THE MERCY KILLS – NEW RULE EP Released 15th Feb 2021
This is an interesting piece of Melbourne’s rock’n’roll history that finally gets to see the light of day thanks to the team at Golden Robot Records.
New Rule is the debut EP by Melbourne dirty / sleaze rock band The Mercy Kills. Written and produced in 2010, this five-track release has strong elements of the four members influences, with elements of post-punk, grunge and rock ‘n’ roll. TMK are proud that it stands strong, alongside the music they have produced over the ten years since.
“I was in tears the whole time writing that song for Chachi, like weeks. I had tears all over my jeans, all over the piano; I just had to push through it. I thought, ‘There’s only one way out of this.’”
JOANNA CONNOR 4801 South Indiana Avenue Release Date Feb 26th 2021
Chicago-based slide guitar virtuoso and singer-songwriter, Joanna Connor, who is best known as one of the reigning Queens of blues rock guitar, releases her 14th album 4801 South Indiana Avenue on Joe Bonamassa’s new independent blues record label Keeping The Blues Alive on February 26, 2021, and the record features a serious dose of Joe Bonamassa himself in the production, alongside blues guitar great Josh Smith, and both of them playing guitar all through the album.
INGLORIOUS – WE WILL RIDE Release Date 12th Feb 2021
A new line-up for Inglorious, a band that has seen a few personnel changes in the years since I was at one of their early major gigs in Birmingham almost exactly 5 years ago – with the constants of Nathan James up front on the voice, and Phil Beaver at the back behind the kit both still in place.
The sound on this fourth album remains very much as it was from the start, a fresh modern take on those classic British rock bands – Deep Purple, Bad Company, Led Zeppelin and others, with Nathan James being heavily influenced by David Coverdale, with that raw bluesy edge to the enormous vocal power he brings.
We Will Ride has been written and recorded through the COVID-19 lockdown in Wales, with producer Romesh Gogandoda (Bring Me The Horizon, Bullet For My Valentine, Motörhead) at the helm, and saw the band take a more relaxed and fun approach to the writing process, despite the delays caused by the pandemic, and they reckon this has been a real rejuvenation of the Inglorious phenomenon.
The upbeat riff-heavy She Won’t Let You Go opens up with a familiar touch of the solo guitar providing the intro, before the band powers in behind the guitar and we are off – a straight-forward no-nonsense verse that leads into a powerful pre-chorus and an absolute monster of a chorus – and features the first of many ripping solos (not sure which guitarist contributes which). The two newer band members Danny Dela Cruz and DanStevens are clearly working in perfect harmony on the guitars, and this forms a key part of the Inglorious sound – topped off by the power and passion of Nathan James on the voice.
Messiah has a slightly ‘eastern’ tinge to the melodies, and some atmospheric vocals, but is another example of the huge sound, and the great production values here. There is lots of light and shade here with a real contrast between verse and chorus. The newest single release is Medusa, which kicks off with a brutal slide guitar intro, and a vocal delivery that is as big as anything David Coverdale delivered in his prime – again a slightly ‘eastern’ vibe in some of the guitars, in the same vein as fellow Brit-rockers Ten have delivered. There is some sensational drumming in the track as Phil Beaver confirms what a solid performer he is behind the drums, with some excellent touches throughout.
There is a more stripped-back opening to Eye Of The Storm which suggests a power-ballad, with lots of effects and echoes on the spacey guitars, and a softer lead vocal line which lasts until the massive build-up into the super-catchy chorus which powers along at double-time. The dynamic changes continue between the verse and chorus, and there is a brief interlude that sees Nathan’s voice at full force, before the huge guitars power back in and we get the closing chorus in all its glory.
A similar approach is suggested by the very sparse guitar intro to Cruel Intentions, which is soon overtaken by the upbeat rocking guitars and immense AOR backing vocals – this is just classic power melodic rock of the highest quality. James’ vocals show off his huge range and power, and the guitars are off the scale. There is a change of feel with the piano intro (from Rob Lindop) and the guitar tone to the epic My Misery, and Nathan delivers a sensitive feel to the vocals in the verses, and then the goosebumps appear with the opening lines of the chorus, which rises to soaring heights, and they don’t go away! The pumping guitar-fuelled middle-eight is glorious, and then we get another chorus and a powerful outro to close!
Do You Like It is an Inglorious classic full of all the trademarks of the band – a crushing riff, a huge lead vocal line, a chorus full of hooks and backing harmonies and a searing solo that explodes out of the chorus! The rhythm section of Beaver and bassist Vinnie Colla absolutely lock down the beat and perfectly support the outrageous harmonies going on above!
