Search Still Got The Fever

Friday 27 December 2013

Marlin, Sabbath, Zervas, Doillon, Mitiku, Gelb and Simon head Best 50 Albums Of The Year 2013

Mike Marlin

1. MIKE MARLIN: Grand Reveal

The former child prodigy, physics boffin and city whizzkid releases a deadpan delivery rock and roll album that’s lyrically astute, nodding to Lou Reed and David Bowie.

2. IAN McNABB: Eclectic Warrior

The Icicle Works frontman returns to the Neil Young-inspired guitar-spitting rock that was the signature of his hallmark Head Like A Rock album.

3. PURE LOVE: Anthems

Not the maudlin mess the name of the band and the album might suggest, but big hook-laden rock songs from Gallows frontman Frank Carter.

4. NEW MODEL ARMY: Between Dog And Wolf

New lease of life for the Bradford revolutionaries thanks to a left turn that sees them drag drums high up in the mix, tribal rhythm replacing rock riff.

5. AIRBOURNE: Black Dog Barking

They’ve always followed in the footsteps of Angus Young, and now Aussie rockers Airbourne come up with the best album that AC/DC never made.

6. THE WINERY DOGS: The Winery Dogs

Monster riffs, big bass, levee-breaking drums and gravel grunge vocals as prog rockers Mike Portnoy and Billy Sheehan re-invent classic rock.

7. DEEP PURPLE: Now What?

They could have called it quits after Jon Lord died. So it’s surprising that Purple’s return, with Don Airey as super-sub, is better than anyone expected.

8. DROPKICK MURPHYS: Signed And Sealed In Blood

Rabble-rousing American-Irish rock and reel that captures the energy of the Boston paddy punks’ shows. The boys are back and they’re looking for trouble.

9. SAMMY HAGAR: & Friends

Red rocker Sammy Hagar calls in a stellar cast including Joe Satriani, Neal Schon, Kid Rock and Heart’s Nancy Wilson for blues-rock fuelled studio fun.

10. TOM KEIFER: The Way Life Goes

The Cinderella frontman’s solo album eschews the band’s dated glam metal for an eclectic mix of rock and roll, stadium pop and radio ballads.


 Zervas & Pepper


1. ZERVAS & PEPPER: Lifebringer

Welsh duo Paul Zervas and Kathryn Pepper capture the sound and the spirit of the Woodstock generation on an album that shamelessly takes its cues from late 1960s California.

2. TIERRA BLANCA: Shadowlands

Moody wild western rock and stroll surprise from Brit John McKeown, a Tex-Mex tapas of self-penned songs that recalls Tito & Tarantula.

3. GOLDFRAPP: Tales Of Us

Alison Goldfrapp and Will Gregory back to what they do best: ethereal ballads delivered in whispered vocals and wrapped up in cinematic strings.

4. DEAF HAVANA: Old Souls

Flag-waving festival rock with pop hooks from the surprise package at Reading. Widescreen road trip rock that marries Springsteen to The Killers.

5. JOHN FOGERTY: Wrote A Song For Everyone

Creedence legend re-invents his rock classics special guests ranging from Foo Fighters and Tom Morello to Bob Seger and Allen Toussaint.

6. DAVID BOWIE: The Next Day

His first album in ten years, some of it masterful, some of it muddled. But Bowie albums are never to be missed and overall it’s welcome back.

7. I AM KLOOT: Let It All In

Elbow’s Guy Garvey guests on his Mancunian mates’ new album – 10 songs in 36 minutes proving that less can, indeed, be more.

8. DAVE STEWART: Lucky Numbers

Eurythmic Dave Stewart’s set is rooted in classic 1960s British rhythm and blues shot through with Americana – recorded on a yacht in the South Pacific.

9. COUNTING CROWS: Echoes Of The Outlaw Roadshow

New live set is a barnstormer, collecting fan favourites and covers. A reworked Round Here and a mash-up of Rain King and Elbow’s Lippy Kid star.

10. GIN WIGMORE: Gravel & Wine

She hollers like a veteran rock and roller, and plays the blues as if she was born in the USA. Rootsy pop-rock from the New Zealand songbird.

