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Mike Thompson 'Out of my head' (Independent/USA Import)


Guitarist/singer/songwriter Mike Thompson is a newcomer who released a stunning debut album titled Out of my head. There's a list of guest musicians and other music business related people involved here, but in the end it's Mike who shines on his own solo-debut record. Do not confuse him with the legendary AOR guitarist Michael Thompson by the way. Mike is coming out of Panama City, Florida and on his first CD most familiar names are the legendary producer Michael Wagener (recorded Mark Slaughter playing guitar leads and singing back ups on the first six tracks, except the female accapella track, which was done by Amy and recorded by Calvin Gann at Studio 812), and guest vocalists Mark Slaughter (Slaughter, Vinnie Vincent Invasion, Xcursion), Collin Raye (a superstar in the country world) and the talented Amy Henderson (a rather well known Gospel singer, having charted on the gospel charts with several songs of her own and with the Gann Family group at All the songs were recorded and mixed by JJ Crews at his Boogie Tracks Studio in Panama City. You can be assured that this album has a huge major label ish sound and musically speaking it is melting melodic rock, bluesy rock and classic rock, guitar orientated and vocally speaking Mike reminds me of Phil Vincent, Jeff Cannata, Aldo Nova, Jack Blades and even Paul McCartney comes to mind, so he's singing in a slightly low key. What you basically get here musically is high quality stuff, melodic rock with a classic rock touch and some bluesy rock influences as well, which was already mentioned. If we have a quick run through the tracklisting, we can find The River (midtempo, with also some prog influences, Toto ish, but a tad heavier, lovely guitarwork!), Radio Cosmos (catchy uptempo melodic rocker a la 1980s Aldo Nova), The One (dut-dut keys, late 70s/early 80s influences, sorta Pomprock ish tune, Thrills meets Aviary and especially Aerial a lot!!!, basically a very catchy chorus, with somehow a Queen influence, Robby Valentine minus the high pitched vocals. Even a bit retro-modern, so a definite radiohit!!!), Little Dreamer (also a special song, Beatles influences all over the place, a semi melodic rockballad, reminds me of Harem Scarem a bit!), Jaded (a song with only guest female singer Amy Henderson singing accapella and she sings like an angel, a beautiful fantastic voice, so an interesting lady to check out asap!), Baggage (midtempo melodic rocker like Night Ranger), Homestead (strong semi ballad, melodic rock/aor ish), Hype and Memories of You (2 slightly weaker tunes), Thunder Island (nice tune, a bit poppy, again somehow Queenish) and Can't Be in Love (nice guitarsolo once again). Without a doubt, this is an interesting release and highly recommended to check out more asap at:  


(Points: 8.4 out of 10)

Odi ’Mashlow's Songbook’ (2 Hoots Records/Hemifran)


Claire Odlum is best known in Ireland as Odi. She is an Irish singer/songwriter and like many music from Ireland, also Odi is something you ought to check out, because her voice and accompanied music is simply beautiful. Her last album Mashlow's Songbook was already released sometime ago (2009!), but it recently won interest on the European mainland. She plays guitar, piano and percussion herself, next to her beautiful singing, while a band is backing her up to make it all sound a bit more like a band. It’s a mix of folk and pop melodies and despite we have heard it all before, Odi has a fantastic voice that makes it all worth listening to over and over again. Thankfully, she also delivers some really great melodic tunes, such as Red Light, Something Beautiful and the bluesy I’m Done’ and therefore I hope Odi is able to record a new album in the future, because this is quality music that needs to be heard by many people out there. More at:


(Points: 8.3 out of 10)


Jeff The Brotherhood 'Wasted on the dream' (Dine Alone Records/DGR Music)


The Nashville based band Jeff The Brotherhood, a band formed around brothers Jake and Jamin Orrall, they have worked so hard and can easily call themselves a true rock and roll band in the old spirit, which means, play loud and fast, sing a catchy tune, play countless shows and keep on working to become the greatest rock and roll band in the world. That’s why bands like Kiss, Cheap Trick, Rolling Stones, The Who, Motley Crue and many others made it so big. This band is very diverse in its rock and roll roots, sometimes sounding modern, then like a 60s or 70s band, while pure powerpop the early 80s way (The Jam) is also hearable. Then not even talking about 1990s alternative college rock (Teenage Fanclub). There’s something for everyone here and if we have a listen to their latest album Wasted on the dream, a song like the strong Mystified Minds is uptempo melodic alternative rock with fuzzy cool guitar riffs, sorta like The Posies meets Teenage Fanclub meets The Melvins. Completely different is Melting Place, which is a slow, almost doom metal ish tune with Black Sabbath ish downtuned guitar riffs and stoner rock could be a good description for this tune. The female vocals in the melodic In My Dreams are really great and both Coat Check Girl and What's a Creep are deadly catchy upempo powerpop tunes that remind one of Weezer and early 1980s radiofriendly powerpop (even Huey Lewis and good old Rick Springfield come to mind here!), although also Foo Fighters has such songs and do not miss the awesome guitarwork here by the way. Interesting sidenote is the list of guest musicians, which include Jack Lawrence (Dead Weather, The Raconteurs) on bass, guest vocals by Bethany Cosentino (Best Coast) and Alicia Bognanno (Bully), additional shredding by Evan Bird & Emmett Miller (Diarrhea Planet), and a flute solo by Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson (!!!!!!) on the song Black Cherry Pie. All together, this is a very diverse band that somehow also reminds me of Cheap Trick. They started 15 years ago, already released a bunch of albums and who knows after all these hard working years, the band finally reaches the pot of gold with their new record Wasted on the dream! More at: and and and


(Points: 8.5 out of 10)


T Sisters ‘Kindred lines/Ready for love’ (Spruce and Maple Music/USA Import)


The T Sisters are The Tietjan Sisters, consisting of Erika, Rachel and Chloe, a singing trio from the Oakland area. On their full-length record Kindred Lines from 2014, it’s like we stepped back in time when the Andrew Sisters were huge, so you have a sorta 1930’s/1940’s kinda feeling when listening to their music. Then you have to think about high pitched close harmonyvocals, an almost acapella drive in a lot of songs and a big band kinda sound here and there (such as during Seduction of Spring and But Not for You), but the trio also has songs that mix Americana, country, blues, jazz and a whole lot more. When going for a more country/folk/Americana direction, the sisters sound like The Corrs meets Dixie Chicks (listen to the bluegrass-driven Train Wreck) and especially on their new 2015 CD single Ready for love, this can be heard very clearly, as on this 4-tracks counting record, the band sounds a little rockier, especially during the fantastic opener Ready for love. The harmonyvocals of the 3 sisters are beautiful and I’ll bet that live on stage, this family will impress even more! I think the 3 sisters are of Dutch origin, with a name like Tietjen! Anyway, with the help of experienced musicians like Todd Phillips (Ricky Skaggs, Joan Baez, Alison Krauss), Linda Tillery (Buckwheat Zydeco, Bobby McFerrin), and Mike Marshall (Edgar Meyer, Béla Fleck, Sam Bush), the T Sisters are on their way to become bigger and like already mentioned, especially their new 2015 CD single Ready for love is one you don’t want to miss out:   


(Points: 8.3 out of 10)


Mark Slaughter ‘’Reflections in a rear view mirror’ (Escape Music)


Mark Slaughter is best known as bandleader/vocalist of Slaughter, a band he formed with Dana Strum after they left Vinnie Vincent Invasion back in the late 1980s. They hit it big for a short while and scored one of the last hair metal hits of the 1990s decade (Real love) before grunge and alternative rock took over. Then came a period the band had a real hard time, but they went on releasing music, although eventually it became really quiet. I heard some live recordings over the years and Mark lost his voice and actually I did not expect a comeback, especially not with the release of his first solo-album. The album has been surprisingly released on Escape Music and although it all sounds safe and well, there is not a glimpse of the enthusiastic and catchy Slaughter sound from 25 years ago. Mark did everything himself, except the mixing and mastering (Michael Wagener) and drums (Mark Goodin). Good to see Mark is still alive, but the melodic hardrock on his new album is very much basic and by-the-numbers, so only interesting for the die-hard fans I am afraid...


