It is fair to say that Danny B Harvey is something of a rockabilly legend. He has played with many of the greats, including Wanda Jackson, as well as more recently being a member of the band Headcats. This album sees him joining up with Mysti Moon to produce an album which brings some charisma and sexuality to the blues and folk-country sound.
The country rockabilly sound of many of the songs is there straight away with “Straight To Hell”. It is a simple and effective song and a good introduction to Danny’s guitar skills and gives just a hint of Mysti’s vocals. It is just one of a number of straight up, top quality rock n roll songs on the album, this includes “I’m Wild About That Thing” and “That’s It, That’s all”.
We get to hear more of Mysti’s vocal skills on the cover of the classic track, “Black Betty”, a song which it is impossible not to sing along to . It is on the delta blues of “When The Levee Breaks” that her vocals really shine. Her voice is as smooth and sweet as honey. On “Send Me To The Electric Chair”, she delivers the tale of a hard done woman who has killed her man in a crime of passion. It is hard to believe that the judge in the song will be able to resist her seductive charms. Even on a song like “House Of The Rising Sun”, which has been sung a million times before, it is the beautiful voice which really makes this version work.
The great thing about this album, however, is the way that both of the artists just blend so well together. On “St Jane Infirmary”, Danny takes the lead on a down and dirty blues song. It is a track that just slithers and slides along like a giant, hungry snake. “See That My Grave Is Kept Clean” is also similar in style. In comparison to the other songs on the album it has a much darker and more sinister tone.
When an album features Danny B Harvey, you kind of know what to expect, a high quality, authentic rockabilly sound, delivered with passion. Having not come across Mysti Moon before, it is a really nice experience the way she adds a different feel to the album. It also really works mixing up the vocals, although it would also have been nice to hear some actual full duets. We can only hope that there is yet more material to come from this collaboration.
The Long Tall Texans – “The Devil Made Us Do It”
This is the latest album from the psychobilly band, The Long Tall Texans. Describing their sound as “amazing, sugar-psycho-country-rockabilly-western punk- cocktail” you should probably know that this not going to be some run of the mill album.
After the mainly instrumental intro of “Taxi”, we get a great example of what the band is all about with “Girlfriend”. Whilst they may be considered psychobilly, this is really just a fast paced rockabilly song. Unlike many bands of this ilk, there is far greater use of humour rather than shock or horror. This is certainly true with the title of one of the other songs, “Sex Beer and Psychobilly”. It’s always good when a band spells out it’s influences and passions in their song titles and,lets be honest, it’s not a bad list! Then on “Terry” it’s a similar style, but this time the band add in more of a ‘pop’ feel to the vocal sound.
“Kamikaze Killer” is closer to a more straight forward psychobilly sound, with it’s quicker pace and darker lyrics, a style which also influences “Covered In Sin”. “Kill Me” keeps the same theme going, but this time adds the hint of a country sound. Although we are talking more Wild West than barn dance!
Whilst not exactly child friendly, ‘What Part Of Fuck Off Don’t You Understand”, see that sense of humour coming back. It opens with a classic fifties doo wop sound, but eventually moves in to a great fun rock ‘n’ roll song.
The best songs,however, feature towards the end of the album. “I Fell In Love With A Zombie” sees that psychobilly influence with the reference to Zombies, but again they make it in to a much lighter and fun song. This continues into a horror double feature with the brilliant “I Used To Feel Funny”, this one being about being a werewolf! Again it’s a corker of a song with a cool punk riff and some great tongue in cheek lyrics.
The final song “Feels Like Ice” opens with some great Glitter Band drums, before a brilliant crunching, glam guitar riff kicks in. The punkabilly sound then takes over to leave the album on a real high, with this probably being the best song on it.
The Long Tall Texans associate themselves with the psychobilly scene, but they actually offer much more than just being a cliched band in that genre. A lot of this is to do with the humour used, but importantly this is not throwaway or to the detriment of the songs themselves. The second half of the album is particularly strong. It would be great to see a band like The Long Tall Texans cross over to a wider punk/rock audience, because they certainly have a lot to offer.
Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings – “Give The People What They Want”
Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings are a band who have not only played at major festivals and on some of the world’s best stages, but have also attracted the respect of legends like Beck and Prince, no small feat. The anticipation for this latest release, has been given a somewhat different feel with the news that Sharon had been diagnosed with cancer. However, symbolically of this album, she has come out of that difficult period with a continued sense of strength and determination.
The first track, and I believe single, is the brilliant “Retreat!”. As Sharon herself has stated, the lyrics on this track take on even more poignancy when you know about her own fight with illness, even though the intended subject matter is very different. The song itself is a great soulful number, which immediately highlights her wonderful, powerful voice. The feisty feeling is kept up with “Stranger To My Happiness”. The sound is just awesome, with its great classic soul appeal. It has all the right ingredients, with the powerful voice, beautiful backing vocals and some great horns.
There are, of course, also some slower and more emotional songs, including “We Get Along” and “Making Up And Breaking Up”. The second of these is the real ‘heartbreaker’ song on the album, despite it’s references to Humpty Dumpty! There is no doubt, that many a post break up tear will be shed, whilst drinking wine and listening to this song.
Many of the other songs, such as “Get Up And Get Out” are fantastic, funky, soul numbers. “You’ll Be Lonely” must be a contender for one of the future singles. These songs, have a brash and funky sound and are just crying out to be played on Craig Charles’ soul show on BBC 6 Music. “Long Time, Wrong Time” is another similar song and this is up there with the Motown greats and has an Aretha Franklin level of quality. Then on “People Don’t Get What They Deserve” and the title track “Give The People What They Want” they move a bit further forward in time, to deliver more of a Northern Soul type vibe.
“Take Time, Make Time” sadly brings the album to a close, and it is a surprisingly slow and laid back track. It can only be presumed that this is to allow the listener time to calm down and catch their breath after all the dancing they would have done to the previous songs.
“Give The People What They Want” is a very appropriate title for this album, as it’s a classic soul album rooted right back in the golden age of Motown. Does this mean it sounds old fashioned? Hell no! There are some types of music which just have a timeless appeal, and old school soul is one of those. This album should appeal to all fans of the genre, from those who love the original sixties sound, right through to those who have been introduced to it by more modern artists such as Amy Winehouse and Adele. It’s an absolutely top album and highly recommended.
Bree – “All American Girl”
You won’t be able to miss the cover to Bree’s album, as it has her sprawled across the front hugging a classic Gibson Flying V guitar. It may come as a bit of a surprise, however, to hear that she is a castaway from a religious cult! When you hear the rocking tracks on the album it is clear that she has drawn on a wide range of influences, ranging from Buddy Holly, Eddie Cochran and Patsy Cline to The Beatles, The Who, The Clash and The Ramones.
The album opens with “I’m The Boss” which, as the title implies, is an upfront, kick ass rocker, it’s all crunching guitars and handclaps. Bree’s voice has that Nashville sound to it, and is very similar to another rocking country girl, Lydia Loveless. The opener is quickly followed up by the equally impressive “You Can’t Take The Heart Out Of Me”.This has a great glammy guitar sound before it moves in to a big, sing a long chorus. A style which is returned to later on in the album with “Dance All Night (With My finger In The Air)”, another good time rock n roll song but with a glam pop feel to it.
“Forbidden Fruit” steps up the raunch a bit with lyrics like “I wore my lucky stilettos and a sexy dress so tight”. We can be pretty sure that the cult she grew up in certainly wouldn’t have agreed with the “forbidden fruit’ being discussed in this song. Then on “Whisky” things get even friskier, with the opening being a slow and seductive beat, but we are soon on to lyrics like “When I smell whisky on your breath, gonna take off this dress”. It’s a heady mix or pop/rock chords, choruses and slower interludes.
