HOT NEW AOR REVIEWS

LAST UPDATED 9TH OF DECEMBER 1999

JOHN TAGLIERI 'Leap of faith' (LEAP DOG RECORDS)

JOHN TAGLIERI is coming out of the New York/New Jersey area. He has a long history behind him and released independent albums with local and regional bands such as SNEAKS NOISE. At the age of five he picked up a guitar and ever since that day, 21 years ago, he has been busy with music. He played with Rick Derringer and recently he sang with
SURVIVOR (!) when they were in a local venue recently. I'll ask John more about this in an interview we are gonna have with him.

Now, multi-instrumentalist, singer and songwriter John Taglieri has released his first solo CD titled 'Leap of faith'. It's amazing to see John has done everything on his own on this CD. He only got help with the production, which is very good for an independent release. This could have easily been a release by a major recordlabel. Not only the production, but also the music is from a very high level. There are 12 tracks on the CD and most of them are in the AOR direction.

The lead vocals of John and the keyboards are very good and sound like high quality AOR should sound. John Taglieri looks a bit like John Elefante and also musically there are a couple of comparisons with him, although John Taglieri is better at times and much more AOR rock based than the calmer stuff of John Elefante.

The opening song of the CD is the titletrack "Leap of faith", a great midtempo AOR song that sounds like a mixture between MARK ALLEN BAND, JOHN FARNHAM (like his most AOR based songs), some RICHARD MARX and even a reference to SIGNAL. Although the latter is only notable, because the AOR chorus and lead vocals on "Leap of faith" are sounding like Mark Free's former band.

Next track though is the killer AOR track that indeed sounds like SIGNAL all the way. The song is called "Shangri-la" and this is a fantastic uptempo AOR rocker in classic 80s tradition. No jokes here, this song is really reminding me of SIGNAL, ALIAS, SURVIVOR and that kinda AOR bands. When listening to the first couple of tracks, I also noticed a reference to the KYLE VINCENT album 'On a night like this' which so many of you have bought the last couple of months. I feel a strong comparison to that Kyle Vincent album on this album of John Taglieri.

But there are more influences on John's CD. Such as the following track "Reason to believe", a beautiful AOR ballad with some great hooklines. I would describe the song as a mixture between JOURNEY and BON JOVI (the good one). Maybe some of you will think different about this song, but you can't deny that this is an excellent AOR ballad that needs to be heard by both AOR and non-AOR fans. This could easily become a major hitsingle. Guys like Richard Marx and Bryan Adams score major hits with ballads, why not a new guy like John Taglieri.

Anyway, the following two tracks are unfortunately less AOR based. "First night" is a very calm acoustic AOR ballad that is a mixture between a softer RICHARD MARX and JOHN ELEFANTE. "I found you" is poppy AOR but has a good AOR chorus and vocals. There isn't much electric guitar on this one though, imagine a soft RICK SPRINGFIELD!

Happily, the next track "The two sides of love" is again akin towards our beloved musicstyle. This song is a nice uptempo AOR/Poprocker that sounds very cheerful and is a mixture between RICK MATHEWS, MICHAEL MORALES and the first JIMMY HARNEN. This is very AOR based and no complaints about soft sounds, because there is a great (electric) guitarsolo during the song.

The following track "Can't you see" has not such a strong chorus, but still is a good AOR ballad that is similar in style to MARK FREE ('Long way…') with some influences of JOHN ELEFANTE. Next track "One more tomorrow" may be a little too soft for the AOR fans, this song is a radio based AOR ballad duet with John's wife Michelle. Nice, but too soft and sweet for my ears. The next track "High road" is uptempo melodic poprock with a bit rough vocals and a comparison to the 'Powerstation years' albums of JOHN BONGOIVI shouldn't be misplaced here.

