Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Review: Budokan “Spin A Little Gold”

Rock/Power pop

Lifting their name from the famous “Live At Budokan” record by Cheap Trick, Budokan wears their love of these power pop icons on their sleeve. Throughout this Canadian band’s debut LP, “Spin A Little Gold”, you’ll also hear plenty of reverence for the Ramones, Buzzcocks, and Rolling Stones. The four lads, Andrew Molloy (guitar/vocals), Craig Vishek (guitar, vocals), Kent Bendall (bass), and Graham Watson (drums), have been around the block in numerous other bands but display a great chemistry here as Budokan.

“Spin A Little Gold” is filled with thirteen nuggets of power pop goodness. There is a lot to like about this record, but I’m finding a few things preventing me from loving it. The vocals aren’t terrific and often get buried in the mix, and the choruses would have benefitted from some tweaking to make them more memorable. However, there are some moments of rock and roll brilliance scattered throughout and the choice of lead guitar tones is spot on. The band is energetic and sincere, qualities that eclipse most of the shortcomings here. Highlights include “You Stop Loving The Band”, “The Right On Girl”, “For Badge Holders Only”, and “Shady Glade”.

Budokan – hear them here.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Melodic rock CD of the week: Eclipse

By Stephen Kasenda

ECLIPSE “Are You Ready To Rock” (2008)

This Stockholm-based melodic rock/metal act fronted by the talented Erik Martensson finally released their third album, "Are You Ready To Rock" in 2008 after their first album with Frontiers Records, "Second To None", four years earlier. The music is a blasting experience, cranking up the quality. Imagine Whitesnake's "1987" mixed with Europe's early heavy metal side and you get a pretty good idea of how they sound.

The first three tracks will drop your jaw - "Breaking My Heart Again" explodes like Whitesnake's "Bad Boys", "Hometown Coming" has a pumped-up tempo and raises the bar with a superb chorus, and "To Mend A Broken Heart" chops in with modern riffs before flying high again with a soaring chorus. "Wylde One" is a strange, sleazy title, but a killer song indeed. "Under The Gun" has a bit of a neoclassical piece at the chorus and is another a great track. "Unbreakable" is much more radio-friendly and my most fave song of the album, perhaps the best tune with an unmistakable perfect chorus. "Million Miles Away" is a huge commercial melodic metal tune with overwhelming riffs - another flawless attempt by the band.

I love this album from start to finish. Beware there is no ballad for the tender hearts. Eclipse values the volume, the distortion, the unmerciful fast tempos, but still retains the balance with enough melodic and commercial ingredients. "Are You Ready To Rock?" is a question raised for those who want to raise their fists and yell "Hell Yeah We Are!" This is one of 2008's highlight records, five stars, no doubt!

Read more of Stephen’s features at MetalMusicArchives.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Nat Col and the Kings "Coming Home"

Want to introduce you to a new band from 'Down Under' called Nat Col and the Kings by way of their new single, "Coming Home". This song was a love at first listen for me, and I think you'll enjoy it too. Gritty verses lead up to an infectious chorus that radiates with tasty harmonies. Kind of like combining Tom Petty with Train. Check it out!

More info on Nat Col and the Kings here.

Video for "Coming Home":

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Review: Kyoto Drive “The Approach” [EP]


Kyoto Drive is a UK rock band comprised of Adam Binder (Vocals/Bass), Mike Levell (Guitar/ Vocals), Mark Piper (Guitar/Vocals), and Mitch Davis (Drums) that caters to fans of Cartel, Jimmy Eat World, and The Early November. Formed in 2009, the band had a vision of creating something uplifting, something catchy, and something powerful. The band has completed a 7-track mini-album called “The Approach” with producer Matt O’Grady (Deaf Havana, You Me At Six).

“The Approach” begins with an atmospheric introduction that I advise you to skip…the good stuff begins with “Holiday”, a fiery track celebrating newfound romance. “So Much Alive” continues the feel good rock vibe with a song based on a film called August Rush. One of the most radio-friendly cuts, “Faking Laughs For Photographs” is actually about a marriage proposal. “Breathe” is a contemporary rock anthem (video below) that hits all the right buttons. The EP closes with the slightly more subdued “You Never Knew”, a song about a life in music that will likely resonate with music fans as well.

Aside from the introduction, this EP comes at you fast and strong, without a dud in the bunch. “The Approach” will be cranking out of my speakers a lot this summer!

Kyoto Drive – Facebook.

