Hayseed Dixie @ The Garage

15th March 2019

It was party and singalong night in Islington this evening as the bluegrass cover legends returned for their almost annual outing to the London stage.

Before though we had to endure ‘Just Tom & Pete’ whose original tracks were tongue in cheek and little more than a few bedroom penned ditties. Comedy relies on timing and delivery, unfortunately this set had little of either. To make matters worse the song craft was basic and bland, only saved by the bias towards covers, including the spice girls.

Hayseed Dixies arrival was greeted with rapturous adoration as their rock acolytes readied their vocal chords for a workout. It proved such that their set was a fantastic highlights reel of banjo based classic rockgrass hits. Clearly stage confident, their comedy banter was on point all night with beer fuelled quips and set pieces which showed their experience of soundtracking a great party night.

I’ll be honest band go so far to say the Banjo is clearly an underrated instrument. Associated with roots and country acts, when played at almost 100sps (strums per second) it gave each song a unique groove, which inherently made your body bob and sway.

Fast and furious was also the ‘lead’ guitarist Hippy Joe Hymas’ motto as he exhilarated the crowd with his showboating virtuoso antic on his…….MANDOLIN! It was truly fantastic to watch as this little crazy demon of whirling hair and sweat attacked this tiny instrument with flare and fury.

The set list was rammed with covers all withtheir unique spin, either slowed, sped or spiced it was different enough to be a Hayseed Dixie song, but familiar enough for everyone to sing along. Even the cheesy ballads raised a smile and many beer ‘glasses’. Even the odd original song sounded pretty good, ‘I’m keeping your poop’ being the best of the bunch.

Overall these guys know their audience, carry their instruments with pride and by gosh they can throw one hell of a rockin’ party,

Albums of 2014: 10 – 1

The countdown continues with the Top 10 Albums of 2014…

10)  Weezer  – Everything Will Be Alright In The End

After all this time Weezer are still a good as ever on their latest LP. Looking backwards to blue In a good way, focusing on those fabulous understated college pop melodies, cool for being uncool vibes and as ever their dash of special doo-waah hooks. Packed with witty and self mocking lyrics, it’s also quite a fun listen also. But with chorus’ like these, destined to be stuck in your head all day, It’s not surprise it’s been such a success!

9) Marmozets – Weird & Wonderful Marmozets

Like a true abstract collage of pop, math, metal and punk all on a broad canvas of youthful energy and disregard for the rules….this is perfect modern rock! Erratic swerves from all out aural assaults to complex technical riffs, scything synths, pop punk gang harmonies and spiteful screeches. Also shows huge songwriting potential on some impressive piano rock balladry too. Exciting new talent which like to push the boundaries.

8) The Smith Street Band – Throw Me In The River

Akin with Frank Turner or Hold Steady verbosity, The Smith Street Band’s latest is steeped in poignant, poetic and passionate lyrics. Lines you sit learn and scream out at live shows like nothing else exists. A spectacle of raw honest, open hearted tales both world-weary and awestruck that captivates from the first line to the last chord. All the while the ever melodic alt rock back-flips from dour picked strings to all out thrash outs via exuberant melodies almost as impressive as the vocals. Truly Captivating!

7) Grand Magus – Triumph & Power

Triumph & Power is as collosal as rock gets. Evoking images of Vikings plundering the frozen wastelands of Scandinavia, knights riding to death or glory and scenes of epic battles past. Galloping riffs, giant melodies and a knack for catchy chorus’ only serve to elevate this above 2014’s kings of hard rock.

6) I Am The Avalanche – Wolverines

Wolverines is a rampaging pop-punk record with gnarling flashes of hardcore punk coursing through its veins. Encapsulating this vibe are the stand-out vocals which soar and snarl in equal measure, howled with real intensity and vigour throughout. Emphasis here is on all out punk attach with a clean polished punk rock sound with all the pop boxes ticked for good measure. Huge sing-a-long chorus’s, Check. Simple but effective power chords, Check. Enigmatic vocals, check. Gang Wow-ohhs, check. A packed LP of fist aloft anthems, waiting for widespread appeal!

