Reviews roundup – Jay Gordon vs. Venrez vs. Sorrowfield vs. Bullrun vs. Samantha

JAY GORDON & Blues Venom Woodchoppers BallJAY GORDON & Blues Venom
Woodchoppers Ball
Shuttle Music/City Hall

Blimey!  that put me in my place.  Of course, I should have realised from the picture and the band name that this wasn’t going to be laid back acoustic blues.  But it certainly shook the cobwebs from the rafters as Mr Gordon and has band blast through some rockin’ blues.

This album is a bit of a curates egg, as it combines six new tracks with six from some of his earlier releases, so if you’re a long time fan, be warned.  But, if like me, your new to his sound, well it’s a real treat.  It’s mainly originals, but he knows how to kick out the jams on some old chestnuts, with Robert Johnson’s ‘Travelin’ Riverside Blues’ the best of them.

But he takes no prisoners on his own songs, and a quick listen to ‘Chainsaw Boogie’ should leave you in doubt as to what he does.  His band are well deserving of co-billing, and fans of Michael Katon will find a home here.

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VENREZ Children Of The DronesVENREZ
Children Of The Drones
Monarch Music

Album number three from Venrez.

It was towards the end of last year that I heard their previous release, “American Illusion”.  I reckoned they were post-grunge rockers with a few classic rock riffs who weren’t doing anything that Alice In Chains didn’t do first, and reckoned it was an dragged out too far.

Well, nothing much has changed, except they’ve managed to produce a mini-album dragged out too far.  Because they have expanded their sound a bit and improved on the songwriting front.  So,  there are a couple of here that are miles ahead of anything on the last album.  ‘Hang The Predator’ and ‘Sacred Blood’ are absolute peaches, which show that they are capable of doing good things.  A few more like that and I’ll be a full blown convert.

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SORROWFIELD The Great AbductionSORROWFIELD
The Great Abduction
SF Records

Off to Germany now for some metal, and the fourth album from Sorrowfield.  They’ve been on the go for a dozen years now, so they certainly know how to play their instruments.  And they’ve got the best name for a bass player ever, in the shape of Thomas Kattwinkel.  Yes, you read that right.

They specialise in power-ish metal, with a few thrash influences, and the odd nod to Scandinavian melodic metal, so imagine a mix of Edguy, Metallica and In Flames, and you won’t be a million miles away from what they’re trying to achieve.  And they’re pretty good at it.

There are some powerful tunes on offer, with a fine array of riffs, but they also remember to throw in some hands in the air choruses that would go down a treat with a festival crowd.  A proper festival, that is, Wacken not Reading.  If you want to try before you buy, lend an ear to ‘Running Man’ or the horn (!) enhanced, ‘Blood Of My Blood’, both of which are metaliic delights.  A good one.

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BULLRUNBULLRUN
Bullrun
Studio Safran

Ah, France!  A country drenched in the power of rock’n’roll.  Well, not really.  But here come Bullrun, who claim to be influenced by the likes of Johnny Cash, ZZ Top, Motorhead, Volbeat and Metallica.

Well, I get the last two, especially Volbeat, but the rest of the names haven’t left much of a mark.  So, what you’re getting is fairly straightforward eighties hard rock with a few metallic tinges, and some songs about sex, some songs about wanting sex, and some songs about how great they are at the sex.  That would be ‘Motordick’.  With an umlaut.  Oh, yes.

Rémy Gohard, Marc Dezafit and Gaël Berton probably sound great in a sweat drenched cellar bar, with the amps set to 11, but it’s not one that I would be slapping on the stereo in the comfort of my own home. However, they do manage the ultimate for a French rock band, by not sounding like a French rock band.  Well played.

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SAMANTHA Backstage CabaretSAMANTHA
Backstage Cabaret
independent

Finally, for today, something a bit different from Samantha, who is currently wowing them at the Edinburgh Festival.  She’s a mononomenclatured, up and coming cabaret artiste who has just put out her first recording.

Now I’m a sucker for a mixture of show tunes and standards, and there is no doubting that Samantha has a very good voice, and that she puts over the songs well.  But she does some things better than others.  Give her a good show tune like ‘As Long As He Needs Me’, ‘Don’t Rain On My Parade’ or ‘Be Italian’, and there’s no stopping her.  Her voice works best in an upper register, so when she drops down things don’t fare so well.

Considering it’s low budget, the sound is generally good, but you’ll want to skip over ‘I (Who Have Nothing)’ and ‘It’s Not Unusual’ which utterly fail.  But that’s why God invented the skip button.  Because she’s no Sir Tom Jones. However, the rest of the album is an enjoyable listen, and serves the purpose of highlighting what Samantha is capable of in a live environment.

http://www.samantha.co.uk/

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