Radioactive 'Four' (Escape Music)


Mastermind, multi-instrumentalist and guitarist Tommy Denander started his music career in the 1970s, because he already started writing songs when he picked up the guitar at the age of 5, but recording wise it was during the early 1980s when he recorded his first full-length album during his time with a local Swedish hardrock band called ATC. Actually Tommy quickly became a session musician in especially the late 1980s and 1990s (appearing on 2500 albums in total, including Michael Jackson, Paul Stanley, Alice Cooper, Ricky Martin, Celine Dion, Toto, Tokio Hotel, Backstreet Boys, Richard Marx, Peter Cetera, American Idol, Glee, David Archuleta and 100's more big selling acts), just like Dan Huff and Steve Lukather, but of course he always wanted to have his own band as well, just to create the AOR sound he loves so much. It was around 1991 he started Radioactive, a sorta all-star project, because the intention was to get as much different musicians and singers on board, just to make it more or less a pure AOR sounding album with only the best of the best of the genre! Therefore it took quite a long time to release a first album and I remember in an interview I had with Tommy 20 years ago, he was working on the project and only had 2 demo songs available. They sounded great, but it was during the 2000s before Radioactive started releasing albums and in total 3 were released and now in 2015 there is album number 4. The album is dedicated to 2 of the greatest AOR singers of all times, whom both died recently and the first 2 songs are also the last known songs sung by those 2 legendary singers (Jimi Jamison - Survivor and Fergie Frederiksen - Toto and Le Roux). Although it all sounds pretty much cliché tingled and AOR-by-the-numbers is definitely something that is quite obvious when listening to the material, nevertheless, it is for AOR fans a very nice album to check out. Especially Jeff Paris, Robin Beck and Jean Beauvoir deliver top-notch vocal performances here and some of the songs are sensational AOR for sure. A run through the tracklisting...


Summer Rains (very by-the-numbers AOR/Melodic Rock, not bad of course, but very cliché tingled, although its Jimi's final recording sadly).

Back To The Game (classic midtempo AOR, Fergie at his finest in classic Toto/Le Roux style, now this is what we want to hear!!! Even includes cool proggy rhythm guitarsolos and a pomprock approach, just perfect!!! Fergie shines for the last time and this is definitely one of his greatest recordings ever!!!)

Beautiful Lies (Jeff Paris shines and why is this guy singing so less, because what a voice, still sounding amazing in 2015!!!! Toto meets 80s Jeff Paris in this pure midtempo AOR tune, just lovely!!!!!!!!!!!!)

The Piper (weak vocals by Steve Walsh, the guy lost his voice years ago, a pity, but the truth, while the song itself is a standard uptempo aor tune a la Work Of Art)

Alibis (David Roberts is back!!! Quite a nice midtempo westcoast-aor song with somehow indeed the David Roberts 80s memorable chorus touch, really great one, although vocally David does not sound as good as in the past!!!)

When The Silence Gets Too Loud (Robin Beck at her very best, a great uptempo melodic rocker, catchy and radio-ready, just all the ingredients for a good-time tune!!!)

You’ll Find The Fire (lovely midtempo aor in Crown Of Thorns tradition, Jean Beauvoir also still sounds great, a very strong tune!)

Heart Come Alive (slightly weaker midtempo and just like Steve Walsh of Kansas, also ex-Toto singer Bobby Kimball is not able to sing like he did in his glorious past)

Start All Over (great pure 80s AOR a la early 80s Michael Bolton)

If Only My Memory Could Lie (classic Radioactive, does that exist haha, fantastic uptempo AOR rocker with haunting chorus, awesome vocals by Dan Reed (Network), probably his most AOR based tune ever!!!)

Natural Born Dreamer (ok midtempo tune)

Give Me Your Loving (weaker midtempo rocker)

Memoriam (instrumental tribute to Jimi and Fergie)


Concluded, highs and lows, but overall a must for any AOR-fan, although not every song is a winner here, but definitely one to play a lot more!


(Points: 8.6 out of 10)


Benjamin Folke Thomas 'Too close to here' (Bucketfull Of Brains Records/Hemifran)


Out of Sweden comes Benjamin Folke Thomas, a 25-year old singer/songwriter/guitarist, who currently lives in London, but he recorded his first full-length record in Sweden, together with Henning Sernhedeon guitar, mandoline, pedal steel and piano, Johannes Mattsson on bass and keys and Jonas Abrahamsson on drums and most keys. The album is titled Too close to here and features musically speaking quite lovely westcoast pop/rock that reminds me a little bit of The Band, with Mark Knopflerish guitarwork, so similarities to Dire Straits can also be heard. Benjamin’s vocals are a little raw and rough, sorta like Bob Dylan, but the music is a lot more streamlined and is as mentioned already well-crafted pop/rock, with as highlights Someday and One More Ride. Do not expect any big time rock sounding tunes, because what we get to hear is very friendly light pop/rock and the comparison to Dire Straits is therefore quite obvious. Check it out for yourself at:


(Points: 8.1 out of 10)


The Muggs 'Straight up Boogaloo' (Independent/USA Import)


Straight up Boogaloo is the 4th album of Detroit based The Muggs, which is a 3-piece blues rock band formed in 2000. The band consists of Danny Methric on guitar and lead vocals, Tony DeNardo on bass and Matt Rost on drums. They are making blues in the classic power trio style of the 1960s, so then you must obviously think of Cream and Jimi Hendrix, yet you can also call this psychedelic bluesy rock with classic rock and hard rock influences, like a mix between Rory Gallagher, ZZ Top, James Gang, 60s Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac, Humble Pie and even Black Sabbath, which can best be heard inTomorrow’s Dream, which is a Black Sabbath cover! The band has been making this kind of rock since their start 15 years ago and if you are already familiar with their music, you know what to expect and bluesrock fans will also understand what this is all about, so do not expect any surprises here, because it is exactly the expected is what you get to hear and luckily The Muggs are doing it very well. Do not confuse this The Muggs with the Californian AOR band from the 1980s, because these guys are a bunch of 30+ something musicians from Detroit whom are pretending it is still 1969 and they do it so well that you might even think it is! Also available on vinyl and for more info go to:


(Points: 7.8 out of 10)


Barry Ollman 'What'll it be?' (Blue Colorado Music/Hemifran)


Singer/songwriter Barry Ollman has always been into music, but it took him right up to his 61th birthday before he would release an album. After he suffered a stroke, he knew he had to release an album and now What’ll it be? is released and it is clearly a strong singer/songwriter album, which features a few well-known musicians, such as Graham Nash (from Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young), Gary Tallent ofBruce Springsteen’s E-Street Band, David Amram, Nick and Helen Forster, Rad Lorkovic, Dave Beegle, Christian Teele and others. Especially Graham Nash is a remarkable name, because he is after all one of the major names in the music industry. He sings a duet with Barry on the album’s opening cut Imogen’s Lament, which is a tribute to the American photographer Imogen Cunningham. As we listen to the album, it is very clear that we are dealing here with a pure 1970s singer songwriter album that sounds like Jim Groce, Graham Nash, James Taylor, Jackson Browne, Paul Simon and such. With a slight westcoast influence, this is a very nice album to listen to late at night and finds it’s highlight in the shape of Lean In Close, The Other Half and Almost Time. If you’re a fan of 1970s singer/songwriter pop, then you will absolutely love this. More at:


(Points: 7.9 out of 10)


Scott Allen Project '3' (Independent/USA Import)


3 is likewise the 3rd album of Californian guitarist Scott Allen, who gained a lot of publicity the past few years with airplay of his songs on several American radiostations and via instructional DVDs he released as well, but also via support slots for Gary Hoey, Eric Martin of Mr. Big, Dave Meniketti of Y&T, Planet X (featuring Tony MaCalpine, Derek Sherinian and Virgil Donati. What we get to hear on his new solo record is more or less a continuation of his previous work and this is high class instrumental progressive/neo-classical power metal. The first couple of songs are quite heavy, but afterwards we can hear some lovely melodic pieces. Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, Eddie van Halen and Dream Theater are clear influences and you can easily say that Scott is an amazing talent, who probably one day will join a major band, because he can deliver picture-perfect guitarwork from the heart. Hear for yourself at:


(Points: 8.2 out of 10)


Spike Flynn 'Rough landing' (BWD Records/Hemifran)


Johnny Cash is the obvious comparison anyone will make while listening to the 2nd album Rough landing of the Australian musician Spike Flynn. The alternative country blues is very close to Johnny, just listen to the first couple of songs, Fate and Freedom and Small Town Refugee, then you’ll get the picture. Additional musicians on his new album are guitarist Tony Green, bassist Wendy Griffiths, drummerRitchie Lockwood, pianoplayer Andrew McCue, Andrew Claremont on fiddle, mandolin and banjo and backing vocalist Donna Amini. It’s all done quite nicely and Spike is a real singer/songwriter with a true honest approach that feels natural, definitely telling you stories through his songs. Check out more for yourself at:


(Points: 7.8 out of 10)


Elizabeth Butler Love and loss and stuff like that (Independent/USA Import)


