No One Knows Me – Billy Roberts and The Rough Riders (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

GreenbahSitting here slightly fragile after a night watching a Dallas rocker with a country swagger tear a hole where the stage in an English venue used to be, the latest release from Billy and the boys feels like the perfect after party music. Not that I have the energy to party. But that same blend of southern groove, garage rock grunt and country licks seems very appropriate right now.

Know One Knows Me drives on a solid, relentless backbeat and bass pulse, time and tide may wait for no man and neither does this song. Alex Quinn’s spiralling guitars and Billy’s vocals, a combination of world wise and world weary, vie for the lead role and then settle for compromise and harmonise as the song builds.


If California has The Blasters, a band that captured the country vibe but then represented it to the world via a harder, punk edged rock and roll delivery, Billy Roberts and The Rough Riders are doing the same job on the other side of the world. Okay, it isn’t going to please the purists but I’m sure it will turn a lot of people on to the idea of what country music can be, whilst delivering some consistently solid tunes along the way. If there is such a thing as alt-country…then this is definitely it.




Hang on a Second – Them Dead Beats (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

17021804_1908024782766215_8556527798649675957_nIt may be a very simple idea, but as is often the case with simple ideas, it’s a good one, namely take the groove and grit of blues and give it the scuzzy garage rock treatment. It worked for their previous release, Give Us A Minute, and it works here too. And just as before, the saleability of such a simple and oft visited genre clash is the songs themselves, after all anyone can drive the blues-rock car off of the cliff of convention but the art is ending up with something which is more Thelma and Louise’s dramatic swansong and less a short traffic report on page 7 of the local newspaper.

Thankfully drama is never in short supply here. Roll With Me is apocalyptic burlesque blues, the soundtrack to that final party as you watch the mushroom clouds blow away all evidence that we were even here and 1959 is the mutant offspring of John Lee Hooker and The Birthday Party…raw, visceral, scary and addictive. All I Need is a strange hybrid of The Coral’s mercurial old time sing along style and a strange pop edge buried in their usual guitar onslaught but it is the  opening brace of songs Change and Get Mine that represent their signature sound, the bruising tumble of jagged guitars, howling harmonica’s and a vocal which, try as I might, I can’t help but picturing Nick Helm on the other end of. Weird?

Yes, they may be exploring the same musical territory they did first time out, but why not? As the record proves there is still a lot of great work to be done here and these are the chaps to do it. They join dots between Memphis in 1956, Detroit in 1969 and New York in 1977 and at a time when “rock” has become polished, defined, packaged and refined to within an inch of its skinny-jeaned and complicated hair-styled life, maybe it is time to turn back to “rock and roll” for our kicks. There is no denying that underneath all the jagged edges and punk rock sonic poses, that is essentially what this is.

It’s elemental; it’s out of control but just enough in check, it’s savage, stroppy, sweet and sour, and slightly silly…but never a joke. Rock and roll is serious business and it looks like it is back on the menu. Who’s for Seconds?

Only One – Billy Roberts and The Rough Riders (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

GreenbahBlurring lines and subverting expectation is the job of every musician worth his salt and the fact that Billy Roberts both obscures the distinction between alt-country and garage rock and does so from a whole different cultural heartland, shows that he is all too aware of that.

By rights this should be an East Nashville bar band raising disapproving eyebrows of Music City purists and the pulses of outlaw country devotees in equal measure for their scuzzy and raw approach to America’s musical lore. The fact that they do so with both feet firmly planted on the soil of another country proves what a small and wonderfully connected place the world is these days. But we covered all of that last time around when discussing the, then current release, Blood and Bones.

There is a wonderfully underground delivery to Billy’s vocals, the same world-weariness that haunted Johnny Thunders sound, and whilst sonically he might not seem like the best reference to aim for as a vocalist, you can hear a life lived to the full, the struggling underdog and the warrior poet in both their voices.

But this isn’t a solo effort and as the song moves towards it’s logical conclusion, neatly tied together by Rory Facione’s subtle and sparing beats, it builds through melodic momentum, tempered piano breaks and finally reaches fruition via Alex Quinn’s masterful guitar work.

If I said my latest favourite alt-country rock band came from a one time cotton town in the south of the country, no one would think anything of it, tell them that the country in question is Australia and it will have them spluttering into their Mint Julep!

