- 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!!!
Friday, 22 May 2020
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!
East Of Midnight
With All Due Respect
A Kingdom Ablaze
You My Love
Run For The Roses
Damn That Dream
The Promise Of This Land
To The Good Old Days
Thursday, 21 May 2020
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!
Hear Another Song
Strangers In The Night
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
“PROGRAM” – THE FIRST SINGLE FROM THEIR DEBUT ALBUM – VIDEO NOW ONLINE
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:
02. Falling From Grace
03. Your Offenses
05. Top Of The Bucket
06. Tear The Walls Down (No Memories)
09. The Closer
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)
Tuesday, 5 May 2020
One Desire – Midnight Empire
A couple of things struck me, they were called One Desire just as some band called One Direction were still making it big in the world. Luckily they were nothing like One Direction. The second thing was that lead singer André Linman could not only sing well but had hair that a shampoo advert would die for.
Their 30 minute set was superb, tight and I was left well impressed. Sadly I missed out when a few mates went to see them in Finland, I’d have loved to see these lads on home soil.
And so I was lucky enough to get a link to the new album Midnight Empire. Actually lucky doesn’t cover it, I was blessed!
Shadowman – starts with a haunting recorded intro with crackles from the record it’s taken from before the music kicks in and it kicks in with style. A thumping driving beat, the vocals clear and the backing vocals full of menace as it builds to a great chorus. It’s full of energy, keyboards and atmosphere, it sets a standard. “The Shadow in the window hiding”…..
After You’re Gone – what a tune, it’s catchier than a pandemic (too soon?), it just drags you along with a massive smile on your face. Simply WOW! One Desire for me was this track not to end (see what I did there……). It’s definitely nods towards Eclipse which can never be bad thing in my opinion, totally love it, no wonder it was released to highlight the album.
Down and Dirty – completes a hat trick of 3 catchy melodic tracks of real style. Rather than Down and Dirty it’s more “Upbeat and Clean”. It’s got another great chorus and layered backing vocals that just simply work.
The vocals of André Linman complement the solos of Jimmy Westerlund superbly. The talent of both for me matches if not exceeds the original CD. I say CD because I’m old and still love a CD mainly to blast out in the car.
Godsent Extasy – Even though the title sounds like a dodgy porn channel it’s another track that hits you with another full on melodic rock cracker, key changes and continues the feel of the preceding tracks nicely.
Through the Fire – acoustic guitar start, vocals exposed and wonderfully haunting. What a beautiful slow burner this is. It grows into a magnificent atmospheric track, One Desire certainly aren’t a one trick pony. This takes them to another level. There’s a touch of Rush, a bit of Eclipse and the guitar solo at the end could only sound more magnificent if backed by an orchestra and choir. Sublime.
Heroes – another gentle build up that bursts into life. It fits in with the previous songs seamlessly. Again the musicianship is top.
Rio – a cracking ballad, the piano intro sets the tone, the vocals of André lead into a slow builder, by slow I don’t mean bad, they just let the song build and let the guitar solo take over in a note perfect way until Andre’s vocals end it beautifully.
Battlefield of Love – the way OD use an acoustic guitar to lead into a full-on electric high tempo piece makes their sound well, well just their own. A clever use of keyboards (which are across a lot of the tracks) just adds to the feel.
Killer Queen – another superb full on piece of Scandinavian rock – it zips, it’s not Queen but it’s still a royal song. Sorry, I’ll get my coat.
Only When I Breathe – the rain fall backdrop leads to a classic finish to what is a bloody decent album. Again it starts showcasing the vocals of Andre on top of a gentle guitar. A superb ballad again and the vocals are stunningly good. “Now it only hurts when I breathe”.
If you love melodic rock and especially with the Scandinavian feel then you won’t be disappointed, it’s a belter and the best I’ve had the pleasure to hear this year. I’ve not mentioned Ossi Sivula on drums and Jonas Kuhlberg on bass guitar but they are just as important to the sound because they just do their bit, no frills but 100% behind the whole sound. Also the use of keyboards just works perfectly.
In conclusion Midnight Empire is a little gem, the band deserve a much bigger audience. They were superb live and I can’t wait to see these songs with a large appreciative audience. Totally loved it with so many earworms in the CD. The faster stuff is immense but for me “Through The Fire” just hits every button although my favourite will always be After You’re Gone, up there with the best of Eclipse, HEAT and Perfect Plan, it is simply that good.
I would say check the band out live on their European tour with The Night Flight Orchestra in March 2020 but that won’t happen, instead buy this, dream and wait until they play Scotland, I’ll see you there, I’ll be big idiot with a smile on my face. They won’t disappoint.
One Desire – take a bow lads. Magnificent.
