Thursday, April 11, 2013
Wednesday, April 10, 2013
Having tried their luck in bands like Gift and Blackfoot Sue, British brothers Tom & David Farmer and guitarist Eddie Golga decided to go for a more Melodic Rock approach and adopted the moniker OUTSIDE EDGE.
At the beginning of the '80s they lived and played in France for a while and it was the French department of WEA that picked them up for the release of a self-titled debut album in 1984. At the time the band was criminally ignored elsewhere in the Melodic Rock world, but things changed for the better when they gained the support slot for a Bryan Adams UK tour a year later.
These live presentations resulted in a record deal with 10 Records (a subsidiary of Virgin), and two albums worthy of your attention.
The label put a lot of money into the production of Outside Edge's debut with them and recommended Terry Manning to produce, a man who already worked with Led Zeppelin and ZZ Top.
Under his experienced guide the band recorded "Running Hot" in 1986, a wonderful slice of Melodic Rock AOR in the classic British mid-eighties style very similar to Airrace, Virginia Wolf and Shy, plenty of soaring melodies and catchy choruses.
So it's no wonder that the album includes such memorable tracks like opener "Hearbeat Away", the rocking' MR blast of title track "Running Hot" or the soulful "Wait".
There's other gems in the keyboard-driven "Louella", the atmospheric "Don't Be A Hero", the elegant "Heartbreaker" or the AOR diamond "You".
German label AOR Heaven Classix is releasing digitally remastered for the first time both classic Outside Edge albums (the other is 'More Edge', to be featured here soon).
This "Running Hot" remaster sounds more warm in frequencies and slightly 'reverbered', well balanced in all the sonic aspects.
Some kind of a Melodic Rock AOR underground classic, "Running Hot" is a must have in any fan collection.
01 - Heartbeat Away
02 - Wait
03 - Louella
04 - Don't Be A Hero
05 - Running Hot
06 - Don't Leave Me Tonight
07 - You
08 - Heartbreaker
09 - Hold On
Tom Farmer - vocals, bass
Eddie Golga - guitars, vocals
Peter Giles - keyboards
David Farmer - drums
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Today, on April 9, 2013, Purple Pyramid (a subsidiary of Cleopatra Records) is releasing a special CD/DVD combo by CONSPIRACY, the project masterminded by the giants of prog rock CHRIS SQUIRE & BILLY SHERWOOD.
Sherwood met Squire when he entered in YES at the beginning of the '90s, since then the pair had been writing songs together but the fruits of those labors would be sprinkled over a series of Yes projects, and Sherwood himself wouldn't become an official member of the group for years.
After Sherwood's eventual departure in 2000 they finally issued a two albums as Conspiracy, but there remained a star-crossed sense of unfinished business. So they recorded this private show in 2004.
First of all, "Conspiracy Live" is not a live CD in the typical way: there's no audience claps and screams, nor a stage-like sound. This is like a studio album, just with all musicians playing live together.
Of course it has that special vibe and chemistry of these truly virtuosos playing 'at once', including Billy's bro Michael Sherwood on keyboards & vocals, Scott Walton also on keys, and awesome rockin' drummer Jay Schellen (Unruly Child, Hurricane).
This was a very special and unique event, as apart of Conspiracy material, it features two Yes songs: "The More We Live" (appeared on the 'Union' album) but for the first time here featuring Squire and Sherwood on vocals sharing a soaring duet. The other is "Universal Garden", performed with a more warm feeling than the original.
Of course there's material from Conspiracy's 2000 self-titled debut ("Days of Wonder" and "Red Light Ahead), and three cuts ("Conspiracy", "New World" and "Confess") from the project second and last album The Unknown, each of them representing their trademark sound.
"Conspiracy Live" showcases as well renditions of " Hold Out Your Hand / You By My Side", songs from Squire's 'Fish Out Of Water' - the bassist's first and so far, only solo release - which as he says, 'have hardly ever been played live'.
"Conspiracy Live" shows the abilites and musicality of these seasoned monster musicians with a nice, sweet melodic sound.
The arrangements are quite accessible, enhancing the unmistakable vocals of Chris Squire and the exceptional musicianship spearheaded by Billy Sherwood. Great drum sound as well, you can clearly appreciate Schellen's precise beats.
Very Good stuff.
