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Tuesday, 4 June 2019

H.E.A.T - Live at Sweden Rock Festival (album)

Words by Adrian Ball
Live albums take on a status of their own and give the opportunity for the band to capture the magic and excitement of a full rock show.  Iconic live albums stand the test of time, such as The Who Live at Leeds and the magnificent Thin Lizzy Live and Dangerous building the reputation of bands to a higher place.
H.E.A.T live at the Sweden rock festival is a great album that manages to capture the raw energy and showmanship of a band on home turf, shining bright like the stars they are.
A mood setting intro transports you to centre stage before hitting you straight between the eyes with Bastard of Society, setting the pace high and hard immediately.  Plenty of the hits to rock you throughout the show, ensuring the performance is translated to home listening. Mannequin Show is a track the band can be truly proud of and the live version really is something to behold; heavier and more engaging. 
Singer Erik Gronwell engages with the crowd, building up the tempo to fever pitch level with vocals that never falter.  The band is absolutely on point and obviously having fun guiding a home crowd through the many hits they are proud to have created.
An outstanding album that would easily sit alongside the many great live albums produced over the years. 

Tuesday, 21 May 2019

Interview: Kenny Wayne Shepherd

Interview by Annette Valentine
Photo credit: Mark Seliger
The new album from The Kenny Wayne Shepherd band The Traveler is out on 31stMay via Mascot Label Group. This album shows the hero we call Kenny at his all-time greatest, with his fingerprint firmly on the fret.
On tour to showcase the new material,  we caught up with the platinum-selling artist for a firing-on-all-cylinders interview.
RC: Who is in the line-up for this album, Kenny?
There’s Noah Hunt on vocals, me on guitar, Bassist Kevin McCormick, Chris Layton on drums, Keyboard Jimmy McGorman and Joe Krown. Noah is singing six out of ten songs -  I’m doing four out of ten.
RC: Who wrote the songs?
I wrote all the songs except the two cover songs. I write with long time collaborators.
RC: There’s been a noticeable change in your style….
I would say a little bit, definitely. I grew up with country music I listened to gospel, rock ‘n’ roll and jazz, so that is the foundation for everything I do.
RC: How is it being a father of six children and married to Hannah (actor Mel Gibsons  daughter)?
I love my wife and I’m very happy, you know, with six wonderful children, four girls and two boys.
RC: Is Mel Gibson a frequent visitor?
Sure, he comes round all the time! We both live in Los Angeles.
RC: How do you feel about your country roots?
Well in the State of Louisiana, where Elvis Presley came from, I grew up with all genres. I always gravitated towards the blues, I don’t know why. It’s more honest and comes from the heart; everybody can listen to that. You never forget where you came from.
RC: You are one of the world class guitar players - would you agree with that?
Well I appreciate that, it’s the practice that is key.
RC: You’re not selfish with your music; you share what you’ve learned and carry the torch.
You acknowledge what you pick up from others and pass it on, yeh that’s how it goes in my experience.
RC: How do you make it look so easy?
It takes a lot of practice. You don’t wake up one day and learn to play guitar.
RC: Have you ever hung out with Eric Clapton when you’ve been jamming in places?
Yeah I met Eric when I was fourteen years old. We were staying in the same hotel and I asked if he would jam with me. He respectfully declined as he was with guests, but he did say , if you keep playing guitar, at some point well jam together. So that one day came several years ago when a friend, Hubert Sumlin, passed away. We got together at the Apollo for a tribute concert in 2012; a lot of good players that night.
RC: You talk about deconstructing and reassembling from your icons, absorbing their talent, but not copying. Finding your own sound.
Well yeah, you have your influences, but you don’t want to be someone you’re not, but to change it to your sound.
RC: You effortlessly let your songs sing themselves…..
Yeah let the songs tell their stories; every song is an opportunity to tell their story.
RC: Are you really self-taught?
Yeah, I’ve played since I was very young.
RC: Your grandmother bought you a plastic guitar with her savings stamps didn’t she?
That’s when I learnt my first note on a guitar, yeh.
RC: Did you cut the new Album at Echophone studios in Louisiana?
No, that’s closed now. It was at Neptune Valley Studios
RC: Do you still have your 1961 Sunburst guitar vintage black with white stripes?
Oh yeah, they can bury me with that guitar, I use it live and in the studio but I don’t take it on aeroplanes. It’s irreplaceable. That’s the last thing I would ever give up.
RC: What are your plans for the future?
Keep touring and sharing my music.

