Tag Archives: rock

Bouquet Of Dead Crows : Hemispheres Part 2 – Cerebral, EP released October 2021

A new EP from Cambridge quartet Bouquet Of Dead Crows, following on from Part 1 ‘Celestial’, released back in April 2020 (see review below)……

1.Idle Thoughts : Don’t be fooled by the quiet intro, the deep dark guitar and bass soon steers the track into raw rock territory, as the vocal calls across the wasteland in this ever-changing epic.

2.Standing At The Precipice : Faster work-out for the band, especially the fireworks drumming, but full of surprises with time signature and dynamics changes all packed into two minutes thirty.

3.One More Sunrise : Straight into the soulful tones of a thoughtful ballad structure which alternates with some of the heaviest rock on the collection.

4.The Longest Road : The Crows are adept at creating longer conceptually rich pieces; this elegantly brooding anthem has the time and space to deliver the full emotional impact.

5.Somewhere In The Static : Built around the most satisfying bass and guitar riff at the start the vocal builds over the descending chord pattern to a false finish part way through. This song has many moods; weaving together the finesse of some of the prog rock directions of the band with sections of sledgehammer power to make it a fitting end to the double EP.

https://bouquetofdeadcrows.bandcamp.com/

R.J. Archer & The Painful Memories : ‘Who Am I Supposed To Love Now?’, single released 14 June 2021

From the angst of the band name to the opening tension of the lyric, ‘…tell me I been walking a thin line…and I’ll be towing it as soon as you say…’, R.J. Archer & The Painful Memories are back with a blistering burst of troubled blues rock. Last heard from on their self-titled EP from 2019 (reviewed below) featuring the edgy majesty of lead track ‘It’s Snowing In Hell’, this new release is a forerunner to their delayed debut long-player ‘Hot Mess’.

A punchy, up tempo cut from this Cambridge trio, ‘Who Am I Supposed To Love Now?’ is firmly rooted in the groove of the sort of cool and credible blues-infused record that would appear regularly and successfully in the pop charts of the late 1960s and 70s. It is a summary of lovelorn discontent set to sparse instrumentation, emotionally raw vocals and featuring twisty guitar links, a roving bassline and drums always on the verge of being fully unleashed. And, of course, all in less than three minutes…

R.J. Archer & the Painful Memories | Facebook

R.J. Archer & The Painful Memories, EP released July 2019 | cambridgemusicreviews

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Hannah Rose Kessler : My Theories On The Apocalypse, EP released 19 March 2021

Packed full of ideas lyrically and musically, UK singer songwriter Hannah Rose Kessler releases her new EP.

‘Don’t Worry’ starts with an acoustic loosening up then bursts into a pulsing chord rhythm over sparse drums. The opening line is like it is from a novel that you know you will keep reading ‘…my hands they melt away into the background…I follow you into the trees…‘ As expressive guitar patterns come and go the double vocal of Hannah leads us along a sinister path lyrically ‘….don’t worry my dear there’s no need to have fear…’.

‘I’m Alive’ keeps up the intensity and creativity, this time with strident keyboards to the fore. After the strenuous dazzle of the two openers, ‘Before The Fall’ presents evocative imagery in a looser song structure ‘….stuck in this entropy…we plunge into waves and rest on the shore…

There is much more; previously released single ‘Come Feel Me’ is reviewed here, spoken word song ‘Your Female Rage’ is full of hard-hitting points before finale ‘A Thousand Cuts’ features big, industrial slices of sound-gothic.

For the listener, the variation of genre, style and content is satisfyingly rich and unpredictable and Hannah is in absolute command of it all.

Hannah Rose Kessler | Facebook

Record label – Reckless Yes

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Jo Ash : Here, Then & Somewhere Else, EP released 9 March 2021

The new EP from Jo Ash is five haunting tracks mainly featuring solo piano, a contrast to her song-based solo recordings and performances fronting rock band Derecho.

