HOT NEW REVIEWS


UPDATED April 23, 2016


Zingo 'Zingo' (Renegade Sounds/Canada Import)

 

Back in the 1970s there was a Canadian melodic rockband called Zingo featuring guitar virtuoso Keith Scott, who in later years went on recording and touring with Bryan Adams for decades. Anyway, Zingo never made it big, even didn’t manage to release a full album, but thankfully we have Renegade Sounds whom after 35 years collected the original band’s tapes and pressed it on CD. Now Zingo has a debut full-length CD out, which took 40 (!) years, but besides 10 original tunes from the 1970s, we can also find 2 brand new tracks. It all starts with Merry Go Round (an awesome tune, a la Stingray, Aerial, Touch..., US Pomprock with melodic rock influences), followed by You're For Me (groovier rocker, slightly weaker), I'm in Love Again (simple 70s boogie rocker, early REO Speedwagon), Sailing On (nice semi-ballad), Take Me Back (great melodic pomprock like Mayday, Starz…), Venusian Lights (great semi prog aor/melodic rock), Waiting For a Sign (awesome classic late 1970s AOR rocker with strong harmonies, big guitars upfront and a lovely guitarsolo, Boston style), Fantasy (nice semi ballad/rocker, 70s style with a jazzy groove/westcoast flavorish sound, Billy Joel ish somehow, and once again a great guitarsolo), Woman in Red (uptempo 70s melodic rocker a la Starz again) and Felicity (1970s pop bliss). The absolute highlights however are those 2 bonustracks, both are just perfect!!! First we have Love of a Dream and right away we have a much better sound. This song is high class pure AOR/Pomprock, quite a superb tune in the classic style of Roadmaster, including fantastic harmonyvocals. The other song is Backstabber, another lovely AOR rocker with beauitful harmonies, like Roadmaster, Aerial, RPM and Shelter melted together, just perfect early 80s North American AOR. The lovely vocals sound like a mix between New England meets Starz meets Stingray meets Boston, while as already mentioned the music is too, also reminding of Aerial, basically US Pomprock with melodic rock influences, a little prog here and there and 1970s rock. Although this might not be a classic, Zingo from Vancouver now has a nice recommendable album out, which should be checked by fans of mentioned acts, so the dedicated fans of 70s aor/melodic rock/pomprock. More at: www.renegadesounds.com and http://www.twitter.com/ZingoBand

 

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)


Amberian Dawn ‘Innuendo’ (Napalm Records)

 

This is their seventh studio album, the third one with the fantastic female singer Päivi "Capri" Virkkunen. After listening a couple of times to this album I can conclude that this is by far their strongest release. Amberian Dawn stands for neo-classical Metal with a lot of pop melodies and even some musical influences. For example the song “Knock knock who’s there” is impossible to get out of your head with such catchy ABBAish refrain. Still there is also space for some old fashioned fast Metal tunes like “Rise of the evil”. For fans of DELAIN and AMARANTHE. For further details you can read the interview with guitarist Tuomas Seppälä at the INTERVIEWS page.

 

(Points: 8.4 out of 10)


Nemesea ‘Uprise’ (Napalm Records)

 

Nemesea is not your typical female fronted Metal band, they have a own sound with influences from Electronic music and Alternative rock but always with great melodies. Even dough they exist for 14 years, this is just their fourth album. My favourite album of them is their second “In control” and the new one is expanding the sound from this album. The albums starts off with the song “Hear me” with a great riff, where you can clearly hear the influences of MUSE. On a song like “Let it burn” you can still hear where their roots are from (EVANESCANCE). The keysong on this record is at the end of the album, “Bones” has a amazing chorus and standout vocal performance by singer Manda Ophuis.

 

(Points: 8.6 out of 10)


Dyscordia ‘Words in ruin’ (Road Mark Productions)

 

The last couple of years there are coming a lot of new great Heavy Metal bands from Belgium (ETHERNITY/DIABLO BLVD) and Dyscordia is no exception. This is their second full length album and it is a big step forward in comparision with the debut album. Their style can be described as a mix of Power Metal and Melodic Death Metal much alike INTO ETERNITY (Somebody remembers them?). Suddenly they got a lot of attention in Belgium when the song “Chthonic star” from the new album entered the famous “De Zwaarste Lijst” from radio station Studio Brussel. So maybe in a few years they will be the biggest Metal band of Belgium. First promoting this new great album with a lot of live performances and the future will tell.

 

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)

 

Divided Multitude 'Divided Multitude' (Fireball Records/Gordeon Music)

 

The Norwegian band Divided Multitude already exists for 20 years and to celebrate this, they have released a new album which is simply titled Divided Multitude. The album was mixed by Jacob Hansen (Evergrey, Epica and many more) and also features the vocalists from Pyramaze and Shadow Gallery. Although it isn’t as good as those 2 bands, it is nevertheless a strong album that combines prog and power metal. The album however starts with a very aggressive tune titled Immortal, which even features death metal growling, but as the album continues, it turns out to be a nice melodic prog/power metal affair that finds itself somewhere between Pyramaze, Threshold and Iced Earth. The sound is massive and although the constant high pitched vocals are a bit too much sometimes and the music is rather cliché tingled, there are a couple of memorable songs we should definitely mention. Proud is a lovely calmer tune, a slow melodic prog ballad with great vocals and I would personally welcome many more songs like this next time, because that could definitely make them an interesting progmetal band a la Threshold. Demise is a great fast power metal tune that sounds like Nevermore meets Mystic Prophecy and is rather catchy. Closing track Seal of Faith is a massive melodic power ballad, a la Iced Earth, featuring a superb chorus. Although most of the other songs are just nice standard prog/power metal tunes like we have heard before by bands like Pagan’s Mind, Mind’s Eye, Pyramaze and such, it is all done quite nicely and especially the 3 mentioned highlights make this a recommended album to check out at: http://igg.me/at/dividedmultitude

 

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

 

Mindgames 'Paradox of choice' (Independent/Belgian Import)

 

The Belgian band Mindgames has a long history, going back to the year 1997 when they were formed by Bart Schram and Eric (bass, 1997-2006), whom were joined by Benny Petak (drums) and Tom Truyers (keys). The line-up changed a few times and after 3 releases, the band is now back with it’s 4th album Paradox of choice, which could well be called their finest album so far. The band’s current line-up consists of Bart Schram / Vocals, Accoustic Guitar, Sandro Starita / Electric Guitar, Rhythm Guitar, Tom Truyers / Piano, Synthesizers, Hammond, EFX, Maximilian von Wullerstorff / Bass and Benny Petak / Drums, Percussion. The music on especially this new record is like a step back in time, because it is a pure late 80s/early 90s symphonic rock affair, reminding me a lot of the classic SI Music releases of bands like Timelock, Egdon Heath, For Absent Friends and also the 80s sounds of Pendragon, IQ and Marillion in their early days, which means a keyboard layered sound with friendly melodies and a subtle guitarsound, slightly pushed to the back. 80s British Neo-prog meets 90s SI Music Symphonic Melodic Rock, that is the best description of the sound of Mindgames. But thankfully they have made it their own unique sound through the years and we have some great material on this new album, which starts with The Whistle-Blower, a pure classic symphonic rocker in the very early Marillion style, uptempo with strong vocals and featuring a beautiful melodic guitarsolo, also clearly IQ and Pendragon 80s style neo-prog/sympho is a good description. In the same style, but calmer is following track The Age of Plenty, while Out of Sight is a fantastic epic tune with a lovely melodic guitarsolo halfway. Revenge of the Wizard is another uptempo symphonic rocker, with a break that is sorta opera like. Followed by calmer tracks Requiem for a Dancing World and Context? Anyone?, the last 2 tracks on the CD are together with the already mentioned opener definitely the finest tracks on the album. First there is The Sands of Time, a lovely epic tune, progrock with superb guitarwork and as closing track we can find From a Drone's Perspective, a song that starts calm with strong vocals and is overall reminding me of 90s IQ/Pendragon very much, so typical British Neo-Prog, midtempo with quite a lot of breaks and basically this a very long tune with a great guitarsolo and some jazzy influences as well, so by far the most interesting track. This is Neo-Prog meets Symphonic Rock at its finest, so do not miss this album if you’re a fan of the mentioned bands. For more info go to: https://www.cdbaby.com/cd/mindgames3 and http://www.mindgames.be/paradoxofchoice.html

 

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)

 

Projection 'Realitivity' (Independent)

 

Projection is a new Dutch band formed around Jurgen ten Have - Bass & Vocals, Frank van Eerden - Guitar & Vocals, Richard Immink - Drums & Vocals and Peter Pampiermole - Keys & Vocals. They released a quality debut album titled Realitivity, which is actually a concept album. Musically the band is situated somewhere between melodic rock and symphonic rock, reminding a lot of all the Dutch bands from the past in those genres, especially during the lovely opener Running through time, a glorious uptempo lte 80s AOR/melodic rocker that sounds like a cross between Terra Nova, No Exqze and First Avenue, so without a doubt, this is a must-hear for fans of those bands. Things get a little more symphonic and darker during the next couple of tracks, of which Numb/Overload/Escape from reality is a nice remarkable trilogy part that is basically progressive rock like a mix between Nice Beaver, For Absent Friends and Timelock. It is a real concept album, because the songs synchronise with each other from start to finish and I have to admit that it all sounds quite strong and very impressive for an independent record. The keyboardwork and guitarwork are picture perfect, just listen to the beautiful symphonic rocker Delirious, which is another highlight on the album, reminding me a lot of Vandenplas. Also we need to mention the lovely calmer ballad Stranded, where the vocals sound amazing, singing quite low and this continues during the start of the following track Erase, which turns out to become a pompous melodic rocker with NWOBHM amibition a la Praying Mantis and Magnum, while it also features a blistering guitar versus keyboardsolo. Although the vocals are not always convincing, during those songs they sound at home, probably because this is slightly calmer material. Off a new beginning is a pretty good midtempo AOR tune, while closing track On (Again) is a nice semi-ballad a la For Absent Friends. Conclusion is that the band has delivered a recommended debut album, which you can check out at: http://projectionband.nl/

 

(Points: 8.1 out of 10)

 

Spells And Curses 'Suadade' (Independent/USA Import)

 

