JUJU (self titled album) – REVIEW

Review by Graeme J. Baty

A new act called JuJu popped up on my radar, 2016 seems to be experiencing a healthy/welcome resurgence for prog/Krautrock type music. I tentatively listened, unsure what I was in store for but found myself drawn in. Pleasantly catchy and soothing with a solid beat. This is interesting I thought. Intrigued by what I’d heard, I sat myself down in front of the hifi, turned the volume up and popped their self titled debut on.

The band name doesn’t really give a hint at what is to come, the album cover is rather captivating and it enticed me to give them a play. Their sound delightfully defies pigeonholing. There’s likely to be some comparisons to Broken Social Scene, Can, Sonic Jesus, flecks of later period Mercury Rev and even some British Sea Power. It’s a fair mixing pot of styles, the sound really does take on it’s own persona.

juju

They’re a band comprising of other musical projects (Herself and Lay Llamas). It’s a concept album of sorts, the blurb which accompanies the album states “Through the music, JuJu tells the legend of a continuing exodus from Africa that more often than not ends in ignored tragedies at sea, ‘a total defeat for humanity’.” Forming a soundtrack to a deep meaningful story of crisis. Musically the album captivates me, but I wish I could find out more about the stories behind the songs.

Samael‘ opens the album with an infectious fuzz groove, proving to be a highlight of the album, a very wise choice for a debut single. ‘We Spit On Yer Grave‘ changes the pace with a soft piano repetition, it lulls you in as it grows and grows, catchy as hell. It possesses a lovely Broken Social Scene-esque dance vibe. This is great!! Three songs in and ‘Stars and Sea‘ is where I’m really hooked, lovely acoustic based song. The mood is slowed for next track ‘Dance with the Fish’ . It’s a lush instrumental piece reminiscent of Mercury Rev, which winds down the 1st half of the record perfectly. ‘Sunrise Ocean‘ is a long exponentially growing looping hook that sucks you in as it evolves in front of you. ‘Lost‘ is the penultimate track, scattershot rhythms and marvellous entwining riffs.

The last track ‘Bring ’em War‘ feels somewhat out of place, with it’s sea shanty time signature it fits the theme but it is a bit of an anticlimax. It just doesn’t seem to click for me and at eight minutes it’s a slight chore. I’ve listened to the record four or five times now and each time I keep getting the urge to skip this one. However I do think this track will go down very well in a live setting. Here it feels a little out of place, the square peg in a round hole. That said I’d love to see this whole album performed live.

The word ‘delightful’ keeps popping in my head as I listen and write this. I think that is the perfect way to summarise this record. Delightful.

Their debut is due out 6th May 2016 via Sunrise Ocean Bender Records.

DEXTRO – In the crossing – REVIEW

Review by Graeme J. Baty

I stumbled on Dextro via a recommendation from a fellow music enthusiast. Curious to find out more I headed to their website and paid a humble fee of £4 to buy the download. Worth a punt I thought, comparatively what else can you get for £4 these days? A pint, a sandwich, a posh coffee with all the sickly trimmings? It’s a tiny amount and I happily invested in this album.

Dextro is a Scottish instrumental solo project, weaving a magical and immersing musical experience. I am late ‘to the show’ as they say, this being Dextro’s third LP. But better late than never. After about 4 songs into my first play of the album I was completely engrossed. I even uttered the words ‘this is f**king awesome!’ out loud. Since then I’ve spent a fair bit of time dissecting and living with the music. Here’s what I made of it…

‘Evacuate’ opens with a phasing synth riff that Shitwife would be proud of, which left me unsure as to where this musical journey will go. It’s a pleasant almost ‘dance’ like track. The synths make way for a soothing bass repetition, which is where it really locks in. The opening track feels like a bit of a curveball, the rest of the album is less ‘upbeat’ for want of a better word. This is not my usual cup of tea (although many will know of my love of instrumental and post rock) but this music transcends genre pigeonholing and I am eager to soldier on.

‘Amor fati’ is a mellow piano theme with drone. Winding it’s way into a delicious guitar arpeggio. This is where the album becomes much more intriguing than I had initially anticipated.

Three tracks in and ‘Break off’ hugely raises the bar, at this point I’m utterly hooked. With it’s jarring pulsating tones. It’s a standout track on the record for me. Stunning.

The pace changes again for next song ‘Clearing’. Soothing piano tones lull me into a mellow mood.  Gorgeous and organic sounding reverb.

‘Silent’ with its sweeping synths opens side B. It feels like a deep breath before the plunge into the second half. It also has the albums only hint of vocals. ‘The passage’ has a great striding beat lifting the tone away from the previous sombre tracks.

‘Sum poly’ was the track that enticed me to buy the album in the first place. Winding, looping, lush guitar motif. It clicked instantly when I initially heard it.

I am growing weary that the end of the record is coming. Time seems irrelevant at this point, I don’t want the music to stop. ‘Occupy’ closes the album with a beautiful piano motif, which rumbles and fades to the end.

I immediately put it on again. The length feels right at 42 minutes, not too long and not too short, however I do want more!

The songs are sonically well paced, and placed in an an order that traps you, you aren’t going anywhere until you’ve heard every last note on the record.

I’m glad I obtained a physical copy too, the artwork plays a big part of the vibe. It’s a musical journey which the album cover acts as a metaphor. The winding road through huge soundscapes in a barren but starkly beautiful landscape. As a photographer by trade, it’s music I can really visualise. It is begging to be made into a short feature or even a movie soundtrack.

Everything feels and sounds well thought out, planned and perfectly executed. I just want to disappear into a world of my own, in the middle of nowhere and play this as my soundtrack to a nomadic life. It really does feel like you’ve been on a journey listening to this album. A calm isolated journey of reflection and self analysing.

Equally it works in a busy world (I’m writing this staring out of a window in rainy Newcastle). I can vision myself sitting back and watching the modern world buzz past like flies while I indulge purely in the music. This is truly visionary music. I wonder if that’s why it appeals to me so much? Music is after all an escape from the day to day dredge of 9 to 5. Like a warm blanket on a bleak winters day. There is comfort to be found. Turn it up and tune out from the day to day bullshit of life.

There are a whole host of amazing artists around Scotland at the moment (and throughout the years) I anticipate Dextro will gain a lot of respect among his peers, this is a truly remarkable body of work. His talent on display is enviable. A quick chat with Ewan via email revealed a modest and enthusiastic character. 

I adore this album and I hope my ramblings inspire a few people to listen. Although it’s only just turned March, I am positive this will be one of my albums of the year, and I’ll be listening for years to come. A masterpiece. My next move is purchasing and devouring his back catalogue.

SHITWIFE – Big Lad – REVIEW

This instrumental duo from London are signed to Durham based label Sapien Records (also home to one of my all time fave bands We Are Knuckle Dragger). They came highly recommended to me by a trusted source and of course the name Shitwife grabbed my attention! Who am I to argue, let’s give this album a whirl.

Shitwife - big lad album review

Atari Teenage Riot, Apex Twin, Tooms and Venetian Snares comparisons are to be expected, and maybe some mid period Prodigy here and there. Think of Warm Digits if they were more out there. As a result, it has quite a crossover feel and will appeal to fans of different genres. I for one don’t normally go for this type of stuff but it is bloody brilliant and quite individual sounding. I must admit I am impressed!

The album kicks off it’s relentless energy with the appropriately named ‘High Octane Party Banger’, which is also the first single from Big Lad. The duo setup stall with a good hard kick in the head for the listener.

First thing I notice, and truly adore is the percussion, it is phenomenal. Lovely organic drum sounds. That is what sets them apart from counterparts, for me personally nothing beats the sound of real drums.

‘Clammy Little Hands’ slows things down a notch with an 8-bit Gameboy simple theme.

‘Die Hard 4 Point 0’ has a stabbing one note riff which feels like a Will Haven track, but then meanders into a slow paced jazz like groove. Certainly a highlight of the record.

