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The UK based singer/songwriter KYLA LA GRANGE is the latest sensation in the music business. Her CD 'Ashes' is the picture-perfect album for anyone into today's female fronted mix of Electronic bombastic 80s Powerpop, traditional Indiepop and acoustic Melancholic Poprock. We have heard it all before, bit still this album sounds really great, mixing FLORENCE AND THE MACHINE, TORI AMOS, KATE BUSH, THE JEZABELS and FLEETWOOD MAC, yet with the extraordinary vocals of Kyla that seem to be almost impossible to compare. Songs like the melancholic "Vampire soul", "Walk through walls", "I could be" and the beautiful LUBA/DALBELLOish "Woke up dead" are all radio-ready proof, but any song will do here and despite the songs are actually filled with catchy melodies, the whole package sounds Indie ish and not major label polished, so this album will definitely stand the test of time. There’s a hidden song that you can only hear if you let the album run a little longer when the final song “Lambs” finishes, because after about 15 minutes we get to hear a very beautiful calmer song titled “Sympathy”. Most remarkable are of course Kyla's vocals that at times do recall KATE BUSH, but the already mentioned FLORENCE AND THE MACHINE is also a great comparison, although as already mentioned she has a sorta own style in her vocal range. The production is utterly fantastic and nobody can deny the immense high quality of music displayed on this CD of KYLA LA GRANGE. She’s young and ambitious, has got the looks and is able to write her own songs that do sound very strong, so I predict a bright future for Kyla. Check out all info at: 

(Points: 8.8 out of 10)


Actually the Maryland, USA based Progressive Rockband OCTOBER TREE was born out of the ashes of the band CANVAS, yet it now also features female vocalist TAMMY LOUNSBERRY, who is the wife of Guitarist and Songwriter GREG LOUNSBERRY. Joining the husband-wife team are Matt Sweitzer, John Swope, and Chris Cobel of CANVAS. Although labeled as Progrock, OCTOBER TREE is slightly different, because the music is a little more polished and melodic, but nevertheless is heavily focused on the 1970s and does remind a lot of bands like BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST, CAMEL, CARAVAN, RENAISSANCE and also JEFFERSON AIRPLANE, FLEETWOOD MAC, 70s HEART and MOSTLY AUTUMN come to mind here and there. The band’s debut album is titled ‘The fairy’s wings’ and like already mentioned some of the material is closer to 1970s AOR/Melodic Rock than Progressive Rock. For example, the opening title track is a very strong 70s AOR tingled tune that sounds quite laid-back and very sensational actually. The female vocals sound very pleasant all throughout the album and here and there some male vocals can also be heard. In fact, there is even a slight hint of 70s Pomprock, so the music is very melodic due to the use of strong vocals and harmonies. The progrock comes alive during the instrumental parts of the material and the final few tracks “Cult of the White Witch” and “Epiphanies” are very close to classic RENAISSANCE. More info at: 

(Points: 8.4 out of 10)


It took Canadian singer/songwriter AMANDA ROSE MOSCAR 14 years before she would be able to release a full-length album, but with ‘Hammers and bones’ the result of all that hard work is finally paying off. The included music is only featuring the vocals of Amanda and her pianowork, so no drums, guitars, bass or anything added here, just the piano and the vocals can be heard throughout the 12 included tracks. The result is an album that contains a mix of beautiful melodies and more Cabaret like parts, sort of a cross between LUBA, BEVERLY CRAVEN, SAM BROWN and TORI AMOS. Songs like “Habit”, “Girl standing” and “” show the incredible talent of Amanda, who can sing very well and also do it in diverse ranges. Besides the fact that this is just an independent release, it is even more remarkable that Amanda is doing everything on her own, meaning she is very devoted to her work, but this first official CD release should easily gain her the attraction of the music business, so perhaps give her that much-needed push to move forward, fully concentrate on her music and perhaps perform outside Canada, because she truly deserves to be heard all over the world! Check her out at: 

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)


Now this is quite surprising, both musically and visually, because we received a Vinyl / LP of the new album of legendary CHICAGO vocalist/keyboardplayer ROBERT LAMM. As a big Vinyl Collector it is always nice to see something on Vinyl again, although musically speaking this best of release of some of ROBERT LAMM’s most notable songs is sounding completely different than the original versions, because it actually concerns modern Trance / Dance with a Jazzy Latin Lounge approach Remixes of such timeless CHICAGO tunes like “Beginnings”, “Saturday In The Park”, “25 Or 6 To 4”, “Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?”, “Questions 67 & 68” and “Another Rainy Day In New York City” as well as a few of his solo work (“It’s A Groove, This Life”, “You’re My Sunshine Everyday” and “On The Equinox”). The remixes are done by JOHN VAN EPS and I am not sure if the fans of Robert and CHICAGO are going to appreciate this, because this is a serious attempt of trying to teach the young something old in a new jacket. Done very well and sounding quite modern and youthful, it has absolutely nothing to do with the original versions.

(Points: -)


Out of The Netherlands comes the band LANDSCAPE and they just released their debut album ‘Staring at Utopia’. While listening to the album it is clear that this is quite a magnificent record, which especially thanks to the vocals of the female singer SANDRA SMIT is lifted above the average Progressive Rockalbums out there. Although the band might be called a Progressive Rockband, due to the superb melodic clean vocalwork of Sandra the material is actually sometimes closer to AOR and Melodic Rock. Towards the end of the album, the songs are drifting more into pure Progressive Rock with similarities to MOSTLY AUTUMN and PINK FLOYD. However, the real highlights are the very impressive “World within a world”, the almost AOR ish ballad “Captive dream” (amazing song of an incredible high level), the Progressive AOR rocker “Straightjacket vs individual” (truly superb!!!) and the uptempo Progish AOR rocker “The third life” (cathy chorus and fantastic melodies). In the end, the music is pure Melodic Progrock with superb clean vocals and lovely AOR melodies. Sometimes the music is not too far removed from acts like TRACY HITCHINGS, a calmer LANA LANE, MOSTLY AUTUMN, KARNATAKA, LANDMARQ and even some of the 1970s HEART sound can be heard here and there, while the already mentioned PINK FLOYD influences are also very clear. All together it sounds just so beautiful and LANDSCAPE is definitely a band that needs to be heard by all musicfans out there and I find it very hard to believe that they haven’t received much exposure in Holland yet as they truly deserve to become better known. In the meantime, check them out at: 

(Points: 8.7 out of 10)


Although the debut album was 80s Synth Pop Heaven and the new album of New Zealand recording artist LADYHAWKE is also still clearly 80s influenced, the material is this time rich in fuzzy guitars that do sound like early 80s Synths, because according to the liner notes only some Organ was used during the creation of ‘Anxiety’. Back to the LADYHAWKE moniker, this is actually the artist name of the multi-instrumentalist PIP BROWN (full name Phillipa Margaret Brown), and she is given us a very strong record that will appeal to anyone who likes all music recorded between 1980 and 1995, because that is the area where all of the songs on this album soundalike. Of course ever since the whole 1980s sound went back into fashion the past few years, also LADYHAWKE became one of the acts to find the fifteen minutes of fame. She is also signed to a major label and thanks to massive label support, her debut album sold very well a few years ago and she was named a new sensation in the Popworld. 10 songs can be found on the new album ‘Anxiety’, of which the highlights are “Sunday Drive” (excellent SUMMER HIT!), “Black White & Blue” (such an early 80s chorus driven back-to-back Poprocker), “The Quick & The Dead” (featuring a riff and a midtempo beat a la “Eye of the tiger” by SURVIVOR), “Anxiety” (excellent tune) and “Cellophane” (another catchy 80s driven hit song). This album sounds heavy on the synths (despite they were not used this time by LADYHAWKE, so it must be the Fuzzy Guitars that sound like ‘em!), is deadly catchy hookladen hi-tech 80s influenced pop/rock orientated and I am quite sure that the fans of female fronted 80s AOR/Poprock fans will absolutely love this, because it is just so close to acts like SHANDI, SHANGHAI, SPIDER… However to keep it more mainstream for the average reader, I probably need to say that it sounds like FLORENCE AND THE MACHINE, THE JEZABELS, BLONDIE (but so much better!!!), KIM WILDE (but then with a more underground based sound!!!) and even a touch of 80s A-HA! It is very cool that the distorted fuzzy Garage Rock guitar sound is used, but it nevertheless it sounding dangerously catchy due to the melodic memorable choruses in each and every song. You can’t help falling in love with this record as it sounds retro and modern at the same time, but also underground ish and catchy and so it should attract people from all worlds! Good to see the 80s still reflected in so many new records out there and LADYHAWKE’s new one ‘Anxiety’ is one of the better ones at the moment! More info at: 

(Points: 8.8 out of 10)


Although musician AJAY MATHUR is active in his homeland of Switzerland for many years now, even releasing several albums with his rockband MAINSTREET during the 1980s, he was actually born in India and performed at music clubs in New Delhi and Mumbai during the 1970s when he was a student of English literature. After all those years he now releases his first solo album ‘A matter of time’, a very professional looking and sounding album that contains more or less a mixture of light AOR/Westcoast and 70s Pop/Rock. It is clear that the 1970s and 1980s Pop/Rock music influenced Ajay a lot, because the AOR/Poprock ish material does remind a lot of that period of time in music history. Vocally he somehow has a certain TOM PETTY vibe and the music has a strong singer/songwriter style and I do feel some comparisons to MARK SPIRO musically speaking, so this here concerns mainly laid-back material, but done in a very good way. Westcoast-ish Pop/Rock and sometimes acoustic tingled modest Pop/Rock is the name of the game here, but also here and there more rocking such as the pure 1970s Westcoast-Rocker “Granted” which has somehow stronger vocals than the rest of the material. Actually, all together it sounds very 1970s American Pop/Rock orientated and out of the 11 included tracks the best tune is definitely “Taking the night away” that develops into a very strong pure AOR song that even reminds one of DAKOTA! If more tunes on the album would follow this smooth AOR direction, then it would have been a very sensational album. Now the songs are sometimes quite light-weight, but nevertheless quite good and reminding me of the already mentioned artists as well as PUBLIC DOMAIN and especially STEELY DAN (especially during the song “Wine and the time of a man”) comes to mind more than a few times. The diversity is also remarkable, because the song “Communicate” reminds then suddenly of GEORGE HARRISON and DONNIE IRISish Poprock of the early 80s kind. Quite a strong quality album that moves into different areas of the American Pop and Rock past of the 1970s and 1980s, so if you’re starting to become interested, then go to:  and Facebook: 

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)


Formed in 2004, the German band SINEW released their debut CD ‘The beauty of contrast’ in 2008 on the label ALVERAN RECORDS. Unfamiliar with this release, I find myself now listening to their new album ‘Pilots of a new sky’. Musically speaking they sound quite interesting, because they start with a few modern sounding Melodic Hardrocksongs, but as of track number 3 they are heading into an almost pure Melodic Progressive Rock direction, reminding of VANDENPLAS actually. In fact, the band’s singer SASCHA JUNKER sounds dangerously close to the VANDENPLAS vocalist and also musically they are quite similar to each other, although SINEW does add a few modern MHR and quite a lot Altrock influences here and there too. COHEED AND CAMBRIA and TOOL similarities are therefore sometimes also the case. Sascha does also remind a bit of MICHAEL KISKE and if we scroll through the track listing of their new album, the highlights are “Mercy on Apollo”, “One Glimpse B.C.”, “The Skins I Wear” and “Arctica”, which all drift into a lovely slightly polished Melodic Progressive Rock direction of the earlier mentioned VANDENPLAS. Towards the end of the album it becomes a little experimental, especially during the lengthy “The Descend to the Heart of Mount Sadhana” which even features some screams and we can find a few more of the Alternative Rock influences during the last couple of songs, but overall I think fans of Progrock with a focus on clean melodies will find this new SINEW album quite interesting to check out. More info can be found at:

(Points: 8.4 out of 10)


With a name like VAN ZANT and the fact you’re born in Jacksonville, Florida, it is clear that we are dealing with someone out of the Southern Rock genre and indeed JIMMIE VAN ZANT is a cousin of the legendary Southern Rock vocalists JOHNNY VAN ZANT (LYNYRD SKYNYRD, VAN ZANT), the late RONNIE VAN ZANT (LYNYRD SKYNYRD) and DONNIE VAN ZANT (38 SPECIAL, VAN ZANT). Jimmie himself is also a singer and his new CD ‘Feels like freedom’ is released through RED/SONY MUSIC. The music sits nicely between the music of his family, so basically what you get here is Southern Rock, yet with a certain Country-Rock flavour as in typical American tradition. It’s Jimmie’s 3rd album so far and I do believe we reviewed one of his earlier records back in the past. Anyway, the new album is filled with 11 strong tunes, of which probably “Ain't Quite Mary Jane”, “Feels Like Freedom”, “Southern Rock” and “Come on Man” are the best ones, which should go down very well live on stage I think. Although I have to say that the material is sometimes a bit on the lighter side and not as rocking as for example LYNYRD SKYNYRD, it’s the balladry work that works very well too and combined with the earlier mentioned typical American Southern Rock tunes, this mixture makes the album a much-recommended album. Of course the album is a must-have for any fan of Classic American traditional Southern Rock. Check out all info at:  and 

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)


‘Mutt’ is a very diverse album on Chicago based label BLOODSHOT RECORDS by Memphis based singer-songwriter CORY BRANAN, because it starts with a calm acoustic Singer/Songwriter piece called “The corner” that could easily have been a MUMFORD AND SONS or FLEET FOXES song, while it is followed by an almost Post-Punkisk uptempo rocker titled “Survivor blues”. This last mentioned song is the best track on the record and also the only real electrified rocker with a strong almost melodic rock ish chorus, some THIN LIZZYish twin-guitarwork and a sound that reminds one of the Classic Rock days of the 1970s (although the much-praised THE GASLIGHT ANTHEM also comes to mind). However, most of the time, ‘Mutt’ is Cory’s answer to the Classic American raw Singer-Songwriter (Folksy) stripped-down style of such artists like TOM PETTY, BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN, TOM WAITS, JOHN COUGAR, etc. etc.. Cory writes all the songs, sings and plays guitar, while a long list of guest musicians help him out. Highlights are “Hold Me Down”, “Lily” and the rather catchy “Yesterday (Circa Summer 90 Somethin’)” and it is a pity he didn’t include more of these great rockers like “Survivor blues”, because despite the mention of a very diverse record, most of the record does fall into the classic American Singer/Songwriter style actually. Nevertheless, it is still a pretty good record that should be appreciated by fans of the earlier mentioned artists, but perhaps next time some more rockers could be included. More info at: 

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)


7 years ago we reviewed the debut album ‘Wrong address’ of the Finnish Melodic Rockband PRAYER and according to their positive info sheet, the band’s new album ‘Danger in the dark’ is brought to us as the latest melodic rock masterpiece. Although the production is very impressive and instrumental it all sounds very good and pretty much nails the 1980s AOR/Melodic Rocksound of bands like PHANTOM’S OPERA and 80s BON JOVI, I have my doubts about the vocals of Tapani Tikkanen. They are not exactly bad or anything, but on the other hand just not strong enough to make a big impact and really contribute to the Melodic Rock. Thanks to some nice catchy material however, the vocal department is covered and not a major issue. Compare it to the limited range of for example singers like JOHN BONGIOVI (BON JOVI), TOM COCHRANE (RED RIDER), ALDO NOVA and MYLES HUNTER (REFUGEE). Musically it is in the exact same AOR/Melodic Rockstyle as those bands, so I think you will then understand in what direction you must think regarding this new PRAYER album. Best songs are “Danger In The Dark”, “Nobody Loves You” and “Never Let Your Dreams Die”, but as mentioned the vocals are not making this album something you want to play over and over again. Only recommended to the die-hard fans! By far not a classic at all this new PRAYER album, but still a decent sounding typical 80s Melodic Rock record to check out if you like any of the mentioned bands.

(Points: 7.3 out of 10)


‘Excess all areas’ is the debut album of the German band HOLLYWOOD BURNOUTS and despite the vocals revealing a slight accent, the overall result is a pretty good record that will definitely appeal to fans of WIG WAM and THE POODLES, so basically this is Glam influenced 80s Melodic Hardrock. Not really original and perhaps a little cliché tingled and tongue-in-cheek kinda STEEL PANTHER affair here and there, with lyrics we have heard about a zillion times by now, it nevertheless has it’s charm and especially during catchy tunes like “Tonight” and “I wanna ride” quite enjoyable to listen to. The production is quite strong and all together fans of mentioned bands really need to check out this HOLLYWOOD BURNOUTS at: 

(Points: 8.1 out of 10)


How much more perfect do you want the new album of the Nashville settled singer/songwriter RACHEL FARRIS to sound and look like, because Rachel is not only just another beautiful looking girl, she is also a talented singer/songwriter, who wrote all the songs that are included on her 3rd album ‘Above the rug’. It all sounds so impressive, I am almost safe to say that this could have been a major label release. The fact that she is settled in Nashville might give one the impression that we might be looking at another Country-Pop album, but that is definitely not the case here, because the included music is very polished, radio-ready and quite catchy, balancing somewhere between clean sounding Powerpop of the American Radio and Classic 80s AOR/Poprock, somewhere a cross between JAIME KYLE, ROBIN BECK, KELLY CLARCKSON and BELINDA CARLISLE. Uptempo KIM WILDE/BELINA CARLISLEish Poprock is the first thing you are able to hear when putting on the CD (songs like “Sweetest thing” and “IMA Lady”), while a little SHANIA TWAIN is notable during “Stick your tongue in my mouth”, but it all sounds more interesting when Rachel is going the AOR direction like one can hear during the excellent tunes “Never mind” and “He’s so into her”, while the slightly grittier “Need a change” offers a darker side of Rachel, because this is basically sounding like a cross between THE CRANBERRIES and ALANIS MORISSETTE. Ballads can of course also be found on this album and as Rachel has got a really excellent smooth clean voice, these all sound really pleasant, with closing track “Empty” being the most strong ballad, which is almost a pure AOR ballad. Quite a surprise release and definitely a must-have for fans of clean sounding female fronted Powerpop/AOR. More info at: and e-mail her at: 

(Points: 8.6 out of 10)


L.A., California, USA based LA CHOLITA AND THE KREEPS only has a demo CDR out so far, but after spinning the 4 included tracks a couple of times, I can easily inform you that we are dealing here with something really special. If you thought IMELDA MAY is the latest Rockabilly Queen, then you haven’t heard this new female fronted band yet, because they will take the world by storm when they release their official full-length debut CD in 2013. They have already been promoted quite heavily in Germany, where they also toured this summer and when you hear songs like “Limbo”, “She bop” (a CINDY LAUPER cover) and “Scream the night away” you will definitely be hooked, because this is edgy hard hitting guitar driven Rockabilly with great strong melodies and actually it is almost sounding like a pure Melodic Rockband with an impressive guitarplayer (Richard Lamas) and a fantastic female lead singer called LA CHOLITA. She has a terrific range in her voice, sounding like a true Rock singer in the tradition of LEE AARON, ROBIN BECK and PAT BENATAR, yet with a slight quirky touch in the music that even reveal influences of NINA HAGEN (“Six feet under”). Anyway, they look and sound like a true Rock and Roll band and I predict a bright future for them. Hopefully we will see them live next year at one of the Rockabilly festivals in The Netherlands, but they can please any crowd with their catchy hard rockin’ music! More info at: 

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)


If somebody told me me that this is an American or English band I would honestly believe it, because the Duisburg, Germany based band MOBILEE sounds very international on their excellent debut album ‘Walking on a twine’. It was by accident I came across this band, because during a laid-back Sunday morning the ZDF/German TV station show called “Fernsehgarten” featured the band MOBILEE, which right from the start gave me the feeling that this might become the next big thing. Their song and new single “Lay down here” is a superb catchy Melodic Poprocker with a deadly catchy chorus that would make any AOR act proud. The song has an 80s vibe, but nevertheless is also sounding like a dreamy Folkpoprocker a la FLEETWOOD MAC, so right up-to-date with today’s market. In fact, MOBILEE is a band that sounds at times like the perfect cross between Indie, Folk, Dreampop and 80s AOR/Poprock, sorta mixing FLEETWOOD MAC, FLEET FOXES, THE JEZABELS, FIRST AID KIT and ROXETTE. The arrangements of each and every song is quite original, so not a single tune sounds identical and that makes this band very interesting. Nevertheless, each song is blessed with catchy melodies, but the most important factor of this band is their superb female lead singer CAROLINA WOLTER. She is giving MOBILEE the additional touch to get recognized and combined with a set of 12 catchy tunes that combine the best of 70s/80s melodic poprock and traditional dreampop/indiepoprock, this is surely a highly recommended album. Besides the already mentioned “Lay down here”, another absolute highlight is the laid-back sounding “Filmlet”. The production/sound is also excellent, but that is not so strange when you have the mighty UNIVERSAL MUSIC backing you up. Any song will do here and I would not be surprised if MOBILEE becomes a really big act soon, because already when you look at the cover art of their first album, one will agree that this is an original clever band that just happens to write catchy tunes that will appeal to a lot of people out there! Check it out for yourself at: 

(Points: 8.7 out of 10)


Although Southern Rock has been invented in the 1970s when bands like LYNYRD SKYNYRD, ALLMAN BROTHERS BAND, MARSHAL TUCKER BAND, BLACKFOOT and many more were basically flying high in the USA and a bit in Germany, the genre had a hard time throughout the 1980s and 1990s, but somehow during the 2000s it went back into fashion. Although it might never become as huge as it once was, the past few years we have seen quite a lot great new bands (SHOOTER JENNINGS, ZAC BROWN BAND…) waving the flag of Southern Rock. Of course the USA brings the best new bands forward in the genre (call them the New Wave Of American Southern Rockbands) and one of them is the Kentucky based FIFTH ON THE FLOOR. ‘Dark and bloody ground’ is their 2nd album, already released back in 2010, this record has got all the ingredients to become a Southern Rock Classic someday. It sounds raw to the bone, with classic dirty mean VAN ZANTish vocals, a Countryrock approach here and there, some bluesy overtunes more than a few times, but always featuring a gritty mean Southern Rocksound that fans of mentioned bands love so much. From start to finish, this is the way to do it… Rock and Roll the American way… combining all the elements that helped building Rock in the American history, so mixing influences of Country, Honky-Tonk, Indie, Folk, Americana and Rock and Roll, ending up sounding like a pure Southern ‘Kentucky fried’ Rockband. The absolute highlight is the classic LYNYRD SKYNYRD/BLACKFOOT type 1970s Southern Rockepic “Distant Memory Lane”, which starts calm with some nice laid back acoustic guitarplaying, but ends up with “Highway song/Freebird” guitar solo’s, although sadly it fades out a little bit too fast. Also closing hidden track “Drinkin’ friends” is worth checking out, because this is a rather cool sing-a-long song. The band is currently working on their 3rd album, which might well become the next big thing in Rock history! In the meantime, check them out at: 