The band Spells and Curses from New York was formed in 2013 by multi-instrumentalist Arnold, who basically does everything on his own, but eventually this one man’s project/band turned into a trio when bassist JD and drummer Alan joined him in 2014. The debut album Suadade is a very nice collection with influences from different music genres. It’s more or less a concept album with quite a few intro’s and instrumental pieces and speaking parts, but while listening to the actual songs you can hear that Arnold is a very talented musician and singer/songwriter. The sound is very original, sometimes dark and heavy, then suddenly pure industrial and some sweet melodies is well during the calmer parts, so you can go anywhere on this release, which makes it a very interesting album to check out. If we go through the tracklisting and skip the intro’s/instrumental parts (2013, Ibid, Ironrockhard, Meaningful Use, Creationship, God's Teeth  and DNR), we have 5 songs left to listen to. Black Sclera is a minimalistic tune which somehow reminds me of Peter Gabriel meets Joy Divison, sorta featuring an underground dark sound with drums only, combined with shoegaze dreampop ish melodies. Next track is Illunga, the first song with a full band sound, Sting ish, with strong melodies and even a bit progressive rock orientated, basically this is a fantastic song, very original and sensational and it could be huge, as this is progrock meets Sting and people who appreciate Steven Wilson and Porcupine Tree will absolutely love this! Then we have The Callout, which is heavy, with aggressive metal ish guitars mixed with instrumental prog and also featuring massive synths, sorta J-Rock ish tune as well with still strong melodies once again, reminding of The Deftones. Up next is If Only You Knew, a calm tune, quite beautiful singing here and again reminding of Sting, but also Damien Rice ish singer/songwriter style. Last real track is Blackbird, a calm singer/songwriter tune a la Hozier, Jeff Buckley and such, with again featuring Arnold’s beautiful voice! Definitely highly recommended to check out asap and hopefully a follow-up album will not be a concept record, but a full band record. Spells And Curses is an act to watch out for in the future. Check them out at: http://spellsandcurses.bandcamp.com/album/suadade and http://spellsandcurs.es

 

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)

 

Trent Dabbs 'The way we look at horses vinyl record' (Ready Set Music/USA Import)

 

The Way We Look At Horses is already the 8th release of singer/songwriter Trent Dabbs, who hails from Nashville, USA. It’s nice to receive the vinyl edition, because after all, this sounds much better than the CD or digital files. His songs have found a home on television shows such as Grey's Anatomy, So You Think You Can Dance, Hawaii Five-0, One Tree Hill, Pretty Little Liars and many others, so I guess you can say that he has built quite a reputation so far. Musically speaking he takes a bit of everything, mixes it and out comes the sound of Trent Dabbs that combines elements of Indie Pop, Singer/Songwriter, Americana, Folk, Country and a little rock and roll. The result is a pleasure to listen to and the 10 songs on The Way We Look At Horses take you on an almost spiritual journey where Trent’s voice shows an own identity. Neil Young, Tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen and Johnny Cash are clear influences, although as mentioned Terry has somehow an unique voice that makes it sound a little differently. The start of the album is quite calm, but throughout the album we can find some great uptempo pieces. He tells stories through his songs and combined with beautiful melodies, this is one of those albums you can listen to over and over again. Especially fun uptempo pieces like She’s My Destination, Mountain Song and Midnight Walls are a joy to play, but also the more calmer indie-popsongs are sounding very impressive. Although with so many album releases in his catalogue you can’t really speak of a great new musician, but in case you haven’t heard of Trent before, then this is an album you need to check out. More info at: www.trentdabbs.com

 

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)

 

Cage & Co 'Tyneside on my mind' (Independent/Hemifran)

 

Cage & Co. is a band from the Newcastle area, of whom 2 members were once part of a duo called Crowded Nation, who recorded several albums between 1985 and 1991. One of the members (Nick Mao) became part of an extremely popular comedy duo performing across the UK. Anyway, the musicians never lost touch and even managed to release an album in 2009 titled The Sound Of One Hand Clapping. Now followed up by a new album titled Tyneside on my mind, the band is called Cage & Co and nowadays formed around Derek Miller, Dave Ramshaw and Nick Mao. Besides them, we can also find musician guests like Simon Todd, Paul Harris, Joe Weallenas and Paul Robson. The included music is very diverse and shows the band’s influences from the past decades. If we go through the tracklisting, it starts with Yesterday, Pt. 1: The Kiss At the End of the World, which is a very modern, but retro sounding keyboard overladen early 80s new wav orientated track like The Editors meets New Order. Followed by Part of Everyone Else (a 1970s inspired singer/songwriter piece, with a folk approach, Irish influences somehow, acoustic/semi-electric guitar sing-a-long tune, perfect around the campfire, basically a great tune), Tyneside On My Mind (piano/keyboard led proggy kinda ballad, another great tune, with exellent vocalwork, like Fish meets Chris DeBurgh), So Lonely (REM ish altrocker), So Close to Paradise (quirky tune), Is This the Time? (a bit 80s new wave pop, catchy tune, Tears For Fears ish), A Nameless Love Song (also REM orientated, a bit altcountry ish), Demons of the Desert (happy 80s Housemartins, almost pure Britpop), Flirting With Spirits '15 (nice little happy poptune), Yesterday, Pt. 2: Yesterday's World (another piano/keyboard led proggy ballad) and closing track Yesterday, Pt. 3: Pick Up Your Guitar (nice harmonyvocal driven REMish tune meets a little prog, with also a great guitarsolo and balladish parts). Overall, the album has a dark slow melancholic sound, very diverse and without a doubt a high quality release from start to finish. Check out more at: www.reverbnation.com/cageco

 

(Points: 8.1 out of 10)

 

Of Clocks And Clouds 'You' (Independent/USA Import)

 

Founded on January 1st of 2013, the band Of Clocks And Clouds hails from Brooklyn, New York and they deliver a great debut album titled You. Although it might not all sound very original, what we get to hear is the possible breakthrough for this new band if they are lucky. The sound on this album is massive and the songs are very interesting. Of Clocks And Clouds is formed around 2 Italian kids, Joe Salgo: guitars, vocals, bass, synths and Ross Procaccio: drums and backup vocals, whom are assisted by back-up vocalist Holly Blinn. You contains 8 tracks that are quite diverse actually, starting with Burn a Hole in the Sky, which features heavy synths and is basically an instrumental intro to the following track Your Love Will Be My End, which is lovely midtempo groovy 70s psychedelic (hard) rock a la The Black Keys. This song shows the catchy huge sound of Of Clocks And Clouds, which is continued on the remaining tracks of the album. What You Need is a nice midtempo tune, poppy and even a little David Bowie ish, while Tripping on the Far Side of the Sun is a great midtempo rocker, heavier and a little psychedelic too, like early Tame Impale meets The Temples, although Led Zeppelin ish as well, sounding like a pure retro 1970s classic, very impressive! Up next is Carry, a slightly depressing and slow tune a la David Bowie again, with a bit Radiohead similarities as well. Disaster Medicine is instrumental, a heavy complicated tune that sounds quite underground ish. Then we have What's The Matter?, an awesome tune, lovely midtempo groovy 1970s psychedelic rock a la The Black Keys and The Flaming Lips, with hit potential and definitely appealing to the masses. Closing track is Psychic Realms, a great midtempo rocker, like Pink Floyd gone heavier, also sorta semi-instrumental finishing this rather interesting album. Don’t miss this band at: http://ofclocksandclouds.com and http://ofclocksandclouds.bandcamp.com and https://soundcloud.com/ofclocksandclouds

 

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)

 

Gabe Kubanda 'Flow fail prevail' (Independent/USA Import)

 

Singer/songwriter Gabe Kubanda is coming from from Arizona, USA and he was a featured cast member on VH1 Classic's Rock N Roll Fantasy Camp reality TV show, and founding member of his former band, Letters Burning, but is now working on a solo career with the release of his debut solo-album Flow fail prevail. 15 songs are included on the album and actually it sounds like a major label release, both musically speaking and the production. I have to admit that the songs are very commercial sounding sometimes, but Gabe has an awesome voice, which is making it a pleasure to listen to the record. The songs are short and sweet, in a smooth melodic pop/rock direction, reminding me of Kyle Vincent here and there actually, yet also with a modern r&b touch (a la Jake Isaac). Highlights are Don't Be Lying (catchy uptempo modern poprocker, radio-ready), You Got It (calmer piece), Mother's Sonlike (poppy uptempo commercial tune), Someone (excellent catchy uptempo poprocker) and What It's Worth (cool singer/songwriter piece). It sounds a little light, radiofriendly and commercial, so on a future record it is recommended to show a little more diversity and feature some more guitars to make it sound bigger, but with a voice like Gabe has, it should be no problem to someday breakthrough with a hitsingle. Without a doubt, this is a high quality release you can easily check out at: http://www.gabekubanda.com

 

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)

 

Monster Truck 'Sittin' heavy' (Mascot Records)

 

Now here we have a band destined to breakthrough massively all over Europe soon, because in homeland Canada they already have received a Juno Award, toured (also in Europe and the USA) with major acts (ZZ Top, Guns'N'Roses, Rival Sons, etc.) and released a well-received album a few years ago. Monster Truck returns in 2016 with the release of Sittin' heavy, which is a fantastic modern day sounding retro classic rock meets stoner rock orientated album, co-produced by Eric Ratz (Billy Talent, Three Days Grace and Cancer Bats). The sound is huge and the music is very impressive. The band's first single Don't tell me how to live is without a doubt the band's closest thing to write a huge radiohit to sing-a-long to and secretly it is my favorite tune! This song is a fantastic melodic tune, groovy midtempo melodic heavy rock with a huge haunting chorus, fabulous guitarwork and strong vocals. Most of the other songs are definitely more going for the stompin' heavy groovy stoner rock guitar riff orientated sound that must appeal to fans of Kyuss, Fu Manchu, Clutch, Monster Magnet, yet somehow the band does also add a classic rock touch a lot of times and could therefore be compared to bands like Rival Sons, Black Stone Cherry and The Answer as well. Other highlights are For the people, Black forest (southern rockballad) and Enjoy the time. This album has a monster trucking sound, so go get it asap, because it might turn out to become the rock album of 2016!

