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Showing posts from August, 2018

Musical Palette Cleanser

Do you ever find yourself getting jaded with music? Struggling to find something new that moves you? I certainly have, and discovered that the answer is to go back to an album that works as an aural sorbet; cleansing my musical palette and getting me back to square one.

The album in question is "Weld" by Neil Young and Crazy Horse. This was the first Neil Young album I bought after hearing "Rockin' In The Free World" and "Like A Hurricane" on the radio. This was in early 1991 and was the first time I'd come across Neil. 
After going into HMV I looked for the CD that had both of the aforementioned songs on it. Until "Greatest Hits" came out in 2004, this was the only way to get both tracks one album.
From the punk response of, and soon to be tragically quoted, "Hey, Hey, My, My (Into The Black)", to the country 'trash' of "Roll Another Number (For The Road)" I was captivated by this both simultaneously classic and…

A Musical Bereavement: Teenage Fanclub

On 20th August Teenage Fanclub announced that the upcoming 'Creation Years' run of shows would be the last that would feature Gerard Love.
Full statement here
Apparently plans to tour in Japan, Australia and New Zealand next year were not something Gerry the wanted to do and so the band and he have decided to go their separate ways.
I found this news made me far sadder than I had expected.  My love for the Fannies is deep. They are my favourite band of all time and I have nearly everything they have ever released.
Due to the unusually democratic nature of the band, which since "Grand Prix" onward, has seen songwriting and lead vocals split pretty much equally on each album. Each songwriter sings their own songs live.
What this means for the future of the band, beyond the announced overseas dates, I don't know. What I do know is that it won't be the same without Gerry. Sure they can get another musician to play the bass, but will they sing Gerry's songs or will…

Mondo Road Soda Review

Not being the biggest fan of the "West Coast IPA", I've been surprised by how much I've been converted to the "New England IPA" style. Maybe it's the closeness in texture to wheat beers that I love, or that, in the best examples at least, the hop/fruit balance stops either becoming too dominant.

All of which brings us to the Road Soda by Battersea based brewery, Mondo.

The wheat and oats in this deliciously smooth beer give that lovely mouthfeel, and the aroma is the perfect balance of hoppy tang and fruity sweetness. The taste is refreshing and balanced with neither too much bitterness or sweetness.

Highly recommended.

Mansun - Attack Of The Grey Lantern 21st Anniversary Deluxe Edition Review

The first time I became aware of Mansun was when I picked up the CD single of "Wide Open Space". Whilst that song itself is a '90's classic, it was the b-sides that got me interested. Back when CD singles came in 2 versions this meant a potential of 6 more tracks. What I heard there, especially in "Vision Impaired", and "Skin Up, Pin Up" convinced me that I wanted as much music by this band as possible. 

Anticipation was high, then, for the debut album, "Attack Of The Grey Lantern" (AOTGL).
Boy, did it not disappoint. You have to imagine yourself back in 1997. Oasis were the reigning kings of the the critics and the charts. A myriad of Gallagher brother wannabes were clogging up the pages of NME and Melody Maker. A few bands stood out as doing something other than re-hashing the Beatles back catalogue with louder guitars. Radiohead had shown two years previously with "The Bends" that they were headed in a different direction, but…

Iron Maiden & Killswitch Engage: Live at the O2 Review

One of the glaring gaps in my live music experience was filled on Friday night, after catching Iron Maiden at the O2 in London.
Before the main event though, support was provided by a band I'd happily pay to watch a headline set by, Killswitch Engage.
The Massachusetts natives hit the stage at 1930, tearing into "Strength Of Mind" to a decent reception. Given that everyone was there for Maiden, the arena was far fuller than normal for an opening act, indicative of the quality of the metalcore pioneers.

The power of their performance and material really struck me at the end of the 2nd track "A Bid Farewell" and the beginning of the following song, "Hate By Design". The two guitars of Adam Dutkiewicz and Joel Stroetzel, along with the bass of Mike D'Antonio all locked in on the same riff, doubling and then tripling for a visceral audio punch.
" My Last Serenade" from the seminal "Alive Or Just Breathing" was a mid set highlight,  but…

Cover Versions You'd Love To Hear

There are cover versions, and then there are Cover Versions.

