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TXS - 2009 Transmission X

ALBUM: Transmission X
LABEL: Escape Music
YEAR: 2009


LINEUP: Dag Aspen Brekke - lead vocals * Kenneth E Kristiansen - lead guitar * Terje Smedvoid - keyboards * Kjell Reierstad - bass

TRACK LISTING: 01 Who Will You Run To * 02 Chameleon Man * 03 Time To Say Goodbye * 04 Breathe You Out * 05 Unbelievable * 06 Kicking Leaves * 07 Rat Trap * 08 Turn Back Time * 09 Bad Reputation * 10 Stay



TXS starts another melodic journey for Escape Music, with this and Highest Dream for the moment at least, it does seem that their musical 'Sat Nav' is still programmed to finding quality melodic groups. Although if we bear in mind what was recently highlighted by George in his blog entry discussing the labels latest signings, we could be finding that they may been hitting the odd pot hole of late, it will be an interesting 6 months for them. Well until then let's consider TXS who have managed to produce a fine melodic release. TXS are the latest exports from Norway, though have been around in another life - previously known as Hush. Actually, it's been a bad week for Norway, first they win the Eurovision, and secondly we now have an image that all Norwegians are all smiling fellows singing about Fairytales, and playing on broken fiddles! I would rather have the vision of Wig Wam to provide a suitable role model, either way they are now faced with a multi million pound expense to stage next year's finals. Being a fairly cynical person I would wager that the only reason for the UK's improved showing, could be that our European friends are trying to bankrupt us by getting us to stage the finals. Although along with the Olympics, we seem to be quite capable of being able to ruin our own credit rating! Anyway enough of financial matters, but safe to say in terms of value for money, an investment in TXS will have a much better return.

The Songs
'Who Will You Run To' gets the 'Transmission' started and it is a polished opening, instantly recognisable as special. A stunning riff, mixing Clouseau and Aquila, vocal wise taking options from the U.S group The Calling. The musical scenery is provided by the guitars making lots of sound in the background, preparing to let rip in the chorus. A couple of lines of verses only stand in the way as its back into the chorus, and frankly it really doesn't need anymore verses, brilliant.

'Chameleon Man' is one of my favourites and changes colour as quick as the title suggests with its hooks simmering underneath the high gloss that the song is blessed with. Like many of the songs they come across with quite minimalist production. While I don't especially hold Stage Dolls in that high regard, they, like TXS, have the tendency to play very basic songs without the need of layers of keyboards or production techniques, but rely on the underlying quality of the song, the simplicity and the melodies.

'Time To Say Goodbye', has a 'Jack and Diane', John Cougar introduction, these first elements of this tune herds the listener into a pen of enjoyment. A great tune which does follow the similar impression of being very laid back, but keeps jabbing you with quick sprints which means the adrenaline starts to flow and a urgency into proceedings, not enough to break sweat but enough to reach for a water to quench your thirst.

'Breathe You Out', could have been picked from the Mitch Malloy debut and provides another credible melodic anthem, a real crispness to the melody.

'Unbelievable' the Max Martin song - so no surprise it is instantly memorable. I knew I had heard it before, but I went for the Back Street Boys instead of the actual performers being of course Def Leppard from their 'X' album. Really this song is so well written I would be surprised if anyone could make a hash of it, TXS give another strong performance which I do rate above the Lepps!

'Kicking Leaves' begins with some Bruce Hornsby inspired piano, which also provides an underlying commentary of where the song lies. Maybe this is what the 90's Christian artists Nouveaux tried to do with their follow up to the marvellous debut coupled together with Swede master Martin Stenmarck. This is a real double bay window on offer here; the melodic hooks are on full view for all to see. This is a very special song that encapsulates everything that is good about this album.

While 'Rat Trap' may contain a catchy chorus it doesn't always mean it is a good song. Ok, in time it may turn into a more pleasing song and then explode into life. It does give more variety but unfortunately this will find them sitting on the veranda and having a sly smoke without rocking the chair too vigorously, which is a shame.

'Turn Back Time' shows a slower side to the groups repertoire, this leads to the vocals being more passionate, more feeling, even westcoast, these elements bring together a quality ballad. Snakes In Paradise seem a possible reference, bringing back memories of the second wave of scandi AOR, remember Great King Rat, when Z Records had a particular spree on quality releases, Savannah etc. Although the tune never reaches crusing speed the fine guitaring has the pull of John Sykes and Scott Gorham.

Continuing on a Thin Lizzy theme, well in terms of album titles, we have 'Bad Reputation' which mixes a Wild Cherry, 'Play That Funky Music' introduction which then forms into a tune that puts together early Electric Boys with Winger. The riffs have a dirtier feel.

'Stay' brings the curtain down with another good ballad; it has a shining example of a very capable chorus, touch of Bon Jovi perhaps. This provides TXS with a confidence booster, which should give them the necessary oomph to continue for the next season and provide a follow up. With the recent signing of the Rutle brothers since the recording, it shows that TXS could well be a long term commitment with touring being a serious consideration.

In Summary
From my reckoning it's only Kenneth Kristiansen (who also appeared on one track from Ted Poley 'Collateral Damage') who is the only common factor from those Hush days, plus the recent addition to the band of Ragnar Rutle on drums, although as a band it appears they were active way back in 1996. While taking account of this you can't exactly expect a re-run of Hush. While Kenneth has an important impact on the album, a major force is the duo of vocalist Dag Aspen Brekke and Terje Smedvold on keyboards, all of course being talented songwriters. While a large proportion of the songs are individually identifiable, they are a couple I am not totally convinced about. However they seem to have the right techniques in producing exceptional melodies and be able to swing from one style to another while still clinging firmly onto their melodic roots. To conclude, this is London calling and here are the results from the United Kingdom jury, we give 8 points to Norway.

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#1 | imprimateur on May 24 2009 15:19:50
Not surprised at the Stage Dolls comparison. Yes, agree about the minimalist sound thing, but despite that, boy SD sound good. Need to check this out. hmm!

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