Then comes the song I was waiting for (and hoping for). The song is called "Hold me close tonight" and this is fantastic classic 80s AOR rock that sounds like a mixture between SIGNAL and BON JOVI (circa 'Slippery when wet'). No doubt about it that this is the best song on this CD. Everything is sounding perfect here. The guitars upfront, a classic AOR chorus, lead- and harmonyvocals, etc. A must to hear if you like pure 80s AOR. This song gets better everytime you play it. It is damn cheerful and a classic AOR song for sure.

I thought the last two tracks on this rather impressive CD took the level down a bit, but boy was I wrong. Because also the last two tracks are very good and AOR orientated. "Need to hear" and "Here without you" are both high class AOR ballads that have again very much 80s BON JOVI influences. But you can also say JOHNNY LIMA goes AOR all the way. Two wonderful tracks and I can't understand why songs like these aren't high up there in the charts, because they have so much potential to become major hits.

In fact, almost the whole CD has that perfect AOR sound you used to hear (in the 80s) in American cars, movies and on the Radiorockstations. If it was 1985 or 1989, John would have been big time and sell millions of records. But it's 1999 and AOR is an underground happening, although it is coming back right now. That doesn't matter to the real AOR fans out there, because they have a new artist on the scene playing wonderful AOR.

I would give this a big recommendation to the fans of KYLE VINCENT (circa 'On a night like this'), RICK MATHEWS, RICHARD MARX (soft and hard), BON JOVI (when they're on their most AOR orientated way), a heavier FERGIE FREDERIKSEN, JOHN ELEFANTE and last but not the least at all, also SIGNAL fans should have a listen to this CD, because a lot of songs on this CD are just pure AOR. The only difference is that sometimes the approach is a bit softer and has some acoustic guitars added, but there are a couple of pure AOR tracks that simply can't be ignored by the AOR fans. For more info on John Taglieri, contact him at Jtaglieri@aol.com and visit his website at: http://www.LeapDogMusic.com 

Rating: 8,5/10

NIGEL HOBBS 'The river's too wide'

(LIGHTNING PRODUCTIONS)

You may remember English born singer/songwriter Nigel Hobbs from his days as master musician with UK aorsters Walk The Wire. "The River's Too Wide" is Nigel's debut cd, which has taken since 1997 to complete, and the result is a refeshing mixture of musical styles that is sure to gain Nigel alot of respect, especially for fans of bands such as Marillion,Yes, Asia and of course Walk The Wire.

I remember Nigel playing me the opening song "Don't Bring Me Down" about a year or so ago,the finished version is lovely mixture of high tech keyboard sensations,when I first heard this track, i'll never forget stepping back in awe when the mid section keyboard solo came in,I remember at the time thinking it was a guitar solo in the style of Joe Satriani's self titled 1995 album. I then realised that it was keyboards and not a guitar solo and was left even more impressed. "Don't Bring Me Down" is a very catchy song which Nigel sings himself,it's full of great lyrics and sing along chorus lines, the only difference with this track is that it has been cleaned up and opens up with the sound of thunder and rain that helps to give an effect of atmosphere to the song.

"Get Out And Walk" rises up next, with some tasty oragnic keyboard playing. Tthe song then gets into a great groove and here Nigel's voice reminds me reminds me of Chris Rea collaboraing with Bon Jovi,actually Nigel's keyboard mastery reminds of Jovi's keyboard player David Bryan. The song is almost progressive aor, I suppose it's the mid section jam, that reminds me of Bon Jovi. The song it's self has a jazzy jangally swing to it. The jazz progressions continue into track three "Two a.m." which is a cool jazzy instrumental and features some wicked bass playing. Nigel plays all instruments on this track to great effect, this reminds me of some old 30's motion picture that is set in a smokey bar.

When I first heard "Living A Lie" I honestly thought it was a female vocalist, turns out that the singer is a gentleman by the name of Paul Watkins from Walk The Wire, what a voice,this is a superb killer semi-ballad, Paul sounds almost identical to Mark Free and the music is so relaxing and uplifting, this guy is going to be a BIG BIG star, his voice is so huge and powerful,that the guys simply must have a hit with this song.

