Reviews roundup – Whiskey Myers ~ Euphoria Station ~ Roadhouse Diet ~ Matty T Wall ~ Beer Scouts ~ The Outrider
Oh I do like me some Whiskey Myers. Whisper it but I preferred “Mud” to the last Blackberry Smoke review which is not something I ever saw happening.
So here they are with album number 5 and it continues their upward trajectory. The opening ‘Die Rockin’ is the finest southern rock tune you’ll hear this year. Co-written with the legendary Ray Wylie Hubbard (get yourself a copy of his “Off The Wall” record) it’s hard driving with the legally obligatory female backing vocals and does exactly what it says on the tin.
Of course they don’t need me to say so as this has already reached number 1 on the US country chart and breached the Top 10 of the normal chart as well. It’s good to see that music of this quality and the roadwork they’ve put in since their debut came out in 2008 has been rewarded as they’ve done it the old fashioned way.
They do drop in country songs here and there with ‘Rolling Stone’ and ‘Houston Country Sky’ the most countryish of them but when they set their stetsons at a rakish angle and rock out on tunes like ‘Bitch’, ‘Bury My Bones’ and ‘Kentucky Gold’ then it’s the sound of Gods own music. Although, unlike “Mud”. there are a couple of songs that didn’t grab me straight from the off. Hopefully they’re growers but ‘Running’ still leaves me cold after repeat plays. It might have worked better with 12 songs instead of the 14 on offer.
But 90% of the music here lives up to their own high standards which means it’s definitely the southern rock release of the year.
The Reverie Suite
Are you up for a folk / prog rock concept album? With flute. Of course you are. If not, you’re barred.
It’s the second album from Euphoria Station, who are basically Saskia Binder (vocalist/ lyricist) and Hoyt Binder (guitarist/ songwriter) with a large number of guests chipping in. They’ve called them The Americana Day Dream Revival Orchestra which comprises keyboard player Ronald Van Deurzen, harmonica player Tollak Ollestad, flautist Rebecca Kleinmann, violinist Trevor Lloyd, bassist Paulo Gustavo, drummer Chris Quirarte, background vocalist Mike Disarro and percussionist Bobby Albright. And they make a mighty fine sound.
It’s rare for a band to have a fresh sound what with so many bands having gone before but the closest I could come up with is a much heavier Renaissance. The concept, as such, is the life of vocalist Saskia Binder. It doesn’t seem like much of a concept to me but they’re sticking to their story. Basically it takes you from her childhood to the present day with the earlier songs like ‘Reverie’ evoking blissful visions.
Then it’s a journey through the American heartland as she strives to achieve her dreams before ending up in a happy place on ‘Content’. There are some great arrangements and when the flute takes the lead it’s a real treat. Although Mr Binder plays a mean guitar and the Hammond organ and violin flavours really enrich the record. It is one of those albums that bears repeated plays and anyone who likes their prog intensely melodic should be giving this a listen.
To Sweden for some electric devilry. And it turns out to be a real groovy mofo.
I’m auld and Scottish so the first thing the guitars reminded me was of local boys The Almighty before they turned all grungey and shite. But this rocks like a bar steward.
They’ve been around since 2013 and Jonas Kjellgren (vocals and guitar), Martin Haglund (guitar), Mr Pillow (drums, possibly pseudonymous) and Kenneth Seil (bass) really come to play. Between they’ve got some form with the likes of Scar Symmetry, Astral Doors, Spiritual Beggars and others, so they know what they’re doing. And, of course, anyone who cites Monster Magnet (baby) as an influence is going to find a friend of me. I’m still slightly moist in anticipation of the forthcoming “Powertrip” tour. Back in the land of Roadhouse Diet there is a deep, groovy, bluesy vibe to the crashing, heavy tunes.
It’s a great sound and when they riff and solo their way through the title track, ‘Evil’s Got A Hold On Me’ and ‘Payin’ The Devil’s Dues’ it’s a righteous sound that all lovers of the rawk need in their lives. It’s stoner-doom-blues for disco lovers and should be compusory listening. Be wary, though, there is a backwards track to waylay the unwary.
MATTY T WALL
Transpacific Blues Vol. 1
Mr T Wall has always thrown in a few covers on his releases but this time he’s only gone the whole hog and went for a full on covers album to follow up the splendid “Sidewinder”.
He’s also managed to get some A grade guests to pop in as well so there are appearances from Eric Gales, Walter Trout, Kirk Fletcher, Dave Hole and Kid Ramos on five of the eight tunes. Now there is no doubting Mr T Walls ability on the guitar so it seems a bit superfluous but if it manages to get some more people climbing aboard for the ride then fair play.
Things start off well with a barnstorming take on the John Lee Hooker classic ‘Boom Boom’. It’s a fairly straightforward take but enhanced with some slide from Dave Hole. A strong start that crashes on the rocks of ‘Hi Heel Sneakers’. I love that song but the slowed down arrangement here totally misses for me. Kid Ramos comes along in a life-raft to salvage things on ‘Quicksand’ before another miss on ‘Stormy Monday Blues’. There is some absolutely incredible guitar work from Matty but you need a stronger voice to pull that one off. ‘She’s Into Something’ has some tasty work from Walter Trout and the Wall band solo take on ‘Born Under A Bad Sign’ fares much better.
Things close with his trio on ‘Tore Down’ and ‘Crossroads’ which, again, showcases some great guitar work. We’ve all heard these songs a thousand times so maybe some deeper cuts would have been better. However, Matty T Wall remains a remarkable guitar talent well deserving of a wider audience. This should help
Black Point Lulu
Your bandname has beer in it. The opening song is called ‘Let’s Drink Some Beer’. You have my attention.
A US power trio who look back to the seventies and eighties for their musical inspiration. Probably because they were there
Bassist Rob Ruiz, Howard Vatcher (guitar, vocals) and drummer Ken Susan are the trio in question and individually they’ve got a lot of musical history before ending up in the Americana outfit the Sorentinos. But turns out they wanted to rawk hence the Beer Scouts. And they make a fine racket as they crash through songs like the aforementioned ‘Let’s Drink Some Beer’, ‘New Bad News’ and ‘Backbone Juice’. They’re at their best when they sound like a top notch bar band which they do for most of the record.
It’s the kind of music that would go down a treat on a Friday night with a cold one in one hand and a hottie in the other. There is a bump and grind to the rhythms that suit that scenario perfectly and it’s hard to stay still to to tunes such as ‘Guess It’s True’. They’re not reinventing the wheel. They just want (you) to have a damn good time. After all, this is a band whose motto is “Will Rock For Beer”! As would we all.
Out Of The Void
Fancy some seventies inspired melodic rock? Well so does Michael Robinson who is The Outrider.
No relation to the Jimmy Page album of the same name and indeed his take on classic rock is more towards the UFO meets Pink Floyd world. Which is a good place to be. It’s a proper solo album as the entire band of drums, bass, rhythm and lead guitars, keyboards, lead and harmony vocals are all Mr Robinson. Oh and he wrote all the songs as well as recording and producing it at his home studio. Show off.
There are some good songs here and, especially, some excellent guitar work. Take a listen to ‘Sweet Melodies’ if you want to hear some fine guitar lines. A lot of the tracks like ‘The House of Elrond’ have a melodic prog edge to them which works really well and helps to lift the material out of the ordinary. He’s not the best singer but he can hold a tune and in places they sound as though they’ve been treated to an otherworldy feel to them which actually suits the music.
As an advert for his musical and production skills it works really well and I reckon he could add some finishing touches to the work of others as well as his own.
St Columba’s Hospice Tribute Fund for Linda Hamilton