Jaya The Cat – The New International Sound of Hedonism
It almost seems that punk and ska have been travelling hand in hand since the dark ages, well quite frankly that’s not true. It was through bands like The Clash that the divide was broken, reggae could be played by white punks who had something to say. With Jaya The Cat’s fourth record, ‘The New International Sound of Hedonism’, it further emphasises the unique relationship that punk, ska and reggae have developed over the years.
It is said that the band originated in Boston but have been based in Amsterdam since 2004 (Not sure why a Reggae band would want to live in Amsterdam), and the album certainly shows the best of both worlds, filled with “drunken sunrises, narrow escapes, dysfunctional love affairs, political disillusionment and raised glasses, through seedy bars, carnival parades and late night dives.” This is exactly what you hear in this album. There are ups and downs that are physically reflected in the music, without using tedious irony to profess this.
‘Bos En Lommerweg’ is the fourth track on the album, and when googled I discovered it was a street in West Amsterdam, the power of the internet. The track itself, however, is a deep and introspective ballad of a man’s drunk shame and love towards others. Although it’s one of the slowest tracks on the album it surely is one that makes a rather large impact. Geoff Lagadec’s vocals are unique in the sense they don’t sound out of place in any tune, disregarding pace or aggression. Similar to the late great Joe Strummer, he doesn’t have a great voice particularly but it works due to the presence and emotion that he brings to the tracks. ‘The New International Sound of Hedonism’ is a bold presentation of culture from a number of backgrounds and explores this with social commentary from the various experiences people may have had in life, making it easy to relate to by a number of people. This mix of culture is explored both lyrically and musically and it’s an enjoyable album in the true spirit of reggae, ska and punk. Review by Josh Nicol
Anti Vigilante – Tempest
So from one band that embraces the original spirit of punk and ska, we now have a new band that embraces the driving force that is progressive ska. The ska and punk bands that are coming out now are so often ignored by the music press despite their productivity and their will to constantly move things forward.
Anti-Vigilante are a four-piece band from Milton Keynes that make music that sounds like it’s made by twenty musicians. Not only do they incorporate metal and hardcore with ska (skacore as the press release states), but there’s also hints of hip-hop and jazz lingering in the backgrounds with brass instruments being incorporated into an already rather complicated and elaborate format. Where the music really stands is that it’s halfway between Rage Against The Machine and a more hip-hop/ska crossover. The album really relies on speed and energy. Having supported well-known modern punk bands such as The Skints and Random Hand, it is hardly surprising that the appeal lies in the aggression. ‘Tempest’ seems to hold values that most punk bands hold, discuss social and political struggles whilst making it easy to relate to by the youth, thus simplifying it, but not to dumb it down or patronise. One of the boldest statements the group make on the album is through the track ‘Remember Jean Charles de Menezes’ which is a heavy and aggressive take on a political outburst which doesn’t fail to bring across its message. Similar to most punk bands, the band exist as cynical and critical youths with something to say. Is this anything new? Well, that’s not really important. ‘Tempest’ is a view into the underground punk/ska scene (which isn’t even that underground, merely ignored by the press) which is developing in Britain, an album worthy praise for its aggression and power. Review by Josh Nicol
MFC Chicken – Music For Chicken
There is one definite appeal with 1950s and 60s nostalgia revival at the moment, but they all seem to have their own little twist. Much like The Jim Jones Revue bands seem to be taking the American rock ‘n’ roll music of the past and mixing it with hardcore punk or garage, MFC do things a little differently. Although not as heavy as The Jim Jones Revue, it takes the melody patterns of rock ‘n’ roll and turns it into fast paced music that’s worthy of dancing to.
It is a rather strange and quirky way of doing things, as the lyrics seem to literally surround fast food and chicken, and not in a political way. It’s the childlike humour that comes across in the music that makes them that little bit more appealing. Even instrumentally, they come across as a bit of a cartoon band, this isn’t a bad thing by any means. Through the saxophone and keyboards they come across as a stereotypical Elvis & Chuck Berry style group, with surf-rock guitar solos to complete it all.
