Buying Round-Up – July 2012

So far I’ve been reviewing my purchases in full but, to be honest, there have been a few sneaky purchases here and there that I haven’t mentioned so, in the interests of full disclosure, they are:

Pink Floyd – Animals (HMV – £10) I’ve been picking up a few of recent Pink Floyd remasters and enjoying them a lot. Was never much of a fan of them growing up but, after a good 10 years of getting into a lot of Progressive Rock stuff, thought I ought to give them another chance. There was a good Classic Rock magazine piece on this album recently too and it’s great to have that cover in the collection too!

Volbeat – Above Heaven/Below Hell CD/DVD (Fopp – £3) Good find in the bargain bin of Fopp. Heard  a few mentions of them and thought they might be worth checking out. Not that fussed with it to be honest. Win some lose some.

Ian Hunter – You’re Never Alone With A Schizophrenic 2CD (HMV – £15) More like it. Already had this album but thought my old copy needed updated. I always thought this was one of his more overrated efforts but after revisiting it I couldn’t be more wrong. This is fantastic stuff. I even enjoyed Ships! Must be getting sentimental in my old age.

Heart – With Love From Heart 3LP Box Set (Discogs – £15) I wanted to get Bad Animals and their S/T from the 80s on vinyl. Found this 2nd hand box set online which included both, two letters from Ann and Nancy and a fantastic time-warp 80s calendar which I hope to be able to use at some point in the future. Bonus – the seller threw in Brigade on LP too! RESULT!

The Stranglers – La Folie (HMV – £8) Somehow Strange Little Girl found its way into my head and needed exorcising. I’m not a fan of compilations but this track was only released as a single. Luckily the album of the period has it on as a bonus track. Didn’t expect to like this that much but gave it a spin this morning and was pretty impressed! I expect this to be a bit of a grower. Might even pick up some more of their stuff too.

Ginger – 555% (Pledge Music – £10 for download) 3 CDs worth of new Ginger material. Haven’t heard much of the Wildhearts’ main-man’s solo stuff but I’m really enjoying the 1st disc of this. Enjoying it so much, in fact, I haven’t moved on to the other 2 discs yet. So, at this rate, I could probably review this in 2014.

Amount spent on purchase: £61

Amount spent in total so far: £160

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Noise-some Notes – A Week in Listening 16th July 2012

Falling a bit behind again with the old blog posts. I’m guessing that starting Fallout 3 on the Playstation hasn’t helped matters but… someone’s got to find Bryan Wilks’ Dad!

Gojira – L’Enfant Sauvage Totally exquisite modern Metal. Going to have to review this very soon.

Ihsahn – Eremita Already covered this here!

Deep Purple – Purpendicular Had a bit of a Jon Lord tribute by myself! One of the best later Purple albums. Still don’t feel the Morse-era lineup has managed to better this. Anyone who wrote the band off when Blackmore threw in the towel would be well advised to check this out.

Whitesnake – Slide It In (UK Version) Continuing my Jon Lord remembrance! A real favourite of mine. Killer Classic Rock with some great Lord atmosphere on tracks like The Gambler and Love Ain’t No Stranger (which is a real Desert Island track of mine and frustratingly short!). And remember, David Coverdale never said he was Billy Shakespeare.

King Crimson – In the Wake of Poseidon Some neighbours were having an enthusiastic party with some awful Auto-Tuned msuic as the soundtrack. I decided to protect my ears with some classic Progressive Rock! This is the gorgeous 200g vinyl edition that came out last year. Sexy.

Yes – Fragile Continuing my Progathon.. One of the most accessible Yes albums.Even though there aren’t many actual songs on this, the songs that are are absolute giants! Heart of the Sunrise is an beast of a track. How can the wind with so many around me? I have no idea.

Skid Row – Slave to the Grind The album of the 1990 as discussed here. Big mainstay of my listening throughout the 90s along with many late night viewings of the excellent Roadkill VHS! A recent Metalsucks reviewer thought the opening 3D promo for Psycho Love on Roadkill was the only memorable moment from it. I guess seeing the band performing Delivering the Goods with Rob Halford and Cold Gin with Pantera and Ace Frehley live  is pretty forgettable stuff when you can watch them lip-syncing alongside some 3D swirly bits.

Nile – At the Gate of Sethu Great music to endure the eternal molestation of flame to. This sounds great but on a 1st listen I can’t say much about it I’m afraid. Don’t feel very literate when it comes to Death Metal although I’m enjoying it more and more. I’ll review this after a few more goes.

