Wednesday, 27 May 2015

KATZENJAMMER - Norwegian band

If anyone just sees photos of Katzenjammer without the music, sexists and cynics may just think they're a stunning girl band with quirky clothes.  Well, that is a small part of this brilliantly talented band from Oslo in Norway.  They have the delightful vocals and harmonies of The Corrs and the Rock n' Roll performances of The Bangles.  So here are four ladies, Marianne Sveen, Anne Marit Bergheim, Solveig Heilo and Turid Jorgensen.  Amazing multi-instrumentalists, I think maybe only Prince plays more instruments than these girls and I'm not sure on that!  Between the four they play accordion, guitar, piano, mandolin, drums, bass, glockenspiel, balalaika, trumpet, kazoo, melodica and banjo.  Oh and they can all sing as well!

I first saw the band on Weekend, a Sunday morning show on TV with Aled Jones.  They played two tracks "Lady Grey" and "A Bar In Amsterdam" and I was hooked.  When the girls performed the second track, they seemed to have switched duties and instruments!  I thought this was brilliant, I switch over to Sunday Brunch and a video was shown on that too.  It seemed fate was telling me to look this band up and blog to the masses.

Katzenjammer's debut album "Le Pop" was released in 2008 and it reached number 9 in the Norwegian album chart, pretty good for a first release.  "A Bar In Amsterdam" is the first track that hits you like a rocket after the initial intro.  Half Big Country, half Jazz-Folk, it's an explosion of exciting party fun.  The album is a great introduction to the band, a plethora of instruments and styles.

My other favourites include "Tea With Cinnamon" which reminds me a little of Lily Allen and the insanely eerie and dark "Hey Ho On The Devil's Back".  "Wading In Deeper" is vocally driven and is just a beautiful song with gorgeous harmonies. "Le Pop" and "Der Kapitan" are crazy fast paced tracks with surely an influence of the B-52's!

In 2011, "A Kiss Before You Go", the second album was released.  Reaching number 6 in the Norwegian chart this time and also reaching number 7 in Germany, the ladies were getting noticed.
"I Will Dance (When I Walk Away)" is near to the influence of The Corrs, a really nice song with a hint of Irish Folk backing.  There is so much to admire on the tracks, you just never know what you're going to get with each track.  "Cherry Pie" for instance, is like a throwback to old theatre performances during the World Wars, upbeat and cutesy.  The unpredictability doesn't stop there, a sassy, chanteuse-style vocal over a David Bowie-esque backdrop gives a striking cover of Genesis' "Land Of Confusion" a new lease of life.  My favourite has to be "Rock-Paper-Scissors", simply perfect Pop-Rock.  "Gypsy Flee" reminds me of the Ukrainian band Gogol Bordello, an Eastern Folk uptempo tune complete with army-like band chanting.  This album blows the genres away.

Following the live album release of "A Kiss Before You Go - Live In Hamburg" in 2012, 2015 sees the third studio album, "Rockland" released.  Including the previously mentioned Folk-Pop track "Lady Grey" and opened by "Old De Spain".  The latter makes me think of sitting round a campfire and everybody singing this song in the small hours to uplift the spirits.  It begs audience participation!  This album seems more Pop and Rock than the previous two but still keeps that quirkiness and cheekiness of Folk especially on the tracks "Curvaceous Needs" and "My Dear".  "Shine Like Neon Rays" is classic 80's pop, similar to early The Go-Go's material.  I love "Oh My God" because it's a demon fusion of Taylor Swift, Alanis Morissette and Avril Lavigne, great track!

Katzenjammer have announced a UK tour in November and will be playing Shepherd Bush Empire.  They are for sure the best all-female band since The Bangles, they can rock with the best, entrance you with the sweet melodies and vocal harmonies and uplift you into dancing a little jig!

