The self-proclaimed “Barons of High Energy Rock n’ Roll” Märvel celebrate their 20th anniversary with a double album of their greatest hits, B sides and hard to find tracks, collected together on vinyl for the first time.

The Swedish power trio, consisting of The King (Vocals/guitar), The Burgher (bass) and The Vicar (drums) play the sort of high-octane rock n’ roll usually reserved for the likes of Hellacopters, Gluecifer and Turbonegro and are influenced by the most flamboyant and hard-hitting rock bands from the 70’s and 80’s.

‘Double Decade’ follows the release of last year’s ‘Graces Came With Malice’ album and takes the listener on a ride through their 9 studio albums and a plethora of EPs and singles.

They open proceedings with the title track of their 2015 EP ‘The Hills Have Eyes’, a poptastic affair with handclaps, whistling and urgent, bombastic beats. It’s so “Disco Kiss” it could be an outtake from ‘Dynasty’. In complete contrast, ‘Bring It On’ from the same EP, sees the trio veer off the Kiss train into laid back blues slumber, as The King wails ‘Bring it on motherfuckers!” over a sloppily delivered Billy Gibbons riff.

Apart from the most recent ‘Graces Came With Malice’ and the covers opus ‘Guilty Pleasures’, all the studio albums are represented.  You wanted the best; you got the best! From the debut ‘5 Smell City’ to the 2017 release ‘At The Sunshine Factory’, we get a snapshot of the best Märvel have to offer. You want a band who sound like 70’s Kiss meets Hellacopters, with a smattering of Thin Lizzy and Bolan thrown about for good measure? Then look no further.

The punky ‘T.N.H.’ and ‘The Effort’ taken from the excellently titled ‘Warhawks Of War’ are two of my personal faves, along with ‘Pyrrhic Victory’ and the most awesome of B sides that is ‘Ambassador Of Fantastic’.

They include 2 new songs as well. ‘Catch 22’ and the killer ‘Turn The Page’ show that Märvel have not lost the art of penning a catchy chorus or two over the years.

Another highlight and a bit of a curioso is ‘The Devil Stole The Beat From The Lord’, taken from the Hellacopters tribute album ‘Payin The Dues’ and is a faithful rendition of the classic and fits the vibe of this album perfectly.

A lot of these songs you won’t find on streaming sites, there’s no videos on YouTube. Hell, you can’t even find any info on Google (you try typing in “Märvel” followed by “Motherfucker” and scroll through pages of Samuel L Jackson quotes!). But this sort of adds to the anonymity and excitement of the band and sets them apart from their peers.

‘Double Decade’ is a killer 23 track compilation of one of the best unsung bands of Scandinavian rock n’ roll, that have been treading the boards for the past 20 years. If you’ve not discovered the joys of a Märvel album, this is your perfect introduction. Long may they reign supreme.

Author: Ben Hughes

Those Northern herberts The City Kids are back with a new album under their collective studded bullet belts, and you best believe they mean business this time around. With Covid putting the brakes on any promotion and touring of their debut long player ‘Things That Never Were’, the four-piece punk n’ rollers (led by former Main Grains guitar slinger JJ Watt), avoided becoming ‘the band that never were’ by battening down the hatches during lockdown and planning their sophomore album remotely.

Whereas the debut City Kids album was a collection of songs that frontman JJ had already written and arranged himself, the resulting follow up album ‘Filth’ is a collaborative effort and a step up both sonically, creatively and artistically.

Berty Burton’s bass rumble on the opening title track, paired with Dave Sanders urgent beats ensure the listener is paying attention from the off. JJ’s unmistakable growl has the grit of a 40 a day habit and the stench of last night’s rum & coke session still on his breath, while the metallic licks of former Warrior Soul man Dennis Post seal the deal. ‘Filth’ is…. well, it’s downright filthy from the word go!

Next, the upbeat ‘Alone’ rides along on a glorious melody and some killer guitar work, its over before you’ve had time to sink another drink. Things are certainly cooking in the world of The City Kids two tracks deep.

The overall sound is raw and ramshackle, but with the guidance of a certain Dave Draper overseeing JJ and Andy Brook in the production and mixing department, it is also a bit of a monster. The delivery is cool and collected and the songs are as memorable as the heroes the band aim to channel. Their punk n’ roll sound is a mash of Social Distortion and The Yo-Yo’s with hints of JJ’s previous band to the fore. As with the debut, melody is prevalent and the hooks are there for all to savour.

