Tag Archives: review

Review: KXM – Scatterbrain

KXM - Scatterbrain

Review: KXM – Scatterbrain

Rat Pak Records (March 2017)

Reviewer: David Mark Pearce

KXM – ‘Scatterbrain‘ The second album, the often called “difficult” second album ….. well, it might be for some bands out there – but not for messrs Lynch, Pinnock and Luzier!

Will you hear the same tribal intensity as the first album? – YUP.

Will you hear the same amount of Lynch riffage? – YUP.

And will you hear a band that’s taken what it had on the first outing, put it back in the blender and added some other secret ingredients? – then, simply, yes and more!

I would say the lads have spread their experimental wings even further, but their sound is still very much at the heart of this album. It’s a band which isn’t constrained by some big shot producer saying they should do this or that. As they openly admit, they just get together and, over a short amount of time, days in fact, jam it out until they’ve got their songs together and then record and refine – y’know the way bands used to do it!

Hell, there’s even a kinda soft reggae influence on one of the songs, so that shows how experimental this band is, but don’t let that put you off as the song in question features a searing solo from Lynch. Like I said, there are a few other ingredients in that old Rock ‘n’ Roll blender for y’all! It’s a pleasure to listen to this album, let alone review it. Three musicians who have been at the top of their game for years and still are. Long may it continue!

How about a tour lads?


Review: My Dynamite – Otherside

My Dynamite - Otherside

Review: My Dynamite – Otherside

Listenable Records 2017

Reviewer: Dan Mann

My Dynamite are back, 5 years after their self title debut album, with a brand spanking new release entitled ‘Otherside‘.

If your familiar with the band then you already know exactly what to expect. For the rest of you, prepare to be hit from the off with swathes of the Black Crows, mingled with British 70’s rock/blues eg The Faces, Rolling Stones etc.

I for one am really liking this 70’s rock revisited trend of a lot of bands over the last couple of years. No it’s not all a nostalgia trip as bands such as My Dynamite manage to put their own signature to it.

There are also country undertones with the likes of ‘Can’t Tell Lies‘ and ‘So Familiar‘ which isn’t really my thing, but done very well never the less.

What is my cup of tea are tracks like ‘Round the Bend‘, ‘Witch Hat‘ and ‘Motortalkin’‘. If they don’t get your foot stompin’ and give you a feel good injection then you must be emotionless!

The ballad ending ‘Don’t Steel The Light‘ rounds off the album perfectly with some great acoustic guitar and melancholy vocals.

Overall the album is very pleasing to the ear but for me the country tones creeping in muddy the band’s identity somewhat style wise. However, this is still an album worth checking out.


Review: Jim Jidhed – Push On Through

Jim Jidhed – Push On Through

Review: Jim Jidhed Push On Through

AOR Heaven (January 2017)

Reviewer: Stephen Brophy

There are lots of great singers out there on this planet, but there’s definitely some that are just on a different level, Jim Jidhed is definitely one of those. Lead singer of Swedish band Alien, his voice is just like velvet rolling through your ears.

This is Jim’s 6th Solo album and musically the sound is a bit different from the previous releases, this time it’s a little more Rock, a little bit of a harder edge on tracks like ‘Love Was Waiting‘ but it’s still very much an AOR/Melodic Rock record with signature Ballads that are just terrific.

The highlight of this has to be ‘The First Time‘, such a well crafted song, more of a classic AOR track, but just absolutely top notch, Jim delivers, as everywhere else, a confident, smooth and always classy vocal, with the assembled crew adding to the song with some great playing, almost reminiscent in places of a John Waite style of song it just rolls along, with the guitars held just short of exploding into screaming solos, great stuff, not the loudest track on the album, not the brashest, but it’s just got that something a little extra to it.

