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Sat
01
Aug

NEWMAN - Ignition (2020)

Score: 
91
Categories: 
Reviews

There is a sense of comfort when diving into a new NEWMAN album. Much like Ten, Vega (to name just two), you know exactly what you are going to get, and Steve Newman never disappoints.

With a history dating back to his debut in 1997 that stretches over 2 decades and 15 releases, you are always going to have albums that fans rate more highly than others and differing opinions of just which those albums are. But one thing you cannot deny is that NEWMAN delivers something great on every record. And of course, ‘Ignition’ is no exception.

There a few twists in the tail, the electro-Def Leppard-groove of the title track is certainly one, but mostly this is just classic Newman.

 Another collection of strong, classic melodic rock. 

 
Mon
01
Mar

NEAL SCHON - Universe (2020)

Score: 
90
Categories: 
Reviews

No need for any introduction to Neal Schon. The guitar legend delivered his long awaited new solo album late last year and has been almost universally praised and appreciated.

So I will simply add to the chorus of platitudes that this wonderful piece of work has already been laiden with.

One of Neal's most expressive solo instrumental albums to date, the 15 track/70 minute record touches a myriad of emotions and musical styles, all under the direction of producer/multi-instrumentalist and songwriter (plus new Journey drummer) Narada Michael Walden.

The album sounds a million bucks and is one of those types of records that you can just hear all the time and effort that's gone into it. Smooth, sultry, rocking and complex. Love it!

 
Mon
26
Jul

NIGHT RANGER - And The Band Played On (2021)

Score: 
70
Categories: 
Reviews

For those unfamiliar with my affinity with Night Ranger, they’ve been close to my favourite band since 1985 and have rarely disappointed throughout their distinguished recording career.

They’re also responsible for a couple of my most loved live albums over the years.

Add in solo albums, favourite songs and general songwriting prowess and you should get the picture - Night Ranger are melodic rock royalty.

With that status, each album is therefore highly anticipated. For a band recording since 1982, with 12 studio albums to their name (yes, I’m including the marvellous Mojo record), they have a remarkably consistent catalogue. And in the last decade they have continued to prove that veteran bands can still deliver fresh, energetic and engaging new music.

The guys peaked with the flawless Somewhere In California in 2011 and followed it up with the also excellent High Road in 2014. Don’t Let Up slipped a little off the pace in 2017, so fans were anxiously awaiting the band’s 2021 statement.

And I’m sorry to deliver the point of view that the band has missed a step here, delivering for me at least, their weakest album since 2007s inconsistent, modern-rock dominated Hole In The Sun album. And the reasons are very similar to why. Basically, the band has again veered off path, leaving some of their much-loved trademark sound behind. There are less harmonies, much less keyboards and a whole lot less of Kelly Keagy on this record. And while the band’s most popular songs showcase their knack of delivering emotional uplifting mid-tempo anthems, here the band is either rocking hard, or not. There’s not much middle ground.

Track By Track:
Opening with the furious rocker Coming For You, the band are off to a flying start and make up for the lack of a sing-along chorus with added raw power.

Bring It All Home To Me adds those layered with harmonies, which is a plus and its dominated by some sterling shred work from Brad Gillis, which culminates in the closing minute, but overall the song straddles the line between styles. Strip the guitars and add a banjo and it wouldn’t sound out of place on country radio. A theme that makes repeated appearances on ATBPO.

Breakout sees a welcomed increase in keyboard presence and is another track that races along at breakneck speed. Being the lead single there are considerable public comment on this track and many bemoan the lack of a big chorus. I say that note and appreciate the excellent melodic bridge that leads into the short, sharp chorus. A track that sounds great to me.

Hard To Make It Easy is the first major left turn and will be one of the songs I edit out on my playback version. I simply don’t need honky-tonk Night Ranger and while the song ‘rocks’, it isn’t in a way I can appreciate and is another almost-country song.

On the first ballad of the album, Can’t Afford A Hero, the band stop hiding behind the pseudo-country hints and come out as a full country flavour acoustic driven track that’s more Shaw/Blades or Garth Brooks than Night Ranger. I’m sad to say it’s another hard pass for me.

Now, the start of Cold As December has my full and immediate attention. The opening riffs and melody hint at an anthem of epic proportions, with intricate keyboard and guitar parts lighting up my ears. But without warning at the 48 second mark, the song abandons the entire premise to become another pretty bland screamy hard rocker. The melodic refrain makes a brief return at 3.35 for a few seconds, but I’m left wondering where that song went and why we were left with the one here.

Dance is a feel good mid-to-up tempo rocker with another strong Shaw/Blades vibe and a reasonable chorus, but again, it’s not Night Ranger.

The ballad The Hardest Road sees the first appearance of Kelly Keagy on lead vocals. Where has he been? It’s a warm vocal, but the song is reminiscent of the other Beatlesque ballads Night Ranger have delivered on the last two albums.

The attitude filled hard rocker Monkey has some recent era Night Ranger familiarity to it, but the chorus is horrible. “‘Cause I’m your monkey, well I’m your money, I’ll be your junkie?” Guys…c’mon.

A Lucky Man is another decent track, but it’s another with a strong rock-n-country-pop vibe and I just don’t think this is Night Ranger.

Closing the album is a good rocker sung by Kelly again, which is welcomed. Tomorrow is one of the more traditional Night Ranger sounding tracks and will likely rate as one of the fan favourites.

And that is And The Band Played On. Honestly, as much as I love all things Night Ranger, I’m not afraid to make a stand when something doesn’t live up to my high expectations.


To me, this is more a Jack Blades solo album. And that isn’t meant as an insult in any way. Rather it is more a point of reference to describe what I think this album is. Less ‘Night Ranger’ and more dominated by outside influences and styles. Ones I’d rather hear on solo albums, than on a new Night Ranger album. We only get them every 3-4 years, so for me, I want to hear Night Ranger at their very best each time.

I might add for the record - I'm not at all opposed to a band trying something different, but to do that successfully, the songs really have to be there. For me, that isn’t happening here.

 
Thu
20
Jan

NESTOR - Kids In A Ghost Town (2021)

Score: 
95
Categories: 
Reviews

Its all anyone keeps asking – ‘what do you think of the Nestor’?! Well, folks might remember me championing the band from the time their first official single was released, so it should be no surprise that I rate the album very highly indeed and think the guys have done an amazing job of recapturing the glory days.

While the album might sound very familiar, with the various nods to classic songs of the past and some refurbished refrains, it still manages to sum up the fun elements of 80s melodic rock and the days of anthemic radio friendly hits and big soaring ballads.

The vocals are a strong point as is the equal mix of guitar and keyboards and a big production that has had some time and effort put into it.

Some have called Nestor the future of melodic rock, but I think they are providing a different service for fans - delivering one of the best albums of classic yesteryear classic AOR and melodic rock. A throwback to the glory days rather than being a band that pushes boundaries forward into the future as some other acts do.

The fast is we need both, and Nestor certainly have delivered one of the highest quality albums of this kind in recent memory. Its such a fan album with a few heartfelt ballads, it really is almost impossible to find any faults. Here’s to more glimpses into the past from the guys.

 
Tue
06
Dec

NOISEWORKS - Evolution (Album Review, 2022)

Score: 
85
Categories: 
Reviews

Aussie melodic rock legends Noiseworks are back with a reunion tour and a ‘new’ album that was recorded several years back but shelved for various reasons. Most notably the cancer battle of guitarist Stuart Fraser, which would eventually claim his life.

So this album and tour is a tribute to him – with Southern Sons’ Jack Jones filling in for the live dates.

The official fourth and likely final Noiseworks album is a mix of classic and modern, with the band reliving its trademark sound from the first two albums in places, but then also delving into the heavier, groovier feel of the lesser liked third album.

The mix works pretty well here, but the standout songs are clearly the ones that lean towards the classic/melodic side. The opener Heart & Soul is among the band’s best tracks – a great feel good anthem.

Amerika is another highlight – a song which is quite literally half classic (the chorus) and half modern and heavier (the verses).

Elsewhere the ballad Long Way delivers a nice sentiment, the decade old Sunshine sounds better today than it did when originally released as a single and Low is a modern moody rocker with a killer vocal from the always amazing Jon Stevens. One In A Million picks up the pace with another good hook before delving back into the album’s familiar mid-tempo groove on Let It Go.

