Friday, July 30, 2010

Classic melodic rock CD of the week


By Stephen Kasenda

EUROPE "Europe" (1983)

If you only know Europe very well from their crucial award-winning "The Final Countdown", then it's wise to start backtracking their old catalogue as this eponymous debut marked the awakening of the mighty Swedish melodic metal giant, featuring the youthful aura and enthusiasm of singer Joey Tempest and guitarist John Norum. Europe opened the new chapter of their career by winning the local rock competition that sealed them a contract deal with Hot Records and also rewarded Best Singer and Guitarist Award respectively to both Tempest and Norum.

Early Europe's music is pure traditional heavy metal and you can listen to the evident tracks such as "In The Future To Come", "Farewell", "Children of This Time" or "Seven Doors Hotel". The latter mentioned song is their best track here and the first single that's successfully turned out as a huge hit in Japan. Other tracks that I like are: "The King Will Return", a typical 70s bluesy hard rock track, "Boyazont" that puts Norum at the spotlight with its killer shred, and a nice acoustical/keyboard power ballad, "Words of Wisdom".

The production is raw and not very good, and aside from a thin and quite sound, the album felt way too short. "Future" and "Hotel" are probably their most memorable tracks from this album, but you also can't miss several other underrated tracks that you can't get from a greatest hits collection. If you like classic hard rock or early 80s heavy metal, Europe's debut is a pleasant pick. Good start!

Read more of Stephen’s features at MetalMusicArchives.

Review: 8mm "Love and the Apocalypse" [EP]


Hot on the heels of their sweep of the International Indie Awards and national ads for Nip/Tuck and Yamaha, 8mm announce the release of their much-anticipated EP, "Love And The Apocalypse". The EP features six songs and is available at all major digital outlets. 8mm were founded by producer Sean Beavan (NIN, Marilyn Manson, No Doubt, Envy On The Coast), and his wife, Juliette, who has been described as Jessica Rabbit meets Billie Holiday.

Described as "The glamorous neo-noir love-child of David Lynch, Aimee Mann and Portishead", 8mm has been critically acclaimed and named as one of the Top Bands You Need To Know by Alternative Press and a Buzz Band by the LA Times; they've also been featured on Greys Anatomy, Kings, One Tree Hill, Cold Case, Moonlight, and the Mr. & Mrs. Smith soundtrack.

For those of you who haven't heard 8mm yet, you are missing out on some outstanding adult pop. The songs that grace this EP are mellow and soothing, but never boring. Juliette is a remarkable vocalist, with an angelic voice that floats gently into your ears. Even better, the voice is not wasted on banal pop songs, but is well supported by interesting melodies, contemplative lyrics, and plenty of gorgeous harmonies. We've featured a free download of their brilliant reworking of CCR's "Bad Moon Rising" before (get it here), which introduced you to the vocal talents in 8mm. The "Love and the Apocalypse" EP now proves to us that this duo can write some great original songs as well.

The EP begins with "Los Angeles", a terrific starter that sets the stage with a beautiful piano run to accompany the longing for home in Juliette's voice. The tune also features a great post-chorus guitar part with a rather unorthodox, haunting chord progression - very cool. "Never Go Back Again" is my favorite in the batch, a contemporary piece with a seductive hook in the chorus - a little Tasmin Archer meets Nina Gordon. A final tune I'll highlight is the reflective, laid-back "Life Is Good", which blows over your ears like breezy folk, interspersed with an equally breezy reggae bridge. With bands like 8mm, life is good indeed.

8mm on MySpace. Official site.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Powerpopaholic CD of The Week - Duncan Maitland

I am very excited to announce a new feature here at BMF. We're welcoming Aaron Kupferberg (from Powerpopaholic) as a contributor, who is going to tell us about some of the best new power pop records by way of his new audio review. This week's featured CD is Duncan Maitland "Lullabies For The 21st Century" - just click on the video below and enjoy!

video

Read Aaron's Powerpopaholic review here.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

News: Help Bleu with his new CD "Four"


Bleu (reviewed here) is preparing his latest CD, "Four". You can go check out cool album previews, pre-order the CD, and donate to its cause here at the Kickstarter campaign. Check it out today and help make what promises to be another milestone in pop rock music come to light.

FROM BLEU:

hellO,

...thank you so much for visiting my Kickstarter page...i've been working hard on my new record "FOUR" for several years now and i'm oh-so-very psyched to finally get it out in to the worLd....

..the duckets that you donate here will not only get you a whole slew-mess of neato (mosquito) stuff, offering you the best of my (only) talents (such as...my new CD!, a concert in your home, songwriting, dinner cooked by me, or even a full recording-session), your support will allow me to distribute my new record "FOUR" and work with PR companies that can help my music reach more people like you..which will in-turn allow me to make mOre records, mOre often...

....every bit of your contributions will go directly to the distribution and promotion of this record (even the tiniest donations help...)...but if i don't reach my modest goal, the Kickstarter-program doesn't disperse any of the money.....so please, give what you can, so that we can, do, what we, cAN!....(and please help me spread the word to your family and friends who like music!)

...you guys have given me so much over the years..honestly..i would probably not still be making solo-records if it wasn't for all the love and support you've thrown my way...it truly means the worLd to me...i think this is a really exciting time to be making records for, and releasing records directly to...you......programs like Kickstarter will allow us to collaborate, and work towards a common goal...

