“Jessie’s Girl 2” was released as a standalone single on August 21, 2020 by Coheed and Cambria featuring Rick Springfield.
The original “Jessie’s Girl,” tells the story about jealousy and the song went huge in 1981, turning Springfield into a superstar. And the song is still played today, generating a nice income stream for Springfield or for the Corporation who holds his Copyrights.
Like all hits, it felt that someone should write a sequel.
Enter Coheed And Cambria.
Coheed and Cambria have this power pop rock vibe in their music. So back in 2019, the band was jamming on a riff, when Sanchez sang the melody from “Jessie’s Girl”.
Claude Sanchez said in the press release;
“Has anyone ever written a sequel to another artist’s song?
I don’t think so.
As a fan of movies, it just seemed like a really interesting idea… It’s kind of like a “National Lampoon’s” movie meets “So I Married an Axe Murderer”.
And this also triggered an idea to do a sequel to a famous song, and a grander idea to do an album called “Sequels”. They reached out to Springfield and he was keen to be involved.
This song is from the perspective from “Jessie’s Girl” narrator and things just didn’t turn out the best for him.
While he did get the girl, he regrets it. The girl is out of her mind, has a sinister side as she stalks him and wants to kill him for leaving him, has dirty habits and he regrets burning a friendship to get her.
As I was doing my Super Deluxe pre-order for the new album, I saw the 7 inch vinyl single, so I added it to the cart.
Oh, so I changed my number To 867-5305 That didn’t, that didn’t, that didn’t stop her She wouldn’t let me leave her house alive She’s out of, she’s out of, she’s out of her mind
From Australia. Advertised as Progressive Metal but it’s more like hard alternative rock with some progressive grooves on this album. And I like it.
“I Wonder” came out in October 2020 and I was surprised to learn that it’s their seventh album but my first time listening to them.
For this album Teramaze is Dean Wells on Guitars and Vocals, Andrew Cameron on Bass, Nick Ross on Drums and Chris Zoupa on Guitar.
The term Progressive Rock has a bad concoction these days, associated with a million notes over complex chord changes or in Tool’s case, long laboured grooves that move in and out of time signatures or polyrhythms. But there are a lot of bands that can take it all and make it sound easy, not complex and not too long.
Teramaze is one such band.
Kids noises are heard over an ominous synth riff and then the band crashes in with the lyrics “Children pray, from the ocean floor / Are we too late, to save their lives”.
The lyrics are based on a true story of children gone missing and their bodies been discovered at the bottom of the ocean.
It’s powerful and you need to listen to it.
Especially that “Interstellar” soundtrack influence from 3.17 to 4.06.
The way the songs starts off with the heavy groove riff, just gets the head banging.
By the time the verses come in, it’s slower but still powerful.
The lead break is excellent, emotive.
There’s this section after the solo which has the lyrics “No one will find me, no one will see me / From up above, I’m down below / They watch as they dance around me”. The way it is sung over the music is haunting as it carries the song for the last 2 minutes.
The clean tone arpeggio riff makes me pick up the guitar to learn it.
And the way the Chorus vocal melody with the words “Its so hard to know / If she’ll be waiting forever” is delivered is excellent.
And for styles, it’s more rock than anything else.
“A Deep State of Awake”
The synths start it off before an “Enter Sandman” style groove kicks in with the drums, bass and then guitar.
There are some leads which has the keys and guitar in harmony and it reminds me of Dream Theater “Images And Words” era.
Lyrically I see it as two voices within the same person. One part is delivered aggressively and the other is delivered melodically.
“Here to Watch You”
Especially when Wells sings “The Fearless will construct / Our way all the world will know now”.
My favorite track.
The “Sleeping Man” has a chorus hook of “I’ve awoken the sleeping man inside”. It’s catchy, its hard rock and its perfect.
The keyboard hooks under the melodies are also memorable.
Check out the guitar solo.
Man, this song for the first 90 seconds reminds me of those piano and vocal songs that Evergrey do so well.
After that it becomes a melodic rock song with excellent guitar playing
“Idle Hands / The Devil’s Workshop”
9 minutes long.
Musically and melodically the section in which Wells sings “We spent the time, and wasted it all most every year / And there is nothing left to follow” is excellent.
At 3.30, a lead break kicks in. It’s emotive and one of the best I’ve heard recently.
The section after it with the lyrics; “You never run it together / You never stopped the war / If only you could’ve chosen me / What life would have in store” is almost Daughtry like in delivery.
