Tuesday, August 23, 2022

Crescendo Festival- Saint Palais sur Mer, France Aug 20-21st, 2022

Crescendo Festival is the longest running Prog Festival in France. This would have been there 24th edition but due to covid, it was the 22nd!  It was an honour to be invited to play. The organization first contacted us back in 2017 or so and we finally managed to make it happen.  The fest started on Friday the 19th with Anaïd (France), Pymlico (Norway) and Kartagan (Ukraine). We did not arrive until late Friday night to Bordeaux so we did not see any of these bands.  The site is in a beautiful beach town called Saint Palais sur Mer about 120km north of Bordeaux.  Lovely location right on a small fishing bay. Festival is also free... They had a local brewer than made 5 kinds of beer, all very good but the Moon Keeper IPA was the best and made only for the festival!! 

Aug 21st

We had to wait until 15 in the afternoon to be picked up in Bordeaux and arrived in time to hear about half the show of the Italian band, Universal Totem Orchestra, who I really like. They were cool. Esthesis (France) were on before them. 

Next up was a German band from Berlin called Small Tape. This was very Porcupine Tree/Steven Wilson inspired stuff.  They were pretty good. 
Small Tape

Hasse Fröberg and Musical Companion (Flower Kings), his band was great but the music was much like 80s Kansas or Boston, a bit of 90s Marillion. The band were super musicians and they had a huge audience, I guess 1000 people. Nice people and good players.  We got back to the hotel about midnight.

Aug 22nd

Soundcheck was 11 and we were done by 12 and all was good. We had lunch and I set up the merch and we headed back to the hotel until 17… They were supposed to pick 2 of us up at 17 but no one showed up so Jiri and I just sat and talked and around 18, everyone was there but then they showed up with only enough room for 4, so Mogens and Vemund waited for them to take us and come and them. It was a pity as I really wanted to see Ex Odd, they were one of the most interesting bands that were playing but we missed them all since no one showed up at 17.. Oh well. I mostly sat at the Merch table and talked with the fans, sold a few LPs and CDs and t-shirts but not much. London Underground, was an Italian trio (keyboards, bass and drums). I have one CD by them and I liked them a lot. They were really nice people and the keyboard player was a fan. They had some technical problems and delays so the festival was 30mins late now.  I dig their music and vibe a lot though..

London Underground leader and keyboard player

Last Flight to Pluto was a power rock pop band from Wales. They just seemed so “not right” for this festival and was anything but progressive. Lead by a female singer, they had 3 guitar players, bass, drums and loads of pre-recorded stuff. It was way too mainstream. We did not like them at all. Nice people though.  They ended their set with a terrible version of Whole Lotta Love with Rush- Spirit of Radio in the middle. That was bizarre but they did Zep terrible. It had no groove.. Bizzare..

Anyway, we (Oresund Space Collective) were rushed as they have a curfew and all music has to be done at midnight.  We got started about 2230.  It was a high energy set and about 2-300 people were still there. There was 1000 people or more the night before but that was Saturday!  Anyway, we kicked some ass and everyone played so well. Mogen´s modular died half way thru the show though,.  Both Vemund and Jonathan were awesome of the leads and solos and Tim and Jiri just groove like hell. People loved and some said it was the highlight of the festival. It was really fun. We even got a encore and played something more mellow and spacey, which was cool…  …  A great time.. We had some beers and left the festival site about 115… I was so tired.. Did not get to bed until 205…  A pretty diverse and awesome festival and this was the best we had ever been treated by any festival.. Merci Prog Patt, Jean-Luc, Sara and all the other amazing staff...  Highly recommended. 


International Space Station Vol 1 (Worst Bassists Records )

This is a really cool compilation record with 4 album long side tracks, with Side A starting off with Elon Musk playing Gods of the Swamp Planet. It slowly fades up with spacey new age like synths followed by some guitar noodling as the track slowly grows. The bass now starts to enter the picture and a min later or so the drums are starting to rise up!  The delay guitar is really lovely on this track as you just float away with the guitar the main focus and the synths largely evaporated in the background until the end when the track spaces out again and you can hear them more clearly for a while and then they bring it back up with that sort of post rock guitar solo style. It gets quite heavy at the end… Dynamic track..

Man, that Electric Moon Duality track has such cool drums-percussion and a really heavy driving bass line. The flangy vibrato guitar is really cool as well. This best track they had made in a while, I think.. I really loved it.  Powerful stuff. 

Kungens Män have a much darker theme and feel to the music straight away. It is quite hypnotic at times but also the two guitar parts balance with one soloing intensely while the other a bit more dominant, taking it easy with some long delay and space in the sounds and notes..  Can be quite trippy at times. It becomes more relaxed and there is an almost like Spanish guitar section which is really cool as the vibe still is dark and moody…. 

Kanaan features a track called Beyond and it starts slowly with just bass and some percussion and drums. Like the Elon track that started things off this is also as slow growing floating affair with the main focus on the lovely guitar playing with delay.  Nice build and great sound production. Half way thru the drums and bass really kick it in and the guitar is forced to go for it or be lost by the energy of the rhythm section. Some synths sounds are mixed in here and there as well to add some extra atmosphere….. This band has such cool dynamics, I think that is what makes the most special…. A great comp with different moods…  Buy it!!


Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Sonic Blast Festival, Vila praia de Ançora Portugal Aug 10-13th, 2022

It takes us a bit more than 3hrs to drive to this coastal sea front town in the very north of Portugal.  We are staying in an apartment about 15mins walk from the festival site.  When we are arrived our friends were already there.  It was about 1830. We put out stuff in and headed over to get our wristbands and drink tickets. This went pretty smooth saw Roberto from Deepa Fuzz blog.  What a great guy. Ricardo and Thelma, both super nice..  All seem to be in order. The festival site is very different from there the other editions of the festival were in Moledo.  

Anyway, a bit after 20, they let people into the food court. They had a drink stand outside the entrance but you can not bring those drinks in, which is a bit strange. Anyway, a light search and you are in.  I guess you can have 5000 people in this site.  Camping is in the forest which is nice and they have several fire trucks about due to fire risk as Portugal has been so dry this year. 

7 places to feed all these people..  Going to be a bit of chaos once the festival gets going as there is only one small hamburger joint on the walk to the festival and that is it for food.  We will see. The pizza we had was good but very thin on the toppings.  Pepperoni and mushroom but I guess there was less than 1 mushroom and maybe 2 pieces of pepperoni split in half on the entire pizza. Also hardly any cheese, just a lot of bread and sauce…  7.5€..

Temple Fang
Temple Fang
The first band was a local noise rock duo. NO idea what they were called but it was terrible.  The sound was awful, not just bad, but awful. Out where most people were standing it was a lot of bass and some cymbals. NO definition in the sound at all. Granted the guitar player who played thru a bass amp and guitar amp had tons of distortion.  He also used a lot of vocal effects.  Anyway, they played until 2235 and then it took a while to set up Temple Fang but thankfully, they had their own sound guy.  They started about 15mins late and played an hour set of I think 5 songs. It really liked it a lot. Sue and I were talking to the guys earlier. Such nice people. Anyway, the set was very dynamic, spacey, heavy at times.  Great use of the 3 vocals as well. Jevin and Dennis share the lead vocals.  There was a time in the middle when they spaced out they were losing the audience a bit, people were talking around us quite a bit but then they got the groove going again, Great stuff.

Me and some of the El Perro Guys
El Perro did not get going until nearly 0030 but what a powerful sound and groove.  I bought the LP at the merch and Parker and a couple of the other guys signed the record, which was cool.  Parker was drinking rose wine from the bottle at this time and it was like 3hrs before they were going to play. I guess he wanted to loosen up. Man, he rips it on the guitar.  We did not hear the entire concert as we are old and tired after the trip today.  We could hear them quite clear back where we stay though.  

We did not see Toxic Shock (thrash metal) who also play tomorrow and Misleading. I spoke to Diogo and their lovely female synth player from Misleading but they were not on until 2 in the morning and even later now that things were 30mins later. Pity…. I wanted to see them. Met the drummer from Travo as we were leaving last night as well. I dig their band.  They are also on super late so we will not see them either. 

Day 2

Up at around 9 and it is foggy here but a pleasant temperature outside.. A lot of car noise as we are right on a big highway roundabout looking out to the sea. 

The first band on is 1440 with Pledge a sort of indie punk with shouting vocals.  Madmess is next on the 2nd stage and then the Devil and the Almighty Blues!  Madmess came out on time and had the biggest audience they have ever played for and the people dug it… Seems they play more or less the same set for the last months but they do it well.  Ended with Stargazer but then Vasco and Luis started a new jam and Sam had already left the stage and he had to come back on. They were not supposed to play more but it was only 5mins..   Audience loved it.

Intro, Rebirth, Albatross, Mind Collapse, Shape Shifter, Stargazer, short jam piece

The Devil and the Almighty Blues from Norway had not played a gig in 2.5 years and the sound guy I was talking with had not even seen the most of the band in the last few years. He said most of a 4th album was in progress or done. They only played the same set as they played last time here when the weather was so bad and stormy that not many people saw them. Cool to hear them again. I like the band but wish they did more guitar solo parts.. 

Salt the Earth, Root to Root, Lay Down, Time Ruins Everything, The Ghosts of Charlie Barracuda

Another Norwegian band, Slomosa was next on the 2nd stage. I had only heard a few songs on the internet.  They play a sort of Indie stoner rock.  They had a big audience and people seem to dig it but most of it was not for me…. no guitar solos even though they have 2 guitar players.  Singer sound a bit like Nick from Elder at times.  It was ok…. Set list included most or all these songs..

King Buffalo, was the band of the festival that I was most looking forward to see.  I spoke briefly with the bass player at the merch. He was very friendly…  They did not get much of a soundcheck but the sound guy dialled it in pretty fast. They have awesome PA so most of the bands have sounded really great.. The main house sound man is really great and cool… Knows that the guitars need to be loud.. Anyway, King Buffalo have this special bass groove that they hook you with and although they over use it a bit. They have great dynamics and cool songs. Whatever the last song of the set they played, that was a killer.  Hope it is from the new album. It was a great show. They did not disappoint..