5) Cloud Nothings – Here & Nowhere Else

Clocking in at a blistering 31 mins 24 secs the raggedly lo-fi garage punk of Cloud Nothings barely stops for breath. Exhausting energy bounds throughout charting the demise of a relationship is one of the most openly honest lyrical outings this year. Despite this, it has to go down as one of the most high octane breakup records ever penned. Lightning punk strikes, exhilarating drumming and machine gun lyrics fuel what’s a true out of control joyride of indie rock prowess. Uncontrollable but unstoppable!

4) Destrage – Are you Kidding Me

 

Destrage mix a unique concoction of Diamond tipped metalcore, off kilter math riffing, punkish tempo’s and accelerating and twisting melodic phrasing brings the most eclectic explosions of 2014 (occasionally all within the same song). Dance and dub heavy electronic surges and erratic tempo changes makes this album totally unpredictable, shifting from politically charged acid tongued vitriol to big chorus’d melodic chaos punk. Can be pretty heavy in places but the screams and the cleans are both do well balancing anger and enigmatic qualities. Whilst varied, the album is (somehow) cohesive and the fun/crazed lyrics (“We shoot zombie’s in the face” anyone?) match the unrestrained vibe of a band at a creative peak.

3) Black Pistol Fire – Hush Or Howl

Two men, One Guitar, One Drum kit. the simplicity and effectiveness of execution which elevates this retro garage blues ablum above the pack this yeat. Doing Blues soaked rock better than anyone else like a former White Stripes or once a Black Keys these guys have enough vintage vibes crossed with an abundance of corking riff heavy tunes to make his a rip roaring bonafide modern blues classic.

2) Märvel – Hadal Zone Express

Above all else Marvel’s latest has brought the most whimsy and fun to 2014’s rock roster, harking back to the glory days of the 70’s hard rock of Thin Lizzy and the garage rock revivalists of the early 00’s. A pure pop rock album infused with rock and roll blood pumped along at a fair gallop. Focused upon creating inventive but addictive riffs and a constant stream of singalong songs means Hadal Zone Express both excels in rocking hard and captivating the popular ear. Beware the Danish Rush as these (gimp-esque) masked Scandinavian retro rockers are coming for you too!

1) Johnny Foreigner – You Can Do Better

Whilst not breaking their scatterbrain indie rock mould, JF have produced their most consistent and enigmatic album of their career to date, Mixing the melodic musings of Wifi Beach with the ramshackle riff-meisters of Shipping, there is so much to fall head over heels for. Never a dull moment as each song ducks and dives in its unique JF way where noisy clattering guitars somehow combine to form addictive melodies. The JF boy/girl duelling vocals again are both sweet, smooth and edgy highlighting the irreverent but addictive lyrics. A heady and pulsating adventure in indie-rock which has climbed to the top of the 2014 DiR.net mountain.

That’s all folks…2015 here we come!

Albums of 2014: 25-11

I’ll be honest, I checked out a far more music this year than usual in search of the album which would to the top of this countdown. But there was a distinct lack of big hitting rock monsters from an established artists, with disappointing releases from Black Stone Cherry, Foo Fighters, The Gaslight Anthem, F**cked Up ,Death From Above 1979 but to name a few, has typified my year. However that has given the Album of 2014 list a more diverse feel to it which is never a bad thing. The albums which have made the grade have done so with high praise from DoesItRock HQ.

Without further ado I present this 2014’s DoesItRock.net Album of the Year countdown. (As usual free from critical sneering and driven purely by honest love of guitars, drums and voices.)

 EP/Mini-Album) Hey Vanity – Blindfolds

Chelmsford based Post-Hardcore rockers released their first mini album after last years promising EP. Standing out from the crowd, they mix challenging riffs and razor edged guitars with stunningly catchy pop hooks.

