Posts Tagged ‘rock’

It’s rare to hear stadium quality music even in a stadium these days. Bands are wheeled out to play the same old hit(s) and the 4/4 chord chops that many young guitarists learn in their first lessons. In the manufactured, mediocrity ravaged music industry sausage factory, dullness and predictability stalk live music venues like ex-boyfriends on Facebook. However, tucked away in the North East of Scotland is some intriguing talent warming the cockles of the listening public. Three bands; three big sounds: Uniform, UTN and Same Faces. Their latest playground: The Tunnels, an intimate underground venue and one of the UK’s best avenues to hear live music. One weekend saw the arched roof shake with quality tunes from these three very talented bands.

Uniform providing great support

The first support act, Uniform, made an impact from the start. A strong six-piece presence with 3 guitarists, a bassist, drummer and- rarely seen these days-  keyboardist, filled the stage physically and with  a solid wall of  sound. With strong Robert Smith style vocals and some intricate interweaving guitar work, very much like early U2, they held their own like a mainline act playing to their own crowd, rather than just filler while the main acts wait in the wings. This very tight and melodic sextet of indie-rockers are due to do very well, being huge crowd-pleasers as well as consumate musicians, uniform in thought and form.

Stuart, leads from the front

George milks the guitar

Aberdeen stalwarts, UTN, were up next and whipped up the crowd with their wonderfully inventive songs. Harking back to the days of solid rock craftsmanship but with a great modern vibrancy, they played their strings and drumskins bare, reminiscent of the Black Crowes and Black Keys. The rangy and emotion driven vocals of striking lead singer and guitarist, Stuart Youngson, sailed across the fantastic precision rhythm of John Christie on bass and Attila Kiss on drums.

Attila: drum-master general

John in full bass flow

George Gillies punctuated and supplemented this wonderful landscape of musical mastery with well executed riffs and legato solos. Their songs never let your interest wane for even a split second, with multiple sections and tempo changes- all of them pure platinum class. I was impressed that they kept this energy through the whole gig as if they were aiming all songs to each member of the audience individually. This culminated in the whole crowd chanting along to the last tune which came with a ridiculously catchy chorus that I am still singing to myself now- a week later.

Charlie, charismatic frontman of Same Faces

Finally, Aberdeen’s answer to ACDC, Same Faces swaggered onto the stage to give their MOT tested and guaranteed blistering performance. As ever, the domineering presence of Charlie Munro and his razor sharp vocals roared the clever yet brutally honest lyrics to their confirmed fans, old and new.

Gordon and his golden Gibson exploits

Rich and his rich bass sound

Gordon Leith brandished his axe and tore through the songs with the chunkiest guitar chops I’ve heard in a long time. With his trusty Gibson Les Paul switched to the neck pickup, he certainly made sure his sound had hard edges that packed a real guttural punch. Tunk Reid was sat on his drumstool throne giving the kick drum hell and making cymbal thrashing a near Olympic sport. New bassist, Rich Lewis, fit right in with pumping fingerstyle bass playing that added massive tonnage to the already weighty tunes. They all look the part. They all sound the part. The songs are great. A great band whose phenomenal music rings true with all who hear it.

To all who say rock is dead in Scotland, think on. We have three bands in our seemingly sleepy corner of the world who are ready to rock the sh*t out of all who come. See it live. Hear it loud. Aberdeen rock is alive and great and proud.

All photos reproduced with the kind permission of Euan Ross. To see of his pictures from this gig, go –>here<–

Advertisements

In times of perceived economic gloom, we look for escapes and ways to lighten the drudgery of day to day life. Many of us in the UK head off to sunnier shores; some make a shorter journey down to the local pub. For those in need of  instant cheer, they can listen to Kick and Pull by Aberdeen based singer-songwriter, Oliver Richards.

The first track, Gimme Love, starts with a soaring arpeggio and strings reminiscent of the joyous dance music of the 90s which pulls up the listener just in time to hear some gorgeous finger picking on acoustic guitar, Oliver’s signature to this uplifting song. The lyrics offer a simple, plaintive message which is sung pleadingly and sweetly in a near whisper.

