HARROLAND – Single Review: “Brothers”

Harroland

I first featured British alternative indie-rock band Harroland this past February upon the release of their single “Home” (read my review here), the first in a series of releases planned for 2019. The single received airplay on BBC Radio’s Introducing program, and the band is quickly gaining a large following, already being dubbed the ‘Best New Band’ in the Reading area. They’re now back with a wonderful new single “Brothers“, which officially dropped on June 21st.

Based in Reading, England, Harroland is comprised of siblings Michael (vocals, rhythm guitar) and Kate Kennedy (synths, keyboards, backing vocals), Steve Tabor (lead guitar), and drummer Stu Roberts, who joined the band in March. “Brothers” is the band’s first release under the current lineup. They express their social and political consciousness through compelling, relevant lyrics, and package them with gorgeous soundscapes that make for a pleasing listening experience.

Whereas “Home” addressed those intent on holding onto their own power while disregarding the hopes and dreams of others, “Brothers” explores the concept of people choosing to live their lives under invisible power structures that offer a false sense of freedom. Michael Kennedy explains: “It’s this idea that maybe we forgo our own desires for the safety of working within a corporate environment – that we are unlikely to take risks or take command of our own lives. What would happen if we did the opposite? Is such a life, for the average person, sustainable, or even possible?

“Brothers” is a stunning track, with an irresistibly catchy tempo and glorious instrumentals. The band plays as a tight unit, each member performing their part with perfection to create a song of exceptional quality. Steve’s guitar work is fantastic, and Stu does a stellar job pounding out the captivating beat. Kate’s dreamy keyboards are a thing of beauty, and I love how they interplay with Steve’s chiming guitar. Michael deftly keeps the rhythm with his strummed guitar, but a highlight for me are his distinctive vocals, which I find utterly enchanting. I love this song, and have listened to it at least 20 times already!

We can fantasize about everything we do
Take it back, take it back right now
Don’t tell me it ain’t true
And hold it straight
Line it up and let it loose
Lap it up, lap it up right now
There’s nothing else to choose

We can compromise
Change our jobs and trade our lives
No matter what I think, someone’s in charge of mine
I can calculate
That even if I was to leave
I’d have a freedom
That lacks security

Maybe we’re like brothers rolling across this land or
Maybe we’re like someone else in somebody else’s hands

The video for the song is a live performance by Harroland at Pyramid Studios in Reading, which they won in a competition run by the studio. It was filmed by local photographer Victoria Holt and edited by Kate Kennedy. The track was mixed and mastered by sound engineer Jack Twiner, who’s a co-owner of Pyramid Studios.

Connect with Harroland on Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream on Spotify / Apple Music

SABOTEURS – Album Review: “Dance With the Hunted”

Saboteurs album art

Saboteurs is a rock band from Lincoln, England who (in their own words) “play trans-genre songs about badgers, constellations and other things which creep into our lives during the night.” Fusing elements of alt-rock, grunge, post-punk, metal and folk, they create hard-hitting music that thrills and surprises our ears and minds.  Like many a band, they’ve experienced some personnel changes since forming, and now consist of Ben Ellis (lead vocals/guitar), Rick Whitehead (lead guitar/vocals), Kirsty Marlog (backing vocals), Geoff Standeven (bass), and Pete Botterill (drums), although for the album Dance With the Hunted, drums and percussion were performed by Hamish Dickinson, who also handled production, mixing and mastering.

The band released their self-titled debut EP Saboteurs in 2018, immediately attracting a growing base of fans and recognition by BBC Introducing, as well as being named Richer Sound’s Artist of the Week and finalists in Radio Wigwam’s Rock Act of the Year. But shoulder surgery for lead guitarist Whitehead led to unrest in the band and, ultimately, a violent split with the rhythm section. This caused the band’s songwriters Ellis and Whitehead to sink into a dark place, which actually provided them with needed impetus for an explosion of new material that would become their first full album Dance With the Hunted, which dropped on May 4th.

