Memory Lane EP – England Road
Although relative newcomers to the Southampton scene, England Road have picked up a following many more seasoned bands could only dream of. Tender of age but certainly not of ambition, this three track debut shows that the early promise shown during their live shows can be backed up when it comes to writing and recording.
Fight For Your Life displays all the hallmarks of an indie anthem but, whilst hinting at the obligatory Oasis influences, the whole thing is ramped up and delivered with far more attitude than the Gallagher brothers have mustered in nigh on a decade. Delivered with reckless abandon, Fight For Your Life is a thundering rock n roll track that distils the groups love of both indie and rock music into a fist pumping crowd pleaser.
Continuing the breakneck pace but with a far more emotional theme You Chose Your Fate shows the band can couple lyrical sentiment with memorable tunes but without resorting to histrionics and schmaltz. The inspiration for the song is weighty and difficult but handled with a maturity you may not expect from those so young, celebrating triumph rather than defeat.
Final track Memory Lane lends its name to the EP and is already a live fan favourite. Clearly the band love music, absorbing influences from across the indie and rock genres but they are already savvy enough to be able to use these to start creating their own sound rather than just imitate their peers.
England Road’s Memory Lane EP is a heady mix of youthful vigour and energy coupled with a surprisingly mature song writing flare. These
songs have been honed live and captured perfectly in the studio to form a debut release to be proud of, well done lads.
You can find out more about England Road HERE.
Having achieved the almost herculean feat of bouncing back from the critical and commercial mauling St. Anger received with 2008s flawed but infinitely better Death Magnetic, the Metallica ship seemed to be steadying. However, no sooner were they handed back the gun, they proceed to start shooting at their feet again and collaborate on a concept album with Lou Reed. Cue yet more critical and commercial savaging and it seems Metallica have lost at least a little of the ‘cred’ they were rebuilding. Was Lulu that bad? Having not heard it myself my image of Metallica remains somewhat less tarnished than others.
Beyond Magnetic is a four track EP comprised of cutting room floor tunes left over from the original Death Magnetic sessions, no doubt issued as a reminder that things were getting better.
This is solid if not spectacular stuff, the big riffs and the groove is back but the tracks do suffer slightly from the spectre of their big brothers from the actual Death Magnetic album. Shades of The Day That Never Comes and Cyanide can be heard in the bridges and breakdowns and the songs do occasionally feel like early versions of other tunes.
Having said all that though, Hate Train is propelled by a classic Metallica riff that has just a tinge of ‘Search And Destroy’ about it and allows Kirk to throw in a little solo within the first 60 seconds.
Just A Bullet Away seems to come to a natural end on four minutes before being rudely and pointlessly kicked into life again for another three minutes, it would work better as the shorter version and the temptation to skip at the break becomes harder to resist with each listen.
Hell And Back and Rebel Of Babylon are not quite good enough to be on Death Magnetic but too good to throw away and pack plenty of riff laden appeal. What this EP does show however is that the writing juices were flowing for the DM sessions, these tracks are certainly better than just B-sides and this surely bodes well for the next proper Metallica studio set.
At their best Metallica can still knock out tunes with ease and whilst Death Magnetic may not be vintage Metallica it is certainly the best they have been for a decade and Beyond Magnetic is a worthy accompaniment to it. If you liked Death Magnetic buy this and enjoy, if you didn’t, then it is probably already too late now to win you back and you can take away one ‘Tape’ from my rating.
For all your Metallica needs, visit their official site HERE.
2009s Crooked Timber heralded a huge return to form, not that they had slipped that far but the edge was back, that trademark rattle in the bass and those frenetic rhythms were all present and correct.
So that all bodes well for their new album ‘A Brief Crack Of Light’ due on the 6th February, preceded by lead track ‘Living In The Shadow Of A Terrible Thing’, a little tease before the main event.
And deliver it does, the sound of a mental breakdown in just under four minutes. An apocalyptic beginning gives way to metallic, sinuous bass before the anguished tones of Andy Cairns declare ‘I experience time as a terrible ache’ and we haven’t even reached the chorus.
As with the best Therapy? tracks, ‘Living In The Shadow Of a Terrible Thing’ makes you want to head bang and seek psychological help at the same time, dark, disturbing and bloody marvellous. What can I say but Hats Off To The Insane.
