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HOT NEW REVIEWS


UPDATED APRIL 18 - 2015




SARANTOS 'NOT WHERE I WANNA BE' (INDEPENDENT/USA IMPORT)

Multi-instrumentalist Saramtos comes out of Illinois, USA and he was kind enough to sent me his very first CD Not where I wanna be, which marks the start of his discography carreer, because his intention is to release a new song each month of the year and a new CD every November until the day he dies. He looks quite young, so I assume we can expect at least 50 albums the rest of the 21st century. Anyway, let's first discuss his debut album. As he mentions in the inner sleeve of the CD booklet, the music genres he chooses are not just focused on 1 main genre. This is well appreciated by yours truly, although it becomes clear that a few genres can easily be ignored next time. The calmer singer-songwriter pop/rock opener Not where I wanna be sounds nice, but it's the following track Nothing to hide that shows Saramtos at his very best, because this is a catchy uptempo AOR/Poprocker that feels like it's summer again and a comparison to Bryan Adams is quite clear. The guitarwork is by the way very impressive and I would love to hear him rock much more next time. The next couple of tracks reveal some 90s Grunge influences (I'd give anything), lightweight 70s Pop (A sunny day) and also a few tunes, which sadly makes me want to rush to push the skip button (the Disco ish I love to love you too and the R&B ish Why), but thankfully the midtempo AOR rocker Are you sure you can last? shows again that Sarantos is able to deliver something very good as well. If he would release a full-blown rockalbum in the style of Are you sure you can last? and Nothing to hide, then I am sure AOR/Melodic Rockfans would be thrilled (especially fans of Phil Vincent). I must not forget to mention the last 3 tracks, because on A country song, Believe and Let's call it love, he is joined by strong female guest vocalists, which also songwise fall in a nice balladry direction, so there's more interesting material than the 2 AOR/Melodic Rocksongs I was raving about earlier on. It's hard to deny the man's incredible enthousiasm in delivering as much music variety as possible on 1 CD, but it would be more interesting if he would investigate in delivering a somewhat more balanced record and drop the hi-tech bleeps , vocal corrections and disco/R&B orientated material. Check him out at: www.melogia.com  

(Points: 7.3 out of 10)

STREAM CITY 'HOAX' (PRIME COLLECTIVE/DENMARK IMPORT)

Of course the success of Volbeat resulted in a lot of new rockbands emerging from Denmark, because in the past the amount of bands coming from Denmark was quite limited if you compare it to neighbour country Sweden. Anyway, Stream City is another act playing somewhat the same style as Volbeat. The band's first record Hoax is a nice album to listen to and besides Volbeat similarities, the band also has a lot of influences taken directly from Medieval Folk and even the Spanish guitar, just listen to the album's highlights, which are the titletrack Hoax and Hail the machine. Metalcore, Metal riffs, Progressive Rock and Folk influences with Volbeat ish choruses are combined all the time and the only pity here is the weaker vocalwork of singer Dion Lambrecht Finne. His guitarwork however is rather good and thanks to a superb production, the album sounds quite impressive, with a lot of great tunes, but there is always room for improvement and who knows they are able to refine their sound on a future album. More at: https://www.facebook.com/streamcity

(Points: 7.7 out of 10)


CICCONE RITCHIE 'WITHIN OUR PARAMETERS' (PRIME COLLECTIVE/DENMARK IMPORT)

Well well well... we have all the ingredients here for a strong album while listening to the first track Bang goes evil of the debut album Within our parameters of the Danish band Ciccone Ritchie. The sound of the album is huge, thanks to the mastering job of Alan Douches (Ramones, Mastedon, Motorhead, Every Time I Die), the songs are damn catchy and besides all the picture-perfect instrumental work of the bandmembers, it's the singer who makes the difference, because lead vocalist Bjarke Madsbøll has got a superb voice and when that aspect works in a band, then we are one step in the right direction. The band is playing modern Melodic Metal, with clean memorable choruses and instrumentally speaking a Progressive Metal ish sound. There's not so much room for endless guitarsolo's, so the main focus is definitely delivering catchy tunes with melodies that stick in your head and they do that very well during the 10 included tracks, with as highlights Sleep, Safety dwells, Dear Ancestry and 99c Redemption. Highly recommended band to check out at: https://www.facebook.com/cicconeritchie

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)

TRAGIK 'PATH OF DESTRUCTION (INDEPENDENT/USA IMPORT)

If there’s one musician out there who keeps doing and living his own dream, without taking a different musical path, it is multi-instrumentalist Phil Vincent from Riverside, USA. For about 20 years now he has released new albums almost every single year and the latest one is an album titled Path of destruction under the bandname Tragik. The pictures of the naked lady on the CD covers are a little bit too much I think, because that might give you a wrong impression, but never judge music on the artwork alone. As expected, no changes and once again nice clean 80s inspired Melodic Hardrock in the Dokken, Ratt and Scorpions direction. Look At me Now, All The Time In the World and especially Lake Of Tears (his longest track ever, clocking in on 17 minutes!) are the highlights this time and anyone who is familiar with Phil’s music will know what to expect from the man’s latest effort Path of destruction. More at: http://www.philvincent.com

(Points: 7.6 out of 10)

HILLARY REYNOLDS BAND 'THE MILES BEFORE US' (POLYMATH/INDEPENDENT/USA IMPORT)

Out of Boston, USA comes the Hillary Reynolds Band, a band formed around Hillary Reynolds, who plays piano and mandolin besides singing. Together with Trevor Jarvis on cello/vocals, Connor Reese on guitars/pedal steel/vocals, Jeff Hale on drums/percussion/ukulele and Chris Mewhinney on electric and upright bass, they recorded a beautiful album titled The Miles Before Us. Musically speaking this outfit combines traditional American music styles, although they sound at times quite commercial actually, without becoming cheesy in a Lady Antebellum direction. Throw pieces of Folk, Country, American Pop/Rock, a dash of AOR and Bluegrass together, then you have the sound of the Hillary Reynolds Band. Beautiful melodic crystal clear and radio-ready songs can be heard from start to finish and along with spot-on vocalwork by Hillary, it is a perfect album to put on and listen to without touching the skip button. A song like Can't Let You Go is almost a pure AOR ballad and anyone who remembers the band Challenge or 1970s Heart, they will definitely love this act as well, because the sound is very similar, sorta laid-back semi-acoustic melodic aor/poprock, with a Folk/Country approach in the instrumental department. I Surrender (feat. Forrest O'Connor) is also a clear highlight on the album and what makes the band also such a strong act is the use of beautiful harmonyvocals, so in the end this is a highly recommended band! More info at: www.hillaryreynoldsband.combeautiful

(Points: 8.6 out of 10)

FREDDY AND THE PHANTOMS 'TIMES OF DIVISION' (TARGET/DENMARK IMPORT)

Shadows Across the Country is the second album of the Danish band Freddy and the Phantoms and as soon as the album starts with the song Times of division, it is clear that we are dealing with a high quality band here. They already played support to bands like The Eagles and Rick Springfield and I would not be surprised that Shadows Across the Country might become their breakthrough album. The band is playing modern yet retro 1970s sounding psychedelic heavy bluesrock which sits nicely between bands like Rival Sons, The Answer, Black Keys, Wolfmother and White Stripes. Highlights among the 10 included tracks are Times of Division, Borderline Blues, On the Sidewalk, No One to Blame and the excellent Storm on the Riverside. Although bluesrock orientated, at times Freddy and the Phantoms sound pretty heavy and I am quite convinced that with a bit of luck this band could become huge, judging mainly on their new album and the fact they have got a great lead singer in their lineup (Frederick Schnoor). Highly recommended to fans of mentioned bands and people who like classic late 1960s Power Rock (a la Cream, Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac and Jimi Hendrix Experience), so go check them out asap at: http://www.freddyandthephantoms.com

(Points: 8.6 out of 10)


SCHWARZ 'SCHWARZ'(POLYMATH/HUMMUS RECORDS/SWISS IMPORT)

Formed in 2013, the Swiss band Schwarz already releases their first album just one year later, but while listening it sounds as if they have been together for many years. The band is formed around two members of Monpetitponey, Romain Siegenthaler and Antoine Kaufmann (Static Frames) and the singer Danaé Leitenberg (Projet Virgile Crelier). Produced by Julien Fehlmann (The Ocean, The Rambling Wheels, etc…), the same titled debut album is filled with typical modern Dark Electro Pop/Rock (with an experimental approach) that sounds close to acts like Daughter, London Grammar, The XX, Lykke Li, Boy, Bat For Lashes… Although this might not sound so original at first, the band clearly has an own identity and fans of mentioned bands, songs like Lullaby, Echoes, Hide and May are a pleasure to listen to. Check out more at: www.hummusrecords.bandcamp.com

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)

BLACK DAWN 'UNTIL WE MEET' (BLUE PIE RECORDS/USA IMPORT)

Straight from the New York underground comes Black Dawn, an exciting Metalband with a 5-tracks counting album title Until we meet. Although the sound/production of the album is not of a high quality, the material is quite good and most impressive thing here is the superb singer Matt Kotten, who has got a fantastic pure Metal screaming voice, which can be heard right from the start during opener Upon your lips, but he is also able to sing more introvert if you listen to the start of next track I could never be. The music is a mix of various Metal styles, because we can hear influences from Pantera, Alice In Chains, Skid Row and Metallica, but a song like I could never be also reminds me a bit of Nevermore and even Psychotic Waltz. Open the gates is the best song here, with also strong biting guitarwork. This band has definitely potential, although at the moment it's especially thanks to their amazing singer, who can make this band huge in the future, but their guitarist Tom Kelly can also play some lovely solo's, so if only the sound/production quality of their future record improves, we can celebrate a sensational Metal release for sure. The major labels should invest their money in this band, because they might be a small town independent band with a little record now, I feel there is something in the air for Black Dawn in the near future, so go check them out at: www.blackdawn.net

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

AUDIO NATION 'WAIT IT OUT' (INDEPENDENT/ICELAND IMPORT)

Formed in 2012, the Icelandic band Audio Nation has a sort of own sound, which at first sounds like a stripped melodic rockband, with a sax and a violin here and there, but rocking enough to keep it interesting for the rockers among us. There's a touch of Bon Jovi for sure and I must say it sounds very impressive actually. The band has a very good lead singer (Gisli, who sings low-pitched most of the time) as well as great guitarwork (Gulli Falk), which combined works quite perfectly and the band's first CD Wait it out sounds really professional and for an Icelandic band, they sound as if they are coming out of the USA. It's a melodic laid-back style with a focus on catchy melodies and raw vocals, which makes it sound a bit like the dark and depressive 1990s, yet melodic enough for the melodic rockfans out there. Besides Bon Jovi, Alice In Chains, Golden Earring and Soundgarden are also clear influences, yet a little more polished in a Melodic Hardrockfriendly direction (Shinedown/Three Doors Down). Songs like Human kind, My grave and How thoughts change are very strong tunes that got all it takes to receive radio airplay. Do not miss this highly recommended band from Reykjavic, Iceland and go for more info to: http://www.audionation.is/

(Points: 8.4 out of 10)

DENNIS ADAMS 'DEMO CDR' (INDEPENDENT/USA IMPORT)

Very little info on this musician from Costa Mesa, California, but his 2002 release is now available again and despite it is already 13 years old by now, the music is still interesting to check out if you like 80s pop-sensible AOR. 4 songs are on this CDR and it's highlights are Tell me why, a nice 80s AOR ballad a la Starship, with nice guitarwork, and It's time to know now, which is the best song, as this is pure 80s midtempo Movie-AOR rocker a la Thowsen, Robert Tepper, John Parr, Rocky 4, Larry Greene and such, so a little hi-tech oriented, but without a doubt a remarkable strong tune with very impressive vocalwork. Man of freedom and Dreaming are both a little more laid-back, still 80s, but Pop inspired. Although the production could be better and overall the sound could be a little rockier and less 80s keyboard oriented, it definitely has it's charm, so fans of mentioned acts might find something of interest here. Sadly the package arrived only with a blank CDR, so no further info at this stage... 

(Points: 7.7 out of 10)


CHASING LANA 'IN A WORLD OF DISARRAY (INDEPENDENT/USA IMPORT)

Out of Melbourne, Australia comes Chasing Lana, a band with a modern Hardrocksound in the style of Alter Bridge, Stone Sour, Shinedown. What they do is of a very high level and their mini-album In A World Of Disarray is definitely highly recommended to fans of mentioned bands. The band is formed around singer/songwriter Dave Cutting and his brother Robbie Cutting on lead guitar, with Ash Hall on drums and Matt Simmons on bass. The catchy melodic modern rock in traditional American style sounds really impressive and all 4 songs are a pleasure to listen to. Perhaps not original, the band does it very well, so anyone into this modern Hardrocksound will absolutely love to hear their latest EP. More at: www.chasinglana.com and http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/chasinglana.

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

EOIN GLACKIN 'RAIN FINALLY CAME' (TULEEN MUSIC/IRELAND IMPORT)

Rain Finally Cameis the 2nd album by Eoin Glackin, an Irish singer/songwriter who follows the footsteps taken by Hozier and Damien Rice in the past few years. Eoin however is taking things a little more traditional, with some clear Irish Folk influences besides the typical singer-songwriter style of his mentioned fellow countrymen, but he also rocks from time to time, which makes him all together a very diverse musician. Ian Grimble (Manic Street Preachers, The Clash, Beth Orton) produced his debut Not lost, which was released by Sony Music in Ireland and already gave him a good start. Now it is time for much more in the shape of Rain Finally Came. The man has got a really strong voice, with a sorta Rock kinda vibe and an own identity, while the music is sometimes folksy, but quite rocking too actually, which was already mentioned and we can hear similarities to Bob Dylan and Jake Bugg of course. Among the album’s highlights are Last night in this town (a very strong semi rockballad) and Everyone is goin' (an uptempo folk-rocker a la John Fogerty). His current single Pretty Girls has received numerous BBC Local radio airplay and you can check out the video at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q8HkhG3sECY, because Eoin might become the next big Irish musician to breakthrough in the music business. More info at: www.eoinglackin.com

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)

MONSTER MONSTER 'CHRISTMAS IN LIVERPOOL' (INDEPENDENT/IRELAND IMPORT)

Monster Monster is a band from Dublin, Ireland, featuring two vocalists whom act as main duo actually, namely singer/songwriters Mick Stuart (who also plays guitar) and Riona Sally Hartman. They recorded a CD-single titled Christmas in Liverpool, which consists of a Christmas song and 2 regular tunes. It is a sort of dedication to Liverpool, a city which both are very much in love with and during last summer they decided to write a Christmas tune, which was even aired before the games Liverpool played this past Christmas, so they are now becoming a household name in Liverpool. Definitely a good way to promote your band! The music is quite strong modern day melodic pop/rock, with a sorta Florence and the Machine touch, especially during the beautiful song I am yours, which has an unusual drum rhythm and a crystal clear melodic chorus. Actually that song is really excellent and has got hit potency written all over, so let’s hope a radio station can pick this tune up as follow-up to the Christmas song. Final track Assassin somehow reminds me of Caro Emerald, so there's enough diversity in there as well. Anyway, check out all on Monster Monster at: https://www.facebook.com/MonsterMonsterMusic

(Points: 8.6 out of 10)

JUSTIN FRANCOEUR 'MOVING THROUGH UNIVERSES' (INDEPENDENT/USA IMPORT)

Out of Denver, USA comes Justin Francoeur, a very talented musician who released a great debut album titled Moving through universes. Justin has a calm 1970s kinda progressive rock voice if you know what I mean, while the music is sort of a mix of alternative pop, progressive pop and traditional piano-pop, sounding clean and melodic, reminding of a cross between Gino Vanelli, Peter Gabriel and Rufus Wainwright. Justin is a multi-instrumentalist, although on his album also several other Denver based musicians and even his father and sister are making guest appearances. Actually it is a very diverse record, because there are also rocking parts included, as well as laid-back moments and some jazz flavored material, so musically speaking an interesting record. Highlights are Illusion's end (a beautiful song a la Sting), The cold that is inside (a song with an own identity, sorta Rufus Wainwright ish, with a nice clear soul touch in his voice, somehow reminding me of Tony Hadley aka Spandau Ballet) and The show of incredible faces (lengthy tune which covers almost every music genre, impressive and challenging, for progressive music fans a very interesting tune!). He is already working on a second album, so go look him up asap at: http://www.justinfrancoeur.com/  

