Anchor Lane – Casino
Release Date: 31/01/2020
Running Time: 33:23
Review by Paul Monkhouse
Very few new bands come into the public eye with a fully formed and unique identity but it seems like Anchor Lane have just managed this very feat on “Casino”, their debut album. With a solid commitment to being road dogs, having supported the stellar likes of Cheap Trick, Tremonti and Eagles of Death Metal, alongside appearances at some very major festivals it’s obvious that these four young guys from Glasgow have the drive and work ethic to be in the big leagues. It also speaks volumes that, having worked with some of the best in the business, Wayward Sons/Little Angels/Gun/Waysted frontman and super producer Toby Jepson chose to make ‘Casino’ his next project and, with his brilliant ear for sonic enhancement and the bands songwriting skills, it’s a perfect match.
Kicking off with the fuzzed up, lurching beat of ‘Blood & Irony’ Anchor Lane certainly distance themselves from the million and one other new hard rock outfits out there and this slightly unhinged opener promises something different. Listening to the track is akin to being in the ring with Muhammed Ali at his prime; the jabs come thick and fast with the occasional flooring blow to the solar plexus. They follow this with single ‘Fame Shame’, shifting the emphasis to a snotty glam metal vibe that is a wild eyed and lurid stomp through Sunset Strip, careening though the speakers like an out of control motorbike in a china shop and laughing like crazy whilst doing it.
Another twist with the Louisiana swamp blues of ‘Voodoo’, a track as bewitching as its title, the track deftly mixing light touches with a chorus as thick as molasses. The titular ‘Casino’ is a heavy duty rocker that swings, making it impossible not to sway and move to, singer Conor Gaffney putting in a truly gritty and powerful vocal as guitarist Lawrence O’Brien lays down some truly funky licks and the rhythm section of Matthew Quigley and Scott Hanlon lock into a solid groove. The visceral modern blues of ‘Clocks’ once again highlights their great songwriting flair and versatility, marking them out as absorbers of ideas who mould them into something uniquely their own. Very rarely do you get a band this brave to push the envelope on a debut album and, whilst some might want to stick to a rigid formula, it speaks volumes that Anchor Lane show themselves to be true music fans, embracing these multiple influences. A lot of the success of the album is the sky-high production value that Jepson brings and he’s obviously a fan of the bands willingness to take risks, bringing a great guidance and cohesion to the whole.
The bands magpie-like ability to pull in great music from everywhere is seldom better illustrated than on ‘Stone Cold Hearted’ as it opens with a Portishead ‘Glory Box’ style intro but soon transforms into a Led Zep meets Bad Company drama-filled monster of a track, soaking in dynamics. ‘Shell of Me’ is a much more laid-back number, showing their softer, more introspective side perfectly and ‘Flatline’ throbs with an electric current, its singalong chorus underpinned by gut wrenching bass and drums and the howling feedback of the guitar.
Another frontman joins the fray in the shape of Black Star Riders’ Ricky Warwick, his voice giving extra weight to the gang vocals in the pounding ‘Dead Run’. The band really rip things up, led by O’Brien’s wild fretwork and this proves to be one of heaviest tracks on the album as it races towards its conclusion. The album closes on another slice of fresh and potent modern rock as ‘Honey’ glories in a jagged interplay between the vocals and guitar, its stop/start chorus certainly leaving an impression. Anchor Lane are certainly forging their own path and, with a debut as good as this, the sky is most certainly the limit. The arena tours beckon…
01. Blood & Irony
02. Fame Shame
06. Stone Cold Hearted
07. Shell Of Me
09. Dead Run
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