Paddy and the Rats, From Wasteland To Wonderland (Napalm Records 2022)

Pirate polka punks Paddy and the Rats hit the high seas again for new adventures on From Wasteland To Wonderland.

Formed around 2008 in Hungary, Paddy and the Rats plays a type of polka punk you might expect to hear from Irish exile bands, with a specific and deliberate focus on a shanty vibe. The band is big, and it needs to be with all the instruments deployed: Paddy O’Reilly (vocals, guitar), Sam McKenzie (fiddle, bagpipe, banjo, whistles), Bernie Bellamy (accordion), Joey MacOnkay (guitar), Vince Murphy (bass), and Seamus Conelly (drums). From Wasteland To Wonderland is the band’s sixth full-length album, and it is the crest of the wave.

There are thirteen rousing tunes on the new record, appropriately beginning with “Wasteland” and ending with “Wonderland.” The opener is up-tempo and peppily scored with catchy refrains and a sing along chorus. The music is guitar driven, but there is so much more going on you can lose track of that aspect, and if you do it is because the rest is so enchanting. “Ship Will Sail” comes next in the set, and, if anything, it is more on brand than the first song. Truly, when I think of Paddy and the Rats, this is this song that will pop in my head first.

“After The Rain” and “Everybody Get Up” were released earlier as singles, and “Party Like a Pirate” was the lead at the street date for the album. The entire album is very much party music so that fits right in. There are a few slower songs, but mostly these are ale-pounding anthems. If you want to get in a good mood or if you are already in a good mood and you want to keep it rolling, this is the album for you. Recommended.

From Wasteland To Wonderland is out now through Napalm Records.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://paddyandtherats.bandcamp.com/

Website, https://www.paddyandtherats.hu/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/paddyrats

Napalm Records, https://label.napalmrecords.com/paddy-and-the-rats/

© Wayne Edwards

Paddy and the Rats, From Wasteland To Wonderland (Napalm Records 2022)

Brkn Love at The Vogue, April 30th

Brkn Love wrapped up their current tour this past weekend, including the penultimate stop at The Vogue in Indianapolis.

Brkn Love (฿ Ɽ ₭ ₦ ⱠØVɆ) has been on the road for the past few weeks supporting Badflower on an arc of shows that traversed a winding path, leading finally to the toe-stub stop in Broad Ripple on Saturday night. While lightning flared outside, Justin Benlolo and the band threw down their music with accustomed gusto to the swelling crowd.

My first time seeing Brkn Love was a couple years back at Aftershock in Sacramento. I was impressed by performance and the sound they put together. The music they play is hard-edged rock that sometimes gets labeled alternative. To me there is a classic vibe in it, updated and extended through the eccentricities and urgencies of the composers.

The tour has ended for now, so here are a few pictures to help remember the show at The Vogue. The follow-up to the band’s self-titled 2020 debut album can’t be too far away, and when it arrives it will be big news. Until then, stream the current single “Like A Drug” and think back to the last time you heard them play live.

Photos by Wayne Edwards.

Links.

BRKN Love, https://www.brknlove.com/

Spinefarm Records, https://spinefarm.merchnow.com/catalogs/brkn-love

The Vogue, https://thevogue.com/

© Wayne Edwards

Brkn Love at The Vogue, April 30th

Nazareth, Surviving The Law (Frontiers Records 2022)

Legendary hard rock band Nazareth release their 25th studio album, Surviving The Law.

I could go on and on about Nazareth, but I have done that before in this very blog so I’ll try to keep it short this time. They are icons in the heavy music world, best known for the timeless album Hair Of The Dog (1975), they had many big albums and a few radio hits as well, like “Holiday” from Malice In Wonderland (1980). They played hard rock in the earliest days, and maintained a hard edge throughout even as the music lightened up a few notches and went through phases and evolutions. I have a physical copy of every album they ever released and, while of course I have favorites, I still pull from the entire canon when I want to hear Nazareth music.

