Category Archives: EUROPE

odysses

Odysses

From the opening James Gang type riff to the short drum solo that brings an end to final track ‘Changes‘ some thirty-seven minutes later, this album is steeped in ’60s and ’70s hard rock / blues rock.

‘Onwards Into Poseidon’s Fangs” is the debut album from Sondershausen (Germany) power trio, Odysses.

(Keyboards are added on the album version of ten minute long title track, by Marty Sennewald)

It was always the intention they produce a jam-based, bluesey album, but as the writing and recording progressed, more psychedelic and hard rock elements almost organically emerged.

The result is an LP covering all bases of late ’60s to mid-’70s rock music.

Opening track, ‘The Curse,’ hinges around an infectious, simple riff, distinctive vocals and as in all other six tracks, a really tight rhythm section. It’s mid-paced, with a very pronounced bass line that drives the track forward. Guitarist Benjamin Kreibe gives the listener an early taste of his guitar proficiency with a short ‘wah wah’ solo towards the finish.

‘Stumbling Away’ is next up – again a very heavy bass to the fore.

And then the title track slots in – see top video. This is a truly epic track, further enhanced on the album by the keyboard playing of Marty Sennewald. The track falls into various stages and gives room for solos from both Marty and Benjamin. Nothing too indulgent – just perfect, with shades of Uriah Heep and Argent, perhaps. Word also for Vincent Muller on drums who holds everything together with steadfast and rolling beats.

This was the first song the three members wrote together as a band – setting quite high bar, I’d say! I love this track.

‘Sheria,’ seems to harbour some dark undertones mixed with a distinct psychedelic feel. This is followed by the three minute instrumental, ‘Fire.’ Rocking riffs with a sort of buzz-saw guitar hook and again, drums to the fore.

Penultimate track, ‘Egypt,‘ is a strange one – strange in a good way, that is. For all Odysses are predominately 60s and 70s Hard / Blues Rock influenced, the first half of this track make me think of Rage Against The Machine. The second half (and there are two distinct halves to this one) has a bouncy, jazz type bass, with siren like guitar sounding something a punk band like Buzzcocks may have come up with.

This leads to the final track, ‘Changes.‘ A great track this – a real slow, moody blues track. I definitely get the feel of Robin Trower on this one.

All in all, this is a terrific album. It doesn’t seek to change the wheel, but serves up a great variation of blues / hard rock styles. While Odysses‘ influences may be well declared, there is still a contemporary feel to their playing.

It will be interesting to see where they go from here.

ODYSSES

Benjamin Kreibe – Vocals / Guitar / Theramin
Vincent Muller – Drums
Thomas Huhne – Drums

paralyzed

Paralyzed

Know how you’ll be in the queue at the supermarket when it dawns, though you have no idea who they are, the person stood behind you is a sportsman / sportswoman of some fame? Or you’re at a gig and as they take to the stage, before even striking a note, you know the unknown support band are going to be great? Or you hear a band, previously unknown to you, in Bandcamp and realize within seconds they are class; top quality and playing just the sounds you like to hear?

What connects the three examples above, is they have ‘presence.’ There is an aura surrounding these people that sets them distinct to others in their field.

Such is the case with Paralyzed. a hard rock band from Bamberg, Germany.

Paralyzed

You only have to look as far as the MUSIC PAST page on this very blog to see what kind of music excites me – and more to the point, excites me sufficiently to make more people aware… and write about it.

And all that helps explain what attracted me to this band the moment I clicked on their new album, ‘Heavy Road.’

I have to concede knowing very little about Paralyzed other that they formed in 2019, and have just released their second album, a follow-up to January 2021’s eponymous debut LP.

There was also an excellent value, seven track, thirty-four minutes long, EP release ‘Hidden Sun‘ back in the year of their formation, and a seven minute long digital single release, ‘This Woman’ in 2020. (Tracks fromHeavy Road,’ ‘Paralyzed’ and Hidden Sun form the ‘live’ set that features at the end of this piece.)

‘Heavy Road’ album artwork

‘Heavy Road’ comprises eight tracks over around forty minutes duration. It is pretty much rooted in a ’70s Rock feel, and thus, just my bag!

Album opener is ‘Devil’s Bride.’ From the opening vocal, there’s a very distinctive sense of Jim Morrison / Doors, which hooked me right away. It ‘modern’ terms, you’d say the riff, for the first three minutes of the seven and a half, is quite doom laden. The song then erupts in intensity and pace. Vocalist Michael Binder seems to morph into a Ian Astbury (The Cult) while executing a couple of searing guitar solos. A terrific start.

‘Orange Carpet,‘ has a real chugging riff. No nonsense hard rock, pure and simple. ‘Mayday’ is more of a mid-tempo, smokey, bluesy number, again with head-nod inducing riff. ‘Black Trees Pt 1‘ opens in dark mood; heavy blues at its finest – slightly rasping vocals over the top of moody, wah wah type guitar solos and deep, resounding bass lines.

Paralyzed.

