The 10 most popular posts of the year.

Everyone else is doing it so why not I. This end of year round up is one based purely on statistical factors, i.e. the most reader hits on the post, the idea of my personal preference is a moot point as I tend to only write about music that I really like so if you made the site it means I already like your work. Think of me less as a critic but more a champion of new, underground and slightly off the radar music. As the by-line says, “rescuing musical virtue in distress.”

 

10. Guard Down – Salute the Sun

10846314_358156134309199_3971624639670358907_n“Overall, the five tracks on offer are put together in an almost mini-concept sort of way, building, for me at any rate, a sense of being at a club gig over a whole night, starting with funky upbeat energy, through intense atmospherics, and on into end-of-night chill out. I like an album that sounds like it’s been put together with some sort of narrative. It’s old-school, like recordings used to be before the age of the “shuffle” button.”

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9. Broken Hip – Echo Boom Generation

10959674_405221096319140_3170334261304849129_n“Big riffs, solid grooves and break-neck deliveries abound and yes, you can hear some of the classic moves in there but think of this as the logical conclusion of an evolutionary line that started with the likes of Led Zeppelin and ends somewhere near Royal Blood. But the bottom line is that this video has just about everything that todays rock scene needs. Anyone who doesn’t fall in love with this band immediately will just cause my opinion of todays rock fan to fall even further.”

Read/Watch Here

8. After All The Wishing – Jim Johnston

10671375_793096057412980_7221351230385609334_n-1“If Voyage… was the sound of blues and psychedelia meeting in a cold, clinical embrace in a disused dockside somewhere along the Severn Estuary, this is the sound of David Bowie scoring the bleak worlds of Bret Easton Ellis’ novels and Damien Moran’s hypnotic narrative that threads it’s way between, around and through the songs immediately puts you in mind of Diamond Dogs spoken opening salvo.”

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7. Mystery Glue – Graham Parker and The Rumour

mystery_glue-33249667-frntl“Reminiscent of the more casual moments of their earlier career and imbued with a more Dylan-esque vibe in places, the original line up shows that they still have what it takes and if at times you can hear a chilled out Springsteen, a balladeering Elvis Costello and any number of punk and post punk templates, it is because Graham and the boys were often the source material, the unwitting patrons to a generation of musicians that would go on to redefine music.”

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6. Change, Nothing To Lose – L.A. Davis

12408869-la-davis-change-nothing-to-lose“Shards of electronica pierce a shimmering guitar line as shuffling drums drive the dynamic. But it is Davis voice than makes this stand apart from other pop prodigy’s. His soulful and gravely tones come as a welcome change (pun intended) from the chirping pop crooners that we currently are being presented with.”

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5. Prospero – Alasca

18269_10155236619385300_333489058529746417_n“But even within this late 60’s tinged underground melting pot of lush west coast country rock and poignant Newport folk festival vibes, other musical flavours keep you guessing, the mariachi trumpets of In Media Res that kick the album off, seedy and archaic, bar-room piano, the anthemic spaghetti western twang that is The Prophet, bluesy introspection and lyrics that could go toe to toe with Cohen or Waits in their subject matters and messages, name-checking Rimbauld and Shakespeare along the way.”

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4. Baby 126 – Ruby Confue

11118053_920625011322019_934685032983518008_n“Baby 126 sounds like distilled essence of summer, joyous dance grooves and brazen brass blend with street soul choruses and blasts of Shakespeare re-imagined as a hip-hop act to produce a brilliant and totally infectious feel good, future classic.”

 

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3. Fearless – Kat Perkins

20140923__140926wl-ross_kat_300“If Fearless is the song that has real mainstream potential, existing as it does in a place cool enough for the serious rock fraternity and accessible enough for the chart aficionados, it is the inclusion of a cover of Hearts early classic, Barracuda, that really speaks volumes. Anyone who can not only capture that early Ann Wilson vocal but at the same time make the song their own is someone that you have to take notice of.”

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2. Blind Faith – Black

blindfaith“Prophets may be without honour in their own land, profits may also be similarly elusive, but I think that anything that compromises the outstandingly gorgeous music that Colin Vearncombe makes under the name Black, is something the world can do without.”