When I started listening to them in the 1970s, the band was Dan McCafferty (vocals), Manny Charlton (guitar), Pete Agnew (bass), and Darrell Sweet (drums). Over the years the line-up changed of course, and now Pete Agnew is the only founding member still in the band. Agnew is joined by Carl Sentance (vocals), Jimmy Murrison (guitar), and Lee Agnew (drums) on the new album.

First up in the fourteen-track set is “Strange Days.” It has a gritty sound and grungy guitar line that is complemented by the ever listenable vocals of Sentance. It is a heavy song and great opener. “You Gotta Pass It Around” follows on a slower heel with a soulful lilt. “Runaway” hit me like a song from Loud ‘N’ Proud, and that is a good thing. Peppy and ever on the chase, this one is a great radio song.

“Sweet Kiss” is a great bluesy song that hooks you early and keeps you in its clutches. “Sinner” is a fast-moving rocking number that does remind you a little of Judas Priest (but not that song), and “Psycho Skies” has a feel to it that makes you want to hear it live. While the last song, “You Made Me,” is a slow one, ballads are avoided on this album. I was pleased by the pace, and there are many great cuts throughout.

I wondered before I sat down to listen to this album whether it would sound like Nazareth to me. I have gotten over Dan McCaffrey’s retirement and that was a tough for us long-time fans because his voice is iconic. No one else sounds like him. Once that idea is inculcated, you can hear Nazareth in the music. Long lived bands almost always change over time. We can, each of us, either accept that truth or not.

I don’t know how many more Nazareth albums there will be, but I can tell you this – Surviving The Law is a good one. Recommended.

Surviving The Law is out now through Frontiers Records on CD, vinyl, cassette, and digital.

Links.

Website, https://www.nazarethdirect.co.uk/website/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/nazarethofficial

Frontiers Records, https://www.frontiers.shop/nazareth/

© Wayne Edwards

Nazareth, Surviving The Law (Frontiers Records 2022)

Ruby The Hatchet, Live At EarthQuaker (Magnetic Eye Records 2022)

Ruby The Hatchet drops a 7-inch teaser – Live At EarthQuaker – anticipating a new album later this year.

Love at first listen is the way I would describe what I think of Ruby The Hatchet. The first music I heard from the band was Valley of the Snake (2015) and it sent me down the rabbit hole to find everything else that existed by them. The music is lush psychedelic rock, heavy and smooth and soulful. Jillian Taylor’s vocals are haunting and unforgettable, and the guitar-driven environment is one of a kind. The most recent long-player was Planetary Space Child (2017) and that one also still gets heavy rotation at the Shardik Media offices, I can tell you.

The new record has three songs. Two of the tracks are early versions of songs that will be on the upcoming album emerging later this year, and they were recorded live in Akron, Ohio at EarthQuaker Devices – that’s the maker of the pedals Ruby The Hatchet and so many other bands use for tone and effect. The third is a cover of the Uriah Heep standard “Easy Livin’.”

“1000 Years” opens quietly and has a steady build with endearing plateaus. The guitar line is a somber affair, urging drama toward the end. “Primitive Man” is a trippy number that lays on the smooth and rolls up a few rapid punches for you, too. Apparently, these are initial versions of songs that will be on the upcoming album, but they sound finished to me – more great Ruby The Hatchet music.

“Easy Livin’” popped up in 2019 as a stand-alone single. You know the song and, while you can probably imagine what it might sound like when Ruby The Hatchet sings it, the real thing is even better. It is nice to have this take wrapped in with the two new tracks.

Live at EarthQuaker is out now through Magnetic Eye Records in CD, vinyl, and digital. Ruby the Hatchet is on a mini tour right now, bookending with shows opening for Candlemass. See them whenever you can, and make sure you get to Las Vegas this year for Psycho Las Vegas as their performance is certain to be a highlight.

Links.

