Make No Mistake I’ve got a lot of time for London Rockers Neon Animal and their first album had moments where they showed confidence and played like they had it going on and they could certainly be the next big thing and wouldn’t just be one of those bands where only a few remembered the name let alone any of their songs.
Album number two is here and ‘Make No Mistake’ is something of a giant leap for me and that hype and confidence might just be about to be realised and they now have the songs to go with the look and they are talking the talk and walking the walk.
There’s more to this record than being posers who site influences from the downright cool to the downright premier league of recording artists. It’s not a record of garagy punk rock there’s more going on here and the new Neon Animal is certainly a different beast this time around. It might well be heavier, dirtier, broader than the debut and throughout the albums nine new tracks its a more confident more expansive record that explores the time-honoured subject matter of sex, the drugs and the rock ’n’ roll. Sure it’s decadent but it’s quality.
Opening with a really strong track in the shape of ‘Rock and Roll War’ its a statement of intent and has the energy to make you sit up and listen. That heavier tag is evident on ‘Let’s Make The World Rock’ with its simple chorus and biting riff its the breakdown and into that thumping bass riff and solo that lifts this into something quite exciting and Rock and Roll needs that. Sure its got some garage Rock and Roll going on but it’s mixed with a punk rock bass and hard-rocking riff and it blends really well. There a polished edge to this record but its also rolling on a dirty stage floor and a great example of that is ‘Rock and Roll Suicide’ it’s restrained and is a really well-written song. Sure it’s not reinventing the wheel or anything but so what that’s for others because Neon Animal are about the here and now and we need some bands to just kick out the jams and ‘Rock and Roll Suicide’ is a real highlight, something you should be hearing on the radio in the middle of the day if there was any justice.
The band get their groove on with a straight-up groove rocker with ‘I Can Tell You Love Me’ man they make me blush it’s like overhearing a dirty conversation between two lusty teens and the mix of sleazy funk and rock is infectious, You won’t be hearing this on any radio station I know that!
The band introduce some big acoustic guitars for the sunshine of ‘Hello L.A’ a top-down get the beers in the fridge kinda Bowie influenced number. Something quite different from the rest of the louder songs but a very nice sidestep into something altogether more ’70s glam and who isn’t down with that?
The album closes with the dark ‘Broken Mirror’ it’s like a Soho late-night mini-opera from a bygone era as it twists and turns another quite different sidestep that is excellent and adds another flavour to this record that is growing and growing the more I play it. Had it been all riff-ola crash bang wallop then it would have been missing that x-factor but the gear shifts and twists and turns elevate this to something quite special. Neon Animal might just have arrived and have the tunes to mess with the big boys and throw a big sleazy-glam-garage-rock ripple in the stale pool of Rock and Roll ‘Make No Mistake’ is one hell of a statement piece and I give it my full support. Get on it kids this is most excellent.
The Strokes, saviours of rock ‘n’ roll or affluent city kids at the right place at right time? Or perhaps a little from column A and B….. Like them or loathe them, they have stayed the course of their career, never flooding the market with an abundance of material and taking hiatus breaks just long enough to build up nostalgia and maintain headlining positions at international festivals.
On listening to the latest offering, The New Abnormal, I’m at odds with the sound of the album. Almost as if I’m listening to a new Duran Duran release in an attempt at an edgy direction. Overall the material here is New Wave throwback meeting a painfully modern production quality leaving a mainstream radio friendly sheen.
There is a basis for some great songs on the album for the most part, although cluttered with hometown-isms which for me comes across as clichéd and a hallmark of an act running out of ideas (hello Red Hot Chili Peppers).
The first two tracks showcase a particularly barren lo-fi sound, to a more successful degree on second song “Selfless”. As soon as it’s over we are awoken into a feverish, unpleasant delirium of the Killers esque “Brooklyn Bridge To The Chorus”.
Where to begin with second single “Bad Decisions”. Already publicised and forgiven by critics for the heavy lifting from Generation X’s “Dancing With Myself”, no one seems to have noticed that the verses have been ripped from Modern English’s “Melt With You”. Following on from this we have “Eternal Summer”, reminiscent in my mind of a drunken Marilyn Manson jamming with Phoenix on some Psychedelic Furs melodies. These two tracks alone show enough appropriating to make Noel Gallagher shake his head in disbelief.
The real high points of the album reveal themselves in the second half. “At The Door” and “Not The Same Anymore” are exquisite and desolate, showing Casablanca’s finest vocal moments on the entire record. Even the poppier “Why Are Sundays So Depressing” can drag the unconverted along for the ride.
