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Articles Home » 2009 Articles » House Of Lords - 2009 Cartesian Dreams
 
House Of Lords - 2009 Cartesian Dreams



ARTIST: House Of Lords
ALBUM: Cartesian Dreams
LABEL: Frontiers
SERIAL: FRCD 426
YEAR: 2009

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:

LINEUP: James Christian - vocals * Jimi Bell - guitars * Chris McCarvill - bass * B.J Zampa - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Cartesian Dreams * 02 Born To Be Your Baby * 03 Desert Rain * 04 Sweet September * 05 Bangin' * 06 A Simple Plan * 07 Never Never Look Back * 08 The Bigger They Come * 09 Repo Man * 10 Saved By Rock * 11 Joanna * 12 The Train

RATING:

WEBLINKS: www.jameschristianmusic.com


Background
OK, OK, I geddit. No more jokes about how much I dissed House Of Lords in the past. Those days are long gone. Call me 'converted' (not perverted aye?), may we all bow at the altar of James Christian and his colleagues, because for the third time in a row, the Lordy ones have delivered 'big time'. 'Cartesian Dreams' without question is a monster release. There's no sign of pompous grandeur that prevailed way back in the 80's. Thanks to James, the band has sent any sign of their previous waffly pomp into the atmosphere like the Heene's family's air-balloon in Colorado the other week, now we are left with muscular hard rock, that has been chiselled out on their last two studio releases 'World Upside Down' and 'Welcome To My Kingdom'. Actually, this is pretty heavy by HoL's standards, and to be honest, that's how I prefer it when it comes to listening to these guys now.


The Songs
The title track 'Cartesian Dreams' opens with a grandiose classical entrance, before the booming drums and guitars set in. Majestic is the operative word here, and only a band like House Of Lords can pull it off within the framework of the melodic rock genre. A very cool opener!

'Born To Be Your Baby' might be a cheesy 80's title, but I love the way those fat guitars get their point across in this song. It maybe typical hair-metal fare, but I'll take it.

'Desert Rain' is aimed squarely at the Iraq situation. I'm sure the lyrics will touch someone, but it's the music I'm interested in, and this one typifies HoL's 21st century sound to a tee.

The band present 'Sweet September' as a ballad, and though good, I think we've heard better over the years to be honest.

'Bangin' is a Def Leppard styled rocker, with the big vocal choruses and the typical Lepp structure in place. Is this the year of the Lepp rip-off? Bemused? For sure, but keep it coming!!

'A Simple Plan' is a 50/50 ballad/rocker, never one nor the other. The guitars still add the rough edges, but everywhere else the sound is smoothed out by the mid tempo, tempered vocals and keyboards.

'Never Look Back' features a sharper sound, filled with keyboard parts and vocal harmonies. I like this, and for once we don't get the 'guitar wall of sound'. The sparse approach works well here.

The guitars surely gallop from speaker to speaker as 'The Bigger They Come' looks for a safe place to come crashing down upon your aural senses.

'Repo Man' stalks menacingly, though when Robin Beck steps into the fray on the chorus, the menace is reduced to a minimum.

Listening to the big riffs on 'Saved By Rock', this takes us back to that early 90's MTV era, with some slightly twangy southern guitar licks. However the lyrics touch on the earliest heroes of the rock genre such as Jimi Hendrix, T-Rex and Cream. A history lesson for us all.

I'd swear when I first caught a wiff of the song 'Joanna', I was listening to Y&T's 'Contagious', particularly that chorus. Don't let that put you off, this one gets a pass mark.

The CD ends with a bonus track 'The Train', a jangly acoustic/electric number, with (again) slight southern rock/AOR references.


In Summary
To really get to the bottom of this CD, you'll need to give it a few repeat listens to let the songs wash over you. I found the beginning of the album to be the strongest, while the middle and back end tends to be less engaging. 'Cartesian Dreams' is still a very good album, and though a contender for Top 10 of the year, it won't make Top 5. The keyword about House Of Lords these days is 'consistency', and James and the boys are delivering a very good brand of melodic rock to the public, which is more than I can say about a few other current acts. Now, I wonder whether we should jump to Jasper Wrath and highlight the CD reissue of James' former band?? Watch this space.


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Comments
#1 | rkbluez on November 01 2009 00:50:22
Great Band great disc...a little better and heavier than the last CD...World Upside Down is a killer disc also.
#2 | jeffrey343 on November 02 2009 16:05:57
HOL have been both prolific and consistent the latter part of this decade. This one definitely has a bit more of a 'sleaze' or 'hair-metal' feel than the last two, but they're classy enough to pull it off with nary a trace of cheesiness. I personally put this one just a hair below 'Come To My Kingdom', which has become one of my favorites of the decade. But just a hair, as this one is also damn good.
 
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