Here are some reviews I wrote in the past. As I work totally independently, I just write down what I really think of an album. I'm not going to write something positive when I'm not behind that for what ever reason. I don't do that for the sake of people I know, or labels involved. In each review I try to give a description of what you can expect, and my personal opinion. All albums you can get through the record-companies mentioned unless otherwise mentioned. Of these companies you can find web-addresses in the Links-section. So, check this out and this too: There are dozens of reviews here! The reviews are almost all in the order that I received them. Some of the reviews were previously published (as Dutch versions) in the Belgian magazine Solar System.
I'm a bit reserved as it comes to Plastiq Musiq releases. I wasn't into most of their produqts, except Mothership I think. But when I heard about this album, I wanted to check it out. And I'm not disappointed this time. The CD starts with Lunasect who do a breakbeat song called Ghost. It's a relaxed song with female vocals, sometimes ethereal sounding. This is a nice song. Next comes Sool with Love Is Everywhere. This song is a straight ahead dance-tune that I missed so far on Plastiq Musiq. It has a man singing but he sings very high, like a soprano. This song sounds good and makes me wanna hear more of this. I like Sool. Mothership is the third act with a new song, Suffocate. It's not as good as some on the Mothership L.P. though. And then comes The Echoing Green, the veterans of electronic music, with a beautiful breakbeat song entitled Thief. Again a good song that I like. I'm amazed. But it's not all as interesting as these. Children Of The Inquisition is boring. Even Joy Electric disappoints me. Warp Factor Nine is okay but doesn't really fit in here. They play alternative rock with just some electronica thrown in. It's something you would expect on a Tooth & Nail Rock Sampler. If you're interested in electronic music, this might be cool, but take a listen first.
Setting my skepticism about Plastiq Musiq aside, I take up this album. Vocally this band fits in the history of the label: Male vocalizing done in a modest way. Almost dreamy. It never gets exuberant, shouting out, though the music screams for it sometimes. Take for example the uptempo and merry Jesus Girl (170 bpm). In the chorus it still isn't sung as merrily as the music is. But this is not a bad album, though. In fact, some songs are really enjoyable. Norway brings eurodance with some catchy compositions. Sometimes I wonder if I've heard some of this before. But only Jesus Girl is a cover taken from the Maranatha Music archives. Skipping from one intro to another I just get the idea they listened well to previous dance-material from Europe. The production is good with great programming. My favorite songs are Jesus Girl, Norwaygirl and Only Time. Just a few of the ten songs are not so good. So, this is an album again that makes me look forward to more. And, if you may wonder, no, they're not from Norway.
Starflyer 59 - Everybody Makes Mistakes, Tooth And Nail Records
To some this might be boring music. Starflyer 59 is characterized by the dreamy vocals of Jason Martin. He sounds modestly, relaxed, dreaming away. The music is most of the time as modest as the vocals, dreaming away to days long gone by. I think Jason and company are heavily influenced by bands of the seventies and older, like The Beatles. This band just breathes the past. Listen to Just Try and you hear ideas you would expect on a CD of The Beatles and other bands of their era. But it's not always modesty that you hear. A Dethroned King has the distorted guitar playing along the echoing non-distorted electric guitar. The music is heavier in this song than in the other songs but still the vocals have that modesty as described. You just got to like that but the performance is good. A great song is No New Kinda Story which has a violin-intro and the song itself sounds relaxed and beautiful. This album is good, though I prefer The Fashion Focus. What I find boring is that there is a hidden track. But, hey, everybody makes mistakes!
Various - Tooth & Nail Rock Sampler volume 2, Tooth And Nail Records
There's nothing really new on this album, containing songs previously released only. But this is stuff worth checking out if you haven't heard them before. Bands featured here are The Juliana Theory, The Deluxtone Rockets, Fanmail, Royal, Pep Squad, Starflyer 59, Morella's Forest, Danielson, The Huntingtons, Puller, Bon Voyage and Plankeye. The songs were chosen by Tooth & Nail boss Brandon Ebel himself. He compiled a great album presenting the variety of Tooth & Nail (Mind you! Not Solid State, BEC and Plastiq Musiq) featuring styles like punkrock, modern rock, rockabilly and noise. And weird rock too, sorry, I mean Danielson. Brandon chose the funny song Potty Mouth of the Danielson Family. What I really miss here is not the music but some information. Like from what albums these songs were taken.
Be sure that you haven't heard anything like this before. Except House Of Wires' previous material. The follow-up album of You Are Obsolete contains electronica like I've heard from them before. Most of the time it's slow paced, with weird sounds, a dark, melancholy atmosphere and listless vocals by Jon Sonnenberg. You just got to like it or be bored. I don't think there's another option. This is electronica of a weird kind. Monogamy contains fourteen songs of which two are covers. The first is a song originally from Mad At The World who did a song with the same name as the band's in 1987. The other cover is a song from the Knickerboxers, written in 1940. Both covers are performed in the usual House Of Wires way. Both version are not bad but not special. One song on Monogamy strikes me: Luxury. Here you can hear something like a hardcore beat with computerized, monotone vocals. It's not exceptional but I like the song. The rest of the album is pretty boring to my opinion.