Anathema – Alternative 4 A brilliant album from one of Northern Englands Unholy Trinity (along with Paradise Lost and My Dying Bride). Anathema have been getting progressively more blissful and exciting throughout their career although a few of their most wonderful moments are crammed into the 1st half of this. Opener Shroud of False/Fragile Dreams is just stunning.

Enslaved – Axioma Ethica Odini Bought this when it came out a couple of years ago on double vinyl. Enjoyed Side 1 of 4 so much I keep listening to that over and over. Thought I’d better catch up on the rest before their new release comes out later this year. A good band to start on if you fancy getting into some Black Metal.

Ihsahn – Eremita (Review)

I resisted buying this for a surprisingly long time. Eremita has been picking up some great reviews since its release and has been compared very favourably with its 2010 predecessor, After, which I enjoyed very much. Despite all this, every time I picked it up in the shops I just couldn’t be arsed. Weird.

Eventually I just had to force myself to buy it and I’m glad I did because this has the edge on its predecessor and is one of the most enjoyable releases of the year so far.

Opener Arrival gets things off to an exciting start with a Dream-Theater style rampaging riff. It’s also immediately noticeable that the vocal performance is more nuanced than on After and there are some pleasingly soulful Kings X style harmonies which are a nice touch (Arrival guest vocalist Einar Solberg certainly brings to mind Kings X vocalist Doug Pinnick). The guitars are also allowed some free reign from Ihsahn’s usual orchestrated approach and the result is some great shredding solos, in particular from Jeff Loomis on The Eagle and the Snake (one of the album’s centrepieces).

Emperor fans will be in more familiar territory with the track Something Out There which hits you in the face like an icy gale. Although the album’s overall feel is quite Avant-Garde (check out The Eagle and the Snake’s Jazz Café opening and orchestral interlude Grief) there is still enough evidence of Ihsahn’s Black Metal roots for this album to appeal to Emperor fans.

For an album that’s title translates as “Hermit” Eremita is surprisingly collaborative and impressively cohesive. It maybe doesn’t have the same peaks as After but it is more consistent and more fully-formed. I hadn’t been in the mood for this but it won me over and that’s an accomplishment in itself.

HMO Rating: 4 out of 5

Noise-some Notes – A Week in Listening 9th July 2012

Been on holiday the last week so not as much music listened to as I would manage normally.

Helloween – Mini-LP and Walls of Jericho These two always put a spring in my step. A bit derivative at times but with an insane energy that makes them irresistable! A great way to start any holiday.

Nile – In Their Darkened Shrines Great, exotic Death Metal classic. Getting in the mood for their newbie At the Gate of Sethu, which just popped through the letterbox today but I haven’t had a listen yet. I’m kind of hovering around it.

Gojira – The Way of All Flesh Enjoying this band more and more. What I thought was kind of flat, at first, is now all kinds of thrilling and interesting. Their new album and their previous From Mars to Sirius are on their way.

Anathema – Weather Systems I really love this band. Their previous album We’re Here Because We’re Here was the best thing to come out in 2010 (along with Ghost’s Opus Eponymous) so I was really up for this. It’s great but not grabbing me quite the same as the previous… but that was a grower so we’ll see.

Heart – Little Queen I was always a mild fan of Heart in their 80s incarnation. A great article about this album in the recent issue of Classic Rock magazine prompted me to check this out. Sounds good on first listen but maybe not what I’m quite in the mood for at the moment so it’s been put on the backburner.

Gregg Allman – Laid Back The perfect soundtrack to a night in playing cards with my beautiful girlfriend. This is one of my all-time favourite albums, absolutely gorgeous soulful Rock. Gregg’s voice is peerless. The versions of the Allman Brothers’ Midnight Rider and Please Call Home are stunning and his cover of Jackson Browne’s These Days is masterful.

Little Richard – Here’s Little Richard and Little Richard The 1st two albums from the Rock n’ Roll innovator and originator. All Rock and Metal owes Little Richard a debt and it’s really worthwhile going back to the source every now and again .Songs  like Lucille, Rip it Up, Slippin’ and Slidin’, Tutti Frutti, Keep A Knockin’ etc. are impossible to resist and Richard’s voice is an absolute belter.

R.I.P. Jon Lord

Really sad news about the death of Jon Lord at 71. He was an absolute innovator in Hard Rock and Heavy Metal and as important a figure in the origins of the genre as it is possible to be. Here’s a snippet from the Classic Albums documentary on DP’s classic Machine Head album, where the band and Jon discuss his role and his amazing organ sound… The Beast!

