Monday, April 30, 2012

Melodic rock CD of the week: Romeo's Daughter

By Stephen Kasenda

ROMEO'S DAUGHTER “Rapture” (2012)
After almost 20 years, ROMEO'S DAUGHTER returns to the scene, catching many fans off guard. Over the years, both of their previous albums have been praised as great underrated AOR records. 'Rapture' will surely please the longtime fans as the sound reference is totally like old times, with a slight updated sound to keep up with the era. But do the classic hooks and familiar voice of Leigh Matty make you turn your head and think 'is it 1988' again?

'Trippin' Out' may start with a patchy verse, but you know the chorus is right on track. 'Bittersweet' and 'Cannot Be The One' are instant faves. I spotted a bumpy road on 'Keep Walking', but the next tremendous slow ballad, 'Lightning' and the energetic track, 'Alive' are giving me a hint that this album will be a big success.

Turns out my intuition was right. 'Fly Away' is a huge contender to 'Lightning', 'Make My Dreams Come True' and 'Precious Thing' are two beautiful gems, 'Talking Love' is definitely the best track here, what a flawless tune! The last track, 'Will Be', is a splendid acoustical piece and the chorus is just mind-blowing.

The production is pretty good and I know some AOR fans might think this is too light. At some points, I swear I can sense the writing style of THE CORRS here, but if you ask me, this album has the quality needed to match the first two albums. Great job and very enjoyable album!

Read more of Stephen’s features at MetalMusicArchives.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Under Cover: Highway To Hell

Maroon 5 "Highway To Hell" (AC/DC)

Interestingly enough, this cut comes from Maroon 5's EP, "1.22.03. Acousitc". Tacked on as a bonus track, the boys plugged back in to cover this classic rock anthem originally done by AC/DC. Many wish that they didn't.

In case you're wondering, that is not Adam Levine singing - he played the drums on this track. Ryan Dusik took over the vocals. Ryan is no longer with the band.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Review: Tyketto “Dig In Deep”

Viable candidates for my “You Were Robbed” column, Tyketto is one of those bands that should have been huge during the late 80s and early 90s. They had some minor hits back in the day, churning out some very tasty melodic rock. Now they are back after eighteen years with a brand new record called “Dig In Deep”. The boys were moved to record once again after recent appearances at Sweden Rock, Download, Firefest, Hard Rock Hell and Hard in Rio, which opened their eyes to the fact that their fans were still rocking and yearning for more Tyketto. All four original members are along for the ride (Danny Vaughn - Lead vocals, Brooke St. James - Lead guitar & backing vocals, Jimi Kennedy - Bass guitar & backing vocals, Michael Clayton – Drums), but did they dig deep enough to recapture the magic of their classic sound?

Three years in the making, “Dig In Deep” doesn’t inspire much confidence with the lackluster cover art, but the music inside is what really counts, and this is where Tyketto delivers. While I don’t think there is much here that is going to rival the masterpiece of their debut, “Don’t Come Easy”, several cuts are destined to please the fans and hopefully draw more to this extremely talented group of songwriters and performers. The band has always championed uplifting and inspirational material, and that “Don't let anything stand in the way of what you want in life” mentality persists throughout “Dig In Deep”.

There are a number of songs that fall together perfectly, such as “Here’s Hoping It Hurts”, “Evaporate”, and “Monday”. There are others like the title cut, “Love To Love”, and “The Fight Left In Me” that have a great chorus but the verses don’t do it justice. There’s also a surprise treat or two like “Faithless”, which mixes some of the heaviest, modern riffs the band has done with their trademark acoustic strumming. If you’re looking for that grandiose power ballad like “Standing Alone”, you’re not going to find it here…but there is a country-flavored ballad at the end called, “This Is How We Say Goodbye”. The pleasant acoustic-based track “Battle Lines” comes closer.

After years of doing solo projects and carving out their own niches, each member of the band deserves credit for working together well as a team to revitalize the Tyketto sound for the fans. I’m hoping they do it again soon!

Tyketto – Official site.