Virgin - Soon Comes The Day, Purity Records/Gerth Medien
Virgin are five German girls, aged 16-18, who make acoustic pop. They started in October 1997 with The Bandits as an example. Though these girls are in their teens, this ain't music like All Saints or the Spice Girls. Virgin is acoustic pop. Interestingly, they play live the instruments themselves. In 1998 they did in half a year about thirty concerts, so I'm told. Not bad eh? On this CD, the instruments are played by studio-musicians, however. But they sing and they do it more than competently. In Endless Hope you have a chance to hear that where some of the girls handle the leadvocals one by one in the bridge to the chorus. This is an album full of harmonic vocalizing and lead-vocals by Lissy Freund. She even wrote some of the songs, like the beautiful Don't Give Up. Due to the first-class studio-musicians and the quality of the songs, this album is a joy listening to with good girl-pop and good production. Some songs are easy to sing along to. Another high-point on this album is His Love which is about Jesus who can change peoples lives. You can't escape to notice that Virgin enjoys making their music. This album is not in stores everywhere but that day comes soon too. Available through Gerth Medien. See Links section.
Vorm - Christ Rules Everything Around Me, Chemical Management.
Here's some awesome hiphop from Holland. The instrumentations are excellent here and it's made with a full band: So, with a bass-player, a drummer, a keyboardist and a deejay. The result is great. Vorm is from Holland and five of the songs are rapped in Dutch. The band has two mc's: Eye Deeh and C.R.E.A.M.. Basically there are two directions on this album. There's the jazzed up hiphop, prominent in Many Rivers, Weak and others. And there's the classical influenced songs with orchestral sounds like in the laid-back 3D and in Inspired. This is like an act as Rhapsody. These songs could be like soundtracks turned to hiphop. Especially this direction I enjoy with the good vibes they bring. When you've got this CD, do me a favor and put on the thirteenth song, Worldwide, and play it loud. Wow, this is a cool song with some neat orchestrations and it's so well-structured. Vorm rules the hiphop scene. For any hiphop fan sure a CD to check out.
Various - Simply Spectacular New Music Sampler, Alliance Music Partners.
In the 'Simply....New Music Sampler' series, this is the third release, I guess, with this time 15 songs from these bands: Switchfoot, Pete Stewart, Chasing Furies, Shine, Raze, Montrel Darrett, SonicFlood, Clear, Satellite Soul, Plankeye, Considering Lily, Smalltown Poets, Jennifer Knapp, The Waiting and Audio Adrenaline. Most stuff here is modern rock and some of that is really great like Switchfoot, Pete Stewart (formerly of Grammatrain) and Plankeye. There's also some soul/r & b stuff from Shine, Raze and Montrel Darrett. The last one sounds a bit too much like Blackstreet. There ain't bad stuff on this album and it costs only two British pounds (or circa three dollar). For information about this sampler: www.simplyspectacular.com
ReLand - 468, XistnC Productions
More than a year ago I heard some ReLand material for the first time when a tape was presented to me with music from three Dutch dance-producers. The track I heard is the opening-song on this four-song EP: We Wanna (See Jesus Lifted High). This song is in the happy hardcore style. So, it's very fast and happy. The biggest problem is that lead-vocalist Hanneke sounds too Dutch in pronouncing English. She is not a bad singer, though. But the vocalizing on this album could have been better. The second track Waterfall is best described as happy clubcore. Here Hanneke sounds like she has a hard time singing so high and therefore the vocals lack the power needed. The music is good. This song they did live on the national radio in Holland earlier this year. The third track is an instrumental but it sounds silly, especially the piano in it. The fourth song is what makes it worth purchasing this EP. This is again happy clubcore but the music is good and Hanneke sings better. I'm anxious to hear more.
Various The Sally Family volume II, Sally Forth Records
Sally Forth Records is moving internationally nowadays. This album starts with Glorybox from Denmark. This band makes noise-pop like Morella's Forest with a female vocalist too. It's like a more poppy Royal. Magnussen Arrived From Fjörnebö comes next and you might think this is from Sweden. Nope! This is a Dutch project and absolutely first class with their music made out of samples and with a retro-sound. The song is typically called The Sounds Of History. Cool and a relaxed song. Rollercoaster 23 brings triphop from the highly acclaimed The Trick Is To Keep Breathing EP. Selfmindead is on a license-deal here too with Clean from their debut-album. This is good Scandinavian hardcore. Trackstar is Dutch again with depressive acoustic pop. Their song Polaroid Yellowed sounds better than what I've heard from them before. Orange-i from Belgium plays atmospheric alternative rock, or The Curious Alto-rock. Kryptonite Garden is normally poppy alternative rock but this song, Cocoon Me Roses, was recorded live on the national radio in Holland. The song is carried out with cellos, standing bass (I think) and percussions. And of course female vocalist Alice. Scrambled Eggs brings alternative rock again with distant vocals. Swiss Transport is the last band on this sampler with less accessible triphop than what I heard from them before. Their previous material was more poppy with a female vocalist but this is just music and some samples thrown in. But it is okay. The song The Attack Of The Swiss is drum & bass and it's well done. Compared to Volume One, the overall quality of the songs is better. It's a good introduction to what Sally Forth Records does.