Noise-some Notes – A Week in Listening 1st July 2012

Sorry had to miss out a week of this due to laptop problems. Thankfully, by the good will of Odin, I have a new one so I’m back in action. Last week’s listening was almost entirely the new Manowar and Rush albums anyway!

Manowar – The Lord of Steel Already covered this one here but, suffice to say, it’s good.

Magnum – Vigilante One of the Magnum albums I’m less familiar with, apart from the invincible title track. Dug this out on vinyl and enjoyed it a lot. Way poppier and more keyboardy than customary and you can definitely hear producer and Queen drummer Roger Taylor warbling away in the backing vocals. But, as always with Magnum, rock solid songwriting and Bob Catley’s wonderful voice selling everything.

Van Halen – A Different Kind of Truth Not the car-crash that I expected, in fact it’s extremely thrilling. Dave Lee Roth’s vocals are great despite the criticisms, he has a front-porch bluesy feel that I really love and his usual playful lyrics. Re-working 70s leftovers seems to have helped here too, so good for them. Yet another Album of the Year contender in a strong year for new releases.

Ginger – 555% (1st Disc) Right, got all 3 discs of this to listen to but I’ve decided to listen to each a few times before moving on to the next. Don’t want to get overwhelmed! 1st disc is full of the super-catchy, anthemic pop-rock we’ve come to expect from Ginger. Less guitar heavy than The Wildhearts material but there are hooks here that are instant and some interesting soundscapes too, in the mellower moments. This has definitely been the most listened Album of the week.

Gojira – The Way of All Flesh Still grappling with this slow burner! It is really living with me now so their new album L’Enfant Sauvage and the previous From Mars To Sirius are already in the post! I’m sure I’ll have a whale of a time when they drop through the letterbox.

Mantas – Death By Metal Bought this now so I’m going to have to cover it more fully but it’s pretty much what you’d expect from the pre-Death pioneers of Death Metal. Having read Ian Christe’s liner notes, I have to say I’m not sure if this is the sped-up Chicago version or the slowed down Denmark version. Probably neither.

Whitesnake – Ready and Willing “The bitch is in heat. So you better run.” David Coverdale once admitted he wasn’t “Billy Shakespeare”. Thanks for clarifying that, David.

Warrior Soul – Last Decade, Dead Century Fantastic dirty, urban, punky Hard Rock from the post Appetite For Destruction re-think. More people should know about this album. Annoyingly hobbled by boring spoken word piece “Five More Years” which is enjoyable exactly once. If it’s not music, at least make it short!

Skyclad – The Silent Whales of Lunar Sea One of my 90s Top 10 and one of the best bands of the decade.

Rush – Clockwork Angels (Review)

Any new Rush album is a big event and lots of folk have been very excited about this one. As a Rush fan I was inevitably going to buy this as the band is always capable of great things and always has the potential to come up with something new and exciting. But in truth, my expectations weren’t running too high for this one after the disappointing Snakes and Arrows.

I’m happy to report that after a few listens this has defied my expectations quite dramatically. And I’m also quite sure the full joys of the album have not yet revealed themselves so this is already a strong contender for Album of the Year. They channel a lot of the excitement and energy of Vapor Trails here but with a much warmer sound and looser feel. The band performance is more reminiscent of their earlier days and there are some throwbacks to earlier material like the Bastille Day referencing Headlong Flight. At times they seem to be channeling The Who and even have some riffs that would sound at home on latter-day Cheap Trick records!  There are also some dynamic choruses and tasteful orchestration. It’s a great sounding record and a really electrifying band performance.

One of the most pleasant surprises of the record are the lyrics. I found Neil Peart’s writing on Snakes and Arrows to be a bit too mild mannered and lacking in edge. In some tracks like The Larger Bowl the lyrics actually hampered the effect of the tracks. So it’s really pleasing to report that the man is in fine form here. The use of a story-concept for the album’s lyrics has helped add mystique and, conversely, some of the lyrics here seem more personal and biting than before. The opening tracks refrain of “I can’t stop thinking big” could be Neil’s life story and other tracks deal with religion and the cruel passage of time in a really intriguing way.

So, in short, Rush are back and I’m delighted to say they are defying the ravages of time coming up with one of their finest albums yet.

HMO Rating: 4 out of 5

… and classic rock too!