Super Atomic

Review: Kickin’ Valentina – Super Atomic

Highway 9 Records (2015)

Reviewer: Aaron Chatfield

First time I heard the name Kickin Valentina was when they were announced as part of the line up for the Rockerz Go Wild gig that acts as an unofficial pre-cruise party to the infamous Monsters of Rock Cruise, however, I have never really taken the time to listen to their music, so I was looking forward to my first taste.

Super Atomic is a 7 track EP (6 really, as the opener ‘Sermon’ is just a spoken word intro), and is the band’s second release. If you are a fan of loud, dirty & gritty Rawk n f**k n Roll, then this may be your bag. ‘On My Side’ launches itself from the speakers on the back of a driving drums and a chugging guitar riff, before vocalist Joe Edwards makes his presence felt. He’s got the type of pipes that are unique to rock, the right mix of sawdust and motor oil. It’s a great start and if I owned a Dodge Charger, I’d want this to blast when I turned the key!

Wrong Way’ and ‘When You’re Gone’ continue the assault. Straight ahead rockerz that remind me in parts of bands like Junkyard and Little Caesar, with a little Salty Dog and Sea Hags in parts. The music is pretty straight forward, but the songs are well crafted for the genre. The album closes with ‘Fist n Twist’, ‘Some Kind of Atomic Poster Boy’ and ‘Some Kind of Sex’, none of which is going to see KV at the top of the charts, but will keep any beer fueled party going until the morning.

Overall, I like this band, four on the floor, V8, nitro fuelled, rock n roll which will get you playing air guitar and downing your beer in a heartbeat. If you are after lush keyboards, 4 octave vocals and soaring guitar leads, then keep walking, if you are in the mood for a party (preferably outside, by a pool, with burgers and ribs on the BBQ), then you could do far worse!

 

Supernova

Review: Joe Satriani – Shockwave Supernova

Sony Music Cmg (2015)

Reviewer: Dan Mann

 

The sun is shining, the birds are singing and the speakers are most certainly cranked to eleven! This can only mean one thing, a new Joe Satriani album.

Yes Satch is back  with his 15th solo studio album and there is no mistaking who it is from the off.  First in we have the title track ‘Shockwave Supernova‘ which is just pure Satriani. A huge sound-stage and all enveloping, it most certainly gets those speaker cones shifting some air!

What’s great is the differing styles on this album, from ‘Crazy Joe‘ which wouldn’t be out of place on an Ozric Tentacles album, to the wonderful ‘San Francisco Blue‘ which has a nice twist on a traditional blues song. Songs like ‘All My Life‘ are perfect for just chilling out and letting the day’s angst just float away.

The production on this album is fabulous, but it’s no real surprise with long time cohort John Cuniberti once again taking charge. Recorded at none other than Skywalker Sound, which fits in rather nicely with Joe’s love of scifi, it clearly shows how it should be done with all the instruments, be it guitar (obviously) keyboards, bass, drums, clearly heard and not muddied into the mix.

This is obviously an album for existing fans, but it is one that nicely introduces new fans to the wonderful world of Satch!

Do not miss Joe Satriani on tour this November in the UK, with special guest Dan Patlansky. Tickets available here.

ELEFANTE

Review: Bullet Boys – Elefante 

Cleopatra/Rexel (2015)

Reviewer: Phil Schofield

It’s been a six year hiatus since we last heard from the darlings of the LA strip The Bullet Boys.

Back in 88 Warner Brother launched the debut with promise of greater times ahead. However with the imminent “grunge Godzilla” laying just around the corner a lot of those new proclaimed kings of sleaze were simply chewed up & spat out.

In Marq Torien we have a troubadour journeyman with a smoky vocal style and range that should on paper have other bigger artists clambering for his signature.

Elefante is not simply an attempt at 80’s rehash, so says the PR and agreed they have gone for a discernible change of style and direction in parts. But as the saying goes, why try to fix what isn’t broken.

