Darlinghurst have created a fresh sound in the Australian country sphere that’s as accessible as it is unique. Grounded in refined song writing, with a keen ear for melody, relatable lyricism and some exceptional musical performances, the band has a broad appeal that has been reflected in the success of Darlinghurst’s releases to date. Over the past two years the band has released four songs getting to No #1 the Music Network Countrytown HOT 50 chart, and this is the debut album, 2 years in the making.
Coming off their most successful album yet, Paradigm (which includes the massive single Viva La Victoria with 15 million streams and counting), Sweden’s Eclipse are back with their new studio album Wired.
Mercury Nashville’s newest band, Boy Named Banjo, released their new EP, Circles, on August 27th having supported Brothers Osborne, and then immediately played a sold-out show at the Ryman with The Cadillac Three. American Songwriter describes the project as, “Marrying a myriad of influences within the country / bluegrass / folk realm, Nashville-based quintet Boy Named Banjo sets an energetic pace for their forthcoming major-label debut
This record is hard to describe, and impossible to pigeonhole – Crazy, Eclectic, Uplifting and Fabulous all in the one release!
There is more crossover here than in an underground record store after an earthquake, with Blues, Soul, Funk, Grunge, Gospel, Reggae and straight ahead Rock’n’Roll blended into an infectious groove-laden melange of old school roots, blues and rock.
Fabrizio “Fab” Grossi is a bass-player and producer first and foremost, and is probably best known for his work with Supersonic Blues Machine (with hris Barras, Kenny Aronoff and a cast of legends), Starbreaker (with Tony Harnell), and Goodfellas (with Steve Lukather) as well as all the production work for Frontiers Records in Italy (Glenn Hughes, James Christian, Robin Beck, House of Lords and Dave Navarro among others). He has also worked with Billy Gibbons, Pat Travers, Steve Vai, Alice Cooper, Eric Gales, and the man who brought the funk, George Clinton and his Parliament Funkadelics, and is currently producing Gary Clark Jr, Aaron Keylock and Susan Santos.
WICKED SMILE WAIT FOR THE NIGHT Released – Sept 24th 2021
Melbourne-based heavy rock band Wicked Smile is made up of 5 stalwarts of the Australian hard rock scene, fronted by charismatic powerhouse lead vocalist Danny Cecati (ex Pegazus & Eyefear) with Stevie Janevski (The Radio Sun, ex Black Majesty & Cyclone Tracy) and Dave Graham (ex In Malice’s Wake) on guitars, Glen Cav (ex Virtue) on bass and Jason Tyro on drums.
The debut EP, featuring Stevie J and Danny, backed by Paul Laine on bass, was released in 2020 and garnered some really positive responses from the underground rock and metal communities in Australia and over in the UK, where the band is tied up with the NWOCR crew, and performed at one of their excellent Webfest events.
The new album, Wait For The Night, again produced by Paul Laine (The Defiants & Danger Danger), kicks off with an absolute ripper in Date With The Devil, which has a killer riff, powerful rhythm superb lead breaks, and shows Danny’s vocal range to be pretty impressive – from a low throaty roar to soaring highs, with a lot of Bruce Dickenson and Rob Halford in the mix. Daze of Delirium was on the EP, and delivers a solid punch from the crushing guitars, but has a really catchy harmony chorus that my EP review compared to a cross between Backyard Babies and Reckless Love, hard, heavy and melodic at the same time.
Acoustic guitars and atmospheric keyboards open up Don’t Wait For Me, and sees Danny with a pure, clear vocal that spans several octaves and hits some impressive highs. The expectation builds through the song as you think it is going to explode, and sure enough the power ramps up as the solo erupts, leading into a true power-ballad for the final chorus, and then slowly fades back out as it started.
There is a more melodic rock feel to the next two tracks without losing the heaviness of the band’s overall sound. Killer At large sees some superb drumming from Jason, and a searing lead break from Stevie prior to each verse, in which Danny absolutely nails the vocals. If you love your Skid Row, Danger Danger and Dio then this band will hit a few of your hot buttons. The opening riffs to Last Goodbye are typical of the band’s sound, with a Randy Rhoads guitar feel, and a wall of harmony vocals that contribute to the immense sound. Stevie and Dave share the guitar heroics here, and the thought if this one being played live makes the mouth water. The ending is just awesome!
I assume the guys have re-recorded Love’s Got A Hold On You from the EP, and this still sounds huge, with the slightly menacing tone of the verse over the solid riff, before the superb pre-chorus and then the massive hook-line in the chorus that brings in hints of 1987-era Whitesnake, and a delightful harmony guitar break that leads into the final refrain and a reprise of that killer riff under Danny’s howls!
The beginning of Sign of Times provides an absolutely devastating riff from Stevie – very Jake E Lee or Vivian Campbell from those early Dio days, and Danny gives a barnstorming performance on lead vocals here, and the chorus is pure 1980’s melodic heavy rock. Solid bass and drums from Glen and Jason provide the piledriving foundations, and then Stevie opens up restrained but powerful solo that really shows off his dexterity and skill.
