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HOT NEW REVIEWS
 UPDATED ON OCTOBER 7 - 2013

PHIL VINCENT ‘FACE IT+SOLAR FLARE’ (INDEPENDENT/USA IMPORT)

American multi-instrumentalist PHIL VINCENT returns with a great new 2-CD set that contains 2 full-length albums, ‘Face it’ and ‘Solar flare’. Both reflect the man’s hunger for creating new original music that is influenced by the classic 1980s US Melodic Hardrocksound of especially DOKKEN and WHITE LION. Once again Phil did almost everything by himself, including the promotion of the albums, but that has been the case ever since he started 15+ years ago. We have always followed Phil’s career, reviewed each recording and I think I lost the count somewhere, because reviewing almost every year something new since 1997, eventually you are not able to keep up. Anyway, to celebrate his 15-year period in the music business, Phil decided to release this double disc. Musically the typical Phil Vincent sound, in total we can find 25 tunes, which are all going into that classic 80s sound. DOKKEN, SCORPIONS, WHITE LION and a touch of AOR keyboards is making these records a pleasant Sunday morning. Phil is still able to create new quality stuff and so everyone who is already familiar with his music will be enjoying this as well. More info at: www.philvincent.com 

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

DANGERS OF THE SEA ‘DANGERS OF THE SEA’ (DEVILDUCK RECORDS/DGR MUSIC)

Out of Copenhagen, Denmark comes the band DANGERS OF THE SEA, whom are making their debut with this same titled record, which was produced by Nikolaj NÝrlund. The band was formed by singer/songwriter ANDREAS BAY ESTRUP (vocals, acoustic guitars, Mandolin, Banjo, glockenspiel, Harmonica), who gathered musicians from acts like SAYBIA and EFTERKLANG around him. Their first album contains music that is sort of Alternative Folk orientated, inspired by the likes of REM, MIDLAKE and STONE ROSES, but actually reminding a bit of NEIL YOUNG and also early 70s Singer-Songwriter music, combining pop melodies with westcoast harmonyvocals and a slightly raw vocal approach. The result is a very laid-back sounding album that is mostly acoustic guitar driven and pretty much song based, with as highlights “Sheer desperation” (beautiful) and “Show some Mercy” (with a light summer breeze feeling). Balancing somewhere between Singer/Songwriter, Alternative Folk and a tiny touch of Westcoast, this Danish band offers a nice debut record. More info at: www.dangersofthesea.com 

(Points: 8.1 out of 10)

RIVER GIANT ‘RIVER GIANT‘ (DEVILDUCK RECORDS/DGR MUSIC)

The band RIVER GIANT is coming out of Seattle, was formed by lead singer KYLE JAKOBSON a few years ago and in 2012 they released this same titled debut album. The music is a mix of Alternative Rock in the traditional Seattle style and typical modern Neo-Folk. The band has already toured with SERA CAHOONE, THE HEAD AND THE HEART, THE MYRNABRIDS and several others, so RIVER GIANT is definitely working towards a bright future. Their first album is quite diverse actually, which makes them clearly an interesting band whom might peak sometime in the future. The band’s major influences come from CRAZY HORSE/NEIL YOUNG, VAN MORRISON, THE BAND and WILLIE NELSON, although I personally think RIVER GIANT rocks a little more when they rock and also have a touch of Blues here and there, while the band also leaves enough space open for a calmer laid-back Folk trip. I feel that even WHITE STRIPES, BAND OF HORSES and THE BLACK KEYS are comparisons one can draw a few times, but after a few spins, it seems that RIVER GIANT has developed an own style. If we have a quick scan of the tracklisting of the album, we can find as highlights “Out Here, Outside” and “Pink Flamingos” (both Neofolk a la FLEET FOXES/SHEARWATER), the slow Rhythm and Blues ish songs “I Permute This Marriage” and “Missing You” and the great heavy ‘doomy’ altrockers ”Western” and “Fast Heart”. The debut album of RIVER GIANT is an interesting diverse album that both rocks and has calmer moments, while each of the included songs sounds quite melodic and attractive enough to appeal to a lot of people out there. Check out RIVER GIANT at: www.rivergiant.com 

