EP Review: Flicker Rate – Skylight

Flicker Rate Skylight

17-year-old Spencer Bassett, a clearly talented guitarist and songwriter has released three EPs under the moniker Flicker Rate. Released in April 2018, Skylight EP is a non-stop showcase of clean jangly guitar work.

From the outset, my mind went to the musical DNA shared by bands like This Town Needs Guns and Long Island Sound. There is an almost jovial quality to the guitar parts as the melodies bounce along, in the same way that the pizzicato strings convey a similar emotion in Holiday for Strings by David Rose and his Orchestra (1942).

The musicianship is excellent with the production keeping the listeners focus where it should be. Elements fade in and out of focus thanks to the mix and that fills the void where one usually is expectant of vocals, but in this instance, the instrumentation does an excellent of carrying the songs. The songs, well paced, are over before the ideas become stale. In fact, the whole EP is over before you know it.

Well worth listening to if you like the instrumental math rock style or are in the mood for some light and cheery relaxation music.

Short and sweet.

Flicker Rate links:

Bandcamp: https://flickerrate.bandcamp.com/album/skylight-ep

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/flickerrate/

Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/flickerrate/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/flickerratemusic/

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCnKvPbjUogHvNR6MHBkZAnA

This review was originally posted by Murray Stace at his site Relative Silence

Album Review: Klone – Unplugged (Live Acoustic Album)

Klone Unplugged Album Cover

Hailing from France, Klone are a prog rock band signed with Pelagic-records. They have released an acoustic album Unplugged, acting as a pseudo greatest-hits. Sourced from their previous two albums, the songs stripped bare and performed acoustically take on a new life. Throw in a fantastic Depeche Mode cover of “People are People” and you have a curious proposition.

The songs were recorded live at Théâtre de La Coupe d’Or, with two exceptions recorded in the studio. They offer an opportunity to hear musicians with nowhere to hide.

I’d not heard Klone before writing this review, now based on the singer’s voice alone I want to hear more. This is not the first time a rock artist has taken their music and stripped away the bells and whistles to leave the pure songwriting on display.

The first artist that springs to mind for me is Alice in Chains with their infamous Live on MTV album and video. It shows a band ravaged by drug abuse, yet still capable of incredible art. The songs usually associated with distorted guitars and walls of noise become more delicate and nuanced and take on a new life.

Wow. That cover of “People are People” is good.

The stock footage video that they’ve cobbled together fits well with the musical content. Depeche Mode seem to be a consistent thread amongst bands that I like. One of those hidden influences woven into sounds of music that has taken the next step down that sonic road. From In Flames covering “Everything Counts”; Mike Shinoda‘s (Linkin Park) excellent remix of “Enjoy the Silence”; A Perfect Circle‘s and now Klone‘s cover of “People are People”. Each version demonstrates what people take from the band and how they honour it in their own style. Those covers listed above are so vastly different, yet they all honour the same band. It’s brilliant.

If there is one thing I could criticise about this release, is the lack of backing vocals. As powerful and beautiful as the singer’s voice is – it’s hard not to imagine it being better with harmonies or other voices to play off. I’m not expecting The Beach Boys levels of vocal harmonies, but something to add another dimension to what is a very solid vocal performance.

The musicianship receives top marks, there is nothing that stands out as distracting from the song. Not having heard Klone in “Rock mode” I’m now curious how the songs will translate. No doubt for fans of the band they will have the same nerves about hearing their favourite tracks done acoustically.

Well worth a listen, it’s a great low-key soundtrack for a weekend.

Klone Unplugged Review Promo Pic

Klone’s new album Unplugged is due out on Pelagic Records on February 17 2017

Official: http://www.klonosphere.com/klone
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/kloneband
Soundcloud: http://www.soundcloud.com/kloneofficial
Label: http://www.pelagic-records.com

This review was originally posted by Murray Stace at his site Relative Silence

Album Review: In Between – Locustvale

In Between Locastvale
Entry point: Locustvale
Personal favourite: Skin on Skin

From the opening lines this sounds promising. I’ve never heard of In Between before, two tracks into the album and I’m drawing comparisons to Rise Against and that pop influenced punk rock genre. Please note that the “pop influenced” is far from a bad thing in my opinion, more bands would do themselves favours by taking what they do and simplifying. If the song is good, it will show through.

