley Stone who can certainly do some vocal gymnastics. Overall, my feelings on this album kind of mixed due to my personal tastes, but there are some very good songs on here that do connect with me.
‘All the Way’ serves as the perfect opener to the record as a straightforward hard rocker with my favorite riff on the album. This sits as my second favorite song. Stone really picks his spots on the falsetto which makes it much better and more effective than at other points on the album for me. ‘The First One’ really highlighted to me that the falsetto type vocals don’t do much for me here when they are used frequently. Stone has some awesome texture in his voice, but the higher pitched vocals lose their bite when they are frequently used or are not actually singing words. This song goes into some aggressive early Smashing Pumpkins type bedlam. The title track follows and is my favorite song on the album. It is also a seven-minute epic which is risky, but this is a monster of a song. The electric guitar intro has a haunting melody that is captured perfectly in the vocals by Stone. The production and mix on this one hit the sweet spot too as the drums sound stronger and the guitars have more bite. I would be extremely disappointed if I saw them live and didn’t get to hear this song.
After the high of ‘Follow the Sun,’ the band was really set up for a drop no matter what song came next, but ‘Open Your Eyes’ fares alright with me. It is initially very accessible with a quiet verse and chorus, but there is a sense of boiling intensity happening here that really works for me. The falsetto vocals here sound much better and create a hook with a simple and effective chorus. The intense last verse is my favorite part of the song. Up next ‘Sailing’ also has an acoustic intro and some electric guitar (Russel Harrison) flourishes that I really like. There are moments where I can sense something would sound a lot better if a band had some financial backing to do more in the studio. This album sometimes suffers because the band just does not have the time to do all that I think they want to do. The backing vocals here almost sound like they are droning on at times. The ending of this song and the rest of this album tells you the band has some great ideas and might sound positively huge with more resources. ‘Easy Way Out’ is another highlight from the album. This has a great midtempo feel that had me scribbling down the likes of Jefferson Airplane and thinking of some of the early videos on MTV where bands had been filed in the 60’s and 70’s in some trippy colors that immediately stood out when they were played. The chorus is to the point, snappy, and contagious.
‘Make a Change’ remains a song that just does not connect with me at all. I have tried listening to it a few ways, but this one is just not for me. It starts with some acoustic guitar and an easy going first verse that gives way to some intensity. It is the high pitched vocal section that starts with about a minute to go that just completely misses the mark with me. It has also consistently been the point where I lose all the momentum from the beginning of the album. ‘Birdie’ unfortunately is another one that has just not stuck with me or drawn me in for a deeper listen. I keep catching myself zoning out on this one, which is not helped by its 6 minute running time. ‘On and On’ turns the corner for me as I really felt myself get more interested in what was happening. There is plenty of space for the band to maneuver here. I really like Frank Pirois work on the bass as it sets the mood of the song. The transition to a faster beat by Pete Sims (drums) around the midway point works perfectly on this seven-plus minute epic. In some ways, this one reminds me more of the more experimental material on ‘Love Your Self Abuse’ by Baby Chaos. ‘Sometimes’ closes the album on an alright note, but it doesn’t blow me away.
I really like some of the songs on here and appreciate what the band is doing. As a debut album, I think it establishes the identity of the band and showcases some great strengths that the members have developed over the years in prior bands. I would love to see the band get an opportunity with a bigger budget next time as I think it would have helped. There are only so many things a band can do, especially when you are having to bust your butt to get it done within a tight budget and timeline. I think people will find some enjoyment in the album and maybe the back half of the album will grow on me in time.
Hailing from Berlin Zoo Escape have thrown everything into the washing machine without a care for what Genre they fit neatly into and they just about sum it up on the opener ‘Butterflies’ which hammers along like The Libertines meets Johnny Thunders but giving less of a fuck what people like me think they sound like and as it rattles along with a caustic riff it stops and starts it breakdowns with some limp gang vocals attempting some oh-oh ohs like The Dolls used to but quickly the band stab back into action and away they go like new wave never happened. When they say they don’t give a fuck I think they mean it, man!
The arrangments are great and at times they really take flight and sound like they’re having the best of times but I doubt these things take shape by accident either and a clear love for the music shines through. ‘Petals’ has subtle keys holding the sound to ransom as the band heads off in one direction you have a subtle keyboard lurking. ‘Let ME Bleed’ kicks back and we get taken on a dreamy journey until the 1-2 -fuck you and they’re off. Great tune real euro power pop at its best.
The general theme of the album is some great songs about love and loss and timeless topics of excess and daydreams and what ifs Zoo Escape cover all bases and do it oh so well. These songs are well crafted be it fast or slow ‘Apart From Love’ has hints of classic Billy Bragg tied up in its almost six minutes. Is this punk prog? who knows who cares as it ebbs and flows.
The video for ‘Fleur De Lis’ gives a fairly decent representation as to what the band are about but my favourite would be the jittery charm of ‘Suicide Pop’ and its new wave no wave the album has energy aplenty and curiously nailed on the end is a Japanese version of ‘Beg For Love’ which sounds great even with the English words for the song title breaking the flow of the Japanese. Why not I say it just adds to the quirky nature of this band and what they do.
