Astounding Sounds & Mystical Music

Whilst I have absolutely no musical talent whatsoever &, according to my better half, am completely tone deaf, its not to say that music has not had a profound affect on my life. During my teens & through my twenties music along with beer, bikes & the occasional spliff were the essence of life.

The thirties brought mortgagees, marriage & kids.

The forties . . . . arghhhhhhhhhhh

Anyway, if music be the food of life, can I be a fat git please. . . . . . . .

May 2013 - I haven't put anything on here since Wolfmothers Cosmic Fog, oops ! this isn't because i've stopped listening to music, indeed when recently backing up the music files on the external hard drive it would appear there's in excess of 10,000 tracks, this doesn't include several shelves of CD's, it just means I couldn't be arsed keeping the page up to date, lazy, me never, well, maybe, just a little bit.

Having just got back from Bearded Theory I figured it was as good as anytime to maybe add the latest purchase inspired by one of the bands at BT6 so here goes;

Sunday Driver - The Mutiney - For a start it's a crap name for the band, the name suggests blah, blah, blah, old biddies with cheese & pickle sandwiches, cold flasks of tea, the beautiful south, get the picture. Now i'll be honest until this years Bearded Theory Festival I'd not come across Sunday Driver, but then i guess that's partly the point of festivals, you get to hear new music by real bands rather than the crap that the likes of Simon Cowell tells us to listen to.

So, Sunday Driver, what are they like, well at the moment the Steam Punk movement is getting a bit main stream, on the back of that there are a few bands who are, if not founded on the back of the movement, aligning themselves or at least gaining popularity with followers of the Steam Punk genre, Sunday driver are one such band having been around since 2000 but only in the last few years being a bit Steam Punk. Wikpedia describes them as a "fusion band with English folk and classical Indian influences" pretty much somes them up, my lad described principle singer Chandrika "Chandy" Nath as a bit scarey.

So having listened to them play for an hour we decided that the new album was definately worth a punt & maybe we'll back track some of thier earlier releases, well, at least those that they've put out since post going a bit Steampunk.

Wolfmother - Cosmic Egg - Given that they’ve lost two-thirds of the original line-up since their debut album of 2005, Wolfmother seem remarkably undeterred and unchanged on their second. Singer and guitarist Andrew Stockdale still sounds like he’s trapped forever in 1972, his only hope of escape to rawk his way out, appropriating as many Led Zeppelin riffs as he can to do so. He’s described the making of Cosmic Egg as an “endurance test”: unfortunately, the same could often be said of listening to it. Of course, criticising Wolfmother for being retro is a little like criticising a shark for having teeth: what did you expect? And at first the record’s more-is-more pile-up of slamming guitars and histrionic vocals is indeed meaty, helped by Stockdale’s exuberant talent as a guitarist. But by the end of the twelfth and final track (more if you’re a vinyl fan and/or masochist) you've been served the same dish so many times it’s like eating Christmas leftovers in January: familiar, stale and slightly depressing. Stockdale’s passion for the seventies proto-metal he plunders is undeniable, and even contagious at first. California Queen is a savage, pummelling opener which achieves the desired effect of making you feel like you’re speeding through Big Sur on a Harley, while the Free-stealing White Feather is crammed with brilliantly crunchy riffs. By Sundial, however, the ceaseless blustering has become more wearing than endearing, a process culminating in the over-baked In the Castle, an apparent attempt to squeeze all of the most dunderheaded moments of Black Sabbath and Zeppelin into one cliché-strewn song. All in all it's a bit of backward step, it's OK but it's definately not on a par with Wolfmother 2005.

Them Crooked vultures - Them Crooked Vultures - Formed in 2009 they performed their first gig on August 9, 2009 in Chicago, followed by a European debut on August 19., debut album, self titled November 2009. Better half bought this one while I was working away so didn't hear it until I got back from Ascension Island in may 2010, simply put bloody fantastic, it keeps finding its way back into the CD player. Everybody wants to call em' a super group, guess when you look at the line up, Dave Grohl, Led Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones, and Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age. Contributors have stretched its definition to the limits, to include not merely Dream Evil – manna for anyone frantic to hear a collaboration between members of Mercyful Fate, Firewind, Hammerfall and Pure-X – but Happyland, breathlessly described as "a pop-rock collaboration between Quan Yeomans of Regurgitator and Janet English of Spiderbait. The original name of the band was the Shits," it adds, for the benefit of anyone muttering, "but I thought the legendary supergroup Happyland's original name was the Shits". In case you were wondering, "it was renamed for commercial reasons." Buy it from Buy the CD Download as MP3 Them Crooked Vultures Them Crooked Vultures Sony Music 2009 Perhaps the term supergroup deserves all the abuse it can get.

