Wizard Rifle – Album Review

Time for another review I wrote for Ever Metal, which you can now read at the Virtual Hot Tub:

Wizard Rifle – Wizard Rifle

Svart Records

Release date: 30/08/2019

Running Time: 45 mins

Review by: Alun Jones

8.5/10

 

Right, about time I got back to business with these album reviews for my pals at Ever Metal.  But how do you define the indefinable?  ‘Cos that’s basically the issue I’ve had with this review (not writer’s block, honest).  Comparing Wizard Rifle to other bands in myopic, lazy journo style just doesn’t seem to cut it with these guys.

There’s too much going on with Wizard Rifle’s self-titled album to accurately pin down a clumsy similarity to someone else.  It’s a mixture of loud, obnoxious metal, post rock, screamy hardcore punk and grungy sludge; with waves of psychedelic beauty tying it together.

Despite the unholy wall of noise that the band produce there are just two of them – guitarist/vocalist Max Dameron and drummer/vocalist Sam Ford.  That’s a hell of a racket for just two people.  They’re not short of ideas either, as the genre blending demonstrates.  Maybe that’s an advantage of just two minds, rather than several – Dameron and Ford display some ingenious telepathy weaving their creations together.

Loads of energy too – “Rocket to Hell” (great title) is a glorious, shouty opener, and “Caveman Waltz” is a possible contender for Riff of the Year.  It chugs like a drug fuelled locomotive trying to jump the Grand Canyon.

There are only five songs on this record, but as none of them are under seven minutes in length, there’s plenty of value for money.  The guys have learnt to expand a song and explore its possibilities in a way that keeps the ear engaged.  Like on the 12 minute epic “Funeral of the Sun”, which stretches out hypnotically but loses none of its heavy intensity.

Wizard Rifle are from the Portland, Oregon area – which as it’s the Pacific North West, must surely be Big Foot country.  So, I’m gonna coin a lazy journo phrase and label this sound Big Foot Rock.  Remember, you read it here first.  And yes, when this band are huge and Big Foot Rock takes over Western Civilization, I’ll be claiming the royalties for inventing that label.

Big Foot Rock T-shirt, sir?  That’ll be £19.99.  “Now That’s What I Call Bigfoot Rock, Vol 1” vinyl compilation?  Just £27.99.  Can I change a fifty?  Oh, keep the change?  Thank you very much.

The Wizard Rifle Facebook page is here.

You can find Wizard Rifle on Bandcamp here.

The Ever Metal website is here.

Giant Dwarf – Giant Dwarf Album Review

And now, I present an album review I wrote for Ever Metal; a recording that became one of my favourites of 2019:

Giant Dwarf – Giant Dwarf

Self Released

Release date: 09/04/2019

Running Time: 36 minutes

Review by: Alun Jones

9.5/10

 

I’ve never been to Australia.  Don’t need to go there really, I know exactly what it’s like.  It’s like that David Bowie video where he’s inside a big concrete block in the middle of nowhere.  “Let’s Dance” – that’s the one.  Or it’s like Mad Max 2: all arid desert, people surviving on dog food and a struggle to exist without civilisation.

So, it’s quite apt that such a barren, isolated place has decided to gift us with an album that is, quite frankly, a masterpiece of desert rock.  Or outback rock, if you will.

This is “Giant Dwarf”, by the band Giant Dwarf, who hail from somewhere called Perth in Western Australia.

Right from the start, with opener “Golden Walrus”, the album bursts from the speakers like Gandalf after a month-long Charles Atlas course.  The songs are tough and uncompromising, yet cerebral.  “Black Thumb” and “Kepler” in particular will make you put your foot down on the accelerator and bang your head – whilst absorbing the intricate tapestry of the universe.

It’s all pounding rhythms and hypnotic, repeating riffs.  On first encounter, the album seems very – shall we say, inspired by – Kyuss and the first Queens of the Stone Age album.  Aaron Soppo (vocals) can even do a pretty convincing Josh Homme impersonation.  Which is no bad thing, in my book – in fact, it’s a sure fired recipe for success.

Further investigation reveals far more than this obvious comparison, however.  As well as a more fuzzed-up guitar sound – not unlike a particularly fried Fu Manchu – there’s a trippy, psychedelic sheen to the muscular groove.  There’s even sitar and didgeridoo on here, in wave after wave of glorious chunky riff and rolling beats.

“The Deluge” illustrates this breadth of feeling with a six minute plus track that undulates between exuberant rocker and introspective meander in just one epic song.

If I have one small criticism, I’d like to hear a track like “Strange Wool” – a mind melting instrumental track that’s quite brilliant – dragged out to three times it’s two-minute length.  Even more development and experimentation would really push Giant Dwarf further into a new dimension.  But keep the edge-of-the-seat rockers too, OK guys?

“Giant Dwarf” comes within a koala’s cock of perfection.  Powerful like the venom of a Death Adder, yet enticing like Natalie Imbruglia.  It really is that good: from out of nowhere, an album that will surely be in my end of year Top Five.

Find Giant Dwarf on Facebook and on Bandcamp.

Check Giant Dwarf out on Spotify here.

There’s some cool stuff on YouTube here and here, too.

PS: apologies for the dig at Australia, it’s just a joke.  I’m sure it’s nice there really.

Singles Night at the Virtual Hot Tub #13

Unlucky for some, eh?  Well, this thirteenth edition of Singles Night was far from unlucky for me – I had a great night.

It’s been a while since I’ve thrilled you with a blog like this.  So what is Singles Night, exactly?  Well, I’ll tell you: it’s basically me playing through a stack of 7 inch vinyl singles in the order they’re stacked in.  Like a jukebox, but not as good.

The quality of these discs can vary dramatically.  Some are classics I’ve spent a couple of quid on.  Some are charity shop finds, or even donations given to me.  As such they can range from the unfathomably cool to the stinkiest of cheese.

It’s always good fun though.  So take a dip in the Virtual Hot Tub with me, and enjoy a playlist unlike any other…

  1. The Donnas – “Who Invited You” / “Mama’s Boy”
  2. Windsor Davies & Don Estelle – “Whispering Grass” / “I Should Have Known”
  3. Elvis Presley – “(Let Me Be Your) Teddy Bear” / “”Loving You”
  4. Chas’n’Dave – “Stars Over 45” / “Harem”
  5. Neil Diamond – “Be Mine Tonight” / “Right By You”
  6. Depeche Mode – “Get the Balance Right” / “The Great Outdoors”
  7. Small Faces – “Sha-La-La-La-Lee” / “Grow Your Own”
  8. Right Said Fred – “Don’t Talk Just Kiss” / “Don’t Talk Just Kiss (Instrumental)”
  9. Bad Manners – “Lip Up Fatty” / “Night Bus to Dalston”
  10. Cyndi Lauper – “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” / “Right Track Wrong Train”
  11. Feargal Sharkey – “A Good Heart” / “Anger is Holy”
  12. Bruce Willis – “Under the Boardwalk” / “Jackpot (Bruno’s Bop)”
  13. Sergio Mendes & Brasil ’66 –  “The Fool on the Hill” / “With a Little Help From My Friends”
  14. Pat Benatar – “Love is a Battlefield” / “Here’s My Heart”
  15. Gloria Gaynor – “I Will Survive” / “Anybody Wanna Party?”
  16. Kenny Rogers & The First Edition – “Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love to Town” / “Girl Get a Hold of Yourself”
  17. Showaddywaddy – “Blue Moon” / “I Think I’m Really Going Out of My Mind”
  18. REO Speedwagon – “Keep On Loving You” / “Follow My Heart”
  19. Salt-N-Pepa – “Do You Want Me (Remix)” / “Do You Want Me (Original)”
  20. Carl Douglas – “Kung Fu Fighting” / “Gamblin’ Man”
  21. Judas Priest – “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin'” / “Exciter (Live Version)”
  22. Elvis Costello & The Attractions – “Sweet Dreams” / “Psycho”
  23. Iron Maiden – “Flight of Icarus” / “I’ve Got the Fire”
  24. Motorhead – “Bomber” / “Over the Top”
  25. Village People – “Y.M.C.A.” / “The Women”

My favourite of all of those records is the Donnas single – just awesome rock’n’roll.  They’re a great band, I just wish I had the album on vinyl.

Other classics from Motorhead (one of their best singles, with a beauty on the B-side); Judas Priest at their best; great Small Faces and one of the greatest singles of all time – “Kung Fu Fighting”.  If I remember, I was actually up on my feet at that point, doing a few martial arts inspired moves.  I’d been drinking, after all.