 

(Points: 8.6 out of 10)

 

Get Well Soon 'Love' (Caroline International/DGR Music)

 

Established in 2005, Get Well Soon is a band/project of the German singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Konstantin Gropper. The previous 3 albums (Rest Now, Weary Head! You Will Get Well Soon from 2008, Vexations from 2010 and The Scarlet Beast O'Seven Heads from 2012 all did very well, even entering the German charts. Now in 2016 the 4th album is released, which is entitled Love. Musically it is as mentioned in the press release a romantic kinda pop/rock style, taking elements of indie, folk, new wave and progressive rock. There’s a clear sorta British 80s alternative indie pop/rocksound to be heard on this album, which is high quality stuff for sure and The Smiths and Morrisey are good comparisons, but by now Get Well Soon has developed it’s own style. Highlights on the new album are Eulogy (very strong impressive song), It's love (midtempo melancholic tune), Marienbad (uptempo indie pop piece, nice, happy and radiofriendly) and Young count falls for nurse (another happy 80s pop ish tune with melancholic approach). Nice comeback from Get Well Soon! More info at: www.youwillgetwellsoon.com

 

(Points: 8.1 out of 10)

 

Allison Geddie 'Everything you don't see' (Independent/USA Import)

 

Singer/songwriter Allison Geddie was born in New York City, but travelled around the world quite a lot (New Zealand, Afghanistan, Germany) where she experienced a lot that eventually influenced her music direction. She finally settled in L.A., where she recorded her debut album Everything you don’t see. At the behest of legendary producer David Foster, songwriter and producer Greg Critchley (whose credits include Miley Cyrus/Hannah Montana, Michelle Branch, and “High School Musical”) produced Geddie’s debut album, which also features Nelly Furtado guitarist Mike Krompass, and Goo Goo Dolls guitarist Greg Suran besides her current line-up of Dan Pritikin - piano/backup vox, Tina Guo – cello, Kenny Arehart – bass and Eric Bradley - electric guitar. The result is a very strong record, featuring mostly beautiful songs, which are calm and melodic, mostly starting with just an acoustic guitar and Allison’s lovely voice, but developing into more upbeat melodic pop/rock tunes, reminding of Alannis Morissette and Heather Nova. The best songs are Take a Shot, Leave With Me, In This City and the absolute finest song Set Us Free (more pure poprock based, very strong and with huge hit potential). Without a doubt this is a high quality release! Through the years Allison also recorded several singles and made videos of her songs, which she nicely collected on a CDR for me and those songs are also available on her site at: http://allisongeddie.com. Final thing to mention here is that she even opened for Blue Öyster Cult, so basically we need to keep our eyes open for this talented musician!

 

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)

 

Sugar And The Hi Lows 'High Roller' (Ready Set Records/USA Import)

 

Trent Dabbs and Amy Stroup are 2 successful singer/songwriters, both solo and as writers together for other acts, but now they joined forces and formed Sugar & The Hi-Lows, releasing a fantastic debut album titled High roller. The album starts with a few uptempo tunes featuring strong vocals by Amy, but as the album continues it goes a little more in a slower tempo, with also Trent singing more and more. Overall, it feels like a combination of a female Bryan Adams sometimes, with a Chris Isaak ish guitarsound and a dash of Cock Robin as well, with a country twangle slide guitar and some bluesy elements. Opener Bees Left the Trees is a nice uptempo tune that mixes Rockabilly with Bluegrass, but the rest of the album is different and more traditional American pop/rock. If we run through the tracklisting after the opening cut, we are pleased with the following songs, Can We Just Be Adults (great tune, a little more poprock orientated), High Roller (even more rockier and uptempo, very catchy), I Don't Get High (duet with Trent, great midtempo aor/melodic poprock a la Common Linnets), Right Time to Tell You (semi ballad, another duet, pretty good, hit potential, here a clear Bryan Adams similarity), Morning Joy (another semi ballad duet), Graffiti Hearts (a little darker, with Trent doing the lead vocals), Pick You Up (a groove bluesy tune), Tennessee Quick (semi- acoustic ballad duet) and closing track Heaven, a calmer ballad. All together a great record to check out and for the Dutch among us, The Common Linnets is the best comparison. More info at: http://sugarandthehilows.com

 

(Points: 8.4 out of 10)

 

Noumeno 'Escape' (Independent/Italy Import)

 

Formed during the summer of 2007 in Rome, the Italian band Noumeno has released 2 CDs so far. Their line-up consists of Emanuel Calvelli / Bass, Emiliano Cantiano / Drums, Danilo Carrabino / Guitar and Fabrizio Agabiti / Guitar. Their major influences come from Meshuggah, Liquid Tension Experiment, Spastic Ink, Symphony X, Cacophony, Racer X, Jason Becker and such. As you might have noticed, there is no vocalist in the band, so we are dealing here with an instrumental band, but thankfully a very good one, because their latest album Escape contains impressive high quality instrumental melodic (power) metal, with a bit of progressive metal influences, but mostly the songs are quite short and more based on a solid tight tempo with awesome shredding guitarwork than endless stretching progressive complicated structures. Perhaps on a future record, some diversity might be recommended, because now the songs more or less follow a same path, but on the other hand it is a pleasure to listen to the album from start to finish, so there’s nothing annoying. The band was also eager to sent me their previous album Trapped, which featured keyboard legend Vitalij Kuprij as a guest, and this record is basically in a similar style. Definitely a highly recommended band to fans of instrumental melodic metal with a shredding guitarist. More at: http://noumenorome.blogspot.com/ and  http://www.reverbnation.com/noumenorome  

 

(Points: 8.1 out of 10)

 

Metorana 'Promotional disc' (Independent/USA Import)

 

Only 3 songs are on the promo of the Queens/New York based band Metorana, so it’s not easy to get a good idea of their chances to succeed in this big world of rockmusic. The songs are short and sweet, clearly influenced by 90s punkrock, pure metal riffs and 80s party anthems, so mix that up and you have Metorana. Angry, Madd and Unconscious and Satisfy U are both of such uptempo punk/glamrockers, but the real surprise is the beautiful Traitor, a semi melodic rockballad with strong vocals and harmonies and even featuring an 80s inspired guitarsolo! It’s best to check out this band for yourself if you’re starting to become interested at: http://www.metorana.com

 

(Points: 7.7 out of 10)

 

The Music Therapy Experiment 'Make it home' (Independent/USA Import)

 

Out of Alabama, USA comes The Music Therapy Experiment, an instrumental trio formed around John Kline - Guitars, Vocals, Selina "The Fox" Metoxen – Bass and John Gibbs – Drums. Leader of the band is clearly John, because he plays electric and acoustic guitars, keyboards, harmonica, banjo, and also does the majority of the arranging, engineering, production, composition and songwriting on the band’s debut album Make it home. Besides, John has already released 6 solo-albums, so you can easily call him a music mastermind. He plays the guitar really well, clearly influenced by guitar heroes like Eric Johnson, Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, Jeff Beck… and despite this is an instrumental band, a few songs (such as the westcoast tune Another Round) also feature John’s vocals, so he’s a singer too! Make it home is a lovely instrumental record, sounding quite relaxing, combining prog, fusion, melodic rock and westcoast, guitar based and even featuring some well-done covers of classics like You Are so Beautiful and Superstition and an awesome metal ish version of Doctor who! Highlights however are the band’s own original tunes New Friends and Happy Dance. Definitely a pleasure to listen to this album, of which you can hear more for yourself at:

http://www.reverbnation.com/musictherapyexperiment

 

(Points: 8.1 out of 10)

 

David Berkeley 'Cardboard boat' (Straw Man Records/Hemifran)

 

American singer/songwriter David Berkeley traveled, lived and worked in lots of different places, Atlanta, Idaho, Brooklyn, Corsica and his present place of residence, Santa Fe, but without a doubt, he is a major talent waiting to be discovered, although his latest album Cardboard boat is already his 6th, so it's about time people will find out about him. Released on his own Straw Man label, the album will accompany his book The Free Brontosaurus and on 5 of the 10 tracks he is assisted by back-up singer Sara Watkins from the band Nickel Creek. Sometimes a little folky and americana, then rocking a bit and a lot of times drifting into lovely singer/songwriter music, that is what this journey of David is taking us and especially during songs like Colored birds, Cardboard boat and Wishing well we can hear some beauties. A cross between Neil Young, Rufus Wainwright, Ed Sheeran and Nick Drake could well be a description and thanks to the help of musicians like guitarist Bill Titus (Dan Bern, Brother Ali), trumpet and banjo player Jordan Katz (De La Soul, The Indigo Girls), bassist/keyboard player Will Robertson (Shawn Mullins) and drummer Mathias Kunzli (Regina Spektor), the album has a full band sound. Check out more at: www.davidberkeley.com

 

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)

 

Kate Campbell 'The K.O.A. Tapes volume 1' (Large River Music/Hemifran)

 

Originally from Sledge, Mississippi, now settled in Nashville, 55-year old singer/songwriter Kate Campbell's musical tastes are coming from typical southern US music styles, such as soul, R&B, Southern rock, country, blues, and folk music. She made her debut in 1995 as a recording artist and has since collaborated with the likes of Guy Clark, Emmylou Harris, John Prine, Nanci Griffith, Maura O’Connell, and Buddy Miller. Her latest album The K.O.A. Tapes volume 1 was recorded on Kate's iPhone 5 and/or using two microphones in her living room and at various locations across America, with guest musicians like Spooner Oldham (B-3 Organ), Missy Raines (Upright Bass), Sally Van Meter (Dobro), Joey Miskulin (Accordion), Laura Boosinger (Banjo), Steve Smith (Mandolin), and John Kirk (Fiddle). Kate has a beautiful voice and is making it a pleasure to listen to her songs. Besides own material, such as the lovely songs Some Song, Lay Back The Darkness and Strangeness Of The Day, there are also great covers of classics like Janis Joplin’s Me And Bobby McGee and Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Freebird. Definitely a recommended album and a voice which you need to hear! More at: http://www.katecampbell.com

 

(Points: 8.1 out of 10)

 

Jimmy Ruggiere 'A heartache couldn't happen to a nicer guy' (Blue Streak Records/Hemifran)

 

Classic Country is the name of the game here and if this was released in the 1970s it would have been a major label release for sure. Jimmy is from Texas, played with Travis Tritt as harmonica player for many years, but also released solo albums, 8 in total, and now we have new record A heartache couldn't happen to a nicer guy. Basically it follows the traditional classic country style of artists like Glenn Campbell, Guy Clark, Merle Haggard, Waylon Jennings, Rodney Crowell and it is done really well, so fans of this style can easily check Jimmy out at: http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/jimmyruggiere

 

(Points: 7.5 out of 10)

 

Whitney Campbell 'Life is sweet' (Let's Pick Records/USA Import)

 

Nashville based singer/songwriter Whitney Campbell releases her debut album with this Life is sweet, which musically contains influences ranging from blues to bluegrass, folk, swing, and honky tonk. Most of the time it is bluegrass orientated, with a country twangle, with a song like Look over your shoulder sounding like a traditional classic and combining bluegrass and country at its very best. Sometimes reminding of Loretta Lynn, but then more going for a bluegrass direction than country. Anyway, nice debut, check it out for yourself at: https://whitneycampbell.bandcamp.com/

