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