The gritty, high energy single ‘It Should Have Been You’ is as much fun as you can have with your clothes on and the punchy, Wildhearts-esque ‘You Wanna?’ is an early stand out that sinks its teeth into the subconscious and stays there for good. There’s something overly familiar in the pop-tastic melodies of ‘Scars’ that sits well, and the pub rock goodness of ‘Self-Righteous’ will have you coming back for more time and time again.

Is it me, or have JJ’s vocals got rawer over the past few years? Maybe the dude’s been chewing glass over lockdown to get that authentic Lemmy / Mike Ness rasp! Shout out to the backing vocal department on this album, the likes of ‘Something Faster’ and ‘Ghosts’ have a quality you don’t hear every day. Full band vocals and memorable choruses go a long way to elevate the tunes to anthemic sing-a-longs.

Ten tracks of no-frills filth, job done!

If you like your music with dirt under the fingernails and grease in the hair, if you dig no frills rock n’ roll with 3 chords and tons of attitude then The City Kids could be right up your street. ‘Filth’ is a step in the right direction for JJ and the boys and is available now to purchase on a shiny spinning disc with a cool cover. I suggest you click on the link below and add it to your collection. Hell, buy a few for Xmas pressies, RPM Santa insists!

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Author: Ben Hughes

1994 was a very good year for music. Everything was a bit edgy back then. Alternative was king, Grunge had killed hair metal and in turn was dying a death. Nu Metal and Industrial sounds were on the rise with Korn and NIN, Green Day and Rancid were spearheading a punk movement for the MTV generation and over in the UK Oasis were making waves, while The Wildhearts and Terrorvison were regularly seen bouncing around on Top Of The Pops.

Bands had to adapt to survive and those that did survive released arguably the best albums of their careers. From Manic Street Preachers and King’s X to Motley Crue and Warrior Soul, all with varying degrees of success but all had one thing in common and that is: those albums stand the test of time nearly 30 years on. And of course, Michael Monroe was in that mix as well with a band called Demolition 23.

Following the ill-fated Jerusalem Slim project with Steve Stevens, Michael Monroe went back to his roots, collaborated with Little Steven and wrote a punk rock album in the spirit of ‘77. Pulling in Hanoi Rocks bassist Sami Yaffa, Star Star guitar slinger Jay Hening and session drummer Jimmy Clarke, what started as a covers band jamming with friends, turned into a serious project.

Recorded in 5 days at Power Station Studios in New York City, produced and largely written by Little Steven along with Monroe and his first wife Jude Wilder, the eponymous 10 track album was a throwback to the Hanoi days and a tribute in spirit to lost friends and heroes such as Stiv Bators, Johnny Thunders and Charlie Harper.

To be honest, the production job back then was pretty spot on and you would have to play the original back-to-back with the remaster to spot the differences. But I’m pleased to say it sounds as crisp, fresh and damn right essential as it did back in 1994.

I always loved Monroe’s thought-provoking lyrics and album opener ‘Nothin’s Alright’ has always been a favourite. From the roaring, 3 chord riffage to the cool lyricism, each verse a love letter to the past 3 decades (at the time), it channeled the much-needed gap between the Sex Pistols raw energy and Hanoi’s penchant for a catchy tune.

The following ‘Hammersmith Palais’ again, is a retrospective look to times and places that are long gone. A theme that has continued through Monroe’s lyrics to this day. A punked up blast with an anthemic “oi-oi” chorus that is an instant earworm. It’s about as British punk as you can get, which is quite a thing considering its Finnish/USA writing heritage! 

A killer one-two as good as any album before it, and a pair of songs that remain constants in Michael Monroe’s live set to this day. Demolition 23 sound energized, fresh and vital in 2022.

As Demolition 23 was initially a covers band, it makes sense that a few of those tunes they jammed would feature. The Dead Boys ‘Ain’t Nothin’ To Do’ and UK Subs ‘Endangered Species’ are suitably raucous and filled with attitude. But its Johnny Thunders ramshackle ‘I Wanna Be Loved’ that blows the cobwebs off, even by today’s standards. Hening’s guitar tone is perfection and the vocal delivery has enough spit and venom to better the original. It’s a glorious blast that the band make their own.

