UPDATED December 1st, 2023


Now this is a huge surprise, because I received a wonderful vinyl edition of the new album of the legendary band DOG EAT DOG. 30 years ago I was (and still am) a huge fan of the American Hardrock band WARRANT, and they had a new album out entitled Dog Eat Dog in 1993. When it came out, at the same time a band called DOG EAT DOG released an album which had the title Warrant. You can imagine that this was quite confusing and back then I was not interest in the band DOG EAT DOG, because I thought they were Hardcore in it’s most extreme direction. Little did I know that DOG EAT DOG was actually quite melodic, because what followed during the 90s and 00s in the Hardcore/Metal world was far more extreme. Anyway, now after all these years I receive a beautiful looking vinyl release of their 5th album Free Radicals, which is the follow-up of their previous album Walk With Me that was released all the way back in 2006.

Anyway, the band currently consists of John Connor – vocals, Dave Neabore – bass, backing vocals, Brandon Finley – drums and Roger Haemmerli – guitars, and originally they were formed by ex-MUCKY PUP members back in the late 1980s and the New Jersey based band became known as a crossover band that melted Metal, Hardcore, Ska and Rap in a same way we saw at the time being done by bands like RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS, SUICIDAL TENDENCIES, URBAN DANCE SQUAD, etc. They also had a sax player in their line-up, but on this new album it’s the 4 of them without the sax, and also musically it’s a bit more melodic and polished, especially during the rather first couple of catchy tunes like Lit Up and Kin. The 90s LIMP BIZKIT similarities and also references to the earlier rougher DOG EAT DOG uptempo hardcore sound (when they sounded like BIOHAZARD) can also be heard here and there (such as Energy Rock, which is still a pretty good song by the way), but overall I think this album is more going into a LIVING COLOR meets EXTREME style (just listen to Mean Str featuring RUDEBOY of URBAN DANCE SQUAD) and actually they sound really good. I understand that if you’re a fan of the fast hardcore-rap style of their early years you might be disappointed, but give these guys a chance, because they deliver a great new album here that is too good to be left alone.

It’s also a very (and I mean VERY!) diverse album, because besides the 2 mentioned styles like funky melodic heavy rock and hardcore rap, there is even space on side B for a calmer lo-fi kinda ballad (Bar Down), a radio rap-rock hit (Man’s Best Friend) and quite a lovely soulful R&B piece (Zamboni), so therefore this vinyl album is definitely recommended if you like your music to go into a lot of different directions. The artwork of this gatefold record is also lovely and reminds me of those early 90s album covers when such cartoon drawings were very popular (remember UGLY KID JOE). Check out all info on this band and their whereabouts at:

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)


About 15 years ago the Swiss band GOTTHARD was one of the absolute finest Hardrock bands on the planet. I saw them multiple times at various places and they always gave away a true Hardrock show like nobody else, which was mainly thanks to their amazing charismatic singer STEVE LEE. Sadly Steve died in a motorcycle accident on 5 October 2010, and that’s when the book of GOTTHARD suddenly closed for yours truly. However, GOTTHARD continued with a new lead singer and also released new studio albums, and besides that GOTTHARD guitarist LEO LEONI started a sorta tribute side project dedicated to Steve. This project band became known as CORELEONI, which in the early years introduced RONNIE ROMERO to the world as a sensational new lead singer, and eventually he went on doing a lot of other things to become a superstar in his own right (and FRONTIERS RECORDS’ project house singer), yet CORELEONI also continued with a new singer called EUGENT BUSHPEPA, and besides releasing and doing live gigs of the early GOTTHARD material, they are now also recording newly written tunes in the GOTTHARD style. This lovely looking blood vinyl edition of a live record that was originally performed and recorded in March 2022 is a nice introduction to their new singer, who also comes close to Steve’s signature vocal style. It’s a nice compilation of old GOTTHARD classics like Downtown, Standing In The Light, Mountain Mama, Angel, Firedance and such, but also some great new CORELEONI tunes like Let Life Begin Tonight and Purple Dynamite that both remind of the early GOTTHARD sound. It’s impossible to replace Steve, because he was one of the greatest frontmen ever in Hardrock history, but nevertheless CORELEONI does nail it on this live vinyl album release to put some of the old GOTTHARD signature sound into your home! I was not too familiar with CORELEONI, but it’s definitely a band to check out! More info at:

(Points: 8.1 out of 10)


Out of London, UK comes the sensational new band THE HEAT INC. They are formed around singer Jon Dodd, guitarist Marco Simoncelli and the rhythm section of Nicholas Rigot and Maurizio Vitale, and Asleep in the Ejector Seat is their official first full-length album. Without a doubt, these guys have delivered a champions league album here, because it easily beats all the other rock albums I have heard in 2023! There is a lot of competition and countless bands out there doing a sorta similar rockstyle, but THE HEAT INC. are doing it just a little better, which is thanks to catchy songs, a rich tough rocking sound and a charismatic singer with a voice that immediately makes clear THE HEAT INC. has got something special. I am really excited about this band and if they can cut it live as well, then we are looking at a band that might become one of the big rockbands in the future to come.

The album opens with a dark tough uptempo rocker titled Souvenir, which sounds quite melodic as well, but also a little gothic/post-punk ish here and there, kinda like a mix between THE CULT, BILLY IDOL, THE ALARM and GUN. Following is even better and is quite sensational if you ask me, as this is uptempo melodic post-punkrock at it’s very best, with even memories of THE DAMNED, yet in a modern jacket. These guys sound like the next big thing if you ask me, as the lead vocals of Jon are superb (like a mix between BILLY IDOL, JIM MORRISON and MICHAEL HUTCHENCE, yet with an own identity), the melodies are catchy and their overall tight tough sound fits somewhere between classic punk, post-punk and melodic hardrock. Thankfully the rest of the album keeps the high level of the first 2 songs, with as other highlights uptempo pieces like Little Knuckle Charlie, ’98 (SENSATIONAL!!!, an instant crowd pleaser and radio winner! THE KILLERS eat your heart out!), Ms. Willie Mae and the very melodic Get Wild. The band also draws some inspiration from dark heavy blues rock in a song like This Thing Called Love (ROYAL BLOOD meets RIVAL SONS) and raw dirty mean Garage Rock and Roll can be heard at it’s very best during Akasaka Murder Squad, so there is enough diversity to keep everyone entertained, although they are at their very best during those killer monster uptempo melodic post-punk/heavy rockers that are combined making up the major part of this sensational full-length debut CD of THE HEAT INC.

I am safe to say that this band has got all the potential ingredients that are needed to become a huge band in the future! This record will belong to the best rock albums of 2023 and as aforementioned if they can do this live as well on this studio album, then we need to keep our eyes wide open for THE HEAT INC! Go check them out at:

(Points: 8.9 out of 10)


It’s amazing that there are still so many amazing local classic rock bands in the USA (and Canada) that are only really known in their own area, because when the opening song Turn It On from the live CD of the Florida based BIG ENGINE blows through the speakers, it is clear that we are dealing here with a band that has a superb huge true classic rocksound that should gain them arena size audiences. BIG ENGINE comes out of Jacksonville, Florida, USA, and they have been around for a while, about 30+ years, and in that period they released quite a lot of studio albums, which I sadly haven’t heard so far. This new Live CD of the band shows they are true rockers live on stage and if you hear a song like I’m Ready Let’s Go, it has a sorta American Y&T ish heavy rocksound. It’s almost of the same high level, which is thanks to the superb vocalwork of lead singer/guitarist TONY MIKUS. He is a real shouter in the old school style (DEE SNIDER meets KEVIN DUBROW), and also some of the songs have that good old QUIET RIOT / KEEL / WASP / VAN HALEN kinda 80s Glam/Hair/Party Metal touch, such as can be heard during Make Your Move, Juggernaut (Built For Speed) and Party Like A Rock Star. The other members in the band are drummer Charlie Ost, bassist Mitchell Prevento, guitarist/trumpet player Anthony Mikus Jr. (Tony’s son), guitarist Ryan Williams, keyboardplayer/saxophone player Emily Mikus (Tony’s daughter) and guitarist Jerry Bacmeister, and from start to finish this is a fantastic live CD that captures this strong band really well. There’s also the Southern Rock touch of course, because after all they hail from Jacksonville, Florida! Without a doubt, a band to check out if you like real American Hardrock and Roll. I hope I can also hear and review their earlier studio albums! Meanwhile, more info at:  

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)


Without a doubt, LAURENCE JONES from Liverpool, UK is one of the fastest rising stars in the world of heavy blues rock. JOE BONAMASSA and KENNY WAYNE SHEPHARD are 2 of the biggest names around nowadays from the younger generation since the turn of the decade, but Laurence is definitely hot on the heels of them. Laurence is a gifted guitarist who lets the guitar sing, but he can also sing himself, and that combination is striking gold, and when you also deliver a lot of great self-written material that is open to other styles besides Blues, so mixing it up with heavy rock, melodic rock and hardrock here and there, then you have an absolute winner on your hands! His previous album Destination Unknown from 2022 was one of the best albums of the year, and now there is already a new album entitled Bad Luck & The Blues, which besides Laurence also features bassist Jack Alexander Timmis and drummer Ash Sheehan, but it’s of course Laurence who is the mega star here on such superb rockers like I’m Gone, Lonely Road, Take Control and Woman. Perhaps a little more heavy blues rock orientated than the previous record that had a few pure melodic rockers, this is definitely another highlight in his career. Without a doubt, this album is an absolute must-have for anyone into heavy blues rock with strong melodies, biting guitarwork and excellent vocalwork. I will catch him live soon here around the corner, and all I can say is that it’s going to be a sensational show! More info at:

(Points: 8.9 out of 10)


It’s pretty amazing to learn that British singer/songwriter EMMA WILSON’s vocal talent has just recently been discovered, because she sounds really impressive. Emma is an amazing singer with such a pleasant voice, and her music is a mix of Blues, old school Soul and a little Rock. In 2022 she won several British Blues Awards after releasing her debut album Wish Her Well, and now she returns with a Stax/Motown meets Blues kinda record that was recorded in Memphis with some well-known names from the Soul/Blues industry, such as DON BRYANT, CHARLES HODGES and musicians whom played with THE BO KEYS, GREG ALLMAN BAND, BOOKER T & THE MGs and CYNDY LAUPER. Highlights on this new album are A Small Word, Watching You Leave, What Kind Of Love, the TERRY REID co-written I’ll See You In The Morning and the funky Drug (slightly AMY WINEHOUSEish), but any song on this CD sounds lovely, with a healthy mix of soulful vocals, bluesy riffs and well-thought melodies. Among the 9 included songs are a couple of blues traditional/covers, but I have to say that the self/co-written songs by Emma show her talent even more, because those are really wonderful song. Check out this talented singer/songwriter at:   

(Points: 8.4 out of 10)


From out of nowhere comes a new sensational Dutch band called MORGENDUST. They were formed in 2018, released some singles and an EP before corona hit the world big time and they had to slow down, but meanwhile they worked on their same titled debut album that has now seen the light of day. I have to say that this album really impressed me due to the incredible tight musicianship and superb melodies that can be found all over the place. The band’s line up consists of Marco de Haan (lead vocals, guitars, drums), Ron van Kruistum (guitars & backing vocals), Iwan Blokzijl (keyboards & backing vocals), Dario Pozderski (bass & backing vocals) and Patrick Pozderski (drums). 13 songs are included in total on this professional sounding first CD of the Zwolle based band.

