Slug Comparison, When You Were Living Here, 2019

Slug Comparison - When You Were Living HereSecond album from Canadian singer / guitar player Doug Harrison (Fen). The first one was released a couple years ago and I loved that one to bits. After that, Doug started releasing a few songs at a time in the form of digital EP’s, until Rock Company came with the plan to combine those with a few extra songs and release them in physical form too. And the result is this!

Opener Exactly What To Do is a meaty rocker that kicks things into gear. Great chorus too. Hyperslump is more mellow, even when the tempo goes up a bit. Let Some Light has a bit of a singer/ songwriter vibe to it. It sounds deceivingly simple!
There are several songs on this album that send the shivers up my spine. Fine With It is one of them, same as the killer title track and Beings Far Away. Those last 2 are dedicated to the memory of Eric Rose, Doug’s close friend from whom a painting is used in the front cover. So Ya Got A Great Guitar and One More Step are a return to more rocking territory.

This release proves once more that Harrison is a fabulous songwriter with the ability to sing any type of song with a stunning passion and emotion. Also, the diversity of the tracks means that lots of people will find something to their liking. This is a genre crossing release that you must explore!


Stimuli, They Are We, 2018

stimuli - they are weThis album has been spinning quite a few times the last couple of weeks. And it just keeps intriguing me! Let’s first introduce the band members; Tai Hake does bass and theremin, Jimmy Tomahawk sings and plays guitars and Cole Andrews handles drums. The album is self produced and released and since California is mentioned on the cover, I guess that is where they are from. They also have Thayne “Chief Runnamukka” Hake guesting on Native American flute.

The music on this album could be described as a mix of Rush, Tool and Alice In Chains. The drumming in the songs is inventive with a combination of groove and unexpected fills and breaks. The vocals are the most grunge oriented I think. Combine that with expressive guitar and bass and you have that combination that keeps me locked in while listening.
What also helps is that the 11 songs on offer are all about 4 to 5 minutes. So they are focused and varied.

And yet somehow I struggle to pinpoint why I like it so much. But after all that does not really matter. Fact is I thoroughly enjoy hearing it and never mind hitting replay.

So if the bands mentioned are right up your alley, this is surely worth tracking down!


Ewian, Of Those Who Drown To Live, 2018

ewian - of those who drown to liveAlready album 4 for Ewian!  You can also find their 2014 and 2017 release here. The intriguing front cover was made by Polish painter Tomasz Alen Kopera. Another thing I got from the mail exchange with singer Ewian Christensen was that there will be a video for every one of the 12 tracks on the album. Find those via his website below.

And now the music. Think it is safe to say that Ewian have not lost their alternative touches.  Yet when I compare this to their previous effort, for me the total balance is better. Judging from the titles (Drown To Live, Beautiful Lie, The Final Breath, See You In Heaven, etc.) the lyrical subjects are more on the dark side. And indeed, the music is often dark in tone, moody and melancholic.

But that is not a bad thing when the performances create an atmosphere that fully justifies the already mentioned cover. This is an intriguing album, with mood swings and emotional singing by Ewian. The regularly sparse arrangements serve to highlight those vocals. And of course sometimes the songs just plain rock, like on Paradise Lost. Where most of the songs feature guitar, from Box Of Pandora the keyboards take over, creating an almost Eighties New Wave sound.
The album closes with 3 longer songs. On Inception the keyboards continue to take centre stage in the 3+ minute intro. Then the guitars are tuned back in, and the slow brooding tempo keeps you on your toes, anxiously waiting for things to develop. And then the keyboards return, slowly guiding you to Life Uncut. The piano and strings here give it an almost classical feel. Closer See You In Heaven reminded me a bit of Coldplay. But more musical and with more depth.

All in all my favourite album by Ewian so far. More diverse and very intense.


Kiddie Coke, Medical Walls, 2017

kiddie coke - medical wallsHere is a French band that started out in 2010 and consists of Christelle Lacombre on vocals and guitar, Yann Charliquart on guitar, Yann Ferry on bass and Guillaume Dupré on drums. But let me tell you upfront, if I had not read they were from France, I would have thought that they came straight out of California! Because their brand of melodic alternative rock with a slight punky energy sounds international. And yes that means that singer Lacombre effortlessly delivers her vocals without any form of accent.

And that is not the only good thing as the vocals are very pleasant and convincing. The band put a lot of energy in their playing, but avoid constantly hitting you with a wall of sound. Most of the songs are instant, with enough good hooks and diversity to keep you interested. In fact, I feel some songs are so catchy, they deserve to become global hits. So if you want to know what I mean, my listening tips would be Displeasure and Familiar Circles. Oh, if only radio would play songs like this, with melody and rocking guitars…

But hey, we still have CD’s to enjoy (or streaming or mp3 if that is more your thing, as long as you buy it!), and this is an album I will play more often. Yes, I am happy label Bad Reputation sent this!


Ewian, Heart Crash Boom Bang, 2017

ewian - heart crash boom bangI quite liked the previous Ewian album that landed on my desk, so was very curious to find out how this one would fare. In all honesty I am not sure if this is the successor, or if I missed one, but anyway. If my memory serves me right, this is quite another animal than Good Old Underground from 2014. Yes I would still label this as alternative rock or maybe post rock (whatever that is) but somehow the impact this album has on me is different.

