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Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Reviews: Soundgarden, The Trews, StoneRider

Soundgarden: King Animal (Seven Four Entertainment/Republic)

The Seattle rockers return with their first album since 1996 and with all the original members returning this was set to be a return to their seminal early 90's heyday. From the offset the band gel together as well as ever with opening track, the perfectly named Been Away For Too Long, having a grungy rhythm and Kim Thayil's bright psychedelic guitar. This album certainly has more of the classic rock stylings of Badmotorfinger and Superunknown than the early grunge works; however there is still the odd nod to Seattle miserablism and lashings of trippy psych showed on Non-State Actor which also has a huge Hammond riff. Cornell sounds the best he has been in a while clearly buoyed by revisiting his glory days, I have already mentioned Thayil's guitar sound and with Ben Shepherd's bass being big and billowing, and drummer Matt Cameron gets to stretch himself here more than he does in his day job (Pearl Jam) with the countrified A Thousand Days Before being an example of his propulsive percussion. The entire performance is bolstered by stripped back live sounding production which benefits the natural sound of Soundgarden's new material. After the release of their 'best of', King Animal is the sound of a band both rediscovering their sound but also moving back into their comfort zone ready to show why they are considered to be the top of their genre. 8/10

The Trews: ...Thank You And I'm Sorry (Bumstead)

Canadian rockers The Trews follow their last release Hope & Ruin with a new EP. This is a deliberate shift in style from the last album as this has more of an upbeat party atmosphere. Kicking things off with the fantastically named The Power Of Positive Drinking which is followed the bouncy rocker Leaps And Bounds. The silliness of Herm- Aphrodite (She Was A Guy). Three of the seven tracks feature the guitar presence of Black Crowes' Rich Robinson; he lends his talent to the acoustic blues of Lord Keep Me In Mind, the jangly indie of Oblivion and the big ballad of Not Yours To Love. As usual the production of Geordie Johnson and John-Angus MacDonald is excellent and the band are as usual on form with Colin MacDonald's strong sonorous voice being the main hook over the great musical backdrop of John-Angus' guitar, Jack Syperek's bass and Sean Dalton's drums, all of which are added to by keyboards and organs from Jeff Heisholt. As many who know me will know I love The Trews and this EP is them in their melodic, majestic best giving a small snapshot into their radio friendly but authentic sound perfectly summed up by final track ...And We Are The Trews. Another great little album from the Toronto band. 8/10

StoneRider: Fountains Left To Wake (Self-Released)

StoneRider's last album was released in 2008 and this follow up sees them losing a member and reduced to a trio they have improved their sound, the first album was strong but was a hodgepodge of influences ranging from Zeppelin, to Free bringing in elements of some of the bigger classic rock vibes with fuzzed up guitars and psychedelic elements. This second release has more of a bluesy vibe with many of the songs having the same laid-back rock feel of The Rolling Stones, opener When I Was Young illustrates this perfectly, however there are still some nods to the classics with Hot Summer Nights having an acoustic Led Zeppelin III to it. The vocals of Matt Tanner are gritty and his guitar playing is very good. Stonerider have made an album of hard hitting blues/psych rock that features distorted, feedback guitars, funk bass and some jazzy drumming, they also have more than enough harmonica fill their blues quota (When The Sun Goes Down) and just the right amount of jamming freak-outs and The Doors like groove on Say I Won't and El Dorado. All in all a very good retro rock affair with lots of Stones/Zeppelin. 7/10

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