Tuesday, July 30, 2013

SANDNESS - Like An Addiction (2013)

SANDNESS - Like An Addiction (2013) mp3, download


There is steady effervescence in the Italian metal-related scene, ranging from power, prog metal acts to hard rock, AOR and glam / sleazy bands. New rockers SANDNESS from Rovereto squarely fits into the last category with their debut CD "Like An Addiction", just released in the US by Perris Records.

The trio comprising Mark Denkley on vocals & bass, guitarist Robby Luckets and drummer Metyou ToMeatyou (!) started to work in 2008 and released a couple of demos, toured central Europe including the renowned 'Glam Fest' in France and opened for Adam Bomb, L.A. Guns and Michael Monroe, not strange at all because their sound is absolutely inspired by these kind of artists.
In "Like An Addiction" these young musicians try to bring back to life the '80s glammy style of the Californian movement, akin Ratt, Motley Crue, Shout, Poison and L.A. Guns in a lesser degree. But overall they strongly remind me Vain, singer Davy Vain's band.

SANDNESS - Like An Addiction (2013) band

However, Sandness output is much more polished and really melodic at places, still retaining the sleazy vibe without the dirt. Some songs are pretty naive with party, sex & drugs lyrics, but they got the right sound, '80s straight up from the get go point.
What I Iiked particularly from these guys are the choruses, simple and dry, yet really catchy to my ears. "Bad Things Cause Bad Things", "Don't Drop" and "Dreamin’ Is My Way" are where they use this 'shout' type of vocals and works really well.
More uptempo, hard rockin' tunes like "Darkness Around Me" and "No One Lives Until The Dawn" are the ones where the sleazy arises together with an aggressive guitar attack, same with the punkish "Drinkin’ Wine Under The Bridge", the only song I dislike.
"Shake My Dancin' Soul" is quite heavy as well, this time displaying a little tuned-down guitar riffs which adds a welcomed variation, and a nice pyro-like solo.
There's a good, short instrumental in "Lia", and follower "Pay What You Say" features interesting acoustic guitars accompanying from time to time the electrics, the chorus is melodious and the solo one of the best of the disc.

Sandness is a new promising glammy, sleazy American '80s sounding trio with no other pretension than deliver a fun and entertaining bunch of party-ready songs on "Like An Addiction".
They feed these tracks with hot guitar riffs, urgent rhythmic base and a right voice for the style, and while the three members still got to grow in some aspects, they already nailed this musical genre and have put it out a worth checking debut.
If you like the bands in the Perris Records roster, Sandness fits like a glove there, and you will enjoy "Like An Addiction" for sure.

01 - Artificial Lover
02 - Bad Things Cause Bad Things
03 - Don’t Drop
04 - Darkness Around Me
05 - Dreamin’ Is My Way
06 - Lia
07 - Pay What You Say
08 - Drinkin’ Wine Under The Bridge
09 - No One Lives Until The Dawn
10 - Lay Your Hair Down
11 - Shake My Dancin’ Soul

Mark Denkley - vocals, bass
Robby Luckets - guitar, vocals
Metyou ToMeatyou - drums, backing vocals

SANDNESS - Like An Addiction (2013) CD



Monday, July 29, 2013

ILLUSION SUITE - The Iron Cemetery (2013)

ILLUSION SUITE - The Iron Cemetery (2013) mp3, download


ILLUSION SUITE is a Norwegian Melodic Progressive Metal four-piece put together almost ten years ago and they have already released an album, but the band was completely unknown to me.
Until now... because after listening their second effort "The Iron Cemetery" to be released soon, these guys entered into my favorite Melodic Prog-Metal list without hesitation.

Seems Illusion Suite presents new guitarist here in Kim Jacobsen, a complete musician with a very modern sound set-up and clean style, but the musical conductor is the impressive Roger Bjorge, who not only owns an accomplished drum technique but also plays the keyboards (of which "The Iron Cemetery" has a great deal), does solid back up vocals and it's the main composer.
But the star in Illusion Suite is amazing singer Bill Makatowicz, one of the best 'new voices' in Prog Metal I heard in a long time. He has one of those pipes that can go from like sheer strength to pacifying lullaby and back to a force to be reckoned with in the same song.
"The Iron Cemetery" revolves around a concept; Nicola Tesla's Wardenclyffe tower, a never finished project to generate energy. In Illusion Suite’s alternative reality, the tower generates electricity that collides with the atmosphere of the earth causing an infectious disease that makes everything into iron to spread. But each track can be enjoyed separately, and all are around the 4-5 minute mark.

"The Iron Cemetery" is a rather short affair for this genre, especially with a band that is more melodically inclined as they are - the whole 9-track effort clocks in at a little over 38 minutes.
However, don't get fooled with its brevity, as the music on display is really vibrant, shimmering with power-melodic elements amidst the obvious intricacy and technical prowess at hand. "If short and good, twice good"...

ILLUSION SUITE - The Iron Cemetery (2013) band

After the short instrumental "Intro", flowing with energy is "Orpheus Quest" a powerful, technical yet full of emotion melodic track that is just so good, followed by the marvelous, heavy progressive overtones of "Uni-Twins" serving up a fine melodic chorus and solo section.
Title track "The Iron Cemetery" is packed with more adventurous twists and turns, Makatowicz soars on "When Love Fails" and "Nero" is simply a stellar Prog Metal composition that ticks every box, where drummer Roger Bjorge deftly speeds up and slows down his tempos with the changing mood and dynamic tides.
"Nostradamus First Prophecy" is another great band effort as this group likes to share the workload so no one really dominates creating a fitting balance.
Even when the band enter slight electronic/synth territory for an instrumental part in "The Ugly Duckling", they follow up the next segment with some free form progressive bass moves out of Dag Erik Johnsen that will stun and stir their audience in the right direction.
The disc ends in upbeat mode for the pumping closer "Premonition" showcasing Makatowicz's most complete vocal work on the entire recording; multi-faceted, expressive in a multitude of ranges, and hitting some serious high notes.

"The Iron Cemetery" is a terrific Melodic Progressive-Metal album, one of the best appeared recently.
One of the prime characteristics this genre should have - from a listener's point of view - is the expectation and anticipation of what may come from song to song, but also within each song. That's exactly what you get here, and shows both Illusion Suite's depth of musicianship and maturity.
With captivating songs and ample variety, "The Iron Cemetery" has so many positives including sound wise as Jens Bogren (Paradise Lost, James LaBrie) took care of mixing and mastering. Bill Makatowicz is a superb, versatile and listenable vocalist, an example of how effectively blend heaviness, even sternness, with great melody.
While Erik Johnsen's strong bass lines and guitarist Kim Jacobsen do a great job on the strings contributing to the overall tight sound, big kudos must go to drummer Roger Bjorge, who has more than a little Neil Peart inspiration and skill in his own toolbox.
Top class Melodic Progressive-Metal from Norway, appealing for hard rockers / melodic metal fans out there too.
Strongly Recommended.

01. Intro
02. Orpheus' Quest
03. Uni-Twins
04. The Iron Cemetery
05. When Love Fails
06. Nero
07. Nostradamus' First Prophecy
08. The Ugly Duckling
09. Premonition

Bill Makatowicz - Lead & Backing Vocals
Roger Bjorge - Drums, Keyboards, Backing Vocals
Bag Erik Johnsen - Bass
Kim Jacobsen - Guitar



BLUE COUPE - Million Miles More (2013)

BLUE COUPE - Million Miles More (2013) mp3, download


BLUE COUPE are formed by multi-talented entertainers Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Dennis Dunaway of the legendary Alice Cooper Group alongside multi-instrumentalists Joe Bouchard and his brother Albert from Blue Öyster Cult.
"Million Miles More" is their second album of original songs, a classic rock festival featuring stellar guests as horror-master Alice Cooper itself, Goldy McJohn from Steppenwolf and Blue Öyster Cult's Buck Dharma among others.

These cats together have sold over 15 million albums in the United States alone and have been awarded over 30 gold and platinum records worldwide, so they know what this is all about. Joe & Albert are the co-writers and arrangers of many of Blue Öyster Cult's biggest hits, the latter being the mastermind of "Imaginos". Dennis co-wrote Alice's biggest smash hits including "I'm 18," "School's Out" and "Under My Wheels."
"Million Miles More" has a musical tone, song craft and sound not dissimilar to the original ‘black and white’ era of Blue Öyster Cult and the original Alice Cooper (group) releases, but modernized and much more melodic.
Joe’s guitar playing is very classy, delivering strong riffs and valvular solos, Dennis Dunaway's bass line throw most of the rock shapes, while Albert provides the bouncing foundation. All three bring vocals, with Joe Bouchard singing the lion’s share of leads.

BLUE COUPE - Million Miles More (2013) band

Kicking off with the beat-driven rock of the excellent "Prophets, Dukes and Nomads", the band then give a nod to their musical past with the rollicking roll of "Hellfire Hurry" featuring great six-string lead bursts from BÖC's Buck Dharma. This tune drips of BOC as Buck’s signature riffage is all over the place.
Alice Cooper guests on lead vocals for the sinister fun of "Hallow’s Grave" creating that creepy yet neat-o classic sound of the old school Alice Cooper group. Ross the Boss stamps his guitar sound on the shout-it-out and punchy "Ain’t Dead", while original Steppenwolf keyboardist Goldy McJohn adds his signature organ to "Modern Love (Stalking Time)".

