THIS OCEANIC FEELING is a new Rock&pop / Prog supergroup fronted by singer, songwriter and producer Chris Braide who was a founding member of The Producers (with former Yes man Trevor Horn) - the combo who delivered us a great album some time ago - and a very recommended solo record last year (both featured here on the blog).
The lineup is completed by bassist Lee Pomeroy (Rick Wakeman) and The Producers' drummer Ash Sloan (also Billy Idol band).
This Oceanic Feeling will release their debut album "Universal Mind" on July 17, through Cherry Red Records.
While rock&pop and prog still may seem like strange bedfellows, there are people who bestride this deceptive rift – people such as talented Chris Braide. The guy co-wrote songs for the likes of Christina Aguilera, yet released an album with Geoff Downes (Downes Braide Association), so he knows what it's all about.
"Universal Mind" is a melodious treat from start to finish.
The compositions are big in arrangements, shiny, with delicious power-pop melodies blended with rock trousers on and occasionally proggy colors. However, this is not Neo-Prog.
Think '90125'-era Yes mixed with the late The Police, and of course, if you have listened The Producers, there's a lot of them as well.
After his solo album and living in the US for a while, Braide returned to UK and on linking up again with Sloan, they found their old chemistry in The Producers was still there. The idea of forming a new band immediately took shape.
The muse was swiftly awakened and an album’s worth of new songs came into life, the lyrics tasked to face the unresolved dualism between fake and real self and their eternal fight for dominance. On inviting Lee Pomeroy to join them their distinctive creative venture solidified further and This Oceanic Feeling was born.
"Universal Mind" has a distinctive British feel, but also has a transatlantic modern flavour to it.
This sound is a combination of the three individuals varied backgrounds. Chris Braide is renowned for producing and writing songs pop stars such as Beyonce, Lana del Rey or Christina Aguilera, and recently producing and co-writing Marc Almond’s new album. Drummer Ash Soan’s diverse pedigree includes playing with the likes of Adele, Cher, Dido, or on Billy Idol’s latest album, while Lee Pomeroy has worked with some of the longtime established greats (ELO, Rick Wakeman, It Bites, last year touring with Steve Hackett on the 2014 Genesis Revisited Tour).
A diverse range of music to say the least, but each at the top of their individual games.
We find juicy light proggy numbers on "Lie Detector", the uplifting title track "Universal Mind" or the atmospheric "Wake Up", balanced by more rock&pop tracks like the moving "Logotherapy" (very 90125 and one of my favorites), the expansive "Johnny Tragic" or the beautiful "Season Of Light".
Most the songs are upbeat and with a positive vibe, bright melodies and smooth vocals by Braide.
This Oceanic Feeling's debut "Universal Mind" is varied, artsy, melodic and very, very enjoyable all over. There are more musical ideas here than most performers can manage on half a dozen albums, and these skillful talented musicians have the ability to put them together wonderfully.
This CD rewards repeated plays because you won't pick out everything on the first listen. It's absolutely crammed with great widescreen melodies and musicianship while using the standard songwriting themes that we all know and love, and easy to the ear arrangements.
Waves of approval for… This Oceanic Feeling.
01 - Lie Detector
02 - Put Down The Gun
03 - Radio
04 - Logotherapy
05 - Universal Mind
06 - Intensive Care
07 - Wake Up
08 - I Play Debussey
09 - Johnny Tragic
10 - Karma Camera
11 - Season Of Light
12 - Finale
Chris Braide - vocals, guitar, keyboards
Lee Pomeroy - guitar, bass, backing vocals
Ash Sloan - drums, percussion
Wednesday, July 1, 2015
A band with a name as awful as ELECTRIC GUITARS can't possibly be good, can they? The name is so terribly generic, and if you add to that the name of their album; "String Fever", things turn worse. Well, I am wrong.
When I read the Copenhagen-based quartet was fronted by guitarist & vocalist Søren Andersen - Mike Tramp lead guitar man, Glenn Hughes band and solo artist which very good last album was featured here on the blog - I knew there would be quality here.
