Monthly Archives: August 2012

what i’m listening to: august 2012

alright music fans get your pads, pens, phones and laptops, it’s time to open itunes and amazon and get your new playlist:

1. KIX – Cold Blood – light, refreshing perfect for the sun, that’s if you’ve got any where you are. KIX have just announced an upcoming live album so get in the mood with this infectious tune.

2. Sister Sin – One Out Of Ten – from the 1st album it’s a great track to get your blood pumping in anticipation of the new release in October. A special for the girls too.

3. Fatal Smile – Take it to the Limit – since they’re playing with Crazy Lixx, it’s worth checking this band out. A sort of sleaze-metal, they’ve got elements of the heavier stuff and a more melodic side also. A mixed bag.

4. Crazy LixxRiot Avenue – the title track off the latest album it’s loud, rebellious and raw.

5. H.E.A.T – Never Let Go – a heart-wrenching, emotion-filled track from melodic Swedish band with their old singer. I will always prefer the older albums and this song, is of course, from their self-titled album,

Album of the month: LA Guns – American Hardcore – if you’ve read the review then you’ll know already that it’s a strong album and the more you listen to it the more viral you’ll find it becoming in your head. Not in a bad way either. Good sleazy vocals and some catchy riffs, you’re sure to find a few favourites between the tracks.

And what’s coming up…?

  • Crazy Lixx and Fatal Smile at The Underworld Camden – 7th September – 7pm – Crazy Lixx have araw, sleazy sound with melodic choruses, anthem-like backing vocals and talent too. Loads of energy and sure to be a great show.
  • W.A.S.P at HMV Forum – 21st September – at £22,50 tickets aren’t so bad compared to the likes of Thin Lizzy and Alice Cooper. A band that is still going strong and the Forum is a fun venue too.
  • Ginger Wildheart at Barfly, Camden – 28th September – OK so you’ll have to put up with support from a Miss Mia Klose who’s debut album was more pop-rock than rock-star but The Wildhearts have been around a while and vocalist Ginger is not one to miss. You’ll be hard pressed to get tickets though, even though they’ve added an extra show the same night! Attenders also have the chance to vote on the setlist.
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la bodeguita del medio: Czech this out!

La Bodeguita del Medio: Karpova, Prague, Czech Republic

It’s a world away from the cobbled streets and commercial humdrum of Prague city centre but it is in fact right at the heart of the Old Town and a restaurant popular with both tourists and locals alike. Prague delivers a number of different cuisines, notably popular are Italian and French but cuban and creole?

The place is a jungle. The windows at the front open right onto the pavement, allowing for easy access between bar and street, where two muscley Amercian 60’s cars are parked to add to the atmosphere. The walls are covered in a rainforest scene, creepers and potted plants dangling from balconies while the tables have glass tops so you can entertain yourself by peering at the sand and shells stored inside. You can choose to sit near the bar, where the chatter is loud and lively, or retreat to the inner depths of the surprisingly large building where quiet dining tables await you beside murky fish tanks and dark wooden staircases that almost resemble tropical trees.

The waitresses were all smiley, keen to top up our wine and water glasses and managing to not make it look like a chore. Lively music beats in the background, quiet enough to be unobtrusive while keeping the place fresh and vibrant, not that it needed to with the influx of clients; young, old, drinkers, diners and from all over the world too.

But to the food. Oh the food. Someone in this kitchen has their head screwed on the right way for quality. You can spot several traditional cuban-style dishes on the menu such as the ropa vieja (shredded beef) and arroz congri (red rice with beans). It’s the Eastern Cuban cuisine that dominates, with African and Carribean roots, but the more European cuisine of Western Cuba can also be found in the paellas, salmon and spicy bean soup. More eye-catching items might include the lobster in papaya sauce and fried malanga (a Cuban vegetable like potatoes.)

