Review

Moonstrips - We Love You, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah

Moonstrips - We Love You, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah

Packaged in superb album art evoking the oddball designs of Storm Thorgerson, Moonstrips’ new record We Love You, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah brings a very live, rough and tough sound probably best appreciated on vinyl …

Review by Jay Plent.

BansheeVa - BansheeVa

BansheeVa - BansheeVa

Cambridge’s music scene has always had a surprising hardcore undercurrent to it. What other city can produce names like Pink Floyd and Mallory Knox, bands so utterly on the opposite end of the rock music spectrum? …

Review by Jay Plent.

Gad Zukes - Anyone Out There?

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Review by Liam Taylor. Today I'm listening to the new 5 track +1 bonus track E.P. from Gad ZukesFight The Silence. Opening with a satisfyingly crunchy guitar-driven stacatto, Take Another Shot is an upliftingly combative rocker. The combined female and male vocals put me in mind of Fletwood Mac and Steeleye Span, (if that's not a complement then I'm afraid we can't be friends), but with modern-feeling production, riffs and vocal harmony.

The reggae-infused Make It Happen has a Police-esque rhythm section and catchy vocals. Of particular note are the Stewart Copeland style drums. There's a slightly jarring electro 2nd verse which I imagine would work really well for live performances. It's not so effective on the record, (IMO), but it does serve to add dynamic variety to the piece. The chorus is charminly uplifting: "look towards the future; make it happen, make it happen."

Track 3 is the softer, low-tempo How Can I. There's some interesting chord choices which make this much more than a standard, formulaic ballad. The track features some gentle, tasteful guitar playing along with a steady rhythm section.

Electric Vibe opens with a vocal hook which quickly sets the tone for this memorable stomper. Some expert ukulele playing thickens out the rock ensemble to a degree you wouldn't expect of a ukulele, and also adds a unique sonority which helps the track stand out. Some deft drum fills and walking bass lines remeniscent of early Status Quo will get this track stuck in your head.

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Track 5 starts small - oddly, something in the lead vocals remind me of Jemaine Clements. Perhaps the aquatic theme is putting me in mind of the Moana Soundtrack. As the track progresses, it developes into the kind of massive anthem in which we'd usually expect cheap Millenial Whoops, but GadZukes manage to avoid such cliché.

We're graced by a light and summery bonus track, which keeps the aquatic vibe - in keeping with Loz's fantastic albm art. The Good Stuff features a charming acoustic guitar melody, country bass, simple rhythm and airy vocal harmonies. There's a bit too much too this track to call it "twee", and the cheeky lyrics keep it from feeling too dainty. I agree, we should all "make love... -ly cakes"

Altogether, Anyone Out There? is a solid disk. Fans of Fleetwood Mac, GooGoo Dolls and similar pop-rock acts will find plenty to enjoy here, especially given the diversity between the tracks. If you're lucky enough to get the opportunity to see Gad Zukes live, I highly recommend you take it.

If you like, you can read Mickey Nicholas' review of Gad Zukes' Fight The Silence.

Links


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Professor Elemental - School Of Whimsy

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Review by Liam Taylor. This month sees the release of School Of Whimsy from Chap-Hop MC extrordinaire, Professor Elemental. Along with guests, frequent collaborators and Mighty Boosh-esque comedy skits, the Professor guides new students through the finer points of being whimsical.

In the opening rap of the opening track, Words from the Headmaster, what strikes me the most is the Professor's flow. He's never been a slow or unskilled rapper, by any means, but the skill with which these vocals are performed makes an impact very early on. A short track, but impressive nonetheless.

Downside Up is a summer romp in which Ella Jeans's vocals put me in mind of Lily Allen / early Sia -style pop. Especially in the vocal harmonies, skanky guitars and horn section, all of which contribute to the summer vibe. The Professor is great at creating lyrics that make you think for a moment: "like Clark in a crisis, time to go change" (really now, I can't spell it out for you).

