Artists and Bands

Harry Hess talks about his new musical endeavour, First Signal, the end of Harem Scarem, and … bacon

Harry Hess, the powerhouse vocalist behind Harem Scarem, one of Canada’s most acclaimed hard rock outfits, is back with a vengeance singing for First Signal. The new studio project finds him paired with Dennis Ward and a dream team of other songwriters and players.  We had the honor of having Harry take a few moments to answer some questions for The Rock and Roll Report!

Q: Like many other fans of Harem Scarem, I was really disappointed to hear the band broke up. What were some of the reasons for ending the many productive years with Harem Scarem to open up this exciting new chapter with First Signal?

A: I felt we were starting to repeat ourselves on our last few records, but, more importantly, it came down to dividing my time between H.S and making other peoples records, and not having enough time to do both properly. I also just signed a publishing deal with Universal Music worldwide as a writer, so I knew that would really limit my time for other things.

Reviews and Suggestions

CD Review: Auras – “New Generation”

Auras - New Generation

Auras is a Brazilian rock band influenced by Journey, Survivor, Toto, and Chicago. They were formed by Gui Oliver (lead vocals) and Ferpa Lacerda (guitars) in 2007, and got to meet their idol Jimi Jamison (Survivor) during a gig they played in their hometown of Curitiba. Jamison remarked that Auras songs took him back to the eighties and the reminded him of the great bands of that period. Just a few songs into “New Generation”, you are undoubtedly going to agree.

Full of songs about love, dreams, faith and hope, Auras are an AOR band to the core. The vocals sound a lot like Steve Perry (Journey), or at least Steve Augeri (Tall Stories, Journey)! Things get off to a great start with a trio of terrific melodic rockers in “Beauty of Dreams”, “Forgive and Forget”, and “Never Give Up”, any of which would have fit comfortably on the Karate Kid Soundtrack. The record then offers a number of good songs, but they just don’t have that something special that made the first three such a treat. A couple exceptions are the excellent “Forever In Your Eyes” and “Keep On Lovin’ You” (not an REO Speedwagon cover). I also really liked the interesting “That’s The Way Love Goes”, which is a unique track on the record serving to break things up to give the listener something a little different. It maintains a good sense of melody but has a marimba flavor that will make you think someone is calling you on your iPHONE.

“New Generation” is a solid debut and I trust that Auras is going to get even better and with time.

iPOD-worthy: 1, 2, 3, 7, 9, 10

Auras on MySpace. Official site.

Artists and Bands

R&RR Takes on Frontiers Records’ Latest Releases

The rise of grunge in the early ’90s catalyzed the demise of many beloved (and equally bemoaned) glam ‘hairbands’. It was a time of bonehead lyrics, ridiculous guitar solos and even more ridiculous outfits, but it was also a time of big fat hooks, sticky melodies and boatloads of harmonies. The songs were “carefree rock” that, in most cases, were just plain fun to listen to. Like them or not, their popularity at the time cannot be denied.

As most of these million-selling artists were suddenly driven from the Billboard charts and shunned by their record labels, a small label called CMC International stepped up to become the afterlife for hairbands. This allowed a handful of them to continue releasing records through the ’90s, but many groups caved to musical fads; attempting to incorporate grunge and alternative rock at the expense of the sugary melodies and easy-to-understand lyrics that had earned them fans in the first place. By the end of the ’90s “big hair rock” was clearly dead and it seemed to have taken AOR with it.

So here we are, ten years on, and we’re seeing new labels like Italy’s Frontiers Records proudly releasing AOR and glam rock like it was still 1989. This is a real treat for those who miss the days of Slaughter, Poison and Warrant, and there is a niche of 30- and 40-somethings that will gladly shell over their cash to hear some new blood bring life back to this genre. Frontiers Records champions new bands that have taken up the glam baton, as well as “classic” bands that are still alive and kickin’, and for this week’s spotlight we delve into some of Frontiers’ latest releases from Keel, Jaded Heart, Wig Wam and Blanc Faces.