Review: Trixter “New Audio Machine”

Formed in Paramus, New Jersey during 1983, Trixter nealy arrived a bit too late to capitalize on the ever expanding melodic rock scene in 1990. With their big hair and youthful anthems, Trixter had no trouble breaking into the mainstream with hits like “Give It To Me Good” and “One In A Million”, and soon found themselves touring with heavyweights like The Scorpions, Poison, and Kiss. Their follow-up effort, “Hear!” showed maturity, containing more complex melodies and arrangements, but the record was destined to be more of a cult classic than a commercial success since grunge had taken over the musical landscape. Trixter released of an independent covers album before calling it quits in 1995. Some of the members released solo projects, including the pop punkish band 40 Ft Ringo and the more power pop outfit, Stereo Fallout.

Fast forward to 2007 and we see the band reuniting to perform some gigs – it wasn’t long before aspirations to record a new record emerged. The band wanted to create a classic melodic hard rock album with great songs, big guitar riffs, catchy vocals and a huge bottom end. To meet their goal, the boys collaborated with Glen Burtnik (Styx) and Snake Sabo and Rachel Bolan of Skid Row to write songs for “New Audio Machine”.

The 2012 lineup features Pete Loran on lead vocals and guitar, Steve Brown on lead guitar, P.J. Farley on bass and Gus Scott on drums. “We take pride in the fact that we are one of the few bands of our genre that have all original members,” says Brown.

“New Audio Machine” definitely sounds like a proper third record from Trixter, although it contains welcome sonic updates. Fans of Stereo Fallout will also appreciate some of the more power pop cuts. The first single off the new album, “Tattoos and Misery” engages the rock fan immediately with thick riffs that lead up to a trademark Trixter chorus – a good choice to introduce folks to the band’s sound. “Drag Me Down” leads off with a bluesy, Blue Murder-like acoustic riff before kicking into high gear with roaring guitars. There’s also the obligatory homage to rock ‘n’ roll on the energetic “Save Your Soul”.

The best moments for me come on the mid-tempo tracks or ballads. While terribly clichéd, “Live For The Day” and “ The Coolest Thing” are guilty pleasures for sure. I also thought the album’s upbeat closer, “Walk With A Stranger” was a great storytelling piece with a healthy message and driving rhythm. There’s a handful of misses on “New Audio Machine”, that take place usually when the band degenerates into juvenile lyrics and tired jams (e.g. “Physical Attraction”, “Dirty Love”, “Machine”). But overall, I think this album is going to be a welcome treat for Trixter fans.

Trixter – Official site.

Check out the video for "Tattoos and Misery"

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

You Were Robbed: Child’s Play (RIP Brian Jack)

"You Were Robbed" features artists and bands that should have gotten much more recognition and fame than they did. Check them out now...better late than never!

I’ll never forget driving home from Baltimore one night in 1990 and hearing a song called “When Hell Freezes Over” playing on my favorite radio station at the time, 98 ROCK.

I soon learned this powerhouse rocker was by a band called Child’s Play, which featured Brian Jack on lead vocals and guitar, Nicky Kay on guitar, a guy named Idzi on bass, and John Allen on drums (and also some lead vocals). 98 ROCK soon started playing all sorts of cuts from the band’s major label debut, named after the single, “Rat Race”.

In addition to super catchy melodies, brilliant vocal tag-teaming by Jack and Allen, a thundering rhythm section, and sizzling guitar leads, what really drew me to the band were the amazing vocals of Brian Jack. When I finally saw the band live – probably at Hammerjacks – I couldn’t believe such a big sound was coming out of this guy. I guess I was expecting to see something like Hulk Hogan at the mic, but Jack looked - and acted - just like some buddy you’d befriend at the bar on any given night.

“Rat Race” featured 12 tracks of grade-A blue collar rock n roll. Nothing sums up the band’s philosophy better than the lead off anthem, “Good ol’ Rock n Roll”. Just good ol’ boys playing good ol’ Rock n Roll!

