With Just A Hint Of Mayhem

Music trivia, useless info, extra added random stuff and the odd rant from me

‘Something Blue’ – Lexytron May 28, 2020

Filed under: Review — justwilliam1959 @ 10:15 pm
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Lexytron recently released her first album, ‘Something Blue’, it is eclectic, exciting, electrifying, emotional and exceptional! Manchester-born Lexy describes herself as “Half Greek, half Persian, and half English”, she now lives in New Zealand. The album was recorded in London with Mike Grice of Manchester’s City Reign and mixed and mastered by London-based producer Marco Meloni. It encapsulates everything that a perfect blend of pop and rock should. There are riffs aplenty, earworm hooks and melodies, and superb vocals from Lexy who seems to be able to sing in an incredible range of styles. It is an album that straddles many styles and is proud of its quirkiness, moving from dreamy chill to hard riffing. This is most definitely a genre-defying album which is all the better for that defiance!

The swathe of synth that opens the album on “Blackmail” quickly moves forward with a dubby bass worthy of Jah Wobble before settling into a harmonic post-punk masterpiece. Like the GoGos on mind-altering substances. Lexy’s vocals are upbeat while at the same time suggesting real darkness as expressed in the lyrics. Perhaps the poppiest song on this record is the quirky but magnificent “I’m Not A Disco”, a song that in a parallel universe would win the Eurovision Song Contest with maximum points, even if it was the UK entry. This track deserves to be a chart mega-hit and is the kind of song that you could not remain seated for in a club. The chorus is something that I reckon Sparks would be proud of. The current single “Blue” has a great melody and Lexy’s voice sounds raw, frail, and passionate, a little like Patti Smith in her more reflective moments. It fits perfectly with a luscious love song that is all about love and loss. It is accompanied by a simple and very effective video shot at New Zealand’s Lake Pukaki and featuring just a head and shoulders take of Lexy doing the vocals. She scores highly for the David Bowie T-shirt she wears in the film too (the girl has great taste), I have the same Bowie shirt! “Couples” draws on some of the best of 70s and 80s soul, funk, and disco songs, especially the bass line and syncopated clapping and the vocals are reminiscent of Sophie Ellis Bextor.

Lexy gets very punky on “Intermittent” like early Blondie and the Bangles at their best. If this had of been released in the late 70s it would have been all over the radio. If the Strokes lost a bit of the misery and adopted a female vocalist they might sound a little like this. There is a much more acoustic feel to “21.5” and Lexy’s voice oozes emotion, it feels like a barbed takedown of someone. A former lover maybe?  The piano is the only instrument, other than vocals, on “The Veil Of Veronica” which is the closest to a proper ballad on this collection. It sounds like something that a young Kate Bush might have put together, particularly the vampish backing vocals. “In The Box” takes us back to a post-punk power pop style like Siouxsie Sioux singing a lost Marc Bolan lyric with its references to wizards, joker, beauty, and the beast. A dance remix of “Brand New” would be something special. Lyrics are bordering on psychedelic at times and there is happiness oozing from Lexy’s singing here. The penultimate track on the album is “Tell The Vein” is a song about trying to heal old emotional wounds, but how do we heal a heart that is broken. This is close to a true power ballad but without Celine Dionesque histrionics. Album closer “Gypsy Blue” ends the record on a happy and strangely weird level in which Lexy seems to be channeling the Greek part of her heritage with a sliver of Berlin 30s cabaret. This diverse and expert journey through so many genres which remains strangely apposite is a marvellously magical menagerie of sound and one hell of a debut album. Can I see Lexytron live now, please?

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‘Mustard Coloured Years’ EP – Wild Cat Strike


When searching the music world it isn’t always easy to find artists that are truly original but Brighton’s Wild Cat Strike merit that description. Their ‘Mustard Coloured Years’ EP strikes me as one of the most fascinating releases I have heard in a long time. Starting with Danny Byrom’s idiosyncratic and original vocals and superbly backed up by Max Boughen on guitar, Chris Whitehorn on bass and Joe Caple on drums this is a captivating band. It should be noted that all of these players are multi-instrumentalists so a truly multi-skilled ensemble.