Swirl - In My Mind, independently
Here's a demo CD from the band that came forth out of the talented grunge-band The Flight that did several festivals in Holland. The Swirl consists of three former members of The Flight. Nowadays they are more poppy than ever, with some heavy guitars still. A song like Zeef (Safe) is really catchy. Some of the other songs have more an alternative twist like All with a bass-loop in the beginning that might make you wonder if this is Nirvana playing. However, the song develops differently. This demo-CD has six songs on it with two songs sung in Dutch. The quality is better than what I expect from a demo. This is a talented band that's worth checking out. I like this and I even had Swirl live in the Studio for a live-session. I wish you all could have seen and heard it! What could have been better are the guitars. They could have been more fat. And some more guts in singing could do no harm too. See Links section for their website. So you can get in touch with them.
One Accord - Flying, Janz Team Music/Gerth Medien
For fans of the Backstreet Boys and 5ive, here's One Accord. This is an international youthchoir (?), based in Germany with a line-up including people like Danny Plett, the Janz-brothers and other great singers. Flying is the follow-up album of their 1997 debut Heaven. The production-helm was in hands of Danny Plett. One Accord brings mainly hiphop based grooves with good vocalizing. Danceable music. Three songs are more in the dance-vein and some are more in the praise-vein. Flying starts with Dance Like David which is a groovy track with lyrics to emphasize that it's okay to dance for God as a Christian. The title-track is an ambient dance-song with excellent vocals by Carmen Bode. This is a beautiful song. More uptempo and energetic is Shake It Up. One of the highlights on this album is Pray For Me, a groovy ballad which handles about praying for someone you love who doesn't believe, in hope she (in this case) will find the Way one day. It's sung really great by Michael Janz and Danny Plett. This album ends with Summertime which brings a big grin on my face. This is a Ricky Martin rip-off. And well-done too. You hear that Spanish instrumentation, a Spanish chorus and, like the title suggests, with a summerly feel. For the German fans all songs are translated in German and a few songs are even sung in German. One Accord tours every summer through Germany and Switzerland. It's time for them to look farther abroad. This is excellent music, modern, from first-class singers and a good producer. Highly recommending for fans of above mentioned acts. Available through Gerth Medien, see Links section.
Sonic Pope - A Church X-perience, Music House/Cutting Edge
Here's an interesting album from Stefan Weyel, the musical brain behind IJAKKA. But this is not hiphop. As the Sonic Pope he's doing dance-music this time with some infectious beats to make you dance. A Church X-perience is an album featuring Church songs of old but done in a modern way as dance-floor stumpers. These ancient hymns are almost all instrumentally done. Some classics are Out Of The Depths I Cry To Thee by Martin Luther and Veni Domine by Felix Mendelsohn Bartholdy. Style-wise here is trance going in the direction of dreamhouse, some clubtracks as well as ambient breakbeat-mixes. Some of this is really good stuff. This album reminds me a bit of what Hydro does though the tracks on this album are more radio-friendly. The Shaking Bagpipe Mix of All Praise To Him (140 bpm) is great with a beat switching from flat to a more full beat. The bagpipes give the song an Irish feel. This mix just invites you musically to join the dancefloor. There are other tracks on this album that are equally enjoyable like Our Father Thou In Heaven Above and the ambient Veni Domine with choir-samples. That's an awesome version. The Sonic Pope is an experience any sanctified dance fan must enjoy one day.
Rollercoaster 23 - The Trick Is To Keep Breathing, Sally Forth Records
This triphop band from Holland is back with their second EP and with this new CD they go a different direction . 1997's Monophonic Worlds EP was described as trippop because it was more poppy than other triphop coming out. That's not the case on this EP. The eight songs on this one can be divided in two categories: The songs and the instrumentals. The four so-called 'songs' were written by Pieter Feddema with lyrics of Alex Ten Cate (who is not part of the band). The lyrics are poetical of character. There's no distorted guitar here anymore and it's got a darker feel and more ambient. It's also not so accessible as the first EP. The 'instrumentals' were all written by drummer and producer Minco Eggersman; one alone and the other three with other members of the band. These instrumentals have sometimes a retro-sound like in Portatone. All this music is very well done and intelligently done too. The Trick Is To Keep Breathing is an EP that you just got to listen to a couple of times to discover it's beauties. This is a talented band.
