Reviews Coming Soon

Album Review: TBA

Friday, October 29, 2010

Album Review: Floodstain - Slave To The Self Feeding Machine

Floodstain are tough-talking Dutch metallers who, according to their website, were "spawn out of the dark bowels of a town nicknamed 'Hell', a place dominated by gray skies and endless rain, where boredom gets killed by vandalism, drugs and heavy sludge rock." On closer inspection they appear to have originated in Hellevoetsluis, a small village in Southern Holland, although they currently cite the sunny climes of Alfaz Del Pi, a peaceful resort in Costa Blanca, as their MySpace location. So I think we can take all this PR posturing with just a small pinch of salt (although we do love that "horns" cursor).

What we do have to take seriously is their colossal riff engine spewing angry, dark sludge into any spare lughole it can find. Jozz, the vocalist and, amazingly, lone guitarist, layers up his own outpourings to evoke Down's Phil Anselmo at his most vitriolic, whilst bassist Bobysan and drummer Vesso balloon out the bottom-end. They eagerly diversify the aggression to echo both the stoner wall of fuzz of Fu Manchu ('The Slumbering Titan Slayer') and the magnificent roar and balls-out grunt of High On Fire ('Suicide Pep Rally'). Despite all this early bluster they are clearly at their happiest when settling on the driving groove of Corrosion Of Conformity ('Ice Pick Lobotomy'), and sound oddly ineffective when the walking bass and softened build of the title-track take us on a more rocked-up, QOTSA-influenced path - the halfway drop-off into a heaving abyss of jerking, psychotic Pantera hat-doffing soon gets the party restarted.

There's sneaky touches of Sabbath-esque musicality to be found in 'Crooked Teeth' and 'The Slumbering Titan Slayer', that rise up from the deluge of riff-slinging, but they are merely fleeting and by the time you've finished the bad trip of the bonus track's anomalous radio static and sirens, these moments are long forgotten. I could spend all day name-checking bands that this reminds me of; there really is no trick here. If it's meaty and it rocks, Floodstain will amp it up to the eyeballs and beat it black and blue until it cries bloody tears. The liner-notes even see them paying homage to "Budweiser" - the supposed "king of beers". Their early material (they've been going at this for ten years now) was full of promise (do check out the awesome 'Asphalt Blues' on their MySpace) so instead of all these aforementioned influences, that clearly run deep, we'll be hoping for a little more of their own personalities next time around.

Also online @ MTUK =

Monday, October 25, 2010

Album Review: Mt. Desolation - Mt. Desolation

Mt. Desolation is the deceptively morbid moniker for the new vehicle featuring Keane’s songwriter-in-chief/pianist, Tim Rice-Oxley, and their bassist/percussionist, Jesse Quin. Calling on their contacts to help add flavour, they’ve drafted in The Killers’ drummer Ronnie Vannucci, Mumford & Sons’ banjo-player Country Winston and Noah And The Whale’s fiddle-player Tom Hobden. Their MySpace page describes this hotch-potch band, somewhat cryptically, as a mixture of Chinese traditional and Italian pop, although they sound more like a conglomeration of twee folk and giddy alt-country to me.

Tracks like ‘Departure’ and ‘Platform 7′ are devilishly happy-go-lucky tracks that swing with fat double bass, brushed snare and banjo – the former makes a feature of the freewheeling fiddle whilst the latter is all about the rhythmic plink of the piano. Other songs like ‘Bridal Gown’, ‘My My My’ and ‘State Of Our Affairs’ thicken the pace to venture down emotive paths as the softly-delivered vocals cut deeper – Rice-Oxley also craftily tweaks his delivery to add some quite poignant touches.

Taken with a pinch of salt, this eponymous album serves as a welcome deviation to the standard negativity of much that follows these particular genres around and it’s certainly great to actually hear the band enjoying themselves behind their instruments. But there are more serious moments when familiarity begins to merely breed contempt. There’s plenty that follows the same old predictable pattern; a style of songwriting that Rice-Oxley clearly feels comfortable with. The clinically-adept ‘Annie Ford’, for instance, unabashedly soaks itself in the filthy bathwater of former country music pioneers, lathering on sweeping pop licks with a rich hook and a hefty dose of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.

By the time the epic croons of ‘Bitter Pill’ sweep into view, mid-album, you’ll be thinking of Mt. Desolation as a kind of countrified Keane. As breezily adept as this all is, it’s still somewhat disappointing to find just how short a distance the players are prepared to venture from their comfortable position in the middle of the road.

