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UPDATED June 6, 2016

Stonerider 'Hologram' (Independent/Black Pike Favorites)


Now here we have a sensational band from Atlanta, Georgia, USA whom are about to release a fantastic new album titled Hologram. The band is sounding as if it was still 1976 or something, clearly going into a 70s classic rock direction that reminds me of a cross between Blue Oyster Cult, Boston, Uriah Heep, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Allman Brothers Band, Budgie and Styx. Melodies are the keen ingredient here, with big massive harmonyvocals, memorable choruses, classic precise twin guitarwork and a huge sound reminiscent of mentioned bands. They were formed back in 2007 and already released a few albums, but this Hologram is my first introduction to Stonerider. Formed around Matt Tanner - Lead Guitar/Vocals, Jason Krutzky - Drums/vocals, Noah Pine - Keys and John Pratt - Bass, this foursome has an authentic classic American Melodic Rocksound which was so dominant during the late 1970s and early 1980s in the USA. If one would tell me this is a re-issue of an old classic 1970s record I would instantly believe it, but Stonerider is a new band with 8 brilliant tracks on their new album. Songs like War, traffic and blind faith and Elevator operator are definitely sounding like future classic rock masterpieces, making me remember those days when Blue Oyster Cult and Boston were dominating the radio stations (at least in the USA!), so make sure to check out this band a.s.a.p. at:


(Points: 8.8 out of 10)


Basement Saints 'Get ready' (Wanted Men Recordings/Black Pike Favorites)


Get ready is the debut album of the Swiss band Basement Saints, a great new rockband formed around South African singer Anton Delen. Musically speaking we are entering a groovy bluesy hardrock direction, with a stompin' guitar orientated fuzzy stoner rocksound a la White Stripes, bluesy riffs a la Rory Gallagher and soulful vocals in classic The Doors meets Led Zeppelin mixture. All together they have released a great first record that makes you interested in seeing them live on stage. Each of the 9 included tracks rocks hard and gives you the feeling of listening to a high quality rockband from the USA, but they are really coming out of Switzerland. Third eye is one of the few tracks that slow things down a bit, sounding a bit like The Doors. Definitely a band to check out at:


(Points: 8.1 out of 10)


The Voodoo Fix 'In deep' (Independent/Black Pike Favorites)


Now here we have a sensational band from L.A. called The Voodoo Fix, who recorded their debut album Deep in Nashville together with Grammy-award winning producer Shannon Sanders (Robert Randolph, India.Arie, Johnny Lang) and Darin “D-Roc” James (Memphis Horns, Solomon Burke, India.Arie). The result is a superb album that could best be described as a mix of soulful hardrock and groovy bluesrock, somewhere between Rolling Stones, The Black Keys, The Black Crowes, Vintage Trouble and Rival Sons, with a singer who reminds me of Mick Jagger. This could become another major act in the future if they are lucky of course. Their first album sounds very impressive, thanks to such great songs like Take me back, Wake up, Sun won't shine and Let it kill you that even remind me a bit of New York Dolls. Do not miss this band at:


(Points: 8.3 out of 10)


The Steepwater Band 'Shake your faith' (Diamond Day Records/Black Pike Favorites)


And yet another great band on the roster of acts of the Swiss promotion agency Black Pike Favorites. The Steepwater Band is not a new band, because they have been active since 1998 and already release their 6th studio album with this new record Shake your faith. Heavy bluesrock is the name of the game here and they are doing it very well, with a melodic American touch, sounding a bit like The Black Crowes during such great tunes like Mama got to ramble and also a bit Free/Bad Company ish on calmer melodic tunes such as Be as it may and Break. They hail from Chicago and are not just playing bluesrock, because they throw in influences from Americana, Mississippi Delta Blues, British Classic Rock and even some jazz/50s rock and roll into their sound, which makes them sound very diverse in the end. A song like Break shows the incredible high level of The Steepwater Band. Calexico and War On Drugs similarities are also possible sometimes, but the blues riffs are always present. Jealous of your way is a fantastic more straight-forward rocker that even reminds a bit of Thunder, so in the end you can safely say that The Steepwater Band has an own kinda sound. They sound over-the-top professional and deliver a sensational release with this Shake your faith. Check out more at:


(Points: 8.7 out of 10)


The Phoenix 'My turn to deal' (Demon Doll Records/Atomic Stuff Promotion)


Formed in 2011, The Phoenix is an all-female band from Italy, with a great 4 tracks counting debut EP out on Demon Doll Records. The band is playing catchy 80s melodic hardrock in the style of Rosy Vista, Girlschool, The Runaways, Lita Ford and such. Opener and titletrack My turn to deal is rightaway a catchy hit potential uptempo melodic rocker that you can easily sing-a-long to. The band is formed around Lead Guitarist/vocalist Lena McFrison, Rhythm Guitarist Alice Schecter, Bassist Luna RocketQueen and Drummer Giuli McMousse. Next track is the midtempo pure 80s anthem Dangerous girl, which sounds like a cross between Def Leppard, If Only, Laos and Lee Aaron in her 80s heyday. A great start these 2 incredible catchy melodic rock tunes in the best 80s female fronted rock traditions, a must-hear for fans of the mentioned bands. You can't stop the rock and roll follows as third track and this is another catchy uptempo 80s melodic heavy rocker that sounds dangerously close to Envy/Poison Dollys, while closing track Party hard is as the title suggests, a party hardrock tune with a Motley Crue Dr Feelgood ish approach. The vocals are very good and also instrumentally everything sounds picture perfect, while the 4 songs are definitely all great and fun to listen to. Highly recommended therefore to fans of acts like Envy, Poison Dollys, Vixen, Laos, Heat, If Only, Lee Aaron, etc. etc. More at:


(Points: 8.4 out of 10)


Seta 'Stupide abitudini' (Atomic Stuff Records)


Italian sung melodic rock is what we get to hear on the 2nd album of the Italian band Seta. Some electronic influences can also be heard, but the chorus of the 2nd song Verita Nascosta is pure classic melodic rock bliss, even reminding of the legendary Italian band Dhamm. Anyway, Seta were formed in 2009 in the city of Verona, consisting of Luca Tosato (vocals), Rudy Boss Ferrarese (bass), Alberto Rossetti (keys/synth), Lorenzo Meuti (guitar)and Matteo Ortolani (drums). The vocals sound really great and so are the melodies in most of the songs, while instrumentally and also production wise, Seta is doing things at an incredible high level. Just listen to the fantastic Stupide abitudini, a haunting semi midtempo melodic rockballad with superb vocalwork and a deadly catchy chorus, while also the guitar has a nice feature here. 9 songs are included and not a single minute the skip button was pushed, because Seta delivers a strong album that should easily do well in the Italian market, but also the regular melodic rockfans will like this band a lot. One more highlight I want to mention is the semi ballad Le Tue Risposte. The Rasmus and Sunrise Avenue are perhaps the best comparisons, but judge for yourself at:


(Points: 8.2 out of 10)


Waste Pipes 'Fake mistake' (Independent/Atomic Stuff Promotion)


Formed in highschool in the city of Rivoli, the band Waste Pipes has built up a reputation through the years and already released quite a few albums before this new one Fake mistake. Musically this is pure rock and roll, with influences from all kinds of rockbands, but the Hellacopters, D.A.D., The Cult and Vollbeat are definitely bands of whom you can clearly hear a lot in the songs of Waste Pipes. Stay the night is a deadly catchy 80s inspired uptempo melodic rocker in the classic LA style, but also reminding of Vollbeat's Lola Montez, while The loser song is very much akin to The Cult. This is what rock and rollm is all about and Waste Pipes are doing it very well, so go check them out if you're starting to become interested, then just go to:


(Points: 8.0 out of 10)


No Man Eyes 'Cosmogony' (Diamonds Productions)


Formed out of the ashes of Graveyard Ghost, a band that released an album in 2007, No Man Eyes from the Genoa area in Italy now releases their 2nd album with Cosmogony. They play typical Italo melodic power metal, yet instrumentally also with influences from thrash and death metal, speeding up the tempo quite a bit sometimes. However, the clean vocals of singer Fabio Carmotti and the melodies make it still a recommended band for fans of classic melodic power metal a la Labyrinth, Skylark, Vision Divine, Trick Or Treat and such. Not groundbreaking, but still nice to listen to, but it's best to judge for yourself at:


(Points: 7.1 out of 10)


Rene Benton 'Xpressions too!!!! (Short storeeez)' (Floodgate Entertainment/Polymath PR)


Guitarist Rene Benton comes out of Omaha, Nebraska, USA and has already played with some well respected musicians and is now releasing his 2nd album Xpressions too!!!! (Short storeeez). His first album saw besides Rene on guitar, the likes of bassist Troy Johnson and drummer Todd Roberson; both known for their work with Michael Lee Firkins, former Ratt frontman Stephen Pearcy and their own instrumental powerhouse JRZ System. Now on his new album Xpressions too!!!! (Short storeeez) he is helped by bassists Philip Bynoe (Steve Vai/Nuno Bettencourt/Mark Boals) and Kelly Conlon (Death/Monstrosity/Azure Emote), drummers Atma Anur (Greg Howe/Cacophony/Vinnie Moore/Jason Becker) & Paul Vowell (Radioactive Chickenheads/Green Jelly) and Funk guitar legend Charlie Singleton(Cameo) and a lot more musicians. The result is shredding instrumental neo-classicial guitar virtuoso hardrock/metal in the style of Tony MacAlpine, Cacophony, Jason Becker... The production is a little bit rough, but thankfully the included music is of a very high level, with many highlights, such as the wonderful Clone theory and This is life. Any fan of instrumental guitar shredding madness will fall in love with this record. Go check it out at:


(Points: 8.1 out of 10)


Chris Brommage 'End of empire' (Independent/Canada Import)


Canadian singer/songwriter Chris Brommage was kind enough to sent me his album End of empire, which is a very strong singer/songwriter album that echoes Sting and Paul Simon here and there. Chris has a great voice, perfectly suitable for his kind of laid-back singer/songwriter music that also clearly shows influenceds from World Music. Helped by Paul Kitchen on guitar and John McCreath on drums, the album has a full sound, although quite a lot songs are acoustic tingled. 10 songs are included and here and there things get a little rockier (The philosophy of Kardashian) a la Eddie Vedder, but most of the time it is calm singer/songwriter based, with lyrics that sometimes deal with political issues. Hear it for yourself at:


(Points: 7.9 out of 10)


Tim Houlihan 'Another orion' (Peatcart Music/Hemifran)


Out of Minnesota comes singer/songwriter Tim Houlihan, who on his latest album is assisted by Kevin Bowe, who has written and produced songs for Jonny Lange, Etta James and Joe Cocker. He produced the record and together with Tim's long-time collaborator, Todd Lester and several other musicians, Tim recorded this very strong new record titled Another orion. James Taylor, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, Venice, Jackson Browne,Poco, The Byrds and many others come to mind while listening to the album. Starting off with a pure country tune (I get lonesome, too) that also echoes The Eagles a bit, the album gets more uptempo rocking during following track Send me back to you. What is crystal clear are the vocals of Tim, because he has got a fantastic melodic clean voice a la Steve Lukather (just listen to the beautiful song Going to the country). His music is mostly singer/songwriter based, with also influences from country, westcoast and even pure classic AOR/melodic rock (the uptempo What's gonna happen to me, a fantastic tune that is definitely the absolute highlight of the album!). A song like Another Orion sounds dangerously close to Venice actually, a beautiful laid-back singer/songwriter pop/rock meets westcoast based tune. The uptempo Beneath the surface of the well is more rocking again, reminding a bit of Bruce Springsteen/Tom Petty/Neil Young... We are heading into classic 1970s AOR/Westcoast with the song Some kind of mystery that recalls the days of America, Player and Little River Band, including those beautiful harmonyvocals. The remaining 3 songs are Fair Retreat (nice uptempo country pop crossover), Somebody Talk to Jesus (sorta funky tune) and Is It Ever Okay? (great semi-ballad, pop/rock/aor ish a la Mark Spiro meets Venice). Quite a surprise this release, very much recommended to fans of mentioned bands (especially Venice!), or so to speak typical American melodic pop/rock music. Check out more on Tim at: and


(Points: 8.7 out of 10)


Odyssea 'Storm' (Diamonds Productions/Italy Import)


In 2004 the Italian band Odyssea released their debut album Tears In Floods, which did not make a huge impact looking back, because it took 12 years before a follow-up is released. However, Storm is ready and I have to say that it is quite a joyful record. The band is formed around guitarist Pier Gonella (Necrodeath, Mastercastle, Vanexa, ex-Labyrinth), who wrote many of the songs with vocalist Roberto Tiranti (Wonderworld, ex-Labyrinth, ex-Vanexa), but besides Roberto and Pier there is a huge list of guest musicians including the likes of Alessandro Del Vecchio (Edge Of Forever, Hardline, Revolution Saints, Silent Force, Eleventh Hour etc), Alex De Rosso (Dokken, Steve Lukather), Giorgia Gueglio (Mastercastle) and Mistheria (Bruce Dickinson, Rob Rock) and countless others from the metal scene. The result is a pure Italo Power Metal album with strong melodies and a sound as if it was still 1999. Sometimes we get to hear very strong melodies (Understand, Freedom, Fly), which are a wet dream for fans of classic Labyrinth, but also there are a few less interesting tunes that also don’t have the legendary Roberto Tiranti on vocals, while we also can hear some instrumental pieces like Apocalypse part 2. Ice is a duet with a female singer and is a great melodic hardrock tune a la Kiske/Sommerville. Concluded, the guitarwork is of course excellent, the melodies of the songs are memorable, with great vocals of mr. Labyrinth, Roberto Tiranti and so we have a great quality album for sure, which is highly recommended to fans of Labyrinth, although the production could have been a bit better I’m afraid. Now it sounds like a record from 15 years ago, clearly in the style of Vision Divine and Labyrinth, but not reaching that incredible high level production wise. If you don’t mind that, then you have some great songs to listen to. Check out more at:


(Points: 8.0 out of 10)


Lee Aaron 'Fire and Gasoline' (Big Sister Records/Canada Import)


Fire and gasoline is the new album of the legendary Canadian singer Lee Aaron and after all these years, she is back rocking again. Together with engineers Ben Kaplan (Mother Mother, Hedley) and vocal engineer/keyboard guru John Webster (Bon Jovi, Aerosmith, The Cult), she recorded one of her finest record in ages. She started life as the Metal Queen back in the early 1980s, changed to AOR in the mid-late 80s, turned poprock and blues later on, while in the 90s and 00s she became active as jazz performer. She did everything at a high level, but it was about time she started to rock again and that’s why we have Fire and gasoline. Opener Tom Boy is the only slight let-down, as this a very simple teenage poprocker, but following tracks are much better thankfully. Titletrack Fire And Gasoline is a slow bluesy rocker, followed by Wanna Be (a catchy poppy punky uptempo rocker, nice little pop hit chorus actually a la early Blondie mixed with The Runaways and featuring a rather cool Talk dirty to me guitar riff), Bitter Sweet (southern midtempo AOR ballad, great song, fantastic vocals of Lee, classic style with 1980s touch), Popular (1990s uptempo rocker a la Alannis Morrisette), 50 Miles (good slow bluesy semi-rockballad), Bad Boyfriend (nice poppy uptempo altrocker), Heart Fix (another bluesy semi rockballad a la Alannah Myles, Chrissy Steele, Darby Mills and such), Nothing Says Everything (nice midtempo AOR ballad), If You Don't Love Me Anymore (one of the absolute highlights, a lovely relaxing 1970s based AOR tune with nostalgic feeling, Heart ish meets Fleetwood Mac) and closing track is Find The Love, which is a nice semi melodic rockballad. In the end, this is a very diverse album, with all kinds of styles. You will not find Metal Queen ish material here, because the material is lighter, but it rocks definitely and features Lee’s excellent vocals. Especially towards the end of the album there’s some great melodic rock orientated to be found. Definitely worth checking out Lee’s finest album in 20 years! Check out more at:


(Points: 8.1 out of 10)


Blackfoot Gypsies 'Handle it' (Plowboy Records/Teenage Head Music)