Crawling – Fennr Lane (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

unknownIn some ways Fennr Lane has restored my faith in rock music. Having been bombarded with metal so extreme that it sounds like the sounds like the heavy industry sector of the seventh circle of hell and would-be rock more concerned with having the right skinny jeans and complicated hair, I guess I was ripe for something that ticked the right boxes for me. And Fennr Lane certainly does that.

Like the previous single, Time To Ruin, Fennr Lane eschews the frippery and gimmicks that is often used as a distraction and just gets down to the business of reviving a brand of rock that sits somewhere between the foot on the monitor traditions of classic rock, the steely-eyed swagger of garage rock and a grunge intensity. This isn’t the sort of music that will change your life, but it will make your night. It is nothing more than a satisfying hit of solid, dynamic and driving rock urges, a record of simple ambitions but one that achieves its goals with room to spare.

Like I say, it won’t change your life, most music doesn’t, but it might just remind you of why you fell in love with rock music in the first place.

A Big Bad Beautiful Noise – The Godfathers (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

15871607_10153896252941653_6420729062696068158_nI remember watching The Godfathers at the infamous Marquee Club way back in the formative years of the band’s career (just don’t tell them that I had only gone along for the support act) and thinking at the time…blimey, they sound like the sound track to a riot, or possibly even the catalyst for one. And that, in a nutshell, is everything you need to know. But it is a record that deserves a closer look than that, so hold my coat I’m going in.


When The Godfathers first crawled out of the smoking wreckage of The Sid Presley Experience in the mid eighties, they formed part of a rock and roll resistance, a movement of underground rabble-rousers who offered a wonderfully honest, threadbare and raw alternative to the chart glitz and manufactured pop that was prevalent. A timely reminder of that comes with the quasi-rockabilly groove and tribal beats of Poor Boy’s Son which automatically evokes the likes of The Gun Club and The Cramps, fellow travellers through the dank, back rooms and alternative club scene, plying a similar trade that swerved the theatrics of goth and the cartoon nature of rock as it tugged at more primal rock and roll threads.


Even when they deliver a straighter song it still sounds subversive, splendidly haughty and dangerous, but isn’t that what you are looking for in a rock band? Miss America is the perfect blend of sleazy garage raucousness and perfectly timed social commentary and even when they strip things right back on She’s Mine, they channel the same sort of dark, edgy majesty that Lou Reed occasional touched on. Hey, I’m sure they are lovely guys when you meet them at the bar, but when they are in work mode they have lost none of the sneering swagger that made them so appealing in the first place.

New Music of the Day – CLIV: Radio – Peter 118

12654431_746135528820816_6112175244556574472_nHaving been championed by tastemakers across the globe from Vive The Rock in the UK to LA’s KROQ DJ Rodney Bingenheimer, it isn’t hard to see the appeal of Peter 118’s latest single. Peter Field takes the punk swagger of his previous bands, Senseless and Ambassadors of Shalom, and welds it on to some gloriously direct, fist in the air, sing-along melodies to create the sound of his new musical vehicle.

Okay, it might not be clever, but it is big and in the pop punk playing field that they now position themselves that is all that matters. If you want something deep and meaningful to reflect on and analyse, then you need to look elsewhere. If, however, you want an adrenaline rush of spiky melodies, raucous, rabble rousing vocals and football terrace pop-chants, Peter 118 are the go to guys.

New Music of The Day – CXXXVI: Demons – The Black Jackals

15156945_362772174072391_6097488782414470166_oEvery band plunders from the past, of course they do, but it is how subtly you apply those influences which is the difference between being an innovative torch bearer or a pastiche ridden revivalist.

And whilst The Black Jackals freely acknowledge the heady days when 60’s garage rock and electric blues pioneers started morphing into what is now viewed as classic rock, it is to more recent bands such as The Datsuns, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and Piano Wire that we need to look for parallels.

Set to an archetypal, dark and sleazy rock groove The Black Jackals make for worthy custodians of the rock and roll flame, a flame that was first lit around 60 years ago and which, thanks to bands such as this, shows no sign of diminishing. Anything but.