Check out the video for “Breathe”:

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Review: Late Cambrian “Social Season” [EP]

Indie rock

Late Cambrian is an indie rock band out of Brooklyn formed by John N. Wlaysewski, who you may remember from our 2009 review of Flying Machines (reviewed here). Late Cambrian has been compared to Weezer in numerous articles and album reviews. Their lyrics tend to be existential in nature, tackling subjects such as aging, the cult of celebrity, and being a shut in. They bring a thoughtful approach to songwriting, with many of the songs going through tempo and key changes when it serves the song’s higher purpose.

The new EP “Social Season” features five tunes of indie rock goodness, tilting more towards the melodic end of the spectrum. Lead off track “Ryan Gosling” is a good example of this, with its thumping bass and percussion driving a very catchy verse. The “whoa-oh oh’s” comprising the chorus are certainly hummable and add to the charm of this track. “Trash Show” and “Hand Stamp” are serviceable, but the true standout is “Song 11”. “Song 11” is the most accessible in the batch, with its bouncy and jubilant verse leading up to a very memorable chorus with more of those “oh oh’s”. I wish there were more like it. The only disappointment here is the closing track, “Saint James”, which is an experimental instrumental jam. Their music is available on Itunes, Amazon and CD Baby – go check it out today.

Late Cambrian – Official site.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Melodic rock CD of the week: Primal Fear

By Stephen Kasenda

PRIMAL FEAR “Unbreakable” (2012)

‘Unbreakable' might be a cliche of power metal, something that you've predicted right from the start when you tore off the CD's seal and put it in the player, but PRIMAL FEAR delivers something here that they're very good at - and what makes this album stand out is the brilliant composition of the songs, which are backed by an extremely tight rhythm section.

After the intro, 'Strike' thrusts in deep with a blistering tempo and incinerating harmonic solos. A perfect song in my book, and two other tracks that are just as strong: 'And There Was Silence', which reminds me of the classic HELLOWEEN, and 'Unbreakable Part 2', a 6-minute metal epic that's also the best part of the second half.

PRIMAL FEAR isn't only about power and speed. I think of them as a cross between JUDAS PRIEST and old HELLOWEEN. There are still plenty of awesome heavy metal tracks such as 'Give Em Hell' with fantastic riffs, the first single, 'Bad Guys Wear Black', which in my opinion is only the fifth best track here, and 'Blaze of Glory'. Ralf Scheepers vocals are still monstrous - check out his take on the last tune, 'Conviction', a brutally beautiful slab of power metal.

It's probably the same old style, and sometimes the term 'consistency' always overlaps with 'monotonous'. If you're looking for something fresh and new, you might not find it here, but if you need something classic done right, this is a solid pick!

Read more of Stephen’s features at MetalMusicArchives.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Review: Josh Flagg “Devastate Me”


We all love a Cinderella story, and Josh Flagg’s “Devastate Me” is the musical equivalent. Approaching songwriting like a prize fight, Flagg comes at you fast and furious but inside he’s doing it out of love for the sport. "I don't like the You-Me-Girl aspect to songwriting," Flagg says. "It's a little cloying. I wanted to take those same sentiments and subvert them. Take really cliché choruses, but have them, when you listen to the lyrics, turn out to be about zombies – or written from the perspective of a cancer cell. It's an interesting way to undermine the classic pop format. I mean, 'Bring Me Back To Life' is about a zombie looking for his girlfriend, more or less."

His songs are analogous to the cover art – sharp dressed and put together with style, but bearing a gritty interior that brings an enticing complexity to the composition. If you’re looking for comparisons, I would cite the Foo Fighters. The first half of the record is considerably stronger than the second half, with some knock outs like the fiery “Seeing Red”, which also has a bit of a Buffalo Tom vibe, the deliciously syncopated “Bring Me Back To Life”, and the chugging title track. The second half isn’t bad by any means, and features additional strong contenders like “Come Back To Me”, “Fair Is Foul” and the driving closer that will leave you wanting more, “Whatever Turns You On”.

“Devastate Me” is one of the more impressive debuts I’ve heard in some time and I am already waiting with eager anticipation to see how this artist matures on the follow-up. As Flagg says, “It's a fantastic contradiction: a breathtaking showdown that pits pop hooks against right hooks.”

Josh Flagg – Official site.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Review: Wigelius “Reinventions”

Melodic Rock/AOR

Who said an appearance on Swedish TV can’t lead to great things? Anders Wigelius is a smashing young vocalist who caught the ears of producer Daniel Flores when he sung the ubiquitous Journey anthem, “Don’t Stop Believing” on TV (see the performance here). Anders joined with his brother Erik on drums, along with Jake Svensson on guitars and Chris "Wielbass" Pettersson on bass to round out the line up for a band that would share his name.

