Tag Archives: #mbloggers

LostAlone at The Borderline, Sunday 24th February 2013

Sunday night in Soho and it was a little quiet.  Everyone had obviously stayed at home to watch Adele blubbing at The Oscars Award Ceremony in Hollywood or had succumbed to the pulling power of One Direction on stage at the London O2 Arena. For, despite much favourable, even excitable press coverage over recent live shows and of course, their acclaimed second album “I Am a UFO In This City”, LostAlone’s audience was disappointingly thin for the last night of their headline UK tour.

evarose

Support came from two home-grown outfits.  Firstly, Oxfordshire’s pop/punk rocking lasses, Evarose who displayed a refreshing blast of promise and attitude from a young, all girl band, despite the glare of Disney Camp Rock style within their vocals, riffs and beautiful smiles!

deadfamous

Next up were squeaky clean London lads The Dead Famous.  Gigging together for just over a year, the line up took shape when drummer Dan Hetherton (formerly Elliot Minor) and singer James Matthews (formerly Go:Audio) got together to devise a new project.  The result is solid, mainstream sounding pop/rock that carries various influences such as Kings of Leon and Stereophonics.  A smattering of dedicated followers mouthed the words to most of the lyrics, but I had to admit that One Direction may have been more appealing for a while, until the debut single “Hide Your Halo” snapped it’s fingers at me, heralding the most outstanding track of their short set.

So, inside this intimate venue, with this even more intimate crowd, how did LostAlone turn the last night on the road into one to remember?  Despite having toured as supports to some very big names in some very big places, (My Chemical Romance, 30 Seconds to Mars, Paramore, Enter Shikari to name but a few), small, it seems, to LostAlone, is beautiful.

LostAlone Group Video Shoot

Steven Battelle (guitar/vocals), Alan Williamson (bass/vocals) and Mark Gibson (drums/vocals), produce music that is intriguing yet very difficult to put a finger on and certainly gives the impression of being out of this world, although, in truth, it is a delicate mix of what is and what has been before.  Songs take different shapes throughout, mixing thrash, punk, rock, pop and soaring harmonies.  They are a quirky trio, interesting and brave and although they have been likened to MUSE and Queen, there really is so much more in there.  Possible influences from the producer of their second album, Gerard Way (My Chemical Romance) are detectable in contorted “emo” style, but the melodies and lyrics are all individual to a band that strives to be apart from the crowd.

Despite the stagnant presence of their familiar audience tonight, they embraced the staid atmosphere, cut it with sharp hooks; slashed it with chilling vocals and tenderly wrapped us in the comfort of a seated circle on the floor in the middle of which Steven Battelle delivered a mesmerising acoustic version of the ballad “Orchestra of Breathing”. It was obvious that the young audience appreciated this sense of tribal belonging and we could see that Battelle really does have a talent for connecting with his listeners.  From the beginning of the set which opened with the majestic belter “Vesuvius”, through to the grungy grooves of “Blood is Sharp”; the three part harmonies of “Creatures”; the anthemic delivery of “Put Pain to Paper” and the cantering riffs of “Do you Get What you Pray For”, Battelle involved his audience throughout. Even for the hurried, Sunday curfew encore, he still made time to split the crowd to teach three part harmonising for “Love Will Eat You Alive”.  Evarose and The Dead Famous were invited to the stage for this too and the evening actually ended with a bit of movement in the crowd!

With their third album already in the making, it would good to see LostAlone headlining bigger venues soon.  Why, though, has it not happened already?  Perhaps the desire to remain aloof is stronger than the craving for acceptance?  Perhaps a sense of exclusivity and an aura of mystery is just how they like it?  After all, not every band wants to be going in One Direction.

This review can also be seen at www.stereoboard.com at http://www.stereoboard.com/content/view/177577/9


Album Review – Buckcherry – “Confessions”

Buckcherry

Wondering if I was about to open up a Pandora’s box of personal demons, I have to admit that I approached this review rather gingerly.  Would I relate to it?  Would it shock me?  Would it excite me more than a sip of communion wine and a wafer?  Of course, I knew, more than not, that there is no sense of humor in Buckcherry’s music.  The LA rockers’ distinctive American sound, merged with Aerosmith style qualities, is always dirty, mean, sleazy and bitter and usually crammed full of self-loathing.  I have discovered that “Confessions”, their sixth album to date, is all of this and more.

Based loosely on the Seven Deadly Sins, Josh Todd (vocals), Keith Nelson (guitar), Stevie D. (guitar), Jimmy Ashhurst (bass) and Xavier Muriel (drums), have given us a dose of the devil’s daily temptations.  Josh Todd’s lyrics are intensely personal and take us on his life journey battling/enjoying excess.  They are gritty, honest and conflicting.  Preparing for his confession, is totally compelling.

