Wednesday, April 19, 2006


HOUSE OF LORDS ‘World Upside Down’ Frontiers (2006) Frontiers website

House of Lords return with the follow-up to the rather disappointing ‘The Power and the Myth’, a fact which vocalist James Christian wanted to rectify with this release and hence got back with original keyboards wizard Greg Giuffria. The rest of the line-up is completed by Jeff Kent (bass/keys/vocals), Jimi Bell (guitar) and BJ Zampa (drums).
The band have high standards to reach for me as their debut and follow-up ‘Sahara’ are classic albums chock full of melodic hard rock with that pomp edge provided by Greg Giuffria’s keyboards. This album hits those heights and then some! After a suitably grandiose intro full of swirling keys and guitar ‘These Are The Times’ rocks in on a big riff and the distinct vocals of James Christian. There are plenty of good hard rock tunes on here like ‘SOS’ and the superb ‘My Generation’, a homage to the band’s musical heroes. This track features wonderful arrangements and sublime harmonies – it doesn’t get much better than this.
Then of course it wouldn’t be a House of Lords album with some ballads including the title track and ‘Field of Shattered Dreams’ just blows other bands’ ballads out of the water! After a neat acoustic intro the song lifts up in all the right places and again the harmonies hit all the right spots. A special mention to guitarist Jimi Bell, as he fits the HOL sound to a tee – more than a match for Lanny Cordola.
Essential for any fans of the band as they recapture their classic sound but with modern production (everything in its right place and clearly heard). Easily going to be an ‘Album of the Year’ for many.

For fans of…. House of Lords, classic hard rock
Download…just buy the album as it is all good!

MATTHEW SWEET & SUSANNA HOFFS ‘Under the Covers Vol. 1’ Shout Factory (2006) Website

The poptastic talents of Matthew Sweet teams up with Bangles vocalist Susanna Hoffs (they have worked together previously as Ming Tea on the Austin Powers soundtracks) and they cover a collection of their favourite 60’s songs. Joining them is Beach Boys collaborator Van Dyke Parks on keyboards and strings.
Where to start? Well how about with album highlights ‘Monday Monday’ which sounds even better than the Mamas and Papas original! Matthew Sweet as his surname suggests has a very high, sweet vocal tone that combines well with Hoffs. Love’s ‘Alone Again Or’ will delight your ears (very reminiscent of the Thorns or Shaw/Blades although obviously this one has female vocals as well). They do ‘rock out’ though with Neil Young’s ‘Cinnamon Girl’ and ‘Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere’. As befits the pairs vocal talents there get a chance to harmonize on the Beach Boys ‘Warmth of the Sun’.
Fantastic album that just shows that classic songs can stand the test of time and of course that Sweet and Hoffs make a great team. Even better as the title of the album suggests this is just volume one so there is more to follow!

For fans of…. Matthew Sweet, the Thorns, Shaw/Blades, harmony led music
Download…Monday Monday, Alone Again Or, Cinnamon Girl


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