Reviews roundup – LA Guns ~ Louise Connell ~ Dead Demons ~ House Of Secrets ~ Stephen Ford Group
Golden Robot Records
Does anyone know who is in LA Guns these days? Do the members of LA Guns even know which band they’re in? In case you’re wondering very careful research (reading the inner sleeve) tells me that this is the one with Steve Riley. So not the one with Tracii Guns or Phil Lewis. Although Riley used to be in their version of the band. As did bass player Kelly Nickels , last heard of back in 2000. Keeping up are you? Perhaps the ongoing legal case will tell us. Eventually.
Anyway new vocalist / rhythm guitarist Kurt Frolich is now singing and former Ratt bassist Scott Griffin is here as well. To be fair, Phil Lewis was one of the luckiest vocalists in the business. I’m so old I saw him with Girl and in the late Bernie Torme’s band. And even then I thought he’d overachieved. So even though Frolich is no great shakes the genre of sleaze rock does not command great vocalists. But he can sneer which is absolutely essential.
And if, like me, you grew up in a world of sleaze and hair metal then there is a lot to recommend this. It brings to mind a basement bar with a low stage and the fug of a hundred, knuckle held, cigarettes. Which is where this music belongs. There are plenty of low slung riffs and lyrics about ladies. Some of the songs wouldn’t have been out of place on some of their eighties albums with ‘Why Ask Why’ and ‘Well Oiled Machine’ guaranteed floor fillers back in my Stones haunting days. They haven’t forgotten the aforementioned ladies either so there is the legally obligatory power ballad in the guise of ‘You Can’t Walk Away’ which would have been played just after the 10pm happy hour finished.
There are a few moments that don’t work with the acoustic ‘Would’ a definite skip but as long they can crash out biker anthems like the title track then there will be an aged tattooed audience lapping it up. A lot better than I thought it was going to be, this was a real blast from my past.
It’s charidee time courtesy of the the artist formerly known as Reverieme. TAFKAR if you will.
Now I’m a fan having once described Ms Connell as “the best thing to come out of Airdrie since the 211 to the Motherwell Asda”. After the name change she drifted away from the electro tinged alt folk Reverieme. into more traditional singer / songwriter fare but the songs remained beautifully crafted. This is no exception.
Written last year after Ms Connell saw a news report about child poverty this download / CD will see all proceeds going to local food banks. So even if it was shite you’d be doing a Good Thing. Of course it isn’t and even if it isn’t going to top of my playlists from her back catalogue it shows that even in a dark place Ms Connell can craft a melody and right incisive lyrics.
If you want the physical release rather than the download then you get three versions of the title track and ‘Shrapnel’ taken from her splendid “Rale” EP from last year.
Did you like the first Iron Maiden album? Perhaps some early Witchfynde? Then you’re going to like Dead Demons.
The Yorkshire based outfit trod the covers circuit and had the obligatory line up changes before a name change saw them recording this original material. And it really is like the NWOBHM revisited as they batter their way through this 4 track EP.
The eponymous opening track is probably the most Maidenesque while ‘Line Em Up’ has that vintage feel of having been recorded in a dual carriage underpass. Relatively new vocalist Mark Hale certainly has the paint stripping voice you want for this kind of material while guitarist / songwriter Chris Weatherall can certainly rip out a riff.
The best of the songs is the closing ‘Dead Man Walking’ which has a melody and chorus that would be guaranteed to get a few fists pumping. Some might find the drum / bass mixes a wee bit offputting but I grew up in a world of demo cassettes (ask yer Granda). I enjoyed it but it may be one for those of a certain age or younger devotees of True Metal.
HOUSE OF SECRETS
Some Danish post grunge now with the debut album from House Of Secrets.
And if you’re looking for the easy comparison then you will find a lot of Pearl Jam spattered across this release. Could be worse. Could have been Mudhoney inspired. Which would have seen it hurled from the top floor.
It’s not all 1991 though as they have a lot of modern rock sounds in there and they never shy away from a melody when they stumble across one. The big bonus is singer Rasmus Kamelarczyk who has a fantastic rock voice especially when he belts out a scream. He’s really good. They do the sensible thing and hit you with their best tune straight off. That’s ‘Better Way’ and it rawks like an utter bastard. They slow the place with ‘Who’s The Fool’ and let their inner Nirvana leak out. Shame. But there a good few tunes here to wet your whistle with the almost stoner sound of ‘Mescalin’ a real treat. Well I suppose peyote and desert rock do go together.
It’s got a really Big production sound which considering everything bar the drums was recorded in their own studio is a real achievement. They even manage to pull off a delightful ballad in the guise of ‘No Turning Back’. There is real talent and potential here and if they were able to get out there and play these songs then I reckon they could really go somewhere.
STEPHEN FORD GROUP
Stephen Ford Group
Well if you find a logo you like then stick to it. Of course, for a moment there, I thought I’d heard this before with the only change from their EP of a few months back being a colour change from blue to black.
I quite liked that EP from the Canadian four piece whose self description was “a rock based fusion band combining ambients sounds with improvisational lead guitar”. I kindly translated that for you as jam band and pointed out some rhythmic sounds that reminded me of Widespread Panic. Which, as jam bands go, is a good thing. Now they’re back with a full length album and it’s really enjoyable.
It takes balls to kick off your album with a dreamy, psychedelic song called ‘Butterfly Effect’. But they do and my one complaint (remarkably) is that it wasn’t long enough. I wanted to hear that spidery guitar line go on for another couple of minutes. Then ‘Icarus Rising’ arrives and the words Wishbone and Ash pop into my head. Apart, not great words, together a beautifully melodic sound. And as my head was now officially alright I was able to settle down and just really listen
They rarely get out of mid groove but there is enough variation to save it becoming tiresome. Mid album they get a bit bluesy and that’s where the Snowy White reference I made in my EP review comes back to mind. The eight songs drift by in under half an hour and as I mentioned earlier I do have a slight issue with that. A tune like the swirling acoustic ‘The Lost’ is something that needs more exploring and when it ended in under three minutes I was outraged. Outraged! How dare they do that to my favourite song on the album. Still, leave them wanting more.
If I was trying to promote them, odd though it may sound, I’d be punting this towards the likes of Prog magazine as I reckon that’s the area they’d find an audience. Back in the summer I liked their EP. Six months later I loved this. Good work, fellas.
St Columba’s Hospice Tribute Fund for Linda Hamilton