Bombino – Deran

 

After a period spent enchanting Western audiences and employing Western producers and studios, Tuareg guitar master Bombino (given name, Omara Moctar) touches back down in Africa for his energetic sixth LP Deran. Championed by fans and fellow musicians across the globe for his glowing amalgam of desert blues and Hendrix– and Knopfler-inspired classic rock, the Niger native has enjoyed an impressive run since breaking through with his 2011 album Agadez. Extensive North American tours, U.S. festival appearances, collaborations with members of the Rolling Stones, and two acclaimed albums produced by Americans Dan Auerbach (the Black Keys) and Dave Longstreth(the Dirty Projectors) cemented his reputation as an artistic ambassador of the Tamasheq language and the geopolitical conflicts of his native land.

With DeranBombino largely leaves the West to its own concerns, heading instead to a Moroccan studio in Casablanca to record under the lighter touch of his manager, Eric Herman. The resulting ten-song set comes across as more open, honest, and generally unfiltered than either of his previous two outings. While the struggles of the Tuareg people are addressed on tracks like the hard-edged reggae rock of “Tehigren” and the meditative acoustic-led “Adouni Dagh,” the overall tone of Deran is more optimistic and celebratory. Spry opener “Imajghane” sings the praises of Tuareg resilience while the vibrant “Tamasheq” is a literal love letter to the beauty of his native language. The album’s title itself translates to “best wishes,” a sentiment delivered to a groom on the deeply percussive “Deran Deran Alkheir.” As an addition to Bombino‘s already sterling catalog, Deran is another excellent release and a natural continuation of his distinctive style.

The Senior Management – Heart & Soul

Album due to be released 18 May.

 

 

Zetterlund formed the rockband The Senior Management. Together they have been involved in different music project since the late 80’s. During the first half of the 90’s they collaborated in the band Y.M.I where they reached the finals in the Swedish championship of rock music.

In the mid 90’s Y.M.I played at a rock festival and was warm up act for Billionaires Boys Club who was headlining. Billionaires Boy Club was Jörg Fischer (Accept), Anders Johansson (Yngwie Malmsteen) Göran Edman (Yngwie Malmsten, John Norum) and Magnus Rosén (Hammerfall). Magnus was at the time in the beginning of his career and that later would bring him to several successful years with Hammerfall. Göran had recently left Yngwie Malmsteen band when he replaced Marc Boals in Billionaires Boys Club. During this rock festival, it was the first time we all met and none of us had any idea that we 20 years later would team up together as The Senior Management.

In order to find their sound they did some attempts with different voices like Tony Martin from Black Sabbath and Jeff Scott Soto from Journey, Talisman and more. However, all pieces fell into place after the first demo run with Göran. He finally added with his voice and amazing vocal harmonies the missing piece to complete our sound.

Some listeners say that The Senior Management sound like a blend of The Eagles and Thin Lizzy. Others have said they sound like Journey or Bon Jovi.

Well, the band simply call it Country Metal.

Ruby Boots – Don’t Talk About It

A natural chanteuse who possesses just the right blend of sass and savvy, Aussie-born singer Ruby Boots (aka Rebecca Louise “Bex” Chilcott) was a seeker from early on. After leaving home at the age of 16, she took off for the outer reaches of Australia’s west coast, eventually landing a job on a pearl fishing trawler. It was there where she started dabbling in guitar, and eventually writing songs. After adopting a new name, she embarked on a career that’s brought her numerous awards and a fan following as well.

Chilcott, or Ms. Boots if you will, previously released three EPs and a full length debut she christened Solitude. However, her new album, the tellingly named Don’t Talk About It, handily elevates her standing. A set of songs that dwell on the wreckage left in the wake of romance, it pointedly addresses those prone to all sorts of sexual manipulation. Granted, that kind of abuse is nothing new, but in view of recent headlines, the focus Boots finds here seems especially apt.

