Reviews roundup – Ruth Theodore vs. Reverend Freakchild vs. Raz vs. More Than Monkeyz vs. Eveline’s Dust
You Can’t Help Who You Love
An alt-folk single from a critically acclaimed UK singer / songwriter, this is a prelude to her forthcoming album “Cactacus”, which is out in September. Now, normally I can’t stand this sort of off kilter, hippy, Guardian reader sort of thing, but there is actually something rather engaging about this song.
You can tell where she’s coming from when you read that her new album features musos who’ve worked with the likes of Tom Waits, Regina Spektor, Lucinda Williams and Lou Reed, but her 70’s singer / songwriter meets folk meets the loony on the bus melange is rather endearing.
There are some interesting ideas going on here, and the album could be one to watch out for.
REVEREND FREAKCHILD / RAMBLIN’ JENNINGS
Treated and Released Records
It only seems like about six months ago I was listening to “Hillbilly Zen-Punk Blues”, and telling anyone who couldn’t run away that “if you want to know how to be peculiar, without being shit, then cock an ear to the Reverend Freakchild”.
Serves me right because he’s back with a triple album. Yes, you read that right. A triple album. A brave step, as you’re taking the chance of heading into “Yessongs” territory and ending up with an expensive drinks mat.
To make matters worse, he starts off with a cover of John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’, a song guaranteed to make me punch someone in the face. But when he puts his own bizarro blues twist on Billy Idol’s ‘Plastic Jesus, ‘Who do you Love?’, ‘Death Don’t Have No Mercy’ and ‘Pretty Boy Floyd’ (sadly Woody Guthrie not the eighties glam metal band), you just have to step back and admire.
Disc 2 sees him going all mentalist with twelve different versions of ‘All I Got Is Now’ off the Hillbilly album. No, I’m not kidding. The third disc sees the Reverend presenting an album of acoustic country blues by Ramblin’ Jennings, comprising an all original* set of gospel blues. It’s astonishingly good and means you’ll have to put aside a few hours to listen to listen and relisten. It’s a sprawling and ambitious triple set, but one that is pulled off with aplomb. *apart from ‘John The Revelator’.
The Best Of Raz
One of those bands who’ve flown under the radar for several decades now, Raz are finally releasing a best of. It covers their thirty two year career and features songs going back to their 1984 debut record, “Criminals Off The Streets”, and carries on to their 2015 release “Madison Park”.
And as you would expect, it’s a mixture of eighties almost melodic rock and seventies power pop, which considering their long association wit the likes of Joey Molland (Badfinger) makes perfect sense. You’ll also find names like Joe Vitale (Joe Walsh /Crosby, Stills & Nash / The Eagles), Stu Cook, (Creedence Clearwater Revival) and Marc Droubay (Survivor) popping in to play.
Across 19 tracks you do stop and wonder quite how some of these songs never brought them mainstream success, with the likes of ‘Say Ya Love Me’, ‘Back in the Shadows’ and ‘Naked on the Floor’, the kind of thing that should have been radio hits. Fans of power pop and melodic rock should make up for lost time here.
MORE THAN MONKEYZ
Off to the South of France now to catch up with More Than Monkeyz, a dreadfully named band who’re looking to the world of grunge, nu-metal and southern groove for their influences and their sound.
And Fred Simoni (Vocals), Antho Joppien (Guitars, Backing Vocals), Alex Ancel (Drums, Backing Vocals) and Eric Galliani (Bass) make a fair fist of it, as they sound like you would expect, with perhaps, a soupcon more stoner than you would have thought. It’s the bass lines that make everything sound a bit desert rock like, and there is nothing too wrong with that.
They point out the likes of Pantera, Clutch, Deftones, Meshuggah, Soundgarden and others, and you can hear where it shines through on the best songs, which include ‘The Liar’, ‘Violent Dudes’ and [koff] ‘The Titty Twister’.
Italy now, and an album from up and coming prog rockers, Eveline’s Dust. And on the evidence of this, they could definitely be ones to watch.
They’ve come up with a releases which showcases the best of old school Italian prog alongside enough modern prog references to keep your average Steven Wilson fan happy. Nicola Pedreschi (keyboards and vocals), Lorenzo Gherarducci (guitars), Marco Carloni (bass) and Angelo Carmignani (drums) do a bang up job, combining intelligent arrangements with more accessible entry points.
Songs like ‘Awake’ and ‘A Tender Spark of Unknown’ are the ones that are going to lure new fans in, as they cunningly masquerade as fairly straightforward melodic prog tunes, before hitting you with jazz like moments. For a bunch of young uns self releasing an album, they’ve also managed to make it sound big. A clever trick and a band to watch out for.