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Atonement by Killswitch Engage - Album Review

The 9th album from Massachusetts metal maestros, Killswitch Engage, and the 3rd since the return of original vocalist Jesse Leach, is a high octane riff-fest of powerful metal and positivity.
Leach switches effortlessly between his melodic and screamo voices whilst continuing to address the issues around mental health that form much of the subject matter on this album. The riffs are catchy, it is packed with melodic hooks and the drumming of Justin Foley is outstanding. On early standout track, "The Signal Fire" the furious drum work had me expecting to see smoke pouring from my headphones!

Easily the best metal album I've heard this year, with many highlights including the aforementioned "The Signal Fire", which also features former front man Howard Jones on vocals, and the stellar "I Am Broken Too" which is short punchy and effective.
"The Crownless King" goes old school thrash and sounds like a great lost Metallica song.
"Take Control&qu…
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October New Music - Rockin' The Suburbs

Be sure to listen to the latest episode, 736, of Rockin' The Suburbs podcast to hear me talk about some of the new songs I enjoyed in October. You can listen here or via your usual podcast provider.

The songs I talk about, along with a little cricket, NFL & rugby are:

"Run Away" by Lightning Dust
"In Good Faith" by Bonnie 'Prince' Billy
"Hard Times" by Whyte Horses featuring John Grant
"Favourite Boy" by Half Moon Run
"In The Air Tonight" by Lucy Dacus
Be sure to listen every day...........

Kiwanuka by Michael Kiwanuka - Album Review

Recommended to me by fellow Rockin' The Suburbs podcast fan, Mike Wagner, I decided to check out the third album by the singer and guitarist from North London. I was aware of his name, but hadn't listened to any of his music, being wary of the hype perhaps. Time to rectify this oversight.

Kiwanuka is clear a very talented man, and this album displays considerable ambition to go with excellent musicianship on display. Played to you blind and with no information about it you would say it had been recorded in the 1970s. Sonically it sounds amazing with a sound collage style, reminiscent of "what's going on", that gives it a soundtrack type feel. Marvin Gaye and Curtis Mayfield are the first names that come to mind, and they are clearly giants of music. 
The praise for this album is in the "album of the year" category, so hopes were set that it might meet the towering heights of those illustrious forebears, but it is too inconsistent for my tastes. Too many o…

Colorado by Neil Young & Crazy Horse - Album Review

Neil Young is nothing if not prolific. This new release with long time sidekicks Crazy Horse is his 39th studio album. If archive releases, live albums, compilations and soundtracks are included then it is his 66th! Unfortunately a lot of that recent content, "The Monsanto Years" et al, has been less than stellar. The absence of long time producer and BS caller David Briggs, (who died in 1995), had been sorely felt by this listener in recent years. 

Happily though I can report that this is easily his most satisfying album since 2012's "Psychedelic Pill", significantly also his last studio work with the Horse. Whilst recent collaborators Promise Of The Real are undoubtedly better musicians, (Nils Lofgren excepted of course), and have been an excellent live foil for Neil, they have yet to bring the best out of him in the studio. Perhaps they have too much respect for "Uncle" Neil, whereas the limitations of Crazy Horse bring a little more focus to the jo…

September New Music & More- Rockin' The Suburbs

A little later than usual this month, be sure to check out episode 716 of Rockin' The Suburbs podcast to here me talk about seeing Wilco in Glasgow, some perfect albums by The Afghan Whigs and Screaming Trees, what I think is the best album released this century so far.
After that I get into the new songs I heard in September that inspired me which are:

"Into The Storm" by Cloak
"The Dream And The Dreamer" by Jeremy Ivey
"The Amputees" by Tindersticks
"On Top Of The World" by Mike Patton & Jean-Claude Vannier
"Good To You You" by Kate Teague

Be sure to listen EVERY day.....

Sound & Fury by Sturgill Simpson - Album Review

Imagine for a minute if you will that ZZ Top and Nile Rogers had joined Vangelis in scoring the soundtrack to the sci-fi classic, "Blade Runner". With that combination of styles in your head you can seamlessly slide into the new album from Kentuckian Sturgill Simpson. 