‘Pilgrim Boots,‘ is the second track, after the opener, to breach the seven minute mark. Again, there is an undeniable Doors comparison to be made, but hey – that’s all pretty cool by me! Caterina Bohner’s organ work is more noticable on this one, and overall, the track has a vibrant, boogie feel to it.

Black Trees Pt 2‘ chugs away for three and a half minutes – all upbeat and again with a couple neat guitar solos thrown in. ‘Coal Mine’ is another slow burner. Building as it progresses, the bass line adopts a doom style feel, threatening; menacing. Michael’s vocal seem to become angrier and his guitar raging.

And then we’re at the album closer, ‘White Jar.‘ Straight off we’re into a short guitar solo, with the organ dancing in the background. More ‘wah wah’ guitar blends in mid-track alongside an almost funky bass line this time. A strong fnish!

I’ve made reference to Paralyzed being very ’70s rock inspired. And they are – or at least they sound that way. Yet – there is more to them than a band living in the past. They have incorporated modern elements into their music, but without going overboard in trying to be ‘different.’

Hard, driving rock will never die. And certainly not when the band producing it has such ‘presence.

One thing you sure won’t be on buying and listening to this album, is Paralyzed.

PARALYZED

Michael Binder – Vocals / Lead Guitar
Caterina Bohner – Organ / Rhythm Guitar
Philipp Engelbrecht – Bass
Florian Thiele – Drums

Paralyzed

guilty

Boasting members from both South America and Europe, alt-rockers, Guilty have a truly international appeal. Having met and formed the band in 2019 they have since been based in Romania, home country of the rhythm section, drummer Cristi Diaconu and bass player Silviu Ruta.

Augmented by Renan Santos from Brazil on guitar and led by singer-songwriter Rubén Villanueva from Peru, they have become an established act within the Romanian rock scene.

The band have just released their fourth single of 2021, keeping themselves busy at a time of country / world wide Covid restrictions.

Leave It and Rewind,‘ differs from those tracks that have preceded it this year. Whereas the others have been more uptempo and rocking, this one is much more subtle. The song deals with the issue of social media and the adverse impact it can have on users, so it’s perhaps not surprising the general mood is more sombre. Dark even.

However, there’s an air of positivity in the title and lyrics which is reflected in the melody of the catchy and memorable chorus. It has a quite anthemic feel about it.

‘Leave it and Rewind,’ is available across all streaming platforms now.

(By way of illustrating the strength of Guilty, here’s the video that accompanied their release of a few months back, ‘Never Call My Name Again.’)

smoking pistols

Smoking Pistols are a four-piece, post punk band from the Drôme region of south-east France. Formed during 2020, they recently released their second EP, ‘Sip It For Free,‘ via Bandcamp.

The five tracks are a loud and raucous mix of abrasive sounding garage punk, a little in the vein of Idles, I’d suggest. The strong EP opener and title track ‘Sip It For Free’ is shouty and angry … and hooky and catchy at the same time. It may take more than the initial listen, but you’ll get there. I’d say there were even shades of Foo Fighters peeking through towards the end.

‘I’m Just Not Good At It,‘ again has that Foo Fighters feel. Maybe it’s the rasping vocals and pounding drums, but I’m definitely getting that kind of vibe. There’s some nice discordant guitar going on as well. It’s a real fist pumper of a track, bound to go down well in a live performance.

‘Isolation,’ features more spoken styled lyrics and a buzzing guitar sound. It doesn’t have the sort of anthemic feel of the previous tracks, but is more of a ‘grower.’ Clocking in at almost seven minutes length, it sounds like a story of anguish and frustration been given some air.

Glass of Patience’ again features more chanted vocals over occasionally discordant guitar, building into a resounding chorus.

Then the closer, ‘Cut Me Some Slack’ veers away from Foo Fighters towards a more Talking Heads and Devo feel, with a little bit Rolling Stones ‘Woo Hoos,’ added towards the end. Which is all OK by me.

Though the lyrics focus very much on introspection, weird manipulations within human relationships, and self-destruction, the EP is pleasantly upbeat and boisterous.

All in all, this is a very positive sounding EP and well worth checking out.

(From the band’s eponymous debut EP. )

the radiators from space

Formed in Dublin in 1975, Radiators From Space are credited with being Ireland’s first punk band, initially adopting the name Greta Garbage and The Trash Cans.

Their music is straight up, first wave punk – nothing too fancy, just high energy, angry but melodic, shouted gang vocals, over raucous guitar and drums with a predominant, throbbing baseline. At this early stage, the music still echoed influences of early Sixties rock ‘n’ roll / garage and like all classic punk songs, none overstay their welcome, and are short sharp and straight to the point!

The band were picked up by the excellent Chiswick Records label (more about them in a later post) and their debut single ‘Television Screen‘ was released in 1977.

