UPDATED ON  APRIL 11 - 2012


Singer/songwriter DEV AVIDON comes out of New York and releases his 2nd CD titled ‘Tears of men’. The included music is quite laid-back, at times even AOR/Westcoast ish, yet with very extraordinary vocals of Dev and also a clear Jazz or even Prog approach sometimes. Opener “Lost under the sun” is one of the more AOR type of songs, sounding like something GREG GUIDRY, AMBROSIA or VAN STEPHENSON could have recorded, but with a more modern approach in the arrangements. On the other hand, during a song like “Foot speed down on the ground” Dev is showing his diversity, because during this song he almost sounds like TOM WAITS. Vocally speaking, Dev really has a very original voice that is quite hard to compare, although I somehow keep reminding myself of the 80s Indie-Pop/Rock way of singing (think about THE HOUSEMARTINS, THE SMITHS and such). A song like “I’m getting old” is the perfect example of blending all these styles together, because 80s UK Indie-Poprock, late 70s Westcoast-AOR/Jazz and some Proggy arrangements in the PINK FLOYD style are combined here. The prog influences become even more prominent during one of the highlights on the album, namely the epic “In a garden now empty” that sounds dangerously close to some of the European Neo-Progbands like EVERON, GALAHAD, TWELFTH NIGHT and SYLVAN. In total 12 tracks are included and not a single moment you feel bored, because it all sounds quite good. Concluded, this is a very diverse record that features a lot of various styles that combined makes it a very interesting experience to explore. Check it out at:

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)



Although the Seattle based band SPEECH MACHIEN is actually a one-man’s band formed around multi-instrumentalist/singer/songwriter MARTIN CHARLEBOIS, there are a few guest musicians as well, including the current HEART drummer BEN SMITH. ‘3’ is already the 3rd album of SPEECH MACHINE and the included music is a mix of Classic Rock, a little Prog and a lot of Seattle Alternative 90s Rock. Although vocally Martin is not a real strong singer and sings most of the time in a low depressing kinda tone, instrumental and songwise this is a quality release that truly keeps holding on to the traditional Seattle sound of slow epic dark Alternative Rock. 13 songs are included and fans of NIRVANA, PEARL JAM, TEMPLE OF THE DOG, STONE TEMPLE PILOTS and CANDLEBOX will love this record for sure. Check it out for yourself at: 

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)



The first song “Goin’ to Carolina” on the debut album ‘Everything’s better in the south’ of the American band THE SANDERLINGS is a big catchy hit potential song that sounds retro and modern at the same time, reminding a bit of WHITE LIES, KINGS OF LEON and THE KILLERS, with a 80s synth and melody vibe going on that will not get out of your head after hearing it the first time. The next track “Tight shirts and sweaters” is a more drum/guitar riff based rocker that is clearly influenced by THE BLACK KEYS, once again with a very infective catchy chorus. These first 2 songs show that THE SANDERLINGS from Ohio is a band to watch out for in the near future. The album was released already 4 years ago and a new record is on it’s way. The title of the new record will be ‘Awesome opossum’, but that won’t be out until mid 2012, so we will have to live with this first album of 2008. It’s a pity not much attention has been given to the release, because this is quality stuff for sure and could well become quite massive it they have that lucky break. The music is melodic, rocking and very song based, with besides the already mentioned 2 songs, a lot more highlights to be found, such as THE DASHBURNS cover “Domesticated” (quite an awesome band, never heard the original!), the massive rocking “Ed teach” and closing track “Stephen’s branch”. Also would like to mention that here and there we can hear some very nice female backing vocals, such as during “Mustaches in Mexico”, but no mention who these girls are actually. This last mentioned song by the way features a great Classic 1970sish guitarsolo that is quite stunning! Anyway, the band were kind enough to sent me an additional recent CDR with already 4 new tracks of their upcoming new CD, all sounding quite promising and very diverse. Who knows, 2012 might be the year THE SANDERLINGS from Perrysburg, Ohio, USA will have their big break! Meanwhile, check them out at:

(Points: 8.4 out of 10)



Canadian female singer/songwriter ANDREA RAMOIO is one of the hardest working musicians the past few years, because after the release of her debut CD ‘Thank you for the ride’ in 2008, she has been touring all over Canada, from Vancouver to Newfoundland. Using only a van and her music equipment, she has played well over 500 shows, just to get her music heard by countless people who are unfamiliar with her music. Of course this is the best way to become known, because nowadays performing live is the way to become big and in Canada Andrea has by now built up quite a nice reputation. Outside of Canada, we need to be satisfied with her CDs, which so far include 2 releases and luckily both albums are filled with high quality music that is best described as calmer pure American based rootsy singer/songwriter pop/rock that mixes Country, Americana and Blues with the passionate soulful vocals of Andrea herself. The Nashville spirit is all over the place here and every song of the 10 in included on her latest CD ‘The shadows and the cracks’ are a must-hear for anyone who also enjoyed the likes of MIRANDA LAMBERT, SARAH EVANS, SARAH DARLING, SUNNY SWEENEY, SHERRI AUSTIN, THE CIVIL WARS, etc. etc. and from a deeper past even touching some ALANNAH MYLES and SASS JORDAN. There is quite a big difference between Andrea’s 2 records, because the latest one is mastered by the legendary BOB LUDWIG (who is quite known in the Rock/Metalworld), who gave it a sorta polished sound, unlike ‘Thank you for the ride’ which has a more raw approach. I have to admit that somehow I really like the somewhat rougher unpolished approach on her debut CD, because already from the start it really shows the beauty of Andrea’s voice. Opener “Miss uncensored” and “Owl eyes” for example feature some really excellent/amazing vocal stretching of Andrea, which is less hearable on the new CD. One way or the other, both CDs will fulfill a lot of listening pleasure and without a doubt, Andrea is a real talented musician. Hopefully we will able to see her performing live on stage one day outside Canada as well, because in Europe there aren’t many female singer/songwriters as good as Andrea. Currently Andrea is also working together with another female singer/songwriter from Canada, CINDY DOIRE, with whom she is preparing an album release under the moniker SCARLETT JANE. Meanwhile check out Andrea at:

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)



LANA LANE is back and the particular new record ‘El Dorado Hotel’ is perhaps her finest album in many years! I remember it well when I heard and reviewed her debut back in the mid 1990s and I didn’t expect then that after all this time LANA LANE would still be able to make records in more or less the same style, because right from the start, the new album takes you on a journey that brings some of the best Symphonic Melodic Rock available at the moment. It seems like nothing has changed since 1995, although I have to admit that her previous album ‘Red planet boulevard’ from 5 years ago was slightly disappointing, but one can not say anything bad about this new LANA LANE masterpiece, which is way up there with her earlier records and the classics she released in the early 2000s. Lana’s voice is still one of the finest in the female singer world and the included 10 songs on the album are without a doubt of a very high level. Opener “A dream full of fire” opens in the familiar LANA LANE Symphonic Melodic Rockstyle and immediately shows that this is going to be a fantastic album. Other highlights are the haunting calmer epic songs “El Dorado” and “Hotels” and the uptempo Melodic Rocker “Gone are the days” that all feature some beautiful melodies sung by Lana at her absolute best! Although already 10 studio-albums have been released, this new record delivers the goods once again, showing LANA LANE is still able to come up with some excellent new material. Welcome back Lana and of course ERIK NORLANDER, her husband who took care of the production, songwriting, keyboards, additional guitars, bass and programming. More info on LANA LANE at:

(Points: 8.8 out of 10)



Out of Canada comes female singer/songwriter NORINE BRAUN, who already released a bunch of albums in the past, with ‘No.8’ likewise being her 8th album so far. Musically speaking her new CD ‘No.8’ is a very diverse record, because there’s Jazz, Blues, Singer-Songwriter, Folk, Pop, Rock, Alternative Country, Americana, etc. etc. Happily, it’s all done at a very high level and among the highlights I have to add the opener “Drift away”, which rocks a little and especially the singer-songwriter orientated “Midnight” and the almost JEFFERSON AIRPLANE typed “I will I won’t” contain both some excellent vocal melodies of Norine. It is very clear that Norine is a gifted musician whose music should be heard worldwide. I am not familiar with her earlier work, but for the real musicfans out there, this singer/songwriter from Vancouver, Canada is worth checking out at:

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)



2 years ago we reviewed the same titled debut CD of the French band DELUSION SQUARED and now they are back with the follow-up, simply titled ‘2’. Musically speaking of course nothing has changed, so we can once again enjoy quality Neo-Progressive/Symphonic Rock with a nice mixture of big massive keyboards by EMMANUEL DE SAINT MEEN (who also plays bass), melodic precise guitarwork of STEVEN FRANCIS (who also plays drums) and the haunting female vocals of LORRAINE YOUNG. The 9 lengthy tracks take you on that typical Progressive Rock journey we have heard many times before, but if it is done well then it is no problem at all. Lorraine’s vocals are high-pitched most of the time and actually quite unusual for this type of music sometimes. Although Lorraine is no KATE BUSH or TORI AMOS, she is singing in the same vibrato on each and every song, which might put some people off. Instrumental, the band sounds rather perfect and it is a very enjoyable ride that should especially be checked by fans of KARNATAKA, LANDMARQ, MOSTLY AUTUMN, RENAISSANCE and such female fronted proggy bands. More info at:

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)



MEN WHO LISTEN is a Chicago based band formed around guitarist/keyboardplayer DAN POKORNI, who is assisted by the excellent lead singer JEFF ANTHONY and several other musicians on the latest mini-CD ‘2’. The album was co-produced by STYX producer GARY LOIZZO and musically speaking we are listening to high quality American Progressive Melodic Pomprock that sounds like a somewhat more straight-forward version of NEAL MORSE mixed with catchy STYXish melodies. The 4 included songs all have a full sound, starting with the proggy opener “As far as we can go”, which is the best cut by the way, reminding of SPOCK’S BEARD and TRANSATLANTIC. Next track is “Bad days”, an uptempo Melodic Rocker, while the following track “Cast our love away” is a midtempo piece that recalls memories of KING’S X and CROWN OF THORNS. Closing track is the epic ballad “Change in the blink of an eye” that somehow reminds me of DIVING FOR PEARLS, yet with a sort of mid 90s approach. Interesting band and who knows a future full-length CD might see them releasing a sensational record, because they surely know how to create high quality music here. Check them out at:

(Points: 8.1 out of 10)



The Portland, Oregon based trio consists of Adam Shearer and Alia Farah of the band WEINLAND and Adam Selzer of NORFOLK AND WESTERN and M. WARD. Together they create the kind of music, which is very popular in Europe with acts like FLEET FOXES, IRON AND WINE, BON IVER, BAND OF HORSES, BLAUDZUN and FIRST AID KIT being heavily praised by the quality press. On the band’s debut self titled debut CD we can hear music that sometimes is at the same level as aforementioned acts, so the 10 included songs take you on a nostalgic journey to the 1970s with an acoustic guitar and mostly harmonyvocals. FLEET FOXES is a very good comparison of course, but why not mention SIMON AND GARFUNKEL or LEONARD COHEN here and there as well. Actually it wouldn’t surprise me if THE ALIALUJAH CHOIR will become the next big thing, because their songs are all really beautiful back-to-basic honest sounding. A song like “I swear I saw you” brings out the best in the band, because this is an uptempo piece with an haunting and rather catchy melody, sounding just so dangerously close to the early FLEET FOXES. If the press in Europe picks this one up, who knows what will follow for this American band. Check them out at:

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)



On the 11 of March 2012 it is exactly 1 year ago that the earthquake tragedy struck Japan and the first anniversary comes along with this tribute CD that is a cover of the THE BEATLES classic “Help”. 4 versions can be found on this CD-single, with many European vocalists contributing (vocalists from bands like HELLOWEEN, EDGUY, PINK CREAM 69, KROKUS, TNT, AXXIS, BONFIRE…). The actual campaign was started by FAIR WARNING singer TOMMY HEART, who also sings a full version on his own here and I do feel that this is the best one on the CD, although the Live Aid/We Are The World version of “Help” in it’s extended version is also quite nice and so is the guitar version that features FAIR WARNING guitarist HELGE ENGELKE. Anyway, this is very nicely done and hoefully a lot of money will be made with the sale of the CD-single, because all proceeds will go directly to the Japanese Red Cross.


