Monday, March 15, 2010

Review: Frontiers roundup - Treat, Crazy Lixx, Auras

Here we present a roundup of new hard rock and AOR releases coming soon from Frontiers Records.

Treat – “Coup de Grace”

True to their name, Treat is a treat…for the ears. The new CD from this Swedish melodic rock band comes out April 6 and will be called “Coup de Grace”. Any fan of catchy hard rock needs to mark their calendars for this one.

Treat’s acclaimed debut album “Scratch and Bite” was actually released 25 years ago, during the heyday for this type of music. 25 years later, “Coup de Grace” is their sixth effort, and it is a whopper. “Coup de Grace” is filled with one solid catchy rocker after enough. I can see myself going back to listen to this one time and time again. Older and wiser, the boys in the band embrace this and write intelligently about what dads and husbands with serious responsibilities might want to hear. Treat prove that a band can age gracefully and still rock the paint off the walls without singing about the same old tired themes of drinking, partying, and nailing groupies.

The record gets off to a bit of a questionable start, with a nondescript intro track and the first rocker, “The War Is Over” is less than memorable. But then you’d better hold on because the ride doesn’t let up with a long string of crunchy catchy tunes like “All In”, “Paper Tiger”, and “Roar”. “A Life To Die For” is a superb power ballad with a seductive chorus and glorious bridge that brings the best of Journey to mind. A CD stacked with so many great tunes up front usually fades away by the end, but not so with this one – the record ends on a climatic high note with “All For Love” and “Breathless”. As for favorites, my picks are “Paper Tiger”, “Heaven Can Wait”, and “No Way Without You”.

The band writes decent lyrics compared to most of their counterparts in this genre, unafraid to do politically charged songs. In this way, they remind me of White Lion, but other comparisons that come to mind include Europe and Firehouse at their rocking best. For those missing high-quality guitar and keyboard driven melodic rock of the late 80s, “Coup de Grace” is a treat indeed.

Coming soon - my interview with Nalley, the bassist for Treat!

iPOD-worthy: 3, 4, 5, 6, 9, 11, 12, 13, 14

Treat on MySpace. Official site.

Crazy Lixx – “New Religion”

Formerly considered "The New Wave of Swedish Sleaze", Crazy Lixx has now refined their sound to 80's influenced hard rock. They remind me of the style and caliber of the second-tier hairbands like Faster Pussycat, Kix, or Danger Danger. In fact, Danny Rexon’s vocals often remind me of Ted Poley. One strong-suit is that the guys can definitely write a bombastic chorus, with rich harmonies that will draw comparisons to the majestic choruses of Def Leppard. As you might expect for such a band, lyrics are generally about rock music, warning fathers to lock up their daughters, and partying like you’re still 21. Their sophomore CD, “New Religion” comes out April 6.

As a whole, “New Religion” is a decent listen all the way through, but not quite enough to stand out in the crowd yet. However, their potential to do so is revealed in highlights such as the groovy tribute to their genre, “My Medicine”, their ‘live for the day’ anthem, “21 ‘Til I Die”, and the catchy “Blame It On Love”. Crazy Lixx drop the party atmosphere on occasion to show a more serious side, such as when they sing about the horrors of child abuse within the church in “Children of the Cross”. The requisite power ballad is “What Of Our Love”, which is pretty good, but not stellar.

iPOD-worthy: 2, 3, 4, 6, 9

Crazy Lixx on MySpace. Official site.

Auras – “New Generation”

Auras is a Brazilian rock band influenced by Journey, Survivor, Toto, and Chicago. They were formed by Gui Oliver (lead vocals) and Ferpa Lacerda (guitars) in 2007, and got to meet their idol Jimi Jamison (Survivor) during a gig they played in their hometown of Curitiba. Jamison remarked that Auras songs took him back to the eighties and the reminded him of the great bands of that period. Just a few songs into “New Generation”, you are undoubtedly going to agree.

Full of songs about love, dreams, faith and hope, Auras are an AOR band to the core. The vocals sound a lot like Steve Perry (Journey), or at least Steve Augeri (Tall Stories, Journey)! Things get off to a great start with a trio of terrific melodic rockers in “Beauty of Dreams”, “Forgive and Forget”, and “Never Give Up”, any of which would have fit comfortably on the Karate Kid Soundtrack. The record then offers a number of good songs, but they just don’t have that something special that made the first three such a treat. A couple exceptions are the excellent “Forever In Your Eyes” and “Keep On Lovin’ You” (not an REO Speedwagon cover). I also really liked the interesting “That’s The Way Love Goes”, which is a unique track on the record serving to break things up to give the listener something a little different. It maintains a good sense of melody but has a marimba flavor that will make you think someone is calling you on your iPHONE.

“New Generation” is a solid debut and I trust that Auras is going to get even better and with time.

iPOD-worthy: 1, 2, 3, 7, 9, 10

Auras on MySpace. Official site.

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