Thursday, 8 May 2014

Change Of Address

Hi All,

This website was been moved, click here to get to the current web address. If you should stumble upon this site (as a lot of my posts are still linked up to this site) please be aware that very few new posts will be posted on this site and more will be posted at the new web address.

Your interest is greatly appreciated, thank you
Rock Review Phil

Saturday, 3 May 2014

Steel Panther "All You Can Eat"

Steel Panther have gained quite a bit of notoriety in the past five or so years. I think it’s great; I still remember finding out about them through YouTube videos before they released their first album Feel the Steel. My favourite video is of them with Bon Jovi keyboardist David Bryan playing Runaway. But their real international notoriety has come from their shtick of being a modern 80s hair metal band musically with the most vulgar lyrics you could possibly think of.

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Good Knives "A Place Called Doubt"

There’s more to Good Knives than just your average hard rock band. Their latest album A Place Called Doubt would show anyone that while there is a definite classic rock influence to their sound, they have no intentions of sounding like anyone but themselves. The reason I find this very apparent is in the bands singing. Singer Shaunny P does have a familiar sounding voice, reminding me of Joel O’Keefe from Airbourne (one of my least favourite modern rock bands thanks to their complete unoriginal sound). However, unlike Joel, Shaunny doesn’t seem to want to sing in front of an AC/DC rip-off, but rather a band making original sounding material making his vocal capabilities shine that much brighter.

Saturday, 26 April 2014

Divot "To Shape The Mold"

Do you remember around the early 2000’s or so how many alternative bands seemed to come out, not all exactly sounding the same but having similarities such as their slow and heavy tunes, not so happy lyrics and kind of a neo-grunge attitude? Bands that come to mind are Three Days Grace, Deftones, Shinedown, Breaking Benjamin, etc. This is the kind of alternative rock sound I think anyone would use to describe Divot’s sound.

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Steel Threads "For Those Who Are Left"

One type of music I haven’t reviewed yet (because up to this point I’ve never been given any of it) is folk rock. My interest in folk rock stems more toward the more edgy stuff from the classic rock days; Crosby, Stills and Nash, Neil Young (with or without CSN,) Joni Mitchell¸ all that good stuff. I do however enjoy bands that play a more prominently traditional folk, perhaps bands with a bit of a pop fusion mixed in such as The Strumbellas, a Canadian band that was brought to my attention in early February, and then there is of course Mumford & Sons. Love them or hate them, I respect people’s opinions on them, I am a fan. I saw them live late last summer and thoroughly enjoyed their show, and I do think they are quite unique. But this article is about a very different traditional folk rock band, Steel Threads.

Saturday, 19 April 2014

The Colourist "The Colourist"

I guess it’s kind of obvious, but when I review an album that I bought myself, not one that I was given for review, it is because it’s an album that I like and therefore the review will nine times out of ten be a positive review. I don’t have the money to just go out and buy random albums for the sake of reviewing them, though I really wish I did. I did this recently with my review of Ume. I have to admit that this album, The Colourist; the self-titled debut album by the California four-piece indie pop rock band, is one of those albums. I came across it on the day of its release, listening to samples of the songs and I really felt it was something that I could get in to. Luckily I was right.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

The Lad Classic "Thunder"

The first time I’d heard of Toronto hard rock band The Lad Classic was probably close to a year ago when they followed me on Twitter. I always listen to the independent bands that follow me before following back. At the time they just had an all acoustic EP called Lightning, something I normally don’t find to be a good idea in terms of sampling music if a band is also an electric band, but I really heard something in that acoustic EP that I thought it would be a good idea to follow them. Then every now and then I’d see their name pop up playing live shows around Toronto, more so than practically any other independent band I’ve come across, which made me realize that The Lad Classic are a bigger deal than I estimated.

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Mark Stone and the Dirty Country Band "The Sequel"

So this is going to be a unique review. Hard country rock band Mark Stone and the Dirty Country Band is about to release their second album - simply called The Sequel - sometime in June and if you pre-order the album, you get six tracks immediately, then when the album is released, those who pre-ordered the album get the other four tracks that will complete the album PLUS two bonus tracks exclusively to those who pre-ordered the album (so 12 tracks altogether.) The thing that makes this, what will be a review of The Sequel, so unique is that the second half of the album is so top secret that Mark Stone would only give me the first six tracks from the album (the six tracks you immediately get when pre-ordering the album.)

