Filthy Lucre, Silent Duck and Rat Ta’Mango

Live at Jive, Adelaide SA, Saturday 30th January 2016

The doors opened on Saturday evening at Jive to a hoard of hard rock fans eager to celebrate the release of Filthy Lucre’s debut full-length album Mara. As the venue started to fill, the first tasty band prepared to warm up the crowd for what was to come…

Getting things moving was local Adelaide psych-rock band Rat Ta’Mango. Having seen this band name previously around town, I was intrigued to hear them live and to put a sound to that peculiar name. I was impressed and satisfied by the bluesy tones that echoed throughout Jive and got the early birds moving on the dance floor.

Smack bang in the middle of the night was a quirky, quacky 6-peice band called Silent Duck. Full of unique humor, funky riffs and brassy horns, Silent Duck impressed throughout their forty-minute set. The crowd banter and vocal performance provided by ‘Sexman’ was on fire. I instantly noticed Frank Zappa type influences; the mix of horn section and rock ‘n’ roll music, with spoken vocals splashed here and there was aesthetically pleasing and quite progressive in many respects.

Silent Duck 30-1-2016Silent Duck  showcased their brassy funk-rock tunes.

To round off the night satisfying everyone’s burning desire to hear the tastiest, most blistering and intense riffs of all time, Filthy Lucre took to the stage. Vowing to play every song off the new album, I knew we were in for a treat.

Filthy Lucre is made up of Luke Marsh on guitars, cigars and vocals and Ed Noble on drums and percussion. This band only has two members but manages to create a huge sound; I am surprised and impressed every time, especially when I hear the cigar-box guitar put into action. It is full and in your face, making you stand up and move to the music.

From beginning to end Filthy Lucre brought the big guns, fat, chunky riffs were flying all around Jive. The energy was high on stage and off stage, with many fans in the crowd moshing and jumping around to the music hitting our ears. I’m pretty sure that drummer Ed Noble, was standing up for most of the gig!

All I could think of at the end of the night was how fortunate I am to have experienced such a powerful and memorable performance from Filthy Lucre. I had never seen such excitement and vigor in the local scene, the crowd was giving back the intense energy that they were receiving from the performers. It was a positive night full of sleazy, dirty rock music and Filthy Lucre were the stars.

As the night came to a close, I felt excited because I couldn’t wait to hear Mara, the album I was holding in my hands. I hoped that the sheer, exhilarating live performance of Filthy Lucre would be translated onto the studio record and the thick, fat tones would be captured for all to hear. I guess I will have to listen and find out… for the love of music.

Filthy Lucre 30-1-20156A solid riff-rock performance by Filthy Lucre made Jive go crazy.

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Anathema and Icecocoon

Live at The Gov, Hindmarsh SA, Tuesday 27th October 2015

On Tuesday evening I witnessed a band that has been a big part of my life over the past six or seven years. Anathema has provided me with various emotionally driven soundtracks for my life at different stages, they have helped me through hard times and provided me with tunes for the good times. I was intrigued to hear how the Anathema catalogue might sound in an acoustic arrangement.

Kicking off the evening was local Adelaide act Icecocoon. They played a stripped back all acoustic set, in keeping with the evening’s theme. I was impressed by the musicality of the members and the interesting vocal harmonies presented. With many progressive aspects and some groovy tracks, Icecocoon warmed up the audience for what was to come.

Anathema took to the stage as a trio comprised of Daniel Cavanagh, Vincent Cavanagh and Lee Douglas. Starting off the set was ‘The Lost Song (Part 2)’ from their latest album Distant Satellites. Showcasing the vocals of Lee Douglas and giving a taste of what was to follow sonically, the song shone in an acoustic light with harmonies and guitar parts from the Cavanagh brothers.

As the set progressed there were many expressive songs that were extremely powerful when played in an acoustic setting. I was holding back the tears throughout ‘Dreaming Light’. Over the course of the song and the night Vincent Cavanagh’s voice was unique and powerful, it’s one of the reasons I am drawn to Anathema time and time again. Mixed with the compositional talents of Daniel Cavanagh, this makes Anathema a well-rounded group that connects and communicates seamlessly with the innermost depths of one’s soul.

