About Me

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Born in the late 60's, Chesy hails from a Welsh mining village with a long name and was pretty glad when he got the Hell out of there. He got into Rock/Metal in about 1980, thanks to a TISWAS related incident (Rainbow video for All Night Long) and thankfully has never looked back. Chesy often sang solo in the school choir, but thanks to a puberty related incident his voice is now completely bolloxed, although in his own head Paul thinks he sounds like a blend of Coverdale and Dio (R.I.P). He was brought up on the classics - Deep Purple, Rainbow, Thin Lizzy, Rush, Whitesnake and loved melodic rock and the Hair Bands of the 80's. (Nowadays, he has progressed a little and prefers a more technical and/or progressive metal - Dream Theater, Rush, Symphony X, Porcupine Tree, Pain Of Salvation, Spock's Beard. He hates Black and Death Metal (can't stand the grunting) but for some unknown reason loves the magnificent Opeth! He wont stop this blog until his beloved FM finally play the likes of the NEC as a headlining act!!!

Thursday, 25 June 2020

Read Out Loud ' 'Read Out Loud' Album Review

Read Out Loud


If you’ve ever been to gigs across the North West, and especially the wonderful venue that is Eleven, there’s usually a guy in attendance that you know is a bit of a kindred spirit and looks the part like he should be in a band. Tim has had his talons into some very decent bands, such as Demon, Chrome Molly and probably the best tribute band I’ve ever witnessed, Limehouse Lizzy. The bloke has got some serious chops….and a black book to kill for.


If you’re going to do a debut album then why not drag in some great mates to join the party. First to be in on the act was Demon drummer Neil Ogden, then they enlisted the services of producer and Demon member Paul Hume (owner of Eleven), and the three laid down the basic tracks for the album. Once completed the final pieces of the jigsaw were made, with FM’s keyboard tinkler supreme, Jim Davis joining the ranks. And last, but by no means least the band is rounded out with Josh Williams. Before I’ve heard the album (apart from the live launch), I’m excited to listen to it as I’m expecting harmonies to die for as all the guys involved in Tim’s band can certainly sing.


‘Surrender’ opens up as bit like FM’s ‘Tough it Out’ with police sirens wailing, before an ‘ever so 80s’ sound that makes me go info a comfort zone of wonderfulness of bands like Only Child, Blue Murder et al……and as expected there’s harmonies a-plenty. Read has a gravel and gruffness to his tone that does not detract from the songs. I was expecting more polish in his style, but its a good contrast. Read delves deep into his musical influences - from the Valley Of The Kings/Kashmir/Judgment Day influenced  ‘Nowhere To Run’, to Down To Earth era Rainbow (oooh I love me a Hammond organ) ‘Close To You’, Theres a full red blooded high octane Malmsteen like ‘The Girl Is Trouble’, ‘Playing With Fire’ has undertones of April Wine’s classic ‘I Like To Rock’, only with more menace and thunder, and there’s the classy ‘In My Heart’. Six songs in and Read is cooking with gas!


If you ever wondered what it would sound like if Phil Lynott made a band with Steve Harris (Iron Lizzy?), the outcome is ‘Are You Out There?’  A good homage to a great guy. ‘Staring At The Sun’ is the ‘big’ track on the album for me, it has that Blackmore, Kotzev guitar with the underlying organ. As a big rainbow fan, it ticks a lot of boxes for me, and it is fab. ‘Talk To Me’ opens up like it could be metalised Abba! ‘Take No More From You’ pulls everyone in for a highlight of their talents. ‘You’re My Angel’s’ piano sound evokes Styx, and is the poppiest sounding song on the album. ‘Don’t Go’ is apt for a final song, as I found I wanted to listen to it all again.  This shows another side to Reads persona, it’s a ballad that screams ‘class’ from high and Read plays like one of his Lizzy cohorts Brian Robertson on the solo. Its a great ending for a great debut. I’ve changed my mind. THIS is the big song on the album!


I was VERY pleased with this cracking debut from Read. A mix of influences but with both his feet firmly planted in the golden era of rock. Unless Ive got it all wrong of course! Read has himself some great songs, pulled together one hell of a blackmail list of participants, and plays his part like any leader should. It’s not called ‘Read Out Loud’ for nothing. In fact it does exactly what it says on the tin. Only sing it loud!


