REVIEWS

Album Review: Duff McKagan ‘Tenderness’

Reviewed by Alex Alicia Media

For The Midlands Rocks
Released by Universal Music Enterprises31 May 2019

Channelling all of his hurt, emotions and love from decades of life on the road, Guns N’ Roses bassist, Duff McKagan, brings us his third solo album, produced in a totally unexpected new musical direction by behind the scenes country star, Shooter Jennings.

Tenderness is an apparent combination of McKagan’s struggles with rock n’ roll, facing the death of his close friend and former Velvet Revolver bandmate, the late, great Scott Weiland and heartbreak.

Lyrically, this album speaks volumes as Duff appears to be a much more mature artist, whilst still allowing us to hear some of that punk edge we all know and love. Much like in the ending of standout track ‘Last September’ which starts out quaint and soft, despite the contrast of the lyrical content, then building nicely into a raspier vocal from McKagan suggesting a growing rage as he tries to come to terms with his musical past right in front of us.

This somewhat sad and emotional new release was the first since his recent GN’R comeback and is a total change of tune from his usual glam metal/hard rock comparison. This time McKagan fans get to know a softer side to the bassist through country and folk inspired tracks. Featuring; soft twangs of acoustic guitars, pedal steel, a saxophone solo featured in ‘Don’t Look behind you’ and subtle heart like drum beats accompanied with beautiful word play throughout. Tenderness has a natural progression, starting with the softer and less offensive tunes followed by the looming path of darkness and hate, well written in an equally quirky and catchy way.

Track, Breaking Rocks, is brilliantly country! Whilst ‘Wasted Heart’ is a closer look at Duff’s capabilities to create an AOR ballad much like ‘Patience’ from the GN’R Lies days.

Duff bares all in this cool new album and uses it to explore himself before his friends, family and fans. This album, in tandem with the modern music of today, could mean that we have reached a pinnacle turning point in rock. With this new release, McKagan, intentional or not, brings the rock world into a new era of current singer/songwriters and modernises the country rock scene.

It goes without saying, this isn’t an album that McKagan wanted to write this is an album he most certainly had to write.

7 out of 10

Reviewed by Alex Alicia Media

Track List:

  1. Tenderness
  2. It’s Not Too Late
  3. Wasted Heart
  4. Falling Down
  5. Last September
  6. Chip Away
  7. Cold Outside
  8. Feel
  9. Breaking Rocks
  10. Parkland
  11. Don’t Look Behind You

Album Review: Whitesnake – Flesh and Blood

Written by Alex Alicia Media

For The Midlands Rocks

Hard rock at its finest! Following on from the critically acclaimed album Forevermore by our much loved snake crew, Whitesnake bring us their highly anticipated new release, Flesh and Blood. Accompanied with a pounding rhythm section, snarly vocals and the ever always impressive string bending from Joel Hoekstra and Reb Beach, who joined the boys back in 2002.

This album, in tandem with Coverdale’s previous releases, tells us once again the much loved tale of sex, love, women, good times, deadly sins and more. Whitesnake are true artists and much like their latest references to kings and queens, they’re certainly still on top as rock royalty.

Title track ‘Flesh and Blood’ is a strong song and worthy of carrying these new tunes throughout the ages. I think it’s fair to say that each time a track ends and another begins, we’re hit by so many turbulent emotions. Much like, ‘Well I Never’ which starts off slow and builds really nicely with a repetitive chant – Motley Crue style but less anthem-y, accompanied with heavy drum beats and a slick solo, which practically makes that guitar wail – it’s so good.

‘Shut up and Kiss Me’ is fun-loving and rhythmic and ensures we get that eighties rock vibe we all know and love and for that, I guess it’s not hard to see why it was their first single choice. Accompanied with a good time video, Coverdale in a car and girls.

In their latest musical venture, I was really happy to hear that there was a variety of heavier vibes for the ‘moshers’ too, something I have to admit, I wasn’t expecting, but tracks such as ‘Hey You (You Make Me Rock)’ ‘Trouble is your Middle Name’ and ‘Good to See You Again’ are all advocates of that.

