Album Review: Foxy Shazam – The Church Of Rock And Roll

How does the follow up to’s 2010’s Album of the Year shape up in 2012?

Foxy Shazam – The Church Of Rock And Roll

RockOSaurus Says:

Foxy Shazam have taken their foot off the gas on their latest LP, leaving post-hardcore and rip roaring glam-rock sprawled over the trail. Hence it’s no great shock to hear that their latest album curbs the highly energised oddball glam-pop prevalent on releases. As a result the tempo has been significantly reigned. Yet they have made up for this by producing a fine collection of super sing-a-long pop classics with eclectic songwriting and equally varied melodies.

This slackening of pace has given their melodies a chance to sit back, take a breath and enjoy the spotlight. Resulting in a much more focused pop record that falls ever further into the Mercury valley of Queen with its accompanying classic rock guitars and jaunty piano’s circling ‘The Church Of Rock and Rolls‘ vocal centric ideal. The Churchy theme is prevalent throughout with the recurrence of religious track titling, soulful Gospel backing vocals and confessional lyrics (see ‘The Temple‘, ‘The Streets‘, ‘Forever Together‘ respectively).

From the instant the guitars properly kick in, it’s clear as day that Justin Hawkins has played a huge part in his role as producer. The guitar tone is almost identical to his in-limbo band Hot Leg, no bad thing as it’s just so stonkingly rock and roll! The Hawkins brothers influence doesn’t end there either. The Guitar work on the excellent driving rock anthem Last Chance At Lovecould easily be a lost forgotten The Darkness classic, especially when Nally lift his fine falsetto skywards…it’s strikingly similar, yet definitely different.

Throughout this record the vocals are the centrepiece, with Eric displaying a fine range of smooth croons , anthemic chorus lines and window smashing pitch changes. Maintaining innovating melodies, rarely sticking to a certain style, or mood, or instrument ensures this album never gets tiresome as it’s forever on the move. Exhibit A, Holy Touch: a big gospel romp-a-stomper, Exhibit B, Wasted Feelings: full of dynamic guitars, cool vocal effects and trumpets, Exhibit C: I Like It: vocal centric with bombastic melodies.

So a more laid back Foxy have re-surfaced, but all the delightfully odd characteristics, bonkers eclecticisms and natural born melody making abilities that made them so addictive in the past, are still here for all to enjoy. My only gripe would be the final few tracks do not stand up to the quality of what came before it.

TCORAR is first and foremost a great little pop record, with hard glam-rocking tendencies spontaneously wrangling for the control switch. An early treat for 2012!

DoesItRock Overall Score: 8.5/10

Listen to Foxy Shazam – The Church of Rock and Roll now on Spotify!

Heaven’s Basement @ The Borderline

21st December 2012

As a little pre-Christmas gift from Heaven’s Basement, the boys decided to put on a donation only charity gig for Teenage Cancer Trust at The Borderline. Fresh from recording out in LA post signing a deal (hurrah!!! Finally!!!), they took this opportunity to test out some of their new material. Although, not before the supports had sufficiently warmed up the crowd.

Raven Vandelle

Raven Vandelle are a brummy Alt-Rock band who like a good detuned guitar riff or two. Songs were solid and the vocalist was pretty, good blasting out some impressive highs and rocker growls, yet there was something missing. The sparks failed to ignite their songs, as it felt everytime they should have cranked up one more notch, a slow grooved melodic guitar solo appeared. Mostly mid tempo was where they were at their best, but their lack of urgency faltered them. Promise shown, a little more work on the live set required.

Dear Superstar

A ha…Dear Superstar…we meet again! It was third time lucky tonight as i confess to really enjoying their set. Probably because their cocky front man got down to doing what he’s employed to do, sing! Less posing and more power in both their ethos and guitar work has paid dividends. Kicking in some flashy duelling guitar lines while retaining a melodic post-hardcore feel, gave their new songs a lift, showing them to be a pretty damn good rock muscle machine. Vast improvements have been shown by this band, their transformation is remarkable.

Dear Superstar

Back from LA, the laid back sunshine state has taken away none of their enthusiasm as they fire straight back into action with Tear Your Heart Out, leading the charge. The venue had filled up considerably as a swollen sea of faces had arrived for favourites Heaven’s Basement. Fledgling singer Aaron has come along way since his last performance. He was assured, confident and assertive as he strutted around stage with vigour and purpose (he even managed a stage dive late on).  But yet again his vocals didn’t feel strong enough to overpower a Marshall backed assault, yet through the softer moments his voice shined (despite his hair not resembling a cross between Toploader and the hair bear bunch).