..i thank you from the deepest-bottom of my weird little heart for sticking with me, and joining me on this wonderful journey....

xo,
-bleu

p.s. this is indeed my dad...and me...when i was 4:

LISTEN to most of "Four" on SoundCloud

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Review: Luke Wesley "Because We Never Talk About It"

It is not all that easy finding piano songs that rock out these days. Luke Wesley is poised to change all that with his remarkably enjoyable debut, "Because We Never Talk About It". Born and raised in Shelby, Ohio, Wesley is now heating up the singer/songwriter scene in New York.

"Because We Never Talk About It" is an infectious pop rock record, plain and simple. Wesley knows how to draw the listener in with catchy piano beats and witty lyrics. He has great instincts for pop and strives to place a tantalizing hook in each song he puts to tape. It is easy to compare him to legends like Billy Joel or Elton John, but there is an air about Wesley that will draw comparisons to Ben Folds as well. His vocals are clear and warm, somewhere between Marc Cohn and Will Hoge.

The songs on "Because We Never Talk About It" are generally upbeat and bouncy, virtually guaranteed to place you in a brighter mood. Wesley wanted to capture his energetic live sound and I think it obvious that has been achieved. The lyrics shoot from the hip, and Wesley succeeds in articulating the honesty that many of us would if we had the courage, often with clever tongue-in-cheek humor. There are many highlights, but for me the cream of the crop include "Pretty Boy", "Here Is Your Ballad", and "Sorry I'm Not Hotter".

A solid piano pop rock record, "Because We Never Talk About It" is a most impressive debut - this CD is going to monopolize my player for months to come. The album was released on June 1, 2010 by Engine Room Recordings. Don't miss it if you like Ben Folds, Josh Fix, or The Fray.

iPOD-worthy: 1, 2, 4, 6, 8, 10

Luke Wesley on MySpace. Official site.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Rare CD: Logan “One Step Closer”


"LOGAN “One Step Closer” CD. Logan International 1992 / 6 tracks. Incredibly good HARD/GLAM album released in 1992 by this fantastic band from Hostoun-Texas/USA. The sound quality is excelent, all the six songs are powerful and solid, in the same style as early Lillian Axe (Johnny Logan was the first L.A.´s vocalist) Joker (US), Erotic Suicide, Raquel, Dirty Blond and Child´s Play. One of the best Hard/Glam indies out there today, only a few hundred were pressed independently. This fantastic indie is disputed by many, another hyper rare cd."

Sold for $111.27 on ebay.

Rare CD: Sam Harris


"SAM HARRIS (Star Search Grand Champion) Self-Titled Original 1984 CD release

This SUPER RARE and LONG OUT-OF-PRINT CD is in Excellent Playable Condition. CD is Not A Cut-Out. Genuine Made in U.S.A.

This CD includes the Billboard Hot 100 Singles Top 40 Chart hit: "Sugar Don't Bite" in 1984

Track Listings:
1. Out Of Control (3:41)
2. Sugar Don't Bite (4:04)
3. I've Heard It All Before (4:13)
4. Hearts On Fire (4:25)
5. I Will Not Wait For You (4:20)
6. Pretender (3:22)
7. Don't Look In My Eyes (4:08)
8. You Keep Me Hangin' On (4:49)
9. Inside Of Me (5:52)
10. Over The Rainbow (3:01)

CD made by Motown (c) 1984 catalog #MCD06103MD UPC #05010-96103-2
A must own for Sam Harris fans and RARE CD Collectors!"

Sold for $129.99 on ebay.

Rare CD: Bret Michaels "Country Demos"


"BRET MICHAELS
Country Demos
original CD
from 2000
On Poorboy Records / Bret Michaels Entertainment

VERY RARE!

Tracks:
Future Ex-Wife, Hot Dang Mama, The Other Side of Me, The One You Get, Like I Do I Do, Play One For Me"

Sold for $133.50 on ebay.

Rare CD: Stallion “Stallion”


"STALLION “Stallion” CD. Self-Released by the band 1997/ 11 tracks. If you never listened this obscure band from Germany, you are losing a great piece of MELODIC HARD-METAL. Excelent and well structured melodic and powerful songs from the first tracks until the end, the sound is a mixture of the best typical german bands like Accept (“Eat the Heat” era), Jaded Heart, Reward, Steeler, Boysvoice and Crack Jaw"

Sold for $151.50 on ebay.

Rare CD: SAFIRE “Safire”


"SAFIRE “Safire” CD. Self-released by the band 1995/6 tracks. Superspecial aussie MELODIC HARD ROCK indie cd released independently by the band in 1995 in very limited number. In my opinion one of the top 10 MHR indies ever released, ideal for fans of ultra melodic hard rock similar to HotBoy, Touris, Xavier, Friction, Sinnocence, Ship of Dreams and Adrian Dodz. Very catchy album with a powerful voice, marvellous choruses, tremendous guitar/bass work, excelent drums, nice keyboards, and an amazing production for an indie. Absolutely recommended, an obligatory item to any good collection. Very rare cd!!"

Sold for $167.50 on ebay.