Opener ‘Petals’ starts hesitantly with a simply-stated theme that develops into a broad and echoing soundscape. Though threaded through with melancholy it calls to mind yearning for open landscapes and escape, especially when a vocal line adds to the texture. ‘Enchanted River’ is a more introspective keyboard study, flowing and cyclical with a calm gentleness laced with a bit of darkness.

Synthesisers are featured on ‘Innocence’, adding a full string sound before Jo’s voice soars above it all in a stately waltz. I particularly like the relaxed pastoral atmosphere of ‘Unspoken’; free of time and place. ‘Orion’s Quest’ evokes a blend of limitless journeys and mythology all leading to the famous constellation. It is an epic six minutes, again driven by a piano chord sequence that keeps returning as other sounds drift in and out. Jo’s voice weaves through the cosmos, culminating in a dramatic passage halfway through before the track drifts off into space. It is certainly a spectacular finale to the collection.

An innovative bonus to buying the EP – it comes with a free short story to add to the mystique…..

http://www.joashmusic.com

Derecho : Beneath A Stained Glass Sky, LP released November 2019 | cambridgemusicreviews

Jo Ash : Constellations, LP released October 2018 | cambridgemusicreviews

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The Other Ones : The Other Ones, LP released February 2021

The debut long-player from London four-piece The Other Ones is a riot of noise and craftily crafted punk, with a few quiet sections slipping effectively under the radar of fuzz. There have been some pre-release singles to whet the appetite but surprisingly not the brilliant opening track ‘Drown You’. This song has it all; a killer introduction that springs from nowhere, a punk riff from heaven/hell, harmony vocal lines and spellbinding chorus ‘…all I ever really wanted to do is drown you…’. The drums and guitars drench the listener in distorted sound and it is pure pleasure.

‘On Top Of Me’ has a chord sequence that seems to be catching up on itself and demented guitar lines that underpin the energy of the vocal. ‘Forever Young’ is a perennial pop single, then within the field of energy of ‘Money’ there is lyrical acerbity and absurdity to get to the truth, ‘….we never kiss…..we never touch….. we only talk about money…’. It is not until track six when we have some calm respite with the acoustic ‘I Wish I Was Your Boyfriend’ with the biting ‘…your always in my mind but whose on yours…are you only with me because you’re bored?…’.

‘Better Off Alone Again’ strays into full-on rock territory while ‘Wasted Youth’ is a glorious drum extravaganza. Title track ‘The Other Ones’ is almost frightening in its intensity and serves as an effective manifesto for the band. Closing with the ethereal acoustic lines of ‘I Think Too Much’ is an unexpected departure but seems to work perfectly well to bookend this dynamic collection.

The Other Ones | Facebook

Reckless Yes – An ethical and independent record label

The Harriets : Hopefuls, LP released July 2020

A track by track review of ‘Hopefuls’, the excellent new album by Leeds quartet The Harriets.

1. Cafe Disco. A distillation of many of the high spots on this album this stunning opening track explodes with creativity; the outsider but celebratory commentary of Pulp’s Mis-Shapes meshed with the musical complexity of timeless Squeeze singles. The first line ‘…Tell me all your guilty pleasures I’ll tell you mine…’ draws you in to listen.

2. Trip To The Moon. Previously released as a single this muses on old movies and cinemas as a backdrop to the hope of a relationship. From the dense, rolling instrumentation suddenly a catchy hookline then a soaring guitar solo appears. This album is full of surprises.

3. Darlin’. Wistful, winning pure pop laced with brass sounds, call and response verse lines and a big chorus ‘…baby when you look into my eyes…and when you come round and we play music through the night until sunrise….’

4. Have Fun In Your Workplace. With its languid pace, surreal lyrics and the patterns and solos in a pure guitar sound there are echoes of the Wave Pictures to be found here, always a good recommendation.

5. Rules For Travelling. Piano and close harmonies begin one of the most addictive and melodically strong songs on the album. The lyric seems like a strange disjointed road movie but definitely in a good way.

