Sunday, April 28, 2013

H.I.M - Tears on tape

H.I.M - Tears on tape (2013) Razor and Tie Records
Produced by Hiili Hiilesmaa
Tracks : 1.Unleash the red 2.All lips go blue 3.Love without tears 4.I will be the end of you 5.Tears on tape 6.Into the night 7.Hearts at war 8.Trapped in autumn 9.No love 10.Drawn and quartered 11.Lucifer´s chorale 12.W.L.S.T.D 13.Kiss the void
3,5 out of 5

His Infernal Majesty continue to make love metal and releases their 8th studio album "Tears on tape" this spring, it´s the first album on their new label Razor and Tie and the first album since "Screamworks" from 2010. They are the first Finnish act to achieve platinum sales in the U.S and have sold almost 2 million albums worldwide, you´re lucky if you have a ticket to one of their shows on the Tears on Tape tour in U.S.A because most dates are sold out. The new album is just as good as "Dark light" (2005) which is my favorite album with H.I.M, "Tears on tape" feels a bit darker but it is still filled with plenty of strong hooks. The title track which is also the new single, is one of the highlights along with "All lips go blue" and the powerful "W.L.S.T.D" that bring thoughts to Type O´Negative. This is a safe buy folks.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Streetlight Manifesto - The hands that thieve

Streetlight Manifesto - The hands that thieve (2013) Victory Records
Produced by Streetlight Manifesto
Tracks : 1.The three of us 2.Ungrateful 3.The littlest things 4.The hands that thieve 5.With any sort of certainty 6.If only for memories 7.They broke him down 8.Toe to toe 9.Oh me, oh my 10.Your day will come
2 out of 5

My relation to ska music feels a bit short, I don´t really mind bands like Madness and The Specials but on the other hand, I´m not their biggest fan either. It´s cool though to hear ska bands that blend punk with ska like Less Than Jake, Reel Big Fish and Sublime. New Jersey based Streetlight Manifesto is such a band and they have been around for a decade making albums, their 5th album "The hands that thieve" was completed last year and was meant to be released in late 2012 but was pushed forward to April 2013 instead. This is a decent album where you get all the important ingredients of ska music from a brass section to singalong pubrock choruses and energetic drumming from Chris Thatcher, what a great drummer by the way. And I´ll be damned if I don´t hear traces of Red Hot Chilipeppers in "Toe to toe", just a bit there is.

The Shadow Principle - Golden State

The Shadow Principle - Golden State (2012) Independent
Produced by The Shadow Principle
Tracks : 1.Golden state 2.Camera Action 3.Until it hurts 4.Block out the sun 5.Slow winter 6.The rift 7.Spyglass 8.Wicked seas 9.Siren song 10.Losing streak 11.Swim away 12.The Flood
4 out of 5

Dave Tomkins is a new favorite bassplayer of mine, he´s the bassplayer and singer of L.A based hard rock band The Shadow Principle and he lets those fingers run around like minks on the fretboard. He´s a real rock bassist that has the same attack as Geddy Lee of Rush and sound boost as John Wetton of King Crimson. Another thing that is supercool about Tomkins is his vocal performance on their new album "Golden state", he´s not a typical hard rock singer but has more of a new wave-like voice in the same vein as Jim Kerr of Simple Minds and David Bowie. The music also gives the listener a dose of 3 decades with 70´s progrock, 80´s hard rock and 90´s alternative metal. It´s quite easy to understand that their main influences are Tool, Rush, King Crimson and David Bowie. I am impressed by the songs on this album and do think all 12 songs are awesome, the musicianship is right on spot and I can´t seem to find anything to complain about. So to quote a classic ABBA song, Thank you for the music!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Slowriter - Trailblazer

Slowriter - Trailblazer (2013) Autumn + Colour Records
Produced by Bryan Taylor
Tracks : 1.Intro 2.April 8 3.Omen 4.Just a kid 5.Trailblazer 6.Silver spaceships 7.No remission 8.Intermission 9.Space case and I 10.Animated 11.Reality 12.Van song 13.Outro
3 out of 5

Bryan Taylor is the former guitarist of post hardcore band The Chariot but his solo project Slowriter is something completely different, I didn´t get his new album "Trailblazer" at all first but it´s definitely a grower and now I find myself enjoying some tunes a lot. This is hardly the first time he releases something on his own, the debut "What keeps me sane" came out in 2009 and it was followed by a self titled EP in 2011. The new album is filled with computer sounds, loops and spacey melodies in a quirky pop suit, like a mix of Owl City, Beck, Air and Maps. Just check out the single "Animated" that is available as a free download over at, what a lovely electro pop song. I also dig "Reality" but my personal fave is "Just a kid" that features an excerpt of Alfred Hitchcock´s Psycho, that one is so cool. I promise you that you´ll start singing ah-ah-ah-ah, ah-ah-ah-ah every day of the week. Good stuff.

Mark Andrew Pudas - Mark Andrew Pudas

Mark Andrew Pudas - Mark Andrew Pudas (2011) Independent
Produced by Thomas Smouse
Tracks : 1.Sunshine 2.A love song 3.Coming back 4.Not cold, but broken 5.Impossible 6.Outlaw song 7.What you need 8.Puzzle piece 9.Broke 10.Morning dream
3 out of 5

A couple of years ago, not many knew of Mark Andrew Pudas but after his appearance on NBC´s The Voice with an audience of 13 million viewers, things have changed. He was picked by Team Shakira but unfortunately got eliminated recently, she and Adam Levine (Maroon 5) loved his voice and I agree. It´s what makes his self titled album from 2011 worth listening to, he´s got the same soulful voice as Michael Bolton without sounding like Bolton that is. There are also moments when he reminds of Ed Kowalczyk (Live) but in a more country flavored way, add a touch of "Sugar man" Rodriguez to it and you´ve got yourself Mark Andrew Pudas.
The music is kinda bluesy but in a folkrock style, I really like the songs "Coming back" and "Impossible" but ain´t no fan of the last 3 songs. I know country music is huge in USA and it´s a much safer route for Mark Andrew to take but I think his voice suits R&B and soul music a lot more.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Chase This City - Everything I never told you

Chase This City - Everything I never told you (2013) Independent
Produced by Chase This City
Tracks : 1.I could just cave right in 2.Washington and east 3.Stuck on the outside
2 out of 5

