Going by the evidence of 2011's The Ornament, Grant Olsen's near-solo project Gold Leaves play the worst kind of plinky-plonky indie nonsense you can imagine, leading me to ruminate on the question, "Just what, exactly, makes 'indie' indie?" I believe the answer goes something like this: 'indie' = a poor copy of bands who were influenced by bands who had heard The Velvet Underground, each generation moving further from the source material, the end result taking all the worst elements of the VU while missing what made them great by a country mile. Rather like most 'genre' artists, then. Gold Leaves are as bad as any, their low-energy, remedial, almost tuneless dirges making me want to fling the disc out of a tall building, tempered only by the knowledge that it would probably survive the fall. Jason Quever is credited with Mellotron, but the vaguely Mellotronic string and flute sounds that crop up occasionally seem highly unlikely to have anything to do with a real machine. Why does anyone like this kind of stuff? Fucked if I know.
Adam Kline's Golden Shoulders' most recent full-lengther at the time of writing, Get Reasonable, is a singer-songwriter-plays-indie album, at its least irritating on Let My Burden Be and the Elvis Costello/Watching The Detectives-isms of Little Nixon (even sounds like one of Costello's titles). Josh Klinghoffer's samplotron flutes finally appear on closer Listen Closely (I Will Fight You Now Liar), to no great effect.
Golden Smog returned after an eight-year break with 2006's Another Fine Day, Jeff Tweedy only appearing in a guest role. It's immediately obvious that they've shifted away from 'pure' alt.country, towards a slightly psychedelic Americana, for want of a better description, with late-'60s Kinks-ish opener You Make It Easy, pseudo-glam (Corvette), hard rock (Hurricane) and various other previously-unheard-on-a-Golden-Smog-album styles. Alleged Mellotron from Gary Louris on closer Think About Yourself; I'd guess it provides the vague, background strings that waft in and out of the track. It's been pointed out that, by releasing albums in consecutive years, the band are in danger of losing their 'side-project' status. 2007's Blood on the Slacks (ho ho) is actually a mini-album, including two covers amongst its eight tracks, Bowie's Starman and Dinosaur Jr's Tarpit, nestled in between another six tracks of psychedelic Americana. Of their own material, the quirky instrumental Magician is probably the best example, some of the rest not quite coming up to previous standards, which isn't to say it's a bad release. Louris' samplotron rears its ugly head on Starman, with a string part similar to the real one on the original.
Goldenboy, a.k.a. Shon Sullivan, are/is a classic case of how certain artists can seriously polarise opinion; one online reviewer says 'too good for a debut', I say 'dreary indie'. 2002's Blue Swan Orchestra has its moments, certainly (Twenty Months In A Hail Storm, the melancholy Summertime, Elliott Smith on backing vocals), but the majority of its material exists in a kind of indie limbo of repetitive guitars and overly-sweet melodies. I'm not sure I'll ever understand why this stuff's so popular; born too early, I suppose. Good. Producer/label owner Dave McConnell supposedly plays Chamberlin, although the only thing here that even might be one is the heavily-vibratoed flutes on album 'proper' closer Almost Perfect.
Alison Goldfrapp and Will Gregory, collectively Goldfrapp, have shifted their sound with each release, confounding their critics and probably irritating their fans. After their ambient debut, 2000's Felt Mountain, 2003's Black Cherry has far more of a dance vibe about it, although apparently less so than its successor, 2005's Supernature (yeah yeah, Cerrone reference). My chief problem with Black Cherry is a lack of good songs, as against excuses for some neat programming and drifty vocals; a little of those goes a long way round these parts. However, the (genuine analogue?) synth work on most tracks is a distinct bonus, notably on Crystalline Green, Train, Twist and Strict Machine, with its Donna Summer vocal homage. I keep being told there's some Mellotron on the album, but all I can hear is some possible Mellotron flute on the title track, which sounds sampled anyway. Given that Gregory is rumoured to use a raft of vintage gear, it's possible it's real, but I'll need confirmation from someone who actually knows to shift this into the regular reviews. Anyway, a decent enough modern synth album, basically, probably best avoided if you're allergic to the dancier end of things.