We needed some food so we only heard but did not see Meatbodies. They had a big crowd. They is 5000 day tickets, per day.. the festival site is big, it never really felt super crowded so far. Very easy to get drinks with the plastic cup you have to buy and token system. While everyone liked the Moledo festival site better with the football pitch, some trees and the pool stage, this one is pretty functional with all 3 stages side by side so easy to go between stages. There is basically no break between bands though. Sometimes 5-10mins but sometimes, just straight into the next band..  Meatbodies was hard rock… 

We heard the entire W.I.T.C.H. concert but half of it at the sea watching the sun go down. It was perfect. This is an old Zambian band but this line up only has the original keyboard player and a bunch of young white guys. It was cool to hear these old songs from the early albums (I have them on tape) and they also played some new material as well. I filmed one of the songs. I really liked them a lot. I wish I had recorded the whole show.. It was nice and groovy most of the time with some awesome fuzzy and cool wah guitar.. Some songs were a bit weak but overall it was an excellent choice..

Nebula, the stage area was packed.. The band started off a bit nervous, perhaps, Eddie was not really in the groove and the fingers were a bit slow but they really kicked some ass later in the show with some great tracks like Full Throttle…. They for sure played at least 2 songs from the new album I got so high and I think Warzone Superwolf. They ended the set with Out of my Head. They were supposed to have Nick Oliveiri join them for the last track but he was on the stage next to them playing his bass to get his amp ready for the Stöner show that was to directly flow and it did. 

Within 1min of Nebula ending and not getting Nick to come over, Stöner just started their line check-soundcheck and straight into the set… never looking back…  The albums are ok but live they were fucking great.. I think this is just what I needed and I was really into the gig.. They played a mix of the first two albums and ended with the Kyuss song, Green Machine.  55min set..  Much more heavy than I expected and some good grooves..  

Set List: Rad Stays Rad, The Older Kids, Stand Down, Own Yer Blues, ?, Green Machine

We really wanted to see Slift from France but we would have to sit another hour and listen to the thrash punk metal of Toxic Shock and we were tired and just not in the mood. We had been there hearing bands straight for 8 hrs now… We are near or over 60 now so it is a long day and we often miss the last bands. There was still Travo at 0120 and Cobrafuma at 0215!!  I bet they were good… Our friends we attend the festival with said Slift had really good visuals and it was a great show. 

Day 3

The camping is set up in a forest next to the festival site. One is not going to get a lot of sleep in this camping site!!  Music ends like 3-4 the morning and this morning at 1030 they are already sound checking the bands using full volume on the PA. We stay about 2km away and it you could hear it very clearly… So maybe there is 6-7hrs of silence.. 

We were up about 9 and in bed about 0030 last night… Could hear Slift playing in the distance.  The first band today is Rosy Finch on the 3rd stage at 14.. Not sure if we will hear her or not.. We did not..

We got there just in time to catch the last 10mins of 24/7 Diva Heaven, which was three ladies playing punk rock.. They have the energy and give it all but I did not find it interesting.  Crowd was having fun though.. They did have a great male sales person in the merch trying to sell their stuff after…

Next up was the strange and interesting Spanish occult fantasy rock group, Luna Viaja.  Cool costumes and cool stage set up.  Bass player took over the drums and the female drummer then became one of the singers- actors…. it was dark rock with a doomy element here and there. Quite entertaining but musically not that interesting for me. 

The Dutch band, the Machine were first on the main stage.  Last time I saw them was at Sonic Blast. I was not sure what to expect.  There early albums are very guitar driven and solo driven stuff and their later albums a bit more polished and shorter songs and even a bit of QOTSA influence.  This set though was mostly the jammed out stuff and they did at least one, new song and said they will have a new album next year. They were really cool and jammed out a lot. A more heavy set than I expected and some cool visuals as well. I hung out with the drummer and bass player a bit during the day and a bit in the night. Cool guys…

Set list: First Unique Prime, Crack You, Awe, Genau or Never, Wave Cannon and Gamma….

Green Lung from London are gathering quite a big reputation now and I only own the first CD but the new one had great reviews. I was looking forward to see them. They put on a great show and the audience was totally into it.. While they do not deliver anything really that new, this heavy doom rock (Pentagram, Sabbath, Witchcraft inspired) is pretty full, the throw in a really great front man and also a great lead guitar player who does plenty of solos.  The audience dug it for sure and were headbanging. Cool set with a mixture of a lot from the first album and the new one.  Good set..

The Harrowing, Old Gods, The Ritual Tree, You Bear the Mark, Call of the Coven, Reaper’s Scythe, Leaders of the Blind, Graveyard Sun, Woodland Rites, Let the Devil In

Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs were next on the main stage and they delivered a high energy and heavy set. We only heard it from the food court as we had to get something to eat at this time. They had a big crowd and people were into it for sure. I had seen them at Reverence Festival in maybe 2016??  

Anyway, El Perro was the band I was most looking forward to see at the festival. We only really heard the other show from the distance as it was too late.  Anyway, they were dressed to kill and in a good mood. I had been talking with the rhythm guitar player over the last days and they were really enjoying themselves here in Portugal. Anyway, the band just was killer… They nailed that funky 70s groove rock and played at least one totally new song and ended the show with the killer Black Sands from the new album which after the drum section which was extended here with a great conga, percussion and drums, they came back and did the Santana Soul Sacrifice tribute.. Blew me away. Great band.. My fave so far of the festival…

Frankie and Witch Fingers, wow…. who would have expected this.. This band had a made high strung singer/guitar player, female bassists, the most intense drummer of the whole festival and another guitar player who did the solos and played a bit of keyboard.. It was just 50 mins of high energy kick ass rock and roll with a bit of a punky edge. Blew me away…   I should have bought one of their albums..

