Friday, May 24, 2024

REMEDY: "Pleasure Beats The Pain"

Escape Music 2024

Rating: RRRRR

Review by Kimmo Toivonen

The second REMEDY album takes me back to the golden era of late eighties and BIG albums. You know, the kind of albums you knew right away after the first spin that it was something special, with a half a dozen surefire hits on it. ”Pleasure Beats The Pain” is like that. Sure, it has a couple of songs I don’t like as much as the others, but it has hits. A lot of hits. Unfortunately it’s unlikely that they’ll conquer the Billboard charts, but in my world the will rule the playlists this summer and onwards.

The first Remedy album was a great one, my album of the year 2022. Usually most bands struggle a bit with their second album, but apparently Remedy didn’t get the memo of ”sophomore album curse”. They have just done it again, releasing a strong contender for this year's best album. Probably they didn't even break a sweat over it, lucky buggers!

Although I said this album takes me back, it's not really a retro-sounding album, the production is up to date and the songs have some rather clever, even unique hooks. I might have mentioned it before, but I hear a little bit of The Rasmus at their best in some of these songs. Then again, I do hear touches of Abba, Bonfire and even Queensrÿche here and there. But most of all, it's Remedy I hear.

The "hits" of the album for me are the first eight tracks, and right now I might say that "Moon Has The Night" could be my favourite, but I really don't know, it might also be "Crying Heart" or "Hearts On Fire". All three come with gigantic choruses, soaring vocals, neat little nuances and tasteful guitar solos. But so do the other 5 tracks...

The somewhat Van Halenesque "Girls Got Trouble" is by no means a bad song, but somehow it stands out as the "obligatory party rocker". I kind of understand its' inclusion and it might be a fun live track to play. "Something They Call Love" is an acoustic ballad, and if you ignore the lyrics, it could be a lullaby. Maybe it's a very personal track to someone and therefore an important piece of the puzzle, but for me it's just okay. The debut had one of the best ballads of recent years in "Sundays At Nine", so they're certainly capable of writing brilliant slower songs. Who knows what they have in the vaults... Anyway, on any scale this is a monster of an album and even with the two last tracks slightly lowering the overall score, I can easily round up my rating to full 5 R's.

Thursday, May 16, 2024

Rock Blog #29: Welcome Summer 2024!

Apologies for the lack of updates. All sorts of things have taken up my time, but I hope I can write these blog entries a bit more often from now on. We’ll see. 

Retro flashback! As I write this, I’m listening to the MTM Classix version of the first RPM album, which I found today from a second hand shop (or ”fleet market”, to be exact.) A mint, unopened copy for a few euros - a good deal, especially since I didn’t have this album before. It features the well-known songsmith Robert White Johnson on lead vocals, and few of these songs have been covered by other artists such as Van Zant (”2+2”) and Blackfoot (”A Legend Never Dies”). This re-issue comes with 5 bonus tracks. Good early eighties AOR! RRRR.

Then, let's move to the newer stuff:

NIGHTBLAZE is the latest project from Italian guitarist Dario Grillo. With vocalist Damiano Libianchi (Perfect View), bassist Federica Raschellà and drummer Alex Grillo he has created a fine melodic rock album. There’s a certain melancholic feeling in these songs that appeals to me a lot, and while Nightblaze isn’t re-inventing anything, their songs have a touch of originality. RRRR.

IAN WILDE is from Portugal, and he’s the singer in an alternative metal band Wild Freedom. On his first solo album ”Dream Hunter” he’s presenting us a more melodic side of himself though. Vocally he’s a dead ringer of young Michael Voss, and indeed, musically these songs sound like the could have been taken from the cult classic Mad Max album ”Night Of Passion” or Casanova’s debut. Okay, maybe those albums are on a different level, but if they’re among your favourites, you should check out ”Dream Hunter”. Wilde injects some retrowave synth sounds to some of the songs too, ”Born To Shine” is a good example of that. RRRr.

”Defiance” is the latest album from veteran rockers PRAYING MANTIS. They’ve released solid material since the early eighties, but I haven’t ever really gotten into them. This album won’t make a difference I’m afraid. It’s pleasant, mostly mid tempo melodic hard rock and if you’ve liked their previous albums, I’m sure you’ll like this one too. Something just doesn’t click for me though, and Russ Ballard’s ”I Surrender” stands out easily as the best song. RRR.

I loved the ART OF ILLUSION album released a couple of years ago. Now the guys behind it, Anders Rydholm and Lars Säfsund have released a new album, but quite righftfully under the monicker of RYDHOLM SÄFSUND, as it is a very different beast to the Art Of Illusion one. ”Kaleidoscope” is the name of the album, and it’s highly polished, at times even jazzy one. Think Toto, Chicago at their jazziest, with lots of horns and brass instruments and funky rhythms… A few very good choruses doesn’t save this from going way too deep into the yacht rock waters, so it’s only RRR from me. Immaculately executed and sung of course, but I sure hope the duo will return to the Art Of Illusion style one day.

Can’t say that SEBASTIAN BACH is BACK even if I wanted to, because he really hasn’t been away. There’s always an online fight between him and someone else going on, but he also raised his profile in more positive way (I think?) by appearing in Masked Singer. Anyway, the latest chapter in his solo career goes by the name of ”Child Within The Man”, and… it’s not too bad. The album doesn’t really offer any standout tracks, but it’s decent hard rock / metal with a contemporary sound, somewhat lacking in the hook department though. Actually, didn’t I say something similar about the last album of the band he used to be a part of? Favourite song: the ballad "To Live Again". RRR