Saint Apache – Wolf Machine EP

Saint Apache used to feel like the result of what happens when Deep Purple meets Thin Lizzy who then get smashed together and end up shagging Johnny Rotten, who just happened to be on his way back from a Royal Blood gig!

We’ve been listening to their upcoming EP “Wolf Machine”, which recently tumbled into our inbox and is out on July 21st.

Now, this is still a band in its infancy. Yes, it’s raw and it’s visceral but, unlike their last EP, where the songs came from the ‘Call & response’ style of interplay between singer (Thom) and band (Leo – Guitar; Luis -Bass, and Adam – Drums), with Wolf Machine I feel they have developed and matured a bit.

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They sound fuller and louder, and the pace of these four songs doesn’t let up. They’re still working to formula, however and I’d like to hear something more vocally & lyrically ambitious to match the bite of the band.

They’re upping their game and this is a definite step in the right direction. I feel they’ll be around for a while.

Track listing:

  • You’re Not A Slave
  • The Story Doesn’t End Here
  • Half Way Dead
  • Wolf Machine

For more information on the band and their new EP release, visit their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/SaintApache/

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Mr Happy Chainsaw – It’s Not My Ball EP

One of the many emails to drop into the Sound Impression mailbox recently was a note from Essex-based punky popsters Mr Happy Chainsaw. Their latest EP, It’s Not My Ball, is being released soon, after strong airplay for their single release, Standing There.

Now for me, there’s a few things that stand out in the band’s favour. There’s a level of production that helps show this hasn’t been thrown together in a mate’s garage. The lyrics cut through the instruments, and the whole thing is balanced, tight, and technically accomplished. All of which is important, but let’s face it – it’s a bit dull for a music review. Which is why I got it out of the way early. You don’t want to know whether the tracks are professionally produced, you want to know what’s gonna slap your ears and make you smile.

Let’s start by sharing how Mr Happy Chainsaw describe themselves. Imagine if you will, a cocktail bar. If you asked for a Mr Happy Chainsaw (they tell me) you’d get “a pinch of Blink 182, Green Day and Alkaline Trio, to which we add a splash of Foo Fighters, a hint of Barry Manilow and Elton John and it all gets topped off with a generous serving of tongue in cheek fun and a dollop of Essex”.

There’s a big expectation after that kind of statement. You’ll either be looking for the flavours of all those great acts, or you’ll be hoping for something uniquely distinctive. The truth? It’s actually somewhere in between, somewhere that mixes all of these to make something a bit different. Although I probably wouldn’t recognise ‘a dollop of Essex’ if it was served on a spoon with a cherry…

Tracks like Standing There and Your Best Friend have a Foo Fighters / Blink 182 vibe, with a solid, driving freshness that propels you along. There are catchy riffs and vocal hooks, all of which make their music something you can listen to over again.

There’s also clearly a more considered, thoughtful side to the guys. When listening to their tracks (especially Leaving Town) there’s a definite story running through the songs. I hope it’s not all from personal experience, because if it is, well… hard luck, dudes. There’s … an intelligence behind the music – trust me, I don’t always get that impression – and that appeals to me in a way that much of today’s one-dimensional blandness simply can’t.

Overall?  A Sound Impression approves, and suggests you go to http://www.mrhappychainsaw.com and see for yourself.

Track listing:

  • Standing There
  • Out of Time
  • Charlie
  • Leaving Town
  • Your Best Friend

The Small Fakers – Jagz, May 5th 2017

Picture the scene. The venue is intimate, the ale is flowing, the place is packed, and onto the stage walk four blokes with distinctly retro clothing and hairstyles.

Your mission – should you accept it – is to either dance or get the hell out of Dodge. So what do you do?

If the four blokes are Matt, Neil, Dean and Dan, and the band is The Small Fakers, then the choice is easy. Shut up and dance…

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As the UK’s one and only tribute to The Small Faces, the Fakers have built a huge following on the Mod scene and beyond since forming in 2007. Their stage presence is mighty, their attention to detail awesome, and every familiar song is quality.

I’ve known some of the guys for years from previous bands and other music events, and can vouch for their love of music, their drive, and their delight in getting so very close to the brilliance of probably the best british band of the late sixties. Yep – I said it. I know they were up against some other four-piece from Liverpool, but at a time when Beatlemania owed more to the Mararishi than to Merseyside, Steve Marriott and the boys delivered a mix of mod, soul, and psychedelia that stood them apart.