 

(Points: 7.8 out of 10)

 

Mel Parsons 'Drylands' (Native Tongue Music/New Zealand Import)

 

Out of New Zealand comes the talented sensation Mel Parsons. She was kind enough to sent me her 3rd album Drylands, which was released in April 2015. I have not heard her earlier releases, but I am very keen to check them out too, because this album is filled with high quality relaxing music that reminds me sometimes of the legendary Tanita Tikaram, so we have a radiofriendly sound here with a crystal-clear production that combines pop melodies with a warm lush folk/rock sound and especially the laid-back vocals of Mel are making this a highly recommended record! The album starts with an uptempo anthemic tune called Far away that you can easily sing-a-long and if any station around the world will pick this up and play it often, a new hit is most definitely born. The song tackles the typical modern day popular indie-folkpop sound that you hear a lot on the radio nowadays, but Mel also goes deeper than that on most of the other songs, because these are all songs that grab you and make it impossible to stop listening to. The material is not too complicated, but as already mentioned, very laid-back and sometimes reminding of a female fronted version of bands like Calexico and War On Drugs, with also a dash of Heather Nova and Lucinda Williams, 70s Fleetwood Mac sometimes, but most of all, the Tanita Tikaram similarities are very remarkable. Besides the opener, other highlights are Alberta sun, Non communicado, the radio-ready hit Good together, First sign of trouble and Far northcoast, but any song will fulfill here. Remarkable guest is the legendary Canadian singer/songwriter Rox Sexsmith on one of the songs (Don't wait), so she has already connections now to the established music business world. Without a doubt, Mel Parsons is a name to remember, because in her homeland this album has charted high in the independent charts for several months and she is becoming quite well-known by now over there, but elsewhere a breakthrough should also be possible. Drylands is definitely an album to check out if you want to hear a beautiful mix of folk, pop/rock, indie and singer/songwriter. More at: http://melparsons.com

 

(Points: 8.7 out of 10)

 

Privet Earth 'Breaking the ice' (Spectra Music Group/USA Import)

 

Queen meets Guns'n'Roses is the decription in the biography of the LA based Privet Earth. Basically it is a quirky theatrical mix of powerpop, glamrock and poprock, which sometimes is dangerously to The Darkness (high-pitched vocals), although The Tubes, Cheap Trick, City Boy and The Sparks are also easy comparisons to make. It is done quite well, although not all songs are convincing. Opener Ice orkestra is the kinda uptempo happy sing-a-long tune everyone will love for sure. Big city and Blue bottle are a little more straight-forward typical modern English mod/pub-rock meets early 80s powerpop tunes that will appeal to fans of let's say Kaiser Chiefs (and also The Knack). Anyway, this band definitely knows how to write catchy tunes and there's a market for them out there, although sometimes it is all a bit too quirky I think. Despite the band is setlled in LA (Van Nuys to be exact), the bandleader Ivan Smirnov was born in Saint Petersburg, Russia, and raised in Vologda, a small city of a few hundred miles from Moscow, but inspired by the classic rocksounds of the USA, he eventually setlled himself in California to start recording music. Breaking the ice is the 2nd album he released together with Megan 'Whiplash' Mullins and Mike Fix on drums, bassists Robb Valier and Shannin Deane and cello player Irina Chirkova. Ivan himself plays guitars, keyboards, a little bass and of course sings! He isn't a Freddie Mercury, David Bowie or John Lennon yet, because those are his inspirations. Nevertheless, here and there we can find some nice material on this album, such as the earlier mentioned tracks and also the lovely semi-rocker Give it to the wind. I think Privet Earth definitely has a future, but needs to be refine it's material here and there to come up with more stronger songs like the earlier mentioned highlights, because now we also have a lot of so-so tunes. Improvements are always a good thing and Breaking the ice has already enough highlights to recommend it to fans of mentioned bands! Check out Privet Earth at: www.privetearth.com

 

Points: 7.6 out of 10)

 

Celine Schmink 'Paris-Memphis' (7em Records/France Import)

                                                                                       

Out of France comes Celine Schmink, who delivers with Paris-Memphis her second album, which is the follow-up to La ballade d’Anissa. Musically speaking we are heading into quite an original direction, which is hard to describe, as it starts with Bêtes d'orage, a weird industrial electro tune that sounds completely different than the rest of the album. Next track Isadora Duncan is more akin to the sound of the album, because this is sorta late 60s garage rock orientated with guitars instead of (drum) computers. The first real interesting tune is Compulsive Ways, a great smooth relaxing summer breeze tune a la Chris Isaak, with of course French female vocals, quite a laid-back song, sounding really melodic and also indie-folk-pop orientated. Another highlight is the beautiful Under a Blue Moon, where Celine shows her excellent vocal skills. Although you have to get used to her way of singing and it is in French, the combination with a guitar in the style of Chris Isaak and here and there reminding of the semi-electric wah-wah sound of The Animals, this is making this an interesting adventure to check out. No rockers here and a somewhat weird opener, but nevertheless interesting to check out this French singer/songwriter at: www.celineschmink.com

 

(Points: 7.7 out of 10)

 

Rachel Garlin 'Wink at July' (Tactile Records/Hemifran)

 

Out of San Francisco comes singer/songwriter Rachel Garlin, who recorded her album Wink At July with producer JJ Wiesler (Matt Nathanson, Girls) and musicians like the legendary people like Michael Urbano (John Hiatt, Smash Mouth), Prairie Prince (original member of Journey, The Tubes) and several others. She has got a 70s singer/songwriter way of singing, while musically it reminds me a lot of Suzanne Vega, which means we get to hear most of the time relaxing calmer acoustic tingled pop/rock meets 1970s singer/songwriter. Highlights on her album are Accordion Song, Hey Keith Haring and Spin. Not bad at all, do check it out for yourself at: www.rachelgarlin.com

 

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

 

Mark Sanders 'The gamble' (Dream Tune Records/USA Import)

 

Mark Sanders is a veteran of the Michigan Blues scene, who appeared with The Next Exit Blues band, The Shakers and The Albert Blues Band, but also has a solo career going on, of which The gamble is the latest result. What we get to hear is strong bluesy rock, with great guitarsolos and strong vocals by Mark. The best song are The Spell, The Hard Way, Blues On Back Road (excellent AORish, like Warren Hayes, relaxing and very laid back melodic americana meets westcoast influences as well) and the balladish Haunting Me. Sometimes it even reminds me of a slightly bluesier version of Golden Earring, especially during the already mentioned Blues On Back Road. This is a very good record actually, showcasing the enormous talent of Mark Sanders, who hits the notes on the guitar exactly the way we want to hear it, as he can make it sing and when you can do that, you hit the right spot. He can also sing very well, so basically we have a win-win situation with this record. Check him out at: http://www.myspace.com/marksandersmusic and http://www.reverbnation.com/marksandersmusic and http://www.cdbaby.com/marksanders4

 

(Points: 8.1 out of 10)

 

Jordan Klassen 'Javelin' (Nevado Music/DGR Music)

 

Chamber folk pop is the descirption of Jordan Klassen’s new album Javelin. Jordan comes out of Vancouver, Canada and most of his new album is inspired by his mother, who is at the moment fighting cancer. Lyrically, but especially musically he explores his mother’s favorite music, which is new age of the 1980s/1990s and especially Enya has been a huge influence in the making of this record. I can also hear some slight typical Canada influences here as well, even a bit Zappacosta, Luba and Dalbello experimental hi-tech pop/rock can be heard. The self-produced LP was recorded at Sonic Ranch in El Paso, Texas, along with engineer Jerry Ordonez, while the record was mixed by Jonathan Anderson (Andy Shauf, Aidan Knight) and mastered by Harris Newman (Wolf Parade, Frog Eyes. Although 80s/90s influenced, the sound has a typical modern hi-tech indie pop touch as well, Best songs are Glory B, Baby Moses and St Fraser, which are mostly midtempo based. There’s also typical calmer singer/songwriter stuff here, such as Delilah, which features some high falseto by Jordan. Concluded, we have a nice album here that may not sound really rocking, but it does capture a beautiful emotional sound that is somewhere between Indie-pop, new age and singer/songwriter pop, not unlike John Grant for example but then less electronic and bombastic, as after all, this album is a calm modest and quite honest record by a talented Canadian musician. More info at: http://www.jordanklassen.com

 

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

 

Dan San 'Shelter' (DGR Music)

 

Dan San is a Belgian band formed around Maxime Lhussier (Bass Guitar, Percussion, Keyboards, Vocals), Olivier Cox (Drums, Percussion), Jerôme Magnée (Guitar, Percussion, Vocals), Thomas Médard (Guitar, Vocals, Percussion) and Leticia Collet (Keyboards, Vocals). 10 short songs and 1 longer track (the closing Somewhere) are on their new album Shelter. Musically speaking it is a calmer indie pop affair, which doesn’t sound bad at all, but the record could use a little more uptempo based material, because the album’s finest track is one of the few more uptempo based tunes (Nautilus I). Nevertheless, we can listen to a nice little record that brings you in a very relaxed mood. Hear more at: www.dansan.be

 

(Points: 7.6 out of 10)

 

Nem Q 'Fault lines' (RVP Records)

 

Formed in 2004, the Dutch band made their debut in 2007 with the album Opportunities of Tomorrow, which was a mix of melodic rock/metal, jazz/fusion rhythms and pop rock influences. Next 5 years they concentrated on live performances and working on a new concept album titled 301.81, which was released in 2012. Another 4 years later the band has meanwhile played support act for Fates Warning (USA) and Threshold (UK) and released their 3rd album Fault lines, a mini-album consisting of 4 tracks. The band’s line-up consists of Mark Reijven (Guitar), Paul Sieben, (Guitar, vocals), Dennis Renders (Keys, vocals), Maarten Meeuws, (Bass) and Twan Bakker (Drums). Without a doubt, we have a very strong release here, reaching the level of that other legendary Limburg based band Suncaged, which means we get to hear melodic progrock/progmetal, with great vocalwork and lovely melodies, quite perfect sounding and clearly influenced by the great acts of the genre (Threshold, Enchant, Fates Warning). The best songs are Inner Struggle and Vanity, but actually all 4 songs are a must to hear if you’re a fan of mentioned bands. Don’t miss this band if you’re into the mentioned bands, go check them out at: www.nem-q.com

 

(Points: 8.4 out of 10)

 

Johnny Reed 'Third time’s a charm' (Independent/USA Import)

 

