Click here for home page

Click here

Contact Us | Customer Information | Privacy Policy | Audio Help

Main Menu
Submit a review
Album Reviews
Quick Plays
Single Reviews
DVD Reviews
Sign up for newsletter
Gig reviews
Get Your EMail Address
Submit your website

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

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

V0id Zer0 (Raven Black Music)

Another fine quality release from Raven Black Music, V0id are about to release second album 'Zer0'. The album was produced by Tim Hamill, who has previously worked with the likes of Lemmy, Girlschool and the late great Ronnie James Dio - and he has done a good job of switching between the bands softer side and their all out rock sound. Singer and band songwriter Wayne Doyle’s vocals remind me of Buckcherry’s Josh Todd on some of those heavier songs.

Highlights include opening track ''All Coz of You', 'Time Will Tell', title track 'Zero' and 'Today'. The album's big sounding slower numbers 'Wide Awake', 'We’re Going Down' and 'Badge of Honour' show off a level of song writing that this Welsh band should be proud of, whilst the AC/DC sounding 'Blow Your Mind' should just be played loud!!

V0id have played a handful of European festival dates and also appeared at Texas’ SXSW event, they will also be touring the UK later in the year in support of 'Zer0'. ****

Review by Nikk Gunns

VINNY PIANA Beg Me To Forgive EMI ATK884502312799

Vinny Piana's brand of indie electro pop is the kind of neatly produced radio friendly fare that has already caught the ear of several DJ's. On the evidence of this album he's probably more comfortable as a producer than as a performing artist. Indeed it is his characteristic layered sound that rescues an ordinary to middling voice from the depths of anonymity.

Through a clever use of dynamics he just about gets away with things until the juxtaposition of the gentle acoustic ballad 'All I Wanted' with the lounge sounding 'If I Don't'. Vinny's thin vocals on the latter sounds like a carry over from the previous track and with no discernible change in the phrasing it comes dangerously close to sounding flat. And it is only by virtue of some cleverly constructed bluster that he rescues the song from oblivion.

For the most part Vinny contents himself with a keyboard led understated ambient feel ranging from the opening brooding but catchy synth line of 'Love is Your Fear' (think early Ultravox) with some effective 'call and response' to the following the snappy 'I Need You More' which is as close as he gets to being commercial, albeit complete with deep breathing!

There's also a U2 style groove on 'I Don't Get It' - on which he sings the immortal line 'trust what is real' - and even a Morrissey style vocal on the gentle pop of the title track. There's plenty of nuanced layers of sounds, a recurring quiet/loud dynamic so beloved in contemporary production and the occasional ballad such as the piano led 'Tonight' complete with big chord changes and whispered bv's.

But he saves his best for the last three tracks of which the triumphal backward sounding tapes (make that samples) and post psychedelic wall of sound on 'Crash' is a real highlight. A shrill guitar line, rumbling bass and abrasive drums are suddenly bolster by some densely layered sound to great effect, so good in fact that you almost forget about the whiny vocals.

He revisits the early minimalism of The Cure on 'You're Everything' and finishes with a flourish on 'A Stranger To Me'. Vinny opens with a processed voice and industrial sounding percussion before finding an insistent groove and a durable keyboard motif before once again relying on a rich wall of sound. .

In a world of dance friendly club DJ's, samples and multiple mixes Vinny Piana is in his element with this album. If you are into shifting ambient influenced layers of sounds peppered with hypnotic grooves and cleverly crafted dynamics this slow burner might just be the album for you. ***½

Review by Pete Feenstra

STEVE CICHON Cranial Feedback Nightmare Records

What's in a title? 'Cranial Feedback' perhaps suggests music that hits the skull and sends out the kind of cerebral message that makes want to hear more. Well in truth there are elements of that in this self written, self produced, performed and mastered album of instrumental music. But the challenge with guitar led instrumental music is always to have enough strong songs, enough differing tonal colours and a strong enough dynamic to underpin the inevitable dose of guitar mangling. And really 'Cranial Feedback' only occasionally hits the spot in that respect.

Steve Cichon is a superb player with an imaginative mind who has approached the task in a number of ways ranging from the post psychedelic art work to dubbed crowd cheers, in an attempt set up a meaningful context for his intense. And at times he succeeds as on 'Headrush' at the half way point of the album, but only in the songs solo itself rather than the piece as a whole. In this case it is hemmed in between muted trumpet and fake crowd cheers.

The titles of the songs are also derivative, ranging from 'Ricochet' (Tangerine Dream beat him to that title several years before), and 'Siren' (Tori Amos) to 'Headrush' which is actually the name of a UK band. Then there is the question of question of musical genre and revisiting a well worn niche.

Much of the excellent guitar playing here and the well thought out Rock/Fusion style was originally explored back in the 70's and 80's by the likes of De Meola, Pat Metheny and Lyle Mars, Chick Corea, Jan Hammer and later Steve Vai and Joe Satriani who took the instrumental music to a new dimension. Somewhere in between the two there was also the post psychedelic synth guitar solos which became the preserve of Steve Hillage.

