fredag 28. februar 2014

28022014 - Neneh Cherry "Blank Project"

The title says it all. I like this, but I am not really sure what to write. See, the concept is to give my first impression, and my first impression of "Blank Project" is that I need to listen a dozen times to this album before I can form a proper opinion. There's plenty going on between layers of... well not a lot, actually. It would be safe to call these songs minimalist, but even so you can tell that all the open spaces in the music contain secrets that will unfold after getting to know the album. Yes, it is spartan, understated and stripped down to the bare bones, but there's also a warmth seeping out from the folds of air, like blood pumping through invisible veins and creating the heartbeat of the music. Getting all artsy, am I? Sure, but why not? Art in music can be good if it's there for a reason other than for its own sake, and in this case it's as if music was made and art turned up as a result of the songs. This record exists in a world where "Maxinquaye" and "Balloon Mood" are still played as much as they deserve, and is neither outdated nor extremely current. Just timeless and universally relevant. Huh - looks like I found something to write after all...

torsdag 27. februar 2014

27022014 - Kari Rueslåtten "Time to Tell"

The time is sometimes just right for an album, and this is one of those occasions. I have always been a fan of Kari Rueslåtten's voice and songs, and now, more than seven years since her last release, I all of a sudden realize how much I have missed both. The title track of her previous record, the unfairly overlooked "Other People's Stories", is one of this century's most beautiful songs, but as a whole "Time to Tell" exceeds its predecessor in every way! I want to bury myself in these songs and stay there forever and I want to create new words, because my vocabulary, as highly as I sometimes might regard it, just doesn't cover the way these songs make me feel. In the past Kari has made magic with album tracks like "Make Me a Stone", "Trollferd" and "Paint My Wings", but 20 years into her career this might just be her most magical and complete album!

onsdag 26. februar 2014

26022014 - Robert Palmer "Clues"

So I was listening to the new album by a Norwegian DJ who looks to real be Mr. Flavor of the Year, and who has a version of "Johnny & Mary" with none other than Mr. Bryan Ferry on the vocals. That led me to wanting to hear the original, and thinking that I have not listened enough to Robert Palmer's albums. As in not at all. And yes, I  did indeed listen to a whole album before deciding to listen to another one for this thing. Anyway, this is an album with a lot of cool stuff going on, from the opener, "Looking for Clues", a tune that could have been lifted from one of Prince's first couple of albums to a bunch of pretty suave rockers and some slick disco synth. Fun fact - this was Palmer's only #1 album in Sweden!

tirsdag 25. februar 2014

25022014 - Beck "Morning Phase"

For the record - I like Beck, and there was a time when I used to regard him as a genius. "Odelay" is a giant upper, and remains a classic album for the shaking of the booty. "Sea Change" remains my favorite Beck album though. I loved the melancholy beauty of that record when it was released, and I love it now. After my first listen to "Morning Phase" it seems like he is going for the same ethereal sadness this time, but he's lacking the songs. I know a lot of Beckheads (is that a thing?) will defend this album to death, just as I am certain that a lot of reviewers and general know-it-alls will not admit that this is just plain boring. At one point I thought that I had to be on the last song, but I was just halfway through, and on several songs I got associations to Sting. Neither are good signs. This might be a grower, but I shall be quite content to let it grow somewhere else, far away from my speakers. To me this is just a pile of beautifully packaged nothing.

mandag 24. februar 2014

24022014 - Phone Joan "Turning Pages"

I already knew that Phone Joan are a brilliant band, and their 2010 debut, "The Early Sounds of Joan", is a superb piece of filthy and fuzzy psych rock with hints of heavily acid laden blues. For some reason I pretty much missed out on their second album, last year's "+47 91799466" (note to self: must check it out asap!), but here's their third effort and here I am too. And I am here to stay, because DAMN, this is good! The groove, the tunes, the production that somehow is equal parts primitive rawness and sophisticated sweetness... The performance! Carina Moen's vocals have an authority few other Norwegian singers can match, and find their way to the heart, the soul and the spine simultaneously, while Richard Haugen's guitars provide a droning mountain of sound that demands your attention! There are too many great tunes here to pick a favourite, but the title track, "Feathers", "Hear Me Out" and "Flintlock Court" are good examples of songs that showcase something both inspired and unique. A truly great rock album!

søndag 23. februar 2014

23022014 - Alien "Alien"