"Lightning Road" is next in, this again is another piece of sophisticated music, Nigel's voice is very good here and helps to carry the song with his great set of lungs.This song is quite commericial orientated and works on every level,from the guitar parts by Kenny Skingley to Nigel's powerful drumming,keyboards and bass work. Check out the piano outtake at the end of the song, is that Survivor's "I'll Alway's Be There"or what?

What I really admire about this record is the way that the songs and the music have been carefully thought out, each song speaks for itself. I would imagine that this is how Dream Theater could sound if they toned down their style. I get the feeling that Nigel is a bit of a perfectionasist, "She's No Angel" is one of the heavier songs here, this song is very Survivorish thanks to Paul's passionate voice, this song is very very catchy and features some cool hooks, "Slipstream" is a short instrumental,and includes a very nice and calming piano section.

Then we have the big, big, big song of the album, and I mean big in the sense that it's almost eighteen minutes long. This is a wonderful song, everything works perfectly, it's a conceptual piece that would make Dream Theater, Spock's Beard, Marillion and Yes very proud indeed, this is Nigel's masterstroke from which he will be rememberd for, for years to come. He sings on this track and plays all the instruments except for the electric and accoustic guitar which is handled by Andy Webb,the song is lush and grandiose and has everything a lover of music wants, so sit back, crack open a can and enjoy the soothing and blissfull textures of this stunning piece of musical class.

The last track on "The River's Too Wide" is the piano led ballad "My Little Girl", Nigel again sings lead on this track and his voice sounds not to dismilar to Paul McCartney. Overall a most amazing journey of musical genius that should set Nigel Hobbs up as the United Kingdom's most treasured and gifted musician. Essential.

For more info email Nigel at
info@nigelhobbs.com or visit his website at: http://www.nigelhobbs.com or you can send a cheque (12 payable to N.HOBBS) to:

LIGHTNING PRODUCTIONS
PO BOX 5235
CHELMSFORD
ESSEX CM1 3UZ
ENGLAND,UK.

Rating: 9/10 (Review by Nicky Baldrian)

TEN 'Stuck in the middle' (THE SHOTGUN CHARLIE LABEL)

Fear not music fans, this is not the Gary Hughes/Vinny Burns TEN. This Ten are from Birmingham UK, and play subtle accoustic rock a'la Bryan Adams. "Stuck In The Middle" is a four track ep, and features singer/songwriter Dean Cook who has worked with such artists as Blaze Bayley, Bruce Dickinson, Lemmy and Ozzy Osbourne (playing the drums) to name but a few, plus various tv appearences and live performances throughout the UK.

Track one "Stuck In The Middle" has the same catchy hooks as Bryan Adams' "Summer Of '69", only a little bit more light weight, it's also very similar to Rick Springfield (Karma era) and Carl Dixon, and is the best song of the ep.

Track two "On My Side" is a gentle accoustic ballad in the vein of Guns N' Roses' "Patience" and Posion's "Every Rose Has It's Thorn/Something To Believe In". The production is crisp and clear but I could do with the songs being a little bit more uptempo, still you get a very catchy mini album,that oozes tons of similarities to Bryan Adams, Dean's vocals are very nice, but when the ep dives into modern rock territory a'la REM I start too loose my intrest. Overall though, this is very promising effort, the other TEN needen't worry as both bands are as far apart from each other as one can get.

I would like to see Dean concentrate more on songs like "Stuck In The Middle" as I feel he could have a really brilliant aor album under his sleeves, if you take a look at the bands discography on their website,you will see that they have been releasing material since 1992, so let's all do Ten a favour and keep your eyes on them. for more info visit their website: http://go.to/ten or email: ten@geeb.freeserve.co.uk

Rating: 6/10 (Review by Nicky Baldrian)

GARY SCHUTT 'Playthings' (PULSE RECORDS)

Guitarist Gary Schutt released two CDs this year. This one is titled ‘Playthings’. There are 13 songs on the album and present a diverse range of Hard Rock styles. The beginning of the album is quite heavy and 90s influenced Melodic Hard Rock oriented. Songs like “Act of sympathy” and “Enemy lines” do have lots of heavy guitar riffs and grooves, still they can be described as melodic hardrocksongs.