(Points: 8.1  out of 10)

THEM HOWLING BONES 'THEM HOWLING BONES' (INDEPENDENT/USA IMPORT)

Here we have a Garage-Bluesrock outfit from Los Angeles, California with a dirty sleazy raw sounding heavy bluesrock record that contains 4 tracks. The highlight is definitely Left For Dead and it's good to see that straight from the underground such bands appear on the horizon, because also Them Howling Bones has got something that might make them big if they get that lucky break. Go check them out at: http://themhowlingbones.com

(Points: 8.0  out of 10)

RICHARD HOLLEY 'BOND NEVER BROKEN' (INDEPENDENT/USA IMPORT)

American singer/songwriter Richard Holley sent me his 2nd album Bond never broken, which he recorded together with musicians John Campos, Rob Napoli, Paul Briscoe, Christen Marucci, and others. What we get to hear is quite poppy singer/songwriter pop/rock with a slightly own identity and vocally it is in a modest 70s singer/songwriter style, which sounds a bit like Jim Croce, Cat Stevens, James Stewart, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. The songs sound quite uplifting and this can also be seen in the videos for the songs Bond Never Broken and Hero Without a Gun. Although it sounds like a real independent record, it is honest and true and recommended to check out if you’re a fan of the mentioned acts. More at: www.richardholleymusic.com and http://www.cdbaby.com/Artist/RichardHolley

(Points: 7.5 out of 10)

WILL WALLNER AND VIVIEN VAIN 'THE BATTLE OF CLYST HEATH' (INDEPENDENT/USA IMPORT)

After British guitarist Will Wallner met Croatian singer Vivien Vain met in Los Angeles in 2010, they started to work on a project together, which resulted in a self titled debut album in 2012. The album featured guest musicians like Derek Sherinian, Carmine Appice, Jimmy Bain, Vinny Appice, Tony Franklin, Brian Tichy, Rudy Sarzo and Tony Carey. A few years later a new record is released and this time 8 songs are included on that follow-up The battle of clyst heath, which also features a few guest appearances, although this time drummer Giovanni Durst and former Yngwie Malmsteen bassist Bjorn Englen fill up the rhythm section on most of the songs. The album closes with The loner, which is a special tribute to guitarist Gary Moore featuring Gary's former bandmates Don Airey and Neil Murray alongside drummer Vinny Appice. Before that we can find a nice Classic Hardrock adventure, which reminds me a lot of Gary Moore in his 80s heydays and Brazen Abott. If we run through the tracklisting; Blade Runner (nice instrumental, Vangelis cover), The Wars Of The Roses (ok uptempo rocker, Gary Moore ish vocals), Visions Of Home (strong midtempo melodic rocker, with catchy chorus, lovin it!), Eye Of The Storm (ok uptempo rocker, vocals weaker), Black Moon (strong midtempo melodic rocker, with a catchy chorus, reminding somewhat of Michael Sweet somehow), You Won't Take Me Alive (ok uptempo rocker, vocals weaker, Rainbow meets Blue Murder) and The Battle Of Clyst Heath (Lana Lane ish epic slow tempo melodic heavy rocker). Although not every song is a classic, this is definitely a high quality album, which I can recommend to fans of Classic Hardrock in the Ritchie Blackmore/John Sykes/Gary Moore guitar school, which you can check out at: www.wallnervain.com

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)

WUNDERNAUT AND LESS LOVE'PARADIGMS IN THE DESIGN' (LACK PRO RECORDS/USA IMPORT)

Wondernaut and Less Love are actually 2 bands, which is clear when you listen to their album Paradigms In The Design, because especially the use of a male and female singer on various songs and the fact that 10 different musicians from several parts in the USA are involved, that gives the band a very rich diverse sound. The best comparison for this Oklahoma based band is probably White Stripes, with strong female vocals (coming from various singers by the way!) and somewhat weaker male vocals. Fleetwood Mac meets Sonic Youth is a description which was mentioned in the band’s biography and indeed some of the material is laid-back and beautiful in a Fleetwood Mac 1970s kinda direction (If You (U.K. Surf)), while a tune like Lollygagging is a great raw Garage rocker. The absolute highlight however is Mountains in the sky (calmer pop/rock/aorish). This is an interesting project, which is very diverse and then I have not even talked about a few songs that show electronic and quirky poprock influences, while also a couple of songs are singer/songwriter based. This diversity could make them bigger, so go check them out at: http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/paradigmsinthedesign

(Points: 8.1 out of 10)

 

BROTHER GRUESOME 'MUTUALLY ASSURED DESTRUCTION' (LACK PRO RECRDS/USA IMPORT)

Brother Gruesome from Oklahoma City is a band formed around Todd Jackson on vocals and guitar and Levi Watson on drums. The five song EP Mutually assured destruction released by Lackpro Records consists of tracks from the band’s nine song self released LP (of the same title) which will be available later this year. The band’s sound is nice Garage Rock underground orientated, sorta Nirvana circa Bleach style during Ex Oh Ex, but a song like More celebrities is a little more melodic. However, obviously Brother Gruesome is 1990s Grunge based and you can check them out at: www.brothergruesome.com

(Points: 7.3 out of 10)

NIKO LORRAINE 'FEAST OR FAMINE' (INDEPENDENT/USA IMPORT)

Now here we have an incredible singer/songwriter/guitarist from Houston, Texas. She is called Niko Lorraine and was kind enough to sent me her album Feast or famine. 15 songs are included and the music is a mix of heavy rock with Jimi Hendrixish guitar riffs, bluesy rock and a sort of acoustic tingled Tracy Chapman style singer-songwriter. Especially the song Follow my voice is a beautiful song that sounds dangerously close to the legendary Tracy Chapman. On the other hand, she rocks from time to mind for sure, with the groovy rockers A brief pause and So far. If Jimi Hendrix and Tracy Chapman would go on jammin', this could be the result. More info at: http://www.reverbnation.com/nikolorraine7

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)

GHOSTRAIN 'EULOLOGY FOR THE LIVING' (BACKYARD RECORDS/USA IMPORT)

Formed way back in the late 80s, the Atlanta, Georgia based band Ghostrain had their fifteen minutes of fame already in 1989 when they recorded a demo at John Keane's famous studios, which once saw R.E.M. recording their music. Although Ghostrain never really made it big, they sorta made a comeback recently and Eulogy for the living is the band's second album. The music has a strong 1970s vibe, which can already be heard during the Classic Rock opener Let's rock and roll, but the band sounds at their best during the more uplifting rockers such as the awesome Suit and a tie. They remind me a bit of Blue Oyster Cult crossed with Dire Straits, but then with an alternative approach, so Ghostrain is definitely an interesting band to check out. The band even touches AOR in a Southern friendly 38 Special kinda direction on the catchy rocker Push and shove, which sounds like an anthemic rocker that will go down very well live on stage. There's also influences of Folk, a little Country and Heartland Rock included, so a nice traditional American Pop/Rock album, of which you can check out more at: http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/ghostrain

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)

SUNUP 'SARATOGA SUNRISE' (SUNFLARE SONGS/USA IMPORT)

Sunup was a contemporary folk/rock band from upstate NY and actually they released this album back in 1995 and now 20 years later it is available again, because it has been reissued. Saratoga Sunrise is musically speaking a very nice relaxing Westcoast Pop/Rock and Singer-Songwriter Folkpop orientated album, which reminds me a lot of acts like Venice, Firefall, Jackson Browne, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Dan Fogelberg... 18 songs are included on the album and there's a lot of great material included here. The music is very laid/back, but quite beautiful and fans of mentioned acts will absolutely love this act. Songs like Kings and Queens and The sea in your eyes are lovely Westcoast/Singer/Songwriter songs that sound as strong as the day they were recorded back in the mid 1990s. It´s a pity they don´t exist anymore, because they are  a great underrated  band from the past, which fits perfectly in the tradition of mentioned bands. More at: http://www.sunflaresongs.com/sunup-reissues-1995-release-of-saratoga-sunrise/

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)


MARSHALL MANUEL 'LOST AGAIN' (SUNFLARE SONGS/USA IMPORT)

Marshall Manuel is a singer/songwriter/guitarist with a nice EP release that consists of melodic pop/rock that somehow reminds me of Bernie LaBarge, if anyone actually can remember him. If Donnie Iris would also play his songs at a less rockier way, then it could also sound like this album, so all together this album sounds a bit like early 80s US/Canuck Powerpop in a modern calmer semi-acoustic direction. Besides Marshall, the other musicians on this album are Ray Boss (drums) and Adam Ciardelli (bass) and I must admit that the 3 songs are a pleasure to listen to. Hopefully a full album in the near future. Go check out Marshall at: http://www.sunflaresongs.com/marshall-westlake-manuel-artist/

(Points: 8.1 out of 10)

AUDUBON SAVANT 'POOCHMAN' (INDEPENDENT/USA IMPORT)

Out of Illinois, USA comes multi-instrumentalist Joe Moran, who is actually Audubon Savant. He did everything on his own on the 2nd album he released and I must say, it does sound as if a full band recorded the album, so Joe did a splendid job. Poochman is a diverse record, which contains a bit of everything, yet Singer-Songwriter, Folk and Celtic Music influences are clearly hearable here, but then with a quirky rock approach, yet acoustic driven or semi-electric so to speak, with Joe's vocals sounding dangerously close to David Bowie, especially in a song like Irish spring. Actually throughout the 10 included songs, one can notice all kinds of similarities, such as Robyn Hitchcock, Billy Bragg, REM, Tom Petty, Bob Dylan and such. Interesting bio as well, a part was hand-written by Joe himself, which is always cool in these digital days. Go check out this quite original singer-songwriter at: www.audubonsavant.com

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

FRACTAL CONTROL 'DISCONNECTION EQUALS FREEDOM' (INDEPENDENT/USA IMPORT)

Not so much info on this band/project from Ohio, USA, except that this is a very nice instrumental album, which is a must-have to check out if you are into instrumental Progressive Metal, because the guitarwork is quite phenomenal. The project is based around multi-instrumentalist Mike Louttit, who did everything on his own here and as already mentioned, he can surely play the guitar at a very high level, so that makes the album worth recommending to all the fans of high-class guitarwork. John Petrucci, Joe Satriani and all those Progressive Metal guitarists will definitely like this a lot, so make sure not to miss this talented musician from a small town called New Middletown in Ohio. More at: https://soundcloud.com/fractalcontrol

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)

JOHN MAMONE 'ORDER AND CHAOS' (INDEPENDENT/CANADA IMPORT)

I have a big box in which all the postal mail with CDs disappears and then you sometimes find something that has been in that box for way too long and Canadian John Mamone apparently was in that box for almost 20 months (!). Now listening to his album Order and chaos, that seems like a huge pity, because without a doubt, he is gifted musician. His voice is truly superb, a true Rock/Metal shouter and the material on the album is high class Melodic Hardrock/Metal, with amazing guitar solo's by Kelly Kerreliuk. 12 songs are included on the album and John definitely knows how to write and sing like a Classic Melodic Rock/Metal musician. He reminds me a bit of Ian Parry, while the material grabs back to 1980s Melodic Metal, but also with a touch of underground 1990s Melodic Metal (remember the bands Millenium and Teer?). Unlived, Order and chaos, Mastermind and Magnus tempestas are just a few examples of fantastic songs that remind me of bands like Heir Apparent, Leatherwolf, Rail and especially Lizzy Borden, so this is pure Classic 80s US Metal actually. John is a veteran musician from Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, who has been in the music business since 1988, so he comes out of the classic metal era, which is clearly hearable on his highly recommended album! You don't want to miss this gem, so for more go to: http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/johnmamone5

(Points: 8.7 out of 10)


KAT PACE 'SURVIVOR EP' (INDEPENDENT/USA IMPORT)

Kat Pace is a New York based singer/songwriter and she was kind enough to sent me a 3-songs counting EP-CD titled Survivor. Included songs are Survivor, Where to find me and Broken heart breaking and musically speaking we are heading into typical modern day radiofriendly pop/rock with a dash of old school AOR and a tiny bit of singer/songwriter class. Although it is just a short EP, it shows that this could well become something very interesting in the future when a full-lengthy is released to the public, so go check out the name Kat Pace at: https://www.facebook.com/KatPaceMusic and http://katpace.com/

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)

HAROLD MIKE SIZEMORE 'THAT OLD MAN AND ME' (INDEPENDENT/USA IMPORT)

Out of Cincinnati, Ohio comes Harold Mike Sizemore, a strong singer/songwriter with a superb melodic voice and a bunch of great songs on his latest album That old man and me. He played in a band called Strange Acquaintance at the end of the 1990s, but eventually ended up as a solo act throughout the 2000s. The material he creates sits nicely between Jackson Browne and a stripped American southern rock and roll band (Allman Brothers Band, Lynyrd Skynyrd), while here and there sounding like a true Americana record. Highlights are Hell for Certain and Dark Haired Young Dream, but actually each song is enjoyable to listen to. Singer/songwriter at it’s very best is what you basically get hear and especially the lyrics are interesting, because Harold lost his father to a heart attack on November 1, 2009 and he spent the next 5 years constructing a musical tribute to his father, which is now available in the form of this beautiful record That old man and me. Without a doubt, a must-have for any fan of real and honest quality music. Check out all on him at: http://www.haroldmikesizemore.com/bio.html

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)

VICTORIA CELESTINE 'BACK HOME IN SAN ANTONE' (INDEPENDENT/USA IMPORT)

Half French/Half Texan singer/songwriter Victoria Celestine started very young making music and now at the age of 18 she sounds like she is a mature woman who could be among the big girls already with her new album Back home in San Antone. She plays piano and guitar, while her voice has developed quite a lot since her previous recording. The music is a mix of singer/songwriter, pop/rock and some jazzy sounds, sorta like Kate Melua and Birdy. It’s always hard to predict, but Victoria could become easily huge if she has that lucky break. No matter which song you are listening too, Deep Down Inside, Always or Not Here to Hurt You, it all sounds very professional and of major label level, so anyone into the female sound of today, with a strong jazzy approach, here comes what could become the next big lady. More at: http://victoriacelestine.com 

(Points: 8.4 out of 10)

BC SAM 'NIGHT CROSSING' (FLORA AND FAUNA MUSIC/USA IMPORT)

BC Sam stands for Brian Cutler (vocals, guitar) and Samantha Thoe-Schechter (vocals), a duo whom sent me their debut album Night crossing, which was actually already released way back in 2010, but nevertheless they deserve a review, because what we get to hear is high quality material. Brian is a well-seasoned musician who played and recorded with several other bands before, while Samantha is the upcoming singer. Together they create beautiful melodic singer/songwriter poprock and sometimes, such as during the beautiful Mississippi Mudbone and Little Did She Know, their sound could be described as acoustically stripped aor/poprock, with excellent female vocals. Samantha’s voice is really stunning and the two of them together make a great duo, which sounds as good as for example Common Linnets. Check them out at: http://www.bcandsam.com

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)


DOT LEGACY 'DOT LEGACY' (SET A LIGHT/UK IMPORT)

Out of France comes Dot Legacy, a band which is playing experimental Post-Rock with some Stoner-Rock and Psychedelic Rock influences, but at times they could also be described as Noise Rock. Nirvana, Pixies and Smashing Pumpkins come to mind while listening to their album. Damien Quintard/Lead Vocals – Bass, Arnaud Merckling/Guitar - Keyboard - Back Vocals, John Defontaine/Guitar - Back Vocals and Romain Mottier/Drums - Back Vocals are doing things quite nicely, although it is clearly the band’s start in the music business. Nevertheless, altrockfans will probably like this a lot. More at: http://www.dotlegacyband.com 

(Points: 7.5 out of 10)

