BLACK STAR RIDERS – WRONG SIDE OF PARADISE – ALBUM REVIEW
It hasn’t been an easy road for Black Star Riders, formed from the backlash against the idea of the last incarnation of Thin Lizzy creating new music. The group has proved all doubters wrong with their subsequent output – four albums of undisputed rock and roll class, and ten years of effortless cool, delicious riffs and belting melodies.
Black Star Riders have long established themselves as a credible entity in their own right and that’s despite numerous line-up changes testing their resolve. The biggest line-up change however came in 2021 with the departure of guitar-slinger extraordinaire Scott Gorham. Gorham was integral to the formation of the group and his departure leaves singer/guitarist Ricky Warwick as the sole remaining original member.
With Warwick firmly at the helm though, the band retain the heart and soul of their signature sound and presentation. Warwick’s career renaissance may have started in Thin Lizzy, but Black Star Riders allowed him to rediscover himself and unleash his natural talents back on the world.
New album, ‘Wrong Side of Paradise’, may be another new beginning but it’s also a continuation of the essence of Black Star Riders. That signature sound remains firmly and passionately intact, and Warwick’s distinguished vocals remain front and centre issuing that iconic battle cry as only he can!
Those famous riffs remain also as the album presents the perfect stable yet evolutionary prose that acts as the necessary statement to show that sans Gorham, this band remain a powerful force with a prosperous future.
Fans have a fifth album of pure rock and roll majesty, which still owes all to the faith that the initial cohort placed in themselves. They knew they had something special and now ten years later, the world knows it too!
Following a multi-year hiatus, Takedown Festival will return in 2023, and this week organisers revealed the stunning first batch of bands that will be taking over Portsmouth Guildhall in April.
Headlining the event will be Sleep Token and Skindred. They will be joined by the likes of Loathe, Jamie Lenman, InMe, Palm Reader, Our Hollow Our Home, As December Falls, Fearless Vampire Killers, The Bottom Line and more!
Supergrass frontman Gaz Coombes will be releasing his latest solo album, ‘Turn The Car Around’ on January 13th. Ahead of that release, Coombes has this week revealed a full UK/Ireland Tour set for April.
We move our News Report on now finally to the best new releases from the past week and we start with Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes!
This week saw the band share new single, ‘Parasite’, which you can listen to above.
Of the song they share: “This song was written between 12am and 3am during a particularly brutal trip to the seaside, it rained for a week straight and I had spent all my time listening to friends and their relationship problems but I had no words, no solutions to find. After all that a new parasite had been discovered.”
The band also detailed a 3 date residency at the Underworld in Camden this December.
Black Star Riders this week released unique new single, ‘Crazy Horses’, which is a reinterpretation of The Osmonds classic. Listen to the track above!
The Track comes from upcoming new album, ‘Wrong Side Of Paradise’, which is out January 20th.
Front-man Ricky Warwick comments: “I remember watching The Osmonds performing this song on television in the early seventies as a young kid. I fell in love with it then and was patiently waiting for the opportunity to cover it. Thankfully my brothers in BSR shared the same adoration for the tune. So… The time is now and here it is!”
AWOLNATION returned this week with brand new single, ‘We Are All Insane’, which you can listen to above.
Frontman Aaron Bruno on the inspiration behind ‘We Are All Insane’, “I wrote the song during a time when the days of the week felt especially monotonous and I was searching for ways to stay creative and productive. I think that’s a feeling most people have experienced at some point in their lives, especially over the past few years.”
This week saw IDLES announce the upcoming release of ‘Five Years of Brutalism’, a newly released vinyl celebrating five years since the release of their seminal debut album.
Speaking about the album, singer Joe Talbot writes; “What started as a headstone slab of indulgence and unrest became a long journey of beauty, forgiveness, and gratitude. Little did we know that it was not just a headstone but the foundations we were building, for a house full to the brim with loving human beings. Thank you so so much”
You can check out a taster of the release with ‘1049 GOTHO’ live from Glastonbury which you can listen to above.
Just Mustard this week shared the new video for their track, ‘Blue Chalk’, which you can watch above.
The video was made with the group’s friend Seán McMahon and was directed by vocalist, Katie Ball. “The song Blue Chalk defines the heaviness that the whole of ‘Heart Under’ exists beneath. The kind that comes with grief and you feel like you are trying to navigate life with the weight of the sea on your chest keeping you down. I wanted to make this video since we started writing ‘Heart Under’ and to me it visually represents a lot of the emotion in the album. It was filmed in 4hrs in freezing cold water with the help of our friend Seán McMahon.” says Ball.