New Music of the Day – CXXVII: Castaway – The Franklys

pastedgraphic-2If there is a better garage rock band operating on the circuit today then I’m yet to stumble across them and just like bands such as The Runaways back in the day and IDestroy at the moment, they capture all the raw energy, swagger, verve and attitude of a small club band bursting out of their restrictive environment to take on the world.

Surprisingly smooth lead lines form a wonderful contrast to the spat out lyrics and this sweet and sour collision is the secret to their success. 60’s surf-pop is tempered by CBGB’s street-punk and rather than merely trying to beat the boys at their own game, they instead hold on to their feminine identity and create something which is both scary and sensual, intense and alluring. Quite a trick if you can do it.

Eat. Hate. Regurgitate. – Mannequin Death Squad (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

12473789_880838542027366_796869094809479350_oIt seems a difficult concept to get your head around but the wonderfully named Mannequin Death Squad seem to exist in a strange place, one where bubble-gum pop meets scuzzed-up garage punk. And if that is a sound that is difficult to imagine then you need to listen to this record. Equal parts melodic sweetness and light, and squalling garage rock fury, this record is a clash of sound, culture and ideologies from the smoking ruins of which rises a totally unexpected sound, one that is probably best described by referencing their own lyrics “cigarettes and soda pop.” Having trouble imagining what that sounds like? Listen to the record.


Five tracks, which wander between musical worlds and will charm and offend pop fans in equal measure just as it thrills and confuses fans of alternative music in the same way. You like music that subverts expectations? You like music built on curveballs and challenge? Music that hops generic boundaries just because it can and defies classification? Listen to the record!

New Music of the Day – CXIV : City – Hard Stairs

13680567_472371852973592_1430583636259453106_nThere are a number of bands coming through at the moment who have taken a sound more associated with the states, particularly the south and repackaged it with a slightly Anglicised accent…HipRoute, The Dustbowl Children, The Rosellys and Case Hardin all spring to mind. But if their brand of British Americana (as it is being coined) sits in fairly Nashville-esque company…even if it is the more underground eastern part of the city, Hard Stairs come from somewhere else.


This is the unruly younger brother, the black sheep of the family, the garage punk rebel of the blues family. It has all the expected hallmarks, the riff boogies along; the beat hypnotically lopes along behind it, wonderfully and wilfully loose and the vocals growl out over the top. But it is the intangible elements to the music, which works for me. Between the notes and the beats and the words is something else, a whiskey fuelled attitude, a surly look and bad feeling about how things are going to turn out. Musically this is the guy who deliberately shoulder barges you as you head for the bar, the guy you do your best to avoid eye contact with all night, the guy you know is probably hanging around the car park at the end of the night just to get into a fight.



Black Bombers – Black Bombers (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

12122518_444746932388375_1366464258305589270_nThere was just no way this one was not going to make the most resounding blip on my radar. Their cast list alone shows connections past and present to so many names which have steered my life along a certain musical path – Gunfire Dance, Walter Lure, Lords of The New Church, The Prefects, Swell Maps and The Nightingales to name but a few. Not only cool names to drop in the right circles but with a secret history of West Midlands underground music scene running through the centre of it.


After clocking those references you go into the album with certain expectations and it in no way disappoints. Raw garage rock deliveries, attitude dripping punk stances, post-punk melodicism and even pulsing rockabilly beats are fitted together, given a stripped back and sleaze-noir studio paint job to come bursting from the speakers like the sound track to a cult rock ‘n’ roll horror movie yet to be made.


It swaggers like the Stooges finest moments, drips with the glorious rock-gothique gloom of The Damned and between it all you can still hear the uncompromising urgency and bluster of Darren Birch’s former incarnation, the seminal and insane Gunfire Dance. This debut offering is nothing short of being a collection of gutter anthems, classics in the making from a parallel universe where the punk wars were won by the righteous, Nikki Sudden was not only still alive but Minister for Culture and Wayne Kramer was the focus of a major religion. Well, a boy can dream and these are the skewed and screwed up lullabys to help you visit that dark, scuzzy and wonderful place.

New Music of The Day : LXXXII – Steal and Cheat – False Heads

FALSEHEADS-11Earlier False Heads releases have had reviewers reaching for references as diverse as The Pixies, The Stooges and the much maligned Underneath What (obscure reference inane effort to look knowledgable and edgy??) Steal and Cheat takes a much more expected line for a band signed to  Gary Powell’s 24-Hour Convenience Store label. With  the same mix of wistful abandonment and edgy danger as their bosses old band The Libertines and an ability to mix pop melodies with spiky garage band urgency reminiscent of The Buzzcocks they make a wonderfully unholy clatter.