Multi-instrumentalist Johnny Reed from Redondo Beach recently released his 5th CD Third time’s a charm. He released 2 records under the band name Rawk Dagh, which were both more Hardrock based, while solo he now presents his 3rd record Third time’s a charm. The album is musically speaking a mix of traditional American Pop/Rock sounds, which does rock enough for the rockers and even vocally it sounds quite good. There are some similarities to Neil Young possible and even some 80s aor/melodic rock keyboard friendly ballads can be heard here during Perceptions, An Empty Chair and Get Through to You. However, most of the album rock in an uptempo semi rocking mood, a little Americana ish a la Tom Petty during songs like Lucky Lucky You, Where is my Guru and perhaps the finest song of them all is the semi melodic rocker Break the Ice. Check out Johnny at: http://www.JohnnyReed.com

 

(Points: 7.9 out of 10)

 

Escondido 'Walking with a stranger' (Kill Canyon LLC/USA Import)

 

They got the approval of the legendary film producer David Lynch after he heard a song of them on a local radio station. Needless to say that this act called Escondido from Nashville is indeed a very strong duo, consisting of Jessica Maros and Tyler James, whom recently released their new album Walking with a stranger on their own label Kill Canyon. The two met one night in 2011 while jamming in a studio and right away there was the needed click to start making music together, which resulted in their debut album The Ghost of Escondido in 2013, several tours and now a follow-up in the shape of Walking with a stranger. Without a doubt, this is a sensational record, as everything sounds just perfect, especially Jessica’s lush vocals which are mostly in a low range… If we take a look at a bunch of the included songs, we need to mentioned Footprints (fantastic midtempo Indie Folkrock a la First Aid Kit, quite superb, relaxing and melodic, feel good music with lovely vocals), Heart Is Black (more rocking, midtempo, even a bit classic Shocking Blue, good song and slightly also reminding of 70s Heart), Apartment (a la Common Linnets very much, but then slightly better, with a sorta 70s approach like Fleetwood Mac with Stevie Nicks on vocals), Try (The Pierces/First Aid Kit/Webb Sisters orientated calmer piece, just beautiful!), Gambling Man (semi ballad, nice and very melodic, Heart ish again) and Leaving Brooklyn (nice calmer ballad). The album could only use a little more variation, as most of the songs are midtempo orientated, so a pure uptempo tune would be nice to hear in addition, but this is still an excellent album with a huge sound and definitely high class stuff from start to finish. Do not miss this independent release, as this is as good as or perhaps even better than a lot of major label releases out there! More info at: www.thebandescondido.com 

 

(Points: 8.6 out of 10)

 

Ohm 'Face the faceless' (Membrane Records/Swiss Import)

 

The first song on the new album of the Swiss band is titled As long as I don't know and right from the start you can hear we are on to something quite good, because this song is like a step back in time, as we are listening to high class 80s US Melodic Power Metal in the vein of Omen, Fates Warning, Heir Apparent, Syris, Leatherwolf and such. Although the label bio states that this is a band mixing melodic heavy rock with altrock and even grunge, this opening cut sounds really like high class US Power Metal of a long but not forgotten past. I have to add here that the rest of the album is slightly different and at times more akin to 90s underground melodic metal (reminding me a lot of Teer if anyone can remember that band!), but for a start of a new album, it sounds quite interesting and making you eager to listen further. This is espcially thanks to the fact that the band has a really fantastic lead singer (Don James Ayer from Canada, who was previously in the band Fair Haven), but the band's guitarist (Matthias Leuenberger) is not as good yet as the guitar slingers of the mentioned bands. Nevertheless, we can enjoy a really pleasant album here that mostly goes into the melodic heavy rock/metal direction of the 80s and early to mid 90s, with as highlights besides that lovely opening track, the melodic heavy rocker Dancing with the snake (pure 80s) and Creeping shade (catchy sing-a-long uptempo melodic metal). They lose quite some points towards the end, as the second part of the CD is a lot weaker. Nevertheless, check them out at: http://www.go4ohm.com 


(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

 

R.X. Bertoldi and Son 'Taking back the time Studio EP' (Independent/USA Import)

 

Here we have a great singer/songwriter from Seattle, who works together with his son (on drums) since a couple of years and recently recorded a great mini-CD along with acclaimed Seattle producer and multi-instrumentalist Johnny Sangster (Mudhoney, Posies). Included are 5 songs, 2 covers (Bob Dylan and Tom Waits) and 3 originals, which musically are great singer/songwriter ish tunes with americana/folk influences and showcasing R.X.'s great vocalwork. Especially the Tom Waits cover Ol'55 is a beautiful piece of work, thanks to the wonderful vocals. I am definitely looking forward to a full-length album of this talented musician. Check him out at: http://www.rxbertoldi.com

 

(Points: 8.1 out of 10)

 

Striker 'Stand in the fire' (Record Breaking Records/SAOL/CMM)

 

Striker hail from Canada and their cliché tingled name might mix them up with all the other bands named Striker from the past, including a recent Swedish one, but this Edmonton, Canada based Striker is definitely on it’s way to bigger fame and fortune than any other Striker has ever been. They already worked with the legendary producer Michael Wagener in the past and now release an album that sounds like a diamond in the sky, which means this is a real melodic metal monster. Although Striker might not sound really original, it is all done very well and there’s enough variation in tempo and style, which is very important. Their sound is somewhere between White Wizzard, Skull Fist, Bullet, Primal Fear, Iron Maiden, Dream Evil and Nocturnal Rites, but with a little more experimental moves here and there. The band’s line-up consists of Dan Clearly (vocals) Tim Brown (lead/rhythm guitars) William Wallace (bass) and Adam Brown (drums), with the help of Randy Black (who filled in on drums while Adam was away…) and the legendary Frederik Nordstrom (Bring Me The Horizon, In Flames, Opeth, Dream Evil) who mixed the album. Stand in the fire is already their 4th album, which follows their 2012 Napalm Records release City Of Gold. Striker was formed back in 2007 and now 9 years later, they might have released the album that should gain them a lot of popularity. It is released on their own label Record Breaking Records, but the sound is definitely of an incredible high level, even better than a lot major label releases. We basically have here a nice package that includes very strong (mostly high pitched) lead vocals, catchy huge choruses (80s style), great biting guitarwork which sounds very flashy (Dragonforce meets Maiden), a tight rhythm section (double-bass drum is used multiple times, but not going into overdrive constantly a la Dragonforce of Skull Fist) and a huge production, but also a lot of great songs that truly matter and are a must to hear, headbang and sing-a-long to. The album starts with Phoenix Lights, which is typical retro uptempo melodic metal, like early Europe meets Iron Maiden, with a dash of Primal Fear. Up next is the absolute highlight and perhaps the greatest Metal tune of the past few years, namely Out For Blood, which sounds like a classic to me, as this melodic faster power metal at it’s best, with a superb catchy 80s melodic chorus and as a surprise, a saxsolo, which makes it a very interesting tune to check out. Other songs include Too Late (very 80s sounding melodic hardrock a la Mad Max, Pretty Maids, Casanova and such, very European style), The Iron Never Lies (very good melodic metal again, a la Leatherwolf, Heir Apparent, with a great chorus and a lovely guitarsolo), the instrumental Escape From Shred City, Outlaw (typical modern day melodic power metal a la Iced Earth), Locked In (Mystic Prophecy meets Judas Priest), United (80s ‘fist in the air’ metal a la Dream Evil) and closing track One Life, which happens to be a lovely calmer semi ballad/rocker that once again reminds me of Leatherwolf. Do not miss this gem, which might become the finest metal album of 2016!. Check out Striker at: http://www.striker-metal.com/

 

(Points: 8.7 out of 10)

 

Rage Of Angels 'The Devil's new tricks' (Escape Music)

 

The band Rage of Angels is the brainchild of original Ten keyboard player Ged Rylands,who played on their first three studio albums and the double live CD 'Never Say Goodbye', while he also worked with Hugo, Contagious, Danny Danzi, Lover Under Cover and Tyketto in the years following his departure from Ten. In 2013 he started his own band Rage of Angels and released a lovely album titled Dreamworld. 3 years ago this debut album received a glorious review from our side and the reason why it was such a great album was the fact that the melodic rocksongs were very good and they featured the vocals of such great singers like Danny Vaughn (Tyketto), Harry Hess (Harem Scarem), Ralph Scheepers (Primal Fear), Matti Alfonzetti and Robert Hart. Now there is a follow-up titled The devil’s new tricks, which has a more band kinda feeling than the debut record due to the use of just one singer. Rob Moratti (ex Saga, Final Frontier) is the vocalist and he is one of those singers you hate or love, because he goes up in vocal range to such a high octave (high c) that it can get annoying for some. Steve Perry out of control or Mickey Mouse are comparisons you can often hear and it is a pity that Rob isn’t singing more low C’s, because he can deliver some great singing as well, but when he is in the high pitched mode, then it is a bit too much sometimes. The closest comparison, also musically speaking, it is clearly the band Shy, including those high pitched vocals. The production is excellent and instrumental it is all in the typical cliché tingled AOR/Melodic Rock direction. Among the 10 tracks we can find a lot of so-so material and despite there’s nothing new under the sun here, we can hear some interesting tunes, such as All You Own Way (pretty good catchy melodic rock, very much Shy), One Step Closer (uptempo, quite nice, with an Asia like chorus, very 80s), Love Will Never Die (pretty good midtempo AOR, with nice melodies and a great guitarsolo), I Feel It In My Heart (classic early 80s AOR style, dut-dut keys and guitar riff, with a chorus straight out of the big book of classic AOR, very much 80s Shy and 1st FM, Preview, Aviator, great song though) and closing track Long Days Without You (pretty good semi AOR ballad). Personally I would prefer a singer like Danny Vaughn, but nevertheless it is a nice addition to the collection of melodic rock/aor fans. Not as good as that sensational debut, but for especially Shy fans a recommended album to check out!