Anders is a devoted fan of the classic melodic rock genre that had its peak in the 80s with bands like Richard Marx, Toto, Journey, and Foreigner. He honed his chops playing in an AOR covers band called Gamblers, before forming Wigelius.

Helped by the production talents of Flores, and mastering by none other than hard melodic rock legend Harry Hess (Harem Scarem), "Reinventions" is one of the most promising debuts in some time – it is a huge, energetic record that is just bursting with arena-ready rockers. Keyboards and guitars are front and center to deliver the catchy melodies. The record gets off to a blazing start with a run of strong cuts in the Survivor sounding “Angeline”, “Talking About Love”, “Do You Really Know”, and “Next To Me”. The band shows a grittier edge with “Piece Of The Action”. The back half of the album is not as strong, but certainly pulls its own weight and makes for a satisfying listen from start to finish. There is a refreshing acoustic break with the endearing “Love Can Be That Much”.

“Reinventions” was released in the US on July 2 and is not to be missed if you long for the days of 80s-styled pop rock.

Wigelius – More info here.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Melodic rock CD of the week: Jettblack

By Stephen Kasenda

JETTBLACK “Raining Rock” (2012)

'Raining Rock' is a valiant effort by the British glam hero, JETTBLACK, giving their fans an album full of variety. It is highly riff-oriented, but still accessible while retaining the raw and aggressive feel of the debut. In my first spins, I found that a couple songs just didn't work and perhaps were a little lower in quality compared to most songs on the debut. The title track, for example, made me wonder “is this really the best pick to start the CD? It seems kinda patchy”, but then after several concentrated listens, you'll find it's a galloping and energetic track - a great kicker!

'Prison of Love' is a beautiful commercial track and, together with 'Never Gonna Give It Up', you have the two radio gems of this album with big potential to score a respectable chart position in their home country. I admire the riffs in 'System' and 'Temptation', both are also very good songs, but 'Something About This Girl' and 'Sunshine' are even better. JETTBLACK pull up a nice ballad in 'Black Gold' but I have doubt in 'The Sweet and The Brave'.

If you can grab the limited edition, the bonus track, 'Weapon', is an ultimate track, worth every penny you spent, because it's one of the best tracks here, but all in all, you can't find any bad tracks here and it's a pretty good follow-up to the debut. Maybe I slightly prefer the debut, however I don't see no reason to not own this beast if you dig that album. Amazing stuff!

Read more of Stephen’s features at MetalMusicArchives.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Jeff Litman "Over and Over" video apes Groundhog Day

Here is the new video for Jeff Litman's “Over and Over”, which painstakingly recreates scenes from the much beloved Bill Murray/Harold Ramis classic movie, Groundhog Day. Check it out and see if you can spot the original scenes (see the clip below for help!)


More info on Jeff Litman or this video project.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Review: Dan Miraldi “Sugar and Adrenaline”

Rock/Power pop

If there was ever an album title more appropriate, I’m not aware of it. Ohio-based Dan Miraldi’s second full-length release is filled with energetically sweet melodies. “Sugar and Adenaline” follows his full-length debut, “Thirsty”, and a couple of EPs entitled, “Tease” (reviewed here) and “Rock N Roll Band” (reviewed here).

“Sugar and Adrenaline” was inspired by life’s journey and by the people Miraldi’s has encountered along the way. Miraldi describes his music as “a very eclectic brand of rock and roll”, citing influences from the Beatles and the Rolling Stones to Ben Kweller and Jack White. You’ll hear him transition from 50s styled rock to modern rock throughout the new record, yet the magic is that Miraldi manages to somehow maintain his own identity.

Things start with the thumping “Few Rock Harder”, which is a punchy anthem with plenty of crunch and attitude – very Material Issue. But most important is the chorus hook that will have you humming for days. “The Runaround”, “Revenge”, and “Now Is The Right Time” are tasty numbers with smooth melodies and satisfying guitar riffs that sound very contemporary, but the surf organ in “I Fall In Love All Over Again” and the Monkees-like acoustic runs in “She Got Soul Part I” hark back to Miraldi’s love for vintage rock. And for you fans of the undead, there is a succulent morsel in “Vampire Girl” that is reminiscent of those haunting 50s tunes. Miraldi masterfully fuses the classic Bee Gees sound with Jack Johnson on the album’s contemplative closer, “The Many Shades of Blue”.