Album finisher “Ode To The Mets” brings us on home. It certainly displays passion but ends up falling short in measure against the strength of the previous tracks.
Overall the album has the potential to make a very interesting artifact in terms of being the sound of a band who arguably defined their era/scene, coping with middle age and avoiding predictability. And I must stress that this is a compliment, changing and adapting is a virtue. In this case though they do not quite hit the mark on the road of creative development well trodden by Neil Young, Bowie, Prince, Depeche Mode etc etc etc.
Right let’s get this out of the way early door so I don’t have to mention it again. Yes JC Carroll is the lead singer behind the Members and yes they did have a smash hit with ‘Sound Of The Suburbs’. Right, We’re gathered here today to celebrate a whole generation of inspirational tunes that helped shape the musical landscape of the 20th century. The Members have gone down the covers route, in itself its no biggie lots of bands tip the hat so to speak and turn in exceptional interpretations of songs and bands that inspired them and some band spectacularly miss the point but, I guess it’s an individual thing. A classic song is exactly that to the individual so when a band takes on an iconic tune and flips it on its head sometimes it misses the point of that original. ‘Version’ has fourteen covers some more widely known than others and some done fairly straight whilst others are not just flipped on their heads but totally rebirthed as something so far removed I don’t know what to make of it at times.
First up is a Prince song taken to the charts by Cyndi Lauper Not afraid of taking a chance and opening with a big hitter then? To be fair it’s not a million miles from Prince with the synth hook its got a cars sort of power pop feel to the melody but JC doesn’t have the high falsetto that the former artist known as Prince had but its an intriguing introduction to say the least. Covered by many artists over the years and now the opening track for The Members.
Come out from behind the sofa folks its only a song by the Swedish phenomena better known as ABBA. Yup ‘Does Your Mother Know’ gets a roughing up and I don’t know whether to laugh or cry its one of those songs from your childhood that is burnt into your memory. Not sure ABBA ever translate into any sort of guitar-based music its a weird one and I’d like to accept the offer of a free pass on this one.
Ah, Bowie and a clear favourite on Carroll as he apes Bowie in the vocal department and to be fair does a good job as the band actually do ‘Boys Keep Swinging’ some justice and don’t try and be clever and just do a pretty straight take on it. Next up things get weird as they take on the classic Buzzcocks ‘What Do I Get’ and reggae-fy it using its superb melody to slow it right down and skank. Bells and whistles thrown in along with the natty keyboard stabs I don’t think I like it at all. Whilst I try to get the taste of the last one out of my mouth along comes another weird take on the classic ‘Sheena Is A Punk Rocker’ and it’s given a trip on an altogether different route than Joey and the boys took it originally and again I can’t work out if I’m listening to genius or a messed up piss take – help I’m confused.
More Ramones crop up with ‘Chinese Rocks’ and a suitably scuzzy riff is dutifully relayed and a fairly straight route is taken. The band then go down the reggae road covering the John Holt track ‘Police In Helicopters’ all about da herb brother. A fairly standard cover to be fair and fairly true to the original. Continuing the theme the band does ‘Soul Rebel’ from Bob Marley and what you hear is exactly what you get. laid back and chilled out. In for a penny and all that it’s no surprise to hear the band take on the Gregory Issacs iconic track ‘Night Nurse’ personalising the lyrics and doing a decent job on this chilled out five minutes.
Wow now, C’mon JC turning ‘Ever Fallen In Love’ into a trumpet tooting reggae song is just not on or is it? Maybe Shelley was a visionary and this was how it was intended to sound? It’ll take you a while to get your head around it and again I’m really not sure what to make of it, firstly with it being such an iconic punk rock song its hard to get your head around this departure. Brave or crazy who knows what’s done is done now and there is no going back maybe JC just hears it differently to some of us.
Grandmaster Flash anyone? This is more interesting and one I think would make more sense hearing it live with the horns and finishing with ‘Waiting for my Man’ JC and The Members certainly haven’t taken the easy route here and to some it’ll be red rag to a bull whilst others with be in love with old songs newly arranged.
Me I’m undecided. Maybe I’ll give it another go but give it a bit of distance as well. brave or crazy I can’t decide.
Ghost Plays to Some Quarter-Million Fans on Leg One
of Metallica’s “WorldWired” European Stadium Tour
Manchester & London shows set for next week!
Ghost premieres a brand-new webizode, “Chapter 7: New World Redro.” This chapter first brings the viewer up to date with the Cardinal Copia-Papa Nihil-Sister Imperator storyline and then begins to lay the foundation for more backstory secrets yet to be revealed. Check out “Chapter 7: New World Redro”.