Various - Songs Of Hope, Music House/Cutting Edge
The deejay begins to announce the next single: "Coming directly to ya from the top of the charts, here's a hot one, check it out!" That's the introduction to the opening-song of disc one of this double-disc compilation-album featuring mostly German artists. It's hiphop duo IJAKKA who comes up first with the excellent Such Die Freiheit. It's a heavy song in hardcore rap-style which reminds me of Tic Tac Toe who had a hit with Warum in 1998. This song from the girls of IJAKKA was written in the same year for IJAKKA's debut-album. On this sampler they have four songs on the first disc which is the so-called 'dance-side' The other disc is the 'dream-side'.The first disc has some other interesting stuff to offer. One Accord has three songs from their Heaven-album in the Backstreet Boys style and some dance. Jacob Friedrichs contributed two songs from the Hip Hop Hooray CD. Other artists on the Dance Side are Anja Lehmann (great vocalist), The Janz Project, Joyful Gospel and Danny Plett. Some songs are really catchy and some are more in the praise-vein. But, overall the quality is good. An interesting disc that displays the enormous amount of talent the German gospel-scene has. It has 16 songs of which nine are sung in German. The Dream Side, disc two, can be described as a soft pop/acoustic pop/soft rock CD. This disc has 15 songs of which seven are sung in English. Artists featured here are Layna, Beate Ling, Laurent Quiros, Kevin Prosch, Marcus Watta, Gunnar Wiegel, Arne Kopfermann, Helmut Jost and David Thomas. It's hard to pick up one of these because on this disc there's almost good songs only. The two Kevin Prosch songs are from the Black Peppercorns album Tumbling Ground. Laurent Quiros's song Sandrops makes me think of a hit Bill Medley had in the eighties with The Time Of My Life. This is well done. Layna brings some great songwriting with good production. The German lyrics might be a problem for some. As the second disc plays, it more and more evolves into the the praise and worship style of music. It ends with the traditional Amazing Grace by David Thomas. This double-disc compilation album with 130 minutes of music is a good introduction to some of the gospel-scene in Germany. This is worth checking out.
Amen - Why, Independent release/Gerth Medien
This German band recorded this album at the River Studios in London. On Why they bring semi-acoustic rock with an acoustic guitar playing supported by electric guitar (and of course bass and drums). This disc starts off with the titletrack. The first few seconds might make you think that this is Bon Jovi and that influence is here undoubtedly present but Amen is different. That's immediately clear when the lead-vocalist John Angelina starts singing. They used an effect on his vocals and that blurred his voice and that's a pity because this song is beautiful with a good guitar solo. This is also one of the heaviest songs on this album. It's not a modern style of rock but the songs are good. But I think the production spoils it. The lead guitarist is doing a great job though, with some excellent solos. Just listen to the solos in the titletrack and in Hiding Place. With better production the music could be so much more huge. Now the songs don't come out clearly. Funny is the cover depicting four little children sitting on piddle-pots while listening to an old nun playing accordion. Fans of AOR might be interested in this band. Their lead-guitarist certainly is interesting. This is not bad but I simply don't like the production. Available through Gerth Medien www.gerth.de
Lothar Kosse - Siehst Du Das Licht, Music House/Cutting Edge
The Phil Keaggy of Germany is back with some excellent songwriting. For those who don't know, Kosse is active as a guitarist and singer since the eighties. If I'm right, this is his sixth CD. Siehst Du Das Licht offers rock with a modern productions. This includes programming, which is prominent in a song like Es Geht Los, and drumloops. Think of this and add rough vocals of Kosse and some great leads. There is some average rock here and some mellower stuff. On three songs the vocals are handled by other, giving the album something extra. This music will be appealing to a wide range of music-fans due to the accessible, even catchy songs. The language might be a hindrance for some because everything is sung in German. The lyrics are all in the praise-vein. Personally, I think it's a pity that he's only doing German songs because if it was in English much more people could enjoy his talents. This is a good album.
The Juliana Theory - Understand This Is A Dream, Tooth And Nail Records
When I heard Brett Detar had left Zao (metalcore band on the Nail) to join The Juliana Theory, I was disappointed. He did such a great job on Zao's Where Blood And Fire Bring Rest that I wanted more of that. And someone described The Juliana Theory as kind of a Roadside Monument and I was never into Roadside Monument! Now, the first Juliana Theory album through Tooth & Nail lies before me. Let me tell you, that comparison with Roadside Monument was far fetched. This band is a popband but don't expect softness either. There are some acoustic songs like The Closest Thing, which is a modest song. Most of the songs are heavy in their own style. These are heavy popsongs in which the band shows they like to write catchy songs over heavy guitar-work. The vocals are in style: Clean and clear and poppy. In one song, Duane Joseph, you hear King's X kind of harmonic vocals. To get a good impression of this CD, put on Seven Forty Seven which has a good speed, is beautifully sung and with heavy guitar-support all the while. Here's a band playing that enjoys doing so. This album will appeal to both pop as well as hard music fans though not every song will be excepted well equally by both audiences. Hey, just understand this is a dream, either good or bad, but it's always an adventure.
The Dingees - Sundown To Midnight, BEC Recordings
From the Dingees debut-album Armageddon Massive I only heard one song (Bullet Proof) so I can't really compare the new one with it. Sundown To Midnight proves however that you can't describe them just as a ska-band, though that's where their roots must be. And they're affiliated closely to ska-band the Supertones. The band was once started by two Supertones and vocalist Peg Leg. That the Dingees aren't a typical ska-band is proven immediately by the opening-track Rally-O which is more in the punkrock tradition. The second song, Cant Trust No Man, is more like ska but at the same time it bends over to reggae. There's even a couple of clear reggae tunes like Trial Tribulation which reminds me of the days when bands like UB40 were big. Most songs are relaxed songs, slow paced, but only in four of them there's place for distorted guitars. These are the punkrock tunes like the fast Staff Sgt. Skreba. I read a review of this album in which it was described as punkrock. That doesn't do these guys justice. The focus is on the slow-paced ska/reggae and they do it well.