Go Baby is a more sultry affair with  bossanova driven minor chords and seductive suggestions in husky undertones. This calming piece of music is a pleasure to listen to and acts as a lovely counterpoint to the less subtle pick-me-up of the first track.

Things become more urgent and driven with Poison Ivy. The relentless rhythm raises the heartbeat and the fractious keyboard riffs jolt the senses. Oliver’s acoustic guitar is there too, palm-muted and as lively as the kick drum and double time hi-hat. The lyrics ring true with anyone who has been in an acrimonious relationship, with the eponymous Ivy being held up as a prime example of a dangerously beguiling lover.

Yeah No is more of an ensemble piece, with a full band sound in which the acoustic feel is adorned with electric guitars, bombastic drumming and pumping bass. Although the intimacy of the EP is somewhat lost in this track, the fullness of sound and production quirks make this an enjoyable listen.

The final track, 19th July, is a soaring masterpiece of acoustic folk where Oliver gives his voice a rest, bares his Scottish folk roots and reminds us what he can do with an acoustic guitar. The flurry of fingers combined with an awe inspiring church hall sound makes this song a fantastic finale for a well crafted EP full of surprise, joy and fervour.

Kick and Pull is a wonderfully crafted piece of work, well thought out without being forced or overindulgent. The production is phenomenally good, managing to combine acoustic beauty with hard-wired electronica, rock power and Oliver’s diverse vocal range. For an artist still young in his years, his music has a maturity that can speak for itself, urging you to listen as it will make your day just that little bit better.

*****

     Kick and Pull is available for download on iTunes  and Amazon

Once in a while, when out and about listening to live music, your ears prick up when you hear something new, different and exciting. Recently, the Same Faces have burst onto the scene and driven a shot in the arm to Aberdeen’s already vibrant music scene.

Formed from the still burning flames of much loved rock covers band, ByHookorByKrook, the Same Faces have had years of experience performing together but have all of the fresh energy of a brand new live act. Writing all new material gathered from their years of playing and listening to the music they love, they are inspired by artists as legendary as AC/DC, Led Zeppelin and Nirvana. The songs, along with the band, gel very easily, being tight and full of catchy riffs, rhythmic power and cosmic thump. With a new EP, In It For The Money, and a very popular live gig and album launch at the prestigious Aberdeen venue, The Lemon Tree, the Same Faces have already made a massive impact.

Front man Charlie Munro believes in what he sings and is a fan of his own songs, not because of a huge ego but because he is passionate about what he does, stemming from a deep appreciation of that style of music. Very straight talking and with a disarming lack of pretension, Charlie saves all the bluster and bravado for the stage where his powerfully screaming yet melodic voice provides a forceful face to songs already full of strength and no-nonsense vigour. This is demonstrated in War, the first track of their debut EP where Charlie’s cries of “This is war!” leave you waiting for the artillery to fire and the tanks to start rolling for real. He strides the stage with ultimate confidence but none of the drama, interacting with the crowd and making the band heard.

Guitarist Gordon Leith adds meaty riffs and classic solos that feel an integral part of the songs, sweated out from years of hard graft over a guitar and amp. With the awesome chunkiness of Gibson generated chords and beefy licks, he works the strings to the advantage of the overall dynamic of the group while clearly enjoying the ride himself. His big influence of Zeppelin shines through and he does Jimmy Page proud with the way he handles the weighty guitar parts, as can be heard in spades on War and Better Quit Now.

Bassist Neil McDonald is one of those rare four string specialists who can keep up with the guitarist and drummer in equal measure. His booming basslines manage to boost the guitar parts as well as enhance the thump of the kick drum. Neil is adept at fingerstyle bass playing which is hard enough in a soft jazz trio let alone a storming rock foursome. Neil is a solid member of the crew, acting as the cement holding the songs together while providing a melody much more ear catching than the usual plodding bass notoriety you see in other well established bands.

Drummer Tunk Reid takes the art of percussion and imposes it on you with split-second timing, ear-shattering volume and hair-raising precision. Tunk is a drummer that every band would dream of having as he provides a huge solid base for the weighty songs to play on. He is also skilled in the sort of stop-start drumming that gives a lot of the Same Faces songs their character, being more than  just a drum machine but a real musician contributing to the overall soul of the music.