Tally of the Yes Men is full-on indie-by-numbers, incorporating all the genre clichés you can imagine. Eight-downstrokes-to-the-bar? Check. Whiny lyrics set to a twee major-key 'melody'? Check. Chord sequences that rarely explore beyond, say E-to-A, repeat? Check. Arlan Schierbaum's credited with Mellotron and Chamberlin. What, the vague background strings on Motorcade? I've wasted forty minutes of my life for this?
Zoloft? A.k.a. Sertraline, a commonly-prescribed antidepressant, apparently, potential side effects including diarrhoea, sexual dysfunction and troubles with sleep (thanks, Wikipedia). Sounds a right bundle of laughs. Fortunately, Songs in the Key of Zoloft is an under-twenty-minute EP, so, after a brief instrumental intro, it only contains four songs of Hartley Goldstein whining about his childhood, for which I am truly grateful. I have absolutely no idea why Joe McGinty's credited with Mellotron.
Teddy Goldstein, not to mention his Goldsteins' Alright is the New Fantastic is an Americana-end-of-singer-songwriter mini-album, at its best on Livin' Like We Care and Union Street, as much for the lyrics as the music. Ken Rich is credited with Mellotron on Comeback, but the sampled vibes on the track can also be heard on Not The Real Thing.
Selena Gomez, who rose to fame through the Disney Corporation (see: Miley Cyrus, a million others no-one over twenty-five has heard of), began her musical career with her band, The Scene, in 2009, going 'solo' (or more solo) after three albums with them. 2014's For You is actually a compilation, of the 'includes a handful of new/rare recordings' variety; it covers Gomez' first four albums, although you'd be hard-pushed to spot any progression from one to the next, band or no band. A repeating feature (aside from the shitty R&B of almost every track) is her vocals: ridiculously high in the mix. Welcome to 'pop' productions, ladies'n'gennelmen. Irritatingly, another repeating trope is a vaguely interesting sonic trick of one kind or another used at the beginning of a track, until the vocals and programmed drums kick in, at which point it all goes to shit. Is there a 'best track'? Well, Falling Down's about the least bad, principally due to being vaguely rock and not actually R&B. Rami Jaffee (whose Mellotron credits are highly suspect these days) is credited on opener The Heart Wants What It Wants, one of the new recordings, but with nothing obviously tape-replay-generated on the track, I think we can safely say: samples, deep in the mix. You're not exactly going to go out of your way to hear this anyway, are you?
After his '90s success with The Matthew Good Band (loving the originality there), Good went solo, Lights of Endangered Species being his fifth studio release. When you hear the phrase 'brass section', you really aren't thinking of the way Good uses them; more colliery band than Tower of Power, his arrangements bring out the inherent mournfulness of many members of the brass family. Echoes of Scott Walker, early 20th-Century classical music, even the more orchestral end of progressive rock, all crash headlong (albeit rather quietly) into Good's alt.rock and singer-songwriter backgrounds, the end result being unique, if not always entirely successful. Producer Warne Livesey is credited with Mellotron, while Good credits himself with 'claratron', apparently no more than the rarely-heard Mellotron clarinet sound, but, as you can imagine, there's nothing obvious to be heard.
The Good Life grew out of Cursive's frontman Tim Kasher's solo project, their third album, 2004's Album of the Year, being an awful lot better than the parent band's Happy Hollow, at least. That isn't to say it's a great album; the opening title track has a great narrative lyric, but the bulk of the record drifts along in a folk/indie kind of way, with only the occasional burst of energy (Notes In His Pocket, Needy), to liven things up at all and did Inmates really need to be nearly ten minutes long? Mike Mogis plays samplotron on Lovers Need Lawyers, with a brief background flute part at the end of the song.
