Review: White Widdow – Victory
AOR Heaven (October 19th 2018)
Reviewer: Stephen Brophy
White Widdow return with a new album ‘Victory‘ out on the AOR Heaven label and the follow up to 2016’s ‘Silhouette‘, the Aussie melodic rockers are becoming more prolific as the years pass and that’s no bad thing. Brothers Xavier and Jules are once again heading affairs alongside the excellent Enzo who’s guitar work all over this album is up to the usual exemplary standard. With the now super solid backdrop of Ben (bass) and Gavin (drums) we get a unit that works so smoothly together, it’s great to see and hear.
The musical style here is very much AOR/Melodic Rock, and they are damn good at crafting quality classic rock songs, always full of melodies and hooks, and as you’d expect really strong soaring guitar solos and at times really punchy keyboards, just take a listen to ‘America‘ pops right up and attempts to raise your arms in the air.
Having listened to the album a lot over the last few weeks some of my first impressions now seem quite wide of the mark, and that’s something that worries me in the modern age, how many albums get passed on if a song doesn’t immediately bowl you over, living with music in your head and heart for a while is always a good idea, and this is another one worth allowing to sink in.
Of the ten here the highlights are undoubtedly the single ‘Second Hand Heart‘ which is just a cracking song, the title track ‘Victory‘ that opens affairs is another and magic of ‘Danced In The Moonlight‘ which for me has a bit of a Rick Springfield into, as everywhere else Xavier’s keyboards are such an integral part of the music, and it’s the same with all of the instruments here, everything gets warmly wrapped around each other, and all for the greater good of the sound, this song is just beautiful five minutes and forty seconds of pure class.
Perhaps initially I thought more fast paced tracks in the mix here somewhere would add a little something, but no, the mix is great and this is another really good album from White Widdow, the band are as solid as ever, Jules is sounding great and the songs once again are very well written and put together, there is a maturity covering this one and it should go down well in all corners. Another one to get stuck into in what seems to be a strong end to a strong year for Melodic Rock.
Review: Collateral – 4 Shots! EP
Roulette Media Records (Nov 23rd 2018)
Reviewer: Dan Mann
I first came across Collateral a while back, forgot I’d liked them on Facebook (I know!) and re-discovered them just in time for them to be the opening act for last year’s Fibrofest. What I’ve witnessed in the time since is a band that has grown from strength to strength. After going through several band member changes, the band have now found an even more impressive footing during their live performances, but also when it comes to their recorded material.
The first song ‘Going with The Wind‘ I’d already listened to plenty of times when Collateral were original called the Angelo Tristan Band. Listening to it on this EP is almost re-discovering it. The production lifts it in terms of depth and soundscape.
Track two, ‘Midnight Queen‘ was the band’s first single, which has already helped garner the band new fans and shows them at a more commercial angle. A very catchy tune indeed.
‘Angels Crying‘ is another track I know from their previous incarnation and perfectly demonstrates what a fantastic voice Angelo Tristan has. Superb stuff.
And unfortunately we reach the forth and final track. ‘Just Waiting For You‘, again a track I’m already familiar with, shows a maturity of songwriting and is now given that final polish that will help propel the band onward.
Which leaves me with two thoughts….why aren’t Angelo and the boys already household names? And how will I last until next year’s full album?
Collateral will break through I have no doubt. If you don’t believe me then listen to this here EP and catch them live at your earliest opportunity.
Review: Midnite City –There Goes The Neighbourhood
AOR Heaven (October 19th 2018)
Reviewer: Stephen Brophy
There is a reality here that I still can’t quite get my head around, Midnite City have only been on the Melodic scene for a little over a year, the debut Album launch took place in Nottingham last October and it was one of the best Melodic Rock releases of 2017, and here we stand 12 months later and they have rapidly built up a very loyal following, this reviewer included, but that’s all down to the quality of the songs released to date. This band are certainly not going to rest on their laurels and album number two is an absolute cracker.