(Points: 7.3 out of 10)


Moxy ‘40 Years And Still Riding High’ (Escape Music)


Legendary Canadian band Moxy had its highs and peaks in the 1970s, with even a young Mike Reno behind the mic for a few years (in the late 1970s). He went on becoming successful with Loverboy, while Moxy maintained a cult status all those years, broke up in 1983 and actually thanks to this new release, I was made aware they reformed in 1999 and released several albums during the 2000s. Their real comeback is now in the shape of 40 Years And Still Riding High, a triple CD boxset “jewel case”, featuring a new studio album and a live CD and live DVD set. The reason not many people were aware they have been alive and well for a while now is that they were primarily active in Canada, but now this new album is released on Escape Music, so the European market is being approached easier than the past 15 years. Moxy are indeed still alive, although the line-up is not as original as you want it to be of course. The only original member from 1974 is guitarist Earl Johnson, because the rest of the band is made of newbees like vocalist Nick Walsh, Alexis Von Kraven (Drums), Rob Robbins (Guitar) and Oscar Anesetti (Bass). All the way back in 1974 the legendary guitarist Tommy Bolin (Deep Purple) joined Moxy for a little while, even playing guitar solos on the band’s debut album, which now 41 years later has reached a cult status for Tommy Bolin fans. However, Moxy is best remembered as a typical Classic 1970s Hardrock/Metal band, the Canadian equivalent of bands like Montrose, Saxon and Riot. This album contains a great live DVD release (also on a CD version available in this package) and a new studio-album, which features new and classic re-recorded Moxy tunes. If we run through the tracklisting, remarkable tracks are Moon Rider (classic 70s hardrock), Out of the darkness and Through the storm (both Dio ish slowtempo metal tunes), Another time, another place, Sail on sail away and Still I wonder (3 really great semi melodic rockers), Fantasy (strong semi ballad) and Riding High (typical classic AC/DC hardrock). Nick Walsh is a good singer, although after a while he starts to sound a little boring, singing in the same key. There are also a bunch of tunes that sound like the groovy hardrock/early 1990s hair metal Slaughter created, even though some of these are actually classic 1970s Moxy tunes (Midnight Flight, Can't you see I'm A star, Young Legs, Time to move on, Nothing comes easy and Rock baby). Nevertheless, the guitarwork is very impressive and so is the production, while the band sounds very tight, so make sure to check out this nice package of Moxy!


(Points: 8.3 out of 10)


Geyster ‘Knight games 2’ (Somekind Records/Hemifran)


French multi-instrumentalist, arranger and producer Gaël Benyamin is best known as Geyster. He already released 6 albums between 1999 and 2014, but this is the first time I get to hear and review his music. Knight games is a musical trilogy and for some people, the 29 tracks on 3 different CD’s and with a total playing time of 110 minutes, it might all be a little bit too much. Nevertheless, the included material is of a very high level and is a mix of westcoast, light southern rock and some electronic pop/rock. If we spin through the 3 albums, Knight games 2 seems to be the strongest, with such great songs like HEAL (excellent relaxing late 70s westcoast, catchy chorus/hooks with lovely melodic harmonyvocals just perfect), It's There and Do It (slightly more rockier, light southern rock a la Lynyrd Skynyrd). Gaël is definitely a high quality musician, but next time it would be preferable to release just one CD with 10-12 full-length tracks. Anyway, he’s a gifted multi-instrumentalist, who can also sing very well, while the music is timeless clearly 1970s orientated (very much like Steely Dan). Also the frontcovers of the albums are all clearly 1970s orientated, so let’s hope a future record will be released on vinyl. Meanwhile check out more at:: and   


(Points: 8.3 out of 10)


Whitehorse 'Leave no bridge unburned' (Six Shooter Records/Hemifran)


Leave No Bridge Unburned is the 3rd record of the Canadian rock band Whitehorse, a band mixing folk, Americana and a touch of garage rock, sounding like a cross between the The White Stripes, Ryan Adams and Calexico. Although they are seen as a band, this is actually a husband-and-wife duo, namely Luke Doucet and Melissa McClelland. Both were very successful as solo singer-songwriters, but in 2011 they joined forces as a duo-band, with Melissa playing bass, keyboards, percussion and some guitar, while Luke is responsible for the guitar, drums and some keys. The singing comes from both and that makes this a very pleasant adventure to listen to. I have to admit that I prefer Melissa behind the mic, because she has got a lovely voice, but combined with Luke’s singing, the two of them together sound really nice as well. If we go through the tracklisting, there are quite a few highlights, such as Sweet Disaster (fantastic song, modern yet retro midtempo sounding tune a la The White Stripes), You Get Older (lovely tune), the calmer Dear Irony and Evangelina (midtempo, beautiful female vocals here). Slightly weaker is Baby What's Wrong? and for the fans of pure bluegrass there is the shuffle The Walls Have Drunken Ears, so in the end this turns out to be quite a diverse record actually. I also have to conclude that it is one of those records you put on more than just a few times, because this is high quality stuff and those of you whom are starting to become interested, go to:


(Points: 8.7 out of 10)


Spuyten Duyvil 'The social music hour volume 1' (Independent/Hemifran)


Spuyten Duyvil has quite an original name, which will definitely make them standout between the rest in the music business. The Hudson Valley, New York based band releases their 3rd album with The social music hour volume 1. The band consists of Mark Miller, Beth Jamie Kaufman, James Meigs, John Neidhart, Lou Geser/Jagoda Rik Mercaldi, with Mark and Beth sharing the vocal duties. Musically speaking they are making a mix of all kinds of traditional American music, such as blues, folk, rock, bluegrass, Americana and such. The songs that primarily feature the female vocals somehow feel the best, such as Keep Your Skillet Good and Greasy and Who's Gonna Shoe Your Pretty Little Feet?. The album was engineered by Jim Keller (Willie Nelson, Nellie McKay) and without a doubt, this Spuyten Duyvil is an interesting band you might want to check out. Folkrock meets Americana with a dash of Blues, that is what mainly the picture of this band is. More at:


(Points: 8.0 out of 10)


Good Lovelies 'Burn the plan' (Six Shooter Records Hemifran)


The Canadian all-female trio Good Lovelies consist of Caroline Brooks, Kerri Ough en Sue Passmore, whom formed this act in 2006 and Burn the plan is their 3rd album so far. The beautiful looking girls are able to write, sing and record lovely music that sounds like a cross between The Corrs and The Staves. There’s pop melodies crossed with folk, westcoast and country, with just enough rock to call it poprock here and there. What is most impressive here are those perfect beautiful melodic harmonies of the 3 ladies and although the music itself is sometimes bittersweet sounding, Good Lovelies is really a strong band that could easily breakthrough. This is high quality music that will always stand the test of time and will be enjoyed by many people out there. Highlights on this new album are Waiting For You (The Corrs alike harmonyvocals), Old Fashioned Love (uptempo pop/rock, radio ready), When The City Settles (lovely calmer piece) and the semi-ballad Don’t Hold Back. Do not miss this trio at:


(Points: 8.4 out of 10)


Rotterdam Ska-Jazz Foundation ‘Knock turn all’ (Megalith Records/WTF Records)


The Rotterdam Ska-Jazz Foundation (RSJF) is experimental and dangerous, sounding like a progressive rockband in a jazzy disguise. Armed with drums, bass, guitar, piano, organs and horns, the RSJF has been active for over 13 years now and releases their latest album Knock turn all on the Rotterdam based label WTF Records. This is the kind of jazzy melting-pot one is looking for when finding something new in this overcrowded music business. I’ll bet that live on stage these guys will make a huge impact, because already on record they show their incredible diversity in material. Go check them out at:


(Points: 8.0 out of 10)


Audoban Savant ‘Bird herd/Poochman’ (Independent/USA Import)


The American multi-instrumentalist singer/songwriter was kind enough to send me 2 albums, released in the past few years. The latest record Poochman is clearly stronger than Bird herd. The vocals of Audoban are uncomfortable at first, but after a while you get used to his way of singing. He reminds me of David Bowie, yet a little rawer, so nothing clean and melodic here. The music is pop/rock with an experimental drift, some folk and quirky punk here and there for example. Poochman opens with some nice uptempo quirky poprock, straight ahead and sounding quite interesting actually (sorta early 80s UK inspired), both Antiabortionists and Have yourselves, although as already mentioned vocally there is a sort of weirdness. All together it reminds me of the early 80s quirky pop/rock sound of artists like Moon Martin, Donnie Iris and Elvis Costello, while a song like Irish spring is pure David Bowie strangeness. Another interesting song is the somehow rather catchy Lament, but I really think this is one of those acts you need to check out first before purchasing, as it is kinda awkward, which on the other hand makes it interesting of course. More info at:   


(Points: 7.4 out of 10)


Paul Kovac and Jen Maurer Boy=Girl ‘Paul Kovac and Jen Maurer Boy=Girl’ (Independent/Hemifran)


Boy = Girl is an American duo consisting of female singer/bassist Jen Maurer (ex-The Rhondas and Mo’ Mojo) and male singer/guitarist/banjo player Paul Kovac (leader of Hillbilly Idol), whom are making their debut with the same titled album release. There’s a rootsy mix here of rockabilly, bluegrass, folk, Americana, blues and lots more. Actually this is a diverse album that offers a lot to enjoy if you’re into traditional American music. Highlights are Isn’t it funny (beautiful song, calm and relaxing), countryrocker Back In Your Arms Again and I did I do I will (folky bluegrass), but also the Amy Winehouse cover Back to black, which is brought in a banjo version with Jen on vocals is quite a pleasure to listen to. Check out all on this duo at:


(Points: 7.9 out of 10)


Zoo Pilot 'Broken/Up' (Engine Jive Music/US Import)


Out of Austin, Texas comes the band Zoo Pilot, whom are exactly making the music as described in their bio. They play 1960s influenced classic pop/rock a la Beatles, Beach Boys and such, yet with a modern day indie approach. However, there is much more to discuss here and more influences can be heard in their sound. The band's main members are Brad Paxton (lead vocals and guitar) and Josh Nichols (bass and drums) and together they formed the band back in 2011. Now 4 years later they release their first full-length album, but in the package they sent me I found 2 new CDs, so they actually released 2 albums as a start! Anyway, let's first discuss the album Broken, which consists of 10 tracks. The album starts with a calmer singer songwriter titled When Love's True / Get the Fuck Out of My Life, but except the songs Temporary and I'm Gonna Change, the remaining of the album rocks. Don't Tell Me for example is a nice midtempo semi rocker, which is sorta Britpop orientated and sounds like Stereophonics. Farewell is a catchy uptempo poprocker in an early 80s style, kinda British way of singing, pure Powerpop that also reminds me of The Posies. When I'm Dreaming is a slowtempo, light psychedelic, Teenage Fanclub retro late 60s flower power orientated piece. Things get even rockier during Pointless Taken, which is a midtempo and very strong Led Zeppelin riff orientated heavy rocking tune, with some great guitarwork that even has a Black Sabbath riff. Up Your Sleeve is more radio-ready power pop a la The Posies again and we dive completely in the 1960s with Go Away (So I Don't Have to Say It) (hello Beach Boys!!!) and All of the Time (late 60s Beatles). Definitely an interesting album that deserves a rating of 8.2, especially due to its diversity and maintaining the quality status from start to finish. The other album Up is a completely different affair I am afraid, because this is a less rocking and more experimental album that starts with a rootsy tune, which is followed by a Ska tune a la Madness. Although not bad, it feels like this Up album is just a left-over record, because Broken is a much better record that deserves to be heard, as it offers quality material that takes the best of British pop music from the 1960s all the way to the modern days. Go check out this band at:


(Points: 8.2 (Broken) / 6.8 (Up) out of 10)


Tripod 'Devil feeder' (Independent/Norway Import)


The Norwegian band Tripod was founded in 2002 and they released 2 albums so far, of which Four coins from 2012 was even released in China! They worked with the legendary Beau Hill (Alice Cooper, Ratt, Warrant and more) for this new album, which is their 3rd record. Now with new guitar player Jørgen Berg (ex-Torch) on board, they recorded a strong new record titled Devil feeder in the Czech Republic. The album features a massive sound that combines dark down-tuned guitars with catchy melodies and exceptional strong vocalwork by singer Knut Arne Lillestøl. It took them a few years to finish the album, but the result is quite impressive and Tripod's new album could well have been an American rockalbum. There are guitarsolo's and some lovely melodies here and there, while as already mentioned, Tripod has got the luck to have a great singer in their line-up, which makes their American orientated sound international and recommendable to fans of especially bands like Shinedown, Soundgarden, Alice In Chains and Alter Bridge. The song Possible really hits hard in a good way, sounding melodic and catchy, while rocking out immensely, so definitely the best song! Other highlights are Meant to Be (semi ballad), Inside My Head (semi rocker), All for Granted (with female singer, a semi melodic rock/ballad) and If I Die strong (semi ballad/rocker). This album sounds major label ish, so go check out Tripod asap at:  


(Points: 8.2 out of 10)


Astrid Young 'One night at giant rock' (Independent/Hemifran)


Now here we have a fantastic female singer from Canada, who has a rock voice most definitely in the classic Canadian tradition of black-haired female rock singers such as Lee Aaron, Ann Wilson (of Heart, yes, she is actually semi-Canadian), Darby Mills, Chrissy Steele, Alannah Myles, etc. etc., but the music is more calmer singer/songwriter orientated with nevertheless very strong melodies. It sounds a bit like a laid back version of Jaime Kyle and Heather Nova. Semi AORish, with amazing vocals and also recommended if you like Kate Bush, Tori Amos and such, then this is for you, although somehow this also feels like 80s hair metal stripped down sometimes and then when reading the bio everything makes complete sense... She was born in 1962 and her half-brother is the legendary Neil Young, who bought Astrid her first amp in the 1970s. She sang back-up vocals on various Neil Young records, Blackthorne, Nancy Wilson and a lot more, but the hair metal clearly comes from the fact she was the vocalist for Sacred Child, a legendary melodic metal band, which released one great album in 1986. We reviewed the CD re-issues many moons ago and now in 2015 a new solo-album of the singer of that band lands on my desk. It all explains the sorta hair metal feeling I got, although the music itself on One night at giant rock is as mentioned calmer singer/songwriter orientated, with also influences from the folk, blues and bluegrass genres. Highlights are I Wish (a bit Heart ish), The Nerve (folky bluegrass uptempo tune), Your New Drug (calm and bluesy), Why Run When You Can Hide (SUPERB VOCALS!!!, Heart similarity again, a semi ballad just perfect!) and Patchouli Boy (a lovely ballad!). It took Astrid 12 years to release a new album, but now she's back and releases a great new record and for anyone looking for this amazing vocalist, who sang on that Sacred Child classic, here she is, alive and well at: and


(Points: 8.3 out of 10)


The Wooden Sky 'Let's be ready' (Nevado/DGR Music)

