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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: 

 

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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. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Reviews and Suggestions

CD Review: The Alarm “Equals”

Every so often there comes a band that should be a lot larger popularity-wise than they are. This is a band that has been around a long time but has not gained the popularity they truly deserve. One particular band out there right now that could be described this is the Welsh Rock and Roll band called The Alarm.

It was back in 1981 that Mike Peters and the rest of the band formed the band called The Alarm. That band came to be after the previous group called The Toilets came to an end. With The Toilets, the music was more Punk-based. That sound and style changed with the founding of the band called The Alarm.

As a band, The Alarm combined some New Wave elements and Rock and Roll elements to form the basis of the band’s sound. What resulted is a sound that is rather similar in some ways to the styles of bands like INXS or U2. During the time the band was together, they enjoyed a certain amount of popularity, although that popularity never quite hit here in the states. However, for those who know the band, The Alarm is known for such songs as “Rain in the Summertime,” “Spirit of ’76,” “Rescue Me,” and the song that made the most noise for the band, “Sixty Eight Guns“. 

Throughout the history of the band, The Alarm had three separate time periods, taking a few years off here and there. The last time the band had been together was back in 2010. The band took some time off until lead singer Mike Peters regained the desire to perform with his band mates after spending some time as the frontman of the Scottish band Big Country where Peters filled in for deceased guitarist and lead singer Stuart Adamson who took his own life back in 2001. As the fill-in for Adamson, Mike Peters gained a desire to put his own band back together again and the band of The Alarm reunited and have since released several new albums of music.

In total, The Alarm has released in excess of fifteen albums. They have also released several versions of a Greatest Hits collection from the band that adds to the number of releases in the band’s discography. In fact, the band just recently added yet another album to their impressive discography of music. The newest album from The Alarm is entitled Equals.

Equals from The Alarm begins with the song “Two Rivers”. With this track, the band finds itself going back to the early days of its existence as the music in this song is a combination of both New Wave and Alternative. The track begins with a sound that would have been right at home on radio back in the eighties during the original phase of New Wave music. The keyboards on the track bring to mind the early days of bands like OMD or Depeche Mode. The New Wave feel is soon joined up by an musical influence that brings to mind the early days of Alternative Rock. The two styles combine in this track to create a track that truly feels more commercial than either of the styles on their own. The lyrics to “Two Rivers” deal with two people who have gone their separate ways because of a disagreement. Mike Peters sings of hoping that the two people will get back together where the “two rivers meet” so that they can work things out. The track “Two Rivers” feels very welcome in a time of strong uncertainty in the world.

It is with the first single off of the release that the Equals album from The Alarm continues. That song is entitled “Beautiful”. While much of the band’s earlier music contained a New Wave flavor to it, this track seems to find the band firmly embracing the feel of Alternative Rock. As a matter of fact, the song not only contains and Alternative feel, the track’s sound brings to mind some of the heavier work from the band U2. And while there is a certain amount of U2 influence to the music of the track, “Beautiful” contains a driving feel to the music that gives the song more of a Rock and Roll feel to the music than Pop-rock feel that is usually found on that other band’s music. “Beautiful” has a strong musical approach that would fit right in on any Top 40 radio format.

With the next track, Mike Peters and company create a track with the help of British musician and lead guitarist of the band The Cult, Billy Duffy. The track “Coming Backwards” takes the band’s music in a slightly retro feel. The resulting track features a sound that brings to mind the Power Rock music from the eighties. In fact, “Coming Backwards” would easily have fit on radio back in the eighties. For today’s music scene, the track has enough of a current feel to it that the track comes across as timeless. The lyrics to “Coming Backwards” deal with doing the same thing over and over again. The track ends up being one of the stronger tracks on the release.

The song “Transatlantic” features a sound that makes use of musical influences found back in the nineties. The track’s Rock and Roll approach combines the feel of the band U2 with that of earlier music from The Alarm. The musical blend on the track would fit right in with musical from either band. The track deals with someone in a long distance relationship. The lyrics deal with the singer missing someone on the other side of the world. This track is perfect for anyone who is currently missing someone who is far away from them.

Taking the music in a slightly different direction, the song “Thirteen Dead Reindeer” features an Alternative Rock feel with plenty of electronica influence thrown in. The result is a song that that has a strong beat to it as well as a driving feel to the pace of the music. The track’s sound falls somewhere between modern and slightly retro. The lyrics to the track deal with the senseless killing of animals and the fallout that happens afterward.

For two tracks on the band’s newest album, The Alarm create songs that deal with conflict. With the song “Neutral,” Mike Peters sings about not wanting to get involved with other people’s problems. At the same time, the track “Cenotaph” (a word that describes an empty tomb) deals with getting ready for the war that is about to start. With the way the world is right now, the two tracks seem to be speaking volumes about the current political atmosphere.

One of the more unusual tracks (for both the album and the band itself), “Hell Fire” is a track that truly separates itself from the rest of the album. The track contains a style of Rock and Roll and a lyrical content that combine to create track that Trent Reznor from Nine Inch Nails would be proud of. In fact, the track’s Nine Inch Nails sound only helps to point out that Mike Peters’ writing has been shaped by many different influences.

Mike Peters has really picked up a lot of different musical influences over the years. Those influences have helped to shape Equals from The Alarm. The ever-changing sound and feel of each of the tracks as well as the talents from the rest of the band have combined to create a release that features a musical sound that never really stays in one place. That ever-changing style on the album is sure to please any lover of Rock and Roll music.

The Alarm is currently promoting their new album called Equals. To help promote the new album, the band has released the song “Beautiful”. Click HERE to check out the video to “Beautiful”.

To check out the newest album from The Alarm called Equals, click on the album cover below: