Friday, September 21, 2012

Review: The dB’s “Falling Off The Sky”


The beloved indie power pop band, The dB’s, are back with their original line up and a new album after three decades. “Falling Off The Sky” is an amazing return that captures the youthful energy of the 80s yet also showcases the band’s maturity. The dB’s were always ahead of their time, but “Falling Off The Sky” feels like they’ve gone back in time and recaptured the magical chemistry that is usually exclusive to debut records.

The new record opens with great vitality – “That Time Is Gone” is a gritty, melodic rock tune with a bass line that just bites into the rhythm and shakes it back and forth. “Before We Were Born” is another driving rocker that is instantly charming. Horns augment the radiant tune, “The Wonder of Love”, while graceful songs like “Far Away and Long Ago” rest on a pillow of cozy strings. Additional highlights include the jangle pop of “World To Cry”, the tempting sing-a-long “Collide-oOo-Scope”, and the earnest acoustic ballad “I Didn’t Mean To Say That”.

“Falling Off The Sky” gets better with each spin and it won’t be leaving my player anytime soon. The melodies are so perfectly crafted that “Falling Off The Sky” should be textbook for pop songwriters. Hands down one of the best releases of 2012, not to mention the most welcome reunion.

The dB’s – Official site.

Check out a live performance of “That Time Is Gone”:

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Review: Honeymoon Stallions “Moonlighting”

Power pop

I learned a thing or two listening to The Goldbergs (reviewed here) – and that is to pay attention to anything Andy Goldberg touches. His latest project is The Honeymoon Stallions and their first offering is “Moonlighting”.

Recorded in Nashville with local musicians, “Moonlighting” doesn’t stray far at all from the tasty pop formula Goldberg has followed all along. Stuffed to the brim with overt influences from The Beatles and Badfinger, this debut Honeymoon Stallions record will appease his old fans and hopefully recruit many new ones to the fold. This is perhaps most evident on the instantly hummable opening track, “If It Wasn’t For You”, which shines with classic AM radio overtones. The other 8 songs in this collection follow suit, with highlights including the radio friendly (naturally) “Radio Song”, the chillin’ “Driftin’”, and the very Lennon-esque “Every Now and Then”. But go beyond the highlights – each song is beautifully constructed, with stirring harmonies and cozy melodies – not a bad one in the bunch.

The Honeymoon Stallions – Official site.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Review: Pride of Lions “Immortal”

Melodic rock/AOR

For the unaware, the dynamic duo behind Pride Of Lions is the legendary melodic rocker Jim Peterik (Survivor, Ides of March) and young gun vocalist Toby Hitchcock. Together they have released a trio of modern melodic rock albums that are destined to become classics in the genre. “Immortal” marks their return after a five year break that allowed the guys to work on other projects. In the words of Peterik, “After producing and writing the songs for Jimi Jamison’s wonderful 2009 release, Crossroads Moments (reviewed here), I needed a minute or two to get me juices back flowing in the direction of writing a great new Pride Of Lions record. When Toby decided to do his solo album (reviewed here), this was the perfect time for reflection. Once I started writing, the flood gates just opened up. I feel this is the CD to put Pride of Lions on the map once and for all.”

As with previous efforts, “Immortal” is filled with energetic anthems, mid-tempo rockers, and monster ballads. The mix of pace and style does not detract from the Pride of Lions signature sound, but provides a great dynamic when listening to the album from start to finish. The baritone vocals of Peterik balance well against the theatrical vocals of Hitchcock, who is likely to draw comparisons to the great Dennis DeYoung (Styx).

There are many songs one could shine the spotlight on, including the dazzling first single, “Delusional”, which is basically a healthy dose of child-rearing advice about not dosing our children with drugs just because they want to be unique. Similarly, “Ask Me Yesterday” ponders the wisdom that is found in youth, often in hindsight. On the power ballad side, “Everything Money Can’t Buy” and “Sending My Love” really shine here. “Sending My Love” features a particularly poignant vocal performance from Hitchcock, as the song truly connects with him: “Being a new father, it gets more and more heartbreaking to be away from my loved ones on the road. I love the road, don’t get me wrong, but it’s tough being separated from them as well.” Of particular interest to Survivor fans will be the track “Vital Signs” – this was a tune being worked on for the blockbuster release of the same name back in the 80s. Peterik never quite finished it until now, and I think most people will agree it was worth the wait.

Whether or not to add “Immortal” to your Pride of Lions collection is a no brainer – and if you were a fan of Survivor, Journey, or Styx, then it is time you discover that this kind of music lives on in this band.