The album hits something of a pop rock crescendo with “Do You Wanna Love Me” which has a real Cheap Trick stomp to it. “All American Girl” keeps up the good time girl lyrics and whilst she may well be an all American girl, we are perhaps not talking about the wholesome apple pie type girl. “I Hope You’re Smiling” is a more restrained song which allows for more heartfelt lyrics, which really see that Nashville country sound in her voice come to the fore.
We are soon back to the more upbeat, sunny feel with “Nothin’ But Trouble” which, with it’s added finger clicks, has more of an almost rockabilly feel to it. Then on “Heart And Soul” we have a song which opens up with a great drum beat, which could almost be the start of a Kiss glam rock hit.
“All American Girl’ is a pretty accurate description of Bree and this album, it’s upbeat and in your face and yeah it may be a bit ‘brashy’, especially for us UK types. That doesn’t mean it’s not good, in fact it’s excellent. This is a collection of great pop rock songs, with a big dollop of glam glitter added on top. Bree’s voice has a sweet country vibe which often contrasts with the actual contents of the lyrics. The songs bring to mind having fun in a packed U.S. bar with plenty of beers, and maybe quite a few whisky chasers if Bree herself is around!
The Bullets -“Sons Of The Gun”
The Bullets are a relatively new band, but the fact that their debut album, “Sons Of The Gun” is released on Western Star Records tells you that it is going to be one of quality. It is a label which has a great track record in delivering rockabilly bands, and with The Bullets, we have a band who are keen to bring a rawness to their sound.
The album opens with “Jump When I Want”, and it begins with an upbeat song with a traditional rockabilly sound and the added impact of some nice handclaps. There is a classic fifties sound on “Mean To My Baby”, which keeps it simple with the strumming bass carrying the song along. This sound is taken a further with “I Don’t Wanna” which has a neat line in rebellious lyrics which are, of course, so important to the whole story of rock ‘n’ roll.
When you hear the lyrics “Listen to Elvis on the radio” on the song “The Beast in Me” you know that The Bullets are not afraid to wear their influences on their sleeve. This is a great little track and the lyrics leaves you in no doubt what is needed for a good time, according to the band. It certainly sounds like an accompaniment to a raucous night! Then on “She’s So Sleazy”, we are introduced to the girl who might be willing to share that night. She is described as having “Ruby red lips and a careless stare”. The lyrics may not be too PC for this modern world, but sometimes rock n roll just isn’t meant to be! The influences continue to shine through on many of the songs, with “Desperate Man” adding a hint of country and the piano on “Do You Love Me” giving it a real Jerry Lee Lewis kind of vibe.
Amongst all the more traditional songs there are still a few treats thrown in. On “Blue Light” they add a real feel of the blue suede shoes with its stop/start guitar pattern. Then “Frantic And Wild” adds a fifties rock ‘n’ roll effect. This song could easily feature in a scene from one of The Kings Hollywood films.
The album ends with the title track, “Son Of A Gun”, and it brings a bit of a surprise. It has a trumpet opening and the whole song slows the tempo down. There is almost something of a Mexican bandit feel to it. In some ways, it might have been better to have this song earlier in the album as it would have provided a nice break amongst some of the other more straight forward rockabilly songs.
The Bullets have certainly achieved their desire to produce an album of raw rockabilly. It will certainly have a ready built audience amongst the fans of the label it appears on. The band will also have no difficulty finding rockabilly shows at which they will be able to deliver their songs to an appreciative audience. In fact, one thing The Bullets should certainly be praised for, is delivering an album full of original tracks. So often, even with long standing bands, albums of this type are littered with cover versions. Credit therefore to The Bullets for not taking the easy option.
This is the debut album from a UK trio who have a rockabilly/psychobilly type sound, but have also managed to expand the song further than those genres. They are actually due to release a new album this year but, in the meantime, you definitely need to check this one out.
