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Out of Los Angeles comes the band KITTEN, a female fronted act which sounds very professional and could easily become the next big thing. Most interesting fact is that they are all quite young, because all 4 bandmembers are under 21 and another remarkable thing is that they are signed to the mighty ATLANTIC RECORDS! The funny thing however is that their music has many similarities to classic early 1980s New Wave/quirky Gothic Wave/Poprock, but none of the members were even born before 1990! Anyway, the music of the band sounds like a cross between the 1980s sounds of LUBA, DALBELLO, SIOUXSIE AND THE BANSHEES and the current modern trend of Retro-Wave of FLORENCE AND THE MACHINE, METRIC and, BAT FOR LASHES. Very much situated around really massive hi-tech synths and keys, the material sounds quite bombastic most of the time, but is also super melodic and quite memorable, with a prominent role for lead singer CHLOE CHAIDEZ. She has got an amazing voice and will probably become huge soon, because she has a vibrato in her voice that is as unique as for example LUBA, LISA DALBELLO, FLORENCE WELCH, SINEAD O’CONNOR and BAT FOR LASHES. It is always a guess if a band becomes huge, but with a lead singer like Chloe, you can not go wrong I think. Anyway, KITTEN was kind enough to sent me their 2 albums, in both the CD and VINYL format, so it was a very enjoyable package to receive in the end and also a pleasure to review them. So, they have 2 mini-albums out so far, ‘Sunday school’ from 2011 and just recently, ‘Cut it out’. Both albums follow a same style musically speaking and due to the fact they have a huge label backing them up, the production is pretty much picture perfect. The featured music and it’s performance is also very impressive for such a young band. ‘Sunday school’ contains 5 tracks on the CD version, while the cool Vinyl version contains an additional track called “Blue world”. One of the best songs on this debut album is the catchy uptempo poprocker “Chinatown”, a song that should be played loud and proud on every single radio station out there. The other songs are besides the 80s influences also clearly going into an Alternative Rock direction here and there (like a mix between 90s TORI AMOS, THE CRANBERRIES and FIONA APPLE), with as best example the guitar driven rocker “Kitten with a whip”. The follow-up album is titled ‘Cut it out’ and sounds a more bombastic and massive than the debut, while it also shows the band’s progress. 6 tracks can be found on this album, with on the CD version 2 different studio tracks that were replaced by 2 remixed versions of other songs on the Vinyl version. Anyway, as already mentioned before, the slightly more Alternative Rock guitar orientated sound of their first album is replaced by a more 1980s Synth dominated sound. For example “Japanese eyes” is resembling the definite early 1980s female fronted catchy uptempo new wave poprocksound that almost makes me think of SHANDI, DEVICE and SHANGHAI, so without a doubt one of the absolute highlights on the record. Most of the other songs are more or less slow to midtempo based, but with a bombastic sound and big synths all over the place, with as finest tunes, the catchy ”Cut it out” and “G#”, which will be adored by fans of FLORENCE AND THE MACHINE and BAT FOR LASHES. KITTEN is a young band that will definitely reach a huge audience in the future and for a start, these 2 EP/mini-albums are showing the potential of this impressive band from Los Angeles. The first is guitar driven, while the 2nd aims for the synths, but both are quite excellent and revealing a great new band that is destined to become huge soon. And if the band itself does not become big, then it is only a matter of time before lead singer CHLOE CHAIDEZ will become a star, because her voice is very unique and is dying to be discovered soon… Check them out at: 

(Points: 8.7 out of 10)


Not so much info on this talented female singer/songwriter from Tennessee, but she delivers her first album entitled ‘So far from reality’. Holly is a gifted singer and musically it is going into the traditional singer/songwriter direction that is based on sweet (pop) melodies, backed up by mostly the acoustic guitar, some drums and only a minimum use of other instruments. Her voice is quite soulful and somehow it does remind me a bit of ANOUK, although musically it is as mentioned before quite a laid-back affair. The result is a beautiful album that is basically a perfect match for people looking for real music and not just some programmed computer synchronized piece of plastic we can find in the charts and on the radio nowadays. Holly is pure and sounds quite sensational on her first album, so hopefully we will be able to witness her live on stage someday soon, because songs like “That look”, “Kiss me with that poem” and especially the emotional piano-led ballad “Mama” as well as the almost AORish ‘rock’ ballads “Here” and “Easy way out” are showing her amazing talent. Definitely a recommended album and for more info go to: 