As great as the songs with special guests are, some of the best tunes on the album feature only the three band mates.
"Supernatural Love" is a song with a little bouncy guitar line that is not only cool, but is kind of addictive. "Everybody Goes Insane" sees the band mixing their BOC and Cooper influences perfectly into a modernized, organic delivery.
But it isn't all up-tempo guitar-bass-drums rock and roll. One of the best songs is the touching "I’ll Forever Stick Around", the piano and strings ballad featuring a rare Dennis Dunaway lead vocal has a charm unlike any other song on the album; then there’s the slow-tempo pseudo blues of "Train Of Thought".
The single that preceded the album’s release, "More Cowbell (Gotta Fever)" has been added as a special bonus track, a crowd-shout number originally recorded live.

Blue Coupe's "Million Miles More" has everything you look for in a Classic Rock album, driving beats, toneful guitar riffs and solid bass, it's the real deal done by professionals who know how to write great songs and relate to an audience.
The trio called talented Jack Douglas (Aerosmith, John Lennon, Cheap Trick, Alice Cooper, BOC, etc.) to produce and Warren Huart (Aerosmith, The Fray, James Blunt) to mix, who made this sucker sound damn good.
The fact Blue Coupe had to run a funding campaign to ensure completion of this album within their targeted time-frame says a lot about the state of the music industry, where marketable commodity is more important than musical creativity, than it does about the quality of the finished product.
Suffice it to say that something special happens when two Bouchards and a Dunaway get together and make music; this is a Classic Rock record, but one that's injected with a fresh, quirky, creative musicality.Simply put, "Million Miles More" is a great album that deserves to be heard and deserves success.

BLUE COUPE - Million Miles More (2013) back cover

Joe Bouchard - guitar, keyboards, vocals
Dennis Dunaway - bass, vocals
Albert Bouchard - drums, vocals
Alice Cooper - vocals
Ross the Boss (Manowar) - guitar
Buck Dharma (Blue Öyster Cult) - vocals, guitar
Goldy McJohn (Steppenwolf) - keyboards
Deniz Tek (Radio Birdman) - vocals
Giles Robson - harp
Gordie Lewis (Teenage Head) - guitar



Saturday, July 27, 2013

JUDGE JACKSON - 6 (2013)

JUDGE JACKSON - 6 (2013) mp3, download


And indeed, Judge Jackson's music embodies the drive, determination and Rock 'n Roll lifestyle that many of their peers seems to have lost. The band mention as influence Tesla, Guns 'N Roses and Stevie Ray Vaughan, but also Lynyrd Skynyrd. Listening "6", those comparisons are more than accurate.
Along with Lee Jackson's slashing power chords, Judge Jackson is fueled by Canadian born Todd McTavish on vocals, J.J. Garcia’s tub-thumping drums and Brian James’ bass rumble. Sure, they rock, but McTavish and Jackson create indelible melodies, sing-along lyrics and extremely catchy choruses.
McTavish holds much of the direction with his vocal prowess ranging from powerful notes to sweet lines, and as a result, the Judge Jackson soundscape shifts constantly. Most of the songs are pretty short, hovering around the 2 and 3 minute mark.

From the opening mover "Top Of The World" to the Guns 'N Roses induced swagger of follower "Done", just two songs in and it's quite clear what these boys want to do. Give the listener a good old, classic rock and roll time to remember.
Pulling back from the edge for the opening moments of "Keep On Truckin", the power fades out to a laid back and almost emotional approach, before once again picking up the pace to kick things in fully. What’s striking here is how the guys have formed a mix out of the vocals and drums during the verse section, accentuating the vocal line fully before bolstering the mix back to full power for another seriously catchy chorus.
Even throwing in the compulsory ballad moment in the form of "Hold You Tight", there doesn’t seem to be anything the band aren’t capable of doing. Laid back and emotional yet catchy at the same time, the track evokes images of swaying hands and lighters in the air.

JUDGE JACKSON - 6 (2013)

There's other hard rockin' tracks in "#13" and the edgy "Suck It Up" (one of my favorites) while "Dynamite" lives up to its name. But Judge Jackson shows their eclecticism with the ZZ Top flavor of "My Word" and the funky "January Blues", while the Southern flavored "Cool" with the emotional and heartfelt "Laid to Rest" (which is quite simply an unbelievably beautiful song) and the yearning narrative of "California", the band continue to demonstrate their understanding and ability through track after track, refusing to compromise and instead, sticking to their guns.
The anthemic "Born Free" celebrates 'the power of dreaming/the right to succeed' and the propulsive live crowd-pleaser "Rise" takes care of business Bachman-Turner Overdrive style with a plea bound to get every concert-goer to their feet.

Listening to "6", it’s easy to see how Judge Jackson have amassed 1.200 gigs under their belt as quite simply, this is music which is made for the live scene, presenting you with music to dance to, sing to, and have a damned good time to.
But the band has the skills to capture that 'lively vibe' on tape as well, and there's no shortage of rocking with this album from beginning to end. Take for sure Judge Jackson will have your undivided attention, I know they had mine.
Self-produced by the band with engineer/mixer Billy Baker, "6" is packed with fourteen 100% grade A Rock 'n Roll that is guaranteed to satisfy.
Judge Jackson are flying the flag and keepin' the R'N'R faith in this age of computerized machine noise. All you have to do is get your hands on "6" to hear and feel what I'm talking about.

01 - Top Of The World
02 - Done
03 - Keep On Truckin'
04 - Hold You Tight
05 - Dynamite
06 - My Word
07 - Born Free
08 - Cool
09 - Rise
10 - January Blues
11 - Laid To Rest
12 - #13
13 - Suck It Up
14 - California

Todd McTavish – Vocals
Lee Jackson – Guitar
Brian James – Bass, Backing Vocals
J.J. Garcia – Drums



Friday, July 26, 2013

MYSTERY (Is Here To Rock) - 2013 (2013)

MYSTERY (Is Here To Rock) - 2013 (2013) mp3, download


Whoever said the American Dream was not possible in Australia? MYSTERY, the Melbourne young hard rock band, represents every teenager's dream come true. They have a fresh album, "2013", to be released world wide, toured Japan as main act with sold-out venues, in the US shared stages with their idols Dokken, Ratt, Guns 'N Roses and recently finished European shows supporting Iron Maiden and legends Sweet.

"2013" is a revival of '80s Sunset Strip when acts like Quiet Riot, Twisted Sister, Motley Crue, Dokken and WASP where the big deal, and indeed Mystery aims to sound like them, musically and stylistically.
Think Steel Panther with a lesser gritty attitude, marketed to a young, very young adolescent audience. Sure, Mystery is a product, where image, looks and easy to remember songs are being carefully thought to sell lots of records and tickets.
And works, as these young dudes can play a tune.

MYSTERY (Is Here To Rock) - 2013 (2013) band

Helped by guitarist and producer Stu Marshall (Empires Of Eden, Dungeon) behind the mixing board and producing with a crisp delivery, "2013" is plenty of sing-along pop metal / hair metal songs inspired by the eighties, full of clichés, yes, but ridiculously catchy.
Anthems like "Raise Your Fist", "Test Of Time" or "Rock ‘n Roll Forever Be" sport titles which says it all, pumped by arena ready choruses and separated instrumentation. But some tracks show more roughness, hard rockin' edge such as "On Fire", "Freedom", and the rapid "Lost In Time".
"Nonstop To Nowhere" is the ballad and surprisingly, not cheesy at all, akin for a White Lion / Icon vibe, whilst "Lost In Time" (great riff) goes for American melodic hard with a bouncy background.
And for the end, we have two covers. One is DIO's "Stand Up And Shout", and maybe it will raise some controversy... the other is "(Land) Down Under" obviously a homage to their beloved country. This cover of Aussie's Men At Work is reworked in a hard rock pattern where the guitar solos and the 'gang style' backing vocals are cool but somehow liquify the melody of the song.

Mystery, subtitled 'Is Here To Rock', works as a rock 'n roll ode to the glory days of hair metal transported into the new millennium with the intention to conquer a young audience. Their debut "2013" is a really well crafted product focused on anthemic songs and catchy choruses.
But while the marketing target is the pre-teen / teen niche - I've seen pics of 13-year old kids shouting at one of the band shows - every gray hair or bald-headed fan of this genre will enjoy "2013". Simply because the guitar licks, the cowbell, the gang choruses are the same effectively used 25 years ago, and more professional than you expect.
Someone said cliché? Who cares? I love and support this type of products, because instead of a girl/boy band, this kind of rocking outfits will bring new faithful young listeners to the Melodic Hard Rock field.
Very well done, fun and recommended for young people between 12 and 99 years.

01. 2013: A New Dawn
02. Raise Your Fist
03. Freedom
04. Nonstop To Nowhere
05. Test Of Time
06. On Fire
07. Rock ‘n Roll Forever Be
08. Lost In Time
09. Stand Up And Shout (DIO cover)
10. (Land) Down Under (MEN AT WORK cover)

Rocky Ravic – Lead Vocals, Guitars
Kris Iaccino – Guitars, Backing Vocals
Josh Scarpaci – Bass, Backing Vocals
Tony Mlikota – Drums, Backing Vocals



Thursday, July 25, 2013

JAMES LaBRIE - Impermanent Resonance (2013)

JAMES LaBRIE - Impermanent Resonance (2013) mp3, download


After his good last release in 2010, Dream Theater’s singer JAMES LaBRIE is back with a powerful new studio album effort entitled “Impermanent Resonance” to be released on July 29th, 2013 in Europe and August 6th in North America.
The new recording was once again conceived with LaBrie’s songwriting partner for over a dozen years now, Matt Guillory, who didn't only take the leading role in the composing of the song material, but also handled all of the keyboards as well as background vocals, and together they have created another top quality Prog-Metal album.