There is no real track that I can particularly pick out as the greatest of them all. The album is presented as one fast-paced blend as each track flows into one another as if they were deliberately connected. What I can say is that the connection between each musician seems to be presented as a smooth relationship with a strong bond and understanding. Spencer Evoy’s comical vocal tones and playing with accent adds to the appeal of the group and the album as whole. Music For Chicken is a hilarious, and exciting take on the original rock ‘n’ roll sound with ballads and jives to go with it. I just want to see this band live now. A simply brilliant and unique album. Review by Josh NicolStealing Sheep – Into The Diamond Sun
Stealing Sheep are good sleepers; their tranquil, glittery music often has a lullaby quality to it that may just induce dreams. Perhaps they’re hoarding a flock to surreptitiously deploy into your subconscious, for you to count and do just that. Alternatively, the three Liverpudlian girls could just be making beautifully crafted melodies accompanied by angelic vocals.
Their debut album, ‘Into The Diamond Sun’ is released on the 3rd September on Rough Trade Records. According to a large proportion of the press release bumph, the album has been “eagerly awaited”. This is clearly a mistake. It would require superhuman enthusiasm to work oneself into a state even close to enthusiasm when surrounded by their languid, cotton-wool pop. It’d be difficult enough to stir oneself from the harmony clouded slumber. As for the “awaited” part, ‘Into The Diamond Sun’ isn’t something that arrives announced, but unperceivably filters into ones awareness, as if it’s always been there.
‘The Garden’ sets the tone of the album with layers of synth and twangy guitars, and a soulful, whiskey drenched Western sound. The metronome or tapping of a typewriter in the background adds to the surreal, cinematic illusion. ‘Genevieve’ is the perkiest of the album, with distinct sounds of 1960s girl groups, hand claps and dancing. ‘Tangled up in Stars’ keeps the hand claps but is less carefree. The intro could convince you it was a tragically dramatic Kate Bush song, but it would equally fit well in the legions of sophisticated, beautiful pop that’s floating out of Scandinavia and Sweden at the moment, like First Aid Kit. This album will unavoidably be put in a box next to Warpaint and aforementioned First Aid Kit; the girls, the harmonies, the unearthly feel. But Stealing Sheep stand up as a gleaming, glittering example on their own. They take folk, psycadelica and country, all distilled through a thin hazy fog, producing a subtly disorientating effect. Stealing Sheep are good to sleep to, but better to listen to. Review by Lucy Holt
The Loaded Dice – Poor Man's Prophecy
Mudkiss Fanzine reviewed The Loaded Dice’s last album ‘Hindsight of a Brand New Soul: A Halo of Fireflies’ at the end of last year. We got it confirmed that they have absolutely nothing to do with the Owl City track by a similar name, so we let them come back again. They are currently trying their luck and instigating all sorts of gambling puns again with the follow-up ‘Hindsight of a Brand New Soul: A Poor Man’s Prophecy’. Album’s with names that sound like pseudo-proverbs or missing Harry Potter volumes never usually live up to their claims, but the originally Welsh, Manchester based band have come up with the goods on their sixth album. They haven’t let the occasionally embarrassing legacy of their new location have too much influence over the music, with the ratio of Mancunian swagger to universal soul being thankfully weighed to the latter.
The album clocks in at a fairly standard 11 tracks, but it content makes it an unexpectedly cinematic, mammoth creation. It’s got more than its fair share of decibels, but that’s not to say it’s all senseless, directionless noise. ‘If’ balances a powerful melody with delicate lyrics such as “If we were poets with too little to say/would we stich up our lips into a smile?” Then there’s ‘Turbo’, which is the nearest they come to senseless, directionless noise, but is all the better for it; a genuine head-banging, field filling wrecking ball of a song.
