Reviews roundup ~ Mahogany Frog ~ Six Gun Romeo ~ Robert Stoner ~ Audio Reign ~Sarah McQuaid
In The Electric Universe
Gaaaarrr!! Do you know how many times I’ve looked at this record and went “ooh, Mahogany Rush!” Seven, that’s how many times. And they’re Canadian as well. But very different from my beloved Mahogany Rush.
It’s been a while since Mahogany Frog released a studio album although not as long as Mahogany Rush, Fact fans may want to know that Frank Marino described the latter as “The Grateful Dead meets jazz”. Which sounds like the worst thing in the world which just goes to show that you should never let a musician try to describe what they do for a living. Mahogany Frog, however, are more like Faust meets jazz. And I don’t mean Charles Gounods Faust.
So what you’re getting here are lots of swooshes, bleeps and klangs alongside some robotic and hypnotic chugs. Add is some psych, some Future Sound of London dancey vibes and a healthy dose of synthesisers having a mental breakdown. While one doesn’t want to bandy the term Krautrock around for fear of offending people who get offended by things there are nothing to get offended about, anyone who has more than a passing interest in Amon Duul II will find a lot here to keep them going during another self enforced period of basement dwelling. The drummer out of New Order was a big Amon Duul II fan. I couldn’t hum one of their tunes but he’d get a kick out of this.
I’d like to claim that ‘Octavio (including The Ascension of the Moonrise Children)’ was the best tune(?) here but sadly, despite the joy of the title it finishes second behind the seventeen spaced out droog moments of ‘(((Sundog)))’ which overcomes its surfeit of parentheses to officially Blow Your Mind”. When I do retire to the top of the hill with my sharpest butchers knife, this is the kind of sound that will be running through my brain.
SIX GUN ROMEO
Despite all evidence to the contrary, Six Gun Romeo are Canadian.
And what they’re getting up to o’er there is sixties Britblues influenced shuffles along with a wee bit of slap and tickle type Western shuffles. Which is nice.
They really do like a shuffle and there are plenty of them on offer here along with some rather nice John Lee Hooker styled boogies. It’s all delightfully out of time (but not out of time) and in the modern world where shredding seems to have become integral in a lot of so called blues, it’s quite a refreshing change. There are certainly a few good tunes here with ‘Short Sided Long View’ and ‘Black Diamond Ring’ well worthy of the repeat button.
Shame then that some of the songs are almost pure pop in nature which makes for a slightly dysfunctional listening experience. An extra point for a singing drummer but, sadly, a point deducted for the drummers singing.
Year of Pain
Hmm. Tricky one this. See, there are some lovely tunes on offer here. But …
Whether you take to this or not will depend on where you stand vis-vis singers who can’t sing. Now there are a helluva lot of people out there who will go to their graves clutching a Leonard Cohen record in their cold, dead hands. Or worse, a Bob Dylan album. I’m not one of them though. But if that does seem like the sort of thing you’ve got written in your will, then I can heartily recommend this to you.
Mr Stoner has been writing songs for a long time but this is his debut album. Like many, the turmoil of the last 18 months has brought things to a head and this is the result.
The music is uniformly excellent in that slightly left field singer / songwriter mode and some of the guitar playing (acoustic and pedal steel) is just an absolute delight. Take a listen to ‘Holy Grail’ and you will realise that, as usual, I’m right. It’s a record rich in melody with some excellent lyrics to go with it. But listen before you buy.
Has this been out before? It sounds like I know some of these songs. But I’m easily confused so let’s pretend I don’t know what I’m talking about.
So, they’re from the mythical continent of Australasia, they seem to really like that whole melodic post-grunge thing. You know, Alter Bridge and whatnots, and they’ve been on the go for a decade or so.
They certainly know how to rock hard which makes a pleasant change in the world of modern so-called rock. There are some excellent riffs on offer and if you take a listen to the likes of ‘Betrayal’, ‘Senses’ or ‘Shining Light’ and post-grunge is Your Thing then you’ll thoroughly enjoy yourself. Me, personally, myself, I can take it or leave it but when they turn it up to eleven as they do on ‘This Portrait’ then my ears do perk up quite considerably. I’m not going to marry them and have their babies but a mild frolic round the back of Bannermans wouldn’t be totally unpleasant.
It’s also good when they get a wee bit experimental as per ‘Make Me Feel’ which takes a few unexpected twists and turns over its seven minute length. I enjoyed this but some of it did wash over me. However, if there’s an Audioslave fan in your life who hasn’t bought a record since “Revelations” try and coax them out from under the duvet with this.
If you’ve ever wandered through these pages you’ll know that we think Sarah McQuaid is great. Proper great not internet gr8. So the imminent arrival of a new album has seen an outbreak of moistness over here in the isles.
“The St Buryans Sessions” won’t be out till October 15th but to keep you going, Ms McQuaid is letting ‘Last Song’ out to you, the great listening public. It is, of course, great, although the emotional, personal impact of the song completely passes me by as I didn’t come from one of those things called a “family”. I’ve always wondered, mind.
It’s different for Sarah who says “It’s a really special song for me. It’s been in my live set forever and always gets a really strong reaction — I see people crying, and then a lot of the time I wind up crying, too! Which is why I tend to save it for the encore, so it doesn’t matter if my mascara starts running.”
The album was recorded live in the medieval church of St Buryan, and not even the lack of an audience can take away from what is a remarkable and powerful performance with her rich, passionate voice front and centre. The acoustics are superb which is why more churches should encourage music of all types and there’s even a full concert video to go along with the album. As a taster for what’s coming it certainly does its job and you’d be a fool, nay, a damned fool if you didn’t head over to her BandCamp page, cash in hand. Go. Now.
St Columba’s Hospice Tribute Fund for Linda Hamilton
The Rocker monthly reviews sampler now available on Spotify