HOT NEW AOR REVIEWS
|PEARLS AND FLAMES 'The 1st demo'
A hot new Westcoast influenced AOR band out of Sweden who caught me by surprise when I saw their musical influences on their mp3 site. A band that states as their primal influences bands like SIGNAL and GIANT must be a very interesting pure AOR band. And while listening to their demo CD I hear a very professional sounding band, but not as AOR oriented as I hoped it would be. I would rather describe the sound of PEARLS AND FLAMES as a mix between Westcoast and AOR, kinda like TOTO, PROMOTION, THINK OUT LOUD, early RICHARD MARX, CIOBA, MILLENYA, STARSHIP and also FERGIE FERDEIKSEN comes to mind.
I enjoyed the 8 songs of their demo CDR very much, although I must inform you that sometimes it is a bit poppy, but the band always has the AOR melodies we all love so much. PEARLS AND FLAMES consist of vocalist Markus Nordenberg and keyboardist Tomas Coox who played together ever since the mid 80s. They have always played this musicstyle and so we finally discover a band that stick to their roots and not follow the popular trends.
Anyway, the band is
completed with session musicians such as Michael
Hedstrom/Guitars, Anders Rybank/Keyboards, Freddy
Hedefalk/Drums and Kenneth Grannas/Bass. Overall you can
clearly hear that the songs have a hi-tech approach which
makes it even more 80s sounding than everything else in
today's AOR genre. This does not always work, but on the
The first song "Welcome to the club" is showing this hi-tech 1987 AOR style I am referring to. A nice track, but I rather hear some more AOR oriented material which can be heard on the next couple of tracks. "We'll be together" and "Can't go on" are two pure mid 80s cheerful Westcoast influenced AOR tunes which remind me of acts like TOTO,STARSHIP, WEST OF SUNSET and FERGIE FREDERIKSEN. This is a very relaxed sound and brings you back right into the good-old 80s. "I believe" is taking a different route, because this is a pure mid-80s AOR Power Ballad (including the piano-keys and melodic vocals) which reminds me of the ballads of US acts like TOTO, JOURNEY, REO SPEEDWAGON and DENNIS DEYOUNG.
A little poppier, but
still enjoyable AOR is the song "State of the
heart" which has a lot of similarities to the German
band JOJO. "Heartache is over" is the only miss
on this demo CD, this is a soul/pop confrontation which
STEVE PERRY also tried on his first solo- album on a
couple of songs. Next up is "Road to your
heart". This song starts slow, but develops into a
great uptempo AOR song with a very catchy pure AOR
chorus. Closing track "Side by side" is the
song which is the most AOR oriented track and to me also
It would be wonderful if PEARLS AND FLAMES would continue to produce more of such AOR killers in the future, because then we could look forward to a new AOR sensation from Sweden. Reminds me that the Scandi AOR scene is very much alive today with new bands such as CIOBA, PROMOTION, SAYIT, MILLENYA, T'BELL, STREET TALK Now we can add PEARLS AND FLAMES to this ever growing list. Contact this band at: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org and for some music to download you should visit their site at: http://artists.mp3s.com/artists/65/pearls__flames.html
|FUNNY MONEY 'Funny money'
The American label Kivel Records released the debut CD of FUNNY MONEY back in 1997, but since I just recently got in touch with this great new melodic rocklabel, this is the first opportunity for me to review their earlier releases. FUNNY MONEY was the first release on Kivel Records. FUNNY MONEY is the new band of vocalist Steve Whiteman, who was with KIX for more than 10 years with whom he released about 5 (or 6) albums. Musically not much has changed because also this FUNNY MONEY is playing a mixture of Partyrock and Melodic rock'n'roll, so KIX fans should grab a copy asap.
There are 10 songs on
the CD and my favourites are "Art of
persuasion" (SLAUGHTER typed party MHR), "Baby
blues" (cool uptempo party melorocker like KIX,
QUIET RIOT), "For keeps" (great semi melodic
rockballad in the late 80s style), "Monkey see,
monkey do" (cool partyrocker a la first KIX) and
closing track "Dry eyes cry" (semi ballad). Bit
weaker are the EXTREME typed "Pick me up" and
the simpler partyrockers (a la BRITNY FOX) "Off my
rocker", "Can't take the heat",
"Boogie man" and "Suckin' my blood".
