Category Archives: Music reviews

Review: Wayward Sons, ‘The Truth Ain’t What It Used To Be’

Anyone who is old enough to have thrived on the nineties rock music scene will remember the Little Angels and also the bouncing vocals (and curls) of frontman Toby Jepson.  If you hadn’t been following Toby’s career, you might be forgiven for thinking that this is his first project in a long time, but you would be sorely mistaken.  Our Toby has been a busy bee over the years, fully utilising his songwriting and production talents for some high profile names, but if the last couple of years with Wayward Sons are anything to go by, clearly his heart lies in performing with a band on a live stage.

Wayward Sons album cover

The Sons’ burst onto the scene in 2017, with the critically acclaimed debut album, ‘Ghosts of Yet To Come’; featuring top class musicians from bands such as Chrome Molly, Gun and of course, Little Angels, the band quickly ascended the rock ranks as a well-respected outfit, winning the accolade of ‘Best New Band’ at the esteemed Planet Rock Awards in 2018.  They toured the ‘Ghosts’ album extensively, with a mixture of headline and support gigs and also several festival appearances, including Winter’s End, Ramblin’ Man and Stonedeaf.  Now, the eagerly awaited second album is finally upon us; released last Friday, ‘The Truth Ain’t What It Used To Be’ is described as, “Hard rock, but mixed with a vitality and energy – both musically and lyrically”.

Comprised of twelve tracks (plus a little hidden treat at the end), this album is not just a random collection of songs.  It is common knowledge that Jepson counts Freddie Mercury’s Queen as perhaps his highest influence, as well as admiring the storytelling mastery of other greats such as Elvis Costello and David Bowie.  It therefore comes as no surprise that the record has been loosely billed as a ‘concept’ album, having a ‘narrative thread’ connecting the twelve tracks.  A description on the band’s Facebook page says it is, “A ‘protest’ record and [Toby] describes the new materials as ‘political’, but not of the sort that seeks to hammer the message home, more of a reflection of his take on where the world and we are.”

WS band pic

So far, so good, but are the songs any good?  When I first listen to an album, I try and wipe my mind of anything that has gone before it, because sometimes second albums can be notoriously disappointing.  I like to take each record as it comes and this … well, it appears that this is a belter.  From the guitar picking introduction and pure spine tingling melody of Toby’s vocals (which are still as good today as they were twenty odd years ago), opener ‘Any Other Way’, is a rousing, fresh romp of a track that really does set the scene for what follows.  Listen carefully for the sweet harmonies on the unrelenting ‘Black As Sin’ and the twinkly piano sound on new single, ‘The Joke’s On You’, which carries a slightly more relaxed tempo and (I might be mistaken) also features a cheeky bit of cowbell.

I liked the meandering tempo on ‘Little White Lies’; it’s also very clear to see those main influences coming into play, particularly with the vocal effects and in the guitar sound and solo.  I also particularly liked the showcasing of Toby’s voice on the frenetic (and ironic) ‘Feel Good Hit’.

Fade Away’ features some rather beautiful piano on the intro (and again, it’s great to hear that mellifluous voice with no musical distraction), before exploding into a Bowie-esque, soaring, glorious wall of sound; again the Queen influence comes into play towards the end of the song.

The title track is a solid, chugging and bouncy anthem; thanks Toby, for that particular ear worm, I couldn’t get it out of my head for hours.  The pace cranks up yet again with next track, ‘Punchline’, which features a wicked, tight solo near the end.

I have many favourite tracks on this album, but ‘Totally Screwed’, the hidden, final track resonated with me on many levels; I liked the pacy, punky feel to the song and also identified with the lyrics; if you know me, you’ll understand why I say that when you listen to it!