Monday, 13 May 2019

Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band - The Traveler

Words by Annette Valentine.

The Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band will be releasing their latest album The Traveler on 31st May along with a European tour to follow. 

Gone is the fresh-faced Kenny who exploded onto the early ‘90’s scene with his impressive self-taught skills, and here is a grown man, a father, who has a different perspective on life. 

That’s reflected in the album's title, derived from the complexities of life and the journey we all make.

Story-telling tracks like Long Time Running, about expressing a complicated existence, and Gravity, about a troubled relationship, feature heavily. These are gritty blues-rock songs with a lick of country, melded with such tender lyrics.

Two covers on the album Turn to Stone, honouring Joe Walsh and Buffalo Springfield’s Mr. Soul sends shivers down your spine, hitting listeners with guitar riffs of effortless brilliance.

Woman Like You quite uniquely glorifies the featured female in an uplifting way, and Tailwind is beautiful with heart-string-puller effects.

Better With Time - every note is perfectly played, bluesy and psychedelic, and you can feel Kenny’s calling to carry the torch of longevity of blues-rock, paying homage to the greats he absorbed as a child, and clearly why he is greatly respected in this arena.

He’s come into his own here, metamorphosing with the band and rocketing them to deserved higher ground.

Wednesday, 20 March 2019

The Boston Shakers - 'Wasted'

The band name The Boston Shakers might hint at a rockabillly act, but what you get is much more bang for your buck.

There's rap, heavy beats and scuzzy guitar, as they describe it, blending their Californian and French roots with influences from their new found Liverpool home, resulting in a unique blend of street-smart swag and honed beat-blending abilities. 

The six friends' paths crossed in another life spent working behind the bar and their lyrics reflect what nearly by the sounds of it could get them put behind bars - drink, drugs and women.  

Their debut E.P Wasted gives you blues, rap, rock, even dance and a touch of British Indie that has inevitably rubbed off in their new found home in the North.

From the opener Ready For You the tracks sound like they've been circulating radio for years.  It's a professional sounding set up from vocal style to genre mixing to the crisp production.

Best Things has a relentless rap rhtyhm backed up by equally snappy drums. Like a lot of the tracks, a hint of vintage comes across in tone, combined with anthemic and catchy chants.

You're taken from indie-flavoured rock to the tap-tap beat of gansta to dance vibes in Plastic Bag. The album is a ride for the emotions going from chill, to rocking out to contemplation to just wanting to bust some moves. 

These tracks give the listener an excuse to come together and unite in their catchy choruses and get lost in the rhythm. It's witty, fun, energetic and a bit of a revelation. What a ride. 

Tuesday, 12 March 2019

Wille and the Bandits (+ Rainbreakers) - Thekla Bristol, 09/03/19

The coolest of the Bristol set in their vintage finest are out in force tonight for Wille and the Bandits supported by the Rainbreakers.
A band that is impossible to define, spanning blues, rock, Latin and folk genres; the music is as diverse as the crowd.
Fellow South Westers Rainbreakers are bringing the best of British blues to start things off, with a well-deserved crowd turning up early to see it.
With a ludicrously early set time, the headliners are rocking the boat from the start and these three can really make some noise. With Matthew’s six-string bass and one of the largest pedal boards you’ve ever seen, Andy mixing percussion while showing off on drums and Wille playing a guitar on his lap with a steel bar on a slide guitar, the sound is unique to say the least.
Covers of Santana and Peter Greene set the tone and display what diversity the crowd are in for. Tracks from previous albums and their most recent release Paths are creating whoops and cheers from a more than appreciative audience. The raspy vocal suits the passion of Judgement Day and Keep it on the Downlow creates jigs o’ plenty.
Hold Your Head Up is the yin kick to the yang zen feeling you get from this wild mix of sonic cultures. The music has a reminiscence of Steely Dan with a rock ‘n’ roll bite. As said by Wille himself, they’re an acoustic band that accidentally became a rock band.
Mid-set sees a tribal vibe, with an unabating drum beat creating a meditative state, allowing the crowd to immerse themselves in this moment. Then, things are back at full throttle with Andy (described as the love child of Cat Stevens and Frank Zappa) drumming at the speed of light ahead of a guitar ‘battle’ between the other two guys. It’s equally endearing and mesmerising to watch as the friendly ends with the bass player winning. It’s a nice touch.
The evening is like a juke box. They’re not afraid of their audience, or to give them what they want. This must stem from hard work and good roots from playing their local pub route.
The night sums up what this band brings to its live audiences; aside from an education in music, its great fun.

