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25th APRIL: DeVRIES – Death To God (Noise on Noise) – New Seattle band, put together by Travis DeVries, once of TheTurn-Ons - an impressive new band who taste rather like R.E.M taking on a rather polite Jesus And Mary Chain. Touch of Echo And The Bunnymen in there with the hints of Stone Roses and maybe just spot of Suede. Lush feel to it all, timeless feel, rather personal edge to the lyrics. Rather impressive American band feeding off a lot of classic bands from over here and doing it all in a rather positive, rather classy, rather colourfully subtle way. Seems the album came out in the US back in November, this copy just made it over here to our desk, not sure if  the album is out in the UK, if the names we dropped do it for you then DeVries and their warm crafted sound is something well worth making an effort to track down. They’re not going out of their way to sound British, they just have a sound that reminds, in a healthy way of some classic bands, we did mention R.E.M, should probably throw Yo La Tango in the mix as well – or

23rd APRIL: HEY COLOSSUS & THE VAN HALEN TIME CAPSULE – Eurogrumble Vol 1(Riot Season) – Vinyl only album, came out earlier this year, yes I know, late again, lost it under a pile of paintings and all the junk we deem not good enough for review and excuses excuses, don’t come here with excuses for late reviews and... Noise, but then you don’t expect a peaceful ride from Hey Colossus, no playing hot for teacher with Mr Ice Cream Man here and if their are Eruptions then they’re are far more violent than any of Eddie’s finger-tapping fretwanks. Actually there are no eruptions, more a slow pouring of heavy heavy molten larva wearing you down in that way of Colossus  Eurogrumble invasion tour indeed, nothing what so ever in terms or references the mighty Van Halen, who knows what that title is all about. Out on heavy black vinyl, the six men of the Colossus battling it out with barbed guitars, with evil fuzz and feedback. Those primitive screams and low-end growls might be human voices or they may be pained guitars, nothing can be sure, those are voices aren’t they? Or at least human noises..?. Violent goodness, Melvins-fresh, growing riff fest ripping away through the swamp of doom and those are almost words... primitive words in there with the riot of noise and the corrosive violence and the slowly pulling apart of everything. This is metal, serious note throttling metallic deconstruction and big walls of violent slow-moving crushing noise laying waste to all in the path of the Hey Colossus monster.. One whole piece of never ending music (in eight parts), a relentlessly heavy experience, as unobvious as ever, as vital as ever, one of those band who’ll never let you down, one of those who’ll always challenge, they did it again, glorious noise... or

23rd APRIL: HOLE – Nobody’s Daughter (Mercury) – Nobodies coming, I’ll just continue to drown... The single off the album was more than alright, the single it appears, was the standout track, Skinny Little Bitch still had a bit of that defiant don’t mess with me Courtney riot grrl Olympia bite. Skinny Little Bitch was a little bit of a false dawn, all hope of a return to rocking snarlingbiting former glories are washed away ifn the radio friendly American rock polite slickness of it all.  The rest of Nobody’s Daughter really is rather unremarkable and musically polite and the endless bitchfest about how she’s been done wrong all her life and people like you who f**k people like me and if you were on fire I’d grab some kerosene and who knows what or who she’s on about but did she have to do to it accompanied by such an unremarkable safe and rather 70's sounding FM radio station American soft-rock sub Boston wanting to be Fleetwood Mac soundtrack?  All her dirty little secrets and the tough life she leads might have been alright if the mildly quiet bits didn’t turn to mildly shouty AOR FM radio bits in that same soft-rock formulaic way in almost every song. 
         Must say I’ve always rather liked Courtney, had a lot of time for Hole back in the day - alas, that was then, this is now and Sunday morning when the rain begins to fall and she’s been cheated and covered in diamonds and filth and piecing the last space in her arm and if the music wasn’t so politely musically sticking to very safe ground and Bryan Adams-paced then all the delusional stares and the bitter heart-pouring and looking in to your embarrassing eyes and I won’t call you and you don’t call us may have registered. We might not be filing it in the oh-for-heavens-sake-Courtney-you-really-don’t-have-it-that-bad file marked miscellaneous. All her writing to Dear God to figure out what her life’s all about, and how she never wanted to be who she is, how she didn’t want to be some kind of comic relief ... She’s certainly laying it all out, with all the lights shining down on her and how she never wanted to be the person you see... and watching on from the comfort of our home and what an angry star run to devil hurt and how d’ya get so mean and what are you starring at? And all the me me me and how tough life is and her dress is torn again surely will peck at your head one too many times in the end and all that Bryan Adams-paced soft rock musical politeness... And no it can’t always be the angry biting skinny little bitch but middle ages doesn’t have to be soft rock radio friendly me me me does it? But why is her music growing old so gracefully that you don’t want to listen to what she’s saying? 

