Category Archives: album reviews

News: ‘The Final Trawl’ – 19th annual CD of the students of the National Centre of Excellence in Traditional Music

Situated in Plockton on the West Coast of Scotland, the National Centre of Excellence in Traditional Music first opened its doors to students in 2000. Uniquely, each year the Centre has produced a CD of material chosen and arranged by the students themselves. Featuring twenty-one musicians this year, The Final Trawl double disc CD features both traditional material and the students’ own compositions.

Writing in the album’s sleeve-notes Dougie Pincock, Director of the Centre, remarks:

“The student’s choice of Archie Fisher’s great but gloomy song as the title track is singularly appropriate given that the state of the Scottish fishing industry is one of the more contentious issues of the day. But while, as in the past, I’m happy to commend our young people for their political awareness, I’m always glad to be able to say that they counterbalance the doom and gloom with their creative energy and the joy they take, and give, in the creation and performance of their music.”

The Centre came about when, following devolution in 1999, the Scottish Executive established its Excellence Fund for education, and invited the 32 Scottish local authorities to submit bids for appropriate projects. Recognising the wealth of traditional music activity generated by the Fèis movement and others, the Highland Council submitted a bid for a residential Centre of Excellence specialising in traditional music. The bid was successful and the National Centre of Excellence in Traditional Music was established at Plockton High School in May 2000 with funding of £500,000 from the Scottish Executive’s Excellence Fund. The Centre is now directly funded by the Highland Council.

The CD is available for purchase via the Centre’s website

https://www.musicplockton.org/

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Folk: EP review – The Tweed Project ‘The Tweed Project’

This review was originally published by Bright Young Folk here

The Tweed Project was originally formed in 2015, aiming to both celebrate and fuse English and Scottish traditional music. After a few years on the back-burner The Tweed Project is now back, performing a short tour last autumn and releasing this EP. With a new line-up, Greg Russell and Ciaran Algar are joined by vocalist Josie Duncan, guitarist Pablo Lafuente, piper and whistle player Ali Levack and percussionist Evan Carson.

Josie Duncan sings beautifully, whether it’s in English on songs like Dick Gaughan’s ‘Both Sides the Tweed’ whose message of friendship flourishing on both sides of the famous river straddling the English and Scottish borders is something of a musical manifesto for the band; or in Gaelic as on the wonderfully frenetic ‘B’fhearr leam fhin’. There is some splendid playing on the release, too, as one would expect from an EP packed full of past Young Folk Award winners. The combination of pipes, fiddle, guitar and percussion makes for some wonderfully atmospheric moods created throughout the EP’s six tracks.

For admirers of Greg Russell’s superb singing voice he makes just one lead vocal contribution, singing on the final track ‘Turn That Page Again’. A song about hope and optimism for the future, it concludes the EP in style.

With a refreshed and revitalised line-up and a release just brimming with virtuoso musicality, love and passion it is wonderful to experience the creativity of the Tweed Project flowing once more.

Released: Haystack Records 18th October 2019

https://thetweedprojectband.com/

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Related reviews:

Album review – Greg Russell & Ciaran Algar ‘Utopia and Wasteland’
Luke Jackson and Greg Russell & Ciaran Algar at Cecil Sharp House 2016
Greg Russell and Rex Preston at The Green Note 2015
Greg Russell & Ciaran Algar at The Green Note 2014

Singer-songwriter: album review – Lorraine Jordan ‘Send My Soul’

Send My Soul is the fifth studio album from singer song-writer Lorraine Jordan. Memorably described as ‘Celtic soul’ her music builds on her family’s Irish roots while also embracing more contemporary influences.

It’s a combination that works fantastically well and from the moment you put it on the album oozes soulful sophistication and captivating musicality. Indeed, such is the powerfully understated beauty of the title track that I had to double-check that this was a brand new song and not a modern interpretation of a long lost gospel soul classic.

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Not only is Jordan is a talented songwriter with a passionate soulful voice she’s succeeded in assembling a suitably talented line-up of musicians for the album. Jordan’s own guitar and bouzouki playing is complimented by a sensitive yet wondrous accompaniment of mandolin, piano, strings, whistle and percussion that help give these songs such a unique Celtic-inspired flavour.