"String Fever" is already available in Denmark, with a wide European edition to be distributed soon.
On Electric Guitars, Andersen is joined by Mika Vandborg, one of the most talented and respected guitarists in Denmark (who also handles lead vocals).
Yes, as you would suspect, "String Fever" is twin-guitar attack classic rock / hard rock album, played with attitude and with high caliber riffs all over.
Electric Guitars got a fever – a string fever indeed, rocking throughout the album with electrifying songs like the hot title track with straight up nod towards Jimi Hendrix material.
Then you have a track like "White Flag" with a bluesy hard rock feel ala Led Zeppelin yet much more modern. But again, it re-interprets the old school rock'n'roll approach rather well and without it sounding like an embarrassing derivative copy.
"Let It Rock" blast with a Thin Lizzy / AC/DC rock for the ages, being aired in all its glory. Again, a surprisingly good, strong rendition of a classic sound.
In the middle of the album, the sound becomes more melodic and mainstream with "Girlfriend", which could easily become a radio hit overnight. There’s even a 'na na na' part in it adding catchiness. Actually this is one of the highlights of the album, and it works out really well balancing this heavy rock CD.
The next tracks maintains the slower tempo (nice ballad on "Day Off"), before the string fever takes over, with the sexy and rockin' "She Wants My Guitar".
"The Thinner The Eyebrow The Crazier The Woman" which actually is out as a single right now, also gets the rock going, while the album finishes with a more melancholic and dark sound in the form of the groovy and modern "The Man From Outer Space".
When you opt to reference old greats in as obvious manner as Electric Guitars do here, you best have the songs to stand up for comparison. While it's, of course, unfair to expect the Danes to live up to such giant expectations, we also have to give credit where credit is due.
"String Fever" is probably the most convincing Classic Rock / traditional Hard Rock album I've heard by a Scandinavian band in a long while. That's saying something considering how many dozens (if not hundreds) of wannabe bands we have in this genre right now.
So do yourself a favor: ignore the limitations of their band name and dive straight into the world of classic riffs delivered with attitude mixed with retro rock'n'roll melodies.
This album has it all.
01 - String Fever
02 - White Flag
03 - Running Out Of Time
04 - Let It Rock
05 - Girlfriend
06 - Day Off
07 - She Wants My Guitar
08 - Follow Your Heart
09 - Finally Me
10 - The Thinner The Eyebrow The Crazier The Woman
11 - The Man From Outer Space
Søren Andersen - Guitars, Lead Vocals
Mika Vandborg - Guitars, Lead Vocals
Peter Kjøbsted - Bass, Backing Vocals
Morten Hellborn - Drums, Backing Vocals
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Tuesday, June 30, 2015
Formed in Rome, Italy, in 2011, EDEN is a new quintet which are presenting their self-produced / self-released debut, in their own words, influenced by great acts such as Europe, Journey, Survivor, Europe, etc.
And they don't lie, believe me.
Yeah, these legendary band's influences are unashamedly present on "Eden", but who cares when are blended with this quality. On the other hand, which band of this genre - read pure '80s AOR - at some point, does not sound like these referential acts?
The first thing that impress here is the very good production obtained by the guys. The rhythm section is clear and punchy, the guitars sharp and the vocals, including the elaborated 5-part harmonies (all members contribute) are great!
And the songs... you may be influenced by many artists, but if you do net own the talent to craft a good song, you're lost. Not the case with Eden.
The guys have penned some memorable tunes if you ask me.
Just check the glorious atmospheres of "Dreamin’, the Jorney-esque catchiness of "Fear Has Gone", and the pump of "I Know You Know" (which reminds me of Da Vinci). It has to be said, all tracks are heavily keyboard-driven plenty of flourishes and candy-floss all over.
The highly harmonized "My Time" is a mid-tempo with mysterious synths and an overall Scandinavian feel, followed by the more uptempo "Enemy" akin Europe (and why not mid-eighties Pretty Maids), and "Feel the Fire" adds a classic touch to the proceedings thanks to vintage keys.
