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Quick Play: A round-up of February 2010 album releases

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

FIGHT LIKE APES Fight Like Apes & The Mystery Of The Golden Medallion (Model Citizen Records)

Brash, obnoxious and energetic and fun...probably the best words I would use to describe Irish quartet, Fight Like Apes. Fight Like Apes don't worry about fitting any genres or stereotypes, they take the rule book, soak it in petrol, set fire to it and then throw it through the window before opening it!

Opening track 'Something Global' sets out the stall straight away, a huge sound full of anger. Upbeat and bassy it's a good start.

'Jake Summers' sounds like your average 'American Pie' style teen movie soundtrack, that is before the chorus kicks in and you realise poor old Jake takes one hell of a beating.

'Tie Me Up With Jackets' sings of lovely noise. That's a pretty good way to describe this lot.

'Digifucker' and 'Lend Me Your Face' give lead singer MayKay a perfect opportunity to scream her heart out about dismantling people, but in a fun way of course.

'I'm Beginning To Think You Prefer 90210 To Me' is another gloriously named catchy energy filled song, with great lines...I haven't heard the term 'suplex backbreaker' since I was a kid watching Hulk Hogan.

If you like your music catchy, fun filled and packed full of attitude, then you should make a point of checking out these bunch of misfits and their own unique brand of amplified angst! ****

Review by Darren Coomber

SLOMBER Dirty Drinks & One-Night Stands (Naked Hollywood Records)

Mixing the energy of early Guns N Roses, the rawness and power of Motorhead and The Stooges with a healthy slice of Scandinavian sleaze rock attitude, Norwegian band Slomber are about to release debut album 'Dirty Drinks & One Night Stands'.

This album could have been released any time from the late '70's onward as the band's sound has managed to capture an almost timeless feel, with guitars that slice through the current crop of alternative rock bands and even the odd drum solo. The tight rhythm section and use of 2 guitarists gives the band a big sound, which vocalist Billy McBarbie takes full advantage of.

The problem that some of the more recent sleaze rock bands have had is that some of the songs have an almost cringe factor to them, this is not the case with 'Dirty Drinks & One-Night Stands' - the songs are consistently well written and deliver punch after punch.

Highlights amongst the 10 tracks on the album include 'XXX.Cum', 'Highway Of Love & Hate' with it's undertones of Hanoi Rocks, 'Livin' In The Gutter', 'No Ones' Fool'- which has an almost Dogs D'Amour meets The Almighty feel to it, and the raucous 'Slut The F**K Up'.

If you like hard edged, sleazy Rock N Roll then 'Dirty Drinks & One-Night Stands' is an album that you should definitely investigate further.  ****

Review by Nikk Gunns

FALLING RED Shake The Faith

Debut album from this four piece and it is instantaneous in-your-face rock 'n' roll metal.

The opening track is high paced 70s punk meets 80s Sunset Strip. As sleazy as Motley Crue and Guns'n'Roses but a whole lot more ferroceous. In fact G'n'R sound more like Buns'n'Toasties compared to this.

There's a touch of mid 80s Iron Maiden in the second track, and a nod to AC/DC later on.

Yes the main influence is sleazy hair metal but there's more than enough raw energy and a nod to trad metal to make it more powerful, heavier and infinitely more enjoyable.

Really one to look out for. ****

Review by Joe Geesin


A six song CD from a US based modern pop rocker and there are three superb songs on here.

'The Other Side' is bright, breezy pop rock with a massive chorus (shades of the much missed Square One), whilst 'I Still Believe' and 'Invisible' contain plenty of big harmony vocals. You can see why the latter has been selected for radio airplay as it is a perfect ballad for daytime radio.

Only 'Slip Away' sounds out of place as it lacks any killer chorus. Luckily the acoustic led 'Time Won't Stand Still' ends the album off in style.

For lovers of quality modern day pop rock this mini-album will be right up your street. ****

Review by Jason Ritchie

DEAD HEROES CLUB A Time Of Shadows (Prog Rock Records)

Modern prog rock with classic prog influences and, if the lengthy opening track is anything to go by, an acoustic feel.

The guitars mix electric and acoustic, but the main rhythm is acoustic, with the strongest nod going to early Marillion. While there’s touches of Genesis, King Crimson, Tull, Yes & Floyd, the melodies and rhythms nod most to Marillion. Even the vocals mix Gabriel and Fish.

The opening two tracks 'Theatre Of The Absurd' and 'Stranger In The Looking Glass' both run just short of 10 minutes apiece, and the heavier electric moments feature some strong moody keyboards alongside the guitar.