Pop punk ain´t dead, not yet anyway. Bands like the Chicago based Chase This City is living proof of this with 3 EP´s released and the full length album "Life stories" coming out later this year. Their latest "Everything I never told you" EP could´ve been improved on the vocal part but the songs are actually quite good, their singer Zach Keenum should take vocal lessons because his voice feels a bit limited. "Washington and east" is rather catchy though, if they have the budget they should get a producer like Chad Gilbert of New Found Glory for their next release. That might do the trick.

iamthemorning - iamthemorning

iamthemorning - iamthemorning (2012) Independent
Produced by iamthemorning
Tracks : 1.Intermission 1 2.Inside 3.Burn 4.Circles 5.Intermission II 6.Weather changing 7.Intermission III 8.Scotland 9.Touching II 10.Intermission IV 11.Monsters 12.Serenade 13.Intermission V 14.Would this be 15.Intermission VI 16.i.b.too 17.Intermission VII 18.Afis
2 out of 5

iamthemorning is a classical/progressive rock band from Russia, their self titled debut album contains both short instrumental pieces as well as vocal based artrock. The album is well performed and professionally arranged by classically trained musicians, their vocalist Maryana bring thoughts to Tori Amos and Kate Bush while the music sounds more like a mix between Sky, Porcupine Tree and Kate Bush. There are some amazing songs here like "Inside", "Monsters", "Would this be" and "i.b.too" but the album is way too uneven. Although I appreciate the instrumentation quite a lot on the rock oriented songs, I´m not equally fond of some of the classical pieces. But if you´re a fan of crossover prog and have an open mind to music, you might dig this St.Petersburg based band.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Rhys Marsh and The Autumn Ghost - The Blue Hour

Rhys Marsh and The Autumn Ghost - The Blue Hour (2012) Termo Records
Produced by Rhys Marsh
Tracks : 1.And I wait 2.Read the cards 3.The movements of our last farewell 4.Broken light 5.Wooden heart 6.Further from the truth 7.The place where you lay 8.One more moment
2 out of 5

I´ve been to Trondheim, Norway when I was around 10 years old. I thought it was a beautiful city by the coast and now I also know it´s the hometown for bands like TNT, Stagedolls and Rhys Marsh. I´m a huge fan of the first two bands but I have a hard time liking Rhys Marsh melancholic and experimental music. It´s not really bad, just a bit weird. You can call it indie jazz, because his songs are somewhere between indie pop and jazz. There are a couple of nice songs on his 3rd album "The blue hour" like "Read the cards" and "Wooden heart" but the rest don´t move me at all. His band The Autumn Ghost features members of Anekdoten, White Willow, Wobbler and others. Since this album is from last year, Rhys Marsh is already releasing his 4th album "Trio" on April 29th. I think I´ll skip it.

Famous Last Words - Two-faced charade

Famous Last Words - Two-Faced Charade (2013) InVogue Records
Produced by Joey Sturgis
Tracks : 1.Welcome to the show 2.Victim of the virtuoso 3.The relentless 4.Voices 5.Lust of the lost 6.Legends and legacies 7.In perfect hindsight 8.To play hide and seek with jealousy 9.Searching for a home 10.Even a ghost has a sanctuary 11.The show must go on Part 1 12.The show must go on Part 2
3,5 out of 5

The production from Joey Sturgis (Asking Alexandria, Attack Attack!) on Michigan based Famous Last Words debut album "Two-faced charade" is exceptional, the sound is crystal clear but still superheavy. I can hear the band discuss the songs on their first album, -we better start with a bang or people have forgotten about us in no time!
This is a really strong debut album from a band that sounds hungry and deliver melodic hardcore/metal in the same vein as The Color Morale, Everyone Dies In Utah and In Fear And Faith.
The first single "Lust of the lost" which is available on youtube, is one of the highlights along with "The relentless" and "To play hide and seek with jealousy". But they´re hardly the only good songs, I bet they will enter the stage to the short "In perfect hindsight" and then rock out to "Welcome to the show". A great way to kick ass when they head out on tour with Crown The Empire in May.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

The Bunny The Bear - Stories

The Bunny The Bear - Stories (2013) Victory Records
Produced by Doug White
Tracks : 1.Eating disorder 2.In like Flynn 3.Hey, Allie 4.It´s not always cold in Buffalo 5.Another day 6.Frog 7.Melody 8.Imagine 9.Your reasons 10.What we´re here for 11.Sadie
3 out of 5

The Buffalo duo The Bunny The Bear does not make children´s music, you might get that idea when you see the album cover of their new album "Stories". But you can file them under bands that wear masks because one has a rabbit mask and the other one, a bear mask. The men behind this band are Matthew Tybor and Chris Hutka and they keep releasing albums steady one per year, their debut came out in 2010 and this year their 4th album "Stories" is released. The Bunny The Bear blend screamo with dance rhythms, catchy choruses and a huge portion of distorted guitars. "Stories" is a solid album that grows for each time I hear it, the single "In like Flynn" could´ve been an unreleased Fall Out Boy song. I love it. Another contender for the airwaves is the pop punk song "It´s not always cold in Buffalo", and speaking of pop punk, the song "Another day" bring thoughts to Tom DeLonge´s Angels and Airwaves. Cool!
For fans of Issues, I See Stars, Palisades

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Snow White´s Poison Bite - Featuring Dr.Gruesome and The Gruesome Gory Horror Show

Snow White´s Poison Bite - Featuring Dr.Gruesome and the Gruesome Gory Horror Show (2013) Victory Records
Produced by Snow White´s Poison Bite
Tracks : 1.Gruesomely intro 2.The Gruesome gory horror show 3.There´s a new creep on the block 4.Will you meet me in the graveyard 5.Halloween means death 6.Count Dracula kid 7.Dr.Gruesome 8.Zombie romance 9.Lurking inside of you 10.The show must gruesomely end
4 out of 5