Check out the video for “Delusional”:

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Review: Dog Society “Emerge”


Recently covered in our “You Were Robbed” feature, Dog Society comes barking back with plenty of bite this September 25 with the long, long-awaited follow up to their 1993 debut album, “Test Your Own Eyes” (see our previous feature here). This New York band was critically acclaimed for their unique blend of rock, funk, and folk, and the new album, “Emerge” seeks to pick right up where they left off.

Dog Society has remained ever-present on the NYC rock circuit. Influenced by classic pop-rock artists such as The Who and The Beatles, their songs remain centered on melody with crisp production and warm harmonies. The band is often a tribute to the best of AM radio and “Emerge” contains a collection of well-crafted tunes that present elements of 70s songwriting in a contemporary framework.

The new record begins with the radiant “Being Here”, which is lyrically appropriate for a comeback, and it’s huge Beatles inspired chorus will be stuck in your head for days. The band quickly shifts to a mild bossa nova beat to begin “A Good Friend”, but come rearing right back with crunchy guitars to decorate another sugary chorus. First single “The Fuse Begins” shines with overtones of the debut record’s sound, and the pleasantly breezy acoustic verses are the perfect soundtrack to summer’s end. The Lennon inspired melodies resurface in a big way on “Pink Sun”, which could perhaps be considered a musical sequel to “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”. “Suffer A Smile” is also an irresistible little earworm. The album closes with “Salt”, which is just the right seasoning to top off this listening experience. There’s only a couple puzzling items, such as the distorted experimentation that blunts “Shade Grown” and the wildly dissonant “Spaceboots” - these are for the more adventurous listener. There is also less funk rock in the mix, but plenty of acoustic-based jams that stay focused on a good melody.

It’s remarkable to me how “at home” the band sounds after a near 20 year absence on record. “Emerge” will surely please fans of “Test Your Own Eyes” and should pull in some new recruits as well. Unlike a lot of reunion efforts that are just about the cash, Dog Society sounds genuine and fresh, passionate about the go fetch!

Dog Society – Official site.

Check out the video for “The Fuse Begins”

Monday, September 17, 2012

Melodic rock CD of the week: Bad Habit

By Stephen Kasenda

BAD HABIT “Atmosphere” (2011)

BAD HABIT's arrival to the scene in 1989 was pretty late, but hats off to their persistence and still paving their way back in 1995 through “Revolution”, even though the climate wasn’t really friendly for their music. BAD HABIT survived the millennium and return strong with their sixth studio album, 'Atmosphere'. With quality as high as the debut, it even surpasses their previous achievements and clinches a major victory – I think it is their best album to date.

Bax Fehling and Hal Johnston are the masterminds of BAD HABIT. 'Atmosphere' is not only a record full of harmonies and melodies, but it also contains heart-melting ballads as well as excellent musicianship by the band. Every song has hit potential but there are several personal faves that really shine here. 'In The Heat of The Night' is a real big blast (check out the massive chorus, it is super-fantastic). 'Every Time You Cry' and 'Fantasy' are two huge gems too, 'Save Me' is catchy and addictive, and 'Catch Me When I Fall' is also a show-stealer.

'I Wanna Be The One' and 'Angel of Mine' are slower tunes that could be your girlfriend’s favorites. They're poppish and harmless but elegant and also passionate, especially with a stellar vocal delivery by Bax. For an AOR album, the heaviness level of the rhythm section is quite high and you can hear for yourself how the guitars roar loud and high - if they pump up the tempo much faster, this might leap into melodic metal territory.

A superb release and surprisingly after more than 20 spins in a single year, I find myself still longing for more. This is a perfect 100% for me and a runner-up of 2011, highly recommended for fans of Scandinavian MHR/AOR.

Read more of Stephen’s features at MetalMusicArchives.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Friday Videos

Loverboy has released a new record with 3 new songs and re-recorded versions of several classics. Check out one of the new tunes, "Heartbreaker", from "Rock N Roll Revival":

The new single from Pride of Lions (featuring Toby Hitchcock and Jim Peterik) is "Delusional", from their forthcoming fourth record, "Immortal":

Next up we have a new modern rocker called "Tremolo", the first song off the debut full-length album "New Symmetry" from Wires In The Walls:

And finally, a cover tune for you. This one comes from an entire album of cover tunes from Santana and various guests called "Guitar Heaven". My favorite track off the record was his version of Def Leppard's "Photograph" featuring Daughtry:

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Review: Hess “Living In Yesterday”

Melodic hard rock

Harry Hess, the throaty voice behind the phenomenal but now defunct hard rock outfit Harem Scarem, returns with his second solo effort, “Living In Yesterday” (not counting his excellent work as First Signal in 2010, reviewed here). Recorded at his Toronto studio, the songs included on “Living in Yesterday” are the result of Hess’ travels around the globe over the last few years with stops in Stockholm, Amsterdam, Brussels, Nashville, and Germany. Hess has no shortage of superstar guests contributing on the new record, including his former bandmates Pete Lesperance, Creighton Doane and Darren Smith, Tommy Denander, Marcie Free (Unruly Child), Howie Simon and Magnus Karlsson among others.

Hess set out with the goal to make some more great melodic rock music – just one listen to the new record makes it clear he’s achieved that goal once again. After all these years, consistently churning out one great slab of melodic rock after another, it still amazes me that Hess is not a household name. “Living In Yesterday” pumps out a continuous stream of top quality rock anthems, which is all I ever expect from Hess. Considered together, this collection of tracks reminds me of Brian Howe-era Bad Company. While no song is bad, some of the major standouts include the radio-friendly “Don’t Leave Me”, the driving rocker “Nothing Lasts Forever”, the groovy and contemporary “I Don’t Wanna Want You”, and the encouragement anthem that is the title track. If you enjoy power ballads, there are many here for your playlist consideration, including “It’s Over”, “What If”, “I Live For You”, and “Where To Run”.

Did you miss our 2010 interview with Harry Hess? Check it out here.

Hess – Official site.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Review: Lannie Flowers “New Songs Old Stories”

Power pop

In 2008, power pop singer/songwriter Lannie Flowers won huge critical acclaim for his innovative record, “Same Old Story”, which was a musical collage of song snippets strung together to tell the story of teenage boredom, romance, and loss. The unusual format of the record had some fans begging to hear full-length versions of these song snippets. Fast forward to 2012, the wishes of these fans have been granted on his latest release, the aptly titled “New Songs Old Stories”. Two extra songs from that era are also included among the nine tracks here.

As the song snippets on “Same Old Story” foreshadowed, there are some major league power pop winners to be found. First single and album opener, “Another Weekend” quickly reminds us of the songwriting skills of Lannie Flowers - he lures you in with an enticing verse and blows your mind with a hugely memorable chorus. The melodies on “Come On Girl” are even more meticulously constructed, with spot on backing vocals heightening the listening experience. There a great Cheap Trick energy associated with “You Said”. The record ends very strong with highlights such as the excellent “Tired Of Being Alone” and the radiant “Give Me Another Chance”.

While I must admit that I found his previous release, “Circles” (reviewed here), to be more instantly engaging, “New Songs Old Stories” is sure to please fans, especially those who fell in love with “Same Old Story”. One downside for some fans is going to be the short length of the record, which clocks in just under a half hour. But no worries – he’ll be back in 2013 with the next album in his trilogy, “Home”.

Lannie Flowers – Official site.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Melodic rock CD of the week: Y & T

By Stephen Kasenda

Y&T “In Rock We Trust” (1984)

Y&T, or also known as Yesterday & Today, reached their first commercial milestone in 1984, after the groundbreaking release of "In Rock We Trust", which shot their name to the surface. This is the band's highest charting and bestselling album, racking up gold status, and becoming the only album that penetrated the Canadian chart. The concept of this album was to polish their hard rock foundation with a glam metal touch popularized in the mid-80s.

In my opinion, the strongest tracks of the album are: "Rock And Roll's Gonna Save The World", an AC/DC-soaked opener with an anthemic and fiery chorus; "I'll Keep On Believin'", a Survivor-like power ballad with a huge sing-along chorus; "Don't Stop Runnin'", an up-tempo stadium-chanting track with a gigantic and memorable chorus; and the passionate ballad, "This Time", which is also a very well written song.

There are several other good tracks such as "Masters and Slaves", "Break Out Tonight!", and "Lipstick And Leather", which has a thick Kiss vibe. The album has a couple of fillers such as "Life,Life,Life" and "She's A Liar", which lessen the total value of the album. However, with a bowl of hot hits, "In Rock We Trust" remains a great piece of history in the band's career and a great pick for fans of hard rock/glam metal.

Read more of Stephen’s features at MetalMusicArchives.


