Exposé Online banner

Exposé Online

Not just outside the box, but denying the existence of boxes.
Covering music from the fringes since 1993.


Icarus Peel's Acid Reign — No Choir, No Cowbell
(Mega Dodo Billywitch B1009, 2022, CD / DL)

No Choir, No Cowbell Cover art

It was while listening to “Come Angel,” track 3 on Icarus Peel’s No Choir, No Cowbell album, that I hit upon why I like it so much. Peel has the knack of writing songs that feel like I’ve known them for decades even though they are new and original. There are two cover tunes on the album, but Peel’s own material is very much of a piece with the late-60s psychedelic vibe I grew up with, presenting a distinctive variation on what Jimi Hendrix, Love, and others were doing back in the day. He straddles catchy songcraft with expansive guitar solos and sonic experimentation that, barring the clarity of the recording, could have come straight out of 1969. I wouldn’t say he’s a great singer, but he gets the job done in a rock ‘n’ roll way, and the melodies are good enough that it works. He is, however, a very good guitarist, and his playing, both rhythm and solos, is one of the highlights of the music. He’s got his licks down, able to scream out a crazy lead or lay back with echoes in chiming chords. The wah-wah pedal is his friend, and they take care of each other admirably. Jay Robertson’s drumming has that light jazzy touch that was heard a lot back in the 60s but fell away later with the rise of hard-hitting technical players. Andy Budge is a gem on the bass, providing lots of busy fills that really bring the arrangements to life but also having the sense to lay back and keep it simple when the music calls for that. For listeners familiar with Peel’s work (like the excellent Shallow Oceans from 2020), snatching up No Choir, No Cowbell should be a no-brainer; for those who haven’t heard Icarus Peel’s Acid Reign yet, this is an excellent place to start.

by Jon Davis, Published 2022-07-16

No Choir, No Cowbell is Icarus Peel’s new album and a reference to a 60s letter Brian Jones sent to his bandmates about his approach to music. Since blues artists like Howlin’ Wolf didn’t need anything to enhance their music, Brian did not want any fancy additions like choirs, cowbells, or strings to The Stones’ songs — a rule The Stones violated years later with “Honky Tonk Women” and “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.” So to the present day, No Choir, No Cowbell accurately describes Icarus Peel’s approach to his Hendrix-influenced neo-psych with Acid Reign. The ten songs on the album are all different, eight originals and two covers. The first is a cover of The Stones’ “No Expectations” from Beggars Banquet. Icarus took this classic country-tinged ballad, extended it, and made it into his own acid-drenched Krautrock psych jam. The other cover is Arthur Lee’s classic “Signed DC.” Icarus gave this song an eerie vibe with a much harder edge than the original, along with Mellotron. In between there are various musical touch points with Roger Waters, Jimi Hendrix Experience, and Procol Harum along with some jangle guitar work that merges 60s psych themes with contemporary music. No Choir, No Cowbell is an excellent album that is another contender for the best album of 2022.

by Henry Schneider, Published 2022-08-25

Filed under: New releases, 2022 releases

Related artist(s): Icarus Peel

More info


What's new

These are the most recent changes made to artists, releases, and articles.