“Mustard” combines an original sound with eccentric rhythms using light and shade with complex lyrical ideas. “Toothcutter” employs a different sound and method altogether. The lyrics are intriguing with their religious references writ large. There is a little feel of the Cure about this track but as with the other tracks this maintains its originality. This song has a second part to it which creates a more dreamy feel. “Swamp” is a mesmerising song that draws you in and is beautifully constructed. The music is inspired and intricate with a real application of lyrical thought processes and musicality. At the end of Roxy Music’s debut album, Bryan Ferry warbled “should make the cognoscenti think”. Well, Wild Cat Strike will surely have the same effect. My ears are open for more from this original group of musicians.

Written by Paul Bamlett.

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Play It Again Mayhem – “Someone Saved My Life Tonight” – Elton John May 23, 2020


This is the second of an occasional series of songs that I don’t believe ever got the airplay they deserved, the previous and first was for “Everybody Was Rockin'” by the late great Betty Wright. Click here to check that one out. I suspect that when I have completed a few in this series there will be an accompanying playlist!

My favourite Elton John album is ‘Captain Fantastic And The Brown Dirt Cowboy’ and it has been ever since it was released in 1975. “Someone Saved My Life Tonight” is not only my favourite song on the album it was the only single to come from it. The record performed well in the US chart, reaching number 4, (and number 2 in Canada), but in the UK chart, it only made a lowly 22. The song, and indeed the album, is autobiographical and covers Elton and Bernie Taupin’s early life together as struggling songwriters. “Someone Saved My Life Tonight” describes Elton’s failed suicide attempt on the eve of a potential and probably disastrous marriage in 1968. He had tried to gas himself, but when Bernie Taupin found him the window was also open. Which meant it was an inept attempt at suicide or maybe just a classic “cry for help”. The “someone” and the phrase “sugar bear” in the song are believed to refer to Elton’s 60s friend Long John Baldry who spent a lot of time and effort trying to steer the then Reg Dwight away from that marriage. For me, it ranks as one of the best lyrics Mr Taupin ever wrote (lyrics are copied below). Maybe the song was too long for a UK single at 15 seconds shy of seven minutes. But Elton, given the deeply personal nature of the tune, refused to edit it for single release. It was also the last single, for 8 years, to feature the classic Elton John Band line up of Dee Murray (bass), Davey Johnstone (guitar), and Nigel Olsson (drums). The song has been covered by Mumford and Sons, sampled by Kanye West and referenced a few times in Stephen King’s Dark Tower series.

I have added a bonus live version of the song from Central Park, NYC in 1980. If the woman who made it onto the stage at around 6 and a half minutes in is still around I would love to chat with her for another post. Is it you? Is it your Mom? Do you know her? Please let me know!

“Someone Saved My Life Tonight” – Elton John (music Elton John, lyrics Bernie Taupin)

When I think of those East End lights
Muggy nights
The curtains drawn in the little room downstairs
Prima donna Lord you really should have been there
Sitting like a princess perched in her electric chair
And it’s one more beer
And I don’t hear you anymore
We’ve all gone crazy lately
My friends out there rolling round the basement floor
And someone saved my life tonight sugar bear
You almost had your hooks in me didn’t you dear
You nearly had me roped and tied
Altar-bound, hypnotized
Sweet freedom whispered in my ear
You’re a butterfly
And butterflies are free to fly
Fly away, high away bye bye
I never realized the passing hours
Of evening showers
A slip noose hanging in my darkest dreams
I’m strangled by your haunted social scene
Just a pawn out-played by a dominating queen
It’s four o’clock in the morning
Damn it listen to me good
I’m sleeping with myself tonight
Saved in time, thank God my music’s still alive
And someone saved my life tonight sugar bear
You almost had your hooks in me didn’t you dear
You nearly had me roped and tied
Altar-bound, hypnotized
Sweet freedom whispered in my ear
You’re a butterfly
And butterflies are free to fly
Fly away, high away bye bye
And I would have walked head-on into the deep end the river
Clinging to your stocks and bonds
Paying your H.P. demands forever
They’re coming in the morning with a truck to take me home
Someone saved my life tonight, someone saved my life tonight
Someone saved my life tonight, someone saved my life tonight
Someone saved my life tonight
So save your strength and run the field you play alone
And someone saved my life tonight sugar bear
You almost had your hooks in me didn’t you dear
You nearly had me roped and tied
Altar-bound, hypnotized
Sweet freedom whispered in my ear
You’re a butterfly
And butterflies are free to fly
Fly away, high away bye bye