Lou Doillon


1. LOU DOILLON: Places

Parisian songbird Lou Doillon, daughter of Jane Birkin, half-sister of Charlotte Gainsbourg, gets moody as her warm, part-sung, part-spoken vocal caresses sublime songs. The French Aimee Mann.

2. DAVID FORD: Charge

Ford’s best album to date adds variations in pace and mood to that distinctive vocal. How the ex-Easyworld frontman remains under the radar is a mystery.

3. PHILDEL: The Disappearance Of The Girl

The Brit songbird has soundtracked TV ads ranging from M&S to Apple, but her own album reveals she has an ethereal indie-pop voice to die for.

4. BILLY BRAGG: Tooth & Nail

Bragg has rarely sung better, and the gently reflective songs are country confessional rather than rock and roll rebellion. That’s getting older for you.

5. LINDI ORTEGA: Cigarettes & Truckstops

Although she’s just moved to Nashville, Ortega is equally at home on the Coachella and T In The Park stages. Country, rock and murder ballads.

6. DIDO: Girl Who Got Away

She’s been there, done it, got the T-shirt but Dido’s long-awaited return is every bit as winning as her debut. She’s the girl who came back.

7. GABRIELLE APLIN: English Rain

She topped the charts with Frankie’s The Power Of Love thanks to John Lewis. Now she bares her soul in a folk-pop set with world music cues.

8. JENN BOSTIC: Jealous

Lazily catalogued as country, Bostic gives the late Amy Winehouse a run for her her soul-pop money. Jealous Of The Angels was huge on youtube.

9. STEVE EARLE: The Low Highway

Roots rocker Steve Earle’s most upfront and rock radio-friendly set since 2004’s The Revolution Starts Now. He was great at Symphony Hall.

10. JOSHUA RADIN: Wax Wings

Bubbly folk, polished pop, memorable melody – and is that icon Ryan Adams I hear on guitar on Lovely Tonight? A high-flier.

Howe Gelb


1. HOWE GELB: The Coincidentalist

Dusty desert Americana from the prolific troubadour, recorded with M. Ward and Sonic Youth’s Steve Shelley. Bonnie Prince Billy and KT Tunstall guest in a strong set without a weak link.

2. TOM RUSSELL: Aztec Jazz

The godfather of Americana has never been shy of re-invention and now revisits sublime signature songs live with the Norwegian Wind Ensemble.

3. CHRISTY MOORE: Where I Come From

Asked to select songs for a three-disc retrospective, Moore has chosen instead to rerecord 45 of them, updating the lyrics to reflect the changing times.

4. THE FALLOWS: Liars & Kings

The Coventry band’s clever tuneful folk-rock is a delight, with Cast The First Stone unlikely to be bettered anytime soon in its genre.


The Aussie songbird who calls Britain home has her folk roots peeping through polished pop production. Better than KT Tunstall and Amy MacDonald.

Black Sabbath's Tony Iommi



An event album. Sabbath’s reunion has seen them come full circle to the metal with which they first made their name, and exceeded even the band’s own expectations.

2. STONE SOUR: House of Gold & Bones Part 2

Corey Taylor’s metallers close the circle on the concept album begun last year with radio-friendly riffs nodding both to idols Sabbath and Metallica.

3. MOTORHEAD: Aftershock

Lemmy may have a pacemaker but driving rock guitar riffs, gruff vocals, speaker-busting bass and bombshell drums spell business as usual.

4. ALTER BRIDGE: Fortress

Myles Kennedy returns to the day job after his foray with Slash, and Alter Bridge’s fourth studio set accordingly proves their most radio-friendly yet.


A7X have waded out into the mainstream until they’ve emerged dripping hard rock riffs, with nods to Metallica, Maiden, Sabbath and G’n’R.

Paul Simon


1. PAUL SIMON: The Complete Albums Collection

Fourteen albums from his debut to the most recent outing in one hefty box set, adding up to an amazing 199 tracks in all. Arguably the greatest singer-songwriter of them all.

2. THE EAGLES: The Studio Albums 1972-1979

Six-album boxset from one of the world’s best and most enduring of bands. Looking forward to seeing them at the LG Arena in May next year!