At 5.12 it’s just piano, playing the chords and vocal melody.
Then the vocals come in with the acoustic guitar. It builds up again to the “You never run it together / You never stopped the war” part again.
The last 90 seconds has double kick, fast melodic guitar leads and the only thing I can do is press play again and devote another 9 minutes of my time to the song.
“This Is Not a Drill”
Musically this song reminds of bands like Haken and Tesseract.
I see the world has changed Theres nothing left to gather now I feel the world has fallen Tomorrow, may never come again..
We’re waiting for the cure Assured it’s on the horizon Pandemic fabrication The lies insure well never know again..
I wonder what they’re singing about. And for everyone the world did change. People died, relationships ended, how we did things changed, flying and travel ceased and a lot of careers ceased to be.
At the 5 minute mark, the section that comes in reminds me of “Home” by Dream Theater.
To find someone to love, whatever.
That’s all we want in the end.
At 8 minutes and 40 seconds it never got dull or boring.
The way this song builds and is constructed is excellent.
Check out the Chorus with its symphonic and anthemic melody, especially when Wells is singing “We’re here tonight, you’re never gonna see me alone / we feel alive, I’m never gone make it”.
The “I watch them killing you slowly” section reminds me of Muse.
At about 5.10 some intricate playing happens but it’s all still accessible and sing along like.
And the lead break is excellent.
By the end of it, each track left something behind with me.
And from reading some of the reviews, this is the first album in a while which features lead vocals from band leader and guitarist Dean Wells. And I’m like, “why didn’t he sing on all the albums?”. His voice needs to be heard.
Check it out.
And don’t let the progressive tag turn you off some great Rock and Metal.
For single song releases, System Of A Down released “Protect The Land” and “Genocidal Humanoidz” as their response to Azerbaijan and Turkey’s bombing of an Armenian settlement inside Azerbaijan called Nagorno-Karabakh, which the Armenians call Artsakh.
The Night Flight Orchestra released their retro classic rock Christmas song in “Paper Moon”.
Machine Head released “My Hands Are Empty”.
And a lot of artists dropped new albums in November.
Stan Bush dropped “Dare To Dream”. If you like the 80s you will like this.
Black Stone Cherry took their modern day heavy blues rock and gave us “The Human Condition”.
Firekind is a three piece band from England and “What I Have Found Is Already Lost” is the album. They move between “genres”. There are classic rockers, modern rockers, pop songs, progressive rock songs, acoustic songs and so much more on this album.
Ellefson released “No Cover”, an excellent covers album, with a Def Leppard “On Through The Night” cover. And to make it even better, there is a blistering cover of “Wasted” by Def Leppard as well.
Iron Maiden released “Legacy Of The Beast”, celebrating 40 years of Maiden and recorded in Mexico City. We get some Blaze material (“Sign of the Cross” and “The Clansman”) and one DiAnno track (“Iron Maiden”) plus “For The Greater Good Of God” gets its first live release.
Sole Syndicate is a hard rock band from Sweden. “Last Days Of Eden” is their second album, and the traditional heavy metal like Rainbow, Scorpions and Judas Priest come to mind.
Fates Warning is one of the first progressive metal bands I got into. For a prog band to succeed there has to be a song. If there isn’t a song, then all of the flash and technical interludes over complex time changes mean nothing. Jim Matheos can craft a song and he doesn’t need to create complex interludes with millions of notes. Sometimes an atmospheric mood or groove is enough.
And for those Armored Saint fans, bassist Joey Vera has been doing work with Fates Warning since 2000 and he’s still rocking and progging away with em.
Chris Stapleton released a good blues/rock album in the style of John Fogerty and Steve Earle. The first three tracks are a triple combo knockout with “Starting Over”, “Devil Always Made Me Think Twice” (which sounds like it came from the same family tree of “Old Man Down The Road” by John Fogerty) and “Cold” which is basically a re-write of a Paolo Nutini song called “Iron Sky”.
And the album which reigned supreme for me in November is from AC/DC.
The mighty Acca Dacca return with one of the best album titles ever in “Power Up”. Their return was met with enough fandom, and it pushed their album into number 1 with decent sales.
“Realize” storms out of the gate with its “For Those About To Rock” intro before it starts cranking with its “Problem Child/Sin City” vibe.
And I’m all in.
