Review: Michael Bormann’s Jaded Hard – Feels Like Yesterday

RMB Records (October 25th 2019)

Reviewer: Dan Mann

To be honest, this could easily be a really short review being such a fan of this band’s vocalist. There are vocalists I like that I always grab the releases ofwhatever band / project they sing on. One such vocalist is Michael Bormann.

Unbelievably it’s been almost fourteen years since Michael’s departure from Jaded Heart. Since his announcement of the formation of Jaded Hard around two years ago, I’ve been keeping a beedy eye on their plans. Jaded Hard have up to now been playing live dates in Europe. But now they’ve taken the plunge and are releasing an album, ‘Feels Like Yesterday‘, containing twelve brand new songs.

Put it simply, this is like an early Christmas present for all Bormann fans. This is like re-visiting those classic Bormann fronted Jaded Heart albums, albums I absolutly love!

With albums you’re instantly taken with, it’s damn hard to pick favorite or stand out tracks. However, for me personally ‘Won’t Surrender‘, ‘We’d Still Make It‘, the Tyketto sounding ‘Bring Me Higher Love‘, the Y&T esk ‘Good Times‘ and ‘It Feels Like Yesterday‘ fit the bill.

To be fair, in my humble opinion, there isn’t a bad/weak track on the album, I’ve already played it multiple times and have it pencilled in as another likely contender for my top ten list for the year.

If your a Michael Bormann fan then this is a must buy. Likewise if your a melodic hard rock fan, add it to your ‘to buy’ list forthwith!

 

Review: Beth Hart – War in My Mind

Provogue / Mascot Label Group (September 27th 2019)

Reviewer: Peter Scallan

Can’t remember when I first saw this she devil of a woman but it may have been on Jools Holland’s show and just thought, WTF! What a voice and what a stage presence. I have been hooked ever since. I mean, who else would start a show at the Royal Albert Hall in the middle of the audience, singing unaccompanied and walk through said audience to the stage. So let’s get straight in there!

‘Bad Women Blues‘ starts with some contemporary woahs and electronic hand claps and then into then into big chopping verse which builds to the chorus and I am hooked on this bad woman. Blues with a contemporary twist. The opening lilting piano of ‘War on My Mind‘ gently introduces a song with deep and dark subject matter. The songs rises and falls beautifully as do Beth’s vocals. ‘Without Words in the Way‘ opens with what sounds like an upright bass and for a moment I am expecting Tom Waits to come blustering in. Instead I get Beth Hart in gentle, lilting mood and she lightly builds into the song with a jazzy feel to it. It really swings superbly in my humble opinion with piano, bass and percussion.

Let It Grow‘ moves back to a more contemporary feel with the vocoder style intro before Beth and her trusty piano pick up the thread of this song. The contemporary feel continues throughout the song with a superb chorus and the introduction of a great bank of female backing vocals giving it a slight gospel feel. Continuing with the contemporary and melodic feel I could almost image ‘Try A Little Harder‘ on an early Toto album. The song is uplifting and bounces along until the half-time breakdown for the middle eight and then leads back into an uplifting with Hart doing some Cleo Lane adlibs in places! ‘Sister Dear‘ is just classic Beth Hart and piano. With a little bass and percussion and some strings, the songs just tells its story about her sister Susan.

We are now into the second half of the twelve songs and it kicks off with a suedo-Spanish feel. Not surprising as the song is called ‘Spanish Lullaby‘. It is a full band affair with bass and drums driving along with guitar and Hart kicking up the gears a little vocally. The pace drops for ‘Rub Me For Luck‘ with electronic style percussion in the laid back verse. Just as you are lulled into a false sense of security lilting piano, the chorus bursts in and it sounds like a Bond them tune which Shirley Bassey would have been proud of! Superb!

Sugar Shack‘ sees Hart venture into an almost danceable beat reminiscent of early Stevie Nicks. The song bounces along on a pulsating hi-hat rhythm with the she devil weaving her meandering spell with her silken vocals across this song lifting and dropping as she sees fit. We crop back into some laid back blues piano for the intro to ‘Woman Down‘. The structure of the song reminds me again a little of Tom Waits with the light and shade building to a crescendo at the end with percussion and bass. The penultimate song sees Beth in a happier reflective mood with ‘Thankful‘. Returning to the more contemporary side of this album the song builds from the simple piano and vocals and slowly building with drums, bass and guitar. Sadly, we are at the last track but it is a fitting end for a Beth Hart album. ‘I Need A Hero‘ again opens with piano and vocal interplay that is this lady’s specialism. This continues throughout the song and is archetypal of some of her live performances, where the band seems to disappear and is never quite sure of when they are going to be invited back onto stage!