I like odd bands, bands that stand out from the mainstream. The Finnish horror punk band Snow White´s Poison Bite is such a band, formed in 2007 by U.K born Jeremy Thirteenth with their first album "The story of Kristy Killings" released in 2010. Now with a new line up behind Jeremy, SWPB releases their 2nd album "Dr.Gruesome and the Gruesome Gory Horrow Show" on Victory Records and they aim for world dominion. They´ve got attitude, plenty of coolness and a load of great songs. It´s like making your own soup of Rocky Horror Show, My Chemical Romance, 70´s punk and the alternative metal of Cadaveria. And this soup tastes good, the songs are both theatrical and rocking. Well, Alice Cooper would be proud. My favorites are "There´s a new creep on the block", "Halloween means death" and "Zombie romance".
For fans of Aiden, Murderdolls, Wednesday 13

Endless Dark - Made of glass

Endless Dark - Made of glass (2013) Volcanic Media
Produced by Endless Dark
Tracks : 1.Fading from you 2.Creature 3.Cold hard December 4.Awful place 5.Shooting star press
3,5 out of 5

Endless Dark share the same homeland as Sigur Ros, Björk and Sign, namely Iceland. Actually, I can´t think of any other band from that island in the post hardcore genre but you´re free to inform me. Endless Dark released their 3 track debut "Cold hard December" EP in 2011 and now re-releases the very same EP but with the addition of 2 new tracks in "Fading from you" and "Awful place", this time with the new album title "Made of glass". They deliver keyboard driven post hardcore with traces of pop punk, for fans of Her Bright Skies, Drive Like Red and Secrets. I like this a lot even though the mix could´ve been a bit better, check out highlights like "Cold hard December" and "Fading from you" but all 5 are great.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Farmers Market - Slav to the rhythm

Farmers Market - Slav to the rhythm (2012) Division Records
Produced by Stian Carstensen / Farmers Market
Tracks : 1.Slav to the rhythm 2.You´re the prototypical 3.Friend 4.Dusty traditions 5.Replace 6.Shiny happy gizmos 7.Old stuff still does the trick 8.It´s not always true 9.Machines rule 10.And thus 11.Man is ancient history
3,5 out of 5

Now this was a nice surprise, the Norwegian/Bulgarian band Farmers Market´s 5th album "Slav to the rhythm". And yes I spelled it right, I know I wanted it to say Slave to the rhythm but the actual spelling is slav. They write on their website that they try to integrate east and west, well they have succeeded really well too because we get a mix of Arabic music and jazzrock. They´re amazing musicians that would fit right in with Mahavishnu Orchestra or Frank Zappa back in the day, I also think they remind a bit of Italian fusion band Nova which is cool. The best tracks are "Slav to the rhythm", "You´re the prototypical", "Shiny happy gizmos" and "Machines rule". Listen 2 minutes in on the awesome "Machines rule" when the drummer and the bassist get totally wild, I´m flabbergasted. The band is Trifon Trifonov - Saxophone, Stian Carstensen - Guitars/Keyboards, Nils-Olav Johansen - Guitars, Jarle Vespestad - Drums and Finn Futtormsen - Bass.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Jeff Pevar - From the core

Jeff Pevar - From the core (2012) Pet Peev Music
Produced by Jeff Pevar
Tracks : 1.Plates 2.Song of joy 3.River of dreams 4.Back to the stone 5.Flying caves blues 6.Dawn 7.Twilight over Kashmir 8.Earth meditation 9.Dance of Odessa 10.Lullaby the moon 11.Stalagmite St.Blues 12.Blessing
2,5 out of 5

The American guitarist Jeff Pevar has recorded and toured with lots of renowned artists such as Ray Charles, Joe Cocker, Jefferson Starship, Marc Cohn and Crosby, Stills and Nash. His first major break was in 1983 when he toured with Ricki Lee Jones and Michael Ruff. But during all this time, Jeff hasn´t released a solo record until last year when "From the core" came out. He was asked to supply music for a TV documentary on the Oregon Caves, the cool thing is that Jeff recorded all the guitar tracks in the caves in one take. The music is improved except for the overdubs with instruments like violin, flute, harmonica and vocals. I am truly impressed by Jeff´s six string work, it comes out for the best in tracks like "Dawn" and "Twilight over Kashmir". Another highlight is "River of dreams" where former Yes singer Jon Anderson is making a really great guest appearance, beautiful song indeed. But the entire album feels a bit shattered in styles where get everything from dixie to blues, jazz to country and a fresh breeze of the orient.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

We Are The Catalyst - Panem Et Circenses

We Are The Catalyst - Panem Et Circenses (2013) Independent
Produced by We Are The Catalyst
Tracks : 1.This is paranoia 2.Sad reality 3.Being number one 4.Beware of snakes 5.Tomorrow
3,5 out of 5

We Are The Catalyst is a new Swedish band featuring members from One Without, a modern metal band that released two albums in 2009 and 2011. There´s a bit of change in the sound with the new bandname, they´ve headed into a more alternative sound with this EP like a mix of electronica, rap, metal and pop. WATC are influenced by 30 Seconds To Mars, Paramore, Linkin Park and Enter Shikari and the result is really good. They released the first single "This is paranoia" a while back and I thought it was a catchy tune, these new songs are stronger than One Without´s last album "Sweet relief" so that´s a nice welcome. My favorite is the super melodic "Being number one", and if you want to crank up volume you should go for the rocker "Beware of snakes". I like the tempo in this song.
"Panem Et Circenses" will be released on May 2nd, give this band a chance, I´m sure you will be a fan!

Helldorado - Bones in the closet

Helldorado - Bones in the closet (2013) CCAP Records
Produced by Ashley Stubbert
Tracks : 1.Gallow´s bird 2.Misery and woe 3.Dead world 4.John McMiller 5.Please come back 6.Times of trials 7.Bones in the closet 8.Two headed horseman 9.´69 Camaro 10.Lost highway motel 11.Johnny´s song 12.Sixty seconds to what?
2 out of 5

Is there such a term as strange rock? Nah, I don´t think so. But the Norwegian band Helldorado ain´t easy to put under a certain music genre if you work in a record store, their songs sound like they are special ordered by Tarantino for his next film. Another odd fact about this band is that they´ve had a huge hit in Turkey with a song from their previous album, that was adapted by the Turkish national football team.
We get a dose of The Shadows instrumental guitar rock as well as Mexican folkmusic on their new album "Bones in the closet", add some 60´s psychedelia a la The Doors and Spaghetti western music into the mix and you´ll get Helldorado. The Ennio Morricone cover of "Sixty seconds to what?" is pretty cool and I also dig the mysterious "Misery and woe", but other than those two - I just don´t get this kind of music. I guess Tarantino does..............

