When I started this blog, now a little over 3 years ago, Magic Pie was among the first bands to get a feature here. So I am really happy to write about them again, as I believe this band is criminally underrated. But maybe that is just my misconception, and all you guys and girls already own this album?
Anyway, just in case some lines about why I like this band so much. Should you not be aware: this is a progressive rock band, and they frequently use the hammond organ (yummie!). Their songs will tick all the right boxes for any conservative member of the prog rock community and I still think they are a modern band and enrich their music with a lot of contemporary ideas. So you still have the epics, (A Life´s Work with 24 minutes and Tired with 15 minutes) the instrumental parts, solos, dynamics, and whatever we think necessary. But also fantastic vocal melodies, awesome harmonies, intricate arrangements and more exotic instruments like the flute. And all played with style and an awesome level of energy. And more musical ideas in one song than many can put in a whole album. And still without me ever getting a lost feeling.
So you bet I like this band and fully recommend them to all of you that are still reading. I mean, all the others already own this, or?
The progressive music scene in Italy is still very alive, and thanks to Fabrizio from Coral Riff management, I am able to present to you this band with the wonderful name Gran Turismo Veloce. Well, my Italian is not very good, but I think it is something about a speeding car. The album title loosely translates into The meat of the Animal, but again feel free to comment if you know this interpretation to be wrong.
But on to the music, which is what this is all about anyway. First song Sorgente Sonora has a great groove in 5/4. And another fine thing is the keyboards are mainly piano and accordeon. Gives the track a lot of breathing room. Next song Misera Venera is a very emotional song (even if the Italian language in my ears always has a certain drama to it) with outstanding delivery. Quantocamia is a surprise, opening with a heavy riff which is developed by the whole band, before it all breaks down into a very chilling atmospheric piece with great keyboards and a lyrical guitar solo. Wonderful!
So you may have noticed we´ve got something going on here. This proves to be an album that is easy to listen to, and still has a lot of variation, but that is of course a natural style ingredient. Don´t worry about the language, the music transcends the message. Fans of the genre, whether into the Italian style or not, should track this down.
To some, Rick Springfield will be most known for his acting career. Yet I bet most reading this blog are more familiar with his other, and to me more important, side, that of singer. And that is a long career, yet the guy seems to never age. Damn… And it is not that I am an avid follower of all the musical output of Rick. I just buy a record here or there. But as I had been reading a lot of good stuff about this 2012 album Songs For The End Of The World, I decided it was time to pick this one up. There are 4 versions available, which can be identified by the different front covers. Don´t know if they differ in songs as well.
What strikes me most about this album is its sheer energy! Springfield seems to be completely in touch with contemporary rock music and has delivered a vibrant CD that is just filled with great hooks and catchy melodies. I think every of the 12 songs could be a (hit) single. Which is something I frankly care little about as I don´t listen to radio anymore. But if I did, music like this would surely light my days!
So if you lost touch, this is a great album to get back into the groove with. Even if you are only vaguely curious about the guy, give this a try. It rocks and is just very tasty!
The Canadian band Mystery has graced these pages before and while it took them a few years to release this album, another release is already imminent, so as usual I am running late. But don´t let that stop you for checking out this one, as I think it will proof to be worth every dime you invest in it. That is, if you are into quality progressive rock.
Core of the band is again singer Benoit David (back from his fling with Yes) and Michel St-Pere (guitars and keyboards). Antoine Fafard is playing bass and Nick D`Virgilio has found another home after leaving the drum kit of Spock´s Beard behind. Together the quartet have recorded a massive album that is a showcase of everything that is to like about this type of music. It may be preaching for the converted (as I bet most self proclaimed haters of the style already skipped reading this), but Mystery are a band that proves that music in this genre cán be elaborate yet melodic and catchy. Interesting and complex and still strike an emotional chord. Rock hard or be gentle like a soft summer breeze. Well, you get the idea.
For me it is easy to listen to this all day and never get bored. Premium stuff, buy it!
While on the subject of more calm and peaceful music, here is another one for ya. Probably new to many, Riverland is the combination of singer Mikko Heino (Minutian, Montage) and Roni Seppänen (Tracedawn, Devil I Know, Montage) on guitars. But it is not new to them, as they have been playing folk festivals, coffee-houses and bars in Finland since 2008.
The idea of this album is the concept of people helping each other, taking care, and falling in love. And while the music was written by the duo, they brought in Aki Väkevä for the programming of drums and the mix of the final results.