There’s a fair spread of cheese in that lot too, though you can’t go wrong with “Y.M.C.A.”, “I Will Survive” and “A Good Heart”.  Not to mention one of my childhood favourites, “Whispering Grass”.  Enjoyable songs all.

The one real stinker of the bunch was the Bruce Willis tune.  I remember liking that as a kid, ‘cos I was a fan of Moonlighting.  Listening to it again – with its terrible 80’s production and Bruce’s “adequate” voice ruining a soul classic – it’s less Die Hard than Die of Embarrassment.

Till next time!

The Electric Mud – Burn the Ships Album Review

Another album review that appeared not too long ago on EVER METAL – now catching up on my site:

The Electric Mud – Burn the Ships

Self Released (Dewar PR)

Release date: 23/08/2019

Running time: 38 minutes

Review by: Alun Jones

8/10

Let’s get the important stuff covered off first.  For any of you who thought this band were something to do with that lot from the seventies who sang “Tiger Feet”, you’re wrong.  The Electric Mud have very little in common with their glam rock similar-name sakes.  Of course, a professional such as myself would never make a mistake like that.

The Electric Mud hail from Fort Myers, Florida – and specialise in a making a steaming hot gumbo of stoner rock and dense, swampy blues.

“Burn the Ships” is the Electric Mud’s second album.  Through the course of seven songs, the listener travels from the sweltering everglades through time and space – as vintage sounds melt with modern.

Opening track “Call the Judge” oozes an irresistible Southern rock’n’roll groove, starting proceedings with a triumphant swagger.  Grab a beer and a whiskey chaser, you know it’s going to be a lively night in the Roadhouse.

The Electric Mud show their stoner credentials on tracks like “Priestess”, which melds inventive riffs with pace and dynamics.  “Good Monster” weaves funky, head bobbing grooves and “Reptile” lunges out of the depths, attacking like a gator whose mother’s been made into a pair of shoes.

There’s some stunning musicianship on display here; the guitars of Constantine Grim and Pete Kolter are crunchy yet nimble when required.  Tommy Scott’s bass rumbles and glides perfectly.  Pierson Whicker’s drums can smash and bang yet can be refined when necessary.  Kolter’s voice, smoky yet soulful, is an addictive asset in itself.

Songs range from rocking brawlers to heartfelt blues with awesome proficiency.  “Black Wool” and “Terrestrial Birds” showcase these slower moments really well, allowing the music to breathe and worm its way under your skin.

The variety of sound – together with the confident delivery and clever song writing – is what makes “Burn the Ships” engaging and successful.  In the best tradition of stoner rock, The Electric Mud can combine old and new, fast and smooth, dirty and graceful.  Their Southern charm, marinated in the blues, give this band their unique identity.

Although it feels maybe one song too short, “Burn the Ships” is full of character and demands repeat listens.

By the way, I used to see quite a bit of Mud – and lots of other glam rock bands – in the early seventies.  Mud used to take a paddling pool everywhere with them, to do some backstage mud wrestling.  Hence the name, you see?  Though it never worked.  Not once did they persuade lovely dance troupe Pan’s People to get involved.  Or Suzi Quatro.  It usually just ended with the band in the mud bath, drunk on Babycham and fighting with Slade.

The Electric Mud website is here.

The Electric Mud Facebook page is here; Twitter is here and Instagram is here.

Find The Electric Mud on Bandcamp here.

The Best of 2019

Happy New Year, readers!  And welcome back to Platinum Al’s Virtual Hot Tub – the web’s number one virtual location for soaking in warm, relaxing waters and enjoying my virtual adventures.

What a year 2019 has been.  I’ve been to Comic Cons; written album reviews for Ever Metal; indulged in another traditional Halloween Horror Fest – and finally managed to get to a few gigs.  Food and drinks reviews, as well as toy and tat blogs, have also made a comeback.

But what have been the most popular and widely read blogs in the last year?  Let’s rewind the clocks and take a look, with a good ol’ countdown from ten to the number one spot…

10. Little Shop of Halloween Horror Fests

At last!  Some Halloween Horror Fest love, with my final set of reviews breaking into the Top 10.  A first for my horror movie reviews, as far as I remember.  A triple bill of The Wolf Man, Little Shop of Horrors and Lust for a Vampire.

9. New Deck 2019 – Death Skateboards Richie Jackson

All about my latest skate set-up, including sexy pictures of a very fine skateboard.

