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Gringo Star - 'Count Yer Lucky Stars' (Gigantic Music) 3.5/5

Hailing from Atlanta, Georgia, Gringo Star are another one of the current wave of American retro rock outfits that seam to be popular stateside at the moment. This is their second album.

Now this lot worship firmly at the alter of the mid to late 60's British Invasion sound, coming over like the result of a multi-band horror smash between Beatles, early Yardbirds, Psyche era Status Quo and The Kinks, with The Monkees and Amen Corner piling into the wreckage. And to be honest, whilst this lot are no where near The Pillbugs in their attempt to recreate the swinging 60's pop sounds, they aint to shoddy either. Cuts like the Yardbirds influenced title track and the Beatleseque You Want It are all groovy little workouts that  really do make you want to put on your Carnaby Street threads and find a go-go to go-to.

However there are a few other places such as the sub Tom Jones ballad Esmeralda and the Herman's Hermits B-side sound-a-like Jessica where they seam to get too caught up in the nostalgia trip and forget that not everything that came out of the UK in the 1960's was fab. Still there are enough good tracks like the Kinks fueled riff heavy Make You Mine to make up for a the few dropped balls.

Worth a look

For fans of... The Pillbugs, The Beatles, The Kinks, Lois etc....

Exumer - 'Fire & Damnation' (metalblade) 4/5

Back in the mid 1980's when thrash was young German outfit Exumer were amongst the leading light in the genre. then after two critically acclaimed albums and  numerous tours the band folded in 1990. There was a one off festival appearance at the 2001 Wacken festival, then in 2008 they reformed, and since then have been gigging world wide whilst preparing for this, their first album in 24 years.

So was the wait, just shy of a quarter of a century worth it? Well listening to this one makes me feel like its 1986 again, and that is not a bad thing. Basically F&D is a ten track cakewalk back to those heady day. Cuts like Fallen Saint, Vermin of the Sky (my fave cut on offer) and Devil Chaser are all sweet old school thrash workouts. Not particularly fast or aggressive by modern standards, but still dripping in 1980's style brutality menace and power. Vocalist Mem V. Stein snarls and barks out his bile and anger like a good un, the guitars of HK and Ray Mensh churn, thrash and shred like a pair of Glasgow razor boys at chucking out time, and the demolition crew rhythm section of T. Schiavo and Matthias Kassner drive the whole thing on like a rogue bulldozer. Good stuff, good stuff indeed.

OK, so this album sounds like Exumer sounded back in the day. And there is nothing wrong with that, so often a classic thrash band will try to reinvent themselves for a modern audience and fuck up big time (at this point I will enter into evidence Onslaughts 'Shadows Of Violence' album). Furthermore these days sounding like a classic 1980's thrash band can be an advantage, there is a big revival in retro rock going on at the moment as the youth of today are rediscovering the classic rock and metal of the 70's and 80's; and therefore there is a whole new audience out there just waiting to be 'Exumed'.

Pretty damn good

For fans of... Slayer, Onslaught, English Dogs, Testament, Megadeth etc....

Crazy Lixx - 'Riot Avenue' (frontiers) 5/5

Swedish sleaze fueled rockers Crazy Lixx have been together since 2002 and along with the likes of Sister and Royal Republic are one of the big players in the glam side of Sweden's current classic rock revival. This is their third album.

Now I've been living with this one for a couple of weeks now, and this is the fourth time I've sat down to review it, but I've been having problems with this album, its so damn good and infectious, every time I've played it I've ended up head banging around the flat like a demented teenager, air guitars, the works. So this time I've got the girlfriend to tie me down in front of the computer and beat me with a whip until I've finished writing this one up.

As you can guess I'm like this one big time. From the up tempo double whammy opening of Whiskey, Foxtrot, Tango and Youngblood through to the almost southern boogie closing epic of Only The Dead Know, this album just drips class. It's like all your fave glam and sleaze rock acts rolled into one glorious eleven song package. You get the the classic riffing of Ratt (Youngblood), the mob yell choruses of Poison (Fire It Up), the late night sleaze of Dogs D'Amour (Downtown), the strut and swagger of Skid Row (Sweet, Bad & Beautiful), the full works and its formed into a down and dirty whole that makes this one of the best glam rock / hair metal albums of the past 10 years at least.

I really cannot praise this album enough, the performances here are spot on. Danny Rexon's vocals are distinctive, direct and remind me somewhere of the great Sebastian Bach (Skid Row), Guitarist Andy Dawson is a rare talent, a glam metal guitarist who knows exactly how to read a song and knows when to go OTT and when to rein himself in. Chuck in the rhythm section of Loke Rivano (bass - now sadly departed from the band) and Joél Cirera (drums) who are as tight as a ducks chuff and as driving as Finnish Rally driver in an old group B car, and you do have a band who knows not only how to rock out like a bastard but also how to bring the best out in each other.

In short this is a great album and with glam rock getting a new audience thanks to the likes of the Black Veil Brides,  an outfit that really could go places.

A True Classic
For fans of... Moltey Crue, Ratt, Kiss, Skid Row, Black Veil Brides, Sister etc....