If Celtic soul is truly a thing then ‘Send My Soul’ is surely a classic of the genre. Jordan has delivered an exquisitely appealing album here.

Released: October 2019 by Hazellville Music

https://www.lorrainejordan.net/

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Hard rock: album review – Burnt Out Wreck ‘This Is Hell’

This review was originally published by Get Ready To Rock here

After an extremely well-received 2017 debut ‘Swallow’, some barnstorming festival appearances and support slots for the likes of Anvil, Burnt Out Wreck – the band created by former Heavy Pettin’ drummer Gary Moat – ratchet up their impact with a second album.

While Heavy Pettin’ in the 80s (who had their back catalogue re-released recently) took their musical cues from the more polished classic rock albums of the previous decade, Burnt Out Wreck channel the down-n-dirty spirit of Bon Scott and early AC/DC.

As Moat says when I interviewed him for GRTR recently, “At 15/16 AC/DC were just the best thing in the world and Bon Scott was amazing. And so that’s why I sing like that, not because I wanted to copy what he was doing but just because that’s the way that my voice developed.”

As well as Moat on lead vocals the band are: Alex Carmichael on bass, Paul Gray on drums, Adrian Dunn on lead guitar and backing vocals, and Miles Goodman on rhythm Guitar and backing vocals. Moat’s vocal style developed in Mother’s Ruin, the band he put together in the early 90s following the demise of Heavy Pettin’. However, around five years ago he put Mother’s Ruin to bed in order to concentrate on songwriting. A number of songs that had lain half-written were finally completed for this album.

From the faux-dramatic introduction and killer riff on ‘Positive’ to the relentless boogie and tongue-in-cheek lyrics of ‘Paddywack’ to the seen-it-all-done-it-all-tales of rock ‘n’ roll life in ‘Guitars Electrified’ it blasts out the speakers like some long lost AC/DC album circa 1976. But the guys deliver with passion and conviction, Moat proves himself a very able songwriter and vocalist and Burnt Out Wreck easily demonstrate that they are far more than a poor man’s pastiche.

This Is Hell is a perfect album of sleazy, hard-hitting, in-your-face bluesy hard rock. Sure, it sounds like AC/DC but even if Angus and co. do release another album it’s not going to sound like this. Buy it!

https://www.burntoutwreck.com/

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Related posts:

Interview with Gary Moat

Heavy Pettin Reissues

Anvil / Burnt Out Wreck / VOiD at The Underworld, Camden 2018

Burnt Out Wreck at Classic Rock Weekender 2018

Burnt Out Wreck at Classic Rock All Dayer 2018

 

Heavy metal: album review – Quiet Riot ‘Hollywood Cowboys’

This review was originally published by Get Ready To Rock here

“After nearly ten years since the loss of his friend and co-founding member and bandmate Kevin DuBrow, and with careful consideration, soul searching and with the blessings and support of Kevin DuBrow’s family, Frankie has moved forward with the band to bring the fans a new record!” announce Quiet Riot as they release their latest album Hollywood Cowboys.

Always best known for their 1983 smash album Metal Health which included the hit cover of ‘Cum On Feel The Noize’ a song that finally brought the delights of Slade to an American audience, the band is now led by drummer and long-term member Frankie Banali who was part of the Metal Health line-up and has played on every subsequent Quiet Riot release since. Banali is joined by bassist, Chuck Wright, who’s been part of the band, on and off, since the early 80s and guitarist, Alex Grossi, who has been with Quiet Riot since 2004. Vocals are, once again, handled by James Durbin, who also sang on the band’s last studio album (2017′s Road Rage).

With a smoother and more melodic feel than the raunch of DuBrow’s vocals, Durbin a former American Idol frontrunner, has himself now left the band it’s been reported. There are some decent songs on this album and some powerful but hummable fast-paced hard rock. It includes one or two surprises as well. The slower, smouldering, bluesy feel of ‘Roll On’ is actually one of the real treats on the album.