8. Ewok Village Playset

My vintage Star Wars Ewok Village playset made a welcome appearance.  I must feature some more of my collection in the future.

7. That Beer Place

Very happy to see such a cool local beer emporium prove so popular.  Well done, That Beer Place!

6. Liverpool Comic Con 2019 – Part 1

A great day out, and the blog didn’t fare too badly at all.  No sign of Part 2 in the countdown, though…

5. Death by Tacos, Chester

The number one food place in Chester makes a justified appearance in the Top 5 most popular blogs.  Awesome food and service.

4. Tat Trek Update #8: Jo Guest Strip Pen

Miracle of miracles – an item from my Tat collection rockets into the most popular blogs for the first time ever!  Perhaps the saucy nature of the Jo Guest strip pen is to blame…

3. Wales Comic Con 2019

Always a great Comic Con, with fantastic guests and most importantly – as evidenced by this blog – amazing cosplay.

2. MCM Comic Con Birmingham 2019 – Part 1

The first part of my visit to the NEC for Comic Con made it to the number two spot.  Few words but plenty of brilliant cosplay.

And now – announcing the Most Read Blog of 2019 at Platinum Al’s Virtual Hot Tub.  What could it be?  Why it’s…

1. MCM Comic Con Birmingham 2019 – Part 2

Only a couple of views more than Part 1, but Part 2 takes the crown for the most popular blog this year!

It’s great to see a variety of different topics be successful this year.  Comic conventions, food and skateboards always fare well, but I’m very happy to see Star Wars toys and a bit of tat break through for the first time.I’ll endeavour to deliver more in 2020 – who knows what we’ll see?

My thanks to all my readers over the last year – I appreciate every single view, like and comment.  I wish you all a healthy and prosperous 2020.

Platinum Al’s Top 10 Rock/Metal Albums of 2019

2019 has been an exceptional year for new music.  It started off slowly, but by the end of the year I was struggling to keep up.

As per last year, Ever Metal asked me to produce a Top Ten of my favourite rock and metal albums of the year.  So here we go:

  1. Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard – Yn Ol I Annwn
  2. Speedealer – Blue Days Black Nights
  3. Obey – Swallow The Sun
  4. Acid Reign – The Age of Entitlement
  5. Sunn O))) – Life Metal
  6. Earth – Full Upon Her Burning Lips
  7. Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovel – Very Uncertain Times
  8. Giant Dwarf – Giant Dwarf
  9. Monolord – No Comfort
  10. Crobot – Motherbrain

All fantastic records.  Honorable mentions this time to Kadavar, Firebreather, L7, Wizard Rifle and Duel.

For more rock reviews, interviews and top tens, head over to Ever Metal.

Happy New Year everybody – wishing you a very healthy and prosperous 2020!

And thanks for vising Platinum Al’s Virtual Hot Tub!  Make sure you come back next year, and if you’ve got any requests or suggestions, please get in touch.

Christmas Tat 2019

And now for a visual feast of festive tat.  A collection of the odd and the bizarre, rendered in cheap plastic (or glass if you’re lucky).

You may have noticed that certain stores sell “wacky” Christmas baubles, gloriously garish and ridiculously random.  Not the traditional seasonal balls here – we’ve wandered into distinctly abstract territory.

Whilst the groovy shops sell the strange tree trinkets for a tenner, other, less glamorous emporiums are knocking them out for a couple of quid.  And bless ’em, these cheapo ones are usually even more ugly and weird.

Which is where I come in.  As a genuine aficionado of the kitsch Christmas, I have collected some of these decorations from various sources.  They are proudly displayed on our Christmas tree, and here I present them to you for your entertainment.

Enjoy these bad taste baubles, dear reader, and be inspired by the wondrous world of tat.

In the photos below you will see:

  • A taco
  • A guitar
  • A cupcake
  • Santa with a surfboard
  • A pizza slice
  • Some beer
  • Peppers and an ice cream
  • Another taco
  • A VW Beetle
  • A crown and a strawberry
  • A VW camper van with a Christmas tree
  • A crocodile in a UFO (my personal favourite)

 

I want a tattoo of the crocodile in a UFO – spectacular.

Hopefully you’ve enjoyed that trip into the low quality and down right strange.

I would like to wish all my readers a very Merry Christmas!  Thank you for reading Platinum Al’s Virtual Hot Tub, your support is always appreciated.