6. Johnny. It doesn’t seem to end well for the title character in this piano and jangly guitar filled song, although he may just have left his hometown carrying his Steely Dan albums ‘….but Johnny used to wander round, clutching ‘katy lied’ in his hand oh what a band….’ and forging ahead with his music career ‘….he wrote a lot of his songs with an American accent in mind….and so this story was a song, and the song was always going on…’. Like many of the words on the LP, there is a thoughtfulness and ambiguity which makes you listen again.

7. Come Home. With brass enhancement and a persistent driving beat, this is short and to the point ‘…I woke up today and you’d gone away…now all I seem to think about is you…won’t you, come on home…’. Melancholy but with an undercurrent of optimism.

8. Fall Out Of Grace. A lyric packed full of ideas and images with an excellent lead and harmony vocal and an inviting sixties Who/Kinks atmosphere. For me this is one of the many highlights on the collection.

9. The Boy You Knew. A thoughtful acoustic guitar bookend, delicate and emotionally raw. ‘…and I’ll never carry my love to your door….and I’ll never bury my love…I’ll sing it now once more…’

https://www.theharrietsband.com/

Bouquet Of Dead Crows : Hemispheres Part 1 – Celestial, EP released April 2020

The new album ‘Hemispheres’ (a homage to the classic Rush LP?) from Cambridge “Sci-fi Alt Rock band” Bouquet Of Dead Crows is to be issued in two parts; ‘Celestial’ now then ‘Cerebral’ to follow….

1. Terraformer Scary doom-laden introduction, a barren planetary landscape of distant guitar effects…

2. Before The Storm I think the storm has already arrived at the start of this track, then it goes a bit jazz-influenced interspersed with the heaviness through a packed two and a half minutes.

3. Caged The clear and strong vocal rides over a synthesiser guitar backing, duelling with the threatening purity of the full-on rock sound, suddenly unleashed towards the end of the track.

4. Left To Rot Featuring one of the most dynamic introductions I have heard for ages, this previously released song pushes all before it, with the explosives that this band can unleash with ease. I don’t know how anyone can play the drums that fast. It pauses occasionally with a 70s prog rock interlude.

5. Kaiju Hijinks With the listener exhausted from track 4 this new single maintains the pace and energy. The title refers to the Japanese film genre and the accompanying video stars Godzilla and the unfeasibly powerful Mothra. As the super-deep bass drives the sound the drums and guitar take on the monsters.

6. Hemispheres Martial drumming sits beneath some deceptively gentle verses and noisy prescient chorus ‘….it’s not the end of the world…this time…‘ Trading the rockier conventions for a more anthemic sound, with each of the instruments and voice given a chance to individually shine this is a multi-sectioned complex and rewarding track.

https://www.bodc.live/

Derecho : Beneath A Stained Glass Sky, LP released November 2019

A track by track review of the new album ‘Beneath A Stained Glass Sky’ from four-piece rock band Derecho (a tornado that moves in a straight line)….

1. You Stole My Heart Starting with an accelerating drum call this opening salvo is a classic rocker. Singer and composer Jo Ash makes her presence felt with a powerful vocal, as the guitar slices in with organ backing and the big chorus is never too far away.

2. Red Ivy A gentle piano verse gives way to the surprising and dynamic chorus and it is all a bit dark (‘…so seduce me with your poison…’). I particularly like the instrumental interludes where the band have their chances to shine but Jo’s soaring voice is the centrepiece of the track.

3. Numb To Shame A bold statement of intent in the first few bars turns into a taut, twisting, mid-paced three minutes.

4. Fight or Flight Conjuring up the atmosphere of 80s metalpop classic ‘Run To The Hills’, this one moves quickly to its killer chorus. A waterfall of keyboard provides a brief soothing interlude.