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)


Out of Boston comes singer/songwriter JAMIE ALIMORAD and I am safe to say that finally we have here a true AOR performer in the original 80s American tradition. His mentor was FEE WAYBILL and musically he is influenced by RICK SPRINGFIELD. The 4 incredible catchy tunes on his 2010 released debut EP ‘Cornerstone’ come across like a mix between the 80s Poprock of BRYAN ADAMS, RICHARD MARX, DENNIS DEYOUNG, RICK MATHEWS, DANNY WILDE and a strong touch of 80s Classic AOR/Radiorock that recall SIGNAL, JIMMY DAVIS, VAN STEPHENSON and PREVIEW. Jamie’s vocals are spot-on and breathe pure 80s American AOR and so is the music, which in the end makes this EP a wet dream for any fan of 80s American Singer-Songwriter AOR-Rock. Uptempo catchy AOR/Poprock is the name of the game on especially the EP ‘Cornerstone’, with such tunes like “What you have”, “She is…” and the massive sounding “Say with me” (in the style of the ANDY TAYLOR classic “I might lie”), all a must-hear if you’re a real AOR fan! Closing track “In her smile” is a little more laid-back, but still AOR all the way and actually sounding dangerously close to VAN STEPHENSON and BRYAN ADAMS! The new and also first full-length CD of Jamie is titled ‘Words left unsaid’ and happily this record continues the style of the EP, so once again happy summer radiofriendly catchy AOR/Poprock with clean melodies, catchy hooks and superb vocals. Highlights on this CD are the uptempo Rockers “Tiffany” (RICK SPRINGFIELD meets the very first HAREM SCAREM!), “Does it really have to end this way?”, “Dancing with you” and “Don’t say it’s over”, the midtempo “Beautiful” and the fantastic closing AOR ballad “Forever and a day”. The album is a little more diverse than the EP and also add some modern Rock influences (kinda like the latest NIGHT RANGER and RICK SPRINGFIELD albums during a song like “Crawling back to me”), which is a good thing and also the production/sound quality is huge, compared to the EP! If there’s one artist I would like to highly recommend at the moment then it is JAMIE ALIMORAD. Now this is how AOR should sound like! Forget all those European AOR wanna-bee bands and all the AOR label organised projects, because here we have something really original in the shape of a multi-instrumentalist/ singer/songwriter, who is able to write original catchy AOR/Melodic Poprock tunes in the style of the American/Canadian tradition of legendary artists like VAN STEPHENSON, RICK MATHEWS, RICK SPRINGFIELD, BRYAN ADAMS, BUTCH WALKER, BERNIE LABARGE, STAN MEISSNER and even STAN BUSH! Go check out the sensational JAMIE ALIMORAD asap at: 

and remember where you have read about him first, because that is at Strutter’zine!

(Points: 9.2 out of 10)


I am quite surprised there isn’t much info to be found on this Notthingham based band THE SMILING STRANGERS, because their latest album ‘Full circle’ sounds very impressive and should definitely be praised by all media out there. The band is the baby of songwriter/bassist/guitarist JEFF REYNOLDS, who started it in 2004. Especially the superb vocals of other bandmember RUE RANDALL are giving this band that additional touch needed to stand out between the rest in the music business. The band has so far released 5 albums, of which ‘Full circle’ dates back to 2011 and it is sadly my first introduction to them, but better late than never! The included music is very melodic clean song orientated pop/rock that has a sort of own identity, but if you’re really keen on those usual comparisons, then perhaps it would be nice to mention acts like BIG COUNTRY, DEL AMITRI, JELLYFISH, 20/20, JACKSON BROWNE, JOHN MELLENCAMP, TOM PETTY, BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN, TOMMY TUTONE, GARY MYRICK, PAUL WELLER … so call it Pub-Rock, Folksy Rock, acoustic tingled pop/rock or even MOR/AOR, because there’s even a pure AOR song included (“Losing you”) and tunes like “Do so well, “Unlucky in love” and “September song” (coincidentally I heard this song for the first time on a September day!) sound very close to the legendary FOTOMAKER (remember them?). Also the AOR rocker “These lies” (with a guitar riff a la “So young so bad – STARZ and TOMMY TUTONE’s “867-5309/Jenny” sounds like classic early 80s American Radio) and the super melodic “Storm” will probably be loved by the regular AOR/Poprock fans as well, although Powerpop with a lot of catchy hooks and strong melodies would be the best thing to describe this hidden gem of THE SMILING STRANGERS. I guess actually this is a very traditional sounding Pop/Rock record with a sorta 1970s Singer-Songwriter American semi-Rock meets early 1980s Powerpop approach that should go down well with a lot of people out there! Go check them out for yourself at: 

(Points: 8.4 out of 10)


Catchy Melodic Powerpop/Poprock is the kind of music we can hear on the debut album of Australian Singer/Songwriter (and guitarist/keyboardplayer) JACOB BUTLER. Actually he sounds like the next big thing when we hear the very sensational opener “Come my way”, which is a deadringer for anyone into traditional catchy early 80s/00s Northern American Melodic Powerpop/Rock in the style of BRENDAN BENSON, JELLYFISH, MATTHEW SWEET, THE POSIES, BUTCH WALKER and the earlier generation of MOON MARTIN, DWIGHT TWILLEY BAND, BERNIE LABARGE, BRYAN ADAMS, MICHAEL ZEE, CARL DIXON, MARTIN BRILEY… Also the following 2 songs follow this rocking uptempo early 80s US/Canada meets British Powerpop style, but with “Mind waltz”, “Kites” and the beautiful ballads “A thousand lies” and “Illusive dream” Jacob takes a few steps back and throws in a few relaxing laid-back slowtempo tunes that have definite radio potential as this kind of semi acoustic tingled light melodic pop/rock is nowadays quite popular (actually it reminds me of PAUL WELLER a bit). Jacob has got a really superb clean voice that easily makes his already melodic catchy sounding material very attractive to listen to. He participated in both the Australian Idols and X-Factor a few years ago, but didn’t win, although it gave him a lot of exposure throughout the country and eventually he also became quite popular, so you can’t deny his potential as becoming huge someday. This first album ‘Reason’ is a step into the right direction and a song like “It might seem complicated” could even become a massive Radiohit worldwide if he’s lucky and despite some might disagree, this is actually a classic 80s Melodic Poprocker in the style of our beloved BRYAN ADAMS and RICK SPRINGFIELD, although the similiarites to MOON MARTIN and DONNIE IRIS are sometimes dangerously close too! However that is the case during most of the songs on the album and I guess that is a huge compliment and if I have to pick a real favorite, then I would go for “Jekyll over Hyde”, which is a really terrific Melodic Rocker that even has a sorta FM/80s GARY MOORE kinda chorus! Anyway, check out more at: 

(Points: 8.7 out of 10)


Now here we have something of a very high level, namely the band SYMPATHY FOR NOTHING from Austria and their debut full-length CD ‘A taste of light’. The production and overall sound is very impressive and thankfully also the included music is quite strong. The band has a really great lead singer (Richard Jakob Thallinger) and despite a few grunts here and there, the music moves somewhere between Melodic European Progressive Metal and Melodic American Modern (Nu-) Metal, with DISTURBED like distorted guitar riffs and super melodic clean vocal and chorus lines in the style of THRESHOLD, yet also combining some elements of EVERGREY, NEVERMORE and the old MERCENARY. On the other hand, it also reminds one of the countless American bands that have been making this kind of music the past 10-15 years, such as LIT, BREAKING BENJAMIN, THREE DAYS GRACE, STAIND and such. However, the addition of some real Metal riffs like those American bands more or less seem to miss makes SYMPATHY FOR NOTHING a highly recommended band to any Metalfan out there and due to the catchy melodies and strong clean lead vocals, it is also attractive for the Progmetalfans out there, who will absolutely love such faboluous songs like “Long forgotten”, “One step too far”, “Just one truth” and “Over and done”. Despite nothing new is happening here, the overall performance is far above the average Metal records and therefore SYMPATHY FOR NOTHING is a band to check out for sure at: 

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)


The Californian band JJAMZ is built around members of experienced bands like MAROON 5, THE LIKE, PHANTOM PLANET, RILO KILEY and BRIGHT EYES. The female fronted band (or should I say project?) delivers a sensational debut with ‘Suicide pact’ and I truly hope that a (European) tour and future albums will follow, but that is perhaps too early to tell, because each member will also continue to work with their regular bands. Nevertheless, they show that something beautiful can happen out of a karaoke night somewhere in Hollywood, because that is where JJAM was formed 4 years ago. Now their first record is released and without a doubt, this is a very impressive record. The music has a real good ‘Summerish’ feeling, with many happy uptempo tunes that clearly are reminding of the classic early 1980s female fronted melodic poprock/powerpopsound crossed with some of today’s Indie-Rockgenre. A few of the songs also feature male vocals of bassist Michael Runion, but we can mainly listen to Z BERG’s excellent vocals. She is the singer of the Retro 1960s Garage Rockband THE LIKE and definitely a big plus in the overall sound of JJAMZ. Highlights on the album are “Suicide pact”, “Heartbeat” and “Never enough”, all catchy hookladen 80s influenced Powerpop anthems with a touch of Indie-Rock, actually not far removed from let’s say THE JEZABELS, a more polished FLORENCE AND THE MACHINE and legendary unknown early 80s acts like HELEN SCHNEIDER WITH THE KICK, SHANDI, SPIDER, SHANGHAI, SUE SAAD AND THE NEXT, LAURIE AND THE SIGHS, ROBIN LANE, LISA NEMZO and even a bit of SIXSIOU AND THE BANSHEES. There’s also space for a few laid-back ballad-ish material in the shape of “Poolside” and closing track “Can I change my mind”. Without a doubt, something worth checking out for sure here and hopefully the start of a long-lasting band. More info at: 

(Points: 8.7 out of 10)


Just when you thought that ROCK and METAL OPERA’s were over, a new one pops up in the shape of SOULSPELL, which is a project by Brazilian drummer HELENO VALE. Thankfully it is a budget driven project, because everything seems to sound big and of a high level and the involved vocalists are also interesting, except for perhaps the ex-MAIDEN singer BLAZE BAYLEY. On the other hand you have the excellent AMANDA SOMMERVILLE on vocals and she is of course one of the finest female singers of the past 20 years! Her vocals during “To crawl or to fly” make this one of the highlights on the album, because this is an excellent KAMELOT/EPICAish Melodic uptempo Sympho-Power Metaltune with Neo-Classical influences. The music of the whole album has the typical KAMELOT/LABYRINTH/RHAPSODY/AYREON/VISION DIVINE kinda Sympho-Prog-Power Metal feeling and all together it sounds like a really strong album. Actually it’s already part 3 and likewise the 3rd album of the SOULSPELL project, but somehow this is my first experience and I must say it is definitely an album you want to play a few times more in the future, as you can clearly hear a lot of effort has been done during the recording process. I also have to add here the catchy fast Power Metal tune “Change the tide” that features vocals of another female singer (DAISA MUNHOZ) of whom I haven’t heard anything before. Nice record that can easily be played loud and proud, so check out more info at: 

