Flying Vinyl Subscription Review

This is an intriguing music subscription service, which will deliver a handful of specially pressed vinyl to your doorstep every month for £20. Check them out over here: Flying Vinyl

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Review from Joey Stoate

Whilst I’m a big supporter of the idea of the service Flying Vinyl are looking to provide, the tracks found here lack much in the way of variation. Whilst this certainly doesn’t condemn the collection, fans of other genres will unfortunately left out in the cold as the companies’ focus on fairly bog-standard electro-Indie seems to prevail throughout the ten songs offered.

However, as I mentioned, that’s not to say that some of the material here isn’t of high quality. Tracks such as The BelligerentsVoices & to a lesser extent, both offerings from Asylums provide some of the variation the collection so achingly desires, and the package’s physical representation is a true novelty itself. Otherwise, many tracks here will leave the listener with a fairly strong sense of deja-vu, as they’re treated to a relatively monotonous selection of tracks not quite suitable for the Drive soundtrack.

Sadly, given the steep asking price, this collection is out of the range of those looking to discover new music on a budget, and many will soon cease their subscription should the offerings continue to remain so one-note. An idea, perhaps, could be to curate specific boxes each month with themes much like those employed by other monthly box companies like Super Loot and the Z Box. But for those with a very strong love of Indie and a couple of quid to burn, you can’t go wrong here.

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Michael Robshaw - Replacements

Review by Joey StoateCheck out Joey’s epic music blog over here.

With his second E.P. Replacements,  Cambridge- / Leeds-based Michael Robshaw strives to expand on his repertoire of indie-rock inspired acoustic material. After months of teasing and an impressive performance on Leeds Local Radio, Mike will unleash his new offering on the 17th of February. However, does Replacements deliver for Robshaw?

Straight off the bat it's clear that Mike has a clear understanding of his genre, pulling off the almost ethereal-like, effortlessly floating soundscape many amateur artists of his ilk struggle to perfect. From the Gaslight Anthem-esque introduction of first track, My Friend Called Jai, to the ivories tinkled throughout Nine Lives, the E.P. captures that acoustic environment brought to mind by artists such as Frank Turner and his band The Sleeping Souls.

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With soft instrumentals and even smoother vocal ability, the songs found here flow wonderfully, despite being a little paint-by-numbers in certain sections. To illustrate, To Wake Not Feeling Guilty features one of the most interesting opening lines of any song on the release, incorporating a darker sound in it's riffs and running with it throughout the track, whereas a track like When I Say could arguably be seen as more generic, shiny acoustic fodder we see every day, despite a strong delivery.

Writing wise, each track here stands alone as it's own three to four minute experience, working as a perfect encapsulation of concise acoustic rock. Lyrically, Mike puts in a good showing with memorable sentiment, and the musical accompaniment features catchy melodies and sharper-than-expected tonality, often performing deeper than expected.

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One of my biggest gripes with the E.P., however, comes with Robshaw's vocal delivery. Whilst it can't be argued that he has an incredibly silky, impressive voice, this proves to detract from the experience in several tracks. Whilst the aforementioned When I Say & Nine Lives are both perfect examples of Mike's delivery suiting the proceedings to a "t", tracks like My Friend Called Jai suffers from an almost diabetic, overly gentle set of pipes. His soft tone contrasts a little too far with scattergun stabs of distorted guitars laying in the background, and this could well turn some people off, creating a somewhat jarring listening experience.

As somebody not frighteningly familiar with the genre, Michael Robshaw's Replacements has impressed me greatly. An acute understanding of what makes acoustic rock so great and strong songwriting ability allow Robshaw's talent to shine through a few minor issues, and when all is said and done this E.P. is a collection of fairly memorable music that I'll be playing a few more times once I'm finished with this review, and that's saying a lot.

Score: 7/10

Links & Ting: Michael Robshaw on Facebook Replacements on iTunes

 

Rootwork - Gallows Humor

Review by Joey StoateCheck out Joey's epic music blog over here.

Back in late November of 2015, I described Rootwork as a Queens Of The Stone Age-esque stoner rock band, and a very interesting one at that. Having caught the tail end of their set supporting Black Peaks at the Guildford Boileroom, the band impressed me within the short time I was fortunate to catch them. Now, entering the new year, I’ve had some time to come to grips with their latest E.P., Gallows Humour, and boy, is this a strong start to 2016.