01 - Conspiracy
02 - Days Of Wonder
03 - New World
04 - Red Light Ahead
05 - Confess
06 - The More We Live
07 - Hold Out Your Hand / You By My Side
08 - Universal Garden
Chris Squire - bass, vocals
B. Sherwood - guitars, keys, vocals
Jay Schellen - drums
Michael Sherwood - keys, vocals
Scott Walton - keys
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Tuesday, April 9, 2013
Swedish axe-slinger, former Europe guitarist KEE MARCELLO seems to be a very busy man lately, decided to recover his place into the international Rock scene.
After releasing his controversial Europe own-versions album 'Redux: Europe', the 'humbly' entitled biography 'The Rock Star God Forgot' and his performance in the well known musical Rock Of Ages in Scandinavia, Marcello has just released a brand new CD.
"Judas Kiss" is his third solo album featuring original material since the last almost nine years ago.
Decidedly into a full rocking territory, "Judas Kiss" is basically a traditional Hard Rock album with an updated sound & style.
Sometimes really melodic, quite hard n' heavy in others, this new offering finds Marcello in great form, both musically (he has undoubtedly inspired many players since Europe's Superstitious back in the late '80s) as well as in the songwriting.
"Judas Kiss" as a whole is a solid piece of kickin' Hard Rock. 13 tracks about love, loss, road weariness and betrayal (there's some good lyrics to be found) wrapped by potent riffs, incendiary solos and a groovy rhythm section.
Kee is singing better, his slightly raspy style fit with good feeling these bluesy inspired hard rockers. His playing is out of question, displayed here in abundant variations.
On the melodic side, "Starless Sky" is the highlight, somehow a midtempo rocker with excellent verses both in the vocals and the instrumental arrangements. Killer solo and layered chorus.
Despite its uptempo rhythm and some gritty vocals, opener "Zombie" is a melodic hard rock song in essence, while the bone-dry, groovy yet melodious "Dead End Highway" (love the solo here) and title track "Judas Kiss" recalls his ex-bandmates circa Start From The Dark years.
Another nice track which adds variation is the melodic march of "And Forever More", featuring female singer Akane Liv dueting with Kee. The main melody is inspired by one of Europe's best tracks ever; Girl From Lebanon.
"Coming Home" is the album's token ballad, slowing things down a bit with an earthy guitar work and modulated vocals. Good one.
But also we find in this CD some truly hard hitting numbers such as "Get On Top", the dark "Metal Box", "The Harder They Come" (with a riff dangerously close to Metallica's Enter Sandman, but cool), and the crunchy "Dog Eat Dog". "I'm Stoned" features some down-tuned guitars and a refrain akin Alice In Chains working well on all levels.
"Love Will Tear Us Apart" is a cover of Joy Division, at first glance certainly an odd choice, but Marchello has cleverly arranged the song in Melodic Rockin' way, adding even more balance to the album. I liked a lot this one.
Kee Marcello proves with "Judas Kiss" that there's life for him after Europe.
Perhaps it has taken too many years to find his own musical identity, but never it's too late, and this new recording is by far the best of his solo career.
Well written, arranged and superbly played, "Judas Kiss" has a dynamic production - I would preferred a more crispy sound - but seems Kee wants to attack with more bite and this matter is amply accomplished here.
02. Dog Eat Dog
03. Starless Sky
04. I'm Stoned
05. Dead End Highway
06. Judas Kiss
07. And Forever More (duet with Akane Liv)
08. Coming Home
09. Get On Top
10. The Harder They Come
11. Dead Give Away
12. Love Will Tear Us Apart
13. Metal Box
Kee Marcello: Lead Guitar, Lead Vocals
Jonny Scaramanga: Guitar
Ken Sandin: Bass
Tim Brown: Drums
Akane Liv: guest Vocals
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If you're used to the big sounds which defined MIKE TRAMP through his platinum days with White Lion or the heavier Freak Of Nature, then his hew album released today, "Cobblestone Street", will take you by surprise.
According to Tramp, this is the album he always dreamt about doing.
This place, a location oft walked by singer/songwriter types, is where he finds himself today and, bravely it has to be said, has influenced him into making a quite remarkable record.
Recorded by Mike himself together with his good friend - talented Soren Andersen (multi-instrumentalist and co-producer) - in Vesterbro, Copenhagen, not far from the cobblestone streets Mike grew up on, the album is described as a journey akin to viewing a movie of his life, its end providing you with details of just who Mike Tramp is.