Website, http://www.rubythehatchet.com/

Bandcamp, https://thehatchet.bandcamp.com/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/rubythehatchet

Magnetic Eye Records, https://us.merhq.net/us/Artists/Ruby-The-Hatchet/Ruby-the-Hatchet-Live-at-Earthquaker.html

Ruby The Hatchet at EarthQuaker, https://www.earthquakerdevices.com/ruby-the-hatchet

© Wayne Edwards

Ruby The Hatchet, Live At EarthQuaker (Magnetic Eye Records 2022)

Scorpions, Rock Believer (Spinefarm 2022)

Hard rock legends Scorpions have a new studio album out, Rock Believer.

I write a lot about the early days of my heavy music listening, but the hard rock avenue is one I have spoken less about. The three bands in this lane that meant the most to me back in the day where Judas Priest, Scorpions, and Thin Lizzy (they put out a couple of hard rock albums there in a row). Phil Lynott was lost first, and so Thin Lizzy. Judas Priest had a few rough years but they are still tearing up the stage today. Scorpions were more famous by far than the other two, and they had some killer albums I still listen to like Lovedrive (1979), Animal Magnetism (1980), and Blackout (1982). But really, it weas the earlier albums that made the biggest impression on me – Fly To The Rainbow (1974), In Trance (1975), Virgin Killer (1976), and especially Taken By Force (1977). I even have affection for the sometimes-maligned Lonesome Crow (1972). These first few albums were raw, drawn straight from the core of the musicians’ hard rock hive. The later albums are more polished and, as time went on, they became increasingly designed for a broader audience. To me, every album, all nineteen of them, sound like Scorpions music, and on that level I like them all.

After the mega-hits and mega-stardom, the world at large heard less and less about Scorpions music, but fans could tell you that the band continued to produce albums on a regular, but less frequent, cycle all the way through. It has been seven years since Return To Forever, so the universe is more than ready for Rock Believer.

The line-up is Rudolf Schenker (guitar, backing vocals), Klaus Meine (vocals), Matthias Jabs (guitar), Paweł Mąciwoda (bass), and Mikkey Dee (drums). Schenker and Meine, of course, go back to the earliest days, and Jabs has been there since the seventies. Mąciwoda seems almost like a newcomer, even though he has played with the band for nearly two decades. Legendary drummer Mikkey Dee joined a few years back after Lemmy’s passing saw the end of Motörhead. A formidable group of musicians if ever there was one.

As soon as the needle drops on “Gas In The Tank” you know you have stepped into Scorpions world. Layered guitars, catchy melodies, sharp leads, and the unmistakable voice of Klaus Meine, sounding fantastic. “Roots In My Boots” has the raw energy so much in evidence on the Blackout album, updated and refined, while “Knock ’em Dead” is a new creature altogether. There is a lot going on with the new album.

The singles released in advance of the album were the title track and “Peacemaker.” Fans have probably heard these already. The album overall leans a little more toward the “Peacemaker” kind of song with all its raucous energy. There are a few introspective, rock-ballad-type songs (and passages within songs) that serve to balance the music out – something that Scorpions have always been expert at achieving.

Nineteen is a lot of albums, but fans will always clamor for more. This one is a very good one. Recommended.

Rock Believer is out now through Spinefarm Records. You can get it everywhere. Check out the links below, and look for the deluxe edition with additional songs.

Links.

Scorpions website, https://www.the-scorpions.com/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/Scorpions

Spinefarm Records, https://www.spinefarmrecords.com/usa/

Scorpions, Rock Believer (Spinefarm 2022)

The Neptune Power Federation, Le Demon De L’Amour (Cruz Del Sur Music 2022)

The fifth album from The Neptune Power Federation is the best one yet: Le Demon De L’Amour.

I thoroughly enjoyed the previous album from The Neptune Power Federation, Memoirs of a Rat Queen (2019). Indeed, that one was the first I had heard from the Australian heavy rock band and it turned me all the way around. I vowed at the time to see them live as soon as humanly possible and I still haven’t done it yet – any US dates coming up? The music is an energetic hard rock that has some retro components but lives firmly in the here and now. The stage names of the musicians in the band are Screaming Loz Sutch (vocals), Search and DesTroy (guitar), Inverted CruciFox (guitar), Jaytanic Ritual (bass), and River Sticks (drums).

