Autograph will be well known to a lot of melodic rock and metal fans for their 80s albums ‘Sign In Please’ and ‘Loud & Clear’. Their single ‘Turn Up The Radio’ was a moderate hit in the US, appearing on MTV and hitting the Billboard Hot 100, which very much helped them have their fifteen minutes of hard rock fame on home turf. Despite not having the same levels of worldwide success as other big haired rockers, the Autograph name has always seemed to hold a fair amount clout, especially retrospectively.
The Vice Rags’ 2017 EP, ‘Hope The Neighbours Are Lookin’’, was a wonderfully raucous affair. Its five songs drew from a few classic styles, taking in some full throttle garage rock (‘Shut Up & Love Me’), overdriven rock ‘n’ roll (‘Out On The Street’), and even massive love for The Replacements (‘One Heart’), each track cutting loose in a superbly trashy style. Their self-penned material showed a lot of spark, but it was a supercharged garage punk rendition of Little Richard’s ‘Lucille’ that suggested that this was a band who’d be able to go all out on their follow up release.
Hailing from India, About Us play a variety of rock styles, but often centre their songs around hard edged melodic rock with proggy flourishes. Despite their desire to give AOR a kick, the proggy moments won’t be enough to win over the average prog fan, and might be a little distracting for the melodic rock purist. However, if you’re able to get your head around their sometimes very busy and occasionally quirky sound, their debut album presents some very strong melodies and great songs.
In terms of “supergroups”, Snakecharmer’s first line up was hard to beat. Centring around ex-Whitesnake members Micky Moody (guitar) and Neil Murray (bass), the band immediately came with a solid, classic rock sound that would be partially indebted to their formative years with David Coverdale, but – as was proven by their debut album – they relied far less on nostalgia than their earlier vehicle The Company of Snakes. Much of Snakecharmer’s superior sound not only came from stronger songwriting, but also the presence of vocalist Chris Ousey (ex-Virginia Wolf/Heartland), a man blessed with the kind of range capable of tackling almost everything with ease.
Ruby The Hatchet made their first inroads into a recording career with the self-released ‘Ouroboros’ in 2012. Aside from the occasional one line hook, the DIY recording captured the raw talents of a brilliant stoner rock/deep psych band. With riffs heavily indebted to Kyuss’ majorly influential bottom end noise and Black Sabbath’s doomy origins, the band immediately had a strong musical root, but in vocalist Jillian Taylor it was clear they had something very special. Taylor’s clear and strong delivery always gave the music a melodic edge that other doomy bands didn’t always have. Even at such an early stage, her clean, crying style often lent the material a brilliantly haunting feel that would be hard to beat.