Style wise this is a hybrid of sorts. Modern pop, some folk, and some progressive and psychedelia to balance it all. And if that sounds strange, the music is not. With 7 tracks clocking in at just over 21 minutes it might not be a full album by nowadays standards. But they surely succeeded in creating a very moody and atmospheric album. Surprisingly there are a lot of keyboards present as well, something not mentioned in the biography. All in all a nice way to get to know the band, and if you are into relaxing music, this is surely something to hunt down. Pleasant!
After a hectic period in his life, renowned Dutch bass player Peter van Straten (Street) decides to leave his life as a touring player with Nina Hagen, Herman Brood, Billy Preston and many others behind and leaves for the peace of the Sierra Nevada mountains. Together with Alex Ayuli he writes many songs there and after Gary Rafferty´s advice to record them himself he starts the Street & Stone recordings. With help from many trusted friends like Wouter Planteijdt (Sjako!) on guitar, Leon Klaasse on drums, Rene van Barneveld on acoustic guitar and pedal steel and Nico Brandsen on Wurlitzer and other keyboards 12 songs are recorded and now see the light of day in the form of this CD, called Turn.
I think anyone who is into the Beatles and their countless spin-offs will find much to like on this album. It has a wonderful organic sound and the songs are overall mainly calm and just plain beautiful. It takes a lot of confidence to play in this style and still sound authentic, and this one is executed to perfection. Lovely songs, heartfelt melodies and an album that is a joy to listen to from start to finish. Great stuff to chill out to! It has just become available and I recommend it to anyone that is into any of the names mentioned. Very pleasant and atmospheric!
Okay, if I say Australia and hard rock, what band comes up in your mind? I bet AC/DC will score high amongst the readers. And yes, here we have another Aussie band that takes at least some of their influence from those iconic predecessors. Add to that some Rose Tattoo, Black Sabbath and Queens Of The Stone Age and you will have a clue as to what to expect. This music is tailor made for biker parties or any other occasion where there is lots of beer and the crowd is in need of some music to go crazy on.
So nothing all too fancy, but straight and in your face good time swagger and attitude. Street smart, honest, pure and all guitars on 10. It seems the band have a clear view of how to achieve massive success. Work hard, build a solid fan base through energetic live shows and feed them with the records to match. And keep the tongue in cheek attitude alive as well, it is show business after all.
So if any of the bands mentioned tingles you appetite, you know what to do.
The now sadly gone UK label Now & Then has produced a lot of albums that I consider classics. One of those is this 1993 debut from USA outfit Shotgun Symphony. At the time they only released a couple of albums, but as they now have a website, maybe we can expect some more music from the guys. Which would be a good thing, as this is quite enjoyable.
On this disk we find 10 songs in the melodic rock vein. And all are classy. Produced by Ivan Gunn (Balance Of Power, etc.) this album is a prime example of how one can rise above the main playing field in a over crowded genre. First you need a singer with an identifiable voice who sings his melodies with ease. So bring in Tracy White, check. Then you need a solid rhythm section, that is not afraid to cross boundaries if the song benefits from it. So bring in Ron Sivulich Jnr on drums and Ed Avila on bass. Next is a keyboard player that can add rich textures, so welcome Charlie Calv. And last but not least, you need a guitar player that can riff, play massive chords, and still rips it up like the best of them, and Mike Maino does just that. Of course, many of the members sing backing vocals, we would not want it any other way right?
So add to this ten songs that put all these qualities to good use and you have achieved instant success. That is, if there was any justice in the world. As we all know, that is not the case, so far to few people actually are aware this album exists. Which is a crying shame that needs to be undone. So head on over to the website and start exploring! Or better, buy it to help inspire the band to give us more music…
With a band name like Trucker Diablo and an album titled Songs Of Iron, you leave little to the imagination of someone checking out the record stores. Especially when a tattooed girl in jeans is on the cover with a PA sticker. So if you guessed hard rock, you are right. This CD comes pretty hot on the heels of 2012 debut The Devil Rhythm, and I am happy to report that if anything, this is probably just a bit better in every department.
As 2012 saw the band play a string of live shows, it is no wonder playing is even more tight than before. And while still true to the sound of the first release, it just radiates even more energy and self belief. Which is a good thing. So again somewhere between Black Label Society and Thin Lizzy, this bunch has delivered another set of no frills hard rocking songs which will go down well with any crowd. Nice progress, and if they continue on this path, there is no doubt in my mind they will rise to claim their place in rock history. Expect the album in May 2013 and go see them on tour.