Blackfoot Gypsies are an American two-piece rock band from Nashville, Tennessee, United States. Their music is influenced by blues, punk rock, southern rock, soul, Americana and country, which means this is an all-American traditional rockband in the style of countless others. The Black Crowes and The Rolling Stones are clear comparisons a lot of times, but if we go through the tracklisting we can see all these influences from the traditional American music genres come alive on their 2nd album Handle it, which starts with Scream My Name, which is a heavy uptempo rocker. This first track is followed by the slower swamp-Americana tune Pork Rind, the slow swamp-bluesy rocker Under My Skin, Too Bad (great uptempo rock n roll a la The Stooges, Rolling Stones), Spent All My Money (calm campfire Americana), In Your Mind (one of the best songs, a nice midtempo rocker), Dead On The Road (almost boogie woogie rocker), Snake Charmer (Garage Rock), So Be It (great uptempo rock n roll like Rolling Stones again) and the album closes nicely with Call Me After Midnight (a Stones ish slow rocker). All together a dirty mean raw bluesy grittier sound of the 1960s can be heard on the Blackfoot Gypsies album, which also reveals distorted garage rock meets bluesy Black Crowes/Stones ish influences. Without a doubt, a band that will live feel very good and natural, while the record itself is a recommended piece to fans of traditional classic American Rock with the influences of Americana and Blues. More info at:


(Points: 8.2 out of 10)


Adam Eckersley Band 'The second album' (Independent/Teenage Head Music)


The Australian band The Adam Eckersley Band is formed around Adam Eckersley of course, who sings and plays guitar. Adam played with the McClymonts for a while (a band we reviewed a long time ago!) and together with Scott Greenaway - Bass & Backing Vocals, Benny Elliot - Drums & Backing Vocals, "Arizona" Dan Biederman - Hammond Organ & Keys and Duncan Toombs - Guitar, Banjo & Backing Vocals, he recorded now the follow-up to his debut album The first album from 2013. That record immediately put Adam on the Australian music map and now there’s the follow-up, which is simply titled The second album (when it is that easy why would you make it difficult to come up with a good title for your album!!!). The result is a very strong record that just sounds incredible from start to finish. It could only use some more rock perhaps, but especially the vocals of Adam are truly amazing and make the difference compared to a lot other records in this genre. This guy can sing like the best, with a soulful touch, he reminds me of cross between Paul Carrack, Johnny Van Zant and Chris Daughtry. The music is a mix of country, southern rock and a little westcoast, reminding quite a few times of the legendary Lynyrd Skynyrd, especially during such great southern rockers like Talk About Love, Took That Woman and Good Night. Most of the other songs are a little lighter, but nevertheless pretty damn good. Opener Live On is a great semi rocker with picture perfect soulful vocals, while Devils Lullaby is a lovely semi ballad, but the best song has got to be Wheels, being a fantastic uptempo aor/westcoast semi poprocker with very catchy melodies. The other songs are Comes A Time (a calm tunem, duet with a female singer), For You (another calm tune), Mocha (uptempo bluegrass/southern rock), Lost Time (calmer semi southern rock ballad) and Hey Little Daughter (a calm acoustic piece). Adam is a terrific singer and the material on the 2nd album is a pleasure to listen to and so I can easily recommend it to anyone to check out at:


(Points: 8.7 out of 10)


Jim Menzel Project 'Midnite shadows' (Independent/USA Import)


Out of Minneapolis we have the Jim Menzel Project, which is a veteran band formed around musicians whom have been playing music for over several decades, but besides playing covers they also create originals, which are now pressed onto a CD. The band’s key members are guitarist/songwriter Jim Menzel and female singer Danette Daniels. The music itself is quite basic American Classic Rock’n’roll with a Bluesrock touch a lot of times, but the guitarwork is very appealing and especially the vocals by Danette are really fantastic, so the two combined make it a very fine record to listen to. 12 songs are included in total and as their bio mentions Susan Tedeschi, Bad Company, Marshall Crenshaw as influences, I think you will understand what the direction of the material is heading into. Without a doubt, the song Train is the best song on offer here, being a great groovy bluesy hardrocker. Danette is really a great powerful singer and I’ll bet with some more diversity in the material and perhaps a production with a higher budget, the Jim Menzel Project could definitely deliver a sensational record. Nevertheless, they are still worth checking out and are clearly better than the standard independent band. Check it out for yourself at: and


(Points: 7.8 out of 10)


Imperial Highway 'Imperial Highway' (Independent/USA Import)


Imperial Highway is an experimental recording alternative project of West Coast based musicians Mark Loftin and Duke Doubleu. Their same titled debut album Imperial Highway is a trip through the underground sound, clearly revealing influences from The Velvet Underground, Iggy Pop, Sonic Youth, The Strokes, Brian Eno, The Zombies and late 60's Rolling Stones. When listening to the 12 included tracks, songs like Running to Nowhere, Last I've Heard and Rusty dog are more or less pure noisy altrockers that sound like a cross between R.E.M., Nirvana and Sonic Youth. It’s best to check out this band for yourself at:


(Points: 7.4 out of 10)


James Carothers 'Honky tonk land' (Independent/USA Import)


Country…. A style which you either hate or love, but through the years many times real country easily slipped into mainstream crossover countrypop for the masses. Every now and then we have a real pure country artist who stays true to the genre and James Carothers from Nashville happens to be one of them, releasing a record that easily touches the style created in the past by Waylon Jennings, Vince Gill and Johnny Cash. 8 songs can be found on Honky Tonk Land, and songs like New Country Singers, Mississippi Clay and Honky Tonk Land are true back-to-basic real country tunes in the style of mentioned artists. James started as a rock singer and makes a nice comment about it in his bio, stating that "I had actually tried singing Rock when I was a teenager, but I soon figured out that my voice was made for Country, that I should be singing Johnny Cash instead of Iron Maiden." And he does that with pride and joy on this great pure country album, which you can check out at:


(Points: 8.0 out of 10)


Sidewinder 'Sidewinder/My country (Independent/USA Import)


Formed all the way back in 1984, the southernTexas based band Sidewinder is definitely one to check out if you're a fan of classic melodic hardrock/metal in the style of Rail, Fifth Angel, Leatherwolf, Dokken, Heir Apparent, etc. etc. Founded by guitarist/vocalist David Valdez and drummer/vocalist Paul Pederson, the band's line-up changed quite a bit through the years, but bassist, Rey Ybarra is now their current member to complete this trio. Without a doubt, what we get to hear on the 2 CDs that were sent to me is of an incredible high level, sometimes easily reaching the high level of afforementioned bands. My country is a complete new record, although released in 2012, but the same titled Sidewinder is actually a re-release of their original 1989 release. On the same titled record from 2014 there's some great powerhouse uptempo melodic hardrock/metal included here, with such great tunes like Breakaway, Flying high, Rock for the love (best song, lovely guitarwork and deadly catchy chorus to sing-a-long to) and I believe. Sounding for some a bit outdated and cliche tingled in a pure 80s mode, the fans of classic 80s US Melodic Metal will absolutely go wild when hearing this band. Vocally high-pitched most of the time (early Queensryche/Crimson Glory ish), flashy shredding guitarwork from start to finish and thunderous drums make the overall sound also very close to the classic Kuni records Jeff Scott Soto recorded 28-30 years ago. The My country album is actually also in the classic 80s style, with such fantastic uptempo melodic hardrock tunes like Lost inside a dream, Take my dreams and Strangers in the night. The production is better and it sounds a little less dated for some I think, but as already mentioned who cares, because these Texan guys are bringing some serious classic 80s US Melodic Hardrock/Metal. More info at:


(Points: 8.3 out of 10)


Le Folli Arie 'Le Follie Arie' (Independent/Italy Import)


The Milan, Italy based band Le Folli Arie was formed in 2012 and are focused on playing prog-pop, which is partly influenced by classic 70s Italian prog PFM, Banco di Mutuo Soccorso, Area and well-known progacts like Yes, Genesis and Porcupine Tree…, but with a modern pop approach to make it all sound a little less complex. The line-up consists of Simone Corazzari: lead vocals and guitars, Massimiliano Masciari: bass and steel drum, Marco Antonio Cerioli: keyboards and vocals and Francesco Meles: drums and percussions. Their same titled debut album is the result and although one can hear prog elements in the instrumental parts, the music is most of the time very melodic rock orientated. In fact, Salto nel buio and Quello che ho are 2 great semi melodic rockers that remind me a lot of such legendary Italian melodic rockacts like Dhamm/Oro if anyone can remember them. As you can see, the band is singing in the Italian language, which isn’t a problem at all, because the sound is melodic and clean, with some very strong vocals and quite rocking as well, American orientated, but still typical Italian, especially during the ballads. Besides melodic rock and prog influences, there is a huge variety of styles to be heard, such as the funky On da bridge or the Latin ish Fuori!. Quite poppy are then again the songs Bellezza and Non è facile. The best part of the CD starts with Il giardino della mia follia (a fantastic semi melodic rock (ballad), rocking and quite close to Dhamm, featuring a great guitarsolo,really a lovely tune!), followed by Mentre tu cadi (acoustic start a la Venice, but then quite rocking after a while) and Alien's trip (the first of 4 English sung tracks, a great semi melodic rocker). Definitely a high quality record with some beautiful created music that you can put on anytime. More at:


(Points: 8.2 out of 10)


Andalusia Rose 'First stone Vinyl LP' (Glimmerhawk Music/USA Import)


Out of the San Francisco Bay Area comes Andalusia Rose, a band formed around Wendy Lee Gadzuk - Vocals, guitar, Jeff Vengeance – Bass/Guitar and Paul Jarvis – Drums. They have been influenced by everything between the 1960s and 1990s, from rock to metal to blues to delta to gospel to whatever comes to mind musically speaking which was created in those decades. They were kind enough to sent me their 2nd EP First stone on vinyl and I must say that the included music is indeed rerminding me a lot of bands from the long but never forgotten golden era of music. I can mention all kinds of bands, because there are quite a lot similarities notable, such as Jefferson Airplane, Shocking Blue, Devil’s Blood, 70s Heart and such, but Andalusia Rose is creating their own kind of music in which rock, gospel, doom metal and blues are melted into one exciting sound. The vinyl record sounds very good and especially side B is exciting and offering some great material. Destroyer is by far the finest song on the album, a superb piece of classic rock meets blues meets doom metal as if Blue Oyster Cult, Jefferson Airplane and Black Sabbath had a child that started this wonderful band called Andalusia Rose. Although most of the songs are rock orientated, there are also influences from the already mentioned gospel, blues and even soul genres. This makes the band a very interesting act to check out and I am quite positive that in the future we can welcome even stronger release of this band. Meanwhile, check them out at:


(Points: 8.1 out of 10)


TJ Magee 'More' (Independent/USA Import)


Only 4 songs are included on the EP of singer/songwriter TJ Magee, but the quality of the album is remarkable for an independent release. TJ has got a great mature voice and without a doubt, if she’s lucky she can easily breakthrough. Situated in Nashville since 2013, she met a lot of musicians, with whom she is working now and More is already her 3rd album. The album starts with Him, a catchy sweet uptempo poprocker, radio ready for the modern times and sounding like a mix between Florence and the Machine and the more commercial Paramore. Mine follows and is a nice duet, melodic and Americana orientated, kinda like The Common Linnets. Know is a calmer piano ballad like Adele meets Birdy and closing track More is a great strong pop ballad. A high quality release with lovely perfect clean vocals, that is what this is all about and TJ has a bright future ahead of her. More at:


(Points: 8.2 out of 10)


Human Zoo 'My own God' (Fastball Music)


My own God is album number 4 of the German band Human Zoo, whom started in 2004 and have meanwhile built up a good reputation in their music genre, which is typical German melodic rock with a retro 80s touch. Comparable to Pink Cream 69, Subway, Bonfire, Hotwire, Casanova and such, this band is delivering a new quality release with a big production. The cool thing is the saxplayer in their line-up, which happens to be an old Subway member (Boris Matakovic), so it is not that rare comparing Human Zoo to Subway! Although the band’s lead singer Thomas"Seeler" Seeburger has a clear accent, the sound of the band is catchy and highly recommended to fans of mentioned bands. Opener One Direction is a slightly standard rocksong, but up next is Cry Baby Cry, which is a great catchy cliche tingled uptempo melodic rocker with big anthemic chorus, reminding of Bonfire in their heydays! Love Train taps out of Firehouse ish big time early 90s melodic hardrock, while A Day To Remember is a very nice calmer semi ballad. My Own Illusion is a big midtempo melodic rocker, with lovely saxwork and NSA is Gotthard/Shakra ish uptempo MHR. Like A Bitch is another nice cliche tingled uptempo melodic rocker, while 4U is standard rock. Solitaire follows in the Firehouse style of 1991 again, Wave Your Flag is a great uptempo calmer melodic rocker with a nice saxsolo, reminding me a lot of Maxime (if anyone can remember them!) and the CD closes with Reminds Me Of You, an acoustic ballad with great female vocals, so this is a duet. As you can see, the album offers mostly big time melodic hardrock, somewhere between Bonfire, Subway, Autograph and Firehouse, although with the exception of the song Cry baby cry, it is not of that incredible high level, but still recommended to check out if you’re a fan of that genre! More at:


(Points: 8.2 out of 10)


KT 'Lying, Crying and Dying' (Independent/USA Import)


KT stands for Kenneth E. Tucker Sr, an American multi-instrumentalist/singer/ songwriter who sent me his record Lying, crying and dying. It has a retro feeling and due to the use of the drumcomputer it has a clear 80s vibration, reminding me a bit of Ray Parker Jr. somehow. Afraid of love is definitely the best song on the album, because this is nice westcoast/aor, with even a retro 70s feeling and also the 80s sounding If I Had a Chance is a nice song to check out, but overall I have to say that I miss a bit “power” in the material. Not saying it is bad what we get to hear, but some work needs to be done to make it sound bigger, as now it is sounding quite thin. Nevertheless, check out KT at:


(Points: 6.5 out of 10)


Soul Image 'The whole universe' (Soul Image Music/Fastball Music)


Founded in 2005, the Regensburg/Germany based band Soul Image is formed around singer/songwriter Robert Eberl. Their latest album is titled The whole universe, an album combining the best of Gothic Rock, Electro and Melodi Hard/Heavy Rock. Opener Never Enough is definitely the finest song on offer here, a big sounding melodic rocktune with keys and strong harmonyvocals during the catchy chorus, yet with a slight modern touch as well, sorta like Him/The Rasmus, but more electro as well. It is the most melodic rock sounding tune, as the rest of the album goes more into either Gothic or Electro-poprock, which is all done at an incredible high level, but there’s even more diversity going on here. Raining Blood and Change The World for example are very nice almost proggish ballads in the Everon style, so another different style than for example the Gothic Rock of Heaven Above (Sisters Of Mercy and The Mission style) or the Electro of The Whole Universe and My Machine. Closing track Forever is even close to Eurovision dance! Other interesting tracks are Fall In Love Again (great tune, catchy 80s, even a bit Work of Art, but then with goth vocals) and Isolation (Progressive Metal with Goth influences, like Vandenplas meets Sisters Of Mercy). Conclusion is that Soul Image is a Gothic/Electro Rockband, yet with an enormous diversity as well going on, because the songs itself also reveal influences from melodic rock and progressive rock/metal. Interesting for open-minded music fans, then go to:


(Points: 8.2 out of 10)


Candlebox 'Disappearing in airports' (Eternal Sound Records/Gordeon)


Well, well, well, what do we have here then! A sensational new album from the legendary American band Candlebox. This band was extremely popular in the USA back in the 1990s, selling millions of records, but they went on hiatus in 2000, although since 2006 they are active again at a slightly smaller scale. They aren’t selling the numbers from their early days anymore when a new album is released, but this new record Disappearing in airports, which is their 6th album, this could well become a memorable release. The band’s current line-up is Kevin Martin – vocals, Dave Krusen – drums, Mike Leslie – lead/rhythm guitar, Brian Quinn – lead/rhythm guitar and Adam Kury – bass. Kevin is such an amazing lead singer, he easily blows away most of the major rock stars with his incredible range. The album is loaded with amazing catchy choruses and after a few songs you know that this is one of those albums you want to play over and over again! The guitarwork of Mike and Brian is also wonderful and the material balances nicely between rock and hardrock, with melodic rock ambitions, it sounds a bit like a mix between Foo Fighters and Three Doors Down, so much more melodic and song orientated than their 1990s work. Production was in hands of Carson Slovak and Grant McFarland (August Burns Red, Everclear, Rivers of Nihl) and the album starts with Only Because of You (a fantastic opener, beautiful semi/midtempo melodic rocker with emotional vocals, excellent melodies, laid-back and haunting, just amazing tune, U2 and Kings Of Leon wishes they would write such a song!). Followed by Vexatious, this is a fantastic typical modern American melodic rocker, an anthem like Shinedown/Three Doors Down of course, but the wonderful vocals make the difference and basically this is a song that could be HUGE!!! Up next are Supernova (catchy kicking chorus again! this is how modern melodic rock needs to sound like, let's all sing-a-long), Alive at Last (fantastic AOR/Melodic rockballad with a great guitarsolo), I've Got a Gun (nice midtempo rocker), I Want It Back (ok midtempo tune with a nice chorus), The Bridge (great catchy uptempo melodic rocker with a lovely guitarsolo, like Foo Fighters going for a more melodic route), Spotlights (great bluesy rockballad, a little like The Black Crowes), Crazy (great midtempo melodic heavy rocker), Gods Gift (a bit more aggressive Foo Fighters style), Keep on Waiting (ok rocker) and closing track All that we got, which happens to be an European bonustrack, a slowtempo melodic rocker with a good beat, sounding a little bluesy, but very melodic and catchy again! What more to say about this album? Well, it could become a ‘classic’ definitely, as it sounds massive and especially during the beginning it has all the ingredients to become a pure classic rockalbum in the future. Don’t miss this release!


