JW Edwards – Hearkened Hands [REVIEW]

With some acoustic and folksy tendencies in his writing, JW Edwards is here to present you with his debut EP which will no doubt be a cult classic amongst his many fans. Bringing you something that is gripping as well as touching, it will be interesting to see what he has come to produce with six of his own personal creations.

The opening track starts with a really soft guitar section that works well to ease you into the record as his vocals add a distinct touch to the record right out of the gate, especially when he rings out the harmonies. The distorted bass that bursts through kinda drowns out parts of the track with it booming over the rest of the track and feeling a bit out of place. The next track takes over a more acoustic element with ‘Exile’ feeling like a lullaby with the dulcet tones that ring through the 4+ minute time with the folk/country influences coming through a lot stronger on this song. The acoustic guitar work places itself neatly with the tambourine and harmonies/backing vocals as it coasts through the track at a delicate pace.

As the EP progresses you are dealt with more chances of JW’s expertise in his craft being shown off more. The track ‘The Rain’ feels like a really stripped down version of an Imagine Dragons track as the vocals take full pride with their harmonies working together as the clanking in the background provide some element of beat and atmosphere in the track. ‘In The Morning’ goes back into its acoustic state with with chirping in the forests helping round out the intro of the track. The violins are the instrument that seems to drown out the acoustic guitar as it blares through and the effect used on the vocals is a nice fitting, but can be a bit unnerving for a first time listen.

This EP is a great showcase in JW Edwards musical capabilities as he is definitely pushing his own personal boundaries with his creation. With the whole record feeling really rounded, it is a shame that some of the parts that get drowned out can evidently take you out of the experience for a few songs.

[8/10]

Deaf Havana + Guests – Live @ Bristol O2 Academy (20/2/17)

It’s time for alternative rock to shine again with Deaf Havana giving you all the good times and good vibes with the new album-centric tour. With their new album being a strong staple in this new stage of their career and being supported by two great rising stars in UK artists, it’s time to see how well this pays off for all of the bands.

Opening the night were alternative rock band from Leeds who were ready to bring their strong mainstay into the venue. Dinosaur Pile Up (7) are a trio who have a great old school knack in their sound which was portrayed pretty well in the venue. With 3 albums of music to smash your heads with, they split the duties between their most recent two for a much more vibrant and fresh set. It didn’t provide much of a stage presence for the group, but when they smashed through tracks such as ‘Friend Of Mine’ and their set closer ’11:11’ it gave them a newer chance to show off their latest material. The band did very strong and despite being dealt with the ‘open band syndrome’, they pulled it off well and opened the night quite strongly.

Picking up the pace a bit more were the mysterious London band Dead! (8) who are definitely pushing themselves harder than ever before. With this bands mystique from their social media it is safe to say that they are a group who will have their work cut out for them when they hit the stage supporting someone like Deaf Havana, but they pulled it out of the bag! Showing off different sides of their bands character from the onslaught of ‘We Are Dead’ to the calmer and more anthem-like track ‘Alaska’, it made their set feel much more dynamic and exciting. Whilst the sound came through as a bit hit and miss during their set, their closer ‘You’re So Cheap’ made everything feel that much more rounder and ended another set on another high note.

To bring the night to its close with a showcase of their amazing new release, Deaf Havana (9) brought so much passion and a gripping live show that spans a lot of their career. With James Veck-Gilodi’s vocals running through so strongly throughout the entire set, whether it be through the more emotional tracks like ‘Anemophobia’ to the more bouncy and crowd moving tracks like ‘Sing’. The band also showed how much they can push through their sound with an alternate version of ‘The Past Six Years’ which, in comparison to the original sound that the track has, gives it a bit more of an acoustic and somewhat folksy life-force behind the song and shows more of the bands versatility when it comes to their writing. Overall, the band brought a tonne of different elements to the stage and made the entire night worth it with over an hour of material to smile, dance and cry to.

Dave Hause – Bury Me In Philly

It feels like Dave Hause has been around forever. From his his mid 90’s stint in hardcore with Step Ahead, the formation of punk rock mainstays The Loved Ones, and his time served on the much lauded Revival Tour, Hause has taken pointers from his peers and built an enviable rep in the process. Having ingrained himself into the punk/folk rock tapestry over the years, he has carved out an impressive niche as a solo artist as of late, delivering music that injects a shot of heartland americana into his tried and tested punk rock formula. Upcoming release and third solo effort Bury Me In Philly sees him drawing from a hatful of influences and pushing the hookier aspects of his sound to the forefront.

Bury Me In Philly bolts through the door with the piano-driven With You. It’s the closest to The Loved Ones sound Hause has come in a quite sometime, all the while delivering infectious guitar lines alongside a classic ‘sleep when we’re dead’ attitude. The sound of With You, almost sets a precedent for the rest of the tracks here too, with a well oiled rhythm section supporting larger than life vocal hooks.

Lyrically, the record delivers a hell of a punch, with Divine Lorraine paying homage to his hometown while telling a much broader story and the bluesy grind of The Mermaid, name-checking a variety of musical luminaries and conjuring up images of past struggles. Elsewhere we see Dave getting autobiographical on punchy Springsteen-esque rockers The Flinch and My Mistake, two tracks which will undoubtedly sit well in a live setting alongside the likes of Cmon Kid and We Could Be Kings.

The latest in a trilogy of solo servings, Bury Me In Philly builds on past efforts Devour and Resolutions and seemingly bridges the gap that has existed between these records and Hause’s previous band. Whereas previous works have found him treading carefully between folk troubadour and contemplative american storyteller, this time around sees both elements brought to the table and turned up to eleven in both the songwriting and punk spirit. It’s not all unbridled rock action though, with Hause finding the time to get introspective on the fragile Wild Love, providing a highlight of both record and career.