This CD is a must for fans of KIX, QUIET RIOT, SLAUGHTER
and that type of
|FUNNY MONEY 'Back again'
Steve Whiteman and co. are back with the second CD which is titled 'Back again'. FUNNY MONEY hasn't changed much and still play partyrock in the KIX, QUIET RIOT, SLAUGHTER, old CRUE, HELIX style. My favourite songs on the new record are "Wrapped around you" (melodic partyrocker), "Owe it all to you" (slowtempo ballad) and the KIX oriented rockers "Funny money" and "Sloppy kisses".
Once again, if you like KIX and
that type of 80s partyrockbands, you can easily go for
this FUNNY MONEY. I have to say that their debut was
better and more leaning towards melodic hardrock, while
this new release is more straight ahead pure partyrock.
If you can't find this CD, visit the band's website at: http://www.funnymoneyband.com/ and get a copy
through KIVEL RECORDS: KIVEL RECORDS, 923 SAWMILL
|24K 'Pure 24K'
24K is the collaboration between vocalist Phil Naro and guitarist Mladen (VON GROOVE). They have released their debut CD on Z RECORDS and I have to admit that it is a very good record. '24k pure' is filled with high quality Melodic Rock a la CONEY HATCH, VON GROOVE and SANTERS. Opening track "Black sheep" is a faster uptempo melodic rocker which sounds ok, and reminds me of VAN HALEN. Though the rest of the CD is very impressive melodic rock and sounds pretty standard but the performance is very good, so no complaints here.
"Standing in the middle" is a killer 80s typed uptempo melodic rocker a la CONEY HATCH and VON GROOVE. I love the melodic guitarsolo of this song. "Meeting this way" follows and is a fantastic classic 80s midtempo AOR tune. This song was already featured on the Z RECORDS compilation anniversary CD of last year, but still is a surprise to hear because it moves into pure AOR territory. The melodic guitarsound of next track "After the show" is very catchy and you already enjoy the song after a few second. The song develops into a great uptempo melodic rocker a la SANTERS, CONEY HATCH and also some hints at ALDO NOVA can be noticed.
Then we get to hear the first weaker song, which is the groovy MHR song "Gypsy in me" which is very much leaning towards MR. BIG. Next up is "Broken promises" and we're back into AOR territory again. This is a great semi ballad. "Surrender in the name of love" follows and is basically a classy 80s hookladen uptempo AOR rocker in the style of earlier mentioned bands. Funny enough I find the hookline/bridge of this song (which goes like "So when it's over ") better than the chorus which is a bit simple. Nevertheless this song kicks some serious ass in the good old Canadian AOR/Melodic Rock tradition of bands like HONEYMOON SUITE, 1st HAREM SCAREM, SANTERS, CONEY HATCH Next track "Call out my name" is a great semi melodic rockballad.
"Masquerade" is in the same direction as the opening track of this CD. "Now's the time" is a nice midtempo melodic rocker. And finally the closing track which is a bonustrack for the European release is titled "Green motivator", this is a KISS/80s ALICE COOPER typed Rocker. Concluded I think this is a very much recommended record to the people who enjoy Canadian Melodic Rock (HONEYMOON SUITE, CONEY HATCH, SANTERS ). This is a safe record that will be enjoyed by most melodic rockfans and will guarantee you a good 45 minutes of pleasure to listen to.
|DAVID KUHN 'Talk it over'
Does the name DAVID KUHN ring a bell? David appeared as lead vocalist/bassist in the band CITADEL who released a same titled LP on Boltax Records back in 1979. This band played Pomp Rock with clear similarities to STYX and KANSAS. After this record, it became pretty quiet around the band members, but I just received a new solo-CD of one of the former CITADEL bandmembers. It is the first solo effort of David Kuhn and reading his bio it becomes clear that he did a lot after the CITADEL record. In fact, he has worked with people like Pete Townshend, George Martin and appeared as an actor, as a singer, or as a musician on camera in lots of National TV series (such as Beverly Hills 90210, Seinfeld, Friends, ER etc.).
Besides, he has also performed as an actor in several movie productions. And he also educates students at Californian schools. ...Additionally, David's own written and composed songs have been featured in motion picture and television productions. His song "I'm So In Love With You" had a featured performance in the ABC Movie of the Week A Deadly Vision, and his song "Find My Way" from his CD Talk It Over was used in the Warner Bros. network television series 7th Heaven...
And now he has put out a CD titled 'Talk it over' which contains 13 songs. Most of the songs were written by David himself. Interesting to see is his brother Kevin Kuhn co-writing two songs. Kevin used to be the guitarist in CITADEL. I wonder what happened to the remaining two members of CITADEL.