 Out of Toronto, Canada comes The Wooden Sky, a band which already released 3 albums before this new record Let’s be ready. Their singer (Gavin Gardiner) has got one of those voices you either love or hate, because after a while it almost has a monotone Kurt Cobain or Jim Morrison kinda whining, sorta complaining vibe. Musically speaking The Wooden Sky are indie/alternative rock with roots elements and surprisingly uptempo and pretty catchy most of the time, with as highlights the rockers Saturday Night and Maybe It's No Secret, as well as Don't You Worry About a Thing, a cool midtempo tune where the vocals really grab you. Same thing happens during Shake for me, where Gavin also sounds very honest and true. This is one of those typical northern American sounding records, pure Indie-Rock with alternative approach and who knows one of the songs will be picked up somewhere for multi-airplay, making the band go bigger, because they have something to offer on their new album that will appeal to a lot of people. They have got an own sound, which rarely happens these days. A rockier R.E.M. and a less happier Midnight Oil are perhaps the closest things that come to mind while listening to the band’s latest record Let’s be ready.  Check it out for yourself at:

 (Points: 8.0 out of 10)

 Rachel Sermanni 'Tied to the moon' (MON Records/DGR Music)

Rachel Sermanni is a singer/songwriter from Scotland, a place in the Highlands called Carrbridge. She already released a few EP and 2 full length records, making this Tied to the moon her 3rd full-length album release. Although the past work saw her clearly moving into the typical singer-songwriter style we know from Eva Cassidy and Joni Mitchell for example, this new album goes a little rockier. A good thing, because that makes it sounds more diverse and therefore more attractive for people thinking outside the box. The new album is very good actually, because not only does Rachel have a beautiful voice, also the material is very strong. Sometimes this feels like typical background singer songwriter folk music (highlight Ferryman), but here and there also happy poppy rock passes by (Run, Wine Sweet Wine and Tractor) and all together I would like to compare her with Amy McDonald. Rachel’s voice makes this album a very fine listen and I can only highly recommend it to anyone who likes beautiful music with cryatsl clear music. Check it out at:

 (Points: 8.3 out of 10)

 The Maureens 'Bang the drum' (Suburban/DGR Music)

2 years ago the Utrecht, Holland based band The Maureens released their debut and now they follow it up with Bang the drum. Without a doubt, this is one of those albums that brings a smile to your face, as it is happy radiofriendly pop/rock with a touch of indie, a clear 1960s approach and upbeat tunes from start to finish. It does remind me of The Madd, although the band’s real influences come from bands like Beach Boys, Byrds, Jayhawks, Johan, Teenage Fanclub, Wilco and such, which can likewise also be heard on their upcoming 2nd album Bang the drum. So they will not get the price for most innovative band, but instead they do offer a bunch of really catchy tunes that can grow into festival hits if they are lucky. Don’t miss those guys if you want to hear a possible breakthrough band for the upcoming season 2015/2016. Then go to:

 (Points: 8.2 out of 10)

 Bonefish 'Time to market' (Independent/Hemifran)

 Bonefish are a band from Stockholm, Sweden, consisting of Bie Karlsson, guitar and lead vocals, Anders "Nylle" Thoor, bass and lead vocals, Lasse Nilsen, guitar and lead vocals and Rasmus Rasmusson, drums and backup vocals. In 2013 their debut was released and now follow-up Time to market is available. The band is playing a mix of Americana, westcoast and a little indie pop/rock, sounding quite melodic at times. Opener and titletrack Time to market is a very strong relaxing melodic westcoast pop/rock tune. In that same style we can find Bullet and Revolve, all 3 of them the finest tunes on this album. It’s a pity, Time to market is actually a mini-album that contains only 8 tracks, because Bonefish is one of those bands you want to hear more from. On the other hand, this new record comes only 6 months after a full-length release, so 8 new songs within such a short time is already quite a lot. Anyway, the other included songs are Still down at seven (nice retro rootsy rocker a la Rolling Stones, with rawer vocals), We all gonna go that road (bluesy rocker), White bird (calmer), As her soul (Neil Young ish uptempo rocker) and My sweet lord (semi rocker). This is high quality stuff and already in their homeland of Sweden they are starting to become more and more popular. More info at:

 (Points: 8.2 out of 10) 

Chris Cuddy 'Dear Elvis' (Independent/Hemifran)

Van Morrison meets Elvis Costello is one of the descriptions made about Chris Cuddy, a Canadian musician who releases a record that could have been huge back in the 1980s when rockabilly was popular for a while. His previous 3 records were more acoustic based, so taking that in mind, Dear Elvis is a step forward to a more upbeat, rock and band orientated sound, which is definitely needed to make a bigger impact. Chris also adds influences from other genres, so it is a melting pot of all kinds of styles, with as main ingredient, rockabilly! Highlights of the pure rockabilly tunes are definitely Rock'n'roll History (feat. Albert Lee & Gene Taylor), Starlene and Tell Me. The album’s diversity comes alive in the songs All the Wild Things Come Out At Night (The Who and The Animals influences), Tom Cat (feat. Gene Taylor) (singer/songwriter bluesy mix), Magic Girl (singer songwriter piece, almost The Kinks), Dear Elvis (pure Van Morrison) and the album’s highlights, which are the heartland/uptempo rockers Here Comes Summer and Kissing the Night Away (the best song, sounds a bit like Charlie Sexton). Chris also jumps heavily into slow blues during Take It Off, I'm a Cadillac and Friday Night (feat. Roly Platt), while here and there we can also trace rootsy rock, bluegrass and americana, so it is not a complete rockabilly affair here. One way or the other, Dear Elvis is a highly recommended album, it breathes quality music and I have a feeling that live on stage with a full band Chris Cuddy might surprise us! Check him out 

 (Pts: 8.2 out of 10)

RxGF 'Any Other Way' (Independent/Hemifran)

Out of Seattle, USA comes the electro-industrial group RxGF, which is formed around producer John Morgan Reilly, a sorta synth/keyboard/computer wizard, who already released 2 experimental albums, and female lead singer Angeline Schaaf. She has got a great voice and the urgently needed finishing touch to lift the material on this record to higher places. The music is hi-tech orientated and despite this sounds modern, like Florence and The Machine and such, it somehow has a strong 1980s sci-fi soundtrack vibe, reminding me of Pat Benatar during her mid 80s Invincible period, The Terminator soundtrack, Device, Animotion and Siouxsie and the Banshees, although a bit darker, less catchy and of course with a refreshed 2010s sound (that has an electro-goth touch). Highlights are How To Make It, We Will Not Be Denied (almost 80s hi-tech uptempo poprocker in the style of the aforementioned Device) and Antidote (midtempo strong vocalwork a la Pat Benatar!). The second half of the album is a little less interesting, except for the Tori Amos ish ballad Belladonna Dream (Verax Mix). Somehow I feel that Angeline is a singer with a bright future, but I am unsure if this will be with RXGF or not, because John sometimes wants to do his own thing and forgets the fact he has a great singer on board. More can be found at: and and

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)

District 97 'In vaults' (Sensory Records/Laser's Edge/Hard Life Promotion)


In vaults is the 3rd album from Chicago based female fronted progressive rockband District 97. This band started back in 2006 as a powerhouse foursome instrumental progrock adventure in the style of Liquid Tension Experiment, but everything changed when 2007 American Idol Top 10 Female Finalist Leslie Hunt joined the band. Her looks, stage performance and powerful voice made it possible for the band to move on into a new direction, which is still pure progressive rock, yet with a catchy melody in the vocal department most of the time and a memorable chorus here and there. Taking influences from alternative rock and melodic rock, District 97 blends everything perfectly together and this could already be heard on their previous albums, which we also reviewed, but now the new album In vaults is even a step further into the perfect sound. Rich Mouser (producer of Spock’s Beard and Neal Morse) mixed the album and without a doubt, the sound is huge and with 9 excellent songs included, this new album of District 97 is the real deal for any progressive rockfan out there who also likes a beautiful melody besides a lot of instrumental creativeness. Songs like Death By A Thousand Cuts, All’s Well That Ends Well and Blinding Vision are just a few examples of the great sound District 97 has created and developed throughout in the 10 years they exist now. Everything seems to come together here on this new record, so the future looks bright for this band. More info available at: and


(Points: 8.2 out of 10)


Kingcrow 'Eidos' (Sensory Records/Laser's Edge/Hard Life Promotion)