If previously they have mixed a very English punk vibe with smatterings of American underground and 90’s college rock, Steal and Cheat is the band returning to their own neighbourhood of East London and telling tales of the dark underbelly of those familiar streets. This may be the more obvious musical territory based on their mentorship and geographical local but their previous musical canon has already shown them to be a very versatile,  diverse, intriguing and exciting band, so why not.

Early Risers – Soldiers of Fortune (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

516zoF1tOYL._SY300_QL70_Soldiers of Fortune was created to be an anti-band, one that was against the disciplined routines and rules that bands appear to have to adhere to get anywhere. The plan was not to practice, record a record, hit the road or even write a song, the most they aimed for was to be able to play a rare show relying on instinct and band chemistry to assault the public at large. But with the death f guitarist Marc Moore and requests by intrigued fans to find out what was going on in the SOF camp, live shows and studio sessions crept into the picture, a suitable record label was found and a more conventional modus operandi took shape.


Early Risers is the first full-length release and is an uncompromising slab of chaotic freak-rock and heavy blues. This album sounds like a long lost garage band from the late 60’s, a forgotten chapter in the early story of musicians who went on to be household names. From the relentless proto-punk thrash of Nails to the spoken word groove-blues of Santa Monica; it covers a lot of musical territory. From Jon Spencer style punk blues to seminal Zeppelin-esque rock crusades, add a few heavy psychedelic wig outs and plenty of testosterone fuelled, speed freak rock and you sort of have the four corners of their musical shape. If you want to know how they colour that shape in, you are just going to have to listen to the album, trust me you really should.

New Music of The Day: LXXVIII – The Dynamite Pussy Club – Power

11892063_10153480905430138_9059256821738394156_nThe Dynamite Pussy Club veer between some fairly obvious influences, retro-centric rock and roll, industrial strength blues, ranting Elvis tirades and Detroit garage rock. Power is the summation of all of those elements with a slice of 60’s raving counter culture (or possibly under the counter culture) thrown in for good measure. It’s Jim Jones having a nervous breakdown, if anyone could actually tell, it’s Iggy with a BS postcode, it’s what might have happened if Max’s Kansas City had been in Stokes Croft rather than The Lower East Side.

It drips with swagger, attitude and most of all a sense of humour, it shows rock music how to be infectious, pop music how to have teeth, it mixes past influences into a future sound, it plunders openly but manages to build something unique. It’s an odd one I’ll give you that but did you expect anything else from these guys?

The Guitar That Dripped Blood – Brian James (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

BJ_V1601 x 601-508x508Being a small backwater music site it isn’t often that we get to deal with bonafide rock ‘n’ roll icons, so when Brian James latest release turned up in the “to do” pile I was pretty excited about it. For he is quite rightly regarded as a legend, someone who not only has been there and got the tee-shirt, but got there first, re-shaped the musical landscape and probably sold you one of those tee-shirts at some long forgotten back street dive gig, both metaphorically and very likely actually.

From bands such as the short-lived but mythical London SS, through the ranks of The Damned, Lords of The New Church and Mad For The Racket, James has written a number of chapters in the book of punk and underground rock ‘n’roll, so it is only natural that he gathers some of his co-stars from those illustrious annals to help him. With Dead Boys guitarist Cheetah Chrome and Black Halos Adam Becvare helping out James proceeds to do what he does best, incendiary, gutter-trash rock, sleazy punked-out guitar salvos and garage rock anthems.

10 tracks of gloriously uncompromising tunes, often at breakneck speed, loaded with swagger and attitude and delivering the killer punch and showing that he hasn’t forgotten his roots. In an alternative universe this album is the Damned’s debut album, in another it is The Stooges seminal Raw Power. Thankfully in our dimension there is room for all three.

Live a Little Less/ Dreams on Demand – WOMPS (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

10985895_10153006228043017_9157061103054198937_nAs soon as you hear this single one name springs to mind. Albini. It is the perfect calling card for the type of band you associate him with and the sort of sound he gives them through his “as live” production methods. Live a Little Less and it’s B side (do we still have such a thing?) is Nirvana turning into Teenage Fanclub and particularly in the lead tracks case, oddly enough, a touch of The Gin Blossoms thrown in for good measure.