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Hollywood Sins "Hollywood Sins"

Hollywood Sins market themselves as “nostalgic with a modern edge,” as do a lot of bands as of late. After listening to their self titled seven-song EP I can see what they mean, but I wouldn’t call it classic rock nostalgia, well maybe some glam metal. They do have an interesting mixture of hard sleaze rock meets Papa Roach-esque alternative rock (later Papa Roach, not the rap-rock Papa Roach) which I find to be a unique combination.

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Ume "Monuments"

 It was in a recent Guitar World issue - the one that counted the top 50 Eric Clapton moments - that featured a small article on Texas rock band Ume. It was then that I was first gained knowledge that such a band existed, and to top it all off they were mere weeks away from releasing their album Monuments. I checked them out right away; their song Black Stone was not hard to find on YouTube, and I knew immediately that this was going to be big.

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Rynheart "Rynheart"

Toronto hard rock band Rynheart wear their influences on their sleeves, as have a lot of bands I’ve written about. That, of course, is never truly a bad thing. Another of the independent bands who seemed to grow up fans of 80s hard rock, it isn’t hard to hear the balls of Guns N’ Roses infused with the sleaze of Poison on this four track self titled EP that I was given by them. I mean who doesn’t like a good hard rock song that can shake the ground under your feet?

Saturday, 29 March 2014

Albatross "Happenstance"

I do love a good blues rock tune. It’s something I’ve made quite clear in previous articles. Both as a listener and as a guitar player it is one of my go-to types of music to go to. It is a type of music that I find really shows the true emotion behind the instruments played, and as per usual, the more genuine emotion put in to a song (by the guitarist, the singer, whomever) the better. I was happy when Albatross gave me their EP Happenstance for review, as I feel they have a good grasp on the blues rock genre.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Step Echo "Songs for the Broken"

In the year and a bit that I’ve been reviewing albums, I’ve got my hands on quite a few independent albums by bands from all over the world. Hell, since mid January, all but one album I’ve reviewed have been recorded by independent bands. It’s refreshing to have finally been given the follow up album to one of these bands for review. Last May I write about St. Catherine’s Step Echo and their album Jagged, an album that I was impressed with as well as a few other people that I’ve played the album for. Now I feel privileged that their independent record label Red Dragon Records felt comfortable sending me Songs for the Broken.

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Social Strife "Social Strife"

I’ve done over a hundred of these now so it’s getting hard to find clever ways to introduce my articles. It’s frustrating really, I enjoy my rants, sometimes relevant, sometimes not so much, but after thinking about it for days, I just can’t find one this time. It’s unfortunate because Toronto hard rock band Social Strife really do deserve a good introduction to their featured article on my site for their five-track self titled EP which is nothing short of a classic hard rock sound that can stand pretty tall in today’s rock music.

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

The Mouth of Ghosts "You Will Go Again From Me"

I always love getting albums/EPs by unique bands. Some bands are unique because they are hard to categorize, others are unique because they aren’t in the realm of bands I’d usually review: not out of disinterest but merely because I’m typically sent hard rock/metal albums, while my taste in rock music does go far beyond that limit. London’s The Mouth of Ghosts doesn’t really fit under one specific categorization. If anything, they’d be classified as one of the many alternative bands out there, but there is no rock genre more diverse than alternative. There are also surprising progressive elements to their music, as well as the odd pop moment. They call themselves “trip-hop,” I never knew what that was until reading that, but upon looking the genre up, their new EP You Will Go Again From Me is NOT remotely anything close to “trip-hop.”

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Our Last Enemy "Pariah"

 
I can never deny the brilliance behind the concept of progressive music. Recently I wrote an article on an Italian band by the name of Il Rumore Bianco and how I enjoyed their style of classic progressive rock that carried much influence from bands such as Yes and King Crimson that really impressed me. The phenomenon of Progressive metal though has always been different from progressive rock. There are so many different kinds of progressive metal bands, just like there are so many different kinds of progressive rock bands. There isn’t one simple way that a band can be called progressive. I mean Supertramp are rightfully classified as a progressive rock band thanks to their inclusion of wind instruments and their unique song writing skills that were practically unheard of at the time.