'The Centre Cannot Hold' (one of only 2 tracks running under 5 minutes) is more of a rocker, it could be Hawkwind at their heavier end.

A good feel, nice vibe, modern prog fans should enjoy the retro feel.  ***½

Review by Joe Geesin


A seven track self-produced album that reminded me a lot of Tyketto, as DeNile has a touch of Danny Vaughn in his vocals especially on a ballad like 'Indigo' (this also brought to mind Bon Jovi in their heyday).

The title track is good slab of catchy hard rock and 'My Life' has a chorus that nags away at you until you succomb to its charms! The sound is very good for a self-produced and financed effort. Certainly a name to keep an eye out for in the future. ***½

Review by Jason Ritchie

MOONSHOT No Sign Of Morning (EML Recordings)

Electronic duo Moonshot release a soberingly gritty slice of trip-hop. In a poorly lit sub-terranean carpark, a loner is slowly going out of his mind...'No Sign Of Morning' would undoubtedly be the soundtrack.

The first couple of tracks, 'No Sign Of Morning' & 'Gifted' are perhaps the most obviously trip-hop based efforts, conjuring images of the grand-daddies of this genre, Massive Attack.

'Black Box' & 'Purple Lipstick Mark' are very different animals. Pet Shop Boy style vocals, echo over dark beats and sinister keys. The 2009 single 'Who Turned The Lights Out?' is the stand out track on the album and doffs its cap to 'The Wall' era Floyd. Eerie industrial Britain viewed from afar.

Elsewhere on the album 'Midnight In Dover' has a more 80's based feel whilst 'Point Of Focus' is a altogether gloomy affair. 'The Restraint Of Mary Anne Nichols' is written from the vantage point of one of Jack the Rippers victims. You've probably already guessed this isn't the most upbeat number you'll ever hear.

'This Is England' is a modern day story of life in England, ragaling us with tales of queues, weather based small talk and tea! This album is dark, melancholy and at times thought provoking.***

Review by Darren Coomber

CHINAWHITE Challenges (Rock Company)

Norwegian band Chinawhite have been together since 1989 and are about to release new album 'Challenges'. Part melodic rock, part progressive and even combining symphonic elements to some of the tracks, this album is not bad- although slightly lacking in originality. This may stem from the fact that the band's live set includes a number of covers, or it may just be that Chinawhite want to pay homage to their influences (Rush, Kansas, Journey etc) - either way, the songs are catchy and the band works well together.

The band make good use of Hammond B3 sound, this gives a good '70's rock feel - the best example of this being 'Better Than You'. There are also a number of tracks that come in at over 7 and a half minutes long- the best of these being 'My Venus Rising'. Other highlights include 'Stranger', 'I Am I' and 'Dive With A Dolphin'.

If you like any of the bands mentioned above, then 'Challenges' should appeal to you. It would be interesting to see the band play live as these songs will no doubt hold their own against the more well known numbers in the band's repertoire. ***

Review by Nikk Gunns


This is her third album and on her previous two albums she has worked with musicians including Tim Pierce, Jeff Pilson and James Kottak.

This new album is a mixed bag ranging from some good solid rockers like the title track and 'New Addiction' (like Pat Benatar at her rockiest) through to some real clunkers such as the awful modern rock on 'Power It Through'.

In fact the final half of the album is very poor compared to the first five songs and maybe an EP would have been better. Robin Brock has a good, strong vocal style and she could quite easily front a metal band such is her vocal range and power. It's just a shame that some of the songs aren't as good as her vocals. ***

Review by Jason Ritchie


With a name like Titan you maybe expecting a power metal band but not this band, who are a very young (average age eighteen) melodic rock/AOR band.

Of the six songs on offer here nothing is earth shattering apart from the keyboard drenched 'Steps' which would put many an established band to shame.

Vocalist Gustav Larsson has a soothing yet high vocal range with 'Top Of Your World' the other pick of the songs on here. The band certainly show promise and definitely have youth on their side making them a name to watch out for. ***

Review by Jason Ritchie

MARTY FRIEDMAN Tokyo Jukebox (Mascot Records)

The long time Megadeth guitarist now resides in Japan, hosts TV shows, gives guitar tuition, and also releases this new solo album.

With guest drummers, programming and the odd keyboardist / bassist, it's fairly typical of a solo album released on Mascot: instrumental, lots of solos, and the odd nod to fusion playing.

The music mixes thrash guitar with avant garde and fusion, it's very noodly in places. Outside the solos, the guitar also mixes noise and riffs, and at times the melody is rather good. Some trad metal comes in at times, and “Story” is quite melodic and mainstream. Elsewhere it does get a bit noisy.

