When Little Angels called it a day in 1994, singer and main songwriter Toby Jepson was left feeling heartbroken, confused and betrayed by his band. What do you do when your whole world has crumbled in front of you? How do you find the strength to carry on, when everything you have worked so hard for is taken from you?

Well, Toby retreated to a cottage in Guilford, set up a makeshift studio in a derelict Oast House with money from Sony and recorded his first solo album ‘Ignorance Is Bliss’. While he didn’t know it at the time, the set of songs he wrote, recorded and self-produced were a direct reaction to the break-up of Little Angels and would result in an album so steeped in retrospection and soul searching it would resonate so strongly some 25 years later.

 

To me, the mid 90’s was the best period for rock music, period. The musical climate had changed, the glory daze of Hair Metal had been wiped out by Grunge, yet even that genre itself was fading fast following the suicide of its main protagonist. Bands had to adapt to change or die, Alternative was the new mainstream and everything seemed just more edgy.

Many great songs and many great albums have been born from heartache and break-ups and Toby Jepson’s coping mechanism was to channel his feelings into ‘Ignorance Is Bliss’. It’s a dark album, ironically the complete antithesis of what Little Angels were all about. In trying to make sense of where it all went wrong, who to blame and what to do next, Toby found himself stepping back and looking inside himself for the answers, whether it be examining his recent divorce (‘Better Off Without Me’), class divide and struggle (‘Some People Are More Equal Than Others’) and in the case of most of the songs, directing his anger and confusion towards his former band mates.

 

What strikes me about ‘Ignorance Is Bliss’ 25 years down the line is how remarkably current it actually sounds. From the crystal clear production to the dark, questioning lyricism, it sounds like an album destined for release in 2020. Take opening song ‘Some People Are More Equal Than Others’, a slow burning, sombre opener that sets the mood, exploring the struggle of class divide to a background of crisp drums and weaving, sonically seductive guitars.

Co-penned with songwriting legend Russ Ballard, ‘Slipping Through Your Fingers’ not only continues the exploration of his marriage break-up but also the demise of Little Angels. Production-wise Toby creates space, the instrumentation at a bare minimum, the song riding on melody and a sense of determination. The dampened guitars build during the verse to be let loose as the anthemic chorus breaks out.

Anthemic choruses have been a Toby Jepson trademark over the years and album centrepiece ‘I Won’t Be With You’ is a prime example. This is the big rock song and an even bigger ‘middle finger’ to his former band mates. The guitars are maxed out and the passion overflows as Toby channels his anger and confusion into a song that stands the test of time. In stark contrast, the acoustic-driven ‘All Heal In Time’ is Toby’s Led Zep 3 moment. The heartfelt lyrics work perfectly with the interestingly, offbeat drums, and the beautiful folk inspired guitar picking. A great melody carries a song that offers a ray of light in troubled times.

The influence of the 90’s alternative musical climate is prevalent throughout this album. The grungy ‘Haven’t Got Your Strength’ is the sound of a man defeated, laid bare over Jerry Cantrell guitar riffage. The euphoric, radio-friendly ‘Save Me From Myself’, almost certainly a cry for help. Toby cites Lenny Kravitz as an influence on this album and this is certainly obvious on the tripped-out, psychedelia of ‘Open Your Mind’ and the funky, unfinished demo version of ‘Get Your Feet On’.

 

 

While ‘Ignorance Is Bliss’ is a snapshot of Toby Jepson’s mindset in his darkest hour, it is a testament to his songwriting prowess and a true example of the fact that anger truly is an energy. Toby channeled that anger in the right direction and produced an album that stands the test of time. And while he continues to enjoy great success with his band Wayward Sons, ‘Ignorance Is Bliss’ remains a lost gem of an album he is rightly proud of and arguably, it is his finest work.

 

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Author: Ben Hughes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

Buy ‘Make No Mistake’ Here

Author: Dom Daley

 

Is this Power Pop?

A question that is often all caps shouted across screens by keyboard warriors defending their record collection decisions.