‘You, Me and the Sky’ is distinctly calmer. Tender, tuneful, and with frontman James Stone’s soulful vocals that sound familiar but are difficult to place. ‘Scars’ could be a Coldplay stadium anthem, but that’s paying Coldplay too much of a compliment. ‘Scars’ could be a Coldplay stadium anthem if Coldplay didn’t play hummus flavoured vegan rain-pop. ‘Scars’ could be a Coldplay stadium anthem if Coldplay had actual feelings behind their beige eyes and soya T-shirts, if they could make husky, pained vocals sound authentic, if they liked blues and soul, if they had a soul.
‘Hindsight of a Brand New Soul: A Poor Man’s Prophecy’ is rough around the edges, like stone-washed denim and despair. But unlike most hangover and regret inspired albums, among the heart-broken ballads there’s a fair few heart-beating anthems. If it were on QVC, they’d call it versatile; a song for every occasion. As this isn’t the shopping channel, it’s enough to say that’s its really quite good. The Loaded Dice may not have gambled much with it, opting for the classic formula of big riffs and emotion ridden lyrics, rather than high stake abstract risks, but they seem to be on to a winner with it. Review by Lucy Holt
Boz Boorer – Some Of The Parts
Boz. Moz. Moz. Boz. Moz. Boz. Boz. You could read far too much into it. Let’s just assume, for the sake of the review, that Morrissey’s guitarist and long-time collaborator’s birth name really is Boz Boorer and he has absolutely no intention of piggybacking on certain ex-Smiths’ universally iconic status. It’s would be shameful to even consider, let alone insinuate that. Endless comparisons could be made between Boz and his former colleagues. Actually, he used to be in The Polecats and has proven his worth working with Adam Ant, Jools Holland and Edwyn Collins. We should probably cut the guy some slack. The title of his most recent album ‘Some Of The Parts’- released on the 8th August - hints at a wry acceptance of how his history as a behind the scenes component will no doubt affect the reception of his music. Ronan Keating is one artist who thankfully isn’t in Boz Boorer’s little black book, but his wise proverb of “life is a rollercoaster” is something Boz has clearly taken to heart; ‘Some Of The Parts’ is a textured, complex anthology of the majority of sonic ideas of note from recent history, and it never stays the same for any more than a single song. Its evidence he’s taken ingredients from all his experiences in the music industry. Or perhaps its evidence he’s quite indecisive and likes to have his musical cake and eat it when deciding on a genre to try his hand at.
That doesn’t necessarily mean that the album sounds completely arbitrary or like a playlist on shuffle. Although ‘Tokyo Calling’ is pure unadulterated rockabilly, Jackie Brown is 1960s soulful pop and ‘Jazz Interlude’ is quite predictably just that. Yet the album is tied together by an appreciation for good music and warm, gutsy vocals. Although there’s ‘Bozanova Brown’ which is impossible to put in the same hemisphere of any of the other tracks, it’s just a strange and beautiful trance, and sound as if it has fairies as guest vocalists. The first single from the album, ‘Slippery Forces’ employs the old favourite lyrical topic of the mystery girl who appears indecipherably perfect but fatally flawed. Though on top of the moody retro pop melodies, it sounds ever so cool.
So what can we conclude from Boz Boorer’s fourth solo album ‘Some Of The Parts’? He hasn’t tried to replicate the style of his famous employer, he’s a serious student of music who finds it impossible to pick a style and stick to it, and the album is all the more interesting because of it. Review by Lucy Holt
River City Ransom – ‘River City Ransom’
York based band River City Randsom have taken what they know best, and created something exciting and interesting to listen to. The interesting thing about these, however, is the guitaring and raw vocals reminding me of an early day Alexisonfire and (at a push) and early day Biffy Clyro (if you’ve never listened to early Biffy, you fucking should).