Delta Goodrem is yet another massively-successful musician I've never heard of, which means that my attempts to completely divorce myself from modern popular culture are clearly reaping rewards. Starting her career as a child actor, Child of the Universe is her fourth album, an unappealing mix of the more sophisticated end of dance/pop and piano balladry, which really is all I need to say about it, I think. Gary Clark is credited with 'Mellotron string machine' on the title track. Er... Wot? Suffice to say, given the real strings on the track, there's nothing audible, whether real Mellotron, string machine or samples.
Gabriel Gordon's overlong Gypsy Living is a typical upbeat modern singer-songwriter effort, full of material that sounds like it should be used in mass-market TV shows. Perhaps it is. Gordon's credited with Mellotron, but all we get is distant samplotron strings and flutes on the title track, flutes on Key To The City and other possibles elsewhere, not that it matters.
Coyote's Calling is an album of heartfelt Americana, probably at its best on Jack's Dream and You Can Have What's Left Of My Heart, although it occasionally tips into the kind of mawkish country that gives the genre a bad name. Evan Gordon (his brother?) plays samplotron strings on Hey Amanda.
By the mid-'90s, Dutch death metal crew Gorefest had softened their approach to the point that their fourth album, 1996's Soul Survivor, is, in many ways, a trad hard rock album with metal overtones, not least a continuation of their earlier death metal vocal style, sadly. High points? Quite a few, maybe surprisingly, including the brief harmony guitar part on the title track, a little riff at the end of Blood Is Thick and several Maiden/Metallica-style harmony sections. René Merkelbach's 'Mellotron' strings on River and lengthy closer Dragonman, however, simply aren't; I can't tell whether they're eMu or Roland samples, but they're certainly one or the other, with the wrong attack on both slow and fast sections, which is quite a trick. Well, this would be thoroughly acceptable had the band opted to drop that ridiculous vocal style; as it is, by this point, they'd alienated all their old fans anyway, so they might as well have 'done an Anathema', dumped their old style completely and looked for a new fanbase. As it is, it's not a bad effort if you can ignore the vocals (and the spelling mistakes), but the Mellotron's a definite fake.
Gorki were a successful Belgian alt.rock outfit, whose fifth album, Ik Ben Aanwezig, is a rather dull '90s indie effort from a classic 'locals' band. You know, sound quite like famous international acts for your local market, often singing in your own language. It's harmless enough, I suppose, but overlong, at its sort-of best on Wie Zal Er Voor De Kinderen Zorgen and Mijn Dierbare Vijand, maybe. Luc Heyvaerts plays most likely sampled Mellotron acoss much of the album (although they also have two 'real use' LPs), notably the strings on opener Aan De Rand Van De Beschaving, Adam Is Dood and elsewhere. Perhaps they were trying the sounds on for size before getting the Real Deal.
Stone Gossard (actually his real name) is, of course, long-term guitarist with Pearl Jam, also working his way through Seattle proto-grunge legends Green River, Mother Love Bone and Temple of the Dog, placing him at the epicentre of the whole movement. Of course, whether you like Pearl Jam et al. is another matter; I find them a largely tuneless dirge, but I'm sure many people feel the same way about one of their chief influences and occasional collaborator, Neil Young, so what do I know? Bayleaf is Gossard's first solo album, sounding like a more laid-back version of Pearl Jam to my ears, with even more overt Neil comparisons, although none of the songwriting really stands up. Maybe you have to be really into the style. Pete Droge plays a variety of instruments on the album, not least samplotron, although you wouldn't know were it not credited. I have to assume it's on opener Bore Me, making the discordant sound that swells up out of the mix here and there, although it could be just about anything.
Gospelbeach (or, irritatingly, GospelbeacH) followed 2017's Another Summer of Love with Let it Burn, a rather lesser effort, as if they'd already used up all their best ideas. Its best bits are when guest guitarist Neal Casal lets rip; tragically, Casal died between the recording and release of the album. Jonny Niemann's credited with Mellotron, but, unlike on this album's predecessor, the
faint strings on opener Bad Habits, upfront ones on Dark Angel, a strings/flute mix on Get It Back and other use fail on the 'authenticity' front.