Power Pop. A holy grail whose contents are loudly proclaimed obvious (depending who ya ask) and essential.  Apparently sacred (yet neverendingly argued) since the storied days of Peter Case losing his Nerves to then lace up his Plimsouls. Somehow important yet almost impossible to achieve… one wrong move, a drink too far, a chord eschewing a jangle and you’re “just rock n roll”.

Or so it seems…

The Speedways. The members languidly lean on the bars of darkened London pubs or float like spectres in corners of Some Weird Sin and Garageland gigs. Striped shirts and leather jackets. Dirty street-tamed Chucks and scuffed Thunders boots carry them from one late night heartache to another.

They are true believers who take their turn on stage with hearts outshining the Cheap Trick badges.

Heart.

How do you capture it? How do you?

This album is a stellar example of doing just that. It is the emotion, the essence of love (lost and yearned for) that makes special songs, damn the torpedoes and neat classifications.

This is their second full-length album and the growth since ‘Just Another Regular Summer’ is apparent right off the opening track. ‘This Ain’t A Radio Sound’ opens with a playful ‘80’s Cars ‘Heartbeat City’ keyboard that is somehow right at home alongside the dirty street jangle of Mauro Venegas’ guitars. Then Matthew Julian saunters in, his vocals accomplishing a feat in common with that of my favourite singers. It is instantly recognisable. Equal parts world-weary and up to the fight. Like how Phil Lynott would somehow whisper your thoughts back to you. At once like a friend and someone you wish you had the nerve to approach. A very rare and special dichotomy that gains trust from the listener. People will say you’re born with that. I can see here that you can earn it.

‘The Day I Call You Mine’ shakes off the skinny tie and gets tough. And sweet. The rhythm section of Kris Hood and Adrian Alfonso are like a modern day Mike Joyce and Andy Rourke of The Smiths. Taking the gorgeous songcraft and walking it home like schoolyard best friend bodyguards. In fact, every melody and arpeggiated chord on this long-player is kept safe in their scrappy hands.

“Daydreaming’ opens with razor-sharp back alley chords and a streetwise snarl that has me all of a sudden thinking, “Is this ROCK N ROLL???”

Speaking of that… ‘Your Brown Eyes Look So Blue’ comes dangerously close to sounding like a forgotten outtake from the soundtrack to “Grease”. High School dancing itself right to the edge of the parking lot of kitsch to puke, but teetering there and miraculously feeling much better, thank you! It was a close one boys, but then again, some imminent peril makes albums and nights out exciting.

The track order on this album has a great arch to it. The way it builds to a cinematic centrepiece starting from the dreamy fade into focus intro of ‘This Is About A Girl Who Loves The Sun’. It builds wonderfully into widescreen guitar pop. The song takes you off the dusty and noisy summer city streets and into the cinema to catch your breath and “to stop taking it out on yourself” as Matthew reminds you in the lyrics.

The exuberance of ‘Number Seven’ kicks the cinema doors wide open and the sunlight comes streaming through. We’re in The Speedways’ neighbourhood now, and there’s a place they know that’s perfect for an afternoon drink. Matthew puts his arm around you on the walk and lets ya know that you’ll get by… it doesn’t matter who believes you.

Another standout track is the band next door sound of ‘Empty Pages’. Effortlessly cool and just the right riff for just the right lyrics (“On Halloween I couldn’t hide”… who hasn’t felt that way? Vulnerable and surrounded by Pound Shop devils and clowns) The song is the sound of hanging out. Pure and simple.

The whole set does an excellent job of establishing a recognisable sound while crossing gang lines into territories that may feel like defection. The early Petty and almost ‘50s stomp intro of ‘Had Enough This Time’ giving way to a sun shower of cascading guitar shimmer and a riff that steps right off a beach to join in? Really? It works. Really well.

The album closer, the rather magnificently titled ‘In A World Without Love It’s Hard To Stay Young’, is a perfect bookend. A pocket symphony of guitars that shine like the afternoon sun reflected off a Camaro’s dashboard. Its harmonies sonically answer Julian’s proclamation, “I thought I was the only one to feel this way, until…” with the easy embrace of a close pal.

