Saturday, 28 April 2012

The Doors Alive

27/04/2012 @ the Bloomsbury Bowling Lanes / Kill Your Idols

Now I know what you’re thinking; “A review of a tribute band on a blog about new music? I’m off”, but hear me out on this. I have no time for bands offering sub-karaoke versions of acts that are still touring (aMUSEd, I am looking at you) but this is something very different. What the Doors Alive offer is the closest thing you will get to experiencing the real sound of the Doors in the 21st century. In fact, at times during their set, I revelled in closing my eyes and just letting the sound wash over me. Willie Scott has perfected every drawled note, every soul-bearing scream and every nonchalant hip sway to make you question whether Jim Morrison visited Scott’s native Scotland once and sired a secret love child. Christian Cornejo fingers worked twin organs like greased lightening – every bit as dextrous and fluid as Manzarek ever was. On guitar, Baz Meyer has every flick, screech and chugging riff down to such natural perfection that you could believe he wrote the songs himself. And keeping everything from falling in to chaos is Buzz Allan squeezing every possible tone and rhythm out of simple but beautiful vintage kit.

Tonight, the audience at the Bloomsbury Bowling Lanes are treated to all the favourites performed with tightness and sexiness rivalled only by the singer’s leather trousers. Scott’s banter with the audience is delivered on the fine line between arrogance and rock’n’roll swagger and the audience lap up every last drop. Admirably, Scott leaves the stage mid song at one point to let the rest of the band show their skills and they rise to the challenge with solos that teeter on the edge of Jazz noodling without ever loosening their grip on the attention of the crowd. The cherry on the icing on the cake comes when two American ‘cops’ storm the stage to arrest Morrison in a re-enactment of the now infamous New Haven incident of 1967.

So my point is this: I was aware of the Doors but only experiencing their music in recorded form had never really inspired me. Now that I have heard them performed live to an adoring audience and small and sweaty venue I think I get it. This is what a good tribute band can do for your musical knowledge and so they are not an entirely redundant idea. And let’s face it, it’s got to be better than watching a hologram of Tupac and paying the price of a car for the privilege! 

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Roland Recommends #1

Crazy Arm 


Plymouth, Devon


Jon Dailey – Guitar & Bass
Darren Johns – Vocals & Guitar
Simon Marsh – Drums
Tim Rowing-Parker – Bass & Vocals
Vicky Butterfield – Vocals
Patrick James Pearson – Keys & Fiddle

Because they care. Alot. There is no doubting the fact that these Westcountry roots-rockers are politicized but rather than blindly raging against the machine like so many also-rans, Crazy Arm write insightful, informed and influential songs that could rouse even the most dormant mind. Songs such as ‘Song of Choice’ and ‘Tribes’ are unashamedly and squarely directed at highlighting the most troubling elements of society (i.e. the BNP, English Defence League, corrupt organisations and individuals as well as, most importantly, those who turn a blind eye to the former). The most outstanding thing about Crazy Arm, though, is that even if you took away the excellent lyrical content and replaced it with a series of grunts and whistles, the tunes would still grab you by the scruff of your neck and slap you around the face. In fact, they may only be two albums in to their career (2009s Born To Ruin and the excellent follow up Union City Breath, both on XL Recordings) but Crazy Arm have already amassed a bucket full of songs that could be future classics. Stylistically they range from rhythmic roots-folk that wouldn’t be out of place in a smokey country pub on a cold winter’s night to furious and hectic punk-rock belters that would tempt you in to sweaty tent at Reading Festival and spit you out again feeling delirious but alive. This is music for thinkers for sure but more importantly this is music for doers. Everything about this band is urgent and to the point like they have a message for the world and they need to get that message across now. I suggest you listen. And listen good.

Either of the bands albums will be a great addition to your collection but if you’re looking for specific tracks then I recommend ‘Charnel House Blues’ from the Union City Breath album for the more folky end of the band’s spectrum. For the harder, heavier end of things then you can go wrong with latest album opener ‘Of The Tarantulas’, the driving bass, intricate guitar work pounding drums will have you hooked by the time the vocals come in.

Crazy Arm were one of many bands on independent labels to have their physical album releases destroyed in last summer’s riots but you can now get your hands on the Union City Breath CD which, refreshingly, comes with full lyrics and brief background information on the songs. However, the best way to experience this Devonian sextet is to see and hear them in the live arena and, as luck would have it, they are about to embark on a short tour. So, get yourselves to any of the following;

19.04.12 – The Unit, Southampton
20.04.12 – Harry’s Bar, Stoke
21.04.12 – The Cockpit 3, Leeds
22.04.12 – Hit The Deck @ The Forum, Nottingham
23.04.12 – Single Launch @ The Old Blue Last, London (Free show)