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

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

MIDNITE CLUB Circus Of Life (Artist Service)

This 11-track album from Germany's Midnite Club is a close second to Def Leppard's 'Songs From The Sparkle Lounge' for my favourite album of 2008. There is not a weak track on this album, one that encompasses the best elements of 80's Bon Jovi and Whitesnake and could also qualify as a melodic/classic rock masterpiece.

There are harmonies, hooks and guitar solos a plenty and highlights include 'Promises Remain', 'Behind My Eyes', 'Closer To The Distance', the ballad that is 'Crying In A Dream' and a brilliant cover of Kenny Loggins' Top Gun anthem 'Danger Zone'.

Take my word for it - awesome!! *****

Review by Nikk Gunns

BEN GLOVER & THE EARLS The Week The Clocks Changed (Mr Jones Productions)

Some great melodies here, and music that's hard to categorise. Uptempo singer/songwriter country pop maybe?

Acoustic guitar and organ mix well, there is an influence of Tom Waits and Bob Dylan, with producer JD Foster bringing in several guests from Nashville, including John Deaderick (Dixie Chicks), Al Perkins (Rolling Stones, CSN&Y) and Mickey Raphael (Willie Nelson). Harmonica and pedal-steel guitar mix in with the strumming well.

Glover has a good range in his voice, from quiet and husky to power pop.

The overall sound is very MOR; it's hardly rock'n'roll but there are some great melodies. If Radio 2 ran their own daytime chart it would top that. ***

Review by Joe Geesin

AWESOME COLOR Electric Aboriginies (Ecstatic Peace)

Since last year's eponymous debut album, Michigan's finest young power trio Awesome Color have been touring relentlessly. But they've nevertheless found time in their busy schedule to make it into the studio to record 10 tracks that together represent that ‘difficult second album'.

And those 10 tracks pick up pretty much where their debut left off - that is, late sixties / early seventies three piece blues based rock. And if you were around in those days it pretty much how you remember it - a power trio doing what comes naturally, not overly produced and letting the music take you where it wants.

So you get the general proposition - rifferamma, screaming lead lines, a tight rhythm section and plenty of improvisation. It's unpolished in that extended workout ‘support act‘ type of way, but with a few more up to date reference points thrown in. Here and there you can hear hints of the likes of Oasis, Rush and Neil Young. But predominantly this is raw, unpolished rock from the Sonic Youth school of rock.

They say what goes around comes around, but what today's youth will make of it this time around, who knows. ***

Review by Pete Whalley

PRIVATE LINE Broken Promised Line (Bad Habits Records)

Finnish band Private Line release their new single, 'Promised Broken Land', a 2 track CD that has that unmistakeable Scandinavian sound and at times the music itself reminds me a bit of Hanoi Rocks- although the vocals are more in the style of HIM or Hardcore Superstar. Both the title track and 'Uniform' are catchy and guitar heavy.

Fans of Scandinavian rock should check the band out. ***

Review by Nikk Gunns


Just what we need - a band of pre-pubescent teenagers. Believe it or not, Lo-Fi Culture Scene are aged 13/14 and formed 18 months ago, having known each other since they were two years old.

Expecting the worst? I was. But to be honest, while policemen are getting younger, so are bands capable of putting together a decent tune. Influenced by Bloc Party, The Strokes and Radiohead the band are way ahead of their years laying down catchy indie riffs and addictive choruses. Scarily accomplished. ***

Review by Pete Whalley

SENNEN Where The Light Gets In (Ecstatic Peace)

Sennen are a four-piece guitar / harmonies band from Norfolk having met at the University of East Anglia.

With a shared love Sonic Youth and Teenage Fanclub, they have been compared to Mogwai fronted by Simon & Garfunkel. The vocal harmony reference is easy to spot and the album is a curious mixture of qentle, almost folk based numbers interspersed with more experimental post-rock pop (or in the case of the 1:03 minute Sennen Enjoy Rock, little more than feedback).

The two faces of the band make for unusual bedfellows, but combine well on the 7 minute opus A Lifetime Passed which builds to a crescendo from quiet beginnings like some of the more recent output from Sigur Ross.

Listening to the album it's easy to see how the band have built up a faithful following on the college circuit. But whether they've got what it takes to make it to the big league, I have my doubts. Mind you, some would question whether there is a big league any more. And d'you know what, they may be right. ***

Review by Pete Whalley

POLUTION Overheated' (Escape Music)

'Overheated' is an album chock-full of energetic, melodic rock and full of guitar riffs that will remind you of Metallica, AC/DC and Airbourne. This Swiss band will not disappoint you if you like a bit of heavy melodic rock, highlights amongst the 13-tracks on this CD include 'Reality', 'Hard Work', Overheated' and 'Five Years'. ***

Review by Nikk Gunns

DISARM By Any Means Necessary (imprint Records)

Punk rock for today with touches of The Clash and The Backyard Babies, there are 12 tracks on 'By Any Means Necessary', the highlights being ' Girl When Did You (Become Such A Car Crash)?', 'Faster, Faster….Kill', 'She's My Disease', 'This Is Not A Pop Song' and 'Too Much Is Never Enough'.

Get a few beers in, pump up the speakers and let go- superb!! ***

Review by Nikk Gunns


Essentially the work of one girl (Izzie Voodoo) in a studio with a mic, guitars and synths, The Push is a piece of dark electronica.

Described as a female Marc Bolan, Izzie brings a melodramatic element to her live performances dressed in theatrical garb and handing out black lollipops.

There's no denying that the production is first class, but as for the content, well it does little for me (sorry). Driving synth beats and fairly monotone vocals don't do a lot for me. Call me an ‘old fart' if you will, and I will graciously acknowledge the compliment. Maybe young people searching for the meaning of life might find this enthralling. But not me. **

Review by Pete Whalley

THE FOREST Alone In Music (We Hate You Records)

Free download album (see the two myspace sites) and the third album from this outfit centred around Jonah Stevenson.

Loud, and basic in terms of both musicianship and recording quality (it has 'bedroom' stamped all over it). Sounds pretty much guitar and drum machine and vocals, by a rocking singer songwriter, recorded in a hurry.

"Uncredited Serial Killer Blues" is a poor opener. "I'm Not Van Gogh" features some lyrics as silly as the title but does have some neat (if cheap sounding) guitar overdubs.

Nine tracks that stretch to just under 25 minutes, and I couldn't manage it all.

The guy's worked hard as a one man band, but it does sound cheap and nasty in places. The lyrics could be Edinburgh fringe poetry.

Listen for yourself, judge for yourself, but I personally wasn't particularly impressed. *

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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