“Ah. What’s that, K-9? A huge sound coming from that far off nebula? Things might get rocky, so you’d better stay and guard the TARDIS.” It’s hard not to hear the name Tom Baker and not visualise a curly-haired, long-scarfed eccentric and his camp robot dog, isn’t it? Well, joking aside, here’s a different Tom Baker for you: a Boston native primed and ready to crack your skulls with a semi-raucous three guitar assault. To kick off 2016, Baker, sometime member of The Dirty Truckers, has teamed up with various other Boston alumni – fellow Trucker John Brookhouse (g/v); Gymnasium’s Charles Hansen (g), John Sheeran of Family Township (bass) and Watts’ tub thumper John Blout, all of whom are on hand to bring more than a touch of their own Stones obsessed style on three very sweaty and shamelessly retro numbers.
Since their formation in 2009, French punks The Shapers seemed to constantly be on the road. Their high energy melodic sound saw them travel the globe – including a visit to Thailand – and also score high profile support slots with classic bands Pennywise, NOFX, Face To Face and others, all without the aid of an extensive back-catalogue.
Wakefield’s Climbing Alice mix various alt-rock styles into a sound they self-bill as Alt-Popp. For the average listener, what this actually means is that they’ve taken a slab of post-grunge guitar noise, a generous helping of goth and a pinch of shoegazey jangle and come out winning. There mightn’t be anything overtly new about this band’s music, but – as evidenced upon this debut EP – it’s all played with a fiery passion…and most importantly, it’s got the riffs.
On this 2016 release, among other things, Sam Alone sets out to recount tales of blue collar strife. Armed with a booming voice and a guitar he calls his “working class rifle”, the Portuguese performer could possibly be accused of trying just that little bit too hard to appeal to the working class listener. And with an obvious love of Springsteen, his sounds are familiar sounds enough, but does he – and his band The Gravediggers – have what it takes to make an impression, especially treading a path so many have stomped down before?
Working through a variety of styles and inflences on their debut EP, Buckinghamshire’s Rhyn are an interesting band. At first, their music displays a heaviness, but as ‘Absence’ plays through, each passing number shows a slightly different aspect to their songcraft. Here is a band who are capable of complexity, but understands that complexity for the sake of it just isn’t that interesting (Dream Theater, please take note). And although they prove straight away they can be crunchy and a little arty (as per Hawk Eyes and the earliest Biffy Clyro), at least one of their members understands the overriding importance of a chorus.