(Points: 8.0 out of 10)



Calm acoustic tingled singer songwriter (with drums) quality stuff summer ish clean melodic vocal, also some uptempo tunes such as Letters of my youth” catchy tunes actually

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)



A strong voice, a tight well-produced hardrockin’ sound and a catchy tune, that is all it takes to get the attention at the start of a CD and gladly EGONAUT succeeds on their first full-length CD ‘Electric’. The band comes out of a small Swedish town that is located somewhere between the cities of Goteborg and Boras. Their music is massive guitar riff based Hardrock with elements of Sleazy Rock, Melodic Heavy Rock and traditional Metal. They have already shared the stage with bands like HAMMERFALL, SONIC SYNDICATE and HARDCORE SUPERSTAR and already released 3 EP’s before this album. Formed in 2005, they have built up a reputation as live-band and now are releasing a strong debut album that is filled with big massive Hard/Heavy Rock that here and there comes even dangerously (in a good way) close to classic early 90s Sleazy Hardrock of their country mates of NASTY IDOLS, although perhaps CRASH DIET and HARDCORE SUPERSTAR might be better comparisons, especially during the catchy uptempo headcrushers “Back home” and “Generation waste”, both being excellent sing-a-long tunes that would make MOTLEY CRUE and SKID ROW jealous! Live this band will probably get everyone in a really good mood with their mostly uptempo sing-a-long guitar riff based Rock and Roll. More info at:

(Points: 8.1 out of 10)



FOR THE TAKING is a New York based band that sent me a really great mini-CD titled ‘Blackout’. Although the 4 included songs do not sound very original and are pure typical modern day American Rock, combining distorted heavy groovy guitar based Metal riffs with catchy melodies, it is all done very well thankfully. So you have got the usual similarities to SHINEDOWN, DISTURBED, RED, THREE DAYS GRACE, CREED, ALTER BRIDGE, THREE DAYS GRACE, DAUGHTRY and such, but nevertheless it is done at such a high level you just can’t stop listening. A song like “Angel” is modern American Rock at it’s best, very catchy and massive sounding and therefore this band is highly recommended to fans of mentioned bands. Hopefully we’ll see a full-length CD someday soon, but in the meantime check them out at:

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)



There once was a band called THE LOVELL SISTERS, a group of musicians from the US State of Georgia formed around 3 sisters, Jessica, Megan and Rebecca Lovell. Their music was described as progressive acoustic, which in reality meant they were mixing influences from Folk, Pop, Americana, Bluegrass and Country. The music was very melodic, especially thanks to the tight harmonyvocals of the Lovell Sisters. However, after 2 CDs and a DVD, one of the sisters decided to quit and concentrate on college, so the 2 others had to continue together and they decided to choose a new bandname. So they are now called LARKIN POE and the most remarkable thing they have done up until now the past 2 years is releasing 4 EP-CDs, each of them dedicated to 1 of the 4 seasons. Musically no major changes, except maybe for a lead and harmonyvocal less, but LARKIN POE is also mixing the traditional American music genres with very strong melodies. Although these are called EP’s, I have to inform that they are still quite lengthy, with a total of 6 up to 9 tracks sometimes on a single EP. No major differences between the records, because they all bring an excellent mix of Americana, Bluegrass, Country and oh, so many different vocal melodies by mainly REBECCA LOVELL, really beautiful and interesting to listen to from start to finish. The total package of the 4 EPs supply 28 tracks, with still up to 100 minutes of high quality music. Starting with the ‘SPRING’ EP, we hear some interesting vocal chops, such as during the great “Burglary” and “Shadows of ourselves” as well as the uptempo Bluegrass tune “Long hard fall”. With 9 tracks in total, the longest running CD of the 4. Up next is of course the ‘SUMMER’ EP, which seems a little more polished than the spring EP. Highlights here are ”Praying for the bell”, “Wrestling a stranger” (a nice very melodic almost Westcoast ish piece) and “Enough for you” (great ballad). The ‘FALL’ EP offers some experimental moves from LARKIN POE. “Just in case” for example is a very haunting song that grabs you due to it’s catchy beat and melody, with even an electric guitarsolo, while closing track “Fall from the tree” is a good relaxing bluesy track. So basically this EP is bringing some slight changes in the LARKIN POE style, although the band’s signature sound is kept well in place. The final EP is then the ‘WINTER’ EP, which is a little more polished again, especially during the start with “Desert dream, Taller than a tall man”, which sounds a lot like LOVELL SISTERS and even recalls THE WEBB SISTERS as well as FIRST AID KIT. Most of the songs on this EP are beautiful sweet popsongs, with of course a Folk or Americana kinda approach here and there. If you’re not familiar with THE LOVELL SISTERS of LARKIN POE yet and you’re a fan of THE WEBB SISTERS, FIRST AID KIT, DIXIE CHICKS, THE JEZABELS, CIVIL WARS, ALISON KRAUSS then you will absolutely love all these EP’s. There’s even a slight touch of let’s say AMY WHINEHOUSE/ADELE’s type of whining can be heard a few times, although musically speaking LARKIN POE is more interesting and diverse, leaving room for a lot of various arrangements. More to be expected from this band in the future and who knows their 3rd sister will someday rejoin her 2 sisters and it will be THE LOVELL SISTERS again. Nevertheless, also LARKIN POE is bringing music of a very high level, which you can check out at:

(Points: 8.8 out of 10)



Somewhere else you can read a review of the CD of ANDREA RAMOIO, who is the other half of the new band SCARLETT JANE, of which Canadian singer/songwriter CINDY DOIRE is also part of. Later this year we will hopefully be able to review a full-length CD of that band, but in the meantime we have both ladies releasing new solo-records. CINDY DOIRE’s latest record ‘Sticks and mud’ is her first English sung album, because her earlier albums were sung in French. Musically speaking the album is quite relaxing and even a bit mysterious. It is kinda like art, because you have to listen to it over and over again before you fully understand it and the song “Spill me down the river” is a good example, as this somewhat dark mysterious song is actually not too far away from JOHNNY CASH, but with female vocals of course. Quite the opposite are the 2 great uptempo catchy pieces “The road’s a temptress” and “If the creek don’t rise”, both even reminding a bit of IMELDA MAY, so a touch of Rockabilly can be heard here. “Rose Pink Wine” is a very strong original song that combines a jazzy mood shuffle beat with a memorable chorus and quite haunting mysterious vocals from Cindy. Closing track “Singer speaks in tongues” is a great midtempo rockier piece that actually changes the direction 360 degrees into an almost ALANNAH MYLES/SASS JORDAN kinda territory, so with a little bluesy touch and a rocking beat a la “All together now” – THE BEATLES and even LED ZEPPELIN/BILLY SQUIER. Some great vocalwork on this closing track, very rocking kinda singing, unlike the rest of the CD, which is more the singer-songwriter style like ANE BRUN, ANA CALVI, LAURA GIBSON. A song like “Mama’s last song” even touches 1920s Jazz like LEE AARON attempted to do one time during the late 1990s, although this song even reminds me of CARO EMERALD. “Anne Bonny” has an even more original arrangement, feeling like you stepped into a small Texas town in the 1800s! Concluded, this CD is very diverse and not just the typical singer/songwriter kinda direction, as a lot of surprising arrangements can be heard and Cindy shows she is a really excellent vocalist, who can deal quite easily with so many musical changes on a single CD. This could be massive in Europe where they eat this sort of stuff alive! Check out more at:

 (Points: 8.4 out of 10)



This female singer/songwriter from Oregon, USA sang a couple of excellent AOR tracks way back in the early 1980s, all to be found on a soundtrack of the movie ‘No small affair’ on which she actually was the singing voice of DEMI MOORE. She was nicely situated on that vinyl record I have in front of me, because included with fewer tracks than Chrissy were acts that also were waiting for their big break, although FIONA and TWISTED SISTER were actually already signed to a major label deal and scored massive hits after this soundtrack was released in 1984. Somehow CHRISSY FAITH did not secure that wanted major label deal, but on the other hand she still became very successful behind the scenes as she recorded and sang with major acts like KISS, MEATLOAF, LEONARD COHEN, WHITNEY HOUSTON (R.I.P.), MICHAEL BOLTON and loads more. Anyway, it somehow took until 2011 before CHRISSY FAITH would release an official CD, but here it is in the shape of ‘It’s about time’. Not really AORish, but nevertheless a very nice bluesy pop/jazz and quite smooth melodic affair is what we get to hear from start to finish, with some great guitarwork as well. Highlights are “It’s about time”, “Blue perfume” and “Free” (best song, AORish). There are also a few covers on the disc, which are done quite well, although I personally prefer the originals, but closing track “Darkness darkness” is a nice cover of the classic by JESSE COLLIN YOUNG. Perhaps the AOR fan will be slightly disappointed here, because there’s no AOR type of material included here, but nevertheless the album is a pleasure to listen to, thanks to the excellent lead vocals of Chrissy. Check it out for yourself at:

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)



Canadian singer/songwriter ARIANA GILLIS is just in her early twenties, but already releasing a sensational album titled ‘Forget me not’. It’s actually not her debut, because she already released an album when she was just 19 years old and at 17 already had an EP release. Anyway, the new album of her sounds really perfect, which is especially thanks to Arian’s superb vocalwork that is just picture-perfect, both in the lower register and in the high octave range, where she is even able to reach the TORI AMOS/KATE BUSH territory. The music is a mix of Blues, Folk, Americana and a little Country, spread on 11 tracks. The CD starts with 2 great rocking tracks (“Money money” and ”Forget me not”), both sounding a bit like the classic ALANNAH MYLES sound. The rest of the album follows a slightly calmer approach, on which we can really enjoy the wonderful vocals of Ariana. “Dream street” is a calmer song, while “The cove” is folksy with some interesting high pitched vocals of Ariana in the JONI MITCHELL style. After the short speaking words in “John and the monster (prologue)”, the ballad of the same title follows. “Samuel Starr” is up next and this is a hit potential catchy uptempo tune, a folky Americana type of song. Following track ”Cannonball Sam” is a calm folk/country ballad that is really beautiful once again and features some amazing harmonyvocals a la PIERCES/WEBB SISTERS, while the song itself gets a twist halfway when it changes into an upbeat country shuffle rocker. Slowing things down during the bluesy “Snap crack”, we are welcomed by one of the more commercial tunes on the album, which is the midtempo radiofriendly poprocker “Back on the hill”, that contains many interesting changes in the vocal department, so definitely sensational stuff. Closing track “Oh the world” is a calm, very high pitched KATE BUSH/TORI AMOS type of song. Concluded, we have a real winner here, a new sensation from Canada, vocally unbelievable and musically offering nothing but high quality stuff on her new CD. Her name is ARIANA GILLIS and for more info go to:

(Points: 8.9 out of 10)