The opening track “Splintered” reveals the intensity of their feelings while writing the songs for the album. The biting lyrics speak to a bitter breakup of a relationship, delivered by Ellis’ fiery vocals: “The pain – I dedicate our loss to you. The shame will never end but I’m coping on my own. The ones I left behind – they just fade out. If I fall down, I won’t stay down. If you fall down, you will stay down.” The roiling riffs of grungy guitars, pulsating bass and thunderous drums are fantastic.

Next up is “Over and Doubt“, a moody but gorgeous track that leaves no doubt that these guys know a thing or two about crafting superb songs with the power to inspire and move the listener. And I’ll state right here how much I love Ellis’ vocals, which in addition to his and Whitehead’s spectacular guitar work, are one of the strong points of Saboteurs’ overall sound. He’s one of the best rock vocalists around today, in my opinion, with an incredible tone and range that give him the ability to comfort us one moment, then chill us to the bone the next. When he plaintively wails “Please stay with me, over and over again!“, we really believe him. On this track he sounds a lot like Steve Kilbey of The Church. Musically, the song features a complex, ever-changing melody that keeps us enthralled from start to finish, and the guitar work is outstanding. It’s one of my favorite tracks on the album.

The dark and moody vibe continues with “Believe Nothing Hurts“, but presented here with an exhilarating fast-paced rhythm and chugging riffs of gnarly guitars. Ellis angrily snarls the searing lyrics condemning someone for their duplicity: “This time, believe nothing hurts. Oh, your lies. As they come in they’re drowning now in your own sweet precious melody of lies.” “Break Down” is a lovely, incredibly melodic song with a 1990s vibe that, to my ears, calls to mind songs by the Goo Goo Dolls, Gin Blossoms and Deep Blue Something. The strummed guitar is a great addition, providing a wonderful added texture of sound. The backing vocal choruses by Miles Kent and Kirsty Marlog are especially nice.

Marooned” is a big, arena-worthy track, with lush, layered guitars and a torrent of bombastic percussion. But it’s the deep, pulsating bass that plays a starring role here, giving the song a massive U2 vibe. In fact, Ellis’ vocals sound a bit like Bono on this and a few other tracks. He passionately sings of emotional hurt that can never be undone: “Broken red skies are endless. The reason I guess why you left me here. They look like the old wounds you can’t suture. They are the scars of time.” On the poignant, hard-rocking “I Think My Face Hates Me“, Ellis sings of his feelings of hopelessness: “I’ve been lying on the floor just eating time. Pretending there’s no light behind my eyes. I’m going home or I’m going down. Every day I am reborn in the skin I’ve had before.

The guys keep delivering compelling lyrics and killer riffs with “One Track Mind“. The protagonist acknowledges his need to change his ways: “What would it take to be the better man? To say, ‘Yes, I can – I’ll never let you down’. Constant mistakes – pathetic apologies. Want to effect a change and make it alright.” But then he bitterly resigns himself to the fact that while he’s the one who must change “I kill the doubt inside and learn to play your game.“, others will not: “You all stay the same.

The title track “Dance With the Hunted” is about a rock star whose fame has not brought the happiness and contentment he’d hoped for. Instead, he lives a miserable, self-destructive life: “The spotlight I always craved keeps pulling me back but there’s no light behind these eyes./  Is art ever worth the pain? To watch you die on centre stage for fifteen minutes of shame.The disappointment never ends.

Traces” is one the darkest tracks on the album, with trace elements (no pun intended) of metal, giving it a heavier vibe. The song opens with a mesmerizing guitar riff, then expands with a powerful melange of intricate guitars, throbbing bass and hammering drums. The lyrics speak of someone tortured by their past and possible mental illness, desperate to escape their surroundings in the hope of starting over fresh: “There are traces of the old times. Like battle scars in my mind. Only the world to me. Turn the lights out – leave this home. Wherever the white lines take us.” Backing metalcore growls by guest vocalist Jamie Armstrong add an extra layer of gritty texture to Ellis’ raw vocals, to great effect.

The final track “Willows” closes out the album on a gloomy note, speaking of a couple whose relationship is so damaged by hurt and pain, it may be beyond salvation. In vocals that really seem to channel Bono, Ellis passionately wails “Skin so thin, so thin it bleeds right through you. And we blame ourselves, don’t you blame yourself too? Walking wounded – in a black wind. Take me to the place where the willows grow. Write down everything that hurt us so. Everything we never said.” As always, the instrumentals are hard-hitting, with furious riffs, crushing bass and tumultuous drums.