3. DEL SHANNON: Essential Collection 1961-1991

Everything you ever wanted to hear from the late, great Del Shannon, including Runaway. I was proud to do some recording with him in the Seventies.

4. THE WHO: Live At The Isle Of Wight Festival

One of Britain’s greatest-ever rock bands, caught at their peak, whilst topping the bill at the Isle of Wight Festival in 1970. Sensational.

5. CHICAGO: The Studio Albums 1969-1978

Ten-album boxset from debut Chicago Transit Authority in 1969 to Hot Streets in 1978. Over 150 tracks by one of my all-time favourite bands.

Emilia Mitiku


1. EMILIA MITIKU: I Belong To You

She ended the nineties with worldwide hit Big Big World but now she’s subtly smouldering through a bluesy set informed by the greats – Etta, Ella, Eartha and Billie.


The musical marriage of Stateside blues belter Beth Hart and guitar giant Joe Bonamassa is surely made in rock and roll heaven.

3. HUGH LAURIE: Didn’t It Rain

Gentler, soulful and more spine-tingling than debut Let Us Talk, Laurie brings the virtuoso voices of Gaby Moreno and Jean McClain along for the ride.

4. POPA CHUBBY: Universal Breakdown Blues

Unlikely figure for a guitar hero, his publicity shots suggesting R&B bling, but Popa Chubby plays down and dirty blues-rock with attitude.

5. DANNY BRYANT: Hurricane

Blues-rock guitar albums can be self-indulgent snoozes, but Bryant lets his tormented soul seep out on a set of surprisingly strong songs.

Saturday 21 December 2013

Black Sabbath : LG Arena Birmingham 2013 review & setlist

There he stood, dressed in black, a grim grin spreading across his face. Flanked by giant photographs of Pope Benedict XVI, Ozzy Osbourne blessed the faithful, and perhaps thanked his own lucky stars.

Because Black Sabbath, Brummie inventors of heavy metal, were finally back home where they belong, shrugging off their collective 227 years and the serious health problems that have dogged their later lives.

More than 15,000 turned out to worship at the altar of the rock guitar riff as founders Osbourne, Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler – with babe-in-arms Tommy Clufetos standing in for Bill Ward – rolled back time.

They’d been at ease with each other at the soundcheck, laughing and joking, but there’d been an underlying tension. “Playing our hometown with all our family and friends out there will be nerve-racking,” admitted Iommi.

“We’ve not felt this nervous at any other gig on the tour.”

They needn’t have worried. Sharon Osbourne, watching from the wings, told them so before they went on. And you don’t mess with Sharon. The X Factor judge, as she will tell you, is rarely wrong.

From the moment the men in black hit stage and launched into War Pigs – recorded all of 43 years ago – the LG Arena erupted. Fans, some of whom had queued since 7.30am to get the best places at the front, embraced their own.

“Let’s go fucking wild!” yelled Ozzy as they followed with Into The Void, telling the Birmingham crowd: “I’ve missed you.”

His voice may be not what it once was but, hell, it didn’t matter. Not here. Not back home.

Under The Sun, with video footage of money-grabbing evangelists, anti-Sabbath protesters in America’s Bible Belt, lesbian nuns and those pictures of the Pope, continued the history lesson. Snowblind, with an Ozzy health warning, was next.

Not that this was a nostalgia exercise. Sabbath sound as powerful and as vital as they have ever done. New song Age Of Reason boasted Iommi’s best guitar yet as Clufetos pounded the drums as hard as the late John Bonham.

“We want to take you back to the very beginning,” Ozzy told the fans. “Can you believe we’ve been going 45 fucking years?”

Cue Black Sabbath, the track that opened their debut album. As the band hit an irresistible groove midway through the song, their frontman poured a bucket of water over a hapless security steward.

“I’m back in fucking Birmingham!” yelled Ozzy, by way of explanation.

Behind The Wall Of Sleep, N.I.B – ushered in by a busy Butler bass solo – End Of The Beginning... they just kept coming. Fairies Wear Boots, with its seductively sinister video, turned full tilt boogie.

Drum solos usually mark the moment you head to the bar or take a comfort break but Clufetos’ Rat Salad showpiece was jaw-dropping. Technically tight but brutally brilliant, the US drummer brought the house down.

