Sam Millar – Holy Sass
Every now and then you see a band that chimes with you and for an inexplicable reason you just go “Wow”. Bigfoot were that band for me. They had this long haired guitarist with a smiling, cheeky, “I’m bloody good btw” attitude. That’ll be the bold Sam Millar.
I saw them supporting Jeff Scott Soto in Newcastle where I personally thought they were better than the main act. I also treated my wife to a gig in Edinburgh when the lads were supporting Tyketto. I loved the short set, my wife discovered that premium seats at the front side of the stage meant she was under the speakers. She’s not spoken to me since as she’s now partially deaf. She wasn’t a fan however I was.
I then saw the lads at Rockingham where they were awesome and the Welsh mafia agreed with me to the extent that 4 of us were decked out in the green and white Bigfoot Union Jack tour shirts. I think fan-boy is a harsh but fair comment as I collected t-shirts and signed EPs. I also had the pleasure to chat to the lads and so I was gutted when they undertook a farewell tour that, to be honest only Black Sabbath and Kiss have done for longer. The upside of this was Sam Millar (him of the cheeky smile, never say no to a beer and general happy demeanour) announced on Facebook that he was recording his own stuff. I’d seen his YouTube videos (videos? FFS how old do I sound?!) and was committed to a signed copy of the EP.
‘Holy Sass’ – nae idea what it means but I knew the word on the street was it wasn’t a Bigfoot style sound. This worried me not a jot and into the car CD it went. To be honest it hasn’t been off. It is 5 tracks of pure soft/melodic rock/pop. Delete as appropriate.
‘Eyes’ kicks things off with a good old fashioned 70’s guitar riff and then I discovered Mr Millar can bloody sing. Not a booming voice but one that totally compliments the sound of the song superbly. It’s foot tappingly good with echoing clapping and nicely layered vocals. There’s also the lyrics, not twee but heartfelt: “So much for walking away, so much for making it history, get up and get up and go if you don’t like what you see”. I think there may be a bit of hangover from a previous relationship there (band or girlfriend I won’t presume to know but you make your own minds up)
‘Cyber Girl’ – FFS I thought the start was gonna be Mud “Lonely this Christmas” followed by The Darkness and their bloody Christmas song. However, I was wrong! It grows and grows into a very soft but haunting song. It becomes a superb melodic piece and the Sam solo is stunning. OK it’s still a Christmas style song but it’s more addictive than Marmite. I love it. “Cyber girl meet me in the real world”, a sad refection on youngsters nowadays, what happened to bumping into your wife in a pub? Oh that’ll be just me then.
‘Let Me Yet’ – the first song I’d heard as sneak preview, the guitar hook and general happy upbeat sound is wonderful. The chorus is superb and it leaves a smile on your face. Again the lyrics are quality but the guitar again is just so good. I think this boy may actually be able to play…….
‘Lost in Translation’ – nice acoustic start with “that” guitar sound kicking in. A bona fide melodic rock piece that just grows to highlight that Sam is a proper guitarist. It has the orchestral bit at the end which I think was wasted a bit, another minute of that with the guitar and we’d have a perfect song.
‘Strangers’ – I always thought I’d heard the perfect melodic rock songs and this beauty bursts into life. It’s one of the most stunning piece of catchy guitar based joy you can imagine. My wife sat in the car stunned and said “no way was he in that noisy band, it’s brilliant.” It’s stunningly good, the chorus is an ear worm, it’s one of the most uplifting tracks I’ve heard…..in days
So ‘Holy Sass’ is just a piece of pure fun, enjoyment and choruses that are just magnificent and if you don’t listen to this and smile you must be dead from the neck up and nothing working downstairs.
I wanted to like it because I’ve met Sam and he is a genuine nice guy but it blew me away how good it was and rumours there may a follow-up coming makes me very happy.
Its the best EP I’ve heard in a long time.
9 out of 10 easy. Loved it.
Review by Lawrie Willcox
2. Cyber Girl
3. Let Me Yet
4. Lost In Translation
Sam Millar……and probably a few mates.