It is garage punk, catching the same pop hookability that Cobain was able to inject into the grunge template, it is raw, wilfully and wonderfully under-produced and basic. Yes, you have heard it all before but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t worth doing again. Wheels don’t need re-inventing, sometimes it is enough to turn a few tricks and leave an unsightly,  indelible mark on the road surface.

This is…… Oscillator

10995634_978191842214934_5460495758836854138_nOscillator exist at the impact point of a three way collision between punk, new wave and garage rock. Punk provides the verve and energy, the directness and the swagger of the songs but this is tempered by the clean lines and the melody garnered from the explosion of creation of the “what punk did next” years. The curve ball here is the scuzzy and intentionally loose guitar lines, evidence of a band who have been at this game for a long time and who don’t need to bolt everything down too finely, experience and the understanding of the concept of music as a spontaneous process being their tools of the trade. And on a personal note, anyone who can enter the hallowed ground of Tom Waits and turn one of his most famous songs into a garage rock classic that never was, is good in my book.

New Music of the Day – LV: Skint – Sewer Rats

image001Fluffer Records, the visceral London based label that not only bought us a host of unforgettable live music nights featuring the likes of Slaves, God Damn, Cerebral Balzy and Bad For Lazarus, but are also responsible for recorded output of garage-punk duo Love Buzzard, have proudly announced the release of their newest signing, Sewer Rats

 Their vinyl EP, ‘Money Maker’, is released on July 27th and marks over a year of searching for the perfect band to follow up Love Buzzard’s latest release. Expectation is high as these upstarts continue to make waves in the London live music circuit and, having come across the three piece in a disused Grimsby Fish Market, we’re promised a live show like nothing else. Sewer Rats are the real deal, uncontainable attitude collides head-on with chorus hooks full of genuine rock swagger and grit. Transcendental psychedelic jams follow beer soaked crowd surfing and riotous noise-outs. 

 This EP release captures so much more than just their live shows too, conveying the energy there, raw passion and noise. It also showcases the staggering musicianship the boys can muster, 20 years old and channelling a range of the greats from The Doors to Motörhead. ‘Money Maker’ opens with the aptly named ‘Skint’, a beat driven blues dirge with doom breakdowns and guitars that rip and roar like muddied chainsaws. Bruce Campbell facing off an Army of Darkness.

 ‘Devil Blues’ brings forward more psychedelic guitars and sinister, other-worldly double vocals before ‘Black Label Serotonin’ breaks up the speed-core with cleaner, acid-soaked psych. Here we’re left to bake in the sun, lifted away momentarily before a wall of feedback has us crash down to earth joined by the pounding drums and fierce riffs of ‘Moneymaker’

 The EP closer, ‘So Far Away’, impresses with Americana hard rock melodies and harsh vocals to rival Lemmy himself. Shredding, classic guitar solos battle against Sabbath-esc, drawn out chords leaving us in many ways as their live shows do, eager for more and desperate for another hit. 

Banks of The Lea – Stiv Cantarelli and the Silent Strangers (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

10678697_751288244927631_403464658942717839_nI have to admit that I’m a bit late coming to the party on this one, but I’m more than making up for it now. And what a party it is. Banks of the Lea, the bands second album, was released towards the end of last year and the template set out by their debut Black Music/White Music is not only explored in greater depth here, it is thrashed to within an inch of its life.

Throughout its 10 tracks it meanders through the underbelly of rock and roll, borrowing a Stones lick here, referencing the Thunders swagger there and revelling in a sneering punk approach that seemingly reveres the genre and tries to obliterate it at the same time. Its garage rock feel reminds us what’s really important, attitude rather intricacies, groove rather than grandiose statements. And if in the wrong hands such a blending of blues, country and rock might result in a pastiche of The Eagles or worse…Dr Hook, Stiv and the boys know just which dark and sleazy elements to use to create their wrong side of the tracks music, how to infuse it with an illicit danger and the feeling that you could do with a shower after listening to the album.