Former lead singer Kevin DuBrow was such an essential component of Quiet Riot that debate will always be a matter of debate among classic-era fans as to whether, without him, it’s really Quiet Riot or not. Nevertheless, this latest release to bear the band’s imprint is an album of likeable, if somewhat generic, 80s-influenced heavy metal.

Released: Frontiers 8th November 2019

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https://quietriot.band/

Folk: album review – TMSA ‘Young Trad Tour 2018’

A simple, slightly quirky but effective idea, every year the Traditional Music & Song Association of Scotland (TMSA) run the Young Trad Tour project where they offer young musicians the opportunity to record an album with their contemporaries and tour their home towns. TMSA launched the project back in 2004 when the six finalists from BBC Scotland’s Young Traditional Musician Of The Year awards were brought together to tour and make an album and its been repeated each year since.

This year’s CD features the six finalists of the 2018 competition along with the winner of the 2017 competition and the full lone-up is as follows: Hannah Rarity (vocals and 2018 winner), Charlie Stewart (fiddle and 2017 winner), Ali Levack (whistles/pipes), Rory Matheson (piano), Luc MacNally (guitar/vocals), Amy Papiransky (vocals) and David Shedden (bagpipes).

The album contains a nice mix of original material and arrangements of traditional tunes. There’s a real maturity to both the playing and the writing but one of the undoubted highlights of the album is the wonderful voice of 2018 competition winner Hannah Rarity. Rarity’s talent had already come to my notice when I reviewed her debut release for the sadly now-defunct fRoots magazine back in 2017. It’s certainly encouraging to see her getting the recognition she deserves, not that the CD is merely a showcase for the winner. There’s some fine fiddle playing and bagpipes on this album and it is impressive to see this ad-hoc ensemble coming together with something as cohesive as this.

A wonderfully creative project and one that has delivered a fine album.

Released: 6th August 2019 by TMSA

https://www.tmsa.scot/

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Related review:

EP review – Hannah Rarity – Beginings

Melodic metal: album review – The Ferrymen ‘A New Evil’

This review was originally published by Get Ready To Rock here

Although the name may conjure up images of a Gerry & The Pacemakers tribute act playing package tours to provincial theatres, The Ferrymen are actually a European metal outfit fronted by Ronnie Romero on vocals who, of course, was chosen by Ritchie Blackmore to perform that same task when he embarked upon his return to the rock world and the resurrection of the iconic Rainbow brand.

A New Evil is the follow-up to The Ferrymen’s self-titled debut which was released in June 2017. Polished, well-produced melodic metal of the type that has become almost synonymous with the Frontiers label, the album makes its presence felt in dramatic but not entirely unpredictable fashion. Orchestral-style flourishes and spooky-sounding choral introductions lead us into thunderous hard rock. Romero’s Dio-esque vocals are well-suited to the material, all of which is written by Swedish guitarist, Magnus Karlsson (Primal Fear, Magnus Karlsson’s Free Fall), who delivers all the guitar, bass and keyboards parts on the album. The third member of the trio is drummer Mike Terrana (Rage, Axel Rudi Pell) whose furious drumming (deservedly high in the mix throughout the album) provides a perfect counterpoint to the lush but intensely powerful instrumentation delivered by Karlsson.

While the album can seem a tad predictable at times it does exactly what it says on the tin and delivers classy-sounding melodic metal, appealingly memorable song-writing and flawless vocals. Fans of classic-era Dio et al will really warm to A New Evil right down to the cover art – and won’t be at all disappointed by what’s inside.

Released 11th October by Frontiers Music

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https://www.facebook.com/TheFerrymenofficial/

Related review:

Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow at Birmingham 2017

Singer-songwriter: album review – Gary Fulton ‘Blood and Dust’

Blood and Dust is the fifth album from Cheshire-based singer songwriter, Gary Fulton. Branded in the acoustic folk category, comparisons have been made with Nick Harper and Rory McLeod and his music has been championed by the likes of Fatea. To be honest, however, there’s so much zestful energy in his songs I heard everything in there, from George Thorogood to 80s/90s indie a la The Las to 60s flower-power era Status Quo. Fulton’s talent is undoubtedly an ability to combine engaging lyrics with unforgettably catchy melodies.

