Ronny Morris, Sweet Silence, 2018

ronny morris - sweet silenceI cannot help but smile while listening to this debut from Danish musician Ronny Morris. Not because of the beautiful and a bit mysterious artwork. Not because of silly lyrics, or anything like that.
No I smile because this album keeps reminding me why I like music. This guy obviously creates for the love of art. And not because of stupid things like fame, winning TV competitions, reality TV, etc.

But even if you do not fall for that, there are lots of reasons why you should check out this album. First; it is a damn good pop rock album with tons of moody songs that reach out to your soul and heart. Morris also has a fine voice with that bit of edge that many people find attractive. Also the performances and production are top notch.
Another reason is that this is produced in a climate neutral way. First time I ever heard about that, and, being a firm believer we are here to make sure our children also have a planet to live on, a worthy cause.

And last but not least, even when all songs are accessible, by no means they are carbon copies of things you have heard a thousand times before. If I would be forced to mention a reference, it would be something like Bryan Adams met Donald Fagen with a bit of Beatles thrown in for good measure. Also the sophisticated sound reminds me a bit of 3rd Matinee, but that is a reference not all too many will understand.

Most important thing is you go listen to this album, it truly deserves your attention.

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Seven Thorns, Symphony Of Shadows, 2018

From Denmark arrives power metal band Seven Thorns. Whom I suspect also love the likes of Symphony X, since their sound incorporates lots of the same neo-classical / progmetal trademarks. And having Tue Madsen produce your album, sure helps to get a bombastic sound, with still all necessary details in the right place.

Yes, it is clear that Seven Thorns mean business. So it is rather a good thing they remembered to include lots of flashy solos as well as choruses that easily stick in your brain. Center stage is the playing of Gabriel Tuxen (guitars) and Asger Nielsen (keys). Keeping all together are Mads Molbaek (bass) and Lars Borup (drums). With singer Björn Asking they also have someone in their ranks that is able to project a wide palette of styles in his singing. But none of the musicians is a slouch, they all perform top notch and pull off some amazing musicianship. While thankfully infusing lots of melody too. Nice addition is a female singer in Beneath A Crescent Moon.

It is safe to say that the 9 tracks on offer will please fans of bands like Symphony X, Adagio, as well as Helloween or Stratovarius.
All this does not mean they offer something that has never been done before. But they are really good at what they do and pour tons of energy in their performance and songs.

If you dig the bands mentioned, you can buy this on sight.

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The Chris Squire Tribute, A Life In Yes, 2018

the chris squire tributeThe Chris Squire Tribute is carried largely by producer Billy Sherwood. Who not only is the replacement of Chris in Yes (on his request!) but also a long time friend. So little wonder Billy plays most of the bass parts on this. On drums we find another long time collaborator of Billy, Jay Schellen. Who also is no stranger to Yes. Same can be said of course of people like Patrick Moraz and Jon Davison, who join forces on opening song On The Silent Wings Of Freedom.

Tributes like this are always a sort of who’s who: so expect Steve Hogarth on Hold Out Your Hand, Annie Haslam on Onward, Steve Stevens on South Side Of The Sky, Sonja Kristina on The Fish, etc. Or what about David Sancious, Steve Porcaro, Steve Hackett or more Yes connections with Tony Kaye?
Other songs present are the majestic The More We Live, Roundabout or a more surprising choice like Don’t Kill The Whale ( with Candice Night).
My version has 2 bonus tracks that include Squire himself, on bass on The Technical Divide (with Alan Parsons singing) and Comfortably Numb, where he sings and plays bass. The latter probably taken from an older Pink Floyd tribute album.

Anyway, Squire will always be a legend, and the music is timeless. No matter in whose rendition. So any fan will enjoy this tribute.

Rich Krieger, Nowthen, 2018

rich krueger - now thenLet me first confess I am not really an Americana expert. Still I think that Rich Krieger’s album Nowthen qualifies as such. And even when for me, this is a couple of songs too long (15 tracks and 74 minutes), I firmly believe that for the right people, this will be a very enjoyable release.

Also I guess that listeners who enjoy storytelling a lot (think Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen for reference), will admire the way Rich goes about. His high baritone singing surely adds to that.
Because of the variation in the musical landscape ( brass, violin, accordion, pedal steel. upright bass are amongst the instruments used, besides the more regular electric and acoustic guitars, bass, piano and drums) we can enjoy a plethora of moods. Taking into account this is done independently only makes me appreciate the effort even more. This has been done with 100% dedication and professionalism!

So even when the pun of Elisabeth (RePlease) is probably only really funny once, this seems to be an album that fans of the genre will applaud. Of course the lyrics and vocals take centre stage here, but the arrangements make sure you are taken along for the ride. Those lyrics can be found in the booklet by the way, so you can read along too.

Check this out of this is a genre you like. (and someone please tell me where that chord sequence in The Great War is from, it keeps slipping away from me)

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Karmamoi, The Day Is Done, 2018

karmamoi - the day is doneKarmamoi are an Italian prog rock band around the duo of Daniele Giovannoni (drums, keyboards and backing vocals) and  Alex Massari (guitars and backing vocals). Daniele wrote the music and lyrics are provided by singer Sara Rinaldi. The album is inspired by the tragedy of the Grenfell Tower fire. There are several people guesting on the album, of which Colin Edwards might be the most prominent one.

The mood of this album is already set with the opening title track.  It is a slow, and very emotional track. No wonder, as it is dedicated to the 2 Syrian refugees Omar and Mohammed, of which the latter died in the fire. The final solo abruptly coming to silence, is surely reflecting the tragedy.
Emotions keep running throughout the album, sometimes reminding me of Pink Floyd. This because of the tasty arrangements, with the guitar whispering or rocking out over the music. And lots of slow and mid-tempo tracks.
Besides the vocals of Sara and the guitar solos, another highlight is adding flute to the proceedings. As we all know, that alone qualifies this as a progressive album… 😉

All kidding aside, for me Karmamoi have managed to create a wonderful and emotional monument for a moment in time that should only be classified as horrific. As has been said many times before, sometimes the hard times provide the best inspiration. And inspired and inspiring this is for sure!

If you like this, also check their Odd Trip album.

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Snew, You’ve Got Some Nerve, 2018

Snew - You've got some nerveEven when this turns out to be their fourth album already, I must confess I had never heard of Snew before. And the fact that they released it independently, says absolutely nothing about the quality they have to offer. This is clearly an experienced bunch, operating somewhere between AC/DC, The Ramones, Deep Purple and Motley Crue.

Listening through these 9 tracks, I can imagine they win over every audience. Highly energetic, massive riffs, and bursting with attitude. Don’t let opener UR Freaking Me Out fool you into thinking they are a one trick pony. Tracks like Acetylene Queen, Put Upon  or Revolution Is A Closed Loop show they have more things going for them.

While I guess that haters will say they have heard it all before, personally I don’t always care for bands trying to be original. This is a hard rock band, and they know how to write a good tune that does not sound like a rip off. They also perform it like they mean business. Nothing wrong with wanting to party, and with the current state of affairs in the world, maybe we should have more bands like this.

So a damn solid album, and a band they will blow the roof off once they hit the stage.

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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.

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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…

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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.

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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!

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