“Don’t come crying to me” shows a different side of GARY SCHUTT, because this song is a catchy 80s typed melodic rocker that stylish moves into the direction of bands like VELOCITY, DAMN YANKEES, HARDLINE... “Sometimes in a dream” follows and is a nice acoustic melodic ballad. “Traumatized” is partly instrumental and surprisingly it is a fine melodic rocker that actually reminds me alot of TOTO. But the best songs are kept till the end of the CD.

“This might be the last time” is a marvellous pure 80s sounding Classic AOR ballad like JOURNEY, FOREIGNER and FRANKE AND THE KNOCKOUTS. This song features killer AOR keyboards and is super melodic and would have had major airplay in the USA if it was released 15 years ago. I totally love this song and only wish Gary could make more of such pure AOR songs on a future release.

Also a fantastic song is “Do you still...” which is really superb AOR/Melodic Rock like the first TYKETTO, 2nd PROPHET. These are the kind of songs that the AOR/Melodic Rockfans of today’s scene love. The rest of the album is not bad, but more akin towards a heavier direction (like MR. BIG).

This album has a lot to offer for any Rocklover. There is 80s AOR, Melodic Rock, 90s inspired Rock, Poppy material and some Heavy Rock/Metal. More info at his website:
http://www.geocities.com/SunsetStrip/Frontrow/1001/

Rating: 7,5/10

BOB CATLEY 'Legends' (FRONTIERS RECORDS)

The second solo-album of former MAGNUM lead vocalist BOB CATLEY is more AOR oriented than he has ever went. Partly due to GARY HUGHES who has produced this great album. On the latest TEN record, Gary went a heavier direction, but on his solo-albums as well as the albums he has produced lately he moves more into the AOR direction. And so does he make this solo-album of BOB CATLEY sounding more like a pure AOR record. 'Legends' is the follow-up to his solo-debut 'The tower' which was released last year.

This new record contains some great pure AOR songs such as "Shelter from the night" (hooklines all over, sounds like first TEN), "The pain" (classy 80s AOR keys, uptempo melodic rocker), "A beautiful night for love" (AOR ballad with classy 80s AOR keys) and "The light" (uptempo 80s hookladen AOR). But the album also has some epic melodic rockers (like the old MAGNUM) such as "Tender is the night", "Hydra" and "Too late" which are nice songs but not as good as the earlier mentioned AOR oriented songs.

The fans of MAGNUM, HARD RAIN and especially old TEN/GARY HUGHES will be best pleased with this good new solo record of BOB CATLEY.

Rating: 8/10

EMERALD RAIN 'Age of innocence'

(FRONTIERS RECORDS)

'Age of innocence' is the second CD of the American Melodic Rockband EMERALD RAIN. The musicstyle is still the same as their debut, so basically what you get is mostly uptempo cheerful melodic rock that follows the style HAREM SCAREM created on their debut. But I also hear some direct comparisons to early TALISMAN. Just listen to opener "No saviour" and you understand what I am saying. This uptempo melodic rocker is filled with melodic harmonyvocals and has a great singable chorus and sounds like a mix between the first HAREM SCAREM and TALISMAN/TAKARA.

In this same style, the album continues with great uptempo melodic rockers such as "Desperate heart", "Sleeping in the fire", "Barely holding on", "Age of innocence", "The method" and "Your disguise". Some of these last mentioned songs could have been on the debut of HAREM SCAREM. Still, the band also has a few ballads and midtempo songs on their new CD such as "Don't tell the rain" and "Come clean".

I can easily recommend this new CD of EMERALD RAIN to anyone that enjoys guitar oriented uptempo melodic rock with many harmonyvocals and likes bands such as TALISMAN, TAKARA, first HAREM SCAREM, EYEWITNESS, TEER, MILLENNIUM, MONARCH…

Rating: 8,5/10

TEN 'Ten/The name of the rose'(FRONTIERS RECORDS)

FRONTIERS RECORDS has done a great job with the re-release and new packaging of the first three albums of TEN. The first two albums of TEN are released as a double CD and with a total of 28 songs this is quite worth investing your money. The CD contains the best TEN offered in the past few years, because on their more recent albums the style got less AOR.

