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Quick Play: A round-up of August 2009 album releases

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

VARIOUS Sometimes - A Great Notion (Misplaced / Voiceprint)

A sound collection of rarities this and, although it's not immediately clear, it appears that this release is in aid of the British Deaf Association.

This falls between a charity record, a good rock compilation and some genuine rarities that haven't appeared on the artists own records. Some classics that appear in demo or alternate form but still good enough to enjoy listening to.

Opening with Big Country's 'All Fall Together and Howard Jones' 'Like To Get To Know You', there are also tracks by Elvis Costello, Eddy Grant, Nick Heyward, Robert Fripp and Rupert Hine. But the highlights are Pete Townsend, Peter Gabriel and 'Sultans Of Swing' by Dire Straits. A lot more kudos than your average compilation. ****

Review by Joe Geesin

FULL BLOWN MOSEY Temporal Cadence

A kind of classic metal here, uptempo and modern. The band were brought up on the likes of Led Zeppelin, Bad Company and Nightranger, with newer influences like Megadeth and Pearl Jam coming through too. It’s pretty heavy, but some of the riffs are reminiscent of Iron Maiden, and some decent work on the vocal harmonies .

The acoustic track sounds like Motley Crue’s 'God Bless The Children', while 'Time The Master' adds a strong element of Rush.

'Nite Drive' is a folk rock meets FM / AOR Ballad.

Overall classic rock with a hard fuzzy undertone and commercial edge. Very listenable. ***½

Review by Joe Geesin


Hard rock meets power metal with a strong sleaze and rock'n'roll edge. Touches of AC/DC and Hanoi Rocks. And what makes the sound original and different is the use of keyboards. The organ occasionally strays into Deep Purple territory. Imagine Nasty Suicide trading solos with Jon Lord.

The first break from the sound is 'Picture Of You', which is more acoustic, sounds like a power ballad done by a prog metal band. Lightly orchestrated, and here the vocals fit well. Elsewhere, the vocals seem to struggle with the metal and come over as slightly shouted.

Contrast that with 'Con-form-itty', a bluesy rock'n'roll metal blast. A lot of fun and very very enjoyable. 'Edge Of Time' has a slight Maiden edge too.

Definitely worth checking out. ***½

Review by Joe Geesin


Following up the leading single True Love Will Find You In the End - a mournful affair that reminds of a stripped back David Gray, but at 2 minutes 35 seconds pretty much over before you get into the mood, The Animal is 26 year old multi instrumentalist Richard Walters' debut album.

Written over a three year period of ecstatic highs and mind numbing lows, and produced by David Kosten (Bat For Lashes), Walters has been performing solo for over a decade, but was only moved to record this record after falling in love with an American girl and moving with her to Paris.

Sung throughout in a plaintive falsetto with a melancholy delivery, the album resolutely refuses to rock out, with Richard playing all the instrumentation - except strings - himself, including piano, guitar, bass and keyboards.

In terms of songwriting, The Animal falls somewhere between David Gray and Ray La Montagne, and will be a godsend for lonely bed sits up and down the land. That is, if you want to drown in your own sorrows or those of others.

Delicate and beautifully constructed, a soundtrack for quiet despair. ***

Review by Pete Whalley

PROFUNA OCEAN Watching The Closing Sky

Debut release from this band, and although there are only 4 tracks, it runs at the best part of 40 minutes.

The music is British melodic prog, strong hints of Marillion, but with touches of RPWL and Rush.

There are time changes Steve Harris would be proud of, and second track 'Lost Inside The Landscape' starts off quite rhythmically. Later in the same track the keyboards add an orchestrated dimension, while the riffs are stronger than your average prog rock band.

The final track, at nearly 15 minutes, features some good guitar work, some neat solos, but at no stage does it really let rip, and it does seem to go on a little too long.

As modern prog goes, it’s good but not quite excellent. Worth a listen though. ***

Review by Joe Geesin

I LOVE YOU BETH COOPER Original Soundtrack (Universal)

The soundtrack to what sounds like it could be one of the best college-based comedy film releases of the year, 'I Love You Beth Cooper', is about to be released in the UK.

Mixing rock legends such as Alice Cooper ('School’s Out'), KISS ('Beth'- obviously) and Foreigner ('Feels Like The First Time') with established newer bands like Airbourne ('Too Much, Too Young, Too Fast') and The Hives ('Try It Again').