In the current Covid-19 crisis it’s a difficult time for everyone, musicians in particular. If you can spare the money I can think of no better way of supporting the music we love and send some of it Read’s way. 


8/10


Surrender

Waiting For The Sun

Close To You

The Girl Is Trouble

Playing With Fire

In My Heart

Are You Out There?

Staring At The Sun

Talk To Me

Nowhere To Run

Take No More From You

You’re My Angel

Don’t Go




Sunday, 7 June 2020

Wicked Smile - 'Delirium' EP Review


Wicked Smile - EP 

Australian heavy rock band Wicked Smile will release their debut ep titled ‘Delirium’ on July 1st. 

The band is fronted by charismatic powerhouse lead vocalist Danny Cecati (ex Pegazus & Eyefear) with Stevie Janevski (The Radio Sun, ex Black Majesty) on guitars. The four song ep is produced by Paul Laine (The Defiants) who also plays bass and sings backing vocals on the ep. 

Danny and Stevie are no strangers to the world stage, having both toured around the world with their respective bands and performed at prestigious festivals such as Wacken Open Air, Masters Of Rock, Metal Universe, Hard Rock Hell, and Screamfest amongst others. The boys have released a whopping twenty- five full length albums combined. Match fitness? - Absolutely!!

Guitarist Stevie Janevski goes on to say, “because we’re a new band, we released our debut single ‘We Fall’, an in your face uptempo song to give everyone a taste of what we are about. It received such a fantastic response worldwide that people wanted to hear more right away. This was particularly pleasing to both Danny and I. We were both overwhelmed by the positive response. It was also fantastic to have so much support from Internet Radio who got behind us by playing our song, with some stations putting us on heavy rotation”.
Vocalist Danny says “I’ve really enjoyed putting my stamp on these songs. It’s allowed me to put my heart and soul into them and really capture the emotion of the lyrics. We cover important issues such as government and decision making in the song ‘We Fall’ and discuss the human state of mind in ‘Daze Of Delirium’. Another talking point is the track ‘Stronger’ which was written by Stevie to highlight the issue of bullying in schools and in society as a whole. 
We can’t wait to get out there and launch things in a live setting. Songs like ‘Love’s Got A Hold On You’ are going to sound huge. We’re going to be loud and proud!”

From the first few bars of ‘We Fall’ it’s what Ive been wanting (occasionally) from Stevie’s other band The Radio Sun. I knew he had ‘more metal’ in him, it just needed a likewise parter to bring it out. It blazes with an 80s style riff, and oh my God has he got a fine singer to deliver the vocals in Danny Cecati. Ive only heard a didgeridoo once on a record and that was Cryptex, but fair play in opening with an Aussie musical instrument. The chorus on the other hand is very European, like Avantasia. It’s a very good start. ‘Stronger’ digs deep into a Judas Priest vibe only with better harmonies. Its driven foremost my Janevskis metal riff, and its a song about Steves daughter Cassidy getting bullied. Well I guess they have both stuck two fingers up to the bullies, and is a great message for anyone you use for their armour. Stevie and myself both have a love of Rainbow, and I wonder if there’s a bit of ‘Man On The Silver Mountain’ coming into play for the riff of ’Love’s Got A Hold On You’ ?  It’s a bit lighter than the other two but that doesn’t mean its any less effective, and have a very catchy and immediacy remembered chorus. Well done Ritchie, I mean Stevie! Finally, it’s ‘Daze Of Delrium’ again delivery a driving, pulsating beat, with some great backing vocals (all courtesy of Paul Laine). Laine also weighs in with bass on all four songs , and produced it, with catering by Bruno Ravel


I wasn’t too sure what to expect as Im so used to The radio Sun, but Stevie and Danny have definitely pulled a massive rabbit out of the hat. Its four infectious songs all delivered in an 80s vibe that RAWK. 