Iron Man and God Is Dead? got the moshpit moving. Dirty Women, with its B-movie video backing, isn’t one of the band’s best but surprisingly served up Iommi’s best solo of the night. Children Of The Grave was a climactic closer.

“One more song,” chanted the crowd. “It’s Christmas,” responded Ozzy. “Shall we come back and do it again?” raising hopes that this weekend’s double header may not, after all, be their last hometown gigs.

Encore Paranoid, its razor riff cutting through confetti cannons, and the release of giant balloons, ended a memorable two-hour homecoming.

After the gig Sabbath celebrated with friends including ELO’s Bev Bevan, funnyman Jasper Carrott, Blues legend Trevor Francis, sixties star Dave Berry, family and a pet pooch flown in from LA.

“It’s been a great night,” said Iommi. “We were all pretty nervy about being back in Brum. We wanted it to be special for the fans. D’you think they liked it?”

Silly question. They do it all again at Birmingham’s NIA tomorrow night.


War Pigs
Into The Void
Under The Sun
Age Of Reason
Black Sabbath
Behind The Wall Of Sleep
End Of The Beginning
Fairies Wear Boots
Rat Salad
Iron Man
God Is Dead?
Dirty Women
Children Of The Grave

Friday 22 November 2013

Paul McCartney and Morrissey get PETA stamp of approval

Paul McCartney is going postal – literally.

Just in time for holiday cards in the States, animal rights group PETA has launched a limited-edition sheet of US Postal Service approved stamps honouring celebrated vegetarians.

Macca joins daughter Stella and a host of others including Vivienne Westwood, Morrissey, Alan Cumming, Belinda Carlisle and Joan Jett.

Westwood went vegetarian because the English fashion designer believes that we should “not consume but live in harmony” with the world.

And Stella McCartney – who, like Westwood, refuses to use fur in her designs – credits her father with instilling vegetarian values in her.

“One of the things I was taught growing up was ‘Do unto others as you would have done to yourself’”, she says. “It’s a way of life.”

Manchester’s Morrissey, of course, famously titled The Smiths’ 1985 album Meat Is Murder, and he’s still playing the title track live on tour.

Cumming, who famously blasted fur-wearers from onstage in Cabaret, thinks “killing to make or eat things is horrific”.

“Rotten carcasses don’t feel good inside my body”, the Scottish actor says. “I’ve also seen some horrible documentaries about the hormones and things that go into meat. On a health level, meat is so scary.”

The new stamp sheet is available for purchase at

Thursday 21 November 2013

Motorhead : heart pacemaker Lemmy 'why we had to cancel the tour'

Midland rock wildman Lemmy has had to have a pacemaker fitted because of heart problems – and it could mean the end of the road for his band Mötorhead.

The 67-year-old heavy metal hero from Stoke-on-Trent also suffers from diabetes, and a tour including a stop at Wolverhampton Civic Hall, has had to be cancelled at the last minute.

It is a huge blow for the band, who have just released their 21st studio album, Aftershock, and were being lined up for big festival dates next year in addition to an exhausting four-month tour.

“We have made the decision because I am not quite ready to hit the road yet, and am working my way back to full fitness and rude health,” said Lemmy,

“Don’t worry, I’m not about to start promoting veganism and alcohol-free beverages, but it is fair to say that I personally have been reconfiguring areas of my life to make sure I can come back fitter and stronger than ever.

“It disappointed me tremendously to have to say I wasn’t quite ready to hit the road yet, but not nearly as much as it would’ve disappointed me to go out, play some average shows and watch my health give way long before the tour was over!

“When people come to see a Motörhead tour, they expect a Motörhead show, and that is exactly what you will get as soon as I am fit and ready to rumble.”

Guitarist Phil Campbell revealed that Lemmy’s notorious tough guy image made it hard for him to accept help when he fell ill.

“Lemmy’s continuing health problems have given us no option but to postpone the European tour which was due to start this month,” he said.

“He had a pacemaker fitted earlier in the year because he’d been suffering from irregular heartbeats, and then his diabetes started playing him up.

“The good news is that his ticker’s fine now and he’s made sufficient changes to his lifestyle and diet in order to combat the diabetes.