"A Change in Life" is a lovely ballad (great pianos), then closer "Into the Night" ends the CD in a pretty epic fashion full of anthemic choruses and again, elaborated harmony vocals.
Usually a first, well done self-managed album is the antechamber for greater things to come, with many specialized labels interested in the band.
In the case of Italians Eden, this is true too, but their self-titled debut is already a mature product that deserves a place into your rockin' AOR collection NOW. Seriously, these guys are more than a promise, they are already a great combo creating some memorable melodies and sing-along choruses.
Don't miss "Eden", the highly enjoyable debut by these Italians with a brilliant future ahead.
01. Sounds from Eden
03. Fear Has Gone
04. I Know You Know
05. My Time
07. Feel the Fire
08. A Change in Life
09. The Call
10. Into the Night
Patrizio Izzo: Lead Vocals
Paolo Castellani: Keyboards & Backing Vocals
Stefano Mastrangeli: Guitars & Backing Vocals
Giordano Latini: Bass & Backing Vocals
Alessandro Iovannitti: Drums, Percussion & Backing Vocals
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I was waiting for many moons forthe new album by HUNGRYHEART, as the guys are without a doubt one of the finest Melodic Hard Rock act coming out from central Europe. Led by guitarist Mario Percudani and with more than 20 years of existence, "Dirty Italian Job" it's only the third album by Hungryheart, not the most productive band if you ask, but as on the previous, these guys never disappoint.
Both first Hungryheart albums (2008, 2010) made a big impact to the Melodic Hard Rock / AOR world, great samples of pure late '80s / early '90s sound & style with a fresh approach and most of all; with strong songs.
Yes, this band knows how to deliver well crafted songs with strong arrangements, catchy hooks & choruses, a crunchy guitar sound and powerful vocals.
One of the reasons of the pretty delayed new CD is that these guys are experienced and extremely talented musicians really busy in the musical business, having played and collaborated with big names of this genre such as House of Lords, Mitch Malloy, Bobby Kymball, Vinny Appice, Issa, Kelly Keeling and many others.
"Dirty Italian Job" was produced Mario Percudani himself - if this name does not ring a bell on you, he has co-produced the last records of Lionville, Mitch Malloy, Ted Poley, Axe, and more, so, we're talking about a serious cat here.
Additionally, talented Alessandro Del Vecchio contributes keyboards, and the album has been mastered by senior engineer Brad Vance (Foreigner, Mr. Big, Ritchie Blackmore) at Red Mastering Studio, California.
From the start, Hungryheart makes clear they are a classy Melodic Hard / AOR act, kicking-off with the really '80s uptempo rocker "There Is A Reason For Everything", fueled by a big groove, Josh Zighetti's smooth vocals and Mario's superb guitar lines.
"Back To The Real Life" sounds like it jumped out from Bon Jovi's New Jersey album while in "Nothing But You" the band delivers a great ballad. In "Shoreline", the first single, we have a killer melodic rock anthem and one of the highlights.
"Devil's Got My Number" is another groovy rocker driven by contagious riff, while "Nothing But You" is a compelling ballad adding cool acoustics.
With "Bad Love"(Eric Clapton cover) the boys take this already classic rock track, they put their personal identity, heart & soul and make it even better than the original. Brilliant version.
The bluesier "Second Hand Love", the rockier "Right Now" and the beautiful midtempo AOR "You Can Run" are yet more highlights from the new record.
Closer "All Over Again" mixes Hungryheart strengths into one song, timeless melodic rock with and AOR with an unmistakable late '80s feeling full of charm.
"Dirty Italian Job" sums up greatly all the stupendous attributes of Hungryheart, simply put, one of the best Melodic Hard Rock acts you'll find out there nowadays.
It's their more mature record to date, no filler in sight here, just quality stuff played with heart & soul that will please each and every single fan of this genre.
