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!
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.
At long last, the UK music scene is awakening from its pandemic induced torpor. Studios are re-opening and gig venues are once again being filled with happy and enthusiastic punters.
Unsigned bands up and down the length and breadth of the UK can once again load their gear into whatever battered mode of transport is available and travel across town, disgorging their instruments into the next s****ole venue on the ‘toilet circuit.’
These are the bands celebrated at LOUD HORIZON: the underplayed, the underpaid and the under appreciated.’
One such band is Hollow Doors, from Scunthorpe, in North Lincolnshire, England. The alternative / indie / rock four piece formed in 2017 and quickly gained a loyal local following. With their support, the band have financed the writing and recording of a set of singles, recorded at the spanking new Woodley Moss Studios in Normanby, which will be self-released over the coming months.
The first of these is this, ‘Fake Style,’ a video of which is in course of being produced. Local radio stations, including BBC Lincolnshire, have already picked up on the track.
As far as reference points go (which I’m afraid I have to provide – it’s the law, you know) I’d say there’s a wee bit channeling early Franz Ferdinand going on here? That’s meant as a compliment, by the way – no need for hate mail or severed horse heads through the post, thank you.
From what I’ve heard, I like the sound of Hollow Doors and their DIY attitude. I’m sensing a little bit similarity in vibe, to one of Radio 6Music presenter, Steve Lamaq’s favourite bands, Theatre Royal – whose first national exposure many years ago came via …. oh, I’m far too modest to say.
There’s a long way to go yet, and a lot of hollow doors to be knocked upon – but who knows? Why the hell not?
From a young age, we’re advised not to ‘judge a book by its cover.’ By the same token, as we grow older, we must learn not to judge a musician by their back catalogue.
Case in point would be Glaswegian, Ewan MacFarlane.
As a long time member of electo rockers Apollo 440 he would strut, sing, shout and dance on stages across the world, firing up crowds numbering in their thousands.
As front-man of The Grim Northern Social, Ewan was the main songwriter of the critically acclaimed but regretfully short-lived band, whose debut album in 2003 was voted one of the year’s best by Rolling Stone magazine.
For a while during 2015 / 2016, he would liaise via the internet with Filip Rasch from southern Norway, to collaborate on a series of releases under the name of Mennska.
And now ….?
Nobody can really afford to stand still in the music industry. (Well, certain artists do, but in general they’re totally pants.) Some of the most successful continually re-invent themselves as they age, David Bowie being the prime example.
So, what’s led Ewan MacFarlane from the dance culture to the softer, (possibly Del Amitri inspired?) Americana infused melodic Rock of this post’s opening video – his latest single, ‘Underneath Your Spell‘?
“Its high time I stepped out and made the music I always needed to make,” he says.
The single is the second to be lifted from his forthcoming (October 29th) debut solo album, ‘Always Everlong,’ following hard on the heels of the brilliant ‘Stirrin’ In The City,’ which is posted below.
‘Always Everlong,‘ tells tales of tension with pledges of eternal love. It’s an expression of his hopes and fears, emboldened by a personable approach to classic rock writing as Ewan bares his soul by putting pen to paper, unafraid of the consequences.
In his own words, “It’s both about a lust and love for life and for each other. It’s about endless boundaries, about taking the good with the bad, the happy with the sad, the laughter and the tears, but not least it’s about kicking down the walls of constraint and living life exactly how you choose. Free to be what you want to be without judgement.”
To my eternal shame, despite owning four Apollo 440 singles and living in the same Dear Green Place as Ewan I never made the connection between him, them, and The Grim Northern Social. I was probably too obsessed with hardcore punk at that time.
Taking a leaf from Ewan’s book, I think now is the time to re-invent the listener in me.
Who’s to stop me loving hardcore punk and melodic rock?
Back in the mid-Seventies, I was all over Southern Rock; Lynyrd Skynyrd (obviously!); The Outlaws; Marshall Tucker Band;Grinderswitch, and others all found a place in my record collection.
Then, along came Punk.
I always was a fickle kid, and though my love of these bands did not exactly fade, their albums would make much less frequent visits to the turntable.
In recent years though, having been forced by my wife to endure hour upon hour of American Idol, my interest in country based sounds has been reignited. And when I listen to likes of Robert Jon & The Wreck, I realise now what I’ve been missing.
‘Shine A Light On Me Brother,‘(released on 3rd September 2021) is the result of enforced ‘downtime’ during the Covid pandemic, and will be the band’s sixth studio album. With a couple of EPs / CD Live recordings thrown in since their inception ten years ago in Orange County, California, then by today’s standards, I guess they’d fall into the prolific bracket.
Their hard-working ethics have seen them tour coast to coast in their homeland, as well as travelling the world and playing before huge sell-out crowds when supporting likes of Joe Bonamassa, Buddy Guy, Living Colour, Walter Trout, Black Stone Cherry and the Chris Robinson Band.
It’s funny that last name came up. Bands, I’m sure, must hate it when folks like me draw similarities between them and other artists. It’s not ‘lazy journalism,’ it’s simply observation in trying to give the reader an inkling of what to expect from an artist / recording. So yeah, overall, though there are variations throughout, I can hear a bit of semblance to the Black Crows at points along the album’s ten track duration.
