Mitch Malloy - Making Noise
Two decades ago, Mitch Malloy came within a hair’s breadth of replacing Sammy Hagar in Van Halen. Having been told the job was his, Malloy saw David Lee Roth accompanying the band to an MTV presentation and in the ensuing shitstorm decided to “respectfully pass” on the opportunity.
Now 55, the singer insists that ‘what ifs’ no longer haunt him. He sounds irrepressibly chipper on his eighth album, despite occasionally downbeat subject matter. ‘I’ve been cheated and I’ve been had/I’ve never been broke this bad,’ Malloy sings during My Therapy.
Mostly, though, this is a warming slice of classic-sounding blue-collar rock, packed with strong choruses and inward-looking lyrics. What makes it more impressive still is that its creator, who tours the UK this month, did everything on Making Noise himself – writing, playing the instruments, producing, mixing and mastering – as well as self-releasing the results. His gain is Edward Van Halen’s loss. (8⁄10)
Palace - Master Of The Universe
Michael Palace is a young gun vocalist/guitarist on the melodic rock scene. As you’d expect of a unit with ties to Harry Hess, Houston, Toby Hitchcock and Find Me, these Swedes play a 1980s-influenced brand of AOR that’s silky, professional and utterly irresistible. It’s just a matter of time before Palace top the league. (8⁄10)
House Of Shakira - Sour Grapes
Eight albums into a quarter-century-long career, Stockholm’s House Of Shakira are back with a third record to feature singer Andreas Novak. While its title is perhaps a withering reference to those diehard fans that continue to pine for the ousted Andreas Eklund, the sheer exuberance of Sour Grapes reminds us that music is supposed to be fun. (7⁄10)
Cruzh - Cruzh
Swedish trio Cruzh make no bones about having been weaned on the likes of Def Leppard, Toto, Journey and Bon Jovi but, frankly, after listening to their self-titled debut, denial might have been laughable. Though it would be easy to pick apart the likes of In And Out Of Love and Aim For The Heart, they’re enjoyable enough songs in a heard-it-all-before way. (5⁄10)
Miss Behaviour - Ghost Play
Here’s yet another band of talented Swedes. Their fourth album is a wee bit heavier than usual but its focus remains the same: classy vocals, lighter-waving choruses and a slick production from Patrik Magnusson (Mick Mars, Crashdïet), reminiscent at times of spandex and hairspray-era Europe – which, of course, is a massive compliment. (8⁄10)