Rare CD :Thyme "Luna Beam"


"BAND : THYME
TITLE : LUNA BEAM
LABEL: SMALL INDIE LABEL

HERE YOU GUYS GO NEVER HEARD OF THIS HAVE YOU? THYME IS A GREAT INDIE BAND FROM THE USA THAT PLAYS CATCHY MELODIC HARD ROCK . CD WAS SELF PRODUCED AND IS ROCKER FROM START TO FINISH . CD HAS 10 KILLER TRACKS... MAKE YOUR BID COUNT AS IT WILL NEVER BE SEEN AGAIN AND THIS IS MY ONLY COPY AND IT IS STILL SEALED

Fans of THE MOVIES / FOXX / NVS / BRONX ZOO / SGT ROXX / MATI HARI / FIRE DEPT..... CD IS STILL SEALED"

Sold for $202.49 on ebay.

Rare CD: Roman Holliday "Fire Me Up"


"This listing is for a like new condition CD: Fire Me Up - Roman Holliday. Japan CBS/Sony Pressing # 32DP 190. Ultra Rare.
Track Listing:
1. One Foot Back In Your Door
2. Fire Me Up
3. Strangest Feeling
4. Keep The Night
5. Runaway
6. You Know Me Well
7. Red Turns To Blonde
8. Hear It In The Night
9. I'll Wait
10. A Touch Too Much
11. Don't Take It All Away"

Sold for $249.97 on ebay.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Classic melodic rock CD of the week


By Stephen Kasenda

CINDERELLA “Night Songs” (1986)

Cinderella's story began in 1983, formed by leader Tom Keifer and bassist Eric Brittingham where eventually two of the original members left to build another rival band, Britny Fox. With a little luck, Jon Bon Jovi spotted them performing in a club and referenced the band to Mercury that sealed them a recording contract. "Night Songs"' album sales crawled slowly when it was released in 1986, but thanks to the huge ballad hit, "Nobody's Fool", Cinderella seized triple platinum in 1987. Ironically, that song had always become my least favorite track of the album, and in my opinion, it’s probably the worst ballad ever penned by the band.

"Night Songs" featured a 40-minutes high octane rock and roll ride that was highly influenced by AC/DC and listening to Tom Keifer's raspy vocal style, you can't deny the close comparison to Brian Johnson. Their singles, "Shake Me" and "Somebody Save Me", are classic tunes, concert regulars, and definitely their best tracks here. Don't bother to look for any wasteful fillers, the rest are extremely enjoyable from the cool and sleazy "Nuthin' For Nuthin'", the heaviest monstrous track "Hell On Wheels", to the hard kicker, "Push Push".

The sound is raw, signifying a hungry quartet ready to break and crack. If you want to catch Cinderella at their primal start, "Night Songs" won't disappoint. Cinderella moved forward with a more bluesy approach onto their next release, "Long Cold Winter", so it's wise to always start exploring them from this album. Sadly, with over 25 years of experiences, Cinderella only produced four studio albums, and though this ain't their peak, it remains their essential album to have.

Read more of Stephen’s features at MetalMusicArchives.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Review: Red Wanting Blue "These Magnificent Miles"


Red Wanting Blue hail from Columbus, Ohio, but they probably call the road their home. They've been in perpetual motion for 10 years now, taking their classic roots rock and pop to every town that would have them. As you can surmise from the title "These Magnificent Miles", their latest record was written while on the road and tells stories of life on the road. These stories provide us with a rare glimpse into the highs and lows faced by a band touring relentlessly and fighting for survival.

"These Magnificent Miles" was actually released in 2008, but since signing with Fanatic Records (EMI/Caroline) earlier this year, the CD will be released nationally this week. The roots rock atmosphere is palpable on "These Magnificent Miles", helped along by two things. First, the rugged baritone vocals of Scott Terry (who sounds like a cross between Brian Vander Ark of Verve Pipe and Vinnie Dombroski of Sponge) are perfectly suited for Americana - a man with such a warm and earnest voice should be doing nothing else but singing. Second, the record was produced by Jamie Candiloro, who has worked with Ryan Adams, Willie Nelson, and R.E.M., all of whom could easily share a stage with Red Wanting Blue.

"These Magnificent Miles" starts incredibly strong, opening with "Gravity", a veritable tribute to this physical force. Appropriately, the song pulls you into the world of Red Wanting Blue and doesn't let go easily. Next is "You Are My Las Vegas", another catchy tune with imagery that helps make it a favorite to anyone who has been to Sin City. "Where You Wanna Go" is a ballad with a mild country flavor, boasting yet another winning melody in the chorus. Quick to pick things back up, "The World Is Over" sounds like the perfect bar sing-a-long song. The latter half of the record is almost as strong as the beginning, with "U.S. Bumper Sticker" being another favorite. And don't miss the last song, simply entitled "The Band" - it is not about what you might think.

iPOD-worthy: 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 10, 12

Red Wanting Blue on MySpace. Official site.

Read my interview with Scott Terry of Red Wanting Blue at Rock and Roll Report!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Review: Pearl "Little Immaculate White Fox"


Pearl Aday is a self-proclaimed "Rock Child" and has every right to that title. The daughter of larger-than-life rocker Meat Loaf, Pearl has never known a day without music. In addition to singing back-up for Meat Loaf from 1994 to 2003, she has done the same for Motley Crue. I guess to ensure her progeny are homozygous for musical genes, she has married Scott Ian (Anthrax).

Just a few bars in to her debut record, "Little Immaculate White Fox", it is easy to hear her primary musical influence - Janis Joplin. Incidentally, her biological father played drums in Joplin's Full Tilt Boogie Band. Pearl's name comes from Joplin's nickname, which is also the title of her landmark 1971 album. Follow all that?