For one who creates music so appealing and with a comparatively weighty back catalogue Fulton has a fairly low-key presence online and there’s not a huge amount of information about the artist to be found either on his reverb-nation site or in the press release that accompanied the album. However, Fulton is certainly deserving of wider attention and, hopefully, the excellent Blood and Dust will go some way to achieving that.

Released: 8th September 2019

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Metal: album review – Sascha Paeth’s Masters of Ceremony ‘Signs of Wings’

This review was originally published by Get ready To Rock here

UK audiences may not be too familiar with German-born Sascha Paeth but the multi-instrumentalist and producer has had a hand in many, many dozens of albums for an extensive roster of bands over the past three decades. These include the likes of Avantasia, Kamelot, Rhapsody and Epica.

Now Paeth has put together his own band: “Finally, I am putting my energy into a metal project of my own. It is the sum of my experiences over the years and a bit of a revival of what I was doing in the past.”

The musicians that he’s recruited are Felix Bohnke on drums, André Neygenfind on bass, Corvin Bahn on keyboards and American singer Adrienne Cowan. Style-wise it explores a variety of different textures from the melodic to the more straight-ahead metal. Cowan’s powerful range certainly suits the mix of styles on the album from the full-frontal assault of ‘The Time Has Come’ to the symphonic Blackmore-esque ‘Weight of the World’ to the delicate piano-driven ballad ‘The Path’. All of the album’s eleven tracks are either written by Paeth alone or co-written with lead singer, Cowan, and demonstrate a good ear for creating catchy but powerful songs.

Production-wise it’s as polished as anything you’d expect from the Frontiers stable and Paeth and the record label seem perfectly suited to one another.

Powerful, melodic and inventive Signs of Wings is a piece of well-crafted European metal that’s worth seeking out.

Released: Frontiers 13th September 2019

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https://www.facebook.com/saschapaethsmastersofceremony/

Interview with Gary Moat of Burnt Out Wreck

On the day Burnt Out Wreck’s new album ‘This Is Hell’ is released I caught up with the band’s front-man and former Heavy Pettin’ drummer, Gary Moat.

So the new Burnt Out Wreck album is released today. Tell us about it.

Just carrying on in the same sort of style as ‘Swallow’ – the song itself, not particularly the whole album. More a straight-ahead kind of rock n roll. It’s a bit faster paced this album. We needed some of that to go live really. And we’re really looking forward to getting out there and doing it.

Did ‘Swallow’ kind of set the template for Burnt Out Wreck then?

Yes most certainly. It’s just my favourite style of music, you know. And that’s the way I write so I had to go down that path eventually in my life. So this is it. It’s just the best form, the most enjoyable form of rock I’ve ever heard in my life. So that’s why I had to do this.

On this album particularly because we’ve got all of the new band and obviously they’re playing on it live and yeah – it just sounds good because it’s not all come out of me this time.

Was the first album you bringing in different musicians then, before you created the permanent band?

I was doing it on my own and I said to Adrian (Dunn – guitarist) do you want to come in and have a go at this but it was just the two of us. I played drums. I played bass. I played rhythm guitar. But when you put a band together it becomes a different animal, you know. And it’s far better for it I must say.

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Everyone obviously comments on the AC/DC influence when they see Burnt Out Wreck.

You know, everyone always goes on about Bon Scott and AC/DC and that’s obviously the first thing that comes to mind for them and I sing in that register. At 15/16 AC/DC were just the best thing in the world and Bon Scott was amazing. And so that’s why I sing like that, not because I wanted to copy what he was doing but just because that’s the way that my voice developed. And because I was listening to them my whole life, I suppose, I took it on in my head somewhere. There are other bands though. People forget about bands like Rose Tattoo and Krokus – Airbourne even. Some people try and have a little dig at you because your ‘copying AC/DC’ but you know all of these bands are copying AC/DC if you like. But they’re not really because they’re just blues rock bands. I keep going back to this but if you go back to bands that inspired AC/DC, you know the old blues players from America. You can’t distinguish who’s who. They’re all playing a twelve-bar blues and they all sing like each other. It was not that different in the modern era.

When did the desire to sing first emerge? Were you thinking about it back in the days you were drumming with Heavy Pettin’?

