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Thursday, 27 November 2014

Reviews: The Tea Party, Benjamin Booker, Goat

The Tea Party: The Ocean At The End (InsideOut)

The Canadian originators of Moroccan roll have returned with their first album since 2004 (not to be confused with the right wing American political movement) . After their previous release the band all but gave up citing creative differences which led to frontman Jeff Martin's solo career and eventual downfall due to his extra curricular activities. The band seemingly buried the hatchet in 2011 reforming with their three original members all returning to the fold, most importantly Martin and drummer Jeff Burrows both of whom were the reason for the initial implosion. This reformation has led to a new album and thankfully very little has changed in The Tea Party camp, the band still merge, prog, rock and middle eastern influenced music flawlessly with Martin supplying guitar, sitar and a multitude of instruments and Stuart Chatwood handling bass, keys and again a plethora of instrumentation much of it coming from the Middle East, all these instruments are anchored by Burrows who is no slouch himself using drums, tabla etc to drive the songs along. Things kick off with The L.O.C which is sonically similar to fellow countrymen Rush albeit with Martin's sonorous baritone rumbling over the top of it, The Black Sea comes next and is a heavier track but still has the Middle Eastern flavour, something that continues on Cypher which also ramps up the prog stakes with it's big synths and off kilter rhythm straight into the airy electronica of Brian Eno's The Maker which shows off Martin's emotive vocal. It's a case of business of as usual for this virtuoso band as the songs move through various genres from progressive rock the title track, hard rock on The Cass Corridor, electronica on the industrial Submission as well as working through indie rock, soul, funk and of course their trademark Middle Eastern flavour see The 11th Hour. Black Roses is a countrified, shanty, Brazil has the percussive yet dark and political message built on Burrows drums and Martin's distorted guitars. The Tea Party are definitely back with a vengeance on The Ocean At The End this eighth album reaffirm the band as one of the most innovative and indeed exciting bands around. If you like your music intelligent, progressive and very competent then you need this in your life. 10/10         
Benjamin Booker: S/T (Rough Trade)

25 year old Benjamin Booker hails from Virginia and when he was younger he moved to Tampa Florida where he was involved with the the D.I.Y punk scene. This influence is paramount in Bookers debut album which is lo-fi, garage, blues with an attitude. Violent Shiver kicks you in the teeth as it starts the album with punk guitar stabs mixing with the  tumbling drums and Bookers superb howl screaming the lyrics at full force. For a debut album this is very accomplished Booker is a great guitar player relying more on the rhythm than the firework soloing of modern blues men like Gary Clarke Jr. and Joe Bonamassa, that's not to say he is a slouch or indeed adversed to some fret bending, he can still chuck in the odd lead break and solo; see Chippewa. In fact for the most part Booker has a lot in common with the modern main man of garage blues Jack White (a former tour mate of Booker's). For the most part Booker plays with a punk rock snarl and stabbing his guitar violently, but he can also slow down on Slow Coming and I Thought I Heard You Coming, he brings in some hip shaking R&B on Have You Seen My Son? which features a drum solo and moves seamlessly into the organ drenched country of Spoon Out My Eyeballs. He also adds the 70's rock vibe of Happy Homes before returning to the explosive blues finale of By The Evening. The myriad of influences on this record means that it is never boring or stagnant, which does do a lot to set Booker apart from the many garage blues propagators around at the moment, the songs are immediate, punchy and played with a real fire. A great debut album from this young man who has a huge career ahead of him. 8/10

Goat: Commune (Sub Pop)

Swedes Goat are not strictly metal but I think they will appeal to any fans of powerful music. The band play experimental music fusing hard rock, world music and psychedelia endowed with a sense of power that many heavy bands don't possess. The bands music is pulsating, percussion driven psych rock that will take the band and the listener on a journey and will help them reach a higher plane of conciousness (or something). Commune is a perfect name for this record as it is the type of music that would be played in a bazaar or in the presence of the Maharishi, this is a musical journey that at it's core is the kind of voodoo psych that the 60's was made of. the band themselves are an enigma as they wear colourful costumes and masks and as yet have not revealed their identities (going by names only); with the two female vocalists who's echoed chants are backed by the reverb drenched guitar, funk laden bass work and overarching percussion that is at the core of their sound. The trippy, hallucinogenic music is punctuated by the occasional spoken word piece that gives breathing room between the freak outs, however despite the louche, lucid almost liquid natural nature of the music and possibly even because of it; the band are all clearly top drawer musicians moving between the frantic driving delivery of Talk To God and Goatslaves, the Nick Cave goes funk of Goatchild and the hippy trail serenity of To Travel The Path Unknown. As I've said the power behind this album is very strong, the percussion particularly is fantastic, it draws you in and helps you just enjoy the vibe the band are trying to create, this is not the kind of album that will have hit singles and it is indeed hard to mark out individual songs. Commune is a collection of music that winds its way around your mind and takes you on a journey, that sounds like a cliché but when music has the power to move you like this then really it's the only way to describe it, I can only imagine what this band are like in a live setting with their propulsive music merging with their dervish of colours and movement, I hope I can see it soon! For now though I'm giving the record another spin, I urge all music lovers to do the same!! 9/10        

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