Janet Gardner, self titled, Pavement
Not constrained by the history of Vixen, Janet Gardner has released this her first solo album with a slightly heavier more modern direction reminiscent of Halestorm. Janet is still very much a part of Vixen and their much loved sound, but in the medium of a solo album she has been able to express other parts of herself. It is fresh and exciting and, while we would also love to hear a new album from Vixen, this will do very nicely in the interim! Reinvigorated by her marriage with Justin James she collaborates with him on this record, created while Vixen were on hiatus due to a line up change. We are glad she seized this opportunity to produce this awesome new album!
An immediate in your face metal chant, it’s a take no prisoner attitude from the first with storming first track ‘Rat Hole’. The lyric ‘dirty motherfuckers’ tells you immediately that this is a new approach from the beautiful foxy lady as she shows you her teeth and why she has such a reputation for her powerful voice. A heavy chugging riff indicates the masculine presence of Justin James with slight thrash influences, but the chorus is pure get under your skin 80s commercial hard rock. ‘Hippycrite’ opens with a heavier guitar riff and has a pop influenced chorus and drum machine style beat set against a lyric with a streak of anger and 80s style guitar shredding that makes it undoubtedly rock and likely to appeal to all of Janet’s previous fans. ‘If you want me’ combines a lighter well crafted vocal melody which is quite Vixen in approach with a driving grinding riff and an 80s style guitar break in a genius something for everybody combination. ‘Candle’ is more of a ballad and love song and could easily have been a Vixen record were it not for a Steve Stevens style interlude where Justin James intercedes with a bit of testosterone fuelled fast paced burst of pure ‘look at me’ guitar energy. ‘Your Problem Now’ is a strong hard rocker with Janet singing at full throttle reminding of Smashed Gladys, Saraya and Lizzy Hale who can belt a tune out to rival the boys anyday. ‘Let it be Over’ is an anti war song with an awesome passionate guitar solo like one of those in a great Michael Jackson song (in the days when guitar heroes lifted Jackson’s songs) and strikes a great balance in the vocals between gentle and peaceful to suit the message, but with a moment of Janet letting rip with full force to indicate the anger against the senseless waste of life.
The apocalyptic guitar passages in ‘Lost’ give this track a nineties edge while retaining a strong 80s sensibility in the vocal delivery. ‘The Grind’ has Janet catching the 90s groove for parts of the vocals taking the cue from the heavy bass line, with some lighter 80s style vocals thrown in for contrast. “Best Friend’ is a pretty acoustic ballad and an indication of the happiness and bliss of new love. ‘The Good or the Bye’ is a good little barnstormer with a witty lyric and southern rock influence executed with rock n roll style guitar a la Junkyard and whisky laden vocals a la Britny Fox or classic Cinderella.
Janet has delivered an album taking some of the great aspects of Vixen, but combined with the masculine energy of her husband has resulted in producing something palpably different. Refreshing and new, while we can’t wait for the next Vixen album, we loved this opportunity to see this particular vixen with a small ‘v’ produce something with a little more bite.
Pre-order via iTunes right here and get the new single 'Rat Hole' - officially out on August 18th.
Kickin Valentina, Imaginary Creatures, Mighty Music
Scorchin’ second album from Atlanta based self confessed ‘loud unapologetic rock n roll.’ Named after a fetish artist who liked to kick men in the balls there’s nothing subtle about what this band do. Prepare to feel assaulted in the ears, at least, in the best possible way. However, these guys know what they are doing, already award winning and with diverse influences from punk, sleaze, eighties, sixties and seventies rock and fifties stuff like when Elvis was raw, they’re rough and ready but they know what makes a tune.
‘Turns Me On’ is a Guns n Roses crossed with Faster Pussycat influenced classic in the making like a sucker punch to the jaw. However my favourite on the album is ‘Crazy’ which is a slower southern style track with a whisky laden vocal betraying a mature songwriting style that could be born from old souls with a lifetime of hard real life experience in Nashville now that it’s a rock n roll as much as a country town. ‘Heartbreak’ is another track that’ll make you think the band has had nine lives of sorrow such is the level of feeling. ‘Imaginary Creature’ is a bit of a metal anthem with some Teutonic influences and a memorable title track.
‘Devil’s hand’ has a Slash style guitar break to be admired and blistering solos abound across the album. Wherever guitar master Heber Pampillon has been hiding he’s been practicing and I was not surprised to hear he had studied classical guitar and teaches too. However, there is nothing pretentious about these guys. ‘She’s Street and I’m Trailer’ illustrates that these guys are never gonna forget their roots (which run river deep and mountain high). Finally, they have a very hands on approach with fans on social media and understand the metal tribe vibe of quality old Skool bands like AC/DC.
