Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Review : Atoms To Ashes - Through the storm

Atoms To Ashes - Through the storm (2017) Independent
Produced by Atoms To Ashes
Tracks : 1.Blown away 2.Not gonna break 3.Black to red 4.No longer 5.Around my neck
3 out of 5

It´s time to get your daily dose of active rock and why not turn to Montreal and Atoms To Ashes´ new EP "Through the storm", including 5 tracks with a crossover of electro rock and modern rock.
The band is led by Chris Starr who has his eyes set on the modern rock scene after 2000, if you´re into old school metal, skip this review and make yourself a cup of coffee instead.
The EP opens with the most electronic song out of these five songs, the verse is really cool but the chorus is almost a direct copy of Linkin Park´s One Step Closer which sucks.
"Not gonna break" is the first single from the EP and it´s a typical modern rock song, this one´s the Big Mac and Co on the menu.
"Black to red" follows and this song is very good, perhaps it´s because it reminds so much of Angels and Airwaves sound. It has Tom DeLonge written all over it.
"No longer" is the most poppy song on the EP, if you like to call it boyband-rock, go ahead, I won´t argue.
"Around my neck" is a nice rocker that bring thoughts to the Scandinavian modern rock scene with bands like April Divine, Plan Three and Blowsight.
Also available : Heartless EP (2014)

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Review : Hornal - The game begins with the lights out

Hornal - The game begins with the lights out (2017) Independent
Produced by Iain Hornal
Tracks : 1.Staring at the sky 2.Running away 3.Jennifer 4.Caledone 5.She doesn´t have anyone 6.Quit you 7.Dangerous men 8.Different places 9.Pictures of past 10.Any other way 11.Say the word
4 out of 5

Do you remember the days when there was music on MTV and the suits and jackets had shoulder pads to give the wearer the illusion of having broader shoulders? I´m talking about the 80´s.
If you ask Iain Hornal, it was an era when pop music had a brain, a soul and a heart.
Hornal´s debut solo "The game begins with the lights out" is an entertaining album that is the light we need in a rather bleak world, he truly gives the listener an idea of what kind of music he loves.
I´m pretty certain you will find records with Fleetwood Mac, Mike + The Mechanics, 10cc and E.L.O in his record collection, you can´t go wrong those artists.
And speaking of E.L.O, Iain Hornal was the backing singer in Jeff Lynne´s ELO on the Alone In The Universe tour 2016 and he also wrote the intro tape to The Feeling´s live shows.
Hornal´s album opens with the dreamlike and Floydian "Staring at the sky", I wonder if David Gilmour came by the studio and left his mark on the song? It sure sounds that way.
The songs "Running away" and "Any other way" will make fans of Wax´s 80´s pop very happy, Wax? you say! Well, let me give you a hint, their biggest hit is Bridge to your heart.
Imagine if Stevie Winwood teamed up with Sad Cafe´, then the result could very well be the song "Jennifer", I´m a sucker for this kind of late 70´s westcoast pop.
This album is like a carnival of melodies where Hornal doesn´t hold back, I think it´s impossible to get an overdose of harmonies but I´m willing to take it because I could die listening to "She doesn´t have anyone" or "Say the word". Both goes in the finest ELO/10cc style.
The album has two beautiful ballads too, "Pictures of past" that bring thoughts to Simon and Garfunkel and "Quit you" that sounds like something Paul Carrack could´ve written.
About the song "Caledone", I´m starting to think that John Lennon called from the other side and wanted his unreleased song back.
The best song is "Dangerous men", featuring Sophie Ellis-Bextor. A brilliant composition that easily could´ve fit on David Bowie´s 1983 album "Let´s Dance".
Good Golly Miss Molly!

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Quickbits : Bush, Mallory Knox, KXM

Bush - Black and white rainbows (2017) When post grunge goes mainstream
It might seem a bit strange that I never got into the music of Bush since I´m such a fan of Gavin Rossdale´s voice, but their songs didn´t appeal to me.
Rossdale´s solo album WANDERlust from 2008 is another story somehow, that album is a killer but also a completely different sound compared to his band.
So why start now? Well, a person can change. Ten years ago I couldn´t believe that I would be listening to Frank Sinatra almost every week at this age so I thought I should start by checking out Bush´s latest album "Black and white rainbows".
And I do like their new single "Mad love".
I really want to like this but the music still just doesn´t move me, Rossdale´s voice can move mountains but not even he can lift these mediocre midtempo songs.
(+) The voice, ah the voice.
(-) 15 songs are a few too many in my opinion, what´s wrong with the classic album concept of 10 tracks?

