The Liverpool duo Red Flag (brothers Chris and Mark Reynolds) released their debut album, Naïve Art, in 1989. Red Flag, like other late-'80s/early-'90s bands such as Camouflage and Cause & Effect, offer a similar mix of gloomy, synthesizer-driven dance-pop made popular by synth rock kings Depeche Mode. Derivative yet melodic, Naïve Art is a decent debut, though it eventually runs out of steam. Red Flag's obvious debt to Depeche Mode is immediately apparent in the minor club hits "If I Ever" and "Russian Radio." Though the production is a bit rough around the edges, the combination of cold synth beats and the emotionless vocal approach (similar to Depeche's Martin Gore) makes perfect dancefloor fodder for the disaffected goth pop club crowd. Like Depeche Mode's best work, what makes Naïve Art bearable is Red Flag's obvious gift of songcraft. Both "If I Ever" and "Russian Radio" are comparable to some of Depeche's best work, and although much of Naïve Art sounds the same after a while, the album flows along quite nicely. Those who criticize Depeche Mode for being pretentious and "wimpy" certainly won't find any redeeming qualities in Red Flag, but Naïve Art should satisfy fans of the genre. Recommended.
Flying the flag for British rock throughout the Seventies and well into the next decade, Climax Blues Band were at the forefront of high quality, entertaining music, performed with equal success ‘live’ and on record. This ten track selection was first released in 1980, a time of change and conflicting influences. But whatever the moods affecting the musicians, they always played with maximum passion and expertise, as is revealed on ‘Flying The Flag’. The opening number ‘Gotta Have More Love’ is closer to disco pop than the blues that first inspired the group, but whatever style they espoused, Climax always delivered songs with cool expertise. And the core feeling for the rockin’ blues can always be found in performances like Peter Haycock’s outstanding ‘So Good After Midnight’ and the aggressive ‘Blackjack And Me’, that are among the highlights of a vibrant high flying album.
Even though ANIMAL FLAG have been making music since 2009, it’s best to think of the Boston-based band’s new album, VOID RIPPER, as a beginning rather than a continuation. For starters, it’s the first release from the band’s current lineup — but perhaps more importantly, it’s another entry in Animal Flag’s continual reinvention. “I tend to think of music and the music I’m apart of as an album-by-album endeavor,” frontman Matthew Politoski says. “Each one is its own thing that creates a universe.”