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I’ve seen singer-songwriter, Claire Boswell performing in and  around Worcester on a number of occasions, generally in support or at the various local music festivals, she’s always come across as someone who is either born in the wrong age or perhaps the wrong location.

Claire possesses a lovely pure folk voice that seems to be have been lifted straight from the Laurel Canyon or perhaps Woodstock, a voice that demands quiet attention, which of course is not always possible in a live setting and so I was more than a little intrigued to listen to her self-titled debut album, without distraction and interference.

The first thing to note about the album is the stunning yet sublime production courtesy of renowned local producer, Dave Draper, he’s helped flesh out Claire’s sound whilst framing that delicate and aching vocal. From the opening track, Willin’, Claire’s lonesome acoustic guitar is joined by a delicious country slide that instantly draws the listener in. From there on in subtle brushed drums, understated harmonies, strings, occasional bursts of electric guitar and on the stunning Four Days, piano join the mix, peppering Claire’s vision.

The vocals and storytelling throughout are simply breathtaking, Claire’s airy voice shine’s drawing the listener close for the likes of the folky, fiddle enhanced lament, Do You Love An Apple, telling a story with true conviction and a passion that’s second to none.

Claire offers up a few surprises on the album, including a glorious take on the blues on the upbeat Loverman Blues, whilst the celtic influenced lovelorn ballad All I Want, with it’s gorgeous string led introduction deserves a special mention, not only for the mesmeric instrumentation but also the heart and soul that simply aches from Claire’s voice. Whilst the likes of The Creeper is given a lovely rustic feel with the use of pattered percussion alongside exprfessive flights of fancy on the violin and omnipresent strummed acoustic. And no album review would be complete without a mention of the jaw-dropping final number, The Flower Of Magherally, a spine-tingling, intoxicating acapella track that has to be heard to be truly believed.

The album as a whole is a majestic, captivating affair, perfect for those quiet, intimate nights in, an album to truly immerse yourself in. Claire Boswell has released a quite magical debut that deserves wide recognition in the folk and roots community the world over.

Rhythm & Booze Rating 9

www.claireboswell.com

 

 

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Bath trio, The Family Rain have been causing quite the stir in music media circles with their blend of high energy, infectious, fun-filled melodic indie rock. 2013 saw the band knock up over 200 shows performing with the likes of Biffy Clyro, Jake Bugg, Miles Kane and The Courteeners to name but a few, winning over new fans along the way. The band also released their debut album, Under The Volcano to much critical acclaim, with the likes of the NME applauding the band for their bolshy attitude and meaty riffs.

Hot on the heals of all that board treading and debut album the band returned to local bath studio, Nam with friend of the band and producer Tom Dalgety (Royal Blood, Band Of Skulls, Maccabes, etc) to record a brand new four-track EP, showcasing an even beefier sound as The Family Rain once again flex their musicial muscles.

The EP opens with the boisterous You Should Be Glad You’ve Got A Man, a riff friendly, hard hitting indie anthem with all the attitude of a young Artic Monkees and the vocal hook to match, the track has that necessary swagger to stand head and shoulders above the mediocrity that generally plagues the pages of the aforementioned NME.

The EP features a further three tracks of rowdy indie, with We Are In Love, perhaps the pick of the bunch with it’s stomping rhythm, simplistic riff and hollered mantra like vocal, Though the fuzzy sub two and half minute closer, Punch Bowl is pretty damn impressive two as frontman Wili Walter unleashes his finest jack White impression over a driving garage riff and feral drum beat.

Hunger Sauce is a fantastic follow up for The Family Rain, following on from that aforementioned debut album, the four tracks show how the band are moving on with a hard hitting sound without losing all that made the band stand out in the first place. if you like bawdy indie rock with stomp and holler, I urge you to get your collective arses down to a Family Rain gig and pick up a copy of this EP whilst you’re there.

Rhythm & Booze Rating 8

www.thefamilyrain.com

 

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Austin, Texas is known to be a hot bed of musical activity from the SXSW festival to the plethora of local bands, the air is often filled with the sound of music. Among the various venues and garages there dwells a band that are quite unlike another, a band that take a 60′s psychedelic rock influence and then soaks the sound in hypnotic drones, marching drums and infectious driven guitars to create a unique and infectious take on the genre. That band is The Black Angels, a four-piece that first made a splash last year with their glorious album, Indigo Meadow and now return with a brand new Seven-track EP, Clear Lake Forest. Forget SXSW, etc The Black Angels follow in Roky Ericks0n’s lofty footsteps and help provide the true alternative soundtrack to Texas.

The mini-album opens with Sunday Evening and straight from the off the band create a 60′s like groove that brings to mind an acid-laced Beatles, they then combine that already evocative sound to a thick fog of sound that nods at the likes of Jesus And The Mary Chain, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and Spaceman three among others, giving the track a retro sound with a modern twist bubbling underneath and whilst Christian Bland (guitar, drone machine/organ) and Kyle Hunt (Keyboards, percussion, bass, guitar) set about creating a dense groove the vocals of Alex Maas still shine through.