The Gotan Project are an international Paris-based collective, whose music is essentially Brazilian crossed with electronica, making them the type of band unlikely to appeal to the average prog fan. 2004's Inspiración-Espiración (or, correctly, Inspiración-Espiración: A Gotan Project DJ Set: New Tracks, Remixes & Funky Tangos Selected & Mixed By Philippe Cohen Solal) is, effectively, a remix album, although what kind of 'DJ set' this would make I'm not sure; it has far too many slow bits to make it particularly danceable. Anyway, while I'm sure it's perfectly good at what it does, it's overlong and I can't say it exactly grabbed this particular reviewer. Joey Burns adds samplotron to one track, with watery flutes on La Del Ruso (Calexico Version).
Wouter "Wally" De Backer, a.k.a. Gotye, is an Australian (via Belgium) artist, whose third album, 2011's Making Mirrors, features a blend of pop (various eras), electronica and all-round sampledelica. Sounds appalling? Agreed, but for all my dislike of the vast bulk of current pop, Gotye's magpie instincts for sounds make him a more interesting listen than practically all of his contemporaries, better moments including Eyes Wide Open's 'Kate Bush on speed' galloping rhythm, State Of The Art's disco-era syndrum and the '60s influences scattered across the record. And is that an echo of 'honorary Aussies' Crowded House I hear on closer Bronte? Gotye adds Mellotron flute samples to Somebody That I Used To Know, used sparingly and sympathetically, although they're so minimal that, were it relevant, they'd garner a mere half 'T'. Don't imagine that I'm actually recommending this to any of you, but it's nice, just for once, to hear a mainstream pop album that doesn't thoroughly insult my intelligence.
Jean-Philippe Goude is a French composer/keyboard player, best-known for his work with short-lived Zeuhlsters Weidorje in the late '70s, although his career extends in both directions from that brief period. 2001's Rock de Chambre is something like his fourth solo album since 1990, pretty much what it says on the tin, a collaboration between a small orchestral ensemble and a band, most of its tracks dominated by the string section, whose arrangements never quite tip over into dissonance, while remaining on the 'avant' side of 'normal', whatever you take that to mean. Attempting to isolate any 'best tracks' is slightly futile; as you might expect, the album works best as a whole and should be listened to as such. Goude is credited with Mellotron, with a sparse flute part on La Dernière Marche, but it's quickly proven to be fake on La Ligne Claire (far too fast and with the wrong attack to be genuine), with more of the same on Lieber Hans, Fonquitude and closer Soliloque. All in all, a fine effort, assuming you can handle a little mild dissonance in your chamber rock. Recommended.
Gracious! (UK) see:
I'm afraid I'm unable to dissociate the name Grails from a certain Monty Python film, specifically John Cleese as 'Tim the wizard' with a broad cod-Scots accent ("Therrre arrre some that call me... Tim"), roaring "A GRRRAIL??!!" at several terrified knights. Sorry. Put it down to word-association. They're actually a prolific Portland, Oregon-based instrumental post-rock/prog outfit, whatever you may take that to mean. Ignoring EPs, they seem to spit out about an album a year, 2011's Deep Politics being something like their eighth, a record that veers between near- (though not actual) dissonance and reflective passages, possibly heard to best effect on the near-nine minute I Led Three Lives. Guitarist Alex John Hall is credited with Mellotron, but if the upfront choir part on All The Colors Of The Dark has anything to do with a real machine, I may have to reassess my levels of hearing damage. Deep Politics is an album of sublime moments hidden amid long stretches of musical filler; whether it's worth hearing for those moments is up to you.
