Following the recent news of an upcoming ‘best of’ package and vinyl re-issues of four classic albums, Sweden’s finest purveyors of glam slam boogie the Diamond Dogs are back with a new long-player of brand new music to whet the appetite.

It seems you can’t keep a good band down, and four years after they called it quits, following the tragic death of saxophonist Magic Gunnarsson, original members Sulo and keyboard player Henrik “Honk” Widen decided it was time to get the band back together. Joining the duo are long-serving guitarist Lars Karlsson, fellow guitarist Martin Thomander, bassist Stefan Bellnas and Thomas Broman on the drums.

While a revolving door of band members has come and gone over the years, the sound remains the same. Let’s just say, if you dig the cool as you like vintage rock ‘n’ roll of The Faces meets The Stones, then grab a Jack & Coke, drop the needle and sit back and enjoy!

 

Now, when I say new music, all is not quite as it seems. If you were to purchase this album on vinyl then you could say side A is Diamond Dogs originals; recalling their rock ‘n’ roll roots. And then side B is their own tribute to Soul legend Sam Cooke; six cover versions of classic cuts from the Soul singer, reinterpreted in their own classic style.

While their last few studio albums have been a bit patchy, this is a banger of an album from start to finish. Their trademark rock ‘n’ roll shuffles bring to mind a golden age of early 70’s British rock. Anyone from The Stones, Slade and Quo comes to mind at any given moment. You know the score.

 

Opening song ‘Recall Rock ‘n’ Roll’ sets the bar high from the off and sees singer Sulo in introspective mood as the band fire on all cylinders behind him. “Let’s turn back time and make it roll!” he suggests before blasting into a euphoric chorus. The likes of ‘Valentina (Queen Of Broken Hearts)’ and ‘Heavy Swing’ have that classic Sulo chorus refrains in abundance. High energy rock ‘n’ roll, with a tinkling of the ivories and key changes that takes it up nicely to the climax. No one does Mott meets The Faces better.

There’s a hint of sadness to the soulful balladry that ‘Singin’ With Elvis’ brings to the table. Sulo reminisces about times gone by and the ghosts of the past. “I walk down the street where we all used to meet, but it was all dark and quiet” he sings in an almost broken rasp. Swathes of Hammond organ and great, Stones inspired backing harmonies make this essential Dogs material.

The uber-cool ‘There Is A Fire Down There’ has a Black Crowes swagger, with trademark killer backing vocals and a wild n’ crazy slide guitar solo. No one does rock ‘n’ roll rapture quite like the Diamond Dogs do these days.

 

The album is split down the middle by ‘Soul Folks’, a re-recording of a Sulo original that first appeared on his album ‘Hear Me Out’. Sulo’s own tribute to his soul hero that actually comes across like an Exile-era Stones outtake. Cracking stuff indeed.

Now, the Sam Cooke side of things includes a bunch of guests. First up, we have Quireboys frontman Spike lending his gravelly tones to the good time rock ‘n’ roll of ‘Good Times’. Handclaps, sax and heavenly, female backing vocals bring the soul and help get the party started.

The good time boogie of ‘Don’t Fight it, Feel It’ and the 12 bar blues stomp of ‘Somebody Have Mercy’ are delivered in fine Diamond Dogs style, you wouldn’t even guess they were old Soul songs on first listen.

They breathe new life into ‘Keep Movin’ On’. Faster and more uplifting, that killer chorus introduces a song that sounds like it has always been in your head. Hellacopters main man Nicke Andersson adds his dulcet tones to this banger.

Thunder frontman Danny Bowes duets with Sulo on ‘Nothing Can Change This Love’. With the lyrical sentiment and the sparse musicianship, it retains the soulful feel of the original, but it’s given the Diamond Dogs treatment.  A rendition that sounds like it was recorded 50 years ago, not six months ago.

‘Sugar Dumpling’ closes the album and is my favourite of these cover versions. Featuring Swedish rapper Papa Dee, they take to another level entirely. To me, it comes on like The Dave Clarke Five meets The Archies, classic 60’s pop and a surprise finale. What a tune!

 

‘Recall Rock ‘n’ Roll And The Magic Soul’ will not only satisfy Diamond Dogs fan who have been craving more material, it will also remind those who forgot exactly why we missed them in the first place.

Ok, so it may not be an album full of original material. But as the title suggests, this new album is a throwback to the roots and the influences of what made Diamond Dogs one of Sweden’s greatest musical exports. And that is something we should all celebrate.

Facebook

Buy The Album Here

Author: Ben Hughes

If you feel, as I do, that ‘Tenderness’ is one of the best albums of the year, then this European tour (including just three UK dates) from Duff McKagan is an essential event. Why? Well, the band that Shooter Jennings has behind him, the cool cats who helped lay down the album, are a fuckin’ machine! These guys are so tight live you couldn’t wedge a sheet of paper between them.

Imagine The Band, The Stones at their peak, or even early 90’s The Black Crowes. It’s no coincidence that Duff hooked up with his long time friend Shooter and his band to sprinkle magic on a rootsy, laid back record full of emotion, and for want of a better word… tenderness.

On this tour, the band will be doing 2 sets every night. I’ve seen them do this before, at an album release show for Hellbound Glory at The Whisky-A-Go-Go a couple of years ago. First, they are opening with Shooter, then a full set with Duff. Who knows if they will do this again? This could be the only tour these guys do, and even though the tickets were a hefty £40, I felt it was an experience that I could not miss.

Academy 3 apparently holds 950 punters, although it certainly looks smaller. It is dark, rectangular and has a great atmosphere. You could call this an intimate show for a man who has been playing stadiums with Guns n’ Roses. But for Shooter Jennings and his band, this is probably about average.

The band open with ‘Bound Ta Git Down’, a boogie-woogie, barroom blast. The ever cool Shooter, shades permanently glued to his head, tinkles some ivories as his band jam out behind him.