This, alongside score tracks and the jangly acoustic pop of Violet Columbia Artists and The Kooks (and Smokey Robinson’s 'Cruisin’' for good measure), certainly keeps the album upbeat. There are also tracks by the likes of Gym Class Heroes and OK Go to give the CD a current vibe.

Soundtrack albums rarely set the world on fire, but this one has a good enough mix of music to keep my car stereo busy for a while. ***

Review by Nikk Gunns

CHASE THIS CITY Show Us What You Got

This debut mini album will, apparently, appeal to fans of My Chemical Romance and Fightstar. Not sure about that but if you like fresh young indie guitar pop with punk and rock touches, you'll like this.

It's upbeat, and they do attempt some vocal harmonies. The chunky guitar fills the airways, rather like uptempo electric guitar strumming mixed with guitar chops, typically it's light on riffs and solos. When solos are attempted they're OK, but if they want to rock out they should differentiate between rocking out and just making a racket.

A couple of slower moments are slightly grungy, some of the louder moments are a little jangly.

Like so many others, the trend for heavy/punky/indie guitar pop is becoming a plague. ***

Review by Joe Geesin

SCATHE Unsanctioned

New album of fresh sounds from this very heavy metal band. Branded as melodic heavy metal, it's a little heavier than that.

With a rough hard edge, it nods strongly at 80s Metallica / early 90s Megadeth, at the melodic end. Take out the speed metal and beef up a bit and you're there.

'Bitter Pill' is rhythmic and riff heavy, almost stoner Judas Priest. The power continues with chunky circular riffs in brutal fashion.

As metal goes, it's good, heavy, well structured, headbangers will love. I personally found it a little samey after a few tracks, but if you like it very heavy without going thrash you'll like this. ***

Review by Joe Geesin


Hailing from the Cheshire town of Northwich, Helsinki Seven are being touted as one of the UK's most promising new UK rocks bands. There are but three of them though - Joe Perry (guitar /vocals), Adam Beven (bass / vocals) and Nick Cowling (drums).

Perhaps predictably, they're yet another band hot off the production line that churns out NME style pop rock bands - every song played at 100 miles an hour, shouty vocals and big hooks. Subtlety is not a subtext.

I've nothing against Helsinki Seven - they're perfectly competent and good at what they do. And perhaps they do have a marginally harder hitting edge than some of their contemporaries.

But one song sounds like much like the next to me. And one band of the genre sounds much like the next. Surely every town up and down the country has at least one band like this?

Maybe I'm simply getting too old, but isn't this just like revisiting the punk era, except the kids can actually play their instruments these days? Sorry, but it's just not for me. Now, where's my pipe and slippers and some classic rock? **½

Review by Pete Whalley

ANDI STARR New Warm World

The 5th album from the classically trained and California based singer songwriter.

Playing virtually everything - keyboards, organ, acoustic guitar, electric guitar , mandolin and percussion, the hint is in the title - 'new world', or perhaps new age. New Warm World is a gentle ambient collection with ethereal dreamy vocals floating over predominantly acoustic or piano based pieces.

It meanders like a babbling spring brook and would sit relatively comfortably next to Dido (although by comparison, Dido is distinctly up-tempo and hook laden). There is, of course a current market for more laid back artists such as Lisa Hannigan, although her again New Warm World is a far more ambient affair.

If you're simply looking for a sparse, low key album to 'chill out' to while downing that second bottle of red, New Warm World may just be the job. But for many it will simply be too down beat. **½

Review by Pete Whalley


30 minute mini album from this progressive lot which gets off to a good building start, before the fast metal guitars come in with some very fast fret board work.

Elsewhere there are some mainstream influences; imagine if Blur or Pulp went the prog rock route? It’s bright and breezy, and 'Unattainable' is a tad jangly.

This doesn’t grip any one genre enough to really please anyone, and as a genre mix it just passes by. **½

Review by Joe Geesin

PRODUCT RECALL Liquor On The Front, Poker Round The Back (Romulus X Records)

Hailed as the 'Second Coming Of Grunge', this British band have settled with a steady line-up after a few comings and goings. And from the outset on this debut there's a rough hint of Dan McCafferty / Brian Johnson to the vocals and a sleazy edge.