“Shot In The Dark” is better than a walk in the park, with its instantly recognisable riff, which people state sounds like “Rock N Roll Train” and “Rock N Roll Train” sounds like other AC/DC songs, because Angus and Malcolm are brilliant at creating derivative versions of the same riff.
Tracks like “Through The Mists Of Time” is AC/DC bringing in something extra and the way the Chorus happens, well it’s just a little bit different. In Australia, a band called Choirboys did songs like this.
“Kick You When You’re Down” makes me pick up the guitar to learn that intro riff.
“Demon Fire” is fast blues. It sounds like Airbourne’s “Blood In The Water”. “Let There Be Rock” comes to mind and so does “Safe in New York City” and “Caught With Your Pants Down”.
For single song releases, The Night Flight Orchestra did great with “Impossible” and “Reach Out”, released as a single. As soon as the rock, funk, disco feel of “Impossible” kicks in, I’m hooked.
The Night Flight Orchestra and Soilwork, go hand in hand. While TNFO is melodic AOR, Soilwork is melodic death metal. Both bands share the same creative forces in vocalist Bjorn Strid and guitarist David Andersson. So it’s no surprise that Soilwork also released a single.
“The Nothingness And The Devil” is the single from Soulwork and the main riff gets me interested to learn it.
Atreyu released “Save Us” as a stand alone song, which has a simple but heavy riff. And angry lyrics.
Ihsahn has come a long way from his black metal days with “Emperor”. His latest is “Pharos”, a five song EP. It has electronica, moody landscapes, atmospheric and distorted guitars.
Armored Saint surprised me with “Punching The Sky”. It’s what a metal album should sound like.
Teramaze released “I Wonder”, their seventh album of heavy rock anthems with progressive overtones.
Stardust is a melodic metal/rock act from Hungary. Their debut album is called “Highway To Heartbreak” on Frontiers. It quickly became a favorite because it reminds me of so many other artists. And each song has a killer guitar solo.
Atlas dropped “Parallel Love” and the song “Human Touch” made me fan.
Bon Jovi released 2020 and I reckon that “Blood In The Water” and “America Reckoning” will be around for a while.
But the album which reigned supreme for me in October is from Smith And Myers.
Brent Smith is one of the best rock singers going around. Shinedown is the main muse for Smith And Myers and in between, they get together and rock out acoustically.
It started off as a covers project based on fan requests for YouTube video releases and it has morphed into a full fledge original song project.
For single song releases, Rise Against dropped “Broken Dreams, Inc.”.
They contributed the song to the “Dark Nights: Death Metal” Soundtrack, DC’s new Batman comic-book series. Another creative way to release songs with comic book culture.
The song deals with levelling the playing field for everyone to have a chance at achieving the American dream.
When we owe more than we’re worth And they’re changing the locks on the doors
The banking industry got wealthy from selling debt.
How’s that for a career?
When the factories are automated Broken dreams incorporated
Stryper released the Metal with “Even The Devil Believes”. Michael Sweet works hard, writing and recording new music via his many different projects but the project which is his bread and butter is Stryper.
It’s a return to their “Soldiers Under Command” sound from the 80’s and it showcases the influence of Judas Priest to their music.
Seether released “Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum”. The title translates from Latin to, ‘If you want peace, prepare for war’.
Bad Juju from Melbourne, Australia released the excellent “You’re Not Alone” album.
Landfall from Brazil is a melodic rock band signed to Frontiers and this album was a big surprise. It brings back that feel-good 80’s vibe with the window down, driving 100km on the highway and the wind licking my face on my way to the city with hopes and dreams.
10 Years released “Violent Allies”, produced by Howard Benson.
Benson also produced the “Feeding The Wolves” album back in 2010. That album is a favourite of mine, but there is a portion of the fanbase that hates what Benson’s generic pop production did to 10 Years. But that’s the production I like.
And the album which reigned supreme for me in September is “Dead Elysium” from Vanishing Point.
For single song releases, “World On Fire” by Daughtry was released.
This time around Daughtry is angry and the melody is perfect over the aggressive guitar riffs.
Stressed out, head trauma, took a beating
Life is already difficult from our own doing and the trauma we inflict on ourselves with our thoughts and feelings When society gets a hold of us, we are even more beaten down, shaped and moulded.
But we find ways to survive, to move on.
“Jessie’s Girl 2” from Coheed And Cambria and feat Rick Springfield was also released as a stand alone single.