20th APRIL:  KARHIDE – Acardia (Field) – Solo studio based project from Tim Waterfield. A collection of crafted mellow guitar pieces, atmospheric textures, refined pieces of pleasantly accomplished  instrumental hard-edged rock. The real drummer adds some ‘real’ sounding life blood to the project but it does really sound s like a project, a work in progress, a rather decent imaginative guitarist’s sketch book of ideas that needs a band to build on the solid structures, the ideas and the mellow colours. Well played, well constructed hard-edged guitar pieces that sound like a full band jamming out almost finished ideas while they wait for the vocalist to come up with something to really bring them to life – and that really is the problem here, heard a thousand things just like this, mostly in sound checks and rehearsal studios - all technically good pieces and impressive is their own slightly dark atmospheric way but no real character or fingerprint to really mark them out as great instrumental pieces on their own right, no barrier pushing, no great piece of musical challenge, just decent solid hard-edged guitar pieces and things we’ve all heard before, good sketch book ideas waiting to be brought to life by a full band. Feel like I’ve reviewed this album or one very similar quite a few times now, indeed didn’t we review this very album a few months ago? Who knows? Instrumental rock really needs to be pushing the edges, this doesn’t really do that -

14th APRIL: ELEPHANT 9 – Walk The Nile (Rune Grammofon) - Whooo, listen to that filthy dirty Hammond, feel that organ throb, grab that delicious Lesley crunch as the flow of those six inch thick soundwave slabs come at you through the dusty air...  The new Elephant 9 album just landed, this is a very very good thing! Walk The Nile starts out pretty much where the last one left off, opening track Fugi Fonix could be off the last album, moody atmospheric second track Aviation soon puts to rest any idea that the Norwegians may just be a one trick pony of a band though – thing is, even if they were a one trick pony a new album from Elephant 9 would still be a very good thing. Classic Hammond driven prog fusion and great big real deal analogue instrumental pieces on a direct line from somewhere in 1974. Flowing jazz flavoured progressive rock pieces that feel like well considered structured focused jams... Well focused is a relative term, they’re not afraid of a long piece (or two) of healthy prog rock self indulgence, a self assured style, tight accomplished musicians who just let it all naturally flow rather then feeling any kind of need to show off how good they are. There’s a darker edge to some of this than there was with the first album, or maybe just a few more changes in atmosphere, in the texture and the way the whole body of work flows as it undulates between the stabs of Hammond organ energy and Fender Rhodes craft... Another thrilling ride through the glories of organ driven 70’s sounding jazzy prog rock, bits of funk, Deep Purple sounding hard rock jams, and more notes that you can reasonable expect to be coming at you none stop in such a gloriously good way...  oh yes, a new Elephant 9 album is a very very good thing - or

SUPER ADVENTURE CLUB – Avoid Zombies (Armellodie) - Glasgow’s Super Adventure Club are at times delightfully charming, at other times they’re delightfully frantic, their best times are when they’re right out there delightfully frantic and charming and going off and things like squalor is alive and someone’s stepped in it (or even been rolling in it). Things left on the floor indeed! Oh, listen to that bit, pure Timmy Smith guitar solo! We love this band, been playing them at you lots on the radio, and now their debut album is here and the whole thing has blossomed in such a fine fine way – the singles and things were good, this debut album is alive and great big leaps forward, a band to really sit up and take note of.  Super Adventure Club’s debut album is alive with treasure, with bee fights and marsupials, with zombies that you must avoid, a debut album that sounds something like giraffes that run oh so very fast and if you want to catch one then lock the door, feed the cat, avoid zombies.... This is different, this is delightfully good - eat your beans, drink your tea, put your shoes on and prepare for a treat of an album. Bendy pop, male female vocal interplay, delicious tunes that dart all over the place, clever musicians who never nead to show off about it - the Adventure Club kind of feel like the early days of Monsoon Bassoon with all their clever jumping about and their hip hop hot pot pot noodle pop - or maybe Buntychunks? Hey! They sound like the much missed Buntychunks! Yeah, I know, that’s way too obscure and news from the last century, (surely someone out there besides us must remember these bands? Too good to just be forgotten, if you enjoyed those now lost bands like Buntychunks or The Bassoon then this is for you). Super Adventure Club are a new treasure, Super Adventure Club are a delight too good to be obscure, they’re a vital blast of clever pop-flavoured fresh air, they’re right here and now and just waiting for you to go discover them... 
            That’s a fake nose, I can see it from here he sings with that rich Scotish voice. They keep hitting these glorious twists that really are like prime early days Cardiacs - really was trying to get all the way through this review without using the C word but it really can’t be avoided, they got lots of lumps that sound gloriously like early Cardiacs. Not in a clone-copycat kind of way and I do have a suspicion that Super Adventure Club are blissfully unaware of the fact that, in their very own uniquely wonderful way, they do rather sound like early Cardiacs - read this news, put on your shoes, prepare for a riot - to be compared is such a way, is a massive compliment when it comes from these parts. Eat your greens, wash your hands, cancel plans, avoid zombies... Spontaneous combustion? Pop music alive with all kinds of (delightful) goings off and things, delightful time-twitching and unconventional construction that never ever stops flowing - and oh how it flows, oh how it flows with such wild poppy mathy enjoyment, flowing with such heart and soul - the antidote to all that ‘stuff’ that people try to sell us. This is music with glorious heart, with songs and tunes alive - no zombies to avoid here. 
              No such thing as mindless self-indulgence and these tough tunes are such a glowing inviting delight - turns out what’s there’s is yours as well, and you’ll smile when you hear these fine fine tunes and words and delightful twists and turns (you will make the effort to go get this album now won’t you?). This is just brilliant, this is sunny zombie-avoiding pop music. Super Adventure Club make bright clever pop music, a delight, an absolute delight, a beautiful sanity, you really must go track it down.  –

MARK BEAZLEY - Stateless (Trace) - The first purely solo album from Mark Beazley, he of long-standing London band Rothko - and if you enjoy the meditative, melancholy guitar textures of Rothko, you'll be wanting to explore this.  With the added colour of orchestral instrumentation - piano, strings, maybe a synth or two - Stateless keeps the gentle shifting tension so distinctive of Rothko (the warm bass that is the Rothko trademark is there). This is a slightly different shade of rather relaxed beast though, this is atmospheric, flowing, relaxing music – it does have the same wistful dark edge keeping it out of the realms of mere background ambience, and like Rothko, that odd sense that this is the soundtrack for the quiet corners of a city rather than the obvious. This is the work of an urban pastoralist - relaxed, warm, mellow and well worth your time.