Opening song “Work It Out” immediately gives a great example of the band’s sound. It has that kind of rockabilly feel, but it has more of a punk style. Like second track ” Way Long Gone” it’s punkabilly rather than falling in to the often cliched psychobilly sound.
“Little Games” takes the intensity up a bit more and has a real ‘rock’ feel to it and nicely moves away from the more ‘quaint’ sound you might associate with the rockabilly genre. Then on “Break Free” you know the guitar sound is being achieved by the strings being really hit rather than just strummed. “Running Wild” leaves you in no doubt that the whole band want to rock out. This time, the drummer really crashes the kit alongside the guitar.
Changing it up a bit, “I’m Going” has a really brilliant opening with a great swagger about it. It’s a simple style but really reeks of trouble and attitude. This swagger reappears on “None Of It Matters” with it’s great double bass strum. The bass and the drums really drive the rest of the song along. That old school rockabilly influence still manages to fight it’s way through on “Black Or White” and then on “Wait And See” which has that great lip curling, hip shaking feel to it.
A special mention must also go to the song “Mr Ducktail”. We can only presume that this is an ode to the great rockabilly barber at It’s Something Hell’s. If there is a track that will want to make you have a greased up pompadour then this is it! Importantly, Knocksville also show that they can take the foot off the gas for a bit on “Forever Young”. It’s a nice change of pace and gives the listener a little breather. The song “Yup” brings the album to an end, with it’s surf drums leading to an instrumental ‘wipe out’ to finish it all off.
This is a brilliant album which shows that you can take a traditional influenced sound, kicking and screaming in to a new era. So much rockabilly inspired music can be contrived and restrained and many forget that it’s origins lie in being rebellious and dangerous. Thankfully, Knocksville are a band who are happy to remind us of that fact. This album will certainly have you desperately awaiting the new release. In the meantime, you should grab this album,y along with your leather jacket and get down to It’s Something Hells to get that cut and a hair full of grease!
Nina Persson – “Animal Heart”
Nina Persson, will perhaps sadly, always be known as being the lead singer of The Cardigans and ‘that song’ from Romeo & Juliet. This is despite the fact that her former band had a much wider career and she has also been a member of A Camp. She has now gone on to release her first solo album, “Animal Heart”.
The album opens with the title track and the first thing that hits you, is Nina’s fantastic voice. It is clear, crisp and beautiful. The song itself is a laid back, effortlessly cool, adult pop track. It is the first of many songs which share these characteristics. “Clip Your Wings” is another neat little pop gem but has more of a purposeful vocal performance than many of the other tracks.
There are also some soulful, ballads, such as “Burning Bridges” and “Dreaming of Houses”, both of which have a ‘sparse’ feel. The second of these songs adds an almost sixties, carefree, pop feel to the sound. The album reaches a pop peak with “Food For The Beast”, and this is probably the song which will most appeal to the fans of The Cardigans. It still retains the ‘stand offish’ coolness that is apparent throughout this album, but displays more of an attitude and passion. A sense of anger is also present in the delivering of the lyrics on “Catch Me Cryin”, which works really well against the electronic backing.
There are also a couple of tracks which incorporate some different styles. On “Forgot To Tell You”, there is even a kind of R & B feel to it. It actually sounds like it may have taken a sample of a song to create the underlying melody. “The Grand Destruction Game” changes things again, with it’s hints of an Americana/folk feel. It again retains the more electronic sound and in many ways it shouldn’t work, but Nina manages to pull it off.
The album ends with “This Is Metal”, which is a pretty apt description of the actual style of music this is definitely not! Instead, this is a modern, adult pop album which has a totally relaxed and laid back feel. Describing it as ‘Sunday morning music’ sounds like an insult, but it’s not. It would be a perfect accompaniment to a lazy, sunny, morning in Spring.