Dance With the Hunted is a heavy, emotionally-wrought album to be sure – there are no upbeat love songs here! But it’s a beautifully-crafted work, with deeply compelling, heartfelt lyrics, gorgeous rock melodies, and magnificent instrumentals. Every track is superb, with no filler or throwaways. If you like some of the aforementioned bands I discussed, you will enjoy the music of Saboteurs.

The beautiful original album artwork was designed by Anita Inverarity.

Catch Saboteurs at one of these upcoming shows:

Saboteurs concerts

Follow Saboteurs:  Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream their music on Spotify / Soundcloud / YouTube
Purchase on Bandcamp / Google Play

New Song of the Week: REVOLVERS – “Rubbing Shoulders With the Devil”

Revolvers2

There are many terrific indie artists and bands in the UK these days making some really outstanding music, and among the best of them is London four-piece Revolvers. Originally formed in 2016 and comprised of James Thurling (guitar/lead vocals) Will Oliver (guitar/backing vocals), Steven Morrison (bass/backing vocals) and Rhys Kibble (drums), they play sensational high-energy guitar-driven melodic rock. I first featured them in February when I reviewed their single “True Love”, a fantastic, hard-driving track filled with lush, reverb-drenched jangly riffs. They followed up in early April with another great banger of a tune “Come Again”, and now return with their third in a series of singles “Rubbing Shoulders With the Devil“, and I think it’s their best work yet. All three singles were produced by George Apsion (White Lies, Catfish and the Bottlemen, Ellie Goulding).

It’s a darkly beautiful track, opening with an ominous gritty guitar riff and a deep, buzzing bassline that immediately hook us in. As James starts to sing, the music expands with more guitars and Rhys’ thumping drumbeats and crashing cymbals into an exciting and rather menacing soundscape. In his review of the song for Obscure Sound, Mike Mineo observed that Revolvers exude a vibe reminiscent of early Arctic Monkeys, and I totally agree. Once the chorus arrives in a stream of sweeping synths and wailing distorted riffs, I’m completely besotted with this song. James’ vocals have a cold, yet slightly seductive quality, backed by the guys’ stunning but ominous vocal harmonies that have a kind of gothic horror film air, similar to what you’d hear in a film like The Omen or The Exorcist as they croon:

Rubbing shoulders with the devil
  (Anywhere you go I’ll go there)
Rubbing shoulders with the devil
 (Anywhere you stay I’ll be there)
Rubbing shoulders with the devil
 (Cause you drag me down)

James continues to sing the brilliant lyrics that speak to someone who leaves him feeling unsettled almost to the point of revulsion:

But every night I wake up to the smell of you
While I’m clutching to a dirty pillow
Your shadow stops the reflection of bedroom lights
And raises alarms in my head
Complain the swimming pool’s not as deep as your love darling
Guess your love is just so ardent
But every time I see someone drinking your cocktail
Take refuge inside the devil’s lair

I’m really impressed by the high quality of a lot of music videos being made by indie bands today (having also been blown away by the video UNDER AEGIS made for their song “Separate” that I just reviewed). Like the music, the gorgeously-filmed video has a dark feel similar to The Omen, and I think it’s brilliant that parts of it were filmed in a cathedral. It was expertly directed by Bradley Davies of Yosemite Bear Productions, and stars band frontman James, who now plays the role of the devilish character. He’s a nice-looking fellow, but that cold stare of his is downright malevolent! He’s shown carrying a briefcase as he lurks and skulks around in a disquieting manner, and at one point coldly watches a woman drowning in a pool, and even strangles a man in another scene. It’s pretty disturbing, but the scenes of the band performing the song in the cathedral balance things out quite nicely – both symbolically and literally.

I love this band and I love this song! It’s instantly one of my favorites of the year, and will most definitely end up on my list of Top 100 Songs of 2019.