DEADLETTER share new single, ‘Madge’s Declaration’, taken from debut EP, ‘Heat!’, which is out November 18th.
Frontman Zac Lawrence said the following on the track: “We wanted to make something that had elements of humour and danceability, trying to explore a genuinely terrifying idea in a manner which mirrors our cultural fascination with it. Our tendency to work around the drumbeat and bassline is highly evident here, with the song climaxing in a cacophony of primal ecstasy.”
Hell’s Ditch – ‘Take The Night Off’
British punk rock group Hell’s Ditch are back with their brand-new single ‘Take The Night Off’.
“We’re made to feel lucky that we have a job and that we should be grateful for the opportunity to fight over scraps from the tables of the political class.People deserve more than just the bare minimum – we deserve dignity and good quality of life. Take The Night Off is about the need to live a life beyond the daily grind. Bread and roses, if you will”. – Vocalist Nick Davis
Xondra – ‘Tedious’
New York-based singer and songwriter Xondra unveils ‘Tedious’, the final single from her much anticipated EP, ‘Tedious & Brief’.
“It is a song for the people that love so much and so hard that they sometimes forget to save some for themselves; it is for those learning to step out of survival mode and really live in the present,” says Xondra. “’Tedious’ is me putting myself first. It is me allowing myself to to walk through the hard feelings I was having and still be hopeful that good times were coming down the road for me.”
Pet Needs have just released their sophomore album, ‘Primetime Entertainment’, and this week they announced the obligatory headlining tour to accompany the release.
Support for these shows comes variously from Tundra and Bridget..
The tour finishes in their hometown Colchester on December 16th with special guest Sean McGowan plus Ecto Peach and Oxbowlake!
Speaking about the show, Johnny says: “We’re headlining a 400-capacity venue in our hometown Colchester at Christmas. I moved here 7-8 years ago now. For local bands, if you play Colchester Arts Centre, you’ve got credibility. I never thought we’d headline that venue and If we can sell it out, that’d be incredible.”
This week Black Star Riders shared the latest look at new album, ‘Wrong Side Of Paradise’, which is out January 20th. You can check out new single, ‘Pay Dirt’, above.
Frontman Ricky Warwick comments: “Rock’n’Roll is my lover, friend, enemy, ally, religion and saviour. Rock’n’Roll is my life.Christian Martucci and the late Todd Youth wrote the music for this. And when I heard it, it stank with defiance and attitude. It didn’t need changing, just some words to echo the power of the chords.It’s an ode to Rock’n’Roll… But also a dig at those that don’t learn their art and don’t play from the heart!”
About the album Ricky adds: “I am very proud of this record, Black Star Riders’ fifth release and the first with our new and exciting relationship with Earache Records. As with all BSR albums, ‘Wrong Side Of Paradise’ is an anthemic statement of intent, driven by ferocious guitars and thundering drums. I can only write about my own personal experiences, my families, my friends and how I see a world that is unraveling and changing faster than we can comprehend. That being said, I’m a firm believer in the power of positivity, something that echoes throughout this album”
In addition to the new record, Black Star Riders will embark on their 10th Anniversary tour, starting from 13th February 2023.
Ricky Warwick further comments: “Can you believe 2023 is 10 years of Black Star Riders? … How time flies while you are having fun! We decided to do something special to commemorate this occasion. For the UK tour only, to coincide with the album’s release, we will be bringing back the legendary Scott Gorham (guitar) and Jimmy DeGrasso (drums) for the dates to make them extra special!”
Our News Report continues with the latest single from The Cult, ‘A Cut Inside’, which you can listen to above.
The track comes from new album, ‘Under The Midnight Sun’, which is out on October 7th.
Leading to 2020, The Cult had been on a rolling cycle of releasing albums, touring, and recording. As the world shut down and everyone was forced to reprioritise the way they approached life and work. “When the world stopped, I had this moment to write in real time, to calculate,” says Ian Astbury.
When lockdown lifted and the group could meet to record, they teamed up with Dalgety. “I was compelled by this vision, this anomaly, this memory, of being under the midnight sun. Tom helped us bring a new musical shape and frequency to our process.”
Pixies up next in our News Report as they shared new track, ‘Dregs of the Wine’, this week, which you can listen to above.
The track comes from upcoming new album, ‘Doggerel’, which is out September 30th.
BlackFrancis says the song is about, “Living in Los Angeles in the ‘90s with my then-wife, hanging out with Joey and his ex-wife, lots of trips to Las Vegas, a lot of drinking, little bit drug taking, some genuine good times.”