“It’s just that he felt he wasn’t 100 per cent ready to go back on the road just yet.

“As a result we put the dates back to enable him to build himself back up to full fitness.”

He added that while most fans had come to regard the gravel-throated singer as an unstoppable, hell-raising war horse destined to rock on for ever, he had very different view of the vicar’s son otherwise known as Ian Fraser Kilmister.

“Look, none of us are getting any younger, so Lemmy’s condition didn’t exactly come as a massive shock,” said Campbell, 52. “But the older we get, the more we tend to be there for one another and back each other up.

“The main problem is that he’s displayed such a hard persona all his life that it makes it difficult for him to let people in. He’s like the John Wayne of rock – always wanting to soldier on and handle things on his own, you know?”

Tickets for Motorhead’s November 19 show at the Civic Hall will remain valid once dates are rescheduled in the new year.

Leslie West : Still Climbing

You can’t keep a genuine guitar hero down.

Despite losing most of his right leg in a desperate battle against diabetes, former Mountain mainman Leslie West is still gigging and this is his best album in many years.

Powered by gutsy blues rock but credibly contemporary, Dying Since The Day I Was Born finds him duelling with Alterbridge axeman Mark Tremonti, there’s redneck rock in Hatfield Or McCoy and Long Red, plus classy covers of Feeling Good and When A Man Loves A Woman, the latter with Jonny Lang.

Motorhead : Aftershock review

They may have had to cancel their Wolverhampton Civic Hall gig but there’s no stopping Lemmy & Co on their 21st studio album.

Driving rock guitar riffs, gruff grumbly vocals, speaker-busting bass and an avalanche of drums mean that it’s business as usual.

The likes of Heartbreaker, Coup De Grace and Paralysed sound just like Ace Of Spades in one way or another, while other tracks recall AC/DC and ZZ Top.

There’s nothing new here but diehard fans don’t want progression, just good old-fashioned runaway rock and roll.

Linin Park : Recharged review

Mike Shinoda’s stadium rockers aren’t shy when it comes to pushing the boundaries.

Cue an album of remix reinterpretations of the band’s most recent album Living Things, most of them by artists and DJs from Steve Aoki’s Dim Mak Records stable.

Shinoda’s own remix of Castle Of Glass and Rad Omen’s Roads Untravelled are particularly strong but two versions of A Light That Never Comes – originally unlocked in an Xbox game – steal the show, the first with Aoki and the second a stripped back Rick Rubin reboot.

Not essential but enjoyable all the same. Roll on that Hybrid Theory appearance at Download next year...

Uriah Heep announce intimate club tour for February 2014

Rock legends Uriah Heep have announced a string of low-key dates for early 2014.

The intimate shows are in response to huge demand from Heep’s UK fans following the announcement of the headline spot at “Giants of Rock”, and will also allow the band to enjoy some time away from the studio sessions for their forthcoming album.
There are also plans to record another live album at the end of February.

 2014 is set to be yet another big one for Mick Box and the band as they work on the new material, and of course keep on touring.

Heep have been round the world several times in the last 24 months visiting South Africa, Australia, Asia, North America, South America and East & West Russia – and they’ll play the prestigious Sweden Rock Festival in the Summer.

Here are the 2014 UK dates:
February 4th – The Stables, Milton Keynes

February 6th – Tivoli, Buckley

February 7th – Picturedrome, Holmfirth

February 8th – Robin 2, Bilston

February 9th – Giants of Rock, Minehead

Tuesday 10 September 2013

Avenged Sevenfold : Hail To The King review

They started out as metal heroes but, album by album, A7X have waded out into the mainstream until they’ve emerged dripping hard rock riffs.

So it is that Hail To The King finds the Orange County crew sounding less like themselves and more like the bands who inspired them.

This Means War is a close cousin of Metallica’s Sad But True, and there are more than a few nods to James Hetfield & Co in opener Shepherd Of Fire.

Elsewhere, Doing Time fair reeks of Guns N’Roses. Frontman M Shadows even summons up that trademark Axl whine from time to time.

Requiem, complete with mad monks (every metal album should have one, just ask Spinal Tap) is a Sabbath tribute and Coming Home old school Iron Maiden.

