ayholev1tmbThe Winstons – The Winstons

Psychedelic prog-rockers, the Winstons, play some cool 60’s throwback stuff. Tracks combine a variety of rock influences and instruments. Some tracks have some cool jazz stuff going on with saxophones. Every track is saturated with Rhodes style organ, spring and wide reverb, and key and tempo changes.

There are no bad tracks. Track two, combining a version of jazz and Japanese lyrics by the album cover designer, creates what one might call completely unmarketable in America. It is true that jazz was born here, flourished here, then left.

“… On a dark cloud” smashes everything together with a dark-brooding atmosphere at the start, a prog ballad in the middle, and a minimalist jazz outro. “Dancing in the Park with a Gun” is another unusual combination. The final track also features lyrics in Japanese and is reminiscent of slightly more marketable music in America, mostly because it more closely resembles many different songs combined into one six minute track.

Fans of psychedelic should enjoy this one. There are a couple tracks that are straight rock songs, but most of them change very often and should at least be entertaining to the musician’s ear. The real bonus might be the Winstons appear to be very talented players and writers. The skill they exhibit is a treat for anyone who would appreciate quality musicianship.


The Monkees – Good Times!

junkheadv1tmbThe Monkees – Good Times!

’60s bubblegum rock holds a special place in my heart. Never again would rock raunch and Sesame Street melodies meld so seamlessly, selling sex and drugs to minors. While the Archies’ “Sugar Sugar” is an obvious example, my personal favorite is “1 2 3 Red Light” by the 1910 Fruitgum Company. The obligatory infectious melody is paired with lyrics that are decidedly anti-”just say no”: “Everytime I make a move to love you/1, 2, 3, red light! You stop me/Baby you ain’t right to stop me”. In general, there’s always something rude about the purest bubblegum, a tension bubbling under the surface that will always make Everything’s Archie infinitely cooler than Meet the Beatles.

Most of these groups were manufactured by evil corporations and the Monkees were no different, but somehow they’re back fifty years later with Good Times!, a retro bubblegum piece here to revive your love of ’60s radio-ready pop. Of all the bubblegum acts, the Monkees were the only one who actually had a consistent line-up. This was not by choice: the group had to be on their popular TV show every week and pretend they were a functioning unit. The members rarely wrote a track and often used a ton of session musicians even after they wrangled creative control of their albums.

And they’re still doing it fifty years later. Now slimmed down to official members Michael Nesmith, Peter Tork, and Micky Dolenz, it’s all studio glitz. Many songs have ten session musicians backing Micky Dolenz, with Nesmith and Tork taking over only a handful of the albums thirteen tracks.

Each Monkee has one writing credit to their name and they all totally blow. Tork’s “Little Girl” and Nesmith’s “I Know What I Know” are ballad drivel, while Dolenz’s “I Was There (And I’m Told I Had a Good Time)” is the worst “Why Don’t We Do It in the Road” re-write ever.

Other songwriters do a better job, but not much. The opening title track is based on a Harry Nillson demo and even features the dead man’s voice, an addition that doesn’t keep the song from sucking ass. “You Bring the Summer” is a standout, written by the dude from XTC. It’s glittery ’60s bounce trumps “She Makes Me Laugh”, a soft verse/loud chorus piece by some dude from Weezer.

There’s a lot of middling tracks in between and the okay rocker “Gotta Give It Time”, but “Love to Love” definitely sticks out. A Neil Diamond track with ancient vocals from the departed Davy Jones, it’s garage-pop aged to perfection. The guitars jangle and the tambourines pound proudly as Jones sings with the perfect moody croon. Too bad it’s the only great song on the album, and it’s only appropriate that it was mainly recorded back in ’67.