Later the same year, their first album (and only LP under this particular name) was released, again on Chiswick Records. ‘TV Tube Heart‘ comprises thirteen tracks, over thirty-three fast, furious and fabulous minutes. You could say that the sound is standard ’77 punk noise, with tracks like ‘Ripped and Torn‘ reflected by The Rezillos and ‘Blitzin At The Ritz,‘ a bit Clash-esque in places.

By the time of the album’s recording, original vocalist, Steve Rapid, had left the band, to be replaced by Phil Chevron who would later move on to join The Pogues.

In 1978, the decision was taken to shorten the band name to simply, ‘The Radiators,‘ and their second album, ‘Ghostown‘ was released in 1979.

Over the years, there have been a few re-incarnations of the band and retrospective releases, but these are the only two albums of The Seventies.

(After leaving the band, Steve Rapid – real name Steve Averill – went on to become a successful design artist, famously responsible for producing U2’s album covers. He is also reportedly credited with suggesting the band changed their name from ‘The Hype.’)

(Steve Chevron sadly passed away in 2013)

(Back of the sleeve to debut album, ‘TV Tube Heart.’)

THE RADIATORS FROM SPACE
Phil Chevron – Vocals / Guitar
James Crash – Drums
Peter Holdai – Guitar
Mark Megaray – Bass
Stephen Rapid (Steve Averill) – Vocals

TITLEFORMATLABELYEARNOTES
Television Screen7″ singleChiswick Records1977I’ve only listed 7″ singles and albums released under the name ‘The Radiators From Space.’
Enemies 7″ singleChiswick Records1977
Sunday World ‎7″ singleCBS Records1977
TV Tube Heart LPChiswick Reecords1977

tasavallan presidentti

(Submitted by John Allan, Bridgetown Western Australia, August 2021)

(Very quiet introduction … be patient!)

It was the early 70s and I must have been about 15 and already a hardened Progressive Rock devotee. My Genesis, Yes, Gentle Giant and JethroTull albums were already crowding out my brother’s collection of  Beatles and Fleetwood Mac LPs and the half dozen classical and British comedy recordings of my parents. Bernard Cribbins’ “Right Said Fred” would not make an appearance again for a few decades until wearing shirts became too sexy !

For reasons that are lost in the sylvan forests of that dingily dell of prog rock/adolescent halcyon, time, I thought my collection lacked a Scandinavian slant. ABBA hadn’t had their Waterloo moment yet !

How or where I first discovered Tasavallan Presidentii (President of the Republic) is a complete mystery or major mental blackout. Maybe because my surname was included in the band’s name. I can only speculate.

Lambertland was a proud addition to my ever expanding sonic library.

The cover was like a water colour Roger Dean. All trees and mountains and suns with a splash of pseudo religious symbols floating about. I thought they might throw in a free yoga lesson or a weekend mountain retreat to straighten out your Shakra with every album sold.

As for the music, it had all the ingredients of the genre – rock, folk, ambient, jazz, and the obligatory blues jam in an odd time signature. There was quite a smattering of flute and sax which appealed to me. Clever guitar work and sympathetic bass and drums.

The vocalist was a required taste with a very thick Scandinavian accent and would have been better singing in his native tongue going by some of the lyrics. No keyboard player was credited but I definitely heard the tasteful tinkling of electric piano and perhaps a sparse string synthesizer. The music certainly didn’t require any of the usual heavy handed Hammond, muddying Mellotron or meddling Moog.

(Live in 1971.)

6 tracks over 2 sides is probably prog de riguer. My favourite being the title track though where this mystical place may be – whether the far forests of Finland or a walk in a London suburb (sorry that’s Lambeth) is not clear. It has echoes of folksy Tull, jazzy Soft Machine and zippy Zappa. Not so much in a lumpy porridge sort of way, more a light, healthy, if not hunger abating, muesli.

Where that album ended up I’ll never know – probably an ashtray now at my nieces flat.

Does it stand the test of time ? Not really. Like most prog rock, it sounds dated on the naive side of edgy but it’s all space and time, innit or eikӧ olekin as they say south of Lappland !

Tracks:
1. Lounge
2. Lambertland
3. Celebration of the Saved Nine
4. The Bargain
5. Dance
6. Last Quarters

Recorded:
April-May 1972 at Finnvox Helsinki, Finland and at Europafilm Stockholm, Sweden.

A couple of clips from the TV show. (Just music -band interviews edited out.)

TASAVALLAN PRESIDENTTI

(Line-up relates to this particular album.)

Jukka Tolonen – Guitar
Eero Raittinen – Vocals
Pekka Pӧyry – Saxophone / Flute
Måns Groundstroem – Bass
Vesa Aӓltonen – Drums

TITLEFORMATLABELYEARNOTES
Time Alone With You / Obsolete Machine 7″ singleLove Records1969Releases relate only to those from before band initially split.
Solitary / Deep Thinker ‎7″ singleLove Records1970

Sisältäni Portin Löysin
7″ singleLove Records1973
Tasavallan PresidenttiLPLove Records1969
Tasavallan PresidenttiLPColumbia1971
Lambertland LPLove Records1972
Milky Way MosesLPLove Records1974