Delirious? - Mezzamorphis, Furious? Records
The first real Delirious? album after King Of Fools got the title Mezzamorphis. Like you probably know, two live-albums came out after King Of Fools and some old material done under the old band-name The Cutting Edge Band was released on two CD's. This is the first real new work and immediately I find a slight change of direction. The new stuff is less praise-oriented. Only in the last three songs their praise and worship roots are more clear. Furthermore, the same message is brought here in a more intrinsic way to crystallize in lyrics like "I'll get to heaven" and "Heaven is my home" Musically is predominantly in the same vein as the debut and that means there is some hitpotential here. The first single that was taken from this album was See The Star which ended early March on a number 16 position in the UK Top Forty. The hit suffered the same fault as previous hits from the band: After one week it was gone out of the chart. Hopefully the next single will do better than that. According to me there are some songs here that have a good chance to hit the charts like Heaven and Gravity. Or the more quiet It's OK or the summerly: Beautiful Sun. It's too much to mention all. Mezzamorphis is a record with quiet, thoughtful pop-songs and some heavier stuff but it never gets as heavy as Promise from the debut-release. Overall, it could have been less modest. But this is a quality-product beyond doubt, if you listen to the recording and the arrangements. Recommended. Available through.....In any self-respecting record-store.
Tourniquet - Acoustic Archives, Tourniquet Productions
Tourniquet's gone mellow? Tourniquet's gone acoustic? You just can't belief your ears/eyes but some of you have been attending acoustic sets from this as a metal band honored quartet. Earlier this year I got this CD from drummer Ted Kirkpatrick and your ears fall from your head when you hear a classic like Viento Borrascoso stripped down from all the drumwork and done with acoustic guitars only! This is something different than what we're used too. This disc is kind of the same idea as Appendectomy with which The Resurrection Band came up, two years ago. So, you hear nine classic Tourniquet songs like Vanishing Lessons and Phantom Limb in an acoustic setting. According to me, not every song fits this approach but it is refreshing to hear these songs differently. Especially songs like Twilight and Heads I Win, Tails I Lose sound good this way. In fact, this album is just a cool snack in between the previous and the upcoming album. That it's meant that way, you can figure out by the tenth song: Trivializing The Momentous, Complication The Obvious. This is a full-band arrangement and thus including electric guitars, bass from Vince Dennis and drums. The first two minutes are intro in which drummer Ted tests out his drumset. Then one of the heaviest songs in this bands history begins. It can be compared to The Hand Trembler from the Collected Works album. According to the band this song is foretaste from the next album which will be released through Metal Blade. Tourniquet's gone mellow? No, not really. Available through the band. See Links section.
Bushbaby - Medicine E.P., Independently
This British band is especially known through their appearance as a support-act with Tourniquet on the 23rd of April in the Luxor Theatre in Arnhem, The Netherlands. But you might know these guys from the band Gethsemane Rose with which they made two albums. Bushbaby is way different, compared to the headliner. This is a heavy modern rock product and it tastes well. Medicine has five songs on it. Especially Medicine Man and Coffee are accessible rocksongs that cling to your musical memory the first time you hear them. It's a pity that they did such a short CD. According to me, this is a band of which we might hear more in the future. Available through the Music Works, PO Box 1193, Cheddar, BS27 3BF, England
Joy Electric - Christiansongs, BEC Recordings
The first thing I found out about this album with easy digestible electronic fun, was an ad in an American magazine in which this album was described as an Electronic Metal Mayhem. That got me off track because I thought Joy Electric had chosen a different musical approach. Well, what else could I think when seeing this ad in a magazine that used to be called Heaven's Metal. But that's misleading because Chirstiansongs contains all the ingredients you may expect from a Joy Electric album and then electric guitar stuff is not incorporated. You hear three-double layered keyboardtunes with beats and combined with a dreamy vocal-style of Ronnie Martin. Some songs are rather slow and are dreamy with that type of vocalizing. There are some more up-beat songs too of which True Harmony is the better one. Another interesting track is Disco For A Ride with influences of....Exactly! Christiansongs is an interesting record for those who want to hear something alternative from the world of electronic fun. But give it a listen first.
Various - Moms Like Us Too, BEC Recordings
For a nice acquaintance with BEC Recordings, this sampler was made with not only music your moms will enjoy. The CD opens quite friendly, however, with ska from The OC Supertones (two songs) followed by the keyboardbeats of Joy Electric (three songs). But then some heaviness breaks loose. It's Project 86, the rapcore fanatics(two songs). Most of our moms run away screaming. Most of them will return when the Dingees show up (two songs) followed by Plankeye (two songs). When Pep Squad takes it over, the patience of the moms are tested again but it is not as worse as they might have thought. It's something else when One Eighty begins (two songs) which seems to be punkrock with two female vocalists but it develops a bit differently than expected. Fold Zandura (two songs) is rather a test-case for those who like heaviness. Bon Voyage is a compromise (two songs) which is Starflyer 59 plus female vocalist. For the last time our moms run away in fear when Value Pac comes up with uptempo punkrock (one song). But they join the dancefloor for Swing Praise (one song). At the end of it all, the ska-fans are being satisfied again with Not For The Crowd (one song) Whether our moms really adore this CD is something you might discuss about. For us it's a nice acquaintance with BEC. I'm pleased to meet you!