A solo album in the true sense, meaning that Marty tries to do too much himself. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't, and occasionally comes over as disjointed. When he shines he's clearly very talented, but sadly it isn't smooth flowing all the way through.

One, then, for guitar heads and ‘Deth fans. ***

Review by Joe Geesin

MARTI Better Mistakes: An 11 song Cinematic Affair

From the brief dramatic horn led intro onwards, Italian band Marti’s ‘Better Mistakes’ is an album crammed full of cool intent, style and drama. And with a handful of angst ridden love songs, expansive cinemascope arrangements and plenty of passion, there’s almost enough here for their style to be considered ‘tongue in cheek’ art rock or perhaps more accurately lounge music.

But unlike say the camp torch songs of Marc Almond, all the dramatic moments are delivered dead pan. Moreover, main man Andrea Bruschi doesn’t have the vocal range to make the most of a handful of decent songs such as ‘The Girl That Turns Off Street Lamps’.

On the romantic ballad ‘The Price We Pay’ he sets out to emulate the likes of Tony Hadley but fails, while on the eye wateringly titled ‘In Flagrante Delicto’ he struggles with his phrasing. Apparently the album is subtitled ‘An 11 Song Cinematic Affair’ with the mission statement ‘to make each song evolve and develop like a short movie’.

And it’s true to say that a mix of orchestral arrangements, poignant strings and eloquent piano lines offer suitable building blocks for a well intentioned project. But too often Andrea’s vocals stand on the precipice of a kitsch ‘Frankie Goes to Hollywood’ style outing, while on ‘The Return of the Dishwasher’ it’s the trite lyrics that let the song down.

The avowed aim of the album is a clever one, but a melange of late night moods and jazzy arguments require a front man with a clear understanding of his short comings.

Bowie isn’t a great singer but he knows how to phrase while Ferry similarly masks his thin vocal style with an ability to croon and emote.

Things get better on ‘10 Long Years’ when only a slightly forced vocal stops Andrea from reaching his goal while the late night cool of ‘Havana Bride’ is a notable minor triumph.

But then the title track’s opening narrative rap doesn’t quite cut it and the funky guitar and stabbed piano notes are the stuff of a long forgotten 70’s film soundtrack.

Given the popularity of ‘Euro Pop’ perhaps Marti might strike a chord on mainland Europe. But given that things only really come together on the piano led groove and mariachi trumpets of ‘No Stains’ and that even the estimable ’It Doesn’t Make Me Happy’ is a triumph of drama over substance, then perhaps this CD is best recommended for cool kitsch fans only. ***

Review by Pete Feenstra

GLENN MELING Sometimes A Bigger Heart

Originally from Norway, but a free spirit who's spend a lifetime forming and breaking up bands and circumnavigating the musical globe - in places as far apart as Oslo and Melbourne, Australia, Glenn has finally found his way to London his debut album Sometimes A Bigger Heart was recorded across 2008/09.

While the US of A hasn't featured in his musical base camps, in many ways this singer songwriter is steeped in the country / folk crossover genre that has a wider [radio] audience across the pond.

But Glenn does at least throw vary the pace, adding Celtic and World influences to the run out of the opening cut - When The First Rain Falls, and trumpet and trombone to the pedal steel on the title track.

But much of the rest of the set has a distinctly sub U2 feel, and while many of the song structures wouldn't be out of place on a U2 setlist, nobody does Bono better than Bono.

Which is a shame, because Sometimes A Bigger Heart is a strong debut. But whether it's unique enough to break Glenn Milling beyond the realms of myspace wannabees, only time will tell. ***

Review by Pete Whalley

DJEVARA The Rising Tide (Part 1): Corsa Al Ribasso
(Genin Records/Shellshock)

From the opening few bars of Djevara's third album, it's clear these guys are angry.

Major players in London's underground scene, Djevara front man Bass ,sings with the kind of gritty honesty you only get when you are trying to please yourself and not your label.

Opening track 'Jesus vs Mohammed (Ali)'is very reminiscent of the early 80's New York hardcore scene. 'Lines in The Sand' continues this trend.  Agnostic Front and Bad Brains spring to mind, but then those aren't bad people to be compared to.

'Once More With Feeling' is a different prospect altogether. An acoustic folky sound with raw production, it reminded me a little bit of the way Biohazard & Sepultura used to throw in the odd piano arrangement or tribal song. Elsewhere 'Corsa Al Ribasso/Homeless' (race to the bottom) & 'Rising Tide of the Disconnected' are songs of downtrodden despair.