I am not sure if I can pour enough superlatives on this album. It’s Beth Hart adding a little contemporary feel and it works spectacularly for me. Yet it still has some of the trademark Beth Hart blues, melody and angst we have come to expect and adore. Simply fantabuloso! Roll on Valentine’s Day when myself and Mrs Scallan have the pleasure of this lady’s company at the Royal Concert Hall in Glasgow.

Review: Kris Barras Band – Light It Up

Provogue/Mascot Label Group (September 3th 2019)

Reviewer: Peter Scallan

The Kris Barras Band first came to my attention with the single ‘Hail Mary‘ which was a slow burner for me. On the basis of this and hearing a few other songs I acquired ‘The Divine and Dirty‘ album. This proved to be a heady mix blues and rock with a commercial bias, sounding like Bon Jovi with gonads and a decent vocal of course. Fast forward and here we have the latest opus from KBB entitled ‘Light It Up‘ which continues in the same vein and to great effect.

What You Get‘ opens the album and is bluesy, ballsy and melodic. Stradling the best of Davy Knowles and Bon Jovi it is a stomping anthem which sets the tone for ‘what you get’ from the rest of the album. ‘Broke Teeth‘ opens with a great bottleneck riff and continues in the same vein with some great female backing vocals and could be off Slippery When Blue, sorry Wet! The chorus sounds like it is paying homage to Kris’s other love of cage fighting, at which he is also meant to be pretty mean at. Next up is ‘Vegas Son‘ which I believe is a single from the album. Sounding a little like classic Pat Travers Band, the song stretches the band into more blues rock territory with a slight nod to a little reggae, ergo the Travers reference. The title track is next up entitled ‘Ignite (Light It Up)‘ and this rocks along with a killer chorus over a stonking staccato guitar riff. ‘6AM‘ takes the band back into a more laid back blues groove with a driving bass line through the chorus and of course another killer chorus. There is some nice Hammond on the song too. The slide into laid back blues continues with ‘Rain‘ which has a Nashville country feel for me. The chorus has a stripped feel and builds nicely into yet another hook-laden chorus.

‘Counterfeit People‘ takes us back to a guitar driven blues mid-paced rocker hand looking at the title I wondered if it were an observation on the music business! Great guitar riff, great vocals and catchy chorus again. The feel varies a little again with ‘Let The River Run Through You‘ walking a fine line between blues and country rock. None the less it is another stonking song reminiscent in some ways of Chris Whitley’s first album. The rock returns with ‘Bullet‘ which swaggers along through the chorus on a rhythmic bass line and of course, yeah that’s right – another killer chorus! There is also a great break down into the guitar solo. ‘Wound Up‘ opens up with a real twelve-bar rock’n’roll feel with bottleneck over the top. It then breaks down into a great chop for the verse and builds well into another pristine chorus.

As they say in the business, you can never get enough cowbell and ‘What A Way To Go‘ just proves that. This is a raucous blues rocker that doesn’t disappoint. More cowbell anybody? ‘Not Fading‘ continues in the blues rock vein opening with a great double beat with further tinges of Pat Travers. It just rocks along to the ultimate track on the album called ‘Pride is Forever‘. This has almost Bad Co feel to it with the guitar riff and the use of the slide reminiscent of Mick Ralphs with the inevitable killer chorus. Simple, but very effective and the perfect example of sometimes less is more.

Well what can I say about this album? For me it really is quite a majestic statement of intent with superb songs, playing, vocals and production. I haven’t yet seen Kris Barras Band live but I am so looking forward to seeing them when they hit Glasgow. Yeah, this is bluesy, but there is just so much more to this album in terms of melody – I am sure if he could still do it then Jon Bon Jovi would be delighted to put this out. It’s just got it all for me and a must have! Go get it – NOW!

Kickin ValentinaChaos In Copenhagen (EP)

Mighty Music  (December 6th 2019)

Reviewer: Paul Saripo

Kickin Valentina, hailing from Atlanta, are one of the best live bands I have seen in recent years, so I was pleased for the opportunity to review the bands new EP, here it is ‘Chaos in Copenhagen’ which is set to be released 6th December.

This is not just any EP release, this is 3 brand new songs, a new frontman and a live version of ‘Get Ready’ recorded live at this years Bang Your Head Festival 2019.

