HOT PRESS ALBUM REVIEW: RAGLANS

18 04 2014

Here’s a reprint of my review of the ace new Raglans LP that ran in Hot Press a couple of issues ago.

RAGLANS

Raglans (Independent Records LTD)

9/10

Key Track: ‘Natives’

DUBLINERS’ HAVE LOTS OF ACES UP THEIR SLEEVES.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4bIPSexK6_M

Hailed by both Irish and UK press as being a band on the cusp of very big things indeed, Dublin four-piece Raglans have a lot riding on their self-titled debut record. In fact, there has been an almost tangible weight of expectation resting on their shoulders, with many eager to see if they can take things to the next level. Hearteningly, Raglans does all that and more and the 11 track record is an affirmation that their last few years of blood, sweat and tears haven’t been in vain.

 

Very much a party record and an ode to youth, ambition and cheap cider, the band, who named themselves after the Patrick Kavanagh poem ‘On Raglan Road,’ rarely waste a note on the record. Musically informed by the likes of General Fiasco, Two Door Cinema Club and Jake Bugg (when he’s not being sulky), the opus is a stellar, starry-eyed effort which has world-beater written all over it. Packed with hooks (‘White Lightning’) surprises (the guitar-work on ‘DOWN’ is a little Cure-like) and an infectious feeling of optimism (“This could be the start of something new” offers Stephen Kelly on the incendiary ‘Digging Holes’), Raglans is one of the strongest, most self-assured debuts I’ve heard in years and if you’re not singing along with the sublime gang vocals on ‘Fake Blood’ and ‘Natives’ within seconds of hearing it, you really shouldn’t be reading this magazine.

MARCH 21

EDWIN McFEE

 





METAL HAMMER ALBUM REVIEW: SKULL FIST

31 03 2014

Here’s a reprint of my review of the ace new Skull Fist album that ran in Metal Hammer.

 

SKULL FIST

CHASING THE DREAM

NOISEART RECORDS

New wave of traditional heavy metal types Skull Fist first introduced themselves in 2011 with the brilliant but boldly titled Heavier Than Metal EP and it’s safe to say that over the last three years the quartet have been doing their very best to challenge Wolverine for the title of “Canada’s most metal export.” This month they unveil their second album Chasing The Dream and it sees the Jackie Slaughter-led band step things up a gear as the nine track effort is rammed with great riffs and Godzilla-sized choruses. Unashamedly indebted to the likes of Skid Row, 80s-era Maiden and Accept, Call Of The Wild, Bad For Good and You’re Gonna Pay are particular highlights thanks to some impossibly high vocals, duelling guitar leads and anthemic hooks and only the meandering instrumental Shred’s Not Dead fails to impress. Fun, fast-paced and fresh (despite the classic influences), Skull Fist’s second album packs a considerable punch and showcases a group at the very peak of their powers and ready to conquer the world. [8]

EDWIN McFEE

 





HOT PRESS ALBUM REVIEW: WINDINGS/LAND LOVERS

28 03 2014

Here’s a reprint of my unedited review of the Windings/Land Lovers split album that ran in Hot Press a few months ago.

 

WINDINGS/LAND LOVERS

Windings/Land Lovers (OOAL/Popical Island)

8/10

Key Track: ‘Spiral Stairs/Matilda’

IRISH BANDS FORM UNBEATABLE TAG TEAM.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rcnOtxYvgHo

This issue, Limerick’s Windings and Dublin’s Land Lovers release a special split album via the good people of OOAL Records and Popical Island and, as you might have expected from a team-up that would make Stan Lee himself say “Hold on boys, maybe this is a little too titanic,” the union of two of Ireland’s best and brightest bands and labels has yielded some impressive results. Featuring 11 tracks, the one-off, self-titled opus showcases both bands at their best and in vintage form throughout.

Windings kick off proceedings with four numbers, opening their account with ‘Bladerubber,’ which is a brooding slice of fuzzed up indie rock that has a guitar sound similar to Pinkerton-era Weezer, before really stepping things up a gear with the gorgeous, lonely-hearted, David Gedge-esque ‘Spiral Stairs.’ The sci-fi-tinged, pop punk single ‘Neverwood’ and scuzzy stomper ‘Bang Bang Normal Man’ round off their first new material since the 2012-released I Am Not The Crow in rousing fashion and leave us more than a little eager to get our hands on their next LP, sooner rather than later.

Land Lovers do most of the heavy lifting on the opus, providing seven songs altogether and the tunes on offer prove the quintet haven’t lost their knack for crafting alt pop gems. Highlights include ‘Matilda,’ which has an unforgettable chorus that will have you “Woah-oh-oh-ing” in your sleep and ‘Close Embrace’ which is a shimmering, 50s-indebted sock hop anthem full of snare snaps and sweet calypso guitars, but most of the quintet’s fiendishly catchy contributions are of a typically high standard.

EDWIN McFEE

FEB 28

 





Guardians Of The Galaxy Trailer

19 02 2014

By now I’m sure most of you have seen the new trailer for the GOTG film.

If you loved it,then click on this link about Rocket Raccoon creator Bill Mantlo http://www.gregpak.com/love-rocket-raccoon-please-consider-donating-to-writer-bill-mantlos-ongoing-care/





LEGOOOOOOO

31 01 2014

I have to say, I was dubious about the Lego Movie, but these new trailers look great.





Bye Bye 2013

31 12 2013

Well, here we are again…the final night of the year. 2013 turned out to be a crazy busy one, but a really fuckin’ fun one too. There were loads of gigs, some great music and I did some of my favourite interviews to date. What follows below is some photos that summed up the year, the usual end of year albums/singles lists and other bits and pieces.