Unfortunately the album is over too soon, and closes on a low note, as the acoustic ballad Ocean Girl isn’t as strong as the rest of the material and the 50 second Touch (Epitaph) isn’t long enough to go anywhere.

All in all, take 34 minutes minus the last two tracks, you get 28 minutes of high quality modern melodic rock, excellently produced and performed by some of Australia’s best musicians.

A great long EP, or a little short for an album.

To add to the conversation, the physical CD packaging is a disgrace – a thin cardboard gatefold with no booklet, no lyrics, little info and bad album cover art. Not much effort has been put into this aspect.

 
Thu
09
Mar

NIGHT BY NIGHT - Night By Night (2014)

Score: 
94
Categories: 
Reviews

British melodic rockers Night By Night have been hailed as the future of this aging genre and I’m here to back that claim and push it one step further – its vitally important to the longevity of the melodic music scene that we continue to welcome, nurture and promote awesome new talent like this or we may as well all give it up right now.

Night By Night prove that you can still write catchy, energetic and fresh melodic rock in 2014 and in doing so give some old rockers a kick in the pants as to what is expected that fans want today.

Not everyone wants nostalgia 24/7. But don’t think these guys are an all-new sound, they just take the old sensibilities and make it their own. This is the best of old-school hooks and harmonies, driving guitars and anthemic catchy choruses, delivered with a fresh spunky attitude and a contemporary production sound.And if you feel let down by the latest Tesla album, then this should fire a rocket up you! Vocalist Henry Rundell has an uncanny sound not far removed from Jeff Keith in his heyday.

Guiatrists Ben Christo and Tom Daniel guides the band through some cracking riffs and solos. The production on here is simply fabulous – balanced mix and a crunchy sound. The album has been a long time coming and is well worth the wait.

If Time To Escape, Holding Onto Holding On and Can’t Walk Away don’t blow you away, the more melodic Everywhere Tonight will insert itself into your brain for days at a time. If darker and heavier is what you want, Siren delivers, a hybrid of Tesla, Def Leppard and melodic Dokken.

Then there’s the glorious AOR of A Thousand Lies – perfect melodic rock here folks.

The Moment is another fast moving gem and the band saves one of their most urgent tracks for last – Never Die Again is a pounding guitar driven masterpiece.

 
Sun
05
Feb

NOISEWORKS - Evolution (Album Review, 2022)

information persons: 
content: 
85%
Label: 
Indie
Artist: 
Score: 
85
Categories: 
Reviews

Aussie melodic rock legends Noiseworks are back with a reunion tour and a ‘new’ album that was recorded several years back but shelved for various reasons. Most notably the cancer battle of guitarist Stuart Fraser, which would eventually claim his life.

So this album and tour is a tribute to him – with Southern Sons’ Jack Jones filling in for the live dates.

The official fourth and likely final Noiseworks album is a mix of classic and modern, with the band reliving its trademark sound from the first two albums in places, but then also delving into the heavier, groovier feel of the lesser liked third album.

The mix works pretty well here, but the standout songs are clearly the ones that lean towards the classic/melodic side. The opener Heart & Soul is among the band’s best tracks – a great feel good anthem.

Amerika is another highlight – a song which is quite literally half classic (the chorus) and half modern and heavier (the verses).

Elsewhere the ballad Long Way delivers a nice sentiment, the decade old Sunshine sounds better today than it did when originally released as a single and Low is a modern moody rocker with a killer vocal from the always amazing Jon StevensOne In A Million picks up the pace with another good hook before delving back into the album’s familiar mid-tempo groove on Let It Go.

Unfortunately the album is over too soon, and closes on a low note, as the acoustic ballad Ocean Girl isn’t as strong as the rest of the material and the 50 second Touch (Epitaph) isn’t long enough to go anywhere.

All in all, take 34 minutes minus the last two tracks, you get 28 minutes of high quality modern melodic rock, excellently produced and performed by some of Australia’s best musicians.

A great long EP, or a little short for an album.

To add to the conversation, the physical CD packaging is a disgrace – a thin cardboard gatefold with no booklet, no lyrics, little info and bad album cover art. Not much effort has been put into this aspect.