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)

THE DOPE ‘HINTERLANDIA’ (DEVILDUCK RECORDS/DGR MUSIC)

There are so many European bands out there trying to sound as close to the latest English sensation as possible and on record most of those bands even sound convincing, but live it is definitely a different game. Anyway, the German band THE DOPE is another one that could have easily been the latest hype from the UK. Their 2nd album ‘Hinterlandia’ was mastered by Doug van Sloun (BRIGHT EYES) in Omaha, Nebraska, USA and without a doubt, we have a clean typical British sounding album here. There’s somehow even a touch of Melodic Powerpop (WEEZER, JELLYFISH, SHOES…) to be heard, such as during the album’s finest tracks “Blizzard the Kid” (very catchy tune), “Mines of Falun”, “Sputnik Sweetheart”, “Strawberry Fields” and “Monstertrucks”. Especially due to those mentioned uptempo happy radiofriendly songs, THE DOPE could easily score a massive hitsingle if they are lucky enough that the media/radio picks up a tune of their new record. Not sure how it all will go down live on stage, but this record of THE DOPE is already a nice one to check out if you like typical British orientated Rock/Wave. More info at: www.thedope.de 

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)

BAD RADIATOR ‘HYPNOTIZE’ (CRAZY FEELGOOD MUSIC/SWEDEN IMPORT)

And we’re back in Sweden once again for a hot new AOR band called BAD RADIATOR. Actually they are not that new, because if we dig into the past we can trace back the origins of this band to the year 1988 when a band called GRACE released a rare single. Although the musicians of the band always continued making and recording music, it is now 25 years later and they have released their first official full-length album together under the name BAD RADIATOR. The band consists of guitarist Klas Bergvall, drummer Roger Hansson, bassist Janne Persson and singer/songwriter/keyboardplayer Mikael Lundgren. The difference with the original line-up of GRACE is that their vocalist Krister Linder has a career in the USA right now, so Mikael took over and actually he is a good singer (reminding me so much of the singer of s rare German AOR band called MASON!), so that doesn’t seem to be a problem at all. The material moves into the typical Scandi AOR sound, where similarities to acts like DAVINCI, FATE, WORK OF ART, LIONVILLE, GRAND ILLUSION, T’BELL, BLIND ALLEY, TALK OF THE TOWN and such are quite easy to make. 14 songs are included in total and most of them follow the classic traditional way of Swedish AOR, with a nice variety between midtempo and uptempo rockers, with the typical ballad here and there as well. Highlights are “Want you out of my life”, “Closer”, “I know what I want” and “When she smiles” and without any doubts, if you like any of the mentioned acts, then you need to grab yourself a copy of this album a.s.a.p.! More on this interesting Swedish AOR band at: http://www.facebook.com/BadRadiator 

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)

FREDRIKA STAHL ‘OFF TO DANCE’ (SONY MUSIC FRANCE IMPORT)