‘Scum Lives On’ was originally on the Jerusalem Slim album. The Demolition 23 version is rawer and more in tune with the punk attitude. Even the dumb ass, tongue in cheek ‘Same Shit, Different Day’ sounds vital.

The emotive ‘You Crucified Me’ showcases the Van Zandt/Monroe ability to pen radio-friendly hit singles, and you probably forgot how good it was until you listen to this remaster. It sounds like it was recorded last week, not a lifetime ago.

The included demos of ‘Hammersmith Palais’, ‘Dysfunctional’ and ‘Scum Lives On’ are curiosos and don’t vary too much from the originals, but surely must be a testament to the fact that these 10 songs were the full recorded legacy of one of the greatest forgotten bands of the 90’s.

Of course, good things never last. Hening was replaced by Nasty Suicide on guitar by the time they started touring, but he left in March 1995 and the band folded soon after. Hening tragically passed away not long after and while Sami continues to play in Michael Monroe’s solo band, as far as I am aware Demolition 23 have only reformed once for Monroe’s 60th birthday bash in Helsinki recently.

With only a limited release in 1994 on CD, this is an album that has been crying out for the vinyl remaster treatment for years. It remains a lost classic and hopefully, this remaster will give it the distribution and worldwide regard that this long-lost classic album truly deserves. An essential purchase folks.

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Author: Ben Hughes

Usually seen bouncing around on stages singing about whales & dolphins and the benefits of tequila, Terrorvision frontman Tony Wright travels a much more melancholy path when it comes to his solo albums. With Terrorvision being a part time concern these days and his printing studio/coffee shop Bloomfield Square in Otley keeping him busy, Tony still finds time to record solos albums and tour acoustically with his faithful sidekick/Terrorvision keyboard player Milly Evans.

Following his 2014 debut solo album ‘Thoughts n’ All’ and the follow up 2016 album ‘Walnut Dash’, Tony releases a third solo album, written during lockdown, entitled ‘The Anti-Album’ that sees the singer take a more honest and darker approach following being locked up with just a guitar, a bunch of songs and nowhere to go.

‘The Anti-Album’ is a lo-fi, stripped back and largely acoustic affair that sees the singer questioning life, love and faith. Musically it sees Tony explore the Country & West Yorkshire vibes that were prevalent on the ‘Grand Ole Otley’ covers album he did with Texan singer/songwriter Ryan Hamilton a few years back.

Over the ten tracks on offer there is a sense of reflective melancholia, more than a few home truths and a need to escape the harsh realities of life. Album opener ‘Sleep’ seems to say it all. With a simple bass drum beat and an acoustic riff that hints at the MASH theme ‘Suicide Is Painless’, all Tony wants is to turn off the lights and sleep all his troubles away.

Next, we have a pair of tracks that exude spaghetti western vibes, aching desolation and soul searching. ‘Nothing To Write Home About’ is a tale of unremarkable small-town existence. Love, heartbreak and divorce is a familiar tale to most, yet here in this context it completely enraptures the listener. The following ‘Get It Wrong’ creates a dramatic and desolate mood with its country twang and heartfelt passionate vocal delivery. It sees the singer questioning his ability to tame that old beast we call love. It builds nicely over a stripped back sound that creates an expansive, almost cinematic vibe. Stunning stuff indeed.

Of the three singles released so far, ‘Dreaming I’m In Love’ is the stand out for me. Tyla-esque heartfelt balladry at its best. With heart on sleeve, Tony delivers a tune that proves one man armed with just an acoustic guitar, 3 chords and a head full of passionate lyrics can be as powerful as a whole orchestra on a big stage. Beautiful and emotive goodness that will bring a tear to the eye.

‘Buried You Deeper’ with its intertwining guitars and harmony vocals is a stand out cut also. While the quirkier ‘Cannonball’ showcases Tony’s honesty and Yorkshire humour, tackling a tale of despondency and despair. “Nothing going for me, shit hair…shit teeth” he sings during a tale of dreaming big dreams.

Tony Wright is an artist who has spent some time soul searching and now seems to have found his identity as a singer/songwriter. ‘The Anti-Album’ is a collection of songs that showcase the wit, sadness and irrefutable charm of this Northern soul. A dark, rootsy record that is a stark and honest look at life and could not be further from the care-free, party tunes that Terrorvision are best known for. Yet it is just as essential as their finest records.

