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Music Review


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Forever on the Road

 

Artist: Healthy Junkies
Label: Banana Castle
RRP: £13.99
Release Date: 25 September 2020


Banana Castle Records releases Forever on the Road, the fifth full album (following 2018’s Delirious Dream) from UK Psych-Punk band Healthy Junkies (a reflection of mental health). The band consists of Nina Courson (originally from Paris) on lead vocals, Phil Honey-Jones on guitar and vocals, Dave Whitmore on bass, and Tony Alda on Drums – although they were obliged to record using an anonymous drummer because of Covid-19 restrictions. They formed in 2009, playing their first gig the following year in Brighton. They have toured extensively in the UK, France and Holland. Forever on the Road contains songs written an inspired by their US dates in 2018...

We lead off with 'Intro', which has electronica, guitar histrionics, odd drumming, and then a chord sequence a la Black Sabbath. It’s a purposeful chaotic mess which sorts itself out with the beginnings of vocals before it fades away. 'Last Day in LA' is the heavily promoted single. It has a nice riff, power and melody. The female vocals are nice and clear. Short, simple and excellent. A drum beat and keyboards introduce 'Beat Box LA'. Guitar noises come in which become more prominent as harmonic tones. Discordance takes over from the middle until the end, when the guitar begins to take shape again. 'Transportation to Nowhere' has Psychedelia turn to out-and-out Rock and male vocals. This one benefits from both genres, the guitar having both feet in the former. 'Halloween in LA' incorporates eerie keyboards with delay effects. This is a soundscape that was obviously written for the band’s documentary of their tour in the US.

'En Route to San Diago' has keyboards introduce overdriven guitar and ghostly vocals. Definitely Indie and Psychedelia influenced. Again, a chaotic backdrop with a hint of mysticism. Atmospheric. 'The Puppeteer' is a piano piece with background bells and bottle sounds. 'Sunset Strip' is a good, energetic Rock/Punk song. At one minute and twelve seconds, far too short. 'On the Way to Portland' is more of a Brit Pop song. It’s a nice offering which is melodic and entertaining. The squeaking guitar could have been toned-down for this one. But certainly a single in the making. 'Give Me Back My Kiss' races from the traps. A simple but effective Rocker. There is rumbling bass in the middle… and it kicks right back in again.

'The Sunlight Has Gone' has a whirligig piano opening. Atmospherics emerge from the edges with an off-kilter Angelic effect. An echoing rush washes over the piece. However, at five minutes duration it hardly changes, and is far too long for a Rock album. 'Mayday' is the best of the bunch on offer here. It is a Commercial Rock song using male vocals and female backing vocals. This makes a good driving song and is fun, too. There are latter screams and nice guitar. Clever use of vocals as the Mayday call becomes progressively more manic. 'Streets of Olympia' is another great Pop Rock offering. It has a galloping riff, and more melody to the female vocals. 'Something in the Way' has reverb vocals against a simple chord sequence guitar. This one is slower and more retrospective. It’s quite ghostly and atmospheric. Next up is 'Underground City'. Both vocals tackle this one together. A moderate piece, but backed by a riffing guitar. There is a nice use of keys and electronica to lead back into the riff.

'Walking Away' has a cello sample and piano introduce this ballad of sorts. A little weird, as it doesn’t quite know what it wants to be. Da da da choral vocals and sampled instruments make this close to a orchestral piece, but the guitar pops up often with its trademark screeches, as if to remind the others that he’s still here. We conclude the proceedings with 'Tricky Situation' – a great upbeat Pop Rocker to finish with. This is what every Rock, Metal or Punk album should do: leave them wanting more. Plenty of energy, a good hook, repeating chorus and plenty of meat on the bone.

This album started as a mostly instrumental soundtrack to their 2018 US tour diary rockumentary, but the music which emerged couldn’t be kept as background music and evolved into such Rockers as the single 'Last Day in LA'. So says the PR blurb. I beg to differ. Tracks 3, 5, 7, 11 and 16 are obvious recordings for the documentary film, and sprinkled throughout the other dedicated Psychedelic Pop/Rock songs causes the overall album to lose its power and continuity. Without these the release would make a great driving collection – and score higher! My idea would have been to release these tracks on an EP to promote the film, leaving all of the energetic songs together. Nevertheless, a good album, and a deserving.

8

Ty Power