Being a guitarist, as said before, the guitar work and musicmanship and song writing is flawless! It has the brutal fist pumping energy of punk yet is so drowned in heavy rock it really gets your head bopping and foot tapping. ‘Strength from the Sun’ is such an example: fast, head banging and just full of passion. With a hint of Motorhead driven with a clever change of pace that doesn’t defect from the music, and keeps an undeniably killer groove throughout. Even the beginning, break-down and pre-chorus leading into an amazing solo just tops the sheer quality of this track. However, for a thumper the opening track ‘This Day and Age’ has the feeling of Alexisonfire supped on some Black Breath brutality epitomising this bands pure raw energy. Although influences such as the Bronx and Alexisonfire are apparent, they’ve taken something and made it into something fun and (as a good friend of mine would say) “fuckin’ bangin’ bro”. Certainly worth a check out for fans of Every Time I Die, The Bronx, Alexisonfire and Billy Talent. Review by Noel Horton
Shields – ‘Shields’ EP
Leeds lads Shields are a medieval heavy-rock outfit with monster riffs, crushing guitars and arse-wrenching, pummelling drums. But this isn’t geek-ridden, “let’s play World Of Warcraft and live in a fantasy world’ medieval, this is full on heavy-riff laden rocking with ironic referencing and fun, tapping into something that’s not really properly been done before.
Opening track ‘My Buddy Went to Azeroth & All I Got Were These Lousy Arrows’ shows exactly how heavy these guys can be. The low end brutality is amazing, yet the shift from heavy to soft is key to this song adding such depth to such a simplistic chord progression. Even the realms of prog-rock are delved into in this track and these lads don’t fail to deliver. Another standout track for me is ‘Your Name is Mudd’. The pace and vocal work brings together an all-about song that (again, delving into prog-rock realms slightly) gave a punkier version of Mastodon (and that is a huge compliment). The spacey and tripping feeling of the track really makes you lose yourself in the track, catching myself running my own music video accompaniment to the track in my head. However, if one track showcases this band’s sheer brutality and breaking teeth heaviness it is the track ‘Christpuncher’. It does exactly what it says on the tin; a sheer divine-induced apocalyptic thunderstorm of death. The introduction creates the most head banging feeling you will ever endure with a melodic breakdown that slays and can only be described as the ‘calm before the storm’.
Shields create a heavy, down-tuned stampede of medieval, sword-wielding rock that captures the imagination. If Richard and The Crusaders could have had iPods and music, this would have been their theme tune. These are certainly a check out for people into bands such as Led Zeppelin, Mastodon, Black Moth, Black Sabbath and Holy Mountain. Review by Noel Horton
Marc O’Reilly - My Friend Marx
When we start to listen to a new artist for the first time, whether we like it or not, we draw comparisons. Marc O’Reilly is no different, Ray LaMontagne, Jose Gonzalez, touch of Damien Rice and Newton Faulkner, but as you dig deeper, their own personality and style should force its way to the surface, revealing influences and flavours like a well seasoned stew. O’Reilly’s playing is exceptional. His notes are strong and passionate, his rhythms and timings running like a well oiled machine. And then there’s the voice, husky, soulful and a perfect foil for the, often frenetic, but always masterful guitar playing. His songs are well constructed and keep the listener engaged from the title track, ‘My friend Marx’ complete with string arrangements, through loop like repetitions and rags, to ventures into foreign rhythms, as evident on the track ‘An African day’. Even the addition of the tasteful drumming on ‘Tell Old Joe’ goes almost unnoticed because of the strength of his playing. From the the beautiful ‘Family reunion’ to the sparse aggression of ‘Get back’, to the controlled finger picking of ‘20 minutes for 2 years’, this album may not be breaking any new ground, but its consistently high quality playing and writing, is a joy to listen to.
The album closes with ’F,O,O’ (Falling out of), nicely omitting the obvious for the mournful cello riff and building up nicely with strings and female accompaniment, signalling the end of a relationship and indeed, a fine album. Already receiving rave reviews and TV exposure in his native Ireland, Marc O’Reilly, with his French and Irish roots, seems destined for big things in the not too distant future. Fuelled by the ‘physical’ release of his debut album on August 6th and followed by an onslaught of gigs and festival appearances across Europe, this singer songwriter has enough talent and skill to rise above the comparisons. Review by Les Glover