Firenote, Firenote, 2009

firenote - sameIt is time for another band that has managed to “escape” the Finnish waters to bring us this set of hard rocking songs.

And is it any good? Albeit a little short with it´s 41 minutes, it is surely no punishment listening to this. The lead vocals are a little light of tone maybe, but that is a matter of taste.
Okay, is it any fun? Yep, it sure is. If you have played this for a number of times, you will be singing these tunes for days. Another good thing is that they don´t take themselves all too seriously. I mean “she stole my speedos” ….
So what about rocking hard? It does, but with a surprisingly amount of keyboards thrown in. Which only adds to the freshness. Though I would love to hear some more Hammond guys 😉 Preferably a real one!

So this makes me wonder, is this an essential album? Mmhmm, I am not sure yet. No doubt I like it. It is competent, it delivers and I can´t say I have heard every song before. But I also believe they need to stretch their writing a bit. Some songs do tend to become predictable. So I guess time will tell. For now, enjoy it!

Personal play tips: Danger, Love Me Or Let Me Live, Suddenly.


The Answer, Everyday Demons, 2009

the answer - everyday demonsIf I am not mistaken this is the second album by this young Irish band. The Answer operate in the classic rock vein. Think Led Zeppelin, Free, Bad Company and some Thin Lizzy for good measure.

The four piece operate in classic mould: drums, bass, guitars and they all sing (but with one singing lead). In the chosen style it is hard to be original. But I think that does not really matter. For lovers of classic rock the songs and performance are what counts most. And I think The Answer can fulfil that need. And without sounding dated, in fact this is plainly relevant. Okay, this has it´s roots firmly in the seventies, but it just feels right!

I really enjoy this album. Though I did not take the time to read all the lyrics, listening the the CD I found it all very sincere and honest. There is a bonus live disk thrown in just to prove my point. (Which rocks slightly harder by the way)
And my biggest compliment must be that I don´t feel they are copying anybody. They write songs and play them and together they sound like the band they are. References okay, but no deliberate attempt to resemble one of their predecessors. Check this out!

Personal play tips: On And On, Cry Out, Tonight.


Magnum, Into The Valley Of The Moonking, 2009

magnum - into the valley of the moonkingFor over 30 years British rock band Magnum have been pleasing us with their records. Over the years they have released several classic (symphonic) rock albums (especially in the 80´s) and after a few albums under the Hard Rain moniker, they are slowly but steady getting back in top shape.

Proof of this is the album on hand here: last years Into The Valley Of The Moonking. From the artwork to the songs and performance, it is all there! Listening to this I noticed I was no longer trying to compare to albums past. No, this collection of songs grabs your throat and goes straight for the heart. Here they stick to their guns and do what they do best, create an album of rock songs with that typical Magnum progressive touch. Nothing too heavy, but it rocks. Chock-full of melody with all arrangements adding to the atmosphere of the album. Bob Catley isn´t capable of singing badly in my humble opinion, but depends on the material delivered to him. And this time Tony Clarkin must have had several inspirational moods. He delivers big time on this one.

For me an album that sits with the best of them. I sadly missed a few recent albums (not for long I think), but be sure to not miss this one. A classic in the making. Get it!

Personal play tips: The Moonking, In My Mind´s Eye, If I Ever Lose My Mind, but better to play them all…


Chickenfoot, Same, 2009

chickenfoot - sameA supergroup if ever there was one! Consisting of Chad Smith on drums (Red Hot Chili Peppers), Michael Anthony on bass (ex Van Halen) and Sammy Hagar on vocals and Joe Satriani on guitars. All people who have earned their place in rock, so I believe them when they say they do this for the fun of it.  But is being famous enough for making a great record together, that is the question.

The answer is simple in this case, yes it is. This is all about songs and fun. This is about enjoying each others company as well as pleasing the audience. This is about rocking out, about the groove, about playing all the right notes. This is about true emotions and true intentions. This is recognisable, yet new. This is not Van Halen, but Sammy and Michael, still singing together and sounding great. This is not about Joe´s shredding, but yet he still plays oh so well and Michael backs him up accordingly. This is Chad rocking out like never before, but without losing his groove.

