Between 2013 and 2019, The Hallingtons released a string of EPs that slowly found them perfecting their own homage to Ramones. Hundreds of bands had recorded in a similar style before, but few had managed to capture the early sounds from Joey and Johnny quite as perfectly as The Hallingtons’ ‘Hexed’, proving the world was more than ready for the Norwegian punks to deliver a full length musical assault.
Somewhere around the peak of the first UK pandemic lockdown, Gramma Vedetta released their second EP. More than just another short collection of rock tracks, the London based outfit’s ‘A.C.I.D. Compliant’ actually acted as a snapshot in time, with the brilliant ‘Lucid Dream’ providing a musical diary of those tumultuous days in a very direct fashion. Backing up that obvious highlight, listeners were also reminded of their psychedelic and stoner influences, leading to a short but very effective listen.
It’s 8:30 on a Friday night and Venus Grrrls have just taken to the stage at Ramsgate Music Hall. The Leeds band are unknown to most of the audience, but it’s great to witness the venue already packed to the rafters. If this were a London gig, most of the paying crowd would still be in a nearby pub, or standing in the venue bar talking, and paying the musicians very little attention. The seaside crowd are often more thoughtful and, looking at the gathering tonight, this is no exception. It actually feels even more crowded than when Electric Six and Red Snapper played at the small venue at the end of 2021. At a time when people are still concerned about Coronavirus, or the cost of living has made casual nights out difficult for many, it’s a sight that really restores hope.
Graham Bonnet has always been prolific. Since the release of his self-titled album in 1977, he has barely stopped recording and touring, but the few years in the run up to this third release from Graham Bonnet Band has seen Skegness’s most famous export take on a phenomenal amount of work for a man in his 70s.
Beginning with 2016’s double set ‘The Book’, the veteran vocalist began a late career gold run, with that album presenting some massive new tunes alongside some tight re-workings from his past, creating a great release suitable for both the big fan and the more curious listener. He then played a one off show with a reformed Alcatrazz in Japan, and recorded with both Michael Schenker and Ezoo, before 2018’s ‘Meanwhile…Back In The Garage’ saw Graham and his band sometimes rocking out in a more casual way, but still delivering the goods in terms of riffs and hooks. At a point where most performers might consider stepping back to admire their handiwork, Bonnet then revived Alcatrazz again, toured, and eventually released the critically acclaimed ‘Born Innocent’ – the first new studio work from the band in almost thirty five years.
Best known as the organist with jazz collective Snarky Puppy, Bobby Sparks II released a particularly grand solo debut with ‘Schizophrenia: The Yang Project’ in 2018. A lengthy two disc affair, the album took in elements of jazz, funk, pop, soul and rap to create a listen that was varied, but eventually uncovered a selection of tracks that – depending on where you dropped the needle – could appeal to heavy jazz fusionists, lovers of Herbie Hancock’s dance oriented 90s releases, those on a nostalgia trip with an old Arrested Development album, or even a few Prince fans.