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Quick Play: A round-up of March 2010 album releases

We've listed albums in order of star rating. Best first.

Reviewed by Pete Whalley except where stated

LEE HARVEY OSMOND A Quiet Evil

Who is he:
In a word (or several), Tom Wilson (guitar and vocals). A man most (like me) wouldn't be familiar with. But beyond these shores he fronted 90's Canadian rockers Junkhouse and subsequently found a new audience as part of the rock / roots super group Blackie & The Rodeo Kings.

What's It Like:
'Acid folk' according to Wilson. But the key really, is a strong Cowboy Junkies connection (Margo and Michael Timmins both feature, with Michael also producing and mixing). Those two words signal a number of things - amongst them, folk, Americana, and perhaps most importantly, quality.

And whatever label you like to apply to A Quiet Evil, it is undoubtedly a impeccable collection. Wilson has a deep, rich and wonderfully expressive drawl (think Johnny Cash / Robbie Robertson on Somewhere Down The Crazy River and you're in the right ballpark) and the accompaniment by a collection of some seventeen players is nothing short of extraordinary. Gloriously laid back and subtle, but at the same time with some breathtaking grooves and cameos it's a magnificent effort.

Should I Buy: I
f you like folk, country, Americana or are just a fan of quality music, then A Quiet Evil should be checked out. Wilson will be touring with Cowboy Junkies [unfortunately only the US] to support the release. In a word, 'class'. ****

HUNGRY AND THE HUNTED Magic Bullets www.myspace.com/hungryandthehaunted

Hungry and The Hunted are a London based trio fronted by former Midnight Special front man Azam Kahn. Having become disillusioned with the British blues circuit and feeling frustrated at the suspicion that was directed at British Muslims following the 7/7 bombings (Kahn was raised in London but born in Pakistan) he formed Hungry and The Hunted, a band through which he could vent his anger and express his feelings.

Now about to release debut album 'Magic Bullets', the band mixes influences such as Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones, Springsteen and The Clash to create an energetic and raw sound.

The theme that runs throughout the albumís 12 tracks is the spirit of the underdog and taking a stand for what you believe in. The subject matter includes celebrity culture, the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and big business.

The album was mastered by Skunk Anansieís Ace and highlights include opening track 'This Time', 'Heavenís Gate', 'Matter of Time' and the frantically paced 'Bite The Bullet'.

'Magic Bullets' is a good solid album, keep an eye out for Hungry and The Hunted live. ***½

Review by Nikk Gunns

ALVIN STARDUST I Love Rock 'N' Roll (Greatest Hits And More)

Alvin Stardust was born to tread the boards. He started early - at age 4 in a panto - and he's seldom left the spotlight in the 64 years since.

Best known for his 80's glam, leather glove and cat suit, persona, he'd previously had 4 big hits in the sixties as lead singer of Shane Fenton and the Fentones. But in the eighties he chalked up hits in his own right far more regularly than you might recall. In particular he notched up a total of 9 top 20 hits (all included here) of which his biggest were Jealous Mind (#1) and My Coo Ca Choo (#2).

And as well as regular touring ever since, he's had spells in theatre and a tilt at A Song For Europe. I Love Rock 'N' Roll brings his recording career bang up to date with the inclusion of new material with it's roots firmly in Elvis era rock 'n' roll.

Released to coincide with a 15 date tour across May and June 2010, the album underlines that Alvin Stardust is a) a bit of pop history, and b) a born showman. His tongue in cheek delivery of Mercy is a classic case in point, and while he may not be to the taste of most GRTR! readers, one thing can be guaranteed - taking in a Stardust gig will be nothing short of entertaining. ***

MONEEN The World I Want To Leave Behind

Who are they?
Canadian indie rockers.

What are they like?
The World I Want To Leave Behind is the bandís fourth album, and a reinvention - vast soundscapes, soaring vocals, plenty of shimmering guitar work and riffs. Melodic indie emo rock with an edge, think an out of control Stereophonics.

Should I buy?
Well worth exploring, if melodic indie emo rock is your bag. But ultimately perhaps lacking the killer songs to take it to the next level. ***

KAKI KING Junior

Who is she:
From Atlanta Georgia, the first female guitarist to be named a 'guitar God' by Rolling Stone Magazine.

What's It Like:
In contrast to her first four albums released between 2003 and 2008, which were largely written in the studio with multi layered instruments all played by Kaki, Junior is a more collaborative effort with multi instrumentalist Dan Brantigan and drummer Jordan Perison.

As a result Junior is something of a departure - a dark atmospheric affair that has more in common with Bat For Lashes than Clapton or Beck, or any other guitar virtuoso you may care to think of.

Should I Buy:
The album spans a wide range of styles from sonic soundscapes (My Nerves That Commit Suicide), to folk (Sunnyside) but as a whole, falls squarely in quirky Natasha Khan singer songwriter territory. ***

PHASE REVERSE  Phase Reverse

Who are they: A Greek, Athens based, heavy metal power trio. Just the basics - guitar, bass and drums; with bassist Tas Ioannidis doubling up on vocals.