KAISAS 'DEGITALIZE' (SLEASZY RIDER RECORDS/FRANCE IMPORT)

Greek guitarist and bassist Babis Kaisas formed the band Kaisas a few years ago, released a debut album in 2011 titled Unify and he was smart enough to use a English native well-seasoned singer to join him and on that first album this was ex-TNT / SHY vocalist Tony Mills, while on the new album Degitalize he was able to get Heavens Edge singer Mark Evans on board. The music of Kaisas is 1980s influenced big American Melodic Rock. Besides 11 originals, also a cover of Cuttin' Crew's classic (I Just) Died In Your Arms is featured, but we could have lived without that tune, because nothing beats the original. Anyway, the result is a nice record that musically speaking touches the classic melodic hardrocksound of Heaven’s Edge, Dokken, Valentine and Firehouse. The production could have been a bit better and the songs are not as sensational as the aforementioned classic melodic hardrockbands, but songs like Rockin’ In the Digital World, Poisoned Heart, Wounded and Alone and The Highlander are nevertheless nice to play and sing-a-long as if Hair Metal never died. Check it out for yourself at: http://www.kaisas.sitefree.gr

(Points: 7.7 out of 10)

PETER GALPERIN 'A DISPOSABLE LIFE' (JETTY RECORDS/USA IMPORT)

The American singer/songwriter Peter Galperin was raised by his Russian classical violinist and Canadian cellist mother, while growing up in the Grunge capital of the world, Seattle. Besides being a singer/songwriter in his own right, Peter is also a multi-instrumentalist (guitar, violin, piano, mandolin, bass) and he worked with producer/saxophonist Robert Aaron (who has worked with David Bowie, Talking Heads, Laurie Anderson, Wayne Kramer (MC5)) during his time in New York where he lives and works since the early 1980s. Since the mid 90s he started to mix Afro/Latin rhythms with rock melodies, while lyrically injects a dose of dry humor. He already released 3 CDs so far and A disposable life is one of the albums on which you can hear the diversity of music styles, which consists of 80s UK New Wave ish (such as during the hit potential tune There's No Future (Simple Minds meets David Bowie), singer/songwriter with exotic rhythms (Paul Simon meets Leonard Cohen) and even some progressive pop/rock. There’s something for everyone here and therefore recommended to check out this talented musician at: http://www.petergalperin.com and http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/petergalperin2

(Points: 7.8  out of 10)

VESPERS NINE 'TRUE STORY' (INDEPENDENT/GLASS ONYON PR/USA IMPORT)

Wow!!!!!!!!!!! From out of nowhere comes the new sensational band Vespers Nine, featuring an amazing vocalist called John F. Simon. Combined with a superstrong band backing him up (including a female bassist who can also sing very well) and a dozen of excellent tunes, I can easily say that this is the way I want my Melodic Rock to sound like. They hail from South Florida and of course they play the AOR/Melodic Rock in the exact same way it sounded back in the late 1980s and early 1990s, because bandnames like Biloxi, Know Illusion, Slyboyz, Firehouse, The Storm, Roxus and such pass by while listening to their debut album True story. So you might not call this band very original, but if it is done at such a high level as on this album, we can easily conclude that Vespers Nine is a highly recommended band to any AOR/Melodic Rockfan out there. If the production could improve on a future album, then we might call them one of the finest discoveries in ages. They also remind me a bit of the mid 90s AOR/Melodic Rocksound of bands like Teer, CITA, Talon, etc. Songs like Mystery, Forever yours, Waiting for you and the superb cover of the Mr. Mister classic Broken wings are a wet dream for the fans of ultra-melodic catchy hookladen AOR in the style of all the mentioned bands. You absolutely do not want to miss out this gem! Check them out at: http://vespersnine.com

(Points: 8.8 out of 10)


LUNDEN REIGN 'AMERICAN STRANGER' (INDEPENDENT/GLASS ONYON PR/USA IMPORT)

Only 2 years ago the band Lunden Reign was formed by Nikki Lunden (Lead Singer, Bass, Keyboards, Composer) & Lora G Espinoza-Lunden (Composer, Guitarist, Keyboards) and already now they release their sensational full-length debut album American stranger. The band is completed by Matthew Denis on bass, Steve Ornest on guitar and Morgan Young on drums and the 5 of them are situated in Los Angeles, but they recorded their first album at Abbey Road Studios in London and Capital Records in Hollywood. The album was mastered by Grammy winning Evren Goknar and the artwork was done by the legendary Ioannis. Influences come from Steely Dan, The Beatles, Fleetwood Mac, Manic Street Preachers, Muse, Into The Presence, Sheryl Crow, Jimmy Page, George Harrison, U2, Nirvana, Joan Jett, Neil Young, Heart, Stevie Nicks and such. 10 songs are included and songs like Love In Free Fall, The Savage Line, When love lies and It’s about time (pure AOR actually!) are very impressive melodic rocktunes with a sorta progressive rock approach, like Rush meets Heart meets Lana Lane. The band describe themselves as a big beat progressive rockband, but I would rather see them as a melodic rockband with progressive rock influences and a soul touch. Without a doubt, we are dealing here with something very interesting and a band to watch out for. More at: http://lundenreign.com/ and https://youtube.com/LundenReign/ and https://facebook.com/LundenReign/

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)

MIRIAM JONES 'BETWEEN GREEN AND GONE' (INDEPENDENT/HEMIFRAN)

Singer/songwriter Miriam Jones was born in Vancouver, Canada, but ended up recording her latest album Between green and gone in Oxford, UK. Together with Simon Edwards (Fairground Attraction, Billy Bragg, David Gray) as producer/mixer/bassist and playing several other instruments, Miriam recorded a lovely record, which musically speaking is typical American orientated pop/rock with an Americana approach instrumentally speaking, while vocally she has a deep soul/blues vibrato in her voice. Highlights on the album are Unknown (a beautiful song, calmer poprock with even a slight westcoast/aor touch), the bluesy pop/rocker Don't be hard on me, which has an Americana beat in it, and Float (a midtempo radio-ready poprocker, which is quite close to Ilse De Lange and Bonnie Raitt). All together not really original, but who cares if it is done so well by Miriam, with her mixture of 1970s singer-songwriter folk meets catchy pop/rock melodies and a bluesy voice, backed up by an Americana beat, so it’s all included to make Between green and gone a recommended piece! More at http://www.miriamjones.com

(Points: 8.4 out of 10)

NAAMA KATES 'SOULED' (INDEPENDENT/HEMIFRAN)

Souled is the 3rd album of singer/songwriter Naama Kates from Los Angeles. She recorded it together with producer/engineer/multi-instrumentalist Cyrus Melchor, guitarist GE Stinson, drummers Rich West, Jason Pipkin and Alfred DiMayo, cellist Joseph Harvey, horn player Danny Levin and recording engineer Scott Fraser. The material sounds quite modern and electronic, in a same way we have seen from acts like Daughter, Florence and the Machine and Haim for example, although Naama is a little more experimental and sometimes even reminds me musically of Neneh Cherry. It is clear that Naama does not want to be categorized and that is perhaps the best way to describe her music that takes a bit of everything, Electro, Jazz, Pop, Rock, Folk, etc. Something which in the past was done in the 1980s by acts like Luba, Dalbello and Sixiou and the Banshees, but Naama really has her own way of doing this. Her voice is really great and I feel that live she might be a very interesting artist to check out. In the meantime, take a look at her site: www.naamakates.com

(Points: 8.1 out of 10)

DALI'S WATCH 'BREAKFAST SERIAL'(RAVENHURST RECORDS/USA IMPORT)

Out of Maryland, USA comes Dali’s Watch, a band playing a mixture of alternative, progressive and experimental rock/hardrock. They are a three piece band, formed in 2012 and consisting of Mic Wynne - vocals/guitars/keys; Michael Galway - bass guitars; and Gary Venable – drums. Breakfast serial is their debut record, which is a very interesting album that contains influences of Rush, Queens Of The Stone Age and Porcupine Tree. Especially during the instrumental passages (such as during Pandemic), they remind quite a lot of Porcupine Tree. Highlights are definitely Without a Whisper (great prog/stoner rock) and Breakfast Serial (close to Rush), but from start to finish, this band shows it’s professional skills and there’s not a single weak moment to be found here, so without a doubt, they are a highly recommended band. The album closes by the way with a nice cover of Duran Duran's Ordinary World. All together, do not miss this band and for more info go to: http://www.daliswatch.com
             
(Points: 8.2 out of 10)


LAYNE SMITH 'STAND STRONG' (INDEPENDENT/USA IMPORT)

Nashville recording singer/songwriter Layne Smith is a very talented musician, who is showing a great classic mix of all the American traditional music, which means combining elements of Country, Bluegrass, Gospel, Jazz/Blues and Americana, with pop melodies and most importantly, excellent vocalwork. She wrote all of the songs by herself and I wonder how long it will take before artists like (Sara) Layne Smith get more attention than the overrated and completely uninteresting Taylor Swift (wannabees). She has a superstrong voice and delivers material that takes us right back to the 1970s when country offered so many interesting cross-over acts, whom also combined the country with singer-songwriter pop melodies, so then you have to think about legendary artists like Lynn Anderson, Reba McIntire, Juice Newton, Louise Tucker, etc.  If we have a look at the best songs among the 10 included, the best ones are the jazzy bluesy americana tune Jordan River, the country-aorish God Went With Him, the pure country 70s styled Sara's Field and the uptempo country tune Take It Back. Another lady to keep our eyes wide open for, more at: http://saralaynesmith.webs.com/

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)

THE DOVES 'DAY ONE' (INDEPENDENT/USA IMPORT)

The Doves from Macon, Georgia is a husband and wife duo W. Wade and Trena Stooksberry, whom deliver a nice underground ish sounding album titled Day one. There’s a mixture of styles going on here, because for example it starts with a singer/songwriter piece titled Day, followed by an alternative rocksong (Angeline) and then we are surprised by a sorta 80s new wave tune titled Some More Than Others. And so it goes all throughout the album, 80s altrock, new wave, a little grunge and some singer-songwriter, as if Nick Cave, Iggy Pop, REM, Talking Heads and Nirvana are thrown together on 1 record, so it is recommended to fans of alternative music for sure. Check more at: https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Doves/178429435549516 and https://www.cdbaby.com/cd/thedoves22

 (Points: 7.2 out of 10)

ROGER GOMEZ 'BEHIND CLOUD NINE' (INDEPENDENT/AUSTRALIA IMPORT)

Out of Perth, Australia comes singer/songwriter Roger Gomez, who was kind enough to sent me his first album Behind cloud nine. Musically speaking we are heading into pure early 1980s catchy AOR/Poprock in the style of Rick Springfield, Rick Cua, Jimmy Harnen, Bernie LaBarge, Michael Zee, Martin Briley, Eddie Schwartz, Bryan Adams, etc. It's done very well, with uptempo rockers, such as the great opener Mondays guide, which happens to be the best song on the album, and also room for semi/midtempo rockers and here and there a ballad (Right place right time). Not as good as for example Jamie Alimorad, but in the same style, so if you're starting to become interested in checking this out, then go to: https://soundcloud.com/rogergomez and https://www.facebook.com/roger.gomez.503

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

CONSIDER THE SOURCE 'WORLD WAR TRIO (PART 1)' (INDEPENDENT/USA IMPORT)

Consider The Source is a trio playing high quality instrumental progressive rock and their latest EP is titled World War Trio (Part 1) – Put Another Rock In That Bag. It is quite experimental what we get to hear and comparisons to Ozric Tentacles and Porcupine Tree are very clear, but the bandmembers each do really amazing things which make them quite original and therefore it is actually very hard to compare this act to any other band out there. They were formed in 2004, consisting of Gabriel Marin (fretless double-neck guitar), John Ferrara (bass) en Jeff Mann (drums, percussion) and already toured with acts like King Crimson Projekt, Kris Myers (Umphrey’s McGee), Panzerballet, Freak Kitchen and much more. Every time you play this album you will discover something new, so check it out for yourself at: http://considerthesourcemusic.com/ and https://www.facebook.com/CTSmusic and http://considerthesourcemusic.bandcamp.com/

 (Points: 8.1 out of 10)

ROLL IT OVER 'DAWNING ON THE RED STREETS' (INDEPENDENT/USA IMPORT)

The American band Roll It Over has got that typical high quality American sound, which made bands like Alter Bridge, Live, Foo Fighters and Shinedown so big the past 10-15 years, combining elements of all traditional American rock/hardrock styles. 1970s classic rock guitar riffs, 1980s melodic rock melodies, a dark post-grunge 1990s down-tuned guitarsound and a modern rock production, because that is basically what a lot of new American bands are doing these days and Roll It Over is no exception to that rule, as they are doing this at a very high level. The production of their EP Dawning on the red streets is also of a major label level, so fans of mentioned bands can easily check out this band. Despite it might not all sound very original, it is done really good and especially Bullet In Your Soul is a fantastic semi melodic rockballad. Will Sims is the band’s lead singer and he has got a terrific pure Rock voice (just listen to Highway one), which makes Roll It Over even more interesting. Without a doubt, this is a band to look out for in the future, more at: www.rollitover.com

(Points: 8.4 out of 10)

LAWSON GARRETT 'WHOLE EARTH' (INDEPENDENT/USA IMPORT)

Singer/Songwriter Lawson Garrett comes out of California and has been in the music business for quite a few decades now, playing in the 1980s in the legendary Glamrockband Taz and several other bands. Now he is solo delivering albums, with whole earth being the latest one. Clearly rooted in 1960s singer-songwriter style with a gritty rock approach, Lawson sounds like a mixture between Randy Newman and Neil Young. 14 songs are included and the highlights are Hide and Seek, Those Days, That's Alright and Shining Eyes. More info at: http://www.lawsongarrett.com and e-mail him at: contact@lawsongarrett.com

 

(Points: 7.8 out of 10)

 

ABANDONED STARS 'FRAGMENTS' (OUERGH RECORDS/UK IMPORT)

Formed in Edinburg, Scotland in July 2010, the band Abandoned Stars released their debut EP Opening act in 2011, which we also reviewed back then and now they unleash their first full-length album entitled Fragments. Musically speaking they are playing a mixture of progressive metal, heavy metal, progrock and melodic hardrock, which they are doing very well, with vocally a singer who can sing both raw and clean, while the material reminds me of a mixture between Threshold, Angra and Pretty Maids. This is high quality stuff for sure and together with an impressive production and lovely guitarwork, this new album might bring them more fame and fortune in the prog/power metal world. Highlights are Neverwhere, Betrayed by blood (faster, almost pure power metal) and Lost, although the finest song is Too close to you (progrock ballad with a lovely guitarsolo). Definitely a recommended album to fans of mentioned bands. More at: www.abandonedstars.co.uk

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

JOHNNY FONTANE AND THE RIVALS 'LEMME TELL YA!' (WANTED MEN RECORDINGS/ITALY IMPORT)

4 Sicilian halfbrothers whom are active in Switzerland, that is basically what Johnny Fontane & the Rivals is all about. Their debut album Lemme tell ya! was mixed by Grammy Award winner Adam Hawkins from L.A. (known for his work with Gary Clark, Keith Urban, Pink,etc.) and what we get to hear is high quality bluesrock. The fact that none-other than guitarist Vinnie Moore (UFO, Alice Cooper) makes a guest appearance is creating something of an advantage for this new band, but nevertheless they did not make a lasting impression somehow after listening to the complete album. It all starts quite sensational actually, with the excellent bluesy hardrocker Black Cadillac, which contains superb guitarwork and reminds me a lot of Joe Bonamassa, However, the following songs are more in the category of nicely done, but nowhere on the other 11 tracks they reach the high level of that opening cut. Still, it all sounds pretty damn good and fans of quality bluesy rock with biting guitarwork, they can easily check out this lot, although I do feel that they can deliver a stronger album in the future. For a debut however, this is a nice start, so go for more info to: www.johnnyfontane.com and www.johnnyfontane/facebook.com

 (Points: 8.0 out of 10)