 

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1. 10 Gig Etiquette Failures

Members of the audience take pictures on their mobile phones during a set by British singer-songwriter James Blunt who is performing a concert in Beirut, Lebanon, Monday June 27, 2011. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

Although I only posted this article yesterday, it has proven so popular that it has gone to the number one spot overnight, I guess it must contain things that everyone can recognize from going to gigs, both amongst the audience around them and if we are honest, probably ourselves.

 

Read Here

 

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Trial and Triumph – The Manic Shine (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

11707575_10152959990359290_8393345165796491056_nThere are a handful of bands at the moment that are injecting new life into the tried, tested and frankly long due for an overhaul rock and roll format. Whilst the rock fraternity seems to either be fixated on tributes to its own formative years and uttering sentiments such as “bands don’t rock like that any more” or current big live fixtures which require the exchange of a two bedroom, home counties, semi-detached for a ticket, a small but potent movement has formed largely unseen with its ranks. Bands such as The Manic Shine, Echo Boom Generation and Suzerain are wilfully storming barricades and heading off into a glorious new sunrise for the genre with only the slightest of reinventions.

On this, their third album, the band continue to trade in a rich, dense sound and although they embrace all that the modern age has to offer in terms of technology, studio production and equipment, at the end of the day they stay true to the spirit of rock and roll. It’s a sound built on big riffs, accessible, soaring, melody driven songs, deep-rooted grooves and thunderous backbeats. In short it’s a big show just waiting for its turn to be unleashed on the big stage.

But big songs are not just about making a noise, anyone can do that, the selling point here is the layering of the instrumentation, for even when they are put together with byzantine complexity, there seems to be room for everything to have it’s own moment in the spotlight. Nobody seems to step on anybody else’s toes; dynamics rise and fall, built from subtle break downs, soaring vocals or euphoric guitar lines, past-referencing bass interludes or mood shifting drum patterns. A glorious celebration of what modern rock music can be. The less is more years are behind us, if done correctly, and this is, more is more is definitely the way forward.

They are a band who have worked out that the wheel doesn’t need re-inventing, it just needs a clean up, re-treading and some fancy rims then taken out for a spin to leave some indelible and unsightly marks all over the road, possibly invoking an angry letter to the local newspaper. Hang on, it is going to be one hell of a ride.

Echo Boom Generation, Flowerpot and Gelato at The Victoria, Swindon 20th Aug ‘15 (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

10426241_363412350500015_1539345075956007729_nGetting people out to watch original music on a Thursday night in Swindon is always a challenging proposition and doing it with a bill of bands who are all from out of town might be seen as irresponsible. But the ethic behind the Songs of Praise promoters, whose night this is, is one of “it’s the show I’d want to go to so maybe there are enough like-minded people around who feel the same to make it work.” Debatable.

As openers Gelato, kicked into their set, it quickly became obvious that there was a phenomenon at work here known as The Callum Green Factor. Normally found drumming with the headliners but tonight also sitting in for their London mates, the fact that Callum is originally from Swindon had brought quite a few people along which meant that the normally sparse first band crowd looked pretty healthy.

Gelato sit at a musical crossroads, or more likely the point of impact in a collision between punk and grunge, stoner and garage rock and as such weave between big desert rock anthems and short, sharp, incendiary shocks, subtle pulsing bass led post punk and anything that lies between, peppered with the always entertaining between song chat of Drew constantly trying to sell us on the idea that the more reserved bassist Phil was the star of the show. As a fellow bassist of course I am going to agree with that.

Flowerpot found themselves in the difficult position of having booked a tour and then lost their lead vocalist but from the way guitarist Louisa Baker took on the extra duties you wouldn’t have guessed that this three-piece version wasn’t the regular set up. And these girls can rock it with the best of them, like Gelato before them, shifting with ease between genres – spikey riot grrrl aggression, intricate classic rock solos and 90’s college rock inspired alt-indie melodies.

It was during their set that an incident, which showed the problem new music, faces in towns such as Swindon, took place. Having nipped to the top bar to replenish my drink I was talking to a couple of lads who had picked up on the fact that Flowerpot had just launched into a cover of Smells Like Teen Spirit and were thinking of going down to check the music out. Two things in their minds, however, seem to be an issue. Firstly they were unsure if they wanted to see a band that did original music and were hoping for some Foo Fighters covers (it does seem that David Grohl may have recently overtaken Buddhism as the 4th largest religion in the world) and secondly they wouldn’t believe me that it was three young girls making such a wonderful racket. (Viv Albertine would be spinning in her grave, if she weren’t of course very much alive.)