At nine songs long it feels about right; not too long and not too short. Any longer and I think the listener would begin to lose interest. A short, sharp, punk-rock style delivery.

Their sound conjures up visions of an industrial Blade Runner landscape in my mind. Just close your eyes and go with it.

‘More Goose Than Maverick’ signs off the album in style like some crazy car chase movie scene soundtrack.

I often hear bands and think to myself that John Peel would love these. Which is sad in a way, as no one has or likely ever will come close to his level of commitment and willingness to give bands such as this the airtime. Anyway I digress…

You have to be in the right mood for this type of music, but when you are it is amazing. I tried using it as a wake up call after a long shift and little sleep. It worked I must say! Play it loud. An utterly intense experience.

Fascinating sounds. Though I think, perhaps it would benefit from a bit more bass in the mix.

 

TEENAGE TIME KILLERS – Greatest Hits Volume 1 – REVIEW

Greatest Hits Volume 1 – Teenage Time Killers

Review by Graeme J. Baty

The word ‘supergroup’ is usually met with a disdain, thanks to a slew of self-indulgent drivel that often results from such projects. This is a Probot-esque project with some rather big names involved. Delivering a range of heavy styles; classic trash metal, punk-rock, with lots of interesting detours along the way.

teenage time killers

The album was conceived and co-produced by Reed Mullin, Mick Murphy & John “Lou” Lousteau. Mick played guitar on all tracks (except Barrio + Son of an Immigrant) which he played bass on and Reed Mullin played drums on all tracks except Big Money, Exploder + Teenage Time Killers. Despite that,  I suspect Mr Dave Grohl will hijack the limelight. It seems he can do no wrong in the eyes of fans and the media. So will this project continue the trend? Here he plays bass on many of the songs.

Let’s see where this 20 track dose of metal takes me. Yes that’s right 20 songs, this is a full on double dose of rock, so many songs it really feels like a binge but what the hell, if I could assemble a supergroup I’d want all my heroes to play on it!

The press were only sent this at the very last moment so as time is super limited I’ve decided to take a slightly different approach to my review. I’ll take this track by track and feedback my gut instinct. One hour to write and listen to this, so this is probably the worst review I’ll ever write. But who cares, let’s rock!

“Exploder”

Vocals, Reed Mullin. Pat Hoed (Bass), London May (Drums)

A punk-rock stomper with singalong chants gets the album off to an explosive start! Instantly impressed. This could be a corker of a record. Mullin’s vocals are quite impressive.

“Crowned by the Light of the Sun”

Vocals, Neil Fallon, Jim Rota (Guitar), Dave Grohl (Bass)

Slowing the pace down a bit with some big fat slow riffage. Following the tried and tested grunge template. Almost sounds like Soundgarden with Ozzy on vocals. Pleasant.

“Hung Out to Dry”

Vocals, Randy Blythe, Mike Schaefer (Guitar), Dave Grohl (Bass)

Primus meets Lamb of God! Delivering an impressive rap, if that’s the correct term. Something I haven’t heard Blythe do before. My favourite track so far. This is ace but too short! 3 songs in and this is already shaping up to be an awesome album.

“Power Outage”

Vocals, Clifford Dinsmore, Dave Grohl (Bass)

Slowing things right down with some old school metal, this track takes a bit of time to get going in the punk rock style you’d expect from Dinsmore. Seems to fall a little flat this one for me, just no magic. NEXT!

“Ode to Hannity”

Vocals, Jello Biafra, Mike Dean (Bass)

Long soundblurb intro. ‘Blah blah blah!’ croaks in the intro and takes us nicely into a super short and super fun song from ex Dead Kennedys main man, gets the party back on track.

“Barrio”

Vocals, Matt Skiba, Brian Baker (Guitar)

Pop punk yawn alert! This guy is now in Blink 182, so I’m told. Good for a bit of variation in the album but pop punk is not for me. Sounding like a super tame The Bronx, I’d rather listen to the Bronx to be honest. NEXT!

