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Quick Play: A round-up of February 2007 album releases

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

SCOTT McKEON Can't Take No More (Provogue)

Debut album from this young (20) guitarist, who plays some decent blues. Touches of Stevie Ray Vaughn, a less heavy Hendrix, you get the blues rock of 'Shot Down', then the boogie of 'Honey Baby', a real foot stomper. Some good guitar over the heavy fuzzy rhythm.

This guy could go far, worth checking out. ***½

Review by Joe Geesin

ERIC GALES The Psychedelic Underground (Provogue)

Interesting album this, and a very talented guitarist too (Left handed playing the guitar upside down).

Opener 'Wake Up Call' is a hard blues rocker with a funk edge, a great bass riff and some neat solos over the top.

The album continues in a similar vein, smooth rock with a touch of jazz and quite a bit more of funk and blues. 'Rumble' features a down and dirty, honest variety that the 80s hair bands glammed up.

'Dark Corners Of My Mind' features some great blues guitar, but elements are just 'nice' and lack identity.

Overall a good album that's very enjoyable. ***½

Review by Joe Geesin

SNAKE EYES SEVEN Snake Eyes Seven (Chavis Records)

New metal album, and it's full of metal too. The press release talks of Black Sabbath meets Rammstein and they're not far off the mark.

Opening track 'Hell Or High Water' is very heavy with a nod at the 80s, the metal end of Glenn Hughes. Guitarists Daniel Nargang (Century Media etc) and Cole Stevens (Wrathchild) churn out some decent riffs.

Strong mainstream metal vocals are heavy, clear, and the guitar solo bursts work well. Not too cluttered, good solid heavy metal; retro in places but a strong swinging modern power metal feel too. ***½

Review by Joe Geesin

CLUTCH From Beale Street To Oblivion (DRT Entertainment)

This enjoyable album kicks off with a heavy rock'n'roll number, a very high speed fuzzy guitar with keyboards. I say rock'n'roll in the kind that inspired punk, there is a 70s feel here. Pre punk or post punk, they merge it in a metal sense here.

The production isn't crystal clear, but that's where it suits the music well. Honest and raw.

Track 3 is a little more southern, track 5 more blues with a touch of boogie. A great mix and keeps you rocking. ***½

Review by Joe Geesin

MARC FORD Weary And Wired (Provogue)

Marc Ford is the former lead guitarist of the Black Crowes, so anyone expecting some rough'n'ready rock'n'roll with a touch of sleaze will be happy here.

Opener 'Featherweight Dreamland' is quite uptempo bluesy, a touch of 60s Garage rhythm'b'blues (proper R'n'B).

That 60s Garage edge continues on 'Don't Come Around', a nod at what influenced the 90s Britpop scene with some decent tunes and even better guitar work. ***½

A lot of fun, a bit bluesy, well worth checking out.

Review by Joe Geesin

RAINBOW GEORGE Terrestrial Extra (Message Parlour/Dream Ticket Records)

A bit of a curio this collection. Rainbow George is an apprentice prophet and part time mystic who stood for the March 2007 Northern Ireland Assembly Elections as representative for the Make Politicians History party.

George believes we're all linked together in a cosmic chain of predetermined events designed to lead to a higher state of higher consciousness. And Terrestrial Extra is George's official campaign cd.

Good as this little CD is - Cosmic Shifting by the Ben Reel Band is particularly worthy of mention, as is Another Revolution by Phil Saatchi, and the laid back sax fest of Rainbow Song by Hiroki Okana - it wasn't enough to see George with a seat at the table.

With contributions by Ian Dury, Sid Wishes, Phil Saatchi, the excellent Ben Reel, John Otway, Dave Goodman, Anna Jacyszyn, Hiroki Okana and Gilad Atzmon, it's a terrific if eclectic collection and well worth a punt. ***½

Review by Pete Whalley

FRANSESCO FERERI Secrets Within (Lion Music)

Second album from this highspeed techno whizz. Neo classical fretboard runs that make Malmsteen look amateur.

The opening title track features scales and melodies, good paced and some high speed, layered with keyboards too, and changes of tempo work well. Machine gun speed metal drums too.