Whales In Cubicles – “Death In The Evening”
Whales in Cubicles are a London based band who have been building up a lot of momentum and getting some well deserved attention ahead of the release of their debut album, “Death In The Evening. Although it has to be said the name alone is something that will at least attract some puzzled enquiries!
“Yesterday’s News” opens up the album with a hard to ignore rocker. It seems to combine a lot of influences but has an almost British indie mixed with Nirvana feel to it. We also see this on “Golden Medal” which has that same type of ‘grunge’ feel but this time we are talking more of a feedback heavy sound a la Mudhoney but still with that melodic undertone.
The first single from the album is “All The Pretty Flowers” and rightly so, it’s a great melodic song. It builds patiently and has the feel of a live favourite where eventually the crowd will take over singing and continue long after the band have stopped playing. “Disappear” moves from an acoustic opening to a huge rock sound and again has the feel of a future single. Although it will face tough competition from “Nowhere Flag” which is probably the song with the greatest commercial ‘hit’ feel about it. This time they allow the melody to dominate the sound and over power the normal, more down beat feel.
The band also show an important ability to slow things down and show a more sensitive side. “We Never Win” has a more restrained opening before punctuating the rest of the song with musical outbursts of emotion. Whilst “Across America” shows the slower build up and has the same epic interludes but this time it’s the impressive voice of the singer which really hits home.
It all concludes with the eight minute epic, “Find Your Way” which has a truly intense sound. It opens smoothly, but again we soon see the band deliver a clash of distorted sounds and feedback.
There can be no denying the fact that this album casts more than a cursory glance at the grunge era. The structure of distorted guitars and feedback to disguise the underlying melody of the song is apparent on many of the tracks. It will certainly appeal to fans, both old and new, of that style and genre. It is an intense album which is brimming with passion. Ironically, the admittedly strange name, is somehow appropriate as there is a large amount of noise and passion squeezed into each of the songs.
Fanfarlo – “Let’s Go Extinct”
Fanfalo are a band who blend a whole load of influences and sounds to create some wonderful music. This does tend to make them difficult to pigeon hole in to any particular genre so may be that’s why they haven’t, yet, reached a much wider more mainstream audience. This may, however, all change with the release of their third release, “Let’s Go Extinct”.
It begins with a slow and dramatic intro to “Life In The Sky” before it moves in to an eighties sounding drum beat. Eventually the co male/female vocals of the song build it up in to an epic electro pop type sound. That eighties sound is also present on “A Distance” with the feel of the drums and keyboard. It is reminiscent of the band The Virgins, who were the next big thing a few years back. The song picks up the pace as it moves to a glorious chorus.
The track “Cell Song” has more of a dreamy feel to it and the song floats along to a great shiny chorus. This same style keeps going on “Myth Of Myself (A Ruse To Exploit Our Weaknesses)” but this time is delivered in a more dramatic and downbeat sound until it reaches a huge crescendo at the end. There are some lovely female backing vocals on “We’re The Future” and they provide some warmth against the colder keyboard sound.
It is on ” Land locked” that the band really let their pop side shine, it is a great modern, dance pop, song. The vocals here actually take on an almost Brett Anderson of Suede style. This song is certainly the one which could be the cross over big hit for the band. The pop feel is kept up with the chorus of “The Grey And Gold”. Like many of the songs on the album, it has an emotional undertone. In fact, it is as if a Smiths’ song has been given a total overhaul and turned into a proper pop song.
The title song concludes the album in the same way as it started, with a longer more epic sounding song. It opens in a slow and melancholic manner with an almost Damon Albarn/Blur feel. This time it doesn’t build up to an upbeat finale but instead it is more of a symphony of sounds that wash over you.
This is an album which is just a pleasure to listen to. It’s full of finely crafted songs which are capable of totally engaging the listener. There are bands such as MGMT who have taken a similar approach in using a, perhaps, retro electronic sound to achieve huge success. This album certainly suggests, that not only are Fanfarlo capable of that but also, more importantly, they deserve it.