The seven track collection continues in a similar manner through the equally contagious Tired Eyes before The Flop adds spacey, swirling organ to primitive drums and clattering guitars, forming a stunning psych anthem ripped straight out the garage, whilst the repetitive riff and the vocal delivery of  EP highlight, An Occurrence At 4507 South Third Street offers up something of a previously unheard bluesy influence, which again crops up on the six and half minute epic, mantra like closing track Linda’s Gone.

Clear Lake Forest is a glorious collage of retro psychedelia, 60′s rock and modern day rock n’ roll, if you’ve not yet checked out The Black Angels, this is a fantastic entry level and if you have already heard the band…..well you can stop reading and get ordering, another mesmeric release by Austin’s finest.

Rhythm & Booze rating 10

www.theblackangels.com

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Boy Hits Car are something of a new name to me despite forming back in 1993, apparently the Los Angeles based band originally formed with the idea of fusing heavy passionate music with world beat and middle eastern flavours.

Since their formation the band have released a number of albums (All That Led Us Here is their fifth), been courted by numerous record labels (Arista, Dreamworks, Universal, etc) in the past. Performed at numerous high profile festivals (Reading/Leeds, Puklepop, Rock Am Ring, etc) across the US and Europe as well as supporting the likes of System Of A Down, Incubus, Seether, Shinedown and Papa Roach among others, stealing shows world overm due to their infectious energy and contagious grooves.

On the evidence of All That Led Us Here, it would seem that I have some serious catching up to do, the album is an incredible mix of hard riffs, melodic grooves, crooned and bellowed vocals, elastic bass riffs, laidback verses and punchy hooks, drawing the listener in before spinning off in yet another direction. Think the aforementioned Incubus, Earthtone 9, king Prawn, think Angel Dust era Faith No More.

The album opens with the stunning Silhouettes Fade, featuring acoustic guitars, delicate croons one minute and tight heavy grooves the next, from there on in the band weave a magical spell between groove-laden metal, melodic rock to full on nu-metal via twisting middle-eastern passages and strummed acoustics.

Highlights include Battles Of The Heart opens with a gorgeous delicate croon and a strummed acoustic, before a loud rock riff crashes in to create a stunning melodic rocker complete with a hard hitting infectious chorus, an instantly memorable melody and a glorious combination of aggression and control as the band twist and turn more in the space of four minutes than most bands manage in a life time. Quiet Storm offers up the band’s aforementioned Eastern influence as the track opens with mystic rhythmic patterns and a tight world music groove before the band crank up the amps and the singer ups the ante further with a bellowed vocal hook. Whilst The Extremist (Do You Feel Me On This) offers a delicious elastic bass thump, a lovely brief percussion led middle section and that ever present collision of aggression and melody, that runs throughout All That Led Us Here. Ourglass (As Time Slips Away) is another track well worth a mention with it’s use of pattered percussion and strummed acoustics that run through the duration of the track whilst the band add further layers of electric guitars and driving beats creating an intriguing and unique take on the metal genre.

Boy Hits Car have an interesting and always infectious sound, their use of melodies and subtle eastern grooves helps the band have a real unique twist on an over saturated scene, whilst the songs themselves hook the listener in further and CRegg Rondell’s vocal range, from melodic croon to full on rage adds the perfect topping to an already enticing plate. All That Led Us Here, is compelling from start to finish and like I said at the start of my reviewm if the band’s back catalogue matches up to this gem, I’ve got a lot of catching up to do!!!

Rhythm & Booze Rating 9

www.boyhitscar.com

 

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German based hardcore heroes Ryker’s first formed way back in 1992 since then the band have released numerous albums and performed on some of Europe’s biggest stages, playing alongside the biggest names on the 90′s hardcore scene.

The band’s ultra aggressive, high energy live shows saw the band amount a massive following both in their native Germany and further afield, before the band eventually took a long hiatus around 2008, only to reform with two new members in 2012 to mark their twenty years in hardcore. With the new found energy the band decided to hit the studio originally just for fun to see what the new incarnation could achieve. The band felt reborn and decided to set about recording a brand new album, hard To The Core, their first new material for fourteen years.

Now I openly admit that it’s been a wee whilst since I listened to anything remotely hardcore but back in my metal/punk heyday I loved Ryker’s alongside the likes of our own Stamping Ground and the alike.

Right from the off, the band set their stall with the brutal, The World As I See It Today, unleashing a crushing metallic chugging riff, a bombardment of beats and Kid D’s gruff bark to create a superb introduction to the band’s latest full length opus. From there Rykers deliver a collection of their finest slowed down sludgy riffs and pulverising speeded up choruses.

Obvious highlights include the shout-a-long old school hardcore title track, with it’s time changes and short yet fiery solo. The brutal Can’t Kill A Dream with it’s Sabbath like doom riffs, heavy groove and melodic outro, the crushing Born To Fly and the sub three minute brutality of Slave Cruel World.

Hard To The Core, is an aptly named, glorious return for Germany’s finest, if you like hardcore you’ll love Rykers!!!

Rhythm & Booze Rating 9

www.rykershardcore.com

 

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