Categories
Reviews and Suggestions

CD Review: When In Rome II S/T

Back in the eighties, many British bands made their way into American households by way of the radio for a second time, with the first time having been referred to as the British Invasion. Bands that were part of that “New Wave” included A Flock of Seagulls, Depeche Mode, Duran Duran, Joy Division, and on and on. And while the aforementioned bands were some of the best known, there were plenty of others that were part of the ‘wave” that never gained the same popularity. One such band that had not reached that same popularity here in the United States was the group known as When in Rome.

The original version of When in Rome came together in the late eighties. In 1987, Michael Floreale and Andy O’Connell were recruited by Clive Farrington after Farrington had dissolved the band he had previously been a part of. Together, the trio created a synthesizer-heavy Pop sound that fell into the Synth Pop category, and When in Rome was born. That band would record one album that would produce the band’s only real hit entitled “The Promise,” a song that would reach #11 on the Charts and #1 on the Dance charts here in the U.S. Before too long, this band too would have a falling out, resulting in Michael Floreale being fired by the remaining band members O’Connell and Farrington. Floreale would move to the United States while the other two stayed in Great Britain, and two bands would now use the band name. However, Michael Floreale’s version of the band here in the United States is called When in Rome II.

Under the moniker of When in Rome II, Michael Floreale brought together a new group of musicians. The lineup for When in Rome II would include: new singer/songwriter Johnny Ceravolo as well as Chris Willet (drums) and Michael Floreale (piano and keyboards). This lineup created the band’s 2015 self-titled release. And while this new band still has a sound that revolves around the keyboard, this ensemble’s music draws from Alternative Rock as much as it draws from New Wave. Imagine the synth sound of Depeche Mode from the eighties combining with the darker feel of Depeche Mode from the nineties with some Pop-Rock influences and you get somewhat of an idea of what When in Rome II’s music sounds like. This musical blend appears on the band’s 2015 self-titled release.

The 2015 self-titled release from When in Rome II begins with the track “Last Train”. The track begins with the sound of the synthesizer from Michael Floreale creating a slightly dark atmospheric approach. Soon, that synthesizer is joined by Johnny Ceravolo on guitar helping to complete the Alternative Rock feel to the track. What results is a sound that blends together some Depeche Mode with some Nine Inch Nails. The track has a strong, driving feel to the music that places the song somewhere in the middle of the nineties, musically speaking. The song contains rather grave lyrics as the words were inspired by someone attempted to end his life in front of a train, hence the title of the track. The overall feel of the song sort of brings to mind the song “Blasphemous Rumours” from Depeche Mode as both songs come from rather grim places.  

When In Rome II continues their album with the song “Come On”. With this track, the music takes on a lighter feel as a lot of the dark musical undertones of the last track are replaced by more Pop-like notes, bringing the band’s sound closer to what When in Rome had been in the eighties. In fact, “Come On” feels like a combination of eighties New Wave and early U2. This musical blend creates a track with a very commercial feel to it. Lyrically, the band seems to create a track that answers the dark, grave message in “Last Train” with a lighter, more upbeat message that life actually is worth living.

The feel of the music changes on the next track called “Let it Go”. Where the first two track are very synth-heavy, “Let it Go” showcases the guitar playing of Johnny Ceravolo as the acoustic guitar helps to create the musical base to the track. That acoustic guitar creates a much lighter pace to the music, creating a sound that is almost Pop-like. That Pop-Rock blends together acoustically-driven music that is flavored by the addition of the electric guitar to create a track that would easily fit onto a Top 40 radio format. And with the upbeat lyrics of the track that encourage the listener to see the bright side of things, this track would fit rather well on those Top 40 radio stations.

It is with the next track called “Eventide” that When in Rome II creates one of the most listener-friendly tracks on the album. The track begins with the swirling sound of a synthesizer creating a loop that brings to mind something from the eighties. That synthesizer loop is then layered with piano, guitar, bass and drums to create sound that feels rather timeless. What results is a track that would have fit anywhere in the late eighties into the nineties. This track brings to mind a newer version of the sound found in “The Promise,” the track that once made a name for When in Rome. Like earlier tracks on the self-titled release from When in Rome II, “Eventide” is a rather commercial track that would fit well on Top 40 radio alongside U2, INXS, or even the more commercial tracks from Duran Duran.

On the track “Giving Up,” When in Rome II brings back a Pop-Rock feel to the music as the track features the sound the piano as the main instrument creating a track with a soft, easy feel to the music, much like songs from the Lite Rock days of the eighties. The easy feel of the music, the sound of the piano and the light guitar in the back of the song all blend together and create a sound that is rather reminiscent of someone like Little River Band or Air Supply who were known for their overly laidback musical approach. For fans of that style of music, “Giving Up” is a nice reminder of that era.