Without wishing to besmirch our friends Dream Evil and Happyland, history suggests that the supergroup invariably smacks of self-aggrandisement and self-indulgence. They are springing up everywhere. As well as Them Crooked Vultures, there's Jack White's the Dead Weather, while Red Hot Chili Pepper Chad Smith has both Chickenfoot and Bombastic Meatbats, the latter specialising in – and readers prone to panic attacks are advised to look away now – "instrumental funk-rock". It's easy to see this as a cause for grave concern. Supergroups tend to spring up in rock's darkest hours, symbolic of inspiration running low and musicians' egos spiralling out of control: the cocaine-blasted mid-80s, that terrible late 60s/early 70s era when concepts such as "jamming" were held to be a good thing. Their reappearance in the age of freefalling sales could be read as a final, horrifying portent of doom. First, members of Smashing Pumpkins, Cheap Trick, Fountains of Wayne and Hanson form Tinted Windows. The next thing you know, the sun and the air are darkened by the smoke of the Abyss, angels' tears are raining like fire upon the earth and Abbadon – the king of the bottomless biblical pit, rather than the drummer out of Venom – is rocking up with a plague of locusts shaped like horses. Them Crooked Vultures perfectly fit the classical supergroup model. There's the jokey name and song titles: Interlude With 'Ludes, Caligulove, Mind Eraser, No Chaser. There's the occasional sense, as on the camp pomp-rock lumber of Warsaw, that you're being exposed to a rehearsal room in-gag, with the feeling that the point of the band's existence might have more to do with what the participants get out of it than the audience. Nevertheless, their supporters have suggested greatness is at hand. Homme's wife Brody Dalle called them "amazing … just beats and sounds like you've never heard before". That's a bold claim, and, after you listen to their debut album, it leaves you boggling at exactly how limited Brody Dalle's record collection must be.

Them Crooked Vultures deal in well-produced priapic rock in which riff is piled on riff, tempos surge and time signatures shift, the better to demonstrate the expert musicianship involved. The unreconstructed lyrical machismo ("I told her I was rich/ She asked could I use a dirty bitch") is lent a certain arch distance by Homme's effete vocal style, and they're not above springing the odd surprise – Interludes With 'Ludes abandons the blueprint for a strange, seasick lounge ballad, drowned in ghostly echo and disembodied guitar solos – but for the most part Them Crooked Vultures sound exactly like you would expect them to sound, right down to the knowing nods to the members' previous bands: Scumbag Blues carries a hint of the keyboard-fuelled funk Led Zeppelin essayed on Trampled Underfoot. None of that's to say that this album is bad – the trio gel in a way most supergroups don't, it all crunches vigorously along, and the kind of irredeemable character who talks approvingly about a guitarist's "licks" will love it. It's more that it's superfluous: it doesn't make you long for profound sensorineural hearing loss, which obviously makes it an improvement on Chad Smith's Bombastic Meatbats, but for all the echoes of the past, it never once threatens to move the earth in the way Led Zeppelin or Nirvana did. It's hard not to wonder if it would attract the same kind of attention were it the work of an unknown new band. Of course it wouldn't. The appeal of Them Crooked Vultures relies as much on their audience's willingness to hero-worship the participants as it does on their music. That's what supergroups are like.


Mudcrutch - Mudcrutch - Mudcrutch released a single & little else in the mid-Seventies, then came the heartbreakers, in August 2007 Tom Petty invited members of the original Mudcrutch, randall Marsh & Tom Leadon to reunite with heartbreakers Benmont trench & Mike Campbell to reform Mudcrutch, the resulting album was released in 2008 & contains a mix of old & new.

