Video of the Day: The Smoking Hearts - “Seatbelts”
The Reasoning announce new album and tour dates

UK progressive rockers The Reasoning are delighted to announce that their fourth full-length studio album ‘Adventures In Neverland’ is completed and to be released via Esoteric/Cherry Red Records on 24th September 2012.

Bassist Matt Cohen comments: “The past couple of years have been an extraordinary journey with all of us being tested to the absolute limit. Nevertheless, we’ve found the strength to get up off the floor and to write and record what we believe to be our most adventurous, exciting and dynamic album to date.”

Adventures In Neverland is released via Esoteric Antenna/Cherry Red Worldwide on 24th September 2012.

The CD will also be available at all their forthcoming shows including the Adventures In The City Tour with Touchstone:

Tour Dates:

09-09-12 Student’s Union Cardiff UK (w/Marillion)
27-09-12 Poppodium W2 Den Bosch NL (w/Touchstone)
28-09-12 Poppodium Nieuwe Nor Heerlen  NL (w/Touchstone)
29-09-12 Dru Cultuurfabriek Ulft  NL (w/Touchstone)
30-09-12 Bergkeller Reichenbach  Ger (w/Touchstone)
01-10-12 Logo Hamburg  Ger (w/Touchstone)
12-10-12 The Garage London  UK (w/Touchstone)
13-10-12 Tivoli Theater Wimborne UK (w/Touchstone)
14-10-12 The Globe Cardiff  UK (w/Touchstone)
15-10-12 The Robin 2 Bilston  UK (w/Touchstone)
16-10-12 The Duchess York  UK (w/Touchstone)
21-10-12  The Assembly Leamington Spa (w/ FISH)

For more info, visit www.facebook.com/TheReasoning

Album Review: Cloudscape - “A New Era”

This album is a strange one. Not in a bad way, it just crosses over so many genres, it’s a bit of a white knuckle ride. It ranges from melodic, to thrash, to power, to prog, and various others in between. It’s certainly an album of immense diversity.

Taking all that into consideration, this album is a very accomplished piece of work indeed. It’s certainly a feat of musical brilliance. Yes, you might gather that I like it, rather a lot actually. It’s a thrill ride from start to finish. It grabs you by the throat and drags you kicking and screaming all the way as it twists and turns, and peaks and troughs. The vocalist has an amazing voice, and it’s extremely powerful. It sits with the music perfectly.

Musically, this album is very good, and it doesn’t suffer from over-production. It’s raw and energetic, and certainly takes no prisoners. This album was dropped in my lap, and quite honestly, it’s completely knocked me sideways. It has that certain “something” that really piques my interest. I don’t know what that is, but it really got my juices flowing. This music excites me.

Unsurprisingly, these guys are from Sweden, and there seems to be a HUGE spotlight on Scandinavia right now, as there are some fantastic bands coming from that are of Europe. Cloudscape are no exception, they can hold their own against the many great bands out there. Their song writing is also very good, whether it’s an out and out rocker that makes you shake your fillings loose, or intricately constructed prog masterpieces of epic proportions, they take it all in their stride, and execute it with alarming precision.

I am very pleased to have been introduced to Cloudscape, as they are certainly a band I shall be keeping an eye on. These guys rock! Although as New Era is their 4th album, it looks like I’ve got a back catalogue to seek out. Give these guys a listen, because they are VERY good.

Video of the Day: Sharks - “Sweet Harness”
Video of the Day: The Safety Fire - “DMB (FDP)”
Album Review: Richard Hawley - “Standing At The Sky’s Edge”

Oh I know what you’re thinking, I can almost hear it now. “A Richard Hawley review on Pure Rawk? Bluddyell, he’s really lost it this time!” Bear with me on this one, dear reader. Because, and this is just my humble opinion here, this isn’t just an album that I think will appeal to your average rock fan, it’s an album that I think in 2012, the rock scene arguably needs quite badly. Confused? Read on and I’ll explain…

I’m pretty sure most of you know Richard Hawley as a man who’s produced a few albums over the last decade to a fair degree of critical and commercial success. And I’ll admit it, I like ‘em - they’re the sort of mellow acoustic tunes that you can just imagine coming out of a dusty old Wurlitzer jukebox in a quiet northern pub somewhere. Good stuff but maybe not what you’d class as the sort of thing that’d feature on this website.

Which is what makes “Standing At The Sky’s Edge” such a surprise - this is almost a 180 degree turn for Hawley. Gone, for the most part, are the gentle acoustic arrangements and crooning vocals replaced by squalling guitars, thundering drums and bass and a definite early ’70s ambience. If the idea of Led Zep jamming with Hawkwind floats your boat then songs like “She Brings The Sunshine” and “Time Will Bring You Winter” will definitely appeal to you - they’re big epic sonic megaliths and definitely fall into the category of being rock music.