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Of course, all the favourites are there.  Sha-La La-La-Lee.  All Or Nothing.  Whatcha Gonna Do About It.  Lazy Sunday.  And obviously, Tin Soldier.

Amazingly, I’ve only seen the boys twice – earlier this year in London, and then again at Jagz, a cool little venue tailor-made for the boys and their sound. They put on an incredible show, and their audiences are mental – in the best possible way.

For those of us too young to have seen the Small Faces at their height, this is a trip into the kind of memories we all wish we had.

Make a point of catching them when they are near you. You’ll not regret it. For gig dates and more details, pop on over to http://www.smallfakers.co.uk/

Blondie : Parallel Lines

The first of an ongoing classic album series, we’re taking you back to the heady days of 1978….

It hardly seems possible that Parallel Lines was released nigh on 40 years ago.  Just one look at the album cover, and a skim through the track listing, makes the tunes spring into your mind, as fresh as yesterday.

Fronted by the beautiful Debbie Harry and delivering a wholly eclectic mix of styles (pop, punk, disco, reggae, rap), Blondie’s music became instantly recognisable, and Parallel Lines, their third studio album, helped them break into the elusive but lucrative US market.

Rather than wax lyrically that much, let’s skip to the track listing (* denotes a singles release) :

  1. Hanging On The Telephone *
  2. One Way or Another *
  3. Picture This *
  4. Fade Away and Radiate
  5. Pretty Baby
  6. I Know But I Don’t Know
  7. 11:59
  8. Will Anything Happen?
  9. Sunday Girl *
  10. Heart of Glass *
  11. I’m Gonna Love You Too *
  12. Just Go Away

Of the singles, only I’m Gonna Love You Too failed to make an impression, but then a Blondie cover of a Buddy Holly original is maybe pushing eclectic just too far.

The others? You may well be singing them now.

The US markets lapped them up, making Heart Of Glass the band’s first US number 1, an achievement that they repeated a further three times over the next three years. Add to that six UK number 1 hits and success across Europe, Australia and New Zealand. Blondie had made it. The album, produced by Mike Chapman, harnessed the raw emotion of their first two albums (Blondie and Plastic Letters) and helped them bridge the gap between new-wave edginess and financially viable pop stardom.

The rest (as they say) is history…

Future Theory: Fool’s Dream EP

Back after a too-long hiatus, I’ve been listening to the Fool’s Dream EP from Lincoln-based alt-rockers Future Theory, a band who have attracted attention from Q Magazine and BBC Introducing.

The EP has five tracks, and I think it’s fair to say that the band have made a conscious effort to showcase as wide a range of styles as possible.

Let’s start with the title track. Fool’s Dream has an acoustic, heavily ambient feel, with their cited influences (reverb, delay, experiences, and each other) driving the melody so strongly, I’d fully expect someone to be credited as playing the pedals. There’s a depth of feeling and emotion here that really warrants me listening to this live in a smoky club rather than in my office, watching the traffic go by outside the window.

Listen Closely is completely different, laying Max’s lazy vocals over a far cleaner musical backline. It has a more psychedelic feel to it than Fool’s Dream, and Chris’ guitar riffs hold up a mirror to the vocals and contrasts nicely with the more jaunty main rhythms.

Eye Of The Storm drives more frenetically, with a more solid rock feel, whilst Horses takes us in a more intimate direction, drawing you into a steadier, more measured story where the message takes priority over the delivery. That might sound like a strange thing to say, but think about it: when you listen to a song, and you associate with the song and the lyrics, it’s so very different to when you remember a song more by its tune or signature riffs and less by what the lyrics actually said. Horses is delivered in a way that focuses the attention onto the words, and there’s nothing that distracts you, so well do the instruments and vocals mesh.

The EP is rounded off by Horses/Koncide, which kinda let the EP down a little for me. It’s almost the opposite of Horses, with an ambience and techno-beat that simply pushes the envelope too far. I get the feeling that this one was an experiment that felt good after a few beers, but personally I don’t see that it adds anything to the EP or the band’s signalled direction.

Overall? There’s a lot of good stuff here. My top two would probably be Horses and Listen Closely. I’ll revisit and listen to more, and if the boys ever venture south, I’d be interested in going along, because they leave the impression of a band that really delivers in a live setting. If I ever do come along though, don’t be surprised to see me head for the bar when the techno stuff begins….