The vocals are on point, harmonies are there when required and the screaming/yelling is tastefully done.

Production on the album is solid and unobtrusive, the songs are able to stand on their own legs without sounding manufactured or as so often happens with this style of music, it doesn’t sound like a garage demo that’s been released.

A note to any band who has the means, yet is still considering releasing less than studio quality productions: Don’t.

You’re only doing yourselves a disservice. If you don’t want to lose the raw energy of performing live or don’t want to be too polished, tell your engineer and producer that. If you’re a good live band, capturing that in the studio is easy. Listen to Rage Against the Machine‘s self titled album and tell me that it lacks energy or is too polished.

Locustvale is relatively two dimensional, but at 27 minutes that isn’t a concern – album is over before you know it.

The track Skin on Skin has a slightly slower more anthemic feel to it, which is where I get the Rise Against comparison. By slowing things down the vocals have more space to breathe and carry the track forward.

The track Locustvale (video above) is a decent summation of the rest of the album, the drums and bass drive it forward and leave plenty of space for the vocals to shine.

In my opinion this genre works best when the instruments drop in and out to add dynamics and contrast to the music, when albums are comprised of songs that aren’t all the same kick-snare-kick-kick-snare pattern at the same tempo.

Locustvale has the songs for those days of driving with the windows down on a hot summer road trip. Fans of this genre should find plenty on this album to enjoy.

– Murray

This review was originally posted by Murray Stace at his site  Relative Silence

Album Review: Helmet – Dead To The World

Helmet Dead to the world review album cover


Starting point: Life or Death or Bad News
Personal Highlight: Look Alive


Like any Australian who watched Rage after coming home from a night out or waking up early on a weekend – I’m aware of Helmet.

They are the band with a pink guitar, the shorts wearing guys with a video that kept popping up every time a heavier act got to program the songs for the show.

Armed with lots of stock footage of industrial machines, their classic 1990’s video for the track Unsung has become etched into my mind as a 3am Saturday or Sunday morning nostalgia trip.
The fact that this song aired so regularly obviously meant that they were an influential band to many, yet I never really had exposure to them beyond the Unsung video.

The years pass from my late teens, the 3am Rage viewing sessions become less frequent. Adulthood sneaks in and so do responsibilities.

Playing in bands comes and goes and every now and then you jam with a musician who plays two bars of a Helmet song and is clearly distraught that you hadn’t picked it up.
“Maybe he didn’t hear properly” they think to themselves, I’ll play it again and maybe sing a few words”.
My blank stare continues.
The cycle repeats, they play it again and this time throw in a bit of chorus.
“Surely he must know the chorus”
Nothing. I am clearly an idiot, clearly the four year age gap between myself and those who seem to be the Helmet crowd is enough.
“Dude, it’s Helmet!” they exclaim.
“Oh, yeah pink guitar, Unsung…. From Rage!”
“How can you not know Helmet” they say with a thinly veiled look of disgust like I’ve kicked their cat.
Clearly I am not true metal. Funnily enough the other bands where this situation happens to me all the time are Nirvana and the Deftones.

If I were to play them a Black Sabbath riff that isn’t Iron Man, Paranoid or War Pigs I’d probably get the same blank stares and pull my best cat kicker face right back at them. It’s part of an attitude that I hope I’m weaning myself off, the close minded aspects that come with playing to a genre of music rather than making music that you like, no matter the genre.
Back on track. . .ear

Last year, mid Reuben binge I found myself drawn to the line in Return of the Jedi (The Reuben song, not Star Wars movie), a brutally honest narrative on the prospect of being an independent musician in the Internet age.