Yet “Standing At The Sky’s Edge” isn’t hopelessly rooted in the past - the frantic distorted paranoia of “Down In The Woods” and the title track which takes the early ’70s rock template and twists it round a tale of inner city urban wasteland nightmares, puts a whole new and much welcomed spin on the formula. And that’s why this is such a vital album - you may have noticed in recent years that there’s been a glut of bands emerging who are simply content to phone in their imitation of early ’70s rock without any attempt to put any sort of original ideas into the package. Xerox rock, Zep clones, whatever you want to call them. Well, if you’re getting as tired of bands like that as I am then this album is the tonic - listening to it makes those revivalists desperately trying to pretend that anything after 1975 in the music scene never happened seem even more obsolete than they already are..

Even though he’s clearly a man who enjoys and respects the music that this album is influenced by, Hawley is smart enough to realise that music has to adapt or else it dies on the vine. “Standing At The Sky’s Edge” does to early ’70s classic rock what the Jim Jones Revue have been doing to ’50s rock ‘n’ roll for the last few years - drags it kicking and screaming into the 21st century and gives it a much-needed dose of modernism while keeping the spirit of the original movement intact.  Heavy as concrete and boldly striking out into new ground, this is bloody good. Get it.

Video of the Day: Sucioperro - “To Nothing”
A Very Personal Interview with Jonny Cola


Jonny Cola speaks to Dave Ashworth about being diagnosed with advanced chronic kidney disease and the future for the A Grades.

Regular readers will no doubt be familiar with Jonny Cola & The A-Grades, as we are rather keen on them here at Pure Rawk. What many of you won’t be so aware of however, is that in April of this year the eponymous Jonny Cola was given some very bad news.

Having been suffering from minor symptoms such as tiredness and bad cramps for a few months, Jonny went to see his doctor to get checked out, initially thinking it was a gluten intolerance. A day later, he received a phone call telling him to report to his nearest A&E immediately, where he spent the Easter weekend on a drip and having tests.

He was diagnosed with advanced chronic kidney disease, sometimes known as end-stage renal failure – in his own words, basically, his kidneys are fucked.

We met with Jonny to see how this has changed his life (apart from the obvious of giving up drink and other unhealthy pursuits), and what it means for the future.

That diagnosis must have been a massive shock, how has it affected things for you day-to-day?

Pretty profoundly really, so many things have had to change. The main symptom is that I get very tired, and some days I just feel like shit. Most days I don’t though, I just don’t have as much energy. Today’s one of those days.

The biggest impact really is time. Initially it was just a lot of hospital appointments, but now its three days a week for up to five hours a time that I’m in hospital for dialysis.

To allow for the dialysis, Jonny has a central, or AV line implanted in his chest. The doctors are currently in the process of joining an artery and a vein in his arm, in medical terms a fistula, which will mean he can move on to dialysis by needles. When Jonny makes a fist, it raises quite alarmingly out of his arm – to touch, you can feel the blood flowing, faster than any pulse would ever lead you to suspect it does. More of a buzzing motion than a pulse.

It’s a good party piece, people love it then jump away in horror when they touch it! This (he indicates the fresh bruising) is from when they tried the needles yesterday, which half-worked, but it’s not ready yet.

How have you’re friends and family, and the rest of the band, taken the news?

Initially they’ve been very shocked, understandably, but everyone’s been very supportive. The band have been very understanding, even though it puts us in a very restrictive position with what we can do. It’s quite a lot to ask of people to stick with something that was going on such a strong upward path, but that we’ve had to cut short for a while.

Where does the music, and Jonny Cola & The A-Grades, now sit in your list of priorities?

To be honest, it’s still up there right where it was. I have been thinking it over, because something like this does make you re-evaluate. But if I’ve tried placing the music lower in my mind, it just hasn’t felt comfortable. If anything, it’s made me more sure that I want to be doing this, it’s just how to get there – and maybe reconsidering where ‘there’ is for us as a band.

I think I, and a lot of others out there, have been following the old music industry model of being signed, and being looked after by a label, for too long. That method is probably is dead now, unless you’re on the X-Factor, in which case it’s only ever alive for about six months anyway.

The up-side, as much as there is an up-side to kidney failure, is that it’s shown me I can adapt to quite radical changes. If you’d have said to me a year ago that I’d entirely give up drinking overnight, I’d have laughed at you, but I’ve done that. If I can make changes like that, who knows what else I can adapt to.

A lot of people have said over the years that music is the most important thing in their life, but having had to sit down and seriously consider that, is that true for you?

Creating and performing music is, yes. For me anyway, it’s different for everyone. The important thing in life is having a passion, because it wouldn’t be much of a life if you didn’t.