The Italian band Kingcrow was formed almost 20 years ago, in Rome, by Diego Cafolla (guitars) and Manuel Thundra Cafolla (drums). The first couple of years saw them recording demos, changing the bandname and finding the right sound and line-up, because despite a few official album releases, everything changed when current lead singer Diego Marchesi joined the band in 2009. With him they found a superb singer, who sings in the right key and has an own identity. During one of their earlier albums, back in 2004, I compared the band to Fates Warning and actually even on this new album Eidos, the band is still in the same progressive rock/prog metal direction, yet the change of singer makes the difference in the 11 years that have passed since then. The combination of strong clean vocals and perfect sounding melodic progmetal makes songs like Adrift and Eidos must-hear tunes for the progmetalheads among us, while Open Sky and The Deeper Divide are lovely calmer semi epic prog ballads. Actually most of the songs start really calm and develop into bursting prog metal masterpieces, while closing track If Only is a real calm ballad piece to slow things down until the last seconds of the album. Eidos is the band’s 6th album so far and although I might have missed some of their releases in the 2010s, I have followed their career since the late 1990s and I can easily say that this new album Eidos is a highly recommended album to any fan of typical modern day melodic progmetal in the style of Threshold, Dream Theater, Pagan’s Mind, Enchant, Fates Warning… More at:


(Points: 8.4 out of 10)


Michael Cosyn Group featuring Paul Shortino ‘Burn the earth’ (Royal Hund Records/USA Import)


12 years ago I was on a train back from a holiday in France, when me and my brother met an American guy who was for business travel in Europe. He was sitting in front of us on the train when all of a sudden he showed us on his laptop an album by the band Jag Panzer, which we already heard out of the speakers playing during the journey. It appeared the guy, Michael Cosyn, he was a musician himself and working on own material besides playing in a Jimi Hendrix cover band. In fact, Michael is an amazing guitarist in the old school style of Beck, Hendrix, Schenker and such, so this was an interesting meeting. We became friends ever since and met each other several times. Michael is a virtuoso guitar player, could play a riff or solo easily when asking him, but releasing an album would take a while. It is 2015 and Michael formed a band/project around him some time ago and now releases as The Michael Cosyn Group, the first album titled Burn the earth. Musically speaking it is a mixture of classic rock (the spot-on precise guitarsolos), heavy bluesrock (the riffs and slow tempo of most songs, as well as the rhythm section) and melodic rock (the hooks and choruses). In total 9 tracks are included and despite an independent release and being a local San Francisco based band, Michael managed to get 2 well-known musicians on board, namely Mike Vanderhule (Y&T) and Paul Shortino (Rough Cutt, Quiet Riot). This of course contributes a lot in making this a high quality release, because the guitarwork of Michael is phenomenal. Michael’s major influences come from Jimi Hendrix, Robin Trower, Black Sabbath, Thin Lizzy, Deep Purple, Rainbow, but we can trace more similarities while listening to this album.


If we have a run through the tracklisting, it starts with Burn the Earth, which is nice uptempo hardrock, with a great blistering melodic guitarsolo where you start to scream ‘let it sing baby!!!’, but the chorus is just so and so, although the song itself has a touch of late 70s/early 80s Rainbow. Followed by Rivers Run Dry, this is a great semi melodic rocker like Tyketto meets Free meets Thunder, with a very strong hook and a cool wah-wah guitarsolo. Angel's Wings is a wonderful semi melodic rockballad, with a lovely chorus and this is really a beautiful song actually, Paul Shortino at his best and a great solo by Michael too. Paul’s vocals are not as powerful as in the past, but on this song he truly shines! Up next is the only non-Paul Shortino sung song, because here Michael himself sings. Blind man is a rather standard classic rocker a la Ace Frehley (!). Next track Rescue has a cool Jeff Scott Soto/Talisman ish funky groovy lick, but the chorus lacks a bit, although the guitarsolo kicks major ass! Freedom cries is up next and this is a great semi melodic rocker like Tyketto meets Free meets Thunder meets Y&T, with a super catchy chorus a la Jeff Scott Soto and it sounds a bit Whitesnake ish as well. Speaking of Whitesnake, the final 3 songs are all very much going into that bluesy hardrock direction, Hearts On the Line (slow heavy bluesrocker), Save Me (another slow heavy bluesrocker, really pure Whitesnake) and Lying Eyes (lovely calm bluesy ballad like When a blind man cries, with a Jimi Hendrix riff and a deadringer for fans of David Coverdale ish vocals and also included here is a great epic guitarsolo, so basically a definite classic rock tune!).


All together, Michael does a great job here and the album shows he is an amazing undiscovered talent, who does have a bright future as a guitarist and songwriter. Finding the right band vocalist is a hard job, so until then he will probably need to hire guest singers, like he did with the legendary Paul Shortino on this album. Do not miss this release if you are starting to become interested. More at:


(Points: 8.2 out of 10)


The Headlocks 'Most golden goose' (Independent/Hemifran)


15 tracks are on the 2nd album Most golden goose of the Staten Island, USA based band The Headlocks. This band is formed around vocalist/songwriter Rob Carey and musically speaking they are heading into a typical traditional American rootsy rock direction, although a song like She’s Gonna Explode even reveals a sorta The Killers touch. Besides that uptempo rocker, the band is at their best during other uptempo pieces as well, such as the catchy opener Dream While You’re Awake and the bluesrocker “(Why Don’t You) Get Right, but also the ballad Plenty ways to die and especially the melodic and radio-ready Starting Over is worth listening. Actually this is a very nice light classic rock ish album, which takes a few different paths throughout the album, sometimes drifting into a catchy modern poprock direction (Arcade Fire, The Killers), but most of the time rootsy rock based (Georgia Satellites meets Jack White) and some blues and country ish ballads here and there to slow things down. With so many songs on one record, it is a good thing to show enough variation and in the case of The Headlocks, it might lead to fans of various music genres. Check them out



(Points: 8.1 out of 10)


Byron Fry ‘Explosive’ (Independent/Hemifran)


Explosive is the 2nd CD from guitarist Byron Fry and actually it is quite an explosive album! Although released sometime ago (2013), it is a highly recommended album to any fan of instrumental shredding guitar based rock, although Byron digs in nearly every other music genre (jazz, blues, metal, big-band, world music…), but of course always plays the melodies on his guitar, so it rocks most of the time. He is a phenomenal guitarist and besides a bunch of own compositions, there are also covers of Led Zeppelin’s Black Dog and Herbie Hancock’s Actual Proof. Byron Fry got a little help from Ronnie Ciago, Herman Mathews, David Anderson, Nick Seiwert (drums), David Hughes, Chris Buck (bass), Vince Norman, Terry Landry (sax), Bill Churchville (trumpet), Greg Vail (EWI), M.B. Gordy (tablas/percussion) and Bill Fulton (piano). Byron is a typical guitarist from the Bay Area, playing the guitar so easy you would swear that it must be a healthy place to live there, because nearly all the legendary guitarists come from that part of the world, Santana and Neal Schon being just 2 examples. Byron is one to watch out for in the near future, so check him out asap at:


(Points: 8.3 out of 10)


Hack Monocut ‘The sum of my parts’ (Independent/USA Import)


In 2013 the Austrian multi-instrumentalist Hack Monocut released his debut album In the land of basement hobby rooms, which is now followed up by The sum of my parts. Hack is doing everything on his own here and both vocally and musically speaking he reminds me of Tom Waits and Nick Cave. 9 songs are included and if we have a look at some of the tunes, we need to mention We Better Look Away (uptempo rocker, dark and raw, even reminding of INXS), Now (slowtempo midtempo song, even a bit U2, altrock touch), Used Love (raw punky rocker), Dead Born Sister (John Grant even comes to mind here, calmer epic song) and The Ripper (gimme back my love) (The Smiths/Morrisey style, indie laid-back midtempo tune, radio potential, best song with female vocals at the back). Lyrically hack also has something to say, so that combination, with him singing it all very well, this makes the album a recommended one to check out at: 


