Saturday, 27 January 2018

Fire! - The Hands, album review

R Music


Mats Gustafsson, Johan Berthling and Andreas Werliin 

Hands Music 36

Friday, 26 January 2018

Black Label Society - Grimmest Hits, album review

Hot Stew and Limoncello

I do like this for its pulverising persistence and occasional Zakk Wylde ballad where prettiness is not by contrast and carried on such macho beauty. There are plenty of Sabbath/Ozzy echoes in the vocal and the riffs [check out the pulsing strut on Bury Your Sorrow], and this is no surprise considering their working together, that’s Wylde and Osbourne, and Wylde’s tribute band Zakk Sabbath. But Black Label Society is distinctive enough, and beyond its heavy metal tropes, with scorching guitar solos and effects to modernise. All That Once Shined is grunged to much heavy sweetness and this leads in to the first blackened croon of ballad The Only Words which then leads to the Room of Nightmares where heaviness reasserts itself. Just another note on the other ballad The Day That Heaven Had Gone Away – like the guitar work and vocal harmonies here. The whole album is like a basic but hotly spiced stew with limoncello aperitif breaks. 

Monday, 22 January 2018

Indian Puddin' & Pipe - Indian Puddin' & Pipe, album review

Fleeting but Feeling Like Fun

This collection from Indian Puddin’ & Pipe [West Coast Natural Gas] from 1969 is a convincing showcase of what a great band they were and could have continued to be. Their sound is informed by rousing rockjazz elements but also gentle harmony-infused vocals, most notably on the eleven minutes of Spirit where horns, sax and a fine lead coalesce in sweeping layers and then catch up and dance within rowdier vocals.

Opener Morning Glory has sunshine pop echoes but this too breaks out into some rumbustious jazz, the saxophones leading the way and into more exuberant, complex vocals – Beach Boys on speed sort of thing, the demo-recording nature of it all [we hear studio chat throughout the album] adding a sense of live creativity. This very same is continued into next A Penny, hearing just a little of Mothers of Invention in the vocal playfulness. A stand-out is Shadowlarks that opens with a BS&Ts orchestration which premiers the fine playing, and the melody is conventional rock until this breaks into some quite pretty choral singing. Again complex without being overly-so/pretentious. The return to a jazzrock instrumental is excellent with some Chicago-esqure horn here too. Mr Blue has a wonderfully raw ensemble singing that just sounds like fun.

The final track on the original 2005 release is Planetary Song and this continues the rich vocal, especially that of Lydia Mareno. A further four tracks are added to this 2017 release and these reflect again the vibrant psyche-pop of early Bay Area music. The band:

Steve "Warthog" Jackson - Bass, Vocals
Barry Lewis - Drums
Dennis Lanigan - Alto Sax, Piano, Vocals
Rex Larsen - Guitar, Vocals
Rick Quintanal - Drums
David Savage - Trumpet
Jack Ellis - Trombone
Lydia Moreno - Vocals

Into the Distance Music 69

Saturday, 20 January 2018

Glen Hansard - Between Two Shores, album review


This is a sophisticated, polished album, from the horn-dressed ballad of Wreckless Heart, to the bass-caressed funk and psyche and rock orchestration of great opener Roll on Slow, to the pop funk of Wheels on Fire, and to another plaintive, organ and horns rousing ballad of Why Woman. Hansard’s vocal, as on Movin’ On, is emotively gritty, as well as gentle for the fullest range of shades like the sweet Setting Forth, strings here assisting perfectly as are all the instrumental/production judgements – listen to the horn intro for Lucky Man, organ here another constant fine feature.

I could write as closely and positively for every other track. If you like this kind of music, it is perfection.