Now we're on to my favourite track from School of Whimsy - One Too Many. The combination of humorous concept, catchy chorus and deft vocal performance make this track for me. Lyrically the track is about the trials of being on tour, the logical solution is to clone oneself. In a whimsical twist, the Professor ends up dueting himself. The pacing of the chorus is particularly fun - it feels like it's on the cusp of going too fast, but that's most likely intentional to suit the mood of the track.

Track 7 is essentially the British, more accurate version of Macklemore's hit - especially given The Spoken Herd's similarity to Macklemore's vocal style. Jumble Sale features a jaunty piano loop, horns, organ and lyrics that imply this lyricist has actually attended a jumle sale, (or been in a Thrift Shop), at some point. Our guest rapper's flow is particularly impressive and entertaining.

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It's become a fad in recent times to embrace your anxieties, or at least to publicly declare them, (or maybe that's just my snowflakie echochamber?) It can get a bit gross after a while, but the subject is elequently handled in track 8, Nervous. A swinging romp through the Professor's apprehensions, which could be a nascent theme on this album.

Make Good Art pt2, (the follow-up to a track on the most recent Menagerie album, which we also reviewed), is similar in tone and rhythm to it's predecessor, but is more of the timid, younger brother. Timid isn't a bad thing, it's still "Good Art".

SQRL is a down-tempo whodunnit, (well, it would be if the title wasn't a massive clue), where the Professor awakens to find one of his shoes missing and his cuppa spoilt. Storytelling is one of Professor Elemental's strengths and this is a track in which he's able to create an immersive and engaging world in only a few minutes.

Tom's House is a sweet track, ostensibly dedicaed to Tom Caruana. Sabira Jade's simple but catchy chorus elegantly compliments Elemental's descriptive rap and the summer reggae vibe of the track.

Track 16, (and the final vocal track of the album), Good Morning is another example of Professor Elemental's rapping ability and punneriffic lyrics are certainly enough to get me out of bed in the.... well, maybe not the morning. Equally skillful is frequent collaborator, turntablist Nick Maxwell, who lends his aid to close the track - no baby scratching here though, these skills demonstrate precisely why Maxwell is on the Professor's roster. Good Morning got it's own video as well, embedded below for your viewing pleasure.

Sunskip, is an instrumental number by Tom Caruana featuring sampled vocals that get inside your head despite being hard to decipher, along with a driving rhythm, subtle but acid-like synths and charming flute, (or clarinet?), loop.

Overall, School of Whimsy is a fun, witty and unique album, which you can stick on repeat and still find engaging. Trust me, I have tried. The timing of the release is impecable, being as this is the first sunshine I've seen in months and the album perfectly matches my current mood. This will be my 2018 summer album, I'm sure it'll be yours too.

You can enroll in the School of Whimsy yourself through Elemental's website,

Links


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The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing - Double Negative

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Review by Liam Taylor. Fantastical Victorian Steampunkers, The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing, are releasing their new album Double Negative this Friday, (March 9th). Pre-orders can be acquired through Bandcamp, where you can also stream the lead single and opening track, Supply and Demand.

This collection of tracks are all focused on the grim realities of life in Victorian Britain - track 1 is no exception. Supply and Demand puts vocalist Andy Heintz into the shoes of bodysnatchers Burke & Hare. Musically, it's a punky shout-along which is self-aware enough to not last longer than 2 minutes.

Our 2nd track, Baby Farmer is about Amelia Dyer, infamous for drowning unwanted babies in the Thames. The vocals are reminiscent of classic English punk - Sham69 and the like. The guitars here lie somewhere between traditional punk and NWBHM, especially the edgy intro riff.

Hidden focuses on guitarist & vocalist Andrew O'Neill's Magick obsession. It even features O'Neill performing The Bornless Ritual towards the end of an instrumental section.