‘Off to dance’ is already the 4th album of Swedish/French singer/songwriter FREDERIKA STAHL, but so far she hasn’t had a major breakthrough yet. On the other hand, this new album might become her shot at fame and glory worldwide, because ‘Off to dance’ sounds really sensational. The album is perfectly produced by ROB ELLIS (of PJ HARVEY, ANNA CALVI, MARIANNE FAITHFULL fame) and the reason why it is released through a major label in France is due to the fact that Frederika grew up as a child in France and she has lived there since she started her music career at the age of 18. Now 10 years later with this excellent new album release, Frederika is reaching a stage in her life that should make it possible to get the desired major exposure to the rest of the world. The music of Frederika is Electronic Pop/Rock orientated, which might not bring anything new to the scene, but at least the result is quite stunning and of a very high level, reminding of KATE BUSH, TORI AMOS, FLORENCE AND THE MACHINE, BAT FOR LASHES, LAURA JANSEN, THE JEZABELS and also 80s LUBA and DALBELLO… There’s an 80s vibe with the use of synths and keys, but it’s Frederika herself who steals the show with her beautiful high-pitched vocals. Producer Rob played a major part in the overall sound/production of the album and he also brought in musicians like Ben Christophers of BAT FOR LASHES, Adrian Utley of PORTISHEAD and Tom Havelock from COLD SPECKS, just to make sure everything sounds really picture perfect. Although I have not heard her earlier work, which apparently sounds different than this new record, ‘Off to dance’ sounds very fresh and modern, despite the earlier mentioned 1980s reference. 10 songs are included on the album and it could definitely become a success, because after all, it has the sound which currently is very popular. Highlights are “Willow” (lovely calmer piece!), “We are whole” (rockier, like 80s DALBELLO/LUBA), “Glory” (beautiful), “Trip Me Up” (interesting French Chanson style) and “Deep Breath Then Dive” (FLORENCE AND THE MACHINE style, could become a huge hit!). Sensational new release and a must-have for the fans of the modern day female fronted hi-tech electronic poprocksound! More info at: http://www.fredrikastahl.com 

(Points: 8.7 out of 10)

MAGAZINE ‘SONGLINES ISSUE 90 – MARCH 2013’ (BRUCE SAWFORD LICENSING/UK IMPORT)

One look at the latest issue of the magazine SONGLINES and you will understand why the British music magazines are by far the best in the world. My personal favorite magazines are CLASSIC ROCK, UNCUT and MOJO, whom all are very good in what they are doing, namely covering a certain music genre in every possible aspect. They are all providing an excellent mixture of news, reviews, stories and interviews with/on both established and new acts and also adding a FREE CD that contains the latest new material, picked by either the editors of the magazine, a musician or in the case of the new FREE CD of the March 2013 Issue of Songlines, a record producer. American record producer and writer JOE BOYD selected 5 tracks for the TOP OF THE WORLD CD that comes with issue 90 of SONGLINES, a magazine which is based on WORLD MUSIC. This genre is of course hard to define, because even a Progrockband from Israel could be included in this magazine, but overall, WORLD MUSIC is of course focused on the local traditional music played in each country of the world. On the other hand American singer/songwriter and British Folk music is also covered, so there is a part in there that is also home to more Western orientated Popmusic as we hear it on the national radio from time to time. In the latest issue of the magazine we can find some really great features, such as ‘The official Songlines Guide to the artists and history of French chanson’, a story on the relation between music and food, ‘A Beginner’s Guide to the Oysterband’, a Festival Profile, stories on music from India and Rio De Janeiro/Brasil, several interviews (including American singer-songwriter AnaÔs Mitchell) and countless reviews of the latest album releases from all over the world, which is by the way very nicely divided into sections for each part of the world. The quality of the written word in the magazine is of a very high quality, but understandable for the people who are less familiar with the English language. The diversity in covered genres should be praised and the contents of each issue is impossible to find elsewhere, so all together this is making SONGLINES a true dedicated and interesting magazine to check out if you want to read about something completelly different than the usual music magazines out there! Available through: http://www.songlines.co.uk

(Points: -)

EDGE OF ATTACK ‘EDGE OF ATTACK’ (SPREAD THE METAL RECORDS/CANADA IMPORT)

I have no idea why all the good bands are still almost only coming from the USA and Canada, but once again we can welcome a sensational new Melodic Metalband from Canada. They are called EDGE OF ATTACK and this band is definitely an excellent female fronted band whom are playing in the style of BENEDICTUM and SHADOWSIDE, although a bit more melodic and traditional classic melodic metal orientated (LEATHERWOLF meets ICED EARTH instrumentally). Despite the fact that here and there you can hear they are in their early stages and a future release might become the real killer album, all the ingredients of a sensational new band are definitely present on the band’s debut album ‘Edge of attack’. Great vocals (by ROXANNE GORDEY), superb flashy guitarwork (by DALLAS DYCK) that is as fast as lightning and a bunch of catchy tunes that stick in your head after hearing them. Not a single weak tune to be found here and the absolute highlight should definitely be the anthem “Demon of the Northern seas”. I am very excited about this band and truly hope they will become a household name in the years to come. They definitely have the potential to grow to huge things in the future. In the meantime check them out at: http://www.edgeofattack.com 

