Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Best of 2012

It’s that time of year again my fellow melodic pop and rock fans! This is not a comprehensive “best of” by any means, but a list of some of the releases I heard this year that truly stand out in my memory. Being human with only 24 hours in the day, I obviously can’t listen to everything, so if I missed something here post it and let us know. Here’s to another great year ahead in finding the best music in 2013…we’ll be back in January with new reviews!

To read our review for some of these artists, check out the alphabetized links on the right panel. The lists below are in no particular order.

Well Wishers
Chris Richards and the Subtractions
Didn’t Planet
The dB’s

Jim Ivins Band
Beta Wolf
Neil Nathan

Modern Hard Rock
October Rage

Pop Rock
Rick Springfield

Melodic rock/AOR
Jack Blades
Jeff Scott Soto
Pride of Lions
Jimi Jamison

Jeff Litman
Cliff Hillis
Fernando Perdomo

Friday, December 14, 2012

Free Hard Rock and Heavy Metal Television


Launched a mere three weeks ago Heavy Metal Television is the talk of the internet. Since the launch, the station has garnered over 30,000 unique visitors with praise such as, "Thanks for this channel from the bottom of my heavy metal heart!", "You have become the soundtrack to my house" and "Heavy Metal Television is my new addiction" being plastered on the station's official Facebook page.

Heavy Metal Television beat Apple, Microsoft and Google in a race to start the first 24 hour web television network on Earth and people are talking. "We're getting eMails from people who are basically marveling at how someone in Los Angeles is watching the same exact thing at the same moment at someone in Stockholm," says a station spokesperson. "Not 3 hours apart, not 8 hours apart and not on demand but at the exact same moment forever. That speaks volumes. The music video is reborn. 24 hour music videos on the world's only true music video channel has gone viral! "

Heavy Metal Television has no log ins, no passwords, minimal commercials, zero pop up ads and it's forever free. Go see for yourself here.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Review: Beta Wolf "Slaybell Sessions" and "Live In Danbury"

Modern rock

A fine way to close out the year, modern rockers Beta Wolf have released two new EPs: "Live in Danbury", containing 5 tracks that capture the band live, and the three-song "The Slaybell Sessions", to brighten your holiday season.

This is a quick release for the band in response to the success of their new video for “Domino,” which features footage from their Danbury, Connecticut, show opening up for Daughtry (see it here). Hearing the band live gives me a whole new appreciation for their energy and chemistry together - excellent.

To help put listeners into the holiday spirit, "The Slaybell Sessions" is a collection of upbeat, acoustic-based interpretations of Christmas classics "Happy Xmas (War is Over)", "Jingle Bell Rock," and "White Christmas."

These EPs arrive hot on the heels of their acclaimed Just Before Morning debut EP (reviewed here).

Beta Wolf - Official site.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Review: John Taglieri “The Very Best Of John Taglieri: The Songs That Should Have Made Me Rich”


John Taglieri, a name that is synonymous with “unsung hero of rock”, has been featured numerous times here at Now This ROCKS! both as a solo artist and with his band, TAG (click here). Now one of New Jersey’s most underrated songwriters has condensed nothing but the best of his prolific career into one retrospective CD entitled, “The Very Best Of John Taglieri…The Songs That Should Have Made Me Rich!!!” As the title suggests, John himself seems a bit amazed and befuddled that his talents haven’t been more lucrative. And while this greatest non-hits package isn’t going to radically change his financial status, it does offer the uninitiated a terrific one-stop shop to become acquainted with Taglieri’s work.

To date, Taglieri has released nine records beginning with 1999’s masterful AOR debut, “Leap Of Faith”. His retrospective (marking his 10th record in 12 years) contains two songs from each of his first nine releases and two brand new tracks. It is hard to pick out highlights from a best of collection, but try these on for size: “Leap Of Faith”, “Reason To Believe”, “How Will I Know”, “After Farewell”, and “Make Me Believe”. If you can imagine a mix of Springsteen and Bon Jovi, with a touch of Sister Hazel, be sure to check these out.

Perhaps more important than fame and fortune, Taglieri has been able to sustain his music career on his own terms. He’s traveled the world playing his songs his way, toured with Rik Emmett, Sister Hazel, Edwin McCain, Butch Walker and many others, and got many pats on the back along the way. It may be just as well that he’s never struck it rich – all too often the monetary success kills the independent artist and in that context, we all would have lost.

John Taglieri – Official site.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Melodic rock CD of the week: Sargant Fury

By Stephen Kasenda

SARGANT FURY “Still Want More” (1991)

I have to admit, the band's name is really a joke, and I thought at first, they're just another average and forgettable band. When I first heard their ballad, "Don't You Know", from an old compilation tape, I had an interest in finding out what kind of band this is and what type of music they play. When I got the chance to hear their debut from start to finish, I was completely surprised, if not shocked, with the energy, rawness, and high quality musicianship on this record. This Hanover-based act played solid melodic hard rock/heavy metal inspired by the American sound of White Lion and Dokken, blended with their hometown's senior bands, Victory and Pink Cream 69.

The twelve tracks present here are mostly uptempo, pretty good if you're looking for an adrenaline pumping album in the traditional heavy metal way. "Still You Want More" has a nice harmonic chorus and mesmerizing tones. In my opinion, this is a big opener and their finest moment. "No. 9" and "Stand Up" are also killer tracks with outstanding solos by the duo Steffan/Grosser. The English singer, Andrew "Mac" Dermott, is also a phenomenal front man, with a strong raspy timbre and a large range - his capability was shining all over the album. "Do You Remember" and "Just One Night" both have an exciting and memorable chorus, and these two songs are the most potential chart-breakers. It's a shame they didn't get the recognition they deserved.