COHEED AND CAMBRIA – Year Of The Black Rainbow (Roadrunner)  -  Really am trying to find something positive to say about this over-produced, super-slick, technically-proficient, soulless experience. Besides the nice enough piece of graphic design on the front cover (that’s counteracted by the rather embarrassing crow with bloody claw that’s to be found within the booklet), I really can’t find anything that positive to say here. The shallow sound of mega-unit-shifting multi-million selling ‘award-winning’, Kerrang front-cover-adorning corporate rock in 2010, not a hint of a soul anywhere. Heartless ‘perfect’ product, they just make ‘stuff’, there nothing to hold on, nothing to invest any kind of emotion in, just shallow ‘product’...  Each to their own, it turned up in the post, tried to find something good to say, do like the front cover, that’s something good, they’re probably a preferable experience to that Enter Shikari band, there you go, something almost positive... Just stuff, they’re just making ‘stuff’ . 


CASTROVALVA – We Are A Unit (Brew) – We already said somewhere else on these pages that we were expecting good but not this good, Castrovalva just dropped a massive set of explosions with this debut album of theirs. Twelve tracks, twelve slices of serious rule-destroying cross fertilisation from deepest Leeds. Now how are we expected to nail this down with mere words on (electronic) paper?  Banging that drum, banging that drum, banging that drum, this is dripping with soul. If you knew them in their early days, forget everything you think you know about Castrovalva, this is seriously different! Ghetto love songs bringing down the sky and smashing through you pigeonholes, scratching through the rails, tearing up the fences with some kind of alternative math rock violated funk driven hip-hop fused post hardcore punk rock. We’re talking Prince for Hella fans, Notorious B.I.G for Arab On Radar heads, Oxes for N.W.A followers who love their Lightening Bolt and their groove and their hardcore and their Pulkas and their confrontational noise and nowhere near any of that lazy lazy stuff that we just tried to pass off as some kind of review just then. Lazy reviews will not do for these hooligans, these thug life house of pain hooliganz smashing up greenhouses, pulling up your strawberries and messing with your heads. They twisted their sound way beyond their prog-flavoured math rock roots now, way way way beyond, they took all those marbles and smashed them against the wall over there, this is genuinely different - this is tangled noise and a set of beautifully in your face screaming at your ears, dancing at your head, funking on your feet tunes, this is Bringing The serious Noise! These people are great big public enemies, these are the kinds of punches that you just won’t be able to get enough of, this my friends in the good shit! This is the banging the drum and banging it Hella style, this is forward-pushing bringing down the walls good shit... Bands this good just don’t come from England, they arrive via word of mouth from California Or some such place on underground labels like Skingraft, this can’t be happening here? Imagination and self-challenge like this doesn’t happen in England, bands don’t takes risks and make art like this! Stop those drums, I have something to say... no, I said it already, we expected good but we didn’t expect this good, way beyond ordinary music... way way beyond! - / - out this coming Monday April 12th.


PENSÉES NOCTURNES – Grotesque (Ladlo) - Some kind of rather impressive and instantly attention grabbing end of civilisation march on Stalingrad and the opening of the gates of hell for a classical introduction, way to start an album! A start that thankfully does not give way (like we’re cynically expecting  it to) to some kind of clichéd onslaught extreme metal predictability.  Instead we have some kind of gloriously twisted classical take on the grotesque (that was suggested in the tittle) and an album that just builds on the glorious introduction and it rises and rises. The press release talks of avant-grade black metal and yes that is what we do find here, so much more than just that though – the black metal bits are pushing the edges To Mega Therion and Into The Pandemonium in a classical Celtic Frost kind of way.  This is not a metal album, it is a slice of excellent classical boundary pushing opera that now and again comes laced with positive black metal extremities – the metal is there along with the theatre, the Penny Opera Victoriana, the steam punk and the whole thing is there twisting like some kind of Dante’s cooking pot inferno of glorious avant orchestral otherworld unpredictability. This is not a mere metal band toying with the classical, this is a avant-garde classical band toying with the more imaginative end of extreme metal, this is a brilliant album! An album alive with operatic opulence, alive with never ending twists of mood, of density – so much going on here in the ambitious darkness of it all, cathedrals of sounds, underworlds of sounds, Kurt Weills of sound, a fairground chamber of metal freaks and oddities (and the occasional cuckoo), epic progressive orchestral grandeur that just goes on climbing up and up in to the skies beyond the giant five hundred foot high organ pipes they climb towards the end of this utter epic of a work. Epic brilliance, grotesque beauty and absolutely everything shoe-horned in here with the extreme metal, fifty-four minutes that feels like so much more. Excellent! This is what we want, totally over the top ambition carried off in style... or

RAISING SAND - Now it says here on this press release that this is Raising Sand’s brand new debut album, now we know damn well we reviewed this back in September last year and we know damn well that that wasn’t their first release. We’ve been saying good things about them for a few years now... Still a well kept secret though, so good to see this getting a new push with a bit more weight behind it and what with Airbourne doing a similar thing big time and well here’s the review from September 2009... Re-runs are indeed us and we should have gone on in the original review a little more about the groove and the soul, that healthy edge of soul-fuelled blues they have in there.  If you didn’t take notice first time then here’s a second chance, don’t make us do it a third time now, Raising Sand are good....