No. You’re not the only one who does, Matthew. You just have a timeless way of expressing it. Your band is right there with you bringing these songs into brilliant focus as well.

Pretty happy that a band like this exists, making albums to this calibre.

It sounds awfully good with a cold one or a double too!

OH! Power Pop?

I ain’t getting’ into that! Whaddya think, I’m crazy?

 

Buy Beluga Records Here / Speedways Bandcamp Vinyl Here

Author: Rich Ragany

On September 25th, IDLES will release their anticipated third album – ‘Ultra Mono’ – via Partisan Records. Accompanying this announcement, the band have shared album highlight and thunderous call-to-action – “Grounds” – alongside a music video (dir. by Rob French).

Frontman Joe Talbot says of “Grounds”: “We wanted to write a song that embodied self-belief, and gave us self-belief – a counter-punch to all the doubt we build up from all the noise we so easily let in. We wanted to make the sound of our own hearts’ marching band, armed with a jack hammer and a smile. We wanted to make the sound of our engine starting. So we did. Thank you.”

Ahead of release, IDLES will also host a series of three live performances from an iconic studio on Aug 29-30, which will be professionally recorded, filmed, and livestreamed. Upon purchase of a ticket, attendees will receive a unique link to access the performance live. Tickets on sale now, more info and link to purchase HERE.

Recorded in Paris and produced by Nick Launay (Nick Cave, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Arcade Fire) and Adam ‘Atom’ Greenspan (Anna Calvi, Cut Copy), with Kenny Beats (FKA Twigs, DaBaby, Vince Staples) providing additional programming, ‘Ultra Mono’ was sonically constructed to capture the feeling of a hip-hop record. Across all twelve brutally relevant tracks, the band double down on the vitriolic sneer and blunt social commentary of their past work, with themes of active presence, inclusivity, class, gender inequality, nationalism, community, and toxic masculinity remaining ever-present. ‘Ultra Mono’ also features guest vocals from Jehnny Beth (Savages), and additional guest contributions from Warren Ellis (Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds), David Yow, and Jamie Cullum.

If their last record – 2018’s ‘Joy As An Act Of Resistance’ – was meant to detail IDLES’ manifesto, then ‘Ultra Mono’ is the sound of the band heading into battle, battering ram in hand, for those tenets. The phrase “momentary acceptance of the self” serves as spiritual guide and mantra throughout, as Talbot elaborates on further in an essay printed inside the album’s physical packaging.

In addition to sharing the tracklist for ‘Ultra Mono,’ the band have also made available the dates on which all upcoming album tracks + videos will be released (see below).

‘Joy As An Act Of Resistance’ was one of the best reviewed rock records of 2018, debuting top 5 on the official UK album charts. ‘Joy’ earned the band instantly legendary performances at Glastonbury, Jools Holland, NPR’s Tiny Desk, and sold out tours across the world. They were profiled by the NY Times and PBS NewsHour as part of a group of new bands tearing down outdated perceptions of masculinity, won the coveted Ivor Novello Award for Best Album, and were nominated for the Mercury Prize and a Brit Award last year. All 10,000 tickets to the band’s Dec 2019 headline performance at London’s Alexandra Palace sold out in under 24 hours.

 

Man, I always have a soft spot for Californian pop/punk, especially when it’s a young band coming on like the 90’s never ended. And that’s where I introduce you to The Bombpops. Founded in 2007 by dual singer/guitarists Jen Razavi and Poli Van Dam, the 4 piece band take the title of their sophomore album ‘Death In Venice Beach’ from Thomas Mann’s celebrated novella about the price of artistic life.

The follow up to 2017’s ‘Fear Of Missing Out’ it sees the band explore dark themes of alcohol addiction, health problems, toxic relationships and suicide all wrapped up in high energy punk pop.

