Reviews roundup ~ Troy Redfern ~ Archetype Asylum ~ Quis Deo ~ The Hitman Blues Band ~ Marcelo Paganini
Waiting For Your Love
Do you like to boogie? I said DO YOU LIKE TO BOOGIE? Troy Redfern likes to boogie and to show you how much he likes to boogie this is the lead single from his forthcoming album “…The Fire Cosmic!” which is due in August.
It’s rollicking boogie rock the way that Foghat used to do. And if you don’t own a copy of Foghat Live then the door is over there. It’s chock full of searing slide guitar while Mr Redfern has a sneering tone to his vocal that suits the rambunctious sounds that are going on. He describes it as “bombastic, sassy blues rock boogie” and I can’t find a single word to disagree with there.
The production is fantastic and you’ll be hard pushed to find a better band as alongside his singing and picking he’s drafted in Darby Todd on drums (The Darkness, Robben Ford, Martin Barre, Paul Gilbert), bass guitarist Dave Marks (Hans Zimmer), and guitarist Ron ‘Bumblefoot’ Thal (Guns ‘N Roses, Asia, Sons of Apollo). Beat that!
If the point of a single is to get you moist and jumpy in anticipation of an album then it’s safe to say job well done. A cracker.
Exodus to Infinity
Well this was a jolly romp. Assuming that a concept album exploring the depths of the psyche with the psychoanalytical tools of Jung, Freud and Lacan is your idea of a jolly romp. I’m more pour some more beer on the fire myself but fortunately the music that’s been put together by multi-instrumentalist Danny Mulligan is too fantabulous to ignore.
It’s taken him 5 years to get this finished but I suppose the whole Bachelor of Science in music composition and psychology takes up a wee bit of time. And then there’s the Ph.D programme. You know how it is.
Musically, it’s all over the place but in a good way. If you were looking for a four letter word to sum it up, then it’s prog. But it’s also rock and fusion and funk and a cappella and musical theatre and more. And whatever he turns his hand to ends up really, really good. It’s a surprise of a record and a fine example of never judging a book by it’s cover what with the folk black metal typography. Back to the music and it’s a record that will reward the musically adventurous. If you were to listen to ‘Second Innocence’ you’d be thinking prog. Good prog but just prog.
But then you’ve got ‘Plaza Thursday’ which owes as much to Studio 54 as it does classic rock. And that’s before you get to the a cappella section or the rap segment on ‘Shadow Self’. There’s a lot of funk driven rhythms buried in the grooves with ‘King Other’ probably the best example here although I don’t think there is one single tune that could be pigeonholed in a solitary genre. It’s a remarkable accomplishment and should be high on the best ofs come the end of the year. A classic example of listen without prejudice.
Well Quis Deo are a cheery lot. Although with their name and an album title like that it was unlikely to be a record full of sunshine pop.
And so it proves to be as they set about presenting a concept album that encompasses the decline and fall of the United Staes empire, which is consumed from within by greed and corruption, all helped along by those nasty buggers in churches and religious institutions. They do this via the medium of trash, neo thrash and even a few elements of dark prog metal. The band were formed by brothers Joshua Larson (guitar / vocals) and Dave Larson (drums) and are augmented by long time keyboard player Jonathan Dowell.
They can trace their roots back to the mid 2000s which explains their sound and influences although after some early problems they went on hiatus for over half a decade before deciding to have another go at presenting their world view. They’re good at what they do with the guitars, in particular, powerful and heavy. Some of the riffs are excellent and well worth hearing. They’re certainly not afraid of more complex passages where you really have to pay attention. So not a record for baking sour dough bread to.
Not all the songs are killers but when it all comes together as on ‘Destroyed Invincible’ and ‘Harbinger of Suffering’ then it’s definitey a sound worth hearing if you have a penchant for the deeper side of metal.
THE HITMAN BLUES BAND
Not My Circus, Not My Monkey
Now then, now then, what’s this all about? Alt blues? Odd, sounds like blues to me. Perhaps the alt is there to try and persuade the “kids” to have a listen in the mistaken belief they sound like the Black Keys. They don’t, in case you’re wondering.
Russell ‘Hitman’ Alexander is the man behind the band and I’m hoping his nickname comes from an unerring ability to strike a bullseye on a darts board rather than anything more sinister. He’s been playing and recording with an assortment of folk since the late eighties so knows his way round a record. And there are some really enjoyable tunes here.
It’s one of those records which blurs the lines between blues, soul and old school r’n’b with a few funky backbeats thrown in for good measure. He also seems like an amusing chap if the lyrics to the likes of ‘Buy That Man A Drink’ is anything to go by. There is some great keyboard work running right through the album and as a sucker for a honking horn section, this was right up my alley. I will skip over the Bob Dylan cover as I’m of an age where blood pressure is a constant concern and stick to the original material. You can imagine ‘Walk With You’ as a fifties jump blues and ‘Everybody But Me’ is the best of the ballads with a 60s southern soul feel.
He’s rewritten two Blind Willie Johnson tunes. The pillars of blues that are ‘Nobody’s Fault But Mine’ and ‘John The Revelator’. Now Blind Willie Johnson was the second blues performer I ever heard, after Memphis Slim. Back in the days of black and white. So I shall pass no judgement. It’s a really good album, well balanced, performed and produced. The blues done good.
Presumably not a relation to the actual Paganini, this French/Brazilian musician has been on the go for a while, performing and recording since the eighties.
For this latest release he’s pulled in some of the great and the good including Billy Sherwood (YES/ASIA), Adam Holzman (Steve Wilson Band), Rachel Flowers, Lenny White (Return to Forever), Chad Wackerman (Frank Zappa Band), Jan Dumée (Focus) and many more. Ans if you’re the kind of person who recognises those names then you’re going to know what kind of music we’re going to be listening to. If you’re not, then the answer is prog fusion!
Yes, indeed. Mr Paganini says this was inspired by the death of Allan Holdsworth and the knowledge that someone had to continue the progression that Mr Holdsworth had pursued throughout his musical career. Now I can’t say that this has been achieved but he has ended up with a damn good record. Of course when you’ve got Billy Sherwood singing on your record there is always the danger that it’s going to end up sounding like a Billy Sherwood record. It comes close a couple of times but the songs are distinctive enough to lure your ears away from making that mistake.
One of the pleasures of “Identity Crisis” is that you’re never allowed to settle down and get comfortable. You never know when a flurry of fusion is going to come leaping into what had seemed standard prog fare. Which probably explains the album title. It’s adventurous and interesting. ‘Learn to Love to Wait’ was the highlight for me. Superb melodies and some ridiculous rhythms. But wherever you lay your hat, this is a record that is going to surprise and reward you.
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