CONAN……. wow.. every time I had seen CONAN, they were the loudest band at the festival. The share the soundman with Electric Wizard (a heavily tatoo¨d and mean looking guy). Sure enough, it was at least 10db louder than any band, maybe more. The house sound guy even told him, he needed to turn it down a bit!!  Anyway, the crushed the place with their massive wall of distorted nasty, evil guitar, forced screamed tortured vocals.  The audience was totally into this one dimensional wall of noise.  I give it to them, they lay down a fucking nasty sound and are heavy as fuck.  YOu need to be in the mood for this or you will not like them at all.  They played a new song and said they have a new album on the way. The best song was the 3rd to last one where they did a min or so of really spacey stuff with some delay and wah guitar. That was pretty much the only real major change in the nasty distorted guitar that sounds like bass… Far out.. Set list was something like below..

Total Conquest, Prosper on the Path, Hawk as Weapon, Satsumo, Levitation Hoax, Gravity Chasm, Righteous Alliance, Volt Thrower, Foehammer, Battle in the Swamp, Paincantation

WITCH, J. Mascus stoner heavy band were next on the big stage and the crowd was big… They laid it down heavy for sure. I think they started off a bit slow but the last half of the show was really good.  I do not know their music at all but the last few tracks seem to be their hits or something as people were really into it.. It was pretty cool…

Moura, a quite unique and different band from Galicia in Spain was the last band before Electric Wizard, where the crowd had already filled the stage next to these guys waiting… Anyway, it was a colourful 7 piece band with female drummer and percussion/vocalist and a guy how played sax, percussion and harmonica, two guitar players, one was the lead vocalist, bass and a cool keyboard player with vintage hammond with Leslie, malotron, moog….  We heard most of the show from a distance but it was really nice music.. On the Spinda label..  A nice change from the heavy stuff before EW!

Electric Fucking Wizard…..  They walk on the stage with attitude…  They know this is what the people want…. The open with Come my Fanatics and the audience is in the palm of their hand!!  

They have an awesome and fucking loud sound and great visuals.. It was a cool concert.  I wish I had recorded the entire thing.  Lots of guitar solos and movies.. Damn.. good time.

The set list was something like this:  Come my Fanatics, Satanic Rites of Drugula, The Chosen Few, Incense for the Damned, Black Mass, Funeralopolis

There was still Kaleidobolt from Finland, The Goners and Deathchant on this night but it was just too late already. We did not get to bed before 0130..

Day 4

We are too fucking old for this but we still do it..   Starts too early today so I doubt we will make it to see Orange Goblin at midnight, but we will see….  Mythic Sunship had to cancel as the drummer caught covid…. They replaced them with the US band from LA, Deathchant.  Anyway, we arrived at 14 to catch Samavayo from Berlin. They were an old school stoner band from the late 1990s… Still going…  They only had about 40mins to rock before Black Wizards on the main stage. I was not so into the opening couple of songs but then they really got the groove and it was great. It was a small crowd, maybe 150 people… The singer sung one song in Persian and said that if you came and sang him a song in Persian at the merch he would give you a free gift! One person did later!! 

Set List: 

The Black Wizards, I may have seen them years ago at Reverence but I feel like this is really the first time I have really seen them and they were excellent. Such a diverse and cool set of songs. Mostly from the new and their best album Reflections. One of the songs which was a lot like the old blues number Evil (as Cactus did it) they took into a new direction with a few bars of 21st Century Schizoid Man by King Crimson. That was cool… Anyway, they did rock, psych, blues, and the audience loved it. Maybe 500 people..  Great job people…

Deathchant, I had no idea what to expect and they are mean looking tattooed guys but man, they put on a killer show. It was like old school UFO and NWOBHW mix with a lot of duel guitars, lots of solos. I just was not very fond of the singing but damn they did a killer high energy set. My wife loved them and bought the shirt and cd:.. What a surprise..

Psychlona from the North of England laid down a really good set of what I call relaxed stoner grooves and vibes. While I miss the guitar solos, the two guitar players do some interesting melodic guitar notes rather regular solos…. Cool songs and grooves. People were really into it for sure. They have a new album out in Sept, I think he said and they played 2 new songs in the set. 

Set List: Gas, 1975, Blast Off, Rainbird, Valley, Purple River, Devil, Warped. 

Bala was this insane angry all female Spanish Duo.. The drummer, her friend told me teaches drums, was an animal. Man did she have energy and kick ass. The blonde guitar player and main vocalist, she was pissed off and angry and just played nasty riffs, no solos….  It was crazy stuff. Fun to see but I can not imagine listening to this at home. Audience was packed and loved it… Wild..

Mdou Maktar was something totally different. A band from Niger with three African guys and one white dude on bass.  They had a great energy and the place was dancing and it made everyone really happy. What a cool success and change of pace for everyone. The lead singer and lead guitar player, he was a tall guy and had long fingers, played a lot of solos, mostly sounded the same as he did not use any effects.  Bass and drums lines were often a lot the same on many of the songs but it was a great vibe and people enjoyed it. Bring Bassekou Kouyate and Ng Ba next time Ricardo…

Atomic Bitchwax, I spoke a lot with Bob and Gavin. This was the last gig of the 7 weeks in Europe which started at Freak Valley in June. These guys just play insane. The riffs are awesome, the bass lines intense, the drums pounding and the energy just insane..  It is no wonder they are so tight, it is mostly the same songs they play ever year every tour so they should know them well but just an awesome band. Which they would just drop most of these tracks and pick up another set of 10 to 15 for the next tour… Awesome band and super nice people…. 

