I was first personally introduced to the talents of blues maestro Greig Taylor back in 2016, when he and his Boos Band participated in the BBC4 series UK’s Best Part-Time Band, and while they didn’t emerge victorious, they had me curious. From there, I checked out their self-titled debut album, which I really loved and listed as one of my top Scottish records of that year.
But after that, Greig would disappear from my radar, only re-emerging lately when I discovered his new entourage – The Blind Lemon Gators – who are fresh off releasing their Gatorville compilation, and I’ve been left impressed yet again.
Right off the bat, it’s impossible to not fall in love with the opener Blue Man’s Shoes, which is graced by the most addictive and grooviest of rhythms you could ever imagine. In contrast, A Little Death Around The Eyes is a smooth-going and emotional piece that sustains the drawing power, perhaps even more so here.
All I Ever Wanted has that quintessential blues vibe and great lyrics, and the group continue to display some broad variety as they provide us something more minimal with Goodnight Irene, which is very quiet, captivating and totally driven by Greig’s outstanding singing, accompanied by some light, supple acoustics.
Hurt has an infectious beat, while Gravy Train finally returns to the truly lively stuff with the bouncing, where the harmonicas are in full bloom, and they stabilise to a calmer tempo again for the fluent, guitar-focused A Better Land.
You simply can’t hold back from tapping your foot along to Ain’t Got You, they elevate that gusto with the tubularly rocking Wicked Charm, before easing out with the real fine Ballad Of Trigarelli.
If there’s a higher entity up there in the cosmos, then I hope they can forgive me for missing out on this outfit for so long. Blind Lemon Gators have landed a bullseye with Gatorville, an immensely entertaining album from start to finish that never comes close to boring, crafted bit by bit with a blend of top notch performances.
It wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to name this my favourite blues record of the year, would it?
Fair to say, it’s been quite a while since I’ve indulged myself in the music of Edinburgh post rock outfit Three Days From Retirement, but the group recently came out with a long-awaited new album entitled Empty Chinse Cities, and I’ve fallen in love with them harder than ever before.
Mandy is a dazzling opener, the verses comprised of these bright and bold chords, leading into staggering, lucid sections that screams with a vast, purely enthralling soundscape. The title track greets with a light and creamy intro quite pleasing to the ears, and they maintain that collected pace for a few minutes before gradually packing in extra layers of meat to eventually form something big and booming that digs heavy into the riffage.
Clare And Her Secret Life Of Daydreams is another sweet addition that shines with a polished, crystal-crisp vibe at first, but then ups the ante with a dynamic, hammering rhythm fused from robust drum spurts. Energy Always Lives Forever has a considerably different feel to it, shrouded in these somewhat dark and gloomy overtones, and effectively so.
Mr John’s Keytar strikes out the gates with potent beats, then joined by crunchy bass chords and awe-inspiringly progressive shreds. Swimming through various signature changes and going back and forth scale-wise, it makes for an overall tremendous climax to the record.
Empty Chinese Cities has proven to be a resounding success, being a thrilling listening experience that is immersive and intricately produced.
DMS – Imposter Syndrome
DMS have been making an impact as one of the more unique, genre-bending acts in the current Edinburgh musicscape, and after building a decent amount of hype behind them, they’re preparing to show off their real potential with their first EP – Imposter Syndrome.
Tight Jeans hits the mark instantly with a superb, contagious melody that is welded from this fantastically tight combo of zesty harmonies, lively guitars and radiating synths, and the chorus is so super catchy that sitting motionless in your seat is a damn near impossibility. Dirt isn’t as wild but still maintains that sweet pop feel and keeps the energy going with keen piano keys, strong work behind the kit and more addictive hooks.
Howl is a highlight in the writing department, while churning out a continuously firm bassline and radical riffs, not to mention yet another bloody good chorus, and Vain keeps that established excitement rolling all the way to the end, shining again with effective lyrics and impressive singing, the band eventually capping off in a blistering frenzy.
This is how you make a debut. DMS have made the most supreme of statements by coming out with a short yet totally brilliant record that is fun, energetic, diverse and glued together by the excellent performances of five very capable musicians.
Definitely ones to watch heading into 2020, because at this early stage, they have the proficient know-how to produce entertaining material of a high calibre and that will surely elevate them to loftier heights.
*AVAILABLE ON FRIDAY 29TH NOVEMBER*
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FJORDS – Onirica
After years of hard work and determination, Nottingham progressive quintet Fjords want to stamp with authority their aspirations to be one of the UK’s most ambitious metal acts, and they’ve done a pretty well versed job in that regard with their hefty debut album – Onirica.