‘The Anti-Album’ is available on vinyl and CD and a 17-date tour to promote the album will wrap up with a hometown show at Nightrain in Bradford on November 6th.

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Author: Ben Hughes

Album number 3 for LA garage rock darlings Starcrawler sees the band broaden their musical horizons and aim to break away from the feral punk rock that they are best known for. ‘She Said’ is Starcrawler’s lockdown album and sees the band going through some major changes. The addition of Bill Cash on guitar/pedal steel now makes the band a five-piece, a major label deal with Big Machine and a big-name producer in Tyler Bates is as much a statement of intent as the opening track and first single ‘Roadkill’.

With 10 songs delivered in just over 30 minutes, ‘She Said’ does not seem that much of a departure really, but sonically and songwriting-wise it definitely is. Then there are the videos. Produced by Gilbert Trejo and featuring cameos from Steve O and Danny Trejo, it seems Starcrawler have pulled out all the stops. Hey, I’m sold, not only do they sound good but they look good too! With the pink/black imagery they have going on and a singer with the best hair since Michael Monroe in his Hanoi Rocks days,  Starcrawler are the poster band for the younger generation.

Live, it’s definitely Singer Arrow De Wilde and guitarist Henri Cash who steal the show but let’s not forget that in the songwriting department bassist Tim Franco is credited with the duo in every song.

So, to the music. With urgent beats and a wall of guitars ‘Roadkill’ explodes from the speakers. If there was ever a song designed to deliver a statement of intent, then this was it! A chorus that wraps around your brain like a viper waiting to strike, it will not leave your head intact. Arrow’s lazy, dreamy vocals, Henri’s backing vocals, and the relentless stabbing feel of the tune pummeling with every beat. 2 minutes and 22 seconds of punk rock energy.

The radio-friendly title track follows. It has that grunge quiet/loud/quiet format and sounds more like Hole than Courtney Love has in 20 years. It helps that the songwriting is first class and they have the coolest middle eight I’ve heard this year. De Wilde’s nonchalant vocal delivery and Cash’s wailing licks are a match made in heaven. One of the standout tracks of the album for sure.

A killer one-two is always a great way to start an album, but there is the risk of shooting your musical load prematurely. ‘Stranded’ is ok with a so-so chorus that does grow with repeated listens, and ‘Thursday’ continues with spikey, new wave vibes, but ultimately falls short.

Then we get to the point where Starcrawler have really excelled themselves and broken the mold. ‘Broken Angels’ is a cinematic affair, with strings, killer beats, and a melody to die for. It exudes romanticism and LA cool chic, in the same way, ‘Hollywood Ending’ did, but here they do it better.

With its effect-ridden guitars and 80’s alternative stylings, ‘Jetblack’ comes on like The Pretenders meets Duran Duran, sideswiped with early Hanoi Rocks, a sound I can’t really fault. Again, in the likes of ‘Midnight’ Arrow’s delivery has this dreamy, new wave quality to it that sits well.

The pop-punk of ‘Runaway’ is fantastic, and the sort of thing Starcrawler excel at. High energy, catchy, and pumping. De Wilde’s dreamy, yet powerful vocal rules the show and it has definite Ramones/Runaways vibes. I must note there is an acoustic version of this on YouTube of the band performing on a canal boat which is just as good but creates a completely different vibe.

Which leads us to the countrified album closer ‘Better Place’. It sees De Wilde and Cash share lead vocals over acoustics and pedal steel guitars. The juxtaposition of the male/female vocals works well, and the dreamy, emotive vibes created bode well. If this is the direction Starcrawler finds themselves heading in the future, then I’d be happy with that.

With a fistful of potential hit singles and the coolest album cover of the year, Starcrawler are definitely making a statement with ‘She Said’. While it’s certainly their best, most cohesive album to date, it still feels like a band who have more to give and are still finding their true direction. The fact that it has 3 of my favourite songs of the year and their recent live show was one of my highlights makes Starcrawler one of the most exciting bands of the year for me.