5. Blue Heart An effective swampy blues re-working of a piano waltz from Jo Ash’s solo album (reviewed at https://cambridgemusicreviews.net/2018/10/14/jo-ash-constellations-lp-released-october-2018/)

6. Pushing Me Away The band really go for it on this one; a mixture of stealthy verse framed by sinister, echoing keys and building up into a soaring refrain as the drums steal the show.

7. Oxygen A dark lyric ‘…suffocate my mind…strip my lungs of air…‘ contrasts with a backing that rolls along deceptively uptempo and optimistic.

8. Nowhere Land (Into The Black Hole) Inspired by the film Interstellar this is one of the longest tracks on the album, a slow-burning, anthemic piece. Jo’s clear voice sails along in the upper registers as the music veers into prog-rock stylings, with a marching synthesised string section eventually unleashing the dark hordes of Mordor.

9. Lunar Light
The lyric combines poetic imagery with the idea that the Moon can influence a personality ‘….under the light, lunar light…….is this really you? madden my senses, make me pretend I’m safe….’ This song has a retro 70s glam-rock feel to it, the combination of piano/guitar riff with the theatricality of the words works a treat.

10. Mountains A bold, broad finishing track, giving plenty of time to set the mood with a recurring figure dominated by the bass end of the piano. Jo’s voice goes through a range of distortion, to an emotive chorus and back again.
Another showcase too for the other band members and the production; making key contributions to this excellent rock album.

(Album launch show is at the Blue Moon, Cambridge on Saturday 16th November…)

http://www.derecho.band/#home-1-section

Bouquet Of Dead Crows : Bunched Up Bradley, single released May 2018

Cambridge rockers Bouquet Of Dead Crows are soon to release their long-awaited follow-up to debut long player ‘Into The Night’. In the meantime we have a new single, surprisingly not to be included on the new album (of course this strategy did not harm the prospects of many Beatles singles, most notably Strawberry Fields/Penny Lane missing out on Sgt Pepper….).
And hopefully this assured blast of raw power is representative of the LP…

The title stems from a misheard comment about an adverse clustering of balls on a pool table, as described in the ‘Star Wars’ style rolling prologue at the beginning of the accompanying video. Starting with a speeding up metronome, drums launch in and then guitarist Neil Bruce creates a riff density of thunderous proportions, sustained through most of the song and forming part of a spectacular instrumental middle eight with the rhythm section.

The fireworks of drumming are superb on this track and the sharp no-nonsense bass cuts through (including a short solo), highlighting the excellent production values of the band. Above it all soars Antoinette’s voice, effortlessly propelling the ‘…tick tick tock and the moment is lost…’ hookline onto a higher plane.

When I saw them recently at Cambridge’s premier noise venue The Cornerhouse, it was a definite highlight of their current live set….


https://www.bodc.live/

False Hearts : Cynical Love, single released 17 November 2017

The historic town of St. Ives is sometimes in the musical shadow of its close neighbour Cambridge but there is much talent and creativity to be found there. Rockers Hollowstar and multi-faceted soloist Gavin Chappell-Bates spring to mind; now relative newcomers False Hearts stamp their mark with this superb hard-hitting single. This four piece band features twin guitars, bass and drums and recently scored the rare accolade of being the unshakeable favourites for 20 weeks on the New Music Generator unsigned chart, seeing off any Cambridge opposition effortlessly with their last release ‘Dream On’.

An exuberant local DJ described this track with the evocative lines ‘It’s an absolute screamer….it blew my ears off’. I see where he is coming from, the production and mix on this song is spectacular, it even sounds loud if you play it quiet.
The guitar and percussion introduction quickly gives way to full-on noise wall then vocalist Emma Hodgson delivers a powerful vocal with the twisted hook line ‘I despise you….but I love you’, a reflection of the ambiguity of the lyric overall. With no time for flamboyant solos it is belting guitars and pulsing beat all through; pure thunder and lightning for 2 minutes 50 seconds…

https://www.falsehearts.com/