It’s true that I needed to get my ears around the entire thing at least three times before I found the album “growing” on me.  For example, by the time I had reached the end of the album for the first time, I was worried that such powerful subject matter didn’t seem to have been complimented musically or lyrically and fell into dangerously “samey” territory.  I wondered if “Confessions” was more confined (limited); conformed (restrictive) and confounded (perplexed by its many conflicting situations).  However, I have since decided that there are some outstanding tracks here that could well propel the popularity of this LP into the similar ranks of the acclaimed “15” and “Black Butterfly” albums.

In true Buckcherry tradition, the opening track “Gluttony” is a brilliant song with its expectant opening riffs, fast choruses and lead guitar solos. It is a blatant admission of eating, drinking, smoking and fornicating to excess, so much that “I wanna die and kill my dirty mind” would not be a detox solution too far!

From there on it is a biblical journey of both fighting and inviting temptation; of battling the weaknesses of human nature and at times endeavouring to cleanse the soul.  Take “Wrath” (and watch out, because this one is coming for you), with lyrics like “Hey man, do you wanna get a fist so hard, do you wanna see who’s in charge?” , it is full of pent up aggression that you can only pity when you hear the repetitive background plea “please pray for me father!”

Although “Nothing Left But Tears” is a song about tortured relationships it has a toe tapping; head nodding tune that pulses along with a big sing-a-long chorus.  “The Truth” is a lamenting little ditty bordering the classic Buckcherry ballad, that will have you getting your lighter out for a good old sway.

“Greed” is a solid track, perhaps not the most memorable for me, but it romps along with heavy riffs and choruses that plan to trample you in order to get what is wanted, with little regard for the consequences.  “Water” on the other hand, bursts with new life and is positively uplifting in comparison.

If there ever was a time when I felt that a sip of communion wine and a wafer was more exciting, then this would be during “Seven Ways to Die”.  It’s startling intro breaks the song title up with distinctive riffs and seems promising at first, but although the pace is quick it is also too repetitive throughout for my liking.  After this “Air” is what I need.  It is a song that slithers into some kick ass introductory riffage and I love the different levels within this track, especially the intermittent descending arpeggios within the verses.

Then again, prepare to suffer, this time with a sadness that will rip your heart out in the form of “Sloth”, another true to form Buckcherry ballad.  This time though, it’s more meaty and the great guitar solos soar through tragedy and loss.  From this, “Pride” transcends neatly across with a totally different structure to the last and I love the jiggy riffage, the talking verses and the memorable chorus.

Then we have “Envy” and “Lust” and although they are not the most memorable tracks amongst the other sins, they at least connect the sequence of despicably ugly human traits, if somewhat repetitively.

Finally, we have the calm after the storm; the haze of realisation and the light at the end of the tunnel.  “Dreamin’ of You” is a gentle number that rolls along in dreamy Simon & Garfunkel style.  Beautifully captured by Keith Nelson’s Gretsch, it is a time of reflection; to believe in yourself and to stand up tall, because all the bad things don’t last long – sure advice from one who has been there; seen it; done it.

In time, it will be good to see how these songs translate into the sister project that will accompany this album in the form of a short film written by Josh Todd.  For now, however, let this grow on you and just hope that you don’t see too much of yourself in there!

This review is also available at www.stereoboard.com via http://www.stereoboard.com/content/view/177352/9

confessions


Album Review – The Virginmarys – “King Of Conflict”

thevirginmarys

It is not very often that listening to a new album makes you want to cry, dance and brawl at the same time, but The Virginmarys’ “King of Conflict” does just that.  It is like getting caught in a ruckus that leaves you with a bloody nose, a smile on your face and a rush to the head.

So, it is easy to see why invitations to tour with Slash, Reverend & The Makers, Feeder and Eagles of Death Metal have arisen over the last couple of years.  The Macclesfield trio, Ally Dickaty (vocals and guitar), Danny Dolan (drums) and Matt Rose (bass and vocals) have often been compared to Led Zeppelin with a sound that resonates around the late 60s and early 70s.  Mix that up with The Stooges, the Foo Fighters and a smattering of Motorhead meets The Arctic Monkeys and you have one riotous reincarnation of grunge with a bluesy edge.

Produced by Toby Jepson (The Little Angels) and mixed by Chris Sheldon (Foo Fighters, Biffy Clyro, Skunk Anansie), “King of Conflict” is a thrilling exploration of a darker side of life.  Lyrically explosive, themes of destructive behaviour, helpless submission and hopeless loves lost, are tightly wound into a helter skelter of toe tapping drums, the grind of raw riffs and gruff northern vocals that sound like Lemmy after gargling mouthwash.