Tuesday, 5 March 2019

Sundara Karma - 'Ulfilas’ Alphabet'

Words by Katie Macbeth
Since the release of their debut album Youth is Only Ever Fun in Retrospect two years ago, Sundara Karma have evolved and reinvented themselves from indie heart-throbs to goth kings. 

A revolution that is effortlessly clear in their latest release Ulfilas’ Alphabet (a reference to medieval German goth Ulfilas, who developed an alphabet in order to translate the Bible from Latin); an album that proves that Sundara Karma can shapeshift into an Avant Garde masterpiece.

Opener A Song for my Future Self is other-worldly with synths and horns merging effortlessly before Lead Singer Oscar Pollock’s recognisable vocals are unchained and we are greeted with a story of how progressive we are as humans.

One last night on this Earth, the second single release, is a stunning track and the only one reminiscent of the bands’ former releases in style, while Higher States is completely unique, which will have listeners bouncing with excitement. It’s a truly infectious, feel-good song; a highlight of the album.

The Changeover may be regarded as the ‘sad song’, reminiscent of David Bowie, highlighting how physical progression is inevitable and how we change and develop as humans. The vocals are stunning and put Oscar’s theatricalism into the spotlight.

The beautiful title track will get you thinking as much as it will dancing. The verses are filled with dark meaning, taken to a higher level with the dramatic change in vocals that pair so effortlessly with Ally Baty’s insane guitar work.

The album takes you on a journey through Gothicism of the digital age. The structure fully grasps the listener and takes them on an adventure, talking you through personal thoughts and feelings on the world we live in.

Friday, 1 March 2019

Blue Oyster Cult (with support from The Temperance Movement - Anson Rooms Bristol, 28/02/18

The (tongue in cheek) Satan worshipping, biker leather wearing stoner imagery Blue Oyster Cult conjure is firmly juxtaposed by their artful way of creating the thinking-man’s heavy metal. This is reflected in the crowd at Bristol’s Anson Rooms tonight with plenty of Motorhead t-shirt wearing fans discussing last night’s wonderful meal at the local organic restaurant. Oh, so Bristol.

The Temperance Movement open things up for this sold out show, proving the variety of hits they’ve had since their debut album Pride in 2012 to their most recent diverse A Deeper Cut. Only Friend sees lead singer Phil Campbell holding the crowds’ attention like a reverend at church, Caught in the Middleabsolutely brings the funk and Take it Back brings the party. The guys seemingly have more energy than ever in this 45-minute slot, with Phil’s gravelly soulful vocal filling the air and his Jagger-esque flailing and arm-waving with pure abandon is mesmerising to watch. He is possessed by the music and dancing like no-one is watching. But they are, and it looks like everyone wants this set to last longer.
After a short break, everyone starts to stand a little straighter as the walk-on music for BOC starts. A bit of a slump during the first couple of songs, before things get going with Burnin’ For You. It’s hard to tell if this crowd are enjoying themselves at this stage, as it’s more like witnessing a doped-up chill out session at Lemmy’s, but when the band pulls out more obvious hits like Godzilla and (Don’t Fear) The Reaper, it does prompt some rogue jump-up-and-down-ers or the odd devil horn. That’s not to say they do not love watching the band, it’s sold out after all, it’s just…hard to tell.
BOC mix sixties harmonies and guitar arpeggios with new-wave power pop and an evil image, a lot of which they pioneered, proof in having their videos on heavy rotation on MTV in the eighties. And they probably do it the best, although their legacy has remained quiet. This isn’t the most rawwwwk ‘n’ roll evening Bristol’s ever seen, but it’s BOC’s style and they’re sticking to it so stylishly, and who is anyone to argue?