Check out some of these tracks to hear the ultra talented Katzenjammer -

"A Bar In Amsterdam", "Tea With Cinnamon", "Hey Ho On The Devil's Back", "Wading In Deeper", "Le Pop".
(From "Le Pop").
"I Will Dance (When I Walk Away)", "Cherry Pie", "Land Of Confusion", "Rock-Paper-Scissors", "Gypsy Flee".
(From "A Kiss Before You Go").
"Lady Grey", "Old De Spain", "Curvaceous Needs", "Shine Like Neon Rays", "Oh My God".
(From "Rockland").


Thursday, 21 May 2015


This is a new series, I will listen to all the 80s albums released by the decade's artists and judge the songs that were not singles (in the UK) from an album.  I will give my opinion whether the remaining songs were just fillers or could have been singles.  How many singles I can find will determine the final rating of how good the album is as a whole.  Below 49% = Poor/50-64% = Average/65-79% = Very Good/80-100% = Excellent.  There will be a different artist each blog.  I am a big fan of all the artists I review in this series, so I have to think hard if the song would wow the chart public, even if they are my favourite songs!


Members - Jon Bon Jovi (Lead Vocals/Rhythm Guitar/Acoustic Guitar) /Richie Sambora (Lead Guitar/Talk Box/Backing Vocals) /David Bryan (Keyboards/Piano/Backing Vocals) /Alec John Such (Bass/Backing Vocals) /Tico Torres (Drums/Percussion).

Other Members - Previous - Dave Sabo (Lead Guitar/Backing Vocals).

Later - Hugh McDonald (Bass/Backing Vocals) /Bobby Bandiera (Rhythm Guitar/Backing Vocals) /Phil X (Lead Guitar/Backing Vocals) /Rich Scanella (Drums/Percussion) /Lorenza Ponce (Viola/Backing Vocals).

BON JOVI (#71) (1984) -

Tracks -
Runaway/Roulette/She Don't Know Me/Shot Through The Heart/Love Lies/Breakout/Burning For Love/Come Back/Get Ready.

Singles -

Potential Singles -
Runaway - From the first keyboard intro and usual Rock riffs it hits the mark as hit, and has a catchy chorus as well.

Roulette - Typical early 80s Rock, vocal harmonies on the chorus, pounding drums, screeching guitar matched with Jon's powerful lead. 

She Don't Know Me - One of my favourites, more Pop Rock similar to Heart with Jon replacing the Wilson sisters vocal.

Shot Through The Heart - The chorus makes this a hit and the great guitar solo around 2 and a half minutes!

Love Lies - An 80s rock ballad, personally I think they are the best in Bon Jovi's repertoire.

Fillers -

Breakout (5 minutes of "whoa whoa" and usual Rock guitars, not great lyrically.  A miss for me)/Burning For Love (Apparently a single in Japan, nothing special, definite filler!).


Very good album! 7 singles from 9 tracks.  77.7/100.

7800° FAHRENHEIT (#28) (1985) -

Tracks -
In And Out Of Love/The Price Of Love/Only Lonely/King Of The Mountain/Silent Night/Tokyo Road/The Hardest Part Of The Night/Always Run To You/(I Don't Wanna) Fall To The Fire/Secret Dreams.
Singles -
The Hardest Part Of The Night (#68).
Potential Singles -
In And Out Of Love - A real rocker with repetitive chorus, maybe not the band's best lyrically but it's sure to get you singing along  rocking, playing your air guitars!
King Of The Mountain - Similar to Aerosmith, shouting verses, chanting chorus, thumping Rock backing, pure hit!
Silent Night - Classic Bon Jovi ballad, emotive lyrics with lilting keyboard led backing, with gentle guitars and percussion, a delight.
Tokyo Road - Another of my favourite rockier tracks, a real foot stomper that starts off gently with a Japanese spoken lyric then explodes to life.
Fillers -
The Price Of Love (Doesn't really work for me, repeated lines over a disjointed backing, and no outstanding chorus)/Only Lonely (Unremarkable in all departments, not one of my favourites)/Always Run To You (Always sounded like a demo to me, like it needed that extra kick somewhere)/(I Don't Wanna Fall) To The Fire (Not great, average pop rock, similar to early INXS before they were found the right blend)/Secret Dreams (Again similar to Heart but nothing to hit the senses).
Average album! 5 singles from 10 tracks.  50/100.