So yeah, these are some shitty times. More of the Monkees or Headquarters were okay albums, but both are twenty times better than this garbage. I’d probably rather listen to Meet the Beatles than this…and I fucking hate the Beatles.




tinyayholev1a I was listening to Wytch Hazel at lunch one day. I was really sick and I wrote something along the lines of “real decent guitar sound, okay music.” The next day I picked up where I left off and I had gotten a good rest in. I was absolutely blown away. Convinced of my mistake I listened to the first half again and after could not stop thinking about it. I immediately ordered the vinyl, which took almost a full month to get here because the “street date” or something bogus. Totally worth the wait.
My excitement rubbed off on Junkhead and he encouraged me to play it to him over the phone when I got it. I am slightly upset I did not splurge on the white vinyl.
tinyjunkheadv1a Yeah, I was skeptical at first. Wytch Hazel sounds like a foofy folky name, but thankfully they’re only like that for two tracks on the album. Otherwise, it closely resembles the NWOBHM, which is my favorite genre of anything ever.
tinyayholev1a You could not get over the name of the album. “Prelude to what?”
tinyjunkheadv1a It’s an awful name. There’s a track called “Prelude” on the album and everything, but that’s not even a prelude to anything. Every other song on the album has a better title.
I complained about it for over fifteen minutes.
tinyayholev1a I think we can assume it is a prelude to the next track.
tinyjunkheadv1a Why would I assume that? You’re going to name an album after a track that’s sole function is to segue into a good song?
Not only that, “Prelude” is the worst song on the album.
tinyayholev1a It is a really long prelude. The theme probably repeats ten times.
tinyjunkheadv1a A lot of metal bands make that mistake when they come up with some instrumental. Even if their normal songs are relatively complex, the vocal-less tracks wind up being super dumb.
tinyayholev1a Also, it feels like it’s going to go into a killer doom metal song, but it stays mellow. I bet when the play it live they just shorten it to 2 minutes instead of 4:17
tinyjunkheadv1a They probably stretch it out to 41:70.
Or 42:10, whatever.
tinyayholev1a “We only have 46 minutes of material, and all of our songs bleed into each other, so we’re going to play prelude for 45 minutes to fit the bill.”
On that note, I do like “Psalm.” The guitar work is really pleasing to me.
tinyjunkheadv1a Yeah, let’s get off the negative. While I’m not too fond of the two folky tracks, they definitely break up the rockers in a way that I can appreciate.
It’s hard to make a great album that’s always cranked up and kickin’ ass, so it’s good Wytch Hazel slowed it down. “Dark Ages” is the other one and I really dig the chorus on that one.
“We live in the Dark Ages” times ten is my kind of chorus.
tinyayholev1a Would you say it’s something every metalhead can agree on?
tinyjunkheadv1a The chorus or the folky bits breaking up the action?
tinyayholev1a The chorus. I can’t imagine many agreeing on the break up.
tinyjunkheadv1a I mean, there’s doom-and-gloom in most extreme music. Metal fans are more into that then singing about hugging your grandma or romance or something.
Like, if you want to hear somebody complaining about chicks or something, listen to pop music.
tinyayholev1a It is important to consider the premise of this band when discussing their music. NWOBHM from 600 years ago.
tinyjunkheadv1a NWOBHM lyrics did complain about chicks a lot, but it’s more because it’s a covertly poppy genre. There’s a lot of melody infused in it.
tinyayholev1a The bands eponymous track title is the best track on the album. I think it is about trying to succeed on your own then turning back to a higher authority’s wisdom.
tinyjunkheadv1a I think it’s about having the tastiest melodies on the album. The guitars and vocals trade off perfectly, and the Thin Lizzy-ish guitar breakdown at the 2:30 mark is phenomenal.
tinyayholev1a It is the catchiest melody.
tinyjunkheadv1a But yeah, there’s a heavy Christian vibe running through the album really.
There’s also a lot of battles and a lot of pronouns. “I” and “He” are all over the place, so I can see the whole relationship with God thing spread all over.
tinyayholev1a I feel like I Christian lyrics do not scare away as many listeners as we might think. Music listeners can be open minded and most people do not let lyrics deter them from an album, but these lyrics are really strong and visionary. I can not think of any corny lines, which I usually associate with Christian lyrics.
Also, the lyrics tell an overarching epic. The music hints at this with the second track, “Fight,” and the last track, “We will be strong,” both start off with a snare drum march and lead into a power metal type ballad.
tinyjunkheadv1a I mean, it’s corny in a metal way. There’s still a lot of battles and stone towers laying about, but the Christian thing doesn’t come across as ham-fisted as on a Stryper album or something.
tinyayholev1a “Oh no! The skies around are falling,
Oh no! The seas begin to roll
Oh no! Take me from the picture
Oh no! Before it takes my soul”
tinyjunkheadv1a I don’t really consider either a power ballad, they just rock the fuck out. Most of the album does that.
It rips starting from the opener which sets most of the tone: 600-year-old NWOBHM.
tinyayholev1a Rock out is a better term. Not like it’s symphonic or anything. The instrumentation is as bare as my forehead.
tinyjunkheadv1a Yeah, I’m glad they don’t throw in fiddles or something. I figured they would eventually but they didn’t.
They don’t lose sight of the slick tuneful hard rock sound.
I wonder if that’s how the MC’s introduce them. “NWOBHM from 600 years ago without gimmicky folk instruments.”
“If you like the Grateful Dead…”
Did you just fall off the your chair laughing?
tinyjunkheadv1a “…and Diamond Head, you’ll love Wytch Hazel”
I wonder if they’ll go further down the Jethro Tull route and start making album long songs and stuff. For some reason I think Wytch Hazel could pull it off.
tinyayholev1a “Truth,” an earlier recording is pretty good, but the development is clear, Wytch Hazel has a crystallized concept.
tinyjunkheadv1a Yeah, they’re definitely the kind of band that’s not going to stick around and just repeat themselves over and over, which I think’s a good thing. “More Than Conquerors” and “Fight” and everything are all awesome, but I doubt they’d be good if the band re-wrote them over and over.
tinyayholev1a “Fight” is an older song, one of two songs rerecorded for this album. I hope they don’t turn out like Shonen Knife playing Twist Barbie on every album; replace Twist Barbie with the track “Wytch Hazel.”
tinyjunkheadv1a Yeah, it’s interesting that Wytch Hazel leaves you thinking more about where they’re going than where they’re at now. Maybe it’s just a….PRELELUDDDEE of things to come?
tinyayholev1a “Wytch Hazel’s earth shattering 2017 release, featuring a monumental cover, ‘Twist Barbie.'”
I’d buy it.
tinyjunkheadv1a Even if this album had a cover of “Twist Barbie”, it’d still be in my current top five for the year.