One guitar solo is overdubbed slightly differently, giving an interesting stereo effect.

Some great work here, all instrumental, the arrangements are good too. Fast, heavy, technical, mood inspiring. Progressive neo-classical speed metal, if there is such a thing.

A good listen, but don't know how soon I could return to it. ***

Review by Joe Geesin


UK release for this album that has already been a huge success in Italy.

This is classic pop, not stuck in any particular genre.

Guests include Julian Lennon, Robbie Blunt, Chris Field and Blondie bassist Nigel Harrison.

Opener 'That'll Be The Day' is a little whimsical, and the orchestration continues on the title track, which underpins the piano and nice melodies.

Elements of the more commercial end of Mike & Mechanics.

Some good tunes, but remember it is a mid range pop album. ***

Review by Joe Geesin

KIKO LOUREIRO Universo Inverso (Fuel Records FUEL514CD)

Kiko Loureiro has released an instrumental album that combines jazz, classical and Brazilian styles. The highlights amongst the 10 tracks here include the Brazilian flavoured 'Feijao De Corada', the holiday feel of 'Samba Da Elisa' and 'Monday Mourning', complete with its haunting piano opening.

Laid back but in a way that you can relax with it playing in the background. ***

Review by Nikk Gunns

LUMSK Det Vilde Kor Tabu recordings (2007)

Norwegian band who have set one of Norway's premier poets Knut Hamsun and some of his work to music. Sung entirely in their native tongue (it never hindered Clannad!) this is an album worth spending time on. It is folk rock, with some haunting female vocals (although they can turn to twee at times as can be heard on ‘Paa Hvelvet'). The duet on ‘Om Hundrede Aarer Alting Glemt' is simply stunning. The band have added strings and classical instruments such as clarinet and oboe to fill out the sound.

Not for everyone this one but those who like something mellow and along the lines of Clannad or Capercaillie this will be right up your street. ***

Review by Jason Ritchie

CAPDOWN Wind Up Toys Fierce Panda (2007)

The band's third album and not a bad little album, although by no means a 'must have'. It's good old indie rock with a ska twist as they add sax and use samples/keys more than other similar bands.

They also outdo the Napalm Death screams/growls on 'Thrash Tuesday' which does exactly as the title suggests, thrash!

The title track along with 'No Matter What' and 'Community Service' are stand out tracks and if ska/indie is your bag then Capdown are very good at it. ***

Review by Jason Ritchie


Paul Hartnoll, one half of Orbital - of the most influential dance acts of all time - has brought The Cure's Robert Smith on board for his second solo offering since the demise of Orbital. His debut solo album - The Ideal Condition - will follow in May.

Crafted in his Brighton studio, Hartnoll has supplemented his techno landscapes with ‘real' instruments on a great number that will please Orbital and Cure fans alike.

As you might expect the production is first rate and as well as a host of remixes you also get an excellent non-album track Old School Tie. ***

Review by Pete Whalley

TALL FIRS Tall Firs (Ecstatic Peace!)

Part of the New York electric folk underground scene, Tall Firs were formed in 1990 when Dave Miles and Aaron Mullan taught each other to play guitar over the phone.

The album is a cast back to those hippy, sun and drug soaked days of the 1960s when an acoustic and a joint was all that was needed for peace, love and understanding. Think early Donovan.

Gentle interwoven melodies pervade the album and wash around, over and through you. The vocals are restrained, low key and mellow, occasionally supplemented by drums and keys.

It's an album best served through headphones or in a warm bath. Soothing music to take stock of the world to. ***

Review by Pete Whalley

HEARTSCORE Many Directions (Indigo Team)

Dirk sounds like what might be termed a 'performance' artist. This CD combines poetry with a variety of musical styles and the album title really says it all.

It should be enjoyed for what it is, unusual, the genre changes may confuse some. There are echoes of Bowie and English whimsy although Dirk is German. And the music ranges from funk to rock and Dirk plays all instruments.

'A Death In The Opposite House' sounds like The Tubes crossed with Gentle Giant. Perhaps one direction too many.