 

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

 

Dana Immanuel 'Dotted lines' (Independent/Hemifran)

 

Here we have a sensational singer from the UK, who originally comes out of Greece. Dana releases her 2nd album with this Dotted lines, which only has a playing time of 32 minutes, but that is the only complaint, because she does some exciting things on this record. She studied classical music at Oxford, but has her music interests are genres like alternative country, bluegrass, jazz and theatrical rock. The combination can be heard clearly on this album, which is actually a superb album that sounds from start to finish as a very pleasant album to listen to. Besides Dana’s singing and banjo playing, other musicians are Feadora Morris (guitar), Maya McCourt (cello & harmonies), Blanche Ellis (washboard, harmonies & occasional dancing) and Hjordis Moon Badford (cajon, percussion & badassery). Highlights are Mile High (very strong Amercana/Bluegrass based uptempo tune), Rock Bottom (hit potential tune, catchy song that could be a huge hit! Even a pop-rock vibe going on here), Devil’s Money (more classic Bluegrass) and closing track Be Like Arnie (a great semi rocker). It is especially the lovely vocalwork of Dana that makes her such an interesting artist, as she has a sorta rock tone in her voice, but the music also kicks ass! If you want to hear a combination of bluegrass, alternative country, americana and a little pop/rock, as in a mix between Alanis Morissette, Melissa Etheridge, Allanah Myles, Imelda May and Lanie Lane, then you need to check out Dana at: http://DanaImmanuel.com

 

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)

 

West Of Eden ´Look to the west´ (West Of Music/Hemifran)

 

Look to the west is already the 9th album of the Gothenburg, Sweden based band West Of Eden. Their sound is very traditional Irish and British orientated, combining folk and celtic melodies all the time. The band consists of Lars Broman (Fiddle), Martin Holmlund (Bass), Ola Karlevo (Drums & Bodhran), Jenny Schaub (Vocals, Accordion), Martin Schaub (Vocals, Acoustic Guitar, Piano) and Henning Sernhede (Guitars, Mandolin). As you can see, West Of Eden has a male and a female singer, Jenny and Martin Schaub, whom are giving the material a diverse approach, because when Martin sings it is quite melancholic uptempo folkrock (Rainy Town), while Jenny’s vocals make the songs go in a sorta beautiful almost 70s style singer songwriter calm folk/celtic direction (such as the lovely Going to Hull, Oh, I Miss My Home and The Crying Stairs). The List is one of the absolute highlights, because this is a classic celtic ballad in pure Irish tradition. Concluded, this this new album of West Of Eden sounds like an interesting mixture between Clannad, The Chieftains, Fairport Convention and Steeley Span. Do check them out at: www.westofeden.com

 

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)

 

Lord Man ´Words of man´ (PIC Records/USA Import)

 

Sadly only 1 song (Far away) can be found here, which has female vocals and sounds like a nice melodic gothic metal tune a la Delain, but later this year we will see a real album release from Lord Man from San Diego and then we can make a real good judgement. Lord Man is a concept of Jack Gunn, who is joined on drums by Grammy Award winner Gregg Bissonette! The first preview sounds good, so we are looking forward to a full length release in the future. Meanwhile, check out more at: www.lordmanmusic.com

 

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

 

Yael Meyer 'Warrior heart' (KLI Records/Hemifran)

 

Multi-talented and multi-instrumentalist Yael Meyer (real name Yael Elisa Meyer Barbarach) is settled in L.A., but was born in Santiago, Chile. 15 years ago she started her music journey, which took her everywhere, as she studied at the famous Berklee College Of Music in Boston, released various records and gained a lot of exposure with her songs in movies and TV shows, with Rolling Stone even praising her. Now her 3rd album Warrior heart is released (actually it has been out for a while) and without a doubt, this is a highly recommended album. She plays guitar, bass, percussion, accordion, glockenspiel, keyboards, piano, melodica, ukulele, ocarina, but is also active as singer, songwriter, musician, label owner and producer, so a real busy talent we have here. She did most things herself in the past, but her latest record was produced by Bill Lefler (Dashboard Confessional, Patrick Stump, Ingrid Michaelson, Fall Out Boy) at his Death Star Studios in L.A.’s Koreatown. She combines hi-tech electronic Indie Pop, Singer-Songwriter and Folk melodies with the exotic sounds of her native land Chile, which makes it quite interesting to listen to. Enough pop melodies for the masses, while the tribal rhythms make it sound originally enough for those looking for something just a little different than the standard pop music. Feist, Beth Orton and especially Maria Mena come to mind here, but overall, Yeal Meyer has an own identity. Highlights are Warrior Heart (modern melodic pop/rock with hi-tech and indie pop touch, like Tennis, Metric, Florence and the Machine and such, a damn catchy tune and true radiohit!), Endless Kind Love (beauiul calm song) and the Spanish sung Yo Soy. Yael has a beautiful voice and this album is a high quality release and very much recommended. It could easily gain her a breakthrough worldwide if she’s lucky, because the talent is present all over the place. Check her out at: www.yaelmeyermusic.com

 

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)

 

Thrillkiller 'Time' (Independent/USA Import)

 

Out of Baltimore, USA comes a sensational new band called Thrillkiller. Formed around Rob Bradley (vocals) and Maxim Sobchenko (guitars), with Matt Bittman taking care of bass, drums and production, this 1980s rock influenced band is doing things just perfect on their debut mini-CD Time. The vocals are spot-on here, the choruses are deadly catchy, the guitars are high-class, flashy and super melodic, while the overall sound and vibe is like a step back in time to the 1980s, but then still sounding up-to-date and fresh. Imagine if Aerosmith had a baby with Alter Bridge, calling it H.E.A.T.! The 4 songs are really great and fun to listen to, especially the first 2 rockers Passion killer and Time that recall everything you love or hate about 80s American Hair Metal, although there's also a groovy vibe to be heard as well during Passion killer (read: Living Color, Talisman and King's X), while the uptempo Time is in the exact same style as underground melodic rockband Rock Candy if anyone can remember them! So you might wanna say that nothing new is happening here, but who cares, because Thrillkiller do it with passion and they do it at an incredible high level. After a Motley Crue ish guitar riff, Extreme and Slyboyz are tackled during the groovy In too deep that even would make Prince become jealous about the deadly catchy chorus, while closing track The storm is the only weaker song here, a glamrocking party tune a la D'Molls. Definitely a band you need to check out a.s.a.p., because they might become the next big thing! More at: http://www.thrillkiller.net/

 

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)

 

Ansatz Der Maschine 'Tatooed body blues' (DGR Music)

 

10 years ago the Belgian project Ansatz Der Maschine started and now they have already delivered their 4th album Tatooed body blues. Despite the somewhat misleading albumtitle, musically speaking no blues can be found on this album. Leader of this project is Mathijs Bertel, who is assisted on vocals by a lot of female singers (Bloem de Ligny, Nathalie Delcroix, Inne Eysermans, Renée Sys and Sophia Ammann (Little Dots) and one male vocalist (Arne Leurentop). I am not familiar with earlier material, but it seems previous records were more electronic based, although this can still be heard most of the time, also on this new record. It is a very diverse record, with the use of various instruments, quite experimental sometimes and enough room for instrumental creativeniss from Matthijs (especially during the instrumentals Cold, Sun and Highlands). If we look at some of the highlights, these include Insomnia (male/female duet, beautiful!), Song X (beautiful female vocals, reminds me a bit of the Webb Sisters), Narodnaja (Bjork ish) and Driftwood (Calm and beautiful, with a harp as instrument). The drumcomputer beat is making it sound a bit static at times, but the vocals are quite fragile and beautiful, with overall a sorta modern Scandinavian/Icelandic sound. More info at: www.ansatzdermaschine.be

 

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

 

Double Veterans 'Space age voyeurism' (Noisesome Recordings/Caroline Benelux/DGR Music)

 

Double Veterans is a new Belgian band, whom are making their debut with this first full-length record titled Space age voyeurism. Although nothing new is brought here and the band makes a good deal of rock and roll, they do it quite well and could best be described as a strong psychedelic garage rockband of the 1960s with 1990s alternative rock influences, bringing mostly uptempo tunes that mix influences from legendary bands like Rolling Stones, R.E.M. and Nirvana. The highlights among the 12 short tracks are Cocktail, Heaven VS Hell and Doww. There is some screaming here and there, but if you combine late 1960s garage rock riffs with underground 80s alternative rock melodies and 90s altrock screaming, then you have something that is close to the sound of Double Veterans. Check them out at: www.doubleveterans.be

 

(Points: 7.8 out of 10)

 

Maessorr Structorr 'Rise at fall' (Kleinberg Music/Germany Import)

 

I would swear I had put on an old Scratch Records release from 1985 while listening to the debut album of the German band Maessorr Structorr. Especially the song Floods of Metal is as close to bands like Noisehunter, Restless, Accept, Tyrant, Veto, Gravestone, Stormwitch, etc. etc. This is classic 80s Teutonic Melodic Heavy Metal like only the Germans can make 'em. It sounds pretty cliche tingled and the heavy accent vocals and guitars are not always sounding picture perfect, fans of mentioned bands will absolutely love this album, because Maessorr Structorr are doing things just perfect in this genre. This is what Metal is all about! Leather, fist in the air, raw vocals and gang-choruses, Accept and Sinner on steroids, so go check them out if you're a fan of that style and for a little fun check out the catchy Theresa, which is a happy and poppy tune that could even become a Eurovision Song Contest hit! Anyway, more info at: www.maessorrstructorr.com

 

(Points: 7.7 out of 10)

 

Landry Riba 'Tales from behind the mirror' (Independent/Andorra Import)

 

Out of Andorra comes Landry Riba and he was kind enough to sent me his album Tales from behind the mirror. Musically we are entering an instrumental neo-classical ambient/electronic direction, which sometimes feel like a perfect movie score. Landry is a composer, bass player and sampler programmer, while he is helped by several guest musicians on this record, such as Violinplayers Berta Subietas and Sílvia Garcia, Violoncelloplayers Jordi Claret and Mireia Planas. The result is high quality music that as already mentioned feels like a movie theme, so it is instrumental and electronic, sounding very relaxing, also due to the addition of the violins. Look down to the sky is one of the highlights, but the whole album shapes a nice relaxing vibe, which you can check out at: http://www.landryriba.com

 

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

 

Ferni 'Afterburn/Change Of Heart' (Independent/USA Import)

 

Started in 2013, Ferni stands for Ferni Lopez, an American singer-songwriter living in Houston, Texas and founding member of the bands Of Love and Justic and Brother Sol. Now solo, he was kind enough to sent me his album Afterburn and his new single Change of heart. Musical influences include REM, Pearl Jam, Lou Reed, U2, Smashing Pumpkins, Foo Fighters, The Frames, The Clash, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, Neil Diamond, The Who, Neil Young and countless others. He reminds me a bit of John Grant, but vocally not of that incredible high level, although he still has a great voice, which can be heard right from the start on the album with a calm piano led soul track titled Wonderful that sounds like a darker and better version of Sam Smith. Next track Blame is heavy on the bass, a little altrock ish, sounding pretty good, midtempo orientated, with a slight U2/Kings Of Leon touch. During following track How Do You Like Me Ferni’s vocals might sound a little monotone after a while, while Why Don't You is drifting into pure alternative rock. However, the best song is Talk to Me, a melodic semi rocker/ballad. Deep down in 1990s depression we have Afraid, an acoustic calm R.E.M. ish tune. The new single Change of heart is his finest song so far, as this midtempo rocker has much better vocals and also a huge bandsound, so more full on rockbased. It reminds me a bit of Jake Isaac actually, but then not so clean in the singing and Ferni adds to his soulful pop/rock a clear 90s raw alternative touch. Check it out for yourself at: http://fernimusic.com and http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/ferni