Opening track "Agony" certainly caught me off guard – starting with some heavy riffs and growl vocals before Labrie‘s usual melodic vocals kicked in. Yes, the guitar sound and keyboards are recognisably Dream Theater-esque in places, but things are considerably heavier and distinct enough to make this stand apart. This four and a half minute composition features a cleverly crafted lead guitar solo and the kind of anthemic refrain that most melody-driven bands would sacrifice their right arm for.
Then some keys of dark/goth persuasion surrounds "Undertow", while the more melodic "Slight Of Hand" will particularly appeal to every single 'Awake' era Dream Theater fan.

JAMES LaBRIE - Impermanent Resonance (2013) photo

Clearly targeting the US market, "Back On The Ground" is a real melodious number that deserves your attention; the same applies to the flamboyant "I Got You".
Sandwiched between the simply-crafted but much appealing "Holding On", "Lost In The Fire" and "Destiny To Burn", lies "Letting Go", a four minute heavy riffed monster which features one of the most memorable verses of the album, while "Say You’re Still Mine" is the kind of balance that the rest of the guys in DT might have liked to be included on the band's upcoming studio album (almost finished btw).
The last two compositions of the CD help to further strengthen its status as a truly impressive body of work, with "Amnesia" presenting an array of catchy multi-layered vocal melodies, and closer "I Will Not Break" features a drum theme whose speed and heaviness is sure to impress, perhaps even promising more varied future musical escapades from this mighty Canadian singer.

Without a doubt one of the best vocalists in the music industry, James LaBrie has created another clever piece of work in “Impermanent Resonance”. Though seemingly straightforward and easily accessible, the twelve compositions on offer are products of intelligent musicianship, patiently crafted by a group of musicians with a soft spot from rich melodies, but who are also not afraid to step on the accelerator when needed.
Some tracks are really heavy with intense riffs and pounding rhythm section, but keyboards as well are also much more relevant on this album than on previous LaBrie solo releases. While some listeners may find Guillory's occasional growl appearances a bit uncomfortable, James always rapidly takes the central role with his awesome multi-ranged vocal performances.

On “Impermanent Resonance” there isn't a single composition that doesn't contain a memorable hook or an emotionally-charged refrain. Musically, it is tighter than Dream Theater – the tracks are more structured and less experimental in nature – and it has a modern cutting edge feel to it.
I think most DT fans will enjoy this, but I'd recommend it to anyone who is a fan of prog-metal or melodic metal which tries to do something different.

01. Agony
02. Undertow
03. Slight Of Hand
04. Back On The Ground
05. I Got You
06. Holding On
07. Lost In The Fire
08. Letting Go
09. Destined To Burn
10. Say You're Still Mine
11. Amnesia
12. I Will Not Break

James LaBrie — Lead Vocals
Matt voc — Keyboards, Background Vocals
Marco Sfogli — Guitars
Ray Riendeau — Bass
Peter Wildoer — Drums
Peter Wichers — guest Guitar

JAMES LaBRIE - Impermanent Resonance (2013) cd



Wednesday, July 24, 2013

JETTBLACK - Black Gold [featuring Damon Johnson] (2013)

JETTBLACK - Black Gold [featuring Damon Johnson] (2013) bonus mp3, download


British hard rockers JETTBLACK last album was among the best of the last year without a doubt. While preparing its successor, the guys have announced the August 19th release of a brand new CD featuring a selection of hard-to-find, unreleased & re-worked material, entitled "Black Gold".

The 13-track collection includes fresh covers of three classic anthems; 'Barracuda' (Heart cover), AC/DC's 'Let Me Put My Love Into You' and 'Name In Vain' (Motorhead cover), but also an original brand new song ('Red Horizon') and many different versions from previous compositions.

JETTBLACK - Black Gold [featuring Damon Johnson] (2013) band

The advanced single is a revised version of "Black Gold", a track from latest JettBlack studio album, featuring Black Star Riders / Thin Lizzy guitarist Damon Johnson as guest on a hot solo.
Plus, we have two other songs to be present on the CD; "Sunshine" & "Prison Of Love", both acoustic, previously available digital only.

01.Black Gold (feat. D. Johnson) [new version] (4:13)
02.Sunshine (acoustic) [prev. digital only] (3:21)
03.Prison Of Love (acoustic) [prev. digital only] (4:20)

Will Stapleton - vocals, guitar
Jon Dow - vocals, guitar
Tom Wright - bass
Matt Oliver - drums
Damon Johnson - guitar solo



REUBEN ARCHER (Stampede) - Play My Rock 'N' Roll (2013)

REUBEN ARCHER (Stampede) - Play My Rock 'N' Roll (2013) mp3, download

* read comments

Singer REUBEN ARCHER was one of the founder members of '80s British cult act Stampede, who recently returned with the very good 'A Sudden Impulse' (2011) already featured here. Reuben is also fronting up the Paul Raymond Project and has had stints with Lautrec, Wild Horses and Lionheart.
After all these years, it's time for his solo album, 'Personal Sin', to be released next August 18. Meanwhile Archer is presenting the double sided single "Play My Rock ‘n’ Roll" as advance.

There is many guest appearances in the upcoming album, including Dave Meniketti (Y&T), Neil Murray (Whitesnake, Gary Moore, Snakecharmer), Luke Morley (The Union, Thunder), Paul Quinn (Saxon), Paul Raymond (UFO, PRP), Derek Holt (Climax Blues Band), John ‘Rhino’ Edwards (Status Quo), and more.
For instance, "Play My Rock ‘n’ Roll" features Rocky Newton (Lionheart, MSG) on bass, and as you would suspect it's an old-school hard rocker, however, very modern sounding thanks to interesting megaphonic distortions for some vocal parts giving to the track a wonderfully dirty, sleazy growl that crawls all over a riff lower than a snake’s belly. A kickin' track.
On the other hand, "Lately" is a very classic British bluesy rocker with a great feeling, featuring Kevin Riddles (Lion, Tytan, Angel Witch) and the solid drumming of Gary Harry James (Thunder, Magnum, Snakecharmer), a song with a Snakecharmer vibe indeed.
High quality tunes with strong melodic and hard rock influences, propelled by a big, clean and accessible production.
Waiting for the full album with enthusiasm.

01. Play My Rock 'N' Roll (4:23)
02. Lately (4:23)



Tuesday, July 23, 2013

KINGDOM (Kelly Keeling) - Just A Soul (2013)

KINGDOM (Kelly Keeling) - Just A Soul (2013) mp3, download


It's a real pleasure listening Kelly Keeling singing again on the new band KINGDOM, and their debut CD "Just A Soul".
The man was lately dedicated to play bass on numerous projects, but he owns an enviable pedigree working with John Norum and the Michael Schenker Group, and later becoming famous with Baton Rouge. He was in Blue Murder, Carmine Appice's Zeus, Don Dokken (acoustic tour) & George Lynch. And many more.

Together with guitarist Kim Roy, bassist Treajure Roy and drummer Jeremy Johnson (the latter two make recently part also of the lesser known but still legendary band Balance), Keeling recorded "Just A Soul" in various studios at his home town in Lafayette, Louisiana.
This is a classic rock affair with a very traditional style, including seventies hard rock, some progressive touches ala early Kansas or Styx, and even some melodic rock elements. The result is a recognizable yet unique sound, always melodic but edgy at the same time.
Of course Keeling shines, but Kim Roy steals the show in many places with his blazing, amazing guitar work.

First song "One Thing" is an impressive tune with driving six-string riffs, a melodious refrain and a classic keyboard pattern. The band rocks Kelly gets loose. Another strong hard rockers are "Could It Be You" including some atmospheric passages, a catchy chorus, a vintage keyboard line and a punchy guitar solo, and later the bluesy yet dynamic "Just A Soul".
There's more melodic rock oriented numbers in the midtempo "Someting Great", the electric / acoustically filled "Any Chance" (love Kelly's phrases here) akin '80s Styx, and even they flirt with poppy sounds in the gentle "I'll Wait".

KINGDOM (Kelly Keeling) - Just A Soul (2013) band

"Never Thought" is a sensitive ballad, complete with cello and ethereal keys, remembering Rainbow but much more melodic. One of the highlights. "Because Of You" is another slow tune, very calm and classic, adding nylon guitars and pianos. There's a touching performance by everyone involved.
Interspersed in between are two good instrumentals, but despite the brevity (below two minutes) in my opinion break the flow of the album. These are the fast "Ambassador Caffery" and the jammin' "Myxolydian", where Kim Roy shows his stupendous abilities.

Kingdom is a solid band offering some awesomely hand-crafted classic rock (hard) songs on "Just A Soul", varied and always interesting. Kelly Keeling is in top form (hasn't lost none of his magic tones), Kim Roy is a revelation, and the other guys are tight as unit.
Some will be complaining about production, mix and especially the drum sound, but let me tell you: I suspect these tracks were recorded live in the studio, and the feeling, the blood running reaching you in this delivery are truly great. Perhaps with a traditional production these aspects would have been lost along the way, a I like what I hear in this form.
Very Good stuff. Recommended.

