Released by: Self
Release Date: September 3rd, 2023
Genre: 80?s influenced AOR/Melodic Rock
1. The Killing Floor
3.Something I’ll Regret
4.When the Summer Ends
8.Dancing On My Own
11.Meet Me Halfway
SAM MILLAR is a musician/songwriter/producer from the Greater Manchester, England area, and after a couple of EP releases, he now releases his full-length debut CD More Cheese Please. He used to be in the FRONTIERS RECORDS signed band BIGFOOT, but eventually went solo and now handles all the guitars, songwriting, vocals and production on his own, so he is a true all-round musician. Live on stage he is joined by other musicians, such as Lucy Shevchuck (Guitar/Backing Vocals), James Thorley (Keyboards), Benji Faith (Bass) and Alex Lacy (Drums/Backing Vocals), but on this CD he did everything on his own. Anyway, despite Sam is a young musician who was not alive in the 80s, his music is obviously close to the 80s pop/rock sound. The humor of cheese in the title of his first album might distract you from the fact that this is actually a high quality polished radio pop/rock album.
The Killing Floor opens the album, and right from the start you know you’re onto something special and really good. This is basically picture-perfect hookladen uptempo catchy melodic poprock/AOR like it was done 40 years ago! All the aspects and ingredients are available here, and thanks to the wonderful mastering of the legendary JON ASTLEY (ABBA, COREY HART, TEARS FOR FEARS, TOTO, etc. etc.), the sound is superb and classic purest AOR/Melodic Rock/80s poprock orientated. The chorus of this opening cut is deadly catchy, the keys are nicely upfront when they need to be upfront, and the soaring guitarsolo and sax at the back make this a true winner for fans of that catchy classic mid-80s AOR/Poprocksound of let’s say THE OUTFIELD, HONEYMOON SUITE, HAYWIRE, RICK SPRINGFIELD, LOVERBOY, etc. etc. It’s incredible to hear someone so young doing it exactly right, because that is what Sam is doing all throughout the album. Fooling Yourself is big-time mid-80s uptempo AOR all the way, even reminding of AVIATOR and URGENT! Although it might sound a bit polished, keyboardfriendly and lighter than the usual FRONTIERS RECORDS releases, this is definitely the real deal, kinda reminding me of the first time when I heard MAGIC DANCE about 10 years ago (before they went through the Frontiers production-line and became just another standard AOR/Melodic Rock act).
Anyway, Something I’ll Regret is a poppy midtempo radiofriendly somewhat modern sounding pop/rocker that should go down well on the radio if played regularly. The song actually reminds me of new Dutch acts like THE VICES and SON MIEUX, so it should guarantee them a hit over here if it is picked up by either Radio Veronica or NPO Radio 2! When The Summer Ends slows things a bit further down into a poppy modern direction (with still an 80s touch) that even recalls a bit of HARRY STYLES! Chardonnay sets things straight again, although this is still quite poppy, yet it has that 80s uptempo Poprock sound we all love so much. CHESNEY HAWKES meets RICK SPRINGFIELD could be a description here, so the cheese is definitely present here! Showbiz follows a similar direction, while Forget You has a sorta 70s THE SWEET glamrock touch.
Dancing On My Own is as close to the 80s as you can get, in a sorta tempo that reminds me of ELTON JOHN’s I’m Still Standing, POINTER SISTERS’ I’m So Excited or HALL & OATES, so it’s in the radio pop 1983 direction. Perhaps a bit too poppy for the AOR fans, it is definitely a catchy little tune that would do well on the radio. Déjà Vu has a Synthpop/Wave approach, yet still with the 80s AOR/Pop sound, kinda like KYLE VINCENT if anyone remembers him! Neanderthal Man picks up the 80s uptempo keyboardriven Melodic AOR/Poprock sound of RICK SPRINGFIELD again, and closing track Meet Me Halfway is a very nice 80s uptempo melodic AOR/Poprocker in the KENNY LOGGINS‘ Danger Zone style (yet with a bombastic modern radio-pop chorus). Sam is besides a good singer also quite a great guitarplayer who plays a lot of excellent soaring guitarsolo’s on the album, something you might not notice when you have a quick listen, but after several times playing this great album you can hear that Sam is truly a gifted musician. I would personally have loved to see some more songs like those first 2 songs, and perhaps a bit more rocking down the line, because Sam is definitely a rocker, but I do appreciate he follows an own poppier style that could commercially give him a boost for sure, because some of his songs have huge potential to become radio hits.
Concluded, it might all sound too good to be true, because the 80s are never closer than on this new CD, so Sam definitely nails it, but I understand that people might find it sound a bit too poppy, yet nobody can deny that More Cheese Please might become one of 2023’s catchiest album of the year! If you appreciate 80s acts like THE OUTFIELD, COREY HART, RICK SPRINGFIELD, URGENT (USA) and countless others, and do not mind a modern retro touch as well, then you will surely enjoy this lovely first album of Sam! More info
Written by: Gabor Kleinbloesem