Album Review Shorts: The Horrible Crowes – Elsie

Short & sweet album reviews that never miss the point…

The Horrible Crowes – Elsie

RockOSaurus Says…

Gaslight Anthem frontman’s side project is a deeply sombre affair, something which hugely suits his fantsastic lyrical character creations. With the throttle lifted it’s the focus on soulful rasping vocals and poetic musings that resonate the strongest. The wide ranging use if softly picked country guitars and organs give Elsie a lounging gospel feel of comfort despite its powerful emotional clout. The right balance of mood is struck throughout with Go Tell Everybody, one of a handful of bright noisier tuneis polar opposed by the almost confessional groove of Ladykiller. A darkly passionate and vivid album full of honest warmth. No more that could we expect from the heir to Springsteen’s throne!


Album Review Shorts: Reckless Love – Animal Attraction

Short & sweet album reviews that never miss the point…

Reckless Love – Animal Attraction

After a suprisingly great debut album of 80’s pop metal harking power rock that was far better than it ought to be, the flying Finn’s are back with more hairsprayed pop-rock antics. They’re huge arena sized rock is chock-a-block with overly emphasized Def Leppard songwriting aspirations, Bon Jovi’s hair and Van Halen keyboards to complete their full house of 80’s rock influences. But whilst the debut was fun, packed with memorable melodies and great sing-a-long moments, Animal Attractions stubles and falls on it’s make-up strewn face. This is mainly because it feels just too much like a mashup of melodies plucked from the aforementioned 80’s heavyweights. From the duh-duh-duh-duh’s on Dirty Dreams (Cutting Crew – I Just Died in Your Arms), the keyboard’s on Hot (Van Halen – Jump) and the vocal harmonies on Animal Attraction (Def Leppard – Animal) show that these songs barely classify as ‘new’. There are some cracking tunes regardless, such as Speedin’, but yet I’m always left wondering “Haven’t I heard that before?”. If you love big fun 80’s compilations you’ll find much to love here. But if you already own one…chance are, you “have” heard this album before.


The Joy Formidable, And So I Watch You From Afar @ The Forum

14th October 2011

We were back at one of our favourite stomping grounds tonight for a show that’s come as the result of an accelerated rise through the indie rock ranks in 2011, The Joy Formidable. They brought along a packed support line-up, the first of which we missed out on. Oddly all support bands had the same length sets. Now I’m all for equal opportunities but the hierarchy of set times is one right that needs to be built over time with rising popularity, not assigned through an arbitrary all inclusive policy.

The Dig

Nevertheless despite a shortlived uprising, we were stuck with The Dig for 30 arduous minutes of heavily reverbed, surf styled, trendy indie scene dross which barely managed to keep us awake, let alone entertain us. Credit is due though to their final song which perked up a wholly dull performance from these Abercrombie NYC residents, rescuing it from the jaws of defeat just in the nick of time, a la Jack Bauer. Ready to make a bigger impact in their 30 minutes were tonight’s ‘sub-headliners’ (a moot title), And So I Watch You From Afar…

And So I Watch You From Afar

ASIWYFA are an interesting beast. An instrumental guitar band who like to blur the boundaries between rock, post-rock and prog on their album releases. Tonight regardless of genre classifications they had their serious rocking hat on a they blasted through the standout first 4 tracks of their blistering new album Gangs. The instrumental virtuosity was sublime with some of the most complicated interweaved sections played on two guitars standing on opposite ends of the stage. Standout tune 7 Billion People All Alive At Once leveraged plenty of huge rugged breakdowns beautifully complimenting their more melancholic guitar lines and soaring soundscopic effects. Playing both the beauty and the beast bears no problem for this superbly talented band. Despite being on top form tonight, they seemed to have some slight technical issues, which may or may not have been the cause of their sound being way below the 11 they’d clearly love to tune their amp dials to. An epic journey of prog infused melodic phrasing and hard hitting raw power, one nobody wanted to alight from.

Suddenly out of the cold Kentish Town night, a small Cornish seafront village has appeared on stage, complete with its own crashing waves, boat and operational 10ft lighthouse. It was set for headliners The Joy Formidable (I’ve clearly missed the whole maritime link here). First impressions were…where is the lead singer? I then proceeded to rise on tip toes and located the vertically challenged female firecracker who’s beautiful vocals mixed up stunning power and a subtle fragility. This trio certainly packed a punch with some tremendously thunderful drumming and overwhelming crashing guitars (akin to a stormy sea perhaps? I know…I’m fishing for a connection).

The Joy Formidable
Only having a single LP to your name on one hand is a good thing. Everybody knows what’s instore! The finest tunes from their debut all got a great live reception including the electro stormer A Heavy Abacus, a potently tormented I Don’t Want To See You Like This and the remarkable sound collision of Whirring.

