Thursday, 21 May 2020

Room Experience - 'Another Time And Place'


This Friday sees the release of the sophomore album from Room Experience, more of those pesky Italians single handedly (as a nation) trying to keep melodic rocks flame burning - not as a flicker, but a full on Gas Mark 9. It’s still the brain child of Gianluca Firmo, who again plays keys, BV’s and has one song of his own to sing (Euro bonus track), and he has blackmailed his friends for another outing of melodic mayhem. Back in the hot seat is David Readman, and he is a fine choice of vocalist for any project. Also along for the ride again are Davide Barbieri (keys and BVs), Steve De Biasi (guitars), Pierpaolo Monti (drums) and noob to the set up, Simon Dredo (bass)

There’s also a hosts of guest itching to get involved, such as Ivan Gonzalez, Sven Larsson, Stefano Zeni, Chitarra Matteo Serra, Lorenzo Fodda, Marcello Sperra, and no Italian project would be complete without the addition of Alessandro Del Vecchio.

I think the title of the album (Another Place And Time) is obviously a nod to days gone by where an album project like this would probably have been lapped up had it been 1986, but unfortunately those days are long gone. Even now (May) and the rest of the year will be a completely different time to what it was in February. We are in strange times indeed. Thankfully people are still producing music even if gigging is off the table for the time being. At least more of us are sitting at home able to listen and discover bands like Room Experience. A couple of years down the line, the name still hasn’t grown on me!

Take note other bands to up your game, the PR info that was issued with this album states that Room Experience is powered by Blåkläder Workwear. (I wonder if spandex and leg warmers are considered as workwear?). I expect Vega to respond and announce a deal with ‘Betty’s’

Anyway, onto the frivolity that is ‘APAT’. I’ve only had the chance to listen to it a couple of times and there’s some good stuff going on here. ‘Hear Another Song’ is a powerful opener. I was expecting to be overladen with layered keyboards, but its not the case here as is very much a pulsating rocker. ‘Wild Heart’ goes very much for the 80s keyboard style opening intro and settles into its groove. There a good enough mix of songs to keep the listener entertained - from the power ballads ‘The Distance’, ‘A Thousand Lands’ and the closer which is very Gary Moore guitar influenced, ‘Your Voice Inside’; uplifting ‘The Night Goes On’; strong choruses in ‘Disappointed’, and ‘The Miles That Make A Road’, and my personal favourites the 80s style powerful rockers ‘A Thousand Lies’, Another Place And Time’, ‘Shout’ and ‘Hear Another Song’.

All in all its a good album, the playing is strong, Readman is a good choice for handling vocals, the guitar playing is excellent, and production polished, but not overly. Theres not a great deal to cheer us all up presently, but albums like this certainly can lift your spirits. Its nice for them to include a European bonus track for once, instead of the Japanese hogging the market!



Hear Another Song
Wild Heart
Strangers In The Night
The Distance
Another Place And Time
The Miles That Make A Road
The Night Goes On
A Thousand Lies
Your Voice Inside
The Distance (Lead Vocals Gianluca Firmo - European Bonus Track)

Saturday, 16 May 2020

McStine & Minnemann release single ‘Program’




McStine & Minnemann is a new band consisting of Randy McStine (Lo-Fi Resistance) and Marco Minnemann (The Aristocrats). Pre-orders for their debut album began on Friday May 1st, along with the release of their first single “Program” and its brand new music video.

The duo initially met in 2018 while working with other artists, but as they discovered their shared passion for an assortment of Rock, Pop, and Punk artists, they decided to embark on a collaborative project together. Although McStine and Minnemann initially set out to record an EP, they quickly shifted to making an album as their musical ideas and chemistry flourished. 

The result of their self-titled debut, McStine & Minnemann, is a high-energy collection of ten compact, yet expansive Rock songs that sit well next to the likes of XTC, Mr. Bungle, The Knack, Queen, and Frank Zappa. As both men are prolific multi-instrumentalists and writers, they have created a space for each other to showcase their incomparable instrumental talents, while infusing them with an incredible mix of melodic and lyrical depth.

The first single from the album “Program” explores the impact of technology in the modern world, and the duo worked closely with videographer Christian Rios (who has also directed videos for Flying Colors and Sons of Apollo) to create an unique music video to represent the concept. Randy remembers: “I sent the song to Christian to gauge his interest in doing a music video for it, and he came back with a concept to have the whole thing feel as if our phones are communicating and directing us. The lyrics are somewhat abstract, but he picked up on a theme of tech addiction, which is something I think about often.”

“I first recorded ‘Program’ in 2013 but only started playing it again with my trio about a year ago” continues Randy. “And I thought this would be really great to do [with Marco] if we kick up the energy a bit and take it to a Devo-esque sound. I’m super excited about how it came out! The way Marco approached the instrumental section completely took it to a new level, making it very tight and rhythmic.”

Marco adds: “The whole track has a real driving energy to it and I think, as an album opener, it sets the stage for most of the musical elements that are to follow.”

McStine & Minnemann was produced by the duo, and mixed by Forrester Savell (Karnivool, SikTh). 