Anyway, the music on David's solo-CD is pretty diverse in approach. Sometimes it's like you're listening to the next AOR sensation, which means there is indeed some very good pure AOR on this record. But the other moment it's all very soft epic pop oriented, and there are also some instrumental passages on the record. Overall it is a pretty nice record and I could compare this DAVID KUHN CD to JOHN TAGLIERI, because actually a lot of songs on this CD are in the same style as John's 'Leap of faith' record.
The beginning is not that good or AOR based. The CD starts with "The honest hurricane", an epic pop song. When I heard this song, I thought it was going to be a disappointing CD, but when track number two "Find my way" was playing on my stereo I was almost in AOR HEAVEN. "Find my way" is namely a superb midtempo pure AOR tune which is right up there with the first BRETT WALKER, ALIAS, SIGNAL What a difference between the first two songs!
The CD continues with a
short instrumental piece titled "Canyon river
rain". Then we get right back into AOR HEAVEN again
with the song "Talk it over", another wonderful
midtempo AOR tune that reminds me a lot of the KYLE
VINCENT record 'A night like
Happily, David is back into AOR territory again on the song "A piece of the sky", a very cool 80s typed cheerful uptempo AOR rocker that sounds like ALIAS, old KYLE VINCENT, STAN BUSH, 1st BRETT WALKER, JOHN TAGLIERI This is the best song of the whole CD, a very catchy little tune which brings back memories of the good old 80s fun AOR times. It would be great if David made more of such songs on a future release, then I guarantee him the European AOR labels will be interested in releasing his material overseas. Now the material is a bit too diverse to call this is a 100% pure AOR record.
""Sorcerer" is an instrumental filler and
"I dream about you" is a very soft popballad.
"One last look" is better, and is sweet 70s
AOR/Poprock, kinda like KYLE VINCENT meets RASPBERRIES.
"Runaway nights" follows and is a great uptempo
80s pompous AOR song (a la CITADEL) which sadly is
disturbed a little by a saxsolo. Next
"Don't she know" is reggea pop and really is
horrible. Concluded is that David Kuhn has released a CD
with ups and downs. If he would concentrate on the
musicstyle (AOR) created on songs like "Find my
way", "Talk it over", "A piece of the
It's up to you to decide if you want to purchase his CD after all. There are about 4/5 wonderful pure AOR tunes on 'Talk it over', but also some pieces of pop. Anyway, check out David Kuhn at: http://www.primenet.com/~shoreast
|ZERO 9 'You are understood'
ZERO 9 is a band out of L.A. and they sent me their debut CD 'You are understood" as well as a promo CD titled 'You are understood part 2'. This band is playing a very wild mixture of melodic rock, progressive Pop, New Wave and 90s rockmusic. There are 11 songs on the album and dare I say that this band is hard to be placed in one particular style. Every song sounds different which is cool if you like all styles, but if you enjoy melodic rock you can only find a couple of interesting songs.
I am speaking of the tracks "Dreaming" and "Cake" which both are really good late 70s melodic rockers that move into STARZ territory. The other 8 songs are totally different and some of them have a lot of QUEEN influences ("If you were mine" and "Someone to love") and there is even an 80s typed New Wave song titled "Look at it this way" which reminds me of EIGHT SECONDS. Also the upcoming new CD features the same diversity of musicstyles, so if you don't mind so many different styles on one record, you better check out this ZERO 9 at: http://www.mp3.com/zero9
|THE MAXFIELD RABBIT 'Evermore' (INDEPENDENT)
What a superbly put together package. I wish more bands could concentrate more on making their packaging look as attractive as their music. This band play a mixture of pop rock and indy melodic rock of a very high standard that reminds me of KATE BUSH, T'PAU., FIONA APPLE and PAT BENATAR.
Da Rabbit's are from Hollywood and are led by flame haired goddess Julia Albert, whom vocally captures the essence of what Maxfield Rabbit are all about, which is is pure and simple great songs with enough bite and attitude to send them screaming into chartsville, as songs like the groovy and catchy "Matters", and "Sleeping With You", through to the rocking "Life Is Hard" and "Turning You On" all work with a gifted passion, thanks to this units tight musical bonding. This is great, go check it out folks. http://www.maxfieldrabbit.com
Rating: 6,5/10 (Review by Nicky Baldrian)
|THRILLS '3' (REWIND
This is the CD I have been waiting for. Ever since the day I first heard the tape recording of the unreleased third LP of the American AOR/Pomp band THRILLS, I was really waiting for the day it would be released. And now it is 2000 and the CD has been released through Rewind Records, which is a sub label of Songhaus Music (the recordlabel of SOJOURN leader Dane Spencer). I think I can easily say that this CD is gonna be THE CD OF 2000 (and beyond?), because the 10 songs on '3' are from such a high quality, you can't ignore to fall in love with the music performed here.