3. Down And Dirty
4. Godsent Extasy
5. Through The Fire
6. After You’ve Gone (Separate Ways)
7. Killer Queen
8. Was It Love?
9. Battlefield Of Love
Jimmy Westerlund – guitars
André Linman – lead vocals
Ossi Sivula – drums
Jonas Kuhlberg – bass guitar
Friday, 1 May 2020
FM - Synchronised
Its been a good 12-13 years since they returned for a headline gig at 2007s Firefest, and after the second-life release of ‘Metropolis’ in 2010 its been steady ahead and a consistent team for those onboard HMS FM. In fact, the output has been more prolific than it was and they are probably more in control of their destiny that at an other point since 1984, and has seen them grace stages they probably never thought was possible (Donington, Sweden Rock, and a long awaited debut in the US), and tours with luminaries such as Foreigner, Heart and Lizzy. Its a good time to be a fan!
For FM Part II, ‘Synchronized’ is this lines ups seventh studio release, their twelfth in total. It’s some going. If you’re a fan already then there’s a lot to like. ‘Synchronized’ is rightly the first song to be picked as a single, as its in the same vein as a ‘Blood and Gasoline’, ‘Tough Love’, ‘Tough it Out’ and fires along at a strong pace, led by Kirkpartick’s guitar and Davis’ keyboard. All of which is enveloped in Overlands vocals and the ‘gang of fives’ harmonies. It’s a cert for addition for the live shows. ‘Superstar’ is almost a departure for FM, its a mellow, pop-fuelled number that is certain of coverage on Radio 2 I suspect. I found it a bit too bland at first, but after a few spins it’s a definite grower, and more ‘one for the ladies’? I can already visage the video - filmed in Arizona (Blackpool) with a sweeping shot, (drone, not helicopter), followed by a top down Jag racing across Route 66 (A6). ‘Best Of Times’ follows on from ‘Superstar,’ and has a bit more vim and vigour, and without Overland singing his arse off, it would be average in any other hands. ‘Ghosts Of You And I’ is the first ballad, and its still very un-FM like. It’s not a bad thing, Im just taken a bit aback by the first few numbers being a shift from the norm. ‘Broken’ is upbeat and akin to what hit the Billboard charts mid-80s, and is ear candy of the highest order.
‘Change For The Better’ is a classy number and definitely channels Don Henley’s ‘Boys Of Summer’. ‘End Of Days’ goes for a ‘BIG’ sound from the off, with a nice ‘choppy’ guitar sound running through the whole song. ‘Pray’ sees Overland channeling his inner Sam Cooke and has all the hallmarks of a soulful/Blues STAX record from the 60s with a modern twist. It’s only missing a horns section and Steve ‘The Colonel’ Cropper, and it is a firm favourite for me. I.Loved. It. ‘Walk Through The Fire’ is bound to bring comparisons to Mr. Misters ‘Broken Wings’ thanks to Jem Davis’ ivory tinkling. It’s as 80s as a pair of Coverdale’s leg warmers and its all about the bridge and chorus, thus proving that the second half of ‘Synchronized’ is definitely on a roll.
‘Hell Or High Water’ is one of the heavier songs (in FMs world), it is built around the infectious chorus. ‘Angels Cried’ has a slide opening riff before settling into a bluesy, almost gospel ballad, with a side of Bon Jovi thrown in. Only, when BJ was good! Finally we are on to ‘Ready For Me’ is like FM of old, when every album or single had a B side like a Bad Company cover or BC inspired dong, and RFM is no exception and it finished the album on a positive.
Basically I take away my comment at the top of this review. Yes its a comfort for a new FM album, but it’s very different to anything they have put out before. That has thrown me a bit, which is both good, and also slightly puzzling to me. That in itself I think is a good thing, and that deserves a round of applause. It’s definitely a stronger period for me in the second half, as a few of the first half made me question if there was a pattern or new sound they were going after. It’s almost akin to when I heard SO for the first time. However, I’m positive that after many more listens, it will be a big hit with me. One thing is certain, Steve Overland never sounded so good.
No doubt Dave Ling will wank himself into a frenzy.
Best Of Times
Ghosts Of You And I
Change For The Better
End Of Days
Walk Through The Fire
Hell Or High Water
Ready For Me
Thursday, 30 April 2020
Sam Millar – Radio Gouda EP
I loved Sam Millar’s first EP Holy Sass, for me it was one of the best releases last year with a fresh sound and a break away from the heavier Bigfoot sound. With this in mind I was looking forward to hearing the second EP immensely.
Sam’s Facebook page – “Sam Millar – Music” has clips of Sam playing various covers and basically being, well, just Sam, mental, funny and well worth checking it out.
Radio Gouda – the intro is the sound of a radio being tuned with music fading in and out as the dial is turned before DJ Dairylea is found. He’s not right in the head I tell ya.
Human kicks things off in earnest, it starts with a staccato kind of guitar riff which leads up to Sam’s vocals kicking in. What has become clear is that Sammy can sing, he has a distinctive voice suited perfectly to the music he writes. Human is a great piece of soft rock, a catchy chorus and the obligatory Sam guitar solo. Again Sam’s guitar sound and solos are distinctive, the lad can play.