GRETCHEN PETERS is an American singer/songwriter, born in New York, raised in Boulder, Colorado, but relocating to Nashville back in the late 1980s, from where she really got into the music business. She started (co-) writing songs with/for MARTINA MCBRIDE, ETTA JAMES, FAITH HILL, TRISHA YEARWOOD, GEORGE STRAIT, NEIL DIAMOND and BRYAN ADAMS. Especially FAITH HILL and MARTINA MCBRIDE scored quite big in the USA with songs that were written by Gretchen. However, in 1995 her solo career started with the release of her debut album

'The Secret of Life' and now 17 years later she already releases her 7th solo-CD in the shape of 'Hello cruel world'. There are guest appearances by Will Kimbrough, Vicktor Krauss, Barry Walsh and Rodney Crowell on the new record and in total 11 tracks are included. Musically speaking it is very

beautiful and quite melodic, mostly in the Classic US Country-Poprock/ Nashville style, yet there are some improvisations here and there, with also Gretchen's love for Classic Singer-Songwriter style music shining through when backing things up with an acoustic guitar only and Americana influences are also present. It is especially thanks to Gretchen's superb lead vocals and her songwriting that this CD is moving into a higher level than the usual albums released in this genre. Of course Nashville is the place to be for this kind of music and if you're a fan of the mentioned artists, you're going to love this album just as well. Without a doubt, GRETCHEN PETERS is a singer/songwriter who should be up there with the big girls in this genre. With already 7 albums in her solo catalogue and a dozen songs recorded by other singers, Gretchen actually belongs to the best and let's just hope that this new record 'Hello cruel world' will reach many people, because it truly deserves to be heard by everyone. Each song is a beautiful piece of art and so well-crafted that it immediately takes you on a journey into Gretchen's world. A lot of the songs are quite laid-back, honest and very emotional, with a clear focus on the haunting melodies sung by Gretchen, especially during "Five minutes" and the amazing "Camille", but when things are speed up to a more uptempo Country-Rockish level, it also sounds really impressive, such as can be heard on the excellent "Woman on the wheel". I honestly hope that this album reaches a wide audience, because from start to finish this is music perfection. Check out all info on Gretchen at:

(Points: 8.8 out of 10)



There once was an amazing huge Progressive Rockscene in Italy going on, but ever since the 1970s ended, most progressive rockbands quit and only the really big ones continued. The past 2 decades however we have seen new bands popping up here and there, although most of them are playing a more progmetal orientated style and so it is surprising to finally see something that is really influenced by the prog or should I say 1970s Symphonic Rocksound of Italian bands like LE ORME, PFM and such. Funny thing is that it concerns one person here, who is doing everything on his own. Italian multi-instrumentalist MARIO COTTARELLI is his name and 70s prog/sympho with keys and synths in the style of YES and ALAN PARSONS PROJECT is what we can hear a lot of times. 5 lengthy songs are included on the CD, with the lyrics being in Italian. Vocally Mario is not the best singer and on a future CD I hope this will improve. Perhaps Mario is able to use an external lead singer next time, but instrumental we can hear some very nice and interesting song structures, with Mario showing his skills on especially the keyboard/synthesizer. Fans of mentioned bands will probably like this adventure a lot, so go check it out for yourself at:

(Points: 7.6 out of 10)



I think singer/songwriter VICTORIA CELESTINE is one of the youngest musicians I have ever reviewed personally, because this girl was born in San Antonio back in 1996, Texas and she just released her first official CD titled 'From the outside'. She started playing piano and singing at an early age and when she recently picked up the guitar, she also started writing songs, resulting in this official debut CD release. In Texas she has already achieved some success and I think it's only a matter of time and aging before she has a much bigger break in the music scene. Here in Europe we have a lot of young female singer/songwriters that follow the dream of BIRDY, a British singer who is one of the most successful in this genre so far. Victoria is vocally speaking not too far away from BIRDY actually, but also sounds like a young version of NORAH JONES here and there. The fact that she already writes her own songs and plays guitar at the tender age of 15 should be a sign for better things to come in the future. I do feel that if she can make it to let's say musicians's paradise Nashville to learn more of the singer/songwriter side of life, that could easily result into her future albums sounding even better and more mature than 'From the outside' already is. The music is a little less based on traditional American music of the country/singer-songwriter style, because Victoria feels more at home with songs that feel like a combination of Folk, Popmusic and French Chanson. She has already worked with GORDON RAPHAEL (REGINA SPEKTOR, THE STROKES...) a few years ago and now this rather professional official first full-length CD is released. Songs like "In the Headlights", "Soul Searching", "Run" and "Tell me" feel very honest and sound like sweet folksy popsongs with some light jazzy arrangements in the same style as NORAH JONES and KATIE MELUA. All done very well and it may be clear that this is just the start and the future will definitely bring a lot more for this Texas based young female singer/songwriter. More at: and

(Points: 8.1 out of 10)



Not much info on this Singer-Songwriter from Santa Cruz and also sadly only 1 song is included on the CDR Rob sent us, so I can not write a lot about him, but without a doubt, that one song “Another breath” is a very good melodic song that fits somewhere between smooth singer/songwriter music and breezy Californian Westcoast Pop/Rock. Well done and let’s hope we can review some more material in the future of ROB OWEN. More at:

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)



Multi-instrumentalist GREG WALLACE is coming out of Naperville, which is basically a suburb of Chicago. He sent me a couple of his albums and a new song, which he just finished. Musically speaking it is sorta Classic American Rock and Singer/Songwriter combined here, with a strong love for the 1970s and here and there also the 1960s. Powerpop, THE BEATLES and even a little STYX and CHEAP TRICK pass by, but I have to inform you that it is clearly low-budget what we get to hear. It’s a pity no big production was available to record this music, because the harmonyvocals and choruses of the songs do even recall NELSON (BROTHERS), but due to the cheaper sound quality it is impossible to compare this material to that of major label acts. Nevertheless, Greg shows he is a talented musician, is able to write and perform good quality original material, but vocally he needs to improve as well, because there is some struggling to be heard. See and hear at:

