Queens Of The Stone Age: Villains (Matador)
...Like Clockwork Queens Of The Stone Age previous album was dark and in parts ominous, Villains the band's sixth album is more upbeat and carefree, Feet Don't Fail Me Now starts with bubbling synth and builds into a funky as hell track that retains that QOTSA quirkiness as it changes into the desert rock leaning middle section, so with the darkness creeping a little on the beginning things go old school rock n roll for the first single The Way You Used To Do which has the twitching fuzz guitar and claps of The Black Keys. It's a record that brings together funk, soul and blues more than before.
Frontman Josh Homme said that the record was influenced by his interest in dancing, the song Uptown Funk and collaborating with that song's producer Mark Ronson. Villains is produced by Ronson and it has his normal production stamp, everything sounds like the early years of rock n roll but with modern techniques creeping in, the basslines are squelching (Domesticated Animal), the guitars jangle but maintain their early bite and the synths are more prevalent than ever before with Fortress and the industrial Un-Reborn Again. Queens Of The Stone Age have always made music on their own terms and are unafraid to experiment, this is a record that may be like Marmite to some, but there is no denying that Villains is ambitious. 7/10
Walter Trout: We're All In This Together (Mascot Records)
Walter Trout shouldn't be here and for a while there wasn't going to be, the 66 year old battled and beat liver cancer, his trials and tribulations were documented on his previous record Battle Scars, so then We're All In This Together is more of a celebration, it's Trout looking back on his career and enjoying it but not being beholden to it, something chronicled on the rollicking Ain't Goin Back. Trout has always been very well respected by his peers so much like on his 2006 album Full Circle he has enlisted numerous high profile luminaries to help him out, he has written each song with the guest in mind which means that this record has 16 tracks of pure blues with each one a little different, obviously the binding factors are Trout's hang dog vocals, guitar prowess and his core band supporting him on every track.
Each song adapts to the guest players The Other Side Of The Pillow has Trout duelling with electric harmonica player Charlie Musselwhite, She Listens To The Blackbird Sing has the rhythmic passion Mike Zito brought to The Royal Southern Brotherhood, it's a track that's sounds like an Allman Brothers piece, Allman alumni Warren Haynes appears on the groovy The Sky Is Crying. Elsewhere there is six stringing from Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Robben Ford, Eric Gales, Randy Bachman and Joe Bonamassa, parping sax from Edgar Winter and the legendary John Mayall who blows the mouth harp on Blues For Jimmy T as Trout is a former Bluesbreaker having John himself on the record is a real coup. With so much talent on this record, it is a celebration of Trout's music and his legacy, Walter Trout is still here, he's still playing great music and respect should be given. 9/10
World Trade: Unify (Frontiers Records)
Take a look at this line up, World Trade were first around in the 1980's and feature guitars and keys from Bruce Gowdy and Guy Allison both of Unruly Child, drums from Mark T Williams, son of John (every movie ever) Williams and bass and vocals from Billy Sherwood who is probably best known as taking both guitar and bass duties in Yes, he was a guitarist between 1997 and 2000, then hand picked as Chris Squire's replacement when he fell ill, equally Sherwood is now both the vocalist and bassist of ASIA assuming the mantle after the untimely death of John Wetton. So all members are very busy chaps but still they find time to reactivate a project that released two albums, one in 1989 and one in 1995, so with this new release coming in 2017 you can't fault the bands continuing sporadic nature.
For those of you that can't guess World Trade are a band that play the particularly radio friendly 1980's prog-pop, it's the style that Yes adopted for their hit records 90125/Big Generator with the bass as the funky lead instrument all dexterous jazz playing with the keys and guitars adding the swathes of melodic rhythms, the drums sound electronic giving the record that authentic 80's sound.The key songs on this record are the title track, Gone All The Way, On Target On Time and they are all delivered by Sherwood's Peter Gabriel like vocals but it's a strong showing from World Trade. Unify is a great record full of sharp, biting, insightful songs that skillfully balance prog and pop melodies. 8/10