Yeah I get asked this a lot. It was there in me. I suppose it’s there in everyone to get up and have a sing. When I was becoming a teenager and started going to pubs and clubs I started getting up and singing with other bands, as well as being the drummer in the band I was in at the time. But when we started Heavy Pettin’ Hamie was obviously the choice for the frontman because I was a drummer. And I had no intention of being a singer. I didn’t want to do it. But the thing is myself and Gordon were the songwriters and Hamie was the singer so I was making the parts up… So I’ve always been singing and writing songs. But when Heavy Pettin’ split up I thought I’m going to do it myself this time. But it’s taken all these years to actually get in there and make my own style.

And, presumably, when you were writing the songs it started to feel more authentic to sing them yourself and express yourself in that way?

Oh yeah. It sounds better coming out of yourself. And people tell me that all the time, you know and that they appreciate it. They like it. And thanks very much to those people.

It was quite a gap between Heavy Pettin’ coming to an end in the late 80s and Burnt Out Wreck now – talk us through what you were doing in between.

I was writing songs, of course, and some of the songs that are on these two albums were written many years ago but not finished. Never finished until I was going to pick them up for the albums. Because you just scribble an idea down. You just get a guitar riff and put it on tape or whatever way back and you just leave it on the shelf. But I’d get around to them eventually. After the band split up way back in 1989 everybody went their separate ways and did whatever they did – got jobs, got married, had kids and just cracked on with life, you know. It took until 1992 for me and Gordon to put a band together called Mother’s Ruin and we played around for many years just on and off. We did gigs mainly around the Milton Keynes area. And then everyone went their separate ways again, going to uni and stuff. We had some younger guys in it. But some of the songs from that are on the first album. But they just sat there and eventually it got to a point where I thought I just hate these songs being left there and nobody’s heard them so I thought I’d put them out you know.

It must be nice to see those song titles finally being released.

Yes and with the first album we’ve had praise from all around the world. Everyone seems to love it and the second album looks as though it’s going to go the same way.

Gary Moat

You’re supporting the Pete Way Band this autumn. And your old band was actually named after a UFO album. Did you know Pete from UFO days back then?

No. The only time I ever met Pete Way was 87/88 when we were recording the Big Bang album and Waysted were in the studio next door to us. I went to see UFO many times, of course. They were all big heroes and influences on all of us I suppose. He told me he really likes our stuff and obviously he’s looking forward to us playing. Yeah it’s just incredible that someone you think of as one of your old heroes thinks you’re good.

You obviously come across quite a few younger bands when you’re out gigging and doing festivals. Are you pleased to see this renaissance of classic rock and the so-called New Wave of Classic Rock? And are there any of the younger bands that you particularly admire?

We do a lot of these festivals and I’ve seen many people. I don’t actually listen to music. I just write my own stuff. I’m in my own little bubble and if I hear something then either instantly it’s good or instantly it’s oh never mind. There are some good bands. I especially like Scarlet Rebels who’ve supported us.

What can we expect from Burnt Out Wreck on this latest tour? Is it a mixture of songs from the two albums? Will there be any covers?

We usually play (Heavy Pettin’ song) ‘Rock Ain’t Dead’ but I don’t think we’ll be playing that any more. We’ve two albums worth now so we don’t need to be slapping that out now, even though it’s a big crowd pleaser and we’re certainly very good at playing it. But yeah we’re really excited and dying to get out to play live and to play some new material. Because we’ve been out on the road for three years, basically, and we’ve just been playing that one album. And we’ve been itching to get into the new one. We knew it was coming but I didn’t want to go out and play it until it was actually out. So we just waited and it will be a mixture. But more leaning towards the new album because er.. we just love it!

This Is Hell released 11 October 2019 on Burnt Out Wreck/Cherry Red
Burnt Out Wreck tour dates here https://www.burntoutwreck.com/tour

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Related reviews:

Anvil / Burnt Out Wreck / VOiD at The Underworld 2018

Four Sticks – Classic Rock All Dayer at the New Cross Inn

Four Sticks Classic Rock Weekender at the New Cross Inn

Pete Way interview