Ayhole 5/5
Junkhead B+



ayholev1tmbMagic Potion – Pink Gum

After releasing the Melt EP in 2015, there has been some anticipation to the Swedish slacker rock band, Magic Potion. The new LP features two songs from Melt, “Deep Web,” a dreamy washed over pop ballad, “Booored,” a super boring and repetitive song, and some new stuff.

The first side seems to be the energetic and rocky songs. “Milk,” the first track, sets the stage for what you can expect for the rest of the album. Vacuous, light, vocals with garage style drums and guitar, and a bass that punctuates every eighth notes and wonders around the scale. The subject manner is for the whole band is sunny days, and “Cola Boys” takes the cake, being about running from a gang of turf kids or something. Already a music video and the obvious choice for a reissue single, is the best song on the album. Simple back beat driven down stroke heavy guitar rhythms fill the track. “Yummi 1” is the most high energy track, and “Golden Power” is about growing up in a heretical church.

The second side is a snoozer. Melodies all suffer, and the energy that was put into “Yummi 1” and the whining on track 5 is no where to be found. The band sounds like it is falling asleep as they play. “Cheddar lane” is the only semi-interesting track simply because it sounds like slacker rock and not like zoned-out-radio-pop. The singers voice also seems to get extra childish sounding on these tracks, almost as if he is trying to hard to sound like he’s not trying at all.

