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Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Reviews: Snakecharmer, Inglorious, The Picturebooks, Roguenoire (Reviews By Paul)

Snakecharmer: Second Skin (Frontiers Records)

Back in 2013 the debut album from the Blues soaked rock outfit Snakecharmer earned high praise here at the Musipedia with a 9/10. For those of us who loved old school Whitesnake, Snakecharmer were a delight. With Neil Murray and Micky Moody from Coverdale’s original line-up combining with Laurie Wisefield, Harry James, Adam Wakeman and the magnificent voice of Chris Ousey, the band filled a void and brought a modern touch to the sound that Whitesnake gave us in those halcyon days of the 1980s.

Well, Moody has moved on, replaced by Simon McBride (Solo Artist/Sweet Savage) and the band has released sophomore album Second Skin. On first listen I wasn’t over enthused, a couple of decent tracks, some superb blues guitar work underpinned by Wakeman’s reliable smooth keyboards and Ousey’s voice soaring in and out but several routine mid-paced tunes. And then I realised that this is never going to be full of innovative new music. Snakecharmer do what they do and they do it well. The two live shows I’ve seen from them have contained around 50% Whitesnake songs, so whilst they are now only 1/6 Whitesnake, they remain firmly rooted in the Snake history.

Second Skin isn’t going to change the world in any way, but it is a pleasant solid and well produced album that is enjoyable to listen to without being particularly memorable. Opening track Sounds Like A Plan kicks off proceedings with gusto, and the album then cruises without ever really hitting top gear, listen to tracks such as Punching Above My Weight, Follow Me Under and Forgive & Forget for examples. Ousey’s voice remains a delicious hybrid of Coverdale and Paul Rogers and he is given several opportunities to really let the lungs open up, especially on the slower pace of tracks like I’ll Take You As You Are.

Wisefield’s playing has always been a joy, melodic and measured and he doesn’t disappoint whilst McBride adds a new dimension to the formula. Harry James, who obviously doesn’t have enough to do in Thunder and Magnum must do this type of stuff in his sleep and demonstrates what a great drummer he is throughout. At 50 minutes long, it’s probably a little too long but given the four year interval the band are perfectly entitled to restate their musical chops. By all accounts their recent show at The Globe was beset by sound issues so maybe it’s as well I was unable to make it. A reasonable follow up by a collective who may have been expected to deliver slightly stronger. 7/10

Inglorious: II (Frontiers Records)

Inglorious are a band whose trajectory is certainly in the ascendancy. They have wowed all who have seen them since they broke on the UK rock scene around three years ago. Huge amounts of exposure from Planet Rock, impressive performances across the Country in the live arena and at festivals has cemented their status as a band to see. Last year’s debut release was well received and hot on the heels comes II. It's fair to say that Nathan James and band mates nail their colours firmly to the old-school rock sound mast of bands like Zeppelin, Purple, Bad Company and of course Whitesnake. If you haven’t heard this man sing, you could be forgiven for thinking it was David Coverdale (expect of course he won’t hit such notes these days). His voice is really something. Blues soaked rock n’ roll from start to finish, what Inglorious have in comparison to Snakecharmer is desire, stomp and a vibrancy that was absent for much of Second Skin.

I Don’t Need Your Loving, Taking The Blame and Tell Me Why are all strong songs which form the opening salvo. There is little original about II, it follows the hard rock blueprint which the legends laid down all those years ago. Produced by the legendary Kevin Shirley, it is exceptionally polished, has a huge sound and harks back to the days when bands created music organically in the same room, rather than the piecemeal approach of Pro Tools. With Wil Taylor having left the band after recording, original rhythm guitarist Drew Lowe has returned to the fold to work once more with lead guitarist Andreas Eriksson, bassist Colin Parkinson and drummer Phil Beaver. I don’t for one minute think that inglorious are the future of rock as a certain Planet Rock presenter has proclaimed but they have done is carved a niche for themselves in a market which has an insatiable appetite for the retro sound. II is a solid release and I look forward to seeing them in July as they perform on the top of the mountain at Steelhouse. 8/10

The Picturebooks: Home Is A Heartache (Another Century Records)
The latest in the alternative rock and blues duo, this time The Picturebooks from Gutersloh in Germany. Home Is A Heartache is 14 tracks which take Rival Sons, The White Stripes, The Graveltones, Royal Blood and The Record Company and mix it into a blast of angst driven blues and rock which is at times catchy and interesting and at other times a little dull. My problem with this … it’s just the same song 14 times over. Sure, there are subtle differences but this is drums and guitar echoing around the same format. Play track 2, Wardance and then play track 13 Heathen Love with its Zeppelin riff and it is the same thing all over again. I’m sure the good people at Planet Rock will think this is revolutionary. It’s just boring. 5/10

Rouge Noire: M.I.L.F. (Self Released)

Okay, I’m going to put this right out there. This is one of the most routine albums I’ve heard for years. It’s not rubbish, it’s just mundane. RougeNoire are a female outfit from Milan who have been kicking around for over 10 years and whose press is either poorly translated or hyped beyond belief. Hard rock it may be, but there is little here to suggest this is genuinely original or inventive. They can play and the songs are totally inoffensive. Half way through and I was yawning and searching for the next release to review. A Night Of Perdition may shade it as the best song on here but that’s not really saying much. Calling yourself Black Mamba, Hellcat and Foxy Lady doesn’t do you any favours either. Probably one to side-step if truth be told. 4/10

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