Pearl's band is comprised of members of Mother Superior, and "Little Immaculate White Fox" features guest appearances by Ted Nugent ("Check Out Charlie"), Jerry Cantrell ("Anything"), and of course, her husband Scott Ian. The record is an explosive debut, featuring powerhouse vocals in the finest rock tradition mixed in with meaty guitar and groovy beats. Paying homage to one of the greats, Pearl has included a cover of Tina Turner's "Nutbush City Limits" among her original tunes.

All of the ingredients for something absolutely mind blowing are here, but what limits "Little Immaculate White Fox" is the uneven songwriting. There are some terrific highlights, such as the autobiographical "Rock Child", "My Heart Isn't In It", "Nobody", and "Worth Defending", but most of the other tracks come up short in the melody category. While the performances and lyrics are good, this is not enough to make some of the songs as memorable as they could be. A final exception is the closing ballad, "Anything", where Pearl shows us that she is 'well rounded' and can deliver an achingly tender love song.

Pearl could be the Joan Jett for this generation - a true, red-blooded rocker who lives and breathes rock and roll. Check it out to hear a truly gifted rock vocalist.

iPOD-worthy: 1, 6, 7, 8, 11

Pearl on MySpace. Official site.

Check out a live performance of "Mama":

Interview: Tony Harnell


I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Tony Harnell to talk about his past with TNT and his new solo album with The Mercury Train entitled "Round Trip" (review here).

Q: To start, let’s go back to the beginning – what event took place in your life that made you realize you wanted to rock for a living?

A: I had just moved to New York from California and was driving around in my car, I was about 16, and some local dudes with long hair came up to my car at a stop sign and told me they’d been looking for me for weeks...

Read the interview at Rock and Roll Report!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Martial Arts - download new song for free

Free download of new track by Glasgow indiepop/power pop band The Martial Arts, first new material since their acclaimed debut album, "Your Sinclair".

Download here!

The Martial Arts on MySpace.

New video - American Hi-Hi "Lost"

The new video from the upcoming CD by American Hi-Fi (reviewed here) - "Lost":

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Interview: 10 Years


Hailing from Knoxville, Tennessee, 10 Years is a modern hard rock band that is aiming to make its mark in rock music with its latest record, “Feeding the Wolves,” which follows 2005’s breakout record, “The Autumn Effect,” and 2008’s, “Division.” Before they head out on this summer’s Carnival of Madness tour, alongside Shinedown, Sevendust, and Chevelle, drummer Brian Vodinh sat down to answer a few questions for us...

Read my interview with the band here at Rock and Roll Report!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Free mp3: 8mm "Bad Moon Rising"


Check out this stunning cover/reworking of CCR's classic, "Bad Moon Rising" by 8mm. The mp3 download is yours free, courtesy of Art of Broadcast - get it here.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Review: American Hi-Fi "Fight The Frequency"


Taking a break from being the band behind Miley Cyrus, the members of American Hi-Fi have regrouped to release the long-awaited follow-up to their amazing 2005 record, "Hearts on Parade". Produced by Butch Walker, "Hearts on Parade" has become one of the favorite underground pop rock records of the last decade.

American Hi-Fi is: Stacy Jones on vocals/drums/guitar, Jamie Arentzen on guitar/vocals, Drew Parsons on bass/vocals, and Brian Nolan on drums. And, for the sake of accuracy, not all of them play for Miley Cyrus. American Hi-Fi got off to a wonderful start in 2001 with their self-titled debut album, which contained the hit single "Flavor of the Weak". Unfortunately, nothing else from this notable debut got any traction and their second record, "The Art of Losing", proved to be a sophomore jinx. "Hearts on Parade" had big comeback written all over it, but it surprisingly failed to give these guys the success they deserved. Which brings us to "Fight The Frequency", their fourth time at bat after a long sit on the bench.

Jones describes the new record as sounding "...a little like Elliott Smith partying with the Foo Fighters at a kegger with My Bloody Valentine and Superdrag". For those of you who lack the imagination to conjure up exactly how that would sound, let me try to break it down for you. The title track starts us off, an energetic and inspirational anthem that affirms that the band hasn't lost a step. "This Is A Low" is grittier and not as immediately memorable, but will appeal to those who like the darker side of American Hi-Fi. Three tracks in and we have the first ballad, "Where Love Is A Lie", which begins with a gentle acoustic verse that leads to an explosive chorus - fairly predictable, but enjoyable song nonetheless. "Acetate" is a crunchy radio-ready rocker that could have fit nicely on "Hearts On Parade" - it is one of my favorites on the CD. This brings us to the first single, "Lost". With its safe formula, combining a driving verse with power ballad chorus, it should do well and bring greater attention to this underrated band.

The latter half of the record is uneven, switching between less melodic, grungy songs and the bright, catchy pop rock. Despite second-half highlights like "Lookout For Hope" and "A Taste For Crime", I am likely to stop this CD halfway through.

"Fight The Frequency" comes out on August 17th.

iPOD-worthy: 1, 3, 4, 5, 8, 9

American Hi-Fi on MySpace. Official site.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Review: Terra Nova "Come Alive"


Back from a long hiatus, veteran AOR rockers Terra Nova return with "Come Alive", their fifth album. If you miss the melodic rock of the 80s - guitar-driven with generous keyboards and soaring vocals (not to mention an album cover of geometric shapes and blue hues) - Terra Nova is a band for you. They are huge in Europe and Japan, countries where AOR still appeals to the masses, and their latest release is proclaimed to be a return to their much-beloved 1996 debut album "Livin' It Up".