If this is an entree for what’s to come, then my appetite is well and truly whetted! Bring it on

Score 8.5/10

Wicked Smile Are 
Stevie Janevski - Guitar
Danny Cecati - Vocals

Additional musicians
Paul Laine - Bass and BVs
TBR - Drums






Contact Wicked Smile

Email : wickedsmileband@outlook.com 
YouTube : Wicked Smile (please subscribe)
Merchandise : official merchandise available via : https://store21429008.ecwid.com/

Saturday, 6 June 2020

Cryptex - 'One Upon A Time' Album Review

 
Cryptex - Once Upon A Time

You know that feeling you get when you go and see a band, but have no idea who the support act is, then get completely blown away by said support band. Well Cryptex was one such surprise back in 2012. A very nice surprise, in fact. I was reviewing and interviewing Pain Of Salvation for another site, and thankfully made it just in time to see Cryptex perform. There was nothing ‘normal’ about these three guys, and it made for one the best gigs of the year.

To describe them is like trying to decide which one of your two children is the favourite! As a bit of a broad example, think Meat Loaf, crossed with Jethro Tull and they made up the threesome with Queen, or Coheed and you might be getting somewhere close. They also look as if they might be the offspring of Fraggle Rock and a Tim Burton movie. Even with all this comparing, there’s still no one quite like Cryptex.

To call Cryptex a rock band is like calling Queen a bit ‘glam’. Like Queen, there’s a lot more going on with Cryptex than a run of the mill band. Sure, there are couple of downright heavy songs in ‘Reptiles‘ and ‘The Promise Keeper‘, where Mertens lets rip with some serious riffage. Most if not all of the ideas come from Simon Moskon. And it’s his vocals, and piano playing that come right to the fore.  It's a big smorgasbord of ideas all clashing and colliding like the CERN particle accelerator, sometimes in just one song. How he puts it all down into a song only he knows, but the songs range from progressive (but not in a snotty prog rock way), but in pushing the envelope, to theatrical, to pomp. It took me about four songs to realise that there is hardly a guitar solo in sight, I was swept up in the storytelling and emotion to care about a traditional guitar solo. That’s what I like about Cryptex. Theres no ‘ tradition’, theres no formula. Rules, formulas and tradition are ripped up and spat out, and are all broken.

‘Once Upon A Time’ is a belting opener, with a pulsating bridge, before a gospel/choral choir style chorus. ‘Because The Reason Is You’ is folky at the off before expanding outwards into porosity and grandeur. ‘Bloodmoon’ is one of my favourites. One of the few 5min plus songs it really shows Cryptex at their finest moments, Moskon builds the tempo from his piano, with some wonderful harmonies and a great riff from Mertens. Also I feel that Simon Schroders drumming is carefully placed, and intricate. It is fair to say that Cryptex throw in the kitchen sink with regularity, but in this instance, it’s the sink, fridge, washing machine, and the mix coming out the other end is lovely. Mid ‘Body Language’ we get a bit of Moskon’s narrative, and it’s not on the side of parody, but Tenacious D almost came to mind.

‘Two Horned Crown’ errs on the side of bands like Epica, Avantasia and Nightwish, again with some great layered vocals and harmonies. Greta Leona Hasenberg adds contrast to Moskon’s vocals on the middle eastern sounding ‘Haunted’. ‘Reptiles’ is the other long number, and it opens with a Tremonti style riff. It also highlights why the Cryptex harmonies are so good as also taking on lead vocals is Mertens, a pretty useful singer in his own right. Andrejkovits weighing in with BV prove Cryptex are not to be messed with. It is probably the closest to the term ‘prog’ as they come. I tell a lie, its the one song with a guitar solo, a song where you don’t know where exactly it is going, but that make it part of the fun. ‘I Dont Know Why’ is where musical theatre meets Jethro Tull, with a nice electric piano refrain, and is another example of their diversity in a single song. ‘The Promise Keeper’ is an out and out rock song for the guys, and prove they can rock it out when the desire takes them. 

‘I See It In Your Eyes’ is mainly Moskon and his piano. Its a reflective, and sombre piece. It even ends with whistling, which in itself is haunting and poignant. Who’s have thought it? ‘Leaving’ is the final track, and it’s a spoken word that Simon Moskon narrates with dramatic effect. It builds into a crescendo over the second half, and is quite atmospheric. Then ends. Suddenly. It leaves you wanting more, so I'll add the bonus track which isn’t on my vinyl, ‘Closer’ which is definitely in the realm of bands like Porcupine Tree and Pain Of Salvation. It would have been a highlight of a (excuse the pun)….’Closer’ had it been included.