A starter of goat’s cheese gratin was, as my companion declared, “the best goat’s cheese starter I’ve ever had.” I can tell you that that’s a few. The cheese was of a fantastic quality – soft and creamy – sitting abed a light, flaky pastry, while the dried tomato on top provided that savoury aridity. The presentation was very chic and, admittedly, it surprised us as we expected something a little more “bashed-out and served-up” style given the lazy, cocktail-bar surroundings. A swirl of balsamic vinegar completed the dish and what a great start it was.

For mains, we picked two from the cuban specialities and a seafood dish, keen to see how it fared in a landlocked country. 4 fat tiger prawns baked in sea salt with a garlic puree rubbed off any doubts about that. The pink-white flesh was not at all chewy but juicy and complimented by crunchy crumbs of salt. The garlic puree was smooth and pungent, whipped to be light and delicate. A side of grilled vegetables consisted of courgette, tomato and pepper, the black lines scored across the chunky pieces – basic but with that fantastic chargrilled taste.

Ropo viejas, also written as beef jerky, was shredded beef that first looked like beef stew. How fooling appearances can be. The spicy marinade elevated the already good-quality beef to a smoky, tomatoey medley, the sauce being a good addition. A mound of white rice was a little formal in its dome-mould, out of touch it seemed with the rest of the laid-back but sharp presentation. However, it fell apart into the salsa and was cooked to a t. Flavoured with oregano and lime, the dish had typical Cuban seasonings and did them justice.

Finally, was fried pork chunks marinated in lime and orange, served with rice congri. The pork was overdone, becoming chewy which let down the rest of the dish because it was presented beautifully in an oblong of dark rice and beans, scattered with onions and coriander. The orange was a little subtle due to the overcooked pork though the lime was prominent and the rice added a nutty undercurrent. Congri is the classic beans and red rice which have been cooked together and these small beans had a delicious bite to them. If it had not been for the pork, it would have been faultless.

Persuaded by our waitress to have a dessert because “we do excellent desserts I think” we opted for the only Cuban sounding choice: roasted banana and pineapple flambeed in Cuban rum with caramel, green pepper and vanilla ice cream. Need I say more? The fact that these ingredients came together in such harmony showed the creativity and skill of the chef. The banana, or plantain as it turned out to be, was served in its skin, drizzled with rum, caramel sauce and caramelised sugar though the pineapple looked suspiciously like it had come from a tin. The green peppercorns were fiery, scorching down your throat so that you reached for another spoonful of the ice cream – definitely not a dollop of Haagen Dazs which was also, rather disappointingly, on the dessert menu. It didn’t take us long to agree with the waitress.

The great thing about this restaurant is not only the food; it’s not terribly expensive but very good value and has such a colourful, dynamic atmosphere that you would think attention to detail on the cuisine would be lost. Far from it.  None of it is terribly imaginative, albeit traditional Cuban but the quality and authentic ingredients make it a winner.

Going to Prague? Forget Czech and go Cuban. Not going to Prague? Well you need to re-think your next holiday then.

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Plachutaas: big, beefy but just a wee bit bizarre

Plachuttas Gasthaus zur Oper: Walfischgasse, Vienna, Austria

It has the feel of somewhere more contemporary, more modern than its Viennese surroundings of pale painted houses and narrow streets. Outside, a mix of Americans, Austrians and Germans sit under heated parasols in a Summery al-fresco setting while inside, diners relax in a cream and pale grey interior and staff seem to appear and vanish noiselessly in an already peaceful room.

I often complain of the noise in restaurants, of tables being too close together and the light either being too harsh or too low. Here, while the tables were pitched cheek by jowl, the chatter didn’t seem to travel; perhaps the Austrians are quieter than my fellow English foodies. The lights extended from the walls over your table so you could not only adjust where the light fell but it always fell straight onto the table, where you need it, while the rest of the room remained in tranquil duskiness.

The staff were adept at seating you and bringing drinks – the atmosphere of a pre-theatre restaurant slapped all over the clean white walls. It was a little distant but with that professionalism so you don’t mind so much and the staff were far from unfriendly too. Bread was already on the table in a neat little bag; the salted variety proved a little overpowering but definitely something I’d like to eat more of. To start we shared a tomato and onion salad along with cucumber in soured cream. The first was over-salted but the red onion delivered a jab of welcome spice to the tomatoes while the latter dish was refreshing and great piled high on morsels of the tasty Viennese bread.

The mains took an awful long time to arrive. The restaurant hadn’t gotten any busier so we had a tough time understanding what the problem was. When they did eventually arrive, it was all a bit of a shock. Fried calves liver was a vast demon of battered meat that spanned the plate, the half-lemon like a speck of colour beside it. The meat, however, was cooked perfectly and was of a superb quality. The potato salad accompanying it was rather bland and a little bright in its yellow colouring. Calves’ liver having the richness that it does, this dish was just too big.

Beef goulash with dumplings was also hearty but beefy too. Hunks of shoulder hid under the tomato sauce, creamy in consistency but without the tartness that tomatoes can sometimes have. The dumplings, more like potato cakes in England, could have been browned a little more to add some colour but the texture was fine. The beef was sweet and tender though some slivers of fat and gristle sneaking around weren’t exactly welcome surprises.

The sirloin steak with chanterelles was served on the edge of medium, slightly underdone but none the worse for it. It was thick slab of meat, the creamy sauce with the chanterelle mushrooms just right and the potato dumplings cooked and coloured well.

The desserts were pricey, knocking around the €7 mark and we opted for peach tartare with homemade sorbet and pistachios. I’d be lying if I said we didn’t laugh out loud when it arrived. It looked like someone had been sick on our plate, smoothed it into a circle, topped it with a scoop of pale pink sorbet and dropped a leaf on top. We tried to forget first impressions as we got stuck in. The diced peach topped with pistachios was sweet, almost like a chunky compote, though the pistachios were getting soggy in the moistness of it all and going soft. The sorbet, a weak raspberry flavour, was creamy and soft, not at all icy, and complimented the sweetness of the peaches well. All I can say is that it wasn’t worth €7.90.

The menu seemed to be traditional Viennese (schnitzel, goulash, boiled beef, cabbage pasta) though it felt simplified, perhaps for tourists, and when served lacked finesse or elegance, or even accompanients such as vegetables or salads and looked brash, comical even, in the stylish surroundings. The big portions cover the inconsistencies of the menu and it’s disappointing that the food doesn’t live up to the expectations when you are first whisked in by attentive waiters that soon decide you are secondary now that you are seated.

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Bellaria: where time stands till but cake goes quick

Bellaria: Bellariastrasse, Vienna, Austria

First open in 1870, Bellaria can boast of its Austrian heritage and Viennese traditions. You can tell too. The interior is dark wood panelling hugging plush window seats of red faux-velvet while dainty chairs cluster around small circular tables; art-decor would be an understatement.

The staff were typically brusque in a not unfriendly way, determined to point us in the correct direction of what cake to choose. “Apfelstrudel, fresh. This one caramel coffee, very nice. This, torte, also very good.” I’m not surprised we ended up trying two. The apfelstrudel (fresh, by the way) was surprisingly moist, wet almost, nothing like I had seen before. It wasn’t soggy and held together though, strong flavours of cinnamon pushing through the apple and raisin. It was served in the traditional oblong slice sprinkled with icing sugar and, devoid of ice cream or any other interfering accompanient, the strudel could certainly fight its own corner. Yes, I think a crispier pastry would have been better, and more in line with the national-dish style; it would have also looked a little more appetising.