The lyrical and musical progression of the band is clearly in evidence on album number two, which is a more confident and settled effort than the debut; whilst the style is still clearly owned by Jepson and the Wayward Sons, there is more artistic expression and exploration of musical style here, than there was on ‘Ghosts’.  There is also a very clear nod to the music of Jepson’s heroes, with a classic sound coming through that is unmistakable in its influence.  The PR blurb puts it beautifully, describing this album as, “Passionate, honest music made by passionate, honest musicians who have come together to create rock music that reflects their heroes from the ‘70s and ‘80’s – modernity through homage, that’s Wayward Sons.”  I couldn’t have put it better myself and I couldn’t agree more.  This album is a valuable addition to any self respecting music fan’s collection and I can’t help thinking that “The Truth Ain’t What It Used To Be” is going to be a runaway success; it’s certainly in my top five albums of the year.

Be sure to catch Wayward Sons on a live stage near you, in support of Black Star Riders; I’ve seen them a few times now and their energetic live performances totally bring their already technicolour songs into even brighter focus.

Track Listing –

  1. Any Other Way
  2. As Black As Sin
  3. Joke’s On You
  4. Little White Lies
  5. Feel Good Hit
  6. Fade Away
  7. Have It Your Own Way
  8. Long Line Of Pretenders
  9. (If Only) God Was Real
  10. The Truth Ain’t What It Used To Be
  11. Punchline
  12. Us Against The World 

VINYL ALERT!!!!   There will be a limited orange vinyl available from the band’s store: http://store.waywardsonsband.com/ and the label’s U.S. and EU stores: http://radi.al/FrontiersMusic

Wayward Sons are –

  • Toby Jepson – Vocals/Guitar
  • Nic Wastell – Bass
  • Phil Martini – Drums
  • Sam Wood – Guitar
  • Dave Kemp – Keyboards

‘The Truth Ain’t What It Used To Be’ (released 11 October 2019 on Frontiers Music s.r.l)

  • Queen of Rock rating – 8.5/10
  • Stand out tracks –Any Other Way’, ‘Black As Sin’, ‘Joke’s On You’, ‘Fade Away’ and  ‘The Truth Ain’t What It Used To Be’

Four part video ‘story’ –

Socials –

 

All text is the property of Vikkie Richmond, a.k.a Queen of Rock.  No part of this review must be reproduced, either in part or in full, without the express and explicit permission to do so.  Failure to observe this will result in a report to the relevant authorities for breach of intellectual property rights.

 

News – Hawxx release new single, ‘You’re No God’

Hawxx logo

London rockers Hawxx have unleashed their new single, ‘You’re No God’.  According to the band on their Facebook page, the song, “… is a song for survivors. Survivors of abuse, survivors of addiction, survivors of illness and more. It’s a song of empowerment for those who have spoken out and those who are still silent. For those who have overcome and those who are still fighting. We want to use ‘You’re No God‘ as a mantra and as a song to celebrate our resilience and our power. And say ‘FUCK YOU’ to anyone or anything that has tried to control us or make us feel small.”  I say ‘Amen’ to that.

Hawxx youre no god

The song itself features an infectious bass line and some cheeky riffs, along with the trademark sweet vocal harmonies that we’ve come to expect – it’s an absolute belter.  The chorus soars with guitars and then the beat slows down, giving a menacing feel with the repeating vocal of the song title, before exploding back into a wall of sound.  The track does end rather abruptly; just like that it’s finished.  You almost feel a little bit cheated because you want to keep listening.

Hawxx don’t do girly and fluffy; what they DO do is attitude by the bucket load, mixed with a healthy dollop of raw talent and some great lyrical ability.  I said before they were ones to watch but now they are steadily ascending up the rock ladder, with their songs being picked up by both BBC Introducing and Planet Rock radio shows.

Hawxx band pic 2

You can catch Hawxx at their upcoming gigs which can be found on their Facebook page – give them a like whilst you’re there.  Rumour has it that an album may not be far away … for news, keep watching my site like a hawk!  See what I did there?  Oh, okay, I’ll get my coat.