 

But the dark lyrical themes are certainly not the first thing that hits you about The Bombpops. The SoCal sound that inspires the band is prevalent throughout, you could say ‘Death In Venice Beach’ sounds like the lost 90’s soundtrack you need to fill the hole between ‘10 Things I Hate About You’ and ‘Josie and the Pussycats’.

Take latest single ‘Double Arrows Down’. Lyrically inspired by Poli Van Dam’s diabetes seizure and subsequent dice with death, it’s actually a euphoric blast of dual vocal melody and overdriven guitars, with a sugar-buzz pop melody that will inject sunshine into anyone’s dreary day. Sweet vocal melodies The Dollyrots would die for and the sort of catchy choruses Letters To Cleo perfected in their prime.

And so it continues for 30 minutes or so. 12 short, sharp, shocks of punk pop that do not overstay their welcome. Songs that would’ve bombarded the airwaves back in the day and singles that would’ve been vying for attention with the likes of Bowling For Soup and Sum 41 on your TV screens.

 

‘Dearly Departed’ name-checks doomed celebrity couples over high energy pop/punk. Sid & Nancy rub shoulders with JFK & Monroe as Jen & Poli deliver pitch perfect vocal harmonies and dirty guitars in unison. A tight rhythm section and a crisp production courtesy of (among others) NOFX’s Fat Mike only adds to the high quality.

With the likes of ‘Sad To Me’ and ‘Zero Remorse’ they have a knack of delivering a verse that create momentum and builds to what you just know is going to be an anthemic, killer chorus that will stay in your brain long after the song has ended. The girls’ vocals work well together and it is that, along with the top notch songwriting, which lifts this album high above the current competition.

The bouncy bass intro and the offset guitar riff in ‘Notre Dame’ will bring to mind The Offspring, ‘In The Doghouse’ comes on like The Creepshow at their most commercial and the raw tale of isolation and heartbreak that is ’13 Stories Down’ sounds like a female-fronted NOFX. Elsewhere you’ll swear you’ve heard the likes of ‘Radio Silence’ and ‘House On Fire’ before. And that my friends, is the knack of a catchy melody put to very good use.

 

There are lots of comparisons that can be made to lots of cool bands when listening to ‘Death In Venice Beach’ and that’s not a bad thing. The Bombpops wear their influences proudly on their sleeves and have their own imitable style and their own way of exorcising their own personal demons with a set of strong, bouncy tunes.

To be honest, you could imagine any of the 12 songs on offer to be featured on MTV, with the band playing next to a swimming pool or a frat house in California, surrounded by teens with nothing more on their mind than pulling the hottest cheerleader and downing a four pack. And while in these troubled times those sort of antics may seem as distant a memory as the 90’s actually are, it’s still the great escape some of us need right now.

Buy ‘Death In Venice Beach’ Here

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Author: Ben Hughes

 

 

 

 

 

The not so difficult fourth album is upon us it would seem. He might have been in this game for several decades but as a solo artist, Duncan is a mere pup, a fresh-faced newbie of sorts (he’s still playing the introducing stages). With a line-up that’s been in situ for some time – well, more time than any other line up he’s assembled since going his own way and on ‘Don’t Blame Yourself’ they’ve really spread their collective wings and are soaring, trust me on this.

My criticism (not really a criticism I love this guys music) of previous efforts was that (as great as they were) they didn’t really reflect the band live and how bloody good they are and how much punch they give to the most excellent melodies and tunes they were playing.  Well, pop pickers that has been put to bed as ‘Don’t Blame Yourself’ has plenty of grunt under the hood and Rock out with the big boys on record as they do live. Result then?  Hell Yeah!

‘Don’t Blame Yourself’ offers up fourteen slices of powerpoppin’ Rock and Roll of all shades and sounds and has pushed Duncan and his songwriting talents to the max and on multiple plays its paid dividends each and every time. It’s reflective, humorous and on the odd occasion, it’s on political point and always insightful, damn educational even who’d have thought it? Rock and Roll teaching the masses. Above all I think Duncan has penned his best record since taking the plunge and with no better example than the opener ‘Future Ex Wife’ as it comes roaring out of the traps.