The tracks like the raucous ‘If We Call It Love‘, which is a cracking rocker and can see this one being very popular live and the beautiful ballad ‘Too Many Words‘ are also all excellent, along with the title track ‘Push On Through‘, I can imagine that the album took some time to put together, and it was worth it, looks like a lot of attention to detail went into the process from putting the songs together to mixing everything, great work all around..

With the likes of Ken Sandin (Alien) on Bass, Michael Palace (Palace) and Philip Lindstrand on Guitar being welcome additions to the creation of this album, not only excellent musicians, but people that know and understand Jim’s music it all helps to create a great package. With the albums producer also looking after Drum duties, Daniel Flores has done a terrific job of both, it’s generally the guitar sound throughout that makes it a little bit outside the AOR standard, but the leanings are still correctly there, it would have been a mistake to make the music any heavier and the blend with Jim’s voice wouldn’t have worked as well as it does, a lot of care has been taken here. While we await a new Alien album don’t overlook this little gem, Jim is on top form, as always and there’s some excellent tracks on this one.

Let’s hope that Jim gets out to do some solo shows around Europe to promote this album, would love to hear these songs live and would be a travesty if they weren’t aired to a wider audience, that’s how good this one is, what a great start to 2017, another bloody cracking album, worth everyone’s attention.

 


Review: Michael Katon – Ror’ Outta Hell

ror-outta-hell

Review: Michael Katon – Ror’ Outta Hell

SunHair Music (February 2017)

Reviewer: Dan Mann

As someone whose been a fan of Mr Katon for quite a few years, enjoying his albums and live sets, I was more then a little interested when Michael first mentioned that he was working on a Rory Gallagher tribute album.

There’s not much that needs to be said regarding the legendary Irish guitarist, and I was sure that Michael would produce a worthy tribute to the great man.

Well having now had the chance to listen to the finished product I can very quickly sum it up as yes it is indeed a worthy tribute.

It has been without doubt a labour of love for Michael, something he’s been working on for quite some time. No doubt Michael Katon fans will buy this album regardless, but this is an album that will please Rory Gallagher fans and blues rock fans alike.

The album consists of ten tracks, coming in a tad under an hour in length. It kicks off with ‘Let Me In‘ from the 1975 release Against The Grain and proceeds to cover the cream of Rory’s musical output.

I’m particularly delighted that Michael has included ‘Mississippi Sheiks‘ and I’ll be honest and say with Michael’s trademark gruff vocals it somehow enhances the track.

So to sum up once again……..thoroughly enjoyable, an album that needs to be added to your blues rock collection.


Review – White Widdow – Silhouette

white-widdow-silhoulette

Review – White Widdow – Silhouette

AOR Heaven (Nov 2016)

Reviewer: Stephen Brophy

The band is still being led by the Millis brothers, Xavier (Keyboards) and Jules (Vocals), alongside the always impressive Enzo Almanzi (Guitar), and the ever so solid rhythm section of Ben Webster (Bass) and Noel Tenny (Drums), it’s a band I’ve always really liked, the last album Crossfire was excellent so high expectations for this latest release. Ten tracks of pure Melodic Rock goodness here, with some really terrific tracks, in particular ‘Game Of Love‘ that gets you moving and has a nice pace to it, what might seem like a pretty straight forward track in ‘Surrender My Heart‘ but it’s got a great balance to it and a slightly deeper and darker ballad in ‘Damage Done‘ which has a bit of a different feel to it to the rest of the album, but it still fits really well here.

This band has definitely hit their stride with this lineup, the songs on this album will definitely come alive when the band hit a stage, there is, as with Crossfire lots of guitar solos, some fiery playing, but it never overpowers the rest of the playing here, as always the keyboards are as much in the mix and sound great.

One thing on the version of the album I have been listening to that I just can’t seem to get past is a Mobile Phone vibrating on track ‘Waited‘ which is a bloody good track, but sitting on a bus I think it’s a phone someone has left on and ignored and it just shouldn’t be there, I try to ignore it, but now every time I play the track subliminally you just wait to hear that and it detracts from the song, which has a great hook and some terrific guitar work. Really hoping it isn’t on the final release and it got picked up by someone, but 12 seconds of annoying buzzing takes a bit from the song, that’s for sure.