Opening track 'Not Your Song' is a decent if rough rock'n'roll, a good start, but 'Brain Machine' is strongly in Grunge territory, the nemesis of decent rock music. Think Nirvana run through a cheese grater and drowning in rough Portuguese whiskey while gargling gravel.

From then on the grunge influence is toned down (thank god); the mix is hard rock, grunge, indie guitar pop and rock'n'roll. It does have its moments, but they still sound at the heavy / rough end of a school band. **½

Review by Joe Geesin

LILLIAN AXE Sad Day On Planet Earth Blistering Records

Lillian Axe return with a new label and their second studio album with vocalist Derrick Lefevre who sounds uncannily like original vocalist Ron Taylor. Only Stevie Blaze remains from the band's 80's heyday.

Now I liked 'Water's Rising' their last album and have liked all their albums bar the patchy debut but this one I am sad to report is a dog.

The songs, with a few exceptions, outstay their welcome and just sound tired even after just one spin. 'Hibernate' and 'Down Below The Ocean' are worthy of the Lillian Axe name but otherwise this is one of biggest let downs by a band I have loved for many years... Nothing more to say really, very disappointed. **½

Review by Jason Ritchie


The worst thing about this release is the though that there must be a Stimulator 1 out there!

And why it's been sent to a rock site to review is beyond me. The only stimulator I'm interested in is the sort that comes in a plain brown wrapper from Ann Summers.

As far as I can tell Stimulator is 3 piece - bimbo vocalist Susan Hyatt, drummer Chad Stewart and bassist Sean Tichenor. Have these guys no shame? They're supported by a phalanx of bit part players.

I can only hope that Stimulator 1 had more credibility, considering the band supported the likes of Duran Duran, The Go Go's and Berlin. But here the content is sub early Madonna Holiday era disco pop with, frankly, banal lyrics - 'we're in love, cos we're on holiday'.

Sure the lead singer Susan Hyatt has a reasonable voice, but as a concept it falls way short of Jewel's poor attempt at pop (0304). The press blurb suggests that Stimulator 2 is 'the sound of the summer'. Have you looked out of the window lately? Mostly it's pissing down and I'd rather be stood naked in a thunderstorm than be subjected to this. **

Review by Pete Whalley

SENTRY Out Of Reach

Indiana brother and sister combo Ruthie Palmer (vocals) and Jesse Toombs (guitar, keys, drum programming and backing vocals release their 'groundbreaking' debut album Out Of Reach.

Err, no. There's nothing groundbreaking about it at all. For a kick off, they're desperately short of a backing band (how hard can it be to find a drummer and bassist?), secondly, the songwriting is highly derivative of the likes of Roxette, and thirdly, I'm not convinced Ruthie and Jesse are two halves of the same whole.

Jesse is clearly into classic AOR like Boston and Van Halen. So there's some nice guitar licks. Unfortunately, unlike Tom Scholz, someone's told him to 'tone it down' so that any 'rocking out' is way down in the mix.

By contrast Ruthie's vocals are way out front, but she's not a chick who likes to rock out - she]s a decent set of pipes, but sounds like she would be far more comfortable singing Country or covering Carpenter's songs.

It simply doesn't work. There's nothing to dislike, but there's no bite, no balls and it all sounds a bit DIY. Sure, there's potential, but at present Sentry fall short of the mark. **

Review by Pete Whalley

MJ HIBBETT & THE VALIDATORS'Regardez, Ecoutez Et Repetez (AAS)

Some of the problems with the 'witty look at life' type of song include: 1- they are often better as a novelty single than and album, 2- the song titles are inevitably better than the actual songs and 3- it is unlikely that, as a listener, you will manage to last the whole album.

Leicester based band MJ Hibbett & The Validators are about to release new album 'Regardez, Ecoutez Et Repetez', their fifth since forming in 1999.

Unfortunately, despite being popular with the BBC’s Steve Lamacq, the band have fallen foul of the above problems. 'Do The Indie Kid' works as a great novelty record as it accurately takes the p*ss out of the dancing style of said 'indie kid' and 'Do More, Eat Less' is the anti-anthem of the 'Jeremy Kyle' generation. After that you are down to titles such as 'My Boss Was In An Indie Band Once' and 'We’re Old and We’re Tired (and we want to go home)', and the album begins to resemble 'JCB Song' the novelty single by Nizlopi.

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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