There’s a whole plethora of similar sounding rock albums out in 2015 all fighting hard to capture our ears,  so it’s tough enough to see if this one has stamina for the journey.

Out of the blocks comes opener ‘Rollover’ with a pounding bass line and Slash sounding vibe, nice and appealing to the heavier crossover market.

‘Tsunami’ has a more modern edge and flavour, whilst ‘Symphony’ has been around as the single prior to the album release. Indeed the latter I could see as a chant along for the hardcore BB fans. A slow burner that builds and the catchiest song for me here.

‘The Villain’ & ‘Kin Folk’ are mid paced offerings whilst ‘Saving You from Me’ & ‘As Dumb As’ have an ironic grunge vocal drift into Foo Fighters territory.

Album favourite is ‘Superhuman Girl’, this could easily take us back to those Hollywood sleaze ridden days & Marq shows he still has that rasping bourbon attack.

‘Drop your Weapon’ offers some catchy guitar phasing moving into the territory of an album cover version. Here we find Elton John’s ‘The Bitch Is Back’ which has a new rock cover twist but I do recall being covered also by Lita Ford a while back.

On the whole Elefante will appease those bullet hungry hoards to play this platter again & with upcoming gigs lined up a few well chosen tracks could make the playlist.

They say elephants never forget but boy is my memory is fading?

White Bird/Burn The Sky

Review: Palace Of The King – White Bird/Burn The Sky

Listenable Records (2015)

Reviewer: Dan Mann

I’ll be honest and say I’ve been eagerly awaiting this album after hearing the first single. And am I disappointed? Nope, far from it.

What your presented with is 10 tracks worth of absolutely solid rock with elements of blues, rock ‘n roll and a hint of good old Sixties psychedelia!

From the opening riff of ‘Take Your Medicine‘ I knew I was going to like this, just so up my street taste wise.

The pace does not slacken, as we zip through ‘No Chance In Hell‘ and onto the funk infused ‘Another Thing Coming‘, absolute killer track!

Burn My Bridges‘ has waves of 70’s soaked keyboards, building into an atmospheric, multilayered treat.

And so we reach the two longest tracks on the album at just over six minutes each. I’m rather enjoying bands ‘bringing back’ tracks of shall we say an extended length as it allows the song to grow & breath if that makes any sense? We first have ‘White Bird (Bring Your Armies Against Me)‘ which has a really catchy riff and once again brings that Sixties vibe to the forefront. This is followed by ‘Ain’t Got Nobody To Blame But Myself‘ a slow builder very much in the vein of Rival Sons with a terrific guitar solo which had me reaching for the volume knob and cranking it up!

Leave Me Behind‘ has a great brass/horn inclusion which helps bring this track alive without sounding old fashioned in the slightest. The organ sound at the start of ‘Devil’s Daughter‘ instantly reminds you of the Blues Brothers, and it leads you into a real foot tapper. And my foot does not stop tapping as ‘Get Back Up (Burn The Sky)‘ comes pumping through the speakers. Reminiscent of the Black Crows.

And now unfortunately we reach the final track of the album. Not unfortunately as in ‘If It Ain’t Broke‘ is crap, far from it. It’s just a real shame the album is over as I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it.

To summarize, if your a fan of Rival Sons, Black Crows or just good honest rock with a soul, then this album is for you.

The Troy Redfern Band\Backdoor Hoodoo

Review: The Troy Redfern Band – Backdoor Hoodoo

Blues Boulevard (2015)

Reviewer: Dan Mann

To my eternal shame I wasn’t aware of Troy until I saw him as support to Skinny Molly at the Beaverwood Club.  And mightily impressed I was too.

