I’ve been writing about new music in blog and magazine form, for a long while now … from back in the days when Artrocker was a fortnightly paper magazine – remember them? Actually, Loud Horizon even predates that (@ 2004) so as you can imagine, a lot of good music has crossed my desk.
On occasion, though, some bands and artists stand out even above the ‘good’ music. It’s hard to define, but some just have that extra ‘something.’
This Liverpool based, psychedelic rock band may have only released two tracks to date, but I’ll stick my neck out right now and predict you’ll hear a lot more of Cothel.
With band members from California, Mexico, Korea, and Norway and a sound tech guy from England, there’s a lot of diverse influences being brought to bear in their music – and it seems to be working a treat.
Their second, and current release, ‘When You’re Insanely High‘ is an eclectic mix of rock riffs and funky beats, delivered with spiky, punk attitude. Think along the lines of a heavier version of Adequate 7 from the early noughties, and you’ve got it.
This track though highlights the versatility of Cothel, contrasting with the sneering vocal delivery and more grunge feel of their first release, ‘That Feeling You Get.’ I say ‘grunge’ but there’s more – there’s also a manic sixties, psychedelic sound to this. It’s like a swirling nightmare … in a good way of course.
The band have planned two more singles in the new year, before releasing their debut album around April.
There’s not much else I can say about a band so early in their development, but you read it here first – watch out for Cothel in 2022. I’m certain I won’t be the only one singing their praises.
Aaron Stafford (USA): Guitar / Vocals Emiliano Del Toro (Mexico): Lead Guitar Lee Jaeyeuk (aka Jerry) (Korea): Bass Gurkirat Singh (Norway): Drums + Rob King (England): Sound tech
Empiires are a four-piece hard rock band, playing out of Dallas, Texas. Like many bands, they put their enforced pandemic lockdown time to good use and, unable to play live, they focused on releasing a couple of new tracks.
The latest is ‘Stronger‘ which pretty much typifies their style – big, chunky, crunching guitar riffs, strong, bold lead vocals with growled backing and loud, melodic, catchy choruses. Factor in short, snappy, searing guitar solos and a pounding rhythm section and ….. well, what’s not to like?
I know it’s been difficult for all bands these past eighteen months, but I do feel that now is the time for Empiires to match their music with their presence. I can find very little info about them out in the ether, and with a few well produced ‘singles’ behind them now, I’d like to see them doing a little more shouting about it! Why keep your light under a bushel?
As you’ll see, each of the song videos available are of the ‘lyric’ nature. Tied in with my point above, I’d love to see the band feature more in them. In fact, if I’m totally honest, especially with reference to the new song ‘Stronger‘ I think the song sounds ‘stronger’ when listened to without the video as it is.
This is not a criticism, just an observation. The band have the perfect image of a hard rocking band – why not let it help them grow their music?
Anyway – back to the music. They guys kick serious ass, so hopefully their enforced additional rehearsal / recording time will pay them due dividend in the months to come now that are back out on the road.
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.’)
He played bass on Sparks‘ debut album, ‘Kimono My House,’ which included the two hit singles, ‘This Town Ain’t Big Enough For The Both Of Us’ and ‘Amateur Hour;‘ he was bass player with Jet, hailed as Glam’s first supergroup; he formed personal favourites of mine,Radio Stars ; he even played bass with The Rolling Stones (oh, yes he did!) … and this was all before teatime. Well, before the Seventies were up.
Since then Martin Gordon has played as session musician with some of pop music’s brightest, and apparently not so bright, stars.
He’s toured the world, collaborating with ‘world music’ stars across the continents and is now settled in Berlin, where the creative spirit of that fine city continues to guide his way.
A look at his excellent website highlights both his work over the years and his deadpan, self-deprecating and sardonic humour. In his more recent releases, he targets conspiracy theorists (and one in particular) and people who believe they have ‘superior jeans.’
It is this clever / pointed / fun writing style that drew me to Radio Stars back in the Seventies. There is, however, generally a point to what Martin writes / sings about.