Flashforward to the present day. Joey Santiago was jamming at home on his guitar and the initial idea behind the song may well have been lost to the moment.
He recalls, “I guess I was in kind of a zombie state, just playing. After I stopped playing I put it down and went, ‘Well, that was a fucking waste of time, what a piece of shit I am.’ I beat myself up a lot, but my girlfriend, unbeknownst to me, was recording me. She played it back to me and I go, ‘Fuck! Hold on a second here! This stuff is good!’”
Smith/Kotzen release ‘Got A Hold On Me’ live video
The duo of Adrian Smith and Richie Kotzen will release ‘Better Days… And Nights’ on September 16th.
This week they shared the live video for ‘Got A Hold On Me’, which you can check out above.
Adrian Smith comments, “I think everyone in the band was extremely happy with how our very first tour turned out. We were all naturally a little anxious as we’d never played live together before but once we got out there, everything fell into place really easily and we all had a tremendous amount of fun. I can’t wait until we can do it again and get to play in many more places next time round.”
Richie Kotzen adds, “We spent a lot of time discussing which of the songs from the live show to include on this CD. We wanted to capture an accurate snapshot of the special vibe we all felt on the tour and I think we’ve achieved this in the songs we’ve selected, and hope our fans will agree. We’re looking forward to seeing everybody again on future tours.”
This week also saw Maximo Park share their latest single, ‘Merging Into You’, which you can check out above.
Singer Paul Smith comments on the song:
“Merging Into You’s organ sound reminds me of some of our early songs, which ended up on the flipside of our first singles. The song is a romantic look at the first, tentative moments of a relationship, enhanced by Du Blonde’s brilliant voice. We’re all fans of Beth’s music and she added a different texture to our sound, along with Faye MacCalman’s swooning sax that carries the song to its close.”
Stray From The Path share video for ‘Needful Things’
Stray From The Path celebrate the release of new album, ‘Euthanasia’, with the debut of the video for ‘Needful Things’.
The band will shortly play an intimate UK Tour to celebrate the album release even further.
Speaking of tour, guitarist, Tom Williams, says “We are stoked to return back to the UK and mainland Europe to do some small and intimate album release shows for our new record, ‘Euthanasia’. By the time we get there, it will be almost three years since we’ve been back. We’ve dropped ‘Guillotine’ and ‘III’ and our UK/EU people have been wanting us back ASAP, I’m glad we can get back there for them. We’re bringing with us a brand new album, two amazing up and coming bands in Vatican and Guilt Trip, and three years of too much time spent away from some of our favourite places on earth.”
As our News Report continues we look towards Wednesday 13 who this week debuted new single, ‘Insides Out’, which you can check out above.
The track comes ahead of 9th album, ‘Horrifier’, which is out October 7th.
About the track, Wednesday 13 says: “Our latest single ‘Insides Out’ is a very heavy song, so it only made sense to make a video to match the sound! Torture and violence is the main theme of this song, and we continue along the lines of the last music video with another horror movie theme here too.”
Beth Orton is another artist with an imminent album release. Her latest effort, ‘Weather Alive’ is out September 23rd, and this week she released her latest single. You can check out ‘Fractals’ above.
Orton says of the song, “The track is a beautiful example of the nature of collaboration, where people come in as they are,” she says. “You’re hearing the first take. I would never have been able to conjure that music without these musicians.”
Oakman have announced that their new EP, ‘SCP’, will be out September 30th. This week also saw the band share the video for the title track, which you can watch above.
“It is finally the end of a period. We are very excited to be able to give you the last pieces of this new baby,” says lead singer, Marine, about the new EP. “The last few months have gone by quickly and have been quite intense but it’s also a relief because we cannot wait to get our heads into what will be the next part of Oakman. We hope you enjoy this EP and we hope you can feel the sincerity of the emotions we wanted to share with you. Soon, this EP will belong to you.”
About the song, the band says, “Marine was watching a show during lockdown called “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend”. The main character reminded her of a character she had played when she was doing theater. After the foundation of ‘SCP’ was written, she wrote the lyrics about these two characters. ‘SCP’ is a sarcastic and second degree track about the fear of loneliness and not being loved at all costs with a neurotic side.”
Grave Goods share the song ‘Die’ from their debut album, ‘Tuesday. Nothing Exists’, out now!
Speaking of the single, drummer Sarah Grimes said, “Lois sent us the idea for DIE as a sort of electronic track, and when we were all together we worked out how to make it into a live band sound and add our own stamp to it. Whilst recording at Invada we felt that the build up towards the end of DIE needed more layers, so Lois and Phil tried out a couple of synths and settled on a sound that worked – it’s the only song that has synth.