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Black Debbath - Nu får det faen meg vaere rock! Akademisk Stoner-Rock!

Black Debbath - Nu får det faen meg vaere rock! Akademisk stoner-rock! (2013) Duplex Records
Produced by Black Debbath
Tracks : 1.Slaver av humoren 2.Norsk bjornsonforskning 3.FAFO 4.Rydd Rommet 5.Bytt kjokkenklut oftere 6.Åpent brev till jusprofessor Jon Bing 7.Nei till runkesti på Ekeberg 8.Sytende ballade om at folk syter for mye og lager for mye ballade 9.Gjor Norsk utenrikstjeneste nok for eventyrere og kriminelle nordmenn utlandet 10.Drastiske miljotiltak i tolvte time
3 out of 5

I noticed Black Debbath was listed as comedy rock by wikipedia, hrm.......perhaps the lyrics then. There is some humour behind their lyrics for sure, at least the sentences I understand. The music feels more serious though, if you just look at the album title you know what to expect here. They´re heavy and a bit psychedelic, I´m not into every song on this album but there are some really cool stuff like "Slaver av humoren", "FAFO" and "Nei till runkesti på Ekeberg". We´re talking 70´s rock with a touch of 90´s metal, in some moments the vocal parts bring thoughts to Ozzy and the riffs should fit in rather well on a Galactic Cowboys album. Well now, they sing in their native language Norwegian so that would mean a Norwegian Ozzy. Hehe. I also get some Lillasyster-vibes here and there, not the rap part but more towards the lyric side. This is quite an entertaining rock affair from a band that has released 6 albums, in fact "Nu får det faen meg vaere rock" is their first album since 2007.

Devour The Day - Time and pressure

Devour The Day - Time and Pressure (2013) Fat Lady Music
Produced by Skidd Mills
Tracks : 1.Respect 2.Good man 3.Blackout 4.You and not me 5.Move on 6.Get out of my way 7.Oath 8.Reckless 9.Handshakes to fist fights 10.Crossroads 11.The Drifter
4 out of 5

Active rock, a radio format that plays alternative and current rock artists with a mix of songs common in the mainstream rock format. Well, then radio stations have a new active rock album to fill out the airwaves with. Devour The Day´s first single "Good man" wasn´t just a lucky shot from the former Egypt Central members Joey Walser and Blake Allison, their debut album "Time and pressure" is filled to the brim with great riffdriven rock songs. "Good man" is a really awesome song with a strong vocal performance from Blake Allison who handles both lead vocals as well as drums on this album. Devour The Day is a rhythmic band mostly because of Joey Walser´s groovy playing on bass and guitar, I´ve got plenty of favorites on this record but at the moment I´m a sucker for "Move on", "Oath", "Good man" and "Respect".
For fans of Egypt Central, Papa Roach, A.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Lisa Loeb - No Fairy Tale

Lisa Loeb - No Fairy Tale (2013) 429 Records
Produced by Chad Gilbert / Lisa Loeb
Tracks : 1.No fairy tale 2.The 90´s 3.Weak day 4.Walls 5.A hot minute 6.Sick, sick, sick 7.Matches 8.Married 9.Swept away 10.He loved you so much 11.Ami, I´m sorry 12.The worst
3,5 out of 5

When you look at the artwork of Lisa Loeb´s latest album "No fairy tale", can you believe she´s 45?! I would rather guess for 35, and not only does she look younger, she also makes youthful pop/rock. This is actually her first adult album in 9 years, mostly because her friend Chad Gilbert of New Found Glory sent an e-mail asking Lisa if she wanted to record a pop/rock album again. They have collaborated before back in 2007 when New Found Glory did a cover of Loeb´s No.1 hitsingle "Stay" from 1994 and Lisa did some vocal parts on her song. Did you know Lisa is the only artist to have a No.1 hitsingle without a recording contract? And she has dated Dweezil Zappa for a few years and lately also released albums of children´s music, but "No fairy tale" is her return to pop/rock music thanks to Chad Gilbert.
Let me tell you, I really like this album too. Loeb deliver honest songs with heartfelt lyrics, just listen to "He loved you so much" or "Ami, I´m sorry". Those are real songs from a true artist, but there´s more. How about radio ready songs such as "Matches" or "The 90´s"? It´s like a huge c-vitamin dose listening to those two songs. Another favorite is the acoustic "The worst", that chorus gets stuck in the head for sure. Imagine Sixpence None The Richer and Nine Days having a baby, that´s how "No fairy tale" sounds like.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Soul of Steel - Journey to infinity

Soul of Steel - Journey to infinity (2013) Bakerteam Records
Produced by Olaf Thorsen
Tracks : 1.Aeternum tormentum 2.Through the gates of heaven 3.Shadows of the past 4.Neverland 5.Waiting for you 6.The fallen angel 7.Journey to infinity 8.Like a memory 9.Secret words 10.Portrait of my last dream 11.Last desire 12.Eternal life 13.Last desire (acoustic)
2,5 out of 5

The 6 piece Soul of Steel follow the path of fellow Italian power metal bands such as Labyrinth and Vision Divine, here I am listening to Soul of Steel´s new album "Journey to infinity" that is their 2nd effort and follow up to the 2010 debut "Destiny" which I haven´t heard. This new album features guest appearances from Alessio Lucatti on keyboards from Vision Divine and Roberto Tiranti on vocals from Labyrinth, the acoustic version of "Last desire" with Tiranti stand out here and is much better than the full band version. I do think the slower tracks are a bit stronger on this album, just listen to the beautiful "The fallen angel" where singer Gianni Valente deliver some great melodies. The title track is another highlight with some really cool instrumentation, the band sound really tight but I think Valente´s vocal performance do feel a bit limited. The entire album is a bit uneven but when they´re good, they´re very good like for example in "Secret words". Thumbs up for the nice keyboard work from Daniele Simeone.