The musical style here is very much melodic hard rock, there’s a massive 80’s feel to it but it also has a modern feel, and just like its predecessor the backing vocals throughout are outstanding, it’s not just that they are there it’s where they are brought in and how good they are that makes the difference. Musically the guys are top notch, fluid beautiful guitar from Miles all the way through, Shawn’s keyboards that enhance the overall sound, such a rock solid backline of Pete (Drums) and Josh (Bass), the band has elevated the great work they produced on the first album and taken it to the next level.
Having listened to the album a lot over the last few weeks it has been difficult to swap to other music on my players, and it still demands more listening. Of the eleven tracks you just get the feeling that they were put together to bring out a different emotion, it’s not all party music, but still pretty upbeat throughout.
Any album you listen to and more tracks push their way to the front of your mind when listening, is one worth holding onto as it’s going to keep getting better and this is one, right now I can’t stop listening to. ‘Heaven’s Falling‘, just wow, what a wonderful song, and in many ways it epitomises this band, Midnite City are not a nostalgic look back on 80’s Hair Metal bands, they are a living beating modern band with a hard rock engine and so much freshness about what they are doing. The closer ‘Until The End‘ is another with a bit of everything in it, ‘Tonight You’re All I Need‘ has also been hitting the spot, love the keyboards, subtle but prominent, love it.
This album grabbed me straight away and hasn’t let go, part of that was because of the first single ‘Give Me Love‘ which really is my favourite song of the year so far, so catchy and full of life, definitely made to be sung at the top of your lungs at a gig, just a cracking song. But it’s not just a couple of stand out tracks here, this is an album you can sit and enjoy listening to in it’s entirety, if you are a melodic rock fan this one should really be right up your street, great balance, production, songs just a wonderful package. The guys have done it again, without a doubt a contender for Melodic Rock Album of the year, for those lucky enough to be attending the Album Launch at the Rockingham Aftershow Party on the 19th, have an amazing time, it’s a brilliant album.
Review: HRH Sleaze II – Day 1 – 01-09-2018
O2 Academy, Sheffield
Review : Stephen Brophy
Photography : Stephen Brophy
The Idol Dead (Acoustic)
HRH Festivals generally have some special Acoustic Sets on for VIP/Royalty Ticket holders, and Sleaze II is no exception. These sets are short and fun, and The Idol Dead work this perfectly, it’s a touch of genius to get the crowd to whisper responses rather than sing them at the top of their lungs, crowd love them and it’s very hard not to, really made me look forward to the full electric set to come.
Don’t know why but this acoustic set just didn’t do much for me at all, but even with that I was already sure that the full set was going to be a much different animal. Sometimes bands with slightly more aggressive vocal delivery and acoustic sets just don’t mix and for these ears it wasn’t happening this time around.
The Idol Dead
The room was already close to full when the guys returned to the stage and they were up to speed from the first note, this band is just full of energy, more than your fair share of smiles and an attitude that is infectious. They’ve got the crowd eating out of their hand from the first track, the upbeat punky delivery is great, but the songs stick with you from first listen, and that’s a great thing for any band.
Then you have the band themselves, damn they work hard, whether it’s Polly hanging out of the ceiling, or the guys getting each side of the room to sing off against the other, they are engaging, fun, a bloody cracking band, the songs are not only catchy but strong, opening Stage2 at a Festival seems like a bit of a waste of their talents, lets home next time out they are over on the larger one, would love to see this band with the space and larger crowd to work with, the enjoyment would only be amplified, having said that it was awesome to see these guys in a smaller setting just killing it. Follow that.
One of the bands on the bill this weekend that I hadn’t managed to see before, but had seen listed on Festival lineups before, in fact they played last years Sleaze Festival on the same stage.