But, d’you know, they still rock.

It’s a great album to play in the car and crank up the volume. Sort of singalongamax volume.

The guitar shredding may have been toned down, the anger mellowed – finalé Acid Rain is a power ballad, for goodness’ sake – but Hail To The King still motors.

Perhaps that’s why it beat Naughty Boy and Ellie Goulding to the top of the UK album chart.

And certainly A7X axeman Zacky Vengeance (naff name, sorry) is happy.

“It has been a hell of a ride thus* far,” he says. “Having our first No 1 album in the UK is a monumental achievement for our fans and us.

“I remember playing the 100 Club to prove to our fans that we were willing to start from the ground up again to earn your respect.

“Thank you for putting heavy metal back on the throne. We look forward to growing old with you.”

Avenged Sevenfold play UK dates at London’s Wembley Arena (December 1), The 02 in Dublin (December 3) and Birmingham’s LG Arena (December 5).

* Note: ‘Thus’ isn’t very rock and roll, mate.

Wednesday 4 September 2013

Dream Theater legend Mike Portnoy back with three new albums including classic rock trio Winery Dogs

You can’t keep a good man down.

Even if he’s just the drummer.

Prog-rock virtuoso Mike Portnoy appears on not just one, not only two but THREE albums that have just been released.

First up he’s the driving force in The Winery Dogs, whose unashamed classic rock is winning rave reviews on both sides of the Atlantic.

The eponymous debut finds Portnoy reunited with longtime pal, bassist Billy Sheehan – and the power trio completed by sometime Poison axeman Richie Kotzen.

If you’ve been missing Audioslave since the supergroup went its separate ways, then The Winery Dogs fill that excess all areas gap.

Monster riffs? [Check].

Bombshell bass? [Check].

Levee-breaking drums? [Check].

Gravel grunge vocals? [Check].

Prepare for lift-off.

It’s old school rock from around the turn of the 70s, far removed from the guys’ usual virtuoso volley of notes and tricksy time changes.

Best are bass-driven We Are One, the slash and burn guitar of Desire, and One More Time, which could be a Skynyrd song.

Says Portnoy: “It’s very exciting for me to be in a solid rock trio. The bulk of my career has been spent playing progressive music, and this was an opportunity for me to do something more in the classic rock mould.

“At the end of the day, that’s what I grew up with, and that’s the biggest influence in my life.

“I’m just as at home playing on a four-piece kit doing a simple John Bonham groove as I am playing complex tempos on a giant kit. And that’s been a great breath of fresh air for me.

“This is a band in the true sense of the word. We were in the same room making music together. It wasn’t one of those ‘done by e-mail’ albums.”

Don’t get the idea, however, that Portnoy has turned his back on prog-rock.

He also appears on Live In Tokyo, a new double-CD by supergroup Portnoy, Sheehan, MacAlpine Sherinian.

Yes, it’s that Portnoy-Sheehan old pals act again, this time bolstered by Black Country Communion keyboardsman Sherinian and fusion guitarist extraordinaire MacAlpine.

The 15-song set draws on the back catalogues of each member, together with a cover of Billy Cobham’s barnstormer Stratus. Fans of Portnoy’s old band Dream Theater will lap up Acid Rain.

Last, but not least, Portnoy drums up a storm on the Flying Colors Live In Europe album, recorded last year.

This time he’s joined by Steve Morse, David Larue, Neal Morse and Casey McPherson for a setlist including back catalogue classics such as Dream Theater’s Repentance, Spock’s Beard hallmark June and a cover of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah.
Portnoy has won 26 awards from the Modern Drummer magazine, and remains he second youngest person (after Rush legend Neil Peart) to be inducted into the Modern Drummer’s Hall of Fame.

In September 2010, he announced that he had left Dream Theater after 25 years, and was replaced by Mike Mangini.

And did I mention that there’s a new eponymous Dream Theater album imminent, too?

It’s a wonder that Mike Portnoy’s not guesting on that one, too...

Tuesday 3 September 2013

The Rides : Can't Get Enough review and studio video from Stephen Stills supergroup

It’s like TV’s New Tricks, with veterans being dragged out of retirement to shed new light on cold guitar cases.

