Album Review: Feeder -Torpedo (2022, Big Teeth)

Posted on by Gary in Albums, Reviews | Leave a comment


I had heard of, but never heard Feeder. Even though they have been around for a few years, their latest album, Torpedo, released back in March from their pandemic backlog material, is the first to reach my ears.

The duo gets right to the point from the get go on this album full of redemptive intentions. Opener “The Healing” calls for people to unite and work towards a better state of affairs. But to be honest, it could have been lifted out of Al Gore’s mouth and flash frozen back in 2002. It is about as effective a Demolition Man as Stallone was – surprisingly fresh every 25 years. While I recognize the sentiments and any urgent attention is good attention, when the message is wrapped in the sugary lyrics, it is a bit much, especially in the midst of a pandemic. Especially given we had, over these decades, torpedoed repeated plans to tackle actual contributors of the clusterfuck we find ourselves in like climate catastrophe, habitat destruction, etc. A call-to-arms from the backdrop of international tours within the resource sapping frenzy of pop concerts seem a somewhat cynical route for promoting unity.

Maybe I misunderstand the entire perspective. (Power) grunge has always been a mystery to me: how can hyper-charged guitar riffs be a good medium for anything else but a call for triple -scripts of Adderall? Where is the dynamic potential for a range of expressions, when one is already flying in the stratosphere? Every twist and turn seems the same high altitude bank in a 747: however unexpected, always stately and safely within the parameters of a commercial jet flying predetermined waypoints. I do think “Decompress” and “Slow Strings” deserve mention, not because they are quieter, but because they are intentional and purposeful. The lyrics don’t improve much in interpretive depth, however.

To summarize: a blast from the past isn’t a bad thing. But I would leave this for the special occasion when I’ve run out of every other guilty pleasures that I could resonate with.

The Lost Art Of Liner Notes: Geoff Love & his Orchestra – Latin With Love (1976, Quality Records)

Posted on by Paul in Albums, Classic Albums | Leave a comment


For no particular reason (OK, boredom is probably the reason), I’ve decided to resurrect our Lost Art of Liner Notes series wherein I examine the sometimes weird little essays people used to write on the back of album covers. FYI, The likelihood that I will soon get bored of this and stop doing it again is pretty high, almost certain, in fact.

In the meantime, let’s look at Latin With Love, a collection of songs from British orchestra leader Geoff Love, pictured in the corner of the album cover looking like he could not give less of a shit about being featured on the cover.

Seriously, look at this guy – just nonchalant as hell!

The liner notes for this album, written by one Nigel Hunter (no idea who he is, but it’s safe to assume he’s not the guy from Chumbawamba), begin by working under the assumption that anyone would find album titles with cheap puns on Geoff’s surname to be “interesting and relevant” when really, it’s the most obvious and easy thing to do. He then weirdly goes on to list two albums without love in the title at all, but seeing as how he included all the catalogue numbers, there was likely some push from the label to include as much promotion for their back cataolgue as possible. The second paragraph then resorts to a lot of name dropping, while the final three paragraphs are focused on describing in detail each instrument featured on the album, making sure to mention every song title as well, just so you don’t get surprised by any of it. Or maybe it’s because ol’ Nigel Hunter got paid by the word to write this thing? Probably the latter.

And now, on to the liner notes:

A surname like Love is ideal when it comes to selecting interesting and relevant album titles. Hence we have already enjoyed LPs called “Big Love Movie themes (RS103), with a neat double meaning, and “love With Love” (RS107),to say nothing of others, Love-less in title but not in origin, such as Big Western Movie Themes” (RS104); “Big War Movie Themes” (R105)

The Love in question is, of course, Geoff Love. One of Britain’s most distinguished and successful musical directors and arrangers, and certainly one of the most popular with the public and his fellow musicians, with a constantly cheerful and amiable nature as befits his surname. Geoff has worked with and won the unstinted admiration of some of the greatest names of international show business, including Shirley bassey, Howard Keel, Judy Garland, Paul Robeson, Vera Lynn, Frankie Vaughan and Des O’Connor. As an artistin his own right, Geoff’s albums mentioned above have proved to be amongst the best-selling records in the history of the label.

His latest is “Latin With Love”, and is destined for the same popularity. Geoff selected twelve of the perennially favorite melodies from Latin-America or inspired by that colouful sub-continent, and arranged them for an orchestra comprising four trumpets doubling fluegel horns, four trombones, five woodwind, twelve violins, four violas, four cellos, piano, two guitars, bass doubling bassguitar, one drummer, and three Latin-American percussion. The results are ear-catching and immensely enjoyable.