McStine & Minnemann Tracklist:

01. Program
02. Falling From Grace
03. Your Offenses
04. Catrina
05. Top Of The Bucket
06. Tear The Walls Down (No Memories)
07.  Fly
08. Activate
09. The Closer
10.  Voyager

Pre-Orders for McStine & Minnemann are now available on Bandcamp with several packages to choose from - PRE-ORDER HERE NOW

$8 Digital Download
$13 CD + digital download (shipping exc.)
$25 ‘Deluxe Version’ CD + digital download (shipping exc.) with exclusive bonus content -
          Private stream release of 1 new song per week (every Friday) from May 1st to July 3rd (in order of album sequence), as well as a Randy/Marco commentary track and Marco drum playthrough video per song

A Limited Edition Vinyl version is also available - PRE-ORDER HERE NOW

$25 Special limited 140 grams Collectors Vinyl Album, only 100 pressed

Follow McStine Minnemann:

Friday, 8 May 2020

Dennis DeYoung - ‘26 East: Volume 1’ Album Review

Dennis DeYoung - 26 East: Volume 1

It was the novelty of the world’s first laser etched single, “The Best of Times”, which first drew my attention to Styx. From the moment the needle hit the record, I was well and truly hooked. The singer of that song was Dennis DeYoung, who together with his band mates, made up of one of the most successful American rock bands of the era.

There are, therefore, two ways to approach a new album by Dennis DeYoung – the first is as a solo performer and the second is as a former member Styx. DeYoung is rightly proud of his legacy of Styx music, and his solo work is faultless to a tee, but there is always bound to be some crossover in the subconscious mind unless you have no prior knowledge of the history.

So, what was I to expect from DeYoung’s first studio offering in 13 years: “26 East: Volume 1”?

The opening cut, “East of Midnight”, is a promising start to the album with a fanfare most beloved by the Pomp Rock brigade! The chugging autobiographic verses lead into a trademark Stygian chorus and an instrumental section which includes dual lead guitars, a church organ and synth solos! This is prime-time DeYoung!

“With All Due Respect” continues the theme of “Turn off CNN” from his previous album “One Hundred Years From Now” although the vitriol this time seems more evenly matched against both left and right-wing media channels.

DeYoung’s ear for effective light and shade gives us some of the album’s best moments, notably with the superb “A Kingdom Ablaze” with its eerily atmospheric introduction morphing into a dynamic rocker with a memorable hook.

The inevitable romantic ballad comes in the form of “You My Love”, and as much maligned as he has been for the likes of “Babe” and “First Time”, you have to give the man credit - he really does write a great love song!

“Run For The Roses” and “The Promise Of This Land” showcase DeYoung’s versatility as a songwriter and performer, harking back to theatrical style and vocal delivery employed on his mid-nineties “10 on Broadway” and “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” albums.

Opening in a light mood, “Unbroken”, lopes into an uplifting harmony-laden chorus while “Damn That Dream” exhibits a series of attractive musical facets and clever lyrics as it runs its course.

The infectious, celebratory tone of “To The Good Old Days”, a duet with Julian Lennon, is a big highlight. The more you listen, the more you enjoy and appreciate what’s going on here! It will never replace “Come Sail Away” in the concert set-list, but be sure that your lighter is fully loaded with fuel, or at least that your cell phone battery now has enough power to last for two songs! It’s almost forty years since he toured on this side of the pond - let’s hope European audiences get the opportunity to witness this great performer again before he calls time.

The album’s closing song, “A.D. 2020” retreads old ground using a familiar musical theme from the “Paradise Theatre” album but this time it’s far more impacting. Knowing that DeYoung said that this was going to be his last album, this becomes far more personal, and it’s sad ...

This album brings his career full circle. The album title “26 East” is the address in Roseland on the south side of Chicago where the genesis of Styx began in 1962 with a band called Tradewinds which he formed with twins John and Chuck Panozzo who lived just across the street. At the group’s inception, Dennis played the accordion. When you know the history, hearing him play one on “A.D. 2020” this song makes it all the more poignant.

Thankfully, so much material had been written, Serafino Perugino, CEO of Frontiers Music, suggested splitting it between two albums, hence “26 East: Volume 1” – so we can now all anticipate what Volume 2 holds in store – personally, I can’t wait to hear it!


Review by Andrew Mon Hughes

East Of Midnight
With All Due Respect
A Kingdom Ablaze
You My Love
Run For The Roses
Damn That Dream
The Promise Of This Land
To The Good Old Days
A.D. 2020

Tuesday, 5 May 2020

One Desire - 'Midnight Empire' Review

One Desire – Midnight Empire

I was first aware of One Desire a few years ago and was lucky enough to see them in The Cathouse in Glasgow supporting Eclipse. Word was they were decent and the first album imaginatively called One Desire was superb, I loved it and loved them playing live.

A couple of things struck me, they were called One Desire just as some band called One Direction were still making it big in the world. Luckily they were nothing like One Direction. The second thing was that lead singer André Linman could not only sing well but had hair that a shampoo advert would die for.

Their 30 minute set was superb, tight and I was left well impressed. Sadly I missed out when a few mates went to see them in Finland, I’d have loved to see these lads on home soil.