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‘DRUGS’ EP – Sugar Horse May 22, 2020

Filed under: Review — justwilliam1959 @ 3:29 pm
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Brutal Bristol Doomgazers, Sugar Horse’s new EP, DRUGS, is a punishing aural assault but it also features ephemeral moments of beauty. Doomy opening track, “Drugs”, utilizes neo-Sabbath riffs over apocalyptic, downtempo drumming, and (what feel like) random pauses filled with studio chatter. Vocalist, Ashley Tubb’s voice takes on similar qualities to Deftones’ Chino Morino when it soars into higher registers in the choruses. This chimes in well with DRUGS’ press material’s, which likens Sugar Horse to a Doomy Pink Floyd. It wasn’t unusual to read Deftones being described as the Nu-Metal Pink Floyd. Around the four-minute mark, some chanting, almost gospel-like, vocals come in over some chugging guitars before the track drops back down into the heaviest, most punishing, section yet.

“Pity Party” definitely earns the Doomgaze title, with its more melodic vocals & walls of reverbed fuzzy guitar noise and swirls of feedback replacing the hammering riffs of the previous track. The rhythm section maintains the punishing, metallic abrasiveness. There is an almost heroic, lighters-in-the-air atmosphere. Single, “Richard Branson In The Sky With Diamonds”, begins with fuzzier, shoegazey riffing, reminiscent of Pink-era Boris or some of the more melodic Sunn O))) tunes. The vocals are trademarked metal screams when they drop in and they fit in between the stop-start rhythms. There are twists and turns aplenty and the perceived loudness and heaviness dips and dives constantly. Vocalist Ashley Tubb says it’s “a centrepiece for the record. A mangling of every direction we go in, distilled down and blasted out at both destructive and fragile volume”.

“When September Rain” is a sparse, haunting ballad (as strange as that sounds), built around vicious snare drum crack and gentle synth melodies. It’s definitely an outlier here. The heavy reverbs on the vocals and the blending of the choral backing vocals with the main seems to lend it a quasi-religious feel. Towards the end, it builds up into a wall of pure noise that would make Brian Eno or Kevin Shields jealous. “Dogegg” is a slow, sludgy slice of abrasive Doom. Perfectly pitched to end this EP. It’s heavy riffing also gives strong Boris vibes. Perhaps more Amplifier Worship than Pink though. Despite its bludgeoning feel, there are moments of tranquillity where all you hear are gentle drum patterns, subby bass, and clean guitar chords. These atmospheric segments mainly serve to heighten the impact of the next loud section though, and they fulfil this role magnificently.

DRUGS is an unusual EP and there is almost guaranteed to be something, whether song or moment, which pleases everyone. It may, however, struggle to please some due to its variety. I cannot imagine purist Doomers enjoying “When September Rain”, for example. Personally, I find this level of variety and experimentalism extremely inviting. It is definitely impressive to find such variety on a five-track EP with a runtime below 30 minutes.

Written by Tom Ray.

DRUGS EP is available now on all good digital music platforms.

The pictures were found via Google and the videos were found on YouTube. If any of them are yours and you would either like a credit or for them to be removed please let me know.