(You can find the interview that I did with Hawxx a little while back here)

Listen to ‘You’re No God’ here

 

All text is the property of Vikkie Richmond, a.k.a Queen of Rock.  No part of this review must be reproduced, either in part or in full, without the express and explicit permission to do so.  Failure to observe this will result in a report to the relevant authorities for breach of intellectual property rights.

 

 

 

Review – Matt Mitchell and The Coldhearts

MM&TC album cover

Well, it’s always better late than never and although I’m a somewhat tardy arrival to this particular party, this album has been on repeat ever since I received it.

You may know British singer and guitar player Matt Mitchell’s name from the ashes of bands such as Pride, Furyon and Colour of Noise; this solo project is the latest weapon in Matt’s armory to continue a steady trajectory to the rock and roll hall of fame. Due out at the end of this month, the eponymously titled debut has had an army of support from the likes of Planet Rock, who took ‘Black Diamonds‘ to their hearts for their ‘A’ playlist on heavy rotation.

That song is the first of twelve on the album and it started off with a sexy little lick, a strong, rhythmic beat and some cowbell; couple that with some sweet, gravelly vocals and a bluesy, classic rock feel and you have a winning formula for a banging track.

Third track, ‘On and On’, felt a little bit more pop rock to me than other tracks on the album, but I liked the easy flow to the song and the vocal harmonies deployed on the chorus.  In fact, quite a few of the tracks on the album were more pop rock/indie than bluesy rock; not usually my sort of genre, really, but I liked Matt’s unpretentious vocals and dare I say it, the easy listening quality.  The vocals are interesting, the melodies are striking and it has that sort of quality to it that, when you’re listening, you feel like you’re part of something bigger, that you could go anywhere and do anything you want to – that’s hard to explain, but certain songs and albums have that effect on me.

MM&TC Matt pic

Tracks such as ‘Unavailable‘ and ‘Do You Wanna Be My God‘ had a compelling, bouncy time signature to them and the big choruses will have you up and dancing around.  Equally, the more chilled out tracks were uplifting, such as the laid back ‘Old Enough and Ugly Enough’ and ‘Keep Me Safe’.

This is the sort of album that you can put on to get ready to go out, or to end a great night out, or to have a chilled out night at home.  It’s versatile, professional and a bit of a triumph.  The production is spot on, as you would expect, being recorded at Rockfield’s Quadrangle Studio with Nick Brine (Stereophonics, The Darkness and Thunder) at the helm. Matt writes songs about everyday life and sometimes, “Just for the love of rock and roll.” I can’t argue with that.

I really enjoyed listening to this album; it’s a great debut and I would thoroughly recommend that you give it a go.  Let me know what you think!

You can catch Matt Mitchell and the Coldhearts live: –

  • May 11 – Corporation, Sheffield – supporting Cats In Space
  • May 24 – O2 Academy, Islington – supporting Hollowstar
  • May 31 – Star and Garter, Manchester – supporting Hollowstar
  • June 3 – Cambridge Junction – supporting Hollowstar
  • December 6 – Trecco Bay, Wales – Planet Rockstock

Track listing: –

1. Black Diamonds
2. Home
3. On & On
4. Dare You To Watch
5. Kings & Queens
6. Unavailable
7. Do You Wanna Be My God
8. Old Enough & Ugly Enough
9. Wave Goodbye
10. Everything To You
11. Keep Me Safe
12. Waiting For The Sun

Released on 31 May via MMRecording Works – you can pre-order the album and merch here

Matt Mitchell and The Coldhearts: –

  • Matt Mitchell – vocals and guitars
  • Mauro Laconi – guitars
  • Dom Ladd – bass
  • Matt Cherry – drums
  • Stevie Watts – keys
  • Queen of Rock rating – 8.5 / 10
  • Stand out tracks – Black Diamonds; Dare You To Watch; Kings and Queens; Keep Me Safe
All text is the property of Vikkie Richmond, a.k.a Queen of Rock.  No part of this review must be reproduced, either in part or in full, without the explicit permission to do so. Failure to observe this will result in a report to the relevant authorities for breach of intellectual property rights.