Although singer/songwriter Elizabeth Butler has been active in the music business for almost her whole life, it took some time to release something on her own. She is currently based in the Houston area, but is actually originally from Savannah, Georgia, but has lived in Texas for over twenty years. She began playing the guitar at eleven years old, formed her own label Running Home Records in 1999, has been part of Running Home, a country/pop duo featuring Suzanne Comeaux Bucher and is now spreading her wings with her first solo-record Love and loss and stuff like that. On a side note, she also is very athletic, completing four marathons and three triathlons, but let’s get back to the music, because she sounds damn good on this album. There’s a mix of great calmer Americana, country and poprock melodies to be heard here. Sometimes a bit folksy, then rocking slightly and at other times poppy, so a real melting pot for everyone to enjoy. She has a great voice and comparisons to Faith Hill, Lenita Erickson, Stevie Nicks, Joan Osborne, Jewel, Carole King, Mary Chapin Carpenter and such can be drawn. Troy Warren, Jr., a multi-instrumentalist, helped her out on basically all levels, so he should also be credited in the contribution for this great album that I can highly recommend to everyone who likes a good deal of singer/songwriter with a pop melody and a light rocking touch here and there. Quality stuff for sure, which you need to check out at:


(Points: 8.3 out of 10)


Grandmother Cornflake 'Songs from the lake' (Independent/USA Import)


In the early 1990s the North Carolina based band Mother Cornflake became a household name and their debut album sold 10,000 copies, but eventually in the mid 1990s the band disbanded. In a slightly changed line-up, the follow-up band Grandmother Cornflake now returns almost 20 years later with a great new record titled Songs from the lake. The band consists of Tony Brackett (bass guitar, guitar, mandolin), David Prago (vocals, keyboards, guitar, harmonica, dulcimer) and Fred Smith (guitar, keyboards, drums). David is a great singer with an own identity and also musically the band delivers some really great material that reminds one of late 70s/early 80s westcoast and powerpop. Songs like Walking, I Need You, Something Beautiful and Calling Back to You are all really great tunes that mix westcoast pop/rock with typical early 80s American powerpop like Steel Breeze meets Tom Petty meets Tommy Tutone. Another highlight is She's so Cruel that is basically a cross between Steely Dan andBernie LaBarge, with some very good vocals and reflecting a funky Westcoast-Poprocksound that is almost AOR ish of the Rick Springfield kind, only more laid-back late 70s orientated (Hall&Oates also comes to mind here). And also worth mentioning is Walk With You, a very good semi-acoustic uptempo tune that has beautiful melodies. The only slight let-down is the production, which could have been a bit better, but musically speaking Grandmother Cornflake is a highly recommended band and I am already looking forward to a future release. More info at:


(Points: 8.1 out of 10)


Pleasure's Paradox 'Home from home' (Independent/USA Import)


Pleasure's Paradox is the solo project of singer/songwriter Cristian Gonzalez, an acoustic based artist who is compared to Bright Eyes and The Postal Service . Alternative Folk is the description of his music style, although opener of his 3-songs counting EP Can’t stop, which is the titletrack, this is an uptempo melodic rocker actually with very strong vocalwork. Hard to judge, as there are only 3 short songs included here, but there’s something quite good in Cristian’s music, especially his voice, so we have to keep our eyes open for him at:, and and


(Points: 8.1 out of 10)


Cheryl Barnes ‘Listen to this’ (Barnes and Cabasso Music/Hemifran)


Listen to this is the 4th album of American classically trained jazz singer Cheryl Barnes. She released 3 albums a long time ago, but then took a break for over 10 years and now returns with this new album, which was produced by Rahn Coleman. It also features her husband Phil Cabasso on piano and L.A. session musicians saxophonists Rickey Woodard and Pete Christlieb, pianists John Hammond and Joel Scott, and trumpeter Nolan Shaheed. All together this is a real jazz adventure in the old school style, while vocally Cheryl does remind a lot of Dianne Reeves, although not reaching that level, because her way of singing is too forced and the songs are not really surprising, because most of the time it sounds a bit too standard. Nevertheless if you’re starting to become interested in this singer, check her out at:


(Points: 7.7 out of 10)


Brian Ashley Jones ‘Out of the city’ (Independent/Hemifran)


Now here we have a very interesting blues/Americana guitarist/singer/songwriter, who is sounding like the next big artist to follow the footsteps of Jeff Healey, Joe Bonamassa, Kenny Wayne Shepherd and such. Originally he comes from South Carolina, but is currently in the Nashville area. He now releases his 3rd CD with Out of the city, which besides Brian on vocals and guitar, it also features Geoff Henderson on bass and Marshall Richardson on drums to complete the rhythm section. The great thing about this album is also the diversity, because Brian can go softer and slower, while also finds time to rock out heavily, bringing every sorta sound within the bluesrock genre to life on this album, which can be heard at best during songs like See You Wasting Time, Out Of The City, You Have Set You Freeand Meet Me In The River. Hopefully this album will mark the breakthrough of Brian Ashley Jones, because he definitely deserves it. More at:;;


(Points: 8.5 out of 10)


Iris Divine ‘Karma sown’ (Laser’s Edge/Bertus)


Out of Northern Virginia, USA comes a terrific new band called Iris Divine. This band has opened for such acts as Katatonia, Orphaned Land and Fates Warning, and are now delivering their debut album in the shape of Karma sown. Although nothing new is brought here, because we have heard this kind of melodic progressive metal before by bands like Pagan’s Mind, Seventh Wonder, Mind’s Eye, Threshold, Pyramaze, Opeth, Fates Warning, etc. etc., but on the other hand, these guys are doing it really well and almost to deadly perfection. They might not have an own face yet, on Karma shown we can hear a high quality band, which is going to become a household name in the genre. This is mainly thanks to the superb vocals of lead singer Navid Rashid, who is also the guitarist of Iris Divine. The other members of the band are Brian Dobbs (Bass) and Kris Combs (Drums, Keys/Programming). The band makes a perfect combination of progressive metal guitar riffs, complex rhythm structures and beautiful melodies, something any progmetalfan will appreciate. They are not stretching the songs to a Dream Theater or Porcupine Tree kinda length, so keep the song in balance and make them memorable enough to remember for its melodies as well. A catchy melody or haunting chorus is always included in the song, so Iris Divine is clearly a song based progmetalband. Nevertheless, also instrumental the band does show it’s neo-classical high profile more than a few times. From start to finish this is the way we want our progmetal to sound. Without a doubt, the more you play Karma sown, the better it gets and fans of mentioned bands will absolutely love this record. Do not miss this release at:


(Points: 8.5 out of 10)


Etherity ‘Obscure illusions’ (Independent/Hard Life Promotion)


Founded in 2000, the Belgian band Etherity has come a long way before releasing their official first album Obscure illusions. They released a handful of demos through the years, but 15 years later it has finally resulted in a real record, which in music history is sometimes clearly for the better, because nowadays countless bands release records way too soon. I have to admit that this is a very impressive high quality record. Without a doubt, one of the strongest from Belgium lately and easily a highly recommended one. The band’s debut album was mixed and mastered by Simone Mularoni (DGM) in Italy and features guest appearances by the lead singers of such well-known Prog/Power Metal bands like Evergrey, Firewind and DGM. The band itself is formed around female lead singer Julie Colin, the bothers Julien (keys) and Nicolas Spreutels (drums), while Gregory Discenza is playing lead guitar in the band. It is obvious while listening to the album, this is something special, because the sound/production is of major label level, instrumentally they have got all the ingredients needed in a prog/power metal band and especially vocally, Julie has got a very strong voice that gives Etherity that much needed additional touch needed to survive in this overcrowded world we call the music industry. Although there’s not a real original sound to be heard, because we can hear similarities and influences from the melodic prog/power metal sound everywhere, that is not an issue at all, since hardly anyone is original nowadays. The band’s focus is on uptempo songs that sound bombastic and super melodic, memorable from the very first few seconds until the end. This is what people want to hear and I am thrilled to catch this band live on stage somewhere. For an independent release, a fantastic sounding debut album that makes me much more eager to listen to over and over again than the latest overblown and overrated new Nightwish album. There are sometimes memories of the old After Forever sound, yet a little more raw in the vocal department. Concluded, the only comment I can finally make after listening to this album, go get a copy a.s.a.p.! More info at:


(Points: 8.4 out of 10)


Eric Schwartz 'The aristocrat' (Claritone music/Hemifran)


Now here we have something quite extraordinary, because when I looked at the front cover of the CD of the American Eric Schwartz I had no idea what to expect. It looks like a picture of an 18th century guy in a Jack Black meets Rufus Wainwright kinda setting, with half-naked girls surrounding him. Anyway, little did I know that Eric Schwartz is actually a stand-up comedian and musician as well, who is sometimes combining both and he has been doing this for a very long time. When I started listening to the first song There’s a picture, it is clear that despite this is perhaps yet another typical humoristic music parody adventure like we have seen from acts like Tenacious D. and Steel Panther, Eric is doing it at an incredible high level. Without a doubt, Eric is a genius, because not only lyrically it is incredible funny and here and there political minded, he also delivers musically exactly the way it should when doing something like this. Not many people are able to do both at such a high level, but Eric beats them easily. He has an amazing voice, which suits any music genre and that is what he is basically doing on his album The aristocrat, because each song sounds like a different genre. Jazz, Country, Blues, Melodic Rock, Pop, Folk, Funk, Gospel and even a little Disco… it all passes by here, yet with lyrics that are completely not matching the music, but this kind of shocking is exactly what Eric wants to do and he does it just perfect.