Growing up on bands like Journey, Night Ranger, and Survivor, I have a soft spot in my heart for high quality AOR. Terra Nova carries on this lost genre into present day, bucking current trends and playing the type of music they love. Fred Hendrix is an enormously talented vocalist custom built for AOR. The opener and title track storms onto the scene with an engaging riff and propelling rhythm. The na-nas and staccato guitar of "Holy Grail" will make a lot of melodic rockers salivate, and "Here Comes The Night" hits all the right buttons for a midtempo ballad. With its "Livin' On A Prayer" baseline, "Who Can You Count On" has a groovy vibe and an even better chorus. "My Own Way" has a bit of an unusual verse, but it leads into one of the catchiest choruses on the record. Finally, if you are a sucker for gushy, over the top piano ballads, be sure to check out "Those Eyes" and "The Final Curtain" - they'd make even Jonathan Cain cry.

iPOD-worthy: 1, 3, 4, 5, 8, 9

Terra Nova On MySpace. Official site.

New video from Harry Hess

Hot new video from Harry Hess is available for your viewing and listening pleasure! Hess is formerly of Harem Scarem, one of the most underrated hard rock bands of all time. The new song, "This City" carries on the melodic rock tradition Harem Scarem fans are sure to love.

His new solo CD, "First Signal" will be released AUGUST 27th (Europe) AND SEPTEMBER 14th (US).

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Review: Tony Harnell and the Mercury Train "Round Trip"


Tony Harnell, best known as the powerhouse vocalist behind hard rock band TNT, is ready to unleash his new solo record called "Round Trip". With his new band, The Mercury Train, Harnell revisits previous material to offer his fans (and hopefully some new ones) a bold, fresh take on his songs. In concept, it is similar to Bon Jovi's "This Left Feels Right", but Harnell makes the effort much more worthwhile.

While stripped down or alternative versions of classic rockers are going to seem sacrilegious to some longtime fans, I feel Harnell has done an amazing job showing us how timeless his songwriting can be. These new renditions are fantastic, bringing even the most dated of his material into the 21st century as if it were written yesterday. His riveting vocals and the brilliantly produced instrumentation are icing on the cake.

Just check out the acoustic-driven sound of "Somebody Told You", "Intuition", and "Lonely Nights" - they blew me away. The tender "Northern Lights" is another outstanding highlight that underscores this man's amazing vocal talent. I also thought his version of the haunting Alanis Morissette track, "Uninvited" was terrific. The bouncy acoustic pop and harmonious "oohs" and "ahhs" make "When I'm Away" another highlight. There are a handful of tracks that are merely interludes, too sleepy ("Ready To Fly"), or just don't quite work ("Satellite"), but generally "Round Trip" is a great, consistent listen from start to finish.

Fans of great acoustic-driven rock are going to love this, whether you have heard of Harnell or not. In fact, it may be an advantage to go into these songs without the bias of the original tainting your opinion. It is a trip you won't want to miss.

iPOD-worthy: 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 10, 12

"Round Trip" will be available on July 27 in the US.

Tony Harnell and the Mercury Train on MySpace. Official site.

Check out the video for "Northern Lights":

New James Henry video "The Sun Is Cracking The Flags"

James Henry has released a video for the excellent pop song, "The Sun Is Cracking The Flags". The song is from his latest CD, "Overspill" (review here).

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Review: Ratt "Infestation"


Ratt is back with their seventh studio album, "Infestation". After going 'round and round' with original lead singer Stephen Pearcy, the rest of the current Ratt line-up (Warren DeMartini, Carlos Cavazo (Quiet Riot), Robbie Crane, and Bobby Blotzer) were able to let bygones be bygones. The guys were aiming for their hey day on this one, shooting for songs that could fit in-between their landmark 80s records "Out Of The Cellar" (which spawned their biggest hit, 1984's "Round and Round") and "Invasion Of Your Privacy".

"Infestation" recalls many elements of Ratt's past, but is somewhat updated. While the songwriting and lyrical content sound dated, the guitars sound pretty modern. In my mind, it is Pearcy's distinctive growl that really makes Ratt sound like Ratt. He doesn't sound like he's aged at all - in fact, all of the guys sound great after all these years and deserve an A for effort. The record is big fun, with loud guitar, sleaze, and mostly uptempo rockers.

What is missing here, though, are the memorable hooks that made their classic tunes so awesome. Some of the more commercial tracks could be considered modern day "hits" for Ratt - these are stacked right at the beginning of the CD. The blistering opener, "Eat Me Up Alive" suggests the boys are back with a vengeance, breathing fresh air into a sound that is a clear nod to their "Out of the Cellar" days. "Best Of Me" is the most radio-friendly anthem, and my favorite tune from "Infestation" - it would have fit comfortably on their underrated "Detonator" record. "A Little Too Much" is another fun track with a catchy riff and shout out loud chorus, but the record largely goes downhill after this, with a long string of mediocre hard rock songs that can be summed up as "comes close, but no cigar". In short, Ratt proves they can still rock, but by and large they left the melodic part out.