It's hard to disagree with him. The lyrics that wrap themselves around a clutch of songs that most listeners will instantly warm to are heartfelt, love letters to a past, possibly even a catharsis in song form: the ten songs that make up "Cobblestone Street" combine to form the finest all-round release of Tramp's career.
The title track, lyrically, appears highly personal to the artist, setting the scene nicely being about his childhood and where he grew up. The album as a whole obviously so, if a little more subtly, but listeners will pick much from the bones of the tracks as they swirl and seduce.
This is a simple, yet simply effective, recording that is easy to listen to yet not easy listening.
So when on "We'll Be Alright" he says that few would appreciate what it's like to walk a thousand miles with him, Tramp is telling you the truth. But in suggesting that you don't get what he's all about, Mike is challenging you to listen more attentively than you've ever needed to in his career.
These beautiful songs draw from his soul, exploring moral confusion in "Angel Or Devil" and being at the mercy of fate in the acoustic White Lion-like "What Are You Gonna Do".
Throughout the album Soren Andersen adds-in just the right musical backing, be it the subdued keys on the title track or the electric guitar solo on "Revolution".
Listen to "Find It In Your Heart" or "New Day" and it's clear Tramp Tramp has not lost his Melodic Rock symphaties, his knack of penning a potential chart topper is intact.
On "Once" Mike's vocal is set to a crackly background bringing to mind an old movie and you can hear the reel of the imaginary film spooling out at the song's end.
"Ain't The Life I Asked For", the album's standout track for me, perhaps sums the record, and where Tramp is today, up perfectly: "This ain't the life that I wanted to live / Now it is what I've become".
This album feels less of a reinvention, more of an acceptance of where he is today, and revels in its honesty.
Since the first note of "Cobblestone Street", I was hooked. This album is in no way hard rock or brash as White Lion, but that's the beauty of it. This is one of those songwriting accomplishments that define an artist's career.
These are deeply personal tunes that take the art of storytelling to the highest levels. 'Now everyone can see, it ain't the way it used to be', Tramp sings on "New Day", a line I find hard to beat to close a review of one of the year's most surprising albums; surprisingly good it has to be noted.
Tramp followers should adore "Cobblestone Street", however, this album shouldn't be the sole possession of old school fans: listeners new to Mike Tramp will find a truly deep, well written, emotional performed recording of amazing tunes.
There simply is not a bad note on this record. It would be absolutely criminal if this is not recognized for a ton of awards this year, and most importantly, true music lovers respect.
01. Cobblestone Street
02. Caught In The Storm
03. New Day
04. Ain't The Life I Asked For
06. We'll Be Alright
07. Angel Or Devil
08. Find It In Your Heart
09. What Are You Gonna Do
Mike Tramp - vocals, guitar
Søren Andersen - keyboards, drums, guitar, bass, production
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Sunday, April 7, 2013
Female fronted Swedish band MISTH may be new in name, but all members are veterans of the Swedish music scene.
The sextet are presenting debut "Rise Of A New Day", just released on CD in Scandinavia and for the moment, digitally only worldwide.
If you noticed above, I said 'music scene' and not metal because extraordinary lead singer Maria Rådsten has never been in a metal-related band before. Die hard fans of Swedish pop music and Eurovision may recognize the name Maria Rådsten as she was a member of the group One More Time which actually placed 3rd in Eurovision in 1996.
After listening Maria's incredible performance on Misth's debut album "Rise Of A New Day", I would say she definitely has made the right choice moving into the rocking territory.
To form Misth, Maria teamed up with members of the band Mercury Fang, noted for playing hard rock ala Whitesnake with a distinct metal edge.
Although "Rise Of A New Day" certainly has its roots in progressive metal, the music definitely has some hard rock influences, spiced with accessible riffs, catchy choruses and some very nice harmonies.
The prog metal recipe developed by Misth infusing more traditional hard elements is certainly quite original, as the melodies fly sharp and bouncy over the elaborated heavy-prog arrangements. Maria Rådsten's melodious vocal variations work equally well on the progressive metal portions of the album as well in the more hard rocking numbers.
"Rise Of A New Day", "Something Better Change", the rhythmically rich "Unknown" and the quite heavy "Into The Void" are plenty of prog metal overtones.