Whilst it maybe a bit harsh comparing pointless album filler by Rod Stewart with a career book-ending and definitive version of Nine Inch Nails "Hurt" by Johnny Cash, it serves to make my point. Too many times cover versions are simply karaoke for musicians.
It has been said before by many people more qualified than I that a cover version cannot simply be a retread of the original, it has to bring something new to the table. For example Alabama 3's version of "Hotel California" is significantly different than the original, and emphasises the darkness of the song in a way the highly polished Eagles version doesn't. Is it a better version? Overall I think not, but I enjoy them both.
Anyway, on to the main point of this post.
I'm a huge fan of The Who's 1971 rock masterpiece, "Who's Next". From opening with the innovative and instant classic "Baba O'Riley" to the final …

Great British Beer Festival: Day 2

Day two is done, and more excellent beers consumed. 1. Krausened Lager, Budweiser Budvar 4%After the Tankove Pivo being my beer of the day yesterday,  hopes were high for the Krausened. An unfiltered and unpasteurised lager. Not quite up there with the tank beer, but still very refreshing. A slight aftertaste that wasn't there on the Tankove, and overall I preferred the temperature controlled option. A good start though.2. Cinnamon Porter, Boulder Beer Company 5.9%A lovely Porter, the cinnamon being very subtle. Sweet and smooth, I'd happily return to this.3. Kölsch, Cölner Hofbräu Früh 4.8%Clean, crisp and clear with a softness on the tongue that surprises. Could easily go a few pints of this on a hot summer's day.4. Make America Juicy Again, Heretic Brewing Company 6.5%A New England IPA, hazy and fruity as you'd expect from this style, but more tart and lacking the rich smoothness of other NEIPAs I've had.5. Salted Caramel Lucaria, Thornbridge 4.5%Now here is a b…

Great British Beer Festival: Day 1

Day one of a two day trip to the Great British Beer Festival at Olympia in London is in the books.Beer report:1. Latte Piu by Retorto Brewery 4.8%A refreshing Italian wheat beer, light-bodied and very drinkable. Lacking the creamy mouth feel of a Paulaner or Franziskaner.2. Ruby Wheat Beer by Rother Valley Brew Company 4.4%Enjoyable, but wasn't really getting the traditional wheat characteristics . Nice orange peel aftertaste,  but seemed more of a bitter than a wheat.3. Budweiser Budvar Tankove Pivo 5%My first opportunity to try a tank beer. For those not familiar,  the beer is kept in a temperature controlled tank throughout brewing to the point of serving. As a result it has never been in contact with air. The result is a highly drinkable, extremely refreshing beer that will quench even the most raging of thirsts. Surprisingly, my favourite beer of the day.4. Singel by Hardywood Park Craft Brewery 6.2%A bottled beer all the way from Virginia, USA. A lovely balance of light and …

A Musical Epiphany: Bruce Springsteen

Have you ever struggled to understand the appeal of an artist? 

In the case of Bruce Springsteen I was in this camp until August 2002. I appreciated that he was a significant figure in music, and enjoyed some of his hits, "Born To Run" and "Thunder Road" in particular. "Born To Run" and "Greatest Hits" were the only albums of his I owned, and found the almost religious fervour of his most passionate devotees baffling.

All that changed in early August 2002 when on the basis of many positive reviews at the time I bought his just released, (9/11 addressing & E-Street Band reuniting), album "The Rising". I was walking the dog, listening on headphones, and had found the first 10 tracks, enjoyable, if not spectacular. Track 11,"Mary's Place", changed all that. The old time gospel hall feel with it's saxophone licks caught my attention. I wasn't prepared for what happened at 3:34 on "...drop the needle and pray...…

Tempest Mexicake Review

I'll cut to the chase here, this is a truly special beer. One I'd heard plenty about, but never gotten around to trying. Given an abv of 11% I decided it was a sharer. 

Having finally taken the plunge I can say that if you enjoy the likes of Abbaye de Rochefort 10, Traqauir House 160-, or Old Chimneys Good King Henry, then this beer will tickle your taste buds in a most agreeable way. 

Rich and smooth with a delicious mouthfeel, it is very drinkable. The chilli is there in the aftertaste, but it is subtle. Not overpowering at all. Don't be put off by thinking this is a spicy beer. The chocolate smoothness is the number one flavour, the chilli just adding some depth. 

Approach with caution due to it's strength, but savour the taste of a spectacular beer.