(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

John Thayer 'Take it back' (EON Records/USA Import)

Out of Portland, Oregon, USA comes singer/songwriter John Thayer, who is the brother of legendary guitarist Tommy Thayer (KISS, Black’n’Blue). Take it back is his 2nd release, mixed by Greg Collins (No Doubt, Matchbox Twenty, Rob Thomas), this is a very strong release that could easily be played on the radio, as it concerns here hit potential melodic poprock with a modern approach. Opener Can You Change Me is a really cool uptempo melodic synth driven poprocker with a very catchy chorus, which also has a Bryan Adams ish 80s touch somehow and fellow singer/songwriter Jamie Almorad comes to mind here and there. His influences may come from bands like Coldplay, Phoenix, The Cure, Keane, U2 and such, the music itself is typical modern day poprock with clean melodies and as mentioned before, with that 80s kinda catchy chorus driven approach and massive synths. John has a great voice, sings in a lower key, a little like Peter Gabriel and his songs sound very impressive, so who knows he will become as big as his brother in the future. Meanwhile check him out at:

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)

Lawless Hearts 'Creatures of habit' (Independent/Pavement Entertainment/USA Import)

Now here we have an excellent female fronted melodic hardrockband from Jacksonville, Florida, USA. Although they remind us so much of Halestorm, there is somewhere clearly a classic melodic rock touch a la Vixen/Laos and even Saraya similarities are possible while listening to such great uptempo melodic rockers like Creatures Of Habit and Oblivion. There are sadly only 4 tracks on the band’s debut EP Creatures of habit, so after listening to the 15+ minutes of the album you are wanting more and more, but a full-length will hopefully follow in the future. The other songs by the way are If I Have To and Fallout, both a bit more modern Paramore/Halestorm style. The band consists of Alex Marie (Lead Vocals, Guitar, Piano), Mike Thomas (Lead Guitar, Backing Vocals), Justus Sutherland (Rhythm guitar), Rob Joseph (Bass guitar,backing vox) and Corey Ahlquist (Drums). Alex has a fantastic rock goddess voice and the sound of their EP is major label ish, so it would not be a surprise if we are going to see them breakthrough someday soon. Meanwhile check them out at:  and

(Points: 8.4 out of 10)

Vitne 'Endless blue' (Relectric Records/USA Import)

Multi-instrumentalist/singer/songwriter Joseph Vitne has already received a review with the release of 2 albums of his former band Golden Palace somewhere else on this page, but he also released a new solo-album titled Endless blue. Musically this is slightly different, as the rock and roll and powerpop is nowhere to be found here. Instead we get to hear a mixture of AOR/Melodic Rock and 80s Gothic Rock, with a sorta English 80s new wave touch in the vocal department and touching a neo-progressive rock field here and there as well. The sound of the album is high quality and the performance and included 6 songs are a pleasure to listen to, with Joseph taking care of most instruments, while Julian Angel is playing guitar here. The Mission, Billy Idol and Bystander combined could be a good description here, especially during the catchy uptempo AOR/Melodic Rockers Endless Blue and Misery. Songs like Himitsu, Village of the Sea and Serenity are much calmer and follow a more neo-proggy direction, with even some ambient and new wave influences. Concluded, this is completely different than Golden Palace, but interesting nevertheless. Check out more at:

(Points: 8.1 out of 10)

Golden Palace 'Touch me there/A little rock and roll' (Relectric Records/USA Import)

Out of the Charleston, USA area comes guitarist Joseph Kimbrell, who has been playing music since the age of 10 and throughout the years he played in several bands, with whom he released a dozen of records. After immigrating to Norway, he worked with guitarist Julian Angel, continued recording music and formed bands like SEKS and HART, while also recently he started his own label Relectric Records, on which several releases of his music past are being re-released and also his solo-releases under Vitne, because Joseph decided to go solo in 2013 after all his bands split up. However, first we go back in time, as Golden Palace was a band he considers as his finest band and Joseph was kind enough to sent me 2 of their ‘new’ releases on his label, recorded during the 2000s. The music is very diverse, but Cheap Trick and The Tubes are 2 bands that come to mind while listening to the music of Golden Palace. Touch me there was actually unreleased, so sorta this is a new album of the band, although it was recorded in 2008/2009. 7 songs are included, with as highlights the classic early 80s uptempo powerpop rockers With or Without Your Love and Summer Heat (lovely, even an AOR chorus included here!). The other songs are Let Us Be (shortish accapella piece), Holy City Skank (even a bit ska here, yet rockier chorus), From the Inside Out (punkier faster), Gregorian Scant (acapella, strong vocals, African World Music influences, interesting vocals!!!) and closing track Jessica Thompson (a comedy tune, bit awkward). So 2 sides to this story, sometimes uptempo and melodically rocking like it’s 1981, but at other times taking some really unusual paths, which nevertheless are interesting as well. The other album of Golden Palace is A little rock and roll, a diver record, which rocks more than the other Golden Palace album, digging deep into classic 70s and 80s hardrock, with punkpop and powerpop influences as well. Somehow bands like Aerial, Mayday and 707 come to mind while listening to this album, but if we go through the tracklisting, we can spot a whole lot more. Opener Is it a Crime? is classic early 80s uptempo powerpop, a truly lovely catchy tune a la The Monroes (What Do all the People know), 20/20 (Nuclear Boy), Fotomaker, The Pop. etc. etc. More powerpop can be heard in I Wanna be in Love and Saving Sage, while a song like Paradise is basically a strong big anthem hooker hair metal piece with a massive chorus, dangerously close to the late 80s wall of sound! But there are also some punkpop tunes here, so basically a mixture of pure classic rock and roll, powerpop and classic melodic hardrock, combining elements of Thin Lizzy ish twin guitars here and there (The boys are back in town) with even Huey Lewis in a song like Wild Irish Rose. Summer Song, A Little Rock N' Roll, Right Now, Still Here are slightly poppier, but Sheets of Fire is then again heavier rock. It is a melting pot of every classic rock and roll genre before grunge and alternative took over in the 1990s. Definitely a great band, which hopefully will reform one day and record new material, but in the meantime you can check out their 2 releases on relectric records at:


(Points: 8.3 out of 10)

Fuzzbee Morse ' Dreams and other living things' (Independent/Hemifran)

Fuzzbee Morse is a multi-instrumentalist, singer/songwriter, producer and film/TV composer, who releases his debut with Dreams and other living things. Fuzzbee has worked with many legendary musicians, such as Peter Gabriel, Lou Reed, Bono, Pink, Ric Ocasek (The Cars), Frank Zappa, Karla Bonoff, Axl Rose and countless others. On his solo debut album he gets help from Jerry Marotta (Orleans, Peter Gabriel / Indigo Girls) on drums, Tony Levin (Peter Gabriel, King Crimson, Yes) on bass and David Sancious (Sting, Peter Gabriel, Bruce Springsteen) on keys. Without a doubt, we have a high quality release here, with musically speaking an interesting hybrid of soul, jazz and rock, with some r&b and pure westcoast slipped right through. There’s a strong Gino Vanelli comparison during Oooh Baby, Brother Ray (superb vocalwork of Fuzzbee, very soulful) and Livin' in a Land of the Free (a bit westcoast meets soul, even slightly AORish) and also 80s Santana comes to mind sometimes. A song like Onward is basically close to progrock and the Jimi Hendrix cover Angel is a beautiful instrumental with lovely guitar melodies, while here and there we can also trace some blues and even room for one more Jimi Hendrix cover (Voodoo Child (Slight Return)). Definitely a superstrong album, sounding very diverse and accessible for every music fan out there! Already looking forward to a follow-up release, because Fuzzbee Morse is a name to watch out for! Check out all at:

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)

Agent Fresco 'Destrier' (Long Branch Records/SPV/DGR Music)