‘Once Upon A Time’ isn’t the most accessible album you will hear this year, but if you open your ears and your mind to these guys then a world of delights await you. I promise you. Cryptex are my favourite three piece this side of Rush.


Score 9/10

Review by Paul Chesworth

Cryptex are 
Simon Moskon - Lead Vocals / Piano & Keys
André Jean Henri Mertens - Guitars and Background Vocals
Marc Andrejkovits - Bass & Background Vocals

Simon Schröder - Drums & Percussion

Tracklisting
Once Upon A time
Because The reason Is You
Bloodmoon
Body Language
Two Horned Crown
Haunted
Reptiles
I Don’t Know Why
The Promise Keeper
I See It In Your Eyes
A Mo(u)rning
Leaving

Bonus track - Closer

Thursday, 28 May 2020

Vega - 'Grit Your Teeth' Album Review


VEGA’s sixth album, “Grit Your Teeth” will be released on June 12th, 2020 and according to the PR bumf, is set to “blow the roof off”. Working with “The Graves Brothers” (Asking Alexandria, Funeral for Friend, The Family Ruin), they’ve pulled out all the stops, disconnected the brakes, and produced their biggest songs for their biggest sounding album yet. Theirs is a brand of music that is as rewarding as it is challenging. This is not the end, but the beginning of an exciting new chapter in the history of Vega.

They’ve toured over the years with Skid Row, Last in Line, FM, Magnum, Joe Elliott’s Down and Outz, Dan Reed Network, and have had festival appearances at DOWNLOAD, Planet Rockstock, Steelhouse, HRH AOR, Rockingham, and the Frontiers Rock Festival in Milan, that have all gone into shaping them into one of the UK’s finest melodic rock bands. The fact that they are not more widely recognised is more down to bad luck than anything else, as anyone that has witnessed them live recently will testify. 
VEGA’s members have a rich history, including stints with Kick, Sugartown, and Paul Dianno, but it was their meeting of musical minds back in 2009 that would lead to the melodic rock genre receiving one of the finest releases of that year in the form of their debut album, “Kiss Of Life”.

I think Vega are a bit of a marmite band. I asked recently if one of the other guys would like to review them as it’s always been me, and I wasn’t exactly met with enthusiasm from any of them. After many cracking albums, I must admit that I’ve expected them to kick on a bit. But even gigs the last few years have been poorly attended, and I cant put my finger on it as when faced with an audience like HRH etc, they go down a storm. And rightly so.

So what do we have with ‘GYT’?

Well, on first inspection I’m met with a certain amount of moistness in the nether regions. I don’t know if it’s a concerted effort from the Vegaboys, or if it’s a combination of the partnership with the brothers Graves. Although for me, not knowing who they are at all (Graves Bros - sounds like a removal firm!), I will put it down to a combination of efforts. 

With ‘Blind’, Vega jump out of the starting blocks like a stabbed rat with a fire cracker shoved up its arse. There’s a certain amount of vim and vigour that’s being applied, still maintaining the strong melody, but with a bit of welly. ‘(I Don’t Need) Perfection’ proves that the opener is not just a one off. There’s a substance and style here that shows that Vega mean big business with a capital B.I.G. The melodic sensibilities are still there for the fans that expect the anthems, but they are proving that this crocodile definitely has bite! In fact its probably the best Nick Workman has sounded (and he always sounded good!). Title track ‘Grit Your Teeth’ is a stormer, and Jon Bon Jovi should be getting on the phone begging to cover this. No one does anthems like Vega! ‘Man On A Mission’ has a southern drawl opening line before evoking latter day Shinedown, and that’s not a bad comparison to make. ‘Don't Fool Yourself Again’ is probably the best song on the album. It’s a very infectious number, and I strongly suggest you check out the video below, because if you don’t like this, then there is no hope….


‘Consequence….’ Digs deep into the 80s for a Tears For Fears ‘Mad World’ influenced section that I’m sure people of my age will pick up on instantly. ‘This Ones For You’ is yet another positive track, and ‘Battles Ain’t A War’ is a ballad of sorts and is nicely layered and assembled. It’s a very cool track, and I particularly think Thurston’s playing on this is exceptional. Before you know it we are at the sharp end, and there’s still no slack on the horizon - ‘Save Me From Myself’ airs on the side of pop and deserves mainstream radio play; the positive and uplifting ‘How We Live’, and finally ‘Done With Me’  is short, snappy, punchy and rounds of a sterling performance.