01 - One Thing
02 - Someting Great
03 - Any Chance
04 - Could It Be You
05 - Ambassador Caffery
06 - I'll Wait
07 - Never Thought
08 - Just A Soul
09 - Mixolydian
10 - Because Of You
11 - Papillion De Nuit
12 - On Thing - reprise
13 - Just A Soul - acoustic reprise

Kelly Keeling – Vocals
Kim Roy – Guitar
Jacques LePretre – Keyboards
Treajure Roy – Bass
Jeremy Johnson – Drums



JOHN TAGLIERI - Southern Paradise (2013)

JOHN TAGLIERI - Southern Paradise (2013) mp3, download


JOHN TAGLIERI has been featured HERE last year with his very good EP, but I have been following his musical steps since the 1999 debut, continuously delivering fine working class rock & AOR albums.
A prolific singer & songwriter, lately Taglieri has established himself around Florida / the east coast, and seems this is reflected in his brand new, eleventh album "Southern Paradise", a warm, friendly, feel-good summertime affair.

Title track opens with that uplifting, positive attitude, offering a roll of drums and chords, a tinkling piano and a stanza-like chorus that acts as a very bright, infectious introduction to the new material. Where Taglieri was lately known for his upbeat mix of powerpop AOR and classic American rock, or at least songs with a little bit of an edge, this song is smoother and more contemporary musically, and the vocals are what provide most of the edge. With its tempo and summer holiday vibe, "Southern Paradise" is a perfect feel-good melodic song for this season.
Then we hear "When I Think About", which has a bit of a rootsy spice woven through its fabric. The rhythm in the verses builds up perfectly and the chorus is pure gold. The warmth of these hazy melodies is a reminder of how effective Taglieri can be on his day. It still astounds me that he's not more well known in the popular music press, and if only a couple of radio DJs would get their hands on this, it could take off quickly.

On "Down The Road" Taglieri takes down the pace a little bit. This midtempo has a breezy melody, with elaborated guitar work and the arrangement held a lot more to it than you noticed at first listen.
"It’s You" is the ballad, with nice acoustics and a full orchestral sound enveloping the good chorus. The lyrics are homage to love, whether it is for a lover, a friend, a higher power or a family member. And let's be honest, aren't we all suckers for a well crafted love song?
"Days Of Night" is a moody number, and is closest to Taglieri's AOR roots, a perfect example of his delicate songwriting style. Listen to the song and how it builds up and finds power in the exact right moments. The honesty and emotion just spring out of it. There are few artists as convincing as John Taglieri is in that department.
The disc ends with "Turn Around" which is a bit of a departure in style. It really has a sort of Americana / classic rock taste to it, with an acoustic basis and a campfire feel. Taglieri builds up the song to a more intense chorus that tones down as it leads towards the next verse. It has the right mix of introspection and energy and leaves the listener satisfied.

Taglieri is an integral artist, a sensitive songwriter able to create wonderful melodic pop/rock tunes, and this is reflected again on "Southern Paradise", a feel-good summertime recording.
John is at a point in life and career where he’s found a great balance. "Southern Paradise" shows that balance with songs that celebrate Taglieri’s place in life, and it seems to be a good one. In fact, he's sounding better than ever.
Working with the production team of Sean Mormelo and Mark Cohn out of Nashville, and mastered by multi-Grammy winner Richard Dodd, they crafted a release that will have your toes tapping right from the first note all the way to the last with easy, enjoyable melodies.
John Taglieri keeps doing what hes best at: writing infectious songs with strong choruses and a feel-good vibe.

01. Southern Paradise
02. When I Think About
03. Down The Road
04. It's You
05. Days Of Night
06. Turn Around

John Taglieri - vocals, guitars, bass, keys, real drums



Monday, July 22, 2013

NEWMAN - Siren (2013)

NEWMAN - Siren (2013) mp3,download


In music industry, as with most things in life, trends tend to come and go. What was in vogue yesterday, today is cast aside for the next big thing. When we talk about Steve NEWMAN, he has been consistently producing high quality Melodic (Hard) Rock albums since 1998, pointing a indelible middle finger to modern, soulless trends.
After a break of two years following a studio upgrade and relocation, Newman return with their 10th studio album "Siren".

Steve Newman has never done a duff album and "Siren" is easily amongst his best, plenty of shimmer vocal harmonies and pirate-sized musical hooks through these arena-ready 12 tracks. As usual, Newman's slightly raspy vocals provides an extra rockin' edge to his polished material. Yes, you have the traditional keyboards here, the soaring guitars are at the order of the day and of course a crisp production. Modern influences? Forget about that! As said, Newman is pure Melodic Rock / AOR, and the man deliver the goods.
This time around, as with the last few studio albums, Steve is joined by highly talented session drummer Rob McEwen, but has also brought in a few familiar guests to enhance the sound and writing process. From the Newman's live band, Shaun Bessant drops a solo on "When It Comes To Love" and Robert Säll (Work Of Art, W.E.T.) guests on "Feel Her Again".
In the songwriting department, Steve has joined forces with Pete Newdeck (Eden's Curse, Tainted Nation) for the songs "Some Kind Of Wonderful" and "Waiting For The Day", while long time friend Nick Workman (Vega, Kick) co-writes on the uplifting "When It Comes To Love". Both Pete and Nick also contribute backing vocals.

The first five tracks on "Siren" are some of the best songs Newman has ever written in his whole career: the fantastic opener "Scar Of Love", the addictive anthem "Had Enough" and the ballad "Arcadia" - which reminded me of John Payne-era Asia - offer immense choruses, layered vocals and tinkly keys, perfect for that melodic rock musical fix.
"Another Bitch of a Night" has a slinky, Whitesnake feel during the verses along with a traditional AOR chorus, followed by the energetic, remarkable melodies of "Feel Her Again" with a similarity to W.E.T. Not surprising, as Robert Säll co-penned it and slashed a wonderful solo.
Even when keyboardist Paul Boyle starts off with these ethereal sounds on "Some Kind of Wonderful", once the guitars kick into gear he falls into line to the tempo and spirit of a heads down rocker. The title track has a hint of Def Leppard about it, mainly in the intro and the vocal arrangements, a great headphone listen.

Newman even digs back into '80s American hard rock sound with the Dokken meets Giant ballad "When It Comes To Love", but soon up the tempo with the solid, slightly progressive rocker "Crossfire", a bit long close to the seven minute mark but serves to display Newman's and his band acute musical sensibilities, and you feel the genuine respect and admiration the players have for the songwriting at hand.
We can note Pete Newdeck's talents (and his vocals) on the dynamic melodic rocker "Waiting For The Day", while the piano-led power ballad "The Foolish One" hits the spot nicely with its highly harmonic AOR melody.
Closer "Don’t Know Why" surprises a bit, but in great way: it's the more '80s oriented tune on the record driven by a classic riff, features powerful background vocals akin Toto / Giant, and Steve's leads are smoother.

It's summertime, and I know you've much releases on your list these days, but you must add "Siren" as a mandatory purchase.
This is a pure slice of old school Melodic Rock / AOR masterfully crafted; well written, arranged at detail, catchy as hell, and played & produced as fans of the genre expect to be.
Easily Newman's best, and one to rank high in the 'Best Of' this year.
Highly Recommended.

01. Scar Of Love
02. Had Enough
03. Arcadia
04. Another Bitch Of A Night
05. Feel Her Again
06. Some Kind Of Wonderful
07. Siren
08. When It Comes To Love
09. Crossfire
10. Waiting For The Day
11. The Foolish One
12. Don't Know Why

Steve Newman - Vocals, Guitar, Bass, Keyboards
Rob McEwen - Drums, Percussion
Paul Boyle - Keyboards, Backing Vocals
Shaun Bessant - Lead Guitar on "When It Comes To Love"
Robert Säll (Work Of Art, W.E.T.) - Lead Guitar on "Feel Her Again"
Pete Newdeck (Eden's Curse, Tainted Nation) - Backing Vocals, Songwriting
Nick Workman (Vega, Kick) - Backing Vocals, Songwriting



Saturday, July 20, 2013

21 GUNS - Salute [Rock Candy Remaster] (2013)

VANGOUGH - Kingdom Of Ruin (2011)


Stellar guitarist Scott Gorham (ex-Thin Lizzy) started in the mid-eighties his own project Western Front. During his recording contribution to Phenomena, Gorham met bass/keyboard player Leif Johansen and drummer Mike Sturgis (ex Far Corporation, Asia) and they joined, renaming the band 21 GUNS.
Signed by a major label, 21 Guns debut CD "Salute" arrived in 1992 delivering a fantastic slice of polished Melodic Rock / AOR, a true Gem in the genre. Long time out of print, now is being reissued by Rock Candy Records with their typical excellent remastering job.

For the singer slot, Sturgis called the wonderful Tommy La Verdi who had previously fronted cult AORsters A440, and partering with multiple Grammy Award-winning producer and mixing engineer Chris Lord Alge (Damn Yankees, Firehouse, Steve Perry), 21 Guns recorded "Salute" in L.A.
Twelve pure-gold songs, no fillers, just killers. Just listen the kickin' opener "Knee Deep", the huge "These Eyes" or the melodic jewel "Marching In Time". If you like high class ballads you have the grandiose AOR of "Tell Me", and then "Just A Wish" is just perfection. I love this tune, it's simply irresistible.
If you need more uptempo hard rockers, Gorham gets loose on "Battered And Bruised", "Little Sister" and "Walking" for good measure. Oh, and I can't forget another pearl: the bloody awesome midtempo "Jungleland".

