Sal—Infatuation!! EP (2007)

Sal—Infatuation!! (2007)

Sal—Infatuation!! (2007)

Details

Recorded at Stir Studios, Cardiff. Engineered by Steve Davis. Produced, mixed and mastered by Ace (formerly of Skunk Anansie) at Ace Record Production.

Website | Flickr | Blog

Band

  • Cat Southall—Vocals
  • Noog—Guitars and loops
  • Chris—Bass guitar
  • Den—Drums

Also features Richard Holley—Keyboards.

Tracks

  1. In love
  2. Make it on her own
  3. September
  4. Goodbye
  5. Dreaming

Review

Infatuation is Cardiff band Sal’s second release, following debut album Dysfunctional (2005). The band reminds me of bands like Garbage: they have a pop-punk-rock feel, mixing melody with grit and attitude.

The EP fires off with a fast-paced, Bob Mould style song “In love”, before slowing things down with the power ballad-esque “Make it on her own”.

“September” takes the speed up again, but the song fails to hit the mark for me. It reminds me of something that might go well as the soundtrack to a montage in a US teen feel-good movie. “Goodbye” is the punkiest song on the EP with fast downstroke picking, rumbling drum fills and some of the cheesiest lyrics on the disc. Goodbye.

“Dreaming” is another mid-paced track with some nice dynamics.

Conclusion

Production-wise, musicianship-wise, songwriting-wise this is a decent enough release. I certainly wouldn’t switch it off, and I get the impression they would be fun to see live. Whether I’d hunt out this EP to listen to, I’m not sure. It’s not really my thing, but I do appreciate why it might be someone else’s.

Review score: 68%

Goatboy—Dook of Oil EP (2003)

Goatboy—Dook of Oil EP (2003)

Goatboy—Dook of Oil EP (2003)

Details

All songs mixed, produced and engineered by Greg Haver at Loco Studios. Pro-tools/assist. engineer Loz Williams. “Lullaby for Abigail” engineered and produced by Goatboy/S. Cullen at Mighty Atom Studios, Swansea. All songs written by Goatboy. Released on Mighty Atom Records, 2003.

Wikipedia

Band

  • Nik Jenkins—Vox, guitars
  • Neil Rowling—Bass
  • Rod Thomas—Drums

Tracks

  1. John Lee said
  2. 2nd hand chocolate
  3. Aretha
  4. Nitro
  5. Portion No 10
  6. Cannonballer dreaming
  7. Lullaby for Abigail

Review

According to Wikipedia Goatboy were “an eclectic rock band blending blues, hip-hop, drum n’ bass and stoner rock” and were formed in Swansea in south Wales in 1999. While there are certainly elements of stoner rock, other than the final track on this the band’s second and final release, most of the music is simply too energetic and frantic to be classed as true stoner rock.

The opening track “John Lee said” puts me very much in mind of the Queens of the Stone Age track “Feel good hit of the summer” from Rated R (2001). On more than one listen I found myself singing “Nicotine, valium, vicodin, marijuana, ecstasy and alcohol” along to the track. While I didn’t hugely enjoy the track it does end with a rather satisfying interrupted cadence at the end.

The EP generally has a loose feel to it. The guitars have that loose stoner vibe, that guitar-plugged-directly-into-a-mildly-overdriven-amp sound. At times the EP sounds not much more than a demo but it certainly demonstrates the bands skill. There’s a tightness to their loose vibe!

One genuine criticism, however, is that a few of the songs do sound surprisingly similar. “Aretha” and “Nitro”, for example, could very much be two parts of the same song. Perhaps this is what prog sounds like when it’s broken down into its constituent parts.

“Portion No 10” differs in that it sounds like the band were visited by the Spin Doctors/Jamiroquai fairy. There are also elements of Helmet, and you can hear what sound like influences from Faith No More’s Mike Patton in the penultimate song “Cannonball dreaming”.

The final song “Lulliby for Abigail” is the only truly laid back song, and at 8′ 15″ it’s also the longest by almost five minutes. It’s quite a rambling at times, almost psychedelic piece. I wonder what the inspiration for it was, it’s quite, quite different to the rest of the album. It’s almost my favourite piece of the seven.

Conclusion

All in all this isn’t a bad EP (a sentence that starts like that is never going to end well, is it?) but it doesn’t really connect with me. I grew to appreciate the songs a bit more each time I listened to them and became familiar with them but… well, that’s about as far as it got: appreciation. Sadly it wasn’t quite enough.

Review score: 49%

Dub War—Pain (2007)

Dub War—Pain (1998)

Dub War—Pain (1998)

Details

Recorded at Chapel Studios, South Thoresby, Lincolnshire. Mixed at Parr Street Studios, Liverpool. All tracks constructed by Dub War. Produced by Bryan New for 140dB.

Released on Earache Records, 1998 and 2007 (MOSH121CD).

www.dubwar.co.uk

Band

  • Clive J ‘Benji’ Webbe—Vocals
  • Jeff Rose—Guitar
  • Richie Glover—Bass
  • Martin “Ginge” Ford—Drums

Tracks

  1. Mental
  2. Nar say a ting
  3. Original murder (bonus track)
  4. Words of warning (bonus track)
  5. Strike it
  6. Respected
  7. Pain
  8. Nations
  9. Gorrit
  10. Spiritual warfare
  11. Fool’s gold (bonus track)
  12. Over now
  13. Psycho system
  14. Anadin (bonus track)
  15. Why? (bonus track)
  16. Mad zone (bonus track)

Review

This review is about a week late because last weekend I was in London singing with the Alumni of the National Youth Choirs of Great Britain at Christ Church, Spitalfields, and I’ve not really caught up since. From the sublime to the ridiculous…

It doesn’t seem that long ago since I review Dub War — Wrong Side of Beautiful (1996) but it turns out to have been more than 18 months ago. I loved that album, so I approached this album with a certain degree of excitement and anticipation.