On the upside, this album does at times manage to pull together all these styles and create a coherent whole, but too often the full picture is to be found in the micro moment rather than the macro conceptual whole. This is particularly the case on the on the curiously titled 'Sedated'.

On much earlier 'Crystal Clear' Steve shows has a penchant for sudden 'drop-ins' - in this case it's an unlikely but effective acoustic guitar line - while on 'Sedated' it's a startling synth line. In sum you can feel what he's trying to do with his layered sounds. The playing is incredible but the application is a little clumsy.

No matter, Steve's guitar playing reaches its zenith with a mix of shredding and some parallel soloing on the impressive 'Kwung Pao'. He cleverly manages to fuse several lightening solos, incredible tones and awesome string bending into little more than six and half minutes of an intense, shifting musical landscape. He pauses only for breath on a mid-number acoustic exploration, before roaring into a climactic finish.

There's some intense playing, imaginative production and startling riffs here, but as with most instrumental guitar/keyboard music, the sum is not always greater than the individual parts. ***

Review by Pete Feenstra

MUTINY WITHIN Mutiny Within (Roadrunner Records)

Originally a Children of Bodom covers band from New Jersey, Mutiny Within discovered British singer Chris Clancy on Youtube and he was quickly persuaded to leave his job in a T-Mobile shop and relocate to the US.

He was later followed by college friend and guitarist Dan Bage, although the band was already 6 months into the writing and recording of this self-titled debut album by then. Having written 50 songs together in the process the band have whittled this down to the 11 tracks which recorded for release.

The band has a straight ahead metal sound that is heavy yet melodic, not unlike a heavier version of Dream Theater, with Clancy’s strong vocals having a good range to them and the combination of guitar and keyboard driving the songs. The tracks that stand out the most are 'Images', 'Suffocate' and 'Year of Affliction'- alongside the single 'Awake'.

Mutiny Within look set to spend the summer on tour in the US, with UK shows planned later in the year. ***

Review by Nikk Gunns

SHARP PRACTICE Banging the Rocks (Ryeharbour Records)

Sharp Practice is a curious band that isn't quite brusque enough for the rock market and doesn't quite have the vocals to emulate the likes of Crowded House. And that is a shame for on the evidence of this album, the band doesn't have the vocals to do justice to some clever and poignant lyrics.

More than that, they settle too easily for an inoffensive folk niche where a more powerfully arranged musical sweep and certainly a stronger lead vocal would surely bring them greater reward.

'Banging The Rocks' certainly has its moments with some clever word plays and gentle catchy choruses that would stand repeated scrutiny on the radio. The hypnotic rhythms and catchy hook of 'Monsoon Rain' for example, are ultimately compromised by the understated harmony led rock format.

And On the poppy 'Girls Don't Look' Nigel Clothier further reveals his way with words; 'Girls don't look for love these days, they're more like boys in many ways'. But just like the previous track 'My Revolution' it falls marginally short of its potential as the fleeting harmonies and the turn of a phrase are ultimately hampered by Clothiers own limited vocal range.

Much of the material here could do with a far more abrasive production to push the band beyond its comfort zone and if they ultimately failed, they would do so with a bang rather than a whimper.

Sharp Practice is a band that could sparkle at Little River Band end of the harmony led rock market, but instead they settle for something less on songs like 'Come To Know'. The verse sounds like something from an earnest folk song before another impressive chorus just about rescues the song from his languor.

Too often during the course of a dozen pleasant but undemanding songs the occasional moments of musical excellence are subsumed by the bands own limitations.

This is no more so than on the well written but poorly judged 'Nothing Is More' which opens with a Santana style guitar motif but then stops immediately to give way to a disappointing MOR and mid-paced arrangement that showcases another adroit turn of phrase. 'Nothing is so powerful as an idea whose time has come'.

Perhaps Nigel Clothier should just bite the bullet, forget about the band format and concentrate on his songs in a folk setting where words often hold precedence over the voice that brings them to life. ***

Review by Pete Feenstra

BULLFROG Beggars & Losers (Andromeda Relix)

Originally formed as a covers band back in 1993, Italian band Bullfrog are about to release 3rd album 'Beggars & Losers'. The album has a great late ‘60's/early ‘70's feel to it and the band's sound is clearly influenced by the likes of Hendrix, Cream, Free and Deep Purple.

The idea behind 'Beggars & Losers' was to combine the power of the band's debut album, 'Flower On The Moon', with the more soulful sound of 2nd album 'The Road To Santiago '- and this they have managed to do.

With powerful vocals and guitar work throughout, the album's highlights include 'Rocking Ball', the slower 'Every Sunny Day', and 'One For A Zero'. Then we have 'Keep Me Smiling' with its hint of country rock, or the bluesy 'Rat Kicking', the 11 tracks on the record certainly manage to contain elements of several of the big rock genres.

Rumour has it that the band have been known to play a live set spanning 4 hours, this may be a bit overkill but Bullfrog certainly sound like they can do the business live.  ***

Review by Nikk Gunns

THE UNIVERSAL The Universal (Diffusion Music)

Liverpool based band The Universal are about to release their self titled debut album 'The Universal'. Inspired by the likes of The Kinks and The Jam, this Mod loving four-piece have re-created the feeling of the era, with their own modern slant on it.