Forbidden is the first track to be released and it would have fitted in perfectly on the first EP in the sound and structure of the song (hark at me talking as if I’ve actually got a clue about music), the chorus is catchier than a STI and it’s 4 and half minutes of quality.
Let it Rain is a slower moodier track and leads with the vocals full of angst with keyboards providing a mellow undercurrent before the guitars come in and take over nicely. The choral middle section is a smart touch and complements the overall sound.
Sober kicks off with a guitar riff that definitely nods in the direction of “Why Can’t This Be Love” by Van Halen. It’s a sad song about trying to stop a break up “If it’s over say it’s over, I’ll believe it when you’re sober”. The chorus is haunting and the guitar solo is a belter, cool and considered.
Levi’s brings the EP to a rocking end, the most energetic and hi-energy track with a bit of Sammy humour chucked in for good measure singing about a cold shower at midnight.
So Radio Gouda is another belter from Sam, I loved the first one and this is as good if not better. It’s a lifetime away from the Bigfoot songs and cements Sam’s style as a solo artist. When you have a 5 track EP you can’t hide weak songs, well there aren’t any so that’s a result.
For a self-written and home produced EP it really is superb stuff, it’s melodic, thoughtful with a well-considered guitar solo on every track. I would hope that a label will pick this up and invest in giving the songs just that little bit of a polish.
I’m gutted that this bloody virus has stopped the Sam Millar and the Sass Bandits tour. I was going to Newcastle to see him and can’t tell you how much I was looking forward to seeing Sam do his thing with his own band. I didn’t ask for a refund, not because I’m kind but because it was free gig.
My advice is simple – Check out the Sam Millar – Music page and invest a couple of quid on a young talented artist who also happens to be a nice guy, you won’t regret it…..probably.
1. Radio Gouda
4. Let it Rain
REVIEW BY LAWRIE
Monday, 13 April 2020
Jase Old – Hemisphere
‘Hemisphere’ is the debut solo album from Jase Old. He of prolific Aussie rock band The Radio Sun and also Starchase. Its TRS where I first clapped eyes on them appearing at HRH AOR for something like 4 years on the trot. In case you’re wondering, he’s the one who usually wears pink and tells jokes.
Some bands have a definite ‘sound’ because of their vocalists. Jase is one such fellow. His voice is pretty distinctive. However, with Hemisphere, thats about to change. Take opening track ‘I Hope You Find The One’ which is a broody, and more emotional song to what you would hear from his day job. The phrasing is different with a bit of Richard Marx rasp and Myles Kennedy (YOTT) going on. It makes for a pretty good start. ‘Tell Me How To Mend A Broken Heart’ follows suit. Despite the jangly keyboard and synth, its honest songwriting wrenched from his experiences. ‘Take Me As I Am’ is a lighter number that is something you would hear on mainstream radio. The reins are off for Jason to roam into different styles.
‘And You’ is definitely from the Marx school of performing arts. Think emotional ballad, and its where we find Jase, opening up and bearing his soul for these songs. ‘Breaking Down The Lie’ is the Jase Old I like best, a song that has a good melody and is more pulsating and menacing. ‘You’re A Star’ is one of the stars on Hemispheres, anyone who rhymes ‘beautiful’ with ‘irrefutable’ gets my vote. ‘Love Is What You’re Looking For’ is old school pop-rock with a nice layered chorus that’s ELO-esque. The title track ‘Hemisphere’ has a lot going on. Its mainly acoustical with a prominent synth beat, but still with a drive and power, that picks up and leaves you wanting more, which is never a bad thing. On ‘One Life’ he sings ‘just give it all you’ve got, you may not get another shot, because there is only one life’. Quite apt. ‘Sometimes’ is on the heavier side of Jase’s style, and is a favourite. ‘Like It Used To Be’ is the closest Jase comes to TRS, which finishes the album on a positive and high note.
I have to say that there’s a lot to like on Jase’s debut. He has certainly mixed it up a bit, as there’s different styles, emotions, and more depth to the subject matter. The songs are varied enough and come at you thick and fast. Its something I want to see developed further as Jase Old definitely has something to say and a solo artist suits him. ‘Hemisphere’ is a very pleasant surprise. Obviously it will attract fans of The Radio Sun, but that’s where it ends. There’s only one song that didn’t resonate with me. The album gets better as you work your way through it, and deserves repeat playing. There’s certainly a few songs here that will end up on my ipad and that’s a tough selection process!!
A solid 7/10
I Hope You Find The One*
Tell Me How To Mend A Broken Heart*
Take Me As I Am
Breaking Down The Lie*
You’re A Star
Love Is What You’re Looking For
Like It Used To Be*
Released Friday 18th on all major streaming platforms