However, just to throw us a little curveball, his new release has no words. It is though, like his recent songs, a celebration of current affairs. Well, maybe ‘celebration’ is a bit strong – it references the Cop26 conference on climate change.
Martin’s interpretation of what lies ‘over the rainbow’ conflicts somewhat with what young Dorothy expected, this version part doom laden, part painfully sad, bleak and downbeat. It’s a typically pragmatic view from Martin, I have to say.
And who, really, can argue?
In his own words, here’s what inspired Martin, if indeed ‘inspired’ s the correct word.
‘Marking the gathering of the great and the good, the besuited and the bedraggled, the lobbyists and the lobbied in Glasgow to perform the by-now traditional COP26 knees-up, ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’ is anew single by Martin Gordon. As the planet prepares to expel its inhabitants, why not mark the occasion with this rendering of Dorothy’sfavourite showstopper in Eb, well known to be the second-saddest of allkeys? This instrumental version has a Rickenbacker bass as a main voice – what’s not to like? After all, Xmas dinner will be served in a tin, withlashings of delicious Spam for afters, and then there’ll be live bombing of France on the telly after the Queen’s speech.
‘Arlen and Yarburg’s melancholy tune has been reworked, rearranged and made available to all, whether demented conspiracy theorist,hysterical populist or regular ol’ human being, although there are less of these than earlier thought.‘
(Released across all platforms on 8th November 2021)
As lead singer / guitarist of Cardiff indie rockers, The Scooters, Chris Kelly tasted success in the form of touring USA (twice) and collaborated with The New Radicals. For their 2002 tour, they were subject of an ITV documentary and followed around by a film crew.
That was then. This is now.
Chris has made a name for himself as an Americana inspired singer / songwriter, accumulating a burgeoning fanbase, especially across his native south Wales.
His latest single, ‘Your Day Begins Again‘ is released at the end of November (26th.) It’s easy-going, swaying, melodic verses blend into more rousing choruses, guaranteed to have you singing along even on first hearing.
No doubt Chris’s experience of leading an indie-pop band at the turn of the century still have some bearing, as the final minute run-out features some lovely, dreamy, shuffling psychedelic sounds reflecting the music of many bands at that time.
I’m not sure why I’m writing this – you can make your own mind up. Here it is!
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.
The first single I ever bought was ‘Co Co’ by The Sweet, back in 1971. The second was ‘Alexander Graham Bell,’ by The Sweet. Over the years I gathered five of the band’s albums on vinyl and several compilations on CD.
You see, despite the stick I took at school, I was and am, proud to be called a Sweet fan. I guess I enjoyed being different.
Back in the early Seventies, my protestations that they were not simply a bubblegum pop band, and could rock it out with the best of them, fell on the deaf ears of Clapton and Zeppelin supporters. (Clapton fans must have been deaf, in my opinion, but that’s for another article!)
Bearing in mind Sweet have been around for over fifty-one years (with a couple years hiatus in the early ’80s) various line-up changes have been inevitable, not least due to the ill health and subsequent passing of Brian Connolly and Mick Tucker.
For a while two versions of the band existed; Andy Scott’s here in UK and Steve Priest’s in USA. Sadly, only Andy now remains of the original line-up – but he continues to uphold the ‘classic’ line-up’s legacy of of all those years ago.
Now though, with the very experienced touring musicians in Lee Small (bass) Bruce Bisland (drums) and Paul Manzi (lead vocals) Sweet have settled once again as a four-piece and continue to perform in front of sell-out crowds across Europe. In fact, their Covid-delayed ‘Hellraiser’ UK tour due to kick off towards the end of November.
In the spring of 2021, the new line-up released their ‘Isolation Boulevard‘ album – a re-recording of hits from the classic era of the band, together with an inventive cover of Hello‘s ‘New York Groove,’ and the December 2020 single, ‘Still Got The Rock.’ This is a really interesting album – all the songs are indeed very familiar, not straying too far from the original versions which is what you’d want to hear if going to a show. Yet is IS different. There is a deeper resonance, perhaps down to more advanced recording techniques but emphasized by Paul’s vocal delivery.