So when I heard that there was a new album coming out, I had to take a listen to it. What you get with Backdoor Hoodoo is a mix of slide guitar, blues & blues rock. From the first notes of ‘It Stacks‘ you realise that your in for something a bit special. ‘The Other Side‘ has almost a rockabilly feel to it with a frantic pace throughout, then you slow down for ‘Salvation‘ which is one of my favorites on the album, think elements of Clapton’s ‘Rush” soundtrack coupled with Troy’s unique vocal which disguises his roots of the Welsh Borders, rather than the Deep South of the United States.

Once again the pace picks up with ‘Wildfire‘ which gives you a mental picture of someone at the back strumming away at a double bass coupled with some incredibly tight drumming by Alex Bridge. The blues rock element of the album is clearly illustrated in ‘What Goes Around‘. Settling back listening to ‘War Cry‘ you realise that Troy’s guitar playing is so expressive and controlled. Want more slide guitar? Well you’ve certainly got it on the title track. ‘Backdoor Hoodoo‘ is just the sort of dirty blues rock I love. ‘Lamb Of Zion‘ is a very short track at a tad over two minutes long ,but it’s just Troy and his guitar exposed so you can here every pluck of the strings. You could easily imagine him sitting on that porch watching the world go by. Now there’s absolutly nothing wrong with ‘Back Home‘ but for some reason I can’t quite put my finger on it’s not grabbing me as much as the other tracks. Maybe it’s going to be one of those tracks that grows on me til I realise I’ve got it wrong.

I found the mix on ‘Running With Ghosts‘ just a bit cluttered for my tastes, which leads onto the longest track on the album, ‘Survive‘. At just over eight minutes long it has to be something special to keep the listener hooked and hooked you’ll certainly be, with the rhythm section of the previously mentioned Alex Bridge on drums and Stuart McDonald on bass keeping everything so tight and beautifully paced, you can just allow yourself to be enveloped in what is a superb piece of guitar playing which more than puts Troy in the same league as the likes of Bonamassa & Co.

Two tracks left, ‘Cold Day In Hell‘ which has an almost modern feel to it and ‘This Raging Heart‘ which has quite an unusual intro leading into a track which probebly won’t appeal to blues purists. Personally I found it refreshing and enjoyable.

To sum up, Troy Redfern has dragged slide guitar into the 21st century and is bound to appeal to more than just blues aficionados. If you get the chance to catch him live then don’t waste it.

 

The Burning Crows - Murder At The Gin House

Burning Crows – Murder At The Gin Palace

Burning Crows Records (2015)

Reviewer: Dan Mann

It’s a welcome return from The Burning Crows, with a brand new album ‘Murder At The Gin Palace‘. After a second extremely successful PledgeMusic campaign, the band were able to re-enter the studio under the watchful eyes of Nick Brine.

If your familiar with the band’s previous releases then there are no real surprises, but don’t take this as a negative, far from it as the band once again deliver a mighty slice of British Hard Rock with a smidgen of sleaze.

Kicking off with ‘Hell To Pay‘ and after a subtle intro your then hit with a very catchy riff and the unmistakable vocal talents of Whippz. As I’ve said on many an occasion, the vocalist is so much the key to any album and this particular gentleman’s slightly gruff style certainly works for me.

The next two tracks ‘Come On‘ and ‘Shine‘ follow in a very similar vein, both with catchy choruses. Then we come to what’s my favorite track on the album ‘Alright‘. I’m sure some reviewers could wax lyrically as to why a particular track appeals to them. Dunno why I like it so much, but it works for me.

Goodbye (To The Sunshine)‘ slows matters down a bit, a track I could see appealing to Quireboys fans. ‘1137‘ is an extremely catchy little number, a real foot tapper and very enjoyable. Guitarist Lance Daniels certainly displays some entertaining playing on ‘Little Bit More‘ which is maybe my second favorite track off the album.