(Points: 8.9 out of 10)


Magic Dance 'Haunting me' (Independent/USA Import)


From out of of nowhere really!!! This is how AOR used to sound like 30 years ago and how it is not made anymore, but Magic Dance from New York is the big exception to the rule. This band is more or less a one man’s act, because Jon Siejka basically does everything on his own. He worked with audio engineer Jarek Musil and asked Tim Mackey to do a guitarsolo, but basically Magic Dance is Jon’s project. He released some albums before, but those were moving into an electro/synthpop direction. Haunting me however is definitely 80s AOR all the way! I might have said it before with other releases from other independent acts that came my way, but Magic Dance is definitely as close to 1983-1985 AOR as you will ever get nowadays. It’s a pity only 4 songs are included here, because you want to hear more and more after hearing them. Opener Last Light is an instrumental in the best 80s movie tradition, AOR like Top Gun mixed with the first Asia. Following track Still Haunting Me is just… wow!!!!!!!!!!!! This song is really pure AOR the 1980s way, beautiful picture perfect uptempo AOR, with superstrong vocals, massive synths/keys and a deadly catchy chorus. When listening to this song, it reminds me so much of all those great unknown acts from the past, Synch, Cheater, Haywire, Agent, Aviator, Beau Coup, Cinema, Fortune (very much) etc. etc. Now this is how AOR should sound like, not the way some record labels out there want you to believe. A HUGE SURPRISE this Magic Dance and next track I Wanna Know continues the classic 83-85 US AOR style a la Fortune, but this one has a great guitarsolo as well (by Tim). Closing track Another Life is  midtempo 80s classic aor and incredible once again. I had no idea this was still possible, a new release containing the real early 80s AOR sound with all those ingredients we love so much about this music. It’s like Rocky 4, Asia, Journey and Fortune are reunited with each other to create new music in their own 30-year old traditions. If you care for this early-mid 80s keyboard/hookladen AOR style, you will absolutely go nuts when hearing this 4-tracks counting EP by Magic Dance! Fortune’s Thrill of it all is one of the finest AOR pieces ever written in this style, but Magic Dance moves exactly in this style, so who knows what more we can expect from this exciting New York based project. Check out all info at: and


(Points: 8.9 out of 10)


Red Storm 'Alert' (Echozone/Bob Media/Fireball Music)


The Polish band Red Storm is mixing Electro, Gothic and Melodic Rock and they feature a very good clean melodic singing female vocalist called Agnieszka Lesna. Their latest album Alert was produced by Ivan Muñoz (Atari Teenage Riot and Die Krupps) as John Fryer (major producer of new wave albums from 4AD to Depeche Mode). Although not really original, Red Storm does show a strong interesting sound that is lfted above the rest due to those superstrong vocals. Especially the songs Control (it's a melting pot, starts electronic, but gets rockier halfway, even a guitarsolo at the end and a great anthem actually, melodic midtempo piece) and Famous (nice uptempo electronic gothic rocker with dance influences, even reminding of Dalbello /Luba) are sounding very good, but the whole album offers nothing but quality music. Perhaps a little less electronic next time could help, but it’s best to check out this band for yourself at:


(Points: 7.9 out of 10)


Amy Gore and Her Valentines 'In love' (Space Lion Records/USA Import)


Already released in 2012, it now landed on my desk and I am glad it did, because this particular CD In love by Detroit based Amy Gore and Her Valentines is quite a strong record that combines fuzz (light) garage rock of the late 1960s with early 80s powerpop, with a typical female fronted rock chick approach (excellent vocals by Amy). The first 2 songs (Drivin' Around and Cadillac) of the 4th album In love of Amy are very good garage rockers that even remind a bit of The White Stripes. Just a dream is the absolute highlight here however, a deadly catchy bubblegum uptempo melodic poprocker in the style of early Pat Benatar mixed with a little bit of The Donnas/The Runaways and Dum Dum Girls. This record has radio airplay written all over the place and the powerpop of the early 80s is continued on the catchy Fine without you. And so the CD goes on and on, mixing mostly catchy polished radio powerpop/poprock tunes with slightly more garage rock kinda rougher material, but the main focus is definitely pretty commercial poprock orientated material in the best 1980 spirit. Imagine if Jack White and Pat Benatar would record an album together in a clear commercial catchy happy direction, then it could sound like this. There's also some The Pretenders meets Blondie to be heard here and there (I'm addicted and Diana), but the biggest surprise is the fantastic Shocking Blue cover Send me a postcard, while the 70s melodic poprock tune Remember me could easily become a big hit! Actually this is Amy's first real solo record, because her previous albums were released as part of the band Gore Gore Girls, with whom she has had quite reasonable success during the 2000s. And I miust admit it is a very fine debut, so I look forward to a followup, which hopefully will follow soon, as this album is now 4 years old at the time of writing. Definitely an album to check out if you're a fan of high quality female fronted rock. More info at:


(Points: 8.3 out of 10)


Blue Minded 'Seize the day' (Independent/The Rock Online)


Clearly influenced by 1980s catchy melodic pop/rock, this Dutch band Blue Minded is releasing their first full-length CD with Seize the day. Founded in 2012 by guitarist and composer Jörgen Koenen, the band released a mini-album in 2014, but they are now ready to conquer the world with this longplayer. Opener Love in motion shows right away that we are dealing with a quality band bringing us radio ready pop/rock in the style of The Outfield, Cutting Crew, Simple Minds, U2, The Police and such. Next track All in one starts almost as pure 80s symphonic AOR with the happy synths, also sounding a bit like Terra Nova if anyone remember them! The modest chorus of this song however is pure The Police meets neo-prog and as the CD continues I finally know what this band is reminding me of so much, because the 80s albums of the legendary Australian band Dragon or Hunter (remember Dreams of ordinary men) comes to mind constantly while listening to the material of Blue Minded, while a song like Move on has a strong For Absent Friends vibe, so I think you will now know where this is going to musically speaking. The guys can be proud, because Seize the day offers really good music with fantastic vocalwork (Call on me being one of the absolute highlights) and it is a pleasure to listen to the 12 included tracks. It's not all 80s notalgica, because Coldplay is also passing by on a few occasions when it comes down to their modern influences, but who cares, as after all what's most important is that Blue Minded offers a lot of potential material at an incredible high level, so make sure to check them out at:


(Points: 8.4 out of 10)


Jamie Michael 'Love and War' (Independent/USA Import)


Recorded in Los Angeles back in the 1980s I assume, American singer/songwriter Jamie Michael Durkin recorded most of the material on Love and war together with his mother Jannis and his little sister Christine, but it wasn’t officially released just recently, because Jamie sadly died tragically in a house fire. His mother cleaned up the tapes a few years ago, produced it as an album, so his music could be shared many years later via Although the production and sound quality is not really of a high level, the music and especially Jamie’s voice is quite interesting. Here we have a mix of pure 80s pop, heartland-poprock, aor and typical American classic rock, with vocals in the style of Benny Mardones, Michael Stanley, Robert Tepper, Bon Jovi and Bruce Springsteen. I’ll bet if it was still 1985, all the US labels would love to give this a major budget production. A total of 10 songs are included, starting with a couple of typical 80s slightly hi-tech poprock tunes (even recalling Duran Duran during I Wanna Tell You I Love You, Loving You Baby and Desert Storm), the album’s real highlights take off with War On the Streets, a very strong semi rocker with a pure early 80s aor/poprock ish sound that reveal Bruce Springsteen influences. In the same style we can find Surrender Your Heart, another very strong midtempo tune a la Benny Mardones/John Parr, so this is late 70s/early 80s aor/singer-songwriter poprock with also a great pure AOR guitarsolo. This must have been recorded somewhere back in 1982, as it captures that typical US major label style from that period. Prisoner of War is nice midtempo AOR with once again great vocals, while Don't Burn On Me Baby is uptempo aor/poprock the 1980s way, reminding me very much of Benny Mardones and Robert Tepper. I Thought You Loved Me is a duet with a female singer and this song recalls Patti Smith’s Because the night. I Can't Give Up is a semi rocker a la Bruce Springsteen, with interesting vocals and closing track Peace Flow follows that style. All together a great mixture of heartland-rock/classic rock with aor ish guitarsolos and killer vocals. This is high quality material that could have been huge in the mid 80s, without sounding too dated except for the 3 drum computer mentioned Duran Duran type of tracks that sound like they were recorded in 1988. If only the production would have been better and Michael had lived longer to record it all with a major budget, well then this could have been a huge sounding record. The potential was clearly present, Michael was blessed with an amazing voice, but sadly died way too young! Check out all at:


(Points: 7.8 out of 10)


Actual Villains 'Actual Villains' (Independent/USA Import)


Out of Cincinnati, Ohio comes Actual Villains, a band which is formed out of the ashes of post hardcore band Close to Home (Razor & tie / Artery Recordings). After the departure of the founding member Josh Wells, the ramining members of that band formed Actual Villains, whom are now releasing their same titled debut EP. Not really original musically speaking, because the Emo orientated melodic poprock is dangerously close to the zillion bands that took over the USA during the 00s, such as Taking back Sunday, Mayday Parade, Good Charlotte, etc. etc. , but nevertheless they are doing it very well and their EP sounds very professional. Songs like Lie to me and Cave in are very catchy uptempo melodic poprockers with that typical sweet Emo touch. There’s not that much variation, but fans of the mentioned genre and it’s bands will absolutely love this act, then go to:


(Points: 7.9 out of 10)


Susan Aquila 'Miss conduct' (Original Kitchen Records/USA Import)


There’s a lot to tell about Susan Aquila, a singer/electric violin player from New York City, because she is a double Grammy Nominee for Best New Artist and Best Rock Album of the year for her previous release Broken Angel, has performed and recorded the world over with Metallica, Paul McCartney, Elton John, Billy Joel, Beyonce, Britney Spears, Kanye West, Alicia Keys, John Mayer, Josh Groban, Roger Daltry, Steven Tyler, Busta Rhymes, Erykah Badu, Janelle Monae, Jay Z, Barry Manilow, and a lot more. Without a doubt, an interesting and impressive list, although we have to judge her on her own material. Miss Conduct is her third collaboration with composer/guitarist Rob Tomaro and musically speaking it is typical 1980s Hardrock, nothing more, nothing less. The production is quite excellent, but the material could use some more diversity.  Most of the songs go in the same direction, which is uptempo 80s hardrock, reminding of Wendy O Williams, the last Lita Ford record and Joan Jett. Especially vocally Susan has a real raw tone in her voice, sounding like Joan Jett. So it is not a polished record and I would have loved to hear more of her electric violin work, because that is now a bit put aside. Songs like Lightnin' and Why? are catchy enough to stick with us, with the latter having an aor/melodic rock touch. Sooper Gurl reminds me so much of Jodi Bongiovi, but also comparisons to Doro are possible, but the best comparison is definitely Lisa Dominique. In case you’re starting to become interested in this 80s female fronted hardrock album, then go to:


(Points: 7.7 out of 10)


Annique 'Heads up' (Asphalt Tango Records/German Import)


Heads up is the wonderful debut album of singer/songwriter Annique from Essex, UK, who has released the CD on the German label Asphalt Tango Records. Mixed by Grammy Award-winning producer Helik Hadar, the album combines the best of World Music, Jazz, Rock and Mature Pop, which results in a perfect own sound. Besides several guest musicians, the line-up consists of multi-instrumentalist Koby Israelite (drums, percussion, keyboards, guitars, accordion, clarinet and electric bass) and bass players Yaron Stavi, Don Chandler and Neil Charles. Annique has a very strong sensational voice, which she can easily use in different tones, making it all sound very natural and diverse. As mentioned, the music is also very diverse and if we look at the album’s highlights we need to mentioned that there are some great Caro Emerald ish tunes (Love of My Life, Loved Not Understood (with 1930s vibe) and No Man's Land), some amazing slow jazzy singer-songwriter pop (Never Forget the Times, sounding like Adele), swinging jazzy flamengo (Fallin’), even a bit rock in the shape of London's Burning (one of the highlights, very strong midtempo melodic rocker, excellent vocals, more songs like this time on a future record please!!!!!! impressive!!!!!!!!!!!!!) and a lot of calmer singer/songwriter pieces, such as Far from Home, Safe as Stone and So Many C**ts [Explicit]. Concluded, a great diverse album with lovely vocalwork that touches sometimes Ella Fitzgerald or Dusty Springfield, but then again Annique also has an own identity, but during some songs will people likewise also compare her to Adele, but as mentioned, musically speaking Annique is more interesting. Check our more at:


(Points: 8.3 out of 10)


Sundown Delay 'Rubik's cube is fighting back' (Independent/Sweden Import)


Quite an interesting band from Sweden we have here, mixing 1960s psychedelica rock with early 80s nwobhm and adding some cool melodies. 6 tracks can be found on the band’s debut mini album that will also be released on vinyl by the way. The sound is good and Sundown Delay can easily be seen as a great newcomer band, with a bright future. They consist of Svante Widerström: vocals & guitars, Nanne Westerholm: drums, Björn Ericsson: Bass and Leif Sjöberg playing the trumpet on 1 song. The album starts with Vote for U.P.P. (good 1960s influenced groovy psychedelic rock a la The Kinks/Jimi Hendrix), which is followed by Slaveboy (great uptempo 70s hardrock a la Thin Lizzy, with a very catchy melodic chorus, even a bit hit potential!), Blå kiosken (do something about it) (slightly weaker late 60s rocker), December (uptempo Blue Oyster Cult ish rocker, melodic and mysterious, but pretty good!), Clever dog (groovy 70s stoner/hardrock a la Black Sabbath) and closing track Almost a lovesong (uptempo 60s happy rocker, The Kinks again). All together a recommended little album that shows we are dealing with an interesting band that will probably become bigger, as they have got the ingredients one needs to stay above the rest. More at: 


(Points: 8.1 out of 10)


Toronzo Cannon 'The Chicago way' (Alligator Records/USA Import)


Vocalist/guitarist Toronzo Cannon from Chicago is one of the greatest undiscovered blues musicians around nowadays and his latest album The Chicago way is his latest effort that basically screams to be heard by fans of classic blues rock in the style of Buddy Guy, Albert Collins, Hound Dog Taylor, B.B. King, Albert King, Freddie King, J.B. Hutto, Jimi Hendrix, etc. etc. He is a superb guitarplayer, making the guitar sing with an endless string of melodies, but thankfully he can also sing quite well, so this makes him a highly recommended musician to check out. He already released quite a lot of albums in the past, but this is his first release on the respected US label Alligator Records. No matter which one of the 11 included songs you listen to, they are all sounding sensational, from opener The Pain Around Me to Fine Seasoned Woman to Midlife Crisis to closing track I Am, it’s all picture perfect heavy blues rock with the focus on those beautiful haunting melodic guitarsolo’s in the style of the legendary BB King and Buddy Guy. Toronzo is assisted by Brother John Kattke on hammond B-3, piano and keyboards, Pete Galanis on guitar, Larry Williams on bass, Melvin “Pooky Stix” Carlisle on drums and several guest musicians. The Chicago way is one of those albums you put on and can’t stop listening, because this is how quality music needs to sound like. Check out all on Toronzo at:


(Points: 8.6 out of 10)


Curtis Salgado 'The beautiful lowdown' (Alligator Records/USA Import)


American singer/songwriter Curtis Delgado has been in the music business for 40 years now, first playing with The Robert Cray Band, then with Roomful Of Blues and later on as Curtis Salgado & The Stilettos, before going solo, although somewhere in between he also sang with Santana and even became part of the inspiration for the classic movie The Blues Brothers. Now in 2016 he releases a new solo-album titled The beautiful lowdown, a soulful bluesrecord that is diverse, but not always superstrong.  Higlights on the CD are Hard To Feel The Same About Love (old school soul/r&b, 60sstyle, pretty good, vocally not as good as his influences, but it sounds good), I Know A Good Thing (big stompin old school bluesy tune), Walk A Mile In My Blues (strong calmer Robert Cray ish melodic soul pop tune), Nothing In Particular (Little Bit Of Everyting) (soulful) and Simple Enough (nice reggea ish tune). Not nowhere near as good as for example Charles Bradley or Leon Bridges for example, but nevertheless nice to check out if you’re a fan of soulful bluesy r&b meets rock and roll. Check it out for yourself at:


(Points: 7.4 out of 10)


Darker Half 'Never surrender' (Fastball Music)


Darker Half is an Australian band whom released their 3rd album Never surrender already sometime ago. Recorded with Dave Hammer in Sydney and mastered at Fascination St Studios, Sweden by Tony Lindgren, the album sounds very impressive and quite huge. The music is cliché tingled, but it is definitely high quality melodic metal what we get to hear, instrumental sounding quite perfect (including shredding guitar by Jimmy Lardner-Brown) and the band has a great singer (Vo Simpson), who has an old school high pitched metal voice a la Rob Rock. All together a nice trip, with as highlights 3 (catchy faster uptempo like Lord), 6 (great solo) and 8. Although not really original, it is done very well and we can hear all kinds of similarities to classic 80s inspired US Power Metal acts such as Helstar, Iced Earth, Balance Of Power, Black Majesty, Brainstorm, Dungeon, Lizzy Borden, etc. etc. Recommended to fans of mentioned bands, more at:


(Points: 8.3 out of 10)


Camille Parkman 'Thrive' (Independent/Canada Import)


Now here we have a very strong Canadian Christian singer/songwriter who delivers a very impressive album titled Thrive. 10 songs are included and the music is actually pure AOR/Poprock meets singer/songwriter, sounding like a cross between Amy Grant, Margareth Becker and The Corrs. It might not sound original or adventurous, but what we get to hear is of an incredible high level and picture perfect sounding in it's genre. Camille has a beautiful perfect clean voice and the AOR melodies of the songs are memorable, no matter if it is a fantastic catchy uptempo tune like You've got this (hello The Corrs), the midtempo Ilse De Lange ish poprocker Here I am (Send me) or a lovely ballad like Yours alone. This is a highly recommended album if you want to hear crystal clear polished AOR/Pop/MOR in the traditional North American style, with the focus on memorable melodies. Check it out for yourself at:


(Points: 8.4 out of 10)


Trey Forbes 'The darkness of the light' (Independent/USA Import)


Multi-instrumentalist/singer/songwriter Trey Forbes sent me one of his CDs, which musically speaking is pretty much underground sounding rock/new wave in the style of Talking Heads. Don't expect clean vocals here, because Trey's voice isn't melodic, clean or perfect, but on the other hand he is doing his best to show his emotions through his songs. There’s a mix of ballads and rockers and everything in between, recommended to check out if you’re into alternative underground sounding new wave/rock. More at:


(Points: 6.8 out of 10)


Chile Colorado 'Chile Colorado' (Independent/USA Import)


The band Chile Colorado is not coming out of Chile or the US state of Colorado, but this band around guitarist/vocalist Ron Wright is from California and present us typical American Hardrock on their same titled album. 7 songs are included and it definitely rocks big time what we get to hear and despite the fact that vocally it is not all perfect sounding, the rocksound of the band has a sorta 70s hardrock touch, reminding me actually a bit of Moxy, Montrose and Van Halen, although not of that high level. Ron's guitarwok is very strong, but as mentioned, the vocals are sometimes a bit too much, making me remember of David Lee Roth quite a bit. If you're starting to become interested, then go to:


(Points: 7.3 out of 10)


White Horses 'Down to the water' (Independent/USA Import)


The British band/project White Horses is the artist name for the recorded music composed by Stuart Anthony Harris whose day job is a consultant designer working in Formula one. Together with several other musicians and vocalists John James Newman (who appeared on the BBC TV program The Voice) and Beccy Brenna (a professional session singer and vocal coach who has worked in the UK and Germany over the last 10 years), he recorded several albums as White Horses, including Down to the water and Soul on fire, which he sent to me. Without a doubt, this is high quality material what we get to hear, not only songwise, but especially the vocals are quite sensational. John James Newman sings most of the songs and he sounds like a cross between Paul Carrack and Peter Gabriel, while the music itself is a melting pot of all kinds of influences, although mostly it is situated around melodic clean pop/rock the way it needs to sound. If we look at some of the musicians whom appear, we need to add on percussion Fergus Gerrand (Sting, Peter Gabriel and Madonna), Damon Sawyer on the drums and Micky Moody (Whitesnake) on Slide guitar, while there are Orchestral arrangements by Julian Hinton (Seal). John and Damon also play in Marmalade (John’s father Sandy Newman has been the lead vocalist in Marmalade since the 1970’s!). Back to White Horses, we start with Down to the water that opens with The Can Can Man (a slow bluesy rocker), followed by Angelina (uptempo melodic acoustic rocker, strong vocals, kinda like Venice), The Bells Rang Out (semi ballad), Freedom (heavy groovy rocker), Down to the Water (calmer melodic tune), Dancing On the Sand (female vocals, very nice relaxing melodic tune), Sail Away (again fermale vocals, very strong, slow midtempo tune, melodic poprocker with groovy touch a la Alannah Myles), St. Lucian Skies (Bob Marley ish reggea tune, good stuff), On My Way Now (groovy pop/rock with acoustic guitar, melodic tune and very soulful as well, sorta Americana ish), Round and Round (superb Peter Gabriel ish vibe in the vocals, melodic semi rockballad, a little proggy, great tune, with very strong melodies, probably best song and can also be qualified as a beautiful prog ballad, more songs like this would also be cool, makes me think of Lonely Robot and Kino), Lonely Heart (acoustic ballad a la Paul Carrack) and closing track is Sleep Tight (beautiful acoustic ballad a la Peter Gabriel). A very diverse album and it all sounds pretty good, with awesome vocalwork and high quality musicianship, this is a highly recommended album to check out! The other album Stuart sent to me is the White Horses record Soul on fire that has a slightly more calmer laid-back 70s popstyle, but also sometimes rockier and a little simpler, but overall it is not that far away musically speaking from Down to the water. Starting with Going Home (a calmer sorta 70s westcoast America/Ace/Pilot ish classic pop sound is hearable here, very nice and melodic, also a bit sounding like Venice), the album is continued with I Want to Learn (vocally incredible, so much sounding like Lonely Robot and Peter Gabriel, slow midtempo melodic tune), Upside Down (another calmer 70s westcoast/pop tune a la America/Ace/Pilot), Soul On Fire (lovely uptempo melodic rocker), She's a Winner (groovy rocker), Another Way (nice rocker). Castles (another great uptempo melodic rocker with again those fantastic Peter Gabriel ish vocals), Let It Go (calmer perfect pop ballad, sweet but very nice, hit potential!), Light of the Moon (nice uptempo pure 70s poprocker), The Spy (slow tune), Great Alfred (strong and rockier, big fat sound, almost stoner rock!), Johanna (calmer ballad) and the instrumental outro White Horses. Quite a surprise this act and I can only say to you to check them out asap, because this is music that deserves to be heard by many more people. More at: and


(Points: 8.4 out of 10)


Catherine King 'Come back to me (Independent/USA Import)


Music will never disappear out of your life and that can also be said about Catherine King, a singer/songwriter from Boston, who graduated from Berklee College of Music in the late 80's with a degree in music education, but spent the next 15 years raising a family. However, in the 2000s she started her music career againa and recently she released a new mini-album titled Come back to me, which consists of 6 songs. Although mostly semi-acoustic based around Catherine’s guitar and vocals, she got help from Jon Evans (on Irish Bouzouki, Dobro, Pedal Steel, Bass, Electric Guitar, and Backing Vocals) and Liam Hogg, who played drums. Catherine has a SUPERB melodic voice that just sounds incredible, one of a kind, while the music is very relaxing folkish pop/rock, singer/songwriter based in a calmer 1970s style, with some beautiful melodies. Highlights are Come Back to Me, Boston Girl and especially Beautiful Toronto, but every song sounds really great. Catherine’s voice makes you want to keep listening over and over again, because she is that good and comparisons to Joan Baez are of course possible, but it’s best to judge yourself at:


(Points: 8.4 out of 10)


Shophonks 'Alone on the road' (Independent/German Import)


Shophonks is a new German band, formed around 3 young guys, who started in 2010 as a foursome, but eventually are now a 3-piece band whom recently released their debut album Alone on the road. They started as a coverband, but through the years they started to write their own songs, which can now be heard on this first record. Musically it is not bad at all, but on the other hand don't expect Shophonks to change the world (yet!). Nevertheless, the guys play decent rock/hardrock, mostly straight-forward, so a tip for a future album would be to include more diversity in the material. Songs like Time Machine, Madman's Story and About Someone are all good rockers that live will go down well. Check it out for yourself at:


(Points: 7.5 out of 10)


Ryan Carver 'Illusions of sanity' (Independent/USA Import)


80s Christian rock from Montana, USA is what Illusions of sanity is all about. White Heart and Stryper come up when listening to the 10 songs on the album of singer/songwriter/guitarist Ryan Carver. He isn’t the strongest vocalist, but during a few songs he used guest singers and then it sounds very good. Instrumental all is in shape here and despite the production is not as good as the mentioned acts, fans of 80s Christian melodic rock/hardrock a la David Zaffiro, White Heart, Degarmon&Key, Petra and such will be interested in checking out this release. If we look at some of the songs included here, we can mentioned Lost and Found (midtempo aor/melodic rock), Shine On (nice aor/melodic rocker), Thunder Roll (Cool melodic hardrock tune a la Stryper/Mass), Serenity (female vocals, typical modern female fronted indie/folk), Leap of Faith (Jay Cummins is the guest singer here and he has a great voice, more songs with him on vocals would be very interesting, song itself is the best one on the album, high quality melodic metal, 80s style with a great guitarsolo), Illusions of Sanity (Leigh Ann Marez is the female guest singer here, an acapella semi-acoustic guitar based melodic ballad) and Save Me (midtempo almost gothic sounding melodic heavy rocker like Delain). It’s best to check it out for yourself at:


(Points: 7.6 out of 10)


Split Sofa 'Thornby park' (Daisy Chain Records/UK Import)


UK based band Split Sofa is formed around five experienced musicians, who started this journey in the early 2000s and their latest album Thorby park is already their 7th release. The bandmembers played in all kinds of bands before Split Sofa, but eventually found themselves musically speaking at their peak in this band. Without a doubt, Thornby park is an impressive album that has a lot of 70s influences. It’s diverse, melodic, rocking and challenging with good vocalwork and strong memorable melodies in each every song, opening with 10,000 Light Years from the Sun, which is a great relaxing 70s Canterbury prog style tune a la Caravan and Pink Floyd, so this strong opening cut is basically typical British prog orientated. Next track Around my head is a more uptempo 70s progrocker, while the calmer prog a la Camel is hearable during the following 3 tracks (Higher Plane, Shelter from the Rain and Wonderful). The album continues with Thornby Park (catchy tune, even a bit symphonic rock orientated a la Kayak), Days so Long Ago (60s style tune, psychedelic Pink Floyd meets Procol Harum style), Fall Into a Feeling (uptempo 70s psychedelic rocker, even a bit Temples), Bended Knees (soulful 60s rocker, melodic and uplifting a la Pretty Things) and closing track is Through Dark Eyes (uptempo 70s hardrock, strong and different than the rest of the CD, sounding even a bit like classic Thin Lizzy!). All together a great album to check out at:


(Points: 8.2 out of 10)


Sailor Free 'Spiritual revolution part two' (Tide Records/Italy Import)


Formed way back in the early 1990s in Rome, Italy by four musicians (drummer Stefano Toni, bassist Alfonso Nini, guitarist Stefano Barelli and singer/keyboardist David Petrosino), releasing their debut in 1992 on the same label (Tide Records) as their new album Spiritual revolution part two, the band Sailor Free has been active in the music business for over 25 years now. This new record follows the band's third album The Spiritual Revolution (Part 1), which was released in 2012. Just like that record it is a concept album, inspired by J.R.R.Tolkien's Silmarillion and the Spiritual Revolution movement. The band’s line-up is still the same as all those years ago, but on this new album we can also hear Raimondo Mosci / drums, Cecilia Amici / backing vocals and Stefano Ribeca / saxophone. The music is interesting typical modern progressive rock a la Steven Wilson, Porcupine Tree and despite that incredible high level is not reached, Sailor Free does it very well, playing high quality progrock with great vocals in a massive sound/production. Highlights on the new album are The Maze of Babylon and The Fugitive, but as most concept albums you have to listen to it from start to finish and that is definitely no problem with this great record. Recommended to the progfans! More at:


(Points: 8.4 out of 10)


Dion Bayman 'Don't look down' (Independent/Australia Import)

He comes out of Australia and is basically doing everything on his own. Vocals, instruments, programming, writing, recording, producing, mixing and mastering, it is all done by Dion himself, so one can imagine that he is a talented musician, especially when you listen to his fabulous new album Don’t look down. He might be compared to Phil Vincent, who has been doing more or less the same the past 20 years, but Dion is better, because the 80s AOR/Melodic Rock he brings us sounds sensational from start to finish and sometimes reaches the incredible high level of the great legendary acts in the genre. The album has a very strong sound/production and basically everything sounds perfect here! It’s like we finally have a real independent artist doing great AOR/Melodic Rock the way it needs to be done, without sounding dated. Dion’s vocals are very good and the catchy hooks and big anthemic melodies in each of the 10 included tracks are sounding terrific. This is the kind of album the AOR fans have been waiting for, so this is a true wet-dream for anyone who likes picture perfect sounding AOR/Melodic Rock in the style of Velocity, David Victor, Phil Christian, Danny Danzi, Heaven's Edge, Night Ranger, Mitch Malloy's first, etc. etc. If you want a record that sounds like a cross between Phil Christian’s Big Mouth and Mitch Malloy’s debut record, then look no further, as this Dion Bayman record fits nicely in between those albums. If we run through the tracklisting, it all starts with One More Reason (uptempo melodic rock, classic Bryan Adams’ Reckless style meets the first Harem Scarem), followed by 24 Hours a Day (midtempo melodic rock a la Tyketto), Keep Coming Back (uptempo AOR, fantastic sing-a-long chorus, a wet dream for the fans AOR, reminds me of a cross between Rick Matthews and Phil Christian, AOR song of the year 2016?), For You (great semi ballad a la Mitch Malloy's first classic), This Time (big hookladen anthem uptempo melodic rock like Rick Springfield used to do in his early 80s prime time, a really lovely little tune), Had to Let You Know (another superb sing-a-long uptempo melodic rock anthem a la Atlantic meets very first Harem Scarem), Open Your Heart (semi ballad a la Mitch Malloy's first classic again), The Last One (pure Rick Springfield melodic poprocker), It's Only Love (nice semi melodic rocker a la Richard Marx) and closing track Before My Eyes (great AOR rocker in Stan Bush style). Although it might all sound cliché tingled and comparisons are all over the place, it is done so well that this record is a total must for fans of 80s AOR/Melodic Rock like only the Americans can make it (woepsie, he´s an Aussie!). Check out all on this sensational AOR musician at:

(Points: 8.7 out of 10)

Moreland & Arbuckle 'Promised land or bust' (Alligator Records/USA Import)


Out of Wichita, Kansas, USA comes Moreland & Arbuckle, a band which has been recording and releasing music since 2002 and promised land or bust is their latest affair. The band consists of Aaron Moreland ~ Guitar/Vocal, Dustin Arbuckle ~ Lead Vocal/Harmonica and Kendall Newby ~ Drums/Vocal. The music is gritty dirty mean heavy blues/roots-rock and especially live it will go down well. In fact, they have played hundreds of shows and have logged hundreds of thousands of road miles (recently replacing their van after driving it over 400,000 miles), performing in the United States, Canada and across Europe. In 2008 they spent 10 days in Iraq, playing for the troops. They've shared stages with ZZ Top, George Thorogood, Buddy Guy, Robert Cray and Los Lonely Boys. Actually this is the first time I get to hear their music and I must admit that it sounds impressive.