(Points: 8.6 out of 10)

THE QUILL ‘TIGER BLOOD’ (METALVILLE/ROUGH TRADE/GERMANY IMPORT)

One of the most legendary Swedish bands, THE QUILL return with their 7th album ‘Tiger blood’. Although at first sight not much has changed, because musically the band is still playing the Stoner Rock/Metal, which we could also hear on their previous albums, there have definitely been some line-up changes the past few years. Their previous album ‘Full circle’ already saw a change of lead singer, enter MAGNUS ARNAR, and now on this new album we can welcome back their lost bassist ROGER NILSSON, who was out of THE QUILL for 7 years, playing with other Swedish bands like FIREBIRD and the fantastic SPIRITUAL BEGGARS. Anyway, back to the new album, ‘Tiger blood’ offers 10 good Soner Rock pieces that will be loved by the fans of the genre and anyone familiar with the band will definitely also love this new one. More at: http://www.thequill.se/ 

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)

ANTJE DUVEKOT ‘NEW SIBERIA’ (PANTJEBARE PUBLISHING/MOOD INDIGO ENTERTAINMENT/USA IMPORT)

ANTJE DUVEKOT is an extremely talented singer/songwriter, who was actually born in Germany, but has lived in the USA for quite a while now, in order to fulfill her music career dreams. This resulted in already 7 albums so far, of which ‘New Siberia’ is the latest release. She has been touring in Europe since 2007 and I do hope to catch one of her performances someday soon, because she sounds absolutely amazing. Musically speaking this is high quality singer-songwriter pop with a strong classic 1970s approach (read JONI MITCHELL, JOAN BAEZ and also SHAWN COLVIN), with of course the focus on Antje and her acoustic guitar, but backed up by a full band and also with an up-to-date professional production. There are clear hints of Folk and Celtic to be heard in Antje’s music as well and basically, this is one of those albums you can put on and just dream away very easily, thanks to Antje’s lovely vocalwork. Especially the songs “The life of a princess” (with amazing high pitched vocal stretching from Antje), “Glamorous girls” (poprockish radio-ready piece) and the terrific calmer ballads “Four stiches” and “Juliet” are just a couple of examples how beautiful this kind of music can sound and really grab you. “The perfect date” is one of the few songs that is taking a slightly different path, because this is a more uptempo fun little tune. Antje proves that she is one of the finest female singer-songwriters active nowadays and of course there is a lot of great competition out there, but ‘New Siberia’ is just so beautiful. Please do not miss this beauty! More info at: www.antjeduvekot.com 

(Points: 8.7 out of 10)

MISSY HIGGINS ‘OL’ RAZZLE DAZZLE’ (UNIVERSAL MUSIC/AUSTRALIA IMPORT)

SARAH BLASKO, KATE HEIKE MILLER and also MISSY HIGGINS (real name is Melissa Morrison Higgins) are just a few of the countless female singer-songwriters, whom are all very popular in their home country of Australia. Over there they sell around 100,000s of records of the albums they release, sell-out tours all over Australia and receive Awards numerous times, including the ARIA (which is the Australian equivalent for the Grammy Award). MISSY HIGGINS is the artist name of Australian singer/songwriter Melissa Morrison Higgins, who was born in 1983 and recently released her 3rd album titled ‘Ol' Razzle Dazzle’. She plays quite a few instruments, such as Piano, Synthesizer, Guitar, Melodica and Xylophone and is blessed with a beautiful voice. The music on her latest album is breezy fun summerish pop/rock that is loaded with catchy hooks and melodic choruses. Think of BAT FOR LASHES going for a more poppy direction, actually very much like the WEBB SISTERS/THE PIERCES orientated dreampop with a touch of 90s female fronted melodic poprock (SARAH MCLACHLAN), but sometimes with almost soulful like vocals of MISSY HIGGINS. 12 tracks are included and most of them are a pleasure to listen to, with a nice variation of uptempo tunes and more (semi) ballad orientated material. Especially the first couple of songs ("Set Me on Fire", "Hello Hello" and "Unashamed Desire") are really excellent and a joy to play. There aren’t many dull moments to be found here and this album could well be the breakthrough of MISSY HIGGINS if she is lucky enough that someone from the international media picks this masterpiece out of the huge amount of other releases, something she definitely deserves on the straight of this new record. “Set me on fire” is the song that should easily become a huge Summer hit all over Europe! Check her out at: http://missyhiggins.com/ 