Kickin Valentina at the beginning of 2019 introduced a new frontman into the equation in the form of D.k. Revelle (Ex Jetboy)

Some processes and changes happen for a reason and this new line up is no exception.

The EP opens up with ‘Sweat’ a full-on anthem that will have you on your feet singing and head swinging around to precision beat delivery by Jimmy Berdine hammering out the drums, this is one hell of a track with a solid vibe.

Next up and maintaining the momentum is ‘Easy Ryder’ menacing drums duelling with some serious bass lines, low strung and delivered by Chris Taylor ripping up the bass strings, whilst Heber Pampillon works the guitar providing some serious riffs and solo work.

Shake Down’ follows on, in a slightly different approach, exercising vocal harmonies and lyrical hooks that show the range of ability in not only maintaining well written and original songs, but in the delivery of a sound that’s so catchy it feels like this will be an epidemic.

Last track, ‘Get Ready’ (Live at Bang Your Head) is up next and it has 3 brand new stellar tracks before it to compete with. Well It’s a belter, not only is this a fantastic live performance capturing most of the unique elements of Kickin Valentina, it is mixed to perfection and sits well on this EP.  Since recruiting the new vocalist and touring extensively this year D.K. Revelle has proved his commitment and delivers his powerhouse vocals into the bands well eared an proven brand of ‘loud unapologetic rock n roll’

This EP is not only a masterpiece from start to finish, but a prelude of what is to come from a  band of talented and experienced song writers with real stage presence delivering full on freight train rock’n’roll in and out of the studio.

Puddle of Mudd – Welcome to Galvania

Pavement Entertainment (September 13th 2019)

Reviewer: Paul Saripo 

Puddle Of Mudd have been around since 1991 however it wasn’t until around 2000 that the band became worldly known.  Singer songwriter and only original member Wes Scantlin  has now released this 5th studio album after 10 years.     

The album starts with some menacing grungy riffs with ‘You Don’t Know’ which is a good opener for the album and sets the intention and delivery of cultivated grunge that is woven amongst the lyrically angst tracks of this album.

Next up is ‘Oh Oh’ with some catchy riffs and hooks. The formula here is classic Puddle Of Mudd single material. This had me singing along in no time at all.

Following on is ‘Go To Hell’ I quite like this song too, however something about the chorus vocals sounds reminiscent of some sort of wailing cat, however I have listened to this a few times now and it grows on you to the inevitable point that it seems to sit well in the song.

I’m liking the guitar work on ‘Diseased Almost’ with some very poignant lyrics that can be associated with the struggles that Wes Scantlin has battled with. This is not to be underestimated and is a fitting keystone of this album.

‘My Kind Of Crazy’ is another well written, song which builds and expands on the struggles around lousing your way.

‘Time Of Our Lives’ starts slower and has some reflective thoughts coming through with complimentary rhythm section to keep you moving along.

‘Sunshine’ another song in context of the album, expressing the inner battlefield.

‘just Tell Me’ moves to another area of relationships and the continued challenges that have been put to pen for album. Some interesting and catchy riffs tie this album together and make it worthy of any rock collection, ‘Kiss It All Goodbye’  and ‘Slide Away’ close the album with, originality yet with a familiar feel of times gone by in the abyss of the 90’s POM. As an indication of the commercial awareness a radio friendly version of ‘Oh Oh’ sits as the final track of the album as an alternative, which doesn’t suffer any loss of impact as a result.

Overall I enjoyed the album. Puddle Of Mudd have swapped and changed musicians faster then a duelling banjo player on a caffeine rush, yet Wes who has remained constant has had quite a journey along the way. This album is a product of that turbulent time moving on to this point of a new full album after 10 years of struggles.

 

 

 

Review: Stargazer – The Sky Is The Limit

Mighty Music (October 11th 2019)

Reviewer: David Mark Pearce

After releasing ‘The Sky Is The Limit‘ and ‘I’m The One‘ from their forthcoming album, this hugely talented band from Norway are setting out their stall as a major force to be reckoned with.

Their self-titled debut was good, but this album sees the four piece really step it up – not just one notch, but several. Ok, so what do they sound like? In the mixing pot I hear TNT, Black Sabbath, Van Halen, Dokken and the guitarist has definitely listened to Blackmore, Le Tekro and George Lynch with, at times, a hint of Malmsteen.

A cave full of reverb is on this album, which suits me just fine. It reminds me of when I mixed my album and a friend said “Wow … I didn’t know you could get that much reverb into a track!”. Well, in comparison, I pale into insignificance! ‘The Sky Is The Limit‘ is packed full of great riffs, great vocals and all round musicianship, which makes an album of great songs you’ll be listening to on repeat for a long time. I should know, as I haven’t stopped listening to it for weeks – fantastic album!

 

Review: Chantel McGregor – Bury’d Alive

Tis Rock Music Ltd (Sept 6th 2019)

Reviewer: Dan Mann

I’ve had the pleasure of seeing Chantel play live a few times, and I’ve enjoyed the previous releases of hers. I’m always intreagued to see which direction a live album is going to take, whether more studio like in sound or just too live (yes that is possible). Thankfully under the expert steering of Wayne Proctor‘s production, ‘Bury’d Alive‘ hits what I call the sweet spot. Great sound quality but still easily recognisable as a genuine live recording.

The album kicks off in fine style with one of my favorite songs by Chantel, ‘Take The Power‘, which is the opening track on her 2015 release ‘Lose Control‘.

Next up a stormimg live rendition of ‘Killing Time‘, again off ‘Lose Control‘. The tightness of the band is evident as the song sweeps you along with it’s pounding bass and drums and controlled guitar playing.

We slow things down for track three, the title track from ‘Like No Other‘. The combination of Chantel’s voice and accoustic guitar at the start is totally mesmorising, then the track gathers steam. The separation of the instruments and vocals in the mix is fantastic, with a real clarity and depth.

Caught Out‘ takes no prisoners with it’s energetic attack, if it doesn’t get your foot tapping then it must be nailed to the floor!

Eternal Dream‘ is next, another firm favorite of mine, Chantel’s vocals raising the hairs on my arms. An absolute delight.

Lose Control‘ is another energetic song, a shout out to drummer Thom Gardner & bassist Colin Sutton for such a storming engine department, helping to propel the whole song along at such a pace.

Inconsolable‘ again highlights Chantel’s vocal talents, her voice almost haunting, she just drags you in, gaining all your attention as you listen. There are just so many musical elements, beautifully encapsulated in this track.

Off ‘Lose Control‘ we have ‘Your Fever‘, another personal favorite (yes I’m a fan okay haha) Love the riff on this song!

We’re given a real treat next, ‘April’ only appears on ‘Bury’d Alive‘ and is nearly 8 1/2 minutes of musical prowess. If you need to hear just one track on this album to understand the level of talent, then this is the one. Think Steve Vai / Joe Satriani levels of instrumental goodness.

The penultimate song ‘Walk On Land‘ is yes another personal favorite, taken from ‘Lose Control‘ Can I put my finger on why I like it? Nope but it grabs me everytime I hear it.

And so sadly we reach track eleven, the final song. ‘Freefalling‘ is the perfect song to take us to the end. This is guaranteed to get any crowd on their feet and be allowed to be carried along to a triumphant climax.

So to sum up….If your already a Chantel McGregor fan the nthis is a must buy. If your not familiar with her music then this is a perfect introduction. Another potential entry for my top ten of 2019.

 

Review: Collateral / Piston

Nottingham Rock City B (September 21st 2019)

Review / Photos: Dan Mann

There was a half decent crowd at last night’s Collateral / Piston gig at Rock City B, which isn’t too bad a venue imho. Personal observations of last night’s gig. Piston sounded a lot better than their album, however still not seeing the appeal if I’m honest, to me they came across as a glorified bar band.

Collateral hit the stage with a swagger, their new material sounding great live. After their stint on Jon Bon Jov’s Mediterranean Cruise there’s a noticeable difference, the guys seem more confident, more relaxed in who they are as a band. A shame their album is delayed until next year, they need to get it out while their on this upward trajection.

Great reactions from the crowd to both bands, an entertaining evening for sure.

All photographs copyright Dan Mann / RPR Media UK

Review: Tygers Of Pan Tang – Ritual

Mighty Music (November 22nd 2019)

Reviewer: Grant Foster

The Tygers have been around in one form or another since 1978. Most famously, having John Sykes play on their 2nd album ‘Spellbound.’

Robb Weir is the only original member of the current line up from those heady days, but, don’t be fooled. The  previous Tygers release, the self titled ‘Tygers Of Pan Tang’, released in 2016 showed an outfit that was still full of bite and roar.

So, what of ‘Ritual?’

The one – two punch of ‘Worlds Apart’ and ‘Destiny’ showcase all that is good about the modern day Tygers. Chorus’ that will have you hollering not just at the weekend, but all through the week too. That might piss your bosses off, but bollocks to them. This is hard rock at its finest.