 25) Toseland – Renegade

Former Superbike World Champion James Toseland turns his hand to rock by fronting his own hard rock band. Turns out he’s got a damn good rock voice. Backing this up with some tasty riffs and pop slanted melodies this album was an unexpected treat. Not exactly original and lyrics are standard fare, but they do rock pretty hard!

24) The Datsuns – Deep Sleep

The Datsuns whilst still lighting the classic rock canon have changed the fuse and gone Sabbath. Still packed with fuzz packed, riff heavy garage rock and roll but this album is darker in mood and tone. Such marked progression from a retro rock band is rare, hence it’s being celebrated here.

23) Orange Goblin – Back From The Abyss

Thirsty for riffs? These lumbering Stoner Rock mammoths deliver a earth shattering set of monster amp maxing anthems packed with pure guitar power. Uncompromising whilst retaining the accessible vibe of uplifting rock anthems. Worth thumping the head for!

22) Blues Pills – Blues Pills

Of all the current new wave of old retro rockers Blue Pills are by far the most dynamic and unique. Taking raw production values and a youthful vigour for blues they meld boisterous energy and drifting psychadelia to mind spiralling effects. At their best when flicking between loud/soft and slow/fast all whilst blasting our rawkus guitar licks and seductive vocals.

21) Slash – World On Fire

The legendary behatted Gibson Les Paul slinger returns with the greatest rock vocalist of a generation Myles Kennedy for another adrenaline fueled romp through the classic/hard rock songbook. Loads of quality riffs and guitars driving huge chorus’ as you would expect from 2 men on top of their games. But there’s too much slash being slash genericism for this to place higher, plus its waaay to long as well.

20) The Brew – Control

A concept album from this hard working British blues band tips the right scales on their latest album. Pop laced rock numbers with supremely catchy melodies and guitar hooks aplenty. Honest, addictive with true swagger and style. Amazingly its also recorded LIVE!!! Control throws of the shackles of overproduced rock and blasts out raw powerful rock and roll!

19) The Treatment – Running With The Dogs

Hard Rocker’s The Treatment’s latest album is packed to the rafters with pop friendly chorus’ and killer guitar hooks. Snarling vocals, thunderous riffs, and  bold steamroller energy reinforces their status as once of the best new classic/hard rock bands in the UK. Running With The Dogs is more radio friendly than their debut, but this doesn’t hinder this a stellar set of headline grabbing tunes which have grown into some of my favourites this year.

18) Audrey Horne – Pure Heavy

Exactly what it says on the cover, Pure Heavy! For their latest album these Norwegian rockers went all traditional metal with some startlingly good results. Songs are driven by diamond tipped melodies and huge booming chorus’s. Huge array of upbeat, uptempo and romper stomping anthems sure to set pulses racing!

17) Joe Bonamassa – Different Shades Of Blue

The premier blues man of the 21st century delivers yet another brilliant addition to his growing back catalogue. This is a more traditional LP, laced with soul, heartbreak and plenty of rhythm n’ blues to match. Guitar workouts are less prominent, allowing the fully backed songs to shine for themselves. One thing is for certain, the blues will never fade away while Joes’s in town!

16) Royal Blood – Royal Blood

Hype machine finally tunes into rock.fm! This Brighton duo produce some of the dirtiest bluesy riffed hard rock under the guise of cool scenesters, following in the trail og bluesy rockers previous Black Keys & White Stripes. The real winner on this album is the Production. Royal Blood pump out a magnificent racket which emanates stunning super-power from every conceivable angle. Whilst not the most inventive or best big scuzzed up rock around, it certainly the most stylishly polished.

15) Antemasque – Antemasque

Latest incarnation of alt rock legends Omar Rodríguez-López and Cedric Bixler-Zavala, sees them strip away all the unnecessary indulgences and focuses on high tempo, high impact punk infused rock. Antemasque married tight indie-rock songs with enigmatic vocal hooks, off-kilter clanging guitars and a knack for a nifty melody or two. A total change in direction from Mars Volta’s excesses, but elements creep back to keep us on our toes to ensure this is anything but a dull listen.

