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

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

DISAFFECTION Begin The Revolution (Bombworks Records)

It seems that old school thrash is back in vogue, certainly as far as these Brazilians are concerned. It could be the late 80s and Metal Forces magazine all over again. Think Slayer, Kreator and Exodus as definite influences. Machine gun riffs, pounding drums, screamed vocals, high speed solos, it's prime old school thrash.

The press release lists Municipal Waste and Toxic Holocaust, who mean nothing to me, but I would also add that there is a hint of Anthrax in there.

This isn't quite in the league of the big four, the songs don't have total identity. A tad samey, but some good thrash moments.  ***½

Review by Joe Geesin


15 years ago, this band started off as an AC/DC tribute band. Now on their 3rd album of original material, it's husky, sleazy, and a LOT of fun.

Hard rock'n'roll, the opening tracks are several gears of beefed up sleaze, while the title track is reminiscent of mid 70s Alice Cooper. "B Hole Boogie" rocks as you would expect.

Once hailed as the greatest bar room band ever, they have since supported Nazareth, Loverboy and Quiet Riot, and on this evidence have probably gone down a storm with all three.   ***½

Review by Joe Geesin

I AM KLOOT Sky At Night

Sky At Night is the 5th album from Manchester indie / alt rockers John Bramwell (vocals / guitar), Andrew Hargreaves (drums) and Peter Jobson (bass).

John Bramwell is the thinking man's Alex Turner - a northern poet. The album opens with Northern Skies - a wonderful piece of northern Americana, followed by To The Brink a decadently faded string backed show tune which Turner may one day aspire to.

A songwriter's songwriter, the centrepiece is undoubtedly Bramwell's songs and heartfelt deliveries, and with the Elbow's Guy Harvey back in the production chair this gentle album showcases Bramwell's songwriting talent, perfectly demonstrating the adage that less is more.

A thing of shimmering beauty, no question Bramwell could teach most singer songwriter's a thing or two. Check it out. ***½

Review by Pete Whalley

THE CULPRIT The Culprit (Not On Your Radio)

Debut album from this young band, it is billed as Electro Rock, which sadly means that, for all the good moments, it is a bit of a programmed mess.

The rockier moments hint of alternative rock, while tracks like "Kill Or Cure" are more beefed up guitar pop. Think a radio accessible Nine Inch Nails, or Muse.

It is full on guitar and drums, but the programming and vocal processing really doesn't help.

There are some good melodic moments, but a cover of Howard Jones' "What Is Love" may be too melodic for most.

Good pseudo rock.  ***

Review by Joe Geesin

THE PERFECT CRIME Everything Else Can Wait

A three piece from the leafy suburb of St. Neots in Cambridgeshire - Adam Mortaro (vocals and guitars), Chris Roberts (bass and backing vocals), and Scott Cambell (drums and backing vocals).

Not what you might expect to emerge from middle England. Angst, shouty vocals, discordant riffs, algebraic time changes as tight as a cat's backside, and anthemic melodies. And you've only got to look to Biffy Clyro to see what a racket a three piece can make when they set their minds to the task.

And that's just what The Perfect Crime do, but unlike others by looking to combine intense indie, the heavy rock of say, Creed, and elements of prog.

For my liking The Perfect Crime are a little 'in your face' when they explode into the heavier aspects of their sound. But that said, they do successfully combine genres that haven't necessarily made comfortable bedfellows, to make a sound which is pretty much, their own. I suspect there's a market for The perfect Crime. Their challenge will be to tap into it. ***

Review by Pete Whalley

IF WEN Take A Look At The Sea

A singer songwriter from Cornwall who produces ‘pastoral folk music’.

Take a Look At The Sea was written on a beach in West Cornwall and by a river in London, and recorded in an ancient barn using just a guitar and a cheap mic and recorder bought on ebay.

Mastered by Tim Dennan (Belle and Sebastian) it’s an album that harks back to the folkie idealism of the late sixties and Donovan, Al Stewart and Nick Drake in particular. And in that context it does what it says on the tin.

Beautifully played and recorded. While it may not ‘rock my world’, if ‘classic’ late 1960’s style English singer songwriter folk is your bag, then Take A Look At Sea is an essential purchase. ***

Review by Pete Whalley

SVOLK Svolk (Tuba Revords)

Brutal bear metal from Norway. A beefed up 80s (and early 90s) throwback, this is solid, chunky metal. There is also a slight nod to alt / stoner, but it is too energetic and melodic (in a brutal way) for that.

"Anchor" is really worth checking out, with the most brutal mix of riffs and solos, the twin guitars combining nicely. The intro to "Sweet Agony" is a strong nod to old school trad thrash.