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Turk Tresize "Soul Casino"

Artists like Australia’s TurkTresize are unique. At least as of lately they are. While there are a few artists that heavily wear their blues influence on their sleeve, Turk is different. With his mixture of some blues, some country, some soul and add in some total badass song writing, his appropriately titled album Soul Casino provides some excellence in originality and a fearlessness to step outside of the box.

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Greg McEvoy "Sea Of Yards"

About a month ago, my cousin asked me if I was interested in catching a band that she enjoys at a bar in downtown Toronto close to where she lives. The band was recently Juno nominated folk group Strumbellas, whom I had never heard of before that point, but the ticket was cost me nothing and I trust this cousin’s taste in music, plus she needed someone to go with so I figured I’d come to the rescue, and I ended up having a hell of a night at this sold out show in a small bar on a snowy night. Not only did I discover the uniqueness that is Strumbellas music/live performance, but I also had the pleasure of discovering two other local artists who opened for them that night; one of them being the country rock infused Sarah Cripps and the other being soft indie rocker Greg McEvoy. I thoroughly enjoyed all three artists and was pleased to have left with albums by all three.

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Wildheart "Gypsy Soul"

When Toronto hard rock band Wildheart gave me their EP Gypsy Soul for review, I’ll admit that the first thing I did was judge them on appearance, before giving them one listen. I thought to myself they’re just another band trying to look and play the part of an 80s band, whose real talent in performing and writing are oblivious to their attempt revive a musical genre by only its clichés. Luckily I was wrong.

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Anyone's Guess "March in the Dark - Chapter 1"

It’s been a while since I’ve been given a good alternative rock album. I almost forgot how much I enjoy the genre. Being one to indulge in so many different kinds of rock, I usually have to find my way back to certain genres every now and then, though I never stay away from any genre for too long. Sometimes it takes a good song or album to do that. In this case it was Florida alternative trio Anyone’s Guess whose EP March In The Dark – Chapter 1 brought me back to my love of slightly damaged sounding well written music and transgressive lyrics.

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

A Breach of Silence "Dead or Alive"

I feel as though I’ve started off so many articles saying this but “screaming” in music is something I don’t enjoy. I mean, especially in punk/pop-punk/anything remotely related to modern punk with screaming is just so bland. There are exceptions when it comes to metal related screaming though, but only some. I look at screaming in metal the same way people in the early 90’s looked at the high-pitched voices of what 80’s “hair” metal became, it all sounds the same, which is why I downright dislike bands whose sole vocal performance on every to almost every song involves nothing but screaming. It’s good to listen to when a little anger is needed to be offset, but that’s about it. Bands like, off the top of my head, All That Remains who, even in their heaviest days, combined screaming vocals with clean vocals fairly evenly and feature no real punk elements, so they can still retain my attention. Australia’s ABreach of Silence also fit under this category.

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Red Dragon Cartel "Red Dragon Cartel"

It took me a little longer than I’d like to admit to truly appreciate Jake E. Lee. He is known prominently as one of Ozzy Osbourne’s most popular guitarists, having played on his immortal Bark At The Moon album, but it wasn’t until I first heard Shot In The Dark from his second album with Ozzy, The Ultimate Sin, when I first truly discovered who this man was. I was in my early years of high school by this time. It was a little bit after then that I discovered Badlands; the other band Jake is well known for. However, despite having found out of his existence, I still didn’t truly have a grasp on how significant Jake E. Lee is as a guitar player. Just before graduation, I got my hands on a copy of The Ultimate Sin and was blown away. To this day it remains my favourite Ozzy album, completely because of Jake E. Lee’s ability to bring the best out of Ozzy Osbourne as a singer.

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Blowsight "Life & Death"

If there is one thing I enjoy, it’s being given an album by a band that is as hard to classify as Sweden’s Blowsight. Any band that can manage to put out an album of thirteen songs such as their album Life & Death (fourteen tracks including the bonus track) and have just about every song sound different from the other is not an easy task. I couldn’t properly decide on a true genre for the band; I mean they are definitely alternative metal, or alternative punk, but they feature elements of pop and show other surprises the more you listen to them.