Grain are a female-fronted full-on retro outfit from Pittsburgh, who seem to've been going since some time in the '90s, although I don't know anything about their earlier work. Their sound on The Bad Years (their second album? Very hard to tell) focuses on yer good ol' fashioned vocals/guitar/bass/drums four-piece, vocalist Carla Simmons and guitarist Wayne Smith both doubling on various cranky old keyboards. Hoorah! Mind you, they haven't entirely ignored the last couple of decades, as Can't Lose features the band playing along with a drum loop, although the opening guitar sound on Everything You're Not rocks in a way no-one seems to do any more, not to mention the cowbell... I can't say their samplotron use is exactly over the top, to be honest: nothing audible on I Ruined Love or Can't Lose, with faint strings on Soul Session #5 (those titles!) and Broken, although the underwater flutes on Understood are rather more obvious. There's also a smattering of uncredited strings on Intro, although nothing else is credited on the track either, for what it's worth.
Grammatrain are another CCM act who transcend the 'genre' by playing 'alternative rock', or whatever you may choose to call it, rather than the insipid, near-MOR dross that passes for 'Christian music' most of the time (well, we wouldn't want to offend anyone, would we?). Flying was their second and last studio album proper and, to prove my point, Rocket Ship is actually, er, heavy, so Christians can rock, too. Kind of. Samplotron on two tracks, from vocalist/guitarist Pete Stewart, with a brief cello part on opener Jonah and upfront flutes and strings on closer For Me, stretching above the instrument's actual range.
Sweden's Grand Magus are part of the (frequently Scandinavian) current wave of seriously retro hard rock (think: Witchcraft), although I'm not sure they're one of its front-runners. It's not that their debut, 2001's Grand Magus, is a bad album, it's just a bit one-dimensional, sounding less like a band from the early '70s than like a band merely influenced by that era, with little memorable material. Largely because that's what it is. Now, Fred Estby is credited with Mellotron, but the few seconds of screechy strings on opener Gauntlet don't sound much like one to my ears. Samples? Not a Mellotron at all? Dunno, but it's enough to stick this into 'samples', at least until/if I should hear otherwise.
All the reviews I've seen of Bad Timing equate it with early-'70s rock, so is it only me that hears '77 punk in there? The first several tracks, in particular, have that 'devil may care'-ness about them, although maybe I'm just hearing their Lou Reed influences (Get Lost) filtered through other bands influenced by Reed. Influences and counter-influences... Anyway, this is Grand Mal's third album, which bravely travels a path from a raucous beginning to a rather more gentle, laid-back end, although if you're not into that New York thing, you probably won't be too into this. Flaming Lips' Steven Drozd guests on 'piano, organ, slide guitar and Mellotron' on four tracks, but it must mean collectively, not individually, as Disaster Film (how very British!) is the only one to obviously have any alleged Mellotron, with a rather screechy string part, stretching above the actual instrument's range.
Californians Grandaddy are refreshingly difficult to categorise, although their sound contains inescapable elements of the dreaded 'alt.country' ghetto. For sheer invention they outstrip any of their rivals by the proverbial country mile (sorry), incorporating elements of singer-songwriter gloom, lo-fi oddness and even prog, though I expect they wouldn't be too keen on that last comparison. Despite having existed since 1992, it was '97 before their first album proper, Under the Western Freeway appeared. To my ears, the best material is the quietest, the occasional noisier tracks sounding slightly forced. In fact, the more a track is suffused with melancholy, the better I like it, the instrumental title track being especially strong. Most of the tracks run into each other, with a noticeable 'side' gap before Everything Beautiful Is Far Away, giving the album a bit of a 'concept' feel, although I've no idea what that may be, assuming it exists at all. Tim Dryden plays various cranky old keyboards and, while none of them (or indeed, anything else) is actually listed, I can hear what sounds like two or three distinctly different late-period analogue synths squeaking, whistling and groaning away on various tracks. There's also the matter of the supposed Mellotron, with fractured choir notes on Nonphenomenal Lineage, brief, background strings on A.M.180, more upfront ones on Laughing Stock and a flute melody on the title track.