(Points: 8.4 out of 10)


Out of San Diego comes singer/songwriter SARA PETITE, who already releases her 4th album with this ‘Circus comes to town’. This is definitely a Country-Rock affair, with here and there a step into the traditional pop/rock market, but it’s Sara’s voice that makes it sound like a deep southern us Country love affair. DOLLY PARTON is a clear comparison, although it all sounds a bit more up-to-date musically speaking, with as highlights the Country rocker “Scarlett letter” (a la JUICE NEWTON) and the rather catchy melodic poprocker “Someday I’m gonna fly”, although some of the Country-Rockabilly crossover tunes will also wet the appetite of fans of let’s say IMELDA MAY. All together this album is a must-have for anyone who likes classic Americana, which is basically a mix of typical American genres such as Country, Rockabilly and tradtional Pop/Rock. Check her out at: 

(Points: 8.1 out of 10)


Singer/songwriter TOM KELL has already had a long career behind him, which started in a band called THE SKYBOYS during the 1970s, followed by a solo career in the early 1980s and eventually now he releases a CD together with a talented young female singer called EMIKO WOODS. The result is a very strong first album titled ‘Glory bound’. Musically speaking it is a mix of Americana, Gospel and Country, with a strong focus on the beautiful melodic harmonyvocals between Tom and Emiko. 11 tracks are included and for people who appreciate vocal/acoustic guitar driven singer-songwriter music, this is definitely a highly recommended album. I think live the both can really accelerate, because they are clearly demonstrating their incredible skills on this album. Check out more at: 

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)


Sadly only one song on this demo CDR I received from multi-instrumentalist/songwriter TIM MEYERS from Independence, MO, USA, because the included song “Rainbow in my eyes” is a fantastic uptempo Classic female fronted AOR rocker that easily reaches the level of ROBIN BECK, FIONA and JAIME KYLE. Katie is an amazing vocalist and the music itself is pure AOR like FRONTIERS RECORDS would be thrilled to release. However, the info is very limited and the only contact I can provide is an e-mail address at:  let’s hope a full-length record is currently in the making and we will have more info soon, because this 1 song alone screams for more exposure to our loyal AOR fans out there!

(Points: 8.7 out of 10)


Out of the United Arab Emirates comes the singer/songwriter FATINIZA, who is actually originally from Colombia. She already released some music in the past and I believe that we also reviewed some of her previous work a few years ago. ‘Nothing is impossible’ is her new full-length record and I have to admit that it is a very enjoyable high quality album that will absolutely be adored by all fans of female fronted AOR/Melodic Rock. Fatiniza is an amazing singer, with an incredible range and she really never misses a note, while the music rocks big time, sounding damn catchy and filled with memorable hooks and tight melodic choruses from start to finish. Especially the first couple of songs (“Life’s a mess”, “Can someone?”, “Sailor” and “Forget the blame”) are quite terrific pure AOR/Melodic Rocksongs in the style of PAT BENATAR, HEART, ROBIN BECK, SARAYA, RUBY FAITH, JAIME KYLE, LAOS… When the Latin American influences shine through later on the album, we can hear some very interesting beautiful music that sticks in your memory pretty fast and also makes you quite happy, especially during the superb “Donde estas?” that sounds as a potential radio summer hit! Also have a listen to the incredible peaceful acoustic closing track “Merinero”, where you almost get the chills. Fatiniza is definitely an extremely talented singer with a sensational new album in her discography and with her amazingly beautiful looks, it should be possible to breakthrough in the rest of the world. At the moment she has reached a superstardom in the United Arab Emirates, where she has performed in front of several Sheiks and without a doubt, this new album should also attract anyone else who likes to hear good melodic music with sensational vocals. All info at: 