Handled by Tommy Newton from Victory, the production level is very good and the arrangements are massive with no unnecessary fillers at all. This is a forgotten gem you have to buy if you're a fan of big vocal, huge guitars, and melodic composition. A classy debut by a truly great band!

Read more of Stephen’s features at MetalMusicArchives.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Rare CD: Brass Kitten "E-Z-N Pretty"


1990 Glam sleaze rock with sound of 80s hairbands

Sold for $92.78 on ebay.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Review: Jakob Samuel “Pastpresent”

Pop rock

Jakob Samuel supplies the powerful vocals for the Swedish hard rock band called The Poodles (review here). He is doing his own thing for the first time, calling his debut solo record “Pastpresent”. “Pastpresent” is much tamer than his work with The Poodles, featuring poppy keyboards, sax, and sappier lyrics. But the melodies are the gorgeous and, considered with his emotive vocals, “Pastpresent” is going to thrill fans of lighter pop rock.

“Stars and Grace” is a sweeping and uplifting number in the vein of Robbie Williams’ best work, a brilliant song from father to child. “Carry On” is equally satisfying, and its blend of Jellyfish and ABBA influences make it one of my favorites on the record. “Even If” is another bouncy piano-driven tune sure to lift your spirits. You’ll hear some Supertramp coming through on the soothing tune “Together”. The carnival atmosphere and memorable chorus makes “Vagabond Shows” a fun listen too. Some of the other songs take a little longer to show their charms, and others sound dreadfully dated.

Probably not a record for most Poodles fans, but if you appreciate thoughtful, catchy songs, there are more than a few winners on “Pastpresent”.

Jakob Samuel – Official site.

Check out the video for “Stars and Grace”

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Review: October Rage “Outrage”

Modern rock

October Rage was formed by brothers Nick and William Roberts in 2008. Based in New South Wales in Australia, this modern rock band is poised to take the globe by storm.

In September 2009 the band headed to Melbourne to track their debut single, "Silver Line" with world renowned producer Adrian Hannan (The Androids, Taxiride, etc). The single was mastered by Martin Pullan (Deep Purple, Split Enz, Jimmy Barnes) at Edensound Studio. Soon after, the band won a contest that allowed them to open for Bon Jovi in Sydney, Australia on the band's "Circle Tour." In September 2010 the band recorded more with Hannan to complete their debut album "Outrage”.

“Outrage” is one impressive debut record. Nearly every cut slams meaty riffs and driving rhythm into your ears, with each song leaving you eager to hear another. The vocals are perfect for modern rock, reminding me of Saliva or Daughtry at times. But October Rage is not all about bombast – these guys write with hooks and melody in mind, building compelling verses that erupt into arena-styled choruses. The band also isn’t all about the rage so to speak, as they can belt out acoustic based rockers and power ballads like nobody’s business. I enjoyed just about everything here, but standouts include the blistering “Set You Free”, “Wayside”, “Home”, and the radio-friendly single “Silverline”. On the slower side, check out “Into The Night” and “Under The Wind”. 

In June 2012, October Rage headed to the US, supporting acts like Saliva, Steel Panther, and Sevendust. Fans of modern hard rock are doing themselves a disservice if they aren’t checking out October Rage. “Outrage” is one of the best debuts in the genre.

October Rage – Official site.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Melodic rock CD of the week: Stryper

By Stephen Kasenda

STRYPER “Murder By Pride” (2009)

I can say that "Murder By Pride" is truly a homage to the fans. Michael Sweet opened up his ears after harsh critics railed on them for the comeback album, "Reborn", for being too modern and quite far from their origins. "Murder By Pride", without leaving the idealism and passion for evolving, ambitiously recreates the classic atmosphere that was told by Sweet as an album with lots of melodies, lots of screams, and lots of guitars. Michael Sweet was responsible for the whole songwriting process and kudos to him for keeping the fire burning.

"Eclipse Of The Son" decently opens the album, a safe uptempo track where I can hear a mix of Stryper's classic vibe with some newer elements. A pretty solid song, but "4 Leaf Clover" is the real mood pumper. This track is heavy and modern but still allows your ears to easily recognize the Stryper's pattern from the rhythm. Up next is Boston's classic, "Peace of Mind", a fun cover track with Tom Scholz contributing some guitars - I like this song. "Alive" is a great power ballad, the title track has a powerful punchy chorus and already became a concert regular, and "I Believe" is a good contemporary track (and probably you'll agree when I say Michael Sweet listened to a lot of Creed when he wrote this song). "Love Is Why" is another sparkling gem and "My Love (I'll Always Show)" is such a beautiful mid-tempo track, closing the album with style. Out of twelve songs, perhaps only "Mercy Over Blame" and "Everything" are decent fillers.

While I don't think "Reborn" is disastrously ugly, "Murder By Pride" is a real contender to be a strong release like "To Hell With The Devil" and "In God With Trust", two that earned the band fame and fortune. Like I said earlier, this is tribute to the long-time fans and I would say their hunger should be fulfilled. I'm just hoping that this isn't their peak yet and Sweet and the gang will continue to deliver ultra high-quality releases in the future. Highly recommended!

Read more of Stephen’s features at MetalMusicArchives.