When in full swing, augmented by soaring saxophones and driven on by thundering pub-rock piano, there is a touch of The Jim Jones Revue about the band, never a bad thing to have levelled at you. When opting for a more traditional blues vibe they still manage to make it sound more savage and threatening than anything that has gone before. It is the soundtrack to back street brawls, gloomy squats and basement shooting galleries, to strip joints, abandoned tenement blocks and street corner hustlers.

It is a wonderful collision of the dark heart of America, its hidden pulse, its forgotten and unacknowledged backbeat, all set to music by a bunch of Italian country-punks and recorded in the British pub rock heartland, no wonder it doesn’t sound like anything you have heard before.

Give Us a Minute – Them Dead Beats (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

11055264_1609433129292050_6826700420586060190_nI have to be honest and say that conventional electric blues has always left me cold. At one extreme indulgent guitar noodling topped and tailed by tried and tested song structures, at the other musicians singing about how tough they had it on the streets and a limo parked round the back of the venue. There has, however, been a wonderful re-invention of the genre in recent years by bands such as Bite The Buffalo, The Greasy Slicks and Blindman’s Bastion that has seen it blown apart with an infusion of garage band swagger, punk attitude and scuzzy re-invention. Now you can add Them Dead Beats to that list.


Like their contemporaries mentioned above, they have taken the heart of the genre, the mechanics and the soul of the music and injected it with a dose of steroids, speed and industrial strength lager to create a break away movement which, whilst tipping its hat to the music that gave it birth, expresses itself in much more muscular, ragged and raging terms.


Them Dead Beats are what might have happened if punk had originated in New Orleans in the fifties or if Robert Johnson had gone to a London art college in the mid seventies, a glorious glimpse of alternative history and a wonderful hybrid of genres, places and times. On the surface you could argue that it is hardly breaking new ground, but I disagree. It is not by storming barricades that change happens, it is by re-energising existing formats, by running genres headlong into each other and seeing what survives the fallout and also by not being too reverential about your chosen musical field. They say familiarity breeds contempt. Good!

The Pageant – The Recordists (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

a1191632033_16The Recordists are on a boom or bust trajectory, happy with either total world domination or total destruction, that’s just the way it should be. Bands can spend too long over-thinking their music or doing their growing up behind closed doors when all they should be doing is putting themselves out their, fighting or falling for what they believe in. After all why did we swap the musical gang mentality for NVQ’s in band performance? I didn’t vote for it and I suspect neither did The Recordists.

And before you say that you have heard it all before, of course you have, the punk-grunge-garage rock model isn’t one that requires constant rethinking, just occasional subversion and a succession of torch bearers to keep the flame alive, it is all about the attitude and the sucker-punch delivery rather than a po-faced art attack. The Pageant sees them channelling the dark underbelly of 90’s college rock back through Max’s Kansas City’s 70’s punk and the vibe of Lenny Kaye’s Legendary Nuggets compilation and why not, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

All things Recordists found HERE

New Music of The Day – XXVII : Black Flag – Du Blonde

DuBlonde_AliceBaxleylores.161225There was no better statement of intent to Du Blonde’s new sound and direction than the snarling first single ‘Black Flag’. Now Beth Jeans Houghton is ready to reveal the accompanying video filmed out at Joshua Tree in the Mojave desert, with help from her mother Christine Jeans who was behind the camera.

“We filmed the footage in 40 degree heat while we played Beyonce out of the car stereo. A lot of the record is written about situations and people in Los Angeles so it made sense to incorporate the scenery in which a lot of those stories played out.” reveals Houghton, who edited and directed the video herself.

‘Black Flag’, like much of the forthcoming album Welcome Back To Milk, was produced by Bad Seed and Grinderman member Jim Sclavunos. The album is released on 18 May on Mute, followed by a UK tour in June. Welcome Back To Milk will be available on vinyl, CD, download and cassette, alongside special pre-order packages (go to for the full list) which include signed copies, various different artworks and Beth will even design you a tattoo for you, if you want!

4 Jun – LONDON 100 CLUB –

Get Off The Good Foot – Charlton Lane (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

0004664649_10Bristol has been the breeding ground for many a musical movement over the years, from 90’s trip-hop through to its current, prominent wave of post-rock. For me though one of the most interesting sub-genres that seems to be slowly coalescing is formed at a point where garage rock and electro-pop are colliding head on. Already aware of the wonderful New York, no-wave distortions of Candy Darling and the industrial, grunge-goth of Nasty Little Lonely, I can now add to that small movement, the man who goes by the name of Charlton Lane.