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)


Now this is quite a surprise, because from out of nowhere we receive a terrific mini-CD from a new French band called THE MARS CHRONICLES. Basically everything sounds picture perfect here and the only pity is that 5 songs are included, because after hearing them you definitely want to hear much more. The band is from the beautiful south of France and they make their debut with this same titled album. The included music is superb Progressive Metal in the style of THRESHOLD, SUNCAGED, VANDENPLAS, SEVENTH WONDER, PAGAN’S MIND… and actually they even reach the same high quality quite a few times on this album. Instrumental it is your typical Progmetal affair, with all the big riffs, flashy guitarsolo’s and a wide diversity in the bass/drumsection, while vocally the band’s guitarist DEVY DIADEMA has a fantastic voice, without any accent. Every song is a highlight here and it would not surprise me if we are looking here at the next big band in the Progressive Metalscene! In the meantime, check them out at: 

(Points: 8.7 out of 10)


Lead singer GARETH JONES is one of the finest vocalists in Britain at the moment and whenever he participates in a band or project, then it should definitely be interesting and that is clearly the case with the sensational new album by the British band SANKARA. We reviewed their mini EP a few years ago and already back then I concluded that this is a highly recommended band to keep your eyes wide open for and now with the full-length album ‘Guided by degrees’ out, the band should really receive a lot of positive response. Each included song is filled with beautiful melodies and although it may not sound like a pure progressive rock record, it isn’t a straight ahead AOR record either. I think it is safe to say that this album offers the best of both worlds, so call it Progressive AOR at it’s very finest! Songs like “Never felt so alive”, “Gilded by gaslight”, “The doll’s house” and “Lullaby for a lost boy” are just a few examples of the wonderful SANKARA sound. Gareth’s voice is really amazing and has clear hints of the legendary DENNIS DEYOUNG (ex-STYX), while the melodies of each and every song is just so wonderful. Words can not describe how good this album really is and I hope it will be the band’s breakthrough. Check out more at: 

(Points: 8.8 out of 10)


JUPITER SOCIETY is a massive project formed around mastermind CARL WESTHOLM (composer, keyboardplayer), who gathered around him musicians and singers from all kinds of established Swedish Metalbands, such as KRUX, OPETH, EVERGREY, SOILWORK, CANDLEMASS and CARPTREE. ‘From endangered to extinct’ is the 3rd album and it is definitely a sensational record that brings forward a superb high quality Melodic Progressive/Symphonic Metalsound. AYREON, STAR ONE and THERION are a few examples of similar bands/projects. It is sounding quite dark and edgy sometimes, but it is all put together at such a remarkable high level, it is almost impossible to ignore if you’re a fan of the mentioned projects. Especially the involvement of some of Sweden’s biggest names in Metal should gain a lot of attention from anyone who likes THERION, EVERGREY, OPETH, CANDLEMASS and such. The album is likewise a concept record about the last hours of humanity, split into 6 separate songs. Do not miss this sensational release! More at: 

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)


Kim and Scott Collins are a married couple and both amazingly talented multi-instrumentalists and singer-songwriters, so the fact they are the core of the band THE SMOKING FLOWERS is making them sorta like THE WHITE STRIPES, but then musically a little bit different, because they are coming out of the Nashville area and play a mix of Rock and Country, yet with a dark rockin’ edge and moving into different areas a lot of times throughout their debut album ‘2 Guns’. A song like “The juggler” for example is midtempo and rocking quite hard, so this should actually not be called Country at all, because it is more akin to the aforementioned THE WHITE STRIPES. And “White flags” is a song that rocks as hard as LED ZEPPELIN did in the 1970s. Anyway, in total we can find 13 beautiful songs that either rock hard like a mix between the mentioned bands or touch the Classic Countrysound. The arrangements are terrific, vocally both can sing very well and together the harmonyvocals make it all sound quite sensational. Kim’s voice even reminds me of ANN WILSON sometimes, so she has a strong Rockish tone in her voice and especially during the songs “Something I said” and “Young mind” it almost feels like we’re listening to 1970s HEART and that is a huge compliment! However, most of the time the band creates a mix of classic Americana/Country and traditional 70s Classic Rock, ending up sounding like a very interesting cocktail that includes ingredients of bands like LED ZEPPELIN, THE WHITE STRIPES, 70s HEART and EMMYLOU HARRIS. This should definitely make you hungry, so go for more info to: 

