Somewhere near the end of 2015, Tom Baker (of Boston band Dirty Truckers) rallied round the troops and formed a side project, Tom Baker and The Snakes. A filthy and sloppy three guitar assault, The Snakes featured another face from the Truckers and the guitarist from Watts (albeit switching to drums!), alongside members of Gymnasium and Family Township. The resultant ‘4 Stars‘ EP flaunted a love of the Stones and The Replacments throughout and band’s shamelessly gritty sound represented the musical equivalent of diesel and dirt.
At the beginning of the second quarter of 2016, David Pattillo (aka Strange Majik) released ‘Raised On Rock ‘n’ Roll’, an exploration of rock and blues styles that celebrated a love of music. It was arguably the best album released that year.
As he then set about busying himself with other extra curricular projects, it seemed fair to think there wouldn’t be any more new music from Mr. Majik for a time. …And then, in March 2017, he dropped a new EP without any real prior warning. Why the need to follow up such a great work so quickly? Simply put, the awful political climate in the US inspired Pattillo to make his thoughts public. In his own words: “We got a soul crisis. USA 2017. A white power machine in the white house and a protector seems nowhere in sight. Don’t let the demagogue get you down. Get out and represent your people, show your love, and keep the faith.”
Miles Read is a blues oriented singer songwriter from sunny San Francisco. With his band The Trip, he exhibits a broad spectrum of talents on his 2017 release and the six tracks on ‘Ofertas’ are steeped in tradition. In just over half an hour, Read explores various types of blues, a little Americana and sometimes even a deep and spooky sound that echoes the both the heartbreak of UK performer Charlotte Carpenter and the moodier aspects of Old House Playground warming up. Right from first listen, this release asserts itself as a fantastic one.
Ramsgate is a seaside town in east Kent, once famous for the docks, its hovercraft trips and a town horse. It still boasts an impressive harbour, but often gets overlooked in favour of Margate – its arguably more famous brother – situated just along the coast. Ramsgate also home to alt-rock two-piece Black Initials, a band whom bring a mixture of garage based sounds on their debut EP. Continue reading
The first Styx album (self-titled, 1972) is an overlooked slab of pomp rock. It’s not a masterpiece by any stretch of the imagination, but any band wishing to open their debut long player with a thirteen minute epic fusing hard rock with flourishes of Aaron Copland and what sounds like a conversation with a New York cabbie must have something, right? With that track, ‘Movement For The Common Man’, Styx announced their arrival in a typically grand style. The rest of the album, while nowhere near as complete sounding as 1977’s ‘Grand Illusion’ or as obviously song oriented as any of the albums from then onward, still makes for interesting listening decades after its original release. 1973’s ‘Styx II’, by contrast, is a more sedate affair – sedate in the world of early Styx means still very much still pompous and overblown – but, naturally, a bigger input from vocalist/pianist Dennis DeYoung, brought with it a much stronger element of musical theatre.
With these two records as a solid grounding, the band went all out for their next long player ‘The Serpent Is Rising’. Released in October 1973 – the third Styx LP to hit the shelves in just eighteen months – it has to be said, it has less of a focus than its predecessors. It doesn’t sound as if Styx had been tempted to use up leftover material though, rather more that this time out, the gloves were truly off. Coming from the days when bands were allowed to spend record company money (no matter how meagre a budget) while still very much on a learning curve, it sounds as if Styx intended to throw everything at this recording bar the kitchen sink to find out, once and for all, what styles worked for them…and which ones really didn’t.