And so I was lucky enough to get a link to the new album Midnight Empire. Actually lucky doesn’t cover it, I was blessed!
Shadowman – starts with a haunting recorded intro with crackles from the record it’s taken from before the music kicks in and it kicks in with style. A thumping driving beat, the vocals clear and the backing vocals full of menace as it builds to a great chorus. It’s full of energy, keyboards and atmosphere, it sets a standard. “The Shadow in the window hiding”…..

After You’re Gone – what a tune, it’s catchier than a pandemic (too soon?), it just drags you along with a massive smile on your face. Simply WOW! One Desire for me was this track not to end (see what I did there……). It’s definitely nods towards Eclipse which can never be bad thing in my opinion, totally love it, no wonder it was released to highlight the album.

Down and Dirty – completes a hat trick of 3 catchy melodic tracks of real style. Rather than Down and Dirty it’s more “Upbeat and Clean”. It’s got another great chorus and layered backing vocals that just simply work.

The vocals of André Linman complement the solos of Jimmy Westerlund superbly. The talent of both for me matches if not exceeds the original CD. I say CD because I’m old and still love a CD mainly to blast out in the car.

Godsent Extasy – Even though the title sounds like a dodgy porn channel it’s another track that hits you with another full on melodic rock cracker, key changes and continues the feel of the preceding tracks nicely.

Through the Fire – acoustic guitar start, vocals exposed and wonderfully haunting. What a beautiful slow burner this is. It grows into a magnificent atmospheric track, One Desire certainly aren’t a one trick pony. This takes them to another level. There’s a touch of Rush, a bit of Eclipse and the guitar solo at the end could only sound more magnificent if backed by an orchestra and choir. Sublime.

Heroes – another gentle build up that bursts into life. It fits in with the previous songs seamlessly. Again the musicianship is top.

Rio – a cracking ballad, the piano intro sets the tone, the vocals of André lead into a slow builder, by slow I don’t mean bad, they just let the song build and let the guitar solo take over in a note perfect way until Andre’s vocals end it beautifully.

Battlefield of Love – the way OD use an acoustic guitar to lead into a full-on electric high tempo piece makes their sound well, well just their own. A clever use of keyboards (which are across a lot of the tracks) just adds to the feel.

Killer Queen – another superb full on piece of Scandinavian rock – it zips, it’s not Queen but it’s still a royal song. Sorry, I’ll get my coat.

Only When I Breathe – the rain fall backdrop leads to a classic finish to what is a bloody decent album. Again it starts showcasing the vocals of Andre on top of a gentle guitar. A superb ballad again and the vocals are stunningly good. “Now it only hurts when I breathe”.

If you love melodic rock and especially with the Scandinavian feel then you won’t be disappointed, it’s a belter and the best I’ve had the pleasure to hear this year. I’ve not mentioned Ossi Sivula on drums and Jonas Kuhlberg on bass guitar but they are just as important to the sound because they just do their bit, no frills but 100% behind the whole sound. Also the use of keyboards just works perfectly.

In conclusion Midnight Empire is a little gem, the band deserve a much bigger audience. They were superb live and I can’t wait to see these songs with a large appreciative audience. Totally loved it with so many earworms in the CD. The faster stuff is immense but for me “Through The Fire” just hits every button although my favourite will always be After You’re Gone, up there with the best of Eclipse, HEAT and Perfect Plan, it is simply that good.

I would say check the band out live on their European tour with The Night Flight Orchestra in March 2020 but that won’t happen, instead buy this, dream and wait until they play Scotland, I’ll see you there, I’ll be big idiot with a smile on my face. They won’t disappoint.

One Desire – take a bow lads. Magnificent.

Review by Lawrie

9.5/10 Easy. 

1. Shadowman
2. Heroes
3. Down And Dirty
4. Godsent Extasy
5. Through The Fire
6. After You’ve Gone (Separate Ways)
7. Killer Queen
8. Was It Love?
9. Battlefield Of Love
10. Rio

Jimmy Westerlund – guitars
André Linman – lead vocals
Ossi Sivula – drums
Jonas Kuhlberg – bass guitar

Friday, 1 May 2020

FM - 'Synchronised' Album Review

FM - Synchronised

In what currently seems like a pre-cursor to an impeding real-life zombie apocalypse where a strain jumps from animals to humans and mutates to kill 98% of the worlds pollution, its a bloody good job I can rely on certain things to comfort me - such as a new release from my all time faves, FM!

Its been a good 12-13 years since they returned for a headline gig at 2007s Firefest, and after the second-life release of ‘Metropolis’ in 2010 its been steady ahead and a consistent team for those onboard HMS FM. In fact, the output has been more prolific than it was and they are probably more in control of their destiny that at an other point since 1984, and has seen them grace stages they probably never thought was possible (Donington, Sweden Rock, and a long awaited debut in the US), and tours with luminaries such as Foreigner,  Heart and Lizzy. Its a good time to be a fan!