Those of you fortunate to live in and around London can catch Revolvers at one of these upcoming shows:

Friday 7 June @ 7:30 pm – The Finborough Arms, London
Saturday 15 June @ 7 pm – Roadtrip & the Workshop, London

Connect with Revolvers on Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream their music on Spotify / Soundcloud
Purchase on iTunes / Bandcamp

New Song of the Week – THE COMMON VIEW: “A Perfect Bridge”

The Common View single art

Back in February, I featured the wonderful young British band The Common View on this blog. Formed in 2018, the Leeds four-piece consists of Dom Robertson (guitar, vocals), Jose Ignacio Barrera (guitar), Jacob Lindsay (drums, vocals) and Joe Sykes (bass).  Their indelible and dynamic style of alternative rock is influenced by indie pop-rock, post-punk revival, ska and rockabilly. They released their self-titled debut EP The Common View, Vol. 1 in December 2018, featuring three outstanding tracks, then quickly followed with a provocative single “Fuck Them”, a scathing critique of the failure of British society and the government to adequately address the chronic issues of health care, poverty and homelessness.

Now they return with “A Perfect Bridge“, a sweet song of romantic love. The track opens strong with exuberant riffs of swirling guitars, sparkling synths and bouncy drumbeats, accompanied by lots of crashing cymbals. Dom and Jose skillfully capture the ardor of young love with their achingly beautiful and intricate guitar work, while Joe lays down a sultry bass line that adds a slow burn to the mix. Jacob’s fervent vocals are marvelous, and nicely complemented by the guys’ fine backing harmonies. It’s another terrific release from these talented young gentlemen.

I’m gonna stop the world for you and me,
by writing songs for us and backing up the beat.
Let’s go and fly away to hold the mystery,
We don’t need any words to see what it could be

Help me out to build the perfect bridge,
across the love, because I wanna feel your lips.
We have places that we know that we can be,
one is where your magic’s good to me

I wanna make you feel alive tonight
By looking for your thoughts, I wanna cross that line.
it’s such a perfect day to see the blue sky,
out in the open sun we’ll lose track of time

Help me out to build the perfect bridge,
across the love, because I wanna feel your lips.
We have places that we know that we can be,
one is where your magic’s good to me

So, would you like to cross this bridge with me?
I’ll ignite my bones if that is what you need
We have places that we know that we can be,
Just don’t forget that always we can
Use hope, oh honey use trust, oh honey use love as our bridge

Catch The Common View at one of these upcoming shows:

Wednesday, 22 May @ 7 PM – w/ Suns Up & Hakara, Late Nights at West Street Live
Thursday, 23 May @ 6 PM – w/Ourkid, The Stocks, We The North @ Bar21uk, Manchester, UK
Friday, 31 May @ 8 PM – w/The Marble Arches, Solarays, Ben Bickley @ 360 Club, Leeds, UK
Sunday, 2 June @ 12 PM – Below The Bridge // End Of Term special! @ Zombie Shack, Manchester, UK
Saturday, 29 June @ 6 PM – SoundWaves Music Competition – The Final @ O2 Academy, Leeds, UK
Saturday 13 July @ 7:30 PM – w/The Masons & Paradas @ Gullivers NQ, Manchester, UK

Connect with them on Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream their music on Spotify / Soundcloud / Reverbnation / Apple Music
Purchase on iTunes

DOCTOR GONZO – EP Review: “PhD”

Doctor Gonzo Phd

Doctor Gonzo is a four-piece punk ska band from the Brighton area of Sussex, UK. They’re all about having fun and not taking themselves too seriously, but are very serious when it comes to making straight-up badass rock! Formed only a year ago, Doctor Gonzo consists of Ash Miles on vocals, Andy “Gibbo” Gibson on guitars and backing vocals, Tony “Tig” Tugnutt on bass and Louis Maxwell on drums. In late April, they dropped their debut EP PhD, featuring four boisterous bangers guaranteed to kick your ass!

The EP blasts open with “Poisonous”, a blistering-hot tune with heavy, chugging riffs of gnarly guitar, crushing bass and hammering drums. Ash’s urgent vocals ooze bitterness as he snarls the lyrics addressing someone who’s toxic to his existence: “In my veins, sucking the life out of me. Filled with pain until there’s nothing left. Pulsing through me with your liquid venom. You won’t stop ’til I take my last breath! Oh!

