Reviews roundup – Buckets Rebel Heart vs. Thorsten Quaeschning vs. Shamall vs. Darling West vs. London Plane
BUCKETS REBEL HEART
20 Good Summers
It seems to have taken forever but it’s finally out after a three year Pledge campaign! Yes, former Humble Pie, Bad Company, Adrian Smiths ASAP, 720, Samson, The Jones gang and everyone else guitarist Dave “Bucket” Colwell has finally finished this long mooted album.
And it’s a cracker if you yearn for classic seventies rock with tons of attitude, melodies to die for and musicians who seem to love what they’re doing. Last time out it was Bucket & Co with a host of special guests. This time around he’s stuck to a core band although there is still room for some added musical firepower. He’s even back with his eighties bandmate 720/Torpedos drummer Paul ‘Taff’ Edwards and has even resurrected a couple of tunes from those days with album highlight ‘Customised Car’ one from those far off days (replete with stunning female vocals from Lyla D’Souza).
If you have a yen for classic melodic rock that is a wee bit rough around the edges then you’ll find a lot to love here. It’s actually not a million miles away from what he was doing during his Bad Company stint. And that’s actually high praise from me as that was my – wait for it – favourite era of the band. There I said it. Cop a listen to ‘Here Comes Trouble’ or ‘Company of Strangers’. Then tell me I’m wrong. That said there is nothing to dislike about this record (bar the rather unwieldy band name). Top players playing top tunes.
Cargo: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
When is a Tangerine Dream soundtrack not a Tangerine Dream soundtrack. When it’s a (deep breath and hope the spellchecker doesn’t blow up) Thorsten Quaeschning soundtrack.
For sure, he’s only a latter day member and had nothing to do with offerings such as ‘Sorcerer’, ‘Firestarter’ or ‘Legend’. But he’s certainly studied them closely. Why else would have Edgar Froese handpicked him to carry things onward. Anyway, this has nothing to do with the streaming telly series that’s on the go just now. Instead it’s for an independent film that takes place in a cargo container (hah!) and only has one actor – Ron Thompson. Which sounds like a great way to make a film on the cheap.
Now there is less than zero chance of me ever watching the film but I’m guessing it will be dark, bleak and claustrophobic. In which case the soundtrack has done it’s job, being all of these things. As you would expect, it’s chock full of vintage synthesiser sounds with some guitars and percussion, as well as a few strings. And it is very TD like. So if that’s your thing then this will definitely float your boat.
And we’re staying in Germania for our next offering. Turns out that Shamall celebrated their 30th birthday a couple of years back with a 5CD compilation and then put out this odds and sods compilation.
It’s made up of unreleased material from their 2013 doubler ‘Turn Off’ as well as some rehearsal material and a couple of other tunes. I’m guessing that means the vaults have been stripped bare although with the huge number of albums they’ve released, who knows!
It’s the brainchild of multi-instrumentalist Norbert Krueler who does most of the work with the help of some guest musicians including Matthias Mehrtens (guitar) and singer Anke Ulrich but it’s largely instrumental, electronic prog. Diehard progsters will also be pleased to know that as with the parent album, ““Continuation” is an anti nuclear power diatribe dealing mainly with the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster of 2011. So, not an easy listen. Actually, anyone who arrived here with the Tangerine Dream related review above would find that a lot of the keyboard work here will suit them down to the ground.
It’s quite retro as befits someone whose recorded output started back in 1986, so fans of later Pink Floyd can come on without fear. You’d never guess it was a collection of offcuts as the material is strong and well produced. An interesting one.
While I Was Asleep
To Norway now. But not for some death metal. Nope, Darling West are an Americana outfit. I’m told it’s very popular in that part of the world and that they even call it Norwegicana. But Wee Fat Gadgie doon The Vine is notorious as a wind up merchant so he might be taking the piss.
Turns out this is their third album which may be news to their PR people who used the words “the debut album” in a big bold font near the top of the press release. But number three it is and you won’t be surprised to learn that like everyone else in the world of Americana they pay homage at the Gram Parsons / Townes Van Zandt altar. So, plenty of plaintive, world weary moments. Me, I like a chorus and a melody so my seventies were more Poco / Atlanta Rhythm Section but each to their own.
They are very good at what they do as evidenced by playing at SXSW in Texas, Folk Alliance in Kansas City and Americanafest in Nashville as well as supporting Lucinda Williams. Their last record even won a Norwegian Grammy. So there is a market out there and the songs are definitely lifted by the vocals, which are most listenable. Tunes like ‘After My Time’ and ‘Ballad Of An Outlaw’ hit the sweet spot so if you’re looking for your new Americana fix then this is something worth investigating.
New York Howl
Anyone up for some dark, eighties influenced electro-pop? You are. Fair play. Here’s your new favourite band.
I’m told that they’re veteran New York musicians but as I’ve never herd of any of them or the assortment of bands they used to be in they might just be at the lash. For all I know they’re 14 year old boys sitting in a basement with a fancy computer. However, they’ve certainly got the touch when it comes to the aforementioned dark, eighties influenced electro-pop.
The opening tune is a bit misleading as it’s bit on the up side but by the time they groove into the likes of ‘Cloud Light’ and ‘Hearts’ you can hear many an early Depeche Mode getting slightly moist under the latex boxers. It’s a record full of old school synth sounds, downbeat beats and hints of goth pop. One for the trenchcoat wearer / asymmetrical haircut botherer in your life.
St Columba’s Hospice Tribute Fund for Linda Hamilton