Thursday, 5 July 2018

Miss Willis – Snakes, Fakes & A Holy Cow (MCDr 5tr)

Swedish retro hard rockers Miss Willis started out as Twilight Zone back in 1986, reformed as Miss Willis Flowerchild and released their first demo under this name already back in 1993. In 2008 they released their first album, “Alpha Male”, under the new shortened name. An outstanding release, indeed! The follow-up EP, “Rewolf” was released in 2010 and in 2015 the album “Coming Home” saw the light of day. This, their latest release, is another 5 track EP, a pro-printed CDR, I should add. It kicks off with a siren and bursts into a kick ass up-tempo guitar-based riff rocker. Promising, to say the least! “When The Devil Gets Old” continues in the upper mid-tempo region with a classic hard rock touch. A hint of AC/DC with a more Black Crowes sounding chorus. “Playground” reminds me a bit of UFO’s “Natural Thing” or Moxy’s “Moonrider” in the main riff. An outstanding hard rocker, indeed! “Först till kvarn” (with vocals in Swedish, as you may suspect) draws more on the early 70s vein, here with the addition of a Hammond organ, something they used quite a lot more on “Coming Home”. This one reminds me a bit of the band Blood From The Sun or Swedish colleagues Thalamus. This is actually my favorite track from this new effort. Uffe’s vocals sort of take on a totally different tone when he sings in his native tongue. The EP finished off with “Hole In The Ground”, which initially and ironically made me think of “Hole In The Sky” (Black Sabbath). It does sound a bit like vintage Uriah Heep meets Black Sabbath. A kick-ass track. A great band that never disappoints! Looking forward to the new full-length!
Janne Stark
Country: Sweden
Year: 2018
Label: self-released

Wednesday, 4 July 2018

Black Aces – Anywhere But Here (CD)

When I listen to the Black Aces album I can’t help wondering how many times you can re-cycle the formula created by AC/DC. We already have hundreds, if not thousands, of bands that have used, misused, developed, re-vamped and copied what the Aussies once created. There’s your Airbourne, ’77, Bullet, Rhino Bucket, Rose Tattoo, Bonafide, Dynamite, Upper Crust etc etc. So, what new ingredients have fellow Australians Black Aces brought to the brew? Well, I can’t really find any to be honest. The singer is trying to put his spin on the Bon Scott era high-pitch vocals and the music has also taken on the late 70s AC/DC sound and style of song writing, even the backing vocals have the same rough football choir vibe as AC/DC had once they started adding this to their brew. At least some of the bands, such as Bonafide, put a new spin on the old coin and make it into a beast of their own, but unfortunately this is just blue print material, except maybe for the track “Short Changed” which has at least a slightly personal touch to it. If you’re a fan of AC/DC and have no problem with copy cats, this one’s definitely for you. The band does a great job doing what they do. The musicians are great, the sound kicks ass and the singer does a great job, so this is by no means a bad album in that sense. It’s just, a bit too unoriginal for me. If they had just dared to take a little step or two outside the box, that would have done a great deal.
Janne Stark
Label: Off Yer Rocka
Country: Australia

Year: 2017

Jay Jesse Johnson Band – Down The Hard Road (CD)

Jay Jesse Johnson (not to be confused with disco/funk rocker Jesse Johnson) has released a bunch of high class albums since his solo debut “Strange Imagination” in 2004. Before that he recorded an album with pomp rock band ArcAngel (featuring Jeff Cannata) in 1983 and in 1989 he released the album “Electrocution of the Heart” with AOR band Deadringer (featuring Charlie Huhn and Barry Dunaway among others). His solo albums are however quite far from the melodic rock scene. “Down The Hard Road”, like Jay’s previous solo efforts, are all about the blues. The album is all originals except for Booker T’s “Born Under A Bad Sign” and Roy Buchanan’s “The Messiah Will Come Again”. I remember reviewing Jay’s previous album “Set The Blues On Fire” two years ago. The album was a nice piece of hard edged blues rock. On this album Jay is leaning more towards the classic side of blues rock and boogie and he’s even added some horns on a couple of songs and there’s a piano solo in “Drive Me Home”. Jay is an outstanding guitarist with both incredible feel and great technique. Most of the songs are classic blues rock numbers, while “Tears Of An Angel” is a slow and slightly heavier blues ballad and “Bull In The Barn” offers some swift chicken pickin’. The aforementioned Buchanan cover “The Messiah Will Come” also offers a slightly different touch to the album, and I honestly hadn’t really thought about how this number must have had a great impact on Gary Moore when he wrote “The Loner” and “Parisienne Walkways”. Sweet notes a’ la carte.
Janne Stark
Year: 2017
Label: Grooveyard Records
Country: USA