Supertones - Chase The Sun, BEC Recordings
"1999 and the stakes is high. Our options have come down to either we do or die." Once the Supertones were decribed as skacore but skarock would fit them better now because half of the songs rock, like One Voice, the opening track from which I quoted. Well, the stakes is high indeed with all the ska-bands popping up. But the Supertones have enough to offer to stay prominent in the popular ska-movement, third wave. Most of the songs are in the ska vein with some energetic ones and a couple of slowed down songs. This album's got more to bring than just that. Just listen to Old Friend which is a relaxed guitar-tune. Another twist to the Supertones sound is the title-track which starts more like hiphop but develops later on into a ska-tune. The twelfth track, Revolution, starts with surf music like the Beach Boys but ends with ska too. The last song is even more different. It's a ballad with only guitar and cello in which singer Matt Morginsky emphasizes to the listeners that the message they bring is important. Chase The Sun is a good album from the Supertones. Either they do or die. Well, live on for a while, please.
Various - Anders Preisen - Hip Hop Hooray, Projektion J Music House
The title of this CD will suggest two things: It's not the average English album and it's about hiphop. To be more specific, this is a German initiative featuring four German hiphop/r & b groups doing praise oriented stuff. All four groups did three songs. Jacob Friedrichs kicks off with Power Of Love with German Raps by Friedrichs and a beautifully sang English chorus, sung by Anja Lehmann. His music is laid-back like Justin Thomas on Jumping In The House Of God, Part III. Next comes IJAKKA, two girls with more energetic hiphop. The music is made by Stefan Weyel, also known as The Sonic Pope. It sounds cool. The song Wenn Du In Mir Schweigst sounds impressive with slow rhythms, a dark feel and cool instrumentations. This one is about feeling the absence of God. The third act is diSein from Freiburg. They bring very slow, soul/r & b type of hiphop with less rapping than the other acts. It's very worship-oriented with almost endlessly repeated phrases like "Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, Ich Liebe Dich". It's not bad but not what I fancy. The fourth formation is the Hamburger What's Up Project with more funky hiphop mixed with electric guitars in Lobpreiss Und Ehre. Their second song is not as good but the third song, Herr Deine Güte Reicht So Weit, is way better. Hip Hop Hooray is a cool album, especially because of the first two acts.
Deluxetone Rockets - The Deluxetone Rockets, Tooth & Nail Records
On my version of this CD I see a man with a standing bass, a saxophonist, a trumpetist, a drummer and a guitarist. This spring they toured with The Insyderz and The Dingees. No, no, and again, no! The Deluxetone Rockets are not a ska-band. What they make is a new fad in the States: Rockabilly. It's a swingy style of music that this band plays and the vocalist sometimes tries to sound like Elvis Presley but then more raw. It's swinging rock 'n roll that is quite noisily. It's a bombastically played record that works me on my nerves though it has something happy in it. And so it goes on eleven tracks long of almost forty minutes. They may launch this stuff, as long it doesn't come into my direction.
Starflyer 59 - Fell In Love At 22, Tooth & Nail Records
The title of this EP comes from a song from the full-length album The Fashion Focus. This EP is in the same vein as that one. Fell In Love At 22 is a beautiful, quiet song build up around piano, played by Gene Eugene. The second song, I Won't It Bad is as modest as the title-song but more sober of character with a quietly echoing guitar in the back. It's only a bit too monotone to me. This is not the case for E.P. Nights where the distortion is dusted off. Still this one has something dreamy because of Jason Martins vocals. The instrumental Traffic Jam which is more than fourteen minutes long, is the lowest point of this album. It's a modest guitarsong and it sounds as if the CD-player jams, so, it's sounds like the song starts from scratch all over again and it seems it's never ending. This is pure CD-filling. How dreadful. The last song is Samson and it's as modest and dreamy. Compared to The Fashion Focus this CD is a bit weak. Only for people who are totally into Starflyer this might satisfy their lust for more, just for a moment. Not me.
Good Night Star - Good Night Star, Plastiq Musiq
Who has read the reviews I wrote about other Plastiq Musiq Produqts in Solar System, knows that I wasn't impressed so far by the releases of this young label. Only Mothership could attract my attention during the whole length of their album. The rest was moderate. Good Night Star is another name from this Ronnie Martin label and like with all of his produqts you hear a dreamy singer. When will they come up with some good female vocalists that have a throat to respect? But to put this album off immediately is a bit to soon. Because Good Night Star shows Plastiq is starting to get on the right track. The record has some pleasant variation. The high-point to me is Insecure with a good speed, a heavy beat and full of odd noices. But it can be more odd than that. Listen to the Trailer Park Love Song. It's something your ears won't stand the first time. It's a slow tune with a weird beat and strangely distorted noises. But when you hear all the effects here, you understand that these guys know what to do. Only it could have been executed better. Like Lady Love which starts with a flat beat and that sounds interesting but then there's a transition into a dreamy song. If this debut had more songs like Insecure I could have enjoyed it more because there's a richness of ideas here.