RAISING SAND – All Out War (Bullseye) - Liking this, the English band have got things impressively together, they weren’t this good last time around, what happened...? It was bugging me, this really does sound like something, what the hell is it? Then it clicked, they sound like Sammy Hagar’s Montrose  (or maybe Young Heart Attack, who in turn sounded very much like Montrose anyway), that should be taken as a big compliment, Montrose, and indeed Hagar, rule. Raging Sand suddenly got their musical shit seriously together with some rather decent old school blue-edge storm-kicking hard rock then – nothing groundbreaking, nothing that different, just a good helping of old school hard rock that’s done right... or

CHANDELIERS – Dirty Moves (Pickled Egg) - This is a rather pleasant album, sounding really good in the midday bright light heat of the April sun, sounded equally as good in the midnight dark of last night. Electronic fruitiness, flizz and glitch, clang and bleep, repetitive sunshine and instrumental electronica  (flizz? Like that, it was a typo fizz but flizz fits the fizz and when did we ever bother with fixing typos anyway?) Dirty moves is alive with dirty flizz and buzzing fizz, flowing electronica, tunes that go all over the place, never obvious and rather unlike anything these ears have heard before. The pieces are almost like sound bites, sketches, work in progress, no time to resolve how they start or end, kind of works as one piece jumps to the next piece and it all becomes one wholesome flowing whole of thirty-three short interlocking. Post drum’n bass rhythmic adventure, experimental flow, almost glitching, not that obvious though, this is made by an imagination that knows there’s been too much glitching now and it all needs to flow somewhere new and a way that’s just a little different. Chandeliers are from Chicago, they create on vintage synths, drum machines, traditional rock instruments, when there are (occasional) words they act more as texture than anything that makes coherent sense in a wordy kind of way - half-asleep mumbles and what was that? What are they saying? Some of it gets quietly anthemic, most of it comes with a different pulse, an abstract hint of funk, a touch of Krautrock and pretty much all of it comes with a big warm glowing positive creative experimental smile, pristine shimmering goodness that makes you feel good about life, about your ears, about music, the sunshine and Spring goodness... or


6th APRIL: CAPTAIN AHAB –  The End Of Irony (Deathbomb Arc) – Today is the 6th April, today is the birth day of the greatest album ever made – an album so big it had to be made under the biggest hat ever seen, behind a windscreen made of the finest diamonds and dreams, with colours no painter could ever hope to mix. Today is the end of irony, today music changes, today everything starts again.... 

     ....he talked of a “strange mix of Viking chants, harsh noise, Hyphy and Steve Reichian timing” and yeah, but he was only telling half of it....


             It all started about a month ago with a communication from Los Angeles and the Foot Village lands of DeathbombArc. Word flowing around the world, word of a new Captain Ahab album. Who is Captain Ahab? We’ve learnt to take note of any word coming from the foot village. Acting Hard was the first taste, a massive open track that NOTHING could prepare you for. Here’s the review of that download that appeared on these very pages in the middle of last month... 

       – Acting Hard, one of those things that just stops you, what’s this!? Played it last night on the radio and straight away got a response.  People from Derby, people from Boston  (Boston Mass, not Boston Lincs, have we got any readers or listeners in Boston Lincs?), people from Belfast, people asking, "what was that!?" Acting Hard   opened the show last night and stopped everyone who was listening. Now I hate it when everything get described as “stunning”, that word is the most annoyingly overused word in the English language, especially when it comes to lazy music reviews. We make a point of never saying anything is "stunning". This is stunning! Here comes the notes from the radio show playlist.... 
                     “How good was this opening track tonight! Sometimes you hear a piece of music and yes! Lots of exciting cutting edge music waiting to challenge if you know where to look, Captain Ahab is/are from Los Angeles. Brian from Foot Village and Deathbomb Arc brought them to our attention, he talked of a “strange mix of Viking chants, harsh noise, Hyphy and Steve Reichian timing” and yeah, but he was only telling half of it. We got a new favourite band here (and judging by the almost instant Twitter/e.mail response we’re not alone!). This is why we do this Organ thing! Bands like this who sound like no or nothing else and who sound so damn good while they go about the business of sounding unique” 
    Acting Hard is the opening track off the forthcoming (6th April) album called The End Of Irony, but but you can have this track right now as a free download via (or at least you could a couple of weeks ag owhe nwe wrote these words about it, go see if the track is still there) Oh look, the track is there and free, there to get you addicted to the Captain, go download, go take a risk, delete the file if you don’t like it, we guarantee you won’t delete it, you will not be back slapping us for being so sure... just be a f**king believer, I will be your f**king god.. get your f**k on... hang on that’s the album, you need this message, these are not lies, pay attention or you’ll pay for your crime...  death to false techno... enough, back to the single, oh no, here we go, shake your body like a whore... the album rules toooo... this is the calm before the storm, raise your goblets high.  What is that honking sample, that sample has been bugging me for hours now! Is that a Camel sample? 

        And those were first excited words, for Acting Hard and that first full taste of The End Of Irony excited us (and if music doesn't excite you then what are you doing on these pages....)

Does anyone here remember what it means to party? 

Shall we attempt to describe it? We probably can't: The Justified Ancients of the run from gabber violated Frankie Goes to Hollywood doing all their epic bits with the help of the renegade forces of Leech Woman, Foot Village and Gay Against You (Europe) and some Viking driven flight way beyond everything you know about the contractions of prog rock or danced up techno. And all cut right back to the start and backslap you for acting hard and we are the starving... Nothing really prepares you for the first time you hear that opening track Acting Hard, nothing! 