ROBERT JON AND THE WRECK 'GLORY BOUND' (TEENAGE HEAD MUSIC/USA IMPORT)

Here we have an absolute sensational band from Southern California. They are called Robert Jon & the Wreck and their line-up consist of Robert Jon Burrison (Vocals/Guitar), Kristopher Butcher (Vocals/Guitar), Andrew Espantman (Drums), Steve Maggiora (Vocals/Keys) and Nick Phakpiseth (Bass). They started in February 2013 and already 6 months later they released their debut ep Rhythm of the Road, which was produced by Warren Huart (The Fray, Aerosmith), engineered by Philip Allen (Adele), and mastered by Robert Vosgien (Smashing Pumpkins, No Doubt) at Swing House Studios in Hollywood. And now they are releasing their first full-length album titled Glory bound, which was once again produced by Warren Huart (The Fray, Aerosmith), but this time at the legendary Sunset Sound Studios (Led Zeppelin, Prince, The Doors) in Hollywood. What we get to hear is a sensational tight all-American Rocksound, which fits nicely between bands like Rival Sons, The Answer, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Black Crowes, Blackberry Smoke and Blackstone Cherry, so there’s a typical mix of Classic Rock, Southern Rock and Hardrock, with a slight bluesy guitar riff touch and some amazing vocalwork. All together this sounds like the next big thing. Led Zeppelin, Kingdom Come and Blue Murder are 3 more bands that come in mind while listening to this lovely debut record and it is without any doubt that this is a record that will end up pretty high in the end-of-the-year lists of 2015 when it comes down to best Classic Rockalbums of this very year. From start to finish, this is the way we want to hear our rock, perfectly balanced in both the instrumental and vocal departments, so anyone with rock heart should check out this band a.s.a.p., because they might definitely become the next big thing, judging on this sensational first record Glory bound. More at: http://www.robertjonandthewreck.com/#!about/c1ypj

(Points: 8.8 out of 10)

MEDUSA'S CHILD 'DAMNATIO MEMORIAE' (BLACK BOARD RECORDS/PURE STEEL RECORDS)

Originally released way back in 2009, German label Pure Steel Records re-released the 3rd album Damnatio memoriae. Musically speaking this is pure classic 80s Teutonic Metal like only the Germans are able to produce, but in this case it's a Swiss band. Think of a mixture between Veto, Gravestone, No Trouble, Accept, Priest and Axxis, then you're very close. Highlight is the midtempo fist in the air shouter Destiny which has Axxis written all over the place. If you're a fan of classic 80s Metal, then you definitely have to check out this band at: www.medusaschild.com

(
Points: 7.5 out of 10)

ERNEST TROOST 'O LOVE' (TRAVELIN SHOES RECORDS/HEMIFRAN)

Here we have another interesting singer/songwriter who is creating new songs in the style of old spirits. Think of a mixture between Townes Van Zandt, Steve Earle and Bob Dylan and you’re quite close. Ernest Troost is the name and he combines elements of Americana, Folk, Blues and Rock on his latest album O Love. Highlights among the 13 included tracks are the calmer singer/songwriter pieces The Last to Leave  and Bitter Wind, the uptempo folky rockers Weary Traveler and O Love (a la Jake Bugg) and the bluesy Storm Comin'. Not really original you might say, but done very well and featuring great vocals by Ernest. Check more at: http://ernesttroost.com

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

CHINA SKY '2' (ESCAPE MUSIC)

27 years ago... there was a band called China Sky, a typical 80s AOR/Melodic Rockband which was destined to become the next big thing, but despite all its efforts and the support of a major label and a production team which featured Grammy winning Bee Gees producer Karl Richardson, composer Frank Wildhorn and a young Bob Marlette, who later went on working with Black Sabbath, Marilyn Manson, Seether, Shinedown, and millions more, sadly a few weeks after the release of their same titled debut album, the band was no more. We had to wait 27 years before they would return with something new, which has now happened in the shape of ‘2’, which is released through Escape Music. Although the band’s debut featured some amazing Power AOR Ballads, the AOR Cult status it had all those years was a bit too much praise, because that album was just another typical strong product of the 80s AOR era, nothing more, nothing less. Journey meets Survivor, but then with a slight Southern Rock touch due to the fact the band came from Southern Rock capital Jacksonville in Florida. Anyway, so what about this new album. Well, it is actually sounding way better than the polished thin sounding overrated debut, because it rocks much more. Songs like You're not alone, I believe in you (SUPERB!!! a la The SignJoe Lynn Turner meets Red Dawn), Enemy and I'm a survivor are perfect pieces of uptempo AOR with the classic 80s spirit, featuring strong vocalwork (Ron Perry), biting guitarsolo's (Steve Wheeler), beautiful melodies, catchy hooks and all together just pure AOR the way it should sound. Although The richest man in the world is a nice AOR ballad, but as mentioned earlier on, in that category the debut was stronger, but nevertheless, China Sky surprised me here with a very good and highly recommended album. Recommended to fans of early 80s AOR/Melodic Rock in the Roxus, Signal, Shadow King, Alias and such. More at: https://www.facebook.com/chinaskymusic and http://www.chinaskyrocks.com

(Points: 8.7 out of 10) 

IMPERA 'EMPIRE OF SIN' (ESCAPE MUSIC)

Drummer J.K. Impera returns with the 3rd album as Impera, the Swedish all-star band/project he formed a few years ago. Once again we can enjoy some great typical 80s influenced melodic hardrock (a la Valentine, Heaven’s Edge, Dokken, Talisman…), perfectly provided by 4 established musicians, whom together played with a lot of well-known acts all over the world, because Impera consists of J.K. Impera – drums (Bruce Kulick, Graham Bonnet, Vinnie Vincent…), Tommy Denander  – guitar (Toto, Paul Stanley, Michael Jackson, Alice Cooper…), Matti Alfonzetti – vocals (Jagged Edge, Skintrade, Scott Gorham), Mats Vassfjord – bass (Vinnie Vincent, John Corabi). Songs like End Of The World, Never Enough, Thunder in your heart and Light In The Sky are just a few examples of the perfectly balanced melodic hardrocksound of Impera. There’s also thanks to the band’s legendary Swedish singer a strong typical 1980s Scandi melodic hardrock vibe that reminds a bit of Pretty Maids mixed with Treat. Fans of mentioned bands will be eager to check out this new Impera release!

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)

BRANT CROUCHER 'BLANCO COUNTRY LIGHTS' (WHITE CAT/HEMIFRAN)

Out of Houston, Texas comes singer/songwriter Brant Croucher and his debut album Black country lights is a sensational record in the world of singer/songwriter music. There’s elements of folk, country and Americana to be heard, but the key factor is the fact that Brant is a very strong vocalist. He sings at a low pitched level, with a country ish tone in his voice and after playing the album a few times, it becomes clear that he could easily become huge and reach the status of similar sounding singer/songwriters like Hozier, John Mayer, David Gray… Opener When You Come to Me is a great example of the wonderful smooth journey Brant is taking us into, which in this case is a folksy Americana direction. However, there’s more, such as Doing well and Theodora (both uptempo westcoast-country ish tunes with a shuffle and The Eagles kinda harmonies), Drink (Drink Drink) (a calm song, pure 70s singer/songwriter a la Jim Croce, James Taylor) and the uptempo more rocking piecesTime I Walk Away, Still the One, 84 Boxes (Kenny Chesney ish) and Joie de Vivre. He does also remind me a lot of John Fullbright, so who knows we might be looking at another American hero in the singer/songwriter world. Do not miss this talented singer/songwriter! More at: http://www.brantcroucher.com

(Points: 8.6 out of 10)

CHRISTINE ALBERT 'EVERYTHING'S BEUTIFUL NOW'(MOONHOUSE RECORDS/HEMIFRAN)

Together with her husband, multi-instrumentalist Chris Gage, singer/songwriter Christine Albert from Austin, Texas releases a great album that musically speaking will please the fans of Emmylou Harris, Mary Chapin Carpenter and Rosanne Cash. This is typical 1970s influenced calm singer-songwriter material that focuses on strong melodies and excellent clean vocalwork, making it sound very melodic and besides the wonderful cover of the Jackson Browne classic For A Dancer, the album has many highlights, although the finest is probably Flowers of the moon. Despite the fact that there are so many similar singer/songwriters out there, Christine shows that she is able to do it at a high level and should be heard by more people without any doubts! More at: http://www.christinealbert.com 

(Points: 8.3 out of 10) 

CARRIE CLARK AND THE LONESOME LOSERS 'BETWEEN THE BED SHEETS AND TURPENTINE' (RED BUG RECORDS/HEMIFRAN)

Already active for quite some time, but no breakthrough yet, which is strange, because Seattle based singer-songwriter Carrie Clark released her 4th album Between The Bedsheets & Turpentine and this album has got a lot of potential to make it in this world. The music is very diverse and contains elements of Folk, Jazz, Country, Rockabilly, Rock, Pop, Americana, Blues and everything in between. Carrie looks and sounds like the next big femme fatale and therefore it is remarkable she hasn’t made it big yet. The new album offers a lot of great diverse material and if Tom Waits, Leonard Cohen, Nina Simone, Imelda May, Caro Emerald and Pat Benatar would make a record together, it could end up sounding like this! If we have a quick run halfway the album, a song like What have we done is a great uptempo rocker, whileThe Night Before is a jazzy Caro Emerald type of tune, with a lot of hit potential. Then follows a nice calm piano piece titled Fade Away. Up next is the folk riddle with a shuffle, The Stranger, which has got all it takes to become a huge hit due to its catchy pop melodies. However, Carrie then turns the style once again and comes up with 2 great pure melodic rockballads that both feature a guitarsolo (It Burns and Down at my knees), so I guess you can say that this is a very diverse record and quite interesting. Check out more at: www.carrieclark.com

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)

MARK RIPP 'QUIET AGAIN' (INDEPENDENT/HEMIFRAN)

Out of Toronto, Canada comes singer/songwriter Mark Ripp, who already released a lot of albums during the past 25 years and now we can welcome his latest release entitled Quiet again. Musically speaking pure singer/songwriter Americana in the style of legends like Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty, Bob Dylan, John Hiatt, Van Morrison, Tom Cochrane, Nick Lowe, etc. Basically not really original, but done quite well, especially during an uptempo piece like Walkin round. His previous records (solo and with his band Bel-Vistas) were more Rock/Powerpop orientated, so perhaps recommended to check out, because on this new solo-album it all sounds a bit calmer, but Folk and Americana are nevertheless mixed quite nicely here and fans of mentioned artists will definitely like this Canadian musician, whom you can check out at: http://www.markripp.com    

(Points: 8.0 out of 10) 

RIDERS OF THE UNIVERSE 'AMEN ROAD VINYL' (INDEPENDENT)

Now here we have a very interesting new Dutch band, which features a musician named Bob Crebas on bass, who happens to be a very wealthy man (among the richest in The Netherlands), as he was the founder of www.marktplaats.nl, which is a very successful internet company sold to Ebay for 225 million Euro some time ago. Anyway, as music is one of his passions, together with local friends from his area (noordoostpolder) he formed the band Riders Of The Universe, with whom he recorded a really great album titled Amen road. The album has been released on vinyl and they were kind enough to sent me the vinyl pressing and after some research it seems that all members of Riders Of The Universe are fans of vinyl, so they pressed the album in all kinds of formats. They hit the right note here, because I am a die-hard vinyl collector as well, so receiving a vinyl record for review is for me an incredible motivation to do the review. Besides Bob, the other musicians in the band areRonald Louwsma – Guitar/Vocals, Arjan Hoekstra – Guitar/Euphonium/Flugelhorn/Bass/Vocals, Gerard Keijsers – Drums/Percussion/Vocals, Hans Crébas – Vocals,Martien Keijsers – Vocals and Robert Wardenier – Hammond/Wurlitzer/Roland V-Synth/Minimoog Voyager/Roland RD-700/Openlabs Neko/Reil Organ. Musically speaking they are deeply heading into the 1970s classic rock direction and remind me a lot of Uriah Heep, yet with also some space for folk/americana, blues, westcoast and a lot of progressive rock moments. Pink Floyd, King Crimson and Hawkwind also must have been huge influences on the band’s sound, as we get to hear a lot of prog and psychedelic elements in their material! It is clear that there was enough money to support this whole project, because it rarely happens that an independent record sounds so massive and perfect and is pressed on so many different vinyl formats, but I guess they are lucky to have Bob Crebas on board here. The album starts and finishes with instrumental progressive rock that leads us into a space adventure like Pink Floyd meets Ayreon. In between we have a selection of strong diverse rockers most of the time, of which the highlights are the somewhat more proggy based tunes Lost Los AngelesWondering Man and All That Is, although it is clear that the band changes it’s style quite often throughout the record, because classic rock, blues and progrock are the styles which can be heard most of the time, but even indie and alternative rock kinda moves are also hearable. Concluded, this is an album you need to play more frequently to discover something new everytime you listen. Highly recommended therefore! More at: http://www.ridersoftheuniverse.com/

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)

DELUSION SQUARED 'THE FINAL DELUSION’ (UK IMPORT) 

Out of France comes Delusion Squared, a progressive rockband featuring lead vocalist/guitarist Lorraine Young, guitarist/keyboardplayer/drummer Steven Francis and bassist/keyboardist Emmanuel de Saint MeenThe final delusion is their 3rd CD, which also marks the final chapter in a trilogy they started on their 2 previous albums, Delusion Squared in 2010 and Delusion Squared II in 2012. It closes (taken from the band’s website) the sci-fi story in which a young girl, who was born in a post nuclear techno society, revolts against her condition (and the AI supremacy) and decides to give birth to a natural child. Due to copyright laws which extend to modified genes, she is found guilty of "gene piracy" and abandoned on the polluted outside. There she meets survivors, and becomes a spiritual guide to them, eventually starting a new religion. It could be the script of a sci-fi blockbuster movie! Musically speaking we are heading into a progressive rock adventure, which is perhaps better identified as typical British Neo-Progressive Rock in classic British tradition, with sometimes references to a Tracy Hitchings. Instrumental it is quite proggy, a little Porcupine Treeish, but vocally and the melodies in the songs, they do reflect a more melodic rock/classic rock driven experience that even recalls a bit Mostly Autumn. However, there’s also a touch of 80s UK New Wave to be heard, due to the use of heavy synths and keys. Songs like Diaspora, Patient Zero, Last Day of Sun and Oblivion for My Sin are quite a pleasure to listen to and although Lorraine has a voice, which you need to identify yourself with, because it grows on you, all together Delusion Squared once again delivers a fine record. More info at: http://delusionsquared.com

(Points: 8.2 out of 10) 

ALL THAT REMAINS 'THE ORDER OF THINGS' (RAZOR AND TIE/PIMP)

The band All That Remains from Springfield, Massachusetts, USA is quite big, selling over 1 million records worldwide in their 15 years of existence and with this new album The Order Of Things, they will probably continue their popularity. What people should know is that they are not a Metalcore band, but are in fact a Melodic Metal ish band with elements from all rock and metal genres, which makes them sound quite interesting. In the past, during their early recordings, they had a lot more screams and growls and didn’t shy away from death metal either, but with every new release they have become more melodic (like Ignite meets Shinedown) and I have to admit that this new record is a very sensational album. Vocalist Phil Labonte has got a superstrong voice and is singing more clean than he is screaming like many metalcore bands are doing, so therefore All That Remains should really be seen as a melodic metal(core) band. Phil used to be in Shadows Fall and in the beginning All That Remains was just a side-project, but now in 2015 it is really a full-time band, selling a lot of records and even scoring at the US Billboard Charts. Highlights on the new album are This Probably Won't End Well, Divide, For You, A Reason for Me to Fight and Victory Lap, which are all awesome tunes, with big crunchy guitar riffs and superb catchy melodies, sounding a bit like en edgier Shinedown, yet with a little more screaming, although not that much really. A song like No Knock is closer to metalcore, but overall it is melodic metal what we get to hear and then the best way to describe them is a mix between Vollbeat, Ignite, Shinedown and Trivium, but on the other hand, All That Remains has been active as long as those bands, so they should be compared to themselves, because they have developed this style in the past 15 years and perhaps now they sound at their best on this new album.