14) The Hold Steady – Teeth Dreams

 

Everyone’s favourite bar band is back to doing what they do best, weaving shaggy dog stories in and out of their melody-centric rock songs. Songwriting are every bit as good as ever, leaving you tied to the lyric book for the next quotable line. Bringing the focus back onto the harmonies and chorus’ has paid dividends as this is a return to their early career highlights.

13) Mean Creek – Local Losers

 

Indie rockers Mean Creek know how to write classic pop ditties and clearly also know how to throw caution to the wind. Its the intersection of the frenzied indie rock attack, punked up guitars, pop melodies and sugary sweet girl/boy vocal harmonies ensure a headline grabbing sound. Local Losers is a real rapid fire album of short sharp addictive tunes which breeze past leaving you humming them all day.

12) Manchester Orchestra – Cope

Manchester Orchestra’s twee indieness has been well and truely shattered with this “their big rock album” which succeeds with self-confident swagger at odds to their more normal introspective/subdued standards. The template is clearly let’s make Pinkerton 2.0, it almost a succeeds too! A combo of hulking indie rock noise, wailing guitars and tight insistent melodies is truly fantastic. I’m a fan of their new rawkus direction, but it won’t stay long seeing as the companion acoustic version LP Hope” is already out.

11) Against Me – Transgender Dysphoria Blues

The punk bands first outing after the outing of lead singer Laura Jane Grace (Tom Gabel) is a very important record. Bringing LGBT issues to the fore in an open, honest and raw way with Laura’s rough vocals opening a window into her former/new life. The fact that it’s wrapped in Against Me!’s usual pop heavy vocal harmonies and driven by some damn catchy upbeat rock numbers keeps you coming back for more. Transgender Dysphoria Blues is about as punk a record could be in 2014!

Stay tuned for the top 10 (sometime soon…..)!

 

Albums of 2012: 10 – 1

It’s time to complete the countdown of DoesItRock.nets favourite albums of 2012…

10) The Darkness – Hot Cakes

There was much excitement here at DiR.net when news broke that the brothers Hawkins ‘were gettin’ the band back together’. Live they’re still a hoot, enigmatic and brilliant as ever…but I didn’t expect how good their return LP would be. Yes its cheesy, yes it’s full of glittery glammed guitars but who cares, its The Darkness! Their tongue is still firmly in cheek, but thankfully far from the overly druggy themes of album #2. Hot Cakes is smothered in big fun romps of incredibly catchy guitar fueled genius.

9) Corrosion Of Conformity – Corrosion Of Conformity

This album has been the revelation of the year. Blending both metals deep and sludgy riffs with the angry attack and unrelenting energy of no hold barred punk, CoC have a label unto themselves. Masters of their own genre, this album riffs like a lumbering dinosaur on rocket skates shifting erratically from stoner grooves to thrashed palm muted chugs. The slow/fast dynamic has never been so apparent, or so finely executed within the abundance of cracking heavy rock tunes.

8) Foxy Shazam – The Church Of Rock And Roll

Another DiR.net favourite, the boundless oddity and eccentric songwriting of Foxy Shazam was restrained somewhat on this years gospel themed offering. By anyone else’s standards though, they are still totally bonkers. Assisted by Justin Hawkins on production duties the Darkness man influences the more driving rock tunes here, producing the finest uplifting pop-rockers of the year. Their pop aspect is hugely enjoyable and with a emotional dose of beautiful balladry, this album has much to recommend and explore.

7) Torche – Harmonicraft

It’s been a while in coming, but critics have finally caught up with the point that big rock can be beautiful too! These stoner rockers with progressive ambitions have created both huge and expansive head throbbing titans that have a catchy edge. Strong trippy vocals and lumbering guitars demand your attention, but it’s as they add the pop spice into their concoction, their potent drug of rock pleasure is complete.

