Since emerging on the Glasgow scene five or so years ago, the quartet of Anchor Lane have seen a swift rise and developed into one of the key young, fledgling rock acts that Scotland has to offer, and their potential has been put to the test with the release of their debut full-length album – Casino.
The opener Blood & Irony kicks off pretty plain and simple, not much to it initially, but suddenly towards the end, they totally let loose with an explosive climax. Now they set a proper pace with Fame Shame, where the energy is off the charts and that especially benefits from the avid vocals and prominently hot, stimulant riffs.
Voodoo drifts along to a juicy, steady groove and the chief hook is quite enticing, and then we get a great display of lyrics in the title track. But with Clocks, the boys return to pure, honest, good old-fashioned rock and roll at its finest, complete with the excitement, the dynamic rhythms, the passion; the whole lot essentially.
The stirring Stone Cold Hearted sweeps along being helmed by excellently tasty basslines, and following on from that is the fantastic Shell Of Me, hands down the highlight writing-wise, where in a mature fashion they really manage to pull through the necessary emotions and get you drawn in.
Familiarity is restored in the cracking Flatline, which is so damn catchy, and in combination with the contagious chorus and top notch drum beats, you sit there biting your lips desperately trying hard to not chime in and boogie along, and boy, is that a challenge.
And if you thought the bass was cool before, it is doubly so in the belting Dead Run, which also happens to scream with an intoxicating buzz that couldn’t possibly not get you fired up to another degree, and they keep that frenzy firm and frenetic right through into the supreme finale, Honey.
Given their growing popularity and established standard, Anchor Lane had a hefty task in delivering a record that lived up to the hype, and live up to the hype it did.
Casino is from bell to bell a feverishly rollicking, unforgettable trek that succeeds in presenting a mixture of thrilling and depth-fresh content, and as such, this is the evidence that the band are the future of Scottish rock music, and if they’re able to excel at this early stage in the game, then they are going to grow into something truly phenomenal down the road.
If you want to talk about a band who are riding a flux of momentum at this present moment, Lucia & The Best Boys are on fire and only getting bigger, and set to elevate to higher heights yet with their new Eternity EP.
Dazzling synths serve as the intro to City Of Angels, an utterly radiant and astonishing tune which fires up the energy levels in no time flat, brimming with sharp drum shots, solid riffs and a wonderfully flowing melody. The lead single Good Girls Do Bad Things has an appealingly darker, punkier vibe flashing back to a few decades past, but still remains vivid and vibrant, coming equipped with a catchy chorus, awfully nice harmonies and a neat showing of synths.
The surge simmers down for My God, where Lucia herself steers the sublime tune with her absolutely stellar, magnetic voice, and that helps in making sure the strong lyrics resonate with the audience, and other minor details such as the good mix of chords and keys add up to a grander whole, and they punch it back up a notch to finish on Flames, which swings to an enjoyably wavering, particularly bass-focused rhythm partnered up with the great guitar work.
After a number of years on the circuit and a couple of touted previous releases, Lucia & The Best Boys have resolutely outdone themselves here. Everything is improved upon, topping all prior stuff they’ve put out, and the members have upped their games to a level like never before.
Lucia & The Best Boys have made a decisive statement, and it’s that they are ready to advance to the big leagues, and I’m confident that they’ll be starting off that campaign by becoming one of Scotland’s most distinguished breakout acts in 2020.
Fat-Suit are just one of many mass ensembles prominent in Scotland today, and perhaps one of the very best too if their latest album Waifs & Strays is anything to go by.
Rumblings is a perfect introduction to what the group have to offer, being an engaging number that flips up, down and all around, commencing quite lively, settling down for a milder guitar-driven middle, and gradually leading to a juicy payoff. They waste no time and kick off hot with Keo. The sax in particular is a delightful joy to the ears, plus they continuously cram layer after layer of bustling instrumentations as they go.
The Crane And The Crow is a relatively smooth going piece that is chocked to the lid with brass, but Countryside Quiet is considerably different in tone, and keeping true to the title, it’s a pretty merry, light-toned song with a touch of atmosphere as an extra booster. In stark contrast, Brum Doing A Wheelie is so jubilantly vibrant and bouncy to a point that you’d be dying to shake your hips while a big fat grin is plastered on your face.
The keys are quite nice and the bold basslines are gushingly supreme in Caretaker, and the drums come through with a fair amount of intensity as they progress towards the finish. Uh-Oh fires out the gate quickly, although outside of a few nifty spots, it doesn’t quite have the same pulse as the previous tracks. Things improve again with Mombasa, where a cool, ambient beginning transitions into another brimming tune packed with energy, and they soon wrap up with the simple, subdued Lunar Milk.
I cannot believe it’s taken me this long to discover Fat-Suit, but better late than never, I suppose. This is one of the most entertaining hours of music that I’ve experienced as of late, the majority of which evokes literal physical reactions in the most positive way possible. Not many can achieve that, so as far as I’m concerned, this is something respectably special.
THE PEDALJETS – TWIST THE LENS
Hailing from Kansas, The Pedaljets are undeniable veterans of the American scene, having spent decades touring around the block and honing their craft, and they are still going strong today, as demonstrated with the forthcoming release of their first album in six years – Twist The Lens.
Disassociation Blues is a nice solid opener to get things moving, being fuelled by this driving drum beat. Meanwhile, Placid City Girl fittingly enough strolls at a casual pace, features a keen hook and has an old school pop vibe to it.
Certain cuts such as Downtown and Loved A Stone are straight-forward but quite melodic, others including Uncounted Heads, One Away and The Fader are beseechingly bouncy, and the likes of Transfer Is Done and Sleepy Girl are slower and more subtle, while showcasing good writing and notably nice guitar chords.
