SONS OF APOLLO–former Dream Theater members Mike Portnoy and Derek Sherinian, Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal (ex-Guns N Roses), Billy Sheehan (The Winery Dogs, Mr. Big, David Lee Roth) and Jeff Scott Soto (ex-Journey, ex-Yngwie Malmsteen’s Rising Force)–are ready to ring in the new decade with a sonic boom with their second studio album, appropriately titled, ‘MMXX’ (pronounced: 20/20).
Produced by The Del Fuvio Brothers (Portnoy and Sherinian), ‘MMXX’ will be released on the 17th January 2020 via InsideOutMusic/Sony as a standard CD package, Limited Edition 2 CD package (which includes instrumental mixes and a cappella excerpts), 2 LP + CD package, and on all digital formats.
Today they launch the Vicente Cordero-directed video for the albums lead single ‘Goodbye Divinity’. Watch it now here:
Mike Portnoy comments: “From the minute we finished writing Goodbye Divinity, I knew we had our album opener and the first release off the album. I even remember posting on social media how excited I was about the song the day I tracked it!
The song has an immediacy that grabs you right away: great riffs, flashy playing and hooky vocal melodies. All of the elements that make up the SOA sound.
The video was directed by Vicente Cordero who I have now done over 20 music videos with and its look helps catapult the band from the Greek mythological past of the last album into the 21st century with this new album.“
Pre-orders are available from today, with digital pre-orders on iTunes & Amazon receiving an immediate download of ‘Goodbye Divinity’.
Brazilian band AlphaJorge have just released their first full-length album, Storm Ahead, on November 16th.
The band started in 2015 with its main goal being not to have a comfort zone. This can be seen not only in the band’s songwriting, but, especially in their live shows.
AlphaJorge is Arthur Rodrigues (guitar/vocals/keyboards), Nick Medeiros (guitar/backing vocals), Thiago Darós (bass/backing vocals) and Diego Rapoport (drums/backing vocals).
After releasing their first EP, Island House (2017), the band rapidly gained some traction in the local rock scene, playing some of the most important stages in the region. In 2018 One More Day was released as a single, as part of a compilation showcasing some of the local scene’s most prominent bands.
Storm Ahead showcases the band leaving their past blues rock influences aside and embracing progressive rock at last, along with more complex and detailed songwriting.
When playing live, these challenging compositions are enhanced with extended and lively improvisation segments that travel through many different genres, from reggae to blues, from EDM to heavy metal. This, along with everchanging setlists, brings every single AlphaJorge concert a nice dose of unpredictability, making each and every show an unique experience.
“Music is life itself. What would this world be without good music? No matter what kind it is.” – Louis Armstrong.
Sage words from the great Satchmo himself, music is the most life affirming thing there is, it can console you when you are sad and lift you up to the heavens when you are happy, it compliments your moods and makes the world a better place to live in.
French musician Franck Carducci creates music that puts a huge smile on your face, it rocks and it rolls with passion, intensity and not a little humour and The Franck Carducci Band are one of the most incredible propositions in a live setting.
I got to know Franck from his second album, the fantastic Torn Apart, and have been eagerly awaiting the follow up for a few years now.
Finally, here is The Answer and I have been privileged to have this release as my musical companion for quite a while now so do feel I am duly qualified to give my impressions
The CD contains six tracks along with four bonus cuts and sets a fire up your derriere from the first song to the last…
The album opens with Franck in his classic rock persona on the lengthy (Love is) The Answer, like Led Zeppelin got lost in the studio and gatecrashed a Yes recording session. Eight minutes of swirling Hammond organ and mellotron from Olivier Castan combined with some dextrous guitar playing and even some Didgeridoo (yes you read that right!) to leave you with a big slice of pomp and circumstance done in the inimitable way that only Franck can do.
Slave To Rock and Roll is a fantastic hard rock track that puts a huge grin on your face, Christophe Obadia and Steve Marsala trading funky riffs around that ever so cool Hammond sound with Franck’s great vocals aided and abetted by Mary Reynaud’s silken backing. Everything is held together by the powerhouse drumming of Antonino Reina and the wonderful bass from the master himself, throw in a superb solo and it’s damn near perfect.
You, dear listener, then get treated to two songs that can only be described as progressive rock but prog rock that has that particular Carducci tinge to it. Superstar is as 70’s prog as they come, wondrous stories being weaved before your very eyes with Mary’s silken vocals adding an almost elfin feel to things. Wistful and yet with a knowing look as it opens up into something much more compelling and dynamic, an absolute aural treat. The After Effect is much more direct and vibrant, a ying to the previous track’s yang if you like, and feels like a hell for leather, breakneck ride at times (a hugely enjoyable one though!). I get the distinct feeling that the band are having an absolute blast while making this album, the energy and vitality are palpable.