01. There Is A Reason For Everything
02. Back To The Real Life
04. Nothing But You
05. Devil's Got My Number
06. Bad Love
07. Second Hand Love
08. Time For The Letting Go
09. Right Now
10. You Can Run
11. Rock Steady
12. All Over Again
Josh Zighetti: Lead & Backing Vocals
Mario Percudani: Guitars, Backing Vocals, Lead on 4, 7
Stefano Scola: Bass
Paolo Botteschi: Drums
Paolo Apollo Negri: keyboards on 2, 7, 10
Alessandro Del Vecchio: keyboards on 1, 4, 6, 8
Giulio Garghentini: backing vocals on 8
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Monday, June 29, 2015
Swedish singer Tony Niva is a veteran musician who started his musical career in 1987 fronting many cult bands such as Zanity, Swedish Erotica and Axia but he's probably best known for being the lead singer in Lion's Share.
But Tony's very own baby is NIVA, the band he started in 1993 and released a highly praised album before putting the project on hold for many years to sing in Lion's Share. Niva as band returned four years ago releasing 3 stupendous Melodic Hard Rock albums (featured here on the blog) but there was another album recorded in 1995 after the first but never released.
While waiting the brand new NIVA album this year, Tony is releasing through his own label this 'lost recording', entitled "Relievin' Rain".
The present musical path of NIVA is elaborated Melodic Hard Rock, however in its origins the band was heavier, with a strong European Hard Rock edge. This style was predominant on the debut, and of course also on this "Relievin' Rain" recorded after around 1995-96.
Here Tony's voice sounds more powerful than today and the band, punchier. At the time of the recording the only stable members were guitarist Robert Jacobsson and bass player Peter Anderson, both onthe debut CD too.
The songs "Relievin' Rain" are rockin' and groovy, like "Save My Soul", "Rainbow Man" or "Falling Down", the latter with Tony Niva sounding a lot as Mats Leven, and musically, like Lion's Share.
Other cuts are even heavier, close to melodic metal ("Burn the Bridge"), others pretty experimental like the crazy heavy of "Freakshow".
The more Melodic Hard oriented track is "Wings of Freedom", a dynamic song driven by arpeggiated guitars and nice verses in the vein of Michael Bormann's Charade.
The press release says; "Expecting something different from Niva? Then this release is for you!".
Well, it's absolutely right, "Relievin' Rain" is not the Melodic Rock affair of recent Niva, this is a different beast, harder, groovier and... darker.
Despite of being shelved back in the day, it was not due a poor production: everything here sounds perfectly recorded and clearly mixed.
It's, indeed, a different side from Niva.
01. Relievin' Rain
02. Save My Soul
03. Lying To Get Your Trust
05. Rainbow Man
06. No mans Land
07. Wings of Freedom
08. Eternal Flame
09. Burn the Bridge
10. Falling Down
11. Middle of Nowhere
Tony Niva - vocals, keyboards
Robert Jacobsson - guitars
Peter Anderson - bass
Anders Biederbeck - keyboards
Dan Götensten - drums
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Sunday, June 28, 2015
Specialized German label AOR Heaven, through their 'AOR Heaven Classix' series, has reissued Digitally Remastered with bonus tracks the first two -and best- DRIVE, SHE SAID albums.
This New York based AOR project was initially put together as a solo venture by former American Tears and pomp giants Touch leader, the talented singer, keyboardist and composer Mark Mangold. But soon lead vocalist / multi-instrumentalist Al Fritsch joined the project, and Drive She Said born.
Although both play most of the instruments, several first class session cats and artists provided their skills on both records.
"Drivin' Wheel" was the second effort from Drive She Said, and my favorite. But to be honest, both first records from Mangold / Fritsch are pure Melodic Rock / AOR gems.
Follow-up to the majestic self-titled debut, "Drivin' Wheel" is much harder at times which perfectly fits the two main protagonists and their fellow musicians like guitarist Tony Bruno of Danger Danger fame, Canadian melodic rock icon Aldo Nova, From The Fire's bassist Paul St. James, or Fiona & Benny Mardones on backing vocals among others.