Whiskey Myers – S/T
Whiskey Myers are about to release their fifth studio album, their self- produced, self-titled and set for release Friday 27th Sept.
“This was the first album be have produced on our own and its 100% authentically us, which is why we decided to self-title it ‘Whiskey Myers;” says lead guitarist John Jeffers. “We’ve been fortunate in our careers to work with some incredible producers, but self-producing gave us the freedom to try out every crazy idea in the studio, which got us to this place where we are completely satisfied with the end result and more excited than ever to get this new music out to our fans”.
My path first crossed theirs as a +1 when I went to see them support The Cadillac Three a few years back, and I took an immediate interest in their work. Their last album ‘Mud’ was a defining moment for them as far as I am concerned, and thankfully I am pleased to say that this upward trajectory continues with the “S/T” album. They have previously had three albums in the Country Chart in the US, but, to me, they have Southern Rock coursing through their veins and are THE band to take up the reins from Lynyrd Skynyrd.
Get your stomping boots out for opener “Die Rockin’” as its part preachin’ and totally bitchin’! I particularly like WM’s use of female backing vocals as it just elevates the song to a different level. “Mona Lisa” is a more melodic tune that is instantly likeable, and Jeffers’ lide guitar shines. “Rolling Stone” does drop its anchor deep in Country territory, and highlights the fact they are equally happy with a more commercial sound and will surely be lapped up by CMTs fanbase. “Bitch” is a more up-tempo rocker, and of course there’s a song about “Gasoline” which reminds me of bar-bands, sawdust and chicken wire, with a cracking ‘wah-wah’ geetar solo, and some fine wailing from Cody Cannon.
“Bury My Bones” is a southern as a possum eating a sweet potato pie. A slow number that shows their versatility and can mix it all up with the simplest of ease. “Glitter Ain’t Gold” has a pulsating backbone that will get your body moving in time with the beat, with Cannon wailing ‘I was raised by the wolves in the woods, not the streets’. It’s a curious line, and one I’d like to know its meaning of. “Houston Country Sky” is one song I can clearly visualise at a country fair, and the lap steel guitar transports you right in the middle of the action. “Little More Money” and “California To Caroline” have a lilting, haunting guitar sound, and the minimal use of Hammond organ combined with lap steel guitar on Caroline sucks you in, wanting more and is just delightful. “Kentucky Gold” is a live kick-ass anthem if ever I heard one. A treasure trove of a song.
“Running” is the first song that hasn’t taken me on a musical journey. Its pleasant enough, but everything before is soooo much better. It picks up considerably towards the back end though, and makes up for its plodding majority. “Hammer” is all harmonica and pounding rhythm, and gets them back on track. Full credit to the harmonies, and its gospel/blues style backing vocals. Simply marvellous.
I’ve made the comparison to Lynyrd Skynyrd at the top of this review, and its their final song “Bad Weather” that is the contender to be Whiskey Myers’s ‘Freebird’, both in stature and length! Cannon projects emotion in his vocals, and I see many a hardened biker wiping a tear as they sup their beer. The second half of the song sees the band take over and it’s all about the jam. The song fades out at its peak, but you can imagine and feel that it’s only just beginning. A nailed down 100% cert for the live shows. Every note is being wrung out. It’s a belting way to finish off the album.
If you’ve been keeping count, it is fourteen songs of pure quality, that just slip by in an instant. Very few bands utilise female backing singers, but Whiskey Myers, as did Skynyrd, use these harmonies that elevate the songs to a different level. More bands should do it, and when done well, there’s nowt better.
In going it alone, Whiskey Myers could have gone off the rails, but its been a sterling decision to self-produce. I didn’t think they could top ‘Mud’, but how wrong I was. The album cover is minimalistic, and the songs are anything but.
TC3 may get the plaudits from the faithful, but Whiskey Myers are the real deal.
Review by Paul Chesworth
Bury My Bones
Glitter Ain’t Gold
Houston Country Sky
Little More Money
California To Caroline
The Defiants – ‘Zokusho’
THE DEFIANTS is a band put together by Paul Laine, Bruno Ravel, and Rob Marcello. Fans in the know will immediately recognize them, as all have ties to Danger Danger.
