Stompin’ On Spiders are a three-piece hailing from in and around hte Malvern area, the foundations of the band first formed back in 2009 and since then the band have become main stays of the Worcester music scene as well as regularly venturting out of the counties boundaries, during the band’s life span they’ve previously released a couple of well received albums, whilst individual members of the band have also been seen treading the boards with the likes of Highway 5, Stripped Down Bluies and The Cowley Cowboys among others.
Blacklisted, the band’s third album sees the band expand their number and indeed, with the addition of Mark Miletech on double bass and Debbie Robinson, who adds some celtic harp on a bluesy mellow track during the album.
Now before I delve into the music itself, I must quickly mention hte packaging of the new album, the release itself found it’s way to me as a wonderfully presented credit card like USB that features the album, a video and a promo pic, all complimented by a nice looking booklet that features an introduction to the band, lyrics and song explanations, etc. The format is innovative and very welcome in my book, it’s really nice to see a band push the boundaries with presentation of an album and it activally encourages interest, as opposed to the standard CD format (or worse the dreaded MP3), so for that alone Stompin’ On Spiders should be commended.
The album itself is a little hit and miss to be honest, it opens with the mellow folky blues of Schizophrenic City, which is a decent enough opener without really grabbing you by the lapels, the combination of strummed acoustics and bluesy electric riffs works nicely, but the song never really hooks you in, then from there the band kind of jump around a little from engaging blues to mellow and meandering 60’s influenced folk.
The album features a number of tracks that do make you sit up and take notice, Blacklist Blues is a prime example, a darker, brooding number, with stomping blues riffs and pattered percussion backing perhaps the most convincing vocal on the album, whilst the likes of Cloud Seeding and the energetic and restless blues of Katie Shoot The Gun also deserve merit, whilst the instrumental jam during The Great Divide proves the band to be more than able musicians.
However the more refrained numbers, such as Angry Again and Charlie’s Smile lack a little bite, the vocals are a bit weak to carry the tune and don’t really engage the listener, whilst musically they meander without ever reaching the desired destination and the vocal restrain on the otherwise impressive album closer, Ten Thousand Miles is completely uneccesary and a little cheesy.
I think Stompin’ On Spiders have got a decent blues album in their locker somewhere and I’d like to hear them perhaps pursue the sound of the aforementioned Blacklist Blues a little more but at the moment the band frustrate, I like roots and folk as much as the next man (actually probably more) however a stripped down sound does expose any weaknesses and unfortunately a few of the track on here do just that.
Rhythm & Booze Rating 6
Diagrams announces new album
Chromatics released 19th January 2015 on Full Time Hobby
New single ‘Phantom Power’ premieres with Stereogum
Stream ‘Phantom Power’ here
When songwriter and producer Sam Genders last donned his Diagrams hat, captive listeners found themselves truly stunned by the Streatham Hill artist’s imaginative and inventive arrangements that made up 2012’s debut album Black Light. Having now upped sticks from his London lodgings and settled in Sheffield with a new lease of life and wife, fresh pastures and friendships are what form the heart of Diagrams’ brand new album Chromatics.
“Relationships are a constant thread. In all their frustrating, exciting, mundane, beautiful, wonderful, sexy, scary glory,” reveals Genders of the album’s themes. “And there’s lots of hope in the songs. They shouldn’t be taken too literally mind you… in my head Chromatics is life in Technicolor; with all its ups and downs.”
Whilst Black Light fizzed with electronic effects, synth-bass, programmed beats and low-key funk grooves that brought about comparisons to the leftfield pop of Arthur Russell, Metronomy, Steve Mason and Hot Chip, it’s without doubt that Genders’ next offering falls closer to home comforts and marks the next step in Genders’ renaissance. Take lead track ‘Phantom Power’; it’s the track which truly sums up what it’s like to find yourself forever reassessing. “It’s about feeling like you’re losing a grip on your sanity at one moment, then feeling inspired and up for anything the next. Or frustration with yourself yet believing that it’s possible to sort yourself out,” explains Genders.
Stream the first track Phantom Power now: https://soundcloud.com/fulltimehobby/diagrams-phantom-power/s-NMNji
Live dates –
21st January 2015, The Lexington, London (headline) – tickets on sale now: www.kililive.com/artists/diagrams
The Mercy Alliance is a Washington DC based band led by talented singer-songwriter Joe Rathbone, whose latest album, Some Kind Of Beautiful Story, sees him collaborate with producer Thomas Johansen, along with drummer Steve Bowmen (ex Counting Crows) and bassist Brad Jones among others to create an emotive take on rootsy indie rock.
The album opens with a beautiful ode to Joe’s native Washington (called aptly enough Washington) that instantly showcases a dreamy melodic indie sound complete with shimmering guitars and woozy harmony enriched vocals, hinting at a 60’s psychedelic influence that again rears its head on the follow-up, Angel Of Mercy which again washes over the listener with layers of swirling guitar and keyboard, whilst Joe’s delicately refrained vocals seduce the listener further into the hypnotic sound of The Mercy Alliance.
All For The Love Of You changes direction slightly with fuzzy driven guitars replacing the aforementioned sedated swirls, bringing in a shoegaze influence that’s compounded with the synth undercurrent and chugging bassline. Whilst both This Is How They Know and I Can’t Do It, are both different again with Joe’s melodic vocals being joined by strings and twinkling keyboards further peppering his glorious vision, with the latter majestically swelling to a near orchestral finish.
Libertine is perhaps the most aggressive track on here, with Joe delivering a raw, gritty baritone, whilst the band kick up a storm of stomping beats and stabbing guitars, proving that The Mercy Alliance are equally adapt at traditional indie rock fodder as they are creating trance like epics.
Some Kind Of Beautiful Story is a varied, compelling and contagious album that covers a wide range of melodic indie from a hypnotic songwriter very much on the top of his game, if you’re looking for an inventive take on an otherwise stale sound, I highly recommend the mesmeric sounds of The Mercy Alliance
Rhythm & Booze Rating 8
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