She’s The Summertime‘ reminds me a little of Georgia Satellites. It has that kind of a feel to it. Revving things up we dive into ‘Feels Like Home‘ which I actually find the vocals a little strained on. Maybe this is intentional, but on repeat plays I’ve tended to skip this song. And so we reach the final track of the album. ‘Holding On‘ is the perfect song to round things up with an almost mellow, melodic feel to it and kind of reminds me of Junkyard, if you remember them.

To summarize, most definitely an album for new & old fans alike.

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Graeme Cook©

Review: AC/DC

Stade De France, Paris (26 Mar 2015)

Reviewer: Peter Scallan

AC/DC and I go back a long way. My first gig was AC/DC at the Glasgow Apollo in 1979 on the Highway to Hell tour (especially mentioned for my photographer mate Graeme). And despite my AOR tendencies, this is the band that I hold closest to my heart. Therefore, with the trials (quite literally) and tribulations the band have went through in the last few years I was pretty apprehensive to say the least approaching this gig.

Not being familiar with the venue I arrived early and I am glad I did. Opening for AC/DC was Vintage Trouble who offer up a heady concoction of rock, blues and soul. They are a classic four piece fronted by Ty Taylor, who in my eyes is quite possibly the coolest guy in rock at the moment, and grabbed the crowd by the scruff of the neck and really got them moving. Much dancing and grooving was had while these guys ran through a repertoire that was very impressive. Decked out like he was fronting a big band in a red dinner jacket and with an old style mic, not only was Taylor a great singer he was a great front man and rally engaged what could have been a really partisan audience. Warmed us all up very nicely – my advice for the UK is get there early and check these guys out! And so to AC/DC!

The set opened with ‘Rock or Bust’ after a superb animated intro projected on the backdrop. And relax – it was business as usual and the guys didn’t miss a beat. Brian was strutting his stuff as well as any of his younger peers and possibly more than he has previously. ‘Shoot To Thrill’ quickly followed and the place was really rocking all over the joint. The band then dipped into the Bon era with ‘Hell Ain’t a Bad Place to Be’ and in my humble opinion Johnston handles this much better then he ever has. I don’t know if the band has tuned down a little but he sounded better on this than ever before. They then rolled out ‘Back in Black’ and the place erupted as you would expect.

Graeme Cook©

After a short breather in proceedings ‘Play Ball’ was cranked out and sounded     magnificent before ‘Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap’ got an airing with Angus and Brian interacting more than I have ever seen previously, and looking like they were having a ball. There was a little gap and strangely no audience interaction in between this and ‘Thunderstruck’ which was a little annoying and happened a couple of times. And the classics just kept coming and sounding superb! These included ‘High Voltage’, ‘Hells Bells’, ‘Shook Me All Night Long’, ‘Sin City’, ‘Shot Down in Flames’ and ‘Have a Drink On Me’ and some more recent material in the shape of Rock’n’Roll Train (but disappointingly with no train) and ‘Baptism By Fire’ from the new album. Getting into the closing straights of the set the band rocked through a stonking version of ‘TNT’ and then introducing us to a large lady by the name of ‘Rosie’, with a small section of the crowd shouting Malcolm, Malcolm instead of Angus (well me and my mates anyway!). The set ended with Let There Be Rock’ and Angus strutting his stuff and doing ‘the solo’ and bring the night to a suitable crescendo. But of course that wasn’t it – we were treated to ‘Highway to Hell’. At this point I looked around the stadium which must have had 60000-70000 people and it was amazing to see how many flashing horns were lighting up the darkness. Whoever came up with that particular idea should be on a huge bonus! The finale of course was ‘For Those About to Rock’ with cannons and all and just blew the place completely.