Best known for being the D2 vocalist on four studio albums over the course of 12 years, Paul Laine came back to work with his former bandmates Bruno Ravel and Rob Marcello, who are the other two pillars of The DEFIANTS, for the band’s self-titled debut album in 2015. The guys reunited at the suggestion of Frontiers’ President, Serafino Perugino, who really wanted these current and former Danger Danger members to offer fans of that band some new music. The resulting album was pleasing not only to the D2 fans, but also to ALL the fans out there who are into the classic sound of the era from which D2 emerged.
The Defiants debut album was greeted with a great acclaim as a glorious return to the “in your face” melodic hard rock that enraptured millions of fans back in the ‘80s and ‘90s and is currently enjoying a renaissance here in the 21st century, so a follow-up album was a no-brainer. The brand new album, “Zokusho”, a Japanese word meaning “the sequel” or “the next chapter”, is now set for release this fall.
This time, things for D2 fans get even more exciting as D2 drummer Steve West is a special guest on drums. The Defiants could very well be one Perugino’s best ideas yet. Despite 12 years and 4 albums fronting Danger Danger, 90% of fans would likely go for the Ted Poley fronted version over this Paul Laine period. Paul Laine fronted the band during the AOR wilderness years (’93-’04) unfortunately. Even 80s household names struggled in the advent of flannel, two chords and depressing lyrics (aka Grunge)! Paul proved on the debut that he is definitely the man for this job.
So do the guys shake off the sophomore second album syndrome? More of that later. ‘Love Is The Killer’ immediately sets its stall as a companion piece for the debut. Melodic rock in a modern being. Big (hair), big hook, bigger chorus and some stellar soloing from Marcello. ‘Standing On The Edge’ is a powerful song with TNT in its veins, and some vocal histrionics from Laine. ‘Hollywood In Headlights’ and ‘Fallin’ For You’ are both classic D2 songs by any other name. Both are bona fide Summer driving song to be played at max volume. By now you (the listener) can relax. The boys have got your back. You know its gonna be good from here on in. ‘Hold On Tonite’ is the first traditional ballad and and takes the pace down slightly, but it’s still good listening, and a definite grower.
‘Allnighter’ is back to a rough and ready approach, with its harder edged guitar riff and a verst that’s straight out of Nickleback’s ‘Burn It To The Ground’ playbook. ‘U X’D My Heart’ is a vehicle to prove how good a singer Paul Laine is. This song is all about him. As he nearly his notes that only dogs can hear. It has a great outdo from Marcello. ‘It Goes Fast’ just skips along at an enjoyable pace that goes so quick you want to savour it all again. As we get to ’Stay’ Im beginning to wonder how many of these songs are worthy of being singles. It’s hard to select any losers in the pack. ‘Alive’ has a big scoop of U2 in it and I hate myself for knowing this! So let’s leave it at that. Im going to scrub myself in bleach….
…I’m back now for the final song, the Paul Laine mantra ‘Drink Up’. I’ve only seen him once, and he drank, like, a lot! It’s a proper old school rocker that invites you to play it loud and proud and it makes no apology for what it is.
Heres the checklist….
Melodic. Catchy. Harmonies a plenty. Great guitar work. Wonderful songwriting. Four guys at the absolute top of their game. Cracking production. ‘Zokusho’ has the lot.
SAS? (Sophomore Album Syndrome?) No chance. Its bloody fabulous!
Review by Paul Chesworth
Paul Laine – Vocals
Bruno Ravel – Bass
Rob Marcello – Guitars
Steve West – Drums
1.Love Is The Killer
2.Standing On The Edge
3.Hollywood In Headlights
4.Fallin’ For You
5.Hold On Tonite
7.U X’d My Heart
8.It Goes Fast
Released 13th September
Robert Tepper – ‘Better Than The Rest’
Singer/songwriter Robert Tepper was born in Bayonne, New Jersey. Tepper began his career in the music industry as a staff songwriter in New York City. While in New York, Robert formed a partnership with fellow singer/songwriter Benny Mardones. The duo struck pay dirt with the hit ballad “Into the Night,” which not only peaked at #11 on the Top 40 radio pop charts in September, 1980, but also earned the pair a Grammy Award nomination. Tepper went on to collaborate again with Mardones on the latter’s 1981 follow-up album “Too Much To Lose.”