(Points: 8.8 out of 10)

ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK ‘NO RETREAT NO SURRENDER’ (PERSEVERANCE RECORDS/USA IMPORT)

1980s US movies and in particular, the fighting movies, of which thousands were produced in that decade, most of them featured some of the most amazing music ever recorded. Head and shoulders above the rest, the absolute king of them all is without any doubts ROCKY 4. That movie contained the absolute ultimate Soundtrack for Work out/Fitness/Training/Sports related activities. Nevertheless, in the shadow of this movie a lot of other movies were produced around the mid 1980s and they all featured a similar style of music as Soundtrack. The concerned music style of all those movies was pure 1980s keyboard based AOR-Rock mixing a lot of synthesizers with picture-perfect vocalwork, precise guitarwork and guitarsolo’s, while each vocal featured song was also including an incredible catchy hook and memorable chorus. Most striking were the huge productions of those movie soundtracks, easily blowing away any other recording ever done in music history. Major multi-million Hollywood Budgets paved the way for such big ‘anthem’ sounding Movie Soundtrack 30 years ago and the SYLVESTER STALLONE and JEAN-CLAUDE VANDAMNE movies were no exception to that rule. The Keyboard/Synthesizer Wizzards as well as the shredding guitarists and anyone with a STEVE PERRY like tone in his voice, they all had a full-time job in the USA, performing on countless Movie Soundtracks throughout the glorious 1980s US AOR decade. The US version by PAUL GILREATH featured such an amazing midtempo Classic AOR rocker titled “Stand on your own” by JOE TURONO, which was dangerously close in style to SHELTER, SURVIVOR, FORTUNE, JOURNEY, the band TOUCH from the Rocky 4 Movie, etc… However, that song cannot be found on the new CD release of NO RETREAT NO SURRENDER by the American (Soundtrack re-issue specialized) label PERSEVERANCE RECORDS, because this version contains the soundtrack and original motion picture score by FRANK HARRIS. This version also contains an incredible AOR anthem and in fact there are 4 (!) versions of the Classic uptempo AOR tune "Hold On to the Vision" included. The song itself features superb vocals by the AOR God KEVIN CHALFANT (707, THE STORM, THE VU…) and legendary shredding guitarist JOE SATRIANI, who actually made one of his first official recordinga via this song. Although only one real song is included, the rest of the Soundtrack includes excellent typical 80s instrumental movie score work by Frank. The CD features all digital remixes of the song next to the original mixes, as well as the complete score in chronological film order. Of course for an AOR fan it would have been even more interesting to include more vocal featured songs a la "Hold On to the Vision", because that is the song which will appeal to any AOR fan out there, but nevertheless 80s movies are always interesting to check out, as also the score contains some great instrumental work (in the style of TOTO, HANS ZIMMER, VINCE DECOLA, BILL CONTI…). Must-have for fans of 80s movie scores and along with an impressive booklet that features extensive liner notes and rare pictures from the period this movie and it’s score was created (around the mid 1980s), it makes it a highly recommended album. The CD is available through: http://www.perseverancerecords.com/ 

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)

SALES BROS ‘HIRED GUNS’ (PERSEVERANCE RECORDS/USA IMPORT)