Heaven’s Basement

The most surprising vocals of the night go to superstar axe man Sid Glover (who’s up for a Pure Rawk Award 2012 alongside Drummer Chris Rivers!!), when his snarling tongue got to grips with the sleazy thunder roaring number Paranoia. I would even go so far as to say they were best vocals of the night! Backing this claim he sung another new tune brilliantly, showcasing his vocal prowess even further.

Sid Glover

The new tunes aired this evening had a definite bluesy swagger to them, such as the slightly oddball lyric’d Green Elephant. Its foot stomping riffs and soaring vocals showed a slightly more mature sound…although the flaring guitar solo was unmistakably another HB classic.

Aaron Buchanan

So their new songs sound great, their image has been overhauled, they have signed a record deal with Red Bull Records, their live shows are as kick ass as ever…finally the Heaven’s Basement boys are starting to fulfill their potential. Look out! As they ready themselves to unleash a well overdue assault on the UK Hard Rock crown!

Frank Turner @ Hammersmith Apollo

27th November 2011

Two very different acts were in the supporting bill this evening, one mellow one manic! The beautiful Aussie folk of Emily Barker and the Red Clay Halo was up first. 4 striking ladies stood caressing evocative melodies from their instruments of choice. Most combinations of cello violin and guitar and voices are bound to be harmonious and these girls were no exception. Their  catchy little tunes were rather good easy listening ditty’s, pleasing all the plus ones in the house (of which there were many). The second support was a swing in the opposite direction, towards Turner’s younger anarchic punk days. Not one for the faint hearted/un-initiated.

Emily Barker & The Red Clay Halo

Against Me! proclaimed as one of Frank’s most idolised punk bands came out kicking and screaming with all gun blazing making one hell of a guitar fuelled storm. Their recent records have been polished pop rock efforts with soarer chorus’s…tonight it was back to their punk roots as they barely took breath between songs all night. They crammed an improbable amount of high octane material into the set, providing a rockin’ runaway train which never stopped a rollin’.

Their fast, loud and loose ethic was the polar opposite of Barker that initially only engaged the hardcore punk fraternity stage front. By the end, even those plus ones were toe tapping (well some of them…generally while covering their ears).

As this is the fifth time of watching Frank, You would think I’d pretty much covered all of what he has to offer. Granted the usual courageous chorus of crowd voices singing every word was here in full force, as was his beautifully honest sentiment and superbly arranged live versions. For tonight I’m focusing on what was different and new in his repertoire, the evolution which keeps his band of followers coming back for more.

Not content to sit back on his laurels frank has continually improved his shows and his songs. He aired a new unreleased song called Cowboy Chords just because he thought it was time to play it. It was an emotional and sparce tune set to one acoustic guitar that showed off his prolific songwriting spirit and desire to play live music! His reworking of old tune Fathers Day was beautifully poignant and desolate, more in line with the sombre lyrical content.

Frank Turner

As expected he plucked a fair few tunes from his latest album, songs which were destined for venues such as this. Huge arrangements of multi-instrumental melodies were frequently backed by Emily Barker and the Red Clay Halo adding a soft backing chorus of sweet vocals. Against Me! Even joined in on Franks atheist gospel song Glory Glory Hallelujah. This song was probably the biggest polarising point of the night. His spirited speech on religion (or non-religion in his case), was rather preachy, almost as if he was here to convert the fans to his beliefs.

He told us of him sitting outside on the steps of this very venue, dreaming of playing it one day. Usually this ‘I was like you’ nonsense is nothing more than a ploy to get the crowd in their corner. But with Frank I am absolutely inclined to believe him. He does not mix his words, and the ones he chooses are straight from the heart. He came…he rocked…he conquered Hammersmith.

Does It Rock? Awards 2011: The Winners

Sadly all of the award winners cannot be here to accept these awards, but feel free to get in touch to send your acceptance speeches any time!

Find the Nominees here!

Does It Rock Live Awards 2011: The Winners

Best Gig Performance

Winner: Jim Jones Revue (@ KoKo)

For this special live performance, a slice of the good ol’ days of rock and roll armed with two tone shoes, rockabilly style and jiving dancehalls was transported to north London. Everyone was swinging along to the amped up retro-blues party and all round great show brought to us by the Jim Jones Revue. A blistering live band who are impossible not to love, time and time again!

Best Festival Performance

Winner: Coldplay (@ Glastonbury)

As expected Coldplay’s live show is immense. But this one really surpassed expectations kicking both Beyonce and Bono into row z. A heady mix of classics and the new electro sound worked wonders as I fell back in love with a band who can probably now consider themselves among the greatest on the planet.