(Points: 8.2 out of 10)


Various Artists 'God don't never change: The songs of Blind Willie Johnson' (Alligator Records/USA Import)


Alligator Records has released a great All-Star Tribute To the legendary Blind Willie Johnson. These are newly recorded versions of the iconic slide guitarist/vocalist’s most seminal material, done by Tom Waits, Lucinda Williams, Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi, Cowboy Junkies, The Blind Boys Of Alabama, Sinéad O’Connor, Luther Dickinson, Maria McKee and Rickie Lee Jones. So we have here a list of well-respected musicians doing things at a very high level, so it is true tribute to one of the great guitarplayers, who recorded himself a total of 30 songs between 1927 and 1930 for Columbia Records. Now almost 90 years later, the world has changed a lot, but his influence remains, as through the years also a lot of rockacts covered Willie’s tunes, such as Led Zeppelin, Eric Clapton and Bob Dylan. Produced by Jeffrey Gaskill (producer of the twice Grammy-nominated compilation, Gotta Serve Somebody: The Gospel Songs of Bob Dylan), God Don’t Never Change: The Songs Of Blind Willie Johnson features the following songs:


1) The Soul Of A Man (Tom Waits)

2) It’s Nobody’s Fault But Mine (Lucinda Williams)

3) Keep Your Lamp Trimmed And Burning (Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi)

4) Jesus Is Coming Soon (Cowboy Junkies)

5) Mother’s Children Have A Hard Time (The Blind Boys of Alabama)

6) Trouble Will Soon Be Over (Sinéad O’Connor)

7) Bye And Bye I’m Going To See The King (Luther Dickinson featuring The Rising Star Fife & Drum Band)

8) God Don’t Never Change (Lucinda Williams)

9) John The Revelator (Tom Waits)

10) Let Your Light Shine On Me (Maria McKee)

11) Dark Was The Night–Cold Was The Ground (Rickie Lee Jones)


All perfectly covered and the pick of artists show the diversity in versions, because you don’t find too often Tom Waits, Lucinda Williams, Sinéad O’Connor, Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi and Rickie Lee Jones on one record! More at:


(Points: - )


The Chapin Sisters 'Today's not yesterday' (Lake Bottom Records/Hemifran)


Formed in 2004, The Chapin Sisters deliver a high quality new album titled Today's Not Yesterday. It was recorded at Jonathan Wilson's Five Star studio in the hills of Echo Park, California and it marks their first album of original material in five years, following up their 2013 collection of Everly Brothers covers, A Date with the Everly Brothers. The album was produced by the Chapin Sisters along with producer/engineer/bass player Dan Horne (Conor Oberst, Allah Las, Jonathan Wilson) and drummer Jesse Lee (Cass McCombs, Gang, Gang Dance). The Chapin Sisters consist of sisters Abigail and Lily, who both share vocal duties and sing beautiful harmonies together. Besides drummer Jesse, they are backed by Luke Paquin (Hot Hot Heat) and Omar Velasco (A Fine Frenzy, Conor Oberst) on guitars and Lee Pardini (Jonathan Wilson) and Bobby Rodriquez (the Tyde) on piano, Rhodes and keys. Without a doubt we have here a lovely summer ish sounding folk/70s lush melodic poprock record that is a winner in the hands of fans of Fleetwood Mac, Webb Sisters, First Aid Kit, The Pierces, She and Him, The Corrs etc. 12 songs are included and the album is even available on vinyl, so make sure to grab that one a.s.a.p., because the album contains many highlights, such as pop/rocker Chasing the Rain, Getaway (lovely catchy uptempo melodic poprock a la 70s Fleetwood Mac), Child (great 70s slow semi pop/AOR ballad, rich harmonies, even a bit Heart meets Carpenters kinda vibe), Sleep In (catchy slow tempo tune with strong harmonyvocals a la Webb Siisters/The Pierces), The World Is All (great semi ballad) and the calmer ballads Waiting, There Will Be a Time and We Will Not Stop (folk/country influences). Here and there some country, folk and bluesy influences, most of the time this is a light 70s classic rock/pop/westcoast ish record with superb pop melodies and beautiful harmonyvocals. Definitely highly recommended to the fans of mentioned bands! More info at:


(Points: 8.6 out of 10)


Stone Cupid 'The cardinal' (Stone Cupid Music/Hemifran)


Julie Christensen is an American singer and songwriter who has been in the music business for almost 40 years now, playing in several bands, being a back up vocalist for Leonard Cohen and eventually going solo for many years. However now she is part of a new band called Stone Cupid, with whom she released a debut album titled The cardinal. The 12 originals that are included mark a nice mixture of typical American traditional music, such as bluesy rock, Americana, Folk and Classic Rock. She has done almost every music style in her career, so by now she knows exactly how to touch people through her voice and basically her voice sounds rather unique, with a sorta Janis Joplin kinda vibe. The music itself is as already mentioned clearly gritty dirty heavy bluesrock based, making it a pleasure to listen to. One of the highlights is definitely Shed My Skin that reminds me a bit of Alannah Myles, so this is a slightly more polished tune. Without a doubt, Stone Cupid is recommended to check out at:


(Points: 8.1 out of 10)


Balflare 'Downpour' (Fastball Music)


Downpour is the 4th album of the Japanese band Balflare, but it’s not really new, as it was already released years ago in Japan. Now it is made available in Europe and despite it isn’t bad at all what we get to hear, this is an example of Japanese melodic power metal copycat of the European style that made Finnish bands Stratovarius and Sonata Arctica such popular acts in the past in the land of the Rising Son. The vocalwork is typical Japanese, which is a love/hate feeling, but instrumental it all sounds pretty good and is clearly at a high level. Nevertheless, there’s absolutely nothing new to be found here and in case you care for memorable melodic euro power metal with synths, soaring guitars and choruses to sing-a-long to, then you might be better off to put on the old records of Stratovarius and Sonata Arctica, as Balflare simply is not able to produce any tune that might be considered worth checking out. Better listen to the original acts that made this genre popular than another wanna-be act from Japan. More at:


(Points: 7.4 out of 10)


Sons Of Sounds 'In the circle of the universe' (Fastball Music)


Formed in 2007, the German band Sons Of Sounds is formed around the brothers "H" Beselt Drums, Wayne Beselt Guitars&Vocals and Roman Beselt Vocals&Bassguitars. Their latest album In the circle of the universe was produced by Martin Buchwalter (i. a. Drummer of Perzonal War, Fall Of Carthage, Balls Gone Wild) and without a doubt, it has a huge sound quality. The music is not bad at all, because what we get to hear is quality melodic hardrock a la Pink Cream 69, Axxis, Angel Heart and such, quite clearly in the traditional German tradition. The material is either midtempo or uptempo and the vocals are with an accent, but this is not annoying. There’s some prog metal influences as well, but overall melodic hardrock in the style of mentioned bands is presented here and I can easily recommend it to people who are into this style. More info at:


(Points: 7.9 out of 10)


Mirko Filacchioni 'In guitar we trust' (Independent/Italy Import)


Mirko Filacchioni is an Italian guitarist/songwriter, who sent me his demo CDR In guitar we trust, which consists of 4 tracks. Not much info, but Mirko is a fabulous guitarplayer and all 4 songs instrumental/rock tunes with great flashy guitarwork. It’s melodic and in the same style as a Steve Vai or Joe Satriani, but De-fate shows Mikko’s best side, a slightly progressive rock orientated piece. More info at:


(Points: 7.9 out of 10)


Daniel Martin Moore 'Golden age' (Independent/Hemifran)


Singer/songwriter Daniel Martin Moore comes out of Kentucky, USA and Golden age is his fifth record so far. In the past he was signed to Sub Pop, but he is now independent, with for the production side help from Jim James of the band My Morning Jacket. The album starts very calm and despite a few slightly heavier tunes later on the album, most of the record sounds very dark and slow, situated around Daniel’s vocals and pianoplay. Rufus Wainwright meets Colin Blunstone while in a fight with a bluesy Tom Waits and having John Grant over for dinner, that might be a good description of Golden age. The result is a very strong beautiful album that grabs you definitely during songs like Our Hearts Will Hover, Proud As We Are and Sign Of Life (this last one is very good pure Colin Blunstone meets Rufus Wainwright, dark piano ballad if you want to call it that way), 3 magnificent tunes that show so much emotion in it’s simplicity. As mentioned before, don’t expect happy uptempo tunes here, neither any really rocking, because this album is one of those singer/songwriter piano-based albums with a lot of dark slow tunes and the earlier mentioned Rufus Wainwright is therefore a good comparison. Without a doubt, a name to remember, Daniel Martin Moore!


(Points: 8.3 out of 10)


Greg Harrison Band 'As long as we're dancin' (Independent/USA Import)


Not much info on the Greg Harrison Band, but they hail from West Virginia, USA and mix blues, classic rock and Americana with soulful vocals. The band is formed around Greg Harrison, who has an excellent voice and he makes As Long as We're Dancin’ a recommended album to check out. The album starts with As Long as We're Dancin' (a bluesy tune like Black Crowes meets John Mayer), followed by Deliverance (slow bluesy soulful tune), Meant to Be (sounds familier, little pop tune, hit potential!), Be With Me (great uptempo bluesy catchy rocker, cool tune in the John Cougar style, strong guitarwork as well here), Devil Woman (strong bluesy tune like Black Crowes meets John Mayer again), Don't Be Shy (excellent uptempo classic rock/aor/traditional American rock piece, catchy and melodic, uplifting and straight forward, like only Americans can make them! The best tune for sure!), Alright (slightly simpler tune), One Day (very strong midtempo AOR-rocker, great vocalwork here, fantastic tune actually!), 11:11 (melodic piece, modern soulful pop/rock, with again great vocals) and closing track is Taste Your Love (bluesy boogie rocker). We have here a high quality album, quite diverse and mostly typical American rock based actually with excellent soulful vocals, a little AORish with also strong guitarwork, so definitely highly recommended as already mentioned in the beginning of this review. More info at:


(Points: 8.3 out of 10)


The Meller Band 'Decades of number one hits volume 1' (Independent/Norway Import)


Without a doubt this is a fictional story, but cleverly and nicely done in a way you almost believe it. The Meller Band is formed around Ron Meller and Dan Martin from Norway and they have a sound and expression that is similar to bands like The Beatles, The Hollies, 10cc, Supertramp, America, Bee Gees, Roxy Music and Chicago. However, they do not reach that high level here, but the impression of their album looks and sounds like a sorta greatest record with songs they recorded between 1966 and 1983, of which most became muli-million selling tunes. Well, to be honest that’s obviously not true, but the songs take you on a journey through time musically speaking, as they have a vibe of the past for sure, reminding of those bands which were just mentioned. From beat music in the 1960s to rockier stuff in the early 70s, a disco touch in the late 70s and keyboard dominated 80s tunes, it’s all there, so the Meller Band has done that very well in especially tunes like The 60s in One Minute/Why Did You Have to Go?, Condition of Love, Into the 70s and What About the 80s!. A good gimmick a la Steel Panther (but then Pop orientated) for sure and cool to check out, although don’t expect a classic. The best and funniest part is the CD booklet information, which tells us all about the songs, please see below:



Recorded Christmas 1965.

No 1 on VG Lista Top 20 for two weeks in February 1966.

Reached 2nd place on «Tio i Topp» in Sweden in April, after Hep Stars’ «Sunny Girl».




Recorded July and August 1966.

No 1 on UK Top 40 the 20th of September, but replaced five weeks later by The Four Tops.

No 1 in Sweden, Denmark and Norway. Top 10 in many European countries.




Recorded in London September 1967.

No 1 on Billboard Top 100 October 21th, with a total of five weeks.

No 1 in UK, Scandinavia, Germany, BeNeLux, Italy, Spain, Canada and Australia.

Top 10 in number of countries.




Recorded live in studio in Oslo the 20th of July 1969, which was about 20 years before the ‘unplugged’ phenomenon. It was an excited mood in the studio, just few hours before Armstrong took his first step on the moon!

No 1 in UK the 24th of August (one week), Scandinavia and Germany. Top 10 in some countries.




Recorded May and June 1971.

No 1 in Germany, Top 10 in Scandinavia.

Replaced Danyel Gerards «Butterfly» the 26th of August 1971 on German’s Top 20 (six weeks as the number one).




Recorded April 1976.

No 1 in Scandinavia, France and Spain for one week the summer of ’76.

Top 10 in UK and many other countries. Abba dominated the charts this year. Playing this game was nominated for The Grammy Award ‘song of the year’ (the winner was Bruce Johnsons’ «I Write The Songs» performed by Barry Manilow).




Recorded September 1977.

No 1 on Billboard Top 100 the 3rd of December for 3 weeks.

No 1 on Billboard Top Dance Chart in December 1977 and January the following year.

Made Top 10 in many European countries, but did not peak to number one. Anyway, this was the only disco song from The Meller Band.




The title song from the soundtrack of the movie ‘Harmony’. The movie was most successful in the US and Europe the autumn of 1978.

No 1 in UK, Scandinavia and Japan.

Top 10 in US and Australia.

Nominated for Oscar, the 51st Academy Award with ‘Best original song’. The winner was «Last Dance» from ‘Thank God it’s Friday.




Recorded Easter 1982.

Top 10 in many countries.

The first single that did not enter as No 1 in one country, but No 1 on the European Top 100 for five weeks during June and July.

The song is one of the most famous ‘summer songs’ ever.




Recorded January and February 1983.

No 1 on Billboard Top 100 for one week in April the same year.

Top 10 in France, Italy, Spain, Canada and Scandinavia.


More at:  


(Points: 7.9 out of 10)


Kiama 'The sign of IV' (Tigermouth Productions/Nineteen 73 Promotions/UK Import)


Sign Of IV is the debut album from the band Kiama. They consist of Robert Reed (MAGENTA / KOMPENDIUM), Andy Edwards (IQ / ROBERT PLANT / FROST), Luke Machin (MACHINE / TANGENT) and Dylan Thompson (SHADOW OF THE SUN / REASONING), making this a sorta supergroup in the progressive rockworld. Thankfully they are a progband with a focus on melodies and not an endlessly stretching of instrumental complex parts. Vocals sound a lot like Peter Gabriel and that is not such a coincidence if you consider the fact that the album was recorded at Peter Gabriel's recording studio. 9 songs are included, starting with Cold Black Heart (a great opener, somewhat groovy progressive rocker, melodic and with some bluesy guitar riffs, strong vocals, melodic and close to Enchant, Frost, Lonely Robot, only more guitar based), Tears (strong midtempo progressive melodic rocker, sensational actually, Frost style again, with shredding guitarsolo at the end), Muzzled (great calmer ballad ish with nice keyboardsolo, good female backing vocals here), Slime (great modern progrocker, Spock's Beard ish), I Will Make It Up With You (calmer start, very impressive vocalwork, ballad ish, proggy and bluesy but also super melodic Enchant ish, nice guitarsolo), To The Edge (groovy funky rocker, completely different than the rest), Beautiful World (another superb melodic piece a la Enchant), Slip Away (slow modern melodic progrocker, great tune, one of the few longer tunes, a la Spocks Beard) and closing track Free (calmer prog tune a la Pink Floyd). Without a doubt, this first Kiama record is a surprisingly diverse release with incredible high level musicianship, fantastic vocalwork, memorable melodies, all packed in a huge production and without any doubts, a total must-have for any progfan out there!


