Prime offender is the new album be Enuff zNuff, "Paraphernalia". It barely sounds like Chip and the boys at all. When its only currently released in Japan I cant see why the band are diluting their sound to try and appeal more to the current US mainstream. Theres something very unwholesome about a band losing sight of its roots .
Another Japanese release thats currently rather bugging me at the moment (though Ill probably get flamed for it!) is Harem Scarems "Big Bang Theory". Seems like every time a new Harem album comes out its heralded by comments like "right back to the sound of the first two albums", and "proper follow-up to Mood Swings" how can that be happening every time? Anyway, their album just sounds rather throwaway to me and doesnt fulfil any of the giddy promises others have said it holds. And, another thing, Im still waiting to hear a Harem Scarem album thats really properly produced. I dont know why the band insist on producing themselves put in a more objective producer with a sharper focus and you might well get a melodic rock classic! Right now it seems like squandered potential .
The third Japanese release under my critical eye is the "Brass Monkeys" debut by the ex-FM-ers So. Its a more enjoyable musical experience than Enuff, but only when it is at its best. Some of the other tracks are so obviously "lets try and reach a modern crossover audience" that they sound hollow and totally unconvincing . Sometimes, people have to stick to their guns and do what they believe in, not be totally malleable and shapeless!
Diatribe over I guess. On more positive news, fans of great guitar fusion should have some highlights to look forward early next year as Steve Morse has two new albums on the way. The first will be a completely solo acoustic guitar workout, while the second will be a full Steve Morse Band outing along the lines of the excellent "Stress Fess" and "Structural Damage". Morse Band bassist Dave LaRue is also working on a second solo album (check out his first, its excellent too).
Keep checking out the AOR Basement site at http://www.ifb.co.uk/~aorb/ - new reviews should be uploaded there this week .