The first side does seem to be a good example of interesting music. Perhaps the essence of slacker rock is to sound empty and lazy. If that is true, then we have a well rounded album here.  Cool cover art and if you act fast you could own a pink vinyl copy!!


Brotherhood – Turn The Gold To Chrome


junkheadv1tmbBrotherhood – Turn The Gold To Chrome

Few things can match the first time I heard Cleopatra Record’s Goth Box back in ’97. It opened my little ten year old eyes to a genre plagued with misconception. I figured popular metal junk like Type O Negative was the be-all-end-all, but the compilation featured bands from Bauhaus to Beat Mistress. It helped me develop a taste for goth music that’s only grown over time, a respect that makes an album like Turn The Gold To Chrome so appealing.

In many ways, Brotherhood is a saucy love letter to those ’80s and ’90s goth bands. They combine all the elements that made the Sisters of Mercy so wonderful: pounding beats, brooding vocals, and those catchy single-note guitars melodies. The strange thing is that retro-memorandum bands don’t normally top their influences, which Brotherhood often does.

“End of Time” is a driving opener, but you won’t realize you’re onto something great until track two, “Abigail”. “Sha-na-na-na-na/That’s what she said/Sha-na-na-na-na/As she walked away” is the kind of catchy melancholy that’ll be branded in my mind for weeks to come. Later, “Lost” mixes rolling acoustic strumming and shimmering synths to perfection. “So Many Stars” elevates the typically tepid slow burner style to great heights with a gorgeously droning male/female chorus.

Things get decidedly more poppier sounding during the second half, with sections of “Sleepwalking” and “Over and Over” introducing elements that remind you more of Depeche Mode than Death Ride 69. “Question and Answer” takes this to the absolute extreme, dominated by a bouncier beat and bubblegum guitar/synth riff. The change keeps things from getting stale, showing more songwriting range from the group and giving listeners more to chew on.

Basically, Brotherhood is any goth fan’s second honeymoon: it recalls everything that made you fall in love with the genre in the first place, reviving an old paradigm with careful songcraft. So yeah, I’ll take a Turn The Gold To Chrome over a Vision Thing any day.




ayholev1tmbZiggy Marley – Ziggy Marley

Ziggy Marley, the son of Bob Marley, released his self-titled album solo album. Like father like son, Ziggy Marley speaks his mind. I was not around 50 years ago, but I imagine Bob Marley’s anthems were not only monumental in terms of musicality but also in message. Ziggy Marley’s message seems to be more palatable and pop-centered. Still, the subject manner does not deviate too much from popular reggae; thoughts on injustice, unity, heaven, and marijuana.

Ziggy Marley the album is modern feeling reggae. Some of the tracks feature a faster more dancey rhythm and the melodies are very close to pop R&B. There are some soul horn parts and super cleaned up instrumentation.

“We Are More,” is the best song because there are lyrics, but the majority of the song is “we are more” over and over. It is a very simple song.


Ministry of Echology – Wanderer

Throwback to dub and dancehall, Wanderer is a superior reggae album. The name of the band is reason enough, but the music is excellent. Simplicity is key in much of music. Repetitive, run-on melodies, extended two chord structure, fat, heavy bass, and clean upstrokes on guitar build every track.

Subject manner is subjective and open. Beat is contagious.



Errol Blackwood – Cooling Down The Rage

Both Cooling Down the Rage and Wanderer came out early in the year. Errol Blackwood is significantly more interested in his message. Once again, simple beats and instrumentation make a good reggae album.

There is a significant amount of material on this album. The title track feels like the longest song probably because it is too repetitive feeling and title tracks belong on track six. The other fifteen tracks contrast repetition by offering different music and prose on struggle and common man woes.

