Tag Archives: richard archer

GUTTFULL: #notallmen – album review

notallmen

Review by Richard Archer

  • GUTTFULL – #notallmen
  • CD/DL
  • Out now

A combination of abrasive vocals, feral guitar, rasping saxophone and engine-room bass and drums, GUTTFULL are as the name suggests.

‘#notallmen’ is six tracks of feminist punk rock that eviscerates  male chauvinism in its many thin guises. From Trump-baiting on the none-more-direct ‘Arsehole’ (‘You think you’re the man / But even your nan thinks you’re an arsehole’) to troll-hating on ‘Keyboard Warrior’, it’s a bleak but thrilling tirade.

The band display a real understanding of punk rock and its lineage but their songs suggest a scope wider than that. At first ear-glance the most obvious touchstone should be X-Ray Spex, but in actual fact that comparison starts and ends with the instrumental arrangement of the band. Singer Moe Tasker has a vaudevillian quality to her vocal delivery that is a close to Jello Biafra as Poly Styrene: on tracks like ‘Keyboard Warrior’ she slurs the end of each line in a way that evokes the hateful title character as much as the lyrics (‘Venom on your keyboard / Scared of being ignored’).

Saxophonist Phil Waite brings a slightly Roxy-ish rumble to the band, augmenting the guitar at times (in a way that sounds eeevil) and occasionally cutting free for a bit of riffing on his own.

It’s a very ‘in-the-room’ production which suits the confrontational sound they’re kicking out, and it gets the best out of the tough-as-hell rhythm section (bass player Gemma Gompertz plays with a bowing hand that is surely made of iron), which keeps all the wilder elements in check. Topped off with a ‘who’s-who of male stupidity’ cover art, this debut EP promises great things for GUTTFULL.

Find GUTTFULL on Facebook and Bandcamp.

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review: Ivy Crown – ‘Timeout’

ba0dda259b80fd901244317c2cadf258983a9facreview by richard archer

Starting with a blast of infernal amp noise from guitarist Natasja, this debut single from Danish metallers Ivy Crown hits a sudden charge with a riff so abrasive it could peel wallpaper if it was played loud enough. What is surprising is that it sets up a pop melody from singer Camilla that feels untypical yet fits right into the ferocious sonic scuffle.

Along the way we get a pleasing shout-along of ‘No No No No/ I don’t care, NO!’ as a prelude to an anthemic chorus that switches to half-speed, allowing for maximum lurching in the crouching tiger pose (I’m imagining that’s what is done, I’m no dancer). Propelling all of this is some fantastic rock drumming from Sara – a blaze of accents and burly fills that keep everything bowling along with energy.

‘Timeout’ is a fine opening shot for the threesome who have each left their mark on the track, whilst sounding more than the sum of their parts. The production is also very good, keeping the band’s heart and grit audible through the professional gloss which ensures that the individual performances shine. For those (like me) who are not accustomed to newer generations of metal, this might be a door-opener into the genre.

Single available on ITunes, Apple Music, Spotify etc

review: Holly Henderson – ‘Mystery Man’

hollyhendersonreview by richard archer

This new single from guitarist and singer Holly Henderson is outstanding in its ability to deftly conjure its title character from swathes of guitar that shimmer with both charm and menace, and a tempo that hovers between slow and mid-pace.  The lyrics simmer with a gloomy undercurrent  (“Are your hands really as cold as they were in my sleep?”) and these are given a bluesy delivery that lingers in the ears after the songs finish.
Even the chord progression has a wandering-lost feel to it, rippling in the slightly blurred production, with only intermittent stings of Peter Green-ish lead guitar (the kind of sparse blues he was working on  ‘Then Play On’) to bring it into sharper focus.  Bearing in mind that I don’t know the provenance of the lyrics, to my ears ‘Mystery Man’ sounds like a downbeat counterpart to Kevin Shield’s ‘City Girl’, the beguiling song that he wrote for the film ‘Lost in Translation’.

When you consider the pacing of the song, it is odd that it clocks in just short of three minutes but feels much shorter. But there’s not much that makes sense here and I mean that in the most complimentary way possible. This is for sure the most interesting single I’ve heard this year so far.

Holly Henderson on Facebook
Single available on ITunes, Apple Music, Spotify etc

review: Dorja – Target Practice (EP)

targetpracticereview by Richard Archer

Listening to rock-centric radio nowadays often provokes delight and dismay in equal measure. The delight occurs mainly after the discovery or re-discovery of a golden nugget of purest rock from bygone days (Blue Oyster Cult, AC/DC and what not) nestling amongst the airwaves. The dismay occurs usually when the new stuff gets played. Cliched lyrics, overwrought vocals (everybody now seems to sound like that annoying lion-bloke from Nickelback) and band names that would have sounded jokey twenty years ago. Except it’s not a joke.

Dorja are a bit of a surprise then. Their debut EP ‘Target Practice’ avoids all of that slavish devotion to the old guard and instead asserts the bands distinctive sound. It’s the strong musical personalities within Dorja that allow them to reference the best bits of ‘classic rock’ in a way that feels like forward momentum rather than a call back.