I think the original mastering does not needed a re-touch, but just in case, the usually 24-bit remastering from original source tapes by Rock Candy Records sounds terrific. This is an absolute classic. Period.
Now you have not excuses to not treasure this diamond.

01 - Knee Deep
02 - These Eyes
03 - Walking
04 - Marching In Time
05 - The Rain
06 - Little Sister
07 - Pays Off Big
08 - Just A Wish
09 - Battered And Bruised
10 - Jungleland
11 - Tell Me
12 - No Way Out

Tommy La Verdi - lead & background vocals
Scott Gorham - guitar and background vocals
Leif Johansen - bass, keyboards and background vocals
Mike Sturgis - drums and percussion
Additional Musicians:
Kim Bullard - piano (8)

21 GUNS - Salute [Rock Candy Remaster] (2013) back cover



Friday, July 19, 2013

EVILYN STRANGE - Mourning Phoebe (2013)

EVILYN STRANGE - Mourning Phoebe (2013) mp3, download
No Cuts


Rockers EVILYN STRANGE are an Anglo-Swedish combo which have been together for many years, playing in the British indie circuit and releasing some singles.
"Mourning Phoebe" is the band's full length debut, recorded and produced by themselves.

Comprising Phillip Strange on lead vocals & bass, Al Strange on drums and Swede Mikael Johannesson on guitars, Evilyn Strange is a quite 'strange' outfit indeed, as we can hear different styles running through their album. Phillip spoke in a recent interview; "Personally I love to mix styles and influences across an album - what's the point in writing 11 versions of the same song?.
I said 'rockers' at the very beginning of this review, because Evilyn Strange can't be pinned on a single musical style, although all are revolved around melodic rock / hard. This may turn things a bit disjointed for some listeners, but you can't deny these guys are trying something different.
Part of this diversity should be laid on co-producer, engineer and collaborator Chris Hughes, the silent fourth member in Evilyn Strange, and the fact that most of the songs were penned by Phillip and drummer Al Strange (ex- Dog Food) separately. Al, a child of the '80s, is also responsible for sneaking all the keyboards/synths onto the album.

The CD kicks off with the quite heavy "The Ballad Of Evilyn Strange", a powerful track with a modern sound but inspired in the nineties. There's a crushing rhythm section and excellent guitars by Mikael Johannesson, a quality axe-slinger which work enhances this disc all over. About the lead vocals, you have to get used of Phillip's singing, as his register changes from track to track... particularly on this one, he sounds like Jerry Cantrell meets modern Ozzy, but it's the only tune here in this vein. Next up is "Your Eyes Give You Away", a dark atmospheric rocker where the vocals are much more melodic.
As said, Evilyn Strange mixes things up throughout the album, with several ballads mingling with heavier, harder rocking tunes. On the midtempo semi-ballad "Everything" the band blends early eighties The Cult (fundamentally the vocalization) with British Classic Rock resulting in an original track adorned with keyboards. The guitar solo is melodious yet plenty of force.
"All That You Do (You Do For You)" has a rougher, grittier feel and a harder edge, but to my ears the main melody is inspired by seventies Brit-pop, and again, you meet the unexpected. It's a very good track as it's not the typical hard-rock-by-numbers. Same can be said for "Narcissistic Bar Statistic", where a The Mission (UK band) feel is heard wrapped by distorted guitars and synths... you like it or not, but these guys are different from the rest for sure.

EVILYN STRANGE - Mourning Phoebe (2013) band

Then they turn the page again; "The World Needs Someone Like You" is a classic melodic rock power ballad with an excellent vibe and superb melodious line. The vocals (and the way of sing) reminds me, believe it or not, Chris Ousey (Heartland, Snakecharmer), there's uplifting harmonic backing vocals and a steady instrumentation. To me, the best track on the album and worth the admission alone.
Need more variation? Next, "Love Finds You" is an anthemic, kickin' hard rocker with slidey, bluesy-flavored guitars and slamming drums, vocally the stongest on the entire recording and the guitar job is top notch. Another really good cut.
"No Mercy" follows the same path, but more melodic and constructed around a seventies classic rock skeleton, and next "Please Don’t Tell Me" returns to the melodic territory adding some acoustics to the mix, sporting a seriously ear-pleasing, hooky melody anchored by an Americanized refrain.
Johannesson’s stellar guitar-work shines again on the awesomely catchy "Just A Little", another of my favorite tunes. This is a pure Melodic Rock song in the classic style of the genre with a driving melodic line, keyboards and a jumpin' rhythm section.
The band's more intimate side arrives with closer "Will You Be There? (Kate’s Song)", the only completely acoustic number filled with beautiful harmonies (reminds me the German band Domain), an old song written by Phillip in his teens and dedicated to his passed away friend Kate.

As you can see, Evilyn Strange is like chameleon addressing numerous styles to their core. This results in "Mourning Phoebe" being a diverse and multi-faceted recording that may disorient many listeners, but challenges them all the time.
This not means the musical direction is not focused or integral, not at all, as this is a rock album with Melodic Rock, Hard and Classic Rock elements, it's just that Evilyn Strange don't want to repeat themselves track by track.
"Mourning Phoebe" is easy to enjoy but it's a real grower, and gets better and better after repeated listens. The second half of the disc is more instant and familiar to regular melodic hard rockers, yet 'strangely' sounds cohesive to the rest of the material.
Definitively a different beast in the present Melodic Hard Rock scene, Evilyn Strange has delivered a more than interesting debut quite far from conventionalisms.

EVILYN STRANGE - Mourning Phoebe (2013) back

Phillip Strange - lead and backing vocals, bass
Al Strange - drums, keyboards, synths, backing vocals
Mikael Johannesson - guitars



WALTHAM - Drive Me Crazy (2013)

WALTHAM - Drive Me Crazy, The Highway 2013 mp3, download


Some months ago we presented HERE new material from American Melodic Rockers WALTHAM.
The band is giving the last touches to their new album entitled 'Wicked Waltham' to be released later this year, and are releasing some singles from it on iTunes. After the already heard "You're Everything That I Want", we have two fresh ones: "Drive Me Crazy" and "The Highway".

Waltham's style leans to modern Melodic Rock based on intense riffs spiced with catchy rock&pop harmonies. Although their sound is updated to present time, there's an undeniable '80s influence in the songcraft. Their classic structures makes you think Rick Springfield meets Cheap Trick, and in the overall sonic approach very close to the underrated 7th Heaven. On places they remind me Swedes Bad Habit and Blanc Faces as well.
The good thing about Waltham's is the catchiness, fist-pumping anthem mould delivered in a 3-minute format song.
Catchy, hooky, fun melodic rockin' advance from Waltham.

01. Drive Me Crazy
02. The Highway
03. You're Everything That I Want

Frank Pino Jr. - Vocals
Tony Monaco - Guitar
Craig Small - Guitar
Peet Golan - Bass
Mikey Rorick - Drums



Wednesday, July 17, 2013

THE BURNING CROWS - Behind The Veil [CD version +2] (2013)

THE BURNING CROWS - Behind The Veil [CD version +2] (2013) mp3, download


We have presented exclusively last year at 0dayrox the new young sensation THE BURNING CROWS and their debut EP. For the Norwich (UK) hard rockers the time of a full length CD has come in the form of "Behind The Veil".
Britain has a long tradition producing bands with a unique taste, it's like a touch of class unmatched elsewhere, and that's something The Burning Crows have inherited. Regarded by the press and a growing fan base as one of most brilliant Classic Hard Rock promises from the isles, the guys have acquired their reputation in the good old way, from word of mouth and delivering the goods on stage.

All these happenings brought the attention of producer by Nick Brine, who has worked with The Darkness, Bruce Springsteen and Oasis to name a few, to produce and mix the first EP and now "Behind The Veil" as well. And with a guest appearance by Keith Weir (The Quireboys, Def Leppard) on keyboards, it seems that some of Rock's biggest names are starting to join the ever growing queue to get behind the band.
Kicking off with a pair of up tempo rockers in "High" and "All The Way" it is clear that The Burning Crows have channeled the energy, swagger and sheer adrenalin of their live performance into the studio. Driven classic guitars, tight rhythm section, high end vocals and tremendous melodies but with a chopping attack.
Frontman Whippz has the voice to match the outrageous personality and charisma, supported by an image that is straight from the soaked heyday of the Sunset Strip. Lance Daniels (guitars), Will Lockett (bass) and Chris Chapman (drums) complete the line-up and the vibe on "Behind the Veil" suggests these guys are a tight band of brothers that feed off each other's adrenalin to deliver an album of kick ass classic hard rock and roll.

The mid tempo pace changer "Time" breaks things up with a its Bon Jovi alike guitar work and choruses, while on follower "Fallin´" there is blooming catchiness with a highly oriented '80s driven chorus, and next "So Wrong" (one of my favourites) mixes some tasty licks with the guitars responding to each other during the solo in classy way.
When they drop the pace in "Here I Am" the results are no less impressive. The guys add acoustic guitars and serve up the traditional ballad complete with strings and ethereal background vocals. Whippz leads are soulful and heartfelt taking it down in the Steven Tyler lane.
At the other end of the scale is "The Queen", a simple yet highly effective classic rocker that shows The Burning Crows at their best. "Devil May Care" is another charmer with impressive guitaring while the "All The Way" heads up strong, letting the good times roll with a lively vibe.