We followed our hosts’ advice again, this time opting for the cardinal slice. Served in a thick cuboid slice the colours of the sponge and egg whites when mixed form the colours of the Catholic Church – yellow and white. Ours was true to tradition; a genoise-like cake underneath which was a layer of white meringue mixture which had been hardened until just chewy. Running through the middle was a rich layer of espresso-flavoured cream. This was wonderfully strong without the bitterness of a straight espresso and the smoothness of the cream matched the sticky meringue beautifully. Very different to the strudel in taste and texture but with a lovely fluffiness not usually found in creamy cakes.

And while you sample these decadent sweets served straight from the deli counter to your island of forgotten Austria, you are transported to a place where time stands still and where haste and immediacy have no meaning: the land of Viennese coffee culture. Any traditional coffee shop will have you landing there in no time, only allowing you to take off back to the raging world of modern day when you have downed the last of your dark, slightly bitter coffee, paid your bill and forced yourself from your chair. But if you want to do it in style, comfort and just outside the magnificent classical Parliament building and gothic-style town hall, then do it in Bellaria.

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Oberlaa: Make room for macaroons!

Oberlaa: Babenbergerstrasse, Vienna, Austria

If you have a sweet tooth then this is the place for you. Vienna is known for its sachertorte, apple strudel and chocolates but Oberlaa takes it to the next level both in terms of presentation and taste. Sure, it’s expensive (a box of Grand Marnier truffles will set you back €12 for 9 chocolates) but what can you expect from a cafe so close to the popular MuseumsQuartier? The display is staggering. There are chocolate cakes, strudels (apple and quark cheese), nut tortes, macaroons coloured blue, green, brown and a bright bubblegum pink and not to mention every variety of truffle under the Austrian sun. It’s a shame we stopped by just for lunch, really…

The cafe itself is simple and inviting with a pale wooden and orange interior. The service was very quick and friendly, the food arriving with no fuss and although in very little time, not too quickly for comfort either.

A ham roll finely garnished turned out to be a medley of peas, sweetcorn and carrot trussed in mayonnaise and wrapped in two slices of thin ham. Beside it was a crunchy leaf salad, baby corn and gherkins both welcome additions. Sesame bread and the classic soft Vienna bread filled out the salad. Oberlaa toast was a cheese and ham toastie served with a dish of sweet tomato sauce. The toastie was nothing special unfortunately and the sauce was a little too lumpy and thick in consistency. Still, nothing inedible and it was declared enjoyable. Finally was the Austrian veal sausage which, in no disparaging way, looks rather like a Frankfurter hotdog. The veal added a slightly meatier taste and the mustard was French-style; tasty. Grated horseradish was an interesting addition and worked well. It was decided that the sausage was a bit too Frankfurter-like when we matched the taste and appearance but the tag attaching the two long sausages together assured us it was all Viennese.

Lunch here is hit and miss but they do have a daily specials menu from 11-1pm that includes more substantial Viennese dishes so choose wisely and keep room for a slice of cake. Or, hand choose a selection of their lovely chocolates and stuff yourself silly.

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Sowieso: Value in Vienna

Sowieso: Das Wienen Restaurant, Fleischmarkt, Vienna, Austria

Set in a quiet street just outside central Vienna, Sowieso is laid-back, friendly and fantastic value for money. They serve a mix of traditional Austrian dishes including cream soups, veal goulash, schnitzel and apricot dumplings.

We sat outside, the Summer heat wave still inciting scores of residents and tourists to take to the streets in search of food, drink and in general, a good time. Sowieso was busy but the service, conducted by a friendly couple who spoke competent English, was fast and not at all intrusive. They made every effort to enable us to enjoy our experience, including offering advice on the menu and taking the hint that we needed more time to choose. And boy was it hard to.

Aside from the nine set menus that deliver three courses for anywhere between €15 and €20, there is a monthly menu and also an a la carte. To start, we opted for Austrian Tapas to share. A delightful platter arrived with taster versions of the restaurant’s most prized main dishes. Veal goulash was mouth-wateringly tender in a steamy tomato sauce; cream of parsnip soup had just a hint of nutmeg and spice to add that touch of warmth while crispy croutons floated near the top; a cold beef salad topped with slivers of red onion was shredded beef offset by the sharpness of balsamic vinegar and the nuttiness of the truffle oil, delicious! Finally breaded chicken and potato salad fell apart between your teeth, the choice of dark meat a good one to add that extra meaty flavour. Dainty pieces of baguette were useful for mopping up the juices.