During the last 15 minutes of our recording time Phil added extra layers by messing around with some guitar feedback – the final sound to be recorded on the album, which is kind of special when you think about it especially as DIE is the closing track of the album.”
Harpy – ‘Medicine’
Harpy is back to share her brand new single, ‘Medicine’!
“Sometimes we don’t want to be saved. Sometimes we want to feel the pain, to revel in the misery. We do things that are bad for us, because sometimes they feel good… so good that we go back to them again, and again, and again. That’s what Medicine is about.” – Harpy
Creature Cult – ‘ughly’
Creature Cult are a duo from Colchester, Essex consisting of Connar Ridd (vocals/guitar) and Jonn Downham (synths/backing vocals). The present their latest single, ‘ughly’.
Explaining the track further, Connar said, “I had to leave a job recently because I was told I didn’t dress the way they wanted me to when I was dressed perfectly fine. If someone without piercings and tattoos and bleached hair would have worn the same thing I doubt there would have been an issue. I’m bored of being made to feel like an alien for just trying to be who I am, this song is exactly about it. It’s about paranoia to leave the f*cking house because you’re thinking about what homophobic comment someone is gunna say when you’re queuing in the corner shop. About feeling exhausted to be yourself because people try and make it hard for you to be. But there is a community for people who stick together and stand tall, a community where difference is celebrated and we are all ‘freaks’ together, and this song is a f*ck you to the people who try to take that away.”
Jonn adds, “I was recently sitting at a bus stop and had a group of guys hurling the foulest homophobic comments at me simply because I was wearing makeup and dressed in a faux-fur coat. It’s both crazy and sad that there are people who still have these sorts of views towards others simply for being or looking different to what’s considered ‘normal’. It’s not okay”
As we bang our heads in Donington Park, we welcome you to the latest edition of our weekly music News Report. We therefore start with some rocking tour announcements.
Up first is the news that Black Star Riders will be touring the UK in February to celebrate their 10th Anniversary. A special throwback line-up will include Scott Gorham and Jimmy DeGrasso.
Frontman Ricky Warwick had the following to say, “Can you believe 2023 is 10 years of Black Star Riders … How time flies while you are having fun! We decided to do something special to commemorate this occasion. For the UK tour only, to co-incide with the album’s release, we will be bringing back the legendary Scott Gorham (guitar) and Jimmy DeGrasso (drums) for the dates to make them extra special!”
The BSR news doesn’t end there however, as the band will also be releasing a new album, ‘Wrong Side of Paradise’ on January 20th.
The first single, ‘Better Than Saturday Night’ was shared this week and you can check the video out below.
Warwick shares, ““Better Than Saturday Night” is a feel-good, uplifting tune about staying strong in the face of adversity, being true to yourself, and the power of positivity. I wrote it for my kids, but subliminally I think I also wrote it for myself and everyone for those days when we need to find a little bit of extra strength.”
He continues: “We wanted to reflect the positivity, power, attitude and strength to endure sentiment in the lyrics of the song. And no better way to do that than Black Star Riders rockin’ out with the Los Angeles Roller Derby Dolls.”
About the album Ricky adds “I am very proud of this record, Black Star Riders fifth release and the first with our new and exciting relationship with Earache Records. As with all BSR albums, ‘Wrong Side Of Paradise’ is an anthemic statement of intent, driven by ferocious guitars and thundering drums. I can only write about my own personal experiences, my families, my friends and how I see a world that is unraveling and changing faster than we can comprehend. That being said, I’m a firm believer in the power of positivity, something that echoes throughout this album”
Scots The View will be returning for their first show in more than five years. The band will play Glasgow this December.
Kyle Falconer says, “It’s an honour to still be able to play our songs to audiences who love them. The View are probably in the best position they have ever been to play live. Taking some time to refocus has given us all the drive and the hunger to release more hits and blow everyone away again. It’s gonna happen so we hope you’re ready. We are!”
We turn to PIXIES now as our News Report continues. This week the band debuted a new track, ‘There’s A Moon On’, which you can listen to above.
The track will feature on a new album, ‘Doggerel’, which is out on September 30th.
Guitarist Joey Santiago says, “This time around we have grown. We no longer have under two-minute songs. We have little breaks, more conventional arrangements but still our twists in there.”
Vocalist/guitaristBlack Francis adds, “We’re trying to do things that are very big and bold and orchestrated. The punky stuff, I really like playing it but you just cannot artificially create that shit. There’s another way to do this, there’s other things we can do with this extra special energy that we’re encountering.”