The opening track ‘Mental’ bubbles to a start with that familiar Dub War, reggae feel and bounces along happily from start to finish. It doesn’t quite set me on fire but it’s a decent enough song.

In fact this is quite a slow, laid-back album, as I guess you should expect from a reggae-infused album. It isn’t until track four (‘Word of warning’) before there’s a bit of pace.

‘Strike it’ (track five) has a great chorus that seamlessly leads into a bit of random scatting jazz and back out again. It’s inspired and I can’t help but smile listening to it.

Another stand-out track for me is ‘Spiritual warfare’ (track 10). I just like the way it chugs along, like a train through a reggae/rock countryside.

‘Fools gold’ has a weird, tripped out lounge feel which, for some reason, makes me think of ‘The Silver Hawaiian’ by Helmet. It sounds nothing like it but has a similar, silly vibe, perhaps. It’s one of my favourite tracks on the album for sure.

The album picks up pace towards the end. ‘Over now’ and ‘Psycho system’ are full-on rock-out tracks. ‘Anadin’, the only instrumental on the album, is a bass- and drums-heavy monolith of a track: one to remember if I ever need a soundtrack for a montage of a heavy-goods truck driving through the night.

The closing couple of tracks ‘Why?’ (both bonus tracks) return the album to its beginning with more jangly, rapping, reggae-inspired rock.

If I have one criticism about this album it’s probably that it’s a bit too long. This is the 2007 re-release of the original 1998 album which contains six bonus tracks, taking the album from ten to 16 tracks. That’s quite an increase, and I’m not sure the album benefits from it, to be honest. I wonder if this was Dub War’s original vision for the album, otherwise why would they inject these extra songs into the running order, rather than tagging them along at the end or on an additional bonus disc.

Conclusion

Something I’ve not done is create a separate version of this album using the original 1998 track listening, without the bonus tracks. I wonder if I would think more highly of that experience: something shorter and more focussed.

As it stands though, this is a good album. If a bit long.

Review score: 70%

Video

Dub War — Wrong Side of Beautiful (1996)

Dub War — Wrong Side of Beautiful (1996)

Dub War — Wrong Side of Beautiful (1996)

Details

Produced and engineered by Paul Schroeder. (Mostly) recorded at Rockfield Studios and mixed at Parr Street Studios. Released on Earache Records, 1996.

Band

  • Benji Webbe (Vocals)
  • Jeff Rose (Guitar)
  • Richie Glover (Bass)
  • Martin “Ginge” Ford (Drums)

Tracks

  1. Control
  2. Armchair Thriller
  3. Greedee
  4. Bassbat Bat
  5. One Chill
  6. Enemy Maker
  7. Million Dollar Love
  8. Silencer
  9. Cry Dignity
  10. Can’t Stop
  11. Prisoner
  12. Love Is
  13. Mission
  14. Universal Jam

Review

I bumped into Kevin, a colleague of mine, the other day on my walk to work.

“I’ve discovered an amazing new genre of metal,” he said enthusiastically. “Reggae metal!”

“Skindred?” I asked.

“Yeah,” he said looking suddenly downcast. “How did you know?”

I expect that I must have come across Dub War at some point during the mid-1990s but they were never really on my radar until I saw singer Benji Webbe performing with his current band Skindred, supporting Soulfly at the Glasgow Garage in January 2006.

In my review of the gig I said that “the support band Skindred were surprisingly good […] and had us all bouncing to their unique brand of Ragga Punk Metal.” Surprising because I really don’t get reggae. But they were brilliant, and Benji was the perfect frontman who by the end of the gig had the crowd in the palm of his hand.

I went home and ordered their first album Babylon (2002), and that’s when I first made the connection between Skindred and Dub War. Until this project I had only two songs of theirs in my collection: the 1996 single “Enemy Maker” and its acoustic b-side “Peace Maker”.

Dub War were formed in Newport, south Wales in 1993 — the year the World Wide Web began to take off with the release of the Mosaic web browser; the year that I graduated from university. Nu metal was on the decline but Dub War took the best things from nu metal: particularly combining diverse music styles and made a sound that was quite uniquely theirs.

My copy of Wrong Side of Beautiful (1996) is actually a part of a 2-CD box set released in 2007 of Dub War’s two (and only) albums; the other being Pain (1995). Pendants may be interested to learn that there was a third album, released in 1998, but this was entirely of remixes. And a fourth album of demos, which you can read about on the Ask Earache blog.

I have to say, that having been playing this album all week (56 tracks played this week, according to Last.fm), I love this album.

It was the kind of album that had me reaching for my bass guitar and playing along. The bass riffs just bounce along, particularly on songs like “Armchair Thriller” and the jazz-sounding intro to “Bassballbat”, which has a really woody bass sound.

Some tracks have a feel of the American rock/funk/hip hop band N*E*R*D about them. There is something about The Prodigy in their attitude. There is something about Faith No More in their variety. The intro to “Enemy Maker” reminds me of The Police.

There are elements of reggae, ragga, metal, punk, rock, dub, soul, jazz… This is a band whose influences you can hear in their music, but their music doesn’t sound like just one of them; if anything, it sounds like them all at once.

But it works!

Conclusion

I will definitely be listening to this album again… and I’ve still got Pain (1995) to review some time soon.

Review score: 95%

Bonus

Here’s the promo video for “Enemy Maker”…

…and the B-side, the acoustic version called “Peace Maker”.