Pentagram was next on the main stage and I just happen to run into Bobby. Wow.. what a chance that was. Got a pick but he was in a mad mood as Vitor and the other PT guy from the Limit (released on Svart last year) said they were here. And he was like running around the festival site, where the fuck is here???  Anyway, I got my picture and said good luck and have a great gig. He looks a lot older and whiter than the last time I met him in Greece in 2015, I think.. Anyway, the band was focusing mainly on 70s stuff this tour except for Relentless and Review your Choices, I think it was all old tracks..  It did not start off that well. I really miss Victor on guitar, the new guy was really off to start but really kicked ass as the gig went along.  I had fun.. it was not the worst Pentagram gig but far from the best either. Cool Bobby still has it in him to play this stuff for the audience… 

1000 Mods, what a great stoner band from Greece.  I had recently mixed one of their multitrack shows and the merch guy said they dug it and he did too.  They played most of the same songs as in April but what a great sound and vibe they have and both guitar players do cool solos and the grooves are good.. No wonder they have a big following in Portugal.. I think they sold a ton of merch…   Seemed like people were there all the time…

My Sleeping Karma, had to cancel at Sonic Blast 2019, so they were finally back in Portugal or maybe this was the first time ever. Anyway, the larger German guys were in a great mood and really were having fun. The way the guitar and bass player interact with each other in front of the drum kit, is nice…  They have a special sound and for me most of the songs sound so much a like but man, they are awesome at what they do, with the vibe and emotion they create and cool visuals as well. Not enough of the bands took advantage of the visual screen on the main stage.  Solid show.. 

Set List: The Four Horsemen, Ephedra, Akasha, Prema (possible set list)

Orange Goblin, Weedeater and Mister Miyagi were too late for us but we heard a lot of the Orange Goblin show from the distance it was a high energy kick ass biker rock show.  I heard Weedeater were super heavy and great as well and that the singer in Mr Miyagi was totally wasted and quite funny….

Just an awesome festival. So many great bands every day.. The best bands?? Hard to say?? The bands I liked the best???  El Perro, Atomic Bitchwax, The Machine, Electric Wizard, Black Wizards, Stoner, King Buffalo…. the most surprising acts were W.IT.C.H. and Mdou Makar and especially Frankie and the Witch Fingers. The energy of that drummer and band, was off the chart.  Really great festival.. Thanks to Ricardo, Thelma and all the amazing staff and sound people, who did a great job...

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

The Dark Side of the Cult- A Tribute to Blue Oyster Cult (Black Widow Records BWRCD46-2)

It was an honour to be invited to contribute a song to this great compilation… Anyway, this is 150mins of music and features 29 different bands and then Albert Bouchard (original BOC drummer) also provides his take of Baby Ice Dog (used to play this with the Brain Surgeons).  The album is tracked from the oldest BOC track to the most recent album. Transmaniacon starts things off with, of course, Transmanicon MC!!  They have slowed it down a bit and have a female vocalist but do a nice version…Salem Cross is next with a heavy version of Stairway to the Stars.. Fairly close to the original.  Presence do a very cool and interesting take on Before the Kiss, A Recap.. So far this is the most unique so far… Belladonna have a female singer and strip away Mistress of the Salmon Salt to its bear basics with a drum machine and make it quite interesting, Bretus slow down Career of Evil and this works really well.  They also throw in a powerful female backing vocal. Epitaph´s Wings Wetted is done in an Iron Maiden style. I quite liked that twist… Bullfrog take on Dominance and Submission. They nail the groove. Singer has a special voice but he is passionate.  Witchwood, the singer is very close to Eric. Wow.. They stick pretty close to the original on this one.  Blue Dawn take on the ambitious Astronomy to end the normal CD. The female vocal is a new twist. She has a great voice but you can tell she is not used to sing in English. Musically the intro is very different and spacey. I dug the heavy echo on the vocal at times and intense guitar soloing at the end. Nice job. There is a bonus track of The Last Days of May by Simone Baldini Tosi and Cristiano Roversi. I have to stay they do a unique take where they sort of turn it into a Bowie like track with drum machines, mellotrons, lots of keys and very laid back and the long guitar solo and rocking part is removed completely.  