Various The Mother Of All Tribute Albums, HM Records
From the magazine covering Christian Hard Music this pleasant CD comes. The idea is simple: Let fifteen bands cover a song each from one of their favorite bands and put it on one CD. Bands featured here are: Tourniquet, Doug Pinnick, Echo Hollow, Spy Glass Blue, Reflescent Tide, Justin Fox, Paul Roraback, Crimson Thorn, Guardian, The Channelsurfers, Blackball, Atomic Opera, One Bad Pig, The Violet Burning and Larry Norman. Quite some well known songs are here like Sunday Bloody Sunday of U2 (Echo Hollow), C'mon Rock of Stryper (Guardian) and Message In A Bottle, known from the Police (Blackball). Musically you hear all kind of styles but the absence of punk and hardcore is rather striking. Contrary to that, you even hear some acoustic songs. What that has to do with Hard Music, I don't know. It's stuff that will be more appealing to our parents, I guess. But, this is a cool album full of enthusiasm. There are several songs when my hands automatically reach for the volume knob to crank these out loud. Sometimes I wonder whether I like these versions for the sake of it or that I like them because I already liked the originals. Whatever, it says something of the way how the originals were treated. There is respect for the originals so that they aren't wasted in an attempt to be renewing. That's not the goal of this CD. It's just a tribute from bands to other bands. That's what it makes so interesting. Several songs even have short comments, explaining why bands choose certain songs. The only drawback is the horrible violinsolo of Crimson Thorn in the cover of Stryper's Loud 'N Clear. But that can't withhold me to enjoy this album. Available through HM-mag.
B-Band - Try Me (single), Novae Productions
Ede's B-Band exists for quite some years already and after two previous singles and an album, this is their newest effort. And they did it very seriously this time by recording it in the world-famous Wisseloord Studio's in Hilversum, The Netherlands, with Patrick Ulenberg. This Ulenberg has worked with Def Leppard, Rammstein and even Michael Jackson. Not one of the smallest guys around! The music on this single sounds therefore smoothly. There are two songs on the single: Try Me (two versions) and Time To Choose. The two versions of Try Me are almost similar. This is a heavy rocksong with roots in the symphonic. The rhythms are pounding. Singer Herman Haan raps, and female vocalist Jessica Leijenaar does the singing parts. More laid-back is Time To Choose with solid backgroundvocals. In the second part of the song it develops a bit heavier and guitarist Paul Crezee plays an excellent solo. Try Me is a good single that makes me wanna hear some more. Available through the band, see Links section.
Misprint - Another Broken Promise, Day-Glo Records
To be honest, I wasn't charmed with Pop Alley Sounds, the E.P. with which Misprint made it's debut. It was not bad but not my piece of cake. Their version of Jesus Ar Det Underbaraste on the Volum X-En Tribute Till Jerusalem CD couldn't warm my heart either. And now lies before me the first full-length album from this Swedish quintet. With Another Broken Promise this band really makes a giant leap forward. The sound is thicker so it's sounds heavier. More work is made to attract the listeners attention. Perhaps this is the work of producer Armand Petri (Motörhead, Dust Eater Dogs). Fact is that there are several songs here that I enjoy! Still, I think, some of the songs are too long, with too much series of chords played repeatedly without development. This is rather irritating me and makes me want to skip the track to the next. Clear to me, however, is that Misprint is on the right track now with their emocore. Especially the third song, Betrayed Again, has a good speed and each time I program that one. In this song you can hear all good aspects of the album without the endless repeatings. This is how I like them!
DC Talk - Supernatural, Virgin/Forefront
When I hear the name DC Talk I can't help but to think of their hiphop history, early nineties. Of course I do know that they have chosen other paths to walk on. On this silver disc that's all too clear. Supernatural goes further where they left off with Jesus Freaks. You can hear modern rocksongs varied with subtle ballads. And this all very competently produced by Toby McKeehan and Mark Heimermann. That makes the listening to this album truly delightful. Some song are extremely beautiful like the up-tempo Since I Met You and the impressive ballad Red Letters. The absolute highpoint here (for me) is the titlesong which is heavy with a beautiful guitar-solo. Amazing. The trademark of these three guys have always been their vocal-delivery and their vocal-harmonies. And they do it well again. The CD ends with a poem of Kevin Smith: "I am cradled in your ocean's throw, I crave your freedom in this little ship, For you alone can chart my trip, And like these waves I lose my grip, And sink into your arms" (There Is A Treason At Sea) A supernatural record. :-)
Michael Sweet - Truth, Michael Sweet Productions
I have a problem with this new (demo)CD of Michael Sweet. The disc starts off with the titlesong and it sounds nice but not special. The second song enters the hearingcanals easily too. But then comes Blue Bleeds Through. This is a great rock-song in which all colors you can think of are sung about. As a vocalist Michael is doing the job very well. With ease he changes from the normal vocal delivery to falsetto and back and that's great.On Truth you hear modern rock-songs with sometimes a vocal-style reminiscent of the poppier side of Stryper. Achilles Heel is a grungy rock song that you should play loud. Distracted starts off quietly but evolves into rock 'n roll with a delicious guitarlead. This is what I enjoy. The last song, Stone, is a super-sweet ballad with piano and orchestrations of Pete Vantine. It does remind me of a Stryper-ballad like All Of Me from To Hell With The Devil. Very soft and you've got to like it. I like it. For this album Michael Sweet assembled a team of people around him to make something beautiful. According to me he succeeded. The problem I have with this CD is that I can't get it out of my CD-player. I guess Truth will reign over my player for some time. Available through Michael Sweet website. See Links section.