For FM Part II, ‘Synchronized’ is this lines ups seventh studio release, their twelfth in total. It’s some going. If you’re a fan already then there’s a lot to like. ‘Synchronized’ is rightly the first song to be picked as a single, as its in the same vein as a ‘Blood and Gasoline’, ‘Tough Love’, ‘Tough it Out’ and fires along at a strong pace, led by Kirkpartick’s guitar and Davis’ keyboard. All of which is enveloped in Overlands vocals and the ‘gang of fives’ harmonies. It’s a cert for addition for the live shows. ‘Superstar’ is almost a departure for FM, its a mellow, pop-fuelled number that is certain of coverage on Radio 2 I suspect. I found it a bit too bland at first, but after a few spins it’s a definite grower, and more ‘one for the ladies’? I can already visage the video - filmed in Arizona (Blackpool) with a sweeping shot, (drone, not helicopter), followed by a top down Jag racing across Route 66 (A6). ‘Best Of Times’ follows on from ‘Superstar,’ and has a bit more vim and vigour, and without Overland singing his arse off, it would be average in any other hands. ‘Ghosts Of You And I’ is the first ballad, and its still very un-FM like. It’s not a bad thing, Im just taken a bit aback by the first few numbers being a shift from the norm. ‘Broken’ is upbeat and akin to what hit the Billboard charts mid-80s, and is ear candy of the highest order.

‘Change For The Better’ is a classy number and definitely channels Don Henley’s ‘Boys Of Summer’. ‘End Of Days’ goes for a ‘BIG’ sound from the off, with a nice ‘choppy’ guitar sound running through the whole song. ‘Pray’ sees Overland channeling his inner Sam Cooke and has all the hallmarks of a soulful/Blues STAX record from the 60s with a modern twist. It’s only missing a horns section and Steve ‘The Colonel’ Cropper, and it is a firm favourite for me. I.Loved. It. ‘Walk Through The Fire’ is bound to bring comparisons to Mr. Misters ‘Broken Wings’ thanks to Jem Davis’ ivory tinkling. It’s as 80s as a pair of Coverdale’s leg warmers and its all about the bridge and chorus, thus proving that the second half of ‘Synchronized’ is definitely on a roll.

‘Hell Or High Water’ is one of the heavier songs (in FMs world), it is built around the infectious chorus. ‘Angels Cried’ has a slide opening riff before settling into a bluesy, almost gospel ballad, with a side of Bon Jovi thrown in. Only, when BJ was good! Finally we are on to ‘Ready For Me’ is like FM of old, when every album or single had a B side like a Bad Company cover or BC inspired dong, and RFM is no exception and it finished the album on a positive.

Basically I take away my comment at the top of this review. Yes its a comfort for a new FM album, but it’s very different to anything they have put out before. That has thrown me a bit, which is both good, and also slightly puzzling to me. That in itself I think is a good thing, and that deserves a round of applause. It’s definitely a stronger period for me in the second half, as a few of the first half made me question if there was a pattern or new sound they were going after. It’s almost akin to when I heard SO for the first time. However, I’m positive that after many more listens, it will be a big hit with me. One thing is certain, Steve Overland never sounded so good.

No doubt Dave Ling will wank himself into a frenzy.


Best Of Times
Ghosts Of You And I
Change For The Better
End Of Days
Walk Through The Fire
Hell Or High Water
Angels Cried
Ready For Me

Thursday, 30 April 2020

Sam Millar - 'Radio Gouda' EP Review

Sam Millar – Radio Gouda EP

I loved Sam Millar’s first EP Holy Sass, for me it was one of the best releases last year with a fresh sound and a break away from the heavier Bigfoot sound. With this in mind I was looking forward to hearing the second EP immensely. 

Sam’s Facebook page – “Sam Millar – Music” has clips of Sam playing various covers and basically being, well, just Sam, mental, funny and well worth checking it out.

Radio Gouda – the intro is the sound of a radio being tuned with music fading in and out as the dial is turned before DJ Dairylea is found. He’s not right in the head I tell ya.

Human kicks things off in earnest, it starts with a staccato kind of guitar riff which leads up to Sam’s vocals kicking in. What has become clear is that Sammy can sing, he has a distinctive voice suited perfectly to the music he writes. Human is a great piece of soft rock, a catchy chorus and the obligatory Sam guitar solo. Again Sam’s guitar sound and solos are distinctive, the lad can play.

Forbidden is the first track to be released and it would have fitted in perfectly on the first EP in the sound and structure of the song (hark at me talking as if I’ve actually got a clue about music), the chorus is catchier than a STI and it’s 4 and half minutes of quality. 

Let it Rain is a slower moodier track and leads with the vocals full of angst with keyboards providing a mellow undercurrent before the guitars come in and take over nicely. The choral middle section is a smart touch and complements the overall sound. 

Sober kicks off with a guitar riff that definitely nods in the direction of “Why Can’t This Be Love” by Van Halen. It’s a sad song about trying to stop a break up “If it’s over say it’s over, I’ll believe it when you’re sober”. The chorus is haunting and the guitar solo is a belter, cool and considered. 

Levi’s brings the EP to a rocking end, the most energetic and hi-energy track with a bit of Sammy humour chucked in for good measure singing about a cold shower at midnight. 

So Radio Gouda is another belter from Sam, I loved the first one and this is as good if not better. It’s a lifetime away from the Bigfoot songs and cements Sam’s style as a solo artist. When you have a 5 track EP you can’t hide weak songs, well there aren’t any so that’s a result.

For a self-written and home produced EP it really is superb stuff, it’s melodic, thoughtful with a well-considered guitar solo on every track. I would hope that a label will pick this up and invest in giving the songs just that little bit of a polish. 