CD2 starts with The Forty Days and Don´t Fear the Reaper. Probably one of the most difficult songs to do a cover of and try to keep the feel but try to do something original as well. Better to play it safe and play it nearly the same. I liked the synth line at the intro section that was different and more prominent but they do it well, if not in a very unique way…..  The Revenge of Vera Gemini was a very unique and interesting version.  Poobah, did good on Godzilla. Great long guitar solo section and powerful. Lifestream´s version of Death Valley Nights was also very unique.  Gothic Stone took on Nosteratu, a quite unusual track to choose… I proposed a few to Martin and we decided on the Vigil and we took a BOC meets Hawkwind style and made it instrumental. Fun… Freddy Delirio and ther Phantoms do the great song, Black Blade. They do it pretty close to the original. Freddy has a cool voice to make it a bit more creepy…Ottone Pesante go for Monsters and a quite heavy spaced version, wow.. This caught me off guard but I liked it.. A real adventurous take with mainly trombone, trumpet and drums!!! Ape Shifter take on the bands biggest hit from the 80s, Burnin´for You.. They play it a bit faster on the intro and main parts. The Mugshots do one of my fave 80s tracks from BOC, Veteran of the Psychic Wars.  Strange mix… kick drum is the loudest instrument in the mix… did not like this one much. Jack Meille and the Blue Machine take on Soul Survivor.  Eric´s vocals are awesome on the original and Jack does a good job.  They do the track pretty close to the original. One of the few non-Italian acts, SMED from Sweden kill it with Heavy Metal Black and Silver!…. Well done guys. One of my faves..Very powerful vocal performance! The Lancasters try out a high energy version of Demon´s Kiss. with some heavier riffs.  Good job. Runaway Totem do one from the latest BOC album. The Alchemist.  One of the best tracks from that album.  Always liked Runaway Totem and this experimental sax driven version is a trip..  One last bonus track on the CD is Death SS taking on Godzilla!!! 

Super cool tribute… Well done bands.. Great stuff and long booklet.. etc..

Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Us and Them- And I Observed the Blue Sky (Withdrawn Music 006 2022)

Us and Them is a Swedish duo.  I first reviewed them when they appeared on one of the Fruits der Mer compilations doing a cover of Julia Dream or was it the Sandy Denny tribute??  The duo of Anders Håkansson and Britt Ronnholm, have been around making music since 2005 and their last full length record was in 2018. This album features 11 tracks of some very beautiful music.  Inspired by UK folk, Swedish folk and more modern styles..  Where wonder comes From starts things off with acoustic guitar, keyboards (by Per Lindblom) and Britt on vocals. The way the keyboard follows the slowly spoken vocal is a nice touch. Looks like it is Clearing Up features some drums and bass as well as acoustic guitar and female voice (sometimes in layers). A beautiful song. Evening Song also features Per on keyboards.  There is some flute on this track and interesting lyrics. (Here I end Up) When I Dream is quite simple but a very emotional song. Some very nice guitar parts. In Bude is a more popular like music number but also a bit dark edge with the way the bowed instrument is used. The title track features piano, keys and vocals. In between Times uses keyboards to accent the guitar on this slow moving track. Vocals are almost spoken word at times. Fogwalking uses some bells at times on this slightly faster lightly strummed acoustic number and one of the longer ones on the CD. A Blessing or a Curse (video below) and  August Evenings brings some drums and bass back. Decline finishes off this new album by the Swedish duo.. Not sure if they plan to tour or what? The music is all very relaxed and laid back and quite beautiful.  The band prove you can do a lot with out too much instrumentation.  Enjoy...



Astral Magic- Alien Visitations (Noiseagonymayhem NAM002)

This is the latest and the 8th/9th release for 2022 by the space music project by Santtu Laakso based in Helsinki. This is a limited edition tape in 50 copies. It is mostly instrumental but he does sing on Crop Circles, Cloud Diving and there are some spoken words on Return to the Space Cabin.  He uses a wide range of Moog and other synthesizers on these 13 tracks.  The music is quite relaxed at times but always spacey. There is use of drum machines on some tracks and some bass guitar but it is mostly very synth based. This is one of the rare recent releases with no guest musicians at all.  Pretty cool stuff, once again…    Look out for the next released in Sept, a limited edition CD in 100 copies featuring Jonathan Segel (Sista Maj, Camper Van Beethoven, Oresund Space Collective)… 





Wednesday, August 3, 2022

Matus- Espejismos II (EI 047)

Matus is an off shoot of the original Don Juan Matus from Peru that released some really cool rocking records some years back. This release (on CD) features 10 tracks. The opening is a great track with new drums recorded in 2021 from the album Visiones Paganas (2008).. Polarias from the debut album in 2007 remixed with new drums and theremin sounds really great… UmBral is interestingly a mono track and has a special sound for sure but it is ok… Summerland also with new drums rocks!!! Misquamacus is a dark and heavy one but the chorus vocals give it a really different vibe..  This also has new drums. The final track is Adiós Affallenau, dedicated to Gerardo Manuel Rojas Rodó and Fernado Vial Cabailero!!! I guess…  Very cool track and a totally different vibe than most of the record.   This is a really cool album with a remixing of 5 tracks, as well as 2 early version tracks and what appear to be at least one unreleased track (Rocky Black, which is a quite experimental sound collage of sorts). A very nice package with a printed sleeve (rare to see in a CD) with archive pictures of the band and the other side a picture of all the releases by Don Juan Matus and Matus..



