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UPDATED January 2, 2017

Petrichor 'What we've noticed' (Independent/USA Import)

Petrichor is a male/female vocal fronted band from Dalton, Massachusetts, USA with a rather original sound that takes pieces of prog and jazz, sounding like a professional high quality band, yet you have to get used to the vocals, which sometimes sound a bit awkward. Female singer Ella Sears is sometimes singing like she's a child somehow, while also the harmonyvocals are not always perfect. The rest of the line-up consists of AJ Cooney- Drums, Matt Geyer- Lead Guitar, Bass, Vocals, Justin Geyer- Keyboards, Vocals and Whistle, Christian Pickwell- Trumpet, Vocals, Keyboards, Nate Sears- Bass and Guitar and Dan White - Vocals. Instrumental it is quite strong and opener Illusions on their CD What we've noticed is a great song that has a lovely proggy guitarsolo and sounds quite original. Other highlights are Basement hamsters (jazzy, but also a great semi melodic prog ballad, Enchant ish) and Sunny side. You either love or hate the vocals, but on the other hand this band shows potential, so they can work on their sound in the future. Meanwhile, chech them out at:

(Points: 7.5 out of 10)

Tall Bones 'Blind love Vinyl single' (Independent/USA Import)

Tall Bones are a band from Los Angeles, California, formed around Lorenzo de la Loza (bass, acoustic guitar, vocals) and Max Ramm (guitar) and they were kind enough to sent me theit vinyl 7 inch single Blind love that has Son of a gun on side B. Without a doubt, we have here a great sounding band that reminds me a little of The Doors (especially the slow Blind love) and Them (the rocker Son of a gun), so they offer psychedelic late 60s/early 70s kinda rock, at a very high level and therefore I can highly recommend you to check out this band asap at:

(Points: 8.4 out of 10)

Aqua Talk 'Whatever tickles your mind' (Independent/Turkey Import)

Formed at the end of 2015, the Turkish band Aqua Talk quickly started recording material and the result is the debut album Whatever tickles your mind, a very nice Progressive Rockalbum, quality stuff for sure, although the vocals could be stronger. 7 songs are included and for such a young band, Aqua Talk delivers a very impressive record. The 3 members are all students in different universities in Istanbul, so not bad for a start this release and the future will probably bring us much more interesting material. Check them out at:

(Points: 7.7 out of 10)

Samavayo 'Dakota' (Setalight Records/Germany Import)

Samavayo is a German Rock band signed to Setalight Records, originating from Berlin. They have a superb singer on board, namely the Teheran, Iran born Behrang Alavi, who also plays guitar, while the rhythm section features Andreas Voland on bass and Stephan Voland on drums. They were formed in the early 2000s, already have released several albums and meanwhile have built up a name in Europe. The sound is heavy stoner rock, with big fat groovy hardrock riffs 70s and it all sounds quite massive. Wolfmother might be a comparison, although Samavayo has it's own sound, especially during the lovely opener Arezooye bamar that combines Behrang's superb vocals (in Iranian language) and melodies with a heavy groovy stoner rocksound, somehow reminding me of the legendary Divlje Jagode. Although it is rather cool to hear the Iranian language melodies, in English it sounds even better and the rest of the album is in English, sounding superstrong and crystal clear, just listen to excellent songs like Iktsuarpok and Dakota. Now this is a high quality monster record that you absolutely need to check out a.s.a.p. Here we have a very high level and I can not judge if they already reached their peak, because I am not familiar with their earlier work, but this new record Dakota is a highly recommended album! More info at:

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)

Aeonic Impulse 'A night for the troubled' (Independent/Hemifran)

Aeonic Impulse are a progressive rockband from Los Angeles, California with a nice 6 concept album that actually contains 1 full song that covers 41 minutes of music divided in 6 parts. The vocals are not bad, but also not really making the band stand-out between the countless others. The songs are also not that impressive, but on the other hand once again, it's definitely not bad what we get to hear, Regretful insomnia for example is a very nice melodic tune. The sound/production quality is typical indepenent, so don't expect too much here and the screamo vocals in Staring at static are a big let-down, so Aeonic Impulse really need to improve on a future record before we can recommend it. There is potential for sure, but on many levels the band needs to change and perhaps this will lead to a much stronger release in the future, as at the moment they are far from the high level of similar bands like Tool and Porcupine Tree. Nevertheless check out more at:

(Points: 6.8 out of 10)

Snail 'Dream out loud!' (Independent/France Import)

I remember an American AOR/Westcoast band from the 80s called Snail, but this Snail is a new band from France. Musically they bring us quality melodic progressive/alternative rock with good vocals and a clear focus on beautiful melodies instead of constant instrumental complexity. Song based melodic alternative progressive rock like Rush meets Muse meets 90s Marillion and then at a very high level, because a song like Miracle has got huge potential in becoming a radio hitsong! 14 songs are included and a lot of them sound really awesome. A clear modern sound, yet bringing a lot of lovely pleasant melodies, that is what Snail ius all about. Check them out at:

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

Beatray 'A ship's call' (Independent/Germany Import)

Out of Germany comes a great new Melodic Metal band called Beatray. Although they were formed already in 2010 by brothers Tommy and Steven Vogel, whom are both playing guitar (and Tommy taking care of the vocals), their debut is now officially released 6 years after formation. The band's sound is quite heavy, with thrash metal influences, but the songs and vocals are melodic. Mystic Prophecy and Trivium are good comparisons, although vocally not very strong sometimes, as we can trace a clear typical German accent. Nevertheless, the 10 included songs are quite nice to listen to, although as mentioned when Tommy sings, that part is the weakest link I'm afraid, but thankfully the harmonyvocals during the choruses save it a lot. Also need to mention that the guitarwork is picture perfect and the only improvement are the vocals. Check it out at:

 (Points: 7.7 out of 10)

Sepoy 'Impasse' (Independent/USA Import)

Now this is quite an original sounding band, which is partly due to the fact that all members grew up in India. They took those influences with them and in New York City they started to develop their sound and the result is this debut album. Their ethnic rhythmic and tonal influences can be clearly heard in the alternative pop/rocksound of Impasse. The band's name, Sepoy – originally referring to an indigenous soldier serving under an imperialist conqueror – is also the driver behind the theme of their album: a contextualization of the Sepoy’s dilemma in situations faced by everyday people. The band is formed around Amey Rairikar (Lead Guitar), Rahul Ratakonda (Bass), Anupam Burra (Vocals, Keys, Guitar) and Sriram Raman (Drums). The vocals are somewhat modest and sounding quite British actually (Oasis/Beatles and such), while the music rocks from time to time in the typical Alternative Rock direction, also here and there REM ish sounding. Definitely a band that has a bright future, just listen to the rather catchy The Smiths ish tune Back to you. This band delivers quality music, so a big recommendation if you like bands such as The Smiths, REM, Echo and the Bunnymen.... Check them out for yourself at:

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)

Holon 'The time is always now' (Autumnsongs Recordings/Norway Import)

Now here we have a high quality sensational album in the shape of The time is always now by the Norwegian band Holon. Actually it is more or less a project by singer, songwriter and guitarist Ronny Pedersen. Together with Rhys Marsh as producer, the two started working on the album back in 2012, with now the excellent result, because the album is filled with lovely modest melodic progressive rock in the style of Porcupine Tree, Blackfield, Steven Wilson, The Pinneaple Thief, Riverside, Lunatic Soul, Gazpacho and such. Rhys himself is a singer/songwriter and the album is released on his own label Autumnsongs Records. Other musicians on the album are Geir Anfinn Halland Johansen (Anfinnsaas, Stilk and Trasig) on drums, Silje Leirvik on vocals, Kari Harneshaug on vocals, Ketil Vestrum Einarsen (Jaga Jazzist, White Willow) on flute and Lars Fredrik Frøislie (Wobbler, White Willow, Tusmørke) on hammond. 8 songs in total and all of them sound sensational and follow the modern approach of progressive rock, with strong vocals, fantastic arrangements and beautiful melodies all the time, with as highlights the 10 minutes counting epic tunes Falling and Time to go. The great thing regarding the vocals is that both Ronny and Ryan sing and they both have a great voice and during 2 songs also a female singer sings (Silje Leirvik and Kari Harneshaug), whom also sound very good (a song like Two grains of stand could easily become a huge hit!). Do not miss this fantastic album by Holon! More at:

(Points: 8.8 out of 10)

Juliette Strange 'Romeo kills romeo' (Price Entertainment/UK Import)

Juliette Strange is not the name of a female singer, but the name of a band from Tennessee, USA. They bring us a laid-back sorta 70s progrockstyle (without the endless instrumental freaking), yet with a strong 90s British rock approach as well, which is not that strange as they are actually from the UK and are only based as of now in the USA. The band was founded by Johnny Price (vocals) and along with him came Jean-Paul Dehavilland (guitars, bass), Alf Batz (guitars), and Chris Allan (drums) on board and together they recorded their debut album Romeo kills romeo. They surely have a different sound than the usual acts from Nashville and although it needs a few listens before making up a good judgement, they definitely have something of interest to offer us. A little bit like 90s Marillion/Radiohead, with the vocals sounding quite depressing or so to speak, not really cheerful, but nevertheless it is still a rather nice record and recommended to fans of modest 90s rock with semi-prog influences that still sounds melodic. Hard one to really describe this Juliette Strange, just go and check it out for yourself at:

(Points: 7.8 out of 10)

Damian Wilson 'Built for fighting' (Blacklake/UK Import)

The Threshold singer Damian Wilson is a busy guy, just like Bruce Dickinson and Jeff Scott Soto for example, constantly busy with recording new music and projects (recently performing with former Spandau Ballet singer Tony Hadley) and his solo career brings us a sensational new album in the shape of Built for fighting. Completely different from the progressive metal of Threshold, this album is an excellent mix of aor/melodic rock and singer/songwriter. Especially the first couple of songs are truly fantastic (Thrill me and When I was young) sensational AOR ish tunes with lovely vocals by Damian, one of the greatest singers at the moment. This guy should be filling arenas, it doesn't matter what he sings, it always sounds fabulous! Most of the songs are slow to midtempo, with a beautiful ballad here and there, such as Impossible, that sounds like an absolute classic hitsong! So don't expect a rockalbum (except for a song like Sex and Vanilla or the southern rocker Can't heal war), because it surely is a lot calmer, but that shows what an excellent singer Damian is. From start to finish en enjoyable ride! It took Damian to release a new solo record, but the result is very impressive. Thanks to producer Andrew Holdsworth, the album was recorded over the last 12 months in studios in London (UK), Dublin (IE) and Tilburg (NL) with a group of talented musicians, including Bill Shanley (Ray Davies), Lee Pomeroy (Jeff Lynne’s ELO, Take That), Adam Wakeman (Ozzy Osbourne, Black Sabbath) and Brian Willoughby (The Strawbs), while the mixing and mastering took place in Sweden by the Fascination Street duo Jens Bogren and Tony Lindgren, who have worked with acts such as Opeth, Devin Townsend and Haken, but also handled Taylor Swift’s latest live album. Besides the 11 new original songs, there is also a great cover of Depeche Mode’s Somebody. All together it does remind me a little of the solo records from Joey Tempest (just listen to the ballad What have we done to understand my comparison). Anyway, check it out for yourself at:

 (Points: 8.8 out of 10)

Joe Olnick 'Defiant grooves' (Independent/USA Import)

Multi-instrumentalist Joe Olnick from the Harrisburg, Pennsylvania area has been recording and playing in bands for many years and his latest solo album is titled Defiant grooves, a lovely laid-back instrumental jazz/rock fusion album that has the perfect balance between jazz and progressive rock, with a funky touch as well, so interesting for a lot of people. Joe delivers quality stuff here with 7 great tunes, perfectly produced and sounding crystal clear and diverse enough to keep the interest from start to finish. Check it out for yourself at:

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)

Francisca Brown 'Collide' (Independent/USA Import)

Out of California comes the talented multi-instrumentalist Francesca Brown, who was kind enough to sent me her latest album release Collide. Musically speaking we are heading into a sorta alternative americana pop/rock direction that sounds quite lush most of the time and very laid-back, yet with a slight rocking touch here and there (Take that bath). Similarities to Gillian Welch and Laura Marling are definitely possible, although a song like The Hollow is a very nice laid-back americana ish tune that sounds a lot like Chris Isaak, but then of course with female vocals. Francisca is not only a gifted singer, but also plays guitar, banjo, harmonica and saw (!). Classic American traditional music can be heard in the lovely I'll turn out the light that also has a touch of folk like First Aid Kit. Actually it is a very diverse record and quite enjoyable from start to finish. Check it out for yourself at:

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)

Ironbite 'Blood and thunder' (STF Records/Germany Import)

Ironbite is a German band and they are an example of teutonic metal the way it was done some 30 years ago. Sadly the weak vocals do not make it a really interesting affair, so this is one of those releases that really is only recommended to absolute die-hard fans of let's say Grave Digger, Accept, Running Wild, as Ironbite sounds like they recorded the leftovers from those bands. More at:

(Points: 6.0 out of 10)

General Lee 'General Lee' (Independent/SIngapore Import)

General Lee is a band from Singapore and their retro sounding same titled album is filled with quite diverse material, because between the bluesy rock and classic rock, we can also find an Americana sounding tune called Opium Hill, which happens to be a fantastic song and the absolute highlight of the album. The rest of the material is nice, but not sensational and only recommended to die-hard fans of 70s classic rock/bluesy rock. It's quite surprising to see a band from Singapore playing this kind of style, although on the other hand I think to a lot of people it might sound a little dated, like a 1976 record sometimes. Check it out for yourself at:

(Points: 7.7 out of 10)

Her 'Revolution' (India Records/USA Import)

A very diverse record, because Her's album Revolution starts as a very calm traditional Americana/Folk experience, but halfway opener Revolution it gets full-band rock ish and then we are heading into a typical modern day rocksound with strong vocals of female singer Her. The absolute highlight is Damn, a pretty awesome midtempo almost AORish melodic rock tune in best 80s style (Vixen/Laos/Lita Ford), although after this song it gets a bit average and also slightly experimental. Her is by the way the artist name of Monique, a singer/songwriter from New York who delivers a nice album with Revolution, although I think she can do better. More info at:

(Points: 7.8 out of 10)

Michael Fath 'The early years' (Michael Fath Music/USA Import)

Now this is an interesting story, because the band Orphan came to my attention after hearing a lovely song of them on a rare compilation record from the early 1980s. Fast forward I recently got in touch with the original singer, Kris Pettit Fath. She was so kind to sent a full-length official CD release of her ex-husband Michael Fath, who was the guitarist of Orphan! Michael of course became a gifted and well-known guitarist since the late 80s, released dozens of solo-albums in the instrumental rock genre. However, this CD contains his very early recordings from the late 1970s and 1980s, which musically is a combination of AOR, Progressive Rock and Melodic Heavy Rock. Especially the songs by his bands Wizzard and Orphan are quite sensational, with superb guitarwork by Michael and beautiful vocals of Kris, while musically these early 80s recordings sound like a great combination of Styx, Rush and Heart. When hearing Michael play the guitar, you can already his amazing talent. Not sure if this CD is available, but do check out the amazing Michael Fath at:

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)

Fatt Khat 'Alrighty then/Man on a mission' (Saturn Records/USA Import)

2 Cds were sent to me by the Californian act Fatt Khat, a sorta 70s sounding pop/rock band with vocals that remind me a bit of Neil Young, while the music is also including singer/songwriter and pure 70s pop influences like Bowie meets Roxy Music meets Al Stewart. The result sounds a bit thin on both albums and the vocals are not crystal clear, but when things get more uptempo rocking like in the song So see if I care it definitely sounds quite good. Check for yourself at:

(Points: 6.5 out of 10)

Hamish R. Marr 'Antipodes' (Independent/Australia Import)

Out of Australia comes the singer/songwriter Hamish R Marr, who sent me a great CD he released entitled Antipodes. Musically speaking this is clever singer/songwriter with very raw vocals and a sound that fits somewhere between Tom Waits and Rany Newman, with especially during the beginning songs that are dangerously close to those artists. The titlesong is a little more catchier and melodic than most of the material on the album, because this is really something you need to have a good listen to before making a judgement, as this kind of singer/songwriter music is not really easy. Happily, Hamish delivers a great record in this music direction and his voice is one you need to hear as well, so check for yourself at:

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

Various Artists ' IFOR - We still rock - the compilation' (Tanzan Music/Italy Import)

Italians surely love AOR and Melodic Rock and we have seen many bands in the past, but apart from Elektradrive no band has ever really made it big inside the melodic rock community. A pity, because this new compilation CD once again shows that there are definitely great bands active in the melodic rockscene of Italy, such as Charming Grace, Danger Zone, Hungry Heart and Highway Dream. Besides Italian bands, the Italian label Tanzan Music also present a few bands with foreigners in the line-up such as the Frank Vestry fronted Laneslide or the UK based Vega. Definitely a quality compilation CD to check out and discover some great new bands on the Tanzan Music label at:

(Points: 8.1 out of 10)

Born Of Scars 'Circles' (Independent/USA Import)

Out of Queens, New York comes the band Born Of Scars, whom sent me a great mini-CD title Circles. Although musically it is not bringing anything new or original, the result is still very impressive, because the included melodic heavy rock/goth metal in typical European female fronted style of Evanescence, Within Temptation, Xandria and such, it is done at a very high level and especially a song like Cradle to grave shows that we are dealing with a very impressive band you need to check out asap at:  

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)

Noah Pine 'Close to the ground' (Independent/USA Import)

Noah Pine comes out of Atlanta and he is a singer/songwriter releasing a mini CD that musically grabs back to the late 60s/early 70s psychedelic rock meets bluesy rock kind, yet with somehow an own identity due to his voice, which sounds a little bit like Randy Newman. The music itself also has similarities to Randy, while I also smell a bit of Black Crowes. Noah also plays organ, while the rest of the 'band' features Michael Lamond - bass, Guy Strauss- drums and Matt Tanner-backing vocals. The material is pretty lightweight and mostly slow to midtempo. If you like one, then you will definitely like them all. More at:

(Points: 7.3 out of 10)

Marwan Maurice 'Black smoke' (Independent/USA Import)