A beautiful piano led composition, The Game of Life lets everyone take a breather after the brilliantly hectic start. Richard Vecchi‘s ivory tinkling and the elegant trumpet playing of Thierry Seneau add to the composed vocal performance that Franck delivers to give a song that oozes class and style.
This album is sounding like Franck has taken Led Zeppelin and Gentle Giant and thrown a bit of Genesis and Jimi Hendrix in the mix too and that is rubber stamped by the brilliant Asylum, a fantastic eleven minutes of progressive rock, hard rock, funk and soul that rocks like a b*tch from beginning to end with the excellent Jimmy Pallagrosi (drums) and Fabrice Dutour (guitar) adding their undoubted chops to the mix. It seriously doesn’t get better than this!
The four bonus track add to the already impressive six songs that make up the main body of this release. The Road to Nowhere is an acoustic sing-along that will undoubtedly become a live favourite and Beautiful Night is a wistful, nostalgic tune that will see the lighters (or mobile phones) come out at live shows. The album then closes out with radio cuts of the first two tracks that end everything rather nicely.
The Answer leaves a huge grin on my face, a highly enjoyable cornucopia of musical delights taking you on an amazing journey through 70’s progressive rock, hard rock, funk and pure rock and roll. Containing some utter Carducci gems, this album just keeps getting better and better with every listen and is by far Franck’s most cohesive and impressive work yet.
Curated by Tim Bowness,Worlds Of Yesterday is Moonshot‘s first official compilation since Shot Hits in 1979.
From the Crimson-esque grandeur of The Sweetest Bitter Pill to the straightforward beauty of Before That Before, via the warped creativity of Lost In The Ghost Light and the engaging Pop of Stupid Things That Mean The World, WOY contains the band’s strongest work from 1971-1992.
Though Moonshot may not have reached the commercial and creative peaks of celebrated Progressive peers such as Genesis, Pink Floyd, Yes and King Crimson, they were arguably one of the best of the chasing pack and fully deserve to be named alongside the likes of Gentle Giant, Camel, Greenslade, The Yorkshire Parkin Experiment, BJH, Gryphon, PFM, Prawn, Ange and others.Worlds Of Yesterday is a fine testament to a fine band.
The album is available from Plane Groovy Records and includes the bands’ hit singles Before That Before and Stupid Things That Mean The World.
“My 2017 release Lost In The Ghost Light was a homage to the classic Rock album era. The album revolved around my interpretation of the contemporary musings of Moonshot leader Jeff Harrison, though the events in the songs took place between 1967 and 2017. During this period, Rock music had gone from a revolutionary force that defined the zeitgeist to the exact opposite (a safe and nostalgic reminder of a better time). Jeff’s career was of interest to me because he came from my home town and was born on the same date as me in exactly the same place (Victoria Park Maternity Home in Warrington as I’m sure you’re eager to know). It was 16 years earlier, but how could I not be curious?“, says Tim Bowness.
“In the 1970s and 1980s, there were no local musicians of note from the area, so (in both a good and a bad way) Jeff became something of a home town legend regularly played by DJs such as The Longford Lover.” Tim carries on to say.
“On a personal level, I was interested in how Jeff and Moonshot had been passionately principled for its first 10 years, but seemed a little exhausted and compromised from that point on. Where did the inspiration / drive go? How was all relevance and credibility lost? Why did Jeff make the career choices he did?”
The Moonshot album will be available via Burning Shed and will come with a free download of the album plus extra tracks. Details of the extras will be confirmed closer to the release date, pre-order at the link below.
SONS OF APOLLO – former Dream Theater members Mike Portnoy and Derek Sherinian, Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal (ex-Guns N’ Roses), Billy Sheehan (The Winery Dogs, Mr. Big, David Lee Roth) and Jeff Scott Soto (ex-Journey, ex-Yngwie Malmsteen’s Rising Force)–are ready to ring in the new decade with a sonic boom with their second studio album, appropriately titled, ‘MMXX’ (pronounced: 20/20).
Produced by The Del Fuvio Brothers (Portnoy and Sherinian), ‘MMXX will be released on the 17th January 2020 via InsideOutMusic/Sony as a standard CD package, Limited Edition 2 CD package (which includes instrumental mixes and a cappella excerpts), 2 LP + CD package, and on all digital formats. Pre-orders for all formats will be available starting November 15th, which will include an instant download of the album’s first single, ‘Goodbye Divinity,’ on iTunes and Amazon.
A teaser trailer was released on Inside Out’s official YouTube page here
“Stylistically, we have followed the same path as the debut,” outlines drummer Mike Portnoy. “But we feel that it has come out stronger, simply because we know one another better. ‘PSYCHOTIC SYMPHONY’ was the first time the five of us had worked together, so there was bound to be an air of experimentation happening. Now, we can draw on having the experience not only of recording that album, but also of touring together a lot. And now there is clearly a lot more obvious chemistry going on.”
“We did 83 shows on the last tour,” adds keyboardist Derek Sherinian. “And it was so worthwhile, because we came out of it with a stronger bond, and that is certainly reflected in what we wrote.”
The writing process began at the start of the year, as Portnoy, Sherinian and guitarist Ron ‘Bumblefoot’ Thal got together. “The three of us were at my home studio in Pennsylvania,” explains Portnoy. “And it took about three weeks to get all the music written. That was a very smooth process. The last time, it certainly must have felt a little weird for Bumblefoot to be writing with Derek and me, because we were strangers to him. Now, we know one another better and that helped things push along.”
“Because we all have our home studios, it meant everyone could record there as and when they had opportunity,” continues Sherinian. “We all had the luxury of being able to take our time to get all the parts done, which was a huge help in the way the album’s come out. I suppose in all, it took about eight months to record everything.”
The lyrics were written by Soto, who also came up with the melody lines with input from Sherinian. “While Jeff was left to come up with the words on his own, as the melody lines are part of the music, it made sense for me to be involved with that part,” says the keyboard player.
There are eight tracks on ‘MMXX’, with variations in length totalling 60 minutes. “The final song is ‘New World Today, which is 16 minutes long,” says Portnoy. “This one has elements similar to ‘Opus Maximus’ and ‘Labyrinth’ on the previous album. It has some insane, brilliant instrumental moments, which I am sure the fans will love.”
“We wanted to do something epic here, as we did with ‘Opus Maximus’ last time around,” adds Sherinian. “You have to remember that Mike and I come from Dream Theater, where we never bothered about how long a song was. So, for us doing a 16 minute track is not a problem.”
Here’s the track listing for MMXX: 1. Goodbye Divinity (7:16)
2. Wither To Black (4:48)
3. Asphyxiation (5:09)
4. Desolate July (6:11)
5. King Of Delusion (8:49)
6. Fall To Ascend (5:07)
7. Resurrection Day (5:51)
8. New World Today (16:38)
The album title was inspired by a simple chronological fact. “This will be released in mid-January 2020,” says Portnoy. “That means it will be one of the first releases in what is a new decade. So I came up with the idea of calling it ‘2020,” except having it written in the Latin form of ‘MMXX’.”
And the album’s artwork has been created by Thomas Ewerhard (who was responsible for the cover design of ‘PSYCHOTIC SYMPHONY’), which inevitably reflects the title.
As Portnoy explains, “For the first record, we had a mythological feel. This time around though, there’s a much more futuristic style to what we’ve got. It has a very 21st century appeal. And the band crest is more polished, cleaned up and a lot more modern than last time, when it had an old fashioned look.”
“Each member of this band has their own signature sound on their instrument,” adds Sherinian. “And when you put all of this together what you get is a wonderful five-headed beast. It makes this a sonically special band, which is definitely what comes across on ‘MMXX’. You can hear odd time signatures and amazingly crazy performances here. Overall, we’ve been satisfyingly more adventurous this time than we were before, and I know people are sure to love what we’ve done.”
In touring news, the band’s headlining ‘MMXX World Tour’ will launch January 24th in Pomona, CA, USA and will take them around the world throughout the new year. They have also just announced European tour dates for March 2020, and you can find those below: Europe 2020 Mon 2nd March Drammen, Norway Union Scene
Tue 3rd March Gothenburg, Sweden Traedgarn
Thu 5th March Kyiv, Ukraine N.A.U Theatre
Sat 7th March Moscow, Russia RED
Sun 9th March St Petersburg, Russia Aurora
Tue 10th March Pratteln, Switzerland Z7
Wed 11th March Milan, Italy Live Club
Fri 13th March Bilbao, Spain Santana 27
Sat 14th March Barcelona, Spain Razzmatazz 2
Sun 15th March Madrid, Spain La Riviera
Thu 19th March London, U.K. Islington Assembly Hall
Fri 20th March Eindhoven, Netherlands Prognosis Festival