Orange-i - Hippotraffic, Sally Forth Records
Have you ever heard of the word Hippotraffic? Well, check out you dictionaries but I guess you'll have to add this word. If I may give you a description of the meaning of this word it is this: Hippotraffic is a feeling that fills your ears with an alternative sound that moves you like traffic. No, I'm kidding. It's pretty much a description of this album. Hippotraffic is just a fun title that originates from a phrase in a U2 song. That Irish band is named as one of their influences. I'd rather say The Cure because the songs have that seem dark feel. Orange-i brings atmospheric alternative rock. Just listen to Queen Of Narnia with an icy wind blowing, the rippling sound of guitars and mesmerizing vocals. This is a mellow tune but there's some heaviness here too with haunting electric guitar-sounds like in The Wonderworking Power Of The Lamb. Lyrically this band has something to offer with poetical songs and more clear lyrics, like in Araki: "How clumsy of me to fall on my knees ,while you need a drink. Assay the first commandment of Christ: Love them as yourself. This is no hypocrite hippy-shake. That golden age was crap." The production of this album is great and the booklet is okay too. Hippotraffic is the first word they will add to the next edition dictionaries. Good stuff.
Morella's Forest - From Dayton With Love, Tooth & Nail Records
This quartet from Dayton was once described as noise-pop. I agree to that because it sounds poppy and is from time to time noisy. Vocalist Sydney has an almost melancholically voice that controls the music of Morella's Forest. Her voice is almost like whispering though she sometimes pulls her volume-knob (where that one might be). But you'll never hear her scream. One of the most beautiful songs on this album is Bounty Hunter with a guitarsolo and a prominent role for the keyboards. The band covered Kids In America of Kim Wilde too and it's nice. The CD end with a hidden track (hey, that's original!) complete with electronic hocus pocus. To my opinion Sydney might sing with more power but this is a nice disc though not special.
The W's - Fourth From The Last, Sarabellum Records
In America ska is so popular that there are more ska-bands than I can count hairs on my head. One of these new names is The W's. Self-described as 'the swingy kind of ska'. It does swing with influences from days long gone by. Contrary to bands like the Supertones or Five Iron Frenzy, there's no heavy guitar-stuff on this album. It's just the swinging sound of the upbeats combined with vocals, bass, drums and a three-piece 'blowsections'. This ska is therefore interesting to a wider audience. Even my mom can appreciate some of this. Happy music to dance on. The inlay even gives you some instructions on how to dance the Fox Trot, Cha-Cha, Waltz and Swing. Skanktified Dance is what we will call it with as highlight Frank and the funny The Devil Is Bad. They even pay tribute to Five Iron Frenzy in a bonus-track. To me, it could have been heavier but this is a fun-records. It can't be a coincedence that Fourth From The Last entered the 147th position of the American Billboard Top 200 after the release, for so I'm told. If it was the Billboard Top 150 it would be the fourth from the last. Unbelievable. Available through 5Minute Walk Records.
Various - Take Time To Listen Volume IV, 5 Minute Walk
When there would be a vote for the most refreshing record-company I would vote for 5 Minute Walk. They manage to organize tours that go hand in hand with charity-work. And beside that they provide great music too. The sampler starts with acoustic pop/rock from Sherri Youngward (two songs) from her latest album No More Good-byes followed by ska-formation The W's. On this sampler there's European stuff to. The Scottish The Electrics come up with folkrock from their album Livin' It Up When I Die. The Echoing Green follows with synthopop that hints back to the eighties. After TEG comes Five Iron Frenzy with Every New Day from Our Newest Album ever and song from the third release Quantity Is Job 1: Dandelions. The name Shekinatones made me expect a new ska-band but this is not true. These guys have roots in the eighties: "The Glam-rock revival is about to arise. We've got pyrotechnics and tight leather pants. We use lots of hairspray and big Peavy amps so we can...stop, drop, rock & roll." Besides these six names, this sampler has music from Justin McRoberts, Rivulets And Violets and Justin Dillon Stevens (former Dime Store Prophets member). Finally this message from the label itself: "All net profits from this Take Time To Listen Volume 4 CD will go to help the people in Valle Verde, Mexico at the 5 Minute Walk House. In the last three years the Lord has blessed 5 Minute Walk enough to buy the land, build the house and feed 100+ kids everyday. Now we are moving forward to bring supplies, and a full-time doctor to the house to open up a medical clinic at the same location. By purchasing this CD, you have helped this ministry. Thank you very much!" 5 Minute Walk is a different label, you can see. Thank you very much indeed!