Definitely a big difference for me between their acoustic and plugged in sets, they let loose a bit more, there’s quite a few mixed styles here, they are heavy with screaming solos, but a punk element in there, add in a slight Gothy feel to the delivery too, there’s certainly enough heads moving in the middle of the crowd, and the Leeds outfit are going down well in this early afternoon slot. Certainly different to most of what’s on offer this weekend.
Italian Rockers Speed Stroke came out and attacked Stage 2, no messing around, just there to power their way through the set, and it was terrific. Perhaps taking a number of those in attendance a little by surprise, this opening with ‘Sick Of You‘ this band is not only musically excellent, they have a tonne of power, there’s a nice speed to it all that gets your head moving straight away, and in Jack (Giacomo) they have a great frontman and singer, the backing vocals throughout are also very impressive, but the songs just seem to fly by in this 9 song set, that’s how good it is, if people hadn’t seen them before I am sure they walked away from the stage impressed and ready check out the guys online when they get home.
Honestly I don’t think the stage was big enough for these guys, they looks like they were a little confined and would not have been out of place at all on the main stage. There’s a brashness to their music, whether you call it hard rock, sleaze, metal or glam is irrelevant these guys are terrific, if you get the chance to see them do, they don’t disappoint, Michael and Bassa’s furios twin guitar attack is great and all backed up by the power of Gabriele and Andrea on Bass and Drums respectively, you can tell these guys have learned their craft well and that little bit of added punch.
This is a band that have rapidly built up a strong following and reputation, isn’t not surprising when you consider the main protagonists here are Roby Wylde (Tigertailz) and Pete Newdeck (Newman, Tainted Nation, Eden’s Curse) and also that they released one of the strongest Melodic Rock albums of the year last year, they show no signs of slowing down this juggernaut. The set is made up mainly from songs off that excellent debut album and sprinkled with some new tracks from the soon to be released, and excellent, ‘There Goes The Neighbourhood‘ album.
What’s most engaging about this band live is that the songs pick you up and carry you along with them and you can see the joy in the faces of the band as they play. Tracks like ‘We Belong‘ and ‘Summer Of Our Lives‘ have become impossible for me not to sing along to in a very short period of time, a melodic soundtrack for sure, and then the new single hits you ‘Give Me Love‘, the track has been spinning around the head for weeks but now I’ve heard it live that’s it, addicted, love that song already.
For the first band on the main stage today the crowd is very big, and very responsive, but how could they not be, another terrific set and a hell of a way to kick off the main stage. These guys are going places, and it’s brilliant to be along this trip for the ride, Midnite City will no doubt be higher up the bill in the future.
The Senton Bombs
When you have a Drummer that literally takes the roof off on his own then you already have a massive step up for a starting point. Missed the start of the set with shooting the band on the main stage but managed to get in and catch some of the energy these guys emit.
Really enjoyed what I heard from the and they also really got the crowd going which is great to see on the smaller stage, another band that don’t conform to the standard formula.
Last Great Dreamers
Next up on Stage 1 were Last Great Dreamers who have now become a regular fixture on the HRH Festival scene, and they always put in a really good set. For me the band has gotten stronger over the last few years and they are really tight now and that showed in the sizeable crowd in front of the stage.
From the mix of Rock ‘N’ Roll with a kind of Indie feel to some of the songs, it has certainly gives them an original sound that still sounds fresh today. The set is made up of tracks from the beginning through to the releases since their reincarnation, the guys always put on a great show.
Coyote Mad Seeds
This 3 piece were absolutely new to me and to be honest they were one of the bands that just didn’t seem to fit this Festival. Not that there was anything wrong with how or what they played, it just didn’t seem to work, certainly to these old ears.
Personally I like the kind of stuff they played, I just don’t think it went down so well at this particular Festival. Definitely added to my radar though and will hopefully catch them again.
