We've listed albums in order of star rating. Best first.
Walkin' The Razor's Edge (Rock Candy )
Firebrand Canadian hard rock, Helix came to the world's attention in the early
80s by signing to Capitol, the album ‘No Rest For The Wicked' receiving healthy
sales and reviews. This 1984 set continued in similar vein, if anything stepping
things up. From the outset you get a mix of ‘in your face' hard rock with big
hair touches. The band dented MTV when it was full of much more poodle clad
bands. More successful than Anvil, more fireworks than Triumph.
Opener 'Rock You' hits you hard, and 'Young & Wreckless' is catchy. 'Animal
House' nods at a beefed up Saxon too! Contrast that to 'Feel The Fire' which
nods more at Def Leppard / Heavy Pettin'.
The vocals and guitars all scream throughout, creating a wall of sound effect.
Radio friendly in a noisy way. The band were a must-see onstage too, and this is
proven by the three bonus live cuts and plethora of press cuttings amongst the
extensive sleevenotes, which includes band interviews.
Thoroughly enjoyable! ****
Canadian based electronic rock band 'Metric' are about to release 4th album
'Fantasies'- 10 tracks of ‘80's inspired electro, rock /pop blended with a
mixture of modern rock and pop sensibilities. It has already entered the U.S
Billboard 200 and reached number 1 on debuted at number 8 on the Canadian album
charts- not bad for a release on the bands own label.
Packed with tracks that could easily grace the UK Top 40 (I'll eat my hat if
'Collect Call' isn't a hit this summer!!), this album will be on your mind for
days after even a quick listen. Vocalist Emily Haines has a voice that is
somewhere between Kim Wilde and Cerys Matthews, yet sounds like no other singer
Other highlights on the album include 'Help I'm Alive', 'Front Row' and 'Stadium
Love'. 'Fantasies' is released in the UK on 27th of April and I would be very
surprised if we didn't hear a lot more from Metric this year. ****
Review by Nikk Gunns
One (Lost Lady Records)
Stoke-on-Trent band LiViD are about to release debut album 'One' via their own
Lost Lady label. Whilst most newer bands are grabbing onto the bandwagon started
by the likes of The Arctic Monkeys and the myriad of nameless/faceless indie
bands whose careers the record industry just loves to through all their
resources into, this 4 piece band have revisited the sounds of such genre
defining bands as Aerosmith, Skid Row and even the commercial side of Metallica-
alongside bands such as The Darkness, The Answer, Kingdom Come and the long-time
missing in action Sven Gali.
'Lost Lady Saloon' is a track that could easily have been written by Aerosmith,
the ballad-like opening of 'Deserve' giving way to an out and out rocker, whilst
other highlights include 'Don’t Hate The Player', 'Devil’s Bones', 'Original
Rockstar' and 'Can’t Find Home'. LiViD recorded over 70 tracks between 2006 and
2008, the best of which have made it on to this 13-track album.
You can expect to see the band featuring in the best new band category of many a
music magazine this year. ****
Review by Nikk Gunns
return with their second album and its self-released after their debut came out
via Escape Music back in 2007. The band are a three piece, namely prolific solo
artist Phil Vincent (vocals/guitar/keys), Damian D'Ercole (guitar/bass) and Dirk
Phillips (drums). There are also guest guitarists and a very tasty cover where
you want to say to the lady concerned 'Now clap your hands' (check out the cover
and you'll see what I mean!).
The album opens with the ballad '...In The Name Of...' a novel move as most
albums save ballads up for at least the third song in. Needless to say this is
one classy song and then the hard rocking 'Two Timer' hits you - a great Thin
Lizzy vibe to this song. In fact it is the hard rock songs that really attract
attention on here like 'Who's Gonna Make The First Move' (blasts latter day
Dokken out of the water) and the awesome riff monster that is 'Everything
Changes'. Only one niggle for me and that's the use of various electronic
effects at the start of a couple of songs but hey that's minor compared to the
strong set of songs on here.
Definitely one to add to your melodic hard rock collection and the band really
wear thie hearts of their sleeves as regards their love of melodic hard rock.
This album builds on the debut and often exceeds it in terms of song
quality. Roll on album number three!
COLOUR Live At CBGB (Wienerworld )
This 2005 benefit concert for the now deceased legendary venue captures Living
Colour in full flow. While Red Hot Chilli Peppers took funk metal to the charts,
it was a watered down version of what we have here; in the late 80s Living
Colour redefined hard rock, crossing all kinds of boundaries. Jazz fusion, funk,
Hendrix, hardcore punk, it's all here. 12 tracks of live rock'n'roll kick off
with the in-your-face 'Type' before 'Middle Man' adds the noises and effects.
The set spans their career, and 'Open Letter To A Landlord', 'Terrorism' and
'Sacred Ground' are all relevant today, musically and lyrically.
