Umphrey’s McGee, It’s Not Us, 2018

umphrey's mcgee - it's not usNow here is another band that in my humble opinion should be a lot bigger. A big lot bigger! And it seems the band thought so too, because this album sees them in their probably most focused and accessible appearance yet.

Now, those words might also scare some of their older fans away, but that would be a mistake.  Even when especially the first 4 songs sound tailor made for the unaware public, this band is just too damn good to sell out. So do not worry, their songwriting and playing abilities are still strong and prominent throughout.
Actually, I quite like they chose a couple of highly catchy songs to open the album with. You immediately feel at home listening to this. So when their usual more quirky nature shows its face in songs like Maybe Someday or Remind Me, they impress me even more. And still the melodies and feel here are of the highest calibre! The way Remind Me moves through several rock genres is mindblowing and a testament of just how good this band is. Even when you are not a mellotron or guitar fan, I dare you to not like this… And just when you think they have gone completely mad, they tear you up with the aching beauty of You And You Alone.

For me this is an album with an undisputable quality. Classy music from class musicians. Don’t remain ignorant, put this on your buy list and give it a few spins. I guarantee a satisfactory experience. And if not, consider yourself lost 🙂

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Upcoming Rock Company releases!

Rock Company announce the coming release (May 4) of Sunroad drummer Fred Mika. This solo album features a wealth of known singers and promises to be a real hammer. Check it in the next video:

A week later the debut of new Dutch hard rock hope Souls Of Deaf will see the light of day. Their album is called Fortune Favors The Bold and enjoy a couple of samples in this video:

You can already pre order the albums for a reduced price on www.rockcompany.nl

Bad Butler, Not Bad At All, 2017

bad butler - not bad at allAfter a couple of more progressive albums to listen to, now back to a more straight in your face release. Bad Butler are from Germany and describe their music as “Impressive melodies, gripping guitar riffs and an accentuated heavy sound that gets straight under your skin. The troupe works with driving, atmospheric songs that create a mystically dynamic soundscape”.

Mhm, atmospheric songs that create a mystically dynamic soundscape? Afraid that means something different to me. For me this is a “take no prisoners” album. Heavy metal as it is supposed to be. Not overly German by the way, with which I mean there is no constant galloping on the double kick. The band sure mean business though. Lots of energy and melodies that stick. Actually, one of the good things about the album is that the band keep trying to avoid using all too obvious genre clichés. And indeed, they are not afraid to make use of dynamics. Listen to Gunman for instance; clean guitars, break downs, a talking voice… All this resulting in a song that makes you want to listen.  Or take Straight From Hell, with an addictive rhythm. Another highlight for me is Nameless Thing. The vocal and guitar melodies in this track are just stupefyingly brilliant. And still the thing rocks your socks off.

Even when not all 10 tracks are of the same calibre, this is a solid release that will make many genre addicts very happy. And considering it is an independent release, one of high quality.

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Claudio Delgift, One Life Many Roads, 2018

claudio delgift - one life many roadsClaudio Delgift is a musician from Argentina, who is also known as “C” or Delgift. His main instrument is the guitar (which he masters) but you can also find him on other instruments as well as vocals. I know of at least 3 albums, but am not sure about his total discography so far.

One Life Many Roads is his current album and I think this can be categorized as progressive rock, even when some songs or parts lean on blues. Opening with the 10+ minute Diamond Heart, his prowess on the guitar can be heard throughout the song. Not only electric, but also on acoustic.  Vortex is the first time we hear him sing. Now his voice may not be everyone’s taste, but it is honest and authentic.  And fair is fair, the song still impresses through his playing skills. Not that he is a very fast shredder by the way. Delgift is more about moods and feel. Highlighted in for instance track 3, Song For You. Great melodies and hooks. Life Element is a song where that bluesy feel prevails. The guitar is used in many ways, to riff, to play melodies, chords and solos, maybe influenced by Jimi Hendrix. Nice groove too! On Rogue’s Day Out I am strangely reminded of Robert Plant during his days when Robbie Blunt was his guitar player. There are 4 more songs to enjoy, including a wonderful acoustic workout called The Marketplace.

So when you love stellar playing and variety, this is an album to check!

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DBA, Skyscraper Souls, 2017

dba-skyscraper-soulsIn full this is the Downes Braide Association. With Geoff Downes being the prog rock legend from the Buggles, Asia and Yes. And Chris Braide being a master in pop hits with the likes of Beyonce, Lana del Rey and Britney Spears to name a few. It is their third album together and according to the press sheet their most progressive so far. I would not know, as this is the first I have been listening to.

Well, with someone with such a pedigree in hits, it will not be a surprise that melodies are very important on this album. Even the 18 minute title track has many moments that catch your ear with ease! The good thing with melody is of course is that they catch your attention easily. Yet in this case that does not mean the material is lightweight or plain fluffy. What the duo have created has much more depth. And it is a band effort too, with drummer Ash Soan and bassist Andy Hodge adding their qualities to the songs. As well as guests like Andy Partridge (XTC) and Kate Pierson (B-52’s). And the art from Roger Dean is fitting too, especially since Braide’s voice is not too distant from that certain mister Anderson.