 

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)

 

Sacart 'Show of doubts' (Independent/Russia Import)

 

Sacart is a band from Moscow, Russia, currently making a name in that region, while being described as a Russian post-punk revival band. They sent me their mini-album Show of doubts, which indeed has a lot of post-punk British influences, but also some more can be heard throughout their material. After a short Intro, we get to hear the songs Genesis (a very good mixture of post rock and progressive rock, think Steven Wilson meets Suede, with lots of space for instrumental passages and still featuring a melodic chorus, also blessed with good vocalwork), When We Appear (The Cure ish bass orientated goth post-punk start, but also with a proggy touch, although this is more altrock the 80s British way sounding in the end), Permanency (midtempo melodic poprock ish, goth-prog or something like that), Doubt (uptempo rocker, gothic ish with similarities to Echo And The Bunnymen, a rather catchy tune, very 80s, melodic and poppy, with also once again great vocals). The vocals are better than most other Russian bands, although you can still hear a slight accent. The sound is very British orientated, 80s new wave meets gothic like Ultravox, The Cure and Echo And The Bunnymen combined, yet with some Russian influences and the already mentioned light accent. When you are starting to become interested, just go to: https://sacart.bandcamp.com/

 

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)

 

Recorders 'Coast to coast' (Noisesome Records/Caroline/DGR Music)

 

Recorders is a Belgian band whom recorded their 2014 debut Above the tide together with Tony Hoffer (M83, Beck, Air, Phoenix, The Fratellis) in Los Angeles and now they return with Coast to coast. The new album is a typical modern day indie poprock album with high falsetto vocals, sounding quite good, although sometimes it gets a little bit too much and also quite standard musically speaking, as we have heard it all before this mixture of 80s synth/wave, modern danceable poprock, avantgarde jazz and electronic bleeps. Somewhere between A-Ha, Bloc Party, Joy Division and Coldplay is my point of view, especially during slower songs like A church of dust and rubble, Arctic skies and moonless nights and Time is a flat circle. The band is at their best however during catchy uptempo tunes like Cutting clouds, Geometric peaks (light poprock, catchy and radio ready, even a bit The Cure and Not all who wander are lost, which are showing an own identity. During a few songs (Summit, Shoot shoot and track number 8), it is getting quite electronic and actually if you like the latest Tame Impale record, then you might as well want to check out the new Recorders. More info at: www.recordersmusic.com

 

(Points: 7.8 out of 10)

 

The Heavy 'Hurt and the merciless' (Counter Records/PIAS/DGR Music)

 

Now here we have something really sensational. The band is called The Heavy, hail from Bath, UK and are bringing us an interesting mixture of 70s Funk/R&B and 70s groovy (Hard) Rock, as if Grand Funk Railroad and James Brown started to really rock together. Actually this new, 4th album Hurt and merciless is really awesome and quite original at the moment, because this is funkin' old school R&B 1960s/1970s style at it’s very best, with an incredible rocking sound, a bit like Vintage Trouble, with those pure 1970s groovin funky rhythms and superstrong soul vocals a la James Brown. The Heavy were formed way back in 1998, features Kelvin Swaby (vocals), Dan Taylor (guitar), Spencer Page (bass guitar) and Chris Ellul (drums), released 3 albums so far and as already mentioned, this 4th record should really become their big break. They are as good as Vintage Trouble, perhaps even better! 12 tracks are included, starting with Since You Been Gone (excellent, original, although very retro! Sorta “Papa was a rolling stome style” style), the album grabs you and doesn’t get you bored a single second until it is finished! Following tracks are What Happened to the Love? ( uptempo rocking, a la Vintage Trouble, great stuff, awesome vocals again), Not the One (groovy rocker, very 70s), The Apology (late 70s, even disco ish, almost Earth, Wind and Fire), Nobody's Hero (relaxing sorta semi-ballad, with Mexican influences, even a bit like Calexico, jazzy approach, singer/songwiter ish as well and featuring a melodic AOR/westcoast kinda chorus, interesting and beautiful), Miss California (nice midtempo rocker, nothing that special), Turn Up (another groovy funking tune in classic 70s style, James Brown ish), A Ghost You Can't Forget (catchy midtempo groovy and quite bluesy rocker, very much like Vintage Trouble), Last Confession (another midtempo rocker, sounds even a bit like Living Colour), Mean Ol' Man (great uptempo funky rocker, once again a sorta Shaft kinda feeling), Slave to Your Love (excellent grooving hardrocker) and closing track Goodbye Baby (calmer ballad). A very special release and one to check out a.s.a.p.! More info at: www.theheavy.co.uk

 

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)

 

Massive 'Destination somewhere' (Earache/DGR Music)

 

Destination Somewhere is the debut album of the hot new Australian Hardrockband Massive. Wolfmother, Airbourne and a few others paved the way for a whole new generation of Aussie Hardrockbands and Massive is another band to check out. Although it may not sound very original, because after all, the style we get to hear is basically pure late 1980s sleazy sunset strip based melodic hardrock and we heard it better 25-30 years ago when money was no problem for a major label production, it still ain't bad at all and basically the band’s sound is in the style of such legendary bands like Jesse Strange, Denaro, Dirty Rhythm, Every Mother’s Nightmare, Skid Row, Dirty Looks, Dirty Blonde, Gypsy Rose, Cats In Boots, Beau Nasty, Tora Tora, Blue Tears, Brunette, Tuff Luck, etc. etc. Hair Metal is the name of the game here, although also not too far removed from today’s hardrock sound of country mates Airbourne, The Answer and Rival Sons. Opener One For The Road sets the record right where it belongs, because this is a rather catchy uptempo melodic heavy rocker, with a pure late 80s vibrato, close to Jesse Strange, Jailhouse, Hurricane and such bands). Next track Blood Money Blues is a little more straight forward, less melodic tune,  pure sleazy hardrock actually a la Cats In Boots and even Faster Pussycat!). Sinking Ship follows that style, but with The Fall, the band slows things down and add a bluesy touch, while the midtempo Made of Stone warms things up for a great uptempo rocking tune called Destination Somewhere, which is an awesome catchy song with a SUPERB CATCHY CHORUS IN THE BEST LATE 80S SUNSET STRIP STYLE!). More straight-forward rougher uptempo hardrockers follow in the shape of Up In Smoke and Circus. The Way It's Always Been is pretty good groovy hardrock, once again late 80s, like Beau Nasty meets Every Mother’s Nightmare. Closing track Beaten Dog is the absolute highlight here, as this is a superb melodic semi-rockballad, basically a very strong tune, with great vocalwork and a relaxing laid-back melodic chorus, so definitely one of the highlights on the album! Now this ia a pretty damn good, although nothing new is happening, but the energy and spirit of how high class hardrock should sound like is present from start to finish! More at: http://www.massiveoz.com

 

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)

 

Keiko Matsui 'Soul quest CD + Live in Tokyo DVD' (Shanachie Records/USA Import)

 

The Japanese pianist/keyboardist and composer Keiko Matsui has been in the music business for over 4 decades now and released during that time about 20 CDs. Soul quest is her latest CD release and her brand new release is a DVD recorded in Tokyo, both released on the American label Shanachie Records. She is settled in Los Angeles, where she also records and plays with mostly American musicians, including saxophonist Paul Taylor, drummer Narada Michael Walden, guitarist Chuck Loeb and many others. Due to the fact that Keiko is huge in Japan, selling millions of records, she has also played at many special events. When United States President George W. Bush visited Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's residence on February 18, 2002, Keiko Matsui was invited to the reception and met both men and members of their administrations. The music she plays is called smooth jazz, which is a subgenre of jazz music, originating throughout the 1970s in the USA and further developed in the 1980s. Some might call it smooth background music, which is completely different than the experimental jazz music of Hiromi, another Japanese female piano/keyboardplayer. Where Hiromi acts like a wild woman on stage, Keiko is making you feel relaxed with her smooth sounds. Comparisons to Lee Ritenour, Bob James, Fourplay, Al Jarreau, Kenny G, Brecker Brothers, Incognito, Grover Washington Jr. and countless others are possible when listening and watching Keiko and her band. The sound is relaxed, laid-back, yet with a slight funky rhythm section and also a mixture of melodic sax and guitar solos here and there, although of course Keiko takes the lead in each and every song. She plays the piano and keyboard very easily and focuses on beautiful spring-like melodies, while the instrumental music itself also shows influences from westcoast, pop and progressive rock sometimes. This combined makes Keiko Matsui an enjoyable musician to listen to on her excellent latest CD Soul quest and to watch on the DVD Live in Tokyo. She makes smooth jazz interesting for any music lover, no matter if you’re a fan of jazz, westcoast, pop, jazz, progressive rock or aor, everyone will agree that this is high quality music. Check out all on this wonderful musician at: www.keikomatsui.com

 

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)

 

Courtney Yasminee 'Red letter day' (Independent/Hemifran)

 

Out of Minnesota, USA comes the currently NYC based American singer/songwriter Courtney Yasmineh, who already released 4 albums independently. Now she presents us her 5th release Red letter day, which musically falls somewhere between Fiona Apple, Alanis Morissette, Sass Jordan and Joanne Shaw Taylor. Besides a few others, she works on this new record again with Charley Drayton (Grammy nominated producer for Fionna Apple and drummer for the Xpensive Winos) and Minneapolis producer/engineer Rob Genadek (Third Eye Girl, Peter Himmelman, and countless others), A little bluesy and groovy here and there, it rocks from time to time quite a lot, while alternative pop/rock meets indie pop is the name of the game here most of the time, although she is not shy to add some soul and melodic parts as well in her sound. The bluesy guitar riffs and solos are a nice addition to her strong vocals and if we look at the highlights, we need to mention Cleaning Crew (melodic, with a lot of soul), Friend of Mine (very 1990s ish rock a la Fiona Apple and Alanis Morissette) and Hang on for the Ride. Check it out for yourself at: http://www.courtneyyasmineh.com 

 

(Points: 8.4 out of 10)

 

Hypnos 'Cold winds (Crusher Records/Gordeon Music)

 

