Album Reviews

This man stood on the stage at Woodstock with the legendary Mountain and from then on rock stardom and respect was guaranteed. Unlike bands like the The Who and Santana for example who amongst others went on to Stadium filling outfits. Mountain remained a heavy rock purists dream. 

Now aged 65 and recently loosing the bottom half of his right leg to amputation following complications from diabetes. Leslie West returns, accompanied by guest appearances from Slash, ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons, Zakk Wylde, Toto's Steve Lukather and Joe Bonamassa, with, Kenny Aronoff playing drums on ‘Unusual Suspects’. 

The album is pure blues rock this time around and was completed before Leslie’s operation and with those aforementioned alumni of guitarists adding a helping hand. 

Nice piano and Steve Lukather‘s (Toto) acoustic guitar combine with Leslie on the opening blues boogie work out of ‘One More Drink for the Road’. Low down and dirty, ‘Mudflap Mama’ features Slash. Two songs in and already sparkling guitars! 

‘To The Moon’ is just Leslie with the band and it’s a smooth rock song, that explodes into an anthem. Straight back to the special guests with Billy F. Gibbons. ‘Standing on Higher Ground’ was recorded standing toe to toe in a Los Angeles Studio. It has Gibbon’s trademark guitar all over it. (ZZ Top got one on their first major breaks supporting Mountain on tour, way back when) and is a real rocker. 

Willie Dixon and Eddie Boyd’s blues standard Third Degree is re-recorded for this album by Leslie and this time with Joe Bonamassa along for the ride. It’s a stunner. Zakk Wylde appears on Nothing Changed and again the blues ferocity drives the song. 

The power house behind all the songs is drummer Kenny Aronoff and with half the songs on the album ‘guestless’ is gives the album great contrast. 

Whist the cover of ‘I Feel Fine’ does not really add anything to the song, the matter is soon put right with a superb rendition of Willie Nelson’s ‘Turn Out The Lights’ with West,Wylde and Slash on acoustic and electric guitars. It’s a gem. 

It’s been a long road for Leslie West and with recovery and health going forward it’s gonna just get longer. 

Pete

8/11

 

1. One More Drink for the Road 

2. Mud Flap Momma 

3. To the Moon 

4. Standing on Higher Ground 

5. Third Degree 

6. Legend 

7. Nothin's Changed 

8. I Feel Fine 

9. Love You Forever 

10. My Gravity 

11. The Party's Over 

12. I Don't Know  (Bonus)

13. The Beetlejuice Song  

Unusual Suspects is released by Provogue Records on 19th September. 

Mountain   

Provogue Records  

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Released on the new Angry Badger Records from Southampton, Kodiak Jack deliver no nonsense, no holds barred, classic rock in fine style. ‘Wasted Youth’ actually features on the cover CD of Metal Hammer magazine (No.222) this month. 

The band are not ‘metal’ though, this is ROCK in a Bad Company, Montrose and Def Leppard kind of way. It’s actually quite refreshing to hear an older genre of music in such a clear, crisp and concisely powerful manner. 

Made up if Bryn Roberts (Vocals), Matt Forster (drums). Kev Farren (Bass) Jeff Arnold (lead guitar) and Jon Karp (guitar & vocals) the power of this five piece band is there to deliver so rock to your ears! 

The album opener, Crossfire conjures up a vision in your mind of floating long blond hair and flying V guitars, with added rock poses, (although I don’t think that is how the band actually look so stage). 

Slow Burn, has a slow burn vocal that quickly progresses into a KISS style rocker. ‘City to Burn’, unfortunate title in the UK at the moment (not that anyone could have foreseen that) but classic guitar powers the song along. 

The album rocks on, Anthem for the Underclass, actually powers like an express train. ‘My condition’ is the token ballad after which the album is all guns blazing to the end. 

This is an album for the ‘Classic Rock’ market and should certainly appeal to devotes of Bon Jovi, Whitesnake et al. A fine debut and a great future should lie ahead for Kodiak Jack. 

7/11

Pete

 

 

1. Crossfire 

2. Wasted Youth                

3. Your City To Burn               

4. Prettier When She Smiles                  

5. Anthem For An Underclass                  

6. My Condition                 

7. Waves             

8. My Fake Jesus             

 9. We Are Your Saviors                

10. Your Death My Glory

 

Angry Badger records and songs   

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Band Website 

The Jayhawks return to the shelves on the 5th September, via Rounder Records with ‘Mockingbird Time’. The first Jayhawks record since 1995 to feature Gary Louris and Mark Olson. The harmonies between Gary and Mark remain limitless and the band (Class of ’95) with Karen Grotberg, Tim O’Reagen and Marc Perlman means that the musicianship is first class throughout the record. 

The touchstones for the Jayhawks will always be Hollywood Town Hall and Tomorrow the Green Grass and on Mockingbird time they come close but, at the end of the day, they have the Jayhawks sound and that is what remains on the new songs. No radical departures from the past with the exception of some psych like guitar that appears here and there. 

A shoe gazing delight from this Austin trio. Whilst the entire album is filled with big reverb filled guitars, the overall effect is very subtle and measured. Modern day bands of the genre like Wooden Shjips, The Horrors along with the perennial influencing Jesus and Mary Chain even The Doors spring to mind when listening to this fine record. 

The album was apparently recorded live without overdubs. At the front are Nate Grace’s addictive atmospheric vocals. In interviews he describes his influences as, Townes Van Zandt, Leonard Cohen, Lou Reed & JAMC. 

Heavy Air, kicks off the album with a touch of surf guitar, playing Explosions in the Sky as Nate’s ethereal vocals rise above. ‘Dream Over’ next and we get into shoe gazing territory although the song fades too soon. 

The album powers along with great guitar, through the mists of a sonic film of sound. There are no dips during the slow burn of this album which twists and turns keep your attention alive. 

By the time instrumental ’Surface’ comes along the album is in its stride and sinks into your consciousness. There is also bendy surf guitar on the interlude ‘Pleasure’ to the last song ‘Half Here’ which rounds off a fine album to be played at volume! 

8/10

Pete

 


Heavy Air

Dream Over

Twisted Mirror

Easy  

Voices

Surface

Stuck Livin

Dry Ice

Pleasure

Half Here


UK dates are expected in November. the red streaked vinyl version and CD are out now on the Acéphale.label.

North Sea Radio Orchestra’s ‘I a Moon’ could best be described as, an indie orchestral choral album. It really has significant charm and is reminiscent of Joanna Newsome, Juliana Barwick and The Leisure Society in style of music. 

North Sea Radio Orchestra is actually an ever expanding or reducing ensemble led by Craig and Sharron Fortnam. Two previous albums which used poetry by the likes of Chaucer, Hardy and Tennyson came before ‘I a Moon’ but, this time around, it’s original lyrics with delightfully sweet musical interludes throughout.

 

‘Morpheus Miracle Worker’ the album opener, is a lush string accompanied song with added ethereal layered, (Bjork esqe) vocals from Sharon.

 

The tile track next up has simple instrumentation, which compliments the vocals superbly. A ‘Prog’ style Mellotron (?) is much in evidence.

 

The album has many musical interludes Guitar Miniature #3 does ‘what it says on the tin’.

Heavy Weather is a seven minute duet with heart rending strings and there are again (unintentional?) prog influences that spring to mind, Yes, Gabriel era Genesis and Caravan perhaps.

 

The Earth Beneath Our Feet’ has a PJ Harvey feel and again with strings to melt your heart. The album concludes by alternating between vocal and instrumental tracks.

 

It is a lovely album and would drift pleasantly into the ears of many people

 

8/10

Pete 

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