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)



In the early 2000s we reviewed the sensational demo CDR of the Finish band HUMAN TEMPLE. Shortly after the band was signed to ESCAPE MUSIC and in 2004 they released their debut ‘Insomnia’. The particular album was a very strong album that belonged to the better Melodic Rock releases of that year. However, it became quiet and it took them 6 years to follow-up the album with a new CD entitled ‘Murder of Crows’. Just 2 years later another album is released and although there are no real surprises to be found, we can once again enjoy typical Scandi Melodic Hardrock that sounds quite catchy. Not original but done very nicely and reminding of a long forgotten past when bands like DAVINCI, DALTON, TREAT, FATE and such ruled the Scandi Rockscene. The lead singer of HUMAN TEMPLE, JANNE HURME, he also has a solo career and a very successful one actually, because he scored one of the biggest singles in Finland back in the 1990s. However, with HUMAN TEMPLE it’s his time to rock and thankfully also the new album has a lot of great moments. If we run through the track listing of the CD, it starts with “I will follow” (faster uptempo melodic heavy rock a la MAD MAX, very early EUROPE great song!), followed by “Bleeding through” (ok uptempo melodic hardrock), “Like a beat of a heart” (lovely uptempo melodic rocker, very catchy TALISMANish tune), “Our world our time” (semi melodic rocker, nice song), “Almost there” (pure 80s catchy Melodic Rock, very close to classic TALISMAN), “Run away” (more good 80s melodic rock), “Little lies” (the FLEETWOOD MAC cover, please don’t do that anymore as it nowhere near reaches the level of the original!), “Because of you” and “Misery” (both ok uptempo rockers), “Some things are never long time ago” (very good catchy 80s Melodic Rock) and the CD closes nicely with the semi melodic rockballad “She talks to angels”. So this is a nice little record, not as good as their debut from 8 years ago, but still featuring a nice deal of 80s Scandi Melodic Hardrock. Vocally it is not superstrong, as lead singer Janne Hurme does have a slight accent. However, don’t let that bring you down, because fans of the DALTON, DAVINCI, TREAT, EUROPE way of life will surely appreciate this record, which by the way also features a guest appearance by Emppu Vuorinen from NIGHTWISH. Check out all info on the band at:

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)



Out of Wichita, Kansas, USA comes the band SOULICIT, whom are making their debut with the album 'Parking Lot Rockstar'. The record was produced by BRETT HESTLA (DARK NEW DAY, CREED) and sounds quite huge thanks to the larget budget the band probably received for the recording/production process. Musically speaking SOULICIT is close to the perfect American Hardrocksound we also heard from bands like BUCKCHERRY, HINDER, FUEL, THREE DOORS DOWN, ALTER BRIDGE, CREED, SIXX AM, DAUGHTRY and such the past few years. A little bit rawer here and there perhaps, with a strong Classic Rock love, the typical American modern way of groovy guitar riff based midtempo Melodic Hardrock is continued on this record and follows the path taken by afforementioned bands. Crystal clear produced, the record offers a bunch of radio-ready well-crafted rocksongs that when it is done as well as on this record leaves you impressed for sure. The highlights on the album are "Complicated", "Too Cold To Pray", "Beauty Queen" and "Time To Fly", all semi- to midtempo based rocksongs with catchy melodic choruses and also some biting guitarwork. the band was formed way back in 2002, so they have gone a long way, but lead vocalists/guitarist Darick Parson, lead guitarist/vocalist Dan "The Danimal" Weaver, bassist/vocalist Andrew Weaver & drummer Trent Boehner are now on track with already several hit singles from this album out there. Although nothing new is shown here, SOULICIT is definitely a quality band in the rockgenre and anyone into the earlier mentioned bands will absolutely eat this band alive. More info at:

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)



The American band or should I say project TELERGY is lead by composer/producer/multi-instrumentalist ROBERT MCCLUNG, who gathered musicians from all over the world to play on the album ‘The exodus’. Robert himself plays all the main instruments here, but in addition there are guest appearances by Hoi Yan Joyce Pang (Violinist from China), Adam and Tim Nunes (Violinist and cellist with the Boston based band "The Nero Complex"), Kristen Miller (a highly acclaimed New England based Cellist), Mattan Klein (Jazz flutist from Israel), Alix Victorin (Haitian born keyboard virtuoso), Rob Harvie: (Australian trained didgeridoo guru), Isaiah Freeman IV (Baritone vocalist with the popular gospel group "Called II Worship"), Bat-ya Yehya (talented young Israeli vocalist), Laura Sanscartier (Soprano with the Boston Pops and back up singer for JAMES TAYLOR), Tom Doyle (New England based rock vocalist), Bruce Gatchell (Baritone vocalist and musical director) and Sandi Clark (Actress and civil rights activist). So this is a very long list of guest musicians whom together have an enormous experience in diverse fields of the music business. The CD has an impressive massive sound, very much into the Progressive Rock/Progmetal field, but still not the typical progalbum we hear every day. Besides the excellent guitarwork of Robert in this mostly instrumental piece of work, the vocals are very diverse and are usually heard in genres related to World Music. Combined with Classical music influences, this CD is actually feeling like it is a soundtrack, although on the other hand there it is also showing signs of a Concept Progmetal ish album due to the child/grandmother conversations in between the songs. TRANS-SIBERIAN ORCHESTRA might as well be the best comparison here, with as one of the highlights the song “Escape”, which is quite an awesome uptempo piece that features some amazing guitarwork. All together this is a very interesting album and for more info you need to go to:

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)



