New music through old ears: Plumb Wombat Motor Club

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After far too long, it’s time for some new music as entertainment editor John Turnbull checks out recent releases from Luke Plumb & the Circuit, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Motorhead and the Wombats.

New Album from a New Artist

Luke Plumb & the Circuit: Turn & ReTurn

Influenced by Keith Richards and The Velvet Underground, it’s safe to say Luke Plumb isn’t your run-of-the-mill mandolin player. He spent the last dozen years touring with Shooglenifty, a collective once described as a cult-acid-croft hypno-folkadelic band. No, I don’t know what that means either. But here’s what it sounds like…

Inspired while wandering through Edinburgh after a drinking session, Turn & ReTurn is grounded by a combination of trumpet and mandolin, and elevated by the twin vocals of Plumb and the talented Kate Burke from Trouble in the Kitchen. Switching between male and female perspectives allows the album to cover a lot of ground thematically, rewarding repeat listens.

Plumb and Burke are joined by Shannon Birchall (ex-John Butler Trio) on Double Bass, Jeremy Dunlop on guitar and Rory McDougall on drums. Trumpet and flugelhorn player Eamon McNelis also contributes vocals, making for a diverse listening experience across the album.

If you’re open to music that doesn’t sound like everything you hear on the radio, give Luke Plumb & the Circuit a listen.

Standout tracks: Ancient Light, Still Shining, Unbroken

Sample lyric: "I need a door to close and a window to open." (Unbroken)

Verdict: 7/10 — different from anything else you will hear this week

New Album from an Old Artist

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club: Wrong Creatures

Originally known as The Elements, but forced to change their name by another band with the same moniker, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club was formed by bassist Robert Levon Been and guitarist Peter Hayes. Hayes had recently departed art-rock band Brian Jonestown Massacre and was looking for something a little more down-to-earth — hence BRMC.

Named after Marlon Brando’s gang in The Wild One, BRMC hit the ground running in 2001 with the Zeppelin-influenced B.R.M.C., led by cracking tracks Whatever Happened to my Rock n Roll and Spread Your Love, a song quickly licenced by multiple advertisers for TV commercials and a Vin Diesel movie.

After releasing the government-baiting Take Them On, On Your Own in 2003, the band stopped trying to sound like Led Zeppelin and started introducing elements of folk, resulting in the well received 2005 album Howl. The band continued to release another album every two to three years, but I must admit I lost interest somewhere along the way.

Listening to Wrong Creatures, I sort of remember why. Well performed and competently produced, Wrong Creatures seems to lack momentum, meandering from track to track without making any significant impact. There are a couple of decent songs and a few good riffs along the way, but some listeners may long for the days when they were trying to sound like Plant, Page, Jones and Bonham.

Standout tracks: Question of Faith, Little Thing Gone Wild

Sample lyric: "How can you wag if you got no dog." (King of Bones)

Verdict: 4/10 — vaguely generic

Posthumous Release of the Week

Motorhead: Under Cover

Singer, bassist and hellraiser Lemmy Kilmister was born in Stoke-on-Trent in 1945 and died in Los Angeles 70 years and 4 days later. Inspired by a Beatles gig at the Cavern Club, Lemmy got his start in novelty act The Rockin’ Vickers, moved on to a gig as a roadie for guitar legend Jimi Hendrix, then joined space rock outfit Hawkwind in 1971. After playing bass with Hawkwind for 4 years and singing on their hit Silver Machine, Lemmy was unceremoniously fired in 1975 for drug possession.

Wildly annoyed at what he perceived as hypocrisy, Lemmy immediately went out and formed a band called Bastard and started playing faster and louder than anyone thought possible. After a while he changed the name to Motorhead on the advice of his manager, which you have to admit was a commercially savvy decision. He also started taking more drugs, marking a lifelong affair with crystal meth, then popularly known as speed.

Often named as one of the most influential bands in the history of heavy metal, Motorhead released 21 studio albums, 13 live albums and 13 compilation albums over subsequent decades, no less than five of which were greatest hits packages. Their final release was a bunch of cover versions titled Under Cover, and it’s pretty f**king awesome. Including versions of songs by the Rolling Stones, Judas Priest, Sex Pistols and the Ramones, the standout tracks are covers of David Bowie’s Heroes and Metallica’s Whiplash — two very different but fascinating versions.

If you’ve ever been a fan of heavy metal you owe it to yourself to pick up Under Cover – the final shout of one of the most distinctive voices of all time.

Standout tracks: Heroes, Whiplash, Breaking the Law

Sample lyric: "We’ll never stop, we’ll never quit, 'cause we are Motorhead." (Whiplash)

Verdict: 9/10 — rest in peace, Lemmy. I hope they have drugs wherever you are.

Ch..check It Out

The Wombats: Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life

Formed in Liverpool, England, in 2003, the Wombats are a band who don’t mind a bit of a laugh. After releasing a bunch of EPs and touring incessantly, the band broke big in Japan, releasing a limited edition album called Boys, Girls and Marsupials in 2006. They used this success to launch their career back home, repurposing many tracks from BG&M for their 2007 album A Guide to Love, Loss and Desperation.

Featuring the poppy hit Let’s Dance to Joy Division and the quirky Patricia the Stripper, this album pretty much set the tone for the Wombats career. Not quite a novelty act, but with a fair share of novelty elements to their songs, kinda like The Offspring crossed with Imagine Dragons.

Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life is the Wombats' fourth album, treading a familiar path with first single Lemon to a Knife Fight. It’s upbeat and vaguely amusing but not particularly memorable, a description which could be applied to most of the album. It’s well produced and by no means terrible, but after three listens, there aren’t many songs that I’d add to a playlist.

Resolutely British, the Wombats are frequent visitors to Australi, and would probably be fun to catch at a festival. Your mileage may differ.

Standout tracks: Lemon to a Knife Fight, Out of My Head

Sample lyric: "My hands shake like jellyfish when you’re near." (Cheetah Tongue)

Verdict: 6/10 — shiny, happy people

Books by John Turnbull are available on Amazon and Kindle, including supernatural thriller Damnation’s Flame; action/romance Reaper, black comedy City Boy and travel guidebook Bar Trek: EuropeDamnation's Flame by John Turnbull is also available in paperback in the IA store HERE (free postage).

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