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Europe —Secret Society
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Europe

Secret Society

Hard Rock

3 Stars
Not your parents’ final countdown.

Two years ago, the original members of Europe regrouped, and the release of Secret Society this month marks their second new offering. Don’t ignore this release thinking that it’s just another 80’s hair band trying to make a comeback doing the same old stuff – you would be sadly mistaken.

All this CD has in common with the “classic” Europe are its members: Joey Tempest (vocals), John Norum (guitar), John Leven (bass), Mic Michaeli (keys), and Ian Haugland (drums). But unlike many other bands of the day, these very talented musicians embraced a changing musical landscape and now deliver hard rock with interesting arrangements, guitars in dropped tunings, keyboards playing a mostly supportive role (with the exception of the title track’s ripping synth solo before John’s explosive fretwork), electronic drum loops, and of course some catchy choruses here and there.

The songs rock, and John’s guitar playing is in outstanding form. The classic reverb- and delay-drenched solos have been replaced with wahs, slides, and the kind of clean, speedy, finesse soloing that Scandinavians are so well regarded for.

Songs like the title track and “Let The Children Play” are particularly strong, both in their production and their progressive arrangements, while “Wish I Could Believe” and “Brave and Beautiful Soul” demonstrate more mature lyrical content (in case you didn’t draw inspiration from classics like “Danger On The Tracks”).

If you loved classic Europe but moved on to modern hard rock, so did they… so check out this release. And for fans of historic rock art, you’ll appreciate legend Storm Thorgerson’s cover artwork. Look for our interview with Europe next month.

-SK

 
The Killers Sam's Town
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The Killers

Sam's Town

Alternative Rock

3 Stars
Musical growth helps The Killers avoid sophomore slump.

Music critics suck! I almost didn’t pick up this release, having been led to believe by the music press that it sounded more like a Bruce Springsteen record than The Killers. If you read the same references as we did, you would be mistaken. This is not a Springsteen record.

The boys from Las Vegas were sunk by the pen before ever setting foot in a studio to record a follow-up to their multi-platinum major label debut, Hot Fuss. Credited with reinvigorating the music scene with a healthy dose of 80’s influences served up in a lo-fi style and with a touch of modern punk pop, Hot Fuss had some infectiously catchy songs and ushered in a great new sound. Topping it would be an unlikely event, and that’s assuming that “topping” the record means outselling the first one.

Not content to milk the same cow twice, Sam’s Town is certifiable Killers material, but there’s significant growth from the first record to the new one. It doesn’t feature singles with such obvious pop ambition as the first release (though “Read My Mind” is as 80’s pop as you could make a new song and get away with it sounding beautiful), but it serves up very melodic songs that are more consistently strong from the album’s start to its finish.

The lo-fi character of Hot Fuss is gone, and the new record features a lot of piano and synth up front and center on a number of tracks (don’t worry – there’s plenty of guitar to be excited about). There is certainly an element of classic rock songwriting at work on some of the tracks (which those other critics foolishly equated with the Boss), but even tunes like the piano/acoustic-guitar driven “Exitlude” are served up with a twist that could have only been written by children of the punk pop era.

The Killers co-produced the CD with Flood and Alan Moulder. Fans of Hot Fuss should enjoy Sam’s Town, as well as fans of classic rock looking for something a little more alternative. Go on, take a gamble on this new release.

-SK

 
 
Joe Satriani Satriani Live!
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Joe Satriani

Satriani Live!


Instrumental Rock

3.5 Stars
Guitar god performs in a living room near you.

Filmed in high definition during the 2005 Super Colossal tour, this concert captures one night of tremendous performance by Joe, accompanied by outstanding bassist Dave LaRue, drummer Jeff Campitelli, and Galen Henson on rhythm guitar.

Joe seemed a little bit tense at the start of the show, perhaps nervous about all of the cameras! After a few songs, however, he seemed to be in full swing, and his performance was really great (as was the rest of the band). The video footage provides numerous opportunities to really study what Joe is playing, but we must warn you that to watch him play will either inspire you to new heights… or make you cry and sell your instruments.

Most of Super Colossal was performed along with numerous classics such as “Surfing With The Alien”, “Summer Song”, “Cool #9”, and more. Sound and picture quality were excellent.

There are numerous bonuses in this collection including some behind-the-scenes films from the album recording session, tour rehearsals, the final evening of the tour, and the official music video for “Super Colossal.”

The second DVD contains additional extras including a short film that takes us to India with Joe. It was entertaining, with some concert footage throughout (not high-def), but not particularly essential.

-SK

 
 
   
             
             
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