When you have played the 10 songs, you want to hear more and then just simply start all over again from track 1 on. Anyone who wants to know how 80s AOR/Pomprock sounded, will find it here on '3'. This record basically contains everything which made AOR so popular in the 80s. The recording too place in 1983 and the fantastic production was done by Mike Frenchik and Tom Ingegno who both were not part of the band, although Tom Ingegno also co-wrote all the songs on the album.
The first two albums of THRILLS were two good AOR rockalbums, but definitely not as sensational as this third album which finally has seen the light of day after being on the shelves for about 17 years. A big shame, because if this record was indeed released back in 1983 it could have set the AOR scene on fire. Backed with some good promotion, it could have easily been one of the top selling records in the USA back then. Unfortunately problems with the recordcompany resulted in an unreleased classic LP, but now it's justice for all, because in front of me is the official CD release of '3'.
The 10 songs on the CD
are all winners for the fans of Classic early 80s AOR. I
would describe the sound of '3' as a mixture between the
first SPYS album, LE ROUX, TOUCH and SURVIVOR. I think
the SPYS reference is very clear, because the Pompous AOR
Anyway, the CD opens with "Running away" and while listening to the first few seconds you know you're in AOR heaven! The music totally blows you away and it really grabs you from the moment the CD starts. "Running away" is just the beginning. This is a superb early 80s AOR/Radiorocker like SPYS, LE ROUX, SHELTER, STEEPLECHASE While listening to this song, you can clearly hear the pure 80s AOR sound with it's big harmonyvocals and cheerful keyboards/synthesisers.
The whole CD captures this sound and features brilliant vocal, keyboard, but also very impressive guitarwork from Dave Fullerton. The Pomp Rock really shines through in the song "The feeling's gone", which sounds like ROADMASTER meets TOUCH. Very cheerful is the following tune "Best of everything", uptempo classic early 80s Radiorock with references to STEEL BREEZE and 707.
Next track "Let me love you" is a lovely semi AOR ballad that moves into FRANKE AND THE KNOCKOUTS/THE ALLIANCE territory. "You'll be back" follows and is uptempo classic AOR/Pomp which is very sounding very close to the first SPYS record. In fact, this album should have been the follow-up to the legendary debut album of SPYS instead of their poppier/new wave oriented 'Behind enemy lines' LP. Back to the THRILLS classic '3', "Too many first times" is totally AOR HEAVEN! This uptempo rocker is the ultimate mix between AOR, Radiorock and Pomprock and definite the 80s sound all the way! The hooklines all over the place on every single song, especially the next track "Falling out of love".
My favourite songs on
the CD are "Give it a chance" and "Make it
easy". The first
This record is more than a must to have in the collection of every AOR fan. THRILLS '3' can easily be added to the list of bands such as TOUCH, SHELTER ('First stop'), ROADMASTER, STEEL BREEZE ('Heart on the line'), LE ROUX ('Up' and 'So fired up') and of course the first SPYS record. If you owe those classics, then this classic record of THRILLS can not be missed. Get a copy today if you want to hear the perfect 80s sound all over again with it's hooklines, keyboards and harmonyvocals on every song.
To me this THRILLS '3' is the perfect mixture between AOR, Radiorock and Pomprock. This is from the highest quality you can get and so I dare everyone to buy a copy of the CD asap, so we all can talk about it together instead of keeping it a secret for so many years. It's been a long time ago, but this CD totally deserves the highest possible rating available. Now go and visit the THRILLS homepage at: http://www.thrillsmusic.com or visit the band's recordlabel SONGHAUS MUSIC at: http://www.songhausmusic.com
|JAIME KYLE 'Untangled' (INDEPENDENT)
JAIME KYLE is back with a new release. Jaime is a wonderful songwriter and wrote some great AOR tunes including the HEART hit "Stranded" which she also recorded on her second solo-CD. In the 90s she put out two solo-CDs, but things didn't go that simple, because the second CD took a lifetime to release. Eventually it got released through Now&Then/Frontiers under the title 'Best of my heart', a wonderful female fronted AOR classic. I still play this record a lot and it is definitely one of the top female fronted AOR albums of all times.