Tags: 
 
Wed
29
Apr

NEWMAN - Ignition (Review)

information persons: 
content: 
88%
Label: 
AOR Heaven
Artist: 
Score: 
88
Categories: 
Reviews
 
There is a sense of comfort when diving into a new NEWMAN album. Much like Ten, Vega (to name just two), you know exactly what you are going to get, and Steve Newman never disappoints. With a history dating back to his debut in 1997 that stretches over 2 decades and 15 releases, you are always going to have albums that fans rate more highly than others and differing opinions of just which those albums are.
 
But one thing you cannot deny is that NEWMAN delivers something great on every record. And of course, ‘Ignition’ is no exception. There a few twists in the tail, the electro-Def Leppard-groove of the title track is certainly one, but mostly this is just classic Newman.
 
Another collection of strong, classic melodic rock.
 
 
Tue
02
Feb

NORDIC UNION - Nordic Union (Review)

information persons: 
content: 
94%
Produced By: 
Erik Martensson
Running Time: 
41
Release Date: 
2016
Released: 
Worldwide
Musical Style: 
Melodic Hard Rock
Label: 
Frontiers
Artist: 
Score: 
94
Release Year: 
2015
Thursday, January 29, 2015
Categories: 
Reviews
 
Ever get an album that does exactly what you expect it to do, with the added bonus of blowing your mind with the quality of the songs? Nordic Union (the pairing of Swedish legend in the making Erik Martensson and Pretty Maids’ frontman Ronnie Atkins) is everything you’d expect if familiar with the output of both individuals.
 
Erik of course is the frontman for Eclipse, whose albums are an absolutely essential requirement for fans of classic melodic hard rock. He’s also the man behind the just as essential and critically acclaimed albums from Jimi Jamison, Toby Hitchcock and W.E.T.
So this is precisely the best of Erik (recent Eclipse, WET and Adrenalin Rush) meets a more melodic Pretty Maids (think My Soul To Take). Raspy vocals meets the highly polished and articulately mixed, bombastic hard rock style of Erik Martensson.
Exactly what you’d expect, but boy does this baby have a monster sound and a vacuum of energy that just sucks you in. It’s catchy, it’s powerful and it’s a marvellous pairing.
 
The War Has Begun is a strong opener, starting slow and building intensity, featuring a good chorus and some great guitar work. It’s a foundation song that the album builds upon.
Hypocrisy has a typically Eclipse feel to it, not to mention part W.E.T also. The songs stays within itself until the monster chorus bursts to life and builds the pace. Then it never lets go.
Wide Awake is nothing to do with the Eclipse tune, apart from a similar thumping beat and a very melodic vocal from Ronnie. It’s a catchy commercial rocker with layers of music to get through.
 
Every Heartbeat is another track with a strong Eclipse feel. The classy ballad builds from a moody intro to an intense full band second half. Possibly the best vocal I’ve ever heard from Ronnie, he really stretches here for a great result.
When Death Is Calling is probably the stand out commercial hard rocker of the album and is an instant like. It’s the fastest track thus far and features a huge crashing beat, a great chorus and a monster sound.
21 Guns is another instant classic for me. Some keyboards join in the mix for a very melodic and moody track. A terrific melodic, heavy chorus that delivers a perfect lyric and hook.
Falling is a breezy melodic rocker with a faster pace and a commercial feel. Definitely some Pretty Maids sounds here.
The Other Side rocks hard and fast. A simpler track than some others, but equally as enjoyable and a cool fired up rocker that adds tempo to the album.
 
Point Of No Return rolls along at a good pace and has a new twist for followers of Erik’s work. A great chorus again, if not immediate, it’s a grower.
True Love Awaits You is another quality big rock ballad that features harmonies, layers and a lighters in the air vibe. I can imagine Erik singing this and it’s another showcase of Ronnie’s more melodic side.
Go is simply a flat out rocker with a good hook and a big fat sound. Great energetic way to close the album. A big fat hard rock sound.

All in all, a wonderful album that delivers on the hype and promise that such a pairing brings. It doesn’t quite match Eclipse or W.E.T for me, as I’m drawn to those releases more by the vocal style - here Ronnie’s rasp isn’t as smooth as Erik’s other projects. But it’s still every bit an essential release and showcases both guys in a really high quality, world class release.

