V0iD – Keep Fighting

Think we should build in a cycling hiatus – post Giro and TdF, Jimbo reappears fully charged and ready to let rip on Welsh rockers V0iD.

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It’s all very altruistic to write an album from a personal perspectives, a close friend raising money for charity whilst battling leukemia, a fan suffering a brain tumour and the band’s drummer recovering from major surgery – it all might add up to the drive behind the album title, but let that not sway what you are about to hear.

Step forward four-piece Welsh band V0iD, with two albums under their belt, Keep Fighting is tied into a stream of live dates across the UK and Europe. Lead single Let Me In features as a radio edit, with the eye on that lucrative market, but to describe it as “Disney goes to rock-school” sets those klaxons blaring. And sadly yes it is as dull as rock music can get, no doubt playing to stadium sized venues, it continues in that vein of bands that have turned hardened rockers and metallers away from the likes of Kerrang! A magazine that is a shadow of its former self. For the Soul follows Let Me In and we are promised “Led Zeppelin flavoured intro guitar”, sadly it is sacrilege to use that name in the description of the opening bars of the track and one would feel Mr Page would quite agree.

Starting Again sounds like someone has discovered Paul Weller‘s Changing Man with a mid section of standard guitar solo, but we’re promised a “mosh-pit” favourite!! The years may have been added, but the memories of proper mosh-pits would laugh at that notion. Whilst How Come offers the ballard like opening that you want to instantly forget. Are there any redeeming tracks on Keep Fighting? You can keep skipping, but by this stage your mind is now set on a real downer that nothing can really raise, which probably does a disservice to the band, their followers and tracks like Little Things.

You’ve hit three albums, you care about your followers and your drummer has managed to survive a medical condition to play again, but we all have an opinion and Keep Fighting isn’t an album we’d be wanting to hear again.

Reviewed by Jimbo.

V0iD‘s third album Keep Fightingis available now from Amazon.
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Felice Brothers – Live at SummerTyne Americana Festival at The Sage, Gateshead

The SummerTyne (nice play on words) Americana Festival is now in its 10th Year and with such a cornucopia of bands on show a new reviewer steps forth and gives their views on a live set by the Felice Brothers.

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” I’ll put some whiskey into my whiskey, I’ll put some heartbreak into my heart”

So the Felice Brothers delicately balance riotous pleasure with exquisite pain. Born in wild woods of the Catskills, Ian, James and Simone brought their boondock poetry to the subways of New York, recording albums in chicken coops during thunderstorms. When Simone left the group to strike out on his own I worried that they would lose much in terms of his sensitivity. While this may be true in the studio to some extent, it is hard imagine them giving a better live performance, even in the somewhat hushed and over refined atmosphere of The Sage as part of their popular Americana Festival.

The two remaining brothers neatly encapsulate the dual nature of the band. Ian on lead vocals and guitars, hunched at his microphone stand in twin ragged plaid shirts, has the presence of a modern day Townes Van Zandt. His brother James on keyboards and vocals is a great smiling bear of a man. At first glance he looks like should be felling trees, but his appearance belies great sensitivity and musicianship.

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Early on in the set they launch into a joyously raucous version of Cumberland Gap, at once true to the original Appalachian spirit of the song and bang up to date. They followed this with Wonderful Life and The Big Surprise classics for anybody looking for an introduction to their sound. Even the reserved Sage crowd were stung into action by Whiskey in My Whiskey an up tempo little number about a man who shoots his unfaithful girlfriend before killing himself on the railroad track.

Many fabulous songs later, “We’ll do a couple more songs for you”, mumbles Ian. They do just that and are gone, no encore and a somehow fittingly anti climactic end to an emotionally charged evening. My last wish would have been to have left and stumbled into a steamy, seedy back alley. I imagine being approached by a wild eyed bearded Vietnam vet who asks me “Buddy can you spare a dime?” It may not always be pleasant, but it certainly is a wonderful life.

Reviews and live photos by Dominic Gillespie.

To catch The Felice Brothers live, quickly head over to their website where tickets are still available for their remaining UK dates.

Deadly Circus Fire – The Hydra’s Tailor

Deadly Circus Fire…I know you’ve now got images of clowns trying to put out said fire with their squirty flowers, but thankfully this is a London based prog metal band, read on to find out how one track has Jimbo waxing lyrically.

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You probably expect once a year that at least one track will stop you in your tracks. That isn’t that one track that you hear over and over again that sticks in your head, I’m thinking Pharrell WilliamsHappy or Mark Ronson & Bruno MarsUptown Funk or even Jessie J, Ariana Grande & Nicki Minaj‘s Boom Boom. No there is always one track every year that stops you in your tracks, makes your jaw drop and the beguiling quality that it beholds you in. That one track which is like a veil lifted and a realisation that music still has the power to enthrall you…for 2015 that track was Deadly Circus Fire‘s In Darkness We Trust.

If the phrase ‘young prog metal’ from the PR release doesn’t entice you, then the opening note of In Darkness We Trust almost certainly will. If you need more visual stimulus then the video is equally beguiling; once you’ve finished reading this review you’ll find the video embedded for your enjoyment. What is it about In Darkness We Trust that makes it such a stand out track? Initially it is the long held pedal note that you expect a Northumbrian Pipe to burst forth, but it doesn’t and instead the perfectly intoned vocals emerge and retreat into the bleak story. The vocals are delicately balanced and strike the right chord with note perfect precision. It is a gentle opening to what follows, but if you’re going to play your cards to the uninitiated then this is a top drawer one.