Disease Control features a jarring coutnerpoint between "normal" and shouty vocals. It grows on you though, it's just a bit unexpected at first. Lyrically, the track looks at one of the Victorian period's scientific advances: John Snow's discovery that 1854's Soho cholera epidemic was waterborne.

Track 5 focuses on the gluttony and depravity of Prince Bertie, Queen Victoria's massively overweight son. The humorous lyrics in Obscene Fucking Machine appeal directly to the anti-monarchist in me, who doesn't get as much air time as he should.

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Occam's Razor remains prevalent in some way throughout the track. The track becomes even more intriguing when we reach a fast-paced vocal section, almost rap-like in it's deftness. Perhaps surprisingly,  this is is the first track the band have released about Jack The Ripper - although they're not fantasising about the mythos, rather pointing out the grossness of it being used to sell books.

God is in the Bottom Line is about child labour, which was commonplace during Victoria's reign. Fittingly, this is an aggressive track, especially with Jez Miller's frantic, hardcore punk drums.

The hillariously on-the-nose title of track 8 gives some hint as to it's content. There She Glows is a dissonant love song addressed to scientist Marie Curie, who pioneered experiments with radiation. Bassist & Vocalist Marc Burrows tells us “Her actual recipe book is still radioactive. You have to handle it with special gloves.

It's hard to work out whether the impassioned finale, There's Going to be a Revolution, is about historical unrest or the alleged Commie uprising we're, (apparently), living through. It's an odd choice to close the album - ending with a cavalcade of distorted guitars over a very repetetive riff and electronic-sounding drum loop. Maybe that's the point, they're making some kind of statement? A rare miss judging by the rest of the disk.

Overall, there's something on Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing's new album for punks, metalheads and anybody who's sick of the rose-tinted glasses through which Steampunk views a pretty unpleasent era. Musically, we're not breaking any boundaries but that's fine - the tracks are well-written, well-constructed and well-produced. They do much more than support the lyrics, which are compelling from both a poetic standpoint and a comic one. Worth a listen: 8/10.

Tour Dates

  • MON 12 MAR - Nottingham, Rescue Rooms

  • TUE 13 MAR - Newcastle, Trillians

  • WED 14 MAR - Edinburgh, Bannermans

  • THU 15 MAR - Birmingham, Castle & Falcon

  • SAT 17 MAR - York, Fulford Arms

  • SUN 18 MAR - Milton Keynes, Craufurd Arms

  • MON 19 MAR - Cardiff, Globe

  • TUE 20 MAR - Chester, The Live Rooms

  • WED 21 MAR - Leicester, The Shed

  • THU 22 MAR - Exeter, The Cavern

  • FRI 23 MAR - London, The Dome

  • SAT 24 MAR - Southampton, Joiners

  • SUN 25 MAR - Bristol, The Exchange

  • TUE 17 JUL - Detroit US, Motor City Steamcon

LINKS


Oh, hi! Still reading? Well, that's helpful actually, because we have something to tell you: Stabbed Panda is an independent music blog, run by a handful of people for whatever trickle of ad money we can get. We hope we can keep uploading stuff here for a long time, and keep access to it free without resorting to hideous, intrusive adverts. If you'd like to show some support and help us do that, please take a look at our Patreon Page and unlock some rewards. Ta.

Navajo Ace - Five Turnings

Review by Si Pettit. Worcester isn't a place people normally associate with any particular genre of music. That's not to say that the musical output of the city itself has been lacking. Rather, it seems harder for any bands to really stand out there.

I've never been, so for all I know there's a thriving indie scene that is just waiting to be taken advantage of by the ears of thousands, if not tens of thousands. The only two notable musicians to hail from the county that spring to mind, (or are the first two people on Google), are Dave Mason of Traffic, and Karl Hyde of Trance duo Underworld. If, however, and this is a relatively big if, there is a new act out there that can show the rest of the country that, yes, they do have a scene and it's just as good as anyone else's, then Navajo Ace are most likely to be the band that does it.