It is also worth noting that during Louisa’s calls for a dance competition down the front the hardest grooving participants were actually Emma and Linda from Echo Boom Generation, no pre-gig solitude or stoic rituals for them, just an attitude of “let’s get the party started, right here, right now.” It’s a party that they took to even greater heights when they took the stage.

It’s a sad fact that rock music in a culturally narrow town such as this is often limited to classic rock tributes and NWOBHM era cover bands and there are normally very specific criteria for people attending. 1. They are related to or work with one of the band members. 2. They know they are going to get a murdered rendition of Breaking The Law or worse…Sex On Fire. 3. They are the sort of people who say things such as “ music was better when I was younger” “ I know the music I like and stick to that” or “I don’t have time to listen to any new music.” But surely there was a time when all of those bands and all those records were new to you and you were hungry for more? Where did it all go wrong?

Echo Boom Generation are quite simply the future of rock and roll. It’s a cliché I know but if you want a high octane show of killer tunes, big riffs, bigger beats, audience participation choruses and dirty grooves then it’s all there. Isn’t that rock and roll in a nutshell? And whilst taking and re-using all the things that traditionally made rock so great, they do so in forward looking, of the here and now, sort of way. They may tip their hats to the past but they are racing into the future. It also helps that they are three of the most watchable performers ever to grace the stage. Admittedly Callum on his second gig of the night might be flagging a bit but the ear-to-ear smile is still in place and he is still giving it his all. Then again you would be smiling if you were keeping beat for the hottest front line on the circuit…performance wise, musically, in terms of cool and any other way you want to interpret it.

Singer/guitarist Linda Buratto is all hair and rock pose, a whirling dervish of attitude and swagger, everything you want your bands focal point to be whilst bassist Emma Hughes is all lace and barefooted boogie, joining in often ironically on the rock ‘n’ roll theatrics but holding down some tight and dexterous bass runs whilst constantly jiving away, both girls continuing the party they started in the audience during the support acts.

The set ends and it almost feels that there is a void left in the room, an implosion after all that energy has dissipated, the house music kicks in with some cool track, but it isn’t the same. This is how you should feel after a gig, used, abused, put through an emotional meat grinder and spat out the other side to be re-assembled but never quite the same, slightly lost and totally elated. Still there is only one thing to do…go and have a few drinks with the band and count the days until you do it all again.

For all those people who say that nothing ever happens in town, or are just happy to follow the same few tried and tested local circuit bands out of habit, misguided loyalty or laziness, I will say this. Something great did just happen, something very fucking great, a taste of the future of rock music …but if you prefer to sit at home with your Game of Thrones box set or go to watch your brother–in-laws cover band for the 18th time, the future isn’t the place for you anyway. Boom!

New Music of The Day – XXXVII : Broken Hip – Echo Boom Generation

10959674_405221096319140_3170334261304849129_nJudging by the size and nature of the CD pile and inbox links that greet me as I sat down at my desk this morning, anyone who reaches for those go to cliches, such as “guitar music has had its day” or “rock music is dead” or the old favourite of “music was better in my day”  is clearly a moron (or a classic rock dinosaur who still thinks that The Foo Fighters are cutting edge.) Having moved on from The Recordists excellent garage rock work out, I was pointed in the direction of another muscular slice of attitude and raucousness. London three-piece Echo Boom Generation take all the things beloved of the aforementioned CRD (I’m sure that is going to become a “thing” now, at least amongst the scribblings of this site) and re-package them for a new, hipper, rock underground. Big riffs, solid grooves and break-neck deliveries abound and yes, you can hear some of the classic moves in there but think of this as the logical conclusion of an evolutionary line that started with the likes of Led Zeppelin and ends somewhere near Royal Blood. But the bottom line is that this video has just about everything that todays rock scene needs. Anyone who doesn’t fall in love with this band immediately will just cause my opinion of todays rock fan to fall even further.

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