A cool quartet for you, all four albums released through Frontiers Music and all out last week (January 25th). Are fans of melodic and hard rock acts in for a treat from this bunch? Read on and find out…
Hitchcock’s name (at least this particular Hitchcock) isn’t one I’m familiar with, but many of you may recognise him from Pride of Lions. That band is taking a break while Jim Peterik is preparing a new Jim Peterik’s World Stage album, so Hitchcock has teamed up with Swedish producer Daniel Flores (Murder of My Sweet, Mind’s Eye, Find Me) to create something that owes more to the 80s than neon legwarmers and the Rubik’s Cube.
For fans of Foreigner, Survivor and Journey, this keyboard-led melodic rock storm is absolutely wonderful. I’ll be completely honest and say that from the initial description I didn’t think it would be for me. OK, so if I’m not listening to MP3s off my phone in the car then it’s a classic rock station so I wasn’t going to hate it, but it was far more enjoyable than I expected. A lot of this is down to Hitchcock’s superb vocals (seriously – listen to “Show Me How To Live” and convince me you’re not blown away), but the musicians making up the group play a huge part – and the songwriting is spot on.
The only dud moment on the entire album is the opening keyboard flurry from “No Surrender”. It just doesn’t fit with everything else and initially had me thinking “yup, not my kind of thing”. I’m so glad I let the album play right through.
So if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to kick off my Air Jordans, crack open a can of Quatro and crank up the boom box for another listen.
Quiet Riot should need no introduction. A hard rock band formed back in the mid-70’s with an original lineup including Randy Rhoads, they’ve constantly been on the go. One Night in Milan was recorded last year at the Frontiers Rock Festival and marked the band’s first ever gig in Italy. Hard to believe!
There are fifteen tracks on the album and they span a huge career. For the non-fan the obvious songs are the two covers – both of Slade originals – “Mama Weer All Crazee Now” and “Cum On Feel The Noize”, but one of the highlights is actually a slower number, “Thunderbird”. Dedicated to the memories of Rhodes and ex-singer Kevin Dubrow, the song is played live with a piano for the first time since its recording in 1982. The band certainly went all out to make this live appearance special.
Once the album gets going it’s pretty enjoyable, but I do feel that the band take a couple of songs to really get going. The crowd are also really far down in the mix mid-song, which makes some of the bits where James Durbin calls for them to join in a little weak. As a collection of known tracks, though, it’s as good as you’ll get for this era and will likely be enjoyed by existing fans.
Jetboy are another act with a bit of history behind them, originating from 1983. They’ve not released anything since 1990, but couldn’t resist the urge to get all creative when approached by Frontier. Weaving sounds inspired by the likes of LA Guns and Warrant, this is a straightforward rock album with a delicate hint of the sleazy side of the aforementioned acts.
Opener “Beating the Odds” didn’t really grab me, but things got better with “Born To Fly”. Then the acoustic tones and catchy rhythms of “The Way That You Move Me” took things in a slightly different direction and my toe really started tapping. This was more like it!
After this, the album doesn’t dip again, and ends with a cracking number, “Party Time!” which would actually have been better kicking things off. Although maybe just too obvious a choice?
It did take me a listen or two to get into Born To Fly, but once I did it felt as comfortable as a pair of old shoes. It’s not an album to set the world on fire, but it’s certainly enjoyable enough.
Dysphoria kicks off at great pace, opening number “Pure Evil” epitomising its title. My initial thoughts were that we had an album wrongly labelled as hard rock when it should have been metal, but the razor blade guitars give way later on, and the tempo drops somewhat. This is definitely a rocker, even if the final eponymous track could pass for Iron Maiden-lite.
“Wild Butterflies” couldn’t be any more different, beginning with a slow, chugging bass rhythm and gentle guitars. By track 4, “My Heart Belongs To You”, Starbreaker have also covered the rock ballad and demonstrated most of their chops. One thing that you have to listen out for, throughout the album, is the lead guitar. There are some great flurries and brief solos.
Begun as a side project by TNT’s former frontman when he was still with the band, the influences are clear. Partnered with Primal Fear’s Magnus Karlsson, the pair have rattled off some decent numbers for their third release. There are a couple which fall flat – they just don’t have the hook that others do – but it’s a capable ten tracks overall.