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Melodic Rock Round-up: March 2011

Dave Ling on new releases from Hinder, TNT, Bad Habit, Heartland and Brian McDonald Group

Hinder: All American Nightmare

We know what to expect from Hinder by now. With more than three million album sales, the Oklahoma quintet are back to thumb their nose at political correctness and musical pretension of any kind. They serve up their rock ‘n’ roll with hummable choruses, lashings of sleazy guitar and a barrel of attitude. All American Nightmare is awash with liquor, loving, cigarettes, strip joints and life on the road. Austin Winkler’s vocals appear to have become fuller and a little gruffer since 2008’s Take It To The Devil and a first-rate production from Kevin Churko accentuates the band’s core heaviness on tracks like Waking Up The Devil without making them sound bombastic or repetitive. Lyrically? Well, that’s a whole other question and Hinder will never win prizes for prose, even daring to lambast other artists for exploiting their looks – ‘You’re a wannabe stripper with a microphone’, roars Winkler during the rip-roaring anthem Striptease. No matter, AAN is a fine album. Fans of Daughtry, Nickelback and Buckcherry should give it a go. (810)

TNT: A Farewell To Arms

Little has gone right for TNT since Tony Harnell’s departure in 2006. Both of the albums made with Shy/Siam’s Tony Mills on vocals were slaughtered by press and fans – often quite humiliatingly so. Spurning fake grandiose pretension, A Farewell To Arms thankfully does a passable job of recapturing the band’s original fusion of hooks and heaviness. (610)

Bad Habit: Atmosphere

Practise has certainly made perfect for Swedish melodic rockers Bad Habit, who have now clocked up ten albums in a mega-long 24-year career. Voiced by Bax Fehling, a man with a smooth, strong and clear delivery, In The Heat Of The Night, Angel Of Mine and Fantasy are squeaky-clean Scandi-AOR songs of the highest calibre. (710)

Heartland: Travelling Through Time

Since his days fronting Virginia Wolf, singer Chris Ousey has had an underrated career, something confirmed by this double-disc retrospective of Heartland, also featuring guitarist Steve Morris (Export/Gillan/Shadowman). Search Goes On, a new song that sounds almost Mr Big-like, is a winner – and look out also for five fine unreleased bonus tracks. (710)

Brian McDonald Group: Desperate Business

Originally released in 1987, this disc was produced by Beau Hill and features Reb Beach on guitar throughout, plus backing vocals from Fiona Flanagan on These Are The Good Times. Though very much of its era, it remains a stirring, hooky and confident signpost to Hill and Beach’s later achievements with Winger. (810)