I’m gutted that this bloody virus has stopped the Sam Millar and the Sass Bandits tour. I was going to Newcastle to see him and can’t tell you how much I was looking forward to seeing Sam do his thing with his own band. I didn’t ask for a refund, not because I’m kind but because it was free gig. 

My advice is simple – Check out the Sam Millar – Music page and invest a couple of quid on a young talented artist who also happens to be a nice guy, you won’t regret it…..probably.


Track list:

1. Radio Gouda
2. Human
3. Forbidden
4. Let it Rain
5. Sober

6. Levi’s


Sunday, 26 April 2020

Jack Russell’s Great White - ‘Once Bitten Acoustic Bytes’ Review

Los Angeles, CA - Vocalist and co-founder of legendary ‘80s hard rock group Great White, Jack Russell, is proud to announce the release of a very special acoustic album revisiting the band’s 1987 multi-platinum masterpiece Once Bitten featuring some of their biggest and most recognizable hits including “Save Your Love” and “Rock Me!” Aided by the likes of guitarist Robby Lochner (who also produced and mixed the album), longtime Great White bassist Tony Montana (now on guitar), bassist Dan McNay and drummer Dicki Fliszer, these songs have been stripped to their emotional core, spotlighting the intensely passionate story at the heart of each song. Just check out the new version of the unforgettable ballad “Save Your Love,” which has been shorn of all rockstar pomp to reveal a heartfelt hymn yearning, love and loss.
Jack Russell explains “Once Bitten is one of my favorite albums that we did. I always wondered what it would sound like done acoustically. The experience recording this unplugged version was really neat. It brought back a lot of memories of the original recording session, things I had forgotten about. Interestingly, the songs that I thought wouldn’t translate acoustically like ‘Livin’ On The Edge’ and ‘Never Change Heart,’ the heavier songs, came out the best. Now, I’m looking forward to doing it again for …Twice Shy!”

There’s a quandary when you have two bands playing the same stuff. Would you rather have a Great White where the singer is no longer a part of the band but has most of all of its original members, or a Great White with the singer (which gives the band it’s sound) with no other originals? I think I would generally opt for the latter. That said I’ve seen the current Autograph, and Queensryche and they both kick ass, so what do I know?

Well, I went through a phase where I loved Great White in the 80s. The first three albums from 84-87 are all little belters. The album that’s on offer here, had for me one of their best ever tracks in Face The Day. This was on the UK album and is sadly missing here. 

Well, what I am pleased to write, that this shark still has some ‘bite’, and Jack Russell still sounds pretty good, when other 80s icons have gone off the boil considerably. “Lady Red Light” sounds good acoustically. I’m not sure if Russell can hit the vocal heights like he could back in they day, but acoustically he is fine and dandy. That’s more than suffice. The song is basically a stripped back version (go figure) and even the guitar is note for note as the original. Which leads me to question....why bother? I only ask this, because an acoustic version gives the band artistic licence to mix it up a bit and freshen up a classic. “Gonna Getcha” is similar fare with Russell still following his idol Robert Plant vocally. “Rock Me” one of the best tracks originally, and in this format is mixed up a bit at the beginning to pull you in and see where it leads. Once going, it’s keeps with tradition. ‘All Over Now’ is decent fare, but a bit whiny. ‘Mistreater’ and ‘Never Change’, both not being on the UK version are good enough to make me want to dig out the originals on Spotify and see what I originally missed out on. ‘Fast Road’ itself a fast and frenetic original number is a bit too fast to be converted into an acoustic number, but the vocals and harmonies are good.

This album is decent enough. Others have given better acoustic treatment to their classic work (Tesla). If this Great White arrived at our shores for a gig and these acoustic songs were on offer, I’d take it. Given the option of acoustic, or plugged in, wired for sound wins. I prefer the originals. 

There’s good and bad acoustic songs out there. If you want proof of good, check out Swedish band Hellsongs who cover lounge versions of some metal classics, whereby these songs are so different they mess with your head, and I wanted a little bit of that here. The songs are unplugged versions which is fine for most people, but I would have liked Russell and Co. to be inventive and provide something a bit different, even special

Once Bitten Acoustic Bytes will be available everywhere  starting May 1  on digital as well as CD and a limited edition BLUE vinyl LP from Deadline Music, a division of Cleopatra Records, Inc.

Score 6.5/10

Track List:
1.  Lady Redlight
2.  Gonna Getcha
3.  Rock Me
4.  All Over Now
5.  Mistreater
6.  Never Change Heart
7.  Fast Road
8.  Livin’ On The Edge
9.  Save Your Love
10.  Babe (I’m Gonna Leave You)

Monday, 13 April 2020

Jase Old - 'Hemishphere' Review

Jase Old – Hemisphere

‘Hemisphere’ is the debut solo album from Jase Old. He of prolific Aussie rock band The Radio Sun and also Starchase. Its TRS where I first clapped eyes on them appearing at HRH AOR for something like 4 years on the trot. In case you’re wondering, he’s the one who usually wears pink and tells jokes.