The likes of ‘Denim & Diamonds’ and the epic ‘All This Could’ve Been Yours’ build on piano and mournful fiddle courtesy of Aubrey Richmond. You almost forget that bad ass bassist Ted Russell Kamp and guitarist John Schreffler Jr are there until it’s time for the guitar solo, then the pair take centre stage to shine. The rhythm section of Russell Kamp and powerhouse drummer Jamie Douglass are surely one of the best in the business and keep it all together. Pure, laid back 70’s rock ‘n’ roll at its finest, these songs are far removed from the rootsy, country that Shooter may well be known for.

The Guns n’ Roses fan base lap it up. Maybe the band intentionally chose a more rock ‘n’ roll based set for this tour, but the likes of ‘Steady At The Wheel’ and the grungy, riff heavy ‘Don’t Feed The Animals’ certainly bring the rock tonight. Aubrey and Shooter bring the sentiment and duet on a few of the more balladic numbers, but hell, this band are even better than I remember them being a couple of years back.

 

It’s packed by the time the band return to the stage with Duff at the helm. Dressed in black shirt and jeans, his tousled blonde hair framing his weathered face to perfection, Duff looks every inch the LA rock star. He plays a low slung acoustic for the majority of the set. As Shooter plays the opening piano chords to Gn’R’s ‘You Aint The First’ Duff asks us of we are ready to sing. The response is a resounding yes!

Having never seen him with Loaded live, I must say being the frontman comes naturally to Duff. He cracks jokes and swigs from a flask between songs. Laid bare on these emotionally charged tunes, his gravelly tones are spot on.

The ebb and flow of the set is perfect. A carefully chosen set mixes up mainly album cuts with ‘Use Your Illusions’ era Guns tunes and a few choice covers. The sound is fantastic; we can hear every word, every breath.

The countrified, hickey ‘Breaking Rocks’ is suitably ramshackle, Shooter takes a verse and shares vocals harmonies on the chorus, lap steel guitar and fiddle give a proper authentic feel.

As Shooter plays the piano refrain to ‘Tenderness’, Duff explains the idea behind the songs with passion and creates a feeling of camaraderie with his audience. It’s a beautiful moment and the crowd are deadly silent as he sings the verses, just with piano accompaniment, his voice on the edge of breaking, the vulnerability shining through.  At that very moment, this gig has become the gig of the year for me. In this setting, with this band, these songs give so much. I must admit to being blown away. “C’mon Manchester!” Duff shouts as we sing the chorus in unison, the euphoria builds to a crescendo. So, so good.

I mentioned the ebb and flow. The Stonesy rock ‘n’ roll vibes of ‘Chip Away’ follows , Hammond organs play out as Duff dedicates ‘Feel’ to Scott Wieland, Chris Cornell, Prince… the list of lost friends goes on. The band plays to perfection. Never overplaying they are there to back up Duff and his acoustic, to add colour and flair to the songs where needed. As before, you forget the bassist and guitarist are actually there, until they come stage front for a solo.

“Some friends of mine from Seattle wrote this song” sparks up Duff before breaking into Mad Season’s ‘River Of Deceit’. That opening little riff he trades with John is sublime, and the feel of the song fits the set perfectly. He gets some crowd participation going too. Duff straps on a telecaster and they take things right up with ‘Dust n Bones’. High energy rock ‘n’ roll, just what the doctor ordered, we sing every word and it sounds utterly fantastic. A killer solo and the crowd out-singing a cortisone-fuelled McKagan makes it a highlight.

Elsewhere this evening, ‘Last September’ and ‘Parkland’ are truly moving and about as relevant as you can get. Chillingly, Duff changes the words in ‘Parkland’ to include the most recent shootings, one that happened just a few days ago. The Clash’s ‘Clampdown’ is suitably ace, and the following ‘Dead Horse’ is downright amazing. Aubrey gets stage front to take the second verse, it’s chaotic. I’ve never heard it live before, I feel privileged.

It’s a rollercoaster of a set to be fair. The more fragile moments of ‘Tenderness’ are played out perfectly and when the band rock out, they are on fire. A final one-two and the band bows out. ‘Don’t Look Behind You’ sounds beautiful, full of sentiment, just like the goddamn record! And the closing cover of Mark Lanegan’s  ‘Deepest Shade’ sees our hero take off his guitar, jump into the pit and scale the barrier to get up close and personal with those at the front.

I knew tonight was going to be good, but I never imagined it would be this good. What I expected to be a laid back, acoustic affair turned out to be a full on rock ‘n’ roll show by a band who play like they have been on the road for years.

While ‘Tenderness’ is one of those ‘late night, stoner’ sort of albums rather than a ‘blast at full volume in the car’ sort of albums, it transfers very well in a live environment with a full band. Good songs are good songs, and coming from the heart and from the soul, Duff has an album full of them.

The tour may have just begun but Duff McKagan and his band have the camaraderie of a well seasoned touring band already. £40 well spent I say.

Author: Ben Hughes

Christened as ‘A Long Weekend Of Empty Bottles’, Tyla and his Dogs announced a short run of dates celebrating the 30th anniversary of ‘A Graveyard Of Empty Bottles’ recently. Dates in York and Birmingham to be special shows previewing acoustic and electric shows that will form part of the following two nights of celebration in London.

Classed by some as the best acoustic album ever released (me included), ‘A Graveyard Of Empty Bottles’ is a timeless snapshot of the classic Dogs D’amour line up at their peak. Recorded in December 1988 over a 10 day period, the album captures the essence of a band riding on the tail end of a whirlwind year and the comedown that followed a sold out, end of the year Astoria show.

The 8 song collection of ‘soft songs for hard people’ has recently been re- recorded by the current Dogs D’amour line up, and while I initially gave it a wide birth, I have to say the new version does bring something fresh to a bunch of songs I always felt should not be tampered with. In fact, I liked it enough in the lead up to this gig, that I only went and purchased the vinyl for the collection.

 

Joining the band on this little adventure are London’s finest rock ‘n’ roll reprobates The Dirty Strangers. Still led by loveable rogue Alan Clayton, a man with more Rolling Stones connections than Mick Jagger’s heart surgeon. In fact Ronnie Wood and Keith Richards both played on their debut album back in 1987, they even roped in The Damned’s Brian James and Joe Brown along the way too.