The fact that they have opened their debut album with their acclaimed single “Dead Man’s Shoes” doesn’t set the bar high for what follows, it merely sets the standard of the following eleven tracks as, well, outstanding.  “Portrait of Red” covers sensitive ground about male victims of domestic violence and demonstrates the bands ability to traverse moods with fleeting injections of Stone Roses essence.    “Just a Ride” has got to be my favourite track with choruses full of harmonies about the numb recognition of a failed relationship which rollercoasters along until the ride ends.  Slowing down slightly, “Out of Mind” produces interesting melodious interludes which deliver us neatly into pistols at dawn and gunslingers standoff style in “Bang, Bang, Bang” with its tortured lyrics and disjointed insanity.   Indeed, “Running For My Life” is similarly punctuated and conjures up images of retro cop shows complete with car chases interrupted by still frames and credits.  “Dressed to Kill” is melancholy and dangerous whereas “My Little Girl” is a get down and dirty striptease of a song.  “You’ve Got Your Money, I’ve Got My Soul” shuns the face of capitalism.

Finally, when “Ends Don’t Mend” winds you down with a false sense of comfort, its tones of atmospheric blues offering you that long awaited drag of oxygen, it is not long before the anticipation grows for another fix and soon.  This album is powerful, dangerous and daring.  It is one hit that will pulse in your veins for months to come and, believe me, the craving will never go away.

This review is also available at www.stereoboard.com via http://www.stereoboard.com/content/view/177179/9


Album Review – Heaven’s Basement – “Filthy Empire”

filthy empire

If one band has had more ups and downs than a groupie’s knickers, (if you’ll pardon that well-worn phrase), having tried and tried again for years on end, then surely, success must prevail for Heavens Basement at last?  With a history of hectic touring schedules behind and ahead of them; some significant band member changes over the years and two EPs to their name, the UK rockers are about to release their debut album, recorded and produced by John Feldman (Black Veil Brides/Papa Roach).

This is not an album that will “grow” on you if you like hard rocking heavy riffage, gut wrenching vocals, and slapping drums.  No.  It will grab you from the moment vocalist, Aaron Buchanan, screams the first blood curdling words “Welcome home!  Come In!”.  It will proceed to shake you up and down by the scruff of your neck and have you pressing the replay button from the moment the last note crashes out. Girls.  Boys.  The door is wide open upon this “Filthy Empire”.  Please, go through.

Bold and ballsy, “Welcome Home” is followed by the single “Fire Fire”, released towards the end of last year.  It has everything on offer from its distinctive intro, huge riffs, melodious interludes and tumbling lead solos from guitarist Sid Glover that take the song home to a Guns N Roses/Slash ending.

“Nothing Left To Lose”, a defiant song of no regrets, is their second single from the album.  It is full of chunky verses and an uplifting chorus that sticks in your head and I guarantee you’ll be singing that one for days afterwards.

“Lights Out In London” slows the process down slightly.  In the form of a bluesy number sung with bitter emotion conveying despair on the darker streets of London, it is a thought provoking moment before “I Am Electric” kicks in.  Now, stand back and bare caution, this one spits venom.  It is an in your face wakeup call in the form of a sharp slap about the chops that is finished off with a dash of screamo.

There are a couple of obvious clichés that glare occasionally, one being “The Long Goodbye”, taken from their second EP “Unbreakable”.  A song with twangy riffs reminiscent of The Cult, it is about not knowing what you’ve got until its gone, but that said it is well structured with varying melodies although the verses are a little unmemorable.

“Heartbreaking Son of a Bitch” tumbles along with unrelenting energy.  I loved the slightly distorted vocal intro which enhances the sheer bloody mindedness of a song delivered by Aaron with cocksure expression.  “Be Somebody” however, alters that divine moment when we get back to clichés.  It does display Aarons full range of vocal capabilities but the hard rocking attitude softens here and is more suited to mainstream listening targets with its easy melody and simply predictable lyrics – “I want to be somebody, I want to leave this town” etc.  It is a stadium anthem for sure, but one that I would choose to miss and take a trip to the bar.

“Can’t Let Go” from their first self-titled EP displays their talents for conjuring a multitude of melodic changes, with again, a slice of Guns N Roses style, and it takes us through the different levels of a love song hell bent on possession and obsession.

If there has to be a spine tingling moment on this promising album, then, “Price We Pay” will release the grip on the scruff of your neck and will tickle the hairs until you have goose bumps like mountains.  It is a delightful track with soulful vocals accompanied by acoustic guitar and piano, later joined by cello and the light peppering of percussion before soaring to a gentle crescendo.  This one keeps the album and the listener grounded.

“Jump Back” hurls us back to life with bluesy rock and roll, a good one for a dance about, before “Executioners Day”, the aptly placed finale on this album, races us out on the wave of a menacing stampede.

Having naturally gathered a multitude of influences in their time spent on the road, “Filthy Empire” proudly carries English eloquence and the result is Brit rock at its most potent. It is full of gigantic sing along choruses, powerhouse drumming, sliding guitars and chugging bass lines.

It’s true.  Heavens Basement have nothing left to loose and everything to gain.

This review is also available at www.stereoboard.com via http://www.stereoboard.com/content/view/177133/9