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L.A. Beat

CD Reviews


The Wild! release a wild debut of rock and roll

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If you have an exclamation mark in your band’s name, there better not be an acoustic guitar or power ballad within shooting distance. Fortunately Kelowna based rockers the Wild!  are all about big loud guitars, shout a long choruses and wicked  guitar playing which grabs the listener from the first track “Party Til You’re Dead” which sums up the band’s philosophy of life  and sound. They barely pause for a breath  through “Straight to Hell” and “Banger.”

Click here  to hear the Wild!
 Fans of Nazareth’s more rocking songs as well as AC DC and Sammy Hagar won’t be able to get enough of the Wild!.  If you’re going to sound like a band it may as well be those bands. Frontman Dylan Villain’s  throat shredding voice is a blend of  Brian Johnson, a little Bonn Scott, Sammy Hagar and Dan McCafferty

Their music is pure unfiltered  whiskey, so there are huge guitar riffs, deadly solos and lots of shout along vocals.

 They slow things down slightly on “Deuces” and “ Slow Burn.” But not much. They really slow things down and show off their bluesy side on “ What About You,” which sounds like a lost Bonn Scott era AC DC track. It reminds me a little of “ The Jack.”

 The CD comes to a rollicking close with “ Roadhouse,” which was getting  played a lot on modern rock radio thanks to ear worm of a finger bleeding lead riff.

 — By Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor

Band: The Wild
Genre:  rock and roll!

Mississippi Live and the Dirty Dirty not Going Down without a fight

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If Pearl Jam’s and the Drive By Truckers’ tour busses collided en route to a Neil Young show in New Orleans,  the result might sound like Mississippi Live and the Dirty Dirty’s CD “Going Down.”
I remember their last CD being an upbeat  CD that just made me want to drink heavily. That being said, the follow up “Going Down” is the morning after hangover.

Click here to hear Mississippi Live and the Dirty Dirty
There are a lot of slower, spooky blues and whiskey soaked, slower songs on the CD including the haunting swampy slide on “Bad , Bad Feeling.” “Country Boy” is equally haunted as is “Dead and Gone” which take away a little from upbeat rockers. It starts off slowly with “Trouble,” which could be a long lost Eagles track. It reminds me a little of “Peaceful Easy Feeling.”

 The title track “Going Down” is more along the lines of their last CD, so it is a highlight which has elements of Steppenwolf because of the piercing organ and frontman Robert Connely Farr’s vocals. He comes by the swamp/blues influence honestly as he grew up across the street from a cotton gin mill in Bolton Mississippi before relocating to Vancouver in 2009.

 another highlight is the straight ahead, power chord powered upbeat rocker “Hurtin’.”
“It’s So Easy” is one of the more Neil Young/ Drive By Truckers influenced tracks and another highlight because of the gritty solo and the sing along chorus.
Things start to get a little more menacing on  the sixth track “Mexico,” another Drive By Truckers influenced mid tempo rocker featuring tortured arpeggios and haunted vocals.
The overall effect is  alcohol fueled rock with the unapologetic hangover afterwards.

— By Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor

CD: Going Down
Band: Mississippi Live and the Dirty Dirty

Genre: rock


The Ativans bring back ’90s pop punk on Landlocked

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Hey, remember the ’90s?  Calgary based pop punk band the Ativans sure do on their  new CD “Landlocked.” The 10 track CD shows the band’s affinity for addictively catchy pop punk along the lines of Green Day, Blink -182, Teenage Bottle Rocket and fellow Calgarians Chixdiggit.

Click here to hear The Ativans
Frontman/ songwriter Billy Dixon’s adenoidal vocals are as much a blend of  Green Day as they are of classic punks the Buzzcocks and the Dickies.
 There is an abundance of up beat , crunchy guitar which will get the listener hopping, dancing and perhaps playfully moshing from the urgent “Bucket List”  right through the to last track “ From the Outside.”

There are many, many highlights which resonate with me, especially “ McFly,” which feature a guitar solo which could come right out of the ’70s and  the supremely catchy “Nostalgia Blues,” which features those snarling guitars and addictive whoah oh h background vocals which add a touch of pop polish.