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)


The Dutch band SWELTER releases their 2nd album with ‘Mountains for everyone’, which is a very impressive sounding album that easily reaches the level of their British counterparts. The music is very melancholic, but also quite melodic, with influences from the Classic 80s Britpop/Indierock genre of acts like THE SMITHS, ECHO AND THE BUNNYMEN, THE STONE ROSES, JOY DIVISION, 80s U2 (vocally dangerously close to BONO actually!) etc. etc. and also taking something of the modern bands. In fact, on songs like the catchy “Spineless”, “The driver” and “From now on”, they sound like a true British band and destined to become the next big thing! There is a nice variation in tempo and style during the CD, because we can hear a strong mixture of slower dark melancholic tunes and happier uptempo melodic songs, which makes the album a pleasure to listen to from start to finish. One of the highlights is the dark sounding semi-ballad “I will not be moved” that also features some great female backing vocals and a nice laid-back bluesy guitarsolo, besides featuring a great haunting chorus. Without a doubt, this is a band to watch out for in the near future and it is a pity I missed their debut from a few years ago, because SWELTER is definitely a band that should not be missed in the incredible huge amount of other new bands active in the modern age. Therefore check them out at: 

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)


I believe we reviewed several records of the Spanish band TAIFA in the past and now there is a new record out titled ‘Despertando el silencio’. Musically speaking it is a mixture of PRETTY MAIDS, BON JOVI and HELLOWEEN, yet with Spanish lyrics. We have seen and heard it all many times before, so nothing that new is brought, with the exception that there are elements of Progressive Rock and Flamenco to be heard. In fact, the whole CD is also featuring the Moroccan andalusi orchestra ABNAE ZIRYAB of Tangier, a gnawa roup and a flamenco musician called RICARDO DE LA CONCEPCION. So actually this album is definitely doing something differently and it does not sound that bad really, but combining Melodic Rock, Symphonic Metal and Spanish lyrics is already quite challenging and now there are also Flamenco and Andalusian/Moroccan elements included (remember MEDINA AZAHARA?), so this is something for the open-minded rockfans out there. Check out more info at: 

(Points: 7.8 out of 10)


LCDMF is a Finnish duo consisting of two sisters, Emma and Mia Kemppainen, who already delivered a full-length record in 2011 on the HEAVENLY RECORDINGS label, but are now releasing music on their own label FAN RECORDINGS. Also instead of releasing a full-length record, they are planning to release 3 separate EP’s that combined are making a full-length record. The start of this trilogy is ‘Mental health’ and despite the fact they are actually in the running to become quite huge, because they worked together with a BEYONCE producer and several magazines, blogs and radio stations have already praised the sound of these two girls, at first sight they didn’t impress me that much I’m afraid. The latest EP is titled ‘Mental health, which consist of 4 tracks that musically speaking is going back to the early 1990s Electronic Pop, including a drumcomputer. Somehow it is a mix between SUZANNA VEGA, BECK and 90s R&B and it sometimes sounds quite experimental, yet still light-weight. I really think a full-length record would tell us more about these girls, whom are nevertheless able to sing quite well, but I feel that instrumental it lacks a bit here and there. More at: 

(Points: 7.1 out of 10)


Americana, Folk, Altcountry and Rootsy Rock are combined here in such a good way that it seems like we are listening to the latest sensation from Nashville or New Orleans, but in fact this is the debut album of singer/songwriter JOOST DOBBE, a Dutch musician who has played all over Holland in probably each and every existing club the past decades. Anyway, he has a fantastic voice and his songs are very impressive and like already mentioned, he is definitely able to compete with the large amount of singer/songwriters from the USA. The music is very melodic, clean and well-produced and in fact, if you’re familiar with TIM KNOL, then you might want to check out this musician too, although Joost has a little more edge to his sound, thanks to the back-up band THE ROLLING BOMBERS that consists of musicians who play(ed) with well-known Dutch acts like SILKSTONE, TIM AKKERMAN, KRIS BERRY, DRUKWERK, etc.. ‘Times like these’ is already the 3rd album of the 30-year old singer/songwriter and it is a pity he hasn’t had his major breakthrough yet, because the high quality of songs like “Come and go”, “Julia” and “Johnny” as well as the VAN MORRISON cover “Hungry for you love” should bring him at least some fame and fortune. “The worry” even reminds one a bit of an old PAUL MCARTNEY/BEATLES tune. Here and there we have a more uptempo based rootsy rocker, although Joost loves to go into the sentimental singer/songwriter journey most of the time and that is where he sounds at best. Check it out for yourself at: 

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)


What strikes me most about this album is the fact that they are an Italian band with an Italian singer likewise, but that particular vocalist (DAVID PETROSINO) has an accent-free voice, which does not happen a lot when we hear Italian singers. The sound/production of ‘Spiritual revolution’ is also huge and musically speaking they are going for an own sound, which combines Artrock, Progressive Rock, Avant-Garde, Progmetal, New Age and even some Industrial, although most of the time SAILOR FREE is a Progressive Rockband that sounds very much like a British or Dutchprogband from the 1990s progscene. That is not so strange if you know the background of this band, because SAILOR FREE was quite active in the early 1990s, with 2 album releases, which I have never heard sadly. They were inactive for about 14 years, but in 2010 they reformed and now this new album is released. Besides the fact their style is rather ambitious and reminds one also of bands like SYLVAN, ALIAS EYE and ELEGANT SIMPLICITY, so with a certain melodic part in the vocal department as well, this concerns actually a concept album based on the works of TOLKIEN and as the album title says part 1, a follow-up will continue this concept I think. Quite challenging and sounding very professional, this SAILOR FREE is without a doubt interesting for all progfans out there. More at: 

(Points: 8.4 out of 10)


Although not really original musically speaking, the 2nd album of the Dannish band BULLET TRAIN BLAST does sound quite impressive actually. It somehow combines the typical no-nonsense Hardrock of Swiss/Australian bands with the melodies of the modern heavy rocksound of the USA. In other words, they sound like a mix between SHAKRA, GOTTHARD, ALTER BRIDGE, RIVAL SONS, CREED and AIRBOURNE. Without a doubt, they have 10 strong tunes on offer, which vary from midtempo to straight-ahead uptempo rockers and thanks to the fact they have an excellent lead vocalist/shouter (M. Larsen), they should easily get some attention. My favorite track is definitely the midtempo GOTTHARD/SHAKRAish sounding “Queen of the night”, with it’s catchy chorus, but also the uptemo “Nothing remains” is a true winner. Not a classic release, but nevertheless it still is an album you might want to check out if you’re a fan of no-compromise traditional Classic Hardrock. More at: 

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)


ENEMYNSIDE is an Italian band delivering their 3rd record with ‘Whatever comes’. The included music is raw sounding Metal, with some Thrashy parts here and there, but also a lot of melodic parts that could be qualified as Melodic Metal (listen to the catchy chorus of “Rise up” that sounds like a mix between PRETTY MAIDS and BLIND GUARDIAN), yet always with vocals that lean towards the extreme side of screaming, so borderline Thrash Metal and that’s a pity, because their singer (bassist Francesco Cremisini is able to sound clean and melodic as well). Anyway, also interesting to mention is the fact that RITCHIE KOTZEN makes an appearance here, which of course is quite surprising, because the music is far removed from anything Ritchie has ever done in his career. Anyway, more info on this band at: 

(Points: 7.8 out of 10)


The Danish female fronted band STELLA BLACKROSE released it’s debut in 2010 and they were soon hailed as the new Rockstars in Denmark. Now it’s time for album number two, which is titled ‘Death and forever’. Without a doubt, we are listening to high quality stuff here, thanks to the excellent vocals of the female singer of STELLA BLACKROSE, Rebecca Lou Armstrong and also due to the fact producer JACOB HANSEN (VOLLBEAT, PRETTY MAIDS, PYRAMAZE…) helped them. Of course it helps as well that the included music is powerful modern heavy rock/metal with a focus on catchy melodies. As already mentioned, the vocals make the difference here, because Rebecca sounds really great. The only thing I feel is that this band can deliver something much better, because now a few of the songs sound so and so, but who knows a future release might see them accelerate in that department. Nevertheless, there’s still plenty to enjoy here, such as the fast uptempo “Guts” or the very melodic “Morphine”. Concluded, they are not there yet, but on the other hand already belong to the better sounding bands from Denmark. More at: 

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)


HARLLEQUIN is a Brazilian band making their debut with ‘Hellakin riders’. Sadly it is not such a impressive album, because it all sounds kinda outta-control, with over-the-top high pitched vocals and a music style that is too thrashy for the power metalfan and too power metal for the thrash metalfan. I am not really sure what to add here about this release… There really needs some work to be done if this band will ever make an impact in the already overcrowded Metalworld. Only for the die-hard fans out there I’m afraid, but you can hear it for yourself at: 

(Points: 6.5 out of 10)


This is Power Rock Trio 1960s style done very well by a Swedish band called THE BLACK EXPLOSION. THE YARDBIRDS, CREAM, THE WHO, JIMI HENDRIX and such come to mind when listening to their first record ‘Servitors of the outer Gods’. Although it is a style that is at the moment done by many other bands, THE BLACK EXPLOSION are doing things quite nicely here and fans of mentioned bands will definitely like this album. More at: 

(Points: 7.7 out of 10)


Greece might be sitting deep down in the financial crisis, they are still able to produce some high quality Metal. This time it concerns the new record of the band WARDRUM. Their new album ‘Desolation’ is a very strong Melodic (Power) Metal record, which is the follow-up to their debut from last year. The sound/production is quite decent (although some improvement in that department wouldn’t hurt) and the catchy melodies and memorable choruses of their songs are making this quite a pleasure to listen to actually. Thankfully the lead vocals are in good shape as well and the guitarwork is also bringing an additional touch, so all together this here is a quality Metal release on STEEL GALLERY RECORDS, a Greek label we reviewed quite a few releases in the past, but somehow lost touch somewhere along the way. Anyway, with WARDRUM they have an exciting band to offer, because the first 2 songs on their new album are very strong uptempo melodic power metal tunes and so are a lot of the other songs later on the album (with as highlight the excellent “Common ground” that is basically Classic Traditional Power Metal perfection!), but somehow it’s the song “Parental” that makes the connection here completely, as this is quite a superb uptempo Melodic 80s US Hardrock piece that sounds like a cross between 80s STRYPER, LIZZY BORDEN and FIFTH ANGEL, including 80s DOKKEN/STRYPERish guitar riffs and a lovely catchy melodic chorus that could be straight out of the 80s US Melodic Hardrock Book. The song “Faith” is also a very interesting tune you should put in your playlist! This is one of those albums that can be played from start to finish, without ever hitting the famous skip button, so thank you WARDRUM for delivering a very strong album! Highly recommended to fans of FIREWIND! Check it out for yourself at: 

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)


