Album Reviews: Feb 2002

 

 

Echobrain - Echobrain (Surfdog)

N: Metallica’s Jason Newsted takes a break from his buddies in teaming up with Brian Sagrafena and Dylan Donkin in creating the almost Spinal Tap-esque rock epic. How can you not leave with a smile on your face?

T: It’s very much in the vain of old school rock acts such as Motley Crue on the opening track “Colder World”, and then it all goes a little more mellow. It could easily have been recorded in the 70’s or 80’s but that’s not to discredit it at all. It’s all a very enjoyable listen really. It sounds strangely like Chris Martin from Coldplay in places too. Honestly. I haven’t flipped, I promise.

N: A review following their only live performance to date ranks that show with the likes of Green Day, Nirvana and Smashing Pumpkins. Early on I found it difficult to make those references fit, although as the album progresses, this is a suitable likening.

T: I must admit, I STILL can’t see that, but then again I’ve never seen them live. To me, tracks like “Highway” sound more like ELO!

J: That’s probably why they called themselves Echobrain - because it sounds like echoes from years ago....

N: The further we get into this album, the more I realise that I really like it, but originating from a stable....

T: There always WAS something about you that reminded me of a horse....

N: ...from such a high calibre stable, it’s not surprising really. It’s a case of the experienced stallion showing the young steeds the way to go. 8/10

 
 


The Company Of Snakes - Burst The Bubble (SPV)

T: This is the recent incarnation of what was formerly Whitesnake, featuring Bernie Marsden, Micky Moody and Neil Murray and it doesn’t sound as horrible as I thought it was going to, from the sleeve!

N: You may well scoff, but the musicians in this band have a pedigree that many only strive to achieve. You want evidence of this? Then take a look at the number of years Status Quo have been going.

T: Right then. So you’re defending the band by way of comparing them to the proverbial “three chord brontosaurus” now are you?

N: The fanbase of a group like this is far less fickle than that of any boy/girl band of today....and can you see THEM still performing when arthritis sets in? and can you even see the fans bothering to leave their comfy chair to pay the price to see the band in years to come. These are musicians, not some sort of cash machine.

T: A valid point maybe, but does this album really burn the fires of your heart enough to warrant a visit to one of their shows?

N: Not personally, but I can give you pages from my address book of fans who would! 6/10

 
 


Clinic - Walking With Thee (Domino)

T: This is our featured interview band of the month, and the new album is so outstanding and original that you are completely absorbed into it’s magical caves.
I mean, you thought you knew Scousers. You thought they all had woolly perms, dodgy Barry Grant moustaches and wore shell suits didn’t you? Well far from it. This extremely inventive band grow in stature and confidence with each release. I haven’t stopped playing it since I first heard it. Stunning.

N: The key word there is original. Quite where the band pulled this from I don’t know, but they’ve done something so far removed from what has gone before, original is the only way to describe them.

T: I still think it sometimes sounds like Violent Femmes though. I can kind of see little glimpses of their two known influences - Velvet Underground and Suicide occasionally too.

N: It’s surprising that this band ever got a deal. I would have thought they were too good to have been picked up! Undoubtedly, the group will find themselves in the rundown of the year when the time comes. Come to think of it, this whole album sounds like one giant jam session.

T: Put it this way. I am even fonder of this album than I was of Ash’s “Free All Angels” or My Vitriol’s “Finelines” which were the pick of the decade so far in my eyes. THAT’S how good it is.

N: Decade? Century you mean! 9/10

 
 


Magnum - Breath Of Life (SPV)

T: What’s up next then?

N: Magnum

T: Bloody hell. I don’t think I’ll like this one. Hang on though, we’re supposed to be objective so we’d better do a George Michael...

N: What’s that then? Having a wank up against the stalls?

T: Er...actually I meant “Listen Without Prejudice”, but now you come to mention it, I’ll be back shortly...

N: Looking like a line up from Never Mind The Buzzcocks’ “Who Are They Now” section, Magnum show that they really know how to start a show. I can see images of a dry ice filled stage with exploding fireworks as the group crash in from backstage. Hold on....didn’t Spinal tap do that? I think they sell well in Germany don’t they? Being cruel to be kind, I’m not surprised!

T: So what did I miss then? Doesn’t sound like I’ve missed a lot in the six years Magnum have been away anyway....

N: This is very generic, almost writing a song by numbers.

T: Unfortunately there don’t seem to be many numbers available to the band though.... 5/10

 
 


Blaze - Tenth Dimension (SPV)

(N: As I press play, even I am filled with a sense of foreboding....I’ve seen the picture of the band on the cover)

T: This sounds exactly like Iron Maiden to me.

N: Don’t knock ‘em, they’re still selling records. But it’s a bit far fetched to think you can copy the same formula.

T: Who said I was knocking them? I was a huge Maidenite when I was about thirteen years old. Complete with scruffy badge laden denim jacket and greasy hair.

N: I remember knocking around with your lot then, when I was that age. It’s a wonder I’ve still got my hearing.

T: PARDON?