(Points: 8.8 out of 10)

BERNARD ALLISON GROUP 'IN THE MIX' (JAZZHOUSE RECORDS)

Originally from Chicago, but currently based in Paris, guitarist Bernard Allison is the son of Luther Allison, a legendary Chicago blues musician. He played and collaborated with his father until his death in 1997, but meanwhile also recorded solo albums and in fact, In the mix is already his 17th album. Musically he has always hold on to his bluesrock roots, mainly due to his family roots, because it was his father who introduced him to legendary artists like Muddy Waters, Johnny Winter, Stevie Ray VaughanHound Dog Taylor and Albert King. All together he was already at a very young age familiar with the bluesrocksound and now at the age of 50 years, he has already achieved a lot and now releases his latest album on the German label Jazzhouse Records. Jazz is nowadays not entirely based around Jazz music only, because Blues is usually attached to this genre and therefore Bernard’s album is not out of place on this label, which has released a lot of Bluesrock albums. The music is likewise pure blues, in the old fashioned way, so not like Joe Bonamassa or Philip Sayce, but more in the tradition of old blues artists like the earlier mentioned acts.John Lee Hooker, BB King and even a little Jimi Hendrix can also be heard throughout the album and without a doubt, Bernard is a highly recommended artist to any bluesfan out there. Check out more at: http://www.bernardallison.com  

(Points: 8.1 out of 10) 

LOUIS JUCKER 'THE BLACK LAKE' (INDEPENDENT/USA IMPORT)

The Black Lake EP is the new release of Swiss musician Louis Jucker, who recorded the album in California. “The 4-tracks lo-fi recordings were initially made to be the soundtrack of an exhibition Louis Jucker put with plastic artist Giona Bierens de Haan in Switzerland. Together they elaborated slow moving wooden machines, animated by the songs. They also re-built the "Black Lake" they found in Canada - a thick, impenetrable surface, dark as death, cold as deep waters and scary as a night alone in the woods - in the middle of the gallery.” (taken from the band’s website). Hummus Records now releases the album, which consists of a remaster of the original tapes, which was done by Swiss producer Morgan Hug (Lune PalmerOrgan Mug, etc.). The music is quite experimental, with noise and hi-fi electronic music, but here and there, such as the titlesong, it also reminds a little bit of REM. However, most of the time, this indeed feels like a soundtrack to a cold place, so they definitely created the perfect score for something like the exhibition Louis and Giona. More info at: https://hummusrecords.bandcamp.com/album/the-black-lake

(Points: 7.6 out of 10)

CHUCK STRONG 'IT'S ABOUT TIME' (30 YEAR RECORDS/USA IMPORT)

Stand up drummer/singer Chuck Strong comes out of Santa Clarita, California and together with the SRBQ, the "Strong Rhythm and Blues Quartet", they return with a new album titled It’s about time, their first in 30 years time (!). So it has been a while, which is also clear when reading the labelname and upon seeing the pictures in the CD booklet from 1985.  The 9 included short songs barely make the 30 minutes of playing time, but the result is a nice typical bluesrock adventure, which will please the fans of BB KingMuddy Waters, Stevie Ray Vaughan and John Lee Hooker, especially while listening to songs like Mary Anne, Lucky Man, Working Man, Lord Have Mercy and Big Girl. The big difference with a lot of other blues acts is of course that the band leader and vocalist is actually the drummer of the band, but musically speaking it is your typical bluessound and that is what the fans of this genre are always a sucker for.  More at: http://srbqrocks.com

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

SOUL CHATTER 'STUMBLIN' (INDEPENDENT/USA IMPORT)

Soul Chatter is an on-going music project originally from Cleveland, Ohio (now settled in Chicago), which started way back in the early 1980s and despite they were close to sign a record deal throughout the past decades, they have always stayed independent and now after all these years a new album is available. Partly due to the musical climates in the USA, the lack of venues in their area who didn’t support local bands playing original music and therefore exposure was limited and of course due to the fact that each of the band members went on doing ‘real’ work for a living to pay mortgages and raise families, the band/project was not able to keep producing records or perform regularly. Nevertheless, the core of the band/project is still very much alive, consisting of Brian Stepien (Singer/songwriter), Dale Schmitt (keyboard player, piano, wurlitzer, organ, horns, strings, bass, etc.) and guitarist Jim Monica. Together with a bunch of local musicians, they recorded an EP titled Stumblin’ filled with original material, which musically is an interesting mixture of melodic pop/rock, rootsy rock, folk and indie rock. Van Morrison and Bruce Hornsby are 2 clear influences, but among the 5 included tracks we can hear that this band is actually offering something of an own identity, with as highlight Sanctuary (a great relaxing westcoast-bluesy aor ish song a la The Automatix), Stumblin' (uptempo heartland rocker a laMichael Stanley and Bruce Springsteen) and State of leaving (folksy rootsrocker). Definitely something to keep your eyes open for in the near future, so make sure to check their site at: http://www.cdbaby.com/Artist/SoulChatter and http://soulchattermusic.com and e-mail at: bstepien@hotmail.com

(Points: 8.1 out of 10)

SHANNIE ‘BLAME IT ON THE MOON’ (INDEPENDENT/HEMIFRAN)

Irish folk melodies and a Spanish guitar in an indie pop format, is that workable, well, in the case of Shannie definitely, because their latest release Blame it on the moonis a very strong album that could easily become a huge hit record, because it is kinda original. Shannie is a male/female vocal duo from Texas featuring Shan Kowert &Annie Acton and although they are compared to a band like Civil Wars, they definitely have something original due to that Spanish guitar sound/flamenco influence from Shan. Annie however has a rock background and that combination works very well. They started in 2005 and Blame It On the Moon is already their 3rd album together as a duo. I have to admit that Annie has got the strongest voice of both, especially during a catchy melodic tune such as Carry on. Besides 13 great original tunes that work their way from folky poprock to singer-songwriter ish indie pop with a Spanish touch everywhere you go and find it’s highlights in the shape of Blame It On the Moon, Spinning Wheel and The Girl, the band also did a nice cover of a Dream Academy tune from the 80s titled Life in a Northern Town. Make sure to check out this Texan duo asap at: http://www.shannieband.com

(Points: 8.3 out of 10) 

THE NEW MADRIDS ‘THROUGH THE HEART OF TOWN’ (INDEPENDENT/HEMIFRAN) 

Out of Scotland comes a great new band called The New Madrids, formed around vocalist/guitarist Ian Hutchison (formerly with The Revivals), guitarist/mandolin playerDonny McElligott, lap/pedal steel and keyboardplayer Owen Nicholson, bassist Callum Keith and drummer Maurice McPherson. Their debut Through the heart of town is an interesting mixture of bluesy rock, traditional American rock, southern rock and Americana with a country soul touch, so a diverse melting pot in pure American style. This is one of those albums you need to listen to a few times before making up a good judgment, but the result will always be positive. Thunder or The black Crowes in a lighter mood might also be a good description or perhaps Little Feat is also a band that comes up while listening to the bluesy soulful rock of The New Madrids, because the bluesy Paul Rodgers ish vocals in a song like Wrapped up are spot on and the band rocks from time to time, although there’s also moments for a calmer balladry such as during Shake, Hey Christine, Long Is The Way and Alaska (a duet with Texan country singer Brennen Leigh). Without a doubt, a band with something to offer, so check out this Scottish band at: http://thenewmadrids.com/ 

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)

BRESNAN BLUES BAND 'PARTY IN MY BACKSEAT' (INDEPENDENT/USA IMPORT/HEMIFRAN)

Multi-instrumentalist Dan Bresnan has been in the music business for 40 years now and his latest album is titled Party in my backseat. 50s bluesy Rock and Roll with a jazzy touch and a sax is making his sound complete, which does remind a bit of Mark Knopfler/Dire Straits, but then again during the lovely calmer dark ballads like Darker shade of grey and Dark heart rider, it all sounds quite different again (even like Doors/Pink Floyd laid-back kinda tunes). 9 songs are included in total and the praised diversity is making this a highly recommended album to check out at: http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/thebresnanbluesband and http://thebresnanbluesband.com/

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)


DEBORAH HENRIKSSON 'TRACES' (DHP RECORDS/HEMIFRAN)

Born in New Jersey, but love made her move to Sweden and from there she started her music career, which resulted in her 3rd CD now with this Traces, a very impressive album that contains melodic folk pop/rock with a strong Irish/Celtic touch. Meav is a clear comparison, but also Enya/Clannad, Loreena McKennitt and such come to mind while listening to her beautiful songs. She has the voice of an angel and songs like Fly, Traces and especially Evening star. More info at: http://www.deborahhenriksson.com

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)

AARON NEWMAN AND THE OK CARAVAN 'AARON NEWMAN AND THE OK CARAVAN' (INDEPENDENT/USA IMPORT/HEMIFRAN)

Aaron Newman is coming out of Oklahoma City, USA and he is making his solo-debut with the album The OK Caravan, a sensational rootsrock album that sounds quite amazing. Take a bit of Bruce Springsteen, add a little Eagles and a melodic folk-pop sound of bands like CCR, Wallflowers, Sons Of Bill and such, so basically what we have here is typical melodic driven traditional American music with superstrong vocalwork and excellent melodies during songs like the excellent 1892, the rocking The battle of washita river, Only in America and I'm on the moon, but actually the whole album could easily give this band a major break. What they are doing is fantastic and for fans of especially Bruce Springsteen and even Calexio, do not miss this superb debut album from Aaron! More at: www.theokcaravan.com

(Points: 8.8 out of 10)                         

JEFF LARSON 'CLOSE CIRCLE' (NCOMPASS MUSIC/HEMIFRAN)

Californian singer/songwriter Jeff Larson has released solo albums since 2008 and Close circle is his latest one, the 5th album so far and without a doubt, this is a truly wonderful album that captures the classic 1970s Californian westcoast-AOR-singer/songwriter style quite perfectly. The late 70s/early 80s westcoast-AOR sound reminds me of America, Crosby Stills Nash & Young, Jackson Browne, Venice, Airplay, John O'Banion, etc. etc. This album sounds like a Westcoast dream and could become one of the greatest releases in this genre of the past 10 years! Jeff has a terrific clean voice, singing the way it was supposed to sound back in the Los Angeles music scene of the 1970s. The album starts rather calm, with Rescue, but then follows that lovely 1970s Californian uptempo Westcoast style during songs like Following the Echoes and Every Hour On the Hour and later on How long running, all featuring beautiful melodies and harmonyvocals with that typical summer breeze feeling. Also a special mention for Rain soaked cloud, which is smooth and just awesomely beautiful. You cannot possibly go wrong with this album, because it is a perfect example of picture-perfect music and it does have huge hit potential. The comparison to America is not that strange if you know that Gerry Beckley and Dewey Bunnell of America appear as guest musicians on this album, so all America fans should check this out a.s.a.p. It also shows how many unknown artists are out there who needs to get a lot more attention. Jeff Larson is his name and you can check him out at: http://www.jefflarson-music.com/main.html

(Points: 8.6 out of 10)

D. EDWARD 'LOVE IS' (10TH AND CLAY RECORDS/HEMIFRAN)

D. Edward from California has played in the local funkband Con Funk Shun ever since the 1970s, with regional success, but since 2011 he also started a solo career, which now results in a 2nd album titled Love is. The mixture of R&B, classic soul, neo-soul and melodic pop/rock/singer-songwriter on this album sounds quite good and reminds me of a mix between Seal and John Mayer. I’ll bet if he had started his career 20 years ago, he would have already made a big household name worldwide, but it’s never too late of course and with a bit of luck he gets his break soon, based on this great new album. This is definitely quality stuff and songs like the smooth melodic ballad Hold on (even a bit Steve Perry ish here!), Mesmerized, Pretty Eyes and Mighty Love are highly recommended songs to anyone who wants to hear high quality music that mixes the best of soul, pop and singer/songwriter and above all, features superb vocalwork. Check out more at: http://www.dedwardmusic.com/

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)

ESTHER ROSE PARKES 'THE OTHER COUNTRY' (INDEPENDENT/HEMIFRAN)


Esther Rose Parkes is a singer/songwriter from the English Island Jersey. While listening to her debut album The other country it is clear that she is influenced by Sandy Denny, Jon Mitchell and that sort of calm acoustic folk singer/songwriter style. She is doing this quite well and the fact that the album was recorded in 5 days, together with Swedish musicians in Stockholm, brought together by producer/blues musician Brian Kramer. I have to say that you cannot hear that clearly in the recordings itself, because it all sounds quite modest and calm, which could be a benefit if it wasn’t Esther’s voice which is not that strong I am afraid. Nevertheless, fans of Gillian Welch, Joni Mitchell, Sandy Denny and such might be interested in checking this out at: http://www.estherroseparkes.com/

(Points: 7.7 out of 10)

THE GRAND UNDOING 'WHITE SPACE FLAVORS AND PARTIES ON TV' (SECRET CANDY RECORDS/HEMIFRAN)
 
The Grand Undoing is a project from the American multi-instrumentalist/singer/songwriter Seth Goodman from Quincy, which is close to Boston, Massachusetts. He is creating a sort of alternative pop/rock singer songwriter style that sounds like a cross between Steve Earle, R.E.M. and Jello Biafra, so a touch of alternative punkrock and a rather unique way of singing, which is sometimes getting on your nerve, because just like Nick Cave, you don’t expect someone to sing a certain part in a song that way, but that might be the beauty of this genre. So at first sight you might find yourself wondering why you are listening, but it grows on you and especially fans of mentioned acts will find something of interest here at: http://thegrandundoing.com 
 
(Points: 7.2 out of 10)

MICHAEL WARD WITH DOGS AND FISHES 'WEEKENDS ON THE WINE DARK'  (INDEPENDENT/HEMIFRAN)
 
Michael Ward is all-rounder, because he is a singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer and studio owner (Hyde Street Studios), living and working in the San Francisco Bay area since 1974. He fronted a large number of bands and worked with members of touring bands such as Frank Zappa, Ambrosia, Etta James, George Clinton, Bruce Hornsby and Steve Miller. His latest solo album is titled Weekends on the wine dark, which he recorded together with west coast musicians Prairie Prince - Drums, Percussion (founder member of Journey, also played with the Tubes, Chris Isaak, George Harrison, etc.), Paul Robinson- Guitar, Vocals, Jeff Cleland-Bass, Chris Von Sneidern- Guitar Vocals and Fernando de Sanjines 13- Drums, World Precussion. Together they play a mix of melodic soulful singer/songwriter, R&B and world music, reminding me of a cross between Bruce Hornsby and Peter Gabriel. The raw excellent vocals are actually very close to Peter Gabriel, while the songs contain very catchy melodies. I can also hear similarities to JJ Cale, Steve Earle, Steely Dan, Raul Midon and Sting by the way, so I guess you will now more or less understand how Michael’s music sounds like, although the best way is to check it out for yourself of course. Highlights are One Bright Night, Engine Eddie and Taking My Time, but also the Van Morrison ish vocals during Bad Boy Rules (which also has very strong melodies) and The Pearl Gone By (almost psychedelic prog ish a la Pink Floyd) are worth mentioning. More at: www.michaelwardmusic.com
 
(Points: 8.5 out of 10)
 
MACHINA 'HELLBOUND HEART' (INDEPENDENT/FINLAND IMPORT)
 
Although the melodic metal of the Finnish band Machina is very cliché tingled, fans of 1980s melodic metal with a typical modern day touch due to the use of keyboards and slight progmetal influences, this band is interesting to check out. Especially the midtempo The lost aeon and the uptempo Sign of the world are pretty catchy. The vocals are a bit weaker, but nevertheless fans of melodic metal that sounds like a cross between Nostradameus meets Royal Hunt meets Pretty Maids meets Axxis, for them this is a recommended band to check out at: www.machina.fi
 
(Points: 7.5 out of 10)
 
KELLY'S LOT 'DON'T GIVE MY BLUES AWAY' (INDEPENDENT/HEMIFRAN)
 
Out of Hollywood comes singer songwriter Kelly Zirbes, who together with guitarist Perry Robertson releases albums under the moniker Kelly’s Lot. They released their debut test drive back in 1995 and are now already releasing their 9th album, which is titled Don’t give my blues away. The music is jazzy/soul/blues influenced rock, with very strong raw vocals (a pure rock voice) and all together it does sound like a mix between Janis Joplin, Diana Krall and Caro Emerald, if that makes any sense. Take it from me, we have a great female fronted blues-rock affair going on here, with as highlights on their latest record the songs Hush Up, Why Don’t We and Woman’s Love. Make sure to check them out at: www.kellyslot.com
 
(Points: 8.2 out of 10)

THE AFTER HOURS PROJECT 'THE AFTER HOURS PROJECT (INDEPENDENT/USA IMPORT)

Now here we have a very impressive new act called The After House Project, which is a project formed around quite a lot musicians, including the fantastic female lead singer Ronnie Brockett, who has got a typical 80s AOR voice, sounding spot-on on each of the 6 tracks of this EP-CD. Musically speaking some singer/songwriter, 70s westcoast/AOR/MOR and pure AOR/Melodic light rock is melted together in a rather catchy sound, which is most of the time a pleasure to listen to, especially during songs like Whisky wind", "Disqualified" and "Simple things". Check it out for yourself at: http://www.afterhoursproject.com

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)

ANTHONY TULLO 'SWITCHING TRACKS' (INDEPENDENT/USA IMPORT)

We definitely have the latest sensation from the north american continent here, because Canadian cowboy Anthony Tullo delivers a fantastic album that sounds as radio-ready as you want it to be, without sounding too slick, over-produced or polished like those US cowboys. Anthony has a long history before releasing this new album Switching tracks, because the man might look like just another major label produced country-rocker from the US of A, but it is a completely different and much more interesting story than the somewhat standard tough-boy-image looks he gives us on the CD booklet pictures. In fact, Anthony is a incredible talented human being, who does a lot besides singing and owes it completely to himself that he now releases such a strong new record that might hit big time in the Americas. This is his 2nd album so far, but the first to reach me and after a few spins me and my girlfriend are probably his first 2 fans in The Netherlands! Anthony was born and raised in Oakville, Ontario, Canada and has been working as an actor for quite a while besides winning (gold) medals in Brazilian Jiu-jitsu!!!