    Oh no, here we go, get down on the f**king floor, shake your body like a whore, f**k until you can f**k no more... Jumping the gun though, before this manic hardcore gabber flavoured techno they were doing epic Europe style big rock – are they a ‘they’ or is Captain Ahab a he?  I know nothing of him, them, who... I could go surfing, no time, just reacting, this is the calm before the storm...

And then a second track was leaked as a another free downloud single thing... a track called I Don’t Have A Dick, and once again we played it and reviewed it, here's the words we wrote... 

            "You did already download that other single we told you about a couple of weeks ago didn’t you? Acting Hard, It was free, you had nothing to lose and I do have the second biggest hat in the world so you should be taking notice of everything ever said here and pay attention now for this will always be - you will live and die in a blink of his eye for he is Captain Ahab. He has colours no painter could ever mix, he lives in a house bigger than a hundred cities, he makes the loudest beats in the world and if you dare to taste them then you’re gonna get f**ked up for Captain Ahab rules! We told you all this before and you should know he also has the biggest gun in the world, it can shoot a hole right through the sun... 

             Oh yes, we gloried in the glow of Captain Ahab’s power, honour and ambition, we agreed that possessing or not possessing the male reproductive organ does not effect anything. 

       This is no metaphor and he does not have the female reproductive organ either – this is of no matter for he is alive, he has been alive forever, alive and there sitting atop of his mountain stronghold – go listen to his words and be dazzled by his golden chains and his hat that can shade all the starving children of the world at the same time. Be warm in the knowledge that he drives the fastest car in the world, that it has a windscreen made from the finest diamonds and dreams (and that he doesn’t have a dick...). 

And now we must tell you about the whole album for the album has stopped all else and today is the day it comes out, and hencforth nothing will be the same...

          We’re back with second unexpected track and to the Calm Before The Storm and the greatest slice of battle metal AOR ever made (under the biggest hat ever, big enough to shelter all the guitars riffs ever played...) Raise your goblets to the sky for this is the day of the finest album ever made and the end of all irony (and tomorrow they will die...) They are your calm before their storm. Their calm is the finest epic battle metal ever and it takes you to the most powerful dance floor techno ever to jack your twisted mind, the finest beats with the finest colours, colours no artist could ever mix... The epic of Calm came straight after Acting Hard and it led us in to all kinds of dance flavoured techno laptop hardcore beats and bites and samples and spoken word deliveries and the revelation of just what he could do with is eyes for today is the end of irony and the finest album ever made. Today is Captain Ahab day and this Organ has existed all this time just to bring you the news of this day, it has all be a calm before this storm....

Go find out more A via or via the constantly good DeathbombArc label at    Download the whole album via

Sean - Red Italian ShoeALBUMS ALBUMS - 

5th APRIL:  SENNEN – Age of Denial (Hungry Audio) – The Norwich four piece have been quietly going about their almost unnoticed business for quite some time now, slowly evolving in their own unassuming way  . Recent singles had us wondering if they had got a little lost where once they promised so much, singles really aren’t their best format though, they’re a band you need to let unwind over a whole body of work. Their past albums, demos and such have always had an impressive flow to them, previous releases have always somehow felt like a band trying to find themselves and making do while they continue with that finding quest - this time around with Age Of Denial they really do sound like they’ve found that thing they were meant to be doing.  Gently flowing guitar tunes that, if they were a little more obvious, would probably be called shoe-gazer or something near that. Sennen’s sound isn’t so obvious though and they have several flavours in there with their radiant layers and their clever colours, with their bits of Ride and Chapterhouse, the touches of Spacemen 3 and Mercury Rev, not here the My Vitriol indie guitar side so much now, things are a lot more subtle and indeed far more accomplished now – more intelligent, considered, less obvious, better... Is that a hint of the mellow side of Stone Roses there? Delicately strong layers of crafted guitars and radiantly quiet colours they you need to give time and space to before they really start to glow (Sennen are not one of those love them the first time you play them bore by the fifth type bands). Warm unobtrusive rather beautiful voices all their own, these are by far their finest moments. They’ve always been good but now Sennen have found themselves and in doing so made themselves an album you really should make time and space for. – or

4th APRIL: PANIC CELL – Fire It Up (Undergroove) - Bag load of widdle-diddle modern metal slickness that comes with a crunch or two along with a melodic sense of something or other. Who knows what they’re singing about? Them lyrics don’t need to be listened to too closely do they. They’re from the UK but Panic Cell are sounding far too much like one of those over-slick over-produced over here US metal band bands that labels like Roadrunner keep marketing at us. Oh look, if you like those Devil Driver Mudvayne Kill Switch type bands, if you still bother reading Kerrang and the thought of being forced to go to Download doesn’t have you serious considering buying one of big black b*st*rd f-off Acme band-shooter guns then this might be for you... Starting to think that just maybe somewhere down the road metal took a wrong turn, this really is a dreadful bag of silly-beard growing arse –

DOUBLE U – Pineapple Dream (Wool) – Dreamy mellow laid back dreamy psychedelia that now and again touches on Lou Reed (solo rather than Velvet Underground) while they mostly drifts along in a pineapple dream of a world that’s of no one else’s making besides their own. Slow moving uncluttered mellow daydreams, glowing and rather simple psychedelia floating along without a care, dreamy, mellow and so laid back they almost fall over. Double U are from Portland, Oregon – or