Navajo Ace describe themselves as a "new dynamic indie rock band from Worcester, UK". Boldly sallying-forth with their claim that they're "garnering themselves a reputation as an interesting underground band that make music with power and soul". I can't personally verify this, given that I don't live anywhere near Worcester, but I'll happily take their word for it (for now). Remember kids: Self-belief in your own brand is crucial. Today we're listening to Navajo Ace's 5-track debut E.P. Five Turnings.

As soon as first track, Tiger in the Tank, starts I'm struck with how much vocalist Adam Barnes sounds like head Decemberist Colin Meloy in the first 14 seconds. Consisting of Adam and his guitar, before drummer Crag Sharpe informs the rest of the band that the song has started properly now. As soon as Alex Stobart and Christian Burton chime in, (guitar and bass respectively), I was instantly recalling the subtly tempered rawness of British Sea Power. In particular, the breakdown at roughly 2 minutes in being very reminiscent yet not derivative, as the band make good use of dynamic changes to accentuate the energy with which the track had started, including a very self-reflective outro normally only heard in the music of established indie stadium acts from 2008.

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Navajo Ace have managed to tap into a particular thread of post-millenial Indie rock acts like Abandoned Pools and The Tender Box , whilst retaining a little bit of the early 90's angst that recent Alternative Rock was all too eager to shed, deciding instead to try and 'mature'. Both Underneath Cars and Awkward Places take me back to 2006, (specifically 2006). Both tracks seem to be to halves to the same overall theme, though with their own unique configurations.

Even the music video for Underneath Cars (which is helpfully embedded at the bottom of this article), is reminiscent of the era it's emulating so well, even going so far as to set fire to Ernie and Elmo toys from Sesame Street. Either way, they directly connect with the angst that all of us have coursing through our veins whether we like to admit it or not. These songs perfectly capture that bittersweet prelude to adolescence, too young to care, old enough to know better, and everything's just happening around you all the time regardless of your input.

Five Turnings, for me at least, is the stand-out track, and that's not just because it shares its name with the E.P. It has a wonderfully triumphant-sounding vibe that you'd be forgiven for thinking was a lost My Vitriol track from 2003. The vocal line sounds almost nursery-rhyme-like as it follows the main guitar riff. The band have chosen to use a lot of elements often found in other acts of their ilk, including but not limited to the rhythmic patterns found on albums like Bleed American by Jimmy Eat World or British Sea Power's Do You Like Rock Music?, and riffs that would feel at home in a Doves setlist.

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The final track, Drop The Needle, seems to follow on quite well from Five Turnings. That may just be the fact that they're in the same key, not unlike Underneath Cars and Awkward Places,  whilst Drop The Needle seems to relate well to its predecessor, it doesn't really distance itself enough to stand out. Especially after having heard the anthemic nature of Five Turnings once already. It does, however, end the E.P. on a high note, almost as if to say "yeah, things can be difficult, but pain is always temporary, and things do get better". That, or I read far too much into these things. Look, music is subjective, alright?

Overall, Navajo Ace's first E.P. is a well-constructed debut release, and the band themselves show a lot of promise. They seem to take themselves just seriously enough to write music reminiscent of the Power-Pop renaissance some of us experienced in the late 00's. Like any band just starting out, they're quick to show off their compositional ability, and they showcase it well. My only real gripes are that, whilst there's plenty of varied compositional elements in each song, they all share many of the same qualities that make it difficult for any of them to stand out on their own individually.

Despite that, the E.P. is well mastered, not succumbing to the same kind of overproduction that so many casualties of the loudness war have suffered in recent years. Regardless, Navajo Ace are well worth keeping an eye on whilst they navigate their journey through the Indie scene, and those of you that are inclined to do so can check out the links below.

You'll like this if you're a fan of: British Sea Power, My Vitriol, Doves, Jimmy Eat World.

