RECORD REVIEWS, JULY-DECEMBER 2020
THE GENTLE SCARS. Songs for the Loveless CD (Detour) This is a rather interesting album. Taking their cue from Sixties Mod and garage bands, they combine those sounds with their own, contemporary interpretation to create something new and enticing. If punk begat ‘post-punk’, perhaps this could be loosely termed ‘post-mod’, but there’s much more to it than a mere label could define. Based in Liverpool, The Gentle Scars come from an interesting and diverse background (The Yachts, Pink Military, Mel-o-tones etc) and have mixed their influences to produce an album that’s powerful, intriguing and entertaining. ‘Lost Queens of Hollywood’ incorporates a sound that suggests a moody soundtrack, also featuring a great, fuzzed-out guitar break, but all the while remaining focused on its’ infectious melodic hooks. The title track borrows a hint or two from The Doors while ‘Mondo Trasho’ has an almost Glam-rock sensibility in the style of T-Rex or early Roxy Music, combining psych and rock in an instantly catchy slice of infectious pop. Elsewhere, ‘Burton Buzz’ bops along on a classic rockabilly riff and the last track, ‘Shadow of a Kiss’ begins in an atmospheric, twisted Blues styles before building into an unashamed Rock guitar finale. In most cases, something like this would be pretty cheesy but, as the band have already covered so many other styles, it works in a surprisingly effective, epic fashion. It takes a few listens to really appreciate this album, but once you’re there, you’ll love it. Make sure that you don’t miss it!
ContactLEGENDARY CHARACTERS. What Now? CD (Cryptic Clue) I first came across this Essex-based band when they opened proceedings at the 100 Club one evening. Their mix of styles intrigued me and, fortunately, they’ve kept in touch. I’m still not sure if I can figure them out… the CD they had with them at the 100 Club didn’t really sound like their set that night, and the next CD sounded different once again. Now, another year further along, and the new album is something else yet again! Not that any of this indicates a lack of focus or direction, because each set of songs is very solid and coherent, making perfect sense in their own setting. But even knowing this about them didn’t prepare me for the opening track of this new album. ‘Third Degree Burn’ is a brutal, metallic instrumental that heralds a much heavier sound for the whole album. What has prompted this particular direction is unknown (at least to me) but despite the hard rock riffs, their sense of melody and vocal style maintains the continuity from previous recordings. The title track veers back towards Sixties psychedelia, albeit with loud guitars driving it along, while ‘Ghost Story’ seems to have an almost folk-rock style at its’ core, whilst also embracing distorted guitars. ‘Neutralizer’, another instrumental, bops along to a complex riff while saxophones come in to give it a fine swing. ‘Connoisseur’ is probably the catchiest song on the album, an energetic slice of punky pop that is instantly catchy, perfectly poised before the menacing undertones of the final track, ‘Drown’, which dissolves into a howling drone of wonderful feedback. It’s a good album and probably not what you’d be expecting, but to my mind that’s a good thing. Track this down and give it your undivided attention – you may well be impressed! Contact email@example.com
ROLLING STONE: The Life & Death of Brian Jones DVD (Wienerworld) Directed by Danny Garcia, who also made ‘The Rise & Fall of The Clash’, ‘Looking for Johnny’ etc, this is a thorough and well-balanced documentary about the Stones’ founding member. As a natural musician (several interviewees comment that it seemed as if he could pick-up instruments and play them almost instantly) he was vital to the band in their formative years, not only establishing their original R’n’B sound but also introducing them to more experimental influences. However, tensions gradually developed within the band, with Mick and Keith gradually taking control of the group and several high-profile drug busts stirring things up even further. Brians’ drug problems and his relationship with Anita Pallenberg (who would leave him for Keith Richards) eventually led to his ousting from the band and, only weeks later, his untimely death. It’s this final episode that remains the most intriguing as there remains much doubt that the circumstances were accidental, as recorded by the coroner. By all accounts, Brian could be a difficult person to deal with and its’ known that he had been arguing with a builder, Frank Thorogood, who had been completing work on his house. Thorogood himself was alleged to have violent tendencies and much evidence points to him killing Jones during an altercation. Initially, the police even thought this was the case but strangely changed their minds and decided not to investigate any further, content with a verdict of misadventure. Fifty years later, it’s highly unlikely that the truth will ever be known for sure, but this documentary certainly makes a compelling case that Brians’ death was not the drug and booze-fuelled tragedy that the tabloid headlines embraced. With the use of archive footage, this film tells the story of Brian Jones as effectively as you would hope for, displaying both his talents and his failings and ultimately under-lining his massive contribution to the Rolling Stones and British music as a whole. His loss at such a young age quite probably deprived us of much more great music and this documentary re-evaluates his work to give him the respect he so rightly deserves.