Last Autumn’s Dream – Yes

Last_Autumn's_Dream_-_Yes_artwork

Despite the fact that the guys have released 7 albums before this from 2004 onwards, I have only recently discovered the band. Just as they show up on my radar, this latest album pops up in my review inbox.

The band was originally formed by vocalist Mikael Erlandsson and Andy Malecek (Fair Warning). The original version of the band also consisted of 3 members of Europe, who later left when Europe reformed. The band has been through various line-up changes over the years and now consists of Mikael and Andy, along with Jamie Borger (Talisman & Treat) on drums and Nalle Pahlsson (Treat, Zan Clan, Vinditiv & Therion) on bass.

The style of the album is lightweight melodic rock meets AOR. Whilst that may sound retro, they deliver the tracks in a manner which makes the music sound fresh and vibrant. If I tell you that there is a cover of Michael Bolton’s ‘Fool’s Game’ and a Jeff Paris track called ‘Kissin’ Goodbye My Tears’, you will be able to work out where the guys are coming from.

‘I’m Fallin Into You’ is a great up-tempo start that reminds me of early Harem Scarem. You will find yourself wanting to sing along with Mikael’s raspy vocals. In fact, many of the tracks have an instantly familiar feel and greet you like a long lost friend. You will find yourself singing along without realising it. ‘Michelle Don’t Live Here Anymore’ being another prime example.

Second track, ‘The Sound Of A Heartbreak’, has an up-tempo melodic hard rock meets AOR feel and you realise you are in for a very pleasurable listening experience.

The album hits a peak starting with the aforementioned  ‘Michelle Don’t Live Here Anymore’ and the following couple of tracks, ‘In This Thing Too Deep’ has the guys putting in more effort in the song writing department on this glam AOR track. ‘Still Standing Where You Left Me’ is a track that grabs you a few times into listening to the album, making you wonder why it didn’t stand out on previous listens. Throw in a couple of ballads in the form of ‘If I Could Change The World’, ‘Alive’ and the soft rock of ‘Another Night’, and you’ve got an album that should satisfy most fans of melodic rock and AOR.

Rating: 4 stars

Vega – Kiss Of Life

Vega teams up former Kick vocalist, Nick Workman, with songwriting duo Tom & James Martin (HOL, Khymera, Sunstorm etc) and drummer Dan Chantrey, plus adds Dennis Ward (PC69) at the mastering desk.

I’m not that familiar with either Nick or the Martin’s previous efforts, but what I hear on this album is a style which is retro. We are talking keyboard heavy 80s rock meets pop. At times I felt Rick Springfield was a good comparison, along with acts like Balance, Aviator and Harlan Cage. Towards the end of the album a couple of tracks reminded me of Billy Idol. A good production job on the album keeps it sounding fresh, rather than dated.

This is a slick music generation machine, with everyone playing their part well. I found the vocals took me a little while to get used to. At first, I wasn’t sure they matched the music, but they have won me over.

When I was going through rating each song, I found the majority of the tracks got a 4 star rating. The ballads are decent enough, but they seemed to lack the spark of the other songs. However, they don’t detract from the positive impact of songs like “Kiss of Life”, “One Of A Kind” & “Staring At The Sun” where the band create some great keyboard driven AOR with vocals, keyboards and guitars all intertwined marvelleously.

Rating: 4 Stars

www.myspace.com/vegaofficial , www.frontiers.it

Prime Suspect – Prime Suspect

It is not often that I get a pure old style AOR album to review. With Prime Suspect that is definitely the case. In terms of heritage, we’ve got Daniele Liverani, Tommy Ermolli and Dario Ciccioni from Khymera, Olaf Senkbeil from Dreamtide, with Mauro Catellani completing the line-up. On the songwriting front we have got mainly Liverani plus Christian Wolff contributing a couple of songs.

The album is very much an AOR album, but with a bit of Westcoast thrown in to increase the pink and fluffy factor. Khymera are an obvious point of reference, as well as Last Autumn’s Dream.

This is one of the those albums which whenever it comes up in my iPod playlist I think, “Oh, what is playing now, it is good”. Quite a few of the songs on this album, hit a sweet plot for me. For example, the first three songs all got above average ratings from me. Then, the ballad, “I Never Knew”, hits a bit a low point and I find myself getting bored towards the end of this overly long song. Having lost my interest, the album struggles to impress with a batch of songs which I have simply tagged ‘pleasant listening’. Penultimate track, “So Strange”, captures my interest again. The album closes with the Rainbow-ish “Watch Me”.

This is an album on which Prime Suspect show a lot of promise, but somehow don’t quite deliver. It is one of those albums that you think is quite good when you are listening to it, but doesn’t have enough memorable songs to make it anything other than an occassional visitor to your HiFi speakers.

Rating: 3 Stars

www.myspace.com/liverani