Now here we have something really sensational. Marwan Maurice comes out of Findlay, Ohio and he sent me an awesome mini-album titled Black smoke. This guy has an incredible voice and his music is sorta classic slow traditional American bluesy rock with a Sam Cooke meets Jack White meets John Lee Hooker kinda vibe. Vocally Marwan has an own identity and he has a very pleasant voice to listen to. Sistah soul and I can't are the kinda slow bluesy rockers that instantly will grab you and make you interested in hearing much more of this talented singer/songwriter. I am absolutely convinced that Marwan has got all it takes to become much bigger in the near future. Meanwhile check him out at:

(Points: 8.6 out of 10)

The Livesays 'Hold is calling' (Echo XS/USA Import)

Now here we have something really impressive, because the album of the Florida based band The Livesays sounds like a major label release. It has a sorta late 80s/early 90s touch somehow, in the typical classic American Heartland Pop/AOR/Rock style of acts like Bruce Springsteen, B.E. Taylor, Michael Stanley, John Cougar, Tom Kimmel, John KIilzer, Billy Falcon, Aldo Nova,Tom Petty, etc. There's really a strong touch of AOR/Melodic Poprock as well here (No promises for example is pure midtempo AOR and the uptempo I've heard the truth before has a John Waite kinda sound, while Turn it around is dangerously close to the AOR songs Sammy Hagar did in the 1980s). I can absolutely highly recommend this album to anyone interested in hearing real music with melodies and a rocking approach (Bryan Adams comparisons are also possible), while vocally the band's lead singer Billy Livesay has a fantastic voice that sounds a little like Sammy Hagar, but he is also a gifted guitarplayer (just listen to a song like Pop star). Billy himself by the way has played with/in many bands in the past, including Foghat and Clarence Clemon's band, and he shared the stage with legendary singers/musicians like Mickey Thomas (Jefferson Starship), Gerry Beckley (America), Jimi Jamison (Survivor), Steve Augeri (Journey), Mike Reno (Loverboy), Wally Palmer, Davey Jones (The Monkees), Willie Nile, Coz Canler & Dave Petratos (The Romantics), David Jenkins (Pablo Cruise), Brian Howe (Bad Company), Nicko McBrain (Iron Maiden), Wayne Nelson (Little River Band), sax great Phil Kenzie (Al Stewart, Rod Stewart, Eagles), David Pack (Ambrosia), Kelly Keagy & Jack Blades (Night Ranger), Eddie Money and more. His music can be heard in countless TV shows, while the other musicians in The Livesays also played in many acts in the past, such as Slyder and especially the drummer, Eddie Zyne, he started in 1974 when he landed himself the drumming position with Hall and Oates. Eddie has also toured and/or recorded with Todd Rundgren, Desmond Child, The Monkees, The Grass Roots, Gary Puckett, “Lonesome Dave” Peverett in Foghat, Tom Dowd, Rick Derringer, and Brian Howe of Bad Company. All together a very impressive list and a wonderful CD this band has released. From start to finish, this is the real deal. If you are kinda familiar with the mentioned acts, then you know how this might sound like and I can guarantee you that it is even better than what you might expect! Check it out for yourself at:

(Points: 8.8 out of 10)

Zen Archer 'The best of volume 1' (Independent/USA Import)

As a major collector of rare 80s American Radio Compilation records, I stumbled on a great band from Texas called Zen Archer, whom had two songs on various records in 1982. Somewhere along the way I recently got in touch with one of the founding members, Randy Miller, who waas kind enough to sent me a copy of a CD he had released with material from Zen Archer that was recorded between 1988 and 1992, taking from the band's 3 albums. Musically they had moved from pure early 80s AOR/Pomprock the American way to a more sophisticated sound that sounded more like progressive poprock, kinda like 80s Rush meets Toto meets 80s Yes (Dream machine and Borrowed time) and a tiny bit of the powerpop of Jellyfish (Too blind to see). Not bad at all, with some AOR influences as well (In these chains and Useless) and a smooth westcoast sound also here and there (Would you let me down), all done at a very high level and therefore this is highly recommended to check out if you happen to find a copy. More info at:

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)

Eve Alman 'From the storm' (Independent/USA Import)

From the storm is the 3rd album of American singer-songwriter Eve Alman. She has a great voice and it´s all about beautiful melodies on this album, because from start to finish we get to hear great calmer acoustic tingled music that is pop enough to appeal to a lot of people, but also holding on to traditional folk music. Besides singing, the Florida based musician also plays all guitars, ukuleles, bass, banjo, vocals, and percussion. The result is very impressive and recommended to check out at:

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

Piet Louter 'Various albums' (Independent/Dutch Import)

We received two CDs from this talented singer/songwriter from the North of Holland, Piet Louter. His music is clearly singer/songwriter based with however a strong melancholic 70s pop touch and some slight AOR and Westcoast influences here and there. His way of singing is reminding of the legendary Piet Veerman of The Cats, but the music is more interesting, with as mentioned before some calmer light AOR tingled tunes as well (On the go again, From now on and best song, the midtempo AOR of Written in the stars) that remind me a little bit of Mark Spiro somehow. I can also hear similarities to the legendary Sandy Coast in a song like Broken life, but also real smooth 70s crooner Pop a la Demis Roussos (The present time) and even BZN sometimes comes to mind (The one I have become). These songs can be found on his debut CD from 2012, Footprints in the sand, which contains 16 tunes in total. The follow-up The fair story was released in 2015, contains 17 songs and features more or less the same style, which is a mix of singer/songwriter, 70s pop with a slight Folk touch and some AOR/Westcoast moments as well. Perhaps the album sounds a little rockier and somehow overall a little bit better than his debut. Highlights on The fair story are opener Power-hungry men, the ballad Message from Kishore (great guitarsolo), the Kayak ish Symphonic rocker Highway to heaven (also great guitarwork), Animal feelings (great midtempo AOR) and Secret life. The production is very good and it all looks and sounds very professional, so I can definitely recommend this talented multi-instrumentalist/singer/songwriter, with his 2nd album as most recommendable one! More info at: and

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

Eye 'Vision and ageless light' (Laser's Edge/Bertus)

Here we have a very interesting American band with a pure 1970s inspired symphonic/progressive rocksound that recalls memories of the great sound that was fabricated in that period of music history, so it is leaning heavily on modular synths, mellotron and organs, while the guitarwork and sorta psychedelic rocksound resembles Uriah Heep and Black Sabbath similarities, but then again musically speaking it is all crossed with Pink Floyd, while Hawkwind influences are also present sometimes. It's a mix of everything from the 70s and if you like for example a new band like Temples or Wolfmother for that matter, whom are doing a little bit the same and are praised a lot, this Eye is yours as well. Their new album Vision and ageless light contains only 4 songs (not counting the intro), but still it is a full-length record, which is partly due to the fact that the final song As sure as the sun is a 27 minutes counting epic tune. This song features really cool 70s Star Wars/Science Fiction ish synthesizers and great classic rock guitarsolos, while musically it develops into a very interesting classic proggy tune a la Spock's Beard. Another highlight is Dweller of the twilight void that is sounding like a perfect cross between Alan Parsons Project and Pink Floyd, including those cool retro Moog synthesizers (a la Steve Miller Band's classic Fly Like an Eagle). The band comes out of Colombus, Ohio and they are clearly a band to watch out for, because they might as well become the next big thing! More info at: and

(Points: 8.6 out of 10)

Edensong 'Years in the garden of years' (Laser's Edge/Bertus)

The American band Edensong started way back in 2002, released their debut in 2008 entitled The fruit fallen, but it took them another 8 years before a follow-up was released. Now the wait is over and upon checking my own archives I stumbled on the review I did of their first record ( and actually nothing has changed, because Edensong once again delivers a very strong progressive rockalbum with strong melodies and a sound somewhere between Jethro Tull, Kansas and 70s Genesis. Prog with lots of melodies and some cool folk and even singer/songwriter parts, so not an endless freaking instrumental improvisation, but really focusing on songs with a character. Edensong does it very well and I can definitely highly recommend their new album! Check it out for yourself at:

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)

Veil Of Mist 'Disenchantment' (Valkyrie Rising/Sonic Rendezvous)

Formed in 2004, the French band Veil Of Mist has come a long way before releasing this debut album Disenchantment. They released a few demos and EPs in the early years, but for many years they were struggling finding the right line-up. So it took them 12 years to release the first album, but happily the result is very pleasant for the ears, because Disenchantment sounds like a really good typical modern day sounding female fronted melodic metal record. Opener Fane sets the record straight, because this is a really lovely tune and so is the next track Scarecrow and the following track La Cohorte des Essenlis and so on and so on. Although not very original, because it is in the exact same style as bands like Xandria, Within Temptation, Visions Of Atlantis, Delain, Edenbridge, Lacuna Coil, Sirenia, Nemesea, Lunatica, Stream Of Passion, Amberian Dawn, Krypteria, Elis, etc. etc. , it is all done at an incredible high level, bringing perfect melodies, enough instrumental variation and there's some great singing by singer Amandine Rosselle going on here. There was a period of time I listened non-stop to this kind of melodic metal, but at one point got tired of it, because basically it all sounded the same, but thanks to Veil Of Mist, we finally have a recommended release in this overcrowded style within the melodic metal genre. Delain fans need to pay attention, because it has the same high quality. Go check them out asap at:

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)

Hollow Water 'Rainbow's end' (Nineteen 73/UK Import)

British are best at offering high quality progressive rock and Hollow Water is the next in line to present us a very impressive album that basically is a must for anyone into classic progrock. Influences of Camel, Genesis, Yes and also Muse are very clear, with as one of the highlights on their 2nd album Rainbow's end the beautiful Immortal portal. Also the modern sounding Solar season needs to be mentioned, as this song shows that the band is not shy from modern sounds, a very Muse sounding tune we have on offer here, And actually this sci-fi conceptual album is a great 79 minutes counting adventure through the fields of progressive rock from the 70s until now, so they make it sound very diverse and attractive to listen to the whole album without hitting that forward button. Definitely a recommended album to all the progfans out there! More info at:

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)

Bugenhagen 'Bu:gen'heigen' (Nineteen 73/UK Import)

Vocalist/guitarist Johnny Turpin formed the band Bugenhagen not too long ago and the result is a very impressive debut EP that is now released. The band's music is very melodic sounding progressive rock that sounds like a cross between Kino, Lonely Robot, It Bites and Frost, so very keen on strong melodies and a big modern sound/production, yet still very much focusing on the typical progrock improvisations. It's probably in his first name, because Johnny is as talented as the legendary John Mitchell, who is known for the earlier mentioned bands. The music is very similar and it was a huge pleasure to listen to the whole album, because everytime we are surprised by yet another great song, which makes it a pity that only 5 songs are included. The absolute highlights are the melodic rock ish opener Without you by my side and the AORish The greatest of them all. Can't wait for a full-length release of this band! More at:

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)

Nerissa Schwarz 'Playgrounds lost' (Nineteen 73/UK Import)

Nerissa Schwarz is a very talented multi-instrumentalist/singer/songwriter who already found some attention during her time in the bands Coronal Rain and progressive rock band Frequency Drift. With that last mentioned band she recorded 5 albums, contributed her own songs and unusual electric harp arrangements, but since 2014 she also started working on a solo-album of which we now can hear the result on her first solo album, Playgrounds Lost. She did everything on her own, including writing, experimenting, arranging, recording and producing the music. The interesting fact that she only used the electronic harp and a mellotron as instruments makes it even more appealing that we are dealing with a rather unique album. White Willow and Anglagard are mentioned as similar acts, but let's keep it on an instrumental journey with mimimal use of instruments and creating an atmospheric vibe that almost recalls Tangerine Dream or Can. Well done and perfectly suitable for a futuristic art movie in the Apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic fiction genre. Check it out for yourself at:

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

Karmamoi 'Silence between sounds' (Nineteen 73/UK Import)

The Italian band Karmamoi was formed in 2008 and they released their debut after performing at the famous Eurosonic Festival in Groningen. Progressive rock with female vocals is their music style and through the years they switched singers a lot, with as result they are now a three-piece band with guest female vocalists. It's a nice progrockalbum, but not groundbreaking I'm afraid, because therefore I find the vocals a bit too standard and out-of-place (more alternative singer/songwriter pop/rock orientated). However, instrumental these guys are doing things at a very high level and this can best be heard during the fantastic instrumental progrock masterpiece Atma. In case you are interested, check them out at:

(Points: 7.7 out of 10)

Heart Avail 'Heart avail' (Independent/USA Import)

Out of Spokane, Washington, USA comes the band Heart Avail, a great sounding female fronted band with a strong mini-CD as debut album. Their sound is not really original, because it leans close to Symphonic female fronted rock bands like Xandria, Delain, Within Temptation, Evanescence and such, but they are doing it very well actually, so that is not a bad thing at all. The band's singer Aleisha Simpson has a great rock voice and their guitarplayer Greg Hanson is a really awesome rocking musician who plays very easily some cool, almost prog metal sounding guitar riffs. The overall result is a very nice mini debut album that can be highly recommended and although it reminds a lot of the mentioned bands, Heart Avail has a slight different touch as well due to Greg's Progressive Metal approach here and there in the instrumental breaks. Check out the band at:

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)

Moving Structures 'Awake' (Independent/USA Import)

Out of L.A. comes a sensational new instrumental band called Moving Structures. Their debut is titled Awake and the line-up consists of guitarist James Moore, bassist Kevin Lewis, guitarist Mitch Wayte and drummer Chris Marquard. What we get to hear is high quality instrumental progressive rock, but not complex or freaking, just plain normal with a lot of melodies that are played on the guitar as a replacement for the vocals, so they actually let the guitar sing the melodies and that is always a good thing. For an instrumental release, this is a very good one, also the production is top of the bill and there's nothing to stand in my way to give this a high rating and a recommendation to check out at:

(Points: 8.4 out of 10)

Rust On The Rails 'Talisman' (Black Pike Favorites)

2017 starts with an awesome debut of the band Rust On The Air from Seattle, formed by vocalist/guitarist Cody Beebe and Aussie born guitarist (and Didgeridoo player!) Blake Noble back in 2013. They mix classic American bluesrock with Americana, Folk and Soul, with however enough melodies to keep it interesting for the regular popmusic fans and rocking enough for the rockers among us. 11 songs are included on Talisman and despite there aren't any real uptempo rockers, the material keeps you entertained from start to finish, with many highlights to be heard. Funny thing is even the fact that when the band rocks (Far cry), this seems like the weakest moment, because at the other styles the present us they sound very sensational, such as the cool funky rocker Crutch that smells a bit like Living Color. A song like Abbott and Costello is a really superb slice of slow to midtempo bluesy rock with a catchy chorus that everyone will easily sing-a-long during concerts. Or how about the fantastic semi melodic rock ballads Secrets and Foolish pride, where the vocals sound really amazing and very soulful. The use of Didgeridoo is really cool and sets the band apart from the rest. There's not a single weak moment to be found and actually quite a few songs could easily become huge hits, such as for example the Mumford And Sons ish sounding Lost and found. And let's not forget to mention the beautiful ballad Play the fool that once again show what an incredible singer Cody is. There's enough diversity and the musicianship, production and vocals are at an incredible high level, so go check out this sensational band asap at: because they might become the next big thing!

(Points: 8.6 out of 10)

Echotape 'Wicked way' (Gentlemen Records/DGR Music)

Out of a small town in Scotland comes the band Echotape, who have already built up quite a reputation through the past few years, with support airplay by BBC and an appearance in SkyNews. Anyway, the music is more or less typical British Rock the modern way, so they could easily become that next big band to breakthrough. The Strypes are sometimes a band that is musically speaking a good comparison for Echotape, which means we get to hear good catchy uptempo rock and roll with a punky attitude and a song like opener All my days is one of those tunes that is an instant hit during a concert. And there are a few more songs like that on the band's first CD Wicked way (Pray for example), although a song like I got you takes a different path, reminding a lot of Mumford And Sons, so typical modern day uptempo Indie meets folk that easily invites everyone to sing-a-long. And actually as the CD develops, the band gets calmer and is more aiming at an indie meets folk approach (check out the beautiful melodic Little white lies for example). However, one of the absolute highlights is the uptempo modern melodic rocker See you soon that is an instant radio hit, sounding like the perfect cross between Kings Of Leon and The Gaslight Anthem. Mix all the mentioned bands from the review, then you might get this Echotape, so definitely quality stuff is the name of the game here. Despite it isn't original, it's a pretty nice record to play loud and proud! More info at:  

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)

Future Thieves 'Live at Blue Rock' (Black Pike Favorites)

Settled in Nashville, the band Future Thieves was formed in 2013 and after releasing a debut album in 2015 (Horizon line), the band wanted to capture their live sound on a recording. Therefore they have now released a live album title Live at Blue Rock that shows a real great rocking band. Opener Dark in the day sets the record straight, because this is a really great catchy uptempo rocker that melts together classic rock, melodic rock and a little bit of Americana, ending up sounding like a tough Heartland Rockband. The vocals of singer/guitarist Elliot Collett sound very good, raw here and there, reminding a little bit of John Cougar. The music also ain't that far away from John Cougar or Michael Stanley, with a touch of Drivin'n'Cryin'. Other highlights besides opener Dark in the day are the uptempo melodic poprockers Horizon line, Soon and Hesitate and the midtempo Ghosts. Fans of typical American rootsy rock like Kings Of Leon, Gaslight Anthem, Bruce Springsteen, John Cougar, Drivin'n'Cryin' should asap check out this great band at:

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)

Laurence Jones 'Take me high' (RUF Records/GFI Promotions)

Take me high is the 4th album of British guitarplayer/singer/songwriter Laurence Jones, who is praised a lot lately and that is not so strange when you listen to his new record Take me high. The album was produced by the legendary Mike Vernon (John Mayall's Bluesbreakers, Eric Clapton, Fleetwood Mac, Peter Green, Ten Years After, David Bowie) and basically what we get to hear is of a very high level and also very diverse, because Laurence is not just another blues guitarist. He is clearly influenced by a lot of other styles besides the blues, because during a song like Live it up he rocks quite hard and a lot of songs are soulful pop/rock orientated. The guitarwork is very subtle and smooth,a bluesy lick for sure, yet with a pop melody, kinda like Eric Clapton and Robert Cray. Robben Ford similarities can also be heard here and there, so there's a jazzy touch as well (Thinking about tomorrow) and somehow vocally and also musically I can hear some Living Colour similarities. Just listen to songs like Take me high, I will and Down & Blue to understand what I mean regarding the Living Colour comparison. Of course Laurence also has pure blues on offer, which can best be heard during Got no place to go, The price I pay and Addicted to your love. If you like guitarists/singers such as Philip Sayce, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Jarekus Singleton and Robin Trower, then you will definitely love newcomer Laurence Jones as well. More info at:

(Points: 8.4 out of 10)

Dawes 'We're all gonna die' (HUB Records/DGR Music)

The LA based The Dawes return with yet another very strong album titled We're all gonna die. Without a doubt, right from the start with the catchy radio-ready One of us they hit the bullseye with their catchy summer friendly melodic pop/rock that sounds a bit like a healthy mix of Venice, Crowded House, Band Of Horses and My Morning Jacket. The band also throws in influences from soul, americana, folk and typical close harmony westcoast driven singer/songwriter into their mix, which can be heard in a melting pot of all styles in the beautiful calmer We're all gonna die that sounds a lot like classic 70s (Steely Dan meets James Taylor). Jonathan Wilson also comes to mind sometimes, but that is not so strange when you know that it was him who sorta discovered them. 7 years after their debut album North hills, the band has built up a strong reputation in the USA, with several hit singles and albums. I feel that this new album, which is out on their own label Hub Records, it might be their strongest with many memorable catchy tunes. For example the midtempo Roll with the punches, which has got all it takes to become a classic rock/AOR radio hit, sounding like a rockier version of Venice, including those lovely harmonyvocals. Any of the 10 included songs is very interesting and further absolute highlights to mention are Picture of a man and For no good reason. A highly recommended album and perhaps the best album so far from The Dawes. Check them out at:

(Points: 8.7 out of 10)

Headline Maniac 'Headline Maniac' (RodHot Records/UK Import)

The British band Headline Maniac is formed around members of the legendary band Eddie and the Hot Rods, Simon Bowley on Drums, Dipster Dean on Bass and Vocals and Chris Taylor on Guitar. Within a year the result is a fantastic uptempo melodic heavy blues rocking same titled debut album that features 11 blistering rockers. Most of them are uptempo and quite catchy, with strong vocals, a tight rocking rhythm section and a memorable chorus, with as best ones Give me one more chance, Someone like you and Millionaire. Perhaps not original and not so complicated, the result is nevertheless a pleasure to listen to and very energetic to play loud and proud. It's a little bit in the style of acts like Kings Of The Sun, Krokus, a softer Shakra, AC/DC, Rose Tattoo, The Cult, Rhino Bucket, Helix, etc. Check them out for yourself at:

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)

Gus Monsanto 'Karma cafe' (Discmidia/Brazil Import)

Brazilian Vocalist/Guitarist Gus Monsanto was involved in many acts in the past, including Revolution Renaissance, Adagio, Human Fortress, Astra, Code Of Silence, Angel Heart, Gunpoint, Lightseekers, Thunderstone... Meanwhile he also has a solo carreer going on, which now results in a new CD titled Karma Cafe. 14 tracks are included and musically speaking it is a very nice Melodic (Hard) Rock affair what we get to hear. Songs like the uptempo No candle left in the box and the midtempo Fire and dynamite are very strong tunes. From start to finish, this is definitely a great album to check out if you want to hear no-nonsense melodic hardrock in the style of Jaded Heart, Pink Cream '69 and Firehouse, while also some 80s powerpop a la Jellyfish can be heard in a catchy tune like A girl I know and Fel. Quite interesting to check out for yourself at:

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)

Mallet 'Man on fire' (Baze Records/Germany Import)

A long time ago when Strutter was just a small printed fanzine, we reviewed and even interviewed the German band Mallet. That was around 1996 and now 20 years later from out of nowhere a new album lands on my desk, which is in the meantime already their 11th album. The band hasn't changed a bit and still playing a mix of classic rock, bluesy rock and melodic rock. 12 songs are included and some are not too complicated and just plain old school classic rock. However, here and there we can hear a really great tune, such as the melodic rocker Million dollar babe, the melancholic sounding On my way and most definitely the calmer Follow the river that sounds a bit like classic 70s Uriah Heep (July Morning) meets Americana (Calexico). Also a bunch of Status Quo ish tunes can be found, so it is a mix of diverse traditional styles within the rockworld of the past. Nice to see Mallet still making good quality music. Check it out for yourself at:

(Points: 8.1 out of 10)

Sloppy Joe's 'Eight reasons to rock' (Timezone/Germany Import)

Out of Germany comes the punkpoprockband Sloppy Joe's. A 3-piece band that recorded a short 8 tracks counting album that includes a collection of covers and own material. The music is classic fast punkpop like so many countless other acts have done in the past, but they do it well, especially when you listen to their versions of classic tunes like Diana and Without you. Vocalist Jesse Garon has a fantastic strong voice (like a mix between the singers of Vollbeat and Ignite) and I surely hope for more own material on a future CD, because a great song like Right decision (both versions!) shows that they are able to deliver high quality music on their own that is nonetheless dangerously close to Vollbeat. Also fans of Pennywise, Ignite and such need to check them out asap at: because Sloppy Joe's is a promise for the future in the powerpoppunk genre!

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)

Power 5 'Talisman/Best Of' (Independent/Czech Import)

I have never heard of Power 5, but it seems they have been around for a long time, since I received a new CD titled Talisman, which comes as a double disc with as CD 2 a best of album that contains 15 additional tracks. They hail from Czech Republic and also sing in their own language, which for us is quite hard to follow, but the music is quite alright actually. Not groundbreaking, but they do deliver nice neo-classical European melodic metal that sounds like a mix between Maiden, Scorpions, Nightwish and Stratovarius. Vocally not as strong as you want it to be, but the sound and production and especially instrumental they do sound quite impressive, so if you're starting to become interested, then check them out at:

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

Moved To Duarte 'Les Bohem' (Jack Rabbit Day Records/USA Import)

American singer/songwriter Les Bohem was once part of an upcoming Los Angeles based band called Gleaming Spires (“Are You Ready For the Sex Girls” which was featured in Revenge of the Nerds) and he even was offered the bass player job with the band Sparks. However, eventually he went out of the rock and roll business and became a very succesfull sscreenplay writer (A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 5, Daylight, Dante’s Peak) and also wrote and produced the legendary SciFi mini-series Taken together with Steven Spielberg. However, he never stopped playing music and his songs were recorded by Emmylou Harris, Randy Travis, Freddy Fender and many others. Now finally after all these years he managed to release a solo-album, which consists of 2 CDs. Moved to Duarte is the name of the album and basically it is classic singer/songwriter-folk like a mix between Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan. Storytelling tunes on acoustic guitar with the voice of Les, basically a must-have for fans of the mentioned legendary singer/songwriters. More info at:

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

Pymlico 'Meeting point' (Apollon Records Prog/Norway Import)

Here we have one of the strongest instrumental album releases I have heard in ages. The band is called Pymlico and they hail from Norway. Meeting point is their 4th album so far and they now start to built up a reputation after playing as support act to the Italian progband The Watch. Pymlico consists of Stephan Hvinden/Guitars, Øyvind Brøter/Keyboards, Axel Toreg Reite/Bass, Arild Brøter/Drums and keyboards and Marie Færevaag/Saxophones, keyboards & percussion. It will also be released on vinyl and I have to admit I am not a big fan of instrumental releases, but this one grabbed my attention due to the incredible high level. Its  a very 1970s symphonic/progressive rock orientated album that recalls memories of long forgotten days (Alan Parsons Project, Camel and Alquin), but done very well and sunding very fresh. The use of a sax is making it a diverse record that keeps you entertained from start to finish. A perfect background record and therefore highly recommended to the fans of calmer and super melodic instrumental progressive rock. More info at:

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)

Tank Fullogas 'Custom bike in a desert' (Independent/USA Import)

Custom bike in a desert is the first full-length album of Tank Fullogas, an American band/project formed around guitarist/vocalist T-Fog. He started the whole project by recording songs with different session musicians, but is currently looking for musicians to complete the line-up of this project and make it a real band in the near future. The included music is classic rock based. Not bad at all, although I feel indeed that some fresh musicians to assist T-Fog on a future record might result in a stronger album. Check it out for yourself at:

(Points: 6.4 out of 10)

Glory Daze 'Octavirus' (Independent/Germany Import)

The German band Glory Daze is playing the classic 80s melodic hardrockstyle like many German bands did some 30 years ago. It's like we put on an old vinyl record from 1986, because it is dangerously close to the sound of legendary bands such as V2, Victory, Pink Cream 69, Veto, High Tension, Axxis, etc. etc. Perhaps not original, they are doing it very well, with a singer who sounds like a cross between Udo and Rob Halford, but musically a bit closer to Melodic Hardrock than Heavy/Power Metal, although fans of classic Accept/Priest will also like this band a lot, The sound is huge and instrumental they are top-notch, so anyone into the mentioned bands need to check them out asap at:

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

Magnuson 'Discordia' (Macaroni Penguin Musicependent/Germany Import)