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Author: Ben Hughes

The long-awaited Ginger Wildheart & The Sinners debut album is finally here, 3 years after The Wildhearts main man formed the country-tinged project with guitarist Neil Ivison and bassist Nick Lyndon of Stone Mountain Sinners. Picking up drummer Shane Dixon along the way, the band retreated to Mwnci studios in the heart of West Wales with Dave Draper at the helm and recorded an album that finally sees the light of day, 2 years after it was mixed.

With a release on Little Steven’s Wicked Cool Records label, the home of RPM faves such as Jesse Malin, Ryan Hamilton and Prima Donna, we expect very good things from Ginger and his boys.

This self-titled, debut long player is a 10-track affair that takes a trip down a dusty, country road, taking in a choice cover or two along the way. Opening track and first single ‘Wasted Times’ is a perfect introduction to the good time, southern rock n’ roll that The Sinners deliver. There are catchy melodies aplenty, lush harmonies for miles and a killer chorus that refuses to leave your brain. It instantly sounds like an old time classic. You wanted the boys to start big? Well, they delivered!

It seems trading his Les Paul for a Telecaster and sharing lead vocals was exactly the therapy Ginger needed after the headfuck that The Wildhearts has been for him the past few years. There’s a sense of camaraderie here, and the immediate reaction I get from this album is how remarkably upbeat, positive and fun it is. I mean, 3 songs into this album there is a tune called ‘Footprints In The Sand’ that is so uplifting it gave me goosebumps by the first chorus. I presumed it was a cover, but it’s not. With Neil taking lead vocals over dampened chords, it sounds like a classic Springsteen track, or a John Cougar Mellencamp tune, but it’s not. With a rousing, building chorus over ringing chords, you will swear you know it already. It’s the sort of anthemic, Americana I adore, and I think you will too.

‘Work In Progress’ has more southern boogie than a Georgia Satellites album, but with that certain Ginger trademark song structure. And just when you think you have the song sussed, in comes some crazy-ass female vocals that take us into Black Oak Arkansas territory. But who is the mysterious Ruby Starr impersonator? We need to know.

With no press blurb or details I have no idea who writes what regarding the original tunes, but Wildheart and Ivison wear their influences on their sleeves and covers-wise they give us a couple of classic album tracks you may or may not be aware of. The band tackle the aforementioned Georgia Satellites ‘Six Years Gone’. The faithful reworking is perfectly executed and they make it their own. But with Neil taking lead vocals again, Status Quo’s ‘Dirty Water’ is turned into the euphoric, country rock classic you never knew you needed in your life.

Elsewhere, the beautiful, acoustic balladry of ‘Breakout’ is up there with some of the frontman’s finest reflective moments. The likes of ‘If You Find Yourself In London Town’ and ‘Geordie In Wonderland’ come to mind. Full of lush harmonies and a sense of longing and regret that could well bring a tear to your eye by the end.

They finish the album with a tongue-in-cheek comedy tune that nods its head to The Wurzels. There’s a ‘live in the studio’ feel that sees all the albums’ singers take a verse. With a great gang vocal sing-a-long, and a fade out to raucous clapping and cheering, it seems the perfect way for The Sinners to bow out.

With a good deal of country twang, a whole heap of glorious melody and an overall sense of fun, Ginger Wildheart & The Sinners have delivered a debut album that is a much-needed ray of sunshine in these strange and dark times. Guaranteed to leave a smile on your face and a sense of contentment within, this album is proof that music is the greatest mood changer out there.

With the follow-up album already recorded and the band touring in October, it seems the future of the UK Americana/roots music scene is firmly in their hands.

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Author: Ben Hughes

Formed in 2017 and with a self-titled long player released back in 2019, London 3-piece power pop sensations More Kicks return with their sophomore album ‘Punch Drunk’ on Stardumb Records. And they promise a heavier, more expansive sound with an album born of frustration, anger and heartbreak during lockdown. Consisting of James Sullivan (Sulli) on vocals/guitar, Kris Hood on drums and Paolo Mantovani on bass, the band continue their campaign for world domination with an explosion of fuzzy guitars and pop sensibilities.

While the lush, choral harmonies that introduce opener ‘Hurts Like Hell’ may bring to mind indie folk darlings Fleet Foxes in a Nashville church, the sound of More Kicks has two size 9’s firmly planted somewhere in a London garage.