Overall it’s another really good Melodic Rock album, well written and performed, these guys have a formula of their own that just seems to work really well, balance maybe a little bit on the slower side on this release, but it still works very well. Hopefully they will make their way back over to the UK soon to give these new tracks an airing in a live setting.


Review: Overland – Contagious

Contagious

Review: Overland – Contagious

Escape Music (Oct 2016)

Reviewer: Peter Scallan

Steve Overland needs no introduction to fans of melodic rock and/or AOR. As the voice of FM, I have waxed lyrical about his voice and for me he is The Man. He could sing the Yellow Pages and make it sound great. His soulful, bluesy yet melodic voice is just awesome and I have often wondered how he never ended in one of the non-Paul Rodgers line-ups of Bad Company, especially as Simon Kirke was in Wildfire and instrumental in getting them signed to Swan Song records. But enough brown-nosing and waxing lyrical, let’s get down to the album.

The album opener ‘Doctor My Heart‘ just plays up to The Man’s soulful side. With a great soulful verse the chorus is lifted by a great melody and that voice. There is also some pretty soulful guitar playing going on too from Tommy Denander. ‘Easy On Me‘ opens with almost dance-style keyboards before the guitars crash in and drive the verse to a very FM-esque bridge and chorus. The song breaks down in the middle with another neat guitar licks and then lifts for the solo proper. Great stuff! Next is ‘Edge of the Universe‘ with a Hammond organ intro before it stomps through a verse reminiscent of Joe Lyn Turner era Rainbow before the killer chorus kicks in. We head back to the blues for ‘Every Lonely Night‘ which smoulders through the verses and of course the inevitable killer chorus. There is also a lush breakdown for the solo which then builds nicely back into the chorus. ‘Wildest Dreams‘ continues the soulful/bluesy feel even though it opens up with a vocoder intro. It is reminiscent of Michael Bolton a la the Hunger in terms of feel and sound. The pace is picked up with ‘Intoxicated‘ which is a guitar-driven rocker with a great opening guitar salvo. It has an almost Streets feel and could comfortably sit on any of the two Streets albums. Admittedly The Man has worked with Mike Slammer on a number of projects so inevitably there has been some influence and it sounds great.

We then have a real slow-burning blues number in the shape of ‘Define Our Love‘. The Man croons with the best over this and then pours his heart out in the chorus. The song has a great expansive feel which allows the vocals to shine. ‘Pocketful of Dreams‘ is a stomping rocker that could easily sit on the last two FM albums. The Man rocks while maintaining that lush tone and feel but just that little bit harder. Next up we have bouncing bluesy number in the shape of ‘Making Miracles‘. With anybody else singing this it might be likely to be average at best but The Man lifts it from the average to the absolutely lush. ‘Back Where I Belong‘ has a fast and furious opening which is again reminiscent of Rainbow as is the chorus for me. A pacey stomper providing some variety to the album and while it works well, is the weakest song on the album for me. And so to album closer ‘Unforgiven World. This is another pacey melodic rocker which has a Streets feel to it. It really motors along and provides a fitting closing to the album.

As you probably have gathered I like this album – I like it a lot! Admittedly I may be a little biased having loved this guy’s voice since I saw him with Wildfire back in the early 80s, supporting MSG if I recall correctly. Therefore, I may be a little biased. However, along with The Man’s voice there is some superb guitar playing from Tommy Denander and some really superb songs. The production is also pretty strong and unlike a lot of albums produced by the Swedish AOR Mafia, it complements the songs and vocals nicely and doesn’t sound generic like so many other albums are these days. So hats off to the production team for the mix! This fills the gap nicely until the next FM album – when is that then Mr Overland?


