REVIEW: Evilyn Strange – Mourning Phoebe (2013)

EVILYN STRANGE – Mourning Phoebe (2013)

I’ll be the first to admit that I rarely listen to new bands anymore, even though 20 years ago I was on top of every new band coming out, good or bad.  It was a pleasure to hear a strong album like Mourning Phoebe.  Then I found out that the band Evilyn Strange aren’t newcomers, although Mourning Phoebe is the first release under that name.  When they first started releasing hard rock as Double Eclipse, it was the height of Brit Pop, grunge, and all that.  Thankfully times have turned since then.

E STRANGE_0002I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect based on the artwork.  What I ended up getting was a pretty solid mix of hard rock, heavy metal, grunge, pop rock, and other assorted loud music.  The first song “The Ballad of Evilyn Strange” is a perfect example.  The verses have an Alice In Chains drone-y vibe to them, while underneath I hear a guitar hook reminiscent of “Tower’s Calling” by Europe.  With that already in the mix, the choruses blast out in singalong fashion.

There’s a lot of great playing here, particularly the guitar playing.  The solos sound like a great mix of shred and composition. I also hear a lot of that 80’s LA metal sound that I like.  It’s mixed up with more progressive moments, piano breaks and plenty of hooks.

I found the album to drag a tad towards the beginning.  “Your Eyes Give You Away” and “Everything”, while both great songs, are a bit slow for me at the start of an album.  To say they’re ballads would be selling them short though, they’re more dramatic songs with heavy moments as well.  “Everything” picks up at the end, and goes into something almost like Poets and Madmen-era Savatage for a minute!

There’s an epic quality to many of the songs, and others just rock out. “Just A Little” is a good example of a solid hard rock song that delivers hooks directly and immediately. “Love Finds You” also rocks solidly with a slippery slide guitar. I’m a sucker for the slide. Good song, great chorus.

The only other thing I would criticize is the drum sound. I’m not a big fan of it, but the truth is you get used to it and it doesn’t detract from the songs. Songwriting is more important than a snare drum sound.

Evilyn Strange are an English/Swedish band consisting of twins Phillip and Al Strange (vocals & bass, drums & keys respectively) and guitarist Mikael Johannesson. Lemme tell you, Johannesson smokes! I don’t know his exact influences, but I think I can hear a bit of Dio-era Vivian Campbell. Either way, he absolutely cuts it.

Finally, I think the cover art is cool and eye-catching, and I like that they included a guitar pick in the CD. To me it’s a touch like this that keeps physical product interesting in the face of downloading.

I like this album. I wish them success.

4/5 stars
For more info:
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15 comments

  1. I need to check this out. Sounds like they are right up my alley.
    But, Mike, with so many new bands that has come out in the last 10 years or so and still coming out, you really should start to check out some new stuff. Based on what I have noticed on your taste in music, there are shitloads of bands that you will probably like. It would be waste to miss out on all that great music. :-)

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      1. If they’re not I could always burn you some CDs if I can get my lousy CD-burner to work again, so you can at least see what you’re missing. ;-)

        I’m gonna give the Evilyn Strange album a listen as soon as I get home from my vacation in a couple of days. And then iI’ll post my review as well.

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        1. Cool! Looking forward to it.

          Their singer Phillip tells me that they have already been victims of a lot of bootlegging, so the official sites I posted are the best ways to hear it.

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        2. By bootlegging, does he mean illegal downloading or that soemone has bootlegged the album and tried to sell it as an original?

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        3. When it comes to “illegal DL”, I’m neither pro nor against. I believe that it could work both ways for many artists, depending on how you look at it. If record companies had any brains to their names they could have used this technology to their advantage ages ago, when Lars Ulrich and his army of record executives shut down Napster. Instead they thought the battle was won and now all they got is Spotify. Which is, if you’re an artist, one big joke.

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        4. Yes, my fellow blogger Every Record Tells A Story just wrote an excellent article about Spotify. I recommend checking him out (his last review was Tesla!)

          We don’t have Spotify in Canada, and what I buy outweighs what I download at least 1000/1, so I feel I am solidly not guilty of anything and I don’t owe anybody.

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        5. Here’s a cool thing. I haven’t bought as many records as I have done in the last five years or so since the early 90’s. And you know why? Downloads. The so called illegal ones. Not only have I found new music, I have also changed my mind on quite a few bands and artists only because I could check them out before buying. If I didn’t have that possibilty, I would never have bought those records. The days when I bought an album because I liked the single/video are long gone. I ended up with too many crappy CDs that way.
          If everybody was doing it this way, downloading wouldn’t be any worse than borrowing records from a buddy and home tapeing them, like everybody did before internet. Too bad ther are so many freeloaders out there who just takes and takes and never pays for anything.

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        6. I work with a lot of guys that are younger than me — between 10 and 20 years younger. The younger they get, the more they seem to think that music (and also to a certain extent, movies) are something that is free for everyone. I came into the office with a new movie and a few people said, “Why did you buy this? Why didn’t you just download it? I could have given it to you.”

          That’s too bad. Because otherwise, downloading is a great thing for the reasons you mention. I used to watch the video channels and read magazines to find out about new bands. I used to buy a lot of debut albums by bands without hearing a single note. And I still like the surprise of buying an album without knowing anything.

          Guys like you and me aren’t the problem, we more than make up what we download in sales. And like you said, this is no different from the tape trading. I ended up buying on CD, every single tape I ever recorded from somebody!

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  2. Looking at that album cover, I thought this was gonna be another one of those bands you loved back in 1992 nd that I had totally missed. Turns out that’s only partially true – it’s a new record by guys who’ve been around a while! Anyway, from your descriptions, it sounds like something I could definitely dig. I’ll dig deeper. Thanks for the heads-up.

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  3. Listened to this album through my earphones at work today. I’m buying this. F**king awesome!!! I just love it when I hear new bands that totally floors me. It has happened quite often in later years. I’ll review it when I get five minutes.

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