BACKBONE CAST Power Within Ourselves EP

Scandinavian blues rock anyone?

Based around the Hannah’s soulful vocals and Hata Salmi’s evocative guitar work, with the sound filled out by Jony Oittinen (drums), Sami Vataja (bass) and Jani Kemppinen (Hammond and piano), the Finnish quintet power a straight, but fairly narrow track on their debut EP.

The uncomplicated, ‘plug in and play’, set is dominated by Joplin-influenced vocals and riff based guitar work, filled out with tasteful bluesy solos.  But while the delivery is impeccable, there’s a ‘grit’ missing compared to more polished exponents like Blues Pills.

The production, in particular, is just too ‘clean’ resulting in the absence of a signature sound.  But there’s enough here to suggest that with a decent producer on board, Backbone Cast could well be contenders.  Ones to watch.  ***

Review by Pete Whalley

PROWESS - Headfirst

PROWESS Headfirst
Release date [17.01.17] https://www.facebook.com/prowessrocks/

Sometimes all it takes is changing one band member to totally reinvent a band. There are several that have changed someone as key as a singer and have gone on to greater success, or at least revitalized to the point that they’re able to maintain the same level of success. When a bigger band does it there is often very little impact on the dynamics of the band. When it is a younger band that has made a name for itself on the local scene at least, it can be crucial.

For the band Pröwess out of Charlotte, NC changing singers not only changed the dynamic, but changed the whole structure of the group. Instead of relying on their past history, the band changed singers and band name, and are now unleashing new material and doing so with a major punch.

Their debut EP Headfirst, the first to feature newcomer Dalton Bowes on vocals, is exactly what they needed to set them apart from where they were prior as 21st Century Goliath. I saw them a couple of times under the old name and, to be brutally honest, I liked the musicians but really didn’t care for the singer at all.

I caught Pröwess live last year opening for Ace Frehley and when I heard who they were with a different singer I was a little non-plussed about it. As soon as they took the stage I was completely won over.

Bowes was not only a better singer, he was a better frontman, and despite some technical difficulties they easily won over the crowd. Headfirst does the same thing on record. With a powerful hard rock and roll sound that is instantly reminiscent of AC/DC meets Kix, with hints of Hanoi Rocks sleaze and Killer Dwarfs melody, the band only hint at the past while forging ahead with a sound all their own.

My favorite track on the album is “Killing A Giant,” and demonstrates why Pröwess have quickly earned themselves a “one to watch” mark for myself. It’s hard hitting, catchy, chock full of masterful guitar work from Scott Roby and Kip Wilson, a tight rhythm section with bassist Kenny Keeler and drummer Adam Ellis, and a vocal delivery that is soulful and driving. The rest of the EP is no slouch either, kicking ass and taking names.

If you love face melting, hard rocking tunes delivered with no pretense, no flash, and nothing but meat and potatoes rock and roll, Pröwess’ Headfirst EP is what you need in your life.

Despite rising from the ashes of a prior band, Pröwess are forging ahead as a brand new entity, with a new fire and life I feel like they were lacking before. Not only does the voice of Dalton Bowes inject new life into the band, the songs soar beyond anything they’ve done prior. The only problem I have? It’s not long enough, and as far as complaints go, that’s a good one to have because I’ll be beyond ready for their next album. ****1/2

Review by Chris Martin

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Power Plays w/c 16 September (Mon-Fri)

BLOCK BUSTER Losing Gravity (Frontiers)
WATCH ME BREATHE Don’t Think I Haven’t Thought About It (The Label Group/INGrooves)
FIRES OF FREYA Take A Bow (indie)
BLACK STAR RIDERS Underneath The Afterglow (Nuclear Blast)
STOMPIN’ HEAT Shiny Curly Red Hair (indie)

Featured Albums w/c 16 September (Mon-Fri)

09:00-12:00 THE DEFIANTS Zokusho (Frontiers)
12:00-13:00 CORELEONI II (AFM Records)
14:00-16:00 TONY McLOUGHLIN True Native (Fuego)

Albums That Time Forgot (Mon-Fri)

BAD COMPANY Company Of Strangers (1995)

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