There’s a line in the supporting notes that came with “The Art Of Feeling Blue” that, in a very real way, sums up the essence of this album. “I’m a lifer,” says Bill Bradshaw. “Trends don’t really matter. I’m not chasing commercial success. I want to go deeper, not wider.”

For some of us, music goes deeper than the superficial. That probably explains why the last four songs on this album were finished last year after the death of his wife, to cancer. This album is, of course, in her memory.

Bob Bradshaw’s tenth album, “The Art Of Feeling Blue,” is undeniably one of his best. From the strident rocker “Waiting” — where echoes of Tom Petty can be heard if you listen closely — to the tongue-in-cheek title song, there’s some superb material here. “I Know A Place,” for example, floats effortlessly, carrying you away with it. “Hot In The Kitchen” showcases a full band sound, recorded with some of the best musicians in the Boston scene. On the other hand, “Rosa” delves into Tex-Mex territory, evoking the spirit of a long-lost Calexico song.

One standout moment is the superb guitar solo on “Thought I Had A Problem.” It’s a captivating display of Bradshaw’s skill and adds an extra layer of emotion to the song. The album also boasts a breadth of sounds, ranging from the electronic pulse of “Let Sleeping Dogs Lie” to the folk-infused closer “Stepping Stones.”

As good as this record is — and like all of Bob Bradshaw’s work, it is superb — it’s not just about the individual songs. It’s about the escape that it provides, literally given his plans to perform it live, “The Art Of Feeling Blue” is a cathartic experience that I hope brings Bradshaw the comfort he deserves.

Rating 8/10


As I’ve written before, music is a journey. I am not one for sticking to the same thing again and again. And back in ’96, that road led to indie. Oasis (never Blur, they always felt like Tories to me) and others. Consequently, all my references when it comes to such things are stuck there. I even saw Hurricane #1 back then, in their first incarnation.

Which, when it comes to “Backstage Waiting To Go On,” is useful, in honesty.

Take “Awake At 9”, the opener. If you want to listen to The Stones jamming with Liam Gallagher, then this is your boy. And whilst  this is a very “English” collection, if you will – you can’t hear “Drive All Night” without hearing The Kinks –  “Open Up Your Door” is the jangly of the sort of thing that DMAS are making their own these days.

It might have just clouded over outside, but “I Wonder Why” is the sound of summer nonetheless, while “Some Needed More” is the expansive thing that The Verve might have done. “Why Do You Have To Be So Right” has a debt to pay to The Beatles, but boil it down, and the whole album can be simply summed up by my note for “Tonight”: big, classy, classic-sounding rock ‘n’ roll.

Rating 8/10


Jim Peterik is, let’s be honest, as close to AOR royalty as it gets, so any time he releases a record you know what you’re getting. And the 7th Pride Of Lions album is no different. Peterik has again teamed up with Toby Hitchcock, and the results are….well, devoid of surprises, but classily done.

The album opener, “Blind To Reason,” is the AOR of the open road and wind in your hair as you chase love on the horizon. “My Destiny” is, let’s be honest about this, a little bit Celine Dion, but my goodness Hitchcock can sing. His powerful vocals soar on this track. It’s a testament to his talent.

“Renegade Heart” injects some much-needed energy into the mix. It’s a welcome change of pace from the smoother tracks on the album. “Driving And Dreaming” embraces the most quintessential AOR set of lyrics ever made. However, the standout track on the album is “Everything To Live For.” This song tackles a heavy subject matter, exploring the aftermath of a suicide. Despite the weight of the topic, it is handled with sensitivity and beauty. The emotional depth of the lyrics and the heartfelt delivery make it a poignant and powerful moment on the record.

“Generational” works on the same vibe as FM and the likes. It encapsulates that classic AOR sound, and if you’re a fan of the genre, you’ll find comfort in its familiarity. It’s a solid track that rounds out the album nicely.

Overall, “Dream Higher” sounds exactly like it’s supposed to. Pride Of Lions didn’t set out to make a thrash metal record, and they haven’t. Instead, they’ve crafted an AOR record that is polished to perfection.

Rating 7/10


Whatever the right wing media like to tell you – and it’s their way to divide and rule – there’s more in common than you think. It’s pretty damn cool in my book that over in Hungary, a load of young rockers were listening to Cinderella. At least I assume that’s why Stardust cover “Don’t Know What You Got (Till It’s Gone)” at the end of this, their second album.

They walk their own gypsy road, though, and it’s a particular sort of Euro AOR that greets us on “Kingdom Of Illusion”, one with a bit of gravitas. “War” isn’t too far away from Magnum, while the keyboards of “Sacrifice” are pretty proud of themselves.

This is an album of class, and which follows up on the debut and expands on it. “Heroes” is a decent vehicle for the voice of Adam Stewart, and the piano of “Make Me Feel Your Love” is but a heartbeat away from Heart’s “Alone”, and if occasionally it can get a little “AOR by numbers” if you will, the faithful will lap it up. “Sarah” (not a Thin Lizzy cover) parps like Level 42 and there’s a relaxed vibe.

There’s enough here, however, to convince that Stardust will find a record in the future that befits their name.

Rating 7/10


Since 1989, Norway’s Motorpsycho has been known for defying expectations with their unique sound. However, their latest album, “Yay,” takes a relatively straightforward approach. The band explores an acoustic mood on this record, revealing a different side of their musical journey.

The track “Cold and Bored” feels like an outtake from Woodstock, with unsettling harmonies that evoke a sense of unease. It carries a certain vintage quality, reminiscent of the Manson family era, adding a haunting element to the album.

Moving on to “Dank State,” the band delivers a less eccentric sound, leaning towards the vibes of Blind Melon. The track retains a touch of Motorpsycho’s characteristic quirkiness while showcasing a more accessible and melodic side.

With “Real Again (Norway Shrugs And Stays At Home),” the band addresses the COVID-19 pandemic, capturing a palpable sadness. The song reflects the collective experience of staying home and the emotional toll it takes.

“Hotel Daedalus” marks a shift in the album’s tone, unleashing a full-on prog attack. Motorpsycho delves into complex musical arrangements, showcasing their instrumental prowess and embracing the spirit of progressive rock.

Lastly, “The Rapture” tackles the theme of the end of the world, with a soaring guitar solo as its companion. This track embodies Motorpsycho’s ability to craft epic sonic landscapes, taking listeners on a thrilling journey.

“Yay” represents a departure from Motorpsycho’s recent heavy psychedelic offerings. While still maintaining their signature unpredictability, the album explores acoustic textures, unsettling harmonies, reflections on the pandemic, prog-infused compositions, and a glimpse into apocalyptic themes. It showcases the band’s versatility and their willingness to continually evolve their sound.

Rating 7/10

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