 

 
Fri
21
Aug

NEWMAN - The Elegance Machine (Review)

information persons: 
Produced By: 
Steve Newman
Running Time: 
55
Release Date: 
August 28
Released: 
Europe
Musical Style: 
Melodic Hard Rock
Label: 
AOR Heaven
Artist: 
Score: 
91
Release Year: 
2015
Categories: 
Reviews
 
Another of the hard working regulars of this scene is one Steve Newman. And he’s consistently delivered quality music year after year and is at it once again on The Elegance Machine.
Picking up where they left off with Siren, this album holds the same musical outlook that The Art Of Balance and Under Southern Skies both did.
So you know what you are going to get – a collection of punchy, guitar and keyboard driven melodic rock songs, with Steve’s distinctive voice and his layered harmony style choruses.
 
And as usual the album mixes uptempo harder tunes like The Suit, Illuminate and Confess alongside commercial melodic rock such as The Elegance Machine, Pretender Surrender and Send Us Salvation.
Moody tracks such as Halo and She Walks In Silence are balanced between the appearance of two cracking AOR numbers Don’t Stay Lonely and One Good Reason.
What I’m really enjoying on this album is the warmth of Steve’s voice on a few of the tracks (The Elegance Machine and Prayer For Apollo in particular).
Speaking of which, Prayer For Apollo is brilliant – this is a quirky track with a haunting intro and a brilliant anthemic chorus. A definite instant highlight.

Another winning slice of British classic melodic rock and AOR from one of the genre’s most reliable writers. If you own one, you must own them all. Now go get this latest opus.
 
Tue
09
Jun

NELSON - Peace Out (Review)

information persons: 
Produced By: 
Gunnar Nelson
Running Time: 
57
Release Date: 
2015
Released: 
Worldwide
Musical Style: 
Melodic Rock
Label: 
Frontiers
Artist: 
Score: 
89
Release Year: 
2015
Friday, May 1, 2015
Categories: 
Reviews
 
America’s favourite twins, Gunnar & Matt Nelson are threatening to close the door on the band Nelson after this release. If so, they will leave us with another dose of high-energy, high-spirits singalong melodic rock goodness.
Peace Out is well and truly Gunnar Nelson’s record – he delivers much of the guitar work, most of the lead vocals, was the sole writer on all but 3 of the tracks and is in charge of production and mix.
 
The only downside here is part of that production – in particular the drum sound, which sounds programmed (but not specified either way in the credits) and the muddiness of the sound overall, which is dragged down by the drum sound. The vocals and guitars sound pretty clear.
 
Production values aside, the songs on Peace Out have my full attention, being some of the strongest and most consistent of the band’s career!
The opening track Hello, Everybody is pure melodic rock and sounds more like Cheap Trick than Nelson; Back In The Day, Invincible and Let It Ride are more guitar driven than recent times and are smothered in harmonies and instantly memorable chorus hooks.
I Wanna Stay Home is melodic rock bliss; Rock Star and Bad For You is one of the album’s heavier, but equally melodic tracks; Autograph is almost punky in feel – a real garage rocker; What’s Not To Love is pure power pop.
There’s a couple of quality ballads in there and the only track that doesn’t really work for me is the grating You And Me.
 
Peace Out doesn’t match the sonics of past Nelson albums, but the songwriting makes up most of the ground. As an overall collection of songs, this rates as some of the catchiest and most consistent since the wonderful Life album.
Absolutely essential for Nelson fans, others will have to judge but there’s no denying the likability of these songs.
 
Tags: 
 
Fri
08
Aug

NIVA – Incremental IV (Review)

information persons: 
section name: 
SCORE
content: 

 

85%
Produced By: 
Tony Niva
Running Time: 
39
Release Date: 
2014
Released: 
Europe
Musical Style: 
AOR / Melodic Rock
Label: 
AOR Heaven
Artist: 
Score: 
85
Friday, August 8, 2014
Categories: 
Reviews
Tony Niva follows up his very good 2013 release Magnitude with the oddly titled Incremental IV record.
 
Following exactly where the last album left off, Incremental IV is more of the same – high energy, melodic rock-n-pomp, with high pitch vocals and plenty of those fluffy Scandinavian harmonies.
This is a very good sounding record with a great clear mix. Makes things so much easier to enjoy with the rhythm section pounding away with vocals gliding over the top.
I do think that Niva’s vocals are of the style that will appeal to some, but not to all; they are a bit over the top when going for notes on the higher end of the scale.
 