“The Dead Hand”

Vocals, Reed Mullin, Woody Weatherman (Guitar), Dave Grohl (Bass)

Ooh now here’s a riff. Chugga chugga! This is pretty much what you’d expect from Corrosion of Conformity fans will enjoy this one.

“Egobomb”

Vocals, Corey Taylor, Dave Grohl (Bass)

I’m a bit disappointed in this song if I’m honest. Fans of Stone Sour will lap up the metal-core style vocals. Personally I was hoping for a Slipknot style rampage. Oh well still a mighty fine track. The chorus has a slightly annoying repetition which sounds like the needle is stuck.

“Plank Walk”

Vocals, Pete Stahl, Greg Anderson (Guitar), Dave Grohl (Bass)

Mr Growl used to play in Pete Stahl’s old band you know. Delivering vocals in a melodic punk style that hints at Iron Maiden at points. Fun song but it feels a little unfinished and rushed.

“Time to Die”

Vocals, Mike IX Williams; Greg Anderson (Guitar)

NOLA legend Eyehategod front man brings another angle to this party. Hardcore punk this is great!

“Days of Degradation”

Vocals, Tommy Victor, Dave Grohl (Bass)

Ahhhh Prong! What a great band and this sounds exactly like what you’d expect, erm like Prong.

“Clawhoof”

Vocals, Tairrie B. Murphy, Dave Grohl (Bass)

There’s a name I recognise, Tairrie asked me to photo one of her shows last year, small world! She’s a great vocalist, a Brody Dalle type growl but with a more ferocious heavy metal slant.

“Big Money”

Vocals, Lee Ving. Pat Smear (Guitar & Bass), London May (Drums)

Crazy noise intro. Pat Smear’s name instantly makes me hope for Germs style punk. YES! Add Ving’s vocals and this is one epic punk song, very catchy.

“Devil in this House”

Vocals, Karl Agell, Dave Grohl (Bass)

Uh oh cheeseball metal time. I’m not familiar with Agell’s work, although he was in CoC for a time. Sounds like fairly generic heavy trash to me. Nothing too interesting.

“Say Goodnight to the Acolyte”

Vocals, Phil Rind, Jason Browning (Guitar), Dave Grohl (Bass)

Is this a carbon copy of the previous track? Cool guitar riff helps to redeem it!

“Ignorant People”

Vocals, Tony Foresta, Greg Anderson (Guitar), Nick Oliveri (Bass)

Interesting lineup on this, Municipal Waste frontman and the notorious Oliveri providing a solid groove. Out there hardcore punk. Superb. Another highlight of the record.

“Son of an Immigrant”

Vocals, Johnny Weber, Brian Baker (Guitar)

Punk-rock time! Catchy little number, reminds me of underrated LA punk legends The Generators.

“Your Empty Soul”

Vocals, Aaron Beam

Oooooo time to slow things down. Stoner doom-metal territory. This is great, makes me want to go dig out some old Red Fang albums!

“Bleeding to Death”

Vocals, Vic Bondi, Dave Grohl (Bass)

Motorhead meets punk. This is pleasant. I’m not familiar with Bondi but I think I may come back and dig through some of his other work.

“Teenage Time Killer”

Vocals, Trenton Rogers

Greg Anderson (Guitar), Pat Hoed (Bass)

Oooooo a rather cool harmonized effect on the guitar intro, which smoothly makes way for a singalong verse.

And that’s it. It’s all over before you realise. Compact. Kickass and educational. 20 songs, it doesn’t feel like it, certainly not a chore to blast through these. Simply unadulterated rock fun. There is something on here for everyone, and I’m sure many will love some songs whilst hating others.