Ritzy Bryan

Although on the other hand, unless the album is a 10/10 instant classic, there is a lot of filler to plug the gaps where you would normally press fast forward. Having these interspersed within the set dried their indie rock formula up prematurely, hence later songs sounded almost too similar and repetitive. A few covers would have helped proceedings flow better.

Despite this, they put on a very entertaining show with great spirit, especially frontwoman Ritzy Bryan who endlessly bounded about with a smile of enjoyment streaking across her beaming face all evening. Ones to watch, for sure…roll on album #2.

Datarock @ The Garage

3rd October 2011

There is a good reason why clubs are empty on Mondays, and that’s because they fall on a Monday. Tonight we’re in for an 80’s inspired retro night of disco-beats and danceable rock in the sparsely populated Relentless Garage.
The brave few who decided to turn up early for the support band (us included) were not rewarded with a great upcoming talent. Instead we had a Norwegian Duo with two names, two set times and two instruments (Guitar and MacBook Pro). It was tough to tell the difference between their 2 bands Syntax TerrOrkester and Baetur because they were both totally devoid of merit, end of. A very slow start!

Baetur & Syntax TerrOkester (Spot the Difference?)

Thankfully the London based dark pop band Scanners were here to liven the drab scene. Deep and melodic indie rock guitars suited the vocals of Sarah Daly who howled and yelped her way though a lively and emotionally wrought set. Mixing up twinkling chimes and chasm-like guitar reverb they struck an overcast sound that could pull both the heart strings and the ‘let her rip’-cords. Packing in plenty of cool tunes such as the sweet Baby Blue, darkly acoustic Salvation and the firecracker set closer Raw these guys turned round the nights fortunes.


Soon the crowd swelled with red tracksuit’s in anticipation of the headline act, who burst on to stage in their own matching set. Datarock, looking like 80’s fools they kicked into their unique tongue in cheek disco mayhem. Yet something wasn’t right. Whether it was the sparse crowd, the over the top calls to go crazy (on a monday!), the sound balance (low guitars and non-existent bass) or just poor performance, the set was not going well for these norse dance vikings. Yet in one divine moment of inspiration it all changed…

“Everybody come in close (we know its a Monday) but please we have a 360 camera and were gonna film the video for our new song California”

I an instant the vibe changed from social club toe tapping to hedonistic clubbing heaven. Following up this with the introduction of Happy Mondays Dancer Bez and Guitarist Kav, guesting on a hypersonic and massively extended version of Fa-Fa-Fa, this was the shot in the arm this show needed. From here they never looked back, adding more and more urgency with their relentless party tunes including I Used To Dance With My Daddy and their biggest hit Computer Camp Love.

Returning from a short set break, I witnessed what I can only accept as a dream. Their drummer led a karaoke version of the cheesiest song that has ever…or will ever exist, I’ve Had The Time Of My Life! It was complete with band members jumping into the crowd to lead the tune and they even managed to throw in the Sax solo to boot. But like I said. I never saw it. It didn’t happen. I didn’t embrace the cheese. I most definitely did not sing along 😉

Bez – “doin the MADchester Dance

Nevertheless, crime to music everywhere ignored, this was a thoroughly enjoyable set from a fun time band who never take themselves too seriously (if that wasn’t obvious enough already!).

The Treatment @ The Borderline

6th September 2011

Before the big relocation of DoesItRock HQ out of the city and beyond the green belt, it was only fitting to head out for one final gig to bid farewell to the ease of TFL transport home.

As such, I found myself in The Borderline grabbing a beer as tonight’s compere (complete in doctor’s outfit) took the mike to introduce the first band of the night No Americana. Despite having a terrible name for a band from Brummyland, this was a triumphant set of soaring rock. Their classic rock sound was well rounded balancing raw power, danceable rhythms, melodic vocals, sing-a-long chorus’s and nifty guitar licks. They were remarkably confident and as such put in a superbly polished performance packed with brilliant radio friendly tunes such as Wax Poetic (already play listed by Kerrang) that far exceeded their billing tonight. One of the most impressive first-up support slots I have witnessed in a long time.  I expect these guys to move swiftly through the ranks, so catch them while you can.

No Americana

Another well rounded radio ready and PR marketers dream were up next in the shape of Six Hour Sundown. Now to me, a female fronted to a rock n’ roll band with stadium sized ambitions is either a rare treat (Halestorm, Damone etc…) or one doomed to failure. Sadly these young hopefuls fell into the latter category. Her attempts at being a rock diva came across as a frail whimper of solitude amongst the towering power chords of the solid instrument wielders. One track of note was such Angels (a sombre ballad no less), but even this was littered with clichéd lyrics and overly dramatic melodic guitars. Despite the lack of a coherent sound they showed promise with their riff making, plundering a couple of killer breakdowns and scale runs. Outclassed by their subordinate band on the night, says much about this set.