Ghost is spending the bulk of its summer as Special Guest on Metallica’s four-leg “WorldWired” European Stadium Tour. Leg One saw Ghost playing to more than a quarter-million fans; Leg Two kicked off on June 8, and Legs Three and Four will take place July and August. Ghost will perform at Heavy Montreal on July 27, and then kick off its North American “Ultimate Tour Named Death” headline arena tour on September 13.
As Forbes writer David Hochman put it in his review of Ghost at the Los Angeles Forum last November, “Equal parts horror church, headbanger’s ball and midnight Stockholm cabaret, a Ghost concert draws elements from opera, Gregorian chant, classic glam rock – Kiss, Alice Cooper and Bowie, come to mind…Imagine Iron Maiden or Blue Oyster Cult under a blast of liquid nitrogen, and you start to get the vibe.”
13-20 Metallica’s WorldWired European Stadium Tour
18 Manchester Etihad Stadium
20 Twickenham Stadium
6-21 Metallica’s WorldWired European Stadium Tour
27 Heavy Montreal, Montreal QC
14-25 Metallica’s WorldWired European Stadium Tour
13 – 30 “Ultimate Tour Named Death” North American Fall Dates
1 – 26 “Ultimate Tour Named Death” North American Fall Dates
The band has been around since 2012. Tell us who you are and how you came together.
Sol: Hi, my name’s Sol. We’re a London band, and I joined the group in 2012 –
Minky: You started the band, you nut.
Sol: Nah, you had a name for the band before I joined. You called it Bandwagon. I joined that
Minky: Different band. Shit name.
Sol: Well anyway, I’ve been the bass player ever since. Through all of its ups and downs.
Minky: You’re fifty percent of the DNA of this band.
Jamie: Well anyway, I’m Jamie and I joined Brain Ape on drums in 2018 and then we played our
first show together in Paris.
Minky: And I’m Minky. I’m responsible for this mess, and I’ve been in the band for far too long.
You’ve released a couple of albums. How has the sound changed if at all and what are the plans for album number three?
Sol: Album number three might or might not be coming. We don’t know yet.
Minky: Album three cannot be confirmed.
Sol: Or denied.
Minky: Or confirmed.
Jamie: I hope we have a third album.
Sol: Same, but it cannot be confirmed nor denied at this point in time. But as for our previous
albums, our sound has grown with us as we’ve grown up and become more confident and better
in our abilities.
Minky: We did one album, loved the sound, then played it for so many years, got bored. Did
another album, loved the sound, have played it for so many years, now bored. So we’ll see.
Sol: If we do a third album, we’ll take it into a new and unique direction. Our sound evolves with
us, and incorporates all of the different influences that we take with us.
Minky: But we’ll never forget the ‘Mudhoney sound’. They’ll always be legends.
Sol: Personally, I like Nirvana.
Minky: I hate you.
Sol: Can’t deny it.
Minky: I prefer the Melvins. You know we’ve had a lot of people recently compare us to the
Melvins? I am A-OK with that comparison. If I could grow a ‘fro like King Buzzo –
Sol: Except the Melvins didn’t really go anywhere –
Minky: Ouch, yes they did man.
Sol: Whereas their baby brother, Nirvana, went far farther.
Minky: You’re a cynic. And that’s coming from me.
You recently released a DVD which is a bold idea. What’s the idea behind the DVD so early on?
Sol: We had the opportunity and we took it.
Minky: It showed itself, we smacked it in the face and took it hostage, and now we’re selling it for
a minimal price at our merchandise stands.
Sol: It was for the fans who can’t see us live, mainly. We wanted to show off how far we’ve come
and show people what we could do, even if they’re not in the same room as us. It’s a chance for
them so see us play our tunes.
Minky: Do you know how many messages I’ve had on social media of people telling me how glad
they are that we released a DVD, because finally they got to see what we do and they weren’t
Sol: That’s why we do what we do.
Minky: It’s been very humbling, somehow. And that’s the best feedback you can get. They had
expectations, and they weren’t disappointed? What could top that?
Minky: ’You changed my life’?
Sol: Why not?
Minky: With a DVD? Can a DVD really change your life?
Jamie: Yeah, it can do.
Minky: Well was it the Decisive Video of a Decade?
What bands and songwriters have influenced Brain Ape?
Sol: Bowie, Queens of the Stone Age, Pixies –
Minky: It gets really boring naming the same people over and over again, but there’s no denying
who they are. Although, I disagree with the Pixies. I’d lean more towards Flipper.