Opener No Clear View is a superb midtempo neo-progressive rocker with a certain ARENA meets FOR ABSENT FRIENDS kinda approach. The lead vocals of Marco are very strong and breathe a sorta PETER GABRIEL feeling. Next track 1982 is an uptempo melodic symphonic rocker with a slight new wave touch, very 80s in the soaring guitar department, while the chorus has a beautiful memorable melodic hook that will definitely appeal to fans of both the classic neo-prog bands of the past (PALLAS, ARENA, FAF, IT BITES), but also if you like for example THE WAR ON DRUGS or even TEARS FOR FEARS. Modern Daydream follows and this has an AOR touch, while the guitarwork has again that classic new wave/post-punk feeling, very 80s for sure. These guys sound really sensational, because everything is crystal clear; the vocals, the guitars, the songs… it’s all picture perfect and for a newcomer MORGENDUST delivers one of the finest Dutch albums of 2023! The CD continues with the midtempo semi-ballad Wouldn’t It Hurt You, a song with an 80s U2 guitar twangle and a fantastic melodic AORish chorus that almost makes me remember of JOURNEY. The Losing End brings the band into a groovy rocking direction, while Still Not Close is another beautiful melodic midtempo pop/rock piece with a strong chorus, and overall reminding me again of the FOR ABSENT FRIENDS classic album The Big Room if anyone remembers that record! There’s likewise also some MARILLION references here, especially their late 80s/early 90s period. Anyway, the album continues with Realtime, a calmer semi-ballad with a PETER GABRIEL meets MARILLION vibe.The midtempo rocker We Set Sail follows with it’s big drumsound (SIMPLE MINDS ish) and a strong chorus once again. Following song The Years is a short calmer song, while the next track Red Handed is a very strong catchy uptempo melodic poprocker with once again a memorable chorus. Racing The Clouds is a modern uptempo poprocker with a fresh approach in a style that should even appeal to fans of other recent Dutch bands like GO BACK TO THE ZOO, THE VICES and such. These Shadows is back to the classic Neo-Progsounds of ARENA and PALLAS, while finally closing track A Way Out is a calmer slightly experimental post-prog piece that has modern MARILLION/RADIOHEAD/PORCUPINE TREE similarities.

Concluded, MORGENDUST melts a lot of 80s styles, new wave, post-punk, sympho, neo-prog and aor/pop/rock, yet with a fresh modern feeling, so I can imagine their catchy songs will appeal to a lot of people out there. I truly hope to catch them live someday soon, because they are on top of my list of best new Dutch bands, Check them out for yourself at:  

(Points: 8.9 out of 10)


The band from outer space HENGE completely took me by surprise during their performance at the Metropolis Festival in Rotterdam back in 2022, and after hearing and reviewing their previous album ExoKosm, the band from Manchester, UK now returns with their 3rd full-length record entitled Alpha Test 4. I received it as a beautiful picture perfect looking and sounding vinyl edition, and right from the start until the end this is space music (whatever that might be!) at it’s very best. The band consists of  Zpor, Goo, Grok and Nom, and they take influences from everywhere and HENGE is actually impossible to describe, although you can definitely hear that their synth based sound is taking the best of classic 70s kraut, symphonic/progressive rock, 80s acid and 90s techno. It’s like TANGERINE DREAM, HAWKWIND and MIKE OLDFIELD got in a wrestling match with late 80s/early 90s acid/techno DJ’s, but managed to keep performing in a traditional band line-up, yet somewhere along the way ended up in a sci-fi movie picture. The result is live on stage entertainment of the highest degree, but also when just listening to this new album, you will be entertained from start to finish.

The first 2 songs Get A Wriggle On and Self Repair Protocol start very quirky with a sorta early 80s new wave/alien sound that does remind of THE BUGGLES meets STYX’s Mr. Roboto, yet more experimental and wicked, but then again also extremely catchy, with a main focus on robotic alien vocals and altari/80s video game keys and synths. The album continues with all kinds of weird madness sounds, yet it all still is quite catchy. It’s actually impossible to compare and once you have seen these guys live you will be stunned and HENGE will take you on their incredible journey into a land or galaxy far far away…

Other highlights can especially be found on side-B of this beautiful vinyl album, which are the superb synth dominated (with also a cool guitar riff) Altered State, the hypnotical dreampop female vocal driven First Encounter, the progrocking Asteroid (sounds like if KING CRIMSON would end up in a fight with ZAPPA in the 21st century!) and the 80s acid techno influenced titletrack Alpha Test 4 that is a sorta kraut techno and even funky synthwave piece that also has a proggy touch in an outer space setting.

This album once again goes in a lot of different directions just like their previous album, so it is much more than just space rock, and it is definitely one of the absolute highlights in instrumental music of 2023, although here and there some vocals do appear (and they are really good as well!), but it’s mostly focused on synths and keys with a biting rhythm section giving it a funky danceable touch and a subtle soaring guitar that completes the full rich sound of HENGE. The sound should appeal to so many people, and as aforementioned live on stage these guys absolutely deliver, despite they look like aliens in a fight with LORDI and STAR WARS action figures. It may look weird at first sight, but this is highly professional and definitely a band to go and see when they’re in town! Check them out at:

(Points: 8.8 out of 10)


Just like every other release on the quality label MANIKIN RECORDS, also this CD of BROEKHUIS, KELLER & SCHONWALDERS from 2019 is filled with high quality calm instrumental synthesizer driven kraut/prog/new age music that combines the best of it’s influences from the past (TANGERINE DREAM, KLAUS SCHULZE, MIKE OLDFIELD, ALAN PARSONS, JEAN-MICHEL JARRE) with a modern touch. Purple consists of 5 individual chapters that take up 64 minutes of playing time. All tracks are composed, arranged and performed by BAS BROEKHUIS, DETLEF KELLER and MARIO SCHONWALDER. The music is a journey through synth landscapes that take you into another world and would be perfect for a sci-fi movie as background music. More info at:

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)


Originally released on MANIKIN RECORDS back in 2014, the included music on the CD Analog Overdose 5 by FANGER & SCHONWALDER feat. LUTZ GRAF-ULBRICH is timeless, because it has a lovely exciting instrumental sound that fits somewhere between old school kraut and berlin school music of the 70s, modern post-prog (due to the subtle guitar) and synthwave, with even a hidden 70s jazz-fusion funky touch here and there. It sounds a bit more uplifting and adventurous than some of the other releases, and it is actually quite diverse, so it should appeal to a lot of people out there. It concerns here a CD that is entirely composed and performed by THOMAS FANGER, LUTZ GRAF-ULBRICH and MARIO SCHONWALDER. They are doing a great job here to keep every single song of the 9 included tracks interesting from start to finish. The playing time of 77 minutes keeps you entertained from start to finish, and there is a lot to discover here. The album takes you on a road trip through Germany, and I can easily say that this is an incredible highly professional album that should be in the hands of every dedicated fan of instrumental kraut/Berlin school/synthwave/psot-prog fan out there, because these 4 gifted musicians deliver top-notch material that combines influences from a lot of genres by using synths and a guitar. Make sure to check out this release from 2014, because it still sounds fresh and up-to-date. More info at:

(Points: 8.6 out of 10)


MARIO SCHONWALDER is a German electronic musician and producer, and he is also the founder and owner of MANIKIN RECORDS. In the past 30 years he recorded and composed a lot of music in the old Berlin school/Electronic Krautrock music direction, sometimes solo, but usually in projects and he participates on most of the releases on his own label. These are all high quality releases, and one of them is KONTROLL-RAUM, which he founded with BAS BROEKHUIS and FRANK ROTHE in 2020 as a sorta digital project because it was all recorded online during the covid lockdown. It’s another amazing journey spread over 7 long tracks that take up 73 minutes of your time, but it surely feels like this adventure goes on and on, as it really takes you on a trip that melts the classic electronic sounds of the 70s (KLAUS SCHULZE, TANGERINE DREAM, JEAN-MICHEL JARRE) with the modern age of synthwave. Especially during the superb CG 05-05 it results in a symphonic synth dream come true for all the fans of synthesized electronic music. Definitely a CD to own if you’re a fan of all those lovely synth sounds. More info at:

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)


Released back in 2021, the project FILTER-KAFFEE is formed around MANIKIN RECORDS label owner MARIO SCHONWALDER and FRANKE ROTHE, whom both are synthesizing their way into a ‘stones’ adventure, because that is the theme around the 6th release in this CD series as FILTER-KAFFEE. The music is as close to classic Synth draven kraut/electronic music as you can get, with sometimes really cool heavy synth melodies. Fans of TANGERINE DREAM and KLAUS SCHULZE will absolutely love this CD. A lovely album that brings once again the best you can get on electronic synth music. More info at:

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)


I am absolutely a sucker for instrumental synth dominated music, and especially in the kraut and prog scene the past 50 years have seen many great releases. Berlin based musician MARIO SCHONWALDER sent me another batch of releases on his label MANIKIN RECORDS, and also this one called The Vlagtwedde Tapes he recorded with BAS BROEKHUIS and DETLEF KELLER is a trip through the wonderful worlds of classic instrumental “Berlin School” synth based krautrock like it was done by acts such as TANGERINE DREAM and KLAUS SCHULZE, VANGELIS, KITARO, ALAN PARSONS PROJECT, JAN HAMMER, BLADE RUNNER, JEAN-MICHEL JARRE etc. etc. 5 long songs are included here, and from start to finish this is one of those albums you should play loud in your room to feel the energy these talented 3 musicians felt when recording such lovely synth sounds in 2021. It’s synth kraut prog music at it’s very best (with an 80s new age touch as well), especially during Vlagtwedde Tape 2 and Raindrops On The Roof, but every moment on this high quality CD is a joy to listen to if you like the synths upfront. Check it out for yourself at:

(Points: 8.7 out of 10)