Recorded live in the studio onto 2” tape (as with the debut album), they barely breach the 3-minute barrier for their melodic, power pop ditties that resemble the sound of Mega City 4 jamming Buzzcocks and Sonics cover tunes. Current single ‘Terminal Love’ is a fine example of how this band mix indie beats, jangly guitars and melodic goodness to great effect. Lyrically dealing with a relationship that has run its course, it’s a remarkably upbeat ditty with a chorus that will ring around your skull for days, and a vocal that sounds like Paul Heaton banging out an Undertones tune. More Kicks are sure onto a winner methinks.

With its ‘My Sharona’ riff, ‘Animal’ was the lead track from an EP that preceded this album release. It is delivered with a primal statement of intent; the refrain builds nicely as fuzzy guitars accompany a passionate vocal. With just enough powerhouse drums, bouncing bass and shouty, gang vocals, the high energy ‘Good Enough’ is a blast from start to finish. It even has a Wildhearts-esque chuggy guitar bit thrown in for good measure. There’s a definite Senseless Things/MC4 thang going on here, which can only be a good thing in my book.

Yeah, like fellow London reprobates The Speedways, it seems More Kicks are the kings of lo-fi power pop. Potential radio hits flow left, right and center over the course of this 12-track album. It is short, sweet and to the point. Feedback and a bass drum build to a frantic beat that introduces the punky ‘In Love’, a song that takes us back to late 70’s punk and new wave. Distorted power chords, crashing drums and killer gang vocals drive the primal feel of ‘Come Home’.

They tone down and tug at the heartstrings momentarily. The picked chords, echoey vocals and sweet melody of ‘Got Lucky’ come over almost like a nursery rhyme, with the rhythm section playing a bare bones accompaniment, just enough to give it some depth. Elsewhere, with just a reverb-soaked guitar as accompaniment, Sulli delivers the raw and emotive ‘Phoney Middle-Aged Art’, its short length leaving you wanting more.

Mixing up the garage rock sounds of the late 60’s & 70’s with definite 90’s indie rock leanings, More Kicks have produced a fine follow up to their debut album. ‘Punch Drunk’ is 12 tracks of raw, power pop goodness, written during a time of emotional change and forced isolation. Like we always say, bad times bring out the best in a songwriter and ‘Punch Drunk’ is a testament to that.

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Author: Ben Hughes

Here at RPM we pride ourselves on our diversity, like to think we cover a wide range of artists and we strive to step out of our comfort zone at every opportunity. So, taking a 2-hour car journey and seemingly stepping back in time a good 100 years or so, I head to The Toon for one of only five (mostly sold out) UK shows from Nashville’s best kept secret Sierra Ferrell.

Born and bred in West Virginia, Sierra Ferrell grew up on a diet of punk and grunge. She started busking in her 20’s and adopted a nomadic lifestyle, where she discovered a love for bluegrass and swing music, adopting her style to suit. She settled in Nashville and signed a 3 album deal with Rounder Records, releasing her debut album ‘Long Time Coming’ in 2021. Some say it’s her solo performances, preceding the album release and uploaded to YouTube, where this girl truly shines.

Sierra Ferrell has a voice that sounds like it should be on old, crackly vinyl, and in a live environment, as on record, she has the ability to transport the listener back to another time.

This is Sierra’s first visit to the UK and many of these long postponed European dates are sold out, so it’s no real surprise that there is an air of anticipation and excitement leading up to the performance. Its already hot in The Cluny as Sierra plucks the opening chords to ‘In Dreams’ and walks on to whoops and hollerin’ from the packed-out crowd. Wearing a red, flowery dress, matching cowboy boots and her hair up in rollers, she certainly looks old school country, yet it’s the septum ring, tattoos and ultimately the quality tunes that sets her apart from the usual Nashville country artists that come our way.

Flanked by Oliver Bates Craven on mandolin and fiddle, and upright bassist Geoff Saunders, the diminutive singer takes us back to another place, another time with her ageless, gypsy jazz and folky laments that incorporate as much calypso and Latin influences as they do country.

For an artist who has just one album, she seems to have a cult following in the UK. Looking around me the demographic is similar to an Alabama 3/Primal Scream sort of crowd, a mix of gig-hardened 50 somethings, alternative students and die-hard roots music lovers. A Glasto sort of crowd, a festival which funnily enough is happening as we stand here. How is she over here this weekend and not playing? She would be perfect at Glastonbury. Maybe next year.