6) Orange Goblin – A Eulogy For The Damned

Relentless onslaughts of wave after wave of earthshaking power chords dominate the hard rocking album of the year. These veteran Stoners have crafted a album packed with gigantic melodies, infectious de-tuned riffs which you just want to blast out at 11 obliterating all in their wake. In among the plodding systematic bass lines lie a raft of vengeful vocals and a burning urgency for chaos. Monolithic Stoner rock has had a good year in my books.

5) The Gaslight Anthem – Handwritten

Another album of the highest order has only served to push Gaslight towards becoming the most essential band on the planet. Still burning with passion and pride, Fallon’s lyrics are as beautiful and tale telling as ever bouyed by the driving  yet understated retro guitars. They have carved a good balance here between slow emotive balladry and uplifting road songs with one foot in springsteens shoes to raise the spirits and fists skywards. A great album which both satisfies both old and newcomers alike.

4) Tallest Man On Earth – There’s No Leaving Now

The odd out out in this years top ten comes courtesy of the fantastic folk icon, The Tallest Man On Earth. On this LP he channels a fragility which is both heartbreaking and heartwarming in equal measure. His simple guitar melodies, however low key, are incredibly hard to shake and are iresistably matched to this lo-fidelity record of lyrical and emotive beauty. However nasally, dylan’y and seemingly un-romantic his voice resonates, the delicacy of the fraught verses is in itself an un-expected triumph. An honest and true album of stunning proportions.

3) Halestorm – The Strange Case Of…

In 2013 there was only one lady of Rock and Roll, her name is Lzzy Hale. This powerhouse vocalist and guitar slinger is responsible for some of the most catchy pop rock of the year, some of the biggest rock anthems and definitely some serious girl power attitude. Melodies galore and more sing-a-longs than a cockney pub piano this is a joyous album of high octane guitars and driving attack wrapped in a pop package that’s hard to resist.

2) Japandroids – Celebration Rock

Anthemic indie rockers Japandroids have struck gold with their combo of raw rock power, polished production and ear for a massive chorus. Producing one of the best indie albums for years, these songs set sights for the sky with sweeping reverbed guitars and lo-fi vocals blasted with euphoric bliss. From the first pulsating soaring anthem to the last Celebration Rock is pure quality, all killer, no filler. An A* lesson in indie rock which captures both heart hearts of the pop fans, the passion of the rock acolytes and the minds of the indie crews.

1) Accept – Stalingrad

Heavy Metal!!! Yeah right on, Accept have recreated the glorious 80’s scene with this their second comeback LP without founding vocalist Udo. He is not missed one bit as the guitars let rip with riff after head spinning riff, thundering hooves of melody across this monumental record of unadulterated rock and roll attack. Powerful high pitch vocals and lightning guitars are let fly at every angle taking of string old school grip on your metal head. Epic and colossal, Accept have bridged this hard rocker into trad metal and so rightfully sits proudly on the iron throne of 2012.

Roll on 2013!

Honourable Mentions: Sharks  – No Gods, The Menzingers – On The Impossible Past, Screaming Females – Ugly, Blood Command – Funeral Beach, Coheed & Cambria – The Aftermath: Ascension, Baroness – Yellow & Green


Click here for the top 25 as a Spotify Paylist

>> DoesItRock Albums of 2012 <<


Albums of 2012: 25-11

It has to be said that 2012 was an awe inspiring year for the UK. What with the Queen’s Jubilee and the Olympic Games, national pride and enthusiasm has never been higher (hell… I witnessed a Mexican wave down 2 tube carriages! Unspeakable behaviour !). So it was only fitting that the year also brought with it one of the strongest contests in years to, the bout to be crowned DoesItRock.net’s Album of the Year. A prize to be scoffed at by critics and one loved by fans of honest rock and rollers everywhere.

Let the (slightly delayed) countdown commence!