At times, he sings like a Middle European Morrissey and, for completists, the lyrics are on the website **½

Review by David Randall

MV AND EE WITH THE BUMMER ROAD Green Blues (Ecstatic Peace)

Ever had a turntable belt slip on you? No. Well wonder no longer what it sounds like.

MV & EE and the Bummer Road are Matt Valentine - vox, guitars, banjos, harmonica, yali tambur, cumbus, wood flutes, piano, moon marimba and percussion and Erika Elder: vox, electric dulcimer, ukele, swarsangam, slide guita, mandolin, autoharp, phrophet tambura, struti box, percussion and electric jug. Just about everything apart form the kitchen sink. And that's before Bummer Road - Mo Jiggs, Nemo Bidstrup, Sparrow Wildchild (what a great a name) Tim Barnes and Samara Lubelski join the party.

Hailing from the depths of New England, MV and EE and their ever-changing entourage have been exploring lunar blues noise/space, or what's been lovingly referred to as 'freak folk' for a few years now.

Imagine a hippy commune, a shed load of soft drugs and plenty of stars for inspiration and hey-presto. Early Hawkwind without the sonic assault.

Perfect dope music. **½

Review by Pete Whalley

THEIR HEARTS WERE FULL OF SPRING These Are Our Songs, We Wrote Them For You

Their Hearts Were Full Of Spring are an indie pop outfit from London and the South East who you're likely to find playing in pubs in the location.

With a line up of Markus (founder, guitarist and singer), Gordon (drums), Matth (bass, keyboards), Paul (guitars) and Vicky and Alex (back up vocals and bits of percussion) and quoting a range of influences from The Smiths to The Beach Boys, the band produce their own blend of weary, dreary indie pop that would be perfect to slit your wrists to. But then I never got Morrissey either.

There's some half decent pop moments As Long As The Sun Shines and Fall Into These Arms, plenty of strange musical interludes and even some reasonable uptempo numbers such as Stars.

But to be honest, Their Hearts Were Full Of Spring are unlikely to rise above being a pub band who you want to take home after half a dozen pints of Guinness, but who you won't want to wake up to in the morning. **

Review by Pete Whalley

TAWN Smile If You Know What's Good For You

The problem with the internet age is that home recording is relatively easy and everyone thinks that by having a guitar, a myspace page, and being able to string a few notes together with their mates, they've got a chance of being the next big thing.

Delusion comes cheap. You've only got to watch American Idol or Pop Idol. Tawn are a three piece playing around the Coventry, Birmingham and Leicester area. They're a bludgeoning heavy three piece indie/punk/rock outfit. Great for students pissed out of their brains but for anyone seeking cultured rock, look elsewhere. **

Review by Pete Whalley

BIG COCK (Driver Wild Music)

From the opening notes on both albums Big Cock remind you of any number of 80's rock bands- Skid Row and early Motley Crue are just two that come to mind. With crunching guitars and big choruses the only thing that lets these two CDs down is the lyrical obsession with- er, Cock.

On Big Cock the highlights include 'F****d Up' (with the classic line 'I'm The Ayatollah of Rock N Rollah'!!), 'Real Man' and a brilliant cover of the Tom Jones hit 'She's A Lady'. **

With Year Of The Cock the best bits are 'I Want It All', 'Mean Street Machine', the stripper inspired 'Take It Off' and 'Dynamite'. ** Both are good rock albums and should appeal to fans of 80's rock.

Review by Nikk Gunns

ALEX SKOLNICK TRIO Last Day In Paradise (Magnatude MT-2312-2)

Testament guitarist Alex Skolnick has put together a 10 track jazz-rock CD, which ranges from the extremely jazzy 'Channel 4' to the jazzy instrumental version of the Rush classic 'Tom Sawyer'- there is even 'Practica Lo Que Predicas' (Spanish for the Testament track 'Practice What You Preach', again done in a jazz style).

The highlight here is the Sabbath like 'Western Sabbath Stomp' which features some great guitar work. A laid back album that will not appeal to all hard rock fans.*

Review by Nikk Gunns

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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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