Before we can even come up for air, the guys are back pummelling our eardrums with “Something’s Gotta Give”. Man, can these guys rock, once again delivering frantic riffs of fuzzy guitars and throbbing bass, while Louis beats the living fuck out of his drum kit! Next up is the rousing “Mary Jane”, the fantastic lead single from the EP.  It’s a delightful love song to a woman named Mary Jane, set to a hard-driving beat and the band’s signature barrage of thunderous instrumental mayhem. The lyrics are fairly simple but charming: “Mary Jane I let you take my breath away. Remember that time I took you on an aeroplane? Oh Mary Jane, I think you’re driving me insane. But when shit hits the fan I know you’ll make me feel better.” The whimsical and fun video for the song was written, directed and edited by Nick Burdett.

The final track “Royalty” serves up more hard-hitting post-punk goodness. Gibbo does some fine shredding on his six-string while Tig lays down a deep, strutting bass line and Louis pounds out the driving beat. The lyrics speak to feeling like a loser in a rut, going nowhere: “I tell myself to stop complaining. Learn to read between the lines. I wanna be somebody, instead of just a casualty. I’ll go against the grain. You’ll probably know my name. I wanna live like royalty.”

Despite it’s short run time of only 12 1/2 minutes, PhD packs a mighty punch. These guys know how to rock and set the airwaves afire with their respective instruments. I found myself loving these songs more with each listen, and am now a huge fan of Doctor Gonzo. I also love their playful sense of humor, which is strongly evident in this hilarious video of outtake bloopers from the making of the “Mary Jane” video:

Connect with Doctor Gonzo:  Facebook / Instagram
Purchase on iTunes / Google Play

STEREOHAZE – EP Review: “Fight For Your Future”

Stereohaze EP art

Stereohaze is a band from Manchester, England who, despite their youth, play some wicked guitar-driven rock. Formed in 2017, the lineup includes Charlie Whittaker (guitar/vocals), Ryan Webb (guitar), Harry Wilcock (bass) and Diesel Evans (drums).  They released a top-notch first single “Nowhere to Go” in 2018, and this April (2019) they dropped their debut EP Fight For Your Future, which I’m reviewing today.  

The EP starts off on a high note with “Infliction”, and once those chugging riffs of jangly guitars kick in, backed by Harry’s deep, humming bass line and Diesel’s explosive percussion, it’s clear this band knows how to rock out! I really like Charlie’s commanding vocals that soar in all the right spots, and what I’m guessing is his or Ryan’s scorching guitar solo in the bridge is so good.

“Contain Yourself” was released as a lead single in advance of the EP, and it’s a superb song with a terrific, infectiously catchy hook. It opens with a funky bass riff that continues throughout the song, punctuated by roiling guitars and tumultuous drums in the choruses. The lyrics seem to speak of a guy who’s life has spun out of control: “He tries and he tries to commend himself to fears of what he used to be.  He falls apart as he begins to choke. If love was money, he’d be broke. So much potential. So little time. So incidental. But you’re not the kind.

“Nothing Seems to Change” is a brooding rock song about a relationship in which, despite his best efforts, his partner isn’t willing to meet him halfway: “I tried so hard to figure it out. I lost myself in your shadow of doubt. For what it’s worth, there’s a smile upon your face, but nothing seems to change.” Musically, the song features a strong, thumping drumbeat and fine guitar work that includes lots of shredding and elements of psychedelia and grunge. In fact, the recurring riff seems to sample the two-note guitar line of Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit”.  On this and some other tracks, Charlie’s vocals remind me a bit of Alex Turner.

The aptly-named “Light the Fuse” is the most electrifying track from a musical standpoint. I love its rapid, hard-driving beat and intricate mix of fuzzy, chiming and distorted guitars. The vocal harmonies are marvelous, and the guitar solo in the bridge is absolute fire. “Don’t Think Twice” is yet another stellar tune, with strutting riffs of gnarly guitars, pulsating bass and pounding drums. The song seems to be about someone who’s lost and in denial about what’s wrong in their life: “I don’t want to be the one to follow you out into the sun. I know what you’re thinking, it’s alright. I know it seems so hard, but don’t think twice.