I’m not going to single anyone in particular out as all the guys are on VERY top form. A new bar has been set for 2020 and any competition to the Vega throne will need to up their game. ‘The Vega is dead. Long live the Vega’

Could this be the one? I’d certainly like to think so. It’s all anthems and I expected nothing less. It’s such a great listen, that I needed a good old rest at the end as I got cramp in my hand for singing into Gills hairbrush for the whole album.

For me, it’s mainly about the melody, then the lyrics, but without the melody you have nothing. Thankfully Vega get their melody delivered by the truckload. With previous albums not being embraced as they probably should be a (much) wider audience, I was wondering what the next chapter would be in Vega’s history. In the case of ‘Grit Your Teeth’ the new chapter is a blockbuster. If you hanker for the glory days of Leppard and Bon Jovi, look no further, as this is the album JBJ and Elliott would love to be able to make.

9/10       The best album of 2020 so far. I’m leaving room for further listens.

Tracklisting
Blind
(I Don’t Need) Perfection
Grit Your Teeth
Man On A Mission
Don’t Fool Yourself
Consequence Of Having A Heart
This One’s For You
Battles Ain’t A War
Save Me From Yourself
How We Live
Done with Me

Released - 12th June


Tuesday, 26 May 2020

McStine & Minnemann - 'S/T' Album Review


 McStine & Minnemann - S/T

McStine & Minnemann is a new band consisting of Randy McStine (Lo-Fi Resistance) and Marco Minnemann (The Aristocrats). Pre-orders for their debut album began on Friday May 1st, along with the release of their first single “Program” and its brand new music video. See further below.

The duo initially met in 2018 while working with other artists, but as they discovered their shared passion for an assortment of Rock, Pop, and Punk artists, they decided to embark on a collaborative project together. Although McStine and Minnemann initially set out to record an EP, they quickly shifted to making an album as their musical ideas and chemistry flourished. 

Im a (sort of) fan of both people here. I first came to notice Minnemenn when he auditioned for the vacant Dream Theater position - I thought his was the best audition; and I love the Lo-Fi Resistance album ‘A Deep Breath’ (I know that there are more. ADB is my favourite of them). I never thought a collaboration of the two would be on the cards, as I think Minnemann is more of a technical drummer and think of him more of a proggy kind of member in bands like The Mute Gods, The Sea Within, and Levin Minnemann Rudess. And his splendid work with one of my all-time favourite artistes, Steven Wilson.

Let just say that both of these guys have a bit of form, therefore I suppose it shouldn’t be much of a surprise that they got together, should it, Paul?

If ‘all over the place’ is a musical style, then opener ‘Program” falls into this style, in a good ‘all over the place’ kind of way. It chops and changes from rhythmic drumming, clanging guitar work, and overlaid with McStines vocals, ranging from prog to pop in a matter of a single line. Its part Queen, Rush, ELO and everything in-between. They certainly won’t get pigeon-holed, that’s for certain. ‘Falling From Grace’ kicks off with a drill, clanging, and a pulsating bass and guitar riff, with some eclectic, and choppy vocal phrasing. It's the kind of song people won’t be having as a first dance at a wedding, put it that way. Its a strange listen at first, but it definitely plants seeds as there’s a hell of a lot to take in with just a single listen. I'm sure at one point, someone is playing a 1960s boiled egg slicer! ‘Your Offenses’ (thankfully) gives my mind and ears a rest, and it is more of a ‘standard’ song, if that description applies to McStine & Minneman. It’s a very prog/pop song with some cracking drumming and guitar work. ‘Catrina’ gets us back on the ‘eclectic’ road. It’s definitely a challenging listen so far, but there’s enough going on to make me think ‘WTF?’, and I really like the tone of McStines vocals. ‘Top Of The Bucket’ again is more of a ‘sensible’ offering from Marco and randy, as in it is not that mental. ‘Tear The Walls Down’ is traditional, as in its Pantera jamming with Rush, but with Dream Theater's singer (it isn’t by the way, it just sounds like LaBrie). It is my second favourite of the album so far after ‘Your Offenses’ (I’m offended by the non English spelling of ‘offences’).