(Points: 8.6 out of 10)


SECONDS BEFORE LANDING is a Pittsburgh, USA based project around multi-instrumentalist JOHN CRISPINO. He was blessed to be joined by people who worked with legendary acts like KING CRIMSON, VANILLA FUDGE (including bassist TIM BOGERT!), PINK FLOYD, etc. on this first album ‘The great deception’. The result is very impressive, because basically we get to hear high quality intelligent Progressive Rock with an Ambient touch in the style of ANATHEMA, PINK FLOYD, PORCUPINE TREE, MARILLION and such acts. It’s a clear concept album that sounds very varied and will keep you busy from start to finish. Everytime you listen to one of the 14 included songs you can find something new and that is exactly what makes concept progalbums so interesting. If you’re looking for a catchy over-produced standard hitrocksong, then skip this album, but in case you’re a dedicated music fanatic and are familiar with the work of aforementioned acts, then this SECONDS BEFORE LANDING is a must-have to check out at: 

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)


Multi-instrumentalist JEFF BELL is coming out of London and ‘Rome’ is already his 5th CD. Musically speaking he is clearly entering the Americana/Roots-Rock field with STEVE MARRIOTT as one of his major influences. 14 songs are included and basically he did everything on his own, which makes it a rather interesting release. Jeff’s vocals are very raw and raspy, in your face and without any compromise, so more or less the way it should be in the Rock and Roll genre. His guitarplaying is quite strong and very 1970s Classic Rock orientated. MOTT THE HOOPLE might be a good comparison here and ‘Rome’ is definitely an album you must check out if you like original raw bluesy roots-rock the American traditional way. For more info go to: 

(Points: 7.7 out of 10)


And here we have another talented multi-instrumentalist/singer-songwriter from the USA. DARYL HANCE is coming out of the deep south of the US, namely the city of Jacksonville in Florida. Of course that city is known for it’s Southern Rock roots, as LYNYRD SKYNYRD and several other bands in that genre were formed over there. It is therefore not that strange that Daryl is also influenced by Southern Rock (listen to the midtempo rocker “A mountain” for example), although his music also contains a lot of Americana/Singer-Songwriter roots Rock. The result is a very professional sounding record that was mastered in New York and somehow it reminds me so much of ETHAN JOHNS and NICK CAVE, so it is a little dark and slow sounding. Due to the Southern Rock influences it however makes it sound quite original and interesting to check out. More at: 

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)


The Australian duo WAKING UGLY is formed around vocalist LYDIA GARDNER and guitarist DARREN PACE, who were kind enough to sent me their debut EP ‘Say something sweet’. The album contains 5 fresh sounding original tunes written by Lydia and Darren. They are on the rise to fame and fortune in Australia and that is not so strange if you hear their songs, which are deadly catchy melodic poprock/aor pieces that are screaming for radio airplay. Lydia is an excellent singer with a soul in her rock voice and especially the midtempo AOR of “Must be love” and “Guess it’s over” and the uptempo melodic poprocker “Zombies” are excellent hookladen tunes that sound like a cross between PAT BENATAR, RICK SPRINGFIELD and ROXETTE. My only complaint would be that the drums sound very thin, so on a future release some more drum/bass action is needed to make it sound more powerful than the lightweight approach the material now has. Nevertheless, WAKING UGLY is a very interesting act to follow in the near future, because they definitely have something sweet to say! Check them out at: 

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)


