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

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

FIREWORKS NIGHT As Fools We Are (Kartel)

Fireworks Night is a shifting band of musicians led by 25 year old Oxford graduate James Lesslie.

As Fools We Are is the band's second album recorded primarily in Jersey. Full of doom-laden lyrics (think Johnny Cash) but supported by a wide variety of traditional and modern day instruments it makes for a haunting mix.

Plaintive and lovely songs delivered with joyous gloom, As Fools Are would sit neatly next to Ray LaMontagne on your cd shelf. If you like you singer songwriters deep dark and thoughtful, look no further. ***½

Review by Pete Whalley

MICK STERLING Between Saturday Night And Sunday Morning (Bad Reputation)

A long standing musician, big in America, the opening title track is a near unique blend of blues rock with soul and a nod at country. Kinda funky, not too dissimilar to Ian Hunter.

'It's Been A Long Time' is a down dirty honest blues rock track, the background fills on keyboard sounding polished. 'You Don't Know What Dirty Is' is more R'n'B, an element of Chris Rea too.

There are acoustic moments too, it's a pleasant album, very nice in places. 15 good tracks, but only a handful really bite. ***

Review by Joe Geesin

FATAL SMILE Neo Natural Freaks (Bad Reputation Records)

Indie sounding metal that hits you with a burst, the title track is an interesting almost catchy number. 'Bleeding Kiss' is slower, almost extreme. Like melodic Tank!

'Crash & Burn' has a nice intro before the guitars really do crash and burn. 'Learn Love Hate' has a Metallica edge, slightly more melodic but with a rougher dirtier edge. A hint of dark grungy Saxon too.

Couple of nice vocal harmonies but the main emphasis is the dirty riff which works well. ***

Review by Joe Geesin

FORCEFEED Stainless (Avalanche Music)

An extreme metal set, opening in an electronic industrial fashion before the full blast sonic riffs kick in. 'In Spite Of You' opens with a nice bass riff before the twin guitars just blow your ears away. Slow elements too.

Touches of Machine Head and Soulfly. 'Honesty' is equally brutal, the vocals mixing singing with cement mixer, and 'No One' adds some very heavy machine gun drums. It's all largely a similar tempo, and most of it mid range, making for a samey feel. A couple of decent melodies under the noise though. ***

Review by Joe Geesin

MARK SWEENY Slow Food (NL Distribution)

Sweeny is a vocalist who's done a lot of work, including fronting Chrystal Ball, and other projects as produced, backing vocals etc. This solo album could equally be a solo album by multi instrumentalist Michael Borman who co-writes and also plays most of the instruments.

There are some nice tunes here, some great melodies, but the music is nothing special. It's kind of typical mid 80s rock/pop. Not necessarily AOR, just ordinary rock. The vocals are good, with range, melody and emotion.

And part of the melody of 'Don't Hold Back The Tears' is very reminiscent of Gary Moore's 'After The War', only done in a more strumming fashion. **

Review by Joe Geesin

SWITCHBLADE Rock N Roll Perris Records PER1862

Switchblade's new album is crunching guitar, sleazy rock n roll that will please fans of Circus Of Power, Junkyard etc. From the AC/DC style opening chords of 'Mr Big Shot', the powerful 'Rocker' and other highlights 'Desert Train' and 'Man On The Run', the band mean business. Vocalist Ken Anthony guarantees fans raw, high energy, in your face rock n roll with this album and that is what he delivers. **

Review by Joe Geesin

BRANT BJORK and THE BROS (Somera Sol Duna/Cargo Records)

Interesting rock album this, kicking off with a quirky bass riff on 'Turn Yourself On' that firstly grabs you but doesn't change at all, quickly becoming monotonous.

'Love Is Revolution' at least attempts a bit of a guitar solo but the rhythm, while interesting at times, changes little throughout. A touch of indie rock to 'Shrine Communications', a riff based on an arpeggio which sounds disjointed, given the guitar solo and vocals don't fit it at all.

Not all the songs are that bad , some are. Interesting moments but the ideas aren't explored or expanded enough, in some cases not even thought through. **

Review by Joe Geesin

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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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