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Houston - II

Houston
II
by YngwieViking at 08 August 2013, 11:14 AM

The relatively young Swedish AOR outfit, HOUSTON will release their new album, "II", on September 2nd in Europe/USA through Livewire / Cargo Records. HOUSTON’s "II" is the much sought after sequel to the highly acclaimed, self-titled debut in 2010, which was ranked very high in most of the Final TOP 20 / playlist in the little AOR community. The recipe is effective, the band has taken the same stylistic elements and worked on details and arrangements endlessly until they have enough material to choose from, in order to take only killer cuts and giving only the substantial spirit of HOUSTON, I think they succeeded. In between and, to please their fans, HOUSTON had before released “Relaunch”, a cover album, a way to pay tribute to their musical heroes such as DAKOTA / TOUCH / NEW ENGLAND / AIRRACE etc.. that also contains some acoustic renditions of their most notable songs as “Truth Slips ” or “1000 Songs” and along with the first album is a must have for every AOR & 80’s influenced melodic Rock connoisseur.

The great job provided by Producer / Songwriter / Keyboard player & long-time band associate Ricky B. Delin (ex-PRISONER) that for this album has become a full member of the band, is very impressive, the multi layers of instrumentations are crystal clear and the deepness of the vocal harmonies are thrilling and sounds like a million bucks production, no cheap effects or short sounding mixing. Beside original founding members Hampus Hank Erix (Lead Vocals) and Freddie Allen (Drums), the trio has once again used the who’s who of the Sweden's finest melodic Rock musicians, such as the incredibly talented guitar player Tommy Denander and their past collaborator Soufian Ma'Aoui for the bass parts, as well as some prestigious guests as Geir Ronning (ex-PRISONER / ex-RADIOACTIVE / ex-ACACIA AVENUE / ex-SAY IT) on backing vocals.

Since that the grand opening track “Glory” kicks in, until the final hit of “Believe”, the whirlwind keys are everywhere and immediately I was struck by how perfectly crafted were the songs with a clever equilibrium between easy listening mood but also a few unpredictable composition twists , and also by the amazing flawless performance of Mr. Tommy “the ubiquitous axeman” Denander (IMPERA / ex-SPEEDY GONZALES / DEACON STREET PROJECT / PRISONER etc…), that always play the right amount of notes with always the accurate and the expertise tasteful tone. The good news is that HOUSTON sounds very fresh and 2013's updated, it’s definitely not a nostalgic time capsule (only) album, but it will surely delight, all the AOR enthusiastic aficionados, as the DNA of HOUSTON is pure ‘Adult high rated Oriented Rock’ strongly influenced by bands like WHITE HEART, GIANT, BYSTANDER and obviously TOTO, JOURNEY or SURVIVOR, but a competitive AOR band should have an highly skilled frontman, and it’s exactly what Hank Erix  brought: A faultless vocal interpretation, in the great dogmatic tradition that once ruled the airwaves.

Recommended songs are the first great single “I'm Coming Home”, ”Return My Heart”, “Back To The Summer Of Love”, “24 Hours” are also full of infectious qualities, “Just Friends” a Duet Vocal track which reveals the excellent singer Minnah Karlsson, also “On The Radio” and “Talk To Me” are good but are far from the magical touch of the fantastic potential hit-singles ”Losing” or “Glory”.

HOUSTON, we don’t have a problem…

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Glory
2. I’m Coming Home
3. Return My Heart
4. Talk To Me
5. Back To The Summer Of Love
6. 24 Hours
7. On The Radio
8. Losing
9. Just Friends
10. Believe
Lineup:
Hank Erix – Lead & Backing Vocals
Ricky B. Delin – Keyboards & Backing Vocals
Freddie Allen – Drums
Soufian Ma'aoui – Bass
Tommy Denander – Lead Guitars
Record Label: Livewire / Cargo Records
     


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