Fans of Ratt and their fellow 80s rock bands will appreciate the references of the era peppered into the songs here, including a subtle shout out to Van Halen's "Dance the Night Away" tucked into "Last Call", and the mentioned of "Wanted Man" in "As Good As It Gets".

iPOD-worthy: 1, 2, 3

Ratt on MySpace. Official site.

Check out the video for "Best Of Me" here.

News: Danika Holmes video "Lock Me In Tonight"

Check out the new music video from Danika Holmes (review here):

Monday, July 12, 2010

Review: See Green "Violet" [EP]


Courtenay Green, an alternative pop artist who goes by See Green, has released her new 5 song EP entitled, "Violet". We covered the free mp3 release of the track, "Think Twice" not long ago here on BMF. "Think Twice" is an outstanding tune, brilliantly interjecting elements from 80s new wave into contemporary guitar-driven pop. The song, which reminds me of The Motels at their best, has become one of my favorite tracks of the summer.

The See Green "Violet" EP has more of the same, with the perky "Gold Mine" and "Get What I Want" being especially charming and fun to hear. The closing track, "Fade Away" is a pleasant departure as the sparse acoustic arrangement allows you to fully appreciate the beauty of Green's voice.

"Violet" follows her previous 2008 EP. A jack of all trades, Courtenay Green writes and arranges just about every part of the song, and co-produces her material. She is working hard on her debut See Green record and I for one am very excited to hear it.

See Green on MySpace. Official site.

Check out her video for "Devil in the Details":

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Review: The Corner Laughers "Ultraviolet Garden"


One look at The Corner Laughers and you get the idea they would be the hell raisers at every party.



OK, maybe not. But this San Francisco outfit can write some delightfully infectious indie pop that harnesses elements from the best of the girl groups from the 60s and give them new life in the form of contemporary, offbeat pop that features light guitar, ukulele, organ, and the occasional glockenspiel. The vocals have the sweet sincerity of Leigh Nash (Sixpence None The Richer), and are overlayed with clever harmonies with lyrics that are refreshingly cerebral. Think Go-Gos meet XTC. Every track has something to like, but among my favorites I count "Shrine of the Martyred Saint", "For The Sake of the Cat", "The Commonest Manifesto", and "Silver Medal". For those searching for something a bit more eclectic, The Corner Laughers also put their stamp on baroque pop, bluegrass and folk.

A little off the beaten path, but never straying from a good melody, "Ultraviolet Garden" is a smart and charming delight. The record was produced by The Orange Peels' Allen Clapp and released on John Wesley Harding's Popover Corps label. They've performed with some of our favorite power pop artists - Mike Viola and Bleu (the Major Labels) and recently toured the UK with Anton Barbeau. In a business where "art" does not usually equate with commercial success, it is my wish that The Corner Laughers have the last laugh.

iPOD-worthy: 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 8, 13

The Corner Laughers on MySpace. Official site.

Check out the video for "Stonewords":

Friday, July 9, 2010

Lots of free mp3 for your weekend

Free mp3 Friday! All of these are free and legal downloads, courtesy of Green Light Go.

Echo Orbiter, From "Euphonicmontage" Release Date: September 28, 2010
“Mouth of an Incomplete Twin”
“This Worm In Rigor Mortis”
Genre: Experimental
For fans of: Elephant 6, Elf Power

Alan Cohen Experience, From "Space & Time" due out August 31, 2010 (reviewed here).
“Arrows of Time”
“The Uncertainty Principle”
“Einstein”
Genre: Anti-folk/power pop
For fans of: Adam Green, Jeffrey Lewis

Sara Radle, From "Four" Release Date: September 14, 2010 (reviewed here)
“Song for Adam”
Genre: Powerpop
For fans of: Jenny Lewis, Regina Spektor, Dum Dum Girls

Neil Nathan, From "The Distance Calls" Release Date: August 24, 2010 (reviewed here)
“California Run” http://www.greenlightgopublicity.com/clients/content/neilnathan/audio/California_Run.mp3
“Highways” http://www.greenlightgopublicity.com/clients/content/neilnathan/audio/Highways.mp3
Genre: Powerpop
For fans of: Matthew Sweet, Cat Stevens, The Go, Marc Bolan

Neutral Uke Hotel“King of Carrot Flowers Pt. 1” (Neutral Milk Hotel Cover)
Genre: Indie rock, Cover song
For fans of: Neutral Milk Hotel

The White Ravens, From "Gargoyles and Weather Vanes" due out July 6, 2010
“Sparks”
“Tick Tock”
Genre: Garage rock
For fans of: The White Stripes, Fiery Furnaces

Gwyneth & Monko, From "Good Old Horse" due out July 20, 2010
“Good Old Horse”
“Lexington Ballad”
Genre: Americana/Folk
For fans of: Jenny Lewis, Gillian Welch

Leopold and His Fiction, From the upcoming album TBA
“Golden Friends”
Genre: Garage folk
For fans of: The Black Keys, Kings of Leon, Heartless Bastards

Review: Rachel McGoye "Ghetto Gloss" [EP] - free mp3


Rachel McGoye's latest EP, "Ghetto Gloss", is mostly melodic pop and mixed in with a little soul and R&B. It was produced and co-written by Alex Band (formerly of The Calling), who helps to bring a melodic rock edge to the forefront.

