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Monday 18 July 2022

Reviews: Fatso Jetson, Ardours, Crossing Rubicon, Josiah (Rich Piva & Matt Bladen)

Fatso Jetson - Live At Maximum Festival (Go Down Records) [Rich Piva]

Fatso Jetson are legends. It could be debated that they are the founders of what we all call the desert rock scene today (with some heavy debate of course, but they are for sure in the conversation). Starting out on the classic and way more punk leaning SST records back in the mid-nineties, the band has been a major influence on anything even close to desert/stoner rock and their entire catalogue is must hear material for anyone who loves this style of music and wants to study its origins. 

There is a true punk feel to Fatso Jetson that you don’t get from a lot of their contemporaries which makes them stand out as something truly unique. There is a bit of a FJ resurgence about to happen with the new live split release (with All Souls) that Ripple Music is putting out in August and with the re-release of the classic live show Live At Maximum Festival, originally released in 2014 by Go Down Records who is doing the re-release as well. 

You get a band on all cylinders on Live At Maximum Festival, recorded in Italy in 2013. The recording is not the greatest, but you can feel like you are in the front of the sweaty crowd hearing a career spanning set from the desert rock legends. You get early career tracks like Orgy Porgy off their second album 1997’s Power Of Three. The classics Magma and Too Many Skulls from their amazing 2002 offering ToastedSalt Chunk Mary's from their 1995 SST debut Stinky Little Gods and newer tracks from singles like the awesome Flesh Trap Blues. All of them in their revved up versions that showcase why Fatso Jetson is a must-see live act. 

A great setlist and a perfect starting point for someone looking to get into the band. I am super excited for more Fatso Jetson in 2022 and beyond. As influential as they are I am hoping the get a ton more visibility and respect as one of the creators of the genres. The upcoming Ripple release and this killer re-release of this must hear live record is the perfect start to that re-education of the masses on Fatso Jetson. 8/10

Ardours - Anatomy Of A Moment (Frontiers Music Srl) [Matt Bladen]

Consisting of Tristiana singer Mariangela Demurtas and multi-instrumentalist Kris Laurent, Ardours are an alternative/symphonic metal band that shift between atmospheric gothic tinged rock and symphonic metal. Anatomy Of A Moment is their second album, (their first came in 2019), and it is still very much set in those tones established on the debut, Tristiana drummer/lyricist Tarald Lie again rounding out the songwriting trio. They want this band to be dark, moody, anthemic and evocative, influenced by the new wave/post rock/synthpop/melodic rock sound of the 80's. What you have on Ardours' Anatomy Of A Moment is a piece of polished pop rock that sometimes moves into the metal world but mostly has glut of emotive choruses similar to the solo records of Anneke Van Giersbergen and also Within Temptation's Sharon Den Adel as Mariangela's voice brings the same kind of expression as the Dutch chanteuses on the bubbling Insomniac especially. 

It's one of the picks of this record with the excellent chorus met with the a great synth-line and some propulsive drumming, Identified meanwhile has a sound similar to Muse, some arena ready electronic rocking, Dead Weight goes into industrial as Unannounced brings a bit of  dark Yacht Rocking while Secret Worlds is the first ballad on the album and really cuts deep in the style of all the best 80's power ballads (even the guitar solo). There's certainly a unique sound to Anatomy Of A Moment, synth driven pop-tinged rock that is delivered with style. Ardours are a band that you can definitely understand why they are signed to Frontiers as their musical style will broadly appeal to those that follow the label. 7/10

Crossing Rubicon - Perfect Storm (Frontiers Music Srl) [Matt Bladen]

A new collaboration on the Frontiers comes in the shape of Crossing Rubicon, Turkish guitarist Cenk Eroglu, who has played with Winger, along with The Babys frontman John Bisaha. The idea behind the project is to make classic 80's styled melodic rock with a modern sheen. Cenk added his son Efe to the band on guitars/keys while the record features special guests such as Pat Mastelotto (King Crimson), Ray Coburn (Honeymoon Suite), and Reb Beach (Winger, Whitesnake). So a lot of melodic rock names featured so you know whats going to come on Perfect Storm. Cenk is not a modern artist reliving the glory days of 80's rock though, he had been recording demos between 1984 and 1998 but never found a singer until he came across Bisaha. 

He has that right sort of voice for this project, coming from the style of bands such as Winger along with Toto and Night Ranger, bands that straddle that cusp between 80's AOR and 90's melodic rock, with touches of hair metal. Check out a strutter like Too Late or the synth-driven On The Run (which features crowd sounds), you get to understand that Cenk is a great songwriter, comfortable with the melodic sound, but this record never really moves away from being comfortable, good guitar solos and vocals can only get you so far, when your musical style is very similar too hundreds of other bands. It must be great for Cenk to get these songs out to a wider audience, so well done to Frontiers but Perfect Storm is a decent enough debut. 6/10  

Josiah - We Lay On Cold Stone (Blues Funeral Records) [Rich Piva]

Josiah is back!!! I could end the review there and a certain segment of readers would go and pre order the new record, We Lay On Cold Stone, from the UK stoner psych legends. Main man Matthew Bethancourt (and now only original member) has revived Josiah after creating some really great stuff with Cherry Choke and The Kings Of Frog Island. Back in the early to mid-2000s Josiah was setting the framework of what so many stoner/psych bands are doing today with their three classic records (that by the way have just been reissued and are all awesome) and their new one more than a decade later is right there in quality, albeit a bit darker and more psych leaning on this outing. 

The opening track, Rats, is an instrumental stoner/psych jam that is a nice lead into Saltwater, which is a super catchy stoner ripper and a perfect reintroduction for what Josiah does so very well. The production on We Lay On Cold Stone is great, especially the drum sound. Dan Lockton’s drum work is top notch and may be an upgrade from those original records. Let The Lambs See The Knife is classic Josiah. Serious Kyuss worship with their own twist and feel. Absolute killer track. Cut Them Free is more of the same (which is excellent) instrumental stoner/psych jams, which is a good thing but at times I am wishing for more songs with vocals on the six-track outing. 

(Realise) We Are Not Real is another excellent track that leads way more on the psych side of Josiah, I hear some of what JIRM is doing on their most recent release. The drumming is on fire the guitar work from Bethancourt is some of this best work. Killer track. The fittingly titled The Bitter End wraps up Josiah’s return nicely, with a kind of best of stoner rock circa early 2000s vibe and outlining what makes them one of the bands to mention when describing who influenced what the scene looks like today.

I was super excited when I saw Josiah was back. I could not pre order it fast enough. This is excellent, but there is something that is making me want a bit more from this release. It may be that I am just greedy, but maybe one or two more tracks would have made this record feel more complete. But hey, I am giving this a high score and it will be on my end of year list, so this may be my issue and not anyone else’s. Check this one out for sure. 8/10

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