(Points: 8.7 out of 10)


Redbazar 'Tales from the bookcase' (Tigermouth Productions/White Knight Records/Nineteen 73 Promotions/UK Import)


The British Tigermouth Productions also sent me another great progrock record in the shape of Tales from the Bookcase, the 3rd full-length album of Nottingham (UK) based five piece band Red Bazar. Actually it’s their first to feature vocals, because the previous records were instrumental. Singer Peter Jones joined the band recently and he has a fantastic voice (like a mixture between Peter Gabriel and the first singer of For Absent Friends), just perfect for this kind of music. Instrumental it all sounds picture perfect, so is the perfection and some of the songs are really incedible, so we have here a true winner for the fans of progrock. What we get to hear is high quality beautiful melodic prog music in the style of Enhcant/Threshold/Mystery, somewhere in between I would say. Just listen to the amazing Queen Of The Night Part 1 and Calling her on and you will understand why I would mentioned such a description. This is how melodic prog needs to sound like! A wonderful release that is a must-have for fans of mentioned bands. Sound clips from the album can be heard at:  and check out more on the band at:


(Points: 8.6 out of 10)


Allison Dietz 'Pretty lies' (Independent/Hemifran)


Out of Maryland, USA comes singer/songwriter Allison Dietz, who releases a very decent album titled Pretty lies that musically combines elements of country, Americana, bluegrass and singer/songwriter pop. 10 songs are included and comparisons can be made to Brandi Carlile, Gillian Welch, Sheryl Crow, Loretta Lynn, Ilse DeLange, etc.etc. The album was mastered by the legendary Rodney Mills (38 Special) and without a doubt, it is one of those records you can easily put on and listen to from start to finish. Enough diversity going on as well, starting with Can't Get Away (a typical country song), followed by Let Me Keep You Warm (pop tune), Pretty Lies (polished country tune), Nobody Loves Me (pop radio hit), I've Just Seen a Face (folkish early 70s uptempo Joni Mitchell ish bluegrass country crossover, sounds like a classic sing-a-long traditonal, but is the Beatles cover from their 1965 album Help, nicely done!), Cowards & Fools (a little darker singer/songwriter mystic slow song a la Chris Isaak), Come Home (country ish ballad), On My Own (pure Ilse de Lange pop country ballad), the bluesy Parade and closing track Still Mad (midtempo catchy crossover new country-aor style a la Jaime Kyle). Recommended to fans of female fronted music, as this is one of those examples that puts a smile on your face, because it is high quality stuff. More info at:


(Points: 8.2 out of 10)


Nate 'Pilgrim' (Independent/Hemifran)


Out of Belgium comes Nathalie Blomme, a singer/songwriter with a Jazz background. She gathered around musicians to record the album Pilgrim under the artist name Nate. Having overcome an accident, she dedicates her new life in a wheelchair to her love for singing, writing, composing and film making, while also playing guitar, dobro, lapsteel & arangements. The music on the album is jazz based, 13 songs in total, of which the highlights are the beautiful calmer jazzy piano based tunes Little Sad Men, Hope and Soul for Sale that all contain lovely smooth vocalwork, and the more singer/songwriter based pop/rock of Pilgrim and Should I? (with a slight bluegrass touch). We have here a true winner in the jazz-pop genre and therefore this high quality release is recommended to each and everyone of you!  More info at:


(Points: 8.4 out of 10)


3 Kisses 'Cardboard cutouts' (Independent/USA Import)


3 Kisses is at first sight a powerpunkpopband from Alaska, but the female fronted band formed around Tish Meeks (Lead Vocals/Guitar) is offering a lot more. In fact, their album Cardboard cutouts is a very diverse record. I would rather put 3 Kisses in a sorta The Donnas, The Runaways, Lita Ford, Pet Benatar and Joan Jett direction, because there’s a lot more going on than standard fast melodic powerpunk anthems on the album. The vocalwork is sounding very good and also most of the songs are memorable. A catchy rocking sound, with the focus on strong melodic choruses and overall 80s orientated is what to expect from start to finish. Highlights are Master of No One (very catchy uptempo melodic powerpop meets 80s hair metal, cool solo, Poison meets The Donnas), They Sell Them Cheap (catchy fast uptempo powerpunk a la Blitz Babies), Aim High (strong uptempo melodic hardrock/hair metal 1980s direction a la Lita Ford, catcy chorus again, with great 80s guitar solo as well), One (great semi melodic rocker, almost AOR ish a la Laos/Vixen/If Only with once again that lovely guitarsolo in full 80s swung! excellent tune!!!! must for any ff melodic rockfan out there!), Go Away (more melodic hardrock again) and Better Luck Next Time (great big anthemic tune with great guitarsolo again). Tish has already played more than a thousand live performances, so live on stage she is probably a definite rock star performer, but also in the studio you can hear that she is a talented musician you don’t want to miss if you’re into the aforementioned female fronted rockacts. Go to:


(Points: 8.3 out of 10)


Bigfoot Woman 'Bigfoot Woman' (BFW Holdings/LoFi Music Group/USA Import)


Bigfoot Woman hail from Oakland, California and are proud to present their first album, which is a self titled record. The band consists of Brick Smith - Vocals, Guitar, Cornelius Berg - Vocals, Guitar, Isadora Crumb - Drums and TP Hardmeat - Bass, Synths. Musically it is most of the time sounding very slow and also quite melancholic, folk inspired, very close to Bob Dylan and Tom Waits, with 2 male singers, both not sounding picture perfect vocally, but for this kind of Americana alternative country folk it is more important to tell stories and that's exactly what they do. Most interesting track is Susanna that even reveals opera and female vocals, which makes this tune sounding totally different than the rest. If you want to hear something quite original, than look no further then this Bigfoot Woman at:


(Points: 7.6 out of 10)


The Willing 'Right direction' (Rave Song Records/USA Import)


Out of Chicago comes The Willing, a band formed way back in the 1970s and despite they did not record anything during this period, they toured throughout the Midwest performing original songs & covers by Crosby Stills Nash & Young, The Eagles, The Moody Blues & The Beatles. However, they broke up in the late 1970s and 3 members (Kent Cooper, Rich Wigstone & David Angel) went on to form CBS recording artists The Boyzz and later on The B’zz, with whom they recorded 2 great hard rock albums. Eventually the band got together again and with 5 songwriters on board nowadays (Rich Wigstone (Guitar / Vocals), John Krahenbuhl (Keyboards / Vocals), Chris Gough (Guitar), Dan Smith (Keyboards / Vocals), David Angel (Bass / Vocals), & Kent Cooper (Drums / Vocals)), the band is now sounding better than ever. A couple of years ago they released Unfinished business and now follow it up with Right direction, a very strong album that combines elements of typical 70s Classic American rock/pop, Westcoast and Americana with those typical close harmonyvocals, sounding a lot like the guys from Venice and The Eagles of course. 11 songs are included on the band’s new CD, starting with No Water, a fantastic uptempo westcoast/aor 1970s style tune, with superstrong vocals and beautiful melodies a la Venice. The album has enough diversity to keep you entertained, while other recommended tracks are Who's Gonna Love Me (great laid-back slow tune with a sorta 1950s shuffle, great harmonies a la Venice again), The Right Direction (beautiful classic westcoast ballad, of course Eagles and Venice again, superstrong tune), Alive (nice ballad ish tune, even a bit proggy a la Pink Floyd, in typical 1970s length of 6 minutes playing time) and Time (good bluesy rocker). Especially the harmonyvocals and fantastic clean melodic lead vocals make this album of The Willing a highly recommended record and for fans of Poco, Venice, The Eagles, Calexico, Orleans, etc. etc., this is definitely something you need to check out a.s.a.p. at: and


(Points: 8.3 out of 10)


Peter Wale 'sample CDR' (Independent/Demo CDR)


Not so much info on this travelling musician from South Africa, but Peter Wale has been at many places in the world, so a lot of influences can be heard in his music. I received a sample CDR of his music, which sadly only contains 4 songs, but they showcase a huge talent. The sound quality is not picture perfect, but Never and These Things are You are both great calmer singer/songwriter tunes in 1970s style, while This War and Lonely man are more 1970s progrock orientated pieces, with the first one even reminding me of early Genesis. Peter has an excellent voice and these 4 songs make me very interested in hearing and reviewing a full-length CD, which hopefully arrives someday, because Peter has got the talent to become bigger. Fans of Jonathan Wilson will absolutely love this musician. Check out more at:


(Points: 8.0 out of 10)


Tenek 'Smoke and mirrors' (Alien Six Productions/UK Import)


Formed in Brighton, UK back in 2007, the duo Tenek makes a comeback with their new album Smoke and mirrors, which took them 3 years to create. The duo consists of Geoff Pinckney and Peter Steer along with Steve Clark (drums) & Patrick Bennett (bass guitar), while additional musicians include Paul Jackson (bass player from 80’s British pop band T’Pau), the Australian-based Sam Morrison (bass) and Michael Steer (bass). The result is a lovely pure 80s pop record that would have been huge 30 years ago, but with the 80s revival now also has a chance to become huge. The band has toured a lot the past 10 years (includes playing support for acts like Toyah, The Human League, A Flock Of Seagulls and many others), while they also recorded also several singles, EP’s and albums, but this new album is probably their finest work so far. 1980s new wave, hi-tech pop, romantic pop and light symphonic aor/poprock, it’s all mixed here perfectly and the result is a damn fine record. This is pure 80s pop/rock bliss, hi-tech influenced, with a funky bass, melodic vocals, catchy hooks and memorable choruses. Fear for Nothing is pure Level 42, while some Mr. Mister can be heard during Everything lost, both being awesome tunes. Other highlights are Another Day (Album Version) (uptempo light aor/poprock, even close to The Arrows and Canadian hi-tech aor/poprock), What Kind of Friend? (Album Version) (early 80s new wave Duran Duran style), Blue Man (Ultravox wave/gothic kinda tune), A New Foundation (Album Version) (great semi ballad), Sunlight (dark gothic a la Ultravox) and Imitation of Life (more synths/keys driven uptempo, slightly AORish with catchy hooks, basically a fantastic tune!). It all sounds just so 80s, but in a really good way, paying tribute in the best possible way! The massive production makes it all sound as bombastic as those records from 30 years ago, so any fan of 80s music needs to check out Tenek asap at: and


(Points: 8.4 out of 10)

Allison Worley Band 'Allison Worley Band' (Independent/USA Import)


Out of Tennessee comes the Allison Worley Band, a band formed around guitarist Ralph E. Hayes, who is the guitarist of the trio. He started playing guitar way back in the 1970s, but after high school he and his band mates went on to fullfill the regular job path. However, a few years ago Ralph decided it was time to get back to his rock and roll dreams and now a full-length professional album is recorded as the Allison Worley Band. The included music is instrumental sorta The Shadows ish orientated, so instrumental guitar music with a sorta relaxing 60s vibe that even reminds me of Roy Orbison. Most of the songs are in the same direction and this is one of those albums you just put on and give you a relaxed feeling. Check it out for yourself at:


(Points: 7.7 out of 10)


John Aulabaugh 'Of sins present and past' (Independent/USA Import)


Washington based John Aulabaugh stopped playing guitar at the age of 27 before picking it up again about 23 years later. Within 2 years he gathered around friends and recorded his album Of sins present and past. Although John is not crystal clear in his singing, a sorta REM meets Neil Young kinda tone in his voice is notable, but there is some real passion to be heard, also in his music that is slightly uplifting melodic altrock orientated with a little country twist. It rocks quite hard from time to time due to the guest musicians. The album is produced by Rami Jaffee (Foo Fighters, WallFlowers), and features Jessy Greene (Foo Fighters, Wilco on strings, Jason Abraham Roberts on guitar (Norah Jones) and Dave Krusen (Pearl Jam) on drums. One can imagine that with these professional musicians, the album is a definite high quality record. The highlights are Elasticity (semi melodic rocker a la The Jayhawks, Gutter and such), Never Grow Tired of You (semi ballad), Awake (slightly psychedelic slow rocker, a great tune with strong melodies a la Waterboys), The Strange (nice midtempo rocker) and The Gift of Mediocrity (The Doors’ ish calm late 60s psychedelic tune). The album will be accompanied by a companion book with each chapter devoted to telling the back story behind each song on the album, so this is a real storytelling album that will please all singer/songwriter fans who also like rockier material with an alternative/country twist. Check out all at:


(Points: 8.0 out of 10)


Comedy Of Errors 'Spirit' (Independent/Nineteen 73 Promotion/UK Import)


Based near Glasgow, Scotland, the band Comedy of Errors releases a very impressive new album titled Spirit, which is their 3rd in the past 5 years. They were formed back in 2010 and nowadays consists of Joe Cairney (Vocals), John Fitzgerald (Bass), Bruce Levick (Drums), Jim Johnston (Keyboards), Sam McCulloch (Guitar) and Mark Spalding (Guitar). Their music is basically pure symphonic/progressive rock, with clear influences from Marillion, Genesis and Pink Floyd, while reminding overall quite a bit of Pallas, another Scottish progband. They are doing things at an incredible high level, instrumental and vocal wise, while this new record is actually a concept album based around Spirit, a 45 minutes counting track that is split into 10 parts. Bandleader is Jim Johnston, who is responsible for most of the included music and writing. Some of the highlights include My Grief Lies All Within, Spirit Shines / Spirit, Can This Be Happening?, I Call And Cry To Thee and Into The Light, but any song will do, because this is one of those progalbums you want to hear in full everytime you put it on. Comedy of Errors take you on a journey into a lovely progworld. The production and sound quality is very good for an independent release, so nothing stands in the way for the progfans to check out this band at:


(Points: 8.3 out of 10)


The Roomsounds 'Elm St.' (Independent/Teenage Head Music)


Dallas based band The Roomsounds was formed in 2009 and rapidly started to make a name in the scene, with Elm st. now being their 2nd album release so far. Their line-up consists of Ryan Michael - Vocals, Guitar, Sam Janik - Guitar, Backing Vocals, Dan Malone - Drums, Percussion and Red Coker - Bass Guitar, Backing Vocals, while the music is a mix of retro Classic Rock, Southern Rock, rootsy rock and roll and a whole lot of Powerpop! And the result is a damn fine record that starts with Elm St. and Take It All Wrong, both catchy uptempo powerpop tunes with a roots rock touch, featuring strong vocals, a bluesy guitar riff and a very melodic rocking sound. As the album develops it gets more pure classic rock, but here and there it is basically late 1970s Powerpop all the way and a mix between Tom Petty and the Rolling Stones is not out of place here if we have to give The Roomsounds a good description for the audience. The album continues with Letters (a slow semi-ballad), Bad Situation (Stones ish roots rocker), What Do I Gotta Do (semi southern rocker a la Lynyrd Skynyrd), Lay My Head Down (Black Crowes ish groovy rocker), Don't Give up on Me (nice uptempo powerpop ish rocker a la Tom Petty again), Wolf in Sheep's Clothing (catchy uptempo powerpop again, great tune, early 80s style, even a bit Rick Springfield/Dwight Twilley), Baby's Got the Bluest Eyes (awesome tune, semi melodic rocker, a little Bruce Springsteen ish with a westcoast twingle and a 60 touch, this is a melancholic song and definitely the best song, hit potential all over the place here), Stray Dog (nice rocker) and closing track is Win You Over (John Cougar orientated roots rocker). In the end, one can say that this is Powerpop meets Classic American Rock at it's best, reminding me so much of Johnny and the Distractions (if anyone remembers them!) and also not even far removed from The Rembrandts. Without a doubt, Elm st. is a high quality record and if they can make it as good live as on record, the boys are up to become huge! Check them out at:


(Points: 8.5 out of 10)


Brother Hawk 'Big medicine' (Independent/Black Pike Favorites)


Not so much info on this band from Atlanta, Georgia, but Brother Hawk releases a very strong traditional American Classic Rock record with their latest album Big medicine. The original sound of the band takes the best of Classic Rock, with a lot of tunes sounding quite calm in approach, reaching out to slow southern fried rock featuring the excellent soulful melodic clean voice of singer/guitarist JB Brisendine. He is the winner of the band, making Brother Hawk a very interesting act to check out. The album has a big sound and contains 10 songs, starting with Have love, will travel (semi bluesy rocker like Black Crowes meets grungy Pearl Jam), which is followed by Half empty lovely (semi southern ballad a la Lynyrd Skynyrd), At long last (great upempo heavy rocker), Midnight in Tifton (big ballad, somewhat bluesy melodic rock a la Aerosmith, excellent tune!), Big medicine (good semi southern ballad a la Lynyrd Skynyrd), No room to rust (heavy bluesrocker with slow big stoner rock guitar riffs as well, diverse vocals and awesome guitarsolo), L5P (beautiful relaxing ballad ish sorta melodic rock with an indie touch in the vocals, great guitarsolo once again, a massive song!!!), Ghosts (great calmer bluesy ballad, again a memorable guitarsolo), Haywood heartache (finally a real uptempo straight-forward tune, melodic rock ish) and Scarlett (great semi melodic rockballad, lovely actually). Quite a surprise this release, recommended to the classic rockfans out there, because the guitarwork and vocals are very impressive! More info at:


(Points: 8.6 out of 10)


Taking Back Eden 'Beautiful disaster' (Independent/USA Import)


Taking Back Eden is an original acoustic folk-rock band based out of Amherst, Massachusetts, USA, formed around Carolyn Walker on vocals and violin, Sylvie Abate on acoustic and nylon guitars, Jen Spingla on bass, and Christine "Tina" Abate on full kit and percussion. They were kind enough to sent me their album Beautiful disaster, a very strong laid-back folk-rock based album that is sounding very Irish, but different than the somewhat commercial sounds of let’s say The Corrs. The folk influences are more clear here and each of the members of the band are respected singer/songwriters on their own. Taking Back Eden sound really traditional and they do it well, with beautiful harmonyvocals and sweet melodies. Although it might not all sound really original, it is done very well and this EP is therefore definitely recommended to check out at:


(Points: 8.0 out of 10)


Max Navarro 'Somewhere south of heaven' (AW Recordings/Italy Import)


Singer/songwriter Max Navarro from Vancouver, Canada returns with his 5th album Somewhere south of heaven. The line-up on the album consists of Max Philip Navarro - lead vocals, guitars, John Paul Bellucci - lead guitars, Nick Mayer - keyboards, backing vocals, Alex Parpinel – drums and Danny Polìcella - bass, backing vocals. I remember that earlier albums were more akin to standard Euro MHR a la Bonfire, Mad Max, Casanova and such, but this new album is definitely more going into the American heartland rock style. Highlights among the 9 included tracks are Somewhere South Of Heaven (nice uptempo melodic rocker a la Mike Tramp), Saturday Night (John Cougar ish heartland rocker), Stay (good uptempo melodic rocker) and Bad Day (nice ballad). His influences come from Bon Jovi, Bruce Springsteen, Bryan Adams, Nickelback, Foo Fighters, Goo Goo Dolls, Tom Petty, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Neil Young, Del Amitri, Dire Straits and you can hear that in the music for sure, although vocally Max is not reaching the high level of his influences. Check it out for yourself at:


(Points: 7.7 out of 10)


Red Sky Mary 'River child' (Carved Records/USA Import)


Founded in 2010, the New England, USA based band Red Sky Mary make their debut with River child, which is definitely a sensational record you need to check out a.s.a.p. The band is formed around Sam Vlasich – Vocals, Tom Boisse – Guitar, Gary Boisse – Bass and Barrett Goeman – Drums and the music is really great bluesy Classic Hardrock with very strong vocals. I smell a little bit of Free/Bad Company/Black Crowes with a touch Little Ceasar and soulful vocals a la Living Color and add to that a lot of Thunder, Badlands and Kix, then you have got the mixture that can be called Red Sky Mary. Not all the songs are impressive, because sometimes it is so and so, but overall this is a really awesome record. Vocally Sam is the man, as he is sounding excellent. Without a doubt this band is one to watch out for in the future, as the potential is clearly there. Rival Sons is a good comparison, but actually Red Sky Mary has more or less an own sorta identity if you listen to the whole album back and forth. The highlights on the album are All Hell’s Breakin’ Loose (Thunder meets Badlands ish uptempo hardrock), Gone (semi groovy melodic rockballad, strong tune with soulful vocals, kinda 70s touch, sounding like Vintage Trouble/Rival Sons and Led Zeppelin), I Will Wait For You (lovely soulful bluesy ballad with amazing vocals) and Too Much (great uptempo melodic rocker, one of the finest songs, straight-ahead, a little 80s Lillian Axe (also vocally) meets XYZ). Concluded, a band to check out a.s.a.p.! More at: and


(Points: 8.5 out of 10)


John Warden 'Various recordings' (Independent/USA Import)


Not much info on John Warden, a singer/songwriter from Oklahoma, USA, but he does have a great melodic clean voice and from his bio I learned that he started playing guitar at the age of 15, but it took him until his 50s before he would start recording material. He was kind enough to sent me a CDR filled with his music and despite the sound quality is not as good as a label release, the included music is quite nice and especially vocally John impresses a lot. Walt Bowers is the sound engineer, keyboardplayer, percussionist and vocalist who helped him and if we go through the songs on the CDR, the finest ones are the singer/songwriter upbeat westcoast ish Black Crow, When I close my eyes (AORish even a little late 70s style American style a la Van Stephenson and even a bit Rufus Wainwright/Elton John and the Dakota singer, pretty good actually, laid back and modest as well), We are (calmer acoustic piece) and The wind (uptempo, great tune again, Westcoast/AOR style with a Hammond solo, very strong vocals and a catchy melody). So a recommended singer/songwriter for especially the Westcoast/AOR fans out there who love those 1970s style sounds and perfect clean melodic vocals. Check out more at:


(Points: 8.1 out of 10)


Vaudeville Etiquette 'Aura Vista Motel' (Sun Yata Records/Black Pike Favorites)


Aura Vista Motel is the 2nd record of the Seattle based band Vaudeville Etiquette. The album was produced by Shawn Simmons (The Head and the Heart, Lemolo) at Studio Litho in Seattle, and it sounds like a very diverse album, containing a lot of 1970s influences. Although they are at first sight a rockband, starting with 2 pure rockers, Crosseyed Crazy (groovy 70s retro bluesy rocker a la White Stripes/Jack White and such, male/female vocals share) and Aura Vista (great semi classic psychedelic rocker with strong vocals and great chorus, like Jefferson Airplane/Grace Slick), the rest of the album is as already mentioned very diverse and much calmer. Sometimes similarities to even The Common Linnets is possible during those calmer tunes, but they also sound completely different at other times (even revealing some 60s R&B and 70s Westcoast), so all together this makes it an interesting release to check out. Other highlights are Damn Lovely (soulful late 60s r&b ballad, awesome female vocals, hit potential!), Bridges (male vocals, laid-back 70s westcoast/middle of the road American pop/rock, uptempo with some great melodies, like 70s Fleetwood Mac meets Michael Stanley Band, basically a very strong melodic rock ish tune and the finest song on the album), Empty Hands (great ballad duet) and Til The Wheels Unwind (fast uptempo bluegrasss ish tune duet). Definitely a recommended diverse album that breathes high quality music you can easily listen to from start to finish. Perhaps some more rock next time wouldn’t hurt either, but on the other hand the diversity on this record makes it a release you don’t want to miss. More info at:


(Points: 8.5 out of 10)


Gabriels 'Fist of the seven stars Act 1: Fist of Steel' (Diamonds Productions/Italy Import)


All the cliche's of Italian 90s/00s Neo-Classical Power Metal and US wanna-be 80s keyboard friendly Melodic Rock are present on this record, like Skylark meets Wonderland meets 80s Bon Jovi is the result and although instrumental it all sounds pretty good, the vocals and songs itself are not reaching the level of acts like Europe, Stratovarius, Labyrinth, Vision Divine, Yngwie Malmsteen… Gabriels is the leader of the band Gabriels from Italy and he plays all the Keyboards, Piano, Synths and Hammond, while there is a huge list of guest musicians:


Giacomo Voli: Vocals

Ida Elena De Razza(Bare Infinity): Vocals

Marius Danielsen (Darkest Sins): Vocals

Dave Dell'Orto (Drakkar): Vocals

Dario Grillo (Platens, Violet Sun): Vocals

Iliour Griften: Vocals

Stefano Calvagno (Metatrone): Guitars

Glauber Oliveira (Dark Avenger): Guitars

Giovanni Tomasucci: Guitars

Tommy Vitaly: Guitars

Angelo Mazzeo: Guitars

Francesco Ivan Sante Dall'O': Guitars

Dino Fiorenza: Bass

Christian Cosentino: Bass

Simone Alberti: Drums

Davide Pezzurra (Metaphysics): Lead Guitar

Andrea "Tower" Torricini (courtesy of Vision Divine): Bass and Guitars


Most interesting is the fact that this is a Rock opera dedicated and freely adapted from the manga and anime "Hokuto no Ken" by Tetsuo Hara and Buronson and it is part 1 of a trilogy of albums, so in Japan it will probably receive quite some attention, because also this kind of music is extremely popular in Japan. In the past Gabriels was able to have Mark Boals on board for the vocal department and that would have definitely made a difference, because now the average vocals spoil the fun of the neo-classical melodic rock meets power metal genre in which Gabriels is active. Sacrifice is then probably the finest song, a real 80s melodic rocker with strong chorus, but overall this is only for the die-hard fans of Sonata Arctica and such. More info at: and


(Points: 7.1 out of 10)


Elaine Samuels and Kindred Spirit 'Phoenix rising' (Independent/Nineteen 73 Promotion/UK Import)


British Progressive Folkrock band Kindred Spirit has been in the music business for a while and now re-release their album Phoenix Rising. The band is formed around female singer Elaine Samuels, with as backing band featuring the likes of Martin Ash - Violin and backing vocals, Catherine Dimmock - Flute/Sax and backing vocals, Mike Hislop - Bass, Les Binks - Drums (Judas Priest, Roger Glover…) and Chris Goode - Drums, percussion & keyboards. Elaine has a great voice and the music is most of the time high quality melodic acoustic tingled folk-rock in the style of Renaissance and Fairport Convention, Jethro Tull and such. The beginning is very strong and beautiful melodic folkrock based, although as the CD continues, it becomes slightly struggling here and there, but on the other hand also more diverse and revealing other influences. If we look at the album’s highlights we need to mention Wolves at the Gate (slightly more rockier folk song), Kindred Spirit (beautiful calmer medieaval piece a la Blackmore's Night), the jazzy cover of the America classic A horse with no name, Drunken Landlady (Irish sorta traditional Celtic tune), Feed the fire (a suddengreat uptempo melodic hard rock tune, even a bit Lita Ford style, best song, more like this next time please, because she has a rock tone in her voice!) and Let The Music Set You Free (another slightly melodic rock ish tune). Concluded, ups and downs, but always quality music and diverse enough for most people to go check out something of interest. More at:


(Points: 8.0 out of 10)


Temple Of Switches 'Temple Of Switches' (Independent/USA Import)


Californian progressive rockers Temple Of Switches were formed in 2012 and recently released a very strong same titled debut EP consisting of 6 tracks. The core members, Kevin McConnell (keys and vocals), Jay Heffner(drums) and Mike Monda (guitar and backing vocals) have known each other for decades and have already played music together back in the late 70's and early 80's. Now many moons later, Temple Of Switches rises from the ashes and as a result we have some beautifully created music that can be labelled as progressive rock, yet with a lot of melodies in the vocal and chorus department, so not going for the instrumental jamming direction all the way, but instead sounding as song based as for example Rush. Federal Offense opens the album and this is great uptempo melodic heavy rock, written as a punkrock song, but vocally and instrumental much better than that, sounding like an almost Fates Warning ish uptempo melodic metal tune. Next tune The Vortex has some really cool keyboards and is basically a pure Rush 80s progressive melodic rocker, even a bit 70s pomprock Saga ish as well and towards the end of the song it all reminds me of Mystery actually, so this is definitely the absolute highlight of the album. The Positive Side is a great calmer progressive rock tune, a lengthy tune that is followed by Calling All, a short instrumental that features awesome guitarwork. Time Unwritten is more straight forward uptempo progressive rock in 1990s style (Rush/King's X), with a dark twist, while the album closes with Desert Sands, a theatrical progressive rocker, also with twists, containing good parts and less interesting parts, but quality stuff for sure! The vocals are quite superb all throughout the record, so is the excellent guitar and keyboardwork, but somehow songwise it is especially the first 2 songs that grab you, while the other songs are just so-so. Nevertheless, let’s put this Temple Of Switches in the Threshold/Enchant/Mystery direction, with a left turn to Fates Warning and Psychotic Waltz here and there, but also Rush and Saga are clear comparisons to draw while listening to this highly recommended disc. Check out more at: and


(Points: 8.4 out of 10)


Mike Dekleva 'Synergy' (Independent/USA Import)


Mike Deklevan from New Mexico sent me his instrumental rock EP Synergy, which was recorded on May 5, 2015, at Paragon Recording Studios in Franklin, Tennessee, and during subsequent recording sessions in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Kona, Hawaii, and Nashville, Tennessee. Besides Mike on guitar, it features Robbie Calvo (guitars), Jason Webb (piano and keyboards), Amanda McCoy (bass) and Grady Saxman (drums and percussion). Inspired by artists like Joe Satriani, Eric Johnson, Andy Timmons, Vinnie Moore, Greg Howe, Larry Mitchell, Phil Keaggy, Alex Lifeson, George Lynch, Edward Van Halen, Randy Rhoads and countless others, Mike created a beautiful laid-back instrumental guitar based melodic rock/westcoast-aor style that sounds very pleasant to the ears. 4 songs were recorded in total, all sounding pretty good and with a rather excellent production for an independent release. Opener Lost is the finest song, with it’s lovely guitar melodies sounding like a cross between Steve Lukather, Neal Schon and Dan Huff. Next track Drive is more uptempo straight-ahead based, being a melodic rocker in Toto style, while titletrack Synergy is a laid-back tune with a funky bass and is overall a nice 80s sounding pop/rock/aor tune like an instrumental Giant. Closing track Midnight Sky is a calmer lovely tune with a Latin rhythm. Mike let’s his guitar sing the way we want to hear it, like Lukather, Clapton and Schon and together with a strong backing band, this EP has a big sound with perfect melodies that is a must-hear for fans of instrumental guitar based music. Check out more at: and


(Points: 8.5 out of 10)


Fabbox '2' (Art Media Music/Italy Import)


Following their debut album Music from the Fab Box, the Italian band Fabbox returns 6 years later with their 2nd album. The duo consists of Fabrizio Ugolini (former vocalist of hard rock band Revenge) and Massimo Bozzi (whose collaborations include big stars from Italian pop scene) and together with Matteo Pantaleoni (drums) Matteo Moretti (bass) as well as various Italian and international guest musicians including Paolo Pedretti, Paolo Gennari, Tonino "Crosby" Landini, Caris Arkin, bass player and producer Fabrizio Grossi and Gab Guma, they released a nice melodic rockalbum. The included music is quite standard early 90s melodic rock/aor orientated in the style of Russell/John Parr/Peo/Statement/Rokbox/Dan Lucas and such, although not as good as them. The first part of the album is definitely better than the last couple of tracks, because in the beginning we can hear some really good material, such as Two (midtempo AOR a la mentioned acts, especially Rokbox, pretty good tune!), Something is coming your way (much better vocally, as Massimo sings here and he has a strong AOR voice, while the song itself is a great uptempo AOR rocker, Journey esque/Street Talk also very much) and Test of time (finally a duet between the 2 singers, that’s their benefit with two different voices, this is a rather good midtempo AOR song). Although very cliche tingled AOR to most of you, it’s not that bad actually, but don’t expect a classic, as this is just a good decent record of interest only for the die-hard AOR collectors among us, because therefore songs like Heaven on earth, the Bryan Adams wanna-be rocker Starting up a fire and the calm AOR ballad It's not the end are not spectacular enough to make it a real must-have. Check it out for yourself at: and


(Points: 8.0 out of 10)


Mojo Wizzard 'Mojo Wizzard' (Independent/Canada Import)


Out of Quebec, Canada comes an interesting band that combines 1970s stoner rock with 1990s grunge/alternative rock and biting bluesy guitar riffs in between. The band is formed around Rico Desjardins (vocals), Karim M'Sallem (Guitar), Guillaume Couture (Bass) and Maxime Lussier (Drums) and on their same titled debut EP we can find 6 tracks. After the Intro, we get to hear Sweet Baby Death (a slow stoner rocker that is almost close to pure doom metal, with big fat guitar riffs and sounding quite heavy a la Black Sabbath here and there), followed by a similar sounding track Passionate Beast and the calmer psychedelic rocker (The Doors late 1960s style) Wild Love, the finest songs are kept until the end. These are Red Machine (Led Zeppelin meets Jimi Hendrix massive guitar riffs, one the fans and media will absolutely love, could be a huge hit among the festival crowd, as they love guitar riffs like White Stripes and a song ending in a sorta Nirvana chaos) and You're Me (a groovy trippin’ midtempo 1970s stompin’ midtempo hardrocker). Concluded, Mojo Wizzard is one of those underground bands to keep your eyes open for at:


(Points: 8.1 out of 10)


Salem's Bend 'Salem's Bend' (Burt Records/USA Import)


Now here we have the sensational same titled debut album of the Los Angeles based band Salem’s Bend. This threesome is formed around Felix Shapiro- Drums, Bobby Parker- Guitar and Vocals and Donny Doom- Bass. They released a stunning debut album that feels like the next big Classic Rock thing. The classic 70s inspired hardrock like Thin Lizzy, Led Zeppelin and such has been done before of course, but somehow they have reached the pick of destiny on this debut record. They remind me a bit of a much better version of Dutch band Vanderbuyst, although after listening to their debut a few times an own identity emerges and the youngsters are definitely a must-hear for all classic rockfans out there. Opener Balshazzar is a nice uptempo tune, but the real work starts with Queen of the Desert, which features awesome blistering guitarwork and instrumental impresses a lot. Silverstruck is a groovy Hendrix/Zeppelin affair, an instrumental tune with a big fat sound. Losing Sleep is probably the best song, straight ahead Black Sabbath ish ‘Paranoid’ style uptempo melodic heavy rock/stoner rock. Sun and Mist is a lovely midtempo groovy 70s hardrock/stoner rock tune with a Led Zeppelin ish huge sound and another highlight is Mammoth Caravan, a radio ready slow midtempo melodic stoner rocker a la Queens Of The Stone Age, with good clean vocals. A Tip of Salem closes the album nicely. The best songs are at the end of the album and all together this band has it all, including a big sound, monster guitar riffs, good vocals, great tunes and their debut has high quality stuff on offer from start to finish, so who knows Salem’s Bend will be the next band to follow the footsteps of other new classic rockbands such as Queens Of The Stone Age, Foo Fighters, Airbourne and Wolfmother. Check them out at:


(Points: 8.3 out of 10)


Tim Benton 'Scenes from a well-spent youth' (Independent/UK Import)


Out of New Zealand comes vocalist Tim Benton, who sent me his Cabaret CD Scenes from a well-spent youth that took him back to his musical roots after a performing career spanning everything from pub bands to musical theatre, opera and cabaret in Wellington, Auckland, Sydney, Melbourne, Hawaii and London. The arrangements are simple, evocative and tuneful, developed with the genius of Simon Wallace, leading film and TV composer (Absolutely Fabulous, Clive James Show) and collaborator with many of the UK’s finest jazz and cabaret singers including Clare Teal, Ian Shaw, Sarah Moule, Pete Atkin, Gill Manly and Barb Jungr. The result is a collection of songs that were originally recorded between the mid 1960s to the mid 1970s and explore different styles, such as the British Invasion, Motown, country rock, singer-songwriters and other important musical influences. Tim has got a great perfect voice for that and he could be vocally compared to legends like Andy Williams, Neil Sedaka and Tony Bennett. 60s Cabaret Pop or Bedtime Dreampop Music is what I could call it, but thankfully Tim has got that great clean voice that makes it interesting enough to listen to his interpretation of such classics like Aquarius / San Francisco, The Times They Are a-Changing, Last Train to Clarksville, My Girl, Bus Stop and You've Got Your Troubles. Recommended to the Oldies among us! Check it out at:


(Points: 7.9 out of 10)


The Staves ‘Sleeping In A Car’ (Nonesuch Records/DGR Music)


The UK all-girl trio sisters band The Staves (Emily (vocals, keyboards), Jessica (vocals, guitar, keyboards), and Camilla (vocals, guitar, ukulele) Staveley-Taylor) return with a little 3-song EP that once again showcase the girls’ enormous talent for writing beautiful folk-pop tunes. I have seen them twice live now and they impress a lot with their angelic harmonyvocals and musically speaking they are as good as the similar sounding The Corrs. Now the 3 new songs are a nice sneak preview of greater things to come, because so far they released 2 awesome full-length records and let’s hope a new full-length will emerge soon. Check out especially the lovely titletrack to get a glimpse of the beautiful sound of these girls. Physical releases of the new EP are only available at the shows of the girls, which I can highly recommend, but you can meanwhile listen to this new EP on spotify.