But as said, Mysth does not get stuck on just one sound. Cuts like "Life's Arena", "Something Better Change" or the slower "Everyday" are definitely in the hard rocking side of things, featuring choruses even flirting with Melodic Hard Rock.
Taking the best of both worlds, opener "I Call Your Name" and one of the highlights; "Day Of Retribution", clearly express the band's quality and versatility mixing the genres.
New Swedish outfit Misth tries to blend two different styles in their debut CD "Rise Of A New Day", and I must say the band emerges victorious from their purpose. This a progressive album in two directions: Prog Metal and progressive Hard Rock, and both work really well for Misth, sounding homogeneous, solid as a rock.
Although Maria stands out on vocals and is very high in the mix, don't despair as the musicianship on "Rise Of A New Day" is excellent. The twin guitars construct the main musical sound whether playing the melodic solos, heavy progressive layers or even some straight Hard Rock crunchy riffs.
Keyboards have an important role too creating nice atmospheres, and the rhythm section is flexible to the style chosen in each occasion.
Impressive, very recommended debut.
01 - I Call Your Name
02 - Life's Arena
03 - Rise Of A New Day
04 - Everyday
05 - Something Better Change
06 - Into The Void
07 - Unknown
08 - Sending Down An Angel
09 - In Or Out
10 - Day Of Retribution
Maria Rådsten - Vocals
Håkan Granat - Guitar
Fredrik Glimbrand - Guitar
Jorgen Schelander - Keyboards
Olle Brodén - Bass
Martin Larsson - Drums
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Complete Version 16 tracks
Finally, and after so many years claiming for official reissues, some longtime out of print and sought after Hard Rock and Metal albums from the Swedish scene will be released by EMI Music Sweden.
Although some of these bands have received recent re-releases, like Dalton's Greatest Hits or Alien's debut (both featured here), these were licenced editions.
The EMI campaign includes the first digital edition ever of very good albums / bands like Clown, Bad Business, Red Baron, Proud, or first time official reissued CD's from Alien, Thomas Vikström, Talk Of The Town and more.
"Swedish Metal Classics ; Lost, Hidden & Forgotten" is the reissues' beachhead, a compilation containing tracks from all the bands included in the campaign.
The complete list of bands / albums to be reissued by EMI Sweden are:
01. Swedish Metal Classics;Lost, Hidden & Forgotten
02. Clown - Clown
03. Biscaya - The Eternal Masterworks
04. Proud - Proud
05. Bedlam - Beauties And The Beast
06. Bad Business - No Business Like...
07. Dalton - The Race Is On
08. Dalton - Injection
09. Red Baron - Rock 'n' Roll Power
10. Red Baron - Rock The Highway
11. Talk Of The Town - Talk Of The Town
12. Swedish Erotica - Swedish Erotica
13. Alien - Alien
14. Alien - Alien (US-mix)
15. Alien - Shiftin’ Gear
16. Alien - Best And Rare
17. Jim Jidhed - Jim
18. Thomas Vikström - If I Could Fly
19. Landlords - Mentality
20. Singer - Fill In the Blanks
21. Mustasch - The True Sounds Of The New West
22. Mustasch - Above All
23. Mustasch - Ratsafari
24. Mustasch - Powerhouse
Some of these will be featured here soon.
Meanwhile enjoy the first one, "Swedish Metal Classics ; Lost, Hidden & Forgotten", a very good compendium of the Swedish rockin' scene from the last 30 years.
01 - Clown - Lovely Liza (1981)
02 - Biscaya - Howl In The Sky (Restored Demo 1983)
03 - Proud - Fire Breaks The Dawn (1984)
04 - Bedlam - Deal With The Devil (1985)
05 - Bad Business - Stealin' My Best Friend's Woman (1986)
06 - Dalton - Can't Stop Loving You Now (1986)
07 - Bedlam - Gotta Get Away (from unreleased 2nd album 1986)
08 - Red Baron - Rock'n'oll Power (1987)
09 - Talk Of The Town - Livin' For Lovin' (1988)
10 - Swedish Erotica - We're Wild Young and Free (1989)
11 - Alien - Touch My Fire (Polar session outtake 1989)
12 - Jim Jidhed - Dangerous (1990)
13 - Thomas Vikström - Into The Fire (1993)
14 - Landlords - Liar (1994)
15 - Singer - 24 (1996)
16 - Mustasch - Muddy Waters (2002)
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Saturday, April 6, 2013
INFINITY is one of those bands started as a friend's project in their late '80s University early days, just as a musical hobby. The group even recorded a cassette in 1993, sold and distributed at the campus.