The song you might have heard already is “My Precious One” as it is the advance single and there is a video of it floating around YouTube. If you haven’t heard it yet, drop everything and listen now – it’s a banger. If that song doesn’t make you want to listen to the rest of the album then I don’t know what. Fast, hooky, with a great guitar in the riff and lead, and the fiercely emotive vocals combine to make this a radio hit (if there was still radio). It is a great song, and I would recommend the album on the strength of it alone, but there is more.

Le Demon De L’Amour is a set of eight hard-edge, deep-cutting love songs. While on the surface that might not sound so great for a metalhead like me, the actual music is incredible. Filled with heavy psych, hooks and breaks, and deeply soulful vocals, The Neptune Power Federation is taking the love song back for the heavy music crowd.

The album begins with the eight-minute epic “Weeping On The Morn.” It is a massive rock and roll homage that dips into many corners. The single “My Precious One” cracks next and then the funky “Baby You’re Mine” struts out. There are so many great looks in just the first three songs it is hard to count them all. All the tracks are up-tempo, and each one has its own intrigue. “Stay With Thee” is one of my favorites, “Madly In Love” appeals to my contrarian side. My full list of favorites would be eight songs long so I’ll just leave it there.

If you don’t know about them yet then you need to get your life together and listen to The Neptune Power Federation. Highly recommended.

Le Demon De L’Amour is out on February 18th through Cruz Del Sur Music. Bandcamp is the easy way to get it in the US.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://theneptunepowerfederation.bandcamp.com/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/theneptunepowerfederation

Cruz Del Sur Music, https://www.cruzdelsurmusic.com/blog/

The Neptune Power Federation, Le Demon De L’Amour (Cruz Del Sur Music 2022)

Buffalo Revisited, Volcanic Rock Live (Ripple Music 2022)

Australian metal pioneers Buffalo, performing as Buffalo Revisited, release their first live album, called Volcanic Rock Live, to celebrate the 45th anniversary of the studio original.

Buffalo is a band a lot of fans today never came across but I am convinced they would be happy to hear them if they got a chance. The Australians released five full-length albums back in the 1970s, the most well-remembered being Volcanic Rock (1973). Founder and front man Dave Tice has been performing in recent years as Buffalo Revisited, playing songs from the early albums. Interestingly, Buffalo never released a live album. Until now.

Recorded on June 6, 2018 at The Bald Faced Stag Hotel in Sydney, Buffalo Revisited plays the entire Volcanic Rock album. Troy Scerri (guitar), Steve Lorkin (Bass), and Marcus Fraser (drums) joined Dave Tice to make it happen.

Some of my all-time favorite music was created in the 1970s, so I figured I was going to be on board with this one, too. I had heard Volcanic Rock before, and a couple other Buffalo albums, so I was ready.

What you realize immediately about this music is it’s a great stoner record. Laid back riffs and weathered lead guitar work seep easily into your readied head. By the second song, “Freedom,” I had settled in. I remember having a fleeting thought hoping the album was playing on a loop because I did not want to get up. Tice sounds great, and he and the other musicians celebrate the 45th anniversary of the classic album in style.

Whether you have heard of Buffalo before or not, you should listen to this album. If you are a fan of the Ripple Music catalogue, then this is for you. It fits right in. Highly recommended.

Volcanic Rock Live is out now from Ripple Music and available at Bandcamp or through the label’s on-line store.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://ripplemusic.bandcamp.com/album/volcanic-rock-live

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/buffalorevisited

Ripple Music, https://www.ripple-music.com/

Buffalo Revisited, Volcanic Rock Live (Ripple Music 2022)

Out Of This World, Out Of This World (Atomic Fire 2022)

The new music from Out Of this World will spark memories and regenerate a blazing fire.

The band is comprised of certified music veterans Kee Marcello (Europe), Tommy Heart (Fair Warning), Ken Sandin (Alien), and Darby Todd (Devin Townsend). They came together to create new music in the way that works best for them, and the result is an explosion of energetic melodic hard rock which has not been given this complete a treatment for years.