Out of Iceland comes Agent Fresco and like most acts from that country, they are somewhat hard to categorize. The band is playing experimental art/post-progressive rock / math rock, sometimes reminding me of Porcupine Tree, but then again also going into an even more complex darker direction that makes them sound like a krautrockband sometimes and one can even trace jazz influences, with a rhythm section that is giving Agent Fresco a sound that is not easy to follow. The band consists of Arnór Dan Arnarson – vocals, Hrafnkell Örn Guðjónsson – drums, Vignir Rafn Hilmarsson – bass and Þórarinn Guðnason – guitar, piano. They were formed back in 2008 and Destrier is their 3rd album so far. Comparisons are impossible to make actually, because therefore songs like Dark Water, Wait For Me and Let Fall The Curtain are showing a clear own identity. Check it out for yourself at:

(Points: 7.9 out of 10)

Marcel Harteveld 'Haat/Liefde’ (Independent/DGR Music)

Marcel Harteveld is a singer/songwriter from Amsterdam, who delivers his solo-debut album here. Haat/Liefde is a Dutch sung record, so the foreigners will absolutely not understand a single word, but despite I am not into Dutch sung music, this album sounds really strong and has all the ingredients to become successful. Marcel has a great voice and his songs are all beautiful melodic songs, mostly acoustically driven singer/songwriter music. The first couple of songs could easily become radio hit staples here in The Netherlands, as it’s just a matter of time, because Marcel can easily become huge if you listen to his highly recommended debut album Haat/Liefde. More at:

(Points: 8.1 out of 10)

Lioncage 'Done at last' (Escape Music)

Now this is nice to read, because the German band Lioncage was formed at the famous AOR/Classic Rock festival at the Loreley back in 2013, where bands like Toto, Europe and Whitesnake performed. Within 2 years they recorded an album and signed to Escape Music. Musically speaking the band digs in the classic 80s aor/melodic rock genre, not avoiding the multiple clichés, but end up sounding like a good deal of typical German style Euro AOR/Melodic Rock a la Roko, Craaft, Vice, Zeno, etc. etc. Vocally with an accent and not that impressive I am afraid, the material is still nice to listen to and especially opener Mission of love is a pretty good tune a la Lamorna, Frontline, Tokyo and such. There is a groovy rhythm sometimes and despite this ain’t no Fair Warning, Lioncage is a recommended new band for fans of mentioned acts. Nothing new here and far from sensational or must-have categories, it is nevertheless quality stuff that you can put on every now and then. More at:

(Points: 7.9 out of 10)

Scott Albert Johnson 'Going Somewhere' (Monkaroo Music/Hemifran)


Now here we have a very sensational musician from Jackson, Mississippi. His name is Scott Albert Johnson and besides a beautiful soulful voice, he can also play the harmonica very well. His latest album 'Going Somewhere' follows his 2007 release 'Umbrella Man'. Although musically speaking most of the time we can hear pure Mississippi blues on the album, Scott also rocks a bit more mainstream here and there, because he is influenced by Peter Gabriel, Police, Led Zeppelin, Beatles, Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, Bruce Hornsby, Ray Charles, Louis Armstrong, Daniel Lanois, John Scofield and Rush, so actually this album is an excellent mixture of rock, jazz, blues, funk, country, world music, etc. etc. One of the finest tunes is the Peter Gabriel cover I Don’t Remember, which is a very strong aggressive midtempo rocker with superb vocals by Scott. A song like A bigger gun dives into bluegrass, while singer songwriter pieces are also included here and there, but bluesy rock a la Van Morrison, with the harmonica sound a la Toots Thielemans, that is what this record is all about. Just listen to beautiful songs like Going Somewhere, If I Only Knew the Words and Jailbird and you will understand the nature of this honestly recorded album. Without a doubt, Scott is someone to keep your eyes open for in the future, as he has something unique to offer, so go check out all at:


(Points: 8.4 out of 10)


Sun Soul Orchestra 'What Matters Most' (Gumbo Child Productions/Hemifran)


When looking at the frontcover of the first record by the duo Sun Soul Orchestra, one will probably think this is a 1970s record and even musically it reminds me a lot of the good old days, but more about that later on in this review. This duo consists of Stevo Théard (drums, keys, percussion and vocals) and Ginger Murphy (vocals and cello). Stevo is from New Orleans and worked with many legendary musicians, such as Terence Trent D'Arby, Michael McDonald, James Ingram, Patti Austin, Peabo Bryson, Jeffrey Osborne, Bobby Caldwell, etc. Ginger is from Chicago and she played in several symphonic orchestra, while she can be heard on records of Red Hot Chili Peppers, Snoop Dog, Christina Aguilera, George Benson, Macy Gray and Kelly Clarkson. What matters most has a clear 1970s funk/soul/r&b vibe in the style of Rick James, Kool and the Gang, Prince and such, yet also with here and there a single westcoast/singer-songwriter piece. Quite a few covers are included, such as Mary Jane Girls (In My House), Rolling Stones (Waiting On A Friend), Bob Marley’s Waiting In Vain, Commodores' Zoom and the old school soul cover Pillow Talk besides a few originals. Concluded, a very surprising album that has a good-feel vibe in the retro 1970s style of mentioned acts. More info at:


(Points: 8.0 out of 10)


Yukon Blonde 'On blonde' (Dine Alone/DGR Music)


Out of Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada comes Yukon Blonde, a band formed in 2005, with a debut full-length album release in 2010, followed by Tiger talk in 2012. They gained a lot of popularity in their homecountry of Canada the past 5 years and with this new album On blonde, they might get their big worldwide break. The album was produced by Colin Stewart (Black Mountain, Dan Mangan, Sleepy Sun) and mixed by Tony Hoffer (M83, Beck, Foster The People Air, Depeche Mode) and it does sound quite sensational. It is destined to become huge, judging only on a single track called Saturday night, which makes you go bouncing all over the place. This is radio-ready melodic poprock the way it needs to sound and although it sounds fresh and modern, there is somehow also a clear 1980s Canadian touch. In fact, some of the material even reminds me of bands like Boulevard, Haywire, 80s FM (Canadian band), Bystander, Shy Talk, Platinum Blonde and such synth driven 80s aor/poprock with catchy hooks and memorable choruses. Yukon Blonde is formed around Jeff Innes – vocals, guitar, Brandon Scott – guitar, vocals, Graham Jones – drums, vocals and James Younger – bass, vocals. Highlights on this strong new album are the happy uptempo 80s synth driven poprockers Confused, Como, Saturday Night (radiohit for sure, a la Arrows), Favourite People and Jezebel (pure 80s). A song like Starvation is a little less happy and also a bit more dark hi-tech based, recalling Depeche Mode, while Hannah has great close harmonyvocals and is the only track that goes for a more relaxing indie pop/rock style a la Bear's Den/Fleet Foxes. Also need to mention the lovely I Wanna Be Your Man, which is a heavy fuzzy guitar slowtempo psychedelic rocker that sounds like Temples. Concluded, here and there quite diverse, but overall a very 'cool' record that should get summer airplay quite easily. More info at:


(Points: 8.6 out of 10)


AGUSA '2' (The Laser's Edge/Hard Life Promotion)


Agusa is a new band from Malmö, Sweden, consisting of Tobias Pettersson (bass), guitarist Mikael Ödesjö, drummer Dag Strömkvist and Jonas Berge on the organ. Some of the members also worked together in other Swedish bands like Kommuner & Landsting, Kama Loka and Hoofoot, but joined forces in early 2013. Already 1 year later a debut album was released and now in 2015 the 2nd record is released. Although only 2 songs are included, both have the length of one side of a vinyl record from the 1970s! Actually, when listening to the music of Agusa, it sounds really as if it is 1973 or something, because the instrumental progressive rock of the band sounds dangerously close to such legendary acts like Amon Düül, Colosseum, Eloy, Camel, with a Uriah Heep ish Hammond. It sounds really amazing and definitely live on stage it will make you go in a trance, so when listening just close your eyes and think it's 40 years back in time. Of course this should also be released on vinyl, because that is where Agusa's music sounds at best. Highly recommended to fans of lengthy instrumental 70s prog, not necessarily complex, because this is actually melodic prog with a focus on clean melodies on the organ and guitar. Check out more at:


(Points: 8.3 out of 10)


Maggie Szabo 'Tidal waves and hurricanes' (Independent/USA Import)


Maggie Szabo is a Canadian soul and pop singer/songwriter who became known for her YouTube and Vevo appearances, reaching over 13 million views worldwide! After recording her debut album in Los Angeles, she settled over there and now recently released a new single and accompanied video for her song Tidal waves and hurricanes. It is sadly only one song I got to hear, because her amazing haunting soul voice in the typical modern day female fronted style of Joss Stone, Adele and Amy Whinehouse, it makes you long for much more and musically also more interesting and diverse material (classic 60s R&B/Soul or bluesy rock and roll for example), because the song on this single is a rather standard pop/rock tune. So it might not be original at all, Maggie can sing very well, with a real soul in the tone of her voice and she has got all it takes to make it huge!!! She sings like a queen and with the right team and label behind her, she could easily become the next big thing, but she must find an own style, which will make her voice come out alive much more than it does now on a rather standard major label radio/tv pop hit! We will closely monitor her whereabouts in the future, but meanwhile check her out at:


(Points: 8.0 out of 10)


James William Meador 3 'Circus of fools' (Blind Lemming Music/USA Import)


1998!!! That was the first shock when looking at the back of this album, but music has no borders or time barrier, so we discuss this 17-year old album of the American singer/songwriter James William Meador 3. I received it from this musician directly, who is trying now to gain some attention and I must say that the included music sounds high class. What we have here is a nice collection of high quality singer/songwriter music with a strong folk and slight country touch, great vocalwork and somehow close to the 1970s style of Jim Groce and Bob Dylan, mostly acoustic driven and telling a story like a real singer/songwriter. The only pity is perhaps that most of the songs are in a same style, which makes it a bit hard to work your way through the whole CD, because some diversity never hurts. On the other hand, fans of Dylan and Groce, as well as for example Woody Guthrie, they will absolutely love this record. Check it out for yourself at:


(Points: 8.1 out of 10)


Cut Ribbons 'We want to watch something we love burn' (Kissability Records/DGR Music)


Out of Wales comes Cut Ribbons, a band making their debut with the release of We want to watch something we love burn. The band consists of singer and guitarist Aled Rees, lead guitarist Christian Rees, keyboardist and singer Lluan Bowen and drummer Ray Thomas. Their first record was mixed by Jeremy Murphy (Goldfrapp, Sam Smith) and it sounds fresh and modern, while still a clear touch of the past musically speaking. Although Indie Pop is the name of their game, strong 80s references are also notable most of the time. The songs Indigo and We Want to Watch Something We Loved Burn are for example catchy uptempo poprockers with strong female vocals and a pure 1980s approach reminding me of Device and Animotion somehow. Quite impressive what we get to hear actually, although as mentioned, it was done in similar style 30 years ago by countless acts (the male/female shared vocal orientated pop/rock with a hi-tech instrumental approach and loaded with catchy hooks and memorable choruses), although it sounds quite fresh when we hear something newly recorded in this style now. A song like Clouds is midtempo lush pop/rock, very similar to Florence and the Machine. Truth in Numbers is a calmer piece, while songs like In the Rain and Walking on Wires are even very close to The Corrs and The Staves, so very smooth, catchy and radioready. Also the legendary band Berlin comes to mind sometimes, that makes all together Cut Ribbons a very interesting and recommended band to check out. A band destined to breakthrough if they can make it live and if radio picks out a song to make it a late summer hit! More info at: and


(Points: 8.3 out of 10)


Brother And Bones 'Snow' (Last Step/DGR Music)


The Cornwall, UK based band Brother And Bones is the latest rock discovery whom are destined to become a major stadium act in the next couple of years. All the ingredients are present, including a superstrong singer (Rich Thomas) and a tight mainstream rocksound. Of course we already have Alter Bridge, Foo Fighters, Soundgarden, Shinedown, Pearl Jam, etc. etc., but there's always room for another strong rockband. The band has already released 2 EP's in the past 3 years and are now ready to release their very first full-length record titled Snow. Although this album contains a few songs that were already available in the past, everything was now produced, mixed and engineered by Billy Bush at East West Studios in Los Angeles, California. 11 tracks are included in total, offering superb modern day rock exactly the way you want it to sound, with also a bunch of calmer acoustic ballads included, so a really great mixture here. The absolute highlight is To be alive, which is a real crowd-pleaser, a sing-a-long commercial anthem rocker in the best classic rock tradition and a definite huge radiohit! Some of the material is dangerously close to Alter Bridge/Pearl Jam/Soundgarden (best song is definitely Raining stone, which even contains progrock influences, biting guitarwork can be heard here), while the calmer pieces breathe a lush melodic rocksound that even will be appreciated by folk rock fans out there (For all we know and Everything to lose are good examples). The beautiful melodic singing during the folsky work and a ballad like Save Your Prayers is quite amazing and this all combined makes Brother And Bones a highly recommended band. I am convinced that this band will breakthrough someday soon, because this is high quality rock from start to finish and their official first full-length record will definitely become one of rock's highlights of 2015! Check them out at:


(Points: 8.8 out of 10)


Girl In The Middle 'Magnolia street' (Independent/USA Import)


Out of San Diego, California comes the band Girl In The Middle, formed around Carol Rider (Lead guitars and Vocals), Gregg Henning (Drums and percussion), Dany Musser (Bass and Vocals) and Tim Edwards (Lead guitars and Vocals). Together they create a mixture of classic American pop and rock, sorta with one foot in the classic 80s aor/melodic rock genre (thanks to the female vocals) and the other in the Americana/heartland/rootsy and slightly alternative rock direction (when the male singer sings). Heart meets The Grateful Dead meets Jefferson Airplane is a nice description of their sound, but there's much more we can explore, especially when their material is drifting into pure classic aor/melodic rock territory, which happens to be the case quite a few times. Magnolia street is their 2nd album so far and the only pity is that there are just 8 tracks included. The sound and production is typical independent, so no huge major label sound, but that isn't a problem at all, because this has its charm for sure! While listening, it is like we stepped into a time machine back to the year 1983 when the US rockstations offered countless similar sounding bands, all across the nation bands like Girl In The Middle were active, in search for fame and fortune. Anyway, the album starts with a nice uptempo 80s heavy rocker Girl in the Middle, but it becomes really interesting during next track Only You Always. This is classic 1980s AOR rock in the traditional female fronted style of bands like Laos, Heart, Witness, Vixen, Saraya, etc., a lovely tune with beautiful melodies and strong vocalwork. While pushing the repeat button over and over again, the song starts to become an addiction, because it really is a superb tune reminding of the good old days, like only the Americans could deliver back in the early 1980s, basically an incredible tune that also has similarities to Martee LeBow and Fiona. Shadow of Souls has male vocals and is sadly a bit weaker, a more heartland oriented rocker. I Almost Love You is female fronted, a haunting rocker a la Joan Jett and Toronto, while Some Doors is suddenly sounding like The Pretenders, but a bit more rocking, a nice melodic poprocker that also has similarities to Stevie Nicks and early Pat Benatar, a catchy tune and a definite radiohit! Argentina Lady is tapping out of the 1970s classic us rock, a Reo Speedwagon/Styx anthem semi ballad/rocker with ditto male vocals. Glad You're Mine is a male/female duet,a nice rocker and closing track Bye Bye is a good Pat Benatar ish early 80s catchy poprocker. Concluded, this is a very impressive strong band with an early 1980s spirit, highly recommended to especially the fans of female fronted melodic rock/aor/poprock, because the band's singer Carol Rider has got a terrific rock voice which you don't want to miss. Go check out all at:  


(Points: 8.3 out of 10)