MANIKIN RECORDS is the label of Berlin based musician MARIO SCHONWALDER, and Third Decade was released in 2022. It is a very nice overview of 10 acts on his label, each with 1 song, and some of them were released, while others are made available on this compilation CD. The label has been around for over 30 years now, and sadly one of its label’s signed main musician/composer, THOMAS FANGER, he sadly died in 2022, making this CD a sorta tribute to him, because he is featured on several songs. The CD contains tracks by Broekhuis, Keller & Schönwälder, Filter-Kaffee, Pyramid Peak, Mario Schönwälder, Thomas Fanger, Menzman, Kontroll-Raum, Broekhuis, Kelller & Schönwälder feat Raughi Ebert & Thomas Kagermann and Fanger & Schönwälder feat. Lutz Graf-Ulbrich. It’s definitely a great trip through the whereabouts of this fascinating label that is focused on synth based music that nevertheless is very diverse, because it goes from New Age, classic Kraut/Symphonic to Progrock and even modern New Age. This compilation CD gives you a good idea of the label, and many of the 10 songs are a highlight here if you like for exciting sci-fi orientated instrumental synthesizer dominated music. More info at:

(Points: 8.4 out of 10)


Here we have another winner on the MANIKIN RECORDS label, because this 2021 release of the project FANGER & SCHONWALDER FEAT. LUTZ GRAF-ULBRICH has got all the ingredients needed to keep up the interest from start to finish when listening. 77 minutes of enjoyable instrumental music that captures a lot of influences, such as progrock, old school krautrock/Berlin, new wave, new age, synthwave and even post-progrock here and there. It has a healthy mix of synths, with every now and then a post-prog guitar to give the sound a modern touch, because after all when the synths dominate it’s 70s/80s all the way. Definitely a great challenging album that should appeal to a lot of people out there. More info at:

(Points: 8.6 out of 10)


The BROEKHUIS, KELLER & SCHONWALDER project on MANIKIN RECORDS released several more CDs, and this Repelen Revisited was originally released in 2018. It starts quite relaxed with a Spanish guitar interlude and the music goes into a mostly calmer synth direction during the 70 minutes that follow. 7 tracks are included in total and the instrumental music here is more or less new age orientated, so a little less adventurous than the usual releases on MANIKIN RECORDS. Nevertheless, it’s a very nice relaxing albums that sounds best as background music. Check for yourself at:   

(Points: 7.8 out of 10)


A FLYING FISH is the project of the Mexican multi-instrumentalist RAHOOLA, and despite El Pez Qu Volo Act 1 is already the 5th album under this moniker, the recordings of this new album took place between 2014 and 2022, so it is actually mostly recordings from before A FLYING FISH released albums, because their debut was released in 2019. Anyway, he got help from guest vocalists (Viin Angelini, Myrthala Bray, Luis Mora, Goran Setitus, Francia Sofia, Margil Vallejo and Laura Vargas), while Rahoola himself took care of all the instruments. The result is a theater musical based album that shows that Rahoola is a gifted musician and his guest singers are able to sing very well, yet it is all a bit too musical / Disney for yours truly. If you like such theatrical musical themed music, then you will love this quirky bunch of songs that could easily be used for a musical, which in this case would be about a flying fish! Check out for yourself at:

(Points: -)


Actually I was not familiar yet with the Bergen, Norway based band RIBOZYME, but Celestial Low is already their 8th album, and already from the very first seconds of the album it is clear this is high quality catchy melodic heavy rock. They were formed back in 1998 and their new album was produced by SPIDERGAWD mastermind PER BORTEN. The line up of RIBOZYME consists of drummer CATO OLAISEN (ex-MAJOR PARKINSON, TRUST, NATT), bassist BARD KRISTINSON (TRUST US, NATT), guitarist/vocalist KJARTAN ERICSON (VESTAMARAN) and guitarist THOMAS LONNHEIM (ex-SAGH, JACK HERREN BAND…), and 8 killer rockers can be found on this excellent new record. If you like SPIDERGAWD, FOO FIGHTERS, DANKO JONES, QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE and such, then you will love this superb similar sounding true rock and roll album that has it’s highlights during uptempo heavy rockers like Newly Defeated, Bloodworks (superb!) and Order, and the midtempo massive prog metal ish Bleacher (with it’s strong catchy super melodic THRESHOLD ish chorus!). Definitely a big recommendation to fans of any of the mentioned rockbands. Check them out at:

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)


Who would have thought the legendary Canadian band THE GUESS WHO would be still alive in 2023 with a brand-new studio album release. I have to inform you that there’s only one original member left from the line up that recorded the classic tunes in the 60s and 70s, of which of course American Woman is the most well-known song of the band. Anyway, drummer GARRY PETERSON is the last remaining member from the classic line up. The other musicians that make up THE GUESS WHO in 2023 are DEREK DE SHARP (guitars, keys, lead vocals), MICHAEL STAERTOW (guitars), LEONARD SHAW (keys, sax, flute) and drummer MICHAEL DEVIN. Derek, who is married to SASS JORDAN by the way, he is an amazing lead singer with an incredible range (DENNIS DE YOUNG style), the harmonyvocals in each song are picture-perfect, the melodies are very catchy and the soaring guitarwork is giving it that classic rock sound of the 1970s. I am really impressed by this album and hopefully it will gain them new fans.

Opener The King is a big surprise, because this is a classic 70s melodic Pomp/Progrocking tune that has a slight STYX theatrical touch and also some QUEEN similarities here and there, while it also reminds me a bit of KAYAK and KANSAS. I think you can say that if you mix up those classic 70s bombastic epic theatrical prog/pomp bands, then it might end up sounding like THE GUESS WHO. Next song Across The Line dives into THE BEATLES territory, and it’s really well done, a sorta epic semi ballad with superb vocals and 70s AOR melodies, and also SPOCK’S BEARD comes to mind here and there, yet less proggy. I am safe to say that it all sounds very impressive and sensational, but of course it’s far removed from the band’s old dirtier rocking sound. On the other hand if you don’t make that comparison, I think this CD should definitely belong in your collection if you’re a fan of old school AOR/Pomprock with a STYX/BOSTON meets THE BEATLES kinda approach. Other highlights are the superb midtempo AOR piece People Around Me (FOREIGNER ish), Spaces (pure 70s bombastic ballad like E.L.O. meets 10CC and PAUL MCCARTNEY), the 70s midtempo AOR/Melodic Rocker Free (BOSTON meets QUEEN in a THE WINGS jacket) and the huge sounding groovy classic hardrocking closing title track Plein D’Amour. From start to finish this is an extremely well-produced album with many sensational songs and it also has beautiful artwork by the way, and if it had been released in the 1970s, it might have become a millionseller. If you like the last STYX record or THE WINGS or even QUEEN, then you will surely love this record! Check out the ‘new’ THE GUESS WHO at:

(Points: 8.8 out of 10)


I happened to witness a great gig in a church of these Australian rockers called THE GROGANS recently at a festival in Rotterdam, and thanks to them I received a vinyl record they released. The band hails from Melbourne, and Find Me A Cloud is their 4th album so far. The band was formed back in 2016, and the 3 members (lead vocalist and guitarist Quin Grunden, guitarist Angus Vasic and drummer Jordan Lewis) are barely 25 years of age, but in Australia they are already moving up as headliner act. Over here in Europe they are slowly building up a reputation, and this new album is definitely one to check out if you like a good old fashioned rock and roll album. The vinyl gatefold album looks amazing, with an extensive LP size booklet included that has all kinds of pictures of the band as well as the lyrics of the 11 included songs and much more to read while listening to the album. On vinyl this album sounds of course at its best, really raw and authentic.

Opener Hey Ma'am is a catchy healthy mix of uptempo garage rock, indie and a bit of surf/rockabilly, while following Overheat is a strong midtempo melodic powerpop rocking tune with a touch of college rock/indie, like TEENAGE FANCLUB crossed with a 90s Britpop band. Things get rocking and uptempo during the fantastic punky garage rocker I Cannot Read Your Mind, which has a late 60s meets early 80s vibe, and it is definitely a catchy crowd-winning anthem! I would say that this is one of those tunes that will make people dance all over the place. Lay Back more or less continues this uptempo rocking style, and especially the big fat groovy bluesy guitar riff makes this song another highlight. Closing Side-A is Heads In The Sand, which is another very good song that has a rocking midtempo sound that could be identified as Classic Rock meets Garage Rock. Highlights on Side-B are the cool 60s Garage Rocker I Need You (THE KINKS ish), the raw tough fast uptempo rocking Nowhere To Be (which has an almost classic DEAD BOYS/THE DAMNED kinda vibe) and the catchy melodic rocking I’m Not Sure. Although Surf Rock is mentioned in their bio, I only heard it a few times, such as during THE BEACH BOYS ish Stay High, because this is mainly a rock and roll record in an old school garage/punk jacket. More info on these guys can be found at: and

(Points: 8.4 out of 10)


Boston, USA based guitarist/singer/songwriter CHUCK MELCHIN is mainly known as leader of the band/project THE BEAN PICKERS UNION, but he also has a solo project going on called THE BLUEST SKY, which now marks it’s first same titled CD release. The music is a mix of uptempo Americana and Alternative Country, sounding quite uplifting, although vocally it has a clear kinda nasal American singer/songwriter approach, like NEIL YOUNG / BOB DYLAN and such. The music is however more cheerful than those 2 legendary singer/songwriters and has it’s highlights during catchy uptempo pop/rockers like The Girl It Took The Universe, Amy Jean (very strong), I Am James and Wake Up Suzy. Besides Chuck on vocals and guitar, the rest of the line-up of musicians includes Andy Santospago and Gary Goodlow on various guitars, James Rohr and Duncan Watt on keys, Dan Beller-McKenna on pedal steel, Dave Westner plays bass and drums on several songs, Paul Gallo drums on a song and Jon Nolan (of SAY ZUZU) on guitar, and all of them deliver a strong sounding record that should especially appeal to fans of Americana and Alt Country (think RYAN ADAMS meets STEVE EARLE). Check it out for yourself at:

(Points: 7.9 out of 10)


THE BEAN PICKERS UNION is a Boston, USA based band fronted by singer/songwriter Chuck Melchin, and it features a collective of musicians from around the Cambridge / Somerville Massachusetts area. Together they create all-original Americana/Rootsy singer-songwriter pop/rock that sounds very melodic and tells us all kinds of stories. The list of participating musicians is very long, around 30 I guess, but Chuck is the main musician/singer/songwriter. 18 tracks are included in total, and thanks to the help of all these musicians, the sound is very diverse and rich in its arrangements, while the melodies during uptempo light rockers like Burning Sky, I’m So Sorry, Independence Day (with a light soul touch) and Warrior (a folky touch, and the best song of the whole album for sure!) are a joy to listen to. I believe this is a best of CD release, collecting the best songs they recorded in the past 15 years. Go check it out for yourself at:

 (Points: 8.2 out of 10)


At first sight when looking at the album cover of the new CD of the Italian band KARMAMOI I expected a full-blown heavy Progmetal release, but Strings From The Edge Of Sound is a completely different adventure. Opener Black Hole Era is a well-thought calmer progressive rocksong, yet different than the usual prog stuff, because there is a clear classical music touch, which can be heard even more during the orchestral versions of several other songs on this album, so it’s no wonder why the album is called Strings… Anyway, KARMAMOI is an Italian progressive rockband, and they already released 5 studio albums in the past. This new CD contains 5 new songs and 5 songs from their previous albums rearranged and revisited for orchestra that gives them a new powerful sound. I have to say that I am very impressed and as already mentioned, it all sounds quite different than the usual stuff. The band consists of Daniele Giovannoni: Drums , Keyboards and Backing Vocals, Valerio Sgargi: Vocal, Backing Vocals and Keyboards, Alex Massari: Guitars and Alessandro Cefalì: Bass, and the CD is a pleasure to listen to from start to finish. It’s a beautiful album that has amazing melodies thanks to the strong vocals of Valerio and the big orchestral arrangements. Definitely an album I would recommend to any music fan out there, because it should appeal to a much wider range than just the progfans out there. Just put on Tell Me for example, which is an absolutely lovely song that could easily become a huge hit! If you like PINK FLOYD, PORCUPINE TREE and MARILLION, then this KARMAMOI is definitely a huge recommendation, but actually the band has an own identity which should be treasured, so go check them out at:

 (Points: 8.5 out of 10)


Each year in the city of Rotterdam there is a festival which is unique due to the fact that you get absolutely value for your money. The LEFT OF THE DIAL FESTIVAL attracts thousands of people each year to come and watch 100+ bands from all over Europe (although mainly from the U.K.) play in all kinds of original places all over the city centre, and you will discover bands and artists that might become huge in the future. My focus was as always on several acts that I absolutely wanted to see and one of them was A.S. FANNING, who performed a wonderful crystal clear show in the church called WAALSE KERK. He has a unique voice that at first sight immediately makes you think of LEONARD COHEN and NICK CAVE, but in the end A.S. has an own identity, also musically speaking. He is a singer-songwriter from Dublin but currently residing in Berlin, and Mushroom Cloud is his 3rd solo album. The album starts dark, melancholic and bombastic with the beautiful Mushroom Cloud, yet done in a smooth laid-back relaxing style that combined with A.S.’ low octave range gives a very interesting authentic original sound that does have some comparisons to of course LEONARD COHEN. You cannot deny to feel the same kinda vibe as Leonard, but if you listen further however, you can hear that musically speaking it’s slightly different and even some alternative rocking influences can be heard during a great song like Coman, and also a touch of 70s nostalgica pop like RUFUS WAINWRIGHT on a song like Haunted, but A.S. is at his very best during the bombastic chamber pop songs like the lovely I Feel Bad and Disease. It might not be a very cheerful album, it is on the hand a beautiful dark album that suits the slightly depressing weather quite nicely, and without a doubt, this is an incredible high quality album that should definitely be in the hands of fans of LEONARD COHEN, RUFUS WAINWRIGHT, JOHN GRANT and NICK CAVE. I’ll bet he is going to breakthrough big time at some point in the near future, meanwhile check out more info at:

 (Points: 8.6 out of 10)


Actually I was not familiar with the Swedish band AGUSA before, but after listening to the new album Prima Materia they released I can honestly say that that this a fantastic band you absolutely need to check out if you can. The music takes you straight back to the classic progressive/symphonic 1970s. It is mainly instrumental based, and done in the most authentic way you can imagine. AGUSA was formed back in 2013 in the city of Malmo, and this is already their 8th album. They are a very productive band, but definitely keep the level very high as I could hear on this new CD. Their line up consists of Mikael Ödesjö / guitar, Roman Andrén / keyboards, Jenny Puertas / flute, voice, Simon Ström / bass and Nicolas Difornis / drums, percussion, voice, and right from the very first few seconds of the opening song Lust och fägring (Sommarvisan), which has a playing time of almost 15 minutes by the way, it is clear that this band is creating some amazing pure 70s improvised progressive/psychedelic sounds that never seem to stop and thanks to the use of keys, guitar and flute doing all kinds of solos and duets, this makes them sound very organic and interesting, and you will be entertained during the full 40+ minutes of the CD. There are all kinds of memories of classics 70s band like CAMEL, CARAVAN, PROCOL HARUM, KHAN, RENAISSANCE, ELOY, etc. etc. The canterbury sound is present here, but AGUSA has an own identity, and for yours truly the highlight is the exciting 10 minutes counting Ur askan that even reminds me a bit of ALTIN GUN, so with some psychedelic Arabic influences. You should definitely check out AGUSA at:

(Points: 8.7 out of 10)


Out of Portugal comes COASTWISE, a new band that makes their debut with the full-length album Hard Rock Is Back. They are clearly in a pure 80s setting with their pure 80s melodic (Euro) Hard Rock sound that reminds me of bands like SCORPIONS, 220 VOLT, FISC, VICTORY, KEEL, DARXON, HIGH POWER, TALON and such. They were formed back in 2020 by guitarist HISTEM JR and drummer BRENO CARLINI, who were joined at a later stage by bassist AIVAN SOUSA (who replaced their previous bassplayer) and Belgian singer ARTHUR PAGLIARINI. Together they recorded a nice record with as already mentioned a sound that is close to 80s Hardrock, and while listening you would honestly believe this is a re-issue of a 1985 recorded album! Highlights are uptempo rockers like Hard Rock Is Back (hello SCORPIONS!), I’m On Fire, Jungle Showdown (catchy, pure KEEL!) and To The Top. Even pure 80s power ballads are included (Call Me Again and Lamb In The Dark, reminding me of AXXIS), although the band is at their best during the uptempo rockers and despite it might sound all a bit dated to some of you, if you like 80s hard rock, then this is definitely a recommended band! High-pitched vocals, screaming soaring guitars, fists in the air… it’s all included on the debut CD of COASTWISE. More info at:

 (Points: 7.9 out of 10)


After The Flood is the debut album of the Belgian band IRONBORN. It is an independent release, and musically speaking we are entering the world of Melodic (Power) Metal in a very traditional way, kinda reminding of NOSTRADAMEUS and MYSTIC PROPHECY, yet with also other influences here and there. The band started as a cover band, but eventually started writing own material, which resulted in an EP release in 2017, and after the covid period work began on a full-length album, which has now seen the light of day in the shape of After The Flood. IRONBORN consists of lead singer TOM HUGELIER, guitarists JOHN MORTELEZ (who grunts a few times) and BJORN COYSMAN, bassist JAN VERSNICK and drummer TOM DEBLAUWE. I have to say that I am quite impressed, because this independent release sounds quite good and professional, yet also captures that classic underground/retro sound of the old metal days. The guitarsound is phenomenal, just listen to for example the twin-guitarsound of the catchy uptempo Melodic Metal piece Prison Grounds (80s riff with a touch of classic German/Teutonic Metal like NOISEHUNTER meets SINNER/ACCEPT), and also vocally Tom is able to sing quite well. All together a nice debut that shows that IRONBORN is a great newcomer in the Metal scene. Just this past Saturday I saw a similar local band over here (THE HARMLESS), so it is good to see new bands popping up here and there playing classic Melodic Metal. Other highlights are After The Flood (close to classic Bay Area TESTAMENT/ANTHRAX Thrash Metal) and closing track Into Darkness (midtempo epic piece). Check them out at:

(Points: 7.9 out of 10)


ALWAID is a female fronted band from Lille, France, and Twelve Daemons is their 3rd album so far. Their first album was released back in 2014, and so we are now 10 years later and meanwhile the band has performed a lot of times across Europe, and you can clearly hear that they have perfectioned their sound which is typical European female fronted Melodic Symphonic Metal in the style of THERION, THEATRE OF TRAGEDY, EPICA, NIGHTWISH and such, yet a little less symphonic and bombastic perhaps. I have to say that lead singer MARIE PERRIER has a very strong angelic voice that goes up to soprano range quite easily, and when listening to the first song Illuyanka, you can also pick up some Arabic influences, which likewise also bands such as MYRATH, EPICA and KAMELOT did in the past. The rest of the band consists of guitarist MAX RENARD, bassist DENIZ PEKIN and drummer ROBIN GRABMANN, and without a doubt Twelve Daemons is an impressive album that should easily appeal to fans of aforementioned bands. It has a massive professional sound and the artwork is also beautiful, and besides the aforementioned opening song, other highlights are Five Sisters (superb!), The Rose, The Fox and The Snake and A Paradox In Red And Black. More info can be found at:

 (Points: 8.3 out of 10)


For almost 40 years the legendary UK band GALAHAD have been a very popular progrockband, and despite only lead singer STUART NICHOLSON is left from the first line up, GALAHAD is still alive and well. The Long Goodbye is their 12th album, and it was recorded at various locations over the last couple of years, while once again KARL GROOM of THRESHOLD fame edited, mixed and mastered the record. The sound is massive and with a crystal clear top-notch production, this is definitely a modern sounding, yet classic prog influenced album, and perhaps it might be GALAHAD’s finest release so far! After the midtempo prog rocking opener Behind The Veil Of A Smile, things get very sensational during the uptempo AOR chorus driven symphonic rocker Everything’s Changed that feels a bit like ASIA crossed with IT BITES, ARENA and PALLAS. Following Shadow In The Corner is another sensational song, featuring a strong catchy chorus and a fantastic soaring guitar solo, this is another energetic uptempo progressive rocking tune. The Righteous And The Damned starts very original with a sorta theatrical/old cinema/Montmartre kinda feeling, yet after a few minutes it dives once again into massive sounding melodic progressive hardrocker with some twists during the song, here and there reminding of SAGA and RUSH. The titletrack The Long Goodbye starts calm and piano-led in a FISH style, but develops into a blockbusting 13 minutes counting epic prog piece (which has an amazing JOURNEYesque guitar solo towards the end!). The CD version of the new album contains 2 bonustracks (the excellent Darker Days and Open Water), which are also both great progrocking pieces. Concluded, GALAHAD returns with a wonderful new album that will be loved by fans of the band for sure, but also if you’re not familiar with the band’s material, then this is definitely a good start, because The Long Goodbye is one of the finest prog albums of 2023! More info at:

(Points: 8.8 out of 10)


We reviewed several albums of the Atlanta, Georgia, USA based female fronted band STARBENDERS in the past, and now they are back with a sensational new album titled Take Back The Night. Although they were already a bit 80s orientated, when looking at the album cover and inside sleeves of the beautiful green vinyl edition I received of this new STARBENDERS album, it is clear that they are now on full swing back to the 80s, and I have to admit it feels like we are back to the future 1985 all over again sometimes, and thankfully it’s from start to finish at a very high level, but also with a modern touch here and there. The band consists of Kimi Shelter - lead vocals / guitar, Aaron Lecesne (aka Aaronious Monk) – bass, Emily Moon - drums and Kriss Tokaji - lead guitar / vocals, and their mix of Glam, New Wave, Punk and Hardrock could already be heard on the previous 2 albums, but now they are back with their strongest effort so far, Take Back The Night. Kimi has a great raspy voice that has got KIM CARNES, PAT BENATAR and STEVIE NICKS written all over, while the looks of the band is a throwback to 80s MTV. 13 songs are pushed on this single vinyl, which has some really great inside sleeve notes that is fully equipped with pictures of the glamerous band members.