Saturday, 8 February 2014

Skrou "Skrou"

It’s very obvious, after listening to the band Skrou, how much influence the band takes from the 80’s. A time when rock songs were big and hair metal reigned supreme. Before grunge came and changed music (you can argue for better or worse, but that isn’t the point of this article) it was more common for rock bands to have fun and sound like they were having fun. It kind of trailed into pop metal, or glam metal, with acts like Autograph or Vixen adding in a lot of keyboards to their already pop-oriented rock hooks. Before this, though, with bands like Ratt in their earliest days and Mötley Crüe, to name a few, recorded a lot of songs, though most were centred on partying and sex, which would eventually become a complete cliché. Despite the lyrics, the songs were always big; I mean layered guitars, over emphasized drums: big. And I feel this is all what Skrou are trying to encompass.

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

decoded "Topanga"

When decoded leader Derek Jordan first emailed me to listen to Topanga, his bands new EP, he made it a point to mention that Dead Sara were a major influence on their sound. That is an intriguing statement to make, as I find Dead Sara to be easily one of modern rocks most all around talented band, possibly the most talented band to have debuted this decade. After having listened to the six-track EP, I could kind of see what he meant.

Saturday, 1 February 2014

Fake Figures "They Must Be Destroyed"

In a time when heavy punk music is unfortunately turning out far too many whiny sung pop induced outfits, one must wonder what happened to not long ago when bands like Eighteen Visions and Atreyu were making music; bands that included a lot of screaming in to their music, as well as a lot of clean singing, all while being taken seriously by many music fans and not just kids. Now we have bands like Escape the Fate and Blessthefall who have a tendency to produce a lot of plastic songs, much like a pop song heard on a top 40 station, and it’s unfortunate that these bands take such influence from the likes of the previously mentioned Atreyu or Alexisonfire, and they are the closest thing we have to new music of the similar genre. That being said, it is always good to discover a band that can capture the serious side of the heavy punk, some may call “post-hardcore” sound. The most recent band that I have come across that features such aspects is California’s Fake Figures.

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Il Rumore Bianco "Mediocrazia"

Progressive rock has always been a unique form of music. I mean, that’s kind of what the term “progressive” means. In recent years there haven’t been really any progressive rock acts as much as there have been progressive metal bands. There is of course Dream Theater, and there is also Symphony X, Meshuggah and Mastodon all classify as progressive metal bands, but long gone are the days of Genesis and Yes, when you could be innovative and not have to rely on super heavy distortion and impossible guitar playing to be considered progressive.

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

The Bloody Nerve "Blue"

You may recall a couple of months ago, almost to the day, I wrote an article on a blues rock outfit by the name of The Bloody Nerve. They had released their three-track debut EP Red then and I had nothing but good things to say about it, only to find out soon afterwards that they were immediately working on a follow-up three-track EP called Blue. Of course, I had to get this EP to write up on again. Luckily for readers, I don’t have to go through the long introductory paragraph(s) this time around.

Saturday, 18 January 2014

Ladies of the Canyon "Diamond Heart"

I first heard of Montreal’s Ladies of the Canyon from their cleverly placed YouTube advertisement a few months ago. Like everybody, I hate those advertisements, but I couldn’t help but find the song absolutely catchy. After a few times of hearing this commercial I finally decided to check them out so I went and looked for their new CD Diamond Heart (which I found out wasn’t entirely new anymore), to find it in the country section. I disagree with this placement and let me tell you why.

Saturday, 11 January 2014

Boston "Life, Love & Hope"

I’ve mentioned this before on occasion, but Boston is one of the first two bands I ever listened to. Van Halen is the other of the two. So needless to say, I’ve had a soft spot for both bands my entire life. It just helps that both bands have made such terrific music. Boston always had a unique and somewhat difficult journey in making their music.

Saturday, 4 January 2014

A Day To Remember "Common Courtesy"

The first time I heard of A Day To Remember was a couple of springs ago. I had gotten my tickets to see Rise Against live, and typically I’ll check out what opening acts sound like before seeing the band live, just in case. Thank God I did so. Immediately I was drawn to A Day To Remember. Just like I’m sure just about every fan the band has, I couldn’t believe the mixture of pop punk and metalcore. It was something I had wished bands would do so often but unfortunately to that point no band had ever done.