Robert signed up with the Scotti Brothers record label in 1985 and moved to Los Angeles, California. Tepper scored another hit with the rousing tune “No Easy Way Out,” which was featured on the soundtrack to Rocky IV (1985) and peaked at #22 on Billboard’s Hot 100 pop radio chart in 1986. Robert released his debut album “No Easy Way Out” that same year. Despite being prominently featured on the soundtrack to the critically reviled Sylvester Stallone action vehicle Cobra(1986), Tepper’s dynamic song “Angel of the City” failed to crack the top 40 radio charts while the single “Don’t Walk Away” only made it to #85. Robert released his second album “Modern Madness” in 1988 and was a member of the classic hard-rock group Iron Butterfly for several years. His third album “No Rest for the Wounded Heart” came out in 1996. Tepper released his fourth album “New Life Story” in 2012.
Like many people my first experience with Robert Tepper was with the song ‘No Easy Way Out’ and I was hooked but for some unknown reason his solo albums have never done as well as I believe they should so hearing he had a new album coming I was excited to give this a listen.
‘Better Than The Rest’ is a finely crafted collection of songs and Robert’s voice is as good now as it was 30+ years ago. Listening to this album certainly brought back memories of ripped jean, leather jackets and Poodle Perms. While these songs are finely crafted it doesn’t mean that they’re amazing and that is the problem that I picked up on the first listen, although the album is well written and produced I found it painfully boring, there are moments when I thought here we go this is the high quality track that I’ve been waiting for but sadly it just never quite reaches the potential. It took 6 songs for me to even tap my feet, usually when I listen to an album on repeat it doesn’t take me long to pick up lyrics and start singing along but it just didn’t happen with this release.
For such a talented musician and songwriter Robert Teppers albums always seem to receive a warm reception then under perform. I was hoping ‘Better Than The Rest’ would break that chain but in my opinion which may be unpopular, it won’t. A lot of bands from the 80’s/90’s although performing the kind of material that made them successful back then have made enough tweaks to their sound to appear fresh, Robert Tepper hasn’t done this. I wanted to love this album but not matter how many times I listened to it I simply couldn’t. I’m giving ‘Better Than The Rest’ a meagre 6/10 and to be honest it’s only the quality of the production that stopped me marking this lower.
Review by Hollywood Vampyre
Why Does Over (Have To Be So Sad)
Better Than The Rest
All That We Never Have
Time Just This Time
Tell Me You Love Me
Show Me Where The Light Is Going
Beyond The Atmosphere
I Don’t Want To Make You Love Me
You Know Just How You Feel
KXM – ‘Circle Of Dolls’
KXM — which derives its name from a combination of its members’ other projects (K from KORN, X from KING’S X and M from LYNCH MOB) — issued its self-titled debut in 2014. The 13-track follow-up, “Scatterbrain”, was released on March 17, 2017. Now the band is back with a stronger and awesome new album which – in George Lynch’s words – “it’s better than the first two. It’s insane. The magic’s there, the chemistry’s there, and we’re just sitting here patting ourselves on the back, telling each other what geniuses we are!”
KXM is comprised of dUg Pinnick of King’s X on vocals/bass, George Lynch of Lynch Mob/Dokken on guitars and Korn’s drum maestro, Ray Luzier, rounds out the powerhouse trio. The band takes its name from the combination of the member’s other projects: K from Korn, X from King’s X and M from Lynch Mob.
KXM formed in early 2013 when dUg, George and Ray spoke about trying to jam together. At the time it wasn’t clear what would come from those jams. The only thing that was clear was that these 3 musicians, at the top of their game, wanted to play together. The self-titled debut, KXM, was born from those jam sessions and is now an important piece in each band member’s musical legacy. In a world that constantly searches for new and unique music, KXM delivers all the power and punch that one would expect from these high level players!