Mallory Knox - Wired (2017) At a crossroads of a hit or miss record
Album no.3 from the energetic rock band Mallory Knox, they have worked with a different producer on each album and this time around they teamed up with Dan Austin (The Cooper Temple Clause, Arcane Roots).
"Wired" is the follow up to the 2014 album "Asymmetry" where the band were on their way to something big, the Gil Norton produced "Asymmetry" was a bit more polished but also packed with a set of great songs.
The band is more happy with the sound on "Wired" that feels more raw and live compared to their previous record but I think the songs are weaker on the new album.
I expected something more from Mallory Knox, sure there are a few great tunes like "Lucky me", "Better off without you" and "Giving it up", however I can´t help but feeling a bit disappointed.
(+) In their best moments, they´re the Foo Fighters of Britain.
(-) The album is way too uneven.

KXM - Scatterbrain (2017) Power trio size XL
Getting tired of waiting for a new King´s X album? Well, don´t be. KXM is the closest thing of getting a King´s X record.
We´ve got Dug Pinnick singing like a god and playing bass with the same attitude as we´re used to hear him with Ty Tabor and Jerry Gaskill.
Then add the thundering drumming from Ray Luzier (KoRn) and the extraordinary six string work from George Lynch (Lynchmob), you´ll get KXM´s second album "Scatterbrain".
It´s more proggy than the debut but just as heavy, it´s not as heavy as KoRn but a whole lotta heavier than Lynch´s old band Dokken.
So I will give it a fair shot at saying that fans of King´s X will probably dig this record a lot.
KXM aren´t about writing radio friendly rock, you could say this music is for the people that want something more than the regular verse-chorus-verse-chorus formula.
Highlights : Scatterbrain, Big sky country, Noises in the sky
(+) I´m so glad that KXM didn´t turn out to be a one-album-band.
(-) Since this is the kind of rock that only should be played loud, I´m afraid my tinnitus is getting worse.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Toronto : Sprawling on the fringes of the city

                                                 Toronto, the Liverpool of Canada!
As a Swede, my first relation to this town, was the legendary Swedish hockey player Börje Salming who played in the NHL team Toronto Maple Leafs during the 70´s and 80´s.
But that didn´t stop me from being a Boston Bruins fan, however I have deep respect for Toronto Maple Leafs because it´s one of the original six league members along with Chicago Black Hawks, New York Rangers, Montreal Canadiens, Detroit Red Wings and Boston Bruins.
When it comes to music, my first contact with the most populous city in Canada, was the introduction of the 1976 live album "All the world´s a stage" with the classic phrase -Hello and please welcome home, Rush!
The live album was recorded at Massey Hall in Toronto and it was the start for me being a long-time fan of this beloved trio that has fans all over the world. (Other famous artists that has recorded their live albums at Massey Hall are Neil Young, Matthew Good, Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie).
By listening to Rush, it also got me more interested in rock music from Canada because up to 1976, I was mainly listening to bands from England and the U.S.
Rush might be the biggest band from Toronto but this city has a lot to offer for music lovers, whether you´re a  heavy metal fan and love Anvil, Lee Aaron or rather prefer melodic rock like Coney Hatch, Wrabit and Triumph. They are all top quality bands from the big city by the Lake Ontario.

This is also the hometown for ultimate progrock music with names like Max Webster, Klaatu, Alpha Galates and I Mother Earth, not to mention the famous producer Bob Ezrin who´s CV is mighty impressive with classic albums like Pink Floyd´s The Wall, Kiss´ Destroyer, Alice Cooper´s Welcome To My Nightmare and Peter Gabriel´s first solo album.
Ok, then, those albums and bands aren´t exactly new so you might wonder if the music scene in Toronto is pretty dead these days. Well, it´s not! I still discover new talents all the time so the climate for modern rock is alive and kicking with artists such as Thornley, Manic Drive, Crash Karma, Sky Terminal and Saint Asonia.
If I sit down with a few of my closest friends and talk about bands from Toronto, I know they would holler classic rock and blues artists like Neil Young, Jeff Healey, Steppenwolf and Moxy. And speaking of Moxy, I have a great story to share about some of my best friends who went down to Sweden Rock Festival in 2001 where the line-up was Angel, W.A.S.P, Gary Moore, Dokken, Helloween, Uli Jon Roth, Moxy and many more.
It was a hot and sunny day in the beginning of June and my friends Eddie and Tonnie had just put up a tent and were listening to a mixtape on a portable cassette player not far from the stage area. They were drinking beer and talking about the bands they were excited to see, and between two of the songs on the mixtape that happened to be Moxy. They noticed that they heard the same music coming from the stage, -shit, Moxy is on stage! So they ran like crazy because they had forgotten about the time Moxy would perform. I laughed a lot when I heard about this.