WOW, is that enough to say for this 5 piece Hard Rock band ? Belgium’s Wildheart absolutely nailed it from the start to the end of the set and included possibly the best Whitesnake cover I have heard to date, and it all looked so effortless. Frontman Farty really is a class act and the band are so bloody tight, it’s proper Hard Rock, high pitched vocal delivery and I love it. Had really been looking forward to seeing this band and they were just class, and from the reaction of the crowd, which built as the set progressed they would be a welcome return to these shores anytime.
From the excellent ‘Lovehunter‘ through ‘Get Up (Fight Back)‘ and ‘Never Let Go‘ this band mixes their own energetic music with the influences that I loved, Crue, Dokken, Whitesnake, they sounded big, have a party vibe and that puts a smile on your face when watching them, add to that the excellent twin guitar attack of Wouter and Thomas, as I looked around the venue there were lots of smiling faces, and that’s never a bad sign. Not always a fan of bands doing covers during Festival Sets, but if you are going to do it you better do it well, and damn do the do it well, ‘Still Of The Night‘ is far too recognisable to make a mess of, but they do a brilliant job, it’s the vocal that grabs me so much, there’s a confidence in the delivery that puts you at ease. Great set, cracking band.
To mark this band off my Bucketlist was one thing, but for them to play an absolutely killer set and be up there loving every minute of it, well that’s god be enough for everyone. Add to that the fact that the tracks off their soon to be released new album are so damn strong, having heard the new single ‘Born To Fly‘ quite a bit in recent weeks it was going to be interesting to hear how it came across live, and bloody hell it was so damn good, that was enough in itself to have me excited to hear the rest of the album.
Of course for a lot of people, me included tonight, what they want to hear is material from early albums ‘Feel The Shake‘ and ‘Damned Nation‘ with the balance tonight coming from the latter, and they deliver in spades. The set has a really good balance, and although I think the majority of the packed venue are really interested to see the band by the end of the set they could easily have played for longer, it’s kinda crazy to think this is the bands first visit to the UK, but they are welcome visitors.
‘Evil‘ has always been one of my favourite tracks, and it’s just brilliant, a sultry track that is perhaps a little less brash than a lot of their other output, but it fits in tonight so well, there’s so much attitude on that stage, particularly from frontman Mickey Finn and guitarist Ferne Rod and the calm is brought by Billy Rowe, it’s brilliant to watch, Mickey simply owns the stage, there’s a snarl there that makes it all the better, but something I will take away from this set more than anything is the humble demeanor he brings when addressing the audience on how happy and thankful they are to be here. The band are so tight, they have obviously been working really hard and this for me is one of those sets you are just so happy to have seen, they need to come back again as this was just a taster, more I needed, definitely one of the bands of the weekend.
Last time I caught the LA Guns live was at HRH AOR last year, and something on the day just didn’t grab me, and I was definitely in the minority, but tonight well that certainly wasn’t the case, they blew me away. What a cracking setlist for a start, really strong and then there’s the band, Tracii was on fire, and loving every minute of it, which is a joy to watch. But the real proof of the pudding is always in the crowd reaction to a set, and that’s why, at least for part of any of these sets I tend to move to the side of the venue to check out how the crowd are reacting to what’s happening on stage, and for LA Guns from the front to the back of the venue there is singing, fist pumping and just a general feeling of joy.
There was no doubt that tonight the crowd would have stayed for as long as the band played. Phil and Tracii are making a lot of fans really happy and long may they continue to do so. There are a tonne of highlights tonight, Tracii’s guitar tone being one, he just sounds majestic, but the band are such a solid unit these days and it’s great to see Adam Hamilton back in the band playing guitar. When you have a large back catalog to choose from picking the set for a Festival Headline slot is not all that easy, especially when you want to showcase some of the newer material, but that’s fine for this band as last years ‘The Missing Piece‘ was excellent and really well received, so the inclusion of 3 tracks is no surprise the highlight being the brooding ‘The Flood’s The Fault Of The Rain‘.