 “Sugar and Adrenaline” will be available July 17 – taste some of that sweet energy!

Dan Miraldi – Official site.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Review: Joshua Ketchmark “Dreamers Disease” [EP]


“Dreamers Disease” is the second release within a series of three EPs being completed by modern rocker Joshua Ketchmark. “Dreamers Disease”, dropping July 17, exudes more of an alternative country-rock feel, underscored by the Nashville flavored track, “Should Have Been”. The EP was recorded at 1 Tree Studio in Nashville and features appearances from Nashville players such as Tony Paoletta (Pedal Steal; Dixie Chicks, Travis Tritt) and Dave Webb (Bass; Randall Bramblett, Sugarland). Inspired by short-lived romances and fervid moments when your childhood crashes head first into adulthood, “the Dreamers Disease” aims to capture the attention of youthful dreamers and hopeful wanderers alike.

The first single, "Saving Grace" is a summer anthem begging to be played on your next road trip. “Saving Grace” is laced with Bon Jovi influences, sounding like a leftover track from their “Lost Highway” sessions. “Mason Jar” is not as accessible in the melody department, but is a potent riff-oriented rocker in the style of Lenny Kravitz. As mentioned, “Should Have Been” is the song with the most overt country influence and this mid-tempo treat has a very satisfying hook. “Step Back” closes this EP with a breezy ballad that begins with some gentle strumming before expanding into an emotive epic.

Joshua Ketchmark – Official site.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Melodic rock CD of the week: Van Halen

By Stephen Kasenda

VAN HALEN “For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge” (1991)

"Standin' on the top of the world, let's give it all we got!" Definitely not an empty chants as Van Halen seized the top of the Billboard charts with "For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge" in 1991. This record marked the return of Van Halen to their guitar-driven roots and abolished synth sound in their previous albums.

The collaboration with DLR-era producer, Ted Templeman, was a big success, spawning many hits such as the electric-drill enhanced "Poundcake", the glaring piano-rocker "Right Now", and the punchy anthem "Top of The World". Not to forget the explosive "Judgment Day" and the groovy "Runaround" that added lots of value to this album.

While I enjoy many of Van Halen great songs from their Hagar-era albums, in my opinion, “For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge” is their best moment with Sammy and he's still one of the best singers around to this day. An essential album you should have!

Read more of Stephen’s features at MetalMusicArchives.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Under Cover: Take Me Home Tonight

PK "Take Me Home Tonight" (Eddie Money)

High-energy, scrappy indie-pop quintet, PK, have premiered a cover of Eddie Money's classic "Take Me Home Tonight" with AltPress. Listen to their rendition of the song here. The band released their sophomore studio project, The Lost Boy Sessions on May 29th. Sonically described as "The Killers meet Vampire Weekend," PK has been compared to such acts The Cure, U2 and The Gaslight Anthem. ­­Purchase The Lost Boy Sessions on iTunes here.

When asked about covering the song, singer Travis Hawley, says, "It was actually the music video that inspired us to cover this song. Ladder hits, an empty stadium, a mullet and a howling sax solo. All the main ingredients for the best music video of all time. We attempted to take the 'be my little baby' part out of the song, but every time we'd mention which song we were covering to our friends, they would immediately break into falsetto and squeal that part. No one seems to remember the rest of the song. We decided it had to stay."

Hailing from San Luis Obispo, California, PK is made up of Travis Hawley (Vocals), Matt DePauw (Guitar), Mikel Van Kranenburg (Bass), Nick Fotinakes (Guitar) and Rico Rodriguez (Drums). While the members initially met in high school, vocalist Hawley was born in the United Arab Emirates and lived in England for five years before moving to the U.S. His brief stint in the UK deeply affected his vocal style and he has often been compared with emotive British artists such as Robert Smith, Bono, and Danny Elfman.

After releasing their first full length Into the Roaring, PK was immediately hand selected and published by Rolling Stone Magazine as 1 of 16 top unsigned artists in the United States. In the past year, the band has opened for such acts as Angels and Airwaves, Twin Atlantic, Aerosmith, Shiny Toy Guns and Youngblood Hawk and has garnered attention from the likes of Nylon Guys, Alternative Press, Pac Sun Music, RCRDLBL, Filter Magazine and Dianna Agron of GLEE's blog, "You Me & Charlie." PK recorded their new EP The Lost Boys Sessions at the famed Red Bull Studio in Los Angeles.

PK released The Lost Boy Sessionson May 29th (see our review here). For more information, go here.