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Sunday, 30 June 2013

The Gifted - Inside Out - Album Review

6 months ago, I did a Q&A with The Gifted bassist Izzy, and I commented on their music being classed as 'Marmite' music. Well, after having my already sceptical mind changed with their previous album 'Forgive Me', I decided to review the Sheffield based band's new album 'Inside Out'. I say my mind was changed, this is because, when I listened to 'Forgive Me', I mistakenly had the mindset that I wasn't going to like it, but it's the label 'industrial' that I suppose was putting me off. However, if you've not listened to The Gifted before, check out 'Forgive Me' until 'Inside Out' is released in early July.

With 'Inside Out' what you have is a meticulously crafted, brilliantly produced, piece of work. 'Why (Make Me Feel This Way) ? kicks things off, with an almost military march intro, but then breaks into a driving, synth lead, beast of an opening track. Which is the theme for the whole record. Each track is testament to the programming/production skills of Andy Clarke, who also provides the vocals, guitars, and drums for the band. Whilst he is ably supported by Gennie Dyson on the synths and as mentioned, Izzy on bass. Not each track is a head mashing thunderstorm of drums, guitars, and electronica however. The final track 'Home', is a complete breakaway, starting out with just a drumtrack, piano, and guitar. It has a kind of Ultravox feel to it. This does give way to a more fuzzed guitar, feedback supported track but steel changes the entire feel of the album. Title track 'Inside Out' is about as head mashing as the album gets, with distorted vocals, guitars, and a driving drum track.

If you mix elements of Marilyn Manson, Placebo, a bit of Sisters of Mercy, and chuck in the odd bit of early Bowie, that'll give you some idea of what to expect from these guys. But above all else, don't do what I nearly did and not listen because you don't think you'll like it. Give them a listen, because they may just surprise you!!

It's an awesome album, brilliantly engineered, well produced, and a great listen.

Full track list for 'Inside Out'
1 Why (Make Me Feel This Way) ?
2 Artificial Happiness
3 Smile
4 Break
5 Rainbows in The Night Sky
6 Everything is Relative
7 Inside Out
8 Home

Sunday, 9 June 2013

Ones to Watch - Brothers of Caedmon

You never know what to expect, when you're looking for a band for a gig, and someone recommends a band that you've never heard of. Well this was the case with Brothers of Caedmon from Redditch, when they played at The Roadhouse in Birmingham for me last Tuesday. They were recommended to me by Kathryn Marsh, who herself has made a couple of appearances for me in a couple of her own great bands. So, thinkning I had nothing to lose, I got in contact with lead singer Conor, and set things up, the guys were gonna kick the night off for me, sorted!! In the meantime, I watched a couple of videos on youtube and was impressed with their sound, a smooth sounding folk/rock vibe, and looked forward to seeing them at the gig.

I was gonna originally do this as a review of their EP, but that will come another time. For now, I just had to say how bloody good these guys are!! I kid you not when I say that listening to these guys in no way prepares you for how pheomenal they are live!! I, and to be honest I think mmost of the other bands, was totally blown away by how amazing they sounded. Conor's live vocal is stunning, with a great tonal range, and despite a couple of slip ups with lyrics, (which can always be forgiven), he and the band played a fantastic set. From their original songs, including the single 'Dragon and A White Nurse' and 'This Town, to stunning covers of Coldplay's 'Fix You' and of all things David Guetta's 'Titaniium', both songs given their own unique spin by the folk rockers. Each song was greeted by cheers from a more than appreciative crowd. I really mean it when I say the version of 'Fix You' is amazing!!

The crisp sound of the banjo, and the smooth tones of the trumpet used on certain tracks is what makes Brothers sound so different, and that was what immediately strikes you. Whether the music is to your taste or not, there is no denying these guys have bundles of talent, and I cannot recommend enough that if you get a chance to see Conor, Chris, Jacob, and Steve live, then do it!! There will definately be more opportunities to catch them at BritRockArmy events in the future!!

Brothers of Caedmon are:
Conor Rabone (Lead Vocals and guitar)
Jacob Madden (Bass, Vocals and Mandolin)
Chris Slater (Banjo and vocals)
Steven Saunders (Drums and Vocals)

Saturday, 8 June 2013

Stubblemelt - EP Review - The Search

I first downloaded this EP, sometime last year, and it's the kind of record you always go back to. I first heard Stubblemelt live last November, when they headlined my first gig at Scruffy Murphys, and they blew me away with the quality of their live package, great stage pressence, they obviously get on away from the stage, because you can just see it when they play.

Their debut EP 'The Search' has received some rave reviews, they've had plentiful airplay on BBC Introducing, and to cap it all, they've supported, the soon to defunct, JLS at Stoke City FC's Britannia Stadium. playing to 3000 fans.