Out of L.A. comes the sensational duo Magnuson, a sorta family duo (male/female) like The White Stripes, but then heavier. Magnuson consists of Greg Magnuson (drums, guitars, vocals) and Kyrsten Magnuson (guitars, drums, vocals). Together they already released 4 albums and so Discordia is their 5th effort so far. They share the lead vocals and also instrumentally speaking they switch instruments, making this two members counting band sound really huge. They have an own identity, with of course White Stripes similarities, but with a sorta melodic hardrock touch as well, sounding nevertheless ultra-modern and ready for a huge breakthrough someday soon. A song like On the way shows that this is a band to keep your eyes wide open for in the future, but also The interrogation has a real catchy melodic beat (even a bit Lita Ford actually). Magnuson delivers sensational material of an incredible high level. If you're starting tio become interested, then go to their site at:

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)

Flying Circus 'Starlight clearing/Live/25' (Independent/Germany Import)

The band Flying Circus was founded all the way back in the winter of 1989/1990 and I stumbled on a review I did of them 15 years ago, so we have a past connection with this German band. Meanwhile they booked some successes and released a couple of records since 2000, but somewhere along the way I lost track of them until now. Not just a new studio album was sent, but also a live DVD and a CD that contains re-recordings of their early unreleased material. The 3 releases come as a package release, so it is an excellent start to check out this band. Flying Circus hasn't changed much and is still making good quality melodic progressive rock, performed at a very high level and especially the live DVD showed me that Flying Circus is a band that deserves much more attention. Vocally not always perfect, the melodic progressive rock is on the other hand quite impressive and should appeal to the fans of bands like Sylvan, Enchant, Sieges Even, Vanden Plas, Subsignal and such. A great comeback of this band and I can definitely recommend fans of mentioned bands to check them out asap at:

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)

Noesis 'The current' (Independent/Canada Import)

Out of Quebec, Canada comes the band Noesis, whom are releasing their debut CD with this The current. Their influences come from Pink Floyd, System of a Down, Alice in Chains, Mastodon, Dream Theater, Porcupine Tree, Muse, Inner Odyssey and countless others, so the insiders know then that we are dealing wih a progressive rockband. They are keen on melodies, so no endless stretching of the songs with instrumental complexity, but throw some strong tunes in your face that grab you with pleasant melodies. It does sound like a mix between Mastodon and Porcupine Tree actually, with an Alice In Chains sorta vibe in a song like Raging hell. The production and sound quality is of a very high level and only vocally I might hear some very slight struggling, but it never gets annoying. Check them out at:

 (Points: 8.0 out of 10)

Snap Border 'Alternative current box' (ndependent/Germany Import)

Formed in 2012, the French band Snap Border delivers a very impressive debut album entitled Alternative current box. The band's sound is massive, very American orientated, with great vocalwork and both instrumental and songwise, they bring us great material at a high level. The guitarsolo's are really awesome and super melodic, while the already mentioned vocals sound very good for a French singer. Alter Bridge, Shinedown, Stone Sour, Three Days Grace and such bands come to mind while listening to this great album. Melodic Modern American Rock with big Metal riffs is the name of the game here and I definitely recommend them to any serious rock/metal fan out there, because if Snap Border was an American or British band, the magazines and websites would probably rave on and on about them. More info at:

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)

Fallen Mankind 'Bleak ocean' (Independent/Germany Import)

Bleak ocean is the debut album of a hot new Swedish band called Fallen Mankind. They are basically delivering pretty standard melodic metal. There's more possible in the future I think, but for now the songs are a bit too cliche tingled and vocally it is slightly average. There are thousands of bands doing the same thing, so I am afraid they will have a hard time to stand out. Guitarwork is quite good actually and let's say if you're into classic underground NWOBHM ish sounding 80s Swedish bands like 220 Volt, Heavy Load, Syron Vanes, Crystal Pride, Universe, then you need to check this Fallen Mankind at:

(Points: 7.1 out of 10)

Val Tvoar 'In light you believe...but in darkness you dwell' (Heliaed Records/Estonia Import)

We are heading over to Estonia where we are surprised by a really sensational first solo-album of Val Tvoar, who is a successful, talented Estonian guitarist, composer, multi-instrumentalist and the founder of bands Soul Thrower and Human Ground. In Light You Believe…But In Darkness You Dwell is the title of the record and without a doubt, this is one of those albums you start listening to and don't want to stop no matter what happens, because it sounds that good. Stoner Rock with a touch of classic Twisted Sister Melodic Metal meets a piece of Trivium, then you might get Val Tvaor's sound. He has a great voice, the songs are quite catchy and melodic and it is actually Metal ish with big fat stoner rock ish guitarwork. 14 songs are included, so enough to check out and it's all high quality from start to finish. Don't miss this awesome release! More at:

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)

Riff Through Time 'Riff Through Time' (Independent/Germany Import)

The French band Riff Through Time is formed around Christian St-Hilaire and Louis Trudel, whom both take care of all things here except the drums (Andre Ferderber) and a bit of piano. They have released quite a nice debut record that contains pure melodic rock with a focus on very catchy melodies (in 1980s style), reminding me a bit of The Outfield and Nelson, with even a pure AOR ballad included (Loving you without you). They are doing a great job, with many memorable tunes and therefore it is highly recommended to melodic rockfans and yes, the vocals of Christian are sounding very good thankfully! Although not very original and there's nothing new to be found here, I still can give it a recommendation to the melodic rockfans out there! More at:

(Points: 8.3 out of 10)

Timo Gross 'Heavy soul' (Grand Cru Records/Germany Import)

Heavy soul is already the 8th album of the German guitarist Timo Gross. However he only started his solo career back in 2005 after 25 years being in the music business, during which he mainly worked with Chris Norman and Kathy Kelly. Now he has built up a name on his own these past years and also worked together with Alex Conti in a side project and that name rang a bell for me as I once bought a vinyl record from the 1980s many years ago, which I am now quite eager to play again, because I remember it being a great record (AORish). Anyway, back to Timo, yes, he is a very impressive guitarist, but also plays bass, keyboards, electronics, loops, programming and sings as well! There's a pretty long list of guest musicians whom appear on the album and musically speaking it is a little bit in the Joe Bonamassa direction, although vocally quite different, sounding very raw in the old blues school style. In fact, he has an own style due to his rather unique vocals that isn't heard much nowadays. Overal it does remind me of let's say John Lee Hooker meets Tom Waits. The album passes by quite quickly, which is a good thing, as it never gets boring and fans of heavy bluesrock can easily check out more at:

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)

True Hearts 'Various recordings' (Independent/USA Import)

Now this is a very nice story, because quite a long time ago we reviewed a CD of the American musician Terry Carolan. Just recently I heard a great song called Everytime from a band called True Hearts on a local radio compilation disc. After some research I found out Terry Carolan was the guitarist/vocalist of this early 80s Houston based band and so I got in contact with Terry after all these years and he was kind enough to sent me a lot of material of his old band and also the solo material I had missed throughout the years. He is currently living in Florida and I am glad to be in touch with this talented musician again, because here we have a great collection of past material. It all started back in the late 1970s when they were called The Flirt and recorded an album full of songs, but only 4 of those tunes were released on an EP single under the new name True Hearts. Nevertheless, in 2012 the label Kool Kat Muzik released all the recordings on CD, with in total 11 tracks. The music on the EP and this CD is typically early 80s melodic powerpop in a somewhat late 70s punky powerpoprock British way meets early 80s melodic poprock American way, kinda like a mixture between The Knack, The Boys, Shoes, The Romantics, Phil Seymour, The Raspberries, 4 Out Of 5 Doctors and The Cars. The result is catchy uptempo and hooky, with melodic memorable choruses, of which songs like Not tonight, All my time and Trust me candy could basically have been classic radio staple hits in the powerpop movement of the early 80s, in other words, a must-have for fans of this genre! It's a pity the band lasted only for a few years, because the 5 tracks on the CDR rare and unreleased were recorded in 1981 and showed the band moving up to high class melodic rock in the shape of Everytime, Oh California and She said. It was all over in a minute for this great long and lost band, with Terry starting a solo career that resulted in much more official releases. His solo stuff that he sent me is probably his finest work, because these are 2 mini-albums (Inbalance and River of promises) recorded in the late 80s. Musically Terry went into typical late 80s uptempo AOR/Melodic Rock like a mix between Aldo Nova, Billy Branigan, Glen Burtnick, Refugee and Benny Mardones. Big anthemic rocksongs that sounded completely different from the catchy early 80s powerpop of True Hearts, done very well and at a high major label level actually. Higlights are No conscience, Bad breaks and Souls of fire (with a Bruce Springsteen touch). More to follow for sure in the shape of another great new melodic rock record from Terry, which is due out soon I believe (Circus Of Mirth). Meanwhile check out all on him at:

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)

Almond and Olive 'Standing at the precipe' (Independent/USA Import)