N: Give it a mark, denim boy... 6/10


 
 


Timo Maas - Loud (Perfecto)

N: This is the album I’ve most been looking forward to. Timo Maas, no regular DJ, has released this, his debut album in his own right. Going on the scale of the albums DJ’s are producing today, if you’re a fan of the more “street- cred” side of dance music, you too should hold the same anticipation.

T: For those who are less clued up on dance, Timo Maas is probably most famous for one particular single. Whmmph. Whmmph, it went, as you dealt a severe blow on your CD player thinking you must have spilt some jam from your toast onto the disc. Either you loved it or you hated it. there was no inbetween. That little ditty was entitled “Dooms Night”, performed by Azzido Da Bass and personally I hated it. However, that was just the man in question’s remix and NOT one of his own breed. The music herein has very much a film soundtrack feel to it and proves that Mr Maas has a major talent to share with the world.

N: Don’t you think the first track “Help Me” has a lot in common with Steve Austen and the Six Million Dollar Man theme tune? I have the feeling that with guys like this around, music may stilll have a saviour, and I am in no way a “dance head”.

T: I’ve heard people calling you something similar to that though.....just kidding. No, I have to agree, this has balls of Rover proportions.

N: Listening here, it’s clear that man has conquered the machine. What he’s able to do with the sounds and moods he creates is just amazing. I once owned a Timo Maas mix album, but this is in a different league. 9/10

 
 


Adema - Adema (Arista)

T: Sounds like Therapy? at the start.

N: Not what I was expecting, but boys, have you seen the doctor about that facial hair?

T: Er....they’re blokes Nick. We ARE supposed to get facial hair you know. And it’s time you moved into big trousers too, my good chap. This seems to be a more up to date kind of metal really.

N: I’d say there was more linking it to grunge than metal. They sound quite a bit like Faith No More.

T: Soundgarden as well, maybe? The inside cover of the album is interesting, with a picture of two nubile young ladies tied together...

N: I bet whoever took THAT photo was having some fun.....They seem to me, to be just guys doing what they know best, which is pretty good really. An edited version is also available....do they use some naughty words then?

T: It’s nothing that you haven’t used before! 8/10

 
 


Aqua Bassino - Beats N Bobs (7th Birthday)

N: Apparently their long awaited debut album, I know you’re going to hate this, but I’m lost in music.

T: Hmmm. Anyone who’s ever worked a twelve hour nightshift, and has tried to keep their eyes open with matchsticks whilst switching on the restroom tv will be only too aware that this is exactly the type of bloody music they stick on at three in the morning! Especially back in the days when ITV was the only all night channel. Bastards. Yes, you’re right - I am far from a fan, so the bulk of the resultant mark will be made up of points amassed in the Nick James scoring system.

N: I can see where you’re coming from there, but to be fair, I’ve NEVER had to work a twelve hour nightshift, so I don’t care! These are the kind of lullabies that assist my speed driven mind to shut down.

T: Can we shut this down now? (“Click”) 6/10

 
 


NPB - This Is Their Happening..... (CGG records)

From the melting pot that is Dublin, the 8-track mini album, ‘This Is My Happening and It xxxxx Me Up’, but what does the NPB represent? Well we are assured in the legal documentation that is does in fact translate as, “National Prayer Breakfast”, nope sorry none the wiser, or maybe this is meant to be seen as some sort of worship? Yeah, that must be it.

Anyway, this was in fact released at the back end of last year, but what of this 3 peice that has grabbed our attention by the balls and squeezed until we’ve winced? Well although this is only the first full length release on this side of the channel (Irish) and follows their debut single release, ‘Sadder Day Blues’ (which you won’t find here), this is in fact the groups second album (albeit mini). Their debut, ‘The Socialties Pefer Pop Music’ was released in their native Ireland, but I expect the reason for this is that the group are putting their music out on their self financed label, Catchy Go Go records. This may well surprise, as the group are producing ‘garage rock’, with influence taken from The Pixies and The Birthday Party, that although packed up and left centre stage long ago, live strong in the spirit of NPB.

Well that’s the introduction taken care of, but how did the panel feel?

N: Now, you’re going to like this one!

T: OK I ADMIT IT. I LIKE IT!!! Presumably you said that because of the Pixies influence, ahead of anything else. And yes, it has all the right ingredients to tickle my funny bone and keep me gagging for more.

N: Now don’t you half expect, on this opening track, for Clint Eastwood to walk in on proceedings? It’s all very Western.

T: Bloody hell! Look behind you, there he is!

N: I’ve told you to cut down those nights on whiz!

T: Anyway, I think they sound rather a lot like Terrorvision on “1,000 Helicopters” when they were at their peak, and that’s no bad thing. All the bands touted as major influences are very much in evidence here - Sonic Youth, Pavement, The Birthday Party and The Pixies. All to the good of course. It makes for an interesting and exciting album.

N: The band are, in their presentation, very dirty - as they crunch and grind their Las Paul through its paces. And I don’t know about you, but as we’re listening to the album, the picture that comes into my mind is Crazyhead’s Kev Reverb, his cowboy hat dipped low, crunching the same chords.

T: What a fantastic comparison. I’m speechless. Well not exactly speechless...

N: OK then, shut up and give me the floor!

T: I think we should just mark it.

N: Need we mark it? I think the evidence is clear that this album’s a winner! 9/10

 
 

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