Lee Aaron – Diamond Baby Blues

Diamond-Baby-BluesBack in 2011, Lee Aaron made her come back as a Rock artist after years in the shade. A career as a jazz artist and motherhood put her o of the business for many, many years. It took the now 55-year-old, Ontario, Canada born, a few more years to get her shit together and finally release a new album – her first since 2004 – and when she did it wasn’t all ta half covers/half original one.hat great. Now it’s time for a follow-up, a follow-up that’s a half covers / half original one.

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Black Stone Cherry – Family Tree

Two years ago Black Stone Cherry completely floored me with their then new album Kentucky. They kicked me right into next week. Rocked my socks off. Knocked me down for the count. You get my drift. I love that album. And that came as a bit of a surprise. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think that Black Stone Cherry have one bad album in their discography. However, after their brilliant self-titled debut album from 2006 and its even more brilliant follow-up Folklore And Superstition (2008) things have been a bit up and down here and there. Third album Between The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea (2011) was a good album but also a clear shot at trying to become more commercial and getting air-play, something that didn’t suit the band all that well. 2014’s Magic Mountain was a big step up from that but no matter how good that record was, it couldn’t prepare me from the gut-punch that was Kentucky. Last years covers E.P. Black To Blues totally passed me by, probably much because the whole blues cover thang is getting old. Still, Kentucky – and Magic Mountain too – have put the expectations for the new album almost too high.

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Blackberry Smoke – Find a Light

To me, Blackberry Smoke is one of life’s biggest musical mysteries. As a guy who have never ever understood the greatness about Southern Rock, the mighty Blackfoot excluded, the odds didn’t exactly sky-rocket that I would become a fan. To be honest, when the guy who introduced me to the band offered to burn me a copy of their album A Little Piece Of Dixie (2009), I first declined. Why would I bother with Southern Rock, a genre I have never cared for in my life? But he was persistent and burned me a copy anyway, so I put in my player in my car, turned up the volume and by the time I got home, I was a fan. Today, I own all their albums and is happy as a child on Christmas whenever the news of a new Blackberry Smoke album surfaces. I still hold said album and its follow-up The Whipoorwill (2011) as my favorite Smoke-albums even though I really dig all of them. But in all honesty, I haven’t played their two latest efforts Holding All The Roses (2015) and Like An Arrow (2016) as much as the previous two for some reason. That said, I couldn’t wait to sink my teeth into the new one.

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The Dead Daisies – Burn it Down

Everyone who have been following this site must know that I’m a huge fan of The Dead Daisies, a band I more or less tumbled upon five years ago. The band’s brand of Classic Rock and Hard Rock shot straight at my heart and already by second album Revolución (2015) I was hooked. But that they would knock me so off my rocker like they did with 2016’s Make Some Noise was something I hadn’t expected. I gave it a 10/10 without hesitation and that opinion still stands. However, opinions of that album have been mixed both from critics and fans and that is applied to both the band’s previous albums as well. I guess The Dead Daisies aren’t for everyone. As the band started out pretty much a project that didn’t really have a steady line-up except for guitarist David Lowy who formed the band, the line-up has been stable for a few years now and the line-up that toured Revolución and later recorded Make Some Noise really seemed like the one that would take The Dead Daisies to the next level.

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Little Caesar – Eight

The years really go by fast these days. It feels like it was only a year or two since Little Caesar released their latest studio effort American Dream. When I heard the news that the band was on their way with another brand new album, my first thought was “already?”. American Dream came out six years ago, back in 2012. So what has happened since then, then? Well, it’s not like they have been out on a world-wide tour for years and years. Fact is, not very much has happened with the band apart from making it to play the Download Festival in Great Britain in 2013 and releasing a live album in 2015, Brutally Honest Live From Holland, an album I had no idea it existed until just now. Their new album is their sixth studio effort since their now classic self titled debut album from 1990, the debut E.P. Name Your Poison from 1989 excluded and even though none of their albums has managed to top or even equal the debut, every album has been good records with a very fresh and alive feel and I have my suspicions that Little Caesar could be a really entertaining live act.