Graeme Cook©

So there you are reading this review and thinking, ‘huh, it is just the same old AC/DC stuff rolled out again’. And you know what? That is exactly the point! Sure, there were some subtle changes as clearly Brian has replace Malcolm as Angus’s partner in crime and this was obvious on stage as Brian seemed to share the spotlight more than usual with Angus. But there were families there with kids who were ten upto about fourteen and they were absolutely beside themselves at what they were seeing and hearing. All of us old gits forget that there are generations of AC/DC fans who might have never seen them live and that is why it so precious that it is the same old AC/DC. And if those kids left this evening with even half of the high I got back in 1979, then the effort these guys have made to roll out this tour is worth it. And me, well I was bouncing about like I was fourteen all over again with my mates. If I never see you again, it has been a pleasure and a privilege to have you as the soundtrack to my life. AC/DC – I salute you with all I can muster! And stuff the neigh sayers!

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Degreed – Dead But Not Forgotten

Sun Hill Productions (June 2015)

Reviewer: Peter Scallan

Although I am familiar with the band Degreed by name, I haven’t actually heard them, even though this is the band’s third album. The band is a four piece with guitar/keyboards/bass/drums with the bass player Robin Ericsson singing. Ericsson was a Swedish Idol finalist and founded the band in 2005. The album weighs in with a hefty 14 songs as the band felt they all merited inclusion.

‘The Scam’ is the first song and has instrumental section at the front end that makes it an obvious opening track. It is a pretty pacey melodic rocker with changes in pace and some rather neat guitar work also. Barely taking a breath the equally pacey opening of ‘Face the Fact’ kicks in. This breaks down into a half time verse before picking up the pace again for the chorus, which lacks a little in terms of the hook. ‘Madness’ is next up and again starts with a pacey opening before again breaking down into a half-time beat for the verses which build through the bridges to the chorus, which this time has a great hook line. Seems like a bit of a pattern developing here, but Shame On Me breaks this by having a keyboard intro which sounds like it could have been on a ‘Mr Mister’ album from the 80’s before picking up for the chorus. It also has an almost grungy middle eight followed by some Yngie –esque guitar playing.

A little more variation is introduced with ‘Better Safe Than Sorry’ which sounds Def Leppardish in places and is one of the strongest songs on the album with a great hookline. ‘Love Me, Love Me Not’ is about as close as the band get to a ballad before the chorus kicks in. ‘Drama’ is the album approaching the half-way mark and is easily the weakest song on the album for me and kind of feels like a filler.

The second half is launched by the strangely named ‘Kill Your Darlings’ which is more guitar-driven and clearly a little darker lyrically. I can see what the band are trying to do with this but the sound needs to be little harder and edgier to pull this type of song off. In complete contrast, this is followed by the poppy and catchy ‘Touch of Paradise’, which is excellent. However there are possibly too many woahos for my liking.

Forgive You’ re-establishes the pattern of fast opening and coming down into the verses before picking up the pace for the chorus – clearly the band like this structure and admittedly they do it well. However, it does make the album start sound a little ‘samey’. Next up is one of the best songs on the album, ‘Start Again’. This has light and shade without using the bands blueprint structure relying instead on good use of guitars and keyboards to provide it. It is also has a great chorus. ‘Firefly’ more or less follows the blueprint but is a great melodic rocker despite this. Penultimate track ‘Final Ride’ is a slight variation on the blueprint but is a little harder edged. Closing track ‘Turn Around Don’t Back Down’ is possibly the best song on the album for me and brings it to a suitable end.

Having given this album numerous listens I should really waxing lyrical about it. There are some great vocals, although I prefer Ericsson’s voice when he goes for it as opposed to the lighter stuff. There is also some great guitar playing. But there is just something missing for me. The songs all started to sound a little the same and do appear to follow a blueprint. That could be down to the fact that there are 14 songs on the album and it might have been better off being ten song album which may have reduced the feeling of ‘saminess’, as there is some variety in the songs. Don’t get me wrong, it is a pretty good album, but I just feel it could have been better in terms of the talent these clearly have. On that basis I will keep an eye out for the next album

I

Dennis Churchill Dries – ‘I’

AOR Heaven (2015)

Reviewer: Paul Nicholls

Once you have a successful interview in the can with an artist , it’s very easy to become gushing and lose your objectivity when asked to review the album that artist has on release. On this occasion I can happily say that not withstanding our interview , I wholeheartedly love this album .