Mechanical Swan - Black Dawn Romance

Mechanical Swan - Black Dawn Romance (2013) Bakerteam Records
Produced by Mechanical Swan
Tracks : 1.No tears to cry 2.Memories 3.Human 4.Tear me down 5.Emerald bird 6.If you 7.In your room 8.My lonely life 9.Black dawn romance
3 out of 5

The sound of the Italian rock band Mechanical Swan can be described as a crossover of electronica, metal and gothrock. They´ve got a really modern sound although the shadow of Depeche Mode is lying heavily on some of the tracks on the debut "Black dawn romance", Mechanical Swan even do a very nice cover of Depeche Mode´s "In your room". I welcome the orchestral pieces on this album, you can tell they have worked hard on the arrangements which is good. Songs like "Human", "Tear me down" and "Emerald bird" stand out but the soft "If you" shouldn´t have made it on the final cut, that song doesn´t move me at all.
The artwork is cool and the production is great, not much to complain about really. A solid album worth checking out if you´re into H.I.M and Kill Hannah.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Landmarq - Entertaining angels

Landmarq - Entertaining Angels / Special Edition (2012) Synergy Records
Produced by Mike Varty and Landmarq
Tracks : CD 1 1.Entertaining angels 2.Glowing Part 1:Friends 3.Glowing Part 2:Lovers 4.Mountains of Anglia 5.Personal universe 6.Prayer 7.Turbulence 8.Calm before the storm
CD 2 1.Walking on eggshells 2.Timeline 3.Stormbrewing 4.Thunderstruck
4 out of 5

I´ve had this album for a while now and thought it was about time I wrote a few words about Landmarq´s latest album "Entertaining angels", this British progrock band has been around for 2 decades where "Entertaining angels" is the band´s first studio album since "Science of coincidence" from 1998. They have released 8 albums including 3 live albums, the original drummer Dave Wagstaff is playing on this album but left Landmarq in 2012 to join Martin Turner´s Wishbone Ash and is now replaced by the young Daniel Martin. The band started working on "Entertaing angels" already back in 2007 but the recordings was put on hold when singer Tracy Hitchings had been diagnosed with two forms of cancer, but after a lot of treatments and sheer determination she was given all clear and returned to the studio to lay down the final vocal tracks for the new album.
It´s cool to see the name of Hugh McDowell from ELO on Cello on the 12 minute long "Turbulence", truly one of the highlights here along with the beautiful "Personal universe" where Tracy´s angelic voice win me over in no time. You can hear the vibes of Genesis in the fine prog of "Glowing" and sense a bit of Rush´s "Mission" in "Timeless" on the bonus disc.
Although these two disc´s are filled with 100 minutes of music, I never find myself bored at anytime. Landmarq makes songbased progrock in the same vein as Unitopia, Arena and Magenta and the quality is high all the way through, just listen to the epic title track or the brilliant "Prayer". What can I say?! I´m a fan!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

GPS - Two Seasons, Live in Japan Volume II

GPS - Two Seasons, Live in Japan Volume II (2013) Gonzo MultiMedia Music
Produced by John Payne
Tracks : 1.Taken dreams 2.All my life 3.Written on the wind 4.Heaven can wait 5.Gold 6.The objector 7.Guthrie Solo 8.I believe in yesterday 9.Window to the soul 10.New Jerusalem 11.Since you´ve been gone 12.Military man 13.The longest night
1 out of 5

GPS but without the S, Guthrie Govan and John Payne performed their GPS album "Window to the soul" unplugged live in Tokyo on April 6th, 2007, but without drummer Jay Schellen. If you want the full band version you can get Volume 1 which was released in 2012, I haven´t seen or heard that live CD/DVD but I guess it´s better than this acoustic concert. I was bored halfway through the set and then just counted minutes for it to end, feeling like a prisoner in isolation waiting to get out in daylight. The studio album from GPS wasn´t exactly good from the start so to hear these mediocre unplugged versions feels like torture, not even the ASIA songs "Military man" and "The longest night" gets a nice treatment from Payne and Govan here. Although I admit Guthrie is a great guitarist, he cannot save these versions from Payne´s agonizing voice. Not to mention the quality of the DVD, it´s horrendous. It looks like a low budget film with bad audio.

Jeff Lynne - Armchair Theatre (re-issue)

Jeff Lynne - Armchair Theatre (2013 re-issue) Frontiers Records
Produced by Jeff Lynne
Tracks : 1.Every little thing 2.Don´t let go 3.Lift me up 4.Nobody home 5.September song 6.Now you´re gone 7.Don´t say goodbye 8.What would it take 9.Stormy weather 10.Blown away 11.Save me now 12.Borderline 13.Forecast
2,5 out of 5

I wonder how the deal looked like when Frontiers wanted the license to release the ELO albums "The very best of", "Live" and "Zoom", I bet Lynne said -no ELO without re-releasing my solo album "Armchair theatre" from 1990. I can understand why Frontiers wanted their hands on the classic ELO stuff but Lynne´s solo album is hardly anything that fits in well with Frontiers melodic rock catalogue. But now they´ve got it and to do the best of the situation is to promote it and hope that they´ll sell a few copies along the way, I never had this on CD or vinyl myself because it was just too far away from the ELO sound I love. You could say Lynne, George Harrison and Traveling Wilburys were like a big happy family during the years 1987-1990 because Lynne was involved in all of them and we´ve got the same production on all albums.
George Harrison is also playing on Lynne´s solo album that had two hits in "Every little thing" and the amazing "Lift me up", I love the latter one. This album not only contains Lynne´s original songs, there are also  3 covers in "Don´t let go" by blues man Jesse Stone and 2 jazz songs from the 30´s with "September song" and "Stormy weather". I can do without those songs but the wonderful pop of "What would it take" is magnificent. Too bad this album didn´t have more of that, however it´s cool to hear the bonus tracks "Borderline" and "Forecast". They´re both good where "Borderline" was previously released as a b-side to "Lift me up" in 1990 and "Forecast" is an unreleased song recorded in 1989, the most ELO-esque song on "Armchair theatre".