A soul that rocks! In the 1970s Soul was extremely popular and by the time the 1980s arrived, this music genre was more or less rock’ed up, which resulted in an on-going popularity of the genre, although Rock and Soul came very close at one point during the mid 80s. Prime example is of course the legendary Soul Duo of HALL AND OATES, but by 1986 JOURNEY’s ‘Raised on radio’ was probably the finest example of Rock meets Soul ever recorded. Meanwhile, a lot of lesser known acts were active as well and the SALES BROS was one of them. There is now a CD available from this duo, including tracks that were recorded 30 years ago. Sadly they were never released due to some unforeseeable circumstances (member Tony Sales had a near-fatal car crash that left him in a coma for several months!), but now the official first album of the SALES BROS is released under the title ‘Hired guns’. The whole story of this act can be read in the booklet, which features liner notes by legendary groupie PAMELA DES BARRES and musically the SOUL BROS were actually closer to something the BLUES BROTHERS were doing, so expect on this CD a pure Soul meets R&B style that is also featuring a lot of Horns. Although this might not appeal to any AOR and Popfans out there, people who want to hear some good ole Soul will feel at home when putting on this CD. Although the SALES BROS never found fame and fortune, the brothers went on working with DAVID BOWIE, TODD RUNDGREN and IGGY POP, so behind the scenes things turned out well for them. In the meantime, this part of their history is now officially available on CD through: http://www.perseverancerecords.com/ 

(Points: 7.0 out of 10)

DELAY TREES ‘DOZE’ (SOLITI/PLAYGROUND/FINLAND IMPORT)

Out of Finland comes the Indie-Rockband DELAY TREES, whom recently released their 2nd album ‘Doze’. The band is formed around Rami Vierula (vocals, guitar), Lauri Jšrvinen (backing vocals, guitar, synth), Onni Oikari (backing vocals, drums) and Sami Korhonen (bass, synth). Their music is quite laid-back and very melancholic, making you feel like you’re somewhere in a desert or a wide open field, with a slight cool breeze blowing. Indie-Pop/Rock, Dreampop and Post-Rock are the 3 genres associated with DELAY TREES, but there’s a clear pop catchiness in most of the songs as well, so perhaps this band scores a big hit someday soon! Anyway, 9 songs are included and the album starts very calm actually, but the rest of the CD rocks a little more and brings us some great material in the shape of “Dream surfer”, “Glacier” and “Pause”. There is however not that much diversity going on, because most of the songs follow the same path and that might hold back some people to approach this band, but overall speaking, DELAY TREES does deliver a quality release with their new album. If they can cut it live is a different case of course, but meanwhile check them out at: http://www.delaytrees.com 

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)

FREQUIS ‘VARIOUS ALBUMS’ (INDEPENDENT/USA IMPORT)

Especially the past few years female fronted (hard) rockbands have become extremely popular, with as most notable examples DAMONE, HALESTORM, FLYLEAF, PARAMORE and countless European acts. Out of Phoenix, Arizona comes the latest new female fronted hardrockband called FREQUIS, whom are formed around singer/songwriter CASSIE AGUIAR. The band was kind enough to sent me their 2 releases, which includes their 2011 EP and their recently released full-length album ‘The escape’. The same titled EP was recorded in Los Angeles and produced by Jim Wirt (INCUBUS, HOOBASTANK, JACK’S MANNEQUINN…). This EP already showed that this is a very impressive band with a bright future and now with the release of their very first full-length album release, FREQUIS is expanding their horizon. They have opened for STEEL PANTHER recently and if we have a listen to FREQUIS’ music, one can hear that 80s Melodic Hardrock/Metal is a clear reference, however with a strong modern approach to make it sound attractive enough for all the youngsters out there. PARAMORE similarities are quite obvious, but there are some differences, because FREQUIS is heavier and features some excellent flashy progmetal/shredding neo-classical guitarwork by guitarist ERIC NASTRI, which makes this band standout between the rest of all the countless other female fronted PARAMORE/HALESTORM influenced bands. The only pity are the screams of Cassie a few times, which spoils it a bit, but overall, FREQUIS is a highly recommended band to check out at: http://www.reverbnation.com/frequis 