The strong suit of Bury Me In Philly is it’s soulful voice, honest lyrics and punchy rock n’roll, which can go along way in a climate of cardboard cut-out musicians. For fans who have enjoyed Mr Hause’s previous solo works but have longed for something with a little more drive and fire, Bury Me In Philly undoubtedly meets you halfway and then some.

Bury Me In Philly is released on February 3rd through Rise Records.

Dropkick Murphy’s – 11 Short Stories Of Pain & Glory

With a sound that combines a band like The Pogues in Irish flair, with the skate Punk sound of NOFX, Dropkick Murphys kick off 2017 right with a full on assault to start the New Year. On the bands 9th album, it becomes hard to change their sound, but when it’s to try and cause as much of a Boston party as can possibly be, there’s little more that needs to be said.

Kicking off with The Lonesome Boatman, the chants of all the members of the band are heard right away. This fun nature is carried on by the first song with lyrics of Rebels With A Cause leading to a sense of family nature within the song, the accordion of Tim Brennan also adds to the good fashioned nature of the song, and allows it to have the Irish flair the band’s fans are accustomed to.
Sandlot also features the first sounds of acoustic guitar from Jeff DaRosa combined to the synchronised clapping from the rest of the band members. The song feels like it’s reminiscent of the bands past especially with the line “we had it all when we were young” this is a song that feels like a real celebration of the family nature on the album.

The key theme of family and trying to have a good time is not without good reason however, as with any good story the setbacks for the individual members become obvious. Take their cover of Jerry And The Pacemakers’ hit You Will Never Walk Alone for instance and their reasoning for choosing to release the track as a single. Ken Casey had lost his cousin and Al Barr lost his brother to an opiate overdose which he dedicates the song to. This is something that he states in a YouTube video as being a key factor in his life with himself saying he’s been to thirty wakes in two years.

The way the two lead singers of Al Barr and Ken Casey bounce off each other on First Class Loser and join together on the chorus of Paying My Way creates a great theme on the album. This is something that might seem minor for most bands but due to Dropkick’s nature of creating a good natured atmosphere across their music making the love of the band to their craft stand out amazingly. On the latter track the sound of the Harmonica solo from Jeff DaRosa adds an extra layer of creativity that most Punk bands ignore.

Whilst the record has a good sound to it, it doesn’t mean that the band haven’t got serious intentions in mind. The album is inspired by the bands work with the Claddagh Fund which helps people with addiction, Rebels With A Cause is about kids who have been left as hopeless by the system and 4-15-13 (which has to be the most sombre part on the album) marks the date of the Boston Marathon Bombing. What this shows most of all however, is that no matter what life might throw at us, we can all celebrate the good in life, and after the time 2016 has given to most people, a record like this proves there’s still hope.

Deaf Havana – All These Countless Nights [REVIEW]

Deaf Havana are definitely one of those bands who can show the world how much expanding and learning as a musician over the years and change what you play and what you perceive as music. Going from their ‘Meet Me Halfway, At Least’ album in 2009 to this upcoming album titled ‘All These Countless Nights’, the band have pushed themselves hard and are ready to show you what they can accomplish with this new release.

Ashes, Ashes’ immediately takes this album onto an amazing start, having a somewhat gritty feeling but keeping their newer and more modernised sound. The acoustic guitar brings the sound all around with a great boost of many of the other instruments and backing vocals provided in the song and gives you something that would absolutely feel right at home in their live shows. Into ‘Trigger’, the guitar lick that comes through being heightened by the punchy bass tone makes this song really catchy. The choruses are an anthem within themselves and nicely blend in and out of the verses, making this another amazing track that grips you nicely. The next song carries on the passion they have and James Veck-Gilodi powers through the vocals and brings something that is undoubtedly full of emotion and flavour that it once again gives you a track that is full of atmosphere and superb to listen to.

As the album progresses, the band definitely has a comfort zone their used to with the chords, but this box doesn’t hold them back on the production and musical element. You can tell with the next track ‘Happiness’ that the chord structure used in the acoustic guitar is somewhat similar to the previous track and it makes the whole album flow nicely into one another. Picking up the pace a bit more though is ‘Fever’ which feels very much like something you would hear from bands such as You Me At Six with its strong alternative rock sound and heavy use of the bass sound. The choruses feel a bit weird with the instrumentation blended with the vocals but for the most part the track keeps in line and gives you something nice and different from the former.

The second half of the album keeps up the momentum strongly are there are some very standout tracks from this section. ‘Pretty Low’ provides you with a nice guitar melody driven track with the song as a whole being another one of those crowd pleasers at a live show with its humungous feeling that comes across in it as the song just builds and builds before calming itself down towards the end. The same could also be said for ‘Sing’ which has a powerful side towards it that encompasses the more older anthemic side that Foo Fighters brought to songs such as ‘My Hero’ and ‘Everlong’. ‘St Pauls’ is one of the softest on the record as it doesn’t go all out in the choruses like the majority of the tracks on this record do, once again bringing Veck-Gilodi’s vocals to another beautiful state from start to finish. Finalising the album with what originally feels like a rock cover of ‘I Took A Pill In Ibiza’, the closer of the album goes on a slightly darker tone in its emotion and its lyrical content proves a stronger backstory overall for the song and may bring a few tears. ‘Pensacola, 2013’ was the perfect way to end the album as it goes on a different route and changes your perception.

The band have definitely progressed hugely from their first album days, but are definitely fending back to their roots a little bit with some elements of the 2nd album being a nice touching factor for the whole album. This should bring a few of the doubters back into their fanbase and whilst there are a few little niggles with the record, Deaf Havana have provided one of their best albums to date and this will only mean bigger things for them.