nfg-matt-graysonPop punk masters New Found Glory return to the fray this week with the release of their sixth studio album but it’s not the best record we’ve heard lately.

That comes courtesy of Finnish melodic rock kings Free Spirit and their sensational debut Pale Sister Of Light. If you like Europe, The Scorpions, Whitesnake and just about any other soft metal band you’ve ever heard then this is the album for you. If you like French metal then you might be better off with the latest release from Abinaya. But then who really likes French metal?

And last but not least we look at a treasure trove of song writing in the shape of Rachael Yamagata’s career defining double CD  – known for the quantity of tunes she writes this release is all about the quality. Check out what’s rocking rushonrock this week…

nfg-notwithoutafightNew Found Glory – Not Without A Fight (Epitaph)

Hip US indie label Epitaph is the home of some of rock’s edgiest and most innovative acts. As well as New Found Glory. The platinum-selling quintet may have made a name – and a fortune – for themselves more than a decade ago but when it comes to ‘doing a Green Day’ they just haven’t got it in them.

At a time when reinventing the wheel is pre-requisite within the pop punk world, NFG have gone back to basics. This is a record which will delight the die-hard fans who have pushed this limited band so far in such a short space of time but the rest of us are still wondering what all the fuss is about.  

If you like simplistic bubblegum guitar pop like Listen To Your Friends then you’ll love Not Without A Fight. If, on the other hand, you demand more from your music than formulaic punk with a sickly American sheen then it’s hard to imagine anything here will appeal. There is a reason Green Day are the kings of their genre and NFG is that reason.

rushonrock rated: 6/10 Scrappy Effort

freespiritFree Spirit – Pale Sister Of Light (Edel Records)

Every so often a band you’ve never heard of, or never even dreamt existed, delivers the kind of adrenaline kick rock music badly needs. It happened with US sleaze rockers White Trash around 20 years ago and again with The Darkness at the turn of the decade.

Most recently The Answer have delivered the goods. Now you can add Finnish melody makers Free Spirit to that list of hard rocking luminaries and you won’t hear a better record all year.

Opener Shadow Of A Man doesn’t pull up too many trees but don’t be discouraged because the best is yet to come and four songs in sees Heroes Don’t Cry take Free Spirit to the next level. Singer Sami Alho has a hint of Klaus Meine, David Coverdale and Mike Tramp in his fantastic voice – in fact White Lion would be as good a place as any to start when comparing the band to what’s gone before.

But it’s more about what might happen in the future as far as Free Spirit is concerned. This is a band which could rule the world just as long as the world gives them a chance.

rushonrock rated: 10/10 Spirited Debut

abinayaAbinaya – Corps (Brennus Music)

French metal, like Japanese fish, English humour and Czech beer, is an acquired taste. And a taste we’re still some way off enjoying on the evidence of this mixed record from a group of seasoned performers lacking bite.

Abinaya may have more than 100 gigs under their belts and there’s every likelihood they can deliver a kick-ass live show but that doesn’t translate to Corps. Whether the production was meant to invoke a raw sound befitting their often tribal rhythm section remains to be seen but the quartet don’t benefit from some sketchy mixing.

Opener and title track Corps crashes into your consciousness with Maiden-esque menace but the remaining 10 songs fail to match that energy and intrigue. And you have to be pretty committed to stay the distance as Abinaya swiftly lose their focus and drift towards a frankly dull denouement.

rushonrock rated: 5/10 French Bred

yamagataRachael Yamagata – Elephants/Teeth Sinking Into Heart (Warner Bros.)

Split into two very distinct parts this double CD lies on the very fringes of rock. However, such is the depth of Yamagata’s gritty voice that here at rushonrock we’re hoping she enjoys a few heavier moments in the future…

Elephants features nine of the hundreds of tunes this most prolific of musicians has penned in recent times. Held together by a common thread of inciteful writing and the ear for a humalong tune, Yamagata, it seems has the folk rock/indie rock/lite rock world at her feet.

Let her walk you through the slightly more opaque Teeth Sinking Into Heart and you quickly realise she does diversity too. Artistically it was the right decision to split this memorable collection into two but whether it makes commercial sense remains to be seen. 

rushonrock rated: 7/10 Elephants-tastic