Reviews roundup ~ When Rivers Meet ~ Shari Puorto ~ The Furys ~ Unforged ~ Bodyguerra
WHEN RIVERS MEET
One Road Records
Did I like the last record from When Rivers Meet? Good grief, man, it’s only been a year. A fucking long one, mind. Luckily, I have the internet instead of a memory, and it turns out that, yes, I did like their debut album.
Now I know you’re all on the edge of your seats about now. Does he like the new one? Have When Rivers Meet fallen from grace? (hah!) Did he really get bitten on the bum in Belize by a woolly opossum? The answers to these questions, in order, are Yes, No and Yes. Sorted.
Doubtless you’re one of these pesky people who want details and stuff so, just for you. It’s not particularly different from the debut. Well, it wouldn’t be. That was good, it was only last year, so why mess with a winning formula. If anything, it actually rocks a bit harder than last time around with Grace Bond (lead vocals, mandolin, violin) and Aaron Bond (guitar, vocals) kicking up a veritable storm in places. I like it when they do that. I’m in the mood for dishing out a vicious beatdown to someone and “He’ll Drive You Crazy” would work perfectly for the soundtrack in my head. The brief breakdown works a treat as well.
It’s not all balls to the wall mayhem and they do find time for some moments for the ladies. Or the fellas as we’re all supposed to be in touch with our emotions nowadays. Let me tell you, they’re grossly overrated. I had my third one this year and it’s been all downhill since. “Don’t Tell Me Goodbye” is the one that serves up blooming heaps of those emotions. But you probably guessed that from the title. It’s just lovely and if I wasn’t heavily medicated with neural suppressors right now I’d be in a hell of a state. Aaron gets a wee bit of a vocal solo and the harmonies are a delight.
It’s one of those records where there isn’t a song you’re going to skip over. There’s a bit of a lull mid album but by the time “Testify” kicks in you’re in no doubt that is what we highly trained professionals an absolute belter of a record. The production is excellent and they’re not afraid to get a wee bit mucky and garagey when they need to. It may only have been a year but this shows they’ve got plenty of good tunes in the bag. Buy it.
Live At Bogie’s
Little Lightning Productions
We’ve long been fans of Shari Puorto round my way but I’d somehow failed to grasp the fact that she’d released a live album. It’s not like me. Maybe I did know but was put off by the fact that the main school bully when I was a lad was called Bogie and I just didn’t want to go there. Luckily, it turns out Ms Puorto hadn’t been round his house for tea and a knees up. It’s a different Bogie.
I’ve been listening to and passing comment on her records for years but what with her being 6000 miles away in the American colonies I’ve never had the opporchancity to catch her live. I never will but this excellent release at least gives me a flavour of what she’s like in concert. Twelve tunes, a shit hot band and some rocking blues. As it should be. The band in question on this performance were John DePatie (guitar), Frank Scarpelli (bass), John Greathouse (keys, vocals), and Mike Sauer (drums, vocals). They certainly do a bang up job and the energy level is kept turned to maximum the whole way through.
For your listening delectation, there were eight originals and four covers in the set. And she certainly likes to get about on the covers what with Randy Newman, Savoy Brown, Blind Faith and Candi Staton all getting a look in. If I had to choose then it would be the Savoy Brown tune. “I’m Tired” that takes the biscuit. Red hot doesn’t begin to describe it. On the originals I was well taken with “Six Months Sober” and “Sugar Daddy”, songs I am verra familiar with. Vocally, Ms Puorto is faultless and can do raunchy and soulful at the drop of a hat.
If you are not familiar with the work of Shari Puorto then you’re a damn fool. And don’t forget to check out her latest project, “Lightning’s Lessons”, where she uses the blues to teach your kiddywinks how to do the reading and writing. Who knows, many years from now, they could be sitting in an attic typing stuff that no-one will read. Just like your beloved Mr H.
Arcane Alley Records
When I saw this, my first thought was “poor Davey Arthur. Have they kicked him out?” Then I remembered it wasn’t the seventies and this is The Furys not The Fureys.
Although this lot do actually go that far back. But they’re American punks not Irish drunks.