The four-piece band play no-frills, dirty rock ‘n’ roll, just the way it should be played. The singer, dressed in a stripy top and pork pie hat, a telecaster slung over his lanky frame, leads his band through a selection of bar-room boogie rock ‘n’ roll. The raw and unadulterated twelve-bar boogie of ‘Bad Girls’, with its “woo-hoo’s” hollering and some tinkling of the ivories sounds great and the low slung rock ‘n’ roll of ‘Are You Satisfied?’ goes down a charm. The singer and bassist share a mic for vocals on several songs in full Jagger & Richards style. And it doesn’t get more rock ‘n’ roll than ‘Gold Cortina’ does it? Full of cheeky cockney charm and rock ‘n’ roll swagger, The Dirty Strangers were the perfect band to open proceedings tonight. Great stuff indeed.

 

The Fulford Arms is classed as a hometown show for Tyla and The Dogs these days. It’s intimate, it’s packed and it’s hot… very hot. The band is playing two sets tonight, one acoustic and one electric, the anticipation is high and the atmosphere is electric.

“Who gave him a mic?” says Tyla, as drummer Simon starts with the piss-taking before the singer has even picked up his acoustic guitar. The joking continues for most of the night. With the band perched on barstools they launch straight into ‘Comfort Of The Devil’ followed by the fantastic ‘I Think It’s Love Again’. With the full band treatment these versions of ‘Graveyard..’ tracks are heavier and slower, but still contain those great infectious melodies. The latter particularly benefits from the updated treatment, it’s the little nuances in the arrangements, like where the band hold the note in the chorus just that little bit longer. It sounds ace.

This band have been a unit for a good few years now, live and in the studio, and it shows. The camaraderie and ability is second to none. Tyla plays acoustic, to his right guitarist Gaz rips on a telecaster and to his left the ever cool, vampiric Matty James, all dressed in black, doesn’t even break into a sweat on bass. The guys watch their leader for cues, they play off each other to perfection.

I’ve heard a few of these songs live before, but never all of them together, what a treat to behold! ‘Saviour’ is transformed from heartfelt balladry to a more bluesy, rock ‘n’ roll groover with added tinkling of the ivories and ‘Angel’ is still the sing a long hit single that never was.

The version of ‘Bullet Proof Poet’ they pull off tonight is simply stunning. An extended, tripped out version with Gaz ripping a killer solo. A song to get lost in, it’s over in minutes, yet somehow, it feels like we’ve been lost in it for hours.

Tyla takes over on bass duties and Matty brings out the blues harp for a mesmerising, sweat-soaked blues workout. I think it was called ‘Stealin’ From The Devil’? Correct me if I’m wrong.

A couple of killer tunes from last year’s excellent return to form ‘In Vino Veritas’ album (namely ‘I Don’t Love Anyone’ and ‘Bottle Of Red’) round off set one nicely. As Gaz suggests we all go outside to cool down while the guys prepare the stage for round 2.

 

Tyla’s bottle of red is on its last legs already as he straps on that iconic road worn Gretsch and strikes out the opening chords to ‘Billy Two Rivers’, the first of a small greatest hits set. Songs to sing a long to and songs to drink to, songs that soundtrack our youth and transition into adulthood. It’s nice to see some younger dudes and dudettes in attendance, many who weren’t even born when Tyla first hit the stages with these tunes.

Classic follows classic, ‘Last Bandit’ is as amazing as ever, ‘Firework Girl enthralls and induces goosebumps and ‘How Come It Never Rains’ is the ultimate drunk and sweaty sing along it was meant to be.

By the time we get to ‘I Don’t Want You To Go’ Tyla is visibly struggling in the heat, (as we all are) and finishes the last few songs perched on an amp. The red wine has all but gone and he looks ready for a nap. But he ain’t quite done yet. ‘Satellite Kid’ rounds off the hottest, sweatiest gig of the year so far as we all sing a long and smile for the final time this evening.

 

I feel very lucky to have witnessed this band in this venue multiple times. Every gig has been different, from various album celebrations to just good, old fashioned hits shows. Sometimes I’ve been drunk, sometimes I’ve been sober, but every time it has been a blast. Like a fine red wine Tyla’s Dogs D’amour get better each time I see them, I never take it for granted and I will always come back for more. At the end of the day, it’s one of my favourite songwriters singing some of my favourite songs in my local watering hole. It doesn’t get much better than that.

 

Author: Ben Hughes

Photos courtesy of Neil Vary Gig Photography

 

 

It’s the hottest day on record here in the UK and everyone is melting. The last thing I really want to do is spend the evening in a packed club that is notoriously hot, even in winter. But Living Colour are celebrating 30 years of ‘Vivid’ by playing their debut  album top to bottom, and it’s not too often they come to town. So I’m happy to brave the heat and continue to sweat. Hey, its rock ‘n’ roll kids, and I wouldn’t want it any other way!

First up on a 3 band bill we have Wisconsin blues merchant Jared James Nichols. This dude gives me serious hair envy! He looks like John Sykes circa 1988 and plays a black Les Paul like a bluesier Zakk Wylde. In fact, his 3 piece band come across like Wylde’s short lived Pride & Glory project, albeit a blues heavy version. Even heavily tattooed bassist Elvis has double denim, a trucker cap and probably smells of engine oil!

Jared’s unusual playing style sets him apart from his contemporaries. He doesn’t use a pick and yet creates a helluva tone. His voice hits the spot too, it’s raw, bluesy and downright righteous! His rhythm section are solid, and songwise they seem to come from a 70’s classic rock direction. A very British sound, I’m talking early Whitesnake meets Bad Company here.

He’s very appreciative of the turnout and the fact that he’s going down well with a crowd who are largely unfamiliar with his material. Great opening set from a rising star.

 

Now, we all love a bit of Toby Jepson, right? Whether it be Little Angels, fronting Gun or behind the desk producing the likes of Virginmarys. But right now Toby is doing what he loves best and what we love seeing him do, and that’s strapping on a guitar and fronting a new and exciting rock ‘n’ roll band.

Wayward Sons are on the verge of releasing their sophomore second album, and I say ‘sophomore’ without even hearing it, as the tracks played tonight stand tall above their collective output so far to these ears. I like Wayward Sons, they are a solid, traditional rock ‘n’ roll band and live they just get better every time I see them.

