Mark Spiro – 2+2=5: Best of +Rarities

I mentioned yesterday that I loved Mark’s westcoast albums. No sooner had I found out that Mark was involved in the new HOL album than Frontiers announce a best of album spanning 1996 to 2012. Also include is a CD of unreleased tracks.

House Of Lords–New World–New Eyes

House of Lords have a new album, their 10th, due soon. The video for “Chemical Rush” is below. At one stage in the past the release of  a new HOL album would have a major event for me, but my interest is waning and I don’t remember that much about their previous album. What did catch my attention with this album is that Mark Spiro is involved. That name is a blast from the past. I loved his westcoast style albums.

McStine & Minnemann–S/T

McStine & Minnemann is a collaboration between Randy McStine and Marco Minnemann (The Aristocrats). The music is described as a mix of XTC, Mr Bungle, The Knack, Queen and Frank Zappa. The first single is called “Program”:

Kansas – The Absence of Presence

Memories Down The Line is the new song from Kansas, taken from their forthcoming album called The Absence of Presence. It is not often that a slower track makes as the featured video in mood swings news stories. This one seems to just ooze class. Kansas are a band that I have been aware of, but haven’t paid that much attention to over the years.

Gathering Of Kings–Discovery

A couple of weeks ago I briefly dropped into the online listening party for this. What I heard sounded good. I was more than impressed by their first album. I think this new one isn’t going to disappoint.

Here they are performing one of the new tracks:

Moon Halo–Chroma

This album popped up in my recommendations on Spotify and music like the Intelligent Music Project album I mentioned previously I was expecting an ambient instrumental based on the cover. Instead this turned out to be a delightful and diverse set of progressive tracks  that kept me engaged throughout. The band is a collaboration between Marc Atkinson of Riversea and Iain Jennings of Most Autumn. This is progressive rock light, with elements of pop, electronica, blues, funk and classic rock. There is a refreshing calmness to the music.

Hideaway – Hideaway

One of my favourite past time is to do some Spotify surfing to find new music. Having found my way to rediscover Bad Habit, as featured in yesterday’s post, Spotify’s “Fans also like” section for the band included a band called Hideaway. As I was convinced I had never heard of them before, I started streaming their debut album to be greeted by some great melodic AOR/hard rock. Of course, whilst I was listening I did a little research. It wasn’t until I read a review of the album at Dangerdog and got to the  end of the review where it mentioned that the singer on the album had been replaced by a female singer for gigs that I remembered reading that review before! I really do need to develop my melodic rock notes idea a bit further so that I can keep track of all the bands and artists that I listen to.

Bad Habit–Back to Life

Bad Habit are another band that dropped my radar. I remember being rather impressed by their Adult Orientation album, which was way back in 1998. I don’t remember anything after that and I honestly thought they had disbanded. In fact, it turns out they are still going. I’m not sure if there were a few gaps along the way, but they have a new single called “Back to Life” which might suggest they they faded into the background since their last album which it seems was back in 2011. The track indicate they are pursing a heavier direction this time around. Still catchy, but we’ll have to wait and see what the album holds to discover if the single is typical of 2020 Bad Habit.

Black Swan–Shake The World

Frontiers are always trying to feed us a diet of musical collaborations with a variable success rate. This time we have Robin McAuley (MSG), Jeff Pilson (Dokken), Reb Beach (Winger, Whitesnake) and Matt Starr (Mr Big) coming together for another ‘super-group’. My expectations weren’t that high and the first and title track did more gentle prodding rather then shaking for me. However, ‘Big Disaster’ is a great track with a big hook. Very few tracks get into my head these days, but Big Disaster has managed it. I hear Pull era Winger in the rest of the album, which is no bad thing.

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Rick Springfield & Friends–The Wall Will Fall

I’ve been kept entertained during lockdown by Rick Springfield and his Facebook videos. First there there was the “No Human Touch” jam followed by the “Play Jessie’s Girl in 60 seconds” series. Now the Rick Springfield and Vance DeGeneres’s “Ultimate Mini-Series: The 60-Second Guide to Songwriting with a Partner” has led to this charity single below:

Frank Vestry–My Collection

Frank Vestry is not a name that I’m familiar with. Frank has been vocalist in acts such as Last Temptation, Marcello/Vestry and Landslide. The is collection of selected from all his past projects. I’ve only had a quick listen so far, but it seems that despite being from various projects, they sit quite well in a single album. The style is AOR and melodic rock, with a bit of 80s or 90s retro vibe. Enjoyable listening.

Whoosh! A new Purple album

I haven’t really paid much attention to Purple for quite a few years. However, watching David Coverdale doing his lockdown “songs from the dining room table” thing on Facebook recently brought them back on my radar and I signed up for their newsletter. Shortly after signing up an email arrived saying Purple had a new single from their upcoming “Whoosh” album. Man Alive is the second single and I was originally going to post that it surprised me as it didn’t sound like Purple, but listening to it again it does. But there are progressive such elements that I don’t expect from Purple – quiet orchestral beginning, Sci-Fi video, spoken word sections and very environmentally friendly lyrics.

Compass–Our Time on Earth

Steve Newman is best known as the main man in Newman. I have listened to a couple of their albums, but nothing has really stuck with me. In fact, they released their Ignition album earlier this year. However it seems Steve is seeking to expand his musical horizons on this Compass album. It sees Steve expanding into progressive territory, citing influences such as Dream Theater, Saga, Rush, It Bites and Pink Floyd. I would say the music is a blend of melodic hard rock and progressive rock. It is impossible to listen even anything even vaguely in progressive metal genre and not hear Dream Theater. I also heard Saga a couple of times and I always think of them as being progressive AOR. Hopefully that gives a flavour of where the album is coming from. I have gone back to this a couple of time since the first listen, so it is definitely sticking more than the Newman material has in the past.

Nightwish–Human :II: Nature

So the mighty Nightwish release a new album. if you are bored of looking at various vocal coaches etc reacting to their performance of “Ghost Love Story” at Wacken, the band have some new music for you to listen to. It isn’t all what you would expect. For example, the track below and a symphonic instrumental second half.  Not something that I listen to all the time, but you can’t deny that Floor is a great singer.

The Hu team up with Izzy Hale

The Hu have been charming everyone and appearing in some strange places such as BBC Radio 4. Despite singing in their native Mongolian, there is something about their music that really seems to grab at your emotions. They have already done one collaboration with Jacoby Shaddix (Papa Roach), their new one is with Izzy Hale from Halestorm. I played the studio version below and to be honest after a couple of minutes I thought that I preferred the original. Whilst I was watching the video I browsed the comments and noticed someone say what a special moment it was when they saw the live performance a few months ago. I also noticed someone say that there was video of that performance floating around in YouTube. So I checked out the live version and it is pretty amazing. Make your own mind up.

Mike Tramp–Second Time Around

Mike Tramp has been carving out quite a successful solo career for himself with his brand of Americana. He has a new album out called Second Time Around which in a trailer he said reflected that some the songs have been around for a while and were finally making into onto an album. From this first track available from the album it sounds like he is sticking to a tried and trusted sound. His albums are always worth a listen.

Harem Scarem–Change the World

Well, if I’m going to kick Mood Swings back to life, I’ve got to mention the guys that were the inspiration behind the website’s name……

It happen earlier in the year whilst Mood Swings was on hiatus, but Harem Scarem released another studio album called Change the World. Another short one, very similar to their past few albums. If you haven’t heard them before it will blow your brains – short, sharp and very melodic. These guys consistently produce high quality albums. They are like a machine. Better than their last album? Possibly?