Sunday, April 3, 2011

AFTER HOURS: "Against The Grain"

Rating: 8/10

Label: AOR Heaven 2011

Review by Alan Holloway

Unlike me, you may remember After Hours from the late Eighties, as apparently they looked well on their way with their first album, but as so often happens it all fell apart whilst making their second, and after a five year run they split up in 1992. Fires were reignited in 2008, when vocalist John Francis, Guitarist Tim Payne and bassist Martin Walls met up and decided to give it another go, just to see what would come out. Well, “Against The Grain” is what came out, and you should all be glad that it did.

Hailing from the UK but not sounding like it, After Hours deliver radio friendly AOR in the vein of Valentine with a smattering of Journey, and to me they would not have been out of place on the higher end of Escape’s roster in the mid 90s, making the album feel a bit like a lost classic. Vocalist John Francis has a voice that will bring Steve Perry to mind, but is slightly grittier, and boy can he carry a note. Definitely one of our best kept secrets, there is no way that this guy should be doing anything but singing for a living.

Musically, there’s plenty to like here, such as the pure AOR of “Turn On the Radio”, or the incredibly catchy “Angel”, both of which benefit from some soaring vocals as well as deft guitar licks from Tim Payne, who never outstays his welcome but can widdle away with the best of them. There’s a few ballads thrown in, thankfully decent ones that don’t make me want to skip them, but in general this is a nice, upbeat album of songs that will help you bounce your way through the Summer. Trust me, if you like melodic rock and don’t mind it being a bit wimpy, you will absolutely adore “Against The Grain”.


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