Lydia Loveless – “Somewhere Else”
Even though it’s only February, it’s been a busy year for Lydia Loveless, having already released an EP earlier in the year and now this full length album. “Somewhere Else” is probably more a return to her country rock roots after the quite commercial and ‘pop’ EP.
This is demonstrated right from the off, with “Really Wanna See You” where it is a rocking country number. As usual, it’s Lydia’s voice which catches your ear from the off. It has a great country twang, and yet still sees her sometimes spitting out the occasional harsh lyric. This song is oe which really could be a big U.S. radio hit.
Then on “Wine Lips”, there is more of a laid back rhythm with some neat harmonies, as it turns into a melodic pop love song. It is probably one of the most commercial sounding songs on the album and is certainly one to have you singing along to the chorus. Whilst “To Love Somebody” has a pop/rock influence and is a bright song with a melodic guitar sound, driving it along.
The album also sees Lydia keeping up her trend of name checking other stars. This time it’s “Chris Isaak”, on a song which has a big, full on, country sound.There is more of a country love song feel to “Verlaine Shot Rimbaud” and it’s full of emotion that gradually fires up with a sense of frustration. “Somewhere Else” builds on this but gives a more epic feel. The maturity of this song and the likes of “Everything’s Gone” actually bring to mind an almost classic Fleetwood Mac esque sound.
“Hurts So Bad” has a slower beat and a more restrained feeling to the music itself. The vocals themselves also perfectly deliver a tale of heartbreak. This song, along with “Head”, form a mid section which suggests that we are experiencing a Lydia who has been through a tougher emotional time than the angry young punk of her earlier releases.
The album’s final track is a great cover of Kirsty MacColl’s “They Don’t Know”. It also provides a nice reminder that Lydia hasn’t lost her sense of fun and it’s a neat ‘pop’ end to the album.
On first listen, this appears to be just a natural follow up to previous releases, as the influences of pop, rock and country are all there. However, there is much more to it than that and, in some ways, appears to be dealing with a very different artist. Certainly, the punk/angry side seems to have been toned down and replaced with a more thoughtful and melodic side. It is, dare I say it, a more ‘mature’ album, but that undercurrent of rebellion is still there in the vocal delivery and the lyrics. It could also very easily see her develop a wider appeal, especially in the US. Thankfully, there are also still enough glimpses of that brattish punk attitude to make sure her original fans are kept on board at the same time.
Various Artists -“A Psych Tribute To The Doors’
Any tribute album is always going to be a difficult one, especially for a legendary band like The Doors. The job is made even harder by the fact that many of their fans are die hards who regard them, and Jim Morrison in particular, in a god like status. It’s therefore inevitable that such an album would have some hits and misses.
So lets get the negatives out of the way and talk about those songs that don’t really work for a variety of reasons (not always the fault of the bands who perform them). By example, “Love Me Two Times” by Psychic Ills doesn’t work, mainly because it is one of The Doors simpler songs. It is just a plain rock n roll song and so a slower version just sounds like any poor covers band unable to generate the excitement of the original (for a great version though, check out The Aerosmith one!). Whilst Sons Of Hippies’ version of “The Soft Parade” just highlights what a rambling mess the original one was really. Similarly, “Touch Me” by Clinic is just an appalling version of, admittedly, another of The Doors’ weaker songs.
However, a couple of the worse mistakes are made on some of the band’s biggest and greatest epic songs. The Skeletons’ cut down and sparse version of “Riders on The Storm” really doesn’t do any justice to the original. Perhaps most disappointing is The Ravonettes version of the classic “The End”. The fact they cut this epic song down to just three and a half minutes shows that they have totally missed the point of the song. This version then goes on to bear no resemblance to the original at all.
Don’t go away yet though, because there is enough on the rest of the album to attract even the most ardent of Doors fans. In fact, this is shown by the very first song on the album, “La Woman” by Elephant Stone. The female vocals probably help by immediately setting it apart from the original. However, they also slow the whole thing down and give it a great, darker and intensive sound. The female vocals on “Lover Her Madly”, again helps as the lyrics sound great sung by a woman and it also manages to retain the sixties charm of the original.