Future Theory are: Rhythm guitar and vocals- Max Sander; Lead guitar- Chris Moore; Bass guitar- Jake Scarbro; Drums- Rohan Parrett

For more info on the band and to get in touch, their facebook page is http://www.facebook.com/FutureTheory/ 

Fools Dream EP is on Spotify at http://spoti.fi/2fgPzsY

The Magic Es – Melody Jane (single)

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Melody Jane is the latest single from The Magic Es, a four piece guitar rock band from Norwich.

The Magic Es have built up a strong following, and their music is starting to gain traction on radio stations worldwide. The guys tell me that reviews and feedback has been favourable.

So what does A Sound Impression think?

I listened to the track before reading any of the marketing guff that always accompanies singles releases. I tend to do that to see if my thoughts match what the bands claim as public opinion.

In this case…. yes, it does. There’s a definite sense of energy and thought behind the track, and one of the band’s main influences – The Undertones – comes through very strongly. I love early Undertones tracks, and as such, this was sending me all the right notes.

On the downside, I thought the chorus was a little weak, having no real singalong hook line. The melody drops into a minor key for the hook, which rarely works in an uptempo pop/rock song.

That having been said, there’s more than enough here to make me want to hear some more of their tracks, and the benefit of doubt clearly deserves to fall in their favour. Go take a listen and see what you think!

Line Up:

Pete Thompson (vocals/guitars)
Jasper Stainthorpe (bass)
Stuart Catchpole (drums/vocals)
Phil Woods (guitar)

http://www.facebook.com/wearemagicuk

Black Cat Bones – False Promises And Wasted Time EP

Black Cat Bones are a five piece band from Liverpool, looking to show that the UK, and specifically their home town, is still the place to look for new bands destined to set the world alight. I seem to recall another combo came from their neck of the woods a few years back…

I’m not saying that Black Cat Bones are in the same league as The Beatles, but they are at least in the same city, and they also deliver a solid sound true to their roots.

False Promises And Wasted Time is the band’s debut EP. You’ll find well-matched, driving guitars coupled with a tight, compact rhythm section where the bass and drums mesh seamlessly. You’ll find well defined lyrics pushed out with energy and intelligence.

Let me expand on that last point a little, because it might seem a little strange talking about hard rock bands and intelligence in the same sentence. Trust me – I’ve heard enough to know it’s a rare thing.

Too many rock bands this day rely simply on the singer’s ability to hit the back wall as hard as his tonsils will let him. Clever performers know that the important thing isn’t what leaves the speakers – it’s what hits the ears of the audience. And Jonnie’s vocals arrive in fine style.

Same with the guitars – it’s easy to turn the amps up to eleven and thrash away, but nobody wants to listen to two guitarists fighting to hear themselves above the din coming from the backline. The guitars on these tracks are well-defined and compliment each other, and again – it’s surprising how many local rock bands don’t understand this basic truth.

All in all, I like these guys. Favorite track is probably Silverline, whilst the more stop-start rhythm of Bittersweet made it hardest to get into.

Catch them at http://www.facebook.com/BlackCatBonesUK

INFO:

Black Cat Bones are: Jonnie Hodson – Lead Vocals; A. Rimmer – Lead / Rhythm Guitar; Adam Kerbache – Rhythm / Lead Guitar; Ash Janes – Drums; Jamie Hayward – Bass

Track listing:

  • Highway Man
  • One More Time
  • Bittersweet
  • Creepin
  • Silverline

Fractures : Different Perspective EP

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The new Different Perspective EP by Worcester-based metalcore act Fractures dropped into my inbox earlier this week.

I’ve listened to it.

Now, I’m open minded and old enough to know that somewhere, there’s a market for everyone. I really can’t explain Jedward, Renee and Renate, Joe Dolce or Keith Harris and Orville any other way. So I’m content in the knowledge that out there, there’s a willing audience for Fractures.

I’m not it. And here’s why…

As it evolved in the late sixties and seventies, Rock and Metal brought something new, something different, something decidedly sharp-edged. There was a very real sense of anarchy against the rather staid, rather polished music that had come before. Punk carried this on and once more offered an alternative that you just didn’t get anywhere else. The 2-Tone explosion mixed punk riffs with old Jamaican ska to bring a freshness and vitality to the music scene.

These days, far too many metal bands forget that individuality is still important if you want people to remember you, even seek you out. You’re never going to get their adulation, their time, or more specifically their money, if you deliver something formulaic.