Now, 20 years later Infinity has reunited to re-work these songs and record them at a home studio, releasing them independently with the title "Seems Like Forever" only as CD-r, in a very 'hand-crafted' way.
Infinity plays the music they love far beyond the current trends; most of the songs in "Seems Like Forever" were composed between 1989 - 1992 but stylistically are planted in late seventies / early eighties Melodic Rock akin Journey, Styx, REO Speedwagon and alikes.
Tracks as "On The Edge", "Too Hot", "Tonight", "In Tune With You" or the piano ballad "Share My Life With You" are inspired by - yes, you guessed it - Journey's 'Infinity' era, with the same structures, riffs, keys and melodies.
Other numbers such as "Princess", "September Wind" and "Penny For My Thoughts" have a strong Styx smell, "Girl" recalls Giuffria's Angel, while "So Close To Paradise" is pure early REO Speedwagon.
The last 3 tracks are newly composed, with a more modern approach. "War Is Hell" has a hard rock vibe, "Losing You" is a poppy acoustic ballad, and the best of all, the midtempo "Someday" blends electricity with unplugged guitars and percussions.
Although veeery 'home made', "Seems Like Forever" has the charm of that indie recordings done from the heart.
The songs are very melodic, well composed and played, sonically delivered with all the vibe of late seventies US Melodic Rock. Of course, don't expect a Roy Thomas Baker-like bombastic production, but the band has managed to nicely capture some of the retro analog magic, armed only with Pro-Tools equipment.
"Seems Like Forever" is a trip back to seventies Journey / Styx and American MHR in general, crafted with love and passion by Infinity.
01 - Tonight
02 - Too Hot
03 - Girl
04 - So Close To Paradise
05 - Princess
06 - September Wind
07 - On The Edge
08 - In Tune With You
09 - Penny For My Thoughts
10 - Share My Life With You
11 - War Is Hell
12 - Losing You
13 - Someday
Dan Coyle - Vocals
T. Hooks - Guitar
Dee Maier - Guitar
John Slavinsky - Keyboards
Josh Kaminski - Bass
Sean Procopio - Drums, Percussion
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Friday, April 5, 2013
One of the best things about Swedes THE GLORIA STORY is that you can taste the warmth of their music and musicianship from the very first time the 'play' button has been pressed.
This becomes evident in their today's released second full length "Born To Lose".
On the debut album the band delivered a more of a Thin Lizzy and Kiss oriented hard rock with dozens of extended guitar solos, now Gloria Story have slightly changed their style still retaining their unabashed and unapologetic simple melodies.
In "Born To Lose", although it is obvious we were dealing with the same band, the sound became more straightforward, stripped down, three chord oriented with lyrics based on letting loose and having a good time.
Imagine the spirit of The Who reverberating against the groove factor of The Kinks, early Cheap Trick, some Rolling Stones and even a bit of retro Enuff Z'Nuff on instantaneous movers such as "Chill Me" (the harmonica parts against the jangly guitar riff is really cool) and the windmill worthy title cut "Born To Lose".
On numbers like "Sex Is In The House" and "Fire Won't Fade" still we find that Thin Lizzy influenced hard rocking riffs, while the seventies' Cheap Trick-like poppier "Live Your Life In Shame" or the honky-tonky "Travellers Mind" are fun and energetic.
As you see, this New Gloria Story CD is mostly '70s bare-bones classic rock driven by fuzzy guitars, an old-school rhythm section and well placed vintage-styled vocals on a bunch of songs not exceeding the 3-minute mark.
There's lots of energy, dirty riffing & rhythm on these leg shaking and melody whistling short songs. This is a totally 'do it yourself' project from start to finish, recorded with analog equipment of course, with no help from outside songwriters or producers.
All sounds direct and vintage on purpose. Fans of the first album may be a lil’ bit skeptical at first, but I think that after the second hearing will all come to place for them – as all of the Gloria Story's virtues are still here.
Nothin' has changed much after all, just the influences. Gloria Story's music still comes out of the '70s, and if you like this style, you will enjoy this second offering from the Swedes.