There’s a huge list of musicians appearing on the albums, people who've played with Dr. John, Whitesnake, The Eagles, Weird Al, The Goo Goo Dolls, Shakira, and, too many to mention here on 1 page! Especially Hair Metal legendary guitarist Reb Beach (Winger/Dokken…) is doing a lovely guitar solo on one of the songs, so you are safe when you wonder about the sound and music quality of the record, which is highly professional and this could easily have been a major label release. Highlights are Jesus, Leave the Bible Belt Alone, W.G.F.T.S. (Who's Gonna fuck the singer), There's A Picture, Male Pattern Baldness and Welcome to the Working Wanking Week, but it is such an enjoyable journey from start to finish, there's not a single weak moment and it takes you through so many music genres and makes you smile a lot of times, so entertainment at its finest is what you get hear and the only thing that makes you wonder is if the guy can also release a non-comic record, because he could easily become a next Billy Joel or Rufus Wainwright I think. For now, do not miss him and go check him out at:


(Points: 8.7 out of 10)


Blind Lemon 'Pledge Evangeline' (Ofer Records/Hemifran)


Musician James Byfield released a strong and much recommended album that takes you on a journey through the American fields and down the Mississippi river, combining elements of Folk, Americana and Jazzy blues, so typical American as if you’re in New Orleans. It has that deep southern fried US sound that only Americans are able to create. James has done that under his artist name Blind Lemon Pledge and the record is titled Evangeline. There’s quite a lot of diversity to be heard, because if we have a quick run through the first couple of songs, we can hear 1920s Robert Johnson ish blues (Buley's farm), a more singer/songwriter piece ballad (Jennie Bell) that reminds me a tiny bit of Paul McCartney, jazzy blues a la Ray Charles (Brimstone Joe) and John Hiatt type of bluesy poprock (Midnight Assignation). The vocalwork is not that strong, but I know that for this type of music it has to sound raw and unpolished, so it feels so real when you’re listening. Neil Young is also a good comparison, but the best thing you can do is to check it out for yourself at:


(Points: 7.5 out of 10)


Jack Kerowax 'Jack Kerowax' (Independent/Hemifran)


Out of Dallas, Texas comes the band Jack Kerowax, a band formed around lead singer/guitarist/pianoplayer Johnny Beauford, guitarist/keyboardplayer Garrett Padgett, bassist Nash Griggs and drummerNathan Adamson. They were formed in 2012 and are now making their debut with this self titled album. They sound like a typical American band, mixing roots rock, heartland rock, southern rock, bluesy Texan rock with a little pop and singer/songwriter, ending up sounding like a mix between Georgia Satellites, John Mayer, Ryan Adams, The National, Counting Crows and Neil Young. Of course we have heard that before many times, but just like every other new American band in this traditional style, also this time we really enjoy such great songs like Stella (very John Mayer ish ballad), semi- rocker Empire state, the semi-ballads Violet and Ten year war and the absolute highlight, Bliss, which happens to be a great uptempo rocker that could be a huge hit for sure! This band has potential, so keep your eyes open for them at:


(Points: 8.3 out of 10)


Matt Townsend 'The wonder of the world' (Eternal Mind Records/Hemifran)


The wonder of the world is the debut album of North Carolina based singer/songwriter Matt Townsend, who is making a mix of folk, indie and alternative rock, with the usual singer/songwriter approach. It reminds me a lot of Bob Dylan and Jake Bugg, yet less rocking and even quite melodic during a song like Carry on. Like already mentioned however, there’s also a lot of room for depressing singer/songwriter kinda material, so this is something you either love or hate. Recommended for a future record would be some more rockier uptempo tunes to compensate the somewhat depressing Bob Dylan ish material that can be find all over his debut record. Nevertheless, he does it well and interested readers should go over to:


(Points: 7.8 out of 10)


Murali Coyell ' Restless mind' (Shake It Sugar Records/Hemifran)


Murali Coyell is the son of legendary guitarist Larry Coryell and so it was not really surprising to see that during the early years of his life, Murali followed the footsteps of his father. Murali started his recording career 20 years ago and already released a bunch of solo-records before this one. The blues is what it’s all about here, but there’s a soul touch as well if you listen to his latest release Restless mind.. and somehow it is dangerously close to Jon Butcher, but then with a sorta BB King meets Robert Cray kinda softer approach, so it is close to pure blues, while dropping the rock element a little bit. Nevertheless, the combination of the raw vocals and the precise bluesy guitarwork are making songs like Waiting and Wasting Away, Restless Mind and the uptempo I'm so Happy a pleasure to listen to. Lonely eyes is the unexpected pop injected sweet ballad, but it also shows that Murali has got a great soul influenced tone in his voice, so without a doubt if you are not yet familiar with him, then go check out more at:


(Points: 8.3 out of 10)   


Sarah MacDougall 'Grand Canyon'(Yukon Canada/DGR Music)


Swedish/Canadian singer/ songwriter Sarah MacDougall has already released 2 albums in the past, but since 2011's The Greatest Ones Alive it became a little quiet. However, now in 2015 she strikes back with a very strong new release entitled Grand Canyon. The album is filled with the typical modern day melodic female singer / songwriter pop/rock style that sounds like a joyful mixture between Amy McDonald, Lana Del Rey, Jewel, The Corrs and Ane Brun. There’s a bit of electronic pop/rock, but many times it has the traditional way of folk inspired acoustic driven tunes, yet with a modern approach, so it will most likely be appreciated by many music fans out there. The album features guest appearences from Jesse Zubot (Tanya Tagaq, Dan Mangan), Peggy Lee, Erika Angell (Thus:Owls), Rose Cousinsand Leah Abramson (Abramson Singers). If we have a run though the tracklisting of the album, we can find 8 tunes and it all starts quite calm with I Want to See the Light (Lost from Our Eyes), which is a semi pop/rocker in a sorta Jewel style. Up next is Sparrowhead, a fun summer ish uptempo melodic poprocker that almost sounds like The Corrs! However, vocally speaking Sarah is definitely adding a dark side to it all and Lana Del Rey comes to mind quite a few times upon listening to her beautiful voice. Then she switches to Swedish and sings about Malmo in Malmö i mitt hjärta, which happens to be an atmospheric electronic pop/rock song a la Ane Brun, while titletrack Grand Canyon takes us on a  catchy poprock trip the typical modern way of making a radio-ready tune, reminding a little bit of Florence And The Machine. Without a doubt, this is the best part of the album, because following track The Story of Pippi and Lionheart is another great tune, being a clear crowd pleaser and one of those festival winners, basically a very strong sing-a-long friendly pop tune with lovely melodies. Baby, It's Only Rock 'n' Roll is on the other hand one of the least interesting tunes, because this is midtempo pop/rock without a face. Devil's Gap slows things down and is a calmer singer songwriter piece, while closing track 2012 is a pretty good uptempo poprocker and actually this is very catchy and memorable enough to stick in your head, so one more radio ready tune Sarah has got there! There are so many Canadian based fermale singer / songwriters at the moment and it is sometimes hard to keep track, but the new album of Sarah MacDougall is definitely a highly recommended one! More info at: and


(Points: 8.1 out of 10)


Team William 'Drama' (Pias/DGR Music)


Team William is a Belgian band, which quickly became the country’s latest new sensation after winning a contest in 2008 and one year later releasing their praised self-titled debut. However, due to the perfectionism of lead singer/guitarist Floris De Decker, there was struggling within the band and eventually it was all over in a minute. 3 years of silence followed, but then out of the blue, the band came back together, recorded a new album Drama, which is currently being released. This is not a real fun and happy record, because it is clearly showing the depression the band’s singer/guitarist experienced the past few years, but it looks like they are now more than ever ready to make it big. On the other hand, I do have to say that after a few spins, the album is not convincing enough to take them to higher places. Nevertheless, it is done well, despite what we get to hear is not really original. It has keys and synths written all over the place, clearly in early 80s mode of New Order, Joy Division and The Cure, but….. not of that high level I am afraid, because I would rather compare them to The Editors, Imagine Dragons and even the Dutchie Handsome Poets comes to mind. The light hi-tech melodic pop/rock with 1980s touch sounds pretty good during the catchy A New Country. While listening to the album, it goes to show how much this band is influenced by pure 80s hi-tech poprock/new wave and the thing is that some are quite catchy, but they all sound a bit the same, reflecting a melancholic electronic approach like the earlier mentioned bands and with vocals that sometimes feels like Floris is talking instead of singing.Faster Than Light is finally a somewhat cheerful uptempo catchy poprocker and also the album’s first single 1995 is a great tune. Away with the Fairies is by far the weakest song, while Poets is one of the few real happy uptempo tunes, as overall this is a dark electronic 80s influenced pop/new wave ish record that will most likely be of interest for fans of Joy Division, Depeche Mode and The Editors, althoughTeam William now needs to start building a reputation and make a more diverse record next time, because I am quite sure they are able to produce an album that will bring them up a level. More info at: https//


(Points: 7.8 out of 10)


Wolf Alice ‘My love is cool ‘ (Dirty Hit Records/DGR Music)