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Empire – Chasing Shadows

So what have we here? Empire? Ok, I know I have heard the name somewhere. Yes, I know it’s a Queensrÿche album and I know there’s a record company called that but that there is a band named Empire do ring a bell somewhere in the back of my mind as well. As you might have guessed, this a band / project I’m not familiar with at all. Empire were formed in 2000 by German guitarist and drummer Rolf Munkes and Gerald Kloos and British singer Lance King and The King Of Bass, Neil Murray (Whitesnake, Gary Moore, Black Sabbath). In 2003 King left and was replaced by former Sabbath singer Tony Martin who left in 2007 and was replaced by Doogie White (Rainbow, Yngwie Malmsteen, Tank, Michael Schenker). Drummer Kloos left in 2006 and was replaced by André Hilgers. The band also included Deep Purple keyboardsman Don Airey (ex- Gary Moore, Whitesnake, Rainbow, Ozzy) from 2003 – 2007.

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Vandenberg’s Moonkings – MK II

Adrian Vandenberg. It’s impossible to not mention Whitesnake when his name pops up. To me, the “real” Whitesnake existed between 1978-1984, after that Whitesnake felt more like David Coverdale’s solo project and the music changed so much that it didn’t feel like the same band anymore. I really like Whitesnake from 1987 and onwards but the 78-84 versions are superior, in my book. I know that Whitesnake have always had the best of musicians but the amazing groove, the feel, the rootsy rock of the old band just aren’t there anymore. What I’m getting to is that I think that Adrian Vandenberg is the only musician (guitarist) in Whitesnake after 1987 that could have taken a place in the “old” Whitesnake without going arena rock on their rhythm & blues based classic rock that was their brand back then. I also have a feeling that Whitesnake’s Slip of The Tongue would have sounded a lot different had Vandenberg been the major player on that record. To me, Vandenberg is the player that got away – Coverdale should have made sure he stayed put.

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Europe – Walk the Earth

To say that Europe after their reunion is a watershed among their fans is the understatement of the year. Some fans simply adore their more seventies retro inspired hard rock with clear influences by bands such as Deep Purple, Rainbow, Thin Lizzy, UFO and Led Zeppelin while others hate it and only want their more AOR laden melodic rock of the eighties. And of course, there are those who think just the opposite. Me, I am a huge fan of both – I think that Out Of This World (1988) is easily one of the best albums they have ever made, despite the horrible production, but I also think that the trilogy of Last Look At Eden (2009), Bag Of Bones (2012) and War Of Kings (2015) are just as strong. Fact is, I gave their two latest albums the full monty here so I guess I favor their latest style. But with Europe, it’s the best of both worlds, I think. They’re a different beast today but no matter what era you prefer, everything they do comes out sounding only like Europe, which is quite impressive if you ask me.

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Bigfoot – Bigfoot

For fans of Inglorious, RavenEye, Rival Sons, The Treatment and Tyketto, said the press release. I’m a huge fan of two of those bands and two of them I really dig, so they kinda had me there. The band hails from Wigan, England and was formed in 2014. With two successful E.P.’s under the belt – one self-titled and one called Stone Soldiers in 2015 – the guys made an impression on Frontiers records who signed them for the their first full length album. As influences, the band  – singer Anthony Ellis, guitarists Sam Millar and Mick McCullagh, bassist Matt Avery and drummer Tom Aspinall – cites everything from The Eagles to Pantera which, on paper, looks pretty cool, especially if you add the bands mentioned above to that list. Since I have never heard of these guys before, I have no clue of how popular they are, but apparently they have gained a reputation as a great live act after lots of touring and playing lots of festivals like Bloodstock, Hard Rock Hell and Hair Metal Heaven. Since I love to check out new music, especially music that holds a connection style wise to bands I already love, I was pretty keen to sink my teeth into this record – and I must say, after one spin, it sounded really promising. But more spins were needed before the final judgement could fall. So let’s get around to business, shall we?

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Black Country Communion – BCCIV

I remember how excited I got when I first heard the news that Glenn Hughes (Trapeze, Deep Purple, Phenomena, Gary Moore, Black Sabbath) had formed a new supergroup with drummer Jason Bonham (Bonham), keyboard player Derek Sherinian (Dream Theater) and guitarist Joe Bonamassa. I mean, with players like that, what could possibly go wrong? Well, they didn’t – at least not at first. But that said, the band’s self titled debut album from 2010 was something of a disappointment for yours truly. Not that I think it’s a bad album – it’s pretty damn far from bad. It’s just that I had expected more. More of what, one might ask? Well, I just can’t put my finger on it because the album sounded pretty much like I had expected it to so what it comes down to is that I just don’t think the songs were strong enough. There are some really great stuff on it but I think the album is a bit uneven. Already after a year the band had completed and released the follow up Black Country Communion II and with that album, the band was on the right track. The album sounded just like a sequel to the debut, fact is it sounded just like the two albums had been recorded at the same time. The difference between the records to me is that the second album is more even than the debut.

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