This Is Sepsis is a superb track that is rocking, catchy and chocked with freaking sweet solos, and the other main highlight has to be What Only Cats Chase, which makes an astounding emotional impact.
All in all, a great record tied up by a sound collection of songs with enough variety to them to keep it fresh on the first and eventual respective listens.
*AVAILABLE ON FRIDAY 14th FEBRUARY*
IN ASSOCIATION WITH MULE FREEDOM
Gab De La Vega from Brescia, Italy describes himself as “a singer-songwriter with a hardcore punk background”. That was more than enough for me to dive in and check out his latest creation – Beyond Space And Time.
He fires out the gates in stupendously energetic fashion with Phoenix From The Flames, getting a buzz ignited instantly, and he settles into a groove from there with the decent Story Of A Human Being.
The emotions are in full effect with the milder YYZ, but the excitement crops back up in Perfect Texture, renowned for a great hook, and the strings make for a nice addition.
The lyrics of songs such as Rosary Of Days, As One and the harmonica-laden Words Unspoken have a significant latching power that keeps the attention wholly drawn in; Gab’s healthy voice a major factor in that.
We’re also regularly treated to fast and furious bangers like Bomb Inside My Head, We’ve Already Seen All This and Something’s Not Ok, before he eases out tenderly with I Still Believe.
As far as new discoveries go, Gab De La Vega has been a worthy one, and as Beyond Space And Time unfolds, it becomes clear quick that the man is not only able to give us some rocking tunes that are sensational, catchy blasts, but the writing is authentically personal and almost effortlessly captivates.
The dude has handfuls of experience under his belt and has visibly applied his developed skills to the best of his ability, and as such, the final resolution is seriously satisfying.
IN ASSOCIATION WITH EARSHOT MEDIA
A perpetually growing presence in the USA national punk scene, Washington quartet and Wiretap roster members American Television continue their roll with a banging new album entitled Burn It Down.
As you’d expect, they kick off in heavy-hitting fashion with Awkward Universe, but Standing Still is the first track where the lyrics come forth into the limelight, and impressively so as they are spouted with plenty of bitter hostility behind them.
The guitars are on firm form in Dead And Gone, and at least doubly so in the exhaustively immense Drinks, accompanied by chunky bass rumbles and stinging blasts of drums along the way.
There’s no rest for the wicked as they continue the charge through the relentless Parasite, Dad’s Song is short and snappy, and while not quite as crazy, Technology hits the mark with the writing for sure.
Wasteland, USA is solid enough, the words of Misprint are a shining facet, and lastly Great Divide makes for a good, catchy finish.
While it loses a little steam nearer the end due to a red-hot middle third, Burn It Down on the whole is a high class effort, an emphatic rush grounded by some noteworthy commentary on the dire state of the world today, and punk rock fans should very much be seeking this out.
IN ASSOCIATION WITH EARSHOT MEDIA
THE RHUBARB – Black Sun
Over the course of the last few years, The Rhubarb of Glasgow have been quietly climbing up the ranks in a bid to establish themselves as the city’s definite doom ensemble, and their upcoming Black Sun EP will surely help them in their case.
They really lay heavy into the stoner influences quite quick in Drag Me To Hell; the guitars sounding particularly gritty, and especially with the awesomely addictive chorus highlighted by the dual back-and-forth between Sean’s cool vocals and Hannah’s gorgeous harmonies. They completely flip the dial for a solid minute and crank up the pace, briefly returning to familiar territory before exploding onto a mental climax.
The Waters welcomes us with these thick, ominous chords and looming drum taps, near the halfway point considerably boosting in scale and becoming something sweet, albeit maybe a little too stretched out.
Right from the get go, Part-Time Suicide is super grungy and deliciously so, the bass tones disgustingly thick and the drum beat more potent, and the singing is again top notch. Save for a couple of iffy spots, this has a driving energy to it and definitely takes full advantage of the lengthy runtime.
The last song I’d Do Anything goes in a conspicuously different direction, with more attention being focused towards the writing side of things, and it all culminates in a raging buzz.
Despite suffering from a few hiccups that are distracting, The Rhubarb have nonetheless showed a hell of an improvement in their games since their humble beginnings and are growing into a legitimate force with each passing day.
*AVAILABLE ON FRIDAY 17th APRIL*
With much love and help courtesy of Nicole from Moonstruck On Clydeside, I had the opportunity to discover Ronan Francis Doran, who has launched his new Our Friends, The Dead project, and the first product under this banner is the Spilled Wine EP.
He enters steadily crawling into Moth Unto The Flame, shrouding the listeners’ ears within a thick ambience, and as he maintains the mood while subtly raising the pace, he impresses with some skillful acoustics, engaging hooks and a mysterious, commanding vocal presence.
The title track is considerably more involved, complete with persisting drum beats and more good guitars, and it’s here that we truly get to see one of Ronan’s strengths that makes him stand out, and that is the unpredictability of his music, where he goes off in a sonic tangent that leaves you unsure where it is headed, but keeps you curious along the way nonetheless.
The final of the bunch is The Wolf And The Mountain and it is the best yet. Ronan’s singing style is oft-kilter but unique and thoroughly captivating, and as such, the writing hits all the right notes, and for him to be able to evolve the content and retain interest while doing so for a lengthy 7 minutes is admirable.
Undoubtedly one of the most different artists I’ve come across as of late, and he has kicked off this venture superbly with a trio of mesmirising, almost hypnotic pieces that capture your attention and give you a craving to hear more.