First of all I just want to say that dUg Pinnick (fuck only knows why he spells Dug ‘dUg’) has just turned 69! Sixty-nine! He could pass for someone in their forties, never mind someone fast approaching 70!
If you’re expecting something Kings X / Dokken / Korn related, then you’re not in luck. If anything, its closest to Kings X, but that’s down to Pinnick’s unmistakeable vocals. ‘War Of Words’ is fast and phrenetic, and signals its intent from the off. ‘Mind Swamp’ has a bit of a trippy and hypnotising opening riff, before a more metal riff ensues. For the guitar solo, Lynch plays it like a prog rock song that current Opeth fans would expect, and is not your typical Lynch expectation. Which is cool. Its makes for one of the best songs on the album
‘Circle Of Dolls’ is a more straightforward track, with a cool drum pattern from Luzier. Three songs in and there isn’t a pattern to their style. I guess they guys just bounced ideas, jammed and recorded whatever juices flow out. ‘Lightning’ coughs up a slow groove, and particularly plays to Pinnick’s vocalisation. The guy still sounds great! It proves to be another highlight.
It’s a long song and the whole song plays out and is given time to breathe and isn’t forced. Lynch gets some strange sounds out before a passioned solo sees out the remainder. ’Time Flies’ has more of a relaxed opening, before soaring. I have to say that Lynch’s guitar playing is something else.
’Twice’ kicks off with a very ear pleasing ‘poppy’ groove, if ever KXM could be poppy? This is as close as it gets to being mainstream radio `U~S friendly rock. ‘Big As The Sun’ starts off with a punchy bass and drum riff, but its Lynch’s guitar playing that takes this up a level or three., whereas for ’Vessel Of Destruction’ its Luziers drumming taking central stage to it Korn-esque roots. It shows the looseness and flow of their playing that I’ve been trying to describe, but only a song can prove. ‘A Day Without Me’ has an acoustic country cowboy opening, before the groove belting with Pinnick’s bluesy wail proving as effective foil.
‘Wide Awake’ is one of those songs where they just let Lynch off the reins, wound him up and let him go. The solo is a meandering, soulful, and one that if it were the 70s, would go on for days and days. ’Shadow Lover’ has its foot set in the 90s, it’s a dark sounding Pinnick, with a resonance to his vocals that make the difference. ‘Cold Sweats’ is one of the couple of songs that has some harmonies vocally. Finally its ‘The Border’ is hypnotic and trippy, but most of all, topical. Some say musicians and actors should keep out of politics, buy I feel they have a much stronger voice than the establishment what you to think.
I have to say that Circle of Dolls is a varied tapestry of music. KXM have weaved various styles and themes that reward the listener with something different for each and every song. Its good to see 3 musicians performing at the top of their respective games still and given the opportunity to play it out as they have here.
I still think Lynch is the guitar God he has always been. Pinnick’s vocals are mostly undiminished considering his age. Im not ageist, but we expect our musical idols to sound like they did in 1985. And Luzier adds to the tryptich with some sterling drum wizardry.
If you’re already a fan of KXM, buy this album, as its my fave yet. If you’re new to KXM but a fan of Pinnick, Luzier & Lynch, buy it. Tell you what, just buy it anyway. I think though, in being able to see and hear these songs being played live, would be something else indeed.
Review by Paul Chesworth
dUg Pinnick – Vocals / Bass
George Lynch – Guitars
Circle Of Dolls is scheduled for release on September 13th via Rat Pak Records.
1.War of Words | 02. Mind Swamp | 03. Circle of Dolls | 04. Lightning | 05. Time Flies | 06. Twice | 07. Big as the Sun | 08. Vessel of Destruction | 09. A Day Without Me | 10. Wide Awake | 11. Shadow Lover | 12. Cold Sweats | 13. The Border | 14. War of Words (Radio Edit) [Bonus Track – CD & Download Versions Only]