Best tracks here include the opening anthem Don’t You Know; the fast moving AOR of Crush; the slightly darker Better Just Forgotten and the AOR anthems The Reason Why and Play The Game.
The ballad Travel Back In Time is a good change of pace and is accompanied in like by the mid-tempo All By Myself.
 
Fans of Grand Illusion and Final Frontier should definitely add Niva to their list to check out – the bands have a lot in common aside from the vocal style.
A very good sounding record that will appeal to all fans of Niva and most pomp/Scandi AOR fans.
 
Mon
21
Jul

NIGHT BY NIGHT - Night By Night (Review)

information persons: 
section name: 
BOTTOM LINE
content: 
 
39 minutes long and not one second of wasted space. It’s all killer no filler for the Night By Night debut.
section name: 
SCORE
content: 

 

94%
section name: 
TRACK LISTING
content: 
Time To Escape
Holding Onto Holding On
Can't Walk Away
Everywhere Tonight
Siren
A Thousand Lies
It's Not faith
The Moment
If Only
Never Die Again
Produced By: 
Romesh Dodangoda & NxN
Release Date: 
2014
Released: 
Europe
Musical Style: 
Melodic Hard Rock
Label: 
Sun Hill Productions
Score: 
94
Monday, July 21, 2014
Categories: 
Reviews
British melodic rockers Night By Night have been hailed as the future of this aging genre and I’m here to back that claim and push it one step further – its vitally important to the longevity of the melodic music scene that we continue to welcome, nurture and promote awesome new talent like this or we may as well all give it up right now.
Night By Night prove that you can still write catchy, energetic and fresh melodic rock in 2014 and in doing so give some old rockers a kick in the pants as to what is expected that fans want today.
Not everyone wants nostalgia 24/7. But don’t think these guys are an all-new sound, they just take the old sensibilities and make it their own.
 
This is the best of old-school hooks and harmonies, driving guitars and anthemic catchy choruses, delivered with a fresh spunky attitude and a contemporary production sound.
And if you feel let down by the latest Tesla album, then this should fire a rocket up you! Vocalist Henry Rundell has an uncanny sound not far removed from Jeff Keith in his heyday.
Guiatrists Ben Christo and Tom Daniel guides the band through some cracking riffs and solos.
 
The production on here is simply fabulous – balanced mix and a crunchy sound. The album has been a long time coming and is well worth the wait.
If Time To Escape, Holding Onto Holding On and Can’t Walk Away don’t blow you away, the more melodic Everywhere Tonight will insert itself into your brain for days at a time.
If darker and heavier is what you want, Siren delivers, a hybrid of Tesla, Def Leppard and melodic Dokken.
Then there’s the glorious AOR of A Thousand Lies – perfect melodic rock here folks.
The Moment is another fast moving gem and the band saves one of their most urgent tracks for last – Never Die Again is a pounding guitar driven masterpiece.
 
 
Thu
26
Jun

NIGHT RANGER - High Road (Review)

information persons: 
section name: 
BOTTOM LINE
content: 
 
In my book, this is yet another winner from Night Ranger. It’s different than Somewhere In California, but at the same time, it’s not too far from that sound – just a little heavier and a little more diverse. So for that reason I think it makes a great companion to the last album, just as 7 Wishes is the perfect match for Midnight Madness.
More classic Night Ranger harmonies and a really strong production make this a great album.
section name: 
SCORE
content: 

 

92%
section name: 
TRACK LISTING
Produced By: 
Night Ranger
Running Time: 
46 + Bonus
Release Date: 
2014
Released: 
Worldwide
Musical Style: 
Melodic Hard Rock
Label: 
Frontiers Records
Artist: 
Score: 
92
Thursday, June 26, 2014
Categories: 
Reviews
Night Ranger are quite possibly my favourite band around. They are just so consistently good and feature several times already in my all-time Top 30 with such classic albums as Big Life, Midnight Madness, 7 Wishes, Dawn Patrol, Neverland (still underrated!) and Man In Motion of course. Even the Night Ranger album we can’t mention (Feeding Off The Mojo…oops!) was great!
Some fans had a hard time with the band’s modernized and sometimes inconsistent Hole In The Sun album, but how can you go pass such great tracks as Whatever Happened, There Is Life and Rockstar? Every album sees the band deliver some great new tracks.
Anyway…I digress. The band’s “return to form” Somewhere In California was a bonafide new era classic, with hit chorus after chorus making the album a perfect 100 for me and many others.
 
