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Articles Home » 2017 Articles » Houston - 2017 Houston III
Houston - 2017 Houston III


ARTIST: Houston
ALBUM: Houston III
LABEL: Livewire
YEAR: 2017


LINEUP: Hank Erix - lead vocals * Soufian Ma'Aoui - bass * Calle Hammar - guitars, backing vocals * Richard Hamilton - keyboards * Oscar Lundstrom - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Cold As Ice * 02 Everlasting * 03 Dangerous Love * 04 Lights Out * 05 Amazing * 06 To Be You * 07 Glass Houses * 08 Twelve-Step * 09 Road To Ruin * 10 Interstate Life



You can't keep these Swedish AORsters out of the action for very long. Even if the band membership hsa changed quiet a bit sicne their 2010 entrance. Gone is drummer Freddie Allen, one of the founders, so too keyboardist Ricky Delin and guitarist Tommy Denander. Holding the fort is singer Hanx Erix, and while the elements of Houston's music stays true to their AOR roots, there are changes afoot, and these are positive ones just in case you were wondering.

The Songs
'Cold As Ice' is the kick-off for the album, with strong keyboard and guitar parts joined at the hip. With a chorus like that, things couldn't be more impressive. 'Everlasting' has stolen the riff from Touch's 'Don't You Know What Love Is', but moving beyond that slight indiscretion (lol!), it's a catchy tune and good to go. 'Dangerous Love' was the first song we heard some months back, and its pop-ready nature didn't quite capture the attention as it probably should have. 'Lights Out' is the album's first ballad, but things go into high-gear on 'Amazing', pumping bass, sizzling synths and another huge chorus. Great AOR is built on killer choruses right? Absolutely. There is no let up, with a slew of entertaining songs going right to the end. 'Twelve-Step' and 'Road To Ruin' continue the sonic melodic assault on your aural senses, while the closer 'Interstate Life' is reminiscent of the material we heard on 2013's 'II' album.

In Summary
Simply brilliant summertime music. What more can I say? I recall that 2013 album of theirs, which stayed on my Deth-Deck for months, and eventually made it to #1 on my 2013 Best Of List. Could 'III follow the same path? I'm not quite sure, as I'm really only listening to this with only a few days of 2017 left to go. Still, I think it might be pushing hard to make it onto the list. But in the meantime, don't hesitate to give this a go. Hank Erix is a bonafide genius and AOR hero. There, I've said it.

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#1 | Cimozzen on December 26 2017 20:58:36
I like the songs presented here, but I did not like the mix/production. The songs sounded "Subdued" in the final mix.

Amazing, To Be You, and Glass Houses are all fantastic songs.
#2 | jeffrey343 on January 16 2018 00:07:35
I was very concerned about the future of this band after the departure of Ricky Delin since the 'Relaunch II' album I reviewed in 2014. And that one was after the departure of Tommy Denander. While it was an album with some high points, some of the choices they made in covers really scared me as far as the direction they would take. And the lead single from this one, 'Dangerous Love', while a catchy song, didn't inspire a lot of confidence. It appeared they made have lost any AOR edge they had in an attempt to go all-out pop. I'm glad to say that they reigned in those tendencies more than I expected and turned out a very nice album. Yes, it is poppier than their previous original albums. But there are some great songs on here.

I had streamed the album several times before my CD arrived. So when I first started looking for songwriting credits, I expected that Erix had been the main writer. Well, he actually didn't have his name in many of the writing credits. So the overall sound is not quite his doing as much as I had thought, although I'm sure he must have set the direction. The sound has a definite pop edge. Many of these songs sound like they could have come from a mainstream U.S. artist at any time since 2000, as there are a bunch of songs I've heard on the radio for years that I've loved that are this same style. I'm thinking of artist like BBMak, Evan and Jarron, O-Town, and others like that, kind of like 'boy band' types of artists. And also some female artists who incorporate a good amount of rock into their pop (like Kelly Clarkson). I know me saying that may not inspire any desire in anyone to give this album a listen...

I have to specifically mention the trio of 'To Be You', 'Glass Houses', and 'Twelve Step'. Man, those three are great. They each could have been a big U.S. mainstream hit the past two decades.

I'm writing this after seeing how this album has been getting panned in Explorer's year-end review. I can understand, as tastes vary. But it works great for my ears.
#3 | Explorer on January 16 2018 09:09:26
Fair Play to you Jeff. I honestly believed I was the only one that didn't `get it`and was surprised as much as anyone to see how it was received by others.
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