Kicking off the record with the crushingly heavy Code Talker, I realise that my earlier comparisons in past reviews to bands such as QOTSA may no-longer apply. Opening the record with a riff not unlike something you’d expect from tech-metal titans Meshuggah, the sheer power behind the guitar work on this track is exhilarating, even playful in it’s groove-laden bounce, and the band’s use of clean vocals only prove to highlight their uniqueness. The Farnborough trio’s evolution into proficient technical metal has been incredibly elegant, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t start the song over again as soon as it ended the first dozen times.

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Continuing on, we come to arguably the most radio-friendly track, Burning Shame. This time, we’re treated to what sounds like echoes of bands such as Lower Than Atlantis in the instrumentals, and even shades of Foo Fighters in the song’s vocal delivery. However, it’s very difficult to pick out specific bands when speaking about Rootwork, and that’s one of the best things about the trio. However, don’t let those comparisons fool you, Burning Shame isn’t afraid to bring the riffs back once more, and this time it’s just as heavy.

When we come to the third track on the record, however, the influences here are clear, in the best way possible. Dead Man’s Jacket has Mastodon written all over it, straight down to the song’s haunting verses, climbing chorus and fuzz-laden guitar lines. The song’s major interlude around the halfway mark adds a psychedelic tinge to proceedings, leading the track to probably end up the most intriguing on the record, once again leaving the audience with another chaotic crescendo.

Review of Rootwork's E.P titled 'Gallows Humour'

Closing the E.P. is final track Nothing’s Left For You. Taking the haunting, ethereal verses the band seem to write so well and melding it with gentle, finger picked guitar lines, creating an atmosphere thick enough to envelope the listener completely. Harmonised vocals add another layer of intricacy to the already rich soundscape before coming to a head with a cacophony of absolutely earth-shattering riffs throughout the piece. Clocking in at nearly eight minutes, the song absolutely justifies it’s extended running time with a plethora of riff variations, keeping the listener on their toes, stopping them from getting too comfortable with the way the track is ticking along.

Rootwork have delivered something truly special here. Whilst borrowing from some genre-spanning names, the band have served up a completely new take on the tech-metal scene. Hell, I’m not even sure what to class this as. One thing I do know, however, is that if there’s one thing you should be doing in 2016, it’s keeping an eye on the boys in Rootwork. Don’t expect this E.P. to be such a hidden gem for much longer.

Score : 9/10

Links, etc: Rootwork on Facebook Rootwork's Website

Some Skeletons - Vigils

Review by Joey StoateCheck out Joey's epic music blog over here.

After the release of their previous E.P. And Sings And Ampersands back in 2012, Nottingham based trio Some Skeletons are set to unleash their debut semi-concept album Vigils unto the world this Friday, citing influences such as Deftones and Brand New. Is Vigils the right step for the boys on their road to success, or are Some Skeletons best left in the closet?

(I am so, so sorry.)

Opening the record is soft, contemplative opener The Mouth, a Wonder Years-like introduction to the band’s melodic, emo-rock sensibilities. As an introduction, it sets the listener up well for second track, To Exceed, To Achieve. With a powerful, punchy intro and catchy, Biffy Clyro-esque chorus, the song features one of the most interesting vocal lines of the record, one that grabs the listener straight away and ultimately stays with them for days.

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Moving on to Indoor Meteors, we come to the first inkling of the aforementioned Deftones influence, albeit in a lighter fashion than the band’s peers such as Black Peaks. The song really shows off the immeasurable talent of drummer James Housley and his brilliant understanding of subtlety and dynamics, as well as focusing on an incredibly catchy bassline courtesy of Simon J Curd. Unfortunately, this is also the first taste of the album’s fairly poor lyrical content. Whilst the line “There’s no place a ghost can’t go” might make contextual sense given the album’s conceptual sights, sonically the words come across as frankly, a bit silly, cheapening what is otherwise a great track. Track four, Up On The Rocks once again trips up on it’s lyrical content, but manages to maintain the listeners interest with a bigger emphasis on strong, impressive melodies, as well as showcasing scope that’s really commendable for a band of their size.

It’s with that, we come to the real tragedy of the record. Beach Party, a few days ago, was far and away the best song on the album, showcasing a fantastic distorted intro that really packs a punch, along with a punk rock atmosphere that really stands out amongst the album’s more sedate offerings. However, it’s the lyrics once again, only this time it’s sadly unforgivable. Only when listening to the album on a train a couple of days back did I realise just what I was hearing, and to list the song’s many vocal flaws would require an entire review in itself. To put it simply, the song’s mismatched lyrical attempt at sentimentality with lines about, well, ‘dinner’ make the track downright laughable, contextually associated with the album’s conceptual themes or not. A catastrophic shame.

