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Saturday, 13 February 2016

Reviews: Tedeschi Trucks Band, Striker, The Veer Union

Tedeschi Trucks Band: Let Me Get By (Fantasy Records)

It seems Susan Tedeschi and her husband Derek Trucks are finally free, with Sony insisting that outside songwriters contribute to the bands two previous records, Let Me Get By is the first totally written by the band (and totally produced by Trucks) along with Doyle Bramhall II who is frequent collaborator for Trucks. This new creative freedom has allowed the band to express themselves a bit more on this third record, the mix of soul, funk, rock, blues and even folk and country are at their most pronounced, the album is musical soup dripping with luscious arrangements and songwriting, from the shuffling percussion, through the soulful brass, to the honeyed guitar lines and the vocal harmonies, with the leads shared for the first time between Susan and Truck's lead vocalist Matt Mattinson, the spirit of the Jacksonville swamps is evident on this record that has every member of this band play in union to craft beautiful heartfelt honest music.

The band are a 'family' with both Susan and Derek taking members of their solo bands to furnish this collaborative effort meaning that everyone involved records, travels and performs together and this shows in the music, there is a certain ease around the record that seemed to be missing on the last two albums. As the uptempo, upbeat Stax records groove of Anyhow opens with it's sparse guitar playing and sliding horns we the listener are eased into a welcoming environment, this warmth is kept up through the album meaning that you almost feel a part of the record, with the live-in-the-studio way it's recorded making it seem as if you were there for the records formation. From the wah-wah funk on Don't Know What It Means, New Orleans Jazz follows on Right On Time, then into the synth driven title track and the 8 minute plus piece of pure blues power that is Crying Over You / Swamp Raga for Hozapfel, Lefebvre, Flute and Harmonium the influences are as I said are all over the place but everything works perfectly. This is music with genuine soul that longs to be heard on lazy summer days surrounded by loved ones, it's an album where TTB have come of age throwing off the outside factors that have been seen in their work and creating something purely of their own. 9/10

Striker: Stand In The Fire (Breaking Records)

Don the Battle Jackets folks and heads down for a mosh out! Canadian trad metal pack Striker are back with the follow up to 2014's City Of Gold since then the band have dropped their record label and as any metal hipster knows the only way then is to self release which is what they have done on this their fourth record. Despite the change of foreman, the blueprint is the same old-school proto-thrash riffs, harmonic dual layer guitars, screeching vocals, finger bending guitar solos and huge fist-in-the-air choruses. This is trad metal at it's best for the most part, although Out For Blood has sax solo that throws you a little from then on its heads down for a mega mosh fest. The majority of the record is light-speed guitar lines, blazing solos galore. The band have also gone very 80's on this record with Too Late sounding like Extreme or Van Halen, with the Iron Never Lies and the instrumental Escape From Shed City having obvious nods to Priest and their ilk but also there are lots of songs that could be called thrash like the punching UnitedBetter Times which sounds like Exodus, before the album ends with the atmospheric One Life. If you love your metal with a big side portion of denim and leather then Striker will be the soundtrack. 7/10   

The Veer Union: Decade (Pavement)

Decade is The Veer Union and sees the band emerge from a set of circumstances that would destroy most bands. After their previous album in 2009 the longtime founding members of the band left, the band limped on until the founding guitarist to fled the group leaving just frontman and vocalist Crispin Earl as the sole member of the band. With no band the record company they were signed to collapsing around him, he went into the doldrums of depression but thankfully he managed to pull himself out of it and released an EP with new guitarist Ryan Ramsdell and this sparked the creative soul in Earl and he recruited another set of musicians and reactivated the band, The Veer Union MkII if you will. Decade is a bit of a special album celebrating the bands 10 year existence. It contains songs that were written at various different times of Earl's career, five of the songs were written in the early days before the band even existed, Make Believe and Watch You Lose were both written for Tommy Lee's Tommyland project.

You'd think due to this that the record would be bit of a mish-mash but seeing as many of these tracks are unrecorded they all sound fresh when delivered by the bands style of muscular alt-rock that features heavily on American FM Radio. But enough about the background what about the album itself? Well it is a celebration of triumph over adversity with 10 rocking tracks with huge hooks and metallic edge, it's thoroughly modern with a Earl and lead guitarist Dean Sittler harmonising on the vocals in a similar way to Alice In Chains' harmony vocals, with bassist Amal Wijayanayake adding the screams. There is an underlying sense of recovery on this record lyrically and musically the songs all feature electronic elements that are guaranteed to give a broad appeal see I Said which if there was justice would climb to number one, the band remind me a lot of Sevendust, Breaking Benjamin and Brits Forever Never. A modern rock album that is the sound of a reinvigorated band that hopefully can progress from here. 8/10

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