Best Song

Winner: Executioners Day (Heaven’s Basement @ Underworld)

On three different occasions we sampled this classic rock thumper. Each time better than the last! Its new extended live format the bridge melody now extends to a sample cover of RATM’s Bullet In Your Head, genius stuff! With their debut album on the horizon it’s long overdue release on the public at large is imminent. Hold tight world!

Best Venue

Winner: The Lexington

A great selection of beers in the cool hangout downstairs bar that’s never overcrowded and a superlative intimate venue up above wins this award hands down. There is no better place to catch a band in London!

Best Crowd

Winner: Death From Above 1979 (@ The Forum)

This over-enthused bunch were chomping at the bit on the much rejoiced return of the fuzz punks first London reunion shows. Bodies flying everywhere, uncontrollable dancing and more bustle than a half price sale at Selfridges. Mad, but great!

Best Festival

Winner: Glastonbury

The reasons are endless…there is simply too much to enjoy. All night bars, disco’s, side acts, crazy post-apocalyptic late night party zone, chill out area’s and fantastic food. This is before we mention any of the music. Worthy Farm is the spiritual home of the Music Festival, long may it reign.

Best Festival Anthem

Winner: One Day Like This (Elbow @ Glastonbury)

A totally brilliant set from elbow was massively endearing and full of emotional heartwarming tunes to swell the heartstrings. This had nearly everybody on the festival site singing in harmony, a great moment of joy (helped by the appearance of the sun !)

Best Frontman/Vocalist

Winner: Tim Harrington (Les Savy Fav)

Not so much for his singing though, this guy is a loony tune of epic proportions. His antics are chaotic, borderline insanity but you seriously can’t take your eyes off the man. Mesmerizing!

Best Guitarist

Winner: BB King

After his short waddle to his seat this old school legend showed everyone how to be the master of guitar. Beautiful staccato and hugely emotive string bends took centre stage during this set of pure blues magic.

2011 Spotlight Awards:

The “Waahahaaay Over The Top” award for exuberant Showmanship:

Winner: Saxophone Solo and Karaoke in the Crowd (Datarock @ The Garage)

You have to be pretty mad to start a karaoke sing-a-long to dirty dancing’s Time of Your Life. But to do so entirely in the crowd not forgetting the sax solo is on a different level. Showmanship and cheese collided in a truly unforgettable moment.

The “Eyecandy” award for the hottest woman of rock

Winner: Charlotte Hatherley (Ash)

Her triumphant return to the Ash fold proved that girls can truly rock with the boys, whilst adding that sprinkling of glamour!

The “Turned to 11″ award for the Loudest set

Winner: The Qemists ( @ Camden Crawl)

A shoe-in for this award were these Drum’n’Bass rebels after they blew up their rigs two songs into the set. They played not just for the Camden crowd, this show was audible nationwide!

The “I can’t believe I saw that” award for the Most Unexpected Gig Antics

Winner: The Balcony Climb, Crowd Demolition Derby and Bat Hang (Les Savy Fav @ Heaven)

Tim Harrington’s crazed antics took in a ride on a box on wheels at simply frightening speeds through the crowd (all with wired mic!). Then with the help of leg-ups and frantic pulling he clambered up onto the balcony, whereby he decided it was a good idea to hang over the edge backwards with a few burly guys holding his feet. Madness personified!

The “WTF??” award for the most unusual crowd Antics

Winner: Glo-Stick Assault (Les Savy Fav @ Heaven)

Another award for Tim Harrington, this time he gave the crowd permission to go crazy by lobbing a huge box full of glo-sticks into the crowd. Cue a glo-stick tsunami as they were catapulted around the room, at the band, at the security guards and at each other. Strangely beautiful to watch, but also quite dangerous to stick your head up for fear of flying luminescent projectiles.

The “Is that a…” award for Most Random Stage Prop

Winner: A Lighthouse (The Joy Formidable @ The Forum)

What on earth a Lighthouse is doing on a Kentish Town stage I will never ever understand…answers on a postcard please!

The “Fashion Disaster” award for Terrible Style

Winner: Yeti Jacket, Leather, Indian Headgear, Masking Tape Bikini, Face Paint etc… (Tim Harrington)

Tim’s shelf will be bulging now as his style also wins an award. Bizarre outfits, numerous changes and outlandish extravagance.

The “Do Not Enter” award for the worst gig Venue

Winner: KoKo (For extortionate beer prices and bad setlisting!)