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‘Living Dead Stars’ – Living Dead Stars

Filed under: Review — justwilliam1959 @ 3:02 pm
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Every now and then in this strange old musical world a band crops up that makes you think, wow, these people really mean what they say and love what they do. Living Dead Stars are just such a band. The band was formed in London in 2016 but is now based in Southern California. They are influenced by such titans as Avenged Sevenfold, System of a Down, and Five Finger Death Punch and while this is clear they also bring their own touches and skills to this masterly debut.
“Redeem Ourselves” which opens the album has an intriguing introduction and then moves into an epic metallic riff laced with some outstanding keyboards. Next up is “Nightmare” which boasts another great intro. This track gives us fair warning that two of the predominant features of this album will be strong vocals and tight exact rhythms.

“Checkmate” begins with a superb drum intro and then leads into a big chunky monster riff which is topped off with some great harmonising in the vocal department. As if that’s not enough this track also shows the gentler side of the band for the first time. “Killzone” is built around a great killer heavyweight fast riff which allows the excellent rhythm section an opportunity to really strut their stuff. Track 5 is “In Pieces”. For me, this is the standout track. Gritty vocals and an excellent arrangement. This epic wide-screen feel is what this band excels at and this track also features an exquisite guitar solo and a marvelous piano coda.
“Hopeless” begins with the same piano figure as the band plays on its epic strengths. As with many albums, this one grows in stature as it progresses. After a strong start, the songwriting becomes even stronger on the later tracks. Track seven is “Escape from Heaven”. The more melodic feel continues and the harmonies are beautiful. This is once again a strong song that benefits from repeated listening.

“Fallen” moves back into slightly thrashy territory but maintains the melodic feel with strong lyrics and vocals. “Through The Fire” begins with the epic feel but moves into a faster rhythm that drives the song to an anthemic close with an army of guitars adding a touch of Iron Maiden style glory. The closing track “Northern Star” opens with beautiful elegiac guitars and strings. The rhythm picks up but sustains a gentler ballad style feel which helps to show the musicality of this band at its best. This is a truly exceptional album by a band that has clearly taken time to assemble their strongest collection of songs. There is light and shade here which makes for a fascinating and engaging listen. With Living Dead Stars you can sense the hunger to really break into the big leagues and judging by this excellent album it won’t be long.

Written by Paul Bamlett.

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‘Blunt To Fakie’ – Woke Up Dead May 21, 2020

Filed under: Review — justwilliam1959 @ 4:47 pm
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Leeds pop-punk overlords Woke Up Dead recently exposed their debut album to the world, it is called ‘Blunt To Fakie’ and it is rather good! They are a three-piece band that plays in the classic format used by many of the most successful North American pop-punk bands like Green Day, Blink 182 and Sum 41. But they are more than just pop-punk, they appear to draw influence from old school punk, skate punk, and power pop. ‘Blunt To Fakie’ is like a greatest hits collection in terms of the power and quality of the songs. The music is full of happy vibes while the lyrics deal with much darker topics. On their FaceBook page, they state “We are a punk band from Leeds. We hate you.” Well maybe they do hate us, but after listening to this album I bloody love Woke Up Dead. The band says their main influences are the Ramones, Screeching Weasel, Teenage Bottlerocket, Mr. T Experience, and really really shitty videogames. More about the video games later! The boys got together as a band back in 2018 and since then they have shared a stage with some darned good bands, Bad Cop Bad Cop, H20, Death By Stereo and one of my favourites, Wonk Unit. They also played the Rebellion Festival last year and I reckon they would have been back this year had it not been for this bastard virus.

The album kicks off with perhaps the shortest song I have heard in ages, even by classic punk standards, “Loser Of The Year” it is a brilliant showcase of the band’s pop-punk prowess but just way too short at just 37 seconds. Incidentally, every one of the sixteen tracks clocks in at less than three minutes, just like the early Ramones stuff. The record really gets into gear with “Superman 64” a song about one of the really really shitty videogames mentioned earlier. In a parallel universe this tune, with its massive riffs, ace harmonies and huge production would be racing up the singles charts. I love some of the lyrics to “My Own Crack Lab” especially “this dedication to denigration is shining through”. The music here reminds me of early Blink 182 and once again Woke Up Dead excel in producing an incredible earworm of a tune. This is a band that is as tight as I have heard in a while, the playing on “Padded Cell” is perhaps the best on this collection; volcanic riffing from Pete, Seismic bass from Mark and drums that could move mountains from Si. There is a dialogue sample from the first Resident Evil game which opens “Spencer Mansion”, which gamers and film fans will recognise from the Resident Evil series. After listening to this album four or five times this is my second favourite track. The heaviest sounding track on the album is “Us Vs You” and the anger and venom in the lyrics is personified by describing the subject of the song, and I am glad it isn’t about me, as a “slimy fucking turd”. Maybe not a song to play to your Grandma, but I still find myself singing along on every play.