Boots is aided in her efforts by the astute backing of the band Texas Gentlemen and support from a kindred spirit, Nikki Lane, who co-wrote the title track and provides the backing vocal. However, the focus remains wholly on Boots throughout, thanks to a saucy delivery that turns each song into a clear statement of purpose. “Don’t Talk About It” offers an especially strong example of her swagger and defiance. The determined “I’ll Make It Through,” has her declaring “I’m more than you can handle,” turning a song about survival into a hard won ode to independence.

To be sure, these songs never find Boots in retreat. If her attitude is any indication, she remains steadfast and undaunted. “Infatuation,” “It’s So Cruel” and “Easy Way Out” come across with drive and insistence, ample indication that she’s not about to back down. Happily, she’s willing to lure her lover by offering assurance as well. “I am a believer, standing strong by your side, I’m a hand to hold on to when its too hard to climb,” she declares on the spare “I Am A Woman.” Unlike the defiance Helen Reddy once railed about on her similarly-named song, this is one instance where Boots finds no need to roar.

Ironically, the relatively subdued song that ends the set, “Don’t Give a Damn,” is also the most emphatic. Boots rebukes an unfaithful lover while dishing out her disdain. As it climbs to its crescendo, it becomes increasingly clear that Don’t Talk About It makes certain statements that definitely need to be said.

The Boxer Rebellion – ghost alive

Last year’s single ‘What The Fuck’ is a such a lush and mournful opener I had already been asking myself if Ghost Alive could be as good as some of last year’s US releases on the indie-rock scale of sentimental awesomeness, as its gentle strings and whistled outro sweep in on a wave of studio echo and the rest of the record holds up to scrutiny. If you are looking for major chords look elsewhere because this is an album recorded almost exclusively in minor scales. Grown up indie from a dark place. Not depressing, but beautifully realised melancholy.

Tim Buckley-like acoustic runs, simple piano and orchestration throughout conjure landscapes and firstfall. ‘Rain’ grows into an epic green screen of sound and ‘Fear’, with its falsetto, is like ice skating on a frozen lake while companion piece ‘Here I Am’ is a fast rolling terrain of dandelions and moss about falling back in love as spring breaks; its looping three-note piano motif has the natural reverb of a studio as big as the valleys. The overblown similes may be hackneyed but Ghost Alive is so evocative at times in its unconcealed ambition and panoramic reach the grandiose superlatives stick.

At others a workmanlike ballast presides over the chamberal and funereal and this is reflective of the underlying theme, since frontman Nathan Nicholson lost both his parents and his unborn child the band have teamed up with CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably) to help spread a message of hope. So, it’s not quite Chris Martin penning Paradise.
Previous Boxer Rebellion albums have suffered in the face of Coldplay-without-the-hooks type criticism and there still remains a lack of an obvious centrepiece despite ‘Love Yourself’ growing gracefully into a ‘Streets of Philadelphia’ moment on any other album but perhaps diluted by the overarching stratospherics of this one.

While the Tim Buckley thing never really goes away the scope and thoroughness, for want of a better word, of Ghost Alive is breath-taking. The gentle brass on ‘Don’t Ever Stop’ is so out of place it takes us out of the story altogether and we are now on the outside looking in (or like recalling a vivid dream) and you suddenly realise how absorbing this record is. Or on ‘River’; again those acoustic runs, an old man looks back on his life still dreaming of being led to the sea from his Steinbeckian perch as the melancholy prevails stopping just short of dipping into a true sadness. A sense of guilt runs through the whole record, as you might surmise given the source material, and it’s only on closer ‘Goodnight’, a simple acoustic lullaby, that this burden is perhaps both literally and figuratively put to bed.

For sure, it’s not going to be the most original album of the year but on this, the band’s sixth, The Boxer Rebellion have hit upon something timeless and placeless, poignant and gorgeous.

Rumahoy – The Triumph Of Piracy

Hello me mateys! Gather around and grab an ale, for today we parley about the new swashbucklers walking the plank, Rumahoy!

Rumahoy, (“hell yeah, we found alcohol guys!”, for those of you who don’t speak the pirate tongue), is one of the debut bands coming into existence right at the fresh beginning of 2018, and it’s not a direction, I assume everybody was aware of.

