LAST AUTUMN’S DREAM – Level Eleven

0003666801.200Last Autumn’s Dream holds the record as the band with the most reviewed albums here on this site, this being the fourth album I review by the band. The reason for this is, of course, that Last Autumn’s Dream releases one album every year which is mostly uncommon these days. Back in the 60’s and 70’s it wasn’t uncommon that bands and artists could release two albums a year and tour them as well. Back then an album could be recorded in the same amount of time it takes for a band to install the software for the pro-tools in their computers today. On the other hand, we get a better sounding product today and the fans actually gets to long for their favourite band to release something new. Back in the 80’s, if you took three years between albums it was called a come back, today no one raises an eyebrow if an artist take six years between releases. That’s why the one year gap between Last Autumn’s Dream’s albums is an eyebrow raiser, especially when you think of the fact that the quality of their music hasn’t suffered at all. Not yet anyway. The reason for this is, of course, that Last Autumn’s Dream is more a project than an actual band. This is a studio project that doesn’t tour or even play live at all. With no touring, the members can concentrate on writing songs and they have usually started the song writing for their next release already when they release their new product. That gives the members time to write songs and work on their other projects and bands at the same time. This is both a blessing and a curse. To get a new album every year by a band you like is great and fun, but at the same time, with all the great music available – 2014 was, for example, a year that spawned more great releases than in a long, long, long time – which makes it tough to listen in on everything. Fact is, I have just started to really know Last Autumn’s Dream last album Ten Tangerine Tales (2013) when I have to sink my teeth into their new one. The reason for this is that there has been so many great albums to digest last year. However, to get my hands on a new LAD album has always been a pleasure for me – they know their AOR and they make it the way I love it and hopefully this will be the case this time.

The only time I have been a bit disappointed in this band was with Nine Lives (2012). Not because the songs were bad – they weren’t – but because I found the sound and the production too slick. I love AOR, but when it turns west-coast, it gets to slippery for me. Give me the pink and fluffy, but please don’t hold back on the guitars and drums. I like my AOR with a bite and some crunch. That was taken care of with Ten Tangerine Tales, clearly their finest moment together with 2008’s Yes and I hoped that they went even further down the heavier path with their new album. Opener “Kiss Me” sure fulfilled those hopes. A killer rocker with a big Sweet influence where both the guitars and Mikael Erlandsson’s vocals are more melodic hard rock than AOR. This is what I want – more of this please. “Follow Your Heart” follows and the song is more traditional AOR, but what a song! This is how you make an AOR hit. The chorus really floored me. “Fight The World” is a power ballad, really emotional and heartfelt – great stuff. We get a cover of Talisman’s half ballad “I’ll B There 4 U” from their most forgotten, but underrated album Truth (1998) – which actually means that drummer Jamie Borger has now made a cover of his own song… – and this song fits LAD like a glove. I always liked the song, but found it a bit too AOR for a band like Talisman and here it comes out like I think it should. Guys, this is a good idea, there are more Talisman songs that would suite the LAD costume perfectly, like “Sorry” and “Shed A Tear Goodbye”. They go back to the more rock of things with the extremely catchy “Losing You” and it gets even more rocked out “Go Go Go – Get Ready For The Show”, that is even more in raunchy rock ‘n’ roll vibe. Songs like that makes you wish for a live appearance from the band. “Delirious” is more of what you can expect from LAD with a chorus catchy as hell and “Star” is awesome with more hooks than a fisherman’s hat and a Van Halen – ish guitar melody that makes it stand out a bit. If you get the Japanese version you’ll get a cover The Beatles “Oh Darling” (Abbey Road, 1969) and they do make a great one, I must say. To do a Beatles cover isn’t the easiest thing in the world and it’s better when you twist it a bit instead of playing it like the original. LAD does it both ways. They have kept the core of the song and added a bit of a jazzy vibe with a 50’s ballad style mixed with a twist of AOR. I really, really like it. Erlandsson really nails it vocally as well. The hidden track here goes under the name of “Ja, Men Det Var Väl Roligt” (Yeah, This Was Kinda Fun) and is nothing more than the guys fucking about with some Sweet stuff (“Man With The Golden Arm” and “Set Me Free”). The Deluxe edition contains a bonus CD with four acoustic tracks, all taken from their Yes album. Cool, if you’re a hardcore fan, but otherwise it’s not something you can’t do without.

If you’re into Last Autumn’s Dream, this album is a must, of course. If you’re into AOR, but I haven’t heard LAD yet, I strongly advice you to change that. If this is the album you should start with, I can’t tell, but I do know that it should be in every AOR and melodic rock fan’s record collection. The line-up of Erlandsson, Borger, bass player Nalley Påhlsson is still intact, but this time, German guitar player Andy Malecek (Fair Warning) had to bow out and is being replaced by Peter “Pac” Söderström, a guy who has been in the LAD camp a few years now, laying additional rhythm guitars on their albums. Which leads me to the touring bit once again. It’s a thing I keep on pestering about in my all my LAD reviews because I really would like to see this band perform live somewhere in time. Now that the project has an all Swedish line-up, a live gig or two shouldn’t be that hard to make happen – hallo Sweden Rock Festival! Anyway, my guess is that a new LAD record is already in the making, but as for now I advise all melodic rock fans to give this a go. This is a band way too good to keep in the underground.

Jon Wilmenius (8/10)

Tracklist:

01. Kiss Me
02. Follow Your Heart
03. Fight The World
04. I’ll Be There 4 U
05. Losing You
06. Go Go Go – Get Ready Fo The Show!
07. Delirious
08. Made Of Stone
09. Stick Around
10. Star
11. PLZ
12. Oh Darlin’(Japanese Bonus Track)
13. Hidden Track (Ja, Men Det Var Väl Roligt)

Bonus Disc:

01. Another Night (Acoustic Version)
02. I’ve Fallen Into You (Acoustic Version)
03. Michelle Don’t Live Here No More (Acoustic Version)
04. To Be With You (Acoustic Version)

 

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