The Black Angels version of “Soul Kitchen” retains the original sound and is a faithful version but with just more of an added psychedelic edge. “Hello I Love You’ by The Dark Horses probably benefits from taking a less loved song and this swirling version is therefore bound to be more readily accepted. “People Are Strange” by Camera is indeed a strange one, mainly because, on hearing it, all I can think about is how it sounds like a song that was released by either Elastica or Kenicke, i think!
The award for the bravest band on the album must go to Wall Of Death for picking probably the best known Doors’ song “Light My Fire”. Fair play to them, because they pull it off by giving it more of a gothic feel, which moves it away from the falsely sunny feel of the original. The only downside is the huge mistake to use what sounds like a saxophone solo instead of the brilliant guitar solo of the original.
As stated at the outset, it is easy to write this album off as it’s a big, but intriguing risk. It is, understandably, a bit hit and miss but it’s certainly worthwhile giving it a listen. Indeed, I expect many people will have totally different thoughts on which songs they think work particularly well or not. Actually, a lot will depend on your own love or view of the original song. Also, even those version you don’t like will at least make you want to go back and re-discover your love of the original. Those that you do find work for you, will provide a nice new interpretation to enjoy.
J Roddy Watson And The Business – “Essential Tremors”
This album was actually released in the US last week but, thankfully, it is now to get a UK release on 10th March. It is actually the band’s third release and is an eclectic album which brings together a brilliant mixture of classic rock & roll with a Motown sound and a bit of funk thrown in for good measure.
There is a gentle opening to “Heavy Bells” before it hits you in the face with the screaming chorus. It certainly makes sure you are awake and ready for the rest of the album, as it moves into a huge Led Zeppelin esque riff. A similar, deep and dirty riff kicks off “Black Light” but this is then joined by sweet and breathless vocals a la Marc Bolan. It actually eases in to an almost glam rock type classic with a chugging riff. The Zeppelin type guitar is again present on “Sweat Shock”, but this is a more bluesy influenced song and has a sound similar to what the Black Keys achieved on “El Camino”.
“Marigold” sees the band really hitting their stride on a great rock and roll song with a brilliant Bolan/T Rex feel underpinning it all. This is truly a fantastic song to get you up and rocking. The funk element comes in to play on “Take It As It Comes” which again spruces it up, with some glam background vocal ‘aahhs’.
The strength of the band and the album is the way all the sounds mix and compliment each other so well. They take a breather from rocking out on “Nobody Knows” which is a more soulful and slower number. It still has a huge sound, but provides a nice change of pace. Another slower one is “Boys Can Never Tell”, it is a simple but effective, relatively acoustic, number with an almost Americana feel to it.
The funk is back, big time, on “Some Days”. It kicks off with some great fun filled drums and riffs, then chugs along with that now familiar glammy, almost power pop, sound. It’s a similar story with “Tear Jerk”, with it’s pure rock and roll feel. The album then concludes with “Midnight Cry”, a big balladry type song. It’s a mix of a kind of old school soul song played by a glam rock band. Imagine if The Kings of Leon were at their most overblown and dramatic but covering a glam song!
Despite the influences, this actually sounds to me like the band for anyone searching for a T- Rex of the modern age. It’s not, however, some cheap copy or a throw away act. Instead, it’s more like the music you would hope Marc Bolan would be playing now. When you look at the success the Black Keys had with “El Camino”, there is no reason why this couldn’t do the same. A bit like when you first hear that album, you will want to turn it up loud, dance and have fun. This is definitely one to file under essential purchase!
The Sounds “Weekend”
This is the fifth album by The Sounds in a career which has impressively continued over two decades now. During that time, there has been something of a transition from punk to a more electronic influenced sound. In many ways, they have developed in to an almost cult band loved by their fans but sadly ignored by the commercial masses.
