Reviews roundup – Intelligent Music Project ~ Rusty Ends ~ Fleeting Arms ~ Seas of Mirth ~ DevilsBridge ~ Slingshot
INTELLIGENT MUSIC PROJECT
Intelligent Music Project V: Life Motion
I’ve spent some time with previous releases from the Intelligent Music Project so when album number 5 popped through the letterbox I was far from disappointed.
The combination of melodic seventies prog and soft rock is very listenable and this latest album is no exception.
The project is the brainchild of Milen Vrabevski, a Bulgarian chap who always seems to be assemble his own version of the Avengers with a click of his fingers. Simon Phillips (drums, musical co-producer) is back for more and this time around the headline vocal names are Ronnie Romero from Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow, John Payne, formerly of Asia and Richard Grisman from River Hounds. It’s especially nice to hear the voice of John Payne again.
Musically, it’s smooth and silky, infiltrating before you know it. The press release mention the Alan Parsons Project and it’s probably the closest in tone. As much as I enjoy the edgier numbers like “Don’t Let Them Win” the real winner for me was the big ballad “Where I Belong” which touched me in places I’d rather leave undisturbed.
Immaculately performed and produced, this is one that fans of melodic rock should be listening to.
RUSTY ENDS & Hillbilly Hoodoo
The Last Of The Boogiemen
Do you like your drinking music with a hefty shot of Western Swing? I know I do and if you’re akin to me (and may God have mercy on your soul) then this is for you.
The guitar work of Rusty Ends(!) will have fans of Asleep At The Wheel sitting up and paying attention and when he really lets rip as on a tune like “Unholy Roller” then it’s a truly joyous sound. It’s stripped down with the majority of songs just featuring Mr Ends along with the rhythm section of Uncle Dave Zirnheld and Gene Wickliffe. As such there is a lot of space to breathe and that really suits this set of original tunes.
The opening “Cheap Wine” is a great opening sally and he even busts out some hiphop grooves on “Hillbilly Hoodoo”. Ish. Elsewhere he’s happy to throw in a few jazzy licks hither and thither and the saxophone of Gary Falk pops up on a couple of tunes to fill out the sound. No-one is going to claim that Mr Ends is a great singer but his semi spoken, partly drawled approach works well.
It’s maybe one of those days but I was really drawn to the heartbreak of “I Forgot To Say I Love You” which breaks up the 11pm on a Friday night vibe with a 3am on Saturday morning and you’re the last man standing in the bar staring into a double Glenlivet. Or so I’m told. There’s a soulful edge to a lot of what he does and when you realise that many moons ago his guitar accompanied groups like the Shirelles, the Driftersand the Marvelettes it makes perfect sense.
A real treat.
The Voodoo Architect
Are you up for some Canadian psychedelic stoner doom? Of course you are. Who isn’t.
It’s an odd cove this one. When it’s good it’s buttnumbingly good. At other times they sidestep into average post grunge. Unfortunately the opening track is one of the latter. But I pride myself on being too lazy to reach over for the stop button and I’m glad I did as things definitely headed in an upward trajectory.
They’re very partial to some 1975 Geezer Butler bass riffs and as no-one has ever improved on those why wouldn’t you be. The guitars sometimes veer off into almost fusion territory which knocks you off balance a wee bit. But in a good way. They’ve also got a really good handle on how to do the quiet / loud / quiet bit, lulling you into a gentle groove before making a determined effort to rip your head off and throw it to the wolves. Try “Day Trippin” if you don’t believe me.
The groove that they get into on most of the tunes is a good one and the kind of thing best experienced in a subterranean club at 1am with water dripping down the electrics and your tenth bottle of dark FÜRSTENBERG (ah, memories) really getting to work on your ADHD medication. At least that’s where “Rust” wanted me to be.
The production is a bit basic but this is all about love at first feel.
SEAS OF MIRTH
Sub Marine Dreams
Do you remember thon time that wee radge fae Lasswade “accidentally” gave me some horse tranquilisers and I ended up in Ward 3 at the old Infirmary.
Well this is the noise I heard in my head.
It’s taken a fair while but now someone has finally got round to putting that on record. Turns out it’s a nine piece band who’re rather fond of all things aquatic. Mind you what chance did they have when their respective parents named a couple of them them Sally Squidbusiness and Read Admiral Arse Beard. Who along with Al Judders, Cannonball Paul, Glen Fingle, Zorba, The Barrel, Ro’Skimbo and Smitty Clamhands make up Seas of Mirth.
How to describe this? At times it’s very proggy. Then it all goes a bit Gong on uppers. A thought that will keep me awake for quite some time. There is a song about an octopus with far too many appearances of the letter K. Which is in the lower ten percentile of my favoured letters of the alphabet. Then they decide to take the happy pills and go to an outdoor rave somewhere near Woolfardisworthy. Much to my surprise this is their third album following on from a 2012 debut and a 2016 followup. I should be concerned but, frankly, I’m past caring.
There are mandolins, bouzouki, what sounds like a Little Tikes Tap A Tune and a myriad of way over there arrangements which can leave you quite breathless.
If the end of the world is actually nigh I’m glad I got to hear this afore I went.
Well that was rather enjoyable. A six track EP from Swiss melodic metallers DevilsBridge.
And, let me tell you boyu, they’ve found a damn good riff and they’e going to have a lot of fun with it. Their riff is ridiculously catchy and I’m grateful that this is an EP as any more and my already dodgy neck would have been in serious trouble.
It’s actually quite clever how they manage to mix up some Swedish style melodic metal riffs with almost pop sensibilities. A neat trick and one that makes songs like “Captain Devil” instant favourites. The guitars are relentless and with the howl of Dani Neil soaring over the top the songs really come to life.
The production is immense and the arrangements, especially from the rhythm section, are surprisingly complex. My actual favourite is “Fire Free” which has a groove so pounding it made the light fitments shudder and shake in fear. Which reminds me. I like an EP. Concentrates the mind of the band. There used to be lots of mini albums floating about and I’m casting my vote for more.
In the meantime this is the sort of metal that needs to be encouraged.
Pieces In Relation
Electric Fire Records
And what do you know. Another EP!
This one is a posthumous cheery bye from Austrian psychedelic stonesters Slingshot. They had records out in 2013 and 2016 but this one, the first with new singer Kiko Perez, sees the band knocking it on the head.
At least they’re going out with a damn good record under their belt. The four main songs lean towards the more commercial side of desert / stoner rock. More QOTSA than Kyuss but with enough interesting bass runs and keyboard swathes to hold your attention at all times.
Perez has a good voice but it’s what’s going on behind him that makes it all worthwhile. For sure, there are some grungy moments which normally gets my back up, but they carry it off well. The swinging “Scratched Record” is the winner for me, built on a repetitive groove that alludes to the title but never bores.
They bulk things up after the four studio tracks with two live numbers which shows that they could cut on stage as well.
St Columba’s Hospice Tribute Fund for Linda Hamilton