Toby is as always an engaging frontman who has the ability to whip up a crowd with ease, he should do, he’s been doing it for over 30 years! With a flying V strapped over his shoulder, he leads his band through a high energy set consisting of road worn tracks from their debut album and a few newbies thrown in for good measure. The likes of opener ‘Alive’ and ‘Ghost’ are early crowd-pleasers that go down a storm.

The title track of their upcoming album ‘The Truth Ain’t What It Used To Be’ is played and sounds very promising, as does brand new single ‘Joke’s On You’. The politically charged, socially aware lyrics make them a band to pay attention to in more ways than one right now.

Backed by a tight unit; guitarist Sam Wood, bassist Nic Wastell, drummer Phil Martini and keyboard player Dave Kemp, Toby Jepson has a tight band behind him that have the energy and the vitality to take them to bigger stages worldwide.

The band play a blinder and win over the Living Colour massive with ease, in fact, I have a suspicion many were here for Wayward Sons as much as Living Colour. Wayward Sons evoke the sound of both ’70s and 80’s rock but still retain a modern edge. To me, they come on like UFO meets Thin Lizzy, although I might be swayed by Nic’s Pete Way stage moves and Sam’s Scott Gorham looks.

We all sweat profusely and the band gives it their all. Toby jokes he’s knackered and Nic has more energy a man of his age should possess. They suffer sound problems and we lose Sam’s guitar for the last few songs, but it doesn’t matter one iota, Wayward Sons triumphed tonight. A band with a growing following and a reputation for great live shows. Expect headline status from now on.

Living Colour has always been one of those bucket list bands I needed to see live and up until a couple of years ago, I thought it would never happen. Yet, I finally did see them play and at my favourite venue too! Now they return to The Brudenall again. It’s not too often a band of this stature plays a club-sized venue and this is a must-see gig for me.

Interestingly, the themes of racism and discrimination that Living Colour blasted out on MTV three decades ago are still prevalent today, if not more so. While ‘Vivid’ was Living Colour’s most successful album, it was not ‘my’ album, that was ‘Stain’, constantly drummed into me by my Living Colour mad brother when it was released.  Surprisingly tonight they open with ‘Ignorance Is Bliss’ from that very same album.

As you would expect, the band are as tight as ever. The rhythm section of Will Calhoun and Doug Wimbish are one of the best in the business, the mental guitar histrionics of Vernon Reid are a joy to behold and then we have frontman Corey Glover. One of the most underrated voices in rock ‘n’ roll, a man whose vocals are still as good as they were back in the day.

The aforementioned opener sounds great, the chugging riff, the brooding, yet funky bass and those killer vocals sound fantastic. Nice opener! Corey thanks the appreciative crowd and lets those who don’t already know that tonight is a celebration of an album that came out 30 years ago and they would be playing it in its entirety. As he says, playing a lot of songs they haven’t played in years, but have been playing a lot lately. A great roar of appreciation follows as the intro tape introduces ‘Cult Of Personality’. Their biggest hit is 30 years old and sounds as fresh now as it did back then. We may all be dripping with sweat, but the band is only just warming up. Shit, Corey still has his jacket on for chrissakes!

‘I Wanna Know’ sounds ace, one of my favourite songs off this album actually, great to hear it live. ‘Middleman’ is a masterclass, played with ease as we sing along to the refrain, and the early Chili Peppers feel of ‘Funny Vibe’ just comes across so well live. Hearing these songs, and in order, takes me back to a certain time, it’s a proper nostalgia trip.

For me, the focal point of tonight’s show is bassist Doug Wimbish. Up there with the likes of Billy Sheehan, he has to be one of the best in the business and a cool cat to boot. Some sort of funky bass witch doctor, he conjures up mental, other-worldly noises from his instrument using a combination of pedals and actual magic!

It has to be said the sound tonight is not the best, there is even heckling to get Vernon’s guitar turned up, and while the singer and guitarist make a joke of it, the bassist visibly just wants to get on with the show. Even taking to the mic to say this is a live show, four guys with instruments… it is what it is.

Some of the notes Corey hits are outstanding tonight, as he holds the mic away from him and sings stretching to the limits of his range with ease, you realise he is up there with the likes of Ty Taylor as one of the greatest living soulful vocalists in rock ‘n’ roll right now. Amazing stuff.

‘Open Letter (To A Landlord)’ sounds fantastic and ‘Broken Hearts’ takes things down, full of sentiment and feels. I wonder if they are ever tired of playing a song like ‘Glamour Boys’? It sounds great, although I’m a bit disappointed it wasn’t the calypso version they did last time they played here. They funk things up nicely with the Prince-like ‘What’s Your Favorite Color?’, a personal highlight of the show that hasn’t dated, I fact I think it just improved with age.

Glover and Reid’s onstage banter is great. The pair take the piss out of each other constantly, with Reid leading a “Corey-Corey’ chant to a band mate he calls “the most stylish man in the building”.

No bass solo tonight (thank god!) and for the encore tonight we get an emotive ‘Love Rears Its Ugly Head’ and a killer ‘Elvis Is Dead/Hound Dog’ extended jam out.

 

The trend of bands playing albums in their entirety is sometimes met with caution. Knowing the setlist beforehand can take away from the expectation or the element of surprise of a live gig, yet other times it works and can just floor you. Tonight was the latter. Also, the growing trend of established, big bands playing intimate venues is alright by me any day of the week (especially in this venue).

Living Colour delivered a masterclass of funk rock tonight. While the sound guy needed slapping (the levels were all over the place) it did not detract from a most excellent set. All three bands were outstanding tonight and all different in their own way. From young guns playing the blues to someone old doing something new, to the established being steeped in nostalgia, it was a top night all round.

 

Author: Ben Hughes

 

Bath based power pop loons Ulysses have been delivering quirky, glam-slam slices of noise for many years now. With more facial hair than a cave full of cavemen and a wardrobe half-inched from Huggy Bear, they have produced 3 albums of vintage noise steeped equally in both 70’s nostalgia and Brit Pop goodness. You see, these fun loving chaps owe as much to the likes of Super Furry Animals and Supergrass as they do to heroes like Bowie and Bolan. And it’s a good mix of influences that shine through to make their fourth long player ‘On Safari’ a fantastic ride from start to finish.

