‘Rock’ Singles Club – November 2016

by / December 4, 2016

Having indulged myself by using the word ‘smorgasbord’ repeatedly in the October issue of Singles Club, I thought to myself ‘how much more self-indulgent could I be with my column?’ Then it came to me, I had to go from the myriad styles of music I reviewed last month to reviewing just one style of music. And, me being me, it was never going to be ambient dance music, now was it?  No. If I was ever going to do a mono-themed Singles Club, it was going to be Rock music – but this would only work if there were indeed enough quality singles/videos released all in a certain window of time. The perfect storm if you will. Well, the moon is high, the winds are strong and this boat is going down with all hands (though I am no George Clooney).

Gasoline Outlaws – ‘Breathe Again’

Boom! What a start! With a mean and moody opening riff from Adam Parkin, who is slowly-but-surely showing himself to be one of NI’s finest riffmeisters, this track smolders before igniting into a monstrous slab of heavy rock – like a cigarette lighter dropped into a trail of, dare I say it, gasoline? The Gasoline Outlaws are back and showing that their solid eponymous debut album was no fluke, that they have indeed got more in the tank (ok, enough with the gasoline puns). Everything is pointing to a quality sophomore release from this hard rockin’, hard workin’ four piece. I’ll keep you posted.

Maverick – ‘Whiskey Lover’

The buzz about Maverick was massive, almost right from its first few gigs and the ‘Talk’s Cheap’ E.P. I must admit I didn’t join in with the buzz – I could see potential but I felt it was too early to label (and burden) the band with too many superlatives too soon. I am not saying anything I haven’t said openly to Dave (Balfour) and the boys. And, I am glad I did what I did. Those who jumped on the Maverick bandwagon earlier than me, can say that they saw what I didn’t, so what do I know about anything? But I am happy that I can reserve my superlatives until now. I don’t really flatter myself that any previous lukewarm or underwhelming reviews they may have got from me is what pushed them to work as hard as they clearly have worked on all aspects of their craft. Nope, they always impressed me with their work rate, their hunger and, not to be underestimated, their ability to network (an oft-overlooked quality in terms of self-promotion). But now, I am impressed by the quality of their output as a band – the song-writing, the delivery, the production. Their style will never be my favourite style within the overall Heavy Rock genre, but what cannot be denied is that they are fast-becoming the top exponents of that style for this generation, nationally and internationally and they are one of only a handful of bands who can pack out a local venue – often moreso than a visiting ‘name’ band from overseas. The world is becoming their oyster.

Irontown Diehards – ‘Long Road Home’

While Maverick had to work hard for my praise, I have heaped praise on Irontown Diehards from my first view and listen. But, conversely, this meant the band had to live up to that first flush of enthusiasm I had for them. Thankfully, their debut album did not make a fool of me – the opposite in fact – it made me full of admiration for a band that took a concept and a sound, ran with it and really turned it into something special – and got it recorded as it should be. I have almost no criticisms of what the band has done up to this point. But, in the sake of fairness, let me venture the following opinions. Firstly, I wouldn’t have picked ‘Long Road Home’ as the third single. It’s not that it is a bad song, it’s a cracking romp of a song. It’s not that it isn’t representative of the band’s sound and image – it is. Irontown Diehards is an adult band that write about adult things, I get that. I just think that the lads could have chosen a different song that showed off a different side to the band i.e. ‘Blood on the Horizon’. Also, while all of their videos to this point are as slick as any video you will see – and ‘Long Road Home’ is no different (including the wonderful ‘Day of the Dead’ make up) – taken together the three videos up to now are all quite, well, sleazy. And, while I like a bit of sleaze as much as the next man, I think it portrays the band in a slightly shallow manner. And this isn’t just my opinion, it is shared by someone I know who has seen both sides of the business and expressed exactly that thought, without any prompting on my part, when I showed him the band’s material. It’s just something for the guys to think about for next time.

Trucker Diablo – ‘Fighting For Everything’

I make no apologies for including this song in my special Rock Singles Club despite it being featured elsewhere on the site because, frankly, Co. Armagh noise merchants, Trucker Diablo are such a large and venerated part of the local rock scene – they deserve whatever exposure and support we can give them. And, well, we nearly lost them a couple of years back when they took an indefinite break. Like most bands, they have to (as the song title suggests) fight for everything they get and rely on the loyalty of supporters to keep allowing them to do what they do. They returned largely due to the help of a very well supported pledge campaign which funded the excellent ‘comeback’ album, ‘Rise Above the Noise’, and now they are using this video to kick off their new pledge campaign which can be found at http://www.pledgemusic.com/projects/truckerdiablo-ffe . If the new album is anything like as good as ‘Rise Above…’ was and ‘Fighting For Everything’ suggests, then it should be money well spent. And yes, I have pledged.

Rollin’ Empire – ‘Nothing to Lose’

I am making no apologies either for including R.O.I’s Rollin’ Empire in this Singles Club ‘Rock Special’ – my column, my rules after all. For me Rock music should embrace all its sub-genres and not exclude them because, bottom line is that we all share the common love of guitar-based music as opposed to music made by machines. Petty squabbles and in-fighting serves no purpose. I see no reason that Queens of the Stone Age can’t sit beside Van Halen in my record collection (except that Q isn’t beside V in the alphabet), or that I can’t like Royal Blood if I like AC/DC, or Kasabian if I like Black Sabbath. I mention QOTSA, Royal Blood and Kasabian in particular because those 3 bands clearly influence Rollin’ Empire – especially with that distorted bass guitar sound they have, sitting front and center in the mix. Sure, it won’t be for some Hard Rock or Metal purists, but it’s good enough for me and my Rock classification. And you have to love their cheeky homage to Beastie Boys’ ‘Sabotage’ video. Good stuff lads. Rollin’ Empire’s debut album, ‘Nowhere To Run’, is available now on itunes.

So that’s your lot for this special Rock edition of Singles Club. Normal service will resume shortly….

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