(Points: 8.1 out of 10)

AVENTYR ‘DRIVEN’ (MIGHTY MUSIC/NORWAY IMPORT)

When you have someone like BEAU HILL on board, you have done something right and in the case of the Norwegian band AVENTYR, it indeed sounds pretty impressive. The band was formed way back in 2001, but things really started in 2011 when they released their EP ‘Trouble’, which was already produced by BEAU HILL (WARRANT, WINGER, RATT…). Somehow the band managed to sign a 5-year publishing agreement with American Michael Davenport / Expressive Artists, where acts like AC/DC, GUNS’N’ROSES and DAVID BOWIE are signed as well, so they must have impressed the American Music Business already with this EP. Now in 2013, the members left of the original line-up of the band are guitarist, composer and founder Steinar Aven, and vocalist, composer and co-founder Roger Olsen, whom together with a few other musicians recorded ‘Driven’, which once again was produced by BEAU HILL. The music is American based Sleazy Rock and Roll, with strong similarities to FASTER PUSSYCAT, BACKYARD BABIES, HELLACOPTERS and it is all done exceptionally well. Songs like “Driven”, “Trouble” and “Outside” are all quite strong uptempo late 1980s orientated Sleazy rockers a la FASTER PUSSYCAT, DIRTY LOOKS, NASTY IDOLS… The band features a good rock vocalist (ROGER OLSEN), who has an American way of singing and despite we can’t find anything new under the horizon, the final result is promising for the future. Check out AVENTYR at: http://www.facebook.com/aventyrband 

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)

BLACKMAIL ‘II’ (UNTER SCHAFEN RECORDS/DGR MUSIC/SONIC RENDEZVOUS)

Out of the beautiful city Koblenz in Germany comes the band BLACKMAIL. This band has been active since the early 1990s and despite the fact they have already released about 8 albums before this new album ‘II’, I actually had never really heard a full record by this band. The reason why this album is called ‘two’ is due to the change of lead singer on their previous album ‘Anima now’ in 2011, so they made a fresh start a few years ago and I am safe to say that their new album is a very impressive international sounding record. This is an album that fits nicely between the American Rock and British Rock of the present day. In fact, it is a very diverse album that touches a lot of different aspects of rock. Among the highlights we can add “The rush” (FOO FIGHTERS meets QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE uptempo modern rock and roll), ‘Palms” (uptempo Stoner Heavy Rock/Metal with big fat heavy guitar riffs), ““Sleep well, madness” (a very strong song, sorta laid-back with a psychedelic rock influence) and “Dual”, which is a great semi melodic rocker actually. Definitely a surprising release and perhaps one of the strongest German releases in Rock in 2013! If you like for example THE BLACK ANGELS from the USA and/or DE WOLFF from The Netherlands, then you will most likely love BLACKMAIL’s new record as well. The way rock should sound, so check them out asap at: http://www.blackmail-music.com/ 

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)

PI JACOBS ‘URBANICANA’ (THATCRAZYCHICKMUSIC/HEMIFRAN)

PI JACOBS is an American singer/songwriter who was born in San Francisco, lived (and still lives) in New York City for a long time and worked a while in Los Angeles, where she also recorded her new EP ‘Urbanicana’. Sadly only 6 songs are included on this 5th album, because PI has a great warm voice and the music is very strong melodic rock/aor/poprockish, with a touch of soul here and there, so it would have been very interesting to hear much more of this talented singer-songwriter. Apparently she did release 4 albums before this ‘Urbanicana’, but I’m afraid those releases didn’t reach me, although I hope to hear them very soon. Back to the included music on this album, because if anyone remembers LENITA ERICKSON or even JAIME KYLE, then you will more or less understand what PI JACOBS sounds like, because for me personally this is prime-time pure LA summer breeze melodic poprock with westcoast and soul influences. There’s a couple of relaxed/laid-back semi-ballad orientated material included, but the tracks that should definitely be mentioned are “Kickaround” and “Mrs. Oneill”. “Kickaround” is a very catchy little uptempo melodic poprocker that even recalls the classic early 80s PAT BENATAR days, while “Mrs. Oneill” is a stomping almost 70s influenced catchy soulful rocker that reminds me somehow of TANTRUM, mixed with a little SHERYL CROW if I’m allowed to say so. Loving the drumsound (by Alfredo Ortiz from the BEASTIE BOYS) in this song and on every track by the way. PI JACOBS is without a doubt a very professional singer/songwriter who can easily breakthrough someday soon and she easily blows away many of the Dutch singer-songwriters which are currently being promoted quite a lot. Check her out at: www.pijacobs.com 