Their first two records contained fantastic AOR songs such as "After the love is gone", "The torch", "Stay with me", "Can't slow down", "Lamb to the slaughter", "When only love can ease the pain", "Wildest dreams", "Don't cry", "Turn around", "The rainbow", "Through the fire" and "Standing in your light". Songs like these showed GARY HUGHES at his best, melodic vocals and choruses packed in a huge AOR sound.

The double CD contains 3 bonustracks of which two live recordings of "After the love is gone" and "Can't slow down". To me this CD contains the best of TEN and I can easily recommend to the AOR fans.

Rating: 9/10

TEN 'The robe/Bonus Collection'(FRONTIERS RECORDS)

I think this CD will be more interesting for the fans of GARY HUGHES and TEN fans, because this double CD contains the re-release of the third TEN album 'The robe' as well as a bonus CD that contains 12 unreleased TEN songs. Not really unreleased, because some songs appeared on Japanese releases of the TEN albums and a couple are taken from the 'Live' album. Still, this record has a great packaging and I am not complaining about the great AOR songs on the CDs.

'The robe' showed a heavier melodic rockstyle of TEN, but still songs like "Bright on the blade", "Standing on the edge of time", "Ten fathoms deep" and "Someday" are wonderful AOR songs. On the other hand you could clearly hear and see the change in style, because especially the lyrics of the songs are not that easy anymore if you look at songtitles like "The robe", "Ten fathoms deep", "Virtual reality" and "Arcadia". Songtitles like these are not really common for an AOR band and belong more in the Progressive Rockscene.

The bonus collection CD of this double CD is quite interesting and features some brilliant AOR masterpieces such as "Venus and mars", "Give me a piece of your heart" and "Xanadu", but also here you can hear clearly the heavier (and weaker) side of TEN in songs like "Black moon rising" and "To die for".

Anyway, a good re-release that will please any fan of TEN and GARY HUGHES. It's a must to have for them, because there are lots of unreleased songs on the bonus CD 'Bonus collection'. If you're more into AOR and don't have any TEN record in your collection, I should prefer the 'Ten/The name of the rose' re-release.

Rating: 8/10

THE LIMIT 'Dysfunction'(OUTHOUSE RECORDS)

Out of Glen Burnie, MD, USA comes THE LIMIT, a great new pure AOR band that has just released a very good album titled 'Dysfunction'. The band consists of Kent Beeghly on Drums and percussion, Mike Duncan on Bass guitar, keyboards and vocals, Tim Haines on Lead and rhythm guitars and vocals and Jim House, Jr. on Lead vocals and acoustic guitar.

The debut album contains 10 songs and the AOR sound of THE LIMIT is comparable to bands such as JOURNEY, THE PROMISE, RETURN TO ZERO, 80s LOVERBOY and NIGHT RANGER. So, this THE LIMIT is a very interesting band for fans of pure 80s typed AOR. The album kicks off with "Rejecting Healthy", a great AOR rocker. Next track "Sweet thang" is a bit weaker groovy rocker, but the rest of the album is pretty much Classic AOR oriented and sounds very good.

"Keep my heart open" is a nice AOR ballad with some great pure AOR keys (like JOURNEY) while the song itself reminds me a lot of THE PROMISE. Next track "What if" has a great AOR chorus and is a BOSTON typed melodic rocker. Following track "Waiting to goodbye" has some very good lead vocals and is a great AOR song that sounds like JOURNEY meets RETURN TO ZERO. The song also captures a beautiful AOR hookline. "Wrestle the wind" follows and is a great uptempo AOR rocker that is very much reminding me of 80s NIGHT RANGER.