When considered with the single “Rat Race”, which features Jack and Allen trading lyrics every young man dreamed of singing, these Baltimore boys seemed destined to join the ranks of working class bands that hit the big time, like Bon Jovi or Skid Row.

While making an appearance or two on MTV, the song just didn’t take off…but no worries, there was an awesome acoustic-based ballad called “Wind” – surely that would seal the deal?

No, Child’s Play was robbed. Big time.

Other great tunes on this fantastic record included “Knock Me Out”, “Day After Night”, and “Girl Like You”. Child’s Play should have been remembered as a talented band of rock and roll purists, not a B movie horror flick. Brian Jack would go on to release a couple solo records that took a hard left turn from the Child’s Play sound into light rock territory. He transitioned into this format well and sold a ton of records without label support. I memory that still sticks in my mind to this day is seeing him play at a club in Ocean City, Maryland, doing an acoustic rendition of "No Woman, No Cry". It was utterly beautiful.

John Allen joined SR-71 and recently resurfaced in a hard rock band with Nicky Kay called “Charm City Devils”. There was a Child's Play reunion show in 2011, igniting hopes that we might get to hear some new material soon. But sadly, Brian Jack passed away last week. His music and stunning vocal prowess should be heard, so track down some Child's Play or his solo work today.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Review: Abba “The Visitors: Deluxe Edition”

1981’s “The Visitors” was the eighth and final studio album by the pop sensation ABBA. Despite disbanding shortly thereafter, this supremely talented group has never really faded from the limelight, and I suspect that their brilliant melodies and trademark harmonies continue to resonate with musicians and fans of all stripes even today – and will continue to do so for decades to come. With their songs appearing in numerous movies, the wildly successful musical Mamma Mia, and constant press about their refusing to reform despite being offered loads of cash, ABBA remains an unshakable musical phenomenon.

On April 23rd, “The Visitors”was reissued as a Deluxe Edition, complete with a DVD of archive material along with CD bonus tracks – including a 9 minute demo medley entitled, “From A Twinkling Star To A Passing Angel”. This is the first time since the “Thank You For The Music” box set in 1994 that ABBA have opened the vaults to release previously unheard music from the group’s heyday.

“The Visitors” was constructed during a time of great turmoil among the band members, resulting in a significantly different vibe than the light, sunny pop of earlier efforts. Additionally, the age of new wave and the heavy use of synthesizers had arrived, and ABBA began to experiment with these ideas. Other experiments include the epic opener and title track, which incorporates some progressive rock into the usual ABBA songwriting formula. Similarly, “I Let The Music Speak” introduces a haunting, operatic feel onto the record, while “Like An Angel Passing Through My Room” is a sparse piece with vocals supported with little more than the ticking clocks, a chilling reminder that time marches on even after we stop.

Closer to expectations, “Head Over Heels” and “One Of Us” are delightful pop gems with catchy melodies and stunning harmonies. Reflecting the strain on their relationships, the upbeat yet melancholy song“When All Is Said and Done” has bone-cutting lyrics and is one of the most underrated ballads the band has done. A runner up for this distinction could be“Slipping Through My Fingers”, whcih is a touching song about the bittersweet feelings associated with children growing up and gradually leaving the nest.

Among the bonus tracks, be sure to check out the pleasant mid-tempo song, “Should I Laugh Or Cry”, “You Owe Me One”, and “The Day Before You Came”. The demo medley provides fans with a fascinating listen to alternate takes of “Passing Angel”, including versions with the full band.

Full track listing and details from the Deluxe Edition can be found below. ABBA fans will certainly not want to miss this one!