Vocally there's no denying the obvious similarities in style, between Bass and Rage Against The Machine's Zack De La Rocha , but I would add the subject matter and powerful delivery is up there with the angst of Skin from Skunk Anansie. If you like your music hard edged, unpolished and punchy with a no frills rock attitude, you could do a lot worse. ***

Review by Darren Coomber

ECHOES Nature I Existence (Prog Rock Records)

More prog metal, mixed with what the press release calls Math Metal. I'll pass on the latter because I have no idea what it means. Here is chunky metal with prog touches. There's some industrial in there too.

Some of the guitar work verges on classical, quite deafening when played in a prog power industrial metal band. Mix Helloween with Rush or Deep Purple and crank it up to 11.

Elsewhere the acoustic segments make a welcome break, time to catch your breath, but even there the guitar can get a bit noodly. Some of the time changes and bass lines nod to 90s King Crimson too.

As heavy a prog album as I've heard. Interesting.  ***

Review by Joe Geesin

MASQUERAGE Moonlight Time

Modern trad metal band, solid, with influences of the likes of Iron Maiden, Helloween and Pretty Maids.

The production, backing and layered lead vocals verge on operatic, but the main vocals, like the guitars, really nod at trad power metal. The keyboards help an extra dimension too.

Opening track 'We Will Never Learn' features some great guitar work, and the guitar / keyboard interplay on the title track is reminiscent of the mid 90s Rainbow album. Elsewhere there’s a mid 80s Saxon touch. Is that Raven in there too I hear?

A good mix of new and old. Even with the plush production, trad metal is alive and well. ***

Review by Joe Geesin

MICHAEL GILL Blues For Lazarus (ProgRock Records)

Michael Gill is an American pianist/composer and on this album he has half of the album given over to his musical takes on classic SF books like 'Dune'.

It is very well played but veers into free form jazz too much for my personal tastes and the vocals aren't that great on some songs. But 'Merlin's Journey' features some very interesting musical passages and the cover of Peter Gabriel's 'Here Comes The Flood' is definitely worth hearing.

If you like jazz tinged progressive music then do check this out further.  **½

Review by Jason Ritchie

KAH More Than Dawn

Another addition to the growing 'quirky' female singer bandwagon.

The album opener Wanting To Be Haunted has a RazorBladeKisses feel to it - 'little girl' vocals over eerie keyboards and assorted electronica. But London based Kah has more in common with Imogen Heap - building every song layer by layer using a simple combination of Macbook, mic, keyboard, Logic Pro and Absynth.

And with artists like Little Boots and La Rou striking a chord with the record buying public, and Imogen Heap having gone off the boil with her latest offering, it could be that there's a window of opportunity for Kah.

Probably the pick of the bunch is the driving Fugitive - an excellent number that was her first release back in 2008. Unfortunately it does stand out in terms of commercial potential. But you're a fan of the female vocal DIY electronica genre then More Than Dawn is well worth exploring . **½

Review by Pete Whalley


The debut release from US songwriter Matthew Glenn Thompson has 'Made in The USA' stamped through it as distinctly as a bar of Blackpool rock.

Featuring Matthew on vocals, piano and guitar, and supported by Michael Jerome Moore on Drums and Paul Jenkins on bass, The Garden And The Arcade is a 9 track album packed with radio friendly melodies.

It's a strong singer songwriter debut, and it will be interesting to see with a full scale media UK assault media assault planned for 2010 hits pay dirt. Certainly The Garden And The Arcade is a pleasant 'drive time' listen, and the songs should stand up well to Matthews occasional acoustic interpretations.

It may too 'clean cut' for UK mass audiences, but if Jack Johnson and Jason Mraz can crack it here, who knows? **½

Review by Pete Whalley


This debut album has to come with the most uninformative press release ever. No track listing, no title, no label, no contact details. In fact, this full page of A4 seems to compare the band’s sound to the unique musical brew of beer and little more.

If you’re reading this guys, a press release like that would get Mozart slated, so you’re on a hiding to nothing before we’ve even started. Do we need to know that the singer was equally influenced by Simon & Garfunkel and RATM? I’m running for cover already.

The music isn’t quite so bad, progressive metal with nu-metal and alternative touches, and hints of Rush too. Of all the different influences, it’s the Rush that is the saving grace.

Some glimpses of melody, but in places it is disjointed. Not all the time / pace changes work as well they might.

There is hope and scope, but far from as enjoyable as it could have been.  **

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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