One of the best albums I’ve heard for a while. Their debut album was a solid effort, but this new album is much, much better. If you wish you had been there when ‘Appetite for Destruction’ came out don’t miss the boat (or should it be night train) with Kickin Valentina.
In relation to this album it is necessary to cover a little history first. This is not Jack Russell’s Great White. This album is the second one from the line up that brought you ‘Elation’ with original Great White members Mark Kendall (Guitars), Michael Lardie (guitars and keyboards) and Audie Desbrow (drums) and the reason that’s important to know is that the Jack Russell line up delivered a very diverse album that may be challenging for fans of old Skool Great White earlier this year and it may be important for some not to confuse the two. ‘Full Circle’ using original producer Michael Wagener is much more likely to be to the taste of those traditional fans. It’s likely that the title ‘Full Circle’ is meant to signal that return to roots which may be music to the ears of most fans.
‘I’m Alright’ is an optimistic start and it’s a lighthearted rocker explaining how so much money has been spent on lovely ladies, but the band don’t care at all cos they had such a good time and if it’s one thing people associate with Great White it’s the party spirit. ‘Movin on’ indicates, however, that the band has changed somewhat and while the music is still classic rock it is undoubtedly more mature in themes and execution and a little more chilled and the band are clearly ok with that. In fact, they’re still having a ball albeit in a more considered way as ‘This is the Life’ indicates. That track reminded me of recent albums from Europe the Swedish band so you get the picture a strong melodic hard rock song with great guitar and vocals, what’s not to like! ‘Let me In’ is more of a ballad and easy on the ear. ‘Moonshine’ was not my favourite track on the album as the chorus seemed a little one dimensional to me, but I’ve seen great reviews of that track so some people clearly love it and it’s fair to say it doesn’t sound like anything else. ‘Cry of a Nation’ is a beautiful slow song with lot of feelin and a lifetime of musicianship and skill harnessed to create something laid back with a powerful message in the tradition of Bob Marley and, although this is definitely rock and not reggae, it may cause people to break out the smokes. “Give it Up’ and ‘I’ve Got Your Back’ continue the chilled theme, however with ‘Big Time’ and ‘Never Let You Down’ the tempo is rocked up again whilst keepin plenty of groove.
Hard copies of the CD will include a DVD “The Making of Full Circle’ which will no doubt contain some really interesting material showing the band at work with Michael Wagener at Wireworld in Nashville to create this worthwhile and super polished album. It may not be all hell raising and decadence anymore, but it is authentically Great White and you will recognise the band in the album. As reassuring as the re-appearance of the big fish on the cover, this band still has plenty of bite.
For more, go to www.officialgreatwhite.com.
Halfway There, Mark Slaughter, EMP
Mark Slaughter is back with his second album demonstrating that while his roots are firmly in metal and rock he is not a one trick pony and, as you would expect, has undergone a certain amount of development since the glory days of ‘Stick it to Ya’. Handling engineering/producing/writing duties on this as well as vocals and instruments, it’s a truly personal affair.
The record falls largely into two halves. The first half is more like the traditional metal material many people would expect from Mark, opening with ‘Hey You’ with a shout a long gig friendly chorus, strong guitar presence and beloved waterfall shredding. ‘Devoted’ is even heavier and while still melodic with a great tune it has a driving doom metal style bass line marking the material as post Bay Area thrash while retaining a commercial edge. ‘Supernatural’ is a song with a great hook and whilst firmly rock with butterfly licks in the high range, has a slight r n b influence. It retains the feel of a familiar classic rock song though and, so easily does it run on the ear, it is probably the stand out track on the album. Title track ‘Halfway There’ has a slower groove. Still with a traditional rock sound for which Slaughter is known and loved, it’s halfway to a ballad with harmonies and a statement solo which reminded us a little of Brian May. Everything for a fan of rock classics to like and love. ‘Forevermore’ has an upbeat 80s feel reminding us of Bon Jovi having striking vocals with just the right amount of rasp to give that rugged masculine feel and harmonised energised guitars, again with a dash of influence from Queen.
Moving into the second half we have some material more influenced by the 90s. ‘Conspiracy’ sounds a bit more like Sixx AM. It still has heavy riffs and is undoubtedly guitar-centric, but the vocals have more of an alternative sound. ‘Reckless’ continues this darker post grunge turn with influences from bands like Stone Temple Pilots. “Disposable’ is the 80s ballad that, traumatised by the 90s, has become an emo anthem. ‘Turn It’, while still dark emotionally, is a turn back to more traditionally structured guitar orientated rock with some Philip Glass influence. ‘Not there’, a song about passing on, shows that Mark is far more than the bubblegum glam singer he is sometimes painted to be and the style of the song, being a little more jazz and blues orientated shows him pushing beyond the confines of the rock stereotype.