Sol: Yeah, Flipper’s a good one.
Minky: Scratch Acid?
Sol: We took a lot from them in the early days, but one of our most influential artists has actually
been a band called Coffee. I live by Coffee. Every day. Eight times a day, even.
Minky: Eight times? Mate, you’re going to fucking kill yourself.
Sol: I need my daily Coffee.
Minky: Veruca Salt?
Sol: Veruca Salt are awesome. Love their harmonies.
Minky: And their tone is great, especially on that EP they did with Steven Albini.
Sol: Mantra? Minky: Fu Manchu.
Jamie: They’re playing Download, actually.
Minky: I know, I saw them on the poster and instantly considered buying a ticket to the festival.
Sol: Alice in Chains? Avenged Sevenfold?
Minky: I think we’ve said Alice in Chains in previous interviews.
Sol: Blood Red Shoes?
Minky: I don’t know them.
Jamie: Blood Red Shoes are good.
Sol: Royal Blood?
Minky: Nah, fuck them.
Sol: I love Royal Blood.
Minky: Yeah, I know you do. I don’t.
Sol: I saw them back in the day, in a room with about twenty other people before they got
Minky: You love that story.
Sol: Yeah, I do.
Jamie: I saw them the first time they played Reading. I walked past the tent and just had to check
Sol: Soundgarden are good.
Jamie: I like them.
Sol: Pearl Jam.
Minky: Nice guy.
Sol: The big four are just solid.
Minky: AnnenMayKantereit? They’ve influenced the band a lot.
You appeared on our radar with the booking for Camden Rocks. Are there plans to play other UK wide shows? Why should people come see you at the festival? It’s a great festival and a cool concept with it being such a unique place to be able to do such a festival. Are there any bands playing you’ll like to catch?
Sol: False Heads. Go see them.
Minky: To be fair, I’ll probably be at their show. But that’s no surprise to anyone, I don’t think.
Sol: We are actually playing a festival called Alice’s Wicked Tea Party the day before Camden
Minky: Correct. We’re going to have a wild time. We’ll still probably be hungover the next day.
And for Camden Rocks we’re playing at the Fiddler’s Elbow at 1:30 in the afternoon, so we’re
kicking things off nice and sweaty for the rest of the festival. But we’ll be hanging around for the
rest of the event. Why not? It’s a good excuse to drink beer and see some good bands.
Sol: This year’s Camden Rocks will be a bit special for us anyway, because it’s the first year that
we’re on the bill.
Minky: I’ve just come back from The Alternative Escape down in Brighton –
Jamie: I’d like to play that festival.
Minky: – and there are a lot of events like that popping up in towns and cities at the moment. The
Hanwell Hootie has just happened too, and I would have liked to have gone to that but obviously
I was in Brighton.
Jamie: The Hootie’s a good one.
Minky: There are plenty of day-festivals now, and I think it’s pretty good for punters. It’s quite a
cheap experience for a whole day or two.
Jamie: Camden Rocks is good because it’s a local London festival.
Minky: Camden’s a special place on earth, really.
Sol: And as a band, we’re really looking forward to it. We’ve played other festivals in our history,
but Camden Rocks will be a very nice addition to our trophy case.
Minky: We actually keep a trophy cabinet.
Sol: We reflect upon it every now and again.
Minky: We keep all of our platinum records in there, and we’ve also managed to keep a couple of
bits and pieces of memorabilia that we’ve collected over the years.
Sol: We keep loads of posters in there, too. Anything with our name on it, really.
Finally, What next for Brain Ape?
Minky: Sell out, make loads of money, move to L.A., forget about London, forget all of the people
we’ve met here, all of the people who’ve helped out. We can just completely leave them behind.
Use as many people as possible.
Sol: We have a new single coming out with its own music video, and it’s going to be the last
‘hurrah’ of Auslander. That record has been a really good album for us, and this single will
bookend this chapter nicely.
Jamie: A good old firework display for the end.
Sol: And from there, where do we go? We’ve had an undercurrent of people asking, nay,
demanding a new album –
Minky: But we’re not ready for a new album. I’m sorry. It’s going to come out in the next four
Sol: Four years? I can neither confirm nor deny that the number given by Minky is true.
Minky: Actually, you know what? It’s coming out in four days’ time.
Sol: While Minky throws alternative facts at the wind, come down to Alice’s Wicked Tea Party and
Camden Rocks and watch us do our thing. We’ll have plenty of merch there, too. People keep
asking for more of that.
Jamie: Just send us a message, and I’m sure we can work something out.
Sol: And if you want us to play anywhere in the world, just get in touch.
