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Issa - 'The Storm' (frontiers records) 4/5

I've always had a bit of liking for the old rock diva style of things, a root through some of the darker recesses of my record collection will turn up albums by the likes of Tina Turner, Bonnie Tyler, Lee Aaron, Fiona Flanagan and a fair few others, and its been a long time since a rock diva has crossed my path. So I was a bit happy when I got sent this the second album by Norwegian songbird Issa and I've gotta say I am rather enjoying this.

Issa herself has a great voice, I'm reminded of a sort of hybrid of Natalie 'Torn' Imbruglia and Anne 'Heart' Wilson; its a natural voice, it has all the range and power without the wail if you get what I mean. She has a good phrasing and even if she is a bit 'breathy' in places, her voice is highly likable and very listenable.Musically there is nothing really earth shattering on offer. But with a list of collaborators and co-writers that includes members of such acts as House Of Lords, Toto, Journey, Work Of Art, Xorigin and more you know your gonna get some damn fine tunes for Issa to do her stuff on.

Over all this is a good record, it is commercial, anthemic, expertly produced and performed and manages to avoid most of the commercial rock / rock diva cliches. Ok we do have the power ballad Too Late For Love, that is a pure stadium rock cheese fest, but thankfully that track is the exception rather than the rule. Elsewhere the standard is pretty high. Highlights include What Does It Take, a cut that sounds like Passion Works era Heart, the epic closer The Storm with its huge climax, Two Hearts which sounds a little like classic House Of Lords and my favorite cut - We're On Fire which has a touch of the Asia's about it.

All in all this is a good album that whilst it isn't blowing me away I am finding is very listenable, and is a worthy addition to the canon of great albums by great rock divas.

For fans of... Heart, Paramour, Bonnie Tyler, Journey...

The Dirty Youth - 'Red Light Fix' (RMR Records) 4.5/5

I've been looking forward to getting my hands on a copy of this debut album from South Wales female fronted sleazy hard rockers The Dirty Youth, ever since the lead single Fight arrived at BCFM central a month or so back; and at last Red Light Fix is here...

And all I can say is 'wow'. This album is right up my musical alley. Ten cuts of pure down and dirty, greasy lowlife sleaze metal that has really put a smile on my face after a pretty stressful week. We kick off with Rise Up, a tasty cut of prime rawk that starts off sounding like Within Temptations slutty younger sister at chucking out time and resolves into a glorious air punching anthem for our time 'Rise up join the revolution' great stuff. Having laid out their stall from the off The Dirty Youth carry on very much in the same vein Tracks like the fantastic drinking anthem Requiem For The Drunk, the highly headbangable Ellen - with its intro riff that wouldn't sound out of place on a classic Saxon album, the sleazy bump and grind of the title track and the dark and brooding Promises all flash past in one glorious stream of very highly enjoyable high energy blur of first rate power rock until all to soon you reach the climactic and anthemic This Is For You a track that does indeed mark TDY as the natural successors to the late lamented SAL as maybe the UKs premier female fronted rockers.

This album is commercial as it is possible to get without loosing any of the fire and attitude of the underground. It is played to perfection, well produced, catchy as a seasonal cold (but without the headaches, snotty snot boxes and sore throats) and over all one of the best rock albums of the year so far.

TDY are already a band that are making waves; a show stopping performance at this years Download festival and the UK's rock press and broadcasters rightly getting behind the Fight single, has already marked this lot out as one of the cream of the crop of the UK rocks next generation, and Red Light Fix is an album that will only go to boost their career onto bigger and even better things.

Very Highly Recommended.

For fans of... SAL, Doro, Obsessive Compulsive, Rock In Your Pocket etc...

My Extraordinary - 'Reality' (self released) 2.5/5

I am always suspicious when a new and unsigned band makes big claims in their release blurb, after all music fans are not stupid. if your gonna make huge claims about yourselves you better have the music to back it up, or your only gonna look like stupid hyped up ego trippers. So when I got this mini album from Newcastle indie rockers My Extraordinary and read the following (unattributed) quote "Newcastle has failed to provide the music industry with anything deserving of the City's title since Maxïmo Park but now we've finally found our diamond in the rough", and they are making statements like "they have become well known for their unique brand of alternative rock;" I couldn't help but pay special attention.

First up, I gotta be honest, there is nothing Extraordinary on offer here, this album is seven cuts of bog standard indie rock Don't get me wrong, they are some good songs on offer, and I can't knock the playing or the production either, it's just that My Extraordinary are not really different from any of the other indie rock hopefuls that pass through my inbox every year. You get all the standard modern alt rock and indie influences ticked off... Coldplay, Muse, Radiohead, Franz Ferdinand etc etc etc, all the lessons of 'alt Rock Production 101' have been followed... the big choruses, the soaring vocals, angsty piano parts, huge chiming guitars... But its nothing special, just tune into the day time output of Kerrang! fm and you'll hear this sort of stuff all day long.

The first two tracks on offer The Hero That Walked Away and Heroin sound so similar that when I first played this album through I thought they were the same song and while they do change things on the other songs here, there is nothing that stands out as truly remarkable. In fact this release never strays far from the competent mark. Even Amongst The Rain, in my opinion the best track on offer, is a tad forgettable and sings from the same alt/indie rock song book as a thousand other hopefuls I can name.

All of which brings me back to the bands big claims. Is Newcastle and its surrounding area a complete musical backwater with nothing to offer but this standard pop rock fodder? Of course not, in the past few months I've had releases from the likes of Arcite, Down The Machine, The Smoking Rolo Sideshow and others that prove that Tyneside has a lot to offer the world musically. Unique? I think not. They are good, but nowhere near the claims they make for themselves.

Basically, if you like indie / alt rock this lot are worth a short look, but don't believe the hype.

For fans of...  Coldplay, Muse, Radiohead, V0iD, Go Team etc....

NOTE  - since posting the above I have recieved a number of offensive and peronsally threatening messages from either the band themselves and / or their supporters. So I gave them a baddish review, so what, the above is my opinion and so you can't hear  what I hear, I appraoch my reviews  from a neutral perspective, NOT as a fan of the band already so maybe I can hear stuff in here you may not be able to or agree with. Its a called differering opinion, get used to it. So grow up kiddies, My Extraodinary aint going to get anywhere if they or their fans are gonna start flame wars with everyone who may not like them that much, just earn themselves a rep as being complete prima-donna tossers. I have no objection to people differing with my opinion, or posting as such, after all it takes all sorts, but if you have not got the language skills to do it without personal attacks, foul and abusive language and shitty attitudes, you loose the right to comment back.