‘Fly’ pulsates along on a grabbing base and synthesiser and is definitely an ear worm in the making. ‘Activate’ is another song that makes the album worthwhile for my more melodic sensibilities. ‘The Closer’ starts like a ballad, piano and layered vocals. I’m expecting a change in tempo, and the change is…..nothing, just a piano, lap steel guitar and vocals. Its rather nice. Quickly we are onto the final track ‘Voyager’, a darker song that only Minnemann and McStine can meld dark and dirty riffing with Beatles/ELO style harmonies! This typifies the album in one song.

In conclusion…..

If you remember that period that Tom and Jerry’s studio did when they tried to save money and went to Gene Deitch in the Czech Republic in 1961/62? Well the music is like that. Its two blokes with a love of time changes, ambient sounds, progressive boundary pushing, with some pop/pock melody interspersed with some great (and strange) playing! And a bit of noise thrown in for good measure.I am sure they will think different to me (a heathen).

The songs are all quite short which is something I found appealing, because if they were in the ‘prog’ mould of being 10-15mins long, I think I’d have given up the ghost long ago. I think that if you love the outer reaches of prog then you will love this. Or if you’re off your tits (or anywhere in-between the two come to think of it). I have to admit that I found it challenging, but Ive still ordered it, if that makes any sense. 

OK, all those bands that brought me here - Lo-Fi, The Sea Within, Steven Wilson, The Mute Gods, well…most of it is nothing like any of that. But….for ‘Your Offenses’, ‘Program’, ‘Activate’, ‘Tear The Walls Down’, ‘The Closer’ and ‘Voyager’ alone are worth the 7.5 score. The rest I am hoping will grow on me.

7.5/10

Tracklisting
Program
Falling From Grace
Your Offenses
Catrina
Top Of The Bucket
Tear The Walls Down
Fly 
Activate
The Closer
Vogager


Pre-Orders for McStine & Minnemann are now available on Bandcamp with several packages to choose from - PRE-ORDER HERE NOW

$8 Digital Download
$13 CD + digital download (shipping exc.)
$25 ‘Deluxe Version’ CD + digital download (shipping exc.) with exclusive bonus content -
          Private stream release of 1 new song per week (every Friday) from May 1st to July 3rd (in order of album sequence), as well as a Randy/Marco commentary track and Marco drum playthrough video per song

A Limited Edition Vinyl version is also available - PRE-ORDER HERE NOW

Friday, 22 May 2020

Dennis DeYoung -‘26 East: Volume 1’ Review

It was the novelty of the world’s first laser etched single, “The Best of Times”, which first drew my attention to Styx. From the moment the needle hit the record, I was well and truly hooked. The singer of that song was Dennis DeYoung, who together with his band mates, made up of one of the most successful American rock bands of the era.

There are, therefore, two ways to approach a new album by Dennis DeYoung – the first is as a solo performer and the second is as a former member Styx. DeYoung is rightly proud of his legacy of Styx music, and his solo work is faultless to a tee, but there is always bound to be some crossover in the subconscious mind unless you have no prior knowledge of the history.

So, what was I to expect from DeYoung’s first studio offering in 13 years: “26 East: Volume 1”?

The opening cut, “East of Midnight”, is a promising start to the album with a fanfare most beloved by the Pomp Rock brigade! The chugging autobiographic verses lead into a trademark Stygian chorus and an instrumental section which includes dual lead guitars, a church organ and synth solos! This is prime-time DeYoung!

“With All Due Respect” continues the theme of “Turn off CNN” from his previous album “One Hundred Years From Now” although the vitriol this time seems more evenly matched against both left and right-wing media channels.

DeYoung’s ear for effective light and shade gives us some of the album’s best moments, notably with the superb “A Kingdom Ablaze” with its eerily atmospheric introduction morphing into a dynamic rocker with a memorable hook.

The inevitable romantic ballad comes in the form of “You My Love”, and as much maligned as he has been for the likes of “Babe” and “First Time”, you have to give the man credit - he really does write a great love song!