I have always been a bit of an AOR buff, but still some brilliant releases have passed me by. That includes this lovely album by Swedish band Alien, although I have enjoyed the lovely singles "Tears Don't Put Out the Fire" and "Only One Woman". The Swedes released a new version of their debut album in 1989, with two extra tracks added, sung by their new vocalist. The original record from 1988, which is the one I have listened to, is simply stunning, and Jim Jidhed's vocals are just as pompous and full of pathos as these songs require, and more or less all the songs here could have been singles! This album will get plenty more spins in the future!

lørdag 22. februar 2014

22022014 - Bulldog "Bulldog"

Hello random YouTube recommendations based on previous surfing - what have you got for me today? Bulldog, you say? OK, let's go! The opening track is a scorching version of "Rockin' Robin", and the rest of the album contains some really good rock'n'roll bordering on pub rock! The band's core members, drummer Dino Danelli and guitarist/vocalist Gene Cornish were previously in The Rascals, and Danelli went on to play in Little Steven's Disciples of Soul. This album is great fun, if not exactly ground breaking or completely mind-blowing, and a great way to spend half an hour on a Saturday night!

fredag 21. februar 2014

21022014 - Cactus "Cactus V"

It took them 34 years, but by 2006 Cactus had reformed and released this album, with the Cactus core of Carmine Appice, Tim Bogert and Jim McCarty being supplemented by singer Jimmy Kunes and harmonica player Randy Pratt. Most reunions like this are more fun than actually great, and most comeback albums after this many years are simply dismal, so let's start with the good news: "Cactus V" doesn't suck. That's not to say it in any way measures up to their heyday albums, but that was never expected either. There's a couple of real humdingers on this album, like "Muscle and Soul", "Cactus Music" and "Electric Blue", and then there's the absolutely redundant old white man's funk of "Your Brother's Keeper". The album as a whole is pretty average, something that could have been easily avoided had the band stuck to one simple rule from their own book. See, their four classic albums all had eight songs on them, but this one has fourteen! A classic case of "let's fill this CD", and a trap many a band have fallen into, which is a shame, because this could have been a damn good 8-song album. Oh well, four absolutely great albums and one decent out of five in total is still a better average than most other bands ever achieve...

torsdag 20. februar 2014

20022014 - Cactus "'Ot 'N' Sweaty"

More Cactus anyone? Don't mind if I do! On this album original members Rusty Day and Jim McCarty are out, and have been replaced by vocalist Peter French and guitarist Werner Fritzschings. In addition keyboardist Duane Hitchings has joined the ranks. Although French is really good, and his blistering voice really gets the job done, I kind of miss the soulful warmth Day provided. The first three tracks are recorded live in Puerto Rico, and include versions of songs from their studio albums. Of the remaining five tracks, three have been written solely by the new members, shifting the songwriting axis, but retaining the hard hitting blues rock associated with the band. Not their best album, but songs like "Bedroom Mazurka" and "Telling You" are truly brilliant! This was to be the band's last album for many years.

onsdag 19. februar 2014

19022014 - Cactus "Restrictions"

We have come to the third Cactus album, and I'm still loving it! The opening track, "Restrictions" itself, is a rocking roller coaster, and perhaps one of their best tunes - at least on first listen! The album's sole cover tune is the Willie Dixon gem "Evil", a song that Monster Magnet once covered, but Cactus make it sound just as raw and heavy as them! "Alaska", with its lyrics about penguins and eskimos, is pretty silly, but a nice little blues ditty. There is a couple of filler tracks on this album compared to the previous two albums, but filler Cactus still sounds a lot more inspired than most other bands could ever hope to do!

tirsdag 18. februar 2014

18022014 - Cactus "One Way... Or Another"

Yes, the Cactus project continues! Like its predecessor, their second album opens with a cover version, and this time they have tackled "Long Tall Sally" and made the Little Richard chestnut their own, much like Bogert and Appice's former band, Vanilla Fudge, had done with "You Keep Me Hanging On" three years previously. This album is just as great as the debut, and songs like "Rock'N'Roll Children", "Big Mama Boogie" and the title track are rocktastic in every sense of the word! Me, I'm already looking forward to checking out their third album...!

mandag 17. februar 2014

17022014 - Cactus "Cactus"

I have no idea why I have never properly checked out this band before. No idea, no excuse, no reason. It's not that I haven't heard a single tune, but I don't believe I have done the full album thing. So here I am, bowing my head in shame, while simultaneously tapping my feet and raising my glass! Because this is GOOD STUFF! I knew that, and so, most likely, did you, but here it is in print. This is so good, as a matter of fact, that I will do the rest of the Cactus catalogue shortly. Maybe over the next days, maybe spread over more time. Aaahhh, the lovely blues rock Messrs Bogert, Appice, McCarty and Day deliver makes me forget that it's February and ignore that it's Monday. Consider me a converted cactophile!

søndag 16. februar 2014

16022014 - Dan Seals "Won't Be Blue Anymore"

It's Sunday, and we need some soft country rock. Dan Seals, previously of soft rock duo England Dan and John Ford Coley, definitely delivers the softness on this, his fifth and most successful album, released in 1985. His duet with Marie Osmond, "Meet Me in Montana", remains one of the most beautiful country duets ever, and songs like "Headin' West", "Everything That Glitters (Is Not Gold)" and "Bop" are almost just as good. Slightly melancholy, pretty catchy and very classic country, this is both soothing and sweet!

lørdag 15. februar 2014

15022014 - Steel Panther "All You Can Eat"

We all knew this day would come. If you read my first blog post I warned you all that I might from time to time listen to an album that's not yet released. It's one of the perks I have as a music journalist; getting albums before the release date. Believe me, there's been several since I started writing this blog, but I have resisted taking the easy way out and writing about those since... Let's just say I take pleasure in knowing that you can check out the stuff I just discovered. Well today you're out of luck, so until the END of next month you can just dream about being able to check out gems like "Bukkake Tears" and "Gangbang at the Old Folks Home". Some of you might already have heard the wonderful "Party Like Tomorrow is the End of the World", and there's more where that came from! From the first listen you can tell that you will be singing along to these lyrics after just a couple of spins, and the tunes are still ridiculously catchy. Kings of Subtle they are not, but if you were looking for gentle innuendo you wouldn't seek it in the company of Steel Panther anyway. This band's lyrics are to James Bond's racy puns what a jet engine is to a butterfly. Next week I am seeing Steel Panther live again, and when they play the new songs I will be singing, nay, yelling along!

Bonus pic!

fredag 14. februar 2014

14022014 - Bang "Mother/Bow to the King"

I discovered this band when the fine label Rise Above Relics re-released their earliest stuff that Capitol Records originally had refused to release back in 1971 because they were complete and utter tossers, thus making Bang's second album, simply titled "Bang" effectively their official debut. This, however, is their third album, and it's a great one too! We're talking classic hard rock that no fan of Grand Funk Railroad, Black Sabbath or Mountain should miss out on! Great, soulful vocals, molten guitars and some nicely placed organ here and there makes this a winner in my book! And while writing this post I just found out that Bang just last month announced their second reunion, so let's see what they have to offer in 2014...

torsdag 13. februar 2014

13022014 - The Raspberries "Side 3"

Lovely power pop from this band, best known for the brilliant "Go All the Way" from their eponymous debut album. "Side 3" was their third, released in the legendary year 1973, and the nine tracks here include the opening track "Tonight", which was later covered by Mötley Crüe. This is by no means a classic album, but a pleasant way to spend half an hour in the sun - for it is a summer album! This album did have some great singles, and it's easy to understand why both Bruce Springsteen and Paul Stanley are fans!

onsdag 12. februar 2014

12022014 - Helms Alee "Sleepwalking Sailors"

Helms Alee is a band I have been planning to check out for some time, but never got around to until now. But hey - a new album is as good an excuse as any, and the catalogue can follow later. And after listening to "Sleepwalking Sailors" I am looking forward to getting to know this band better, because this is really good! Bass heavy tunes with huge riffs, strong melodies, dueling male/female vocals and more or less equal parts sludge, shoegaze and whatever you choose to call vintage Soundgarden (we don't use the G word around these parts) make out an album that should please fans of both Tool, Mastodon, Baroness and Sonic Youth without alienating the broadminded metal fans. Because make no mistake - Helms Alee are as heavy as a really heavy thing when they do heavy, but they can also do light and intricate, making the heavy bits sound even heavier! In the end though, what gets me are the melodies! Those are the reason I have the feeling that I will still be listening to this album in December!

tirsdag 11. februar 2014

11022014 - Claudia Scott "Follow the Lines"

Claudia Scott - what's there not to love? The warm voice, the winning smile, the GREAT songs... The guitar smashing? It's been about a zillion years since her last solo album, but it's better to make wonderful records every now and again than to deliver mediocre ones every year or so. And "Follow the Lines" is definitely a wonderful record that deserves the same international attention that Emmylou Harris or Nancy Griffith get. There's stuff here that could make Suzanne Vega or Sheryl Crow jealous, and any mature country rock fan will find plenty here to get excited about. This is an album I will come back to plenty of times, and from the first listen I can tell that this is the beginning of a long and lasting love affair! Damn it, I want to write so many pretty words about how instantly I have fallen in love with this album and just how good it is, but instead I will just tell you to check it out for yourself!