Some bands have a definite ‘sound’ because of their vocalists. Jase is one such fellow. His voice is pretty distinctive. However, with Hemisphere, thats about to change. Take opening track ‘I Hope You Find The One’ which is a broody, and more emotional song to what you would hear from his day job. The phrasing is different with a bit of Richard Marx rasp and Myles Kennedy (YOTT) going on. It makes for a pretty good start. ‘Tell Me How To Mend A Broken Heart’ follows suit. Despite the jangly keyboard and synth, its honest songwriting wrenched from his experiences. ‘Take Me As I Am’ is a lighter number that is something you would hear on mainstream radio. The reins are off for Jason to roam into different styles.

‘And You’ is definitely from the Marx school of performing arts. Think emotional ballad, and its where we find Jase, opening up and bearing his soul for these songs. ‘Breaking Down The Lie’ is the Jase Old I like best, a song that has a good melody and is more pulsating and menacing. ‘You’re A Star’ is one of the stars on Hemispheres, anyone who rhymes ‘beautiful’ with ‘irrefutable’ gets my vote. ‘Love Is What You’re Looking For’ is old school pop-rock with a nice layered chorus that’s ELO-esque. The title track ‘Hemisphere’ has a lot going on. Its mainly acoustical with a prominent synth beat, but still with a drive and power, that picks up and leaves you wanting more, which is never a bad thing. On ‘One Life’ he sings ‘just give it all you’ve got, you may not get another shot, because there is only one life’. Quite apt. ‘Sometimes’ is on the heavier side of Jase’s style, and is a favourite. ‘Like It Used To Be’ is the closest Jase comes to TRS, which finishes the album on a positive and high note.

I have to say that there’s a lot to like on Jase’s debut. He has certainly mixed it up a bit, as there’s different styles, emotions, and more depth to the subject matter. The songs are varied enough and come at you thick and fast. Its something I want to see developed further as Jase Old definitely has something to say and a solo artist suits him. ‘Hemisphere’ is a very pleasant surprise. Obviously it will attract fans of The Radio Sun, but that’s where it ends. There’s only one song that didn’t resonate with me. The album gets better as you work your way through it, and deserves repeat playing. There’s certainly a few songs here that will end up on my ipad and that’s a tough selection process!!

A solid 7/10

I Hope You Find The One*
Tell Me How To Mend A Broken Heart*
Take Me As I Am
And You
Breaking Down The Lie*
You’re A Star
Love Is What You’re Looking For
One Life
Like It Used To Be*

Released Friday 18th on all major streaming platforms

Sunday, 23 February 2020

Romeo's Daughter - 'Organik' EP Review

 My good self and Romeo’s Daughter go back a long way. Quite a long way in fact. All the way back to October 26th 1989, Liverpool Royal Court, when they supported FM on the ‘Tough It Out’ Tour. We went for FM, and we still do, but we were taken aback by the then unknown to us Romeo’s Daughter. Our lives have been entwined with their music ever since. The following summer we were getting married, and were looking to come to a compromise on a wedding dance song. We decided on ‘Hymn’. Not a popular choice I suspect with many for a wedding song, but it was one we both loved. We were even more surprised when our wedding DJ had the album in his collection! To compound the link, even our daughters (Rachel) middle name is Leigh. To make it look like we knew what we were doing, Harry's middle name, George, we told him he was named after George Lynch, to make up the fact they were both partly named after rock stars. 

Anyway, enough of the gushing, onto the EP. The guys have just released an acoustic EP (called ‘Organik’) of some of their favourite songs, and a new one thrown in for good measure. Acoustic covers can be a bit bland and uninspired, but they can can also be a true test of the strength of a song. Not all songs could be played acoustically, and thankfully the ones chosen for the EP are good ones. 

I have to say that as a fan of Leigh Matty's breathy and sultry vocals, the acoustic versions suit her voice perfectly. They are delivered with passion and warmth. It’s weighted heavily toward the last two studio albums, ‘Enemy’ is achingly beautiful, and benefits from the intimacy of an acoustic guitar. ‘Radio', a light and poppy number originally, is now stripped back and is still effective as the original. ‘I Cry Myself To Sleep’ (the song that mentions their name) was already a passionate number, and is now delivered with more emotion. ‘Alive’ is given a new ‘life’ in this version and is focused around Matty’s voice. The new song ‘Since You Went Away’ is typical of the last couple of albums, with poignant and wistful lyrics delivered with love. ‘Talking Love’ was destined to be covered acoustically, and the delivery suits a lower register.

Nothing here is forced, the songs suit a stripped back sound and leave you wanting more.

I’d like to see a set of two halves in the future, one acoustic to open, followed by the full fat version. Romeo’s Daughter (and Leigh) never sounded better. Its a mature EP that fits them like a well worn pair of comfy slippers. Twelve months ago it could have been curtains for them, but thankfully Craig Joiner is thankfully still with us, and hopefully for years to come and delivering little gems like this.


Thursday, 9 January 2020

Gone Savage - Resurrect EP and new Single 'Bulletproof' Review

Gone Savage - Resurrection EP & 'Bulletproof' Single Review

Im not a fan of Dry January, or that other charity event for women that draws on Movember, I think it’s called Fanuary. Anyway for the month of January I have literally Gone Savage. That doesn’t mean Ive foregone the  task of having my weekly bath, or refusing to change my underpants, I have mostly been listening to an EP and new single that was sent to me by Ian of Gone Savage

They are based in Manchester and previous performances included Stage2 at HRH AOR6, and were also invited to perform an acoustic set for VIP’s and press on the same weekend. They are currently scheduled to play The SavFest festival in Nottingham in August.  The band has a long history and has been around since the early nineties. Previous contributors included Vinny Burns ( Dare) and Andy Halliwell (Sweet Sin) together with the original drummer James Ross (Also Ex Dare). Currently the band line up is Ian Salpekar and Will Glover with guests musicians brought in to cover live work. All writing and production is done in house by Will and Ian and assisted by long-time friend and member of the original Gone Savage line up, Grant Mallison.