While Stereohaze doesn’t break any new ground here, they nevertheless deliver outstanding, hard-hitting rock music that makes for an exciting and enjoyable listen. Fight for Your Future is a first-rate EP full of solid tracks that showcase the guys’ talent for writing melodic rock songs laden with hooks and thoughtful lyrics, and bringing them to life with their skillful musicianship. I highly recommend this EP for anyone who likes great, guitar-driven rock.

Connect with Stereohaze:  Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Purchase their music on iTunes / Amazon

THIRD TIME LUCKIE – EP Review: “Face the Beast”

Third Time Luckie EP art

A month ago I featured British alternative pop/punk band Third Time Luckie on this blog when I reviewed their beautiful single “Love and Violence”. They’ve now dropped a new EP Face the Beast, which I have the pleasure of reviewing today. Originally formed in 2006, the band had early success, releasing two EPs and an album, but eventually disbanded in 2014. Fortunately for us, founding members Chris Horner (guitar & vocals) and Carl Swietlik (drums) decided to give it another go, and Third Time Luckie was reborn an older and wiser trio in late 2016 with a new bassist Andy Clare. Based in the southern England resort town of Bognor Regis, Sussex, the band’s high-energy style of melodic pop/punk rock is strongly influenced by some of their favorite bands like Blink-182, Green Day, Alkaline Trio and Sum 41.

Face the Beast features five stellar tracks, including “Love and Violence” and some other previously released songs. Green Day’s influence can clearly be heard on the first cut “The Grind“, with a frantic riff that’s strikingly similar to the main riff in “American Idiot”. The guys follow through with more electrifying guitar solos of their own, along with a driving bass line and thunderous drums that make for an exhilarating song. The lyrics speak to escaping a soul-crushing rut in a boring town, and making a change for the better: “And so, we all stick to the grind. And so, something gets left behind. Go do what you like, cause my mind’s made up now. And so, fuck you, I’m leaving this town.”

That Day” is a reworking of a song the band originally recorded back in 2008. The upbeat song is a rousing pop/punk ode to a woman he loves, recalling the day he met her: “I remember that day so clearly. It’s stuck down in my head. I get the warmest feeling lying next to you in bed. The grass is always greener when you are around.” The anthemic “Never Alone” is a song of encouragement to someone suffering from depression. Chris does some fine shredding on his six-string as he fervently sings: “You found your way, your way back to our lives. You found your way, your way back to our hearts. All the while you were lost in the smoke. We were there too, and you were never alone. / You can push back and fight it. Or face the beast and ignite it.” Andy and Carl keep the rhythm with a solid bass line and a cascade of tumultuous percussion.

The poignant “Love and Violence” is a plea from one partner in a fraying relationship to another, urging her to stay with him and try to work out their problems. The words “love and violence” represent the highs and lows – the good times and bad – of a relationship. “Stay with me now cause I know we’re forever. And evermore it’s you and I in love and violence.” The guitar work is fantastic, and Chris’s pleasing vocals sound great whether he’s earnestly crooning the calmer verses or passionately wailing the dramatic choruses. The guys’ backing vocal harmonies are wonderful too.

The final track “Wide Eyed Thinking” was the first single the reconstituted band released in 2017, and it’s a real banger. The guys let loose here, unleashing a furious barrage of gnarly riffs, wildly crashing cymbals, and chugging bass. The song’s only two and a half minutes long, but it’s a beast. The lyrics speak to finally coming to terms with the reality of a toxic relationship that’s beyond repair: “Nothing I did was ever good enough for her. Wide eyed thinking, how can I get away? This ship is sinking, and I’ve been led astray from you. Now I sing a different tune.”

Face the Beast is a terrific little EP that showcases the strong songwriting and musicianship of Third Time Luckie. I’m impressed by these guys’ resilience, as well as their dedication to excellence, and I hope they continue making more great music for our listening enjoyment.