Some of the record has been road-tested live and worked, I know that because I’ve seen and heard ’em played and it looks and sounds like a great choice to do that. theres always a heap of charm with Duncan’s solo records either with wicked melodies or vocal arrangments and harmonies pretty much all over the place.

I particularly like that Duncan has sat on the fence with ‘Motherfucker’ and can’t wait for his next political observation,  Hell yeah! Brother. The flow of the record is great as you get picked up and a lyric jumps out and makes you smile only to have your thought taken somewhere else due to a killer hook or vocal arrangement, thrown together it certainly wasn’t and if it was..well, the guys clearly a genius. To make it a trio of opening cuts ‘Welcome To My World’ is a slice of power pop where the guitars weave towards the chorus where you get the layered vocals cap off another top tune.

He still throws a curveball and a change of pace. The hypnotic ‘Tea & Sympathy’ has a larger slice of pop than the previous songs as it heads down a new wave maybe XTC sort of avenue. ‘To Live Or Live Not’ is classic Reid  But wait, ‘The Grim Reaper’ sounds like ’70s New York pop or Supertramp but it doesn’t sound out of place with all its trumpet tooting grandeur.

The first time I heard ‘For All We Know’ it was instantly imprinted on my brain and its still a winner on record capturing the backstory of the song perfectly. If you were to hear it being told this is how it would sound in your head. A top tune to end side one. Side two begins with the dreamy qualities of ‘Oh What A Lovely Day’  If the keyboards of classic Damned ‘Strawberries’ and ‘Black Album’ era possibly Sensibles style and touch are your things then songs like this are right up your street.  Layers of vocals and keyboards with the hint of some guitars to take it home. After the Big Heads get their tune. The title track is like the band has channeled Bolans boogie and chosen the medium of Les Paul riffs to express themselves. Stripped it back with a sparse arrangement, unfussy riff-a-rama, and no big layered harmonies and it really works well even the guitar solo is minimal and that fits perfectly.

I could waffle here all day (some might say I do anyway),  that only gives them ‘Big Heads’ bigger heads but it would be a dereliction of duty if I didn’t big up the Big Heads and this most excellent LP. Rockin’, Rollin’, thoughtful, insightful, soothing, amusing to name a few of its qualities, as far as albums released this year goes this will unquestionably be up there as the best released in what is unfolding as the strangest years ever but ‘Don’t Blame Yourself’ is a bonafide Banger!

If you are familiar with Duncan and his music you’re going to love it and there is so much on offer you could pick out a new favourite track each time. If you’re still reading and still curious and have no idea about Duncan Reid & The Big Heads then don’t be shy – jump in they don’t bite, my advice –  just buy it! sit in the garden open all your windows and your lockdown has just got 87% more bearable. Hell, shout over the fence to your neighborhood, “Enjoy the tunes – They’re Fuckin’ Great” then tell ’em they can pick up a copy from the link.my work here is done.

Buy ‘Don’t Blame Yourself’ Here

Author: Dom Daley

 

Oh yeah, groovy baby! Australia seems to be at the centre of a lot of whats happening in rock and roll from punk and new wave to rock and further afield so when I got the new Datura4 album to review I kinda put it off for a while what with the psychedelic quotes and a few bits and pieces I’d heard but Alive has always put out quality music and I love some of the rock and roll records they’ve been behind so after reading up on these cats I decided to clear my schedule and dive in.

Starting off with the title track its less Psycadelic than I was expecting and whilst there are swirling keyboards and sound effects once they get their groove on it’s obvious that Datura4 know how to rock and roll. After the intro they step back into the ’70s for a punchy groove that they keep up towards the catchy chorus.  Impressive stuff to be fair and power pop with the melodies and roots that belong in the garage without it tucking up the MC5 or Birdman.  I think the titles might be a bit misleading and playful but the harmonica howling on ‘Wolfman Woogie’ is a great sound.  I think these cats like to Rock out rather than wig out and keep it laid back when they need to and cut loose when they want as well.