What's It Like:
The band's eponymous debut album was recorded at Reaction Studios in Greece during August to December 2008, with John Stergiou in the production seat and using analogue technology during the recording and mixing phases.

The result is a powerful set that sounds like Black Sabbath meet Metallica with a little Nickelback emo thrown in for good measure. Sadly, from their sound, you wouldn't know they weren't from the UK or America. But that's the effect of rock globalisation for you.

Should I Buy:
A promising debut, and on some of the softer more commercial moments (Crash N Burn, for example) the band demonstrate they have the potential for reaching an audience beyond just metal heads. Check them out at www.myspace.com/phasereverse ***

SOCIETY Songs From The Brickhouse

Who are they:
A three piece country rock outfit from West Sussex specialising in Americana and three part harmonies. Guitarist Matt Wise, bassist Ben Lancaster and F Scott Kenny on percussion.

What's It Like:
The band's debut album is a contemporary take on the West Coast sound of CSN&Y, The Band, The Heartbreakers and The Jayhawks.

Penned principally by Matt, who as well as taking lead vocals, guitars and mandolin, plays a mean harmonica, the band have an excellent supporting cast including Spencer Cullum on pedal steel, Dave Berliner and James Batchelar on keys, Larry Kenny on accordion and Sarah Gonputh on violin.

Should I Buy:
With quality at each stop on the line - song writing, playing, production and packaging, well worth exploring by fans of the rock crossover Americana genre. ***

THE RETALIATION PROCESS Downfall

This Hamburg based band was founded in early 2008 and has now produced its debut album called 'Downfall' in Hamburg's Eikey Studio with Eike Freese. Although they only been active for a year or two this album has some good qualities to it.

The album kicks off with the track Uprising - a meaty piece of Thrash with some excellent almost Slipknot like backing throughout but sadly not upto that standard at all.

Blindfolded is yet another Slipknot rip-off and although in its own right isn't a bad track, you get the feeling that its all been done before! Four Seasons Of Self Mutilation is a little more like there own track with some excellent guitar rifts and drum work thrust forward with that almost growling voice.

Bridge End...brings more of their musical talent to the fore, trying to play rather than copy works so I am a little more hopeful that these guys can go forward from here.. then comes ...Prozac an Instrumental that truly blows you away. Sublime and peaceful.

Then its back with vengeance with Carnal Addiction showing the true potential of the band, just a pity its lacking in other parts of the album. Down and Written In Red Ink makes you think Ď mmm have I heard this before?' Not a good sign for a bands first album.

Don't get me wrong as there are some good tracks on this album like Down and the final track Uncertain but I think these guys must sit back, read the reviews then plan how they can go forward as they have the talent and will in the future hopefully have the material.  ***

Review by The Unforgiven

HELLFUELLED Emission of Sins (Black Lodge)

'Emission of Sins' is the fourth album from Sweden's Hellfuelled. The band is from the heavier end of the melodic rock genre, almost bordering on out and out metal.

Vocalist Andy Alkman has pretty much used Ozzy Osbourne as a template for his own vocal styling and this is apparent throughout the album, which is a shame as it takes some of the originality away from the bands own material.

It would be interesting to hear the songs without the vocal effects that have been used in the recording of the album as this may take things up a level without the inevitable comparisons to the Prince of Darkness.

The heavy riffs are what drives 'Emission of Sins', however, the best tracks are the lighter and more melodic ones such as 'In Anger', 'Stone By Stone' and 'End Of The Road'. Of the heavier tracks 'A Remission of My Sins', 'Save Me' and 'For My Family and Satan' are all well worth checking out. The album closes with the instrumental 'Moving On' - a track that could comfortably sit on any of Europe guitarist John Norum's solo albums.  ***

Review by Nikk Gunns

KYTE Dead Waves

Who are they:
A Leicestershire four piece big, as they the saying goes, in Japan. Bigger that is than U2, charting at number 5. Remarkable.

What's are they like:
For a bunch of youngsters, it's a debut mature beyond the band's years. Their sound is one based on the sonic meandering style of some of U2's b-sides or Sigur Ros. A modern day Prefab Sprout, in a dreamy, techno sort of a way. Vast soundscapes, punctuated by glistening guitars and keys, punchy drums and dreamy vocals.

Should I Buy:
in the US, their track Boundaries was used to advertise The Sopranos, and they've had remarkable success in Japan. While I wouldn't normally consider myself a huge fan of the genre, there's enough commerciality and rock thrown into the mix to suggest that Kyte could well be the band to cross over to the major leagues. ***

GREGORY DARLING Stew Americano

Who is he:
Singer songwriter and keyboard player best known in the UK for his collaborations with Julian Lennon as writing partner and band member. In Italy and Germany his debut album Shell went top 10, and he's also been spotted supporting Bryan Adams.