CSNY legend Stephen Stills, Electric Flag’s Barry Goldberg and relatively young blues guitar gunslinger Kenny Wayne Shepherd rock out on self-penned Mississippi Road House and unlikely covers of old mate Neil Young’s Rockin’ In The Free World and The Stooges’ Seek And Destroy.

When they rock, there’s enough edge to keep things credible and, hell, they sound like they’re having a great time.

It’s when they slow down that, although the musicianship is impeccable, things start to get staid, showing their age.

Tuesday 20 August 2013

Linkin Park team up with Hard Rock to power the world with exclusive t-shirts

Linkin Park and Hard Rock International today announced the launch of limited-edition Linkin Park Signature Series: Edition 31 T-shirts, benefiting Music for Relief and its Power the World initiative.

These special-edition t-shirts, designed by Linkin Park’s Mike Shinoda, will be available for a limited time only from Hard Rock locations all over the world this month, and available from the Rock Shops at Hard Rock Cafe London, Manchester and Edinburgh from August 23, priced £20.45.

The exclusive t-shirts, a partnership between the Linkin Park, the US Grammy-Award winning band and Hard Rock International, world-renowned entertainment and lifestyle brand, includes a men’s and women’s t-shirt.

A portion of the retail price from sales of Hard Rock’s  Linkin Park Signature Series: Edition 31 T-shirt  will benefit Music for Relief, a non-profit organisation founded by Linkin Park, and its Power the World campaign.

“The most exciting part of our partnership with Hard Rock is that it helps people,” says Linkin Park’s Mike Shinoda.  “There are people in the world who cook dinner over fires and people who have to perform emergency surgery at night via candlelight.

“The proceeds of these shirts will buy clean-energy cook stoves for families who only have access to dirty cooking materials which are bad for the environment and bad for their health. It will buy ‘solar suitcases’ to power things like hospital lights and medical devices in remote areas of the world without energy access.

“By dedicating funds to Music for Relief, this Hard Rock t-shirt project promotes sustainable energy awareness and helps people who need it.”

 Worldwide more than one billion people have no access to electricity, compromising health, education, safety and livelihoods. Linkin Park and Music for Relief launched Power the World to raise awareness about what it means to live without energy access and to highlight innovative clean energy solutions. Visit for additional details.

Hard Rock’s Linkin Park Signature Series: Edition 31 T-shirts will also be available online at and at Hard Rock Cafe, Hotel and Casino locations worldwide.

Friday 16 August 2013

Travis : Where You Stand review

Travis have faced an uphill battle ever since 1999 sophomore set The Man Who yielded so many memorable hit singles.

Why Does It Always Rain On Me, Writing To Reach You, Driftwood and Turn were among the most played songs on radio for what seemed an enternity.

How d'you follow success like that? Most often, you don't.

Since then they’ve been lacklustre and after their sixth album five years ago, they shut up shop.

Clearly, the rest has done them good because this is their best outing since their heyday, full of barbed pop hooks and musical ambition.

Best are Moving, despite its similarity to Killers anthem All These Things That I’ve Done, and Mother in which Fran Healy aptly sings: ”Why did we wait so long?"

He reprises time and again the old trick of taking a memorable phrase and repeating it until it's in danger of outlasting its welcome, but always stops shy of being shown the door.

Recorded across London, Norway, New York and Berlin's legendary Hansa Studios, it's at times pleasantly predictable.

But A Different Room adds Bowie-styled synthesisers, New Shoes treads on New Age beats and pop syncopation, and Where You Stand is a Coldplay clone.

No dizzy heights , then, but a high step back on the ladder. Good to have you back, guys.

Tierra Blanca : Shadowlands review

Somewhere over the pond Robert Rodriguez is soundtracking his latest movie.

He need look no further than Shadowlands, an album packed with moody wild western rock and stroll but, bizarrely enough, made by Brits.

John McKeown’s band serves up a Tex-Mex tapas of self-penned songs that recalls Rodriguez favourites Tito & Tarantula, as highlighted by the title track.

Both Beautiful Eyes and Only Love are dusty south of the border gems. Sex And Cash, meanwhile, finds the band moving up through the gears.