01. Born To Lose
02. I See You Tomorrow
04. Live Your Life In Shame
05. Torture And Pain
06. Sex Is In The House
07. Chill Me
08. Travelers Mind
09. The Only One Who Knows
10. Fire Won't Fade
11. The Black Hole
12. Waiting For The Judge
13. Alone (digital bonus track)
Joan 'Kid' Sallrot - Lead and Backing Vocals, Guitar
Filip Rapp - Guitar, Vocals, Percussion
Fredrik Axelsson - Bass, Backing Vocals
Carl Ahlander - Guitar
Henrik Siberg - Drums
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The Real One : Full no cuts
Hailing from Down Under, SHADOWQUEEN was formed around 2010 in Melbourne by female singer Robbi Zana (also bass & keyboards) and guitarist Si Hopman.
Intended to create a powerful mix of classic Hard blended with melodic sensibility without losing the attack of a live band, they opted for the trio-format, only including drummer Alex Deegan into the combo.
ShadowQueen debut "Don't Tell Me" was released by themselves two months ago in Oceania, and now the band has signed a deal with a French label to re-pack (new artwork) the CD and made it available all over the world.
ShadowQueen's style is inspired by classic female-fronted classic Hard Rock acts, with a modern approach and melodies sometimes close to rock&pop or more bluesy Melodic Rock. The music is focused in a powerhouse delivery, but all is quite polished and controlled, giving breath to smoothly arise the melodies.
There's some hot guitar riffs, rounded bass lines and pounding drums drawing the songs, but the star in ShadowQueen are Robbi's vocals.
She may not (yet) be in the league of one Ann Wilson, but man, what she pulls off here is surely very convincing. Melodic, and still able to carry all the songs with power and variation. Robbi has that kind of vocal colour that you love in an instant.
Musically, the trio adds some little twists to their modern bluesy Hard here and there, proving they can handle some less obvious rhythmic ideas with ease. Nothing all too fancy, but still noticeable and giving them even more identity.
Opener "Best Of Me" is driven by a groovy riff and smashing drums, and although the chorus is quite anthemic, the middle part of the song somehow reminds me early eighties Heart.
Title track "Don't Tell" is more modern, pumped by a cracking bass and a catchy rhythm guitar. It's hooky, with Robbi's singing fluctuating between lascivious and gasp bringing to mind eighties Joan Jett.
"Any Another Day" goes for the groove again, followed by the harder "What You Want" featuring a clean yet heavy guitar work and in your face Lee Aaron styled vocals.
To add some variation, "Prelude To Silence" is a nice piano (performed by Robbi) intro to the next track "Silence", an impressive darker rocker constructed over and unusual broken rhythm. The chorus is quite original as well, making this track one of the most interesting on the album.
"Karma" is the only ballad - more properly a slow tune - and it's another captivating number. The guitar wraps you like a lullaby and the husky vocals (in the Melissa Etheridge style) are really spellbinding. Then in the chorus the song explodes with ferocity providing a great effect. Very good.
Then again the rocking attitude returns with "Bruised", featuring one of the best guitar solos here. "Wake Up" is a straight eighties rocker in the Baby Animals vein with good melody, a bit simplistic but effective.
"Paint Your Face" is the more Melodic (Hard) Rock oriented track on offer, somehow musically reminding me Shakra, while Robbi's sounds like Robin Beck on steroids. I like this.
For the end, ShadowQueen goes directly to the yugular with the dynamic "Get Off", a punchy hard rocker on all cylinders with solid vocals in full power.
"Don't Tell Me" is an impressive debut for "Shadowqueen", a female fronted Hard Rock band rich in musicality and attitude.
A very good vocalist and solid songs are a pretty fine starting point for anybody, especially if it grooves and rocks hard like Shadowqueen does here in only 38 minutes.
Well produced, hard hitting but clean and polished, "Don't Tell Me" is a truly enjoyable album packed with kickin', effective cuts to quench your thirst of good Female Fronted Hard Rock.
Robbi Zana – Vocals, Bass, Keyboards
Si Hopman – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Alex Deegan – Drums
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Thursday, April 4, 2013
From the ashes of a metal band known as Iron Rage, remaining members John Williams (vocals, guitar) and Mike Fitzgerald (drums) formed RAT ALLEY at the beginning of 1989 in their native Boston, USA.
With the addition of bassist Chris Dahlstedt (ex- Tin Pan Alley), the group toured the Massachusetts area becoming quite popular, opening for major acts like Overkill and T.N.T., while recorded their own songs onto tape.