Naturally, many of the old hits will feature in the upcoming ‘Hellraiser’ UK tour and it was while rehearsing songs for the shows, that Andy decided what should become the new / current single.
“During the rehearsals for Sweet’s forthcoming ‘Hellraiser’ tour in November and December 2021, we were trying out various songs from our back catalogue that could be added to the set list. As soon as I heard Paul Manzi and Lee Small’s vocals on the song ‘Everything,’ I knew that we needed to get it down and record it as our new single.”
The song ‘Everything 2021′ is a totally new recording. It was originally featured on the album ‘Sweetlife‘ released back in 2002. “I think the new version is a far superior production,” says Andy. “It’s much closer to how I envisaged it when I co-wrote the song back in the day.”
I agree. This new version has more ‘oomph.’ More ‘balls.’ Also, in Paul Manzi, Sweet have a specialist and focused singer. The earlier, 2002 version, was recorded with bass player Jeff Brown doubling up on vocals when then frontman Chad Brown unexpectedly left the band mid tour due to ill health.
The track has a kind of European / German rock sound to it, which is perhaps not so surprising considering the band seem to have spent so much time touring in that area over the years.
So, yeah – once a Sweet fan, always a Sweet fan. The musical landscape has shifted enormously during their life-span. They have seen disco, punk, post punk, grunge, indie, baggy, and many more genres emerge, overtake, then fade.
I’ve grown up with Sweet and while change is good and inevitable, life is sometimes even better for the comfort of constants.
The Glam may have faded ... but the Rock lives on!
I remember writing about San Antonio, TX band, Memory of a Melody in an earlier incarnation of Loud Horizon. I was pretty glowing in my review of their release at that time, and I’m not going to be any different this time around.
I have a feeling that the new single ‘Rise Up,’ may come from the same three song ‘Burn Alive‘ EP as did the excellent ‘Mary Go Round,‘ which is posted at the end of this piece.
‘Rise Up,’ is a fast and furious anthemic song of positivity. It’s the type of song that’s sure to get things kicking off big time down in the mosh pit!
Once again, we’re presented with melodic metal of the highest order. Gruff, abrasive vocals are surrounded by boisterous gang harmonies, pounding drums and screaming guitar. Not all ‘metal’ songs could be termed ‘melodic,’ but I guess this is in part at least, where the band’s name derives. ‘Rise Up,‘ is actually catchy as hell!
I like also the nod to punk / Oi! music with the ‘Hey! Hey!’ chants that intersperse the verses.
Yeah – my mosh pit days may be well behind me now, but if MoaM ever head over to Glasgow, you’ll definitely find me tapping my feet at the side of the stage!
(Just in time for Halloween, here’s a sinister sounding song to set you on edge…. earlier single release, ‘Mary Go Round.’)
Classic Rock magazine couldn’t have put it any better when they wrote about Gerry Jablonski & The Electric Band, ‘…. the best band you never heard of.’
It was towards the back end of 2008 when session drummer of some reknown, Dave Innes, approached established bluesman, Gerry Jablonski with a view to forming a band. The latter, though he’d fronted several bands in the past, had spent several immediate years prior performing solo acoustic blues sets, and took some persuading.
Some months later, now in 2009, the insistent Dave had put together the line-up he’d been pursuing, and with himself on drums, Gerry on guitar, Grigor Leslie on bass and Pete Narojczyk on harmonica, they played at an open mic night in their home city of Aberdeen.
Taking heart from the positive reaction and feedback, the four started writing their own songs and three months later they played their first ‘proper’ gig. A month after that, and the debut album had been recorded!
Released in 2009 through local label, Fat Hippy Records, the eponymous debut opens with ‘Breaking the Stones,’ a swamp blues stomper which I think also echoes early Free. It sets the precedent for what follows – an album of blues maturity and variation. Mainly upbeat and bouncy blues rock, Pete’s harmonica playing trades space with Gerry’s guitar, typified on ‘Blues Power‘ when you could just so easily be listening to Mark Feltham (Nine Below Zero / Rory Gallagher) and Roy Buchanan.