So whilst there’s enough to keep a dyed in the wool Slaughter fan happy, there’s enough of a glimpse into Mark the man to satisfy those who want to see him grow as an artist and recognise he is more that a man defined by the decade of excess. Overall the second half of the album is challenging, but what worth listening to is not on some level. Props to him for showing us who he really is.
Warrant are back with the classic line up plus new-ish singer Robert Mason and they have delivered a heck of an album. And for those who dismissed them for the cheesecake of ‘Cherry Pie’, this album takes all the great things from the eighties, big production values, professionalism and commercial noise and supplements that with improved songwriting and material with greater depth and maturity born from age and experience. Production from former Dokken and current Foreigner bass player Jeff Pilson has really brought out the best in these boys and it’s time to take them super seriously on the world rock stage even if you never did so before.
Title Track ‘Louder, Harder, Faster’ and later number ‘New Rebellion’ have all the hallmarks of classic metal and get full marks for being an immediate attack on the senses and packed full of guitar and hooks. ‘Devil Dancer’ is a sultry number about a powerful women who knows how to use sex, less cheerleader, more stripper full of gritty realism and sleaze. ‘Big Sandy’ harmony-laden about a well endowed lady up for a booty call is coming from the same nether regions. ‘Perfect’ and ‘Faded’ are radio friendly aor numbers about love. ‘Only Broken Heart’ was unexpectedly a bit like Thin Lizzy in the verses and guitar approach, although with a ramped up metal chorus which works surprisingly well. ‘U in my Life’ is a big ballad with a sensitively played guitar solo. ‘Music Man’ is a tale about someone choosing to live his life outside the norms of society and has more of a stomping bluesy feel. ‘Choose Your Fate’ also has strong roots in the blues in the verses, although the choruses are back to classic metal. ‘Let it go’ is not a Frozen cover, but a melodic song about making peace with the past and we can guess what that’s all about.
So this is varied, sophisticated, all killer no filler and way better than some may expect. Jerry Dixon said they didn’t try and force it but just tried to do what came naturally without trying to think about it too hard. Ain't that the zone!
Get your copy here.
Back with his fourth solo album and accompanied by former members of Ratt and White Lion Stephen Pearcy shows us that while he still has plenty of party left, his roots are firmly in pedigree classic rock, just as much old school as old skool if you get our drift. Lyrical content is diverse and so while there are party songs, be prepared for philosophy, perception and positivity showing that he can do more than the hair metal three ps (party, pussy and paycheck) although those are still inevitably around. This particular rodent is now far more aware having escaped the hazy eighties intact and with smarts honed by experience.
Stephen’s voice is still his unique calling card and is unmistakeable and so there is plenty of continuity from the old days particularly say in ‘Hit Me with A Bullet’ and ‘Ten Miles Wide’ which cranks out the Ratt riffs from the off. However there’s more of the Led Zeppelin groove about tracks like ‘Shut Down Baby’, ‘What Do Ya think’ and more feelin in guitar on tracks like ‘I know I’m crazy’ going back to the roots of Ratt n Roll not just the externals. Sleaze and fun are still present, ‘Lollipop’ leaving little to the imagination, but appreciation of life and relationships comes to the fore in tracks like ‘Rain’ about Stephen’s daughter, ‘You want too much’ and ‘Dead Roses’ about those that have crossed him (recent Ratt events coming to the fore). That feelin of the streets skills needed from livin with the seedy and less than inspiration side of LA (always present in Ratt material) shines through loud and clear. Rats are nothing if not clever survivors.
So Pearcy arrives in 2017 unscathed, indeed reinvigorated by the poison of street life. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
Despite the Japanese reference this is in fact a collaboration between Ted Poley, singer of Danger Danger and guitarist/producer Steve Brown of Trixter, Greg Smith (Ted Nugent, Rainbow, Alice Cooper) and Chuck Burgi (Rainbow, Blue Oyster Cult and Joe Lynn Turner). Out on the Frontiers label it is not surprising with all that pedigree that this is a wonderful slice of mature adult oriented rock which fits easily into a collection of a die hard 80s classic rock fan. How bands like this keep knocking it out of the park without a hint of déjà vu we just don’t know, but that’s all part of the magic.
‘Picking up the Pieces’ and ‘Love Me insane” are good openers, great singalong joyful material and although they’re about relationship difficulties the outlook and musical phrasing are so upbeat they bring a smile to the face instantly. However, when we get onto ‘Shameless’ the ante is upped again with a totally infectious chorus which we think we must have heard before, but we just know we haven’t. ‘Love’ goes down smoother than caramel down the throat. Like most great songs, simple and beautiful it has a fantastically positive message that we just loved. “Black and Blue’ and ‘You’re my Revolution’ are up tempo numbers about human relationships and in this world of social media and computer interaction we’re lovin the human touch. “Don’t let me go’ is a big ballad in the grand style with some nice delicate guitar work. ‘Put Me to Shame’ is an old Skool rock out in the style of bands like King Kobra. ‘Done to Me’ has a definite Def Leppard vibe but it’s crossed with a Tyketto style ear for melody which means it never gets obvious. ‘Get You off My Mind’ is super polished like a good Nightranger song. It’s verging on pop, but since it’s as smooth as a baby’s behind we hardly notice. ‘Fallin Apart’ is a rockier closer. This is music written for guitarists to pirouette across the stage in the grand showmanship we took so much for granted a few decades ago. Don’t be surprised if Ted jumps for joy!
