Reviews roundup – Jericho Summer vs. Words & Noises vs. Ragdoll vs. The Amazing vs. Hiva Oa

81nj6l6fpel-_sl1500_JERICHO SUMMER
Night Train
Devil’s Blade

Time for some Southern rock, courtesy of the excellently named Jericho Summer, a duo comprising Jay Zeffin and Vanessa Joy.

They’ve both been in the music industry for a long time, but this is their debut album, and they’ve pulled in a few big names to help them out.  The legendary Grammy Award winning country guitarist Albert Lee is here, along with one time Guns n’ Roses guitarist Richard Fortus.  Well, the album is called ‘Night Train’.  Marco Mendoza from Whitesnake / Thin Lizzy is here on bass, someone Zeffin met while working with another ex-Gunner, Izzy Stradlin.  There’s also room for fiddle player Stuart Duncan who has played with Shania Twain and keyboards from Ivor Novello winner Alan Hawkshaw, whose finest moment came when he composed the theme tune for Grange Hill!

I’ve dropped a lot of heavy names there, but it would be for nowt if the tunes were shit.  And I’m glad to say they’re not.  The original material is very strong, and if you’re looking for an easy way into their sound, then the sole cover “Good One Comin On” should be clue enough, as it’s already been covered by Blackberry Smoke.

They can rock it up and take it down, both in equally good measure, and as modern Southern meets country rock goes, this is just about as good as it gets.  Songs like “Bitchin With a Woman”, “Lonely Town” and “Red Neck Cousin” stand up to repeated plays, and if they can get this music out there, then the sky’s the limit for Jericho Summer.

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collectorWORDS & NOISES
The Collector
independent

A third EP from English pop duo, Words & Noises, following on from ‘Beating Heart’ in 2013 and ‘Loaded Gun’ in 2014.

And what it is, is eighties indie-pop. You know the sort of thing that came to a head between 1982 and 1984 when the new wave lot finally worked out how to programme their keyboards.  Chris Selman and Simon Williams (who are Words & Noises) have adopted a sort of lo-fi take on that.

The lead single from the EP was “Play Your Cards”, and it was a wise choice, with hints of power pop at its heart.  The other tunes aren’t so instant, but with retro-pop, apparently a thing, then there is plenty of hope for them in finding an audience.

71fyfzvwwsl-_sl1409_RAGDOLL
Back To Zero
Bad Reputation

The mythical continent of Australasia now, home of AC/DC, Rose Tattoo and Koritni.  So are Ragdoll the latest in a long line of great Aussie bands? Um, well, sort of.  Because they’re a different kind of band from the beloved names above.

They’ve forsworn the power of the boogie and instead, are going gor a more mainstream rock sound which would have endeared them to US radio a quarter of a century ago.  See, even if they are young bucks on their debut album, with a slew of more modern influences, it’s all tinged with a hint of the eighties, which is fine by me.

After an brief intro, they head off into “Shine”, and the almost power trio head off in a melodic rock direction which is very radio friendly.  Something that continues on tunes like “The World You Gave Us” and “Rewind Your Mind”.  I know we’re not allowed to use the N word anymore, but it’s easy to picture Ragdoll being the Nickelback (damn!), in terms of impact not music.  Because they’ve got a lot of crossover appeal.

Best of the bunch is “Love On The Run” which really deserves to be a huge hit.  After a couple of EPs (‘Here Today’ and ‘All I Want Is Everything’) and a heap of touring, here’s hoping Ragdoll can find a way to get their music to the masses.  They’ll like it.

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71p6nggh-6l-_sl1200_THE AMAZING
Ambulance
Partisan Records

Well now, that’s asking for trouble, that is.  The Amazing. I ask you.  Although I suppose as long as you think you’re amazing, the rest of the world can go hang.

See, The Amazing aren’t really doing music.  In finest Andre Preview style, they are using all the right notes.  But not necessarily in the right order.  Which explains the lack of melody or anything remotely resembling a tune.  Now I like some out there stuff, but I like there to be some relationship between noise and music.  And if there isn’t then at least have the common courtesy to be Merzbow.

Instead, there is a lot of droning, ambience, some white noise and a closing ditty called “Perfect Day for Shrimp”.  They say they’re on a “journey to a place where music is free of restrictions”.  Me, I’ll get the bus.

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mk+II+(part+1)HIVA OA
mkII (part 1)
independent

It’s going to be one of those days.  The Amazing did their best to kill music for me, and now it’s time for new material from Hiva Oa.  And I’d rather be on a Polynesian island.

On the plus side, Stephen Houlihan and Christine Tubridy (who are Hiva Oa) left Edinburgh, to return to their native Ireland seeking renewed inspiration. Obviously that didn’t work because what you’re getting is bass heavy electronica with Radiohead like quiet bits.

When they’re not doing that, they’re going a bit ambient and when they’re not doing that they’re churning out nineties indie-rock.  If I wanted that I’d be playing a Longpigs record.  But I didn’t want it then, either.

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