Datura 4- Neanderthal Jam (Alive Records)

5th album from the Australian rocks, Datura 4 and another bunch of classic rock with a bluesy feel and footstomping grooves like the opening track, Going Back!  They are still fronted by charismatic leader, Dom Mariani on the vocals and guitar.  I like the great mix of fun, catchy songs but they all have the hard rock edge and they are not scared to take a long guitar solo or other instrumental sections in all the songs. Secret Society keeps the good time music rolling in a slightly slower bit more straightforward rock and roll number but still footstomping good. Open the Line is the first track to feature that classic rock organ driven track.  It has a nice spaced out ending section which I really liked. Bad Times, sounds like a lot of the bands other older tracks. This one features a piano line to compliment the song and a bit of slide guitar. Black Speakers is a slower track and love the vibe and cool wah guitar solo.. Great track and something to mix it up a bit! The title track is an instrumental with a different sound for the album and they throw a bit of harmonica in as well. Was not that much of a cool jam though but a cool song. Hold my Life is an acoustic and harmonica driven track about the state of information in the world.  A Worried Man´s boogie tells a current story but boogies on!!!  Digging my own Grave is returns to where the album began with an upbeat rocker with a cool organ jam in the middle.  One of the most rocking songs on the album. Fish Fry slows it down with a slow groove with the organ playing a nice supporting role.  Drive by Island closes out the album with another acoustic track. Reminds me of the 70s like Little Feat, Allmans, etc… Another cool album but not that many new ideas. Band sticks with their tried and true way of constructing songs, vocal parts, choruses… If it works.. 

Fans of Gin Lady, Blackberry Smoke should dig this band…


Sons of Adam- Saturday´s Sons (The Complete Recordings 1964-66) (High Moon Records HMR013)

Sons of Adam was a short lived group that featured Randy Holden (Blue Cheer) and Craig Tarwater later playing in LOVE. Some of the guys also played in a surf band called Fender IV and some of those tracks are also included at the very end.  I have never heard any of this material.  There are all the tracks from the 3 singles the band released and then about 30mins of live material that is all unreleased.  This shows the more raw like Mr Sun, reminds me of early Pretty Things, Animals (no organ in this band). They also do a version of the THEM song, Gloria! Having a bit of jam. Your a better man that I (Yardbirds) is a really good version as well. The CD comes with a big booklet with a full history and interviews with some of the guys including Randy Holden. The end section is an article about a woman who used to book shows for them from the Fender IV days thru Sons of Adam days and travel with the band, etc…   You can hear the roots of some more hard rocking sound than what was happening in CA at the time but certainly Pretty Things, Animals, Kinks, had some as heavy or heavier riffs than these..  Anyway, I enjoyed hearing this….  Check it out… Nice package..

Warren Zevon- Every Album, Every Song by Peter Gallagher (Sonic Bond Publishing)

I have to say I only really know his song, Werwolves of London but this was a quite interesting book.  He was clearly a very talented artist who was admired by a lot of people as virtually every one of his albums had famous people producing or playing on them from Jackson Brown, Neil Young, David Lindley, Mick Fleetwood, John McVie, David Gilmour, Chick Corea, Jerry Garcia, REM, Dwight Yoakim, Bob Dylan, Don Felder, George Clinton, Joe Walsh, Anton Fig, Tony Levin, and many more…. 

HIs career had major ups and downs from being well respected song writer and having a few hits to albums that did not even chart at all.  He battled alcohol for many years, sex addiction but died at age 56 of a lung disorder usually related to being exposed to asbestos.  Peter does a very good job of charting through all the albums and detailing what was going on his life that lead up to the set of songs that was recorded.  He is also critical enough but not too critical to point out the best things and also the worst things. 

HIs first recordings were in the mid 60s and his first solo album in 1970. It was not until 1976, his 2nd album would come out and then this is when things started to happen for him, mostly because Jackson Browne really believed in him and got him record contacts in the 70s and the 80s. He was good friends with David Letterman and some famous Hollywood people as well.  A very well balanced book. I learned a lot.  Well done..


Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Iron Maiden and Within Temptation (also Airbourne) 31/07/2022- Nacional Estádio, Lisboa, Portugal

This was a very tough experience going to this concert at the old national Stadium.  It was 4 train stops from our hotel, which was not bad but a long 25 min to the stadium area and then some quite steep stairs with no rails up into the forest where we had to enter the stadium for our ticket area. Airborne stared at 18 or so so we missed them completely.  We were very tired and thirsty. It was 38C today…  We had already finished our bottle of water. They let you bring in the water bottle without the top but there were no places to fill it it anywhere!!!  They did not let you bring in water and there is no access to water except for buying it!  In the upper level where everyone who was in the stands (10,000??), there were 6 stands to buy drinks with 2 people working in each.  The cue was at least 100 people and you had to wait an hr or more to get any kind of drink.  I managed to say my wife was passing out, we both nearly were due to the heat and got two small bottles of water from a medic.  That had to last us the next 4 hrs since it was impossible to get any liquids… Totally fucked up.. They had way more places for drinks down on the field but our ticket did not allow you to do down to the field..  This was fucked.. The food was just a nightmare as well as they had one line to get to buy the food, cue in the next line to pick up the food and they sold no drinks.. Totally fucked up. Never going to this place again.. It is Portugal, so I guess I should not be that surprised that they have not been able to figure out an organized way to do anything.  I still love this country...

Stage was massive.  Within Temptation is not at all our kind of music. Melodic power metal with new age pad keys or choir keys, operatic vocals (she is awesome) and no instrumental solos at all hardly.  I was really bored.. The audience up front really were into it but around us, I think most people felt the same.  I was quite shocked that the tour shirts were 40€!! I guess it has been way too long since I had been to a huge show like this. I make shirts for my band and I know they pay no more than about 5€ for these shirts when they print them in such bulk.  Maybe it is 7 now with inflation..