‘A bit of devil’ is the debut album of the German band ZODIAC and somehow this band is about to breakthrough, as the magazines ROCK HARD and CLASSIC ROCK are praising them quite heavily. Their music is Classic Rock in the best possible 1970s Retro style, yet as this style is at the moment very popular, they could well become the next big thing. If THE BLACK KEYS, RIVAL SONS, ALABAMA SHAKES and TRIGGERFINGER are your kinda rockbands, then you will absolutely love this ZODIAC. The band has already received rave reviews and after listening to the 8 included tracks I can clearly see and hear why, because there is quite a lot diversity going on here and despite the clear similarities to aforementioned bands, they clearly have got an own identity. They take a bit from Stoner Rock a la KYUSS (“A bit of devil”), a lot of THIN LIZZY during “Carnival”, “Assembly line” and “Horror vision” (especially vocally PHIL LYNOTT comes up more than a few times, although somehow I also notice ROBERT PALMER similarities), some pure Blues (“Blue Jeans Blues”), Classic AC/DC Rock and Roll (“Diamond shoes”) and melt it with LYNYRD SKYNYRD meets ZZ TOP Southern Fried Rock and even throw in a very odd but somehow impressive tune that sounds a lot like THE BLACK KEYS or THE WHITE STRIPES (“Thunder”). All together, they smell and sound like a true 1970s band, which can best be heard during the fabulous closing epic Southern Rock track “Coming home” that has got LYNYRD SKYNYRD/BLACKFOOT written all over the place! ZODIAC is one of those bands to check out asap before everyone else does, because 2013 might become their big year! More at: 

(Points: 8.4 out of 10)


It took guitarist/bassist PAUL BONRUD 8 years to release a second album, but now ESCAPE MUSIC releases the follow-up to the debut album of his band BONRUD, which was released on FRONTIERS RECORDS back in 2004. The new record is perfectly produced by the legendary KEITH OLSEN (FIONA, PREVIEW, RICK SPRINGFIELD, SCORPIONS…) and without a doubt, we can hear once again high quality catchy Melodic Rock/AOR with a strong focus on memorable vocals and melodies, while the choruses stick in your head quite rapidly. Paul is lucky to have a great singer on board, because vocalist RICK FORGREN is easily able to reach the high notes and add something extra to the material, which of course reminds one a lot of the glorious Melodic Rock past (FOREIGNER, SHADOW KING and UNRULY CHILD come to mind here and there). Especially during the uptempo pieces, such as “We collide”, “Torn apart”, “Dominoes” and “You’re the one” BONRUD sounds really great. Although this may not become a classic in the future, it surely is a nice new Melodic Rock/AOR album will all-original written tunes. Check out more at: 

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)


REDLINE hail from Birmingham, UK and they are making their debut on ESCAPE MUSIC with the release of their new album ‘Vice’. They released a record titled ‘Ignition’ 4 years ago, which we also reviewed and they now are signed to ESCAPE MUSIC, which gave them the guarantee of a better production/sound. The album does sound quite fine and offers nicely played typical British/European Melodic Hard/Heavy Rock that reminds a bit of MAGNUM, PRAYING MANTIS, TEN, URIAH HEEP, JADED HEART, LEVERAGE and that kinda bands. Although not every song is a winner here, we can definitely hear some strong material, such as the VANDENBERG meets MAGNUM sounding uptempo Melodic Heavy Rocker “Twisting the knife” (also reminds me a lot of the band LEVERAGE!). One of the featured songs on the CD is primarily used in the famous TT Motorcycle races on the Isle Of Man, which is held every year and reaching 32 million people worldwide, so some serious exposure for the band! It is not the best song on the album, because that award goes to the already mentioned “Twistin’ the knife” and also the Power semi-Melodic Rockballad “Cold silence”, a song which by the way also features violin and cello added by JIMMY LEA of SLADE (!). Anyway, nice return of REDLINE and good to see them signed to ESCAPE MUSIC. More info can be found at: 

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)


The Californian band PAPA ROACH was formed 20 years ago and during this period they switched from a very aggressive Rap-Metal act in the KORN/LIMB BIZKIT/SLIPKNOT style throughout the 1990s to a more modern but very melodic sounding American Rockband since the early 2000s. Especially their last couple of albums feature some really great catchy tunes. Of course this happened due to the change of market in the USA, where many more bands adapt this melodic modern rocksound and therefore this new album of PAPA ROACH will easily please the fans of let’s say THREE DAYS GRACE, STAIND, LIT, STONE SOUR, ALTER BRIDGE, CREED, SHINEDOWN, LIT, etc. etc. Although it might not sound really original, the performance on this new disc is quite pleasant to listen to. Apart from the opening track “Still swingin”, which does capture some of PAPA ROACH’s earlier Rap/Industrial-Metal influences, most of the material sounds very melodic and quite catchy actually. For instance “Where did the angels go” is a rather excellent modern DISTURBED/SHINEDOWN/ ALTER BRIDGE/CREED American style sounding uptempo piece with a very strong catchy melodic chorus (sounding dangerously close to HAREM SCAREM in their later years!!!). Other highlights are the fantastic “Before I die” (another strong melodic chorus, midtempo piece a la SHINEDOWN/ ALTER BRIDGE/STONE SOUR/THREE DAYS GRACE/LIT), “Breathe you in” (great uptempo piece), “Leader of the broken hearts” (very close to the late HAREM SCAREM sound, even featuring a big anthemic chorus with a slight 80s touch here by the way!) and “Not that beautiful” (Another very strong chorus and once again like HAREM SCAREM). Modern, melodic and very American sounding, just like the band’s previous records and therefore a big recommendation to anyone who likes the mentioned bands. The big massive sound really helps here (with a thank you to producer JAMES MICHAEL of SIXX AM/HALESTORM fame), because everything seems to go in the picture-perfect-American Rocksound of today direction and like already mentioned, this might not appeal to everyone, it does sound very attractive in the end and that is what counts…

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)


Out of Sweden comes the female fronted Melodic Rockband NUBIAN ROSE and upon playing the first song (“Ever see your face”) of their debut album ‘Mountain’, it is clear that we are dealing here with a sensational new band which could easily compete with the other female fronted bands in the Melodic Rockgenre. Their sound fits nicely between ALYSON AVENUE, COASTLINE and DANTE FOX, with of course as most important factor the superb vocals of lead singer SOFIA LILJA. She has a really terrific voice that is needed to make NUBIAN ROSE an interesting band. The first album of the band was mixed by Swedish producer TOBIAS LINDELL (EUROPE, H.E.A.T., HARDCORE SUPERSTAR), so the sound is crystal clear and so are most of the 10 included songs. Especially that first tune “Ever see your face” is a sensational uptempo Melodic Rocker with a really amazing chorus which leans close towards bands like ALYSON AVENUE, DANTE FOX, WITNESS and VIXEN. Other remarkable songs are “Living for tomorrow” (featuring KEE MARCELLO), the ballad “How am I” and the Melodic Rocker “Your love”. Definitely something to check out at:  and 

(Points: 8.4 out of 10)


English born JOHN PARR has been making music for decades and despite his main success was during the 1980s and then especially in the USA, the AOR fans will never forget his early work that featured some pure AOR Classics. One of my personal favorite tracks is the excellent “Love grammar” from his first solo-album, but also the 2 amazing songs he wrote with MARILYN MARTIN (“Night moves” and “Beauty or the beast”) all contain the ingredients of Classic AOR tunes, which are still in heavy rotation among AOR fans worldwide! Of course John is best known as the man behind the big hits “St. Elmo’s fire” and “Naughty naughty” and also his work with MEATLOAF, ROGER DALTREY and ROMEO’S DUGHTER. Meanwhile he always continued doing solo records and performances and in the past few years he sorta paid tribute to the country where he had so much success (USA) and on this new album ‘The mission’ he even goes as far as doing a full free American Military Tour and donating the proceeds of the new record to US Military organizations USO and USA Cares. The music has gone slightly less AOR than his past efforts, as he is now a true Singer/Songwriter with elements of poprock, folk, country, americana and heartland-rock melted together and slipped right through here and there is some of the AOR sound of John’s past. His voice has not changed a bit, as he still sounds very impressive and that makes ‘The mission’ an easy mission to listen to. In total 14 tracks are included and if we go right through the tracklisting, we have in order of play the following songs; “Big Bad Silverado” (groovy midtempo rocker), “Enlisted Man” (some BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN powerful working class heartland rock), “The Boy I Left Behind” (acoustic piece), “Come Out Fighting” (1980s anthem uptempo AOR/Poprocker a la JOHN CAFFERTY), “Soldiers Wife (orchestral ballad), “Boots On The Ground” (KENNY LOGGINS might have done this), “Military Man” (VAN ZANTish southern rocker), “A Few Good Men” (big anthemic aor, bombastic sound), “Fightin’ Girl” (heartland rock again), “”At The Cathedral” (short acoustic piece), “Fly Boys Fly” (big uptempo AOR rock, great tune), “My Practice” (acoustic Americana folkish piece), “Bound By The Thread Of The Flag” (short acoustic piece) and closing track “Comin’ Home” (aorish anthem ballad). Great to see JOHN PARR back upfront… now how about a tour through Europe? More at: 

(Points: 8.4 out of 10)


Now here we have one of the most exciting female singers of the past few years. The Scottish singer/songwriter SANDI THOM scored a massive worldwide hit in 2006 with her song “I Wish I Was a Punk Rocker (With Flowers in My Hair)”, which in the UK became one of the best selling singles that year and her debut album ‘Smile... It Confuses People’ reached the number 1 position in the UK album charts. Sadly the following records didn’t achieve the same result, despite the fact that Sandi is a very talented musician/vocalist who recorded nothing but quality material. Especially the new album ‘Flesh and blood’ is a fantastic release that should easily appeal to every music fan out there. If you for example like that other Scottish female singer/songwriter (AMY MCDONALD), then you will definitely also like SANDI THOM, although I have to say that Sandi’s music is much more diverse and also reveal influences from Bluesrock, AOR, Westcoast and Soulpop besides the typical melodic singer/songwriter acoustic tingled folk/pop/rock. Sandi has got such an amazingly beautiful voice that it actually doesn’t matter what she sungs, because even if she would sing the Yellow Pages from the first to the last page it would still sound sensational! Anyway, the new album was produced by RICH ROBINSON of THE BLACK CROWES and the album opener “Help me” clearly reveals the Bluesy Rock influences of that band, although one could also compare this song to ALANNAH MYLES, SASS JORDAN or BETH HART. Up next is “I owe you zero”, which is a beautiful semi-ballad that combines AOR and Singer-Songwriter influences up to an incredible high level. The Gospel influences shine through in the titletrack, while “Sun comes crashing down” is one of my personal favorite cuts on the record, as this is a lovely laid-back piece with superb melodies all over the place. “In the pines” takes on a Soul challenge, with Sandi stretching her lungs to an incredible vocal range. The lovely Country/Folk song “Big ones get away” also features the legendary Native North-American/Canadian BUFFY SAINTE MARIE, which on the other hand is not that strange, because it is her original song actually that was a major hitsingle in the UK 20 years ago. Then we move on to some more Soul stuff with the STEVIE WONDER “Superstition” orientated “Stormy weather” and some pure Blues in the ballad “I see the devil in you”, while Soul and Blues are combined vocally during the acoustic piece “Rise as one”. “I love you like a lunatic” is lyrically interesting, while musically it is actually a very polished almost American radio sounding laid-back Country-Ballad. Then things get rockier again with the bluesy melodic rocker “Save some mercy for me” and the CD closes nicely with the calmer ballad “Lay your burden down”. Quite a diverse record, which once again show Sandi’s incredible vocal talent and without a doubt, she deserves a lot more attention in the music business. More at:

(Points: 8.8 out of 10)