We have all heard the bluesy inspired hard rock, mixed with somewhat cheesy lyrics much before and I would say that if the Whitesnake gang were to release a fourteenth studio album then I’d personally love to hear something a little less samey. Having been present at their set for Download Festival this year, the heavier tracks went down a storm with the audience which is always a diverse mix in age and musical preference. Not to mention the fact that the harder rock songs work much better with Coverdale’s current vocal range. But the famous saying exists and I guess ‘if it’s not broke, don’t fix it’ but there’s always room for growth in any band, no matter how successful.

This album proves that Whitesnake still have the ability to modernise the eighties rock scene but most of all bring us music fans one hell of a show with a now even stronger set list!

Hard core snake fans will certainly appreciate this new record and if you’re not one of those people, give it a listen and see if it can convert you.

9 out of 10

Released by Frontiers Music Srl, May 10 2019

Track List:

  1. Good To See You Again
  2. Gonna Be Alright
  3. Shut Up & Kiss Me
  4. Hey You (You Make Me Rock)
  5. Always & Forever
  6. When I Think Of You (Color Me Blue)
  7. Trouble Is Your Middle Name
  8. Flesh & Blood
  9. Well I Never
  10. Heart Of Stone
  11. Get Up
  12. After All
  13. Sands Of Time

Bonus tracks on the CD+DVD version:

  1. Cant Do Right For Doing Wrong (Bonus Track)
  2. If I Cant Have You (Bonus Track)

 

Album Review: Crazy Lixx

‘Forever Wild’

By Alex Alicia Media
As reviewed for The Midlands Rocks

The eighties rock scene certainly ain’t dead as Swedish hard rockers, ‘Crazy Lixx’, bring us their new album ‘Forever Wild’, complete with choruses that resonate with the listener, great hooks, chugging riffs and a massive production.

Exploring a wide range of rock sounds, and kicking the album off with a powerhouse vocal and raunchy lyrics in song ‘Wicked’, I was immediately intrigued. This band are up there with the likes of AOR legends, ‘Journey’‘Thunder’ and ‘FM’. But how many more of the same AOR legends do we need? As a fan of the hard rock genre, I wanted to hear something totally new from these guys, with maybe a hint of inspiration from the aforementioned bands like ‘Journey’ but unfortunately this is a very copy-cat album.

Fifth track ‘Eagle’ is probably the most profound and focuses more on a melodic, ballad sound with a ‘Whitesnake’ ‘Still of the Night’ breakdown on guitar and slick drum vibrations.

I can hear songs like ‘Silent Thunder’ and ballad ‘Love Don’t Live Here Anymore’ on a cheesy rock soundtrack for a film like ‘Rock of Ages’ but nothing more. For me, they’re not festival headliners in the making. I often wonder who will be the next big thing after all of our current known rockstars are gone. The introduction to ‘Terminal Velocity’ literally sounds like ‘Bon Jovi’s’‘Lay your Hands on Me’ and for a second I thought I was listening to the wrong band. In a case like this when you’ve heard it all before, you might as well listen to the band that others are trying to mimic.

The clichés of this rock genre are still yet to be broken and although not bursting with originality, I can’t deny that this album is rhythmic and infectious.

Forever Wild’ has a good collection of rock songs but it didn’t blow me away.

Reviewed by Alex Alicia Media

Released by Frontiers Music Srl, 17 May 2019

Track list:

  1. Wicked
  2. Break Out
  3. Silent Thunder
  4. (She’s Wearing) Yesterday’s Face
  5. Eagle
  6. Terminal Velocity
  7. It’s You
  8. Love Don’t Live Here Anymore
  9. Weekend Lover
  10. Never Die (Forever Wild)

 

 

Album Review: L.A. Guns

‘The Devil You Know’

Reviewed for The Midlands Rocks

For a hard rock band from LA, a place heavily known for sleaze and hair metal bands from the likes of Motley Crue, it’s easy to fall into that category and continue to keep living in the 80’s. But with music and times changing, it’s nice to see a band evolve a little and with that being said, I’m really diggin’ the punk vibes from the Gunners!