La Bamba, that lively dance speciality from vera Cruz in Mexico, provides a suitably bright opener with all sections of the orchestra spotlighted and a growling jungle flute solo. the mellow evocation of that area in New York city known as Spanish Harlem begins with marimba and piano setting the easy pace and a cor anglais solo later, Guantanamera receives an appropriate Afro-Cuban atmosphere with the brass shining over the cha cha cha beat, and Sucu Sucu of Argentine origin gets a sprightly samba treatment here. Another Brazilian tempo in the form of the bossa nova ensues as a second Music for Pleasure Latin music maestro, Duncan Lamont, is featured on tenor saxophone in The Girl From Ipanema, and the bossa mood is maintained for One Note Samba with fluegel horns prominent.

The second side begins noticeable South Of the Border as Geoff coaxes a Mexican mariachi sound from the trumpets in cha cha cha time, and then we meet the beautiful Maria Elena portrayed in bolero style by the guitar against a background of muted trombones, followed later by piano, string, oboe, and a key change into a full ensemble passsage. Marimba and trumpets open Spanish Eyes in baion time, with the rest of the orchestra joining in in turn, and then comes the famous prototype bossa nova, Desafinado, introduced by woodwind and trombones before the fluegel horns take the theme.

Nigel Hunter

Album Review: Blood Incantation – Timewave Zero (2022, Century Media)

Posted on by Paul in Albums | Leave a comment

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It has long been my contention that as extreme metal musicians “mature” (read: get older and want to try something beyond just metal), they tend to go one of two routes: stripping things back for a folk/country project or delving into full on prog territory. With their latest release Timewave Zero, Denver death metallers Blood Incantation fall squarely in the latter camp.

Of course, it’s not quite accurate to say that Blood Incantation “went prog.” After all, there’s always been a touch of the progressive and psychedelic in their previous output, but on Timewave Zero, they’ve basically taken anything overtly ‘metal’ out of the equation, trading guitars and death growls for spaced out synth explorations that bring to mind the likes of Tangerine Dream more than they do Morbid Angel or Cannibal Corpse.

Consisting of a pair of ambient compositions entitled “Io” and “Ea”, each roughly 20 minutes in length, the album has a bit of a film score vibe (again, the Tangerine Dream influence is evident throughout) as each track slowly takes the listener on a sonic journey. Fans looking for something heavier might be disappointed, but the album generally works as a bit of a detour from the band’s usual path, showing what they’re capable of when branching out beyond the boundaries of their genre. With Timewave Zero, Blood Incantation have essentially taken the atmospheric elements touched upon in their previous work and turned them up to eleven.

Timewave Zero is out this Friday, February 25 via Century Media Records.

Album Review: Wolf Alice-Blue Weekend (2021, Dirty Hit)

Posted on by Gary in Albums | Leave a comment


No, it’s not Christmas yet. But as I wrote this, there was a team of Chicago fire department firefighters right outside my window. That automagically warm and fuzzy green-red combo dabbed with the blue of Chicago PD, rebounded from the opposite apartment’s yellow brick lattice, finally seeping into my eyeballs. Then I looked down at this album’s cover with the exact same mixture, even the watercolor haze, here in my apartment reproduced by the lax window cleaning over the past many months.

I can see how Wolf Alice resemble firefighters – versatile jack-of-all trades who escape genres with as much confidence and ease as one must when responding to a fast shifting blaze. They were frequently criticized on dithering between styles and lacking in commitment, shoegazing with the other foot on indie rock slathered in back-country twang sauce. I think such a complaint misses the mark. They are simply both comfortable and fluent across multiple ways of making music. In their third full length album, Blue Weekend, Wolf Alice clearly assert their maturity beyond 2015’s My Love is Cool. Although they have not strayed far from the similar ingredients of decisive melodies, big choruses, screaming recitations, and ascending volume/scale, the alchemy that emulsifies these together has certainly improved.

So, indeed, the “production value” is much higher, perhaps attributable to their incidental aging and experience accumulation. But there is also a somewhat attendant loss in rawness as their arrangements become highly polished. As engaging and enjoyable as the tracks are, the sum of the parts does not match Visions of a Life for, well, vision. And attitude.

As if implicitly understanding we may have come directly from the two previous albums, however, Blue Weekend starts off with “The Beach” as palate cleanser and “The Beach II” as a chaser. Between those sand patches, Ellie Rowsell’s highly malleable voice, whether through the quick changes in registers of “Lipstick on the Glass” or the delicate yet precise “How Can I Make It OK?”, remains the backbone of the band’s incredible range. With melodic lines that never fail to impress, my favorite on the album might be the short and sweet ballad “No Hard Feelings”. Overall, though you might not be sated in any one stream, it is quite difficult to go off a wrong path on Blue Weekend.

There was one more window, way off in the distance, that pumped out the same tri-color light in a light-house like rotation. But that was just some random disco ball. I wondered if a disco ball was on beach number two… it was definitely better than the Scottish play on the first.

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