Quick plays: FOREVER STILL, KARI RUESLATTEN, CELIA ROSE

FOREVER STILL Tied Down

FOREVER STILL Tied Down
[Release date 15.01.16]

Danish female fronted heavy rockers Forever Still’s debut release is typically ‘in your face’ mixing some bludgeoning riffs from the fret board of Mikkel Haastrup, with melodic lead vocals from Maja Schoenning.

While their debut EP Breaking Free was fairly ‘straight ahead’ rock, Tied Down – their first long player – takes a major step in the direction fellow European symphonic rock purveyors like Delain, Nightwish, and the like.  And while the absence, in the main, of keys means that Tied Down doesn’t wear an obvious ‘symph’ badge, the song and vocal constructions are such that they’re going to appeal primarily to those with a bent for that genre.

Quality melodic hard rock with edgy riffs and soaring female vocals is fairly easy to come by in Scandinavia and Forever Still’s emerging sound fits seamlessly into the field.  Thankfully, male ‘Orc’ growled backing vocals (a pet dislike) are relatively few and far between, although naturally they do get an outing on several tracks.

Personally, I thought the band’s debut EP showed more individuality and that lack of identity – particularly in an area of the market that is beginning to rather stale and short of new ideas – could prove a stumbling block.  ***

Review by Pete Whalley

KARI RUESLATTEN To The North

Norwegian soprano singer, songwriter and keyboardist, Kari Rueslatten – as the lead singer of Norwegian doom metal/experimental band The 3rd and the Mortal from 1992 to 1994 was one of the forerunners of the style that gave birth to symphonic rock and inspired bands like Nightwish.

Now in her 40′s Rueslatten has trod an intermittent and mellower solo path in the intervening years with 4 albums between 1997 and 2005 exploring folk / acoustic and experimental sounds.  She then took a sabbatical before making a comeback in 2013 with a remake of The 3rd and The Mortal’s Why So Lonely featuring Tuomas Holopainen from Nightwish on piano and keyboards, and followed it up with her last offering Time To Tell in 2014.

To The North remains light years from her rock roots, an ethereal album that marries echoes of Clannad with Tori Amos.  Gentle, hypnotic rhythms abound, with Rueslatten’s ethereal vocals floating almost choral like, painting visions perfect for cinematic backdrops of sweeping barren northern landscapes.

The first single is a prime example – The Bryds jingling, jangling ‘Turn, Turn, Turn’ reinterpreted as a delicate, mournful duet.  If there’s a complaint, it’s that To The North rarely gets out of second gear.  But thankfully, there are no symphonic trappings (or rogue Orcs) either.  So, if you’re in the mood for something if not quite ‘ambient’, then at least angelic, look no further.  ***

Review by Pete Whalley

CELIA ROSE Zig Zag

It’s hard to hear the words Zig Zag in a song without images of The Spice Girls springing to mind.  But Celia Rose is no Sporty, Posh, Baby, Scary or Ginger, although she does peddle a light brand of adult pop that you could perhaps imagine that Emma Bunton might have delivered once the girl power phenomenon had run its course.

In contrast Rose began her music career in Alabama, and after releasing her debut album in 2000 moved to Haiti where she introduced her folk and American country style to the jazz/funk scene.  She moved to Paris in 2002 and completed her second album Butterfly.  That led to being sent on US cultural tours to Africa, and her third album was recorded after moving to New York in 2007.

Her 4th album Zig Zag was recorded in Calgary and by her own admission is a bit ‘here and there’ – a collection of ten songs written and re-written over many years.  The highlight is probably ‘The Other Side Of Me’ – a duet with Mike Buckley which has been included in the audio book for Nightfall – a teen thriller novel written by Jake Halpern and Rose’s husband Peter Kujawinski.

It’s a pleasant album, well put together and delivered – the title track is light and airy, ‘Fairy Tale’ breezy doo-wop, there’s lite-rock and ballads but while it’s hard to see where its overall appeal lies, it’s nevertheless rather enjoyable.  ***

Review by Pete Whalley

THE SCARS THAT HEAL IN TIME Double Exposure

Avril Lavigne has a lot to answer for in terms of the angsty panda eyed teenage rock look (and sound).  And while she influenced a generation, we’ve now got the next emerging – inspired by second generation artists such as Paramore, Halestorm and the like.

The Scars Heal In Time is a vehicle for teen sisters Kayla (guitars and vocals) and Tayler (drums) Smith supported by Judson Duncan on guitars and William Boyett on bass.  Given their youthfulness – Kayla was 14 and Taylor 11 when the band formed in 2010 it’s perhaps no surprise that Double Exposure doesn’t sound the ‘finished article’, or that the band’s name shortens to a sniggersome ‘SHIT’.

To their credit, they haven’t taken the ‘in your face’ approach that seems to be the current vogue, but instead adopted a more considered – and at times it has to be said, somewhat pedestrian -  approach that focuses on the songs, the vocals and some neat guitar lines.

And while there’s the makings of some pretty decent commercial pop/rock material on display, the overall impression is one of work in progress.  A glossy sheen wasn’t perhaps the girls’ aim, but you can’t help feel that a bit of production ‘magic’ could have made Double Exposure a monster.  As it is, it’s more a signal of intent.  ***

Review by Pete Whalley


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Power Plays w/c 14 October (Mon-Fri)

SANGUINE Ignite (Odyssey Music)
GOODBYE JUNE Switchblade Heart (Earache)
SAINTS OF SIN Nasty Love (indie)
SCARLET REBELS Heal (indie)
FLYING COLORS The Loss Inside (Mascot)
KEYWEST C’est La Vie (indie)

Featured Albums w/c 14 October (Mon-Fri)

09:00-12:00 DANGER ZONE Don’t Count On Heroes (Pride & Joy Music)
12:00-13:00 ECLIPSE Paradigm (Frontiers)
14:00-16:00 GALLAGHER & LYLE Live at De Montfort Hall, 1977 (The Store For Music)

Albums That Time Forgot (Mon-Fri)

ROBIN TROWER In The Line Of Fire (1990)



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