This is feel good stuff with some killer tracks. It gets better every time I play it! Oh, and the digipack edition I bought is a little weird. I was wondering where the song titles were. After holding the album for a while, the black cover slowly disappeared and revealed all the details. Nice trick.

Personal play tips: Soap On A Rope, Get It Up, Turning Left.



ac/dcSome time ago I decided to buy a number of classic AC/DC albums. I didn´t have many, and as my 9 year old son was asking for AC/DC music (how great is that) I though it was a good time to catch up a little. So  I was able to lay my hands on some remastered digipacks.

The great thing about these albums is, you kinda forget how many songs are actually burned into your memory cells. Some tracks are logical as we covered them in the time my band Chinawhite still played cover songs, but others are coming from somewhere else. And as I don´t recall some of them being actual hits in my country, this made me wonder. Somehow I must have picked them up. Maybe in the local bars while hanging out, I don´t know.

But it´s a great trip down memory lane listening to The Razors Edge (1990), Highway to Hell (1979) or Let There Be Rock (1977) or…. And I know some people butcher them for making the same record over and over again. But I believe they fail to see the big picture here. Yes, not every track is killer, but all in all this is highly enjoyable stuff that will put a smile on your face any day of the week… Great fun. Rock on dudes!

Songs Of The Exile, Reasons, 2008

songs of the exile - reasonsAlthough this band has released 5 albums so far, this is the first I bought. The three musicians in Songs Of The Exile all share the vocal duties, and play drums, basses and Taurus pedals, or guitar with (guitar) synths. Judging by the album, that will prove a lot of hard work live.
And as you will have guessed by now, SOTE are a progressive band, mainly situated in metal. But not limited to that.

The songs on this album all are named after a certain year. Not chronological though, but as it states it is a concept album, they are linked together. Some tracks are influenced by Rush, others lean more into Dream Theater territory.
The vocals take some time to get used to. As is the case with Geddy from Rush, I can imagine some people disliking them. Tastes vary…

The music is varied but sometimes I feel the lyrical content dictated the music. A flow is not that apparent at times because of this. Nevertheless, repeated plays reveals some really beautiful pieces of music. For instance fret-less bass playing is always special in case someone is doing it right!
Guitar solo´s are mostly melodic, so those create atmosphere. As I said in my opening, because of all the arrangements, it must be tough to recreate this live. It is at times complex, with a lot going on.
To sum it up, I think this is a record which you have to grow into. But for the progressive metal fan I recommend this!

Personal play tips: 1962, 1965 (part 1), 1964.


The Tubes, Mondo Birthmark, 2010

the tubes - mondo birthmarkDespite the fact that The Tubes aren´t as big as they should have been (personal opinion), they really can do no wrong with me. Okay, I do like their more commercial and rocking material best, but those very first albums also succeeded to claim their space among my fond memories. I mean, a lot of material is hilarious. And other just simply rock your socks off.

So now they hit us with this new album. Well, wait a minute, the album may be new, but the material on it certainly is not. The backside subtitle is “Mutant Memories from the early seventies”. And that says it all really. What is on offer here are recordings from before the release of their official first self titled album from 1975. Or as they put it themselves, the songs that didn´t get us signed. Brilliant humour as always.

Some tracks are in fact familiar. We find early versions of the classic White Punks On Dope or Mondo Bondage here. And some lyrics are so off the map, it is obvious why label reps were not eager to sign them based on that. But do we really care?
I guess it is safe to say that this is not going to win them many new fans. No, if you want to discover this band, try The Completion Backward Principle, Remote Control or Outside Inside first.
But for the aficionados like me, this is a wonderful insight in the early development of this vastly underrated band. Who, besides their keen eye for stunning live shows with all it´s theatrics, are great songwriters too, who are very adequate on their instrument of choice.
Love it!