(Points: 8.0 out of 10)


Billy Shaddox 'I melt, I howl' (Independent/Hemifran)


Singer/songwriter Billy Shaddox from Colorado has been in the music business for quite a while now, being part of the band Billy Midnight and now solo with the release of I melt, I howl. Modern American folk music with pop sensibilities is the description of his music in the biography and I would add some early 80s powerpop influences for the fun of it and even some light country here and there. As with many records, the beginning is the best part, so let’s mention the highlights then, such as I Melt, I howl (very good light uptempo folk poprocker a la Calexico/War On Drugs, strong vocals and beautiful relaxing summer melodies), My Hands Don’t Lie (more rockier, uptempo catchy light powerpop ish early 80s a la Jack Green and such), Feels Like Home (folk tune a la Bob Dylan) and Fireflies (melancholic sound, sorta The Byrds ish, quite lovely actually, reminding me of Story of The Year's classic tune Hero). Then comes a part with a lot of “ok” tunes, which aren’t bad at all, but not convincing enough to mention. The CD closes nicely with the very strong semi midtempo melodic rocker Not Easy Anymore. All together, a great album, quite diverse and strong at some critical points, such as vocals, change in music style and memorable melodies. Check out more on Billy at:


(Points: 8.3 out of 10)


Esquela 'Canis majoris' (Livestock Music/Hemifran)


Canis Majoris is the 3rd album of the 2010 formed New York based band Esquela. This female fronted band is basically playing a sorta mix between 60s rockabilly rock and roll, blues and some Americana, roots and alternatieve country, with even an Irish folk tune slipped through the fingers. The vocalwork of singer Rebecca Frame is quite stunning, sorta reminding of Janis Joplin. Guitarist Brian Shafer was part of the 80s American Hair Metal genre, but over here it is a different kind of approach. The bluesy rock of songs like Valentine’s Day, Need Not Apply and Pine tar are sounding quite nice and despite nothing new emerges here, Esquela offers quality music. Check for yourself at:


(Points: 7.8 out of 10)


The Sumner Brothers 'The hell in your mind' (Independent/Hemifran)


The Canadian band The Sumner Brothers is formed around 2 brothers, Brian Sumner - guitars/vocals/keyboards and Bob Sumner - guitars/vocals, with a line-up completed by Joseph Lubinsky Mast – Bass and Leon Power – Drums. Together they have not released the easiest record to listen to, because the alternative rock on their album The hell in your mind is quite challenging and not made for the masses. On the other hand, that makes it interesting to check them out, because they sound quite original. If we go through the material on their album, it starts with Last Night I Got Drunk (calmer sorta Britpop ish tune), followed by Ant Song (lengthy song, sorta melancholic post progressive rocker like Radiohead meets modern sounding Porcupine Tree), Giant Song (slow grungy rocker), It Wasn't All My Fault (calmer Neil Young ish song), Go This One Alone (once again depressive grungy kinda vocals with a distorted guitar), Lose Your Mind (calmer acoustic piece in the singer songwriter style), I'm Not Ready (strong slow rocker) and My Dearest Friends (nice calm singer/songwriter piece, John Grant ish). Highly recommended if you like Neil Young, yet with elements of alternative rock and even a touch of post/progressive rock besides a little dark country and singer/songwriter. More at:


(Points: 8.3 out of 10)


Eric Charles Band '2015 exclusive limited release' (Independent/Canada Import)


Canadian band Eric Charles Band is formed around lead singer Eric Charles, drummer Sherlock, bassist Neil Nunnamaker, guitarist Nick Maldonado and keyboardplayer Luke Collins. What we get to hear on their 2015 Exclusive Limited Release is nice typical radio ready American Poprock in a sorta 1980s style, sounding quite radiofriendly and during such great uptempo tunes like I Never Did You Wrong, Do It Again, In for the Ride and the ballad Into You it is we are spoiled with great 80s inspired poprock with hooklines and sing-a-long choruses in the style of The Outfield, 90s Bon Jovi, Bryan Adams and you name it further. They also remind me a lot of the bands Gun and Kick if you remember them! The album has a big sound/production and despite it is all done before multiple times by countless others, Eric Charles Band is a nice bandname in classic 80s style (remember BE Taylor Group, Michael Stanley Band, etc. etc.) to remember and fans of 80s melodic rock can easily check them out at: as they have released a high quality record!


(Points: 8.2 out of 10)


Echo Bloom 'Red' (Independent/Hemifran)


Echo Bloom is a band formed around the American Kyle Evans, who plays guitar, banjo, keyboards and also sings. He started a trilogy with the release of Blue sometime ago, now followed up by Red and Green will close this story he is about to tell us. Musically speaking there is a difference between each of the 3 records, but we now focus on Red. This album is sounding very diverse and wihout a doubt, it is a high quality release that could be massive for sure if he’s luck enough that the media picks it up. Vocally not always sounding clean and sounding very raw and rough around the edges here and there (due to the use of different singers), the music takes you on a great journey, especially during the great opener Leaving Charleston, an uptempo rocker with Americana influences, like Calexico, WIlco, War on Drugs and such. If we look at some of the other songs, we can tell the diversity in style, because Operator is an uptempo indie pop tune, while Evangeline is a sorta semi ballad that even smells a bit like Aerosmith but in a different kinda bluesy Americana way. Willinghama is reminding me a bit of John Cale. Another Rose is a country/westcoast crossover with The Eagles ish harmonyvocals and a guitar twangle, but a great lightweight uptempo tune. Texas Two is a calm piece with raw Tom Waits comparisons and Revenge is a rather strange song, quite rocking and alternative rock orientated, even Nirvana ish. And so you have it, a very diverse record thanks to the use of different singers in the band, interesting, but perhaps not for all of us worth listening to from start to finish, as you have to be open-minded and expect the unexpected. Check it out for yourself at:


(Points: 8.1 out of 10)


Wild Heart 'Wild Heart' (Independent/Hard Life Promotion)


All the cliches of 1980s US Party/Glam Hardrock are present here, but thankfully it is done well, so therefore the Belgian band Wild Heart is of interest for fans of 80s US acts like Ratt, Motley Crue, Teaze, Britny Fox, Dokken, Dirty Looks, Dirty Blonde, Jesse Strange, etc. etc. Some more diversity on their same titled debut wouldn’t hurt, because most of the songs go directly into the classic 1985 US Mainstream Hardrocksound with the guitar riff and a tight uptempo rhythm, but it does sound quite catchy, with a song like Stone cold fox featuring a riff straight outta the Ratt / early Motley Crue book of fame and fortune. The song that stands out is Beautiful, which starts as a power ballad turning into a midtempo melodic rocker in Dokken/Firehouse style. Vocally it is not that good, with some struggling going on, but at least Farty (yes, that is his name!!!) sounds better than Vince Neil. If you want to hear how 80s US Hardrock more or less sounded like 30 years ago, then look no further than this Wild Heart at:


(Points: 7.8 out of 10)


MILF 'More than you' (Nadir Music/Italy Import)


Founded in November 2010, the Italian band MILF is doing things as if we are still living in 1989. Sleazy Hair Metal is the name of the game here, done quite nicely, but very cliché tingled and perhaps only interesting for die-hard fans of Faster Pussycat, Backyard Babies, Motley Crue, Hardcore Superstar, Guns n' Roses, Velvet Revolver, L.A. Guns and such. More than you is their debut (?) and although it ain’t bad, it also sounds like a second rate version of bands like Kix, Faster Pussycat and Britny Fox. With a bandname that actually stands for Make It Long 'n Fast instead of Mother I'd Like to Fuck, it’s best to check out yourself if you think they will save the world. More at: and and


(Points: 7.1 out of 10)


Storsky 'Storsky' (Independent/DGR Music)


Not so much info on Storsky, but this Dutch band is actually a project formed around vocalist/guitarist Michiel Claessen. He is a great guitarplayer, throwing out monster guitar riffs and in addition singing quite nicely as well. The same titled debut EP features 6 different drummers, including Mario Goossens (Triggerfinger), Tim Van Delft (De Staat) and Jesper Albers (Paceshifters), while live on stage drummer Roy Moonen (The Mad Trist, 37 Stabwoundz, Born From Pain).takes care of the rocking rhythm section. The result in the studio can now be heard as this is a very impressive debut EP that is definitely high quality stuff, rocking quite hard, vocally going up quite a bit (high falsetto) and the songs are mostly midtempo based, groovy bluesy rocking like The Black Keys meets Muse meets Queens Of The Stone Age. Muse is by far the best comparison, just listen to a song like Lost a friend which is dangerously close to Muse, so perhaps it might not be that original, but it’s all done very well!!!! Instrumental it is quite superb, with big fat progressive rock riffs, a groovy stompin’ rocking rhythm and complexity in each and every tune, while not forgetting the melodies. As mentioned, the Muse comparisons are quite obvious, just listen to Means and Ends and Fright night, but in a good way. I am excited how this will go down live on stage during a festival and I believe they are opening Pinkpop this year, so who knows that might be the start for a new big band in The Netherlands. However some more diversity wouldn't hurt next time and also try to get rid of the Muse comparisons a little bit, although I understand one can’t always help sounding like an other band. Meanwhile check out these guys asap at:


(Points: 8.3 out of 10)


The Royal Engineers 'One' (B2 Music/DGR Music)


The Royal Engineers is a very interesting band from Utrecht, The Netherlands, consisting of René Geelhoed (vocals/keys), Rob den Tuinder (bass), Rens Ouburg (guitar/vocals), Michiel Buijsse (drums) and 2 female singers (Simone Dekker and Butet Tamba). Formed in 2012, the band recorded a strong debut album at the legendary Wisseloord Studios in Hilversum. Described as 70s and early 80s popmusic like a cross between Herman Brood, Fleetwood Mac and Steely Dan, they come up with a style that is not heard much nowadays, but was in the later 1970s decade a common sound in the music world. The sound is massive and despite it is a little safe most of the time, the album is definitely a highlight in the amount of new releases. The first record One is an EP, starting with Aeroplane, a strong catchy early 80s keyboard friendly happy uptempo melodic danceable poprocker (pfff, way too many words!!!) with a male/female vocals share in the style of Berlin and Animotion. Get up follows and is a nice midtempo funky soul-poptune and so is Hey sister, which is the first single of the band. Say my name takes a step away from the style of the first 3 songs, because this is a beautiful calm acoustic tingled female sung tune that is basically high class singer/songwriter. Stay together also has the female vocals upfront (male vocals during the second part) and this might well be the best song on the EP, as this is a great midtempo bombastic pop/rock tune with a lovely chorus, even a bit AOR ish and this is one of those songs that could have been American. Closing track Won't you go finishes off quite poppy and is perhaps the least interesting song on the EP. Nevertheless, a great start for this new band. Check out more at: and


(Points: 8.2 out of 10)


The Low Anthem 'Eyeland' (Washington Square/DGR Music)


It took the band The Low Anthem from Providence, Rhode Island, USA 5 years to release a new album, but now they have released Eyeland via Washington Square Records as follow-up to their 2011 record Smart Flesh. The band is formed around Ben Knox Miller (vocals, guitar) and Jeff Prystowsky (drums/vocals/bass) and their original mix of psychedelic Indiefolk, Roots, Lo-Fi Pop and Americana has resulted in a clear own identity that sounds very laid-back, calm and relaxed, making you feel like you’re on a journey or better said, a soundtrack to certain events in your life. Also the new record gives you that feeling, sounding like a mix between Fleet Foxes, Alan Parsons Project and Can, so a touch of krautrock and a lot of melancholic pop can also be heard in the indie psychedelic folk of The Low Anthem. The first 3 songs, Eyeland, Her little cosmos and The pepsi moon give you the atmospheric calm lo-fi atmospheric indiepop sound I was talking about, but a slight change in style during a few songs throughout the CD is also notable, such as during Ozzie, which is more underground uptempo alternative rock orientated or In the early morning of the air hockey fire that is a great laid-back almost Alan Parasons Project kinda tune, but overall there are certainly also a lot of songs that can be described as pure dark melancholic Folk a la Fleet Foxes, while the instrumental Wzgddrmtnwdz is even electronic krautrock in a sorta Can direction. Concluded, The Low Anthem brings you various music directions and their new record is one of those albums you have to lusten to over and over again to explore and discover everytime new things. Recommended! More at:


(Points: 8.4 out of 10)


Sir James 'Voor alle leeftijden' (Independent/DGR Music)


Although I am not personally a fan of Dutch sung Popmusic, there are exceptions and the band Sir James is definitely doing things at a high level and besides that, his album Voor alle leeftijden is written around the terrible disease cancer, so interesting to check out, especially when you are either dealing with this disease or know someone who is fighting for it. Americana pop is what to expect from this Amsterdam based singer/songwriter and the 11 included tunes sound sweet and safe. The Dutch market is what he aims at and I am convinced that fans of let’s say Nielson or even Tim Knol will like this a lot, because Voor alle leeftijden sounds quite strong and can easily reach a big audience. As already mentioned, the lyrics of the 11 songs should for the Dutch people be reason enough to check it out and it seems also a theatre play is planned to support the album. For more info please go to:


(Points: 8.0 out of 10)


Judy Street 'More than enough' (Chameau Records/USA Import)


There are still a lot of rare awesome AOR records from the early 1980s that are waiting to be discovered some 30+ years later. The time frame 1978-1985 saw an incredible amount of high quality records released in the USA, not only on the major labels, but also many acts released (mostly) EPs independently, such as Judy Street, a singer who was kind enough to sent me her 4-tracks counting EP More than enough from 1983. Now this is a pure early 80s female fronted AOR classic in the style of Donna Cristy, Pat Benatar, Scandal, Fiona, Backseat Sally, Delta, Shanghai, Spider, The Breaks, Drama, etc. etc. and then I mean in that exact same rocking style with accompanied superb vocals by Judy (reminding me of a cross between the singer of the bands The Breaks/Drama and Nia Peeples during her Fame TV series period). Judy herself has a long history in music before and after that, taking her mostly into the Northern England Soul direction, but this 1983 rare EP release is pure AOR. She is actually from Indiana originally, but relocated several times and now currently lives in Tennessee, USA. It's only a pity we have just 4 short tracks on this EP, because the 3 uptempo classic AOR rockers More than enough, Heartache and a half and Where do we go from here are all just wonderful and a must-hear for fans of mentioned acts. Judy's voice is simply terrific and basically we would love to hear much more of her voice and the style of this EP, which by the way has a 4th song titled Give me a reason, a ballad co-written by the legendary Steve McClintock. On the other hand, the CD Cover girl she sent me as well contains also perfectly recorded music, which in this case are 10 covers of her favorite Northern Soul tunes. Her voice is really amazing, even after all these years and it's a blessing to listen to her take on such classics like Tainted love, Sunny, Hit&Run and It'll never be over for me. Judy's voice is one-of-a-kind and even if she would start singing the phone book, everyone would be impressed and silent, because it is just stunning. Still, I would absolutely be thrilled if there are more songs in that 1983 EP style, because to me it sounds like a classic in this genre. Check out all on Judy at:


(Points: 8.7 out of 10)