WINTER MOUNTAIN – Find, Follow (EP)
Winter Mountain are a duo consisting of Joseph Francis and Martin Smith. They met for the first time getting the same train at Chicago’s Union station and have since won a Battle of the Bands contest in Northern Ireland. This debut EP is a very strong set of three songs, with a perfect sound and a few experienced studio musicians in Robbie Macintosh (Paul McCartney/The Pretenders) and Audrey Riley (strings arranger for Coldplay amongst others).
Tipping their hat to CSNY and Simon & Grafunkel and not unlike newer bands like Mumford & Sons, the pair has strong tunes and vocals. ‘Shed A Little Light’ features a lovely guitar solo, whilst ‘Sarah’ is a jaunty piece of three minute pop folk. Based on these three songs roll on a full album! ****
UK DECAY – New Hope For The Dead
Another band coming back for a second go, UK Decay originally surfaced back in 1979 in Luton. They called it a day quite quickly in 1982 but not before ushering in similar sounding bands like Siouxsie & the Banshees and being cited as an influence by Tool and Trent Raznor amongst others. Fast forward to 2012 and they have recorded this new album with renowned producer Chris Tsangarides.
Some good songs on here like the single ‘Killer’ and the up and at ‘em opener ‘Shake ‘Em Up’ , plus they have certainly kept their punk roots intact (and that’s proper punk not the US lite version!). I have to say the vocals can wear a bit thin at times though. ***
The MACC LADS – Eh Up! The Collection
Another compilation from this northern punk / rock piss takers, but as it’s only a single disc it’s succinct and does without the less necessary b-sides and more puerile later work.
For those who don’t know, The Macc Lads were a mid 80s to mid 90s rock band with punk influences from Macclesfield whose lyrics were based on the northern stereotype with a lot of (rude) humour, and if they weren’t so tongue-in-cheek (something their critics clearly miss) they could have been considered misogynistic, homophobic etc, but it’s all to be taken with a pinch of salt.
Their later work saw them run out of ideas and hence they soon ran their course. But there’s many a good tune here, but not all original – Eh Up is clearly the Monkees song and Fat Bastard is a reworked Blockbuster. But Sweaty Betty, No Sheep ‘Till Buxton, Got To Be Gordon’s, Guess Me Weight and Ben Nevis all stand out. The lyrics may have been cheap but musically they were more talented than they were given credit for. There’s plenty a catchy rhythm and a decent riff and solo or two.
Only a couple of tracks come from the classic (yes it is a classic) Live At Leeds (The Who?) set, where the versions are quite superior, an album that if you don’t have then this will suffice quite nicely.
EBONY TOWER – The Magic Box Pt 1 (EP)
A new 4 track EP that features a solid prog metal, with some very very heavy riffs, the opening track is almost doomy.
The female vocals and occasional vocals work well. LSD is a lighter track with keyboards.
Well worth checking out.
HAWKWIND – Warrior On The Edge Of Time
This is as about as classic as Hawkwind get, and an essential prog / space rock album if ever there was one. This 1975 album was the band’s fifth and the last to feature bassist Lemmy.
Atomhenge have already released this album as a 3disc set so this single set in a digipak with one bonus track (Motorhead, the last song Lemmy wrote for the band) and a comprehensive booklet will more than suffice for all and any less than ardent fan. It also features a new mix, mastered from them original tapes so the sound is pretty amazing.
The lengthy Assault And Battery opens with a rhythmic space feel, and The Wizard Blew His Horn is spoken word with plenty of noise and effects. There are a number of spoken word segments which may have been intended as poetry by lyricist (and sci fi author) Michael Moorcock, but they are far from it.
Spaced out and rocking, if you have any interest in space rock or Hawkwind, this is essential listening, and Motorhead fans will love the history and original version of the eponymous track.
VICTORIUS -The Awakening
Second album from this German power metal band, and with production from Freedom Call’s Lars Rettkovitz. Opener Age Of Tyranny is fast and intense to the point of being brain melting, and while Starfire retains the power it is more melodic with some nice guitar harmonies. The riff to the title track adds a chunky feel, as well as some serious solos, and the vocals are powerful. Under Burning Skies the guitar work suites the machine gun drums perfectly. Great track.
Although at the melodic end of Power Metal it is furious fast and loud, and sometimes the guitar work nods to mid 80s trad-thrash. The sound is tight, very tight, and it’s very well produced too. If they’re half as energetic on stage as they are here it’ll be on hell of a show.
Marcus BONFANTI – Shake The Walls
Some very solid and heavy blues from Bonfanti’s latest album. Although he’s done much as a one man band, this singer/guitarist has a full complement of bass, drums and Hammond organ here and it beefs up the sound well.
Opener Alley Cat is heavy, with some Harmonica and slide guitar, and Cheap Whisky mixes hard rock and mellow blues, and is very whisky soaked.
The riffs are as solid as the band, and tracks like We All Do Bad Sometimes add an acoustic feel.
There’s touches of Pat Travers and (much less rough) George Thorogood, and a hint of Zeppelin too.
If you like punchy blues rock with mellow moments you’ll love this.
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Power Plays w/c 20 March 2017
THE WEEKS Gold Don’t Rust (Lightning Rod Records)
VANESSA COLLIER Cry Out (Ruf Records)
KOBRA & THE LOTUS You Don’t Know (Napalm Records)
INVIDIA Feed The Fire (SPV)
AS LIONS One By One (Better Noise)
Featured Albums w/c 20 March 2017 (Mon-Fri)
09:00-12:00 UNRULY CHILD Can’t Go Home (Frontiers)
12:00-13:00 KXM Scatterbrain (Ratpak)
14:00-16:00 MADISON VIOLET The Knight Sessions (Big Lake Music)
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