They were close to sign a deal with Cherrydisk Records, but due to internal troubles the band decided to call it quits in January, 1992.
Rat Alley reunited few years ago for some concerts, and now finally after all these years they're releasing their long delayed album "The Storm".
Rat Alley (the group's name was taken after a notorious alley in Boston where the band often partied) style is quite curious; they blend the nuances of Californian Hard Rock - specially on the choruses - with the typical East US Metal intense riffage so common those days in America.
This mix works for the most part on all the nine tracks included into "The Storm".
The foot-tapping, commercial "Rockin' Romancer" and "The Storm", the bluesy hard rocker "Leave Me Alone" and the dirty "One Way Town" (nice solo) contrast with more metalized, darker tracks such as "Nothin Like You" and "Down And Out", both featuring a strong US Metal imprint surely influenced by the member's previous band.
Rat Alley's "The Storm" is a cool and nice way to taste the rock sound populating the US East Coast twenty five years ago.
The band definitely sounds like a trio - a power trio I'd say - and while most of the tracks are straightforward rockers fueled by pentatonic guitars, all are quite melodic juxtaposing bravado with catchiness. All songs are well recorded and mastered considering its analog source.
John M. Williams - Vocals, Guitars
Chris Dahlstedt - Bass, Backing Vocals
Mike Fitzgerald - Drums, Backing Vocals
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Finally, one of the most promising young Melodic Hard Rock bands of the new generation got signed and their debut is being released worldwide.
We're talking about the Southampton, UK based rockers SUMMERS and their first CD "364".
Summers gets their name from two brothers Crash and Ricky Summers who formed the group in 2007 aiming to create a unique blend of iconic stadium rock inspired by eighties sounds.
Let's get one thing straight here, these guys are not shying away from their influences: this lot's desire is to be 21st century Def Leppard.
While it is true that 'talent can't be recreated' (as once John Sykes said after being fired from Whitesnake in 1987), Summers takes the best bits of '80s Leppard - together with some Bon Jovi and Thin Lizzy - and re-packs them for a new generation.
And when things are done with this quality you must have talent, and huge amounts of it.
I should summarize this review saying "364" (the number of days it took to complete the album) is merely Amazing.
This is simply a glossy, shining, Mutt Lange-style produced album full of 5-part harmony layered vocals, catchy and pristine as the pure Arctic water.
All the tracks on offer have been written and arranged with maximum detail always with the sense of melody as primal factor, enriched with hooks galore, great solos, even greater choruses.
Not to talk about production: the music industry does not do more records like this. "364" was recorded in Cyprus and produced by a major; Clyde Ward (Eric Clapton, Sting, Lenny Kravitz), mixed by Jens Klein in Germany and mastered by Pat Reese in the USA.
As you can see, they have spared nothing, and this investment paid each dividend.
"364" is an almost perfect Melodic Hard Rock (at places AOR) record.
Track by track? You don't need a description. All tracks are awesome, the musicianship is awesome, the songs are awesome...
Yeah, this type of stuff has been done before... but who cares? You can't reinvent the wheel in this genre, instead it's not easy to produce this charming, thrilling material as the music included in "364". And few can muster such quality like Summers have here.
I am in love with this album, and without a doubt you will be too once you get your mitts on this potential future classic.
A Must Have.
01 - Shot In The Dark
02 - Superhero
03 - Girls
04 - Too Late
05 - Sometimes
06 - Steal Away
07 - Let's Make Love
08 - Billy
09 - Let's Go Round
10 - Told You So
11 - Terminator
12 - Rockmachine
Crash Summers – Lead vocals
Ricky Summers – Bass & vocals
Jason Sepala – Guitars & vocals
Sam Hickling – Guitars & vocals
Andy Pope – Drums & vocals
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Wednesday, April 3, 2013
At the dawn of the hard-rocking seventies, Chicago (the band) blew out of the windy city to populate the AC/AOR charts for the next several decades and earn their place in rock history.
Original drummer Danny Seraphine was dismissed from Chicago in 1990, then he formed CTA: California Transit Authority. Fast forward to the 21st century, CTA enlists Seraphine and incredible guitarist Marc Bonilla as songwriting force, along with keyboardists Ed Roth & Peter Fish and bassist Mick Mahan, with the simple goal of making the most of the music they love.