‘Guitarist and Songwriter’,
That’s what I thought I was,
I never had no dreams of being a waiter,
But these here Helmet rip-offs,
They don’t but my lunch,
So I will get a real job in the office.

OK, so there they are again. Helmet keep popping up.

Another band who I respect and adore mentioning Helmet, this time immortalised in their lyrics, not just in an interview.

I shall have to investigate Helmet and see what all the fuss is about. Thankfully for me, Helmet have a new album coming out, so here goes.

It turns out the reason I’ve not heard much from Helmet lately is that they’ve not released an album in six years. Dead to the World is the 8th full length release from Helmet and their second in the last 10 years.

From the first 30 seconds of Dead to the World all of the elements are there. There is no extended instrumental opening or theatrics, the first verse has started in the first five seconds.

The vocals are double tracked and dirty, the bass and drums are driving the song forward relentlessly. From the get go the attitude is there, this is rock music full of the counter-culture staples that think of when you think of the genre. The rebellious, angry at everything and everyone rock music.

“Catch phrases, punchlines, guns, bluster, ammo, incivility, impatience, murder. You, me, us, them, life, liberty and the pursuit of property.” – Page Hamilton, Helmet front man.

It reads like a George Carlin monologue. The intent is clearly there, the attitude is there. Do the songs match up to the intent?

Bad News features some harmonies that I can’t help but subconsciously link to the Beatles. There is songwriting talent on display here.

Does it sound like a new album? Not necessarily, it could have easily been released in the 1990’s aside from the mastering differences.

For me it becomes a great what if game, I think that I would like this album more if it had more of a modern production sound, but would doing that make it not sound like Helmet?

The songs are near as makes no difference four minutes or shorter, so nothing overstays the welcome. Look Alive near the end of the album provides a beautiful slow contrast compared to the rest of the album, its inclusion makes the album feel more whole.

People new to Helmet might find some songs on the album that please, particularly fans of  90’s rock (think Jon Bush era-Anthrax). Using the people I know who love the band, Helmet fans will buy this album either way.

This review was originally posted by Murray Stace at his site Relative Silence

Album Review: pg.lost – Verses

PG Lost

pg. lost – Versus (2016)

Entry point: Ikaros
Personal highlight: Versus

Adding a vocalist is something that every instrumental band I’ve been in has had suggested at one point or another. I’m sure someone at a live gig has come up to pg.lost and said “great sound, where’s your singer?” This music easily lends itself to having a powerful vocalist soar melodically over the top of what’s there. People would buy it. With the right singer, I certainly would.

That being said, it doesn’t have a vocalist – the music must stand on it’s own legs (Hint: it does).

Synthesizers and electronic drums play a large part in rounding out the sound of Versus. Without knowing any background of why pg.lost called this album Versus, it could have easily been a battle between synthesized electronic music and the old school analogue of rock music. Thankfully the two realms don’t put up a fight – the balance between them is perfect in my opinion.

Melding rock music with electronic music can feel tacky at times – particularly with heavier music – yet here it has been handled with mastery. Every note feels deliberate, like a Hitchcock movie – the pauses are there to enrich the inevitable payoff.

The post-rock staples of drones and reverb drenched guitars are used more sparingly, supported by electronic drum samples and synthesizers Versus doesn’t suffer from being different.


Yes, the songs are long with the shortest being over 6 minutes but they don’t dwell. There are slower tunes on the album but enough is happening for them to feel like a breather from the energy of the rest of the album, rather than an anchor to weigh it down. When the album does slow down it gets heavier and more guttural. When it speeds up, the synthesizers and electronic drums drive it along.

Versus features enough variance that you’re unlikely to get bored, it takes time to build yet doesn’t drag. This album has depth that suits itself to many listens in it.

I’d not heard of pg.lost until I’d heard Versus and now I think I’ll be doing some digging through their back catalogue.

Well pleased, do recommend. It fits in the category of “would be ecstatic if I wrote it”.

– Murray

Versus is released on September 16th 2016 internationally.

This review was originally posted on Murray’s site Relative Silence