The Illinois, USA based Almond & Olive (A&O) consists of singer-songwriters Natalie Alms and Ollie Davidson, and together they created a wonderful debut album titled Standing at the precipe. They are both singing very well and the music is a combination of traditional American genres such as Americana, Countrypop, Singer/Songwriter Folk and a little bit of Indie pop/rock. 11 songs are included and things start calm with We will, which transforms during the chorus to a somewhat bombastic typical modern day neo-indie-folk-pop anthem, while the fantastic catchy following track Standing at the precipe takes things into a more radiofriendly midtempo pop/rock direction like a mix between The Corrs and The Common Linnets. The album continues with a mixture of the mentioned genres, although most of the time it is calm and relaxing singer/songwriter based with both male and female shared lead vocals (a la Of Monsters and Men and The Civil Wars). Other highlights are LA and Can't stop, but in general speaking, this is a high quality release that can easily be picked up if the mentioned music genres and acts are up your alley. More info at:

(Points: 8.4 out of 10)

Deaf Havana 'All these countless nights' (SO Recordings/DGR Music)

I am not really familiar with the UK band Deaf Havana, but their new 2017 album All these countless nights sounds really impressive when listening to the opener , an anthemic big time melodic rocker with catchy hooks, a memorable chorus and some pretty good vocalwork. Very promising and thankfully the album continues with more of this great melodic rock ish material and in fact the following track Trigger even reminds me a lot of Rick Springfield's last couple of albums. The band was actually formed back in 2005 and already released a lot of new albums, so they are not really a new upcoming band. However, this new album might bring them more fame and fortune, because partly thanks to producer Adam Noble (Placebo) they came up with a very strong huge sounding record that will appeal to a lot of people out there. Other highlights on the album are Happiness, Fever and the wonderful semi ballad Seattle. Check out all on this sensational band at:

(Points: 8.7 out of 10)

Royal Wood 'Ghost light' (Outside Music/DGR Music)

The Canadian singer/songwriter Royal Wood has already released 5 albums and 2 Eps in the past, slowly building up a name in his own country, but outside Canada this talented multi-instrumentalist is not that known yet. His new album Ghost light starts with an almost Rufus Wainwright ish sounding singer/songwriter pop tune titled A world between us, but gets a little more happier with the following Come back to you that could easily become a huge hit. Nevertheless, the Rufus Wainwright comparisons are very clear throughout the album, although Royal Wood adds some modern indie pop influences to his melodic singer/songwriter pop/rock sound as well. One of the other highlights is the catchy I still believe, but actually most of the 13 tracks are very pleasant to listen to. Royal has a clear clean melodic voice that sounds very strong and the material is quite radiofriendly, with here and there an 80s pop/rock ish anthem, such as Long way out. However the material sits most of the time in the singer/songwriter pop/rock environment that is really not to far removed from Rufus Wainwright. Great new record of Royal Wood and a possible contender for a bigger break! More info at:

(Points: 8.4 out of 10)

Space Wind 'Trip to Melius' (Independent/Dutch Import)

Space Wind is a Dutch band with a sound that could easily have been lifted off an album from 1981 or something, because the NWOBHM ish sound is dangerously close to let's say Saxon, but then more at the level of the lesser known bands in this genre, as Trip to melius doesn't sound as strong as Saxon. However, if you listen to the record you might agree with me that these guys are definitely massively influenced by the early 80s sound of the NWOBHM. If you're a fan of let's say Demon, Tank, Quartz, Satan, etc. etc. More info at:

(Points: 7.2 out of 10)

The Marcus King Band 'The Marcus King Band' (Concord Music Group/Universal)

Out of South Carolina comes the sensational The Marcus King Band. This band is of course formed around the musician Marcus King, who is the vocalist/guitarist and main songwriter. He is an enormous young talent, who is just 20 years old and already sounding like a classic old school soulful singer, but he's also a gifted bluesrock guitarist. The Marcus King Band is now releasing it's second album, which features 12 tracks in total that are produced by the legendary Warren Haynes (Gov'T Mule). They are signed to a label that is licensed through the major label Universal Music and when listening to opener Ain't nothin' wrong with that, you would think this is a major 70s funk-rockband with a enormous dose of soul and R&B in the classic old school style (Earth, Wind and Fire). Following track Devil's land takes a different path, which is classic heavy bluesrock with superb guitarwork. Then we head into classic R&B a la Sam Cooke during Rita is gone. Melodic, soulful and a melting pot of all kinds of classic music genres can be heard on this wonderful record. What makes it standout is definitely the diversity, because everytime you are surprised by a complete change in style, because Self-Hatred for example goes into a classic southern rock style that reminds me of Allman Brothers Band/Lynyrd Skynyrd. And so it goes on and on until the end, so time passes by very quickly while listening to this album. Vintage Trouble and Leon Bridges are good comparisons, although The Marcus King Band is just a little more diverse. Need to add that during the album the main focus is bluesy/southern rock based (just listen to the wonderful The man you didn't know), but still sometimes they come up with a surprise (the James Brown ish Plant your corn early and the jazzy instrumental Thespain espionage). I expect that their fanbase will only grow in the future, because Marcus is a very talented musician, who is waiting to be discovered. If it was 1973, this band could become massive! They also could easily become huge now as well if they are lucky and who knows they will perform at North Sea Jazz one day! In the meantime, check them out for yourself at:

(Points: 8.5 out of 10)

Amy Holland 'Light on my path' (Chonin Records/USA Import)

Light on my path is a very interesting and sensational new album release from the legendary American singer/songwriter Amy Holland (of Dutch origin). She released a few lightweight Westcoast/AOR/Poprock records in the early 1980s, scored a major hit with How do I survive and recorded a bunch of awesome 80s AOR tunes for the classic movie soundtracks of both Scarface and Teen Wolf as well as more movie soundtrack songs during the 1980s. She is married to one of the greatest singers of all time (Michael McDonald) since 1983, but after the release of her 2nd solo album On your every word in the same year, it took some time before we could see a new album of Amy Holland. Thankfully Amy survived cancer in the 1990s and since the late 2000s she started releasing new records again, of which now we can welcome this beautiful new solo album. It was released on the label of Michael McDonald and as soon as the album starts, you can hear that Amy still has a superb voice after all these years, shining just perfectly on each and every of the 14 included tracks. A lot of well-known guests appear on the album, including husband Michael McDonald of course, Joseph WIlliams of Toto, David Crosby of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young and David Pack (Ambrosia). The album starts with Bridge of sighs, which is one of those classic 1970s sounding soft/yacht pop tunes that major labels released non-stop almost 40 years ago. Next track I must have left my heart (and also the song Holiday, which can be heard later on the album) is a terrific laid-back piano-led classic Jazz song that smells like the 1950s/1960s when old-school Jazz (with female vocals) was very popular worldwide (think Ella Fitzgerald). Amy changes once again the style and comes up with a great Heart/Robin beck ish 80s AOR tune called Walking on a wire. Things slow down during the calm semi-acoustic ballad Stained glass love and also Me, my heart and I is a great ballad. Gravity is a singer/songwriter piece with both of the earlier mentioned David's as guest vocalists. The piano ballad We're all strangers here is exceptionally beautiful, with perhaps the greatest vocals ever put on record by Amy. Her voice really hasn't changed a bit, just amazing to listen to... And so it goes on and on, with many beautiful calmer songs that all feature those superb vocals of Amy (don't forget to check out the lovely Westcoast/AORish ballads Impossible love, Hat full of stars and the Michael McDonald duet Prove that by me). Amy deserves to be heard by so many more people, because she has one of those voices that truly touch you and you will never forget her voice after you heard it. Check out Amy's new album and more info at:

(Points: 8.7 out of 10)

John McDonough 'Surrounding colors' (McDonough Records/USA Import)

Singer/songwriter John McDonough comes out of Austin, Texas, who already released 6 albums and Surrounding colors is his latest album. He sounds very impressive actually, with somehow an own identity in his voice, while the music is very strong catchy melodic pop/rock. It definitely rocks and even has some AOR influences (Tonight's the night and Save a life), although perhaps the best comparison would be Ed Kowalczyk. It sounds fresh, very clean and melodic and as already mentioned, it even rocks a bit, so this ain't the standard singer/songwriter album. Despite infuences from James Blunt and Damien Rice, John goes for a more traditional melodic rocking approach, which works very well. Without a doubt, this is a recommended album to the fans of light melodic poprock. Check him out at:

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)

Brian Cullman 'The opposite of time' (Sunnyside/Hemifran)

SInger/songwriter Brian Cullman comes out of New York City, but has a somewhat British ish singers/songwriter meets melancholic pop/rock sound like a mix between Lloyd Cole, Deacon Blue and Leonard Cohen. Sometimes very calm, dark and moody, but also here and there a little bit more uptempo. For a singer/songwriter, Brian is doing things really well and he will definitely appeal to anyone who likes Lloyd Cole, Nick Drake and such singer/songwriters, because The opposite of time follows the exact same style as them. The cheerful uptempo And she said and the calmer Spoiled child blues are just 2 of the highlights of this rather great album that might easily end up high in the yearly charts of the big music magazine journalists. High quality singer/songwriter music with strong melodies and something everyone will like, so go check it out for yourself at:

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)

Howard Simon 'Visitors' (Independent/USA Import)

Visitors is the 2nd album of the San Francisco based musician Howard Simon. His record is filled with a classic 70s singer/songwriter popstyle a la Jim Groce, John Martyn and Paul Simon. 14 songs are included and the material is most of the time calm and acoustic tingled, but here and there we can hear an exception, such as the midtempo slightly rocking The devil every day. Done very well, this album is interesting to check out for the fans of mentioned artists, because Howard delivers quality material for sure. More info at:

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

Giulia Millanta 'Moon/Beam Parade' (Ugly Cat Music/Hemifran)

The legendary Charlie Sexton appears on a few songs of the new album by Giulia Millanta, a singer/songwriter who is originally from Florence, Italy, but is now based in Austin, Texas. Moonbeam Parade is her fifth album so far, featuring 13 self-penned tunes. She sings and plays guitar, while she also produced it herself, together with George Reiff and finally it was released on her own label Ugly Cat Music. Other appearing musicians are Howe Gelb (Giant Sand), Glenn Fukunaga (The Dixie Chicks), Michael Fracasso, Kimmie Rhodes, Gabriel Rhodes (Willie Nelson), Dony Wynn (Robert Palmer), David Pulkingham (Patty Griffin) and more. 13 songs are included and most of the material is relaxing melodic singer/songwriter pop/rock with a focus on melodies that sound best during excellent songs like Eve's song and Motel song. Recommended to fans of KT Tunstall, Alanis Morissette, with an experimental touch as well. Check for yourself at:

(Points: 8.1 out of 10)

Kevin Beadles Band 'Forty acres' (Independent/USA Import)

Only 2 songs are included on this CD single, but they show me we are dealing here with a sensational singer/songwriter. His name is Kevin Beadles and the music is a mix of traditional Americana Rock, Indie Melodic Poprock and Country, done at a very high level. Hopefully soon more about this talented Californian musician, who has got a fantastic voice. Check him out at:

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)

Last Snow 'Back to the basics' (Independent/USA Import)

Out of St. Paul, ,MN, USA comes the band Last Snow, whom sent me a CDR with their music, which is basically a mix of covers and originals. The music is alternative rock, yet with also some classic rock influences and although it isn't too bad, I am afraid it sounds a little bit too average to give it a big recommendation, but if interested check them out at ITunes.

(Points: 4.5 out of 10)

Hydra 'Solar empire' (STF Records/Germany Import)

Out of Germany comes Hydra and I lost the count somewhere, but the bandname Hydra has been used countless times in the past, so this new Hydra from Regensburg is not really original in picking a bandname. Nevertheless, we are here to discuss their 2nd album Solar empire, which musically is quite cliche tingled female fronted symphonic gothic melodic metal in the style of Epica, After Forever, Nightwish and Within Temptation. Thankfully it is done very well and therefore highly recommended to check out if you're into any of the mentioned bands. Lisa Rieger is a good strong vocalist and actually there are also guest appearances, including the Firewind singer Henning Basse and several others. The result is a good strong album that might not be too original, but they have it very well and therefore it is a pleasure to listen to from start to finish. More info at:

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)

Hollywood Monsters 'Capture the sun' (Cleopatra Records/USA Import)

Now this Hollywood Monsters band is a so-called Supergroup, formed around French vocalist and guitarplayer Steph Honde, who gathered around him the band of original Iron Maiden vocalist Paul Dianno, and drum icon Vinny Appice of Black Sabbath and Dio. Capture the sun is the 2nd album and this time there are guest appearances by bassist Tim Bogert (Vanilla Fudge, Beck, Bogert, Appice), Tracy G (Dio), Whitesnake’s Neil Murray, Craig Goldy, Tony Franklin, Danko Jones, and many others. Although the result does sound sometimes a bit like an old dinosaur rock adventure, the classic hardrock/heavy rock on Capture the sun still has it's charms and features very raw vocalwork of Steph himself. Most of the songs are uptempo rockers and likewise is influenced by such acts like Vanilla Fudge, Whitesnake, Dio...  Waiting and Dreams are very strong relaxing laid-back bluesy melodic rock ballads in classic Whitesnake style, while also the David Bowie covers are quite nice. From the uptempo tunes Always crashing the same car, Everything is going to be alright and Another day in grey part 2 are quite memorable, singable and reminding of classic Dio/Whitesnake material of the early 80s. Without a doubt, a nice album to check out if you're a fan of classic rock in the style of Twisted Sister, Dio, Whitesnake, Thin Lizzy, etc. etc. More info at:

 (Points: 8.1 out of 10)

Jared Mancuso 'Superdope' (Independent/USA Import)

Multi-instrumentalist Jared Mancuso comes out of Pennsylvania and he has already released a couple of albums, of which Superdope is the most recent one. Musically speaking he offers pure rock and roll, with influences from Garage Rock, Punk and Modern Rock. When listening to a couple of songs, the similarities to Teenage Fanclub and Weezer are very clear, so there's some sort of catchy 90s college rock to be heard here. A song like The f*ck? is for example a damn catchy tune! In fact, Jared delivers a high quality album here that should do very well in the melodic alternative rock scene, because it is pretty much reaching the level of mentioned bands without any doubts. Check it out for yourself at:

(Points: 8.2 out of 10)

Gerry Beckley 'Carousel' (Blue Elan Records/Hemifran)

For the insiders and older music fans among us, the name Gerry Beckley should ring a bell, because he was one of the founders of the legendary band America. This fantastic singer/songwriter wrote and performed one of the ultimate classics of all time (Sister Golden Hair), but many more of course. Although America had it's peak during the 1970s, Gerry always continued with the band and also solo he released a bunch of albums. His new solo-album Carousel is a great record that shows that this man is still an amazing performed making original music. The style is a mix of classic westcoast, melodic poprock and a bit of powerpop, not sounding too far from America actually. Carousel starts with Tokyo, a lovely catchy uptempo melodic powerpop tune in the style of The Posies and even Jellyfish, a very strong and memorable tune. Following track Nature's way is an awesome midtempo melodic rocker, while Minutes count introduces The Beatles influences, very much like their late 1960s period, so a little psychedelic ish slow tune. After this the songs stay a bit in this style, so calmer and eventually also singer/songwriter orientated, with the Venice/Little River Band ish No way I'm gonna lose you as one of the other highlights. Hopefully some more rockers next time as well, because Gerry sounds really great during those tunes. However, just like America, the majority of the material is slower westcoast pop/rock based, which will attract a lot of people out there. Gerry is a legend who delivers here once again a fantastic record. More info at:

(Points: 8.4 out of 10)

Sam Sliva '...and the people say/The drained EP' (Independent/USA Import)

Sam Sliva is the latest new sensation Austin, Texas and without a doubt, the 2 CDs he sent me, they both sound like true major label releases. The voice and songs sound as good as it gets and at first sight I honestly thought this was such a typical American rock record reminding of Bo Bice, Eli Young Band, John Mayer, Kenny Wayne Shepherd and Daughtry. However if you really listen to the full records, you discover so much more. It is clear that these are very diverse records that will appeal to fans of various genres. Sam was influenced by Bob Marley, Led Zeppelin, George Strait and John Lee Hooker, and everything in between. If we start with his 2013 album ...and the people say, we can easily pick up those influences, such opener Blind addicition, a groovy southern rocker a la Lynyrd Skynyrd. Next track Excuse me while I break my own heart tonight (Ryan Adams cover) is much funkier, a little like Black Crowes, however with a touch of trumpets as well. The reggae influences during It is what it is are also giving it a nice different approach, although the song itself goes eventually in a rootsy rock/americana direction. Surrender follows in a pure midtempo AOR style, very strong singer/songwriter melodies that remind me of a cross between Benny Mardones and Robert Tepper circa his No rest for the wounded album. Sam is an amazing picture perfect singer with a voice that has as much soul as Paul Carrack for example, which can be heard at best during the ballad ish My last goodbye. The next couple of tracks are a bit weaker, but Be mine rocks again in classic American southern rock style a la Lynyrd Skynyrd. The super melodic Until sunday comes grabs back to the classic American AOR/Melodic Rock style, with even some 38 Special comparisons. The album finishes with See you around, which is another lovely radiofriendly AOR ish tune. Need to add here that one of the guests on the album is the well-known singer/songwriter Jason Isbell. In 2015 Sam released The drained, which consists of 5 tunes. Once again enough diversity going on here to keep you entertained from start to finish. Sam is peaking here at a high level and it is only a matter of time before he breaks through I think. The highlight on this new EP is the rocker Homewrecker and the semi ballad Who are we to question love?. Definitely a big recommendation to check out asap at:

 (Points: 8.7 out of 10)

Paul Vens and Friends 'Timeless love - Ode to Arthur van Schendel' (Independent/Dutch Import)

Paul Vens is a Dutch musician who has already a long music career behind him, but you never too old to breakthrough and when listening to his latest CD Timeless love, I hear definitely potential. The new album is based on the works of a Dutch writer from the past, Arthur van Schendel, consisting of 15 tracks in total. The music is calm, relaxed and ambient like, with influences from New Age and light Progressive Rockmusic. It has a Tangerine Dream kinda vibe, yet with vocals that somehow remind me a bit of David Bowie and Leonard Cohen, the two legendary singer/songwriters who sadly died in 2016. Anyway, the music of Paul is more New Age orientated than the singer/songwriter music of David and Leonard, although at times there are remarkable similarities (The owl in the night). Done very well, it sounds quite hypnotic, dark and mysterious, with also strange instrumental parts here and there. If you're interested in checking out this album, more info can be found at:

(Points: 8.0 out of 10)