Opener The Game takes us straight back to the glory days of 1980s Hair Metal, with a sorta very early PAT BENATAR touch, while the chorus is something DESMOND CHILD could have written for KISS or BON JOVI back in the day. Yours truly is a sucker for this kind of sing-a-long 80s American Hardrock, and STARBENDERS does it really well here. Following Sex is a bit more modern, yet also with a retro vibe, but it is tougher and rocks much more, and it even has a touch of Punk/Sleaze/Glamrock hidden inside (JOAN JETT/GIRLSCHOOL/THE RUNAWAYS), while the soaring guitarsolo gives it another biting 80s touch. Body Talk is up next, and this song opens with big 80s SCORPIONS alike guitar riffs and also the chorus has again that 80s Hair Metal feeling. This is one of those songs that would have been huge 40 years ago when RATT, CRUE, DOKKEN and such dominated the US radio airwaves, but it could even fit in a current Netflix serie/movie, because the 80s have fully returned! Although nothing new is happening here, STARBENDERS are doing it all extremely picture-perfect spot on, so any fan of classic 80s Hair Metal with strong female lead vocals (LITA FORD/JOAN JETT/PAT BENATAR/STEVIE NICKS style) will love this album. Were Not Ok is the first song with a more 90s kinda approach due to the slow downtuned vibe, but it’s still quite nice actually, although more entering a sound that is close to let’s say THE CRANBERRIES. Cherry Wine follows in a smooth poppier melodic poprock approach like 80s STEVIE NICKS and early 80s PAT BENATAR, and trust me it is a definite radio hit! Seven White Horses is up next, and yes this is another radio winner, perhaps more aimed at today’s modern retro heavy rock, the catchy chorus is definitely one to sing-a-long! Closing Side-A of the vinyl record is the slightly edgier heavier raw uptempo punky rocker The End Is Near.

Side-B opens with Blood Moon, which is one of the heaviest songs on the album, as it is a big time hard hitting melodic metal piece that almost feels like classic GIRLSCHOOL, BITCH and a bit of HALESTORM for modern measures. If You Need It is another sorta 90s downtuned tune, which is still very melodic and also quite good, yet different than the 80s stuff if you know what I mean. Marianne follows, and this is one of the absolute highlights with it’s incredible catchy chorus and 80s vibe, it sounds like the perfect cross between STEVIE NICKS and classic PAT BENATAR and throwing in early DIVINYLS, KIM CARNES and THE MOTELS in for good measure, including those memorable hooks and guitar riff (Fire And Ice/Shadows Of The Night, etc). This song would have been a major hit if it was 1983! The 80s continue during Poison, which is likewise the cover of the ALICE COOPER 80s classic! STARBENDERS has clearly listened to 80s American Rock during the covid period, because their previous albums were more a melting pot of all kinds of styles. Midnight is the following track, and this is another catchy 80s uptempo melodic rocker. Closing the album is Say You Will, which is a sorta semi-ballad/rocker that has a modern touch.

Concluded, STARBENDERS definitely nails it here in releasing a picture perfect 80s influenced American Hardrock record. Fans of all those female fronted acts mentioned in the review, they need to get this beautiful vinyl album a.s.a.p. More info at:

(Points: 8.9 out of 10)


Right from the very first few seconds it is clear that we are dealing here with a high quality album and a superb vocalist. It concerns the new album Working Class Hero of the German singer/songwriter ANDREA KUMMERT, who already released about 5 albums since 2012. Andreas is a gifted singer with a soulful voice in an American kinda way, while his music is a mix of blues, soul, country and a bit of pop. He also plays guitar and keys, while there are several other musicians joining him on bass (STEFAN KAHNE, ASBJORN GARTNER), drums (MICHAEL GERMER, ULI BIEBER), backing vocals (PHILIPP HAHN, IRA DIEHR), guitar (ACHIM HOOCK) and keys (PHILIPP HAHN, ALFRED KRITZER, DAVID HEINER). Without a doubt, this is a very strong impressive international sounding record that should definitely gain him a lot of attention in the music business. In The Netherlands we have DAWN BROTHERS and DE WOLFF, but ANDREAS KUMMERT is definitely as good as those similar sounding acts.

His new album starts with a wonderful calmer bluesy country-soul ballad titled Leave The Radio On that sounds a bit like CHRIS STAPLETON, while following Clown Song is a catchy uptempo blue eyed soul song like a mix between HALL & OATES and PAUL CARRACK. I Don’t Know is a lovely soulful ballad where Andreas sounds a bit like JUNO ROXAS (of ROXUS) and the song itself has clear similarities to PAUL CARRACK. In My Bones follows and this is a strong tough midtempo melodic heavy blues rocker in the style of JOE BONAMASSA, ERIC JOHANSON and LAURENCE JONES. Hard Times has a slight rootsy bluesy Gospel/Americana kinda feeling in the DAWN BROTHERS/DE WOLFF style, while closing track Spaceship of Side-A is a calmer soul ballad.

Side-B of this beautifully looking red vinyl edition of Andreas’ new album opens with In It For The Money (although that’s mentioned on the vinyl gatefold sleeve, but it’s actually the last song on Side-A), which is a strong hard-hitting midtempo bluesy classic rocker with a southern rock touch a la BLACKFOOT/LYNYRD SKYNYRD. Up next is Poor Boy Boogie, which is a lovely slow tempo foot stompin’ heavy blues rocker in the JOE BONAMASSA style. You Got Something is another melodic soulful pop piece that has once again a PAUL CARRACK meets YOUNG GUN SILVER FOX kinda vibe, so there’s some blue eyed soul Westcoast for you to check out. It’s amazing how easy Andreas’ sings and what a natural sounding voice he has! Laying In Front Of You is a great bluesy rock guitar riff driven tune with an almost JIMMY BARNES kinda vibe, which is thanks to once again the vocals of Andreas.  Mothers In The Kitchen continues the album in a slower heavy blues rock direction, also in the aforementioned JIMMY BARNES style. The ELTON JOHN cover Rocket man is up next and Miracles closes the album in style, because this is a beautiful piano-led soulful Westcoast semi-ballad, which again reminds me of YOUNG GUN SILVER FOX, and a bit of THE TESKEY BROTHERS, because overall it also reminds me a lot of them actually.

Concluded, Andreas definitely deserves a lot of attention in the music business and especially abroad, because he is a gifted singer/songwriter with a superb professional sound that can be heard quite clearly on his new album Working Class Hero. More info at:

(Points: 8.7 out of 10)


As soon as the opening song Stony Rock of the debut album Make Me Try from the German band STONE WATER is blasting through the speakers, it is clear that we are musically speaking heading to the deep south of the US of A, because this is prime-time Southern Rock, but then done by German musicians. The band was formed recently in the city of Hamburg by musicians whom played already together in acts like HIGH SOUTH and VANJA SKY. Their line-up is guitarist ROBERT WENDT, vocalist (and playing harp!) BOB BEEMAN, drummer HANSER SCHULER and bassist ARTJOM FELDTSER, and they are doing a really good job here to sound very authentic and memories of bands like LYNYRD SKYNYRD, THE OUTLAWS, THE BLACK CROWES, POCO and such are quite clear here and there. Also the Dutch band DE WOLFF comes to mind, especially during great uptempo pieces like Stone Rock, Change and Awful Blues. There’s a touch of soul and blues as well, but this is usually the case with Southern Rockbands and I can smell some TOM PETTY and LITTLE FEAT (especially during the calmer funky/groovy Second Floor) a few times, and I also have to mention the beautifully cover of the ROLLING STONES classic Sway, so it is all a very good melting pot and I can easily recommend this great new band. Let’s hope they will do a tour someday soon throughout Europe, so we can catch them live. Meanwhile, check them out at:

(Points: 8.1 out of 10)


Brick By Brick is the 4th album of the Pittsburgh, USA based singer/songwriter JOHN VENTO, who is also a member of the bands BUSINESSMEN and THE NIED'S HOTEL BAND. Along with a host of other musicians, which include Cherylann Hawk – Voice, Bob Zigerelli – Voice & Acoustic Guitar, Hermie Granati – Voice, David Granati – Electric Guitar, Bass, Voice and George Perilli – Drums, John recorded a new CD titled Brick By Brick. Musically speaking it is a lovely typical old school American/Heartland Rock affair in the good old JOHN COUGAR meets BOB SEGER style, with some Americana and Pop/Rock influences as well, sounding very American and authentic in a good old rocking direction that is also hooky, melodic and catchy. John has a great voice, and right from the rocking opener New Mexico Way you can hear how this sounds like, although the best songs can be found later on the CD. Throughout the album there is also a bluesy touch, but it’s all sounding very American, and really really good for sure, with as other highlights the cool slow bluesy No One Wears A Watch, the strong uptempo tough rocking Brick By Brick (JOHN CAFFERTY ish), the fantastic SILVER CONDORish rocker Ain’t No Sin To Rock’n’Roll, the fantastic twin-guitar driven melodic rocker Start All Over Again and She Drove Me To The Poorhouse. Quite a surprising independent release and definitely highly recommended, so go check out more into on John at:

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)


Only one look at the album cover is already enough to bring you in a progrock dream, but also the included music is thankfully also pure progrock, and after several times listening to the new album of the British band THE MIGHTY BARD it is clear to me that this is one of the major prog albums released in 2023. The band was formed in 2004 by guitarist Dave Clarke and ex-Silmarillion keyboardist Neil Cockle, and they were later joined by bassist Mark Cadman, drummer Tom Mear, violinplayer Mark Parker and vocalist Benj. The debut album Blue God And Other Stories was released in 2014, and now almost 10 years the follow-up Beyond The Gate is released. I have to admit that this new album of the band is really amazing, because it’s a true classic progressive rock adventure of an incredible high level.

