Dark Phantom’s beginnings stretch back to 2007, though due to very unsettled political climate in Iraq, the band wouldn’t make any headway until two years later. Their early musical endeavours were met with some hostility in their home country – or they would have been, had they been heard. In the band’s own words, with regard to playing such music: “under an Al Queda controlled situation, death was a consequence.” Still, Dark Phantom toiled, playing cover tunes at first, but eventually crafting their own sounds. Their first gig in their home city of Kirkuk in 2011 attracted a crowd, but also resulted in terror groups attacking the band’s online community. In 2012, they underwent a major line up change as their vocalist and drummer left the band and sought work in other areas “for safety reasons”. To say the journey from band formation to album release was a hard and dangerous undertaking would be an understatement. Against the odds and after years of determination, Dark Phantom finally released ‘Nation of Dogs’ – an album of hard-hitting, self-penned material at the end of 2016.
Fiona Brown is a singer-songwriter songwriter whom – by her own admission – absorbs many influences into her work. On her 2016 EP ‘Demons’, there’s a little rock and pop, nods to things of a more soulful nature and more besides, but never in a way that makes the release sound like a directionless show reel of her talents. She prefers instead not to separate the influences too much. You could experience any one of them at any time and often within just one track. but perhaps best of all, though, her songs are cloaked in a shroud of darkness. Never a “woe is me” self pity, but a genuinely dark quality that informs the heart of her best tunes.
In the latter part of the twentieth century, Great White made a big impression with their brand of hard rock. Adding a bluesy edge or a slightly glammy sensibility to plenty of crunch, the LA band really showed their teeth on their big selling ‘Twice Shy’ and ‘Hooked’ albums in the early 90s and even their lesser known later works had plenty to recommend them.
Russell’s 2002 solo release ‘For You’ found the vocalist branching out and experimenting with a couple of softer styles in places, but was an equally strong demonstration of his talents. Beyond that, Great White worked hard but often failed to reach the same heights and their career was somewhat marred by in-fighting and legal battles over the band name. Great White (fronted by ex-XYZ man Terry Ilous) released the surprisingly good ‘Elation’ in 2012, while Jack Russell’s Great White continued to ply their trade on the live circuit, eventually – and some would say belatedly – releasing ‘He Saw It Coming’ in 2017.
Jim Peterik is a legend. His work on various Survivor albums cements his place in the melodic rock history books, regardless of anything he has written or recorded since the 80s. Tracks like ‘American Heartbeat’, ‘Jackie Don’t Go’, ‘I Can’t Hold Back’ and ‘Poor Man’s Son’ are stone cold classics…and of course, it would take a hard heart not to be amused by the ‘Eye of The Tiger’ video with Survivor attempting to look tough whilst stomping through a warehouse.
Peterik’s post-Survivor projects have, understandably, been less high profile. After all, how can you follow a million selling rock band, radio play and worldwide number one singles?
On the first two Worry Dolls releases, Rosie Jones and Zoe Nichol promised great things. On a pair of self-financed EPs, the duo sounded absolutely captivating with their abilities to write narrative driven songs and perform close harmonies. Hard graft on the live circuit saw them share stages with Cara Dillon, Rachel Sermanni and the legendary Joan Armatrading, as well as many others. Their first full length release promised a much deeper voyage into country music and ‘Go Get Gone’ does not disappoint.