Out of North London comes Wolf Alice, a female fronted band formed around Ellie Rowsell, Joel Amey, Joff Oddie and Theo Ellis. The band was formed back in 2010 and they already released a couple of EP’s and singles and are now ready to release their official first full-length CD My Love Is Cool. In the past year they are being praised as the latest sensation and when listening to that first album it is clear that we are dealing here with a very interesting band. They are making alternative rock, yet it sounds different than the standard altrockbands, because a better description would be a mix between indie, folk, pop and melodic rock. For example it starts with a very calm folk ish piece titled Turn to dust, but starts rocking from next track Bros on and with Your loves whore we get to hear a strong almost melodic rock ish sound, yet with typical dark atmospheric vocals in a sorta 90s way. The following track You're a germ is uptempo alternative rock in classic 90s direction, like Hole and Cranberries. However, the band has more faces to show, because for example the poppy Freazy or Soapy water are completely different and both have a hi-tech almost Enigma/Massive Attack meets Ellie Goulding/Florence and the Machine ish vibe, but most of the time the band is going for the rock direction and as other hioghlights besides the earlier mentioned rock based tunes, we need to add Giant pesach and Fluffy. Quite an interesting diverse sounding band and who knows, a band that will become bigger, because they deliver a high quality debut record. More info at: and


(Points: 8.4 out of 10)


Robin J. Kroupa 'On the wake of a dream' (Independent/USA Import)


From the Chicago area comes singer/songwriter Robin J. Kroupa, who was kind enough to sent me her latest album On the wake of a dream. Musically speaking a great mix of melodic pop/rock and singer/songwriter music, which sometimes reminds me of Stevie Nicks, Melissa Etheridge and such legendary singer/songwriter who take their music to the mainstream due to the injection of catchy pop melodies.... Robin has a great voice that clearly has an own identity, which you hear right away when listening to her music. The highlights on the new album are I'm free, The real, Don't bring me down, Listen and the beautiful titletrack On the wake of a dream, but any song will please people who like their music to sound breezy, melodic and semi-acoustic, with a focus on the voice, which in this case is sounding really great. There's even a slight westcoast touch to be heard, so something Californian is hearable in the music of Chicago based Robin J. Kroupa. Check it out for yourself at: and and


(Points: 8.2 out of 10)


Doghouses Swine 'Fearless' (Manta Ray Records/USA Import)


Out of the New York/New Jersey area comes Doghouse Swine, a fraw in your face sounding heavy punky rock and roll band. 6 songs are on their latest album Fearless, which was produced by J. Robbins (Clutch, Foo Fighters...). The band sounds dirty, mean and raw, like a mix between Motley Crue and Sex Pistols and although the vocals are not as strong as you want it to be, these guys kick serious ass during uptempo songs like Dangerous and Get some. Check it out for yourself at:


(Points: 7.5 out of 10)


Invisible Poet Kings 'Under the sun' (East Of Sideways Music/USA Import)


This band from North Hollywood is clearly influenced by The Beatles,which can not only be heard during the cover You've got to hide your love away, but also opener on their mini-CD Under the sun, the titletrack, we can hear strong similarities to The Beatles and basically this is a wonderful tune to open your album, a real crowd-pleaser and hit potential tune the guys got here. Invisible Poet Kings is a Powerpopband of the classic tradition sound, so filled with rich melodies and harmonies, hooks and making things sound radiofriendly and still rock out. The vocalwork is very good and the songs are memorable and catchy, sometimes reminding of bands like The Posies, The Jam, Guster, Sons Of Bill, The Shins etc, etc. The band also takes time to settle down in a ballad like Everything about you, which is close to Paul McCartney meets Muse and shows that they have got a really great singer (Barry Keenan, who also plays piano and guitar). Invisible Poet Kings is not a new band by the way, because background info tells us that they were active already in the 1990s and released prior to this sneak preview CDR 2 full-length albums. Personally I look very much forward to their upcoming full-length album Mutiny in the dream tent, which should be out sometime later this year hopefully. The band is working on that with engineer/producer Matt Forger (Michael Jackson), so high hopes for that release! Meanwhile more at: and


(Points: 8.4 out of 10)


Kentucky Headhunters with Johnnie Johnson 'Meet me in blues land' (Alligator Records)


Barroom boogie rock and pure Blues is the name of the game here and there's a lot of history going on when speaking of this album release, which brings us back to 1924, the year pianoplayer/vocalist Johnnie Johnson was born, This legendary musician worked with all the greats in the long rock and roll past, mentioning just the names Chuck Berry and Muddy Waters will wet the appetite of any music lover. Flash forward to the year 1968 when a band called Kentucky Headhunters were formed, a typical southern bluesrockband whom has to wait until 1989 before they would release their debut album Pickin' on Nashville, which sold a remarkable 2 million records! Another leap in time, 2003, the two worlds met and recorded a few great sessions, which now has been released as Kentucky Headhunters with Johnnie Johnson and the album is titled Meet me in blues land, released on Alligator Records. Definitely a very interesting release, with some high quality music that is of course pure Blues, with a lot of soul and the way Blues was meant to sound. More info at:


(Points: 8.0 out of 10)


Midriff 'Doubts and fears' (Gordeon Music)


Midriff are a band from Austria whom are releasing their 2nd album titled Doubts and fears on Gordeon Music. Without a doubt, this is high quality stuff and it all may sound a little cliche tingled and not original, the band does it so well you would swear they are an established major label band from the USA! So they have an American rocksound, with a focus on strong vocalwork, memorable choruses and some amazing flashy guitarwork, while not forgetting those Classic Rock killer guitarsolo's. There are clear similarities to Alter Bridge, Creed, Shinedown, Rival Sons, Black Stone Cherry and such bands, just listen to songs like Playing a role, Only a pawn and the lovely Safehouse. You don't want to miss this band, so head over to:


(Points: 8.4 out of 10)


John McDonough ‘Dreams and imagination’ (Independent/Hemifran)


Out of Austin, Texas comes singer/songwriter John McDonough (vocals, guitar, piano), who releases his 5th album with Dreams and imagination. Additional musicians are co-producer Kevin Butler (guitar and drums), Steve Bernal (bass and cello), Cole Gramling (keyboards) and Ginger Leigh (backing vocals). His singer/songwriter music style is compared to James Blunt and Damien Rice, although John definitely has an own style, which can be heard in the album's highlights (I Love You More Than Yesterday) I Love You Now (beautiful westcoast shuffle with strong melody), the semi-ballad It's You and Me and the catchy uptempo radio poprocker Planes Fly Too Low that somehow reminds me vocally of Racoon. Actually John has got an own style of singing, which sounds modest and is actually quite hard to describe, but it grows on you for sure. Concluded, this is quality stuff and recommended to check out at:


(Points: 8.1 out of 10)


Chop Suzy 'Devil music' (Independent/USA Import)


Here we have a very interesting rocking trio from Los Angeles, whom are clearly influenced by 1970s Hardrock and Classic Rockbands like Led Zeppelin, Montrose, Black Sabbath, Cream, Ram Jam, Free and even a bit Van Halen circa their first album (Chop Suzy's song Cheyne stokes is VH written all over the place). The band was formed in 2004 and 'Devil music is their 2nd album, which is without a doubt a high quality release that will wet the appetite of any fan of classic hardrock. The guitar riff driven big hardrocksound of Chop Suzy is also filled with strong melodies and if you like for example Royal Blood, The Answer, Triggerfinger, Rival Sons, Wolfmother, then this is a recommended band to check out for sure. Highlights on their latest album are Death march, Diamond kitty and Cyclops pig. The band's singer has got a sorta Ozzy kinda voice and actually sometimes the band also sounds like a cross between Van Halen and Black Sabbath, but of course they are not of that major level yet. Nevertheless,a high quality band, whom can easily become bigger if they are discovered, so go over to:


(Points: 8.1 out of 10)


Colossal Boss ' Colossal Boss' (Independent/USA Import)


Out of Seattle comes Colossal Boss, a sensational band playing Classic Rock at its finest! The band's debut album features some very strong material and during the best songs, Long way down (Free ish, even a bit Cobra - Jimi Jamison style) and the very melodic Thunder ish American boy, this band is going for the gold. Especially vocally there is a lovely Paul Rodgers vibe going on, combined with that Classic Rock vibe we love so much, fans of Free, Bad Company, 70s Whitesnake, 70s Y&T, Foreigner, etc. just can't go wrong on here. This is a band with a huge potential! I would say keep your eyes wide open for them in the near future. Although not all songs are convincing 100%, because Shed my skin is for example a slightly weaker tune and Next day blues is uptempo bluesy rock with trumpets, the band has got all it takes to become the next big thing. Recommended if you like The Answer, Thunder, Airbourne, Wolfmother and such Classic Rock bands. More at:


(Points: 8.7 out of 10)


Pinder Brothers 'Melancholy sea' (Independent/Glass Onyon/USA Import)


Interesting duo from California called Pinder Brothers, which consists of 2 brothers, Matt Pinder on Bass and Mike Pinder on Guitar, both sharing the vocal duties. Remarkable footnote is that their dad is Mike Pinder, one of the founding members of The Moody Blues. Anyway, never judge on family reference, but the comparison to Nelson is possible to make here. Musically Pinder Brothers are a slightly different adventure, because they are leaning towards classic Californian Westcoast (CSN&Y and Simon & Garfunkel), yet with an alternative rock approach as well. It's a pity that Matt is singing most of the lead vocals, because without a doubt, the 2 songs featuring Mike on vocals (Somehow Trust Being You and Here We Go) show Pinder Brothers at their very best, as he has got a great vibrato in his voice. Anyway, it all reminds me quite a bit of Venice as well, but a little sweeter and more polished sometimes, with a focus on high-pitched harmonyvocals. Done very well and in typical American tradition, so people know what to expect from this duo, but somehow there's a little twist in their sound that gives away a rocking touch, which hopefully on a future album will come alive much more, because now it all sounds a little too brave most of the time (Nick & Simon similarities are even hearable sometimes). More info at:


(Points: 8.0 out of 10)


Bill McVail 'Garden leave' (Independent/USA Import)


Out of Pennsylvania comes singer/songwriter Bill McVail, who sent me an interesting mini-CD he released. Garden leave contains 5 tracks and is musically a diverse adventure. There are nice calmer singer/songwriter pieces (New Day and Strung On a Line), but also lovely pure progressive rock during the song Breathe (by far the finest track here, awesome guitarwork and beautiful melodies, overall a very impressive tune!), while Redemption is a happy uptempo poppy tune with Beatles/Rembrandts ish melodies and closing track Sink or Swim is tapping out of the blues. Recommended musician and hopefully more progrock ish tunes next time, although Bill shows he is able to create songs in all sorts of music genres. Check him out at:


(Points: 8.0 out of 10)


Volvox 'Volvox' (Icarus Music/Argentina Import)


All the way from Argentina comes the 4-piece instrumental band Volvox, whom are delivering a truly superb debut album. The band is playing instrumental progressive rock at an incredible high level, with lovely melodies created by keyboardplayer Marcelo Pijachi and guitarist Cristian Violante, which you can hear in each and every song of the 10 included. There's a distinctive Neo-Progressive Rocksound going on here, which reminds a bit of Threshold and Pallas, yet of course without the vocals. Although I usually get bored with instrumental releases, this one definitely offers much more and shows a fantastic band playing lovely instrumental progressive rockmusic with a clear soul and thererfore I can easily give them a huge recommendation. More info on this talented upcoming band at:


(Points: 8.7 out of 10)


Sweet Crystal 'Quad' (Nightcrier Music/USA Import)


Formed all the way back in 1971 (!), the legendary Christian Classic Rock/AOR band Sweet Crystal returns with a new album titled Quad. The band still sounds fresh and clean in 2015 with a melodic rock/aor sound in the classic Petra/Sweet Comfort Band/Allies/White Heart style and surprisingly they have some great guest singers this time, namely Amy Susan Heard and David Perez. Amy is a wonderful female singer and let's hope on a future release she will sing more, because the track on which she sings, Some people may ask, is a lovely uptempo classic 80s AOR tune with catchy melodies. Amy is also solo active, so hopefully soon a review of her solo work. Another highlight is the Kayak/Magnum ish epic semi prog/pomp piece Anthem, which instrumental sounds like a classic. More info on the band at:


(Points: 8.3 out of 10)


Station 'Station' (Electric Cheetah Records/USA Import)

A few years ago we already reviewed something of this band and now Station from New York returns with their fiurst full-length album that contains 15 tracks, so a long and enjoyable ride we have here. The band sounds exactly like the classic hair metal days of the late 1980s/early 1990s. Back then there were all over the USA thousands of MTV wannabee bands, because Nelson, Slaughter, Firehouse, Warrant, Winger, Trixter and countless other bands dominated the video rotation Adam Curry presented TV shows that showed an endless string of videoclips that contained girls, fun and rock and roll. After grunge more or less put an end to all this in 1991, we had to wait 20 years before a revival took place, first in Europe with bands like Heat, Wigwam, Brother Firetribe and then when Steel Panther broke through a few years ago, it was all 1989 all over again. Station is definitely more serious kick ass rock and roll, so no gimmick here, but a bunch of guys playing melodic hardrock the way it needs to sound, like the Americans can only produce it. Everything sounds perfect here in classic late 80s hair metal style, including the lovely flashy guitarwork and strong melodic singable choruses. Are You Sleeping Alone is definitely a superb piece of early 90s melodic hair metal at it's very best, an incredible tune that recalls the days of Slyboyz, Heavens Edge, Know Illusion, Nelson, Tindrum, Slaughter, Danger Danger, Firehouse kind, just sing-a-long and dance all night together is the name of the game here! For fans of those bands an absolute must-have and you can also find some Skid Row type of tracks here, so slightly groovier heavy rock stuff, but overall this is pure US melodic hardrock old school stuff, with as other highlights besides the already mentioned new Hair Metal classic Are you sleeping alone, uptempo melodic rockers True Believer and No Way Out (a la Heat), I Can't Live Without You (melodic rockballad a la Gotthard, Victory, Firehouse, very strong vocals) and With Me Tonight (lovely midtempo melodic rocker, catchy as hell!!!). Although vocally it is not always picture perfect, the overall sound of the band is just major label ish and fans of the mentioned bands will fall in love with this band instantly. They also remind me a lot of Loud and Clear, the band around Jess Harnell if anyone remembers them! Do not miss this little hair metal gem for God's sake! More at: and and

(Points: 8.6 out of 10)


Crimson Crux 'Of the Times & Seasons' (Independent/USA Import)


Now here we have something special... Crimson Crux is a Gothic/Folk/Rock group from southern California, consisting of husband/wife duo Nathan Petty (guitars) & Tanya Petty (vocals), accompanied by the orchestral arrangements of Benjamin James Stern (piano/keys). They remind me a lot of a similar duo-act from California I reviewed almost 20 years ago called Challenge, if anyone can remember them! But also a stripped Lane Lane is a good comparison to make, so there's something in the Californian water that makes them sound this way. Blackmore's Night is another good comparison by the way! Anyway, the band has a long history, with roots in Metal music... Nathan was part of the Southern Californian black/death/metal scene for over a decade, but left it in 2011 to form a musically speaking more interesting adventure called Crimson Crux. His wife Tanya joined him and their will and desire to combine melodic singing with music in opera form that mixes rock, classical music and movie soundtrack music, with a touch of country, folk and gothic, eventually that would lead to pianist Benjamin Stern as a trio to work on their project Crimson Crux. In 2012 they recorded their debut Through Divers Temptations, which is now followed up by Of the Times & Seasons, a very strong original record that will probably appeal to a lot of music fans worldwide. To me, the band does have a lot of similarities to Within Temptation, Yellow Grass, Mister and Mississippi and Heart, especially during the fantastic first 2 songs, Not of the Night and Shake You Off. Not of the night is a hit for sure, a song with an haunting chorus that sticks in your head right away after you heard it the first time. This band grabs you right from the start, beautiful melodic music. Folk, Gothic and Melodic Rock are perfectly combined, just wonderful and any of the 6 songs will impress. The other 5 songs on the album are acoustic versions of the earlier 6 tunes, so actually this new album is a mini-CD, with an acoustic bonus. During those acoustic tunes, the band sounds like an acoustic version of the Dutch Gothic band Delain and even Shocking Blue comes to mind while listening to Crimson Crux. The electric guitar solos by the way are quite lovely, sounding straight out of an 1980s guitar-axe warrior shredder box, while the beautiful melodies are coming down from heaven and vocally it is really perfectly angelic, so this is definitely highly recommended! More at: and


(Points: 8.6 out of 10)


Jon Rordam 'Stardust in your hands' (Independent/USA Import/Hemifran)


Stardust in your hands is the 2nd album of Danish singer/songwriter Jon Rordam, who has a remarkable low pitched voice, almost baritone style, sometimes as if he's whispering or talking instead of singing. It reminds me a bit of John Cale and Robbie Robertson. Big difference is that there's a female singer called Nynne Hansen as well, who is acting as guest/co-singer on a lot of the songs, such as during the lovely Getting back (a radio-ready tune). The music of Jon is very strong calm, semi-acoustic driven singer/songwriter orientated pop/rock with nice melodies and a jazzy touch here and there, sometimes a bit westcoast ish a la Steely Dan during great songs like Cruise With Music and We Just Meet In Memories. Not bad at all and a name to remember! Check out more at:


(Points: 8.3 out of 10)


Ryan Boldt 'Broadside ballads' (Dahl Street Records/Canada Import/Hemifran)


Canadian singer/songwriter Ryan Boldt is known for being in the band The Deep Dark Woords, with whom he released several albums. Now he releases his first solo-album Broadside Ballads, on which he slows things down to a calmer direction, but also a very dark, almost depressing sound, with nevertheless wonderful vocalwork from Ryan. It reminds me somehow of Hozier, but then without all the bombastic full-band swing and also not really mainstream orientated, so perhaps think more John Grant minus synths. Ryan plays the bass, guitar and drums himself, but got a little help from Clayton Linthicum (from his band, who is playing guitar, banjo, keyboards and pedal steel), Jody Weger on mandolin, Sara Froese on violin, Kelly Wallraff on cello and Kacy Anderson on backing vocals. The songs on this album are folk traditional, but now sounding modern and all done in a ballad style, sometimes acoustic singer-songwriter ish, but also a few times with a band sound. After a while you want the music to sound a little more uplifting, because especially the original folk traditional did sound more happy and uptempo and during Learning On The Everlasting Arms and The Welcome Table thankfully we get some more friendly material. So, actually this album has two faces, a dark slightly depressing sound, with haunting vocalwork that is quite impressive, but some more diversity and sticking to the original happier folk sound would not have heard at all, because now after a while it gets a bit annoying to hear another ballad version of an old folk traditional. Full-length albums with ballads only never work, but on the other hand, Ryan does it well and so you might want to check this out at:


(Points: 8.1 out of 10)


Jeff Kenny 'Integrity is what an honest living pays' (Independent/USA Import)