St Louis, Missouri alt/country dudes The Bottle Rockets return with their 13th long player, the follow up to 2015 album ‘South Broadway Athletic Club’, and it’s got a bit of a theme going on. The frustrations of modern life and technology are explored by main man Brian Henneman and his band of outlaws; John Horton on guitar, Mark Ortmann on drums and Keith Voegele on bass.
Recorded in 3 separate 4-day studio sessions, in their native St Louis with long-time collaborator Eric Ambel at the production helm, ‘Bit Logic’ sees a more collaborative approach than the last album which was primarily written by Henneman.
‘Bit Logic’ is an album that’s rich in Americana, simple honest songwriting and observations of the modern world. For me, the Tom Petty and Dan Baird feels are all over this album. From the cool as you like groove of ‘Doomsday Letter’, to the acoustic-based chillax that is ‘Saxophone,’ onto the simple observation of a pretty girl in ‘Human Perfection’, there is much to savor.
“My music’s good but my income sucks” drawls Hanneman on ‘Bad Time to Be an Outlaw’ and that pretty much sums the situation up. I mean, Outlaw Country has never sounded so current in 2018. Albums by the likes of Sarah Shook & The Disarmers and Hellbound Glory are certainly doing it for me right now. And while Nashville’s pop-obsessed hipsters continue to churn out meaningless, over-produced drivel, a small band of outlaws are keeping it real, writing and singing about how fucked up things are and touring their asses off across the world, playing bars to every man and his dog that will sip a beer and be content to listen to a good tune or two.
The Bottle Rockets have been doing it for nigh on 30 years and Brian Hanneman has every right to come across as a grumpy old man. Lyrically, he always tells it like it is and ‘Bit Logic’ is no different. Whether he’s complaining about the traffic on ‘Highway 70 Blues’, admitting he’s resorted to listening to music on his telephone rather than enjoying the glorious tones of his old vinyl collection on ‘Lo-Fi’, or simply reminiscing about simpler times, there’s a ‘no bullshit’ approach to The Bottle Rockets music.
Yet, he’s trying to embrace the modern world, he truly is. “You better be looking out the windshield, not the rear-view mirror” drawls Hanneman in the opening title track to assure the listener of his intentions to move forward in every sense.
Elsewhere he is full of sentiment. ‘Lo-Fi’ transports the listener back to simpler times, with just an AM radio and the muddy river banks for company. Laid-back, countrified goodness with picked guitars, a fuzzy solo and Hammond accompaniment. ‘Knotty Pine’ is pure, old-school country, laced with John Horton’s twangy Telecaster licks. An ode to Hannemen’s songwriting retreat. “That room gives me hugs better than drugs” he quips.
With an “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” attitude, The Bottle Rockets release yet another collection of mighty fine songs that will be a welcome addition to any collection. These countrified outlaws are tough, gritty survivors, and while The Bottle Rockets will never be embraced by Nashville, (would they want that anyway?) or mainstream radio, they will continue to keep it real, tour and produce music from the heart and soul. Now, get down to your local independent record store and ask them for the new album with Clint Eastwood on the cover!
Hot on the heels of his last studio album the ‘Made In Hawaii’ back in 2017 Dahl is in the studio cutting some tunes with Swedens The Demons whilst on a short stopover in the country late in 2017; of course it makes sense to lay down some tracks which bring us nicely to ‘On The Streets And In Our Hearts’ and what you have is six lean mean and fucked up takes of some classic tunes. It’s more punk rock than most could feasibly muster and their take of the well-worn path that is the Dead Boys ‘Sonic Reducer’ Dahl spits and snarls as his pick up band do a half decent job..wait what the? Let’s not be daft here folks this is on fire! with Mathias Carlsson on guitar, Micke Jacobsson on drums and Tristan Jeanneau on Bass they are cooking up a feast and taking this six-track EP apart. there are fresh ears on some classic Dahl tunes as well as a new song sung by Carlsson and the devastating take on ‘Sonic Reducer’ but let’s dial it back and look closer.
‘French Cough Syrup’ is here to kick things off and with a great clear production this song has a real sense of energy as the drags on the guitar will testify. You want Rock and Roll raw and turned up loud? Well then here it is boys and girls. But hold on to your hat ‘Goin Underground’ has all the heart and soul of prime time Johnny Thunders and some I thought the version Jeff did with The Jeff Dahl Trio was as good as it gets but it would now appear that I was mistaken this is the best version.
It’s always a great day when you hear from Jeff Dahl but when its to say he’s recorded some music that already good day gets awesome. ‘Lisas World’ is punchy and snotty and again they’ve really captured a moment here and rounded off an already great song as it comes out swinging and Dahl sounds well up for it and as the song hurtles on I’m getting anxious that its only six songs.