25) Katatonia- Dead End Kings

Dark and menacing, Dead End Kings is a brooding melodic metal record of the princes of doom. This is a starkly barren soundtrack to a cataclysmic end of the world event, where great waves of guitar noise sweep across the landscape backed by fittingly clean and soulful vocals. It is a superb master class in atmospheric melodies, yet somehow they retain an unexpected accessibility to those less ‘metal’. Often brutal, mostly beautiful.

24) Cancer Bats – Dead Set On Living

Abrasive ranting vocals spit lashings of gravel baked growls, drums thrashes, bass thumps and dirt bag guitars soaring anthems from the underbelly of the rock monster. A gargantuan effort which veers further into hard rock territory than they have before, bringing with it the punk beast who’s still a kickin’ and screamin’.

23) Hot Water Music – Exister

Chuck Ragan has won me over with his solo material, so it was about time he pushed his raggedy vocaled chords back into the punk rock arena. An album packed with standout tunes which are seriously catchy, showing there’s plenty of life in the old dog yet.

22) …And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead – Lost Songs

Reigning in the progressive angles, Lost Songs has struck out on the pure rock sound of AYWKUBTTOD’s earlier releases. Full on face planting into their walls of noise is not uncommon throughout this cathartic and unpredictable release of pent up energy. Oddly unrestrained from the loose binds of prog they have taken up the battle axes and brought us their most edgy and surprising release for years.

21)  Joe Bonamassa – Driving Towards The Daylight

Joe Bonamassa is the new King of the Blues, his latest album showcases everything which makes the man every bit the undisputed bluesman of his generation. Melodies flow effortlessly from his fretboard, vocals of deep heart and emotive soul, slow burning grooves and funky upbeat shuffles all with a country twist thrown in for good measure. Oh did I mention he can play demon guitar. If ever there was another who went down to the crossroads… JB is that man!

20) Jack White – Blunderbuss

Whatever this man touches turns to gold (ignoring The Dead Weather for augments sake) and his first official solo release is no different. A bluesy, country inflected track list of swaggering tunes which swing from pop groove to rawkus retro rock whilst retaining an enigma only Jack White can conjure. His personality flows free lyrically and stays musically true to his vintage sounding ethos. Dramatic and unmissable.

19) Train – Highway 37

A pop rock record, my! my! Yet somehow with every spin a ray of California sunshine brightens the air and fills your life briefly with the kind of roller-skates by the beach, driving down the pacific coast highway kind of carefree optimism, rarely managed by a record (not by the Beach Boys). For this alone they hit the countdown in 2013. A number of pop classics line the track list which only bolsters it’s credentials further.

18) Tenacious D – Rise Of The Fenix

What a fantastic return to form Rise of The Fenix proved for the hard rocking acoustic-men. Crammed full of tongue in cheek lyrics, big riffing and comedic moments. But a chuckle only gets you so far, these tunes are bigger and better, returning to former glories, instantly banishing any ‘Pick of Destiny’ demons with the euphoric opening title track. This rollicking romp of a record is fun and kick-ass, just as we’d all hoped for.

17) The Smith Street Band – Sunshine & Technology

This band’s sound is almost perfectly aligned for me. If Frank Turner hooked up with the Gaslight Anthem and moved to Australia you’d have something very special, in the meantime though The Smith Street Band are a pretty close approximation. Rasping ranting vocals with potent lyrics documenting life the universe and everything from an everyman’s perspective. The lo-fi punk melodies back the spoken verse perfectly, being understated but never forgotten. yet it’s the passionate delivery and chorus’s which shouldn’t work, but do, what make this record stand out from the crowd.

16) Danko Jones – Rock And Roll Is Black And Blue

One of the most underrated Hard Rock bands on the planet. These Canadian ambassadors of no-nonsense guitar, bass, drum, voices with driving punk attitude and succinct songwriting have again produced the goods. Plenty of rousing anthems for long drives, sing-a-long choruses for the shower and fiery riffs for those air guitar moments when no-ones watching. This album is a whole lotta fun, which by not taking its ‘we’re rock’ credentials too seriously, only boost it further. We all know Danko lives and breathes rock and roll anyway.

