FIREWALKER – Firewalker

When Firewalker plug their debut release as “hardcore”, the four piece band from Boston means it in every sense. With numbers ranging from metallic crossover arrangements to an extreme crust-punk assault, the fierce sounds they make aren’t always about hooks; the band’s sound should be viewed as a blistering attack, driven by buzzsaw guitar lines and husky vocal growls. Looking at the bigger picture though, there’s enough variety within their material to suggest they’re about more than hashing out old grindcore and crust influences and considering that a job well done.

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In an age where there are a billion singer songwriters out there and a little of Nashville rubs off onto so many of them infusing the rock and the pop with country (seemingly the only way some feel they can make the big time), it’s surprising to discover a performer from Nashville who isn’t quite so beholden to America’s core musical style. Step forward Hannah Fairlight, a woman who not only mixes 80s rock and 90s singer-songwriter styles on her 2015 release, but also revels in unfashionable 80s AOR moods that are quite unexpected. Wrapped up in a knowing title, ‘Bright Future’ cares not for fashion and in some ways should be all the better for that. However, it doesn’t care for consistency or honesty either.

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NORDLAND – European Paganism

Two years on from ‘Songs of Regression’, UK pagan metallers Nordland really upped the stakes for their forth album ‘European Paganism’. Not only does the album boast a better production value than before, but the band have taken their love of extended tracks to their very logical extreme. Whereas their previous few records offered at least two ten minute workouts, ‘European Paganism’ outdoes them all by presenting just three tracks within a near forty five minute span, with the opening number taking up the best part of half an hour.

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PEZBAND – Women & Politics EP

Cheap Trick, The Knack and Nick Lowe might be the best known names from the late 70s power pop boom, but the genre and its various micro-scenes saw recordings and releases from other musical heroes between 1975-1980 just as worthy of attention. Fusing power pop and a spikier edge, The Real Kids’ debut is one of the greatest proto-punk discs ever; Earth Quake’s bombast showed the craft of gifted musicians; Fotomaker took the late 70s pop sound and made it even more retro by filtering it through a smoother vocal…and then there was PezBand. With a knack for bouncy tunes rivalled only by The Knack themselves, possession of quirky harmonies straight out of the school of Cheap Trick perfection and a natural gift for a chorus, PezBand were special.

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Following the release of 1997’s ‘Mouth To Mouth’ – arguably the Levellers’ most commercial album to date – the band found themselves at a career high. That long-player spawned the massive hit single ‘What a Beautiful Day’, which although fell just short of the UK top ten singles chart, became one of their best-known and enduring songs, leading to extensive radio play. As part of the promotion for that single, various TV appearances were also made.  The Levellers were arguably at their most visible to the general public.  Following a greatest hits package and more touring, Mark, Jeremy and company retreated to concentrate on writing new material. Continue reading