A few recent (and not so recent) albums I’ve not had the chance to review in full, but are all far too good to be overlooked.
Blood Ceremony – The Eldrich Dark
The spooky Canadians’ third album has lightly less stoner metal riffing and more psychedelia, with less emphasis on fuzz-toned guitar and more on sinister Hammond organ. There’s no change in their focus on 70s horror film motifs, with song titles like “Lord Summerisle” and lyrics about crimson altars. With plenty of Alia O’Brien’s flute the end result is a cross between Jethro Tull on acid and Uriah Heep from Hell.
Goldfrapp – Tales of Us
This record is allegedly too “mainstream” for me, but it’s got a very similar vibe to albums like Luna Rossa’s “Sleeping Pills and Lullabies” and Odin Dragonfly’s “Offerings“. There’s no trace of the electro-glam of their earlier records here, the stripped down arrangements made up largely of acoustic guitar and strings emphasise the beguiling melodies of the songs and beauty of Alison Goldfrapp’s voice.
The Graveltones – Don’t Wait Down
This duo have been kicking up a storm on the live circuit, and their début album manages to capture the power and intensity of the band’s live performances. The combination of raw and dirty blues riffs and powerhouse drums as a lead instrument in the vein of John Bonham or Keith Moon make a glorious rock’n'roll noise. This a record that needs to be played loud for maximum effect.
Magenta – The Twenty-Seven Club
With song titles like “The Lizard King”, “Ladyland Blues” and “Stoned” the subject matter of Magenta’s sixth studio album ought to be obvious here. As with any Magenta record, strong echoes of Yes are never far away, with some very Steve Howe like phrases from guitarist Chris Fry. Similarly, Christina Booth’s sings in similar register to Jon Anderson, although her performances have a lot more emotional depth. One standout song is the beautiful ballad “Pearl”, its less-is-more simplicity contrasting with the more complex epics on the album, with a superbly emotive vocal. As a whole, the album takes a position midway between the dark intensity of “Metamorphosis” and the commercial Magenta-lite of “Chameleon”. As a distillation of a lot of what’s good about Magenta’s music this makes a very good starting point for new listeners.