THE BURNING CROWS - Behind The Veil [CD version bonus tracks] (2013)

Title track "Behind The Veil" is an energetic charger with quality melodies where Daniels is really let of the leash to provide some fiery riffs to go with the insistently catchy chorus, same with the mid-tempo beast "Best Damn Everything", plenty of melodious riffage.
If you get the CD (Digipack) version of the album you have two bonus tracks; "Going Down" rocks with contagious swagger and once again, this solidly crafted and hook-laden affair reveals Whippz's voice to be an aptly suited weapon. The other, "Best Damn Everything", is the most furious of the lot, a straight ahead hard rock the likes of UFO or Bad Company might produce, and has everything you want in this type of band with each member stepping up to lay down some great sounds.

The Burning Crows take the best of classic British hard rock and blend it with its American counterpart from late Eighties Sunset Strip, tossing-in a little bluesy spice to boot. There are a lot of bands out there at the moment doing this type of rock, but these young guys own a different touch.
"Behind The Veil" features 14 songs clocking over an hour, a rather ambitious for a debut and means there better be some significant consistency across the album. Frankly, The Burning Crows pull it off. It might be presumptuous to say that every song is killer, but they never miss the mark.
There's tons of 'burning' fire and heart in these hot-to-trot rockers full of energy to convince the most demanding Classic Rock / Hard Rock fans out there, cooked with a crisp and organic production.
Strongly Recommended.

01 - High
02 - All The Way
03 - You, Me, Tonight
04 - Time
05 - Fallin'
06 - So Wrong
07 - Here I Am
08 - Say My Name
09 - The Queen
10 - Devil May Care
11 - Slow Up, Get Down
12 - Behind The Veil
13 - Going Down (CD only Bonus Track)
14 - Best Damn Everything (CD only Bonus Track)

Whippz - Vocals & Guitars
Lance Daniels - Guitars & Backing Vocals
Will Lockett - Bass & Backing Vocals
Chris Chapman - Drums & Percussion
Special guest:
Keith Weir (The Quireboys, Def Leppard) - Keyboards



Tuesday, July 16, 2013

ED MOTTA - AOR (2013)

ED MOTTA - AOR (2013) mp3, download


What you can expect from a man who entitled his brand new album "AOR" ? Well, just precisely a wonderful recording flooded with all the magic of the genre from a first time fan: ED MOTTA.
Born in Rio de Janeiro, through the years Motta has covered many musical genres - even hard rock during his teens - releasing several CD's (some achieving gold status), toured extensively all over the world as solo artist or as guest with renowned musicians, composed two film soundtracks, and as said, he is a music fan as well, ranked worldwide as one of the biggest LP/vinyl collectors possessing more than 30,000 records.

But fundamentally, Ed is a delicate singer, exquisite composer and a very good keyboardist as well.
"AOR" is his twelfth solo recording and the first recorded in English, with lyrics penned by afamed Rob Gallagher. There's also a Portuguese version (which I own too) with the same music tracks but completely different lyrics, and believe me, both are awesome.
The title here is no lie, as Ed's a huge fan of AOR modes from the late '70s / early '80s – especially those pristine sounds from the L.A. scene that perfectly blended smooth melodies with sweet studio perfection – an approach he goes for wonderfully here.

ED MOTTA - AOR (2013) photo

This is real music made by real musicians. It holds some amazing songwriting, combined with great arrangements, lush harmonies and outstanding vocals. "AOR" is one of those albums that has hit me like an uppercut on a first play.
I have been listened both versions repeatedly since the last two weeks, at work, at home, driving... I’d go as far to say that it's completely mind blowing, capturing the pure primal Westcoast AOR essence better than many veterans in this style.
Everything is here; Steely Dan, Pages, Chicago, Toto, Gino Vannelli, Christopher Cross, Player, Boz Scaggs, Eric Tagg, etc, conjured their musos into Ed Motta's spirit and impeccable good taste.
Of course his is not alone, the session musicians are impressive including solos and guitar harmonies from legend David T. Walker, and very talented guitarist Chico Pinheiro (considered as modern-day Baden Powell) playing great licks, just listen the memorable solo on "1978 (Leave The Radio On)".
This track title say it all, isn't it?

One can hear on "AOR" that Ed Motta is a full blown and confident artist ready to take on any offered musical adventure. His pure passion for music graces music lovers and aficionados with the release of this musically sophisticated and exciting tribute to the vintage sound of Classic American Westcoast.
This English CD version is only released in Germany, but you can buy it at a very good price following the links below.
No serious Westcoast AOR collector should pass this Gem by. In my book, this is THE album of 2013 in this genre and it is a Must Have.

01 - Playthings Of Luv
02 - Simple Guy
03 - Lost In The Night
04 - Dondi
05 - Smile
06 - 1978 (Leave The Radio On)
07 - Dried Flowers
08 - AOR
09 - Farmer's Wife

Ed Motta: Vocals, Rhodes Piano, Percussion
Chico Pinheiro, Torcuato Mariano, Vinicius Rosa, Paulinho: Guitar
David T. Walker: Guitar solos & harmonies
"Bluey" Maunik: guest Guitar solo
Glauton Campello: Acoustic Piano, Wurlitzer 200A & Hohner D6 Clavinet
Jota Moraes: Glockenspiel
Chico Amaral, Aldivas Ayres, Jessé Sadoc, Marcelo Martins: Horns
Robinho Tavares: Bass
Sergio Melo: Drums

ED MOTTA - AOR (2013) back cover



Monday, July 15, 2013

NEKTAR - Time Machine (2013)

NEKTAR - Time Machine (2013) mp3 download


NEKTAR is one of the foundational bands of UK Prog starting in 1973 with their celebrated on-acid-psychedelic opus Remember The Future. The group is still alive and kicking after forty years including original members Roye Albrighton (vocals, guitars) and drummer Ron Howden.
"Time Machine" is their first album of new material in four years, but also a marks a new direction for Nektar, as Billy Sherwood (ex-Yes) is involved not only playing bass but producing as well.

Gone are the psych and the 'trippy' moments, "Time Machine" is a commercial melodic prog album with a really accessible sound, catchy arrangements and a lush production akin eighties Yes and Asia.
This is not to say that their Prog have lost any intrigue. But, while there is some liveliness and complexity to many songs like "If Only I Could", "A Better Way" or "Diamond Eyes", the band seems more focused using the foundation of agreeable melodic rock to pull you in. The title track is a good example.
Perhaps the poppy "Set Me Free, Amigo" is a bit weak, but numbers like the luxury ballad "Mocking the Moon", the breezy "Talk To Me" with a nearly eighties Gilmour-like solo or the commercial rock groove of "Tranquility" (sounding a lot like Camel) are really melodious.
My favorite is opener "A Better Way", an epic, light-sympho, rocking Nektar at their very best, complete with Albrighton's wailing guitar and loads of vintage sounding keyboards, while the lush acoustic guitar & keyboards of the dreamy "Destiny" shows a different side to Nektar, but a totally intoxicating one, with hooks that grab you instantly.

NEKTAR - Time Machine (2013) band

Upbeat prog-rocker "If Only I Could" reminds a little of late '70s Genesis with Albrighton's vocals even hinting at Phil Collins a tad, and the wonderful title track "Time Machine" combines dreamy musical soundscapes with an ultra contagious chorus.
The very fine "Juggernaut" is a killer instrumental that has fusion touches but always melodic and rhythmically intense, with Howden & Sherwood completely locked in underneath some sizzling electric piano & synths from the very good keyboadist Klaus Henatsch and Albrighton's melodic guitar lines.
The longest track on the album, the aforementioned "Diamond Eyes", also closes things out, and in excellent prog fashion I might add, complete with mysterious lyrics, a catchy chorus and elastic arrangements (love the Hammond organ), this is another strong cut on a very solid album.

Perhaps rabid Prog fans would find "Time Machine" too much commercial, but we're in the 2000's and this is a great melodic progressive recording with something for everyone.
There's classic Prog cuts with light symphonic passages (really melodious) blended with proggy melodic rock (some really catchy and moving) with an almost punchy delivery, all wrapped by a fantastic, modern crisp production.
So "Time Machine" is not only recommended for progsters, melodic rock aficionados must check this one as well, you'll be pleasantly engaged by superb melodies and dynamics in the vein of Asia, '80s Camel and the Trevor Rabin-Yes era.
Very, very good Prog/Melodic Rock marriage.

01 - A Better Way
02 - Set Me Free, Amigo
03 - Destiny
04 - If Only I Could
05 - Time Machine
06 - Tranquility
07 - Mocking the Moon
08 - Talk to Me
09 - Juggernaut
10 - Diamond Eyes

Roye Albrighton - guitars, lead vocals
Klaus Henatsch - keyboards
Billy Sherwood - bass
Ron Howden - drums, backing vocals




KILL FOR EDEN - ST (2013) mp3 download


KILL FOR EDEN is a new UK-based band but formed by a truly international line-up from Lyla D’Souza (Sydney), Andrea Basiola (Italy) and Londoner Dave Garfield Bown, along with Mike McGuinness on bass and drummer
Wally Miroshnikov, together they have infused all their influences to produce an awe inspiring self-titled debut release.
Built on massive melodies and huge hooks coupled with charismatic choruses, Kill For Eden's energetic style blends the hard rockin' groove of The Cult circa Sonic Temple with the Rock&pop sensibility of Blondie. Chuck in a rocking Pat Benatar and you can see where the healthy references come from.