After the short interlude that is the titletrack Beyond The Gate, things become very sensational during following Magician, which is a killer melodic neo-progrock tune that has a massive sound/production and takes us straight into the champions league of prog. Fans of ARENA, IQ, GALAHAD, PALLAS, PENDRAGON and such need to check out THE MIGHTY BARD a.s.a.p., because they deliver a masterpiece here with Beyond The Gate. I really like the typical ‘British’ sounding vocals of Benj, the wonderful big harmonyvocals (in an almost QUEEN setting), the excellent melodies created on the guitar and keyboard, the groovy rhythm section and the addition of a violinist (KANSAS style) in their line-up that gives the band an orchestral rich sound in general. Other highlights are Guarded Street, Illusion and Secret Garden, but every song of the 7 included is an absolute winner. This is how prog needs to sound, and after all the British still seem to be able to produce new classics!

I am safe to say that THE MIGHTY BARD sounds indeed mighty and their new CD will definitely find its way to the progfans out there. Check them out at:

 (Points: 8.8 out of 10)


It was a busy day at work and when I almost got home an American blues rock musician called JHETT BLACK mailed me that he was staying at a beautiful bed and breakfast around the corner where I live in Dordrecht, and he wanted to hand over his debut vinyl album Babel to me. It was an honor to meet this incredible talented musician, who plays guitar and other instruments on his first album, and he sings in a very original dark low octave range (in the JOHNNY CASH, NICK CAVE, HOWLIN’ WOLF style (just listen to the slow gothic blues song Gold or closing track Wayward Son of Side-A for example). At the International Blues Challenge Awards in Memphis in 2022 he finished 2nd, and his album is charting at the moment, so he is definitely moving up in popularity soon. He is touring in Europe right now, but due to work and distance I could sadly not catch him live somewhere, but hopefully that will be possible next year. Anyway, besides Jhett there are a few other musicians on his lovely dark looking and sounding first vinyl album. The album was produced by Glenn Halverson, Al Basile and Callie Sioux, while Dusty Skins (drums, percussion), Luciana Schiavone (backing vocals), Déhá (bass, keyboards, percussion) and Robbie Coleman (bass) are the musicians helping out to give Jhett a full rock band sound. The music balances somewhere between the earlier described Gothic Blues (JOHNNY CASH meets NICK CAVE meets HOWLIN’ WOLF) and big fat stompin’ dirty raw bluesy rock and roll the way it was meant to be played. ZZ TOP and SEASICK STEVENS became superstars with this kind of real honest authentic bluesy soulful boogie rock and roll, and JHETT BLACK does a similar thing actually on uptempo pieces like Mama Told Me Not To, Eve and 12 Bar Blues Again, while the midtempo stuff such as Roll Out, Eulogy and sensational closing track Going Down (with it’s cool big 80s kinda drum/beat sound) are as close to honest dark blues as you can get. The album will be labeled as Blues likewise, but there’s much more to discover here, and JHETT BLACK has a true own style, and on vinyl that sounds really impressive. And there is a lot of diversity going on, because how about the uptempo Sonic Tonic, which is a song that is completely different than the rest of the album, because this is a slightly gothic/new wave kinda rocker with a rather catchy poppy approach. I think it’s best to listen to this man’s lovely debut album for yourself.

JHETT BLACK is quickly making a name for himself and I am convinced that in 2023 he will definitely gain a lot more new fans, especially if he is able to come over and play at the blues festivals in The Netherlands (and Europe). Meanwhile, check him out at:

(Points: 8.4 out of 10)


This summer I had the privilege to see the sensational Finnish guitarist/vocalist live in concert, and she was unbelievable. Without a doubt one of the best female guitarists at the moment, and also musically speaking she has made major steps the last couple of years, because her most recent album Waiting For Daylight is a superstrong melodic heavy (blues) rock affair with clear influences from classic hardrockbands such as THIN LIZZY, VAN HALEN and URIAH HEEP. She did several successful tours in 2023, and a Finnish performance from March 2023 was captured live, and now released as a 2-CD package. A lot of the songs featured here are also from that 2022 studio album Waiting For The Daylight, such as the wonderful Bad Seed, Last Girl, Never Really Had You, Waiting For The Daylight, You Talk Dirty, The End Of Music and the titletrack of the live CD, Diamonds On The Road. The older songs have a more bluesy rock direction, which is also quite good, but it’s clear that she delivers her best during the newer material. Erja has been in the music business for quite a while now, because she released her debut album 20 years ago, but somehow now it clicks and she is at an incredible high level. I can only say to you whenever she’s in your area, go catch and check out this sensational female guitarist, because she shreds as one of the finest at the moment. Her stage performance is also very appealing, so from start to finish you will be hypnotized. In case you can’t make it or you want to relive those memories of seeing her live in action, then make sure to check out this wonderful live 2-CD set. More info at:

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)


Guitarist/singer/songwriter ADAM ZINDANI comes out of Birmingham, England, and he is best known as a member of the famous Welsh rockband STEREOPHONICS, but he also has an own band called CASINO, and recently started a solo career, of which Black Eyes Blue is his debut solo album. I am not sure who plays on the album, because that is not mentioned in the liner notes of the CD booklet I received, but it seems Adam does a lot on his own (including producing). 20 songs are included, and right from the start you will be pleased with a big anthemic sound that grabs you and doesn’t let go.

Opener What About Love is well-thought honest midtempo AOR tune with a cool 80s kinda feeling (especially in the rhythm section and the hooks here and there). The sound is rich, the hooks are catchy and the vocals of Adam are spot-on, and it’s all jam-packed in a crystal clear production setting. Adam is a gifted singer with a fantastic voice, and he is able to write some really strong songs that could easily become massive radio hits. The following titletrack Black Eyes Blue is basically a modern picture-perfect midtempo AOR/Melodic Poprock tune that should be a radio hit for sure. It’s like ERIC MARTIN, BRYAN ADAMS, GLEN BURTNICK, JOHN PARR and such 80s AOR/Poprockers started a new career in 2023, because it sounds fresh and yet still has that good old soulful AOR kinda touch of the aforementioned 80s singers. Other highlights are Should Have Known Better (catchy uptempo AOR/Poprock a la BRYAN ADAMS), Dance (superb 1983ish hookladen westcoast-AOR, keyboardfriendly and reminding of JAY GRUSKA if anyone remembers him!) and Wanna Get Into U (smooth calmer midtempo AOR like BRYAN ADAMS meets JOHN MAYER and a bit of PAOLO NUTINI). I am safe to say that if you call yourself an AOR fan and want to hear a fresh new artist with a similar vibe, but still with a modern approach (like JOHN MAYER for example). You also should not be afraid of a few calmer acoustic tingled singer/songwriter pieces here and there (I’ll Get Over Loving You, Believe In You and the beautiful closing track Stranger) as well, so there’s a bit more diversity going on actually, but the general feeling is AOR/80s Melodic Poprock ish in a modern fresh jacket. More info can be found at:

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)


Goodbye Big Idea is the debut album of the Brussels, Belgium based band ABSTRACT INC. Their line up consists of Abel Jednak – Altsax, Joos Vandueren – Tenorsax, Machiel Heremans – Guitar, Leonard Steigerwald - Piano/Rhodes, Otto Kint - Double Bass and Daniel Jonkers – Drums, and musically speaking they are playing a spicey (and spacey) mix of jazz, post-progrock and classical music. 7 long songs can be found on the album, and there is a healthy modern approach to the band’s rich influences and without a doubt it is a very fine listen from the start to the finish of the album. The songs have all kinds of various directions, sometimes rocking in a post-progworld, then calm and classical music based, while they also dive into some complex jazz here and there, and this makes ABSTRACT INC. a highly recommended band to check out. More info at:   

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)


Out of The Netherlands comes an exciting project called GLORIOUS WOLF, which is formed around multi-instrumentalist/producer/composer RUUD DIELEN, who did a lot on his own to create the 3rd album Mysterious Traveler under this moniker. There are several guests on vocals (CELIA VAN ONNA and FRANK VAN DER BORG) and drums (KIKE PAGLIA), but Ruud himself plays guitar, bass, keys and mellotron besides composing, arranging and producing the CD. Musically speaking it is high quality concept progressive rock orientated, which in the hands of a Dutchman is in good hands if we look at the countless other prog rock concept albums we have seen the past 30 years (AYREON, KAYAK, MAGORIA…), and despite it all sounds a bit calmer and less bombastic than the usual suspects in this genre, GLORIOUS WOLF is definitely in the premier league with it’s high quality (mostly instrumental) progressive rock. The melodies are beautifully played by Ruud on the guitar, bass and keyboard, and here and there we have songs that feature the 2 aforementioned singers, whom are doing a great job, and I wouldn’t mind more vocals on a future record. The artwork of the CD booklet is beautiful, thanks to ED UNITSKY, and from start to finish you will be taken into the exciting world of Ruud. Check out more info at:

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)


Founded in 2003, the Swedish band MOON SAFARI was discovered by THE FLOWER KINGS keyboardplayer Thomas Bodin, who also produced their debut album A Doorway To Summer in 2005. They released 3 more studio-albums during the following 10 years, and eventually after their fourth studio album, Himlabacken Vol. 1 (2013), it became quiet around them, but another 10 years later they return with a follow-up of their previous concept album, marking new CD Himlabacken as volume 2 here, and their 5th studio album in total so far. The band’s line up consists currently of Petter Sandström - lead vocals, acoustic guitar, harmonica, Johan Westerlund - bass, backing and occasional lead vocals, Simon Åkesson - lead vocals, keyboards, synthesizers, Pontus Åkesson - guitars, backing and occasional lead vocals, Sebastian Åkesson - keyboards, percussion, backing vocals and Mikael Israelsson - drums, percussion, keyboards, backing vocals. Their music is progressive rock with 6-part lead- and harmonyvocals, because each of the bandmembers is able to sing really well, making the music sound extremely melodic and catchy.