Disc: 1
1. The Visitors
2. Head Over Heels
3. When All Is Said And Done
4. Soldiers
5. I Let The Music Speak
6. One Of Us
7. Two For The Price Of One
8. Slipping Through My Fingers
9. Like An Angel Passing Through My Room
10. Should I Laugh Or Cry
11. I Am The City
12. You Owe Me One
13. Cassandra
14. Under Attack
15. The Day Before You Came
16. From A Twinkling Star To A Passing Angel (demos)

Disc: 2 (DVD)
1. Two For The Price Of One (Dick Cavett Meets ABBA)
2. Slipping Through My Fingers (Dick Cavett Meets ABBA)
3. When All Is Said And Done (Original Promo Clip)
4. ABBA In London, November 1982 (The Late Late Breakfast Show, BBC)
5. ABBA In Stockholm, November 1982 (Nöjesmaskinen, SVT)
6. The Visitors TV commercial I (UK)
7. The Visitors TV commercial II (Australia)
8. The Singles - The First Ten Years TV commercial I (UK)
9. The Singles - The First Ten Years TV commercial II (Australia)
10. International Sleeve Gallery

Monday, April 23, 2012

Melodic rock CD of the week

WILD FRONTIER “Stick Your Neck Out” (2003)
WILD FRONTIER is surely not a familiar name to many people outside melodic rock realm. Emerging from German where bands like SCORPIONS or ACCEPT are huge, this genre isn't a prospective career move, especially considering that 2003 was a pretty bad year for classic rock. But hats off to this band –they are carrying the torch of this music and 'Stick Your Neck Out' is really a very satisfying result.

'Wild Wind Blows' and 'Alive' open the album with a mid-tempo mood and both are wonderful attempts by the band. 'There For You' played and it really turned my head around. It's an acoustic-based, easy listening piece fit to be aired on an evening radio show…a very lovable tune. The singer's vocal is reminiscent of Joe Elliot, so it's a really friendly ride for fans of the 80s.

'Walkaway' is an astonishing ballad and so is 'I Can Hear You'. 'Through Your Eyes' might be the weakest ballad but that song itself is still quite okay too. 'Shake Your Body' is another winner with its groovy riffs; 'Life Has Just Begun' blew me away with its splendid chorus; 'We Will Be One' could be the heaviest - a big slab of great hard rock, but 'Hard To Control' conquers this album and rises as the best of the bunch.

Overall, a solid album. If you dig the melodic rock scene, this one is an awesome catch and deserves at least 80%!

Read more of Stephen’s features at MetalMusicArchives.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Under Cover: Little Wing

SKID ROW "Little Wing" (Jimi Hendrix)

This sizzling cover of the Jimi Hendrix classic closed out an EP of covers from Skid Row entitled, "B-Sides Ourselves" (released in 1992).

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Review: TJ Courtney “Into The Sky” [EP]

From out of Boston, singer/songwriter TJ Courtney takes the classic grunge sound and gives it a modern overhaul on his new powerhouse of an EP, “Into The Sky”. One listen to the first single, “One Day”, and you can just feel the testosterone pumping through your veins. Even better, Courtney channels his angst into urgent messages relevant to the times. “One Day” tackles the impact of human activity on the globe and “Who Are They” reflects on the new obsession with online voyeurism.

The EP is a sonic joy thanks to producer Andrew Dixon (Colbie Callait and Ryan Cabrera) and mixer Mark Needham (The Killers, Neon Trees). The style of music is going to please fans missing the sounds of early Oasis, Soundgarden, and Foo Fighters, but still reel in the younger generation too. Incidentally, the EP features songs co-written by Jason "Space" Smith (Seether) and Waymon Boone (Splendor).

Misleadingly gentle at the beginning with delicate acoustic guitars, the title track soon explodes into a heavy riff fest in a highly engaging and melodic chorus. Courtney’s compelling vocals soar over the music, lifting each song to greater heights. “One Day” follows a similar formula, but incorporates a bit of an Alice In Chains meets Days Of The New feel. The EP closes with a sizzling cover of my favorite Duran Duran song, “Ordinary World”.

In a word, TJ Courtney is evidence that gritty rock can still be melodic without compromising on its ability to rattle your cage. In this context, “Into The Sky” is a win-win situation.

TJ Courtney – Official site.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

In memory of Brian Jack (Child's Play)

I am sad to report that Brian Jack, frontman of the Baltimore-based rock group Child's Play, has passed away. RIP, Brian.

