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Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Reviews: Touchstone, The Graveltones, The Dead Daisies

Touchstone: Oceans Of Time (Hear No Evil)

British progsters Touchstone are on their fourth album now and this one amps up the rock to 11! The band have moved through the motions and have added more layers to their sound on every album. This one is harder edged continuing what they started on their last album The City Sleeps. Things start well with Flux which does just that moving from a propulsive rock opening, into an orchestral middle with a building guitar solo from Adam Hodgson who really shows his talent on this album playing some excellent riffs and solos throughout the record, see the bluesy Contract to show how expressive he can be with his playing. However he is not the only member of the band and all the others are extremely talented bassist Moo provides a steady, proggy, beat to proceedings wrapping his fingers around the bands progressive but also melodic and catchy see the folky Tabula Rasa which lasts for over 7 minutes but wouldn't be out of place on the radio. The album sounds much more grown up with a tougher songs and more hard hitting lyrics, showing that Kim Seviour has developed as both a lyricist and as a vocalist over the four albums, her strong voice fitting perfectly with the band’s music. What I did notice was that founder member Rob Cottingham has less of a role on this album providing fewer lead vocals and using his keys as more of an atmospheric tool than as a lead instrument, see Shadows End which is the continuation of Shadow from the band's debut album, which is followed by a reworking of Solace from the band's sophomore album Wintercoast and has itself a sequel in the shape of Through The Night adding to the bands tendencies for having links between their songs (a prog tradition surely?) Finally the band's Wintercoast storyline develops it's forth chapter with the title track (again a band tradition) and ends the album strongly and has a killer solo. Touchstone have yet again released a record full of powerful modern prog, one that should take them to the top! 8/10      

The Graveltones: Don't Wait Down (RSK Entertainment)

The Graveltones impressed me when they supported Rival Sons earlier this year so it was with real anticipation that I awaited their debut. My anticipation paid off this as the album is excellent, part White Stripes, part QOTSA and part John Lee Hooker. The band is made up of Jimmy O who rattles off the fuzzy, garage, blues drenched guitar riffs and screaming solos, while at the same time gives a mad-eyed, howling vocal performance. he is aided and abetted by man mountain Mikey Sorbello who is a demon behind the kit, never have I heard a set of drums played with such technicality and head crushing power, see Dying On Your Feet for sizzling example of the power and the jazzy off-kilter St. Lucia which displays the small percussive touches that sets him apart. This the band The White Stripes always threatened to be but could never achieve, stunning musicianship dabbling with modern soul; see Crime To Be Talkin' which is a duet featuring a Lauren Tate's, Joss Stone like vocals, Hendrix style blues-rock replete with guitar freak-outs and a ferocious live show. The band nod to the past with many of their tracks but after a small tip of the hat they run through their stripped down, garage noise with perfection. This is a killer debut from a band that have big things ahead of them. 9/10   

The Dead Daisies: S/T (Self-Released)

The Dead Daisies are a hard rock super group formed by ex-Noiseworks/INXS singer Jon Stevens and former Red Phoenix guitarist, no while their names may not sound familiar they are aided and abetted by guitarist Richard Fortus fresh from his stint with Axel Rose's travelling circus who brings GNR ivory-tinkler Dizzy Reed with him, the rhythm section are Rolling Stones bassman Daryl Jones and Charley Drayton who has played with everyone including The Cult. The band's sound is classic blooze-rock bringing together The Black Crowes Washington is Hard To Handle by another name, as well as Bad Company and Stones thrown in for good measure. The guitars are clean and bright bringing the blues rock riffs and acoustic rhythms. This is a real retro vibe that I last heard on The Temperance Movement album. The songs ring out like a hazy 70's summer record full of bell bottom blues and a lot of hair flowing American rocking. This is a cracker of an album Stevens has a tough, gritty voice that's sounds a lot like Buckcherry's Josh Todd. Phoenix plays a mean guitar, he and Fortus are a hell of team and are aided on Lock 'n' Load by Slash. As a debut album this is a great hark back to a a time when rock ruled the airwaves. 8/10      

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