Also online @ TLOBF =

Friday, October 15, 2010

Album Review: Kelley Stoltz - To Dreamers

Listening to San Franciscan Kelley Stoltz‘ upbeat, shuffling rhythms, all bathed in gloriously warm tones, is like having summer beamed directly into your ears. Melody is paramount in everything he does, and for this he naturally heads back to the surf pop, merseybeat and skiffle sounds of the 50s and 60s. On previous albums, he’s managed to cram as much Beatles and Beach Boys’ sounds in as is humanely possible and yet, whilst those sounds are still there (‘Bottled Up’ is pure ‘Eleanor Rigby’), on To The Dreamers there are noticeable deviations with a more proto-punk fervour being displayed and curious psychedelic and melodic electronic touches scattered hither and thither.

Where as ‘Rock & Roll With Me’, ‘I Remember, You Were Wild’ or ‘I Like, I Like’ inspire shaking heads and shimmying hips with a pitching drumbeat, a warbling sax or a metronomic tambourine, tracks like ‘Keeping The Flame’ or ‘Fire Escape’ get noticeably scattergun with sharp guitar strikes, howling pedal effects and theremin interjections exploding the simplicity of the backbeat with coloured bursts of psychedelia. ‘Pinecone’ and ‘Ventriloquest’ then shift down a gear, placing us on a gently lapping shore whilst a pinged bass tosses skippers over the wave tops and hammered keys dig out the sandcastles.

Multi-instrumentalist Stoltz has a small degree of help here, but the majority of what’s on display is performed by the man himself. His live band step in on a couple of tracks and there’s a delightfully buzzy cover of ‘Baby I Got News For You’ where “Big Boy” Pete Miller steps in to sing and play (on the same valve amp and guitars that he used on his 1965 original). Unsurprisingly, this track fits snugly into the album amongst all the other jostling nods to that particular era of gentile music. You can’t help but smile as each track kicks in and takes you spinning back down that time wormhole yet again. To Dreamers is, indeed, the perfect title for an album, innocently dedicated to all those nostalgic souls that yearn for a return to a time when things were just that little bit less complicated.

Also online @ TLOBF =

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Album Review: Spirits Of The Dead – Spirits Of The Dead

Norway’s Spirits Of The Dead have clearly combined their love of 60s rhythms and 70s psychedelics with a fiercely contemporary take on blissed-out, wonderfully progressive rock that echoes bands like Wolfmother, Porcupine Tree and Dead Meadow. Employing echoing vocals, vibrantly upbeat drum patterns and heavily-fuzzed guitars, they twist and turn their way through a debut album that, the majority of which, they managed to bring together in just six productive days in an Oslo studio. Taking care to add and tighten up what they had meant they also spent time with Christian Engfeldt at Grand Sport Studios and also employed George Marino (Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix) to undertake the final mastering process at Sterling Sound in New York.

The variation of each track is impressively vast and is often to be found veering away suddenly mid-song. One minute we’re lurching from some summertime psych-flecked surf-pop (‘The Waves Of Our Ocean’) to a morbid dose of sludge-fuelled, burnt-out prog (‘Red’) with such lyrics such as “I ache for redemption / The river is red / As you ride me from my deathbed”. It certainly takes a few listens to get used to all of SOTD’s multiple personalities.

Standing out from the pack are the title-track itself and the opener ‘White Lady/Black Rave’. Amidst the dizzying downtempo wash of the former, lies a three-note riff heavy enough to raze skyscrapers, to level cities, nay, to crack the earth. So infectious is the groove, I found myself miming the game “Rock, Paper, Scissors” to it. No-fooling “Rock, Paper Scissors”. Fuck. The latter track is pure Doors. A rollicking rhythm jostles us along as a latter-day Ray Manzarek hammers at his Hammond to the sound of Jim Morrison howling piercingly, frazzled syllables from beyond the grave.

By digging deep into the history of music they manage to conjure up touches of The Grateful Dead, David Bowie, Hawkwind, Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin and even E.L.O. and these all spring to mind at different moments as you enthusiatically progress through the album. Almost inevitably, it gets you wondering on that band name. Did they actually set out to invoke the spirit of past, deceased musicians? Whatever their motif, the design is impeccable and, at this rate, they will surely be haunting us for many years to come.

Also online @ TLOBF =

Monday, October 11, 2010

Album Review: Wino - Adrift

Scott ‘Wino‘ Weinrich has powered through the last four decades in a blaze of ear-bursting, buzzing psychedelics as he’s set about forging a successful career in the doom metal genre, fronting bands like Saint Vitus, The Obsessed, Spirit Caravan and, more recently, Shrinebuilder. To find him entering his fifth decade keen to switch off his amps and tone down his booming roar of a voice is a bit of a shock to the system. This latest solo album sees him detached from the melee, stripped down to the bones and bursting with a bluesy, emotion-soaked, rasp of a vocal backed up by little more than a swathe of delicately-layered, razor-sharp, acoustic strings...

Full review =