A main of chanterelle mushrooms in cream sauce with potato dumplings from the August menu was a sure hit. The sauce was rich but not overpowering, the mushrooms with a full and nutty taste – even meat-lovers would be satisfied. The dryness of the potato dumplings was perfect to compliment to sauce – a real traditional treat we were told. I can’t disagree. Also from the August menu was fried Styrian chicken – Styrian being an area of Austria – the chicken was actually deep fried in a crispy dark breadcrumb batter served beside a potato salad with pumpkin oil. The batter held to the chicken well, though the breast was a little tasteless. The thigh and wing meat was tastier, as expected, though nothing outstanding here. The salad was better; the pumpkin oil delivering just a hint of the vegetable’s sweetness though the amount made it all a bit greasy and tart.

Finally came a minute steak with crispy onions and fried potatoes. The steak was cooked to be tender and the onions, rings so thin and delicate they were like ribbons of dew, were wonderfully light and crunchy. The potatoes were a bit too salty though and could have had less time cooking. The gravy serving was rather generous but, as we quickly saw here, portion size means nothing.

For dessert there was a typical creme brulee for those who can’t go without their caramel and cream. For the more culture-lovers, be sure to sample the warm apricot dumpling; made from semolina and topped with a sprinkling of icing sugar, this chewy, doughy dumpling has nothing of the doughnut texture that you might assume. Far from being rubbery or overly sweet, it has a great bite to it and inside hides a full apricot. Finished off by a dollop of apricot compote and crumbs of crystallised sugar, this dessert was the star of the show. It’s also available as two smaller dumplings stuffed with Austrian ice cream – apparently just as popular!

Sowieso is not fine dining but that’s not what you’re paying for; what you are paying for is attentive and relaxed service, generous helpings of good quality Austrian cuisine and an altogether pleasant evening. And here, you get what you pay for too.

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Bacher Brot: and why we need more bakeries in England

Bacher Brot, Edergasse 522, Mayrhofen, Austria:

They open at 6.30 am so the 2,500 inhabitants and, in Summer, the 2,500 tourists can carry the warming smell of fresh bread and the sweet crumbs of croissants in paper parcels back for breakfast. Or they can stop off to pick up a thick slab of any one of an astonishing variety of cakes for an afternoon treat, as the shop and cafe opens again from 2pm – 6.30pm.

Every day we sampled their bread and croissants instead of buying from the local supermarket. There is a vast choice but the staff there are happy to recommend and advise and know a huge amount about their products. They do, after all, hand-make them in a wood oven or Holzofen. 6-Kornbrot, or corn bread, was nutty and textured – lovely with an al-fresco lunch on the balcony. It was perfectly cooked too – neither doughy nor crusty. The butter croissant was a thick half-ring though a little overdone. Topfentasche was pastry filled with quark-cheese and dusted with sugar; sweet, like mascarpone cream, and probably the nicest pastry on offer. A schokocroissant was again just a little crunchy and dry, the chocolate filling too reminiscent of nutella. Finally was the ancestor of the croissant, the kipferl which came with a nut filling and topped with sugar. This one was too sweet and, somehow we were surprised by this, too dry and overcooked.

We decided to branch out into the cake department. Austria, after all, is famed for its rich cream cakes and the battle for the original sachertorte. We chose one slice of the acclaimed sachertorte and a square slab of what I believe was malakoff torte but what the lady serving us identified as “with nuts.” Still, our eyes were quite happy to choose for our stomachs! Unfortunately we shouldn’t have let them.