During the 1990s the Portuguese singer/songwriter DAVID FONSECA was part of the band SILENCE 4, which was a very famous band in his homeland Portugal, because they sold close to half a million records by now and had several major hits. They only existed for a short period, because since 2001 David started a solo career, which resulted in 6 albums so far, all released on the major label UNIVERSAL MUSIC in Portugal. Anyway, 2012 is bringing 2 new solo-albums of David and although I have personally never heard anything of David, I have to say that this is really excellent stuff. The music is a mix of Singer/Songwriter Pop/Rock, melancholic Indie/Dreampop and 1980s New Waveish Poprock/Powerpop, so not just an acoustic guitar is used here to accompany David’s voice, but a full band sound can be heard, with even keys and synths in several songs, making it a very attractive album to listen to. David is a very good singer by the way and he is also one of the very first Portuguese singers who can actually sing accent-free in English. This all combined is making it a pleasure to listen to the 2 new full-length records of David, who deliver us in total 22 new tracks. Highlights are the uptempo 80s Synth driven Poprocker “What life is for” (DEPECHE MODE meets ULTRAVOX), the melancholic semi-ballad “Everytime we kiss” (CHRIS ISAAK meets COCK ROBIN meets DEACON BLUE somehow, with a sorta JIM GROCE way of singing!), “It feels like something” (feels like a summer hit!) and the catchy uptempo Indiepoprocker “Under the willow” (a la THE KILLERS), but any song will do here. Fans of the typical Singer/Songwriter style of let’s say RYAN ADAMS/RUFUS WAINWRIGHT/ANDREW BIRD kind will probably prefer the ‘Falling’ album of David, which is a bit calmer and more melancholic singer/songwriter orientated than the ‘Rising’ record, but both CDs are featuring high quality music that could be massive. Check it out for yourself at:

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)


‘The danger of light’ is already the 5th album of Swiss singer/songwriter SOPHIE HUNGER. Although I am unfamiliar with her previous releases, I have to say that this new album of her is a very impressive record that contains typical laid-back singer/songwriter indie pop/rock, yet with also influences from for example Jazz, Bluegrass and a little Folk. However, the main direction is very laid-back sounding Indie-Pop like at the moment countless other female singer/songwriters are doing, so it will be very hard for Sophie to have a major breakthrough, unless JOOLS HOLLAND discovers her beautiful music. Nevertheless, she does it really well, with a very nice jazzy tone in her voice and this kind of music is just perfect for the dark cold evenings that will arrive very soon here in Northern Europe. Check out Sophie at:

(Points: 8.1 out of 10)


‘The art of loving’ is the 2nd album of the Dutch band ELOAH. Musically speaking they play an interesting mixture of Artrock, New Wave, Melancholic Dark sounding Ambient/Melancholic Pop and a lot of Progressive Rock. The closest comparison would be of course PINK FLOYD and although that high level is not reached here, the open-minded progfans who are into PORCUPINE TREE/PINK FLOYD and would like to hear an even more experimental direction of that progstyle will possibly like this a lot too. In fact the band ELOAH reminds me somewhat of a legendary German Art/Theatrical band called S, so if you’re familiar with that band you will appreciate this as well. More at:

(Points: 7.4 out of 10)  


The French band BB BRUNES were formed back in the early 2000s and have so far released 3 albums, of which ‘Long courier’ is the latest album. They have been signed to WARNER MUSIC in France right from the start, so I guess you can say they are a major label band in their home country and thanks to a massive budget, this new album sounds very impressive. The music is very British New Wave/Poprock orientated, with a clear 1980s approach, yet the lyrics are in French. Although Rock and French lyrics are quite a rare combination and has only worked well a few times in the past (BEAU GESTE, MANIGANCE…), this BB BRUNES is doing it very well and their melodic pop/rock/wave material sounds quite sensational actually. Fans of THE KILLERS, WHITE LIES, BLOC PARTY, ECHO AND THE BUNNYMEN, THE EDITORS etc. who don’t mind French lyrics will definitely instantly fall in love with this band, because their songs are extremely catchy and quite memorable. I am not surprised that this band will probably score major success in France with this new album and actually they deserve to be heard outside France as well. Highlights include the first 3 songs (“Grande Rio”, “Coups et blessures”, “Bye bye”, “RIP” and the pure 80s anthem “Aficionado”. Check them out for yourself at:

(Points: 8.4 out of 10)  


Nowadays it is so hard to tell which band will have a major breakthrough, because your album may sound as sensational as the 3rd album of the American band THE WINTER SOUNDS, it is all a question of ‘luck’ to make it in the music business. There is a guy in England who is able to give your band the chance to become huge. His name is JOOLS HOLLAND and actually he should be seen as the most influential person in music today, along with major magazines like Q, MOJO, UNCUT and ROLLING STONE. Anyway, back to the new album of THE WINTER SOUNDS, I can easily inform you that this album ‘Runner’ sounds very impressive and actually is way better than the much-praised new albums of TWO DOOR CINEMA CLUB, WHITE LIES, THE EDITORS… In fact, a song like the incredible catchy uptempo keyboard-driven “Bird on fire” (and also “Shoulders above”, “The sun also rises” and “Young love” or any of the other mostly uptempo pieces included on the CD) should be a massive radiohit worldwide, because you can’t get any better than that when it comes down to 1980s influenced British sounding Retro-New Wave. This is like a refreshed modern version of classic bands like ECHO AND THE BUNNYMEN, THE CURE, NEW ORDER, JOY DIVISION, ULTRAVOX, 80s U2… yet with the same attitude as bands like WHITE LIES, THE EDITORS, THE KILLERS, THE WOMBATS, KINGS OF LEON… The band worked with producer Scott Solter (ST. VINCENT) on ‘Runner’ via the Internet project KICKSTARTER and the result is quite stunning, as not only the songs are all very strong and memorable, the overall sound/production is also massive, so if this album does not give them the major success they truly deserve, then I am afraid it will really be impossible for them to ever breakthrough… More at:

(Points: 8.7 out of 10)


It’s all about the lead vocals, the production, the musicianship and of course the included songs on an album to make a lasting impact and in the case of ELEKTRADRIVE they have always delivered in the past. Their somewhat rare 3rd album ‘Big city’ was released 20 years ago and thankfully this wonderful album has now been re-released on CD. ELEKTRADRIVE was the very first real AOR band in Italy and their material may be seen as the blueprint for AOR music from Italy, as not many other bands have ever reached that high level. This ‘Big city’ album saw them adding some groovy/funky pop/rock influences to their AOR/Melodic Rock sound, because not only do you have such awesome 1980s type of AOR tunes like the uptempo “Rocking on the bad side”, “The riot of the young guns” and “Escape from the rock” and the ballads “Still remember” and “Lucille” (even a bit like HOUSE OF LORDS), which are all reminding of the classic 1980s FM/SHY/STRANGEWAYS days, but on the other hand there are also slightly weaker groovier tracks like “Big city”, “She will be hanging over”, “Fast as an arrow” and “Latin lover” (all sounding like ROXUS‘ “Bad boys” meets EXTREME meets LIVING COLOUR). Nevertheless, this album showed that ELEKTRADRIVE could have become massive, because they had a fantastic vocalist (ELIO MAUGERI), some great musicians and a bunch of sensational high quality AOR tracks, all recorded in the middle of the dark Grunge period! The new re-release also contains a few unreleased tracks as bonus, so make sure to grab this re-release. Gladly ELEKTRADRIVE are still alive and even released a new album (see review at: ), so give them another try at:

(Points: 8.7 out of 10)


The German multi-instrumentalist/singer/songwriter JULIAN ANGEL returns with his BEAUTIFUL BEAST project, the pure 1980s Glamrock tribute to POISON, MOTLEY CRUE and RATT, with however lead vocals that sound straight out of the Teutonic Metal Book of ACCEPT, RESTLESS and VETO, but on the other hand a song like “Cry cry cry” also sounds dangerously close to ALICE COOPER circa ‘Thrash’. Anyway, mix up all these bands and you have JULIAN ANGEL, so a pure 80s Rockfest is hearable on this CD and actually it doesn’t sound bad at all, although you have to get used to Julian’s way of singing, which is very raw. He’s the German brother of JOHNNY LIMA, so if that is up your alley, then you’re definitely gonna love this album. Check it out for yourself at:

(Points: 7.8 out of 10)  


Now here’s a very interesting band from Finland, with an independent release that is distributed through the UK based RAVENHEART MUSIC. They are called THE ELECTRIC LADY and from 1998 until 2007 they were actually called ACOUSTIC LADY, but as of 2007 they are a full rockband, so the name changed to THE ELECTRIC LADY and now their debut ‘Black moon’ is released. Well, the album has already been out for a while, but they are now getting the attention needed to become more known in the music business. I am so glad to hear and review their album, because it sounds very sensational. Everything seems to be in shape here, the superb vocals of the female lead singer MINNA ORA, the supertight sound/production of the wonderful 10 included AOR/Melodic Rocksongs that do reflect clear similarities to the classic 1980s bands HEART, WITNESS, LAOS, HEAT, SARAYA, VIXEN, etc. etc. Yes, this is definitely a true winner for any fan of 80s orientated female fronted AOR/Melodic Rock with a focus on beautiful memorable melodies and incredible vocalwork, but also the guitarwork is really perfect. There are many highlights to be found on this disc, especially during the beginning with “A man of that kind” (lovely melodic rock), “Secret love” (classic superb uptempo AOR rocker 80s even a bit like MARTEE LEBOW/FIONA), the semi-melodic rocker “Let it rain” (a little ROBIN BECKish) and the amazing AOR ballad “Your heart is 100 times bigger than mine”. Without a doubt, a band to check out asap! More info at: and

(Points: 8.8 out of 10)  


Apparently the Swedish band LOOSEGOATS already had a full carreer during the 1990s, when they released 5 records, but around 2001 they disbanded and it is actually thanks to their recent reunion I learned about this band. They now have released a comeback record in the shape of ‘Ideas for to Travel Down Death's Merry Road’ and I must say it is a really pleasant melodic sounding album that captures some of the 80s/90s Indie Pop/College Rock and also a touch of 90s TEENAGE FANCLUB/THE POSIESish Powerpop. The songs are very melodic, sometimes dark and melancholic (“For the love of” and “Sometimes I’m country high”), but mostly uplifting happy almost melodic pop/rock ish (“Wheels”, “Drift from the tracks”, “A love” and “Drinking by the river”). The absolute highlights are however the catchy Folkish “Montananas” (a bit like MUMFURD AND SONS/FLEET FOXES) and the midtempo 1980s Guitar Pop anthems “Port Townsend” and “Hollywood and Mid July” which both almost feel like you’re listening to a typical 80s Britpopband trying to write a hitsong (THE SMITHS). What impresses me so much is the fact that LOOSEGOATS are making it look and sound so easy and are at times creating songs that even beat their British and American counterparts. This is definitely a record that a lot of people will absolutely like a lot, as it is quite diverse, melodic and even a little original, but by all means, this is a high quality record that should not be missed by anyone who calls him/herself a music fan! Check them out at: and

(Points: 8.6 out of 10)  