‘Mean Street Beat’ has all the ingredients of a chance meeting with Mott The Hoople and some Lou Reed with equal measures of both and is an infectious melody as it rattles along. Which leaves ‘I Don’t Wanna’ crawling through the gutter its got a big groove and it reminds me of some of the proto-punk like Classic Dictators. Its certainly go ta strut about it and when it’s done we’re only left with the majestic pulsating ‘Sonic Reducer’ sure its a seminal punk classic and nothing ever will come close to the original but you know what if anyone is going to handle it with the respect it deserves then Jeff Dahl is that man and this version is most definitely loud and snotty but to call them young would be stretching it even for peter pan Dahl but two out of three ain’t bad is it? and the break down to the drum rolls is excellent and really captures a moment. Great work guys its only a shame it is six tracks another four or five would have been a riot and most welcome – maybe next time eh?
Ever felt like a band truly had the misfortune of being dropped into the wrong musical era? You listen to an album and know that there would have been a much higher chance of commercial success for the band. All that said, it can be pretty awesome as a fan as we feel like we have this cool secret band that others would not understand, and you meet some really cool people along the way because they are also awesome enough to get “it.” Prophets of Addiction strike me as a great example of this as I listen to this acoustic-based album and know that some people would be totally put off by this album but then those same people probably don’t get Johnny Thunders either so I wonder about them anyway…. As Lesli Sanders and Glenn Gilbert have travelled across this world recently playing acoustic sets, this album provides an awesome studio souvenir of these shows.
The first thing to make clear is that Lesli Sanders has a very distinctive voice that reminds me of several singers such as Tyla (Dogs D’amour), Daniel Lucas (Boss Caine), Jesse Malin (DGeneration), etc. There is a gruffness, often a low baritone, and a clever slur to the words that serve the songs extremely well. Lead single and video from the album ‘American Dream’ makes the perfect opener from these songs as it features a strong quick hook, and some outstanding guitar work by Glenn Gilbert. There is a playfulness to the lyrics as Sanders looks back nostalgically on some old debauchery. The added piano really adds a nice touch as well. The tongue twister ‘Altar of Altercation’ follows with an extended acoustic guitar riff intro that loses some of the magic found in the electric version of the song. I catch myself each time thinking that I would rather hear it on an electric guitar. ‘Babylon Boulevard’ meanwhile sounds great stripped down in this format recalling something from one of Tyla’s acoustic albums. The dark ominous tone works perfectly in the acoustic format with Sanders rambling style vocal working perfectly with the music. Gilbert nails a brief well picked solo.
The band brings back some good time feeling vibes musically on ‘Talkin.’ Lyrically, Sanders tells us about someone that you just can’t talk to because they turn everything against you with some subtle ‘oooh’s’ added in parts. The guitar solo by Gilbert fits perfectly. Keeping a good time beat flowing, ‘Last of the Words’ is another of my favourites on here with its lyrical hook being extremely deadly. This really feels like we are lucky enough to be sitting in the room with the guys as they just start playing. The addition of the piano here again works perfectly and really adds some magic to the song.
Flipping the album over… at least figuratively since that didn’t work with the iPod… ‘Spare the Bullets’ brings us another solemn song that works extremely well because of its contrast with the end of side 1. Sanders sounds extremely fragile on the chorus with this being another song that should really appeal to others like myself that love Tyla’s acoustic works. At nearly 5 minutes, this is an awesome epic. Following that one was never going to be easy, and it didn’t initially help that ‘Hollywood’ was an early release song that didn’t connect strongly with me. It has improved with multiple listens, but the jangle of the music and the hook just don’t quite do it for me compared to the other songs here. The gentle ‘Atmosphere’ hits me hard though, and I can imagine that anyone who might have been chatting at a live show shuts up here. Sanders sounds like he is pouring out his heart (to borrow a term from another performer). The very minimal orchestra type backing works perfectly.
‘Heart of Mine’ keeps the momentum going and reminds me a bit of Michael Monroe going acoustic. Ironically, I have tended to prefer the verses to the chorus on this one for some reason, but this is simply quality acoustic rock n roll. Wrapping up the record, ‘Return the Smile’ gives us one final huge musical moment that is lifted by the resiliency in the lyrics. The initial darkness giving way to a message of hope and strength. I catch myself putting this song on repeat at the end of the record before I play it all over again. The chorus is simply beautiful.
Prophets of Addiction have crafted a fine addition to their catalogue with this acoustic album feeling a bit like ‘A Graveyard of Empty Bottles’ by the Dogs D’amour. At 10 songs, the album seems to pass by extremely quickly even with a couple of longer songs here. Sanders and Gilbert have done a great job of recreating the majority of these songs in this format with the only moment I caught myself wishing they had done something a bit different was on ‘Altar of Altercation.’ Don’t be surprised if this album becomes your late night favourite first and then bleeds over to the morning. As I mentioned at the beginning, some will not get this record at all because it is not flashy, hip, or current. I will gladly take these songs from the gutters, back alleys, and dives that bleed passion, heart, and soul as they infuse my spirit.