From the opener ‘Heard It On The Radio‘ , a track with its feet firmly embedded in everything that made the 80’s radio rock essential listening when cruising around with the car windows open , your girl/boy friend at your side , Dennis leaves you in no doubt that this is no ‘Contractual Obligation‘ album . No , It is in fact a return to magnificent from for a man for whom tragedy has struck not once but twice , almost ending his career .

Track two , ‘I‘ lays Dennis’ heart bare , sung from the soul , it is a call to anyone that has ever doubted themselves in a world of peer pressure and approval.The song should be a rallying call to the uncertain , Believe in YOU .

Dennis’ voice is throughout in fine fettle , having lost none of its power and tone over the years , in fact the years have added a distinct amount of “Gravel” that puts me in mind of Jimmy Barnes . Yes , I really DID say that!

Ably assisted by Paul Sabu on Guitar and production , who after a few quite hard albums ( for which he has received a degree of flak) returns to this stereo sounding wonderful and the Paul Sabu who delighted us before , both tuneful and unpredictable in his soloing . A true partnership made in heaven? Quite possibly , as Paul’s guitar and Dennis’ voice complement each other so well , it’s an experience that both surprises and also reassures that Rock Music is NOT dead ( sorry Mr Simmons) .

Before I lead you to believe that this is an out and out rock album let me inform you that there are more different shades on offer here than a Dulux sample sheet .

From the thumping chest pounding ‘Unbroken’ to the heartfelt and touching ‘Pieces‘ ( played on piano , which I’m reliably informed is merely a touched up demo , yes it was THAT good), this album truly does have something for every rocker out there ( as long as you can appreciate finely crafted songs , played and sung to perfection) .

From the ashes of White Sister and Tattoo Rodeo comes a great album ‘I’ which Dennis himself sees as therapy for the past tragedies . If this is Therapy I’m going to patent it and retire on the proceeds .

Available now at all good outlets , you collection needs this album

The Four Elements

Marc Vandenberg – The Four Elements (EP)

2015

Reviewer: Peter Scallan

Marc Vanderberg is completely unknown to me and after having done some research, he is still unknown to me! The only thing I can tell you about who plays on this, apart from Vanderberg himself, is that Swedish vocalist Göran Edman (ex-Malmsteen/Norum) is featured on one song. Having said that, this guys has done a good job promoting himself and this four track EP and the fact that Malmsteen/Norum are his main influences in his guitar playing and songwriting.

The EP kicks off with ‘Corrosion of Society’ which starts with crashing guitars and then into a mid-paced rocker. Sounding a little like a Judas Priest out-take/demo, it does very little for me. The song does not really go anywhere and there is no real power in the vocals and overall fails miserably. Although I can hear the Malmsteen influence in some of the guitar playing! Next up is ‘Devil May Care’ (featuring the afore mentioned Edman) which opens with some twin lead guitars and then breaks down into a big guitar chop and then off it goes. It sounds like an eclectic collection of parts strung together and again doesn’t work. However, there is a reasonable hook line in the chorus. ‘Key To your Heart’ opens with some accapella vocals and provides me with some hope, for it to be dashed as the song gets into the verses. It is probably the best of the four songs on this EP and does have a reasonably catchy chorus. The final song on the EP is ‘Storm, Thunder and Lightning’. Unfortunately, it just plies the same fare as the previous three songs and just comes and goes. Pretty unremarkable really!

As I stated at the outset, I am not quite sure who Marc Vanderberg is so I have no context or background against which to review this piece of work. To my ears this sounds like a four track demo with the songs sounding unfinished. Coupled with the fact that there is no accompanying information, it all comes across as a little amateurish and home spun. Focus more of the energy into the songwriting instead of creating a profile would be my advice!