Tag Archives: music reviews

STRIZZY STRAUS: ‘Hieroglyfics.’

Strizzy Strauss reveals the second single ‘Hieroglyfics’ from his upcoming debut album
‘Trust The Process’ .

Hip Hop producer Sik Sense takes the helm on this one,
laying down a jazz tinted piano driven beat with punchy boom bap drum patterns. There’s
also a melodic quality to be heard in Strauss’s rhyme style, coupled with the slow-and-
steady boom bap beat and it’s a recipe for a hypnotic head-nod.

The track speaks on the adversities experienced growing up in a single parent home, around
neglected neighbourhoods and under constant pressure to be drawn into the mud. Having been “to hell, back and got the bucket hat”, Strauss describes the ever-present impetus to swerve the surrounding negative influences and move toward a higher calling.

From a purely personal perspective (and it is my blog, so it counts!) LOUD HORIZON has not in the past really embraced the Hip Hop / Rap scene, concentrating more on punk, rock, reggae etc.

But you like what you like – no boundaries and all that.

And I like this. A lot!

SANS: ‘Aztec Drips.’

Over the past few years SANS have emerged from Bristol’s more avant-garde scene as one of the more hard-edged yet versatile bands.

The SANS sound melds post punk, experimental noise and hardcore, incorporating a maelstrom of overdriven guitars, jazz drumming and heavy breakdowns.

Their forthcoming eponymous EP, being released via Breakfast Records on 22nd May is a reflection of this, as you can hear from the lead track, ‘Aztec Drips,’ below.

SHAO DOW: ‘Nani.’

This landed on my desk the other day. It’s not what LOUD HORIZON would generally be shouting about … but I love it!

Londoner, Shao Dow is an interesting guy: a professional rapper and manga author with a law degree, he also studied Shaolin Kung Fu in China.

However, it’s the former two talents that he marries in his new single, ‘Nani.’

“I’m not fluent in Japanese, I speak Crapanese at best, but still, I love the language. It’s been a lot of fun teaching myself and then watching anime trying to understand what’s being said without the subtitles. With Nani 何 I wanted to challenge myself and push my lyricism to the next level by mixing English and Japanese into one song, make it rhyme and still have it all make sense. I feel like I hit that balance, Nani means What? in Japanese or What!! or What the fuck?! depending on context. Any true anime watcher will know exactly what I mean. But for those of you who don’t speak and understand Japanese (I assume that’s like 4 of you), I’ve also included subtitles on the music video. It’s a visual homage to anime and captures the energy of the track in a pretty cool way”

Shao Dow is rapidly becoming recognised as a unique and eloquent voice within the UK Music industry, having been invited into Parliament to speak on behalf of grassroots music venues across the country.

Having opened for the likes of Ghetts, Stormzy, Skepta and KRS-One, hs star is on the rise.

I’m sure we’re going to be hearing a lot more of Shao Dow.

RORY GALLAGHER: ‘Check Shirt Wizard.’

It’s sad to say that very often, when our musical heroes pass on, their legacy is somewhat tarnished by the release of substandard recordings.

This is perhaps understandable where more ‘commercial’ artists are involved, their estates and labels seeking to capitalize on the fans’ grief, and milk every last penny from their ‘investment.’

But commercialism was never the aim of the game for Rory Gallagher, and with brother Donal curating the recordings, you just know that whatever is / has been released posthumously will remain true to the ethos of Rory.

Last year saw the release of double (vinyl) album / triple (cd) ‘Blues,‘ and we fans thought it could never get better – all that time (I have been too lazy to add the track lengths up) devoted to Rory’s specialist genre? Pigs in you know what, we were. (Said Yoda. )

But it just has! Gotten better, that is.

Check Shirt Wizard,‘ reverses the format of the previous release and gives us a triple vinyl / double compact disc, which to my immature mind is a lot more sexy.
That said, I still bought both!

I’m conscious that many of Rory’s ever expanding fanbase were not fortunate enough to have seen him play ‘live.’ But this release is a perfect illustration of what it was like to have been at a show, some forty-three years ago. (Forty-three???!!)