However, music is a passion he also has and he just released Switching tracks across Canada with legendary publicist Linda Dawe, who's released singles like Try from Blue RodeoRita McNeil and Roch Voisin from Montreal, Canada who's first single hit the top ten in Canada back in the 1980s. Of course you can hear similarities to let’s say Keith Urban, Tim McGraw, Kenny Chesney, Alan Jackson, Bon Jovi, Bryan Adams, Mitch Malloy and that sort of country-aor-rock crossover male artists, but Anthony does it really great and grabs you with his catchy tunes, such as the superb uptempo rocker Relentless that cries out to become a huge radio hit worldwide. First single however is the opening cut Back That Truck Up, which is a typical modern day country rocker with a big fat groovy guitar riff, even touching something Aerosmith might have done in the past, a guarantee for a hit in America only! In that same style are songs like Oil and Snap shots, but those 3 last mentioned tracks are not the highlights on the album. The finest songs are the uptempo rockers Relentless, Ten Seconds to Sundown,  Borderline and One Day and the smooth ballads Other Side of Letting Go, In the Headlights and Sinner in My Soul, which all together will even whet the appetite of the AOR fans, because this smells dangerously close to the likes of Van Stephenson, Nelson, Bryan Adams, Mitch Malloy, Venice and such. Grab this record asap if you are keen on catchy crossover country-aor-rock, because it doesn’t get any better than this!
 
Although it will be very hard for Anthony to get the attention in Europe, where this kind of rock is not really appreciated and America is much more friendly to his music, nobody can deny that this is high quality stuff what we have here. For me personally a true winner on our hands! More info at: www.anthonytullo.com or http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/anthonytullo and e-mail him at: anthony.tullo@gmail.com

(Points: 8.8 out of 10)

ACHILLES WHEEL ‘STONES TO SAND’ (INDEPENDENT/HEMIFRAN)
 
Out of North Carolina, USA comes Achilles Wheel, a typical American sounding band formed in 2011. With influences from all the traditional American music genres, blues, rock, westcoast, singer songwriter, soul, bluegrass, folk, Americana and such, the band delivers a nice diverse sound . They made their debut a few years ago with the album XIII Hours, which they recorded in only 13 hours and now we have the follow-up Stones to sand. The strongest point here is that for everyone there’s something to enjoy here, because you have calmer balladry, rockier tunes, groovy material, blues orientated slow takers and some westcoast as well, so you bet you have yourself a great diverse band in Achillles Wheel. Although not as westcoast sounding as for example Jackson Browne, Poco, Venice, Dakota and that kind of acts,Achilles Wheel should nevertheless be mentioned along those acts, yet with a bit more focus on other genres as well, so a little more Americana than westcoast and therefore more comparable to Calexico, yet then less bombastic. This is honest good clean American rootsy rock and roll, which you need to check out at:www.achilleshweel.com and http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/achilleswheel2
 
(Points: 8.2 out of 10)
 
GIULIA MILLANTA ‘THE FUNAMBULIST’ (INDEPENDENT/HEMIFRAN)
 
Giulia Millanta was born and raised in Florence, but moved to Austin where she has built up a music career. Her latest album the funambulist was recorded with her band – husband/guitarist David Pulkingham, drummer Michael Longoria and Glenn Fukunaga on bass. Giulia is a talented musician, because she plays guitar, ukulele and sings in four languages—Italian, English, French and Spanish! Martha Wainwright is sometimes a good comparison, although there’s also a sorta tango touch in her material, while the French songs have a chanson approach. Highlights are the English sung songs Lost In Space, Carry The Cross and She Floated Away that have a strong 1970s singer/songwriter vibe. Although it all sounds quite good and diverse, Giulia is not sounding that strong vocally, but perhaps on a future record she improves on that aspect, because she already proves that she can sing in various languages at a high level and is able to write strong songs. Recommended however is to focus on the English language songs in the future, because that is showing her best side. More at: www.giuliamillanta.com andwww.reverbnation.com/giuliamillantaHometownAustinRecord and www.giuliamillanta.comImpressum
 
(Points: 7.8 out of 10)
 
KELLEY HUNT ‘THE BEAUTIFUL BONES’ (88 RECORDS/HEMIFRAN)
 
Kelley Hunt is not yet a familiar household name, but in her homestate of Kansas she has already accomplished quite a lot. She is an American blues pianist, singer/songwriter who started in the 1990s in the music business, releasing her debut in 1995 and peaking in 2004 with her album New Shade of Blue, which reached number 9 in the Billboard Top Blues Albums charts. She was inducted into the Kansas Music Hall of Fame and recently released her 6th album The beautiful bones. When you listen to Kelley’s CD you can hear a voice, which you absolutely do not want to miss, because it is a voice with a soul and sounding a zillion times more interesting than the thin standard voices which are currently dominating the airwaves. Adele might sound like the biggest female voice on earth right now, Kelley can also sing like a Goddess and reminds me (also musically) of Billie Holiday, Ann Peebles, Dinah Washington, Aretha Franklin, Wanda Jackson, Ella Fitzgerald and evenTina Turner. This is soulful blues with a deep Gospel touch and it sounds honest and true like it was recorded way back in the 1950s or that era. No matter which song you’re listening to, Let it rain, Simplify, I’ve got a good feeling or Miracle, it all sounds stunning and should appeal to any musicfan out there. Please do check out Kelley asap at: http://www.kelleyhunt.com/
 
(Points: 8.6 out of 10)

JESSE BREWSTER ‘MARCH OF TRACKS’ (PRAIRIE RECORDS/HEMIFRAN)
 
Singer/songwriter Jesse Brewster comes out of San Francisco and he releases a very impressive new album in the shape of March of tracks. It’s not just another typical singer-songwriter ish album, because it also contains clear influences from classic rock, altrock, folk and country. Jesse has got a fantastic voice and he recorded his new album in 12 months, focusing on 1 song every month, just like Gabriel Rios did. The material is quite catchy and pop melodies can be heard all throughout the record, which makes it a possible breakthrough album for Jesse. Highlights are definitely Left to LoseWorld Closing In and Innocent Sinners. At times it reminds me a bit of Jack Johnson, but secretly there are also similarities to Tom Petty and Keith Urban. Besides being a great guitarplayer and vocalist, he is also able to write a fantastic tune, so that is what is making Jesse Brewster a hugely talented musician, who you urgently need to check out at: http://www.jessebrewster.com and www.kgmusicpress.com
 
(Points: 8.5 out of 10)
 
CRIMSON SUN 'NEW MEXICO'‏ (INDEPENDENT/USA IMPORT)
 
Not much info on this band from New Mexico, USA, but Crimson Sun was a band active in the 1970s and 1980s and recently released a new album with old material, re-recorded. Formed around Lionel De Leon (singer/songwriter/guitarist/keyboardist), the band’s music is a mix of typical American genres, which especially on the CD they sent me can be heard quite well, as we go from Americana to country-westcoast to almost American melodic southern rock with an AOR touch. There is however a strong 1970s sorta semi-acoustic folk tingled approach to most of the songs, so Crimson Sun doesn’t rock all the way, but when they rock, then it sounds like a classic early 80s US Melodic Rock/AOR band, such as during the album’s best tunes Mother and Young girl that both are close to AOR friendly rock of the 38 Special/Axe kind. But as mentioned before, Crimson Sun likes to go for the smooth 70s American style and remind of Poco, Firefall and CSNY more than a few times on their album, with Lonely Woman being a beautiful laid back piece and the band surprises during the pure blues song Close Your Eyes. All together a diverse record, which you can check out for yourself at: http://www.cdbaby.com/Artist/CrimsonSun
 
(Points: 7.9 out of 10)

THE BITTER ROOTS ‘NOISE VIRBATIONS AND FUMES’ (INDEPENDENT/USA IMPORT)

 
Formed in 2008, the Seattle based band The Bitter Roots already released their 4th album titled Noise Vibrations and Fumes. Musically speaking they are heading into alternative rock with a melodic rock touch and some classic early 80s powerpop as well, kinda like The Posies. I would describe their sound as college rock in a 80s/early 90s kinda direction. The band records their material analog, which means it sounds more honest and natural than using click track and auto tune. The band is formed around Jeff Stetson - Vocals, Guitar and Keys and Ben Koostra - Drums and Keys, with Greg Thomsen on bass and vocals as well. If we have a look at the songs, highlights are Fast and slow and Diary queen, both nice uptempo The Jamish powerpoptracks, Butterfly baby, which has a sort of Seattle influence (read Jane's Addiction), while a lot of the other songs are midtempo college rockers a la REM/Sons Of Bill. This is definitely high quality stuff and feels like a real honest band, which could easily work its way up to higher places, although there is a lot of competition out there. Make sure to check out this band at: http://bitterrootsmusic.com/home.html and e-mail at: Contact jeff@bitterrootsmusic.com
 
(Points: 8.3 out of 10)

MIKE MCGUIRE 'SOUTHERN ATTRACTION' (INDEPENDENT/USA IMPORT)
 
Mike McGuire is a Kentucky, USA based singer/songwriter with an album out entitled Southern attraction. Musically a mix of Americana, Folk and Singer/Songwriter can be heard here and it fits nicely between JJ Cale, Tom Waits, Warren Zevon and Bob Dylan, with this deep low pitched voice by Mike. Musically speaking there’s also a touch of light bluesrock to be heard and besides original tunes by Mike, we can also find a cover of the song Twilight, a 1975 single written by Robbie Robertson for The Band. Songs like Tennessee Tom, Stay in Your Lane, Crazy Lone Star Blues and Thunder Over Clarksville are the typical American Folk singer/songwriter kinda tunes in which you can find passion and honesty. Check more for yourself at: http://mikemcguireky.com

(Points: 7.8 out of 10)

THE FAWN 'BRANCHES' (INDEPENDENT/SWISS IMPORT)

 
Not much info on this Swiss band/project, but they do sound very experimental, starting their album Branches with a Noisy sound that cannot be compared to any other band, while the following track goes for a more rocking approach. This is underground music the way it should sound and no more words are necessary, as it is best to hear for yourself at: http://thefawn.ch and http://soundcloud.com/thefawn and http://hummusrecords.bandcamp.com

(Points: 7.3 out of 10)

MAX FRED 'MAXWELL' (INDEPENDENT/USA IMPORT)

 
Max Fred is a singer/songwriter from Kansas City, Missouri and he has just released his debut album Maxwell. In his childhood he was exposed to Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson, Marvin Gaye, JJ Cale and the Band, which gave him the necessary ingredients for creating a somewhat similar traditional singer/songwriter style. He is clearly moving in that acoustic tingled singer songwriter direction and all together he sounds quite strong actually, combining elements of Bluegrass, Country, Folk and Americana. Although there is a lot of competition in this genre and the likes of Hoozier, Ben Howard, Mumford and Sons, Ed Sheeran, Damien Rice and such are just a couple of new names from the past 5-10 years whom made it big, so who knows we have another winner here in the near future. More info at:http://www.maxfredmusic.com/

(Points: 7.8 out of 10)
 
JOEY STUCKEY 'DEMO CDR' (INDEPENDENT/USA IMPORT)
 
Well well well… here we have a sensational singer/songwriter from Macon, Georgia, USA, who has released albums for 20 years now and he was kind enough to sent me a CDR filled with some of his recordings. The most beautiful thing here is that Joey is not just another singer/songwriter, because he lost his sight and sense of smell as an infant as the result of a brain tumor, which makes it even more impressive that he has become such a gifted musician. He is able to play the guitar like a Guitar God and also sing really beautiful in a sorta soul kinda way. Raul Midon and Jeff Healey are probably good comparisons as those guitarists/vocalists are also blind musicians, although Joey is much more rock orientated in the guitar department and more soul orientated in the vocal department, reminding me a lot of Joe Bonamassa actually, both the guitar playing and the fantastic soulful vocals. He and his band the Joey Stuckey Band opened for acts such as Bad Company, Ted Nugent, B-52’s, James Brown and many more, while Joey himself worked as a producer, composer, sound engineer, musician for members of acts like Lynyrd Skynyrd, R.E.M., Allman Brothers Band and Grateful Dead. Anyway, solo he has been hard at work for quite a lot of years and let’s hope he will get his break someday soon, because he definitely deserves it. Make sure to check out this fantastic musician at: www.joeystuckey.com

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)

TALON 'FOURPLAY' (ESCAPE MUSIC)

American melodic rockers Talon return with a strong new album titled Fourplay, which is a typical 1980s orientated American Melodic Hardrock product that will please all fans of Heaven’s Edge, Dokken, Loud’n’Clear, Fifth Angel, Shy, Firehouse, Valentine, etc. etc. Lead singer on the new Talon album is Michael O’Mara, who was out of the band for a while, but returned for this new release. I can remember vaguely previous albums, but I am quite convinced it sounded more or less the same, so no changes here. Most remarkable guest appearance is that of guitarist Tim Pierce (Bon Jovi, Rick Springfield, Ozzy, Santana, Elton John, etc. etc.) on a couple of tracks. Although the included material is far from original, it is done at a very high level, with such great classic 80s American Melodic Hardrock sounding pieces such as Sin City Sister, Set Me Free, Tonight and I Don't Wanna Cry. Fans of mentioned bands can purchase this album without any hesitation!