The sachertorte sponge was dry, evidently not made with real chocolate or anything like as rich and decadent, while the waifer thin filling of cherry jam was a little slimy. The icing was beautifully done and a deliciously dark colour; smooth and creamy in texture it lifted this disappointment of a cake. The malakoff torte is supposed to be an Austrian versian of tiramisu. Ours was more like a sweetened version of carrot cake with an iced chocolate topping; I enjoyed this hard topping swirled with white chocolate but the nut-infused sponge was lacking in moisture. The cream filling made up for this but did little to make us fight over the final piece.

The croissants were passable, though disappointing, the cakes even more so. The problem with a family-run bakery with such lovely staff, dedicated and traditional methods and elegant presentation is that you want the food to be good. If you do come, come for the bread, or pop into the cafe for breakfast or a cup of coffee to meet the staff. It’s great to see a bakery like this delivering to the local stores and being used by the people of Mayrhofen; the whole idea makes me wish we hadn’t lost that culture in the UK.

Links: http://bacherbrot.com/ENGLISH_Site/pages/home.html

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Beverly Killz: A Debut Album To Be Proud Of

Beverly Killz – Gasoline and Broken Hearts – July 2012

Track List:

  1. Never Back Down
  2. Away From Danger
  3. Baby You’re On Target
  4. Dark Lady
  5. Livin’ & Dyin’
  6. Riding Alone
  7. For Love
  8. Power Of Sex
  9. Sin City
  10. In Sorrow
  11. What Is Love (90s cover) –

Band:

  • Vocals – Vince
  • Guitars – Mak
  • Rhythm – John
  • Bass – Andrea
  • Drums – Fabio

The album name may be a little cliché but I do love it. Another band from Italy in the sleaze culture, this time claiming modern metal elements. I’d say that they do their genre of street rock pretty well.

The vocals are the weakest part of the band but when frontman Vince puts the passion first then the songs really start to take off because the vocal edge is added and he no longer sounds so tentative. Never Back Down has a Crazy Lixx vibe to it while Away From Danger is more melodic, the guitar clean and the bass prominently in the driving seat, although a little simple playing-wise. It’s refreshing to hear an upcoming band that doesn’t feel the need to fill out the sound with constant noise; Baby You’re on Target and Dark Lady both have toned down parts complimented by heavier, fiercer choruses. The latter also has one of the better solos where guitarist Mak finally lets rip with the guitar and the result is a spinning, screaming whirl of melodic metal. For Love is worth listening to for the faster pace and darker tone and it’s one of the catchier songs too. This band have a tendency to fall into the trap of what they’re comfortable with and keep playing it so the songs blend a little too much. Sin City is punchier, a sort of melodic-metal touch to the chorused backing vocals. The cover of 90’s dance track What Is Love was a strange but creative choice in my opinion. It’s a great take on the track though In Sorrow was one of the more competent originals and I think I’d have preferred it to end on that.

They’re a band who I think are punching high but not entirely above their weight and I’d keep an eye out for them. If you enjoy this album you can check out their 2010 EP Straight From The Underground for further listening. You may also enjoy Jettblack or Crazy Lixx

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Jacobs of Mayrhofen

Jacobs, Hauptstrasse Mayrhofen, Austria:

The Alpine sun is beating down on your neck at around 28 degrees celsius. Your throat is dry and thirsty and a light snack wouldn’t be off the menu if offered either. Cue Jacobs, nestled amongst the tourist and trekking shops of Mayrhofen’s high street, it comes complete with bakery, take-away ice cream stall and a restaurant with indoor or outside seating. There is also a small garden, allowing you to escape from the streams of cyclists, walkers and holiday-makers exploring the town.