The San Francisco based band MAE TAR is sounding very original. Although there are traces of prog and rock to be found in their music, they are actually offering a sorta funky Soul Pop influenced music style with some prog twists here and there. The female vocals are quite out-of-the-ordinary, quirky and very experimental sometimes, reminding of what NINA HAGEN did in the early 1980s. There is a sense of theatrical weirdiness around most of the songs as well, even reminding of something NIGTHWISH did a few times on their most recent album, which can best be heard during the rockier “Screed”. However, frankly speaking this MAE TAR is a very unique band with a sound that fits somewhere between NINA HAGEN and FRANK ZAPPA, with a touch of prog during the complex instrumental breaks and songstructures and the album they released ‘From these small seeds’ is really something for the absolute open-minded musicfans out there. Check it for yourself at:

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)



Now it is time for something different, because JOSEPH SOLLINGER is a musician who is settled in the World Music genre on his solo-CDs, although his background comes surprisingly from the Metalworld. I haven't heard his earlier albums, so I can not compare this new CD 'Earth voyage', but what we get to hear here on Joseph's 3rd record is an instrumental album that mixes World Music influenced music (due to the use of exotic percussion and other instruments) and very precice melodic (mainly acoustic) guitarwork. I guess you can say that guitarists like JOE SATRIANI, STEVE VAI, NEAL SCHON, etc. have also done something like this in the past, playing with that sort of exotic touch in the arrangements, but not in the SANTANA style, as it actually has more a sort of spiritual new age feeling crossed with latin, classical and flamenco influences. Joseph currently lives in Mexico and on the new album we can actually hear performances by members of the Mexico City Philharmonic Orchestra. The album really feels like a journey through the nature side of our beloved planet we call earth. Gorgeous picture-perfect acoustic (and some electric) guitarwork is backed up by smooth sounds that really makes you feel like you're either close to an ocean on some deserted tropical island or deep in the tropical rainforest. One way or the other, the feeling is right when hearing this disc and Joseph is an amazing guitarist. Check it out at:

(Points: 8.4 out of 10)



Although this New York based male/female duo is compared to THE WHITE STRIPES and THE KILLS, their music is actually a little more diverse and clearly shows a lot of other influences from Rock’s rich past. In fact, the band goes from straight-ahead late 1960s Garage Rock to calm singer/songwriter music to pure Blues to even Punkrock! Vocally it is very strong, with the female vocals going into a classic GRACE SLICK vibrato. Actually the band reminds me a lot of JEFFERSON AIRPLANE, early EARTH AND FIRE, SHOCKING BLUE… The CD starts with “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Indian Blood”, a great heavy Garage Rocker in the late 60s style, but as already mentioned, the diversity takes over after this rocking opener, because songs like “Walk Away” (very nice ballad type of slow tempo song, very melodic), “Fuzzy Little Creatures” (an almost singer-songwriter type of song, with excellent vocalwork), the bluesy “It Hurts Me Too” and “Black Cat”, the  THE ANIMALS (!) cover “House of the Rising Sun”, the 60s shuffle beat rocker with great raw vocals “Dust My Broom”, “World Inside My Head” (uptempo dirty mean Punkrock!) , the highlight of the album “The Personal is Political” (slow epic ballad type of song, with emotional vocals, very impressive song) and closing track “HoKa He! (featuring activist Tiokasin Ghosthorse, who survived the “Reign of Terror” from 1972 to 1976 on the Pine Ridge, Rosebud and Cheyenne River Lakota Reservations) show that this band can go in many different directions. Combined with some great female vocals, this THE LAST INTERNATIONALE from New York is a band to watch out for in the near future. In the meantime check out their site at:

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)



KRISTOFER ASTROM is a Swedish Singer/Songwriter, who is quite a busy guy, because as a member of the band FIRESIDE he already released a lot of records. However, his solo career seems to be even more productive, with his latest release ‘From eagle to sparrow’ being his 8th full-length CD so far and then we are not even counting all the EP releases he has done. Anyway, this new solo-CD contains acoustic tingled music, just a man, his voice and the guitar, but also here and there a little more uptempo with drums (“Taser gun”). Most of the time reminding of FLEET FOXES, but vocally darker and lower in the (let’s say) THE SMITHS/ROBERT SMITH (THE CURE) and even here and there JOHNNY CASH department. Definitely quality stuff what we get to hear and very back-to-basic orientated with an acoustic guitar and a voice. Of course a must-have for anyone already familiar with Kristofer, but the regular fans of singer/songwriter music may also want to hear this. More info at:

(Points: 8.1 out of 10)



Californian singer/songwriter STEVEN GRAVES releases his third CD with ‘Matter of time’ and despite the fact that the bio mentions it is a mix of Americana, Reggae, Americana, Country and Jazz Fusion, the opener “Right from the heart” kinda surprised me, because this is an almost AORish laid-back uptempo Westcoast piece with excellent female vocals of ARIEL THIERMANN (hopefully more on her soon!) and some really lovely catchy melodies. That song is exactly the sound you need to hear when you’re somewhere stranded on a Californian beach. The track listing review on the bio sheet is perhaps a very good guide to get through the journey of STEVEN GRAVES, because after this marvelous breeze opening cut, the rest of the album is taking things to other places, moving into the genres mentioned earlier on in the review. It is a very diverse album that might appeal to not only fans of NEIL YOUNG, but also for example BOB MARLEY fans will enjoy a couple of songs and BOB DYLAN influences are also very clear, but perhaps the most striking song is the prog influenced “First Winter Sun” that is dangerously close to PINK FLOYD. Still I personally would have loved to hear more songs like that first track “Right from the heart”, which is a song that makes you long back to the 1970s when music was supposed to sound melodic. More info at:

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)