Rory was in his prime. He was backed magnificently by Gerry, Rod and Lou – what I’d consider the strongest line-up he ever played with. A concert those days would last the best part of two hours, in often very basic and sweaty surroundings. No frills; no glitz; no glamour; no posing; no pouting. Just blues infused rock ‘n’ roll as God intended.

This 1977 UK tour, promoting the latest album ‘Calling Card,‘ took in twelve shows in sixteen days, an eleven day break, then another six shows in eight days, with a final date at the Royal Albert Hall no less, a further couple of weeks down the line. Touring certainly was a bit of a slog in those days, but if you wanted your music to heard, this is what you had to do.

But Rory loved it – and this was reflected in his shows: full of energy, but with humility and good humour. These three vinyl records (recorded variously at the Hammersmith Odeon, the Brighton Dome, Sheffield City Hall and Newcastle City Hall) totally encompass this.

Everything about ‘Check Shirt Wizard‘ is spot on. The sound quality is top end – a studio quality recording that fuses the electric atmosphere of a live show. The fold-out sleeve and the photographs are beautiful, as is the eight page, colour insert that takes the form of an outsize concert programme. (Remember them?)

Obviously this particular version is not on ‘Check Shirt Wizard,’ but it is from the same year,

The majority of the twenty tracks are upbeat, boogie and riff-laden, and although recorded over the four different venues, they have been compiled in such a manner as to give the feel of one show. This means that in keeping with his live shows, Rory slips in a few more acoustic blues numbers just after the mid point.

In addition to eight of the nine tracks originally on the ‘Calling Card‘ studio album (only ‘I’ll admit You’re Gone‘ is missing) ‘Check Shirt Wizard’ gives us blinding versions of what became ‘standards’ such as ‘Tattoo’d Lady,’ ‘Going To My Hometown,’ and of course, ‘Bullfrog Blues.’ The latter of these three really did make the hairs on the back of my neck stand up, especially towards the end when over the top of a heavy boogie riff, Rory thanks the crowd for attending and acknowledges the band members in his own inimitable style: “Lou Martin on keyboards! Lou Martin! Yeah!”

Up till now, I have always held ‘Live in Europe‘ as my favourite album – not just of Rory Gallagher, but ‘favourite album’ full stop. This though, could well replace it. It’s an awesome collection that if time permits, should be listened through track by track to get that full on concert experience.

‘Check Shirt Wizard‘: they don’t make them like you anymore.

*****
I always wished to have been at a gig that was recorded for release as an album at a later date. I wasn’t at any of the four shows that are included here, but I was at the Glasgow show that predated the tour, and was sat (until the bouncers turned away) just two rows back from the ticket stub pictured on the inside back cover of the album insert!
*****

THE MEMBRANES: ‘Nocturnal’ (Kitty Lectro Remix.

See – here’s the thing with remixes: I almost feel kinda guilty if I like one better than the original.

I always think a band wouldn’t have released the version they did if they felt it could be improved upon.

But I obviously tend to overthink things.

Until about ten minute before writing this post, I thought that the track ‘Nocturnal,’ from the Membranes‘ latest album (June 2019) ‘What Nature Gives … Nature Takes Away) was as good as it gets.

But I was wrong. THIS is as good as it gets!

The Kitty Lectro remix is brilliantly dark, broody and moody. It has a retro ‘goth’ feel to it and is almost like a new track entirely.

Both versions merit a play – you decide.

(Featured, header, photo by @rshashamane )

BANDAID BRIGADE: ‘Break The Grid.’

It’s never been enough for me, a band just producing excellent music; there needs to be more for them to make it onto my ‘favourites’ list.

In the case of Bandaid Brigade, the first criteria is easily fulfilled. Just listen to their latest offering, ‘Break the Grid,’ and their debut track, ‘Travel Light,’ (both below.)

But why are they my new favourite band?
Their debut album is not due until the turn of the New Year, and they certainly haven’t played here in Glasgow.

I’ll tell you why – it’s precisely because I can’t put my finger on what they offer! There’s an air of mystery about them, but a real punk attitude, harking back to the fun punk of the early 2000s. The music seems based on punk, but then isn’t what you’d call ‘punk.’

Their music and attitude makes me smile. They make me wanna dance … though you really don’t wanna see that.

Heck! Who cares what label is put on Bandaid Brigade. They have fun – we have fun. Everyone’s a winner.