 

Check out the cover art by the wonderful Caitlin Mattisson for starters. Lions, giant snakes and a hot medieval babe with 8 arms and a broadsword….fair play, I’m sold on that alone! Let’s hope the music is up to it too.

And of course it is, Ulysses does not disappoint. Opener ‘Looking For A Guru’ sets the scene with a glitter-coated, platform boot stomp. What sounds like a sitar introduces the song that rides on a catchy refrain over big beats, handclaps and Paul Stanley helium vocals. It’s more 70’s than a packet of Spangles and twice as sweet. A glorious album opener.

The following funky, yet spunky ‘Doctors And Nurses’ out-foxes Foxy Shazam. Sirens wail and sweet vocals harmonise the intro. Tongue-in-cheek lyricism and double-entendres are rife. Its disco groove shouts Scissor Sisters, while its wailing guitar outro shouts Kiss, what’s not to like here? A total contrast to the opener, yet still in tune with their retro sound.

These boys have a handful of singles on offer for you too. “For those about to rock…for those about to roll’ drawls the singer over sloppy, cool riffs and cowbell accompaniment on the fantastic ‘Bad Tattoo’. The following ‘Dragons’ is full of instant, quirky melodies and fuzzy guitars, coming on like the perfect mash-up of Weezer and the Super Furries. Whether it’s actually about dragons is debatable, what’s not debatable is that it was the perfect single choice.

 

They veer into classic sounding 60’s pop territory and make it sound so effortless. ‘This Useless Love’ has  Beach Boys/Everly Brothers vibes and ‘She’ is a glorious slab of 60’s pop with urgent beats, killer vocal harmonies and ripping guitar solos, coming on like Kula Shaker at their finest.

The trippy, prog fest that is ‘Situation Man’ is out there maaan! A full on Hammond organ jam out and elsewhere, ‘Fuzzy Lion’ mixes up a ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’ drum beat with Silver Sun vocalisin’ in the most sublime of ways.

‘Let’s Move’ prove that Giuda and Biters aren’t the only cool cats to channel Thin Lizzy and Slade all in one double denim-clad 3-minute pop hit or two. Even the reggae-infused mid-section breakdown can’t detract from their ability to create songs that should be on 7 inch and riding high in the hit parade, pop pickers. Killer tuneage!

It’s no surprise that singer Luke Smyth has seemingly morphed into a young Jeff Lynne. Check out the likes of ‘Married Woman’ and the eccentricity of closer ‘Calendar Street’ with its immense ELO layered harmonies climax. I even had to YouTube and Google ‘Why Aren’t These People My Friends’ just to be sure, as I feel like I should already know it… I don’t and it’s ace!

It may be raining outside, but Ulysses bring the sunshine to your stereo with their new long player ‘On Safari’. I didn’t think they made the sort of drugs that could inspire this sort of music anymore, maybe I’m wrong, or maybe it’s just the Bath water (sic). But Ulysses has created a trippy, hippie-fied, love-fest of an album. A soundtrack to the summer we have yet to experience. And certainly one of the most entertaining albums you will hear this year.

Author: Ben Hughes

Facebook

 

 

 

 

“It is impossible to achieve the aim without suffering” – John G Bennett (Philosopher 1897-1974)

 

Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes describe ‘End Of Suffering’ as their third and most important record, and they are not wrong. Following the success of their first two albums (‘Blossoms’ and ‘Modern Ruin’ were recorded back to back just 8 months apart) the band hit the studio in London during the record-breaking heat wave of 2018, with the intention of taking their time to create the biggest and best album they could.

To help achieve this, they roped in famed producer Cam Blackwood (Jack Savoretti/George Ezra) and the legendary mixing talents of Alan Moulder (NIN/QOTSA) to help turn their blood, sweat, and tears into something truly special.

 

The title ‘End Of Suffering’ comes from the Buddhist mantra for finding enlightenment, and the themes of this album document Frank’s struggles for the last 2 years. First single ‘Crowbar’ may have lulled fans into a false sense of security that this album was going to be choc-a-bloc with primal, fist-pumping anthems of empowerment’, but it’s safe to say Frank and songwriting partner/guitarist Dean Richardson have worked hard to take The Rattlesnakes to the next level. I believe their songwriting has matured beyond any of their previous work.

At the heart of this album is the song ‘Anxiety’, a highlight at the recent intimate shows. With a hard-hitting video and relatable lyrics, it’s a song that has already touched the hearts and souls of many fans. Dean’s lone, haunting guitar riff sets the tone for Frank to open up more than he ever has before. ‘Anxiety’ is an anthem for unity, a song to raise your hands to and stamp your feet along to.

You see, Frank Carter is a man who cares, and understands he is in a unique position where he can make a difference to people’s lives through his music. And if the message he gives out prevents just one person from shutting themselves off from the world, making them realise that they are not alone and that it is ok to not be ok, then his job is done.

 

Heavy talk aside, ‘End Of Suffering’ is introspective and puts out a positive message.  It is not a punk album, nor is it an indie album. ‘End Of Suffering’ is a modern rock record that perfectly bridges the gap between Gallows and Pure Love, much more successfully than either of their two previous albums did.

While the hardcore influence of Gallows that was still present throughout the first two albums is now all but a distant memory, ‘End Of Suffering’ is no less intense for it. Opener ‘A Butterfly Can’t Love A Spider’ sets the intensity levels high from the word go. Riding on a formidable, pulsating beat and brooding vocals that build to a soaring crescendo, as Dean bashes out a dirty riff. “When I’m high, I’m in Heaven, when I’m low I’m in Hell” sings Frank, and we believe every word.

The band then fire into the skulking beast that is ‘Tyrant Lizard King’. Featuring a cool, desert rock riff and a chorus that slithers from the speakers like a snake ready to inject its venom straight into the soul, it captivates and enraptures. A trademark off the wall solo from a certain Tom Morello fits the feel of the song perfectly. This tune is guaranteed to be a mainstay of The Rattlesnakes live set for years to come. 2 songs in, and it’s safe to say the band has taken things up a notch or two.