SLIPPERY WHEN WET (#6) (1986) -

Tracks -
Let It Rock/You Give Love A Bad Name/Livin' On A Prayer/Social Disease/Wanted Dead Or Alive/Raise Your Hands/Without Love/I'd Die For You/Never Say Goodbye/Wild In The Streets.

Singles -
You Give Love A Bad Name (#14)/Livin' On A Prayer (#4)/Wanted Dead Or Alive (#13)/Never Say Goodbye (#21).

Potential Singles -
Let It Rock - The opening track with it's church organ opening then an explosion of screeching guitars, thumping drums and anthemic chorus aved the way for the new Bon Jovi sound.

Raise Your Hands - Not a special song but audience participation is guaranteed with the chorus!

Without Love - Half rocker/half ballad, nice lyrics in the "Never Say Goodbye" vein, emotion provoking.

Wild In The Streets - Bon Jovi turn party rockers, proper sing-a-long and bouncy enthusiasm in abundance!

Fillers -
Social Disease (I like this but I think the lack of a real catchy chorus would stop it being a hit)/I'd Die For You (A little too similar to "Shot Through The Heart" without the memorable chorus).

Excellent album!  8 singles from 10 tracks.  80/100.

NEW JERSEY (#1) (1988) -

Tracks -
Lay Your Hands On Me/Bad Medicine/Born To Be My Baby/Living In Sin/Blood On Blood/Homebound Train/Wild Is The Wind/Ride Cowboy Ride/Stick To Your Guns/I'll Be There For You/99 In The Shade/Love For Sale.

Singles -
Bad Medicine (#17)/Born To Be My Baby (#22)/I'll Be There For You (#18)/Lay Your Hands On Me (#18)/Living In Sin (#35).

Potential Singles -
Blood On Blood - The music reminds me a little of "Wild In The Streets" and maybe why its a hit for me, a rousing chorus, keyboard led backing and best to be played loud!

Stick To Your Guns - A cowboy theme that did work, a pseudo message under a western theme to keep to your principles, great song and forerunner to the Young Guns movie tracks?

99 In The Shade - Another Bon Jovi party sing-a-long, catchy chorus, great Rock backing.

Love For Sale - Love this, one of my favourites, a bluesy Acoustic ditty complete with harmonica parts, makes you imagine sittin' on the porch in a USA ranch just chillin'!

Fillers -
Homebound Train (A cowboy style rock out that didn't work apart from the few seconds of guitar at the end!)/Wild Is The Wind (Maybe a small nudge to Jon's Young Guns soundtrack, a good movie theme)/Ride Cowboy Ride (Blues demo style track, maybe would be better giving a produced style!)/

Very good album!  9 singles from 12 tracks.  75/100.

My favourite 80s Bon Jovi tracks?

Top 20 in no particular order -

1   Livin' On A Prayer
2   You Give Love A Bad Name
3   Never Say Goodbye
4   Runaway
5   Wanted Dead Or Alive
6   Bad Medicine
7   Born To Be My Baby
8   I'll Be There For You
9   Roulette
10 She Don't Know Me
11 Shot Through The Heart
12 King Of The Mountain
13 In And Out Of Love
14 Silent Night
15 Tokyo Road
16  Love For Sale
17 Wild In The Streets
18 Let It Rock
19 Without Love
20 Blood On Blood

Check back for another 80's artist review :)


Monday, 18 May 2015

4 2 WATCH - Sneak peek at 4 up and coming artists! - Erin Mason/Steve Moran/Cardboard Hit/Diana Barash


Erin is a new Country singer/songwriter from Raleigh, North California, USA.  The influences are there for all to hear, Colbie Caillat, Adele and Norah Jones, to name but a few.

