Monday, December 22, 2008

Big coffins and hard pops

BIG COFFIN HUNTERS – “Drive Another Nail” CD ’08 (Private, US) – BIG COFFIN HUNTERS are from Maine. That is a very good sign. Heretic’s Fork is from Maine and they crush. Ogre is from Maine and they slay. To further spread the tendrils of connectivity here, BCH know Ogre, and the latter’s Will Broadbent did some fine artwork inside this CD’s sleeve. As a final piece of the back-drop, BCH did an EP in 2006 that ruled. But let’s stop all this pussy-footing around, shall we? None of that makes this disc any good. What does make “Drive Another Nail” good is the fact that these 4 guys lay down the business here. Sure, there are reminders of metal from the past, echoes of Maiden, aspects of Kyuss and even hints of the better part of modern acts like QOTSA. But, the thing that makes BIG COFFIN HUNTERS stand out for me is a sometime fleeting, hard-to-pinpoint quirk in the songwriting. Oddly, while they don’t have a very similar style at all, this idea of injecting little parts, unexpected chords & such things in songs often calls to mind one of my fave NWOBHM bands, Legend. Now while I’ll be careful in pointing out that this record is not “Death In The Nursery” (what is?!), it is also very clearly the work of an excellent metal band who write & play in a manner that says “we want to be remembered.” In short, an excellent release, one that bodes well for the future and one that comes recommended to most readers of this site. A Mack Truck Of Pine Boxes

TOWERS OF LONDON – “Fizzy Pop” CD ’08 (Vibrant, Eng) – I really dug TOWERS OF LONDON’s first effort, “Blood, Sweat & Towers” back in 2006. It was a way-cool slab of British punk rawk laced with a Pistols feel and enough of a dash of pop to send songs like “Air Guitar,” “On A Noose” and “How Rude She Was” deep into my mind. Hell, even the unapologetically titled “Fuck It Up” was present in both a rawkin’ and wooden version, lending credence to the theory that you can be snotty and hook-laden at the same time. I’ll admit that it sure as hell caught my eye when I read quite some time after that record’s release that the band were parting ways with not only their drummer, but one of the guitarists. I mean, hey, not to minimize the contributions of sticksmen, but let’s face it, Judas Priest & Budgie made an-album-to-album habit out of that in their early days and the quality never dipped. Guitarists, on the other hand, even in a 2-axe lineup are often part of a more tricky equation. Anybody doubting that need look no further than Thin Lizzy’s ill-advised attempt to stick bluesman Snowy White in the Robbo/Moore slot for “Chinatown” & “Renegade.” Umm….ouch. Anyway, it was with some trepidation then, that I approached TOL’s new “Fizzy Pop” disc. Still, pop it in the player I did. What I found is a band who have, yes, re-invented themselves and yet done so with such fun, such panache that the results are scintillating. Is “Fizzy Pop” more polished than “BS&T?” Sure it is. Is it better-produced and in a clearly more pop direction? Yup. Is it great? Oh, yeah! What TOWERS OF LONDON (Donny Tourette – singer, Dirk Tourette – guitar, Tommy De’ath – bass, Ben Henshall – drums, James Phillips – guitar) have done is to move forward without forgetting the past and, in doing so, make themselves even better. To be honest, what I like so much about this record is that there’s less Pistols here and more fucking TOWERS OF LONDON! A pretty wide brush-stroke, sure “Naked On The Dance Floor” has a pop sheen to die for but when the guitar solo kicks in on “Go Sister Go,” you’re thinking that Best Buy should probably choke on all those copies of “The Chinese Dildo.” The na-na’s and sing-a-long parts in “Time Is Running Out” and “Queen Of Cool” are as infectious as a five year old smearing his snot-covered fingers on a countertop, the old-style Slash/Keef guitars in “Avaline” crank & whine and “Beach Bar” is as camp, silly and rawk & roll pawty time as it gets. It's all tied together nicely with the acoustic “New Skin” (complete with “wah-wah” backing vox), a worthy, although stand-alone successor to “Fuck It Up.” “Fizzy Pop” may not be designed to change the world, but then again, neither was “Appetite For Destruction.” A Big Hard Stiff Fizzy Pop

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