Von Hertzen Bros: New Day Rising (Spinefarm)
Fourth album and Finland's trio of brothers plus their hearty band mates once again bring their intelligent but catchy brand of rock music to the masses, after their breakthrough of Stars Aligned and the defining Nine Lives the band have all but abandoned the progressive leanings from their music in as far as the songs are more concise and immediate but still contain the same kind of virtuostic musicality the band have always plied their trade with, so less progressive rock and more progressive music that owes as much to 30 Seconds To Mars as it does to Pink Floyd or Rush. The album gets things going with the punchy, punky title track before Juha Kuoppala's keyboards are all over You Know My Name, which moves through several different styles in it's five minutes. So far so 'prog' in it's truest sense then relying on their musical integrity and creativity than the showing off that prog bands employ, as Aerosmith says; they do indeed let the music do the talking.
Once again the brothers provide the the basis of all of the songs with the three guitars working in unison as Mikko Kaakkuriniemi's drumming keeps incredible pace and moves them through the various time signatures on the album. They are still not adversed to a ballad with the emotive and atmospheric Black Rain showing off Mikko VH's superb vocals as does Love Burns which is a slower paced but involving track that builds into a crescendo. Again another mix of genres here, see the folksy Dreams, with the same great song writing they have always had but this album will alienate the prog rock hardcore who love long songs and technical wankery, however for the most part it is yet another splendid album from the brothers filled with excellent 'progressive' songwriting and songs that enchant and delight but never outstay their welcome while the album itself grows in stature with every listen. 8/10
JettBlack: Disguises (Cherry Red)
I like JettBlack, I have since their inception, I loved their debut, I still play it to this day and their live show is top notch filled with excitement and a passion that burns red hot. Unfortunately the same cannot be said for this; their third album, in total there are four good songs on it the best being Kick In The Teeth which harks back to their sleazy debut, the rest is pop-rock filler with a bit too much chart bothering, preening and smaltz especially on the absolutely dire Black & White. Much like the new Halestorm album this is the sound of Jettblack trying to break out with a more broad sound, however to my ears they have become bland with an album of mid-paced, lacklustre tracks that have no spark or indeed the kind of fist pumping sing along quality the band are known for coupled with too many love ballads that are just the pits really. Will Stapleton is a good singer but he seems too tame on this record, staying in his lower register throughout with no real passion, the band still play well but the songs really let this record down. I've stood by JettBlack when people called them masochistic (one major music magazine in particular) because of their tongue-in-cheek 80's inspired lyrics but it almost seems that by trying to appeal to a bigger audience they have lost that edge that drew me too them initially. Let's hope their set at Bloodstock focusses on their first two albums and the few OK songs on this record. Very disappointing. 4/10
Turbowolf: Two Hands (Spinefarm)
Bristolities Turbowolf are the maddest band I have heard for a while fusing garage punk with 60's Zappa-like psychedelia and classic hard rock but as well as being nutcases they are also one of the most interesting young bands around. Two Hands is their second album and this one distils their sound into just over 30 minutes of anarchic, mind bending rock and roll. Invisble Hand starts things off slowly with its guitar strummed intro which turns into a thumping opener that builds up slamming straight into the funky Rabbits Foot which does indeed bring the voodoo mentioned in the chorus, this is killer track which is anchored by Andy Ghosh's fuzzy guitar and Lianna Lee Davies' bass, Solid Gold is a crazy disco song drenched in back masking, samples and various weirdness which shows off the synths of Chris Georgiadis as does Toy Memaha. His vocals too are brilliantly erratic fitting the music perfectly with their unique soulful but fierce delivery that works as well on the rocking Nine Lives as they do on the trippy, reverb drenched MK Ultra. Nine Lives also features some relentless drumming AND cowbell from Blake Davies, who also shines on Rich Gift. The dreamy psychedelia is washed away with the metallic Twelve Houses. This album is gloriously unhinged and delivers a mighty punch that leaves you breathless as Pale Horse ends this fantastic album in fine style, a little piece of madness that just takes you away to another astral plain. I need to catch these guys live!!! 9/10