Currently made up of members; Phil Lewis, Tracii Guns, Adam Hamilton, Johnny Martin and Shane Fitzgibbon, L.A. Guns are back, two years after their release of ‘The Missing Peace’, with a brand new album, ‘The Devil You Know’.

Opening track, ‘Rage’, is musically brilliant however I’m not a fan of the lyrical work and wasn’t hooked from the offset. It’s a shame really as I was expecting immensity from the start.

Then onto track two, ironically titled ‘Stay Away’ and I may do just that.

Title track ‘The Devil You Know’, is a good song with a brilliant backline but it certainly doesn’t come with an equally brilliant video, or album cover for that matter, which I think has been designed poorly and doesn’t look that rock n’ roll at all.

Luckily, there’s a saviour and a reason as to why I said at the beginning that I was ‘diggin’ the punky vibes’, as along came ‘Needle to the Bone’ with an energetic, sleazy, memorable and classic L.A. Guns sound also with a great hook, varying speeds and a slick, cool as a cucumber guitar solo. Bravo boys!

Hats off to frontman ‘Phil’ as even at 62 years young, he’s still sounding very much like he did in the early Guns days with a solid performance throughout. Another star performance to acknowledge is that of ‘Tracii Guns’, who’s dirty lead guitar solos make for a much underrated lead guitarist.

Taking an apparent influence from Led Zeppelin’s riffs, this angst ridden album does have some excellent tunes but the quality could be even finer if it wasn’t for such a poor technical mix.

Not to dwell too much on the negatives, as I continued to listen I thought that the definite stand out track would’ve been the previously mentioned, ‘Needle to the Bone’, but then I heard track no. 10 and WOW! I’m a sucker for a great melodic guitar driven tune, and this one certainly leapt out and hit me straight between the eyes. ‘Another Season in Hell’ is the epitome of great musicianship, accompanied with a positive face scrunching solo and raspy vocals.

Unfortunately though, I wasn’t too keen on the end bonus track ‘Boom’ and I feel like they should’ve left that one floating around in the atmosphere. But if you’re into that chanty, fast paced rock song with easy to learn lyrics, then I guess it could be classed as a bonus, who knows?! However, L.A. Guns are back and they clearly have something to say, so if you’re a long time Guns fan, this album is a must for you.

Alex Alicia Media 6/10

 

 

Album Review: FM

‘Heroes and Villains’

Reviewed for The Midlands Rocks 

Just when you think UK Rockers FM couldn’t get any better they hit us with another melodic masterpiece. Their new album entitled Heroes and Villains has it all. From the slender tones of Overland’s golden voice alongside the ever great guitar riffs, solos and catchy drum beats. Start to finish I can guarantee every song featured on this album will have you rockin’.

Staying nothing but true to their roots, this is another classic FM album. Stand out tracks being the somewhat similar Def Leppard sounding ‘You’re the best thing about me’ and the slower but much needed and expected ballad ‘Incredible’. Each with meaningful lyrics and epic sound it’s apparent from the first listen of this album that it will be one to watch out for.

Heroes and Villains has proved itself in my opinion to be some of FM’s best work to date. Finishing with another ballad ‘Walking with Angels’ and doing what FM do best this song has a beautiful acoustic sound and allows Steve Overland’s vocals to be brilliantly exposed throughout. Performances and all, this band never seems to disappoint. With a killer rhythm section and the subtle addition of Jem’s Keyboard skills, this time around FM have managed to create an album that can not only be referred to as melodic but also a new avenue of classic rock.

It’s obvious why FM never feel the need to rush a release but instead opt to make it the best it can be, really catering for fans and also making sure everything is worthy of the rock scene. These boys are smashing it once again and it’s great to see. Fans can be very pleased with the outcome as another FM gem is coming their way shortly.

Alex Alicia Media 9/10