THE EXILES – MR DIRTY MARTINI
The Exiles began as a punk band. They aren’t now.
What they are is an interesting bunch. Aussies who met in Miami, they came back to their home land down under (there’s almost a song there) and if the reasons aren’t specified, then on the basis of their debut EP, the FBI might know.
“Fade Away” welcomes itself in on the back of a track that if the DMAS had done it would fill arenas, but there’s a sense of catharsis amidst the euphoria. “I am trying to numb the pain, that’s running through my brain” offers Josh Aubry, and that darkness continues in “Friday Night”, with a Stones-y groove.
“Habitual Creatures” has a bass as filthy as I imagine the Miami nightclub they met in was, but “Mouth Breather” is an example of their ambition. If Liam Gallagher had fronted Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, then something like this happens.
A debut of a band that clearly isn’t happy with thinking small.
BLACK COAST – BLACK COAST
From Stoke on Trent, Black Coast have been making themselves heard on a wider scale. Radio one’s rock show loves them, they’ve bagged a slot at Bloodstock, but more importantly, perhaps, they’ve made a statement on this debut EP. “Real (Are You Listening?)” kicks off like Savage Hands and sees Charlie Hewitt screaming “are you listening? Fucking listen to me!” as if lives depend on it.
On “Chains”, which lurks like some mid-90s grunger and then explodes, the feeling that this is exorcising demons continues. “I am trying to figure out a new me” seems a key line, and everywhere you look there’s something nasty hiding, as on “Sex” or the modern rock masterclass “Mercy”.
The sense of confusion runs to the end, too. “No One” exists in a maelstrom, but as the hook hits, the words: “I don’t want to be no one” ring loud and proud.
That’s the ambition Black Coast have. Don’t bet against them.
BLACKGOLD – VOLUME 2
There are many reasons to review Blackgold’s second EP. There’s the Breakthrough Artist of the year nomination they got at this year’s Heavy Music Awards, or there’s the fact that Fred Durst picked them personally to play on those recent Limp Bizkit shows. But we do things differently around here.
“We wish we could take you back to when music was rad, before we knew Michael Jackson was really bad…..”
They sing that (or rap it? Whatever) on “On Another Level” and that’ll do for me. That song namechecks “Freak On A Leash” and a host of 90s bands and it explains not only the Blackgold’s sound but their ethos.
There’s no pop culture reference they won’t do: “Just found Elliot, I am gonna phone home now” is on opener “Way Out”, or “Fuck Bruce Wayne, I am on the Joker’s team” on “Villain”.
Along the way they sound like a UK version of King810 on the nihilistic “Freak” and “Bogeyman” has a harsh hip-hop landscape that it’s built on.
Their shows with Skindred have the potential to be incendiary. Whether the world wants – or needs – a nu metal revival is open to question, but on this evidence, its coming.
MAD DOGS – SOLITARY WALKER’S BLUES/A NEW DAWN
Back in the day when I was collecting everything Hellacopters and Backyard Babies did, it was tough to keep up.
Every week it seemed there was a seven inch single arriving, a split with other likeminded outfits perhaps? There’s a feeling of that all over this two tracker from Italy’s Mad Dogs.
Marco Cipolletti and the lads have emerged with their first new music for a couple of years in the shape of the cowbell drenched, 70s sounding “Solitary Walker’s Blues” and the stuff that they’re more famous for “A New Dawn”, which is enough to get those of us obsessed with late 90s Scandinavia pretty excited.
They are promising that these two are a “bridge” between their last album and the forthcoming new one. On that basis, look forward to it immensely.
AFTON WOLFE – TWENTY-THREE
There’s nowhere else to start, and no other way of putting it. Afton Wolfe has an astonishing voice. An instrument in its own right of real prodigious quality – and when you marry it with songs as timeless and emotional as “Cry” then, truly, you have something special.
Witten for a friend to help him deal with the tragic loss of his wife, it makes for an incredible opening to “Twenty-Three”. The gospel tinges to the backing vocals of Melanie Dewey and Regina McCrary only serve to elevate it, too.
Wolfe, though (from Mississippi and now in Nashville) is just as an adept an interpreter of songs as he is writer of them, clearly. On “The Moon Is Going Down” – written by his friend Ryan B Guest – he’s Tom Waits, cracked and delivering some poetry inspired by the lockdowns, or “Truck Drivin’ Man” – originally recorded by Mark E Mann in 1998, he sounds truly desolate. A feeling made all the more poignant by the line about: “they through in a grave behind the shiny new convention centre” – where Wolfe had worked at the time.
He follows this up with “So Purple” – one of his own, but showcasing a different side to what he does. Half spoken word, with an almost prog feel, before “Late Nite Radio” comes in like an acoustic, warm breeze. “Hold on, this will be over soon” he sings. A promise of better to come? Maybe.
“Twenty-Three” he reckons, has a magical quality in his music, and he deliberately did two covers and three originals to make these five wonderful songs. Indeed, he may be on to something, given the glorious alchemy here.