Reviews roundup – The Powwow Rock Orchestra vs. The Inexperienced vs. Karmen Buttler vs. Rebel Punk vs. Dan Doiron
THE POWWOW ROCK ORCHESTRA
Blimey! You don’t get many of these to the pound nowadays. It’s your actual all star rock concept album. You know the kind of thing the late Eddie Hardin was so fond of. This one comes from Simon Webb, a composer, musical director, arranger, and keyboard player whose worked on TV shows, London’s West End, The Royal National Theatre, as well as Hollywood and independent films.
Everybody Pow Wow! is a new concept album featuring the singing talents of Robert Hart and Emma Pears; and Bernie Marsden, Gary Grainger, Jay Stapley, and Wes McGhee on Guitar, Jimmy Copley on Drums, Simon Edwards on Bass and Percussion, Alan Stewart on Bass Clarinet and Sax, Simon Webb on keyboards and vocals, Steve Stapley, Stella Betton, Bernie Marsden and Kevin Williams on backing vocals, the Kick Horns and many others.
It tells the story of Thomas Christian, a miner from the north of England, who travels to America where he falls in love with Rosie, a native American from the Oglala Sioux tribe. Mr Webb is keen to highlight the plight of modern day Native Americans, with parallels drawn between then and now. Musically, it’s a mix of melodic prog, pop and musical theatre, and it’s the latter that this needs to be pitched at, with an excellent cast and story arc.
Former Bad Company vocalist Robert Hart is in excellent form, as are all the performers and with some strong songs like ‘Don’t Leave Me’, ‘Crazy Horse’, ‘Chase The Sun’ and ‘Amerikaye’, this is a recording that really needs to be heard. An excellent job that hopefully results in a West End producer putting in a call.
It’s five long years since the debut album from The Inexperienced appeared. But as the leader of the band, Alex Meadows, spends most of his time plucking a bass in the shadow of Sir Tom Jones and his groin, he’s probably too tired for much else.
He’s also played with Will Young and Jamiroquai, but we won’t hold that against him. Now, assuming you know Pink Hedgehog, you will know that they (he) specialise in slightly fey psych pop. And this one man band is no different.
Which means it’s a real listening pleasure as Mr Meadows warbles his way through some melodic charmers like ‘Something To Sing’ before regaling us with a tale of the healing properties of the 528hz frequency (the cunningly titled ‘528hz’) and a moral tale about the dangers of low level elecromagnetic radiation (‘Microwaving’). And that’s just the first three tracks!
Elsewhere, there are some moments of melodic near prog, a revisit to that seventies favourite, the talk box and some delightful olde worlde synth sounds. Splendid stuff.
Daze Of Love
Well it serves me right for being polite about a singery / songwritery type person recently because before I could seal up the letterbox a hundred weight of albums landed on me, all of which seemed to be straight out of Lillith Fair circa 1997.
But just to prove that it is sometimes worth the effort of wading through the muck and glaur, up popped this rather delightful album. Turns out Ms Buttler has been at this music malarkay for ages, with a debut out fifteen years back, and this record sees her collaborating with her multi-instrumentalist father Dan Buttler on a set of jazzy folk pop, replete with excellent songs.
I’m not smart enough to spot these things, but this may turn out to be some sort of concept album, as there is a seamless, thematic flow to a lot of the material. Granted, a few songs washed over me, but then I’ve always had a low tolerance level for hippy claptrap. But they’re in the minority, as well presented and arranged songs like ‘Something Great’, ‘Humming Bee’ and the downbeat ‘Winter’ grab you from the off. The latter is no Atomic Rooster, but it’s melancholy sound made it my favourite from the off.
Most of the music is deceptively simple, but that’s a clever trick to pull off, and if you’re looking for something mellow but with depth, you should give smart and sassy jazzy folk pop a go.
Love & Hate
i’m not a big fan of punk, as too much of it is three chords, attitude, and a lack of songs. That and living next door to Wattie from the Explioted back in my Wester Hailes days. But sometimes you stumble across a punk band who remember that you still have to write a good song before you smear it in spittle. And Rebel Punk are one of those bands.
Hailing from Sacramento, the four piece Rebel Punk are very much an American punk band, so it’s Green Day and Social Distortion that they’re looking to, both of whom weren’t averse to sneaking a melody in hither and thither. And so it is here.
They blast their way through a dozen punk’n’roll anthems, any one of which would have been big back in the day. And by back in the day, I mean the nineties when bands like Green Day managed to have big, pop hits before wimping out, rather than after. Songs like What Went Wrong’, ‘It’s Gonna Be Alright’ and ‘Down To The USA’ are as good as it gets in this genre, and deserve to be heard, both there, and in a wider world.
Stand Back: I Don’t Know Loud This Thing Goes
Well, if the blues thing doesn’t work out for Mr Doiron, then he can always get gigs as a Ronnie Wood lookalike, judging by the cover.
He’s from Cape Breton, which was first port of call for my Auntie Alice when she emigrated back in the fifties, so we’re practically family. But I won’t let that sway me. It’s not pure blues as he likes to veer into soul and rock, but it’s impeccably performed and very enjoyable.
It’s his third album and a well arranged one, with some excellent organ work augmenting the sound, leading to a fuller, richer experience. The best of the songs include ‘Killing Each Other Trying To Get Into Heaven’ and ‘Don’t You Know Who I Think I Am’, the titles of which should warn you that he also has a way with words.