Opener 198X (Heaven Hill) immediately shows that we are dealing here with a lovely high quality album that will appeal to all fans of Neo-Prog, Sympho, Pomp and AOR due to the massive use of harmonyvocal driven choruses, cheerful keys and soaring guitar melodies. It’s like we stepped back to the mid 80s, yet it still sounds fresh if you know what I mean. ARENA comparisons are there for sure, but also let’s say ASIA or KANSAS and even JOURNEY, so melt it all together and you got yourself a perfect mix of AOR, Pomp and Neo-Prog/Sympho. It might be something in the water, but the Swedish musicians always have a good ear for a catchy melody and when combined with prog elements, then you end up sounding quite sensational and that’s what MOON SAFARI is all about when you listen to the amazing uptempo Between The Devil And Me that is actually a close-call in hookladen early 80s Westcoast-AOR perfection, reminding quite a lot of TOTO and LE ROUX circa So Fired Up, but with a proggy touch in the instrumental section of this 10 minutes counting epic tune. The cheerful keys and harmonyvocals of Emma, Come On takes us straight back to the 70s sound of STYX, so here is a pure Pomprocker for your taste! A Lifetime To Learn How To Love is up next, and this might at first sight sound quite sugarsweet and pop orientated, it is a nice ballad that reminds me a bit of PROMOTION, the short-lived Swedish CHICAGO/TOTO ish sounding band from the 1990s. Beyond The Blue is a short song, while Blood Moon picks up again those big 6-part harmonyvocals that make it sound like STYX again, so once more pure Pomprock, but also QUEEN and ROBBY VALENTINE come to mind, while you might also compare MOON SAFARI to that other Swedish band that does more or less the same thing (A.C.T., but then a bit more quirky) and even CATS IN SPACE. Teen Angel Meets The Apocalypse is a 21 minutes counting tune that combines the theatrical musical aspect of STYX with the classic neo-prog/symphonic sounds, which can also be heard during Forever For You, while the shorter Epilog closes the CD. Here and there 80s YES is also a very strong comparison, and I have to say this is a very impressive high quality CD, but for some it might all sound a bit too theatrical and musical orientated due to the massive use of harmonyvocals, forgetting the real progrock element sometimes, however if you like KAYAK, STYX, KANSAS, ROBBY VALENTINE, VALENSIA, A.C.T. and such, then you will definitely like this album of the Swedish band MOON SAFARI. More info can be found at:

(Points: 8.6 out of 10)


Fol Nais is the 3rd album of the French band NI, and musically speaking we are heading into high quality instrumental complex progressive/noise metal that sometimes sounds really confusing, extreme and difficult, but also has calmer parts like a mix between MESHUGGAH, TOOL and LONG DISTANCE CALLING, yet with the focus on extreme complex parts. On the other hand, the rhythm section (bassist BENOIT LECOMTE and drummer NICOLAS BENOLIN) gives it this typical pure prog/jazz approach, while the 2 guitarists (ANTHONY BEARD and FRANCOIS MIGNOT) show their skills in delivering all kinds of heavy riffs and distorted noise synth like sounds (check out the song Chicot for example). They have an own identity, and anyone into complex instrumental music might want to check out this band at:

 (Points: 8.4 out of 10)


 Out of the French city of Nantes came the band LES SHTAUSS, whom were active in the 1980s, and they had a great garage-punk-glam-sleaze rock and roll sound like nowadays bands such as THE STRUTS and BAD NERVES are doing, but they also reminded of ROLLING STONES, THEM, THE STOOGES and the 80s THE LORDS OF THE NEW CHURCH and 80s THE CULT sound is also pretty close sometimes. Anyway, they had a good live reputation, but only managed to release a couple of singles and an EP before calling it quits, but thanks to ATYPEEK MUSIC there is now a CD that contains 9 songs from their 80s recordings. The mostly uptempo rockers combine the best of the aforementioned bands, so if this sounds interesting, then make sure to check out this legendary 80s underground rockband. More info at:  

 (Points: 8.3 out of 10)


Here we are heading into pure classic US Heavy Power Metal in it’s most purest tradition of acts like ICED EARTH, SEVEN WITCHES, SANCTUARY, JAG PANZER, METAL CHURCH, HELSTAR, etc. etc. It concerns a band called SULLVATION, which at first sight seems to be an one-man’s project, because American multi-instrumentalist BRENT SULLIVAN did almost everything on his own (songwriting, producing, engineering, mastering, mixing and playing bass, guitar, keys), but if we look further we also find a drummer CHUCK WHITE, guest lead singers and guest lead guitarists, so there’s more than meets the eye. The most well-known guest lead singer is of course TIM “RIPPER”OWENS (JUDAS PRIEST, ICED EARTH), but most of the other featured guest singers sound quite good and have a pure Metal orientated voice. The sound is massive, the artwork very professional and from start to finish this is a great melodic US Power Metal adventure. The album has been released independently, and I believe it is Brent’s first album under the SULLVATION moniker, but in his 40+ years music career he did play in several other bands and released albums with them, such as SLAUTER XSTROYES, WINTERKILL (on MTM MUSIC in the 90s), SPIRITWEB (reviewed about 25+ years ago by yours truly) and MINDWARP CHAMBER. Anyway, the use of various lead singers and guitars gives the album a continued moment of interest, because every singer and every lead guitarist sounds just a bit different, but they are all performing at a high level, and songs like We Become, We Come In Peace, Carry On and the fantastic twin-guitar soaring What You Don’t Know will be appreciated by any fan of classic melodic US Metal. Check out more info at:

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)


Out of Norfolk, UK comes the authentic classic rockband BAD TOUCH, and they were formed in 2010 when the members were still in college. 13 years later they have built up a band with a strong live reputation and Bittersweet Satisfaction is already their 6th album. BAD TOUCH consists of Stevie Westwood – Vocals, Rob Glendinning – Lead Guitar, Daniel ‘Seeks’ Seekings – Guitar / Vocals, Michael Bailey – Bass and George Drewry – Drums / Vocals, and their classic rocksound has clear elements of the late 80s and early 90s Stadium/Arena American Melodic Hardrock when melody was king with catchy hooks, memorable melodic choruses and soaring guitar solos. Imagine when Hair Metal was huge, but then with a classic rock approach in a modern jacket. TESLA, THUNDER, LILLIAN AXE, SONS OF ANGELS, BANGALORE CHOIR, JESSE STRANGE, WHITE LION and such come to mind when listening to this fantastic band, and despite it might not sound really original, these guys absolutely deliver the music at a very high level, and they are able to write some very catchy tunes that definitely stick inside your head after hearing them. 10 songs are included in total, of which the highlights are the catchy uptempo melodic rockers This Life, Spend My Days, Bittersweet Satisfaction and Tonight, the groovy midtempo Taste It (THUNDERish), but there’s also the classic 80s melodic power rockballad in the shape of Nothing Wrong With That (WARRANT meets AEROSMITH) and Come Back Again. If you want to hear a good old fashioned fun melodic hardrocking record, then make sure to check out BAD TOUCH’s awesome new album Bittersweet Satisfaction. More info at:

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)


THE RECORD COMPANY is an American band founded back in 2011 and they are settled in Los Angeles, California, USA. The Fourth Album is their 4th album likewise, and they are formed around CHRIS VOS (vocals, guitar, harmonica), MARC CAZORLA (drums, piano, vocals) and ALEX STIFF (bass, guitar, vocals). Musically speaking they present us high quality all-original authentic raw bluesy soulful southern rock and roll with an early 1970s touch of THE STOOGES, ZZ TOP, CANNED HEAT, etc. It also reminds me a lot of the Dutch heroes of DE WOLFF and even a bit BLACKBERRY SMOKE comes to mind, so then you might more or less understand what this is all about. There’s also most of the time clear influences of classic Blues (MUDDY WATERS/BB KING), especially during the bluesy guitar riffs and rhythm section, just listen to the superb closing track You Made A Mistake for example, because this sounds like it was recorded in a smoky bar somewhere down in Texas (almost reminding of Mannish Boy). It’s by the way Chris who shines on each and every song of the CD due to his fantastic soulful vocals. He completely lifts up the material to higher places and makes THE RECORD COMPANY standout between the countless other bands out there. 10 songs are included in total, and the highlights include the uptempo rockers I Found Heaven (In My Darkest Days), Patterns (THE STOOGES ish), Bad Light and Roll With It (sounds like we stepped back in time in a retro late 60s rock’n’roll machine and discovered ROLLING STONES never existed!), and the catchy funky radio-ready Talk To Me. Without a doubt, this is a great authentic rockband that would live on stage probably impress even more with their southern fried raw dirty mean dusty bluesy rock and roll sound. Check them out at:

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)


Although originally released in 1981, I discovered the only MPG album during the 1990s, and eventually got in touch with the band’s guitarist DAVID MIKAEL, who during the late 90s had his own studio, so we did an interview back then, and I did a full story on MPG, but also reviewed some of his new work that was released as DAVID. Good times for sure, although around 1998 not many people were interested in reading about old stuff (haha). Anyway, another 25 years later that MPG album has now been re-issued onto CD by MELODIC ROCK CLASSICS after 42 (!) years of it’s original release! It sounds very fresh, even to today’s standards, and basically this is champions league AOR of the classic late 70s/early 80s era. TOTO, DAKOTA, FRANKE & THE KNOCKOUTS and such acts are good comparison’s to this AOR classic of MPG. Anyway, besides the original 9 songs there are also pre-MPG songs included when the band was called MILES BROS. (from the 1970s era), and also a lot of demos and unreleased recordings that could have led to a 2nd album.

Songs like Too Many Questions, Workin’ Overtime, Can I Come Over Tonight and Always Something are timeless AOR classics, and a must for any dedicated AOR fan out there. It’s great that they have finally been released on CD, because the sound is now much bigger than on the old vinyl album. It’s a 2-CD set with a lovely extensive booklet that covers the story of the band as well as rare band pictures, however the biggest surprise is the new song Stop The World, which is a nice bluesy rocker for sure, but it’s far removed from the classic AOR sound of MPG, although it’s good to see the guys teaming up in their original line-up and actually recording a new song. The first batch of unreleased songs, 7 in total, I was already familiar with, because I had the original demo tape, but thankfully it’s now officially released on CD. The sound quality is not the best, but it's great to see unreleased MPG tunes such as That’s Easy, Can’t Miss Love, Front Page News and Worn Out Shoes getting a proper CD release, because these are really good pure AOR tunes. Number One is one of the few unreleased big production sounding classic AOR anthems in the classic TOUCH, SHELTER, PREVIEW, LIONHEART kinda world, and of course it would have been great if all the unreleased songs had such a high quality sound, but nevertheless we can enjoy at least some great unreleased AOR tunes here, with as other highlights the TOTOish Westcoast-AOR pieces Nobody There (a la PLAYER), Somebody Somewhere and the beautiful AOR tune Some Other Time (recorded live as MILES BROS. = pre-MPG live in 1979) as well as all the aforementioned tunes, and likewise it’s the original album tracks that show MPG at their very best!