So what do we have with the Resurrection EP ?

Well, if you are a fan of classic rock, then you’ll find a lot to like in Gone Savage. Opener ‘When The Circus Comes To Town’ sounds like Alice in Chains, if AIC suddenly had a bit of a melody injection but set themselves in the NWOBHM era. Its got a nice dirty riff, and for me, being a sucker for all things 4 part harmony, its got harmonies a-plenty

‘If It Feels Good Do It’ falls in a pretty similar vein, with the same guitar tone,  similar vocals, but for 'Soul Sister' they mix it up thankfully with an acoustic opening, and its here where Gone Savage really shine - when all can weigh in with vocals it makes for goosebumps. Think Poison or more likely Bon Jovi’s ‘Ill be There For You’ and you’ll see what I mean. ‘Love Caught Me Out’ sees GS using a taped voice into for the third time, they like digging out snippets!  For me, they have saved the best for last, its a nice faster paced number, and little gem of a track (not the lettuce). James Marsh’s delivery reminds me of someone I can’t quite put my finger on, I'm thinking part Michael Starr, part Ron Keel. OK so its not a voice that everyone will be familiar with, but its my review!

I also have the new video to listen to which is called ‘Bulletproof’. I year or two on from the EP, Gone savage have upped the metal whilst maintaining the melody. A chugging, menacing, and sinister guitar riff sets out the tone, with Will Glover now on vocals. Thankfully the EP and new single are very different sounding, otherwise I'd be suggesting that Glover had received a kick in balls, the delivery being so different! Theres a lot of promise from this one song along, whereas the EP was more ‘samey’ and they are showing a considerable move in direction and quality.

Gone Savage Social Media Links below - 

EP 6/10
Single ‘Bulltproof’ 7.5/10

Tuesday, 7 January 2020

Top 20 albums 0f 2019

Albums of 2019

Hello there dear reader, thanks for all your support in reading my blog. You know who you are you special little dude. I'm a bit late in compiling my fave album list, it's the first time I've ever posted it in the following year. I'm slacking, and I apologise for it. I've been unwell you see, and had some tricky kidney stones removed. I wouldn’t wish them on my own worst enemy is what I want to say, but I have 7 people who I'd love to pass the pain on to. They know who they are!!!

Anyway I digress. I've enjoyed 2019 over other recent years as I felt it was a particularly strong year for rock music. Proper rock music, and not the shite that the like of X factor call rock music! A couple of my favourite bands released albums that feature in my list, and there’s also a superb debut album, and the album that most of the rock community waited almost 10000 days for. So here you have it, my slightly biased list of albums that I thought were great, and some brilliant.

But first, here's a few albums that didn’t quite make the list but are definitely worth listening to - 

Puppy - Sabbath vs pop metal
Hardware 86 - as 80s as a pair of David Coverdales leg warmers
Notorious - Scandi hair metal that deserves to be heard by many

20 - Dream Theater  Distance Over Time
Probably the post Prog named album of the last decade, 'DOT' sees Dream Theater return to form from the somewhat lacklustre 'The Astonishing' (in hindsight one of the worst names). Its an 'almost' return to DT factory settings, producing an album that the likes of DT only can do.

19 - Hollowstar - S/T
Hollowstar cite the likes of BSC, Thunder and Slash as influences and they all flow through the album like a stick of Blackpool rock. Old school / modern rock that delivers in spades. I expect these guys to deliver on their promises.

18 - Grand Slam - Hit The Ground
Laurence Archer revives this gem of a band with a mix of old and new tunes. The king may be dead, but Grand Slam prove that they are very much alive and kicking

17 - Airbourne - Boneshaker
In an uncertain world, its good to know you can rely on some things to stay the same and offer comfort. Airbourne are one such band. Not ones for ripping up the rulebook, they have a method, and it works. If you're fed up of seeing AC/DCs cousins and nephews performing then there’s no better Aussie DC fix than Airbourne

16 - John Diva and the Rockets Of Love - Mama Said Rock Is Dead
On first inspection JDATROL make Steel Panther a credible 80s band, but look beneath the surface and you see a band with a mission (just like Steel Panther) in taking us back to the 80s and party like its 1986. They have the looks, the persona and thankfully the sound. Its not a perfect album, but Diva has raided the iSpy book of Hair Metal Cliches, but when they get it right they do it oh so well. Diva's Mama was wrong!

