Reviews roundup ~ Robert Jon & The Wreck ~ The Mighty One ~ Looking Glass World ~ J Houston Band ~ Distant Past
ROBERT JON & THE WRECK
Shine A Light On Me Brother
Southern rock, slide guitars, take it to church rock’n’roll. That’ll do. With added brass. I’ll have some of that.
“Last Light On The Highway” from a year or so back was a cracking album and if this taster from the forthcoming album is anything to go by then there is another treat on the way. And I’m not just saying that because we’re long lost lookylikeys.
Honking horns, the legally obligatory female backing vocals, a great guitar solo and the fantastic bluesy, soulful voice of Mr Jon make this up tempo rock and roller a must listen.
Fans of Whiskey Myers, Blackberry Smoke and the great Capricorn releases of the mid seventies should be forming an orderly queue right now.
THE MIGHTY ONE
Torch of Rock and Roll
The Mighty One is essentially a vehicle for Tim Steinruck, a chap who shows that sometimes you have to bide your time.
Way back in the day, his youthful band were signed up by Paul Stanley from the Mighty KISS who produced an EP just in time for the evil that was grunge to shoot down their dreams with a shotgun blast.
So Mr Steinruck hunkered down until it all seemed like a bad dream, re-emerging in the 2000s with The Mighty One. However, it’s not all retro rock and roll as he has actually taken on a few motifs from the world of post grunge. Take a listen to ‘Burden’ if you’re looking for some court worthy evidence. Which isn’t a bad thing as it does stay rooted in the world of hard rock rather than heavy metal. Although ‘Disruptor’ comes mighty close.
He’s got a fine voice and has come up with some excellent riffs throughout the album. It’s also extremely well produced and shows that he was paying attention on earlier releases when Mike Fraser (AC/DC, Metallica, Aerosmith, everyone) and Devin Townsend were pitching in to help out. Of course, they’re all Canadian and I’m reliably informed by a Canadian that everyone in Canada knows everyone else. In fact this one has been mixed by someone called Dave Padden and the only Dave Padden I’ve heard of used to be in Canadian thrashers Annihilator. Canadians, eh.
The record is aggressive when it needs to be but there is always a strong sense of melody running throughout. Album highlight? ‘My Garden’, a song that reminds me of early Masters of Reality, unlike the Mighty One song ‘Master of Reality’ which doesn’t. Having given a spin to their self titled album and “Shift” I can safely say that this a project that is well worth delving into.
LOOKING GLASS WORLD
Some spiky indie rock here from Looking Glass World.
They seem to be looking back to the UK indie charts of 1982 for their sound and influences. So if Howard Devoto playing with The Cure seems like something you would be interested in, then you’re in the right place.
Considering their music only exists in hyperspace they seem internet shy but this seems to be the project of John Penny, a guitarist whose been around for the while, having spent some time in the UK before heading home to the Americas for a number of projects leading to this one.
Is it my cup of tea? Not really. But I used to know folk back in the day who would have happily suckled on this. Add in the fact that the guitar work on ‘Information Age’ is utterly spectacular in a twisted, psychedelic way and I’ve warmed to this more than I thought it would.
In fact there are a few places where a spaced out PXR5 drone creeps in and my ears prick up quite considerably. I’ve filed it under interesting for now. But who knows.
J HOUSTON BAND
This is a good one even if they do pull a fast one with the fiddle driven opening track ‘Big John’.
See it’s the only fiddle drenched one. And I do like a fiddle (missus) what with my early years living with my fiddle making / playing Great Uncle George. But, pushing my disappointment to one side, this is still a really enjoyable release.
Based on the rear sleeve photographs I’m guessing that the trio of guitarist/songwriter Jim Houston, bassist Carolyn Saini and drummer John Chapman have got some mileage under their belts, individually and collectively. This is the fourth J Houston Band album and, according to them, sees them taking a rootsier approach to their blues rock.
I’ll take their word for that but it certainly works across the ten tracks. If you are looking for more straight down the middle blues rock it’s still here with ‘Drivin’ probably the prime example. But then you get a left field turn on ‘Shadfly Shuffle (Reprise)’ which manages to comprise harmonica, funky riffs and a line dance caller. Yes, really.
They get a bit more traditional on the slow blues of ‘The Muse’ and the Chicago styled ‘Twenty Cents’ but it’s nice to hear a band taking a few chances. A real good one.
The Final Stage
Swiss band Distant Past play both kinds of music. Heavy and Metal. They have a song called ‘Kill The Dragon’. Which is heavy metal.
I’ve never heard of them so they can’t have strayed far from home over the years as this is their fourth album since their debut “Alpha Draconis” in 2010, followed by “Utopian Void” (2014) “Rise Of The Fallen” (2016). And this is a good one. Actually, namechecking ‘Kill Of The Dragon’ is a bit of a misnomer as they actually seem to take a post apocalyptic sci-fi theme for this album and judging by those earlier titles I’m guessing that’s a theme.
It’s proper heavy metal as well with influences going back to 1980ish with a hint of White Spirit before they throw is some legally obligatory Priest. And, if I was the kind of person who liked to flaunt his metal roots, I’d say there was Atomkraft in the mix as well. But it’s very 21st century in sound so, thankfully, they’re not one of those bands who think you have to recreate the muffled, recorded in a garage onto cassette sound, so beloved of many.
Musically, they’re excellent with vocalist Jvo Julmy going for the scraping his voice off the ceiling approach while guitarists Ben Sollberger and Lorenz Laederach get on with the business of churning out riffs to great effect. Turns out that this is a new version of the band with only Julmy and bass player Adriano Troiano around from the last release. But they’ve recruited well and on album highlights like ‘I Am Omega’ which judging from the opening few seconds is based on The Omega Man rather than the shitty zombie film which shares the same name as the song.
If you like your metal the way it should be played, then this is for you.
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