Connect with Third Time Luckie:  Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream their music on Spotify / Soundcloud / Reverbnation
Purchase on iTunes

SPIRAL ROCKS – Single Review: “Know Your Weapon”

Spiral Rocks Know Your Weapon

Spiral Rocks is a terrific rock band based in Widnes, England, situated on the River Mersey between the vibrant music cities of Liverpool and Manchester. Their fun, high-energy music is retro, yet fresh, drawing from classic rock, punk, rock’n’roll, blues and even folk influences. Formed in 2000, the band consists of Antony Shone (vocals/guitar), Dave Baker (guitar), Stephen “Rowy” Rowe (bass) & Danny Hall (drums). They’ve known each other for years and even played together for a while as teenagers, but took a hiatus for several years to tend to the demands of life (jobs, marriages and children).

Wanting to get back to doing what they love, they resurrected Spiral Rocks in summer 2018 and have been recording and releasing lots of new songs like madmen, as if trying to make up for lost time. Many of these tunes are certified bangers, and I strongly urge my readers to check them out on Spotify or YouTube. One of the best of the bunch is “Know Your Weapon“, which the band requested that I review.

It’s a great, hard-driving track, with a barrage of fuzzy reverb-soaked guitars, deep, throbbing bass and pummeling drumbeats, augmented by an abundance of crashing cymbals. Antony and Dave are skilled guitarists, delivering some really sensational blistering riffs in the choruses that give the track a gnarly psychedelic vibe. Antony has an intense and spirited vocal style that reminds me at times of Mick Jagger’s, though I can’t quite make out very many of the lyrics that he practically shouts on this song. But who cares, really, when the music sounds this good.

Connect with Spiral Rocks:  Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Purchase their music on iTunes / Amazon

HEIST AT FIVE – Single Review: “Falling With Style”

Heist at Five Falling With Style2

When I last featured the wickedly talented and undeniably charismatic UK band Heist at Five on this blog in October 2018, they had released their fantastic single “Finish What You Started”. I reviewed the song and also interviewed the band, which you can read here.  Based in London, but with an international pedigree, the electro/hard rock collective plays an aggressive, innovative style of alternative rock that borders on experimental, with complex melodies, intricate chord progressions and brilliant electronic and guitar-heavy instrumentation. Making the music are Oskar Abrahamsson (vocals), Jozef Veselsky (guitar), Marco “Fuzz” Paone (bass) and Josh Needham (drums), with assistance from production guru Kim Björnram. They released their impressive debut EP The Blacklist in early 2018 (which I also reviewed), and now return with an exciting and introspective new single “Falling With Style“, and it’s one of their best songs yet.

The band states “the song is about fully embracing the idea of failure and finding comfort in it”, and it’s message is delivered with a glorious soundscape of elaborate instrumentation and sounds. Jozef is an amazing guitarist, dazzling our senses with incredibly intricate riffs and spine-tingling power chords. Marco and Josh keep the rhythm with a deep, throbbing bass line and powerful drums, backed by swirling moody synths and otherworldly but beautiful electronically-enhanced soaring choruses.

Oskar’s fervent vocals are spectacular, raising goosebumps as they go from sultry purr to tender falsetto to emotionally wrought wails as he sings:

Now we’re fighting for our life just to get our balance back
How we see the world shakes, under attack
The sky is caving as its weighing down these skinny legs
We’re slowly getting close to the edge

It’s all been shattered, torn apart
Burnt to pieces, right from the start
It all falls
But does it matter, for us at all
When all you need is, to fall with style

The song has been translated into a brilliant and surreal video that tells the story of a young woman who sees moments of her life in flashbacks, which ends up changing her perspective about life, and in the process breaks her old pattern of decision making. The video was written, directed and edited by Oskar, and filmed by James Kiberu at IPuzzle Digital Media Video. The woman was played by Anoushka Rava, and the lead girl by Julie Rabesahala.