Out of Toronto, Canada comes Jeff Kenny, a musician playing Vocals, Guitars, Harmonica, Mandolin and sounding like he's from the Midwest of the USA. He reminds me a lot of John Cougar, although his voice is very monotone and low-pitched, so it is like Bob Dylan that you really need to accept there's not much diversity in the tone of his voice. Musically speaking very American rootsy rock orientated, with a clear focus on Americana-Rock. Jeff releases his debut CD Promised Land Blues in 2004, followed it in 2009 with Deep In The West and released an EP titled Dirty Old Town in 2012 and now returns with album number 4 titled Integrity is what an honest living pays. John Cougar is a good comparison, but you might also want to throw in Steve Earle here, Neil Young and Tom Petty for that matter, so pure American Midwestern rootsy rock that sounds good and is done very well, although do not expect surprises here. The man does a great job and songs like Licence Plate, Rolling Down The Line, Us Two and 1983 are great to listen to and any fan of the mentioned artists will be enjoying this album for sure. Check out more on Jeff at:


(Points: 8.0 out of 10)


Simon Lynge The absence of fear (Natural Machine Recordings/USA Import)


The Absence Of Fear is the 2nd album of singer/songwriter Simon Lynge, who is coming out of Greenland (!). This is probably the first time ever I review an album from a Greenlandic musician. And it is a really strong record, so even in Greenland there are musicians who can deliver quality sensational music, because that is what this The absence of fear is after a few spins. Simon is playing pure American traditional melodic pop/rock with a retro-rock and folk touch, actually mixing elements of Singer/songwriter, Pop, Folk, Acoustic and Folk Rock, so sometimes rocking and at other times more introvert. He does it so well that you would swear he's actually an American! His previous record The future was a hit among the press worldwide, even entering the BBC UK charts at #22 one day after the release! Now the new album is finished and without a doubt, this album will also go down well in the press and hopefully we will see him breakthrough now, because when listening to such great songs like I'm a Soul, Silver Light, No Man Is an Island and the cover (Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay, you can hear a lot of passion and soul through his lovely voice and it's accompanied with great music that reveals enough folk, rock and pop melodies to please everyone in the audience. Check out all on: 


(Points: 8.5 out of 10)


We Were Evergreen 'Towards' (TCBYML/DGR Music)


We Were Evergreen is a French alternative indie-electro pop trio, formed in Paris in 2008, but active in London, UK, since 2011. Towards is their debut record, recorded and mixed in Brixton's Iguana Studios, with Charlie Andrew (producer of Alt-J, Sivu and Marika Hackman). The band’s line-up consists of Michael Liot (vocals, strummed instruments), Fabienne Débarre (vocals, keyboards, xylophone) and William Serfass (vocals, percussions, bass, electric guitar). The music is quite modern day sounding popmusic, with the experimental drift we have heard the past few years so many times, which actually means electronic beats and hi-hat melodies, but thankfully also strong vocals and memorable tunes, the kinda retro 80s pop with today’s modern hi-tech standards. A lot of bands out there are making this kind of electro-pop and comparisons are therefore not hard to make. The most popular ones are of course Lykke Li, Florence and the Machine, Tennis, Metric, Daughter and Haim, but We Were Evergreen is slightly less commercial and takes things in an even more electronic direction, although fans of mentioned bands will definitely like this French band a lot. Somehow there are also folk melodies to be heard here and there, so We Were Evergreen does bring something new to this genre. Best thing you can do is to check them out at: and


(Points: 8.2 out of 10)


Steve Law Band 'Old oak tree' (Independent/USA Import)


Out of Denver, Colorado comes a sensational band called Steve Law Band. They are formed around Steve Law (vocals/guitar), Kyle Zender (guitar/vocals), Toddy Walters (vocals, percussion) and Hill Baker (drums/percussion/bass). They have been active for a while now and have already released a few records, of which the latest is Old oak tree. Musically speaking we are listening to high quality calmer folk pop/rock meets singer songwriter and a little bit of every traditional American music style (blues/soul/westcoast/light southern rock...). Bands like Bear's Den, Fleet Foxes and even Calexico come to mind here and without a doubt we have a highly recommended album here. The beautiful soaring vocals are spot-on and instrumental Steve Law Band sounds very impressive (adding a lot of soul rhythms and bluesy riffs), so combined with a bunch of great memorable tunes, this is definitely worth checking out. Songs like Roll Around, Turn It Down, Tom's Burned Down Cafe and Home are just a few examples of great sounding tunes you can put anytime of the day. This is high quality music and I want you to check them out asap at:


(Points: 8.4 out of 10)


The Catholic Girls 'Kiss me one more time' (Cinema Records/USA Import)


A long time ago New Jersey based schoolgirls Gail Petersen and Roxy Andersen decided to form the all-female rockband The Catholic Girls and eventually they were the first of its kind to get signed to a major label. MCA Records released an album in the early 1980s and despite they went independent after the release, The Catholic Girls continued to release albums and the latest is titled Kiss me one more time. The included music is typical early 80s quirky poprock/new wave, which sounds exactly like 35 years ago, reminding me so much of Shandi, Blondie and The Sparks, although the vocals are not that strong and the sound quality of the album is also clearly that of an independent release. Nevertheless, this is a nice little record from this New Jersey band, with as highlights the uptempo poprock pieces (Go-Go's meets The Bangles) Shame On You, Where's the Logic and Only Guilty. Especially interesting to those of you who remember this band from 30+ years ago. More at: and


(Points: 7.1 out of 10)


Serpentyne ‘Myths and muses’ (Independent/UK Import)


Myths and muses is the 2nd album of the UK band Serpentyne, a band combining mediaeval music with folk rock and a tough sorta goth metal image. They are currently becoming quite popular, especially since they are sounding very modern and even insert big rock and techno beats into their world music influenced mediaeval ish folk music that is all created with ancient instruments. The band is formed around lead singer Maggie-Beth Sand and hurdy-gurdy player Mark Powell. Songs like Boudicca, Alexandria, Valkyries and Gaudete are clear winners for anyone who likes the old music style and sometimes it sounds like bands such as Within Temptation, Nightwish or Sabatan, but then with ancient instruments, so unplugged 16th century gothic metal (haha). Done at a very high level, this is an interesting band, which live will probably make an even greater impact. More at:


(Points: 7.8 out of 10)


Dirty Fences 'Full tramp' (Slovenly Records/Sonic Rendezvous)


Out of New York City comes Dirty Fences, a great sounding band with a dirty raw mean rock and roll sound like the late 1970s New York wave of rockbands, sitting in right between Glamrock, Punkrock and Powerpop, as if The Ramones, Kiss, New York Dolls, Starz and The Dictators joined forces and started a band. The band is at their best during the catchy late 70s uptempo poppy punkpoprocktunes Judy (Don't Go) and Give Me A Kiss, which recall memores of The Undertones, The Ramones and The Boys, but any of the 10 included tracks, of which some are close to pure Glamrock (very early Motley Crue), they all sound great and Dirty Fences is one of those bands dying to become a cult band or.... become really huge... in Europe probably! Don’t miss these guys at: and http://WWW.DIRTYFENCES.COM/


(Points: 8.3 out of 10)


A Projection 'Exit Proj 1 Rec Stockholm' (Tapete Records/Sonic Rendezvous)


Although the debut album Exit of the Swedish band A Projection is not sounding original at all, the result is a marvelous album that will be adored by fans of the genre in which A Projection is active, which is post-rock in the classic 1980s British new wave style. There are very clear similarities to bands like New Order, Bauhaus, Depeche Mode, Ultravox, The Cure and especially Joy Division, but also The Editors and White Lies come to mind while listening to the sensational album these guys have recorded. As I already mentioned, there might be nothing new to discover here and sometimes it is like you're actually listening to a record from 1983 or something, but we are dealing here with a band that could become the next big thing, as songs like Exit, Retrospection, Camera and Another face are damn catchy uptempo post-rock classics. Do not miss this album!!! More at:


(Points: 8.6 out of 10)


Andrew Maxwell Morris 'Well tread roads' (Independent/Hemifran)


During the day the Australian/English Andrew Maxwell Morris is a lawyer, but in his spare time his life is all about music. It took some time for him to release a full-length album, but now Well tread roads is released and it is without a doubt a sensational record. Andrew is a fantastic singer songwriter, who takes the best of everything musically speaking and delivers a perfect melodic pop/rock song with every tune on this first record. He already supported Marillion and it is only a matter of time when he will be headlining on his own, because he brings a great sound, especially thanks to his wonderful voice and also his creativeness in writing a memorable song. Folk, melodic pop and westcoast influences are clearly notable and Andrew has got that beautiful voice, which you need to have when you want to deliver this kind of music at a high level. James Taylor, Jackson Browne, Venice, Damien Rice and such are the kind of artists that come to mind when listening to great songs like On The Rainbow, In A Heartache, Black Dog, Writing On The Window (even a bit like Mumford And Sons) and the lovely titletrack. Without a doubt, this is highly recommended!!!!!!!!!!!! More at:    


(Points: 8.7 out of 10)


The Great Dictators 'Killers' (Royal Toad Records/Hemifran)


This is a weird and very diverse sounding band from Denmark, because sometimes the band sounds like a typical modern day European post-rockband in the style of The National, The Killers and The Editors duringan uptempo piece like Strange ways, while at other times the band slows things down to a somewhat dark sound which sounds a bit like Rufus Wainwright. Just listen to the song Heathens and it's like you're actually listening to a song by Rufus, which is not so strange, because the lead singer of The Great Dictators is sounding dangerously close to Rufus. Anyway, somehow it does work and after a while it's becoming a nice adventure we are listening to and The Great Dictators show they could actually become a huge band if they are lucky. Killer is their 2nd album and a recommended one to check out if you want to hear a cross between Rufus Wainwright and The Editors. More at:


(Points: 8.2 out of 10)


Last Days Of April ‘Sea of clouds’ (Tapete Records/Sonic Rendezvous)


Formed already 20 years ago, the Swedish band Last Days Of April delivers now their 9th album titled Sea of clouds. The Stockholm based band is formed around songwriter Karl Larsson and they have clearly made a household name within the Indie pop circuit. Although they are not known at major scale, Last Days Of April have reached many fans and I think also this new album will find its way to the fans of the band and perhaps gain some new ones. It’s not bad at all and somehow the band reminds me of an Americana influenced band and constantly I have to think about Neil Young or The Lemonheads. Vocally therefore not crystal clear, but nevertheless the band delivers a nice mixture of Indie, Pop and Americana. Good idea to start checking their earlier material as well, because this album is my first introduction to them and definitely not the last...