POLLENS is a band from Seattle with a rather experimental sound that combines influences of various genres. The band started as a duo, consisting of a female and a male singer (Hanna Benn and Jeff Aaron Bryant), but eventually became a full band. Hanna and Jeff founded the band back in 2008 at Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle and now 4 years later the debut CD ‘Brighten and break’ is released. As already mentioned, it is quite an adventure that goes from atmospheric Folk and experimental Progrock to something that might be filed under World Music. It is of course quite interesting to see a band stretch their musical paths to roads that have not been used by other musicians, but it might for some be a little too experimental. Imagine if TORI AMOS would make a record with FLEET FOXES as backing band and write songs in a sorta World Music style (hear the African Drumsound in “Sun spots” for example), then you might end up with this POLLENS. Interesting, but only for the open-minded musicfans out there! More at:

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)  


The debut album of the American singer-songwriter ERICA BUETTNER has been out for a while now, but only recently ‘True love and water’ is being distributed in certain parts of Europe. Erica is currently living in Portugal, where this kind of music will definitely feels like home, because from start to finish this is typical Folksy acoustic guitar based Singer-Songwriter music that combines the LEONARD COHEN guitarsound with JONI MITCHELL type of beautiful high-pitched vocals. Singer-Songwriter fans will instantly fall in love with this record, which you can hear in full at:

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)  


And we’re back in the UK for the latest Retro New Wave sensation… but wait a minute… TEAM MARIA is coming out of Portugal and their debut ‘Do it everywhere’ sounds as good as anything the British or American bands are throwing at us. Massive synths and an uptempo light rocking electro beat are combined with catchy melodies and the sound of TEAM MARIA fits somewhere between the old school of ULTRAVOX, NEW ORDER and HUMAN LEAGUE and the new generation of THE EDITORS, BLOC PARTY and WHITE LIES. Vocally and musically TEAM MARIA are sounding very British, reminding of so many bands in the New Wave/Electro Poprock genre of especially the 1980s, which is currently of course a very trendy genre, so they should easily fit in there with similar sounding bands. A song like “Priorities changing” or the rocking “Pretty girls are pretty high” or actually any other of the uptempo pieces here should go down well with the youth generation of the modern times. Check it out for yourself at:

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)  


PILOT TO GUNNER is a New York based band formed in 1998. They released 2 albums in the early 2000s, but it took them 8 years to release a follow-up to their 2nd album ‘Get saved’ from 2004. Now ‘Guilty guilty’ has been released and shows the band at full speed Punk-Postrock mode. They are sounding not very far from bands like THE VACCINES or GO BACK TO THE ZOO, so quite raw and vocally not really interesting. However, I think if you’re a fan of such typical standard Rock, you might want to check out this album, but don’t expect anything sensational. More at:

(Points: 6.8 out of 10)  


‘Telltale’ is the debut album of the Alt-Folk singer-songwriter duo MAX and LAURA BRAUN, whom are siblings and were born in Germany. They started making music together in their early teenage years, but during the late 1990s creating new music was out of the question, because Laura moved to London, while Max stayed in Germany. However a few years ago they started to work again closely with each other and with a full band backing them up and the result can now be heard on the very first MAX and LAURA BRAUN album titled ‘Telltale’. Laura sings and Max accompanies her on guitar or piano, with several other musicians joining in on bass, drums and several other instruments. The music is calm and mixes Folk, a bit of Country, some Jazz and Melancholic Singer/Songwriter into an exciting original sound that is called the MAX and LAURA BRAUN style. It sometimes remind me a lot of the local KIM HOORWEG, especially vocally, although Max and Laura keep it more folky musically speaking, but I think you’ll get the picture here. Hear for yourself at:

(Points: 7.9 out of 10)  


Classic 1960s Psychedelic Garage Rock in a modern jacket is the name of the game here on the debut album ‘Welcome To The Department Of Nuclear Medicine’ of the Irish band HOUSE OF DOLLS. Imagine if VELVET UNDERGROUND, THE VERVE, BAUHAUS, JESUS AND THE MARY CHAIN and LORDS OF THE NEW CHURCH would be melted together to 1 band, then it might sound like HOUSE OF DOLLS. Dirty, raw and mean, yet still with clear melodies between all the distorted guitar noise rocksounds, this band is definitely what you would call a True Rock and Rollband with no compromise. It does sound 1960s Psychedelic Rock at one moment, Sleazy at other times, while there are also plenty of memories of a 1980s Goth-Postrocksound and HOUSE OF DOLLS finds somewhere a perfect combination of these  worlds, although I would especially recommend this band to any fan of THE LORDS OF THE NEW CHURCH, who sounded more or less equal to this new Irish band. Hear for yourself at:

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)  


Out of L.A. comes POPULAR GIANTS, a band formed by guitarist/singer songwriter CHRISTOPHER PEACOCK in 2011 and only a year later the debut CD is released. The sound is quite impressive and musically we go into a Punk-Rock and Roll style a la early FOO FIGHTERS meets HELLACOPTERS meets THE RAMONES, so a little closer to Garage-Rock/Punkrock actually, however done in a very professional way. 13 tracks are included and most of the songs follow the classic Punk/Garage Rock path, which is uptempo and sounding raw to the bone in the vocal department, but always featuring a catchy beat and singable chorus. Fans of mentioned bands might want to check out this upcoming new act from LA. at:

(Points: 7.8 out of 10)  


I had to do some searching on google and Wikipedia to find out what this JEERK was all about, because apparently they are a Swedish rhythm performance group settled in the USA. However, aside from all their TV and Threatre performances and their Eurovision/Broadway kinda look, we concentrate on the CD ‘Famous’ they released, because this album is filled with high quality bombastic Melodic Hardrock. 9 songs are included and without a doubt, the performance is rather excellent and catchy songs like “You wait to live another day”, “Beautiful Tonight” (excellent classic Scandi AOR/Melodic Rock), “Wasn’t my goodbye” and “You learn” sound like a perfect mixture between H.E.A.T., SHA-BOOM, QUEEN, GOTTHARD and TENACIOUS D. Don’t let all the fuss image fool you, because this JEERK is a high quality Melodic Rockband, which you can check out:

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)  


A few years ago we reviewed a CD of this Detroit based female singer/songwriter called ROBYN (MARRIOTT). She now releases a new CD in the shape of ‘Desire’. The album starts with a great uptempo Melodic Rocker (“Heartache”) that smells like the classic 80s (VIXEN/LITA FORD). The following tracks go in a slightly poppier direction, but still very 80s AOR/Poprock orientated (a la PAT BENATAR and ROBIN BECK), with some calmer ballad orientated material (“I found love” and “Lose myself”) and more upbeat stuff (“Desire”, the lovely AORish “Gotta get away” and the superb pure AOR tune “I see heaven in my eyes”). Robyn has got a great voice and musically speaking she will definitely appeal to anyone into 80s influenced lighter female fronted AOR/Poprock in the style of ROBIN BECK, MARGARETH BECKER, SHARI ULRICH, PAT BENATAR, DONNA CRISTY, VENUS AND MARS, CONNIE SCOTT, CINDY CRUSE,  etc. etc. but also if you like for example ILSE DE LANGE or even TAYLOR SWIFT you must make sure not to miss this great singer/songwriter at: and as Robyn has got that kind of female voice I miss so much in today’s music, sounding crystal clear and super melodic, with a pure 80s AOR/Poprock sound throughout the 8 included songs on her new album. I still feel with a major label/studio back-up financially speaking and a little more rock here and there, she could record a Classic AOR album that could compete with the recent CHASING VIOLETS release for example. Anyway, ROBYN is showing she is one of those great female AOR singer/songwriters who should be heard by any fan of real music!

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)  


The Finnish Melodic Metalband STURM UND DRANG return with their 3rd album ‘Graduation day’. It took them 4 years to complete this new album, but it really shows that this long period has done them well, because it is by far their finest record so far. The teenagers of the early years when they released 2 records within a very short period (2007-2008), they have gown up and are now releasing a very mature sounding album that combines elements of European Melodic Metal and 80s American AOR/Melodic Rock. Of course we have heard it all before, but STURM UND DRANG are doing it quite fantastic and this album might be seen as one of the highlights of 2012! The band headed to the USA for this new album and over there they even got advice from the legendary RON NEVISON (SURVIVOR, HEART, UFO…). The album sounds quite terrific, both musically speaking and the production by JIMMY WESTERLUND (ROXETTE, NEGATIVE…). The sound is really massive, with a perfect balance between the keyboards, guitars and vocal melodies. All together the band sounds like a cross between TALISMAN in their early years, PRETTY MAIDS circa the 1980s, SCORPIONS and even some H.E.A.T. Especially during superb catchy hookladen uptempo Melodic Rockers like “Your love is for sale”, “Dark little angel of mine”, “Lucky” and the PRETTY MAIDS meets HAMMERFALLish “Hammer to fall” the band comes up with their finest songs in their short history. “Molly the murderer” is another very catchy tune, with a sort of midtempo approach and reminding of EDGUY with a better lead singer. The only slight let-down is the party-rock anthem “Party like a rockstar” that doesn’t seem to make a real impression. Nevertheless, fans of 80s Melodic (Heavy) Rock will absolutely love this perfect sounding new album of STURM UND DRANG. If this doesn’t give them a breakthrough, then I have no idea how they will ever top this record! More at: and

(Points: 8.8 out of 10)  


It’s quite amazing to see what instruments San Francisco based singer/songwriter JEFF GUTMAN has played during the recording of his 5th album ‘Through the night’. To sum it up here, let’s mention drums, piano, bass, multiple acoustic and electric guitars, bouzouki, ukulele, banjo, xylophone, bodhran and percussion. He also recorded, mixed and produced the album himself and likewise wrote and sang all included tracks, so we have here a real multi-instrumentalist, who has been releasing records for over 13 years now. ‘Through the night’ was released in 2010 and musically speaking it is typical 1970s inspired singer-songwriter pop, which sounds very laid-back and is actually melodic pop that here and there brings back memories of piano/acoustic guitar based pop 70s heroes like BILLY JOEL, a little AMBROSIA, JESSE COLIN YOUNG, HARRY NILLSON, AMERICA, a lot of BIG STAR and a less polished AIR SUPPLY. Done remarkably well and fans of this kind of music will instantly fall in love with this beautiful record of Jeff. More at:

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)  


Nothing original here, but done quite well, the debut album of the Dannish band ST. PROSTITUTE. The sound/production of their album is very good and the included music is a trip down memory lane, pure late 80s/early 90s Sunset Strip Glam/Sleazy Hardrock that reminds a lot of bands like FASTER PUSSYCAT, SHOTGUN MESSIAH, JUNKYARD, NASTY IDOLS and such. If it would be 1989 right now, then the US Major labels might have signed this band instantly! However it is 2012 and despite this genre is nowadays quite popular actually, the competition is tough. The best song by the way is definitely the catchy uptempo Melodic Hardrock tune “I’m not falling” that features a great guest female lead singer LINE KROGHOLM (who is she, because with a voice like that, she should be able to do a great rock record on her own!) and reminds a bit of WIG WAM and CRASH DIET. Also the following track “Dreaming of you” has a catchy melodic chorus that sounds dangerously close to DEF LEPPARD and DE MONT. Although it all might sound a little cliché tingled and this record will not become a classic, the band definitely has something good to offer. Check out this band at:

(Points: 8.1 out of 10)  