(Points: 8.4 out of 10)
 
HASSE FROBERG ‘HFMC’ (GLASSVILLE RECORDS)
 
During the glorious hair metal days of the 1980s, in Sweden there was in pre-Europe days not much happening in that style, because there was a music scene before and a music business after The final countdown in Sweden. After Europe hit big time, hair metal bands popped up from
each part of the country. At one point it seemed like every musician was playing in a Europe-look-a-like band, but we must not forget that Spellbound was a really great hair metal band in Sweden whom were already active before Joey and his hair mates scored massive. In fact, Spellbound was probably the first hair metal to emerge from Sweden, because Europe was a real heavy metalband before 1986. Spellbound recorded 2 albums, Breaking The Spell in December 1984 and Rocking Reckless in December 1985, both featuring quite fantastic melodic hardrock, but as it did not turn out to become a huge success, each of the members went their own way. Lead singer/guitarist Hasse Froberg joined prog legends The Flower Kings and in 2008 he got together with a couple of old Spellbound members and started recording new material, which so far resulted in 2 full-length albums. Now they have released their 3rd album together titled HFMC on Glassville Records. Musically speaking this album is quite sensational, featuring very high quality strong vocals of Hasse and musicianship of an incredible high level. There’s a distinctive 1970s approach here, mixing classic rock, progressive rock and American pomprock, blending this with beautiful melodies is making this a true winner actually. The album’s highlights are In the warmth of the evening (excellent, feels like a melodic neo-prog classic in the typical style of Spock's Beard, Enchant, Kino, It Bites, Pallas, etc), Pages and Someone else's fault (Pomprock ish, long proggy influences as well, some Kansas similarities), Something worth dying for (less prog, very melodic hard rocking track Yngwie Malmsteenish even!) and Everything can change (AORish, late 70sn style Pomprock, a bit Aviary actually, with a jazzy part included as well). I am quite surprised how good this sounds and although Flower Kings and prog addicts will find some stuff sound too melodic or too much going into a non-prog direction, the fans of classic pomprock and melodic hardrock (I even heard some Angel comparisons!) will be pleased to check out this new release of Hasse. More at: www.hfmcband.com/
 
(Points: 8.6 out of 10)  

CARL FRANKLIN 'BEEN A WHILE' (INDEPENDENT/HEMIFRAN) 

Together with his brother Jay FranklinCarl Franklin released 2 albums under the bandname Franklin Brothers. Both are very professional and highly skilled musicians, but also producers/engineers and in general speaking computer/technical minded people, whom recorded already in 1999 a full album with the help of only a PC. Nowadays that is the normal way to go when recording something new, but 16 years ago it was sorta new to record it that way. Anyway, Carl went solo and released the album Been a while some time ago and despite all the computer and electronic technology, the album of Carl still sounds as if it is was recorded during  a couple of breezy Californian summer nights somewhere in the late 1970s. Special guest on this album is John Scofield, so you can bet yourself that this is a high quality album. Musically speaking it breathes the 1970s and then in particular Steely Dan comes to mind when listening to the songs on the album. In fact, Carl also sounds like Donald Fagan vocally, so fans of that band will definitely have to check out this release. Thankfully it is not a copycat album, because Carl gives it an own twist and the soulful westcoast pop/rock with funky rhythms offers truly wonderful melodies from start to finish. Chain reaction is an example of the pure Steely Dan bliss going on here, with beautiful close harmonyvocals and a light bluesy guitar tone under a groovy bass/drum rhythm. Out of your way is a lovely late 70s westcoast-AOR tingled tune that fits nicely between Toto and Venice. I think you’ll get the picture by now how this more or less sounds like and any fan of laid-back westcoast-aor/pop with a jazzy undertone needs to check out this album a.s.a.p. at: http://carlfranklin.com/

(Points: 8.3 out of 10) 

BRAD COLERICK 'TUCSON' (BACK 9 RECORDS/HEMIFRAN)

Out of California comes singer/songwriter Brad Colerick, who releases his 5th album with this Tucson. Musically speaking this is your typical singer-songwriter meets westcoast adventure in traditional Californian style, so think of a mix between James Taylor, Poco and Steely Dan, yet also with some folk and country influences as well, so perhaps here and there an Americana approach could be a good description as well. Highlights are Place of you (beautiful), This is what I do and Hands of time. Although the album sounds quite calm and is far away removed from any rock related styles, this is nevertheless a high quality release and definitely very much recommended, which is especially sounding so strong due to the superb clean vocals of Brad himself. Do check him out at: http://www.bradcolerick.com/ and http://www.wineandsong.com/

(Points: 8.3 out of 10) 

REED TURNER 'GHOSTS IN THE ATTIC' (INDEPENDENT/HEMIFRAN)

Reed Turner could well become the next big singer/songwriter in the world, right next to the likes of Hozier, Ben Howard, Mumford and Sons, Ed Sheeran, Damien Rice and such, because that is where Reed Turner could easily be standing in a short period of time if he is lucky enough of course. He has the looks, the sounds and the vocals to reach a huge audience, but this is primarily judging on his latest album Ghosts in the attic. Reed is from Austin, Texas and on the album we can welcome as guest musicians, fiddler-singerPhoebe Hunt and pedal steel legend Kim Deschamps. Musically speaking it is a mix of folkrock, singer/songwriter and a little stompin’ bluesrock or so to speak the “modern mature male dominated folksy pop/rock singer songwriter sound” that combines the best of Hozier, The Black keys, Ryan Adams, Damien Rice, Dotan (for the Dutchies out there!) andJack White. If we have a quick run through the tracklist, the album’s highlights are the uptempo rockier Ghost in the Attic (very strong), the midtempo stompin Killed That Girl ('Cause She Was Killin' Me) (Black Keys meets Jack White), Long Gone (Fleet Foxes meets Jack White), the beautiful singer songwriter pop/rock ballad Locking Doors and The fire(with its rock undertone). The result is a highly recommended album that contains really beautiful vocals and lovely songs in a somewhat familiar modern day singer/songwriter style that reminds clearly of the earlier mentioned acts, so check out Reed asap at: http://www.reedturner.com/

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)

ROB MCHALE 'FIELDS' (WOODEN DOOR RECORDS/HEMIFRAN)

Out of Troutman, North Carolina comes singer songwriter Rob McHale, who creates relaxing laid-back singer/songwriter material that sounds quite good, although it is especially the excellent crystal clear voice of Rob (mostly low pitched) which makes him standout between the thousands of similar artists in this immense popular genre nowadays. One of the highlights on the 2nd album of Rob is the titlesong Fields. Nice to mention here is that most of the songs are based on the American Civil War (1861-1865), while several guest musicians make the sound a bit more diverse, as for example Irons And Chains is a blues song, The Castlebar Races has Irish folk influences and Mother’s Love is a beautiful ballad. Without a doubt, Rob is yet another interesting singer songwriter to check out. More at: www.robmchale.com

(Points: 8.1 out of 10)

WIZARD FARM MUSIC 'WIZARD FARM MUSIC' (INDEPENDENT/USA IMPORT)

Wizard Farm Music is a rather obscure, but interesting pop/rock band from Hartford, CT, USA,  consisting of Matt Clapis (Vocals, Guitar, Synths, etc), Craig Watts (Bass) and Justin Claps (Drums). They were formed in 2010 and have had their ups and downs the past 5 years, but with this release they seem to show they are professional enough to become bigger. They were kind enough to sent me their record, which is self titled and musically speaking is featuring quite catchy uptempo alternative melodic rock in the style of Sons Of Bill, but rockier and with a 1990s influenced College Rock touch a la The Posies, Teenage Fanclub and some powerpop ish material as well. The best songs can be found in the shape of Open Mic , Can We Let Go?, Upstroke Rubber Soul (very catchy chorus), Radiobear (underground early 1980s sound like The Jam, The Cure) and Now That The Feelings Gone (even AOR/Melodic rock orientated). This is a highly recommended act, with strong vocals and definitely a potential act to keep your eyes open for. More at: www.wizardfarmmusic.com and https://wizardfarm.bandcamp.com/releases

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)

TONY FAZIO 'HOME' (FETAL RECORDS/USA IMPORT)

Fetal Records is a Baltimore based record label, which started in 1980 and published various punk/hardcore related bands throughout the years. Now we have a singer songwriter called Tony Fazio releasing a very diverse solo-album on the label. He is currently performing with many different bands, including Electrofied Blues Band and Charlie Sayles and the Blues Disciples, but on this solo record he does musically speaking a bit of everything. He is helped by various singers, which make it all sound even more diverse. There’s a bunch of bluesy pop/rock with deep low pitched vocals (2,3,7,8,9) (featuring great guitarwork), calmer singer songwriter piece with strong clean vocals a la Venice (4) , a big surprising sorta 1960s swinging r&b motown style tune with doo-woop vocals and trumpets in a Supremes style (5) and uptempo 1970s classic US hard rock a la Starz/Montrose/Talas or something in that style (6, 10), which are both really awesome tunes! In the end, this is a very diverse record you don’t hear every day!!! This is what you call underground ish, also due to the low budget production, but that makes it so interesting and especially in Europe Tony could do well with his non-commercial and diverse sound. Check it out for yourself at: http://www.fetalrecords.com/tony-fazio-story

(Points: 7.8 out of 10)


RICH RESTAINO 'LONELY IN A CROWD' (MADHOUSE RECORDS/USA IMPORT)

Out of Austin, Texas comes singer songwriter Rich Restaino, who delivers songs with a sense of humor. Done in a typical 1970s kinda way, the Americana kinda Folkpop sounds like you are actually walking into an Irish pub somewhere in the USA. There is cabaret style to be heard in Bury Our Heads, folklore with a strong country and Irish pub vibe in especially They Don't Give a Damn (They're in Love) and Neil Diamond kinda tunes (Shuffle the Deck and If Life Is a Test). Although it might get a bit by-the-numbers and monotone after a while, people into singer/songwriter with a humoristic undertone (Harry Nilsson/Nick Lowe also come to mind here), they might want to check out Rich at: http://www.richrestaino.com/

(Points: 7.3 out of 10)

GEORGIA SOUND 'LOVE CAN CHANGE' (INDEPENDENT/CANADA IMPORT)

Georgia Sound is a Canadian folk/pop duo based in Calgary and they have delivered a really good high quality album titled Love can change. Although not very original and sometimes reminding a lot of our own Common Linnets and Nelson, it is done quite perfectly and therefore a pleasure to listen to from start to finish. The dup is Ryan Roy on vocals and guitar and Shannon Magee on vocals and piano. The female vocals sound a bit thin, but the male vocals are very strong and sound like a raspy Bryan Adams. The two met at a chance open mic in 2011 and it worked out so well that now a full-length CD is released and as already mentioned, it sounds very professional and major label ish. It captures the typical modern catchy melodic pop/rocksound with singer songwriter vibe and although it is not as sensational as you want it to be, there’s definitely a lot to enjoy here, such as Trouble and Love Can Change  (almost pure AOR actually), Comfortable (westcoast touch) and End of an Era (the absolute finest track here, a catchy uptempo melodic poprocker). Check out this upcoming duo from Calgary for yourself at: http://www.georgiasound.ca/

(Points: 8.1 out of 10)

PIQUED JACKS 'CLIMB LIKE IVY DOES' (INDEPENDENT/USA-ITALY IMPORT)

Piqued Jacks is actually an Italian band, but they are currently based in Austin, Texas and their latest record is titled Climb like Ivy does, which happens to be a very sensational release. The band is formed around E-King - lead vocals, piano, synthesizer, organ, glockenspiel, Penguinsane - guitar, backing vocals, littleladle - bass, backing vocals and ThEd0g - drums, percussions, backing vocals. Musically speaking it is a mixture of diverse styles, which becomes clear when listening to the included 8 songs. If we have a quick run through the tracklisting, the best song are Reign Of Clouds (a strong uptempo rocker, modern alt melodic rock with a catchy chorus), Moooody (even a bit Inxs meets Gothic rock a la The Mission, with Hardrock guitar), Only A Bridge (light proggy Rush style) and Gift Handed Down For Generations (very strong uptempo prog/melodic heavy rocker]. Vocally it is also impressive, with high pitched vocals, coming across like Rush meets Threshold’s Damian Wilson, but musically more adventurous and going into sometimes an Alternative and even Gothic Rock direction. We could do without the screaming in Romantic Soldier though, but this is a high quality release for sure, with a huge production and all together, definitely a highly recommended to all of you to check out asap at: www.piquedjacks.com

(Points: 8.4 out of 10)

JACE POWLAK ‘PERSPECTIVE’ (MARBLE SKY MUSIC/HEAD FIRST ENTERTAINMENT/USA IMPORT)

 

Out of Florida, USA comes Singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Jace Pawlak, who just released his third solo album Perspective. Jace is heavily influenced by 80s AOR/Melodic Rock, which could already be heard on his previous solo-albums (see past review of Jace’s debut Stolen season in 2005) and also due to the fact he wrote a lot of songs for other acts, especially for Kivel Records’ signed bands like Tango Down and Farrcry. Anyway, on his new album Perspective, he spreads his horizons and adds a lot of other influences as well, now sounding like a mixture of AOR, pop/rock, westcoast and jazz flavored fusion, sorta like Toto, but not reaching that high level I am afraid. This has nothing to do with the man’s voice, handling of the instruments, writing good songs or anything like that, because the problem is that he seems to use autotune to make voice corrections and that just sounds quite annoying after a while. A real pity, because the man can definitely sing very well, such as can be heard in the great bluesy rocker We Don't Know Anything, one of the few songs that sounds like there is no voice correction done. The album features besides Jace Pawlak on vocals, keyboards, drums, acoustic guitar and bass, his father Dennis Pawlak on guitars & bass and his brother Trevor Pawlak on guitar. As already mentioned, real pure AOR can only be heard during a couple tunes, such as the strong midtempo high class AOR tune Cry, which sounds a bit like Journey/The Storm and the uptempo AOR rocker Renegade Heart (a la Kane Roberts and Final Frontier). It is quite a difference with that debut record from 10 years ago, when he delivered a high class AOR record without autotune or voice correction. Nevertheless, the new album is still a nice record, also musically speaking, because the 3 earlier mentioned tracks are quite strong and it is nice to see him delivering nice jazzy rockers (Don't Talk to Me, The Same Mistake and Jodi's Just Running) and smooth ballads (What If We Were Wrong, The Unknown and Little Star) as well, besides a radio-ready melodic semi-acoustic pop/rock tune (While We're Here). Nevertheless, he isn’t a Billy Joel, Bryan Adams or Richard Marx yet and I truly hope that a future record will see him without the use of technical and autotune kinda corrections to his voice, because I am convinced this musician is live on stage doing things much better than in the production environment. He has a great voice, but the production spoils it a bit, which really isn’t necessary at all. We want to hear errors and a change in the voice while singing the melodies, because that’s what is making a singer/songwriter interesting and not a perfect sounding production/album. Still I am positive, because Jace is a well-gifted musician and talented singer, who you need to check out at: www.jacemusic.com and https://www.facebook.com/jacepawlakmusic

 

(Points: 7.7 out of 10)

 

EIVOR ‘BRIDGES’ (SONIC RENDEZVOUS)

 

Originally born on the Faroe Islands in 1983, Eivør is an extremely talented vocalist, instrumentalist and songwriter with a voice that is just breathtaking. She spent time in Iceland and was even named Icelandic Female Singer of the Year in 2003. She performs a mixture of traditional songs and her own compositions, sung in Faroese, Icelandic and recently, she started to sing in English. Eivør is at the moment living in Denmark and her new album Bridges contains lovely high quality spiritual music that is situated around her beautiful voice. Comparisons are not that easy to make, because Clannad meets Sinead O’Connor meets Kate Bush, combined with a modern pop/rock bombastic keyboard based production could be a good description, but Eivør really has an own style, which is likewise due to her wonderful amazing voice. The highlights are 2 and 6, but any song here is a pleasure to listen to. Do not miss this upcoming talented musician. Go to: www.eivor.com

 

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)

 

VARIOUS ARTISTS ‘CHICAS VOLUME 2: SPANISH FEMALE SINGERS 1963-1978’ (SONIC RENDEZVOUS)

 