A lot of people know all the words tonight and it’s a very vocal and upbeat crowd. There’s a lot of chat, a lot of foot-stomping and a whole lotta singing. Yet, a song like ‘Whispering Waltz’ stops everyone in their tracks and you could hear a pin drop while we are mesmerised by the near perfect rendition. Sierra transports the listener to the mountains of Virginia with mournful, rustic accompaniment and a stunning mandolin solo (not a phrase I ever thought I would say!).

They pretty much play the whole album, past singles and a few covers. Highlights for me would be the gypsy jazz of ‘The Sea’, the countrified ‘Bells Of Every Chapel’ and the heartfelt balladry of ‘West Virginia Waltz’ that was simply outstanding.

There was also a new song which will be on her next album called ‘Fox Hunt’. It featured Oliver and Sierra both on fiddle and had a foot-stomping, folk driven intensity that brought to mind The Levellers at their finest. This I liked a lot, instantly gratifying and judging by the whoopin’ and hollerin’ from the crowd, I was not the only one. A song that promises good things for album number two.

Between songs, Sierra sinks a large wine glass of something pink and makes use of the strategically placed fan to cool down. The main set closes with the finger-pickin’ delights of ‘Jeremiah’, one of those YouTube wonders that has the crowd singing along.

No drums, no electric guitars, just simple, honest songs played by 3 players on stringed, acoustic instruments and a voice that is effortless in its perfection.

They sure missed a trick not having any vinyl on sale tonight, as you can’t find the album for love or money over here, but the t shirts were cool, so that was a bonus.

As we always say at RPM, we strive to bring you the cool artists from the underground, the ones on the way up, the ones who bring something a bit different and edgy to the table. Sierra has something, from the first video I watched and the ensuing YouTube rabbit hole I went down. It was well worth a 2-hour trip and I will do it again when she returns. She will return, she expressed a wish to live here from the stage tonight. When she does come back, I highly recommend you check her out. In the meantime, has anyone got her record for sale please?

Author: Ben Hughes

Sounding like the best night out on the wrong side of town, Dalston’s finest and dandiest vagabonds The Urban Voodoo Machine return with their long awaited and much delayed fifth long player ‘$nake Oi£ Engin€’.

Led by the vivacious Mr. Paul-Ronney Angel, the black n’ red wearing collective have been wowing audiences for well over 15 years with their self-proclaimed “bourbon-soaked gypsy blues bob ‘n’ stroll”. Some say they are the best live band in the country, others say they are just a bunch of drunken ne’er-do-wells. Both could be right, but one thing’s for sure, you cannot ignore them.

Recorded back in early 2020 at Space Eko Studios by The Future Shape Of Sound main man Alex McGowan (who also produced alongside PR and drummer J-Roni-Mo), ‘$nake Oi£ Engin€’ captures the relentless live energy of a band who have been described as The Pogues meets Gogol Bordello playing the last damn party at the end of the universe.

Paul-Ronney Angel writes songs about living in London as an outsider. Relatable issues such as the struggles of addiction, depression, mental health problems and being fuckin’ skint! With a love of The Clash, Tom Waits and AC/DC, these swampy blues jams, New Orleans jazz inspired ditties and mournful murder ballads have been lovingly crafted by the ringleader and his crew over a bevvy or three, and a few smokes along the way.

Four of the eleven songs have been previously released as singles and soundtrack the Covid/Brexit years better than the frontman could ever have imagined. The prophetic ‘Living In Fear’ was written as a dig at the Windrush scandal and the Grenfell disaster, and took on new meaning post-Covid when we actually were living in fear. The Caribbean feel created with the addition of steel drums and brass is upbeat and fresh, and a memorable hook is always going to win me over.

‘Empty Plastic Cup’ is an ode to the rich getting richer and the poor getting fucked! It has ‘Goodbye To Another Year’ vibes, with typical bombastic, UVM backing vocals, a killer sloppy guitar riff and enough brass to kick your ass! It builds and builds to a climactic finish; you just know it’s gonna be a live favourite.

The big band vibes of ‘Johnny Foreigner’ fit the bill and the lyrics hit home even with the raw, tongue-in-cheek vocal delivery. A larger-than-life tune delivered by a larger-than-life band. The reflective ‘January Blues’ is the morning after the night before comedown. Again, with hindsight it could be a prophetic reaction to Covid as the singer drawls “last year you can fuck right off, and this year, I’ve had enough of you” over mournful violin and acoustic guitar.

