25 January 2013

The Ones That Got Away - Lynyrd Skynyrd

It can't be easy carrying around the name Lynyrd Skynyrd and it would be easy for the band to rest on their laurels and become another "greatest hits" act but credit to them despite being down to one surviving original member they not only keep the flame alive but have been knocking out some good new material of late.

I really enjoyed 2009's God & Guns even if lyrically some of the songs were a bit too redneck for comfort (and at odds with the message from the likes of Saturday Night Special). I missed the fact that the follow up Last of a Dyin’ Breed came out last summer but picked it up recently and have found it to be another great slice of Southern Rock with enough of a modern edge to it to keep it fresh and not dated.

Lyrically we are still somewhere deep in redneck country and many of the songs veer from the depressing (Life's Twisted, Nothing Comes Easy) to the borderline sexist (Honey Hole?!) but that doesn't stop them being a collection of good rock songs. Probably best not to over think them I suspect...

There might not be as many stand out tracks as on God & Guns, bit the likes of One Day At A Time and the potentially cheesy but very emotional Ready To Fly show that Skynyrd should not hang up their cowboy boots quite yet...

21 January 2013

The Ones That Got Away - Kamelot...

I have something of a passing enjoyment of symphonic metal although it is a genre I need to take in smallish doses as it can sound a bit too similar from one band to the next. That said there are some real pearls amongst the genre's bands, Kamelot being one.

I found them fairly generic until they released the stunning The Black Halo in 2005 and have picked up all their material since, which makes it kind of odd that I missed 2012's release Silverthorn!

Silverthorn has the familiar Kamelot sound, but as Nightwish have also done over the last couple of albums, they have pushed the envelope somewhat with a more grandoise operatic somewhat dark carnivale influence extending into the lyrics, sounds and motifs. The album is a somewhat overblown concept album and is the first featuring new singer Tommy Karevik who does a sterling job replacing Roy Khan, no small feat given the latter's tenure of thirteen years at the helm. The additional of guest female vocals on some songs certainly adds to the whole experience.

Whilst Silverthorn would probably not sneaked into my top ten of 2012, it is a very good album and worthy of investigation. If you have not heard Kamelot before the song Sacrimony from the album is a good primer tossing in lots of different aspects of the band and their sound...

10 January 2013

The Ones That Got Away - Riversea...

I was not the only person listing their top ten albums of 2012 and of course there are a number of really good ones I've found myself catching up on (and my wallet complaining about!). So to start 2013 I will be looking at the ones that got away kicking off with Riversea's debut release Out of an Ancient World.

A number of friends recommended this and I suspect I would have been on many people's top ten if it hadn't be released in December. It is a wonderful collection of songs and the fact it is a debut album belies the fact that it sounds so good. They mix the mellow vocals and keyboard sweeps with occasional grittiness and passion fused with some classy guitar solos. Echoes of Marillion and Pink Floyd here and there, the album seeps emotion.

Stand out tracks are the thought provoking Is That What God Wants? and the sublime title track Out of An Ancient World but they are all good.

If I'd picked it up before I started my 2012 Top Ten it would certainly have been in it!

1 January 2013

Shapes of Things...

So this is 2013 is it? Seems like it was only 2012 yesterday! :-)

So what will 2013 bring us musically and what am I looking forward to? Apparently Planet Rock listeners voted a new album by Led Zeppelin as their most wished for thing in 2013. More chance of Martians landing I suspect, so I will keep my list short and sane!

1. New Crimson Sky album:

I'm not sure if this is definitely on the cards, Martin Leamon has told us he is writing new material and after the excellent Dawn EP released last year it is obvious that the current line up is the bee's knees and if there is any justice in the world they will get the chance to record and release a storming album in 2013, bringing them the success they deserve.

I was lucky to catch Crimson Sky live a few times over the last twelve months (after a year of being fated not ever being able to see them) and find them hugely enjoyable. Martin is an excellent guitarist and Jane Setter a fantastic singer.


The follow up to Also Eden's excellent 2011 album Think of the Children is due later this year and my anticipation levels are barely restrained! To whet the appetite the band released the forthcoming song Endless Silence as a festive download. My appetite is well and truly whetted!

Also Eden deserve more recognition and success than they current receive and they are a superb live band as well as having released some wonderful albums.

3. Brief Nocturnes and Dreamless Sleep:

The new Spock's Beard album should be interesting, especially with new vocalist Ted Leonard. I am a bit of a heretic in my love of the post-Neal Morse era material. The samples the band have released certainly sound good, roll on March...

4. Seeing Galahad Live:

Having released two of my top ten albums of 2012, I was gutted to miss out on seeing Galahad live in 2012. Hopefully I will be able to make one of their gigs in 2013.

5. Some Old School Rock:

Having been amazed by Michael Schenker at High Voltage in 2011 I am keen to see him on his 2013 tour (it'll be thirty years since I first saw him play). UFO are also in the area early this year so it could be a last chance to check out some of these ageing Old School rockers (hopefully not but they aren't get any younger!).