And I guess the key factor is the sound of the album. Several songs sound distorted. And by that I do not refer to the guitars, as that is normal, but I also hear it on piano, vocals and cymbals and that kinda spoils my enthusiasm for the songs. I understand that may be down to preferences, but still, I have a bit of a hard time getting used to it.
Radioactive Star is a good opener, catchy and energetic with again that touch of melancholy I liked so much. Visions is still sounding fairly normal, but Sorry just comes across as a blur of harsh sound. And this feeling of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde keeps coming back to me throughout the album.

So for me a two faced monster, part good and part not so much. You will have to check for yourself!


Semistereo, Trans Earth Injection, 2017

semistereo - trans earth injectionHoly Cow! Man, I just love how sometimes an album takes you by surprise and just blows you out of your socks. Yes dear readers, this album Trans Earth Injection from the Dutch band Semistereo did just that. And the best thing is, from the stunning artwork in the digipack, to the booklet, to the sound and most important the songs, everything is of the same high calibre.

And I have to be honest, until this dropped in my post box I had never heard of this band. And when you realise this is self produced and recorded around the globe, you become even more in awe of the result. Even when this turns out to be their third album already. Compared to the likes of Oceansize, Karnivool, Deftones and A Perfect Circle, the quintet managed to capture strong melodies, with atmosphere, depth as well as raw eruptions. So yeah alternative rock, but with a pinch of post rock and a tad of prog.

With 7 songs and over 50 minutes of playing time, this is a hammer that everyone serious about rock music should give a home. It is intense, it is powerful, it is mind blowing. And maybe even more. So no more chit chat, go out and buy the thing and immerse yourself in one of the best albums this year has yet seen!


Everlost US, Live And Let Go, 2016

everlost-live-and-let-goEverlost or Everlost US are in essence a one man band as it is Jared Kay  who takes care of vocals, piano, guitar, bass and drums. The music compares to All Time Low, Yellowcard, Saosin or Set It Off. So slightly alternative or modern rock. With 7 songs and a play time of 24 minutes I think of it as an EP.

But truth be told, while listening I never thought about it not being a band, so Kay delivers a professional performance on all accounts. So fans of the bands mentioned before, can take a leap into this without fear. For all the others, this is dynamic music with enough melody and variation to keep you good company. Alas 24 minutes isn’t that much, I would prefer a full length actually. But I guess that only confirms the quality on offer here.

With an ambition to rise above his Orlando reputation, this is surely a good step into going global.


Witchers, Self Titled, 2015

WitchersWitchers are an alternative rock band from Norwich UK, and this is their debut. As influences they cite The Mars Volta, Radiohead, Led Zeppelin, various prog rock bands and I think I want to add Muse (due to the timbre of singer Simon Yaxley). Phew, that are a lot of names to let sink in, so we’d better head on to the music.

And I must say, this has turned out to be a very pleasant acquaintance with the band. And for a first, this sounds remarkably confident and balanced. And while the alternative and prog influences are surely there, the band have succeeded in creating an album that is far from unnecessarily complicated or strange. It is actually pretty easy to digest, without being flat or predictable. No small accomplishment, even if I know little to nothing of the age and background of the band. The music manages to really capture you. It raises tension of a pleasant kind, it seduces and it surprises. Lot’s of things happening in the arrangements, but it is all about the song and the delivery, never about showing off.

So a lot of positive things to say about the band and the album, which makes it really easy to heartily recommend you go check them out!


Slow Down Molasses, Burnt Black Cars, 2015

slow down molasses - burnt black carsThis is the first full length international release of these Canadians, after the success of their limited release of their 2012 title Walk Into The Sea. It draws upon a series of photos taken by the father of member Tyson McShane in the 1968 Paris riots. That was a chaotic and maybe wild eyed optimistic time and those sentiments we find on this disk also.

Operating as a kind of alternative rock band (the press sheet speaks of prairie post rock and psych rock) it is clear that both chaos and melody, as well as groove, are used to set the scene. Layered sounds build an intense feeling. Sometimes edgy and rough, sometimes almost clean and neat. The music is never really heavy, it is more a mix of eighties new wave (keyboards) with the fuzzed guitar sound of stoner rock.
All this makes for an interesting listen and an album that knows how to attract, and yet still grows with every listen. Which is a quality mark in this house! Also the fact there are both male and female lead vocals helps to create the bands rather unique sound.

Even if full length is open to debate, with an album clocking in at 36 minutes, I would rather have this than getting an  hour that does nothing for me. So I say job well done!


Slug Comparison, Self Titled, 2014

slug comparisonFans of Opeth, Porcupine Tree or Katatonia please pay attention. Slug Comparison is the moniker under which Fen vocalist and guitarist Doug Harrison has released this self titled album. And it is a progressive alternative rock album with a dark edge to it. Which is why the artwork makes perfect sense.

What most caught my hear while listening to this is the voice of Harrison. His delivery is a perfect match for the moody music. That never is really heavy or technical, the emphasis is on melodies and melancholy. This is blending darkness and light and has no trouble holding your attention. Recorded over a 2 year period, Harrison keeps exploring and keeps growing, both as a vocalist and as a song writer. Several Fen mates help out on this album, so fans of their Trail Out Of Gloom album will want this.

Opener Bringer Of Doom is a nice way to get acquainted, and every song that follows just strengthens that familiar feeling. Short Of Hell has a great melody and some twisted sounds to throw you of the path. Which is a good thing. Evil Ways sees Doug experiment with his vocals and Long Live The Night is a multi layered epic where a choir and battlefield soundscapes add to the impact.
Interesting and spell binding…