The art of this record is to become one of your favourite albums, just like that! Instantly accessible, full of feel good factor and a real winner, don’t miss this one!
Burnt Out Wreck is the new project of Gary Moat of Scottish rockers Heavy Pettin fame who enjoyed a stellar career signed with Polydor and Warner Chapell recording with producer Brian May of Queen and toured with Kiss, Ozzy, Whitesnake, Ratt and Motley Crue and well as headlining. So members of that band have serious chops. In those days Gary was drummer and songwriter, but he is now responsible for lead vocals (having developed his vocal style with Mother’s Ruin) and with help from his new band Adrian Dunn (Sweet) on lead guitar, Alex Carmichael on bass, Miles Goodman (rhythm guitar) and Paul Gray on drums have given us ‘Swallow’ and there isn’t a bad track on the album.
Opener ‘Burnt Out Wreck’ has the big riffs you’d expect from a band with NWOBHM heritage. The sound is mature and accessible. Moat has the voice to front a rock band no doubt about that. Guitar solos are old Skool and accomplished. Title track ‘Swallow’ sounds a lot like Australian rockers AC/DC, but it definitely has a twist of English and Southern Rock thrown in for good measure. As such this is definitely a case of inspiration rather than ‘rip off’ and, hey AC/DC, have influenced the entire metal scene for decades, no shame in that. ‘She’s the One’ has a memorable chorus and some nice fretboard travelling for sure. ‘Pullin it Out’ is a song about sex of which Young and Co would be proud. No beating about the bush here! ‘Talk about Love’ has a nicely written unexpected chorus and some grade A shredding. ‘Medusa’ reminded me a little of Thunder in its commercial hard rock approach, although the vocal remains Brian Johnson channelled. ‘Flames’ is another great track which will bring AC/DC to mind, but it is done so well and has such great guitar, it is easy to applaud. ‘She’s a Dirty Love’ has blistering guitar from the off and is a traditional rocker. ‘Your Love (Is all I need) is a change of pace and is more of a stoner feel with a hint of Skynyrd in the guitar. ‘Rockin Man’ and ‘Best of Your Life’ both contain guitar passages that remind of that rock n roll intensity we get when Angus really gets into his zone and is allowed the limelight.
Fans of good solid English rock and AC/DC should really enjoy this and by extension this should be very popular across the pond in the USA. Dripping authenticity (there being no substitute for experience of having been there and done that in the old days) it is a very worthwhile release. Grab yourself a slice of direct, grab you by the balls, no nonsense classic rock. If you like it right between the eyes with no frills, this is for you!
This is the tenth studio album of House of Lords and they have undergone something of an evolution since the first album. Sophisticated layers of musicianship like the best chocolate cake with spice thrown in, the complexity of some of the tracks reminded us a lot of Winger. James Christian on vocals also recorded and produced the album, Jimi Bell is still on guitar, with a new bassist Chris Tristram and BJ Zampa on rhythm. Strangely for an album said to ‘lean a bit more towards keyboards’ this time, publicity for the album had no named keyboard player. However, we hear James Christian is primarily responsible for the ivories and Michele Luppi of Whitesnake helped out.
‘Harlequin’ which kicks things off has a lengthy keyboard intro showing that the band still has roots in epic grand affairs. However, there’s a move (as with later tracks ‘Saints of the Lost Souls’, ‘New Day Breakin’, ‘Reign of Fire’, ‘Concussion’ and ‘Grains of Sand’) to influences from the east, unusual key changes and rhythms (similar to those we have seen Kip Winger introduce to great effect in his work), but this does not stop them being accessible to the western ear. ‘Concussion’, in particular, is very accessible with a memorable chorus despite it’s unexpected nature. ‘Oceans Divide’ is a more traditionally structured aor track showcasing vocals with an insistent pace. ‘Hit the Wall’ is more laid back and understated, as is ‘The Sun Will Never Set Again’ an electric acoustic ballad and ‘The Art of Letting Go’ with its hushed style vocals, all nevertheless effective. ‘The Other Option’ is more American in its approach, with a bouncy chorus more like something Danger Danger might do.
Experimental in parts, but kind to the ear, we think House of Lords fans should be very happy with this release!