Opening rocker ‘Fire’ introduces Aiym Almas’ bluesy Jekyll and Hyde voice – cut glass at one moment and rusty nails the next and seamlessly too. The resonance of her vocals is similar in effect to, say, Robin Zander of Cheap Trick but characteristically she’s out there on her own. ‘Not In Your Shadow’ and ‘Reaching Out’ both highlight a promising guitar partnership in Rosie Botterill and Holly Henderson, their guitar lines weaving intuitively and cutting away from each other in an intriguing manner that will make budding guitarist-listeners want to work out who is playing what.

The through-line for all four songs are bassist Becky Baldwin and drummer Anna Mylee, marshalling the band on ‘Reaching Out’ and final track ‘Target Practice’ with a thunderous low-slung groove on the former and a laser precision on the latter. As a group, Dorja have a knack for audibly building tension and gaining momentum as the songs progress – the last half of ‘Reaching Out’ excites with a perilous vocal climb that tumbles into a guitar riff that stomps like iron clodhoppers.

This is the first really convincing hard rock act I’ve heard in a while and I would recommend it to people who have lost faith in the genre.

Buy the EP direct from Dorja

review: The Venemous Pinks – We Do It Better

review by richard archer

The Venemous Pinks – We Do It Better (SquidHat Records)Delightfully gung-ho and true to their aim (the title is the very definition of chutzpah), this five-track EP concisely captures The Venomous Pink’s balancing act between pop and hardcore punk styles.

The opening lyrics on lead track ‘We Do It Better’ sets out the band’s philosophy:

  • “They’ll tell you all your life /
    you’ve got to be a little wife / Fuck that!”

and is spat out by guitarist/singer Drea Doll with a grit that harks back to classic Joan Jett. They’re fond of a ‘whoah’ here and a shout-along there, which always makes for great drinking music. And in case it might feel like its getting too gruff, they temper the songs with some great harmonies too.
‘Pizza Slice’ and ‘Mantis’ show off the bands knack for velocity and brutality, and they pull off the rare trick of being able to switch into this gear from the preceding poppy-er material without the listener being conscious of the leap. They even come close to metal in some places with a few doom riffs chucked into the blur for extra power.

I think this will appeal to fans of The Donnas for its pop potential, The Plasmatics and The Lunachicks for its slightly bonkers vibes and maybe even thrashers like Nervosa for the speed and energy.

The Venemous Pinks – We Do It Better (SquidHat Records) is available to order from their Bandcamp.
Find them on Facebook.

review: Desperate Journalist – Grow Up

by Richard Archer

Desperate Journalist – Grow Up

With regards to songwriting, Desperate Journalist’s new album feels like a great lost record from an era when bands like the Cure or the Smiths were at the peak of their powers. With regards to the band themselves and the production, they sound a lot tougher than that. From the opener ‘Hollow’ onwards, you can hear the bands’ possible influences but also their distance from them. For instance, on ‘Resolution’, there are flashes of Simon Gallup-like bass invention, but anchored to a punchy bottom-end that simply doesn’t belong in that era. The end result is more Simon Wallop.

Likewise, ‘Be Kind’, features Smiths-y (or do you just say Smithy?) guitar work on the verse but explodes on the chorus in a style more that is more chunk than chime.  And of course, singer Jo Bevan has been compared to Morrissey but to my ears this is only here and there in the melodies. The imagery in her lyrics feels miles away from the kitchen sink grit of the Moz, such as on Resolution:

  • “She says I haven’t seen you in years
    Like confetti in the atmosphere”

Enough of that anyway, there are tracks on here that simply beguile. ‘Purple’ hypnotises thanks to Caz Helbert’s perfectly-judged drumming, as does ‘Lacking in Your Love’ with its amazing twisty guitar riff that grabs your attention from the songs beginning. This is the band’s second album and so evident is the band’s scope and propulsion that you’re left feeling intrigued as to what album three may bring. A really excellent album.

Desperate Journalist’s Bandcamp

desp

review: The Darts (LP)

by Richard Archer

The Darts (US) – The Darts (LP)
A compilation of previously released EPs, this self-titled album is the first full-length offering from the US garage rock band The Darts.

‘Running Through Your Lies’ kicks things off with a bass guitar (courtesy of Christina Nunez) that sounds like a motorbike engine, leading a tale of deceit snarled by Nicole Laurenne over a quiet verse and loud chorus dynamics in a way that channels the auditory drama of performers like Etta James with lyrics to match:

  • “crooked words untrue/losing faith in you/Suspicion in your eyes”

The group dynamic is set-up from here and remains constant across the 13 tracks – an unyielding rhythm section bolstered by guitar and a sprightly organ sound that provides the top-end. This doesn’t need to change because there’s enough invention in the songs to keep it interesting – the band do chipper Romantics-style power-pop on ‘Take What I Need’, get slow and brooding on ‘You Got Me’, and go a bit psych on ‘Evil Wayz’ (think Electric Prunes).

It’s a compilation and has to be listened to and enjoyed as such. In the spirit of garage rock there’s a kind of ‘hit-and-run’ quality to this that is very, very pleasing and this will no doubt appeal to fans of London garage-rockers and LOUD WOMEN faves DOLLS.

The Darts’ Bandcamp

darts