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Showing posts from April, 2010

The Mars Volta - Octahedron

If you read my review of their previous effort The Bedlam In Goliath, you'll know that I must have scratched the scab again - but I'm glad I did. Last year's Octahedron, their latest and 5th studio album is by far their most accessible to date. There's still enough of a smattering of weirdness around to keep original fans happy, but not enough to put off the more mainstream inclined nu-prog fan.

If you're new to this band a word of warning - Cedric Bixler-Zavala's voice is an acquired taste. He sings in a high pitched nasal fashion, and although that description sounds awful, I actually find it fits with the weird angles this band throw at you. Imagine a more agressive Geddy Lee but without the nails down a blackboard effect and you about halfway there!

Like all their albums this one reveals hidden layers after repeated listens, but unlike their later more experimental (emphasis on the mental) works also has an immediacy previously lacking. Maiman Omar Rodrigue…

The Mars Volta - The Bedlam In Goliath

This band, on the evidence of their amazing first album released in 2003, De-Loused In The Comatorium, should have gone on to be the most creative force in modern prog. I gave up on them after the 3rd album Amputechture, as they seemed to be suffering badly from the law of diminishing returns. This sense of disappointment was compounded by seeing them live in a sweaty pit somewhere in England. Never in my 36 years of gig going had I seen such a bunch of self-absorbed pretentiousness at work, disappearing up their own fretboards. Not once in 2 hours did any band member acknowledge the audience.

However, rather like a scab, I can't leave them alone, so we turn to the 4th album, 2008's The Bedlam In Goliath. If you're in the mood to be battered by relentless noise, this album ain't bad at all, although I can't imagine I'll play it as much as the brilliant first album.

Analysing each track is pointless, as they meld into one noisy beast complete with semi-screeche…

Five Horse Johnson - The Mystery Spot

I knew nothing about this band until by chance I stumbled across their YouTube videos, then I just had to get this album! An apt description maybe - Stray Cats get mugged by Led Zeppelin in a dark alley and emerge as a mutant psychobilly metal monster, with choons ya can dance to. This band know how to ROCK and they know how to ROLL. PLAY LOUD!

4 out of 5
#11

Paul Cusick - Focal Point

Came across Paul Cusick via a rather clever link on Facebook along the lines of "If you like Porcupine Tree, try this". Now I always pride myself on not falling for ads, however well made they might be, but this intrigued me. On visiting Cusick's website I found to my surprise he was offering a download of the album for free.

Having downloaded and listened to the album a couple of times I took the plunge and bought the much higher quality cd. Those of you old enough will remember things called hi-fis and the appreciable increase in quality on one of those compared to the download is immeasurable.

The music is indeed for those who like Porcupine Tree, later Floyd, even Radiohead. A good variety of music is contained in the album and the songs are well structured. The whole thing flows together seamlessly. It won't win any awards for originality, and if it's edgy prog you're after, this ain't it, but for a debut produced on a no doubt tight budget it's…

Jerry Dammers' Spatial A.K.A. Orchestra - Northampton Derngate, 9th April 2010

Last night a mate & I trouped off to the somewhat antiseptic albeit convenient setting of Northampton's Derngate theatre to see Jerry Dammers' Spatial A.K.A. Orchestra. I had deliberately avoided watching anything on YouTube or anywhere else, so I did not know what to expect, and in fact had no expectations at all. I liked some of the Specials' music, but wasn't a fan in any sense of the word.
First surprise - the stage is set for an actual orchestra, with Dammers' bank of largely analogue keyboards and synths front of stage right. The stage is flanked by shop dummies attired in space gear, and "playing" guitars and shoulder strung keyboards. There is also a 1970s black three wheeler suspended from the ceiling lit from the inside with an eerire green glow. It's the one that was shaped like a door wedge, for those of you old enough to remember these things.
The lights dim, and Mr Dammers' wanders on to the stage wearing a cape and an Egyptian h…

Love And Rockets - Seventh Dream Of Teenage Heaven

Love And Rockets were formed after Northampton goth pioneers Bauhaus split up in the early mid 80s. In fact they are Bauhaus without the stylised freak that was singer Peter Murphy. Bauhaus released some great singles, and were an entertaining live act, but one got the impression that they were Murphy's band, and were somewhat hampered by his overbearing pretentiousness. I always found their albums hard work as the band seemed to have ambitions far in excess of their talent. When Love And Rockets formed they disappeared under my radar, as they did with most of their potential UK audience. In fact until they came up in conversation down the pub last night and Seventh Dream... was borrowed  I had never heard anything by them! So I can review this without nostalgia clouded opinions, which makes a change.

Seventh Dream Of Teenage Heaven is their first album from 1985, and although there are unavoidable similarities to the Bauhaus sound, in particular Kevin Haskins' crashing glam s…