Their second effort, 2000's The Sophtware Slump, is irritatingly inconsistent; after starting really well, it completely loses the fragility of the first few tracks for several less good rockier numbers, although it tries to make amends further along, though with only partial success. The lengthy He's Simple, He's Dumb, He's The Pilot (no, I don't know either) is a gorgeous album opener, lush samplotron strings under the chorus, along with the squiggly analogue synths and fat pads of the verses, although they never quite capture the same feel again on subsequent songs. More samplotron strings on Hewlett's Daughter and Miner At The Dial-A-View.
"La Grande" Sophie Huriaux (that's 'the great, not 'the big...') formed her first band at thirteen, moving to Paris in her twenties to further her career, 2006's La Suite... being her fourth release in around a decade. It contains an odd combination of upbeat pop and more reflective, chanson-influenced material, Aujourd'hui On Se Marie being almost café music, while Egoïste is a French-language version of Martha & the Muffins' iconic Echo Beach. Philippe Huminski plays 'Mellotron' on La Fille Du Bord De Mer, although it's actually on Les Nouveaux Héros, assuming it's real, which it almost certainly isn't. I can't imagine many non-French speakers being particularly interested in La Suite..., although it does what it does perfectly well, so with no obvious real Mellotron, I think I have to say 'no'.
Grant Lee Buffalo's third album, 1996's Copperopolis is, I'm afraid to report, the dreariest load of old cock I've heard since, er, the last load of dreary old cock to which I subjected myself in the name of Music Criticism. Mainman Grant-Lee Phillips quite desperately wants to be Bob Dylan throughout most of the album, but, given his inability to write anything remotely in the Big Zim's league, he insists on torturing us with his half-arsed attempts at songwriting anyway. Harsh? Yup. I thought GLB were supposed to be better than this, so my disappointment at hearing something this limp has probably led to a harsher review than it might otherwise have got. But not much. Very little obvious samplotron from Paul Kimble, with nowt but flutes on closer Only Way Down.
The Grapes of Wrath were a Canadian powerpop band, operating at the folky end of the spectrum; 1991's These Days was their fourth album and last before their split. Apparently, it didn't go down that well with their fanbase, although it sounds like a perfectly good folky pop/rock release to me, the gorgeous electric 12-string on Days bringing The Byrds to mind, although they shamelessly rip Zep's The Rain Song on I Can't Find My Home. Naughty. Unlike many similar efforts, I can't find any references to Mellotron use (although something must have made me put it on here in the first place), the 'strings' on You May Be Right most likely being high organ notes, while the flutes on the lengthy Miracle sound like someone playing generic samples in a Mellotronic manner. The only people involved with the recording who have anything to do with Mellotrons are members of XTC, credited as The Dukes of Stratosphear, who play, er, something on A Fishing Tale, but certainly not Mellotron.
2013's High Road is the result of the band's second reformation after their '80s heyday, sitting somewhere in between powerpop and mainstream pop/rock, rather like their previous releases. Highlights include gorgeous opener Good To See You, Isn't There, I'm Lost (I Miss You) and None Too Soon, although I remain unconvinced by the cod-electronica of Picnic and Waiting To Fly's endless repetition. Darryl Neudorf is credited with Mellotron, but, assuming the background strings on Good To See You are irrelevant, we're left with the flutes on I'm Lost (I Miss You), which sound like a phrase played once via samples, then looped.
Grasshopper and the Golden Crickets are effectively a Mercury Rev side-project, led by multi-instrumentalist Grasshopper. The parent band's Deserter's Songs is something of a recent Mellotron classic (sampled, sadly), so while The Orbit of Eternal Grace, released the same year, was never going to equal it on that front, it gets a little bit of fakeotron in here and there. The album itself is a bit of a hodgepodge, some tracks (the samplotron-heavy The Ballad Of The One Eyed Angelfish or N.Y. Avenue Playground (Reprise)) working vastly better than others (the rather punky O-Ring, reverting to an earlier era of Mercury Rev, or the techno-esque Univac Bug Track). I feel that the gentler tracks work better, including both the samplotron numbers here. The Ballad Of The One Eyed Angelfish is mostly flutes, with a few strings chords coming in at the end (going over the eight-second limit), while the instrumental title track has flutes running all the way through, going over said limit in a far more obvious way.