Last year Frontiers Records also released a best of Jaime Kyle which also featured a couple of brand-new songs. Those songs were also wonderful AOR and so I was really looking forward to this new release she was planning for this year. And now 'Untangled' is released, yet there are only 3 songs on the CD sample Jaime sent me, so it is not the full-length CD release. While listening to the CD, it becomes clear to me why this isn't released through Frontiers Records, because musically Jaime has changed a little bit. Less AOR and more influences from the 90s Pop/rock (SHANIA TWAIN) and even Westcoast. Still this is quite good material of Jaime and AOR enough for the fans of female fronted rock.
Opening tune "Sentimental" shows the new Jaime Kyle in a moody 90s westcoast influenced pop/rock sound. Similarities to SHANIA TWAIN are now clear, although this is still nice to hear if you like female AOR. Only thing is that it never gets pure AOR like Jaime did on her first two records. For example "Cry" is a bit too much 90s based. Fortunately the last track "Revelation" is the best song on this CD. This is Jaime at her best and shows a return to her AOR/Melodic Poprocksound of her previous records. A great uptempo AOR rocker with some very good lead vocals of Jaime. More songs in this style on a future full-length CD released will please any fan of female AOR. Check out her website for more info at: http://www.jaimekyle.com
|HUGO 'Time on earth' (FRONTIERS
Our dear friend HUGO is back
with his second solo-release. I must admit that I really
like his huge sounding and perfectly produced AOR (done
by HUGO himself and Tom Nissen), but I still prefer his
VALENTINE CD above his solo-material. This new solo-CD
follows the same style HUGO created on his debut which
saw the clear STEVE PERRY/JOURNEY
The CD starts with "Can't stop loving you", a classy 80s AOR rocker and probably the best song on the whole record. This song really brings you back to the VALENTINE days and has a smooth chorus which will not go out of your head after hearing it for the first time. This very catchy tune was already featured on the 'Union' compilation CD which FRONTIERS released last summer.
Next up is "Tell it to my heart" which is in the same style as the opening track, but has JOURNEY written all over it. Things slow down in the STEVE PERRY ballad "Last one more time". The comes a really interesting song titled "Anyone in love". This is HUGO at his best and in this song his voice is very emotional which perfectly suits the song. "Anyone in love" is simply briljant, a lovely early 80s late-summernight semi AOR ballad which brings memories of FRANKE AND THE KNOCKOUTS and JOURNEY of course. This is a very relaxing song and is totally different than anything HUGO did on earlier records.
After this wonderful song, the CD picks up the AOR rockstyle from the beginning of the CD. "Fine" is a nice uptempo AOR/Melodic Rocker which is moving into VALENTINE territory, although not as good. "Blues for you" is the first song that sounds a bit average and reminds me of the last JOURNEY record. "This love song" follows and is definitely one of the top songs on the CD. This is great midtempo AOR in the style of THE STORM.
Next up is "I will be waiting", a nice AOR song, but nothing that special. A little experiment of HUGO can be heard in "Our love will be there", a very calm acoustic AOR ballad in which he is backed by TEN guitarist VINNY BURNS and plays classical guitar, keys and strings himself. Please note that Vinny Burns appears on all the songs on the CD, so instrumental it sounds perfect. Then comes the TRIUMPH cover "Magic power" which is of course perfectly done and sounds like HUGO!
"Time on earth" is AOR, but nothing special. A
good CD, which has a few surprises, but mainly is an easy
target for HUGO and JOURNEY fans. He played safe
|JOE E. DADDARIO 'Living in the
restless age' (INDEPENDENT)
This is a great album that is
heavily based on the keyboard factor and reminds me of eighties bands like SHOOTING
STAR, JOHN WAITE, TOTO, MARK FREE, GLEN BURTNIK, SHERIFF,
REO SPEEDWAGON and loads loads more. No more so than on
the brilliant "Forbidden Feelings", this is a
dreamy feelgood song that is set on a hot summer day
cruising down the Californian coast, this is the type of
song that would've ended up in Baywatch, it's filled with
glorious hooks and summertime surf filled with a really
catchy poppy/aor chorus that will melt icebergs!!
Rating: 9/10 (Review by Nicky Baldrian)
|TRAVELERS 'Beneath the sky' (INDEPENDENT)
Franklin Adams was born and
raised in California, he began playing guitar at the age
of seven, and at the age of ten he had written his first
song. He then went on to master the keyboards and from
here he started his musical venture, with influences
raging from artists as diverse as JOHNNY CASH to STEVE
Rating: 6,5/10 (Review by Nicky Baldrian)