I’ve been a fan of the band from when I was given a CD rip of the “In Keeping Secrets Of Silent Earth” album in 2005 and a few months later I was consuming the brand new “Good Apollo I’m Burning Star IV”.
Their song structures and the riffs got me interested. And the voice of Claude Sanchez got me to commit. That voice rocks out like Geddy Lee, but still sounds unique and different enough.
And the hair. Man that hair. It’s massive.
And to top it off, there is the big SciFi saga about a mystical energy source known as “The Keywork”.
But the album which reigned supreme for me in August is “Terminal Velocity” from John Petrucci.
“Suspended Animation” came out in 2005. I purchased it from his website straight away and I’ve lived with this instrumental album for a long time.
Just recently it appeared on Spotify as well, which makes it easier for me, as I didn’t have to rely on my CD rip on Apple Music for listening.
On “Suspended Animation” he had enough hooks and catchy melodic passages that I could sink my fingers into and let’s not forget the brilliance of “Glasgow Kiss”, a tour de force in itself, especially that middle breakdown section, when he plays arpeggio chords over the open E and B strings and then that emotive lead.
And I have lived with “Suspended Animation” for a long time.
A long time.
Fifteen years later, “Terminal Velocity” is thrust upon us, in a world overtaken and overrun by a virus which spreads easily, kills and keeps mutating.
And fifteen years, it’s a long time in a songwriters life.
So many things change. You get older, you have different family dynamics and your music listening habits keep evolving or devolving or they end up in an echo chamber, listening to the same stuff you listened to when you were growing up.
And if you have a practice routine to keep up your chops, you will get technically better at playing your instrument. It’s that old saying, get better every day by a ¼ of a percent and over the course of 365 days your 91% better and over 15 years you are 1368% better.
Well, John Petrucci is so good technically that I feel like breaking my guitar trying to learn stuff from him.
Petrucci assembled the same band that he did G3 with around 2006, which is Mike Portnoy on drums and Dave LaRue on bass. It’s an awesome band and being a long time DT fan, it’s cool to hear MP drumming to JP riffs again.
“Temple Of Circadia” is my favourite, especially that clean tone section which kicks in before the 3 minute mark and the lead break which follows. Like “Glasgow Kiss” part 2.
“Happy Song” with the major key vibe is like the commercial song on the album, especially that Americana Rock vibe in the melodic lead. Petrucci said on Twitter that the main chorus melody is one of his favourites and I agree.
And just listen to the outro. Its finger breaking stuff and still melodic. This song has appeared live on his G3 tours and at his Guitar Universe camp.
“The Oddfather” sounds like a track that could have come from “Black Clouds And Silver Linings”. And one of the melodic tremolo leads sounds like a Muse lead, however Petrucci in his Twitter post said he was trying to mimic the sound of a fast alternate picked mandolin.
“Terminal Velocity” has that major key vibe in sections that remind me of this Arcade game called “Turbo Outrun”. It’s the first song he wrote for the album and it was an archived riff from a while go.
And that major key vibe is energetic and uplifting, while Petrucci uses the E Harmonic Minor mode for the main theme and melody to create a dark and mysterious type of sound, as per his Twitter post at the listening party.
“Out Of The Blue” is a blues fusion track. “Glass Eyed Zombies” brings the metal. It’s heavy, its groovy and MP is having a ball with it. There is this lead break section, like a verse, that sounds like those TV themes from Danny Elfman. And that outro again, melodic progressive metal with Petrucci nailing a brilliant lead to finish it off.
“The Way Things Fall” is like a Rush track in the intro, but then this melodic rock riff comes in and I’m all in. Once the melodic lead comes in, which acts like a verse, it’s perfect. You just need to listen to it.
“Gemini” is a song I have had for ages as a bootleg. I don’t even know when it was recorded or where it was recorded. But this song has been around for a long time and its very Dream Theater like from the Portnoy era. There are sections in this song that have appeared in DT songs and LTE songs, albeit with some variations.
“Snake In My Boot” was going to be called “The Stomp” and if you’ve heard “The Stroke” from Mr Squier you will know why it has a similar title, but the first impression I got from this was a Queen like vibe.
And on Spotify, he is getting some great numbers because people are listening to the album over and over and over again. And that’s a good thing.
For single song releases, “Night Demon” released “Vysteria” on Spotify. Since they came up with the word, they also defined it as “exaggerated or uncontrollable emotion or excitement incited by the media, especially among a group of people during a pandemic”.