SOULCAGE – Soul For Sale (Hellas) - Hard rock, melodic hard-edged rock with a rich clean-cut set of modern-sounding keyboards anchoring their sound in some kind of almost lost land of 80’s rock/pop metal. Touches of HIM, Bon Jovi, Europe, some of that melodic neo-prog flavoured Euro metal, bands like Stratovarius, maybe a touch of Queensryche... Lyrics that don’t stand up to too much close attention (again). They’re from Finland, they’re about as original as their rather unimaginative name. Some kind of stew alive with third-hand bits of hard rock, goth metal, euro rock, gloriously bad AOR and all laced with sinking skies and raining inside your heart and grains of sand that are infinity... Soul For Sale is either absolute clichéd nonsense or gloriously clichéd AOR cheese of the finest nature, you know where you stand when it comes to things like taking midnight trains to anywhere – / /

FOZZY -  Chasing The Grail (Riot) - Bits of show-off look how well we can play wankothon fluorescent lime green plectrum wielding technical metal and everything thrown in there with the kitchen sink, the clutter, the riffs you’ve heard before and just about everything crammed in there with theose damn poddle metal riffs, that hint of cod cack-handed blues, the technical stomp, the rolling of the dice and the flying where eagles nest, the bits that sound like Kiss outtakes, the bits that sound like bad 80’s hair metal, pulling swords from stones and oh shit, we’ve got policies about not review crap like this haven’t we? We don’t waste your time or our space... 

31st March...  BLACKLIST – Midnight Of The Century (Wierd) – Warn full bodied sound and they sound very very 80’s in an alternative pop/rock way, sounds like lots of things that we can’t quite put our finger on, nearest thing being Comsat Angels (who in turn were a far better option back there than U2 ever were). Slightly alternative 80’s guitar bands like Comsat Angels, Icicle Works, maybe a touch of a less synthy Simple Minds, a less psychedelically jangling take on that glorious sound OF The Church – that’s it, that’s the finger put on the spot, This rather fine, rather lush, rather colourful Brooklyn band sound like the gap between the glorious underrated Comsat Angels and the equally fine sound of The Church. All dark angels rising and thumping chorus strides, Echo And The Bunnymen, The Sound, Chamelions and a touch of dark atmosphere in there with this big accomplished sound. Spot on production, spot of 80’s sound, crisp and alternative in a very focused way, dense and shadowy and kind of nostalgic in a positive you can talk you know you can intelligent kind of way. Magnetic play, no negative spin....
         The Blacklist album came out in the US last year, out this very week in the UK, find it via or find out more via /

29th March... WOUNDS – Wounds (Yoyo Acapulco) - Straight in there, inflicting from the start, screaming onslaught of aggressive feedback, guitars at your head, relentless durms and strained throat attack. Wounds are from Dublin and this debut mini album/EP/call-it-what-you-will is seven slices of urgently busy in your face goodness. Some kind of metallic post-hardcore gallows-swinging barbed onslaught of in-you-face punk rock energy and furious not so minor threats that only come out at night. Banging hell out of everything and everyone, these people are coming right on through, prepare to get out of the way, step aside and then swiftly jump on to those thrashing tails, we got another live one here. Not just a mindless energy ball and mere hardcore bluster though - plenty of bluster yes, but there’s more to them that just musical confrontation, there’s a tight menacing tension here that’s set off with the rumbling call to arms (and pit action) that is opener Trees – a rumbling rolling tension that never lets up until the final note of the seventh and last track Dead Road...  They don’t eat, they just survive, Wounds sound like they really need to be doing this, no choice but to exist as Wounds, there is no other option for these people. Don’t look surprised, they don’t sleep...  Wounds sound like the killers out in the woods that those Liars want to drag you off to meet - when they do all you’ll be able to do is stare, no one will believe you, they’ll wait up nights just to get you.  There’s a rumbling post-hardcore menace, a tension, a wounding brooding intent and a choking feel as they pull you down, a long way down.... Damn fine open shots and a statement of intent that that you’d do well to take serious note of  -

25th March...  THESE MONSTERS - Call Me Dragon (Brew/Function) - AAARGH! More post rock! Actually, I don't mind this one, not at all. These Monsters are from the UK instrumental-math-hotspot of Leeds, and share some of the qualities of the fine and likeable East Midlands band You Slut! in that they're making crisp, muscular, doing-it-for-its-own-sake heavy math rock. These Monster's variation on the theme is their core melodies, which are satisfyingly strong.  Without being at all obvious - maybe even unconscious on their part - those riffs have a bit of the old Bach and Handel about them; nothing cheesy, just enough to give them a dark and dignified power. 
               These Monsters have a little extra something that lifts them above the rank-and-file of all those samey instrumental rock bands floating around out there. (And no, don't confuse them with Beyond This Point Are Monsters, another better-than-the-crowd UK instrumental outfit, sure, but more of the gentle pastoral musing post-rock persuasion). These Monsters exude a confident, purposeful feel to their accomplished, brooding sound, and a rare sense of space and discipline.  Something reaches out and grabs your attention, a palpable personality, even though other bands are more complex or louder or experimental... more flash. Something genuine, passionate and unforced. 
          These Monsters are a four piece: Sam Pryor on guitar, Ian Thirkill on bass, Tommy Davidson, drums and Jonny Farrell on synth and sax.  Call Me Dragon has a just-restrained fierce energy running through each track, from the opener title track to the melancholic yet uplifting Dirty Messages to the pretty unHawkwindlike (and very Crime In Choir sounding) Space Ritual with its extra dose of sax and synth - did I mention that These Monsters have a sax/keyboards player? It's so naturally part of their sound it's easy to forget that's what you're listening. They merge those into the rock mix in a way that few other bands have achieved, often doing powerful things in unison with bass or lead guitar. There are also vocals, courtesy of guitarist Sam, and they're anguished semi-abstract stabs verging on instrumental flourishes. The sound is full and clear analogue vintage; Harry Patton has them at their proggiest, as in underground eighties prog with an angsty indie edge. 
         References include a wee touch of Hella and The Mass, a darker, less keyboard-driven Crime In Choir (great instrumental US outfit with members of The Mass, worth tracking down), the dark anxiety of Castrovalva and the warm angularity of the already mentioned You Slut!  And no Don Caballero at all!  It all amounts to chunky, tense, dynamic and surprisingly melodic slabs of rock, unpretentious and strangely satisfying. (M) / /