Review: Love/Hate – Before The Blackout

love-hate-before-the-blackout

Review: Love/Hate – Before The Blackout

AorBlvd Records  (Oct 2016)

Reviewer: Peter Scallan

Love/Hate were one of those bands that appeared in the early 90s and gathered critical acclaim for their albums. Despite the heavy MTV rotation they failed to translate the critical acclaim into sales and were subsequently dropped by Columbia. They did carry on and have done six albums in total, although I am only familiar with the first three albums, which I loved. This collection as the name indicates is material recorded before the debut album of Blackout in the Redroom. These are mainly demos recorded in 1986-87.

First up is ‘Date With Fate‘ which sounds nothing like Love/Hate especially with regards Jizzy Pearl’s vocals, which take on Ian Astbury goth feel! In fact The Cult comparison also holds for the song sounding like it could be on Love and is not the most inspiring start to an album. ‘Extreme‘ opens up sounding even more like The Cult although the Jizzy voice I knew and loved starts to emerge. Next up is one of the songs that made it on to the second album Wasted in America. We are treated to an insight into how this song started as ‘Tranquiliser‘ emerges in a goth rock version. I loved this song on Wasted in America and it really rocks in its final version. ‘I’ve Got To Dream‘ falls back into the goth rock mode and for me sounds like it could be any one of a number of 80s UK bands such as The Sisters of Mercy – although not as good! In fact, its woeful! The subsequent song ‘Good Ship Dolly Rock‘ is still gothic but from this songs you can see the emergence of the sound that eventually got signed. Laden with keyboards, yeah that’s right – keyboards, it plods along a little uninspired. ‘Reincarnated‘ returns to the familiar Cult sound of the earlier songs and that UK 80s goth vocal style. Thankfully, it lasts less than three minutes.

‘Skid Row Gypsy‘ is the start of the material which is more recognisably Love/Hate. It’s a slow moving number with a mix of acoustic and electric guitars and Jizzy starting to sound like Jizzy! However, in the next number ‘Recognised, Jizzy sounds like he is impersonating Dick Van Dyke in places with his dodgy cockney accent. It also steps back to a more gothic sound but is relatively interesting, dance-style track with the funky bass and drums. Next we do get to here the real early Love/Hate with ‘Soul House‘ which is a bluesy rocker with Jizzy raising the stakes with the vocals at last. The emergence continues with ‘The Outside‘ with the funky bass and heavy guitar, although it does have some keyboards. In fact the keyboards make it sound a little Judas Priest a la Turbo. ‘Gypsy Love‘ sounds like it could have been a demo for Blackout in the Redroom although a little tame compared with the Ferociousness of that album. The next song ‘My Girl‘ has some great keyboards but the song sounds like it was written as a single and is pretty cool – in fact it sounds a little like Loverboy and consequently nothing like Love/Hate. We then are treated to the embryonic classic Love/Hate sound in ‘Love Burns‘. Musically and lyrically this is classic Love/Hate and starts and rocks along on a funky rhythm before changing into a driving chorus rhythm. We then have ‘Angel‘ which a demo of the track She’s An Angel from the Blackout album. Apart from the intro the song structurally is similar to that which eventually appeared on the album. The closing song is a classic Love/Hate number namely ‘Why Do You Think They Call It Dope?‘ With keyboards! Again it sticks structurally to the arrangement from the Blackout album and I quite like the keyboard parts. It isn’t quite as ferocious as the album version but good none the less.

What do I think of this album then, do I hear you say? Well there is some really interesting stuff on here mixed with some real duffers. But in its defence, these kinds of albums are not trying to go platinum but trying to provide a historical perspective on a given artist’s development. In that respect it fills the brief perfectly and therefore will appeal to real hard core Love/Hate fans. However, if you buy expecting a Blackout-style prequel, you will be sorely disappointed!


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