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

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


You cannot beat good, old fashioned, dirty rock n roll and that is exactly what you get with Dust and Bones’ debut album 'Voodoo'. The songs on the album are packed full of catchy choruses, some superb guitar solos and a whole lot of energy.

The band have only been together for about 18 months and in that time have crafted the songs on 'Voodoo' in a way that some bands would have taken years to achieve. The combination of sleazy vocals and guitar driven hard rock has elements of old AC/DC, Ratt and maybe even Tesla and Ozzy Osbourne, yet sounds like none of these bands really.

Highlights on the album include opening track 'She’s On Fire', 'Ready, Willing and Able', 'Dear Diary', 'Whisky Dick' and 'Shot Down'.

'Voodoo' is a great album and leaves you in no doubt that the Dust and Bones are probably very good live. It is also encouraging to see that outside the world of the big corporate record labels more and more albums like this are being made. ****

Review by Nikk Gunns


Optimystical is a new project with Robin Vagh that has released two albums under his own name previously. There are over a dozen musicians involved including two vocalists, Jonas Blum who sings on two songs and Ronnie Hagstedt sings on the rest.

Those who like a bit of pomp keyboards mixed with 80's hard rock will love this album which certainly deserves a healthy set of sales and exposure.

'Startide Rising' is a glorious piece of pomp rock and ends with a wall of background vocals that match bands like Journey. 'Tonite' and 'In Our World' are good AOR songs and for a big overblown ballad look no further than 'Face In The Window'. The guitar soloing in particular is a delight to listen to.

A very enjoyable album which will hopefully get the exposure it deserves. Not many bands can successfully mix pomp, AOR and hard rock but Optimystical can, with impressive results. ****

Review by Jason Ritchie

THE STORYS Town Beyond The Trees (Special Edition) (Angel Air)

Originally released in 2008, Angel Air are about to re-release The Storys' debut album 'Town Beyond The Trees' as a special edition 2-CD set, including a live disc.

The band has a sound that lies somewhere between Mr Big and The Eagles- there are beautiful vocal harmonies and soulful guitar a-plenty. The album itself includes highlights such as opening track 'Long Hard Road', the heartfelt 'You Couldn't Make It Up', 'Feeling Something', 'Heaven Holds You Now' and 'Trouble Deep', with its haunting harmonies.

The live disc features 8 tracks, including 5 that were not on the original album. This disc highlights the band's abilities to recreate their studio sound on the stage. It is a shame that there is not a live version of 'Long Hard Road', but that does not detract from the CD.

Fans of Bon Jovi, Mr Big, Thunder, The Eagles- and of a good song in general, should enjoy this album.  ****

Review by Nikk Gunns

GLASS SPIRES Glass Spires (Nightmare Records)

This Spanish band mix melodic and progressive metal, which in the main works pretty well. The first few songs are a little disjointed, the staccato emphasis and bursts not giving the funk feel they otherwise should. The mix of riffs and solos together works well, and the vocals are clean and powerful. Some good work, yet again these bursts, trying to be more thrash than they really are.

The quieter moments and changes of pace are good, some atmospheric touches add to the prog edges. The meandering piano and crunchy guitars at mid pace is a good touch.

Elsewhere the faster tracks are in the main good, a little noodling, the melodic touch not completely lost.

A little mixed but in the main a good album. Worth a listen. ***½

Review by Joe Geesin


Bit like a Swedish version of Toto in that the respective band members have made their name as session players for other artists including Ian Hunter, Mick Ronson, Graham Parker and Dan Reed to name but a few.

Like Toto as well they use a brass section and their musical style is AOR but with a very heavy pop leaning. Truth be told they can veer a bit too into laid back pop for my liking and a few more guitar solos here and there wouldn't go amiss either.

'Would You', 'Broken Wing Angel' and 'My World' are enjoyable AOR/pop all of which would easily slot into daytime airplay on BBC Radio 2 for example. Musically the band is very good and adding female vocals gives a pleasant mix to the music, they sound like Roxette in places.