There is only one track that gets over the 5 minute mark which might be a surprise, and He Will Provide gives us a moody riff and a slightly menacing lead vocal (think Ozzy in classic Blizzard of Ozz days), and also features an atmospheric mid-section that leads into another ripper of a solo over that grungy riff – the solo may be a combination of both Danny and Dan doing their thing. We Will Meet Again delivers another powerhouse melodic rock beast, with a really contemporary feel to the riff and melody, and some strong backing vocals to add depth to the delivery which is restrained without losing the power.
The last two tracks continue to deliver the power and passion of the rest of the album, with God Of War really letting the two guitarists excel as they trade-off delicate fretwork in the verses, brutal powerchords in the chorus and frenetic harmony licks in between. The band picks up the pace in the outro, with a double-time beat and more guitar soloing to the last chord.
We Will Ride is the perfect title track and album-closer – a dark and moody verse, and another soaring chorus full of layers, while the guitars weave their magic underneath it all.
The twin guitars certainly add a dimension to the band that perhaps has not been quite so apparent in the last album or two – Danny and Dan appear to have quickly developed a level of rapport and interaction that finds them intuitively working around each other in the riffs and melodies, and then through the interplay in the lead breaks and solos!
I really hope this one pushes all the right buttons around the place, because a band that has worked as long and hard as this one to find the right formula really deserves it!
Line-up: Nathan James – Lead Vocals Danny De La Cruz – Guitar Dan Stevens – Guitar Vinnie Colla – Bass Guitar Phil Beaver – Drums/Percussion
HUNTED BY ELEPHANTS Carry On Released – Jan 15th 2021
Hunted By Elephants were formed in the UK in mid-2018 by Apostolos Liapis (vocals), Roman Flourendzou (guitar) and Raymond Phelan (bass), and are now joined by Alex Butticè (drums). The London-based rock ’n’ rollers ignite favourable comparisons ranging from rock heavyweights to modern classic rock acts, and their debut album Rise of The Elephant put them on the underground rock radar in 2019.
W.E.T. Retransmission Released – 22 Jan 2021 Frontiers Records
W.E.T. truly epitomizes what melodic rock has become in the present. The key element at the foundation of W.E.T has always been to create a modern melodic hard rock sound that combines powerhouse rhythms and top-notch production, with the music being equally classic and contemporary.
SAM MARTIN & DELTA SUGAR THE RECKLESS ONE Gypsy Soul Records – Nov 2020
With the worldwide pandemic wrecking utter havoc upon the careers of many musicians, Samantha Martin & Delta Sugar elected to use their time off the road to record, mix and master their latest tour-de-force, the astonishingly powerful, funky and deeply soulful The Reckless One.
HEARTS & HAND GRENADES TURNING TO ASHES Release Date – 08/01/2021
An edgy hard rock band from Buffalo, NY, and with the terrific name Hearts & Hand Grenades was initially a cover band, until spotted by Goo Goo Dolls vocalist Robby Takac who invited them for a session at his studios – which pushed the band into writing some original material, which they did then record and released as the Wait EP in July 2019.
UNKNOWN REFUGE Release – 29 Jan 2021 Unknown Refuge formed early in 2016 with Alex Mancini, then aged 15 as lead singer, and four friends from the Music and Performing Arts Service in Salford, in the UK. Within 6 months of forming, they entered the Salford Battle of the Bands which required one song to be original. This started Alex on his song writing journey. Despite their relatively short time as a band, they were crowned winners, gaining a headline slot at Manchester’s Band on the Wall, plus a recording session at SSR Manchester.
MIKE CAMPBELL & THE DIRTY KNOBS WRECKLESS ABANDON Released Nov 2020
Something of an unsung legend of the contemporary rock’n’roll scene, Mike Campbell has been the guitarist with the likes of Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers (co-writing Refugee and Runnin’ Down A Dream among many others), and Fleetwood Mac in the recent incarnation, as well as being a songwriter with credits for such monster hits as Don Henley’s Boys of Summer, and songs with Neil Diamond, Bob Seger, Jackson Browne, Bob Dylan and too many other musical giants to mention.
After a tumultuous 2019 that included support slots in Russia with Bullet For My Valentine, and some unexpected personnel changes with the loss of guitarist and vocalist, many bands would have given up the ghost and called it a day.