John Scarlata began his journey as a guitarist in the 90s as a young man who wanted to “jam along with his favourite metal songs”. His talents grew, and eventually he’d mastered the art of fretboard manipulation, but any musical success was slow in presenting itself. Eventually, he self-released a debut track, ‘Metal-Baby’, via Bandcamp, which showed him to be someone capable of wielding a really big musical tone. The track’s multi-layered guitar sound and influences from old thrash tracks were a classic metal fan’s dream. Unfortunately, Scarlata’s vocal did the recording no favours. At odds with some great riffs and shredding elements, he sounded like a man shouting on a mobile phone’s answering machine.
Best known as the guitarist with Europe on their ‘Out of This World’ and ‘Prisoners In Paradise’ albums (released in 1988 and 1991, respectively) Kee Marcello is no stranger to the world of melodic rock. Although his time as a member of hit-makers Europe was brief, his impact on the band’s sound was significant; his soloing on parts of ‘Out of This World’ in particular singled him out as being a gifted player with a great tone. Throughout the next two decades, Marcello worked extensively with other artists, racking up guest credits on dozens of rock albums, as well as embarking on an oft-overlooked solo career.
It takes more than guitar reverb and a perceived cooler-than-you retro attitude to make great music. Sadly, Seattle’s Acid Tongue haven’t really understood that. The bulk of their 2016 EP ‘Beautiful Disaster’ is an echo drenched, hipster baiting mess that relies far more on style than substance. Only one of the four featured tracks is worth hearing more than once: if not for the presence of the half-decent ‘Twisted’, ‘Beautiful Disaster’ would be a complete disaster.
A virtuoso of the acoustic guitar, Stuart Masters creates a sound that’s been likened to Nick Drake and Syd Barrett. It seems odd that so many artistes would be compared to Barrett, given that his rather scant post-Floyd output borders on the disturbing. Aside from just about managing to string a few chords together, Barrett could all too often be heard mumbling through nonsensical lyrics he seems to only barely remember. This fourth release from Masters, the wonderful ‘Mystic Blue & The Black Balloon’, is nothing like Syd. It’s sometimes possible to hear why comparisons have been made to Drake, however, for Stuart is very fond of a finger picked style and almost pastoral moods – but the combination of his dexterous playing, loops and layered approach to most things is sometimes closer in spirit to another guitarist…and one from more recent times. It might be fair to say that fans of Matt Stevens will find an instant kinship with Masters and his complex soundscapes.
For most people, the arrival of a new year often means a time of change, of looking forward; a time to embrace new ideas and new projects. This is especially true for Damo Fawsett, a hard-working guitarist who recently parted ways with his band Slam Cartel. He already has various new projects underway. At the beginning of January 2016, he stopped by at Real Gone to tell us all about them…