There was also new music this week from The Blue Stones. The band shared their new single, ‘Don’t Miss’, which you can check out above.
Discussing the single, the duo noted, “We wanted every listener to feel just as confident as we did while recording this song, and give them a theme to revel in their own accomplishments with. This song is the smirk you give to anyone who thinks you aren’t worth the hype.”
Asylums this week shared their latest single, ‘Scatterbrain’, which you can listen to above.
The single will feature on new album, ‘Signs of Life’, which is due for release on October 14th.
Producer Dave Eringa on ‘Signs Of Life’:
“When Luke said he wanted to do an album at Rockfield in 8 days – all played live & to integrate big strings into their sound – it sounded so ridiculous I thought “let’s do this”! Only a band that can really play can do this kind of recording. No clicks, no tricks – all live off the floor, a few judicious overdubs, some amazing string arrangements from musical polymath Henry & a bizarre interruption from Countryfile – it was a pretty intense week and I couldn’t be prouder of them for what they achieved! They’ve really taken themselves to the next level!”
Tyneside’s Pit Pony have shared new single ‘Sinking’ – taken from debut album ‘World To Me’ out 1st July 2022.
“There’s a lot more layers and textures to this than most on the album and it was a welcomed contrast and learning curve as it’s not something we’d really done some much with previous tracks.”, says singer Jackie Purver. “We have a lot to thank Chris MacManus and his production for with this one. The doubled 60s girl group style vocals in particular were his idea, and it’s something we all instantly loved being such big fans of that genre and its sound.”
She adds, “I think that on the surface this is influenced in its imagery by the fact I’m from a coastal town (South Shields) and have always been by the river so the whole album has a theme running through it with water (see what I did there?). I think when all we were allowed to do was go on walks we spent a lot of time walking our beautiful North East coast and that seeped into the writing.”
Neversaid – ‘BRAVE’
London Alternative outfit Neversaid have unleashed their brand-new heart-hitting single ‘BRAVE’ to the world.
“Brave is about social anxiety. It’s about feeling completely alone and isolated, and feeling like everyone around you is out to get you. Neversaid is all about self – expression. Every Neversaid song is an explosion of emotion, be it anger, frustration, hope, anxiety or depression.” – Logan Samuel (Lead Singer)
Fitzroy Holt – ‘Medicine’
Fitzroy Holt has released a new single, ‘Medicine’, as he begins a new deal with This Feeling Records.
Fitzroy says, “‘Medicine’ is a love song with all the good bits and all the sometimes not so good bits. It’s about that special someone or something that makes your day brighter by just being there.”
Ricky Warwick – When Life Was Hard And Fast – Album Review
Over the course of his career Ricky Warwick has kept himself very busy. Warwick has a CV boasting the likes of The Almighty, Black Star Riders and Thin Lizzy among others. He has also found time for a prolific solo career when not otherwise occupied.
There have been times when Warwick has found himself disillusioned by music and his solo work has provided new focus. Since the inception of Black Star Riders however, Warwick is a man on a mission, fully rejuvenated and in love with music.
That trademark passion is found in abundance on ‘When Life Was Hard And Fast’, the latest solo effort from Warwick. From the opening title track through ‘You Don’t Love Me’ and ‘I’d Rather Be Hit’ it’s already clear that this is Warwick at his very best.
‘Gunslinger’ and ‘Never Corner A Rat’ keep the engine roaring as the album attacks your senses and gets your feet stomping and your head banging. Pandemic allowing, Warwick is due to tour this album with his own backing group ‘The Fighting Hearts’. Listening to these songs really whets the appetite for what will surely be a great tour.
As well as the hard rocking side of Warwick, the album also dabbles with his softer acoustic past. The beautiful ‘Time Don’t Seem To Matter’ adding a little melancholy to the middle of the album. That’s before ‘Fighting Heart’ and ‘I Don’t Feel At Home’ pick up the pace again and show a little more sheen.
‘Still Alive’ however is straight back to the classic hard rock sound that Warwick has perfected. It is then down to ‘Clown of Misery’ and ‘You’re My Rock ‘N Roll’ to close out the album and showcase the depth of talent that Warwick possesses.
Certain releases include a bonus album of covers – ‘Stairwell Troubadour’ which is also fantastic. The covers chosen are at times surprising, but they are a real treat. If you ever wanted to hear Warwick cover artists as diverse as Britney Spears and Iron Maiden, track this deluxe version down!