What's It Like:
Soulful balladry over melodic piano and strings. A contemporary mix of Billy Joel, Robbie Williams, Michael Buble and Rikki Ross.

Should I Buy:
Bound to appeal to the Radio 2 audience and already featured by Wogan and Ross on their respective programmes. Undeniably smooth. ***

ISA & THE FILTHY TONGUES  Dark Passenger

Who are they:
Isa (Stacey Chavis) and Martin Metcalfe (Goodbye Mr Mckenzie - remember them from the late eighties / early nineties?).

What's It Like:
According to the PR blurb - 'one tough mother of an album'. According to GRTR!, with Isa and Martin taking turns on lead vocals, a dark, sombre, underground psychedelic album with its roots firmly the eighties (think Bunnymen, early U2 at their more melodic, and naturally enough Goodbye Mr McKenzie).

Should I Buy:
Easy enough to see why the band are developing something of a cult following, and Dark Passenger takes them another step closer to the mainstream. **½

TIN SOLDIERS Telling Tales

Who are they:
Another new rock band off the conveyor belt that produces NME. Glastonbury ready, indie pop / rock groups.

What's It Like:
Indistinguishable from oh so many bands that deliver up tempo sing along indie pop rock. Although to be fair to Tin Soldiers, they do seem to have more depth in their locker than many of their contemporaries.

Should I Buy:
Bursting with energy and bonhomie, there are some decent songs here, and they're well played and delivered. But then, aren't they all? **½

THE MARY MAJOR 04:13

Who are they:
Raw, female fronted angsty metal. From Sweden,

What's It Like:
Some pretty decent vocals from Lotta Hoglin (although she shares lead vocals with Eric Molarin). But the song structures are bludgeoning and relentlessly doom laden. What I like to refer to as 'beardy' rock - sub chin facial hair an essential - as are neck breaking riffery and growled backing vocals. A mosher's wet dream.

Should I Buy:
In the same ballpark as bands like Hydrogyn, but without the commercial selling points. Fine, if you like self harming. **½

REVERSE ORDER Reverse Order

A young band from New Jersey. Successful in local talent contests for the last couple of years and having appeared at several festival dates the band are about to release their self-titled debut album. The drive of their front man John Russo is way ahead of his years as he has written and co-produced all 9 tracks on the album- as well as playing bass and guitar in addition to lead and backing vocals.

The band's sound is mostly US pop punk, in the vein of bands such as Sum 41, with hints of Nirvana and The Goo Goo Dolls. Highlights on the album include 'Always', 'Staind' and 'Remember'.

The band sound more experienced than their young years and the song writing is good, however, the album is slightly let down by the rough production- with a decent studio budget Reverse Order could do well. **½

Rview by Nikk Gunns

CLONECIRCLE Behind The Wire MSM Productions (2010) www.myspace.com/clonecircle

Tagged as a industrial/gothic metal band with Korn cited as an influence this Danish band sound more like they want to be a Paradise Lost tribute band!

It is well played and produced of that there is no doubt, but the songs don't entice the listener back in. Being brutal it has all been done before and much better as well. Worth downloading are the title track and 'Your Own Worst Enemy', otherwise stick on your Paradise Lost CD's as they are what this band wants to be. **½

Review by Jason Ritchie

THE DISPLAY TEAM Drones

Who are they:
London based 6 - piece formerly going under the name of Mumrah.

What's It Like:
The Specials jamming with Madness on the long lost, and legendary, Sid Vicious songbook - anarchic and frenetic ska punk.

Should I Buy:
Not if you're a self respecting rock fan. Utterly bonkers. **

TRENT MILLER & THE SKELETON JIVE Cerebus

Who is he:
Of Italian birth, but resident in London since 2006, and described as the Pete Doherty of Americana.

What's It Like:
Dark singer songwriter tales of graveyards, lust, empty bottles and murder delivered in the Donovan/Dylan style of the mid sixties. That is, acoustic, harmonica and gravelly vocals.

Should I Buy:
Trent Miller may be attracting something of a cult following on the underground folk scene, but unlike his illustrious predecessors, his songs are sombre and nowhere near as accessible. **

MICE TAKE THE ELEVATOR  Rock My World

Who are they:
'Newcomers' Max Wilson (65) - singer songwriter, and guitarist / Lyndon Robbins (59). For the last decade also known as the Boom Bangers .

What's It Like:
They say: Free, The Stones, Pink Floyd, Springsteen and Petty. We say: 'turn your hearing aid back on boys'. The nearest comparison I can come up with is if Knopfler/Dylan's grandparents sneaked into the studio they might sound something like this - geriatric garage rock.

Should I Buy:
The songs may be half decent, but if they are, they're well masked by some rudimentary playing and production and murderous singing. Some things are best kept behind closed doors - The Mice are one of them.*

 


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***** Out of this world | **** Pretty damn fine |
*** OK, approach with caution unless you are a fan |
** Instant bargain bin fodder | * Ugly. Just ugly


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