10 Essential albums made by artists from the city of the maple leafs
Rush-Moving Pictures (1981)
Max Webster-Universal Juveniles (1980)
Neil Young and Crazy Horse-Rust never sleeps (1979)
Anvil-Forged in fire (1983)
Dalbello-She (1987)
Harem Scarem-Mood Swings (1993)
Alias-Alias (1990)
Frozen Ghost-Frozen Ghost (1983)
Pat Travers Band-Live! Go For What You Know (1979)
Red Rider-Neruda (1983)

Rik Emmett was a relatively unknown singer/songwriter/guitarist on the local Toronto scene in September of ’75 when he joined a newly-formed hard rock trio called Triumph. By ’79 three albums had gone platinum in Canada and two charted in the States, receiving serious radio airplay. By ’81 Triumph was firmly established as one of the premier touring rock acts in North America, with generous FM radio airplay support and heavy rotation on the fledgling MTV cable channel. In the next seven years, the band released ten gold albums, with four turning platinum in Canada. In the U.S., two went gold.

What musicians from Toronto inspired you to work with music?
Rik Emmett-Domenic Troiano was a guitarist locally of high reputation.  From the jazz area, my teacher at college was Peter Harris, who was very much a Lenny Breau kind of fingerstyle guy.  A local guitarist from the jazz field who was extremely influential on many guitarists was Ed Bickert.

But as far as 'rock' goes, there weren't a lot of local guys that managed to rise above the huge influence of the Yardbirds guys, Beck, Page & Clapton.  No one locally played like Hendrix.  (Well - no one anywhere played like Hendrix, did they?)  When the wave of British Invasion stuff hit, and in its wake, there were no local guys who had the impact on Toronto Canada's pop scene like the idols of my teenage years:  Ritchie Blackmore, Steve Howe, Jan Akkerman ...   And even if one set one's sights a bit lower, and only looked to the States, there would be blues guys like Mike Bloomfield, and Buddy Guy ... It was more of a blues rock influence in Toronto, coming up out of Chicago, and Detroit. 

Dream Aria is a Toronto band who offers a blend of traditional progressive rock music with new prog, world music, goth, ambient & classical to their fans.

The band is fronted by Ann Burstyn and with a new album coming out on May 1st called On The Other Side, the Palace of Rock felt we needed to ask the question :

What is your opinion about the music scene in Toronto?
Ann Burstyn - The Toronto music scene is not what it used to be but really, that’s to be expected. We’re not in the 80’s any longer.  The nostalgic lot of us wishes it was perhaps but yet, here we are. The bad news is that so many of our beloved clubs have closed due to many reasons (mostly financial and younger demographics) but the good news is music is definitely alive and well, even here in the  TO! 
There is room for many successful cover/tribute acts in various remaining venues around the city. For those aforementioned “nostalgic” folks, you can still hear some of your fave bands from the past but in tribute fashion, such as Bon Jovi, Motley Crue, Dio, Pat Benatar, Heart etc.  Although it’s not the same as the real acts, the experience can still be much the same. If you’re into new music, the Indie Scene is a great place to look! Indie Music Week is an excellent place to find new treasures! There are bands of every genre and even bands that blend many genres together to create their own unique sound. Most TO residents will always think of RUSH as THE Toronto band. Yes, they are still around making great music but likely will be touring less and with a new drummer.  But some of the newer acts such as Big Wreck, Drake, Harem Scarem, Metric, Bruno Mars, Broken Social Circle Scene, The Weekend, along with others, are here to carry the torch. I personally give them all much respect and wish them the best of success today and into the future.  