Out of Pittsburgh comes the band SCANNER, whom were actually active way back in 1979 and the original recordings of the material on their CD ‘One foot in the grave…’ also date back to 1979-1980. Musically it is raw pure Punkrock in the late 70s style, yet with a Rock and Roll attitude, including typical Classic Rock type of guitarwork and even some solo’s. The band sounds like they were standing with one foot in the classic mid 1970s New York Punk/Glamrock’n’roll sound of NEW YORK DOLLS, RAMONES, CBGB, KISS and the other foot in the late 1970s Punkrockstyle of London (DEAD BOYS, STIFF LITTLE FINGERS, etc.), while the guitarsolo’s and mostly uptempo hardrocking’ tunes even revealed a sorta early 80s NWOBHM sound. A song like “Pornography”, “Fight” and especially “Martian War Machines” could have easily been pre-Glamrocksongs of the legendary band WRATHCHILD UK. Anyway, it sounds very raw and is absolutely not interesting for people who like their rock to sound polished and well-produced, because this SCANNER is as live and real you can get, so this is definitely pure Rock and Roll the way it was meant to be! Check it out for yourself at: 

(Points: 7.8 out of 10)


Guitarist GADI CAPLAN comes originally from Israel, where he was born, but is based in Brooklyn, New York, from where he has built up a reputation as a musician. ‘Look back step forward’ is his 2nd CD and without a doubt, we can hear a highly professional musician at work here. It is an almost entirely instrumental album, which shows the man’s excellent skills on both the acoustic and the electric guitar. Musically it is a crossover between progressive rock, jazz, fusion, funk and world music, dangerously close to SANTANA of course, but thankfully Gadi’s guitarstyle has it’s own signature and I must say that especially on the electric guitar during a song like “Within the clouds” he is able to let his guitar sing and that is exactly what people want to hear. That 70s classic rock meets progrock adventure is also the highlight on the album. Make sure not to miss this wonderful guitarplayer at: 

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)


The music career of American singer/songwriter JOHN TAGLIERI goes back to the 1980s when he was part of several local bands, although his first claim of fortune was during the late 1990s when I reviewed his wonderful first solo-album ‘Leap of faith’, which was an excellent AOR adventure and this started his connection to the AOR fans worldwide. I also interviewed him back then ( ) and I still can not believe this is almost 15 years ago!!!

Anyway, John kept on releasing pop/rock releases in the following decade and now there is ‘Greetings from southernm paradise’ in the year 2013. John is a fantastic classic 80s type of AOR singer, with a superclean voice and he is easily able to reach the high pitch vocal range, while in the lower vocal range he sounds like RICK SPRINGFIELD and STAN BUSH to whom he also musically is sounding alike, although one might also pick up some NELSON (a lot!), RICHARD MARX, BON JOVI and BRYAN ADAMS influences here and there. The 6 included songs on his new album are a nice mixture of AOR, Westcoast and Classic Melodic Poprock, with some great guitar- and vocalwork. “When I think about” is a terrific catchy tune that just screams for radio airplay, so a definite summer hit we have here. And how about the semi-AOR ballad “It’s you” and the summer poprocker “Days of night” that just show that new AOR songs can still sound attractive and very fresh! The songs also remind me of BRETT WALKER somehow, so all the AOR/Melodic Rockfans will now understand that this JOHN TAGLIERI is someone you urgently need to check out! I can only repeat once again that John is a superb singer and that is what is so important in today’s musicscene, so this new mini-CD is a great comeback record of him and let’s just hope this talented musician from New Jersey will be able to come over to Europe to show his talent to the audiences over here. He is still a highly recommended AOR Singer-Songwriter who deserves a lot more attention. More at: 

(Points: 8.6 out of 10)