With a vocal style like a cross between Lou Gramm & Joe Lynn Turner, Al Fritsch's leads soar on all tracks, perfectly complemented by Mangold backing vocal harmonies & keyboard flurries, plus a sharp guitar work of all involved.
On songs like "Veil Of Tears", title track "Drivin' Wheel", the diamond "Hard To Hold" (with great guitars by Aldo Nova) or "It Just Keeps Comin" (just check Tony Bruno's awesome guitar solo), Drive She Said sounds quite Melodic Hard, akin Foreigner.
But Mangold can't fight with his AOR heart, and the awesome opener "Think Of Love" and the terrific, pure '80s mid-tempo atmosphere of "It's Gonna Take A Miracle" are the highlights. Both alone worth this album, but there's more!
Just check the superb ballad "When You Love Someone" (with Benny Mardones contributing greatly), the melodic rock version of Bad Company's "Can't Get Enough", or the anthemic "Just For The Moment".
DRIVE, SHE SAID's "Drivin' Wheel" is not usually mentioned on Melodic Rock / AOR 'top of all time lists', but it's a genre milestone. All tracks a simply awesome, the arrangements are unique, and the melodies top notch.
Digitally Remastered by Chris Lyne, this AOR Heaven remaster sounds fantastic, and we have 3 excellent previously unreleased tracks (really good pre-production sound). Don't miss the 'action movie AOR' of "Never Say Never"... its title says all.
"Drivin' Wheel +3 AOR Heaven Classix" is strictly limited to 500 copies, so do not waste more time and grab you copy NOW, this is a MUST HAVE in any Melodic Hard Rock / AOR collection.
01 - Think Of Love
02 - Drivin' Wheel
03 - Hard To Hold
04 - When You Love Someone
05 - Can't Get Enough
06 - Veil Of Tears
07 - It's Gonna Take A Miracle
08 - It Just Keeps Comin'
09 - Just For The Moment
10 - Do You Believe
11 - Never Say Never [bonus track]
12 - You Never Know With Magic [bonus track]
13 - Hold My Heart [bonus track]
Al Fritsch; vocals, guitar, bass, keyboards
Mark Mangold: keyboards, backing vocals, drums
Tony Bruno: guitar on tracks 2, 4, 8
Aldo Nova: guitar on track 3
Paul St. James: bass on tracks 1,2 6
Rick Kolster: 12-string guitar on track 3
Ray DeTone: additional guitars on track 8
Benny Mardones: backing vocals track 4
Fiona: backing vocals tracks 8, 10
George Morton, Perrita Kitson, Mike Charzuk: backing vocals
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Without a doubt, SKAGARACK was one of the pioneer Scandinavian Melodic Rock / AOR acts, and together with Pretty Maids, the finest coming out from Denmark. Their four albums are all utterly essential in any collection.
While the first two are pure keyboard driven AOR, their 3rd added more guitars to the proceedings.
In "Big Time" (1993), Skagarack's 4th and last album, the band slightly turned their style into more Melodic Hard Rock sounds, still retaining the band's classic AOR pedigree.
As requested, here's again the recent Digital Remaster of this really good album.
"Big Time" is usually relegated in the fan favorite lists in favour of the first gems, but it's an absolute cracker as the previous ones. In fact, I think this one includes some of the best Skagarack's tunes in history.
Just check the awesome Melodic Hard Rock bliss of "Somebody Like Me" and "Ain't You Got A Mother", the pure AOR heaven in "It's Never Too Late" or the irresistible melodic line of "Hold On Just One More Time".
Already very well produced and sounding great on its original edition, this "Big Time" remastering sounds incredible, noticeably enhanced and clean, better than ever, including a bonus track as plus.
This is a Must Have people.