Three tracks from Northern Ireland’s Tied To Machines have been sent my way and after an unusually good Monday, things have just got even better! These guys ROCK! All three songs are relentless – 3 minutes of crunching guitars, pounding drums, the odd punk sing-a-long, and barely a second to stop and pinch yourself!
The recordings aren’t fantastic, but good enough to get the gist of these guys. ‘Otamendi’ has a real Mudhoney feel to it and is coupled with some screaming straight from the pit of Cobain’s stomach. The band showcase a slightly more melodic side with the next track ‘No Huggin No Learnin’ and is a real head banger.
Final track ’Sociopath’ is a belting punk number – a furious verse and a stupidly catchy chorus, giving it all the ingredients required for a great live song. I’d love to hear more of these guys, ideally recorded in a better studio. If you like loud, rawkus punk/hard rock then these lads will be right up your street!
To find out more about Tied To Machines visit their Facebook page HERE.
I reviewed the first Birds In Flight EP way back in April, one of the first TAPEtoTAPE reviews in fact. Since then I have caught the band live a couple of times and they have been tightening their sound and songs and now release their second CD, the four track ‘A Hand To Hold’.
Starting with the re-recorded version of the first EPs belting ‘Biggest Mistake’, this does still remain as their ‘big’ track. The new version is certainly more dynamic and like the whole EP has a wider and more confident feel. It was a good track in April and a great track now.
‘Speak Up’ has a simple but effective riff with Jess’ vocals soaring sweetly over the top and this is followed by the more crunching ‘The Start’ with a punchy verse giving way to an infectious chorus.
‘Time’ is less immediate, placed in the middle of the EP it would add a nice change of pace but at the end it feels a little wasted. Perfectly pleasant but lacking the sparkle of the other three tracks.
Rhythmically the band are tight on record and live, Glenn’s drumming provides a solid back bone on which Theo’s bass blends in a subtle funk element. Luke appears to be from the Graham Coxon school of guitar, inventive, subtle and an emerging talent.
‘A Hand To Hold’ is definitely building on the first EP, a maturing sound and better production see the band moving forward and seemingly more comfortable with themselves. On this evidence, Birds In Flight could take off….. come on, someone had to say it eventually.
Find out more about Birds In Flight HERE.
Certain collaborators on this fine site are clearly making amends for earlier musical mishaps by sending me this amazing EP by Sworn To Oath (No Jules, I have not yet forgotten The Uppers!!) to review. ‘Leave You For Dead’ is comprised of 4 rip-roaring, riff filled, head banging tracks. There is not a single moment where these guys ease off the pedal. In a nutshell, it’s feckin’ brilliant!
This is more than just loud noise, or ‘pot’s n pans’ as my dear Nan would put it. The songs are catchy and infectious, while the musicianship oozes quality. At the same time these songs are loud, rocking, full of aggression and enough to make you want to set up your own Fight Club!
The EP is full of White Zombie-like riffs, with vocals that in places match those of the likes of Layne Stayley. In fact at times there is an air of Alice In Chains to the songs and this can only be a good thing! The bass rumbles on like an out of control juggernaut while the drum sound is epic!
It’s obvious why these guys are getting just about every music mag writing about them. Luckily, Sworn To Oath are a hard working band and are always on the road so with a bit of luck they will be at a town near you soon. Do not miss them!
Find out more about Sworn To Oath HERE.
Borderline:Fire follow up their debut EP ‘All That’s Left Of You’ with their first ‘proper’ single ‘I Wanna Go’. Their EP was a hit and miss affair, their intentions were clear but the result lacking on the whole. There was enough there though to signal that they were going to be capable of producing something great in time.
So here we are with ‘I Wanna Go’ and that promise is getting ever closer. From the outset this is far more assured than some of the previous recordings, bigger, bolder and sounding like a band finding their musical feet.
It has a faintly industrial air to it, chunky guitars clash with shimmering electronic touches as the song builds to the verse. Vocalist Jamie Boshier’s delivery is far more confident than for much of the EP and lyrically the band are maturing too. The song builds to a decent guitar solo and suitably anthemic climax before fading back out to the strains of the synths that ushered in proceedings.
This marks a definite growth in the band’s sound and ambition, the addition of the synths adds an interesting extra dimension and the song, whilst lacking perhaps the killer chorus, does get better with each listen. On this evidence, Borderline: Fire are only just starting to reach their potential and I look forward to hearing what comes next.
‘I Wanna Go’ is released on the 30th November.
Check out their Facebook page to find out more.