mandag 10. februar 2014

10022014 - Dr. Hook "Sloppy Seconds"

This is a band where I am familiar with the hits, but have never heard a full album. And I imagine that goes for most of you people as well. Of course, the song "The Cover of 'Rolling Stone'" got quite a renaissance after being featured in the most excellent movie "Almost Famous", and wanting to hear that song I decided to check out the rest of the record. As expected, the album has a bunch of happy country rockin' tunes, some sentimental stuff and a vibe that tells you the band have had fun in the studio, something the lyrics also reveal with their fair share of (sometimes fairly filthy) humor. Pleasant enough, in an early Smokie kind of way, completely harmless and just a little bit bland.

søndag 9. februar 2014

09022014 - Hot Tuna "Hoppkorv"

Why on earth would a non-Swedish speaking band call their album "Hoppkorv" (jumping sausage)? In Jefferson Airplane spin-off band Hot Tuna's case the answer would be "Why not?" Because on this, their seventh album, they did. This band has existed in various forms since 1969, with the core members Jack Casady and Jorma Kaukonen remaining steady members all the time. Starting out as mainly a blues standard covers band, this album contains four Kaukonen originals as well. The recipe remains rocking electrified blues, that doesn't even try to break new ground, but delivers steadily and should satisfy anyone with a craving for foot stomping blooze!

lørdag 8. februar 2014

08022014 - Samson "Survivors"

There were some reactions after my last foray into the wonderful world of NWOBHM from folks who felt I was too critical or just plain wrong. That's good. I like reactions. They mean people actually read my rantings. Anyway, ah do lurve me a good NWOBHM album, and there are plenty out there, loads of which might be called pretty damn obscure, and many made by bands currently residing in the "where are they now" file. As for Samson, they will always, unfairly, be better known for the vocalist that sang on two of their albums that for their own merits, but guitarist Paul Samson kept the band going from 1976 until his own death in 2002. This was their debut album, and although some guy named Bruce Bruce is pictured on the cover, he did not sing on the actual record. They did re-record the songs to feature him though, and those versions are found on the CD version of "Survivors". On the original version Paul Samson does the vocals himself, and a fine job he does too! As for the songs, they are probably more classic hard rock than actual heavy metal, but they are really good! And the award for cheesiest song title goes to "I Wish I Was the Saddle of a Schoolgirl's Bike"

fredag 7. februar 2014

07022014 - Wolfmother "Cosmic Egg"

This is the album I had planned to check out yesterday when I got distracted by Pride Tiger. Apparently Tiger beats Wolf. Anyway, just like any other red blooded rocker I love Wolfmother's first album to bits, but their sophomore effort managed to escape my attention upon release. And then some. Why? To be honest, I expected it to, if not suck cosmic egg, at least be a huge disappointment. After all - with a debut album like theirs how could this come even remotely close? How do you follow up an album like "Wolfmother"? Apparently by not even trying. Yup, they knew that it would be ridiculous to try to top anthems like "Dimension" and "Joker and the Thief", so instead they build to their own formula with songs that are more complex, but still every bit as good. Opener "California Queen" is a steam engine, and songs like "White Feather" and the title track are both big and clever. Even the overtly radio friendly "Far Away" is not too cheesy. Simply a great album!

torsdag 6. februar 2014

06022014 - Pride Tiger "The Lucky Ones"

This is another one I accidentally stumbled across while looking for something else (that might be featured later). I liked both the band name, the album cover and the fact that three of the members used to be in 3 Inches of Blood, so c'mon let's go! This, however, is far from the completely over the top heavy metal barrage that 3"oB used to deliver, but rather a cool sounding 70's inspired rock band that could just as well have been Scandinavian if they hadn't been Canadian. Their Thin Lizzy credentials are intact, but without the clone factor, and the material is both strong and varied, with plenty of cool rocking, as well as breathing space with acoustic guitars and wood flute. This album was released in 2007 and by 2009 the band had disbanded, leaving only this release as their legacy. A shame, obviously, but who knows - in 30 years this album might have the same status as some of the cult records from the 70's by bands that suffered the same fate? Oh, and how can you not love a band that took their name from a combination of a Dio lyric and an apple based beverage? You just can't!

onsdag 5. februar 2014

05022014 - Joker's Daughter "The Last Laugh"

