Tusmorke, Osloborgerlig Tusmorke, 2018

tusmorke - osloborgerlig tusmorkeApparently the Norwegians of folk/ psych/ rock band Tusmorke are working so hard, they can manage to release 3 albums in 12 months. Yet in reality this is not a regular studio album, but more or less a collection of demos and outtakes.

And truth be told, that is something that is noticeable a bit throughout the album. Some (vocal) parts are clearly not quite up to par.
Not that is necessarily a bad thing, especially not for their fanbase. Because their songwriting talent still shines through on this collection of songs. And they did give the subtitle some thought “Vardoger og utburder”. It seems vardoger is a kind of premonition, a feeling of knowing what will happen. And utborder are children carried out to the woods after birth. After which their cries haunt the night…

Anyway, despite their continued use of their native language, their music is surely enjoyable for people who like old Jethro Tull, King Crimson and the like. So expect instrumental passages, flute, hammond, and lots of dynamics.

Overall I liked this a whole lot more than their previous one.

Website

Oak, False Memory Archive, 2018

oak-false-memory-archiveI know some people think rock is dead. Or that the only good progressive rock music was released in the Seventies. Well I don’t think either of the 2 opinions are true, and releases like Oak’s False Memory Archive prove the point. At least for me.

Yes, the Norwegians of Oak are a progressive band of sorts. But of the non technical kind. Instead they choose to add electronica to their very melodic and melancholic music.  The result is breathtaking.
With emphasis on their spine tingling songs they have managed to deliver a genre crossing, and thus truly progressive, album. And deliver that with a sound that is clearly their own.
Every one of the 9 songs on the CD impresses me. Great hooks, based on keyboards and vocal melodies, and with the guitar adding colour instead of body. And underneath it grooves its way into your system. And just listen how the already awesome lead vocals are supported by clever harmony vocals!

There is no need to write a long piece about this album. This is one you have to check for yourself. Whether you are a dedicated music fan, or a more casual listener, this is a must hear. And since the quality of the songs is high throughout, you can just hit play. Yet if you do want to hear the album’s pinnacle, try the title track. Or Lost Causes. Or…

Website

Overhead, Haydenspark, 2018

overhead - haydensparkWow, over 6 years have passed already since I wrote about the magnificent Of Sun And Moon album from Finnish band Overhead. And now they return with album 5, Haydenspark.
If you are not yet familiar with the band (shame on you 🙂 ) they play an interesting and quite addictive combination of heavy rock with many progressive elements. Always melodic (the singing actually reminds me of Saigon Kick) and diverse in arrangement, as they do not shy away from more subtle atmospheres.

One of the many good things about their songs is that they always deliver great hooks. Their themes and melodies bring their music close. At least for me, when I play this, I have to listen with full attention.
So from opener Animation For The Poor Man to closer Gone Too Far, the guys again deliver an album that delivers on all accounts. Never a dull moment, some fantastic display of musicianship in the instrumental parts, and still it will always be about the song, and not about the technical abilities they have in abundance.

If this does not cement their place in progrock history, then I don’t know what will. Just have a listen to the title track and hear their homage to many greats from the scene like Pink Floyd, Jethro Tull and Rush, all in a song of their own. This band deserve to be big and sell out stadiums all across the world. Yes they are that good. Everyone that calls himself a progrock fan ought to own this. Simple as that.

Website

Eric McFadden, EMF Does AC/DC, 2018

eric mcfadden - emf does acdcWell if the title does not give it away, the subtitle will (Acoustic Tribute). Yes, Eric McFadden decided to record a full album (12 songs) of AC/DC covers, but give them the acoustic treatment.

So here is your chance to hear tracks like Hells Bells, You Shook Me All Night Long, Touch Too Much or Whole Lotta Rosie in a completely different setting. And you know what? It just proves that these are good songs!

McFadden not just covers the tracks, but makes them his own. So even when there are drums involved, the acoustic guitar and his brown voice deliver a fresh approach to tracks we all know.  And he did it properly, as much live as possible as well as honest, and not perfect.

So if you are a fan, like Eric obviously is, treat yourself to this collection!

Website

Baskery, Coyote & Sirens, 2018

baskery - coyote & sirensTalking about never judge a book, ehr CD by the cover. Don’t know about you, but when I put this CD in the player I was kinda expecting some sleazy garage type punk hardcore or something like that. Turns out this is anything but!

Reading up a bit, I found that this is a trio of sisters from Sweden that, on the promise of a record contract, moved to the US. After some ups and downs they did record an album worth of songs, but things got complicated once more. In the end they managed to get a large part of the songs of this album back in their hands and decided to release them themselves.

So now we are treated to the pop rock that is Baskery. Alas I do not know anything from the musicians, but at least my guess is that the sisters are singing. And they glue well together too. A song like Cactus Baby is a fine example of how they combine their vocal prowess with a pop rock backing.
It must be said, music like this ought to be heard by many more people. This sounds like real people making real music. And making it sound “commercial” without adding way to much sugar…

Pretty good effort, worth checking!

Website

Cranston, II, 2018

Cranston - IIA tad unexpected, but more than welcome is this second effort by Cranston, simply titled II. And again the songs were written by the guy that can do no wrong, singer Phil Vincent, and axe slinger (and AOR God according to the press blurb) Paul Sabu. Helping out on drums is again B.F. D’Ercole.