I cannot comment on the full extent of the menu at Jacobs so will convey to you just what we ordered. A Hausbecher Eis (grosse of course!) was nut, vanilla and chocolate ice cream and amaretto liquer topped with whipped cream and garnished, if that’s possible with a sundae, with two types of wafers, a chocolate truffle and flaked almonds in a vast glass bowl. The ice creams had melted a little which was disappointing but their flavours were strong, especially the vanilla and the praline – both rich and not at all overly sweet. One of the wafers was a little different in that it was much thicker and drier than expected – tasty and textured. The amaretto didn’t really hit home until the end when the thin gruel of melted ice cream and remnants of whipped cream waited to be scooped out by the ice-cream-lovers of the table. There were also a touch of strawberry ice cream hiding in and around the praline; a mistake I believe, as it was only small splatters of the stuff, but it upset the flavour balance.

Drinks-wise, soda holunder-citrone was refreshing and fruity – the elderflower and lemon tangy but not sour. I only wish it was larger! Bio-Darjeeling or darjeeling tea, was served as expected but also in a flowery china cup the size of an elephant’s drinking bowl, and so it should be for the price. A heart-shaped shortbread biscuit accompanied it – a little crunchier would have been nice but it made a change from the more usual biscuits/chocolate you can be served with.

A comfortable and tasty place to visit, especially if you have a sweet tooth. If you do eat in, or even if you don’t have time to, make sure to pop into the food shop and get a glimpse of the giant pretzel-breads, croissants and stuffed raisin-breads, or swing by the ice-cream parlour next door – you can tell which it is from all the people clutching their generously-filled waffle cones outside on the steps!

 
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Mia Klose: London – and how it breaks my heart

Mia Klose: London

Tracklist:

  1. Open Your Eyes
  2. You Drive Me Crazy
  3. Mama
  4. Living For Tomorrow
  5. London’s A Heartbreaker
  6. Lady Killer
  7. Never Too Late
  8. City of Rock

Band:

  • Mia Klose
  • Melly
  • Danny Drama

 

Known for her solid vocals and theatrical stage show….the emphasis is on quality…perfect fusion of metal and melody that screams radio hit.

Well, I can vouch for the theatrical stage show yet, but as for the other snippets from her biography, I wish they’d been proved in her debut album. Mia Klose is from Sweden but the album was produced in London and it is almost painful for me to see this wonderful city’s name on this album.

Her image is one you would expect of 80s metal; leather, lace, the long hair and heavy eye make-up. I was excited that a girl had finally put herself out there in this genre because we’re rapidly losing female contributions, even bad ones. The likes of Lita Ford, Joan Jett and even Liv Jagrell are fading or are largely unheard of.

Unfortunately the album does not ooze with the attitude and balls of the genre she claims to be a part of. Open Your Eyes lacks the fundamental I-don’t-care-what-you-think vibe and while the song is fairly catchy it just seems a little unstructured and all over the place. Klose’s voice is a little nasal and the whole thing is too polished and over-produced for a raw, 80’s sound. Mama has a better riff with more drive but the fierceness from Klose just comes across as too fake, too , dare I say it, wannabe. Fans of Guns’n’Roses will immediately hear Paradise City in the opening of ballad Living for Tomorrow, if only the song wasn’t so long and repetitive. London’s A Heartbreaker is possibly Klose’s best-known song and it’s a shame that it blends in with the rest of the album so much. The last three tracks were, musically, more promising though there’s nothing here to blow you away or even to prick your ears. The solos are better and the composition more solid. Lady Killer has a bit more guts about it and I liked the opening of Never Too Late. More often than not the problem is that the vocal melody doesn’t run in harmony with the instrumental tracks and the result is something incoherent that is hard to listen to.

I’d be interested to see Klose’s live performance, especially in terms of her vocal skill as there is nothing overly promising here. I think the potential could be developed and turned into something a bit more aggressive to match her image but it has left me wondering if there’s anything behind it all; at the moment I don’t see the talent to achieve her goals but rather an artist who seems to have put a lot of focus on her media image and over-styled biography. It’s a shame because the passion is obviously there. For pop fans? Yes, try it, you may well enjoy it.

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