Somewhat of a change from his last album, the superb " A Sailor's Guide To Earth", the new release is accompanied by an anime film on Netflix. Those expecting soulful Amerciana are in for a shock. From the instrumental guitar hero wailings of "Ronin" it is clear that Simpson has set out to follow his own advice on track 5, "Make Art Not Friends" and that we aren't in Kansas anymore.
This is synth laden rock, and unapologetically so. The soundtrack nature explains the abrupt changes between tracks such as from the rocking "Remember To Breathe" into "Sing Along" with its disco beat and heavy synth lines.
Another frantic bass line kicks off "A Good Look&…

Ghosteen by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Album Review

I apologise to no-one for my opinion that Nick Cave is a creative genius, and while often perceived as a depressing listen, I have found the opposite to be true. Take his last album, "Skeleton Tree". 7 tracks of bleakness, followed with a beautifully uplifting finale of a title track that lingers long in the memory.

Three years after that comes a new album, a double no less and I am firmly of the belief that there are very few double albums that wouldn't be improved by being cut to a single disc. Let us see if this can prove to be one of the few exceptions.

After my first listen I thought that this was "Skeleton Tree" part two, with most of the songs being extremely sparse in their arrangements with almost spoken lyrics. "Waiting For You" stands apart the most traditional Nick Cave style song. 
The whole album is almost jazz-like, with a sci-fi soundtrack ambience that is very easy to relax into. "Abattoir Blues" this is not. 

My initial impress…

Ode To Joy by Wilco - Album Review

During my first listen to the eleventh studio from Wilco my initial thought was of the opening moments of the 1997 Neil Young and Crazy Horse live album "Year Of The Horse".
That double disc set opens with an audience member shouting out "they all sound the same", to which Neil replies "it's all one song". By the time the mid point of "Quiet Amplifier" had arrived, I was beginning to think the same thing of "Ode To Joy". "Ode To Sleep" more like!
However, what changed my mind a little was playing the album over dinner last night and seeing that Mrs Powderfingerspeaks was humming along to the songs, even during that soporific four song start. After a few more listens, I started to appreciate the delicate melodies within those initial songs. I had feared that much like their recent Barrowlands show, (full review here) which opened with the first two songs from this album, it was a slow starter and only came to life on "E…

Wilco - at the Barrowlands, Glasgow: Live Review

I approached this gig as an opportunity to answer a question. "Was the rock and roll band I'd first heard on "Being There" still hidden under the art rock layers and sometime blandness of more recent years?" The story of their transition from aspiring Americana torchbearers to alternative darlings has been told many times elsewhere. Whilst I wouldn't put "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot" and "A Ghost Is Born" in my top three Wilco albums, ("Being There", "Summerteeth" and "Sky Blue Sky" are all better, if admittedly not as important), it has been a while since they've made what I consider to be an essential album. 

Also being the first time seeing them, and being aware of Jeff Tweedy's sometimes prickly reputation, I was very much in a "show me" state of mind, only enhanced by the the support band who I found to be extremely disappointing.

I was not an especially auspicious start and for the first four …

Power by Seratones- Album Review

Taking in a broad swathe of influences that include classic soul, Motown, pop, garage rock and funk the second album from Louisiana natives Seratones arrives packing a fearsome punch. 
From the opening fat bass line and Spector-esque drum pattern of "Fear" it is clear we are in retro territory, although the themes and sonic embellishments are entirely modern. The band consistently play hard with great tunes and solid performance. The not so secret weapon of this band is vocalist AJ Haynes. Much like "Lux Prima" from Karen O, (and Dangermouse), earlier this year, she has all the power but also the ability to pull it right back in. She doesn't over sing, but totally owns the songs. Impressive stuff, even if the album as a whole doesn't consistently reach the heights of "Lux Prima".
Other than "Heart Attack", which leaves me a little cold with the sing-song Japanese style melody and the overly processed vocal on "Sad Boi" the rest o…