Hello to a new Chinawhite video

Here a track that many mums and dads will be able to relate to. Or just another chance to get to know Chinawhite‘s latest album that is way too good to be ignored 🙂
Different was released in 2018 and the CD is available from the label and all formats are available in all good stores and platforms.
Enjoy!

Jordsjo, Nattfiolen, 2019

jordsjo - nattfiolenIn the press sheet I read that this Norwegian band is influenced by old horror movies, German 70’s synth music, Norwegian jazz, Swedish folk, campfires, fantasy novels and nature. Resulting in murky apocalyptic forest prog? Mhm, how does that translate to this album then?

Well, in my humble opinion, I am hearing a band that has its roots deep in Seventies progressive / symphonic music. Think of a cross between In The Court Of The Crimson King, Genesis and early Jethro Tull. Nothing more, nothing less. So for people who are stuck listening to early Genesis, Yes, Tull and the like, they will get a kick out of this. Because the trademarks are all there. Flute, mellotron, acoustic guitar,  dynamic outbursts, you get the picture.

To me, while I can enjoy listening to this, I am just not getting excited about it. It is fine if you want to keep reliving the past, but I prefer to move on. Don’t get me wrong, this is done with taste and a certified love of the sound many people still adore. So if that is your thing, enjoy. I prefer a bit more originality and identity.

Website

Red Bazar, Things As They Appear, 2019

red bazar - things as they appearOh my, quite the album this! That is, if you like bands like Enchant or It Bites, spiced with a dash of Threshold. Yes dear reader, progressive rock it is, but based on groove and melody.

And I must say I am finding myself pretty impressed with this collection of songs. The press sheet did not tell me much, except this is the Nottingham’s quartet second album with Peter Jones (Camel, Tiger Moth Tales) on vocals and keys.
On a track like Nothing Left, Jones sounds remarkably close to Enchants’ Ted Leonard, but in a good way, as the song itself is great. Like any of the 8 songs really. All are built on great ideas and melodies that work and the sum of that sucks you into the music. Lots of dynamics and authentic performances, serve to enhance the attraction.

So it does not matter that most of the songs clock in at around 7 minutes. The diversity and intricate arrangements make sure you will not get bored. To conclude, there is no need to make this a lengthy post, people into the bands mentioned, or into prog rock in general, ought to have a listen to this! Pretty sure you will like it as much as I do.

Website

Guy Paul Thibault, The Road Between, 2019

guy paul thibault - the road betweenWhen you play over 200 shows per year and still manage to record a new album, you must be dedicated to your art. So welcome back Guy Paul Thibault to these pages. And while it took 17 years to release predecessor It’s About Time, this one took only 2 years.

But many things I wrote about then, still apply now. The Road Between is as diverse and varied as before and carried and held together by the confident vocal performance of Thibault.
But this time I also want to mention his guitar playing. Especially his clean stratocaster tones in tracks like Who Are You or Don’t See Me Cry are worth noting. The latter strangely reminds me of Robert Cray’s Strong Persuader by the way.
Stand out tracks for me are Dangerous Strangers and Talk To Me. But those are amongst the more rocking material on offer, and that remains the more natural environment for me. Especially when compared to the country twang in Take Me. Then again, No One Understands is a pretty good ballad!
Oh, I should also mention that, besides drums, percussion and backing vocals, Thibault did all the rest himself.

Pleasant, solid and enjoyable are fitting words for this collection of tracks.

Website

The Sighs Of Monsters, Dust, 2019

the sighs of monsters - dustThird album from this London (UK) based outfit and the second one to hit these pages. If you look at my review of previous album Lie, you will find that I quite liked the outcome. So it was really exciting to receive this new album, knowing that the guys still strive to deliver an interesting album, and do not care for singles or EP’s. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but I am just more into albums myself too.

Last time I might have called it progressive rock, but I think a better, albeit more generic, term to describe their music is rock. Because the music goes places, but at the core feels like it is based on rock principles.
So don’t be scared if at one song you recall 80’s new wave, then pop rock, then a slice of authentic rhythm and blues (the real kind, not the plastic r&b crap) and of course there are proggy elements throughout too.
These guys never seize to amaze me with blending all these influences and still make sense.  Always with a good hook, a catchy chorus or a riff that grabs your attention, so never a dull moment on this.

Simply put, another album that sounds fresh and diverse, and another one I will be playing for years to come. Well done sirs!

Website

Bjorn Riis, A Storm Is Coming, 2019

bjorn riis - a storm is comingThe third solo album from Airbag co-founder, songwriter and guitarist Bjorn Riis. Riis plays a number of instruments on the album, and gets help from guests on drums, keys, guitar and vocals.
On the album you will find 6 tracks from 3 to 14 minutes, with a total playing time of 51 minutes.

If you already are familiar with his music, I think you already know what to expect. Unknowing fans of bands like Pink Floyd (Gilmour era), Porcupine Tree and latter day Marillion, might like what is going on musically here.