Like Ziggy Marley, Cooling Down the Rage features throwback to 50’s R&B with light modern flair


Visit the libary. yes.



ayholev1tmbDON’T – Fever Dreams

This album is more fast rock than punk. Bar scene rock is becoming more acceptable for outsiders who generally seem to favor more emotion driven performances reminiscent of early 90’s alternative. While Fever Dreams should appeal to this audience, the album maintains some “fever” and energy, though not quite as much youthful energy, aka vigor, as some of their earlier stuff. At the same time, DON’T was successful in giving this newest release a very live feel.

The first track is good to wet the ears of a curious new listener, but it really relies on hooks and pop sensitivity. Track two is cool, but “’89” is the best track on the album, a rerecording of an earlier single with notably more grunge and the title track has a very proto-punk feel.

Skipping ahead, the longest track on the album, “You Keep Cutting Through,” just clears the 3 minute mark. This track is very jumpy but has a super slowdown part in the middle that might bore listeners and dancers. The final track is an older sounding track and is a little bit of a throwback.

Considerably refined, one might say Fever Dreams is stylized vs stylistic. No doubt this will appeal to a broader audience but leave out some of their existing listeners.

You can hear almost everything they have ever recorded on their bandcamp and buy them all on vinyl by emailing Jenny Don’t. You have to attend a show to get the cool patches, though.





Lush – Blind Spot EP

The band Lush released a new EP last month after a 17 year break-up. The album was available for pre-order from the mailing list for an expected delivery date of the first week in April. I thought about it, but decided I would just pick it up for list price on free record store day. Much to my surprise but not to anyone else, Blind Spot sold out everywhere immediately, because each record store probably ordered 2 copies. I did find a warehouse in the UK who did have it in stock and would ship it to me if I wanted. I decided to bide my time with a local shop and requested to be put on the wait list. I was then called back today, almost two months after I would have gotten it if I had spent an extra five dollars and pre-ordered it.

I had decided not to listen to it until I heard the physical recording. I had already heard track one, “Out of Control,” and was excited to hear the rest.

As expected, the previously released “Out of Control,” along with a music video, does represent the most this EP contains. Sure, there are some interesting attempts at new material, however, I feel as if Berenyi and Anderson might be out of practice. The EP sounds old, as if it could have come out 20 years ago and been a flop like some of their other singles.

Of the other three tracks, none of them sound bad, but feel like a wrestling with imagery. There is no clear direction of the music, no light. Each track features classic Lush guitar sounds and orchestration but nothing fresh or desirable. Track two, “Lost Boy” is very lost sounding, but that is not a compliment. The guitar starts out as the focus, but there is so much extra movement and sounds it becomes quickly difficult to enjoy. I imagine this one would make a good music video, since it is very atmospheric, but too much half way to rock to be entertaining or danceable.

“Burnham Beeches” at least features a great example of the poppy shoegaze rock that Lush was well known for on Lovelife, which, side-note, might be my new favorite Lush album, making me a traitor to Lush snobs everywhere. This track features a great trumpet in the background and does not sound as dated as the rest of the material.

“Rosebud,” the last track on the album, seems to be the biggest attempt at a reinvention, but also feels like almost giving up. Even the vocals feel light and void of lift.

I will still see the band in September. I am sure they will play “Out of Control,” however this EP sounds more like a reunion tour release and not a musical leap. Maybe that is what happens when you break up for a couple of decades.


Axel Rudi Pell – Oceans of Time

junkheadv1tmbAxel Rudi Pell – Oceans of Time

There are some big name guitarists in the world of rock. Joe Perry, Keith Richards, and whoever gives a fuck are all names you hear thrown around by non-elitists. News flash: elitists like me know those guys are awful. The real totally awesome guitarists are the crazy blonde-haired German dudes. Amongst this group, Michael Schenker, Uli Jon Roth, and Axel Rudi Pell are the official holy trinity.

