As I sit at my computer in the breeze-less July heat waiting for the tide to turn, I listen to some nice tunes.
Various: This is the Blues Vol 1 & 2
What better way to enjoy the summer sun than a couple of chock-full-of-goodness blues compilations. This is not a set of your favourite, non-blues types butchering the classics, but some hot players giving the tunes their due. Players on this set are too many to mention, but quite a few of the Stones show up as well as Gary Moore, and Ginger Baker.
This is stuff written by greats like Robert Johnson, Willie Dixon, T-Bone Walker, John Lee Hooker, and Peter Green. This is not your bog-standard “tribute” CD but a loving exploration of some classics. Obviously Jeff Beck is one hand as well as the aforementioned Peter Green and Southside Johnny.
You would be hard-pressed to find 30 blues tracks (15 on each CD sold separately) for your listening pleasure. If you are new to the blues, then these sets are what you are looking for. A very nice primer to the blues done by guys who know how to do it. It's part of a new series that should go from strength to strength.
Gentlemen of Distorted Sound: Bone Idol EP
The main man in this band is called Nugent, and is related to our Nugent (third cousin to be exact), hailing from Ireland. He certainly channels the same vibe as Uncle Ted, and you would be hard-pressed not to believe Gareth is Nugent’s direct flesh and blood. There seems to be something in the bloodline of the Nugents that the rest of us seem to lack. Oh and GDS’s logo even resembles UncleTed in his Indian headgear.
This is one of those EPs that leaves you wanting for more. They even get away with a great version of the ZZ Top classic “La Grange” completely unscathed. In a sea of some great, heavy-rock bands from the other side of the pond, GDS is certainly fighting for the top spot. You even forgive Gareth for singing lead in “Elvis the Musical” in London for a couple of years.
You would be a bone fool not to seek this EP. If you like heavy rock or Uncle Ted then this bunch is for you. It's honest to goodness great rock that is all you would expect. So how soon can we expect to see the young Nugent and his band opening up for this American uncle. That is one gig you would be a fool to miss. Hope they got a full length heading my way soon.
Colours of One: Bad News Makes Big Noise
Hailing from the same neck of the woods as Bullet for My Valentine, Funeral for a Friend, and Lost Prophets; they have been preceded by quite a few fellow Welsh musos. Of course, to many those names fill their minds with navel-gazing, plod-rock that clutter up the UK charts. Thankfully CoO have a bit more to them than eye-lining pseudo-goths.
They are melodic pop rockers who have are trying to do a good line in anthemic rock. They miss the mark mostly, with music that sounds a tad samey, but not by much. You have heard it all before, quite a few times, if you have your ear to the pop-rock ground. They show plenty of promise, however, and could be something special with a bit more originality.
One of the highlights is the track “Leech” with its far-reaching ballsy intro, which is the shortest track here. It's unfortunately ruined by lack-luster vocals and weak lyrics but with an arguably catchy chorus. This is is a so-called “mini-album” that would have probably been better as a tighter EP. There is clearly talent on here. With a bit better song-writing and some originality, they could go places.
Pierce the Veil: Selfish Machines
Remember the band The Rasmus? They were quite a big thing for a while with their Scandinavian poppy version of HIM’s goth rock. Well, these guys sound like an American version of that band. They are not bad, but they are just not as good. In fact, they could be a Rasmus cover band with a slightly less whiney singer. PtV does toss in a few hardcore screams to give it cred, but it doesn’t distract from the underlying fact.
Then again this band is probably aimed at teenagers too young to remember the Rasmus at their peak. The niggly thing is that this lot have completely pinched the sound and run with it. They called it “adventurous post-hardcore” and the reaction is well “whatever”. This stuff has been done before and done better. They really need to find a bit more originality and songwriting skill. The album sounds all the same and gets boring after repeated listens.
If you don’t mind throw away pop rock that is trying way too hard, then this might be right for you. I can see nothing of any interest to those with a more developed rock interest. Saying that, if they get the right break they might in fact do well.
Sorgeldom: Inner Receivings
In the middle of a hot summer day, what better way to cool yourself down than listening to music that evokes the cold wastes of Scandinavia. There are few bands that do that evocation with the same aplomb as this lot. “Vintern Van Hard” is an epic track that takes you away from whatever you are doing and into some surreal, cold expanse.
The band is a mixture of folk and black metal. They waiver from acoustic to full on black metal breaks. It's melodic and beautiful in places, yet brutal and aggressive in others. The album is a journey that is varied in expanse and outlook. Needless to say this is an album that takes a few listens to really sink in. The sparse use of vocals adds to inviting nature.
As with many such releases every listen can throw up different things. The music on here is meant to be complex and dense. It's melodic, but not exactly catchy, but never broody and navel-gazing. It requires a certain mood and some good headphones to truly be enjoyed. Not for everyone, to be sure, but if you like this sort of epic folk metal, it's worth the cost of admission.
I hope you keep cool where you are and enjoy some good heavy rock. Stay safe and rocking as always.