While 2015 release from When in Rome II features mainly new material, this band brings their album to a close with the very song that made a name for the band- “The Promise”. And while the Michael Floreale-led band does revisit this track, they do not recreate what had come before. After all, this is not the same band and they do not have the same feel as the original trio. The 2015 version of the song, called “The Promise 2.0” finds the band creating a rather different version of the classic track. Where the original song had the New Wave feel to the Rock and Roll, the new version finds the band slowing things down and creating a track with a slower pace to it. The track also has a more prominent piano presence than the original version. And with Johnny Ceravolo’s deeper register when compared with Clive Farrington’s vocals, the deeper voice and slower pace create a track that feels more like a ballad than the original track. After a minute or so, the band returns a bit of the energy back to song. The track lives up to the original versions and while “The Promise 2.0” is not that original track, the listener will find this new version grows on them rather quickly.  

The original band called When in Rome only lasted three years before it imploded. When in Rome II has already bypassed that mark and is still going. In fact, Michael Floreale’s When in Rome II (with new vocalist Tony Fennell) is currently making the rounds as part of the Siriusxm Presents Totally 80’s Live tour with The Motels and Bow Wow Wow. Check out the 2015 self-titled release from When in Rome II, then check the internet to see if and when the tour is coming to your town.

 

To check out the music of When in Rome II, check out the track “The Promise 2.0”.

To check out the self-titled album from When in Rome II, click on the album cover below: 

 

Categories
Reviews and Suggestions

CD Review: Jupiter in Velvet “Beautiful New Day”

In order to make an impact in music, sometimes you have to make a move. That move might actually be just what you need to jump start your career. That is just what happened when an artist known as Jupiter in Velvet left the United States for new horizons over in the UK. Once overseas, the singer-songwriter started incorporating influences he had yet to use in his previous songs that had been written while he had been associated with bands back in the United States. That new, more rounded feel to the music helped to influence the songs that can be found on Jupiter in Velvet’s new. That album is entitled Beautiful New Day.

Beautiful New Day by Jupiter in Velvet begins with the track “Heavy Like a Brick”. Like the title of the track suggests, the song starts the newest album from the UK-based band off with a sound that is hard, musically-speaking. The Hard Rock track features a buzz guitar that helps to create that hardness in the music. The vocals for the track evoke the sound of Marc Bolan of T-Rex fame. What the track comes off feeling like is a combination of T-Rex and Queens of the Stone Age. The heaviness of QOTSA and the lighter approach of T-Rex balance each other out to create the feel of the track.

The album continues with the song “Can’t Get it Right”. The track blends together two different styles of music into one song. Part of the music seems to come from the Power Rock era of music from the eighties while it also seems to contain some influence from David Bowie. Together, the two styles of music combine to create a track that is undeniably Rock and Roll.

Jupiter in Velvet’s new album continues with the track “Monsters”. With this track, the music takes on a slightly unique feel. It doesn’t really fall into any specific category as far as Rock and Roll is concerned. The reason for that is because the track seems to contain some Glam Rock influence as well as a good deal of New Wave influence as well. One particular New Wave influence that comes through on the track is from the band Duran Duran. The blending of the two influences on the track sets the track in a rather retro sound but not to the point where it feels out of place in today’s music industry. After all, bands like The Killers (which is one of Jupiter in Velvet’s modern influences) draw their sound from the bands from the past.

The sound and feel of the music change on the track “Metanoia”. Where the previous tracks contained an electric quality to the music, “Metanoia” finds Jupiter in Velvet creating a track with an acoustic feel to the music. And while the acoustic guitar is a large part to the music on the song, the track also contains a powerful beat with a strong groove to it as well as a bassline that adds to the groove provided by the drums. Add in electric guitars to add the depth to the music and what is created is a track that would have been right at home within the music that was on the radio during the time of the New Wave era. Not necessarily New Wave itself, “Metanoia” would have fit right in with the music at that time.

The next track on the album is where the release gets its name. It’s also one of the more unusual tracks on the album. “The Day I Fell from the Stars” combines a strong Alternative Rock backbone with a slight orchestra feel that comes courtesy of keyboards on the track. The title of the track comes from the refrain where lyrics are sung that call for a “beautiful new day”. The majority of the song contains an unmistakable Alternative Rock feel to it that brings to mind band likes Soundgarden who add a great deal of energy to their songs. While the Alternative Rock influence comes from Soundgarden and other bands from the nineties, the aforementioned orchestral approach in the background of the track brings to mind songs from Electric Light Orchestra, and with Jupiter in Velvet now being situated over in the United Kingdom, the inclusion of ELO as an influence should not be much of a surprise.