I think there’s a few artists on here I’ve overlooked or neglected and that’s the charm of projects like these, they can introduce you to some things you never even knew existed. Wish I had long hair to bang. Damn. I’m putting this album on again m/

THURSTON MOORE BAND | 20.05.2015 | Newcastle Cluny | REVIEW and PHOTOS

Thurston Moore Band – 20th May 2015 – The Cluny, Newcastle

Thurston Moore – May 2015 – Cluny Newcastle

This last year has been quite a retro period for me. Stephen Malkmus last summer, J Mascis in the winter and now Thurston Moore. It’s like I’m reliving the 90s, thankfully not in a purely retro throwback binge because these artists are still highly credible, relevant and active 20+ years on.

Sonic Youth are a band that I’ve been obsessed with since I started playing guitar back in 1997. Their music was unlike anything I’d ever heard and I was captivated with how they made those sounds. They became one of my all time favourites and still are to this very day. Which is saying something as I generally have a short attention span and move on to my next obsession pretty fast.

Many and various reasons over the years have led to me not being able to see Sonic Youth live, mainly financial and transport ones but I digress! At the time I thought to myself ‘not to worry they’ll be around forever, I’ll catch them next time’. Well, that proved a mistake so when Moore announced this intimate show I snapped up tickets.

Whilst many would have been hoping to hear some of the old Sonic Youth classics personally I was less concerned as Moore’s new material is tremendous. Thankfully the audience appeared to share my view and there were no calls for older and better-known songs to be aired.

Thurston Moore – May 2015 – Cluny Newcastle

I arrived really early to get a decent spot and was pleased to catch unannounced support artist Michael Chapman. An unknown to many (John Peel was a fan and played him) he’s been around for quite a while and has one hell of a back catalogue. Now in his 70s he still mesmerises with his guitar playing. An unsung guitar hero for sure. Masterful technique, if you close your eyes you can imagine he’s playing a 12 string, yet he creates that sound from 6 strings and makes it look easy in the process. His performance was a rare treat.

Next up the main event and a widely recognised guitar hero. The face of ‘cool’ alternative scene for the last 30 odd years. Towering above the other members of the band an ageing Moore is still a highly captivating performer. Catching eyes with him is quite an intense experience.

They kick off the night with ‘Forevermore’ which is one of the highlights of the recent album. The setlist is not much of a surprise looking at his previous concerts this year. However, we are treated to some new material. Moore joked at one point that they recorded their second album last week and it’s out next week. Or was he joking?! The set largely revolved around the new album ‘The Best Day’, which saw him shelve the Chelsea Light Moving name (they may return since no official split has been announced) and return back to Thurston Moore (Band).

Thurston Moore – May 2015 – Cluny Newcastle

Duel Jazzmaster harmonics bring a smile to my face for the intro to ‘Speak to the Wild’, which is an extruded version of a fairly straightforward song, in timeless Moore style it takes you on a journey; it bends, twists, wanders off on a tangent and returns effortlessly back to the point where it began.

‘Germs Burn’ proves rather special in a live setting with much more of a melodic punk vibe in a little tribute to the punk legends (The Germs but you guessed that already).

They play a new song without introducing it. It’s classic Moore with meandering arpeggios, really reminds me of some of the more laid-back tracks from Murray St period. Followed by some Sonic Youth style discordancy just to make sure everyone is awake.

Another new song is introduced as ‘Aphrodite’, a song full of swagger from what he states is the new album named ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Consciousness’.

The band is phenomenal as you’d expect with a super talented percussionist such as Steve Shelley on hand to keep the band in check, embellish when it’s wig out time and reign them smoothly back into the next verse. On bass duties, Moore has recruited none other than My Bloody Valentine’s Debbie Googe. An incredible player and such amazingly hypnotic blue eyes.

I was standing next to Joseph from WAKE (a local band making waves in the music scene) when Moore noticed his 1970 t-shirt. “That’s a Stooges song you know?” says Moore dedicating the song to Joseph‚ and yes he does know as he’s a huge fan.

A relatively short set on paper, but in reality, they’re colossal works, with each song clocking in at well over the 5 minute mark, some twice that. After all these years it’s great to finally see one of the musicians that shaped my listening habits. Utterly fantastic.

PHOTO GALLERY

EDIT Nov 2018: Extended photo galelry now added with previously unreleased photos!