(Points: 7.9 out of 10)


Troy Lindsey and Bosaya 'Cold emotion' (Independent/USA Import)


Troy Lindsey is coming out of Wenatchee, USA and together with an all-star list of Nashville based session musicians, a Russian vocalist called Bosaya and producer Scotty Schultz (Shooter Jennings), he recorded Cold emotion. Troy himself doesn’t have the sweet clean melodic voice, but instead sings like Tom Waits and Bob Dylan, so it is very raw and low pitched, yet with here and there the dynamic vocals of Bosaya, it gives the music a sort of own identity. It’s Troy’s 5th album, released independently, it is definitely a high quality album! It is a nice mixture of folk, Americana, rock, blues and country, so an all-American record! Dark Hour, Like a Fool, Outlaw’s Love, Your Tomorrows and the titletrack are the highlights, but do check it out for yourself at: and


(Points: 8.0 out of 10)


Kaurna Cronin 'Glass fool' (Broken Silence/Hemifran)


Glass fool marks the debut album of Australian singer songwriter Kaurna Cronin, who is clearly influenced by the 1970s way of doing singer-songwriter music, sounding rather sweet and melodic, catchy and poppy. This is 1970s pop/rock meets singer songwriter meets westcoast, quite calm and reminding of James Taylor, Al Stewart, Paul Simon, Steely Dan, JJ Cale, Cat Stevens... There’s a slight rock edge and a folk touch, but overall it has a Paul Simon kinda pop vibe written all over the place. There’s a nice mixture of calmer and more uptempo pieces, with as highlights Still I Fall (catchy uptempo pop/rock), Blind (Al Stewart ish pop/rock) and Gone Is The Ever Unknown  (catchy uptempo pop/rock). When it rocks a little, then Ryan Adams is a nice comparison, but perhaps on a future album things will rock even more, because that might be the only complaint, as it sometimes drifts a bit too much in a poppy direction, which on the other hand is not really an issue, since the material reaches Paul Simon level at times. More at:


(Points: 8.0 out of 10)


Pi Jacobs ' Hi-rise ranch' (That Crazy Chick Music/Hemifran)


L.A. based singer/songwriter Pi Jacobs already has a long career behind her, writing and composing songs for movie and television for many years and since 2001 active as a solo performer. Hi-Rise Ranch marks her 6th album and the only complaint here is that with 6 songs and a playing length of just 20 minutes, it all over way too soon. One of the songs is the folk cover Babe I’m Gonna Leave You, which was made famous by Led Zeppelin and Joan Baez more than 40 years ago, but now covered very nicely by Pi. She has got an excellent voice and the melodic pop/rock with bluesy and westcoast touch sounds really great, reminding of Bonnie Raitt and Heather Nova. Hi-rise ranch is a very strong little record, with as highlights the uptempo poppy Starting now and closing track All For You, a nice ballad. Hopefully next time a long full-length record, because Pi shows that she is able to deliver quality material with lovely vocalwork. Meanwhile, check out more at:


(Points: 8.3 out of 10)


Lazy Afternoon ‘Any road’ (Independent/Sweden Import)


Sadly only one song is included, but the Swedish band Lazy Afternoon offers good clean quality american westcoast ish folksy pop/rock that sounds pretty catchy, but with only one song it is likewise hard to make up a good judgement, but go check them out at:


(Points: 7.5 out of 10)


Bill Gable 'No straight lines' (Independent/Hemifran)


Bill Gable is an American singer/songwriter who started his career back in 1989 with his debut album There Were Signs, which was released worldwide by Private Music/BMG (and re-released worldwide by Sony Records in 2013). The album was co-produced with Rob Mounsey (Steely Dan, Paul Simon) and featured musicians like drummers Jerry Marotta (Peter Gabriel, Crowded House), Jeff Porcaro (Toto, Steely Dan), percussion legends Airto Moreira, Luis Conte (Madonna, Eric Clapton) and Manolo Badrena (Weather Report) and bassists Jimmy Haslip (Yellowjackets, Bruce Hornsby), Mark Egan (Pat Metheny Group) and Octavio Bailly (Tamba Trio, Bossa Rio) as well as Jazz trumpeter Lew Soloff (Gil Evans, Blood, Sweat and Tears). Musically speaking it was a crossover record that blended the best elements of North and South American music, so pop and westcoast melodies were mixed with jazzy and Brazilian rhythms, which made it a very diverse and interesting record that did stood the test of time now 26 years later! Anyway, the follow-up This perfect day had to wait a while, but was eventually released in 2003, co-produced with Roscoe Beck (Leonard Cohen, Jennifer Warnes) this album saw Bill going into a more jazzy direction. Just like on his debut, the talented musician took care of the vocals, guitars and keys himself, but got help on the rhythm section by legendary musicians like Steve Rodby (Pat Metheny Group) on bass, Tom Brechtlein (Rickie Lee Jones, Leonard Cohen) on drums; Luis Conte (Madonna, Eric Clapton) and Alex Acuna (Weather Report, U2) on percussion; Bob Sheppard (Steely Dan, Lyle Mays) on flute and Dino Saluzzi on bandoneon. Now another leap forward in time, Bill releases his 3rd album No straight lines, which might as well be his finest so far. The man has got a fantastic voice and musically speaking the new record dives into pure Westcoast Pop/Rock bliss with a jazzy touch and some smooth south American rhythms to make it all sound just a bit different than the rest. Steely Dan and Toto comparisons are sometimes quite easy to make, but also someone like Sergio Mendes or even Santana comes to mind when listening to this lovely record, although here and there Bill is also playing with World Music. However, it’s the voice that it is the most important and thankfully Bill has got such an amazing voice, which is a true blessing to listen to, no matter what he sings about, even if it were the yellow pages, I swear you would not stop listening! Anyway, No Straight Lines features Gable on vocals, guitars and cello, Steve Rodby (Pat Metheny Group) and Jimmy Haslip (Yellowjackets, Bruce Hornsby) on bass, Larry Goldings (John Mayer, Curtis Stigers) on piano, Greg Ellis (Mickey Hart, Zakir Hussein) and Joey Heredia (Stevie Wonder, Sergio Mendes) on percussion, Ethan Margolis (Inés Bacán, El Lebrijano) on flamenco guitar, cajon and palmas and Manuel Gutierrez (Duquende, Louis Winsberg) on flamenco footwork. No matter which song you put on, A Million Miles, I Threw Your Heart, Where You Find It, Born To Love You and Road Of Pain, they all grab you and the use of different rhythm structures and those world music influences make it sound really interesting, but fear not, Bill is always giving you smooth pop and westcoast melodies as well to keep it enjoyable to listen to for everyone. This is one of those albums you want to check out over and over again, because you can always find something new here and that makes this album a must-have! Check it out asap at:


(Points: 8.7 out of 10)


Real McKenzies 'Rats in the burlap' (Fat Wreck Records/Sonic Rendezvous)


The Real McKenzies are more or less the Canadian-Scottish version of US-Irish Dropkick Murphys, but just a little rawer and punkier. Celtic-Punk is what they call the genre and they are doing things quite perfectly on their latest album Rats in the burlap. The band was formed way back in 1992 in Vancouver and built up quite a reputation through the years. Their latest album Rats in the burlap will definitely go down well with their long-time fans and despite it is not as good as Dropkick Murphys, this is the way Celtic Punk needs to sound and along with a musician in the line-up who is playing the bagpipes, this makes it all complete and even more worth checking out at:


(Points: 8.1 out of 10)


Strung Out 'Transmission alpha delta' (Fat Wreck Records/Sonic Rendezvous)


Well, well, well... this could well become the finest punk release in ages! Strung Out have been active for a long time (1989!) and released some great albums, but now they are about to release a really wonderful record that somehow has got all it takes to make them go up to mainstream level! I remember saying the same time about Ignite many years ago, but we are now in 2015 and after the breakthrough of Vollbeat, it might be possible for Strung Out to become really big with this awesome new record. Transmission alpha delta is the band’s 8th studio record and the follow-up to Agents of the Underground, which was released in 2009. It is more or less musically speaking following the same path as that great previous record, but just a little better. The band mixes old fashioned fast punk/hardcore with modern catchy melodic rock melodies and classic heavy metal guitar riffs. The result is a damn fine record that sounds deadly catchy. The vocals are melodic and sound really great, the melodies are wonderful and really memorable and all together, fans of pop, rock, punk, metal and whatever will like this, because it is super catchy and sometimes very polished, but still enough rock/metal to make it sound tough. Even power metal fans might want to check out this album! Most of the songs are fast uptempo and feature sing-a-long choruses, with as highlights Rebellion of the snakes (a superb almost classic kinda tune), The Animal and the Machine (with even a hardrock guitar riff, chorus of the year!!!), Black Maps, No apologies and Westcoasttrendkill. Definitely a contender for punk album of the year, although it does have something more to offer than just punk, as it is extremely melodic and catchy and features some big fat metal guitar riffs as well. Do not miss this gem! More at:


(Points: 8.7 out of 10)


Good Riddance 'Peace in our time' (Fat Wreck Records/Sonic Rendezvous)


On the same label as Strung Out, we welcome the new album of Good Riddance, another great Californian melodic punkband which has been active for quite a while now. Their new album Peace in our time is pretty much offering the kinda classic melodic punkpoprock we are all already familiar with, but thankfully it is done at a very high level and therefore a pleasure to listen to. The songs are uptempo, short and damn catchy!!!!!!!!!!! Songs like Disputatio and the utterly awesome Take it to heart are just 2 examples of how punkpop should be created in 2015, perfectly done! The 14 songs may not offer anything new to the genre, this is nevertheless a recommended album if you want to hear good clean fun punkpop. It's the band's first new album in 9 years and they hit the jackpot for sure here!