15 - The Spectre Beneath - The Downfall Of Judith King
Paz, the person behind TSB is fairly prolific, in fact this was his second album of the year (his other outfit - The Plague and the Decay). Its TSB that just pips it to make my list, and its a belter. Combine Sharon Den Adel, Devin Townsend, Symphony X and Biomechanical, and you might have an idea of where Im coming from. Like footy, its an album of two halves. The first is a metal fest, and the latter more of a classic rock vein and its these distinct two halves that come together to make for a cracking album

14 - Opeth - In Cauda Venenum
Ok, they are not the Black Metal darlings of old, and Mr Åkerfeldt makes no apology for their shift to a more 70s prog sound. They made a bold move in recording the album in their native Swedish and English, and both versions delight the listener (well, this listener anyway). They mix it up considerably with country, rock, and Baroque all playing a part and I for one loved it.

13- Nitrate - Open Wide
With all the Vega and Midnite City involvement you would expect Nitrate to hit all the right places, and that is correct. Most of the songs are anthems with more riffs than Mark Tremontis hard drive (he’s got thousands!).

12 - Alter Bridge - Walk The Sky
This for me was their best album since Blackbird. They introduced keyboards and electronica and it paid off. The foundations are still there - industrial grade riffing, bone stuttering bass, and spleen moving drumming, but there’s more shorter, snappy numbers this time around, but its the lengthier Dying Light that's the highlight of the album 

11 - Royal Republic - Club Majesty
Just one song from Download on TV was enough for me to go out and get this album. An infectious album of disco rock. It's riff meets pop meeds disco, and the outcome is glitterball chock full of frolicking fun.

10 - Black Star Riders - Another State Of Grace
I think BSR have just about broken the shackles of being another Thin Lizzy with this their fourth album. Personnel changes have further weakened the Lizzy DNA and a couple of songs still make reference to the legacy. Its becoming less of a theme, and now 'ASOG' puts them firmly standing on their own two feet. 

9 - Work Of Art - Exhibits
A new WOA album is always going to be hotly anticipated and 'Exhibits' make no exception. With Survivors Jim Peterik weighing in with help, their provenance is undoubted as being the finest modern exponents of AOR in the vein of Toto, Giant, et al. Only one other has done it better this year (See No.5)

8 - Whiskey Myers - S/T
If you liked 2017s Mud, then you’ll absolutely devour this one like Dracula at a haemophilia convention. Taking the best of Lynyrd Skynyrd, gospel vocals and Southern American music, they proved themselves right to self produce for the first time. With lyrics like ‘I was raised by wolves in the woods, not the streets’ you know its not the usual bunkum. 

7 - Rammstein - Untitled
Bloomin’ ‘eck! Its been ten years since 'Liebe Its Fur Alle', and all focus was on Tool's equally long awaited opus, but this was worth every bit of the wait as ‘Fear Inoculum’ was. Few bands can bugger off for so long, and just carry on where they left off, and then there's Rammstein, the masters of industrial metal. 

6 - The Darkness - Easter Is Cancelled
The Darkness seem to have had more comebacks than Rocky Balboa, but one thing they do is make consistently cracking albums. Hawkins has his tongue firmly planted in his cheek with song titles like the hilarious ‘Rock and Roll Deserves To Die’ and the title track, but he has not lost his knack for an ear splitting riff and ball tightening wail like only he can (without the aid of anything other than a scrotum chafing onesie and raw talent). Its the type of album that should be on a school curriculum.

5 - The Defiants - Zokusho
Their debut was an absolute belter, so what did they do? Bettered it! Comprising of current and former members of Danger Danger - this doesn’t make a difference, but they rock firmly like they are in their 20s and its 1989 not 2019. Aptly named, Zokusho means ‘sequel’, but it should mean ‘one better’. Big hooks, big hair, big choruses, and Paul Laine sings his arse off. What more do you want.

4 - Scarlet Rebels - Show Your Colours
Ive been shouting off to anyone that will listen about previous outfit V0id, and after a great set at HRH AOR in March, I was hotly anticipating ‘SYC’. Its melodic rock tunes at their finest with a mix of hard melodic rock, three emotional ballads, and not a single duffer in sight. The whole thing is catchier than a baseball glove dipped in UHU, and I hope these guys go as far as their talent lets them.

3 - Leprous - Pitfalls
Prior to this, I’d never come across Leprous before so I had no other benchmark to fit them to. But bugger me, 'Pitfalls' was one of those moments that makes reviewing albums worthwhile. Its both haunting and compelling and I half expect Solberg’s falsetto to appear on a Scandi thriller. Its a bit of a side step to anything they have done before. Its a bold move, but boy did it pay off.

1. Rival Sons - Feral Roots
Along with AB, RS are my fave bands formed this side of the Millennium. Where 'GWV' was great, 'Hollow Bones' stalled the development a little for me, but 'Feral Roots' puts them back at the top of their trade and put them in the big leagues (hence their two Grammy nominations). Everything on here is a belter, its their first album that you will not skip a single track. Greta Van Fleet seem to get the plaudits, but Rival Sons have been doing it better and longer, and don’t need to be clones of Messers Plant and Page. 

1 - Tool - Fear Inoculum
OK so it took a long time in coming, but it was worth the wait. Right? Totally! It wasn’t a totally fulfilling listen at its first attempt. Its needed multiple listens to fully appreciate the scale and magnitude of ‘FI’. Typically it is hypnotic, mesmerising and absorbing. Six songs weigh in at over 10 mins - hence why they didn’t fit it all on the CD! Some said it was all the same as before, but even if that is the case, it still makes for a compelling album, it is Tool after all. And they don’t do anything by halves.