And where I felt their first was a really solid affair with many cracking songs, on this one they have upped their game a notch or two (II 🙂 ). When you hit play you are welcomed by the fierce riff of Always On The Run. Okay, on the surface the guitar melody bears a slight resemblance to an AC/DC track, but the thing is catchy as hell. And from there on they only seem to go upwards. What’s It Gonna Take is spiced with some sitar alike sounds, and again the chorus is killer. Cool video too. Wrong Side Of Town, adds a bit of country it seems, but still rocks and grooves. Soul Crusher on the other hand, is a slow burner. After a soothing mysterious intro, the mid tempo drums kick in, and the guitars gain momentum. Fine organ and keyboards as well, really adding depth.

Lots of variation in between the 11 tracks. But all prove that Phil and Paul have a great thing going. Fingers crossed we are treated to more of this.

Website

Armored Dawn, Barbarians In Black, 2018

armored dawn - barbarians in blackThis front cover screams metal now doesn’t it? And yes, you’d be right! Now it is just a questions of what type of metal. Alas the answer to that is not so simple. At least for me, you all probably know by now I suck at genre tagging.

While listening to this I hear bits of power metal, progressive metal, gothic metal (Choirs!) and probably even a few more influences. But I cannot say that the album is a non coherent collection of ideas.
If anything, this Brazilian 6 piece mean business and pack some serious punches. And they just make all these influences work. Lots of details in the arrangements, a lot of dynamics too, but man, when they are at it they really are in face melting mode.

And the best thing (besides all musicians delivering the goods), is that singer Eduardo Parras is a powerhouse with a very melodic approach to his singing, even when he adds a little roughness. Combined with the harmony vocals, this keeps everything together and gives the songs an accessible sound.
Check for instance the catchy Unbreakable or the great building of tension in Sail Away.  And when the solo here is more melodic than shred, you know this band puts the songs first. So much so, I forgive them the sometimes too typical metal lyrics.

Great metal album, they deserve to make it big.

Website

Ljungblut, Villa Carlotta 5959, 2018

ljungblut - villa carlotta 5959When the first song was playing, I was suddenly thinking “have U2 gone new wave?” But then I remembered I was listening to the latest album by Norwegian band Ljungblut, with the mysterious name Villa Carlotta 5959 and it is the sixth release.

From the press sheet I found that Ljungblut started as an outlet for the musical ideas of Kim Ljung (Seigmen / Zeromancer) and this has slowly developed into a 5 man band. This album is sung in Norwegian and closes a trio of albums. And I guess a remarkable thing about it is that, while I do not understand one word, I still connect to the music. Yes, more prove that music is THE universal language.

Overall the songs are melancholic of nature. Varying in tempo and dynamics, but melancholic. Imagine travelling alone along the coastal fjords in Norway: you will enjoy the beautiful and changing scenery, but it is still cold. Not that these tracks will leave you cold mind you. With it’s organic sound and the feelings pouring through, this will warm your heart and soul.
In the opening I referred to U2, this because the voice of the singer and a bit of the guitar sound. Yet the music is in general far more keyboard heavy, hence the new wave reference. However, there are still guitars used throughout, so it remains a bit in the rock genre.

Pretty sure this is an album that many people would dig, so give it a listen!

Website

Pymlico, Nightscape, 2018

pymlico-nightscapeOriginally a project that served as an musical outlet for Norwegian drummer and multi-instrumentalist Arild Broter (with a / through the “o”), Pymlico have since evolved into a 7 piece band and with Nightscape have released the fifth album. You can find these (and the live EP) also on these pages, with the exception of debut Inspirations (2011)

The most accurate description of the music I have read so far is instrumental progressive rock, mixed with fusion and with added cinematic textures. Another way of describing it is tasty, smooth, melodic and sophisticated.

That is not saying this is middle of the road typed stuff. They are too good musicians to play it safe all the time. Yes, I would not mind a little more energy here or there, but overall this is another damn fine listening experience with songs that stick. So you will again not miss vocals at all. And as usual this is an album that grows with every play. They know how to arrange their songs to the extent that you keep discovering.

But since the band have just released a new video of the track Tofana 10AM, here you have a simple way of finding out how you like what they do. I know I will enjoy to keep listening !

Website

Nitrate, Real World, 2018

Nitrate - Real WorldIf you are a fan of Eighties melodic rock and never can get enough, than you must be familiar with Melodic Rock Records from Down  Under. Label boss Andrew has been at it for over 20 years, vigorously supporting the scene. And one thing is for sure, he always delivers with his releases.

For me, this one is a bit special as it sees local hero Joss Mennen (Zinatra, Mennen) return to rock. No matter how much I enjoyed his dialect solo work, it is nice to hear him sing stuff like this again. Yet Nitrate is based around guitarist Nick Hogg and bassist Rob Wylde. Besides Joss they also recruited Pete Newdeck on drums. And the mastering was handled by the mighty Harry Hess from Harem Scarem fame.
Enough name dropping, to the music.

On the surface this is a release that hits all the right spots, had it been released  in 1984; a good mix of keyboards and guitars, catchy choruses, huge backing vocals, uptempo rockers and slow driving songs. And a bit cheesy lyrics…
As is often the case for me, once past the first few plays, the songs gain depth. All is done well and sounds like it.
My only point of criticism (besides the lyrics) would be that on a few occasions the rhythm guitars and drums feel not locked in 100%, with the guitars pushing harder than the drums. But that could be just me.

So if you are a sucker for rock as it used to be, surely one to check!

Website