Then we get to hear the fantastic song "Leah's lie", a pure AOR song like ALIAS or BRETT WALKER could have done. Following track "Heaven doesn't want me" is another pure AOR ballad that is in the JOURNEY style. "Regret" follows and is a nice 70s STYX influenced Pomprocker.

The closing track of this great album is also the best song on the whole album. The song is titled "We all fall down" and is a pure classic early 80s AOR rocker with some really wonderful harmonyvocals and a killer AOR chorus. This song sounds like THE PROMISE.

The hookladen AOR of THE LIMIT is very good and attractive to anyone that enjoys pure AOR in the best 80s tradition. A definite winner for the fans of bands like RETURN TO ZERO, JOURNEY and 80s NIGHT RANGER. Very soon an interview with this wonderful new AOR band. Now go check out their site at: http://www.thelimitrocks.com

Rating: 9/10

NATT&TAKE 'Sementparadis'(INDEPENDENT)

NATT&TAKE is a band out of Kristiansand, Norway. They have released a CD titled 'Sementparadis' which contains 11 well-produced songs. Musically they are playing Progressive Melodic Rock with clear influences from DREAM THEATER and RUSH, yet with an own style in which vocal melodies are sounding pretty good.

Although some of the material is very progressive (like early KANSAS meets RUSH), there are also a bunch of very melodic songs that will even please the average AOR fan. I am talking about songs such as "Radiosender", "Utro drom", "Longa", "Natten din" (AOR ballad with a lovely keyboardsolo, this song is comparable to JOURNEY/STYX), "Noialand" and closing track "Din til doden".

These songs have some very good melodic lead and harmonyvocals and are backed by a melodic guitar/keyboardsound. The melodic choruses are quite memorable. The only thing that strikes me is the fact that all songs are a bit in the same style, kinda slow tempo progressive melodic rock. There are no uptempo songs on the album, but happily the songs are fine to listen to.

If you don't mind the Norwegian language, I think this album will be very interesting if you're into Progressive AOR/Melodic Rock (like TILES, MYSTERY CANADA or 80s/early 90s SAGA). More info at their site: http://home.sol.no/~arloems

Rating: 7,5/10

GALLOW'S POLE 'In rock we trust/Smile of the dolphins'

(BGG RECORDS)

This band out of Austria has a pure instrumental melodic rocksound, but the lead vocals are actually sounding totally different. In fact, the lead vocals of guitarist Alois Martin Binder are very out of the ordinary and give the band an own sound which is rockin, but melodic. Their debut CD 'In rock we trust' was released in 1992 and counts 10 well-produced tracks.

The style on this debut album is just straight-ahead melodic rock and I actually prefer this record above the new CD 'The smile of the dolphins'. 'In rock we trust' does feature mostly standard typed melodic rockers such as "When the music plays", "Summerrain" and "In the end".

The new album 'The smile of the dolphins' sounds totally different. This new record is a concept album that is based around a bunch of dolphins. Very strange indeed and the lead vocals are only making it sound even weirder. I am not saying it is bad or anything, but this band is really different than anything else I ever reviewed.

Just listen to opener "The smile of the dolphins" (which is featured in four parts on the CD), this song is an epic song with loads of instrumental passages. Very hard to compare this band to a similar sounding band, perhaps RUSH fans will like this. If you are interested in experimental epic melodic rock and want to hear something totally new and different than try this GALLOWS POLE. Their site can be found at: http://www.gallowspole.com

Rating: 6,5/10

TIM KARR 'Everybody bleeds' (INDEPENDENT)

Tim Karr released a bit of a tidy aor album back in 1989 i forget the title at this moment, but since then Tim has been caught up for years in legal battles with his old record company. Anyway now he's free of any contractual obligations, and 1999 sees the return of perhaps one of the most genuine artists in rock n' roll. "Everybody Bleeds" is a very nice and catchy mellow aor album with an r and b edge to it. If you liked the last Nelson, Innuendo and Johnny Lima albums then you will fall in love with "Everybody Bleeds". It takes one or two spins to get into, but when it hits home you will find a special quality of simple rock music that pleases the ears and sits nicely next to any latterday Bon Jovi record.