Ah, but this isn’t a gentle album dear reader, no Animal solidly appears on the horizon with slabs of guitar and vocals that growl, but without the edge that they are indecipherable. The choral moments are clear and dance around the progressive metal guitars, that doesn’t stop those growling vocals to return, with some solid slugs of guitars taking the track back into its chorus.

Where It Lies finds itself picking a soft guitar opening that heralds that mixture of growl and more intoned vocals, only on this occasion we find both styles fighting to gain control. Again the later mid section gives way to those prog guitar moments that float as if on air, before cascading into a spiraling guitar fueled conclusion. Victim changes the theme by allowing the aggressive opening to move into a soft phase, before some light guitar shredding encourages a angry vocal response and jabs of drums and guitars.

Martyrs is the mid track which is the instrumental light relief, only it is light and doesn’t add any real value to the rest of the album. If it is a second half House of Plagues doesn’t change the pattern that fitted beforehand. The opening guitar riff, followed up by thudding drums, is joined by those carefully placed vocals as the impassioned expression of “Lies, Lies, Lies…” hammer into the piece. The musical layering of House of Plagues is handled well, allowing Deadly Circus Fire to add and remove elements as befitting the moment.

Album title track The Hydra’s Tailor is one of the shortest non-instrumental track, sparking as it does with delicate guitar phrases that balance out the more impassioned vocal intonations. The track both fading and climbing back into view, before abruptly halting its guitar riff.

Now there aren’t any mammoth prog rock tracks on offer from Deadly Circus Fire, well none that top eight minutes, so maybe that might sway you the other way if you’re on the hunt for enlongated guitar or keyboard solos. However, first impressions count and In Darkness We Trust is a track that is so impressive it might cloud your view of what follows, but it shouldn’t. The Hydra’s Tailor is an album delivered by a young band who have clearly given some thought to its construction and as such should be embraced.

Reviewed by Jimbo.

Deadly Circus Fire‘s second album The Hydra’s Tailor is available now from Amazon. Watch the album trailer featuring elements of opening track In Darkness We Trust below:-

Esthetix – Shelter EP

Jimbo managed to avoid the 80s in a musical sense….with that in mind why the heck did we ask him to review some electro-pop drowning in 80s cologne?

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Sometimes it pays to actually read what information comes from the hard working PR companies. Warning signs, should have been heeded that Esthetix “interweaves melodic optimism with kaleidoscopic synths and electronic waves”, but ploughing on you burn it onto a CD, stick it in the car stereo and…..yes it’s all electronic, it’s all swathed in 80s influences, it’s soft, it’s inoffensive, it’s melodic, it’s….not my cup of tea…maybe I should have left D-jaysea to this review as this is certainly happier on his playlist than mine.

Ok lets rise ourselves up from our prejudices, opening track Let It Go is a soft pop-synth offering, second track Promised Land downloads as Promice Land and is more 80s influenced pop-synth. Get It opens up with some semblance of notes that could pass themselves as a terrible cover of Inner City’s Good Life. Final track Bitter Motion is more of the same….ok maybe I’m prejudiced, but if I wanted electronic music that was up to date I’d be rather be spending my time with Hot Chip‘s Why Make Sense?

If D-jaysea wants to post a riposte to this then that’s fine, but there’s really nothing in here to make you want to scream and shout.

Reviewed by Jimbo.

Esthetix’s Shelter EP is available to download now from Amazon.

Auction for the Promise Club – This May Hurt

Cornwall, famous for the fact that some of its residents feel that Cornish should be recognised in the same breath as the Scots, Welsh and Irish, but whilst their parliament is somewhat in the distance we can satisfy ourselves with Jimbo’s thoughts on music from Cornwall’s Auction for the Promise Club

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The last time Auction for the Promise Club were beating at the Musique Review door they were promoting single Ghosts, this time the Cornwall based band have moved onto latest single This May Hurt. The band are currently reveling in recent exposure from all the major musical critics from 6 Music via Rolling Stone and XFM. This May Hurt continues that step forward in the right direction, fusing as it does all those elements that make Auction for the Promise Club an exciting prospect.

Alright I get the Ellie Goulding references, but what entices the listener to Auction for the Promise Club is that blending of Zoe‘s vocals between Goulding and Bjork, but with a supporting base that is indie-rock. This May Hurt builds in an encouraging fashion, the guitar and drum being joined by the aforementioned vocals, the bass hungrily joining the fray as the mantra of “This May Hurt a Little” is repeated before the track races away. It is with the introduction of the synth keys that returns the track back to where it began when the vocals emerged. Although this isn’t music by numbers, there’s a little detour to a stripped cymbal, short guitar phrased passage, before the main theme is returned.

This is indie-pop/rock in its finest form, Auction for the Promise Club continue to deliver quality and for this single that exposure on an appreciative audience should continue. Watch the video to This May Hurt below and then buy the single at iTunes.

Reviewed by Jimbo.