 Those background vocals are also a highlight of “ Or Whatever.”
 The CD is short and sweet at 26 minutes so, if you love pop punk, it will leave you wanting more.

— By Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor
CD: Landlocked
Band: The Ativans
Genre: pop punk


Isotopes blend baseball, punk and humour

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If you like baseball and you love the Ramones and the Hanson Brothers, you will love the Isotopes. Because what the Hanson brothers have done for hockey themed punk, the Istopes hope to do for baseball themed punk.Click here to hear the Isotopes
 Aptly named after Springfield’s baseball team from the Simpsons, the Isotopes Punk Rock Baseball club have a lot of fun playing with baseball. Their latest CD The Isotopes hit 11 home runs  on “Nuclear Strikezone” featuring a variety of Baseball related topics like steroid use , road games, baseball fans, magic loogies, mascots and playing baseball on acid.

Musicially, Nuclear Strikezone is straight ahead, fast paced, no holds barred,  fun,  pop punk with buzzsaw guitar and shout along lyrics.
They open up with an introduction of the players in the middle of  “ Never been Caught,” which draws the listener into it.

Some of my favourites are “ Situation No No,” “ Total Juicehead,” “Chicks Dig the Long Ball,” and “Bleacher Creature,” just to name a few.
It’s all good and actually kind of surprising nobody else  has previously decided to do baseball themed punk.

— by Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor

CD: Nuclear Strikezone
Band: The Isotopes

Genre: punk


Papa King Cole release long awaited CD “Gutted to the Studs”

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Papa King Cole has been a familiar face on Lethbridge’s music scene for many years. He rarely plays live and records even rarely so his new CD is a special treat, not only because it features music he has been working on for a long time, but also features some of Lethbridge’s hottest young talent backing him.Papa King Cole playing with Darryl Düus and Evan Uschenko. Photo by Richard Amery. photo by Richard Amery
 “Gutted to the Studs” features the lead guitar of Scott Mezei sprinkled throughout. He plays with several local bands including Adequate, and is a familiar face to fans of New West Theatre.

 The Cd also features long time band members,  guitarist Darryl Düus and Evan Uschenko , who have moved away to Lethbridge so it is nice to hear them both on a recording. Steve Keenan, who has played with Zojo Black and Paul Kype and Texas Flood lends a solo to “Beale Street Boogie,” one of my favourite Papa King Songs.

But front and centre is Papa King’s big, gravelly Tom Waits/ Dr. John timbre voice and a plethora of different acoustic guitars, (which are lovingly listed  on each song they are featured on)  picking beautiful delta style blues music. The CD is expertly and crisply recorded. So you hear every single note as clearly as if King was playing in your own kitchen.

 the CD mostly features King’s original music including several inspired by his day job as a long haul trucker like “Fiver Hundred Horses” as well as long time crowd favourites including “Beale Street Boogie.”
 He also puts his own stamp on blues classics like Big Joe Williams’ “Please Don’t Go” plus  WC Handy’s “Hesitation Blues” ( which features Paul Kype and Texas Flood]s Earle McAuley on j keyboards and Suite 33 bassist Doug Freeman) and  “Saint James Infirmary.”

It is tough to choose a highlight off the CD as all of the songs are so well done.

“Sugar Bee” is a catchy shuffle while pretty much everyone  will be able to identify with the sentiment of “ Early Mornin’ Blues.”
“Box of Tools” also stands out with it’s smooth, slinky Pink Panther  groove.
 The groove is strong in “Shaken” as well which will get your toes a tapping.

 Also very cool is a live jam caught between King, Uschenko and Düus called “Right on Time.”
 He ends on the  traditional blues  shuffle of “ Hesitation Blues.”
The CD  is very folksy and personal. Like a lot of modern folk and blues CD, King provides liner notes lovingly listing the performers and anecdotes about what inspired the songs and the stories behind some of them. As he doesn’t have them on sale online, you’ll have to get a copy for your very own by going to one of his  shows, such as Jan. 9 at Plum.

— by Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor
CD: Gutted to the Studs Blues and Boogie Reno
Artist: Papa King Cole
 Genre: blues
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