To be honest, even after numerous plays, I still have a bit of trouble to really get into the album. I am guessing this is because of the overall mellow mood and slow tempo of the album. Sure there are some outbursts, but on a whole the energy level is rather low.
For some that may translate into epic, beautiful and enticing, while others might say it is too much of a good thing. All depending on what you are looking for. For me, the album passes along and I hardly ever tap my feet or hum along. Sure, his guitar playing is spot on as always, but I am just not enjoying it as much as I hoped.

Since this is maybe due to my current state of mind, try for yourself, you might feel it differently.

Website

Lucy In Blue, In Flight, 2019

lucy in blue - in flightThe first thing that popped in my mind while listening to this was King Crimson. Tracks like I Talk To The Wind or Epitaph from their classic debut In The Court Of The Crimson King. Further down the listening path also one Pink Floyd came to mind.
And I guess that tells fans all they need to know. Yes, this is progressive music, heavily influenced by late Sixties, early Seventies progressive rock, with a dash of psychedelica.

But don’t get me wrong, these Icelandic dudes are not copying songs or structures or anything. The way I see it, they have created their own songs, but just wear their influences on their sleeves.
And the result is an album that feels like a warm bath for those who love the references I already mentioned. Their ability to create songs that flow like the tides is a feast. Sometimes they erupt into a more menacing modern machine, but the intense mood of their melodies and song build, is never far away. And with songs ranging from two and a half, to almost 10 minutes, prog purists will be happy as well 😉 Especially when they discover the use of vocal harmonies, soundscapes not unlike the mellotron and soaring solos…

Yes, quite enjoyable, and not only if your head is still stuck in times long gone!

Website

Battersea, Arguments & Sentiments, 2019

Battersea - Arguments & SentimentsWhere the Rock Company label normally releases melodic (hard) rock or progressive music, occasionally something a bit different comes to the surface. So here we have Dutch band Battersea!

The 5 piece recorded their full length debut (after an EP and a demo in earlier years) in the studio of bassist Erwin Hermsen (see also Souls Of Deaf), making this sound like a big budget high profile record company release. And when it comes to the music, the guys came up with 11 tracks that will make fans of bands like Muse, Foo Fighters, Kings of Leon or U2 very happy. Should they take note!

Opener To Ithaca is accompanied by a great (and funny) video, but lots of songs are hit material if you ask me. Hard to choose favourites, but The Just, A Sound or The Sight are surely amongst them. And them adding Trapped (Bruce Springsteen version) as a bonus track does not hurt either.
And it is in the little details that you hear the quality at work. Not only from a sonic perspective, but also in breaks, hidden time signature changes and so on. This is high calibre melodic power pop / pop rock with a slight alternative touch and catchy as the flu in kindergarten.

Are you sold yet?

Website

Monograf, Nadir, 2019

monograf - nadirIf I am not mistaken, this is the second time a band sends in the vinyl edition of their release. And truth be told, it looks beautiful. And of course, a double lp, with a separate lyric sheet, brings back lots of memories… Another thing of note is that the vinyl edition actually holds a 6th track, where the CD and digital version only has 5 tracks to offer. Pretty sure vinyl adepts will dig that!

Okay on to the music then. I have listened to this a lot the last weeks and think I describe it best when I ask you to picture the highlands, in the morning, with a mist clouding the view and hearing the sea in the distance.
With that I mean this is a somewhat intense experience. Not because of heavy guitars or anything, but because this is all about atmosphere and feel. Even when the music sometimes erupts, overall this is a moody, melancholic and mostly laid back piece of art. The 5 piece band take the time to develop melodies and arrangements, in order to create that bit of magic.

I guess the William Booth quote that features on the inside and the lyric sheet says it all: “…. Perhaps we shall fail with many. Quite likely. But our business is to help them all the same.” To me that translates as even if we are bound to fail, try we must.

Believe me when I say this album does not fail at all. Beautiful.

Website

*Edit; there is no official CD version of this. But you can burn your own if you buy this from their bandcamp page.

 

Joost Maglev, Alter Ego, 2019

joost maglev - alter egoAfter 2016’s Overwrite The Sin, Joost Maglev is back with Alter Ego. This time not only influenced by Robby Valentine or Valensia, but the latter is joining him on the title track too. Making it sound even more like himself…

And while the overall length of the songs on this second release is notably shorter than on his debut, I also think that the album is more varied. Opener Lucid is fairly short, with female vocals creating a lovely mood. After which Angel takes over with high energy and melody, again in the style that has been made famous by Queen / Valentine and or Valensia. But this time Maglev did try to expand on that. Corpus Christie is an example. Very rhythmic and varied, but still highly infectious. As well as a bit more heavy. Ever After holds a phenomenal guitar solo that hits me in the heart every time I hear it. But is also beautiful without that. Judith sounds closer to Ayreon, were it not for the massive vocal harmonies tying it to the sound we come to love and expect.
The biggest surprise might be the track Burning Girl, as it is by far the heaviest outing on offer. But it is also one of my favourites! The driving riffs and synths couples with the dynamics and another great chorus are just killer.

So there you have it, another great release and one where every song counts. Massive!

Website