The band's 2007 debut garnered critical raves and spawned some legendary live CTA performances, and now the combo are presenting their second studio effort entitled "Sacred Ground".
CTA has - over the two and a half years it took to get this follow up out - developed an air-tight cohesion with Bonilla (who also works as a key cog in the Keith Emerson band) writing or co-writing eight of this album’s 14 tracks, and also handled the all-important horn arrangements on nine cuts, while Seraphine helped compose five others. They’ve become two halves of the one soul-lifting whole.
But, like Chicago did before CTA, there is actually a chorus of voices involved with "Sacred Ground". Seraphine brings some of the best Westcoast talents with him for this new recording including former Chicago bandmate Bill Champlin, his son Will Champlin, ex- Tower of Power vocalist Larry Braggs and many more.
"Sacred Ground" brings back the original Chicago (the band) groove, the one with that challenging rhythm section, the infused horns, the fusion yet rocking guitars, all with with new power and excitement.
Champlin’s son Will takes center stage for the funky-cool title track as well as "Strike", a mid-century swinger he co-wrote.
Bonilla sings his own song "Out of Reason", delivering a much more pop sound that you get from his work with Keith Emerson. He also joins with Will Champlin for a duet on the uptempo and catchy "Staring at the Sun" later.
CTA and company take the opportunity to stretch out on take-no-prisoners instrumentals like "Primetime" and "In The Kitchen", displaying a versatility and a virtuosity that feels like a breath of fresh, creative air across today's over-programmed radio landscape.
By any definition, Sacred Ground is an eclectic collection, but somehow the brush-stroked balladry of "Go On" (delivered in a soulful near-whisper by vocalist Eric Redd) feels right at home.
Keyboardist Ed Roth penned "Conviction", a quietly impactful solo tribute to Ronnie Montrose, a mentor to so many young musicians — including Bonilla — before his tragic passing last year.
True to form, CTA also takes on a couple of choice covers. Larry Bragg's soaring vocal on the funky-and-nostalgic "Take Me Back to Chicago" will bring chill bumps and a smile to longtime fans, while his singing on the Blood, Sweat & Tears classic "I Love You More Than You'll Ever Know" catapults Al Kooper's original to new heights.
The album's vocal high point, however, belongs to the eternal Bill Champlin, whose masterful performance transforms the moving and cathartic "Full Circle" into the album's centerpiece. It builds on the power ballad '80s sound of Chicago, just call it pure US Westcoast AOR.
California Transit Authority's "Sacred Ground" is a wonderful piece of music, that not only connects the dots back to Seraphine’s time in the legendary Chicago, it also shows yet again how their classic sound can be updated for a new generation.
Each individual track on "Sacred Ground" carves out its own space, but the overall theme – of self-realization, circles unbroken and musical rebirth – lives and breathes in all these extraordinary songs.
For everyone involved, the making of "Sacred Ground" obviously was a full-on labor of love, for us, the listeners, a real pleasure to the ears.
Danny Seraphine - drums, percussion
Mark Bonilla - guitar
Will Champlin - vocals
Bill Champlin - vocals
Larry Braggs - vocals
Wes Quave - vocals
Eric Redd - vocals
Peter Fish - keyboards
Edward Roth - keyboards
Mick Mahan, Travis Davis - bass
Luis Conte - percussion
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Robert Allen is a well known songwriter / musician in the American music biz since the last thirty years contributing songs for many artists, publishing agencies and film studios / soundtracks.
Allen fronted as well a project called USED RECORDS during the '80s, whose recordings were finally released by legendary German label Long Island Records in 1994.
Robert Allen is still active and recently agreed to license some Used Records songs to be featured in the CW TV show 'The Carrie Diaries'.
These tracks were remastered by Allen and in sync with the feature in the show, the specialized in film & TV soundtracks Chicago based label Music Of The Sea is releasing the material as "Fly Like The Wind" EP.
These are typical '80s movie-like poppy AOR songs with melodic guitars, tons keyboards, super-compressed drums and commercial choruses.
Quite cheesy if you ask me, but, who does not like that naif, easy to the ears, radio-friendly tunes?
1. Fly Like The Wind
2. Three Way Heartbreak
3. Without A Trace
Walker Reeves: vocals, guitar
Robert Allen: guitar, piano, percussion
Joe Norosavage: keyboards, programming
Garry Tallent: bass
Max Weinberg: drums
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