Their sensational live performance at the Lemon Tree and in studio sessions during an interview, prove that they are a force to be reckoned with locally, nationally and potentially internationally. As Charlie said:

“We don’t want to play to the opening of an envelope…. We want every gig to be an event.”

The Same Faces certainly were an event on that night and are a huge event themselves, making a big difference to the listening public and the state of modern rock music.

————————————————————-

For a behind the mic interview with the Same Faces click here ↓

Click –>here<– for the Same Faces website

Click –>here <– to join the Same Faces on samefacebook

Two Scotsmen, a Swede and a Hungarian walk into a pub…and play some of the most exciting music I have heard in a long time.

The Blind Faiths are no joke. They sprang from four disparate talents who met during the course of Aberdeen’s buzzing open mic scene and blew apart the live circuit with their catchy, funky, pensive and uncategorisable music. There are many reasons why these guys are a band to watch, destined for great things.

The Blind Faiths in full flow

Firstly, the music hooks you as soon as your ears catch it, sending a message directly to the brain’s pleasure centres saying, “This is awesome!”. The songs are not mere pop-by-numbers throwaway singalongs, however. They are full of depth, character and haunting lyrical content. There is never a dull moment, with changes in pace, key and melody within each song. There is also a marked shift in genre between tunes in The Blind Faiths’ repertoire. This does not seem artificial or forced but adds to the wonderful musical melange that these talented musicians can concoct. Songs range from the heartfelt “Holly” to the epic “Trees (Branching Out)” and the uptempo ska-inspired anthem that is “Gypsy from Kingston

Straight from the start, the cohesion of the group itself is not in question: tighter than a door seal on a nuclear sub and with just as much impact. All four members seem to compliment each other with every one displaying his prodigious talents, gelling with the others to form their audible magic: all this from a band formed less than four months ago.

Billy and his saxual prowess

Billy M Jack, whose vocals would not be out of place at a soul revue, gives the lyrics a driving force with a strong voice full of bristling passion. He is also an accomplished guitarist, providing a warm bed of acoustic rhythm for the flowing waters of the melody. He also occasionally gets his well travelled sax out and reels around the stage, and sometimes into the crowd, blowing punchy riffs and spiraling solos to great effect.

It’s rare for a band to have two outstanding singers in their stable and this is where Rico Strokes comes in. Sharing the lead and backing vocals with Billy, he belts out the songs with as much gusto and emotion. The transition between the two voices is natural and they compliment each other

Rico's light shines through

wonderfully within and between the songs. Rico also wields his electric guitar with aplomb, giving a cutting edge to the music with his stark rhythms, choppy riffing and flowing solos.

Erik in perpetual motion

Erik Berggren cuts a commanding figure. The tall Swedish bassist never stays still during his set, with his blonde head and fingers always on the move. Another rarity in most groups is the presence of a bass player who makes you sit up and take notice. Erik does this in spades with basslines full of funked up sophistication as well as pinpoint accuracy. He manages to define many of the songs in the opening bars, providing a catchy tune that sears onto the long term memory, the main culprit being the brilliant “Sign (on the dotted line)

Zoltan Kraszko is an experienced and versatile drummer from Hungary, who communicates beautifully with the rest of the band, providing a solid base as well as using his kit as a multidimensional instrument, forming an integral part of the musical structure. His almost Jedi like instincts ensure that the songs are held together with flexible consistency.

Flexible cohesion from Zoltan

This fantastic foursome are a treat to watch in action as well as listen to. Their boundless enthusiasm for their craft and their sense of fun shine through and permeate the audience who, if not already dancing, break into spontaneous bouts of clapping, foot-stomping, whooping and whistling as if at some rock and roll ceilidh. The band have recently spread the joy all over the UK in their  “What’s That You Say?” tour, playing to even more delighted hordes of fans hungry for something new and vibrant. 

Keep your eyes peeled for The Blind Faiths: they’re enough of a solid platinum guarantee of musical genius, sparkling energy and good times ahead.

—————————————————————————————–

To listen to an exclusive pre-tour interview in the cellar of the Cellar, click here –> The Blind Faiths Interview

[Warning: some language in the interview may offend, including cl*nge, f**k and b*s f********h]

________________________________________________________

Follow The Blind Faiths on facebook, youtube and twitter.