15) Dinosaur Jr. – I Bet On Sky

For the third album in a row since their reformation, Dino Jr. produce a brilliant collection of rough around the edges, fuzzed up indie rock numbers. Plenty of pop melodies maintain focus on the slacked vocals and songwriting rather than the master guitar work of J. Mascis, which as ever is totally mesmerizing!

14) Fighting With Wire – Colonel Blood

FWW aren’t messing about upon their long overdue return. Colonel Blood is packed with big mainstreamed rock numbers brimming with infectious sing-a-long choruses and nifty guitar licks, its hard not to let them embed in your head. Song for song, these guys would give the Foo’s a good run for their money… straight laced fist pumping rock and roll for the masses.

 

13) Pulled Apart By Horses – Tough Love

DiR.net favourites are back and still have plenty of energy to burn. PABH clearly do not like to be tamed in the studio, hence this record sounds like the band going bat-shit, crashing every ounce of blazing rawkus energy into each guitar freak-out or throaty howl. Short sharp songs with minimal lyrics aping both punk’s abandon and heavy metal’s epic riffing. Not to be missed live!

12) Killing Joke – MMXII

For all their back catalogue, this release is the first Killing Joke album to set these ears a wagging. Deep booming bass lines, and sedate atmospheric guitars dominate the bleak industrial backed wasteland vision of MMXII. Only the walls which suddenly blast into euphoric waves of noise provides any sense of escapism. Its this thunderous meld of electro-keys, menacing guitars and robotic drone vocals which transports to another world, one dominated by the impending of total annihilation. Dark, emphatic and unmissable.

11) Million Dollar Reload – A Sinner’s Saint

Exuberance, energy and enthusiasm…everything a fresh hard rock band should be striving for can be found on A Sinner’s Saint. This Northern Irish Sleaze/Punk influenced bunch have the attitude for chaos, the canny knack for pop melodies, the ability to pull off a decent ballad and pen some epic driving rock anthems. A solid sophomore which has really grabbed my attention by the scruff of the neck and doesn’t look like relenting anytime soon.

Stay tuned for the top 10!

Halestorm @ O2 Academy, Newcastle

26 September 2012

Now the last time I caught tonight’s head liner  we were in the cool north London arty haven of Camden town within the beautiful surrounds of the uber-sleek Roundhouse venue. 279 miles away in the distant north east lands of Tyneside, is where I find myself tonight surrounded with pint laden Geordie lads and gals equally baying for a rock and roll riot. They didn’t have to wait very long as a band I’d thought were long extinct, resurrected to provide the first action of the night in the O2 Academy. Not a bad sized venue but the floor standing space is all flat and goes back a long way, so really it’s a struggle to get a decent viewpoint if you don’t want your ears blasted into next Tuesday.

The Zico Chain

The Zico Chain, I remembered (back in 2006) as big alt riffing rockers who had a fair old way to go on improving their live set. The years have been kind and their latest LP has seemingly transformed them into another pretender to the LostProphets crown (initial sound issues aside). Plenty of oh oh’s, aahh’s and melodic guitar solo’s resonated well with the crowd without really doing much out of the ordinary. A well-received set of post-hardcore regardless.

Heaven’s Basement

When working away from home you have to take all you can get. Which means when Heaven’s Basement came to town, there was no way I was missing out. Tonight they we’re on their first tour since settling into life on a record label, with a debut single and video newly released, HB were riding a huge wave of momentum.

It also showed in their performance, especially from front man Aaron who has grown in stature from the meek man first seen many moons ago. Tonight his vocals were strong, his crowd pumping notched up, his energy boundless and his style looking more and more like a younger (and less tattooed) Justin Hawkins. He was clearly more at ease with their new material as well he should, with new anthemic single “Fire, Fire” complete with stunning Knockout Riff and border line metal adrenaline ride “I Am Electric”.