The LA based band BLACKLIST UNION was formed by singer/songwriter TONY WEST back in 2004, now releasing the 3rd album with ‘Till death do us part’. The featured musicians are part of SALIVA, with in addition also several musicians whom played with CRAZYTOWN, IGGY POP, TIN MACHINE, GLENN DANZIG, GLENN CAMPBELL…, while the record was produced by CHRIS JOHNSON (GOLDFINGER, HILARY DUFF…). All together a nice bunch of talented people are involved in this record, which in the end sounds like another typical raw but catchy clean melodic rock and roll record. You gotta love the way Tony is singing, because it is actually whining in a way that reminds a lot of OZZY (which doesn’t sound too bad during “Diggin’ 4 Gold”) and/or SEBASTIAN BACH in a bad Hair Day. However, after a while it becomes a little annoying and sounding sameish and very monotone. For a fan of straight-ahead no-nonsense street/sleazy rock and roll still good enough to check out at: 

(Points: 7.8 out of 10)


Now this is more like it, because THE NEW BLACK SEVEN combine Country Rock, Southern Rock and Classic Melodic Rock in a way we have loved it from bands like SHOOTER JENNINGS, LYNYRD SKYNYRD, 38 SPECIAL, VAN ZANT and such throughout the past decades. However, this first CD of newcomers THE NEW BLACK SEVEN sounds massive and could easily be huge in the USA, where they appreciate this kind of music a lot. They had the privilege to work with people whom worked with acts like THE BEACH BOYS, TOWER OF POWER and even DESTINY’S CHILD and BEYONCE (!!!), but I can guarantee you that this CD rocks big time and definitely belongs in the hands of fans of earlier mentioned bands. The band takes some gas back during the polished AOR ballad “Fly me to freedom” that has all the ingredients of the American staple Power Ballad of the REO SPEEDWAGON, LONESTAR, VAN ZANT and whatever Soft-Rockband kind, although secretly it also reminds me a bit of those gorgeous picture-perfect GOTTHARD ballads from the past (“Heaven”). I am sure I get punished for liking such a song, but it just sounds powerful and catchy, although a good move from the band to follow it up with the groovy hardrockin’ “Outlaw” that is a bit like BLACK STONE CHERRY mixed with DAMN YANKEES. Although this first album of THE NEW BLACK SEVEN is actually a mini-album that by the way also includes a cover of the MOTLEY CRUE classic “Kick start my heart”, it is nevertheless quite a must to check out at: 

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)


North Carolina based singer/songwriter MIKE WILLIAMS has been making music for 40 years now and you can clearly hear that he is a qualified excellent guitarist, who is able to let his guitar sing a melody and that doesn’t happen much nowadays! He also happens to be a strong vocalist and the CD he sent me contains some good traditional singer-songwriter meets 70s classic rock kinda material, clearly influenced by JOHN LENNON during the calmer songs and LED ZEPPELIN during the rockier tunes (although “Soldier of love” also reminds me a lot of BILLY SQUIER). The songs are very good actually and the only negative point is the somewhat flat production. Of course this is an independent production, so you don’t need to expect something massive sounding, but my main concern is that instead of real powerful drums it seems a drumcomputer has been used. If not, then the drums sound really thin and that is a pity, because the bass/drumsection can make or break a record. Hopefully on a future record this will get the desired attention as well, because it would be a shame if people will not be introduced to Mike, who really is an exceptionally great guitarplayer and strong singer too! More info at: 

(Points: 7.8 out of 10)


Not to be confused with the countless same named bands from the past, because this concerns the Polish MILLENIUM, whom are delivering their latest album with ‘Ego’. They have already released quite a number of albums and can easily be mentioned next to the other Polish Progbands out there, such as RIVERSIDE, QUIDAM, COLLAGE, SATELLITE… It would be easy to compare this band to IQ and PENDRAGON, because that is where this Neo-Progstyle of MILLENIUM is quite close to. Nevertheless, the band has created a sorta own style, whih leaves a lot of room open for some beautiful instrumental passages and especially the terrific guitarolo’s are making it a pleasure to listen to. Just listen to the last few minutes of the opening titletrack and you will be stunned by the amazingly beautiful guitarwork of guitarist Pjotr Plonka, along with the laid-back somewhat dark keyboardwork of Tomasz Kramarski. 6 lengthy tracks are included and without a doubt, this is a recommended CD to the Neo-Progfans out there. More at: 

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)

(All reviews by Gabor Kleinbloesem except where noted)