If you like the pop side of AOR, Toto circa 'Hydra' and the aforementioned Roxette then this band will be for you. ***

Review by Jason Ritchie


Some good 4 piece metal here that nods towards rhythmic extreme metal, and an unreadable press release with red text over an art background.

The layering is good, and crunchy guitars excellent, the lead vocals in the main good, but when the growling and extreme grunting starts (even as backing to regular vocals) it's a real turn off.

Melodic extreme metal describes this lot best.

'Forever June' is a slower number that could be a slow/acoustic Maiden or Megadeth number with a heavy gothic edge. Elsewhere, the trad metal moments work very well, the riffs standing out.

Melodic and earsplitting in the same breath. Worth a listen. ***

Review by Joe Geesin

ITCHY POOPZKID Dead Serious (One Louder)

German punk / rock band who are energetic, punchy and riff led.

I'll have to admit I am not a fan of this kind of music as there is that guitar pop element (although less than Green Day, thank god), some of the guitar riffs are good and 'Learn To Drown' hints strongly of Flipron. Some quirky touches, tracks that many may find melodic, catchy, enjoyable, but it's not up my street and there's a plague of it about already. ***

Review by Joe Geesin


Houston based three piece who have been going over 20 years. Opening track nods at Hanoi Rocks without the sleaze. There's a slight nasal edge to the vocals, the kind you get with some country music, and in 'I Believe', the vocals are pretty monotonic despite some good guitar work.

'Little Betty' has a dark metal riff and far more raucous vocals. It's a pretty unique sound, largely based around hard rock but there are slight hints of country, rockabilly and other American styles.

The odd moment nods at strong trad metal, like the intro and riff to 'This Life', but in large parts it is somehow interesting and ordinary at the same time. ***

Review by Joe Geesin

FORGOTTEN ROOTS Crosses And Circles

The PR strapline for Forgotten Roots of 'Northern upstarts' just about sums up this 20 minute, 7 track mini album of energetic punk.

The four piece from Blyth formed in 2005 serve up a cacophony of seven explosive and frantically paced pieces of post indie punk rock. Raw. You know the drill by now, shouty vocals, big choruses, big guitars, and everything at 100 miles per hour.

That the band was formed in a skate / car park comes as little surprise. We saw it with punk - everyone was in a band. And that's true even more so now, although there's far greater musical proficiency around. But it takes more than being able to play, and I didn't hear anything unique or stand out on Crosses And Circles. Just another of the seemingly endless stream of hopeful bands treading the NME circuit. **

Review by Pete Whalley


From the outset you instantly know that this album is going to be jangly, noisy, samey. Get Ready To Anything and Everything Except Rock!!!!

Pretty unclassifiable, the sound mixes post hardcore, punk, Emo, alternative rock, art-rock, guitar pop, indie, you get the idea. Not just one excuse to avoid playing a tune, this is every excuse under the sun (maybe except jazz) in the mix.

There's plenty of shouted vocals and chunky and jumpy guitar.

Changes of pace are good, some tracks a little slower, but even then the overriding sound is the same.

When the single 'Nurse Nurse' came on, which I disliked when I reviewed it, I was reminded of just how earache inducing this band are.

Apparently a good live band, energetic, who have released a live set, this debut studio album may be too much for most. I could get no further than half way through and that I found very very hard work.

NME and Artrocker love this band. Nuff said. **

Review by Joe Geesin

BLACKHEART Invisible (Angel Air)

Blackheart consists of Chrissy Mostyn and Richard Pilkington, who between them have created an album of mostly acoustic, modern sounding folk music. The band have already caught the attention of Radio 2’s Aled Jones and have spent most of this year touring.

From the jangly, female fronted pop of 'Wednesday Afternoon', to the sparse 'Thank God You Found Me', the lively string-led 'Farewell', through to the haunting title track 'Invisible', the whole album is an easy to listen to affair. 'Lochelly Lives' is reminiscent of The Corrs, whilst 'Names In The Rain' is sung by guitarist Pilkington and therefore nicely changes the flow of the album. **

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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