 

The band is a 4 piece, pirate themed fusion between power and thrash metal, who take upon the high seas and sing their tales loud enough to reach the furthest of lands. The line up consists of a very solid crew going by the names of Captain Yarrface as frontman, Bootsman Walktheplank riffing the guitars, Cabin Boy Treasurequest on bass and Swashbuckling Pete on the drum kit.

 

As for the treasure they bring forward, their debut album is promptly titled ‘The Triumph of Piracy’, is a perfectly organized nine track record packed with riffing, folk instrumentation and melodic choruses much along the lines of KorpiklaaniEquilibriumFintroll, and fellow sealubbers Alestorm, whom they tour with this year.

The album starts off with the opening “AHOY!”, a fairly jivey introduction of the crew on deck by the Captain himself. “Quest for Heritage” has guitars on the spotlight being the most melodic track in the record, and tracks like “Forest Party” and “Huffman the Pirate King” have sea shanty- styled choruses, which have fun easy hooks, perfect for sing alongs like ones in the pirate’s fantasies of being shipwrecked on an island of mermaids.

While the songs are lively and upbeat, I feel the lyrics could do a lot more better, especially much better than the repetitive use of the word ‘Yarr’, to an extent where a few usages make no sense, and the repeated mentions of finishing the rum across every song. (Or is this all a part of the Pirate avatar?)

“Netflix and Yarr” (again, Yarr usage as mentioned) takes all the cake for being the most random, yet catchiest song the album has to offer, with no correlation to the rest of the pirate tales involved. The album bids farewell with the title track which after 5 minutes, fades back into a headbanging rhythm while the Bootsman shreds over the guitar only to be kicked back into the chorus, “War in the sea, War in the sand, this is the triumph of piracy!”

 

Overall, Rumahoy has dropped a fairly fine anchor for its debut record, with lots of space to improve as more tales of the sea come along. The choruses surely will keep the party grooving, and will serve as the perfect comrade in making every road trip sound a little extra adventurous.

‘The Triumph of Piracy’ is a headbanging record flowing with treasure, battles at sea, and lots of rum! Apart from it being a metal album, it’ll surely be appreciated by people in pirate-based fandoms. Works best alongside a huge group of drunk people

Poor Man’s Wiskey – Juniper Mountain

A concept album about a psychological journey that unfolds as the album develops, it is filled with pain and regret but also a universal story of great hope and love that can carry us through difficult times.

Album Notes
The concept of Juniper Mountain began in the year 2001 with two instrumentals (“Red Haired Boy” and “The Ballad of Seamus O’Mally”) and the idea of creating a concept album about these two separated lovers and the plight of the protagonist. The story centers around his journey from Ireland to America to earn money to marry, but he is immediately drafted off the boat into the Civil War. From there he battles with psychological impacts from the war as he works his way ultimately to San Francisco. It is a story filled with pain and regret..but also a universal story of a great hope and love that can carry us through difficult times. This is a journey that unfolds as the album develops. It is a throwback to yesteryear when albums were listened to in their entirety and that get better the more it is dug into.

Baxter Stone – Slowburning

Baxter’s music is a journey that visits blues, bluegrass, alt-country and rock and has been known to write a pop song with a mean left hook.

Baxter Stone is an Australian musician who has played in bands from Adelaide to London. Adelaide Bands Primitive Painters, Puppethead and Melbourne Bands Lipstick Jack, Two Dollar Moon being the most notable with forged a duelling guitar with singer songwriter Jim Gamack.

Slowburning is the result of a collaboration with Baxter Stone and Alun Lane. While Baxter was living in London.

The two musicians met at an open mic jam night in London that Baxter was hosting and built the album from single solo performances recorded by Baxter originally as demos and instrumentation was added by Alun Lane.

Alun Lane is a London born and bred musician a session guitarist and multi instrumentalist who contributed drums, bass, guitar, keyboards and various instruments to the compositions.

Baxter also plays some additional bass, guitar and keyboards.
David Williams plays bass on some tracks