Taking hypnotic and claustrophobic beats as a frame he adds jagged garage guitars, scuzzy punked out blues riffs and krautrock experimentation and the result is a gonzoid, splatter-gun take on electro voodoo blues, driven by deep grooves and programmed beats. And it’s glorious. Glorious in it’s ambition, its audaciousness, the way that it finds the coolest musical references from disparate parts of the musical canon and throws them all together to see what holds tight (and then uses a metaphorical hammer to force the rest into it’s designated place.)

As a one man outfit, I’m not sure how this translates to the live show, but then just look at the musical approach of Vienna Ditto and the things you can do with a pile of home made electronic kit, a roll of gaffer tape and a strange musical vision. Even if the full force of the recordings fail to materialise in the live arena, I have a suspicion that Charlton Lane’s failings would still be a much better prospect that many bands runaway successes.

The Lucid Dream – The Lucid Dream (Holy Are You? Recordings) reviewed by Dave Franklin

10172666_10150447101449990_4487861192077985122_nOnce you get past a certain age, the cyclical nature of music means that bands begin to reference the sounds and styles that you revelled in as a younger man. For a while now I have noticed a bit of post-punk posturing here and some shoegazing there, as younger bands plunder their parents record collections…which also turns out to be my record collection too.


And if that is true The Lucid Dreams eponymous, sophomore album is a scattergun salvo of the best bits of my old vinyl collection, nostalgic hat tips to a wide range of genres all wrapped up in a forward thinking noise pop shell. Squalling, reverb-soaked guitars dance over a dark, doom-pop canvas, expansive space-rock majesty dovetails into trippy psychedelia but all the time this musical experimentation never detracts from the solid song structure and melody. This is no cosmic wig-out or acid fuelled hippy dream time, far from it, this is a band that are able to bare their musical teeth, create edgy, brooding and slightly uncomfortable music but still make it desirable. Or to but it into everyday terms, this is the album that your mother warned you about.


The band have chosen a very apt name as their music often seems to be channelling a limbo state, an otherworldly realm through heavy sonorous washes, cascading walls of sound and distorted musical landscapes. It is sometimes gothic but without the comic book clichés, post-punk in its redefinitions of what is possible, it puts shoegaze sensibilities through a garage rock shredder and what emerges is a brilliant splicing of past and future. Those, like me, who were there after punk had opened the doors to a decade of new genres being defined will reveal in the familiarity of the sounds being juggled here. Younger music fans will appreciate a band making music which strides confidently into a glorious future, but everyone will recognise that this is a very important album both for the music it contains and the course it charts for others to follow.

Wrap Up – False-heads (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

securedownloadSomehow, False-heads have the ability to write songs that represent every disenfranchised musical subset in history…well, a fair slice of them anyway. In a whisker over four minutes Wrap Up manages to embrace the sneering punk, slick haired rock and roller and misunderstood grunger. The brutal riffs will speak to metalheads and the brooding undertones are a place even the estranged goth can find solace. Call it what you will this is garage rock at its finest.

The very riffs speak attitude, the lyrics drip bile and the whole package seems to be a vehicle for the dark underbelly of every musical outsider since the clock was first rocked around. It’s a wonderful skill to have, to be able to take every disinherited idea, every discarded and ignored, non-conformist expression music has ever turned its commercial minded back on and forge them into an all embracing, all uniting anthem, but False-heads manage to do it with ease.

New Music of The Day – XX : Valentine – Alice and The Lovers

aatl-website-headerNewcomers Alice & the Lovers are set to release their debut single, ‘Valentine’ on February 14th via Shaking All Over Records. The four-piece, currently residing in East London, consist of songwriter Alice Offley, her sister Amy and Rio Tasia on guitar, and Rosie Lefevre on drums.

Swindon-born Alice had been brought up on classic records and piano playing. Claiming that her musical influences go far back into classic pop history, she cites various retro country starts, such as Elvis and Loretta Lynn, as her personal influences, and started the band in her bedroom ‘as a producer wanting to recreate the old girl group sound’.