OK, here's what happened. I got bored, and none of the first couple of albums I tried inspired me to listen beyond the first track. So I did what you do when in doubt, and turned to Slayer. I know what you're saying, you're saying this is not a Slayer album! Well, DUH! And of course I have already heard all their albums as well, so they can't be included on this blog. However, I tried to find other bands that have named one of their own songs "Slayer", and this thing looked appealing. Apparently this is a collaboration between the Greek-English singer/songwriter Helena Costas and Danger Mouse, and this album, released in 2009, features some other musicians as well. I don't care. This is a sweet, airy, naively cutesy pop album with charming and catchy songs that have a lot of ethereal Joanna Newsom-y freak folk in them, but with plenty of quirky arrangement ideas and production details that separates this from all those minimalistic folk releases from the latest years. It seems like this project only lasted a short time, but as far as leaving a little something gorgeous behind as opposed to a huge pile of indifferent stuff, this has it all. Oh, and the song "Slayer" isn't actually on the album itself, but is a bonus track on one of the singles off it...

tirsdag 4. februar 2014

04022014 - Orang-Utan "Orang-Utan"

I love to stumble across obscure rock bands, and this UK group is all of that and more! This is their only album, released in 1970, and everything from the album cover to song titles like "I Can See Inside Your Head" and "Chocolate Piano" tells you that this one is a hardrocking, riffrolling, swinging simian beast of an album with just the perfect combination of hard blues, soulful vocals and great songs. There are hints of psych and prog here, but basically this is just a wonderful classy and heavy-ish rock album! As with many other bands from that era, Orang-Utan folded without ever making it big, but any fan of Taste, Cream or Vanilla Fudge should check this out!

mandag 3. februar 2014

03022014 - Houndmouth "From the Hills Below the City"

First of all, I have to express my gratitude to the fine-feathered people at P13 and their show "Stjernepose" with Tarjei & Totto, who have taken interest in my little blog thingy and the point of view for which it stands. As purveyors of music loving we are on the same side, fighting the good fight" Today I listened to the program "Felbergs Loft" through the magic of web radio, and I instantly fell in love with Houndmouth. My instant reaction to the songs on this album is one of pure loving enjoyment, but at the same time I get just the tiniest bit annoyed that this band is completely overlooked by people who (including me) worship Alabama Shakes and Civil Wars. And that other, really annoying, band. Anyway, the combination of old school The Band-ish stuff, newer bands like The Jayhawks an REALLY NEW stuff, like the aforementioned Shakes'n'Wars plus the dual male/female vocals are the icing on a cake that gets its sweetness from some of the best damn songs I have heard in ages! Check out this album if you're even remotely interested in good music!

søndag 2. februar 2014

02022014 - Spidergawd "Spidergawd"

Spidergawd = one of Norway's best frontmen EVER: Per Borten from Cadillac (+ a couple of other bands that were never even close to the big C as far as Pure Rock Greatness goes) plus Bent Sæther from the mighty Motorpsycho (here as Mr Bassman), Kenneth Kapstad from M'psycho and various other bands and mr Rolf Martin Snustad from Hopalong Knut. I only care about one thing, and that is the fact that Borten wants to ROCK again! He wants to play the guitar REALLY LOUD! And that, in my book, is rockin' good news, Lula! The album starts off with a cool riff and a beast of a groove, and we're off! Obviously this is an album I will need to listen to several more times before the songs get under my skin to the extent that they should, but I am already digging this and I'm digging it hard! People will compare this to Motorpsycho, but they can all get bent. Me, I compare it to Cadillac, and although it's still early days I feel that "Spidergawd" holds its own compared to The Cad's varied, but brilliant catalogue. Per - if you're reading this, thank you! Thank you for bringing the Rawk back, thank you for not giving a shit about the Taste Police and thank you for giving us all the chance to party one more time. In my book this is a great album - end of story!

lørdag 1. februar 2014

01022014 - Witchfinder General "Death Penalty!

Somehow this band has always escaped my attention. Could it be the less than PC album covers? It's not that I have anything against boobs, but the fact that I was but a young lad when this album first came out might have been more intimidating than alluring - I don't know... So, time to right this wrong and check out what is now known as an obscure proto-doom metal cult classic to some, a NWOBHM masterpiece to others and that album with that topless bird on the sleeve to a generation of giggling adolescent boys. There's plenty of Sabbath here, which is obviously a good thing, and the riffing and general feel is pretty cool. The tin foil production lets the album down quite a bit, but I guess that's only to be expected from an album presumably recorded on a shoestring budget on label that never amounted to much (yet somehow still exists!), so let's just call it "minimalistic". There are some brilliant songs on here, but I don't feel that I have missed out on the greatest metal album ever by waiting 32 years to check it out.