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Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Reviews: Queens Of The Stone Age, Airbourne, Joe Bonamassa & Beth Hart

Queens Of The Stone Age:...Like Clockwork (Reckords Reckords)

So Josh Homme and his cavalcade of stoners, clowns and madmen return for their first album since 2008's Era Vulgaris and it is a return to more natural sound in juxtaposition to the electronic influences of the previous album. With Homme handles all the lead vocals as well as guitar, with Troy Van Leeuwen helping on the six strings, Dean Fertita handles the keys and Michael Shuman brings the bass. All of the playing comes across excellent as usual on the creepy and haunting opening track Keep Your Eyes Peeled which also features Jake Shears (Scissor Sisters) on co-vocals and opens the album with a restrained eerie vibe. The drums are split between three men: Frequent collaborator Dave Grohl, former drummer Joey Castillo and current drummer Jon Theodore. I Sat By The Ocean is a psychedelic rocker that features some fuzzed up classic QOTSA noise. The Vampyre Of Time And Memory is next this is a restrained piano ballad with some crackling synth behind it. If I Had A Tail is a milestone track as it is a features guest vocal from Arctic Monkey's Alex Turner, former member Mark Lanegan and most notably former bassist Nick Oliveri. Other guests are Trent Reznor on electronic swing of Kalopsia and Elton John, Reznor, Lanegan and Oliveri on the massive noise explosion of Fairweather Friends which has all of the QOTSA hallmarks along with John's stabbing piano. This is pulsing, brooding, psychedelic record that leads you on a magical mystery tour of musical adventure that is full of the hallmarks that QOTSA are known for an so much more and excellent record from a band that are still relevant and unique. 9/10

Airbourne: Black Dog Barking (Roadrunner)

Airbourne bring back the balls the rock once again with this their third album and this one merges their two previous releases bringing the straight up no nonsense rock of their debut with the slightly wider range on their second album (which if I'm honest was a little too long with 13 tracks and four bonus tracks too) This album kicks off with a chant and then the bursts into the rip roaring Ready To Rock which will be a live opener for a while and has a reprise of the chant in the middle of it. The first half of the record is taken up with songs like Animalize and Firepower coming off as vintage turbocharged Airbourne with songs of lust, sex and drinking, Back In The Game is a swaggering blues rocker that blows up into a massive solo. It's with the first single Live It Up that we get a hint of Airbourne's arena credentials as it kicks off with a cracking melodic opening guitar intro from Joel O'Keefe before working up into the classic frenzy which features one of the best pre-chorus I've heard in a while that will be a live staple for a while. This album is one that sees Airbourne bringing together their high profile tour experience and laying it down on a record meaning that it is paced like an Airbourne concert. As usual Joel's voice is a whiskey soaked snarl, the guitars of him and David Roads are classy and rocking and the rhythm section of Justin Street and Ryan O'Keefe is tight and metronomic throughout. Airbourne are that rare thing in life consistent, they know what they are good at and they stick to it yes the riffs are similar, the vocals don't vary but the songs rock like motherfuckers and really that's all you need from rock n roll. (See not a single mention of AC/DC...bollocks!) 8/10

Joe Bonamassa & Beth Hart: See-Saw (Provogue)

So the Queen of blues vocals and the King of blues guitar return for their second collaboration of soul, jazz and funk covers. Again Hart's voice is amazing throughout equally at home with the swinging horn filled jazz of opener Them There Eyes (originally by Billie Holiday) the raucous rock and roll of Nutbush City Limits and moves through the soulful spectrum on slow burners I Love You More Than You'll Ever Know and Strange Fruit. Duelling for supremacy with Hart's lush vocals is the guitar of Mr Bones which also goes through the several genre shifts showing off his chops on a variety of styles and each time inspiring and mesmerising especially on I Love You More Than You'll Ever Know. Through these 11 tracks you see just how good a vocalist Beth Hart is (Bonamassa's guitar prowess is a given) and after the first collaboration with Joey Bones she was propelled back into the limelight and now with a her first US released solo album in a decade under her belt she has teamed up with him again to show that these two records were no fluke. The two of them are backed by the same group that backed them on the first album with Blondie Chapman on guitar, Anton Fig on drums, Carmine Rojas on bass and a stinging horn section all of which is bolstered by the retro production of Kevin Shirley who adds his Midas touch to the record keeping it feeling fresh but also true to the original recordings. With this collaboration Joe Bonamassa has shown that he is a master of many genres and Beth Hart shows why she truly has an amazingly soulful voice. 8/10 


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