The opening track does have a decided Europe feel to it, with big keys and tall guitar riffs. Catchy hooks wind in to set up the clear hard rock vocals and carry the song on. That’s “Twilight,” and the glimpse it offers signals the rest of the album accurately. The tone throughout is melodic, but there are enough edges in there to satisfy your need for creative guitar work. Certainly, the lead guitar performances are very impressive. The compositions are designed to have broad appeal and they score high marks on that account.

Over the course of the ten tracks there is enough hair metal nostalgia to raise the dead. I listened to so much of this kind of music back at its beginning that I didn’t think I would ever hear something that sounded new, but here it is. The familiarity is there, and yet these songs have a sparkling born-on date. There is a dip into the power ballad arena from time to time, and there are stadium anthems, too. This set roves the planes of 80s heavy rock with wide-ranging aplomb. If you are a fan of this kind of music, you are going to like the new Out Of This World efforts. They take the music seriously and put on a great show. Recommended.

Out Of This World invades your airspace on Friday, January 14th through Atomic Fire Records. Check out the label store at the link below.

Links.

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/OOTWtheband

Atomic Fire Records, https://visionmerch.com/atomicfire/

Out Of This World, Out Of This World (Atomic Fire 2022)

Axe, The Albums 1979 – 1983 (Cleopatra 2021)

The axe swings again with a new four-CD set of the first albums from iconic metal band AXE.

I remember buying those early Axe (often stylized as AXE) albums in the 1970s and early 1980s. It is entirely possible that I bought the first one on the strength of the cover art alone – I was young. What you heard when you listened to the music was something that was very different from other contemporary bands. Melodic vocals and keyboards, which might make you think of bands like Styx or even Kansas, but with surprisingly sharp guitars. That’s what I remember most about Axe, those big guitar riffs that were so prominent in the mix.

The original Axe line-up (emerging after the demise of the band Babyface) was Bobby Barth (guitar, vocals), Edgar Riley, Jr. (keys), Mike Turpin (bass), Teddy Mueller (drums), and Michael Osborne (guitar). At the beginning, many band members traded off on vocals, but eventually the singing focused on Barth. Axe was growing in popularity with each passing year, and sales of their albums were increasing. They were well known as an energetic touring band and it looked like the sky was the limit. Tragedy struck in 1983 when Michael Osbourne died in a car accident that also badly injured Bobby Barth, and the band broke up immediately after. Axe did reform in the 1990s and have released several albums since. It is those first four that are stuck in my head, though, and they are the ones in the new set.

The clamshell box the new CDs are issued in hold individual sleeves with the original album artwork for all four releases: Axe (1979), Living On The Edge (1980), Offering (1982), and Nemesis (1983). The Offering CD has six bonus live tracks, and there is a 16-page booklet with an essay about the band by Dave Thompson, and liner notes. Lots of photos as well.

The new set is out now on the Dead Line imprint of Cleopatra Records. I am a big Axe fan so it was an easy choice for me. Listen to a few tracks at Bandcamp or Spotify if you want to test the waters before taking the plunge, but it is a solid bet the physical products won’t be available for long. Get them while you can. Recommended.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://therealrockaxe.bandcamp.com/album/the-albums-1979-1983

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/axeband1979

Cleopatra Records, https://cleorecs.com/store/shop/axe-the-albums-1979-1983-4cd/

Axe, The Albums 1979 – 1983 (Cleopatra 2021)

Clutch, State Theatre, Portland, Maine, October 3, 2021

Clutch is out right now on their usual year end tour. I hope you’re there now. Here are some shots from their State Theatre performance in October. Happy New Year!

All photos by Wayne Edwards.

Links.

Website, http://www.pro-rock.com/

Spotify, https://open.spotify.com/artist/6tqGMedAtDADU5mJulYhSj

YouTube, https://www.youtube.com/user/OfficialClutch

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/Clutchband

Clutch, State Theatre, Portland, Maine, October 3, 2021