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Quick Play: A round-up of March 2008 album releases

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

VARIOUS Rock The Bones - Volume 6 (Frontiers)

Eighteen tracks in all culled from this year's current and upcoming releases on Frontiers. These include the storming 'Never Again' by Asia; a real funk meets soul (with brass!) called 'Love Communication' from Glenn Hughes; Place Of Powers providing some classy melodic rock on 'The Passage' and Jimi Jamison proving he is still on top form with 'Behind The Music'.

Not so impressed though with Silent Rage's 'Four Letter Word', mind you was never a big fan of the band to start with!

Michael Kiske seems to be continuing with his mellow AOR leanings if 'You Always Walk Alone' is anything to go by (complete with a folk intro!).

The Jorn Lande song, 'Lonely Are The Brave' does not really grab me but hopefully the album will be another good one. Of the albums already released you get songs by Khymera, Work Of Art, Steve Lukather and House Of Lords amongst others.

Great way to sample the Frontiers releases plus it is a budget price. ****

Review by Jason Ritchie

SMOOSH Free To Stay

Who would expect two prepubescent sisters to 'rock'? Well Asya and Chloe - 15 and 13 years old respectively are 'old pros' in that sense. Free To Stay is their second album (it's been available Stateside since 2006) and they've toured with the likes of The Eels, Jimmy Eat World, Rilo Kiley, Pearl Jam and Cat Power to name but a few.

Chloe plays drums and Asya plays keyboards and sings. And it's about that simple. There's a wonderful innocent and naivety to the songs and delivery. It's deliberately unpolished which adds to the 'authenticity'. Old beyond their years, their quirky alt-pop should appeal to those who like their pop stripped back and left of centre. ***

Review by Pete Whalley

4FT FINGERS New Beginnings Of Old Stories (Not On Your Radio NOYR0011CD)

US punk band formed in the mid 90s release their new album.

Well, the press release says they're a punk band; they're no more punk than Green Day, more uptempo guitar pop/rock with a guitar led boyband angle, that nods at punk.

Some nice tunes and good lyrics, "Thick As Thieves" and "Where Did All The Legends Go", and some heavy-ish guitar, but much played at similar tone and pace.

Admittedly I found the first couple of tracks a little predictable and monotonous, but things do improve.

If you like Green Day, with heavier guitar, you should like this. ***

Review by Joe Geesin

ILLUMINATUS The Wrath Of The Lambs (Anthill/Pinnacle)

Debut album and fine too, featuring some great modern metal songs. Imagine a Metallica ballad mixed with Pink Floyd and you get opener "Captive State". Touch of ambient metal, well maybe.

The tracks here keep a slower pace but still give a full sound, a full on sonic assault. Vocals mix soft and harsh.

The guitar intro to the title track really stands out, a touch of Sabbath to the riff, slow and solid without being doomy.

The piano intro to "Fear.control" adds an extra dimension, the guitars pick up a higher pace, mixing hard rock and melancholy.

A good mix, a strong debut album. ***

Review by Joe Geesin

RED I CLAN - Killohead

Red i Clan is Sor (vocals, synths, keys and electronic percussion), Raul (guitar) and Alex (drums) and they produce an unusual blend of dance synths melded with rock - think The Prodigy meets Korn.

There's no argument that it's a unique sound, but I'd question whether it's going to appeal to mainstream rock fans. And the rock guitar work may turn off dance fans too. That said, there's melodies aplenty thrown in, but again with the juxtaposition of vocals delivered in a Beastie Boys semi hip hop style.

There's also the proverbial kitchen sink - the title track opening with classical strings before the beat and guitars kick in. But all in all you can't help but think that on the right day, with the windows rolled down and the sun melting the tarmac, this could just be the music for donning the shades and cruisin' the streets.

Gangsta rock. ***

Review by Pete Whalley


Formed in 2004, Birmingham based 4 piece TFTR, deliver scorching heavy rock set aimed at fans of the genre that has spawned Biffy Clyro, Jimmy Eat World, Kerbdog and the like.

Coming form the home of heavy metal, it's perhaps no surprise that this a bludgeoning offering that is like putting your head through a mangle while being wired directly into the mains.

Perhaps a little raw for my conservative tastes, but I can see that of it's type, this a damn fine offering. Lovingly put together, played and produced, if you like your rock vitriolic and to kick seven sorts of shit out of you, then investigate further.

Many bands of the genre will throw in an acoustic track just to show they can mix it when they want to. Not TFTR, they deck you with their first power chord and don't relent until you're lying broken and bleeding as the album fades to a close. ***

Review by Pete Whalley

STAN Lost For Words

Let's face it, you've got to have some bottle to call your band Stan. And Lost For Words is, in fact the third album by Neil Archer (vocals, Hammond, keys, guitars, dobro, ukelele) and Tim Smith (drums, bass, guitars, keys, and vocals) who serve up what they like describe as 'internet café jazz'.

Well, frankly, I am as the album title suggests - lost for words. It's a strange mash of lift music, Donovan/Dylan folk and hip hop served in a style that wouldn't sound out of place coming from a 1970's stereogram. And what I struggle with is where it's aimed - you would dance to it, you couldn't play air guitar to it, and you most certainly wouldn't want to attempt to make love to it.

So maybe it is aimed at internet café audiences. But I'd rather have a cappuccino. For some reason my Windows Media Player seemed to think it was a Scott Walker album, and I rather wish it had been. **

Review by Pete Whalley

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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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