“I’m a punk rock renegade” drawls Frank on the opening line of the space age, indie punk hybrid ‘Kitty Sucker, before launching into another anthemic, high energy chorus that matches the intensity of Gallows at their finest.

With the likes of ‘Little Devil’ with its QOTSA feel and the regimental beats and high energy, post-punk vibes of ‘Heartbreaker’, The Rattlesnakes offer enough to satisfy all the cravings their fans desire. They even explore Portishead territory on the downbeat electronica soaked ‘Angel Wings’, a song that creates beautiful and cinematic imagery, if you just take the time to close your eyes and take it in.

The emotive closing title track offers yet more with acoustic guitars, a piano refrain and a recording of Frank’s four year old daughter laughing as the song fades out on singular ivory notes. “I’ll be waiting…even if I’m gone” Frank assures the listener in a near broken voice.

 

Between sorrow and beauty, where love and hate collide, the deeply personal ‘End Of Suffering’ could be the album to rocket Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes into stadiums around the world. It has already been stated elsewhere that this is their ‘The Holy Bible’, that this could be their ‘In Utero’. The difference being…this album offers hope where the others only gave despair.

Funnily enough, the opening quote of this review was taken from the introduction of the U.S. mix of ‘She Is Suffering’ by the Manic Street Preachers. How’s that for a tenuous link, pop pickers!

 

Facebook

Buy End Of Suffering Here 

Author: Ben Hughes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Well, we certainly didn’t stand still in the last seven days as we brought you reviews from a range of artist old and new with The Lemonheads starting things off with the second studio album of cover versions entitled ‘Varshons 2‘.  As Evan Dando and Co, head out on a UK tour this week to promote the record RPM gave it the thumbs up as Dando led the band through some pretty diverse waters.  Westerberg, Cave and the Eagles all made it onto the record which as an aside came out in a scented banana yellow version as well.

 

 

It was also a week that saw two live albums hit the death decks at RPM with Metallica lending a ‘Helping Hand’ Where they released a double album with proceeds going to a most admirable cause and helping the most vulnerable in society a real genuine act of kindness that doesn’t get the exposure it truly deserves as the rock stars are often castigated for their excesses but seldom praised when they do reach out with a simple yet effective act of kindness.  So a huge well done from us at RPM as Johnny H gets stuck into the double slice of vinyl trouble.

 

 

The second of our live reviews came when Martin gave The Godfather a good seeing to with their fantastic ‘This Is War’ the once over. describing it as, “Loud Sharp and Beautiful”, is about as close a summery as you can get.  It’s fair to say that it damn near captures the current line up right at the top of their game.  It’s certainly raw it’s certainly loud and no question it has the Godfathers roaring on all cylinders and has you wondering why all live albums can’t sound this good.  Essential listening no doubt about it.

We also brought you a summary of this years Gathering from North Wales as Mike Peters and the Alarm romped through a huge chunk of their back catalogue over two nights with plenty of special guests that included original Alarm Guitar player Dave Sharp, from Texas Ryan Hamilton and 80’s pop rockers Mark Shaws then Jerico. This year’s festivities weren’t without incident as the PA went down twice but it didn’t deter PEters who climbed into the audience with his acoustic guitar and un mic’d got the audience singing along and making the most out of a potentially bad situation and making it a memorable evening no doubt about it.  Gathering twenty-Seven was again a privilege to attend and I can’t wait for 2020 and number twenty Eight.

We also brought you The Spangles album launch show from way up North otherwise known as Harrogate as Ben Hughes had an equally splendid evening with an immensely talented band playing one hell of a debut album.  I for one hope there is a lot more to come from these three guys because their album was easily one of 2018 best releases.

As far as news goes we joined the rock world in wishing Bernie Torme a speedy recovery from his hospitalization from double Pneumonia and hope he’s back to full health as soon as possible. The same for our Australian friend Hayden McGoogan from The Black Heart Breakers who also found himself in Hospital this past week – Get yourselves fit and health please gents and I’m sure I speak for all the writers at RPM in wishing you both speedy full recoveries.

There was also some superb festival news as The Dead Boys were announced as headliners for this year’s Rebellion Festival in Blackpool along with Walter Lure who will be playing L.A.M.F. at the festival and across the channel in Belgium Sjock Festival announced a raft of superb bands added to this years festival including RPM favourites The Hip Priests and Barstool Preachers who play alongside The Hives, Hellacopters, Electric Frankenstein, the Briefs  and Gluecifer. To be fair news wise last week was a bumper week for great rock n roll news.

 

Anyway, that was last week on RPM and as we are always looking forward here’s what you can expect this coming week on the website. We’ve got a couple of bumper interviews with the likes of Slyder from Last Great Dreamers as they announce a lot of dates for 2019 in what appears to be a hugely busy year for the band.  Also, we have a monster interview with “Demons” Matheus Carlsson which should see your Friday seem a lot more enjoyable as we spoke about the past present and future of the band in what also looks like a great year for the band.

As for album reviews we’re once again scouring the globe for great bands and we’ve certainly got those coming at you with the debut long player from ‘Wet Dreams’ reviewed today by Johnny H and there is also the long-awaited long player from Jim Jones & the Righteous Mind’ coming later this week as ‘CollectiV’ has certainly been entertaining RPM HQ and what will be one of the years top albums no question about that. We also look back on some significant happenings this coming week in punk, rock and pop music history so keep it RPM folks for all your turbocharged Rock n Roll!

Stay Sick,

L-U-V RPM

 

It’s been a long, hard January, right? Traditionally a gig free month, it feels like forever since my last soiree of 2018 with Tyla’s Dogs D’amour at The Fulford Arms back in December. It may be snowy and cold outside, but The Spangles are here to warm the cockles with their hometown album release show.

It’s not all gone to plan though. Caught up in the recent PledgeMusic debacle, The Spangles (as with many other artists) have had to shell out from their own pockets to fulfil pledges and get CDs made. Then the original venue for this gig fell through and just days before, main support Rich Ragany & the Digressions pulled out.

But all’s now good, a new venue was found, support also arranged and fans have the products they pledged for.