Irked by the recent poor showing of this venue and it’s pricing and scheduling, KoKo despite its nice paintwork is the most underwhelming venue from 2012.

The “Ouch My Ears!” award for the worst Performance

Winner: Divorce @ Camden Crawl

These Glaswegian girls were absolutely hideous! They made a god awful, intolerable arty tripe which barely classifies as music. The worst performance of 2012 by a country mile!

Tracks of 2011: A Retrospective

Now our favourite albums of 2011 have been decided, that leaves only the small matter of the best songs. As I have been checking out vast swathes of new music it has become incredibly difficult to even begin to whittling the list of great tunes down to a reasonable number. Hence this year I’ve tried to chronicle the songs that have been top of my pops. Instead of the usual un-ordered list, here follows a vague timeline of awesome songs to keep you rockin’ through 2012. As usual though we have spotlighted those which shone brightest!

Spotify Playlist

>>DoesItRock Retrospective … 2011<<

Dananananaykroyd – Muscle Memory …Toning down their signature oddball sound ever so slightly they have created starkly addictive pop tune with singalong credentials, yet without relenting their indie sensibilities.

British India – Safari … All inhibitions are unleashed on this fuzz fuelled scorcher. Vigour, energy, two tiered passive/aggression, all over a punchy punk melody and wailing string bends. Short sweet and exhilarating.

Fair To Midland – Rikki Tiki Tavi … Imagine standing at the crossroads of epic progger’s Porcupine Tree when along rolls System of a Down’s complex guitar melodies with Disturbed vocals stacked in the back. Bold, beautiful an brazen all in one superb prog-metal classic.

Black Spiders – What Goods a Rock Without A Roll Rolling drums and spiralling guitars unleash in the build up for this hard rocking behemoth. Big riffing, mellowed bluesy interlude, expert wahhed melodies and the most badass lyric of the year (‘Eat thunder, Shit Lightning!’) combine in one heck of a rock and roll storm!

Heaven’s Basement – Unbreakable … This kick starts a new era with powerful unbridled energy and a youthful exuberance for pulsating hard rock! Massive melodies, huge riffs and a scorching solo drive this incessantly infectious tune. New album on the way, watch out!

Rose Hill Drive – Baby Doncha Know Your Man … Take a trip back to the fuzzy psychedelic days with Rose Hill Drive for a rocker soaked in retro charm.

Steel Panther – 17 Girls In A Row … No shame, balls out, lewd lyrics and 80’s hair…but man does it rock! Delightfully un-PC!

Times of Grace – Willing (Acoustic) … When metal-core gets a melodic makeover in the hands of Times of Grace you have beauty and beast entwined in a stunning grapple. This track sees the beauty win out, as complex riffs are beautifully ported to the acoustic guitar!

Crazy Arm – Bandalito … Bass thunders and the cannons roar to the red hot guitars of high octane Brit folk-punks Crazy Arm. Emphasis on vocals and a recklessly temperamental tempo makes this one of 2011’s unsung gems.

The View – Grace … The view create another smashing pop hit single. They have a knack for those simple catchy riffs that nag on your brain.

Frank Turner – Build Me Up Buttercup …Turner shows has the gift of creative reinterpretation with his cover of the four tops party classic. His version is despairing, and tortured, with his expressive vocals conveying the true meaning of the song. A classic reworked beautifully!

Set Your Goals – The last American Virgin … Rapid fire vocals, soaring chorus, fiery palm mute power chords, driving bass, melodic riffs…everything ticks my pop pink boxes! Pop Punk Anthem of 2011.

The entire playlist is available to listen via Spotify:

Spotify Playlist

>>DoesItRock Retrospective … 2011<<

Albums of 2011: 10-1

It’s time to complete the countdown of DoesItRock.nets favourite albums of 2011…

10) Mastodon – The Hunter

Prog metal kings Mastodon’s latest LP is by far their most accessible, weaving a path of destruction though chunky heavy metal grooves, gorgeously powerful backdrops and infectious melodies. The mix of super smooth clean lyrics and snarling tongue lashings are superb as each track flips from lightning fast metal riffs to thunderous hard rock in an instant. Mixing up their sound with meandering prog-outs, straight laced rockers and metal assaults this album has much to offer all music lovers. Simply put, there was no better metal in 2011.