While most of the previous tracks are largely influenced by the sound and style of Alternative Rock, the next track on the release takes a different approach. The song “U Can’t Beat Me” finds Jupiter in Velvet’s style changing a bit as the track takes on more of a New Wave/Glam Rock approach. In fact, the sound of the electronic claps on the track bring to mind music from the eighties, which adds to the eighties feel on the track. The track ultimately makes the listener think of a lost track from the likes of the Massachusettes-based group The J. Geils Band. 

One track that appears rather late on the Beautiful New Day release by Jupiter in Velvet is “Kiss the Flame”. The track begins with the sound of the bass and soon finds the electric guitar joining in before the rest of the instrumentation helps to set the track in motion. Like much of the earlier parts of Beautiful New Day by Jupiter in Velvet, the music of the track features a strong retro feel to it. The track features a strong guitar part as that particular guitar comes with a strong amount of reverb to it. That beginning of the track features a somewhat low-key feel to it; at the very least, that section is low-key when compared to the rest of the track. Eventually, the music segues to a much harder, driving pace. With everything that helps to create the song, “Kiss the Flame” ends up being one of the strongest, standout tracks on the album.

Beautiful New Day, the new release by Jupiter in Velvet, is an album that features music that uses influences from many different genres of modern-day Rock and Roll. Even with the inclusion of older styles like New Wave or Glam Rock, the resulting songs on the album are strong and Beautiful New Day by Jupiter in Velvet come across as fresh because of the inclusion of both the older and newer influences at the same time.

 

To check out the music Jupiter in Velvet, check out the song “Kiss the Flame“. 

For more information, check out Jupiter in Velvet’s PR Firm, Whiplash PR. Click on the logo below to visit their site. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To check out the Beautiful New Day release by Jupiter in Velvet, click on the album cover below: 

 

Categories
Reviews and Suggestions

CD Review: gloryBots “Dark Alien Pop”

Start with an artist named Jalal Andre who is mostly an enigma as nothing exists to tell you who exactly he is. Then, add him in with gloryBots, the Seattle-based band that is just as mysterious as he seems to be and you have a combo that is as unusual and unique as the music the band creates. With the combination of alternative, ambient, composer, dubstep, electronic dance music, industrial and a lot more influences blending together with references to Extraterrestrial life, the entire concept of the band’s music fits into what they call Dark Alien Pop. Not only is that a good description of the ensemble’s sound, it also happens to be the title for the band’s first album of music.

Dark Alien Pop from gloryBots beings with the track “Entanglement”. The track begins with the light feel of Ambient music with some EDM thrown in for the beat. The inclusion of some Industrial music also adds body to the music. When every musical influence comes together, what is produced is a track that brings to mind New Wave influences and Industrial music blended together. Think about the sound of Bauhaus and a light version of Depeche Mode and you get the idea of what “Entanglement” sounds like.

The next track on the album is “Dream About Nothing,” the first track off of the album to be featured as a single. This track is the first of many songs on the release that feels completely different from the initial track of “Entanglement”. Where “Entanglement” had a slightly dark Industrial feel to it, the song “Dream About Nothing” has more of a lighter musical approach to it. The track features a driving beat that is matched up with a sound that brings out the New Wave feel of the music. In fact, you may even say that the track falls into the category of Dark Wave, a slightly darker style of New Wave music. And while there is that dark tone to the music, the bouncy “pop” feel to the music. The track comes across as a mix of Duran Duran and Depeche Mode, with more emphasis on Duran Duran. The track would have felt right at home during the eighties and the New Wave era of music.

For the track “Syzygy,” Jalal Andre and the rest of gloryBots create a track that would probably be best described as Indie Rock. The track once again features some Industrial feel, some Pop-Rock and other influences that combine together to create a track with an easy pace and light musical delivery. The beginning of the track starts with a lot of industrial noise which lasts for almost a minute before it eventually segues into a more cohesive sound. The title seems rather appropriate as the use of Pop-Rock and Industrial blend their vastly different musical feels into one sound that would easily belong on an Alternative Music radio format.

Having heard the previous tracks that blend together several musical approaches to create one sound, the listener is then exposed to the track “Immolation”. What sets “Immolation” apart from the previous tracks on the release is that this song finds the band creating a sound that borrows mainly from one musical genre- Alternative Rock. In fact, what “Immolation” ultimately brings to mind is the style of a band like U2 or INXS during their times in the nineties. This track from gloryBots stands out because of the straight-forward Alternative approach the band took on it.