(Points: 8.3 out of 10)


Mitski 'Bury me at make out creek' (Don Giovanni Records/Sonic Rendezvous)


Mitski is coming out of New York and on her 3rd album Bury me at makeout creek, she is somehow doing something that might shape the interest of the press to bomb her to a new sensation. It’s the major press that makes or breaks acts and this new album of Mitski does sound quite interesting actually. She combines elements of altrock, garage rock and singer-songwriter, with beautiful vocals and distorted guitars kicking in every now and then. We have seen acts like Dum Dum Girls and Angel Olsen do that in recent years, but Mitski does it even better when you start listening to her album. Songs like Texas Reznikoff and First love / Late spring start calm and sound like beautiful calm singer songwriter pieces in the beginning, but burst halfway the songs into cool garage rock distorted guitar riff ish tunes. The vocals of Mitski are excellent and as already mentioned Dum Dum Girls is a great comparison. All of the songs are sounding strong, with as other highlight Townie, a midtempo semi-rocker and in the end, this is one of those albums you need to listen to over and over again to discover the beauty of it! The result is that this album contains some really great stuff and who knows, Mitski will have her breakthrough now. Check her out at:


(Points: 8.2 out of 10)


Brian Lee 'Declare' (Independent/Hemifran)


Out of Seattle comes Brian Lee, a singer-songwriter with a nice mini-record titled Declare. Definitely dealing with quality stuff here, although a bit on the soft side. Starting with a calm Bob Dylanesque tune, the following track While You Were Sleeping is offering great catchy uptempo melodic poprock in pure American tradition, even a bit powerpop ish like early 80s Moon Martin meets The Posies. The rest of the EP is a bit college pop/rock, with folk influences and that’s a pity, because I miss a little bit the rock here. More uptempo songs like While You Were Sleeping  would not hurt at all and let’s hope that will happen on a future album. Nevertheless, this is a great introduction to Brian Lee, who has got a strong voice and offers quality material, so a bright future is expected. More info at:


(Points: 7.8 out of 10)


Joanna Drummond 'Songs for mother's day' (Independent/Canada Import)


Joanna Drummond is a folk singer-songwriter from Calgary with a B.A. In Music from the University of Calgary and a background in operatic training, but her 2nd album Songs for mother's day is clearly in the folk music direction. She is influenced by Ani DiFranco, Amelia Curran, Paul Simon and Joni Mitchell, which can also be heard on this album. The music is calm 1970s singer songwriter folk orientated in the Joni Mitchell / Joan Baez style, which does sound beautiful, but after a while you know what you get, so it is only interesting to those who are really into this type of calm folk. More at:


(Points: 7.6 out of 10)


Waverly Lies North ' A soul in the void' (Brennus Music/France Import)


Formed in 2012, the French band Waverly Lies North now releases their debut album A lies in the void. The band is playing melodic prog/power Metal in the style of Kamelot, Pagan's Mind, Symphony X and especially Pyramaze, but not at the same high level vocally speaking, although it does sound quite nice nevertheless. The best songs are A Soul In The Void and Cheerish No hope. Instrumental it all sounds picture perfect, but like I already mentioned vocally is not always sounding crystal clear, which is necessary in this metal genre. Hear for yourself at:


(Points: 7.5 out of 10)


Peter Blachley ’Nevada sky’ (Independent/Hemifran)


The American singer songwriter Peter Blachley is not only a musician, but he also worked for Capitol/EMI for many years creating videoclips for acts like Stray Cats, George Thorogood and Duran Duran. Now many years later he releases his solo debut album Nevada sky, which musically is country and western the way it was meant to sound, so without all the crossover, rock and folk injections. The album also features  Fiona McBain (vocals), Chris Masterson (The Mastersons - guitar), David Mansfield (ex-Bob Dylan - guitar, mandolin), Byron Isaac (Levon Helm Band - bass), Jeff Hill (bass), Luis Guzman (Martha Gomez - bass) and Jeff Kazee (Southside Johnny & The Asbury Jukes - keys). Although it all sounds a bit standard and this kind of country was done a zillion times in the 1970s, it somehow has its charm and without a doubt, this is a quality record that should easily be picked by fans of real good old country and western music. More at:


(Points: 8.0 out of 10)


Richie Lawrence ‘Rue sanxay’ (Independent/Hemifran)


Accordion player Richie Lawrence from Sacramento, California releases his self-produced fifth album with this Rue Sanxay, on which he is accompanied by The Yolos (bassist Scott Prawalsky, drummer Bart van der Zeeuw and vocalist Katie Thomas) and a couple of guest musicians. Especially Katie plays an important role, which can already be heard from the start on the beautiful When I Find My Love Someday. She has got a great voice and together with Richie’s accordion, it is a nice combination that works very well. The included music is very diverse, sometimes relaxed jazzy and at other time uptempo almost balfolk ish, but a lot of genres pass by actually. New Orleans Cajun influences during Belle Lune, the Frenchie Rue Sanxay, country rocking in Oscar Wilde’s Middle Name  and the jazzy piano of Vanguard, so enough to discover here. Besides Katie singing, also a lot of room for instrumentals and this all combined makes it a recommended record for sure. More at:


(Points: 8.1 out of 10)


Useless Eaters 'Singles 2011-2014' (Slovenly Records/Sonic Rendezvous)


Now this is sounding very underground ish, but it actually happens to be a cool Garage Rock/Punk record made up by all of the singles released by the San Francisco/Memphis based band Useless Eaters between 2011 and 2014. 13 songs are included, with a total playing time of 31 minutes. Highlights are Difficult, The Moves, and I Hate the Kids and fans of Ty Segall will love this most definitely. Done well and interesting for fans of raw punky underground garage rock. More at:


(Points: 7.8 out of 10)


Left Lane Cruiser 'Dirty Spliff Blues’ (Alive Natural Sound/Sonic Rendezvous)


The band Left Lane Cruiser comes out of Fort Wayne, Indiana, USA and Dirty Spliff Blues is already their 5th album and while listening it is remarkable that they have not yet had their big breakthrough. If Royal Blood and Rival Sons are major bands right now, then Left Lane Cruiser should be mentioned as well. The trio has got the same cool big fat guitar riff orientated sound as those bands, ditto excellent vocals at the same high level and a sound that should be described as stomping garage rock that is raw dirty mean and sleazy, but can also be seen as heavy bluesrock in the style of The Black keys, The White Stripes, MC5 and such. On a festival, this band would steal the show and let’s hope Dirty Spliff Blues will become their major break. They already had a song featured in the popular TV-show Breaking bad. Highlights on the album are Tres borrachos, Tangled up in bush and Heavy honey, but any of the 10 included songs are a must-hear and one cannot stand still when playing this sensational record loud and proud, because this album rocks big time! The monster guitarsound and the vocalwork are really marvelous, just dying to be discovered by the masses. It’s like the late 1960s all over again, so an interesting band to check out asap at:


(Points: 8.5 out of 10)


Frogbelly and Symphony 'Blue bright ow sleep' (Labelship/Polymath PR/UK Import)


Blue bright ow sleep is the 2nd album of the band Frogbelly and Symphony. They consist of German born Tom Hanley (vocals, bass), Irish American Liz Hanley (vocals, keys, violin), the British Ben Trott (guitar) and American Ray Rizzo (drums). Partly based in Sheffield, UK and Brooklyn, New York, they have created a record that contains influences from a lot of music genres, progressive rock, folk, singer-songwriter, melodic rock, heavy rock, hardrock and pop/rock are all put into their songs. I have to say that it is a challenge to make it interesting when changing so many times from style on a single record. Sometimes it feels like a sorta rock-opera this album and despite it is all done very nicely, somehow it also needs further listens, because not everything sounds good here. The vocals are not really impressive and if I have to pick the best songs, I would say Patch of Blue, Leyla's Find and Organism. Folk, Progrock and Heavy Rock (yes, even Black Sabbath riffs!) are most of the time the styles in which this album is moving, but it’s best to check it out for yourself to make up a good mind on this band at: and


(Points: 7.9 out of 10)