Overall score: 7.5/10 - Shiny


Oh, hi! Still reading? That's helpful actually, because we have something to tell you: Stabbed Panda is an independent music blog, run by a handful of people for whatever trickle of ad money we can get. We hope we can keep uploading stuff here for a long time, and keep access to it free without resorting to hideous, intrusive adverts. If you'd like to show some support and help us do that, please take a look at our Patreon Page and unlock some rewards. Thanks and that.

Empty Lungs - Don't Get It

Review by Mickey Nicholas. Commonly espoused by short people with inferiority complexes, the old saying that good things come in small packages tends to be spotty in it’s applicability- you end up with a plethora of creations made by people who heard the idiom and decided to focus on the "small" rather than the "good".

Belfast-born Empty Lungs have, with their new E.P. Don’t Get It, bucked the trend and gone down the less-travelled route of quality over quantity. It’s only three tracks, and was released by Canadian label Hidden Pony Records earlier this month. Despite it’s brevity, it’s an album packed with indie-rock, angsty punk and nineties pop influences- after having given it a listening to on repeat for an hour solid, it still hasn’t gotten old. It sounds like what would happen if Britpop legends Pulp married Rise Against, and together they produced a musical lovechild that had just come out the other side of puberty and wasn’t best pleased with what it had encountered thus far.

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The first song Don’t Get It, has an excellent intro with hard punk riffs and pounding drums, a shouty chorus and lyrics about the benefits of clear communication between the sexes. The boys know their way around their instruments, and the vocals are excellent. It’s a short song, but a fantastic one to introduce themselves with. We’ve got Kev Jones on guitar, Mykie Rowan on drums and Conor Langan on bass. All of them contribute vocally, lending to a layered sound that’s pretty fun to air guitar along to, if you don’t know how to actually play a guitar.

The second song Losing It. Finding It sounds like something I would have listened to when I was younger, in the distant green summers of yore. The song is brilliantly structured, moving from slow to fast in nice smooth transitions- it doesn’t sound jerky or poorly timed. Also, the song has "woahs" in it, and everyone and their mother knows that if a song has "woahs" in it, it’s probably a winner.

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Fragile, the last track on the E.P. starts with a nice dirty bass-line running underneath some pretty dark lyrics- dark, but not pessimistic, it may sound at first like an angst-ridden track, but it’s not. There’s some excellent guitar on this track, taking from the bass and running with it, adding a whole new dimension of sound to the song alongside the vocals. It’s the slowest song out of the three, not really one for jumping around to, but still good for a groove.

It’s a fantastic E.P. that shows off the band’s talent- three different songs with similarities, but not in anyway samey. Empty Lungs are on the last stretches of a UK tour, but if this E.P. is anything to go by, I’d put money on them being back soon enough.

Links and that


Oh, hello... Still reading? Well, that's helpful actually, because we have something to tell you: Stabbed Panda is an independent music blog, run by a handful of people for whatever trickle of ad money we can get. We hope we can keep uploading stuff here for a long time, and keep access to it free without resorting to hideous, intrusive adverts. If you'd like to show some support and help us do that, please take a look at our Patreon Page and unlock some rewards. Cheers.

blanket - Our Brief Encounters

Blanket Review by Mickey Nicholas. Hailing from Blackpool, Lancashire, shiny new four-piece blanket emerge into the purview of the musically inclined with their new LP Our Brief Encounters.

Ambient, atmospheric, weird. All these can tidily sum-up the five-track LP, and can tidily sum up each track. It would be wise not to interpret this as meaning it’s a bad LP, far from it. It’s a marvellously organic-feeling attempt at a kind of post-rock interpretation.

Review of Blanket

There’s a sense of scale, something big and grand underpinned by themes of human intimacy running through Our Brief Encounters. The whole thing feels like it’s trying to tell a story about human interaction in the form of a film soundtrack, if the whole film was the soundtrack.

Like all stories, you have to set the scene- establish the general tone of the narrative. The first song on the LP, Acacia, does exactly this- an atmospheric intro intertwined with a little piano, which forms the heart of the whole track as haunting guitar echoes over the top, gradually building, layering sounds onto each other into a coalescing crescendo, before delicately falling away, piece by piece.