Located on the outskirts of Harrogate, The Empress might seem an unlikely venue for a rock ‘n’ roll album release show. But to be honest, it’s perfect. The upstairs function room is homely, there are carpets, pictures on the wall and I wouldn’t be surprised to see a dog sleeping by the fire if there weren’t so many punters in the way. You see, this room is about twice the size of my living room and it’s already packed as Damp take to the stage.

Damp are a local four-piece band residing in the heavier end of the rock ‘n’ roll spectrum. To my ears, a heady mix of Kyuss and Mudhoney. Grungy, stoner rock goodness flows from the speakers as aptly named frontman Wolfgang wrings unworldly noted from his guitar and growls his way through 30 minutes of lo-fi stoner rock goodness. Ably backed by Modern Day Dukes man Rory on bass, George on guitars and Rob on drums, they sure have the tunes ladies and gentlemen. Great gang vocal choruses and face-melting riffage, what’s not to like here? “No one wants a damp t-shirt, but we have dry ones for sale!” announces the singer, prior to introducing the last number. Well said, that man.

 

Another new name is local funky monks PIPS. A late addition to the bill, replacing Rich Ragany & the Digressions. As guitarist Tom tells us after the opening song, PIPS have drunk 7 pints already; things might get interesting from here on in.

With funky, slap bass and metallic riffage, the trio proceeds to bounce through a magnificent high energy set of songs that come on like Infectious Grooves jamming out with Primus. My brother would’ve loved this band, he would’ve wanted to join this band… hell, I want the drummer to join my band and I don’t even have one!

The likes of ‘Soul Katt’ and ’20 Years’ are delivered with the energy and precision of a seasoned live act. They handle the intricate passages with ease and you would never have guessed they were full of lager, they’ve done this before methinks! The combination of Tom’s Vernon Reid style guitar chops, the funky slap bass work of singer Chris and the imaginative and relentless pounding beats of Josh make PIPS a mesmerising band to watch, and certainly a band I will go out of my way to see again. I love it when bands excite and ignite on the night!

No disrespect to the opening bands, but The Spangles are in a different league entirely. As far as I’m concerned they have released the album of the year with ‘#Sweet FA’, and although there are imminent releases from The Wildhearts and Michael Monroe to come soon, The Spangles sure are contenders.

Was there ever any doubt that they could pull it off live? Nah, of course not. If you’ve ever seen The Main Grains or The Idol Dead do their thing, then you know what these guys are capable of, and with an arsenal of great songs under their leather belts, it’s a given that it will be an entertaining set at least.

From the opening chords of ‘Growing Up’, it’s raw, tight and exciting. Ever smiling guitarist Ben Marsden takes lead vocals for the majority of the set and does a mighty fine job. The Idol Dead singer Polly Phluid looks comfortable with a bass strapped on, the pair even has matching black Hagstrom guitars and a shirt & waistcoat combo going on. Behind them, drummer Ginna keeps the beat and delivers great backing vocals as always.

‘Get Over Yourself’ follows, the first of many infectious shout-along choruses that make this Spangles show seem like a greatest hits set. Honestly, there is not one average song tonight, let alone a bad one.

As the energy levels rise, so do the heat levels, as the drunken packed room get rowdy, so do the band. I didn’t pay attention to the song order they played, as I was having too much fun watching and singing along. Suffice to say they pretty much played the whole album, plus a few choice covers including The Sonics ‘Have Love Will Travel’, which was up there with Crazyhead’s version.

Singer Eloise Kerry joins them for a few tracks including awesome bubblegum -infused renditions of ‘One Good Reason’ and ‘Hold My Hand’. All their songs sound ace live, and the crowd already know the words. From the bubblegum pop of ‘The Only One’ to the heavier chanting choruses of ‘Back On The Meds’ and killer Ramones tribute ‘Ramone’, these are songs designed to make you smile and make you sing, job done.

Comedy banter between band and audience flows nicely; all three have always had a good rapport with their fans. The chants of “Rory! Rory!” are swiftly put to bed by a smiling Ben, as he jokes about going home tonight with the Damp bass player, who also happens to be his former bandmate. Ginna and Ben even manage to slag each other off mid-song, during Green Day’s ‘FOD’, in the middle of singing and playing.

As we reach the climax of the show, a visibly emotional Ben can barely sing the chorus of the magnificent single-to-be ‘I Don’t Wanna Go’, a concerned Ginna watches his every move and has his back, covering the chorus when he can.

 

Hot and sweaty, exciting and euphoric, The Spangles delivered maximum rock ‘n’ roll tonight, in a pub in Harrogate, and I’ll wager no music venue has been that packed in Harrogate for a long time. This time last year they weren’t even a band, this time next year, who knows where they will be. Three eclectic local bands for 6 quid, who said rock ‘n’ roll is dead?

 

Author: Ben Hughes

Photographs: Neil Vary 

South Yorkshire band Hands Off Gretel deal in 90’s Grunge swagger, deliver riotous live shows and have enough bubblegum hooks to scale the top of the charts baby! It’s no surprise to find their Pledge Campaign for sophomore long player ‘I Want The World’ currently sits at a staggering 230%. Not bad for a relatively unknown and completely independent band.

We caught up with lead riot grrl Lauren Tate to get the lowdown on all things pink and girly and find out exactly what she’s been up to, locked up in her bedroom all these years.

 

 

Your pledge campaign reached 100% in under 24 hours. Were you expecting such a quick response? Ah, dude! It was crazy, we were all sat hitting refresh every second, it was so exciting! I’ve teased the album for a while; people were ready and willing to pre-order it. I was blown away that we hit it so fast though, it really gives me so much hope for the future of independent music. 

 

Your new album is entitled ‘I Want The World’ …so what’s the message there then? ‘I Want The World’ is about how I’ve felt since I was a little girl. I’ve always felt shushed and muted, with everyone always telling me to shut up or stop being unrealistic, leaving me constantly thinking of ways to give everyone who doubted me or ridiculed me the middle finger.

‘I Want The World’ feels like my rebellion. I’m chewing gum, I’m not smiling because someone told me to, I’m not just being a nice pretty girl, I’m fucking angry sometimes and I deserve more, be it friendships or respect from others without being patronized. ‘I Want The World’ to me, means ‘I deserve more than this world is gonna give me and I’m gonna kick and scream until I get what I want’!

