RECORD REVIEWS JANUARY-JUNE 2017
DEARLY BELOVED. Admission CD (Aporia) Although the band name doesn’t exactly inspire enthusiasm, this is actually a very convincing album. Based in their native Canada, you can tell straight away that this is a band who tour constantly, as the songs are solidly formed in a way that only happens when they’ve been properly road-tested. To follow-up this work, they have then chosen to go into the studio with a producer, Daniel Rey, who has both the technical ability and the raw knowledge of rock’n’roll to properly capture their sound. Combining guitars with an almost industrial electronic style, they’ve created an album that recalls the early live outings by Nine Inch Nails and Ministry (before they both became too heavy metal) with an alternating aggression and sense of space that recalls the likes of Faith No More or perhaps even Gang Of Four. At the heart of it, this is a Rock album, but it’s Rock made with a sense of adventure and character. In an age of conformity, this is a bold and exciting statement.
HEAT. Overnight CD (Topshelf) If you could imagine a cross between New Order and Pavement, this might be what you’d arrive at. The big hooks are based around the interplay of prominent bass lines and the deceptively simple keyboard melodies, while the vocals almost drone in dreamy but seemingly profound manner. Yet at the same time, the production is curbed to keep it at a very Indie level rather than going for an overblown approach that would make it far more ‘anthemic’ but lose most if not all of its’ own identity. The production certainly isn’t ‘lo-fi’, but tempered to allow the songs to find their own pace, while the arrangements have an inventive feel that add to the music rather than overwhelm it. It may not be the most original sounding album you’ll hear this year, but their approach certainly sounds fresh and you get the impression that they’re enjoying it as much as the fans. It’s good fun, don’t be scared to check it out !
NICK OLIVERI. N.O. Hits At All Vol,1. CD (Heavy Psych Sounds) The former Kyuss / Queens of The Stone Age legend releases a set of songs that he’s fronted for other bands, including Winnebago Deal, Svetlanas, Death Acoustic, Komatsu and (Pustelnik’s) Groundhogs. As you’d expect from the diversity of bands, this is a pretty varied selection of songs (some released elsewhere, others not previously available.) Komatsu’s ‘Lockdown’ is the closest to the stoner rock genre, with a heavy, driving riff-fest that recalls Lemmy-era Hawkwind. Death Acoustic perform stripped-down rants, while Winnebago Deal race through an impressive and convincing cover of Black Flag’s ‘Revenge’, with Nick providing one of his more demented vocal takes. Svetlanas perform an enthusiastic version of Motorhead’s ‘Speedfreak’ with a suitably edgy rhythm section, and finally, the Groundhogs end the set with a great slice of their Acid Rock style in the form of ‘Eccentric Man’. Oliveri’s voice is the element that maintains the continuity and ensures that this selection work really well together. The tracks sound as if they were recorded as much for the fun of the bands involved as anything else, and that’s what makes this such an enjoyable record. Put it on your shopping list now !
URBAN DOGS. Attack CD (Time & Matter) Apart from the fairly recent ‘acoustic’ album, this is the first full-on Urban Dogs album for quite a long time, but it still sounds as confident and natural as a band who were playing and recording on a much regular basis. Still featuring the original four members (Charlie Harper and Alvin Gibbs from the Subs, Knox of the Vibrators and Matthew Best (who has also played drums for Psychic TV in his time…) they obviously have a real chemistry, both as friends and musicians because this comes together in a very organic style, rather than sounding like a disjointed, occasional project. To a certain extent, I expect it is an outlet for songs that may not be appropriate for their regular bands, but the way they all play together make it something unique and valid. Charlie starts the proceedings with ‘Dancing on the Heads of Snakes’, a great, hard-rockin’ song that could’ve easily come from one of Iggy’s better solo albums. Knox then provides a cool contrast with his ‘Little Song’, which is all about the melody and the gentle sentiments of the lyrics. Alvin gets in on the act with ‘Sidewalk Baby’, a Dolls-style stomper that bounces along with an insistent tune and contagious chorus. The band cover different styles, from punk through to blues via glam and pop, and introduce both harmonica and keyboards to bring out further character in the songs. As with their earlier records, there are several covers – the perennial ‘Stepping Stone’ and a wonderful ‘You Can’t Put Your Arms Around A Memory’, adapted in their own way rather than just trying to replicate Thunders’ masterpiece. The finale comes with Charlies’ excellent ‘Whisky Song’, which ends the album on a more sombre, emotive, but also very melodic tone. It sounds as if the band had a lot of fun making this album. Now it’s your turn to enjoy it !