Anyway, the change over was very fast.. 30mins and Iron Maiden (saw them first time in June 1981!!) are back on stage in front of me….   They opened with 3 songs from the new album (which I really liked a lot) and 2 of the 3 were great songs. They struggled with the sound a bit to start. You could not hear Steve Harris at all and the drums were super boomy.  They did not let WT use the screens (which were pretty small) but I loved the way that the soundman boosted the guitar solo a few db and every guitar solo was up on the screen for the entire solo. They did not film the drummer or Bruce when the guitar solos were on. This is the way it should be. None of this superfast camera change ever 2-3 seconds like on Rockplaast (fucking terrible).. Awesome video..  Anyway, the set changed from medieval Japan to a church like for Revelations and the next long batch of songs. The set list was the same the entire tour but besides the lame Blood Brothers and Fear of the Dark (never liked this song), the set was cool… Sign of the Cross, Flight of Icarus, Hallowed be they Name, The band play so good still. Steve harris used to run all over the place but he stays in the same part of the strange most of the concert. Mick Jagger is more active for sure. Bruce is all over and Janick is jumping around in his part of the stage with rare ventures to the middle. Dave stays hidden in his far left corner of the stage. We could only see him when he was on the screen from where we were on the left side. Nico still plays well but with no power anymore. I miss that aggression in the drums.. it feels a bit off to me the light hitting.  Hey, the guy is 74 years old and still has to work hard. 

The encores were The Trooper, Clansman, Run to the HIlls and Aces High.. The total show as about 100mins.  Probably 90mins of music with all the intros etc. Band was in great shape and Bruces sounded incredible considering he has been singing these songs nearly every other day for the last 2 months! Wow..  Still a great band 41 years later. It was a nice show. Good sound for a stadium and pretty damn loud. I enjoyed hearing these songs from my youth a lot. 

Set List: Senjutsu, Stratego, Writing on the Wall, Revelations, Blood Brothers, Sign of the Cross, Fear of the Dark, Flight of Icarus, Fear of the Dark, Hallowed be thy Name, Number of the Beast, Iron Maiden, The Trooper, Clansman, Run to the HIlls and Aces High.

Getting away from the stadium with 30,000 people was a nightmare.  Took us 90mins and we had to walk 5km before we could get to the train station.  There were no cabs. 100s of people in the same situation as us. Stadium is out of town.. 

Unifantinha Festival, Travancinha, Portugal Sat July 30th 2022

This is a local family festival with live music that is about 20mins from our house. The closest around our part of the world. They have not held the festival for 3 years, while they created a proper organisation, upgraded a lot of the facilities (although apparently not enough as there  was multiple power outages early in the day and loss of water as well). 

It all started at 14 with local singer songwriter, Garyon performing his all original material. I much prefer this to his covers, which is sadly, mostly what I hear him playing at the local markets and they are often not that good. Anyway, he had a lot of more interesting tracks including one where the music was very close to Redemption Song by bob Marley (which he often covers).  Hardly any people were were around  at this time as it was so fucking hot! 38C in the shade..  He did not get much response. 

They had a drum circle out in the area behind the main bar area next with about 15 people but it was so hot and there was hardly any shade, so not that many people could be bothered but they were for sure having fun. Local organizer, Nick was also trying to explain to people about the concept and how to think if it as an conversation and it is ok to pause and listen and play when you have something to say. Cool… good advice..

I Spy showed up around 15-16 to set up there gear some of which would also be used for the live jam session at 18.   They were starting to serve some food around 16 and pizzas at 17..   Cheese (goat), veggy or a chorizo… They had a cougette burger gyozas (3), falafel, brownies, and flapjacks..   The bar you could get lemonade, watermellonade, gin and tonic, beers (1€), fizzy orange drink (Sumol), sparking water, white wine and I think that was it. Free tap water!  

Larry Lush (local 90s UK record producer and DJ played tracks for a few hrs before the jam session. Mostly poppy electronic stuff disco, some funk, most of it is not my taste at all. Virtually no rock music. 

Larry Lush

The jam session had Rob on Drums, Larry on keys, Andy on Sax (all from I Spy), Rui on double bass, Nick on guitar and Carlos on djembe. Later a guy came and played jews harp and flutes.  A girl came up to do some singing but you never heard anything she sang. Pity.. Mike did not do a very good job on the sound.. Too stressed. Some of it was ok and other stuff not that great. A bit too much towards the piano jazz stuff that I Spy play as openings for their shows often. No real rocking going on at all  I was going to join but it was too hot and I did not like the idea of my synths in this heat. It was not good for them some weeks ago. 

Jam Session

Carlos Geometri (famous Brighton UK DJ) played some very cool dub and African music on the PA before I Spy started. Sounds was great for I Spy (Nick was working with Mike) but I was so tired from the heat and beers (only had 3 in 8 hrs) that I headed home. I would have liked to hear Carlos´s full set and there was another DJ (D.C) on after him..  Trance stuff, I think,

It was great to catch up with some friends and meet people again.. I guess there was about 120 people and at least 30 children. They had lots for them to do which was cool. Pool, sandbox, painting, drawing area, stuff for them to climb, a dance class, etc..  A good time by all. Pizzas were small but really good..