Berwanger “Exorcism Rock”
Debut album from Kansas artist Josh Berwanger (The Anniversary, The Only Children) delivers a great single in the title track which blurs the lines of power pop and classic rock, with a chorus worthy of ’70s guitar hit. “Rats & Cats” is another good song with assorted tempo shifts before it settles on a catchy chorus. Berwanger’s voice fits the style well, similar to Joe Elliot’s (Def Leppard) mid-tone rock vocal.
“Booty Shake” resembles a Tom Petty song with its phrasing, “Black Sun” and “I Want You Bad” both feature a killer guitar riff and fast-paced tempos. What makes Berwanger stand out is the seamless ability to go from Ramones-like “Slutty Skin” to standard rock and roll on “Forever” but keeping those hooks in place. The last two songs are “Spirit King” which resembles a mix between Kiss and Extreme, and the glammy epic “Space and Time.” Overall it’s got more than enough here for multiple listens and a great example of melodic rock. Highly Recommended.
Armchair Oracles “In Machina”
One of David Bash’s faves from 2016, Norway’s Armchair Oracles offers up their sophomore LP entitled In Machina. It’s a solid effort, as “Considerations” opens with a jangling rhythm, heavy guitar riffs and minor chord chorus that sticks in your head. “Sound Sleep Sound” is a sweet ballad with delicate acoustic lead featuring Atle Skogrand’s gentle airy lead vocal. The band offers a contrast of the soft jangle atmosphere with a heavy rock riff lead often layered over it, as “Jitterbug” is a good example here. This is the style that rock bands like Radiohead and Coldplay used to be so good at, thankfully Armchair Oracles are just as impressive.
Even better this band knows when to let go and rock heavier like on the powerful “Utility Man.” Some of the music comes close to generic arena rock, (“Here Comes The Feeling”) but the melodies have that little twist to keep it from becoming cliched. “Climbing The Walls” is a nice break with its simple piano riff and slide guitar, almost ELO like. Highly Recommended.