Moments of crowd participation stood out in an intimate situation. Vincent urged us to put the flashlights on our phones on and light the stage while the house lights were switched off. A performance of ‘A Natural Disaster’ followed and the room felt like one big unit, all working together to create inimitable musical memories.

Before closing out the set with an acoustic cover of Pink Floyd’s ‘Another Brick in the Wall (Part 2)’, Daniel announced: “To anyone who thinks that acoustic isn’t cool, check this out!” He then proceeded to rock The Gov with his acoustic guitar and some help from the audience.

Despite a few obnoxious hecklers, quickly put in their place throughout the evening, it was a smooth, intimate and emotional performance by Anathema. Any doubts and uncertainties of an acoustic show were immediately blown out the water from the first song. Anathema put on a performance to remember and I was so happy to have experienced their music in this close, acoustic setting for the love of music.

Anathema 27-10-2015

Camel – ‘I Can See Your House From Here’

Released 29th October 1979

Last week I hastily snatched up a couple of Camel records. Not often do these come up, in Australia especially. One of the albums was Camel’s 1979 release I Can See Your House From Here; this was the band’s seventh studio album and one that presented a new lineup. Occasionally underrated and overlooked, Camel is an important band in the progressive rock movement of the 1970s and a personal favorite of mine.

I did not know what to expect when I dropped the needle onto side one, I have listened to a few Camel albums before and they are always full of surprises. The opening track ‘Wait’ blasted into the room with explosive force. Upbeat, proggy and catchy, Camel has it together from the outset. A seamless transition into ‘Your Love is Stranger Than Mine’ demonstrates Camel’s album crafting skills. Mel Collins played the outro saxophone solo on this number; it was a nice touch and was easy on the ears.

Camel does not hold back when it comes to interesting instrumentation. ‘Eye of the Storm’ features fretless bass played by Colin Bass and “Massed Marching Military Snares” provided by Andy Ward, creating dreamy vibes and lush textures. Andrew Latimer plays flute and Autoharp on ‘Who We Are’, the closing track of side one that demonstrates intense rhythms and a very hooky chorus with rapid hi-hat flourishes.

Electric guitar played by Andrew Latimer features prominently throughout the album, providing memorable melodies and harmonies together with keyboard-type instruments, particularly in songs ‘Hymn to Her’ and ‘Neon Magic’. The electric guitar throughout I Can See Your House From Here is utilised as an emotional and expressive tool. All emotions come to head in the closing track ‘Ice’, a ten-minute instrumental epic. The piece starts slow and beautiful then builds to an intense, unforgettable climax that will reach out and touch the musical soul of any listener. Reading about the album, it has been stated that Latimer recorded the main guitar solo in a single, improvised take; this may explain why it flows and fits so perfectly, it speaks to you like a motivational speech, urging you to go above and beyond. ‘Ice’ is a dynamic, uplifting and dramatic end to a classic Camel record.

I Can See Your House From Here is an album worth hearing.  Camel are pioneers of the progressive rock genre; their instrumental and compositional ability is second to none, emotional, epic and enthusiastic. Each album I have heard from the self-titled Camel to this seventh studio album has blown my mind. With such depth, variation and manifestation, it is recommended that this work-of-art be immersed in for the love of music.

Camel - I Can See Your House From Here cover Camel - I Can See Your House From Here record

Opeth – ‘Pale Communion’

Released 25th August 2014

I couldn’t help but write a review on the latest Opeth album, Pale Communion. I picked up the album last week and have listened to it many times since. With classic progressive rock influences and medieval themes, Pale Communion is an album that everyone can get lost in.

Opeth have developed and changed since their beginnings, Pale Communion is free of death metal vocals and has strong vintage prog vibes. Right from the first track, ‘Eternal Rains Will Come’, I was intrigued by the use of rock organ, creating old school textures. The song progresses nicely featuring a jazzy sounding guitar solo with some intricate vocal harmonies tossed in. It all comes to a head with a tasty and commanding riff playing out the song.