'The Search' is composed of 5 awesome pop/rock tracks,  all of which are deserving of single release. It's impossible to pick out a standout track, as they are all great, great songs. Having  said that 'See Your Lovers' is my fave track on the EP, lol. We kick things off, with 'Evil Insane', a stormer of an opener, which draws the listener in with it's gentle harmonious start, but you then realise there's something coming, and all of a sudden you're attacked by an assault of guitars, bass, and pounding drums. The riff soon gives way to Kyle Perry's soft opening vocal, but as with the songs intro, the vocal soon builds to a powerhouse performance. 'Blood Money' is a similarly produced track, although it starts off sounding far more as though it will stay a ballad, although what you actually get is a guitar driven far heavier chorus than you expect, it's another great track though, and another great example of the bands stand out quality. Next is my personal favourite, and a real crowd pleaser at live events. The reason for it's popularity is simple, in my opinion. It's an out and anthem!! Once you listen to it, you can imagine an arena full of people singing along at the top of their lungs (I know I was last Tuesday, lol). It's just an amazing track, but you can judge for yourself from the video below.
The second half of 'The Search', has a different feel to the first 3 tracks. I don't want to say there's a 'darker' feel, because thats not the right word, but 'Lord of Gods' and 'Angry Troll' certainly have an edgier feel to them. It's probably because neither track has the slower almost ballad style elements to them, they are heavier, with more guitar riffs and solo's, and heavier drums throughout. 'Angry Troll' also has the added element of rapping, from bassist Tom Marshall. It's another string to the Stubblemelt bow, showing versatility, and a willingness to incorporate different style into their music.

'The Search' is a polished, very well produced debut from another fantastic Birmingham band and if the early indications are anything to go by, when the long awaited full album comes out, (currently pencilled in for a 2014 release), that will push them further into the public eye!! Check out new tracks 'Lifetime' on iTunes and a sampler of 'Journeyman' on Soundcloud.

Stubblemelt are:
Kyle Perry - Lead Vocals and Rhythm Guitar
Tom Marshall - Bass and Vocals
David Ashford - Drums
Mat Giles - Lead Guit and Vocals
Craig 'STEVEN' Pedley - Synth / vocals

Full trcaklist for The Search
1 Evil Insane
2 Blood Money
3 See Your Lovers
4 Lord of Gods
5 Angry Troll

Also check out the Lichfield Rocks Festival on Facebook here. A fantastic fun filled all day event being organised by the Stubblemelt lads. Full of great bands, acoustic acts and fun for everyone! All raising money for St Giles Hospice.

Monday, 3 June 2013

Single Review - Razonator - Prayer of Road

Some single reviews are quite tough to do, this one however isn't!! This is Brazilian Southern Rock at it's best!! You may remember the Q&A I did with Razonator's Eddie Brandoff a few months ago? In it I mentoined a new single called 'Prayer of Road'. Well here it is.

It starts off with an awesome Southern to the core, guitar intro, with a smooth riff, bit of cow bell, and then the whole band kick in. You expect a similar vocal, but what you actually get is a raw, gritty, powerful vocal throughout. It's class! Plain and simple! The whole thing is beautifully crafted, brilliantly performed, and there's a cracking solo mid way through.

If you've never heard of, or listened to Mr Brandoff, or Razonator, get on it, NOW!!

The Flex - Your Eyes - EP Review

The Flex first came to my attention towards the end of last year, with their debut release, 'Our Time Is Now', a fantastic, uplifting, almost anthemic blockbuster of an indie rock track. When I first heard it I thought 'these guys are gonna be huge!!' And with the release of their debut EP 'Your Eyes'.

What 'Your Eyes' gives you, is 3 more examples of what a class act the 4 piece, from the south west, are. The opening track 'Daisy' is a fab way to start things off with a neat little bassline leading the way, interspersed with some great guitar riffs. 'Your Eyes' has a much smoother vibe to it, the are hints of The Jam/Style Council throughout, but not enough for it not to sound like something original, and bloody good!! The vocals are a great mix of smooth, but also some powerful angst at times. Final track 'City Life', has Paul Weller stamped all over it, but again, given the vocal being a much smoother, richer tone than The Modfather, it gives the track a life of it's own.

It's a fantasticaly crafted EP. Great songs, lyrics, arrangements, whcih if I'm honest, I fully expected. If you like your indie/mod rock, then this is the band for you. They have talent in spades, let's hope it's not too long before there's a long player on the horizon from them!!

The Flex are:
Giles Refoy
Tom Flatman
Chris Mellor
Sam Gerard

Full Track List for Your Eyes
1 Daisy
2 Your Eyes
3, City Life

'Your Eyes' is available on For Your Ear Records via iTunes

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