Reviews roundup – Dice vs. Katie Sutherland vs. Space Raft vs. Walter Trout
And today, we’re starting with the twentieth (yes, 20th!) album from German melodic progsters, Dice. Hence the smarty pants title. Hey, we’re dinosaur rockers, and this is number 20. Funny, yes.
Anyway, if you’ve been paying attention, you’ll know that Dice were founded in 1974 in Westfalia, and have been churning out large amounts of excellent, melodic prog, mainly since the early nineties. I’m a fan of their rather splendid prog sounds, and am delighted to report that this is another good one.
As always, it’s fairly gentle, ultra harmonic and lengthy workouts that give Dice their purpose, and this release sees five of those, alongside the more moderate ‘Dreamscene” (The Seventeenth)’. Fans of Dave Gilmour led Pink Floyd will find this a welcome home.
And now it’s off to sunny Kirkintilloch, which is where Katie Sutherland aka The Artist Formerly Known as Pearl & the Puppets (TAFKAPATP), under which name she played shows with the likes of Elton John and the Sugababes. Which is mebbe why she’s decided to go under her own name. For shame.
But you can see why she would have been picked for those shows, as her melodic pop vignettes are rather delightful. She’s got an extremely listenable voice and a way with words, and this Pledge funded album is a real treat. The lead single (and title track) is emblematic of what you’re getting, although it is one of the sprightlier tunes on offer.
It’s an album chock full of well arranged, memorable melodies, with ‘Canvas’ and ‘‘Life Is Beautiful’ the absolute standouts, although this is one of those records where you’ll hunt in vain for a bum note or a bad song.
Milwaukee now, for some indie rock. Now you’ll know that indie rock and I go together like dandelion and bumfluff, so when the pr bumph mentions names like former Mystery Girls guitarist Jordan Davis, TJay Christenson of Temper Temper on keys, Srini Radhakrishna, bassist of Chicago group Circles among other projects, and current Call Me Lightning drummer Tyler Chicorel, then I glaze over faster than icing on a Baynes ring doughnut.
But, unlike most of their ilk, they actually know how to write the odd good tune,and when they hit the mark on ‘We Are Not Alone’ and ‘Rescue Mission’, then they very much add up to more than the sum of their parts. In fact, it might be a bit too well produced in places, for the average hearing impaired indie fans, but with hints of sixties psych pop in amongst the dull by numbers, Guided By Voices bits, they may break out in the world of American college radio.
The Blues Came Callin’
Last out of the traps today, is the latest album from blues rock elder statesman Walter Trout. Something that surprises the likes of me, who remember him as a Bluesbreaker. Of course, this album is overshadowed by his health problems, which have seen him undergo a liver transport this year, after a wee while chapping on the reapers door.
But you wouldn’t know it from the music, which is straight down the middle Trout. For sure, there are some lyrics which seem to nod to his personal problems, but he knows how to pen a muscular blues rock tune, and there are plenty of them here. The first and last songs are the most open, with the self expanatory ‘Wastin’ Away’ and the closing ‘Nobody Moves Me Like You Do’, which must be for Marie Trout.
In between there are some excellent songs and performances with ‘The ‘Bottom Of The River’ having his best guitar work, some John Mayall provided piano on ‘Take A Little Time’, and some fabulous boogie on ‘Willie’. His old boss appears on the instrumental, cunningly entitled ‘Mayall’s Piano Boogie’, as well as adding organ on the title track, but this is very much the Walter Trout show, and as good as anything he’s recorded.