What I liked about Kill For Eden at first place is their uncompromising delivery. They're releasing this debut by themselves, and they do what they want in their own way.
The music business is quite brutal most the time, with the only fast track options generally open to those who have no self worth and little talent willing to sell their souls and other parts of their bodies to a suit sucking on a big fat cigar. Any band with original ideas practising in back rooms has a mountain to climb, and a shed load of luck and hard graft are basic starting points before there is any chance of hitting the ‘big’ time.
Sadly, history shows that if you are a female fronted rock band you can multiply that factor again by a whole lot more and the intensity and need for that special quality to stand out and be different is magnified ten fold. Just check the band list for your favourite festival this summer and how many of them have a female leading the front line?
As I said it’s brutal people, but real exceptional talent and innovative use of the grey matter will find a following, well you would hope so anyway.

Kill For Eden could just be one of those exceptional bands, as they have the talent in abundance, and in Lyla D’Souza they also have a front woman who not only looks the part but has a voice that stands out from the crowd of pretenders. Her technical and emotional range adds depth to all the material here and confidently tackles top end hard rock, power rock, intimate rock&pop and all shades in between – sometimes in the same track.
It’s not all just about the vocals, though. Basioli’s lead guitar muscles into the limelight plenty, and the rhythm six-string work together with the dynamic bass/drum interplay drive these tunes into a great feeling.
The album starts via the most immediate track called "Kerosene (Radio Mix)" with an ear pleasing driving guitar riff and a rumbling bass line upon which the powerful vocals of Lyla D’Souza rise strongly, and here in lies the special unique selling point that Kill For Eden have in their repertoire. This version has been re-worked with an obvious commercial intention, as the original (placed at the end) is more rough and sharp. Both work to me.
The heavy funk groove and vibe continues on "Untouchables" with a big chorus and rhythmic guitar work whilst "Beige" further continues this positive trend. "Over and Over" is also built for the airwaves with its catchiness.

KILL FOR EDEN - ST (2013) band

Don’t be fooled though. There is some heavier and more challenging material here too.
"Living On Mars" features a skuzzy, gutteral riff before the chorus lifts the track and a change of pace injects a shot of adrenaline. "Ned" chucks out a mean growl and weaves a narrative about Australia’s most famous outlaw.
"The Evil That Men Do" is amongst the strongest tracks with an insistent, nagging guitar and keyboard riff that rises into a powerhouse chorus. D’Souza goes for the jugular and stays on the right side of the tuneful/shouty divide at the business end.
"Slip Away" for me is a radio hit single in waiting, with a modern but at the same time classic rock melody full of groove and titillating amp-valvular guitars, providing a demonstration of all that is good about Kill for Eden in a one tremendous song.
The stomping hard rocker "The Truth" takes a look back to late seventies Heart, "Alone With My Demons" adds some bluesy spice, and "Little Wizard" brings the good ol' 'American' The Cult to the table, just with female lungs.
There also a couple of tasty ballads that showcase Lyla's vocal gymnastics. "Stalemate" is perhaps a touch formulaic, but "Fate Insists" pulls out all the dramatic stops.

Kill For Eden is one of the most genuine, impressive female fronted rock bands appeared in a long time.
However the consistency in their debut is not just in D’Souza’s powerhouse vocals but also in the quality of song structure and musicianship. The rhythm section creates a groovy foundation where the complete guitar work dynamically change gear all the time with the vocal arrangements controlling the intensity and delivery, resulting in some memorable killer songs.
Kill For Eden achieve something which, to my mind, is pretty hard to find; they manage to hide some scorching guitar-based hard rock within an extremely radio-friendly format, a feat not seen too-often these days. The majority of the tracks are around 4 minutes long and fit everything they need to in that time with nothing left on the side lines.
Production, handled by guitarists Basiola and band mastermind Dave Garfield could be much more polished, but I prefer this crunching delivery for this type of material than the overwashed sound a major label would have ordered. They go indie, and I like this way, remaining in the radio-friendly category without compromising the guitar-driven awesomeness that makes them stand out.
Good things are surely just around the corner for this lot, meanwhile their debut is strongly recommended by this blog.

You've seen it first here, at 0dayrox

01 - Kerosene (Radio Mix)
02 - Untouchables
03 - Beige
04 - Stalemate
05 - The Evil That Men Do
06 - Living On Mars
07 - Fate Insists
08 - Ned
09 - Over And Over
10 - Slip Away
11 - Little Wizard
12 - Alone With My Demons
13 - The Truth
14 - Kerosene

Lyla D'Souza – Vocals
Dave Garfield Bown – Guitar
Andrea Basiola – Guitar
Mike McGuinness – Bass
Wally Miroshnikov – Drums
Rob Taggart – Keyboards



Saturday, July 13, 2013

TOUCH - ST [Rock Candy Remaster] (2013)

TOUCH - ST [Rock Candy Remaster] (2013) mp3 download


Time's changing... one of the few labels still firmly planted on releasing CD-only material, Rock Candy Records, has launched a Digital Store.
One of the first albums available on this format is the debut of TOUCH, the great American pompy AOR / Melodic Rock band, considered one the genre's pillars.

During the late seventies and early eighties the American rock scene was bursting with deliciously ambitious talent, none more so than New York based quintet Touch. Led by a veteran of the scene, Mark Mangold (ex- American Tears and later in Drive She Said), the band locked into a style of melodic hard rock music that would eventually father multi-platinum artists such as Survivor, Journey and Foreigner.
Focusing on supremely crafted songs with huge hooks, luscious vocals, stabbing keyboards, razor sharp guitars and impressive arrangements, their self-titled debut album immediately struck a chord with fans and critics alike.

With such rich talent on display it was hardly surprising to find that the band were courted by some of the biggest power brokers in the industry including Deep Purple manager Bruce Payne, and Atlantic Records sister label Atco, with whom the band eventually signed in 1980.
Produced by renowned British producer Tim Friese Greene, the Touch album caused a sensation amongst fans of the genre being hailed as instant classic and a record that would go on to become a master class in AOR technology.
The album shoot Touch to secure a slot at the inaugural UK Mosters Of Rock Festival held at Donington Park, going down in history as the first ever band to perform at this legendary event.

Sadly, unlike many contemporaries, Touch never received the commercial acclaim that their music undoubtedly deserved. Despite this, however, the Touch legacy continues to endure and impress with each passing day as one of the seminal rockin' AOR bands of the genre, and now this album owns a cult classic status.
With an excellent remastering job (it's truly brilliant) by Rock Candy and two bonus tracks, "Touch" is a must have for any AOR / Melodic Rock fan, never sounding outdated, on the contrary, all this material still stands vital and fresh.
This is where all started my friends...

01 - Don't You Know What Love Is
02 - When The Spirit Moves You
03 - Love, Don't Fail Me
04 - Black Star
05 - There's A Light
06 - So High
07 - Last Chance For Love
08 - Yes (You Need To Rock 'N Roll)
09 - Listen (Can You Feel It)
10 - My Life Depends On You [B-side] (bonus track)
11 - Don't You Know What Love Is [Live at Donington 1980] (bonus track)

Craig Brooks - vocals, guitars
Mark Mangold - vocals, keyboards
Doug Howard - vocals, bass
Glenn Kithcart - drums, percussion



TRAGIK - Hunger (2013)

TRAGIK - Hunger (2013) mp3 download


If there is a workaholic man in music business, Phil Vincent takes the prize. Whether solo, with Legion, D'Ercole, or in this case, TRAGIK, the albums keep coming like there is no tomorrow.
"Hunger" is the fourth release by Tragik, perhaps Phil's most melodic rock band / project where he lends to a more personal material, even in an earnest manner than on the solo albums under his own name.

Vincent is a prolific songwriter, but when you expand your arms like an octopus on too many projects at the same time, it puts you on risk to repeat yourself. Well, Mr. Phil Vincent is a clever musician, as he is absolutely focused separating the wheat from the chaff.
First of all, the man maintains a stable line up for every project. Tragik consists of Phil Vincent on vocals, bass, keyboards and occasional guitar, Damian D´Ercole on guitars and Dirk Phillips on drums, the same crew since the band born. Of course Damian D´Ercole is also bandmate in the group of the same name, but Phil is some kind of side member there, not the main director.
So Tragik works, rehearsal and record with its own identity, commanded by Vincent's more classic inspired songwriting, quite far from Legion's heavy Dokken-esque side.

When I talk about classic inspiration, I mean Foreigner, Boston, some Styx, Kansas, and even The Beatles. It is definitely melodic rock oriented as always, but the arrangements are more adventurous, the keyboards play a larger role and the guitars riffs are smoother.
Tracks like "Don't Say a Word", the great "Look At Yourself" (a highlight), "I Will Remember" (Foreigner comes to mind) or "No Tomorrow" are high quality enthusiastic '80s melodic rockers, full or catchy rhythms and harmonies. This is really, really good stuff.

But all these are interspersed by different, and varied material.
"Eye In The Sky" ranks amongst the best Vincent compositions ever, and also should be his more longest tack ever reaching the twelve minute mark. Don't be afraid, this is a fantastic song. It starts with a clean guitar in a midtempo pace and some eighties Kansas feel, D´Ercole soon unleashes a superb solo (I mean excellent), then the tempo raises with lots of keys and sharp guitars into a melodic rock heaven. Vincent shows his notable improvements in the vocal department with mature inflections and great control. At the middle section, synth injections gives to the song a catchy commercial aura, and for the end the track goes mid-paced again, blending bluesy guitars and vintage keys into a Beatles / Cheap Trick melody.
The aforementioned mix of styles may look weird on paper, but trust me, it's a terrific composition. Vincent has surprised me like never before, and in the better way possible.
The variation is shown as well on "This Is How It Has to Be" where the melodic rock is still present yet here with a seventies hard rock spice (but modern sounding) featuring a muscular bluesy solo, and "Til the End of Time" is an acoustic, simply but wonderfully delivered tune akin Elefante's work with Mastedon.