A word regarding singer Jacopo Meille. A hell of a voice. Tygers have always had vocalists with that ‘smooth’ sound. Jacopo has that and more besides. His delivery is right on the money throughout, although, and the band might not thank me for it, he has a distinct similarity in timbre, to Davy Vain at certain times! But for me, that’s no bad thing.

Rescue Me’ is a controlled mid tempo affair, but don’t confuse that with a lack of power. Another chorus of note and a fine guitar solo, punch this song into the upper echelons.

Raise Some Hell’, sees the pace turned up several notches. This is your foot on the monitor, head shaking number.

There’s a certain Saxon element to ‘Spoils Of War’, the guitars chugging along menacingly, with a middle part guitar solo that is classic Tygers.

White Lines’ uses some early vocal double tracking to good effect. It’s no big surprise to learn that the subject matter isn’t about flour, or what separates one side of the road from the other!

A melodic guitar and vocal intro to ‘Words Cut Like Knives’, showing a slightly mellower side. Again, it’s what the Tygers do really well and this is no exception. The track then cuts loose with some very cool lead guitar work indeed.

Damn You!’ is a thumping track. ‘Urban jungle, broken hearts and broken minds – I wanna stay alive!’ It’s a song about revenge or getting revenge. Enough said.

Jacopo’s vocals on ‘Love Will Find A Way’ are probably the best on the album. Even if you don’t like songs with the word, ‘love’ in, trust me, you’ll be singing this when you see them live. And you will be going to see them on tour, won’t you?! You bloody well should be on this album’s showing!!

I’m not keen on ‘The Art Of Noise.’ Fans of the really heavy end will like this though.

The album closer, ‘Sail On’, swings along like an old sea shanty. Touches of Maiden maybe, but it is it’s own sailor, so to speak. It knows when to step off the throttle as well, as when to step back on it.

The Tygers have delivered a consistently strong, muscular, melodic, hard rock album of high quality. Make sure it’s part of your daily Ritual from now on.

 

 

Review: Burning Sermons – Liv Sin

Despotz Records (September 6th 2019)

Reviewer: Grant Foster

I thought I’d review something way out of my comfort zone – which is AC/DC or bands that sound like them!

What I knew about this band you could have tried to have written on the top of a pin head. I really haven’t a clue how you’d describe them. Nu Metal? New rock? Church rock? Metal metal?!

How about we settle on Heavy Metal. Their Facebook page actually describes them as, ‘Metal for Sinners!’ These guys (and gal!) are from Sweden and came together in 2016. The singer is Liv Jagrell, a visually striking woman and possessor of a fine pair of lungs to boot.

What’s apparent is that they know how to weave pretty good melodies into their choruses, which means you end up humming them for a few days after. Which is always a good sign.

Opener, ‘Blood Moon Fever’, leads in with an Evanescence style keyboard intro, before it all kicks off. Liv’s voice propels the verse into a seriously catchy chorus. The guitars underpin everything in a time honoured chugging style.

Liv Sin definitely have their own style and I can see it going down really well with our Euro metal cousins.

Second tune, ‘Chapter Of The Witch’, means business, very menacing, fast riffs, but with another catchy chorus.

Its about now you realise how much the keyboards also contribute. They weave in and out, underneath the guitars, without ever overpowering or detracting from them.

Hope Begins To Fade, ‘could almost be a modern Europe track at the beginning, but what Liv Sin do well, is to move it slightly far enough into their own style to change the track.

Not every track works though. ‘War Antidote’ strays into pastiche. Maybe it’s just because of the higher standard of the other tracks here?!

At The Gates Of The Abyss’, sees Liv ease off of the power and her voice is impressive in this softer delivery.

Slave To The Machine’, has a thumping bass and drum during the verse, allowing the space for the rest of the band.

The heaviest tune on offer could well be ‘Death Gives Life Meaning’, as Liv spits out the line, ‘Take your fucking ways, burn them to the ground!’ I wouldn’t try and steal this lady’s Prosecco!!

To balance this, next up is ‘Ghost In the Dark’. Picked guitars and swirling keyboards provide an atmospheric background to an impassioned vocal. Impressive.

There’s probably people better qualified to review this style of music, but I tried to keep an open mind and I honestly enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I would. The production is punchy, clear and concise. The playing is of a high order too.

I bet Liv Sin would go down a storm at a festival in Germany.