Of the new songs on offer, opener ‘Little Jimmy & The Wrong Crowd’ is an early favourite. The unmistakable PR vocal drawl is omnipresent, the blasts of brass and primal beats glorious as ever. But the surprise vocal rap is sung by James Brown II and the overall Cuban feel of the track give a new dimension to The Urban Voodoo Machine killer sound.

‘Pill Popping Cross Dressing Copper’ is 2 minutes of musical insanity, another high-energy party song to add to the arsenal. ‘Hell’s Caravan’ is a sombre, death march with regimental drums and killer voodoo backing vocals, ‘Dropping Like Flies’ an ode to lost friends, while the ringleader takes us to church with the gospel-tinged sermon ‘Carry Your Weight’.

There’s enough diversity and familiarity to please fans old and new and something to whet the appetite for those who are yet to capture the band live.

Live, The Urban Voodoo Machine channel gypsy punkabilly rave-ups, mariachi marches, outlaw country and bluesy jams, with a heady dose of burlesque and circus sideshow craziness when available. These are the sights and sounds of The Urban Voodoo Machine, and ‘$nake Oi£ Engin€’ is the perfect soundtrack to the crazy world of the band who just refuse to die.

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Author: Ben Hughes

Taking a break from opening stadiums for My Chemical Romance, L.A. shock rockers Starcrawler take a visit to the sleepy Yorkshire town of Hebden Bridge for one of only 2 UK headline shows. The intimate Trades Club is the venue and its not even sold out, probably due to the fact that Aussie punks Amyl & the Sniffers are playing down the road in Leeds, taking away some potential punters.

It is busy though, and from the first howl that Arrow De Wilde yells during opener ‘Goodtime Girl’ and the ensuing goosebumps, I can tell it’s going to be a killer show. I knew Starcrawler were going to be good, but not this good. With just white satin trousers and a bikini top covering her sleight frame, Arrow struts the stage pulling all the cool rock star moves, she screams like a banshee and you can’t take your eyes off her. With a dark stage and good backlighting, she looks almost ethereal with her long blonde hair, teased higher and better than any 80’s glam band you care to mention. Imagine Patti Smith meets Michael Monroe and you’re getting close.

Live, Starcrawler are definitely the Arrow & Henri show. The livewire guitar player does not stand still and spends the majority of the one-hour set wringing seven shades of shit out of his guitar. He wrestles with the instrument like it is a weapon, like he is fighting for every note, when in reality that is far from the truth.

It doesn’t all run smoothly though. At one point he loses his guitar strap mid-song, causing a Stevie Ray Vaughn style strap change, while not dropping a note[or the guitar], very slick. The guitar player halts the show during a storming version of the Ramones ‘Pet Semetary’, when he thinks he spots some aggro in the animated and rowdy crowd. Turns out to be a false alarm and the onstage chaos and disorder resumes.

New single ‘Roadkill’ sounds fantastic, ‘I Love LA’ is a given and the country-tinged Jackass theme ‘If You’re Gonna Be Dumb, You Gotta Be Tough’ transcends into punk rock chaos of the highest degree, the crowd lap it up.

The Pretenders-like single ‘No More Pennies’ is a cool respite from the Stooges-like raw, punk power that has the crowd excited, but material like closer ‘Beat My Brain’, with its sonically overdriven guitar lick is where this band truly shine.

Encore ‘Chicken Woman’ is a filthy wall of Sabbath-inspired grunge that culminates with the singer jumping into the crowd for a pogo before disappearing for good. Meanwhile, her guitar-wielding cohort has coaxed a female fan onto the stage and strapped his guitar on to the bewildered girl, leaving her to strum out unknown chords to a wall of feedback, as the guitarist casually walks offstage for the final time. A brilliant climax to a short but sweet set.

Starcrawler have been wowing the My Chemical Romance fans and it is easy to see why. They have the looks, the energy and the stagecraft. They also have some bloody good tunes under their studded belts. I’d heard they were good live, but I must say I was more than impressed tonight. With 2 great albums already, an imminent 3 and a formidable live reputation, the future looks great for Starcrawler. They may not play such intimate venues on their next visit, but you must see them.

Author: Ben Hughes

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