And although the new stuff is slowing down with Christmas just two weeks away we’ve still found some essential new tunes doing the rounds on the rock circuit.
Topping the list is a new Boston album. Yep, you read that right and Self Made Man had the honour of delivering the verdict on the AOR big hitters.
The debut EPs from Western Sand and American Fangs (pictured) have been available for some time but with both bands out the road this month it’s well worth checking out their studio licks.
And we run the rule over Forever Can Wait as they follow up this summer’s Download Festival appearance with a new EP.
Every Sunday we reveal the RUSHONROCK RECORD OF THE WEEK. And we round up the very BEST OF THE REST.
RUSHONROCK RECORD OF THE WEEK
For those planning to buy Boston’s sixth album excitedly anticipating a throwback to their legendary debut release, then don’t.
And if you’re hoping for tracks on Life, Love And Hope anywhere as good as More Than A Feeling – arguably the greatest AOR song ever record – then you’re going to be disappointed.
Indeed, some would even argue that this isn’t even a Boston album at all, more a Tom Scholz solo effort. And they may have a point.
Boston’s trademark sound is as much about Brad Delp’s searing melodies as Scholz’ crunching guitar and surgically precise production.
Delp, tragically committed suicide six years ago, but there are tracks on LLAH featuring his distinct voice. Students of Boston’s history will not be surprised to learn that Scholz started work on this recording back in 2003.
Tommy DeCarlo, Kimberley Dahme, David Victor, and even Scholz himself all feature on the mike, creating something of a piecemeal product.
But – and here lies the crux – fans of Boston will probably like this album. Most of the songs are catchy, well-structured and carry that easily definable DNA which once made the band one of the biggest on the planet.
Someday, You Gave Up On Love and opener Heaven On Earth would not sound out of place on one of Boston’s platinum-selling albums while the instrumental Last Day Of School bears testimony to Scholz’s supreme fretwork.
It’s bitty but a big improvement on 2002’s Corporate America. As long as expectations aren’t sky-high, you may be pleasantly surprised. Ian Murtagh
RUSHONROCK RATED: 7/10 Life Affirming
BEST OF THE REST
Genre: Alt Rock
After winning the Red Bull Studios Live At Download competition for a place to take the stage at the massive summer festival – and see two songs picked up by Alex Baker for his Kerrang! Radio show – the Southampton-based five-piece Forever Can Wait have understandably been tipped for bigger things.
And their EP, Beauty & Grace, has been charged with the tough job of cementing that early reputation. It helps that two of the songs picked up by Kerrang! are included – Rest and Excuses.
But reputation isn’t built on just a third of a record.
And for FCW, the other two thirds of their debut release compare favourably to the aforementioned tracks.
Songs such as Hopes & Dreams provide the same kind of gritty vocals and distorted guitar championed by the likes of Press To Meco and The Xcerts.
A good enough platform for any band looking to breakthrough in 2014. Russell Hughes
RUSHONROCK RATED: 7/10 Forever Is Now
Genre: Alt Rock
Classically American in their attitude, angst and alternative sound, it’s clear why Papa Roach frontman Jacoby Shaddix is a big, big fan of this intriguing band.
The Houston quintet were handpicked to open up for the Roach on this month’s UK headline tour and this taster EP offers a tantalising glimpse of American Fangs’ obvious potential.
Still looking to secure a UK deal to release their 2013 debut, the five tracks here should do enough to pique the interest of fans keen to latch onto rock’s next big thing.
Think Jane’s Addiction fused with classic Nirvana and with a nod to nu metal’s more melodic moments – the Fangs aren’t easily pigeon-holed and that suits them just fine. Three full studio cuts, an acoustic number and raw demo reinforce the point.
Get The Hell On is a bona fide party anthem and we’re predicting big things for these little known Yanks in 2014. Simon Rushworth
RUSHONROCK RATED: 7/10 Fangstastic
Genre: Southern Rock/Blues Rock
Word’s been getting around this month that if you’re heading to a Black Star Riders show before Christmas best get there early.
And it’s not just supergroup support The Dead Daisies who are bringing in the punters long before the headline act hits the stage.
Young Brits Western Sand are opening up for blokes more than twice their age and they’re not looking out of place. The quartet’s debut EP is full to bursting with assured southern-flavoured blues rock evoking memories of Skynyrd, The Allman Brothers, Black Stone Cherry and Free at their evocative best.
Welcome To The Badlands is the brilliant highlight of this impressive four-track taster and if you’re looking for raw potential it’s right here. Ones to watch in 2014. SR
RUSHONROCK RATED: 8/10 Sands Storm