Not a band to repeat themselves or make the same album twice, I was curious as to what High Road was going to deliver. And I was surprised at the results. Mainly because on first reflection I felt this was the most diverse album the band had ever delivered.
I think there are parts of both Jack and Kelly’s solo sound in here as well as a dose of Damn Yankees style rock n roll and Shaw/Blades also.
Of course the more I listen the more is just sounds like Night Ranger, but I do hear and understand some criticism from a few fans over a few of the tracks included.
After the chorus driven brilliance of the last album, it was always going to be near impossible for High Road to match it. But I think the band came close.
So High Road is a very diverse collection of new songs where choruses play a less prominent role on several songs. It’s also a heavier and harder rocking album and if you go with the flow I think there’s a lot to love here once again. It’s just different.
 
Track By Track:
High Road – you’ll be hard pressed to find a more brilliant hands-in-the-air anthem than this beauty. Absolute melodic bliss and one of my favorite recent era NR tracks. It has a modern sound, but a huge classic chorus.
 
Knock Knock Never Stop – at first I thought it a little bit silly and the lyrics aren’t anything spectacular. I thought the chorus was underdone, but in the flow of the album the song has great energy– it’s this album’s answer to Lay It On Me from Somewhere In California and I’ve come to like it a lot.
 
Rollin' On – I didn’t warm to this song at all for quite a few plays. And it’s not the best song to be rolling out at track 3 I think. The heavy blues rocker with a short chorus is something different, but it really does rock even if it sounds more like Damn Yankees than Night Ranger!
 
Don't Live Here Anymore – I loved this from the first listen and even more so now. Kelly Keagy sings his ass off here, on a song that has a haunting message and a moody heart, until it explodes out of the gate with some blistering guitar work mid-song. It has a very similar vibe to the wonderful rain Comes Crashing down from Big Life.
 
I'm Coming Home – I was so excited first time I heard the riff to this song and as it built I just knew the chorus would blow me away. Except it didn’t. I felt as if the chorus was underdone for a while, like it could have gone even higher and bigger. But that thought soon faded and it remains one of my favorite songs on the album. While I think it feels a little like it could have come from either of Kelly’s solo albums, it is also a song that sounds closest to the style of the last album.
 
X Generation – this is another all-out rocker with a pretty short chorus. It’s not a mind blowing chorus, but I love the pace of the song and the pounding drums (all the drums on this album sound fantastic). It’s a good fun hard rocker that suits the overall album.
 
Only For You Only – ballad time again and this time it’s a traditional Night Ranger ballad with gorgeous vocals and a nice sentimental message. Can’t go wrong with tracks like these and is another winner.
 
Hang On – this is a moody rocker with a Mojo style vibe to it. Or a Kelly solo track perhaps, but with those trademark NR backing vocals and the twin guitar attack, it is another cool song for me. Once again the chorus is understated, but with the flow of the album it’s perfectly placed.
 
St. Bartholomew – this is another big hard rocking track that sounds more AC/DC than it does Night Ranger, but those guitars are so classic in sound it couldn’t be anyone but NR right? The chorus is a grower and more traditional sounding, so I give it two thumbs up.
 
Brothers – is akin to something off Jack’s solo album or Shaw/Blades. Together with the instrumental LA No Name, I think that the album ends on a weak note after the high energy of the rest of the album as a whole. The track, with its Beatles-esque acoustic harmonies is a classic piece of music, but would have been better used as one if the bonus tracks on offer I think.
 
Bonus Tracks:
 
Mountain Song is one of the bonus tracks on offer and a fine hard rocking one at that. It fits in with the style of this album used by X Generation and Knock Knock and is well worth hunting down.
 
Don’t Even Know Your Name should have been on the main album release. This track is a great uptempo melodic rocker with a strong chorus and could have helped even out the album more for those that missed the commercial chorus driven sound of Somewhere In California.