Friday, September 7, 2012

Video: Kyoto Drive "Breathe"

We covered Kyoto Drive back in July (review here), and their EP, "The Approach" was full of excellent pop rock. The official video for the single "Breathe" has just been released and can be seen below - check it out! More info on the band can be found here.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Review: Tin Man Walking “Tin Man Walking”

Power pop

Matthew Allen and Damian Hagger formed Tin Man Walking “as a vehicle for their power pop sensibilities”. The self-titled album turns out to be a real treat for pop rock fans, with 10 super sweet confections that hit all the right buttons. While the melodies follow classic power pop formulas, there is a mild grit to the vocals and sizzling guitar solos that give their sound an extra punch.

“Big Chorus Love” gets things off to a wonderful start with a satisfying crunch in the verses and a savory sing-a-long chorus. “Anybody Else” is a slow-burning rocker with another melt in your mouth chorus. An additional highlight is the sparkling “Love Is A Pop Song”. The band shows its gift for balladry with the excellent “We Should Be Kissing”, as well as “Not Coming Home”, “You Had To Be There”, and “Love N’ L.A.”. The ballads are quite the detour from the crunchy pop nuggets, veering into Richard Marx territory (not that there is anything wrong with that!). It is refreshing to hear a band that can balance the hard and soft rock so effectively on a single album.

I enjoyed the top half of the record more than the bottom half, but this is largely because the top half set a very high bar. Tin Man Walking struts its stuff with this most impressive debut – and it has more than enough heart to go around - so go get it today! Recommended for fans of Weezer, Cheap Trick, or All-American Rejects.

Tin Man Walking – Official site.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Review: Didn’t Planet “We’re Goin’ Nowhere”

Power pop

“We’re Goin’ Nowhere” is the debut album from the four-piece power pop band called Didn’t Planet. Didn’t Planet hails from Boston and possesses the songwriting skill of Material Issue and sense of humor of Bowling For Soup.

“We’re Goin’ Nowhere” is a sympathy valentine to musicians who long to play originals but have to make ends meet by being in a cover band. With lyrics such as “Maryanne wants to hear Duran Duran from a friendly neighborhood cover band” and “I’m like a marathon runner encased in cement”, the sentiment is clear. Each song is a little window into that bittersweet situation, with amusing interludes in-between. The fun the band had putting this collection together is palpable and contagious. But don’t let the light-heartedness fool you – these guys know their craft. “We’re Goin’ Nowhere” sparkles with radiant harmonies and super catchy melodies. Standout tracks include “Maryanne(s)”, “California”, and the melancholy track “Bitter”. With a roadhouse boogie feel, “Kinda Got It Goin’ On” is also a fun diversion, as is the folky closer “Someday I Might”.

Didn’t Planet – Official site.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Review: Wanderlust “Record Time”


The debut record from Philadelphia’s Wanderlust, “Prize”, has been on my “desert island” list since the day I heard it in 1995. Arguably one of the greatest pop rock records of the 90s, “Prize” pretty much marked the beginning and the end of this wonderful band. Despite the great collection of songs, huge airplay for the single “I Walked”, a tour with Collective Soul, and an opening act for The Who, “Prize” didn’t catapult the band to the superstardom they deserved. While fans have no doubt enjoyed lead singer/songwriter Scot Sax’s newer projects, which include solo efforts, Queen Electric (review here), and Feel (reviews here), and guitarist Rob Bonfiglio’s solo work (review here), they’ve surely craved a reunion and new music from Wanderlust.

Fast forward to 2012 and that moment has finally arrived. Produced by Barrie Maguire (Wallflowers, Natalie Merchant), the new album is called “Record Time” and features 11 new songs and a newly recorded version of “I Walked”. Sax opens with a question on the song “Lou Reed”: “How do you write a song?”, which must be rhetorical as these guys certainly know their craft. “Lou Reed” captures the sound and spirit of the Wanderlust of yore, satisfying the appetites of fans who waited so patiently for more pop gems like this. A number of other cuts like this stand out, including the catchy “Friend Tonight”, “Fork In The Road” (reminding me of Ringo Starr’s “It Don’t Come Easy”) , and the gorgeous ballad, “Blow Away”. Some others that grow on you after a few spins include the melancholy down-on-your-luck anthem, “Easy Street” (“If I am on easy street I must be in the traffic jam”), and the gentle acoustic lullaby, “Like Stars”.

The band loses me on some atypically unmelodious tracks near the end, such as “Photographic Mind” and the monotonous “You Make Me”. While I don’t foresee “Record Time” joining my desert island list, it is a welcome return that leaves me wanting more.

Wanderlust – Official site.