ELVENSTORM is a French female fronted Power Metal band that releases a typical traditional European Melodic Metalalbum that thanks to the vocals of Laura Ferreux and the fast uptempo style of most of the 9 included tracks is best compared to the early WARLOCK sound, although more recently also bands like CRYSTAL VIPER and SKULL FIST have been creating Metal that sounds fast and furious but also catchy and melodic. Some might call it dated and reminding of the 1980s Teutonic Metal invasion from Germany, but one cannot deny that the record 'Of rage and war' is a quality release that will easily whet the appetite of fans of mentioned bands. Although here and there the vocals get a little outta control due to the fast paced rhythm of the individual songs as Laura has a slight accent, just like DORO has, still songs like "Winds Of War", "Rebirth" and "Stand Thy Fall" are a must-hear for the fans of especially the early 80s WARLOCK sound. The massive sound/production clearly makes this album sound even better than the old WARLOCK records. Check it out for yourself at: and

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)



'Ahead of time' is the 2nd album of the Belgian band FROZEN RAIN. It all started 10 years ago when multi-instrumentalist KURT VEREECKE started the project with the help of established musicians like TOMMY DENANDER, STEVE NEWMAN and DANIEL FLORES. It took until 2008 before the first official album was released and now in 2012 a follow-up is made available. This time the lead vocalist is CARSTEN SCHULZ, who is known for his work with EVIDENCE ONE and several other bands. Musically speaking this is prime-time 80s Melodic Rock, dangerously close to the early JADED HEART and STEEL DAWN records from the mid 1990s, although perhaps it is better to mention 80s BON JOVI as a comparison here. Despite it might all not sound very original, the album is definitely a pleasure to listen to. Songs like "Believe It Or Not", "Breakin' Out" and "Not At Home" are strong catchy quality uptempo Melodic Rockers of the 90s MICHAEL BORMANN fronted JADED HEART meets 80s BON JOVI kind. The guitarwork of Rik Priem is very impressive and can especially be loved during the closing track "Voodoo party", which is a really excellent instrumental piece of work. Quality stuff is what we get to hear and although during the late 80s/early 90s in the USA thousands of equal sounding bands never made it big and during the later 1990s a few hundred more became active in mainland Europe, the die-hard fans of this catchy 80s melodic rocksound will welcome FROZEN RAIN's new CD with open arms. More info and and and

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)



The German band BLACK SPACE RIDERS recorded this album during a cold winter in Oldenburg and had to use 2 full-CDs in order to include all their material on the first CD 'Light in the new black'. Musically speaking the band enters a very diverse rockstyle that includes Psychedelic, Doom, Space, Stoner and Progressive Rock influences. The album has a very dark big fat groovy guitar approach, with a Fuzzy Guitar dominated slow Doom/Stoner Rocksound at the start during songs like "Creature of No Light (Exodus, Pt. 1)" and "Sun vs. Moon (Total Eclipse)" that remind one of MASTODON. In fact, the whole sound of the CD is so massive that this could become quite huge in the Metalworld! The band might call their CD a light in the new black, the overall sound of the album is quite dark actually, especially during the beginning of the CD. The band also touches MOTORHEAD during "I Am Fire" and THE CULT when listening to "Diggin Down (The Hole, Pt. 1)". For the vinylfreaks there is a 2-LP set available of the album as well, which might bring you even more in extase. Check out all info at:

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)



HUMAN COMETH is yet another strong Melodic Hardrockband from Sweden. They were formed in late 2009 and already by 2012 they have released 2 records. I have to say that their new record, simply titled ‘2’, is by far their best record. The debut was more or less showing the band looking for a style, sometimes  drifting into EVERGREYish dark Progressive Metal and even some Doomish material, but the new record is clearly giving an own face to the band. Opener "Alone in the dark" is quite a catchy memorable tune that even reminds me a bit of HAREM SCAREM circa 'Mood swings'. Basically '2' or HC2 puts the band more into the Melodic Hardrock field, yet with very heavy guitarwork. The band is formed around guitarist-songwriter Morgan Pettersson and singer Kaj Roth and it seems like they can easily connect with each other, because the whole album sounds quite impressive. Not saying yet that this is their final moment, because the Melodic Hardrock HUMAN COMETH has a lot of similarities to other Swedish bands from the past and present, but it is done quite well and future albums might bring out the best of these 2 musicians. More info at:

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)



The man behind this band or should I say project is multi-instrumentalist PETE THOMPSON, who wanted to do something different than the stuff he did for 10 years while playing in a rockband. With PLAY REWIND EJECT he clearly refers to the past when tapes, colorful fashion and synths dominated the media, so we are heading back to the 1980s. ‘Never before but maybe again’ is his debut CD under the moniker PLAY REWIND EJECT and opener “The fire” is a great song actually, with a strong 1980s beat and big synthesizer zounds, reminding of classic DEPECHE MODE and NEW ORDER. Pete also has a great voice and the catchy melody makes it a winner. With the 1980s retro trend still going strong, this sounds quite modern actually! Also 80s influences during next track ‘You’re like a…’, but this one has a sort of early 80s Powerpop touch, including a quirky keyboard riff. It’s not a complete 1980s affair, because some of the songs also give away 60s Garage Rock influences, like one can hear in “What do you say”, which somehow even reminds me of JANE’S ADDICTION. Pete also likes the acoustic guitar and then we’re heading into a sorta singer-songwriter direction (he’s also influenced by LEONARD COHEN) on the song “Lie when I’m lost”. More 1980s influences in songs like the Powerpoprocker “Tonight”, the U2 meets THE CUREish 80s Altrocker “The happy ones” and ROLLING STONES/QUIREBOYS mixed with 80s synths are hearable during “Get along”. After another slightly depressing singer-songwriter tune “Are you stuck…”, we’re back in 80s midtempo Synthpoprock heaven with “Guiding light”. The CD closes with a live recorded tune titled “Never thought it would be like this”, a nice uplifting acoustic piece that shows Pete’s love for BOB DYLAN. Concluded, this is a very diverse album actually that mixes influences of BOB DYLAN, U2, ROLLING STONES and DEPECHE MODE. OK, it is not an album that should be ranked next to mentioned bands, because those are the classics in the musicworld, but there’s definitely some nice stuff here to check out at:

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

 (All reviews by Gabor Kleinbloesem except where noted)