Be sure to check out our Tribute here.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Review: Joshua Ketchmark “The Bittersweet” [EP]

Modern rock
Joshua Ketchmark is a promising young modern rock and pop artist making his return with a new trifecta of three EPs. The first, due April 17, is called “The Bittersweet” and features four new songs that showcase Ketchmark’s eclectic musical influences. The EP was produced by long-time friend Denny Smith (fORMER/The Great Affairs) and Michael Saint-Leon (George Thorogood, Buddy Guy). The team is a sonic success whether producing emotive balladry or a crushing rocker.

"Covered in Roses" gets things off on a positive note, sounding like a song that would have fit comfortably on his winning debut record, “List of Regrets” (reviewed here). "All These Eyes" is the first single, which has some good lyrics and sounds radio-friendly enough, but gets a little cumbersome with its slow pace. "The Take" triumphantly storms back onto more solid, rocky ground, and is one of the most satisfyingly aggressive Ketchmark songs I’ve heard. On the closing piano-based ballad, "Cigarettes and Wine", Ketchmark is back with his heart on his sleeve, turning in a fantastically earnest vocal, one that has a high probability of inducing chills.

Joshua Ketchmark – Official site.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Melodic rock CD of the week

By Stephen Kasenda

SLAM ST. JOAN “Saved By Grace” (1993)

I bought this blindly from a friend without any information at all except a hint that they sounded like SKID ROW meets SPREAD EAGLE, which is a really interesting combo. At first listen, I did agree with that comparison, but I will add that they also have a LILLIAN AXE element, especially from their early days. Rob Creek's vocal reminds me a lot of Phil Lewis from L.A.GUNS, so it's a completely sleaze / hard rock style and I dig it a lot.

'Saved By Grace', which is also the album's title, is a brilliant tune. The chorus is awesome, but the next two tracks are a bit sloppy (even though I still think both are good). 'Emotional Suicide' is a unique acoustical ballad piece: again, the chorus is awesome and sounds very different than the typical slow song from a regular glam band. 'Just Like The Blues' shows their bluesy side with some chugging riffs. George Karl and Ray Rodriguez prove to be a lethal guitar combo here.

'Eyes' is another winner, highly addictive hard rock piece with fantastic riffs. 'Your Light' is a nice and smooth acoustical ballad and 'Best of Me' is a beautiful southern rock song. The production is good and I'm glad I checked this out for quite a cheap bargain. If you love sleaze and glam, I bet you'll like this one a lot.

Read more of Stephen’s features at MetalMusicArchives.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Under Cover: Sweet Child o' Mine

Scott Gagner "Sweet Child 'o Mine" (Guns N' Roses)

In honor of their induction into the Rock N Roll Hall Of Fame, this week we'll feature indie singer/songwriter Scott Gagner's stripped down version of the Guns N' Roses classic, "Sweet Child o' Mine" here. Be sure to check out his excellent original music too (reviewed here).

Sheryl Crow also did a nice cover of this one:

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Review: Jeff Scott Soto “Damage Control”

AOR/Melodic rock
Rock veteran Jeff Scott Soto is back with this fifth official solo record, “Damage Control”. While no stranger to melodic rock circles, Soto has more than 60 album credits under his belt along with numerous collaborations and recordings across multiple musical genres. Solo started his 30 year rock tenure as the vocalist for guitar guru Yngwie Malmsteen, which led to his serving as frontman for a variety of rock bands including Talisman, Soul SirkUS, and even Journey for a time. In 1994 he released his first solo outing “Love Parade”, followed years later by the acclaimed “Prism” (2002) then “Lost In The Translation” (2005) and “Beautiful Mess” (2009).

A lot of “Damage Control” brings a bit of a grittier edge to Soto’s polished melodic rock voice. Sounding terrific as always, Soto rips right along into meaty songs like “Give A Little More”, “Krazy World”, “After World” and “Tears That I Cry”. The title track opens with a blistering riff before relaxing into an acoustic-based verse – a tasty dynamic that keeps this song engaging. “If I Never Let Her Go”, “How To Love Again”, and “Die A Little” are textbook examples of the perfect melodic rock song, catapulting us back to the 80s in style and substance. As for ballads, Soto pulls on the heartstrings like never before with “Bona Fide”.