"Hunger" is not only the best Tragik album so far, it's the best Phil Vincent recording ever, and one of the most compelling indie Melodic Rock releases of the year.
Vincent has been working hard lately to improve one important flaw present on all his bands / projects: the uneven production (Phil is at charge always). Well, "Hunger" is the triumphant effort. Where the drums used to sound flat and mechanical, now all come crisp & clear, while the abundant keyboards and sharp balanced guitars in the mix perfectly blend with the, as said, controlled and fluid vocals.
The only fault on "Hunger" is the horrible, cheap cover artwork that not reflects the high quality material on offer inside, but you know, what matters is the music, and you will be amazed by this impressive, solid Vincent & Co. Melodic Rock CD.
Highly Recommended.

01 - Giving Up
02 - Don't Say A Word
03 - Look At Yourself
04 - Eye In The Sky
05 - I Will Remember
06 - For You
07 - No Tomorrow
08 - This Is How It Has To Be
09 - Til The End Of Time

Phil Vincent - All Vocals, Bass, Keyboards, add. Guitar
Damian D'Ercole - Guitars, Percussion
Dirk Phillips - Drums, Keyboards



Friday, July 12, 2013

GRAEME SWALLOW - Portrait Of A Zebra (2013)

GRAEME SWALLOW - Portrait Of A Zebra (2013) mp3 download


GRAEME SWALLOW is a multi-instrumentalist, progressive rocker akin to Jordan Rudess. He started learning and playing music with private piano lessons at age five, and since his teens performing with different bands and as sessionist.
"Portrait Of A Zebra" is his second album as main artist where he handles almost everything, and after the listening experience I wonder why this guy isn't playing with some of the best in Prog.

"The Savanna" opens quietly with the sounds of nature and slow bass line, then a soft, clean guitar creates atmosphere for an enchanting flute, drawing a picture recalling early Genesis. Take advantage of this moment of calm, because a storm of music is about to hit you.
The action begins with "Zebra Song" through lightning bolt electric guitars, big drums and amazing keyboards. I love how the variety of keyboards arrangements are used on this recording. One of the four guest singers, Jimmy Rokka, provides solid vocals on this track.
One of the best lyrical songs on the album is "Father And Son". It opens with forceful electric guitars, drums, and majestic keys. This sounds so much like the Star Wars story, but it echoes through the ages; 'Aren't we all a little like the father? Aren't we a little like the son? Fighting the battle that rages within us, Never sure if we've lost or won'. Tenor Thomas Irwin performs some operatic vocals giving it that otherworldly power.
If you are a fan of the keyboards (like me), "Racing Towards Destiny", will stay with you long after the song ends. This is a keyboard fans' heaven. Words cannot explain this track, it must be experienced. Remember I mentioned Jordan Rudess earlier… well; he might be impressed by this show of force.

GRAEME SWALLOW - Portrait Of A Zebra (2013) back

Swallow did his research well in locating excellent vocalists to guest on this album. Next to appear is Marissa Garrison on "Love No More". She does an expert job of putting feeling and emotion into this sad tune, drenching it with heart-felt kindness. The piano work, supporting keys and effects surround Garrison's vocals perfectly for great effect.
It's back to excellent guitar and keys on "Garmonbozia (Pain and Sorrow)". With the title you can tell it will be dark and sad, but the lifting lead electric guitar and Shadow Gallery-like keys help take the edge off the tough lyrics. Stuart Pendergast's guest lead electric solo is definitely amazing, and Chad Wagner performs the melodic vocals on this one.
Wagner also leads "(You Don't) Know Me", a greatly balanced, midtempo melodious prog composition. The keyboards are classic Dream Theater, whilst Wagner's vocals, the pace and rhythm of the song, takes me back to classic Arena circa some of their best albums like 'The Visitor' or maybe 'Pepper's Ghost'. This will delight melodic hard rock fans as well.

If you enjoyed "Racing Towards Destiny", be prepared for another keyboards galore with "Theories of the Dawn". It starts majestically and slow, but the pace picks up, along with excellent hammer drums.
"Unseen Power" opens like a classic Genesis song with perfect guitar and soft vocals. Jimmy Rokka is back to the mic with a deep, soulful delivery as the song develops, with the rounded bass and groovy guitar creating a quite dark but moving environment.
The short instrumental "Lament for the Innocent" is full of cool keyboard effects, before that grand piano takes over and the guitars, keys and bass join in to create an almost theatrical or orchestral setting.
"Thanksgiving" is the closer, where the rhythm section and the building tension of the electric lead guitars help create the perfect backdrop for the epic music that will follow. Jimmy Rokka is back, this time in more dramatic vocal delivery, while musically, the composition goes for a fast ride.

On "Portrait Of A Zebra" Graeme Swallow has created a solid, strong progressive piece of work, moving from modern sympho, prog metal and classic prog, but with very catchy and inventive passages very close to melodic Neo Prog.
Swallow's songwriting abilities denotes an expertise craft with each song sounding unique, while still sounding like they all belong together. His musicianship is excellent on all instruments, but the guy truly excels on the keyboards, lots of keys to enjoy here. The personnel is really effective, and production excellent for an indie.
I suspect Graeme Swallow will be hired very soon by a major Prog act, meanwhile, enjoy his terrific "Portrait Of A Zebra", much more than 'another' progressive recording.

01. The Savanna
02. Zebra Song
03. Father and Son
04. Racing Towards Destiny
05. Love No More
06. Garmonbozia (Pain and Sorrow)
07. (You Don't) Know Me
08. Theories of the Dawn
09. Unseen Power
10. Lament for the Innocent
11. Thanksgiving

Graeme Swallow - Guitars, Keyboards, Drums, Vocals
Marissa Garrison - Vocals
Jimmy Rokka - Vocals
Thomas Irwin - Vocals
Chad Wagner - Vocals
Kyle King - Bass
Stuart Pendergast - Guitar solo



EDENBRIDGE - The Bonding (2013)

EDENBRIDGE - The Bonding (2013) mp3 download


There have been a lot of buzz around Austria's Melodic/Symphonic Metal act EDENBRIDGE since their foundation 13 years ago, but none of the band's seven albums to date really hit me much.
Things started to change to my ears with this female fronted group new album "The Bonding", quite different in its conception than before, featuring nine rather unusual but atmospheric, captivating and emotive (epic) songs.

Chief and multi-instrumentalist Lanvall wanted to create something special here, and enlisted the support of the Klangvereinigung Orchestra of Vienna under the direction of Georg Luksch, and believe me it will stun you when you experience the power that the orchestra brings to "The Bonding".
We have also a new line-up: with Sabine Edelsbacher on lead vocals, Lanvall on rhythm & acoustic guitars, bass, keyboards, kacapi & piano, Max Pointner on drums and Dominik Sebastian handling guitars, bassist Wolfgang Rothbauer debuts here, while as guests are stellar participations by Erik Martenssson from Melodic Hard Rock wonders Eclipse, and the mighty Dutch Robby Valentine providing backing vocals & choirs.

EDENBRIDGE - The Bonding (2013) band

The album starts with a seven minute song called "Mystic River", and rumbles along with a mid-tempo gallop loaded with big symphonics (courtesy of the Klangvereinigung Orchestra) and carried by Sabine’s stellar vocals. It's very lush and features some nice low-key choral segments, with many melodious changes and a magnificent guitar duel.
"Alight a New Tomorrow" is more vibrant and rocking and has a big, hooky chorus that Sabine sells like a pro. Also of high quality is the moody ballad "Into the Sea of Souls" which is restrained and soothing, but full of emotion. "Far Out of Reach" also has a plethora of nice ideas and Sabine is extra impressive throughout.
And then we have title track "The Bonding". It's a long sympho epic with many parts, but contrary to what happened before with this band (at least to me) is not boring at all. Really well balanced, with power moments nuancing melodic passages and the orchestra arrangement also adding great texture, this monster composition finds the leads of Sabine in superb concoction with Erik Martensson's awesome throat.

"The Bonding" is grand, engaging and entertaining, more than just generic symphonic metal. It's really melodic, never too heavy, and plenty of interesting subtleties to discover.
You can tell Edenbridge put a lot of work into this album: detailed arrangements, thoughtful musicianship and terrific production. But what has chained me this time is the 'sense of melody', I mean, this recording isn't purely based on sympho-metal bombastics, there's more ambition than before to find 'the song' essence.

1. Mystic River
2. Alight a New Tomorrow
3. Star-Crossed Dreamer
4. The Invisible Force
5. Into a Sea of Souls
6. Far Out of Reach
7. Shadows of Memory
8. Death is not the End
9. The Bonding

Sabine Edelsbacher - Lead Vocals
Lanvall - Guitars, Bass, Keyboards & Piano, Kacapi
Max Pointer - Drums
Dominik Sebastian - Guitars
Wolfgang Rothbauer - Bass
Erik Martenssson - Lead Vocals on "The Bonding"
Robby Valentine - Backing Vocals & Choirs



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