Reviews roundup – Snakecharmer vs. Skymall Solution vs. Coal Creek vs. Rich Hopkins and Luminarios
For those who were out in 2001, Snakecharner was originally founded in 2011 by former Whitesnake members Micky Moody and Neil Murray (hence the name) along with Laurie Wisefield (Wishbone Ash), Harry James (Thunder, Magnum), Adam Wakeman (Ozzy Osbourne), and Chris Ousey (Heartland).
Their debut album came out in 2013 and was an enjoyable mix of seventies hard and melodic rock. Move on a few years and Micky Moody has jumped ship (as is his wont) and they’ve brought in Irish blues guitarist Simon McBride to replace him. And it hasn’t made a blind bit of difference as this carries on where the debut left off.
Which means I really enjoyed it. After all this is the music of my youth and even if you’ll struggle to find any Whitesnake influences there’s still plenty of old school rock for you to enjoy. Chris Ousey is an excellent singer even if his other bands have left me cold but here he’s wrapped round some excellent songs and musicians.
If anything it falls into a place where the post Paul Rodgers Bad Company used to sit much to my enjoyment. Songs like “That Kinda Love”, “Follow Me Under” and “Fade Away” could easily slot into the Brian Howe / Robert Hart era Bad Co which is a very good place to be. For those of us who are a “certain age” and yearn for the days of yore then this is the place to be.
Off to Italy to meet up with Skymall Solution who seem to be of the opinion that Deftones and Tool are still a thing.
Fair play to them for holding on to that thought even if the rest of the world has tried hard to forget that alternative metal ever existed. But if you do hold that particular era close to your heart then Skymall Solution may be your new besties.
To be fair they do have an excellent singer on board in the shape of Simone Kircoff who, in case you were wondering isn’t a post op Bad Company drummer. The songs all fit into that late nineties template of alt meets nu metal. Take a listen to “Running Reflection “, “Hold Your Breath” and “Touch Me ” and pretend you’re at Woodstock 1999. But without the mindless violence.
Blimey! No sooner have I left Rome behind and headed off to Münster, Germany and I find myself waylaid by another alt metal band, This time it’s Coal Creek.
They’re a wee bit more in the centre than Skymall Solution so they’re mixing their Deftones in with the likes of the more commercially minded Stone Sour and their ilk. Which makes them more listenable to my ears at least.
As well as having a top notch production they’re also not averse to laying something on for the ladies so there a couple of ballads which could actually get them some mainstream airplay with “Till We Can Forget” the top of the pops.
That aside it’s a strong set of nineties tinged songs which could and should cross over to a wider audience.
RICH HOPKINS and LUMINARIOS
My Way Or The Highway
Neil Young anyone? Not for me thanks. He was always the sixth most talented CSNY member somewhere below Dallas Taylor and Greg Reeves.
But somehow he (Young) managed to parlay whining into a six decade career influencing countless musicians over the years leading to the dire world of Americana. Rich Hopkins has been at this lark for 25 years now going back to SideWinders and Sand Rubies before alighting on his current Luminaros.
And it fits in a place between seventies Young and the likes of Calexico with lots of wide open spaces, hints of country rock lite and acoustic singer / songwriter. He’s certainly got some well known mates with ex-Bob Dylan drummer Winston Watson , bassist George Reiff from Joe Walsh’s band, and Alejandro Escovedo’s guitarist Jon Sanchez all putting in appearances.
It’s the type of record that does appeal to the readers of Mojo magazine and with some jangle and paisley pop tucked in there as well, songs like “Angel of the Cascade”, “Come Hell or High Water” and “Walkaway Again” will push this into a few year end best-ofs.