“Run For The Roses” and “The Promise Of This Land” showcase DeYoung’s versatility as a songwriter and performer, harking back to theatrical style and vocal delivery employed on his mid-nineties “10 on Broadway” and “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” albums.

Opening in a light mood, “Unbroken”, lopes into an uplifting harmony-laden chorus while “Damn That Dream” exhibits a series of attractive musical facets and clever lyrics as it runs its course.

The infectious, celebratory tone of “To The Good Old Days”, a duet with Julian Lennon, is a big highlight. The more you listen, the more you enjoy and appreciate what’s going on here! It will never replace “Come Sail Away” in the concert set-list, but be sure that your lighter is fully loaded with fuel, or at least that your cell phone battery now has enough power to last for two songs! It’s almost forty years since he toured on this side of the pond - let’s hope European audiences get the opportunity to witness this great performer again before he calls time.

The album’s closing song, “A.D. 2020” retreads old ground using a familiar musical theme from the “Paradise Theatre” album but this time it’s far more impacting. Knowing that DeYoung said that this was going to be his last album, this becomes far more personal, and it’s sad ...

This album brings his career full circle. The album title “26 East” is the address in Roseland on the south side of Chicago where the genesis of Styx began in 1962 with a band called Tradewinds which he formed with twins John and Chuck Panozzo who lived just across the street. At the group’s inception, Dennis played the accordion. When you know the history, hearing him play one on “A.D. 2020” this song makes it all the more poignant.

Thankfully, so much material had been written, Serafino Perugino, CEO of Frontiers Music, suggested splitting it between two albums, hence “26 East: Volume 1” – so we can now all anticipate what Volume 2 holds in store – personally, I can’t wait to hear it!

8.5/10

Tracklisting:
East Of Midnight
With All Due Respect
A Kingdom Ablaze
You My Love
Run For The Roses
Damn That Dream
Unbroken
The Promise Of This Land
To The Good Old Days
A.D. 2020

Thursday, 21 May 2020

Room Experience - 'Another Time And Place' Review


Room Experience - Another Time And Place

This Friday sees the release of the sophomore album from Room Experience, more of those pesky Italians single handedly (as a nation) trying to keep melodic rocks flame burning - not as a flicker, but a full on Gas Mark 9. It’s still the brain child of Gianluca Firmo, who again plays keys, BV’s and has one song of his own to sing (Euro bonus track), and he has blackmailed his friends for another outing of melodic mayhem. Back in the hot seat is David Readman, and he is a fine choice of vocalist for any project. Also along for the ride again are Davide Barbieri (keys and BVs), Steve De Biasi (guitars), Pierpaolo Monti (drums) and noob to the set up, Simon Dredo (bass)


There’s also a hosts of guest itching to get involved, such as Ivan Gonzalez, Sven Larsson, Stefano Zeni, Chitarra Matteo Serra, Lorenzo Fodda, Marcello Sperra, and no Italian project would be complete without the addition of Alessandro Del Vecchio.

I think the title of the album (Another Place And Time) is obviously a nod to days gone by where an album project like this would probably have been lapped up had it been 1986, but unfortunately those days are long gone. Even now (May) and the rest of the year will be a completely different time to what it was in February. We are in strange times indeed. Thankfully people are still producing music even if gigging is off the table for the time being. At least more of us are sitting at home able to listen and discover bands like Room Experience. A couple of years down the line, the name still hasn’t grown on me!

Take note other bands to up your game, the PR info that was issued with this album states that Room Experience is powered by Blåkläder Workwear. (I wonder if spandex and leg warmers are considered as workwear?). I expect Vega to respond and announce a deal with ‘Betty’s’

Anyway, onto the frivolity that is ‘APAT’. I’ve only had the chance to listen to it a couple of times and there’s some good stuff going on here. ‘Hear Another Song’ is a powerful opener. I was expecting to be overladen with layered keyboards, but its not the case here as is very much a pulsating rocker. ‘Wild Heart’ goes very much for the 80s keyboard style opening intro and settles into its groove. There a good enough mix of songs to keep the listener entertained - from the power ballads ‘The Distance’, ‘A Thousand Lands’ and the closer which is very Gary Moore guitar influenced, ‘Your Voice Inside’; uplifting ‘The Night Goes On’; strong choruses in ‘Disappointed’, and ‘The Miles That Make A Road’, and my personal favourites the 80s style powerful rockers ‘A Thousand Lies’, Another Place And Time’, ‘Shout’ and ‘Hear Another Song’.