Alice & the Lovers manage to combine the sounds of grungy, female-fronted garage bands like Hole and Garbage, with a 50’s country-esque twist. Check out the video for ‘Valentine’ below:


Fuel Yer Delusion – Vol. 4 – Mutts (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

10407206_980867475272932_5738415583179514507_nWriting exclusively about your own local music scene can be a stifling experience. Still, you have to pay the bills somehow. You review one band or write about a particular venue and another accuses you of favouritism, you pick one gig to recommend and someone else shouts words like nepotism or clique (though they probably spell it click.) I’m not going to go as far as to reference the biblical “ a prophet is not without honour, except in his hometown” metaphor, but I do think that “familiarity breeds contempt” is not without relevance. So it is always a pleasure when the Muses (thinly disguised as a Minneapolis based PR company) take pity on a broken down scribbler and deliver a much-needed distraction from another continent and a much more appreciative music scene. The fact that the album in question just happens to sound like Tom Waits fronting a Wild and The Innocent… era E-Street Band playing backwards R’n’B tunes in a blender, is merely an added bonus.


It takes only one listen of the first conventional song of the album Everyone is Everyone for me to wonder – for a band with yearly gigging schedule in triple figures and this, their 4th album, following in the wake of some serious tour supports (Imagine Dragons, Maps & Atlases) and much critical acclaim, how have I only just found them? Oh well, no harm no foul, I’m fully on board now.


These 13 tracks explore the themes of contentment, chasing an alternate American Dream, moments of clarity, moments of failure and wanders between sly social commentary and heartfelt and earnest lyrical waxing’s. Musically it is a wonderful hybrid of sounds, as if they have taken the last 40 years of western music and conducted a hideous operation, dissected the patient and then reassembled it again into a wonderful musical chimera, one that you are simultaneously slightly repulsed and confused by but at the same time you find mesmerising and beautiful.


This is high octane rhythm and blues meets garage rock meets funk meets…well anything they feel like from boogie-woogie to an occasional strange late night jazz vibe, psych, pop and grunge, all the time being led into battle by squalling keyboards, acid laced organ and punk-blues piano.


Imagine a world where The MC5 had been made Ministers of Culture, this band would be their thought police.

Gold Phoenix EP – Gold Phoenix. (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

10461444_1499545396950623_1170230573868767769_nThe other day I was asked why a local gig guide I write never featured any blues artists. As I reeled off a number of live shows that featured bands with blues elements that I had written about, the reply in each case was “that isn’t blues, that’s rock” or something similarly dismissive. In hindsight I realise that it was the age-old case of a blue purest and someone with a wider generic brief trying to find common ground. Never going to happen. To me blues should be dark and dirty, earthy and emotive, raw and if required, raucous. Just like Gold Phoenix. Admittedly they make blues in the same way people like The Jim Jones Revue make blues or like the MC5 made rock and it is in just such a primordial stew that this 5 track EP has been steeped.


A snarling soundclash of balls to the wall, riotous rock and roll and thrashed out blues grooves, the result feels like an unreconstructed gang of tearaways that might have been making music at any time since “teenage music” first arrived in the 1950’s to terrify parents everywhere. If you want a quick taster of the scope of the band then Mortal Man, the song that closes the e.p. says as much about Gold Phoenix as you will need, a slow burning, emotive paean to the limitations of the human condition and one that eventually burns out in it’s own intense blaze of glory.


All the other songs sit somewhere along that same grunged blues – garage rock axis, swinging one way then the other but being fully aware of what they do best and sticking to the formula. And that said it’s a formula that has served contemporary music well for the last sixty years so why look to change it now, especially when you can still use it to turn out songs that are this great, this raw, this brutally down to earth. I thought that The Greasy Slicks were  the only young band not ashamed to take all the things that, in my non-purest opinion, made blues great, but I can now add Gold Phoenix to the short list.

Solar Collector – The Myrrors (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

a0111852443_10“It is audaciously psychedelic and sonically estranged. It is hypnotic almost to the point of being repetitive, but only almost! It somehow manages to take the cold robotics of Krautrock (think Neu! or Can in their less jazz fuelled wig-outs) and re-invents them through a warm drug filled haze liberally drawing in swampy blues, acid-rock, cosmic jamming, garage experimentation and the music of choirs of angels strung out on Peyote.”

Read the full article at The Sense of Doubt site HERE

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