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2010

Jeff Young, Pure Herringbone, 2010

jeff young - pure herringboneThere are a couple of reasons to write some words about this album. First, the new album from Jeff Young called Choose Your Own Unknown, will be released coming march 2016. Second is that this album deals with songs from the musical One Hit Wonder, written in 2009 by Jeff. And I don not often have musicals on offer… And most importantly is reason 3; this is damn fine music!

The songs are a mix of soul, blues, pop, jazz and rock. Brought to you by a cast that impresses on all accounts, even when I think I do not know all the musicians involved. But names like Jackson Browne, Jorgen Carlsson or Robben Ford should ring a bell.
The CD tells the fictitious  story of Pure Herringbone, who dreams of changing his life with just that one hit record. The songs deal with vision and ambition, obstacles and the machinations of the music industry. And I must say, from the moment I started listening I was impressed. There is something about this music that grabbed me. Something like a warm bath or an putting on that old coat. Instant very comfortable. So this is delivered from the heart and that is what you will also feel listening to this.

If the new album is anything like it, count me in!

Website

Tommy Emmanuel, The Mystery, 2010

tommy emmanuel - the mysteryRecently I met a guy that was able to turn my attention to guitar players that mainly play acoustic. Thanks to YouTube I got to witness some performances that rocked my world. Yeah I have seen and heard numerous great guitarists, but they all mainly play electric. And now it appears there is a whole new world out there with musicians that can do things on a guitar I did not know were possible.

One of the examples is Tommy Emmanuel. His playing is of a technical level that is almost out of this world, like on opener Cantina Senese. And still, a song like title track the Mystery is so beautiful it almost hurts. Some in this genre are a one man band. Playing rhythm, bass, chords and melody on just a single guitar, using only their ten fingers and their 2 hands. Great to hear, yet phenomenal to watch. Emmanuel plays mainly a sort of fingerpicking style on this album. There is also a chilling vocal track, The Wall, where he even sings, besides Elizabeth Watkins. On the digipack it says he took care of all instrumentation, so it could be that one man band phenomenon is at play here as well.

Well, I am heading into much more adventure now, and hope to encourage you to do the same. Guys like Tommy Emmanuel, Andy McKee or Jimmy Wahlsteen (to name but a few) deserve it! Get it? Good!

Website

Ace Frehley, Anomaly, 2010

ace frehley - anomalyWhat does a man, with an enormous legacy in a multi-million band, do when he is inspired to record another album? Well, if that man is Ace Frehley (Kiss), the answer is: simply do what you do best and that is to record a CD of rocking songs, play the guitar, and not worry to much…

That´s how simple life sometimes is dear people. In between my busy activities lately (after all I am, amongst other things, a recording musician myself), I have been listening to this album. I bought it because of the things I read about it and must say, I quite like listening to it. Some might think it is a bit patchy, and Ace is first a guitar slinger and second a singer, but overall it is very enjoyable. Consisting of 11 originals and 1 cover (Fox On The Run), I feel this is rooted in seventies rock. So it goes a little beyond your standard 3 chord song 😉 and of course that is a good thing. Moods vary from flower power-ish on a track like Change The World, to rocking like in Space Bear or Foxy & Free. Lyrics give a nice insight in the man´s thinking, and the honesty is touching.

Another nice touch is Ace thanking his former mates for putting up with his insanity. Despite taking 20 years to record another release, I think Ace should not worry about what his critics say. If he is able to write more albums in this vein, I am sure he will please a lot of people.

Website

Black Label Society, Order Of The Black, 2010

black label society - order of the blackOK, Zakk Wylde is at it again! The big man with the huge guitar sound is still ripping it hard. In my previous post I stated I thought the band was not developing anymore. Well, I am quite sure it is not because of those words, but this time around I do think there is a bit more to this album. From skull crushing riff monsters like Crazy Horse, Parade Of the Dead, Riders Of The Damned or Overlord to spine tingling ballads like Darkest Days, Time Waits For No One and especially January (which harkens back to the Book Of Shadows days). And this time not only with piano or acoustic guitar, but strings as well. And they really add depth. Heck, Shallow Grave even got a bit of a Coldplay touch, wish that would play on the radio…

Some may find this a bit ballad heavy with 4 out of 13, but I am liking the balance more on this one. Hey, we all know Zakk is a hell of a guitar player, and we all know he´s got attitude in abundance, but I just like to hear him slowing down and create those beautiful songs with a lot of room to breathe. Chilling stuff in my ears! So enough riffs and solos to please the army, and on top of that some more varied stuff. Yes I am pleased!

Website

 

H.E.A.T., Freedom Rock, 2010

H E A T - Freedom RockFor several years H.E.A.T. from Sweden are rumoured to be one of the best current melodic rock bands on the planet. So I figured it was about time I checked them out. And you know what, normally one should not believe the hype, but this might be the exemplary exception to the rule. This has turned out to be a damn fine slab of melodic rock music / AOR! The band (a sextet) is doing everything right here.

