Melodic Rock Round-up: April 2013

Dave Ling on new releases from Player, Heartbreak Radio, Nubian Rose, Diamond Dawn and Vaduz

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Player: Too Many Reasons

The world has altered hugely in the 20 years since Player last released a full-length album. Luckily, the band – initially Anglo-Californian, forged by Peter Beckett and JC Crowley – haven’t betrayed the soft-rock/MOR principles that brought them the global hit Baby Come Back in 1977. A 2003 reunion put Beckett (who has written for Heart, Survivor, Grace Slick, Poco, Kenny Rodgers and even Sir Cliff) back in cahoots with founding bassist Ronn Moss. Beckett’s craftsmanship is reflected in a comeback album that wears decades of experience on its sleeve yet doesn’t sound in the least bit jaded. If the above paints Player as a band that sings exclusively about picket fences, grandchildren, Viagra and retirement plans, then the record’s gritty defining song, Precious, suggests that the band are still some way off losing their bite. As well as a re-recorded version here of Baby Come Back, I Will and You’re My Addiction are fashioned with strong yet often understated hooks that surreptitiously dig beneath the skin. (810)

Heartbreak Radio: On Air

As breezy and commercial as their name implies, Heartbreak Radio have been on the back burner since their self-titled debut way back in 2005. Like its predecessor, On Air has guest contributions, this time including Alien singer Jim Jidhed and Asia contributor Mats Johanson helping to summon a shimmering, sublime West Coast-style vibe. (910)

Nubian Rose: Mountain

Fronted by the estimable Sofia Liljam, new Scandianavian band Nubian Rose play a rousing but deeply melodious strand of rock. This fine debut album features cameos from former Europe guitarist Kee Marcello and former Yngwie singer Mats Levén, the latter duetting with Liljam on If I Close My Eyes Forever, a song written by Lita Ford and Ozzy Osbourne. (810)

Diamond Dawn: Overdrive

Another promising Swedish band (what are they feeding kids over there?), Diamond Dawn have been playing together for less than two years. Overdrive, their debut release, has a pleasing, modern-sounding edge – due largely to its slick production – athough the Mr Mister-esque Standing As One and the Europe-flavoured single Take Me Higher serve as persuasive reminders of their roots. (710)

Vaduz: Better Days

This album actually crept out late last year and somehow flew under the radar, but it still deserves some belated love. Iowa-based minnows Vaduz have a bubbly, chorus-friendly approach that betrays elements of Firehouse, Night Ranger and Y&T, and in Brian Wade they also have a singer who may soon be courted by some much bigger groups. (710)

Dave Ling

Dave Ling was a co-founder of Classic Rock magazine. His words have appeared in a variety of music publications, including RAW, Kerrang!, Metal Hammer, Prog, Rock Candy, Fireworks and Sounds. Dave’s life was shaped in 1974 through the purchase of a copy of Sweet’s album ‘Sweet Fanny Adams’, along with early gig experiences from Status Quo, Rush, Iron Maiden, AC/DC, Yes and Queen. As a lifelong season ticket holder of Crystal Palace FC, he is completely incapable of uttering the word ‘Br***ton’.