This lady has many talents, writing since the age of seven and also formed and managed a four piece harmonic girl band called Penny Road.  Apart from having a beautiful voice Erin is an accomplished pianist and guitarist.
Erin has just released her debut E.P. entitled "Reckless".  The title track is a typical lilting Country track with a catchy little chorus.  My favourite has to be "Kissin' Ain't A Crime", which is an uptempo foot tapper, reminding me a little of Dixie Chicks. 
In the spare time she has amidst the touring and writing Erin also studies as a Chancellor's Scholar at Appalachian University as well as baking "killer" cookies!.  She also lends her hand to various charitable causes and worked on rehabilitation projects in Raleigh with hammer in hand and wearing overalls.  Behind the sweet smile is clearly a girl with talent, intelligence and hard work ethic in abundance, bigger things are surely to come!


Check out these links to find more performances and songs from Erin Mason! -
Steve Moran is an Alternative singer/songwriter using the spoken word and is a man with a message.  Hailing from Manchester, this unassuming guy uses his songs to convey emotion, harsh truths and showing a way out of the darkness.

Steve writes his songs based on his own experiences and the perils of everyday life that affect others.  Although only releasing two singles to date, he has received wide acclaim from many countries and had airplay on MTV and the second single was a minor American chart hit. 

This guy is unique, the first single "Wasn't Meant To Be This Way" lyrically covers society problems of today while the video tells another story, it received emotive feedback by viewers and listeners alike.  "What A Waste" covers alcoholism and real life dilemmas.  Clearly the message he is sending is honest, provocative, positive and delivered with emotion.
Steve has been working hard to show people there is light at the end of a dark, dark tunnel.  Obviously, to hear the words, he has suffered a few turbulent times in his own life, and music is his salvation.  What better way to pass on a message of hope than through music, Steve just wants to push the boundaries and give everyone a voice!


Check out these links to find more performances and songs from Steve Moran! -
Cardboard Hit are a three piece band consisting of Ross Towner, Lee Hayes and Matt Rouse.  The band play an Alternative Rock but I also think there is an element of Punk in there as well.  There are great unusual vocal harmonies coinciding with a pounding drums and powerful guitar riffs.

The debut E.P. entitled "Subject To Status" has just been released.  The songs "All The Voices" and "Say Yes" are brilliant rockers.  The band have been compared to Muse or Queens Of The Stone Age, but to me they bring to mind a hybrid of Progressive Rock such as Led Zeppelin with a little Midnight Oil and Wall Of Voodoo thrown in for good measure!

Cardboard Hit are a unique band, checking out some of the performances on YouTube and they are also a tight, exciting group on stage as well. 
Formed in East Sussex, only Matt is from that area with Ross from North London and Lee from Cheshire.  The three different backgrounds make three different characters, but also three friends who certainly rock together and are set for stardom, I will certainly be keeping my eye on this band.
Check out these links to find more performances and songs from Cardboard Hit!
Diana, born in Eastern Europe began her Classical music training at seven years old amidst the falling Soviet Union ruling.  Her influences have become wider with Jazz, R 'n B and pop after travelling across the world to base herself in L.A. in the USA.

The debut album, "Miracle Of Love" was released in 2013 and upon first listen you can hear a little Olivia Newton-John in her voice, a pure, sultry vocal.  Then you pick up a little Kylie or Delta Goodrem.  I am sure there are more influences hidden in this talented lady's library.
Diana's songs provoke the listener to feel the emotions of love, hope and are delivered in such a soulful way it's hard not to relax and immerse yourself into the soothing lyrical delivery.

The album has several tracks co-written with Sunny Paxson, the Jazz pianist and composer.  There are a couple of tracks with that instant Jazz feel such as "After The Rain" and "Life" but also the soft and beautiful "Save The World".  The album is an eclectic mix and keeps you guessing what comes next but what is a constant is the mesmerising soulful voice of Diana Barash! The lovely lady is currently working on new material.

Check out these links to find more performances and songs from Diana Barash!
Check my blog soon for more 4 2 WATCH!