It would be two years before the follow up came along, ‘Life At Captain Tom’s’ which references the rehearsal and recording studio in Aberdeen. (I mentioned above how I could hear a Free influence poking through various tracks – on this album there is a song called ‘Koss,’ a tribute to the original Free guitarist, and weaving several of the band’s song titles into the lyrics.)
Another two year gap, and album number three was released, ‘Twist of Fate.’ Again, a clean sounding rocking blues album of ten tracks. The opening and closing tracks especially (‘Slave to the Rhythm‘ and ‘Suzi Sunshine’) are more palatable, I’d think, to commercial daytime radio than would be a more traditional blues song. ‘Dave Says,’ a jazz infused blues instrumental is my favourite, though. Just sayin’.
Fate however dealt the band a tragic hand the following year, with the passing of founder member / drummer, Dave Innes, following a long battle with stomach cancer.
He had acknowledged his destiny however, and was insistent that the band should continue with a replacement. And so with the comfort of his blessing, and Dave’s own recommendation, Lewis Fraser was invited to join.
And so has it been since. 2015 saw the release of studio album number four, ‘Trouble With The Blues‘ and the ensuing years have seen two ‘Live’ album releases. Their heavy blues sound is enhanced, I feel, on these ‘live’ recordings,
‘Goddamn,’ is the first recording since 2018’s ‘Live at The Blue Note,‘ album.
The video for this, shown at the opening of the post, has an interesting twist: Crystal Head Vodka, the brand set up by actor / comedian Dan Akroyd in 2008 decided they’d like to co-produce the video, and use it to feature their product in a forthcoming promotional campaign! (Happy to oblige with with a wee additional plug!)
Now the UK music scene is slowly awakening from its enforced torpor, Gerry Jablonski & The Electric Band are back out and about, looking topick up in recent months where they left off, selling out shows in mainland Europe as well as at home.
They’ve certainly been welcomed back enthusiastically, recently selling out their headline show at the Rory Gallagher Festival inBallyshannon. As a diehard Gallagher fan myself, I know just how discerning Rory fans can be, so this is high accolade indeed!
They’ll be on my gig list for next year, that’s for sure.
The late Seventies, here in UK, was the place to be if you enjoyed variety of musical genres. For me as a kid, I graduated through Glam Rock to Heavy Rock to Punk to Reggae and then Rock ‘n’Roll / Rockabilly. I’m glad to say, these were not just whimsical fads I was passing through – they still form the basis of my record collection and listening pleasure to this day.
It’s easy to see then why I was drawn to this track.
Based in Vancouver, Canada, Rich Chambers was determined from a very early age that he was going to be a rock ‘n’ roll star. However, several years of touring the local toilet circuit for the sake of a pint or two of the local craft lager made him re-consider. For a while.
He returned to his studies and gained a degree in English and latterly, a Masters in Humanities. But the music still burned within him, and actually the hook to the chorus of this song came about rather randomly as he walked to his car in the parking lot for the University.
Although the harmonies had been brewing for many years, it is only now, with a bit more ‘life perspective,’ that Rich has been able to match the tune to a reflection of High School experiences and use that as a metaphor for how we perceive our dreams and innocence of youth.
This three minute rock ‘n’ roller has been billed as Buddy Holly mixing it with Green Day; rock ‘n’ roll with a bit of added modern spike.
Me? I’m reminded of the vibrato tremble of The Undertones’ Feargal Sharkey‘s voice and the melody and fun attitude of The Vandals. And there’s certainly a bit of old school punk bounce to the bassline, if you listen.
The lyrics may take a slightly cynical look at the missed opportunities of our youth and how decisions taken so young can impinge on the rest of our lives, but hey ….. it’s fun tune!One to put a smile on your face and get your feet moving.
I like it!
Reviews & Comment: Punk,, Psychedelic, Psych, Rock, Reggae, 60s Garage, Mod, Blues & Freakbeat.