Covering a period of 15 years, of which the majority concerns rare 1960s songs, this compilation record is a must-have for the die-hard collectors out there. It concerns here the second volume of Munster Records's Chicas series, which contains a nice collection of ye-ye, rock and roll, twist, beat, gipsy rock, soul and cinematic grooves from Spanish female singers (and those who moved to Spain). Many of the 28 tracks are reissued for the first time, including very hard-to-find records and especially the CD booklet and extensive notes are a nice joy to read and look at while listening to these rare songs by acts like Marina, Sola, Elia Fleta, La Llave 3, Paloma San Basilio, Rocio Durcal, Ana Kiro and more. There’s a lot of covers of legendary English tunes to be heard, but then sung in Spanish and especially the cover of The Grass Roots’ I’d Wait A Million Years sounds extremely catchy. Sometimes it gets a bit awkward, but overall, this mixture of pop/rock, rockabilly, doo=woop, soul and even salsa is  quite interesting, just because it is very rare. Hear it for yourself at:

https://soundcloud.com/munster/sets/chicas-vol-2-spanish-female

 

(Points: 7.8 out of 10)

 

THE LATE CALL 'GOLDEN' (TAPETE RECORDS/SONIC RENDEZVOUS)

 

Golden is the 4th album of The Late Call, which is in fact Stockholm-based, English-singing German musician Johannes Mayer, who together with Patric Thorman (bass, Hammond organ), Henrik Roger (piano, Mellotron) and Lars Plogschties (drums, percussion) recorded this album in Bremen, Germany in October 2014. Musically speaking this is high quality singer/songwriter indie folkrock with a modern style like we know it from bands like Calexico and War On Drugs, yet with a typical 1970s singer/songwriter approach as well, because you can also trace influences from John Martyn, Kris Kristofferson, Townes van Zandt, Steve Earle, etc. etc.. Highlights are the lovely Ghost world and The pack, but any song will do for fans of folkrock, because that is what this album is all about. You just put it on and dream away to the wide open fields where the sun and wind make you feel even more longing for the long summer days. I feel that this record could be Johannes’ breakthrough, if he has the luck that mass media will jump on it. If not, then check it out for yourself, because you don’t want to miss this masterpiece of singer/songwriter folkrock at: http://www.thelatecall.com

 

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)

 

JAY JACOBSON 'THE RIDE' (MOVING SOUND MUSIC/USA IMPORT)


The Beatles meets the Pet Shop Boys in an orchestral pop explosion with hints of trip-hop and dance... that is the description of Jay Jacobson’s music, although I would rather say it is a sorta 80s pop/rock style with a big orchestral instrumental back-up, making it sound bombastic and melodic. Jay is a singer songwriter from Philadelphia and already released 5 full-length albums and besides his music adventure, he is also a successful actor. The ride is his latest music CD, which is filled with 11 songs that musically speaking are clearly presenting the already mentioned 80s pop/rock sound, which sounds quite enthusiastic and almost every song has a positive vibe. Songs like I Need a Change, I Lived, In the Blue and Ghosting are the strongest, but if you like one tune you will instantly fall in love with all the tunes. It reminds me a bit of Howard Jones, but check it out for yourself at: http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/jayjacobson6 and http://www.jayjacobson.com/jayjacobsonbio.html


(Points: 7.6 out of 10)


HION MARTELL 'RIFFS IN A BOX' (INDEPENDENT/HEMIFRAN)

Formed back in 1992, the Swedish band Hion Martell has been on the scene for many years now, with a lot of releases. Through the years they developed their style from basic rock with a bluesy touch to a diverse rockband with a lot of soul, country, blues and heavy rock arrangements. Actually, the band’s original influences of Lynyrd Skynyrd, JJ Cale and Rolling Stones can be heard very clearly now and songs like No More Hard Times, Turn It Down and Working On It are very strong examples of the classic rocksound this band has now optimized on their latest album Riffs in a box. More at: http://www.hionmartell.com/ 

(Points: 7.8 out of 10)

NELSON WRIGHT 'ORPHANS AND RELICS' (INDEPENDENT/HEMIFRAN)

Seattle based singer songwriter Nelson Wright is influenced by Everly Brothers and Roy Orbison and despite you can also hear such influences, the similarities to a Bob Dylan and Neil Young are also quite obvious, while also Willie Nelson comes to mind here and there, especially during the calm acoustic pieces. The man is also not shy to rock out a few times and all together his latest record Orphans and relics is a nice somewhat raw sounding singer songwriter album that contains all the traditional American music influences (country blues, rockabilly, folk, etc.). Hear for yourself at: http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/nelsonwright2 and http://www.nelsonwright.com/

(Points: 7.8 out of 10)

WEST OF EDEN 'SONGS FROM TWISTING RIVER' (WEST OF MUSIC/HEMIFRAN)

West of Eden is a band from Gothenburg, Sweden, formed back in 1995 and playing folk/celtic rock that sounds as it was created in Ireland. The main core of the band is lead vocalist/accordIon player Jenny Schaub and her brother Martin Schaub, who also plays guitar and keyboards. The other members of the band are Lars Broman (Fiddle), Martin Holmlund (Bass), Ola Karlevo (Drums & Percussion) and Pär Öjerot (Guitars, Mandolin). For over 20 years they have been active and Songs from twisting river is their 7th album so far and musically speaking you really must think of the Chieftains and Riverdance, so typical Irish (and also British) folk music is what we get to hear and despite West Of Eden is hailing from Sweden, it definitely sounds dangerously close to a traditional Irish/British Folk band. Kate Rusby, a well-known British Folk musician, she is making a guest appearance and in the end, this album is highly recommended to fans of the British/Irish folk genre, so make sure to look up this band at: http://www.westofeden.com

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)

STEVE HILL 'SOLO RECORDINGS' (INDEPENDENT/USA IMPORT/HEMIFRAN)

Canadian guitarist/vocalist Steve Hill has played with Ray Charles, B.B. King, ZZ Top and Jeff Beck and while listening to his album Solo recordings, it is clear that we are dealing with a sensational musician, who can easily make it as big as Joe Bonamassa or Gary Clark Jr., because that is where you need to place his music, right between those 2 popular guitarists. Songs like I Want You To Love Me, Go On and Never is Such A Long Time sound very sensational, but basically this album grabs you right from the start until the very end, so there is not a single weak moment to be found here. Steve is not exactly a newbie, because he started at 16 years old as a guitarist and already 4 years later he performed over 200 times a year and in 1997 he released his debut album. Nowadays Steve is a so-called ‘One Man Band’, playing guitar, singing, playing drums and harmonica. He has already released 10 albums and in Canada and in the blues rock world he is a well-known musician, but he actually deserves so much more, because he is such a gifted musician with a fantastic voice and lovely guitarplaying. He can easily become a major musician worldwide, known to everyone, something which should already have happened actually, but instead the media is promoting countless second rate acts as latest sensation. Do yourself a favor and discover Steve Hill at: http://stevehillmusic.com

(Points: 8.7 out of 10)

JACK DAY 'THE FIRST TEN' (INDEPENDENT/USA IMPORT/HEMIFRAN)

The First ten is the debut album of London based singer songwriter Jack Day. Although the album has been out for a while and he did not had his breakthrough, the Brian O’Shaugnessy (Primal Scream and Beth Orton) produced album sounds very impressive and could have already meant his big break if he had been lucky enough to perform at Jools Holland or if he had received airplay via BBC radio. Sadly not and now in 2015 we are wondering ourselves what will happen when he releases a new album, because Jack Day could have been as big as Jake Bugg. Anyway, the raw vocals and mostly acoustic-driven folk are making him sound like a cross between Bob Dylan and Tom Waits. Shadows In The Sun is one of the highlights, but for fans of mentioned artists everything here sounds great, so go check out Jack at: www.jackday.net

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

SLOWMAN 'HAPPY BOY' (INDEPENDENT/HEMIFRAN)

Although Swedish singer/songwriter/guitarist Svante “Slowman” Törngren is already close to 60 years of age, he still sounds very strong and impresses on his 3rd CD Happy boy. Slowman already was in major label signed bands in Sweden during the 1980s and 1990s, but since his solo adventure started he focused on what he is best at, making beautiful singer/songwriter music with a diversity in styles that range from rock to folk to blues to heartland rock. Although opener Time is basically a great pure classic rock kinda tune that sounds very 1970s like BTO meets The Who, the rest of the album is more laid-back and closer to the heartland pop/rock of Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty and Michael Stanley, with as highlights Little Berlin, Every Heart Is Crying and Drowning Stones. The Calexico ish folk rockballad Nothing To Pretend is also nice to mentioned here, while the titletrack Happy Boy is a calm piece, but perhaps the most beautiful song on the album. So despite the fact that Slowman is already twice the age of all the young singer songwriters out there nowadays, he can easily compete with his latest album Happy boy. Go check it at: http://www.slowman.se

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)

KINESIS 4 'SATYAGRAHA' (OSH RECORDS/UK IMPORT)

 

Out of Southampton, UK comes the band Kinesis 4, whom deliver a nice diverse record that sounds like a mixture of 70s classic rock and 80s melodic rock, with prog, blues and even indie influences thrown in to shape an own identity. 9 tracks are included on the band's self produced debut album Satyagraha and as mentioned it all sounds extremely diverse. The album starts with Come With Me, which is a calm singer songwriter kinda piece, but when following track All I Need introduces hardrocking guitar riffs, there is no looking back and the band rocks on until the end of the CD.

 

The vocals could be stronger and the production makes it also sound like a 1983 record, but this does have its charm as well. I got a CDR, so I do not know whether the CD and Vinyl record may sound better, so let's now focus on the music for now, because that definitely gives you a cool-listening-adventure throughout the 1970s and 1980s rockgenres, because for example The Word Is Out is 70s classic rock at best and reminding of Blue Oyster Cult. In fact, B.O.C. might be the best comparison for Kinesis 4, doing things just a little different than the rest, which is making them likewise a recommended band to check out.

 

City Girl is a more uptempo 1980s kinda hardrock piece, a rather catchy tune actually in a classic 1983 style a la Rage (UK), Dokken and Vyper (Prepared to strike), while Whiskey Lips is almost pure early 1970s Glamrock a la T Rex. Going into pure melodic rock bliss is the next track Jingophile. The final 3 songs is bringing the band in a more progressive and experimental pop/rock direction (Get It Together, Feel Alright and The Enlightened), which needs to be heard a few more times to discover their whereabouts in those tunes.

 

Concluded, this album offers something for everyone and is worth listening to over and over again I feel. I do want to add that I only heard a CDR copy and would love to hear how this sounds like on a vinyl record and the band is working on that physical product release. Clearly an independent band, but that makes them interesting to check out at: 

http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/kinesis4 and http://www.kinesis4.com

 

(Points: 7.8 out of 10)

 

DANNY JAMES ETC. ‘PEAR’ (BURGER RECORDS/SONIC RENDEZVOUS)

 

Out of San Francisco comes Danny James Etc, a strong 1970s inspired psychedelic rockact that is formed around Danny James (Vocals, Bass, Keys), along with Michael Louis (guitar, bass, keys, drums), General Luau (rhythm guitar), Valentino (drums) and Joel Robinow (guitar). Pear is the band’s 2nd record, which musically is a high quality indie release that captures some of the best of 1970s psychedelic and melodic pop/rock, but also feels like an indie rock record sometimes. It reminds me a bit of Temples and Artful Dodger actually, but more diverse, because a song like Dear Heart is almost pure sympho/prog, while Lucke(y) is a great rocking piece and during a few songs, the high-pitched harmonyvocals make the band sound a bit like the Beach Boys. Lydia is a really strong hit potential kinda tune and if you ask me, there are a lot of great songs that could become radio winners. The combination of a light rocksound, psychedelica vibes and smooth sweet melodies, due to the high pitched vocal harmonies, this is making Danny James Etc. an interesting band to check out at: https://soundcloud.com/dannyjamesetcetera andhttps://dannyjames.bandcamp.com/album/pear

 

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

 

TORPUS AND THE ART DIRECTORS ‘THE DAWN CHORUS’ (GRAND HOTEL VAN CLEEF RECORDS/SONIC RENDEZVOUS)

 

The Dawn Chorus is the 2nd album of the German band and it could become their big breakthrough album, because despite it all might not sound really original, this is the kind of music that is currently made for the masses. Mix up War On Drugs, Calexico, Fleet Foxes and Mumford And Sons, with a big bombastic sound and sing-a-long choruses, then you have a big summer festival band. Thankfully, the band also offers more modest material that could be identified as singer/songwriter pieces and even a touch of 70s pop/rock can be heard. Highlights are the big anthemic first 2 cuts, In Hushed Tones (very melodic) and Dawn Song (70s rock influences, Templesstyle), Two Hearts, Water (midtempo), From Holding Your Hands (beautiful harmonyvocals) and Sleeping On The Backburner (War On Drugs style, sounding very close!). Do not miss this band, because you never know if they become the best new band of 2015! More at: www.torpus.de

 

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)

 

THE PORTER DRAW ‘THE PORTER DRAW’ (INDEPENDENT/HEMIFRAN)

 

The Porter Draw is the title of the 3rd album of the Albaquerque, New Mexico, USA based band The Porter Draw. Musically speaking a very interesting band, combining the classic traditional American music genres (bluegrass, Americana, southern rock and alternative country tangled rock’n’roll) and actually they are sounding very sensational. It’s a pity that I have not heard of them before, because this new album is without a doubt a true winner! The band was formed in 2007, already released 2 albums before this new one. Their line-up consists of Russell (vocals, guitar), Ben (vocals, banjo), Josh (vocals, guitars, mandolin, harmonica) and Joey (drums). Sounding like a cross between Lynyrd Skynyrd, J.D. McPherson, Mumford And Sons and especially The Jayhawks, this is a band to check out a.s.a.p. There’s some rawness in here, but also the typical American softer melodic approach can be heard, so it definitely feels like you are somewhere in the landscape of the USA while listening to this excellent record. Although some songs sound like covers or somehow quite familiar to your ears, like the superb classic southern rocker One more nightand the Irish traditional tingled sing-a-long folk uptempo piece County lines, these are almost all originals of the band, except for the lovely Bruce Springsteen cover I'm On Fire. The alternative country melodic rocker This town reminds me a bit of Sons Of Bill and the old R.E.M., so there’s a lot to explore here for the fan of all American music. Check it out for yourself asap at: http://theporterdraw.com

 

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)

 

CLOSE TALKER ‘FLUX’ (NEVADO RECORDS/DGR MUSIC)

 

The Canadian band Close Talker was a band that became finalist in a national TV organized talent search for best new band in 2013. Me personally, I am a sucker for those kind of contest that are held worldwide, also on local and/or regional level. This was something that was very popular during the 1980s, especially in the USA, where hundreds of local radio stations released compilation records, selecting the best bands and the winner went on recording an album with a (major) label. Good to see that in Canada even national TV is doing similar things and despite Close Talker did not win apparently, they released a full record titled Timbers and now follow it up with Flux. This album is filled with typical modern day pop/rock with catchy sing-a-long choruses, so basically not really original, but nevertheless very nice to listen to. There’s a sorta 80s The Cure touch and all together like every Canadian band it sounds very European. The Electronic Indie folkpop of Close Talker is made for the masses and songs like Heads, Blurring Days and For The Sun are radio-ready if you ask me. Just play it loud and on repeated mode and you have crowd pleasers for the upcoming festival season. The band also has room for more modest tunes, so it is not all bombastic and big sounding, which is a nice contrast. Canadians always deliver high class material and it is such a shame so few breakthrough outside their home country, because also Close Talker has got all the ingredients to become the next big band. Check them out for yourself at: www.closetalker.ca

 

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)

 

EAST CAMERON FOLKCORE ‘KINGDOM OF FEAR’ (GRAND HOTEL VAN CLEEF/SONIC RENDEZVOUS)

 

This is a really awkward strange band, because East Cameron Folkcore is featuring 11 bandmembers and is playing a sorta vague folk style with weird hardcore ish vocals. Although it works sometimes and is an interesting combination, such as during The joke and 969 and even The greater fool, which is a ballad actually. It also sounds a bit messy, but believe me, it is not bad at all. However, it really is something you need to check out for yourself and perhaps live on stage it all might have a much greater impact than on record. More at: www.eastcameronfolkcore.com and https://eastcameronfolkcore.bandcamp.com

 

(Points: 6.6 out of 10)





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