Heavy as hell, it does pack a punch. A tad sludgy at times though.  ***

Review by Joe Geesin

NAIL Power And Greed

Who are they? A progressive heavy rock / metal bunch of seasoned veterans from Canada fronted by Rainer (guitars / vocals) and Cindy (vocals) Wiechmann in 2007 when they departed the 'hair metal' band Helix. The line-up is completed by Darcy Maudsley (bass/ vocals) and Dale Penney (drums / vocals).

What're they like? Power and Greed is the band's follow up to their 2007 eponymous debut and Nail do exactly what it says on the can. That is play hard, to the point, metal.

Essentially they follow the blueprint of British bands like Sabbath / Ozzy Osborne and Iron Maiden combining aspects of US counterparts like Rush, Dio and Tool. So what you get is power metal guitar mayhem with plenty of hooks, an explosive rhythm section, proggy time changes and, of course, powerful vocals.

Should I buy? Currently unsigned and independently managed, Nail don't bring pretend to bring anything new to the genre, but there's no knocking their musicianship, enthusiasm and punch. With a big production budget, who knows? But in the meantime, they'd certainly enliven any metal festival stage. ***

Review by Pete Whalley

SATELLITES & SIRENS Satellites & Sirens

Who are they? A Christian 'high energy' four piece from Nashville, formed by guitarist/vocalist Geoff Hunker who recruited the rest of the band (Jonathan Dimmel (drums), David Troyer (guitar), and Brandon Owens (bass / synth)) via an online classified ads site.

What're they like? A cross between the current crop of British post punk indie bands favoured by the likes of NME - say, Go Audio or You Me At Six, and The Buggles / Abba. Now there's a combination that would be difficult to dream up. Perhaps only in nightmares.

So what you get is big guitar based up-tempo pop numbers and big choruses tempered by 80s style synths. And naturally, very radio friendly in a Radio 1 sort of way.

It's strange because this is a scene that in the UK, has almost run its course. That is, until the festival season gets in full swing. Of course, the US are still playing catch up and they always add that little bit more polish or pizazz than us Brits - Metro Station being a prime example.

Should I buy? Anthemic songs mixing disco / Buggles synths with massive pop choruses make this the perfect sound of the summer and perfect for festival participation. With the right exposure one wonders how they can possibly fail. ***

Review by Pete Whalley

CALAMATEUR  Each Dirty Letter

Who is he? Calamateur is the nom de plume of Scottish singer songwriter Andrew Howie, a musician based near Inverness in the Highlands. He's been recording and releasing his own music since 2000. Each Dirty Letter is his 4th album release.

What's he like? The album opens with Change The World, I Would - a gentle, wistful and laid back number perfect for lonely bedsitters everywhere. Banoffee drifts into Snow Patrol territory - a swelling, swirling love song, with a 'to die for' chorus that would be equally at home in a folk club or filling an arena.

And that's the neat trick that Calamateur has pulled off with Each Dirty Letter: it's an album that works on the level of intimate confessional, but which would work equally well in front of a much larger audience - the perfect example being 'Retreat', a lovely duet with Jo Mango that is firmly in Damien Rice territory.

Should I buy? If you're a fan of bands like Snow Patrol, then you're going to appreciate what Calamateur and Each Dirty Letter has to offer. That is, beautifully played and produced, singer / songwriter soft rock of the first order. ***

Review by Pete Whalley

FATINIZA Confusion

Born in the Colombian mountains, but now resident in Dubai, female singer songwriter Fatiniza's debut album Confusion is aimed squarely at the pop / rock market.

With her South American vocal inflections it's impossible not to think of Shakira. And on the opening track (Out Of Control) at least, her vocals also have an air of Pink to them.

You get very much what you might expect from an artist at the pop end of the rock spectrum - plenty of rock guitars, big choruses, acoustic based pop / rock and all worthy of radio play. But I still can't shake the Shakira image.

Almost inevitably there's a large proportion of Latin rhythms and percussion. And of course, there's some verses and songs in Spanish. I still can't shake that Shakira image.

But hey, Shakira's not a bad role model. If anything Fatiniza is more 'rock' orientated, but what Confusion is crying out for is some stand out lead guitar work to counterbalance the vocals. It would have been the perfect vehicle for a Carlos Santana collaboration. As it is, it's pleasant radio friendly fodder, but unlikely to break Fatiniza into the 'big time'.

That said, in Dubai she's played in front of Sheiks, Tiger Woods and AC Milan. A rich sugar Daddy with the right connections may be all that's needed. ***

Review by Pete Whalley


Odd mix this, rock with guitar pop in a disjointed grunge or alt fashion. So heavy and light and heavy and light, and a lot of Radiohead moments.

Some heavier guitar on the other 2 tracks. Nodding alternative prog rock. Apparently for fans of The Mars Volta.

This is OK, but it really didn't do much for me.  **½

Review by Joe Geesin

INDICA A Way Away (Nuclear Blast)

With one platinum and two gold albums, and numerous Finnish top ten singles to their name, the Finnish all girl group Indica make a play for the international market with their first English speaking record.