The opening, title and lead single, ‘Shine A Light On Me Brother’ can be heard at the beginning of this post. I love the incorporation of a horns section with this southern rock belter. Their blend with the guitar solo and racing piano give the song a feel of, dare I say it, The Allman Brothers mashing it up with The Blues Brothers band. (Oh, if only that were possible!)
Here’s track number two, ‘Everyday,‘ for you decide upon. A real toe-tapper with a shuffling beat, neat, zippy, guitar work and an overall. gospel feel.
‘Ain’t No Young Love Song’ opens with a stomping beat that’s maintained throughout. The piano is swapped for the hammond organ which is given some prominence and there’s the prerequisite guitar solo of course. The chorus has a real big hook and I think you’d file this one under ‘anthemic.’
The pace slows for ‘Chicago,’ which takes a more soulful turn, with the horns giving a bit of a Stax sound. The vocals are BIG, but beautifully controlled and mellow. The sax solo leads into what I think should be a few bars of hand clapping … I was off and running only to feel rather sheepish a moment or two later. (I bet when played ‘live’ the crowds will all do the raised hand-claps as the sax solo ends. You mark my words. )
‘Hurricane,‘ slows the tempo right own. I don’t normally go for slower, acoustic based songs, but I found myself totally immersed in this one. It would be quite easy to drift off (in a complimentary way) to this as the song gently rises and falls like waves on an idyllic beach. My one observation, as if it counts, coming from someone who can’t play a note on anything, is that perhaps instead of the short guitar burst, use of a pedal steel guitar could have been made? Just sayin’ … like, what do I know?
‘Desert Sun’ is another that will have the listener singing along. Medium paced, with a buzz-like guitar and piano prominent throughout, it just has a sort of lazy, warm, sultry feel to it – perhaps influenced by the title, of course.
‘Movin’ ‘ opens with a bit of a dark and threatening rumble of a riff. It’s lifted with the vocals and piano. The bass line and riff remind me of Bryan Ferry‘s version of ‘The Price of Love‘ and I kept wanting to sing the chorus to Tina Turner‘s version of ‘Proud Mary’ come the chorus – but hey! That’s no bad thing, is it?
‘Anna Maria‘ is a grower. Almost five minutes in length, I wondered where it was going for the first minute and a half, but it builds into a resounding and swirling track with a pretty cool break-down around midpoint that lasts a minute or so before rising to the final crescendo.
The penultimate track ‘Brother,’ sounds so sad, but absolutely captivating. It sounds like it was truly sung from the heart.
And so to the final track, ‘Radio.‘ In a complete contrast to the mood of the previous song, this one bounces through its three minute duration. It’s a really ‘busy’ track with so much going on. Each time I listen I hear something I missed the previous time. If this doesn’t have you dancing your socks off, then you must have flippers for feet.
Yeah – this is some album. Good, strong songs and musicianship throughout, it’s predominately upbeat and / or anthemic. It has a warm, Californian desert feel to it, and one I’d sure like to see performed live.
I must say, I had never heard of this Robert Jon & The Wreck before this landed on my desk. I have to say, I’ll definitely be checking out their back catalogue, now.
***(Robert Jon & The Wreck will be touring UK in late September, 2021. Dates and ticket links can be found on the NEWS PAGE.)***
ROBERT JON & THE WRECK
Robert Jon Burrison – Lead Vocals / Guitar Andrew Espantman – Drums / Vocals Steve Maggiora – Keyboards / Vocals Harry James – Lead Guitar / Vocals Warren Murrel – Bass / Vocals
Bad Mary are a four piece punk outfit, playing out of Long Island, New York. They have been together eleven years, recording since 2013, and have gigged at some of the city’s most iconic venues, The Knitting Factory and The Bowery Electric among them. They have also played on the bill at The Warped Tour, and completed a very successful mini-tour of Japan.
Their music is generally fast and bouncy, danceable punk; music to get everyone moving in those intimate, sweaty venues. They sure bring a fun vibe to their music – which for me, is just what music in general is all about.
They have released three EPs and two albums, the latest of which, ‘The Return of Space Girl,‘ debuted in 2019. It’s a punk-rock space-opera about a robot from space who has a few things she needs to teach the world. Yeah. It really is!
The album is a real belter, musically. Thirteen furiously pounding but melodic songs in thirty-three minutes – true old school punk style. Check out ‘I, Robot,’ is my recommendation.
They declare themselves as a punk band, inspired by Seventies punk luminaries such as The Ramones and Blondie, but blending their sound and fun attitude with that of second wave punk bands such as Green Day and Paramore. ( I can actually hear a similarity in Amanda’s vocal delivery to Hayley’s.)
However, I see and hear much more than that.
Bad Mary are prolific in posting videos and from what I’ve seen, they could equally head off down a more gothic route (White Rabbit – which I’m unable to post here) or even artrock avenue, (Theme From Daria.)
(I love this video / track.)
As with bands the world over, these past eighteen months have been a bit of a nightmare with no live shows, but in addition to adding to their You Tube channel, Bad Mary have been streaming short live gigs on a weekly basis during the pandemic.