White Reaper – White Reaper Does It Again review

tumblr_nmi6zt6bUo1txpsn4o1_1280It’s been a while since a decent blend of post-punk and garage rock appeared on the scene. Thankfully though, July 17th will see Kentucky-based punk outfit White Reaper release their infectious debut album, White Reaper Does It Again, via Polyvinyl Records. Having recieved some acclaim (from both NME and The Guardian) for their self-titled EP last year, you almost can feel the anticipation in the air as the release date closes in. Needless to say, White Reaper do not disappoint.

Opening track and lead single, Make Me Wanna Die, takes the form of a psychedelic track with bubblegum-punk vocals, similar to that of the infamous Joey Ramone. It’s a great start, kicking off the album with a Pistols-esque vibe and some riveting basslines, followed shortly by second single I Don’t Think She Cares. This doesn’t stray much from the first track, but has a much more commericalised presence on the album, playing the middle-man between classic punk rock and that Arctic Monkeys signature sound we’ve all come to either love or hate.

Pills and On Your Mind, on the other hand, has a remarkably distinct 21st century indie rock feel to it, with vocal work that could easily be matched with that of The Killers’ Brandon Flowers. But if that’s a turn off, I wouldn’t worry too much – Last 4th of July stays true to those infectious riffs, blasting us back into the late 70s, while Alone Tonight is more like a Ramones track than anything else on the record.

Unfortunately, almost every record had that one track you should probably avoid. In White Reaper’s case, this is Candy, with its melodies sitting closely next to various rock-does-Christmas songs – perhaps a little too cheesy for this record? However, Sheila soon makes up for this though, with vocalist Tony resembling something close to Johnny Rotten. Either way, we’re not complaining, and it’s bloody good to hear a voice like this again.

Next up, and probably the best track on this record (and perhaps one of the best track I’ve heard so far this year), is the fantastic Friday the 13th. I mentioned that ‘Brandon Flowers meets punk rock’ vibe earlier, but this track takes it to a whole new level. Friday the 13th takes verything you could possibly expect from a massive Killers track, and smashes it together with some gritty vocals, anthemic riffs and messy drums. Impressive work.

Wolf Trap Hotel takes us back to the Pistols-esque atmosphere or classic, 70s punk rock, while Don’t You Think I Know sees the White Stripes meet The Undertones with chanty vocals and catchy indie riffs. The record closes with BTK, the track that occupies the middle ground between the Ramones’ grungy bubblegum punk and today’s heartfelt pop punk. Good and bad point combined, White Reaper Does It Again is exactly what the punk scene needs right now.

Listen to Make Me Wanna Die here:

Heartless Bastards – Restless Ones review

Back in 2005, Ohio’s alternative rock quartet Heartless Bastards released their debut album via Fat Possum Records after The Black Keys’ Patrick Carney passed along a demo he received from vocalist Erika Wennerstrom. The album, titled Stairs and Elevators, received high praise from music publications throughout the US and led the band on their way to stardom. Ten years later, Heartless Bastards are back with their fifth studio album, Restless Ones, released on June 16th via Partisan Records. Upon the album announcement, Wennerstrom hinted that Restless Ones may mark a departure from their usual sound, stating, “We took a lot of chances, taking the sound in a different directions in order to grow. I don’t ever want to make the same album twice.”

While Heartless Bastards’ earlier tracks may have leaned towards an indie folk sound, but things really have changed this time around. Wind Up Bird opens the new record with deep, mesmerising vocals and soaring guitars, bringing in a much heavier grunge atmosphere. The melodies in this track are almost comparable to that of British band Big Sixes, but deafening baselines soon dismiss that idea. Next up, single Gates of Dawn kicks off with an acoustic riff, similar to the opening riff in Semisonic’s Closing Time. Heartless Bastard’s influences really shine through in Black Cloud, with hints of the Pixies and the Flaming Lips making an appearance, while Hi-Line takes us back to that original folky summer sound that made us fall in love with Heartless Bastards to begin with.

The halfway mark greets us with the spectacular Journey. Wennerstrom’s vocals sit perfectly between the likes of Florence Welch and Amy Macdonald, while the guitar work has a distinct Americana feel to it, before Pocket Full of Thirst makes the transition into a warm, echoing ballad. Into the Light takes the form of a jazzy rock ‘n’ roll masterpiece that neatly sidesteps rockabilly, while The Fool and Eastern Wind sees Heartless Bastards take on an impressive Cranberries-meets-No Doubt sound, before the record closes with the haunting Tristessa.

Check out Gates of Dawn below:

Bill Wyman – Back To Basics review

Back-to-BasicsYeah, you read that right. The ex-Rolling Stones bassist will be releasing his forth studio album on June 22nd, his first release in 33 years. Since quitting the Stones in 1993, Bill Wyman has been very busy indeed. He’s written seven books, founded the succussful Rhythm Kings, become a globally exhibited photographer and even a metal detecting expert with his own brand of metal detector (didn’t see that one coming, but sure). Now, he’s back with another music venture in the form of his brand new solo record, Back to Basics.