Unlikely covers include Prince’s When Doves Cry, Patti Smith’s Dancing Barefoot, Neil Young’s Only Love Can Break Your Heart and Scott Walker's The Electrician.

But then there's a surprisingly good take on David Essex hit Rock On, all stick drums and south of the border guitar. It really shouldn't work - but it does.

This could be the year's hidden treasure. Go search it out today.

Friday 2 August 2013

Martin Simpson : Vagrant Stanzas

Folk singer-songwriter and virtuoso guitarist Simpson strips everything back to the basics, singing live accompanied just by close-miked guitar or banjo, and it’s spellbinding.

Whether putting his stamp on Bob Dylan’s North Country Blues or telling the poignant story of forgotten war medic Jack Kirkpatrick in self-penned Jackie And Murphy, he is in fine form.

An unexpected highlight is the instrumental Civil War memorial Blue Eyed Boston Boy, played unusually on electric guitar.

The Lone Ranger - Wanted : review

Every big movie boasts two albums these days – one the original soundtrack and the other a collection of music ‘inspired by’ the film.

In the case of The Lone Ranger, saddle up for the latter, a rootsy set of Americana boasting some of the genre’s best exponents, among them Grace Potter & The Nocturnals, Iron & Wire and The Rubens.

Best are Lucinda Williams’ Everything But The Truth, John Grant’s sublime Saddle The Wind and The White Buffalo’s American Dream.

Great album. Hi-ho Silver, away...

The Civil Wars : The Civil Wars review

Written and recorded even as they were falling apart at the seams, Joy Williams and John Paul White’s second album bristles with discord in contrast to dewy-eyed debut Barton Hollow.

Surprisingly, it’s better for that.

Although Williams rarely sounded sweeter on the likes of Tell Mama, Sacred Heart and Devil’s Backbone, it’s the sputtering guitar growl of I Had Me A Girl – a raucous Jack White-style country blues – that steals the sophomore show, along with the Damien Rice-like Eavesdrop.

If this is the swansong, it’s a bittersweet parting.

Wednesday 24 July 2013

The Staves : UK Winter tour dates announced

The Staves have announced a long-awaited UK winter tour.

The band head out on a seven-date tour in late October and November, which includes their previously announced London show at the Shepherds Bush Empire on November 4.

The tour commences at The Queen’s Hall in Edinburgh on October 30, and concludes at The Waterfront in Norwich on November 6.

Tickets for all regional shows go on sale through at 9am on Friday July 26. Tickets are priced £12.50 (except London/Manchester £14 and Brighton £13).

Following a trio of appearances at this year’s Glastonbury Festival, The Staves continue their summer of shows at Secret Garden Party and the Cambridge Folk Festival in July, ahead of a string of European festival dates.

The band return to the UK to play Beautiful Days Festival, Snape Proms, Summer Camp Festival, Bangor Abbey, Moseley Folk Festival, End of the Road, and Festival No. 6 to round off the summer.

A repackaged version of The Staves’ acclaimed debut album, Dead & Born & Grown & Live, is out now, featuring the original album and a bonus 5-track live CD of recordings taken from the band’s sold-out London Scala shows earlier this year.

Here are the tour dates

26th July                              Secret Garden Party, Cambridgeshire

28th July                              Cambridge Folk Festival

17th August                        Beautiful Days Festival, Devon

23rd August                        Snape Proms, Suffolk

24th August                        Summer Camp Festival, Liverpool

30th August                        Bangor Abbey, Belfast

31st August                        Moseley Folk Festival

1st September                  End of the Road Festival, Dorset

15th September               Festival No. 6, Portmeirion


6th September                 Trades Club, Hebden Bridge

7th September                 Oran Mor, Glasgow

9th September                 Roisin Dubh, Galway

11th September               The Set Theatre, Kilkenny

12th September               Pepper Canister, Dublin

13th September               Pepper Canister, Dublin

30th October                     The Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh

31st October                      The Glee Club, Nottingham

1st November                   The Trinity Centre, Bristol

2nd November                 RNCM, Manchester

4th November                  Shepherds Bush Empire, London

5th November                  St. George’s Hall, Brighton

6th November                  The Waterfront, Norwich