Toronto has always been very diverse in culture and that shines through in the variety of artists/music genres these acts provide.  If one is looking for the BIG concert feel, the ACC, Roger’s Centre, Massey Hall, Molson Ampitheatre, Budweiser Stage, Sony Centre For Performing Arts, Sound Academy, and the Danforth Music Hall are the perfect venues to check out. Some acts on their rosters for 2017 are Bon Jovi, John Mayer, U2, Kings Of Leon, One Republic, Bruno Mars, Bob Dylan, and Tim McGraw/Faith Hill, to name just a few.  We can’t forget live Musical Theatre! Musicals are very much still a Toronto highlight. Some of the shows on that front are The BodyGuard, The Book Of Morman, The Sound Of Music, Mary Poppins, Pokemon, and many more. 
We still have quite  number of great clubs to satisfy your live band music thirst are: College Street Bar, Lee’s Palace, The Phoenix, The Mod Club, The Drake, The Rockpile, Horseshoe Tavern, Groove Bar & Grill, The Resevoir Lounge, The Silver Dollar, The Rex, Sneaky Dee’s, and Velvet Underground.
So there you have it! If you ask me, yes, the Toronto Music scene has changed but it still thriving BUT to keep it that way here’s a favorite and important quote we often say and hear around these parts: “Support Your Live Music Scene!” I cannot stress that enough. See you out there

The big ones that put Toronto on the map of rock and roll
Anvil (heavy metal)
Barenaked Ladies (rock)
Bob Ezrin (producer) 
Coney Hatch (melodic rock)
Dalbello (pop / rock)
Danko Jones (rock)
Harem Scarem (melodic rock) 
I Mother Earth (progressive metal) 
Jeff Healey (blues)
Kim Mitchell (classic rock)
Klaatu (progressive rock)
Lee Aaron (heavy metal) 
Max Webster (progressive rock)
Metric (pop / rock)
Moxy (classic rock)
Neil Young (classic rock)
Our Lady Peace (post grunge)
Pat Travers (hard rock)
Phil X (guitarist of Bon Jovi)
Red Rider (melodic rock)
Rush (progressive rock)
Santers (melodic rock)
Sheriff (melodic rock)
Steppenwolf (classic rock)
Three Days Grace (modern rock)
Tom Cochrane (melodic rock)
Triumph (hard rock)
Wrabit (melodic rock)

Underrated artists from Toronto that should be / or should´ve been bigger
Abandon All Ships (electronica / metal)
Alias (melodic rock)
Alpha Galates (progressive rock)
Big Wreck (hard rock)
Crash Karma (modern rock)
Dream Aria (progressive rock) 
Edwin (pop / rock)
Eugene Ripper (folk rock) 
Evans Blue (alternative metal)
Frozen Ghost (melodic rock)
Justin Rutledge (singer / songwriter) 
Leh-Lo (pop / soul)
Manic Drive (modern rock)
Saint Asonia (rock / metal)
Thornley (modern rock)
Toronto (melodic rock)

Rising acts from Toronto to have on the radar
Affinity (hard rock) 
All But Over (rock / metal) 
Before The Curtain (rock / metal)
Betty Moon (rock / pop) 
Bleeker (alternative rock)
Blind Race (heavy metal)
Bolus (progressive rock)
Broken Sons (rock)
Cooper (hard rock)
Curses (alternative rock)
Dani Rosenour (modern rock)
Days Like Today (pop / punk) 
Dear Love (alternative rock)
Down With Webster (rock / hip hop)
Fast Romantics (rock)
Final Thought (pop / rock)
Fire X Fire (power pop)
Jesse Labelle (alternative pop)
July (pop / punk)
Justin Nozuka (pop / soul)
Kai Exos (rock / soul)
Liferuiner (post hardcore)
MadMachines (alternative pop) 
Menage (pop / rock)
Never Say Die (alternative rock) 
Red Handed Denial (rock / metal)
Romes (alternative rock)
Rosedale (pop / punk)
Six Side Die (rock)
Sky Terminal (modern rock)
Smashing Satellites (electro pop)
Sumo Cyco (hard rock)
The Android Meme (progressive metal) 
The Fullblasts ( pop / punk)
The Heights (pop / rock)
The Lipstick Junkies (indie rock)
The Rabid Whole (electro rock)