‘Mother Medusa’ sounds like the riff Lenny Kravitz had when he wanted people to go his way but it’s a great groove.  They come over all Gillan on the spacey ‘You’re The Only One’.  They sound like a Cream inspired barroom blues combo on the retro bustin’ ‘Rule My World’ now turn up those fuzz pedals and honk on that gob iron!

‘Give’ sounds like their take on Neil Young with added swirling organ which I’m sure Young would approve of. It’s classic retro Rock and Roll for sure but the acoustic guitar take it somewhere else other than down a simple rock route.

Before they check out ‘You Be The Fool’ is Bolan boogie and my pick of the pops on offer on this retro ride if it weren’t for the excellent barroom rocker ‘Get Out’ that follows.  Simple – melodic and a great bit of boogie woogie on that joanna.  I’ve enjoyed this trip and as a result, I’m digging into their extensive catalogue to see what else they have to offer.

Ten songs of variety and played by consummate professionals who’ve been doing this Rock and Roll thang for long enough they clearly love the sounds they create and live it to the max they give it that warm retro feel and are proud to don the aviator shades, bellbottoms and big furry handlebars If I’m wrong I’ll eat my Boss fuzz pedal and a whole Wurlitzer organ.

Buy ‘ West Coast Highway Cosmic’ Here

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Author: Dom Daley

Minneapolis favourites Soul Asylum return with their 13th studio album, and their first since 2016’s ‘Change of Fortune’. The new album ‘Hurry Up and Wait’ was preceded by the single ‘If I Told You’, which gave a hint that Asylum fans could expect the band to return with their trademark romanticism, with melodies as delicate as ever, flowing in the line with Pirner’s vulnerable vocal delivery. While the ‘Change of Fortune’ album was a mixed bag, the new single ‘If I Told You’ was already perhaps a better song than anything from that album, up there with ‘Misery’ in terms of Soul Asylum ballads.

A good omen then for the new album, which was finally released 17 April 2020. And fans won’t be disappointed. Whereas ‘Change of Fortune’ was perhaps at times a little overblown and a little overproduced, ‘Hurry Up and Wait’ is more direct and earnest, following more in the footsteps of the inspiring ‘Delayed Reaction’ from 2012. The sound is instantly recognisable, but as with most later Asylum stuff, it’s more explorative in its sound, demonstrating Pirner’s expert song writing skills which have been present at least since the early days.

The album opens with the strong riffing of the aptly named ‘The Beginning’ before the song almost immediately swings into familiar territory, full of sweet melodies and catchy hooks. Going straight into the superb ‘If I Told You’, this is the Soul Asylum that fans have come to love. This of course permeates throughout the album with songs such as ‘Make Her Laugh’, and ‘Social Butterfly’, but there is enough variety on this album though to keep it interesting at every turn. The Slade-esque stomp of ‘Got it Pretty Good’ is a fine upbeat number, whereas ‘Dead Letter’ takes a decidedly folky turn. There’s also a lot of rock on this album, from the bluesy romp of ‘Landmines’ to the harder ‘Hopped up Feelin’’.

Every song on the album is a strong as the last, and the variety is refreshing. Less polished than ‘Change of Fortune’ and more consistent than ‘Delayed Reaction’, the record is certainly the best album since ‘The Silver Lining’, and maybe even before. For Asylum fans, ‘Hurry Up and Wait’ will definitely rank alongside their best.

Buy ‘Hurry Up And Wait’ Here

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Author: Craggy Collyde

 

I’ve always enjoyed Faz Waltz, but considered them the kid brothers to Giuda’s bang-on blend of glam riffs and muscular tunes. But, hey, it’s been a weird couple of years. While Giuda remain kings of the live stage, their last album was a tad patchy. I enjoyed some of the 80s flavoured songs, but it didn’t gel. This was the ideal time for Faz, Diego and Marco to show us what they’ve got.