Personal play tips: hey it´s  The Tubes…


Mastedon, It´s A Jungle Out There, 2009 (remaster)

mastedon - it´s a jungle out thereTogether with the release of the 3d Mastedon album (the first in 19 years!), record company Frontiers also reissued the much sought after 1988 debut It´s A Jungle Out There.
Mastedon is the brainchild of brothers John and Dino Elefante. The first may also be known from his time as lead vocalist in Kansas. He did for instance the sadly underrated Drastic Measures album. Plus he released a number of solo albums that are, besides a sometimes wonderful listen, also a lot more mainstream.

When I bought the 2nd Mastedon album in 1994 (1990´s Lofcaudio) I was not aware of this album. That particular CD is a long time favourite, so you will understand I was very curious for this one. Biggest surprise was the use of several lead vocalists. Something unexpected, as John is perfectly able to lead himself. Gives a number of songs a whole other vibe.
Musically speaking it is very recognisable. Melodic metal at it´s best. Catchy choruses, high octane backing vocals, great riffs and soloing, clever use of keyboards and memorable hooks. So what else can we ask for?
Bonus tracks perhaps. So we get all songs from the original album and 2 live tracks. Okay, that´s it? Yes, this is every inch as good as it´s follow up. Really wets my appetite for number 3!

Personal play tips: Islands In The Sky, Right Hand, Wasn´t It Love.


Vanderlinde, Vanderlism, 2009

vanderlinde - vanderlismThis Dutch trio operates in classic rock mode. They got some assistance from famous Dutch producer Erwin Musper and recorded 2 songs in his studio in the USA. But most of the recording and mixing was done in Germany.

The name is from singer, bass player and songwriter Arjan van der Linde. I can’t tell much of their history, as this is the first time I heard from them. So on the the album.

First song is a little reminiscent of Nickelback, mainly because of the steady riff used. Later on it becomes clear the classic rock tag is right. Sometimes acoustic guitar playing can be heard. But mainly electric guitar, bass, drums and vocals. And whilst Arjan has no bad voice, I do feel he can develop a little more. It will only make his delivery stronger. Maybe some whiskey and smoking to raw it up a bit ;-). Same applies to the songs, no filler, but little killer as well.
All in all a very solid release. Enough variation and feel. It is evident the band believe in what they do as the delivery is flawless and spot on. For fans of classic rock, I believe you can´t go wrong with this. I am curious how they will develop. For now congratulations!

Personal play tips: She´s Rock ‘n’  Roll, Unconcealed, Killing The Man.


Pure Reason Revolution, Amor Vincit Omnia, 2009

pure reason revolution - amor vincit omniaThe previous album from this British hopefuls (The Dark Third) was an absolute highlight. Rare you find a band with an immediate identity of their own. Pure Reason Revolution (PRR) blend various styles together (progressive rock, alternative sounds, electronic music) and keep it together with a breathtaking use of vocals.  No wonder with 3 vocalists, 2 men and 1 female, who all play at least one instrument as well. They not only sing harmony, but counterparts or canon´s as well. All executed with class and highly hypnotic.

So now to this album. First impression is that a lot of guitars have been traded in for keyboards. The rhythms also seem more dance based than rock this time around. The signature vocals are still there though.
More close listening reveals this is not all there is to it. I think it is more a case of different choices in the playing and mixing. The keyboards are more prominent this time, and are used more.  There is a risk that the more conservative progressive rock listener (nice contradiction by the way) will be put off with this kind of experimenting.

I feel PRR are exploring their possibilities and deserve credit for that. Yes, they avoided making an album sounding like the big success The Dark Third was. But it is still instantly recognizable as PRR. An achievement a lot of bands will not accomplish.
I recommend this for all open minded people. Especially if you are not into progressive rock…! This is a whole new sound and deserves to be heard by many. And when you get the chance, buy the edition with extra DVD. You get 5 live songs that way and can convince yourself of their capabilities.

Personal play tips: Victorious Cupid, Apogee, Deus Ex Machina.