It’s quite obvious from looking around that a lot of people are here for the headliners, and this is most definitely a worth Headline slot, they could play anything tonight everything has just slotted into place nicely. Take your pick from a list of classics, they are just sounding great tonight, but standing out are ‘I Wanna Be Your Man‘, ‘One More Reason‘ and a crunching version of ‘Malaria‘. Closing out the set with the wonderful ballads ‘Crystal Eyes‘ which is so haunting and ‘The Ballad Of Jayne‘ plus classic rocker ‘Rip And Tear‘ has the crowd screaming for more, a packed house and a great performance, what more can you ask for.
The Devil Made Me Do It
Over The Edge
Kiss My Love Goodbye
The Flood’s The Fault Of The Rain
I Wanna Be Your Man
One More Reason
The Ballad Of Jayne
Rip And Tear
What a brilliant way to finish the opening night of a Sleaze Rock Festival, the Guns on top form first note to last, every band not only putting in 100% while on stage but loving it and plenty of interaction with the audience both while on stage and when around the venue. Roll on Day 2, but we already know this is going to be a great weekend.
Review: Roxanne – Radio Silence
Rat Pak Records (October 26th 2018)
Reviewer: Dan Mann
We’ve only had to wait 30 years for the release of ‘Radio Silence‘, Roxanne‘s sophomore album. Was it worth the wait you ask? Before I get to that let’s just delve back in time. Roxanne released their self titled album back in 1988, which is when I first stumbled across the band and have loved that album ever since.
Imagine my surprise when Rat Pak Records announced a follow up album. I certainly wasn’t the only person who wanted to know more and was eager to hear whether the band still had that ‘something’ that first drew us to become fans.
Well folks, the good news is……….you ain’t going to be disappointed!
What those Roxanne fellas have managed to do is record an album that is a natural follow up to the debut without sounding dated. Now that’s certainly not an easy feat.
From the first few bars of ‘Someone To Kill‘ it’s obvious that ‘Radio Silence‘ is going to be a bit of a corker. All the elements are there, vocalist Jamie Brown‘s voice is still bang on the money, the band sounding tight as hell and your hand quickly reaches for the volume to crank it up!
From the slightly funked up ‘Super Bad‘ to the laid back ‘Broken Chandeliers‘ the album keeps on delivering. I absolutely love ‘Go Fuck Yourself‘, with it’s catchy chorus and riffs.
I must mention the cover version included in the album’s eleven tracks. On the debut we were treated to the superb cover of Wild Cherry‘s ‘Play That Funky Music‘. On ‘Radio Silence‘ we have a great cover version of The Scream‘s ‘Man In The Moon‘, a track I’ve always l liked and Roxanne‘s version isn’t a disappointment.
If you liked Roxanne‘s debut album then you will absolutely love ‘Radio Silence‘. How much do I like it personally? Well it’s certainly a contender for my Top 10 of 2018 list, that’s how much!
Review: Ben Poole – Anytime You Need Me
Manhaton Records (Sept 2018)
Reviewer: Dan Mann
Ben Poole returns with his third album release ‘Anytime You Need Me‘, an album that helps build his standing in the blues rock community as his career continues to grow.
I think there’s one thing this album epitomizes, it’s the continuing trend to release albums that don’t conform to the over regimented definition of what blues music should be.
What you end up getting are releases that are like a breath of fresh air, pulling in influences from other genres and with it new audiences.
With ‘Anytime You Need Me‘, Ben has introduced elements of funk, 70’s rock and even a little soul. The album is a little more adventurous then previous releases.
‘Take It No More‘ would be nearer the traditional blues rock track which has elements of King King, which is hardly a surprise with aforementioned band’s Wayne Proctor at the production helm.
While ‘Found Out The Hard Way‘ wouldn’t be out of place on a Mitch Laddie album.
But I found ‘You Could Say‘ a bit too poppy for my palette with Ben’s vocals taking on a high pitch Jonny Lange vibe.
