Luxembourg-based female-fronted alternative rock band Ptolemea has established themselves as a live act with a melancholic, dreamy twist. With a powerful voice, tight grooves and grungy riffs, the outfit delivers their newest EP, Maze.

It’s like the early to mid-90s never went away when you hit play on this EP. While not really being what I would call grunge, more like the glut of alternative bands that came in its wake. I really found myself likening this to Linda Perry’s singing style in 4 Non Blondes. There is a lot of energy in the playing and raw emotion in the vocals that carry this EP.  Priscila Da Costa has a great voice that hits you in the gut and sticks with you. The band is very accomplished and the total package works.

This is an album to throw on and sit in your backyard and have some drinks while cranking it up loud, or hitting the road with the windows down and feeling the breeze hit you in the face…just like this album does.

TALIA – Thugs They Look Like Angels

This three-piece band from Los Angeles and Paris, France is another band that takes their sound from the ‘90s when punk, grunge and rock collided and gave us the alternative rock nation. The lucky thing is that this band takes that and runs into the present with enough energy and talent to surpass a lot of bands from back then that were just generic and boring.

The sound on this album surprised me, it was tight, angry, but not bitter and jaded or bored sounding like the ‘90s bands, instead it had the ability to take the anger and play furiously and with heart. Opener “American Bride” is a catchy and tight piece of music that instantly gets the chorus stuck in your head and was the perfect song to start the album with. The band hits the ground running and makes you look forward to the rest of the album. After the slower, but not slow song “Play Dead,” they come back with “It’s Been Oh So Long.” The song is more in the punk vein with its fast pace and gritty sound. The bass is thicker than fog in London and the energy could light up the city. The album definitely brings to mind the ‘90s, but luckily they manage to keep things interesting enough to make you want to hear more and not think that they are a bland knock-off. The energy and raw talent that is present really takes the songs up quite a few notches from the generic music that is out there passing for rock nowadays. “The Flood” is the only slow song on the album, but it’s not a bland song by any means, it’s just slow, but done really well and a nice change of pace from the rest of the album.

The album really has a lot going for it and with songs played as tightly and with the passion that you can not only hear, but feel, it makes for a great listen. This is the kind of album that you can put on when you are having a party and it will keep the vibe high and get the drinks flowing.

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Vancouver, BC’s HIDDEN TOWERS formed in 2009 and won CITR radio’s Shindig competition; making them the first heavy band to win the competition since 2001. Their first EP called  Great Conjunctions came out in 2010 and the band was put on hiatus due to incessant line-up changes and careers. Now we have their debut full length album called Olympus Mons, seven tracks of hard rock that bring to mind the classic rock of yesteryear, but updated for today.

“Smoke Cloud” is the first song on the album and has a touch of THE DOORS at the beginning of the song with the Jim Morrison styled vocals by Chris Cantrell on guitar and vocals, then it becomes more of a modern rock song with Chris Cornell style singing and heavy grunge mixed with hard rock playing. The guitar work by Cantrell is very hard-edged and melodic, the bass by Ben Holland rolls along nice a smooth, and Jakub Svoboda’s drums are nice and full. “Gleaming The Cube” has a TEA PARTY feel to it, kind of mystical and a late 1960s rock song, “Son Of The Dragon” has more of the hard rock / modern rock sound with intense playing that draws you in, and “Gainsford, AB (Cup Of Blood)” is the hardest track on the first half of the album with more of that SOUNDGARDEN sound. HIDDEN TOWERS really show off their skill at their respective instruments on this album with tight playing that veers in different directions and eras, but is still a cohesive sound that makes everything work together. Svoboda’s drums are heavy, but very melodic, just like the bass from Holland which complements Svoboda’s playing and Cantrell’s guitar playing goes from being soft and gentle to raging and hard in the blink of an eye, along with his chameleon-like vocals which go from grunge to classic rock sounding. “Nobody Knew How High She’d Get” has a nice groove that is a great 1960s type song with great guitar playing from Cantrell, “Comoving Distance” is an epic with the fast and slower parts of the song drawing you in and making you nod your head along to, and the closer “Drowning in the Baptismal Front” is a fantastic end to the album with everything heard during the previous songs gelling into one intense track.