Even a dude with a track record as golden as Tom Petty's needs to reflect on paths not taken. And that's too bad, since they reunite here for a hot country-rock set that clearly aspires to, and gets within spitting distance of, genre classics like Sweetheart of the Rodeo, The Gilded Palace of Sin and American Beauty. If the Heartbreakers had never happened, this band would have worked out just fine. Mudcrutch has more jammy, expansive guitar work than any Petty record ever. Yet the leader doesn't play a lick, shelving his Rickenbacker to play bass, as he did back in the day. The twin-guitar front is Heartbreaker Mike Campbell and Tom Leadon, a dazzling player who found less fame than his brother Bernie (Eagles, Flying Burrito Brothers). The pair duel on the hot-pickin' traditional tune "June Apple," run Allman Brothers tandems on the boogie-rock "Bootleg Flyer" and space-waltz Dead-style on the organ-swathed, nine-minute "Crystal River." Heartbreaker keyboard whiz

The songs are mythic Americana: With help from his bandmates, Petty creates a vivid cast of road dogs, strippers and junkies that conjures Gram Parsons' Bible-haunted Southerners and Robert Hunter's cosmic Westerners. And his weathered harmonies with Leadon make them flesh; though his voice is frayed, Petty's never sounded more real. Two country-rock covers nearly match their models: The Byrds' "Lover of the Bayou" and "Six Days on the Road," a Burritos fave. If they fall a tad short, that's appropriate: Mudcrutch's ragged enthusiasm is the sound of a hungry gang getting its first taste, just a few decades late.

Elbow - The seldom seen kid - Not that long ago I sat listening to the beguiling words of Lauren Laverne as she enthralled the delights of Elbow as they stood aghast having been presented with the 2008 Mercury Prize for album of the year. Several months later whilst passing through the delights of Heathrow's Terminal 2 on route to Antarctic in January I wandered into HMV & picked up a couple of tax free CD's, remembering Miss Laverne's earlier celebratory words one off which was Elbow's "The seldom Seen Kid" Well Lauren I don't know if it was that time of the month or you were just taking the piss but this album is utter fucking dross, its about as enthralling as Morrissey on a rainy day, its painful, its, well, its just bad, it briefly, & only briefly, raises its head above the water with the albums title track, I really had to force myself to listen to the bitter end, something I've never had to to before, ever. I can honestly say I will never, never, never play this CD again, in fact if you want it, drop me a line, its yours, free, gratis whatever, I'll even pay the postage.

On the upside I also picked up the Ting Tings debut album "We Started Nothing" this is definitely worth a listen.


Seasick Steve - I started out with nothin and I still got most of it left - Amongst other albums bought this month, The Foo fighters, Audioslave, Nickleback to name but a few, the collective clan picked up the latest offering from Seasick Steve, I'll be honest I'd not come across him previously until a couple of friends said they'd picked up tickets to go & see him in a month or so, soon after that I caught him on the Beeb, it sounded a bit reminiscent of the early days of ZZ Top, pre Rio Grande Mud, Tres Hombres & Fandango, I'm still listening, still trying to make up my mind, when I've played it a few more times I'll try & make up my mind.

Post script - This ones been played repeatedly & all in all its pretty good however having exchanged coin for its predecessor "dog house music" I'd heartily recommend you go out & pick up a copy, its every thing that's good about "I started out with nothing and still got most of it left" & more, its blue, down to earth & gritty & doesn't have the commercial edge that "I started out with . . ." has, listen to it, you'll like it, a lot, I did.



