Strange Majik’s 2016 album ‘Raised On Rock ‘n’ Roll’ played like the ultimate good time record. Its combination of rock, blues and soul vibes sounded like the aftermath of years spent absorbing all the great records of the seventies. It was the kind of record that would’ve been impossible to follow straight away, so David Pattillo and his band took a sidestep. Two EPs released in 2017 fused the Majik sound with something moodier and the results presented the world with some politically charged lyrics – only fitting considering the state of the US at the time they were written.
Based between London and Norwich, Millie Manders and The Shutup are a cross genre punk/rock/ska band who’s main aim is to hit their audience with big riffs and a bigger attitude. They’re one of those bands that seemingly never stops touring but, naturally, the hard yards put in on stage have made them tighter and tougher with the passing of time. Their 2018 EP ‘Shut Up’ showcases a variety of styles and moods from within the band’s musical canon, but still sounds remarkably coherent. This has much to do with Millie’s big voice – she has a definite presence, even on record – but it’s also down to some great brass; whether delving into straight ska or sounds of a more crossover variety, the horns sound huge throughout.
Sweden’s City Maze are a rock band featuring members who’ve had prior links with Melody Fields and Blisterhead. Their 2018 EP ‘Lifestyle’ features four songs that sit somewhere between radio friendly 90s styled rock and the gently alternative. There’s nothing edgy or challenging about their sound, but given Sweden’s track record for great music, it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to expect, say, something relatively enjoyable. What actually transpires is a lumpen Weezer-obsessed trudge through four songs that don’t deserve being heard more than twice.
The work of producer/multi-instrumentalist Michel Simons and multi-instrumentalist Adrian Jones, Jet Black Sea was originally conceived as a side project to Jones’s prog rock band Nine Stones Close. A vehicle for experimentation, their debut release ‘The Path of Least Existence’ mixed elements of prog rock, ambient music, electronica and post rock with fantastic results. A follow-up ‘Absorption Lines’ was almost five years in the making. Absorbing more mellow prog rock sounds than before – presumably since Nine Stones Close had, by that time, veered towards a more prog metal sound on their 2016 LP ‘Leaves’ – the album was well received among online prog fans.
During the first half of the 80s, REO Speedwagon were one of the bands who really helped define the sounds of the decade’s melodic rock. Along with Journey and Survivor, the band became US radio staples and their ‘Hi Infidelity’ and ‘Good Trouble’ albums sold in huge numbers. The REO story started much earlier, however, and before arriving at their signature sound on 1978’s ‘You Can Tune A Piano, But You Can’t Tuna Fish’, the band honed their craft across a series of albums that dabble in different styles of rock, featuring a succession of different vocalists. This comprehensive box set tells the formative REO story, presenting each of the early albums with a smattering of bonus tracks.