Opener “Shake Shake Shake” shows the electronic influences are still there, loud and proud, but the punk rock roots are also still present. A lot of this is driven by the vocals of Maja Ivarsson, who retains that passionate delivery more associated with a rock sound. We get to see that rebellious feel again on “Outlaw” which is an upbeat rocker that is perhaps closer to the sound on their earlier albums.
“Take It The Wrong Way” adds an almost disco sound and represents the band at their best, with a mix of a punk/indie inspired approach to what could be a dance song. Whilst “Hurt The Ones I Love” has more of a ‘pop’ feel to it and this is the one which could seriously get some mainstream radio play. This is especially true when you get to the anthemic sounding chorus. The pop twist is also added to “Animal” which is a fun sounding song to encourage the listener to sing and dance. It provides a double header with “Emperor” which will keep you clapping along with what could be a brilliant indie dance floor filler.
You would expect the title track, “Weekend”, to be one of their most up tempo numbers, but in contrast it’s a slower, more introspective, song. On the other hand “Great Day” sounds more like what you would expect from the title. It’s a return to the indie pop sound with a surprising banjo (?!?) sound underneath it all.
The second half of the album in particular, has a more light hearted feel, as demonstrated by the final track, “Young & Wild”. With it’s ‘put your hands up in the air, we are young and wild’ refrain, being perfectly suited to audience participation at a gig.
The Sounds have reached a point where they have really nailed their sound and you kind of know what to expect from their releases. Many of the songs are like dance tunes played by an indie punk band, which is great for fans of both genres. However, they really should have called the album Friday Night, rather than weekend. It has the feel of a perfect album to put on, to sing and dance along to, as you get ready to go out and tear up the night.
Pink Cigar – “We’re Gonna Get You Out Of Here”
With a name like Pink Cigar, you kind of know you aren’t going to be dealing with some sort of coy, bashful, quiet band. When you are talking about influences such as glam, punk, rock & roll with a bluesy twist, then you are hoping for something that’s a bit on the sleazy side of life. Certainly, on this front, the album “We’re Gonna Get You Out Of Here” doesn’t disappoint.
It kicks off with the punky, sleazy, rocking number “Generation Next” and then comes more of a glam stomp with the song “Lady Killer. This adds a bit of melody to the mix, but it is all delivered with a real sneer. It then comes as a bit of a surprise to hear “This Girl”, which opens with a restrained guitar sound before, in come the expected big riff and powerful drums. The song does keep a slow beat though, and it gives it an almost reggae or Ska type feel at times. “Strange” is again a slower sound, but this time we are talking a down n dirty blues club, sultry tempo. It’s a great call to arms for those who might like to live on the seedier side of the mainstream. It’s ‘sister’ song is “The Throat”, which virtually drips with debauchery. It seems built for a strippers song, and we do mean stripper, not some ‘artistic’ burlesque dancer!!
The sleazy tone continues with the bar room brawl feel of “Skin Of Youth Teeth” and then “London Town Blues” is an in your face rocker, with plenty of swagger and attitude. Again, they add the odd surprise every now and then. “Tommy” is a more straight forward song and, against the rest of the tracks, it provides a nice change in feel and tempo with it’s relaxed and easy going strum. At the other end of the spectrum is “Dreaming Of Love”, which is like some long lost glam metal classic. If this had been released around the time of “Appetite For Destruction”, it would have been absolutely huge. As would “King Of The World” which is all punk n roll melody with a feel of early Wildhearts.
Some people may question where a band like Pink Cigar fit in the current musical landscape. The answer is, sadly, nowhere amongst the masses and the mainstream. There is however, ALWAYS, a place for a dirty, sleazy, rock n roll band in the world. Indeed, in these times of boring bands and X factor wannabes, this is actually the perfect time for the Pink Cigars to provide some much needed fun and debauchery.