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Music Reviews: Welcome to Marty’s Meltdown

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This is the inaugural article in Marty’s Musical Meltdown, a column featuring reviews of both live music and recorded CDs, DVDs, LPs, EPs, and singles, as well as various musings about the world of rock music. Each week, I’ll write a column about the myriad musical stuff that currently requires my reviewing ear.

This week, I’m focusing on the harder rock bands in the mountain of CDs next to my computer. Next week will be a bit harder edged, with reviews of bands like Rob Zombie and Nox Arcana.

But first, I’ll start with a live review.

Concert Review: Diamond Dogs and The Pariahs

Last night saw a cracking gig from Diamond Dogs and The Pariahs — a couple of bands who share a label — at the Underworld in Camden in a cold Londontown.

Unfortunately, I missed the opening act while getting to the venue. I was told by various people that I didn’t miss much. While the evening was the coldest yet this autumn, it was a great relief to actually make it in the venue with no hassle. Kudos to Roland Hyams, a PR guy who actually knows how to do his job. But more on that later.

The Pariahs — Don’t Shun Them

First up were a five-man band of nutters from Toronto, Canada, in the form of The Pariahs. Now, just because they have a the before their name does not mean they’re The Strokes (et al.) copyists. The Pariahs combine edgy, punky vocals with an almost Mötley Crüe-esque band. The sheer energy of lead singer Mike Pariah (who looks like an accountant) and bassist Staci T. Ratt drives this band ahead during their performance. It helps a great deal that Ratt looks like the offspring of Nikki Sixx and a groupie. This lot deliver driving hard rock with a touch of the sleaze, reminiscent of The Wildhearts.

As I suspected, The Pariahs were awesome live, and their song “Joan Jett” was particular fun. Even though the band were playing to sod all people (and most of them either journos or musos), they delivered a performance as if it were Reading or Knebworth. And this is key: the band actually looked like they were enjoying themselves on stage. They actually want to play live. I should also add that I chatted with several band members, and they are bloody nice guys who were pleased to be on tour. They had rather good things to say about their tour-mates, and none of it seemed forced. If you get a chance, catch The Pariahs live; you won’t be disappointed.

Diamond Dogs–Ravaging

After a short interval during which both bands milled around and had a chat, the headlining Diamond Dogs appeared. One thing that was most obvious was that Henrik “The Duke of Honk” Widen was sitting down with his feet up on a monitor, looking as if he were at home in front of the telly. The guy wore a plaid waist-coat, is as bald as a hillbilly’s tires, and is as cool as a glacier. Another striking thing: Sulo, their lead singer, seems like a tall, younger Rod Steward with a better voice. (In fact, Diamond Dogs has done a song that Stewart turned down.) Sulo wore a brown ruffled black tie shirt with a brown suit. It was like being transported back to a 1970s prom.

The Swedish band have a sax/tamborine player called Magic, who looks like an extra from Fame. Talent and stage presence make this lot different from a high school cover band. For example, their guitarist can wail (and sing) but spends most of his time looking so cool you wonder if his fingers are even moving. The drummer, Jesper, has an afro and occasionally lets the lead singer play drums when he feels he needs the mic.

How many rock bands do you know that get their audience dancing? Even the bloody journos were dancing (not moshing) in front of the stage. No doubt due to the date (a Monday) and the weather, bugger all people were at the gig, which created a feeling of being at private party with people in the know.

This is Diamond Dogs’ first headlining tour to back their debut UK album,
Bound to Ravage. (They’ve released five CDs in Sweden.) I felt sorry for those people who missed such a cracking gig. This lot put on one of the best performances I have ever seen. They’re like the Quireboys and Black Crowes, had those groups never gone up their own arses on drugs and egos. The Dogs have been around for six years and count among their ranks musicians who’ve played with the Hellacopters, Johnny Thunders, and Dogs D’Amour. It’s no wonder they’re so tight and infectious. Not only are they bloody amazing live, they’re also damn nice blokes, happy to chat to journos and punters alike.

I think you get the picture: if you can see Diamond Dogs, do it at all costs. I shall be seeing them again when they return with Nazareth. Oh, yes, and they played most of Bound to Ravage. We were all having so much damn fun it was hard pay attention to the actual songs. A cracking night!

CD Reviews: Dogpound, Soul Doctor, and Wet Animal

Thematically, most of these releases are of a similar style to Diamond Dogs and The Pariahs.

Dogpound’s A Night in the Gutter

First up, we have another Swedish band, Dogpound. The music on A Night in the Gutter may be a bit less louche than Diamond Dogs’, but the quality is comparable. Dogpound seem like a cross between Tesla and KingsX, with a wide range of styles and a strong strand of quality running through them. The release is melodic, but with guts and glory. Tracks like “5 Seconds Away” just ooze pure melodic rock class. The final track, “Worth the Pain,” is just a wonderful song that leaves the listener with a cheesy smile on his face. A Night in the Gutter is yet another stellar Lion release from a band I hope to see live very soon.

Soul Doctor’s For a Fistful of Dollars

Speaking of Tesla, Soul Doctor are undoubtedly admirers as well, because For a Fistful of Dollars just oozes a Tesla type of vibe. Thunder comes to mind on some tracks, but Thunder never wrote tracks like “Cheap Down n’ Nasty”. The song sounds a bit like Tesla attempting to do a Hanoi Rocks gutter anthem. Featuring former members of Fair Warning, Frontiers has a great band on its hands with this one. With songs like “Best Way to Fade” and “Ten Seconds to Love,” what’s not to like? For a Fistful of Dollars is a CD worth seeking out; the Japanese version comes with a bonus track.

As I would Dogpound, I would love to see Soul Doctor play live. Maybe a joint tour be in order. It’s great to see this sort of slightly country-tinged hard-rock making a comeback. Good news: guys who know how to rock hard with a smile on their face and tongue firmly planted in cheek still exist.

Wet Animal’s Self-Titled Debut

Escapi Records’ Wet Animal, on the other hand, does a more Circus of Power/Motorhead type of simple straight-ahead, blues-influenced rock & roll. In their self-titled debut release, this lot produce a boatload of driving hard rock that slaps you upside the head and gets your attention. In press pictures, the band have that slightly threatening look. While less melodic than Soul Doctor and Dogpound, the sheer drive of this band’s combined scratchy vocals and driving guitar give it some great power. On tracks like “Outside a Hole,” lead singer Shane Pasqualla sounds almost Ozzy-esque in his style, while the guitarist has a Zack Wylde quality and appeal to his playing.

In fact, much of this disc shares quite a bit in common with Black Label Society. Then again, the ballad “Left Behind” sounds like it could be a Traffic outtake. It’s obvious these guys know what they’re doing and enjoy their task. Guitarist Rick Wartel founded the legendary band Trouble and started this band at Trouble’s demise. One thing is bloody obvious: they rock live.

Enough reviews for now. You should have enough here to keep your ears more than occupied. One thought on PR: as I mentioned above, I deal with a great PR guy, Roland (and his team), who does whatever is best for both the bands and his reviewers. Why can’t other PR people take as much care? Is it that hard to make sure people on your list get into gigs and receive their proper CDs?

Anyway, much thanks to Roland for a cracking evening of first class rock & roll.

I’m off to see Reculver tonight, so expect a review in next week’s column. If you have stuck it out this long, thanks for reading. Hope I get your peepers next week for another edition of Marty’s Musical Meltdown.

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About Marty Dodge

  • Cool – Escapi Records seems to be producing all the good stuff this year in hard rock

    Most PR guys are dealing with a volume of reviewers and bands, and perhaps they just get overwhelmed pushing, pushing, pushing…