22nd  March... BLACK FRANCIS – NoneStopErotik (Cooking Vinyl) – Another Frank Black album, he of Pixies and such, ten new songs and a Flying Burrito Brothers cover called Wheels. Now everyone knows there are few better things in musical life than those Pixies, every time Frank Black does something non-Pixies there’s a little buzz of anticipation, ah this will be good, certain to be, even now after all this time, still approach everything he does with a touch of anticipation and excitement. Frank Black right, from the Pixies, got to be good, surely? Always left feeling a little short-changed with Frank Black... is that it? Is this really the guy who played a part in writing all those brilliant songs back there? The ten original songs here take a little time to reveal themselves, little bits here and there start to after a while, been going bac kto this on and off for a couple of weeks now – there’s a riff here, a rabbit there, a piece of lush texture, a lyric line, a trap door beneath a TV and such, but thus is Frank Black! Now I’m not being unreasonable here, I don’t expect debased monkeys going to heaven or anything as unreasonably glorious, but....  Well... well nothing the great man has ever done outside of those Pixies has ever done much to really move  ears and excite in any significant way and well, nothing much here that really energises or excites or evokes real emotional response or...  another Frank Black album, kind of alright, a moment here and there, that’s about all really.... Kind of want more from Frank Black, so much more, Black Francis – or

19th March THE SMOKING HEARTS – Pride Of Nowhere ( George Street) – Storming out of somewhereville, The Smoking hearts are a bit of one trick pony, damn fine one trick pony though. Armed with a bag load of positive energy and a raucous we-don’t-give-a-poop-what-you-think attitude, The Pride Of Nowhere is thirteen prime slices of no messing let’s-make-it-happen scuzzed up punk rock ‘n roll. We’re talking some kind of English guitar-heads-through-bass-drums crash involving slices of Motorhead, Ramones, Discharge, Black Flag, Supersuckers (before they went all country rock and middle aged), touch of stripped backed to basics Wildhearts. Yep, you may have ridden this one trick pony many times before, don’t mean you don’t want to jump on and ride the sucker again, not when they got it nailed down this good. Spot on production, spot on no messing garage punk metal energy, not an original moment to be found anywhere near it, and who cares! Thry got it just right, they got it right there, they got it right in your face, this is no messing fastfood scuzz’d up punk rock ‘n roll energy, sometimes that fastfood moment is more than enough, you might not remember it for long, damn fine one trick pony of a fastfood moment though...

LOVEHEAD – Vanity Project – Slightly rocky, rather retro sounding, indie guitar pop rock that flirts with a touch of psychedelic blues and maybe just a hint of Stone Roses or Primal Scream in there with their cheeky pop and a touch of cheesy disco. We’ll leave it with you to investigate should you wish, not really doing that much for us –

chaka ( ALBUMS - 18th March... 

