Reviews roundup ~ Chantel McGregor ~ Rymo ~ Dewa Budjana ~ Airbus

Reviews roundup ~ Chantel McGregor ~ Rymo ~ Dewa Budjana ~ Airbus

The Shed Sessions Volume 1 & 2

Tis Rock Music

Like a lot of musicians, blues rock guitarist / vocalist Ms McGregor tried to keep busy during the Chinese bat pox and did some online streaming every week. Those were split between acoustic and electric-ish sessions and that’s why there are two volumes here. Volume 1 is acoustic and Volume 2 is electric, although that largely seems to involve a piano and some subdued electric guitar.

The first, acoustic, record sees her having a bash at some favourites and some fan requests which basically seem to revolve around seventies singer / songwriters. And Metallica. But it’s ‘Nothing Else Matters’ so it may as well be seventies singer / songwriter. Sadly, for me, that means two Neil Young songs and no Stephen Stills songs which confirms the fact that life is fundamentally unfair. But it’s sort of made for with the inclusion of some Blind Faith, John Prine and ‘I Can’t Make You Love Me’ as made famous by Bonnie Raitt. And her version of ‘Sledgehammer’ by Peter Gabriel is fun. It’s a nice record to listen to but you won’t play it often.

Over on the not really more electrified set things start off with that fucking awaful Radiohead song, ‘Creep’. Cue the skip button. Of her own material, ‘Walk On Land’ and ‘April’ are real standouts while she does a good job on the Tori Amos song ‘Winter’ (although the Atomic Rooster song ‘Winter’ remains the greatest song ever recorded called ‘Winter’). I’m no Steven Wilson fan but listening to Ms McGregors version of ‘The Raven That Refused To Sing’ and I’m almost tempted to give him another go. Oddly enough, these records feature some of the best vocals she’s ever recorded so maybe sitting in a wardrobe with a microphone is the way to go.

I can’t claim that either of these is essential but for the vocals alone I’m glad they’re here


Controlled Substance Sound Labs

Jam bands, eh. Can’t live with them, can’t legally set fire to them.

Some of the worst musical moments of my life have involved jam bands. Usually at festivals which at least gives you the option of shooting up in the dub tent. With free soup.

Ryan “RyMo” Moran normally plays the drums in Slightly Stoopid, a band who continue the fine jam band tradition of having an, um, stupid name but at least do you the courtesy of integrating some different influences into their sound. Umphrey’s McGee fans will know what I’m talking about. And, yes, that’s another stupid jam band name.

Anyway, Rymo has gone and done a solo record and got some special friends in to help him. Most of whom you won’t know but Tony Levin pops in one song. But then are there any records he hasn’t popped in on. His Slightly Stoopid colleague Paul Wolstencroft is here as well and I only mention it because I’ve now got stovepipe hats on the brain.

Musically, it’s what you’d expect from a drummer in a jam band solo album. Jam band minus the vocals. To his credit there are some really enjoyable tunes here. Mainly when he takes a look overseas and draws on some Middle Eastern influences. The psychedelic meets Labanese hash of ‘Palindrome’ is a fine example of that with some lovely keyboard bass work. But for every one of them there’s a ‘Scooby Snax’. And it doesn’t even have the courtesy to be the Fun Lovin’ Criminals one. But there is a lot of good music to unpack here even if it’s a record I found easier to dip into than absorb at one sitting. It also sounds great so it’s a Macca styled thumbs aloft to Mr Rymo and his co-producer Tom Griesgraber.

I don’t know if Songlines magazine still exists but they (and their reader) will love this.



Balinese guitarist Dewa Budjana specialises in jazz fusion meets Eastern scales with prog rock notions.

This must be the fifth (ish) time I’ve heard one of his records as he’s a regular on the ever reliable MoonJune release schedule and I reckon this is one of his best. The opening, title track, is probably the best thing he’s ever recorded as he explores a ridiculous palette of sounds over the course of eleven minutes. That’s one of the three tracks that has Simon Phillips on percussion and he adds in some incredible textures.

Joey Alexander hails from the same part of the world as Dewa Budjana, and some of the piano playing he contributes is quite ridiculous. Listen to what’s going on under the guitar work and be amazed. ‘Sabana Sahanti’ is probably the one he shines on most. It’s just gr8. My favourite, though is probably ‘Kmalasana’ which is the subtlest of the music on offer. But it just works its way into your bones in a slightly insiduous manner. Be warned.

If that whole fusion thing is your thing then forty minutes in the company of this will be time well spent.


Spira Records

That was a terrible name for a band. There is a more famous Airbus, you know. But that didn’t stop this bunch of Portishead youngsters knocking out three albums back in the olden days.

But it wasn’t to be and they eventually split up. Twenty years later they’ve fished around and found some old material that didn’t see the light of day first time around and are now presenting it to you, the Great listening public.

It should come as no surprise that it sounds exactly like an early nineties British pop/rock group. Although, to their credit, they do seem to have a few Coral/Zutons type weird signatures to their name. And that’s always a good thing. They’ve plenty of the spiky guitar lines that the likes of Franz Ferdinand successfully recycled from the early eighties and the slightly drawling vocal style beloved of so many Mancunian pyromaniacs.

To be honest, musically, there is absolutely no reason they shouldn’t have had some Number 26 chart singles and a mid-afternoon slot on the Reading stage. A song like ‘If There’s An Angel’ or possibly ‘Save Yourself’ would have had the inkies cheering them on from the side. They give good vocal harmony and if you’ve got a fortieth birthday looming and are thinking earnestly about your long lost youth and dreams, then this could be a soundtrack for your breakdown.

No video so here’s an oldie

St Columba’s Hospice Tribute Fund for Linda Hamilton

The Rocker monthly reviews sampler now available on Spotify

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