Still seemingly embracing his freedom from the confines of past incarceration… I mean, incarnation with Razorlight, Andy Burrows is not only now a full time member of We Are Scientists but is also preparing his new solo record, which is preceded by the first single ‘If I Had A Heart’.
Following in the same vein as his last venture, I Am Arrows, ‘If I Had A Heart’ is part indie cool and part 80s synth. The clinical beats of the verse spar nicely with Burrow’s slightly world weary vocal style before the bristling synth of the chorus kicks in channelling the spirit of the 80s; all that’s missing is the wind machine and shoulder pads.
Whilst musically upbeat, lyrically this is an apology delivered a little too late, ‘forget the lies, I told them out of spite’ and ‘If I had a heart, I would have let you go’ appear to be confessions of a guilty conscience.
‘If I Had A Heart’ continues to show that Andy Burrows can knock out a great, infectious pop tune with alarming ease. With collaborations also in the pipeline with the likes of Tom Smith (Editors) plus Mark ‘Midas Touch’ Ronson, this could well be that rare beast, a solo career from a drummer that has no comedy punch line.
Watch the video on this site and you can order the single HERE.
There is no substitute for passion in music, technical proficiency will get you so far but it won’t make a good song. You can make writing a great song seem easy, but it is not easy to write a great song if you don’t believe in what you are doing. And with that little bit of pomp it leads me onto The Dead Beggars Club and their ‘Do Or Die’ EP. Arriving with no fanfare and just a hand scribbled disc, all the quality is saved for the five tracks contained within.
Debut single ‘Got Soul’ gets the whole thing underway, a gritty punk number with deliberately rough edges built around the hollering chorus. It fulfils the brief of an attention grabbing opener.
‘Take My Chances’ starts off like The Supernatural’s ‘Smile’ before being hijacked by Chelsea and ‘Forever We Are Blessed’ is a more restrained rocker, but underneath still beats an anarchic heart.
Title track ‘Do Or Die’ is nestled near the end of the EP and the shouty dual vocals coupled with some frenetic drumming imbue it with infectious energy.
Pick of the bunch though has to be ‘Don’t Go’, with its bouncing bass rattle and ska- punk feel verse matched by the irresistible chorus, this is the kind of song that makes you fall in love with a band.
I am sure The Dead Beggars Club have a well-worn but impressive record collection, there are traces of everyone from The Jam to Rancid in the sound, but delivered with the confidence of a band wanting to do more than just ape their heroes.
With the attitude of The Clash and the indie nouse of The Libertines, The Dead Beggars Club offer some straight up rock ‘n’ roll, no frills but all the better for it. In these uncertain times it is good to know there are still some real bands out there, hearts on sleeves, playing like they mean it.
To find out more about the band and hear some tracks just click HERE.
Forgoing the normal trappings of youth and presenting themselves simply as a ‘commercial rock band’ shows they do have a good grasp of what they are, or at least what they want to be.
Things start brightly with the infectious melodies of ‘Miles From Colour’ and sounding every bit like the radio hit they clearly want to write. Coldplay guitars with stadium rock drums and soaring vocals make a classic sounding but still contemporary rock hit.
Unfortunately it is followed by the slightly more naïve sounding ‘17’. It follows a similar format to ‘Miles….’ but lacks the punch and lyrically the ‘that’s life when you’re 17’ sounds a bit weak. Having said that I am a long way from 17 so have long forgotten the plight of the adolescent.
‘Misfed Minds’ is more ambitious and they manage to inject a little dirty soul into the proceedings. Both vocally and musically it has a greater sense of confidence than ‘17’ or the final track and again shows the band are definitely capable of penning a memorable tune.
‘Bitter Memories’ is really a game of two halves, a terrible intro followed by a much stronger finale. The plaintive opening just doesn’t work. Aiming for emotion but once more let down by some questionable lyrics, the vocals sound a little lost and weak. When the whole band kicks in the song is lifted and the anthemic quality they were going for, while not reached, is certainly within touching distance.
I would be willing to bet that ‘17’ and ‘Bitter Memories’ are two of their earlier song writing attempts, as ‘Miles From Colour’ and ‘Misfed Minds’ have more maturity about them and are without doubt the best tracks on the EP. The band is clearly hardworking and developing fast. If they can just smooth out the rough edges and hone their lyrics then I have no doubt their next EP will start to deliver on their potential.
To find out more about Borderline:Fire visit their website HERE.