It has to be said the two covers on the album are interesting choices, Don Henley’s ‘Dirty Laundry‘, a track I’ve always loved and Jude Cole’s ‘Start The Car‘. However they work really well and releasing ‘Dirty Laundry‘ as a single will certainly help raise interest from other quarters.
While not every track is to my liking, I think live it will be an entirely different matter and with a heavier live sound they will fill out nicely.
‘Anytime You Need Me‘ is an album, which along with other current British musicians releases, helps cement the UK as one of the top blues & blues rock territories in the World.
Review: REƎCE – Resilient Heart
Mighty Music (November 2018)
Reviewer: Dan Mann
There are some albums which are highly anticipated, and for me ‘Resilient Heart‘ is one of them.
Take the vocal talents of singer David Reece, who I first came across as front man for American hard rock band Bangalore Choir and vocalist on Accept‘s ‘Eat The Heat‘ album, add a guitarist whose playing I highly regard, namely Martin J Anderson, who I first heard playing in his blues rock band Blindstone. Finish off with guitarist Marco Angioni, bandmate of Martin’s in Danish heavy metal band Meridian, bassist Malte Frederik Burkert from David’s other band Sainted Sinners and drummer Sigurd J. Jensen also from Blindstone.
The result….a mature hard rock album!
From the opening bars of the first track, ‘Any Time At All‘, you know your in for a bit of a musical treat. This is a band tighter than an elastic band wound three times round a pencil. David Reece’s vocals sound as good as they did 25 years ago and yes I’ll bring up the old chestnut I always do, if I don’t like the vocals then I won’t like the album!
With eleven tracks on the album, none of which in my opinion a ‘filler’, choosing a favorite is bloody difficult. However, for me there is one track that stands out both in vocal performance and musicianship, and that’s ‘Forest Through The Trees‘. This is without doubt a monster track!
For those of you familiar with David’s work and indeed the catalogue of the other musicians involved, then ‘Resilient Heart‘ is probably already on your ‘to order’ list. If your not and it’s not……then don’t hesitate and pre-order it now, you won’t be disappointed.
RHR Redfern Hutchinson & Ross have released a promo video for their upcoming album ‘Mahogany Drift‘.
The band will be commencing a UK Tour next month.
Review: The Radio Sun – Beautiful Strange
Pride & Joy Records (August 24th 2018)
Reviewer: Stephen Brophy
Australia’s The Radio Sun are one of the new breed that harks back to older times, releasing on average one album every year continually giving their fans what they crave. The latest offering ‘Beautiful Strange‘ falls under the same style as their other releases, with those wonderful melodic harmonies once again standing out.
The twelve tracks on offer this time around are once again top class, there are a number of songs that get in your head like a musical worm burrowing through the cortex and just not letting go. There is something a little special about the mixture of melodic rock with some crunching riffs, songs by The Radio Sun always seem to be uplifting, no matter what the subject matter, it really is a rare talent.
Having really let this one sink in over a period of time it’s grown the more I’ve spun it, some tracks that didn’t hit me immediately are now firm favourites. Despite the fact they the band are releasing an album every 12 months or so they are still managing to sound fresh on each release, perhaps that is helped by the style of music these guys play.
Highlights on this one for me are the opener ‘Hold On Tight‘ that just kicks things off so well, a great blend of power and subtlety, ‘Out Of This World‘ is another cracking track again not quite being a ballad, but having a slightly slower tempo and then just take a listen to the crunchy riff on ‘Hearts On Fire‘ which is a song that keeps dragging me back to it, half way through the song you thing it’s settling down for break and then Steve Janevski kicks things up a notch or two with a soaring solo, once again the guitar playing and general tightness of this band is a joy.
There is something about this band sets the World right when you listen to them, it’s not all about the harmonies, but damn they are sweet. The Radio Sun continue to create high quality output, this is once again an excellent release from the band. Can’t wait to hear some more of these tracks live when the band hit the UK next March, get out and enjoy a fun night out with some awesome music.