There really isn’t a bad track in the bunch – gorgeous, catchy melodies that are brilliantly and passionately sung. There’s not much more you can ask for!

Jeff Scott Soto – Official site.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

You Were Robbed – American Hi-Fi

"You Were Robbed" features artists and bands that should have gotten much more recognition and fame than they did. Check them out now...better late than never!

In 2001, the L.A. pop punk band American Hi-Fi splashed onto the scene with the hit “Flavor of the Week”. In many respects, the band unfortunately was a victim of that theme as they were rapidly crowded out by hundreds of similar bands capitalizing on this popular sound. “Hearts On Parade” was their third effort released in 2005. The band appeared poised for a major comeback – “Parade” took a markedly more mainstream approach and was produced by songwriting and recording guru Butch Walker (Marvelous 3). But this just didn’t happen – some long-time fans were not happy with the catchier tunes and the new label fumbled the release date stateside.

“Hearts On Parade” should be revisited by any fan of pop rock. There is no end to the string of ear candy on this record and it still sounds good after all these years. You can hear the switch to the pop end of the rock spectrum right at the get go in the chorus of the excellent lead off track, “Maybe Won’t Do”:

“The Geeks Get The Girls” was the official lead single that should have been a repeat performance of “Flavor of the Week”. Very Blink-182.

The band ventures into some sugary sweet harmonies with the near bubblegum feel of “We Can’t Be Friends” and explores some very tasty chord changes on the terrific “The Everlasting Fall”.

The record ends strong with the pleasant mid-tempo feel of “Where Do We Go Wrong” and an epic power ballad in the title track.

For just a penny, you can’t go wrong with this CD. What has become of the band? 2010 saw the release of a follow-up record called “Fight The Frequency” (reviewed here While it didn’t reignite the band’s career, we’re excited about recent news of a fall 2012 release (press release follows).

March 28, 2012 – Goomba Music is proud to announce the signing of American Hi-Fi. The original line-up--Stacy Jones (singer/guitarist), Drew Parsons (bass), Jamie Arentzen (guitars) and Brian Nolan (drums)¬is currently recording their as-yet-untitled new album in Los Angeles, CA with an expected worldwide release date this fall. It's being produced by the band and John Fields (Switchfoot, Jimmy Eat World) and recorded at Stacy Jones' studio, The Deathstar.

"It feels great to make music with these guys,” exclaims Stacy Jones. “11 years in, American Hi-Fi is a brotherhood. We made this record because we feel like the world needs a few more guitar bands. We are just doing our small part to keep Rock-N-Roll alive!"

For the past six years, members of American Hi-Fi have been working with Miley Cyrus. Singer Stacy Jones has been her music director and drummer, Jamie Arentzen has been her guitarist and Drew Parsons has played bass at a few concerts. Stacy and Jamie have been featured in everything Miley Cyrus since the beginning of her “Hannah Montana” days, including the 2009 movie and “Best Of Both Worlds” concert film/DVD.

Over the course of their 10-year career, American Hi-Fi has sold over 1 million albums thanks to hit singles such as the Top 10 smash “Flavor Of The Weak,” “Another Perfect Day” (which was used as Coca-Cola's theme for the 2002 Winter Olympics) and “The Art Of Losing,” and they've toured the world with artists such as Elvis Costello, Matchbox Twenty, Bon Jovi, Sum 41 and Fall Out Boy. Before teaming up as American Hi-Fi, the band members performed as part of various influential bands from the '90s Alternative Rock scene, including Veruca Salt and Letters to Cleo, and with Tanya Donelly, Tracy Bonham, Aimee Mann, and Juliana Hatfield individually. Their songs have been heard on TV shows and commercials such as Coors, Labatt Blue, Verizon, “Boston Public,” “24” and “Dawson's Creek,” video games including “Guitar Hero 3,” and in movies including “American Pie 2,” “Freaky Friday,” “Van Wilder” and “Superman Returns.” And Stacy has produced albums at The Deathstar for such artists as The Downtown Fiction, Ingrid Michaelson, Meg & Dia, The Cab, Plain White T's, Hey Monday and Academy Is… and many others.