Electric Light Orchestra - Zoom (re-issue)

Electric Light Orchestra - Zoom (2013 re-issue) Frontiers Records
Produced by Jeff Lynne
Tracks : 1.Alright 2.Moment in paradise 3.State of mind 4.Just for love 5.Stranger on a quiet street 6.In my own time 7.Easy money 8.really doesn´t matter 9.Ordinary dream 10.A long time gone 11.Melting in the sun 12.All she wanted 13.Lonesome lullaby 14.One day (bonus track) 15.Turn to stone (live from 2001)
3 out of 5

The 2001 album from ELO has been unavailable for 10 years, the copies you might find are most often very expensive. So it´s really cool that Frontiers Records are releasing it with bonus tracks now, I know I was quite disappointed when I heard it a decade ago but I think I´ll have to re-evaluate my opinion about "Zoom" because it´s rather good. Sure you can call it a Jeff Lynne solo album because he´s playing most of the instruments where keyboardist Richard Tandy is only playing on the opening track "Alright".
You will also find a couple of cool guests on "Zoom" as Ringo Starr on two tracks and George Harrison on two other tracks, this is one of the last recordings Harrison did before he passed away. And with Harrison on board you´ll have 2 parts of Traveling Wilburys, that´s exactly how I feel "Zoom" sounds like. 2 parts Traveling Wilburys, 1 part Lynne solo and 1 part classic ELO style. They had to cancel some of the tour dates back in 2001 because of the poor album sales of "Zoom", perhaps it had something to do with the Traveling Wilburys-like songs?
However, there are some really good songs in the classic ELO style here such as "Stranger on a quiet street", "In my own time", "Ordinary dream" and "Alright". The unreleased song "One day" is nothing to jump high about, it sounds more or less like an album filler. By the way, did you know that "Zoom" is the only ELO album drummer Bev Bevan isn´t playing on? Well, now you know.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Whitesnake - Made in Japan

Whitesnake - Made in Japan (2013) Frontiers Records
Produced by David Coverdale
Tracks : CD 1 1.Best years 2.Give me all your love tonight 3.Love aint no stranger 4.Is this love 5.Steal your heart away 6.Forevermore 7.Six string showdown 8.Love will set you free 9.Drum solo 10.Fool for your loving 11.Here I go again 12.Still of the night
CD 2 1.Love will set you free (soundcheck) 2.Steal your heart away (soundcheck) 3.Fare thee well (acoustic version) 4.One of these days (acoustic version) 5.Lay down your love (soundcheck) 6.Evil ways (soundcheck) 7.Good to be bad (acoustic version) 8.Tell me how (acoustic version)
2,5 out of 5

You might think Whitesnake has released plenty of live albums but there are only 5 including the new "Made in Japan", the most classic one is ofcourse "Live in the heart of the city" from 1980. A couple of years ago they released "Live at Donington 1990" both on CD and DVD which was ok.
Even though the new live album "Made in Japan" is a double CD, only 1 disc is live while the 2nd disc contains songs recorded during soundcheck with some acoustic versions of songs from their latest 2 studio albums. The live album was recorded in 2011 but why call it Made in Japan when Deep Purple´s classic live album has the same title? Is it a tribute?
I´m not really a fan of this heavy metal version of Whitesnake where the members behind Coverdale are Doug Aldrich, Reb Beach, Brian Tichy, Michael Devin and Brian Ruedy. They sound a lot like the poser line up from 1990 of Vandenberg, Vai, Sarzo and Aldridge. I give Coverdale and Co credit for performing songs from their latest two studio albums "Good to be bad" and "Forevermore" on "Made in Japan", most live albums these days are more or less greatest hits albums so it´s nice to hear other songs than hits.
However, they could skip the guitar and drum solos because they are so 70´s, play a few more songs instead and I think the fans would appreciate that more.
This is a decent live album, but hardly a classic.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Empyrios - Zion

Empyrios - Zion (2013) Scarlet Records
Produced by Simone Mularoni
Tracks : 1.Nescience 2.Domino 3.Masters 4.Reverie 5.Unplugged 6.Renovation 7.Wormhole 8.Square one 9.Zion 10.Blackmail 11.Madman
4 out of 5

The Italian progmetal band Empyrios first album in 5 years will be released in late April, "Zion" is a really impressive album performed by some amazing musicians. The line up is Simone Mularoni - Guitar (DGM), Simone Bertozzi - Bass (Menmic), Silvio Mancini - Vocals and Dario Ciccioni - Drums (Hartmann). We´re talking superheavy modern metal here that is both technical, progressive, melodic and interesting. It´s like putting Soilwork, Pagans Mind and Jorn Lande into a big blender and out comes Empyrios. Mularoni´s downtuned killer riffs are just awesome and Mancini´s vocalperformance goes from deathmetal growls to powerful Jorn Lande-like melodies. When Empyrios show their more complex side, they remind a bit of Gojira. The deathmetal tendencies are always around the corner waiting to wake you up, but the best part of this album is the brilliant production from Mularoni. What can I say, highly recommendable.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Kaledon - Altor : The King´s Blacksmith

Kaledon - Altor : The King´s Blacksmith (2013) Scarlet Records
Produced by Kaledon
Tracks : 1.Innocence 2.Childhood 3.Between the hammer and the anvil 4.My personal hero 5.Lilibeth 6.A new beginning 7.Kephren 8.Screams in the wind 9.A dark prison
3 out of 5

What inspiration do you need to make a classic power metal album? Well, for starters, it´s a good idea to be a huge fan of The Lord of The Rings saga. Then it won´t hurt to listen to classical composers such as Mozart or Beethoven and don´t forget to add the perfect spice of marching drums and razorsharp guitar riffs. Kaledon from Rome, Italy are no newcomers to this genre. They have opened for Dio and Lordi and the new album "Altor : The King´s Blacksmith" is their 7th studio album, they sound really tight and very melodic. I must say that these songs are like perfect rock soldiers in a metal crusade. You will ofcourse hear some cliche´s here and there but Kaledon aren´t as pretentious as many powermetal bands can be, the powerballad "Lilibeth" is just wonderful. Fabio Lione of Rhapsody of Fire is guesting on "A dark prison" which is another great song on this album. It might take a couple of years for Sonata Arctica to release a new album so why not check out Kaledon while waiting for the Fin´s?!