It’s basically about COVID-19 and how our lives have been affected by restrictions and lockdown, with the conspiracy catch cry of “is it the end of the world, or the thinning of the herd”.
NOBODY IS SAFE THE VIRUS HAS NO PREDJUDICE NO BLACK OR WHITE THE RICH AMONG THE POOR
Tokyo Motor Fist released the “Lions” album.
“The world is in chaos” is how the title track starts off. And it sure is.
Michael Grant And The Assassins released the excellent and underrated “Always The Villain” album. It’s a Frontiers release and I became a fan on the first listen.
So who is Michael Grant?
When you listen to the album, remember that Michael Grant is playing those riffs, the majority of the drum tracks, the bass lines, the guitar lead lines and he also does the vocals.
“The Assassins” part of the name comes from his touring band, but they didn’t play on the album.
And before going solo, Grant was the founder, and lead singer/guitarist in the alternative melodic hard rock band “Endeverafter” between 2004 and 2012, who had a deal with Epic Records, and they released one album “Kiss Or Kill” in 2007.
From 2012 to 2018, Grant was the guitarist in LA Guns and also wrote and recorded “The Missing Peace” album, released in 2017.
The LA Guns camp said he left the band to pursue his solo project, while Grant said he was fired from the band.
Every single song on this album is melodic, with good riffs, catchy AOR choruses and great leads.
“Nightmare” is my favorite today, because of the lead break that reminds me of Dave Gilmour but depending on the day or my mood, other tracks take over.
Haken released the album “Virus”, which is a coincidence because the title was decided way before the whole COVID-19 spread worldwide.
And if you like progressive and technical rock/metal, then this album would fill the void.
And two albums reigned supreme for me in July.
“How Do We Want To Live?” from Long Distance Calling was released in June but I really sank my ears into it in July. From Germany, its instrumental Pink Floyd style rock with Tool like grooves and a few vocal tracks. And it’s the moods that always hook me in.
“The Kingdom” from Bush took me by surprise. This is their best album since the first two albums. Its heavy and it’s the Bush I like.
“Flowers On The Grave” has the riffs.
“The Kingdom” starts off with a bending note, before it explodes into a heavy riff that reminds me of Tool and Rossdale is nailing the vocal.
Only in the silence we can see who we are
When we are alone with our thoughts, that’s when it’s real. That’s when we know who we are. Are we thinking of how to make it, or are we thinking how to get back at someone who upset us or to get it on with someone else.
Releases from the first 5 months still took a lot of my time along with a lot of 80s music.
For single song releases, Machine Head dropped their “Civil Unrest” single with the songs, “Stop The Bleeding” (featuring Jesse Leach) and “Bulletproof”.
“Stop The Bleeding” is a great song.
The riffage, the punk like feel in the chorus and the lyrics, “Beating after beating, throat choked under knee, help me please because I can’t breathe, just stop the bleeding”.
Will anything really change in the long run to stop the bleeding?
Free Spirits Rising released “Landing In Heaven” and that 2 minute outro.
Gathering Of Kings released a super catchy melodic rock album called “Discovery” and Mike Tramp dropped an excellent rock album called “Second Time Around”.
Tramp told us how he sold his heart and soul for rock and roll in “All Of My Life” and how “The Road” broke him, made him, turned his tears to smiles and brought him home again. It’s the road he never wants to end.
He also saw life come and go so fast on the “Highway” as he went for a ride and never looked back, finding love, finding heartache, finding highs and crashing lows.
A new band on Frontiers called Passion released their self-titled album. They basically cover most of the 80’s/early 90’s sounds.
Kiss. Its covered. Keel. It’s covered. Ratt. Its covered. Skid Row. Its covered. Hurricane. Its covered. Winger. It’s covered.
And the album that reigned supreme for me in June is “Palimpsest” from Protest The Hero.
The cover of the raging bull with the American flag draped over its horn, tattered and torn, really got my attention. It’s a great piece of art.
I had to Google what “Palimpsest” meant. Which is, “a manuscript or piece of writing material on which later writing has been superimposed on the erased earlier writing.”
Another definition which breaks it down further is, “something reused or altered but still bearing visible traces of its earlier form.”
Like history. It’s been rewritten that many times that the truth is somewhere there but it’s not visible.
Protest The Hero can play their instruments.
Their music moves between technical metal with textures from a lot of different genres.
So they really earn the “progressive metal” title.