Corey Glover handles the vocals well, with some inter song banter. Vernon Reid's
guitar is as frenetic as ever, producing some great sounds and solos.
The set closes with 'Cult Of Personality', the song that made the band a
A little rough around the edges, but if you like cross boundary hard rock,
you'll love this. ***½
Review by Joe Geesin
Live At CBGB (Wienerworld)
Legendary punk band recorded live at a legendary punk venue, back at one of a
series of benefit concerts in 2002 (the venue is now closed). And although
straight from the soundboard, the sound quality and performance on the night
does lend to the ‘official bootleg' tag. No bad thing for a punk band, for it's
all very high energy.
The band released their debut in 1996 and have kept the New York hardcore sound
alive. Tracks like 'Family Tree', 'Guilty By Association' and 'Spirit Of 84' are
fast and furious. The bass is low, the guitar thrashy and trashy. The vocals
high paced, rattling off like a rap at times. The backing vocals occasionally
chant glam style too.
You can see the connections to the East Coast thrash scene (think early
Anthrax), and you get glimmers of guitar with a deft touch.
You can feel the mosh pit from here.
12 tracks of classic hardcore punk might not be everyone's cup of (sniffing)
glue, but the scene is apparently alive and well, even if the venue isn't.
ART BRUT Art Brut Vs
Satan (Cooking Vinyl)
Uptempo indie pop/rock with plenty of guitar chops, mixing in riffs, in a beefed
up guitar pop way. The opening title track is a chirpy number, in places a
little jangly, rather like U2 trying to be NWoBHM. Then there's 'DC Comics And
Chocolate Milkshake' (how many youths does that encompass?) which mixes Kaiser
Chiefs / Killers with Blur. There's an innocence that's quirky without being
annoying, and plenty of drum rolls to give that rock edge.
The air is of a young band sounding young (although it is their third album),
playing better guitar pop than most, and with an underlying maturity.
A few years ago this would have given indie rock a fresh angle, now it is guitar
pop with a retro feel. Either way, if you like mainstream guitar music for the
Radio 1 market, you'll love this. ***½
Review by Joe Geesin
DAVIES Electronic Guitar Mascot Records (2009)
Jim Davies may not be an instantly recognizable name but two of his previous
bands he has appeared in are, namely the Prodigy and Pitchshifter. On this album
Jim Davies handles all instruments bar some bass playing.
Jim Davies has set out on this album to capture his love of electronic music
using only the guitar to create some very 'out there' sounds at times. A few
tunes also hint at the Prodigy, mainyl in the driving beats. At fourteen tracks
you certainly get your money's worth and the range of musical styles from metal
to dub will certainly keeps the listener's interest.
Of definate interest to lovers of progressive electronic music and guitar
instrumental albums that are not simply speedy shred fests. ***½
by Jason Ritchie
CANDYTHIEF Technicolour Wilderness
Candythief are the
brainchild on one Diana De Cabarrus. Now there's a name to conjour with. And if
you try googling it you'll find out quite a lot - bebo, twitter, a diploma in
electric guitar, a music tutor, influences including Robert Johnson, Django
Reinhardt, and Jimi Hendrix, and a member of the aristocracy(?).
Which makes her debut album on Scottish indie label Fence Records something of a
surprise. Ably supported and abetted by Jem Doulton on percussion, backing
vocals and keyboards, Jason Dickinson on fiddle and an assortment of bass
players (Jason Simpson has now taken that position permanently), Diana has
crafted a spicy mix of alt / folk / indie / pop and rock.
The use of the Jason Dickinson's fiddle adds an atmospheric charm giving the
whole set a curiously quirky 'English' feel. Oft compared with the more offbeat
female singer songwriters such as PJ Harvey, Cat Power and Joanna Newsom, Diana,
Candythief more than hold their own. But while the playing and production is
faultless, at the end of the day, Technicolour Wilderness sadly lacks any real
'killer' tunes. **½
Review by Pete Whalley
VALENTINE A Short Album About Love (Struck Dumb Records)
Valentine's third album, and if you like whimsical and honest pop you'll like
this. From the opener 'Hurricane' the pop explores indie, folk and
singer/songwriter. With 'Trapdoor' there is an element of late 60s, adding a
touch of psych, garage and west coast pop.
The album is largely acoustic (or acoustic oriented), with Alex handling all
vocals, guitars and keyboards. The guest bass, drums and even cello work in
For this kind of album it's a lot more melodic than most, even amongst the
strumming there's something carrying a tune.
At times the album is just too light and whimsical to grab any attention, but it
does produce a nice atmosphere. ***
SAM ISAAC Bears
Recorded in London with
Dan Swift (Aqualung) and featuring players from the Royal College of Music, the
Hoosiers' horn section and his own band, Bears is Sam's self-released debut.