 

While the sun is shining, no one feels too groovy about it, but this is going to brighten your day. Faz Waltz have brought their A game. You may have heard ‘Grown Up Guy’ and ‘Rebel Kicks’ already. The latter pounds the piano like Elton in ’74, and is almost as entertaining. Some bands don’t want to be image conscious, which I find puzzling, but the majority of songs here do the talking without the glam threads.

 

There’s no shortage of addictive riffs. ‘Got Me Goin’ tips a nod at an up tempo ‘Cmon Feel The Noize’, while ‘Broken Teeth’ has the edge of Mott’s ‘One Of The Boys’, before the Slade drumbeat drops in. ‘Rock N Roll Is Tough’ and ‘Born In The Wrong Time’ are very similar straight ahead rockers, one too many, perhaps. But, I imagine it’s perfect for a long drive with the windows down.

 

The two slower songs are amongst the highlights. ‘Do You Remember?’ namechecks T Rex, with appropriate backing vocals and a lilting piano somewhere between Bolan and Slade. ‘Heroes And Ghosts’ opts for the acoustic approach, and is a short, tender song.

 

My favourites so far are ‘Fighting On The Dancefloor’, which sounds like the Rubettes after one Watney’s Red Barrel too many, and ‘Is It Love?’, which ends the album on a Glitter Band beat and cracking melody.

 

Available on pink, white or black vinyl from the band’s Facebook page. No CD, as yet. Once we can actually get outside, it could be the soundtrack to the summer.

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Buy ‘Rebel Kicks’ Here

Author: Martin Chamorette

Their first album in almost 30 years, since releasing 1991’s World Outside and splitting up soon after. Reuniting early on in the Millenium, existing as a touring entity only, I was genuinely surprised to hear that the band had signed an album deal as I always assumed there was no appetite to record new material. With the bands last commercial peak being 1987s Midnight to Midnight they were seemingly destined to remain a nostalgia act spending a majority of their time on the road in the U.S.
 
A strong opener in “The Boy Who Invented Rock & Roll”, a great layer of brooding synth showing growth in their song output and even having a bit of a Dark Wave element. “Don’t Believe” is the established first single released back in January. It really sits in the foundations of classic non-pop Furs, which makes recent single “You’ll Be Mine” even more of a disappointment. It’s a limp number at best.
“Wrong Train” kicks off like a New Order football jingle though quickly detours into a bitter-sweet, epic confessional. Speaking of pills, car crashes and turmoil amid filthy guitar and sax duels. An absolute stand out track. The only low here being when it finally ends, though “This’ll Never Be Like Love” drags you into a somewhat beautiful pit of despair. The track really does hark back to the sound of their last two (criminally overlooked) albums.
“Ash Wednesday” has the same level of brood, but at over 5 minutes it never really goes anywhere and it’s a bit much to take. It’s the same case for “Come All Ye Faithful”, trying to be direct and edgy but coming across very much like filler material. “No-One” thankfully grabs us by the scruff of the neck and puts us back on course, giving us Richards Butler’s dark cacophony of lamenting croons.
“Tiny Hands” is very American rock radio commerciality straight out of the gates. It’s not terribly unpleasant, just very questionable production. The production here is provided by former member Richard Fortus (G’N’R fame). Not slighting Fortus’s role here, though I am disappointed the band didn’t go with someone who potentially could of put them to work. Someone with a similar background such as Flood or Alan Moulder?
“Hide The Medicine”, a very dreamy number that builds and builds but ends very abruptly almost as if it had never even begun? “Turn Your Back On Me” has really grown on me after several listens, revealing itself as a subtle but epic number. Album finisher “Stars” rolls in. Another dreamy composition, building in parts, taking us to a collage of sounds, distorted guitars and synths melding together only to disappear bluntly. A surprising track to place at the end, not really giving much as a send off.
Overall the album is a bit of a mixed bag. Not a classic but certainly not disappointing. My lingering thoughts only that I hope they try their hand at another release sooner rather than later. Definitely seek out this new album but be prepared to take the rough with the smooth.
Buy ‘Made Of Rain’ Here
Author: Dan Kasm
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ncz9b2dIHkU&feature=emb_logo