Tour dates and other news from American Hi-Fi here.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Review: MxPx “Plans Within Plans”

Punk rock
It’s hard to believe that MxPx has been cranking out their brand of “positive punk” for nearly two decades now. You might have thought they disappeared from the scene because we haven’t heard from them since 2007’s “Secret Weapon”. Furthermore, lead vocalist and bassist Mike Herrera has been busy with side projects like his punk western ensemble, Tumbledown (reviewed here).

But on April 3, MxPx returned with their ninth studio record, “Plans Within Plans”, mixed and mastered by punk rock legend and guitarist for the Descendents, Stephen Egerton (who also throws in a guest guitar spot on several tracks). Reflecting on the time off and the influences on the new record, Herrera states, “We all deal with changes differently. We’ve had to realize over the years that regardless of what those changes are, we’ve managed to remain true to the band and adjust things accordingly.”

“Aces Up” kicks the disc off with thundering, fast-paced drums and equally quick guitar riffs and vocals. This is followed by “Screw Loose”, which features thundering, fast-paced drums and equally quick guitar riffs and vocals. This is followed by “Nothing Left”, which features thundering, fast-paced drums and equally quick guitar riffs and vocals. I think you see the problem here.

But then comes “The Times” – a welcome change of pace that is smartly written with positive lyrics and a memorable hook. “Far Away” is the first single and considered the “flagship song” by the band. It is a trademark MxPx tune about overcoming obstacles and is just bursting with energy. As with most MxPx records, “Plans Within Plans” comes at you hard and fast, leaving you pumped, refreshed, and ready to take on the world. While dancing along the edges of monotony by stacking a lot of songs with the same hyper pace, there are several oases on “Plans” really worth writing home about. Those additional highlights include “Best Of Times” (no, not a Styx cover), “Cast Down My Heart”, and “When It Comes To You”.

MxPx – Official site.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Melodic rock CD of the week

By Stephen Kasenda

MOTLEY CRUE “Girls Girls Girls” (1987)

"Girls, Girls, Girls" is considered a pivotal point in Crue's career. After the fans condemned them for releasing the disappointing "Theater of Pain", Crue had to hold on and write a better album - otherwise this might be the end of their career. At that time, Nikki and the gang were at the height of their drug addiction and party-hard lifestyle. White dope, Harley, and naked women are the themes while musically they stripped down the heavy metal outfit and played with 60-70s rock and roll with an occasional bluesy bite, but still retain Crue's signature glam arrangements.

"Wild Side" and "Girls, Girls, Girls" are two singles that saved Crue's ass and since then, those two songs are almost never left out from their concert set list. "You're All I Need" is a big ballad that enjoyed a an appearance on the Billboard Hot 100. It is highly underrated compared to "Home Sweet Home", but both can be considered their all-time greatest ballads ever made. Funny thing is that most people, including Jon Bon Jovi, thought that this was a typical love song, but Nikki’s genius twist is that this song is about a psycho boyfriend instead.

"Dancing On Glass" and "All In The Name of..." are two other relatively unknown tracks that also made this album worthy. "Bad Boy Boogie" has that Aerosmith 70s feel, "Five Years Dad" is also good but somehow too similar to "Girls, Girls, Girls". "Sumthin' For Nuthin'" is perhaps the only filler but not bad at all, and the Elvis cover of "Jailhouse Rock" is a fun live cover to emphasize the rock and roll theme of this album.

Crue's fourth album was a commercial success, racking up 4 platinums in USA alone, and was their best selling album until "Dr.Feelgood" came in 1989 to break the record. Excellent release and I rank this as the Crue's third most fave album after "Shout" and "Feelgood".

Read more of Stephen’s features at MetalMusicArchives.