From the first seconds of Stronger you just know that this is going to be a crowd-pleaser, with a ball-tearing riff, enormous vocals, and then the catchiest chorus on the record with some epic backing harmonies. This takes me back to the likes of White Lion, Valentine and Hurricane – great melodic hard rock bands of the late 80’s and early 90’s, and Wicked Smile do this in style. The title track, Wait For The Night has another of those riffs, some harmony lead breaks, and a tour-de-force vocal performance from both Danny, and the backing in the chorus. The band are on fire from start to finish, lead guitars tracking the lead vocal melody, and bass and drums smashing out the accents.
Album-closer is another riff-fest and the opening passage is the most brutal thing the band has ever done. Danny’s opening vocals are dark and brooding, and the chorus keeps the malevolent feeling, while providing another example of a hugely contagious hook-line. We Fall is a killer track to end on, with a mid-section that sees the guitars let rip before diving back into a pre-chorus and chorus that showcase Danny’s almost operatic vocal style – so powerful and strong, with such clarity of tone that is quite unusual in the modern rock world. He also has the longest hair in the world!
I said in the EP review that there is nothing much totally new in the rock music world, and that remains true, however the Australian rock scene has generated a fairly small number of high-quality melodic hard rock albums – Roxus, BB Steal, Ragdoll, Electric Mary and Dellacoma all spring to mind, along with Stevie’s other band The Radio Sun. Wicked Smile have added a new dimension to this group, with a heavier tone, without abandoning the melodic sound that runs through the whole record. This band deserves to get some much wider exposure in the UK, Europe and USA when we are all allowed out again!
ROBERT JON & THE WRECK SHINE A LIGHT ON ME BROTHER Release Date – 3rd September 2021
Last Light on the Highway was one of my absolute favourite reviews of 2020, and the band one of the many great discoveries of the year, so it was terrific to find a new album on the horizon from Robert Jon & The Wreck, country blues-jam rockers from Southern California.
This is Australian country music at its very finest – a truckload of great songs delivered by the larger than life epitome of the genre in Jayne Denham – outdoing JBJ doing his outlaw cowboy rock in style and quality both!
The title track, Wanted, co-written with Matt Scullion and Tory Kemp, has a great video to go with it, and this was the inspiration behind the country-rock and western theme to the whole album.
KOLBY COOPER THE BOY FROM ANDERSON COUNTY – EP Released – August 2021 BBR MUSIC GROUP
Only three years out of high school, still living in his small East Texas hometown, twenty-one year old Kolby Cooper started selling out shows and clocking millions of streams using only his songs as muscle, earning streaming numbers typically reserved for household names. Amassing over 120 million on-demand streams to date, Cooper’s first EP as a signed artist, Boy From Anderson County, is out now via BBR Music Group / Wheelhouse Records in partnership with Combustion Music.
The scorching six-pack of tracks is doused in Kolby’s signature wailing guitar riffs, rough-hewn vocals full of conviction, flaming high-energy instrumentals and overly relatable lyrics from his rebel-rooted Lonestar State background.
The upcoming EP Bastette Exposed was recorded at the Lounge Recording Studio in Wigan with producer Gareth Nuttall (Frank Turner). Taking influence from the Pretty Reckless, Halestorm and Starbenders among others, and fronted by Caroline Eve Kenyon who has more Amy Lee about her than Alissa White Gluz.
TROY REDFERN – The Fire Cosmic Released – August 6th RED7 Records
Blues-rock guitarist, singer- songwriter and dubbed Britain’s “King of Slide Guitar” Troy Redfern has produced an exceptional new album in The Fire Cosmic laden in layers of slide guitar and acoustic resonator sounds – raunchy, sleazy vintage blues rock.
BERNIE MARSDEN –KINGS Released – 23rd July 2021 Conquest Records
Guitar legend Bernie Marsden will be releasing his brand-new album Kings through Conquest Music, on 23rd July, 2021 – his first solo album in 7 years, and it’s sure to delight his fans and lovers of blues, rock and more besides. This is the first of a planned series of albums in the “Inspirations” series, conjured up by Bernie in conversation with Billy Gibbons.
Founded back in the pre-COVID era in South London, Last Of The Misfit Heroes are a three-piece alt-rock / rock / punk band with a bit of swagger and a whole heap of attitude.
They released a 4-track EP in April 2020, and through the whole pandemic era have worked on this full-length record, Hope For The Hopeless, which includes the four tracks from the EP and 6 new songs – in much the same vein.
MIRANDA EASTEN BEHIND UNBROKEN STRINGS Released – May 21st
Following the success of singles Cowboy Lullaby and the super-catchy Country Boy across Australia and USA, Christchurch’s Miranda Easten is releasing her long awaited debut album Behind Unbroken Strings. The collection proves that she is a master of twang and a face of modern country music.