'Discovered' by Nightwish boss Tuomas Holopainen and with two Nightwish tours under their belts, you might reasonably expect this five piece girl band to have some Finnish symphonic metal tendencies. But any they have are well buried on 'A Way Away'.

Described back at home as 'mystic romantic pop', there's no real obvious metal connection - yes, there's the occasional power chord and the tolling of church bells. And there's some dramatic strings sections of cinematic proportion.

But the giveaway is the iTunes genre classification of 'pop' with Eurovision being the most obvious reference point. Nothing wrong with that, and I'm sure Indica would do pretty well. But of interest to GRTR! readers? I suspect a little too sugary for their rock loving palates. **½

TINA LIE  Free Enough To Fall

Who is she? Originally from Lillehammer, and a firm favourite in her native Norway, Tina Lie is an Americana / blues / AOR singer with whiskey soaked vocals.

What's she like? Unfortunately, 'tame' is the word that springs to mind. Free Enough To Fall is a mix of self penned songs and covers and is could be described as 'cruise liner' rock.

As cabaret acts go, you could hardly fail to be impressed, but in 'rock' terms there's a distinct lack of urgency, bite or edge. And when the band attempt to rock out, it's in the safest of fashions, and it feels like no one is moving out of second gear. Only on Home Ground is the pedal pushed anywhere near the metal, but even then Tina sounds like she's got plenty of horsepower left untapped under the bonnet.

Should I buy? Comparisons have been made with Janis Joplin, but I think that can only be what Joplin might have faded to had she followed Elvis's spiral into Vegas. It's a shame because Tina Lie sounds like she could let rip with the best of them. But contrast Free Enough To Fall with Grace Potter who sings like her very life depends on it, or the excellent Whiskey Or Water by VK Lynne, and there really is no comparison. A missed opportunity. **½

Review by Pete Whalley

MIKE CAMPESE Electric City

Having reviewed the other guitar instru albums in this month’s selection, great things were hoped for from 'guitar virtuoso' Campese who studied in California with some of the greats, among them Paul Gilbert.

Whilst Campese is more technically gifted than the young Frelek and the older Leitsch reviewed here, this (his seventh) album can only be of real interest to insomniac guitar nerds.  And while there are probably a few of those, for us mere mortals this is more like an album of technical guitar exercises, whereas more muscle should have been exercised on the semblance of a tune and a stable time signature.

This album is a triumph of shred over substance. Even the titles are unimaginative: ‘Shred Machine', 'Shred'. And the telling 'Over The Top'. Whilst 'The Bitch Upstairs' maybe refers to his landlady who has simply had enough of his abject noodling down below...

The 10 minute 'tour-de-force', the eastern-flavoured 'Camelryde', is frankly a complete mess.

And when Campese tries his hand at vocals: just don’t go there. The bass and drums also sound like an afterthought with the focus very firmly on the guitar.

There is no doubting that Campese has a pedigree, including a brief stint in Trans-Siberian Orchestra, but ‘Electric City’ is unlikely to win wider converts to his brand of frenetic, florid, and ultimately vacuous shred. **½

Review by David Randall

PADDY LEITSCH - Rise of the Guitar Dragon (Sound Lemonade)

Paddy Leitsch's album is described as like Joe Satriani jamming with Pink Floyd, and whilst Satch is a good benchmark it does suggest a potential lack of originality.

The album is only lifted by the use of quirky samples, and an overall more ambient approach as evidenced on 'Sunday Morning Breakfast'. However the production is dire: heavily programmed and top heavy giving Chicago-based Leitsch an unnecessarily trebly - and therefore ultimately irritating - one-dimensional tone, and an almost absent bottom end.

'The Gypsy's Ghost Machine' is a good example, a potentially attractive tune ruined by some over-the-top guitar and a production that sounds no more than a demo.  **½

Also on our sampler was the album 'Ed's Head A Graphic Audio Novel' which presumably pre-dates 'Dragon'. It is really only of interest to guitarheads, but they will have heard better. (***)

Review by David Randall

TOM FRELEK Moment Of Certainty

We are as generous as possible here at GRTR! Towers but 'Moment Of Certainty' is one of the worst guitar instrumental releases you're likely to hear this year or, perhaps, ever.

Tom Frelek is a young Canadian guitarist. Evidently a self-production, nothing wrong with that of course but it allows Frelek unchecked indulgence. He needs a producer or at least an honest friend.

The simple truth is that the songs and arrangements are immature and just not interesting enough, and the playing is boring and, unlike those who he cites as influences (the usual suspects, Satriani, Petrucci, Paul Gilbert), lacks the wow factor or even technical competence (poor intonation, string bends, vibrato etc). It also seems completely devoid of emotion.

The only moment of certainty here is the feeling - after a couple of tracks, perhaps less - you have more important things in life to be getting on with. *

Review by David Randall


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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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