9) The Treatment – This Might Hurt

Ok, so technically this is a re-issue. But it is very rare that you get a chance to make amends for overlooking an album within its release year. Bolstered with a handful of brilliant bonus tracks, This Might Hurt screams like Aerosmith, drinks with Gun’s n’ Roses and parties like Motley Cru. Good old fashioned rock and roll is safe in their hands as they combine huge Marshall backed riffs with classic rock solo’s and catchy ass vocals. If you’re looking for a big time rock and roll album of head banging, balls to the wall and drunken debauched anthems. The Treatment are all the medicine you need!

8) Frank Turner – England Keep My Bones

Frank’s Turner esquire, punk poet laureate extraordinaire has focused his lyrical eye towards his homeland, producing a fine folk album with stadium ambitions. Slightly faded are his everyman tales, replaced with beautiful compositions and ever growing confidence to write bigger and better than the last. This album has shown his adept ability to write lyrics close to his heart, retaining his honest Englishness while his musical arrangements reach for the skies. There are no better melody maker alive, and no better man to lead a sing-a-long with his utterly impassioned delivery. England Keep My Bones signals a significant step up.

7) The Rural Alberta Advantage – Departing

A hugely underrated album which I keep on coming back to. Its graceful and beautiful in its soothing softness backed with folky nasal vocals which are oddly fitting to their sound. This is not a happy album by any imagination stretch, feelings of isolation, despair and mellowness are present throughout. Yet when they crank up the dials and start to unleash some energy with crashing percussion and thrusting guitars their outstanding melodies take centre stage. A delightful album of perfectly staged catchy tunes that are emotionally fraught and honest.

6) Maybeshewill – I Was Here For A Moment, Then I Was Gone

Strings and Guitars gleefully unite on the most stunningly beautiful album on this year’s countdown. This collection of instrumentals send soaring violins crashing into waves of guitar noise and sends fizzing electro keys flying into epic cymbal smashes. When these elements all collide in one huge melodic crescendo, there is simply no better sound of 2011. Sit back and bask in it’s magnificence!

5) …And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead – Tao of The Dead

This year,… AYWKUBBTOTD have never ventured far from the play button. With repeat listens this album just gets better, revealing new melodies each time or a new favourite track dependent on my mood. Their ability to retain their melodic groove throughout some apocalyptically massive prog-outs of guitar noise is hugely enviable. Tao of the Dead, once you give it a fair shot, will mesmerize you too.

4) Black Spiders – Sons Of The North

UK’s new rock heroes finally dropped their debut album in february, and my word…it ROCKS! Tongue in cheek lyrics and a huge sense of fun only increase my love for this album, one that’s already steeped in humungous melodies and no-nonsense all out attack guitars. Every song is a winner, from bluesy swaggers, recklessly energetic romps to foot stomping plunderers. Black Spiders wear the Hard Rock crown of 2011!

3) Foo Fighters – Wasting Light

After a couple of rather dull albums of run of the mill pop rock, this years return from the Foo’s billed as a return to roots was a welcome addition to their catalogue. True to word, from the very first tune the guitars are cranked up, the vocals are in attack mode and the amps are set to 11. Taking the best of the Foo’s arsenal of pop rock melodies, memorable choruses and high octane rock power, Wasting Light sees the return to form we’d been dreaming of.

2) And So I Watch You From Afar – Gangs

For the second year in a row, a debut album reaches #2 on the countdown with this offering from Northern Ireland’s Post-Rock saviors ASIWYFA. This album full of super tight instrumentals takes slices of metal, rock, prog, pop and post-rock and amalgamates them into a glorious storm of musical storytelling. Astounding guitar harmonies range from super technical metal to the ambient melodies, driving each and every tune. The lack of vocals doesn’t seem to matter as intricate instrumental interplay feeds this addiction. All that’s left is to sit back, be blown away by the often brutal, often beautiful but ever-infectious grooves of Gangs.

1) Fucked Up – David Comes To Life

David Comes To Life is such a brilliant rock record that it most definitely deserves it place at number 1 this year. Looking through a critical eye, it’s hard to fault this inventive concept album on its epic 80 min scope, unbridled energetic outbursts and for bringing hardcore punk back into fashion. For me this was an album which has some of the most infectious guitar melodies, choc a block with wall to wall riffs, thunderbolt drumming and angst tongued lyrics (matched beautifully by female clean vocals). Without lifting their foot off the pedal for David Comes To Life’s duration, who cares about the storyline when the soundtrack is this good! A rock and roll ride of stratospheric proportions.

Roll on 2012!

Honourable Mentions: Fair To Midland – Arrows And Anchors, You Animals – Crimes Creeps & Thrills, Turbowolf – Turbowolf,

Click here for the top 25 as a Spotify Paylist

>> DoesItRock Albums of 2011 <<