Different Perspective really doesn’t threaten to break the mold on any level. There’s repetitive, generic double-kick rhythms a-plenty, but nothing particularly different. The guitars are turned up to eleven and pretty much thrown at you, so that you can’t really pick up much of the musicianship involved in the process. And the vocals are the standard vocoderized devil-growl that no doubt wets the pants of the target audience, but leaves the rest of us wondering what the hell they are saying.

I guess my problem – and I fully admit it may be my problem – is that I have listened to so much good music, I am far less tolerant of formulaic blandness, however loudly and violently it is delivered. For some, that’s what you want, and good luck to you. If that’s you, you can find more info on the guys at https://www.facebook.com/FracturesUK and I know the band will appreciate your support.

Sadly, I’ve heard better, far too often. Sorry guys, but you’re not for me.

Track listing:

  • No One
  • Crown Your Convictions
  • Ashes To Fall
  • Different Perspective
  • The Creator
  • Never Hope, Never Want
  • Waiting

Resonator – The Cold Stares (EP)

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I learned the other day that, on average, it takes a typical fan up to seven listens before he’ll buy a song on iTunes.  SEVEN LISTENS!!!  I guess I had suddenly become “atypical” after sampling Heart of Gold for about 30 seconds before pressing the BUY button thanks to roots rock standout The Cold Stares.  I’ve been a casual follower of the Cold Stares for years but hadn’t paid much attention until the Resonator EP hit on March 7th and then it all just clicked.

The Cold Stares is an ever-enduring two-man roots rock band hailing from Evansville, Indiana.  Resonator is soaked in thick kick-ass blues rock that melds the raw vibe of the 70’s band Mountain and rung out with hooks that remind me more of ZZ Top.  The Cold Stares is fronted by seasoned guitarist and vocalist Chris Tapp and the entirety of the rhythm section is drummer extraordinaire, Brian Mullins.

The track listing is short but sweet and kicks off with Fire in the Sand, then flows into Heart of Gold, never to be confused with Neil Young’s song named the same.  With a couple of songs in, on first listen, you can tell that this album bears the production markings of a real “pro”.  Mark Needham, who has Fleetwood Mac and Imagine Dragons records on his wall, invited the duo to come to Los Angeles and record the album – excellent choice, guys!  Cannonball and Monroe Doctrine hold true to the band’s goal of keeping it raw and real while wrapping up the EP with my favorite Jesus’ Brother James.  You won’t hear any ballads or varied instrumentation on this album – this is southbound rock and roll ’til the end brotha!

I had the honor of sharing the stage a few months back with Chris and Brian.  I was totally expecting a thinner version live, since all two-piece band works with the limitation of simplicity, but The Cold Stares’ wall of sound was full, warm and a thrill to witness.  Their show was great even though you could hardly see Brian behind his oversized kick drum!

Grab Resonator anywhere you can buy music and check out their self-produced documentary entitled Look Over Yonder Hill.

Vitals:

http://www.thecoldstares.com

https://itun.es/us/4Tz85

Wake Up Leo

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Citing influences such as Smashing Pumpkins, Radiohead, The Cure and New Order, Wake Up Leo is an up and coming project fronted by Leo Ulph, backed by a very tight indie/pop band from the South East of England.

Leo and the boys put out a very polished, professional sound, with hints of the New Romantics of the eighties mixing in with a definite pinch of nineties chart Britpop.

I was sent five tracks, including their latest release, Friends. Of these, my favourite was The Race We’re Running, a poppy number with an instantly memorable riff and a feel that reminded me of Ladyhawke’s self-titled first album.

Of the others, Higher is more anthemic, with a Verve / Coldplay style. Cellophane brings the Housemartins into the frame, whilst Friends brings a feel-good message and feel that wouldn’t have been out of place in the eponymous US sitcom that bears the same name. The final track, Nowhere To Go, is probably the most individual track I heard, more difficult to pin to any genre, and I suspect closer to their own style than the other songs.

So what do I think?

The guys in the band (Leo, Erim, Paul, Tom, and Russ) know their stuff. The tracks are well formed, polished, and laid down well. There’s a commercial edge to the material that comes over clearly and, given the right exposure, I can see Wake Up Leo going places.

One thing bothers me though.

There’s a sense in which the band, and the songs, are…. well, a little too commercial, a little too nice. Were I to throw a word of advice to them, I’d like to see a little more energy and edge in their music, because it’s a cut-throat business and unless you stand out, you run the risk of being categorised and then forgotten.

Overall – I like Wake Up Leo quite a lot. I can’t help thinking that I’d like them even more if they tried to upset me a little…

Check out Wake Up Leo at https://www.facebook.com/wakeupleo1