ALBUM REVIEW: Pearl Jam – Gigaton

The inevitable march towards environmental destruction and a certain perma-tanned incumbent of The White House have lit a spark under Pearl Jam, in part inspiring new album Gigaton (Monkeywrench Records/Republic Records). “The lengths we had to go to then, to find a place Trump hadn’t fucked up yet” Eddie Vedder spits on ‘Quick Escape’, a moody, mid-paced rocker about an environmentally ravaged future. The restrained and subtle power of ‘Seven O’Clock’ is another reaction to modern America, saying that now is not the time for despondency given the situation and “sitting bullshit as our sitting president”. Continue reading

Tom Morello Launches “Guitar Revolution” Music Camp For 2020

Guitar legend Tom Morello (Rage Against The Machine, Prophets of Rage, Audioslave, Bruce Springsteen) has launched a new destination music camp, Guitar Revolution! Starting January 2nd, 2020 fans will be able to learn from and hang out with Morello, Nuno Bettencourt, John 5, Wayne Kramer, Vernon Reid, Bibi McGill, and Billy Howerdel. Taking place in Newport Beach, California, January 2nd to 6th 2020. Watch Morello explain the experience and book your stay at the link below. Continue reading

The Struts – Young and Dangerous

With the resurgence of Classic Rock, bands like The Temperance Movement, Monster Truck and recently Greta Van Fleet, and the imminent release of the Bohemian Rhapsody film it is the perfect time for something new from The Struts. Formed in 2012, they are a four piece Rock band with an undimmed love for Queen, The Darkness and The Rolling Stones. Continue reading

Watch Bruce Springsteen Perform With Social Distortion At Sea Hear Now Festival

Last night at the Sea Hear Now Festival in New Jersey, local legend and Rock And Roll Hall of Famer Bruce Springsteen joined headliners Social Distortion for a short set of Social D originals and covers. Watch the fan-filmed footage right now! Continue reading

The Menzingers – After The Party

Pennsylvania’s masters of melody are back for their third album for Epitaph. If you know The Menzingers, this record is not a departure from where they were heading with their last record, Rented World, and if you’re new to them, embrace the catchiness, great lyrics, and insightfulness of After The Party. Continue reading

Blackberry Smoke – Holding All The Roses

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I have a musical comfort zone. And it’s all the way over there with the Jackson Flying V’s and double-bass drums. It may even include some spandex (not on me, though…) Yet here I am, sitting here, rocking on the porch (sofa), nodding along to the Southern vibes of Atlanta, Georgia’s Blackberry Smoke and their fourth album Holding All The Roses (Earache).  And I’m more than fine with that.

Following the critical and commercial success of The Whippoorwill (Earache/Southern Ground) would have daunting to many bands, but not the Smoke, who shacked up with mega-producer Brendan O’Brien (Pearl Jam, AC/DC, Bruce Springsteen). Any fears that such a hit-maker would sterilize their sound are quickly dispersed by the laidback singalong to ‘Let Me Help You Find The Door’ and it’s rock n’ roll shamble. The title track shuffles in next, picking up the beat, with some clean guitar fingerpicking and a more uptempo come-and-join-us chorus. Whereas the temptation could have been to seek the big bucks and accidentally fall into the trap of producing sanitized radio rock, instead Blackberry Smoke have infused their music with even more of a traditional Southern flavour, and, boy, does it suit.

Blackberry Smoke are no gimmick band, just a class one with their hearts in yesteryear and a love of venerable records, releasing an album full of simple pleasures; of pure, excellent songs. There are many highlights, the pick of which are the two melancholy numbers, the deeper, bluesier ‘Woman In The Moon’, where Charlie Starr’s lazy delivery comes into its own, and ‘No Way Back To Eden’ (a track I’d have been tempted to close the album on), both of which prove the quintet have that added depth all the best have. In amongst the swathes of Creedence Clearwater Revival (and several other subtle references I’m too unschooled to know) ‘Too High’ is wistful country and ‘Rock and Roll Again’ is the sound of the Deep South ripping on Status Quo and Lynyrd Skynyrd’s ‘Call Me The Breeze’, while ‘Payback’s A Bitch’ has a work-shy hook that will infect you like sidewinder venom, as Holding All The Roses unfurls it’s kick-ass blues rock beauty with a smile.

I’ll level. If Blackberry Smoke weren’t on Earache, the chances are high I wouldn’t have been interested in checking them out. Chances are also as good as getting a 7+ on a 15 hand in pontoon we wouldn’t be included them in the hallowed digi-pages of the good ship Ghost Cult without the same, or similar, connection. And we’d have missed out on a warm, chilled out doozy, so hats off to Dig and all concerned for branching out and expanding their traditional net. I’m delighted they did. I’m not going to go off and dive into a whole other musical genre, but I’m glad the Smoke have entered my life and my music collection. They won’t be for everyone who frequents a metal site, but they should be for people who value unassuming good rock songs.

If there is justice out there, the winds will spread the Blackberry pollen far and wide.

 

8.5/10

Blackberry Smoke on Facebook

 

STEVE TOVEY

From The Mouths Of Madness – An Interview With Orchid

Orchid 1Vintage rock and metal is quite the rage nowadays. One of the leading bands in the genre is San Francisco-based Orchid. Bassist Keith Nickel was keen to tell us more about his upcoming new album, his views on the rising popularity of vinyl and his personal secrets on how to survive the rigours of touring. Continue reading