Turns oot they date all the way back to 1977 when their debut single was released. I was still at the school and grooving like a groovymofo to Showaddywaddy. I think it’s safe to say I win.
The Furys seem to have had an on/off existence with a series of intermittent releases with this one being their first since 2015. So fair play to them for plugging on regardless. Musically, they’re actually more 1979 New Wave than 1977 punk although the Americans always did have a different view of that particular word. The most interesting part of the record is actually the lyrics. I mean, you’re always going to grab my attention with a song called “Miss Havisham Regrets”. They’ve also got “Please Mister Kafka” in their armoury so bonus points all round.
Did I like this? Meh. This sound was never the sound that floated my boat but there were enough moments of interest to keep me going from beginning to end. Which means if you do like indie pop new wave then this sort of thing is most definitely going to be your Sort of Thing. However, I would like to take this opportunity to point out that “It’s The Day That Was That Nearly Wasn’t” is, officially, an absolute Banger! Musically, it’s the toppermost of the poppermost here and comes most heartily recommended.
I’m not convinced that they’ll achieve the goal of founder member, Jeff Wolfe, who said “After numerous multi-generational requests, The Furys have been reformed to continue their campaign for world domination.” But it’s good to have ambitions.
Eye For An Eye
Can you unforge something? Isn’t that just melting down? Any blacksmiths in the audience, please make your way to the front.
Unforged. German, don’t you know. A wee bit thrash, a wee bit Eyehategod. A whole lot of hate. Opening tune, “Serial Killer” containing the lyrics, “four fucking cops, waiting in my trunk”. Not fans of the old polizei then. The title track is all in favour of exacting revenge. Which is fair enough. In fact, I reckons this record contains more instances of the word ‘die’ than a Welsh male voice choir covering “Die, Die, My Darling”. In joke for my Welsh relatives there. It’s the way I tell them. Incidentally, that’s some film that. Scary.
Musically, they’re extremely aggressive which shouldn’t come as a surprise. The rhythm section, in particular, are mightily impressive and if there’s a Pantera tribute act out there looking for members, these are your guys. The vocals are a bit more one dimensional but do they job and the guitar solos, mainly, shred. They’re at their best when the vocals tip towards screamo which makes “Antihero” and “Fight For Your Life” particular highlights.
It’s a decent record which should do them some favours of there in Eurometal land.
Fire & Soul
Or to give them their full name, Guido Stoecker’s Bodyguerra. You’re fooling no-one by putting your name in a small font. It’s your band, you wrote most of the music and yours is the first face we see in the booklet.
To be fair if I reformed my last band, Ian Gillans Fucking Useless Bongos, I would rechristen them Mr H’s Ian Gillans Fucking Useless Bongos, with Mr H In SUPERSCRIPT. Anyway, Bodyguerra. Where were we. Oh, yes, it’s an odd one. They’re sort of an eighties sounding melodic hard rock band. [checks the photo of Guido] Makes sense. I suspect he’s a veteran musician.
There are also some boogie meets blues rock riffs, straight down the middle hard rock and the legally obligatory power ballad. He can certainly solo like a wild one with some of the guitar work really straight out of the top drawer. Am I a fan of the vocals? Not so much. Ela Sturm does a decent job but when that little extra bit of power is called for, it’s just not there. A bit like me thinking I can still run for a bus. I know what to do but when I put my foot down, nothing happens.
The opener, “Stay Free” is one of the best tunes here and makes you think you’re in for a barnstormer. And there a few barnstormers. But the slower numbers don’t really come off with “Behind The Clouds” a real buzzkill. “Steelheart” is another winner. As it should be with a name like that. They get al metal like on “Breakout” which works really well and it’s got a cracking production helped along by Crematory guitarist Rolf Munkes.
Should I mention the bonus tracks? I don’t really want to. But, deep breath. An acoustic, German language version of the “The Ballad of the Green Berets”. Yes, really. And an original, jazzy Christmas song called “Xmas Is Special”. I’m going to put those down to that world famous German sense of humour. You may want pause after Track 11.
St Columba’s Hospice Tribute Fund for Linda Hamilton
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