Blanket Review

The second song, Tethered, starts with ambient sounds that rise and fall, layered with gentle guitar and a section of dialogue taken from the 2003 Sofia Coppola film Lost in Translation. It took me a little while to figure out where I knew it from, but the interaction between Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson’s characters kind of sums up what the whole film is about. The guitars build and sweep, the drums filling the background like a heartbeat.

Track three, Discoveries and Beginnings, opens with male and female vocals in harmony, cutting quickly to soft guitar that grows to fill the whole song, the same hook repeating, a little faster, a little louder. It’s the kind of song you’d expect to be included in a documentary about the environment as seen from space.

Starlight Filled Our Minds has it’s own music video, (below)! It starts big, vocals and guitars harmonising into a multi-layered choral sound. Gradually, gentle vocals come in, and the guitars rise up and fall away into a powerful piano hook. The whole song explodes around the three minute mark, every component crashing together harmoniously before the guitar steps up to the front to lead almost until the end of the song, before suddenly cutting away back to the starting harmonies, book-ending the track.

To the Skies comes in bright and loud with echoed piano and upbeat drums flashing in like sunlight through clouds. A guitar hook slips in, simple but effective, slowing the tempo a touch before picking it back up again with the drums in tow. The instruments slip away, the vocals come in, and the song layers up again into a grand sweep of sound, heavy guitar over soft piano and crashing drums rising and falling like waves.

blanket's debut album, Our Brief Encounters, is released on February 10th and is available for pre-order right now.

LINKS & THAT

 

Blunderbuster - The Legend of Hywel Evans

Blunderbuster Review by Mickey Nicholas. I’ve never been one to actively seek out folk music and it’s modern iterations. It’s not an active dislike of folk, but more of a passive disinclination. When I was younger, I always thought the only people who liked folk music to any degree were those kinds of people who talk about pre-industrial society as if it was infallibly better than nowadays. It was only better if you happened to enjoy hot and cold running typhoid, with free tapeworms for every subscriber.

However, as I’ve grown older and hopefully, wiser, I have taken some time out of my usual musical schedule to actually listen to folk-esque material, and I’m not as unimpressed with it as I expected. Most recently, I have been impressed by Staffordshire / Derbyshire quintet, Blunderbuster and their new album The Legend of Hywel Evans. The eight-track album constitutes folk-punk at it’s finest- earnest, loud and full of character. Blunderbuster ReviewThe singing across the board is enthusiastic, powerful and unique in it’s style, variations in pitch and tone give a rawer vibe to the music. I’m a big lover of violins and being a folk album I’d have been disappointed if the fiddling wasn’t up to par, but I wasn’t. The same can be said of all the band-members, who show a fervent proficiency in their selected instruments. You can hear the love that went into the playing.

The first song is Raggle Taggle, a steady intro into high energy story-telling. A good strong start out the gates for the album. It’s the kind of song that gets people stamping their feet and wondering if they should take up cider-fancying as a hobby.

The next song I’ll highlight opens with an accordion, and various sea sounds to build atmosphere, because it wouldn’t be a folk album without a fun pirate-themed song. It’s called Black Bart and it’s an interesting mix of paces and energies, moving between slower and softer traditional style instrumentals to fast punkier segments with explosive vocals.

Blunderbuster Review

Hywel’s Song is the heart of the whole album. It’s in this song you can really get to grips with the influences of the band, and the singer really flaunts his voice. It’s got a kind of Frank Turner kind of feel to it, with acoustic guitar, but there’s also a Dropkick glaze over the top. It’s a fun song.

The last one I’ll write about is the band’s own take on a traditional drinking song, Wild Rover. Kind of adopted by the Irish and the Scottish as a drinking song. Which it definitely is. It’s a fun way to end the album.

Links & That

 

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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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

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.

Whitemoor 2

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