Entering in with thunder and a few faint touches of a piano, they break through with Into The Vista, and at 7 minutes in length, they’re sure not wasting time digging into the deeper material, and this is a great introductory sampler of what they bring to the table, with every aspect getting enough time to be showcased effectively.
Blossom In Rapture lightens the load a little, but not in a detrimental way, rather easing things up and going a somewhat simpler route, and standing out here are Dav’s cogent vocals. The title track nudges the pace back up considerably to deliver a hardened, more melodic piece that comes to life with great magnetic riffs from Jack and Ben which dominate here and a grand-scale chorus, plus the climatic final minute is damn sweet.
Prometheus brings it down again to a weightier, sludgy tone that is prominently driven by John’s throbbing, stomach-punching drumming, but still allows for space to breathe in these smoother segments where the guitars remain in excellent shape and the lyrics begin to be highlighted, until they explode into the immense, ear-shattering content once more.
After catching a quick break with Unbound, Tides Of The Sea serves as quite the awesome epic number that resonates with a dynamic force. And holy moly, if that wasn’t enough, they shake up the insanity with the pummelling The Godless Shade, amplified by Dan’s seriously dense bass tones.
Given the size of the songs, there’s this big possibility of listener’s fatigue setting in, but to this point, that still hasn’t happened, and as with Ode To The Albatross here, the guys continue to freshen it up, keeping focus with a variety of tempos and modes, plus it’s beneficial that the writing is top-notch in particular, and afterwards, they push through full steam ahead to churn out the mighty marathon of a conclusion, Polaris.
There’s no way of denying that Fjords have raised some emphatic lumps here in what is a spectacular effort, where the band have definitively met the lofty expectations that they set themselves, and with dedication like that, it’d be no surprise to see them go far up the totem pole of success.
IN ASSOCIATION WITH SAN PR
For a number of years now, indie rock quartet Ghostwriter have upheld their position as a mainstay in the Falkirk scene, and in the past they have treated folk to a pair of pretty decent EPs, but now they have another one out on the shelves – Secret Shakes – and it’s indisputably their finest work to date.
Cutting Room comes alive quite quickly with this vibrant pulse and a highly entertaining chorus, and the writing is really good too, as the words sink in fast. They don’t let time go to waste, keeping that energy rolling at a considerable volume into Homesick. The dual vocals have a firm mix of warmth and passion, and the keys add a much welcomed catchiness to the already engaging melody
We at last get a bit of a breather as Tell Me kicks off, but that buzz is soon restored as they drive through with a great rhythm. Mind Tricks is another highlight on the lyrical front, and they finally finish on the smooth, pretty easy-going Kiss The Ring, which excels in the latter half with nice, overdubbed waves of singing.
After a lengthy stint together, the four members have evidently developed their talents to a degree where they are capable of creating material to a high standard, with Sweet Shakes being the end result of that; a enjoyable and diverse record with more than enough good elements to incite the urge for repeated listens.
In 2018, Kirkcaldy DIY artist and self-proclaimed hippy c**t Rebecca Radical decided to take the brave plunge into music with virtually no prior experience, but with persistence and a riled passion, she found a newfound lease of creativity with this outlet.
Just barely over a year later, with a couple of EPs already in her back pocket, she has ambitiously went ahead and produced a whole album titled Knee High Socks & Hot Rocks.
Derived from her own life mentalities, she comes equipped with a variety of likeable songs with forward-thinking lyrics, often with a bright melodic skip to them; in particular, Be Intense and Skin Up Chin Up encourages to step up to the plate and achieve your goals. In other instances, she hits back at those who only want to impel negativity, as displayed in Too Many Blues and Don’t Belittle Love.
And of course, it wouldn’t be a punk record if it didn’t contain some bitterly scathing tracks with blunt, biting words, the best of the bunch being Bojos Nae Mojo, War Is S*it, and the amusingly Star Wars-themed Rebel Scum.
There’s a few cuts that are quite catchy, like Just Wanna Get P*ssed, Johnny Hash and Hedonist, and then you get something like Psychedelic Eyes, which is totally fresh by Becca’s usual standard, being quite slow, soothing and gripping.
She also treats the listeners to some nice and inspiring spoken word pieces including Positivity and Create, although they could have maybe done with another take because she belts through them so fast that she goes out of breath at random spots.