German synthesist Mathias Grassow has apparently moved from the new age field into more experimental areas over the course of his career, which must be more satisfying artistically, if not commercially. I'd guess that 1993's In Search of Sanity finds him at the cusp of his transition, its long, drifting soundscapes (please excuse the cliché) bordering dissonance in places, or at least an absence of melody, while its pseudo-'tribal' rhythms on some tracks presumably remove it from the new age ghetto entirely. Troubles features a string part that sounds both Mellotronic and... non-Mellotronic. My guess is the then-new eMu Vintage Keys module, giving an impression of the sound without any real degree of accuracy, not helped by Grassow's insistence on sustaining chords way past the eight-second limit. In fairness, he may not even have known about said limit, or, for that matter, cared, as I'm sure he considered the sound no more than another part of his sonic palette. I suppose he had a point. Anyway, not something you're going to buy for a sampled Mellotron part, but a good album of its type, infinitely superior to your average new age warblings.
The Grassy Knoll (great name) are frequently described as 'fusion' of some description. Admittedly, there's a jazzy bent to what they do, but their combination of jazz and electronica has little in common with the '70s purveyors of instrumental excess. I suppose that's the point; this has more to do with post-rock than prog and, as such, is a fusion for the modern world. I can't personally say I find III an easy listen, but then, I doubt if it's meant to be. Nick Sansano's credited with Mellotron, but with so much sample manipulation going on, it's difficult to tell where it might be. All I can really hear is a few string chords in Blue Wires, but I wouldn't put serious money on those, frankly.
I think there's a good chance that you've already worked out Gravdal's chosen musical mode from 2010's Torturmantra's title (and you should see the artwork). Yup, it's another Scandinavian extreme metal outfit, although the most 'extreme' things about the album (their second, to my knowledge) are 'Galge's death metal vocals and the band's ludicrous corpsepainted image. Really, chaps, it isn't necessary... Incidentally, Untitled is credited to Grieg; it seems to bear comparisons to parts of Peer Gynt. Herbrand Larsen (Audrey Horne) allegedly plays Mellotron on two tracks, but as with that band's work, the murky strings on Mishandlet and Klastrert På Ambolt sound little like a real machine. So; sort-of trad metal overlaid with pointless death metal tropes and fake Mellotron. Maybe not, eh?
Calico is Boston's Gravehaven's second release, a kind-of prog metal (mini-) album, long on technique, short on memorable material, sadly. I've clearly seen a historical reference to vocalist Ben Grenville Garceau's Mellotroning, but all I can hear is some vague, sampled flutes on closer Revive. Fail.
The casual observer might label Sweden's Graveyard 'heavy metal'. Wrong. If ever a band deserved the appellation 'hard rock', it's Graveyard; the bluesy, lightly distorted sound they utilise on their third release, 2012's Lights Out, harks right back to 1972. Counter-intuitively, the fact that the band all look like Dave Brock actually helps matters, which isn't something you can say very often. OK, ever. Their material channels Humble Pie, The Groundhogs and lesser lights such as Leafhound (spot the occasional Budgie-isms on Endless Night); solid, riff-heavy-yet-melodic rock, without a hint of any hideous '80s AORisms. Is it actually any good, though? Not bad, not brilliant, almost certainly better live; rather like most of their influences, in other words. Best tracks? Probably opener An Industry Of Murder and the bluesy Hard Times Lovin', but I'll probably say something different tomorrow. Nils Dahl helps out on keys, including credited Mellotron on Slow Motion Countdown, but the strings on the track, buried in the mix, really don't convince. Sample City, methinks. So; worth the effort? Do you like your rock relentlessly retro? If so, then a full-on 'yes', but don't even think about it if you're partial to even the tiniest hint of 'glam', 'cos you won't find it here.