Songs like "Aquarius" remind me of Bon Jovi and Mark Thompson-Smith with it's singable chorus and catchy backbone, this album is a fat blend of different musical styles. Other songs like "Comin 2 u" with it's Dick Dale style guitar playing and Don Henley/Glenn Burtnik inspired vocal melodies offers tons of enjoyment to the listener. You'll be singing these songs to death, but the album is sometimes dull and very mediocre. Having said that, i am finding myself giving this one repeated plays It's a grower for sure and takes time to capture the whole picture. "Everybody Bleeds" is a nice album and sees the return of one of aor much missed artists, just don't leave it another ten years Tim mate!

Rating: 7,5/10 (Review by Nicky Baldrian)

PANGA NIBAN 'First impressions'

(INDEPENDENT)

A strange bandname, but not a bad bunch of musicians out of St.Petersberg, Florida. Panga Niban's music is based around blusey aor, a bit like Mr.Big, Nightranger, Dan Reed Network and Stevie Salas. "First Impressions" in fact is quite powerful and has quite a good production sound, the band sound tight and the songs are very infectious. Check out the first song "One More Time" and listen to Wes Panganiban's voice, is that Eric Martin or what? There's even a nice mid section bass improvisation courtsey of Ted Provard, which reminds me of Billy Sheehan and Stuart Hamm.

This cd is only a five track mini album, but i'm finding myself really enjoying this disc, the songs are just so damn memorable. "Something's Missin" has a guitar intor that reminds me Joe Satriani and Steve Vai, this song is a nice blusey based number that has a slight Velocity/Van Halen feel.

"Peace From Above" is a full on gentle blusey track that is very nice, this is in the Stuart Smith vein and has some great music.The last track "Pushed Around" again has some nice guitar edges and funky rhythms. The only dissapointment is the track "Why", which goes nowhere for me, but, yes Panga Niban have carved themselve a nice little niche into the rock world and I hope they release a full on album very soon as i'm quite excited about this one. For more info email: Ropan@aol.com

Rating: 7,5/10 (Review by Nicky Baldrian)

ABACUS 'Counter culture'

(DANCING NEEDLES MUSIC)

Mmm, I don't quite know how to categorise this cd, it's defintley power pop a'la Pat Benetar, but this female fronted band from Oregon USA, certainly know what they are doing as each song has it's own style and charamastic charms of delight. The music has been simply put together, the lyrics are great, and you get some nice guitar work from John Rachel and Ron Ruiz. John also handles the synthesiser work which is richley featured throughtout "Counter Culture"

Lead singer Lisa Larpenteur has a very beautiful and sensious voice that bares similarites to Pat Benatar, Kate Bush, Device and Debbie Harry.This is a very early eighties sounding pop record, with the odd hint of aor melodies here and there, the cd is filled with bright and charming power pop songs, my favourite song is track three "Clear" which has a great pop melody a'la Psuedo Echo and Pat Benatar. Overall this is a joyous record that can be obtained from the bands website:
http://www.AbacusBand.com

Rating: 6/10 (Review by Nicky Baldrian)

CECIL PARK 'Cecil park' (BRUTAL MUSIC)

Denver based act Cecil Park play a nice blend of modern accoustic rock, songs like "Somebody/Nobody" and "No Liaisons" are average alternative country tinted pop fodder with the best comparisons I can make leaning towards the accousstic rambling's on Firehouse's "Good Accostics" album or perhaps Nouveaux's "And This Is How I Feel" album, not ideal comparisements anyway as this record is definiteley for fans of bands like Crowded House, Stone Roses and those type of indy bands.

One song I do like though is the accoustic "Shunned" which is a touch more uptempo than the rest of the material, which although played well by the musicans, unfortunateley does nothing what so ever for me, and there for does not desreve a mark as aorsters and the like will obviously cringe to death with this peace of alternative shit. AVOID!!

Rating: - (Review by Nicky Baldrian)

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