AC/DC - Black Ice - OK, straight down the line, AC/DC for me pretty much ended for me when Bon Scott sadly departed planet earth in 1980, Back in Black was good, I admit it, Brian Johnson did an OK job, it was different, cleaner, more commercial even but it lacked the deep down dirty, leering, general filthiness that came when Bon Scott was around. After Back in Black they were just another mediocre rock band pretty much going through the motions, I'm sorry alright, sacrilege I hear you murmur but high voltage rock'n'roll it no longer was, don't get me wrong, live they still got the blood flowing but even then I still wanted the classic's, Problem Child, Sin City, Night Prowler Down Payment Blues etc, etc. I did buy For Those About to Rock We Salute You but there it stopped, Phil Rudd buggered of, record sails fell, Phil came back, record sails kept dropping but when you listen to the dross they were churning out it wasn't that surprising, it seemed by then that the only punters raising a fist were spotty thirteen year olds for whom a five fingered shuffle just wasn't enough, look I'm 45 next fucking week, I'm now officially allowed to be a grumpy old git, so with all this in mind its pretty fucking amazing, well it was to me, that I splashed the cash to buy Black Ice. Now lets get this straight OK, AC/DC have sold more than 200 million albums worldwide, Back in Black is the second highest-selling album ever in the United States, AC/DC ranked fourth on VH1's list of the "100 Greatest Artists of Hard Rock" & the seventh "Greatest Heavy Metal Band Of All Time" by MTV, In 2004, the band was ranked number 72 in the Rolling Stone list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time blah, blah, blah but I'm afraid to say having listened to Black Ice for most of the last two weeks is definitely skating on thin ice, very thin fucking ice, Bon Scott RIP.

Metallica - Death Magnetic - I'll be honest, I've never been a fan of Metallica if only for the reason there just isn't enough hours in the day, I mean thats not to say I can't appreciate the shear brilliance of such classics like Enter Sandaman & Nothing Else Matters & I particularly like thier cover of Diamond heads Am I Evil however I was never really into the whole Slayer, Megadeth, Anthrax thrash thing although in my youth I have sat for two hours or so with my head in a base bin stomping along to Motorhead. Anyway in recent times I think I've started to appreciate what Lars & his mates have produced over the years. So its no suprise then that having picked up a copy of thier 2008 release Death Magnetic I have to say it was definately worth the tenner I paid, whats even better its yet another album me & the kids can both groove along to, mmm maybe its time to blow the dust of Master of Puppets.





New Model Army - High - The is the long awaited follow-up to 2005’s Carnival, itself a truely excellant album - see below, & New Model Army’s tenth studio album. It finds NMA as dedicated to their art as they were when they formed twenty seven years ago. As ever, they pool a range of very British influences from punk to folk to create their own recognisable sound. The songs on High brood and swell beneath Justin Sullivan’s Richard Thompson-esque vocals, creating maximum tension as he lays waste to all the world’s ills. The expanded five-piece line-up gives the music far more depth, with newest recruit Marshall Gill’s lead guitar lending a rich atmosphere across the album. After nearly thirty years together, it’s impressive that New Model Army are making records at all, but to be making records genuinely stand up to earlier releases as some of their best work is truly amazing.




The Foo Fighters - Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace - Dave Grohl & Co are nothing if not consistent, this, thier fifth studio album, never strays too far from thier combination of melodious poppy punk, it runs pretty much like a look back at where they've been over the last ten years. The Best Of The Past Echoes, Silence, Patience, & Grace continually reaches back into the Foo Fighters’ back catalogue, it opens with all the energy of the The Colour and the Shape, with other tunes made up of breezy pop melodies reminiscent of the Foo’s 1995 debut. For me however there are just one to many tracks harking back to the restrained, acoustic style of the second disc of 2005’s In Your Honor, a disc which i very rarely ever bother to play unlike disc one., don't get me wrong, its a pretty good album, its just that half way through I fast forward back to the start, maybe I'm just a grumpy old git, maybe I'm to fucking picky, but what the hell, long live rock'n'roll.





Velvet Revolver - Libertad - When Contraband was released in 2004, a mate ran me off a copy, initially it sat gathering dust however one fine morning it got picked up in error & ended up in the truck, as it was there it got played & then played some more. The album from start to finish was pretty amazing really, absolutely packed with energy & stuffed with some really great tracks, it was always going to be a hard act to follow. So three years on & we waited eagerly for the release of Libertad - What a fuckin' let down, it just doesn't cut the mustard, its, I don't know, just not in the same class, its luke warm, its formula, going through the motions. As each track began I kept waiting for it to kick off, to show some of the raw passion of Sucker Train Blues or Superhuman, You know, I can't think of a single track on Contraband that doesn't hit the mark, the best i can say for Libertad is I like the cover.