Concluded, this is another classic AOR album every home should have on both LP and CD, and this 2-CD set contains a lot of unreleased material of the band that despite the (sometimes average) quality of the demos and live stuff definitely gives you a good idea how good these guys were back in the day! The MPG classic debut and only album they ever released sounds really good on CD, and is right up there with the countless other AOR classics from the golden era of AOR music (1976-1984). More info at:

(Points: 8.8 out of 10)


The history behind the American band AS IS goes back to the late 1960s. This band wrote and performed the included songs on this AS IS CD The Story Continues between 1969 and 1974, and now almost 50 years later the original members recorded some of their material. Actually, this is already the 2nd CD they recorded together as AS IS and it’s all thanks to their singer, songwriter, producer, engineer, educator and multi-instrumentalist DAVID MIKEAL, who of course is best known as the lead singer/guitarist of the legendary AOR/Pomprockband MPG. Anyway, David has done a lot more in the past 6 (!) decades besides playing in bands, because he also has his own studio in Florida where AS IS recorded this new CD. AS IS was his main band before he eventually formed MPG, but you can read more about that in the review of the re-issue of the one and only MPG album on CD. AS IS’s music is pure classic rock/70s AOR/Rock in a style that reminds me a bit of URIAH HEEP, balancing somewhere between 70s Hardrock, Prog, Pomprock and a bit of heavy Blues Rock. Done really well and sounding quite authentic, it’s good to see these guys still deliver the goods and David has a real classic rock voice, so it is a pleasure to listen to the 9 included songs. More info can be found at:

(Points: 8.1 out of 10)


The new album of the Philadelphia, United States based band LOW CUT CONNIE is definitely remembering us of the 1970s, and despite it is said to be a tribute to LOU REED, there is much more to discover here on Art Dealers, which I received in an excellent sounding vinyl format. The band was formed in 2010, and this is already their 7th album. The bandleader is singer/songwriter ADAM WEINER, who writes all the songs and also produced the album, while he plays piano, guitar, percussion, keyboards and synths as well. LOW CUT CONNIE might therefore rather be called his project actually, but there are nevertheless a whole list of musicians helping him out and giving his sound a real band kinda feeling when listening. 13 songs are included on this new album, and opener Tell Me Something I Don’t Know is a wonderful hard hitting midtempo bluesy rocker with a strong chorus and a great guitar riff, not even far removed from THE BLACK KEYS. Next track Sleaze Me On is a little grittier and also adds some Soul influences, especially in the groovy arrangements and backing vocals, coming across like something ROLLING STONES could have recorded in the 1970s. Big Boy follows in a slightly more 70s T-REX ish glamrock direction and even early 70s DAVID BOWIE comes to mind during this uptempo rocker. After just a couple of songs it is clear that this is a high quality record with an honest authentic 70s rock and soul sound that really recalls the good old days. Speaking of the 1970s, the superb Are You Gonna Run? Is a sorta late 70s powerpop/AOR/pop semi-ballad that recalls BILLY JOEL, HALL & OATES, JOE JACKSON and such, including a catchy hook and piano/keyboard driven dut-dut melody. Don’t Get Fresh With Me continues in this somewhat laid-back 70s AOR/Powerpop/Westcoast direction that even reminds me a bit of BENNY MARDONES and EDDIE MONEY, so as you can see this is a very diverse record that truly reminds us of the good old 70s American FM Radio sound. Wonderful Boy is up next, and this is a calmer piano-ballad with high falsetto vocals, while closing Side-A of the vinyl record is the cool uptempo Garage Rock and Roll tune Whips And Chains that could easily become a huge radio hit because it has a very catchy vibe that reminds me of THE STRUTS crossed with 70s LOU REED.

Side-B opens with Take Me To The Place, a lovely classic 70s AOR/Pop anthem that has again a BILLY JOEL / ELTON JOHN vibe in it’s piano-led verses and hooks, while the strong catchy rocking chorus is made for classic radio and even reveals a bit of STEELY DAN crossed with the Heartland Rock of MICHAEL STANLEY BAND, so there’s your New Jersey touch! Call Out My Name is a pure 70s anthemic pop tune and following King Of The Jews is a nice powerful ballad. I Don’t Understand You is a catchy short but sweet uptempo melodic poprocker with a late 70s/early 80s vibe, titletrack Art Dealers is a sorta 70s ballad and closing song of the album Party’s Over is a throwback to a 1930s close-harmony vocal driven doo-woop blues style. As you can see there is an incredible diversity in music styles on this record, which makes it enjoyable to listen to from start to finish.

Concluded, LOW CUT CONNIE absolutely delivers a lovely new album that breathes the classic 70s all over the place, melting the catchy hooks and melodic choruses in an authentic anthemic rocking sound, yet with also a surprise here and there. Check out the vinyl edition, because that format gives the best sound quality of this highly recommended new album of the band. More info at:

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)


KEVIN BORCH is a New Zealand-born Australian guitarist and singer-songwriter, and he was a founding member of THE LA DE DAS, the leader of KEVIN BORCH EXPRESS, a founding member of THE PARTY BOYS, as well as a session musician for numerous acts besides having a solo career all his life. He has been in the music business for over 60 years (!) and released a lot of music throughout his life, but also performed with many legendary musicians and bands. Outside Australia he is lesser known, so that makes the CDs he was kind enough to send me for a review even more interesting, because it concerns here a new CD titled Duets, but also a sorta best of CD titled Legacy 1973-1981 that covers a very busy and wild part of his career, the 1970s and early 1980s, when he recorded and performed all over the world with a lot of other famous musicians, which resulted in a CD that was compiled by Kevin himself in 2022.

Legacy 1973 – 1981 contains 3 CDs that are split over a Rock orientated CD, a calmer softer material based CD (both CDs featuring songs recorded between 73-81) and a 3rd CD featuring live recordings from the 90s and 00s. We’re back almost 50 years in time when these recordings took place and CD 1, which is simply titled Volume 1: Hot, this is a very enjoyable classic 70s rocking album that reminds me of all those classic acts from that period in music history. It’s a melting pot of Pub Rock, Classic Rock, Heavy Blues Rock and a bit of Hardrock like a mix between TASTE, RORY GALLAGHER, THIN LIZZY, STATUS QUO, PAT TRAVERS and PETER FRAMPTON. Kevin is a great singer and he is also a gifted guitarplayer who does all the 70s rock/hardrock tricks during the 17 included songs on the rocking first CD of this 3-CD package. Highlights include uptempo rockers such as Goin’ Somewhere, Goin’ Down Town, Need Your Love, Six Million Dollar Role (catchy tune) and especially the last 4 songs on CD1 are really strong Classic Rockers that sound like a mix between THIN LIZZY and PAT TRAVERS (Caught In The Middle, Rock’n’Roll, Don’t Let Go and Shy Boys Shy Girls).

CD 2 is titled Volume 2 // Chill, and basically it’s indeed a more relaxed side of Kevin, so it is more balladry and laid-back, here and there slow bluesy melodic rock ish, but mostly melting all kinds of other influences (funk, soul, jazz, westcoast, pop and even reggae) into the 17 included songs, with as highlights Cannot Do Right (strong semi melodic rockballad), Mon Ami (70s funky soul tune), Backs To The Wall (one of the few rockers here, an almost very early KISS/STARZ ish sounding straight forward 70s rocker), Working On A New Day (CITY BOY/CHARLIE ish 70s melodic rocker), the prog/pomprocker Flight 506 and the RICK SPRINGFIELD ish melodic rocker Waiting For You.

The 3rd CD contains more recent live recordings from the 1990s and 2009, and these songs show Kevin in his purest heavy blues rock direction, and I have to admit that it sounds really good, both vocally and on guitar. His guitarwork is phenomenal on these wonderfully captured live recordings from 15-30 years ago, especially during the amazing 10 minutes counting Celebration that reminds me of WALTER TROUT.

Fast forward to 2023 and a new CD is released entitled Duets, which brings him straight up to the number 1 album charts of Australia! It is really impressive if I look at the list of guest singers whom are singing a duet with Kevin, because LEO SAYER, SUZE DEMARCHI, IAN MOSS, JOE WALSH (!), ANGRY ANDERSON, SWANNEE and many more appear on Kevin’s new CD. The music is somewhat calmer than his previous work, but it’s definitely a very nice mixture of blues, westcoast, pop and a bit of soul/jazz, with Kevin’s amazing smooth guitarplaying to accompany the vocal duets he’s doing. Highlights are Bring Loving Back Again (westcoast-soul-pop semi ballad duet with LEO SAYER), the uptempo rocker Keep It To Myself, Soapbox Bitchin’ (with the legendary ROSE TATTOO singer Angry) and closing track There Is A Road (featuring the Aussie Westcoast-AOR legend SWANEE). I was not familiar with Kevin’s music before, so it is a pleasure to get a good look on his past and present through these CDs. More info can be found at:

(Points: 8.4 out of 10)


The UK keeps on delivering high quality new releases in the world of melodic heavy blues/classic rock, and the latest one is from a band called THE BLUE LENA from Worchester. They are described as a southern rockband with FLEETWOOD MAC ish harmonyvocals, and although that might sound like a good way to appeal to as many people as possible, THE BLUE LENA is basically a classic rock/AOR/Melodic Rockband with a bunch of catchy tunes on their debut album Darkwood, although here and there we can definitely trace a bluesy/southern rock influence. However, more important is the fact that this band has an amazing soul vibe in their sound, which is thanks to some great harmonyvocals and the performance of the top-notch musicians, but THE BLUE LENA also has a killer vocalist (PETER YEOMANS of HIGH TREASON) who has a real soul in his voice. The band’s lead guitarist NICK SINGLETON (CRYWOLF, THE TATTOOED LOVE BOYS) is playing some phenomenal guitarsolo’s and riffs throughout the album, while the rest of the band (drummer JON CLAYTON, guitarist RICHIE YEATES, percussionist FI CHANNON, keyboardplayer MATT RAYNOR and bassist MARTIN RAGGETT) provides the necessary rich full band perfectly. All together we can easily say that this is another sensational band from the UK!

12 songs are included, and opener Last Chance Saloon is a pretty good uptempo melodic classic rocker in a somewhat laid-back WHITESNAKE style, while following Sanctity has a great slower bluesy rock feeling like THUNDER (and WHITESNAKE again), but this song also has a superb AOR chorus that is very memorable and even reminding of TALISMAN / TYKETTO / VALENTINE. At times this band also has similarities to the last couple of albums of the Liverpool hot-shot LAURENCE JONES, yet perhaps a bit more leaning towards classic AOR/Rock, especially when you hear a catchy AOR/Melodic Poprocker such as Only When She’s Dancing (with it’s fantastic soaring 80s guitarsolo). Other highlights are the soulful melodic rocker The Wrong Side Of Midnight, the melodic semi-AOR/rockballad Can You Feel The Rain (MARK ALLEN BAND meets BILOXI), Long Way Home and the AOR ballad Sometimes (a la BLUE RAIN/SURE CONVICTION). I just mentioned some rare melodic rock comparisons from the 90s, so the insiders among us will understand what THE BLUE LENA is all about, but basically this is a great melodic rocking band you need to hear a.s.a.p. You don’t want to miss this excellent new band and their debut album Darkwood, so go ahead and check them out at:

(Points: 8.6 out of 10)