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Lionize - Nuclear Soul album review

Rock and soul sing out on band’s latest album

Cover art for Lionize - Nuclear Soul album

Lionize are probably best known here as Clutch’s contemporaries and support act (they were also signed to Clutch’s Weathermaker label), though their history stretches back over a decade and includes stints working in Jamaica with Steel Pulse.

Their reggae roots are less evident here with a sound that’s as much Thin Lizzy and Free as it is Solomon Burke and rhythm and blues.

It’s a heady combination topped off by the distinctive, smoky and occasionally raw vocals of diminutive vocalist Nate Bergman (think Patton Oswalt with Paul Rodgers pipes), who croons, burns and beats his way through a slew of songs, buoyed along on the swirl of a Hammond organ and a thrashing snare drum.

They know when to lay off the gas too, Bergman’s soulful chops brought to bear on the aching Ain’t It A Shame and the thrilling Let You Down, where he gets to channel his inner Joe Cocker.

To call the whole thing life-affirming would be to understate it somewhat.

Philip Wilding is a novelist, journalist, scriptwriter, biographer and radio producer. As a young journalist he criss-crossed most of the United States with bands like Motley Crue, Kiss and Poison (think the Almost Famous movie but with more hairspray). More latterly, he’s sat down to chat with bands like the slightly more erudite Manic Street Preachers, Afghan Whigs, Rush and Marillion. He ghosted Carl Barat’s acclaimed autobiography, Threepenny Memoir, and helped launch the BBC 6 Music network as producer and co-presenter on the Phill Jupitus Breakfast Show. Five years later he and Jupitus fronted the hugely popular Perfect 10 podcast and live shows. His debut novel, Cross Country Murder Song, was described, variously, as ‘sophisticated and compelling’ and ‘like a worm inside my brain’. His latest novel The Death And Life Of Red Henley is out now.