Although many of the tracks on the Dark Alien Pop album find gloryBots drawing from many different artists to bring their music to life, with the track “Fire In the Sun,” gloryBots seems to draw from one specific band. With “Fire In the Sun,” the music of the track seems to scream “Depeche Mode”. The Alternative Rock music on the track features the same keyboard/guitar blend that makes Depeche Mode’s music so unique. The drums on “Fire In the Sun” even contain the same organic/synthetic blend that appears in a lot of Depeche Mode’s songs. If you happened to be a fan of Depeche Mode, “Fire In the Sun” will leave you happy.

The track “Le Monde” begins with sounds that would suggest that the band was about to create a track with a large amount of Industrial influence. But just as fast as the noise grabs the listener’s attention, it disappears. What replaces the industrial sounds once the track segues out of the noise is a track of mainly one solo guitar and vocals. The gentle playing of the electric guitar makes the instrument feel almost acoustic in nature as there is a gentle quality to it. The track is split in two parts as the guitar part stops and fades into the distance about ninety seconds in only to begin again with the same gentle, relaxed approach. The second part of the track also features a keyboard that has joined up with the guitar. While the keyboard adds depth to the music, the addition of the instrument does not end up raising the energy level much at all.

The track “Forces” is one of the busier songs on the release. The track begins with a little Industrial feel that segues into a Pop-Rock sound that is very relaxed and laidback. That laidback approach picks up energy and the result is yet another moment that makes the music come across as Indie Rock. The track later returns to the same laidback approach that began the track to help bring the song to an end.

As the listener makes their way through the dozen track that make up the Dark Alien Pop album from gloryBots, they will encounter a lot of different musical approaches throughout the songs. Some of the album contains a great deal of energy, while a lot of it comes with a much more laidback feel. And the various musical elements blend together to create an album that constantly changes. While the members of gloryBots may be rather mysterious, they come together to create an album that proves that the members are all accomplished musicians who know how to perform.

 

The Dark Alien Pop album from gloryBots is still in the middle of being released. The actual release date for the album is still about a week away from the publishing of this review. Stay tuned to the band’s FACEBOOK account to stay updated on the progress of the release. In the meantime, click the link to hear the lead-off single from the Dark Alien Pop album from gloryBots entitled “Dream About Nothing“. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For more information, check out the band’s PR Firm, Whiplash PR. Click on the logo below to visit their site. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories
Reviews and Suggestions

CD Review: The Armory “Rediscover”

Many of today’s rock bands that are out there selling out music venues are filling up those venues and radio airwaves with a pop-inspired style of rock and roll. This pop-based rock is mainly to ensure music sales. Along the way, that pop-based sound replaced the real rock and roll that was being created only fifteen years ago; but every once in a while, you will find a band that still brings the energy that many seem to have lost. One such band that still has that strong rock edge to their music is The Armory.

The Georgia-based band of The Armory is a five-piece musical outfit that is made up of vocalist/guitarist Sean Wheeler, vocalist/bassist Marc Harris, guitarist John Patton, guitarist Ricky Free and drummer Ben Harris. Together, these five musicians are currently creating music that blends together both modern-day rock and roll and rock and roll that contains more of a “pop” feel to it. That interesting mix of the two styles will help keep the radio listeners happy while also giving the fans of more aggressive rock and roll music something to enjoy. That musical mix can be found on the band’s 2014 album entitled Rediscover.

Categories
Features

NXNE Roundup: Damn you, parties, it’s all a blur now!

Another year, another NXNE and yet again, I was a victim to NXNE's most awesome parking lot and rooftop parties. What can I say, free booze, food and live music are the perfect tonic for good times with friends.

I kicked off my NXNE with probably one of my most favourite parties to date. Hosted by Exclaim!, Jagermeister and Sailor Jerry in a random parking lot at the corner of Spadina and College, the combination of Canada's music authority and everyone's favourite drinks was the perfect slur maker.

Categories
Features

Nothing Says ‘Love’ Like a Band Reunion

Nothing makes you wish you could win the lottery, or unexpectedly come into money some other way, like one of your favourite bands reuniting for a show. One of the ones you thought you’d perhaps never get to see live, or never again if you’d already seen them.

There is certainly a benefit of a band reuniting without putting out a new (often disappointing) release. No questioning whether or not to go to the show, worried you’ll have to endure a bunch of shitty new songs in order to hear a few of your old favourites. In addition, there are the likes of Billy Corgan  – expecting fans to be so devoted they won’t ask for the old songs that changed their lives, and reprimanding them when they do. It doesn’t seem like a fair approach somehow, even if the artist cringes at the angsty, earlier chapter of their career.