Cold winds is the 2nd album of the Swedish band Hypnos, whom released their debut back in 2014. Musically speaking we are heading into the classic late 70s/early 80s hardrock style, with clear influences from the N.W.O.B.H.M. movement. It is easy to mention Judas Priest, Thin Lizzy and Deep Purple as influences, while the sound is not far removed from all those upcoming new bands in this style, such as Enforcer, Vanderbuyst, Alpha Tiger, Skull Fist, Striker, Cauldron, High Spirit, White Wizzard, Steelwing, etc. etc. (and also old bands like Angel Witch). It all went very quickly for this Gothenburg based band and now within 2 years already a 2nd album is released. Although not as good as some of the mentioned similar acts, Hypnos know how to write a good catchy uptempo NWOBHM sounding tune. The band is formed around Philip Lindgren – vocals, Oskar Karlsson – guitar, Fredrik Bäckström – guitar, Anton Frick Kallmin – bass and Lasse Ekelöf – drums. Although the album isn’t out yet, you can already check out a great video of the first single I’m on the Run from the upcoming album release in April 2016. It captures the band’s strong sound in a nutshell, so make sure to watch this clip. The album follows from start to finish the style of this tune, so you know what to expect then. Highly recommended to fans of the classic NWOBHM style! Check out more at: www.facebook.com/hypnosboogie/ and http://www.crusherrecords.com

 

(Points: 8.1 out of 10)

 

Jake Paul Band 'Urbanize it' (Anamoly Records/USA Import)

 

Out of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA comes Jake Paul, a talented singer/songwriter who sent me his new EP Urbanize it. This EP follows 2011 full-length debut CD The Jailbreak, which included the song Hollow, a song about Jake’s mother, whose 1988 murder at the age of 33 remains unsolved more than 25 years later. In between he released another EP titled the Providence in 2013. And now there is Urbanize it. Musically speaking Jake Paul is close to pure Reggae sometimes, yet from a singer/songwriter point of view and Jack Johnson of even John Mayer might therefore be a good comparison. 7 tracks are included and opener Indestructible is one of the best songs here, being a good semi melodic poprocker with a Reggae rhythm. Reap somehow reminds me of Sting, although vocally quite different and closing track Inhale is pure Reggae. Grateful Dead is one of the band’s major influences and you can trace some of that as well on this record. For more info you can check out his site at: http://www.jakepaul.org

 

(Points: 7.2 out of 10)

 

Et Tu Bruce 'Et Tu Bruce' (ETB Music/UK Import)

 

Founded in 2010, the UK based band Et Tu Bruce has already made a name in the music business with their music, which is described as West London meets West Coast and somehow I think that description fully covers their sound, which indeed has a bit of British Rock and American melodic Westcoast combined. Et Tu Bruce consists of frontman Jamie White, fellow singer-guitarist-songwriter Matthew O’Toole and brothers Craig and Darryn Bruce, who play drums and bass respectively. The band is about to release their 2nd album, which seems to be self titled. Influences clearly come from Beatles, the Beach Boys, the Kinks, the Rolling Stones, ELO and Jellyfish and if we go through the tracklisting, it all starts with The light, a catchy uptempo late 70s melodic poprocker, sounding very strong with good harmonies, a little like The Jam, but then more powerpop orientated instead of punkpop, and also with great lead vocals and although nothing new is happening here, it is done very well and sets the mood in the right direction for the rest of the album. Followed by Make up my mind (melodic powerpop a la Fotomaker/Raspberries/Trickster, so a little calmer), I know Helena (calmer pop tune, with Beach Boys influences), Reptlles (great uptempo melodic rocker a la Angel somehow), Hey blue (melodic powerpop a la Fotomaker/Raspberries again, nostalgic feeling, also a bit America ish), He shakes his head (calmer pop tune with Beach Boys influences), Laska (catchy uptempo late 70s melodic poprocker, strong with good harmonies, like The Jam and even The Undertones), Token (melodic powerpop with once again a sound somewhere between Fotomaker and America), The back of me (semi rocker with harmonyvocals out of the old school book, very late 60s meets 70s psychedelic rock, even a bit sounding like The Beatles and a tiny bit Stone Roses), How do you ever (slow tune, ok…), Naivety and knowledge (semi psychedelic rocker, Stone Roses ish, with strong vocalwork and a catchy chorus a la Stereophonics) and closing track The flood (starts as a calmer acoustic piece, indie pop ish, but develops into nostalgic rocking ballad, even reminding me of Alice Cooper’s How you gonna see me!!!!), the album has a nice variety of styles. All together they blend British Powerpop with American Westcoast, like The Jam meets America and it definitely sounds great! There is some great vocalwork and lovely melodies to be heard throughout the album and I can imagine that fans of Wilco, The Posies, Crowded House, Calexico and such will also love this band. Check it out for yourself at: http://ettubruce.bandcamp.com/

 

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)

 

Disciples Of Babylon 'Welcome to Babylon' (Symbiotic Records/USA Import)

 

Sadly only 3 songs can be found on this mini-CD Welcome to Babylon from the Hollywood based band Disciples Of Babylon. Without a doubt, this is a sensational new band formed around Eric Knight | Lead Vox & Rhythm Guitar, Ramon Blanco | Lead Guitar, Gui Bodi | Bass Guitar & Backing Vox and Chris Toeller | Drums. The EP was released in September 2015, produced by Grammy-nominated producer Andres Torres as well as mastered by Grammy-nominated sound engineer Joe LaPorta, most famous for his work with Foo Fighters, Killers and Vampire Weekend and it all took place at the legendary Sterling Sound Studio in New York. Rest assured that the sound is huge for an independent release. Opener Karma shows right from the start that huge sound, with strong vocals and basically being a big midtempo groovy hardrock tune with biting melodies and killer riffs, a bit like Wolfmother meets Black Stone Cherry, with a catchy hook/chorus, so a definite sensational song! Next up is Arrived, which features beautiful vocals and is a real superb semi-rockballad, sounding very melodic and typical American, even AOR ish, not unlike Harem Scarem!!!!!!!! The song starts calm, but then halfway it is anthemic all the way !!!!!! Closing track The great pretend is a rather catchy uptempo big time anthem melodic rocker and once again it reminds me of Harem Scarem!!! This band could easily become huge, because all the ingredients are there. Disciples Of Babylon is definitely a superb band with a fantastic sound, great musicianship and superb vocalwork can be heard in their package of sensational songs, which are at the moment just 3, but hopefully in the future we will be surprised by a full-length release. Meanwhile, check them out at: http://www.disciplesofbabylon.com

 

(Points: 8.8 out of 10)

 

Gypsy Soul 'True' (Off The Beaten Track Records/USA Import)

 

True is already the 13th CD of Gypsy Soul, a duo from Oregon, USA. Cilette Swann from Canada and British-born Roman Morykit first met in Edinburgh, Scotland and from that magical moment on they never looked back. After a few months of writing and recording, the pair's professional relationship became romantic and soon the two were married and Gypsy Soul was born. Up to now they have since 1996 sold 1.5 million downloads internationally and 140,000 CDs in the USA alone. They've had their songs licensed in numerous TV shows and feature films and now their new album True is out, of which over half the songs were recorded at Grammy Award winning engineer, Dennis Dragon's studio in Williams, Oregon, while the rest of the songs were recorded, mixed and mastered at their own studio. Musically it is a nice mixture of different styles, a little folk, blues and singer/songwriter pop/rock are mixed into a nice melodic friendly sound. Cilette has a great voice and if we look at the strongest songs on this new album we need to add Your Kind (great calmer semi ballad, a bit rocking, strong female vocals), Gotta Be Real (good midtempo bluesy rocker, with surprising trumpet halfway, featuring a very strong melodic chorus), Hallelujah (Leonard Cohen cover, nicely done, original version actually) and Mirabelle (definitely one of the best songs, with a swamp rock influence, even a bit Heart ish, great rocker, with Cilette’s best vocals on the album). A lot of the other songs are acoustic based, while the CD closes nicely with the Christian hymn Amazing grace. If you’re starting to become interested, then go to: http://www.soundcloud.com/gsband and http://www.gypsysoul.com

 

(Points: 8.1 out of 10)

 

Rhett May 'Fast cars and sitars' (Independent/Australia Import)

 

Out of Australia comes singer/songwriter Rhett May, who sent me his 2 albums Fast cars and sitars and Insatiable. He is already a veteran in the music business, played in a band called Lucifer back in the 1970s, supporting the mighty Queen. Now on his own, he is musically clearly influenced by 70s melodic rock and 70s singer/songwriter, combining both genres, clearly influenced by Queen, John Lennon, David Bowie and George Harrison. The guitarwork is definitely the strongest feature on the 2 albums, sounding very strong and belting out some beautiful melodies, while vocally Rhett has a voice that might be compared to JJ Cale for example, so not always picture perfect. The songs are nice to listen to and definitely recall an almost 70s Steely Dan ish pop/rock sound, breezy and smooth, with strong melodic guitarwork (for example the song Cute Calcutta boy that has an almost Rudolf Schenker kinda melody), with also here and there a slight edge and as already mentioned, JJ Cale similarities can be made as well. Grim Reaper even has some Pomprock/AOR influences, reminding me a bit of Stingray, Morning Star and such, so I guess you can say that there's enough variety going on here. If you're starting to become interested, then go to: http://www.rhettmay.com

 

(Points: 7.7 out of 10)

 

Valley Of Kings 'Midnight live' (Kusha Deep Music/UK Import)

 

The British band Valley of Kings is formed around frontman, singer/songwriter and producer Dar Ra (worked with Tears For Fears and Frankie Goes To Hollywood, runs his own label and scored massive dance music hits) and the brothers Aiden and Rory Purdey. They released an EP, which does not have a massive sound, but is more a sneak preview of things to come in the future, which is a full-length album that will be produced by Neil Costello (Stevie Wonder, Paul McCartney). Although the sound quality on this mini album is not that good, you can hear that Valley of Kings is a band to watch out for in the future. They are a retro sounding rockband with some great soulful vocals (a la Jake Isaac) and a funky rocksound like Jimi Hendrix meets Lenny Kravitz meets Vintage Trouble meets Living Colour, while the guitarwork is also quite stunning, just listen to the lovely uptempo rocker Rock steady. A band with a future and I am very much looking forward to their official first album that could become a breakthrough record. Check them out meanwhile at: http://www.valleyofkings.net/

 

(Points: 7.9 out of 10)

CLICK HERE FOR MORE NEW REVIEWS
GO TO THE REVIEWSINDEXPAGE
BACK TO HOMEPAGE