The White Stripes - Icky Thump - A fair bits occurred since the Stripes released Get Behind Me Satan, Meg White moved to L.A., Jack White went to Nashville, got married, had a daughter & formed the Raconteurs but fortunately this hasn't pulled the plug on his collusion with little sis. Recorded in Nashville & despite the pearly suits Icky Thump is unmistakably a White Stripes album. The eclectic feel of Get Behind Me Satan continues, "300 MPH Torrential Outpour Blues"' acoustic blues and carefully crafted wordplay hark back to "Sister, Do You Know My Name" "Rag & Bone" is a bit cute, "Let's Build a Home" casts Jack and Meg as enterprising garbage-pickers; the sly grin in Jack's voice as he says "we'll give it a...home" is palpable. Get Behind Me Satan was heavy on pianos, Icky Thump is just plain heavy & foot stomping that feels like it's been caged for a very long time and is just now being released. Jack's guitars are back in a big way; "Catch Hell Blues" being a mighty fine example. This one gets five big stars from me.





New Model Army - Carnival - I'll be honest, this is the ninth studio album by NMA but the first I've ever gone out & paid good cash for. In my youth, argghhhh runaway, like every one else I screamed & kicked along with the best of em' when Vengeance blasted out over the PA. At the time I suppose it was just another good tune to dance to, it had loads of passion, it threatened, it had something,but it was never about the politics, it was I suppose just a bloody good song. I suppose as I've got older the words actually began to mean something, I got into The Levellers & the like, not just because it sounded good but because it had meaning, yet still I never went back to listen to what else NMA had to say. Anyway, a couple of days ago I was hunting around for a couple of CD's & picked up Carnival along with a few other bits & bobs, at the time the Manic's Send Away The Tigers was still in the player but still doing nothing for me. The other bits I'd picked up were replacements for vinyl etc, nothing new, so I slipped Carnival on & cranked up the volume. Its not good, its better than good, its excellent, it is without doubt NMA, its got tons of attitude, its good for the soul & it stirs the blood & sounds fantastic, get out there & buy it.




Manic Street Preachers - Send Away The Tigers -This is the eighth studio album from the Manic's & just in case you don't know the title dates back to Tony Hancock, when he wanted another drink, which he frequently did, he'd call for the Tigers, weird but there you go. Anyway as soon as I got my hot & sticky fingers on thier shinny new disc I pressed play & settled back - fuck was I disapointed, I don't know what it is but it just doesn't have any edge, yeah its OK but it really doesn't tick the box's, covers cute though. I'm going give it another whirl & see if it grows, but so far not so good.

Funny how rthings work out, despite my earlier reservations about this album I've know changed my mind, it took a while, maybe I was just being a grumpy old man but anyway in retrospect & to quote Mr Formby "Turned out nice again"





The Strokes - Is This It - Spent the last six months chewing over other peoples downloads on the base server, thousands of tracks, down loaded quite a bit onto the laptop, bigger harddrive needed next time. Anyway first purchase on return to civilisation was the 2001 debut album from New York indie-rockers The Strokes, I remember all the hype by the British music press following the release of "The Modern Age" EP comparing them to the Velvet Underground, among others, thanks in part to singer-songwriter Julian Casablancas' Lou Reed-esque vocals. I didn't buy the hype at the time, preffering the real thing, but as one mellows with age you realise that sometimes the hype ain't just hype, definately worth a play.




Primal Scream - Dirty Hits - After singing the praises of Riot City Blues I recently picked up a copy of Mr Gillespie's Dirty Hits, I really wish i hadn't fuckin' bothered. Apart from Rocks (possibly the best song never recorded by the Rolling Stones) the rest is, & should remain confined to the history books, OK maybe its not that bad (you little liar) but apart from the aforementioned Rocks Dirty Hits ain't on the playlist any longer.





Wolfmother - Wolfmother - Self titled 2006 release on the Island/Modular label by a band I'd never heard off until my niece turned up a couple of weeks ago with a couple of CD's, now fortunatley just because she's somewhat younger than me & girlie to boot she has, in my humble opinion, a pretty good taste in music, hopefully I had something to do with that. The first album, well, it got played once, I know they played at her wedding, but . . . . . . .Anyway, second on the playlist was the self titled Wolfmother, cover looked a bit dubious but what the hell, according to NME they're " the pop genius from outer space" whilst Kerrang reckon they're "One of the most exciting new bands on the planet" All as Ii know is that Sam bought the album from ASDA for the grand sum of £7.97 & it was £7.97 well spent, in fact it was so good I copied it, I might even buy the real thing, go on, you know you want to, give it a whirl.