Six Hour Sundown

Tonight, little to my knowledge was The Treatment’s debut album launch party This Might Hurt. Odd, particularly as I had been listening to this album since 2010 and almost bought it the last time our paths crossed @ Underworld . Particulars aside, tonight was the showcase of a reinvigorated band playing their first headline show in front of a packed out crowd, quite a feat given today is Monday! After a slight technical hitch the boys strutted out to roaring approval and kicked straight into their big riffing album opener The Departed. In fact every song was stacked with enough guitar wattage to blow a tunnel under London to rival CrossRail. Special mention must go to latest single Drink, F**k, Fight, containing enough booze fuelled reckless abandon to match those on show during the London Riot’s.

The Treatment

Playing your first headline set is daunting, but if they were nervous, they didn’t look it as they struck a ferocious pace kicking out the best tracks from their re-packaged release. The Treatment’s staple diet of glam inspired hard rock hit equal vocal highs as their duelling Les Paul wails, with singer Matt Jones’ hagaresque ball busting howls being both distinctive and powerful. Balladry was masterful here tonight, without the usual soppy lyrical fare it gave the vocals a chance to truly soar and the crowd the chance to sway along.

Matt Jones

With the longer set which comes with being headliners, they turned to some tried and tested cover versions to plug the gaps. Their selections, both hugely influenced by their manager’s exploits in the UK Rock scene, produced stunning results. First out of the canon was Road Rocket( Laurie Mansworth’s former band More), a thundering heavy metal tune with flaming blues licks, demonic drumming and a frantic guitar solo. The song of the night (possibly the year so far) came with the second. Its hard to describe just how excited I became as the opening bass thumps of Hurricane Party‘s Killer resonated through my head. A moment of pure joy, exuberance and Classic Rock Muscle… I loved ever second. It was after this tune you realise the striking similarities between those bands, no bad thing in my mind.

Encore’s are clearly a new thing to The Treatment, as they had run out of material upon their return to the stage. Unfazed, they decided to play The Doctor, comically, for the second time of the night! Ignoring this minor blip, this was an electrifying live show from one of the UK’s most promising Hard Rock talents.

Album Review Shorts: Banquets – Top Button, Bottom Shelf

Short & sweet album reviews that never miss the point…

Banquets – Top Button, Bottom Shelf

RockOSaurus Says…

Barely clocking in at 30 mins in length, this the ‘full’ debut LP from New Jerseys latest laureats. Akin to Motion City Soundtrack and the Gaslight Anthem of old, they play with energetic punky guitars bursting with hooks and a real focus on vocal excellence. Following a muscular pop-punk formula their catchy power chords riffs are both accessible and cut with a raw energy which flows like wildfire through this cracking little album. Melody explodes from every perceivable angle and the uptempo racing riffs rarely relent. The sheened poppy vocals are stacked with big chorus harmonies, rapidfire wordplay, gang vocals and more ooh ooh’s than the Weezer back catalogue. As this album races along, it’s very difficult to fault for it’s determination to fit as much pop power as possible into it’s short lifespan.  A very impressive debut from a band clearly destined for bigger things!


Album Reviews: The Answer – Revival

After almost two years on tour with Ac/Dc it was only inevitable the return of The Answer was going to be special!

The Answer – Revival

Unbreakable Cover

RockOSaurus Says:

Revival. It’s a pretty accurate title as it’s sparked life back into the stalled rise of Northern Irelands classic rock sons, The Answer! Right from the word go this LP has the blues flooding through it’s veins, showing it’s vinyl crackled charms and quickly baring it’s snarling teeth! The simple blues riff is totally revitalised here with brilliant production effortlessly toeing the line between old school style and new school power!

Song writing is incredibly tight with fuller and more dynamic layered sounds from staple blues weapons, the harmonica and psychedelic organs on top of their Les Paul Standard attack . The overly Americanised lyrics grate somewhat if you want to be pedantic,, but the booming chorus melodies are catchy enough to wash away these critiques.

This is a start to finish classic rock bruiser with hook heavy melodies, traditional blues riffs, blistering guitar solos and superb vocals from Cormac Neeson’s stunning set of pipes. Trouble drips with retro flair, Use Me cranks the amps, female backing vocals bring a new slant on Nowhere Freeway, while Caught In The Riverbed fires fretboard flares at will and New Day Rising‘s driven by of the best tremolo picked riffs this side of Thunderstruck!

Their time on tour with Ac/Dc has obviously rubbed off in abundance, almost matching the biggest rockers in the world for both raw power and total addictiveness! Revival is a fantastic return to form, one no rock lover should be without!

DoesItRock Overall Score: 9/10

Listen to The Answer – Revival now on Spotify!