All in all its a good album, the paying is strong, Readman is a good choice for handling vocals, the guitar playing is excellent, and production polished, but not overly. Theres not a great deal to cheer us all up presently, but albums like this certainly can lift your spirits. Its nice for them to include a European bonus track for once, instead of the Japanese hogging the market!

7.5/10

Tracklisting

Hear Another Song
Wild Heart
Disappointed
Strangers In The Night
The Distance
Shout
Another Place And Time
The Miles That Make A Road
The Night Goes On
A Thousand Lies
Your Voice Inside
The Distance (Lead Vocals Gianluca Firmo - European Bonus Track)

Saturday, 16 May 2020

McStine & Minnemann new single “Program”

MCSTINE & MINNEMANN

“PROGRAM” – THE FIRST SINGLE FROM THEIR DEBUT ALBUM – VIDEO NOW ONLINE

PRE-ORDERS AVAILABLE NOW – OFFICIAL ALBUM RELEASE ON JULY 3RD 2020

McStine & Minnemann is a new band consisting of Randy McStine (Lo-Fi Resistance) and Marco Minnemann (The Aristocrats). Pre-orders for their debut album began on Friday May 1st, along with the release of their first single “Program” and its brand new music video.

The duo initially met in 2018 while working with other artists, but as they discovered their shared passion for an assortment of Rock, Pop, and Punk artists, they decided to embark on a collaborative project together. Although McStine and Minnemann initially set out to record an EP, they quickly shifted to making an album as their musical ideas and chemistry flourished. 

The result of their self-titled debut, McStine & Minnemann, is a high-energy collection of ten compact, yet expansive Rock songs that sit well next to the likes of XTC, Mr. Bungle, The Knack, Queen, and Frank Zappa. As both men are prolific multi-instrumentalists and writers, they have created a space for each other to showcase their incomparable instrumental talents, while infusing them with an incredible mix of melodic and lyrical depth.



The first single from the album “Program” explores the impact of technology in the modern world, and the duo worked closely with videographer Christian Rios (who has also directed videos for Flying Colors and Sons of Apollo) to create an unique music video to represent the concept. Randy remembers: “I sent the song to Christian to gauge his interest in doing a music video for it, and he came back with a concept to have the whole thing feel as if our phones are communicating and directing us. The lyrics are somewhat abstract, but he picked up on a theme of tech addiction, which is something I think about often.”

“I first recorded ‘Program’ in 2013 but only started playing it again with my trio about a year ago” continues Randy. “And I thought this would be really great to do [with Marco] if we kick up the energy a bit and take it to a Devo-esque sound. I’m super excited about how it came out! The way Marco approached the instrumental section completely took it to a new level, making it very tight and rhythmic.”

Marco adds: “The whole track has a real driving energy to it and I think, as an album opener, it sets the stage for most of the musical elements that are to follow.”

McStine & Minnemann was produced by the duo, and mixed by Forrester Savell (Karnivool, SikTh). 

McStine & Minnemann Tracklist:

01. Program
02. Falling From Grace
03. Your Offenses
04. Catrina
05. Top Of The Bucket
06. Tear The Walls Down (No Memories)
07.  Fly
08. Activate
09. The Closer
10.  Voyager

Pre-Orders for McStine & Minnemann are now available on Bandcamp with several packages to choose from - PRE-ORDER HERE NOW

$8 Digital Download
$13 CD + digital download (shipping exc.)
$25 ‘Deluxe Version’ CD + digital download (shipping exc.) with exclusive bonus content -
          Private stream release of 1 new song per week (every Friday) from May 1st to July 3rd (in order of album sequence), as well as a Randy/Marco commentary track and Marco drum playthrough video per song

A Limited Edition Vinyl version is also available - PRE-ORDER HERE NOW

$25 Special limited 140 grams Collectors Vinyl Album, only 100 pressed

Follow McStine Minnemann:


10 MINUTE SAMPLER OF THE NEW ALBUM (Below)