One of the aspects of this album that I loved were the vocal harmonies. Particularly in ‘Moon Above, Sun Below’ and ‘River’, the harmonies, along with acoustic guitar accompaniment, are forming a sound reminiscent of 1970s folk-rock. Mikael Åkerfeldt delivered lead vocals, with backing vocals contributed by guitarist Fredrik Åkesson and pianist Joakim Svalberg. Interestingly, Steven Wilson who mixed the album also provided some backing vocals. Having that said, certain parts did seem influenced by Wilson’s The Raven that Refused to Sing (And Other Stories), not surprising considering the amount of time Wilson and Åkerfeldt have spent together musically over the past few years. Their voices pleasantly compliment each other; it is a welcome influence!

Throughout Pale Communion the grooves provided by drummer Martin Axenrot are vibrant and interesting. I was inclined to move in time with the staggered hits and odd rhythms at different points during the album. In ‘Voice of Treason’ the drums are pulsating and create uneven progressive beats, they make a relatively simple rhythm provided by the keyboard and guitar exciting and colourful.

Opeth have produced a tremendous, deep and proggy album from beginning to end in Pale Communion. With barbaric lyrical themes, lively rhythms, captivating interplay between guitar and keyboards and tasteful vocal harmonies, there is something for everyone on this prog-rock album. Take a step back to medieval times and get lost in an old fashioned world for the love of music.

Opeth - Pale Communion cover 7-8-2015 Opeth - Pale Communion record 7-8-2015

The Receiver – ‘All Burn’

Released 23rd June 2015

The Receiver’s latest album, All Burn, arrived on vinyl earlier this week and right from the first listen I was in love with the dreamy vocals, atmospheric keyboards and grooving beats. Many intricate aspects work together to make All Burn a terrific alternative dream-pop album from start to finish and an album worth hearing.

Only recently had I come across The Receiver. A few months ago a Kscope sample CD arrived with a vinyl copy of Hand. Cannot. Erase. by Steven Wilson. I am always open to hear some new tunes, and after hearing ‘Transit’ on the sample disc, which is featured on All Burn, I could not wait to get my hands on the full album. I was taken aback by the melodic vocal phrases and sophisticated harmonies.

All Burn is The Receiver’s third album, and is the first to be released by Kscope. The band is made up of brothers Casey and Jesse Cooper. Casey provides breathy vocals, atmospheric keyboards, thumping bass and programming, and Jesse plays groovy drums and percussion. It was a match destined since birth and how beautiful it is that these two brothers have shared this progressive music with the world.

From the very first track, an a cappella piece called ‘Drift’, the intense emotion and impressive musicianship of All Burn is instantly recognizable. The vocal backing shifts seamlessly from chord to chord, very similar to how the album flows between tracks. I love this about All Burn; it is a piece of art from start to finish that can be listened to in its entirety. However, each song holds its own when listened to singly making All Burn an album for everyone.

Further adding to the album mentality of All Burn is how it all ties together forming a bigger picture. The album begins and ends with the same verses, elegantly linking the whole album. This aspect relates back to the golden age of albums, back in the 1970s when artists were creating works of art and the album was at the forefront, it also outlines more vintage progressive influences that the brothers have acquired and utilized.

The progressive influences do not stop there. In the tracks ‘Dark Matter’ and ‘April Blades’ a strong Pink Floyd sound is evident but not initially recognizable, The Receiver have done a great job modernizing vintage influences and creating something fresh, new and different. The 1970s tones are alive and well in tracks like ‘The Summit’ and ‘All Burn’ broadening to the proggy nature of the album. With synthesizer resonances harking back to the golden days of Genesis and Yes, Casey Cooper has provided great textures and reminiscing touches through his choice of keyboard sounds.

All Burn has a powerful finish in the song ‘These Days’. The vocal performance by Casey is strong with interesting phrasing. He has the listener hanging on every word, backed effortlessly by Jesse Cooper with his driving grooves and proggy rhythms. The chorus of ‘These Days’ is full, catchy and memorable; it stands out as a commanding statement of the developed and advanced songwriting of the brotherly duo.

If you are looking for something fresh and different, or if you love classic rock and progressive music, or even if you are a fan of pop with a twist then All Burn is the album for you. The Receiver has created a sublime piece of art combining progressive influences and modern instrumentation, forming a crisp alternative dream-pop masterpiece from beginning to end. Spin this new record for the love of music and lose yourself in the world of The Receiver.

The Receiver - All Burn cover 17-7-2015 The Receiver - All Burn record 17-7-2015