You’ve always been an independent DIY band, handling all the artwork, design and even producing the videos. Why choose now to go down the PledgeMusic route? The Pledge route to me is the best way for independent artists to self-release their music. It shows there is demand for your music, that your fans believe in you without needing a label to put it out for you. With Pledge too, you’re giving fans exclusive content. You can get personal with them, which would never be an option signed under a label. I’m not saying getting signed is a bad thing, I think if you’re wanting to be world famous it’s easier to be signed than it is to get there independently. But until the right deal comes along on my terms, I have no interest in searching for a record label.

 

Recent singles ‘Kiss Me Girl’ and ‘S.A.S.S.’ suggest a more commercial direction and a definite sense of stepping things up a level. Was this the intention when setting out to write the album? The first album I ever wrote was our first album. Before then I’d written a few acoustic songs here and there, but I’d never done an album before. Since that point in 2017 I’ve learnt so much about myself playing live and working with song formulas, that this time around I was just naturally better at composing songs. I knew more about what kind of artist I was too, without worrying about what anyone else wanted me to be. Songs like ‘Kiss Me Girl’ and ‘S.A.S.S’ came to me almost instantly, it was a very natural progression for me mixing more of a melodic pop sound with distorted heavy fuzz guitars, creating the newer sound we have now.

You’ve gone through a few line-up changes in the past, which is not unusual for an upcoming band finding their feet. Going by recent performances, you are certainly at your strongest live right now. With the addition of Becky on bass, does it feel like the band are now a cohesive unit? Yeah, I mean it’s bound to happen within bands. I’ve always been honest, I wear my heart on my sleeve and if anything feels wrong I gotta speak up about it. I think people who judge bands for having lots of line-up changes should try spending tour after tour with the same people without going nuts. You find out very fast if you can spend that much time with another human and with us, whenever anyone has left the band, it’s always made the line-up stronger because you can’t force something that just isn’t meant to be.

You recently toured with The Virginmarys, how did you go down with their fan base and were their fans even aware of Hands Off Gretel before seeing you live? Weirdly, we had a load of cross-over fans I didn’t even know about. I was announcing us each night imagining nobody knew us, but the majority of the crowd knew the songs. We picked up loads of new fans from those shows, it was a blast. The Virginmarys boys and their tour crew were lovely; we were saying we would defo do some shows with them again.

What’s your favourite venue to play? I’d say one of my favourite is my hometown venue The Old School House in Barnsley. The stage is a great size, same with the room and the sound rocks! We’ve played plenty of shows there which always sell out. 

Lauren, you have become a bit of a role model for alternative girls, tackling issues in your lyrics that the mainstream avoids and advocating women being authentic, strong and true to themselves. Still, in this day and age, there is a lack of truly great female fronted rock ‘n’ roll bands out there. Why do you think this is and do Hands Off Gretel have the power to help change this? Sure, yeah. It’s always great to motivate and inspire young women. Growing up, I looked up to my biggest role model P!nk and I held onto her every word. She changed my life and she’ll never know that. It’s small changes that change the world, one individual at a time. I believe yes, 100%, I alone can contribute to a better future for girls and boys.

All my life I’ve been talked down to by ‘authority figures’ and teachers and made to feel like I couldn’t achieve even a quarter of what I have up to now. I’ve played with lots of women in bands, they are everywhere in the underground scene, just ready and waiting to break out to the mainstream rock stations and festival line-ups that still are mostly all-male bands. I think everyone realises now, with social media being a wonderful platform, that there is inequality still to challenge in society, and as long as people continue to speak out about this and create platforms for these passionate, angry women to have a voice, the world will have no choice but to listen. 

You’ve had abuse from girls in the past online, but do you ever get heckled at gigs, and if so what’s the weirdest experience? I’ve had abuse from everyone online! It just hurts like hell when it’s a girl because I believe so passionately that women should bring each other up. People love to believe I’m a bitch, I think they really want me trip up and fall flat on my face because things are going well for me. I’ve had it all my life with teachers and kids at school, I’ve done this independently for so long without any mentoring or help. I know all eyes are on me when it comes to trolls and haters online and I’m determined to prove them wrong. Haha YES!!

One time this man wanted to buy pictures of my feet for $500, but he wanted me to give him a free sample, then he intensely stalked me and created multiple profiles attacking me with insults and threats online because I said I didn’t want to suck my own toes for money,  that was weird haha! Gigs are alright though; I think the biggest stalkers and dick pic charmers prefer to stay behind the keyboard!

What was the best year for music in your lifetime? I pretty much missed all the ones my dad talks about seeing, as I wasn’t born until ‘97. It gives me hope though, I feel sorry for kids growing up having to listen to their parents banging on about the good old days. Sure the music back then was raw and brilliant and most of my favourite bands never made it past 1999, but I’m focused entirely on the current time and this generation of music because this is my generation. I’m so excited when I hear amazing bands that nobody knows about, being in a crowd of 10 watching something spectacular before everyone else knows about it.

At what point after you were born did you discover who you were? Probably around 14 years old, when I chopped off all my hair and started listening to The Distillers. Before that point I was totally lost, trying to be popular, trying to fit in listening to N-DUBZ, I was so chavvy it’s unreal. I cut off my hair and became hated at school, it was the most freeing thing I’ve ever done.

When you hear the word ‘successful’, what comes to mind? I think of being in a position where I don’t have to suck anyone’s wrinkled balls to get what I want. I mean, I’d never do that hahaha but I think of success meaning ‘I am now a boss bitch’, I think of finally being respected by those that have ignored me in the past and continuing to be authentic, making a living off my own self-built empire.

If you could have a drink with anyone alive or dead, who would it be and what would you drink? I’d sit in my music room with Freddie Mercury and ask him what his last thoughts were as he died. Did he feel quenched by his life, did he reach his goal? I obsess over death, it’s my biggest driving force because I’m so afraid of my time being up and not being finished with my creations. We’d drink a little vodka and cry together.

Buy Hands Off Gretel Here

Website

Facebook 

Author: Ben Hughes