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)

JESSICA RYDEN ‘MY LITTLE HEART’ (FLAREC/HEMIFRAN)

There is not so much info available on JESSICA RYDEN, who is a talented Swedish singer-songwriter making her debut with the CD ‘My little heart’. The included music is quite laid-back, with typical 70s Singer-Songwriter orientated music and quite a few times featuring a jazzy influence in the keyboard arrangements. Jessica started to become really active in the music business when she bought herself a keyboard at a Greek airport! Glad she did, because who knows, we might be looking at a long and lasting career. ‘My little heart’ might be just the beginning, as she is already working on a new album. “The last time I saw Richard” is one of the most interesting tracks here, because this somehow does reflect a slight 70s progrock influence. Hear more at: http://www.jessicaryden.se/ 

(Points: 7.9 out of 10)

VARIOUS ARTISTS ‘THE BEAUTIFUL OLD – TURN-OF-THE-CENTURY SONGS’ (DOUBLOON RECORDS/HEMIFRAN)

As the title already predicts, what we have here is a very nice and interesting collection of remakes of songs that were originally written and recorded around the late 1800s/early 1900s in North America and on the British Isles. 19 songs are included in total and the performers are all professional well-seasoned musicians and here and there even legendary singer-songwriters of the modern age. The featured singers on this album include Garth Hudson (THE BAND), WILL SEXTON, RICHARD THOMPSON, Christine Collister, GRAHAM PARKER, Dave Davies (THE KINKS), Kim Richey, Kimmie Rhodes, Heidi Talbot and many others. Of course if you would listen to the old existing original versions of these songs, it would sound very out-of-date, but on this modern version, we can easily say that the result is quite incredible and a joy to listen to and learn a bit about the origins of modern day popmusic, which of course started around the turn of the century (1890s-1900s). All info at: www.TheBeautifulOld.com 

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)

VICTORIA VOX ‘KEY’ (OBUS MUSIC/HEMIFRAN)

American singer/songwriter and ukulele player VICTORIA VOX has been in the music business for quite a while now, but her new album ‘Key’ is the first time I learn about this talented musician. She went to the same college as countless other musicians (Berklee College Of Music in Boston) and funny enough she shared the room with megastar JOHN MAYER, who even wrote a song about her! She has already released a bunch of albums, but so far the big breakthrough has not happened (yet). I do feel however that this new album ‘Key’ should gain her a lot of popularity and exposure, because it is really a great album. Singer/Songwriter popmusic is clearly the style of music portrayed on Victoria’s new album and I have to say that it sounds really beautiful. Big difference however with all the other female singer/songwriters out there is the fact that Victoria is playing the ukulele as main instrument and there aren’t that many performers out there doing the same thing, although THE WEBB SISTERS more or less do the same thing. Anyway, VICTORIA VOX has delivered a really great album that is also musically speaking very dicverse, with elements of Jazz, Soul, Country, Pop and Rock melted together quite perfectly. Highlights include “Sweetest melodies” (uptempo poprocker), “Crazy love” (a terrific laid-back song with the haunting voice of Victoria), uptempo Country-rocker “Let it go” and the beautiful “Guarded heart”, but any song will fulfill the pleasure and joy of listening to this gifted singer/songwriter. If only the mass media would hear how incredible this is, then we could easily welcome the next big artist here. Check out all info at: http://victoriavox.bandcamp.com/ 

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)

(All reviews by Gabor Kleinbloesem except where noted) 

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