01 - It's Never Too Late
02 - Ain't You Got A Mother
03 - Somebody Like Me
04 - I Want You
05 - Hold You, Love You, Give You
06 - Edge Of Illusion
07 - Hold On Just One More Time
08 - Wonder If You Really Know
09 - Big Time
10 - It's Never Too Late (Acoustic Version)
11 - This Time Of Year [Bonus Track]
Torben Schmidt - lead & backing vocals
Allan Gade - guitars
Jens Brockhoff - bass
Steen Boel - keyboards
Lars Daugaard - drums
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Saturday, June 27, 2015
Another band that should have been far more successful than they were is rescued by Rock Candy specialists with a superb remastering of their self-titled debut: VICIOUS RUMORS.
Californians Vicious Rumors started out on the Shrapnel / Roadrunner imprint before landing a major label deal with Atlantic (resulting in two studio albums and a live). Though their second album Digital Dictator had been excellent, this 1990's "Vicious Rumors" effort was simply fantastic, the very peak of the band's career.
It's well known that the San Francisco Bay Area produced many fine bands during the '60s and '70s, but they were almost exclusively in a psychedelic or hippy-trippy folk style.
However, by the 1980s the pendulum was swinging towards heavier rock acts, a scene led by the emergence of local thrash and power metal mavericks, including Metallica, Exodus and Testament. It was a surprising turn of events but one that provided a healthy, some might say insatiable, taste amongst a new breed of fans for fast and furious shredding.
Vicious Rumors were one of the pioneering acts of the Bay Area scene and, despite their uncompromising style, they also earned a well deserved reputation as the thinking man’s metal / hard rock outfit.
Never afraid to infuse their sound with intricate twists and turns, the musicianship indicated that they might have had more in common with progressive sounds than pure metal.
Indeed, guitarist Mark McGee had actually been a member of Pomp prog gods Starcastle for a brief moment in time. Progressing through two independent albums and gaining a solid following, they eventually signed a major deal with industry heavyweights Atlantic Records and cut this self titled album in San Francisco.
Issued in 1990, it is a record of extreme maturity, harnessing their heavy riffs onslaught with precision and force.
"Don't Wait for Me" throws the album immediately into cruise mode. Catchy melodic backups singer Carl Albert - owner of a tremendous mid-ranged and melodic voice with an edge - during the bridge, before the explosive gang backing vocals during the main chorus.
"World Church" barrels along a little more slowly, but strikes out again with an infectious chorus with harmony shouts (this band has always had the huge catchy chorus down pat, even on the more recent albums).
These are both great songs, but neither could prepare you for "On the Edge", which is simply put one of the most fantastic melodic metal songs ever, with its unforgettable riffing and Albert hitting high notes.
But "Vicious Rumors" isn't finished yet. "Ship of Fools" creates an epic hard rock equation, it's almost like a power ballad but without the sugary. "Can You Hear It" once again creates hard rock bliss in a metal shell, with a chorus that one could easily imagine Rob Halford, Ronnie James Dio or Ozzy belting out.
"Down to the Temple" is a little heavier but keeps the same mid-pace of the previous two tracks. Not to fear, the great acoustic intro of "Hellraiser" betrays a raging beast almost on par with "On the Edge".
The quality of "Vicious Rumors" is still impresses to this day.
The record has that big budget '80s polished sound, everything on the album sounds fantastic and the vocals cut right through, part knife part red alert. The songs are uniformly killer, all exciting and glossy.
I can see why Rock Candy has decided to remaster "Vicious Rumors" (they usually work with Melodic Hard Rock acts): despite of being and album firmly planted into US Metal style, it's extremely melodic, catchy, and sonically bombastic.
Yes, melodic rockers & traditional hard rock fans need to check this one. If you've ever wanted to check this band out, or never heard about them, start here. You won't be disappointed.
01 - Don't Wait For Me
02 - World Church
03 - On The Edge
04 - Ship Of Fools
05 - Can You Hear It
06 - Down To The Temple
07 - Hellraiser
08 - Electric Twilight
09 - Thrill Of The Hunt
10 - Axe And Smash
Carl Albert – lead & backing vocals
Geoff Thorpe – guitars, producer
Mark McGee – guitars, mandolin, backing vocals
Dave Starr – bass
Larry Howe – drums
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