Anyway with 9 songs ranging from 1 to 18 minutes and a total playing time of 53 minutes, this is an album that will appeal to an audience beyond the fairly closed prog rock community. And that cannot be a bad thing!

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Cellar Dwellers, Junkyard Chronicles part 3, 2018

cellar dwellers - junkyard chronicles part 3And…the Cellar Dwellers are back with EP 3 in a series of 4. And as was to be expected, EP 3 of the Junkyard Chronicles is another batch of 5 songs highlighting the bands roots in punk, psychedelic and classic rock.

Opening with the venomous Don’t Know Dick, the first statement is bold and ballsy. Next track, Dear Johnny, with Michel Janssen on guest vocals, is an uptempo rocker with alas a sad ending for Johnny… Lost is a song with a great haunting guitar line throughout the song. It is a slow burner, and for me easy one of the highlights.  Next up is Pussy, which you can listen to below. And yes, it is fun and energetic.
The release closes with Nightmare, which is another prime example of the power in the band. And another song with great guitar work.

Expect part 4 towards the end of the year.

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New Still Living lyric Video!

Rock Company says: our friends from Still Living have created a wonderful lyric video to the exclusive EU bonus track Redemption. This is a chilling piano ballad, highlighting the singing of Renato Costa.

Check it here:

The Foxholes, Sci-Fox, 2017

the foxholes - sci-foxThe Foxholes have been featured here before, making this their second release on these pages. And from a dialect, we now move on to Spanish as the language of choice. But no translations this time.

The album opens however with the instrumental title track. Or actually part 1 to be more accurate. And it is a prime example of how to build up such a track. Just like the other instrumental tracks they have on offer, Andromeda Blues and part 2. Themes, riffs and breaks are glued together in such a manner that the song has a clear identity. And the sound is just very transparent, yet powerful, great job!  And speaking of powerful, next track La Ciencia De La Confusion opens with a very attractive hook! It immediately sucks you in, especially since it is based on a groove Led Zeppelin would have been proud of. But the guys manage to work a little beyond that idiom, adding textures and parts that sometimes turn it into a more progressive song. Anyway, great track. And even though I barely understand any Spanish, it does not withhold me from enjoying all I hear.
Mephistopheles is the shortest track on the album. Very catchy chorus, and the use of dynamics is plain clever. In a perfect world this would have the potential to become a hit. Tierra Ni Hogar continues the high level of songwriting, and the same goes for the bonus track Cada Miércoles.

In my book there is only one flaw with the album, with 7 songs and less than 40 minutes it is a bit short. But we can’t have all now can we.

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Huub Holtman, Trap Door, 2017

huub holtman - trap doorNot 100% sure, but this might actually be the first CD discussed here, that is sung in my native dialect, Limburgs, from the South of the Netherlands. And to complicate things, from the somewhat North of the South… So while the English speakers amongst us think they are reading Trap Door, in reality that means something like; go on. Or more specific, go on with your biking. Or something like that 😉

Anyway, this album is written, performed, recorded, produced, mixed and mastered by Huub Holtman himself. Albeit with some guests on percussion, additional vocals, lead guitar and a few other bits and pieces.
It took me a while to tag the music I was hearing. It sounds a bit like Peter Gabriel and Muse have been experimenting together. So I guess it is a mix of rock and pop with alternative touches and a tad of prog thrown in for good measure.
But the beauty of it all is, that even when most of the world will not understand the lyrics, the music does have the quality to reach out and grab you. Trap Door and Neet Van Belang (It Doesn’t Matter) have an attractive catchiness about them. Veur Dich (For You) is an intricate follow up to the suspense closing bit of Neet Van Belang. Heb Ik Waat (Do I have Something) just plain rocks.

Obvious conclusion is that this is an album that the (alternative) rockers, no matter the language, will be able to enjoy.

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Alan Simon, Excalibur IV, 2017

alan simon - EXCALIBUR-4From never having heard of Alan Simon, now on to a second album. The first was his recent released Songwriter double disc, which I enjoyed very much. And since this one is called Excalibur IV, The Dark Age Of The Dragon, we can be pretty sure that there have been Excalibur albums before this (duh).

Not sure if everyone will agree with me, but for me one of the highlights of Simon is the diversity on offer. From folk, to rock, to classical and many in between, you can find a lot of genres on this album. Sometimes even in one song. And while in many cases that would make an album suffer from a lack of focus, this guy produces songs that are able to tell a story, even without words. The fact that all is executed beautifully only helps of course. Just take a look at the guest list: Michael Sadler (Saga), Martin Barre (Jethro Tull), Moya Brennan (Clannad), Roberto Tiranti (Labyrinth), John Helliwell (Supertramp) or Bernie Shaw (Uriah Heep) to name a few! What all these names confirm is the scope of the material.

So a haunting song like Alone can stand firmly besides a more rocking song like for instance Stonehenge. Just like the pop bliss of Calling For You easily sits besides the proggy Don’t Be Afraid or the dreamy and almost opera-esque The Last Lament Of A Fairy.

For me there is no more excuse in trying to find earlier albums. Great stuff, worth checking out if you, like me, have been living under a rock as far as Alan Simon is concerned…

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