Aaron & Sid

The old favourites were as great as ever, yet the crowd were not as enthused as earlier in the night. Possibly the heavier Marshall guitars and less easy to sing harmonies were their falter here, but this does not distract from by far their most profession display I’ve witnessed with everyone from thundering drums, thumping bass, smokin’ lead guitars and soaring vocals pulling together for one fine performance.

 

Halestorm

Halestorm has well and truly packed out the venue with heads stretching back far out of sight, a mixed audience of ageing rockers and youthful ladies were here to ogle/idolise front woman Lzzy Hale in equal measure. She single-handedly drove all that’s good about Halestorm tonight, from her stunning power vocals displayed to best effect on the sultry ballad “Break In” (not to mention her adept piano abilities) to all out guitar attack on big rock numbers such as “Mz. Hyde” and her rock goddess strutting which is enough to get any red blooded male hot under the collar.

 

Lzzy Hale

The set was really well structured tonight, sampling the best of their LP’s with new material from “The Strange Case of…” being altogether heavier and amped up than its predecessor. Numbers such as the rip-roaring girl power anthem “Love Bites [So Do I]” outcast flag bearer “Freak Like Me” set the standard for their big numbers. Although, one trick pony’s they are not, as Halestorm have the luxury of being able to fall back on non-clichéd ballads because Lzzys beautiful voice, the set closer “Here’s to Us” showcasing a feel good rousing singalong tune without having to put the word love into every verse.

Although hard to believe Lzzy was upstaged tonight by the other Hale on stick duty, drummer and brother AreJay. His extended drum solo during the bands customary encore pause morphed through various phases, but upping the ante each time. From regular skin crashing; baton twirling style; stickless palm beating nothing trod on new ground. That was before he pulled out a huge set of oversized drumsticks 3 foot long and continued to make one hell of a racket much to the comic relief of the crowd.

Big Sticks!!

All round this was a superb all round performance, showcasing big rock anthems alongside pop ethics, with just a little hint of a rebellious streak. Corking!

Motion City Soundtrack @ Heaven

17 September 2012

After the mammoth 4 albums 2 nights series, Motion City Soundtrack promptly returned to London to showcase their latest LP Go. Now picking decent supporting tour bands has never been MCS’s greatest asset. With tonight’s lower bill bands names such as Me and Now, Now, I wasn’t hopeful of a shift in fortunes.

Me

Yet Me started rather brightly, with their expansive sound which was as equally bombastic as it was eclectic. Slow building melodies rising to epic distorted crescendo’s backed throughout by a soft and smooth vocal which has an definite operatic streak. An impressive set from this aussie band which has definitely perked much interest. One to keep tabs on for sure!

Now, Now

With the sucess of band 1 expectations were high for the second of the night. As it transpires, we needn’t have got excited as Now, Now were about as bland a band there possible could be. A female fronted band playing soft chorus verses with monotone vocals with lazy noise rock choruses. Melodies were missing presumed absent, as were actual singing. A dull and lifeless set. Business as usual was restored.

Motion City Soundtack

So soon after such a saturating in Motion City’s Soundtrack, It was a nice change to hit the shuffle button as they (not suprisingly) aired a huge variety of material picking out their best tunes.

Justin Pierre

Focus on their latest album was fleeting at best, playing only a handful including the lyrically biographical “Timelines“, rollicking album opener “Circuits & Wires“, mellowed out “Son of A Gun” and the uplifting pop single “True Romance“.

In distinct contrast to their album shows, lead singer Justin Pierre was much more talkative, rambling incessently between tunes providing cominc relief at every turn. Within the well rounded setlist the standouts were the punchy numbers of My Dinosaur Life; “Disappear“, “Worker Bee” and poppy offerings of Commit this to Memory; “L.G.FAUD”, “Everything is Alright” and the set closer, the melancolic “Hold Me Down“. The latter bringing the night to beautiful and sombre close, nicely fitting the monday night scheduling.

MCS prove yet again they are one of the forefront pop/punk bands on the planet!