I was not overwhelmed by the title track to this EP, but it was evident from this tune that Rachel McGoye has a voice suited for light rock and soul - reminding me a little of Colbie Caillat. The contributions from Alex Band can be heard throughout these four tunes, which pop rockers will enjoy. Out of the four tracks on this EP I liked "Love Seed" the most, with "Oh My My" being a close second. "Love Seed" is a straight-up pop rock tune, and the acoustic guitars give "Oh My My" a light, breezy feel.

Rachel McGoye on MySpace. Official site.

Get the FREE mp3 of "Ghetto Gloss" right here.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Review: Stone Temple Pilots "Stone Temple Pilots" (2010)


It is all too easy to jump on the "Stone Temple Pilots is so yesterday" bandwagon. I admit that I had pretty much written the band off after the appearance of "No. 4" - they had a couple good tracks left in them, but not enough to fill an album. I never imagined their 2010 self-titled reunion record would do more than just raise a curious eyebrow.

But the latest from STP is a pleasant surprise! It is less of a gritty rocker than early STP - which will alienate some longtime fans - but the new melodic rock direction suits them well. What STP has managed to do here should not be underestimated - they still have some of their grunge influence (you'll hear clear derivations from 90s kings like Nirvana and Pearl Jam), but bring more of a modern powerpop sensibility to the songwriting. Scott Weiland sounds re-energized and Dean DeLeo has a never-ending bag of guitar tricks that can make a so-so song sound so much better. Catchy melodies abound on this CD, with highlights including the single, "Between The Lines", "Take A Load Off", "Hickory Dichotomy", and "Cinnamon". And don't miss "First Kiss On Mars" if you are a David Bowie fan - I did a musical double-take when hearing the first verse!

The record cuts right to the chase - it only takes the band 40 minutes to rip through the twelve new tracks. Even the rare filler is tolerable and not bad enough to hit fast forward. This is one of their most consistent records and can enjoyed straight through from start to finish.

In short, I think it is the band's best since 1996's "Tiny Music... Songs from the Vatican Gift Shop". Give it a shot. It certainly gets my vote for the most pleasant surprise of 2010 so far.

iPOD-worthy: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 10, 11, 12

Stone Temple Pilots on MySpace. Official site.

Tony Harnell: New video "Northern Lights"

Check out this pretty acoustic ballad, "Northern Lights" from amazing vocalist Tony Harnell (TNT), who has a solo record coming out July 2 (Europe) or July 27 (US).

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Review: Rooney "Eureka"


I've been a big fan of the power pop and rock outfit Rooney since their self-titled debut blew me away in 2002 with its ultra catchy hooks and sunny melodies. Now "free" of major record labels, the band has recently released their third effort, "Eureka" on their own new label, California Dreamin’ Records. It's been three long years, with only the excellent solo release from Taylor Locke to keep me company (review here), so I was on the edge of my seat with eager anticipation...

I am just as surprised as you may be when I say that my first listen produced nothing more than "meh". What the hell happened? This batch of songs is devoid of passion and almost completely lacking the charm that drew me in as a devoted fan. Being such a devout fan, I gave the record a second and third try, but still struggle to find the magic that made me fall in love with this band.

I don't mean to be overly harsh - some of the songs are quite good. Things get off to a decent, albeit lukewarm, start with the Weezer-lite sound of "Holdin' On", which was what I was doing in hopes that the rest of the CD would be more exciting. "Only Friend" also comes close, but I can't help thinking this sounds too much like Barry Manilow covering a song by Roger Joseph Manning Jr. The better tracks are "I Can't Get Enough", "All Or Nothing", and "I Don't Wanna Lose You", where Rooney get their groove back and showcase their love for everything from E.L.O. to Jellyfish. But considering what we know this band to be capable of, "Eureka" is remarkably dull. Give it a try if you are curious to hear what a more mature, subdued, and sugar-free Rooney record would sound like - otherwise, go with Taylor Locke's record.

iPOD-worthy: 2, 5, 7

Rooney on MySpace. Official site.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Review: Big City Rock "Big City Rock"


Now that's a real shame...when folks be throwing away a perfectly good pop rock band like Big City Rock. Their self-titled debut dropped in 2006 on Atlantic, featuring production from Adam Schlesinger (Fountains of Wayne), mixing by the famed Chris Lord-Alge, and high recommendations from Adam Levine (Maroon 5), who enthusiastically proclaimed Big City Rock (BCR) to be his favorite new band.

So what happened? Why hasn't anyone heard of them outside of L.A.? Maybe it is because their logo looked too much like the defunct Circuit City electronics store - who knows. All I know is that this CD has more hooks than a tackle box and rocks you with crunchy ear candy from start to finish. It is over a little too soon, clocking in at just 35 minutes, but what a ride. In addition to no filler melodic rock, their sound has a distinct 80s vibe that reminds me of Rock Kills Kid (review here). Highlights include "Sink", "As Soon As I Find Out", and "Kind". My favorite is "All Of The Above", which should have put Nate Bott (guitar and vocals) and company on the map. If you like power ballads, check out "I Believe In You".

If you dig Rock Kills Kid, Rooney, or Click Five, you must hear BCR. You can get their CD used on Amazon for one penny. Go get it for cryin' out loud. You can also keep track of the band's next move here. They've changed their name to The Remainers - maybe they will have better luck under that moniker.

iPOD-worthy: 1, 2, 3, 6, 7, 9, 10

Big City Rock on MySpace. Official site.

