When a band gets billed as “nuclear sludge”, there’s a hint that their sound will be a teensy bit on the heavy side, but Miton Keynes duo Tuskar take the very notion of heavy and throw it out of the window.
In 2017, Justine and The Unclean made an impact on the power pop and pop-punk scenes with their debut release ‘Get Unclean’. The album didn’t especially break new ground, but between its instant hooks and Justine Covault’s sassy vocals, it didn’t take long for the songs to stick. The album also showed a strong musical talent in mixing bits of punk, power pop, classic rock and even the occasional metal riff together, creating something very potent.
Utilising the “mini album” format – a very 80s trait, but it was good enough for Billy Bragg and it certainly works for Justine – ‘Heartaches & Hot Problems’ values quality over quantity at just six songs and, as you’d hope, there are at least a couple of killer hooks to be found within the all too spritely seventeen minutes.
When the Graham Bonnet Band’s 2017 tour reached Japan, something unexpected happened. In addition to the standard band shows promoting the then current album ‘The Book‘, three more shows took place where bassist Beth-Ami Heavenstone stood aside and ex-Alcatrazz man Gary Shea performed. Those shows, performed under the Alcatrazz name, celebrated that band’s short career with its many hits and misses. Almost as an important a time in Bonnet’s past as his all too short-lived tenure with Rainbow, Alcatrazz remain a much loved band – especially in Japan – so it was only right the shows were recorded for later release.
When they unleashed their debut ‘All The Way’ in 2014, Scandinavian melodic rockers State of Salazar released one of the year’s best albums. With some great choruses and tunes that often paid a massive homage to the mighty Toto, the band hit upon a classic retro style that really tapped into the Swedes’ knack for a melody. The next couple of years came and went. The more time passed, the more it felt like there would never be a follow up.
A four year silence was finally broken in September 2018. First, the band announced they’d be appearing at the Frontiers Rock Sweden festival with label mates Eclipse and Crazy Lixx, but better still, a digital single ‘If You Wait For Me’ appeared on YouTube. Not only were State of Salazar back, but it seemed they were about to make a real impact within the AOR community.
Credited as playing “unapologetic rock ‘n’ roll”, on their 2018 EP ‘Hot Trash’, Sydney’s Fox Company certainly bring an impressive amount of swagger. They often favour loving homages to the past within their music, but they’ve obviously decided there would be no point in messing with an established formula. That seems quite sensible when the 70s and 90s rock styles are as brilliantly played as they are here.