Apart from his somewhat diminutive stature, the late great Ronnie James Dio was the quintessential metal frontman, even laying claim to pioneering the use of the ‘horns-up’ gesture (though a certain Gene Simmons would quibble with that claim). Little doubt though that Dio, with bands like Rainbow, Black Sabbath and Dio, was responsible for some of the most iconic hard rock songs ever. And this is clearly evident on this previously unreleased concert film from two decades ago, which documented a reformed Dio performing in support of its Strange Highways album.
The quality of the concert film might not grainy but it is exciting to watch Dio not only play its best known numbers like “Stand Up and Shout”, “Don’t Talk to Strangers” and “Holy Divers” but throw in a couple of Black Sabbath (“The Mob Rules” and “Heaven and Hell”) and Rainbow (“The Man on the Silver Mountain”) tunes as well. There’s a bonus of behind the scenes the footage which is perfunctory at best.
Fourth album from these Brooklyn-based melodic rockers finds the band in psych-garage territory. What does that mean you might ask? Well, basically it’s mid-60s flavoured three-chord pedal-flooring bubblegum tunes with heavily reverb-drenched harmony vocals. Can’t decide whether the album is played straight or tongue-in-cheek – doesn’t really matter I suppose.
Tunes are kept simple as are arrangements but be warned that the lo-fi, echo chamber sound is artifice in the extreme. Oddly enough, the dreamy albeit atonal soundscape that is “Silent Minus” is one of my favourite moments on The Dead Age. It demonstrates that Unicycle Loves You has more to offer than the meat and potatoes spinning in a wash cycle ambience that characterizes too much of this album.
That said, one cannot help but be entranced by the much of the repetitive atmospheric motives of tracks like “Endless Bummer” and “Any Daydreaming Morning” where psychedelic flourishes rule the day, in a pleasant way. A mixed bag but worth checking out by modern rock fans.
So let’s take a look at what’s hot in the Singapore indie music scene right here and now.
On the heels of Gentle Bones’ exciting and appealing brand of pop, we have Kai who has produced an EP of clearly radio-friendly tunes that should have no problems winning more than a few #sgindie fans. Kai himself is an accomplished beatboxer and also a member of the acapella group Vocaluptuous so one is guaranteed of superior vocal quality, which is indeed the case. I personally find “Goodbye” and “Better” (though its chorus is reminiscent of “Falling Slowly”) interesting and both should offer pop fans a couple of earworms and hooks. Definitely a promising start!
Truly amazing how Fremantle outfit The Amani Consort is able to glide effortlessly over myriad styles within the R&B milieu. If you love jazz fusion, funk, soul and hip hop, then picking up this wonderful debut EP is pretty much essential. Of course, with the smooth larynx of front-lady Aysha Amani leading the way with highly positive lyrical vibes, getting on board this particular bandwagon is a no-brainer.
“Everybody needs a dream like the air that we breathe” (“Don’t Sweat”) is a good example with the track a lesson in keyboard skills from Gordon Cant. In fact, instrumentally the band is so tight and so expressive, equally at home delivering jazz, funk and hip hop chops. And Amani is also comfortable with rapping as she demonstrates on “Rock Your Soul”. Fans of Erykah Badu, Jill Scott, Lauryn Hill and Meshell Ndegeocello will simply fall in love with Amani’s voice. And on “Attitude”, she delivers the pointed sentiments perfectly with an equal measure of menace and determination.
Suffice to say that this is an assured debut that deserves all the attention it can get. Highly recommended!