I won’t lie, I had thought seriously about whether it was worth the stress, all the work and the effort. There’s five people in Jonny Cola and The A-Grades, it’s not simple agreeing on things, and arranging dates to do them, but every time I’ve thought about it, I’ve always come back to ‘yes’ and wanting to carry on. I wish it was a bit easier sometimes, but ultimately, it’s worth it, because the results are great, and I still love it.

You’ve done a few, fairly intense, live shows in the few months following the diagnosis, that must be really hard work for you now…

It’s knackering. I give it everything for that half hour, and when you’re tired it really is everything you’ve got left, after these last few gigs I’ve had a several days feeling rough afterwards. It’s worth it, but it really has been necessary to pull back from that now, I couldn’t be touring, or even playing every week.

But yeah, I suppose that all would make it more intense. It’s certainly fucking honest! I don’t think anyone could accuse us of not meaning it right now.

The next stage of your treatment as I understand it is a kidney transplant – what stage are you at with that?

I’m waiting for the transplant, and it’ll be a live donor. I was lucky enough to have my fiancé Heidi, my mother and my brother and sister all wanting to get tested, as well as numerous offers from friends. It’s now come down to Heidi who will be my donor. We’re just ticking the last few boxes, but the estimate we have is November. And from there, it’s about three months to get back to health.

It’s almost ridiculously romantic in a way isn’t it, your fiancé giving you a kidney…

I know - we were hoping to get married in September, we’ve had to postpone that, but instead this year I’m getting one of her internal organs!

I couldn’t have gone through any of this without her, even putting the donor organ aside for a minute, I just don’t know what would have happened if I’d had to go through this on my own. I can’t imagine coping, she has made all the difference.

If all goes well with the transplant, where does that leave you for the long term?

It should mean that I can have a normal life. A relatively sensible normal life in many ways, obviously I can’t get wankered every night, but there aren’t too many restrictions, although I will be on immunosuppressants and various other medications for life to stop my body rejecting the donor organ.

I won’t be able to travel to countries affected by malaria (anti-malaria treatments react badly with immunosuppressants) and I won’t be able to eat grapefruit or Seville oranges because they react with the drugs as well – who knew? But that’s no big thing unless you’re living in a hotel in the 1970s.

That should give me about 15 years of normality, and then, unless there are massive advances in stem cell research or something similar, I’ll most likely have to go through all this again, albeit with more time in hand to plan for it.

You’ve been very positive about getting back to the band as a full project next year, so presuming everything does go well, where does that leave the future of Jonny Cola & The A-Grades?

Before this all kicked off, we were working on a new EP, but knowing how unpredictable the next few months will be, we decided we might as well use the time to do an album. It seems like a sensible thing to do right now, something more cohesive as a band.

We did a couple of tracks with David Ryder-Prangley from Rachel Stamp, that he produced and Jez (Leather, guitars) mixed. That’s Straight To Video, which we’ve played live a lot, and a new recording of Marlborough Road, which we’re very pleased with. We’ve got a couple of others that we’re working on at the moment, and we’re going to carry on writing and recording until we’ve got an album.

Once I’ve got past the transplant, we can start planning a live return and work out how we’re going to release the record. I would expect at the moment that we’d have a new album ready for early summer 2013.

What are your goals and hopes for the future, for yourself and for the band at this point?

For myself, it’s just getting well, and get back to some sort of normality, that’s my main goal. Also eventually getting married, which is not something I ever thought I’d be doing. It’s something I’d never considered in my life, at all. It’s bizarre, but it just feels totally right.

For the band, getting the album done is the main thing, and it’s good to have that as something achievable to work towards. I just want all I’ve ever wanted from this really – for more people to hear it, and to enjoy it.

From all at Pure Rawk, we want to wish Jonny and Heidi all the best for the operation, a return to normality, and for the wedding sometime soon. Here’s to exciting new things in 2013 guys!

In the meantime, you can catch other A-Graders at the Some Weird Sin clubnight run by Simon and Mauro on September 22nd at Dusk Til Dawn, Archway, featuring Pussycat and The Dirty Johnsons, and Jez’s other band, Yeah And She Has Red Lips Too.

www.jonnycolaandtheagrades.net

Solo Photos by Heidi Heelz, Awards shot by Trudi Knight.

Single Review: Dead Identities – “God Bless Your Black Heart”

I’m pretty sure most of you are familiar with this tune already after we put the video up on this here site the other week but just in case you’ve somehow missed it, it’s a good ‘un.

Rather like a fine wine, the DI’s only seem to get better with age and “God Bless…” may be their strongest single to date - lightning speed riff, catchy-as-hell chantalong chorus, three minutes of excellence basically. It’s certainly an encouraging taster for their forthcoming third album.

Go track it down through all good online record stores and let’s get this band some of the success that they’re long overdue. Message over.

Video of the Day: Devil Sold His Soul - “A New Legacy”