SECONDSKIN – Captive Audience (Union Black) – Well they told us to expect progressive rock but this really is not our idea of what prog is, was or will ever be... Not to say they this is bad or anything, rather pleasant actually... But hey, come on, when somebody fanfares something as being a classic piece of prog then we want real deal envelope pushing progressive adventure! We want Larks Tongues in Aspic challenge, we want Extra Life emotional dexterity, the classical self-indulgence of Yes, we want imperial aerosol kings adding glorious musical colour to their grey machines, we want a plague of lighthouse keepers taking us on a roller-coaster ride of unpredictability, we want grandiose goings off and things, we want risk, we want danger, we want bloody big windmills of progression! (we at least want IQ or Twelfth Night). None of any of that here from Glasgow’s Secondskin, instead what we do have is some politely slick and technically clever melodic hard rock that’s something ambitiously akin to Tool, to the relatively recent post Moving Pictures output of Rush or maybe the rockier end of the Oceansize sound - and nothing really wrong with any of that you might argue that but I was promised prog! Take this press release to the court of the crimson king, along with those glossy "prog" magazines who fanfared this and have them all found guilty of crimes against the state of mind that is Rael. 
               Hey look, that band Porcupine Tree bore the arse off me with what they do these days, if they don't bore you or if you’re one of those people who can stay awake for an entire Tool record, if your thing is technically clver hard rock and slick melodic over-produced far too perfect musicianship, if Pelican don’t make you want to break things, if you like stroking your chin and ‘thinking’ about music - apparently this will appeal to “the thinking music lover” (according to the press release), if you like more recent Pink Floyd, if you like all that then roll up roll up for Secondskin do all that very well indeed and this album is very much for you. Me? I hate to think this is what people think we mean when we talk of the beautiful adventure that is the ever evolving beast we call prog, You can have your Tools and your Porcupine Trees, your super-slick technical ecstasy and your squeaky clean conservative rule-obeying bands and we'll have the real challenging prog adventure and boundary pushing risk-taking ships and irons of Kayo Dot, Extra Life, Triclops, Thumpermonkey Lives and the real 21st century schizoid pushers ... 
                  Secondskin, give them their due, are very very good at this slick melodic epic technical rock (that at times is almost metal) thing, one for those who think Rush were still worth bothering with once they’d finished moving those pictures, one for those who use the things Porcupine Tree do these days for a little more than just a useful method of getting off to sleep by... Oh hang on, they’re doing that screamo beano metal duel vocal screamy one/melodic one thing now... Let me quote the press release here “...vast swathes of atmospheric guitars augmented with a judicious and convincing use of effects and the ultra-defined bass sound all meld seamlessly to offer a rich sonic tapestry that draws the listener in with a succession of seductive sounds and textures" – now if that quote got your underwear moist rather than sending you off to sleep halfway through the sentence then this album is very much for you. These sounds do not seduce me! Where the hell are Suns Of The Tundra when you need them? I’m an angel witch, I’m an angel witch, bring me the head of Clive Nolan on a jester’s harlequin coloured stick of sugar-coated rock, this kind of careless proclaiming really does give prog rock a bad name....
        Now you see, I was prepared to be polite and respectful, Secondskin have clearly put a lot of time, effort and creative commitment in here, this is a major piece of work and they do do their slick technical rock thing impressively well, I was prepared to be respectful and polite and just tell all you Porcupine Tree types that this Secondskin album is very much for you and then quietly move along.... but hey, come on! This album really is beginning to pee me off now! Damn thing has been on for hours now and I still haven’t get to the end, hours and hours of the same pace, tecture, time, same colours, same emotion. Pity the captive audience that can’t escape this melodic technical ear-bothering slick show-off look-at-how-clever-we-are chin-stoking muso self indulgent conforming risk-free boredom... I’d hate to be captive to this, thankfully I have an off button and a big red CD crusher over there in the corner. This is all dreadfully unprogressive... Jesssssssssus! They’ve bloody well got another two songs to go yet! How many hours long is this damn album...? Bloody Tool have a lot to answer for! 
        Alright,you super-slick technical rock fans will think this to be the wonderfully good and hey, we’ve told you about it, you may use this review as some kind of ready guide (in some celestial voice), we could have just ignored it, but we didn't did we, no, we took time out of our day to tell you Porcupine Tool Tree fans with your ponytails and your nice neatly ironed Queensryche t-shirts and your five string bass fantasies . There’s a link at the end, you decide, use it if you wish, don’t if you choose not to, all up to you .Come on, this ain't what prog should be about, never mind your phantom fears or kindness that can kill, if you choose not to decide and all that... I choose to go listen to some Gentle Giant's freewill or some glorious Captain Ahab (or maybe some very loud Manowar), death to false prog!  This is no fortune hunt, Tool fans go check them out, you'll love 'em. This has been a public service message brought to you by those opinionated proghead b*&^^%%ers at Organ, Tool fans go check ‘em out – . Those in serxh of real forward looking envelope-pushing prog go here

EVERYTHING WE LEFT BEHIND – Pull Back And Go (self release) – Energetic generic punk pop delivered with a passion and a certain amount of healthy attitude. Speedy stuff, kind of heard it all before a little too many times though, I always thought punk rock was about breaking the rules rather than following the tried and tested standard issue blueprint? Still, everyone to their own, they certainly do it with an energetic drive and committed style, probably great live...

THE KISSAWAY TRAIL – Sleep Mountain (Bella Union) – Well it has been out a couple of weeks here in the UK now and I guess it is worth a mention before it gets lost in the either and the mountains of releases and yes, for what any of  this is worth, I do rather like The Kissaway Trail. Those clanging chimes and those bell-like charms, they do rather sound like so much of current North American animal collectiveness, all those mercury revs and that slightly euphoric build up to the touching the sky bit that seems to be required at these times. Do rather like The Kissaway Trail, do wonder if I really need them though - that voice, that phrasing, that built up, that jangle, haven’t we heard it a few times already? Ah what the hell, they are rather pleasantly uplifting and refreshingly enjoyable and why not... or

17th MAR: THE BUNDLES – The Bundles (K Records) - Some words, a list of words if you will... Happy, twee, Sesame Street, lo-fi, childish, innocent, sunny, positive, wordy, folky... And I just want to sing with my friends...  fun, inviting, breezy... dirty socks, building blocks, apple pie, Hello Biafra, Jello Kitty, sunny clouds heading from Kansas and don’t forget about your friends, “tragic-comic folk narratives”, “friendly calls for bravery” and the combination of Kimya Dawson, Jeffery Lewis, Jack Lewis. Anders Griffin and Karl Blau.... Now depending on your state of mind (and the weather outside), this is either annoyingly twee and irritatingly breakable or delightfully uplifting and positively happy... If it sounds interesting then go investigate and make your own mind up. Certainly sounds like they had great fun making it, has that feel that most Kimya Dawson creativity does these days, sounds like she’s got life sorted really. The Bundles were a band who were around about ten years ago, you’d see them mentioned in the Olympia zines and such, seems they finally got together to record some of their songs recently, this is the result. Go explore if you wish, we a merely your signpost pointers  - The album is out next Monday in the UK via





KELLY JOHNSON (Girlschool)
KELLY JOHNSON (Girlschool)