‘Mannequins’ is the debut album of the Singapore based band MONSTER CAT. They recorded the album in the USA and released it on the German label GORDEON MUSIC. The music of the band is quite original, although it still has a catchy melodic approach, but elements of Japanese Folkrock and Ambient/Indie music are slipped through the Melodic Semi-acoustic guitar driven Pop/Rock of the band. It’s not a full-length album, because there are only 5 songs on the EP. However, especially the titletrack shows that this is a band with a bright future, because they seem to be able to combine original elements from various music genres with typical Western melodies, so the music of MONSTER CAT is attractive for a wide audience. A song like “Underwater” reveals their love for the current trendy New Wave of Indiepop a la FLEET FOXES, done very well and therefore this MONSTER CAT is a band to watch out for in the future, especially when they will release a full-length record. The absolute highlight of the EP is the female/male vocal driven melancholic rocker “The courier” that combines the best of Indiepop, Folkrock and Melodic Pop/Rock to a climax and live this should go down verry well. Closing track “These hands” also reminds me a bit of DEACON BLUE somehow. Hear for yourself at:

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)  


CHRIS stands for Christiaan Bruyn, a multi-instrumentalist who is a member of Dutch Progressive Rockband SKY ARCHITECT, with whom he already released 2 CDs. However, he also has a solo career, which so far brought us 2 albums as well and now Chris releases his 3rd album 'City of light'. Although generally speaking it is a Progressive Rockrecord, there are quite a lot of influences from especially Drum'n'Bass and some freaky almost RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS like structures, the album might appeal to more people than just the prog community. 6 long songs are included and for example opener "Colours Come To Life" is quite a freaky groovy thang, while on the other hand "Blessings and Goodbyes" offers a more streamlined Classic Neo-Progsound. This is not the typical progrecord, as therefore too much freakiness is going on here and there, so it might only appeal to the open-minded progfans. Personally I would also prefer the wonderful SKY ARCHITECT albums, but nevertheless Christiaan shows he is a very talented musician. Check it out for yourself at:   

(Points: 7.4 out of 10) 


Women in Rock music actually started during the late 1970s, when bands like FANNY, THE RUNAWAYS and such showed that women could also play instruments and create their own music, although mentioned bands were still helped by male musicians and producers. Nevertheless, it paved the way for a whole new female rock generation that especially emerged during the Punk years. Unlike other books about the involvement of women in rock music, author Helen Reddington has done a real in-depth academic study on the subject. 'The Lost Women of Rock Music: Female Musicians of the Punk Era (2nd edition)' is the full name of the book, which is mainly focused on the Brighton/UK scene of the early 1980s, which shines it's light on bands like THE SLITS, THE CATHOLIC GIRLS, AU PARIS, RAINCOATS, etc. etc. As with the Punk movement the social and political aspects were just as important and/or perhaps more important than the music itself. This book looks like a bible and reads like a college book, so it is not an easy-read, as it should be seen as a study book suitable for a University student. Nevertheless, the different chapters in the book reflect some interesting views and aspects that occured during the so-called early 80s UK Female Punkrockscene. However, what is most notable about the book is that it more seems like an endless string of quotes and statements done by musicians, experts and other people instead of the author giving her view on several aspects. Towards the end and during the conclusion she does give her own opinion, but the enormous amount of quotes that is printed in this book is a bit too much at one point and is making it hard to concentrate reading. Nevertheless, it still reveals some hidden comments and quotes that now see the light of day for the first time, which makes it still interesting for anyone who is interested in musicology and it's side effects.

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)


If you're a fan of CHUCK BERRY, then you will probably love the extensive research which has been done by the Norwegian CHUCK BERRY collector and authority, Morten Reff, who compiled 4 full books of information containing everything related to the legendary musician. I was actually surprised to find a full encyclopedia like book on CHUCK BERRY in the post, let alone this is already the 3rd volume in the series! So apparently there have been 2 volumes before this new volume and a 4th one will follow shortly, with volume 1 featuring the full world discography of Chuck's recordings, volume 2 focusing on listings of bootlegs, radio albums, movies, TV shows and other related rare side notes, releases and performances apart from his discography and this volume 3 containing a massive listing of over 4,500 cover versions, including many rarities. Somehow volume 3 wasn't enough to capture everything, so there will be another volume about the cover versions which have been done throughout the past 60 years. Anyway, this volume 3 is an encyclopedia styled book with a nice A-Z listing of acts who covered a CHUCK BERRY TUNE. It is spread on almost 500 pages, so there is much to  discover here. Call it fanatic or call it insane, but nevertheless one has to agree that this is a very ambitious project from a Norwegian fan, who is completing his own life's work in 4 books and who knows, a volume 5 might also see the light of day someday. Interesting for the CHUCK BERRY fans and more importantly, this volume 3 shows the huge influence this musician has had over the year on countless other musicians.

(Points: 8.1 out of 10) 


Formed such a long time ago and still active after all these years, but sadly never making it as big as some of the other acts in the Neo-Progressive Rockgenre, Southampton/UK based JADIS has always focused on releasing high quality albums and giving perfect performances live on stage. Leader of JADIS has always been guitarist/vocalist GARY CHANDLER, who formed the band back in 1986. His voice is so recognizable that once you hear it, you know it is JADIS you’re listening to and the same goes for the sound of JADIS, which really has an own identity, despite a lot of changes in the further line-up through the 25 years JADIS has been active. Every few years a new album is released and we can enjoy their high quality music again, but this time it took a little longer, because their previous album ‘Photoplay’ was released in 2006. Now 6 years later a new JADIS album is finished in the shape of ‘See right through you’, which has been released independently. As usual, a JADIS album needs be played quite a few times before getting the picture. It is a growing process, learning to love the JADIS sound. Looking back, their legendary albums from the 1990s featured some absolute Classic songs in the Neo-Proggenre and if you never heard anything of them before, then I would highly recommend to check out their live albums and DVD ‘View from above’, because that is JADIS at their very best. This new studio-album however is a really great comeback of the band, with such great material like “Why can't I be me”, “What if I could be there”, “All is not equal” and “More than ever” or any of the 8 included tracks on the 8th CD. Welcome back once again JADIS! More at:   

(Points: 8.4 out of 10)  


When it comes to tribute albums I usually have to pass it on, as this is most of the time a waste of time, but in the case of the tribute album to CROSBY, STILLS, NASH and YOUNG, I definitely need to make an exception, because this is done exceptionally well and of a very high level. Especially the fact that so many musicians contributed to the 2-CD set, which by the way comes in a nicely designed lay-out, this makes the album very attractive. The proceeds go to a charity called Equestrian Therapy Co-op, in Brandeis, California. 27 artists from the Singer/Songwriter Poprock world picked 27 songs out of the massive back catalogue of CSNY and gave it their interpretation. The result is very impressive and I have to admit that it’s one of the first tribute albums where I don’t push the “forward” or “next” button, because every single song of the 27 included is a pleasure to listen to. Personally I really like the female performers (such as JENAI HUFF, CINDY LEE BERRYHILL, KARLA BONOFF, EILEEN ROSE, JENNIFER STILLS, CARRIE RODRIQUEZ, JUDY COLLINS…), who gave each featured classic tune of CSNY an own twist due to their vocals of the original male vocal featured songs. However, other very interesting artists/acts are NICK BARKER, THE COAL PORTERS, SUGARCANE JANE, WILLIE NILE and Westcoast legends VENICE, whom all deliver picture-perfect performances of legendary CNSY songs.  

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)  


The Australian band TAIPAN is quite an interesting band, because they had a career between 1979 and 1987, split up and returned in the mid 2000s with 2 new releases and now another new record is released. The album is titled 'Snakes' and it starts with a rather excellent classic NWOBHM type of tune called "Tired of you". Vocally it is a bit in a JAMES HETFIELD kinda style and also musically it seems like the band has been influenced by METALLICA, but then more like the very early sound of them. In fact, they sound like METALLICA if they would adapt a classic NWOBHM style. This must have been the style TAIPAN played during their early career in the 1980s, because this new album also reveals influences from more modern Rock and Metal directions. Actually, apart from 1 more NWOBHM style song ("Stonewitch"), which by the way is a very nice ANGEL WITCHish kinda epic song, the rest of the album is going into a complete different direction. For example the aggressive Thrash Metal orientated "Stand On Ruins" or the Doomy ALICE IN CHAINSish Insomnia and a song like "King of Thieves", which is raw Rock n Roll/Metal in a GRAVE DIGGER jacket. Although it's a pity the album doesn't continue the NWOBHM style of the first track, it's nevertheless quite a nice diverse record that might appeal to a lot of Rock/Metalfans. More at:  and   

(Points: 8.0 out of 10) 


With a bandname like METALHEAD you probably can't get any more cliché tingled in the world of Metal. Also the music is very cliché and traditional orientated, but thankfully it is done quite well and so the fans of the Metalstyle they are playing will probably be very enthousiastic about this German band. Their same titled debut album on the German label KILLER METAL RECORDS is a pure 1980s sounding Teutonic Metal album that reminds one a lot of bands like VETO, TOX, STORMWITCH and such. The high pitched vocals of singer Stefan “The Animal” Sadzio are in the JUDAS PRIEST/KING DIAMOND style and instrumental/production wise it even sounds like a 1985 record put out by the legendary HOT BLOOD/SCRATCH/GEMA label. The drums sound flat, but happily the guitarsound is rather good and most of the songs will be loved by fans of aforementioned bands. Check it out for yourself at:   

(Points: 8.2 out of 10) 


Now this is quite interesting and very ambitious, because multi-instrumentalist/singer/songwriter DAVID J CARON releases his debut with a full-blown 2-CD set titled 'Thru Ever / Ending Black', which includes 28 tracks in total. David is an Irish/Italian musician settled in Ireland and he basically did everything on his own, with a little help from ROB MANCINI. Musically we are pleased with a semi-Hi-Tech Symphonic AOR-Rock sound that should be put somewhere between 1980s ASIA, SAGA, just a little ALAN PARSONS PROJECT, the very first GARY HUGHES album, PHIL VINCENT, the 1990s DAKOTA sound, FINAL FRONTIER and catchy 1980s US Cartoon Theme Music. Vocally David has got a good voice, although I feel there are some computer/multi-layered-vocal tricks shining through, which makes it sound a little fabricated, but overall he sounds like a cross between ROB MORATTI/FINAL FRONTIER, JERRY HLUDZIK 90s DAKOTA, PHIL VINCENT and late 80s/early 90s GARY HUGHES. The best comparison is really PHIL VINCENT, who is doing almost the same kinda music on his solo records. Especially if you're familiar with the 1990s records of him, which also included keyboards and uptempo AOR/Powerpoprock orientated tunes, then you will feel very comfortable with DAVID J CARON, but I have to say that David's music sounds a bit more professional. Although it is quite an adventure to get through all the tunes, it is a pleasant journey with a lot of enjoyable tunes. Most of the songs are uptempo, radio-friendly and very AORish and as already mentioned a combination of the first GARY HUGHES album, 1990s DAKOTA, 1990s PHIL VINCENT, WINTER'S REIGN and MARIAH'S TRENCH is definitely the case when listening to songs like "Beam the Ray", "In Me", "Escapin' Back", "Irreplaceable" and "Has to Be". Quite a surprise this album, especially since it's from Ireland, which of course is not exactly the place where a lot of AOR music is coming from. If you're familiar with the AOR formula of mentioned acts, with a slight Symphonic/Poprock touch, then this double CD is very much recommended to check out. I'm convinced that David should be able to release something even better in the future, because he's a very professional sounding multi-instrumentalist/singer/songwriter. More info at:  and and  

(Points: 8.4 out of 10)

(All reviews by Gabor Kleinbloesem except where noted)