Already with a growing fan base thanks to Radio 1 airplay and appearances at
more festivals in 2008 than you can shake a stick at, Bears can only enhance
Sam's reputation. It's a lo-fi affair and a subtle understated blend of singer -
songwriter balladry and the indie mayhem of the likes of the Wombats that is
likely to hit the mark with the NME circuit crowd.
Typical of the current vogue, but put together with more craft than many of the
current crop, it's an introspective album most likely to be found in lonely
bed-sits up and down the land. Melancholy. ***
Review by Pete Whalley
CAKE Motorcade Of
Generosity / B-Sides and Rarities
You can't fault the
ingenuity of Cake. The Sacramento based 'alternative' rock band re-release their
1994 debut album to include 4 previously unavailable filmed live performances
and a 'scratch and sniff' remixed and remastered version of their 2007 B-Sides
and Rarities album featuring such unlikely bedfellows as Sabbath's War Pigs,
Sinatra's Strangers In The Night and Ruby, Don't Take Your Love To Town.
The re-mastered Motorcade Of Generosity reveals itself to be somewhat ahead of
it's time. Self produced in what would now be described as 'lo-fi' fashion, the
8 track sound quality is excellent while, at the time, it was a reaction to the
gratuitous self indulgence of American rock productions. So what you get is
separation and clarity and an album of ingenuity that has found favour with many
over the years. Sparse, quirky and inspired. ***
As for the Rarities album, it's impossible not to like. But beware - there's
no scratching or sniffing needed. The moment I opened the sealed cellophane a
cloying sickly all pervading stench emerged. I had series concerns for the
internals of my CD drive. But the reworking of War Pigs, replete with horns and
a throbbing pulse reminiscent of Alex Harvey's The Faith Healer and the unique
interpretations of Ruby Don't Take Your Love To Town and Never, Never Gonna Give
You Up are worthy of the admission price alone. ***
Review by Pete Whalley
MARMADUKE DUKE Duke
Marmaduke Duke is a side project for Biffy Clyro guitarist Neil Simon and
Sucioperro guitarist JP Reid, who for the purposes of a three part mythological
musical trilogy are also known as The Atmosphere and The Dragon.
The first album of the
trilogy - The Magnificent Duke Kid - offered three different musical suites – in
your face shredding rock, brain rearranging ambience and acoustica. In complete
contrast, Duke Pandemonium is party fuelled decadence, deviance and dancing.
From the techno hip hop beats of Heartburn and the Chic guitar lines and disco
funk on speed of Everybody's Dance and Rubber Love to the minimalist electronica
of Kid Gloves featuring Sneaky Sound System’s Connie Mitchell on guest vocals,
Duke Pandemonium is about as far away from Biffy and Sucioperro as you could
Performed and produced in just 24 hours, this is experimentation outside of the
envelope. And it's healthy to see a pair of musicians taking what, for fans,
will be a journey into the complete unknown. The pair even sample Billy Joel for
the new single Rubber Lover, and throw in calypso to the closing Skin The Mofo.
But in a strange sort of way, it's transfixing. It draws you in, covers you in
body chocolate, and gives you a good hard shag before spitting you out again.
Review by Pete Whalley
CATS IN BOOTS Kicked And Klawed (Rock Candy)
Now here's a name that screams sleaze glam from the late 80s. The band may have
been big in Japan but the sound has Hollywood written all over it. This 1989 EMI
album proved successful, even if the band were short lived. Trends, timing and
mishaps and living to excess may have killed things off prematurely, but it
didn't stop the band having a party en route.
This band shared the scene with Motley Crue, Dokken, Quiet Riot and G'n'R, but
kept more of the party sound of the scene's biggest influence, Hanoi Rocks.
'Shot Gun Sally' is sleaze metal all over, while 'Nine Lives' throws a touch of
high speed boogie into the mix.
'Whip It Out' is more funk oriented, but throughout the album it's screaming
vocals and guitars.
The whole album is as clichéd as ever, but it's a lot of fun and will bring back
happy memories to some.
As usual with Rock Candy there are the lengthy sleevenotes that include band
Not that taxing, but very enjoyable and good value. ***
SIC F*CKS Live At CBGB (Weinerworld )
Recorded in October 2006, this benefit gig and soundboard recording was one of
the last before the venue closed. The 12 track set lasted just over 30 minutes,
and is classic funky hardcore punk.
Tish and Snooky were previously backing singers in Blondie, and there are bursts
of Saxophone too.
But this is classic punk, with song titles like 'Insects Rile My World', 'Chop
Up Your Mother' and 'Teenage Abortion'. There's even a thrash through the
Ramones' 'Blitzkrieg Bop'. There's plenty of interplay between band and crowd,
stories, chat; yes it's all very intimate, and equally cheap and cheerful, but
that's what it's all about; abrasive and abrupt.
The band's catalogue is thin, and the band haven't released much since the early
80s, so this will be a welcome addition to any hardcore collection. ***
Review by Joe Geesin
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