ANCHOR LANE – Casino +1 (2020)

ANCHOR LANE - Casino +1 (2020) full

Recorded at Vale Studios in the Midlands with renowned rock musician, writer, and producer Toby Jepson (Wayward Sons, Gun, Little Angels) “Casino” is the debut album from British young promise ANCHOR LANE. Rock legend Ricky Warwick (Black Star Riders, Thin Lizzy, The Almighty) co-wrote a couple of tracks, performed vocals, and helped into the studio.

What is obvious from the outset of ”Casino” is their maturity, as musicians, songwriters and a band – you’d think they’d been doing it for a lot longer than they have and aren’t in their early 20s.
But there’s more to the album than just that, there’s a forward-thinking attitude to the music.
It’s a ten track effort and doesn’t even come close to the forty-minute mark. It gets in, does what it has to, and leaves.
It does so by leaving a trail of destruction in its wake and rather than tidy it, you just hit “play” again to repeat that feeling of being overwhelmed by its magnificence.

Indeed, opener “Blood & Irony” sets out the stall from the beginning, taking things in a pretty moder slant before it builds to its crescendo. Assisted by Ricky Warwick (yes, that Ricky Warwick) in songwriting duties, they’re pulling no punches from the start and whilst he only contributes on here and a later song, his influence echoes throughout with the quality of writing being nothing short of superb.
“Voodoo” continues the idea of challenging what you’d expect from this band. Imagine a Free or early Bad Company number but with more snarl and an eager bite. Full of passionate bluesy, soulful guitar work, it’s so left-field for them but it works so damn well.

There are more traditional rockers, as the punchy and rambunctious lead single “Fame Shame”, the latest in a long line of songs to tackle our ever-growing reliance on social media, technology and modern day noise. The title track combines the two sides of the preceding songs for a swagger-laden jaunt.
There’s the slow-burn of “Stone Cold Hearted”, an immediate earworm, begging for radio airplay and one of those golden songs perfect for clubs and arenas alike. Featuring a massive hook and groove to match it, it revisits themes found on “Blood & Irony”, “Casino” and “Clocks”.

Elsewhere, the closest to the ballad of the album is “Shell of Me”. A touching number, it’s deft and moving in equal parts, the acoustic strains bulk it out to match the tender, whispering vocals and the guitar work is loaded with as much emotion as the screams.

Meanwhile, the final three songs of the album are relentless. I dare you not to sing along with the string of “na na na” moments they’ve built into “Flatline”. “Dead Run” has Warwick return on songwriting duties but you’ll also hear his golden pipes provide backing vocals.
And the finale of the song with its bass and drum runs will have your neck hair at attention, much in the same fashion as a Motörhead song.

As the closing notes of the groove-laden “Honey” bring the record to its end, there’s no other way to describe this album than as something incredibly special.
Conor Gaffney’s vocals are incredibly varied, hitting the a number of peaks and valleys and his guitar work bounces effortlessly off Lawrence O’Brien’s to ensure the dual guitar setup is not only justified but essential to create engaging melodies full of pathos, warmth and technicality.
Meanwhile, drummer Scott Hanlon and bassist Matthew Quigley work to provide solid rhythms. They’re full of skill and heft, constantly pushing the songs forward, mighty when needed and restrained at other times. A pairing which works seamlessly, feeding off one another to add a layer of robustness which can’t be emulated by other bands.

Even on a production level, this is flawless and shows that Toby Jepson really does have something of a Midas touch when it comes to production. Everything comes together as a complete song, nothing is buried at any point, the melodies sit on an even footing with the rhythms.

”Casino” is everything you want from a classic rock album but also what it should be in 2020.
There’s a careful balance between variation and cohesion in songs, masterfully produced and brought to you by an incredibly skilled and talented band. Full of passion with something to say, this album is a game-changer and there’s not a fault to be found.
Highly Recommended


01 – Blood & Irony
02 – Fame Shame
03 – Voodoo
04 – Casino
05 – Clocks
06 – Stone Cold Hearted
07 – Shell of Me
08 – Flatline
09 – Dead Run (feat Ricky Warwick)
10 – Honey
11 – Whiskey In the Jar (Thin Lizzy cover 2020)
recorded with members of Wayward Sons, Skam, Revival Black

Conor Gaffney (vocals)
Lawrence O’Brien (guitar)
Matthew Quigley (bass)
Scott Hanlon (drums)



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