Let’s not dwell on that though, shall we, as No Respite serves to be yet another stand out on the album, with even more Biffy vibes oozing from the song’s melodies as well as its intricate structure. Off-kilter verses hang on yet more intuitive stickwork, and the guitar noodling is particularly effective here. It’s the same case with the wonderfully titled Hi, Give Me Disease, with another great vocal performance blending with the punchy, ska-bounce like second verse. Penultimate track Ex-Sceptics features one final great opening riff, and is another true stand out on the album with a fantastic chorus. The album comes to a close with a re-tread of album opener The Mouth, bookending the record nicely with an ascension to an appropriately understated crescendo to see the listener out.

Review of Some Skeleton's debut album titled 'Vigils'

This review is a little longer than I’m sure you’re used to, but this time around I feel the need to really convey my feelings more than ever. Please let me stress this; Vigils is not a bad album, in fact it’s quite the opposite, and really I have a lot of time for Some Skeletons. Hell, this is the first album I’ve reviewed for Stabbed Panda that I’ll still be listening to a few months down the road, if only to understand. The album holds so much ambition and drive, I’m incredibly keen to see them play the material live, because played right I’m sure they’ll destroy any bill they’re placed on. It’s wonderful to see that in a time where more tracks are mistaken as value for money, a band still understands that it’s quality over quantity, that trimming the fact is necessary to make a real impact on the listener. However despite this, the album’s lyrical content is downright unforgivable in places, and I could see the record being accused of becoming pretty samey in places. With some work, Some Skeletons really do have the potential to become truly massive, but for some people, those hammy words could be a real turn off, and it’s that aspect that holds me back from giving this record a great score. Please check out Some Skeletons, because this may be just what you’re looking for.

 Score: 7/10

Links, etc: Some Skeletons on Facebook Some Skeletons' Website

WhiteMoor - Pause And Effect

Review by Joey StoateCheck out Joey's wicked blog over here.

Derby-based band Whitemoor’s third album is ambitious, thought provoking and well written. However, whilst there’s a strong selection of stand out tracks here, the album unfortunately feels the need to pad out its slightly too long running time with underwhelming, generic indie-pop. To use an incredibly annoying phrase, Pause And Effect is an album of two halves.

The album starts incredibly strong, with epic opener Hollywood striking all the right chords with it’s spacey guitar tone and vocal lines, even if the track outstays it’s welcome ever so slightly, it’s a great song and it’s length doesn’t do anything to detract from it’s quality. Lead single, A Cage For The Animals is yet another fantastic song, with infectious choruses and an incredibly memorable vocal line, the song could happily sit alongside anything on Radio 1 today, production aside. Dark Sparks has single written all over it, with an effectively funky bassline permeating reverberated guitars and vocals.

Review of WhiteMoor's album titled 'Pause And Effect'

Be The Last starts with a promising intro, with an interesting almost gallop like feel to the percussion leading us into an intriguing first verse. Granted, the track would benefit hugely from another guitar line and bigger production, but the song carries on at a good pace, with a superb middle eight rounding off another strong piece. However, if there’s one piece of criticism for the track, the jarring full band stop before the first chorus is horrible, and can really throw the listener, almost to a point where it really wrecks the experience. It might work in a live environment, but not here.

The haunting Codes is another interesting song, proving to be both eerie and upbeat in feel, and really giving off the vibe of an unofficial title track. The band’s experiments with melodies really pay off here, achieving a sound that is both calm and claustrophobic. Unfortunately, here is where we reach the more problematic portion of the album. Whilst Ghosts certainly isn’t a bad track, it sadly highlights the album’s more generic qualities, especially in songs such as Only Human and God Help The Queen, both seeming unremarkable and frankly a bit dull.

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However, it’s not all doom and gloom. She Makes Me Fly proves to be one of the album’s best tracks, with it’s prominent use of keys really injecting a new life into proceedings, and Masquerade picks things up once again as a fun, more energetic track with memorable synth lines and a stronger hint of aggression. The album creeps to a close with the album’s best slow track, the quiet, thoughtful closer Until Tomorrow.

In summary, the album is a good effort from a band with a lot of potential that’s yet to be fully grasped. Several strong tracks, and a few pretty weak songs turn this album into a real mixed bag. Whitemoor, you could be great. Just take the catchy melodies of She Makes Me Fly and Hollywood and run with it!

Score: 6.8/10

Links, etc: WhiteMoor on Facebook WhiteMoor on Twitter

Michael Robshaw: Falling Sideways

Michael stopped by the Panda Shack for an interview, and played us a couple songs as well. Falling Sideways is from his recent album, Straight Eyed Pessimist.

Check out our full interview with Michael over here: Link! More about Michael Robshaw: http://michaelrobshaw.com