I can hear the ghost of the Ramones on “Skate”, the only thing missing is the 1,2,3,4 intro that da bruddas used to use. Another classy slab of fine punk music. Frustrated youth seems strong in “Kate”, where Dave sings of Kate being “so fucking cool” but also that Kate “don’t like boys”. The Kate in question gets mentioned in the lyrics too, it’s Kate McKinnon US comedian, actress, and star of the recent Ghostbusters reboot. I find myself providing backing vocals in harmony with bassist Mark on the glorious “I’m A Fucking Spy”. I can hear a hint of Ash in “Silly Girl” which wears its pop credentials on its sleeve and the syncopated clapping parts hark back to the early 60s girl groups. The Super Furry Animals would have been proud of a song title like “I Don’t Give A Fuck”, but it sounds nothing like them. I reckon this will sound spectacular in a live environment, although to be fair I believe the whole album will. “Nothing I Recall” made me think of the early Damned, particularly in the walking bass line which harks back to Captain Sensible’s bass playing, although much better. It is not after that a song about wishing your life would end sticks in your head, but “My Life Is A Write-Off” does just that. The closest Woke Up Dead sound to Blink 182 is on “Devil You Know” and it is a masterpiece of modern pop-punk. I am sure that this song was recorded before COVID-19 but the line “spent too long in isolation” is pertinent. My favourite track is definitely “You Don’t Know Shit”. Everything comes together perfectly on this one anger, venom, great vocals, and a stupendous performance from the lads. Album closer “Polybius” is an arcade game reference, a fictitious arcade game in fact. It comes from the urban legend from around 2000 that a supposedly fictitious game called Polybius which according to Wikipedia was said to be “part of a government-run crowdsourced psychology experiment based in Portland, Oregon, during 1981. Gameplay supposedly produced intense psychoactive and addictive effects in the player”. The song references the notorious Men In Black who allegedly visited these arcade games periodically for data mining purposes.

If I had set out to find negatives in this album I would have struggled it is an ace debut from a great band. Now I can hardly wait for some kind of normal when I can get to see them play live! Click here to listen to the album on Spotify, I will be very disappointed in you if I find that you don’t like it, in fact, I will arrange for the Men In Black to visit your home and “probe” you!

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“Papa Cheese” – Chronic Johnny May 17, 2020

Filed under: Review — justwilliam1959 @ 1:24 pm
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Everyone likes cheese, right? Everyone likes cheesy pop, right? If you like your rock hard, thrashing, metallic, and noisier than a supersonic jet with a backfiring exhaust then whether you like cheese or not you will probably love Chronic Johnny’s new tune, “Papa Cheese”. If your main musical taste is cheesy pop then you will probably avoid Chronic Johnny, although maybe you should step away from pop cheese and get some “Papa Cheese” in your life. This is a song that will do more than shake the lockdown cobwebs out of your head it will lead to the spiders in your head leaving en masse for quieter climes. I think this tune may prove to be a Marmite song, people will love it or hate it, I bloody love it!

It is extreme garage punk that shakes the room to its foundations, I think the lyrics may be an ode to a dairy product formed by the coagulation of the milk protein casein, a.k.a. cheese! However I can’t make out all the lyrics, but it still stands as a great song. Chronic Johnny refer to themselves as a wild noiserock trio from Harrogate and that is about as much information as I can find about them online. “Papa Cheese” is their first single and is solid proof that they are wild noiserockers! I reckon it is about time that the genteel spa town of Harrogate had some real noise!

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