Opening track What & How & If & When & Why is already enough to transport you back to 1960’s America, yet somehow bears a resemblence to American Analog Set’s Hard to Find. Tracks such as I Lost My Ring and Love, Love, Love hint towards that 50s rockabilly sound, while Stuff (Can’t Get Enough) is so accidentally disco that it almost hurts. Throughout tracks such as Seventeen (the sickly-sweet toe-tapper) and I’ll Pull You Through (the seemingly heartfelt love song of the record), you can hear the country-esque influences, mashed together quite brilliantly with the simplistic rock ‘n’ roll of the 70s. Just A Friend Of Mine, probably the best track on this record, takes a summery approach with an acoustic guitar and an up-tempo drum beat to back it up, while album closer I Got Time takes us back to that country-blues atmosphere again.

Consider Back to Basics the musical equivalent of a time machine, taking us back to experience some of the best in 60s & 70s rock ‘n’roll. Nostalgia-fuelled, upbeat and packed with meaningful lyrical content, there are some notable moments on this record, but it’s Wyman’s vocal work that really lets him down. Granted, the guy is 78 now. However, while (musically) nothing has changed about that original Stones’ talent, perhaps four solo records is enough.

We Came From Wolves – Self titled review

We Came From Wolves (SSR 015) cover artMay 25th brought us the release of We Came From Wolves’ self-titled debut album via Saraseto Records. The Glasgow-via-Perth quartet had already thrown themselves into the spotlight with the impressive 2014 EP, Paradise Place. This time around though, the band have stepped away from the pop punk melodies of Stallion, Foals, Foxes, Crows and taken a more alternative rock approach.

The album debut opens with a beautifully haunting, one-minute acoustic intro, titled Wolves, before crashing into Glasgow Stranger. With such strong Scottish vocals from Kyle Burgess and some powerful pop-fuelled guitar riffs, this track is going to do well among Twin Atlantic fans. However, it’s Am I Useful? that sees Burgess’ vocal work really stand out – backed up by melodic riffs we’d expect from Deaf Havana’s Fools And Worthless Liars and steady drum beats, it’s a heartfelt and memorable track that won’t disappoint.

Coraline leans towards the band’s older pop punk roots, and there’s a hint of Franceschi-esque vocal work in there too, while Butterflies treats us to anthemic riffs and heavy basslines. Where’d Your Love Go? is the highlight so far, opening track six with a slow, spine-chillling riff. There’s a sense of power behind this track as the chorus kicks in and Burgess sings, “You’ve been keeping secrets from me / All this has to stop right now,” and it’s guaranteed to be a live crowd-pleaser.

Up next comes Validate Me, starting out with an intimate acoustic verse before an explosion of metal-esque riffs takes over in a Young Guns-meets-Framing Hanley spectacular – you can almost hear Kenneth Nixon within Burgess’ vocals here. You’ve Backed The Wrong Horse sticks to this sound, despite another hint of heartfelt pop punk, before I Know You’re Leaving surprises us with a McBusted pop fest and Ruiner draws us in with its catchy lyrics.

Finally, I Need Something slows everything down completely in an emotional acoustic effort. This song alone is enough to make you teary and will ultimately melt your heart when the electric guitar kicks in at the halfway mark. We Came From Wolves’ self-titled debut is packed with ups and downs, but they’ve got an exciting road ahead of them. Good work boys.

Callista – Live EP review

castcoverBased in Worthing on the South Coast of England, melodic hardcore outfit Callista are set to release a brand new Live EP on June 29th, following on from the release of their new single, Hemingway.

The EP opens with Burden of Existence, combining orchestral strings with a haunting piano sound. Harsh, screamed vocals thrown over a plethora of distorted guitars gives this track such an emotional, almost gut-wrenching power, before the song fades out. Despite frontman Scott’s claim of being ‘shit at talking’, song introductions make for some amusing entertainment between tracks. In My Blood sticks with the same harsh vocal work and distorted guitars fading in and out, while threatening drum beats add a hint of darkness to the track.

The EP appears to be cut from a live performance as Scott introduces the next track as Hindsight, only to introduce it again on track three as their new single Hemingway. The remarkable thing about this EP, however, is the raw emotion behind everything that Callista do. Roaring vocals compliment the guitars as they build up into something almost transcendent, while the drum work gives this disorderly emotion some structure.

Recorded, this single was impressive in itself, but there’s something far more intimate about this live EP. Whether you’re hearing these songs on the EP or you’re able to get to a live show, Callista will not disappoint, that’s for sure.