Once in every while a big hype comes along, a hype so big that if you’re just a little too late picking it up it’s easy to get obstinate and refuse to even give the artist a break. At least I work like that. Rival Sons are the first to come to mind. When they showed up they were everywhere and everybody and their mother seemed to simply adore them as soon as they even laid a fart. So I became obstinate. But when I finally couldn’t resist checking them out, I also totally got why the hype was so big. So they didn’t reinvent the wheel and they wore their influences on their sleeves but they were so good at what they were doing and they had a treasure chest full of brilliant songs so who the hell gives a crap? I’m a huge Rival Sons fan now. This time they hype is called Greta Van Fleet, a band made of three brothers and a buddy of theirs, from Frankenmuth, Michigan, USA.
My wife and I were just about to park our car when this fat, bad-ass groove came blasting through our car stereo speakers. We just had to stay put until the song ended and the DJ would let us know which band we were listening to. The DJ, however, was silent and a new song began. Dammit! It would take us another couple of days before we were informed that the band in question was called The Struts (a name that makes us Swedes smirk some as ‘struts’ means ostrich in Swedish…) and the song was called “Kiss This”. A quick google told me that the song was taken from the band’s debut album Everybody Wants (2014), an album that was reissued for the US in 2016 with some new songs added and a couple of songs removed. A quick visit on YouTube told me that The Struts had more killer tracks than “Kiss This” and a purchase of said album was a no-brainer for yours truly. The record was, of course, awesome and their gig at Sweden Rock Festival in 2016 was a real killer – the party was on at noon!
Back in 2008, when Swedish rockers H.E.A.T. released their self-titled debut album, they were the new hot-shots and looked upon as the new hope for AOR and the band that would be the next big Swedish export. The album was – and is to this day – seen as something of a small masterpiece in the AOR genre. But I must admit that personally, I wasn’t all that impressed. Sure, it’s a good record but it failed to grab me by large. But H.E.A.T. quickly gained a reputation as a great live act and even though the follow-up, 2010’s Freedom Rock got some mixed reviews from both fans and media (I belong to those who prefer that album over the debut), the band got bigger and bigger and after they participated in Melodifestivalen (the Swedish Eurovision Song Contest) with a song called “1000 Miles”, with which they got to the finals and the song became a huge hit, H.EA.T. had become more or less a household name in Sweden – the big break was close.
Ace is back and he told you so! And since he left Kiss for the last (?) time back in 2001 to get sober once and for all and to get the second coming of his solo career off the ground, it sure seems like good ole Ace really is back because in later years he really has proven to be one creative dude. His first album since Trouble Walkin’ (1989), Anomaly (2009) turned out to be a bit on the uneven side but it was good enough and showed us that he meant business this time. Today, Ace has been sober for almost 12 years and at the age of 67, Ace feels more creative than ever before. 2014’s Space Invader proved that Ace had a lot left to give, a brilliant album that nailed everything that is Ace Frehley and in my book his best effort since awesome as his 1978 solo debut. Hell, the guy even managed to record a great cover album, something that’s pretty unusual. With his life in order and his career back on track, it’s time for Ace to prove that his last album wasn’t just a lucky shot and that he’s relevant in 2018 with a brand new album.
Like so many other rockers, I was total sucker for guitar heroes back in the 80’s. It was a decade when Yngwie Malmsteen still knew how to write a decent song and record listenable records. The guy was an influence on so many guitarists back then and guys like Vinnie Moore and Tony MacAlpine were obviously influenced by him on their first records. There was also Chris Impellitteri. When it came to borrowing – yes let’s use that word to be kind – from Malmsteen, Impellitteri was in a league of his own. His band’s debut album came out in 1988 and was called Stand In Line and featured singer Graham Bonnet (The Marbles, Rainbow, MSG, Alcatrazz), bass player Chuck Wright (Quiet Riot, House Of Lords) and drummer Pat Torpey (Mr Big) and I bought it, of course. Anything Malmsteen related back then was worth purchasing for me.
The music industry today isn’t what it once was. Back in the day, the dream of making it big wasn’t only about releasing great music and touring, it was also about fame, making big bucks and become economically independent. Houses, cars, motorcycles, parties, women and all the drink and drugs you could imagine was almost as big a dream as releasing the album that everybody and their mother loved. Today, no musician is naïve enough to even imagine becoming a millionaire from making music. Today you’re lucky if you can live an endurable life on music alone, but very often you need a job on the side as well. As much as I believe that hard-working musicians deserve all the fortunes they could make, this also makes sure that young aspiring musicians are in the business for the right reason – the music. This also means that the gold-diggers and wannabes won’t even bother and voila, goodbye to shit music.
Here’s another classic Hard Rock band that have more or less passed me by. Just like the case of Uriah Heep, Nazareth has always been around by name and despite me growing up with contemporary bands like Deep Purple, Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin and their branches Rainbow, Whitesnake and Ozzy Osbourne, Nazareth just like Heep never made it to my record collection. I have of course heard the big hits such as “Razamanaz”, “Hair Of The Dog” and “Love Hurts” and yes, there have been a few songs by the band on a mixed tape here and there but that’s pretty much it. What’s even more weird is that the songs I have heard, I have really liked, so why not go all in and get the albums, like I have done with so many other bands after only listening to the odd song or two? Beats me, but I guess some bands just don’t catch my attention the way others do.
Ok, so what can I say about my relation to Seventh Wonder then? Well, first of all, I have no relation to Seventh Wonder what so ever. Come to think of it, I don’t think I have ever listened to any of their studio albums even once. Two years ago, I received a reviewer’s link for their double live disc Welcome To Atlanta – Live 2014 but due the fact that the day only holds 24 hours, I just didn’t have time to review it. I listened to it, though and even though I thought it was ok, it didn’t really made an impact on me. I have known OF the band for many years, though and I have heard a lot of good things being said about them so believe it or not, I was pretty psyched to sink my teeth into the new record.
For the last couple of years, Swedish AOR-rockers Creye have been pretty much the talk of the (AOR) town – here in Sweden, at least. The band was formed in 2016 by guitarist and song writer Andreas Gullstrand (Grand Slam) and singer Alexander Strandell and with the help from some hired guns, they released the E.P. “Straight To The Top” with three songs to much critical acclaim. Since then, Gullstrand have built up a band around that E.P., not very unlike Jon Bon Jovi who built Bon Jovi around “Runaway”. Joel Rönning (keyboards), Gustaf Östa (bass) and Arvid Filipsson (drums) were hired shortly after with rhythm guitarist Fredrik Joakimsson joining the band last as the final piece of the puzzle. When Creye had finally transformed from a two-man project into a real band, singer Strandell joined Art Nation and left the band. New singer Robin Jidhed was recruited. If Robin’s last name seems familiar it’s because it is – he’s the son of Alien singer Jim Jidhed.
Do the name Hank Erix ring a bell for anyone out there? No? Houston maybe? The band, not the city, that is. Well, for you who don’t know, Hank Erix is the lead singer in Swedish AOR:sters Houston, a band that started in 2010 and have since released three albums of originals and two cover records. Personally, even though I have a weak spot for AOR music in general, I never fully got into Houston. Every album had the odd killer tune but most of their stuff has failed to grab me. Not bad, just too mainstream – and their music is very sugary, pink and fluffy, too much for my comfort. Now when Erix has branched out to make a solo record, he pointed out that this will be a rockier effort and that the sound of Houston was never so much his choices as the other members of the band. To me, this sounds interesting as if there’s one thing I have missed in Houston, it’s the Rock part.