Singer, guitarist and songwriter Terry Shaughnessy has done a good job in this respect and the album should also appeal to fans of mid-nineties Britpop, in fact The Universal have already supported the likes of Ocean Colour Scene, and no doubt gained themselves a load of new fans in the process.

There is a thread of consistency running throughout the albums 10 tracks, with the highlights including 'Revolution', 'Day In Day Out', 'I Believe' and 'Let It Burn'.

The Universal sound like a band that should be good live, keep an eye out for them later this year.  ***

Review by Nikk Gunns

GREED Burn It Down (Swedmetal Records)

'Burn It Down' is the newly released debut album from Sweden’s Greed. The album contains 11 tracks of energetic rock n roll that has hints of sleaze, punk and all out rock - and I would say that the band are influenced by the likes of Metallica (particularly the vocal styling), early Scorpions and The Offspring. 'Burn It Down' has a polished production sound and it could have done with sounding a bit rawer, bonus track 'Falling Down' proves this point quite nicely.

Highlights on the album include 'Bring Out The Dead', 'Go, Go, Go', 'Time Will Tell' and 'Wanted'. After a while though the songs do begin to almost follow a formula, which is a shame as this is not a bad album.

Fans of the heavier end of Scandinavian rock will enjoy 'Burn It Down'. ***

Review by Nikk Gunns

VONASSI The Battle Of Ego (Prog Rock Records)

Modern prog rock/metal, with a range of textures throughout. The music is a little harsh at times, reminiscent of 90s King Crimson; jumpy but not (quite) disjointed. There is also an indie leaning, and some good melodies too.

Clear strong vocals with a searing good range, a wall of sound, even the acoustic strumming, it’s good and solid production. Elements of modern Marillion beefed up. ***

Review by Joe Geesin

SNEW We Do What We Want

The band name, album title and band pic all hint at rock'n'roll and sleaze and that's exactly what you get. While the press release mixes AC/DC, Led Zeppelin and The Ramones, you also could also imagine a very rough and ready mix of Quireboys, Black Crowes and Poison.

On this, their second album, the guitars are rough sounding, the vocals often whisky soaked; not as gravelly as Johnson or McCafferty but it's well on the way.

There are at times nods to Samson's Shock Tactics album, the rest of it nods to the heavy and rough end of party metal. Pretty good, but the screams do sound a little strained at times. ***

Review by Joe Geesin

A.Lostfield Internal Affairs

Columbia bassed metal with strong alternative slant. Lots of riffs and solos, quiet bits, programmed sounds. The band is effectively 2 guitarists, who both share vocals, keyboards, bass and drum programming. And a composer too.

Sometimes the sound can get a little jangly and disjointed. Elsewhere though, the guitar sounds are good, there’s the odd nod to the stoner side of Sabbath

Bar the odd nod to trippy prog (a stoner extension), it’s mostly pretty samey though.

If you like this kind of thing, it’s worth a listen. Not for me though.  ***

Review by Joe Geesin

SALIVA Moving Forward In Reverse: Greatest Hits
(Universal )

12 years, six albums, and we get Saliva’s first retrospective. This is not a band I am familiar with but the sound does appear to be at the mainstream / approachable end of alternative rock with nods to grunge. Opening track “Superstar” is uptempo, and “Your Disease” tries to be more anthemic.

There are moments of aggression, rock’n’roll, and plenty of energy and riffs.

This is a good compilation, although 13 tracks probably don’t do 6 albums justice. There is, however, a new track “Time To Shine” exclusive to this release. ***

Review by Joe Geesin

JAMIE LAWSON The Pull of The Moon (Lookout Mountain Records)

English singer and songwriter Jamie Lawson is influenced by the likes of Crowded House, R.E.M and Leonard Cohen, and the influences can be heard clearly on his forthcoming debut album 'The Pull of The Moon'. The albums 12 tracks alternate between sparse sounding acoustic guitar and vocal numbers and the fuller sounding band arrangements.

Unfortunately, the slower paced tracks do become a bit repetitive after a couple of listens and the albums running order does not help this. The songs are written with passion though and this quality shines through - tracks such as 'The Touch of Your Hand' are earthy, emotional and honest sounding. Other highlights include 'A Darkness' (apparently a song inspired by murder), the nostalgic 'North Shore' and '...But Love Me'- a track comparing the music business to prostitution.

Having already supported the likes of Damien Rice and Martha Wainwright, Lawson can be found opening for, amongst others, Van Morrison and Katie Melua this summer. **½

Review by Nikk Gunns


Print this page in printer friendly format

Print this page in printer-friendly format

Tell a friend about this page

Tell a friend about this page

***** Out of this world | **** Pretty damn fine |
*** OK, approach with caution unless you are a fan |
** Instant bargain bin fodder | * Ugly. Just ugly

Featured Artists
Artist Archive
Featured Labels
Label Archive
Do you want to appear here?

get ready to rock is a division of hotdigitsnewmedia group