Check out a video for "All Of The Above" here.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Review: All Star United "The Good Album"


Take a trip to the surface of the sun - the new record, "The Good Album" by All Star United is HOT. I've always liked this band - engaging lyrics, hugely melodic choruses, and excellent musicianship. They've released a string of strong records through the last decade and "The Good Album" continues this tradition - in fact, I think it is one of their stronger releases in recent memory. Yes, it is more of the same relative to their other work, but why change a successful formula? All Star United faithfully delivers what their fans want - dramatic songs that lampoon society or inspire, each containing a driving versus and sing-a-long chorus.

And they seem to have outdone themselves on "The Good Album", sounding tighter and more energetic than ever, delivering one memorable melody after another. Not a bad tune in this remarkably consistent record, but some of the tracks that resonate the most with me include "Is This The Moment", "Once Again, With Feeling", and "Beautiful Way". Another interesting cut is the happy go luck feel of "Dude...That's Freaking Awesome!", a sarcastic account of the aimless partiers in college who refuse to grow up. Other great tunes slamming celebrity worship and commercialism grace this record as well.

I don't understand why a band like All Star United isn't more of a household name. They gained some traction with their last record, "Love and Radiation", getting songs placed in movies and TV. There is clearly no justice in the musical world if "The Good Album" doesn't explode - it's not just good...it is terrific.

iPOD-worthy: 2, 5, 6, 7, 9, 12

All Star United on MySpace. Official site.

Check out a video for "Lights Out":

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Review: Sara Radle "Four"


You may not realize it, but chances are you've heard Sara Radle already. She plays guitar and sings for the band Walking Sleep and was in The Rentals with Matt Sharp (Weezer) in 2005. She's shared stages at festivals with many bands including The Flaming Lips and Yeah Yeah Yeahs. The Texas native is now ready to release her fourth solo effort on September 14, simply entitled "Four".

"Four" is described as a peek into Radle's personal diary. Her intensely personal lyrics and the trademark sweetness in her voice invite the listener into her world, which is supported by a soundtrack of indie pop and rock. While Radle has clear indie rock roots, she has a great sense for melody and crafts a chorus that sticks with you. She puts her tender voice to further good use by decorating her songs with copious harmonies that are lush and uplifting. It seems she's reached back to the 60s to sound like one of the numerous girl groups predominating that era (check out "The Baxter Hill"). But what makes "Four" even more fun is that Radle is not one-dimensional - despite her soothing voice, she can show some teeth and bite.

The record begins with one of my favorite tracks, "Fooling Nobody", a sunny song with a playful piano line and harmonies that lead to a jamming guitar-driven chorus. Light strings enhance the mid-tempo "The Lonely King", taking this catchy fable to new heights. She flaunts her love for garage and indie rock most blatantly on "A Reason To Stay", another infectious treat for new and long-time fans alike. "Song For Adam" will make everyone wish they had a Sara Radle in their life to sing them a such a sweetly supportive pep talk. A final highlight is "Over Now", perfect if you need a good break up song.

Check out Sara Radle if you are a Rentals fan, and if you like Lisa Loeb or Frente!

iPOD-worthy: 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 12

Sara Radle on MySpace. Official site.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Review: Big Head Todd "Rocksteady"


Beloved roots rockers Big Head Todd (BHT) return July 20 with "Rocksteady", their eighth studio album. "Rocksteady" was recorded in their home studios in Denver, CO and Chicago, IL over the past year and consists of many tracks that were played and refined during their perpetual touring. After 25 remarkable years together, the band sounds more relaxed than ever, comfortable taking on any genre you can throw at them.

Like most other BHT records of late, "Rocksteady" is a diverse buffet of musical styles - the listener will sample some soul, funk, and pop while devouring the rock base. The title track kicks things off and is my runaway favorite - a fast paced and funky rocker that would make even the most stoic prude want to dance. Things suddenly get a little breezy with the mellow but moving single, "Beautiful", but the funk rock returns later with "Happiness Is". "After Gold" is my favorite ballad on the record, sounding like it would be right at home on their "Sister Sweetly" release. "Back To The Garden" has a strong reggae beat that sticks out like a sore thumb for me, but I don't despair for long because the next track, "Smokestack Lightning" is a sizzling rocker with stinging blues guitar and a thick brassy stomp. "I Hate It When You're Gone" is my second favorite next to the title track, easily the most instantly memorable and radio friendly cut off the record. It is a genuine feel good, soulful pop rocker - what I would do to hear an album full of tracks like this one.

BHT has a reputation for putting their touch on classic tunes - this time around we get their laid back interpretation of the Rolling Stones hit, "Beast Of Burden" - another winner. "Rocksteady" closes with "Fake Diamond Kind", a gentle ballad reminding us that friendship and love go together.

While "Rocksteady" doesn't quite capture the magic that made their 1993 breakthrough record "Sister Sweetly" a masterpiece, it continues along the general trajectory BHT has followed since the beginning - that is, to offer a little something for everyone. For late comers, "Rocksteady" serves as a fine introduction to the world of BHT. The thread that holds this diverse collection together is the masterful guitar playing - Todd Park Mohr is clearly one of today's best. Mohr's playing can be described in the same way that he sings on "Muhammad Ali": he "floats like a butterfly, stings like a bee".

iPOD-worthy: 1, 2, 4, 7, 8, 10, 11

Big Head Todd on MySpace. Official site.