On the whole, it’s a very respectable album that has a rawness and honesty like so little anything else on the scene. Rebecca Radical’s aim to just do whatever she wants and not sugarcoat her music in any fashion is a refreshing outlook that other musicians around the block might want to consider implementing into their own games.
Dres are a quintet from Houston, Texas who each come from their own unique backgrounds, yet are united in the cause of music, and they happen to be pretty capable in that regard, as proven by their latest EP – Lsyne.
With the bright and colourful Just A Thought, they are quick to spark an energy which resonates in waves, and Wake Up keeps the pace rolling nicely, especially hitting the mark with both the writing and the vocal deliveries on this one.
The buzz is only amplified doubly so with the swift, high-octane Road Trip, which is loaded with driving riffs and various catchy hooks. That exciting essence remains in Oh Florida You Got Me, and as a matter of fact, they intensify the rockiness, as noticeable from the more aggressive guitars and battering drum beats.
What I Want is a little looser and doesn’t quite reach that same level, although the singing is a key element here, but they climb back up with Cobain in order to deliver a damn good conclusion accompanied by a catchy chorus.
So as you can see, Dres have the talents to deliver the goods where required, and in the most rambunctiously fun manner possible.
Oppkast – C2H5OH
In what has seemingly become a weekly tradition, my latest venture into the underground scene of mainland Europe has led me to Norway punks Oppkast, who are bracing to unleash their forthcoming album – C2H5OH.
They set the pace in fine style with the fully-charged alcoholic homage Beer Hymn, comprised of jagged riffs and a rapid rhythm. I Don’t Care is apathetically toned, but in contrast, Get Out is quite empathetic. My Head sticks out with a pretty solid chorus, in addition to the occasional sensual groans here and there…
I’m A Boy isn’t too different, minus the lack of sensual noises this time. Ready To Go is lengthy by the group’s standard, coming in at 4 minutes, and as a result we get more added depth and it’s nice to actually see the members get more of a chance to shine in their fields without them zipping by.
No Reason returns to familiarity in brash, snappy fashion, and that intensity stays on course through Getting Old. After a vomit-themed interlude – charming – a few strums of the bass serve as the gateway to another jolly boozy anthem, Jaeger My Old Friend.
They present their own banging rendition of NOFX’s Linoleum, then there’s I Love You Beer next, and yep, you guessed it, yet another impassioned tribute to the drink. Liquid Friends is a major highlight that is dynamic and featuring the best guitar work of the lot.
Face has a bit of a catchier melody to it, Tesla C*nt is a beautiful stripped back ditty with the most exquisitely spoken language being used, and finally is Sober, and it wouldn’t be Oppkast if they didn’t finish on a bouncing number that didn’t even slightly relate to alcohol, would it?
The band capture a belting energy that is persistently high for more or less the entirety of the mad journey, although because of how brief many of the tunes are, they don’t leave much of a lasting impression and tend to blend in to each other, but saying that, in the final third or so, they do display a lot more variety.
There are a mix of positives and negatives to be had, but overall, those of the latter are at a minimum anyway, so their first full-length effort on a whole is a grand success.
*AVAILABLE ON SUNDAY 1ST DECEMBER*
Farnham-based singer and songwriter Harrowman has been making a significant mark in the English folk scene over recent time, a commendable feat that has been eclipsed by the release of his debut full-length album – Rites Of Way – the perfect opportunity to see what he is capable of.
This Fair Land is a delightful way to start, an in-depth track that effectively puts you into the zone. Masquerade truly gets the listener reeled in with an infectious harmony-driven melody and haunting low-note strings producing a great enthralling atmosphere.
Last Orders keeps that entrancing tone rolling on while giving us a handful of lovely instrumental sequences. The acoustics are on top form in Blind Mice, and The Fields Around Our Town is among the most magnetic and resonant of this collection.
Pull The Plug is yet another that grips your attention with excellent singing and the catchiest of hooks, and True Belief is stronger yet, with a sincere maturity emitting from the wonderful lyrics and brought to a real life through the vocals.
Promises has a fine showing of sleek guitar work. Following that is The Busker, easily the most zealous tune we’ve got here that has you tapping your foot along to the sweet beat, and completing the set is the pretty nice Stress Fracture.
So it’s obvious to see where the hype for Harrowman stems from. Rite Of Way is a engaging and varied showcase of a top-notch musician whose talents are put to the test, and the final outcome is an undeniably successful one.