The Jan Holberg Project - At your service

The Jan Holberg Project - At your service (2013) Nordic Records
Produced by Jan Holberg
Tracks : 1.Waters rising 2.Battle of your heart 3.Jealousy and pride 4.Outta my face 5.Shady haze of grey 6.Sensuality 7.21 red 8.When push comes to shove 9.I still remember
3 out of 5

The Norwegian bassplayer Jan Holberg has gathered some of the greatest rocknroll singers on his new album "At your service", he had already worked with Joe Lynn Turner (Rainbow) on his debut album "Sense of time" from 2011 and JLT is also handling lead vocals on 3 tracks on "At your service". Tony Carey is another passenger doing lead vocals on 2 tracks and Wig Wam frontman Åge Sten Nilsen is singing on the rest except the instrumental "I still remember". Imagine a mix of Glenn Hughes funky solo albums and Michael Ruff´s west coast style and we´re close to the sound of The Jan Holberg Project, there´s a bit of fusion and rock in there as well. The instrumental "I still remember" bring thoughts to Janne Schaffer while "Jealousy and pride" is a nice melodic rock ballad with Joe Lynn Turner. Tony Carey´s bluesy approach on "Outta my face" and "21 red" works rather well but doesn´t he feel a bit too pissed off at the internet in "Outta my face"? My favorite is the rocker "When push comes to shove" with Åge Sten Nilsen, it´s the closest we get to AOR on this record. Jan Holberg is a groovy bassist and I love his playing on "Battle of your heart", well this is a solid album with some really cool guest artists.

Turnover - Magnolia

Turnover - Magnolia (2013) Run For Cover Records
Produced by Will Yip
Tracks : 1.Shiver 2.Most of the time 3.Wither 4.Seed 5.Pray for me 6.Bloom 7.Hollow 8.Like a whisper 9.To the bottom 10.Flicker and fade 11.Daydreaming
2,5 out of 5

The members in the Virginia based Turnover all grew up on Drive-Thru records classics and 90´s grunge radio, the band released their self titled debut EP in 2011 and now follow up with the full length album "Magnolia". Turnover ain´t 100% pop punk because you will find traces of indie rock and emo in their sound as well, for fans of Transit, Cartel and Failsafe. The first single "Most of the time" is a highlight on the new album and the following "Wither" is pretty good too, but there are just too long between the highlights and I find myself bored at times. Perhaps they should focus on releasing only EP´s. I really don´t mind the majority of the songs being midtempo because it suits this genre, I´m just looking for more memorable melodies.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Adelaine - Currents

Adelaine - Currents (2013) Mosaic Artistry Group
Produced by Adelaine
Tracks : 1.Two cents 2.Tug of war 3.Square one 4.Bad blood 5.We´ve got it now 6.Antidote 7.I once knew 8.Every once in a while 9.Let go 10.Trail blazer 11.Out of line 12.Home
3 out of 5

Houston, Texas is the home for bands like Destiny´s Child, Blue October, Fighting Gemini and the female fronted rock band Adelaine that scored a top 10 hit with "Do or die" from their debut "Take heart" EP (2011). Now they´re back with the full length album "Currents" and the music is trendy and catchy but also a bit average. There is a jungle out there now with bands that follow Paramore soundwise, not a bad thing really since most of these bands are quite good such as We Are The InCrowd, Carson, Automatic Loveletter etc. But you need to stand out if you´re gonna last on the charts and aim for longevity in the music business, "Currents" is a solid album no doubt where singer Stormy Pina is very talented but I also think they should develop their sound for the next release. This band is just too good to be labeled as Paramore clones, the new single "Bad blood" is hardly the best song here but it´s good. I prefer to listen over and over again to songs like "I once knew" and "Two cents". However, I bet Adelaine will have a good year.

Fathom Lane - Down by half

Fathom Lane - Down by half (2012) Longplayer Records
Produced by Michael Ferrier / Zachary Hollander
Tracks : 1.Hope you never 2.Snowbride 3.Sweet sept 4.Prayer w/o words 5.Miles 6.Naked in the grass 7.Ghost of me 8.Moving 9.Wandering star
2 out of 5

The dark album cover of Fathom Lane´s debut "Down by half" suits the music just fine, it feels like I´m walking alone down an empty road in late October when I´m listening to this album. Although Fathom Lane is a full band, the music centres around singer/songwriter Michael Ferrier and Ashleigh Still on vocals/piano. We´re talking moving music here that ain´t entirely a country record, the listener gets a dose of folk and indie pop as well. They do a cover of Polica´s "Wandering star" which fits in well with the rest but no matter how much I´m trying to understand Fathom Lane´s sound, it just doesn´t move me. There are a few ok songs though like "Snowbride" that bring thoughts to Simon and Garfunkel and "Ghost of me" that can be described as Johnny Cash meets Radiohead. I wonder if not the band´s leader Michael Ferrier is a huge fan of Sigur Ros? I can sense some Icelandic vibes in this record.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Electric Light Orchestra - Live

Electric Light Orchestra - Live (2013) Frontiers Records
Produced by Jeff Lynne
Tracks : 1.Evil woman 2.Showdown 3.Secret messages 4.Livin thing 5.Sweet talking woman 6.Mr Blue Sky 7.Can´t get it out of my head 8.Twilight 9.Confusion 10.Don´t bring me down 11.Roll over Beethoven 12.Out of luck 13.Cold feet
3,5 out of 5

It´s a great year for E.L.O fans and the band´s 40th anniversary, first we got the re-recorded The Very Best of compilation last year and now Frontiers releases E.L.O Live and a reissue of the 2001 album "Zoom". This live album was recorded on the Zoom tour back in 2001 and features Jeff Lynne and Richard Tandy from the original line up along with the Bissonette brothers as the rhythm section and a new string section. Although this is the 5th live album by E.L.O, it´s the first to contain songs from the "Discovery" album and forward up in the 80´s. The other 4 live albums were all recorded in the 70´s, so I think it´s really nice to hear live versions of "Confusion", "Secret messages", "Twilight" and "Don´t bring me down" here. And as a bonus we get 2 new songs in "Out of luck" and "Cold feet", they aren´t as good as the unreleased song "Point of no return" on The Very Best Of but they´re ok. "Out of luck" goes in Elvis Presley´s footsteps while "Cold feet" sounds more like a Jeff Lynne solo tune. The production on the live recordings are faultless and Lynne sings like a true hero. Well I´m happy.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