Connect with Heist at Five: Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream their music on Spotify / Apple Music / Soundcloud
Purchase on iTunes / Bandcamp / Google Play

FROM THE CAVE – EP Review: “City Life”

From the Cave City Life

As I’ve noted previously in other posts, one of the best things about being a music blogger is getting to know a lot of really wonderful artists and bands. One of my favorite indie bands is London-based alternative rock outfit From the Cave. With a singularly unique and eclectic sound drawing from a broad range of influences, including punk, pop, shoegaze, blues, funk and ethnic folk, they have a distinctive sound like no other band I’m aware of. I love their music, and have featured them on this blog several times over the past few years. They’ve previously released two EPs, their self-titled debut From the Cave in 2016, and Medieval two years later, which I reviewed last September. Now they return with their third EP City Life, which drops on 30 April, and which I’m pleased to introduce to my readers.

Comprising From the Cave are the wildly creative front man Kristian Møller-Munar, who plays guitar and sings most lead vocals, Mikaela Lindgren on vocals, keys and percussion, and Joshua Scriven on guitar and vocals. Each of them is a major talent in their own right, actively involved in all aspects of the creation of their music, including songwriting, playing instruments and singing, and as they continue to mature, so too does their music. As its title suggests, the songs on their new EP have an edgier, more sophisticated vibe, and deal mostly with topics that are current and socially relevant. City Life was written and produced by the band, and expertly mastered by Tim Debney. The songwriting, instrumentation and arrangements are all superb, sounding better than ever, and all three band members’ vocals and harmonies are marvelous.

The first track “Get a Life” is a scathing take down of someone who’s always complaining and whining, yet doing nothing to solve any of their problems, and you’ve had just about all you can take of their bullshit.

It’s just mind games and control
It’s just plain dumb lack of soul
Get a backbone, get a grip
Your self-importance makes me sick
Get a life! (Cause I’m really fucking tired of your shit though)

Besides the great, brutally direct lyrics, the song’s really interesting from a musically standpoint too, with a catchy, trap-like beat and an exotic Eastern European folk vibe in the chorus. The spacey synths and jangly guitars are great, and I love Kristian’s deep vocals with his Danish accent, backed by the all three members’ harmonizing choruses. The clever and colorful animated video was created by Kristian, who does a fantastic job on all their videos.

Freedom” seems to suggest that freedom comes with a price, enabling us to fall victim to our darker instincts. The song starts off on a fairly light air with a funky beat, but eventually turns more menacing, with sinister synths and a harsh, almost foreboding drumbeat. As always, the guitar work is brilliant.

Have a Nice One” really showcases From the Cave’s impressive musicianship, with an enchanting strummed mandolin taking a starring role, and once again, their vocal harmonies are absolutely sublime. The positive song lyrics advise us to not beat our heads against the wall trying to change things over which we have no control, and instead just try to enjoy our lives:

Don’t worry about the things you can’t change anyway
They float as they like, and then they go away
Don’t try to fix anything
Have a nice one, have a nice one

The band changes things up a bit with “City Lights“, a gorgeous and sultry song that’s my favorite track on the EP. From the opening zing of spacey synth, I love everything about this breathtaking song – the shimmery chiming guitars, ethereal synths, entrancing drumbeat, and most of all, Joshua’s captivating vocals, backed by Kristian & Mikaela’s dreamy backing harmonies. Thought I’m not certain about the song’s meaning, to my mind it seems to celebrate the allure of the city and the romantic spell it casts upon those who surrender themselves to its possibilities.

The rousing, uptempo track “Justice” sees the band taking a political stance, calling for people in our sharply divided society to open their minds to a broader point of view, and try to find common ground so that we can hopefully solve some of the problems plaguing society.

You hate the news and you hate a long a drive
You don’t like the things that will waste your time
You love your mum, and you love your son
You love your dog, and you keep your gun
We’re not alike, we’re still the same
We shouldn’t have to feel ashamed
We feel so wrong, we feel so right
A common ground is worth the fight

Forgiveness is missing
It’s like it’s been beaten to pieces
And the middle, and justice is kicking and kicking
Living for the living, for the living right now

City Life is another fantastic release from this amazingly talented band, and proof that their creativity and musicianship keeps growing ever better and stronger. That makes me very happy, as I hope they continue making music for a long time to come.

Connect with From the Cave:  Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream their music on Spotify / Apple Music
Purchase on Bandcamp / iTunes / Amazon