Probably the most obscure amongst non-European audiences, Pell originally played in the largely generic band Steeler throughout the ’80s before breaking out on a successful solo career. After five albums, including a trilogy with veteran singer Jeff Scott Soto, Pell tapped Hardline vocalist Johnny Gioeli to take over on his 1998 release Oceans of Time. Aside from a revolving door of drummers, this establishes the same line-up that Pell has today almost twenty years later.

In a way, Oceans of Time also solidifed Pell’s style. It continues the direction of his previous album Magic but with better songs. The clearest influence is Dio and Rainbow, with Gioeli’s vocals and the storming high fantasy sound. Wizards, oaths, demons, and everything in between dominate the lyrical content and the searing guitar follows suit.

Still, the approach is re-shuffled in interesting ways. The emphasis is on ultra-epic riffs and simple arrangements that keep everything going well past the seven minute mark. Even more interesting is how gloom-and-doom these high energy tracks really are: “Carousel”, “Gates of the Seven Seals”, and “Oceans of Time” all stick to minor melodies and atmospheric synths that keep the rockin’ positively bleak.

Between these rockers are a large number of monster power ballads punctuated by mid-range melodic solos, with the ten minute “Ashes From the Oath” being the best of the bunch. Half the track is dedicated to monumental fretwork that wraps around your mind, never growing repetitive and topping the ho-hum vocal melodies.

There’s a couple straightforward upbeat tunes buried under the larger-than-life behemoths. “Ride the Rainbow” and “Pay the Price” are awesome headbanging material. The latter features the corniest synth-choir vocals that crank the already over-the-top sound to full throttle. “Prelude to the Moon” goes even further: keyboardist Ferdy Doernberg rocks the harpsichord setting while Pell rips through the only outright shredding on the whole album.

And honestly, the whole album really rips. Pell knows what makes fantasy-themed metal great and he channels it better than most Iced Earths or Blind Guardians could ever hope to. I wish the drums were a little further up in the mix, but there’s a simple solution: turn this shit up until your ears bleed.

Oceans of Time is receiving its first ever vinyl release on June 3rd. I’d import this baby real quick before you accidentally buy something that sucks.




ayholev1tmbReleases from bandcamp with two tracks that get released tomorrow:

Adam J Jones – Misc for Oblongs

This two track release from the UK came out tomorrow. Yes, it is the future in the UK and they are listening to noisy folk pop. The first track starts out real good with some cool lo-fi guitar and bass action, but quickly tries to develop into something else, perhaps, something of sustenance. The second track abandons the unorganized feel of the first track and becomes a polished pop melody, albeit pop with heavy bass lead and giant warehouse style reverb. Most depressing looking cover art.



Reverser – Singles

Track one features a really cool intro and then the typical new school hardcore punk junk. The musicality is very present here and it is easy to understand all of the instruments separately, an unusual accomplishment for a present day hardcore band. The second track features a really boring intro and slides right into some highly sophisticated motivic development. The most interesting part of this release is how I turned it off immediately after listening to it, but then decided it was not that bad. Most traditional heavy metal looking cover art.



Model Warships – fmt

This is only one track, but is it the best cover of “Flow My Tears” that I have heard. The singer accompanies himself on the guitar with either a second vocal or an electronically modified vocal effect. You should buy it now for the low low price of 100 pounds. Most pointless cover art. (bonus points)



Mangle – Echoes of Mother Earth

Background noise with background music. Track one, “Dawn in the Forest,” features absolutely nothing interesting except the standard prerecorded forest noises, over twelve minutes of meh. Track 2, “Night Under the Drizzle,” has some emotion and standard ambient synths. Both feature un-toned standard plugin noises and are exceedingly neutral. Most photogenic cover art.



Octavia de Cádiz – Todavía

Pleasing and repetitive, track one features two chords and some light melodic improvisation. Track two adds one more chord and some apparent melodic structure. Very post-alternative. Most fitting cover art.