The Wheel Workers - Past to present

The Wheel Workers - Past to present (2013) Independent
Produced by Dan Workman / Steven Higginbotham
Tracks : 1.Power 2.Past to present 3.Chemicals 4.Starve the beast 5.Older now 6.Drone 7.Fine time 8.Compromise 9.Animals 10.Rainbows 11.Somebody else 12.Want
3,5 out of 5

Wouldn´t it be cool if you could go up to a jukebox, put in a coin and then pick a few words to create your own record. Let´s say you would go for the words - artsy, quirky and indie. Then I bet you would get Houston based The Wheel Workers 2nd album "Past to present", this is a charming new wave record that really didn´t get to me at first but the music grew and now I truly like this band a lot. The band is fronted by guitarist/singer Steven Higginbotham who sounds like a musical cousin to David Byrne (Talking Heads), other bands that comes in mind while listening to "Past to present" are XTC and Vampire Weekend. The title track is personal fave of mine but I´m also weak for the songs "Chemicals", "Compromise" and "Drone", it feels like I´m back in 1979 again. Cool!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Devil To Pay - Fate is your muse

Devil To Pay - Fate is your muse (2013) Ripple Music
Produced by Devil To Pay
Tracks : 1.Prepare to die 2.Wearin you down 3.Ten lizardmen 4.Yes master 5.Already dead 6.This train won´t stop 7.Savonarola 8.Black black heart 9.The naked truth 10.Mass psychosis 11.Tie one on 12.Beyond the ether
2 out of 5

There´s no arguing with if Indianapolis based Devil To Play is heavy rock, because this is heavy shit. The song "Yes master" would make Tony Iommi proud but although I appreciate theír will of delivering some great riffs, I don´t think all the songs hold. "Beyond the ether" and "Ten lizardmen" are two really good songs but they are just too few here, it´s cool though that there are traces of Soundgarden and Black Sabbath in their sound. "Fate is your muse" can be described as a soup of rocknroll, grunge and metal where the band thinks it´s more important with riffs than strong choruses. If you should by any chance dig this album, then you´ll got 3 more studio albums to check out from DTP.
Also for fans of The Sword, Mustasch and Monster Magnet

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Transit - Young New England

Transit - Young New England (2013) Rise Records
Produced by Ted Hutt / Gary Cioffi
Tracks : 1.Nothing lasts forever 2.Second to right 3.Young New England 4.Sleep 5.So long, so long 6.Weathered souls 7.Hang it up 8.Don´t go, don´t stray 9.Thanks for nothing 10.Summer, ME 11.Hazy 12.Bright lights, dark shadows 13.Lake Q
3 out of 5

I´m not sure it will do justice for Transit´s music to label them strictly as emo, however there is a major part of emo in their sound but also indie pop and Britrock. "Young New England" is the follow up to the 2011 album "Listen and forgive", guitarist Joseph Lacy left the band to focus on his new band The Weeds and he was replaced by Torre Cioffi. Transit´s other guitarist Tim Landers has also been busy after the previous album and recorded an album with his side project Misser, a really great album released on Rise Records too. You can catch Transit on tour with Young Statues this spring and then you´ll definitely hear their new single "Nothing lasts forever" that stands out on the new album along with the melodic "Thanks for nothing". Another cool song is the drinking anthem "Young New England", if the 80´s TV series "Cheers" would still be running I´m pretty certain they would use this wonderful tune in one of the shows. If you´re new to this band I do think "Young New England" is a great start to start listening to Transit, it´s a solid album with a great variety of songs.

Monday, April 1, 2013

A.S - Exile

A.S - Exile (2013) Inedible Records
Produced by A.S
Tracks : 1.Do what you want 2.Exile 3.Time 4.Fast 5.Probable cause 6.Invisible kiss 7.Pleasure and pain 8.Fall in 9.Why the hell not? 10.Reasonable doubts
4,5 out of 5

This is a new favorite record of mine from Paris based duo A.S, the band features Nick McRoberts on vocals and piano from Australia who moved to France where he hooked up with Algerian born guitarist Adriss Halfaoui. "Exile" is the follow up to their debut "Intimate circles" from 2009, they spent several months in the studio working on this album and the hard work paid off because "Exile" is a milestone. We´re talking dream-like and dark pop/rock here where the music is timeless and magic, the production is luxurious and the songs are all enchanting. Imagine a mix of Morten Harket, Ray Wilson and Soulsavers and you´ll get "Exile". So are you feeling stressed and worn out? Then the downbeat music of A.S is the medicine you need.

Kill For Eden - Kill For Eden

Kill For Eden - Kill For Eden (2013) Independent
Produced by Kill For Eden
Tracks : 1.Kerosene 2.Untouchables 3.Beige 4.Stalemate 5.The evil that men do 6.Living on Mars 7.Fate insists 8.Ned 9.Over and over 10.Slip away 11.Little wizard 12.Alone with my demons 13.The truth
4 out of 5

I remember the first time I heard Mothers Finest´s hard rock album "Iron age", this groovy funkrock band that changed direction and focused on heavy riffs but still delivered with a soulful performance like their early albums. I get the same vibes from listening to London based Kill For Eden´s self titled debut, they are fronted by the amazing vocalist Lyla D´Souza and I must say that she is the star of this band. The first single "Kerosene" is available for streaming at soundcloud and if you dig that tune, I can guarantee that you will be a huge fan of this band because the entire album is a smash! The song "Beige" bring thoughts to Skunk Anansie while songs like "Stalemate" and "The evil that men do" will appeal to fans of Living Colour and Ra.
KFE has a well deserved spot as the album of the week here at my blog.

Downfall 2012 - Everyman for himself

Downfall 2012 - Everyman for himself / Issue one (2012) Independent
Produced by Downfall 2012
Tracks : 1.Face to face 2.Divinity 3.Toy box 4.Never sell a lie 5.Family fortune
4 out of 5

Pounding drums, hammering guitars, sirens, rap, powerful vocals, grunge-like harmonies with a numetal flavor sound so much like 90´s and I love it. Welcome Houston based metallers Downfall 2012 and their latest EP. "Everyman for himself" is very aggressive but still really melodic, I think it´s a great idea to combine classic hardrock riffs with 90´s alternative metal and then spice it up with choruses that will make the moshpit totally go wild. All 5 tracks are awesome but be prepared for the new video of "Divinity" to be launched in April on youtube, that song will make you scream for more.