So we get the syrupy choruses, the addictive melodies, keyboard colouring all songs, enough guitar to rock (and flashy solos too!) and the rhythmic backbone of drums and bass to drive every song. The lead singer has a more than pleasant voice and still gets massive support from all the harmony vocals. And if by now you are thinking, oh well, then they probably just rip off the big names and steal their songs, you have got that wrong! Of course, in this genre it is neigh on impossible to be fully original, so you do hear influences from Toto, Journey and the like, but I never once thought, oh this is song X from band Y.No it is diverse, it is varied, it is just sounding damn good.

Convincing from start to finish, I want more!

Website

Alter Bridge, AB III, 2010

Alter Bridge -  AB IIIAlter Bridge is the successor to Creed (in case you did not know that), but with a guy called Myles Kennedy on vocals. And I do hope that name sounds familiar as I have been singing praise about him on the latest Slash record. And it is not only for those vocals I am liking Alter Bridge a lot more actually (compared to Creed that is). To my great joy I think this band has a lot more to say musically. And of course the mighty Mark Tremonti really ripping all he can out of his guitar here is not hurting my conceptions either. Creed were always playing it a little safer I think.

So, is this third album really the proverbial make or break release? I don´t know. For me this is another damn fine slab of melodic metal so I will not mind if they keep releasing a lot more of these. But things are strange. Myles is touring a lot with Slash (obviously) and the rest of the guys went on tour with their former band mate. So who knows what the future will bring.

For now I enjoy listening to this. As I said, melodic metal songs that kick your butt and are delivered with attitude and prowess.

Website

Avenged Sevenfold, Nightmare, 2010

avenged sevenfold - nightmareAfter releasing what I considered their best album yet (by far), Avenged Sevenfold are back with Nightmare. Going through hard times after the untimely loss of drummer The Rev, the band picked up the pieces with Mike Portnoy hitting the skins. and, fair is fair, continuing their level with apparent ease.

So if you liked their white self titled album, this is a no brainer. Their brand of nu metal again results in an album chock full of songs that hit the mark. And the best thing is, I cannot sat it feels like they are trying to become commercially viable. I mean, opening with the title song we get over 6 minutes of moods and riffing, wrapped in a great chorus, days could be worse. Welcome To The Family is another highlight, catchy as hell and still more groove and power than the average train. And the stunning guitar solos are also still omnipresent. Danger Line has a great end section, based on piano and trumpet. amazing how they pull that off with such a double bass fuelled song.

So I wont even bother to touch upon the other tracks. We get cross genre appeal, great musicians with songs to match, variety, power, feel and melody. Love ´m!

Website

Stone Sour, Audio Secrecy, 2010

stone sour - audio secrecyThe second Stone Sour album to make it to my play list. And I must confess I am liking this a lot more than first release Come What(ever) May. In my opinion aggression ruled that album to the extent that melodies got a bit lost. Here the balance is far better, resulting in me having no problem at all listening to it back to back a couple of times.

Of course, with Slipknot members in the ranks that aggression thing seems logical. But I was actually surprised with this CD. Opening with a simple yet very attractive piano on the title track, the mood is set. Mission  Statement is heavy and a punch in the stomach, but one of a good friend, so no one gets hurt. A track like Say You´ll Haunt Me is modern and maybe a bit Emo, but remains very catchy. There are still some screaming parts, but here they add to the song. The light and dark on Dying also works well. The acoustic and electric guitars really feed off each other well.

So like I said in the opening, a lot more balance and a CD I really enjoyed listening to. Great playing and melodies, with songs to match. Hope they keep up this level!

Website

Sinner, Mask Of Sanity, 2010

Sinner - Mask Of SanityGerman musician Mat Sinner has his fingers and songs in a lot of bands. But Sinner the band is of course his own vehicle. And anyone with that much experience should be able to deliver the goods. And if Heavy Metal, German style, is your thing, than this is a band to check out. Vocally reminding me of country mates Rage, musically of numerous others. Melodic, plenty of hooks and riffs, and on this version even the obligatory Thin Lizzy cover (Baby Please Don´t Go). Other bonuses are 2 videos.

For me a solid release, yet a bit by the numbers. But in  a genre where conforming to the style is almost holy, you could do worse I suppose. A lot of people will love this, for me it is a bit on the safe side. But it is enjoyable and fine music to party to. So, referring to the beginning of this post, Mat does deliver!

Website

Presto Ballet, Invisible Places, 2010

Presto Ballet - Invisible PlacesIf you, like me, are a sucker for Hammond organ, rocking guitars, versatile songs, memorable melodies and don´t mind getting a little adventurous when listening, then you have to check out Presto Ballet! Coming from a metal background, principal writer and player Kurt Vanderhoof is exploring his progressive rock tooth here. And does so with style and finesse.

This is probably album 4 or so, but this never tires me. For me this is 7 songs and just over an hour of pure bliss. Always inspiring and uplifting and produced with obvious love for the history of this type of music, yet sounding modern and rich.
I won´t even bother to write a longer piece about this. I firmly believe that any serious fan of progressive rock music should own at least one, if not all albums from this band. Love ´m to death!

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