John Fogerty/Creedence Clearwater Revival - The Long Road Home - OK, lets get things on the level right from the start, John Foggerty is one of the worlds greatest song writers & the way he sang em', the way CCR played em' was fuckin' brilliant, on the down side, he's got all the stage presence of, lets say a pickled walnut, but who cares, shut your eyes, roll a spliff & go with the flow. I first heard CCR's unique swamp rock in the mid 70's when I was a wee lad of sixteen, several years after CCR had crumbled. A couple of years later I bought a double vinyl best of CCR, fuckin' ace, & now, with a few exceptions we've got the very best of CCR & Fogerty's solo efforts, unfortunately it doesn't include everything I'd like it to, easpeically "Susie Q" (Dale Hawkin's cover) but its pretty dam good & guaranteed to get lots of hammer (As an aside check out 80's Glam-Metal Boys "Hanoi Rock's" cover of "Up around the bend" - well worth a listen)





Red Hot Chili Peppers - StadiumArcadium - Like Primal Scream the Red Hot Chili Peppers are another band who I've never really got to grips with, its not that they didn't do anything for me, I just never got round to them, so with that in mind I broke into the piggy bank, confiscated my kids pocket money, again, & bought StadiumArcadium. First off its defiantly not what I expected it to be, them again I'm not sure what I expected it to be, I don't know enough about the Chili Peppers to say its taken a different path, but, from I've heard previously, its taken a different path, anyway its OK I think, its currently on repeat play in the truck so it can't be all bad, & it seams to get better the more I play it, who knows, by July I might love it.






Primal Scream - Riot City Blues - Now I have to be honest, up until a couple of weeks back I'd never particularly listened to anything by the screamers, not for any real reason other than you can't, no matter how hard you try, buy/download or borrow every track by every band every time - life sucks. Well a month or so back I heard this track on the radio an it was pretty catchy, it reminded me, fuck me I'm getting way to old, of The faces & in more recent, well not that recent thinking about it, its reminiscent of a band from the late 80's/early 90's (Quireboys - saw em' at the Mayfair in Newcastle in 89, girlfriend liked em' so they were OK by me) Anyway liked the single, checked out the web & bought the album, it ain't going to rewrite history but its definately qworth a listen

Post script - July 06, it might rewrite history, the albums absolutely brilliant (apart from track 10 that is) I don't know where they say they get their influence from but on this album its like a who played what & when, you can hear Muddy Waters, Dylan, Jagger, The Buzzcocks, Bolan etc, etc - Luv it to death.




Stereophonics - Performance & Cocktails - This ones been about since 1999 & for me its absolutely streets ahead of anything they've recorded upto then or since then for that matter, you now what its like, most albums have two or three great tracks, a couple of OK tracks & then "album tracks" to make up the dozen or so needed to fill the CD. This album ain't like that, its got thirteen stunning tracks, every one a winner, I can't choose between em' so I'm not.






Artic Monkeys - Whatever people say I am, thats whats I'm not - Critically aclaimed debut album, slated for its cover cos' there's a geezer having a fag & Brits 2006 winner, bugger me its a hell of a way to break the ice. I do have to admit that its pretty good, I do have to say though that I don't know who their influences are but I'd sware that before recording "a certain romance/track 13" they listened to "La Villa Strangiato/Rush - Hemispheres 1978" & if they didn't, well, deja vieu.





Audioslave - Out of Exile - Second album, took a while to get there but it has & I'm struggling to get it out of the player.





John Peel - A Tribute - A compilation obviously, 40 tracks spanning JP's illustrious life from Lonnie Donegan, the Ramones, Joy Division, The Undertones & Laura Cantrell





The White Stripes - Get Behind Me Satan - Have to admit this one took a while to warm to but got there in the end, become a current regular & still there (April 06)





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