Minky: If you’re in the EU, you’d better hurry up and ask us to come play before Theresa May
fucks everything up for everybody.
Forty years into his career as the number one 4-string plank spanker on the UK punk rock scene you can perhaps forgive Alvin Gibbs the “self indulgence” (his words, not mine) of a solo record. I mean he’s worked with some of the biggest names on the scene during that time, plus he’s also penned some absolutely amazing songs along the way too… and the musician’s modesty aside, I for one was straight out the blocks to order my copy when the pre-order for ‘Your Disobedient Servant’ went live on the T&M Records website just after Xmas. So, why all the rush of anticipation I hear you ask?
Well, the best place to start is with the guest list of musicians that Alvin has assembled to help him make this record. It reads like a veritable who’s who drawn from his expansive career and boasts the likes of Brian James, Mick Rossi, Timo Kaltio and James Stevenson amongst the names eager to offer up their services as Disobedient Servants. It was only the name of Iggy Pop that for me was the real glaring omission, but then when I first got to hear ‘Ghost Train’ the lead single from the album, I had to double-take. Could my jug-likes be deceiving me? That is surely Iggy crooning his way through this belting ‘Instinct’ like rocker, but no…it’s actually Alvin Gibbs, and what a great voice he has too. ‘Clumsy Fingers’ the flipside of that mega limited and long since sold out 7” also proved to be a fun time piece of Iggy influenced garage punk, and these two tracks alone were enough to convince me that this was certainly no vanity project and Alvin Gibbs was possibly about to do a Keef and release a solo album fans of his day job band would be clambering to hear too.
With Alvin having also released one of the best books about being in a rock ‘n’ roll band, the awesome ‘Neighbourhood Threat’ (recently re-released as ‘Some Weird Sin’) written about his time spent playing bass for Iggy Pop. It kinda feels eu natural for ‘Your Disobedient Servant’ to kick off with ‘Arterial Pressure’ a (just shy of 2 minutes long) barnstormer of a track written about how Alvin got to know Joey Ramone through Mr Osterberg.
Next up is the aforementioned ‘Ghost Train’ which here perfectly segues into the equally Iggy -like strut of ‘Dumb’, and right here we have as near a perfect opening 1-2-3 to any album I’ve heard in many a long year. Seriously folks if these tracks were on a new Iggy record the mainstream music media would be spunking their chinos over them.
‘Camden Gigolo’ takes things down an anthemic gear or two before ‘Clumsy Fingers’ speeds off in a frenzy of glam tinged punk rock guitar complete with few week’s road dirt under those nails.
Not unlike Glen Matlock’s excellent ‘Good To Go’ album from the tail end of 2018, where ‘Your Disobedient Servant’ really excels is when it throws you a curveball and in side one closer ‘Heaven And The Angels’ Alvin delivers a menacing slice of southern fried psycho-drama that challenges the listener with each new listen twisting and turning itself into your very soul.
Flipping the record over and side two kicks off with perhaps the most UK Subs like track on ‘Your Disobedient Servant’, the riotous ‘Back To Mayhem’ a track that simply fizzes with raw energy, that’s before the more subtle slide driven ‘Polemic’ takes you on a fascinating trip through what influenced Alvin to get into the music business in the first place.
It’s here that for me the LP flips from the overarching influences of Iggy and garage punk to that of one drawn from the likes of Mott and Bowie with ‘No!’ hinting at latter day Hunter and ‘Desperate Dave Is Dead’ doffing its baker boy cap to one of the young dudes passed all to soon. ‘I’m Not Crying Now’ too has more than just a little bit of cracked acting going on within its grooves, whilst album closer ‘Deep As Our Skin’ hints at just how great Cheap And Nasty might have been if Alvin had been given more a role in front of the microphone.
Having been lucky enough to get a good few preview listens of ‘Your Disobedient Servant’ the immediate thing that leapt out at me was just how much this sounds like a band, not a solo record. So kudos indeed to the real heartbeat of The Disobedient Servants; guitarist Steve Crittall, drummer Jamie Oliver and of course Alvin himself for making this one hell of a riotous rock ‘n’ roll record….and one I just can’t wait to get my finished vinyl copy of.
As I mentioned in the intro to this review ‘Your Disobedient Servant’ is available to pre-order right now via T&M Records on LP/CD and via Bandcamp for the download (the links are below). If you are after the LP/CD combo you best make sure you snap one up sharpish as when those red and white splatter babies are gone they really will be gone. So, trust me when I say, ‘Your Disobedient Servant’ is one record you really do not want to be without.