Thanks to all the bands, promoters, PRs and mates who hooked me up with records, gigs and good times.Here’s to 2014!

2013: The Year In Photos (and the odd You Tube linky).

2013 kicked off with a trip to Derry to cover Other Voices. The Tourist Board hooked me up with my own suite at the hotel. I felt like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman (without doing the sexy stuff for cash-money obviously…)

I got to hang out with the Hardcore Legend (and Mick Foley). That’s a joke for my big brother…

I got FREE comics!

Was on the telly (again).

Said goodbye to Roberto.Sniff.

Headed back to Derry for One Big Weekend.

Sampled the delights of the private box of the Olympia while watching the Gaslight Anthem.

Caught up with the Kings Of Leon

Had a blast at the Dublin Comics International Expo *insert Greg Capullo fanboy scream here*

Said goodbye to Clive Burr. R.I.P.

Had a great time interviewing wrestlers like Fandango and Dolph Ziggler

And of course meeting them too (backstage at the Odyssey)

Witnessing the resurrection of Rocket From The Crypt and Black Sabbath was especially ace too.

Aaaanndddddd I finally got my hands of the Iron Maiden beer!

And lastly, but certainly not, um, leastly, here’s my top 20 albums of the year, plus tracks of the year!

Albums of the Year (in order). 

Valient Thorr ‘Our Own Masters’

Pure Love ‘Anthems’

The Night Marchers ‘Allez Allez’

Clutch ‘Earthrocker’

More Than Conquerors ‘Everything I’ve Learnt’

Best Coast ‘Fade Away’

Dropkick Murphys ‘Signed and Sealed In Blood’

Paramore ‘Paramore’

Chvrches ‘The Bones Of What You Believe’

Jetplane Landing ‘Don’t Try’

Vista Chino ‘Peace’

Wild Belle ‘Isles’

Haim ‘Days Are Gone’

The Silver Seas ‘Alaska’

Disclosure ‘Settle’

Yeah Yeahs Yeahs ‘Mosquito’

Motorhead ‘Aftershock’

Deap Vally ‘Sistrionix’

White Denim ‘Corsicana Lemonade’

The Answer ‘New Horizon’

 

Singles of the Year

Paramore ‘Still Into You’

Rihanna ‘Stay’

Tegan and Sara ‘Closer’

Chrvches ‘The Mother We Share’

Haim ‘Forever’

Empty Lungs ‘Running In Circles’

Katy Perry ‘Roar’

Chvrches ‘Gun’

Iggy Azalea ‘Work’

The Silver Seas ‘I’m The One’





HOT PRESS LIVE REVIEW: ROCKET FROM THE CRYPT

11 12 2013

Well, my amazing plan of whacking up rakes (yes, #rakes) of stuff worked out well, eh? Yup, got snowed under with deadlines again…

Anywho, here’s a review of the insanely good RFTC gig in Dublin from the weekend (which originally ran here http://www.hotpress.com/Rocket-From-The-Crypt/music/reviews/live/Live-Review-Rocket-From-The-Crypt-at-the-Button-Factory-Dublin/10643037.html ).

 

Live Review: Rocket From The Crypt at the Button Factory, Dublin

After teasing us with an all too brief reunion for kids TV show Yo Gabba Gabba, then downright torturing us with an Irish gig announcement and then promptly postponing the date earlier this year, tonight, in front of a packed Button Factory in Dublin, the absolutely seminal Rocket From The Crypt make their long awaited return to these shores and with all due respect to that bearded bloke from Bethlehem and those dudes with the bucket hats from Manchester, the resurrection of RFTC is the only second coming that this Hot Press writer is interested in.

 

Clad in matching mariachi-inspired stage clothes and looking like they may very well be real life vampires (hey, they do have a song called ‘I Drink Blood’ after all….), the age-defying San Diego natives’ set this evening features cuts from all eras of the band. ‘Straight American Slave, ‘Sturdy Wrists’ and ‘I Know’ are all aired within the first 15 minutes-ensuring no ass is left unkicked-and when they play the near perfect ‘Panic Scam’ a couple of songs afterwards, the punk-imbued rock ‘n’ roll group have already given us the gig of the year and they haven’t even been onstage for half an hour yet.

 

Frontman Speedo is in fine fettle (“Who here’s from Florida?” he asks during ‘Killy Kill.’ “I fuckin’ hate Florida” he then responds, proving that the old ones are indeed the best) and the sax and trumpet playing of Apollo 9 and JC 2000 respectively sounds as righteous as ever (particularly on ‘Made For You’), but guitarist ND is our man of the match thanks to some blistering solos and ace axe-balancing skills (all while battling an amp that seems to struggle with that “big sound of Rocket From The Crypt”).

 

Speaking of sound issues, there are a few moments where the brass is a little muffled and their singer’s voice is a bit raspy as it’s the last night of the tour, but ultimately they power on through and deliver a tour de force of soul-infused, garage rock. We even get treated to Rocket’s very own version of the Makarena at one point during ‘Come See Come Saw’ (who doesn’t love the Makarena?) and ‘I’m Not Invisible’ reminds us that the boys know how to deliver a diabolically catchy hook.

 

“Thanks for not forgetting about us,” says Speedo as they wave their goodbyes and while we’re touched by his modesty, there was never any doubt that RFTC would ever leave our minds. Gig of the year. Give it up for the band!

Edwin McFee

 








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